Links 12/30/19

Have you been plogging, are you a slashie or have you been sadfishing? Language expert ADAM JACOT DE BOINOD reveals the latest weird and wonderful words to enter the lexicon in 2019 Daily Mail

Ten wildlife success stories to sing about in 2019 Guardian

6 Rowers Become First to Cross Infamous Drake Passage Unassisted Time (furzy)

The Most Scathing Reviews of 2019 Literary Hub

“They’re abysmal students”: Are cell phones destroying the college classroom?  Ars Technica

‘A day we do not often see’: Australia’s southeast under huge fire threat Reuters

Photos of a koala hospital in Australia show just how devastating recent bushfires have been for the iconic marsupial Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

Australia fires worsen as every state hits 40C BBC

Just 11 Days a Year with Her Daughter Der Spiegel

Evolution: A revelatory relationship (chuck l)


Trump aides call U.S. strikes on Iraq and Syria ‘successful,’ warn of potential further action Reuters
The Syrian town with more cats than people BBC

Elon Musk gets an EARFUL after suggesting only ‘SUBWAY STALINISTS’ oppose creation of underground highways RT (The Rev Kev)

Throw your testicles London Review of Books

FLAKE DISTRICT Lake District boss sparks fury by saying the area is ‘too white’ – and demanding tarmac paths to make it more ‘diverse’ The Sun (The Rev Kev)

Mysterious swarms of giant drones have started to appear in the Colorado and Nebraska night sky, and nobody knows where they’re coming from Insider (David L)

Flying cars, hyperloops and the other tech predictions that didn’t pan out Inforum (The Rev Kev)

Class Warfare

U.S. companies are forcing workers to train their own foreign replacements Axios

The World’s 500 Richest People Increased Their Wealth by $1.2 Trillion in 2019 New York magazine

Robert Reich: Here are 5 ways to stop corporations from ruining the future of work Alternet

California Gave Billions in Taxpayer Dollars to Improve Jails. But That’s Not How These Sheriffs Are Spending It. ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Global drop in IPOs stirs fears for shrinking public markets FT

Firms must justify investment in fossil fuels, warns Mark Carney Guardian


Citing Joe Biden’s Troubling Voting Record, Bernie Sanders Warns ‘My God… Trump Will Eat His Lunch’ Common Dreams

Joe Biden explains why he said he’d defy a subpoena to testify in the Senate impeachment trial Vox

Pete Buttigieg wants to decriminalize possession and use of ALL drugs including ecstasy, coke and meth as he says the harsh criminal justice system has worsened what is a ‘public health problem Daily Mail

Voting by app is a thing, and it’s spreading, despite the fears of election security experts Fast Company

Waste Watch

Against Recycling Jacobin

The World’s Recycling System Is Falling Apart. What’s Going On? Foundation for Economic Education (David L)

Lies, Damned Lies, and Recycling The Baffler

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Amazon and Ring Hit With Lawsuit After Camera Hacks Confirm Worst Fears of Privacy Advocates Common Dreams

Edward Snowden Sets the Record Straight TruthDig

What Does California’s New Data Privacy Law Mean? Nobody Agrees NYT

737 MAX

Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis leaves it badly behind in ‘arms race’ for next decade’s jets Seattle Times


Facing the Reality: How Can Modi Reverse the Current Economic Slowdown? The Wire

We knew Adityanath was hostile to Muslims. But did we expect his regime to be so savage? Scroll

The Himalayan tunnel thwarted by India’s slowdown FT

India’s tourism industry hit hard by citizenship law protests Al Jazeera


Chinese metal mines feed the global demand for gadgets. They’re also poisoning China’s poorest regions. WaPo

China’s gene-editing ‘Frankenstein’ jailed for three years in modified baby case SCMP

As Shale Wells Age, Gap Between Forecasts and Performance Grows WSJ

Trump Transition

Trump retweeted the name of the alleged Ukraine whistleblower Business Insider (The Rev Kev)

What Happened When Trump Reshaped a Powerful Court Slate

Putin thanks Trump for information that helped prevent acts of terrorism in Russia in phone call RT (The Rev Kev)

Why I Don’t Criticize Russia, China, Or Other Unabsorbed Governments Caitlin Johnstone

45 Years of Rebellion Craig Murray

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. kimyo

    from the sanders wapo interview quoted in the common dreams link:

    “not to mention all the voter suppression that’s going on among Republican governors.

    The question of how we create good paying jobs, $25-, $30-an-hour jobs, is the more important question.”

    1) he should pay much more attention to dnc voter suppression, for instance the “almost 2 million ballots officially uncounted” in california 2016. his problem is the dnc, not ‘republican governors’.

    2) $25 / hour is $50k / year. that’s still essentially poverty-level wages in many areas of the country.

  2. ex-PFC Chuck

    Tracing your family’s roots may soon get a lot more expensive

    I don’t usually suggest additions in a “Links” post comments but this, via MPR News, needs to be seen today to have any meaningful impact.:

    Monday, Dec. 30, is the deadline to submit a comment to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services over a proposed fee hike to access some records, some of which date back more than 100 years and are useful to genealogists.

    The USCIS wants to increase the fee for obtaining immigration files by 500 percent, which means some people would have to pay more than $600 for the documents. The move would affect families of the millions of people who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    The suggestion at the end, that the document trove be handed over to the National Archives, sounds reasonable to me.

    1. JBird4049

      A 500% increase probably means somebody is trying to either make personal bank or use the new revenue source for some other internal projects. Maybe there are some funding cuts we do not know about or the USCIS has has some privatization done.

      The current $65 for a search of the records and another 65$ to have them mailed to you is high enough. I thought that the taxes already paid and the funds allocated by the budget already pays for all this.

      But the agency has been in continuous existence in some form for almost 120 years, so why the need now for so much money for a mere records search. Something shady is likely up.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Citing Joe Biden’s Troubling Voting Record, Bernie Sanders Warns ‘My God… Trump Will Eat His Lunch'”

    Bernie Sanders should be eating Joe Biden’s lunch but refuses to, instead saying “Joe Biden is a personal friend of mine, so I’m not here to, you know, to attack him.” Bernie should be taking him out the same way Gabbard took Harris out of running but won’t. He did the same thing in 2016 with Hillary Clinton when he said “the American people are sick and tired about hearing about your damn emails” thus letting her off the hook.

    If he thought that this would get him goodwill from the DNC he was just fooling himself as he is with Biden. This is not Bernie’s first rodeo so he should now better. If he wants to enact all those policies that he talks about, then he must become President first. And Biden is definitely in his way of him doing so. Next year, he is going to have to up his game or it will be a repeat of 2016.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you and well said, Kev.

      Corbyn was the same. One wonders how he managed to inspire so many foot soldiers when he refused to defend himself when insulted. I don’t buy this Zen calmness. He came across across as weak. In the last debate, the charlatan Johnson accused Corbyn of sympathising with and talking to terrorists. A stock answer that it’s better to jaw jaw and one makes peace with enemies, not friends, was not even contemplated.

    2. Lee

      Perhaps Sanders is banking on more widespread public knowledge of Biden’s record, as well as growing voter dissatisfaction with the prospect of yet more tepid centrist incrementalism, to do the job for him. Biden’s capacity for self destruction through iniquity and ineptitude, while much in evidence, has yet to be fully realized.

    3. DJG

      Rev Kev: And from the seriously slanted article in Vox (“unfounded” rumors about Hunter’s behavior–unfounded?), we get this quote about obeying a subpoena:

      When asked, however, by the New York Times’ Thomas Kaplan if he would challenge a subpoena in court, Biden said, “Let’s cross that bridge when it comes.”

      It is a zombie candidacy, which somehow involves moving bridges. On the other hand, consider Lambert Strether’s advice. Bernie Sanders knows better than getting into a brawl with Biden when he can allow Biden to self-destruct. Let’s assume for now that letting Biden be a zombie is Bernie’s main tactic with regard to the untested “frontrunner.”

      The comment about “Hillary’s e-mails”–when he knew perfectly well that it was a server and abuse of power that were / are the legal question–is uncharacteristically obtuse. Bernie isn’t that obtuse–but he also knows that bashing a female candidate wouldn’t gain him any votes either.

    4. inode_buddha

      Sanders should know that it is difficult, if not impossible, to be “the leader” and also have friends.

      I do believe he should be hammering on Biden’s record a lot harder, simply pointing out the differences between their voting over decades. He should also point out how Joe’s policies have directly harmed the People. It is possible to do so without attacking Biden directly ad hominem.

    5. Dr. John Carpenter

      Agreed. This is my biggest frustration with Sanders. You simply can not advocate the change he does without offending TPTB. He always seems too concerned with not upsetting the Dem establishment to me. I’m not saying he needs to go on the attack, but he really needs to put more distance between himself and everyone else if he wants to win.

      1. polecat

        Yeah, it reads kinda wimpy to my minds eye. I mean, with sociopathic Jackals ..
        er ‘friends’ .. like these .. being the gentleman doesn’t seem the bestest path to take with regard to being valourious !

    6. Summer

      Would’ve been a popcorn grabbing moment if Mayor Pete had announced his drug decriminalization idea this way:
      “I don’t think we as a nation should be treating other drug users or those caught possessing worse than Hunter Biden.”

        1. John k

          And they knew what they were doing, right?
          Or did blood lust to get trump blind them? Did they ask joe what he thought?
          I agree with other commenters… you need friends in the senate, but a ruler can’t afford friends that bring obligations. Allies, supporters, and opponents… that’s it. Joe is an opponent to all things progressive.

    7. HotFlash

      I doubt that Bernie is looking for “goodwill from the DNC”. He’s not an idiot and he’s be elected many, many times, including in (mostly in) places that could be expected to be hostile to him. I conclude that his strategy is demonstrably working. He has also gotten things done once elected. He’s the “Amendment King”, right? Doesn’t burn his bridges, things that he might need later to, you know, actually govern.

      Yeah, yeah, Tulsi took Kamala out, but that didn’t do Tulsi much good, now did it? Bernie’s not a prize-fighter, he’s a long-distance runner. Let Pete and Amy and the others push Biden off the island. Bernie, just keep running.

      1. chuckster

        Yeah, yeah, Tulsi took Kamala out, but that didn’t do Tulsi much good, now did it?

        The country is better off, so yeah, Tulsi did good.

        1. neplusultra

          There’s a difference between an action doing Tulsi good wrt primary polling numbers and an action doing the country good as a whole. Tulsi taking Kamala out was good but it didn’t help her campaign in any significant way. That was the point being made

      2. Dalepues

        I agree with you and I would add that Sen. Sanders may believe that it would be rash to anger Biden’s supporters with personal attacks now. Leave this unpleasant task to others. Kamala Harris stabbed Biden for his anti-busing, pro-segregationist record, and though she is no longer available to turn the knife, the wound will not heal. Pete Buttigieg has recently questioned Biden’s judgement on his vote for the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom). Sen. Warren has pointed to Biden’s shameful alliance with banks collecting on student loans, credit card, and even medical debt. I also think that once Sanders has won Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and placed well in South Carolina, his campaign may feel less inhibited to take down Joe Biden.

        1. turtle

          I agree with you and I would add that Sen. Sanders may believe that it would be rash to anger Biden’s supporters with personal attacks now.

          Exactly, especially considering how Bernie is the main 2nd choice candidate of Biden’s voters per the polls. If he attacks Biden he risks losing much of that potential support.

