Links 10/5/17

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From Altandmain:

Just a head’s up for NC readers living in NY:

Democratic Primary deadline is Oct 13, 2017.

See the following:

To register:

You will need to get the relevant form from your County. So to be a registered party person, and vote in the Democratic Primary, it has to be done by Oct 13.

NY due no doubt in part to these rules has a low turnout, so any primary votes count for a lot.

*******

International Business Times

BBC

Lapham’s Quarterly. Brings to mind the Visconti film about Ludwig– see it if you ever get the chance on a proper movie screen.

SCMP

Guardian

The Wire. And high time, too. Better than the headline.

SCMP. Is this video for real? Readers?

Scroll.in

Treehugger

Aeon

 Hollywood Reporter

NYT

Class Warfare

International Business Times

Guardian. J T McPhee: “That’ll fix things.”

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Reveal News. ER: “pretty gruesome story from Oklahoma about prisoners promised rehab & sent to work in a chicken factory instead. ‘Work makes you free’”.

Imperial Collapse Watch

  Defense News. resilc: “we need junta aid concerts….”

Health Care

Are Technica. Chuck L: “I’m all for native Americans making money off us gringos, but . . .”

NYT (resilc)

Governing

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

AlterNet

SCMP

Kill Me Now

 Jacobin

China?

SCMP

Asia Times

North Korea

SCMP

 The Conversation. From last month, still germane.

ABC News (martha r)

Electronic Intifada. UserFriendly: “God this video makes me think of the Hitler youth.”

New Cold War

 Above the Law

International Business Times. And this comes as a surprise?

Moon of Alabama

Above the Law

Trump Transition

 TomDispatch. Noam Chomsky.

Roll Call

NBC

 The Daily Beast

Business Insider

 American Conservative

Truthdig. And largely due to Gorsuch being seated, one real result achieved by the Trump administration — as compared to the smoke and mirrors that constantly distract the MSM.

FiveThirtyEight

Arizona Republic

NYT

Weather Underground

Hurricane Alley

 Weather Underground

Fox

CNN

Puerto Rico

Independent

FT

Politico. That didn’t take long now, did it? As Yves predicted….

Catalonia

 Jurist

Politico. The deck: “In European Parliament debate, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans sides squarely with Madrid.”

Brexit

Guardian

NYT

 Guardian. Simon Jenkins. A contrary view on the disastrous speech.

EUReferendum.com

Equifax

Bloomberg

Reuters (martha r)

India

 The Wire

The Conversation

Antidote du jour (J-LS photo, September 2017):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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177 comments

  1. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the vote in New York, all NC readers who live in the state should make sure to vote NO in November on the proposed Constitutional Convention (“ConCon”), in order to protect the Adirondack and Catskill Mountain Forest Preserves, and to safeguard public employee pensions.

  2. Wukchumni

    So what happens when you combine a dash of the fall of the Roman Empire with a splash of the French Revolution, with the crash of the Holy Roman Empire, and speed it up a bunch?

    1. Altandmain

      You get a crumbling house of cards.

      That seems to be the direction that the US empire is taking.

      1. Wukchumni

        I find it interesting the parallels of the demise of the Soviet Union and us, this one in particular, as it really marked the end of their system, once they relinquished absolute control over their satellites.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

    2. Ned

      Kamala Harris, constantly praised for being something that she had no control over, except her divorce, with her political track record ignored.

      Didn’t the Romans elect a horse to the senate?

  3. cnchal

    Why Doesn’t Tillerson Quit?

    He doesn’t want to see jam and peanut butter smeared on the White House drapes.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I’m still trying to figure out why he even held that press conference…….

    2. Vatch

      Tillerson probably needs the money. I think he’s only the fourth richest cabinet member, after Ross, DeVos, and Mnuchin. Poor Rex only has about $300 million.

    3. RUKidding

      I read somewhere – I forget where & it’s probably just hearsay – that if Tillerson quits before one year is up, he’ll have a ginormous tax fee to pay.

      I could most definitely see this as a possible reason for him staying, but I have no clue if there is any accuracy to this statement.

      That, I think he’s trying to negotiate some oil deals that will mucho enure to his benefit. I mean, why else would he take this job with an effen moron, like Trump?? Don’t tell me that Tillerson didn’t know exactly who and what Trump is.

      Greed Trumps all, and it may be Tillerson’s downfall. I will LOL if effen moron Trump dump’s Rexxon on Friday arvo. Couldn’t happen to a better greedhead.

      Frankly with all of these rich types the Shorter A ALWAYS is: Money! Cha Ching.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Tax free govt service…
        5 C.F.R. section 2634 / certificate of divestiture…office of govt ethics…

        to resolve any potential conflicts of interest…cap gains goes side ways…

        some interpret it as a complete washout of cap gains…

        not quite sure it is that simple, but it is a major tax savings no matter which way you turn it…

        It is certainly why so many of our betters are eager to “$acrifice and give up all that private $ector looting”

        1. David Carl Grimes

          So what happens to the Mooch? He was fired after a week or two. Does he get to defer his taxes?

          1. todde

            The Mooch never qualified. The sale wasn’t finalized before he was fired.

            The public can get copies of CDs under the same rules that permit access to public
            financial disclosure reports. See 5 C.F.R. §§ 2634.1004 and 2634.603.

            Here is a link to a copy of one:

      2. todde

        Yes, if a person is forced to sell assets because of a conflict of interest issue he gets to deffer the tax on the gain.

        I don’t know about if he has a loss.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Was it a better or worse time when the elites of older empires used to prolong their time in the centers of power, or remove troublesome persons, by dagger or poison or garrote? And Richelieu… where are our Richelieus? And that old Prussian guy? Now we have multiple mixtures of Ronald McDonald and Rasputin… Who would have thought an oil magnate might be a good long-term bet if one wanted to eschew global thermonuclear war…?

  4. Wukchumni

    The Gift of the iMagi

    He sold his iPhone7 on Craigslist, and used the proceeds to buy her a virtual vacation, while she hocked her Apple Watch, so as to buy him a Netflix subscription.

  5. jefemt

    Is anyone else getting a Fake News banner right under the Antidote: Michael Douglas Dead at 73 from overdose?

    The irony of fake news appearing on the ‘beacon of light aggregator/ economic blog’ ? This internet thingy is getting a life and mind of its own…

      1. HotFlash

        Nah, it doesn’t work that way. GoogleAds control which ads are served, Yves has some control over whether, say, they open with audio and stuff, but not always over content — that’s determined by page content, often stupidly, as when I get ads for bankruptcy lawyers on a page abt Puerto Rico — but I digress.

        When I see stupid stuff like this, I often click on it (open in new tab) so Yves get some pennies and they lose some. As a not-well-heeled person, I figure it is a good way for me to contribute to this wonderful place.

  6. sleepy

    Sorry if this has been posted hereabouts already. If so, I haven’t seen it.

    Stephanie Kelton’s NYTimes op-ed on the deficit.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The risk of overspending is inflation, not bankruptcy.‘ — Stephanie Kelton

      A good start, to be sure. But it leaves three crucial points unaddressed.

      First is, the level of inflation at which the money printing must stop is never specified. Double digits? In practice, once inflation is entrenched, it just goes parabolic till it burns out.

      Second is that sovereign defaults can and do occur, even in nations that issue their own currencies. It’s not supposed to happen. It’s theoretically impossible. But the historical record says otherwise.

      Finally, the grim correlation between high debt and slow groaf is never explored. Planet Japan is farthest down this road, but the eurosclerotic Continent is following in Nippon’s feckless footsteps.

      I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little further on there are only flagstones, and a little further on still these break beneath your feet.” — Winston Churchill, Mar 24, 1938

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Another risk is losing a civil war.

        I remember a Henri Cartier-Bresson photo of a man in Shanghai with a wheelbarrow full of money, just before a new Chinese nation was declared in Beijing, atop Tiananmen by Mao (no voting was involved or necessary).

        However much gold the ROC was able to get people to give in exchange for that soon-to-be-hyperinflated money was taken to Taiwan.

        When a government becomes ‘former,’ it is like a bankruptcy for the holders of its money (For example, I don’t know how much you can get, today, for a banknote with, say, Idi Amin’s face on it).

        Anyone interested in seeing old Asia, as it existed then, in Japan, China, Burma, etc, Cartier-Bresson is a good source.

        1. Wukchumni

          When the majority of South America was experiencing hyperinflation in the 80’s and 90’s, they went to Plan C, which was simply renaming their various currencies, anything to stop the financial pain!

          Argentina Pesos became Astrals

          Bolivia Pesos became Bolivianos

          Brazil Cruzeiros became Reales

          Peru Sols became Intis
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          They remained basketcases in spite of the attempt…

      2. Lee

        Jim Haygood
        October 5, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Are there any data, hypothetical or otherwise, as to what amount of generally available fiat currency, in relation to available goods and services I’m assuming, is destructively inflationary?

