Links 1/26/2020

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Indian Republic. Happy Republic Day!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! The Midair Collisions Menacing Air Travel Wired

The Troubling Decline of International Law Craig Murray

Why America’s Urban Dreams Went Wrong American Conservative. James Howard Kunstler’s review of a book by Alex Krieger on America’s cities.

You Blew It, Andrew Cuomo Railway Age (The Rev Kev)

Residents fear aftershocks more than cold after Turkey quake Agence France-Presse


Juilian Assange

Belmarsh Prison Inmates Prove More Ethical Than Entire Western Empire Caitlin Johnstone

Glenn Greenwald: ‘Does the Law in Brazil Even Matter Anymore?’ Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi


“It’s a Disaster for Europe To Be So Subservient to the U.S” Der Spiegel. Interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Australia Apocalypse

$500 million has been donated for bushfire relief, but only a fraction has reached victims. Here’s why. Business Insider (The Rev Kev). Hoisted from comments.

How Does a Nation Adapt to Its Own Murder? NYT. Richard Flanagan. One of Australia’s finest novelists: I’ve read 5 of his novels, each superb.


More Trade Wars? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson To Threaten US, EU With Tariffs To Speed Up Trade Deals International Business Times Yet another instance where BoJo grossly overestimates his bargaining position.

US treasury chief warns Javid to shelve plans for big tech firm tax Guardian (The Rev Kev)

Farewell Europe: the long road to Brexit Guardian

Brexit: a manifesto for peace EU

Grenfell Tower inquiry member Benita Mehra resigns BBC (The Rev Kev)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Analysis: The Pentagon has a credibility problem, and it’s only getting worse Roll Call


Trump impeachment: Half-empty spectator gallery puzzles senators NY Post

What if It Were Obama on Trial? NYT. Nick Kristof. Sone good questions, although I disagree with some of this.

Scholar: Impeachment’s Twisted Takeaways for Trump Capital & Main

Impeachment: Democrats undoing 2016 election, say Trump lawyers BBC (The Rev Kev)

Trump’s Impeachment Puts the Senate on Trial New York magazine. I think Frank Rich should have stuck to theater reviews. I’m including this for the final paragraph – everyone is finally fed up with the Clintons. When you’ve lost Frank Rich….. Will none of her posse enlighten her: HRC, please go away!

I mulled reviewing the new Hulu documentary – my torture would be to your benefit, dear readers. I’m relieved to see it doesn’t start streaming ’til 6 March – by which time it’ll be stale news. Glad to dodge that particular bullet, as from other reviews I’ve seen, from people who’ve seen screenings at the Sundance Film Festival or otherwise gained access, I think I would find the smug self-regard of HRC and her cronies hard going.

Class Warfare

Banks Are Handing Out Beefed-Up Credit Lines No One Asked For Bloomberg

Class Struggle Built the Finnish Welfare State Jacobin

Italy’s Answer to Populism (Re Silc)

The Greatest Threat to the Prison-Industrial Complex TruthDig

Health Care

Insurance Lobby Talking Points Don’t Come With Warning Labels FAIR


Why Hillary Clinton is the world’s greatest gift to Republicans New York Post

Bernie Sanders isn’t a ‘democratic socialist’ — he’s an all-out Marxist Washington Examiner (The Rev Kev); This is two funny.

‘Just go ahead. Let’s do this.’ Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg takes on protester at Chicago fundraiser. Chicago Tribune

Endorsement: Elizabeth Warren will push an unequal America in the right direction Des Moines Register

Suing Hillary Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard stands up to the Russiagate smear machine Grayzone

‘The Only One I Didn’t Want Her to Pick’: In Secret Recording, Trump Admits Fear of Clinton Picking Sanders as VP in 2016 Common Dreams

New York power set comes off the sidelines to back Biden Politico


In a documentary on the British view of India before freedom, the Empire strikes back Scroll

The Constitution has always inspired Indians to question power and demand their rights Indian Express

Economist, Soros: Has Hindu nationalism increased global criticism of India or bad economy?The Print

Complicit in Modiʹs Hindu nationalist agenda Qantara

Modi’s Nationalism Masks a Bad Economy, Protesters Say Bloomberg


Wuhan leaders blamed for spread of China coronavirus as hospitals beg for supplies, death toll rises  SCMP

China coronavirus spread is accelerating, Xi Jinping warns BBC

Hong Kong declares emergency alert over coronavirus Asia Times (The Rev Kev)

Inside the horrific, inhumane animal markets behind pandemics like coronavirus MarketWatch (Re Silc)

Waste Watch

China, I’ve got just one word for you: ‘Plastics’  Asia Times. or those who missed the news from last weekend: China to ban single-use plastics.

Trump Transition

Worse Off Half: Spouses of H-1B workers tensely await their fate to work in US Economic Times

Antidote du Jour: (via)

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “Trump impeachment: Half-empty spectator gallery puzzles senators”

    As Resilc put it in yesterday’s Links, most Americans are “Too busy going between their part time jobs at Walmart and Dollar General.” And any real player would be where the real action is going on at the moment – in Iowa. The impeachment trials are just low-grade Kabuki theater.

    1. John

      I have watched the “highlights”. And btw why can’t we have a camera on the senators? Hmm? Sure wouldn’t like what we’d see I’ll bet.

      I watched the swearing in. The signing of the book to be impartial jurors.
      Seeing the Republicans sign that book was stomach turning.

      Nancy Pelosi sure had a plan when making the Ukraine issue the only articles of impeachment.
      She knew that Republicans could spin and spin and spin it since Biden’s son is corrupt as Trump on this issue.

      She wanted to make sure he wasn’t convicted and removed. She and the other elites have gotten even more fabulously wealthy under Trump since he’s cut taxes by trillions on the corporations they own most of the stock in. There’s no way she’s stopping that.

      Why would most Americans watch? The only winners are the elites. As usual.

      1. chuckster

        Seeing the Republicans sign that book was stomach turning.

        Almost every Democrat senator said – before the articles were sent from the House to the Senate – that they would vote to convict. This is merely a Democratic Party fundraising scheme and an opportunity to replace California’s elderly neocon senator (DiFi) with a younger neocon senator (Schiff).

        1. John

          This whole impeachment is not just to replace DiFi with Shiff.

          It actually is worse, to keep Trump from being impeached for any of his real crimes.

          1. anon in so cal

            Schiff hammers away with his deranged lies about Russia. His face and the anti Russia captions are plastered on magazine covers at the grocery checkout stands in Los Angeles, brainwashing whomever was not yet converted. What the Dems are doing is diabolical, dangerous, reprehensible.

            1. John

              Yeah, Putin is so innocent.

              If so, let’s hear every word of the meetings between Putin and Trump.
              We can start there.

              Then, let’s hear and see what’s on Trump’s super secret server.

              Then, let’s hear what the NSA has recorded.

              Then, let’s see all the WhatsApp messages that Kushner has sent to his criminal buddies around the world.

              Then, let’s follow the money from Russia to the Republicans for their campaigns.

              You may not agree with everything Schiff says but Putin is a thug and working against the U.S.

              1. Monty

                I am not a doctor, but my layman’s prescription for you, and any others in the throes of severe T.D.S., is to do yourself and your mental health a big favor and read, “Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine” by Derren Brown.

                Disquietude, for its own sake, is very bad for your brain! Focus on things in your world that you actually have the power to change. Don’t worry about the rest, it’s just a recipe for anxiety and frustration.

                1. John

                  Personal insults to other posters. Thought that wasn’t allowed here.

                  I know the meme here about Russia. (I have been reading this site from it’s beginning.)

                  I don’t agree after reading thousands of articles and watching Trump over the past years.

                  You don’t have to attack me personally.

                  1. Monty

                    No offense intended. Genuinely trying to help. We aren’t cut out to deal with these painful ideations, which we are powerless to change. It must be torment to go through life, focused on changing stuff you can’t verify, let alone effect. The frustration must be overwhelming.

              2. Detroit Dan

                Dear John,

                You engage in name calling here:

                “Putin is a thug”

                Followed by “let’s follow the money from Russia to the Republicans for their campaigns”.

                What money are you talking about? My understanding, is that Russia and Trump were innocent of the charges that the FBI was investigating for several years. The Mueller Report was pretty clearly an attempt to save face through innuendo.

                Putin seems to have been much more reasonable, correct, and successful in his Middle East dealings than has the U.S. Go back to 2003. Mueller, who was FBI Director, testified that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was poised to use them against us. Putin was on the correct side back in 2003.

                Christopher Steele, Joseph Mifsud, etc. are a bunch of western intelligence assets trying to discredit Trump and Russia.

                Trump is a horrible president, IMO. You only help him by blaming for stuff he didn’t do, such as collude with the Russians.

                I could be wrong about all this…

                1. John

                  Dear Detroit Dan,

                  The rule here is: no name calling other posters.

                  Not: no name calling public figures.

                  Please correct me is I am wrong on this matter.

                  1. Detroit Dan

                    The rule sounds reasonable, and I often call public figures names. So you make a good point.

                    On the other hand, I’m pointing out that I don’t accept “Putin is a thug” as a meaningful statement in the context of this discussion, just as others could dispute my “Trump is a horrible president” if there were any Trump supporters here. Discussions sometimes become counterproductive if the underlying premises are not shared.

                    Anyway, thanks for the civil discussion!

              3. harry

                You are more than welcome to apply whatever sanctions you like against Russia/Putin etc. However my impression is that you already did. So now you are just howling at the moon. If nuking them is off the table, is this purely for fund raising purposes, or did you want to crowd out genuine opposition to Trumps corporate welfare.

                Russia, russia, Russia = stupid stupid stupid,

                to me at least.

              4. John A

                but Putin is a thug and working against the U.S.

                Of course Putin is working against the US. It would be a dereliction of duty as head of state not to, when the US is determined to destroy Russian opposition to the US coming in and stealing everything. But please explain what you mean by Putin is a thug. I simply do not understand that. BTW, I mean proper examples of thuggery, not something spouted by the US intelligence authorities, politicians or MSM journalists,

              5. kiwi

                I’m curious.

                What makes you so certain that none of what you list hasn’t already been dug up and reviewed by someone?

                Geez, Trump only has multiple ongoing investigations. Do you really think that if there was something criminal, it wouldn’t have been leaked by now?

                1. John

                  Yes, Trump is so innocent.
                  It’s not like he doesn’t control the Executive Branch. Put his personal Cohn in as the Attorney General. Packed the courts. Declared the press an Enemy of the People. Or gone after congressmen who oppose him with a vengeance.

                  Guess you haven’t noticed that the elites more than often don’t get held accountable for their crimes.

                  Wall Street comes to mind.

                  1. kiwi

                    Packed the courts? Really?

                    He is doing what he is supposed to be doing – nominating judges.

                    I don’t blame Trump for Wall Street. Get real. WS has been coddled probably since the day it was born. My own democratic govenor, when he was in Congress, voted against taxing carried interest.

                    What exactly does “gone after” mean. Did he toss them in jail? Did he send out assassins or people to beat them up? Maybe he tweeted way too hard for some of them.

                    Most press is a joke – especially the likes of CNN and MSDNC.

                  2. hunkerdown

                    That’s bipartisan.