        2. Karl Vischer

          After the first debate, when Kamala’s first attack on Biden landed and her poll numbers shot up, she then went silent. Just before the next debate, she and Biden hugged when they were called onto the stage, and Biden said “Be easy on me, kid”. And she was. Something or someone got to her, and her poll numbers started going down from that point forward. My personal theory is that Biden and Harris made a peace pact, and she’s been running for his VP ever since. She dropped out when she did to give Biden more breathing room in the center.

        3. IowanX

          I think this is Sanders plan as well. It’s a matter of timing. He is IMO running a far better campaign this time, and he needs to, as the PTB who hated him last time still do…

    8. Fiery Hunt

      Perhaps Bernie just doesn’t want to be another cutthroat politician.

      We can argue whether it’s necessary but the reality is that’s not who Bernie is.

      And perhaps that’s why he gets the issues in the way he does and we trust him.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Sure, the “bring a knife to a gun fight” strategy. Has worked so well for Dems since: never.

        Candidate T: Goes for the jugular
        Candidate B: Thinks we all need to be friends

        1. Procopius

          Has worked so well for Dems since: never.

          Ah, but as some people keep reminding us, Bernie is not a Democrat, even though he’s supported the party with votes better than any Blue Dog or New Democrat. Which is another reason I trust him.

      2. Yves Smith

        Biden’s fundraising #s have been terrible. He is running on brand fumes.

        Polls now can reach only 6% of voters….those on landlines. That it Biden’s demographic.

        Sanders may have internal polling #s that show different results than the national/too small sample to be reliable state polls.

        Biden is weakening. I think readers need to give Sanders credit on having gotten vastly further as an old cranky Jewish socialist than anyone could have expected.

        I had a Japanese boss once who was an astonishing political insider player at Sumitomo, which was famed for being ruthless internally. Among other things, the personnel dept (which utterly unlike US companies is extremely powerful, it makes or breaks careers via how people are assigned) would move people around to prevent the formation of internal power blocks.

        He spoke English with a British accent and would pony up to wear pretty well tailored suits. He also affected being extremely lazy.

        He was the only person I ever worked with who agreed with my job definition of boss (that he was to clear obstacles for me but otherwise leave me alone) and who, when I would walk into his office with a a problem, cut me off one sentence in. He already knew what the issue was, already had a diagnosis, and would tell me either he was already on top of it or I had to wait for things to mature (as in get worse from my perspective) before he could swing into action and get things fixed.

        He was actually like a crocodile. He would wait with his eyes above the water for his prey to get into position where his strike would take the least effort and have the best odds of success. His discipline about waiting for the right time to make an aggressive move was extraordinary.

        I think Sanders is waiting for the right moment with Biden. It has not come yet but it will come soon.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a great analogy, he sounds a little like a boss I once had (much missed). In the case of my boss he had quietly built up such an extensive network of vital outside contacts who trusted him personally that he had become unfireable and he used this to protect all his direct staff.

          I agree that it would be very bad strategy for Sanders to be aggressive with Biden now. Its much better to let Biden sink himself, or if necessary let weaker candidates wield the knife, as they must do to try to save themselves. Assassins rarely end up winning the throne. Biden seems to attract a lot of personal sympathy from older voters, they see him as ‘one of them’ and see his gaffs as human, not political failings. Aggressive attacks would make Sanders supporters happy but would not help attract Biden supporters to him, probably quite the opposite. Sanders gentlemanly demeanour to others also makes it far harder for his opponents to make personal attacks on him.

          Sanders has managed his campaign quite brilliantly so far – I really do wish people would give him more credit for his political smarts as well as his good policies. He is running rings around the Democrat establishment and is driving them insane because they know this. We should trust his instincts, he’s been in that bear pit for decades, he knows what he’s doing.

    9. XXYY

      I think Sanders realizes the importance of seeming, and being, “presidential” when one is applying for the job of being president. Take downs and gibes may give some momentary satisfaction to today’s supporters, but ultimately as president he is going to have to forge an operating coalition of people in the federal government and US voters in general, and people remember mean-spiritedness and personal attacks long after the event. Hillary Clinton’s famous vindictiveness and score keeping was one of the major reasons she was not well liked by colleagues and the media.

      I admire Bernie’s dedication to taking a high line even when it puts his candidacy at risk.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not too many current pols could pull off playing the political game the way LBJ and Tip O’Neil. Or, for that matter, maybe a better model to compare Sanders with, Sam Rayburn.

    10. Carolinian

      You are right, but I believe Sanders said in 2016 that he didn’t want to be a Nader–or words to that effect–and be responsible for splitting the Dems and Trump being (re)elected. He’s not going to burn his bridges.

      And since Biden is still unlikely to go the distance that may be a correct calculation on his part–the nomination via attrition.

      1. LifelongLib

        I have family members who think Sanders did split the party in 2016, by not being more whole-hearted in his support for Hillary (in spite of his endorsement). Can’t figure out where that way of thinking comes from.

        1. RMO

          You can find that sort of thinking all over the internet in articles and comments – “Bernie split the party and caused the loss to Trump!” It doesn’t stand up to even the most cursory logical analysis, but there are still plenty of people out there who believe it.

          1. inode_buddha

            I run across people regularly who still say that Ross Perot split the vote and handed it to Clinton. Some of the people who believe this are younger than me by a decade or more. That should scare you. (I was a Perot voter)

            1. polecat

              What! You spoiler’s apprentice you …

              *I cast me wishes for both Nader, and Perot, each in their turn … and was deemed a spoiler and a shill by one of my closest friends – who thought Gore an Eco/Global-warming breying God !
              He was crickets re. Lieberman, however …..

    11. Louis Fyne

      (in my opinion) this is why the left keeps losing, their candidates bring a book of “Robert’s Rules of Order” to an MMA fight.

      maybe it’s a feature not a bug. maybe it’s genetic. maybe people need to read more Machiavelli or Sun Tzu

      just saying

      1. Biph

        There isn’t much point in Bernie punching down. Biden my be ahead in national polling but national polling for state by primaries and caucuses held over a period of months is useless for anything other than fundraising. Bernie is ahead of Biden in both IA and NH and Biden supporters list Bernie as their top 2nd choice no reason to antagonize them. If Bernie needs to go after anyone it’s Mayor Pete who looks to be his main rival in IA.

        1. HotFlash

          My bet is he will keep to the high ground and let the others attack him if they will. And with Pete’s support among people of color, there’s really no point in mud-wrestling him in Iowa.

    12. richard

      I’ve been critical of Sanders for not being more aggressive, and for seeming to not fully understand the den of sociopathic liars he is amongst. That said, Bernie is who he is. We need more of a firebrand and a true revolutionary, but we don’t have one. We have Bernie, and as has been pointed out before, a very thin bench behind him.
      Bernie will never rip into the dem party the way this situation calls for. Never. I think the best we can hope for from him personally is what he is doing now: positioning himself in stark contrast to Joe Biden and every other centrist and publically commenting on what a weak candidate Biden would be, because of his many betrayals of the public. That is not so bad, and when we add to that Bernie’s very aggressive online army of pissed off NON-democrats, we can see that there will be plenty of people willing to finish Bernie’s sentence for him:)
      I think we’re stuck with Bernie being “friends” with all these awful people. If he wants to call it that, fine, whatever. It’s kind of like an unfinished portrait; Bernie’s army will finish all the shading to add emphasis to bring out biden’s predation in the finished picture. Everyone knows what is up; Bernie’s “friendship” facade isn’t really fooling anyone.
      Be thou of good cheer I say dear rev, and keep posting!

    13. Darius

      Biden is slowly self-destructing. Bernie shouldn’t get in the way. Remember that neither Gephardt nor Dean emerged intact from their death match. If anything, Bernie is signaling to his own supporters. Or icing down Joe’s slowly descending road.

      Bernie’s got his own game. He should keep playing it.

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, J-LS.

    Further to the link about US firms forcing workers to train their replacements, it’s not just US employers. I came across the same at Barclays from 2014 – 6 and do so at my current employer, both in London.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    The Himalayan tunnel thwarted by India’s slowdown FT

    The article implies that the tunnel is all about tourism development, but of course its not – its mostly military in purpose – India has for years worried about how hard it is to move troops to its Himalayan border areas. But they’ve failed over the years in many infrastructural projects in the far north – they were trying for years to make the Leh to Manali road suitable for all year round transport, and eventually abandoned that after vast expenditure. I doubt that the Chinese are necessarily better engineers, but they do seem to have the resources and persistence to build wildly ambitious roads and railways in the Himalaya and to keep them running.

  6. The Historian

    Re: the Axios story about employees having to train their foreign replacements.

    This is not new. About 5 years ago, my son-in-law lost his job because his company went out of business and was hired on at another company as a permanent temp. After about a year, his management decided that even using permanent temps wasn’t enough labor savings and they began bringing in foreign employees for my son-in-law to train – and they eventually fired all the permanent temps here in the US and moved that division overseas. BTW, the CEO of this company was making about $14 M a year – they could have taken $1 Million of his salary and made more in labor savings than they did with this move, but obviously, that didn’t occur to them. Fortunately for my son-in-law, he did find good employment elsewhere.

      1. The Historian

        I had an Administrator once who told me to take down my Dilbert collection because it was “inappropriate”. I then decorated my office with cat pictures which, of course, he had no problems with. I don’t think he ever got the symbolism.

    1. timbers

      In the Boston area, you can find countless former State Street employees working elsewhere now, that will tell stories of how they were told to train their own replacements being imported from India.

      I even recall a job interview at State Street with a former co-worker of years past, during my early State Street years, telling me that yes State Street has had many of their employees train their foreign replacements. He told me they resented it and felt “entitled” to their job. He said that disparagingly.

      I remember thinking “We lost you to the Dark Side. What happened?”

      Now I’m working in well funded corporate healthcare where – as Michelle Pfieffer said in The Age of Innocence:

      Oh yes I forgot. This is America. Everything is Good and Right here.”

      Everyone one is happy and only good thoughts and things are allowed.

      And yet while I now work in a well funded company where everything is Good and Right, we were just told there will be no raises this year. But the company did find enough money for $7 billion on stock buy backs of it’s own stock (carefully calculated no doubt to ensure earnings targets linked to CEO bonuses are achieved).

    2. remmer

      This sort of thing has an even longer history. Back in the 1990s the computer services firm where a friend of mine worked offshored a whole department to India, and brought the Indian engineers over here to be trained by the people whose jobs they were taking.

      1. LifelongLib

        Back in the 80s I was a “temp” for six years with the federal government. I got the salary but no benefits, and wasn’t counted toward the manpower ceiling. Every two years I was layed off for a month or so and then rehired. One of the tricks bureaucracies play…

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Correct. It is not new. Therefore, it should be construed as deliberate.

      Open borders without all the mess and bad public relations.

      The “consumer” is “holding up” and the economy is “booming” so what’s the problem? Voters are more concerned about transvestites feeling comfortable and accepted when they’re peeing anywayzzzzzz.

    4. Arizona Slim

      Wouldn’t it be fun to see the US-based employees teaching their replacements how to do things the wrong way? Come on, people. Think of the opportunities for sabotage!

    5. jef

      For a CEO to not pursue the lowest possible labor cost is to “leave money on the table”.
      It’s called the profit motive, not the warm and fuzzy motive.

