Links 2/16/2020

Angry Cockatoo Tears Down Anti-Bird Spikes And Throws Them To The Ground Bored Panda (furzy)

Minnesota Will Pay Homeowners to Replace Lawns with Bee-Friendly Wildflowers, Clover and Native Grasses Return to Now (furzy)

I spent weeks reporting on the bushfires. This is the truth about regional Australia Guardian (David L)

Permafrost is thawing so fast it’s gouging holes in the Arctic World Economic Forum (resilc)

The real places and stories behind ‘Parasite’ Asia Times. Kevin W: “Worth reading through to the end, especially the end.”

Every Melody Has Been Copyrighted (and they’re all on this hard drive) YouTube (Robert H). One of my past (and terrific) attorneys was an intellectual property specialist (serious IP work is done out of only a handful of boutique firms + Covington). I suspect she would disagree with this legal analysis.

The Navy SEAL and His Doctor: An experimental brain treatment blows up two lives Rewired (Anthony L)

2019-nCoV

Coronavirus: China announces drop in new cases for third straight day BBC

Report 5: Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China JAMA

Cries of despair from Ground Zero of the coronavirus outbreak Financial Times

China Quarantines Cash to Sanitize Old Bank Notes From Coronavirus MSN. I recall medical experts saying paper (including currency) was not a great transmission medium (because porous enough to hold on to the pathogen) compared to flat surfaces. In other words, dirtiness in the conventional sense does not map tidily onto ready communication of this disease. But it is probably a great confidence booster and so helpful to Xi.

Exclusive: Millions to be told ‘stay at home’ if coronavirus continues to spread Telegraph (David L)

Tokyo Olympics organisers says there is no ‘Plan B’ for 2020 summer games amid coronavirus fears Business Insider (Kevin W)

Reefer crisis looms as stranded perishables rot at congested Chinese ports The LoadStar (Troy P)

Coronavirus solidifies US-China decoupling Asia Times

Quarantined cruise ship passenger speaks out against US coronavirus evacuation plan Fox (Kevin W)

Japan Says Cases Surge to 355 Aboard Luxury Liner: Virus Update Bloomberg

China?

Is Political Change Coming to China? Project Syndicate. UserFriendly: “My first response was “no!” but the article is more nuanced than the headline and strikes me as plausible. The question is would he go willingly?”

What Chinese applicants to US universities should watch out for as campus closures gather steam South China Morning Post (Dr. Kevin)

Huawei’s Silicon Valley Outpost Allegedly Stole Trade Secrets From Cisco Silicon Valley

Pompeo’s Sinophobic Pressure Campaign Runs Amok at National Governors’ Association Convention Fort Russ (Kevin W)

Feeding China Is Wrecking the Amazon Atlantic (furzy)

Trump Administration Considers Halting GE Venture’s Engine Deliveries to China Wall Street Journal

Brexit

Cummings’s Bootprints London Review of Books

Cummings and Johnson face backlash over sacking of advisers Guardian (Kevin W)

New Cold War

U.S. Says It Has Thwarted $6 Billion Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline Bloomberg

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

What Is Happening to Assange Will Happen to the Rest of Us Chris Hedges, Truthdig (RR)

Activate this ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop New York Times. I want one.

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘The West is winning,’ U.S. tells China; France wary Reuters. Resilc: “What the fuck are we winning?????”

Trump Transition

Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment The Hill

Why the Presidency Can’t Just Go Back to ‘Normal’ After Trump Politico (resilc)

Trump Tweets Another Lie About One of His Favorite Enemies Mother Jones (furzy)

Comrade Trump Project Syndicate. A new flavor of TDS. The president engages in propaganda and lies about the health of the economy? Where was she during the runup to the Iraq War or in 2007 and 2008?

‘I Think People Will Starve.’ Experts Are Worried About the Hundreds of Thousands Who Could Lose Food Stamps Come April Time (furzy)

Shift to digital census raises fear of Iowa-like breakdown Associated Press (Mark A)

Health Care

The Cancer Industry: Hype vs. Reality – Scientific American (Dr. Kevin). Today’s must read.

‘On the brink’: Trump’s push for Medicaid transparency could worsen rural hospital crisis NBC (furzy)

Improving the prognosis of health care in the USA – The Lancet (Kevin C). Only synopsis outside the paywall but the endorsement of “Medicare for All” is significant.

2020

How the Iowa caucuses came ‘crashing down,’ under the watchful eye of the DNC Washington Post (furzy)

Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises The Hill

Mike Bloomberg has been battling women’s allegations of sexist, profane comments for years Washington Post (furzy)

Fundraiser highlights division as growing number of LGBTQ+ voters say his views don’t represent them Guardian (UserFriendly)

The Hardest Decision Bernie Sanders Will Make This Year New Republic

AIPAC Is Helping Fund Anti-Sanders Super PAC Ads in Nevada Intercept. Resilc: “So in USA USA, OK for Israel but not for Russia to get involved…..”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Endorses Sen. Bernie Sanders for President NBC (furzy) Surprised by this.

Twitter Ran Ads For Human Organs Because Money Is Money Gizmodo

The Ride-Hail Utopia That Got Stuck in Traffic Wall Street Journal

Missouri Farm Awarded $265M in Suit Against BASF and Bayer Associated Press

A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit Intercept (Chuck L)

Class Warfare

Costco Capitalism Brian Lehrer (resilc)

Antidote du jour (CV). Insects are our friends (when they aren’t locusts or deer ticks or mosquitoes):

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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391 comments

    1. chuckster

      That Bloomberg is a real political genius. I got two emails yesterday urging me to contribute to the Republicans to “stop Hillary and Mike”. She’s still a fund-raising machine for the GOP. How about Michele Obama next?

      Reply
      1. Calvin

        Yesterday a friend showed me their Marin County mail-in ballot.

        Positions on the ballot were allegedly chosen “at random.”

        20 Democratic candidates are listed for the upcoming March 3rd California primary.
        Bernie Sanders is DEAD LAST on the list.

        This means that 19 other candidates bubbles can be filled in with pen…oops!
        Too late, guess we’ll have to get a new ballot to vote for Bernie, or “wait until next time.”

        Poll of other N.C. readers: where is Sanders in your California county ballot?

        Reply
        1. jrs

          9th. Candidates ahead of him on the ballot that are actually still running: Warren, Klobuchar. Candidates behind him on the ballot that are still actually running: Steyer, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Biden, Gabbard. So middling?

          This is L.A. county, I don’t know if all the ballots are this way, but if so we’re talking a population what about 40 times that of Marin county. The problem is the ballot is full of candidates that dropped out: castro, yang, booker, patrick, and a few I have literally never heard of, so there are 20 candidates most of which aren’t running.

          Reply
        2. Daryl

          I’m in Texas, not California, and unsure if the Democratic party controls the ballot ordering here, but Sanders is #5 on the sample ballot I just looked up. Will pay attention when I actually go to vote this week as well.

          Reply
        3. Librarian Guy

          Just checked my Alameda County ballot.

          Sanders is in the 2nd of 3 columns, (7x7x6 names), 5th down, just above (RIP) Joe Sestak.

          And who the hell is “Mosie Boyd”?– he’s just below Bloomie.

          Booker and Buttigieg are the final names on the ballot. Bootie will at least have some traction with the financial Elites, probably do well in Silicon Valley if Bloomie has imploded by Super Tuesday.

          Reply
        4. Carey

          Sanders is the fifteenth-listed candidate on my San Luis Obispo County CA
          primary ballot. Based on my several interactions with the entity that finally
          “allowed” me a ballot with his name on it, I have little confidence that my
          vote for him will be accurately counted.

          Seems to me that an independent website, based I think on Samuel Conner’s idea here, to tabulate votes (informally, or not) is a good idea, to prepare
          for what’s coming (Hi, Alex Padilla!).

          preparation meets opportunity

          Reply
        5. Michael

          In Sacramento County I’m registered No Party Preference (NPP), permanent vote-by-mail. I received the Democratic NPP ballot per my request, and the ballot is clearly marked “Democratic NPP”.

          Bernie is listed second on the ballot, after Klobuchar. Bloomberg and Buttigieg are further down the list of twenty candidates. There is a line to write in a name at the bottom of the list.

          Reply
      2. pretzelattack

        i wonder what the dnc has in mind for texas, since sanders is apparently leading there now according to one poll. california and texas are the richest and most crucial targets for them.

        Reply
        1. dcblogger

          there is a limit to how much you can rig any system. Marcos rigged the 1986 snap election. He lost.

          The Bernie campaign will overwhelm whatever the kleptocracy is planning,

          Reply
          1. Harry

            Its a fair point. They will rig it right up to the point that they run into enough opposition that they cant anymore.

            But isnt that quite a lot of rigging?

            Reply
          2. flora

            Marcos had been rigging elections since at least the late 1960’s. (He was a hero of Philippine resistance to imperial Japan in WWII, deservedly, but used that calling card to enrich himself and his cronies.) After so much time being shortchanged by the Marcos machine, in 1986 the Philippine electorate said, “no más. ” imo.

            Reply
          3. Librarian Guy

            I hope you are right . . .

            Certainly the DNC crew are dummies, the way they rolled out their Iowa “app” & pantsed themselves nationally (as Chapo Trap House noted).

            My worry is the Big Media slant, which is so open, and supports and protects all the fraud. Surely you MUST believe JFK was killed by a lone nut loser, look at all those distinguished folks on the Warren Commission. Anyone questioning how HRC won 6 of 6 coin flips, or disbelieving the fake “Bernie Bros throwing chairs” story MUST wear a tinfoil hat!!

            Plus the Dimmie party is so full of weak tea Bourgeois Libbies. I like the site-runner of Atrios, who seems to be actually smart and left– the commentariat over there are pathetic, however. They continue pledging fealty to St. Liz of the popular vote dregs, she is clearly the “best” technocrat, split-the-difference Establishment choice, pretends to be a little bit liberal/lefty so they can feel good when she extends the wars (as Obama, bless his name, did– we’ll be in Afghanistan for 100 years like Barack’s opponent McCain promised), ignores continued economic inequality, etc.

            Due to Saint Hillary of the Gold-Sachs Neocon’s oh so unfair rejection by the Electoral College, the Universe must put an (antifeminist, anti-poor) elite woman in power, it’s only right!!! I guess they will vote for Bernie if when forced? Apart from some full-on NeoCon-NeoLibs over there like “Steve Simels” who sings the praises of Bloomberg, his environmentalism, wisdom, crushing of the Dirty Fucking Hippies of Occupy, etc . . .

            Weird to live in a world where 4 decades of Dem tacking to the center-Right leads to these people thinking they are “center left” when they are clearly okay with 1/99% economic inequities, endless wars abroad and on “drugs”, on non-whites, etc. They can feel smug and humanistic while condemning the entire world to Oligarchy, poverty, war and environmental destruction.

            I’m no fan of Trump, but at least his followers are openly hateful scumbags, rarely pretend to believe in things like equality, liberty or fraternity– except among their little Evangelical, Alt-Right or White Trash grouplets.

            Reply
            1. flora

              Marcos ran on “law and order” campaigns, unlike whats-is-name Bloomberg? – heh. Marcos later implemented martial law in 1972, to fend off whatever parties he could call the bad-uns. ;)

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                Yeah, but we had to support/fund him and Imelda’s shoes because he “fights the Monolithic World-Wide Communist Conspiracy™”

                Reply
        2. Daryl

          Surprised Bernie is leading in Texas. They were solidly in the tank for Hillary last time. Texas has not been economically as depressed as other areas of the company and there are plenty of well to do “everything is fine” Democratic voters here.

          Looking at a poll, I am deeply deeply disturbed by Bloomberg’s candidacy more than anything else.

          Reply
        3. Carey

          I’m wondering more what they’re going to do in Nevada; I think that’ll be
          quite telling of our friends at the DNC.

          Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Talked to someone here in Texas (just casually). Get the impression he was a Trump fan but is now disappointed. I was wearing a Bernie sweatshirt, making Bernie fair game. He brought Sanders up, said the Dems stole the 2016 nomination from him.

      So Rs noticed…and I also have the impression this guy is considering Sanders.

      Reply
  1. Jake Botkin

    Based on how NY-based progressives feel about BdB (including this one) and his approval rate while running for President last summer, I feel that an endorsement from him might hurt Bernie more than help him.

    BdB’s record on policing in NYC is horrendous and his increasing reliance on right-wing Republican talking points against bail reform, climate change (tweets in support of Greta Thunberg vs actual infrastructural change), housing reform (including privatizing the local public housing authority, NYCHA) shows he’s another of these fake progressives who love tweeting about things without lifting a finger.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      FWIW that and similar material is getting a lot of positive play Daily Kos. Truth to tell I’ve been lifting and posting much of the abundance of Bloomberg oppo lately featured here. The links, the editorializing, and the comments are a treasure trove of valuable muck. Keep on rakin’!

      Reply
  2. Keith Newman

    Brexit report: A couple of years ago many Naked Capitalism commentators believed that post Brexit the UK would face food shortages and its airplanes would not be allowed to fly over Europe. I pointed out at the time that since such a disaster scenario was in no-one’s interest it would not happen despite the mishandling of negotiations by the UK government. In my opinion everyone would just muddle through.
    I am pleased to report the disaster scenario has not occurred. Two days ago, two weeks after Brexit came into effect, I flew into London Heathrow from Morocco on a British Airways flight, through European airspace, and arrived on time without incident. Further, I went shopping at three UK food chain stores yesterday (M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco) and can assure worried commentators that the shelves were full and there was no panic buying.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that the real idea here is that a Transitional Period does not a Brexit make. We’ll see how things stand this time next year.

      Reply
        1. Susan the other

          That was way interesting. Thank you Olga. Fintan covered the gamut of the British/English/Imperialist psyche – but I felt he left out, intentionally, the juggernaut that Brittsh finance had become. And just how pissed off the EU was about the whole thing. Must look for Otoole’s books for the irony of it all. Almost as succinct as Monty Python.

          Reply
          1. Susan the other

            and also it was interesting to hear some writer be so courageous as to imply that the USA was the force behind the dissolution of the British Empire. Why is that suppressed to this day?

            Reply
    2. John A

      As Kev says, Britain is still bound to the EU till 31 December. Let’s see what happens in 2021, especially if it effectively is a no-deal break.
      In the meantime, the Independent reported on an indignant Brexiteer entering the EU:
      A Brexiteer who was forced to wait in an immigration queue at an EU airport in Amsterdam has complained that “this isn’t the Brexit I voted for”.
      Colin Browning, who described himself as one of the 17.4 million people who voted for Brexit, said he was forced to wait for nearly an hour at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol before his passport was checked.
      “Absolutely disgusting service at Schiphol airport. 55 minutes we have been stood in the immigration queue. This isn’t the Brexit I voted for,” he wrote on Twitter.
      You could not, as they say, make it up.

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Typical of the fake “news” which came to symbolise the whole debate, although to call it that is to give it a dignifying gloss it doesn’t deserve.

        Some guy gets caught up in your fairly standard airport queue due, I’d hazard a guess, to the usual security theatre. He then takes to Twitter, as do so many, with some spouting off of a personal commentary about his situation and his displeasure.

        But if course, it was nothing at all to do with Brexit:

        https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/oh-colin-trends-on-twitter-as-brexiteer-bemoans-immigration-queues/14/02/

        However, it is unlikely that current delays have been caused by Brexit as the UK is currently in a transition period with the EU during which travel arrangements will not change until January 2021.

        The Continuity Remain (the European, the Mirror and the Independent) media latch onto it. Hence, we now have a “story”.

        I wonder if I’ve been lied to? No, I couldn’t possibly have been, could I. This is a “Remain” news angle and in Remain-leaning publications. Which are, of course, unimpeachable bastions of The Truth and would never, ever ev-ah run stuff which gave the wrong impression in order to advance their cause…

        Reply
        1. Monty

          The point of the story, “the punchline” if you will, is not that the border immigration checks are now slow because of Brexit, it is that the ignorant Brexit voter didn’t know that “real Brexit” hasn’t even started yet and started whinging about waiting in a line, like a twat.

          You hate to see it!

          Reply
                1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                  ” but every twat voted leave ”

                  That would include my Mother & a few other people I know who are decidedly not twats, neither are they racist, little Englander or xenophobic or whatever stereotypical generalisation that you want to label them with.

                  But perhaps twat is just a handy if in my opinion very vulgar label you reserve for anyone who doesn’t happen to agree with you on any subject.

                  There was me once believing stereotypes & generalisations about groups of people was the sole prerogative of the Daily Mail & the Right in general.

                  Reply
                    1. Massinissa

                      One that wasn’t particularly funny, especially considering how many people there are who non-sarcastically have that opinion.

        2. John A

          I agree Clive in the sense that pre Brexit, it was also not unusual to have a long passport queue. It is amusing though, how the EU is blamed for all ills in certain minds, minds that were more likely to be persuaded that there is one single, easily identifiable, source of all ills. And proud to broadcast their thinking, or more like, lack of, assuming everyone else was of like mind.

          Reply
      2. Bugs Bunny

        The Schiphol employees that I’ve had to deal with have been consistently nasty, like I was up to no good if I asked a question or had a problem to resolve. I now avoid that airport. I can understand the Dutch being fed up with a certain kind of tourism but I’m always there on business.

        I’ve seen enough flat, rainy country…so what do they think? Worst food in Europe as well.

        I’ve even started going through Warsaw to head to other points (Lot is a nice airline).

        I guess I’m saying typical experience in ‘Dam.