                    We, the people, are prepared to judge him for this in November, if the Democrat establishment and their deranged hangers-on will only allow us to.

                    And don’t even talk about the courts when your “team” are directly responsible for Merrick Garland.

                  3. lyman alpha blob

                    Do you really think Barr is his personal toady? I sincerely doubt Trump ever heard of Barr until some Republican operative floated the name to him.

                    What press has he shut down? None – he loves it when they talk about him. And they love talking about him because of the ratings – just ask Les Moonves.

                    What has he done to Congress – tweeted about them? The horror…

                    Now murdering Sulemani, that deserves impeachment and a trip to the ICC. But Congress and the media seem to have forgotten all about that. I wonder why?

                    1. John

                      What press has he shut down? None
                      Oh no, he’s done nothing to shut down the press:

                      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged with violating Espionage Act

                      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was charged Thursday with violating the Espionage Act by seeking out classified information, an escalation of the Trump administration’s pursuit of leakers that could have major First Amendment repercussions for news organizations.

                      What has he done to Congress – tweeted about them?
                      I’m pretty sure that he’s done more than tweet about Lindsey Graham to cause him to go from an outright never Trumper to being a sycophantic a$$kisser of Trump overnight (there are others).

                      Now murdering Sulemani, that deserves impeachment and a trip to the ICC. But Congress and the media seem to have forgotten all about that. And I believe I made it clear I think that there are numerous crimes for which Nancy Pelosi could have brought articles of impeachment against him for but chose the one that she knew would never get a conviction.

                  4. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    I’m always very curious when people state “Putin is a thug” since a simple review of major actions would indicate he has acted with incredible forbearance.

                    America has separated Russia from the world financial system, alongside other severe sanctions, for example, for his “crime” of “annexing” of Crimea.

                    But let’s review. Crimea was a longtime part of Russia until Khrushchev one drunken night gifted it to The Ukraine. The puppet Ukraine government (installed in a bloody coup supported by the US in 2014) started anti-Russian “cleansing” there, including declaring it was illegal to teach the Russian language in the schools (despite the fact that >90% of people in Crimea are ethnically Russian and speak Russian).

                    So they had a referendum. You know, that “freedom and democracy” stuff America talks so much about. 90% of people voted to rejoin Russia. That would seem like a majority to me. The transition to Russia went off without a single death or shot being fired.

                    I get that America badly needs a foreign boogieman to make financial, diplomatic, and actual war against since the entire U.S. economy is based on making war. Can I suggest that strategic adversary should be China, not Russia, whose entire economy has been described by economists as “Belgium plus vodka”. Trump is doing exactly that.

                    Russia is 1. white; 2. European-centric; 3. Christian. They are proven and effective opposers of Islamic fundamentalism. I think they would make a much better ally than enemy against our real strategic rival, which is China.

                    I get that our fourth branch of government (CIA/FBI/State) have invested entire careers in the “Russia bad, so bad” that we saw so publicly on display with creatures like Sondland, but that does not mean that policy is the right one. It was pretty good in 1982, today not so much. But oh, I forgot, Orange Man bad, no matter what he does.

                    1. marym

                      There’s good arguments for treating Putin as a rational actor on behalf of his country, rather than an excuse for Cold War 2.0/potential hot war/Russiagate hysteria, but the US needing to ally more with authoritarian, white nationalist, Eurocentric, Christianist Islamophobia isn’t one of them.

                    2. witters

                      “Putin is a thug.” Response: China is the real “strategic enemy” … What an instructive thread this has been. It is derangement syndromes all the way down.

                    3. Montanamaven

                      Thanks OTPBDH for recapping how the “annexing” of Crimea really happened following the 2014 fascist takeover of Ukraine funded by theUS and the Khrushchev history. I heard Prof. Steven Cohen, Russia scholar, discuss how Putin wasn’t looking to annex or invade anything. But he also needed to keep Russia’s only warm water port in Crimea. He was between a rock and a hard place.
                      To further your argument that he’s not a “thug”, one should read his speech to the UN in 2015. Profound as opposed to Obama’s. He spoke of how the Russians had learned their lesson about spreading ideology. Don’t do it. Let each nation decide for themselves what kind of “democracy “ they want. He coined the term “sovereign democracy”. He’s actually an intellectual. Hard to comprehend since most of our leaders, even if they went to Ivy League schools, are thugs. For proof listen to Oliver Stone’s interviews with him.

                    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel


                      Gonna have to disagree with John on this one.

                      Hearts in the right place though.

              6. christofay

                I saw video of Bush dancing with Putin from 2008. Obviously Putin got into Bush’s head and sent him on to Iraq to destroy the United States, the Ground Hog Day War. And Putin ruined Hillary and Bill by gifting them all that money when buying out the Uranian supply. Those two are so busy counting their money they have no time to govern.

              7. anon in so cal

                When you state that, “Putin is a thug,” you repeat NeoCon propaganda. Putin is hated by U.S. NeoCons—both CIA Democrats and GOP NeoCons—because he won’t roll over like the US puppet Boris Yeltsin did and allow the US to trample on its rights in the quest for full spectrum dominance. Putin is a very wise, intelligent, and patient leader. Too bad the US has no equivalent. Putin helped Syria fight back against US-funded jihadis and US NeoCons have had him in the crosshairs ever since. It’s the US that perpetrates thuggish behavior, over and over, for decades.

                1. norm de plume

                  ‘Putin is a very wise, intelligent, and patient leader’

                  Yes he is, and part of the reason he is such a bete noire, why there is a kind of desperation to traduce him, is that it is dimly appreciated that he is a figure of world-historical stature, something our entire ascendancy of freedom lovin’ democracies have not been able to produce for at least a generation.

                  In fact, in my lifetime Russia has produced two such titans. The essential work Gorbachev undertook to clear a path out of the Soviet dead end is matched by the quiet industry that has marked Putin’s 20 year project to drag his country out of penury and strife and back into the first rank of nations.

                  Did you see the four hour press conference he gave the other week? No notes, extempore expertise about every damn thing. Seriously, everything. The man’s effectiveness, and his obvious command of the minutiae as well as the big picture, stands is stark contrast to the puppets we elect.

                  That other announcement about new political arrangements, the one our media tried to spin as a power grab, was only a small part of a major speech, in which Putin also announced a slew of family friendly measures, including the provision of a hot meal every day to all Russian schoolchildren. Just try to imagine that happening in any of our nations in the US-led West. Cui would bono from such an effort here? The children? Or the politically connected private concern with the shonkily-obtained sole provider licence?

                  In histories of the future, self-absorbed placeholder lieutenants like Obama will recede, only his novelty value lifting him from the footnotes, and sideshows like Trump will be analysed by niche historians, like the reigns of the later Roman emperors. Striding thru these tomes will be the man we are all being cajoled if not bullied into hating – not because he poses an existential threat to us, but because he embodies the sort of prudent, people and nation-first governance and leadership we should have, are told we have, but haven’t had for generations.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Can you imagine what America would be like if they had eight years of a Presidency with a person of Putin’s abilities? I don’t think for a start that he would tolerate the mass homelessness as it exists now. And now that reservoir of homeless people will be a perfect incubator of Coronavirus if it gets loose in the US come to think of it.

                    1. norm de plume

                      Putin would see the homeless not as a liability but as a potential asset, but more than that, as part of his responsibility to protect and help prosper.

                      For our elites, they are surplus to requirements, almost a separate species, obsolete relics of a previous stage of capitalism. A virus to decimate them may not be it ‘all going according to plan’ but ‘every crisis is an opportunity’…

                    1. norm de plume

                      Well thank you for the comment that provoked it. I detected in it some of the peevishness and frankly embarrassment I feel when I see or hear this ‘Putin is a thug, or a secret billionaire oligarch, or the fiendish, cat-stroking master manipulator of global politics’ pabulum. It’s cringe-inducing.

                      Where has our decency gone” Our quality? We were once able to produce (or rather, we were once able to elect) people of similar capacity; they do exist. But now it is so palpably obvious that we are not allowed, or at least cannot have admirable leaders, we have to swallow the unedifying spectacle of this sort of snarky, ill-informed, childish bleating and name-calling of a genuine giant of our time. Even if you loathe the man you can’t deny his stature without descending into the ‘2 minutes hate’ silliness we now have to eat 24/7.

                      This reaction (how reactionary our politics has become!) and what it is reacting against, are emblematic of the battle camps for the war ahead: one operates on facts and national priorities, the other on fantasies and elite priorities.

                2. Lambert Strether

                  > Putin is a very wise, intelligent, and patient leader.

                  By comparison to any of the leaders of the current Anglosphere, yes, although we are currently setting a very low bar. But I would refer to the question of whether Putin is a combination of King Solomon, Pericles, and Sun Tzu to somebody like Mark Ames, whose view I am sure would be somebody more dim.

                  It is, however, an enormous indictment of our political class that it has not been able to turn out a leader — given our scale, more than one leader — of Putin’s obvious strategic acumen — not even, especially not even the intelligence community, from which Putin came. Not Obama, certainly. Not Bush, certainly. Not Clinton, certainly.

              8. Lambert Strether

                > Yeah, Putin is so innocent.

                If there had been anything to the 24/7 liberal Democrat yammering about Russia ever since Robbie Mook decided the morning after the election that brain-damaging a large section of liberal Democrat voters with ancient Cold War hatreds was the best way to protect ClintonWorld, Pelosi would have put it in the articles of impeachment. She didn’t.

                Everything you mention would have been done if the House investigation had been a serious effort. It wasn’t, and although it’s quite natural that liberal House Democrats would like Republican Senators to do the work they were neither courageous nor patient enough to do, there’s no reason for the Senate to perfect the articles that the House — after a month’s delay! — tossed over the wall to them.

                So far as I can tell, the current liberalgasm is about two things and two things only: (1) the Senate race in 2020, and (2) John Bolton’s book deal. We have an election in 281 days. I wonder how many of those the liberal Democrats will soak up in their fruitless attempt to climb up on their spavined high horse? 10%? 20%?

              1. John

                That’s your brilliant takedown article ?

                Seriously? Hit me with something that actually is a takedown.

                FYI I predicted Trump winning the day he came down the escalator.
                Lost many friends over that early and right prediction.

                1. Yves Smith

                  You’ve repeatedly violated house rules by engaging in broken record, as in repeating the same thing over and over after it’s been refuted, failing to provide substantiating evidence for your blanket assertions (agnotology), and other forms of arguing in bad faith, as well as being obnoxious.

                  And yes, Lind is brilliant, particularly in comparison to anything you’ve said here.

                  As we clearly state in our written Policies, which you have repeatedly ignored and violated, commenting here is a privilege, not a right. You’ve lost yours.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Looks like the great undertoad gobbled up my comment and your reply, but anyway, spot on TRK, I’m shaking that branch boss… :-)

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think having recruited so many people to run for office who otherwise would be Republicans except for their residency in safe blue districts has created a group of electeds who kind of expect the pomp and circumstance to appeal to the populace as much as them. The Waxman hearings on baseball had perfect attendance from Congress critters, and out of office Waxman has had regrets about that circus.

      Even that doofus line about impeachment being forever. It’s supposed to sound profound but is being repeated by the party of Bill Clinton.

      Then Schiff is such a dolt.

