Links 2/14/2020

You Think We’re Self-Obsessed Now? The 19th Century Would Like A Word FiveThirtyEight

Prince Harry and Meghan axe all 15 employees in their UK-based team Newscom Australia (The Rev Kev)

The hidden design failure that’s costing consumers trillions Fast Company

Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory Independent Science News (JL)

Beer Waste Helps Montana Town Save Money On Water Treatment NPR (Montanamaven)

The New Spheres of Influence Foreign Affairs Graham Allison.

Day One at Yalta, the Conference That Shaped the World: ‘De Gaulle Thinks He’s Joan of Arc’ Literary Hub

Dorothy Parker’s Daring Wit Humanities

The people’s economist aeon

The way we read now Spectator USA

Battle between two legal giants escalates as Alan Dershowitz files defamation suit against David Boies AlterNet

Syraqistan

Tick Tock: Iraqi Leader Still Under Pressure To Boot U.S. Forces American Conservative

No. 1 Sponsor of Terrorism? US Media Name Iran, but Overlook a Candidate Closer to Home FAIR

It’s time to reclaim Syria’s road to recovery Asia Times (The Rev Kev). Pepe Escobar.

AP Explains: Why Syria’s M5 is Assad’s highway to victory AP

l’Affaire Jeffrey Epstein

Barclays CEO Under Investigation Over Links to Jeffrey Epstein WSJ

Brexit

In wake of Brexit, EU to put Cayman Islands on tax haven blacklist Guardian (re/silC)

Class Warfare

Newsrooms Rethink a Crime Reporting Staple: The Mugshot Marshall Project

Coronavirus and Concentration: Should the FDA Have Anti-Monopoly Authority? BIG Matt Stoller

Credit-Card Interest Rates Soar to Record High, Bond Yields Drop to Record Low: What Gives? Wolfstreet (zagonostra)

PAID BY THE PIPELINE The Intercept OregonCharles

The Challenging Arithmetic of Climate Action Project Syndicate

Wall Street is trying to catch up on climate change FT (David L)

BP has announced a “net zero” emissions plan MIT Technology Review

A Crisis Right Now: San Francisco and Manila Face Rising Seas NYT (David L)

Mean Streets Foreign Affairs

Waste Watch

Tracking the future of US recycling policy in Congress Waste Dive

The ESA is about to turn one of its spacecraft into a fireball MIT Technology Review

In Somalia, an unprecedented effort to kill massive locust swarms with biocontrol Science (guurst)

Health Care

Health insurer stocks surge as Bernie Sanders’ primary win seen boosting Trump’s chances MarketWatch (re/silC)

Giant viruses may be attacking the microbes in our guts Ars Technica (re/silC)

Trump Transition

White House quietly trims dozens of national security experts LA Times

Julian Assange

Assange Extradition: Blatant Judicial Double Standards Off Guardian (chuck l)

2020

The Establishment Now Has Three Horses in the Race — and None Won New Hampshire TruthOut

Mayor Pete’s Health Care Plan Is a Joke Jacobin

What’s Behind Warren’s Weak Start FiveThirtyEight

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign suddenly drops memes everywhere The Strats Times

‘This is what panic looks like’: Sanders team hits back after Wall Street criticism Guardian. re/silC: “look out below wall street pete.”

India

India’s Textile City of Tiruppur is an Environmental Dark Spot The Wire

Climate change policies will continue to fall short unless we hand the mic to those most hurt by it Scroll

Our Famously Free Press

McClatchy, a Major U.S. Newspaper Chain, Files for Bankruptcy NYT (Dan)

#2019-nCoV

When Viruses Turn Political Project Syndicate

Is THIS Why Most Coronavirus Deaths Have Been In Chinese Men? George Washington

Title: The Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is Highly Contagious and More Infectious Than Initially Estimated medRxiv  (Dr. Kevin)

Here’s How Computer Models Simulate the Future Spread of New Coronavirus Scientfiic American (David L)

A virus called Wuhan-400 makes people terribly ill … in a Dean Koontz thriller from 1981. How is it that some books appear to prophesy events? SCMP (re/silC)

US military prepping for coronavirus pandemic Military Times . re/silC: “our space force will shoot the droplets out of the air.”

Antidote du Jour (via) To celebrate day 1 of the Great Backyard Bird Count, I should have posted a picture from the backyard where I’m currently a houseguest. Thanks to reader Milton for cluing me in to the existence of this event.

Alas, no flybys today. Wish I’d managed to snap the greater coucal that flew by the other day. But the bird was long gone before I grabbed my camera. I’ve posted this antidote because it’s in the spirit of a backyard bird:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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280 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    “A virus called Wuhan-400 makes people terribly ill … in a Dean Koontz thriller from 1981. How is it that some books appear to prophesy events?”

    Similarities happen all the time. And when we notice them occasionally, we call them coincidences. Anybody ever hear of the book “Wreck of the Titan” published 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic? Same thing as here-

    https://allthatsinteresting.com/the-wreck-of-the-titan

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I seem to recall reading somewhere that the concept of the “black hole” first appeared in a Star Trek (classic) episode.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        I recall reading that the idea was first mentioned in a speech by Eddington, who pointed out that it was a logical consequence of General Relativity but dismissed it as daft. He later made life uncomfortable for at least one younger physicist who took the idea seriously.

        Reply
      2. Randy G

        Would never disrespect Star Trek (classic)!, but the possibility of ‘black holes’ goes back centuries and several prominent physicists puzzled over the mathematics and implications for stellar evolution in the early 20th century:

        “Objects whose gravitational fields are too strong for light to escape were first considered in the 18th century by John Michell and Pierre-Simon Laplace.[12] The first modern solution of general relativity that would characterize a black hole was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916….”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole

        Reply
      1. J7915

        IIRC before 9/11 an Algerian terrorist group hijacked an airliner with the intent of crashing into a significant structure in France. Place de la Concord, I don’t know what buildings line that square, or some other well known structure.
        While novels do predict? Real events get ignored. By the big and importent people, especially if it is inconvenient to consider. Who cold have thought of it? A couple thousand kamikaze pilots.

        Reply
      2. Susan the other

        a form of hypnosis? using the power of suggestion to prepare you to accept an outcome. Even a very specific outcome. My question on Koontz 1981 – over 40 years ago it was planted – is, why Wuhan? Was there already a level 4 virology lab there? Then maybe.

        Reply
        1. Monty

          Have a look at Hermann Minkowski’s (Einstein’s mentor) 1908 argument for a special-relativistic block universe. He suggests everything, as in every moment, has always existed. If so, perhaps powerful experiences could “ripple back” through the fabric of time, causing the phenomena we know as synchronicity.

          Reply
    2. D. Fuller

      The virus was originally called, Gorki-400 and the culprit in the Koontz novel was The USSR. The digital copy of the book was altered and updated to reflect changes in geopolitics. The USSR became China and the bioweapons weapons lab was changed to the only BSL-4 lab in China – adds to realism in a fiction novel. Money novels do try to use real world information for realism.

      I encountered this story first on Zerohedge and checked it out. It’s spread to the usual RW websites fueling conspiracy theories. Zerohedge now being a discredited anti-vaxxer, conspiracy website. One only goes there to check on the latest idiocy by conspiracy theorists. Ocassionally? There may be something of interest. Then again, a broken clock is right, twice a day.

      Reply
    3. Balakirev

      Another instance of a marked coincidence: endless novels and memoirs for hundreds of years of books about corrupt, stupid, greedy politicians. And here we are.

      Reply
  2. Henry Moon Pie

    M4A and the Sanders campaign in general are generating lots of rank-and-file vs. “leadership” political conflict. Zaid Jiliani was reporting that Culinary Workers union members were distributing an open petition supporting Sanders. The union heads, who had announced an endorsement press conference, ended up announcing “no endorsement.” The Iowa Democratic Party is in such revolt, and not just against incompetence but “fraud” and “cronyism,” that Price had to resign. Astonishingly, several members of the Progressive Caucus had a very serious come-to-Jesus with His Highness, Tom Perez.

    And as Bernie and his supporters rack up some wins against these elites, the “gut” voters watch and see not a clown who amuses them by making fun of their enemies. They can see a champion who has the integrity and his movement who has the strength to take on their oppressors.

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      this is part of the gauntlet sanders has to run, first iowa, now the first shots are fired against him in nevada. once again the dnc via harry reid (imo, don’t know exactly how the sausage was made) tried to ratfamily him, and once again pushback from below stopped them. stay tuned for the new app (excuse me, software tool) to suppress or transfer votes.

      Reply
      1. Scylla

        My understanding is that there was some very suspicious activity in New Hampshire as well. I had read that there were three (and only three) counties in New Hampshire that had electronic voting machines, and that in these counties only Buttigeig won 34% of the vote. All other counties basically tracked with the overall result.

        Reply
        1. zagonostra

          Interesting, do you have a link? I’ve seen some stories on the Diebold voting machines and how easy it is for them to be hacked, I was wondering how many counties in NH were deployed.

          Reply
          1. lyman alpha blob

            Just checked Bradblog about that, figuring if there were a problem he’d be all over it. He doesn’t mention any machines at all

            We discuss, along with a reminder that all of New Hampshire voted, without apparent problem Tuesday, on hand-marked paper ballots, with citizen volunteers in some 40% of Granite State towns counting those hand-marked ballots by hand, publicly, with everybody watching, no apparent problems or delays, and results announced at each counting location upon completion. We call that Democracy’s Gold Standard and thank the volunteers in those NH towns.

            Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Will the Sanders campaign be ready for caucus fraud in Nevada the way they were ready for caucus fraud in Iowa? With disclosed and undisclosed vote watcher-counters at every caucus site? Reporting to their own data collection preservation centers unhackable by DNC corruptionists?

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      All of this contrast, I think, is a very good thing. (“Which side are you on, boys?”) Bringing kitchen table issues to the fore and forcing people to confront the two choices we have is “wonderfully clarifying”, indeed.

      The Democrat primary race is starting to look to me like it could come down to Sanders vs. Bloomberg. I absolutely relish that matchup. Hard to conceive of a better “foil” for Sanders’ argument about a rigged economy and a rigged government than Crassus himself.

