Links 12/18/19

Yves here. Abject apologies for the dearth of original posts. I am buried under year end stuff, which has blown up for reasons not under my control.

Scientists discover dogs can do math, too Inverse. My favorite cat Blake could clearly count to four. He very much liked the taste of his vitamins, and he got four every day. He would look around the floor if he didn’t get all four or one had been placed away from the others and he didn’t see it right away. He’d never go hunting for more if he had gotten all four.

Family Saves Squirrel, Lets Him Chill In Their Christmas Tree White Wolf (furzy)

‘Walking’ Bicycle Is a Genuine Engineering Delight Nerdist (David L)

How a Whale Crashed Bitcoin To Sub-$7,000 Overnight NewsBTC

There’s a 60,000-Year-Old Way to Help Stop Australia Burning Bloomberg (furzy)


Donald Trump’s ‘soybean solution’ to the US-China trade war is much ado about nothing South China Morning Post (furzy)


India Adopts the Tactic of Authoritarians: Shutting Down the Internet New York Times (J-LS)

Scroll Investigation: Amit Shah’s all-India NRC has already begun – with the NPR Scroll (J-LS)

Pervez Musharraf, Former Pakistani Leader, Sentenced to Death New York Times (Bill B)


Brexit: Lower British courts to overrule EU law The Times

Michael Gove fails to rule out no-deal Brexit Guardian

Labour’s Defeat Is Being Overstated ConsortiumNews (Chuck L, Robert H)

Jeremy Corbyn will whip Labour MPs to oppose the Government’s Brexit deal on Friday The Times. Why is Corbyn still around?

General election 2019: Tony Blair warns Labour not to ‘whitewash’ reasons for poll defeat BBC

One in 200 are homeless in England, charity reveals Financial Times (Kevin W)

The Global Judges: EU Prepares Global Sanctions Regime German Foreign Policy (Micael)

New Cold War

Last-ditch attempt to stop Nord Stream 2: US Senate passes Pentagon budget that includes Russian pipeline sanctions RT (Kevin W)

Big Brother Is Watching You

Facebook says California’s new privacy law doesn’t apply to its trackers. These lawyers disagree. Vox (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The US wants to expand foreign troop training Asia Times (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

Judge blasts FBI over misleading info for surveillance of Trump campaign adviser The Hill. As BC said on a paywalled version of this story> “It’s behaviors like this in “Crossfire Hurricane” that boil my outrage when the impeachment cabal claims to be only motivated “to protect the Constitution”.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sues Trump administration over courthouse immigration arrests Seattle Times (furzy)

Trump says Armenia massacres were not genocide, directly contradicting Congress BBC (resilc).

1 Big Winner and 1 Big Loser From Congress’s Year-End Spending Deal The Fiscal Times (furzy)


Schumer indicates Democrats will force votes on impeachment trial witnesses The Hill (Kevin W)

Dan K: “Who writes the histories…”

Letter from President Donald J. Trump to the Speaker of the House of Representatives White House


The TV Show ‘Survivor’ Can Help Us Understand Impeachment Wired (Dr. Kevin)

Democratic Debate to Go Forward Amid Labor Dispute Progress Rolling Stone (furzy). Showing their true colors….

Bernie Sanders: Deficit hawks once again show their hypocrisy on military spending Washington Post (furzy)

You Might Be Buying Trash on Amazon—Literally Wall Street Journal. Kudos to the Journal for real investigative reporting. Recall that the Journal earlier did a very long Amazon expose on how they sold defective goods from China (a case study was a substandard helmet that failed to adequately protect the son who received it from his mother as a gift, resulting in his death. Experts said a helmet that had been up to normal standards would almost certainly enabled him to survive).

Amazon sellers are the latest casualty from the company’s spat with FedEx CNBC

How globalization may explain consistently low inflation rates The Hill. Resilc: “Race to the bottom.”

CalPERS approves new alternatives investment policy Pensions & Investments (Kevin W)

Microsoft Starts Showing Non-Removable Ads In Windows 10 Mail, Calendar Apps MSPowerUser

Responsible business: is this time different? Financial Times (David L)

Guillotine Watch

Self-Driving Mercedes Will Be Programmed To Sacrifice Pedestrians To Save the Driver Fast Company (Dr. Kevin)

Class Warfare

Google Is Going To War Against Its Own Workers Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Among the World’s Most Dire Places: This California Homeless Camp New York Times (resilc)

Steve Bannon: ‘We’ve turned the Republicans into a working-class party’ Guardian (JTM)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Barmitt O'Bamney

      It’s The Seinfeld Impeachment – a show that’s really about nothing. Lots of silliness and red in the face hysterical ranting arising from the character defects of all involved. Let’s hope that it ends the same way as the TV series did.

    1. Carolinian

      They could be both. When the clever rodents chew wires in your attic or empty out your bird feeder they reveal their dark side….

      1. DJG

        Carolinian: I am not sure that gray squirrels have much of a dark side. It’s just that, at least in Chicago, they are ubiquitous. Every tree has a squirrel’s nest in it.

        The “darkest” squirrel-event that has happened to me recently was on a weekend this summer as I walked to get the morning cup of coffee. A slice of pizza fell from the sky and landed on the sidewalk in front of me.

        The cause: Chicago squirrels love pizza. I see them dragging and eating slices fairly regularly. An upset squirrel ran down a tree trunk to wait till I was safely away from its flying breakfast. They seem to be good at finding cookies, too.

      2. shtove

        They even had a hand in the UK’s recent election – the leader of the Liberal Democrats called them “baxtards” for their media campaign against her.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        They’ve chewed the wires in a family car. We have to put out mothballs and park it over them.

        Having said that, I am told rats make nice pets….but they only live two years. I couldn’t take having a pet that would not be around for long.

    2. JohnnySacks

      Um, they are rats with bushy tails, the decision regarding their cuteness or pet worthiness is entirely subjective.
      My subjectivity is what it is: wholly based upon my nurturing of fruit trees in a locale where there are no natural predators to keep their population in check. A role I wasn’t interested in playing and am not happy to play after my apple trees were stripped bare in 2 days.

    3. HotFlash

      They just won’t domesticate and random-interval conditioning won’t work on them. No food, no trick — simple as that. I have raised several orphaned or lost baby squirrels, they have a little squirrel manual in their heads that turns a new page every day. That internal manual seems to over-ride all ‘training’. They taught themselves to go out and in the window, then to climb a tree, then go from tree to tree. They seem to learn by venturing, then retracing their paths to home, next day they venture further, and so on, until everything in their territory is mapped. Brothers Velcro and Post-it stayed out longer and longer each day, then one night didn’t come home. They showed up the next day, though, and stayed in that night. The next day they went out again, didn’t come back til morning, but when they did it was to raid Kleenex from the dresser. They spent most of the day coming in and out for tissues, feathering their new bachelor pad. They still came back for nuts and nesting material from time to time, but less and less often, until they didn’t come in at all, and we couldn’t tell them from the regular wild squirrels we fed.

      A friend whose family had kept a squirrel as a pet told me that they had to keep her in a cage and that she always wanted to get out. They would have let her go, since she clearly wans’t happy, but they didn’t because she was blind.

    4. Wukchumni

      Chickarees are the diva of the squirrel set in the Sierra, flitting from ground to forest and back and forth like a dervish, their voice substantially louder than their small frame.

    5. Oregoncharles

      If you have nut trees, they look more like arboreal rats all the time. As JohnnySacks said, they also go after fruit – including harvested fruit ripening on your porch.

      They can also make a dismaying, unsanitary mess of outbuildings.

      Cute, maybe, but bad neighbors.

      1. scoff

        Since our red husky passed a few years ago the pear trees in our yard haven’t produced any fruit, for us that is. Annie kept them out of the trees while she was around, but with her passing the squirrels now have free rein, and we get no pears.

  1. Clive

    Re: Labour’s Defeat is Being Overstated

    Another must-read for U.K. audiences. The first article that I’ve seen which is a comprehensive explanation for the election result and, more importantly, Brexit. And not just the 2016-vintage Brexit, but the subsequently emerged Brexit right up until December’s mutations.

    There is so much wisdom to pick from, but for those without the time to read in depth the entire piece, here’s a clincher:

    Support for Brexit in England and Wales is often said to be essentially an English nationalist anti-immigrant position.

    Whilst there is some truth to this, it is important to say that English working-class voters — the voters who used to form Labour’s core electorate, and who deserted Labour in large numbers in the election — have never at any time been keen on the European Union. These voters were overwhelmingly the demographic that voted against Britain joining the European Economic Community (the lineal ancestor of today’s European Union) in the 1975 referendum, when importantly immigration from the EU was not an issue. It was also this same demographic — at that time still very much Labour’s core electorate — that pushed Labour into adopting an outright anti-Europe pro-Brexit position in the general election of 1983.

    These voters have traditionally seen the European Union as a hostile entity, aligned with elites and employers, and inimical to their interests.

    I’m often reminded, when I encounter so many incorrect assessments of Brexit, of how outside observers failed to correctly identify Japan’s long deflationary spiral. There were many studies written and many opinions offered, but it was not until I read a piece by a Japanese national which provided the clarification I’d been shielded from. In that article, it was pointed out that Japan had had a long history of flirting with deflation — a history going back decades. So when a significant deflationary event hit Japan at the end of the 1980’s, it simply amplified what it was already predisposed to.

    The same applies to Brexit. The U.K. was never especially pro-EU. Even at the highest of the high watermark, EU membership was only supported by around 65%-ish of the population. Anything which is vulnerable to a 15% swing in public opinion could never afford to rest on its laurels. It was always going to need to battle, to some degree, to cement its hold on the national political landscape.

    Remain (it wasn’t, of course, called that before 2016, but it’s a handy moniker) not only failed to understand and act on this, it actively served to undermine what should have been its priority (agitating for continued EU membership on the basis of what the EU is) but allowed itself to become a damaging intellectual dilettante by substituting a hard-nosed assessment of the pluses and minuses of EU membership (after which, it would have communicated more effectively how, while the EU may have some downsides — and come up with policy responses to these — it still had upsides) for a ridiculous EU-as-identity-politics alternative.