    4. Pat

      Someone said to me that they ignored yesterday’s impeachment. They were shocked when I said why watch any of it?
      I followed up with Trump was never going to be convicted, and no one was ever going to change their minds about him. It is a dog and pony show meant to fund raise that was only going to backfire on Democrats as it shows that the only high crimes in their book have to do with politics and NOT with the well being or safety of their constituents. Which is why Trump’s polls are rising.

      The last was news to them. But then a couple of weeks ago they still thought the Dems could pull it off. Imagine their shock when I ran the numbers for them and asked how they were going to get a dozen or so Republicans to vote to convict. Oh and that it would not throw out Pence as well, so not such a win. *slams head against wall*

      Unfortunately “informed” voters like this are the reason the Democrats even attempt this stuff. Our corporate media should rot in hell, Maddow tops of the inferno.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Most “informed voters” opinions are cobbled together from second grade social studies and a few odd TV shows. It’s why they thought “The West Wing” was profound. A piece of trivia here and there really reinforced the delusion. It’s why they didn’t notice Sorkin’s sexism. Having Josh explain the three branches of government or how a bill becomes a law to Donna, a white house employee, wasn’t obviously insulting to the “woke” as they know so little.

        When confronted with more than their little fantasies the get sleepy and check out.

      2. workingclasshero

        My opinion is that the dems are being played by senior execs in the media whom are more than intelligent to realize this spwctacle over time will bring in o.k. ratings and help destroy the dems right before election season really heats up.the trumpian counteroffensive might get intense,hence more high ratings and a probable republican sweep in november.

    5. flora

      Impeachment: Frank Rich. Rich is trying to take up the torch of impeaching the character of the senate jury instead of T but he does it badly. Rich needs to stick to theater reviews and NY society, where he’s more in his element and much more entertaining, imo.

      From Turley:

      Why neither side is really trying to win this Trump impeachment trial

      “It is the one unbreakable rule in litigation. You can insult the defendant or the opposing attorney and, on occasion, you might even insult the judge. But the one thing you can never do is insult the jury. That is only if you want to win a jury verdict, and that may be why both legal teams in the impeachment trial of President Trump seem more eager to get the goats of Senate jurors rather than their votes. Both sides seem to be striving for the constitutional equivalent of a hung jury, not enough votes for either a bipartisan acquittal or conviction, simply the status quo. What is different is that you usually do not actually hang the jury in a hung jury strategy.”

      1. ptb

        Dunno about the hung jury metaphor. Without having read the article, it seems to imply maintaining the pretense that arguments or evidence will affect the vote in the Senate. The things that affect the vote are: #1 what the sponsors of the two parties want, and #2 for a couple of states or districts that are close, there will be consideration of how voters will react.

        #1 is that Trump takes the blame for as much unpopular stuff as possible, and that the two parties are in a near 50-50 balance. #2, in a handful of places, is that Dems are fighting to not lose House and possibly Senate seats on this.

        Insulting opposing members of Congress is solid politics and is largely irrelevant as long as the standard lines are used. Unlike a jury they are very well rewarded.

  2. Livius Drusus

    Re: Bernie Sanders isn’t a ‘democratic socialist’ — he’s an all-out Marxist.

    This was a good one, thanks! I especially liked this:

    His rise clearly troubles establishment Democrats who are uneasy with his far-left agenda. Among Sanders’s most notable detractors are mainstream Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The former president, for instance, is reported to be so “anxious” about Sanders’s standing that he’s contemplating publicly repudiating him (although some Obama allies deny this account).

    But wait, I thought Obama and Clinton were Marxists too! I built my anti-communist bunker in the backyard for nothing! To think, I wasted all of those hours with the flashlight under the bed to see if Obama’s Bolshevik minions were going to haul me off to the Gulag in my sleep when I could have spent that time watching Fox News!

    More seriously, conservatives have put themselves in a weird position. They have called everyone to the left of Ronald Reagan a socialist and have labelled all forms of welfare capitalism “socialism” so now people use the term “socialism” for what used to be called New Deal liberalism or maybe social democracy at the most extreme end. It is not surprising that many people, especially younger people who grew up after the Cold War, have a positive view of socialism since “socialism” now means something like a more humane version of capitalism.

    Interestingly, what you might call “real socialists” like Marxist-Leninists also find this state of affairs frustrating since they see radical energy being drawn toward reformists like Sanders, AOC and the DSA instead of toward their own more orthodox Marxist parties. The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), for example, posts many negative articles on Sanders, AOC, the DSA and pretty much anyone they see as working with the Democrats and the liberal mainstream in general.

    I am not sure what the point of my post is other than that I think it is interesting how political terminology works. I have sometimes wondered if Sanders should have dropped the “democratic socialist” label because a lot of Americans still hate anything called socialism, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting him much so far. Only time will tell I guess.

    1. The Historian

      The Washington Examiner always stays true to form – all right wing innuendo with little in the line of fact or reason to back it up. The author of this hatchet piece obviously has never read Marx nor does he even understand Sander’s brand of Socialism – I’m sure that it has totally escaped his mind that the term Socialism covers a broad variety of ideas, not just Marxism or Trotskyism, just as I am sure that he doesn’t know that Marx didn’t invent Socialism.

      When I lived in the DC area, they used to give the Examiner away for free at the metros. Nobody read that rag, they just did the puzzles in the back while on the train and then threw it away. I don’t know if they give it away for free any more – probably not, since the Overton Window has moved dramatically right.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        It was/is an operation of King Moon. It has always been a joke and an Epstein like spy thriller. I have friends that were trapped into the Sun Yung Moon cracker barrel. Go back and look at videos where Moonie himself made our legislators bow to him and perform at ceremonies where he was elected god year after year. I wonder if they are still doing that with its corpse?
        Look long and hard for wisdom in DC. Get back to me if you find any. Do people really forget this kind of lunacy?

    2. BobW

      KJV Acts 2:44-45 “And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
      And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”
      A bit prior to Marx.

      1. inode_buddha

        Going back a bit further to the Old Testament, we have the City of Enoch, which was called Zion, for they were of one heart and one mind, and there was no poor among them. (KJV)

        Most Conservatives that I know have no problem with socialism if it is imposed by God. They have a huge problem with it if it is imposed by Man, because corruption and lack of Freedom might happen.

    3. Plenue

      The whole article is gold, but I particularly like this part:

      “When the United States was containing communism in Central America, Sanders flew to Nicaragua to lend credibility to the Sandinistas.”

      The Sandinistas are good people. And the US ‘contained’ them by illegally raising money without Congressional approval by selling weapons to Iran (which the article vilifies in the point literally just above this one), which it used to fund South American terrorists who killed a couple hundred thousand people.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Perfectly OK for Ollie North to fill US military planes with cocaine to fund the weapons because, you know, America and everything, plus he had that buzz haircut and that cool uniform

    4. Darthbobber

      WSWS and various Communist, Trotskyite/Maoist formations could probably be called “Orthodox Leninists” (though none would concede that label to any of the others), but that’s hardly synonymous with “Orthodox Marxists”. Indeed, even the juxtaposition of Orthodox and Marxist is a near-monopoly of the Leninist vanguard formations/splinters

      1. JBird4049

        If everyone is Scottish, are there any true Scotsmen?

        So we have the continuing project of groups like Washington Times of making everything to the right of Ayn Rand as the uber icky communism and many of what could be called orthodox communists saying that they are the only true communists, WTF does this leave us? It is like the old time Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox as saying that they are the only true Christians.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the MSM and the Mainstream Depublicrats and etc. are able to convince millions of young Sanders supporters that Sanders really IS an outright Marxist . . . . what will all those successful convincers do if all those young supporters decide to become outright Marxists themselves, because if Sanders is an outright Marxist, how bad can outright Marxism be?

      Have the ” he’s a Marxist!” people really thought about that? Is that really a result they would like?

    6. kj001313

      Personally I have made a rapid left journey because of Bernie’s candidacy in 2016 where I now lean towards being an Ancom. I’ve have seen multiple remarks on Social media from those in the left who have said that Bernie/DSA/Chapo Trap House have made class consciousness more accessible and are providing a gateway for some towards becoming committed leftists.

    7. KFritz

      The article’s contents are laughable, but if Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee, this article may become a rallying cry for numerous suscepitible voters. It’s a preview of the Republican campaign against Bernie. That won’t seem a bit funny if and when it happens..

  3. Mark K

    From the Politico article about Biden’s fundraising in New York:

    “People would be totally fine if Mike Bloomberg emerged as the nominee. But for that to happen, Joe Biden needs to collapse,” said one major New York donor who is helping Biden.

    As Lambert would say, “People” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

  4. DorothyT

    Re: Richard Flanagan “How Does a Nation Adapt to Its Own Murder” (NYT)

    While reading this my thought was what if Trump’s impeachment trial involved the single issue of his policy on climate change — denial and its consequences.

    I also look at the stack of books on my bedside table that I have been meaning to read. Two of them are Richard Flanagan’s novels, one being his Man Booker prize winner “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

    Flanagan’s beautifully written NYT opinion piece about Australia’s bushfires is for all the countries of the world, with an undeniable message for United States leadership now.

    1. Fraibert

      Legally speaking, whatever the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard for impeachment specifically means, it is understood to exclude legally permitted policy decisions, regardless of the possible consequences. The next election, not impeachment, is the Constitutional remedy.

      More generally, it is clear that the Constitution’s wording was formulated to also preclude impeachment for incompetence and the like.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        More generally, it is clear that the Constitution’s wording was formulated to also preclude impeachment for incompetence and the like.

        That explains Biden’s comfort level.

      2. DorothyT

        Fraibert: Highly recommend reading this in response to your message

        The Federalists fall back on strict construction when it suits industry. You write this, “More generally, it is clear that the constitution’s wording was formulated to preclude impeachment for incompetence and the like.”

        I’d say that “incompetence and the like” have a very different meaning in recent decades regarding climate change and the various laws that affect it.

        1. kiwi

          Supposedly, the writings pre-Constitution privide more guidance about impeachment and the intent behind the language that made it into the Consitution.

          I find dems monkey-ing around with language and using arbitrary definitions they like to dream up at any moment far more disturbing than a strict constructionist.

          The simple fact is that dems cannot face up to their overall electoral failures, so they decided to rely on courts legislating from the bench. Mind you, as a dem, I didn’t find this particularly objectionable; however, at some point, one must face facts about dems losing. I used to believe that the population supported dems policies more, and dems argue continuously that the population is on their side, but the dems keep losing. Why do they keep losing if their policy positions are so darn popular?

      3. anon in so cal

        Schiff hammers away with his deranged lies about Russia. His face and the anti Russia captions are plastered on magazine covers at the grocery checkout stands in Los Angeles, brainwashing whomever was not yet converted. What the Dems are doing is diabolical, dangerous, reprehensible.

        1. clarky90

          Schiff is “Big Brother”, railing against Emmanuel Goldstein (Trump)!

          “Two Minutes of Hate”. (Back in a kinder 1984, hate was restricted to just 2 minutes per day. Not hours and hours and hours…..

      4. TimmyB

        Impeachment is a political process which allows the Congress with a simple majority to require the Senate to hold a proceeding whereby a president can be removed from office if 2/3 of US senators vote for his or her removal.

