Links 1/8/2020

Woman rescued after being stuck inside clothing donation bin for 3 days Good Morning America

The Year and the Decade in Weather and Climate: A Meta-Lookback Weather Underground

Ross Garnaut’s climate change prediction is coming true and it’s going to cost Australia billions, experts warn ABC Australia

Australia’s leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires Reuters

Australia fires: How do we know how many animals have died? BBC

Central banks running low on ways to fight recession, warns Mark Carney FT

The Fed might be in denial about the next recession The Week

Bible Lobbyist: We Can’t Print Bibles in America Anymore Matt Stoller, BIG

Rediscovering the Neighborhood of Saturdays Belt Magazine


Again, Iraq and Iran dominate the news flow.

The political class:






“Powerful.” No speech tonight.

* * *

More detail:

Pompeo orders diplomats not to meet with Iranian opposition groups amid tensions CNN. Sensible.

Tanker Operators Don’t Expect Ships to Be Targeted in U.S.-Iran Showdown WSJ

Israel had advance notice of U.S. plan to kill Iranian general Suleimani, report says Los Angeles Times

Contractor whose death Trump cited was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iraq WaPo. A translator.

* * *


Iran’s Retaliation Offers Room for Trump to Calm Tensions Bloomberg. KW: “My own guess for these attacks is that Iran is giving the leadership of Iraq (and the Kurds) a message that if they do not go ahead and get rid of foreign forces, then Iraq will become the battlefield for a proxy war between the US and Iran.”

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Thread:

Trump moves to unite the Middle East! (irony) Sic Semper Tyrannnis (Carey). Colonel Lang focuses on logistics, as a professional should do.

Should banks expect cyberattacks from Iran? American Banker

* * *

Other analysis and prediction:

What Explains Trump Pulling the Trigger on Suleimani? It’s the Economics, Stupid. Foreign Policy

The real target of the US assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani – China South China Morning Post

US troops out of Iraq? What that would mean for both countries. Christian Science Monitor

The World Paid Attention to the Wrong Iraqi Protests The Atlantic

The War Nerd: Iran’s Qassam Soleimani Was a Great General, One of the Very Few Our Era Will See Gary Brecher, Anti-Empire

Marg bar ___ Language Log. Generally translated as “Death to _____.”

* * *

A series of unfortunate events:

Plane crash near Tehran killed Iranians, Canadians, others AP. The crash of Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 (a Boeing 737-800). Read all the way to the end.

Magnitude 4.9 earthquake strikes 30 miles from Iran’s sole nuclear power plant just two weeks after a similar quake in the region Daily Mail (data). Note the non-inflammatory headline. This is actually a roundup of the earthquake and the #PS752 crash.

* * *

Our famously free press:

Pundits Praising Suleimani Killing Fail to Disclose Arms Ties The Intercept. Busy, busy, busy:

People Are Spreading False And Unverified Information About Iran’s Missile Attack On US Bases In Iraq. Don’t Be Fooled. Buzzfeed. Continuously updated.

Kuwait to become 51st State Duffel Blog


Mike Pompeo stresses Hong Kong autonomy, urges global censure of China over ‘brutal treatment of Uygurs’ South China Morning Post. The small faction of US flag-waving Hong Kong protesters will, I think, regret seeking any US involvement. Not only do those of good faith among them have far too rosy a view of the United States as the sort of liberal democracy so many of the protesters seek, the US is not agreement-capable.

Decoupling is the real result of the US-China trade truce FT

Cause of Wuhan’s Mysterious Pneumonia Cases Still Unknown, Chinese Officials Say Scientific American. No human-to-human transmission.

China Says Rush to Boost Pork Supplies Raises Risk of Outbreaks Bloomberg

La france profonde?

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch


What suit-wearing drone thought that “seamlessly navigate the airport” was anything other than scarily zombified language?

CES Gadget Show: Surveillance is in – and in a big way AP

Portland officials highlight potential uses of face-scanning technology Portland Press-Herald

Hasbro Launches Line Of Trap-Building Kits To Encourage Girls To Get Into Post-Apocalyptic Survivalism The Onion

Our Famously Free Press

CNN confirms a settlement has been reached with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann CNN. Just so we’re clear on the reliability of digital evidence fueling moral panics in near-real time.

Disinformation For Hire: How A New Breed Of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online Buzzfeed

Guillotine Watch

“Streets of Gold” map wins two British Cartographic Society Awards Europa. “Streets of Gold is a 1.13m square map of greater London created on a base of 24 carat gold leaf.”

Class Warfare

‘The People With the Least Resources Are Now Shouldering the Greatest Burden’ FAIR. Specifically, on student debt. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

Making Stakeholder Capitalism a Reality Laura Tyson, Lenny Mendonca Project Syndicate (DL).

The End of Economic Growth? Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population (PDF) Charles I. Jones, Empty Planet

SpaceX sends 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit BBC. Waiting for the first “sponsored constellation.” You know it’s coming.

Vast ‘star nursery’ region found in our galaxy BBC (DL).

Binary star V Sagittae to explode as very bright nova by century’s end (CL).

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Bill Smith

    “People Are Spreading False And Unverified Information About Iran’s Missile Attack On US Bases In Iraq. Don’t Be Fooled.”