        Reply
        1. Alfred

          Experiences and perceptions naturally vary. Over decades of flying in and out of Schiphol, I can recall no nasty employees working for either the airport or an airline. On one occasion several employees went out of their way to assist me in a difficult situation and that despite the well documented Dutch impatience with people who fail to understand or respect their ways. I did have one unforgettably unpleasant encounter, on a trip in 2018, with one employee at Schiphol — but she worked not for the airport but for the Dutch tourism office! While I think it is certainly true that restaurant food in Amsterdam is not generally of the best, there are notable exceptions. I have had over the years a number of fine meals in Amsterdam, both in restaurants and private homes; one of the best dining experiences I’ve had anywhere in Europe was in a restaurant in Maastricht.

          Reply
          1. Clive

            Yes, I’d never draw hard-and-fast conclusions based on particular individual incidents. I’ve had a good poking from the sharp end of the stroppy stick in even supposedly “customer is God” Japan (where being rude to customers is not unheard of, even for natives).

            I’ve been scowled and gallic-sneered at by French immigration officials, patronised by LA hotel receptionists, had aspersions cast on my manliness in an Arizona department store (I think it had something to do with having an English accent but I never got to the bottom of it) and had pained, long-suffering and deeply disappointed faces pulled at me by German bureaucrats.

            Equally well, I’ve been helped to an embarrassing degree by Japanese hospitality staff, delighted and bowled over by the kindness of hard boiled NYC coffee shop waitresses, charmed and surrounded in warmth by Italian taxi drivers and made to feel like I’ve been welcomed into the heart of some huge extended family by a Cork B&B.

            So it’s all swings and roundabouts I think.

            Reply
          2. lordkoos

            The best food I had in Holland by far was rijsttaffel, an Indonesian rice dish. The rest was forgettable, although it has been decades since I was there.

            But is it worse than English food? Take away the immigrant factor, and English cuisine is pretty bad. Who ever says “Let’s go out for English”?

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Who needs flavor in their food just so long as it is edible? :-)

              With respect to my English grandmother, bland is a thing. I once heard a British comedian say that English food can’t be done cooking if it still has flavor.

              Someone must have done a decent study of why French cuisine is so much better than that of the English. It’s not like the whole United Kingdom hasn’t had a large merchant marine or an empire with different cuisines.

              Seriously, studying food in different cultures is fascinating as food connects to everyone and everything. For instance, current American food is deeply connected to the post World War Two desire, maybe near fanaticism, to ensure that the American population would not ever go hungry again. I think that the periods of near famines during the Great Depression was traumatizing.

              The federal government made a big effort in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s to create a food supply system, but the focus was always been of quantity, or calories, over quality, or nutrition, of the food. Cheap, subsidized meat and poultry even corn and wheat instead of vegetables and fruit. This is one of the reasons for the American style of fast food. It is affordable food.

              Reply
        2. Kurt Sperry

          I’ve been in and out of Schiphol a lot of times and the airport staff to me seem fine — or at least normal. I’ll agree that A’dam has probably the worst food scene of any place I’ve ever been in Europe, it’s like the ugly reciprocal of Italy, where it’s truly difficult to find bad food; in A’dam, it’s difficult to find good food. This isn’t necessarily specific to NL though, in Europe generally, the farther North one goes, the worse the food gets, across all borders.

          Reply
          1. hoki haya

            always enjoyed Schiphol, long renown for its queue (one of the major hubs, what else should one expect?). go to the bar nearest your gate, hear and share stories, ever keeping an eye on the queue. when it’s down to ten or less, pay up if your stories haven’t already covered the bill, and go for it. why wait? be.

            last time through, bartender said ‘no matter what happens, sir, please come back and finish your story.’ at the gate the four airport security guards, two of them female, let me grab one last half-smoke in the john before boarding.

            smaller airports like ljubljana are even more hospitable if you show you’re human; in any case this whinger’s delay reveals more about his own lack of patience than any effect of Brexit.

            watching people deal with their own impatience and neuroses come undone in the face of the unexpected: one of the greatest enjoyments of travel, and an unexpected way of making friends.

            Reply
        3. carl

          We had a 50 minute connection to an international flight through Schipol last year, and we made it in part because of the relatively civilized procedure of the immigration lines. In essence, if you show your boarding pass to the line officers (or whatever they’re called) they put you through to the front of the line when your next flight is imminent. I could never imagine this happening in a US airport. Also, when booking the flights, we had a choice of going through AMS or CDG for that same tight connection; no way was I going to risk trying to get through DeGaulle in 50 minutes.

          Reply
        4. neo-realist

          15 years ago, about a few seconds after entering Schiphol Airport to fly back to the USA, I was accosted by a security person who wanted to check my luggage (I possessed no samples). I asked if he would check my white girlfriend’s luggage and he told my POC self something to the effect that it wasn’t necessary.

          Other than that a terrific visit-nice coffee bars that beat the hell out of starbucks:) and good music.

          Reply
    3. Phillip Allen

      Mr. Newman, I think you should also recall that those speculations were based on the possibility that there would be no Withdrawal Agreement in effect. A little too early for triumphalism just yet, don’t you think?

      Reply
      1. Keith Newman

        No triumphalism was meant on my part. A bit of snark perhaps as I did find the disaster predictions a little hard to take. And indeed we need to see what the final deal will be. It may not very good for the UK, but a country in control of its own currency, as the UK is, can largely compensate for for trade problems if it chooses to do so. Certainly the person who was reportedly upset at longer wait times at immigration was clueless.

        Reply
        1. curious euro

          but a country in control of its own currency, as the UK is, can largely compensate for for trade problems if it chooses to do so.

          This is something I just don’t understand. Sure they can compensate by devaluing their currency. However, that immediately impoverishes them by effectively paying more for imports and getting less for exports. How is this compensating? It simply makes the country poorer over time and the country cannot actually compensate.

          This is in general the problem I have with MMT: at most, only the hegemon can actually do MMT and ignore debts, cause all the others simply aren’t autarkic and have to buy more or less vitally important goods from other countries at which point MMT goes out the window. Even the hegemon must or wants to buy, but that’s the point of the hegemon: he can force the others to accept his worthless scrip. So he can export his debts and lets the others eat the consequences of his MMT policy, at least as long as he can keep being the hegemon. The longer he does this however, the harder it is to stay hegemon. So it only postpones the crash, but will not avoid it.

          Reply
          1. BlakeFelix

            I don’t think MMT goes out the window when trading internationally. Foreign actors are harder to tax I guess, but otherwise they just act like actors, I would expect. MMT isn’t about ignoring debts, it does say that you don’t have to default on debts in a currency you can print. Paying debts is like other spending, I think, you have to balance it with taxes or interest rate hikes or whatever or you get inflation.

            Reply
            1. curious euro

              It doesn’t matter if you default or hyperinflationate by printing currency.
              The creditor doesn’t care if he gets 0% of his debts back or an awesome 10%.
              In the end the debts have to be paid, actually paid, not nominally. And if you print money, your interest goes through the roof. Your own currency allows you to switch stance in the short term. Like print money for an acute crisis and later on when that crisis, say in 10-20 or even 50 years is over you go back to being a good creditor again. That’s all.

              Reply
              1. BlakeFelix

                Haha, try telling a creditor his last 10% of value doesn’t matter. Especially try it in front of a judge. I bet it matters to him. And hyperinflation is a feedback loop of money creation and increasing money velocity due to the expected cost of holding money, like the deflation in the great depression was both credit destruction and money velocity slowing. Hoarding cash causes deflation in the same way treating it like a hot potato causes inflation. Are you saying that every debt in history gets paid in full, real value? Tell that to the people who lent Nazi Germany money. It’s true if you count the creditor as paying the debt when he zeros it out, but that’s the risk he took when he lent the money. There is a large window of normal but high inflation that can have effects without causing hyperinflation. Like the 80s in the US, 15% interest and inflation rates held for a decade can erode a lot of leverage, and force a lot of defaults. MMT doesn’t say that this is desirable, in my opinion it usually isn’t desirable, just that it is possible. And in my opinion it is sometimes the lesser evil, nominal repayment in smaller dollars evades a whole realm of societal costs relating to a real default, like evictions and banks taking direct control of farms and businesses that they are unfit to manage, Dust Bowl style.

                Reply
          2. Typing Chimp

            Some of the confusion may disappear if you try different assumptions:

            1. Pretty well every first world country is trying to devalue its currency right now. This is because there is a lack of domestic demand from within those countries and international demand, and so competitive pressures make devaluation one of the very few palatable options (choosing to accept higher domestic unemployment is another option, but politicians understandably are cagey about selecting that one).

            2. The US and UK are **not** recklessly running up debts and forcing other countries to accepts their worthless scrip. Rather, the rest of the world is running up surplus savings (via their own businesses and 2%ers).

            Those savings must go somewhere. They do not get invested locally because there is already excess supply/lack of demand. They therefore flow into (mostly) the US and UK capital markets because those are just about the only credible markets that have the ability and willingness to accept such large cash inflows. This forces the USD and GBP upwards and makes the home country more competitive. Moreover, because the Capital account ($ inflows/outflows for simplicity) and Current account (Trade surplus/deficit, for simplicity) must identically balance, buying such currency “forces” the US and UK to run trade deficits and “forces” the original country to run trade surpluses.

            So to return to the original point–if the UK devalues by refusing foreign capital, the GBP drops and employment picks up, and the rest of Euroland or Japan must either find another sucker willing to accept their capital (for example, the USA), or else they must accept higher unemployment. Understandably, Europe is already over-reliant on the US by just about any measure, and they probably don’t want to rely on it to handle even more currency (assuming that the US is willing to do so)

            I hope this makes sense–the key is that if you reverse your assumptions and begin with the understanding that capital flows drive trade flows and not vice-versa, as is conventional wisdom, everything falls into place almost automatically.

            Reply
            1. Chris

              Excellent summary. I will have to steal this explanation the next time my guard is lowered and I’m suckered into a conversation about why we can’t have nice things in the US.

              As a corollary to your summary of state financial cause and effect, is it possible that the US position on MMT is what makes this work? I know we currently only have MMT for military expenditures but I’m hopeful one day that we could run deficits to support our citizens growing things instead of turning brown people into mist.

              Cheers!

              Reply
              1. Typing Chimp

                Thanks, although this is just my regurgitation of other people’s writings (I also simplified by ignoring increasing debts as an option alongside higher unemployment).

                Michael Pettis explains both this and answers your MMT question far more clearly and thoroughly than I ever could:

                https://carnegieendowment.org/chinafinancialmarkets/80054

                The link to Abba Lerner’s paper is also very good, if you have 30 min to go through it all

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Australia is about to embark on its own QE, with the stated goal of reducing the value of the AUD in order to stimulate imports.

                  I described the strategy in a local blog post: “Trying to make your nation richer by making its citizens poorer”.

                  And I’m not sure why any country would do everything to win a race that is described as “a race to the bottom”.

                  Reply
                  1. Typing Chimp

                    1) I assume yyou mean “stimulate exports”, not “imports”
                    2) Instead of thinking in terms of slogans or even “common sense”, start with the fundamental accounting identities and then work through the various implications of changing each of the variables. Most of this literally involves only addition and substraction–there is nothing that requires even high school mathematics, so it is not overly difficult, conceptually.

                    At least, that’s what I did, and I think it helped me tremendously in understanding how and why each country is following various policies. You mileage may vary.

                    Reply
                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                      Yes, LOL, exports.

                      And the fundamental accounting identity I like to refer to is the quantity of goods and services that my local currency can be exchanged for. Answer, under QE? Less.

            2. jsn

              I would expect the MMT problem for the UK to be scarcity of real resources.

              MMT can be used to reallocate labor and other real resources within the Pound economy, possibly organizing substantial new efficiencies (say using Uber/Amazon like tech as a public good rather than a tool booth), but it can’t conjure new, real resources from the aether.

              The Russians claim to have improved their cheese since Magnitsky, perhaps the English can figure out how to feed themselves sans imports post Brexit.

              Reply
              1. Susan the other

                That might be where MMT has an Achilles heel. If we do not control our populations and our economies we will find ourselves ever deeper into poverty and unsustainability. I shouldn’t call it an Achilles heel because it is ours to control. We definitely should stop subsidizing our own destruction. Population Ponzi, the financial game for the last 50 years, must be replaced.

                Reply
                1. jsn

                  I agree completely!

                  The whole discussion of politics and economy appears to be nothing more than rubric to distract everyone from the discussing the simple, equitable distribution of real resources.

                  Money & power blind everyone to simple human truths.

                  Reply
          3. Mel

            Life is harder for weak countries, but if they can enforce their laws at all, they can try to do things per MMT.
            If they need a dam, for instance, they can:
            1) Hire 100,000 of their people with teaspoons and baskets to build a dam, or,
            2) Call in a huge foreign engineering company to fly in engineers, fly in earth-moving equipment, fly in drivers, fly in concrete and steel, build the dam, leave the bill and the dollar-loan they arranged, and fly out.
            The first will get them a dam, the second will get them a dam and trouble till the end of time.
            The foreign engineering companies are gung-ho for the second. Tom Perkins — The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

            Reply
            1. Typing Chimp

              Well, if weak countries enforced their laws consistently, the would likely become strong countries. Daron Acemoglu’s work here is (generally) very, very good.

              Reply
                1. Typing Chimp

                  I wrote a relatively well-thought out response that I think got eaten up in the cloud. This response is much more scattered and quickly written.

                  My personal take is that the US is still better than the vast majority of other countries, although the trend is probably going in the wrong direction. I really want to stress that I don’t spend much time outside of my very technical field, though (the last few weeks have been an aberration), so I don’t necessarily have any in-depth background in this area.

                  However, in general, you can assume that the institutions function well–you may disagree with the president, for example, but the bureaucracy will follow him and you will accept his right to be president based on the election results. The president may be a boor, but if he gets voted out in November (paranoid fantasies notwithstanding), he will leave, whether he likes it or not.

                  Similarly, if the Supreme Court comes out with a terrible ruling (lol–purely hypothetical, of course), people will complain about it, but they will follow it (in fact, the powers that be try to game the system by stacking the Supreme Court in their favor according to the rules laid out in the Constitution, as opposed to simply ignoring it). Also, the military will not decide to conduct a coup because they don’t like their budgets being cut. Etc.

                  I am not saying that the US is perfect (or even that things are not getting worse), only that there is a fairly predictable framework by which people can make decisions and anticipate outcomes.

                  This is really a big deal, and it is very, very hard to replicate elsewhere–over the last hundred or so years, I know of only a handful of countries that have really been able to transition to such a system (Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Chile, Israel–I might be missing a few). They may have odious laws, but those laws are generally respected (for example, whatever its numerous flaws, Israel has no problems investigating and charging their PMs for corruption, you can look up former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew’s policies and how he treated anybody he considered a threat to his grip on power, and I assume you know enough about Pinochet that I don’t need to detail his actions). Some areas are clearly sliding backwards, likely irrecoverably so (Hong Kong, much of the formerly “civilized” areas in the Middle East).

                  Maybe a good “get rich quick” scheme involves finding a few countries that are likely to make that transition and betting heavily long on them. You’ll likely be extremely lucky to find only one or two over a 20-30 year period, but the the growth would likely pay back for itself many hundreds of times over.

                  You could also presumably find areas that are regressing and short them (Hong Kong screams to mind), but that is much more difficult–largely because you need to find a way to short such areas in a way that allows you to still recover your money.

                  Just some off-beat thoughts…I’m interested in your response, but should go back to work, so I may not be able to reply quickly…

                  Reply
                  1. JBird4049

                    One of the single most important things that a successful polity needs is an agreed upon rules for it. Whatever they’re on and regardless of size or complexity of the whole thing.

                    Upfront, I must say that I am a socialist who is to the left of Bernie Sanders, but in our country, and the whole international system, it is the lack of agreement, of fairness, or at least something akin to Vladimir Putin’s being “agreement capable” that is the problem. Not exactly what kind of economic system that exist. Socialism might be better, but it too would be failing if it was as corrupt as the current capitalist system.

                    This rule of law, which can include not only the written law, but also the spoken and unspoken agreements, customs, traditions, even the unconscious expectations of how Things Are Done: this is essential because without it there is no trust, no co-operation, no protection other than by brute power.

                    For example, the US Congress, which created over two hundred years, the whole system of legislating for the United States; laws, procedures, customs, and expectations along with the very large support staff including researchers that the Congresscritters needed to write good legislation. Starting IIRC in 1990, it all went away.

                    Congressional research agencies giving inconvenient facts? Cut them. The supposed bloated government? Cut the support staff. Power accrued through seniority and basic politeness slowing things down? Start (figuratively) bomb throwing. Want to ram secret legislation through? Give the legislators and their reduced staff only a few days or even hours to read hundreds or thousands of pages. Block or delay everything that the other party wants merely because they want it. Or pass, or just pretend to try, legislation dealing with the explosive issues like gunz, abortion, and climate change.

                    The Congress of 2020 is in no way as capable as the Congress of 1970. The tools needed to legislate, the knowledge needed to write the laws and make the agreements as well as the comity necessary for getting the votes no longer exist.

                    However, those with the money can get what they want through Congress. The bankruptcy “reforms” that chain students to debts, civil asset forfeiture, TSA, NSA, ICE, Homeland Security, the permanent undeclared wars, the lead poisoning, climate change, Puerto Rico, the War on Some Drugs, Forced arbitration, the obliteration of manufacturing, and on and on. Whatever few laws do get past always, always favors the rich and everyone else can go die.

                    This is becoming a hollow government that uses its now limited ability to further tip the scales against the masses and for the elites, consequences be damned as long as the bribes are delivered. And people know this. Don’t think that they don’t. And don’t think that political ideology has anything to do with the disgust as it is human nature, probably instinctive, to really hate unfairness although what is unfair might be seriously disagreed on.

                    Further, people often complain about the violence in “those” communities(cue dog whistles), but fail to see the often brutal and illegal activities of the police in those same communities; one of the greatest reasons for the decline in violence over the centuries is the creation of the state with the exclusive right to judge and to punish especially on murders and executions. So long as the state is see as fairly, or even at least trying to, adjudicate guilt and punishment including physical protection, then people are willing to not seek their private justice. That usually means violence, even murder, at levels that exceed whatever even a draconian state might do.