        The grounds for removal, as stated in the Constitution, are “high crimes and misdemeanors.” We can quibble over whether this or that thing is a high crime or misdemeanor, but individual senators get to make that decision. Whether on not incompetence can ever be a successful grounds for removal is undetermined.

        However, the reality is that no president has ever been removed from office because of the difficulty in getting 2/3 of the Senate to vote in favor of removal, no matter the grounds for removal.

        So let’s bottom line it. There are currently over 33 votes in the Senate in favor of acquittal. It is highly unlikely that this will change. There are two conclusion one will be able to draw from Trump’s expected acquittal. The first is that over 33 senators did not believe Trump’s actions rose to the level of high crimes or misdemeanors. The second is that, given that the majority of sitting senators belong to the same political party as Trump, there would always be 33 votes for acquittal, no matter what Trump was accused of.

        Neither conclusion can be proved.

      5. NotTimothyGeithner

        it is clear that the Constitution’s wording was formulated to also preclude impeachment for incompetence and the like

        Huh? What wording? The whole point of impeachment and removal is to have an organized and peaceful process to replace good ole’ fashioned non-murder based removal of kings. High crimes and misdemeanors means being unpopular enough that Congress feels they can do it. So yeah, Bill Clinton could have been impeached and removed over a blow job, and it would be perfectly constitutional. As to lesser courts created by congress and state legislatures, they have to deal with legalese, but Congress doesn’t obey a standard of the ABA.

      6. Dikaios

        “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is neither a political nor a legal standard. It is a moral standard. When political bosses like Trump or Clinton are “tried” for petifogging trivialities, their truly monstrous Crimes and Misdemeanors are in fact being rewarded.

        1. inode_buddha

          “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams

    2. Robert Hahl

      A few years ago I decided that the biggest flaw with plans to escape from the climate by going to New Zealand is that it will eventually be overrun by Australians, who will ruin the place. (The other flaw being that a tsunami could wipe out any of those low lying cities.) Still looking, but I think New England seems to be the bess place to ride it out.

      1. Wukchumni

        About 45,000 years ago, some momentous event took down entire forests of large (around 10 foot wide-130 foot tall) Kauri trees in the north of the North Island in New Zealand, and not only that, but whatever calamity came calling also buried them, preserving to the extent where they have 70% of the tensile strength of modern wood.

        There’s quite an industry in what is termed ‘Swamp Kauri’, with almost all of it being exported to China, as similar to the predilection with various animal parts, they’re really into exotic wood, and Kauri being the oldest workable wood by a gigantic margin, is quite the magnet in terms of attraction.

        I’d be a bit more concerned about all those Chinese fleeing Flu Manchu for the land of the long white cloud, not that it doesn’t have it’s volcanic moments (Auckland is surrounded by dormant for the time being ones) and shakers such as Napier.

        Here’s how you extract 45,000 year old trees…

        1. Wukchumni


          Coveting long dead trees are one thing, but this is beyond the pale…

          The primary catalysts of the illegal kevazingo business, however, are Chinese companies. The reason for this boils down to a physical similarity. Kevazingo wood, when processed, looks remarkably like wood from trees in the rosewood genus, Dalbergia (kevazingo belongs to the genus Guibourtia), which are used to make a type of Chinese furniture called hongmu (loosely translated as “red wood”).

          Hongmu chairs, cabinets, and beds were crafted for royalty during the Qing Dynasty out of rare rosewood trees from India and Southeast Asia. Today, intricately designed hongmu tables and bed frames can sell to the nouveau riche for more than $1 million (in U.S. dollars).

          This demand has created a logging industry that is decimating forests in Myanmar, Madagascar, and Indonesia, among other countries. Between 2005 and 2014, 35 percent of illegal wild-commodity seizures were of rosewood—almost twice that of any other illegally traded wild commodity.

        1. John

          So are we to take from that article that all the rich buying homes in NZ (which we know about and know where they are) also put in bunkers there that we don’t know about?

          A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Customs Service declined to confirm that the bunkers had arrived in the country, citing privacy reasons.

          It takes about two weeks to excavate the land and bury the average bunker, Lynch said. It’s all done secretly so local residents aren’t aware. Once installed, passersby would have no way of knowing it’s there.

          “There’s no clue left behind, not even a door,” Lynch said.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Those bunker residents better hope that lidar and similar tech are unworkable when things go pear shaped.

            If doomsday prepping is your thing, you’d be a lot better off buying some battery operated survey equipment and a pick and shovel.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          And yet. There is something so tempting about getting them all in one location, and underground to boot. Posibilities, posibilites…

          1. Greg

            Rich people are welcome to come hide out underground in concrete bunkers in these shaky isles. There’s good reason us plebs dont have houses with basements.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Sitting in New England right now watching snow melt unseasonably early again in what is becoming a pattern. We have very warm weather overall through January and then a cold snap in February/March right when things normally would be warming up. It’s like the traditional Dec/Jan and Feb/Mar weather patterns have been reversed in recent years.

        Also the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than pretty much any other body of water on the planet.

        New England sure seems a lot better than Australia right now but who knows how all of this is going to shake out over the medium run.

        1. petal

          I was shoveling my parking spot in shorts and a tshirt this afternoon. Way too warm(45F). So bizarre. Friend was having a white-out snow storm up in the NEK about an hour north of here at the same time. Don’t see our cold snap in the forecast yet. It is worrying. Things have been out of whack for a few years now.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          northern texas hill country: i have pears and peaches starting to bud, more than a month earlier than last year(which was too early, it turned out: had to have burn barrels for a “late” freeze.)
          bees in the bee tree are awake and wandering and hungry….and shampoo residue makes you smell like a flower, it seems,,,so i’ve been feeding them at the entrance to the new hive…again, a month earlier than i intended.

          …and while few, relative to high summer(billions), i still have live, adult grasshoppers in the pasture.
          after 3 years of old testament levels, i’m terrified what this overwintering may mean for the coming season.

      3. Judith

        As someone living in the Boston suburbs for longer than I ever planned, I am curious. What is it about New England that makes it best in terms of climate change?

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          I’m no expert, at all, but I’ve heard that the great warming in the arctic is actually pushing cold air southward (polar vortex) and that New England is the recipient of some of that. So that’s one thing (if accurate). Then New England is in a relative sweet spot in terms of latitude (a nice cool -well cold – zone 5) without the issues that it’s equivalent lattitude faces in the West due to ocean topology, geologic quake prone fault lines, and the Rocky Mountains.

          And as far as the South goes, when and if New England warms up to zone 3, it may be uninhabitable for those who are in zone 3 now… (:-(

          Nevertheless, depending on how bad things get, New England will get it’s fair share of problems and suffering. Having more forest area than at any time since the Colonies, we will be very prone to fire issues as the climate dries and heats up.

        2. Robert Hahl

          One factor I like is the ability to easily relocate to other places, over a large continent if necessary, because of fairly stable property values, so one might have valuable property to sell. It’s not too hot or too cold and should remain so; lots of water; not fully exposed to hurricanes or tornadoes or flash flooding (except in mountainous regions0.

        3. montanamaven

          Lots of water! Kunstler’s theory is that when oil and gas run out, we will have to go back to moving things on waterways like the great rivers and the Great Lakes. Also using water to run mills like they used to. There are several reasons why I got a place in Upstate NY besides having nobody to talk to in my small town in Montana and the place being overrun by California tycoons. Biggest reason is that there is still small town life and downtowns and Cheers bars like Oldenberg talks about in “The Great Good Place.” I talk to mushroom farmers, hard cider makers, electricians, musicians, artists, trust fund babies…

      4. Whoamolly

        Yesterday while standing in line at the library I listened to two people talking about how they hated Trump’s America, and were going to leave.

        They apparently did not realize that they were not eligible for migration anywhere on the planet.

        They had three disqualifying conditions:
        1. Old
        2. Poor
        3. No critical modern tech skills

        They also failed to understand that cultural factors—everything from language to friends to customs to food—matters hugely.

        Thus, moving within the US would be a reasonable option. My right wing relatives did this consciously when they moved from California to a small town in rural Utah.

        The culture in their new home is much more to their liking. Their only complaint is the deep snow during winter.

        1. Wukchumni

          We were in NZ for a few months on a trip 15 years ago, and ran into another American, and we were singing the praises of the Colorado sized country in the South Pacific, and he related that we have everything NZ has and then some, it’s merely spread from Hawaii to Alaska and down to the lower 48. and you’d have to do one heck of a lot of travelling to see it all.

          There’s a lot of places to relocate in the USA. If things got weird here on account of climate change and made it unlivable, i’d bail for Jemez Springs NM @ 6k feet and surrounded by a bunch of natural hot springs. A whole 375 people live there now, and it fits my criteria for a place that Native Americans inhabited for a long time, and yet never developed into a much larger population. Water wouldn’t be an issue.

          The Jemez Valley is thought to have been inhabited for the last 4500 years. The Spaniards who visited the area beginning in 1540 reported multiple Native American pueblos(villages), in the valley.


          1. Oregoncharles

            Yes, we visited there while we were going to the U of New Mexico – the Jemez was a great relief from Albuquerque. My most vivid memory is of going into the local bar for a meal; there were children all over the place, even sitting at the bar. I don’t think they were drinking, just hanging out and eating. No one was worried about law enforcement. A cheerful, convivial place.

            Quite close to Los Alamos, of course; but also to Frijoles Canyon and some really fascinating ruins. The descendants of the people who built them live at Santo Domingo pueblo, down by the river. Visited there, too.

            Beautiful place, New Mexico.

            1. Wukchumni

              Jemez Springs was an also-ran to Los Alamos as a location for the Manhattan Project, interesting eh?

              And yes, NM is a treasure-such a rich texture of old & new.

          2. neo-realist

            Wouldn’t rising temperatures in the coming decade(s) be an issue in NM as it would be in other southwestern states? How about the quality of health care?

            1. Whoamolly

              Health care:
              Local hospital takes Medicare

              By automobile…
              Albuquerque is 49 minutes away
              Juarez is less than 5 hours away

            2. Wukchumni

              The crystal ball I bought @ Wal*Mart only tells the future for a fortnight, so i’m no good for decade out insight.

              We’re about an hour away from a hospital now and i’m not sure that’s far enough, so 5 hours away seems tempting.

  5. ex-PFC Chuck

    re The coronavirus links, Ilargi this morning on today’s “Debt Rattle” post has an excerpt and link to a piece at Great Game India asserting the virus now in the wild was derived from one stolen several years ago from Canada’s only Level 4 research facility by Chinese agents. Tellingly, I’ve tried several times this morning to follow the link but keep getting this message: “Error establishing a database connection.” DDOS attack originating in China, perhaps?

    1. Monty

      An awful lot of disinformation out there at the moment. A lot of it is getting amplified by qAnon twitter accounts and youtube channels trying to get views. I was reading a subreddit where they were looking at the pictures, chat logs and videos that are doing the rounds. e.g. The 90000 infections nurse, and people falling and dying in the street, or the mass graves. It seems like they were suggesting most of it is either fake or able to identify reposts of older pre-existing videos.

      As far as I am concerned, even though I have the deepest sympathy for those actually effected, I will worry about my personal safety when there are hundreds dead in Vancouver or San Fransisco.

