Links 10/19/2020

A La Niña winter is on the way for the US Ars Technica

Pakistan fails 6 of 27 obligations set by terror watchdog FATF, likely to stay on grey list The Print

Data analytics and targeted political messages began over 40 years before Facebook, shows this book Scroll

21 Masks That Make Great Halloween Costumes New York

Crisis in the Galapagos: Chinese fishing fleets and COVID-19 threaten a natural wonder LATimes

Huge cat found etched into desert among Nazca Lines in Peru Guardian

When Women and Politics Took Over Baseball WSJ

He Painted It Black Literary Review


Sex banned indoors for Tier 2 couples living apart, Number 10 confirms Evening Standard BC: ‘I  found the word “Indoors” amusing. It made me think of the Beatles singing “Why don’t we do it in the road?”.’

Health experts’ Thanksgiving advice in the time of Covid: plan, plan, plan Stat

Coronavirus: Could the world have been spared? FT

China after Covid London Review of Books

Covid-19: Italy tightens rules after coronavirus cases surge BBC

Top infectious disease expert warns the next 6 to 12 weeks will be the ‘darkest of the entire pandemic’ as he blasts Scott Atlas’ herd immunity claims as ‘pixie dust’ Daily Mail

As the Virus Surges, Stark Differences Over What Is Around the Corner NYT

Healthcare workers, high-risk people will get priority for COVID-19 vaccine in New York: governor Reuters

Class Warfare

The Great Coronavirus Divide: Wall Street Profits Surge as Poverty Rises The New Yorker

The Social Dilemma? Nope. Just Silicon Valley propaganda. Immigrants as a Weapon

How Australia’s Labor Movement Helped Build Neoliberalism Jacobin

Coronavirus Tanked the Economy. Then Credit Scores Went Up. WSJ

US banks warn bonuses will not keep pace with profits FT

Trump Has Failed the U.S. Working Class and Only Helped the Rich Teen Vogue. Kim Kelly.

West Coast Wildfires

Dying birds and the fires: scientists work to unravel a great mystery Guardian

Amid devastating US fires, experts urge fire prevention rethink Al Jazeera

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Minneapolis Will Consider Facial Recognition Ban Motherboard

Waste Watch

If recycling plastics isn’t making sense, remake the plastics Ars Technica

Imperial Collapse Watch

The US Chose Endless War Over Pandemic Preparedness. Now We See the Effects. TruthOut


Britain and EU to try to rescue post-Brexit trade talks Reuters



Lindsey Graham runs for his life Politico

Democratic donors fuel record-breaking fundraising in Senate races LA Times

Partisan Sites Posing as Local News Expand Ahead of Election WSJ

Joe Biden needs an economic team that will support workers FT

Biden leads Trump. So did Hillary Clinton. For Democrats, it’s a worrisome campaign deja vu WaPo

Why Biden’s poll lead is different from Hillary Clinton’s NBC

Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor Intercept Glenn Greenwald

Biden would revamp fraying intel community Politico, Of course he would.

Tax Increase for Corporations Looks More Likely as Election Nears WSJ

Rochester AFL-CIO Calls for General Strike if Trump Steals Election Payday Report

The hidden factors that could produce a surprise Trump victory Politico


India fears Diwali celebrations will bring surge in coronavirus SCMP

India may see 2.6m COVID-19 cases a month if rules relaxed: Panel Al Jazeera


There won’t be an Iran October Surprise The Iranian. A non-paywalled version of Pepe Escobar’s Asia Times piece.


“Buy Less, Buy Better” Means Luxury Leaders Are Only Going To Get Stronger Jing Daily. This site, I admit, has become a guilty pleasure. Due to China getting a grip on the pandemic, it has become more of a driver in luxury retail, so reading this site is a window into an expansionist  world view, rather than the pandemic pessimism we see in the US and Europe.

China GDP: economy grew by 4.9 per cent in third quarter of 2020 SCMP

Trump Transition

Enabler in Chief New York Review of Books

Man arrested over leak of Kim Darroch cables criticising Trump Guardian

The legal reckoning awaiting Donald Trump if he loses the election CNN, Wishful thinking by the pearlclutching set.


Former OPCW Chief Says His Office Was Bugged While USA Pushed Iraq War Caitlin Johnstone

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    It made me think of the Beatles singing “Why don’t we do it in the road?”

    Yeah, about that. That was the Beatles riffing on something that King Edward VII said once-

    “I don’t care what the people do, as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.”

    Mind you, as a man that had a custom-made sex couch built for himself, he was pretty liberal with his views.

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      Mind you, as a man that had a custom-made sex couch built for himself, he was pretty liberal with his views.

      Too good for the Ikea sex couch* like the rest of us plebeians, was he?

      * Insert witty play on Ektrop couch name here.

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Edward 8 was no slouch either, although it was apparently all the fault of that dreadful American woman.

      I was basically coerced by herself into watching ” The Crown ” first 2 series, but pretty soon I had to grudgingly concede that it was IMO very good. In some ways it was a reprise of all those historical events that older relatives talked about, sometimes on the female side in shocked whispers, which I assume were related to naughty Margaret, Profumo etc.

      Very impressed with 3rd Rock from the Sun’s John Lithgow’s Churchill, most of the other actors & the production.

      I am now being threatened with the next instalment with a prelude of watching the previous 2 again, but I don’t mind as it could be much much worse.

      1. John Beech

        Missed season 2, episode 1 and absent that, there’s no persuading her to watch the rest and sadly, PBS apparently doesn’t make it available. Sigh.

          1. Heraclitus

            Erin Doherty, who played the teenaged Princess Anne is season three of ‘The Crown,’ is really outstanding, though her role is brief. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more convincing sullen teenager. The interview with her father, Prince Phillip, is priceless.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Hmm. Maybe I should watch it. My wife has been after me to do so. I am not a royalist and have pretty much zero interest in their activities, so watching a dramatized account of their history ranks somewhere below watching paint dry for me. However I did enjoy ‘The King’s Speech’ (after being similarly reluctant to go and see it) so perhaps I should take her advice.

      3. ArvidMartensen

        Yes, a relative said we should watch this series and it was very good. Also liked the series on Victoria. The royals came across as human and caring with a few foibles.

        But my tolerance for these shows hit zero when all the shenanigans about Andrew and Epstein hit the fan. And in the process exposed the well-oiled and ruthless (and well-paid?) PR industry that surrounds the British Royals.

        Now I just see these shows as the products of cynical Royal PR and can no longer watch them. Which is a shame because the the sets and production is excellent.

        1. wilroncanada

          You guys have just spoiled my appreciation of the British Royals. Here I thought they were just libertine misanthropes. Now they turn out to be …well, multiple libertine misanthropes. Sigh!

        1. a different chris

          Are they going about this all wrong? I would think the rotund king would be *in* the chair, not propping up the young (maybe not so young?) ladies with it.

          And the weird attraction for Camilla seems to have historic roots. That I would never have expected.


    Apple possibly is creating more packaging and more delivery carbon burn than eliminating. While they are masters at packaging they have to add a separate box and all the ordering and delivering into the mix. You have to be able to track expenses far to the right of the decimal point then multiple by millions to understand this. One legit question is what is Apple’s buy-in price for a charger from a Chinese supplier, a premium fifty cent? How can it be a net loss of carbon gain to just put the charger into the iPhone box?

    1. hunkerdown

      A 50 cent charger can’t even maintain both of its output specifications at the same time, and even if it could would be far too weak to provide the digital nomad class with a full charge over lunch (12Wh / 2.5W = 4.8h theoretical). I’ve seen one product designer on Twitter (fwtw) ballpark the adapter’s bill-of-materials cost around $3, which is defensible for a relatively sophisticated, top-branded, NTL-listed, universal-input, 15W power supply, produced in the hundreds of thousands per month, under a mature production and quality system with a modest degree of vertical integration, with no new or special production challenges. That designer also projects a $30 SRP, which is defensible for the features and services (and the brand and all it entails) offered by the Apple power supply.

      Even though a 15W power supply weighs a bit, possibly half or more of the weight of the phone it accessorizes, the initiative here probably has more to do with maintaining Apple’s elitist connector tapu and with hiding the extra cost of NSA-compliant 5G and Chinese trade in general.

    2. Tim

      It may be the reality that everybody at this point has been through 3 or more phones with a USB-C charging port and even though there is planned obsolescence for the phones via batteries and wireless plans, they forgot about the chargers, which will last for many, many phones. So most people don’t need a new charger, they have many sitting around.

      I’m going to side with Apple on this one. Most don’t need a new charger, but if you do, you can still buy one.

  3. John A

    Re Apple remove charger and headphones from iPhone 12 box. If Apple had had a universal charger and universal sockets for all its devices, that would make sense, but every new generation seems to have different ones. My 5 year old Macbook died permanently last week. Its replacement has different charger plug and different USB port. Ridiculous.

