Links 10/6/17

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The Wire

Science Alert

Scientific American

The Intercept. , so it seems odd that Center for American Progress would get involved with UAE lobbying. Or not.

Slate. “[T[hese companies have become the biggest, most imposing gatekeepers in human history.” Another word for “gatekeeper” would be “Robber Baron.”

Oilprice.com

The Economist

FT

Catalonia

Antiwar.com (TF). Must-read.

Euronews

Bloomberg

The Economist

Puerto Rico

NYT

The Intercept

Counterpunch

Reuters

The Hill (UserFriendly). UserFriendly: “Haven’t they suffered enough?​”

Brexit

BBC

Bloomberg

Telegraph. Partially pay-walled but the lead:

Britain will refuse to tell Europe how much it is prepared to pay to settle the so-called “Brexit bill” when Brexit negotiations re-open in Brussels next week, the Telegraph can reveal, in a move that risks plunging the Brexit talks into fresh crisis.

Hoo boy.

FT

Problems with the set:

Few problems with the set as Theresa May gives her speech! Watch behind the PM…

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight)

Telegraph. Classy!

China?

Nikkei Asian Review

South China Morning Posts

People’s Daily

North Korea

Perspectives on Economics and Civilization

AP (Re Silc).

Our Famously Free Press

FT. “Google could soon bundle information like a cable television company.” I can’t imagine a less attractive business model. Of course, you get better support from cable companies.

The Atlantic. “Algorithms are opinions embedded in code.” Hence, it’s evidently Google’s opinion that 4Chan is a news source, since they link to it in their “Top Stories,” in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. Of course, Google is a ginormous monopoly, so they can do whatever they like with their platform, and if that’s their opinion, so be it. But they could at least be honest about it.

Margaret Sullivan, WaPo.

Pew Research (DG). Linked to back in April, but worth resurfacing.

AdAge (DK). And a catch from an alert reader:

Pornhub traffic fell 12% in the Washington DC area during Jeff Sessions testimony

— modest proposal (@modestproposal1)

The American Conservative

Reuters. “If you want to lose a fight, talk about it first.” – Quellcrist Falconer.

New Cold War

CNN. But not the Senate investigators, apparently.

Reuters

Business Insider. For “won’t,” read “can’t.”

Axios

* * *

The Verge

WSJ. Source: “[M]ultiple people with knowledge of the matter.” If life were a LeCarré novel, that data would be chicken.

Politico. Source: “[T]hree U.S. government officials.”

Trump Transition

Stephanie Kelton, New York Times (Furzy Mouse). First the Los Angeles Times, now the New York Times. Are WaPo, WSJ, and the FT too much to ask?

CNBC

Politico

NYT (GF). An important story, lost in the noise…

The Hill (UserFriendly).

FT

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Privacy News Online

The Register (CL). What could go wrong?

Imperial Collapse Watch

Vice. Still useful.

Class Warfare

(PDF) Thomas Fujiwara, Humberto Laudares, and Felipe Valencia Caicedo

Slate (UserFriendly).

The Regulatory Review

Eater. Really fun, and makes you wonder if “brands” really understand their own brands.

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

138 comments

  1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re JPM’s [unauthorized] scam within the 50-state mortgage settlement scam, this:

    “…Then, when it needed to provide customer relief under the settlements, ***the bank had paperwork created asserting that it still owned the properties.*** In the process, homeowners were exploited, investors were defrauded, and communities were left to battle the blight caused by abandoned properties. JPMorgan, however, came out hundreds of millions of dollars ahead, thanks to using other people’s money.”

    sums up the entire looting of American would-be homeowners nicely. When the lender needed evidence to justify its self-dealing or other flavor of fraudulent practice, it would fabricate the evidence. Though the texture of the description would be more accurate if the sentence read: the bank hired a scientology-linked company to create [better still, manufacture, or fabricate] the paperwork asserting that it still owned the properties”.