                    Well, the police in large areas of the country are more of an occupying army including automatic weapons, armored vehicles, Darth Vader uniforms, looting via civil asset forfeiture and other unfairly given tickets. These armies seem to be focused on supporting themselves and local governments by looting the population.

                    Not to mention the violent, heavily armed, militarized SWAT teams that often kill the dogs, destroy the home, and point guns at children for such things as well possible marijuana possession or an arrest warrant for people who no longer live there. Then there is the planting of evidence, testilying, assault for whatever, murder of unarmed because of “fearing for their life”; strangely, in those communities, people do not call the police. That means getting their own private justice or protection using violence including guns.

                    All levels of government is being hollowed out with fewer services being given to the general population, but first class service to the elites. The rule of law is becoming less meaningful, but state sanctioned murder, theft, and bribery is slowly becoming more meaningful.

                    This does not mean that there are not good people in government or the police, but they being overwhelmed, and losing the trust of the nation. Once enough of the nation loses that trust, or faith in the state, that state falls.

                    Reply
          4. Typing Chimp

            Sure they can compensate by devaluing their currency. However, that immediately impoverishes them by effectively paying more for imports and getting less for exports. How is this compensating? It simply makes the country poorer over time and the country cannot actually compensate.

            I thought of a different way to answer your question, btw:

            Currency devaluation acts as a method for shifting wealth from capital owners (the wealthy) to debtors (the rest), who can now pay their debts in less valuable currency.

            It also redistributes wealth by (indirectly) creating jobs, which again is a transfer of wealth from the net creditors to the net debtors.

            So when you are talking about “impoverishing them”, you need to be clear who the “them” refers to–it does not impact everybody in the UK equally.

            The rest of the response–especially the part about capital flows driving trade flows–still holds. I just thought you might find this additional response worthwhile.

            Reply
        2. vlade

          “but a country in control of its own currency, as the UK is, can largely compensate for for trade problems if it chooses to do so”

          No, it can’t. cf North Korea (even if it wasn’t under all sorts of sanctions).

          To be able to trade, you have to have something to sell, not only willingness to buy.

          Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            Yes, correct. No MMTer has ever acted like no external constraints exist.

            US has the most policy freedom of anyone in the world because it issues the reserve currency. Lots of countries are perfectly happy to sell us goods/services and just take USD in return.

            UK doesn’t have nearly that much policy room.

            Reply
            1. Typing Chimp

              No–the US issues the reserve currency because no other country is stupid enough to accept the consequences of high unemployment and large trade deficits that a reserve currency implies. The US has so far been willing to do so, partly out of historical reasons, partly because the State Department is willing to trade its domestic strength for international leverage, partly because the financial sector has such a strong hold on the politicians, and partly because the US can get away with treating their poor in a much worse manner than the Europeans can.

              Read up on the Triffin Dilemma (even the Wikipedia article is a decent start)–it’s an eye-opener.

              But the cost/benefit for the US in continuing this course of action has become increasingly burdensome, and so at some point the US will simply walk away from this current mess of an arrangement. I am guessing that Trump’s election was the first salvo based on his campaign rhetoric. He didn’t follow through in any meaningful way, but this issue is not going to go away–essentially, US (and UK) unemployment rates are basically an output of an equation. The inputs to that equation are “How much unemployment do the French President, German Chancellor, and Chinese Premier wish to have?” These countries then buy enough USDs to meet their targets (and yes, I am simplifying here, but not by very much), and the US is left with the resulting outcome.

              Reply
              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Let’s not get too revisionist here, after WWII every nation except the U.S. was prostrate, face down on the ground. It’s not as though the U.S. sat there and made a purposeful choice to run permanent trade deficits, they needed an international medium of exchange. With oil priced and settled in USD, the U.S. was in the enviable position of being able to print oil, whereas every other nation had to first be productive, yielding a decent national currency, which they could then exchange for USD and oil. That got turbocharged of course with the petro-dollar (Mafia-style protection racket for the oil states). Today we’re seeing the variable effects of disinflation (especially since 2009) because the source of 2/3rds of the global dollar supply (offshore Euro-dollars) is sputtering.

                Alhambra Partners’ Eurodollar University is an excellent primer on the history of this: https://alhambrapartners.com/2019/04/22/eurodollar-university-the-overview/

                And to those imagining that the U.S. will, should, or can “walk away”, I would ask: I favor of what exactly? The Euro? Yen? Yuan? Bitcoin?

                Reply
                1. Typing Chimp

                  Yes, historical factors are one of the reasons we are in this mess. However, if you look at the costs that the US is paying, it would likely be much happier to just buy the oil in whatever currency denomination the other side is asking.

                  Post WWII, the US GDP was something like 40% of world GDP (I don’t remember the number exactly), and so the US was willing to support such policies explicilty via the Marshall Plan and implicitly by the Bretton-Woods agreement and by permitting/somewhat encouraging trade deficits (and the associated rise in domestic unemployment) as some of the many planks in its effort to win the Cold War.

                  Bretton Woods lacked any balancing mechanisms that would prevent countries from running large and sustained capital/trade surpluses, and so of course countries began to do so. The combination of Bretton Woods and the 1940s and 1950s global dollar shortages that impeded world trade caused countries to sharply undervalue their currencies and thereby run large trade surpluses and accumulate US dollars.

                  However, by the 1960s, Europe and America’s Asian allies were rebuilt and there was no longer a dollar shortage. Nonetheless, the Europeans and Asians continued to game the system because their manufacturing interests were heavily dependant on those exports for revenue (sound familiar?). In essence, Europe was transferring wealth from the household sector to the business sector long after it made any economic sense to do so, and they were offloading the consequences by transferring the costs to the US, whose GDP now comprised significantly less than 40% of world GDP but who continued (and continues) to pay all the costs associated with keeping the system stable by basically acting as an infinite source/sink for global excess goods and capital.

                  In essence, the US was (and is) subsidizing ever-growing and richer countries while receiving ever diminishing benefits from those subsidies because its share of the overall pie was shrinking, and it did/does so by absorbing the costs via higher debt and domestic unemployment. Moreover, because it is backstopping the system, it cannot game it the way all the other players can. As a result, a country comprising maybe 18% of world GDP is backstopping all the other countries. This is clearly not tenable–again, look up the Triffin dilemma. Moreover, there is no more Cold War that makes this even worthwhile for international gain.

                  And so the US will walk away in one way or another. The only way it can really do so is by curtailing capital inflows, which likely implies political isolation again (although I guess it could resort to something like Keynes’ Bancor idea). The net impact will be that the rest of the world (think China, Japan and Germany in particular) will have to absorb the shocks that it has so far thrown off to the US and that Wall Street will shrink and Main Street will expand.

                  My personal guess is that Germany will continue to try to force the rest of Europe to absorb its problems, and that the rest of Europe will eventually tell Germany to F!@# off, causing German unemployment to explode. More importantly, though, I suspect that China cannot absorb its share of the burden and that the country is going to go through complete and utter hell, possibly breaking up.

                  In the meantime, the MIC will likely do well.

                  Reply
                2. jsn

                  In the spirit of not getting too revisionist here, during the latter years of the war, the english speaking allies got together at Bretton Woods to work out a post war global monetary system. Oil was certainly understood to be an essential commodity at that point, I believe FDR had already met with Ibn Saud to settle certain terms of oil supply and distribution, but the US Treasury was adamant on maintaining the dollar gold peg.

                  Keynes, who understood MMT, although he would have just though of it as a fiat system which he had personally run at Treasury during the First World War, also understood the inherent deflationary bias of the currency peg, calling the gold standard “a barbaric relic”, and the inherent incentives the gold standard brought to bear on nations to pursue mercantilism.

                  He proposed “bancor” as an inter-central bank currency to be used to settle foreign accounts. This inter-central bank currency would be structured to pressure nations to balance out monetary flows to prevent mercantilism, forcing net creditors to reduce lending and net debtor nations to decrease borrowing using their local currencies to redirect investment and consumption to cause this to happen.

                  Harry White, US chief negotiator, using the US Treasury’s full clout, discarded this and set the world on a dollar peg with the dollar pegged to gold as well. US conservatives think White was a Soviet agent because there is correspondence with him on monetary subjects in the Soviet archives. To my mind, from the material I’ve read, it looks like White was a sympathetic American with socialistic predilections who had been tasked with coordinating monetary and trade issues with the Soviets who took 80% of the casualties during WW2, developing trust and relationships with may senior Soviet administrators. In any case, he did, in implementing US Treasury wishes, set up a system designed to fail.

                  It took a quarter century of western multinationals setting up tax havens, falsifying trans-national invoicing and concealing profits before the combined pressure of funding the stupid war in Viet Nam while trying to win a “war on poverty”, whatever that is (it’s certainly morphed into a war on the poor), resulted in the US importing more resources including oil than it exported, finally depleting US gold stocks to the point Nixon pulled the gold peg.

                  The spawn of Ibn Saud thus deprived of US gold flows, shut down oil exports. Neoliberals pounced on the inflation that ensued, blaming it on union wage contracts and collective bargaining, the Powel Memo was effectuated into a system of privately funded anti-New Deal, neoliberal institutions outside government focused on decoupling elected government from from economic planning. At the same time neoliberal propaganda was targeted at local and state governments explaining how markets could solve everything and states should contract out to profit seeking entities all the functions they could.

                  Political chaos reigned along with stagflation which was choked to death along with US labor power just as natural gas deregulation took the cost pressure off of energy inefficient US manufacturers and actually ended the stagflation. Volker got credit, which was important to validating the false claim that union wage contracts were the root cause of the inflation.

                  At the end of this mess, Neoliberalism was almost fully installed with Reagan’s election. By this point, OPEC had come to terms with the reality that their exports were valueless unless they exported them and because as monarchists they had no intention of spreading the wealth or developing at home, they had no choice but to recycle the dollars they got for their oil into the US financial markets.

                  Since then, an unholy alliance of OPEC, other oil producing states like Russia, Norway and the UK have done all within their collective power, using the Powel Memo institutions to propagate the TINA narrative with regards to Neoliberalism and the extractive economy and as a bonus a speci-cidal pseudoscience of climate change denial.

                  Should the US decide to “walk away”, all it needs to is quit selling Treasury bonds to foreigners. Of course that would leave the US where the possibly no longer so U K has put itself: looking for all the real resources it used to import, in the UK food, in the US the ability to make anything but modern buildings (which Trump, incidentally, wants to end). Only speculators and international investors need to find a substitute for whatever they’re using dollars for now, all of them, the Euro, the Yen, the Yuan are just social contracts, when they kill their respective societies, that contract ends.

                  Reply
                  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                    Excellent. We could do more of what Japan does: the entity issuing the bonds buys them from itself. They are at 230% debt to GDP with that and the trains still run on time, we’re at a mere 105%

                    Reply
          2. mpalomar

            Not a black and white statement, “can largely compensate for for trade problems if it chooses to do so.”

            Certainly the UK was in better position to exit because it hadn’t joined the eurozone, where as the Greeks never really had a chance without a currency to devalue etc.

            ‘Compensating’ doesn’t suggest an absence of pain only that an attempt can be made to ameliorate conditions through currency policy.

            My untutored two cents is that the outcome of Brexit for the UK will be disastrous mostly to the extent that the people managing it like Johnson and his ilk, who will use it to further the extraction of wealth from the 90%.

            Corbyn’s clumsy and messy position, that the issues that matter, protecting the 90% from the 10%, will always be there whether in or out of the EU and in fact might be easier to manage from within the nation state structure than the supranational construction of the EU.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I don’t see how you can “compensate for trade problems.” The UK is not an autarky, not even close. Dependent on foreigners for food, energy, and pharma. And no way to fix that.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Alas, the concept of “The Jackpot” does indeed provide a way to fix the problems you mention. Institute “Go Die” in a massive scale. If one is focused on the status of a small part of the population, the dying back of the other portion of the population would be viewed as perhaps “God’s Work,” writ large.
                I am much too cynical, but that stance has not been proved wrong yet. (I wish that it was proved wrong. I grew up a classic Romantic-Meritocrat.)

                Reply
              2. Keith Newman

                ”Largely compensate for trade problems” to me means: 1- offsetting possible employment losses by expanding public services such as education, child care, health care, seniors’ care, public transit; also shorter working time; etc. 2-industrial policy to locally produce appropriate goods and services (the US does this on a vast scale through military spending). Re imports: part of my point at the start of this long thread is that this is about a trade deal, not an embargo or blockade and it is not in anyone’s interest to impose one. The pound might go down in value, maybe (currency value is notoriously difficult to predict), but in any case it has dropped considerably over the last decades anyway (it was around $2.75 in the 1970s compared to 1.3 today). All it would mean is that some products will cost more (French cheeses, Namibian grapes, Egyptian raspberries) but so what? They’ll still be available. If energy costs rise the much needed shift away from hydrocarbons will be all the easier: better public transit and intercity trains, better insulation, wind power, other improved efficiencies, and so forth.

                Reply
          3. Typing Chimp

            Every model that I have seen distinguishes between “credible” and “not credible” countries. You can more or less distinguish them by dividing them into the first world and the third world countries.

            The UK is, for all of its shortcomings, the first world and “credible” (were it not credible, nobody would want to put money into it). NK, for whatever virtues it may have, is squarely in the 3rd world and is not credible.

            Reply
          4. skippy

            All this talk about MMT without reconciling the currant administration vs a PK one E.g. NAIRU.

            All reminiscent of some confusion about discussing things with conflicting monetarist and MMT views – hard and soft money at the same time.

            But like Trump said … if you don’t vote for me your portfolio gets it behind the shed … seems he likes the reverse Grandin method.

            Reply
    4. curious euro

      What you experience is the difference between Crash Out Brexit and transition period with a temporary agreement.
      Britain muddled through cause they accepted the WA which they rejected almost a full year for reasons of power grabbing.

      In the end they will pretty much agree to all the demands which were laid out 4 years ago since anything else, like again crash out no contract, will be a catastrophically worse scenario.

      Then they will go on to make various trade agreements all over the world with very much less favorable deals than before. The end result is an even worse impoverishment of the UK than before and maybe even a splintering of the UK itself or civil unrest so bad that the military must be called in. Secessionism is rarely pretty.

      Reply
          1. Clive

            But slightly over egging the catastropocising pudding given that the trade and economic impact is a grand total of £6bn additional customs payments which will fall due on exports.

            As for non-tariff costs, it is a complex picture (e.g. this long form analysis). But I’ve not seen anything credible to back up your claims to anything like the full extent that you advanced them.

            Reply
          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wait, here in the lovely 2020’s so far we’ve got plagues of fire, pestilence, and locusts. Still to come: Blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, boils, darkness for 3 days, and death of firstborn.

            But I’m confused: does plague of Hilary come before or after plague of boils?

            Reply
        1. ambrit

          Please forgive me for being crypto-declasse, but the ‘divine affliction’ you mention would more properly be described as “a plague of Frogs.”
          crypto-declasse- adjective- (1) “having fallen from social status one has merely imagined attaining” (2) “not interesting enough to be considered boring”

          Reply
      1. Typing Chimp

        Favourable deals for whom? If the UK can’t trade favorably, it will not accept foreign money. That will put Germany in a depression far more quickly and severely than it will hurt the UK because productive investment in the current era is not constrained by a lack of capital, it is constrained by demand.

        In fact, if the UK actually chooses to rebalance away from the financial sector and introduce reforms to have more money flow to households (also known as when pigs fly scenario), it will do tremendously well economically. This again almost follows automatically from the arithmetic once you alter your initial assumptions and begin with the idea that capital flows drive trade flows–trade flows do not drive capital flows.

        Reply
    5. Conor O'Brien

      Congratulations, your experiences are confirming the predictions on the effect of Brexit.
      There will be no changes in Britains trade with the EU for the rest of the year.

      This is from the BBC website
      “Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU

      27 January 2020

      …both sides still need to decide what their future relationship will look like.
      This will be worked out during the transition period (which some prefer to call the implementation period), which begins immediately after Brexit day and is due to end on 31 December 2020.

      During this 11-month period, the UK will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same.”

      After that, who knows?
      But I hope that the British negotiating team is more aware of potential consequences, and that it acts to maintain the normality that you obviously appreciate.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        On a related note perhaps — can someone explain to me why the British pound remains so strong? Doesn’t the UK have a big trade deficit, especially with the EU? Is anything still manufactured in England that the rest of the world wants?

        Reply
    6. MK

      Well Keith, the responses you’ve elicited kinda prove the point.

      The horror doesn’t apparently begin until later.

      Interested in seeing where Germany, France and Italy politics are in 3 years.

      He who panics first, panics best.

      Reply
      1. Clive

        Our cultures are replete with parables such as “Chicken Little” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” for precisely this reason: to remind us that it is important to have the right warnings, at the right time, about the right things, made in the right way.

        Words have meaning and they can often have power. Misuse of words, especially for our own selfish ends, has consequences. A society which is driving itself half-mad with anxiety, trying to concern itself with everything, all the time, is a society which is inherently dysfunctional.

        Reply
      2. Typing Chimp

        Interested in seeing where Germany, France and Italy politics are in 3 years.

        This one is easy–depression, banking crises, and likely very strong right and strong left showings, all of which lead to extremely strong anti-immigration and likely increased predelection for war (LOL–the US will be criticizing Europe for being so hawkish…)

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL The Europeans going for war. Them and which army? I think there’s a whole host of reasons why the Eurozone is screwed but it will continue to be with a whimper, not a bang.

          Reply
      3. skippy

        All this about Brexit when nothing has really happened, not to mention the big fish tend to position first and the little fish lotto last.

        All in a back drop that can catch a flu at the same time regardless of ideological machinations.