    Gotta laugh about Buzzfeed’s article labeling things “Unverified”

    1. fdr-fan

      Not surprising. Controlled burns make all the difference. Where environmentalists have stopped controlled burns, natural or arson burns run wild. Here in Washington, even Enviroloon Insley learned the lesson from a couple years of extreme fires, and started allowing more controlled burns with excellent results.

      1. lordkoos

        Your bias is showing. At least Inslee is willing to learn, which is more than you can say for most politicians. He’s hardly an “environloon” simply for being truthful about climate change.

      2. Glen

        Indeed, modernizing American infrastructure, and American manufacturing to lead the world in making products required for this century so we can make America Great again is very looney.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Hazard reduction burns are only a partial solution. NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was saying that they work if just done that year but he saw fires that flared through bush that had only been done the year before. It all comes down to if the weather will let you do it or not. When the fire season is only a few months long you have a chance but this fire season has been going on since April-

  2. Bill Smith

    “Iran’s Retaliation Offers Room for Trump to Calm Tensions”

    “What’s more, Iran gave prior notice of the strikes, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office said in a statement.”

    Sounds good, except the PM actual tweets say that at the exact same time the Iranian’s called, the US called to say Iranian missiles were hitting targets in Iraq.

    “and that the strike will be limited to the whereabouts of the American army in Iraq without specifying its location. And at the exact same time, the American side called us and the rockets were falling on the wing of the American forces at Ein al-Assad bases in Anbar and Harir in Arbil and in other locations” /IraqiPMO /status /1214851137750343680

  3. Jeff W

    Delta “One look and you’re in.”
    “Hello, Mr Yakamoto, welcome back to the Gap. How’d those assorted tank tops work out for you?”
    Minority Report (2002)

    1. Tom Doak

      Delta has been doing this for a year on international flights. I commented on it after being surprised by it on boarding in Atlanta. There was no offer to opt out.

      The second time I saw one I tried to duck so it wouldn’t recognize me, but it dinged me right through. I suppose pretty much everyone who owns a recent passport is now identifiable in this way.

      1. Robert Gray

        > There was no offer to opt out.

        ‘This is our system, sir. If you don’t want to get with the programme, you of course have the option of not flying with us.’

        1. norm de plume

          There is surely scope for one or two of the competition to carve out a niche in the market with an aggressive ‘no facial recognition’ stance.

      2. Yves Smith

        You can opt out. The onus is on you to opt out.

        Much less of a pain than opting out of the spread-your-legs TSA scanners. They hassle you a bit but let you through. Absolutely no legal basis for it, while with TSA, you have to submit to a pat down.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    The End of Economic Growth? Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population (PDF) Charles I. Jones, Empty Planet

    The abstract:

    In many models, economic growth is driven by people discovering new ideas.
    These models typically assume either a constant or a growing population. However,
    in high income countries today, fertility is already below its replacement rate:
    women are having fewer than two children on average. It is a distinct possibility—
    highlighted in the recent book, Empty Planet—that global population will decline
    rather than stabilize in the long run. What happens to economic growth when
    population growth turns negative?

    From my quick flick through, it seems to assume that there is a straightforward linear relationship between population growth and productivity gains – i.e. that more young people come up with more interesting ideas to help growth. But this ignores the evidence that its not absolute population numbers that produces ‘real’ productivity growth (as opposed to that generated from, for example, cheap oil), but human concentration. Quite simply, the bigger a city is, and the better the internal connections within the urban area, the more things are invented and the more improvements are made to existing processes. This is why huge conurbations like those around Tokyo or Seoul or New York, etc., continue to grow and prosper despite rising costs.

    So the solution to the supposed problem of economic stagnation due to a lowered population would seem to be to concentrate as much of your people as possible in high quality, large urban areas. Of course, an implication of that may be the deliberate winding down or even abandonment of some towns and cities. That may not necessarily be a bad idea, especially if they are in lowlying coastal areas.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      If you have a small population, concentrating that population requires transportation of the food and other resources to support that population. It also requires the capacity of rural populations to produce enough food to support the non-food producing population in the concentrated area. Right now the transportation and food production capabilities rely heavily on petroleum.

      “…the bigger a city is, and the better the internal connections within the urban area, the more things are invented and the more improvements are made to existing processes.”

      As we burn up petroleum we might focus on ways that provide for “better internal connections”. The link’s models “assume that there is a straightforward linear relationship between population growth and productivity gains”. How do the models that add a variable for “better internal connections” obtain their measures for this variable? It may work to rationalize why scattered populations produce fewer productivity gains than concentrations of the same population, and to rationalize why one great city generates more productivity gains than another similarly sized and concentrated great city … but what are “better internal connections”? Are there ways to achieve “better internal connections” without large populations? How does their impact on productivity gains scale? How large would “high quality, large urban areas” need to be? Would you make a distinction between artistic, cultural, intellectual productivity gains and productivity gains in terms of products — material goods?

    2. cgregory

      “Economic growth” as historically defined is nothing more than extraction and manipulation of natural resources at a faster and faster rate. We really need to stop thinking of it as an improvement. We have to redefine “growth” in terms of maximizing human, rather than material, potential.

