Links 12/6/19

Climate change: Elephants killing and injuring people due to drought Sky News

Ryrkaypiy: Far-north Russian village overrun by polar bears BBC

A Summary of U.S. State Historical Snowfall Extremes Weather Underground

Daily briefing: Climate-change models stand the test of time Nature

The battle over green investment is hotting up Gillian Tett, FT

Rivers could generate thousands of nuclear power plants worth of energy, thanks to a new ‘blue’ membrane Science

Researchers: Put a brake on bioenergy by 2050 to avoid negative climate impacts Phys.org

California Bans Insurers From Dropping Policies Made Riskier by Climate Change NYT

Brexit

BJ + Brexit or JC + 2 refs? LRB

Brexit: collapse at the fringes EU Referendum

Johnson Insists He Can Keep to His Brexit Schedule: U.K. Votes Bloomberg

How you can stop Brexit Party killing off Brexit: The 19 seats where Farage’s party could hand victory to Labour Daily Mail

Brussels to push for rapid talks with UK after Brexit FT

Paging Torquemada:

UK could drop plans to tax tech firms in rush to secure US trade deal Guardian. Poodles are rule-takers.

Photos show hundreds of thousands of people protesting in France in the biggest strikes against Macron yet Business Insider. A round-up. 800,000 says the Guardian.

Why the French Have Gone on Strike Again Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

Emmanuel Macron’s Year of Cracking Heads Foreign Policy

A Tiny Island Exposes Europe’s Failures The Atlantic

Violence and the State Craig Murray

The Power of Anarchist Analysis Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs

Syraqistan

Saudi Aramco raises $25.6bn in world’s biggest IPO FT

Revealed: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib targeted in far-right fake news operation Guardian

China?

China’s State Development In Comparative Historical Perspective (PDF) APSA Comparative Politics. Interesting.

Cui Tiankai: There Is No ‘Thucydides Trap’ Caixin

Beijing’s hopes for AI dominance may rest on how many US-educated Chinese want to return home South China Morning Post

New Cold War

Little wiggle room as Ukraine, Russia leaders meet for crunch Paris talks Reuters

Ukraine’s Divided House Still Stands Foreign Affairs

Cutting Russia off from SWIFT would mean declaration of war – Russian PM RT and China, Russia & India Push Forward on SWIFT Alternative Yahoo Finance

The Russians Are Coming! The American Conservative

Inside the deal between the Kremlin and Russia’s top search engine FT

Trump Transition

Who Is Making US Foreign Policy? The Nation

Impeachment

‘Our democracy is what is at stake.’ Pelosi says House will draft impeachment articles against Trump USA Today

What the Law Professors Brought to the Trump Impeachment Hearings Amy Sorkin, The New Yorker

What’s Next on Impeachment LawFare

The 10 most important revelations to expect from the Russia probe FISA report John Solomon Reports. “Can the FBI be trusted going forward to adequately, fairly and honestly protect civil liberties of Americans while conducting counterintelligence, counterterrorism and criminal investigations[?]” I know what the liberal answer to this once would have been. We’ll see!

Health Care

‘An Arm And A Leg’: How Much For Stitches In The ER? Hard To Gauge Upfront KHN. Paging Franz Kafka.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

After criticism, Homeland Security drops plans to expand airport face recognition scans to US citizens Tech Crunch. For now.

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen” The Intercept (DG). Obama on torture: “We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” On the bright side, Gina Haspel, a [x] woman, subequently shattered the glass ceiling at CIA, setting an example for young women and girls everywhere. So there’s that.

What the C.I.A.’s Torture Program Looked Like to the Tortured NYT

New SEAL trident will depict eagle taking selfie with corpse Duffel Blog

Class Warfare

Uber Says 3,045 Sex Assaults Were Reported in U.S. Rides Last Year NYT. “‘The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,’ Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview. ‘What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.'”

Uber’s new loan program could trap drivers in cycles of crushing debt Guardian

Unfree Agents The Baffler

“Booming” Economy Means More Bad Jobs and Faster Race to the Bottom Black Agenda Report

Rev. William Barber on the Political Power of Poor People: ‘We Have to Change Our Whole Narrative’ New York Magazine

Measles deaths ‘staggering and tragic’ BBC

Antidote du jour (via):


Duck!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

235 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Rivers could generate thousands of nuclear power plants worth of energy, thanks to a new ‘blue’ membrane Science

    With the usual caveats, this looks promising, and not just in coastal areas. There have been proposals for years for flooding low basins in desert areas with salt water to generate electricity from this type of ion exchange. It could potentially be a game-changer for countries such as Egypt with the right geography.

    Reply
      1. Jessica

        The Great Salt Lake would be perfect because you have fresh water from the Jordan River flowing into a salt lake. Also, tiny waves and small tides.

        Reply
      2. Susan the Other

        Are you thinking the Great Salt Lake and its main tributary, the Bear River? It could use another tributary river because rivers run low in summer. Plenty of water comes down from the snowpack but it’s usually gone by late June. But that is a good idea.

        Reply
        1. Susan the Other

          or maybe divert spring runoff to the salt flats, and set up a desalinating plant to recycle the water perpetually… that almost sounds poss.

          Reply
    1. gsinbe

      I’d like to think so, but I’ve become very skeptical of the “Rah! Rah!” write-ups of many scientific/technical articles (hopefully not written by the scientists/engineers themselves).

      A couple of reality checks popped into my head as I read the article. First, the photo of the large estuary showed one serious issue – siltation. Most estuaries around humans are loaded with silt. How long would these membranes function with a constant wash of mud and debris covering them? Second, this technology has only been demonstrated with “postage size” membranes. Lots of technologies work well at the laboratory scale, but it may be a different story in the real world.

      I could easily be wrong, and this could be a major source of carbon-free power. But the infiltration of PR into most science journals has made me increasingly cynical.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Thank you for your entire comment. Your final sentence is the most important take-away. Comments like this are one of the many reasons I love NC!

        Reply
      2. Ignacio

        Do not keep cynical! Go ahead and take a look yourself. I mean, and I think that many here are used to it, check facts in several places until your cynicism is replaced by a conclusion: typically more confused than before the search hahaha. It is anyway a good exercise.

        Reply
        1. Duck1

          Aside from siltation, disrupting many marine and riparian lifecycles that inhabit the estuary and near offshore. No doubt energy intensive to produce and extremely complex to anchor in the estuary and deal with seasonal flows. More complexity to save our vaunted civilization, probably vapor technology, which would soon clog with plastic bags anyway if coming to fruition.

          Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      100% fan of basic research….but at the rate we’re going—(no coordinated global Manhattan Project-level effort), it’ll be at least 20+ years before this tech gets commercialized, if ever.

      it’s easier for the media to play up magic bullets on the horizon than consuming less.

      20 years ago, there were many forecasts that commercial fuel cells would be ubiquitous by 2010. And of course nuclear fusion has been “just over the horizon” since the 1960’s. (maybe now genuinely by 2040….but not on the level needed to make a dent in CO2)

      the ECB could just print 10 billion EUR and give it to CERN if it wanted too. Just saying.

      Reply
      1. Robert Valiant

        Making health care less expensive is deflationary.
        Driving smaller, lighter cars is deflationary.
        Reducing planned obsolescence is deflationary.

        Consuming less is deflationary. Please keep the faith and consume – a miracle is just around the corner.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        The world already runs on fusion power – from a universally available source at a convenient safe distance.

        Why bring a little piece of Hell down to earth?

        Reply
    3. JeffC

      “could generate about 30 megawatt hours per year. That’s enough to power more than 400 homes.”

      Only if those homes average something like 8.6W power consumption each. In these sort of ballpark calculations, homes are usually considered to average more like 1kW each. I can’t even guess what kind of error led to a number like 400.

      Science reporting, even in specialized “science” magazines, is really going downhill. I see errors of this magnitude in Science Magazine and Science Daily every week it seems.

      Reply
      1. jefemt

        Estuaries are one of the most productive biomes on earth. I read 2X and saw not one mention of impacts on ‘the ecology’. No free lunch in energy— what are the externalities/ full-life-cycle downsides?

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Thank you.

          The town a couple of miles north of me- Morro Bay, CA- allowed
          a housing development known as ‘The Cloisters’ on what was once an
          incredibly fruitful wetlands, over major opposition from the public (but of course!), about twenty years ago. All for some tired, cheap-a$$ mcMansions..

          bleak

          Reply
      2. The Historian

        According to estimates I’ve seen, the average US house uses about 11,000 kWhr of electricity per year. Divide that into 30 mWhr per year or 30,000 kWhr per year, and it is even worse than you think.

        Apparently they would need about 148 sq meters of that membrane to power 400 homes.

        I too decry the quality of science reporting these days.

        Reply
    4. Old Jake

      The sound of this worries me. What would be the impact on the estuarine regions of massive “blue energy” installations? Will this impede the flow of water across the zone? Will it impede the movement of animals, change the flow of water and thus nutrients through the beds of plants? It looks like they have built a matchbox-sized lab implementation. A heck of a lot of engineering work remains, and already the sales talk has started.

      Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    The Power of Anarchist Analysis Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs

    I love this essay – a brilliant and pithy little overview of anarchism. Very much a must-read.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      nathan is one of my favorite people in american politics, today.

      fta:”anarchists are uncommonly stubborn people who do not accommodate themselves to the society around them no matter how intense the pressure.”
      i see myself in this definition, from about 3rd grade, on.
      of course, it took a long time to be able to articulate…but i reckon i’m congenitally allergic to authority.
      i call my house a “monument to stubbornness”(see: the Alamo,lol)
      it wasn’t the conformist monkey-people who came down out of the trees, it was the “problem children” who said “well, F&&k this, lets go eat that dead animal…”.

      Reply
    2. Tommy S.