        Reply
    7. vlade

      If you were an exporter to Japan, you’d have noticed. Well, sort of. Because the EU (and the UK, for a year) had an FTA with Japan.

      Which Japan said it would not roll over for the UK – and I believe it even refused to extend it over the transitional period (although I haven’t checked recently, so I might be wrong there).

      So you’d be now in the situation you were about a year ago. Which, fortunately, isn’t really that bad, as most people didn’t forget how to do Japanese custom forms in a year (especially since it was well telegraphed Japan wouldn’t roll).

      As for how it goes in a year’s time, well, we’ll see. I’ll be fairly curious to see the reaction of the UK businesses (and the EU) when they realise that there’s not going to be an FTA.

      Reply
    8. shtove

      You omitted the condition of no-deal Brexit, which would have meant no transition period. Come back after July for a progress report.

      Reply
    9. New Wafer Army

      Spiffing tale of steely British grit, old boy. Why did you not take an Imperial Airways flying boat from Casablanca? Far better pipe-smoking lounge on board. Did you see any Bosch while you were there? I imagine you reduced them to quivering wrecks with your stiff upper lip and your glowering monocled eye, just like we showed those cads in Brussels, eh? Good show, chum.

      Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    Costco Capitalism Brian Lehrer (resilc)

    Interesting and thoughtful article, I’d recommend reading down to the end where he discusses the real paradoxes and hard decisions needed when it comes to consuming ethically.

    I don’t know much about Costco (its attempts to move into Europe were I think partly stymied by retail policies in the UK and Ireland which discourage their type of ‘sell everything’ big box store), but much in its strategy seems similar to stores like Aldi and Lidl (the latter apparently being a little less ‘ethical’ than the former). The focus on just keeping a limited range of reasonably good quality goods, sold as cheaply as possible seems a simple thing, although the relatively few successful examples i guess shows that its harder than it looks. It does seem significant I think that companies that genuinely try to give good value to the consumer, and not sell junk, also tend to treat their employees well (Aldi are well known in Europe for good pay and genuine promotion paths, although they work them very, very hard). Perhaps also significantly, Aldi and Lidl are privately owned and don’t have to answer to shareholders.

    Reply
    1. carl

      Aldi is represented in the US by Trader Joe’s, who has an equally if not more passionate following than that described in the Costco article.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        In my experience the quality of many prodcuts at Trader Joe’s is not as good as with Costco. Like Costco, TJ uses their purchasing power to drive hard bargains with their suppliers, but I don’t think they have as much clout. I’ve had some disappointments with TJ’s merchandise and will only shop there for a few specific items. My experience with Costco is that the quality of the products is generally very good. But the plastic in Costco is off the hook – especially the bottled water and drinks, and there is a lot of wasteful packaging in general. The company has the power to be a real leader in environmental waste issues if they would choose to be.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          But if they lead where their customers will not follow, what will happen to their customer base?
          If Costco went no-excess-plastic on a cold turkey basis, would their customers flee to other stores which offer all-the-plastic-you-like?

          Now, if Costco were to set up little lo-plastic bring-your-own-container bulk-fill bulk-weigh zonal islands, and see how many customers support that, then Costco could take very slow paced careful steps to enhance the lo-plastic experience and disenhance the hi-plastic experience as more customers show themselves ready to move to the lo-plastic side.

          Reply
        2. Harry

          My impression as well. I also like their own brand products for bin liners or paper products. However I dont think their pricing is that good. Cheap gas is good. But the scale of the purchases required give you an inventory management problem. And the savings are not vast. It is in our shopping rotation for certain items, but how often can you really use 12 croissants or 15lbs of potatoes? They are doing well, but they are giving a deal which just isnt that good, its just better than most of the North American alternatives. Which are pretty poor compared to the UK.

          Reply
      2. pretzelattack

        there are also aldi stores in the u.s. tj tends to be more expensive, and doesn’t have as wide a range of different types of products. the chains are owned by different branches of the same family. i prefer aldi.

        Reply
      3. katiebird

        I think Aldi has better quality than Trader Joes and is much more affordable. I used to go to TJ for special treats but Aldi has expanded their stores and now when I go to TJ, I wander around aimlessly and leave empty handed.

        Reply
  4. Mark Gisleson

    Odd how the WaPost article on the Caucuses glosses over the math errors, stonewalling and — most egregiously — the birthday party two days before the Caucuses where the Shadow folks and IDP Chair Troy Price partied all night even though the app was still messing up.

    Nice to see the Post throw Perez under the bus, but hard to see the angle that justifies exonerating Price, unless it’s to keep folks from asking too many questions about 2016 because if there is a problem with Price, 2016 needs to be reexamined.

    Today’s recount will be interesting (did the Post remember to mention it?).

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Yeah, after all the trouble I went through to read a non paywalled version of the story, I felt like I could have skipped the effort. Not a whole lot of content to that story at all.

      It’s almost as if the purpose of the piece was to protect Perez.

      Reply
    2. Harry Cording

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-iowa-caucuses-came-crashing-down-under-the-watchful-eye-of-the-dnc/2020/02/15/25b17e7e-4f5f-11ea-b721-9f4cdc90bc1c_story.html

      Pretty sure that the Iowa APP, (NEW, now with transparency!!) performed flawlessly for Tom Perez and the DNC.
      DNC transparency means that Perez and his co-conspirators feel emboldened in the age of Trump to run these corrupt operations in plain sight.

      For Nevada the APP had already performed an unspecified amount of earky voting by the time they announced it would not be used on voting day.
      How convenient is that?

      Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    The real places and stories behind ‘Parasite’ Asia Times. Kevin W: “Worth reading through to the end, especially the end.”

    Very interesting, if somewhat garbled article (did the author really mean it when he said South Korea doesn’t have a class system? I doubt most Koreans would agree).

    I was in South Korea last year and spent a lot of time walking and cycling around some of the neighbourhoods mentioned in the article. It is very noticeable that the overwhelming majority of Koreans seem to live in fairly average, nondescript tower blocks. Really bad housing, and really super expensive housing, seemed quite rare, even though both very obviously exist. Its very noticeable that despite very low crime rates, the expensive housing was almost always behind high, impenetrable walls (lots of upmarket apartments were the same – the walling sometimes also doubling up as acoustic screens). Many mid-market apartment blocks are similarly secured, mostly seemingly associated with companies – it wasn’t unusual to see a large development labelled ‘Samsung’ or ‘LG’. This is quite distinct from Japan, where the rich often go to some degree of pains to make their homes seem quite regular and ordinary from the outside.

    As to the last statement, the current government seems quite progressive, although there were constant protests against it while I was there – all involving thousands of elderly people, all waving identical flags and banners – ‘all bussed in from the countryside’ as the receptionist in the hostel I was staying in put it. It will be interesting to see if increasing property taxes will succeed.

    Reply
    1. Coldhearted Liberal

      The split level house style the article mentions also often acts (or used to, I’m not sure the current situation) as a tax avoidance measure (the Korean government has a tax on large houses). The buildings are “legally” two or more houses (extra doors, post office numbers, etc), but the walls are knocked down.

      Reply
    2. mpalomar

      While there is no “class” in South Korea – the ancient class system was dismantled in the 1880s, and disappeared during the 1910-1945 colonial era
      – From the article; it seems to be referencing a past feudal system no longer applicable, the article does go on to make extensive use of explicit class description.

      The movie itself struck me as heavy handed and recalls Snowpiercer, Bong’s other similarly themed movie derived from graphic novel fare that has the lower class forgotten at the back of the train while the other classes are forward. Parasite even managed to throw in sea level rise as the lower town inhabitants are flooded out of their homes.

      That said I’m very glad the director has chosen to treat this subject, it requires the full attention that our manufactured culture would prefer to deny. I’m amazed the ‘industry’ in lala land even acknowledged it, an industry structured with a small group of haves employing staff and having ‘people.’

      What bothered me, other than the ham fisted depiction of class struggle, was the inference of who the parasites were. Before seeing the film I had expected a more subtle treatment of who the real parasites are in class structure. That was unexplored and the depiction of the lower classes willing to turn on one another for the crumbs of the rich was a cynical take on Gould’s law, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

      Also reminded me of Louis Malle’s film Milou en Mai which I thought excellent when I saw it many decades ago. Don’t know how it would hold up on viewing now. Finally also somehow brought to mind Curb Your Enthusiasm which I’ve recently been watching for the first time which occasionally deals with the ‘help’ issue and is apparently set in the interchangeable McMansions of LA show biz industry.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        It’s true, the upper classes could have been more explicitly portrayed as parasites also, if the filmmaker had wanted to go there. But that would have made the story much more complicated, and likely would have lengthened the movie too.

        Reply
        1. mpalomar

          But that would have made the story much more complicated
          -Indeed but perhaps would have made it better. Film over the last decade or so has morphed toward graphic novel, Marvel and DC Comics plotting, narrative and visual technique. Largely the result of Speilburg, Lucas, Cameron and a slew of next generation directors who have unleashed the studios craven pursuit of block buster returns at the expense of plot and character development.
          I just watched Fellini’s 8 1/2 again and found it as compelling nearly sixty years later as when I first saw it. I suspect Eric Rohmer’s work now would never make it out of the cutting room.

          Reply
      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’m no Korean linguist, but I understand the Korean name only loosely translates as ‘parasite’. It is closer to ‘insect’, specifically an insect that might be living hiding in your house or under the carpet and has a few other colloquial meanings. So the title is more ambiguous than the English translation suggests.

        This is always the issue with translating films (as with anything). However much we pretend to understand for comparative purposes compare, there is almost always going to be some subtlety lost with ‘foreign’ films (its not just language that doesn’t always ‘translate’.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          the native audience is always going to recognize shared experiences, and how those experiences are interpreted by the actors. the foreign audience has no appropriate shared frame of reference.

          Reply
        2. mpalomar

          the Korean name only loosely translates as ‘parasite’. It is closer to ‘insect’, specifically an insect that might be living hiding in your house or under the carpet
          Which brings to my mind the unsavory cockroach but as you note there is something lost between cultures in translation.
          Whatever the actual title, the article describes the perception of the victimhood of the rich because of their naiveté, their golden cross to bear. That is a major flaw in my opinion. naive? willfully so perhaps.
          Still I’m glad Bong made the film, it is provocative and though the characters lacked expository depth it is in line with a dominant style of film today.

          Reply
        3. eg

          Note the disgust Ki-taek displays for the “stinkbug” (that’s the English subtitle) in his basement apartment, and how he hopes the street fumigation will rid him of the pests if he leaves his windows open.

          Then later much is made by the rich Parks of the distinctive smell of “subway users” and other poor Koreans. Ki-taek comes to realize that he and his family are perceived by his “betters” much as he perceives the “stinkbugs” — I believe this is behind his enraged killing of Dong-ik.

          All of the “classes” depicted in the film can be interpreted as “parasites” in one way or another

          Reply
        4. eg

          Note the disgust Ki-taek displays for the “stinkbug” (that’s the English subtitle) in his basement apartment, and how he hopes the street fumigation will rid him of the pests if he leaves his windows open.

          Then later much is made by the rich Parks of the distinctive smell of “subway users” and other poor Koreans. Ki-taek comes to realize that he and his family are perceived by his “betters” much as he perceives the “stinkbugs” — I believe this is behind his enraged killing of Dong-ik.

          All of the “classes” depicted in the film can be interpreted as “parasites” in one way or another

          Reply
    3. D. Fuller

      A little off topic, yet concerning film and documentaries.

      If anyone is interested, Princes of Yen is another good documentary. One can usually find it on youtube. There was another documentary concerning New Zealand and neoliberalism’s effects on the poor. Unfortunately, I can not recall the name.

      Concerning Princes of Yen, the effects that Japan has suffered through now has parallels in the United States.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Especially good film. Makes one realize how a nation’s currency, in other words their entire lifeblood and economic basis, can simply become a plaything for people with, shall we say charitably, “other” interests than the prosperity of the citizens.

        Reply
  6. Louis Fyne

    Just watched Parasite, try to watch it if you haven’t. Not like anything that comes out of Hollywood.

    Best to go in blind about any plot point. It works on so many different levels…..whether as an allegory about global inequality or a cinematic ride in another setting.

    Even older teenagers *might* like it, I’d give it a PG-15 [sic] rating.

    Only nitpick: I’d re-edit the final scene to give the main characters slightly different endings.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      not mentioned in that article, the house used in Parasite was built specifically for the movie as a set. Architecture Digest has an article about it.

      But given the fame of the movie, I imagine a replica will be built as a tourist attraction

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The sets are amazing in the film. My own personal theory is that the design and layout of the house is based on the ‘high’ house in Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low. I think Bong does refer to it as an influence (there are other echos in the film as well, including having a small boy with a cowboys and indians fixation).

        Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      no weirdness on my end.
      but there’s a whole lot of box checking.
      if we simply must check a bunch of boxes, allow me to put forward Michelle Alexander for VP.
      the Blue Machinery will go into convulsions
      Clerked for Blackmun, too.(Roe v Wade)

      Reply
      1. Calvin

        Tulsi Gabbard, young, healthy, military and best of all, she scares the plutodemodonors to death, thus assuring no messing with Sanders’ health or “an accident”.

        As a rabid Bernie supporter, there are a few V.P. choices that would cause me to vote for Trump, even were Sanders the nominee:

        Any of the women mentioned, except Tulsi, Bloomberg, Biden, or Buttigig. Venture to say that if Bernie really wants to unify the country, he might consider an across the aisle choice, how about Jim Webb? Yup, a republican, and if not V.P., along with Gabbard, and excellent cabinet choice for the War Department.

        Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Angry Cockatoo Tears Down Anti-Bird Spikes And Throws Them To The Ground”

    I think that Cockatoo was a cat in a former life.

    Reply
    1. John A

      Be interesting if a cockatoo were able to tear down the anti homeless person sleeping outside the building spikes that are appearing in many parts of London.

      Reply
  8. PlutoniumKun

    The Cancer Industry: Hype vs. Reality – Scientific American

    Excellent, and depressing article.

    In a recent editorial in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, Ioannidis and four co-authors argue that cancer screening (especially mammograms and PSA tests) does more harm than good and should be abandoned. They expect this proposal to be met with “fierce opposition.” Screening they note, “is big business: more screening means more patients, more clinical revenue to diagnostic and clinical departments, and more survivors in need of care and follow‐up.”

    This is a vitally important point, and one that can be quite hard to communicate, even to experts. Ireland, like all European countries, has far more limited cancer screening than the US, for exactly this reason – in only a few situations can it be demonstrated to save lives (primarily breast cancer screening for over-50’s, and cervical cancer screening). Here in Ireland one oncologist regularly appeared on the media calling for universal breast cancer screening and went as far as accusing other doctors of sexism for not supporting the calls. I asked an academic doctor friend (who specialises in this sort of analysis), whether she was right, and he just shrugged and said ‘she is talking dangerous nonsense, but nobody can stop her from talking to the media’. Whether she just doesn’t understand the statistics, or is taking money from the industry, nobody can say – but there are many just like her. There is far too much money in screening and the associated excessive treatments.

    There are also regular calls here for some unfortunate child dying of cancer to be ‘sent to the US for real treatment’ – the ‘treatment’, invariably being some super expensive untested method, which is not used in Europe because its simply not been demonstrated to work. These appeals are invariably associated with heartbreaking photos of the dying child and claims that its all due to a tightfisted government that refuses to pay to save the childs life. Its very, very hard for anyone to go on the media to challenge this type of claim with an argument only backed by statistical analysis. Perhaps i’m being cynical, but I can’t help thinking that many of these campaigns are backed by certain industries.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      in our cancer adventure, one major improvement over times past really stands out: the effectiveness of the anti-nausia drugs.
      especially something called “Emend”, which is given by IV before the chemo poisons are hooked up.
      folks with cancer i’ve known in the past were always puking and having debilitating diarrhea….thankfully, we have not…and informal polling(“talking to people”) indicates that this lack of those symptoms is pretty widespread, and rather surprising to all involved.
      our oncologist has said from the get-go that when the first-line-through 5th line treatments eventually stop working(it’s a losing battle), she wants to try clinical trials.
      i understand these to be signing up for human guinnea pig status…but of course wife will only tolerate so much of my cynicism in such matters.
      it is theoretically how science advances…but the cartelised profit driven nature of medicine, today, gives me ample pause.
      regardless…i’m happy wife is still with us…and that she has good days where she forgets she even has cancer.
      and the people who take care of us both…doctors, nurses, nurse’s aides and cleaning ladies…they’re the most important part of all this. I don’t know where they keep their capes.

      Reply
      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Sorry about you and your wife’s struggles Amfortis,

        Just a note on the nausea and GI issues, they are all about serotonin. Before these NK1 antagonists like Aprepitant most drugs focused on blocking the Setotonin 3A receptor. Aprepitant decreases serotonin, which I feel is better than blocking the receptor.

        Most chemo drugs will increase serotonin by blocking the action of DHFR in the folate cycle which will lead to a riboflavin deficiency. The riboflavin deficiency will slow the metabolism of serotonin leading to nausea and GI upset.

        Methotrexate has caused mania in sensitive people which points to this increase in amines.

        They have recently found that limiting riboflavin to a cancer cell can switch it off. This is because riboflavin is crucial in cellular energy. But riboflavin also plays a huge role in the folate cycle. It might be as well that the increased serotonin activates the immune system.

        IMH-anecdotal-O, I have found that calm people get cancer and anxious people do not. To me it has to do with mitochondrial genetics of the electron transport chain. I have had anxiety and GI issues my whole life until I started taking high dose riboflavin.

        Reply
        1. HotFlash

          Thanks for this, Krystyn. I have a family member with chronic complaints incl anxiety, GI issues, and migraines. Did a little research, thanks to your heads up, and I’ll get him some B2 stat, will try for 4mg daily and see what happens. thanks again.