    3. jef

      When ever “economic growth” is referenced it means an increase in overall consumption. There is no possible way to play with the knobs until we achieve this.

      The problem that needs to be solved is not how to maintain an increase in overall consumption, which is obviously physically impossible on a finite planet, it is how to design an economy that is not based on consumption.

      It is my opinion that the financialization of everything (foe) – (interesting acronym that) is/was an attempt to do just that albeit a very short sighted and self-serving one that has failed for 99% of the population.

      Sorry if I am stating the obvious.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If, presently, you cut your own hair, and I cut my own, but tomorrow, you cut mine and I cut yours, and we charge each other for doing that, that’s ‘economic growth’ too.

    4. Daryl

      You make what you measure.

      If we treat “economic growth” whatever that is as the end goal, and assume that population growth is required to continue it, it constrains the solution space.

      If we look at the things the paper suggests are the actual benefits of economic growth — more researchers, more ideas, higher standard of living — there are other ways to get there. For example freeing up people’s time so that they no longer have to do busywork for corporations in order to make ends meet.

      The math in the paper also ignores the slow-rolling global cataclysm that population growth has caused and is continuing to contribute to.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More dense living – that’s like making the cage smaller, or squeezing more lab (or test) subjects in the same.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That would just be for local consumption. The government is probably saying that to give the local hot heads something to celebrate while they work on their real revenge. Whatever they are planning, it will be a long time in the execution and this attack is just a stop-gap meant to pass on a few messages to Trump, the US, Iraq, the Kurds and their own people.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Rising oil prices rescue a flailing american shale oil industry, and provide the “inflation” the fed is desperate to create. You could almost say that killing Suleimani was a benefit to the american economy.

          1. Carey

            I’ve been wondering if this was one of the reasons for Suleimani’s ultra-high profile killing. One of.

            Time to re-read George Saunders’s short story collection ‘CivilWarLand in Bad Decline’, I think.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Yep, we’re in a funny space, the difference between “what’s good for America” and “what’s good for the majority of people in America”. Trump likely believes that renewed war-iness means more orders for Raytheon, Lockheed, and also Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, and Mariott. American shale badly needs the bailout of higher prices. The American economy IS war, unrestrained mega-monopolies, and FIRE sector grifting, Fed has grown their balance sheet by >10% in just 8 weeks so we can have guns and butter, until we, um, can’t. But of course the “benefits” (higher stock prices) go top down and hardly reach anyone beyond the chosen 9% (the 1% are in a league all their own).

        2. Procopius

          Errr… Since September 2019, the U.S. has been a net oil exporter. We’re still dependent on imports of certain grades of oil, but rising oil prices are now good for the U.S. I was surprised to read that, but it makes sense if it’s true.

      1. Hank Linderman

        I wondered if the missiles were targeted to specifically avoid killing people, CNN is now saying that may have been the case. A warning shot in other words.

        1. ambrit

          An interesting idea is that the places targeted by Iran could be the bases that house the local drone pilots. A drone missile killed the General. The Iranians are telling the Americans that they know what’s up and can do something about it?

          1. Procopius

            Can’t remember where I read it, but as I understand it, Al Asad Air Base was where the drone that killed Suleimani was launched. Erbil (or Irbil) is an important logistics center that the American forces depend on for supplies. I have also read that the missiles used were old Scud rip-offs, so I wonder how accurate they are. Maybe they’re clearing out space to increase the inventory of newer and better missiles.

            1. The Rev Kev

              According to the Saker, they were pretty damn accurate. Check out the strike photos. Those missiles were like a message that we can hit you and you cannot stop us. They were of a much older generation but the fact that they were using pretty good technology to hit those targets is a big worry. What can the newer missiles do?
              In any case, this early in the game, why would Iran use their best missiles when using up some older stock would serve the same purpose. Those missiles could have hit all sorts of targets. Perhaps fuel depots and the like. Unfortunately, you have comments from people like this guy who is supposed to know better-


    2. mpalomar

      Iran, Iraq and the US are having a cotillion but who’s the choreographer? Trump, Pelosi, Pompeo, the Sauds, Bibi, the security state, the clerics in Tehran, the media, Bolton and the neocons are all assuming poses, soon the music will begin but will we be any wiser?

      From this orchestrated dissonance unfounded possibilities take shape; perhaps the clerics in Tehran along with other sides participating in this multifaceted dance found a way to rid themselves of an annoying but popular general, Suleimani; a chit in some byzantine power game? Perhaps not.

      Can anything be understood except that as the entire world careens towards a date with fossil fueled environmental disaster, elite policy makers are once again doubling down on the catastrophic failed paradigm that got us here; final default solution to intractable problems: resort to carbon intensive, bloody, militarized outcomes to settle resource exploitation disputes. Makes no sense.

      Two things seem indisputable; the energy cartels control the US and the world (see the post on 2019 and climate change); the beleaguered better angels of our nature, should they exist, are MIA, locked away in dungeons, ignored or disappeared. And 2. because of the clarity snafu, coherent correction to our existential dilemma, requiring evidence based reasoning is impossible.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        “clarity snafu”
        nicely captures how trivial humanity is in the grand scheme of things

      2. ChrisFromGeorgia

        These events and the way that they seem choreographed make me feel like we’re living inside “The Truman Show.”