      I too love this Nathan post. I thought he was died in the wool ‘democrat socialist’ only at ballot box….but he knows his history well.. I always liked his writing anyway, but great to see more american ‘progressives’ recognize the past 150 years of real left philosophy…..two prong attack…it’s a must….as IMO, to understand real anarchist social and political points….face to face democracy!!!! You don’t have to be ‘one’ to organize with us!!!

      Reply
  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    With regard to the Uber link, I am puzzled why most of the Uber users I know are women, seemingly unaware of the danger. Most, but not all, think using such services is a sign of modernity and an ideological gesture, blairite, if not Cameroon. The male users tend more towards the service as a convenience and less costly. It seems largely a London thing, too.

    Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        As one of Uber’s shareholders, BlackRock, employs George Osborne, amongst other neoliberal family bloggers, and Osborne edits the London Evening Standard, so two out of his five jobs cited, the Standard acts as cheerleader for Uber.

        Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think it’s a bit of a class issue at hand too and perception of predators. Walking to a cab stand and so forth are part of it too.

      Reply
    2. Robert McGregor

      Check my math, but I think this is a prime case of public innumeracy. The article says there were 1.3 billion Uber rides in the US last year, and 3045 assaults. 1.3 billion divided by 3045 equals 426,929. That means on average, every 426,929 rides results in one sexual assault. I could not find on Google the number of rides the average Uber rider takes per year, but if she rides twice per day, that would be 730 per year. 426,929 / 730 = 584. So at that rate, she would have to ride Uber for 584 years in order to get assaulted once. I think she should take those odds, because in multiple other categories she endures much more risk every day. It’s surprising that Uber wouldn’t quickly come out with this argument.

      Reply
      1. pebird

        “That means on average, every 426,929 rides results in one sexual assault.”

        Would amend that to say “… 426,929 rides results in one reported sexual assault.”

        Reply
        1. Geo

          While that’s true, I find criticism of Uber from a customer perspective to be very flawed. There’s a lot to criticize them about regarding their business model and employee treatment, but as someone who dealt with NYC taxis, outer-borough & NJ dollar cabs, subways, buses, and various other forms of transit over the past three decades, and use Lyft occasionally (don’t use Uber), I can say the customer experience is lightyears better. I could go on for hours about the shady experiences with the others but never had even a mild issue in my rideshare experiences.

          Again, as a business model rideshares are atrocious. And, I am not one to ever speak up in defense of mega-corps. Just saying, there’s something the other transit systems could learn from the rideshares about the customer side of things.

          On the flip side, it would be interesting to find out percentages of female drivers who deal with harassment. My estimation is it’s about 100%. The few I’ve known have all said they deal with creeps regularly.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            What about predatory pricing don’t you understand?

            Have you read our Uber series? It appears not.

            You are getting way more than you pay for due to massive subsidies and drivers being exploited (by among other things not understanding their economics). The idea that there are “lessons to be learned” is spurious.

            Uber and the other ride share companies will eventually have to greatly increase their prices and greatly reduce their availability or go bankrupt. In the meantime, it is wrecking public transportation by sucking riders out of it.

            And you applaud the continued destruction of the commons. Help me.

            Reply
            1. Robert McGregor

              “And you applaud the continued destruction of the commons”

              I know what you mean, and support you, but it’s like the poor person–many of us–who shops at Walmart, because of the prices. One can argue that on a macro level–Walmart is a “net loss” for society. Community businesses, jobs, and lifestyles are destroyed when a Walmart moves in. But in the aftermath, and on a personal level, Walmart shopping may be the best option for a poor person.

              Likewise, with Uber, on a macro level it’s not “looking good” with public transportation and the mature, legal, functioning taxi industry being destroyed. But in the “aftermath,” the person without their own car sure benefits from the price, convenience, and usually brilliant execution of Uber and Lyft.

              Yves, your experience with legacy cabs sounds like it is mostly from NYC, and visiting business cities around the world. Try getting a decent cab experience (benefits/cost) in the suburbs and semi-rural areas (Many semi-rural areas, like Dahlonega, GA, get Uber service, because drivers drive in from nearby cities (in this case, Gainesville, GA)) . . . How’s your “legacy cab” experience in Birmingham?

              The reader who said “lessons to be learned” refers to the customer’s result from an Uber ride–usually a flawless pickup, comfortable ride, and delivery facilitated by an awesomely large network of drivers and a sophisticated routing program and phone App. It would still be impressive at 2X or 3X the current price which is its real market cost per Hubert Horan’s excellent series.

              Reply
              1. Robert McGregor

                You make a good point that the the yearly 1.3 billions rides and “reported” 3045 assaults does not distinguish between male and female riders. If women are sexually assaulted 10x as frequently as men, then maybe “everything else” equal, the odds of sexual assault would be 1 out of 42,694 rides instead of 1 our of 426,929.

                Don’t get mad at me; I’m just trying to look at the risk numbers. I think Uber and Lyft’s pricing is as predatory as you do!

                I think it’s time for some “Naked Comments”–style anecdotes. Do any women care to comment on the sexual assaults they have experienced in rideshare? I could tell you myself about three “psycho drivers,” but they were not directly threatening me–it was more like “road rage.”

                Reply
      2. Yves Smith

        Don’t try “innumeracy” here. Let’s start with the fact that total rides isn’t the relevant basis for computing the risk of being raped, since you don’t have the gender breakdown (the rapes were almost certainly all of women) and in particular, solo rides by women (rapes of men are only about 9% of total rapes in the US).

        From a comment further down:

        In NYC, the latest data I could find is that there were 14 rapes in 2016 in cabs and 10 in 2015. That includes all cars for hire that the TLC regulates, like green borough cabs.

        24% of Uber’s business comes from 5 cities. The prospectus lists NYC first. I can tell you that means NYC is the biggest. The convention in SEC filings is to list in order of importance (confirming that, the list was not alphabetical).

        So let us charitably assume that NYC is only 5% of Uber’s total bookings.

        3000 x .05 = 150.

        Now admittedly Uber has broader categories for abuse than just rape, like unwanted kissing. But it called (or probably more accurately, had police called in on them) 37% of the time. So take 150 x .37 and you get 55.5, still over 3 times as high as level TLC regulated taxis.

        Let me add it may be worse than three times as much. Uber typically compares its volumes to yellow cabs, when yellow cabs have only ~13,000 medallions, and the TLC regulates about 40,000 other vehicles, such as green “boro” cars, licensed black cars (like Carmel) and ambulettes. Incorporating that, the level of total regulated NYC rides in 2016 likely exceeded Uber volumes now (particularly when you factor in that yellow cab ride levels were higher in 2106 than now).

        Note that the level of reported rapes is 127,000 for 2018. The Uber definition may be broader, since is includes mere non-consensual kissing, but their sexual assault numbers include only physical action, when the National Crime Victimization Study (which is widely cited) has an even broader definition and includes verbal threats and “unwanted sexual contact without force” which also would appear not operative with Uber.

        That number is even worse when you consider that a large UK study found that only 9% of rape victims were raped by strangers, and most experts in the US estimate that the victim knows her rapist 80% to 90% of the time.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-43128350

        Reply
    3. Alex

      Speaking as a devil’s advocate, these figures are almost meaningless without comparing with them with similar figures for regular taxicabs.

      Also in many places outside of the US and W Europe Uber replaces not regulated taxicabs but rather informal taxis whose safety record has never been good

      Reply
    4. bob

      The rides metric is bad. Inflating the denominator. A better metric would be drivers per assault. 3,045 assaults over 750,000 drivers.

      As is always the case with these sorts of studies, sexual assault and rapes are very under-reported.

      Reply
    5. Ignacio

      My wife appreciated the convenience and the cost while we used Uber in our last visit to the US but all my family hated my 3rd grade interrogations with drivers. My daugther in Madrid uses Cabify (Uber-like service) and I unsuccesfully try to convince her to change to taxis (there is an app for taxis). Apart from sexual hazard I have lately noted some instances with Cabify cars running too fast and it may be the business model pushes the drivers to a rush.

      Reply
    1. John A

      Kev, my cousin has a now adult down’s syndrome boy. He works in a sheltered workshop, but my cousin has to pay for him to work there. It’s already happening in Tory England and will only get worse if they get back in.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        Just think that more than a third of British voters are happy to vote for a party that spouts this sort of thing regularly.

        My parents and I are already discussing about what sort of UK will survive the (probable) Tory victory / Tory-Liberal coalition.

        One thing that puzzled us is how some Jewish, Hindu and Muslim groups rushed to assist the Tories in smearing Jeremy Corbyn. Do these people not realise that further immiseration will lead to radicalisation and probable scapegoating of immigrants?

        My father and godfather, although RAF doctors, served in Northern Ireland. Rarely discussed is the role of economic decline in the “troubles”. That sort of thing can easily occur here. There were riots in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool in 1981. The UK is a lot more fragile than it looks. The police have warned about civil disorder brought about by austerity, Brexit and Johnson’s inflammatory style. The police warned about Johnson at a Cabinet Office meeting of officials, not ministers, in the spring.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          If the ‘enabling’ classes are worried about the Tory elite in being, then said elite should be very worried itself. A bit extreme, I’ll admit, but references to the Imperial Roman Praetorian Guard come to mind.

          Reply
          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            I know the policeman who helped draft the police input for the Cabinet Office meeting. Although a Tory and Daily Mail reader, he’s aware of what goes on on the streets and in the Westminster bubble.

            I hope you are well.

            Bit of a lull horse racing wise.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Same here.
              On the Home front, soldiering through a difficult patch. Early prognostications are for either Unmitigated Disaster or Sunny Skies ahead. That sounds a lot like life in general, doesn’t it.
              You being a Turfman, is there a possible ‘business opportunity’ in ‘middleman and enabler’ for UK horse owners desiring to race their ponies on the Continent? As in, a regulator ‘fixer?’
              On that subject, I was wondering about how ‘gnarly’ the transport of horses between the Isles and the Continent is going to become vis a vis vetrinarial rules and regulations. Have the racing horse owners been sending their steeds across to the Continent yet? Indeed, which venue has the higher aggregate purses on offer, The UK or the EU?
              If this is how something fairly simple like horse racing is going to get, I fear to imagine how difficult the more complex tasks, such as banking and finance will become.
              Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel to you and yours!