    1. Procopius

      John A

      ??? There’s an international standard for universal serial bus (USB) plugs and sockets. If Apple is using a differently shaped plug, it’s not USB. Of course they might use the name in violation of copyright or trade mark law. They have more cash than many national governments so don’t have to care.

            1. hunkerdown

              Physical adaptation, the terrible eldritch “dongle”, is an unfortunate consequential necessity of that bus becoming yet more universal, in the sense that it is meant to serve all your IT connectivity needs. With dumb adaptation at the physical layer, that Compaq USB mouse from 1996 plugs right into any modern PC and starts moving the cursor just like any other mouse. Today, even video display devices or other high-bandwidth peripherals can be plugged into that same port (and its many new pins suited to the demands, left untouched and unknown by the mouse) and perform as required.

              With the new USB 4.0 standard encompassing Thunderbolt, who needs slots on a motherboard anymore. Yet, with dumb adaptation at the physical layer, that Compaq USB mouse from 1996 also still Just Works and is probably going to continue to Just Work for at least another decade or two.

      1. John A

        Apple call them USB-A and USB-C. Whether or not that is correct nomenclature is immaterial to me, I have still had to buy an adapter to plug my existing USB plugs into the socket on my new macbook.

        1. RMO

          Dropping the Magsafe power connector on the MacBooks was the last straw for me. Haven’t had an Apple laptop since they did that. Other annoyances and infuriants led up to that decision (and until early spring last year every laptop I’ve ever owned was a MacBook) but it was losing the brilliant Magsafe that put me over the threshold.

  4. fresno dan

    So I did my first skype call ever yesterday.
    So browbeaten by friends, I caved in and bought a webcam to do skype and/or zoom calls – (it will be fun)
    So, I know how grotesque I look, but to have the image up on the screen, moving around and talking, was shocking and alarming – and I don’t know how or if it is possible to have that little image of oneself in the corner not show. I found seeing myself so appalling and fixated on the hideousness so much that I could scarcely think of anything to say. I think I’m scarred for life (new mental scars).
    Not every “advancement” is an improvement…

    1. dave

      It is very distracting to see yourself moving and talking during video calls. Zoom allows you to black out your pic leaving a black screen with just your name. Not sure about Skype.

      I remember Jimmy Stewart saying he had a very hard time watching movies he was in. Too distracting–all you do is look at yourself.

    2. Carla

      Having to watch ourselves is, I think, a major reason that people find Zoom calls so stressful. An out-of-state friend of mine and I have a long-distance “book club” phone call once a week. We did it on “Face-time” once, and since then have just stuck with audio. Works much better for us.

      However, in the case of Zoom, at various times my video hasn’t worked, and I’ve had to join a Zoom discussion with just audio, and I feel like I miss a lot. I’m gradually getting used to the fact that I just look like hell, and the Zoom calls really aren’t about me anyway. Ah, vanity and self-consciousness. My mother always warned me against them…

      1. Stephen C.

        According to my wife, who uses Zoom. There are settings that you can play with to make you look better, or more like the real you, let’s say.

        I found that watching myself was very irritating at first, but instructive. I have been able to mitigate some bad communication and fidgety habits that I was totally unaware of. Also, a friend during the first stages of the Pandemic, who is a nurse practitioner, had to go through training first, before being allowed to Zoom with patients, which was very good for him. They taught him to make, or lets say mimic, eye contact. That’s a positive leap forward for many health care professionals.

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          As any actor knows, studying what you look like when you present yourself helps. Doesn’t mean you have to change things, but being aware stops one from banging desks, making rapid movements, weird facial gestures and such. If you watch yourself for a while, you may gain a new persona for spreading your likeness all over the world and near space. Just practice, you will find a balance that is you!

        2. fresno dan

          Stephen C.
          October 19, 2020 at 10:06 am

          There are settings that you can play with to make you look better, or more like the real you, let’s say.
          Oh NO, you don’t want to see the real me.
          The setting I find most useful is a thick paper bag, applied over my head, or better yet, 2 thick paper bags, over my head.

          1. AndrewJ

            Just because you don’t present like the tiny fraction of humans presented to us as the standards of beauty by the entertainment industrial complex doesn’t mean you should feel like putting a paper bag over your head. You are who you are and you look like what you look like. There’s no need for shame.
            Our society is an incredibly shallow one, though, and being… unlike the contemporary standards of beauty definitely has an effect on the opportunities presented in life… no amount of self-love can change that.

        3. montanamaven

          If you must ZOOM then take a lamp and put it on one side of your computer for a nice glow. And use the Zoom settings to enhance the look. I have avoided Face Time and Zoom for years until the pandemic. Then I did 3 Zoom calls and found them distracting. Now I’m done with them. I’d rather do audio, so good fashioned conference calls work for me.

          1. Carla

            Re:conference calls — I felt the same way. But the people I was “conferencing” with felt otherwise, so I lost that battle.

            1. RMO

              I’ve been taking my bass lessons via Zoom since the pandemic hit. It’s far from ideal but it works.

              I did have one Zoom meeting which involved Google though. After that I understood the Dilbert cartoon where Alice has been trying for days to shut Zoom down after a meeting and is about to resort to throwing her computer in the ocean. When Google was involved I had to shut down and restart my computer to get everything clear.

  5. fresno dan

    The legal reckoning awaiting Donald Trump if he loses the election CNN, Wishful thinking by the pearlclutching set.

    Without some of the protections afforded him by the presidency, Trump will become vulnerable to multiple investigations looking into possible fraud in his financial business dealings as a private citizen — both as an individual and through his company.
    “Protections afforded him by the presidency”
    What about that nonsense that nobody is above the law?
    AND how is it, that for 66 years, apparently in the judgement and investigative capability of the US legal system at both the state and federal level, Donald Trump has apparently never been convicted of a crime (felony)?
    So either Trump became a brazen criminal upon becoming president? Or lost his ability to manipulate and evade criminal prosecution upon becoming president?
    It seems the news lost it when it starts “reporting” on what has not actually HAPPENED, but what it thinks should happen or is going to happen. Now I happen to believe Trump hasn’t broken the law because the law is written to benefit, enhance, and protect billionaires (and even people worth only millions). If Trump was ever convicted of anything, it would be the exception that proves the rule.

    1. AnonyMouse

      Fresno Dan,

      Could it simply not be the case that technical criminality of one kind or another is widespread – the kind that you could prosecute and convict for – and it’s simply that white-collar crimes are hardly ever investigated or prosecuted?

      Paul Manafort was a great example of this, to my mind. If it hadn’t been for Russiagate he probably would’ve gotten away with the tax fraud etc. that he has now been convicted of. There must be countless other such crimes going on in plain sight – I highly doubt unique to Republicans.

      I would hardly be surprised if Trump has broken many laws to the same standard of criminality, would’ve gotten away with them completely if he’d never become a political figure, and now some of them are likely being investigated. But I suspect that he won’t be prosecuted for it. Biden will want to try and be conciliatory. If there is no outright pardon, there will at least be a signal to hold off. And the fall of the Roman Republic reminds us that if you set up the precedent that oligarchs get convicted and pursued through the law courts after they lose the effective prosecutorial immunity that comes with high office… then they have a real incentive to remain in power by any means necessary.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Considering the official Obama position was that prosecuting white collar crime would be too hard…do you realize Eric Holder might have to work past 430 pm? I think it’s safe to say crime is rampant.

        1. The Historian

          Remember the 1999 Holder Memo? Large companies are just ‘too big to prosecute’ – it might damage the economy, ya know.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        If Trump pardons himself, won’t it provide yet another power to the office that future presidents will be loathe to surrender? Suggesting that selfish motives will lead President Harris to not press the issue.

        1. Procopius

          I’m still half-way expecting Trump to use the Obama “threat matrix” to drone some political opponent. He’s have to say he had “intelligence” that he couldn’t reveal for fear of compromising sources and methods, that Governor Whitmer was associated with antifa, a terrorist organization, and he was obliged to kill her with a hellfire missile.

          1. Wukchumni

            Well, it is Michigan, so why not something more clever, such as making the Governor’s official vehicle a 1974 Pinto with faulty rear brake lights?

      3. fresno dan

        October 19, 2020 at 8:41 am
        and it’s simply that white-collar crimes are hardly ever investigated or prosecuted?
        I agree and I think your analysis is spot on.

    2. km

      The criminal laws in the United States are sufficiently broad and far-reaching in scope that a case can always be made against anyone at any time, especially anyone involved in higher level business or politics.

      This is entirely intentional. There is always a pretext to get people off the island, if people of sufficient influence and authority want them gone.

      Trump has made enough people of influence and authority mad enough that they may wish to make an example of him.

      1. jsn

        Yes, but the game of selective justice has gone so far since the Carter Admin, that there’s no institutional memory of justice any more.

        At the elite level, between Obama’s willingness to look the other way on Cheney/Bush violent lawlessness abroad and shredding of civil rights at home, both formalized and expanded by Obama, and the final takeover of politics by finance, also under Obama, we appear to be in a place where the only really effective mechanism at the Federal level is the Fed’s push of dollars into finance.