      It’ll also be a good “dry run” for the general election. If Sanders’ tactics work against Bloomberg in the primary, they’ll be that much more effective against Trump in the general.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        i really think running the primary gauntlet against the dnc and various billionaires will be harder than winning the general, where hopefully the dnc will still be licking its wounds and he only has to contend with gop rat…….-but then if he wins that, the hardest test of all; governing and trying to change the system in the face of a united front of dnc and gop opposition.
        it’s like the fight against climate change, in the face of weak government action or inaction and corporate bribery; we don’t have a choice.
        it’s going to take massive public action; not bernie, us.

        Reply
        1. lordkoos

          Yes, even if Bernie wins it will be a long, hard struggle, and the media will still be against him, like they were with Carter.

          Reply
      2. Henry Moon Pie

        These Sanders movement wins against the insiders are not only a sign of strength and integrity to the “gut” voters, they’re also a warning to insiders that there might be a political and career price (no pun intended) to be paid for trying to screw over Sanders.

        As for Bloomberg, maybe the Sanders surrogates could start wearing large and legible “I am NOT FOR SALE” buttons, especially if the likes of AOC, Nina, Philip Agnew, Dr. Cornel, Cynthia Nixon, etc. explained what the buttons were about at a rally.

        Reply
        1. D. Fuller

          Never discount gut feelings. Too many do and end up picking incorrect choices. Psychopaths have that problem. Their lack of emotional expression ends up with psychopaths having a more difficult time in making decisions or picking correct choices using their “gut feeling”.

          “Gut feeling” is something humans use to arrive at correct choices despite lacking complete information. Some are better at it than others. The “gut feeling” is also why humans can discern a correct choice, whereas computers will never be able to do so. It’s a key failing in implementing AI – today’s AI being a misnomer and marketing & advertising gimmick for tech companies to fool others into believing that tech companies have something they never will using silicon as the basis for their “AI”.

          “Gut feeling” is a key ingredient in the expression of intelligence.

          Reply
          1. Henry Moon Pie

            I absolutely agree. Some voters are motivated to choose a candidate by the candidate’s stance on an issue that’s highly salient to them. Others assess candidates on emotional or intuitive perceptions about the candidates’ character, toughness, etc. Bernie’s needs as many of all types as possible, and winning these little fights speaks to those “gut” voters looking for someone to take on their oppressors.

            Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        It did help me better understand what a “Cadillac” plan was. It’s not that it’s a great health plan with all those out-of-pocket expenses. Instead, the “leadership” can all afford to buy Escalades with their cut.

        Reply
    3. Hepativore

      I think that Sanders should also consider making a hybrid job guarantee/basic income program. I do not think that the two ideas are diametrically opposed to each other.

      The reason I say this is that Yang said he is willing to endorse anybody who is willing to take up his cause of a basic income from the government. I think that Sanders should continue to try and get Andrew Yang’s supporters on his side, as the media and the establishment gave Yang a raw deal just like they have done and are continuing to do with Sanders.

      Even if I disagree with some of Yang’s stances on things, he strikes me as being an honest supporter of the ideas he espouses and perhaps Sanders should consider giving Yang a position in his cabinet should Sanders win.

      Reply
      1. turtle

        There could be a very simple hybrid program:

        Jobs guarantee for all able adults
        Basic income for everyone else (children, elderly, disabled, etc)

        I have not heard Yang make any comments about JG, but somehow I have a feeling that he wouldn’t be for it. The silicon valley crowd seems to prefer UBI for some reason.

        Reply
        1. Paul Boisvert

          Such a hybrid scheme is a great idea. Silicon Valley and all capitalists would oppose JG because its main form requires paying a living wage–say $15 hourly right now, indexed to inflation in the future. UBI schemes are far below that–which is sort of ok for children (i.e., paid to their parents for the work of raising them), but no one else.

          The JG will thus substantially raise the floor and (by competition) effective wage for all jobs, against capitalists’ wishes. While decent UBI and M4A, without JG, would remove some folks from the labor market, which scarcity would raise wages a little, it would also create some inflation for the capitalists to sell at higher prices, so is less hurtful to them than a big wage push from JG.

          I myself would advocate JG at living wage for one parent in each household for the work of parenting, as well as (lower) UBI per child for the expense of raising them. But of course the net effect could be achieved in various ways–regardless, some sort of hybrid is an ideal aim.

          Reply
        2. MLTPB

          CBS is reporting licensed travel agencies, restaurants etc are receiving aournd $US 10,000.00 from their government due to covid19.

          That’s kind of like basic income, for businesses, one time only or otherwise.

          Reply
        3. Plenue

          “The silicon valley crowd seems to prefer UBI for some reason.”

          Because it will give them an excuse to suppress wages.

          Yang does seem to be earnest. He’s an earnest fool and earnest monster. Big whoop. His fantasy that a basic income will free people to all become entrepreneurs is actually horrifying, even if it worked, which it never would.

          Reply
        4. BlakeFelix

          The reason is because it’s elegant. If I give you $1000 a month you are better off. If I offer you a job for $1000 a month you are very likely no better off. You have opportunity costs that may easily exceed the income. And honestly, people who can’t find any work in this economy are often hard to employ for some reason, maybe they have a caregiver role, or are disagreeable or whatever. And I mean honestly I don’t trust our government to be good at finding makework. You would likely as not be getting $10 an hour to hunt immigrants hunger games style…

          Reply
    4. divadab

      “The Iowa Democratic Party is in such revolt, and not just against incompetence but “fraud” and “cronyism,” that Price had to resign.”

      Price was chair of Hillary’s 2016 campaign in Iowa. Incompetence, fraud, and cronyism indeed!

      Reply
      1. Dave

        Forest City is my hometown. Still have people that farm around there. I have an aunt and uncle in Mason City. Stay warm. It is 31 here in south central PA also, wife loves it.

        Reply
          1. orlbucfan

            It’s a cool 69 here in Orlando, FL. I am not ready for endless summer, irregardless of climate change. I’ve lived here for over half a century, too. :-(

            Reply
          2. Dave

            Well, I wanted to move there, even flew out to walk through a couple of houses. However…. the grandkids are here. Need I say more.

            Reply
    1. Dave

      Sounds okay to me. Too bad it isn’t going to last. I am dogsledding in the Boundary Waters area the end of next week, and weather.com says a heat wave is coming…..

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        Too far inland seems too suffer the freeze more. So that would indicate that the oceans are now so warm that they warm the coastal cities as well as flood them and they continue to warm inland (Paris – which also has the benefit of the Seine river to warm them?). But the bulk of civilization which lives inland is not benefiting from ocean breezes. And the same phenomenon, only vertical, is happening at high altitudes – you can forget a warm breeze if you live at 7,000 ft. until at least June – but if you are a bit lower, say 4,000 ft in the Alps, you are warming enough to melt any snow accumulation. One could almost make a prediction from this picture that coastlines and inland for 100 miles will be a mixed bag, mostly warming; more inland and at higher elevations we will actually get a colder climate. Maybe.

        Reply
    2. Phacops

      The yet unfrozen Lake Michigan near us is keeping temps to a balmy 9 F. Enjoyed the snow and skied at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore this morning. Cross-country skiing keeps one warm with minimal clothing!

      Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      In the TV series “The Lone Gunmen” which was a spin-off from “X-Files”, the pilot episode had-

      ‘…rogue members of the U.S. government remotely hijack an airliner departing Boston, planning to crash it into the World Trade Center, and let anti-American terrorist groups take credit, to gain support for a new profitable war following the Cold War. The heroes ultimately override the controls, foiling the plot. The episode aired six months prior to the September 11 attacks.’

      Reply
      1. Pat

        And then there were the video games…

        Airplanes as missiles were recognized as a threat enough so that anti-aircraft guns were part of the security for the G8 conference Bush attended in July 2001.

        Reply
        1. BlakeFelix

          And nuke reactors have been built so you can bounce a 747 off them as the standard to my understanding. Doesn’t help them compete on price, but what are you going to do…

          Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy has a jet crash theme, with the target in DC instead of NYC.

        He also wrote The Sum Of All Fears about a dirty bomb, so ahead of the curve in potential scary terrorist actions.

        Reply
  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, J-LS.

    Further to Epstein, there’s a former bank / squid CEO, who recently went after Bernie, who’s worthy of investigation. Staley’s wife is Brazilian. Her peers have Miami and Caribbean bolt holes and, as many share communal links with Epstein and Maxwell, are on the same social and business circuit. About a decade ago, there were rumours in London of City and Wall Street rings. Epstein was never mentioned in connection with them.

    Further to Brexit, my former colleagues at the banking trade association caught up with the European Central Bank last week. You may have heard their CEO lobby for regulatory alignment with the EU soon after. The ECB informed them they were puzzled at the pace and substance of repatriation to the EU / migration from London, but understood that these things take time and implied that they need to scale up their expertise, so, after the current transition period, another year or so of regulatory forbearance are in order before a crackdown. Although investor protection rules mandate an EU base, EU member states differ in their approach to third country providers. Some states allow or turn a blind eye to third country firms if they stick to institutional business and avoid retail clients. However, the ECB and Commission, over the decade wish to tighten access and harmonise host country approaches.

    Three EU27 firms have approached me in the past week for work in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris. I am not suitable for what they propose. I asked why they were recruiting in London and, post transition, about immigration complications arising if there’s no deal or, as it is spun in London, an Australia deal. The trio replied that a pool of recruits not available before is now available to smaller financial centres and employers no longer need to match London salaries. At my own basket case, the Dublin base is being scaled up, in part due to linguistic and legal advantages. However, leadership positions are going “home”, in the main, and, in some cases, NYC and Paris. Technology positions are often going to Hong Kong and Singapore.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks Col., that’s interesting about the finance market. I’ve not been checking on it for some time, but I get the impression that rather than ‘migrating’ as a unit from London, many companies/sectors are opting for a wider dispersion of their functions worldwide. I wonder if concerns over HK and China now mean that the financial sector sees that the advantages of geographical concentration are now becoming disadvantages, and they see dispersal of their functions as being more resilient.

      Meanwhile, the office commercial market in Dublin is red hot, although its mostly due to incomers from the IT sector, not finance. From rumours some foreign companies are looking at smaller Irish cities/towns as cheaper options, for those determined to stay in the Anglosphere.