    The moment Remain started treating support for EU membership as a virtue signal for Remain’ers to flash, signifying their globalist, internationalist, multicultural and liberal values, it was sunk.

    1. Redlife2017

      Too bad we don’t have upvote buttons. Your last sentence is a great summary of why Remain didn’t win. And didn’t win last week (again).

      1. flora

        Yes. ( In a different context it could explain how the US Dem estab is alienating so many of its former core voters, imo.) Thanks.

        1. davidgmillsatty

          Exactly. First they did it to the Democrats in the South and now they have done it to the Midwest. The Democrats have become the party of the urban coasts and a few scattered metropolises in between.

    2. @pe

      George Orwell: Such, Such Were The Joys

      Why (as an outsider) do these vestiges of pre-1914 UK seem to still map onto the media landscape, the phantasmagoria, of the British political classes? The depth of class division in a very old fashioned, British Empire, 19th century sense which reverberates with feudalism?

      I tender that there’s a whole lot less rationalism going on in the UK, and a whole lot more psychodrama going on.

      1. Clive

        While it is very tempting, when faced with a complex set of choices and sometimes unknowable outcomes, to ascribe the forces driving you to such a place to vague, mysterious and unfathomable influences, it’s not entirety convincing.

        Because peel away the big picture, 30,000 ft view generalities, you are confronted with some solid, easy to quantify bread-and-butter questions.

        Let’s take, for example, the upcoming UK/EU FTA negotiations. These are, of course, a political matter because of Brexit. So Brexit has, unarguably, forced a new decision into the political consciousness of the electorate (or revealed a decision which was previously hidden). During the negotiations, the UK will almost certainly be faced with a choice as to whether to acquire (or re-acquire, to be accurate) exclusive fishing rights in UK territorial waters. These may need to be traded away in order to protect autoworkers (by allowing tariff-free access for finished vehicles and components into the EU and regulatory alignment to allow UK certification bodies to verify type approvals and so on).

        You might not be placed in the position of having to decide what to do for the best. But I, along with UK-resident readers most certainly am. Now, for me, I can (and, indeed, have) made my own mind up that, if the UK is placed in this either\or choice by the EU, then fisheries access wins. This is because, on my analysis, fisheries is currently 1% of GDP and has, assuming that currently non-UK fisheries industries relocate back to the UK (I am simplifying somewhat here, but I don’t want to take up too much comment space, so this’ll have to do) then this could easily grow to up to 3% of GDP, roughly what autos contribute. And why, given this choice between two business areas have I “picked a winner” here? Because nowhere, in any palatable projection of transportation options for the future, does passenger cars feature. Nor in any economic priority. Auto production is, unfortunately, the 21st century equivalent of UK deep mined coal in the 1980’s.

        Conversely, food security and the sensitive management of the seas and fish stocks would seem to me to have a big future.

        Plenty of rationalism from me there, then, which is what you’d expect. That, of course, is only my opinion. I am, frankly, though, astonished at how I see — when faced with this question — some progressives genuflect themselves before the car industry (and the huge international capital concerns which underpin it) like it (and they) are some Holy Relic. What, I ask myself, are they thinking? But no doubt people who would make the opposite decision to the one I’ve come to could explain themselves better.

        But… but… did you see what I did there? I can only sit here, safe in the security of my own insurmountable cleverness by having — implicitly — thrown the current fisheries workers in France, Belgium and Denmark under a bus (and potentially other EU Member States, too, my knowledge isn’t that detailed on how the industry is located). Who the Hell I am to do that? Isn’t that just Begger my Neighbour’ing?

        Oh, but… but… but… isn’t the EU, in the reported approach to the FTA negotiation, also doing it’s bit of Begger Thy Neighbour?

        On and on I could go. I’ll stop here, I think I’ve made my point. This is simply one facet of one part of what the EU adds to the political, economic, sovereignty and cultural make-ups of its Member States. While this- or that- Member State is content to sit, happily, in the EU, all this awful, ghastly complexity can stay safely out of sight — and out of people’s minds.

        No wonder, I often think to myself, people are so content to let it all get shovelled off into a dark corner of their psyches called “the EU”. So I can agree to a point that this all does end up — due to the complexity and overwhelming number of decisions and choices which people, certainly in the UK will now have to face (which is enough to produce a psychodrama in anyone!) — in a huge mental muddle, the alternative, which is to simply be reactionary and, irony of ironies, as this is a charge so often levelled at Leave by Remain, yearn for the Good Old Days of unquestioning EU membership where everything was so much simpler, isn’t for me.

        1. Anonymous 2

          Are you sure of your figures here? The last time I looked at the official statisitcs, fish landed by UK boats was valued at £1bn p.a. which in a £2tn economy is 0.05 of 1 per cent.

          1. avoidhotdogs

            Actually Clive’s figure is ballpark correct. You must calculate net present value of the annual amounts. If you use 5% return and over 30 years then quick mental arithmetic (IIRC) makes it about 1% of GDP.

            1. Anonymous 2

              But in that case is the comparison with the value of the car industry correctly done? I would be surprised if the NPV of automobile manufacture – and its associated industries – would be as low as 3% of current UK GDP – unless one assumes it is already gone?

      2. eg

        “I tender that there’s a whole lot less rationalism going on in the UK, and a whole lot more psychodrama going on.”

        Just in the UK?

        Humanity — longest running comedy in the cosmos …

    3. Ed

      I agree that the article is excellent, and actually is the first commentary on the election result that relies on electoral data and electoral history and discusses the options available to the leadership.

      I had thought it was pretty obvious that the switch from an ambiguous pro-leave position in 2017 to an ambiguous pro-remain position in 2019 was a key factor, but the writer makes the argument that Labour was facing losses in London to the Liberal Democrats on a much bigger scale than I had realized, so they basically had to accept the loss in 2019 to keep the Liberal Democrats from supplanting them as the anti-Tory alternative in the cities. But the writer also argues that the party leadership should have stayed well away from the anti-Brexit parliamentary maneuvers and let the government be saddled with their eventual deal with the EU, which would have been unpopular with everyone.

      1. Summer

        “But the writer also argues that the party leadership should have stayed well away from the anti-Brexit parliamentary maneuvers and let the government be saddled with their eventual deal with the EU, which would have been unpopular with everyone.”

        That they didn’t do the obvious in the face of oppositional resolve may say more about dealing with the EU and what they really think of the deals on offer.

        Reminding me that I kept saying “looks like it is no-deal or remain.”

        Well, now that remain is off the table….

    4. David

      I was going to post a strongly positive comment as well, but as usual Clive beat me to it.
      I agree this is an extremely good and useful piece for understanding the election results. I think it will become clear that the Tories were extremely lucky, rather than anything else. They jumped through a small and temporary window of opportunity that presented itself, at a time when both Labour and the LDs were in a mess.
      Just a few points enlarging on Clive’s last couple of paragraphs, which reflect a worry that several of us have expressed over the last few weeks. To generalise, I think “Remain” was never really about loyalty to, or even great interest in Europe and European institutions. It wasn’t about the UK playing a leading role in Europe (it could have, but never did) or even the economic advantages, which tended to be expressed negatively (“if we leave we’re buggered”). “Remain” was essentially a rejection of England and English culture and history. Europe was simply the latest incarnation of an anti-England, which stood for what Orwell called “the patriotism of the deracinated.” In the 1930s, he accused intellectuals (the “Remainers” of the day) of taking their politics from Moscow and their cooking from Paris. What he meant by that was that for educated people of broadly liberal opinions, England was just too embarrassing, so they identified with somewhere else. It’s instructive to see how often and how frequently the British ruling class has looked abroad for models: Moscow, yes, but also Berlin and Rome, and of course most obviously Washington. It’s arguable that the Remainers (all staunch atlanticists) shifted their allegiance to Brussels when support for Washington became a liability. But in all cases the underlying argument was the same: we are cosmopolitan, internationalist, tolerant, forward looking, rational etc. etc. You are primitive and stuck in the past, you miserable little people. In turn, this comes from having a ruling class which for a thousand years has come from abroad (Iceland, the Low Countries, France, Germany etc.) and has viewed the English as essentially a colonised people. So espousing Remain has little to do with the virtues of EU membership, which were considerable and could have been greater. It has everything to do with presenting yourself as part of an international elite, not really English at all, and recognising others from the same background, with whom you feel an affinity. What we’ve just been through is a kind of Peasants’ Revolt, only this time the peasants have won. Think about that for a minute.

      1. russell1200

        I think your points are well made, but I take exception to the idea that Brexit is a small temporary window, any more than NAFTA (see Otis below) would be. Brexit/NAFTA are emblematic of the problem that Labour/Democrats have with what was once their core constituency.

        1. David

          Badly expressed; I was thinking in purely tactical terms. The Tories benefited from a short period when the political terms of trade were in their favour to call an election, on a subject which in principle has been historically destructive to them. I quite agree that Brexit itself is a much longer term issue: I was supporting the argument that we should be careful about reading more into this result than it will take.

          1. JEHR

            NAFTA was not a problem as long as the discussion for change was on a level playing field: but once one of the members became a bully and used tariffs and threats to get the deal he wanted, then it became something else altogether. Negotiation with a bully is always a trying ordeal.

            1. JTMcPhee

              NAFTA was ALWAYS a “problem” — the bully of course being the global corporate entity, and the kid getting his lunch money taken and his head pushed into the toilet was the Mopery on all “sides.”

        2. W. S. Gilbert

          “It’s instructive to see how often and how frequently the British ruling class has looked abroad for models: Moscow, yes, but also Berlin and Rome, and of course most obviously Washington.”

          British Ruling-class Gentleman: the view from Tittipoo: “the idiot who praises, in enthusiastic tones, all centuries but this and every country but his own”

      2. Clive

        It is even worse than anyone, I think, certainly in the general population, could ever even begin to imagine.

        To take my example of UK fisheries, for example, worked through in a little longer form in an earlier comment, let’s say that I am, rather than Johnson, the UK Prime Minister. When, at the end of January next year, I suddenly acquire (or regain) an asset — UK exclusive fisheries access — what should I do with this newly bookable asset? He (or I, in my thought-experiment) might decide to sell it on the open market. Okay, it’s hardly Saudi Aramco we’re talking about here. Let’s call it “UK FishCo”.