      3. larry

        Jim, you are comparing apples and oranges. A government operating with a fiat currency system can never default unless it decides to for whatever reason. Historically, financial regimes utilized what can be called commodity currency systems, such as a system tied to gold. A government collapse can also lead to a currency default. but that is not what is going on in the West. You are also mistaken about hyperinflation, which is what you are elliptically referring to. Hyperinflations occur due to special circumstances, like a resource supply collapse, which is not on the present horizon here. If a government running a fiat currency system is functioning properly, hyperinflation is not going to happen. There is no need to specify the level of inflation, as that depends on the specific circumstances and never determines the degree of fiscal spending a government should engage in. What determines the degree of spending is how much the system can absorb, which depends on the resources available to the government, human and material, and the level of (un)employment. During WW2 in the US, the level of unemployment was around 2%. The debt to GDP ratio is also irrelevant, which I realize you did not mention but others do.

        As for Churchill, he insisted in the late ’20s, against Keynes’ advice, that the UK return to the gold standard, which resulted in a recession. i don’t think his grasp of macroeconomics was that deep.

        1. RabidGandhi

          A government operating with a fiat currency system can never default unless it decides to for whatever reason.

          This is incorrect. JohnnyGL is a bit more succinct below when he says

          Defaulting on fiat currency is always and everywhere a political decision.

          And even this needs tweeking, as it should say “defaulting on one’s own fiat currency is a political decision”. The difference being that a currency issuer, for example Russia can indeed default (as it did in 1998) on obligations that it has (foolishly) undertaken in other currencies that it does not issue. On the other hand, there is never a need for Russia to default on rouble-denominated debts, but on dollar denominated debts many sovereign currency issuers have indeed defaulted.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I accept your tweak :) But I want to keep my Milton Friedman paraphrase!

            “A currency issuer defaulting on its own fiat currency is always and everywhere a political decison”

            How’s that? :)

          2. Micky9finger

            Further; a soveriegn nation can always pay debt denominated in its own currency.
            To default on this debt is a political decision. Like when congress decides not to pay.

          3. larry

            That is part of what I said in other words. External forces can force such a decision, but such circumstances are extremely rare.

        2. Wukchumni

          “When Money Dies” is the classic hyperinflation reference from the Weimar era, makes for interesting reading…

          One part I enjoyed, was Ernest Hemmingway & a coterie of chums valiantly trying to spend one dollar Americano in the Fatherland in 1923, and try as hard as they might, still ended up with billions of marks left over @ the end of the day.

      4. JohnnyGL

        Great to see Ms. Kelton get some op-ed space in NYT.

        As for Comrade Haygood, responding to your questions….

        1st, there’s no evidence that inflation necessarily s on itself and goes parabolic. In fact, without wages spiraling along with prices, demand crashes, inducing recession, and with a lag, prices follow. NAIRU as a concept has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. And frankly, worrying about disruptive wage-price spirals when inflation has spent a decade anchored below 2% annually sounds like a severely anorexic person slowly starving themselves to death because they are so terrified of getting fat!

        2nd. Defaulting on fiat currency is always and everywhere a political decision.

        Finally, this last point is beyond the scope of Kelton’s editorial and only would have hurt it’s focus. The arguments around the correlation between low growth/high debt are primarily about which acts as the horse and which acts as a carriage. You can yell at Italy’s hefty debt load, and say, “It’s gobbling up the resources of Italian society!!!” But, I suspect Kelton would say “remember double entry accounting” and make the point about how Italy’s private sector has a large stock of savings. The two are very much connected, in this view. I think her view is a sensible one.

        1. Wukchumni

          Anybody here ever been in a country in the throes of hyperinflation?

          It’s a lot of work for both consumer and retailer, in that for the latter, you’re constantly changing the prices on everything to keep up with your currency eroding in value, while the poor citizen realizes that it’s better to spend your money asap than anything else.

          I watched it play out in Mexico in the 80’s, it was fascinating to glimpse as a financial voyeur~

          1. John k

            Hyper inflation always and ever begins with shortages of real goods, the gov then prints increasing amounts to enable the rationing of goods in short supply to favored groups such as military and police.

            The Mexican situation was, as I remember, a problem of a crashing peso, which boosted price of imported goods. Again, gov printed to ration the imported goods to their favorites.

            High us inflation in the 70’s came from oil price increase up 15x and embargo, had nothing to do with gov printing… but OPEC had noticed us oil production had peaked. By the time Volcker jacked rates to record amounts the high oil price had pretty much worked its way through the economy.

            So long as there is no shortage of goods or labor, money printing will not cause significant inflation… crashing participation rate shows there is large sur of labor, so printing has the opportunity to put people to work on infra, boosting spending and economy, or tax reduction for rich, not boosting either…
            though in a recession, deficit spending, which automatically increases because tax receipts decline while stabilizer spending such as unemployment compensation increases, does reduce disinflation.

      5. todde

        “once inflation is entrenched, it just goes parabolic till it burns out.”

        I tend to agree with this statement, especially if your currency is the global reserve currency.

        Volker had a hard long battle with inflation because he was trying to fight it through interest rate hikes. The more he raised interest rates, the more ‘offshore’ dollars came back into the consumer market.

        YMMV

      6. diptherio

        I’m surprised the mods haven’t flagged your MMT comments yet, Jim, given that they appear to violate comment policy

        Typical violations:

        1) Broken record: Repeating the same point over and over again, especially when it’s long been refuted. That includes taking an argument that was rebutted on one post and repeating the same argument on another post.

        You surely know that Kelton has never argued that sovereign default is impossible, but rather that sovereign default (on debt issued in a currency the sovereign creates) is a decision based on political, not fiscal, considerations. Nice straw-manning, there. And you surely know that the MMT analysis of Japan is that they’ve only used the monetary channel to attempt to funnel more money into the economy, and have ignored the fiscal channel — just like in the US. Hence their stagnating economy and ours, where housing, healthcare and education all get more expensive, but wage inflation is entirely absent.

        So on the one hand you seek to stoke fears about hyper-inflation and imply that MMT policies must surely lead to it, but then you point to Japan as an example of the failings of these policies…only one of Japan’s problem has long been the absence of inflation. You then bring in the Euro countries, even though none of them create the currency their debt is denominated in, and so are totally irrelevant to this discussion. I’m surprised you didn’t point out that US state’s are having problems with their debt levels and claim that proves something about the Federal debt…

        You know as well as anybody that MMT simply points out the obvious – that the amount of US dollars available to the US gov’t is unrestricted by any need to finance that spending, whether through taxes or through debt issuance. See the Fed’s bailout of the banks for evidence of this fact. There are good reasons why a gov’t might want to tax and issue debt, but funding spending is not one of them, as Kelton points out in her op-ed.

        You’re often insightful and/or humorous, but your broken record straw-manning on everything MMT-related is really grating after awhile.

        1. skippy

          Seconded….

          Jim Haygood, for all his positive contributions, to this blog, has always been a bad case of a thousand attaboys are wiped out by one core awwshit.

          Its – ideological in nature – and not based on system architecture or its potential e.g. everything is the Feds fault ™ when at the day its Congress that has the legal responsibility of allocating distribution – as they make the bloody laws.

          You can’t have one dominate economic view [dogma – rehash of an older camps agenda] since the mid 70s w/ endless ideological puritanism ratchet effect [right wing market makes everything better] and then lay all the blame at the Feds or Sovereign Fiat fault. When you have a human agency problem, blaming stuff, is a sure fired way to fall endlessly into a wonky narrative, that in its self is not such a problem, its the dragging everyone else and thing on this orb with it out of stubbornness [devotion] or pathological tenancies [mental anchor points wrt reality inelasticity].

          disheveled…. at the end of the day if the numbers are not reflective of reality, then what good is the price [gravitas] attributed to them e.g. the anorexic analogy above thingy….

        2. todde

          Well, in his defense, the solution from MMT for inflation is to raise taxes. I think that is a political tough sell – a tax increase when your cost of living is going up…

          Although Reagan made it happen with the fica tax increase… it came after inflation was tampered, but I have always believed that it was done to curtail inflation, not ‘save’ social security.

          1. JTMcPhee

            “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me — tax the fella behind that tree.” What was the marginal tax rate again, on the Elite not so long ago, who currently loot the rest of us and the planet? 90 something percent? What is one of the policy goals of taxation? Something about keeping enormous wealth and its distortions and diseases from developing? Like those hated taxes on enormous cancerous “estates?” And do taxes have some role in the circulation of money?

            But cue the excuses and justifications for why the selfish and arrogant “deserve” the wealth that often comes to them, out of the goods of the planet and the labor of us mopes, by pure luck or looting or some quirky skills in the FIRE line?

            1. skippy

              Want to really liven up the party[????], start talking about taxes being a fundamental cornerstone to democracy e.g. being anti tax is a gate way drug to being anti democratic.