      Reply
        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Ignacio.

          It does, but the system is breaking down / getting balkanised anyway.

          There are also loopholes to be exploited, including regulators who are not up to speed with the more complex stuff.

          The increase in compliance costs can be, in part, off set by not having to pay London salaries.

          Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a question far beyond my pay grade and expertise, but I suspect it would make things much more difficult.

          I visited the Irish Central Bank offices a few months back – they are massively staffing up (not just for Brexit) and it was obvious from what they were saying there that they are still trying to work out quite basic questions about who regulates what in a European context, let alone a worldwide one. What happens with a bank with a head office in Dublin, most of its traders in London, and its IT in Singapore? I wish I knew the answer.

          Reply
          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, PK.

            You aren’t the only one.

            Further to your scenario, the booking centre for trades may be in another location. All this is supposed to be resolved over a week-end if the bank is restructured, whether broken up and / or wound down.

            As Mervyn King said a decade ago, “Banks are international in life, but national in death.”

            Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        Your impression of a dispersion and the need to ensure resilience is correct. The latter point predates concerns about HK and China. It’s also political / PR.

        It was expected that some of the functions, mainly middle and back office, that don’t go to Dublin from London (and Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast and Newcastle) would go to Poland and India, but some have gone to Jacksonville, Santa Ana and, further afield, Manila. There’s competition for staff in Warsaw and Cracow, but Polish regulators are also tough.

        Dublin is getting busy and expensive. Citigroup and Bank of America are hiring en masse there.

        Reply
    2. paul

      Are you beaming with pride, as most english voters must be, at the diversity of the newly announced front bench?
      I’m not sure many of their ancestors cried ‘for england and st george’.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Paul. I like it.

        My parents and I wonder about that, too.

        The only person who’s talked about / around it is a colleague of Indian origin.

        If one starts from the top of the tree, Lillibet and her consort, and descends to the great offices of state, there’s no evidence of “taking back control” or being governed by people who learnt how to beat the French on the playing fields of Eton. Even the land of my ancestors gets a look in with Suella Braverman.

        Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Tom.

      Tea? Winston Churchill sipped Pol Roger in his pjs, especially if Gabrielle Chanel was around.

      Tea? What is the world coming to!

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Heavens to Murgatroyd Colonel! Before lunch? What sort of work ethic is that? (America was well and truly on the Path to Perdition when the Three Martini Lunch eventually became the One and a Half Martini Lunch, per the IRS.)
        See: https://www.grbj.com/articles/print/88729-is-that-business-lunch-of-yours-tax-deductible
        I still remember with affection some of my late Dad’s stories about the weekly internal company ‘Cocktail Party Lunches’ he participated in when he worked at a large American chemical company. [He was in the mechanical design department.]

        Reply
        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Ambrit.

          It’s a pity that, as this century “progressed”, long and liquid lunches ceased to be de rigueur in the City of London. There are two gyms within a stone’s throw of my office. There are hardly any greasy spoons left. At this rate, we’ll be like NYC before the decade is out. No, thank you.

          As a Catholic, I don’t subscribe to the Protestant work ethic :-).

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Greetings Colonel.
            I married a New Orleans Catholic girl myself. There is a real clash of cultures hiding in there somewhere.
            As for the dreaded Protestant Work Ethic, well, there was always a tension between the idealists, as in “Rugged Yeomen Artisans” and the pragmatists, as in “Ragged Wage Toilers.” I think that we all here know how that ‘friendly competition’ turned out.
            I have had the thought that much of that gymnasium work is in preparation for outrunning angry mobs.
            I hope that the gee-gees treat you well this season.

            Reply
            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Ambrit.

              I visit Louisiana every few years and, especially, enjoy the rural and sometimes francophone part and the races. The state has produced some fine horsemen. It feels like Mauritius.

              Off to Deauville in a fortnight for the races. This season, it appears that Godolphin / Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum has some good prospects for the classics, e.g. Earthlight and Victor Ludorum in France and Pinatubo in England.

              Enable and Waldgeist have stayed in training, so the older horses will have their say. We could be in for a good season.

              I hope your wife and you are OK. Have a nice week-end.

              Reply
          1. ambrit

            Yes. We do ‘cherry pick’ our memories. I know that i do. I catch myself at it all the time. Now with the amyloid plaques building up in the cerebral mass, an extra layer of complexity is being simultaneously added and removed from my cognition experiences. I do hope I do not ‘transition’ too quickly into the amyloid beta testing phase.
            I’ll get back to you when I can remember to do so.

            Reply
    2. diptherio

      Here in NW Montana we are still awaiting the arrival of winter, and wondering if it will get here before spring…it’s not looking like it.

      Reply
      1. Janie

        Likewise in Oregon. A few miles south of the 45th parallel we have daffs blooming, fruit and almond blossoms about to open and calendula and candytuft never quit. Cane berries have begun leafing out. Dandelions are puffing away.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          We’re neighbors. Yes,definitely spring here. Roses leafing out, too. A couple of good freezes back in the fall, but a very easy winter since then. River hasn’t been out of its banks, either (knock wood).

          Reply
      2. inode_buddha

        6F (-14c) and a few more inches of snow (say, 6 inches or 150mm total for the week) just north of Buffalo here. No worries, it’s definitely winter.

        Reply
  4. Colonel Smithers

    File under it could not happen to a nicer person, all’s fair in love and war and RUSSIA, RUSSIA:

    https://www.francetvinfo.fr/politique/la-republique-en-marche/le-candidat-lrem-benjamin-griveaux-retire-sa-candidature-a-la-mairie-de-paris-apres-la-diffusion-sur-internet-de-videos-et-d-echanges-a-caractere-sexuel-non-authentifies_3825783.html

    If only the British Left could grow a pair and fight back in similar “style”.

    A bon entendeur :-).

    One looks forward to NC’s French contingent chiming in.

    Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Olga. Enjoy. What’s German for schadenfreude? :-)

        I won’t shed tears for neo liberal and neo con “racaille”.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      As soon as I read in Olga’s RT linked article where it said ‘a self-exiled Russian shock artist’ I knew exactly who that would be – one Pyotr Pavlensky. He is the guy that nailed his scrotum to the ground at Red Square, once sewed his lips together and also set fire to a bank in France. I could almost hear the mirth in the Colonel’s comment here and no wonder. Must be birds of a feather or something.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Pavlensky

      Reply
      1. MLTPB

        I don’t think the shock artist had anything to do with three people in Russia trying to escape from a quarantine facility there though?

        Reply
      2. Susan the other

        The comments last nite on F24-Debate (by Christopher Dickey et. al.) were that Pavlensky was closer to a Russian dissident prankster – but that he had ties via an attorney to Melanchon (Sp?). So a prankster is good cover for a political trick. Poor little Manu.

        Reply
    2. David

      Oh yes, this is a real corker for anyone who likes watching slow-motion political car-crashes involving quite unpleasant and ambitious people. It’s also um, amusing, that the person who leaked photos of Griveaux allegedly engaging in a self-imaged onanistic episode, which he had apparently sent to his paramour with an explicit commentary, turns out to be a Russian self-styled political exile and performance artist, who was kicked out of Russia for trying to burn down the Lubyanka for artistic reasons, and more recently given a suspended sentence for trying to burn down the Banque de France, again in pursuit of his Art. Some things you wouldn’t even try to make up.
      But I’d be failing in my duty to the commentariat if I didn’t make a couple of more serious background points. Griveaux is an ex-Socialist, who like many of his ilk rushed off to join Macron’s mob in 2015 before his own party fell apart in the 2017 elections. Fiercely ambitious, he was Macron’s official spokesman until last year when he decided he wanted to be Mayor of Paris. Unfortunately, the committee of investiture chose somebody else to be the official candidate, so there have in fact been two rival LREM candidates for the forthcoming elections. His campaign has been, politely, a mess. He’s not from Paris (almost no French politicians are) and his two big ideas were (1) lending people €100,000 to enable them to buy property in a Paris which is now unaffordable, which of course would simply have put prices up even further, and (2) knocking down the just-renovated Gare de l’Est to make a “Parisian Central Park”, without realising that regional express lines and the future direct link to the airport go through there. Clever, that. He was trailing badly in the polls and unlikely to win anyway.
      More importantly, the municipal elections on 15 March are a real headache for Macron. His party is a top-down Leninist organisation, whose original name was a play on his initials (EM). French politics begins at local level, and most major politicians have a power-base as mayor of a town or city, from which they move to regional and then national politics. Macron came out of nowhere, and neither he or his party has any real local base, in a country where local is important. The LREM have been trying to find candidates, but it’s not clear that Macron’s name and appeals for new thinking (which were the only reason his party won the 2017 parliamentary elections) have much resonance at local level. Many communes, especially the smaller ones, are run by Mayors with no particular political affiliation, but who are popular with the local community. The municipals are not looking good for the LREM at the moment, according to both published and leaked private polls, and they will inevitably be seen as a judgement of sorts on nearly three years of Macron’s rule. Stay tuned around Sunday 15 March to see what precisely happens.
      Paris would have been a big prize for Macron, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get it. Ann Hidalgo, the current (Socialist) mayor is leading, and Rachida Dati, a crony of Sarkozy, is in second place. Pundits are now mulling over whether this is a sign that the traditional Left and Right still have life in them. If they do it’s bad news for Macron, who has been trying to provoke a 2022 competition between himself and Le Pen again, which he expects to win. The trouble is that his party is basically an admiration society, and he won’t tolerate rivals. There’s been a steady trickle of deputies leaving his party (French party discipline is notoriously lax) and he may lose his parliamentary majority before 2022, if the same deputies who opportunistically joined him decide to opportunistically leave.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Merci, David.

        Dati, eh?! I see her former beau (and Zohra’s father?), Dominic Desseigne of Lucien Barriere, at the races in Deauville and, even, Mauritius. One of my fellow turfistes, an elderly woman, wonders why he always dresses in his pjs, so different from the France Galop hierarchy.