      1. inode_buddha

        … And now, 40 years later we have a nation of people that can’t really afford anything but cheap imported crap that used to be their jobs, and they buy it on credit. That game of musical chairs will end someday. And then all the CEO’s will wonder WTF happened.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I’d bet those CEOs would know beyond the shadow of a doubt “what happened,” because THEY were the ones (along with their cutthroat minions and vulture capitalists and Banksters) who made that “giant sucking sound” happen. And they will all go off, consequence-free and filthy rich, like that sh!t from BP, Tony Hayward, who post-Deepwater Horizon mega-blowout, “wanted his life back” and of course got it,

          Are we mad enough yet? Or is righteous anger followed by direct action no longer in the cards or on the table/

          1. inode_buddha

            Some people are only alive because its illegal to shoot them. These “small government” people should be grateful it protects even them.

            EVERY one of the great brands has been hollowed out and offshored by these management geniuses, completely gutting my region (Great Lakes) and the stuff we made.

            Today, these giants of capitalism no linger make product; they simply make money. And the workers make little or nothing.

        1. flora

          adding: Chuck Prince wasn’t wrong, though he was reviled for stating the obvious.

          This is why govt regulations must act as a counter force when the ‘music’ that’s playing leads CEOs to all behave in the same economically dangerous way. It can’t be left up to individual CEOs to stop dancing to the music, knowing other CEOs will keep dancing and eat his company’s lunch. The only thing that’s a countervailing force strong enough to change the music is govt regulation. (Too bad the current DC govt seems to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall St.).

      2. Darius

        Cost cutting and outsourcing lead to crapification and airplanes falling out of the sky. In the end, bad for the business. Good for fund managers who walk away with all the assets, leaving a smoking crater that used to be a productive business. We’re living off the fumes of former greatness destroyed by hyper-incentivized greed.

      3. ShamanicFallout

        jef- does your CEO’s ‘pursuit of the lowest possible labor cost’ include himself and his C-Suite comrades?

    6. flora

      the Axios story – Pity the poor stock holders, wall st., and the plutocrats who must spend a little extra, costing them some money and efficiency, in order to keep their employees scared, overworked, underpaid, and demoralized. That’s the key thing for the neoliberal owners, imo, keeping the work force underpaid and demoralized.

      Just think what less demoralized or scared employees could do to the sweet setup the monopolists have now; employees could contact OSHA about unsafe working conditions, lobby legislators to raise the minimum wage, blow the whistle on corporate war profiteering and corporate medical/Phrma profiteering, start a competing business. Monopolists like their employees too demoralized to even think of doing any of these things, imo.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    45 Years of Rebellion Craig Murray

    A very depressing read, although in my limited direct experience, he is correct.

    It also made me realise how lucky I am. I have been a career diplomat, a British Ambassador, the Rector of Dundee University, a bestselling author and Chairman of a successful energy company. All that was possible on an entirely state education, including full maintenance grants. And it was possible without ever having dissembled or hidden my personal radical beliefs – including turning down three separate honours from the Queen on grounds of republicanism and Scottish nationalism.

    I can recall once making a phone call to a senior London civil servant in the 1990’s on a business matter and being surprised when he casually mentioned his intense ideological dislike of Blair despite being an old style Labour supporter. I also know of open northern Ireland Republicans and Sinn Fein supporters who had no problem getting jobs in the civil service (although obviously they were steered away from anything to do with security). There has little doubt I think been a gradual and successful policy since at least the 1980’s of insuring that anyone with radical politics has no chance of a successful public sector career in the UK – and this extends out from the civil service into academia and other public sector areas. While its easy to blame Blair, I think it predates him, although his insistence on personal loyalty was certainly a precipitating factor.

    1. flora

      The Murray link confirmed my foggy, half-baked, assessment that New Labour in the UK and the New Dems in the US were/are authoritarians at heart. It’s the authoritarianism as much as anything that drove me away from the US New Dem camp.

      Thanks to J-LS for the link to Murray’s article.

    2. norm de plume

      He was lucky too, to be born when he was. That schoolboy stunt, had it occurred in the last decade, would be filed away in the cloud (the emails to and from headmaster and parents if nothing else, but probably footage from the many school cameras as well), there to be accessed any time some automated algorithmic HR system dealt with an application from him for even the lowliest bureaucratic position. Ascent under such circumstances seems nigh on impossible.

    3. xkeyscored

      a gradual and successful policy since at least the 1980’s of insuring that anyone with radical politics has no chance …
      I strongly suspect the terms radicalisation and deradicalisation, referring to steering people towards or away from jihadism, were carefully chosen so as to be easily extended to radical politics or opinions.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    As Shale Wells Age, Gap Between Forecasts and Performance Grows WSJ

    This article is quite a big deal – I’ve been reading analysts and bloggers querying shale oil/gas projections for years, but unless I’m mistaken, this is the first time I’ve seen it openly discussed in one of the major financial papers. As analysts like Arthur Berman have been pointing out for a long time, projections based on ‘sweet spot’ drillings have a habit of disappointing, and this has very serious implications for financial projections for investors. It seems like time is proving him to be right.

    1. cnchal

      Albertans have been watching the dark cloud looming over shale oil, . . . . with glee. The next tar sands boom will be epic. After that, the rest of the world burns too.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        They could be disappointed. First off, tar sands and tight (fracked) oil are locked in an embrace – they need each other as most north American refineries can only refine a mix of both. Plus there has also been a significant increase in output in the Middle East, this could well keep international prices well below what is needed for Albertan style oil mining.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis leaves it badly behind in ‘arms race’ for next decade’s jets Seattle Times

    Without the crashes, he thinks Boeing could have “turned on a dime” to pivot toward that idea. Now, with cash squeezed and debt mounting, he fears the Boeing board won’t make the necessary investment and will lose that market completely to Airbus.

    Yet the best Boeing strategy is not obvious.

    Pilarksi agrees that Boeing needs to catch that next wave. But he still sees the NMA concept as Boeing’s best answer to the A321neo. The NMA plan includes new, innovative production technology that he thinks Boeing should apply to a MAX replacement only some years later.

    Whatever strategy is chosen, he said that as it emerges from the MAX crisis, Boeing needs to “tell the market that it is not out of business.”

    “They need a moonshot,” said Pilarski. “They better start working on it. I’m sure they are.”

    I really wonder if the rot in Boeing is so deep that they are not capable of the type of moonshot they will need to recover their reputation. As the article linked yesterday in American Conservative pointed out, they’ve farmed out so much technology and knowhow to Japan they may simply not be capable of building and designed a radical new aircraft. And if they have to do it in partnership with a company like Mitsubishi or even Comac, they may well find themselves quickly becoming the junior partner.

    Incidentally, I was looking up out of curiousity the fate of the Aurora D8, an experimental NASA designed super fuel efficient aircraft that Boeing accidentally bought when it took over the designers because they were interested in their drone technology. According to Wikipedia:

    Since the purchase by Boeing, the Aurora D8 is no longer mentioned on the Aurora website or in Boeing press releases.

    That says all you need to know I think.

  10. Bugs Bunny


    “Putin thanks Trump for information that helped prevent acts of terrorism in Russia in phone call”

    Links to an Outlook inbox.

  11. timbers

    What Happened When Trump Reshaped a Powerful Court Slate

    From the article: “The 5th Circuit’s descent into lawlessness did not happen by accident. Senate Republicans would not let President Barack Obama fill several seats on the court…”

    You see? Republicans wouldn’t let Obama appoint judges. It wasn’t Obama’s fault, and that’s why Obama didn’t ever bother nominating a lot of judges. Because he knew the Republican’s wouldn’t let him.

    That’s why we need to vote for Biden or Hillary. Because Republican won’t let them appoint judges, either.

    Only Republican Presidents can appoint judges. That’s because it’s in the constitution. 60 votes or something like that.

    Remember the Good O’le Days during Obama’s Presidency spending years hashing that constitutional reason thingy why Obama couldn’t pass anything or get anything done w/o Bipartisanshipy-ness even though he had one of the largest Congressional majorities in history plus a voter mandate?

    But a voice in the back of my head tells me maybe a President Bernie Sanders can appointed judges if he gets mad at Republican, they might let him.

    1. AC

      The dems could have simply crashed the system by not finding the budget or a least the military until a vote was held on the Obama judges. The judiciary accounts for 1/3 of our government. So, take a stand.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    The World’s Recycling System Is Falling Apart. What’s Going On? Foundation for Economic Education

    A pretty shoddy article that somehow manages to blame government intervention for the failures of recycling.

    The reality is that when raw inputs are so cheap (often because of huge hidden subsidies to the mining/oil/gas industry) recycling can never succeed without an element of compulsion. The manufacturers of recycled goods cannot invest without some type of guarantee of a supply of material, and only governments can provide this. Certainly in Europe, it was the deregulation of waste collection that was one of the primary drivers behind the move towards low grade ‘mixed’ recyclables collections, rather than higher quality separation at source.

    1. witters

      A pretty shoddy article that somehow manages to blame government intervention for the failures of recycling.

      I would differ only on the “somehow” – for the intent of the article (and what made it truly shoddy) was simply that.

  13. QuarterBack

    Re data privacy in the age of the Cloud, it is worth recalling Steve Wozniak’s 2012 warnings on the initial rush into cloud computing without thinking it through. He really nailed the essence of how the business model would fail us. He predicted huge problems with security, privacy, and intellectual property rights.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for that. Maybe I’ll forward it to some coworkers the next time I try to mention that having our company use the cloud is a bad idea and receive a look like I’m crazy in response. I mean management got to fire some people when we switched over so it must be a great idea, right? /s

      1. RMO

        “The Cloud” A.K.A. “All Your Stuff Is On Someone Else’s Servers Somewhere, Sucker” I’m not surprised that Wozniak would have a problem with it as the early personal computer people seemed to be all about having the data and the power in the hands of individuals rather than making them dependent upon remote corporations that are unanswerable to the public. Streaming, software-as-a-service etc. take us even deeper down the crapification bore hole.

        1. LifelongLib

          The sad thing is that some of those things would be worth having, if we could trust the people providing them. Not everyone has the expertise or inclination to properly run their own computer system. I wonder if some sort of co-op setup where the members actually owned the service provider could work.

  14. Summer

    RE: Australia Fires

    “Elsewhere in the state, a major New Year’s Eve music festival has been cancelled after organisers said the bushfire threat was too dangerous.
    Some 9,000 people had already been camping at the Falls Festival in Lorne.
    Access is by a single track, meaning it would not be possible for festival-goers to evacuate quickly.”

    Glad organizers came to their senses and saved at least 9,000 either with grand delusions of immortality or that particular obliviousness…

    1. norm de plume

      My wife and daughter received texts on their phones on Sunday night while holidaying in East Gippsland with the inlaws, and got out that night, managing to drive back to Canberra. The train scheduled to bring them home to Sydney this morning was cancelled, and while travelling on the replacement bus just now they have received another text warning that the road too may soon be closed.

      This is what the bullet they dodged looks like:

      The footage from Mallacoota beach at 9am yesterday is something else.

  15. Summer

    Re: Elon Musk / Underground highways

    Has anyone ever asked him, “Why do you think you have the right to tear up everything?
    Who hurt you?”

    You can tell the ones that never really stopped feeling small and life is a constant trying to prove how big they are. The insecurity and fear still seeps through.