              Reply
              1. Colonel Smithers

                Thank you, Ambrit.

                Such an opportunity would be a nice little earner, but there are others on the case already. You’re spot on about the complications from Brexit and British based owners switching to French and Irish trainers and studs. I came across such owners engaging the French authorities last spring and summer.

                I am going to Mauritius for the festive break. I think about the place as a bolt hole from Brexitannia, if only for some years, but the island economy is slowing down and Blighty is home.

                Bon week-end. Best wishes to the family and you.

                Reply
      2. Ignacio

        It is so rational… pure neoclassic economy wisdom if we can call it wisdom. At least not Hayekian wisdom, far more darwinist.

        Reply
  4. David

    For those who may be interested, a few words on yesterday’s demonstrations and strikes and what they mean.
    What happened. Much of France came to a halt. Nearly all mainline trains stopped running, many schools, public buildings, shops and monuments were closed. Over half of the teaching profession was on strike, and transport workers all over France stayed at home. There were disruptions pretty much everywhere, including in the private sector. According to official figures, there were 800,000 people in the streets, in spite of the freezing cold, in virtually every city and town in France. For once, all the trades unions worked together, but more striking than that was the number of first-time demonstrators from the professional middle classes. Health workers, teachers, civil servants, students, lawyers, first responders, even policemen were there, as were many retired people worried for their children. The Gilets jaunes were quite noticeable, as were climate protesters.
    There was a certain amount of violence, especially in Paris, where the Black Blocs appeared behind a banner saying “Marx ou crève” (complicated pun, explanation on request) looking for a punch-up with the Police, which they duly got. There was quite a lot of damage to property, though I haven’t seen any firm figures yet, and there were running battles with the Police throughout the evening around the Place de la République.
    Why this happened. Formally, this is opposition to Macron’s “reform” of the pensions system. Everybody agrees that some reform is needed: the current system is fragmented (42 different schemes) and it’s hard for people to deal with, and to know how much they are going to receive. But “reform” is a fairly transparent ploy for justifying getting people to pay more and receive less. There are no reliable figures, but such simulations as do exist strongly support this hypothesis.The government claims that nobody will lose out, and waves its hands in exasperation that people are too stupid to understand this. (The Bloomberg story linked to above is a good example of this attitude). Yet what this appears to mean in practice is that people will continue to receive their current pensions as long as they pay much higher contributions.. However, talking to ordinary French people it’s obvious that this goes well beyond pensions. It’s a generation of bitterness overflowing about neoliberal policies that have destroyed communities, destroyed jobs and produced insecurity and poverty everywhere. People are frightened for their future and for the future of their children, and many so-called “convergent struggles” are coming together here, including some, like hospital workers, that have been going on for a long time. The Gilets jaunes included lots of pensioners and many who feared for their retirement. Several people have said to me “this is it. If we don’t stop Macron now, all is lost.”
    What’s next. Strikes and disruptions are continuing today, and Saturday will see the GJs out in force. The government has agreed to meet the trades unions on Monday . Tuesday will be another day of strikes and direct action. This is not just the usual street theatre, and a surprising number of vox pop interviews have shown people ready for the long haul, and for whatever it takes to stop the government. For its part, the government can be relied upon to make all sorts of mistakes and errors that will exacerbate the situation.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      David, where does the Army figure in all of this? Is calling them out an option that Macron might consider or are they too far stretched with overseas commitments for this? Thanks for that detailed on the ground report by the way.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Kev, and for yesterday regarding Bellingcat.

        Late on Wednesday evening, the Interior Minister, Castaner, reassured the police that their benefits won’t be touched. The neoliberals need someone to act as the lid over the powder keg.

        Reply
      2. David

        Short answer, it doesn’t. The Gendarmerie (military status but under the Ministry of the Interior) has some public order responsibilities, but the Army proper is the Army of the Republic and is not going to soil its hands defending political regimes. The military don’t like Macron anyway, since he sacked their chief soon after becoming President. The Army has much more respect among ordinary people than the political system does.

        Reply
        1. Colonel Smithers

          Merci, David.

          Not just any old chief of staff, but the brother of Vicomte de Villiers and a leading Catholic, like a fair bit of the officer corps, and Vendeen.

          Reply
          1. David

            Oh yes. Pierre Le Jolis de Villiers de Saintignon as he’s more familiarly known. Whilst the grip of the old Catholic families on the officer corps has been loosened a bit recently, and the top jobs are no longer all held by Troupes de Marine and Legion officers from the old provincial aristocracy, the influence is still very strong. De Villiers was an armoured corps officer, interestingly: until recently they were the poor relations in the Army, spending all their time training conscripts in Germany while the Legion and the TdM did the glamorous stuff. But if the top of the Army is more professionally open than it used to be, it’s still socially pretty closed. Incidentally, the funny thing is that Macron himself went to a Jesuit College, and is very much from the same world. I have never been able to understand why – apart from personal insecurity and a Napoleon complex – he acted as he did.

            Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          @ David, ” The Army has much more respect among ordinary people than the political system does.”

          Bad sign, that. Similar here, outside the left. but at least you’re saying they won’t intervene.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Agreed about ‘it’ being a bad sign. The “Festung Amerika” mentality is beginning to make itself felt. Little to no outrage ‘on the street’ about Homeland Security working to ‘control’ travel inside the country. The frogs are ordering more drinks to offset the hotter water they are lounging in.

            Reply
    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      It was odd to see the French MSM think it’s normal to have firefighters do front line work in their sixties. This was on the same bulletin that reported the “emplois fictifs” chez de Sarnez.

      I am driving to Le Touquet tomorrow and will report anything of note. A year ago, I did the same trip. At the peages near Calais and Le Touquet, the GJs let us through without having to pay. This was our first of four encounters with the GJs since. They were happy to chat and, despite MSM demonisation, are us, sheer ordinary people.

      My former serviceman father and I, cadet for many years before deciding not to join the army after Options For Change (which you know about) and university, are puzzled by the casseurs, black bloc etc.. They appear too well built and drilled, usually have service hair cuts, appear from nowhere, even though side streets and metro entrances are blocked by armour and security personnel, and never talk, just do, not even pose for a selfie, bit too well organised to be civilian. His French former counterparts are also puzzled.

      Reply
      1. David

        The problem with writing about the “black blocs” is that there’s really nothing to write about: they have no formal existence, no formal membership, no hierarchy and no settled ideology. Essentially, they are a tactic or a method of organisation, which is pretty much always the same. They arrive in small numbers in normal clothes and with concealed weapons, join protests at the beginning, and when there are enough of them, get out helmets masks and weapons and start smashing things and people. Their ideology , such as it is, is a loose kind of libertarianism, which sees the existence of the state itself as the problem, and looks at destruction of the state and killing or wounding its servants, as positive acts in themselves. Don’t, by the way, fall into the error of assuming that anarchists are naive and shambolic: in Europe, at least, they are hyper-organised and highly disciplined, as well as quite ruthless. Anarchism never meant “no rules”: it meant destroying the apparatus of the state (thought to be inherently repressive) and replacing it with rules developed and enforced by the people. Anarchists groups in Italy and Germany in the 70s were notably well-organised and effective, and a bit too fond of executing anyone they thought was guilty of ideological deviation.
        Beyond who might or might not be part of the BBs, there are plenty of fringe political groupings with a taste for violence and “direct action”, some of whom are almost certainly involved now. It hardly makes sense to distinguish between “Left” and “Right” in this context: there are allegedly “rightwing” groups who are as violently and militantly anticapitalist as the various Trotskyist/Fourth International groups on the “left”. And then there are just those who walk around with tee-shirts quoting Bakunin: “the urge to destroy is a creative urge.”

        Reply
          1. David

            Nothing special. PK, vlade and Clive, among others, are closer to the action than I am. I fantasise about a weak, minority Tory government that will fall apart and destroy the Tory Party for ever. But we’ll see.

            Reply
            1. Clive

              I am saving my pronouncements, such as they are worth, for after the election result. I shall have much to say! So at least you’ve been warned :-)

              Reply
        1. anon y'mouse

          or they are cops, carrying out a false flag operation to discredit genuine protesters, and give a reason for a crackdown by the authorities.

          or they are just hooligans out for some joyful destruction.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Mayhaps UkrainoNazis off for a ‘busman’s holiday?’
            “And this is Company D, Azov Battalion in front of the Eiffel Tower.”

            Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      Thanks for the revolting news, and I think in retrospect, 2020 will be quite the catalyst for change, but not here in these United States where the pressure cooker lid has been clamped down tight for so long, all we’re capable of doing is what our masters say, meekly following their lead.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I dunno mate. Remember the original Watts riots? That sprung from the always fertile soil of the ‘downtrodden’ of society. Now that much of America, formerly stable working and lower class, has descended into the miasma of precarity, expect the next wave of American Revolts to be in the Kilo Watts class.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          We’re way rusty, but I know of a Gila teen that needs work.

          I knew the fellow who caused the first Watts riot, his name was Lee Minikus and quite the avid coin collector.

          He was a motorcycle cop who arrested a black fellow on a DUI, and it escalated when the suspect’s mom got involved and then all hell broke loose, he related to me. It was like any other arrest until that point.

          That’s the only way it happens in the future, via a spark, it isn’t as if we are capable of collective bargaining by protest anymore.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Too true. When the French start to show everyone else how it’s ‘done,’ the American MSM trots out something like the old “Freedom Fries” distraction.
            As a Californian, you can appreciate that ‘sparks’ are, by definition, not predictable in the particular. In the aggregate however….
            Be thankful that the Sierras are a defensible position.