        Reply
      2. marcel

        Two small corrections, if I may.
        1. B. Griveaux was the official LREM candidate, and C. Villani was kicked out of the party for running against the official candidate.
        2. Your picture of LREM, Macron and the upcoming elections is an apt description. Macron would like to get a foothold, but a city like Nantes or Lille wouldn’t mean a thing (5th and 6th largest cities). Their strategy was
        a/ ‘conquer’ Paris and
        b/ get 10 000 LREM-affiliated candidates elected (France has >35000 municipalities, more than the rest of EU combined!)

        Option a/ was impossible with Griveaux. Was he outed by his own, to get a ‘better’ replacement? (it seems the mistress that got the original video was working at the Elysée). Pass the popcorn.

        Reply
        1. David

          Yes, you’re right about Griveaux being the official candidate: that’s what comes from relying on your memory rather than checking first.
          So far today the French media seems to think that this is a genuine piece of happenstance from outside, rather than a conspiracy from within. Certainly, LREM seem absolutely devastated and there is no agreement on what to do next (several candidates have already thrown their hat in the ring). If it’s an inside manoeuvre it’s very clumsy, but then with Macron that would not be surprising. Ten thousand councillors sounds a lot, but the latest count is 550,000 in France as a whole. Even then, LREM are not contesting a number of towns and cities because they can’t find the candidates, and even where they are there are feuds, jealousies and backstabbing. Some “marcheurs” are standing as part of lists organised by other parties, and some are standing as independents, afraid that the Macron label will be toxic. All in all not very promising, but par for the course for a largely artificial party.

          Reply
      3. Bugs Bunny

        Two former LREM ministers, Gérald Darmanin and Nicolas Hulot were both accused of sexual harassment and Darmarin, rape. He also frequented Les Chandelles, a notorious swingers club.

        A Poli Sci professor I once had told me that nearly every politician he’d ever met was not someone you would want in your home. He also was an acquaintance of the Clintons and I think about this comment often.

        Reply
        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I hope that you are correct David in that the Left are finally getting it together, so as to avoid the anything but Le Pen repeat scenario & then Macron & his ilk can like a flash in the pan be flushed away to where they truly belong..

          My Parisienne friend is cautiously optimistic.

          Reply
          1. David

            TBH it’s less that the Left are getting it together (that’ll be the day, he said, sighing) than that the Macron start-up may be starting to break down. But it won’t necessarily be the Left that benefits if that happens. Paris is special – the HQ of the whole of the PMC, and it voted overwhelmingly for Macron in 2017. Elsewhere, in spite of lists allegedly being prepared by various vaguely aligned groups, it may be the RN that benefit.

            Reply
    3. Olivier

      Assuming the pictures are indeed of him they would confirm the well-known vulgarity of the personnage. Personally I think it is healthy they were made public.

      Reply
  5. paul

    While I would never dream of commenting on US domestic politics…

    ..I am glad such foreign boneheads willfully spout about ours.

    Beyond the date of publication, practically everything about the article is a lie.

    Azeem Ibrahim is a research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College and a director at the Center for Global Policy in Washington.

    We have our problems, but ‘mister professor’ is highly unlikely to find any use with us.

    Reply
  6. JohnnySacks

    What Katy didn’t realize was that there was a government scheme that meant that—as a teacher—she was eligible to write off the remainder of her loan if she paid 120 consecutive payments on time.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one, the poor woman is struggling and ‘all’ she has to do is make 10 years of payments on time? Sad and angry, at whatever usury APR, she probably has paid back the original principle by then anyways.

    Reply
    1. Bill Carson

      I agree. The 120-ontime-payment scheme is downright sadist. Heaven forbid you inadvertently miss an arbitrary payment cutoff time.

      Reply
  7. Toshiro_Mifune

    From White House quietly trims dozens of national security experts;

    Trump “has a high degree of paranoia that he has a bloated National Security Council full of deep-state minders who are there to undermine him, not to fulfill his national security policy,

    Well, yes. That’s not really paranoia so much as accurate observation.

    Reply
    1. mle detroit

      Agreed. We’re paying for 350 of them working for the NSC alone? Do we really need that much weight in our security blanket?

      Reply
  8. Colonel Smithers

    Further to Brexit, I forgot to add that German regulators will soon review the arrangements between us at the London Branch and Frankfurt HQ, including why so much activity and leadership remains in London and how sustainable, even desirable, that is.

    Sadly, our former employee Sajid Javid is no longer at Number 11 Downing Street to intervene on our behalf. The squid has got its man at Number 11, alongside its man at Threadneedle Street. Presumably, this is what “taking back control” means.

    Reply
      1. polecat

        As per Matt Taibi, a Vampier-like WallStreet mollusk .. sporting a blood funnel, rapaciously sucking everything of value in it’s path !

        However, I’m not sure if the Colonel is referring to that particular species ….
        Maybe a Cult ivar though.

        Reply
      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        Squid = giant vampire squid = Goldman Sachs. Copyright = Matt Taibbi. Please see my above comment about Epstein.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Thank you, colonel. I had read your comment above, which didn’t really clarify, though I guessed it was bank related. And I read Taibbi’s article. While I like both his content and style, I still wonder about the ‘vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.’
          According to aquariumofpacific.org, “Vampire squid are detritivores, they are the only known living cephalopod that does not catch and eat live animals for food. They eat “marine snow”, detritus that consists of bits of dead planktonic creatures and fecal pellets. They drift along with one filament deployed until contact with food is made, then swim around the food until it is caught. They combine the detritus with mucus from their suckers to make a ball of food, then transfer it to their beaks and eat it.”
          Does Taibbi mean to imply that humanity is mere detritus, the terrestrial equivalent of fecal pellets? I rather doubt it, even if Goldmann is proud to take such a view.
          https://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/vampire_squid

          Reply
          1. Eclair

            I do think we could go somewhere meme-like with the image conjured up by your phrase: ” …combine the detritus with mucus from their suckers to make a ball of food, then transfer it to their beaks and eat it.”

            Reply
          2. shtove

            I suppose, strictly, money is the detritus.

            In this week’s podcast his co-host came up with the term “pundemonium” to describe her off-the-cuff political wit. Me likes it.

            Reply
            1. polecat

              And who doesn’t enjoy their mucousoidal pleasures of encasing the plebs into sticky financial packets to be CONsumed again and again.. to lastly be sh@t out as ‘detrius’ .. then Wall$treet !

              Tiabbi was Brilliant .. in that the subject of his metaphor was not harmed in any way.

              Still waiting on the Banksters comeuppance, however.

              Reply
    1. Phenix

      Hopefully Sanders’ supporters will use pen and paper just to make sure. They are not polling Nevada yet….this will leave a lot of room for last minute movement.

      But I do not see how they can try to steal this one. Bernie has the youth and Latino votes locked.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        it won’t stop them from trying to steal it. so far it has worked for them to the extent of denying a sanders victory in iowa. pen and paper, the disruptive new technology that is transforming the election tech field! be the first one on your block to try it!

        Reply
      2. lordkoos

        Don’t underestimate the forces against Sanders. Who counts the votes is as important as who votes.

        Exit polls need to make a reappearance.

        Reply
        1. Cuibono

          There simply is no way around this problem IMO. Exit polls might help is some small way but ultimately the DNC can apparently do whatever it wants with some impunity.
          It might implode down the road to be sure but likely wont. American business is too dependent on the 2 party charade to let that one go away easily. Unless we are at the point in time when they are ready to start rounding folks up…

          Reply
        2. Monty

          Even if he wins the primary, and then beats Trump, he still has to work with these people who are not on-board the good ship Sanders.

          Hostile media + hostile congress + hostile financial sector != Good times.

          Reply
        3. Biph

          FTR Nevada has early caucus voting this weekend. I’m not sure how it works, but I will hopefully find out when I do so tomorrow. I went to the caucuses in 08 and 16 this is the first time I’ve heard about the early voting for the caucuses.

          Reply
  9. zagonostra

    RIP Rutger Hauer

    Having grown up in my youth on classic SciFi literature (Heinlein, Asimov, Norman Spinrad, Sturgeon, Spider Robinson etc), and always pointing to Blade Runner as one of the best SciFi, along with Solaris, it is sad to hear that Hauer passed away. It is also interesting to note that Siskel and Ebert trashed it when it first premiered.

    https://www.greanvillepost.com/2020/02/12/blade-runner-cinema-poetry-roy-battys-tears-in-the-rain/

    Reply
    1. paul

      He died last year, had a place in gronigen, when I last visited.
      Everyone said he was a nice down to earth guy which, coming from netherlanders, means very nice.
      He elevated ‘the hitcher’ and enriched ‘soldier of orange’.
      His personal fave was ‘the ballad of the holy drinker’, but i’m a little scared of that one.
      He was far more than just roy batty.

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        Yes he was more than that. I had a lot of sympathy for some of his performances including Roy. When acting he could easily overcome his… how could I say it without being politically incorrect… excessively Aryan look. His presence was always dominating in the screen. Magnetic. Farewell to Rutger Hauer.

        Reply
        1. paul

          Considering the netherlander’s hatred of the germans, perhaps due to their abjection at that time, he did OK.
          The people that did question ,verhoven (kicked out after spetters) being the greatest in my opinion, got very short shrift.
          But are now lions.
          Does time heal, or just erode?

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            It’s the timelessness worth of your work. I happen to like WW2 movies, and they come in all flavors with the ones made during the war being a 1-decided affair with us always victorious or getting there, and our foes have have fatal flaws coming.

            Ones made after the war are more introspective and delve deeper on the duopoly of dueling to the death, and eventually the genre went limp after the best damn sub film Das Boot, only to be revived by CGI towards the end of the century.

            One of my favorites is Verhoven’s Soldier Of Orange.

            A cat & mouse thriller with very capable Nazis pitted against Hauer and the Dutch resistance.

            Reply
            1. paul

              I’ve got sam fuller’s ‘steel helmet’ sitting beside the tv.
              If it’s half as good as the house of bamboo, I will be, if not just entertained, very happy.

              Reply
          2. Susan the other

            Agree. Das Boot was so indelible I still remember many scenes in living color and the dialog as well. I always flash back on the crew singing “Das Tipperary Song.” And other scenes. And I thought Rutger Hauer stole the movie Blade Runner (also an unforgettable film).