      1. no, not that

        His goal is 12,000. He was never a backyard astronomer. Reminds me of Delos D. Harriman, the Man Who Sold the Moon, wanting to burn a soft drink logo, visible from Earth, onto the lunar surface.

    1. John

      If we were by some miracle to get the 5 trillion we need to rebuild the infrastructure of this country should we repair all this country’s 4.09 million miles of roads and highways as we head into an unknown future that will must certainly include a rapid decline of cheap fossil fuel? (10 years of proven reserves left in the U.S.)

      People have built millions of houses all through the countryside. Once they don’t have the fossil fuel cars/trucks (the fuel becomes too expensive) they now depend on how will they get around? They are stuck miles from cities and towns.

      I don’t see electric cars replacing all our millions of cars. We can’t even get any serious consensuses on building out a national passenger train network no less actually building it. Which wouldn’t help these people anyhow.

      Should we be planning to go back to the 6 mile between towns that people or horses could walk/pull a cart in one day?

      Underground highways by Mush. I mean Musk. Right.

      1. inode_buddha

        I know plenty of people out in the sticks for whom going into town is optional. They are not the “new rich” who have built houses all over the countryside.

        They live typically in a 750 sq ft house that was built in the 1850’s, it has been insulated and re-done a few times since then. 110v electric only — no dryer. Hang your clothes on the line.
        Acres of land to draw upon.
        Own well water.
        One wall furnace heats the whole place for 3 years on a tank of propane.
        3 freezers full of food, and a half acre of veggies out back. Deer meat.
        The only reason they have to go into town is to buy toilet paper and go to the doctors.

        I guarantee their carbon footprint is every bit as low as an urban apartment dweller, if not more so. They are *far* more independent.

        It is *nothing* like the country living you see in those slick expensive magazines.

        1. John

          I know quite a few people living in the “sticks”. Most of them have jobs and are not just able to live off their land. Maybe you are talking Alaska, I’m talking the millions of people in the lower 48 who have built homes in the countryside.

          They all depend on gas powered cars and trucks to drive to and from their jobs and town where they buy most of their food. Yes they kill a deer or two each year but if all their neighbors were suddenly depending on deermeat rather than the supermarket to survive the deer population wouldn’t last that long. There are houses every few acres.

          1. inode_buddha

            Nope, this is in the lower 48, NY in fact. I have to feel sorry for your neighbors tho, not having any idea how to get by. The people I mention have been on their property for over a hundred years, it was paid off long ago and kept in the family. They all worked in local businesses that were less than 3 miles away, and still in the sticks. The deer populations around here are booming in spite of hunting.

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              C’mon, man. It’s not a personal failing to hitch up the buckboard and go over to the mercantile once in awhile. They probably have better wifi over there anyway.

        2. The Historian

          Having grown up in the boonies and seen most of the boonies in Montana, I wonder where your mythical place is that plenty of people live in, because I’d like to go there.

          For instance, I know that if you get 110V from your power line, you also get 220V too. There aren’t separate lines for voltage. If they aren’t using 220, it is because they don’t want to. But I also know that if you have a half acre garden, you aren’t watering it by hand – you are using a 220V pump to get that much water from your well.

          I also know how much meat is on a deer since I grew up eating deer meat – it’s only about 40lbs per deer. Your plenty of people must be poaching to get enough deer meat to eat all year.

          And I wonder how big that propane tank is that they only need to fill it every three years – or maybe it is because they rarely use it. In Montana, you’d be lucky to get three months out of a 500 gallon propane tank.

          As far as going into town to see a doctor, well, the doctor might not be in your town, you might have to drive more than just a few miles if you want to see that doctor. As far as seeing a specialist or going to a hospital, the drive might be even longer.

          And as far as being “independent”, that is a myth. Rural people depend on their neighbors much more than urban dwellers do. When anything breaks down, you don’t call a service company, you call your neighbors. If there is a blizzard, you are out checking on your neighbors and their animals. When your ditch needs clearing, you call on that neighbor that has the ditch witch. When your road needs plowing, you don’t wait for the state – the guy that has the biggest blade usually comes out. I know that in rural areas, you don’t need a map – you know where Rita’s place is, or where Joe’s farm is and that is how you give out directions. You get hurt? You are going to call on your volunteer fire department first and hope that an EMT is available. And I could go on.

          Rural America is NOT some idyllic place where you can be “independent” and do your own thing – it is a hard place to work and live if you aren’t rich – much harder than living in a city.

          1. inode_buddha

            I know because I’ve been there. I grew up working there. And no, its a shallow dug well, 110 only from the pole. A sump pump motor does it. I’m not saying it’s an idyllic place, it’s hard work, I damn well know that because I’ve done it. What I am saying is that the positives far outweigh the negatives compared to urban life, especially with regards to pollution etc. Frankly I take the part about neighbors for granted — maybe I shouldn’t. The propane tank is 2,000 gallons.

            1. The Historian

              I agree – not all rural areas are the same – what works in your area probably wouldn’t work here. I’m glad you’ve found a place that suits you!

              1. inode_buddha

                Dunno, never been to Montana – I heard its beautiful. I can say that the winters here are brutal (just outside Buffalo NY). I should have mentioned that propane is not the only thing — there is also kerosene and wood stove to supplement on the really bad days.

                I still hate pulling weeds tho.

          2. S.D.

            …not some idyllic place.

            Especially for health care- even in a notoriously “rural” state like NY there are plenty of places-including small cities where anything more advanced than a 1960’s standard of care for a heart attack or stroke is more than 60 miles away.
            The odds for people who suffer one of these events in truly rural states must be dismal.

          3. David B Harrison

            The rugged individualist myth is hard to kill even amongst left leaning people.I live 32 miles from my place of work because there are no good paying jobs where I live.It is pretty common here and many have longer commutes than I do.My area has been gentrified nearly beyond recognition.The people that move in sometimes have a bourgeois survivalist mentality.They have a large cache of weapons,store food and they are all well to do conservative libertarians.They live in a fantasy world and would be unable to survive any form of societal breakdown for long.Most of the people that live in this part of rural America have no self sufficiency skills whatsoever(except hunting and fishing which they practice in fifty thousand dollar pickups and eight cylinder bass boats).This entire nation is completely dependent on the fossil fuel infrastructure and would descend into chaos without it.Only high density all in one cities surrounded by farms can break our fossil fuel addiction.

            1. inode_buddha

              *shrug* I think that eliminating urban areas will solve the problem. I’ve never seen smog in a county of less than 50,000. Fortunately, we’re well on track for this to become reality.

              1. David B Harrison

                Actually I was thinking of Lewis Mumfords’ garden cities concept.I don’t think that massive cities are a good idea.Cities should be designed to promote social cohesion which means if they are too large then that cohesion is nearly impossible.When people talk about carbon footprints they leave out actual physical footprints.320 million people are going to need a lot of space to go back to the land.Where does nature fit in all of this.An all in one city(right sized) is a more efficient use of land and resources.Places of employment,medical facilities,food production,educational facilities,recreation, one place.The ability to age in place and have permanent social ties.Personal transportation is the single biggest destroyer of community on earth.These cities could be connected by light rail.

        3. Bugs Bunny

          Hey, what about those of us who don’t want to be independent, don’t want to be entrepreneurs, just want to live in a clean, comfortable place, earn a salary and retire decently – is there still a place for us?

          A nice rabbit hole and some carrots, I’ll be fine.

    2. BlakeFelix

      In defense of Musk, have you ever driven in LA? The urban design of Socal hurts a lot of people every day.

      1. JeffC

        Yes, I have driven in L.A., and you’re right.

        At the same time, how is a car tunnel under the city going to move near enough people per hour to matter? And at what capital (incl nonrenewable resources) cost per person per hour moved per year of operation? If tunneling is really super-duper desired, maybe someone should invent… the subway! Or even better in a physical environment like L.A., that special above-ground subway, the elevated train!

    1. The Historian

      Or it could be that it is coming from Australia and they are having serious problems down there right now.

        1. UserFriendly

          Yes and its been down often lately. I would be shocked if it wasn’t ddos from empire enthusiasts. Search the title of the article and you can get it on medium.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “They’re abysmal students”: Are cell phones destroying the college classroom?”

    My first thought was why not employ a mobile phone jammer. But in the US for radio communications, it is illegal to operate, manufacture, import, or offer for sale, including advertising, mobile phone jammers. Blocking radio communications in public can carry fines of up to $112,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year. But if you are the US government you get to do it whenever you want.
    Oh well, as they say – you can lead a student to the classroom, but you can’t make them study.

    1. The Historian

      Johnstone’s links have been up and down for me the past couple of days. Sometimes I can get it, sometimes I just get an error message.

  17. Wukchumni

    “They’re abysmal students”: Are cell phones destroying the college classroom? Ars Technica
    The comments are a treasure trove of titillating forbidden ground, as I never went to college, and truth be said for many years I felt not quite worthy and made up for it by being open to learning all I could in regards to subjects that piqued my interest-which continues to this day, and for me the key was memorization and connections which tied the room together nicely.

    Hand held computers have done away with the need to remember anything, just enter the keywords and it’ll spit out a 2 page Wikipedia article on a 293 page book, and frankly nail the gist of the tome in a hyper Cliffs Notes fashion, there you know it all-but know nothing at the same time, how convenient.

    1. Acacia

      Hand held computers have done away with the need to remember anything …

      “Panther Moderns,” Case said to the Hosaka, removing the trodes. “Five minute precis.”
      “Ready,” the computer said.
      Neuromancer (1984)

  18. Summer

    RE: U.S Workers / Training foreign replacements

    This should be discussed in tandem with article posted in links the other day:

    A remote worker from Vietnam (just one example) is cheaper than a remote worker from anywhere in the USA.

    A remote worker from any country with healthcare subsidized outside the private sector is going to be cheaper than a worker anywhere in the USA. All of the examples here are far from “third world.”

    1. Bob

      This frosts me !!

      Are hourly wage rates cheaper offshore ? Yes.

      This is a very superficial, simplistic read on cost savings. Any half way decent manager knows to focus on where the largest costs are.
      As an example, some 90% of aluminum manufacturing costs are electricity. With the result that the aluminum industry is located where there is plenty of cheap power – think TVA, BPA, Iceland and so forth.
      Point being is that any real manager knows to focus on the quotient of each portion of cost.
      Often time labor cost is around 10- 15 % of total cost.

      1. rd

        Low labor costs are also coupled with reduced or no environmental or safety compliance. We are offshoring our pollution and worker injuries along with the jobs. We are now seeing the push-back starting as those countries send the recycling back that we off-shored to them on the assumption they would magically recycle our trash. As the population in those countries get wealthier, they are starting to insist on cleaner environments and safer jobs. The costs off-shore will eventually be similar to the costs in North America but with a lot more transportation and logistics involved.

  19. Polar Donkey

    I went across the Drake on the Laurence M Gould research vessel. Weather was pretty good (18 ft swells) and people still got sea sick. Those guys were crazy.

    1. Wukchumni

      Pushing the limits of human endurance is kind of what we’ve always been about, but it can get really stupid, the things people attempt.

      There was a veritable shitlode of snow in the Sierra last winter, setting up the tableau for avalanches deep in the backcountry, along with 150+ mph winds on ridgelines, it’s natures way of saying stay away.