        A war with Iran would certainly bring an end to the regularly scheduled stock market pump-fest, so allowing both sides to have a face-saving way out smells like orchestration to me as well.

        Feels like we’re not allowed to have organic events impacting history anymore. Who or what besides energy cartels is telling the actors what their lines are?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Disagree, stock prices are likely a central motivator of the uptick in WW III (which I believe commenced on 9/11).

          Two flows matter: the black stuff from under the ground and the green stuff from inside the banks, this latest set of moves is designed to boost the price of the former and to justify further flows from the latter. The Chinese have carried the ball nicely with an additional $180 billion materialized in recent weeks, Fed is doing their part. To infinity, and beyond!

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      The Iranians lie all the time. Everybody knows it. We need to wait to hear the truth from the american military, which has kept us informed for 18 years about the realities in Afghanistan, and will undoubtedly do the same wrt this developing situation with Iraq/Iran.

      I’m certain any delay in reporting is just an attempt to provide the most accurate information possible, and to consult with the experts at raytheon and general dynamics about the way “forward.”

      1. ambrit

        You are a contributor to Duffleblog, aren’t you. Your comment reaches those heights of “displaced truth telling behaviour.”
        Consent manufacturer: “OMG? We can’t have ‘ordinary’ people believing the real truth! Quick! Spin it as a reality show plot!”

        1. ambrit

          Oh man! That guy is good. I noticed that he was not too worried about ‘surveillance’ of the crowd. Such a trusting crowd bodes well for the social cohesion of that polity.

        1. HotFlash

          My dear Procopius,
          Apparently you have not encountered Katniss’ sense of humour before. Let me just say it is very dry. So yes, I expect it is sarc.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Mike Pompeo stresses Hong Kong autonomy, urges global censure of China over ‘brutal treatment of Uygurs’ South China Morning Post. The small faction of US flag-waving Hong Kong protesters will, I think, regret seeking any US involvement. Not only do those of good faith among them have far too rosy a view of the United States as the sort of liberal democracy so many of the protesters seek, the US is not agreement-capable.

    I think the tendency of protestors worldwide to wave US flags is frequently misinterpreted by many (especially those who live in large countries). When you live in a small region or nation with a very unpleasant and large neighbour, its always tempting to see the far away country which happens to have bad relations with your neighbour as in some way more attractive. Its also somewhat pragmatic to try to send a signal to your immediate neighbour that just maybe, you have a large and threatening friend somewhere. During the Irish war of independence Irish Republicans frequently emphasised links with the US, despite many of them having little interest ideologically with the US (many were socialists or catholic nationalists). It was a pragmatic way of letting Britain know that there were other interests involved and so they didn’t have an entirely free hand. To a large degree this worked, as most historians acknowledge that the visibility and popularity of the Irish revolution in some circles in the US was a significant element in persuading London that it couldn’t treat the Irish as they regularly treated brown subjects in Africa or India (or at least not quite as badly).

    This isn’t to suggest that this is the same situation as in HK, but a lot of people here seem to jump to all sorts of conclusions when they see those flags being waved. It all depends on context.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      People who live abroad are frequently subject to massive bombardments of American propaganda – you know the usual nonsense such as freedom, prosperity, righteous, moral. It is only when they immigrate here and open their eyes (if they ever do open their eyes) that they see the reality of living and working in the United States. Many immigrants to the US long to go back home, but they are trapped by the high consumption and high indebtedness lifestyle that they adopted and so can never go back home. Materialism can be very seductive, though so too can a few lines of cocaine snorted up the nose.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s leaders unmoved on climate action after devastating bushfires”

    Saw an example of that today. So Scotty from Marketing was visiting Kangaroo Island which had been badly hit and a father and son burnt to death. He was handing out money to businesses left, right and center. Locals and business owners have begged holiday-makers not to cancel upcoming plans despite the island being ravaged by bushfires so Scotty had an idea. He asked tourists that had pre-booked to cut businesses a break when asking for a refund by considering the timing. He then went on to say “Even better – why not, if you’re in a position to do so, then why not even let them keep it.”
    He then said, I kid you not-

    “Australia is open. Australia is still a wonderful place to come and bring your family and enjoy your holidays. Even here on Kangaroo Island, where a third of the island has obviously been decimated – two-thirds of it is open and ready for business. It’s important to keep the local economies vibrant at these times.”

    After that speech, the news crew casually mentioned that the Army was setting up water filtration units to treat the polluted water and that many locals are being temporarily evacuated from the island due to deteriorating weather conditions and maybe more fires.

      1. norm de plume

        Oh, he is a dill alright, but get a load of his deputy, only a heartbeat away from the top job:

        The previous deputy is no improvement:

        At least they’re not End of Days fruitcakes like ScoMo, but on balance he is the best of a bad bunch.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes. Let’s recall how he got there though: by being the lowest, least visible party bureaucratic worm. Cognitive and actual dissonances on party and politics meant the rest of the possibilities fell by the wayside (Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull), they looked around the room and asked “well who’s left then?” and saw #ScottyFromMarketing. You know, the complete dipshit kid who got picked last for sports teams in high school, kept his head down so nobody really noticed him, and just let all the others get chopped away. Kind of like Australia’s current Minister of Defence Marise Payne, who is there for one reason and one reason only: she will do what she is told.