              Then again the wafer thin slice suggestion, too most of the unwashed, that – tax is theft – wellie… once disbelief is suspended and inquiring minds reduced to monkey goo… the narrative spinning good times have just begun…. enter the Econnomists…

              disheveled…. best bit is then some polie can just jawbone and then say the Econnomist – said so – all responsibility is absolved… now through out history where have I heard that before… oh yeah… silly me…

        3. TroyMcClure

          Well said. The studious lack of enforcement of the “broken record” rule in the case of Mr. Haygood has not gone unnoticed.

    2. rd

      Deficits are only important and undesirable if the money is being spent on poor and middle-class people who are likely to spend the money frivolously on food, housing, transportation, and energy.

      Deficits are desirable and stimulative to the economy if the deficits fund tax cuts to the wealthy who are likely to save the money or spend it productively on art..

        1. skippy

          I personally think they should be reduced to single hull and 40-ish ft, w/ strong design limits, let the sailors race thingy.

          One of the few things I miss, Wed – Thurs beer can and Sunday regattas with one design sail craft.

          Disheveled… until a spurious protest flag is used, yacht club politics is a morass….

      1. John k

        You missed the best bit… deficits are fine when we’re spending on bombs, wars, deep state watching us all, equipping local police to put down demonstrations, and reducing tax on the rich.
        Broad bipartisan support for all this.

  7. Marco

    Slave labor as “Rehab” in a chicken plant. Only in America. To be expected in a red state but I’m curious if there are similar “prison-or-work” schemes in our liberal bastions? The article also raises the issue that reducing mass-incarceration (a good thing) can also be replaced with something equally repugnant.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      This isn’t quite the same, but similar – in this case, private prison (The GEO Group, Inc.) in Tacoma housing immigrant detainees from the fedcoats (ICE, presumably in the main) and paying peanuts (sometimes, literally) for work….pretty much all non-security-related work done by the ‘detainees’ who get the singularly beneficent rate of $1/day, or snacks, for their labors:

      Arbeit, indeed, macht frei…hier in amerika…*something something* huddled masses *something* *something* …yearning for a bag of planters peanuts after a hard day’s work. It only took a little more then a decade for the state AG to file the suit so, I dunno….yay WA AG Bob Ferguson?

    2. Katt

      I read (only) this piece. The idea of rehabilitation through work is a good one.

      If it is a voluntary alternative to prison, workers get some decent level of compensation, standard health and safety and medical care as a worker / prisoner then working 40 hours per week would not be a slave camp. It will probably be a benefit for most: Work experience instead of an overcrowded violent prison.

      The problem here is the carrying through of the programme: No oversight and certification of the different programmes, profit is maximised and goes fully to the programme owners, over-reliance on prison workers, instead of a healthy mix (75% employees, 25% rehabs?). This is of course a terrible story and I cannot believe the justice system does not put a stop to this through setting minimum standards and shutting down offending programmes.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which ended chattel slavery officially, includes an exemption for anyone convicted of a crime. It took little time for chain gangs, hired out to do the work there were no more Black slaves to use for, became Southern institutions. It took a little longer for the concept to move north, but the private prison industry’s use of detainees and prisoners for what amounts to slave labor is now standard operating procedure pretty much everywhere.

        What passes for “rehabilitation” in the US does not bear close scrutiny.

    3. Kevin

      Not surprising I guess.

      When you consider the average U.S. citizen walking around FREE has gotten royally screwed over the last 20 years, what chance does some poor bloke in prison have?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The modern slavery (controlled with debt, surveillance, etc) is more subtle, and thus more powerful and resilient.

      How does one come up with an emancipation in 2017?

      Universal More-Than-Basic Income?

      More than basic, for this reason: why should only billionaires enjoy life like that?

      (In addition to ‘men are all created equal,’ we remind ourselves that ‘nature is for all to share, treasure and care’ in this new proclamation.)

    5. Enquiring Mind

      If the repetitive stress injuries don’t dissuade those prisoners from a life of crime, then perhaps breathing the foul poultry air will get them coughing and wheezing enough to slow down. Now, how to screw them out of any health care for those inflictions, or maybe just withhold wages as needed?

      1. JTMcPhee

        The Royal Navy used to make the vastly oppressed sailors pay for the mercury-based mixtures used to treat the venereal diseases they picked up in the expansion of the Empire.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Trouble on the African front, comrades:

    Three United States Army Special Forces were killed and two were wounded on Wednesday in an ambush in Niger while on a training mission with troops from that nation in northwestern Africa, American military officials said.

    All five American soldiers were Green Berets, said two United States military officials. The attack took place 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger, near the border with Mali.

    The deaths represent the first American casualties under hostile fire in a mission in which United States Special Forces have provided training and security assistance to the Nigerien armed forces.

    “The sorrows of empire,” as ol’ Chalmers Johnson used to say. Who even knew “we” were in Niger, or what the hell we’re doing there? Your Kongress Klown sure don’t.

    Expect these stories to appear near-daily, as the far frontiers of global empire degrade into a blood-soaked farce under the square-headed know-nothing “leadership” of Mad Dog Mattis.

    Victory in Vietghanistan!

    1. allan

      “what the hell we’re doing there?”

      Kinetic R2P in Libya -> failed state -> safe haven for IS -> counterinsurgency in Libya -> IS spreads across MENA.

      Mission accomplished.

      InVinoVerritas authentication code: 123456

    2. a different chris

      >Expect these stories to appear near-daily

      For a while. Then everybody will lose interest, the media will focus back on the Kardashians/football, and we will again wonder why the world doesn’t love us.

      Or worse, start again believing the world loves us except for a few swarthy, Pure Evil people in the Middle East.

    3. Craig H.

      > Your Kongress Klown sure don’t.

      Hah! My Kongress Klown is on the House Intelligence Committee and the last time I heard him on a call-in radio interview show and a caller asked him a scorcher of a question about the CIA he had a perfectly cromulent two minute soundbite about how professional, smart, and patriotic every single CIA Klown was that he personally was in constant close cooperation with!

      All of them. All the time. Then they went to the next caller question with a snap of the fingers.

        1. flora

          Making me wonder: Do the super rich control Congress for their own ends, or does the intelligence community control Congress for its own ends?

          1. todde

            super rich probably control both.

            I worked in the defense industry, and the rumor was the CIA was using our black budget to fund operations.

        2. Enquiring Mind

          “The NSA has the goods on all of Congress”

          If it were only the NSA, sigh.

          Nothing is as it seems in DC, or London, or Paris, or…

    4. JohnnyGL

      I like your “Vietghanistan” invention. :)

      On the side….even Mad Dog himself has come out and said the Iran deal should stay. The USG often needs time to figure out if/when it has been boxed in. The geopolitical forces around the Iran deal are still very much in place and the Trump administration’s isolation on the issue is clear. This is a welcome development that Trump’s team is making peace with reality (at least in this instance, and at the current moment).

    5. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Jim and Craig.

      With regard to Know Nothing Kongress Klowns, perhaps that memo could be recycled for them from the early noughties: “We have to fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here. They hate us because of our freedom.”

      Quite how a basket case, with a big thank you to France for that, can fight the US is beyond me. Perhaps, Saudi Arabia can assist, like it did for 9/11.

      A bon entendeur, as they say in Niger.

  9. bronco

    Can we really use 500 million straws in one day? I don’t eat fast food very often , I’m assuming thats where they are used most at least for take out.

    That sounds crazy , but par for the course , there is just so much unneeded plastic being churned out and thrown away.

      1. bronco

        I guess I meant passes from our consciousness. Every item from a store is triple wrapped and it all gets tossed . 70 years ago people would be flattening out tinfoil to reuse , I’m sure they would do the same with plastic .

        My grandfather who was born in 1912 would cut the waistbands from his underwear when it was too worn and use them to tie tomato plants up in his garden.

        Transport someone ahead in time from the 1800’s and they would view the stuff we discard as treasure to be hoarded. Maybe we shouldn’t bury our trash too deep , our descendants might need to mine it just to scrape by

        1. polecat

          In our household, we wash, and re-wash … and then re-wash again ziplock baggies (raw meats excepting). The use once-n-throw-out idea doesn’t pass muster here, and we try hard to reuse/recycle wherever possible. Having said that, yes, the problem is not just straws, it’s virtually ALL throwaway plastics !

          Eddie Berney’$ and his Madi$on Avenue acolytes are truly the devil’s concubines !!

          1. Wukchumni

            In terms of recyclable glass & plastic, ever since China came up with Operation Green Fence in 2013, they’ve been really picky on what they allow in, and the whole idea only worked previously if you had empty cargo ships going back to the middle kingdom, so as to get a free ride.

            Recycling places all over the country are shutting down, as the business model no longer makes sense. Almost all of it was going to China.

  10. Lee

    Drug company hands patents off to Native American tribe to avoid challenge Are Technica. Chuck L: “I’m all for native Americans making money off us gringos, but . . .”