        How much is that asset worth? Clearly, an indefinite licence for exclusive access to UK fisheries (with a 2-year unilateral in-vocable break-clause, aka Article 50 of the TFEU) is worth something. But what, exactly? Well, we, or I, could do an IPO and see.

        Wouldn’t that be fun?

        But this is exactly what the EU has done — it has suppressed pricing signals and price discovery for the UK for over forty years. Any claim that the EU is somehow “more efficient capitalism” is delusional. What it is is capitalism simplified because a lot of asset prices and market-making are removed from the realm of the free market. The UK’s return, via Brexit, to a much more visible and open set of supply/demand and offer/acceptance variables — and the world’s re-balancing to accommodate this — is going to be pretty astonishing.

        And the EU must never, ever, be allowed to go the same way as Brexit. Any further destabilisation of the EU could render the entire stable, robust (-ish) edifice liable to sudden collapse. The world’s financial — and political — systems could never withstand this sort of abrupt chaotic unleashing onto the financial exchanges and markets of such a tsunami of thousands of different industries and asset classes looking to instantly reprice themselves like my “UK FishCo” example.

        I’m really not that bright. I can overlook things that are literally right under my nose for years. But if even I can suss this out, far clever people than I must be well aware of it. One wonders, then, why it is never the subject for discussion. Anyhow, the resistance to the UK peasantry is, once I finally realised this nuance, not really that surprising. But no way will any other Member States’ peasants be allowed to repeat this reaction. Nor should they be allowed to.

        1. skk

          Umm, on the fisheries example, is it really a UK asset, as in unfettered, undisputed recognised as your exclusive property ? I ask because I remember the Cod War, no it wasn’t a sketch in Black Adder in Elizabethan times – it was:

          The Cod Wars (Icelandic: Þorskastríðin, “the cod wars”, or Landhelgisstríðin, “the wars for the territorial waters”) were a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland on fishing rights in the North Atlantic. Each of the disputes ended with an Icelandic victory.[1][2][3] The Third Cod War concluded in 1976, with a highly favourable agreement for Iceland;

          So if the UK decide its theirs and theirs alone, if past is prologue they’ll have to fight to keep what they’ve regained and if past is prologue they will lose.

          I only slight jest, I do agree that the EU did a lot of things in terms of non-EU and intra-EU nation negotiations – or rather the UK ceded their ‘rights’ to the EU and now they get to go it alone and do the negotiating alone, as before.
          Hey maybe not so bad.. That’s sovereignty after all. Don’t we all strive for it – self-determination ?

          Incidentally the UK got €243.1m in subsidies from the EU between 2014 and 2020. which is €25 p.a. or so. That will end.

          O well, sovereignty and self-determination are neither cheap nor easy. Somebody should talk about not just the struggle FOR independence but the struggle after that. And that’s for individuals and nations.. But its so fulfilling surely ?

          1. Clive

            Remembering of course that Iceland left the EU over fishing rights. See here for a good summary of Iceland’s in-out in-out shake-it-all-about membership of the EU — including its Schrodinger’s Cat look-ee like-ee application, that might be alive or dead.

            Perhaps a harbinger of the UK’s future relationship?

            Ah, yes, subsidies. I’m sure that this chap is absolutely delighted to receive his share, although perhaps he got a little more than €25. Speaking of any €25 or thereabouts subsidy, I’m not sure what happened to mine, maybe it got lost in the post. Jesting aside, this neatly illustrates the issue I’ve been harping on about — trace-ability. It’s impossible to know whether you’re a net beneficiary of EU direct subsidies, inherent-but-invisible cross subsidies that you take advantage of or are a plain-old net loser.

            When something is so complicated you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. This is why EU membership was such a tough sell. “Take our word for it, it’s a net gain”, campaigned Remain. “We don’t believe you” countered Leave.

        2. John A

          Apropos fishing rights, apart from the fishermen, I dont think the general population of Britain cares about fish. The Spanish and French already buy a high proportion of the catch landed in Britain. Afew years ago, I was in Rye on the south coast where I bought local scallops alive on the full shell, and the fishmonger lamented the fact that most of the scallop catch goes to the continent (who pay more at auction). Shortly afterwards, I was in a Marks and Spencer food hall about 25km inland from Rye and saw they had shelled scallops in plastic trays without the ‘coral’, labelled with the proud boast ‘air-freighted for freshness’. Wondering why air-freighting was necessary for such a short journey, I saw the country of origin was Newfoundland. Mindboggling.

          1. Clive

            The question isn’t what people care about it. The question is, what is the net present value of it, whether the asset would suffer significant impairment as a result of loss of access to the EU Single Market and whether the valuation applied to it in the FTA negotiation is a fair or unfair one.

            This is, which is why I’m using it as worked, easily-understandable example, in essence what the FTA negotiations are trying to do.

            To accept “continued close alignment with the EU” (the phrasing differs, but usually this kind of terminology is applied to the description) is to accept the current EU valuations for the U.K.’s capital base in respect of EU trade. “Take the deal on the table”, say the EU in effect, “it’s the best offer you’ll get”. Conversely, either no FTA or a lightweight FTA is, somewhat simplistically, saying that the EU is underpricing this capital base.

            In the absence of a complete parallel universe to spin up as a test environment, no-one can say with absolute certainty what “correct” looks like here. It boils down to theory, some fairly crude models and faith. The stuff of classic market speculation, in other words. If anyone knew how to predict this kind of futurology with total certainty, there would be no such thing as markets. People would simply “know” the correct pricing.

            1. RMO

              John A: You can’t seriously expect the shoppers at Marks & Spencer to stoop to eating scallops caught by some lower-class, surely xenophobic oik of a fisherman in the waters off Rye of all places, can you?

              On my first trip ever to the UK last summer I did really enjoy the seafood I had in Scotland and the North of England. The smoked salmon kind of surprised me though as, being from BC I’m used to very dry-smoked salmon. In fact, I wasn’t aware it was served any other way until the group I was with broke out the lunch ingredients on Saint Brendan’s Island.

      3. Anonymous 2

        Well I can only speak for myself and not for some disembodied ‘Remain’.

        I supported the UK’s membership principally out of two considerations: concern for truth and concern for people.

        Because of my work, which involved many years working on EU issues, including negotiations in Brussels as a representative of the UK government, I was well placed to know what was going on in reality and how untruthful was the English press’s reporting on the EU and the UK’s relationship with it. For 30 years there was a ceaseless wave of lies, half-truths and misrepresentations from English newspapers clearly designed to mislead people and give them a very false idea of the EU, how it affected the UK and the role the UK played in Brussels. I take the view that any campaign like the Leave campaign which had to rely on so much lying to persuade people to vote in its favour is fundamentally untrustworthy and that if it could not make a case based on truths then it should be rejected. I will not dwell on the racism and xenophobia which was part of the toolkit.

        I mentioned also concern for people as a major consideration for me. The economic consequences of Brexit must be expected to be damaging to the UK economy and indeed have already proved to be so. Reputable commentators estimate that the loss to the UK economy is already in the region of 3%. The UK has underperformed the rest of the EU in each of the last four years. Personally I calculate that the loss could now easily be as high as 3.5% or £70 bn p.a. This means less money available for schools, hospitals and to help the poorest and most vulnerable in society. The strains on the NHS have been exacerbated by Brexit – no other conclusion is reasonable.

        Others may think I am intolerant liberal – and it is indeed true that I abhor racism and sexism – or cosmopolitan – and it is true that because my grandfather married a French woman and my aunt a Norwegian I have cousins who are French, Norwegian and Swedish which perhaps makes me suspect in some people’s eyes. However, I make no apology for my opposition to racism and sexism – both of which have resurfaced alarmingly in the UK these last three years – or for my family links. So be it.

      4. eg

        This bit:

        “a ruling class which for a thousand years has come from abroad (Iceland, the Low Countries, France, Germany etc.) and has viewed the English as essentially a colonised people.”

        is excellent — and telling …

      1. epynonymous

        Also NATO

        The whole point of futurism is we have already won, so the flaw becomes what’s the point?

        The US military has no such illusions at the highest level, which is why they declare the current imperial spree to be “the long war” and that’s going back a decade now. Not to mention all the planned wars we just couldn’t fit in with the current ones going so badly.

        We live in the post-war period still and then the post-cold-war period. Eventually, people are going to wake up and start thinking about today, and our positioning regarding China is really just the tip of that iceberg. The world is finite and history has a funny way of repeating. Nativism has yet to even begin in this country, being much more advanced and open in conservative circles in Europe and Japan right now.

        The technology that won the last war is obsolete, and in a nuclear world the only sane methods of conflict are now fringe proxy wars and the ideological front. While the EU bought us time, ultimately it will lead to a predictably corrupt but relatively independent Europe and by extension the UK.

        The other shoe will drop, and the ‘unexpected’ part of consequences will start being felt as things keep moving this way.

      2. Danny

        And immigration.
        The perceived enemy seems to be white liberals.
        Some of the most active Trump supporters I know are legal immigrants. I was mystified by this. Finally, I interviewed a recently naturalized professor of languages from Mexico about this.

        “I speak with these people every day. The violence, poverty, drugs and corruption that we left behind is now coming here. How would you like it if many meth addicts from Appalachia moved into your neighborhood and left garbage all over, old cars with the hood up, bought and sold drugs in the schools, some spoke with a dialect so odd you couldn’t understand them, or they spoke some completely different language, like German or Frisian, and you were lumped in with them by advocacy groups that point at your hard work, your patience, your rule following, and your success, as reasons to move unlimited numbers of them to California. Trump is an idiot, but he is our idiot.”

        In the San Francisco Bay area, The first generation Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, and especially their adult children, are also often very conservative and accomplished. They support Trump. Most have succeeded without any job creation programs or half century old excuses why they cannot advance.

        1. Trent

          “In the San Francisco Bay area, The first generation Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, and especially their adult children, are also often very conservative and accomplished. Most have succeeded without any job creation programs or half century old excuses why they cannot advance.”

          And why do you think that is? I would venture its because they stick together. I noticed a similar thing with the Jewish Community in Pittsburgh. While other neighborhoods were ravished by the steel mills closing in the 80’s, Sq Hill never missed a beat. These people actually have community, and generally its because they all have a shared group of values. Compare that to many other groups in America today.