        Everything else is now a free for all amongst competing factions of the elite who all agree that no one should be looking at what the law actually says. The general lawlessness of US Foreign Policy has since the turn of the century been fully imported and the result is that all the corrupt factions are stale mated.

        1. km

          “Everything else is now a free for all amongst competing factions of the elite who all agree that no one should be looking at what the law actually says.”

          Is it not written that “There is no such thing as law, there is only context.“?

          The long form version is “Laws are for little people. Policy is for the people who matter.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        A guy like Ken Lay was prosecuted because he embarrassed the larger scam and Cheney and friends. Trump isn’t an embarrassment out of office to the powners that be, and he’s too close to them to be prosecuted without inviting comparisons. If Trump is pursued, will there be demands for Christie? I mean his ABCNews partner is the guy who covered up a murder by Chicago police. Do Team Blue types really want to be asked that question? Why is Rahm Emmanuel, an accessory to murder free and in good standing with Team Blue?

        1. km

          The efforts that the powers that be have been making to get rid of or neuter Trump suggest otherwise. He keeps saying the quiet parts out loud.

          1. apleb

            Those efforts were never made to get rid off him, they always were made to neuter his unpalatable actions.
            Stuff like “doesn’t want to wage endless war since it’s unprofitable” or “make peace (and trade!) with russia to prevent its alignment to china”. These kind of actions were all very deliberately, and effectively done over the whole time.

            And then there were theatrics like impeachment which were mainly done against their own internal foes like Sanders and not against Trump.

            That’s why “the most powerful man/office in the world” is really nothing but PT Barnum “a new sucker is born every minute” stuff.

    3. Pelham

      Re the part about Kristof and LePore dismissing a post-Trump truth and reconciliation commission: Wow, I’d actually have to agree.

      First off, who would make up such a commission? Probably some of the most repugnant figures in our less-than-esteemed Professional Managerial Class. Pete Buttigieg would probably have a starring role.

      And how would it come off? No matter how the enterprise was framed, in the broader public it would be perceived as a taking-to-the-woodshed moment for all those deplorable Trump voters. Especially those in flyover committing suicide, dying of opioid addiction and despairing over jobs lost to China. Of course, all the newly enlightened suburban women switching to Biden/Harris would be spared.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Trump Has Failed the U.S. Working Class and Only Helped the Rich”

    In contrast to which previous President exactly? FDR doesn’t count as his efforts stopped the rich from getting the chop at the time although they showed little gratitude to him for that.

    1. marym

      Oh no! Now I feel guilty for criticizing Obama for doing bad things that everyone does! Seriously, the teens did a good job with some good links, especially the EPI article; and they even worked in a criticism of Biden.

      1. Sal

        Biden, “the Senator from MBNA,” represents Delaware, the corporate debt plantation bank and credit card headquarters rotten bourough.

        11% of America’s student loans are making payments (Wolf Richter). The other 89% are in forebearance. That means a tidal wave of additional payments into the already vast future for those who obtained useless degrees in a dead economy, and who, thanks to Biden’s active promotion of the interests of his corporate donors at home, have no chance of ever discharging those debts in bankruptcy, thanks to the senate bill he originated.

        Wonder why young people are apathetic about rushing to the polls to vote for him?

        1. Grant

          When China put in place its market reforms in late 70s, one of the long term impacts was the savings rate. It shot up. Since the state was stepping back in regards to providing housing, basic healthcare, and other things, that fell on individual families. That wasn’t a huge issue in regards to effective demand, because demand elsewhere was historically high. That dynamic is much different in developed countries. Neoliberalism has weighed everyone down with debt, and this country is off the spectrum in that regard, which means that people have to put money aside for things they don’t have to in other countries. So, effective demand for goods and services is much lower than it otherwise would be. Kelton co-published a study on eliminating student loan debt. The study showed that it would have a negligible impact on inflation, and it would obviously benefit local economies and local governments as it would free money to spend on other stuff. Not only would that increase effective demand, but local and state governments would benefit. Here in California, local governments have as much as 7 billion in collective deficits in the next few years, and most are considering layoffs. The economics of this seem pretty airtight, it is a no brainer. But, the politics of it are a different matter. You have the conservative/libertarian types that oppose this on ideology, class interests that profit off of debt and the precariousness of those in debt, and many citizens with the idea that they paid that debt so why shouldn’t others? I wonder how that logic would work in response to any social advancement. Like, when we addressed child labor and exploitation, did some argue that they were exploited as children and so the exploitation of child labor should continue? Did ex-slaves push to keep slavery in place because they were slaves? Why should someone be free when they weren’t most of their life? America sucks.

        2. Yves Smith


          About 50% of the student loans in normal times are not making payments because the students are still in school and therefore not required to. So it’s really bad as opposed to terrible.

    2. Carla

      Well, look at the source. Apparently Teen Vogue has figured out that there could be a MARKET in calling out power for protecting the rich at the expense of everyone else. In that, they’re ahead of most publications, right?

      1. chuck roast

        Yeah, Teen Vogue…that really is a goof. You get 20/20 vision from the oddest places. It reminds me that Vanity Fair had a lot of interesting long-form political pieces not so long ago.

    3. Glen

      I think it’s fascinating that Teen Vogue is doing this reporting. Because the Democrats have been in total denial about even WHY Trump beat Hillery. And the Republicans will be in total denial about why Trump loses.

  7. pck

    RE: Bolivia – Fun to see the empire applying double standards in real time. Court-packing was one of the major sins justifying the coup, and now it’s held up by NYT editorial writers as an instrument of justice…

    In recent years, Mr. Morales’s economic success was marred by increasingly authoritarian measures. He steadily tightened his grip on power, prosecuting opposition figures, packing the courts and electoral boards with allies and unleashing bands of his supporters to intimidate opponents.

    Compared to:
    Court Packing Can Be an Instrument of Justice

  8. Steve

    Wildfires: It’s not just the West Coast is on fire! Here in CO the two largest fires ever were this year, one still burning 3 months later. Current fires threaten Estes Park, Ft. Collins, Loveland, Boulder, and many smaller communities and mountain dwellings, civic infrastructure, and land itself. This should be national news but the West Coasts gets the coverage when pause taken from the election shitshow. Let’s do better.

    1. jsn

      If there’s competent local coverage, please name the source or link to it!

      There is interest, just not amongst the corpretulent media.

    2. Krystyn Podjaski

      Yeah, I have been watching those since I was planning on driving through I80 in Wyoming and the smoke looked pretty bad there at the time.

      The largest fires in Colorado history and barely a peep on the news. I only knew about it because I follow Wildfire Today on Twitter.

      1. chuck roast

        It’s been a few years since I was in CO, but I recall seeing vast tracts of mountainsides brown and dying because of the mountain pine beetle. The little buggahs’ are thriving due to a confluence of adverse environmental events. These areas may as well be matchboxes that magnify adverse events.

        1. tongorad

          A few years ago I revisited an area in CO I visited in my youth (can’t recall where it was at the moment).
          What I do remember vividly is dead trees as far as the eye could see in some sections. Depressing.
          I’m one of these loathsome Texans that love Colorado.

    3. Lex

      Here, east of Horsetooth Reservoir, we’re assured the fire can’t reach us. That seven miles long lake will act as a firebreak and none of those drifts of ash and dry falling leaves we’re sweeping off our patios, porches, and driveways contain live embers that might set our houses on fire. And besides, the fire’s preferred fuel is dead pine trees due to beetle activity. The fire will skip the parched grasslands east of the Front Range… why settle for second best?

      *I’m gonna go check our homeowner’s policy one more time… maybe pack a few bags, just in case*

    4. Glen

      And there has been almost a complete absence of reporting on wildfire around the world. Siberia had massive fires this year, and the Amazon is still burning.

      Luckily the powers that be have headed this off at the pass, it sure looks like ACB is a climate change denier, and the case going in front of SCOTUS about the oils companies and climate change will be dismissed. That will save them TRILLIONS.

      But I’m sure everybody is soon going to find that their home insurance no longer covers wildfire damage.

  9. timbers

    China (don’t spill your coffee):

    I’m reading this elsewhere: “China has now displaced the U.S. to become the largest economy in the world. Measured by the more refined yardstick that both the IMF and CIA now judge to be the single best metric for comparing national economies, the IMF Report shows that China’s economy is one-sixth larger than America’s ($24.2 trillion versus the U.S.’s $20.8 trillion).”

    China is now doing it’s part by leading the luxury product recovery maybe more so the the U.S. Guess we’re slipping here in the states. More QE and a few thousand more “forevers” added to your next speech promising endless free money to Wall Street, Jerome? Powell better get on this in a hurry. Doing what you do, Jerome, over and over and over again is working, Mr Powell. Keep up the good work. Also too that San Francisco Fed member who refuses to “even think about thinking about” ending the Fed official policy of giving away trillions of free money to “a few” super rich folk.