      This Marine decided he’d go on a long ski all by himself, and went missing, and we were in Mammoth watching a number of USMC helicopters going back and forth in a search for him-to no avail, and this summer after the snow had melted off in August, a friend who is a law enforcement ranger in the frontcountry of Sequoia NP with extensive backcountry experience was sent to go find a needle in a haystack for a fortnight and came up predictably with bupkis, and it’d be one thing if the semper fi got lost near trails in the summer, but he could’ve been anywhere in the winter, a completely different set of circumstances. He’s dead alright, but the search for his body has probably cost in the many millions by now, all because he did something, frankly foolish.

      When a massive multi-agency aerial search in the High Sierras revealed heat coming from a snow-covered location along the Sierra High Route, family members of 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft were hopeful.

      The infantry Marine, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines at Twentynine Palms based out of Camp Pendleton, had undertaken a two-week backcountry ski trip along the 195-mile route beginning in the Inyo Forest near Lone Pine. The trip, which started Feb. 24 was to be done over 10 days, and Kraft, 24, notified family and the Marine Corps that he expected to arrive at Bridgeport March 4 or 5.

      When Kraft didn’t arrive as planned, a search began.

      Thermal imaging from low-flying aircraft picked up a heat spot. But upon closer inspection, search crews found it was a hibernating bear.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m surprised someone doing something like that didn’t bring a GPS tracker of some kind. Its one thing to put yourself at risk, but if you know that if things go wrong then other people then have to put themselves at risk to rescue you, then you’ve a responsibility to make things easier for them.

        Here in Ireland, where conditions are much less overtly dangerous, mountain rescue teams often have to go out in foul conditions to rescue very experienced and hard core hikers who simply underestimate the dangers of what can seem quite mild hikes (the problem in Ireland is that there are fewer defined trails over upland heaths/bogs, making it easier for the unwary to get disorientated in bad weather). They call it ‘the Austrian Syndrome’, as its usually people from Alpine areas who are most prone to that mistake.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “The Syrian town with more cats than people”

    I’m calling this psyops in the same way that that little girl Bana was in Aleppo. Read a long time ago that Aleppo was a city famous for being cat friendly and during the occupation, this guy made a name for himself saving cats in spite of the bombardments. The internet is saturated with stories about him. Now he has set up shop in Idlib which just happens to be occupied by al-Quada. I’m seeing the same sort of thing on the news where they say that the Russians and the Syrians are bombing and killing civilians and hospitals in Idlib. Not a single mention of the Jihadists there or their losses. They don’t seem to exist.

    About a week or two ago the Syrians launched an operation to take back the southern chunk of Idlib. ‘The general aim of the re-launched campaign is to liberate the cities Maarat al-Numan and Saraqib and to gain control over the north to south M5 highway between Hama and Aleppo.’ The campaign seems to be going well and now there is a second Turkish “Observation Post” behind Syrian Army lines. But the Turks have their hands full with Libya at the moment and so are diverted.

    A problem for the Jihadists is that more than a few of them went to Turkey where they were transported by the Turks to Libya to fight against Haftar’s forces. But there are still plenty left. The Turks are threatening to send refugees on to Europe and the Europeans know full well who these people are. Trump made a threat but has not done any more since he is occupied with events in Iraq. He has been patting himself on the back over the attacks on positions in Iraq and Syria today but unmentioned is the fact that the Iraqis are furious with them as those troops have been fighting for Iraq.

    1. John A

      Good spot Kev. I was only surprised the BBC propaganda didn’t insert a couple of lines about how the Russians keep bombing all the veterinarian hospitals.

    2. pjay

      Thanks for this. My earlier comment disappeared, so I just wanted to acknowledge your very relevant observation.

  21. Wukchumni

    Driving down the ‘Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial Highway’ (what were the ones that didn’t make it, chopped liver?) or as most call it: Hwy 99, I hadn’t been on the stretch from Fresno to Sacramento in a year, and so many homeless hovels along the way, along with an amazing amount of trash strewn all over the place, as if whoever used to take care of keeping the areas adjacent to the roadbed tidy, got raptured.

    Lessened not learned.

  22. Summer

    RE: “Abysmal students / phones / classroom”

    So the schools are worried about all the constant “logging in.”
    Well, in the workplace now are constant proddings to sign in to all forms of sites for “communication”…all just other forms of email at end of the day whether “slack,” “ms teams”, etc. and all in addition to the basic work email address.

    “Turkle argued that too many of us are using technology in ways designed to kill solitude, relieve awkwardness, keep us feeling safe, and provide connection… on our terms…”

    That last part, about everyone wanting to communicate or connect on their own terms has a lot to do with it. The work email is more than sufficient for dealing with workplace issues and people, but all of these side email accounts (that is all they are) are usually about creating the impression that you will get more rapid reaponse and constant attention.

    So the schools want them to sign out and the workplaces can’t stop thinking of more tedious email accounts or ither sites for you to have to manage…

    1. petal

      I tutored a high school student (once or twice a week) for the last couple years in STEM and liberal arts subjects(wherever help was needed at the time). All of their classwork had to be submitted electronically. Even the labs and science questions had to be filled in online(no drawing in graphs with a pencil, etc). They couldn’t even print out assignments(weren’t allowed, I was told). They all have small ipads with which to submit stuff. I was gobsmacked, having been out of high school for about 20 years. He had difficulty with recall, concentrating, didn’t want to read textbooks or write out notes(which would’ve helped him with remembering the material). He was dependent on the ipad. Couldn’t do the basics that us older folks take for granted. All he really knew how to do was quickly look stuff up on the internet-it and the movements to do so were like second nature to him. He was unable to work through things and grind it out. His intellectual curiosity was nil. He was just concerned with getting the answer right, and it stopped there. It was a nightmare for me. I tried to convince him to do these things and that it would help solve his problems, but he wasn’t having it. The behaviour had become ingrained after several years, and it wasn’t something I could change.

      He had to log into the ipad/school system just to get his assignments. The teachers would post assignments there, not list it during or at the end of class like when I was in school. I could see a disconnect, but was told this electronic stuff made the teachers’ lives much easier and saved them all sorts of time, and that there was no fighting city hall. They’d use the exact same assignments, quizzes or tests every year(and admit so) because they didn’t want to have to come up with new questions or rotate questions.

      The dependency on electronics is damaging. I don’t have kids, and I despair for my friends that do and have them in schools. A couple sets of friends homeschool(no, they’re not religious or nutty), and every day that I came home from a tutoring session, it seemed like a better and better idea. I wonder if or when things will go back to how they were, before electronics in the classroom. What will it take for it to happen? Where is the red line? How bad does it have to get, and how many kids will it have messed up? What will the long term effects be on them and society?

      1. Summer

        ” I wonder if or when things will go back to how they were, before electronics in the classroom.”

        Check this…the tech moguls pushing this on classrooms have other ideas for THEIR children:

        1. petal

          Great(and insidious) way to finally destroy the public school system while making a buck? Crapify it and the kids coming out of it so badly, funding is decreased further, and it provides a bigger opening for charter industry, etc, to take over? What can you do if you disagree with the electronics system currently in place? It seems overwhelming(and impossible) to fight the school districts. How do you counter at home in the evening what they are having drilled into them all day, every day? You’re stuck and at the mercy of the system if you can’t afford private school(if there’s even one nearby) or a spouse to stay home to homeschool. Your kid comes out messed up with a poor education, and is locked into the permanent underclass? Seems like a great long-term plan, really(from POV of those in power). It’s brilliant.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Can the public school administrators who are buying this electronic junk afford to send their kids to private schools? If so, that’s a problem in itself. Do they even have children?

            I don’t fully grasp the long-term advantage of creating an ignorant, unhappy, poorly motivated, and permanent underclass.

            1. GF

              “I don’t fully grasp the long-term advantage of creating an ignorant, unhappy, poorly motivated, and permanent underclass.”

              Let’s see: Amazon workers, meat packing workers, farm laborers, prison guards to name just a few occupations. Once immigration has been stopped, this is our future low skill, low wage worker pool.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                It doesn’t sound like much of a long-term plan to me. “You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.” — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [I only know this quote from the movie “Cloud Atlas”.]

            2. polecat

              Like I’ve mention before .. ‘Idiocracy’, the movie … was a primer !

              Touch screens, anyone ?? .. like the one on my own Big Tech unpersonalized stasi box ! Just wait till, like the Navy say …or most hospitals ..or Gob forbid !!!, our Nu-Ku-Lar minuteless men, having their own finishing touches downloaded from some black-hearted stormcloud, courtesy of Jeffery, Elon, Bill, and the rested …

              …and we think ‘elections forwarding new blood’ will make a big diff. It won’t, we’re screwed, so might as well go long monasteries .. and the means to actually retrieve, and be willing and able to utilize, any priceless information contained therein !
              Think of the children .. and Their children .. and THEIR children’s children … and ………..

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I suppose I could counter-argue that we now have simple electronic devices in our hands that give access to substantially all the world’s knowledge. Previously much of education was rote learning to memorize facts that would be useful: how many centimeters in an inch, how to spell “discombobulated”. (Proof: I just misspelled “discombobulated” and the nice machine corrected it for me).

                So skill in manipulating these devices would seem to be very useful. We probably need an entirely new curriculum, maybe it’s a classic liberal arts education, logic, philosophy, history, civics, literature, alongside real-world stuff like how to read a bank statement, how to shop for insurance, alongside very specific job-related skills.

                1. polecat

                  Well, ok ….. hunkydory ! That works as long as the spice continues to flow ….
                  When the energy tap runs low .. or trickles down, first slowly – with much intermittence, then all at one .. what then ??
                  Don’t be so sure we’ll have the majik of constant, or even any, electricity flow at our touch-button fingertips going backward !

            3. sthub

              Having a stupid underclass may make them more tractable, but it’s also arguable that a poor and downtrodden underclass has absolutely nothing to lose, which may make them more dangerous.

              But a key tenant of this sort of education seems to be getting people to believe that their lack of success is somehow their own fault, rather than a fault of the system for being so unfairly structured. Think neoliberal The Secret.

              If this kind of education can keep people poor, stupid AND self-blaming, that will keep power consolidated and prevent revolt.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        The part of your comment that jumped out at me: “… intellectual curiosity was nil.” That was happening before the electronic madness. That describes my son, and to a lesser extent, my daughter, after twelve years in the public school system.

        I haven’t seen the electronic madness you described although I did see early signs of it creeping into the local junior college as I took a last class there. None of the students except me took physical notes. They all recorded the class session on their phones and captured diagrams from the chalk-board using their phone cameras. I was a trouble maker because I asked too many questions. Most of the class had little or nothing to say.

        I have great difficulty understanding how anyone could enjoy a Good Life without intellectual curiosity and I have no idea how or why the school systems have succeeded so well at extinguishing curiosity.

      3. Cuibono

        My son was enrolled in a Homeschoolers Charter School. They instituted this SAME FORMAT recently. Mandatory online class and home work. Hours of computer time. Lots of it wasted dealing with tech glitches. I say” WAS enrolled.

        1. polecat

          “We aim to please … So on behalf of us at Carl’s Junior, Have a Nice & F#CK You !”

          Aren’t we already there .. in so many vailed terms ??

          1. polecat

            “Fact becomes myth, myth becomes legend … and for two hundred + years we’ve had idiots for presidentins … and events like Monster truck rallies featuring the One, the Only, the Awsome – Beef Supreme !”
            We are close .. sooo close .. to becoming a society of blubbering morons. The Amazon Ring has but to only find itself on the door-step of every flat-footed moke throughout the land of Shire and Swamp .. and the Republic Will Fall.