        This is trending hugely in the country because it explains and gives voice to so much:

    1. shtove

      “Australia is open. Australia is still a wonderful place to come and bring your family and enjoy your holidays. Even here on Kangaroo Island, where a third of the island has obviously been decimated – two-thirds of it is open and ready for business. It’s important to keep the local economies vibrant at these times.”

      Reminds me of a movie from the mid-’70s …

      I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have in fact caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But as you can see, it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are opened, and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means friendship.

  7. Bugs Bunny

    Re: the Blackrock protest – Macron made Jean-François Cirelli, the Blackrock France CEO, an officer of the Légion d’Honneur on January 1st. This obviously added fuel to the anger already in the streets. The arrogance is stunning.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Another arrogant, tone deaf move – the government has already submitted the draft pension reform gutting law to the Conseil d’Etat for confirmation that it is constitutional. This normally wouldn’t be done until consultations and negotiating is completed, including with the pension insurance administration. Again, stunning.

      Here’s a link in French, you can run it through your favorite translation tool.

        1. Winston Smith

          By Macron own utterances; he refers to his character as “jupitérien”….(imperious, dominating)

      1. David

        Yes. Le Monde refers to “a text” and not “the text”, so the government seems to be claiming that it’s just getting the Conseil d’État’s informal views on the impact of the proposed law. But the draft law, in whatever state it is, won’t even be presented to the French Cabinet until 24 January, and then sent to Parliament. It looks as though Macron is trying to create an image of speed and decisiveness, and to create a fait accompli by having the law passed even while the protests are still going on. But this is at a minimum stupid and provocative, and it undermines the position of the Conseil d’État as the final guardian of legal propriety, above and beyond the government.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Israel had advance notice of U.S. plan to kill Iranian general Suleimani, report says”

    But now Netanyahu is backing away from the Soleimani assassination and is warning ministers to ‘stay out’ of the purely ‘American event’ He then went on to say that ‘We were not involved and should not be dragged into it.’ Nope. Israel had absolutely nothing to do with this murder or any tensions between Iran and the US. Just innocent bystanders. They were just hanging around when they heard all this shooting. Sounds legit.

    Meanwhile, the Coalition’s General officers are showing the way in courage, resilience and fortitude in face of possible enemy attcks. Nah! The Coalition headquarters is bailing from Iraq and ducking over to Kuwait-

    1. norm de plume

      ‘now Netanyahu is backing away from the Soleimani assassination and is warning ministers to ‘stay out’ of the purely ‘American event’

      To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

      He also once said ‘America is a thing you can move easily…’

    2. Oregoncharles

      Kuwait is no farther from Iran than Iraq is.

      In any case, the remaining Americans in Iraq are extremely vulnerable and will soon be gone, regardless of rhetoric.

  9. tegnost

    To today’s “read all the way to the end”…
    It’s a Ukranian plane but…
    “Under decades of international sanctions, Iran’s commercial passenger aircraft fleet has aged, with air accidents occurring regularly for domestic carriers in recent years, resulting in hundreds of casualties.”
    Hmmm…seems like passing the buck…

    1. urblintz

      according to a report on rt, the plane – a Boeing 703 (not Max) – was built in 2016. Apparently there have been other problems with this model too. I don’t have a ink, it was in a short segment of today’s rt daily newscast. That’s all I’m going on, don’t know if it’s true…

  10. a different chris

    As usual, “economics” is an ala carte science:

    >While there are some domestic printing options available, the U.S. printers, as has been remarked already, that are comparable to China on price and quality do not have the capacity to meet current demand….

    So they will, you know, mebbie expand? Hire people (actual Christians, some of them?) until the output matches demand?

    Oh no, that’s crazy talk. To be fair, my Econ 101 class was wrong about most everything anyway. I guess I’ll just add this to the list.

    1. Roy G

      I’m a big fan of Stoller’s work, but he totally buried the lede on this one, as what the lobbyist was really saying is ‘the real problem is, we can’t make a windfall profit selling American printed Bibles.’

  11. The Rev Kev

    “US troops out of Iraq? What that would mean for both countries. ”

    This article actually contains a nugget of information in it when it says-

    President Donald Trump reacted angrily to the Iraqi parliament move. He said if Iraq kicked out U.S. troops, it should be made to repay “billions” of dollars spent on Al-Balad airbase – though far less was spent on that base and, according to a 2008 agreement, all U.S. military infrastructure left behind when the U.S. first withdrew in 2011 became Iraqi.

    This guy on Twitter laid it out how all those runways and installations belong to Iraq by an agreement that the US signed and has excerpts from these documents-

    But I have also read an interesting idea. Last September, Iraq went to China with a 50-person team and signed a number of reconstruction, trade and oil agreements. Trump hit the roof and demanded that Iraq break this agreement and give the US 50% of Iraq’s oil production but Iraq refused. After nearly twenty years after the invasion, they were still waiting for the Americans to repair the electrical grid. They probably thought to give the Chinese a shot at it. And it was at this time that all those “protests” started.