        2. Adam1

          “The perceived enemy seems to be white liberals.”

          I like your wording. It’s true. I stopped identifying as a liberal a few years ago.

          When modern day liberal, “identify” politics became the mainstay of the Democratic party it was easy for working class white Democrats to be indifferent or to unhappily accept it. The party and country also supported full employment policies; they weren’t being left in the cold. Then came the neoliberal era. Full employment went out the window and the working class got left in the cold. They watch their factories close; they watched their jobs get shift overseas; they watch immigration policy create this massive pool of people willing to work for less than them (illegals); and they watch Democrats promise all sorts of new programs for everyone but them – save retraining classes for jobs that don’t exist in their towns. And when everything blew up in 2008 the elites got bailed and they got more of the same – nothing.

          And the liberal elites wonder why so many of these people have turned into what they see as xenophobic nationalist?!?!

    5. Joe Well

      He ends that article by saying Labour will live to fight another day.

      But isn’t that day at least 5 years away, and isn’t Labour irrelevent in the meantime?

      1. Grant

        “But isn’t that day at least 5 years away, and isn’t Labour irrelevent in the meantime?”

        Well, the Conservatives have to actually govern though. Will their policies actually make things better? The question will be, it seems, who gets blamed when their policies cause mass misery and who is in the opposition? Here in the US, it isn’t hard to show how horrible the right’s policies are. But, who leads the opposition party? Biden, Hoyer, Pelosi, Schumer, Clinton, Obama, Perez, etc. Who are the Democratic talking heads in the oligarch media? Horrible, self-serving, entitled people. If Labour ignores that its actual economic platform under Corbyn was largely popular and goes to people like Pelosi, Biden or Blair, then what choices will voters have at that time? A leftist economic program won’t be on the menu, so what will people vote on and what will determine if they even vote?

        But, people, when analyzing politics there, should think about the Conservatives actually governing and what impact their policies will have. Having said that, we will have more time in which the environment will have gotten progressively worse, and anger will by then have grown. So, if the left in the UK wants to be in a position to put in place large structural changes, and rapidly, it should get out and organize, get back into working class communities and focus on explaining why things are going to hell. If it has alternative policies and institutions, organizes around them, it could be a new day. The oligarch media will still be a challenge though.

        Is there anyone in Corbyn’s rough ideological area that is more popular and may handle the propaganda war better?

        1. Anonymous 2

          I fear it is too late. The Tories will make use of the next five years to impose radical and irreversible changes to the UK by means of, for example, a trade agreement with the US which will prevent any future left-wing policies ever being implemented by a UK government. Unlike EU membership, there will be no way out permitted.

          Not only will the Tories move the goalposts, they will change the contours of the pitch altogether. Voter suppression, moving boundaries for constituencies, any other trick that you can think of will be introduced.

          The current Tory Cabinet may not be very bright but there will be people pulling their strings behind the scene who are very sharp and completely ruthless. I would love to be wrong but I think England is entering a very long dark age, though we Scots may escape.

          1. Grant

            Well, when I say that the left has to be ready, I don’t just mean by working within the political system, which the far right has rigged. I think direct action and far more radical action overall will be needed. It makes sense to work within a political system if the game is fair. But it isn’t. The left has to fight in a system that puts it in a massive handicap. It’s like playing a soccer match but giving one side a three goal lead and with the refs on take. If people want to continue to play that game on those terms, fine, but it might make sense to force a new game on the teams and to put in place some impartial refs.

            The environmental crisis is coming very fast, and people on the right can talk all they want about free markets, but it is a fantasy. We will have to put in place a form of far more comprehensive planning. But, if the far right is in power, it will be a very authoritarian form of planning. If they get what they want on policy in the meantime, the situation will get progressively worse at an exponential rate, which means that the scale of planning will be even wider and the changes will have to happen more rapidly. The planning itself will suffer from the authoritarian nature of the planning, as information needed for the planning to work will get negatively impacted by how authoritarian and top down it all is. Capitalism, not just neoliberal capitalism, led us here and it can’t get us out.

        2. ambrit

          Trump’s actual policy moves in America should put fear into the hearts of Labour stalwarts.
          He has consistently pushed an ultra-conservative domestic agenda. I am tempted to call Trump’s domestic agenda ‘Reactionary.’
          “Immigrants” of all stripes are being demonized. This is bad because the underlying factors that drive the waves of labour degrading immigration are screened from rational public debate by the emotionalist posturings and the performance art that is currently known as American Politics.
          Any regulations that restrict the business and financial class’s unlimited ability to extract wealth from the commonwealth are being rolled back.
          Trade protectionism is being promoted for America, without any concomitant program for the re-importation of industry and jobs. The beneficiaries here are the traders, not the producers.
          A robust police state is being legitimized within America. A bad sign for one and all.
          All this is to point out that, in America, the Democrat Party has abandoned it’s prior role of representing the ‘lower classes’ of America in the political sphere. Thus, it is no wonder that someone like Trump can come in ‘from left field’ and hoover up the disaffected ex-Democrat working class voters to gain power. That is Politics. What he does with the power so gained, is Policy. The two, Politics and Policy, are not always aligned.
          So, to organize the ‘labouring classes,’ one needs actual committed ‘leftists.’ Trump, and now Johnson, have shown that, the Right is equally capable of motivating the masses. The motivation may not necessarily go in a direction beneficial to those ‘motivated masses.’ Pointing that out to the people, as you point out yourself, is the primary task now.
          Labour needs a Revival. ‘Revival’ in the old time religious sense.
          Either way, expect the near future to be filled with ‘Fire and Brimstone.’

          1. Carey

            >A robust police state is being legitimized within America. A bad sign for one and all.

            ‘With Little Fanfare, William Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program’:

            “..Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the memorandum is Barr’s frank admission that many of the “early engagement” tactics that the new program would utilize were “born of the posture we adopted with respect to terrorist threats.” In other words, the foundation for many of the policies utilized following the post-9/11 “war on terror” are also the foundation for the “early engagement” tactics that Barr seeks to use to identify potential criminals as part of this new policy. Though those “war on terror” policies have largely targeted individuals abroad, Barr’s memorandum makes it clear that some of those same controversial tactics will soon be used domestically.

            Barr’s memorandum also alludes to current practices by the FBI and DOJ that will shape the new plan. Though more specifics of the new policy will be provided in the forthcoming notice, Barr notes that “newly developed tactics” used by the Joint Terrorist Task Forces “include the use of clinical psychologists, threat assessment professionals, intervention teams and community groups” to detect risk and suggests that the new “early engagement program” will work along similar lines. Barr also alludes to this “community” approach in a separate instance, when he writes that “when the public ‘says something’ to alert us to a potential threat, we must do something..”


            1. ambrit

              Good catch there.
              The “see something, say something” sets up a dynamic where someone who “sees” something and says nothing, a perfectly reasonable philosophy, by the way, will be subject to “guilt by association” with the “terrorist” or whatever “crime” is being utilized for the old ‘divide and rule’ ethos.
              One of the major evils that always comes with a police state is the evil of informers. That evil always degenerates into the rise of a class of “professional informer.” People will ‘monetize’ informing. Just let the intended ‘criminal’ know that you ‘have the goods’ on them, even where no crime has occurred, and demand payment for your silence. Soon enough, an ‘arms’ race begins, where the State bids up the price of the ‘information’ in the possession of the informers. The ultimate defense against informers is murder. Just as, in pirate lore, “Dead men tell no tales,” in informer lore, “Dead informers tell no tales.” Unfortunately, the opposite is just as equally applicable.
              As an example of the corruption of societal mores that the “early engagement programs” will lead to, just read up on the social conditions extant in China during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Supposedly, hundreds of thousands of ‘Class Enemies’ were killed by cadre led and agitated village mobs.
              Don’t think that such couldn’t happen here. (I have had encounters with exactly the sort of person who would burn me at the stake for my expressed views if it were societally sanctioned. Recently no less.)
              History is not a supernatural entity. It does not have agency. Conditions in the human sphere can go “backwards” just as easily as ‘they’ can go “forwards.”

      2. a different chris

        Well I’m probably the last one to provide an answer of any value, but the “5 years” in a Parliamentary system can be interrupted by a “no-confidence” vote, yes?

        The seas are going to be really stormy for at least the next 5 years -I have claimed 10 easy-, and BoJo is completely incapable of real leadership. They are in (sorry to keep pushing the naval analogies) for some rough sailing and the whole Tory thing may capsize as unexpectedly as the Brexit vote succeeded.

        The problem for the Torys is (Tories? are? head hurtz why can’t they speak proper English over there?)
        1) I objected in an earlier thread to Otis’ statement roughly that “they think this will be easy”, but there will be a substantial Leave minority that will think that way.
        2) The rest of them will think it’s hard, but that means they are going to watch Parliament like a hawk and in general have their own ideas about everything. Which likely means that no matter what Tory leadership does a majority will oppose it (but not have a coherent alternate).

        Invest in popcorn futures if you are lucky enough not to live there.

      3. David

        There are a number of objective problems that are about to hit the Tory Party.
        First, the realisation by the electorate that Brexit, far from being “done,” has only just started, and that 2020 will be as full of hysterical drama and chronic crisis as 2019, if not more so. But the issues will be a lot more complex than “in” or “out.” And the full force of the Withdrawal Agreement will apply, as will the results of the Northern Ireland stitch-up. Many will be surprised to learn that we are effectively still in the EU.
        Second, the issues for 2020 will be related to the future relations of the UK with the EU. A lot of people thought this had been settled, and will be surprised, if not more, to find out just how many things need to be negotiated. There are bitter divisions within the Tory Party, and within the Cabinet, over most of the elements of the future relationship, and it’s hard to see how compromises can be found in a party which is so dysfunctional with a leader incapable of chairing a meeting of a local sports club. It’s likely, in fact, that the absence of any awareness on the part of most of the Tory Party of what the issues are, together with a complete absence of analysis and planning, will mean that the EU (who are working busily away) will dictate the terms again because they will have the documents already written.
        Third, this is a government which is unutterably incompetent. Johnson should not even be a Minister, still less a PM; He reminds me of one of the House of Commons “characters” from the 60s or 70s, who were good for a laugh, but never given any real responsibility. There is no longer a Civil Service machine behind to throw a lifebelt. The first crisis this government has to encounter risks being the last as well.
        No opposition is ever entirely irrelevant. I don’t know how Labour will play the next few years, but I do know what an open goal looks like.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I agree the Tory party is going to look like Sideshow Bob at a rake conference over the next few years, the problem is that Labour had an open goal after the last election too and still managed to miss. Whatever the next government looks like I doubt it will be Labour under its current structures. Its simply not fit for purpose.