            Reply
        2. JTMcPhee

          Not to worry. The US imperial military, the state security apparatus, and the militarized police forces have it well in hand. There’s an off-the-shelf plan for how the military and “civilian” forces will be brought to bear on “civil disturbances,’ whether riots like Watts and Detroit and in other cities, or general strikes, or activities like those around the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle not so long ago. And, of course, the Plan has been activated to deal with potentially serious annoyances like the Occupy Wall Street manifestation. All under “CONPLAN 2502,” the successor to Operation Garden Plot, the activation of which led to the deployment of National Guard and active US infantry and armor forces, in concert with local police, to “suppress the insurrection” at the 1968 Dem convention — and which plan has subsequently been dusted off for other major “legitimacy’ events including all the conventions of both branches of the mono party, http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=gardplotestab

          And it’s nothing new. The thugs in the Imperium have been dealing out the drill on how to oppress and repress the grievances of the mopery all over the place, and not just at the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Hemisphere_Institute_for_Security_Cooperation. Look at Operation Gladio, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Gladio, and all the other activities of the Imperium on at least six of the seven continents. Here’s some context with a bit of focus on the Italian history spanning the Gladio period: “ Systemic Destabilization in Recent American History: 9/11, the JFK Assassination, and the Oklahoma City Bombing as a Strategy of Tension ,” http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=gardplotestab

          We will be safe in our homes, never fear, Big Brother is benevolently watching over us all…

          Reply
      2. wilroncanada

        Wukchumni
        All those US soldiers who took part in the “pacification” programs in Southeast Asia in the 60s and early 70s surely internalized Both the dogma and the actions. They are now a major coterie, if not in official positions of power, in their 60s and 70s. they internalized pacification so much they became its subjects by osmosis. “Reforms are the enemy, leaders who talk reform are the enemy. Protestors are the enemy, leaders of protest are the enemy. I am a faithful American who will never reform, will never protest, never do anything un-American”

        Reply
    4. Ignacio

      Many thanks to our Special Rapporteur at La France (if you don’t mind, David). I have read that Macron plans to surpass the protests by accelerating the reform and IMO this would be another mistake as you say.

      Reply
    5. WJ

      “800,000 says the Guardian.”

      Only 800,000! So nowhere near the level of democratic support behind the toppling of the Bolivian regime. I thought it was odd that the Yellow Vests were getting so little coverage in U.S. corporate press relative the democratic movements in Bolivia and Venezuela, but now I see why. The small numbers (800,000) of the French protestors show that there is no real democratic movement against Macron; rather, these protestors are probably mostly Russian bots or agents of Hezbollah.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Such great snark. Anyway, to play along:

        Yes absolutely! Hezbollah has more agents in France than it does in Lebanon because *obviously* Hezbollah knows France is more important, and we *obviously* know all the Hezbollah in Lebanon are all secretly Iranian agents anyway. And all the Iranians are secretly Russian agents which are all secretly Chinese agents which are all secretly French agents. It all goes full circle!

        Reply
    6. WJ

      “800,000 says the Guardian.”

      Only 800,000!

      I thought it was odd that the Yellow Vests were getting so little coverage in the U.S. corporate press relative the democratic movements in Bolivia and Venezuela, but now I see why. The small numbers (800,000) of the French protestors show that there is no real democratic movement against Macron; rather, these protestors are probably mostly Russian bots or agents of Hezbollah.

      Reply
    7. Oregoncharles

      Maybe they shouldn’t have voted for him, though their choices weren’t great.

      Thanks very much for the report – news about it here is very sparse.

      As in Britain, this looks (in the bigger picture) like a failure of parliamentary gov’t. It’s supposed to be more responsive than this – that is, Macron should have been forced out by now and a new election held (choices then? It bothers me that the Greens got it wrong at the beginning, supporting the diesel tax because it was “environmental.” This should be a big opportunity for new parties – like Macron’s, unfortunately.)

      From here, it looks like they’ll have to do a serious occupation, like Ecuador, to actually get him out and start over. That WOULD involve the army, unless they held back and let Macron hang on his own petard. (Mixing metaphors is such fun.)

      Bigger picture yet: globally, this is looking like 1968 and even beyond – everywhere but here. Trump and Russiagate are proving very effective distractions.

      And about the Black Bloc: questionable as they are, they’re proving to magnify the impact of major demonstrations, precisely because those give them so much cover.

      Reply
  5. Stephen V.

    Thank you Lambert for the Current Affairs piece on Anarchism. As a gross generalization I think the Left tends to be over enamored with Credentials
    As the Right is with Authority. Not sure this helps…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      True. Credentials are but another version of Authority. Tweedle Dem and Tweedle Rep. Picks yer poison suckers!
      Another version is, Tweedle Dem and Tweedle Deep (State.) Joined at the wallet.

      Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I got high praise indeed the other day while decked out in a vintage white Beavis & Butt-head Do America t-shirt. When we saw the film before the turn of the century (too soon to call it that yet?) in a movie theater in Lake Tahoe, I set the tone early once the lights went down and exclaimed to nobody in particular, I am Cornholio which resulted in a slew of responses involving 2-ply.

            Reply
  6. GramSci

    Re: Robinson on Chomsky

    Sigh.  I like Nathan Robinson and I like Noam Chomsky’s politics, but when Robinson fantacizes about the integrity of Chomsky’s linguistics and Chomsky’s politics, yet still laments the influence of Chomsky’s acolyte, Steven Pinker, I have to call out the irony. 

    Chomsky’s linguistics was developed as part of a CIA-funded project to automatically translate Russian into English.  The project failed in 1964, but Chomsky persisted in defending his theories and the opposing, more effective theory of neural networks; Pinker persists in this denial even despite the quite impressive performance of Google Translate.*

    Perhaps if Chomsky had shown less loyalty to the grad students he had led down a blind alley and more loyalty to the truth, we could have been spared the likes of Steven Pinker and his Mr. Hyde, Robert Mercer.

    *Technically, Pinker/Hofstader is correct to say that “Google Translate is a long way from real understanding.”  So is Steven Pinker. 

    Reply
      1. a different chris

        Also it put in “impressive” before “performance of Google Translate” instead of the “impaired” that I”m sure you meant.

        Just teasin’ :) But it never worked very well for me.

        Reply
        1. GramSci

          I’ve been learning Spanish lately, and there GT is frequently as good as human translation. My other languages are pretty rusty, but I do concede French, German, and Chinese translation doesn’t seem to be as good as Spanish. I suspect this is because there is a lot of public and popular Spanish-English content on which GT can be trained, whereas for the other languages the training texts are more proprietary and narrow-domain, making nuance harder to capture.

          Reply
            1. New Wafer Army

              “Dead easy”

              This is a misconception. Even Spanish will take a significant investment in time and effort to achieve conversational fluency:

              If you start out as a beginner and spend an average of 1 hour per day working on your Spanish, you should able to reach conversational fluency within 8 – 12 months. That translates to roughly 250 – 350 hours of time spent.

              This assumes that you are taking lessons with a Spanish teacher at least 2 times per week, and spending the remaining time doing homework, and reviewing what you learned.

              That source is verbalicity.com who are much more optimistic than the likes of the Foreign Service Institute who claim about 1200 hours are needed.

              A Spanish teacher twice a week and an hour of study per day for a year is a hell of a commitment.

              Reply
            2. Arizona Slim

              And much easier than Russian. However, I can say that knowing Spanish has made the study of the Russian language a little easier.

              Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            wife, the spanish/ESL teacher, uses google translate in class…but only with supervision, and with the repeated caveat that it is far from accurate. Ie: don’t use it for a test.
            she’s also got another, proprietary, translator…but apparently it’s clunky and doesn’t get used.
            the main problem with it is usage and conversation….it gets it wrong when there’s context…like interpersonal differences of address, or whatever….(i ain’t a linguist!)
            and most of her ESL-ers are from some little village in the Mexican backcountry, and often speak texmex, and other pidgin…or in liguistic isolates, with lots of Indio words mixed in. That’s a challenge:
            the online language the AI uses doesn’t contain all that sort of thing.
            as much as the PTB want to, you can’t replace a flesh and blood Teacher with an algorithm

            Reply
            1. Oregoncharles

              Once in Mexico, we visited the island in Lake Patzcuaro – which, IIRC, joined the Republic in the 1920’s. We had a little boy with us, so were joined by a crowd of chattering children. My wife asked the Mexican tourist next to us what they were saying; the response: “I’ve no idea – that isn’t Spanish.”

              And another experience, more directly to your point: she was taking Spanish at the community college. A young woman in her class was a native speaker, but was doing poorly because she’d grown up with street Spanish – a long way from the school Spanish she was trying to learn. That’s a very common linguistic phenomenon, that ultimately results in new languages.

              Reply
          2. Oregoncharles

            Also, Spanish is an engineered language, created (edited, really) by a commission at the behest of the Spanish crown, right after they threw out the Moors (and financed Columbus). Consequently, it’s much more regular than, say, English, which grew “like Topsy” – that is, in random bits and bobs, and originally as a non-literate language. It’s difficult for non-native human speakers, let alone a program. And most natural languages are somewhat similar. EG, Chinese, which encompasses a number of distinct languages, must also be a patchwork.

            Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i learned my spanish in kitchens…built on a latin(and greek) basis from being a dinosaur/austrolipithicenes freak as a kid.
              back of the back of the house was often like a foreign country.
              after a while, you could tell just who was from some hamlet in a cloud forest without a road,lol.
              mostly good people.
              hard to give those guys a ride home, though.
              “random sounding words in back seat”
              “you mean left?”
              “random sounding words”

              Reply
    1. Avery T

      The joke, as I hear from my linguist associates, is that the general public thinks that Chomsky is a genius linguist with weird politics while linguists believe he’s a great political thinker with an unworkable linguistic theory

      Reply
        1. neighbor7

          Ha ha and +1! Good to keep in mind.

          The only overlap I see between his linguistics and his politics is a rigid structuralism that can’t acknowledge anything fuzzy like a hidden conspiracy.