      1. barefoot charley

        Good, plausible background: Iraq had got tired of waiting for American parasite-corporations that were paid billions to restore infrastructure, but made better profits by not actually doing what they were paid for, like restoring electricity, so the premier contracted with the Chinese to make stuff work. Trump repeatedly threatened the premier who cut the deal with Maidan-style black-flag gunfire, massive demos, etc–all of which has indeed been happening across Iraq. After the assassination, the premier’s spilling the beans.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What price or prices for that 50% oil?

      Below market – the buyer is robbing the seller.

      Above market – the seller is stealing from the buyer.

      Can Iraq offer that same oil to more than just one or two buyers? That should in theory generates more competition and better revenues. And use that money to invite global bids for reconstruction. Korean builders can be very competitive, I think.

    2. wilroncanada

      What they also left behind–The Rev Kev
      A few hundred,or thousand, sites that the Iraq government and its people are going to have to try to “superfund” away over the next couple of millennia, if the world is around that long. (For that, you’ll have to ask an expert like Scottie Morrison ,or maybe Mike Pompeo.)

    3. Carl

      I think Iraq should demand an itemized bill, like you do in the US when you’re uninsured and get that hospital bill. Might lead to a zero balance, that.

      1. bob

        Reply below that-

        “she can’t commit to any dance move she starts, no matter how many times she tries”

  12. L

    The real target of the US assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani – China South China Morning Post

    This is an odd article to include. It is certainly an interesting example of propaganda and in that respects stands just fine along with the pieces from The Atlantic. But the framing of a vast US conspiracy to attack someone in Iran to bait China into war stretches credibility a bit too far. The author tries for example to draw a line between Iraq and the Uygurs and then claim that criticism of the internment camps is somehow an attempt to start a war.

    In the case of China, Uygur groups from the Muslim minority in China’s northwest, were armed with military weapons by outside forces. Uygur separatists proceeded to terrorise parts of Western China with bombings, stabbings and other violent means which have been widely reported by Western news agencies such as the BBC.

    The Chinese government has responded with an internment camp for 1 million Uygurs to try to stem the violence and to prevent a civil war like in Syria from breaking out. But such moves have been met predictably with threats and hostility from the US, which would much rather see conflict in China.

    No explanation is given for how “military weapons” lead to stabbings with knives nor do they explain how this connects to Iraq since the violence in Xinjang has predated that and has, for the most part, been ignored by nominal US allies like Saudi Arabia.

    As examples of the Chinese state worldview it is consistent with what I have seen from other sources but it fails on making a sound argument, and its omitting of China’s island seizure in the South China Sea to claim innocence stretches credibility.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t open that article for some reason, but that sort of argument is pretty bizarre. Whatever the US wants with China, its certainly not interested in a hot war with a country with nuclear weapons (well, excepting those religious nuts Trump has been hanging out with latterly who are a little too keen on Armageddon). And one of the key notably characteristics of the Uighurs is that their attacks have all been with crude weapons such as knives – if someone is supplying them with modern weapons, they haven’t been doing a very good job of it.

    2. RubyDog

      As you say, it is a good example of the Chinese state worldview. China is one of the most ethnocentric of all societies, which has been true for millennia, since the earliest days of the “Middle Kingdom”. China = civilization, everyone else = barbarians. It’s amazing how much this attitude is still prevalent. I have a number of Chinese American friends and relatives through marriage, and even though they are Westernized in many ways, they still hold on to the notion of Chinese cultural and civilizational superiority. They tend to see everything through the prism of China vs. “The West”.

      To be fair, this attitude towards outsiders has been a characteristic of empires the world over, the Romans and the British being prime examples.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So, it is an ‘internment camp’ for 1 million, and not an ‘education center?’

  13. Grant

    “Government action will be necessary to ensure that democratic market capitalism remains politically and environmentally sustainable over the long run. Of particular importance are policies to encourage competition, combat climate change, contain inequality, and bolster democratic institutions.”

    So many questions.

    1. Everyone from libertarians on over to sane and rational people realize that markets ignore lots of information. There are limits to monetization and the things we can’t realistically monetize are growing in importance. How do we hold on to the market system when these impacts cannot be monetized? Given the scale of non-market impacts, even if we could, the costs of everything would explode. It also isn’t realistic to price these things and then to expect individual consumers and producers to take the thousands of different environmental impacts into account when buying stuff, which means that some form of comprehensive planning would be needed. Hayek even acknowledged that these decisions are not realistically going to be decided on at the individual level when large societal changes are underway. While he opposed the state being able to do much, he did say that it may be needed to gather, analyze and disperse information to consumers and producers. So, how do markets continue to play a central role when markets themselves are the key driver in the environmental crisis, when we can’t monetize most environmental impacts and when it isn’t realistic for consumers and producers to take into account all environmental impacts when consuming and producing things?

    2. When was capitalism ever democratic? It promotes authoritarian workplaces, it is the driving force behind imperialism, it has corrupted governments wherever it has been. So, when has the capitalist system been democratic, and how could it be realistically? There might have been countries that had republics and those republics may have worked for a little bit, but the system was never democratic on the whole.