    The fact that the bank used exactly the same on-demand evidence manufacturing technique to “pay” a substantial portion of the “penalty” triggered in part by that technique is a vivid demonstration of the total ineffectiveness of that “penalty”.

    1. Eclair

      And, in an opinion piece by David Callahan, published on October 5th in the Guardian, the author, after outlining the predatory practices of the financial elites, heaps praise on JPMorgan Chase for their initiative aimed at smoothing over our massive inequalities.

      “There’s a growing array of initiatives under way – including some funded by top banks like JPMorgan Chase – that aim to expand opportunity by training low-income workers for better jobs, increasing access to credit in inner cities, revitalizing poor urban neighborhoods, and offering new pathways to college. ”

      Ohhhhh ….. ‘job training’ for those ‘better’ jobs. What, moving from Jack-in-the-Box to Olive Garden?

      Better ‘access to credit in inner cities:’ Code for ‘now that we’ve effectively gutted the middle class, there’s a whole lot of really really poor people that we can entrap into long term credit card debt.’

      ‘Revitalization of poor urban neighborhoods,’ would be seen by my friend in Denver, whose extended family, descended from the indigenous tribes of the southwest, lives in a north Denver neighborhood characterized by economic poverty but held together by deep social bonds, as the dreaded Gentrification. Which means, due to increased property taxes, rents and sell-outs by landlords to developers, that the community is effectively evicted.

      And, finally, the ‘offering of new pathways to college;’ this must involve upgraded education loan programs that will entrap a whole previously untapped pool into lifelong debt bondage. (See ‘better access to credit in inner cities.’)

          1. Wukchumni

            Perhaps you’re thinking of the mystery meat in those 2 for 99 cent tacos @ Jack-in-the-Box.

        1. Eclair

          Purina Dog Chow, now owned by Nestle, has a factory on the north side of Denver. I drove by there regularly and the smell was overpowering … a kind of heavy, greasy, rotting odor that clings to one’s hair and clothing.

    2. perpetualPOOR

      What did Obama say about Jamie Dimon?

      “Jamie Dimon’s a very savvy businessman.” -Barack Obama

        1. perpetualWAR

          Tony Blair on what he admires about Jamie Dimon:

          [O]ne thing he admires about Dimon is his straight talk and openness to honest disagreement.

          “He’s somebody who’s direct,” said Blair. “He’s not somebody who’ll sit in a meeting when someone says something he disagrees with quietly. He’ll get up, he’ll stand up and speak.”

        2. Wukchumni

          What Obama meant to say:

          “My administration is the only thing between you and fetching pork.”

      1. Procopius

        I have always had fondness for Obama’s beautiful statement about the bankers, “A lot of what they did wasn’t illegal.” That’s much better than his, “I’m all that stands between you and the pitchforks.”

    3. perpetualWAR

      Guess what attorney firm is defending JPMC?

      If anyone guessed Covington & Burling…….HOLDER’s firm…..they win the prize for today’s lesson in how to screw 18 million homeowners by the former AG Holder.

      1. Savonarola

        Leopard. Ocelots are surprisingly tiny and their spots are very irregular. Big eyes, less muscular.

      2. Savonarola

        Actually, darn it, could be jaguar. I can’t see the rosettes well enough to tell for sure, but looks less stocky than a jaguar. . . .

  2. BoycottAmazon

    When Facebook and Google are ‘weaponized,’ the victim is reality Margaret Sullivan, WaPo.

    Two for one, the answer will, of course, be Amazon.

  3. Corbin Dallas

    One of the good things that have come out of this atrocity of a presidency is, I believe, that accelerationism as a principle for the “left” (or just general anti-late-capitalists) has been shown to be the nightmare that people on the ground always claimed. Yes, it *can* always get worse and yes, it *will* for those who are vulnerable, poor, or for women – who as of today or Monday will no longer have access to birth control, which reduces STIs, uterine cancer, abortions, and generally gives women autonomy over the body.