    “Gringo” is a term typically used by New World Spanish speakers to refer to white anglos. Not so much by Native Americans as such. When I searched “native american terms for whites” all the links that came up, save one, had to do with slurs against Native Americans typically used by whites. One might infer from this that only white people have racist inclinations. The more worldly of course know otherwise.

    Wikipedia lists racial slurs by ethnicity of those described and what group typically uses them. “Gringo”, which can be or not be used as a slur, is not on the the list of pejoratives to describe whites used by Native Americans. Among Native Americans I know I’m sometimes referred to as the “white guy” but only as a neutral descriptor or a friendly jibe.

    And this brings me to the question of why at 5am am I geeking out on this. Perhaps it has something to do with my strong belief that the notion of “race” is a biological fiction and at the same time such a powerful, so often tragically destructive social construct.

    Now, on to the article itself.

      1. Lee

        I forgot that one. I definitely qualify. The only people paler than me on the Fitzpatrick scale are freckled gingers and albinos.

  11. Terry Flynn

    re Economics recognising other social sciences.

    All very welcome and important but just as important is what is not mentioned – the insights available into basic theory as to why people make choices and how to turn ordinal data (he chose this over that) into quantitative utility estimates. McFadden won the 2000 “nobel” for this and by drawing upon/replicating long known theories from mathematical psychology.

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    “If archaeologists were to find the tomb of St. Nicholas, it would not be the first time in recent months that experts have dug into ruins with a Biblical connection.” from the Santa Claus tomb article

    I just find this line in regards to Santa Claus to be amusing.

    1. Juliania

      As a person who does believe in Santa Claus aka Saint Nicholas, I thank NC for providing the link to this interesting story.

      Proceeding thither to the original Guardian article, however, I was a bit saddened by the parent article’s opening statement:

      “Turkish archeologists have dashed the hopes of millions of children…”

      Seems to me the meaning of Santa is enhanced, not diminished, by the discovery that he is and was a real person, a good man who lived long ago in Myrna and lives on for many at Christmastime.

      I know, it’s all in fun – guess the plight of so many Christian communities in the ME makes me overly sensitive.

  13. Livius Drusus

    Re: “They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants,” that was an excellent article. It really makes my blood boil that “Christian” groups like CAAIR exist. Why is American Christianity so messed up? Do these people even read the Gospel? Maybe it is because American Christians seem to like the meaner, more violent Old Testament more than the New Testament.

    There also seems to be an unusually cruel element to Southern culture that produces these vicious penal programs in Southern states. I am often shocked by these stories because in my experience individual Southerners are very friendly and easygoing (more so than Northerners) yet their states seem to produce such awful policies especially when it comes to penal and labor issues.

    It is also important to note that meatpacking used to be a decent, middle-class job back when it was heavily unionized. Philip Cafaro argues that average meatpacking wages have fallen 44% since 1970 due to union busting and the use of easily-exploitable immigrant labor.

    See:

    I guess prisoners are the new class of easily- exploitable labor for the meat barons. Perhaps this will become more popular as Trump deports more people and companies look for a new source of cheap, exploitable labor.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Many good points, however, I wouldn’t call OK “southern”. I say that as a native Arkansan who has visited family in OK since the ’70’s, who now lives an hour from the OK border, knows the OK activist peeps (Dems) who got Sanders nominated in the OK Dem primary last year.

      OK is more like TX than the south, an divisive distinction btw which is dwindling rapidly in meaning culturally speaking. But you rarely see folk wearing cowboy boots in OK anymore.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        But you rarely see folk wearing cowboy boots in OK anymore.

        That’s because they’ve graduated to hipwaders…

  14. Jim Haygood

    If he were still around, the late Paul Macrae Montgomery, inventor of the Time magazine cover contrary indicator, would instantly spot the significance of this egregious Eclownomist cover — “The bull market in everything” [hat tip Kevin Muir]:

    Since the ink-stained wretches that scribble the Eclownomist are always wrong at extremes, this is about the worst thing that could happen to Bubble III other than the good Dr Hussman going leveraged long.

    This morning the slow-motion meltup continues, with the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq at record highs, as is their wont. But the next few weeks may get bumpier. :-0

    1. Terry Flynn

      just as an aside I remember my interview for a Cambridge uni undergrad course in 1990. In answer to the question “what media do you read to broaden your general knowledge of wider economic issues?” I replied “the economist” and was rightly taken down a peg or two. “Should be reading editorials by x, y and z in the FT” was the College Fellow’s response. Thankfully my mistake didn’t disqualify me for consideration but I learned early on about the Eclownomist and quit reading.

      1. barefoot charley

        TINA took over editorship in the mid-80s, relentlessly stupidifying ever since. “I’m so old” I remember the Economist when it published reports from intelligent observers all over the world without regard to ideology. Boy am I old!

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Charley.

          I was a school boy then and remember the transition well. I used to get a copy from my godfather.

        2. Terry Flynn

          LOL yeah I unfortunately got indoctrinated young…. took me years to unlearn stuff…. and ironically several supervisors I had knew the ridiculousness of TINA (and one predicted “fat tails” weakness of Black-Scholes and it would blow up the system in advance)…. it was a shame various old-school people like him were sidelined from early on in the quest for funding and acceptance.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Terry.

        The interviewer was right, especially if John Kay was one of the recommendations.

        Apart from Philip Coggan, the other hacks at the Agnelli rag are shills, beginning with the upper crust editor.

        A friend and journalist interned there at the turn of the century. He thought it was it was a weird and vacuous place, full of neo con and liberal platitudes.

        Have a look at today’s Standard column by Anthony Hilton.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Thanks Col S. Yes IIRC John Kay was one…. don’t remember the other two… I don’t know if Martin Wolf was around back then but these days he oscillates between good pieces that are almost MMT in tone and TINA rubbish.

          Ta for the recommendation too.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Terry.

            I agree with you about Wolf. I wonder if he has to spout TINA garbage so as to get a slot on the execrable Zakaria show on CNN.

            I will have a Brexit update next week.

            1. Terry Flynn

              Apologies in advance if I “stay out” of that debate… can’t really say on here why.

          2. Colonel Smithers

            May be John Plender was one of the others. He had a lunchtime slot on Channel 4 with Susannah Simons and Damian Green in the mid-1980s.

              1. Terry Flynn

                Thanks for suggestion, I can’t remember if he was mentioned –
                but (at least in recent years) he seems to be another person who flip flops between rational pieces and ones that make you go “wtf?”

    2. Jim Haygood

      Two of the three components of our weekly Yardeni fundamental indicator were updated this morning.

      Bloomberg consumer comfort fell from 51.6 to 49.9. But the 4-week average of initial unemployment claims, which was mainly responsible for the indicator’s recent dip, mended a bit. The 4-week average receded from 277,750 to 268,250. Claims were only 236,750 at the end of August, the last pre-Hurricane Harvey data.

      Net result, the weekly indicator has halted its decline and leveled off, gaining a tick from last week. Chart:

  15. The Rev Kev

    Re: Everyday Israelis express support for genocide
    This story is more worrisome than it seems. From the Reagan era there was the meme of the mad mullahs from Iran but we may find that a future generation will have to contend with mad rabbis from Israel. The truth is that Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox are having far more children than their secular brethren. As they do not normally integrate in national life like joining the army, working, etc. this has put an enormous strain on the Israel state.
    There are plenty of Israelis who are worried about what is happening () but if the Ultra-Orthodox succeed in imposing their own beliefs on Israeli life, then for example Israeli women would have as much freedom as Saudi Arabian women do at the moment, non-religious Jews may be expelled, religious police would patrol the streets of Israel, etc. There are plenty of stories on the net about what these extremist rabbis are like. Tolerance is not an ideal that you would accuse them of.
    What is really worrisome is that these people would have control of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and they have already made it clear that gentile life has no value (even babies) compared to ultra-orthodox Jewish life. Add to this mixture a belief in a Greater Israel () a rapidly expanding population topped of with climate change for the region and you have trouble on a stick. Perhaps that is why so many Israelis are emigrating out of the country. Personally I could not care less what a person’s religion is (boring!) but I take issue with any religious extremist whether it be ISIS or some other mob.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …and when all that’s left is the Mad Rabbis, led by someone no doubt worse than Netanyahoo, who is going to have the codes and control over something between 200 and 600 nuclear weapons that the Israel-ites have managed to create for themselves? That’s more than enough to accomplish a “nuclear winter” to decimate the planet. Some of which are the warheads of submarine-launched cruise missiles with 1,000 kilometer- range? Sitting in the torpedo spaces of “U-boats,” yes, sexy, very quiet, new German-built submarines (paid for by Uncle Sucker — that’s US), cruising around, complicating the already Byzantine “doctrines” and War Plans of the US and subsidiary militaries?