    Maybe Biden can declare a new national holiday:

    The NAFTA National Holiday For Bosses Only

    Wall Street and bank managers, corporate CEOs, and board members and Bosses everywhere get the day off. Not workers though. To support American and their Bosses taking the day off for their Holiday, they will be required to work for free that day.

    Bill Clinton can lead a Covid friendly parade In NY City. Or San Francisco (I’ve read is’t cavernous and deserted in it’s downtown) to be broadcast worldwide to show the world the New America – economically segregated and it’s famous cities desolate. Because Bill started the process of making China #1 with his industrial policy of replacing American workers and know-how with Chinese.

    Barak and Michelle can lead the 2nd string behind Hillary and Bill. Democrats in Congress can choose amongst themselves where in the parade they will be.

    1. JuneZ

      China’s GDP, at ppp [purchasing power parity], the appropriate conversion, began to be larger than that of the US in 2016. I wrote about this mismeasure to the NY Times a few years ago, but their reporter fudged a response. I guess it is too politically charged to concede. It is only possible to show the US GDP higher by using the international value of the yuan to convert to $. This is not an accurate measure for much of China’s output, to say nothing of our constant gripe that they undervalue their currency. See

      1. Grant

        I lived in China, love the people there. But, the environmental damage in China is hard to put into words. The notion that we can analyze what China is going to be economically in 30 years based on the current trajectory is highly problematic, given the environmental crisis. Minqi Li has written about the problem with this, but another recent book by Richard Smith from Pluto Press really goes into the dire situation there. The current growth rates in China in regards to consumption and pollution generation are not sustainable, and I think the internationalization of supply chains in the face of the environmental crisis is going to come apart. China, for example, has among the lowest per capita water availability of any major country. Most of the water is in southern China, and most of it is polluted to the point that a good chunk of it cannot even be used within industry. It is literally too toxic to even use washing down machines. A large share of the rest shouldn’t be used in agriculture and should only be used for industrial purposes, but it is used in agriculture. Heavy metals at very dangerous levels in the water, soil, and often the air. Water pollution that is hard to put into words.

        I am a proponent of economic planning, but I also realize the centrality of democracy to the planning. Without good information in the planning system, the system will make bad planning decisions. China’s planning apparatus has made decisions for short term benefits (like higher growth rates, and also generating tax revenue that provincial governments depend on), without really confronting the environmental impact of it all.

        The government used to track “mass incidents” (protests and riots of a particular size), but doesn’t anymore. The numbers were huge though when they did. Inequality, corruption and environmental degradation were the three big reasons. That will continue, and if China wants to avoid Balkanizing, it is going to have to put in place radical changes. Since GDP only captures the economic VALUE of goods and services produced, if they want to maintain their GDP growth trajectory, they will have to start prioritizing helping ecosystems to heal and will have to start monetizing some of the ecosystem services/benefits. If they monetize environmental damage, and they were serious, it would effectively end the economic miracle there.

        China can put in place some of these changes, and I hope it does.

    2. ChrisPacific

      “Bosses Day,” where we recognize the sacrifices made by tech and finance sector CEOs and the vast contributions they have made to our society (which, as neoclassical economic theory tells us, must be proportional to the wealth they have accumulated by doing so).

      There will be an informal collection among Amazon workers to raise money to send family members of Jeff Bezos to college, with donation amounts noted on the employee record (along with an assurance that it will not influence their future employment prospects in any way). Special one-off payday loans will be approved for those without the means.

  10. Winston Smith

    Tiresome to hear predictions of what will happen after the election IF Biden wins…let’s get through the damn things first

      1. Carla

        Joe himself has promised that!

        Whenever I am unfortunate enough to have him cross my mind, it is as follows:
        Joe “Nothing Will Change” Biden

      2. km

        That is SO NOT TRUE!

        The MSM will stop asking any questions and simply greet Biden’s every pronouncement with hosannas, for one thing.

        The alphabet agencies will stop trying to neuter their nominal boss and get back to ignoring him.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Those agencies don’t just ignore the Big Cheese, they bend him to effectuate their schemes and “policies.” Credit where it is due.

          There are a few good nuggets in this piece, separate out for yourself anything that seems to be “just CT…”

      3. JCC

        Nothing will fundamentally change.

        That is the most frustrating aspect of all this for me. I feel obligated to vote even though I know nothing will change.

        So it’s third Party for me as well as voting against every incumbent. But then that has been my predominant voting method for the last 30 years.

        Back in the 1980’s there was a retired gentleman in Florida with a little bit of wealth and an educated outlook on American Politics. He took out full page ads in a few US Papers, NYTimes, USA Today, the WSJ and one or two others, paying for them himself. I remember my father pointing out the full page in the WSJ to me while laughing and saying it was the best political advertisement he had ever seen.

        Essentially his position was Throw The Bastards Out (using that as his headline where he was allowed to do so).

        It was a great campaign even though it went nowhere, but I took it to heart.

        His essential position was that incumbents were killing the country and the smartest possible move for the American voting Public, no matter what their Party affiliation, was to vote against the incumbent. I don’t recall his exact reasonings, but it made sense to me shortly after I had left the Army and I took it to heart.

        I modified my stance over the years, deciding to always vote against the incumbent and also refusing to vote for either the Dem or Repub candidate. I broke that vow once, Obama’s first election, a vote I’ve regretted it ever since.

        I can’t tell you how much time it saves you going over local, regional, and national candidate stances (that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to their policies and stances, I just don’t bother believeng any of them).

        Friends have told me that it’s a crazy way to vote and that I’m “just throwing away my vote”, but this guy’s position was that if everyone did it, then it would not be a vote “thrown away”. He was right, of course, and the sooner people wake up and smell the coffee, the better for all of us. It would only take one to three election cycles to bring about real change in policies of those who dared to run for office.

        As an aside, does anyone here remember that brief campaign? I’ve done searches for it countless times and have yet to find any references to it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I saw a video clip where he was asked about the green new deal and he said that it will create jobs and generate billions of dollars. The interviewer immediately asked him if he supported it and without a pause he said no. It was bizarre that. And he said that he will keep fracking going. And that he will issue a Presidential veto if a bill comes across his desk for M4A.

      You know, Trump could have sealed this election. All he had to do was to push for M4A in the middle of a pandemic. Leave the Democrats in the position of fighting against M4A in public as well as all those Progressives. That would have to be worth at least four bags of popcorn that.

      1. judy2shoes

        “I saw a video clip where he was asked about the green new deal and he said that it will create jobs and generate billions of dollars.”

        Rev, that clip you are referring was from the so-called “presidential debate” between Joe and Donald. That part was rather fun to watch…

        1. chuck roast

          If the the cellah’ dwellah’ loses a close election: IMO the margin of defeat will be the young people who after hearing his dismissal of a GND will go and do something important on Nov. 3, like put air in their tires or clearing themselves of belly-button lint.

      2. Glen

        That’s what I kept saying, all he had to do was support M4A, and – boom – done.

        Trump has been getting NOTHING but crap advice as soon as he let the normal Republican crooks into his circle. That’s why he WON, and why his base sticks to him through thick and thin – he is NOT a normal Republican – love him or hate him.

        Now, we’re going to be dealing with essentially united party elites neoliberal/neocon Democrats and Republicans. They have ONE THING in common, neither of them give a flying {family blog} about real Americans.

        1. tongorad

          Trump could have buried the Democrats if he adopted M4A during the pandemic.

          For those who say this is the most important election ever, saving democracy, etc – neither party is supporting universal health care in the midst of a pandemic.
          I still can’t get over that and that’s why I’m not bothering to vote.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            He never believed in it. So why would he ever have adopted it? And who would have trusted him to mean it?

            I mean . . . who trusts Biden when he says he will “protect Social Security”?

      1. km

        Biden will quietly back away from his promise to end United States involvement in the crimes in Yemen.

        Team D cultists will make excuses.

    2. Drake

      Yes, you were right to capitalize the “IF”. In all fairness to the link about Biden’s lead being different than Hillary’s, I’ll believe it when I see it. This is still a competitive race, and the polls are the only thing telling me that Biden’s winning it. When polls say one thing and everything else I see tells me the opposite, I stop paying any attention to polls. Biden’s not even really in this race in any significant way — it’s a race between pro-Trump and anti-Trump, and both sides have a lot of enthusiasm. Biden has none.

      1. Darthbobber

        Well, since antiTrump manifests in the material world as Biden votes, that’s arguably a distinction without a difference.

        But yes. Either Trump has beaten himself or he hasn’t. If Biden wins, a fox terrier would have.

        1. Drake

          Anti-Trump can manifest in other ways than Biden votes, so it’s not entirely without a difference. It could be third-party, write-ins for Kanye or Scrooge McDuck or Homelander, or it could crucially be no vote at all. Of course, no vote at all is a two-edged sword.

      2. km

        What do you claim to know that various Team R Senators and other luminaries do not?

        That said, you are correct on one thing. Very few people one way or the other are voting for Biden.