          1. David

            I agree. It’s our old friend the necessary but not sufficient condition. Now, where is Denis
            Healey ….

          2. witters

            Wasn’t Brexit in the way of that open goal? And was it not your view that Labour had to oppose Brexit? Then I look at the electoral data…

    6. skk

      The early part of the article is just slicing and dicing numbers, torturing the data I ( used ) to call it, to produce numbers that seemingly back the conclusion – that the defeat is misrepresented, overstated – pinning that down to the analysis of the phrase “worst defeat since the 1930s”. BFD. Beating people up for their flourish of rhetoric – who the hell cares if about all you achieve is a switch of phrase from “worst” to pretty bad, or since the 70s, not 30s..
      IT WILL STILL PRETTY BAD. One shouldn’t waste time on such trivia. O wait, I too just did.

      As regards the rest – it was about Leave/Remain, it was about towns / cities, it was young / old, about Labours two faced policy it has been talked out already.

      The one new thing I’ve come up with is the Labour leadership’s Parliamentary tactics over the last year – which was to support frustrating May’s deal and prevent its implementation. Even then, if one is set on that, then one has to see it thru. Why on the earth at the last moment allow Boris’ deal to pass. Even worse, vote for a general election.
      If one says quack one has to say duck. Once you settled on a strategy of using the hung Parliament tactically then one should see that thru to the bitter end, whatever the goading of frit ( yes I know Maggie said that in that different context , not Boris) , and internal splits until there is an outcome that is totally in one’s own calculated interests.
      I for one was amazed that Boris’ deal got a second reading in Parliament and not too much later Corbyn agreed to an election – after that outcome.
      I guess Corbyn calculated differently from me. But man, he’s been in active politics almost 40 years in that country. If he miscalculated like that…

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Perhaps the left dodged a bullet here, as well as the good points made above about what a poopstorm awaits the Tories, and having a hopeless leader like Bojo will only make it worse, there is the real possibility that Corbyn is so politically inept that even if Labour had won the election, it would have turned out far worse for them. The blame for the whatever lies directly ahead will inevitably land squarely in the lap of the Conservative Party, it won’t take a great leader to leverage that politically, just one far more effective and charismatic to the general electorate than Corbyn. And that appears to be a very low bar to clear.

        We tend to focus on policies here, but quality of leadership is absolutely essential. Is there no one on the left in the entire kingdom that possesses the qualities to effectively lead? Remember, you only have to beat the Johnson-led Tories frantically trying to navigate that poopstorm they steered the country directly into.

    7. skippy

      Yet outside the Bernays circus to capture the imagination of the unwashed – We’re doing a cracking trade in homelessness this year. Much better than last year

      •We have child homelessness up to an impressive 135,000
      •And regular homelessness up to 280,000
      •Even the government are reporting a 23% increase on last year

      Real growth. Boom time in Tory UK

      Yet of course the Tories after 40 odd years are going to magically turn over a new leaf and become the champion of the unwashed down trodden they created for fun and profit … whilst the aforementioned get the profound gift of becoming virtuous [tm] through their suffering …

      Off to my post WWII house interior remodel with cementious walls, great discussions about health care models here and in the U.S. with the clients.

    8. Jokerstein

      These voters were overwhelmingly the demographic that voted against Britain joining the European Economic Community (the lineal ancestor of today’s European Union) in the 1975 referendum, when importantly immigration from the EU was not an issue


      This is a historical solecism – the referendum in 1975 was whether to stay in the EC, not to join it. Grocer Heath took the country in without a referendum, knowing he would lose if he called one.

      If the author couldn’t even get this right, it doesn’t say a lot for his reliability.

  2. Redlife2017

    Re: Jeremy Corbyn will whip Labour MPs to oppose the Government’s Brexit deal on Friday

    The smarter thing to do would be a “vote your conscious” sort of thing, since that’s basically what the party did for the election (kind of). I presume his reasoning is that Labour are the main opposition party. But we got the answer. Ugh. Yeah, this will help us get votes up North. Honestly, I don’t think he gets it. It pains me to say that in ways that you can’t imagine.

    Corbyn has done what McGovern did in 1972…he is the anti-politician and then did a crap job of triangulating (on Brexit in this case):
    “His [McGovern’s] whole image of being a… first a maverick, anti-politician and then suddenly becoming an expedient, pragmatic hack… kind of a… Well, he began talking like a used car salesman, sort of out of both sides of his mouth, in the eyes of the public, and he was no longer… either a maverick or an anti-politician… he was… he was no better than Hubert Humphrey and that’s not a personal judgment, that’s how he was perceived… and that’s an interesting word. “Perceive” is the word that became in the ’72 campaign what “charisma” was for the 1960, ’64 and even the ’68 campaigns. “Perceive” is the new key word.” Hunter S Thompson Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in ’72

    1. skk

      Nice. Indeed I’m amazed he did that. what’s he going to whip them with – a wet-noodle ?
      In any case, why is he still here. Oliver Cromwell’s phrase comes to mind
      “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

      But there’s dogmatism for you. Like I’ve said before – as an exasperated quip – “Jeez, even Sinn Fein has more flexibility than you”

      1. Redlife2017

        Yes. It’s the problem of thinking that the answer to the third-way contortionism of Blairism is to be an immoveable object.

    2. Gorenson

      Yes indeed. When McGovern resorted to theft of the nomination (by forcing a monolithic California delegation), imposed Eagleton as veep, and then gave his acceptance speech at an ungodly hour of the early morning, it was already clear to me that a very winnable election was lost.

      1. Carey

        Did McGovern “impose Eagleton as veep”; or was Eagleton imposed on him?
        My impression was the latter (distant memory, though).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          My memory too. And I don’t think the timing of McGovern’s acceptance speech was McGovern’s choice or plan.

  3. Winston Smith

    “Trump says Armenia massacres were not genocide, directly contradicting Congress.”
    …..And historians

    1. Redlife2017

      Watching Trump suck up to different leaders is a fascinating thing to see. Nixon never would have done that. I really dislike that Trump (and George W. Bush) make me almost long for that genocidal fascist.

      “Richard Nixon looks like a flaming liberal today, compared to a golem like George Bush. Indeed. Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?” Hunter S Thompson

      1. Pat

        And as GW Bush’s third and fourth term please don’t forget that “progressive” icon Barack Obama did the same. to update Thompson and substitute Barack Obama for Bush in that quote.

        The suck up was more laid back but just as pervasive.

        1. John Wright

          “Progressive” Obama also quietly sucked up to the neo-cons.

          I tell people to observe what Trump does, not what he blusters about.

          Obama was/is MUCH better than Trump in convincing the public that he meant to do the right thing about the wars/healthcare/environment/security state/whistleblowers/drug policy but was prevented by Republicans/circumstances/11 dimensional chess considerations.

          That George W. Bush is in the process of being publicly rehabilitated, after all the long term damage he did to the USA and the world, speaks volumes about the power of the US media and politicians of both stripes to shape US public opinion.

          Obnoxious Trump may be prevented from doing as much harm that a more palatable leader (GWB or Obama) would get away with.

    2. David

      I do wish people would stop flinging accusations of genocide around. Genocide is a crime with a highly complex and elaborate definition, which relies on discredited genetic theories for its underlying rationale, and is just about impossible to prove in a court of law. (It began as a political weapon for the West to use against the Soviet Union after WW2.) There have been a few genocide convictions over the last generation, but only because the courts have changed the definition in the Convention to suit the facts of the case. The use of “genocide” as a term of abuse began with human rights NGOs in the 1990s looking for publicity, and this began the process of retrospectively crawling through history to find some episode that could be called by that name for political advantage, and which, in a dim light, could be made to look a bit like genocide, even if, in the words of one NGOist I spoke to, that wasn’t “technically” true. The weaponisation of the concept has proceeded apace since then. It’s usually followed (as this example will be) by demands first for apologies and then for money. I find it depressing that people can seek to profit off human suffering in this way.

      1. Winston Smith

        In that case, how do you define what the Turks did to the Armenians? It would be helpful if you cited some specific examples of what you consider to be genocide…or is it that you object to the term “genocidal fascist”. I don’t mean to be sarcastic. I am merely seeking clarity as to your post.

        1. David

          I think “mass killing and expulsion” probably covers it. You could say, I suppose that if the crime of genocide had existed in 1915 and if there had been a court with jurisdiction and if senior figures in the Turkish government had been brought before the court and if the evidence against them as individuals had been strong enough, then they could as individuals have been convicted of genocide. As it happens, from what I know of this particular case, then if the crime of genocide had existed then, there’s a good chance that there would have been convictions. But don’t forget that genocide is a criminal charge against individuals, validated or otherwise by a court, not the kind of judgement that historians can make. In fact, the Genocide Convention was never designed to be used in court, and it’s doubtful if there’s a single instance since it came into force where conditions in the text have actually been fulfilled, not least because it requires differentiation of human beings into biologically separate groups, which is something that we no longer believe is the case. There have been a few convictions over the last generation, but at the cost of twisting the definition to mean something other than was intended.
          What seemed a clever idea to demonise Stalin’s treatment of national minorities in Eastern Europe after WW2 has, of course, escaped from control, as was entirely predictable. The NGO-media-industrial complex has now stuck the label on just about every episode of large scale death in history (the Irish famine, British and US bombing of German cities, Mao’s Great Leap Forward etc. etc. ) and the Right has of course picked the ball up (Rachel Carson should be charged with genocide for writing Silent Spring). When a word becomes effectively meaningless and is quite cynically used for propaganda purposes by everybody, it’s time to give it a rest.