      The Israel-ites have shown their willingness to attack US surface ships and spy on the US deeply and arrogantly and aggressively, to buy or terrorize our organs of power like a supine Congress, and there’s allegedly already that “Samson option,” if the current (and future) men (yes, men) who control, and will likely control in an Ultra future, the Blob-like thing that is the amoebic State of Israel with their apocalyptic beliefs feel that they are losing to the Goyim and Muslims… This, from a “people” that once upon a time claimed to follow an overarching doctrine called “purity of arms…” Which doctrine the rabbis have interpreted to maybe not mean what one might think…

      I think I have seen how this works out — I believe the plot of the second installment of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise comprised the end game:

      Brent and Nova are captured and telepathically interrogated, and Brent reveals the apes are marching on the Forbidden Zone. The telepaths attempt to repel the apes by projecting illusions of fire and other horrors, as they had done to Taylor and Nova. Dr. Zaius sees through the illusions, however, and leads the ape army to the ruined city. With the apes closing in, the telepaths plan to detonate their “Divine Bomb” as a last resort. They hold a religious ceremony, at the height of which they remove their masks to reveal that they are in fact still-intelligent humans who are descended from survivors of the nuclear wars. The nuclear fallout has mutated them by removing layers of their skin, but greatly increased their psychic abilities.

      Brent is separated from Nova and taken to a cell, where he finds Taylor. The mutant Ongaro (Don Pedro Colley) uses his telepathic powers to force Brent and Taylor to fight each other to the death. Nova escapes her guard and runs to the cell, screaming her first word: “Taylor!” This breaks Ongaro’s concentration, freeing Brent and Taylor from his control. They then overpower and kill him. Brent describes the bomb the mutants worship and Taylor recognizes it as a “doomsday bomb”, capable of destroying the planet, marked with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on its casing.

      The apes invade the subterranean city, making their way to the cathedral. One of the apes manages to kill Nova before being killed by Taylor and Brent. They are confronted by Méndez (Paul Richards), who raises the bomb into activation position before being gunned down. Brent and Taylor attempt to stop Ursus from accidentally setting off the weapon, but Taylor is shot. Brent manages to kill Ursus before being shot dead by the gorillas. The mortally wounded Taylor pleads with Dr. Zaius for help, but Zaius refuses, saying that man is only capable of destruction. In his last moment Taylor brings his hand down on the activation switch, triggering the bomb. The scene whites out and voiceover narration states: “In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead”.

      Naw — nevah hoppen heah… I would vote for a “Soylent Green” outcome being more likely?

    2. Alex

      The demography is not that clear cut. First, there’s immigration from elsewhere and no one can predict how many people from Russia, Ukraine, Argentina , France and US are going to come (and obviously no one can predict how many will leave). Second, the ultra-orthodox, have limited economic power and don’t have access to the coercive part of the state (think army and police) which would make it hard for them to impose their will on everyone else.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agree to disagree? The ultra-orthodox total fertility rate is about 6.9 which is nearly double that of the rest of the population so that by 2059 one third of Israel’s population will be ultra-orthodox. Immigration from elsewhere from elsewhere long, long ago tapped itself out so that Israel found itself bringing in people that had only a vague connection to Judaism.
        Although as you have pointed out, ultra-orthodox numbers are not strong for the police and army (which is changing), they have inordinate control of the actual government and force their beliefs in civil life (). I think that for the ultra-orthodox, they have the same belief as Erdogan. That democracy is like a train and when you get to where you want to go, you get off.

    3. Alex

      Btw the piece itself is propaganda. It’s easy to find a few dozen people who want to kick someone’s ass ( or carpet bomb/nuke), whether you’re in Jerusalem, or in Hebron, or in Moscow, or in the US. And in this case no attempt is made to gauge the attitude of the Palestinians

      1. RabidGandhi

        I haven’t done the actual survey, but in my little corner of the planet it would take an overwhelming amount of work to find anyone who wants to carpet bomb anywhere (except for perhaps the rival football pitch). Furthermore, I don’t think my country is an outlier in this regard.

        1. Alex

          You are lucky to live in such a place! No disputes with neighbours, no right-wingers wanting to rid the country of immigrants, no separatism? I think this is more of an exception than rule, both geographically and historically

    4. tony

      I recall having a debate about this, with me arguing that social conservatives inevitably winning due to demographics. The opposing position was that while social liberals are unable to reproduce biologically in sufficient numbers to compete or even maintain their number, they can convert the social conservatives’ kids.

      Isreal’s future might also be our’s.

  16. rd

    Re: Italian Job II Rolls Royce in sinkhole

    This are of China is very well known for karst limestone and marble conditions. Sinkholes are common. Pumping groundwater out of the ground will accelerate karst formation, but it is a natural process.

    Sinkholes can also occur in roads (common in the US) due to sewer line breaks that allow soil to get washed into them. All these processes can work together synergistically, so you can have subsidence occurring in the ground due to karst process that then breaks sewers and water lines that then wash soil into the sewers as well as flowing more water into the karst features further dissolving the limestone.

  17. Dale

    Colin Mackenzie sounds as if he could have been Kipling’s source for Colonel Creighton (Sahib) in Kim, the novel told around the life of an English boy, an outcast in colonial India trained and employed as a spy for the Crown. From the novel:
    “It was not an amusing trip from Kim’s point of view, because–in defiance of the contract–the Colonel ordered him to make a map of that wild, walled city; and since Mohammedan horse-boys and pipe-tenders are not expected to drag Survey-chains round the capital of an independent native state, Kim was forced to pace all his distances by means of a bead rosary.”

    1. Vatch

      , by Derek Waller, is about a period a couple of generations later than Colin Mackenzie. According to the book, some of the South Asian natives who surreptitiously mapped Tibet for Britain would also use rosaries to count their distances.

  18. Wukchumni

    Gooooood Moooooorning Fiatnam!

    We were on a LRP (Long Range Payout) in search of the VC (Venture Capitalists) who were known to hang out under the canopy of the green felt jungle not far from the Ho Chi Dimon trail, where the VC were constantly resupplied by heir drop. This of course was before the internet, which meant a Huey had to hover overhead and bundles away. (you hope and pray that the crewman responsible for dumping said largess out of the window at least has the decency to have taken off the paper band on each bundle so nobody gets hurt upon impact down below on the ground)

    Operation Loanbacker is what the mission was called.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Fiatnam … mwa ha ha ha.

      Print more money and prices … go up. Such as the good Dr Copper, who’s surged 3 percent this morning to back over 3 fiat dollahs a pound. Chart:

      Copper is good collateral for pyramiding loans in China.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    India’s ambitious new plan to conquer TB needs cash and commitment The Conversation

    How do you do that in a cashless country? (Don’t know if this is a trick question or not)

    1. Wukchumni

      India is largely a cash country from what I understand. And I don’t know how dirty the money (Mexican Pesos in the 80’s were always filthy-for some reason) gets there, but it might be a carrier of TB, itself.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hurricane deployments stretch US military thin CNN

    The Romans would have recalled their legions from, say, Britannia.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rise of the yimbys: the angry millennials with a radical housing solution Guardian. J T McPhee: “That’ll fix things.”

    Yes, In my back yard, so we can all turn Japanese (living in crowded Tokyo) or Chinese in Chongqing, Wuhan, etc.

    It used to be the others copy us; now we copy others.

    Or maybe rich landowners are behind this higher-living-density movement.

    1. Louis

      If building more housing is out, what is your solution to the affordability problem plaguing not just San Francisco but increasingly a lot of other cities as well: e.g. Seattle, Denver, etc?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        How about taxing the crap out of speculators, regulating all the illegal hotels (aka AirBnB) and raising Fed rates ?

        My town has been building like crazy for years and yet prices continue to increase. More housing has not solved the problem, as I finally got our boneheaded city planning director to publicly admit. Much of the housing being built is in the form of old homes converted to expensive condos being bought as investments and not to live in. Those people buying up million dollar second homes should be heavily taxed.

        Looking simply for moar development is not the answer, at least not if you expect private developers to do it. You simply cannot expect a for-profit private company to serve the public good. That’s not why people go into business. “Affordable” units built into larger housing projects simply means crappier apartments.

        You want affordable housing, then government or a dedicated non-profit needs to build or acquire it and maintain it.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Vermont had a problem with NY and other speculator/developers doing the sucker punch of talking town governments into re-zoning farm land to “highest and best use” multiple occupancy or slurb “neighborhoods,” “Think of what you can do with the tax revenues!” I was working for Vermont Legal Aid at the time, lots of knock-on damages from that activity. Farmers could not pay the higher property taxes, so were forced to sell their “underdeveloped” land to the looters. And as renters, became subject to rentier.

          The legislature actually did something about it — as I recall, it was called “Act 250,” and what it did was restrict the re-zoning rush in several ways — one of which was to impose an enormous tax on “redevelopment” of farmland — I recall it was 95% of any profit from the purchase and buildup on it.

          That resulted in the Vermont College of the Law, when a developer lost a court case I believe, challenging the law on “taking” grounds (as if looting is not “taking”). So since there were several buildings on the property, farmhouse and barns and outbuildings, he opened an unaccredited “law school” of which the library was the case books of a retired lawyer and judge, and the outbuildings the classrooms.