      1. anon in so cal

        The situation in China seems dire. They are short of supplies, hospital space, etc.
        One article reported that China’s equivalent of the head of their CDC suggested using giant cruise ships on the Yangtze River to house patients. Straight out of _Love in the Time of Cholera_.
        Another article mentioned that 14 medics contracted the virus while performing a neurosurgical procedure on a patient. How could this occur if they were following sanitary procedures?

      2. polar donkey

        Went to home depot at noon today in Memphis. Going to get some n95 masks. While I am standing there looking at a box, 4 Chinese people came up to bin and started getting boxes of masks. Other home depots were already out of masks.

        1. polecat

          Just today purchased about 50 N95 masks at Home Depot. Neither Walgreens, nor RightAid had any in stock. When I inquired, asking what aisle where they were in, she mentioned that I was the 2nd person in under a minute wanting to purchase. The locally owned and operated pharmacy in my town was sold out except for 1. I think people here (some anyway … ) in the States are becoming hip to the possible near future ramifications of a burgeoning pandemic. I also stocked up on frozen tortillas, dry beans and rice, TP, and bleach .. to add to the emergency larder. We have enough food stored to last at least a few months. Good thing we polecats like to consume homemade burritos ! My goal is to kill any 19CoV that makes it’s way past the physical mask barrier .. with copious amounts of garlic & hotsauce !! …. better than awful Forsythia that Alan Krumwiede swore by ‘;] .. and tastier to boot!

          1. Big Tap

            “There are two common kinds: surgical masks and N95 respirators. N95 respirators filter out most airborne particles from the surrounding air, preventing wearers from breathing in particles down to 0.3 microns in diameter. … However, the coronavirus is 0.12 microns in diameter.”

            Got this from Business Insider. If true the N95 masks will not be totally effective against coronavirus.

            1. polecat

              They are relatively cheap to purchase (currently…) and are better then more flimsy paper masks. I think that unless you’re in an extremely messy medical situation, the N95 rated ones will have to do.
              Now, where did I put that empty square clearplastic linen container, flex hose, rainsuit, and vacuum blower… I know it’s around here somewhere!

    2. Carla

      @ex-PFC Chuck — I was able to access the article using the link in your comment. I cannot claim to have understood it, but I did read it.

    3. marieann

      I cannot get on the site either, I have been trying all morning.

      ZH has the same link but they seem to have the article on their site.

    4. bwilli123

      I hesitate to post the link below alleging that the outbreak is due to a virus China stole from Canada and that escaped a Wuhan facility. You’ll note that the site appears to be a creation of Miles Guo (Kwok) and Steve Bannon.

      Anything to beat China around the head. True or not.

        1. VietnamVet

          This is an important article. I bought a P100 mask at Amazon. Clearly money is more important than ordinary lives. Travel and trade will continue. Having gone through the Beltway Sniper and Anthrax Mail Attacks, I will try to cut down exposure to others to a minimum, and click on all relevant posts here. But the strange thing is that the future comes down how the virus adapts to its host and how long before a vaccine becomes available. There can never be a perfect quarantine; not that it will ever be implemented. It will be very hard to believe Donald Trump, or for him to get reelected if he says “everything is great” and urgent care centers are overflowing and strip mall stores are empty.

  6. katiebird

    I have a dumb question about how WordPress works. At the top of the column it says there are 8 comments. But only 6 are displayed. I have checked this in a couple of browsers. Are the missing comments waiting moderation?

    Just wondering.

    1. The Historian

      Something is definitely screwed up today. Even when I refresh, I can’t get the comments that I see posted in Recent Comments.

      Brooklyn Bridge’s comment still isn’t showing up.

      1. inode_buddha

        sometimes it helps to hit “refresh” in your browser, but yeah there’s something else going on today

  7. Butch In Waukegan

    Re Caitlin Johnstone’s Belmarsh Prison Inmates Prove More Ethical . . . I am worried that this is the first step in a plan to get rid of the troublesome Assange, à la Epstein.

    Suicide is out but surely in the “notoriously harsh maximum-security prison full of violent offenders and prisoners” a murder could be arranged.

    1. pjay

      Yes. I was thinking the same thing. I understand the psychological stress of solitary confinement (and whatever other rigors Assange has been suffering – drugs, etc.). But progressive supporters of Assange seem universally happy about this development. I saw it as a mixed blessing, for the reason you mention here. Hopefully he will at least be allowed to have more contact with his defense team and the outside world now.

    2. Basil Pesto

      to what end? Assange doesn’t pose an imminent danger to any (XL sized) rice bowls in the way that Epstein did, and wikileaks would go on in the event of his death regardless. They don’t need to ‘take him out’ – seems like doing so would be more trouble than it’s worth.

      1. fajensen

        For a rational set of “They”, perhaps.

        But, Assange went and straight-up peed on the ambitions of the Clintons. They will never let that slide!

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Endorsement: Elizabeth Warren will push an unequal America in the right direction”

    I’m reading this in a second way as in ‘Elizabeth Warren will push an unequal America in the right direction’. Well she was a Republican most of her life and is a self-declared Capitalist with a capital ‘C’.

    1. KLG

      Yes. And I had great fun last time around pointing out to her partisans that Hillary’s Arrow pointed to the right, and I would have none of that. Cheap, yes. But enjoyable.

      The Aaron Maté conversation with Michael Tracey is quite good.

    2. richard

      Someday I’m going to do a really short and boring performance piece on the modern democratic party. Here’s how it will go:
      Me: “I am the democratic party. The time is 1977.”
      (looks confused. makes the L-shape on hands to remind himself which way is left. Aha! Turrns sharply to the right and walks briskly off stage)

  9. John

    Pompeo Denounces News Media, Undermining U.S. Message on Press Freedom

    Describing a tense exchange after a taped part of the interview, Ms. Kelly said that Mr. Pompeo shouted at her repeatedly using the “f-word” and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unlabeled map that his aides pulled out, which she did.

    Maybe Pompeo can play the same game with Trump on national TV.
    Pull out a map of the U.S.A. and see how many unlabeled states he can name.

    My guess would be not many.

    1. anon in so cal

      Pompeo is a dangerous lunatic. But Yovanovitch should have been fired, imho. Reading about the Kerch Strait incident, it seems she intervened with bogus info which had the effect of derailing Trump’s planned meeting with Putin. Every one of the inter-agency employees paraded out as witnesses were rabid Russia phobes. Not a good idea to have them in any policy- or decision-making capacity.

      1. Andrew Thomas

        So why not just write her a nice letter thanking her for her service in her present position, and transferring her back to Washington DC immediately pending reassignment? That is how things like this are done when you don’t want to call attention to them. An instruction to “take her out?” Just remove her. He had every right to do that under the law, for any reason, or no reason at all. When history and circumstances combine to create an economic/political system that is bipolar, and not capable of penetration, and everyone who has any power on both sides of the divide is completely ignorant, utterly and cynically self-serving and totally immersed in fantasies, non-reality and frenzied lies, what do you have? It is not a failed state, because it continues to function, albeit criminally, especially in its actions beyond its borders. It’s a real question. Words are failing me. Can anyone help?

        1. Olga

          You’re right, of course, but we all may have noticed that DT is not the “don’t want to call attention to them” kinda guy. He wants to call attention to EVERYTHING, it seems (particularly, if it involves him looking oh so tough and decisive! You know, the “i am the decider now” bit).

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          zombie empire…like the late ottoman empire, “the sick old man of europe”…held up by inertia and by the fact that it’s still in everyone’s(at a certain level) interest to keep believing real hard that it’s still a viable project.(TINA!)
          Toynbee’s description of disease progression is still my favorite:
          –“First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force – against all right and reason – a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation – and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands. “

      1. Andrew Thomas

        Phil, when I read your response I thought it was a weird piece of satire. So, I went to the citation. Oh, my God. To the fifth power.

      2. J7915

        Without psychologically diagnosing Pompeo, one might note that a certain kind of personality tends to fawn excessively over those who outrank them, while abusing those they consider beneath them.

        That is the definition of a Partei Genosse in the old country.

      3. The Rev Kev

        I wonder if there was ever a case of a cabinet-level person like a SecState have a mental breakdown on the job and having to be removed. If so, I would expect that the excuse would be that they had to spend more time with their families.

      4. norm de plume

        Pompeo is a Rapturist; there is no need to learn the names of nations that will shortly be destroyed as he and his coreligionists ascend to heaven.

  10. Watt4Bob

    WRT those ‘beefed-up credit lines‘ the banks are handing out;

    Just before the crash in 2008, my employer told me that one his friends, a hedge fund guy, IIRC, told him we were about to experience “The greatest transfer of wealth in history.” and so it happened, the GFC, and the bail-out of the banks.

    So a couple months ago, I asked him what his friend was saying lately?

    He seemed peaved by my question, and sort of bruskly answered “You know what? There’s lots of money out there, there’s more money than ever…”.

    So, “things are great!” ?

    My thoughts at the time were that he was mistaken, and that he must be thinking of the huge amounts of cash in the hands of the rich and the big corporations.

    As for his getting upset, I reminded him that that since we hadn’t spoken about this topic since 2008, I didn’t consider it out of line, or unreasonable to bring it up for only the second time in eleven years.

    After some thought, it’s dawned on me that he and his peers, consider all the recently created ‘equity‘ that average people have ‘aquired‘ by dint of housing inflation to be ‘money‘ which of course he is expecting to come his way because people will once again believe they have become more ‘wealthy‘, and so, will borrow on their home value and buy stuff.

    I think he and his buddies are in for a surprise.

    1. inode_buddha

      Here is an exercise for your friends, I’ve done this before. Consider that I am a wage earner, paid hourly. It has taken me 35 years to get up to 15/hr. Yep most of my adult life to get up to what is considered to be a “living” wage.

      Put myself through 3 separate trade schools at own expense, but that’s another story.

      Now for the exercise. Take each and every thing you own and calculate how many hours you had to work to obtain it. Then add some more for taxes.

      Do this exercise say once every 5 years. What do you think the results will show? In my case, my taxes have remained relatively constant as a percentage.

    2. Krystyn Walentka

      Consider this “On The Ground Reporting”:

      I drove down I-5 from Olympia, WA past Eugene, OR yesterday. I have never seen this in my travels before, but the rest stops were full of people suffering form the economy. Young women holding signs “Pregnant, Low on gas, Anything helps!”, so many dilapidated campers and cars packed full of belongings. And at a rest stop between Portland and Eugene I pulled into a spot to find a woman attempting to find some privacy to shoot up whatever it was to ease her pain. (Yes, I fond another spot to park.)

      Before the internet bubble was the wealth bubble, and that is where these people who say “The economy is great!” are living.

      1. Carla

        Thanks for cluing us in, Krystyn. On-the-ground reporting is essential for us to know what’s going on, and what’s coming.

      2. ambrit

        So, it is spreading. A different sort of corona-virus. The corona in this case being the ring of people circling around but not partaking in the “great economy” that supporters of the status quo crow about.
        You describe a situation similar to the great Okie Migration away from the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s to the Promised Land of the West Coast. Only, today, there is no Promised Land to migrate to. Your example implies a burgeoning migration away from the West Coast. More properly, it is a migration away from the dream of the Golden West. Traditional political philosophy has followed the Biblical aphorism; “The poor, you will always have with you.” This fatalism was a ‘realistic’ accommodation to extant socio-political power balances. The genius of Marx and Engels was to realize that there is an alternate strategy: Organize the ‘poor.’ There is a giant reservoir of talent and energy milling around in the homeless camps and world of the precariat. Sanders may sense this. Anyone grasping that power and using it is a nightmare haunting the elites of today.