          1. bob

            “then they could as individuals have been convicted of genocide. As it happens, from what I know of this particular case, then if the crime of genocide had existed then, there’s a good chance that there would have been convictions. But don’t forget that genocide is a criminal charge against individuals, validated or otherwise by a court, not the kind of judgement that historians can make. In fact, the Genocide Convention was never designed to be used in court”

            That has to be the most tortured both sidesism I’ve seen. Garbage.

            Did the turks try to kill all of the Armenians? By any reasonable definition yes. By a court definition, that could never be used in court, or by historians, who don’t have a say, according to you – no.

            You should give yourself a rest.


            1. David

              It’s a simple statement of fact, sorry. If you’re going to toss legal terms around (as opposed to saying “mass murder” which would be quite justified) you need to respect the rules. “Trying to kill all of the Armenians” does not equate to “genocide,” which is a criminal charge that has to be proved. Go and read the definition of genocide in the Convention, and think about it.

                1. David

                  Wikipedia? Come on!
                  I can pass a law to say black is white. Doesn’t make it so. This is what philosophers call a category error.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    David, thank you for your informative comments, as always.

                    Do you think Wikipedia here is less reliable than some of the articles from, say, the Washington Post or others in the establishment media?

                    Is the map incorrect?

                    And if countries use the term genocide differently from how it is defined in the Convention, or a dictionary, does the dictionary* update itself to include the new usage, if sufficient people or nations do it?

                    *or the Convention, if it can be updated.

                    I was reading yesterday’s post on Obamacare (or the ACA, the actual name), and how chaos and confusion, if it were dropped, might ensue, and somehow that should be considered by the judges, and not just 100% entirely on legal merits. There seem to be similar factors at play here…ideal/exact vs practical/inexact.

                    1. bob

                      He can’t produce one single contrary piece of evidence other that his own reading of some history he selected and a legal definition that he admits could “never be used in court”.

                      Category error: Everyone is wrong but him?

      2. Alternate Delegate

        “I get to make up definitions of words so I can apply them to you, but you can’t apply them to me.”

        Nope. That’s not how language or communication works. Doesn’t belong to you.

        Technically, you just tried to create a speech obstacle, and got rejected.

      3. Ignacio

        This is not to say that proving genocide in a court law wouldn’t be very difficult. May be Turks didn’t issue officially a law of Final Solution for Armenians but they were systematically targeted and forced to move/emigrate. Genocide describes what happened better than forced removal or deportation since they were massively abused and killed in the process.

        1. Ignacio

          But the WWI was such a brutality that this passed as a minor side effect. Worse crimes against humanity were seen these sad days.

          1. Wukchumni

            Let’s add an I…

            But the WWII was such a brutality that this passed as a minor side effect. Worse crimes against humanity were seen these sad days.

            1. Ignacio

              Although only Germans and Japanese faced the courts for war crimes, admittedly all participating countries commited crimes against humanity.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In any war, crimes are likely committed (by humanity, parts of it, though collectively, we are all responsible or guilty) against Nature (plants, animals, climate, etc).

      4. Gorenson

        Genocide “began as a political weapon for the West to use against the Soviet Union after WW2.”??? So why did Stalin promote that convention, eh? I recall very well how the very next CPUSA effusion on the US’s racial crimes was entitled “We Charge Genocide.”

        1. David

          Oh, the backers of the convention (right-wing exiles of Eastern European origin, forced to flee after 1945) lost control of the weapon quite quickly. Have a read of Peter Novick, The Holocaust and Collective Memory and Herman and Peterson, The Politics of Genocide with an introduction by Noam Chomsky.

      5. Bob Tetrault

        But millions of Armenians were systematically murdered by the Turks and their Kurdish proxies.

        In fact, this historical event was the first time that genocide was used.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I watched some of whatever it was that was going on in the house of representatives yesterday.

      Based on what I saw, I seriously doubt that many of the “representatives” are even aware that they have done something regarding Arrnenia, let alone that it is being “contradicted.” Their performances yesterday suggested that much of their mental capacity is consumed figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other.

    4. Wukchumni

      Congress has had 104 years to decide on the decimation of the Armenians by the Turks, and only does something now when it’s politically expedient to make their case?

    5. Memememe

      But in line with Israel that wants monopoly on all holocausts for their own political blackmailing purposes

    1. Carolinian

      Applying this model to the Democratic Party, the first really loud “cry unheard” from the Democratic electorate came in 1992.

      Indeed. And here it is almost 2020 and we still can’t be shed of the dreadful Clintons. But Hartmann may be exaggerating the degree to which neoliberalism started with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. After all those seemingly unshakeable Congressional majorities rested not just on the New Deal but also upon a rump of Southern conservative Dems going back to the days when the GOP was as dead in the South as the Dems are now. Many Dems went along with Reagan’s economic program which was the real start of the disaster. What Bill Clinton did was to raise the white flag.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Raised the white flag, put up a “For Sale” sign, and opened his “foundation” for “government being run like a business. “

        1. inode_buddha

          Rented out the Lincoln Bedroom, but we are to believe that Trump is the most corrupt president ever.

    2. flora

      Thanks for the link. Good read. Reminded me that a lot of the New Deal legislation came out of recognizing and dealing with the facts that people and businesses aren’t always honest or fair, that the sun doesn’t always shine and the good times don’t last forever. So, regulations, laws, progressive taxation and safety nets are necessary. The GOP, on the other hand, seemed to believe the sun will shine forever, and if it doesn’t then it’s a personal failing you must deal with yourself. In the 1970s the Dem party leaders all started believing the GOP cant and still believe, it seems.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      Thanks for the Alternet link. It carries essentially the same message I’ve been hitting my tribal Democratic friends with for years, with limited success. By “tribal” i mean people who have identified themselves as Democrats for so long it has become an identity thing. When the party starts drifting away from the policies that were in place when the tribal member’s affiliation first emerged, usually either in the childhood family of origin or soon thereafter, consciously recognizing and acting on the change is deeply threatening. So much so that denial sets in. This is especially true when the Party is led by talented dissemblers like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
      However, Carolinian upthread is right saying the devolution began before Bill Clinton. For that part of the story Matt Stoller’s Goliath: The 100 Year War between Monopoly Power and Democracy is a great source.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        PS: Another less than welcome part of my pitch is that Russia-Russia-Russia followed by its seamless segue into impeach-impeach-impeach is really all Distraction-Distraction-Distraction. What the Democratic Establishment doesn’t want us to see is they are not fighting what Trump is doing on the domestic front, namely continuing to dismantle the remaining shreds of the New Deal. Their paymasters, who are the same oligarchs who own the Republican Party are OK with what he’s doing on that front so they are too.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Re: Alternet article: Well, duh. So why is Thom Hartmann still a shill for the Democrats?

      I will say: Alternet doesn’t usually post Green Party promotions.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon sellers are the latest casualty from the company’s spat with FedEx”

    When your business depends on another business which depends on another business….

    1. Ignacio

      Dependencies in the Food Chain or the Supply Chain… and how parts of it manueuver to gain benefit share. For Amazon it is, apparently, much better to have a fragmented, to the level of individuals, delivery service rather than organized services that can better defend their revenues. Amazon is showing muscle on this but the future is grim for deliveries in a race to the bottom if Amazon prevails.

      1. a different chris

        Yes. It’s easy using the crap “money” of the stock market to run a “lose on every sale and (pretend you are going to) make it up in volume”.

        But if you are an individual with an 100k delivery truck you need to make payments on, and you run short month after month, your truck gets repo’d and you’re done. Multiply this by… well approximately everybody delivering Amazon products and suddenly Amazon will have a problem.

        Yet Bezos is a genius, sure.

      2. Phenix

        Amazon has a 50 lb limit in their warehouse. Most of the large packages go third party. Withouut FedEx, Amazon is forcing sellers to use UPS. There is no way Amazon can fit large items into their tiny vans. There entire system will collapse once they are regulated by the DOT.

        1. Jokerstein

          I guess you don’t drive I-5 in WA and OR very often: on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I drove from Portland to Seattle, and in that time I saw thirty Amazon Prime semis/artics. (I deliberately counted them, since I had seen lots on the way down on Thanksgiving day, and wanted a count of how many there were on the way back).

    2. Geo

      Communities watched over the past few decades while big box stores decimated downtowns and “mom & pop” shops. There was a little push back but it seems our primary response was to switch to Amazon where the big box store blight is made invisible but the decimation even worse. Where are small businesses to turn now?

      As a filmmaker my movie sells primarily on Amazon. I’ve boycotted them since their inception but I have little options otherwise to sell the film to audiences. I had DVDs in Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and a few other stores and the sales barely covered the cost of manufacturing. Netflix and Hulu offers where insultingly low. And it’s not like Blockbuster or other rental venues even exist anymore. Whereas, online streaming through Amazon (and sales to China) made back the entire production budget.

      I have no answers. I’m a hypocrite for selling through Amazon (sold my soul to the company store?) but there are no other viable alternatives for my films right now. I imagine the same is true for a lot of retail right now.

  5. zagonostra

    >Buttigieg: The Insider: How national security mandarins groomed Pete Buttigieg and managed his future

    Excellent reporting from the Grayzone/Max Blumenthal

    Buttigieg has reaped the rewards of his dedication to the Beltway playbook. He recently became the top recipient of donations from staff members of the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Justice Department – key cogs in the national security state’s permanent bureaucracy…

    On the presidential campaign trail, “Mayor Pete” has done his best to paper over the instincts he inherited from his benefactors among the national security state. But as the campaign drags on, his interventionist tendencies are increasingly exposed. Having padded his resume in America’s longest and most futile wars, he may be poised to extend them for a new generation to fight.

    1. WJ

      Can anybody point out a clear and unambiguous policy difference between Warren and Buttigieg on this or any other major structural issue in US politics?

      Why is she not included along with “Biden and Buttigieg” in these convos. She too is supported by billionaires.

      1. hunkerdown

        Her purpose in the election is different. Her job is to be a fake Sanders. That’s why she’s always mentioned alongside him whenever he scores a goal.

    2. Judith

      It’s a good start. I hope journalists continue to interrogate Buttigieg’s past exeriences and behaviors. IIRC, many of the people working on Buttigieg’s campaign had previously worked on Obama’s campaign. Buttigieg seems to be using Obama’s approach of speaking in generalities that actually do not hold up to careful scrutiny.