          By admitting wealthy brats who could not get into accredited schools, he built a constituency of angry wealthy parents that eventually arm-twisted the accrediting agency into giving him the certificate. I recall he pocketed a large percentage of the tuition, which was another hurdle to accreditation — my own law school’ accreditation was in jeopardy for a while, for diverting more than 50% of every tuition dollar to support the medical school (an excuse for us lawyers to sue doctors to get some of “our own” back?) What a wonderful world we live in.

          So sharp people almost always find a way to game the system. Don’t they.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Re affordable housing: The Brits, facing a somewhat similar situation, came up with “council housing,” which you can read about here: I believe Grenfell Tower is was a “council” project, so nothing involving humans and selfishness and greed is altogether perfect, or even good…

        Chicago, of course, under Daley and going on from there, came up with “urban renewal,” in which the Obamas played a part too — And are continuing to play one:

        Daley saw opportunity in tearing down black neighborhoods and forcing the inhabitants into Mies van der Rohe-designed vertical jungles, like Robert Taylor Homes (sic) and Cabrini-Green, which area actually is now part of the whole “gentrification” thing: .

    2. HotFlash

      Yes indeed! Uber drivers and Foodora meal delivery bike couriers — excuse me, entrepreneurs — love the flexibility of our Utopian gig economy! And H1B visaholders don’t see why they shouldn’t take half the pay of the USians for Silicon V jobs. After all, 1/2 the pay will cover their student loans easily and they’ll still have money to send back home. Well, assuming they can find affordable rent anywhere in SiVal.

      Jeesh, people who can’t afford rent, now being coopted in the race to the bottom.

    3. Ned

      YIMBY’s conveniently ignore the effects of three million or more undocumented immigrants on the low cost housing stock of California.

      YIMBYs are pawns for developers and builders. They are part of “GRIND”~
      the Green Industrial Development Complex.

      At best, these “housing advocates” and others are guaranteed the opportunity to place their name in a massive lottery pool made up of people from anywhere competing for the 10% to 6% of low income apartments in large projects mandated by local zoning.

      Louis, perhaps More Kowloon Walled Cities would be the ideal solution. Or, perhaps, building all the housing needed in the massive empty tracts of land outside of the most expensive real estate in America?

      1. SerenityNow

        Louis still makes a good point. If building more housing is not an acceptable solution, then what is?

        Many people seem to fear the potential loss big houses on large lots for everyone. But are they aware of the costs of that type of development, in terms of infrastructure and services? And would people keep building that way if they knew the cost up front? Let people build what they want, just make sure that the true costs are included in the price.

        Municipalities all over the country are facing budget shortfalls, in part because they have infrastructure systems intended for the type of development that can only occur when people are flush with cash…but those days don’t seem likely to come again anytime soon. 1000 feet of pipe can serve a lot more 50′-frontage lots than 100′-frontage lots, so just in terms of municipal finance, smaller networks and increased density make better financial sense. And as for the suggestion that we build housing with all our empty land–if development isn’t connected to anything, it usually isn’t very attractive. Sure, we could build a million homes on the Oklahoma prairie—but who is going to live there if there is no water, sewer, job access, or anything else? If we want to be efficient, we should probably focus development on existing infrastructure networks.

        No one is going to be building Tokyo or Kowloon in the US anytime soon, we just don’t have the population density nor low regulatory climate for it. Linking those types of developments in vastly different situations to slightly increased density in the US seems a bit overheated to me. But I can’t say that I might not think the same thing initially as well.

        1. Anon

          Municipalities all over the country are facing budget shortfalls, in part because they have infrastructure systems intended for the type of development that can only occur when people are flush with cash

          Municipalities in California are facing budget shortfalls because Prop 13 has been turned on its head and doesn’t tax commercial property sufficiently, the alternative funding source (sales tax) is dropping with lower wages/incomes, new development doesn’t pay the real cost to increasing existing infrastructure (average cost taxation: the cost is spread over ALL taxpayers), and ageing infrastructure (needing repair) is paid for with current fees (which need to increase) but are anathema to rate payers.

          Oh, and most of the cost of providing services to the locals is in the cost of labor: more employees (police, fire, park staff, sewer/water system staff, etc.).

          1. SerenityNow

            You bring up a good point that in California things are different because of Prop 13 and I agree with you about real cost. I guess I shouldn’t say that too much infrastructure is making municipalities broke, but rather that in most places in the US we have infrastructure systems like roads and pipes that are laid out for large lots with low density, and this can be difficult to adapt to smaller budgets and smaller populations. And personnel costs are always the highest–but that can also be an argument for smaller infrastructure systems that ultimately require fewer people to maintain.

        2. JTMcPhee

          The true costs of “development” will NEVER be included in the price of “properties” sold by developers. Developers, by constant application and corruption and dedication to self-interest (see “markets”), own the legislative and legal process, both codes and zoning and ordinances, most everywhere.

          FL used to have sort of significant ‘development/impact fees’ that were supposed to recapture the costs of municipal services that developers create and profit from externalizing. Even as drafted, they were idiotically inadequate. There are probably algos that can sort out how much is the true long-term “cost” (the wise ones would include damages to the ecology we have to try to live within) , of all the many, many impacts of paving and roofing and cramming more people and pools and schools and hospital services and cars and shopping and roads and sewers and water and police needs onto “waste” (what the British Enclosers called the Commons, actually) and former ranching and groves and farmland. Those fees have withered to peanuts, and the last-ins benefit hugely from sticking themselves to the existing tax base. And the developers go on to the next looting project…

  22. Vatch

    Democratic Primary deadline is Oct 13, 2017.

    That set of links is very important — thank you Altandmain. Remember the difficulties that many people had voting in the primary in 2016? Here’s an article from April, 2016, about the New York primary:

    Don’t let this happen to you in 2018. Remember, Hillary Clinton won the New York Democratic primary, in part because a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters weren’t properly registered. There was also the purge of 126,000 Brooklyn Democratic voters . . . .

    Please be sure that you are registered, and that you are registered for the correct political party. Let your friends know about this.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I agree with what Bernie said during his campaign: “When you turn 18, you’re registered to vote. Period. End of discussion.”

      1. Lee

        YES! Particularly given that for males at least (where’s the feminist outcry?), one must sign up with the selective service at that age. A young guy I know failed to do so and was therefore deemed ineligible for public disability payments while recovering from major surgery.

        1. Anon

          Failing to sign up for Selective Service essentially eliminates all manner of Federally funded programs from your life. Including student loans.

          1. Ned

            Can you skip paying federal taxes then since you receive no services?

            Any male wanting to avoid the draft can just identify as female.

      2. Vatch

        Even if a person is automatically registered, in a place like New York, one still needs to specify a party if one wants to vote in a primary.

  23. Matthew G. Saroff

    The support of Israelis for ethnic cleansing is disheartening.

    In 1970, if someone had expressed those views at a party in Haifa, there would have been stunned silence, people would have gotten out as soon as possible, and they would never be invited back. (Excluding the Jabotinsky Revisionist dead ender types, which included Netanyahu’s dad, and probably Bibi)

    In 1995 or so, many of those people at that party would be horrified, and this would be the subject of discussion at the party with somewhere between 25 and 50% being sympathetic on some level.

    Today, it would be unremarkable conversation at that party.

    This is profoundly depressing.

    I think that much of the Palestinian society think that they can get Israeli society to break to get what they want, and I fear that Israeli society will instead snap, leading to ethnic cleansing.

    1. Wukchumni

      I find it terrifying that a people so persecuted not so long ago by fascism, have now turned into ersatz fascists.

          1. JBird4049

            Not necessarily, but it is unpleasantly common.

            Blast it. I hate the rhetoric coming out of Israel nowadays, but as an American I don’t recognize much of my own country anymore. It doesn’t matter if it’s Red/Blue, Conservative/Liberal, it has changed for the worse; Israel changing so wrongly is not so surprising to me.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Israel saw fairly large periods of migration after 67 and 73 by more conservative leaning types from North America and of course Arab dominated states where the anti-Israel rhetoric left people uncomfortable (1948 too; Iran of course has a sizable population of native Jews), and much of the original state of Israel population was composed of arrivals prior to 1930 and the local population who assimilated into the new Euro-centric culture. 30’s era immigrants were not establishing a culture anymore for the newly arrived. Then there are the views of Soviet immigrants and what goes with the quest for national identity in the wake of the collapse of the SSRs.

        As far as Survivors go, how many are left? I can’t imagine its a high number. After all, 800,000 Palestinian arabs were removed from their homes in 1948.

      2. bronco

        It may be terrifying but its not surprising . I hate to say it would work that way 100% of the time but maybe 90% is about right.

    2. Carolinian

      Dunno about parties at Haifa but ethnic cleansing was always the policy going back to Ben-Gurion and the Nakba. Forests have now been planted where Palestinian villages once stood.