        1. lordkoos

          I don’t see any west coast exodus where I live, rather more and more people moving to the pacific northwest.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I don’t live there anymore, but from what my friend who still does tells me, the tech hipsters who are coming in to sell their souls to the Emerald City Cue Ball are displacing the people who lived there previously and can no longer afford to stay.

            One difference I do notice – back in the 90s there was plenty of heroin but I never saw people shooting up in the streets. My buddy sees it all the time now. Even the junkies used to be able to afford an apartment, now not so much.

            1. polecat

              I think that’s a Democrat thing … I mean, if it ‘worked’ in SF …….

              If this corona virus takes off, not only will our disfunctionary healthcare unsystem be laid bare … having an unabated homeless problem nationwide will exasperate things for the worst!

        1. JTMcPhee

          Rich folks pull the same stuff with people who choose to live on boats, like I did for twelve years, pull the same crap argument. Here where I anchored, I was not too far from the overflow outfall from the city. When it rained enough, which it does here in FL, the city discharged millions of gallons of sewage and rainwater through that outfall. This is th encase in a lot of places where sailors try to live. And of course fish and turtles and dolphins poop in the water, and most people around here own dogs and are owned by cats that add their poop to the runoff from yards also dumping pesticides and fertilizers directly into the waterways. But boaters (who by law have to have holding tanks which are pumped out into the local sewer system when full) are the target of all kinds of blame for fecal contamination.

          Too bad the model in people’s minds seems to be this clip from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:”

        2. Eclair

          Lordy, they’re flapping on about people living in RV’s killing Orcas with their poop water, yet Seattle is pushing for a new, improved and bigger than ever, cruise ship terminal. These floating cities are notorious for contributing to ocean pollution, both of the fossil fuel and poop kind. So, killing Orcas is ok as long as it generates cash flow.

          Not that we should not be concerned about raw sewage; clean water and proper treatment of fecal matter (human and animal) are essential to maintain public health. It just really annoys me when this issue is used as a reason to further demonize poor and unsheltered people. Probably the executives running Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the fabulously profitable for-profit prison companies, are looking at this as a growth market.

          1. polecat

            There is absolutely No way that I’ll travel, cruising on one of those gigantic floating septic tanks that double as a . uhh .. vessel. Even a garbage scow has more to offer ….

      3. JTMcPhee

        Recall the Okies of the 1930s. All the Okies had to stop their pain was alcohol. Seems there were two main items that moved all those thousands to do what you report seeing: economic, getting booted off land they used to share crop along with collapses in price of crops, and environmental, as in Dust Bowl.

        Some quick reads, offering parallels:

        I wonder if among the members of this new diaspora there is the same sense of decency captured in the Hobo Ethical Code,, and whether there is any organizing of the afflicted along the same lines — the hobos of yesteryear created a legally constituted union to avoid vagrancy laws.

      4. lordkoos

        I remember doing an all-night drive from Seattle through Oregon down to Jacksonville (near Medford) for a gig several years ago, and the signs of meth use were quite obvious whenever we stopped for gas or a break. So this doesn’t surprise me a whole lot — rural America is in crisis in many places, and it seems to be getting worse every year.

      5. Fiery Hunt

        What you saw is not the results (directly) of the economy writ large but an result of the legalization of canabis.

        The West Coast has it’s own “migration” and those kids you saw are known as “Trim-a-grants”. They travel up and down the Coast following the weed harvest, working for cash and stash. No stability and lots of addictions.

        It used to be centered in Humboldt but Oregon is now a huge part of it.

      6. Knot Galt

        Thank you Krystyn. Very insightful. As another anecdote, the same thing can be seen riding rails. Most commuters ignore the countless gauntlets in front of stations and bury their heads into their phones as the train whizzes by a countless chain of tents and homeless; just outside the other, more real, window.

      7. Kit

        “find a woman attempting to find some privacy to shoot up whatever it was to ease her pain”
        Such admirable humanism!
        Maybe Oregon should hand out millions of free syringes at rest stops to further that humanist impulse, like San Francisco does? Does that further drug use, or, does it limit it?
        Or, perhaps that state should actually provide the drugs?

        Next logical step: “find some poor man breaking into cars to be able to buy drugs to shoot up to ease his pain.”

        Than, “distributing Mexican black tar heroin around the truck stops to help people shoot up to ease their pain— almost a public service.”

        Arrest the woman, force her into detox and train her for a vocational job. Might that not be a better way to handle it? Short of reeinventing the American Fraud based economy?

        1. jeremyharrison

          Don’t forget to give the proper thanks to the cartels for their tireless efforts to help ease Americans’ pain.

        2. richard

          “Might that not be a better way to handle it?”
          Better for who? Any process that starts with an arrest isn’t going to benefit the person being arrested. Ever.
          Not in the u.s. anyway

        3. smoker

          Arrest the woman, force her into detox and train her for a vocational job.

          Jesus, haven’t you been paying attention? Millions with vocations and no drug problems are ending up homeless and criminalized, and women still aren’t being paid near the amount as men for the same jobs. If Presidents and Congress Critters with addictions (tons of them), and Wealthy Born, Once Heroin Addicts like Anthony Bourdain, are not only exempted from such brute force, but LIONIZED for being addicted and [using their wealthy connections in] getting beyond it — why shouldn’t those most brutalized and most likely to want to get high being exempted from such brute force.

          Here’s a fricking idea — HUMANE JOBS that, at a minimum, cover basics such as decent food, energy needs, and PLEASANT roof over the head in non toxic surroundings and the dignity all the elite consider their right but no one else’s right. A Human Safety Net, for those who need it, in a country sovereign in its own currency.

      8. Oregoncharles

        I-5 between Eugene and Portland (rarely OIympia) is very familiar stomping grounds, and I’ve stopped at all the rest stops – but Krystyn’s post makes me see it with fresh eyes. I didn’t realize it looked so bad, though there are always people begging at the rest areas.

        The homelessness problem here is severe, partly because conditions are relatively favorable (though I’m glad Krystyn is heading south). It reflects a continuing Westward migration, high rents, and Fiery Hunt is probably right about “Trim-a-grants”, migratory ag labor.

        “Hobos” in their various modern forms mean the Great Recession never really ended. I’m wondering when that will catch up with us. I suppose Trump’s election and the resulting TDS are among the signs.

  11. allan

    Beijing junior high school, kindergarten, kindergarten spring semester postponed

    China News Network, Beijing, January 26 (Reporter Yu Lixiao) With the consent of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee and the Municipal Government, the city’s universities, primary schools, and kindergartens have decided to postpone the spring semester of 2020, while suspending offline training activities outside the city’s off-campus training institutions. …

    Translated from

  12. The Rev Kev

    “The Troubling Decline of International Law”

    Trashing international law sounds like a great idea when you are the big kid on the block but this is no longer the 90s and ignoring international law has consequences – as those service personnel found out on those two bases in Iraq. Saudi Arabia tried the same with Yemen but that missile/drone attacked on their oil installations hulled them between wind and water and now they are looking for the exits.

    And in a few days Trump will announce that he is going to expand the borders of Greater Israel – at the expense of the Palestinians – but I believe that the Israelis will find that there will be a price to pay for that. Hell, they can’t even attack Lebanon these days as Hezbollah would turn half of Israel into swiss cheese. International law protects everyone which seems to have been forgotten in some quarters.

    Here is Patrick Lawrence talking about the consequences of such rash acts such as when he says ‘No American — and certainly no American official or military personnel — can any longer travel in the Middle East with an assurance of safety.’ Actions always has consequences-

    1. JTMcPhee

      International law, like lesser subdivisions of the law, is about allocation of rights.

      There are no rights absent an ability to enforce them.

    2. Oregoncharles

      “now they are looking for the exits.”
      Where do you get that, Rev? I’ve seen no sign of it. But then, I’ve seen little news from Yemen recently – maybe that’s a good sign.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Michael Hudson came early and left before the bitter end of the meet-up. The meeting place was not conducive to conversation or discussions and it was difficult to move around. There were five or six sports televisions running over the bar and the sound levels made it difficult to understand a person yelling from across the table to you. The high bar-type chairs at the tables made sitting down difficult and painful for some of the people. Our designated area ran out of seats early in the evening. I might be mistaken — but I recall the drinks being a couple of dollars less the previous meeting we had here. On the bright-side the waitress did an excellent job making sure we all had drinks if we wanted them.

      Yves said the owner had promised the upstairs area like where we met before. When we arrived the Manager of the place had set aside an area half the size in the sports bar area.

      One topic of conversion shouted over near where I was sitting — is there some other place where we might meet than NYC bar areas. Still working on that one — One of the guys even offered his house as a meeting place, he said he had a large house … but he lives in New Jersey.

      1. Yves Smith

        I was really pissed about the bait and switch but at that point (due to my having gotten there 10 mins late), there were too many people seated to make throwing a stink an effective strategy.

        Plus the owner also manages some nights, so this could have been calculated.

        Bars work fine in every other city, and we do have a decent bar in NYC we use, the Grey Mare…but the location isn’t great, 2nd Ave in the East Village.

        The problem with anything other than a bar is it means renting a room, committing to a minimum spend, provisioning when you have no idea how many people will show up. It makes it too expensive in time and hard costs to be worth doing.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The Playwright is a really good place to meet when we have the upstairs like last time. The location is extremely convenient [and it’s near my favorite Korean restaurant]. I suspect there was no bait and switch — only a bad handoff of information between the owner and the manager. I am just reporting how was and intend neither criticism nor allocation of fault. I remain grateful for and appreciate all the effort and planning that goes into arranging a meet-up and I have enjoyed all the meet-ups I’ve attended — quite a few at this point.

          I haven’t attended any meet-ups in other cities. I don’t know their bars or the arrangements they make. I have lived in many cities in the U.S. and as a younger person I used to frequent bars [among other locations: dance clubs, work, church, local Democratic party, night school, junior college classes] looking for a partner. The one thing I remember about all the bars I tried was the sound level. If the crowd was weak most places just turned up the ambient sound. I started carrying and continue, to this day, carrying a pair of ear plugs in my pocket.

          After musing over many libations I recalled the idea of a “third place”. I am not sure bars or coffee shops quite manage to fill that role. The high rents and costs of doing business in NYC constrain what bars can afford to offer for meeting-ups — although what they have offered, even at our most recent meet-up, has been quite adequate.

  13. Pat

    Glad to know people watching have gotten that the MTA is largely a PR event for our governor. One for which he has to have no expertise, education or knowledge about but both interferes with and undermines on a regular basis. Too bad so many of the riders are still blaming deBlasio. Don’t get me wrong, Andrew Cuomo is just the largest carrion beast tearing the system apart, there are many others. Still for every step in the right direction, Andy is there to push it back a couple of steps.

    Byford is a huge loss. Huge.