          Reply
          1. Krystyn Walentka

            It is always in my mind, but the key is to not over do it. there is a U curve to this and the point is to be at the bottom of the U. But living with the mental illness I have is a death sentence most days and people care about people with cancer more than than they do those of us with Mental Illness so either way it is a win.

            Reply
      2. Spring Texan

        That is a wonderful point about anti-nausea drugs, it’s good to see an improvement that is so meaningful and important.

        I am mostly cynical too.

        There are a few insanely good drugs like Gleevec et al. for CML, but a lot are much more marginal while still being insanely expensive.

        And yes there are still a lot of good people in medicine that make such a difference when you get to have them (and not others). Very best wishes to you and your wife.

        Reply
      3. hoki haya

        maybe if there’s anything good in a sharpened view of an endgame, it’s only in a heightening of what’s already most celebratory and most discardable from any human scenario. wishing you both more good days of forgetting, and endurance and tenderness inside the rest.

        Reply
      4. lordkoos

        Did you ever try cannabis? Some people report that it works well as an anti-nausea and appetite-increasing therapy.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          she doesn’t like pot(!!?), and the cbd gummies i found somewhere “didn’t do anything”…for all i know, the only CBD could have been on the label.
          that’s always there as an option.
          I’m experimenting with infused butter…but she doesn’t like dairy,lol.
          the infused olive oil was way too strong.
          and again…like i said…nausea hasn’t been an issue(Touches wood)

          Reply
          1. Adrienne

            Amfortas, my hubby has been living with stage IV prostate cancer for almost 4 years, so I have a teeny insight into your world. He mostly struggles with fatigue, insomnia, and no appetite–thankfully, nausea is rare. He recently had a couple of sessions of Jin Shin Do, a type of acupressure. For a day or two after the sessions he’s been able to sleep well and have a good appetite. He previously tried acupuncture and didn’t get any real benefit.

            As you’re no doubt aware, traditional Chinese medicine has a very different view of the body-mind than does western medicine. Even if one modality doesn’t work it’s often worth trying others.

            Best to you both, may you have the blessing of a long and sweet time together.

            Reply
          2. ambrit

            Phyllis is the same way as your wife concerning cannabinoids. She got nausea from smoking cannabis, not once but twice! I have read that CBD is best used with THC. Supposedly, there is a synergistic effect. CBD does not work for her either. (There goes my “Grow Your Own” pain management scheme.)
            If nausea does become an issue, what worked for Phyl was frozen watermelon. (Potassium Popsicles!) HMMV of course.
            Be strong!

            Reply
      5. orlbucfan

        More power to you, amfortas. I have lost plenty of loved ones to the Big C(urse). MfA will help out with and D in this field. BTW, no one profits off it.

        Reply
      6. Cuibono

        i wish it were so for all patients with nausea Amfortas…close friend cant find any releif no matter what he tries.

        Reply
    2. roadrider

      The article raises some excellent points about the value, or lack of same, of screening. Its more than theoretical to me as I was diagnosed with prostate cancer (not through screening but that’s another story) and have in the past 5+ years been treated with surgery and radiation. I’m currently in remission but have some life-changing side effects from the treatments. Was it really worth it? Will my ultimate outcome be the same as it would have been if I had never been diagnosed and treated? That’s unknowable. I didn’t rush into treatment but sought confirmation from experts at Johns Hopkins and the NIH. Initially the consensus was that I could opt for surveillance but subsequent tests revealed that the situation was worse than initially thought and that treatment was the best course.

      I haven’t had that many second thoughts about the course I followed but there’s always been some doubt as to whether it was really the right decision, particularly when last year I had what’s called a “biochemical recurrence” (PSA started rising after being undetectable for > 3 years) and had to undergo salvage radiation therapy. Well, there’s no going back but articles like this do give me pause.

      Reply
      1. Adrienne

        Roadrider, the alternative to not getting diagnosed early is the very high possibility of an early death. My husband was diagnosed with PC almost 4 years ago, only after a mysterious pain that wouldn’t go away turned that out to be advanced metastatic disease. If he had had screening earlier it may have been detected early enough to make a difference.

        I’ve read enough about the disease to understand the devastating effects of surgery and radiation for treating PC, and I can empathize near enough to understand why many men may question whether or not the treatment is worth it… but once it’s stage IV, there is no cure, only postponing inevitable early death. My husband has been fortunate that ADT has held the cancer at bay so far, but that situation can change at any moment. As it is the survival rate after 5 years falls off a cliff, so we are living as if these are our last days together.

        Blessings and best of luck to you, stay strong.

        Reply
        1. roadrider

          I don’t disagree but if the cancer returns after all I’ve been through I will end up in the same place, needing ADT, which is no picnic, and facing the development of the castrate-resistant form. In that case, I might have been better off forgoing the surgery and radiation. But its impossible to know that in advance and I’m comfortable that I took my best shot at a cure and would have regretted not doing so.

          Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          “..we are living as if these are our last days together.”

          a most clarifying experience.
          like the voles, the other day, we just sit together sometimes…like old folks.
          there’s a korean park off of medical blvd near the hospital that we go to before surgery or scans…it’s been under reconstruction for the whole time,lol….but we go find a tree to sit under for a while.
          she gets to pray, and i get to feel the world “vibrate at my feet”.
          it’s hard, this sword of damocles shit…
          i wish fortitude and grace to you all.

          Reply
    3. T

      Burzynski Clinic – which Wikipedia calls controversial and unproven – had a team in place to help families set up their go-fund-me and appeal to the media.

      Had a friend undergo some weird stem-cell thing and his docs also put him in touch with staffers who set up the cash asks.

      Depressing AF.

      Reply
      1. Olga

        That clinic is the biggest scam out there… Unfortunately, had (indirect) dealings with them – first question: how will you pay. Forget concern and care for patients… And the so-called “cure” is brutal and senseless. They should have been closed long time ago.

        Reply
    4. Katniss Everdeen

      I’d point out that “preventive” screenings are effusively touted and defended as valuable “benefits” of obamacare, and one of those things that people are encouraged to “take advantage of” since they are “free.” The word “cahoots” comes to mind. And wrt treatment “successes:”

      Tests cannot reliably distinguish between harmful and harmless cancers. As a result, widespread testing has led to widespread overdiagnosis, the flagging of non-harmful cancerous cells. Overdiagnosis leads in turn to unnecessary chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

      Doesn’t it stand to reason that “treating” a disease that the patient never had, and then determining the “success” of that treatment by evaluating whether or not the patient died of the disease they never had, would tend to overstate if not downright falsify any claim to “success?”

      PS. Can’t help but remark on richard nixon’s “declaration of war on cancer” in 1971, as it follows my own made-up rule: whenever the u.s. declares “war” on something–poverty, drugs, terrorism etc.–we just get more of it. Beware the declaration of “war”……on anything.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I ran across this yesterday in writing my very last DailyKos diary (bojoed after 13 years). Let’s have fun. I’ll post this quote from a speech. Correctly guess the speaker (no cheating!), and I’ll post a link to the full speech.

        What is the spirit of 1967? What is the mood of America and of the world toward America today?

        It is a joyless spirit– a mood of frustration, of anxiety, of uncertainty.

        In place of the enthusiasm of the Peace Corps among the young people of America, we have protests and demonstrations.

        In place of the enthusiasm of the Alliance for Progress, we have distrust and disappointment.

        Instead of the language of promise and of hope, we have in politics today a new vocabulary in which the critical word is “war”: war on poverty, war on ignorance, war on crime, war on pollution. None of these problems can be solved by war but only by persistent, dedicated, and thoughtful attention.

        But we do have one war which is properly called a war– the war in Vietnam, which is central to all of the problems of America.

        A war of questionable legality and questionable constitutionality.

        Reply
        1. Kilgore Trout

          The theme sounds like Eugene McCarthy, the syntax like Nixon. I’ll go with Tricky Dick on his best rhetorical behavior.

          Reply
          1. Judith

            A long long time ago when I was an idealistic high school student, I went door to door campaigning for McCarthy. At least then I did not feel so alone in thinking that war is wrong.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              I seem to remember my Dad having a “Clean Gene” campaign button.
              Dad hated Nixon. What he thought of Reagan is not safe for this venue.

              Reply
    5. xkeyscored

      There are also regular calls here for some unfortunate child dying of cancer …
      These appeals are invariably associated with heartbreaking photos of the dying child …
      I can’t help thinking that many of these campaigns are backed by certain industries.

      There’s also the distinct possibility that these stories simply make ‘good copy’, the TV equivalent of clickbait.

      Reply
    6. anon

      Here’s the editorial you referred to : https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eci.13062 . Thanks

      Since I have a lot of time for Ioannidis ( since his seminal 2006 paper ) and I had a prostatectomy done 12 years ago naturally I read that article. I’m a big proponent of bayesian statistics, particularly bayesian decision theory.

      I’ve always said that the PSA tests done yearly over 5 years until the number was sufficiently high for moving on to a biopsy and then after careful consideration surgery after 6 months “saved my life”. Did it ?
      The editorial doesn’t tackle that chained decision making process. That’s what I want to see before I accept the conclusions of that editorial on PSA testing. There are papers out there on this – I googled and found this paper quickly :
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21933990 – Optimization of PSA screening policies: a comparison of the patient and societal perspectives

      An aspect I always bear in mind in the decision making context is cost. Even now, after 12 years, when I’m regarded as cured, I asked my doc to add the PSA test to my lab tests 2 years ago and expect to do so again this April. It comes in below detection threshold, as expected. The PSA test cost me $7 I seem to recall, when done as part of a yearly lab tests panel. For MY perceived benefit of “peace of mind” ( no NOT increase in stress as per the editorial in their cohort, but a decrease ), $7 is nothing !

      I don’t mean to take much away from that editorial – The discussion on the de-implementation of testing challenges is great, as is the full editorial. I do want to bring out that the analysis should also be done at decision making level :

      What should one do ? Given that you know that there is a number ( the PSA level ) available as regards your chances of having a disease that can kill you – for many really really slowly, for some really fast ) at a small cost should you get that number or not ? I made my choice and live ( IMO not die very early potentially, since I had no symptoms but a high Gleason score from the biopsy ) with it.
      If you didn’t know of the availability of such a number then there’s nothing more to be said. More difficult, if you know but the cost of the number is not within your current discretionary spend budget then what are you prepared to give up ? Or not ?

      That analysis is at the individual level. I made my choices and live with them.
      At a societal level ? I’ll follow the discussion with interest – and chime in every so often asking for people to do a bayesian decision theory analysis not just the post analysis.

      Reply
      1. Adrienne

        Anon, thank you. I think this is the part of the discussion that gets missed a lot… screening can create false positives and over-treatment–and also screening can save lives. My husband was diagnosed at stage 4 in part because his primary physician said that the PSA test is a “lousy diagnostic tool.” Well, absent that tool, all there is is waiting for symptoms to occur, and at that point it can be too late.

        Over the past four years I have read more than I care to about prostate cancer. The best resources recognize that screening isn’t a black-and-white tool, and it’s become clear that the recommendations against regular screening have had unfortunate consequences for men like my husband.

        Most PC researchers now advocate for “watchful waiting,” as PC is often a slow-moving disease. The consensus is developing to screen, but not to jump immediately into aggressive treatment. The consequences of prostate removal are profoundly life-altering and no man should be pressured into quick decisions.

        Best of luck and a long life to you.

        Reply
        1. anon

          Thanks and my very best to you and yours. I know how difficult this must be. Just revisiting this issue now, in this conversation, is quite hard for me, sort of stressful for me.

          Still…

          IMO – that whole binary FP( False Positive) , TP, FN, TN – and the associated sensitivity, specificity, Type 1, Type II error stuff is from a different era in my book.
          In the PSA test world ( and mostly everywhere else I’d argue ) we live in a world of a number, whether < 2.5 or 3.4, 3.8, 4.5, 6.0 or higher levels like 20, 40, ( in ng/ml ) and even more..
          That's a continuous scale. Its a subjective choice to decide at which amount we regard that test as being true ( false otherwise ). The boundary chosen is in itself chosen to deliver an acceptable number of FPs ( or depending on the gravity of a wrong type of error FN). And that phrase "gravity of the wrong type of error" hides a boundary that is in itself a subjective choice.

          Better to let people see the damn distribution, not a Yes|NO and let THEM decide. People are not stupid.
          In other words, I'm propagandizing the use of a Bayesian / E.T. Jaynes' approach.

          Reply
        2. Cuibono

          actually the sciece does not support what you are saying here. Screenng has NOt been shown to save lives for prostate cancer.

          Reply
    7. HotFlash

      Screening they note, “is big business: more screening means more patients, more clinical revenue to diagnostic and clinical departments, and more survivors in need of care and follow‐up.”

      Also contributes to higher ‘recovery rates’, since some are false positives. And don’t get me started on radial mastectomy vs lumpectomy. And on the other hand, I know a woman whose Dr pooh-poohed her suspicions of breast cancer since she was ‘too young’ for it, but guess what.

      Reply
    8. Susan the other

      …and the inadvertent discovery just made at Cardiff about the interesting new T-cells with grappling hooks? Why do we always steal our “discoveries” from nature? We might consider stewing up a bunch of immune response cells with a bunch of cancer causing agents and watch them battle it out.

      Reply
  9. Bugs Bunny

    Re: “The real places and stories behind ‘Parasite’”

    Perhaps I’m naive but how is this different from anywhere else?

    The houses in the photos don’t look that great. I’ve never been to Seoul and have heard great things about visiting there, but this just looks depressing.

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Shift to digital census raises fear of Iowa-like breakdown”

    That article mentions that ‘In 2016, a denial-of-service attack knocked Australia’s online census offline, flooding it with junk data.’ That is the official story but the way I heard it, it was that it was not a DOS attack but the fact that so many people were logging online at the same time which made the Australian Bureau of Statistics think that they were under attack. The whole thing was a right cluster**** so this article made me wonder. If a system could not cope with the responses for a nation of only 25 million, then will the US Census Bureau be able to cope with the replies coming from 330 million people?

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I know. No offense but we have Google in Oz too but that did not translate into a working system for the 2016 Census. And America is the home of Google but that didn’t stop the Ohio Caucus from being completely stuffed up either.

        I go by a risk matrix where it measures the probability against the harm severity and as far as I am concerned, the US Census is not looking good-

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

        Reply
        1. inode_buddha

          Yes, I know you have google etc…. I was merely trying to point out that it is technically possible to do quite well with large scale computer projects. I hope you weren’t offended.
          I think that when these projects fail in the US, it is because of politics and not technology.

          Reply
            1. inode_buddha

              I think a large part of the reason why large projects are failing is basically the corporate culture. Exactly the same thing that happened at Boeing, GE, and hundreds of other large companies. I notice that for example, IBM is spread out all over the globe with no coherent culture or policies that dictate career advancement. They also used to be renowned for their pure research labs, alongside Bell Labs. No more, in what I am sure was a cost-cutting move. IMHO the more diluted the responsibility for failure becomes, the less likely success is possible. And in these giant corporate structures, everything is designed to dilute responsibility and CYA.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                Sadly, I totally agree with your take. And to think that once there was so much optimism on the possibilities of software in changing the world. Corporatism killed most of those possibilities and its not over yet.

                Reply
                1. inode_buddha

                  Yes, that’s the word! Corporatism! I’ll have to remember that. It is indeed killing off just about every decent thing possible. The last time I was truly proud of my country was when they landed on the moon, and that was a long time ago… It’s been nothing but downhill since, IMHO

                  Reply
      2. xkeyscored

        Perhaps Google should be placed in charge of the US census and elections, providing, of course, that they solemnly promise not to unintentionally let The Algorithm push their favourites to the top.

        Reply
    1. petal

      I read this article last night. This jumped out at me “Cybersecurity is another worry. Experts consider the census to be an attractive target for anyone seeking to sow chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government, as Russia did in the 2016 presidential election.” Where does it end? When?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        This Big Lie has taken on a ‘half life’ of it’s own.
        Remember when everyone “knew” that the world was flat? Major power centres were ‘invested’ it the concept. Resistance to the “Truths of Physics” became positively murderous. Opponents were literally burned at the stake.
        The esoteric sub-text in the “sow chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government” is that that phrase perfectly describes the “drown it in a bathtub” reactionary philosophy.
        SNARK!!!/ The RussiaRussiaRussia ‘Forces of Evil’ have their own Fifth Column working within American governing system. Who would have ever guessed that those wily Russians were sophisticated enough to make common cause with the Evangelicals and Oligarchs???/s
        I fear that this meme will go all the way to ‘The Streets.’

        Reply
        1. dearieme

          ‘Remember when everyone “knew” that the world was flat?’ A Big Lie promoted principally by Washington Irving with the intention, apparently, of disparaging the medieval Roman Catholic Church.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            That is a new one on me.
            Regrouping here, then my example will be: “Remember when everyone “knew” that the Sun revolved around the Earth?” The rest follows. See ‘petals’ reference to the anniversary of the burning of Giordano Bruno just below.

            Reply
            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I mean the whole story of Columbus traveling around to the European merchant republics with his “the world she is not a flat like the pizza, she is around like the pizza” and being denounced by priests before finally finding enlightened backers in Spain of all places never made much sense.

              It was always a Washington Irving short story to argue against immigration of the Irish.

              Reply
        2. petal

          It’s past ridiculous now. If I see it in a piece or someone says it, I automatically lose respect for whomever it is that included it. Why should I take anything they say seriously? Not to mention the AP keeps losing credibility. Repeat it enough times and it becomes fact.

          Funny you bring up burning at the stake-tomorrow happens to be the anniversary of Giordano Bruno bring burnt at the stake in 1600.

          Please give my best to Phyl.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh! Thanks for reminding me. Time to start lunch for Phyl. (I seem to have adopted the chimpanzee method of refueling for myself.)
            Stay safe.