    Similarly, I have been musing on the PR disaster after Irma/Maria, and think its a good antidote to the prepper/survivalist/”tacti-cool” consumerism and identities that came mainstream over the last 15 years. Everyone has a go-bag, has a million ABC watches and water purifiers and think they can survive hunting and returning to a fictional hunter-gatherer lifestyle when they’re watching reality shows. But when something like this really hits, you see the real solution is to come together, have solidarity. You can’t take care of elderly people who need oxygen, battle mosquitos with malaria, and help your fellow man with cool bushcrafting tools.

    1. Corbin Dallas

      And he’s gone and done it!

      Though the mandate was put in place in an effort to protect women’s health, according to the Obama administration, the Trump administration is arguing that contraception does not protect women’s health, and in fact claims free birth control could promote “risky sexual behavior” in teenagers and adults. This has been disputed by most OB-GYNs—in fact, not only does birth control prevent unwanted pregnancy, the birth control pill can treat a number of hormonal disorders in women, including endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and acne; it can reduce the risk of a number of cancers, and it can protect against Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, among its other benefits.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Hermmm. Not your point, just the argument of that quote. Bringing a lobster pick to a knifefight. The Trump Admin justifies policy with ad hominem against women and teens. The response is ‘studies have clearly shown…’

        Seems something like ‘Governmental contempt for its citizens’ would be a punchier retort. But no, we get ‘In 1987 Harris et al. clearly demonstrate….’

    2. Eclair

      Thank you, Corbin, for pointing out that solidarity will be our survival tool, should we chose to foster it.

      We have moved and are now living among numerous Amish neighbors. After reading of the total devastation of the recent hurricanes, I realized that the Amish are well equipped to survive a disaster. Power grids out? No problem; they don’t use electricity. So, their water well pumps are manual, they don’t rely on refrigeration to store food, and they do store lots of food. Each family has multiple horses, from massive work horses to pull plows to a couple of carriage horses. Their plumbing is an outhouse. The women can bake from scratch and cook meals for fifty or more. The men can fell trees, saw them into lumber, and build a house, along with fine cabinetry and the furniture. And, they can grow food for themselves and their animals. Plus, they hunt and fish. Not for fun, but for food.

      More importantly, they have deep social relationships; their basic unit, after the extended family, is the ‘parish,’ which consists of the number of families that can comfortable fit into the average house for Sunday religious service. And, all the houses in a parish are an easy buggy ride away. The Amish spend a lot of time (compared to our capitalist job-obsessed culture) in maintaining relationships; there are barn-raisings, house-buildings, funerals, weddings, auctions (all on week-days, much to the despair of any ‘English’ employers). They are their own social safety net. They don’t have telephones or computers but somehow the news that a member is ill or in trouble, gets spread around in record time.

      They may seem quiet and retiring, but any group that can routinely organize 100 or so people and build a barn in one day … and everyone multiple from-scratch meals … is the essence of solidarity.

      1. wilroncanada

        Eclair
        Admire your moving among Amish.
        Real solidarity is an aim for some communities her on Vancouver Island and the Outer Gulf Islands, though not without tech and tools: ability to ourselves and supply most needs within communities. (Vancouver Island gets 95% of its food shipped in, for example). Most of the skills of the Amish, some Hudderite groups, some Mennonite groups, would have to be learned again by most of us, myself included.

        The White House needs to pay attention.
        Can a string and dixie cups be hacked?

    3. a different chris

      >One of the good things that have come out of this atrocity of a presidency is, I believe, that accelerationism as a principle for the “left” (or just general anti-late-capitalists) has been shown to be the nightmare that people on the ground always claimed.

      Am I actually reading you correctly?

      Because if you keep kicking the can down the road you arguably get what you deserve, don’t you? I don’t see how you have “proven” this — Trump (and I would argue Hillary) needed to be so far from “accepted” that you just wouldn’t get here.