            Reply
      2. shtove

        ‘the ballad of the holy drinker’

        Legend, yes? Looks interesting. It is now 2087 on my IMDb watchlist. I shall get to it!

        Reply
        1. witters

          Yes, Legend. Joseph Roth novel. Should be better known. Extraordinary novelist and had an unlucky death when a tree fell on him.

          Reply
  10. caucus99percenter

    The Somalia–locusts link is malformed — it links back to the NC site and causes it to look for a non-existent page.

    Reply
  11. Olga

    Assange Extradition: Blatant Judicial Double Standards Off Guardian (chuck l)
    Hypocrisy and double standard are mild words for these cases.
    Here is more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-51415005
    “Judges said the extradition would have been contrary to the couple’s human rights under UK law as the penalty for double murder in Gujarat is life in prison without parole.”
    This is in a case of a child’s murder (and his brother)!
    There is one more case – the US refusal to extradite to the UK a woman (presumed CIA), who killed a boy in a car accident.
    But could Assange’s lawyers use it as precedent?

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      The point is, for Empire there are no “precedents.” They do whatever they damn please!

      Rights only exist where thy can be enforced.

      Besides, I learned law school that for every precedent and principle, there is an inverse. Hence the lawyer jokes where the punch line is “What do you want the answer to be?”

      Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      ah but assange committed an even more heinous act of telling the truth. one has to draw the line somewhere. the powers that be don’t care about precedent or truth, they just care about control, and the british legal system has rolled over dutifully.

      Reply
    3. paul

      Any close or distant familiarisation with international relations forces you believe might creates right.
      What that right is, is poorly explained.

      Reply
    4. Basil Pesto

      this is actually European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence. Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole falls foul of Article 3 – prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This is law in the UK by dint of the Human Rights Act, which codifies the EConventionHR domestically. States party to the convention cannot extradite someone to a country knowing that their ECHR protections will likely be contravened.

      I’d be surprised if Assange’s lawyers weren’t considering this article for his current treatment, or indeed Article 6 – Right to Fair Trial as grounds for preventing his extradition to the US.

      Reply
  12. ambrit

    The US military is indeed ‘prepping’ for the corona virus. there was an item the other day about a group of suspected infected persons in the American Southwest being quarantined at an Army base in San Antonio. The base was specifically described as a quarantine site.
    More later if I can re-find the link.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      From that Military Times article:

      “which include voluntarily remaining at home, limiting close contact with people and animals, self-monitoring and seeking medical care if symptoms develop.”

      Why would the CDC be advising to avoid close contact with animals? I have not seen that before. Has there been human to animal transmission?

      Reply
      1. polecat

        I just don’t see what the fuss is about. I always give my bats, civets, and pangolins a hug and a big wet kiss before closing up their paddock for the night .. along with the porkers and fowl. So my RNA Bases are fully under covered.

        Reply
          1. polecat

            Only works if you light your exhalings with a Bic ! .. with hands ‘palm forward’, facing impromptu flame thrower.

            Reply
    2. QuarterBack

      The U.S. military, and the Army in particular, are probably the most trained, equipped, and capable organizations in the Government to respond should the severity escalate. If mass infection occurs, large field hospitals will need to be set up on short notice. They will also need to be staffed and equipped. The Army regularly trains for bio warfare scenarios that require extensive mobility and personnel trained and equipped with protective gear and practices. If such a crisis occurs, you’ll want to be able to focus leadership attention on fighting the disease and bringing the best civilian and military medical personnel to where they will be needed instead of being bogged down in the logistics.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        But WHO gets the short-straw to lay in the trenches ??

        What better way to get rid of undesirables (choose one or many) .. then to confine them to a sealed Panopticon of BioHell !

        Reply
        1. MLTPB

          Seems to be me to be better to have a plan, to be prepared than otherwise.

          Of course, execution is a different matter, so there will be opportunities for critics. But timely criticism packs more punch than doing it prematurely.

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Maybe “most trained and equipped,” but I’d not put a huge store in the effectiveness of our all-volunteer troops, when it comes to the very careful precautions and behaviors that are necessary to avoid just making a bad situation worse. No doubt the training I got in Army Basic in 1966 is vastly out of date, but back then you got a run through the “gas chamber,” https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/gas-chamber-surviving-basic-training.html, which has not appreciably changed since then. We learned to use our gas masks, mostly useful in crowd-control just like our militarized cops. When it came to chemical attack, there was this little depression about the size of a coffin in the dirt of the training area, surrounded by sandbags. On the cry of “Chemical Attack!” you were supposed to unroll your poncho (pre-positioned on your fanny pack) step on one short edge, stretch it up over your head, and fall back into the depression with the poncho covering you. This was supposed to protect against contact with droplets of nerve agents. The consensus was it was just to make it convenient to collect the corpses. We barely got any biological training at all, the implicit notion of the time being that no one would dare contravene “international law” because it would bring pretty fierce retribution.

        Not counting on the broke-dick mess of an Imperial military to be able to contain an “Outbreak…“

        Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        One of Wayne Morse’s virtues was that, by annoying the rest of the Senate, he insured that there are hardly any military facilities in Oregon – the only one is an ammunition storage way out in the east (right by I-84, so we’ve seen it.)

        There’s a very old quarantine facility near Astoria, though. I doubt it’s habitable.

        Reply
    3. Greg Marquez

      Just passed a column of military trucks led by 2 Red Cross labeled ambulances on the way to San Diego. May be just a coincidence.

      Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      to call Joker “subtle, interesting and thoughtful” is indeed an… interesting take. I thought it was cynical trash, possibly aimed at Jordan Peterson stans but who knows. In its ability to elude concrete readings (not that that would appeal to me either, I generally disdain “””social commentary””” in art), in trying to appear to “say something” but not really saying anything, its cynicism is on naked display, revealing it to be precisely what it is (and is desperate to appear not to be): a moneymaking franchise film.

      Although, it might be said that the reaction to the film, in a way, is more interesting than the film itself.

      Reply
      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Ha! Yes, it was cynical! Fleck was motivated by his own self interest because no one else was interested in. So what’s wrong with that? When no one cares about you, you are the only person left to care, and that leads to cynicism.

        So you can lump capitalism in with cynicism, ok? Because it is all about self interest, buyer beware and all that.

        I found the film a retrospective of my life for the most part and if it was not for my spiritual side I would have been a whole bunch of trouble. So it is just art mimicking reality to me. I hate Peterson by the way, so no idea where I fit in with your metal paradigm of the world. See Peterson thinks this cynicism is normal, “care about yourself because no one else will care about you”. It is the end result of a traumatic childhood which I am sure Peterson is hiding from the world in his biography.

        Reply
      2. shtove

        For me the story started off in too low a gear – they should have revved it up to the point where Life Is A Joke became a universal mantra, and then set Joker off on turbo.

        The most enjoyable part was being reminded of Sinatra’s genius for hitting unexpected notes that are just right. The inclusion of a Gary Glitter anthem gave me a jolt. And the take-away line was nicked from Bob Monkhouse, I believe: “They’re not laughing now …”

        Reply
      3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        IDK I found Joker made me feel the same way I felt when I saw Requiem for a Dream. IOW depressed and sad.

        Like a slowly happening Trainwreck.

        I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I was revolted by the way society treated Fleck. Sort of like I, Daniel Blake and Falling Down.

        Plus! Todd Phillips directed it! He of Old School, Road Trip, Hangover, Due Date fame…

        Reply
    2. Romancing The Loan

      I liked Joker quite a bit. The theme of Wayne and the rest sowing the seeds of their own destruction through their careless and self-congratulatory greed was a nice reversal of the usual Batman tropes – which are awfully silly when considered straight on. And some lovely cinematography.

      The movie that did win this year, Parasite, is also class-themed, but probably because it’s not set in the U.S. it doesn’t get this sort of weird angry reaction.

      Reply
      1. Krystyn Walentka

        To me, Parasite was much more subtle in some ways than Joker was. Plus, for most Americans, Asians are “other” so they will not identify with the struggle and impulses as much.

        I liked how Parasite because it displayed the “temporarily embarrassed millionaire” syndrome. even after killing all those people they were still hopeful of becoming rich.

        Reply
        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Agreed.

          Parasite was the best movie of the year. S Korea and especially Bong Joon Hi have been putting out some of the best movies in the world recently.

          I even boldly picked it in my family’s annual Oscar Ballot Prediction Contest. I got 15, Mom 9, and Sister 7.

          Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “AP Explains: Why Syria’s M5 is Assad’s highway to victory”

    Good explanatory article this. After the Syrian Army took Saraqib, they were able to roll up the flanks by following the M5 highway north. There is another intriguing possibility of happening and that is the Syrians following the M4 highway. It also goes through Saraqib and goes west to Latakia. If the Syrians could do that, then any Jihadist forces south of this line would be trapped in what the Russians call a cauldron. Not a place where you could do your happy-dance in.

    That may be why the Turks have sent so many men and equipment down south – in a bid to prevent this from happening. The Turks sent a convoy of tanks and other gear to the Jihadists the other day but someone – either the Russian or the Syrians – turned that convoy to toast. A second Syrian helicopter has now been shot down by a manpad so it looks like the Turks have decided that there is no problem arming Jihadists with manpads. No blowback there.

    https://syria.liveuamap.com/

    Reply
  14. Olga

    Not finding the NYT article this refers to, but still (as was suspected):
    https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/14/618645/Soleimani-assassinated-to-sabotage-peace-talks
    “According to the Times, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on October during a trip to Israel where he was briefed on Iran’s attempted de-escalation talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Cohen warned Pompeo that Tehran was effectively on the verge of achieving its “primary goal” of breaking up the so-called “anti-Iran” alliance.”
    No, we cannot have a reduction in tensions, or G-forbid, peace breaking out, no way!

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      One of the many corporations now housed in the newly acquired Palestinian territories is one American Israeli Petroleum.

      Reply
  15. QuarterBack

    Re the “This is what panic looks like” article, I was amused by the chutzpah of Lloyd Blankfein referring to himself in his Tweet as a “retiree”.

    Blankfein is less representative of a “retiree”, or an “American Voter” than Elizabeth Warren has Native American DNA.