    3. How exactly do we make the economy more equitable when the international economic system has been set up to undermine democracies and to prioritize capital, and when power dynamics within and between countries are as large as they are? How do you really address these things and hold on to what we call capitalism? How do you decrease inequality within institutions without having to fully confront capitalists? I mean, higher wages at Amazon leaves less of a surplus to be handed over to Bezos. How do workers benefit without Bezos being worse off? What about various forms of economic rent, including economic rent that comes from monopolistic power? If we know that powerful interests often profit from externalizing their costs onto others, society at large, the environment and future generations, how exactly do we make the economy actually more equitable without confronting what Karl William Kapp called “cost shifting”?

    Seems that if you were serious about this stuff, and thought about it from a systems perspective, whatever system could possibly deal with that, it wouldn’t be capitalism. It might share some features with capitalism, just as capitalism is similar to feudalism in some ways, but it would be a radically different system. If the authors feel better, lets do it and just call it capitalism. If they want to call it Swiss cheese, I am cool with that too.

    1. a different chris

      > How do workers benefit without Bezos being worse off?

      This question gets even weirder when you think that what actually happens is that Amazon receives $X dollars from you for something, but the workers involved pretty much split that X, and Bezo’s money pretty much comes from his stock appreciating based on, but not actually financially tied to that transaction.

      If anybody says they really understand this they are lying.

    2. JP

      You raise several questions. My first response is that natural controls tend to be brutal. Some discussion on this site today about population decline. A topic that some economist freaks out about on a regular schedule. The general standard of living has benefited not just from expanding resource extraction but from efficiencies of scale across all areas of the global economy. Everywhere we look we see parabolic charts. That normally speaks to peaks.

      I began forming views of “the great contraction” some years ago and did not necessarily see it as a catastrophic plunge but more a partial return to the world as it was. That viewpoint now has to take climate change into consideration as greatly speeding up the disintegration of large scale trade and neoliberal goals.

      The nature of reality is evolutionary. Meaning that all of man’s social-political constructs are eventually constrained by natural selection. The acceleration of “progress” has been expodential. If it runs out of fuel fast enough it will crater. The social-political equilibrium will revert to feudalism. Capitalism, socialism, authoritarianism et all could probably be considered subsets of feudalism.

      I don’t see much room for an evolutionary synthesis because homoeconomicus drags a very long tail. I would like to live another 150 years just to see what happens but I think it might be 5000 years before we see significant advancement of human stature. It could be that global catastrophe and a significant reduction of the human population could accelerate that change.

      1. Grant

        The present system, based on endless growth in throughput, is going to result in brutality on a scale never seen, if we don’t replace it with another system and different institutions. Many people say that we need to reduce resource consumption and pollution generation. Great. But, outside of wars, famine and everything else Malthus hoped would reduce population, how do we do so in a peaceful way? Okay, we have to consume less. Given that the top 15% or so of the population worldwide consumes over 80% of resources, and given that the proportions are roughly the same in regards to pollution generation, who consumes and pollutes less? Who decides this? Who enforces this? How, without democratic planning, can this be done in a democratic and non-violent way? If we do this while holding on to capitalist ethos and go with some right-libertarian critique of state power, how could such a thing happen, given the inequality and the huge power differentials in society, without extreme violence? Would it not quickly devolve into authoritarianism?

        The notion that we have any chance to even mitigate the environmental crisis without planning is unrealistic, again, given that we want this to be done in a relatively peaceful and democratic way. And even if we don’t, if we just want society to exist, how can it be done without planning? The debate should be over whether or not the planning will be democratic, and we should also discuss the limits of planning. Not every part of the economy can and should be planned. So, we will need to rely to an extent on individuals and enterprises acting with autonomy independent of a planning process. That, to me, then calls for the institutions themselves to be more democratic and equitable internally. That, if we stand a chance, will require a heightened consciousness and a different way of seeing our relationships with the environment and each other.

        Beyond that, when we talk about limits to growth, we are not talking about the financial sector. The financial sector doesn’t actually make anything, and interest on debt can grow forever. Not only do we need to deal with the limits of growth in throughput, we at the same time have to deal with the fact that the financial and monetary parts of the economy do NOT face limits to growth. Does that too not require some level of planning, or are we to just leave most money creation to private interests? If we do, I can see lots and lots of problems as things progress. If private capital continue to make most money, they will continue to make most investment decisions. I can see logical problems with that.

        1. JP

          Every prediction of the demise of modern civilization has so far proven wrong. Never has technology been as advanced but consider that world has never been so integrated. The clouds gathering on the horizon are global. We are looking at collapse with an unprecedented extent. As basic services we take for granted diminish so will our interconnectivity. If we can no longer get goods from China and there is no vast energy fed distribution system then China will no longer occupy our thoughts. When the United States fractures into three or more governing areas Fox news will lose its influence.

          I’m not suggesting that the world will be all Mad Max but that it will come to pieces. Knowledge will largely be preserved but maybe not the global communications network. Much will be lost but at the same time thousands of social-political experiments will be launched. From this a solution could evolve.

          I believe you are looking at near futures where the social fabric still has more of our present economic coherence. You are trying to posit a way forward with much of our present institutions intact but changing to accommodate the reality of our overreach. I hope you are right and I would hope to be involved in a successful solution. Never the less I am building underground because the chance that we can mitigate the coming environmental crisis with planing may be wishful thinking.