      But they weren’t because “incrementalism” — slowly sliding downhill, I’d call it. Everybody survives one more day, on a little less than the day before, and we need to not make any major changes? When do we change things?

      1. Outis Philalithopoulos

        Are you taking “accelerationism” as the opposite of “incrementalism”? That’s usually not what the word means – it typically refers to trying to accelerate the processes of capitalism or the penetration of technology into society, in hopes that this will result in the sort of major social changes one wants to see.

        There are both left- and right-wing varieties. For the left-wing versions, recall the argument that if capitalism gets sufficiently out of control, it will go to pieces under the weight of its own contradictions. For right-wing versions, you can look up, for example, Nick Land.

        1. Oregoncharles

          The problem is that making things worse mostly just makes things worse. The immediate result is certain, the longer-term, hoped-for improvement highly UNcertain.

          Uruguay is the standard example; the Tupamaros hoped to make the government “show its real face,” thus inspiring a popular uprising. The actual result was a dictatorship, and a lot of dead or imprisoned Tupamaros.

          OTOH, one of the survivors eventually became a very good president of Uruguay, which is now pretty socialist. Took a long time, though.

    4. BobW

      I can’t recall where I read it, but it takes an enormous amount of land to sustain just one person as a hunter-gatherer. Of course that would vary by location, but certainly thousands of people cannot do it in one area without bloodshed.

      1. Wukchumni

        There were about 2,000 Wukchumni indians here for 3,000 years, and their diet was about 2/3rds acorns, i.e. hunter gatherers.

        They were a peaceful tribe (as most Californian clans were) that wanted for little. In fact they had a reputation of being a little too well fed, among other tribes~

          1. Wukchumni

            I’m merely living on the land they so cherished~

            The last fluent speaker of the language passed away a few years ago…

            1. Eclair

              So lovely that you are keeping their memory alive by using their tribal name. Now all of us who read the NC comments with have that memory embedded in in our minds. Thank you.

          2. Wukchumni

            Another aside:

            When 85-90% of the various Yokut (‘Western Mono’) sub-tribes passed away on account of measles in 1868-69 along with tribes in the eastern Sierra, all of the surviving indians gathered together for a week-long marathon ‘Ghost Dance’ in hopes of bringing back so many that had died the year earlier, and this passage from a 1930 study says a lot about how easy of a life they had, in comparison to the indians from the eastern Sierra.
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            “It is said that at one of the large Ghost Dances which was attended by some Eastern Mono, the latter would feel the wrists of their partners. If the wrists were hard they knew they were Western Mono, but if soft, they belonged to Yokuts whom the eastern Mono would try to heckle into a fight unless they proved to be friends of Western Mono people.”

            1. Edward E

              Thank you for sharing, this kind of stuff is fascinating to me. Osage Indians settled around here, well not so much up on the Ozarks plateaus where we are but in the valleys and bluffs. If you Google: Glory Hole Falls in Newton County you’re just a few miles from my little homestead surrounded by national forest. I made a couple trips to Tahlequah, Oklahoma to do research on my Great Great Grandmother because they always said she was full Cherokee, turns out she was Seminole. Anyway I also did researching on some of the Osage from this area that sadly were moved to Oklahoma, they actually eventually prospered pretty well because the land they were given had bountiful oil and gas.

    5. Wukchumni

      I laugh at the people that think they’ll head for the tall timber of the Sierra Nevada in a survivalist fashion should the shift hit the fan, as aside from trout, there’s nothing to eat hardly. They’d starve quickly.

  4. Toske

    “Australia approves national database of everyone’s mugshots”

    Hey now, being descended from criminals doesn’t necessarily make you one.

  5. jawbone

    Is Trump hinting at a Hot War?

    Time reports on comments made by Trump yesterday at meeting with US military brass and the comments could be interpreted as threatening military action soon.

    I heard the tape of his comments on Democracy Now! this morning. Made my skin crawl.