          Reply
      1. Jeff W

        unworkable theory”

        What always springs to mind for me with Noam Chomsky, aside from his indefensible hatchet job [PDF] of B.F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior—in which, among other things, he managed to confuse classical conditioning with operant conditioning—is his review of Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity in which he writes

        Consider Skinner’s claim that “we sample and change verbal behavior, not opinions,” as, he says, behavioral analysis reveals (p. 95). Taken literally, this means that if, under a credible threat of torture, I force someone to say, repeatedly, that the earth stands still, then I have changed his opinion. Comment is unnecessary.

        No, according—clearly—to Skinner, you’re changing his verbal behavior—whether you call that verbal behavior an opinion or a coerced statement depends on the circumstances under which that behavior takes place. The example illustrates Skinner’s point and Chomsky doesn’t even realize it. Comment, as Chomsky would say, is unnecessary.

        Reply
  7. tegnost

    Uber…
    “Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview. ‘What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.’””

    “It’s not us, it’s you.”
    There, fixed it!

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      Not defending or excusing Uber, but I’m presuming that the rates are no worse than cabs. Just saying. Don’t flame the messenger. And ya, Uber-Lyft and many taxi companies are ___family-blog___.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        In NYC, the latest data I could find is that there were 14 rapes in 2016 in cabs and 10 in 2015. That includes all cars for hire that the TLC regulates, like green borough cabs.

        24% of Uber’s business comes from 5 cities. The prospectus lists NYC first. I can tell you that means NYC is the biggest. The convention in SEC filings is to list in order of importance (confirming that, the list was not alphabetical).

        So let us charitably assume that NYC is only 5% of Uber’s total bookings.

        3000 x .05 = 150.

        Now admittedly Uber has broader categories for abuse than just rape, like unwanted kissing. But it called (or probably more accurately, had police called in on them) 37% of the time. So take 150 x .37 and you get 55.5, still over 3 times as high as level TLC regulated taxis.

        Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Gee, providing a random platform for would be predators to pick up victims is the fault of society, not Uber.

      Reply
    3. Danny

      Not only Kamala Harris’ brother in law,
      married to her sister Maya West,
      who ran her brilliant campaign, and who
      self-identifies as Indian.

      “Kamala Harris For Something Or Another!”

      Reply
  8. Louis Fyne

    New method of measuring endocrine-disrupting chemicals provides evidence that people may be exposed to up to 40x the FDA-safe limit.

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-12-bpa-humans-underestimated.html

    ….The study, published in the journal the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Dec. 5, provides the first evidence that the measurements relied upon by regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are flawed, underestimating exposure levels by as much as 44 times.

    “This study raises serious concerns about whether we’ve been careful enough about the safety of this chemical,” said Patricia Hunt, Washington State University professor and corresponding author on the paper. “What it comes down to is that the conclusions federal agencies have come to about how to regulate BPA may have been based on inaccurate measurements.”

    BPA can be found in a wide range of plastics, including food and drink containers, and animal studies have shown that it can interfere with the body’s hormones. In particular, fetal exposure to BPA has been linked to problems with growth, metabolism, behavior, fertility and even greater cancer risk….

    Reply
  9. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Would you mind adding a segment to Links titled I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    At the FT’s banking conference last Wednesday, I heard banksters say that only banks, not governments, can fund a green industrial revolution, but need incentivising, including scrapping restrictions on pay and rules to protect investors. You won’t be surprised to hear that my dear employer was one of the firms promoting this nonsense. They see Brexit and the extinction rebellion actions as the occasions to do so.

    Reply
    1. larry

      Thanks for this, Col. Your bankers clearly haven’t heard of MMT or are engaged in another agenda. I suspect the latter, though I may be wrong. As you and I know, banks are not needed to fund the green revolution, though the government might well be. They seem to think they have a problem with their bottom line. In regard to this, HSBC are going to charge 40% on most overdrafts, claiming that most customers will be paying less or at the very least not more. It seems that many customers don’t agree. The MSM reporter then wondered how soon many others will follow, seemingly not clear whether this was a good thing or not.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Larry.

        Having not been to this sort of thing, held at the Intercontinental at Hyde Park Corner, for some years, I had forgotten how the collective of (largely EU) banksters are in private and detached from reality. They are engaged in another agenda.

        I received HSBC’s notification. I have a small sum there, run down from when I worked there.

        I am not surprised by the MSM reporter. This morning, the BBC’s Middle East business reporter called what looked like an oil refinery an oil factory and did not mention that much of the lack of investor interest in Saudi Aramco is due to interest in renewables and the lack of information about reserves and legal title to fields.

        Reply
      2. HotFlash

        Your bankers clearly haven’t heard of MMT

        Bankers have not only heard of MMT, they invented it (zero-reserve lending, eg Canada Banking Act of 1985 — hello Mark Carney?)

        They just want to be the sole money sovereigns themselves, since loans create intere$t payable to them — and that money is *not* created by fiat.

        Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Beijing’s hopes for AI dominance may rest on how many US-educated Chinese want to return home”
    [To build] the best universities is not easy. The university is a free speech space, whereas in China, this is not the case Gunther Marten, a senior official with the European Union delegation to China.

    Anybody want to go to one of those western free speech universities and call out on campus “Maybe Trump has some good ideas sometime” or “Some cultures are better than others” to test that idea?

    Reply
    1. GramSci

      The root of dogma is “to teach”. There’s not a lot of “question everything” anarchy/freedom in any modern university.

      Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            My local community college has one, consisting of one catholic priest with a strong background in greek, latin, and the Classics. Shares an office with the english dept. I knew their predecessors, they are a thorough bunch, carrying on their ways out in the middle of the corn. I’m amazed they still manage to keep it open for business.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              When I was attending the ‘Poison Ivy League’ college in New Orleans, one person I got to know was a Campus Cop, who was also a Graduate Student in the Department of Philosophy. All in all, an interesting set of acquaintances.

              Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “‘Our democracy is what is at stake.’ Pelosi says House will draft impeachment articles against Trump”

    Saw something weird on an Australian news channel tonight. They were reporting this story and saying more or less that it is over now, he has been found guilty and that he could be gone from the White House by Christmas. In short, it was total victory.
    It was bizarre as we know that this is total bs. But then they walked it back by saying that they would have to fight it out in your Senate but we all know too how they will vote on that one. Why would they report this story that way when they know better?

    Reply
    1. Robert McGregor

      I’ve encountered “educated” person after educated person in the US who doesn’t understand how Impeachment works. They think Impeachment is the conviction. So it’s no surprise that an Australian journalist would make that mistake. I mean, the person who wrote that is probably a 28 year-old with only a cursory understanding of American Civics, and his neoliberal-designed station does not provide fact-checkers or editors to check him or her.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        Nobody in Britain has been impeached for donkey’s ages but it is still perhaps possible in principle to impeach someone. Impeachment was not restricted to someone in office; previous office-holders could be impeached. I would like an impeachment of Toni Blair but I fear I will be disappointed.

        Even if it were attempted our Supreme Court would doubtless exercise its whim of iron and forbid it.

        Reply
    2. jefemt

      Ran into a pal who fishes in Cuba every late autumn… he was accosted by a goup of excited Cubans declaring that Trump had resigned. This news flash occurred three days ago

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        “Civilization as we know it today is at stake in the next election, and certainly, our planet,” said Pelosi.

        “The damage that this administration has done to America, America’s a great country. We can sustain. Two terms, I don’t know,” she added.

        Looks like she doubled down last night on cnn.

        Reply
        1. TroyIA

          I must admit that I totally misread Nancy Pelosi. Although I have disagreements with her policies I always thought she was very politically savvy. In regards to impeachment I thought she could see it was not a winning strategy and so drug her feet and finally agreed to go along with it in the hope it would backfire and end up damaging Adam Schiff and the far left of the Democratic Party. Now it seems she will be on the sinking ship with everybody else.

          Judging by anecdotal evidence this impeachment idea is not going over in flyover country. At all. Just reading Facebook comments on the local media’s stories about impeachment shows about 90% feeling it is dumb and a complete waste of time and money. The 10% pro-impeachment posts are either genuine believers or trolls stirring the pot.

          Once this impeachment is sent to the Senate you can pretty much write off Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren chances of winning Iowa if they are the Democrat’s nominee. So maybe Pelosi is ultimately taking one for the team in order to prevent the party from drifting left.

          Reply
          1. bob

            Who made the political decision to put Mr. Smarmy himself, Schiff, front and center as the face of the democrats in the run up to the elections next year?

            Why are any of these people still employed?

            Reply
            1. inode_buddha

              “Why are any of these people still employed?”

              Because Joe and Jane average believe the TV. Or the radio. Or they brought home the bacon in some insignificant way, 8 yrs ago. Or they simply aren’t paying attention in most cases — “After all if they were bad that their job they wouldn’t have gotten reelected, right?” is how the thinking goes.

              Reply
            2. Duke of Prunes

              There’s a contingent on Reddit that actually love Schiff and believe he will be remembered for saving the US. “Chills!” someone commented (not ironically) after his rousing speech to close his hearings the other week. I don’t know if this ties into the dumbing down of education (presumably, Reddit is a younger demographic), or just the quality of today’s brainwashing.

              Reply
          2. Tamar

            If Biden hasn’t dropped out by then, Sanders and Warren would have the perfect counter: since the conduct of Obama’s Veep is central to the Senate “trial” they have a clear conflict of interest and so should not–must not–take part in that proceeding. Only a confirmed Clintonite could be stupid enough to blame either one for Trump’s foregone acquital.

            Reply
          3. Oregoncharles

            About Pelosi: I just glimpsed a picture of her while looking for something else. It made an impression. She looked haggard, as well as grim. She isn’t young; looks to me that the stress is getting to her. She may be making mistakes as a result.

            Any word on whether she’s actually running again? I know she has a primary opponent – which might force her to run, just to keep a progressive out.