      4. lyman alpha blob

        I am similarly shocked as my kid goes through the public school system. Just started middle school and pretty much everything is done using tech. Every kid now gets an iPad and all work is done through google docs. There is nothing parents can do about it – all I can do is say I don’t want them posting pictures of my kid on the internet but I have no idea whether even that’s being adhered to. I doubt it is because a teacher had already attached my kid’s picture to a google account without asking which is what prompted us to ask them to knock it off. Google took the picture down (the school couldn’t do it themselves for some reason) but now that they have the “data” of my kid’s face, I’m sure they haven’t removed it from their servers completely. I asked the district’s tech director about how google would use all the info they’re hoovering up from these kids and he said google had promised them they wouldn’t be doing anything bad with it. Believing that seems extraordinarily naive.

        Grading is done using software that spits out incomprehensible report cards. The administrator who pushed to have that installed just quit to go work for the grading software company(!). But that’s not corruption I’m told by the school board; it’s just the way things are done.

        I’ve argued for years that all this tech does not help kids learn math better or learn to write better – it helps them learn to use the tech better with the added side benefit for the tech companies of getting them addicted at a young age. And with the schools pushing it on even the youngest kids, try telling them they then aren’t old enough to have a device of some sort at home.

        I really don’t understand how adults who have advanced degrees in education don’t understand that moar tech is not working. As Summer notes, the titans of industry send their kids to schools without tech. So why are public schools still larding up classrooms with more even as they complain there’s not enough money to do things that actually help kids learn, like paying and retaining good teachers?

        To answer that question I suppose they’d need to hire another layer of administration at mid six figure salaries to do a study…

        1. jo6pac

          I agree then that layer will outsource the study to consultants so their finger print aren’t on the study.

          To answer that question I suppose they’d need to hire another layer of administration at mid six figure salaries to do a study…

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I think it might be time to take more interest in the local school boards. If citizens no longer control what goes on in their local schools — paid for with local taxes [though controlled from above by state governments] what do they control … or care about, since that is a large part of the problem. And who has time to sit through the deliberate crap-pile local government processes slog through to deliberately stultify and quell public concern and dissent?

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            [I apologize for creating a sub-thread to this discussion but I believe it is a fitting side-bar.] Ever visit a meeting of your local school board, city or county council? I remember waiting for three hours, along with more than a hundred angry home-owners, as ‘our’ city council considered how many parking spaces to allow at a proposed new retail building, along with other similarly compelling old business. It was more than half-past ten o’clock at night before Robert’s Rules finally allowed for new business. A local airport — originally there to support crop-dusters — intended to expand by extending their runways to allow private jet landings, and by adding more helicopter pads. All the flight paths were close to the ground and went directly over the surrounding suburban areas that now enclosed the airport.

            We were allowed to blow-off steam and after a noticeable number of people had left, beaten down by the banality of it all, our august mayor deigned to inform us that the issue was a state matter outside the jurisdiction of the local city and county governments and the city would be taking no part in the matter. [I left that city not long after that but for other reasons.]

      5. flora

        Teach to the test, aka ‘no child left behind act of 2001′, (aka defund public schools based on standardized test results. ) Drove a lot of good teachers out of the profession, left a lot of kids stressed out, get the right answer quickly and move to the next question, destroying public school k-12 education as I knew it. Then the Gates’ and Bushs’ and other edu/digital/profiteers and privatizers moved in. my 2 cents.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Education in the US has a budget of $1.3 trillion (public and private, all levels) a year which is 7.2% of GDP according to Wikipedia. That is a massive honey pot that is irresistible to corporations and Silicon Valley who want it for themselves. And now we are seeing the results in their involvement. Would you believe that in backwoods Missouri in the 19th century, young students got an education that would surpass what a senior college student gets nowadays? Pity that that system could not be re-adopted.

    3. Acacia

      University prof here. Over the past twenty years, I have watched the incursion of electronic devices into the classroom. Facing the students from the front of the room, of course we notice everything. I remember one student who always had her cellphone sitting on the desk, and checked for messages habitually every minute or two. In a flash, I realized that probably she sleeps with her phone in the bed at night, always close.

      The consensus from my colleagues is all of this is a net negative. The point of debate is only how to respond. Some colleagues have a policy to simply ban the use of cellphones in class. Others allow devices but make a point of walking through the classroom and calling attention to students who are looking at social media.

      Since I understand that many of them use notebook computers or tablets to take notes, I haven’t banned devices. Nor do I want to assume the role of in-class policeman.

      Participation in discussion is 20% of a students’ grade, so on the first day I tell them that frequent use of a cellphone will almost certainly impact their grade. I mention that Internet addiction is a thing — I see it all the time. I tell them that some good research has been done on students who multi-task and it indicates that those who do so actually get worse results (i.e., we believe that multi-tasking enables us to do more, but in fact we do each task more poorly), and their grades suffer on an average of 10-15%.

      I tell them that if they want to risk the 20% participation grade, and 10-15% hit to their grade overall — i.e., if they want to risk not passing the course — it’s their choice.

    1. John

      People don’t have a strong intuitive sense of how much bigger 1 billion is
      than 1 million.

      1 million seconds is about 11 days.

      1 billion seconds is about 31.5 years.

      Now multiply 31.5 years x 131 billion (Jeff Bezos 2019 worth).
      4,126.5 years.

      Now you can clearly see why Amazon needs to be subsidized by billions of taxpayer dollars.

      1. allan

        As a reminder, you really need a logarithmic scale to understand how skewed the income and wealth distributions are. Here is a chart from a few years ago, and the 2017 tax bill certainly made it worse.

        This is why the “Dream Stealers” narrative about the top 20% (or 10%) is such B.S.
        (In fact, Zucman posted his chart in response to a David Brooks column pushing the narrative.)

          1. allan

            Logarithmic in the percentile from the top: there is as much inequality
            between the 0.001% and the the 0.01% as there is between the 0.01% and the 0.1%.
            Graphs that display the data this way are hard to find.
            That’s why the right hand side of Zucman’s graph looks like a vertical line.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I’ve stopped using the word “billion” when trying to get people to understand, say, the actual size of the purloined fortune of a tax-dodging monopolist oligarch like J. Bezos.

            So I describe his thievings from society as “one hundred and fifty thousand million”.

  23. UserFriendly

    Against Recycling- count me as against pointless moralizing that will go nowhere. I am against recycling plastic because by far the best thing we can do with it is keep the carbon trapped in a landfill. Yes, there is a problem with plastic in the ocean, no the solution is not to ban all plastic. Just the reduction in weight alone going from glass to plastic has probably saved around 10 ppm of carbon. Not to mention all the medical applications of plastic.

        1. The Historian

          I think you are kind of mixing apples and oranges. Not all radiation is the same. Most of what someone, besides the people who lived there at the time and emergency workers, would have gotten from Chernobyl would have been small amounts of beta and gamma radiation, mostly externally. Smokers get alpha radiation, which is worse because alphas are particles that just keep on giving once they get into your body.

    1. Rod

      Three Recycle Articles-two on point and one counter point?

      Landfills do not trap carbon. Manufacturers need to be held responsible for 100% of the lifecycle of their plastic products or not be allowed to bring their product to market.

      No more privatized profits and socialized costs.
      Just tell the Truth.

      1. UserFriendly

        do they trap all carbon? no, do they trap the vast majority of it? yes. practically 100% of it that goes in as plastic. cue that dumb statistic that always gets cited about plastic taking forever to decay.

      2. Karla

        An example of lack of corporate responsiblity, in fact, corporate lying:
        Harry’s Razors have “Please Recycle” molded on the plastic boxes the refills come in.
        There is a chasing arrows symbol, with no number to show what the plastic is.

        Total corporate bullshit, in other words.

    2. jef

      Only one of the 3 Rs does anything meaningful…….Reduce!

      The other 2 Rs are only put there so you don’t think that you have to.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I think it might be expedient to continue ‘recycling’ efforts but change what we do with our sorted trash. The single-flow baloney must be stopped though. The landfill-operator should keep the materials sorted when they place them into the landfills. keep careful records and map where each type of material is located in the landfill. Our future ancestors may — probably will need to mine our landfills. The process has already been assembled and there are many holding their rice bowls who will fight to keep them intact. There are other battles to fight and I believe we would be wise to save our energies for these other battles. I believe the practice of burning plastics and other trash to generate power should be stopped. The trouble is that much of it is being done far-far-away.

      Energy is cheap and available now. We are slowly using up our resources, but they too are relatively cheap now. The transportation is still available and relatively cheap for moving resources from far-away places by ship and by land. I doubt any of these things will be true of the future world our Corporations and governments are building and I also doubt much will change.

      1. UserFriendly

        I agree that a much better system would be ok to incinerate vs not. The things you would not want to incinerate would be anything with halides in it like PVC. Of course eventually we would want to stop incinerating but it might be worth hanging on to in colder climates. I know the incinerator in minneapolis heats quite a bit of downtown and if the anti nuclear people win out it might be necessary to stay alive.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I think incineration should be stopped regardless of the halides. Incineration wastes too much future value, adds carbon to the air — along with a lot of even worse combustion products. The trouble is that much of the incineration is done in places like Japan, China, and Indonesia — stopping incineration outside the U.S. is not our call unless we discover international cooperation. I am not holding my breath waiting for that discovery.

          One thing I would add is that the landfills should be redesigned/new areas of landfill augmented to deal with issues like groundwater contamination or contamination of the methane gas generated overtime as the wastes breakdown — perhaps now might be a good time to make an inexpensive ‘filter’ to clean the methane so that it will burn more smoothly and add fewer contaminants to materials like the future glass, ceramics, or metals we might produce using it as an energy source.

          1. JTMcPhee

            “Modern” landfills are already designed, as best they can be, to try to control leachate (the nasty tea of chemicals that land filled waste generates) by both use of “impervious” [sic] liners and clay layers and such, and by “capping” with similar materials to reduce (you can’t eliminate) water intrusion and leachate generation. “Leachate collection systems” are added to collect as much of the inevitable leachate as possible, for “treatment and disposal,” “Modern” landfills attempt to collect the gases, including methane and a potpourri of volatile organic and entrained metals generated in all landfills, and either vent at less than explosive levels, or burn (sometimes to generate electric power.)

            Regulation is by establishing design criteria and monitoring compliance with those criteria, and then applying public or private resources to attempt to remedy the failures that are pretty much inevitable over time. “Liners” leak (eaten way by the wastes they are supposed to contain, by erosion beneath them, by construction errors, by piercing when waste is “compacted” and other mechanisms. “Impermeable caps” leak rain into the waste, producing leachate and gases, by simple geological processes like slumping, construction errors, vegetation root piercing, chemical degradation and others. “Leachate and gas collection systems” of plastic pipes fail in all kinds of interesting ways, plugging and breaking due to soil movements among them. Monitoring systems also fail, or are not monitored or the indications of failure are concealed.