    3. zagonostra

      What I find particularly troubling is the infiltration of the Intelligence Agencies (Deep State, Permanent State, Shadow Gov’t, etc.) directly into elections. When candidates have been preened by these “agencies” to their satisfaction and enter the world of electoral politics it would stand to reason that it is highly unlikely they will embody the kind of ethos that seeks to serve the less well-off and downtrodden, that’s not why they are in business.

      An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Elissa Slotkin is one of those “national security” dems who flipped a district in Michigan in 2018 that went for Trump in 2016. Trump won by 7 points, she won by 3.

        She has lately become a media darling, endlessly recounting her ongoing “agonizing” over whether or not to vote for impeachment to anyone who would listen, including on Fox. She decided she’s a “Yes.”

        While her “gut” figured prominently in her decision, her “training as a cia agent” and the knowledge of national security issues thus acquired was what tipped the scales. She mentioned it about 50 times this morning on msnbs.

        When you’re ex-cia (if she really is), you just know more than your constituents. If, as their representative, you have to vote against their preferences because of your expertise, well they’ll just have to accept it. And don’t try asking “why,” because if she told you she’d have to kill you.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Apparently we now have four branches of government, not three.

        Imagine your delight if you’re the average everyday billionaire monopolist oligarch:

        Branch 1 (Legislative) has already done all it can (you wrote the laws you wanted and the Congressmen you bought passed them for you);

        Branch 2 (Judiciary) has done all it can, you used your money to buy all of the legal decisions you ever wanted;

        But maybe Branch 3 (Executive) is not yet doing everything you want so your national money extraction schemes can operate at top performance.

        Now we have Branch 4! Didn’t like the last election (Branch 3)? Not getting everything you want from Branches 1 and 2? No problem! You can simply use Branch 4, with its vast surveillance and secrecy and legal advantages, to get the outcomes you want. Get the job done without any of the prying eyes of those pesky “people” or even any of their so-called “laws”. What an efficient way to run a country company!

        And to soothe things over just send the leaders from Branch 4 over to the mainstream news outlets, where they can earn millions of dollars reassuring people that We Will Have The Best Of All Possible Worlds if you just listen to what they tell you. Because *National Security*! Because *Secrecy*! Or the trump card: Because *Constitution*!

        So Buttgig is the harbinger of this great new way of doing business: just go straight from the CIA to the presidency! No need to pass Go! No need to get any experience governing! Just get bank from billionaires, fill the airwaves with vague feelgood, whee this New American Democracy stuff is fun!!!

    4. JTee

      That was a fascinating and pithy read. To think that other “Peter Buttigiegs” have been groomed by the MITTC around the country for decades? Voters beware! Especially interesting in the article was the advertizement by the Truman Centeer offering “fellowships” (which Buttigieg took part in). They were seeking “progressives” interested in a robust national security and then teaching them all the black arts including PR, networking, and so on. Also talked about his and a Harvard bud’s 24 hour vacation to Somaliland, and their subsequent NYT piece promoting statehood for it. Wow. I never would have voted for him, but am much more inclined to vote against him now.

      1. Carey

        Is it unfair to conclude that the oligarchs, their minions, and the intelligence™ agencies are the actual rulers of This Great Country, with a side of political theater
        for the public / rubes?

  6. Steve H.

    > 1 Big Winner and 1 Big Loser From Congress’s Year-End Spending Deal The Fiscal Times

    >> The conversion of the Tea Party to born-again supply-side, modern monetary theorists is now complete

    Good to know which silo MMT is being put into…

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m confused in regards to Military Monetary Theory…

      It costs the USA a million bucks per year to keep a GI Joe or Jane in harms way on the field of battle, and we get nothing out of it really.

      What if we did Mope Monetary Theory and gave everybody that same million, with the proviso they have to spend it all within a year of getting it?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        They need to include the MIC in the GND, lots of available manpower and know-how, just a different enemy

      2. Carey

        Along similar lines, when the big MIC buildup started (again.. v2.0 or 3.0, or..) during the Raygun years, I proposed giving every soldier a Cadillac, a bunch of
        gas, and fifty grand, instead of the insanely expensive turbine™-powered tanks
        that the money went to. I now realize that this deeply violates Prasad’s Law,
        which I’d not yet heard of. Progress!

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Ads are back in Windows 10 Mail and Calendar Desktop app (and there are no way to remove them)”

    All the more reason to avoid Windows 10. I can see where this would be going. It would be like trying to watch an American football game on TV with the ads displayed there. On Windows 10 you would have running ads along your taskbar. Even pulling up the Google home page on your browser, you would see embedded ads all over it. There would be pop-ups on your screen from time to time. There would be ads in the title bar of each window that you had. You get the picture.

    Meanwhile that evil genius Vladimir Putin has already gotten ahead of the curve of all these ads by still using Windows XP-

    1. Alternate Delegate


      Xfinity / Comcast just started breaking into my browser with ads today. (The most annoying “you have won” ads, and you can’t get out of them with the back button.)

      As far as I can tell, they can only break into an HTTP stream, not HTTPS or VPN, so I can still see NC.

      If the ISPs think they can get away with this, what do they they think they can’t get away with?

      1. Annieb

        Do you have another Internet provider? It took me a while to decide to switch from Comcast to my local dsl provider. There were lots of negative dsl reviews on yelp but then a family member switched with great results. So glad I did! My Internet service is faster and more reliable. And I still access a few tv stations with an antenna . My bill is $70 less/month.
        As always, your experience may not be the same.

            1. Wukchumni

              I turned on my Selectric 2 a year back just to hear the constant hum that came with the territory…


              1. a different chris

                I loved the Selectric! What a sweet piece of engineering. Too bad I can’t type worth (family blog).

              2. neighbor7

                “The Sound of Hummer Running”—some Bradbury nostalgia there.

                I also loved the solid whir and clack of the auto carriage return.

      2. QuarterBack

        What is most likely happening is your ISP is using its Domain Name Service (DNS) to occasionally redirect your connection requests to various advertiser websites. The DNS protocol is how your system translates hostnames like to an IP address (the ###.###.###.###) which is used to make the actual connection.

        ISPs have been known to give false IP information so that your connect request is directed to a company that feeds you an ad page instead of your intended destination. Some of these sites can also just record your URL string before passing you on to your destination.

        The way around this is to use alternative DNS services, which you can setup in your network settings. Every URL request to a Internet site that you don’t already have in your cache asks the DNS server translate into an IP address, which is typically the DNS server of your ISP. When you change your DNS settings, this request will no longer go to your ISP to “help” you translate to a correct IP address.

        1. bob

          Agreed. Look up how to use you own dns server. The cable co DNS servers also tend to get bogged down during peak times, leading to ‘slow internet’. Its not the internet that’s slow, its the local dns server that is trying to do too much

          Get rid of ads and make it faster.

        2. Tom Bradford

          An effective but more complicated way of blocking ads is to use pi-hole –

          Although intended for the Raspberry-Pi it has Windows and Linux versions.

          Pi-hole sits on your machine and you point your machine’s DNS server at it. It then passes the DNS request through to the external one you give it, either your ISP’s, Google or whatever, and passes that back to your browser. However every request the requested page makes to a known advertising site – and Pi-hole keeps a regularly updated list of several hundred thousand of them – is blocked.

          Unfortunately it is only partially effective with YouTube as it can’t block ads built into the page, only URLs, but the one I have running currently claims to have blocked 17.6% of the traffic my browsers requested, as potential advertising.

          It also allows you to whitelist sites you want to support by accepting their ads, like NakedCapitalism.

          1. Jokerstein

            I use Pi-hole and a whole bunch of other things, but the only thing I have found that reliably deep-sixes FooTube ads is the add-on “Enhancer for Youtube”. Not going to lik here, since all the posts I make that include links seems to slide into moderation, but just search for it and you’ll find it.

            Also, if you DO decide to use Pi-hole, don’t configure it per machine – set your router’s DNS to use the Pi-hole. Then when a machine inside your network issues a DNS request it will go first to the router (unless you have jiggered with your DHCP sertting – most people don’t do this, AFAICT), which will then go to your Pi-hole. Set the secondar (and tertiary if you have it) DNS on your router to something like and (see the web passim for choosing reliable and safeish DNS servers) and you’ll be good to go.

            The only downside with this is that Pi-hole will log the router IP address as the requestor, and that can make troubleshooting requests a little harder, but for the convenience, I find it well worth it.

  8. tegnost

    MSM hit piece on M4A, claiming to protect doctors, but…who are these people? Not doctors, private equity…

    FTA…When the legislative process heated up this summer, so did a fierce lobbying effort from doctors and hospitals. Doctor Patient Unity, a dark money group funded by two large private-equity-funded physician staffing companies, spent tens of millions on television advertisements and direct mail, urging lawmakers to oppose the bill. Lobbyists for doctors, hospitals, air ambulance companies and private equity funds also began making the rounds. Doctors have argued for a different solution to the surprise billing problem that would not cut their pay.

    Oh look! Air ambulances.

    1. zagonostra

      Not to put too much of an apocalyptic spin on it (although literally the meaning of the word is to unveil) you will see the forces of evil, status quo, arrayed against the good, universal care – all else is casuistry, legerdemain, and demagoguery placed into the service of the former.

  9. JRM

    Re: How a Whale Crashed Bitcoin To Sub-$7,000 Overnight NewsBTC

    How fitting that this story about a bitcoin scam labels a picture of a fish with a caption about a whale!

    1. Wukchumni

      Quite often in Bitcoin articles you read, there’s a picture of a metal coin that’s supposed to be representative of it, probably on account of the ether not photographing well.

  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    Corbyn is still around because the next leadership battle will be a complete sh%$ show, up to, and probably including, fisticuffs, and no one is ready for that yet.

    As he as declared that he will not lead the party at the next election, he is literally the only caretaker that won’t result in an immediate confrontation.