    …Trump warned of “the calm before the storm” while posing with a group of military leaders at the White House Thursday. “You guys know what this represents?” Trump said to a group of reporters while photos were being taken, according a pool report. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
    When asked what he meant, Trump replied, “You’ll find out.”

    ….

    “Recently, we have had challenges that we really should have taken care of a long time ago, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS and the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world,” Trump said. “Tremendous progress has been made with respect to ISIS, and I guess the media is going to be finding out about that over the next short period of time.”

    In true Trumpian manner he refused to clarify what his vague threats meant and which nation(s) he would be going after.

    1. Edward E

      Maybe he meant the fake news storm, he’s always trying to troll the media into oblivion with vaguely crazy talk.

    2. curlydan

      It’s a sales/bargaining tactic. A few weeks ago he told his U.S. trade rep to make the other side, South Korea, think he’s crazy. He’s doing the same thing here…trying to put NK et al on the edge of their seats. Not really going to work though. He’s a petty troll, indeed.

  6. DJG

    The Antiwar article, the must-read, about Catalans as Pirates versus the remains of the Armada, describes how “problematic” Castilian nationalism is. It has philosophical problems and practical problems. The description of the Catalans and how they organized and the complexity of the organization is a story of a nation in action. But history and geography may conspire against the Catalans becoming an independent nation. (Let alone the EU.)

    It is important to recall that Catalonia once had an empire, as described. In fact, the early date that the author cites is when the Sicilians during the Sicilian Vespers revolted against the French and called in–the Catalans. Little did the Sicilians know that in 1492 Sicily, too, would end up with the indolent Castilian monarchs and, eventually, the Bourbons.

    1. Sid Finster

      Roger de Flor, although not actually a Catalonian, led the Catalan Company in the Byzantine Empire’s wars against the Turks.

      An interesting alternative history problem is to ask what might have happened if he had not been murdered.

      1. DJG

        Unfortunately, given the history of Catalonia, alternate history comes up: What if the Catalans hadn’t allowed the ill-fated marriage of Aragon to Castile?

        And if Constantinople hadn’t falled to the Turks, what a different world we would live in.

        1. barefoot charley

          And before that, there was the cultural and linguistic fusion between Catalonia just south of the Pyrenees, and Languedoc just to the north. The Counts of Toulouse and Catalonia were brothers-in-law and dear friends, opposed to the first Crusade against self-described Christians in the first decades of the 13th century. But they lost, and the Albigensian Heresy was snuffed by a century of Inquisition created for that purpose. France became a terrestrial empire and proto-police state on her periphery. If Count Pedro of Catalonia hadn’t died in combat near Toulouse, a greater Catalanish kingdom spanning the eastern Pyrenees was a real possibility. What’s left of all this is the charming faux history of “la Route des Cathares” in the French Pyreneean foothills–and rumbles of Occitanian identity.

        2. Massinissa

          Constantinople probably wouldn’t have fallen to the turks in the first place had the Venetians not decided that looting the place during the fourth crusade was a great idea.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Asking myself what is the difference between an emperor and a king, I find this:

        Emperor: the ruler of empire. Empire: a group of countries that are controlled by one ruler / government. King: the (male) ruler of an independent state / country that has a royal family. Kingdom: a country ruled by a king (or queen).

        Unlike the Holy Roman Empire, which was neither holy, Roman nor an empire, the Byzantinians ruled a few countries.

        Then, I ask myself this: Why is the Japanese emperor an emperor, now, or for most the last thousand years (except those few years they ruled Korea, Taiwan,etc).

        Is it because Okinawa or Hokkaido is a different country?