            Here’s the US EPA’s overview on landfills:

            What is a landfill?
            Modern landfills are well-engineered and managed facilities for the disposal of solid waste. Landfills are located, designed, operated and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations. They are also designed to protect the environment from contaminants, which may be present in the waste stream. Landfills cannot be built in environmentally-sensitive areas, and they are placed using on-site environmental monitoring systems. These monitoring systems check for any sign of groundwater contamination and for landfill gas, as well as provide additional safeguards. Today’s landfills must meet stringent design, operation and closure requirements established under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

            Disposing waste in landfills is one part of an integrated waste management system. EPA encourages communities to consider the waste management hierarchy – favoring source reduction to reduce both the volume and toxicity of waste and to increase the useful life of manufactured products – when designing waste management systems.

            Note the highlighted text — landfills are designed and operated to meet regulations. Regulations are under constant relaxing pressure, both in the drafting of the rules and exceptions thereto, and against enforcement — including cheap cost-of-business penalties for noncompliance, including not reporting failure WHEN it occurs (not IF — ALL landfills fail, in known ways, despite the arrogant engineers’ notions of efficacy of their designs “to meet regulations.”

            All together now: Landfills ALWAYS FAIL. In so many interesting and varied ways. “The only way to win, is not to play the game,” as in ending the “waste stream” thinking and processes that result in all that “convenience” stuff that we so prodigally “throw away.” The planet is pretty much a closed system, as many people are discovering — there is no such place as “away,” just “far enough from ME so as not to offend my delicate sensibilities…”

            Lambert can no doubt provide chapter and verse on the subject of landfills, and the political economy of “waste management” which is mostly dumping it externally on the people down the road.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              How do you plan to end “… the “waste stream” thinking and processes that result in all that “convenience” stuff that we so prodigally “throw away.” It’s a great idea but seems very unlikely. My idea of ending single stream and returning to multi-stream and maintaining the sorted streams at the landfills is very unlikely — but a tiny bit more likely than any effort to stem the flows of trash.

      2. JTMcPhee

        “The landfill operator should keep the materials sorted… keep careful records and map where each type of material is located…” Bwahahahaha! Here’s what’s going on now in most of the world:

        There are probably millions of humans who “sort” by hand the “mixed waste streams” delivered to most landfills, to extract a “living” from the discards of “more fortunate people.” Our “future ancestors” will more likely be living like the landfill dwellers of today, on the piles of their own offal. Not some kind of “mining” as we think of the great industrial processes of today…

    4. PlutoniumKun

      It is completely untrue to say that landfilling is the best option for plastics – even the waste industry (at least in Europe) doesn’t argue that. In carbon emission terms, landfilling is accepted as the third best option after recycling and incineration with energy extraction. I’ve worked for years in various roles relating to the waste industry and I’ve never heard a landfill manager do anything but curse the increasing levels of plastics coming in. It makes their lives very difficult.

      Plastics in landfill are a huge problem because they interfere with the natural breakdown processes within a mixed use municipal landfill. A properly run landfill can be managed to ensure a reasonable period of biodegradation which then allows for the extraction of landfill gas as a fuel, leaving a reasonably stable waste body which won’t create (much) pollution in the long term. But a high proportion of plastics makes the controlled circulation of water within the landfill impossible. This means high but unpredictable pulses of methane and other anaerobic outputs which make gas collection difficult and uneconomic, as well as increasing the sulphur proportion which makes the operation of landfill gas generators problematic – not to mention the control of odours. And in slowing down breakdown it makes it more likely that continued biological activity within the waste body can occur decades after the landfill has been closed – long after the guaranteed lifespan of the (plastic) landfill liner.

  24. ptb

    Re: Iraq retaliatory strike

    Juan Cole reports it was received by Iraq govt as an act of aggression, and thinks the Iraq parliament will for-real ask US forces to leave this time.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Who says the US can’t do nation-building? We’re getting the Iraqi Parliament to assert its sovereignty!!!

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Neat and tidy finale.

        Iraqi Parliament votes to expel all Americans, and the terms of America’s surrender to The Taliban in Afghanistan are finalized.

        The troops come home. Trump announces the Make American Infrastructure Great Again (MAIGA) program and instructs The Treasury to create the money to pay for it.

        After he is re-elected I think the man will have quite a bit of political capital to expend. And if the Chinese can max out debt for the BRI then at least we can have a North American version of it.

      1. polecat

        Napoleon didn’t have F-16s, Patriot missiles, B-1s bombers, and a spineless U.N. at his diposal ….

  25. Susan Truxes

    Interesting retrospective by Craig Murray, who certainly knows. Bits about the ultra icky Tony Blair are always nice to read. Also Robert Reich’s advice on controlling corporatism was pretty sad – too little too late as usu for dear old Bob. I stopped reading him years ago.

  26. Synoia

    737 Max

    “Whistleblowers and leaked documents have raised damaging accusations that management drove too relentlessly to cut costs and deliver on schedule.”

    Cheap fast and good – Choose any two. Any two preclude the third, that is, it is no possible. The human equivalent is “9 women in one month cannot a baby make.”

  27. Synoia

    Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis leaves it badly behind in ‘arms race’ for next decade’s jets

    A little soft. It fails to mention the issues with the Trent 1000 engines on the Boeing 787 which has taken may of the planes out of service.

    I was informed the the engine was produced under much time pressure, and the results are a second “cheap, fast and good – choose any two” project. The RR Trent 600 engine is not having any issues.

    Does this mean that Boeing has two new models of planes grounded at the same time?

  28. Carolinian

    Re Boeing–it’s hard to see why Boeing couldn’t forsee any of this or understand that their goose was cooked from that very first Seattle Times story, a story that painted a devastating picture of their competence and integrity. And regardless of the accuracy of some of that story’s details, the “narrative” was established from that moment and certainly Boeing was guilty enough to have little defense other than an outright confession and promise to make things right. Perhaps a board culture of “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone” was less into confession and more into Better Call Saul. Lawyering up was exactly the wrong thing to do.

  29. John Beech

    I don’t expect this to get my press on a site like Naked Capitalism due to left-wing views but for all those opposed to guns, remember this; outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them. This church service was live streaming and when a dingbat dressed in black entered the church and shot two parishioners dead, it was people legally armed who responded and stopped his attempted massacre. Two dead and it could have been a lot worse.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Count me as a red-hot flamin’ liberal who’s a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.

      1. Adam Eran

        The problem is not the guns, it’s the people. From Shankar Vedantam’s The Hidden Brain

        [Gun laws – after a discussion which revealed that people’s unconscious bias is that guns protect them, even though the facts say otherwise. For example, when Washington D.C. banned handguns, the suicide rate fell 23%… so the feeling of safety is belied by fact]

        People feel safer barreling down a highway at seventy miles an hour-without seat belts-than they do sitting in a passenger plane going through turbulence. The fact that we are in control of the car gives us the illusion of safety, even though all the empirical evidence shows we are safer in the plane.

        Suicide rates in states with high levels of gun ownership are much higher than in states that have low levels of gun ownership. Alabama, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico have twice the rate of suicide of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New York. The United States as a whole has a very high suicide rate compared to other industrialized countries. Researchers working for the federal government once examined the
        suicide rate among children in the United States and twenty-five other industrialized countries over a single year. The suicide rate among American children was more than twice the average suicide rate among children in the other twenty-five countries. The homicide rate among children in the United States was five times higher. Guns were responsible for much of this. If you measured only gun-related homicide and suicide, American children were eleven times more I likely than children in the other twenty-five countries to commit suicide by shooting themselves, were nine times more likely to be killed in accidental shootings, and were sixteen times more likely to be murdered. There
        were 1107 children shot to death in all the countries; 957 of these victims-86 percent-were children in the United States.

        The researchers Arthur Kellermann and Donald Reay once examined all gun-related deaths over a lengthy period of time in King County in the state of Washington. They were trying to find evidence for the common intuition that gun owners are safer because they can protect themselves and their families should someone break into their homes. Kellermann and Reay identified nine deaths during the period of the study where people shot and killed an intruder. These are the stories that gun advocates endlessly relate to one another. In the same period, guns in people’s homes were implicated in twelve accidental deaths and forty-one homicides–usually family members shooting, one another. The number of suicides? Three hundred and thirty-three.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          “For example, when Washington D.C. banned handguns, the suicide rate fell 23%.”
          I’m not sure how to understand this example. Did the number of attempts fall 23% or was the success rate less by 23%? Do guns make people want to kill themselves? They are definitely one of the more effective means for committing suicide or murder. Is committing suicide a momentary impulse that goes away if the act requires some planning or effort?
          “The United States as a whole has a very high suicide rate compared to other industrialized countries.”
          Do people in other countries make the same number of attempts at suicide or murder per capita as in the U.S. but fail more often because they lack means as effective as guns? Just because we can own guns why do so many people in the U.S. actually purchase and own guns? Are guns a root cause of our problems or a complement of some other root cause? Guns definitely actualize impulse but where does the impulse originate from and is it more common in the U.S. — if so why?

          1. Yves Smith

            With all due respect, do you not get this? Your argument is at best disingenuous, and if you were not a regular, I’d use a much less charitable word

            Suicide by gun has an extremely high success rate compared to other forms of suicide. We’ve posted the stats.

            Second, suicide by gun is also readily done on impulse. Hanging, pills, carbon monoxide etc take more planning and organizing which allow for second thoughts. There are WIDESPREAD if not pervasive reports of individuals being very serious about killing themselves, waking up the next morning, and having changed their minds. Having a gun at hand eliminates the tempering effect of other methods taking more effort.

            The fact that you go all dense on this issue when you are otherwise sharp is astonishing.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Do I really need to counter that with myriad examples of small children killing themselves, their friends or their parents while playing with guns in the home?

      Having grown up around guns, I am not in favor of banning all of them, just most of them. From members of the public and the police. My father owns several rifles but I will always remember when one well meaning friend gave him an old handgun as a gift he got it out of the house in a hurry.

      But please do feel free to enjoy your smooth bore musket.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I view the problem of small children killing themselves or others with handguns as a problem with the gun owners — not the handguns. In addition to concern about the growing madness in the U.S. I should probably add concern about what I view as a remarkably casual regard for deadly weapons like a gun.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Fine, I am also in favor of banning most people too, particularly those with weapons fetishes.

        2. Wukchumni

          I was gobsmacked a few days ago in Rawlins, Wyoming when a gas station convenience clerk was talking to a local in regards to a teenager that was bullying her kid, and she mentioned that the family of the bully had only moved to town last year from back east, and then she uttered “don’t they know that 95% of us are packing?’

          As if the only way to settle whatever teenage hijinx were going on, was via high velocity.

          Or as Hunter S. Thompson put it so eloquently…

          We are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

        3. polecat

          The problem is not all gun owner per say, it’s the flippant ones .. a well as the criminal element, that do the worst !
          I believe most legal gun owners are very responsible people, having to buck the media-driven headwinds of emotion that many liberals push to advantage, in order to make EVERYONE comply to their wishes of submission … just like most idpol is used to force unwanted change amoungst the mokes !
          Most, if not all gun violence, is perpetrated by either outright criminal elements, or mentally unstable individuals. It is those incidents, which can are often impossible to mitigate, that the wailing media klaxons, along with various and sundry liberal (and some conservative elements, as it suits them ..) playas use as examples as to why guns should be removed from the entirety of public hands.

          1. polecat

            One more point : when it comes to personal security, many of the loudest squakers for gun control think nothing of having their own weapons, and/or private .. or even publicly paid-for detail at their diposal !!!

            So Screw the plebs ! .. Right ??

        4. Yves Smith

          Please tell me how you can have a gun readily accessible….because bad scary possible burglers…and not have it accessible to kids?