            Reply
  11. Craig H.

    > In other words, dirtiness in the conventional sense does not map tidily onto ready communication of this disease.

    There was a great article by James Gleick which was a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story back in 1996 which led with how filthy paper money is.

    Dead as a Dollar
    By James Gleick
    June 16, 1996

    It is unusual that I remember a fourteen year old story well enough to google the item up at the top of page one of a search. It definitely helps that it was in the new york times which used to be much better than it is now. :(

    Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “What Chinese applicants to US universities should watch out for as campus closures gather steam”

    I think that there might be some confusion in this article. It states that ‘In nine years, the number of US students attending college is projected to plunge by 11 per cent’ but that is not only due to demographics but the fact that college education has grown so astronomically high, that many cannot afford it. It also states that ‘Only the elite top 50 US colleges and universities will be insulated.’

    So from what I can see, everything is going to plan. In a neoliberal America, only the children of the elite will have the resources to attend higher education and they will not have to bother so much with competing against the riff-raff coming from all the other colleges & universities after graduation. Sure, there will be those that are bright enough to earn scholarships but that is like winning the genetic sweepstakes.

    Reply
  13. ObjectiveFunction

    Re that Asia Times piece on China, can somebody finally slip a quietus to Kissinger, ffs? Hanging on the empty blather and tautologies of that nasty old toad, as though they provide some kind of Rosetta Stone to world affairs.

    “That makes it, in my view, especially important that a period of relative tension be followed by an explicit effort to understand what the political causes are and a commitment by both sides to try to overcome those. It is far from being too late for that, because we are still in the foothills of a cold war.”

    Can’t you just feel the 10 dimensional chess?

    Reply
    1. inode_buddha

      Reminds me of those Japanese soldiers that were still fighting on some remote island years after the war ended. Maybe somebody credible should tell Kissinger that the Soviet Union collapsed and disappeared back in the 1990s.

      Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      One of the sub-headlines: “Trump administration will continue efforts to halt project.” A bit odd if they’ve already thwarted it.
      From later in the article: “Even as he spoke, signs emerged that Gazprom’s attempts at completion may be underway. A Russian pipe-laying vessel, the Akademik Cherskiy, left the port where it had been stationed in Nakhodka on Russia’s Pacific coast last Sunday. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak last year mentioned that vessel as an option to complete the pipeline in Denmark’s waters. The vessel is now expected to arrive in Singapore on Feb. 22, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.”
      February 22 isn’t far away, so we might soon find out the truth behind “U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said “they can’t” — and dismissed claims that project owner Gazprom PJSC will face only a short delay. “It’s going to be a very long delay, because Russia doesn’t have the technology,” Brouillette said in an interview at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.”

      Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “Activate this ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop ”

    ‘One in five American adults now owns a smart speaker?’ Why, for the love of god, would you bring something into your home that has been designed to work against all your interests? If I was in a home that had one of these things, I would insist on using a Cone of Silence first. It would be less risky that way-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsNR9FnxOdY

    Reply
    1. Bugs Bunny

      I’m willing to bet that a lot of them were gifts. My sister got one that way. She uses it like a radio. I asked her to turn off the bodysnatcher pod while I’m there.

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      Just remember how eager so many were to embrace first smartphones, then Facebook. What difference would a little Alexa make?

      Reply
    1. divadab

      AH – scum who profiteer on sick people who have no alternative. Who is morally worse – this Heather Bresch critter, or Hunter Biden, who profited on selling influence to a corrupt oligarch?

      Reply
      1. richard

        okay, i was about to say something snarky, but I am creeped out too and did not know this before and am now nostalgic for that previous me

        Reply
    1. polecat

      I would dare to challenge the quip posted at the bottom of the Antidote du jour ..by simply stating that while locusts, deer ticks, and even the mosquito all have their place in Gaia’s bluegreen cosmic marble — it is in the main, the billions of bi-pedal apes – who now beckon to the environmentally destructive and distracting siren call for the multitudinous and quite useless trinkets of Progress .. that are, as in the past by virtue of their egregious and voracious behavious .. the intrusive ones !

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Says It Has Thwarted $6 Billion Russia-Germany Gas Pipeline”

    I think that British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s concept of challenges and responses may be pertinent here. With the US trying to thwart the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 and thinking of denying GE’s engines being shipped to China, that Trump & Co. think that that is an end to the matter which means that the ‘West is winning.’ Not so fast there. For both Russia and China that is a challenge but how they respond is another matter. The Russians are already dispatching a ship to finish the job and I am betting that resources are being spent to develop the needed technology. If they do, then western companies will be shut out of all future contracts here.

    With China it is harder as developing high-performance engines is such a challenge. They are working on it but just because they have not yet done it does not mean that they won’t. Every failure that they have here is that one step closer to developing the right answers. Before the Mercury rocket missions, American rockets had a well-deserved reputation of blowing up and there are plenty of videos showing them doing so. But eventually through these mistakes the US learnt how to build a reliable rocket engine and I would say that the Chinese will do so eventually for aircraft engines.

    But the biggest lesson that counties like Russia and China will learn is that the US is an unreliable business partner and source of technology and products so will take appropriate measures. Other countries too will be making their own conclusions and making their own decisions. I find myself thinking of the WW2 Battle of the Coral Sea here. It was a tactical defeat for the US Navy but a strategic victory. Trump and Pompeo may think that they have won but long term it may prove to actually be a strategic loss.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      The US empire suffered a fatal blow (albeit self-inflicted) the moment it attacked Afghanistan. Everything else since has been a struggle to slow down the downhill slide. But – the slide is quite slow regardless… (it took GB about 100 yrs (1857-1956) completely to lose the empire (although it retains less visible power through the City/secrecy, the Commonwealth, and holding on to the US tail)). Hegemony may be gained by various means, but once the hegemon has to defend it openly, it (almost by definition) does it from a weakened (losing) position.
      By now, it should be clear to all that the US is a fickle trading partner and not-agreement-capable in most other respects.
      Why would Russians not help China to develop whatever engines it needs?
      The irony is that the Brits spent time and treasure never to allow Russia and Germany to combine forces. And now their pupil has managed to bring Russia and China together – in an alliance that could be even more transforming. Good job!
      If one considers where China was just short 30 yrs ago… and looks at it today, it all points to something close to a miracle (various sinophobes notwithstanding). Why would anybody think that today – with a much heightened sense of peril – China would not double-down on its goal to assert its sovereignty? What other option does it have?
      And the naked efforts to scuttle NordStream II only prove to anyone who still had doubts that emperor has no clothes.

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        The US encouraging China and Russia to be allies must be one of the stupidest diplomatic policies of my lifetime. Perhaps of God’s lifetime.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          it’s not like they aren’t natural allies against the long time interference by the u.s. in what they see as their sphere of influence anyway. this is not to say they will remain allies. the u.s. remains singularly fortunate by being adjacent to canada and mexico

          Reply
      2. Susan the other

        since failing to create an EU market sufficient for our LNG exports we have again started pushing for LNG exports in the West – from the natgas pockets in the intermountain west, with connecting pipelines, out to Pacific ports for export – now it appears to be China.

        Reply
  16. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    I’m pretty sure that a sister of mine who was diagnosed with some dodgy cervical cells, was pointlessly put through much anxiety & medical poking about inside as is detailed in the cancer article. She has private health care through BUPA which I believe could be the ka-ching reason behind why it occurred. She is fine now although after about 5 years she still becomes paranoid about what are likely normal aches & pains.

    As for chemo & radiotherapy, plus as in my wife’s case the added destruction of her body by steroids, is a personally witnessed combo that has me determined that in the same position I would refuse all three.

    Reply
  17. vlade

    The A380 landing: cross-landing was a skill that most pilots had until the advent of front-wheel plane. Most of the rear-wheel planes need to land at least a bit cross-runway so that the pilot can see where he’s landing (you really can’t see much when the plane’s nose is in front of you).

    A380 is, from what I know, quite friendly plane for such a landing, as it has really low landing speed. I have seen it once close-by at Farnborough air expo, and it was flying low and very very slow… At 130 kts it has landing speed of a small corporate jet. 737, a much smaller plane has landing speed 155kts.

    In a way, it’s actually a very good plane, unfortunately not commercially so.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I’ve flown on A380s a couple of times – they were both actually very comfortable flights. The landings didn’t seem all that unusual.

      Reply
  18. John

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is helping to fund a Super PAC launching attack ads against Sen. Bernie Sanders … I guess when the voice of LIkud interferes in the US election it doesn’t count because it has never been required to register as the agent of a foreign power as the law requires because Israel.

    This is getting really tiresome.

    Reply
    1. divadab

      SO AIPAC is anti-semitic? Surely they are indulging in hate speech – we should call in the ADL to defend Bernie against these anti-semitic attacks from foreign agents.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        there will be a lot of criticism of bloomberg over the next couple of months on social media, and it will be blamed on “anti semitic bernie bros” by dnc surrogates.

        Reply
        1. flora

          I’ve talked to a couple of active, registered Dem voters who worry Sanders can’t be elected. I tried to say something about the importance of the independent votes in the general – they’re something like 39% of the vote. Sanders economic/jobs focus is popular with independent voters.
          I think Sanders is electable because of his focus on the economy/jobs/and safety net programs. I remember that in 2016, after being declared ‘unelectable’ by the MSM , T’s declared economic/jobs focus proved popular enough with independents to get elected.

          Bloomberg trying to buy the nomination might work. Opposing him for trying to buy the nomination isn’t ‘anti semitic.’

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            Bloomberg trying to buy the nomination might work. Opposing him for trying to buy the nomination isn’t ‘anti semitic.
            any more than opposing clinton or warren for being corporate shills is sexist. i’ve talked to clintonites who simply don’t believe people vote according to their economic interests.

            Reply
          2. Typing Chimp

            Well, if you subscribe (as I do) to the idea that a candidate’s electability depnds on being able to win Florida, Sanders is still electable:

            https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/campaign-wire-election-2020/card/1560881081

            However, he is also going to struggle against Bloomberg (so far)

            https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-primary-d/florida/

            This doesn’t mean that Bloomberg is going to win anything, from my perspective–only that he will be able to sway the party into adopting some of his positions.

            Reply
          3. Deschain

            IMO most people who say Bernie can’t be elected are using that as a dodge to avoid explaining why they don’t like him. Has consistently beaten Trump H2H in polls since 2016; beats every current dem candidate H2H in polls; most popular senator; won the first two primaries.

            People who say they worry he can’t be elected, are actually worried he can be elected.

            Reply
        2. Kilgore Trout

          A story today on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” Sunday referenced “Bernie Bros. As a Sanders’ supporter the story seemed slanted and unfair. It was one of two stories that cast Sanders in an unfavorable light before the Nevada caucuses. Still waiting for NPR big story on why we need M4A. Won’t hold my breath.
          Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Gear Up For Nevada Caucuses

          Reply
    2. Dan

      Grant Smith at IRMEP does excellent work uncovering and exposing Israeli Lobby subterfuge. Frankly, I believe it’s much deeper than simply “the voice of Likud.” Israel Shahak’s writings on religion offer necessary insight into this dynamic. I also recommend the work of Alison Weir and The Council For the National Interest.

      Reply
    3. human

      How does one confirm that a candidate does not hold dual citizenship? Is dual citizenship contrary to holding public office in the US?

      Reply
        1. Bugs Bunny

          Unfortunately on that site I’ve seen a few genuinely -disturbing- comments. Of course Jews can request and get an Israeli passport but that kind of slur is right out of the Daily Stormer.

          I don’t care what passport he has. I care that he wants to buy a branch of government.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            yeah there are a few straight out jews run the world types there, also at nottheguardian.
            b gives a lot of latitude to commenters with all kinds of political views.

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              He actually recently tried to clamp down on them. He said no more ‘blame the Jews’ comments.

              Personally if I were him I would just close the comments section on MoA entirely. It’s almost entirely stupid and useless. Unlike here MoA is only worthwhile for b’s content.

              Reply
          2. Edward

            I don’t see how stating that Bloomberg has dual citizenship is a slur unless it is false– which it might be. I don’t know what the source for the claim is.

            Personally, I think many Zionists are more loyal to Israel then to the U.S.; I would like to see the dual citizens choose either American citizenship or Israeli citizenship. I don’t know how you can say citizenship is an invalid question to ask a politician about. This is pretty basic. Voters should be worried if a politician is working for a foreign government at their expense.

            Reply
            1. Dan

              This was the common sense of the entire State Department when considering recognizing Israel, which they absolutely did not want to do.

              Truman agreed with them. Then he changed his mind. Why?

              “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”
              – John Sheehan, S.J. (a Jesuit priest)

              Reply
              1. John Wright

                Clark Clifford was apparently influential in Truman’s decision to recognize Israel.

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

                “In his role as presidential adviser, one of his most significant contributions was his successful advocacy, along with David Niles, of prompt 1948 recognition of the new Jewish state of Israel, over the strong objections of Secretary of State General George Marshall.”

                Clifford was also involved in a foreign bank scandal late in life.

                This had him stating this during the investigation.

                “I have a choice of either seeming stupid or venal”

                Reply
              2. Edward

                Gore Vidal’s answer to your question, stated in the preface to “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” by Israel Shahak, and based on a conversation he had with JFK, is that Zionists raised money for Truman.

                Reply
                1. Kilgore Trout

                  Truman’s long-time friend, Eddie Jacobson, also played an influential role in the decision to recognize Israel. The two had met and bonded while serving together in the National Guard prior to WW1 service.

                  Reply
          3. marym

            Agree. “Dual citizenship” is a common right-wing anti-Semitic charge against US Jewish politicians.

            There are many reasons to oppose Bloomberg, and to oppose US policies (of Jewish and other politicians) toward Israel/Palestine or any other policies, without resorting to an unsubstantiated dual citizenship argument.

            Reply
            1. Dan

              So any time someone brings up the matter of a powerful individual’s (politician or otherwise) dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship and how it might affect the larger body politic, this shouldn’t be investigated because some right-wing groups use the dual citizenship status in a hateful manner? This is dangerous totalitarian thinking.

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              Just as “owes fealty to the Vatican” was a similarly religiously themed right-wing smear attack on John Kennedy when he was an aspiring American politico.
              So, I will go out on a rotting limb here, (and trigger moderation to boot,) by saying that the “Dual Citizenship” charge, in the case of Jewish politicians in America, is a basic appeal to prejudice.
              Divide and rule.

              Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I view Zionism as a religious movement with a political wing appended thereto.
                  The real issue, which is, I might say, successfully obscured by the “hate speech” memes, is the one of split loyalty. Character is the key.
                  The sages ask: “Who can serve two masters?” That is a valid point, unless one were to imagine the ‘servant’ as attempting to subvert one ‘master’ in the interests of the other ‘master.’ At that point, we must stop characterizing the ‘servant’ of our example as a ‘servant,’ and call he or she what they plainly are; an agent.
                  There is a name in common use for persons ostensibly serving the country in which they live while actually serving foreign powers: Traitors.
                  So, the basic recourse for those who wish to rectify the defects exhibited by those who enjoy Dual Citizenship would be for that practice to be defined as a felony with minimum and mandatory prison sentences.

                  Reply
                  1. flora

                    So, wait…. You’re not suggesting people who have US dual citizenship with Canada, which they use for medical and pharma costs rights, and which dual citizenship is based on their parents or grandparents Canadian citizenship, are ‘traitors’ ?… I know you’re not suggesting that. I hope. ;)

                    The Constitution says nothing about dual citizenship for election to the presidency. It only mentions ‘natural born’ US citizens and age.

                    Reply
                    1. flora

                      Adding: the ‘natural born’ bit is what tripped up the Cruz candidacy for a while, and what the O ‘birther’ nonsense was about. Surely, we are not falling into the worst of the loonie right’s fever dreams because of hizzoner’s candidacy. ?

                      Hizzoner has enough baggage to sink him without the fever swamp’s fantasies being offered as a “legitimate argument”. ;)

                    2. ambrit

                      Actually, now that you take me to task on it, I am suggesting that those of any other original family nationality should be held to very strict standards. (I am a naturalized American citizen, and thus fall into that trap myself.) The alternative to your example of those of Canadian ancestry claiming dual status in order to circumvent America’s corrupt medical system would be for those people to be forced to demand change, and, if needed, take up arms to get it. (Revolutions always fail, until they don’t.)
                      The base state of the “Dual Citizenship” milieu is a belief in transnationalism. That transnationalism can be based on religion, or imperial exceptionalism, or plain meritocratic globalist theory. There appears to have always been a segment in the world population that believed that some inherent, (in them,) superiority makes them deserving of extra status and power. What more potent symbol of such a superiority can there be than membership in a global, transnational elite? Until some true global political institutions are established and given authority, we must deal with what we have; individual nations with their competing demands and expectations. That requires either a degree of loyalty to some national construct, or an effort to influence and change the nature of that construct.
                      I know that I am coming off looking like a jerk, but there it is. It is a jerky situation.
                      Sorry for the rant.

            3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Err…so we’re OK with someone we elect to swear to represent the interests of The United States of America raising their right hand and stating “I hereby swear to be loyal to the state of Israel and to uphold its laws”.

              Questioning this is not a “right-wing anti-Semitic charge”, it is a basic issue of divided loyalties, especially (unbelievably) in our lawmakers and policy setters. You want to be a dual citizen with Israel? Go ahead, knock yourself out. You want to make the laws and policies of the United States of America? Sorry, you gotta pick. Anti-Antisemitism involved = Zero.

              Very curious how people would react if it was any other second country involved. France? Brazil? Russia perhaps?

              Reply
              1. marym

                The issue isn’t whether it’s ok to have dual citizenship. It’s whether it’s ok to assume/accuse it of politicians who are Jewish. There are plenty of pro-Israel, pro-Zionist, non-Jewish politicians, not on “lists” of US politicians accused of dual citizenship.