            Reply
            1. polecat

              Yes, she sure doesn’t look well .. I think the wax is stating to degrade
              An uncivilized House on Planet class D-Craycray how I interpreted her rant.

              Reply
          4. WJ

            Yes. I think they’ve decided that pursuing impeachment will adversely affect Sanders more than Biden and will help to ensure the party’s retaining firm control over the nomination. It may well lead to the re-election of Trump. But that’s not perceived to be as bad for the Democratic establishment as the nomination of Sanders would be. They just have to survive this cycle. Sanders will be too old to run in four years and there is at the moment nobody for him to hand the torch to.

            Reply
          5. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps the Catfood Democrat strategists are thinking that Sanders will lose any possible Deplorable votes if he votes to convict, and will lose millions of Democratic votes if he votes not to convict. Perhaps creating that double-bind for Sanders, Warren is part of the reason for pushing Impeachment.

            Is Gabbard still a Representative as of this moment? If she is, she could gain some Deplorable votes by voting not to Impeach. She wouldn’t lose any Democratic votes because they are almost all against her to begin with.

            Reply
      2. Katniss Everdeen

        pelosi is LYING–she hates putin. Everybody says so.

        And by the way, where is that fashion critic who studies the subliminal messages broadcast by women politicians in white pantsuits? What’s her take on all this? Enquiring minds want to know.

        Reply
        1. anon y'mouse

          “we wear white, because we are the good guys. we believe in Truth, Justice and the American Way”

          pretty transparent. nothing subliminal about that at all.

          Reply
        2. Barmitt O'Bamney

          A simple “No” to the Do you hate Trump? question would have been more persuasive – or at least somewhat plausible. Instead America got to see the Chihuahua shake and quiver with bare toothed snarling protestations of universal love. O, Priceless moments!

          Reply
        3. smoker

          I remember this white pantsuit most vividly. It was worn at the unveiling of the 7 foot Reagan statue in the Hallowed Capital Rotunda, in the midst of the as yet to be recovered from Great Recession™, as millions lost their livable wage jobs, shirts, and homes. The Hillary style collar line no doubt hiding some of Nancy’s hallmark clutching pearls. Hard to say which of the event’s two highlighted and beaming Democrats admired Reagan’s cruelty more, Obama or Pelosi.

          Reply
      3. smoker

        “I don’t hate anybody. I was raised in a Catholic house, we don’t hate anybody — not anybody in the world. So don’t you accuse me of any [hate],” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing in the Capitol.

        “As a Catholic I resent you using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” she continued. “I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

        Sickening. Yeah Nancy, the Iraqis felt your love when you refused to impeach George W. Bush, who has always seemed to be in your prayers™. All those ever increasing Sick and Uninsured, Homeless (particularly in your district), and Deaths of Despair feel your prayers, concern, and love. Many of those immiserated then decided to vote for Trump, because of it. Since those millions are powerless (unlike Trump), it may not be sheer hatred on your part but it most certainly feels like an ultimately deadly contempt and disdain for the plight of millions in California, and this country. Russia did not create that tragic plight..

        Personally I stand a very good chance of losing at least three I love within less than a year to uninsured illness, a predatory and broken health care system, a predatory and broken subsidized housing system, a totally broken in home support system, horrid skilled housing/nursing facilities, and daily despair and fear of homelessness in ones’ sixties. All three are Educated™, 2 with extremely high IQs, all three have been totally worn out taking care of loved ones in a country with an utterly shattered safety net, and all three are far better Catholics than you could ever be, Nancy. I’ll never vote for another Democrat (particularly from California) again in life, haven’t since 2008, when I held my nose. I expected the Republicans to be cruel, but you’re ultimately birds of a feather.

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          You Need to send a copy of this to her office, verbatim. Send one copy every day, until somebody finally opens it, reads it, and responds appropriately.

          Reply
          1. smoker

            Thank you so much, for the concern.

            As to those continuous letters you suggest though, believe me when i tell you that I have over two decades of valid reasons to not endure yet another huge and emotionally traumatizing time sink appealing – in detail, the last time (this year) for months on end, only to be creepily shut off with no explanation – to Federal, or State (I don’t even bother appealing to the utterly opaque local government, likely mostly Libertarians/Republicans who voted for Pelosi, Feinstein, et al) Legislators with huge, verifiable concerns that any decent human being would want to address, only to be not only blown off but end up feeling like I might be tracked for my outrage at their total amorality (that’s putting it kindly).

            I did make a brief call to Anna Eshoo’s office regarding treachery against Medicare for All, but that’s all the time I will be spending – versus spending it on loved ones -on these horrid people, a minute or three, they already know how horridly the masses are doing, providing them with the finer details of it makes no difference whatsoever, they are amoral (once again, that’s putting it kindly).

            Reply
        2. Oregoncharles

          That’s very sad. Real human impacts of bad policy, and very personal for you. I agree – send this to Pelosi herself.

          And hang in there; we’re all hoping the best for you and your loved ones.

          Reply
          1. smoker

            Thank you much, and see my response to Inode_buddha above, regarding those letters.

            Unfortunately, there is almost nothing to hang on to. It’s a solid wall of fear and agony.

            Reply
        3. The Rev Kev

          That’s bad that. Sorry to hear that you have so much going south in your life. I hope that things eventually get better for you and your family.

          Reply
        4. ambrit

          Am in similar position, though on a smaller scale. We will not be a “Silent Majority” any longer. Make lots of noise, and support “trouble makers” whenever we can.

          Reply
          1. smoker

            I pray you fare well, my vigorous complaints regarding the treatment of someone I love have resulted in even more abuse being heaped on, I’m worn out and scared to death,

            Reply
          1. smoker

            Thank you much, Yves.

            The above isn’t even the full of it. Would share more, but I’m increasingly feeling like a target attempting to address the outrageous blows that have increasingly been hitting my loved ones and myself due to the mind boggling level of abandonment of citizens and residents; negligence; and corruption within the California and Federal Governments.

            One instance I will share. Shortly after repeated complaints to a horrid skilled nursing facility (which issues I was sharing for three plus months this year, to no interest whatsoever, except a faux concerned tone, with one of my State Reps offices), I found my name slurred online by an absolute stranger. It was a lie of my using an alias (for transactions) on one of the most sickening on line, would be considered criminal in a functional society, social score sites. Worse, they frighteningly listed an address I had for about 1 1/2 to 2 years and moved from when I was 21, despite never having been charged with criminal activity in my life.

            How the hell is that address floating around from the seventies, perhaps from the Government having tracked the children of Cold War Engineers, especially when they studied the Russian language?, Palantir? Now, any hideous entity I deal with, as a guardian for my loved one can access that blatant lie about me and spread it as a defense against their contemptible behavior.

            That sent my already traumatized state sky rocketing, I once again shared the offense with the State Reps office in a voicemail to my contact there, have not received a call since. Also, a major issue which I was promised repeatedly (five plus months) would be resolved, regarding a horridly infamous telecomm was never resolved. I made numerous attempts to speak with that contact, but was basically informed in so many words, my contact with the person was done.

            Reply
    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I could be wrong, but I think all 17 american intelligence agencies, civilian and military, have concluded that the story is correct as reported. Also too, Julian Assange had something to do with it.

      Reply
  12. Carolinian

    Craig Murray’s retelling of a visit to Belmarsh is a must read IMO. It sounds like the British prison system is using 1984 as a handbook rather than cautionary tale. While here in the world’s leading carceral state the prisoners themselves are undoubtedly subject to petty mistreatment, it’s hard to imagine visitors being treated this way. But then the anti-authoritarian streak in a country that didn’t want to be “subjects” to an anointed “sovereign” is still strong if weakening. It may be our saving grace.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Any abuse of visitors there, you will find here. I would not use the words “petty mistreatment.” I have read plenty of just horrific stories of abuse of prisoners in both jails and state prisons, especially in the South. California and New York also have more than their fair portions. Only the federal system seems to relatively free.

      Now it is possible to find information on all this as there have been books, articles, bloggers, journalists, even prisoners, prison officials who have gotten information out there, but like with police homicides there has been an effort to hide the information and a lack of desire to find and publish it. It is rather like the United States’ use of torture.

      So the reasons one does not hear about the beatings, tortures, gladiator fights, deaths by torture, mass food poisonings, extreme temperatures, lack of medical care, forced labor (slavery), and so on, is because it “them” the evil, terrible, no good, bad people, and also the various prison systems spend a good amount of effort to conceal it all. Oh, and the growing use of video only visits often paid for by the prisoners or their families, and of tablets instead of books, also charged for as well instead of free. The fees are exorbitant.

      It is horrifically insane stuff and it is why I deliberately steal the words from the title of the book Gulag Archipelago from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to describe our present prison industrial complex.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Yes that was a poor choice of phrase although in the case of Assange it does seem terribly petty–similar to the the way Manning was mistreated. Needless to say if the unwell Assange dies in prison that would be anything but petty.

        Murray says the prison management is privatized over there as well.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          I am not unhappy with you. It is just that I have been reading on this topic for years. I would have hoped that some reforms would have happened, but like with Bloody Gina Haspel and her beloved enhanced interrogations, if it is not ignored, it is actually lauded.

          Reply
    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for mentioning this, Carolinian. I drew several conclusions from Murray’s article, including the common characteristics of state violence. Behind the veil of the state are individuals who make the relevant decisions regarding arrest, incarceration and treatment of nonviolent civil protestors and reporters of state behavior. In the case of Assange, what are the legal grounds for his imprisonment and why has he been assigned to a particularly hellish environment within a notorious prison? The burden of justifying his treatment lies with the state, which has essentially given none. Accordingly, one defaults to the independent observations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment linked here on NC earlier this week, and reports about his related health issues by both the Washington Post and NY Times on Nov 25. Based on these observations, this matter does not appear to be about allowing the judicial system to work and applying the rule of law, but something entirely different.

      Reply
    3. laughingsong

      Trust me they are. I have a close family friend in prison in Idaho and it is like death by a thousand paper cuts.