          If you buy the rationale, (which I don’t) that you need firearms to secure your home, then you have to have them at hand. Period.

          The only way guns in a home are safe is under lock and key, with the weapon, unloaded, under one set of locks and ammo in a separate locked place.

          1. Synoia

            outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them.

            Absolutely not the case in the UK. Please provide proof for this assertion.

          2. flora

            And herein lieth one of the great urban-rural divides.

            In rural areas, the idea that a tool, device, implement, or firearm, that is available for use by adults is ,ipso facto, available to children is regarded as nonsense. Cars and pickups are around but not available to children, at least not by aware parents. Same with guns. This comes down to parental awareness and teaching the children respect for the dangers of firearms (and roto-tillers, cars, chainsaws, axes, sharp blades of any kind, etc.) Unfortunetley, not all parents are aware and responsible. I don’t think their children should pay the price for their ignorance, but I do not think other families should pay the price for their ignorance, either.

            If I lived in the country instead of the town you can bet I’d have a firearm, long gun probably since I don’t know how to handle a pistol.

            But I do live in town and so don’t feel the need for a firearm, since the police are probably only a couple minutes (by phone call) away. In the country the police could be 30-45 minutes away. And there are always bad guys trying to take advantage of that. And finding, say, a poisonous snake like a rattler or copperhead under your porch or deck or in the chicken coop threatening you or the livestock (very common occurrence, not made up for argument’s sake) leaves you the choice of dispatching the threatening predator or telling your loved ones to ‘be careful, watch out, don’t go out there’. Um, no. Dispatch the snake. Oh, now peta will be on my case…. egad! how inhumane of me! Sorry. Said copperhead would gladly strike me and put me in the hospital if I came within what it considered its territory. I’m willing to return the favor.

            As I said, I think this is very much a rural/urban argument. Those are two very different environments. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Restrict guns in urban environments – ok by me. Restrict guns in rural environments – no, can’t see that working out too well.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              There is a definite rural versus urban understanding of guns. There are people in rural areas of Upstate New York that count on hunting for a portion of their meat. The wanton gun violence in the urban areas is as alien to country people as deer hunting is to city people.

              1. inode_buddha

                Yes, very much so. I think you’ve nailed it. And hence my desire to have *nothing* to do with urban areas.

                Most urban people have this fantasy of being able to call the cops, and even in a large city you’ll be dead before they get there. I’m surprised how many don’t consult the actual experts in this stuff, such as Massad Ayoob who has been a well-known police consultant re: guns for decades.

          3. Jeremy Grimm

            I didn’t say anything in my comment about having a gun readily accessible. Whether that gun is a handgun, rifle, assault weapon, or shotgun it should not be accessible to kids or easily accessible. I believe a deadly weapon like a gun should be handled with great care and consideration. [I do not own a gun and never have owned a gun. One time I did fire one bullet from a friend’s gun at a beer can after his insistence. I didn’t enjoy or repeat the experience.]

            1. Yves Smith

              You are still misconstruing the point. I find it remarkable that you are making me unpack this.

              Most people who have guns in the house have a self defense fantasy.

              To have a gun be effective in this self defense fantasy, you need to have ready access to it. In the drawer in the night-table. Stuffed under the mattress. Etc. It needs to be in a room with you so you can grab it when you hear Scary Possible Intruder.

              For a gun to be safe from kids, it needs to be under lock and key and kept unloaded. Period. If it is under lock and key, you have to go where it is kept, get the ammo, and load it. That requires moving around the house and takes time too.

              This does not fit with the suburban “scare/shoot the baddie” scenario.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I too support the right to bear arms. I think you’re wrong about “…outlaw guns and only outlaws will have them.” You forgot the police, secret police, and military.

      However, I am very uncomfortable with widespread gun ownership given the level of madness our Society is breeding. But I guess widely available guns are better than stoking imaginations on ways to create explosives and incendiaries using agricultural products and household chemicals. I am most worried about the growing madness and insanity in the U.S. That to me is the real problem. There are other countries with high and sometimes higher levels of gun ownership than in the U.S. but I believe the U.S. leads the ‘developed world’ in rates of murder — with and without guns — [I am excepting places like Columbia or Mexico or other places U.S. policy has turned into lands with extensive drug cartels and corruption] and the numbers of mass murders almost exclusively commited using guns. I believe that was one of the key points made in the movie “Bowling for Columbine”.

      1. witters

        May I hypothesise? From outside the US it looks like “the right to bear arms” is a psychological compensation device: the weak feel strong if they imagine themselves as having power over life and death. Without this compensation, they would have to face the fact of their real powerlessness. Doing that might engender political awareness of the sources of this powerlessness, and so political action. So the weak must be enabled to imagine themselves strong (indeed, typically, they long for this) in order for the strong to ruthlessly pluck the weak.

        Assessment? It is working.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          In other words — gun ownership in the U.S. is one way the people avoid facing up to their powerlessness and avoid political action to change that condition. Did I get that right?

          What sort of political action should people in the U.S. undertake to change their powerlessness? Vote? March in a protest march? Write letters to the editor, their Representative, their Senator? I don’t believe non-violent protest is effective without an implicit threat of violent protest if nothing is done to redress grievances. At one time guns were a somewhat effective counter to state means for violence. [I’m not sure that is still true.]

          The people I’ve talked with who own guns either collected them as investments or owned them for hunting deer or shooting rabbits or ground hogs if they lived far enough out in the country. I didn’t sense any psychological compensation at work. Guns were a tool they used to get food or run off critters with too few predators to keep them in check. I suppose there are some characters who do feel the psychological compensation you suggest. They are the kind of people I would prefer did not own guns.

          I believe the strong feelings in the U.S. around the right to own guns — especially in our rural areas — is a reflection of a deep and abiding mistrust of the government. I don’t feel comfortable with or around guns or really around any lethal weapons. On the other hand I would feel even less comfortable if the government held a monopoly on lethal weapons.

          1. witters

            I believe the strong feelings in the U.S. around the right to own guns — especially in our rural areas — is a reflection of a deep and abiding mistrust of the government.

            I hope I said that. The thing is, why is the distrust a seeming a priori? And here, at the very basis of the state – the capacity for violence?

            Is there a US story here, or simply an instance of a political universal?

            I think the former the interesting question.

            1. inode_buddha

              There is plenty of priors for the mistrust. See the government abuses that led to the US revolution for example. Or the French Revolution. That mistrust is grounded in history.

          2. Yves Smith

            You apparently do not know anyone in Texas. Guns are a fetish object there among well-off suburbanites. I was at lunch with a couple in Dallas who had to run back and lock their SUV because it had 2000 rounds of ammo in it. Wife at lunch then says she was held up with a kid who had a BB gun even though she had her pistol next to her on the front seat, which of course makes me even less keen about getting back in a car with her. She’s just shown her gun isn’t effective even in her self defense fantasy even when she carries it in an extremely unsafe manner to have it accessible. Everyone I met at the little course I was taking (about 30 people) had several guns and I don’t think any were hunters.

            A girlfriend of mine from an old Texas family who lives in Dallas similarly says she is the only one in her (very large, she does lots of charity fundraising) circle of women friends who does not carry a gun in her purse.

            I similarly have a moderately well off friend who has a weekend home in a very safe part of exurban New York (near Rhinebeck) who would drive around in his pickup with a loaded pistol on the seat next to him. I did not like this at all but as a house guest I could hardly object.

            I similarly know people is as tame as you can get Mountain Brook (cops come here in a nanosecond if you call) who have guns in their house, and the way they talk about them, I am highly confident that most of them are lousy as far as gun safety basics are concerned.

            The point is I theoretically have an anti-gun leaning in my social circle yet I run into suburban gun fetishists all the time.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Here in Ireland, guns are extremely difficult to own, and that’s fine with nearly everyone. Farmers are allowed double barrelled shotguns and .22 rifles for pest control, although most couldn’t be bothered, none of my rural relatives own one. Dogs are generally far more efficient at dealing with small pests. Even this is a little controversial as there have been a small number of murders when two farmers having an argument got out of control. Higher calibre hunting rifles (for deer/elk) are allowed only to licensed hunters, who must belong to a tightly regulated shooting club. Only a small number of enthusiasts or wildlife professionals bother as the regulations are quite onerous and complex.

              When I was a child in the early ’70’s I was unusual in that my father had a personal revolver as he was a senior police officer and had been subject to specific terrorist threats (police here are generally unarmed). He handed the gun back after a few months as he (probably quite correctly) decided that having a gun in the house with three teenaged boys and a toddler was far more dangerous to the family than any theoretical threat to him.

    4. John A

      A gun fight in an enclosed space such as a church packed with people, none wearing a white hat/black hat to identify them as a good guy/bad guy. Heads ducking up and down in the pews waiting to take a pot shot at where they think the sound of gunfire comes from. Amazing that the innocent bystander shot dead count wasn’t high.
      It would make more sense to put metal detectors or similar at the entrance and make people check their guns before entering. Maybe that is too logical for the ‘right to bear arms’ crowd. Surely a church/mosque/synagogue/ other place of worship is supposedly just that, a place to seek and find peace and worship whichever figurehead you have faith in, not as a place to blaze away with a firearm?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Adding metal detectors to church entrances sounds likely a truly scary idea. You could make going to church — I don’t — as much fun as flying or visiting court or a government building. Would you ask people to remove their belts and shoes too? The Texas gun carry laws are little over-the-top — in my opinion — but after living there a while — they are understandable. Texas really is a different country.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Great idea! Where can I get a portable model? I could carry it with me to scope out my associates, those I share an elevator with, or the crowd I am walking with or sitting with at a public event.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I didn’t read it as a typo. I read mental as mental. It would be cool to have a tool to detect people around you who are mental. I imagined the tool as a portable device so I might know when to wait for the next elevator car or scoot to an exit. I did not read it as shorthand for putting ushers at the doors to watch and assess those coming through the door — which may be what you meant and would be a good idea if that isn’t done already.

                1. polecat

                  Aim one at Congress, and see to what degree the dial indicator lights up !
                  My bet is that it would be totally off the scale …….

  30. Fastball

    The Russiagate oriented link about Putin thanking Trump for stopping a terrorist attack leads to an outlook live site.

  31. Jessica

    “Mysterious swarms of giant drones have started to appear in the Colorado and Nebraska night sky, and nobody knows where they’re coming from”
    Philip K. Dick is buried in Fort Morgan, Colorado, which is right by the Nebraska state line. Just saying.

  32. polecat

    I can’t help but think he’s rolfing in his grave .. laughin hysterically, downing those amphetamines with abandon .. and spinnin like an electric-sheep’s dynamo !

  33. Tomonthebeach

    Pete Buttigieg wants to decriminalize possession and use of ALL drugs.

    Not a fan of Buttigieg anyway, this statement is beyond sophomoric – it is moronic. If I was Alex Jones, I would start questioning if Big Pharma (a Big Buttygig donor) encouraged this irresponsible bit of pseudo logic.

    If we think we have a suicide epidemic now, just let everybody buy anything on the street. It is not that buyers will become more reckless, but the backroom manufacturers will ramp up production and start retailing ‘”stuff” that has too much of a good thing (like fentanyl) or just the wrong thing (like something that can kill people with various allergies or health conditions). So, where is a smart doper gonna go? We already know. They will go to redirected (as in robbed, hijacked, or prescribed) prescription drugs.

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