    1. Dirk77

      I’m a long way from NYC, but anyone there think Cuomo is on the way out? I would have thought after the Amazon HQ2 giveaway that he would be recalled. Perhaps the RailwayAge article will be picked up by a larger paper and help that along.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Like most of the older states (admitted pre-Civil War), New York State does not have recall in its constitution.

  14. funemployed

    I don’t know why people still think the Red Cross does anything with the money they raise other than pay the salaries of Red Cross employees. I even heard a hospital admin say they charge more for blood than the for-profit bloodbanks RC single handedly put out of business a few decades ago.

    I mean, some version of the “Hey, where’d all that Red Cross money go?” story comes out after literally every major disaster (and lots of smaller ones too, at least back when we had local newspapers).

    I guess people don’t like admitting they’ve been had. Honestly, after 15 years of telling people that RC is a ginormous con, I sometimes don’t bother anymore because I don’t like facing that crestfallen hopeless look everyone gets.

    1. Watt4Bob

      My Dad hated the RC.

      He told me that the tobacco companies donated cigarettes to the RC to give to soldiers, and the RC charged the soldiers for them.

      Not much has changed.

    2. Monty

      I saw a documentary about the ‘pink ribbon’ charity that alleged it to be quite awful too. It’s sad, but I view all large charities with suspicion. How much of it ever gets to help the cause vs. pay for salaries and shindigs?

      Do you ever give to those requests at the supermarket check out? I would be surprised if they were legit.

      1. Oh

        I was told that no even 10% of the money contributed to the Pink Ribbon (War on Breast Cancer?) effort goes to the cause. 90% is siphoned off by the celebraties taking part in the hoopla.

    3. cgregory

      The Red Cross got infiltrated by the ex-C suiters of a major bankrupted airline. They of course applied their best Harvard MBA tactics to it, with the results you noted.

        1. JBird4049

          The Red Cross use to be a functioning charity, albeit with some shadiness, but now it seems to be a complete grift; the transformation probably happened at the same time it happened to much of the NGOs during the last forty years under neoliberalism and quantitative easing/printing money since 2008. All the ex-C suiters, the many MBAs, and all that free flowing money seem to have taken over the whole nonprofit industry.

  15. Brian (another one the call)

    The antidote is the stuff that dreams are made of
    A Maltese Falcon or a Chocolate Malted Falcon?
    thanks Rocky

  16. rowlf

    The birdstrike article was interesting but I must have been living under a rock to have never heard the term “snarge” while working at many airports and two airline control centers since PATCO stopped having picnics. While I have done or directed lots of inspections and repairs on aircraft that have hit birds and deer, the inspection that has eluded me has been the fish strikes that happen to aircraft.

    Most hits are minor and wash off, but some have punched holes in structure, cleaned hydraulic lines and conduits off landing gear and some engine ingestions have stunk up the cabins really bad. One airline I worked at had a practice of sending remains to a lab for identification.

    1. Eclair

      Thanks for the insider view, rowlf. Ever since Sullenberger landed in the Hudson, bird strikes have been one other thing to worry about on takeoff. Didn’t know about the deer …..

    1. Cpm

      How are things there? Is new government in the saddle yet??
      Will things change much? And what affects on expats or would be exptats?

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Things are relaxed here. The new government comes in on March 1st. They seem to want to encourage more foreigners to come and buy property in Uruguay. I don’t know yet how things may change here, but it seems like a pretty safe place in terms of the new Wuhan virus.

  17. Hepativore

    Can somebody fill me in on the details of this “voting app” I heard about for cellular devices and tablets? Apparently, that is how they want the majority of the populace to vote in places like Iowa, etc. and that it has been “offically” approved by the DNC. Their reasoning for the app is to prevent Russian interference and for heightened voted security. The app itself has not been audited by any sort of neutral party and all concerns raised about its supposed security are being ignored or swept aside by the DNC.

    How widely-used is this app going to be, and can people opt out for more conventional means of voting? I am sure that the DNC would NEVER even think about the app secretly-changing somebody’s selection choice to a DNC-approved candidate behind their backs despite the app visibly confiming your intended selection choice

    1. flora

      adding from The HIll:

      Smart phones…. good dog…. no chance for mischief there…

      And from NPR. Internet connected smartphone app… no chance for a man-in-the-middle attack… nope…

      “Iowa Democrats will prioritize security, Price told NPR, but he declined to provide details on which companies designed the app or to detail security measures in place.

      The state party worked with the cybersecurity team of the national party and with Harvard University’s Defending Digital Democracy project, according to NPR.”

    2. anonymous

      The caucus goers will vote by filling out written preferential preference cards that will be retained and can be used for a recount. The app to which you are referring will be a tool for caucus chairs to use to report the results to the state party and to help calculate viability and delegate allocation. The chairs may also phone in results. The Bernie campaign, and I would imagine other campaigns as well, has a similar app for precinct captains to use to report results to the campaign, or the math can be done by hand and reported by phone, if there are problems with the app. There will be multiple people doing the same counting and calculating from each precinct and reporting to either the Iowa Democratic Party or to campaigns that can compare their volunteers’ submissions with the official results.

  18. DJG

    The article in the Atlantic on Italy’s Answer to Populism suffers from the usual Anglo-American echo chamber and its tired categories. Reporter Serhan makes a basic mistake in referring to Emilia-Romagna as “liberal.” No, Emilia-Romagna is red, right down to Bologna’s nickname of Bologna la Rossa (when it isn’t being Dotta or Grassa). Red, y’know, commies.

    Further, populism is poorly defined in Italy, especially since the “populist” Five Stars would be placed well to the left of Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. spectrum.

    So finally Serhan gets to the point, or let’s the proper assessment to get on the page:

    In mobilizing thousands against Salvini, the Sardines “have basically turned [populism] on its head and said, ‘No, actually we are the ordinary people,’” Fieschi told me. “They did the quintessential Italian thing—they went down in la piazza … They did exactly what ordinary people do.”

    The original manifesto of the Sardines starts off saying: We have had enough of this, your party’s over, and now we, the people, the regular Italians, are coming out of our houses and apartments to clean things up.

    “Cari populisti, lo avete capito. La festa è finita. Per troppo tempo avete tirato la corda dei nostri sentimenti. L’avete tesa troppo, e si è spezzata. Per anni avete rovesciato bugie e odio su noi e i nostri concittadini: avete unito verità e menzogne, rappresentando il loro mondo nel modo che piu’ vi faceva comodo. Avete approfittato della nostra buona fede, delle nostre paure e difficolta’ per rapire la nostra attenzione. Avete scelto di affogare i vostri contenuti politici sotto un oceano di comunicazione vuota. Di quei contenuti non e’ rimasto piu’ nulla”, si legge nel manifesto delle ‘sardine’.

    Although the manifesto evokes the populists, the response is thoroughly Italian and evokes Italian traditional (populist) agitation.

    Two truly revolutionary things that the Sardines want are:
    –No public official would be allowed to tweet / use social media privately. All communications would have to be on official accounts. (A recognition that Trump = Salvini = same tactics, and would that U.S. citizens start to make the same demand.)
    –Repeal of the Salvini security law, which is basically Italy’s Patriot Act.

    Let’s see what happens. At least the Atlantic recognizes that something is happening in Italy. Usually, in the U S of A, the most comprehensive coverage of Italian events is of Milan Fashion Week.

  19. smoker

    I still await a full-scale expose on Accenture [1] every time it’s in the news it’s ugly. By Casey Newton, January 24, YouTube moderators are being forced to sign a statement acknowledging the job can give them PTSD Accenture comes clean with its workforce — as part of an apparent legal defense:

    Content moderators for YouTube are being ordered to sign a document acknowledging that performing the job can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to interviews with employees and documents obtained by The Verge. Accenture, which operates a moderation site for YouTube in Austin, Texas, distributed the document to workers on December 20th — four days after The Verge published an investigation into PTSD among workers at the facility.

    Further down:

    Accenture says signing the document is voluntary. But two current employees told The Verge that they were threatened with being fired if they refused to sign. The document itself also says that following its instructions is required: “Strict adherence to all the requirements in this document is mandatory,” it reads. “Failure to meet the requirements would amount to serious misconduct and for Accenture employees may warrant disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

    Employment law experts contacted by The Verge said Accenture’s requirement that employees tell their supervisor about negative changes to their mental health could be viewed as an illegal requirement to disclose a disability or medical condition to an employer.

    “I would think it’s illegal to force an employee to disclose any sort of disability to you,” Haeggquist said.

    Accenture said employees are not being asked to disclose disabilities or medical conditions, and it framed the document as a general disclosure that it has been providing new employees for years. But it would not say why the PTSD disclosure was distributed mere days after The Verge’s investigation.

    [1] Prior to January 1, 2001, Accenture was named Andersen Consulting, it had previously been a separate, and far more lucrative unit than the Andersen Audit unit, of Andersen Worldwide. In late 2000, it became a separate entity from Andersen Worldwide. Before that, Andersen Consulting helped CFO Fastow set up those infamous Enron partnerships, then slithered off Scot Free to become still stunningly lucrative Accenture, 10 months before the shit hit the fan in the news .

    1. smoker

      shoot, I accidently didn’t paste all of my footnote reference. The complete reference:

      [1] Prior to January 1, 2001, Accenture was named Andersen Consulting, it had previously been a separate, and far more lucrative unit than the Andersen Audit unit, of Andersen Worldwide. In late 2000, it became a separate entity from Andersen Worldwide. Before that, Andersen Consulting helped CFO Fastow set up those infamous Enron partnerships, then slithered off Scot Free to become still stunningly lucrative Accenture, 10 months before the shit hit the fan in the news .

      You are Andrew Fastow, Enron’s CFO, and you have this problem. You have set up more than 3,000 partnerships to hide Enron’s losses of more than $500,000,000.

      Further down, emphasis mine, it’s the only place in the piece where the Andersen Consulting unit is even mentioned.

      Andersen’s consulting division helped Enron set up the partnerships

    2. Daryl

      Ah, Accidenture. It would be hard to find out exactly where to start writing the exposé, since I don’t believe they engage in any actual business. It’s a giant sink for money.

      1. smoker

        They’re in the business of For Profit using, degrading, and destroying humans, as Capital (basically slavery), since humans need money – no matter how they have to Earn™ that money. There is no righteous Judicial/Legal system in the US or elsewhere, to protect from this. Billions cannot afford the monetary, time, and psychological cost of even the simplest of protective legal services [1] – and even then are not at all guaranteed to be made financially whole™ again – in order to survive in this hellhole.

        [1] Pro Bono Legal Services™ for the impoverished and vulnerable are way too many times a vast and horrifying scam perpetrated by faux Non Profits, in partnership with the some of the most affluent Law Firms via their naive and otherwise junior staff Non Barred Law Intern’s unpaid time for Brownie Points, and the Demoratic Party. At least the Republican Party is honest about its contempt of the masses.

  20. Lunker Walleye

    Iowa Caucus Sites Changing

    Heads up for Caucus goers.
    A young man stopped by awhile ago to tell me that my caucus site is being moved. He had Bernie paraphernalia and I checked with Caucus website later and it seems correct. Worried about being mislead.

    1. ambrit

      I would not put that past the DNC.
      I would definitely be suspicious of being given a new caucus site location by a canvasser sporting Hillary 2020 buttons.