        1. Drake

          I don’t claim to know anything. I see Trump rallies packed with screaming people and I see Biden events that look empty. I see polls telling me the same things they told me in 2016. I see the Biden campaign itself telling me not to believe the polls. I see a Democratic party as contemptuous of it’s left-wing as ever, maybe more than ever. And I see social media so worried about negative news that they’re openly censoring, not just their users, but politicians and newspapers. I see Biden’s spending money coming straight from Wall Street, and so does everybody else, and his cabinet picks will be the same ol same ol Yale-Harvard neoliberal set. I see Trump scoring victories (peace deals, Nobel prize nominations, Supreme Court pick, etc) and I see Biden unable to read a giant teleprompter after hiding in his basement all summer. It just doesn’t add up to a Biden victory to me. It smells. He might win, but if he doesn’t people will be looking back at everything under a microscope saying “how did we not see this coming?” And we haven’t even got through the Hunter emails yet.

          1. km

            The most fundamental difference between now and 2016 is that back then, Trump could credibly present himself as an outsider with new ideas, running against a corrupt DC establishment.

            In 2020, we have seen how Trump governs in practice. The “plucky outsider with bold new ideas” schtick will no longer fly.

            Then there’s the fact that Trump won because he won three states (WI, MI and PA) that traditionally vote Team D, by razor thin margins. It was the electoral equivalent of rolling snake eyes, three times in a row.

            I wouldn’t bet on being able to repeat that feat.

            1. John k

              Neither would I. OTOH…
              In both elections Bernie endorsed the dem and campaigned. Will more or less progressives sit it out this time?
              IMO youth has less reason to support joe than Biden. What will they do?
              Many people didn’t like Hillary, but half the dems love her, and enthusiastically supported first woman candidate etc. who enthusiastically supports joe? Even his wife says, ‘hold your nose and vote for joe’.
              And swing polls remain about where they were in 2016.
              OTOH, if trump loses Fl… that’s the case where we might know on election night.

            2. RMO

              km: One other difference is that I believe the media, punditry, corporate elites and Washington elites saw Trump as a joke in 2016. A joke that was good for ratings and they never seriously considered the possibility he might actually win

              This time around they aren’t going to make that mistake. The funny thing is that Biden only has a chance at winning because of the pandemic, not exactly a factor one can count on when strategizing an election. Even with that they’re still running close. I think Biden’s going to win… but I wouldn’t bet a penny on this election either way, even if we still had pennies here in Canada!

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The size of rally-attendance may not show what you think it shows. People “for” Biden generally consider Corona a “real thing” worth protecting themselves and eachother against. People FOR Trump consider Corona a ” Trump-hater Liberal Hoax” and show their defiance of the “Corona narrative” by gathering in tightly packed no-mask bunches.

            That doesn’t necessarily mean more votes FOR Trump than “for:” Biden, though it could.
            We shall see.

  11. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The legal reckoning awaiting Donald Trump if he loses the election CNN, Wishful thinking by the pearlclutching set.

    Pearlclutching indeed. I now have a bet with one of my TDS infected friends who has been paying a little too much attention to the liberal PMC Wurlitzer – I will buy him dinner if Trump is either jailed or flees the country to avoid it and he will buy me one if neither of those happens. He seems to have forgotten the old saw about glass houses before making the wager.

    Beef tenderloin is delicious, and even more so when someone else pays for it.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I think you’re going to win that bet. Readying myself for more “look forward” bull manure.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      C’mon man. You really should add to the bet to make it fair. Not only will nothing happen but that Biden will inevitably lean on New York state to protect Trump. You need to add that there will certainly be a sickening scene such as Obama’s salute to Shrub at the 20th inaugeral just to come close to making it a reasonable bet.

      Even better, only accept an after dinner mint and offer to split the meal when you win.

    3. The Historian

      I’m not sure that is true. There has been a decided change in how politics is done in this country. Hillary Clinton did not concede and then retire gracefully into the sunset as former candidates have done. She and her party kept going after Trump.

      And Trump himself, is not going to fade into the sunset either if he loses – he’s going to continue to hog the press as much as he can – that is just who he is. The Democrats just might continue going after him even if he isn’t in office just to try to shut him down.

      Then there is the fact that Trump has spent a great deal of effort shredding Obama’s legacy. Surely there will be a price to be paid for that!

      But, who knows? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        If the Democrats go after Trump for some arcane financial crimes because his accountants didn’t cross their Ts correctly, they open themselves up for the same treatment. And don’t even start with how he made money at his hotels while president – the horror!!! I don’t remember any laws about how the President can’t own commercial property. In fact we’ve been regaled for years about how much better things would be if only the country were run like a business. And with all the dirt already out there on the next presumptive president’s financial dealings, and all the rot and corruption pervading the whole system, if the Democrats were smart they wouldn’t go uncovering too many rocks. But having Trump as president in the first place goes to show that the Democrats aren’t very smart, so there’s that.

        I don’t see any decided change in how politics is done in this country. What may seem like a decided change is merely Trump Derangement Syndrome. Once the Bad Orange Man is in the rear view mirror, it’ll be back to the regularly scheduled grifting and kayfabe. Bank on it. Pun intended.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter


          The only change I can see is some people started noticing some parts of what the government is up to because Trump is such a good heel and doesn’t care if you think so. If Trump loses and Biden gets everyone back to brunch, Ol’ Dry Power Pelosi will ask the nation how prosecuting Trump for whatever would solve racism or end sexism and that will be that. The adults will be running the show again and everyone else can go back to sleep.

        2. DJG

          Indeed: If there are going to be prosecutions, I want indictments to fall down like rain, not sparing either party, Wall Street, or Silicon Valley.

          Sure, Pompeo, Christie, Mnuchin, Chad Wolf, and so on.

          And Comey and Brennan. Strzok. And the rest of the “intelligence” “community.”

          And Rahm Emanuel, Dianne Feinstein, and that whole liberal clown show.

          Half of Wall Street.

          The Clintons. I was recently reminded of Jill Stein’s observation when Hillary Clinton’s defenders claimed that the 30,000 mislaid e-mail messages were about Chelsea’s wedding and yoga: “When did she do work?”

          I may even temporarily suspend my opposition to capital punishment.

        3. km

          “If the Democrats go after Trump for some arcane financial crimes because his accountants didn’t cross their Ts correctly, they open themselves up for the same treatment.”

          That assumes that the laws will be applied evenhandedly. They will not. People of influence and authority will get off scot free for stuff that would land a normie in Leavenworth or a SuperMax, tout suite.

          Did not James Comey himself say, in so many words, that HRC wasn’t prosecuted because of who she is?

      2. Daryl

        > And Trump himself, is not going to fade into the sunset either if he loses – he’s going to continue to hog the press as much as he can – that is just who he is.

        It will be interesting to see what happens. On one hand, once he isn’t president it will be a lot easier to ignore him entirely. On the other hand, the media is addicted to him and one can imagine him stirring up trouble and them taking the opportunity to push more Trump is dangerous stuff.

      3. Glen

        I would LOVE to see Trump get his day in court. He would throw every ex-President under the bus in a New York minute. And they ALL deserve it.

        It’s not going to happen.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          They might have the Epstein Assassins kill Trump. Being verrrrr-y careful to make it look like a disease of old age, however.

    4. pasha

      i tend to agree that, at the federal level, a new administration might find it more politic to go after trump’s satellites — family, business associates, corrupt appointees — rather than focus on trump himself. they have limited time to press their legislative agenda, and cannot afford to lose momentum by letting trump remain the center of the news cycle.

      that said, i think trump is in big trouble at the state and local level. manhattan district attorney cyrus vance and new york attorney general tish james already have cases ready to go before their respective grand juries, on allegations of tax fraud, bank fraud, and securities fraud — the very crimes of which his attorney steven cohen was convicted. prosecutors love these types of cases because they’re easy to win, the facts are there in black and white, in sworn corporate records, and it isn’t necessary to prove motive.

      it is also obvious he’s been underpaying taxes, so every local jurisdiction where he owns property is likely to bring civil suits to recover back taxes. depending on the degree, these investigations can turn into criminal charges for tax evasion.

      further, at the international level, scotland is already investigating his two golf courses for money laundering. this could trigger a cascade of such investigations of trump properties in other countries.

      nor will he have the justice department to act as his personal counsel. he’s going to need real legal talent to defend himself, and he’s going to need to pay upfront.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    “Buy Less, Buy Better” Means Luxury Leaders Are Only Going To Get Stronger Jing Daily.

    I think that if there is one positive outcome of Covid, it is that the ‘right’ type of luxury brands – i.e. those selling genuine quality, will do relatively well. I was talking recently to two people I know who work in retail, one the manager of a Patagonia store, the other work in a big upmarket department store. Both said that there are a surprising number of people willing to spend, but the notion of browsing shops and impulse buying seems to have died. People are coming in to the shops having done their research online to look at something they’ve been thinking of buying for a while – often something quite practical, like a good stylish winter jacket. Now it may be that impulse buying has migrated to the internet, but anecdotally, I think a lot of people have become frustrated with cluster and useless things accumulated when they were out to buy something else. For many, that means not spending less, just being a little more thoughtful about what they do buy.