      Hundreds of small- and medium-sized indignities are perpetrated on families, visitors and inmates alike. And what is allowed or prohibited can change on a dime . . . all that’s required is a new lieutenant, warden, doctor, mailroom clerk , . . . seriously there are a dozen little Napoleons there waiting to get their jab into the obviously deserving population. And in their minds, any visitors are guilty by association.

      There are 3 pages of small type rules for visiting. The last time the 80-plus mother of my inmate friend visited she had to fight to keep her cane, which she very obviously needs. One month I can send him something and he’ll get it, the next month it’ll be trashed and returned to me in trashed condition just so I know.

      That’s one state; wonder how it goes in Texas or Louisiana or Florida.

      Reply
        1. polecat

          Never use the word “ubtuse” within hearing distance of a warden, unless you can see the light of redemption at the end of a sewer pipe !

          Reply
    4. Free Speech

      I find it hard to understand how, with 650 members in the UK Parliament, there wasn’t even one who would stand up and ask the government to justify the treatment being perpetrated on Julian Assange in Belmarsh. Maybe after the election?

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    On the first day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    A Presidential inquiry

    On the second day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    Two Ukrainians and a Presidential inquiry

    On the third day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    Three fresh hints, two Ukrainians and a Presidential inquiry

    On the fourth day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    Four galling words, three fresh hints, two Ukrainians and a Presidential inquiry

    On the fifth day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    Five calling logs, four galling words, three fresh hints, two Ukrainians and a Presidential inquiry

    On the sixth day of Christmas Congress gave to me,
    Six testimonies delaying, five calling logs, four galling words, three fresh hints, two Ukrainians and a Presidential inquiry

    Reply
  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: ‘An Arm And A Leg’: How Much For Stitches In The ER? Hard To Gauge Upfront KHN. Paging Franz Kafka.

    I don’t believe for a minute that the hospital “would accept 10% of its total bill to ‘make sure it collected something,'” and called it good for an uninsured patient. There have been way too many stories about the debt collection jihads hospitals go on against cash patients.

    If that really was the case, KHN should have published the name of the hospital so that anyone in the area with a high deductible plan could go there and pretend they were uninsured to get the rake off.

    I find myself getting outrage fatigue at the endless litany of financial ripoff “healthcare” stories like this one. If the point is to change things, every one of these “reports” should end with a statement that goes something like, “Under Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare plan, Cameron would have gotten anesthetic and stitches, and the only bill his mother would have gotten was for the lollipop that finally shut him up.”

    Reply
    1. JohnnySacks

      Cameron would have gotten anesthetic and stitches at the local urgent care center where that type of service should be provided, rather than the emergency room. (Taiwan is the newest country to build a nationalized health carer system from scratch, if only USA USA were willing learn something)

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        To be fair, she tried urgent care, but they didn’t have the anesthetic needed prior to the stitching up.

        I’m kind of surprised that they’re doing stitches at all any more. I thought the default these days was cyanoacrylate–plain, old Krazy Glue.

        We’ve closed up some pretty good gashes around my house with a $5.95 tube of Krazy Glue from Walmart. It’s an antibiotic, wounds heal faster with less of a Frankenstein scar and there’s no follow-up appointment. And 100 Equate ibuprofen tablets cost $2 at Walmart.

        Necessity is the mother of invention.

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Around here, all the ‘Urgent Care Clinics’ are owned by one or another of the local hospitals. As a rule, anything more serious than a cold or a hangnail is routinely sent to the ‘owning’ hospital’s Emergency Room. The mark-up is immense. I have ‘opted out’ of such ‘referrals’ myself in the last two years. Each time, I was given a stark choice; either go to the ER or not be treated at all.
        RICO needs to be re-purposed into the “Rentier Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”

        Reply
      3. human

        My thougt also. Please publish the name and address of that “Urgent Care” facility that did not stock any local anasthetic. I wonder how far they would have had to go to a pharmacy or their local drug dealer, if this was indeed the problem.

        Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Ukraine’s Divided House Still Stands”

    Lots to disagree with here but then again, it is a “Foreign Affairs” article here. Those Republics are not going back to the Ukraine. Not now, not ever. Not after five years of bombing, shelling, sabotage teams, murders, sniping and all the rest of it. The long term plan seems to be that if they occupy those territories, they will terrorize the inhabitants to ‘encourage’ them to flee to Russia. They admit as much when they mention ‘social engineering’ in that article by settling soldiers in occupied regions to shift the local demographics “like the Turks did in Kurdistan.”
    As for holding OSCE-monitored elections in the Russian-controlled territories, you can forget that one as well. They do work in the republics already but they have a bias for the Ukrainians and at worst, they are regarded as spies and artillery-spotters for the Ukrainians. There is zero trust there so that is a non-starter. As for Luhansk being under Kiev control, I seriously doubt that one. At the beginning of the war they launched an aerial attack in the city center (https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-unspun-luhansk-blast/25410384.html) and Ukrainian forces have shelled the city pretty heavily in the past when the battle lines were shifting.
    The main problem is Ukrainian nationalism which can be pretty toxic and has long memories. We saw examples of that with that Vindman during the hearing working more for the Ukraine than the US as well as that Chrystia Freeland in Canada. I never thought that I would ever see massive torchlight parades like they had in Germany back in the 30s but the Ukraine has resurrected this practice. And all the other baggage that goes along with it. Best outcome would be for a Federation with the Ukraine and the two republics which would not be only good for the people of the Donbass but those Hungarian-Ukrainians and Polish-Ukrainians.

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      The RV: would you mind expanding on your suggestion: “as well as that Chrystia Freeland in Canada.” What exactly is Freeland supposed to have done?

      You should not just say things without any regard for those who hear it.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Most folks here likely have heard a bit about Freeland, a dual-citizenship Ukraine-Canadian who has helped our Blob stir the pot in Ukraine. https://off-guardian.org/2017/06/30/canada-and-its-ukrainian-nazi-collaborators-chrystia-freelands-family-lie-grows-bigger-and-blacker/ And from another perspective, https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/canadas-minister-of-war-chrystia-freeland-pursues-america-first-foreign-policy/

        Of course one can always do a generic search in DDG on “Christia Freeland,’ and work your way down through the links to inform oneself, if one doesn’t already know all that stuff…

        Reply
        1. Carey

          As far as I can tell, Freeland wears the pants in the Trudeau™ administration,
          likely at the behest of certain neighbors to the south.

          Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Late to reply here but JTMcPhee has pretty well covered it. There was a Ukrainian Diaspora after the war and a lot of them went to Canada which is the background that Freeland came from. But like Vindman, it sometimes seems that she works more for the benefit of the Ukraine rather than her own country.
        Google Operation Unifier to see how this ended up where Canadian troops are training Ukrainian soldiers fighting next to the Russian border. But where it got to the point that Canada’s Band of the Ceremonial Guard are performing Ukrainian military marches to members of the Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora, you wonder if this is really a good thing-

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Unifier#Ukrainian_diaspora_response

        Reply
    1. ambrit

      Finally! Google does a funny! When I typed ‘anagram’ into the search box, the resulting page had a suggested revision of the search, as usual. It asked, in response to a search for ‘anagram;’ Did you mean: ‘nag a ram?’
      Is the Google AI approaching the Sentience Threshold?

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        I think that’s just some backend technician with a sense of humor. Google, for its faults, does like a nice Easter egg every now and again.

        Reply
    2. Anonymous 2

      Um.. it is an anagram of Being Extorted.

      As the plan to seems to be to sell the UK off to US interests it may be quite appropriate.

      Reply
  16. dearieme

    U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen”

    The endless grade inflation of language means that I don’t know what the headline means. Is it ‘traumatised’ in the sense of physically injured or in the sense of mentally damaged? If a headline is meant to be a useful summary of the article then that one fails.

    Reply
    1. New Wafer Army

      You know bloody well what kind of trauma is implicit: psychological. I detect some weird sub-text from your posts, a sly kind of malevolent innuendo, hiding behind ambiguity. I really don’t think this blog is the place for acting out your personal psychodrama.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        >I detect some weird sub-text from your posts, a sly kind of malevolent innuendo, hiding behind ambiguity. I really don’t think this blog is the place for acting out your personal psychodrama.

        ..and the quite interesting persistence. Mmm.

        Reply
    2. turtle

      I’ve never heard anyone use “traumatized” to refer to results of physical injuries. It’s always used to refer to results of psychological trauma, not physical.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        verb (used with object), trau·ma·tized, trau·ma·tiz·ing.

        Pathology. to injure (tissues) by force or by thermal, chemical, etc., agents.

        Psychiatry. to cause a trauma in (the mind): to be traumatized by a childhood experience.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          Based on Google, Turtle is correct, and it looks like you cherry-picked the one definition that emphasizes physical trauma with the verb form.

          See the Merriam Webster definition:

          to cause (someone) to become very upset in a way that often leads to serious emotional problems : to cause (someone) to suffer emotional trauma.

          Dictionary.com:

          To traumatize someone is to make them feel a severe, lasting sense of shock and hurt. Being in a bad car accident can traumatize anyone.

          Cambridge English Dictionary:

          traumatized definition: severely shocked and upset in a way that causes lasting emotional pain: .

          Urban Dictionary:

          To be so shocked/stunned by something, possibly to the point of functionally abnormally.

          The Google article links on the first three pages all refer to psychological, not physical, trauma. And there’s a high percentage of medical studies among them. I didn’t bother going further.

          Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    California Bans Insurers From Dropping Policies Made Riskier by Climate Change NYT
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That’s comforting, if I daresay warming news.

    Still, I expect to be dropped like a hot potato on our insurance policies, WUI is me, and they could care less how much work i’ve put into keeping flames out of harm’s way, but in the end that’ll be what counts the most, not some faraway actuary that’s gone AWOL.

    Now, what should I blow the $3k a year windfall on, when the ax comes down and they slit my risk?