    Reply
    1. Carl

      A brief anecdote: I saw Pat Metheny live in concert several times during the late 80s-early 90s. The first few times Lyle was playing with the band, the last time, he wasn’t, but it took two keyboardists to replace him.
      I’ll miss his work.

      Reply
      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Oh that is sad news to lose someone responsible for adding much in the way magic to my & probably many others lives. His work with Pat from the 80’s until he left resulted IMO to some incredible music, with ” Secret Story ” being my all time favourite album in that musical genre.

        Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Pat was gracious in his concert comments and acknowledgements of Lyle’s profound contributions. Will miss that talent. I was hooked from the beginning as I got very lucky right away and found a second row seat from which to see and hear the amazing skills at play.

        Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    “What’s Behind Warren’s Weak Start”

    Americans might chime in here to differ but I have a theory why. When voters are faced with a choice between a real Republican and a Democrat that holds Republican views, then they will often choose the real thing instead of the Republican-Lite. Several weeks ago the media branded both Sanders and Warren as the Progressives in this run.

    My theory is that voters know that Sanders is the real deal whereas Warren is like your Progressive-Lite. Here in Oz I would call her the Clayton’s Progressive – the Progressive that you have when you′re not having a Progressive. So naturally voters are going for the real thing which in this case is Bernie leaving Warren to fall behind.

    Reply
    1. Bill Carson

      Yep. Warren was positioned as the bridge between Bernie and the mainstream Dems, but Bernie’s base was already frustrated by Warren’s lack of commitment in ’16. I think it is fair to speculate that the DNC does not fully trust Warren, either, as she has always had this sort of professorial squirrelliness about her.

      Reply
          1. Dr. John Carpenter

            All unforced errors, as far as I can see. Seems to me if she simply had convictions and held to them, she’d have been OK.

            I also agree that 2016 could have been her year.

            Reply
        1. jrs

          It’s endearing in a way though. She lies like a bad liar, like she can’t fully pull it off, like she feels bad about it, but can’t help herself. Bad liars get caught in their own lies, good liars tend to be extremely successful, masters of full blown sociopathy.

          Reply
    2. Toshiro_Mifune

      Warren is …Progressive-Lite

      As a `merican, that’s pretty accurate. Warren’s best chance was to have run in 2016.

      Reply
    1. Dan

      This is great, thank you. I think constant ridicule combined with appeals to conscience are the best way to get people to see the light.

      Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        I enjoyed that article too, but I’m not sure whether you’re being sarcastic in your comment. Speaking seriously, ridicule is one of the least effective ways to change minds–at least of those you ridicule. The currently popular totalitarian kind of ridicule that is backed up with overwhelming social pressure and exclusion may seem to work, but even if that succeeds in changing behavior, it doesn’t necessarily change minds.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          I’m not talking about ridiculing a specific individual, I’m talking about ridiculing the system we live under. Just as the article did. That said, I have no problem ridiculing uber-wealthy elites. The point of ridicule isn’t to change the minds of the sociopaths you’re ridiculing, it’s to jolt the masses into seeing the absurdity of the “normalcy” we live under, a normalcy created and maintained by said elites in their interest.

          Reply
  17. pretzelattack

    krystal ball had a good take on warren’s failure* in yesterday’s rising show.

    *yeah, klobuchar came back from the dead, but she has more neoliberal support. warren was only ever useful as a stopgap to weaken bernie, and now with bloomberg and her failures in iowa and new hampshire they don’t need her.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      I will say though that she seems to have far more popular support here in California than Pete, Klobuchar, Biden, or Bloomberg whose support seems almost non-existent (and that’s who they call front runners). However, not as much as Sanders.

      So she holds on to national polls, where she does plausibly well, and stuff like that probably, but it’s not necessarily enough, or for one of the candidates to stumble irreparably.

      Reply
    1. Pat

      That may be the plan, but considering how well the plans of the Democratic mind trust work out, they are going to be sadly mistaken.

      I also do not think Bloomberg is going to do as well as he and they think. Remember how Biden was leading in Iowa until he wasn’t.

      Reply
    2. flora

      He has a good point… if the ‘lesser of two evils’ can still pull in all the Dem base voters. I’m not sure it can — not after 25 years of Dem neoliberals helping loot Main Street. imo. The last 4 years have been an estab Dem effort to win by creating chaos and hysteria in their voters. It hasn’t worked quite the way they hoped.

      Reply
    1. polecat

      Oh look ! Someone dropped a spong iform on the filthy campaign floor .. reeking of dirty Stepsicaucus. Ring out that bleached persona .. $tat !

      Reply
  18. Jason Boxman

    Just thinking about this yesterday, as we keep automating away human beings, there cannot be any useful intelligence from the shop floor, so to speak (“The hidden design failure that’s costing consumers trillions”):

    Service failure is hidden in wrongly worded questions, broken links, and poorly trained staff; in emails not sent, phone lines that have been closed or inaccessible PDFs. In short, it’s hidden in the small, everyday failures of our services to meet the very basic needs our users have—to be able to do the thing they set out to do.

    So possible service improvements become unknowable. Not that workers necessarily are given the freedom to take the initiative and provide better service.

    Reply
    1. jcmcdonal

      I think the article is right, there are a lot of failures… And *some* of them are accidental, although I would cynically argue many are known and just not a concern. If customers have to spend 15 mins waiting on the phone, they’ll be less likely to complain, which is good. We can also set internal targets to reduce wait time (but without resources) so employees can try to reduce it via shorter conversations, and then we can cut staff.

      More interestingly though, my corporate experience says that all the management consulting firms that get brought in are exactly for “fixing” this problem, but we just all use a different definition of fixing… The employees usually want to provide a top quality service, and the other groups are there to pretend to agree while sabotaging it.

      Reply
  19. Expat2uruguay

    After reading the article here on the coronavirus and the FDA at Matt Stoller’s BIG newsletter on monopolies, I read another of his articles. The article was about concentration and predatory pricing in the movie and streaming Industries. At the end of the article was an email that a reader had sent in about Boeing. The reader is a former employee with lots of contacts still at Boeing. I think people who are following the Boeing story might be interested in reading it.

    TLDR: Letter from a former Boeing Employee appended at the bottom of this article:
    https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/coronavirus-and-concentration-should

    Reply
  20. Carolinian

    Re The Spectator–The Way We Read Now

    The novel didn’t fail us. We failed the novel.

    OK….sorry! The article doesn’t even mention the many narrative replacements such as motion pictures. And a quick scan of the new book shelf at my local library shows quite a few novels. Undoubtedly what the author means is that the serious, prestige novel has lost its role in the culture. While Catch-22 was once on everyone’s lips we are now stuck with the Hulu TV version produced by George Clooney (it’s pretty good).

    But so what? One could point out that in the 19th century heyday of the novel they were often looked down upon as popular entertainment by readers of more highbrow literature like poetry. Novels moved up in the world just as those often crude NIckelodeon two reelers did and then the former were replaced, if not totally, by the latter. It’s a process.

    Reply
  21. pretzelattack

    the worst virus is the washington virus, a particularly dangerous variant of the capitalist family of viruses due to its predatory and unregulated nature, and its unparalleled ability to destroy and subvert the white blood cells meant to weaken and destroy it. it has spread from washington over the entire world, even to china, and all treatments so far have failed to stop it–laws written by lobbyists, captured regulatory agencies, and international trade agreements have proved to be nothing more than disease vectors. it has caused unnumbered* fatalities and damaged countless lives.

    *(cause nobody is counting, and it’s difficult to separate out the factors, and people are paid to obfuscate)

    Reply
  22. rich

    Wonder who/what is on the table?

    Attending Trump’s Saturday Fundraiser Will Really Cost You Entry fee for new Trump fundraiser this weekend: $580K per couple

    President Trump has been to nearly 50 “intimate gatherings” with top-level GOP donors over the past two-plus years, per estimates by the Washington Post—but his latest will be his steepest of those fundraisers so far. Billionaire Nelson Peltz is the host, Peltz’s estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is the location, and the cost of entry for the Saturday evening event is $580,600 per couple. The Week quips you’ll need to “sell that old Renoir on the wall, quickly marry an oligarch … or ask Mike Bloomberg for a loan” to attend.
    https://www.newser.com/story/286960/entry-fee-for-new-trump-fundraiser-580k-per-couple.html

    Reply
  23. Cuibono

    Re https://www.fastcompany.com/90463081/the-hidden-design-failure-thats-costing-consumers-trillions

    Given we live in a service economy, the trashing of the quality of that service is also a HIGHLY insidious form of INFLATION. We simply get much less than we used to in areas of service. It sucks. We are on hold forever. We do all of the work of correcting these mistakes.

    Holding companies and their execs accountable for this might change things. Not holding my breath

    Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    Aside from the usual assortment of masked men and women wearing balaclavas (see, the Crimean War was good for something!) to ward off near freezing temps on the slopes en route in twin tails or boards and/or to facilitate bank robberies afterwards in order to pay for their lift tickets* ($179 mid-week walk-up price per day), I saw not one ounce of prevention in the guise of an N-95 anywhere on the mountain or on one foray to the supermarket in Mammoth.

    I’d previously mentioned being surprised @ Bryce Canyon NP in seeing so many Chinese tourists there shortly before xmas when we stopped by, they represented well over half of those who made the short walk to the overlook, where down below lay coral colored cliffs wrapped in snow. You’d think with such easy connections in the air to get them here, the virus would have run its course emanating from such a place as Bryce, where mingling close together was a given due to so few avenues to view in the winter.

    * Down to $61.90 per day on my IKON season pass, with hopes of making it to $30.95 per day if the snow holds out, Ullr be willing.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      p.s.

      Noticed Disneyland went to $200 for a lift-ticket. When we cleaned out my childhood home, found a bunch of Disneyland partial ticket books. One of them i’m holding has on the back: America on Parade from June 14th 1975 to September 6th 1976. Admission & 11 Magic Key coupons that allowed you to go on any ride in the park, was $5.75 for an adult. Surprisingly 3 of the coupons went unused. The other books have crummy A & B tickets, and none of the hallowed E ticket.

      In 45 years inflation has increased the price by a factor of over 35.