        1. Procopius

          Errr… The Byzantines were called an Empire because they were the last remains of the Roman Empire. By the Fourth Century (probably earlier) the Roman Empire had become so large it was impossible to coordinate government action, which they didn’t do much of anyway. That was why Augustine formally created an Eastern Capital. Emperors before and after him shared power with other, equal, rulers. One just couldn’t handle it unless he was a remarkable intellect, three were too unstable, two worked fairly well most of the time. After the Western half was essentially taken over by non-Romans, the Eastern half survived for another thousand years, although they were pretty weak after 1204. Not so weak they couldn’t hold on for another 250 years, though.

  7. Montanamaven

    Regarding the Pew Research ongoing study on “The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News…”, The Archdruid has some thoughts.
    He says that right now we are experiencing a lot of “strident moral dualism” which often sounds like “a cheap superhero comic.” Americans are fearful so they use various means to alleviate those fears like drugs, clutching their guns or hiding out in safe communities.
    I see Facebook pages and Twitter s as often serving as “safe” communities where people indulge in what Greer points out is “self-righteous outrage”. Their purpose in life is to “save people from their wrong opinions.” Greer sees this self-righteousness as an addictive drug.
    He would rather we look at these “others”, these people we don’t agree with, these shoggoths, as creatures like us with “thoughts, feelings, and motives of their own.” They have grievances too.
    But that doesn’t seem to be happening from the comments on his essay. Commenters tell stories of being angrily denounced for trying to understand Trump voters. A lot of people still want to point fingers and so no self-reflection occurs. Just that self righteousness. Or worse like the CBS exec who was fired for tweeting that she was “unsympathetic because country music fans are often gun toting Republicans.”
    I always try to return to Ian Welsh’s fallback position of “always default to kindness”. Democracy dies when there is no conversation. Conversation dies if there is no listening.

  8. vlade

    On May stepping down and that triggering Tory civil war – funny, I thought that Cameron called the Brexit referendum to avoid a Tory civil war? So basically 60m of people (give or take) were taken for a ride for no reason.. I’m not going to say “good” reason, as avoiding a civil war in ANY political party is no good reason to screw a country.

  9. Livius Drusus

    Re: the threat of Big Tech, unfortunately many Democrats have embraced Silicon Valley as the “progressive” face of corporate America since Big Tech companies position themselves as socially progressive companies as opposed to say the dirty extraction industries that are associated with red states and the Republican Party.

    The article touches on that issue with regard to Obama and Booker. I am skeptical about Democrats like Cory Booker supposedly rethinking their friendship with Big Tech. There is a faction within the Democratic Party that is pretty much all in for Big Tech and they have been around for a long time dating back to the 1970s. They used to be called “Atari Democrats.”

    Lily Geismer wrote a good piece in Jacobin about the Atari Democrats.

  10. Craig H.

    I read the antiwar.com piece on Catalonia. I don’t believe this is a story I can comprehend in 2017 from the Western Hemisphere. I have read several hundreds of pages, including by some people who were far smarter than I am, like David Hume and Adam Smith, and I still do not understand how all that gold and silver didn’t get the Spanish ruling the European Continent for around the next thousand years. Apparently this was something of a mystery to Hume and Smith, as well.

    1. DJG

      Speaking of Hume and Smith, from my day job, some research (on the afterlife, or lack thereof): >

      Adam Smith later recounted Hume’s amusing speculation that he might ask Charon to allow him a few more years of life in order to see “the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of superstition.” The ferryman replied, “You loitering rogue, that will not happen these many hundred years … Get into the boat this instant”.

      [Lifted from Hume’s Wikipedia entry.]

    2. Goyo Marquez

      When the supply of something goes up it’s price goes down. If you tie your prices to gold and the supply of gold increases you have inflation.

      1. Procopius

        They did have devastating inflation in the sixteenth century because of the influx of (mostly) silver, which was the actual basis of their money (gold was too expensive to be used for normal market transactions). Trying to remember where I read about it. The inflation pretty much ruined the economy in Spain and then spread throughout Europe as the money created from the new supplies of silver were spread by commerce.

    3. Vatch

      I still do not understand how all that gold and silver didn’t get the Spanish ruling the European Continent for around the next thousand years.