      1. Monty

        I wonder how the Wu flu will alter the turn out. I am not sure I would fancy going to a germ factory environment like a caucus, if things keep going downhill.

        1. Expat2uruguay

          I wonder how the new virus could affect Bernie’s operation. All it takes is for a couple contagious people to go to a Bernie rally and knock back the ground troops of the movement. I could even see it being done intentionally.
          I think only three states have caucuses, then two of them are early caucuses, Iowa and Nevada. So most of it’ll be primary voting. But I wonder how many voters would continue to stay in line if somebody started coughing and sneezing…

      1. Lunker Walleye

        It looks legit. Looked on the Iowa Caucus official website and the new location for our precinct is up and agrees with what the young door-knocker told me. I also left a message for the local Bernie people to call and confirm the change. There is at least one more change of site here in this community.

  21. Kit

    Kunstler book review of City On A Hill
    What a great description of historical urban change, until book reviewer Kunstler’s personal personal politics intrude with this head scratcher:
    “American cities were steadily getting worse, too, losing their middle classes and tax base, physically decrepitating, and were perceived to be rife with crime.”
    Perceived? Dead bodies, muggings and assaults are Perception?

    Edward Michael Jones’ The Slaughter of The Cities more realistically describes the political, cultural and economic motivations which Kunstler never touches–The forced insertion of housing projects into the midst of Catholic parish ethnic enclaves all over America, thus corroding them with crime. These neighborhoods had the kind of vibrant social, street and cultural life which Kunstler bemoans the loss of, thus driving people out to the suburbs to be atomized secular shoppers for cars. Jones also mentions economic actors like the Ford Foundation, promoting school integration, furthering the enrichment of the Ford Motor Company as the remaining parents in cities then had to buy cars in the suburbs to which they fled.

    1. Coldhearted Liberal

      Kunstler was good with the Geography of Nowhere but long ago went off the deep end of post-resource scarcity dogma. He’s been parroting the “everyone has to live in small towns” thing for years, completely ignoring the fact that very large cities have existed and functioned fine for thousands of years.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Does this book discuss how “urban renewal” and Interstate Highway siting and building were used to tear down and destroy big black neighborhood-zones all over the big cities? I wonder if those urban renewal exiles ( ” urban renewalstinians?”) were created in part to drive them into the public projects sited in the Catholethnic zones?

  22. Wukchumni

    Unfortunate cookie saying:

    Accept something that you cannot change, and you will feel better. In the meantime except when eating your meal, wear a face mask!

    Unlucky numbers: R0 3.0% & 1,427,647,786

  23. Wukchumni

    We’re edging ever closer to an American version of this late stage Soviet collapse gig, just replace the Warsaw Pact with the the Middle East in the swan song. You get the feeling a momentous event is about to unfold along the lines of the Berlin Wall falling-which was simply unthinkable 6 months prior.

    “Sinatra Doctrine” was the name that the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev used jokingly to describe its policy of allowing neighboring Warsaw Pact states to determine their own internal affairs. The name alluded to the song “My Way” popularized by Frank Sinatra—the Soviet Union was allowing these states to go their own way.

    1. Olga

      A tempting comparison, but all wrong, nevertheless.
      At least, in WP countries all had jobs and secured housing.
      I know you may be referring to the suddenness of it… but it seems to me, the US decline will be more like UK’s – from the Mutiny (1857) to the Suez Canal attack (1956), IOWs – we’re in for a long slog…

      1. Wukchumni

        Sorry, but you’re not catching the Bizarro World drift of things, the 2 systems are mirror images of one another, with different outcomes, such as while there was some violence in Romania & Russia in the aftermath of the bloc party, the rest of the other countries bid adieu to Communism peacefully.

        I’d expect just the opposite to happen in the USA, with only a few pocket of peace.

  24. petal

    If anyone is interested, a couple of ladies were walking around my apartment complex canvassing for Sanders today. Just saw a new article saying he is ahead in 2 polls, and Biden and Mayo Pete are in second and third place in NH. It says Warren is in 4th place in both polls.

  25. lina

    So every year there is a flu virus that goes around here in the US. They have vaccines, but it’s not always effective for the strains that come out that year, etc. Last year was particularly bad here in the Northeast.

    My question (and forgive me if this is naive): what is the difference between this (annual flu virus, spreading people to people, etc) and this China virus? If it’s that a vaccine hasn’t been developed for it, well, the same thing happens with the flu as I understand it (since the vaccine is determined the year before…)

    Can someone enlighten me?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the flu is a relatively known entity. it mutates every year in china(which, historically at least, was due to peasants living cheek by jowl with their livestock. pigs are great incubators)…and WHO, CDC, et alia have “detectives’ over there, taking samples right now to try to determine what mutations will be over here next october, so they can attempt to make a vaccine for then.
      I’d hafta hunt for it, and i’m broken and prone at the moment, but sci/am and a few others have done great explanatory stories about this detective work over the years. it’s a neat story, and testament to human ingenuity and perseverance and even altruism.

      this corona virus is apparently a new thing…maybe a bat coronavirus that jumped to humans…no real idea, yet, per the CDC this morning.
      and remember, the “common cold” is a coronavirus…they mutate readily, which is why there’s no common cold vaccine.
      we’re not the dominant life form on earth.

    2. Expat2uruguay

      The Wuhan virus causes pneumonia, which has a much higher death toll. It is more similar to SARS and MERS than it is to the common cold

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        A virus needs a catchy name to capture attention. Maybe we could call this one WuSARS.

    3. Jeff W

      According to this JAMA article:

      During SARS, researchers moved from obtaining the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV to a phase 1 clinical trial of a DNA vaccine in 20 months and have since compressed that timeline to 3.25 months for other viral diseases. For 2019-nCoV [the novel coronavirus from Wuhan], they hope to move even faster, using messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology. Other researchers are similarly poised to construct viral vectors and subunit vaccines.

      [emphasis added]

      So there could be a Phase 1 clinical trial which assesses the safety of a given drug or vaccine in roughly three months.

      There is also the possibility that antivirals such as remdesivir may work against 2019-nCoV since studies suggest that they work against multiple coronaviruses but that hypothesis needs to be tested.

      The good news, if it can be called that, is that the global response to this virus has improved since the SARS outbreak of 2002-03. For example, public health officials reported the virus to the World Health Organization on 31 December and only two weeks later scientists had isolated and published the virus’s genetic sequence. Getting a full genetic sequence took six months with the SARS virus. Some bad news, though, is that it appears that the Wuhan virus, unlike the SARS virus, is infectious during its incubation period.

      1. Yves Smith

        A Phase 1 clinical trial is a long way from having a vaccine approved. From

        In a phase I clinical trial, you could be one of the first people to get the new drug or treatment. Phase I clinical trials each last several months to a year. They usually have 10 to 30 volunteers.

        Phase 2 trials usually take 2 years, Phase 3 trials can take longer:

        Phase III clinical trials can take many years. They may have several thousand volunteers. These must include men, women, and people of different ages and ethnic groups, if possible. This helps doctors learn how the treatment works in different people.

        1. Jeff W

          Thank you for adding that.

          Of course, it’s great that the time from genetic sequence to a Phase 1 trial might be compressed to, apparently, the fastest time ever, but still it’s a long time to people actually getting the vaccine as a regular medical treatment, if ever.

  26. nothing but the truth

    There seems to be some serious misinformation going on about India and its citizenship law. Something doesn’t smell right here as no news outlet is putting out the correct explanation of the law, and the ones misinforming are law professors.

    The law does not discriminate against muslims in general. It just does not allow muslims from three south asian (with state religion as Islam) to claim accelerated religious asylum in India. They can still claim it, but their case shall be decided according to the date of their case arrival.

    The reason for that is obvious. 1. Their state religion is Islam 2. There is widespread religious violence against minorities in these countries, by the Islamists.

    1. Ram

      Bit of back story, Assam accord of 1985 was signed to end violence in ethnic violence in assam. Deal was anybody who entered india after 1971 (East pakistan war) would not be given indian citizenship and deported. Goal was to reverse the demographic change caused by mass migration of 1971 war. Indian govt dragged its foot for long time in creating a NRC (National registry of Citizenship) in Assam for various reason. BJP in Assam came to power and promptly implemented . BJP’s hope was it would be primarly muslims who would get deported but it turned out huge number of hindus couldn’t meet the NRC criteria (show documents you were in india before 1971). BJP quickly backtracked and rejected NRC in Assam.

      Enter citizenship law which creates a backdoor for non muslims to claim citizenship in the absence of documents. Amit shah (Home minister) has claimed multiple time nationwide NRC would be implemented on citizenship law (CAA) comes into force. NRC+CAA would effectively make muslims non citizens if they can’t produce document they or their parents were in India before 1971. (a) Most poor people don’t have documents (b) its very difficult to get even simple documents from Indian bureaucracy

  27. anon in so cal

    RIP, Number 24

    As everyone has probably already heard much earlier, Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant, was killed this morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. So incredibly sad.

  28. allan

    Decision to close National Archives at Seattle a blow to tribes, historians in 4 states [Seattle Times]

    … “I’m deeply disappointed that OMB failed to heed bipartisan Congressional requests & approved selling #Seattle’s archives facility w/out engaging state & local officials & affected communities as required by law,” tweeted Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Democrat whose 7th Congressional District includes the Sand Point archives property. “We must get answers about why the law wasn’t followed in this case.” …

    The archives are a repository for all federal records generated in the Pacific Northwest. The expansive collection includes military, land, court, tax and census records. It contains important treaty documents relating to the 272 federally recognized tribes in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. …

    Another blow to the ultimate back-row kids.

    1. polecat

      Why couldn’t AmazonJeffery gift a part of his billions of ill-gotten lucre, matched of course, by others that carry the wastingmoney disease .. those who suffer from chonic affluenza, and the hubris it imparts … ??
      .. thereby giving the Archive a much needed jumpstart ?
      At least Carnegie had the good sense to give back something tangible to society.

  29. Expat2uruguay

    Here is today’s update from the flu trackers website for 2400 hours on January 26th.

    “As of 24:00 on January 26, the National Health and Health Commission had received a total of 2,744 confirmed cases in 30 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), 461 cases of severe cases, 80 cases of deaths, and 51 cases of hospitalization. There are 5794 suspected cases.
      At present, 32,799 close contacts have been traced, 583 people were released from medical observation on the same day, and 30,453 people are currently receiving medical observation.
      A total of confirmed cases were reported from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan: 8 cases from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 5 cases from Macao Special Administrative Region, and 4 cases from Taiwan.
      In addition, accumulative confirmed cases were reported from abroad: 7 in Thailand, 3 in Japan, 3 in South Korea, 3 in the United States, 2 in Vietnam, 4 in Singapore, 3 in Malaysia, 1 in Nepal, 3 in France, and 4 in Australia.”
    I’m not sure where the 2400 hours is (GMT?), but I know that there are five confirmed cases in the US, 2 in California one and Arizona one in Chicago and one in Washington State. I can’t imagine the WHO not declaring this an emergency on an international level tomorrow…

  30. inode_buddha

    Sanders is Live now in Sioux City with AOC speaking, on my fb feed. Maybe he caught a red-eye flight. As always heavy trolling in the FB thread. Learn how to skim them.

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