    1. Lee

      When my old dishwasher gave up the ghost after many years of working just fine, I bought a new one from Bosch that was highly rated by Consumer Reports. After 18 months, the digital control panel failed. I have been waiting for two months for the part to be shipped to the local Bosch authorized repair company, whose personnel speak such heavily accented English that misunderstandings between us are a regular feature of our attempts to communicate. Digitization+globalization=crapification. Oh well, washing dishes by hand can be a satisfying practice of mindfulness.

      1. Carolinian

        My old washer is on its last legs and I dread having to buy a new, doubtless digital model. The old washer is ridiculously simple. When the motor turns in one direction it agitates. When it turns in the other it spins. This design is decades old.

        Of course expensive to replace digital appliance controls would be great if they didn’t break down. Oddly they seem to do just that. Planned obsolescence much?

        1. nippersdad

          We just had to replace the middle-of-the-line toploading Maytag washer we bought thirty years ago. After heroic efforts by the appliance guy it was determined that the thing had fused to the point where a chisel and sledge wouldn’t get it apart such that it could be fixed.

          We replaced it with yet another toploading Maytag that has dials, not a touch pad. We had expected to pay a fortune for a new one, so it was nice when it only came to around $300.00 more than the thirty year old one had cost. While we have not had it long enough to gauge how well it will last, the thing holds twice as much laundry as the old one, uses less water and gets our clothes cleaner than the dear departed model.

          Were it not for the truly strange and deeply irritating sounds it makes we would be delighted with it. So you may not be in for as bad an experience as you expect.

      2. Geof

        Does it actually wash dishes? Our Bosch is very good at distributing a faint film just barely sensible to touch evenly over everything. Apparently this is a consequence of energy efficiency standards, which require less power and point of use. In exchange, the whole thing gets dumped into landfill every few years and buying a new one, because it’s basically made of bespoke tinfoil (probably made of rare mentals from goodness knows where) and GOTO statements. I would not be surprised if net lifetime energy use is higher with “green” appliances. I am also inclined to think that the real target of green initiatives should not be increased efficiency, but a reduced cycle of consumption: standardized quality, not proprietary whiz-bang technology. Why? Because the incentives are exactly the opposite.

        1. Futility

          We bought a Miele dish washer. Are very happy with it. But the guy who installed it, told us not to use the energy saving mode which is the default mode but to wash at least at 65 °C or warmer otherwise grease will not be dissolved sufficiently (the energy saving default mode washes at 50°C). Might be the reason for the film you observe.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is this a case where skilled retro-de-digitizers would have a market for their services? Stripping the digital cooties out of your Bosch dishwasher and giving it strictly analog controls?

      4. Heraclitus

        My wife and I have a ten year old Bosch dishwasher. It is digital, also. The control panel went out and we watched a YouTube video, ordered the correct part, and replaced the panel. She’s technical, I hand her the wrench.

        We have Samsung washer and dryers that are also digital and about the same age. We’ve had a repairman to work on the washer once, and it was a mechanical part that wore out. In future, we’ll go Korean.

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        I dunno — i’ll concede a possibility that style/fashion can be accompanied by quality, but I don’t seem to get a chance to se it happening much myself. More often, it has seemed to me that all fashion does is either

        * make clothes I like fashionable — and as a result harder to afford to buy; or

        * make clothes I like unfashionable — and as a result harder to find to buy.

    2. Lex

      An amazing and puzzling number of people answered when I asked what they did with their time during the lockdown, that they cleaned out their closets and/or painted and reordered their pantries. They also took stock of the inventory in their freezers. It was their response to the double shock of seeing all those empty shelves in our usually burgeoning grocery stores, and being temporarily unemployed. Sure, they may not be able to make their mortgage payments, but until that day of reckoning, they weren’t going to starve.

      None reported purchasing any diamonds or trading the old Prius in for a Mercedes. This strikes me as an activity (in person or online) for those with passive income.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    If recycling plastics isn’t making sense, remake the plastics Ars Technica

    Realistically, the type of process outlined in this article (i.e. up cycling plastics into high value products) is likely to be the only approach that really makes sense in a world where it appears that there is no real willingness to tackle the problem at source.

    Back in the 1990’s, there was quite a buzz about cracking plants for plastics – BP invested a lot in a plant in Grangemouth, Scotland – the idea was that mixed plastics could be broken back down to base chemicals. Interest in this died away for reasons that were never really clear (BP and other companies never, to my knowledge, published details of the processes and why they abandoned them), but I suspect that the problem was economic as much as technical – very low oil prices in the early 00’s seemed to have doomed the market for cracked base chemicals, which are always likely to have some contamination.

    Hopefully, one of these processes makes economic as well as technical sense, but in a world where fracked gas products are being dumped on world markets, it is only likely that it will be implemented by strong government action. It may be that governments around the world will find increasing interest in this not for environmental reasons, but because it would be an effective way for non-fossil fuel countries to reduce their reliance on imports. This may be the biggest incentive for Europe, China and Japan in particular to invest heavily.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      One process I heard about heating plastic to 800F in an oxygen-free (vacuum, possible) oven which resulted in the breakdown of the plastics into burnable gasses, which we used to maintain the temperature. There is a name for this specific type of oven, but it escapes me this morning. Problems included maintaining the vacuum while running a continuous feed and contributing yet more CO2 to the atmosphere.

      Apparently, a suitable feed mechanism was patented by a guy in San Francisco, presumably a multi-chamber multi-corkscrew thing (my guess)

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That is essentially the process BP were using at Grangemouth (so far as I understand it). I don’t think anyone else is following up on the process, so they may well have found it impractical. The core problem so may of these processes run up against in the sheer number of different types of plastics (especially PVC) and type of additives to consumer plastics. This always seems to confound techniques that work when dealing with relatively homogenous inputs.

    2. chuck roast

      Geez, here we go…discussing recycling plastics again. I first entered this discussion professionally as a clear-eyed nimrod over 25 years. All I can say is that the discussion remains, shall we say “fraught.” Long ago I came to the conclusion that plastics in most applications should not exist. Many of us are currently reaching the same conclusion regarding face/tweet…they are dangerous, complicate our lives to the point of derangement, and probably should not exist. If past is prologue, I guess you all can look forward to a future of both mental and physical ill health…IBG.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor Intercept

    Good article and thanks for posting it. One minor quibble – somebody from a financial/economics blog may want to send Greenwald a little note because he gets out over his skis a bit when he says this:

    Tech giants, like all corporations, are required by law to have one overriding objective: maximizing shareholder value. They are always going to use their power to appease those they perceive wield the greatest political and economic power.

    That ‘required by law’ part is simply untrue, but goes to show how propaganda can affect even the most informed, intelligent and diligent of journalists when the subject isn’t in their wheelhouse.

    1. Vastydeep

      Perhaps I am mistaken, but anybody who has taken corporate law has learned about 1919 Dodge v. Ford, which gave us the following note: “A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end. The discretion of the directors is to be exercised in the choice of means to attain that end, and does not extend to … other purposes.”

      This may have been bad law, but I believe that this is what Greenwald is citing. Isn’t this still the governing principle today?

        1. lyman alpha blob

          also a couple links from NC on the topic –

          Again, not a lawyer but wondering if the Dodge v Ford decision could be interpreted to mean that execs can’t deliberately tank a publicly held company (which would be very interesting considering some of the shadier current private equity practices).

          1. Dirk77

            In that last article, commenter David brings up Dodge v Ford. Yves gives three reasons that it isn’t relevant.

        2. albrt

          If you own a company you can do what you want with it.

          If you are managing a company that is owned others, your duty to the shareholders is to make money unless they tell you otherwise (such as adopting a charter that says your primary objective is to provide affordable housing).

          1. RMO

            If you manage a public company you can do what you want with it, unless enough shareholders pay attention, gather together and force a change in those policies. I can write up an interminably long list of companies that went down the tubes due to management looting or incompetence without the shareholders ever doing anything about it.

      1. Glen


        If you think the Federal government is a joke, you have NO IDEA just how bad “corporate governance” is. Think Federal government incompetence on superspreader steroids. But very good PowerPoints to make it all go down smooth.

        But go back to sleep, Mr. Shareholder, the LAW is looking after you…

        (The LAW is deaf/dumb/blind, but the Fed will print TRILLIONS.)

      2. Eduardo

        In the 1950s and 1960s, states rejected Dodge repeatedly, in cases including AP Smith Manufacturing Co v. Barlow[2] or Shlensky v. Wrigley.[3] The general legal position today is that the business judgment that directors may exercise is expansive. Management decisions will not be challenged where one can point to any rational link to benefiting the corporation as a whole.


    2. Dirk77

      Yes, excellent piece, and I wondered about that comment too, but Vastydeep may know more than me apparently. That said, both Greenwald and Taibbi note again how the media, not just the tech giants, keep trashing their reputation. Even my hometown LA Times has had only two articles about this, and one of those was in the business section. Contrast again with all the now shown to be false Russiagate stories.