    He probably won’t be out until after the current Brexit January deadline, at least.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “There’s a 60,000-Year-Old Way to Help Stop Australia Burning”

    It may be too late to do exactly the same as the Aborigines once did. The continent is not only drier but bushfire season now extends for several more months. That means that the window to have these traditional back burns has become much narrower. To illustrate the changes, just this Tuesday it was the hottest day in Australia. Ever-

    Meanwhile our Prime Minister is enjoying his holiday in Hawaii. Somebody dug up a video of him slamming a police leader who went out to dinner during the Black Saturday fire of 2009 but that was then and this is now.

    1. jefemt

      Not to mention the carbon production of fire, versus the sequestered carbon in ‘dead wood’. Native americans used to burn the ponderosa ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada. All of these technologies pre Industrial revolution, when global human population was in the millions…

      We have crossed over into unchartered territory. Could Aussies stay home, walk or ride bikes, turn off carbon intensive technologies while they burn? I doubt it, either practically (winter months) or lack of will.

      Here’s a take from George Carlin

    2. Wukchumni

      I’ve walked through forests that have been prepped for prescribed burns and it takes lots of laborious physical labor & time to set the table to perform a trick for you, staying within the parameters.

      They used to call staged events ‘controlled burns’ until too many got away from them, a prescribed burn in Mineral King 3 years ago in the late fall burned beyond the containment boundaries by about half a mile, must have been quite the place to hear ‘oh shit!’ as events were unfolding. In the end, no big deal though, and a fire break got bigger.

      That’s the main risk, but the benefits of burning intelligently outweigh the risks of letting Mother Nature dictate the terms.

      1. curlydan

        The fire that almost wiped out Los Alamos, NM in 2000 started as a controlled burn. “Controlled” burns sound like a very tricky proposition.

    3. skippy

      The rub is its burning in places the aboriginals never burned and even in the areas they burned they only burned the grazing areas and not the mountainous areas. Not to mention eviromental conditions are radically different, think they were knowledgeable enough not to burn in extreme conditions.

      All one needs to do is look at our national heat map this week to see that any ignition source can set off a bush fire – across vast swaths of the nation. Complicated by topography, infrastructure, resources, and priorities, currently property – its an economic thingy.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looking at Wikipedia’s List of Wildfires, i notice that the 2018 British Columbia wildfires burned about 3.3 million acres, the 2019 wildfires in Siberia burned over 2.7 or 3.3 million hectares (not acres), whereas in Bushfires in Australia (Wiki), we see the 2019 New South Wales and Queensland bushfires burned about 2.9 million hectares (again, not acres).

      I only look at the more recent ones, but the last two are huge fires… in Australia and Siberia.

  12. Summer

    RE: “The Global Judges: EU Prepares Global Sanctions Regime” German Foreign Policy

    “…von der Leyen, who explicitly sees herself heading a “geopolitical” commission, declared “soft power alone is now not enough.” The EU needs “its own muscle in security policy.” “Europe must also learn the language of power”…”

    Did a Scooby double-take on that last line.
    But it’s nearly the last line of an article filled with the kind of obliviousness I’m more aquainted with hearing in the USA.

  13. Wukchumni

    Among the World’s Most Dire Places: This California Homeless Camp New York Times
    Interesting comparisons of California & Mexican homeless jungles, nothing but squalor & a McDonalds nearby as the only place to go to the bathroom in Oakland, whereas every hovel down under has a toilet, and few tents in Mexico, mostly more ‘permanent’ structures.

    Sooner or later there’ll be an outbreak of the ‘blue death’ i.e. Cholera as the conditions are ripe, and it’s been over a century since this last happened in these United States. I think in the aftermath of this event, we’ll see homeless concentration camps set up far away from their previous haunts.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        “them” should be us, and “they” should be we. On any given Sunday (or Monday, Tuesday, etc…) each of us can find ourselves homeless. We ought not feel so smug.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think Nellie Bly, who traveled around the world in 72 days, beating the fictional Phileas Fogg by 7 and some days, was the first reporter to go undercover, exposing the women’s mental institution on Blackwell’s Island.

      We could use more such investigative stories.

      One such effort is the film, the Plastic People (though plastic, like all people, they are biodegradable), about the homeless just south of the border, Tijuana.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Self-Driving Mercedes Will Be Programmed To Sacrifice Pedestrians To Save the Driver”

    I would guess that the driver of a car would still be held legally responsible for the car that he was in, especially if they have a steering wheel in front of them. I can see it now-

    “Officer! Officer! It wasn’t me that killed all those school kids. It was my car that did it!”

    The people that programmed this self-driving Mercedes to sacrifice pedestrians…I wonder what else might be on their resume-

    1. xkeyscored

      Pedestrians and their rights have been sacrificed for drivers and theirs for ages. It’s only quite recently that cities have shown any enthusiasm for curbing vehicle traffic and enabling people to use urban public space constructively.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      In all honesty, how could anyone be expected to pay up big time for a “self-driving” Mercedes if they thought the car would choose to sacrifice the owner and his/her family to save a jaywalker who was looking at a cellphone and walked in front of the vehicle?

      Seems like a no-brainer to me, and something that a buyer would insist on. If you’re going binary, go big or go home. There’s no room here for nuance.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think a difference, not necessarily the difference, is that we human drivers don’t think about such scenarios in advance.

        Here, the two choices (family/self or others) are both tragic. And it’s best we* don’t think about it. So, the choices (about those 2 choices) are 1. we think about those 2 choices now or any time before we are confronted with such a situation, or 2. we think about those 2 choices when it happens.

        *Except those who do and know exactly what to do.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I read somewhere that there are insurance and liability issues to be worked out.

      One, for example, involves software not functioning in a timely manner. Is the phone company responsible?

  15. WJ

    WRT the illuminating and somewhat spirited discussion of the AAP’s irresponsible stance on sex-change hormone therapy for children, the latest by Craig Murray is worth reading. It is humane, open-minded, and tolerant in the best tradition of classical liberalism. I do not agree with everything in the piece, but I do admire Murray’s honesty and integrity and civility.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, thank you. Possibly you, I, and Murray are all revealing our age.

      I think it’s especially wrong to do anything irreversible to underage children. For one thing, young people can change radically. One of my wife’s sisters was, insistently, a boy until she reached puberty. After that, she was a girl, wife, and mother. She had issues, but they weren’t gender issues.

      However, I see no harm in a free choice of hairstyle, clothing, toys, etc. Indeed, my sister in law dressed and functioned as a boy – really hard to get her into a dress, I hear – until she changed her mind. Just one example, but proof of possibility.

  16. Wukchumni

    I’ve never been in a military px, but it seems as if a lack of sales tax is the main driver-rather than lower prices, is this correct?

    SAN DIEGO — Starting New Year’s Day, more than 3 million veterans nationwide, including tens of thousands of local veterans, will be able to shop at exchanges and commissaries on military bases and utilize their recreation facilities.

    A new law makes veterans who are registered with the Veterans Affairs healthcare system and who have service-connected disabilities eligible to access those facilities on military bases. Purple Heart recipients and former POWs also will have shopping privileges and access.

    In San Diego, almost 65,000 more veterans and caregivers are affected, the VA says.

    Until now only active duty military, retirees, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans who were 100 percent disabled could shop on base, which is often less costly than regular shopping because on-base shoppers don’t pay a sales tax.

    1. Shonde

      I left California in 2018 so my experience with base shopping is a little dated.

      Shopping on base was a real money saver years ago. Not so much anymore. A Union Tribune comparison shopper at one time showed you could save more by shopping off base even taking the lack of sales tax into consideration. Maybe that explains why base shopping has gone down in recent years.

      Cigarettes were a bargain until Obama when charging a price equal to off base prices became mandatory. Liquor was still a bargain when I left.

    2. QuarterBack

      Many of the stores on military bases allow civilians and contractors to make purchases except for cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline because the taxes (which are more significant for these items) are not collected (or more importantly not distributed to the usual tax authorities).

  17. Danny

    Oh, to get an extra shopping day. Today’s links are backdated to yesterday.
    That might cause chaos later….

  18. Wukchumni

    Watched Idiocracy last night and hadn’t seen it in 10 years, and in theory it’s set 500 years in the future, but a decade will do.

    What brought on seeing it again, you might ask?

    The other day Devin Nunes told Adam Schiff:

    “It is clear you are in need of rehabilitation.”

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Steve Bannon: ‘We’ve turned the Republicans into a working-class party’ Guardian (JTM)

    …… I keep saying I admire AOC. I think her ideology’s all fucked up, but I want her. I want to recruit bartenders. I don’t want to recruit any more lawyers. I want bartenders.”

    Best political commentary / strategy evah.

    1. a different chris

      Yeah not when your funders are the people who don’t want to pay bartenders s(family blog)t. That particular center (or centre, since it’s Brexit day in the comments!) will simply not hold.

      And he’s the bright one of the group. Sigh.

  20. Wukchumni

    Measles outbreak in NZ gets exported to LA & Denver due to a lax vax attack.

    Travellers who passed through Denver International Airport or Los Angeles International Airport on December 11 are at risk for measles after the children tested positive for the disease, public health officials said.

    The children who contracted the highly contagious disease did not have the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and are receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado, officials said.

  21. JEHR

    Re: “The TV Show ‘Survivor’. . . ” is a very interesting analysis about why it is so difficult to find ways to get rid of an undesirable. Some of that difficulty seems to be that close association with a liar seems to produce many, many more liars. A wonder to behold!

    1. skippy

      Thing is … the environment is set up at onset, concocted, then some will point at the results and call it “Natural”. Then use it to establish policy formation so the Government does not abuse the rights of this “Natural” condition which might limit freedoms and liberties established under this “Natural” order of things ….

      Still remember the back lash the original Survivor [tm] show got, backstabbing for a chance at a big payday. Funny how that got Bernays’ed into oblivion – up the cortex injections – !!!!!

  22. allan

    2 and 20 for thee but not for me:

    Renaissance Employees Could Face Clawbacks Over Hedge Fund’s Tax Maneuver [WSJ]

    Jim Simons’s Renaissance Technologies LLC has produced the greatest investment returns of any hedge fund. Now, it also may be facing an unusually painful tax headache.

    Last week, Renaissance sent a letter to its current and former employees warning that the Internal Revenue Service could force them to pay back taxes and penalties because they invested in Renaissance’s hedge funds through the firm’s 401(k) plan and individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, without paying fees. The warning could affect other investment firms with similar plans. …

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