                Reply
                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  …deftly skirting the matter of principle I mentioned. Assume/accuse? It’s very simple: #1: have they or have they not pledged their fealty to more than one nation? #2: should that be an acceptable practice for those we elect to make the policies and laws of our nation?

                  Again, no antisemitism required or applicable

                  Reply
                  1. Este Profani

                    Our First Amendment: Congress shall make no law […] prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]. US citizenry are free to pledge everything to Jerusalem, Mecca, or Rome if so desires. Which is cool because the US does not recognize dual citizenship, while the US has no control over what other countries recognize. — Cultures that correlate politics with religious affiliation are past an expiration date. Montaigne said something like our knees are designed to bow before [religious] convention, but our [political] thoughts have no such function. Wanting to be buried in a particular patch of desert does not make Bloomberg Manhattan’s “Kim Philby”.

                    Reply
                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                      …again completely skirting the issue, of course U.S. citizens have the freedom to believe whatever they wish. When we elect them, however, to make the policies and laws of the nation we expect them to do so solely in the interests of this nation. Pledging fealty to another nation in addition to this nation puts that expectation in doubt and should not be permitted.

                      Nobody is asking the politicians in question to renounce their Jewish faith or to change where they wish to be buried. They are merely asked not to pledge their loyalty to the nation of Israel while (somehow?) simultaneously pledging their loyalty to the U.S. Unless, of course, you believe that the interests of the United States will (or should be) everywhere and always be in 100% perfect congruence with the interests of the state of Israel. Do you?

                  2. Kilgore Trout

                    The anti-semitism card is played whenever Zionism is criticized. Israel/AIPAC have neatly made the two synonymous, so any criticism of Zionism is labeled “anti-semitic”.

                    It’s a thorny issue in practice because, unlike most other nations, so much that Israel has done has not been in the long-term interests of the US, and arguably, of the middle east. From Nakba, the theft of nuclear secrets, the attack on the USS Liberty, its development into an apartheid settler-state, its active intervention in US politics directly and via AIPAC, are all troubling but largely ignored. Given all this and more, the issue of dual citizenship should be concerning. I think Caitlyn Johnstone addressed the issue recently, pointing out that not addressing the issue, and giving Israel a pass on actions that would be condemned if done by any other nation, is in fact a kind of anti-semitism.

                    Reply
            4. The Rev Kev

              In the Australian Constitution, it states that if you are a member of Parliament or in the Senate, that you cannot be a dual-citizen. A scandal blew up a few short years ago where it was found that there were dual-citizens were in both. Instead of doing a audit and getting it sorted out, the Coalition drip fed names over the following two years and over twenty politicians lost their jobs.

              Reply
              1. marym

                There’s certainly a case to be made for laws against dual citizenship, even beyond legislators, to include, say, the national executive and judiciary.

                The only issue to which I was responding was a charge of dual citizenship that, in the US, is directed, without evidence, at Jewish people. Given that there’s no way to prove a negative, even if there were a law (or maybe there is a way, if you can expand on the possible audit), the assessment of how well a politician serves/is likely to serve the country’s interests should use criteria based on their policies and actions.

                Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  People do have dual loyalties and it is not always about Israel. Look at the Trump impeachment fiasco. It turned out that there was a noticeable contribution of the Ukrainian Diaspora behind this effort so you have to ask yourself – were they patriotic Americans fighting against Trump as a corrupt politician or were they people willing to send the American political system into chaos trying to take down a sitting President in order to protect their former homeland?

                  Reply
                  1. marym

                    I don’t have to ask myself. Maybe I’m not following closely enough, but didn’t the testimony from the “Ukrainian Diaspora” consist of one person who came here when he was three?

                    That was a quick slide down an apparently slippery slope from a supposed concern about dual citizenship.

                    And I re-iterate: Whatever politicians’ “loyalties” (to their donors, their personal wealth, their ego, their re-election, their ethnic heritage no matter how distant, etc.) in the US the dual citizen charge is mostly directed at Jewish people without evidence.

                    Reply
              2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Yes, in Australia it was recognized for what it is and should be: a scandal.

                This falls into the “so obvious as to be laughable” category. What for example does a dual-citizen Senator or Congressman do when they stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, cross their fingers behind their back?

                Reply
                1. Dan

                  Yes, in Australia it was recognized for what it is and should be: a scandal.

                  This falls into the “so obvious as to be laughable” category.

                  It’s amazing how obvious truths are so easily distorted by propaganda. Narrative control is essential. We live in a mediated world of illusion.

                  Reply
        2. flora

          The inter-tubes are filled with rumors. In 2016, an NPR host interviewing Sanders claimed he had dual citizenship. She read that claim on Facebook, and instead of asking Sanders she stated the claim as a fact. Sanders refuted it strongly and she later apologized. (Reminds me of a recent CNN debate. ;) )

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            sadly, as far i know, abby phillip hasn’t apologised yet. granted, there would likely be a higher cost to her professionally than to the npr host, and there is no way to verify that he didn’t say it; it was still journalistic malpractice though.

            Reply
  19. chuckster

    I am totally confused. A lot of the stories about Bloomberg’s past are coming out in the Washington Post. Since when does WaPo do journalism? Maybe Bezos is going to jump in himself so we can have a Mothra vs Godzilla moment. Never thought I’d ever say this but Trump-Pence 2020.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It always was a conservative rag. We may know Bloomie is a monster, but for many conservatives, he is now a blood traitor. Though I suspect most oligarchs would prefer a powerless puppet to one of their own. There is no honor among thieves, but would you want the person you beat to buy the Sportsball team to hold the office of Caesar?

      Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      The Post still employs a lot of good journalists. Some of the best detailed coverage of the Clinton email fiasco was from their people.

      And… Bloomberg heads a rival news organization.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        And… Bloomberg heads a rival news organization.

        maybe he will get in a media war with bezos, and it will cripple his campaign. somebody mentioned that other oligarchs may not want another one of their own as oligarch in chief. trump is bad enough, (he may be a fake billionaire anyway). it opens up massive opportunities of self dealing, and the fish are already roiling after trump tapped on the glass.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          See my post below comparing these awful people to different kaiju..

          “Let them fight!” :D

          We could do worse than having Mecha-Godzilla cripple Rodan so that there are fewer monsters in the world.

          Reply
          1. pretzelattack

            yeah, and it fits into the overall chaos is a ladder meme that seems applicable to our present situation. i’m trying to look at it as a game, and figure out the best strategy for achieving a social transformation while minimizing the conflict. there’s probably several competing apps for that, and some of them may even work. there are programs which analyze the best way to play chess, or poker, i would be very surprised if there isn’t something similar for politics, gaming out the results of various strategies.

            i’m still puzzled at what bloomberg is trying to achieve. does he really want to be president? why is he eschewing the time honored process of just buying candidates? note, with his money it could be both. he could simply be trying to stop sanders. whatever his goal is, his strategy for achieving it seems workable, not even competing in the earlier rounds and waiting for various candidates to tank, flooding the more significant states with money.

            Reply
            1. Chris

              I believe the people who have reported on him during his time as mayor. He wants this because it’s the only next step for him that he hasn’t already achieved. He has a media empire. He’s been the elected leader of one of the most important places in the western world. He has essentially infinite money if he spends less than $3 billion dollars in a year. There is no place up from there but the presidency. And he no doubt has people around him who say all the time how great he would be. The quotes coming from him aren’t significantly different than the quotes you could get from other very wealthy individuals. They have no connection with anyone average on any scale and it shows.

              Why does Bloomberg want to be president? Because he’s rich enough to buy it from the Democrats and conceited enough to think he’d be good at it. I think it really is that simple.

              Reply
              1. pretzelattack

                i’m trying to remember how fellow billionaires reacted to perot running for president. there were fewer of them in those days, but i don’t remember any reactions, pro or con. there’s been sort of a balance of power prevailing i think–i don’t remember john jacob astor or cornelius vanderbilt or john d. rockefeller running.

                the simplest explanation may be the best one. our politics has always been oligarch friendly, it just seems they are cutting out the middlemen now.

                Reply
              2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                People are looking at this through the lens of “politics”. It’s not. It’s “commerce”. Mini Mike is doing a hostile takeover of a juicy target company with handsome cash flows, a decent brand, considerable goodwill, locked-in supplier agreements, a balance sheet that can be levered up, and very weak management.

                Sometimes I try and notice the times when future historians will have it easy, and this is one of them. Question: in what year was the U.S. transformed from a representative democracy back to a medieval fiefdom? Answer: 2020.

                Reply
                1. inode_buddha

                  You nailed it. The elites are Hyper-competitive in every respect, including public position. Its all about the ego.

                  Reply
              3. cnchal

                > Why does Bloomberg want to be president?

                When one follows the money, the logic goes like this.

                Mike will blow a billion to stop Bernie from getting the nomination, preventing Bernie from fulfilling his campaign promise to tax the crap out of the billionaires which could raise Mike’s taxes by a few billion.

                Boils down to greed.

                Reply
    3. Chris

      Following on from my post the other night, because if we in the commentariat are to use monsters to describe what is going on, we should have some standards.

      For your consideration…

      Trump v Bloomberg = Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla
      Trump v Bezos = Godzilla vs. Rodan
      Trump v Clinton = Godzilla vs. King (Queen) Ghidorah
      Trump v Sanders = Godzilla vs. Kong
      Trump v Buttigieg = Godzilla vs. Gamera (specifically because people don’t like to think this match up would be entertaining and the fan base for Gamera pretends that kaiju is as strong as Godzilla when everyone knows that’s not true…)
      Trump v Warren = Godzilla vs. Mothra, mainly because Mothra has never been close to fighting Godzilla successfully without a lot of help and because Mothra was created as a response to bad stuff happening on earth and she failed to do anything about it.
      Trump v Klobuchar = Godzilla vs. Hedorah or Godzilla vs. The Blob, I think Hedorah is the better reference because that monster wants to cover the world in filth and violence.
      Trump v Steyer = unnamed movie that was killed early in screen writing.

      Cheers!

      Reply
      1. Rhondda

        Nice monster schema! Initially, I was thinking maybe the alien Kilaaks might be better for Warren but a) they’re not monsters per se and b) your reasoning for choosing Mothra is tight n right.

        Reply
        1. Chris

          Thank you. Thank you :)

          I realize there are some inherent value statements in that listing. If you’re a Clintonite you may rightly consider Sanders a monster more like Biolante because he regenerates quickly from any damage done to him and everyone knows he’s a good match against Godzilla. But I like Bernie so I think Kong fits him better :p

          Reply
  20. Expat2uruguay

    Within the Asia Times article regarding the decoupling of China and the US I found this quote hard to understand:

    As such, Osnos warned that, if Washington were to gamble on national security with botched predictions and ideology on trade, the consequences would be grave.

    So I followed a link with in the article to something written by Osnos in the New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/13/the-future-of-americas-contest-with-china
    It was a long read, but it was worth the time. And the above quote was finally explained in the last paragraphs as

    If the Trump Administration were to gamble on national security the way that Navarro did with his botched predictions on trade, the consequences would be grave

    referring to Navarro’s predictions that the trade War would be over quickly and China wouldn’t be able to resist the powerful sanctions of the US

    Reply
  21. Musicismath

    I lived for a long time in Wellington, NZ, so I’m familiar with seat of the pants airport approaches. Saying that, though, the craziest landing I’ve ever experienced was in a Virgin Atlantic 747 into Gatwick at the height of Storm Katie in March 2016. That was the first (and only) time I’ve ever seen cabin crew noticeably relieved at having made it to the ground in one piece. So I sympathise with anyone flying into the UK this weekend.

    Reply
    1. Wyoming

      I learned to fly in Wyoming (the land of ceaseless wind) when I was young. Literally my very first take off and landing with an instructor was in cross winds. And cross winds were present at least half the time. It looks much harder to do than it actually is. The real killer is when it is blowing cross and gusting hard both. Having a big gust hit you just as you are putting the wheels on the ground can be exciting – I was blown off the runway once when this happened. We also used to practice landings on dirt ranch roads or rural highways. It was also great fun playing fighter pilots where we would chase each other through the canyons just off the ground – they probably don’t get to do that anymore.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I just recall a landing in a 12-seater on a small island in the Vanuatu chain, instead of landing on the tarmac we set down on the grass strip alongside.

        Upon de-planing I asked the pilot why. He replied, in good, slow laconic Aussie drawl: “Something different”.

        Reply
      2. rowlf

        I always liked the pre-WII military training fields where the runway was a big circular field. One runway, all headings, crosswind resistant. Also the B-52 had crabbing capability and either pilot could crank the main gear steering to line up on the runway during approach.

        Sometimes four engine airliners like 747s do not get lucky and an outboard engine touches down, usually leading to a nose cowl and engine change, and a pylon/wing inspection.

        Reply
    2. Monty

      I must be suffering from the Mandela Effect, when did they start naming storms in the UK?

      I only noticed it this year.

      Reply
  22. Amfortas the hippie

    on minnesota replacing lawns:
    from my wandering this am, related:
    https://abeautifulresistance.org/site/2019/12/5/why-i-quit-350org

    I’ve never been an “environmentalist”…like the rest of my politics, I just am(“iyam what iyam…”)

    the end place of that link is where i’ve been at my whole life, environmentally…i touch the earth, and speak to trees and birds and possums and lizards, and query the worms in the dirt, “howdy!..y’all cool and all?”
    it looks political to a lot of people, but it ain’t.
    it’s frelling revolutionary and radical by definition(“of the roots”)

    Reply
      1. mle detroit

        And the outfit, Legacy Supply Chain Services, that bought the now-screwed-up distributor, is a unit of EoS Partners LP, which is — wait for it, you’ll be amazed — private equity.

        Reply
  23. John Anthony La Pietra

    Fundraiser highlights division as growing number of LGBTQ+ voters say his views don’t represent them Guardian (UserFriendly)

    Glad I was able to guess whose fundraiser this was.

    Reply
  24. Pat

    I am not surprised at deBlasio. His heart is in the right place.

    What he isn’t is smart, tactical and enough of a leader to use what he has to fight the entrenched powers of NY both city and state. He gets rolled regularly and gives up too easily. For almost every objection to him you can go back and find him trying to push a different position only to be steamrolled by some power player.

    It isn’t going to help Sanders though.

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      Thanks for the link!

      I went to a therapist once… he had zero interest in connecting my existential dismay to political disillusions in our profit driven world. He wanted to talk about my parents.

      I didn’t go back.

      Reply
      1. Dan

        I wish I knew what I know now when I was first introduced to the world of therapy / addiction counseling.

        If we survive another few generations, we’ll look back on most of the drugs we give “mentally ill” people the same way we currently regard lobotomies. Further, I can say with absolute certitude that the entire therapeutic industry across the board has harmed significantly more people than it has ever helped. I look at the entire industry as a “safe space” from the pathology of the modern world. Which is fine, such a space may well be necessary. Just don’t sit across from me and act like you know how to navigate this world any better than I do.

        Ethan Watters’ “Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche ” offers great insights into our collective insanity.

        Reply
        1. furies

          Withdrawal syndromes abound. The “medications” do not correct mythical “chemical imbalances”* but they DO change your receptors. See Surviving Antidepressants & BenzoBuddies (harder than heroin to discontinue). The confusion between ‘dependence’ and ‘addiction’ important when seeking professional help to get off psych meds. It takes months and sometimes years for some to come off safely…and often appears to be a reoccurrence of the original complaint.

          *R.Pies, former head of the APA, claims psychiatry never promoted this; he says it’s a ‘metaphor’. Huh.

          Mad in America run by journalist Robert Whitaker is a good source for alternative views regarding Mental Health care in Western countries. 3rd world countries generally have better outcomes….First do no harm, eh!

          Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          did she also contribute to a cookbook? i’m disappointed she didn’t claim to be a nigerian princess, though.

          Reply
      1. Chris

        Oh wow. Is there a term for “digital black face”?

        Also, I believe the person in the Twitter thread who said Lis Smith will do this again but posing as a Latina :p

        Reply
    1. Daryl

      I think the real funny thing here is that Democrats actually believe that random tweets make a difference (otherwise how could the RUSSIANS have had so much influence over the election process??) & thus we have someone presumably wasting time on this.

      Reply
    2. polecat

      Well, of Course she’s pretending, she IS a ‘replicans’ after all, along with her boss !! In fact, I’d wager that the whole Democrat candidate line-up, as it stands .. are nothing but, save for maybe two … and, Oh boy ! .. do they ever act off-world.

      Where’s a good Blade Runner to be had, when you Really need one …

      Reply
    3. Chris

      Slate is reporting that they have spoken with the actual person in Nigeria who really posted those tweets. This story keeps getting more bizarre.

      Reply
      1. bob

        Olivia Nuzzi. She’s odd. varies between deadpan and full on true beliver.

        She corresponded via email, and wasn’t able to confirm anything, really

        Reply
  25. Joey

    Re: navy seal
    A bit of hysterics in there. Provoking a manic episode is an uncommon yet known risk of standard TMS, so off-label variations would be expected to have risk as well.

    Reply
  26. Tom Stone

    Thanks for the article on the Cancer Biz, as someone undergoing treatment for a stage 4 lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma it was of particular interest to me.

    Reply
      1. Tom Stone

        Thank you.
        It’s been a bit rough, I was sent home too early after my first infusion in a Hospital setting and ended up spending four days on IV’s.
        Four more to go, hopefully less stressful.

        Reply
    1. smoker

      So sorry to hear that.

      I’ve found that reading clinical reports (and vetting for the funding of such research) on my cancer was enormously helpful in choosing my non-standardized in the US (though it is in the UK) treatment. That, in addition to vetting for the doctors to choose; and reading of other’s experiences and treatments on a cancer blog. Cancer is quite the ghastly industry. I hope you have someone to help you with this. There do appear to be treatments that are incredibly helpful for some cancers, even at stage four.