      It can’t be said enough that if Trump pulls out a win, it will be at least partly due to the justifiable outrage of people over the duplicity of the media, its gatekeepers such as FB, and their buddies in gov intel.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Former OPCW Chief Says His Office Was Bugged While USA Pushed Iraq War”

    Not a surprise at all this. In the lead up to the Iraq invasion, the US was also spying on the delegates of the UN in spite it being illegal on several levels. The US intelligence agencies operate on a need to know basis. What this means is that in order to know what they need to know, they need to know everything so as to know what they need to know and what they do not need to know. Clear?

    1. Olga

      And there we have the main reason why the US is so agitated about Huawei … could not possibly afford to lose the ability to spy. Pushing for wars would become so much more difficult, after all.

      1. Lee

        While older people are more vulnerable to serious symptoms, the case rate among younger age groups is rapidly increasing. While being younger is to a great degree protective, it is obviously not so in all cases. I’m assuming there is a genetic component to varying degrees of vulnerability. It would be good to know more in this regard.

  16. ProNewerDeal

    Anecdotal Election Report 2020

    I was hanging with a friend, who voted in the Primary in 2016 & 2020 for Sanders, that sad he did not plan to vote in the Nov election in our non-swing state. The Millenial friend has a BA in Journalism & is wordly, bilingual, knowledgable about many social studies & cultural topics.

    Upon questioning he confirmed his perception that the election mostly has no impact on his life.

    Unlike past elections, I only had about 30 seconds of motivation to sell him on the convenience of a mail ballot, & that Green Party’s policies are similar but stronger version of Sanders’ policies.

    Although I will vote myself, I am understanding of nonvoters.

    Voter Shamers & Non-Voter Shamers ala msDNC guest & Corporate D Apologist Sham Seder within this Oligarchical Fugazi Version of 2020 US “Democracy” have worsened from Garden Variety D0uche Bags to D0ucheus Maximus level.

    1. ahimsa

      I still find one of the most fascinating factoids of the 2016 election, (IIRC) Michael Moore has repeated that in WI and/or MI there were thousands of Dem ballots with empty Presidential choices. People who actually made the effort to go out and stand in line and vote but had not been given reason enough to tick the box for HRC.

      1. Sal

        The Green Party is strong on the environment, and could be an excellent alternative to the Demopublican~Republicrat duopoly, but it has no chance of winning jackshit anywhere thanks to this kind of Average American alienating bullshit from their platform page:
        We are committed to establishing relationships that honor diversity; that support the self-definition and self-determination of all people; that consciously confront the barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, class oppression, ageism, and ableism,”

        That’ll play really well in places where they could have potentially broad appeal, for example say, Fracking wasted Pennsylvania, Appalachia, Flintwater Michigan, Louisiana’s Cancer Alley, mountain top removal Kentucky and other environmentally caused disaster zones.

        That inclusivity screed, while garnering adoration from some of the tiny minority of voters they enshrine, will alienate the majority of voters.

        1. km

          I have concluded that the Green Party doesn’t really want to govern. That would require tough choices, trade-offs and compromise.

          Far more satisfying to kvetch from the sidelines and stay pure.

        2. chuck roast

          I joined the Greens when the Dems rolled over to NAFTA. I was an active member in two different states. They are worthless. I checked-off the box for Howie Hawkins.

      2. jef

        Moore also talks about how 2 of the last three Presidents didn’t even win the majority popular and the electoral college is not obligated to follow the popular vote.

        What I say is you are given the choice to vote on either being shot or stabbed did you vote to die? If we are not allowed to choose who we want to run for president why do people accept that we have a choice as to who will be president?

        The majority of americans don’t want either of these eh-holes to be president, they only know who they REALLY don’t want to be. Does that sound like a democracy?

      3. Arizona Slim

        True confession: Yours Truly has already voted early.

        For POTUS, I said [family blog] you to the corporatist duopoly candidates and wrote in Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate.

        I left many spots blank. Most notably, the choice between Martha McSally and Mark Kelly for US Senate. I don’t think that either of them deserve the office.

        Locally? I voted in favor of legal marijuana, the Red for Ed education funding restoration proposition, and increased funding for our local community college.

        As mentioned here before, I am seeing a forest of Biden signs in our most well-to-do neighborhoods. Not so many signs in other areas.

        1. John k

          I also voted for Bowie, though I don’t know anything about him.
          Prob is, I know too much about the leading candidates.

    2. nippersdad

      The VBNMW crowd had become incredibly shrill this electoral season, and they have invaded nearly every internet hidey hole that I frequent. I’m not sure I have ever seen so many people clearly operating from a Correct The Record type script that claim to hate their own candidate but are eager to vote for him anyway.

      I tell them that they earned the existing status quo and that they should appreciate their achievements more than they do, but that less than enticing argument does not quell their squeals of outrage much. My Wife caught Peter Daou on twitter asking if he had been such a pill in ’16; everyone apparently assured him that he was, but he was forgiven for not being one this year.

      “Doucheus Maximus” sounds like the perfect descriptor for them this time around. I can easily see why people are voting Trump just to spit in the Dems eyes. To inaccurately paraphrase Truman: Given a choice between two Republicans, I will vote for the Greens every time.*

      “If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.”

      1. Lex

        I’m rarely envious but I did envy those who opened their ballots absolutely certain of who and what they would vote for. I’ve spent four years wearing out the mute button, and the idea of spending four more years avoiding the voice of yet another, or the same, Major Bullshitter… the lack of choices and being in possession of a conscience is hell!

        Still voted for Biden — aighhh! — but ‘Other’, I so wanted to write you in and have it matter.

    3. Phillip Cross

      “he did not plan to vote in the Nov election”

      A very sensible fellow.

      The only rational choices I can see for this election are:

      1) Don’t vote.
      2) Vote against all incumbents.
      3) Protest vote third party or amusing write in.

      #1 is obviously the easiest; so that’s what I will do, and would recommend.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    Counter-intuitive credit scores rising (WSJ) may indicate an unintended blessing from COVID-19. Most Americans do not take their debt seriously until they near retirement and realize that a drop in income means minimum-due payments are no longer an option. Quite often they liquidate their houses and excess vehicles to pay off their mortgages and credit card debt.

    As the WSJ article implies, it appears that the unsteady economy has caused many younger Americans to assess their debt vulnerability and take steps to reduce it. It makes you wonder if people are getting woke about debt or if they will relapse into debt once the pandemic winds down.

    1. Brian (another one they call)

      Few in the US are going to be able to retire, ever. Hyperinflation is here. 23% of the money created in this nation has been done this year. Prices are rising at 10% per year (at least) There is no slowdown on printing or creating digital cash so that is what is going to happen. But NO ONE gets a cost of living adjustment to their social security that actually reflects the devaluation of the currency.
      The above applies to everyone under the 3%. Most of which are living paycheck to paycheck and those checks never go up enough to counter the inflation of the currency. Evictions, foreclosures are coming that can only be seen as “by design” to cause consternation and fear among the people that have to live in a system so out of control that no solution except the unthinkable will help.
      My guess is that this will cause people to notice that they are losing everything. Critical mass awaits. And then what? Martial law or guillotines? Or perhaps, martial law and then guillotines, because Americans don’t put up with seeing their family starve. Desperation is coming and it isn’t going to be talked down.
      We didn’t start the fire.

      1. Yves Smith

        You completely discredited yourself with saying “hyperinflation”. Wash your mouth out. It takes very specific conditions to create hyperinflation, namely massive losses of real economy productive capacity.

        Thatcher and Reagan experimented with money supply targets. It was a total bust. Money supply changes bear zero relationship to any macroeconomic variable, including inflation.

        The inflation we have is due to rentierism (see Michael Hudson on land), monopoly pricing abuses (health care especially), supply chain disruptions and some crop shortfalls for food, and lack of labor bargaining power.

        Japan has created tons of money and is stuck in borderline deflation, or did you miss that? Asset prices being bid up is not inflation. The price increases we have

  18. Procopius

    I tend to suspect reporting at the Washington Post, but this story about food stamps was linked at the Reality Chex blog, which is a good moderate (in the better sense of the word) aggregator. It struck me especially because I think theres a lot more of this kind of thing going on that I’m not seeing, and I think it should be emphasized much more.

  19. Samuel Conner

    Last week I sent (via Amazon [ducks head]) copies of Prof Kelton’s “The Deficit Myth” to an old friend who had been a long-time admirer of “fiscally responsible” Paul Ryan. I had been attempting to explain MMT to him over a span of years but evidently had done a terrible job. Halfway in to Chapter One, he “got” it.

    This might be a good holiday gift for family, friends, and even enemies.


    Speaking of adversaries, Joe S loses his cool over the latest deficit numbers:

    He starts off with the “household budget” analogy, at which point I tuned out.