      1. todde

        But the used to feel somewhat bad about it.

        I used to participate in a mideast peace iniative in the late 90s early aughts.

        We had high hopes then

  24. Edward E

    Pretty sure that’s a wonderful photo of Birds of Peace in Hawaii. They do look so gentle and peaceful.

    1. Tooearly

      Manu o ku is the Hawaiian name and they are the official birds of Honolulu.
      Funny you mention peace as amongst other things Ku is the god of war

  25. Wukchumni

    A view from afar…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “But I’m appealing to reason. And preaching to the sane. Here in New Zealand, we’ve heard of countries that don’t worship universal gun ownership.

    To many Americans – and I mean enough to elect Donald Trump – geography stops at countries they want to wall off; or countries they’ve invaded.

    And appealing to reason is a waste of time. There is real evil out there. People who plan the massacres – and don’t call them insane, because planning requires sanity – and even people who call these massacres hoaxes. People who’ve made death threats to the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook, for supposedly hoaxing. These people are sphincters all the way through. To argue with them, is to let the trolls win.

    They talk of freedom, but the land of the free has more people in prison than any other country. And just try getting on a plane with 110g of toothpaste.

    Their system is poisoned. And the seeds of destruction were in the founding document.

    That 2nd Amendment probably looked smart at the time, but it didn’t anticipate a weapons industry that dreamt of weaponising the populace like Apple wants people to buy phones.

    In fact, how long before the gun manufacturers start saying the gun you need this season is the one with Siri, and AI? (Cue the Terminator being hacked.)

    But why expect a perfect eternal document from farmers without plumbing, who thought it fine to own slaves? It’s religious fantasy to even think they could spell out rules for the world we live in. They couldn’t anticipate flight, let alone aircraft security.”

    1. John k

      It was pretty good for its day. And modified a lot.
      2nd amendment is not the problem, supremes have always agreed pols can impose limits. Problem is pols taking money, nobdifferent than pols taking money from Mic, pharma, banks etc. it’s the vast corruption.

      1. JBird4049

        I think the point is that with so much corruption any changes in the Constitution would be circumvented. Just look at the legal destruction of the 4th and 5th Amendments. Also, with that amount of corruption, could we trust what changes would be proposed and approved?

  26. Ned

    Major philanthropist David Geffen wants to control “culture” the way he tried to control Californians’ legal access to the publicly owned beach in front of his house.

    Google or better yet for privacy, DuckDuck Go,
    “Geffen, beach access”

  27. JohnnyGL

    There’s been a lot of ink spilled about Ken Burns and Lynne Novick’s documentary series on the Vietnam War. This above link might be the worst criticism that I’ve seen. The author wants MORE nuanced discussion of what went on in the Oval Office across several presidencies?!?!?! The series is something like 18 hours in total. If there’s anything that we DO NOT need more of, it’s the perspective of those in power in the USA, clouded by their insecurities about looking ‘weak’ and not being ‘tough on commies’. Soothing these political (and arguably psychological) needs required a massive body count and a helluva lot of napalm. There is NO excuse for this.

    Best criticism I’ve seen of what the series needed MORE of was made by Moon of Alabama…


    “Moreover there is no comment at all about the motivation and thought of the countries that backed the Viet-minh. Soviet and Chinese archives are open. But nothing is said about their desires and the large amount of resources they put into the war. A real documentary on the war would include their views. “Anti-communist” and “domino theory” slogans were and are still used to sell the war to the U.S. public. Would the deliberations that took place in Moscow and Beijing contradict them?”

    Also, Jacobin had a review that was decent

  28. hemeantwell

    ‘A significantly weaker America’: Major study warns of eroding U.S. military Defense News. “

    I’ll pick up my harp again and try a slightly different tune: a few days ago there was a post citing Graeber on how a primary goal of elites is to induce a sense of apathy and helplessness to ward off initiatives aimed at systemic change. In that respect this article is like Thorazine. Along with avoiding the immediate issue of a direct comparison of existing militaries and instead fussing over threat assessments and uncertainties about how much death stuff the US needs, it presents an utterly childish white hats vs. black hats, bellum omnium contra omnes world in which each side is somehow doomed to be an aggressor against another. Nominally relevant to questions of military strength, this world image is, I think, a background assumption that continually encourages us to accept that, at the end of the day, we gotta be prepared to fight. This is one of the primary supports of Trumpism — “uh, well, he is an asshole but we have to be tough” — and promotes a sense that even brutal stupidity is better than imperiling naivite that might think of serious disarmament efforts. The writer can’t begin to consider whether the US is, or at least appears to be, a threat to other countries. That it doesn’t even come up helps to turn a simple, obvious question into an unpatriotic act. Options having withered, prepare for the inevitable war.

    1. Wukchumni

      The War Prayer

      by Mark Twain

      It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener…

    2. KTN

      In these days of the () F-35, the () Littoral Combat ship and combat boots with all the durability of K-Mart (if it still exists) flip-flops, is the biggest threat to US military strength domestic political corruption?

      Just asking. Doubt whether Heritage did.

  29. Indrid Cold

    So I’m noticing a lot of trend lines heading toward some kind of intersection:

    There is a lot of sand shifting under various castles. The constant push for centralization under a universal Empire is causing reaction everywhere. Sometimes violent, sometimes not. Sometimes effective, or temporarily so. Sometimes trampled underfoot. But it doesn’t show any signs of lessening. Chinese consumers may happily opt for a cashless society, but if there is a financial panic and they are told their meagre wealth is confiscated while the children of the elite flee to Vancouver Washington, I think we’ll see an uproar that makes Tienenman Square look like #OWS.
    Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico situation proves Joseph Tainter’s whole thesis. He wrote a book that used the oil platform disaster a while back as a proof, but Puerto Rico is going down like Atlantis before everyone’s eyes and the whole might of the Empire is tripping over itself to not look like total fools. Endless wealth is lavished on this war machine and from what I can tell, despite a base network that spans the planet, they can’t find their ass with both hands tied behind them.
    The collapse is happening. It took Rome 200 years to go from their big crisis to the barbarians looting the city but somehow I don’t think it’s going to take the feckless American aristocracy so long to hit the iceberg. And sadly, they’ll probably take the whole world down with them.

    1. Wukchumni

      How many of the factors that Joseph Tainter used to explain the collapse of prior civilizations can you pin on us, or the rest of the world?

      1) Depletion or cessation of a vital resource
      2) The establishment of a new resource base
      3) The occurrence of some insurmountable catatrosphe
      4) Insufficient response to circumstance
      5) Other complex societies
      6) Intruders
      7) Class conflict, societal contradictions, elite mismanagement or misbehavior
      8) Social dysfunction
      9) Mystical factors
      10) Chance concatenation of events
      11) Economic factors

    2. RUKidding

      I just got back from a trip through the 4 ‘Stans in Central Asia. All countries that had been part of the USSR. They are still somewhat reeling there from the dissolution of the USSR, albeit some 30+ years later, all of the countries are doing reasonably well.

      But it was sobering to listen to locals talk about how surprising, scary, tough and difficult it was for them when the USSR collapsed. Many said that, to this day, they still can’t believe how fast it happened.

      My travel companion and I just looked at each other and said: “We are so f*cked.”

      With the Bozo in the White House – combined with syocophantic fans who believe he’s doing a “great” job – I don’t foresee a happy future here in the Yew Ess Aaay. Sad to say.

      1. Wukchumni

        In the Soviets defense in terms of collapse…

        Nobody ‘owned’ anything, nor did anybody have cars for the most part, and they had an excellent public transport system, and many of the people had been tending vegetable farms for a long time, so as to fill the gap between what they could buy in stores, and starvation.

        …they were much better prepared for the end than we will be

    3. Bill

      I am glad to see someone else referring to what is happening as “centralization” as opposed to globalization. Colonialization never went away, and under centralization many professions are made obsolete or severely marginalized, as when Greenland under centralization eliminated the hunter, resulting in massive suicide numbers, and in India, farmer suicides, etc., and in America, suicide by opioids. Mineral rights, privacy rights, no publicly-owned lands on such a scale now that they will take the whole world down with them. But look! Musk will have beautiful places on Mars all ready /s
      aren’t we all just so excited about looking out at a barren wasteland every day…

    4. Lee

      Puerto Rico is going to be just fine. The rich will swoop in and buy up the place for pennies and the poor will move in with the rest of us over here on the mother ship. See? It’s a win win.

  30. Bill

    The high school in my town in VT is offering “voluntary fingerprinting” for students this month. Anybody ever hear of this anywhere else? Is this just for emergency ID or police state stuff?
    When I was in school we seemed to get along without this stuff…

    1. RUKidding

      Back in Ye Olden Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I used to wear a dog tag to elementary school. I think I still have it around somewhere.