      Reply
        1. Monty

          For an equivalent experience, just throw the 200 (and the rest) in the trash, and visit the DMV for one of each service they offer.

          Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A nice article. Black bears in the Sierra are really a different breed of cat compared to others in the country and up in Canada, which normally kill humans on a regular enough notice to be worried about things that go bump in the night when you’re sleeping between bruin and the thinnest of fabric margins in a tent. Nobody’s been killed by a bear in California since the 1870’s and it was a Grizzly that did the deed.

        You wonder how they get to be so big on a normal largely vegetarian diet, and what a field day it must be for their first experience dining ala garbage cart. Hard to go back to tearing apart long ago fallen trees in search of grubs, after leftovers. Lots of ‘don’t feed the bears’ stickers on the trash bin which has a carabiner locking clasp, and signs on the wall of our Mammoth rental condo parking lot stating the same.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Some years ago a black bear with cubs killed a woman in my nearby Great Smoky Mtns Nat Park. She was walking alone when she encountered them so the circumstances aren’t exactly known. Perhaps the woman started running away.

          So one shouldn’t be overly afraid of black bears but they aren’t harmless.

          Reply
    2. Susan the other

      getting a low-oxygen high is very expensive. speaking of oxygen, that is, reduced oxygen, Bryce Canyon is @ 6000 ft in altitude. The corona virus species is a big heavy virus that quickly sinks to the ground – about 5 feet from the sneeze. So probably even quicker in a thin atmosphere. And just imagine the invisible river of viruses that float like fog from high to low altitudes…

      Reply
    1. MLTPB

      After reading about Xi not shaking hands when he was out walking around in Beijing, and he should know a lot, not holding classes is only prudent.

      Reply
    1. Calvin

      Convince any and all Trump supporters you meet to make sure and vote for Bernie, in open primary states.
      That way Donald “Will have such an easy time in the general election.” :-)

      Reply
    2. jrs

      Fully irrational too in fact in some sense I don’t believe the narrative and think it’s spin, like none of this is a real explanation because it doesn’t describe on the ground realities.

      Here is the thing: many health insurers benefited from the ACA and are hurting by it’s rollback by Trump (so are some citizens as they aren’t benefiting from that one either, but that’s neither here nor there for stocks). These insurers would do MUCH better under a centrist Dem admin that supports the ACA. Trump is not even in their most narrowly defined self-interest. Of course the stock holders might be too dumb to know this

      The chances of their profits being affected by Buittigieg, Biden, Klobi, Bloomberg nonexistent and in fact they will be helped. Sanders or Warren threaten them only if Dems at least got the Senate and were willing to vote progressive at that (and Warren by some very slow roll out of course, so slow that even if she was 100% sincere it decreases the chances of it ever happening). And they are cheering a Sanders win because Trump? Makes absolutely zero sense. They clearly wouldn’t benefit from Sanders AND they don’t hurt as much as with Sanders of course, but don’t benefit from Trump either.

      Reply
    3. Aumua

      This guy’s just making some s*** up as far as I can see. He doesn’t provide any evidence that this stock price action has anything to do with Sanders.

      Reply
  25. Cuibono

    Does anyone find it odd that Russia apparently till has only two confirmed cases of Corona virus? All from two weeks ago…Why should that be?

    Reply
    1. Monty

      They shut the border to Chinese visitors in a hurry. I am more surprised Las Vegas and Vancouver haven’t had many more cases.

      Reply
          1. MLTPB

            The US on the 31st, after Russia.

            Beijing criticized DC for that.

            Haven’t heard how they reacted to Moscow’s action.

            Reply
    2. td

      There are wide areas of the world where you will hear nothing until the disease process is well advanced. I was just browsing the January 18 edition of the Economist and an article on the Coronavirus discussed how it was not yet clear whether human to human transmission was taking place in Wuhan.

      This thing is moving quickly and many places may have only a few carriers beginning an exponential process that won’t be visible for weeks.

      Reply
      1. Medbh

        I don’t know if this was linked already, but the NY Times article “How Bad Will the
        Coronavirus Outbreak Get? Here Are 6 Key Factors” was interesting. It includes a “spider web” graphic showing the dramatic impact of an infectious rate of 1.3 versus 2.6. After just 5 cycles, there are 45 versus 368 people sick. It makes it easy to see how quickly things can get out of control.

        https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/asia/china-coronavirus-contain.html

        Reply
            1. www.wuhancrisis.com

              make sure you are desktop. the google translate button is on top right of the page.
              Each message title links to the original post, if still exists. They are just fact, does not matter if you trust or not.

              Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        North Korea may have cases of Coronavirus. There was a North Korean trade official who, while in China, visited a public spa in spite of the outbreak there. So the North Koreans arrested him on his return and then shot him straight away. He won’t make that mistake again.

        Reply
  26. Calvin

    Environmental note:
    My Bernie lawn sign is made of recycled paper.
    AMY’s and Pete’s are unrecyclable plastic.

    Save those U shaped metal bases, or pick them up on trash day from your neighbor’s pile, they are handy in the garden for creating shadecloth tunnels over vegetable starts.

    Reply
  27. Ignacio

    RE: Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory Independent Science News (JL)

    Apart from animal suffering, this raises the question of how well or badly performed and reported are toxicity assays, particularly in the case of glyphosphate. If you do a search on this particular active ingredient it is amazing to find so many favourable reviews as if designed to bury any work that raises doubts. Some of them are funded by, for instance, consortiums of glyphosphate registrants around the world or by private companies registered here and there. And if you dig into them, be ready to find many unpublished reports cited, probably from companies like the one that owns the testing laboratory in this article. Only author names, no affiliation and incorrect links in the references cited in those open access reviews make it difficult to check sources, institutions etc. It is a dark world.

    Reply
  28. DJG

    Just one more datum, but it may be worth monitoring:

    George Washington article, Is this why most coronavirus deaths are Chinese men?

    Co-factor: Smoking.

    Reminder that in the U S of A, we just had that series of vaping-related deaths, still not quite untangled as to cause. Related, but not associated or correlated.

    This finding doesn’t mean that the coronavirus is benign–not by a long shot. But smoking is still tolerated much more in China (and from what I can gather, Korea and Japan and Russia) than it is in the “West.” (The rest of Europe and North America.)

    Yves Smith mentioned tobacco as a factor a few days back. I had an exchange with Plutonium Kun about this a day or so ago.

    This may explain why children seem (seem, for now) less likely to show severe symptoms.

    We haven’t made it through the disaster yet, but one datum after another will give an idea of what is the best course of action. And, lo, the public-health agencies in developed countries have been trying to get people to quit smoking for years. Those darned government bureaucrats impinging on our freedoms.

    Reply
      1. Expat2Uruguay

        In order to know that, there would have to be a large population of Chinese people that smoke weed. I don’t think that’s true.

        I quit smoking cigarettes 18 years ago, before that I was a very heavy smoker. I wonder if the old damage in my lungs would make me more susceptible. I think not.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Yeah, I was thinking about that as well .. I quit 24+ years ago, after being a pack-a-day+ smoker for the previous 24 .. wondering if DEATH has me notched on his saddle yet … guess we’ll find out, sooner or later.

          I’d, of course, prefer MUCH later ! If I apply some saddle soap to the affected area, do you think he’ll notice ?

          Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but if you’re smoking reasonable quality weed or pot, you’re probably smoking way less organic matter than a tobacco smoker, even with a big pot habit, so less likely to get those negative effects. Look at the size of a pack of twenty cigarettes. How many potheads get through that much in a day?

        Reply
        1. Dan

          I remember reading that anthropological study of indigenous remains shows no signs of cancers, while they do show signs of emphysema. No additives in the tobacco is the obvious first difference. Beyond that, a completely different ritual around smoking, i.e. not sucking down “cancer sticks” hurriedly before going back to a job you hate, or something similar. Smoking was more a like shared meal often with deep spiritual implications. I imagine our western science will never be able to fully comprehend this. I’ll look for a link…

          Reply
          1. polecat

            Things might just go back that way for some, further down the future path. We all think the here and now, will always remain ‘the here and now’ …. but what it really is .. is a series of jerky, stepped, broken continuities … many times, it takes a catastrophic upheaval to set the table straight again, for any survivors who climbed back on.

            I think we’re on a cusp of a break, or maybe a shatter .. i’m not quite sure which.

            Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Since I have never heard of mass marijuana smoking in China, I assume the smoking is almost entirely tobacco. Certainly the State Tobacco Monopoly Cigarettes in China are tobacco.

        I once had a hypothesis as to why the ChiCom regime fostered mass smoking among the Chinese subjects with such intensity. My hypothesis was this . . . that the ChiCom regimelords hoped to get a lot of Chinese to die of smoking-related diseases at or before the age of retirement in order to save on pension costs. A sort of “jackpot design engineering” for the near-elderly before ” the Jackpot” was invented in its current sense.

        Reply
    1. Expat2Uruguay

      DLG, Re: Co-factor: Smoking
      You make a good point.

      This may explain why children seem (seem, for now) less likely to show severe symptoms.

      The Chinese Communist Party would be wise to turn smoking into a public enemy and blame it for the virus doing so much damage. (As opposed to incompetence.) It would give the people something else to focus on and reinforce the “we’re fighting this virus together” meme they’re trying to put forth. I predict that sales of tobacco in China are going to go down significantly. Hm, I wonder what other use that land could be put to? Where is the tobacco grown that these Chinese men are smoking so much of?

      Reply
      1. polecat

        See, what I don’t get, is if this seems a factor in deterioration within the pulmonary systems of people in China who are having to deal with this virus, where praytell, does their infamous industrial air pollution fit in the big corona picture. I would certainly think that That too would play a deleterious role as well on mortality, no ??
        ….. and not just 60+ year old male smokers..

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But if Chinese men-in-particular are heavily smoking, on TOP of the bad air they breathe along with Chinese women and children; then they are getting even MORE lung-damaged than if they weren’t smoking as well. And they are inhaling some unique chemicals not in the air pollution.

          So it could all come together most badly.

          Reply
  29. Jason Boxman

    A thought on Bloomberg. Given how we’re seeing he’s sparing no expense on his campaign, it’s odd that he’s made so little headway on gun control, a signature issue of his. Why hasn’t he brought a similar resource level to bear there?