          1. Grant

            Well, it is the only thing that has a chance at working. I never said we will actually do it. But, I have two young boys, and I can’t just accept collapse and give up. I owe them to try.

          2. Yves Smith

            Nassim Nicholas Taleb pointed out the turkey has greatest confidence the farmer is his friend right before he is slaughtered because he will have had the largest number of confirming observations by then.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Like with so much stuff in the world, that “democratic” ™ brand gets defined by those with the power to define it. So us mopes are flooded with “democratic” labeling attached to everything, so that a word which by conventional definition (absent manipulation) clearly can in no way be applied to the US political economy gets absorbed into our tribal bones as somehow “true” and “good” and “desirable,” so Medicare and Social Security can become unDemocratic and even unAmercan (whatever the heck that means, except most of us mopes just know in their bones that “American” and “democracy” go together like peanup butter and grape jelly and are go-o-o-od on whole wheat ™ bread…

      How many people in the mopery can even define what “democracy” is? Other than “i just know it’s the only good way because it’s what we have here”? Like this, from Australia: Which explains, I guess, that “democracy” = “getting to cast a ballot to choose among two predetermined alternatives.” “The Democratic Party is not a democracy. It can choose candidates in any way its leadership decides.”

      It’s all just branding and marketing and the triumphal slathering of Bernays Sauce ™ over the whole steam table smorgasbord of gluttony and corruption…

      1. norm de plume

        The meaning of the word democracy has, like the word reform, has changed over time to become almost the opposite of what it originally meant, for much the same reason and to the benefit of much the same people.

      2. Grant

        I agree that the term democratic can sometimes be nebulous. I know what I am talking about though, and know how different thinkers have conceptualized economic democracy. Robin Hahnel Mary Mellor, Costas Panayotakis, David Schweickart, even Milton Friedman all have different ideas about what economic democracy is. I agree with Robin Hahnel’s ideas on the matter. To me, democratic means having a say in decisions that impact you, ideally in rough proportion to the extent that they impact you. If you work in a traditional workplace, there is usually no democracy. Your boss is a dictator and you follow orders. A democratic workplace, like a cooperative, allows people impacted by the cooperative’s decisions to have a say in what it does. Unions can play a democratizing role when the workers don’t own the company. In Germany, with companies of a particular size or greater, half of the board members have to be union officials or representatives. Elinor Ostrom also wrote a lot about how people can and have successfully managed common pool resources democratically.

        In regards to the government, the same applies but you need representative democracy more than direct democracy, although countries like Switzerland and Uruguay have participatory elements too, which allow citizens to overturn policy. Venezuela allows for that and has allowed for popular referendums to remove politicians from office. It was used against Chavez actually. In that instance, I would say that in addition to having some direct participation, policy should pretty closely match popular opinion. If the state’s policies are at odds with what the public wants, then the system isn’t democratic. The reps aren’t under popular control themselves and there are no mechanisms as far as the public controlling what the state does collectively. Participatory budgeting may allow for some deepening of democracy, although it has had a mixed record in places like Brazil, India and here in the US.

        Hahnel has also come up with how a system of participatory planning would work. It wouldn’t be easy to realize, but I like a lot of what he has said and think it can be useful as far as democratizing our economic system and society.

        Maybe others use the term in ways that aren’t clear, but I have particular things in mind when I use the word democracy and call for democratic planning.

    4. wilroncanada

      It’s simply trying to pretend there can be “reform” of something that does not actually exist: Democratic Market Capitalism. It has never existed, will never exist, and cannot exist.

  14. neighbor7

    We also can’t print math journals. Friend of mine with a small specialized computer typesetting firm saw all his business quickly migrate to India. Ironically, he still keeps a couple of women employed servicing his last customer–a religious publishing house that doesn’t want to change…

  15. Geo

    “Streets of Gold is a 1.13m square map of greater London created on a base of 24 carat gold leaf.”

    The streets are the only thing on this map that are not gold. Maybe call it “City of Gold, Streets of Coal”? Or, “Fancy Doodle on Gold Plate”?

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    The Triumphal Quadriga of Saint Mark’s, in Venice, comes to mind.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “Bible Lobbyist: We Can’t Print Bibles in America Anymore” We don’t make things anymore, and don’t value making things.

    In Memoriam: this was Greider’s point in “Secrets of the Temple.” The gist I went away with was that US, and Federal Reserve, policy systematically favored finance over actual production – precisely the problem Stoller is now highlighting, only after the damage is done.

    And how do you overcome that problem, as a matter of policy? You pay more for stuff, until businesses can be convinced to bring back the capability. It may take a while. Hence, the criticisms of Trump’s tariffs are off base. They probably are not a very sophisticated approach – domestic sourcing laws might be more to the point – but the fact that they make stuff more expensive is not a criticism. Yes, that’s what they’re for. Next question: how do we convince spoiled, deteriorated, crapified American businesses to start making stuff again? Not sure, but globalization is definitely not the answer.

    We might start by asking Putin; he apparently turned the sanctions against Russia into an imperative for autarky. How did he do that? Most of it must be public, as least in Russia.

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