      Reply
    2. Susan the other

      Check out the recent discovery at Cardiff, tested against a wide range of human cancers, which cures cancer. The claim sounds excessive – but it is, apparently, a recent mutation of human T-cells, so easily used in a wide variety of cancers.

      Reply
  27. xkeyscored

    A rather significant development in the coronavirus thing. An ex-passenger from the Westerdam has tested positive, twice, and “more than 1,000 other passengers departed Sihanoukville on charter flights to Phnom Penh and were in various stages of transit home, the cruise line said.” What’s more, “Many of the passengers went sightseeing in Sihanoukville after the ship docked in Cambodia, visiting beaches and restaurants and getting massages.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/16/world/asia/coronavirus-cruise-americans.html

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      yes, that’s alarming. I was particularly dismayed by the quote from the 43 yr old US citizen (works for Blue Cross) who, after some consideration about COVID, decided nonetheless to go on a cruise from Hong Kong (with her very elderly mother) because she wanted to have “fun.”

      Reply
    2. xkeyscored

      May be pure coincidence, but I’ve just heard “The television has been down in Phnom Penh for six hours now!”

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        I’m not so sure about the reliability of that report about the TV in Phnom Penh. It’s not down nationwide, for sure.

        Reply
  28. Daryl

    > Minnesota Will Pay Homeowners to Replace Lawns with Bee-Friendly Wildflowers, Clover and Native Grasses Return to Now (furzy)

    Please please please, get rid of the stupid lawns.

    Reply
        1. ambrit

          That leads to some interesting speculation about malicious ‘hackers’ forcing a city water department shut down due to sudden and massive water draining by thousands of lawn sprinkler systems turning on at maximum simultaneously. Most water systems I have read about use statistical methods to figure out basic demand loads and size accordingly, with a buffer amount of supply. As clean water becomes more scarce in the future in general, I can see lawn sprinklers being outlawed. Now, for the hacking opportunities for “Smart Houses!”
          The IoT is a giant cascade of failures just waiting to happen.

          Reply
      1. Susan the other

        one section for fruits, one for veggies, one for herbs and medicinals; one for bees and other insects, one for staples like potatoes and corn, one for flax and hemp; one for a shade tree and a table… the lawn of the future…

        Reply
    1. HotFlash

      And I’m supposed to yell, “Get off my Bee-Friendly Wildflowers, Clover and Native Grasses!” to those punk kids?

      Reply
      1. polecat

        HA HA ! That’s a keeper .. or any derivative thereof. Thanks HotFlash. I’m gonna use that when the nextdoor miscreants lob one, or several, of their plastic orbs across my Rubicon ‘Lawn’ ..

        Reply
  29. Daryl

    Doing a little research.

    The choices for Texas Democratic senatorial candidate seems fairly dire. There are ~10 people running. Two of them outright trashed Medicare for All, one genius supported FURTHER PRIVATIZATION, and I can’t find another who supports it fully. Chris Bell at least isn’t afraid of saying the words out loud, but still this

    > A husband and father of two, he supports Medicare for All but wouldn’t require Americans to lose their private insurance plans.

    Does not inspire confidence.

    Reply
    1. Biph

      Why so many candidates for what looks to be a sure shot of losing in November. Is it because Beto had a close race against Cruz or is there an actual shift in Texas politics that makes winning against Cornyn a realistic possibility?

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Consider the QUALITY of the candidates, as indicated by Daryl.

        Just guessing: the number may reflect the absence of any strong candidate.

        Reply
        1. Biph

          The number certainly reflects the lack of a true front runner who can scare off potential challengers, but it also would seem to reflect the thought that the nomination is a prize worth having (i.e. it’s something other than a guarantee of a lop-sided loss in November). I’m just curious if there is anything other than Beto’s close loss and delusion behind that thinking. We did see a Dem win a close race for a Senate seat in AZ FWIW.

          Reply
  30. Plenue

    >“Only our racist billionaire can beat their racist billionaire.“ – some Democratic pollster somewhere shopping for a new boat

    To watch liberals slowly gravitate towards a Republican oligarch is to watch a self-own that is more brutal than any insult I could ever come up with myself.

    Am I wrong to think that this is the death knell of American Liberalism, at least in its current form? No matter how this year plays out, the ideology of these people is done. It’s completely hollow now.

    Reply
  31. David Carl Grimes

    Wharton is predicting that Sanders’ Medicare Fora All Plan could curtail GDP growth by up to 24% in 2060 because the private healthcare industry will be disrupted.

    “Taken literally, Sanders’ Medicare for All Act lacks a financing mechanism, which by long-standing Congressional Budget Office and PWBM convention implies deficit financing. Under deficit financing, the plan would reduce GDP by 24 percent by 2060, despite large efficiency gains from lower overhead and reimbursement costs.

    https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/issues/2020/1/30/sanders-medicare-for-all

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      I have a proposal that could boost GDP massively:

      A new Federal law that compels people to hire their neighbors to mow their lawns. Reciprocal hiring “swaps” would be permitted, but it would be necessary for cash to exchange hands, be reported, and taxed.

      Voila! Instant GDP with no need to do additional concrete work.

      One could easily GDP-ize, and tax, all sorts of work that currently goes unreported.

      And with this compensatory increase in GDP, we could safely outlaw all sorts of taxable work that ought not to be done. For example, for-profit medical insurance.

      Reply
    2. urblintz

      2060 heh…

      if there’s still talk about GDP in 2060 it’ll probably be coming from computers programmed by dead capitalists

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/15/worst-case-scenario-2050-climate-crisis-future-we-choose-christiana-figueres-tom-rivett-carnac

      “The demise of the human species is being discussed more and more. For many, the only uncertainty is how long we’ll last, how many more generations will see the light of day. Suicides are the most obvious manifestation of the prevailing despair, but there are other indications: a sense of bottomless loss, unbearable guilt and fierce resentment at previous generations who didn’t do what was necessary to ward off this unstoppable calamity.”

      and here’s another bleak imagining: https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/14/a-short-history-of-humanitys-future/

      “Calendar Year 2049

      We saw the night sky whiten then glow red for hours. Liquor stores and gun shops were looted with abandon. Electrical power and electronic communications failed here. What was happening elsewhere was unknown. People hunkered down with their families around here, or else fled in their cars if they had saved-up gasoline to use. I will report more later, given the opportunity.”

      Reply
    3. Kilgore Trout

      Either this is a gigo study, or it’s illustrative of how useless is the concept of GDP, if further crappification of healthcare somehow boosts GDP, but better outcomes, longer lifespans, and healthier citizens–as the single-payer nations have–would not. Or it’s both.

      Reply
    4. inode_buddha

      Wharton needs to be reminded that nobody owes them a living. Or a split second of their time (same difference).
      And yet the upper classes have been doing a damn fine job of just taking whatever isn’t nailed down for the last 50 years. Perhaps its time for them to start hearing some of the same things they have been telling the lower classes.

      Usually its the parasites that worry most about the GDP.

      Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    From “The Navy Seal and his Doctor:” “He was God’s second son, he announced, and he couldn’t wait for karaoke night.”

    And how do you know he isn’t? Granted, the karaoke is a sign, but of what?

    Seriously, and somewhat off topic, this is an important philosophical point that goes back to Logical Positivism. The familiar example is from Christianity. Most Christians deny that God can be defined (which means “limited.”) But that makes the word literally meaningless. Faced with someone who claims to be God, there is no way to determine that they aren’t. Aside from the karaoke. It’s a fundamental problem with definition vs. connotation.

    A similar problem arises in psychiatry: even paranoids can have real enemies. In practice, such delusions usually come with a whole complex, and either the patient or the people around them are expressing distress. Sturmont, the ex-Seal in the article, was clearly in bad shape – the claim to be God was just one symptom among many. But it’s still a judgement call by the psychiatrist, and there’s a history of hospitalizing people who are trouble makers. I knew one, back in the 60’s, committed for being a hippy.

    It’s a long read I haven’t finished, but apparently really about the use and misuse of “off-label” therapies. That does raise similar issues, but also “how much do you trust your doctor” and “how desperate are you.” It’s a dilemma between experimentation vs. proven use, and also doctor discretion vs. proof of effectiveness. Probably no solution to those.

    Reply
  33. Plenue

    >Syraqistan:

    Syrian army is now clearing the suburbs of Aleppo. The militants seem to have mostly fled without a significant fight. Assad reiterated today that he plans to take back the whole country. The Syrian army also seems to have made an abortive attempt today on the US held pocket around Al-Tanf.

    Meanwhile Turkey continues to move troops and vehicles into Syria, as well as giving artillery support to the jihadis. They’ve given the Syrian government until the end of this month to,um…stop trying to do stuff in part of Syria. After that they’re claiming they’ll take direct action. If it’s a bluff it’s an elaborate one.

    Meanwhile in Iraq someone is taking new rocket shots at the Green Zone

    Reply
  34. Chris

    A question for the people on here about M4A and what is likely to be an eventual compromise because the odds of a Sanders like figure being elected president AND the Congress AND the Senate getting rolled or changed to approve the legislation implementing it are very small…

    Would it be a worthwhile improvement to take the portion of the heath care and insurance market that is uncontrollable and unpredictable and causes the most harm to citizens and nationalize that while leaving a private market still in existence? Say for the sake of argument that over a typical life 30% of your medical needs were completely unplanned and high cost events. These would be your heart attacks, car accidents, gun shot wounds, accidental overdoses, emergency labor complications, rapid onset infections, etc. The kind where no one gets any kind of agency in the decision making process. The event happens and if things go well you wake up in a hospital room and if things go poorly you don’t wake up. If that part of the system was rigorously controlled and negotiated by a large single payer on a unified market, but the rest of the system was not too different from what we have today, would that be so bad? If Medicaid evolved into something that helped those who qualified with routine medical needs and everyone in the country had a back up catastrophic health care plan that would prevent surprise billing and cover all expenses at point of use in emergencies, would that be so bad? If we had a way of limiting the most expensive end of life care and still providing it to people, while permitting an insurance market for things like braces, annual check ups, physical therapy, allergy evaluations, and gynecological exams, would that be so bad?

    I am in favor of Medicare for all. I don’t think we need the current <> situation that is health care and health insurance in the US. But I have to acknowledge that there are other ways to solve the problems here besides M4A. In fact, we could do just about anything differently and get better, cheaper, results. So if we had to compromise, what should that compromise look like? What would actually move the current state towards a better solution for citizens and is also politically achievable?

    Reply
    1. Pat

      I am going to be massively pessimistic here. If there is no will to pass M4A, there is no will to break the rice bowls necessary to even get a workable frame. There is no possible compromise that will work that can get passed. Anything that leaves the for profit renter system in place will find us rationing care for everyone but the very wealthy. It will just be another version of hurry up and die.

      I have spent a long time wondering why so many still major businesses in America are not demanding M4A. It does not make sense, even in the competition for employees meme that gets used. Decent insurance is rising at rates that far surpass even real inflation. More and more costs are being shifted to employees, more benefits of the plans cut. The only end is everyone having the same crapified useless garbage. Not all work can be moved to other countries. And companies could provide other cheaper benefits. There is no logical basis for it, IF your interest is a strong profitable business. However most of the boards and businesses are being run by people who are not attached to them. What they are attached to is their portfolios. Where are most of the profits these days – for profit Medicine and health insurance. Very little is doing as well on paper. That is one big conflict of interest.

      So how is our bought and paid for Congress going to pass anything that regulates costs, provides disincentives for the grift and makes it anything more than a way to rip off the government for any partially nationalized program. Remember they won’t even let Medicare use their size and power to negotiate drug prices.

      Kicking the parasitic investment crooks out of medical care is The ONLY way, and a full single payer program does that. And I believe it is the only thing that will get people in the faces of our elected officials and announcing anything else will at best get you fired, let them imagine the worst.

      But that is me.

      Reply
      1. Biph

        While maintaining their stock portfolios certainly plays a part in corporate boards and CEO hostility towards M4A, but I figure the primary reason is power. While M4A would be cheaper for employers than the current system they would lose the power that system confers to the employer over the employee. The employees loss health insurance (and often that of their family) hangs over them like a Sword of Damocles so they are less likely to consider finding another job or even rocking the boat at their current one

        Reply
      2. Hepativore

        I am not sure if the limits of such a power have ever been legally defined by any court, but if Sanders is unable to pass M4All through Congress could he implement it by Executive Order? Previous presidents have used Executive Order to create entirely new federal agencies, start wars, authorize torture or ignore parts of the Constitution they do not like. It would seem that Executive Orders give presidents a lot of latitude to implement their agendas.

        Legally, how would Sanders creating a M4All program by Executive Order be.different than W. Bush’s creation of the Department of Homeland Security by Executive Order?

        The last civics class I took was way back in Junior High, so I am not sure of what the Constitutional limits of Executive Orders are, and I am also aware that what is taught in classes is often not entirely congruent with the reality of our political system. If somebody who knows more about this could enlighten me, I would be much obliged

        Reply
    2. marym

      We’ve tried lots of compromises including means/age/other-tested public programs, public programs with some privatization, and public subsidies for private programs. Despite the benefits these systems provide, we see that lack of care and medical debt abound.

      In his book The Healing of America T.R. Reid says all other developed countries, which deliver better care for less cost than the US, have systems with three characteristics: A uniform system that works the same for everyone; non-profit financing; and universal coverage.

      We already have a national bureaucratic infrastructure for Medicare, so M4A utilizing this infrastructure can be the basis of a system that meets those criteria. Adding more layers to the existing systems, while preserving (and subsiding) for-profit insurance, may or may not provide some net benefits in some cases, but we should no longer have any illusions that it can “actually move the current state towards a better solution…”

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I know. I agree with you too. And with the others who were very pessimistic. I’d like to believe there’s a political solution here. I’d like to believe that Sanders could enact it. I just don’t know how. It frustrating to see that there’s a solution to the problem but no one will act on it because they make too much money with the current system. That’s why I’m trying to imagine a compromise that would take us closer and give the other side a way to lose gracefully. But they don’t want to lose – gracefully or otherwise.

        So I guess we’re looking for a pandemic to strike or a complete revolution in our government then? I can’t see any other conditions that would get us to M4A. I do think this is one of the topics that will spark a revolution if not addressed by our elected officials.

        Reply
  35. Plenue

    >Permafrost is thawing so fast it’s gouging holes in the Arctic World Economic Forum

    Positive feedback loops.

    We should have had a Green New Deal thirty years ago.

    Reply
  36. Librarian Guy

    “The West is Winning”!! Yes, thanks for that link.

    We are winning the race to the greatest levels of alienation, anxiety, social breakdown and immiseration by Late Capitalism. We are not yet winning the race to environmental mass destruction (okay, we had the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, still unfolding, and mass poisoning of Flint, Michigan, totally unpunished by our political elites), but we will get there.

    We are winning a race to destroy any false narratives about “separation of powers” and “rule of law”. We are winning the time people spend disembodied on screens, evidently– we won’t be able to run to the Cloud and escape Meatspace as daily life gets worse and worse, however.

    North Korea’s currently a lot more wretched than USA, but we are an exceptional Nation– another generation of our Elite and Media obfuscation, lies and greed, we can maybe get there.

    Reply
  37. Carey

    Interesting that in the MSM, Michael Bloomberg, the Sixty-Billion Dollar Man, has in the last few weeks become “Mike” Bloomberg, Man of the People. Don’t recall him ever
    ever being referred to as “Mike” before; guessing he wouldn’t have put up with it, before.
    But even the ninth-richest man on the planet needs a populist gloss, these days..

    Mmm

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      Brilliant! No wonder Artificial Idiocy algorithms are so good at churning out pop.
      Do any musicologists know if they’ve ‘cheated’?

      Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      If the pandemic hadn’t already started, my guess is it has now. From the cruise ship company’s website, Update: 2/16/2020 5:24 am Pacific Time:
      Holland America Line is working closely with government and health officials in Malaysia and Cambodia and experts in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). At this time, no other guests or crew, either on board or on their way home, have reported any symptoms of the illness. Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information.
      “We are in close coordination with some of the leading health experts from around the world,” said Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer for Holland America Line. “These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow-up with individuals who may have come in contact with the guest.”
      On Feb. 10, 2020, all 2,257 passengers and crew on board Westerdam were screened for illness including [I read somewhere only] the taking of individual temperatures. No individual was identified with an elevated temperature. Also during disembarkation in Cambodia guests underwent an additional health screening including the completion of a written health questionnaire. Furthermore, the passports of everyone on board were reviewed to ensure no one had traveled through mainland China in the 14 days prior to the cruise. During the voyage there was no indication of COVID-19 on the ship. The guest who tested positive did not visit the ship’s medical center to report any symptoms of illness. An additional 20 guests who reported to the medical center during the cruise were tested by health officials for COVID-19, and all results were confirmed negative.
      Westerdam is alongside at Sihanoukville, Cambodia, with 747 crew and 233 guests who are awaiting their final travel arrangements. The remainder of guests from the voyage departed Sihanoukville via charter flights to Phnom Penh and are in various stages of transit home.

      https://www.hollandamerica.com/blog/ships/ms-westerdam/statement-regarding-westerdam-in-japan/

      And from the NYT:
      Many of the passengers went sightseeing in Sihanoukville after the ship docked in Cambodia, visiting beaches and restaurants and getting massages.
      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/16/world/asia/coronavirus-cruise-americans.html

      Reply
  38. Savita

    This is late, hopefully y’all catch it. Some feel good news for you.
    Yesterday in Sydney a huge concert to raise money for the bush fire experience was hosted. Queen performed, unfortunatey I can’t recommend most of the other acts. There had to be a large element of Mass Appeal ™ in the programming.

    The band recreated their famous Live Aid ’85 performance Here’s the 26 min show
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijntCN1BVlI

    Reply

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