    When such widespread conventional wisdom is so plainly false, I find it tempting to agree with the President that the MSM traffics almost entirely in “fake news”

    It has a “hall of mirrors” feel to it, IMO

      1. RMO

        I’ve found the most effective way to get someone to consider MMT and it’s implications is to point out how the most blanced-budget spouting deficit hawks always, always have no problem spending huge amounts of money with no mention of where it’s coming from when dealing with something they are in favor of. Massively increasing military budgets or shiny new wars for example.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Biden would revamp fraying intel community”

    Why should he? He will reward them instead for sabotaging Trump the first four years so that he became a one-term President. All the evidence is right there out in the open but the MSM won’t touch that story.

    And where it said ‘President Donald Trump was in the middle of receiving a highly classified briefing on Afghanistan at his New Jersey golf club when he suddenly craved a malted milkshake’, do you think it was when they were telling Trump that just a few more thousand troops will give the US final victory in Afghanistan? Or that the only reason that he was President because of the Russians?

  21. Wukchumni

    A La Niña winter is on the way for the US Ars Technica

    Amid devastating US fires, experts urge fire prevention rethink Al Jazeera
    Looking at the US Drought Monitor, i’ve never seen such widespread extreme & exceptional drought conditions throughout the west from Texas to California and up nearly to the Canadian border.

    You almost wonder if we’re headed into a repeat of the conditions of around 1,000 years ago, which drove the Anasazi out of Chaco Canyon in NM, while California was enduring a drought lasting over 2 centuries?

    There’d be a lot of migration east with the west emptying out~

    We’re counting on a storm to show up and put out the myriad of wildfires still smoldering, but what if we get a repeat of one of the drought years in California where it didn’t rain until late January?

    And as far as prescribed burns go, we need to greatly lessen the NIMBY factor that comes with the territory, and go about these planned fires with an approach of creating dead ends for lightning strike caused fires in the future, along with looking inward and making the decision to spend 10% of military $’s specifically on both prescribed burns and fighting wildfires. That’s the enemy, not somebody half a world away in the middle east desert.

    1. ewmayer

      Recall that last winter in CA also featured a mini-drought in form of a sudden halt to the rains and 2 months of warmer-tahn-normal and super-dry weather from mid-January to mid-March. So basically, if the long-range forecast for the coming winter proves correct, Pac NW gonna continue getting all of the rain hitting the west coast. We in CA are so screwed.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “How Australia’s Labor Movement Helped Build Neoliberalism”

    I can talk about how this played out in politics here by the 90s. The Labour party’s strategy had helped push Australians to the right because of their feckless support of average Australians. In the end, the Labour party in government was throwing money at any minor fraction that they could identify that might send their votes their way. If left-handed, lesbian redheads were a significant number, then they would throw big money at them as well. But to do so, they were taking money out of other areas like hospitals, police and anything else that affected most people (read voters). It got so bad that back in the 90s I asked myself what exactly the Labour party supported – and could not find an answer.

    As a backlash to both political parties refusing to bother listening to average people, a woman named Pauline Hanson out of the blue took about a million votes during an election in the 90s. She was like a female Donald Trump. It frightened both parties so they colluded to bring her down and had her sent to prison on bogus charges eventually. But the Coalition party took up her suggested policies and won government by appealing to average workers. From there they pushed Australia further to the right in order to cement their position in power. And as the Coalition go further to the right over time, the Labour party also go right as well (sound familiar?) And Pauline Hanson? She never went away and has been a Senator since 2016.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    Good interview from Useful Idiots this week discussing the greatly overblown claims of Cambridge Analytica –

    I have said for years that these claims that Facebook and the like can target people with ads and boost sales or change opinions and better than traditional media could were bunk, and merely a sales pitch from FleeceBook to fool the non tech savvy. Halper and Taibbi talk with one of the people who helped develop this type of technology and who tried to make the point a few years ago that the media was buying into advertising hype but was roundly ignored. The relevant part starts at about 45:00 in.

    1. ahimsa

      Yes, a great interview!

      Their guest was a very entertaining and amiable former quant from GoldmanSachs who headed up (?) advertising at FB at one point. Loved how he debunked some of the tech-pysch-babble.

    1. jr

      I wish that thing would land on him. He was running an ad on Utoob for his “Master” class talk IIRC in which he generously offers to “teach you how to think.” I almost bit a hole in my phone.

      Optimally, the strike would take place at a conference where he, Jordan Peterson, Sean Carroll, Bill Nye, and the winged monkeys of Tech In-snider have all gathered to sneer at other people together.

  24. Dirk77

    Re: Chinese fishing in the migration routes of Galapagos sea life. Capitalists gaming a law. If history is any guide, they won’t stop until the area is barren or the zone is widened considerably. I would have expected a response from Greenpeace. Does that organization exist anymore?

  25. Grant

    I hope Biden beats Trump. Biden is horrible, will not change what needs to change, is utterly deluded about returning to what he calls “normal”. I fully expect the Democrats like him to learn all the wrong lessons from this election season, and it is going to cause a massive backlash. I mean, they logically can’t argue that anyone is voting FOR anything he proposing because he really doesn’t promise any platform and is the least policy-centric candidate I can remember. He offers nothing, seems proud of that fact. If he went into office with a clear agenda, a set of policies he was going to fight for, he could use that for the midterms in 2022. The other rotten party will try to make it so that little can be done, and when things get worse they will try to blame Biden. But, if Biden had a coherent program, policies that matched the scale of the crises we now have to face, he could point out what he would do if enough people were elected, and organizers would have a vision to organize around and towards. But, he won’t do that, and he supports changing next to nothing. If he changes anything, it will be because circumstances force him to. So, the right is going to do that, and what will his response be? They are getting in the way of putting in place more failed neoliberal policies. Thud. If he governs like his record would indicate, and governs as he is promising, he will be an utter disaster as president. And Trump is a disaster as president. What a political system, what an economic system!

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Or: we must vote for Biden because Orange Bad, and then once he’s in we can “really hold his feet to the fire”. I’ve rarely heard an argument that so completely misunderstands how power actually works.

      Yesterday AOC et al wrote a letter to Biden saying he immediately needed to remove all the corporate toadies, crims, professional war profiteers, and grifters from his team. But it was a sternly worded letter. Mm-hmm that’ll work.

      The system has hoicked up a slimeball candidate and program that proudly promises more bribery, censorship, and war. It’s your choice whether you want to reward them for that. But the time is now, while that Titanic is still at the dock. My view is that we should demand that the vessel go back to the drydock for heavier steel, a new skipper, and a different set of charts to make their course from. Or just don’t climb aboard.

  26. John Beech

    Matt Stoller’s an idiot for proclaiming Apple to be a monopoly. Is he angry Mercedes-Benz software doesn’t run on his Chevy, too? Duh!

  27. John Beech

    It’s my opinion Senator Graham has done well for the citizens of SC because he’s made nice with Donald Trump when it couldn’t have been personally-easy. In fact, I’m thinking it’s political malpractice for a politician to play ‘my way, or the highway’ games with POTUS (looking at you Mitt). My larger point being; I’ll bet a milkshake the adults in the room (regardless of skin color) well remember what it cost them to bury the longest serving US senator (Thurmond may have been racist as hell but he kept the pork flowing). Now their guy has again climbed the ladder of leadership and is delivering what they lost in power (the only currency in Washington) when Strom was eulogized by Biden. Me? I’m thinking they won’t throw that away for a candidate requiring out-of-state-money to be viable. Not when his ‘crime’ was making nice with an unpopular guy. Remember, these are good quality salt of the earth turn-the-other-cheek kind of Christian-people who found it in their hearts to forgive Mark Sanford!

    1. Lambert Strether

      > I’m thinking they won’t throw that away for a candidate requiring out-of-state-money to be viable.

      Not gonna happen in Kentucky, either. Maybe in Maine; I think Collins has passed her sell-by date.

  28. ArvidMartensen

    The sad demise of the union movement in Australia, started by the Hawke/Keating government, illustrates a fundamental truth.

    That the most successful robberies of the public purse and working peoples’ wages are carried out by political parties that sell themselves as representing the left.
    Like being robbed in broad daylight when all the witnesses say they saw nothing, the new “left” government laws that result in robberies of tax monies or wages by big business are denied by the government and ignored by the big media. And anyone trying to call out the robberies are derided as “conspiracy theorists” (such a useful term).

    So, the Hawke/Keating government sold out the union movement and wages in Australia creep backwards inexorably.
    And the Clinton Administration sold out ordinary US savers and home buyers by, amongst a lot of other things, changing the laws so that banks could once again trade in risky assets.
    And the Obama Administration sold out ordinary US savers and tax payers by recompensing the avaricious, crooked banks and their cohorts in the GFC, the products of the Clinton law changes. And Obama’s supporters who lost their homes were ignored by Obama and the MSM by and large. And did wages of the lowly paid rise under Obama? No, he kept a lid on it.

    Biden will also sell out the ordinary people who vote for him. Gaslighting and looting by “left leaning” and “centre” governments are long traditions of western “democracy”.

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