      Fingerprinting reeks of Police State, but is probably being encouraged in case some random white male with an amory of military grade hardware decides to go postal at the high school. Sad to say, it could happen.

      I believe VT has particularly lax gun laws?? But I could be mistaken about that.

      1. Bill

        lax gun laws here because people have a reasonable and respectful attitude about guns. Nobody flaunts firepower here because they would be laughed at and marginalized. That does not mean there are not people adamant about keeping their guns, just not a bunch of crazies. When someone shoots someone else, it’s personal, not a political statement. thus far, anyway.

    2. Angie Neer

      This was offered for our elementary-aged kids as a response to kidnapping hysteria. Haven’t heard of it at high school age. My first questions would be whether someone is making money from it, and who retains custody of the fingerprints.

      1. johnnygl

        My kid’s daycare had a company offering it, too. My memory is fuzzy as it was a couple years ago. I think it was an insurance company or something who was creating id bracelets, maybe?

        I recall being creeped out that they were after my kid’s medical info when she was barely 4 years old.

  31. rd

    This is the type of home that would likely be very effective in hurricane zones. Even flooding could be accommodated as long as belongings were relocated to dry areas.

  32. Jesus Martinez

    From the last post about Catalonia, by Lambert:

    For example, are Catalonia’s resources being plundered? […]I don’t mean financial transfers, a consequence of any Federal system.

    > what the Catalans get out of independence
    Perhaps the better question is “Which Catalans”? I would bet Catalan elites are better off. The left allying with the neoliberals can only mean that they think they can force redistribution. Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it, since nationalism provides no ideological justification for that. What if all the money that used to go to Spain now goes go building up a military, for example?

    Tu quoque, Lambert?

    :-)

    Regarding the normal financial transfers in any federal system: they are the mechanism of fiscal exploitation at work. Catalonia’s numbers (8-10% of its GDP) are very high. Not unheard of, but very high indeed. I hope that next week I can post about the question. In the meanwhile, I will just say that I think that your framing of the issue is mistaken. This is not a conflict about a selfish region that has just discovered that it can be better off if it doesn’t share with others. This is a political conflict on two incompatible conceptions of the polity. And this conflict has an important financial/fiscal dimension added on top. But the main issue is political. In my opinion, actually, the financial aspect is more relevant to the Spanish side. On the Catalan side it is a secondary reason. And before last Sunday it may as well have lost relevance: before then it could be the reason to move the marginal voter; after last Sunday, the marginal voter is someone else.

    About the second piece quoted, I’ll try to write during the day. I think you will find it very interesting.
    Cheers.

    1. Peronella

      Absolutely correct !! Thank you for saying it.

      The economics are NOT the prime movers of the Catalan drive for independence. That is not the first reason Catalans give for wanting to go their own way. Very frustrating to see it always framed from that point on the English press. Only in non-Catalan discussions is the primary reason given as financial. And you are correct again, Spain has more to lose from a Catalan exit than does Catalunya, which historically has always been the most productive region. It has always rebuilt after every catastrophe. Brilliantly so and on its own.

      Perhaps it should be mentioned that the Balearic islands and Valencia, which are remaining in Spain have very close linguistic and historical ties. But perhaps this is a discussion for another day.

  33. Jesus Martinez

    Hi again
    A few people have posted texts framing the events as lead by the usual neo-liberal elites, leading the (supposedly blind) people. It is this idea about nationalism as opium for the masses, which allows the elites to rule the roost.
    I am going a bit local here. Bear with me, please, I think that you are going to find this very interesting.
    For 2-3 decades CiU (right-wing, moderate nationalists, all very legal and no adventures allowed), a coalition of two parties, played the role described above. They were enthusiastically pro-austerity until 2014. Now, when the pro-independence movement gained momentum they knew (they know the country) that if they kept the old politics (negotiating incremental devolution with Madrid in exchange of political support) they would go down the drain of history. Old politics is agonising in Spain, but in Catalonia it was killed by the 2010 Constitutional Court ruling on the new Estatut (devolution law, 2006 (I think. That the ruling took 4 years to be issued talks heaps of how its political aspects are more relevant than its merely juridical aspects)). So they decided to ride the pro-independence wave. Old (mostly real) corruption cases highly publicised in Spain meant that they had to come clean. Really clean. The media barrage of accusations was such that no behind doors, cozy arrangements were possible. So the party/coalition was completely redone: eventually they would break up, the U would go solo and fail miserably in the last elections, and the C would have its name changed to PDCat, which is now part of the ruling coalition. Now, that rehashing of the PDCat was voted by the militants. The traditional daddys in the party, tried to keep control of the whole process. I am thinking of really scary figures like Felip Puig and Boi Ruiz (the latter’s dealings with public contracts deserve a whole series of posts, with -trust me- unbelievable anecdotes). Those (and others, but I like those two in particular) were the connection with the elites. Artur Mas (the former Catalan PM) was already in full pro-independence mode, which would progressively cut him off from the elites. The problem was that the base in the party knew that a change only in name wouldn’t be enough. Think of the daily accusations of corruption in the press as the background to all this process. So they had a true vote to decide basic party lines, not just a name change: they voted against the neo-liberal labour law reform of the PP; they voted against cuts in public spending; they voted for public provision of health and education; … They voted a solidly social-democratic program. The big right-wing party of the country going left.
    The elites were (and still are) in deep disarray. A small part of that elite (the famous 400 families) seem to be pro-independence out of a very deep ideological drive. But most of them are just taken aback. It is really funny to hear them yell through headlines in their press (La Vanguardia, Godó Group), going “Please! Someone do something!” “Help, help! Mr. Rajoy, please make an offer!”. They had their moderate candidate in the last elections, Duran i Lleida (the U in the CiU above): big campaign by the Godó Group, the voice of reason in front of the independence folly: 0 seats out of 135. Now they are promoting Fernández Teixidó, this old CiU guy, in interviews he shows Stateman-like, the sort of trick that the French press did with Macron when they needed to get Fillon out of the way. There are other movements, too, but I think that this is not the place and they are of little interest before any elections.
    The question is: the C in CiU was the party that allowed the elites to control the country. Now those elites don’t even control their own party. Think of that for a second. They have no fucking party out there to tell people what to do. That’s how bad this whole story is for them.
    I have heard Germà Bel, a pro-independence MP and economics professor, explaining why the Spanish government couldn’t make a serious offer to the ruling elites in Barcelona to sort the problem out. He gave 3 reasons that make it impossible, and one of them was: because there is no guarantee that those elites can enforce the agreement in Catalonia. They could do it in 2006. They can’t anymore. They have lost control of the country.
    I think that no one in NC is going to dispute this: in all countries, there are -let’s call them- mediation mechanisms: people are for public provision of health services, you get more-efficient-market-solutions; people are for not going into wars, you get wars on terror; people are anti-immigration, you get pro-immigration policies. Those mechanisms are the media, the political parties, money and all that. Well, in Catalonia those mechanisms are broken, at the moment. Everything is in a state of flux. That is what a nationalist movement can do to old structures.
    Don’t mistake me, I don’t think that this state of things is going to last. There will be a settlement, at some point. PlutoniumKun pointed out the case of Ireland in 1916, and how those romantic lefties gave way to right-wing leadership, but that was, if I am not mistaken, years later (1921?). That could happen in Catalonia, too, but what we are seeing right now is not what all the debates here about nationalism=bad, lefties=good.
    It is surely better to have a Constitution drafted when those domination mechanisms are broken. Beat that, Podemos!
    I understand that for many of you a popular revolt to remain in the EU is sort of underwhelming. But for us it is a huge change. Really huge. It is not only specific political, financial, cultural aspects. In the last 150 years Spain has gone through 3 formally-genuine (that’s my concept) democratic periods: the First Republic (a mess, 8 months), the Second Republic (1931-39, we all know how that ended) and the current period from 1977 (and we have just seen the real face of the Spanish democracy). We have to get away from that.
    Cheers.

    1. Sue

      Jesus,
      Very interesting. Find below another link from my other post with one more account on TVE unethical journalistic practices. This one is in English

  34. Jesus Martinez

    Sorry for the mistéics in my English. I usually avoid correcting my texts once posted, but I think that in this case the meaning of a sentence is lost. Where it said:
    That could happen in Catalonia, too, but what we are seeing right now is not what all the debates here about nationalism=bad, lefties=good.
    it should say:
    That could happen in Catalonia, too, but what we are seeing right now is not what all the debates here about nationalism=bad/right-wing, lefties=good are depicting.

    1. Sue

      Jesus,
      You are doing just fine. We all understand your English which by the way is good. We learn by listening, speaking, writing and reading; so you should continue posting . Yves runs a great site here and likes all points of view as long as one respects all other NCrs. I speak and write six languages and mess up my English grammar more often than not (perhaps I write too fast and should double check too). Here is a link to an article in Spanish I posted somewhere else and is showing that now the political party Si Que ES Pot has joined the independents. This amounts to having at least 55-60% of the Catalan population supporting independence.

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