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      around here, $3K will get you about 3000 gallons of rainwater tank space for collection.
      one of the few things that is, somehow, inflation-proof($1 per gallon, more or less, for 25 years, depending on material)
      and remember, 1″ of rain on a square foot of roof is a half-gallon of H2O.
      storage is the limiting factor.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        We have 2x 5,000 gallon tanks filled up at all times and a 2 inch faucet that connects fire hose, ours or the fire department’s, and keep around 30,000 gallons on hand in the pool, with a 195 gpm gas water pump connected to a 100 feet of 1 1/2 inch hose that can blast a 30 foot tall tree from about 100 feet away with more wherewithal than dozens of fire department pumper trucks.

        …we might be better prepared than most

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Our insurance company did one of those “we just want to send somebody over to assess your place” 3 or 4 years ago and the fellow told me i’m better prepared than 99.9% of home owners. Bet they still drop me though.

            Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        p.s.

        If you have a pool or a pond, $750 allows you to be your very own fire department. I was watching the news last year during one of the SoCal wildfires, and saw a gent attempting to put out approaching flames with what looked to be a small square plastic trash can scooping water from his pool, and the house he was trying to save was worth many millions.

        https://www.waterpumpsdirect.com/Pacer-SE2UL-E950-213-Water-Pump/p13822.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkLa02MKh5gIViaDsCh1m4g7WEAQYAiABEgIanPD_BwE

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I haven’t bought or sold a numismatic coin in 15 years, when I retired after 30 years of pushing metal I really didn’t want to see another one ever, if possible.

        Reply
  18. Livius Drusus

    Re: “Booming” Economy Means More Bad Jobs and Faster Race to the Bottom.

    I am glad that this information is coming out. I was wondering if maybe I was crazy because the news about the great economy did not fit with my own anecdotal observations. Perhaps we can now put to rest the idea that workers are doing badly because they are lazy and stupid and will not get a useful degree or learn a skilled trade.

    The truth is that there are not enough good jobs to go around so even if everyone got a STEM degree or went to trade school we would still have the same problems we have now, except you would have even more frustrated people working low-paying jobs that they weren’t educated/trained for. The economic system is fundamentally broken for most American workers.

    Reply
  19. allan

    Maggie Haberman @maggieNYT

    Bloomberg of his Dem rivals criticizing his spending: “They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money. And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns.”

    I love the smell of self-funding in the morning, it smells like .. like … Versailles.

    Keep talking, Mayor Mike, keep talking.

    Reply
      1. Robert McGregor

        @Historian That really is it! When you’re a billionaire, you ask yourself, “How can I increase my feeling of power?” Buying another house, or boat, or jet is not really going to do it. It will just slightly increase your feeling of power. “How can I increase my feeling of power? How about buying the Presidency? That really is another level, and all my billionaire friends will be so envious!”

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Not a few billionaires are trying to buy immortality.

          Living forever – it’s tempting, or very tempting.

          Reply
  20. Wukchumni

    Meanwhile in Tijuana-adjacent, termed-out Darrell Issa envious of Duncan Hunter’s Congress seat, said that a Trump clemency could save on prison costs of housing Hunter.

    Reply
  21. Tom Stone

    John Solomon’s “10 most important Revelations from the Russia probe fisa report” is both informative and unintentionally funny.
    I’m certain that the FBI will defend every right enumerated in the “Bill of Liberties” to the letter…John need not be concerned about that.
    Nor need he have any question about the FBI’s integrity, it has been amply demonstrated over the last 101 years.
    The Palmer raids, The “There is no Cosa Nostra” from hoover until Appalachia happened, Cointelpro, the Lab scandal, Whitey Bulger….more recently the “Mueller Report” with its curious omissions.

    Reply
  22. Summer

    RE: “Ryrkaypiy: Far-north Russian village overrun by polar bears” BBC

    “All public activities in Ryrkaypiy, in Chukotka region, have been cancelled, and schools are being guarded to protect residents from the bears…”

    “Tatyana Minenko, head of Ryrkaypiy’s bear patrol programme, told Ria Novosti that they had counted 56 polar bears in the village.
    The animals were “both adult and young… there were females with cubs of different ages”, she said – adding that almost all of them appeared to be thin…” (HUNGRY!!)

    “Last week, a polar bear specialist from the Institute of Biological Problems of the North said the bears now visit Ryrkaypiy so often that the village should be evacuated, and its roughly 700 residents resettled.
    Anatoly Kochnev told Tass news agency that polar bear visits are increasingly frequent – and that just five years ago, only about five bears got close to the village.
    “I as a scientist believe [Ryrkaypiy village] should not remain there,” he said. “We try to control the situation, but nobody would want to think what may happen there in three to five years.”

    The bears have a plan…

    The region’s animal protection official Yegor Vereshchagin told Tass that if residents wished to leave, “they could organise a referendum”.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      What a different reception to the visiting bruins, than ours when almost the entire Black Bear population in the higher climes showed up in search of acorns 4 years ago, which were plentiful here in the foothills, but not where they normally live. Most were happy to see them, for these denizens of the Sierra are very mellow creatures compared to Polar Bears.

      And they were picky bastards when it came to acorns, they didn’t want the ones on the ground, no siree bob, you’d see 3 of them up in an oak tree harvesting right from the branches, and they were good at knocking off dead limbs too, on one tree they were up in, there was 3x wheelbarrows of downed wood to collect.

      The year after and since, their numbers have greatly declined.

      https://www.kqed.org/science/349816/drought-drives-bear-into-california-town-in-search-of-food

      Reply
  23. td

    RE: Village Overrun by Polar Bears: it’s fascinating to see how well the bears get along when they’re chowing down on a snow-covered garbage dump. Having lived in a couple of places with grizzly and black bear populations, the key to keeping them from congregating is to strongly fence the dump and to have bear-proof dumpsters in the community. Otherwise, the bears swiftly learn that garbage is much easier to catch than seals.

    This is not a joke for the inhabitants as Polar Bears are serious predators and will be a long-term threat to people as they become accustomed to human-generated food sources. The bears are cute and cuddly only in Coke commercials.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      … in SoCal the folks in the wild land interface don’t understand the strength and ferocity of wild animals either.

      Yesterday a female mountain lion snatched a woman’s pet dog (Snauser) in her backyard. The woman foolishly jumped at the lion and attempted to extricate the dog from its jaws. No luck, of course. Well, maybe supreme luck that the lion didn’t put it’s jaws on HER neck!

      Reply
  24. allan

    North Carolina Republican won’t seek reelection after congressional map redrawn [CNN]

    North Carolina Republican Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not seek reelection, saying in a statement that “newly redrawn congressional districts were part of the reason” for his decision.
    Holding, who represents the state’s second congressional district, has served in Congress since 2013 and is a member of the House Budget, Ethics and Ways and Means committees. …

    Currently, the GOP has 10 out of the 13 seats in NC’s House delegation, despite the popular vote being
    essentially 50-50. It’s expected that the new districts might change that to 8 out of 13, still a gerrymander
    but getting within range of plausible deniability. Smart investors will be long voter suppression.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Math is always an interesting subject.

      In baseball, the total number of bases or hits is not necessarily the key but how they are bunched together (except when all hits are home runs).

      And in football, for another example, it’s about how a team strings together a series of first down, again, except when every first down results in a touch down.

      Over 200 years, the rule on the electoral college was first spelled out. Unlike congressional maps, it is not redrawn every so often.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        The Electoral College was created (like the Connecticut Compromise) to give lower population states more political representation than a democracy supported. Theoretically, a presidential candidate can garner 271 electoral votes with only 25% of the popular vote nationwide. Yeah, winner-take-all electoral voting, extra votes (2) to small states, and gerrymandering make US presidential elections a democratic farce.

        Reply
  25. flora

    Thanks for the BAR and Rev. William Barber links.

    Something usually hidden from the awareness of the country, not reported in the MSM, is this: if you’re in the bottom 50% of the income distribution you’re a lot closer to being poor yourself, through bad luck, than you probably realize. Raising the floor for the poor raises the stability of everyone’s floor, imo.

    Reply
  26. Danny

    More winning quotes from the corporate Democrats:

    Gavin Newsom: “I’m going to Iowa with Kamala Harris”
    https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article237963809.html

    Recall Newsom petitions now gathering signatures in California.
    How soon before “Recall Kamala Harris” petition is certified by secretary of state?

    Biden: “You’re a damn liar…sit down fat, you’re not voting for me”

    Bernie, or Trump.

    And Coffee Klatch Klobuchar?

    Reply
  27. Wukchumni

    The National Park System covers more than 85 million acres, and it’s possible that some of those acres are hard, if not impossible, to access because they are surrounded by private lands or have been restricted for some other reason. With your help, the National Park Service wants to compile a list of those hard-to-reach lands that are part of a national park.

    Once that list is in hand, the Park Service intends to see how it can increase access to those places. This effort, according to the agency, advances the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2019.

    “Increasing the public’s awareness and access to the more than 85 million acres managed by the National Park Service is one of our top priorities,” said de facto National Park Service Director David Vela. “We’re looking forward to working with the public, partners, and stakeholders to identify areas with no or restricted access to national park areas and collaborate with landowners to establish avenues for public enjoyment of these lands.”

    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2019/12/nps-develop-list-lands-significantly-restricted-or-no-public-access

    Judging from this administration’s disdain for our National Parks, this move seems awfully fishy. We just want to see what’s out there-where nobody goes, yeah that’s the ticket.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I guess that for them, self-reporting is the best kind of reporting. Regarding fires that you mentioned in a comment above – we are having some serious ones locally. Two areas near us had to be evacuated yesterday when some fires cut loose. From our back verandah last night, we could see the flames in the near distance. And we are only one week into summer. Today is supposed to be 43 degrees Celsius (about 109 Fahrenheit) and it is already as hot as a b******. The following probably sounds familiar to Californians-

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-06/queensland-bushfires-emergency-somerset-darling-downs/11726628

      Reply

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