    Makes you wonder if his professed support for gun control over the years is actually legitimate or just virtue signaling. You can influence a lot of Congressional races if you’re willing to commit to a billion dollars or more.

    Reply
    1. Dan

      Makes you wonder if his professed support for gun control over the years is actually legitimate or just virtue signaling.

      It’s hard for me to look at anything Bloomberg does as “legitimate.” It’s all self-interest first and foremost. I believe it was Yves who made the point the other day that strict gun control measures disproportionately hurt the poor and minorities. Given this, and given what we know about Bloomberg’s raison d’etre, his support for “gun control” overlaps neatly with his stop and frisk measures.

      “95%” of homicides and homicide victims are young male minorities” and “you can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops” – Michael Bloomberg

      Personally, I don’t want to waste any more time trying to figure out what these uber-wealthy people might actually think and feel. It’s obvious to me that Bloomberg is a sociopath. In a sane society, he’d be guillotined. Perhaps when we have power we’ll just lock him up. No golf course though. Sorry Mike.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One wonders how many Black-people-for-Biden will make the transition to Black-people-for-Bloomberg if/when Biden is out of the race.

        Reply
    2. Samuel Conner

      One of the disturbing prospects of a MB presidency is that he could credibly promise to “primary” every legislator who did not conform to his preferred legislative agendas.

      Given the political craven-ness exhibited by our national legislators, I think there’s little doubt that it would, for the duration, effectively abolish the independence of one branch of government.

      Reply
  30. antidlc

    https://prospect.org/labor/lessons-culinary-union-health-care-fight-nevada/

    The Lessons of the Culinary Union Health Care Fight

    The question remains, therefore, why the Culinary Union is so steadfast to hold onto its health plan. After discussing with several experts, this is a best sketch at the answer.

    First and foremost, most members (though not all) love the coverage, which is excellent in the context of current employer-sponsored insurance. The union provides medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage through its own multiemployer Taft-Hartley health plan, the Culinary Health Fund, which serves 139,000 members and dependents. It’s free of a premium if the employee averages 30 hours a week every two months.

    It does not approach Sanders’s vision of Medicare for All. Drawbacks include co-pays for some services, prior authorization for selected care, restrictions to “allowable charges” that only the plan determines, and eligibility rules that can cause part-time workers to have to pay in to keep the coverage. “The end result is that some workers will pay more, some will struggle with a bureaucratic workload, and some will have no coverage at all,” says R.J. Eskow, a progressive radio host and writer who spent many years in the insurance underwriting and pricing business.

    Critically for members, the union runs its own high-quality 24-hour health center and two pharmacies, exclusively for members. Without this in place, health care would be quite difficult for members to obtain in the Las Vegas area. The Nevada Medical Center gave the state a ‘D’ for access to health care in its 2019 report card, with only 200 physicians per 100,000 residents, well below the national average.

    Reply
    1. dk

      And the conclusion (my emphasis):

      In other words, the union plays the role of a business, with profits and employees and an aversion to competition. There’s nothing necessarily corrupt about it; revenue generation can fund more organizing. But it certainly motivates the union to hang onto and maximize the business. To take one example, the self-run pharmacy allows the union to get reimbursed twice by its pharmacy benefit manager: once as a health plan and once as a pharmacy. Perhaps for this reason, the union steers members into the pharmacy by offering free prescriptions, as opposed to co-pays at retail pharmacies.

      Having unions control welfare benefit payments, known as the Ghent system, can work quite well. But once a union gains that control, it’s harder to relinquish such a major asset. This has been a persistent problem for health care reform; there are stakeholders on all sides wanting carve-outs and self-preservation. The logic of rebuilding the system from scratch doesn’t move those who see their privileged corner under threat.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps the Culinary Union members are afraid that “M4A” would not be the CanadaCare that Sanders would like. Perhaps they fear that it would be “Crappy Obamacare Bronze Plan M4A”.

      In fact, I expect that eventually people motivated by that fear will invent their own acronym to name their fear. BP4A. Bronze Plan For All. A Sanders candidacy would have to demonstrate exactly how M4A would not be Crappy Obama Bronze.

      I would say this whole area of concern demonstrates the successful achievement of one of Obama’s goals with Obamacare, namely poisoning the well against any consideration of yet more reform or re-reform or re-re-reform of healthcare.

      Reply
  31. Bonobong

    The Bernie Blackout continues.

    AP Newswire (“news”) has a piece about some of the candidates slamming Bernie for whatever lie they think they can pile on; mainly about the “yuge cost” of M4A.

    Followed by lots of comments and remarks by several Democratic candidates.

    Naturally NOT followed by any rejoinder from Bernie. Not a peep from him, nor a peep positive.

    In associated news, the Bernie website jackpineradicals.com has been down for hours today. I wonder why. (not)

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Couldn’t someone put together a Lunger Hacking conTest .. ??

      and receive an all-expense-paid trip (by the afflicted) to a Taj Mahospital of no choice, maybe throwing in a barely fuctioning respirator for the price of a gilded six-pack ?

      Reply
  32. Susan the other

    Great Intercept piece on Oregon’s ongoing battle with the pipeline companies. The Jordan Cove project in Oregon – which port is destined to be Coos Bay after it is dredged for big tankers – has been protested for a few years now and the rulings have come down on the side of the protestors so far. But it looks iffy now with Trump. The big plan is to run it to the Pacific (the Pacific Access Connection Pipeline) from Wyoming, Colorado and Northern Utah (so at least 3 separate pipeline connections to the main one running to the Pacific). The tactics are classic with counter protest movements stirred up by the pipeline companies, etc. They (Goldman Sach was mentioned) tried to set up Humbolt Bay over a decade ago to be dredged for big export purposes. And failed. Now it’s Coos Bay, Let us all hope the protest can stop them. Transporting all that Natgas from the intermountain area is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Not to mention we don’t need this project at all because we will be unable to ever remediate how much CO2/methane escapes to the upper atmosphere. Why this last minute push now? It’s also going on in British Columbia as we speak -a pipeline is being pushed through Native American territory and it is being “enforced” by the Canadian Mounties – the police are being taken over by the pipeline companies. All our other attempts to transport energy long distances should be a cautionary tale – these guys are headed for big disasters. Not to mention stranded assets. Think Anschutz’s pipedreams and the Porterhouse and Bay Area explosions and fires and massive air pollution. Think PG&E being structurally incapable of preventing or containing the Paradise fire. We need to start over from scratch to make energy, distribution and use compatible and controllable with and by modern civilization. It won’t work to just ram it through, logic be damned.

    Reply
  33. eg

    Samuelson as “the people’s economist?” Ye gods, no — perish the thought. That man’s influence has caused untold damage right across the economic policy space of the past 50 years!

    The author states, unironically, “typically, his articles took a long-recognised economic problem, used algebra to capture the essence of it, and then solved it in a way that made it unnecessary for economists who came after to grapple with the literature that had come before him … the more mathematics-oriented approach to economic theory that Samuelson represented was rapidly gaining ground. By the 1970s, any graduate student in economics had to get a certain training in mathematics, an expectation very different from that prevailing even a decade earlier. Economic theory had changed, and Samuelson was one of the key figures responsible for that change.” This is the program that has given us generations of economists hypnotically navel-gazing at their equations, completely unmoored from empirical reality and the history of their own subject, rooted as it is in the social sciences generally, and political economy in particular.

    Followed by, “Samuelson developed the theory of efficient markets.” This is faint praise indeed, if you have any familiarity with the damage this little gem has caused over the years, along with its complete demolition over the past decade.

    For all the grisly details, please see Philip Pilkington’s “The Reformation in Economics: A Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Economic Theory”

    Reply
    1. skippy

      Its a foot note that I put said book under some econ fighter for the light [tm] and the best they could respond was …. interesting …

      Also said stuff like we can save this with a few Capital controls … absurdly hilarious … the contortions …

      Reply
  34. Expat2Uruguay

    Is anyone else getting the feeling that the US response to the coronavirus is going to basically be: We’re going to let our for-profit health system handle this.
    Sure, we’ll get some quarantine theater, but then we will have to depend on our Great American profit-making system of US Healthcare. And it’s going to be an absolute public disaster. The only saving grace the US has going for it is that it doesn’t use mass transportation, ironically.

    Reply
  35. Expat2Uruguay

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/14/coronavirus-very-contagious-but-well-get-past-epidemic-astrazeneca.html
    Situation report from a CEO of a major pharmaceutical company. He talks about a virus much more contagious than the seasonal flu with 80% getting mild symptoms and 15% getting pneumonia. You just know the pharmaceutical companies are salivating at the profits are they going to make off of their vaccine and/or treatment protocols with antivirals.

    And of course, That 15% is going to include most of the homeless people developing pneumonia. From the professional-managerial class’s viewpoint, problem solved!

    But before they can deploy a vaccine, they will have to deal with a year of treating this virus in the nation’s hospitals. Let’s do some estimating. Since Mr CEO says It is more contagious than a seasonal flu I’m going to double last year’s number of seasonal flu cases (45M)* and
    multiply by five percent of cases requiring Critical Care (5-7% per Mr CEO) gives 4.5M. That’s a lot more than the 810,000 hospitalisations from seasonal flu last year.*

    45M x 2 x 10% {pneumonia rate – severe cases} gives 22.5 M NOVID-19 pneumonia cases compared to last season’s 21M influenza-associated medical visits*. Not really an apples-to-apples comparison, as a non-critical patient with NOVID-19 pneumonia would likely have several medical visits. Plus, we have to anticipate that the NOVID-19 casesload and hospitalizations would be additive to the usual seasonal flu cases.

    So, as bad as this is going to be for Millions of Americans, their families, and their employers, I hope NOVID-19 finally brings about Medicare for all. Contrary to 2008, maybe this time a huge crisis finally deliver needed political adaptation. Dare I whisper that another world is possible?

    *”The overall burden of influenza for the 2017-2018 season was an estimated 45 million influenza illnesses, 21 million influenza-associated medical visits, 810,000 influenza-related hospitalizations, and 61,000 influenza-associated deaths”
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2017-2018.htm

    Here’s the data for the past years of seasonal flu.
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/past-seasons.html

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