      It is a mystery. I don’t have the answer; just some speculations.

      The Inquisition very likely was a huge boat anchor impeding the nation’s success. In several other European countries, such as England and the Netherlands (which rebelled against Spanish Habsburg rule), creativity was encouraged. Not so much in Spain.

      Spain was an absolute monarchy. If the monarch was significantly flawed, it was probably difficult for lower level officials to work around those flaws to achieve favorable results.

      As for the gold and silver, maybe there was too much of it too quickly? Did Renaissance and early modern Spain suffer from inflation?

      1. todde

        Spain experienced a high rate of inflation, as did Europe. It even has it’s own name: Spanish Price revolution

          1. a different chris

            I think MMT fans – and I basically like it – need to keep this thought front and center. Gold turned out not be so great when there was suddenly a lot available.

            All currency is fiat — the trick is when you create it, make sure the distribution is equitable. It pretty much always isn’t, though.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Per barefoot charley and Wukchumni, the problem seems to be that they issued too much gold-backed coin money too fast.

              Should have hoarded the gold like a dragon..until it’s time to put gold-backed money into circulation.

              Perhaps it was those greed ‘serving the imperial country as public servants’ aristocrats. They were too greed…corrupted by wealth and power absolutely.

              Luckily, their gold was not unlimited, unlike fiat money. The damage could have been worse.

              “Beware of anything that is infinite. Omnipotence and infinity – worshipers associate those qualities with God. Especially when All-Too-Human humans are involved.”

            2. Allegorio

              The key is who gets the fiat money and what they spend it on. When the elites get the lion’s share of the fiat, they spend it on war and destruction. When the common man receives the fiat they spend it on necessities.

              Witness today. The Federal Reserve is passing out fiat to the elites creating asset bubbles benefiting the owner class. Billions are being laundered through the “entertainment” mind control industries, “security” for billionaires industry and yes the military industrial congressional complex.

              There is always enough money for war and weapons systems, but when it comes to “entitlements”, otherwise known as social insurance there is never enough fiat for the common man. All of a sudden inflation becomes an issue.

              Spain used its windfall of precious metals to wage war, endless war against the Protestant Reformation. If the Spanish monarchy had kept its new found wealth in its treasuries there would have been no inflation. It was the tremendous expenditures on war that caused the inflation.

              The situation is exactly the same today. What do the elites spend their laundered fiat on? War, endless war and power seeking, the war against the reformation of market fundamentalism.

              It is time for Americans to stop worshiping at the altar of great wealth and to realize that the elites are a cancer on our society and to prosecute crimes against humanity and asset forfeiture and put all that fiat to work creating a prosperous and just society. Great wealth is the greatest obstacle to that goal.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              This I know about money.

              When you go on a dinner date, you can give your date flowers.

              It would be gauche to give her money.

              As a machine learning robot, I’m tempted to think money as something undesirable, like a disease.

      2. barefoot charley

        Remember that the Spanish Empire was far-flung across Europe as well as the Americas. Her productive parts were in the Spanish Netherlands and Italy, where most of her gold went to buy cool stuff only made in cool cities. Amazingly, the north Netherlands rebelled against Spain for 70 years, fighting like furies while stealing her imperial centers and shipping around the world, developing the greatest trading city on a ridge in a vast swamp–Amsterdam–and helping further to piss away all that gold. The Dutch Republic don’t get enough respect.

      3. Wukchumni

        When the western Roman empire went tilt in 476 AD, a dark age descended upon money as they knew it. In what is Europe now, the cessation of minting gold coins occurred everywhere, aside from Byzantium (as I alluded to yesterday in ‘follow the money’), which kept striking them for centuries. Venice & Florence started minting gold coins in the late 13th century. When the Spanish haul hit Europe, there was an explosion in output of all that glitters in terms of coin production all over the continent, but it wasn’t as if there was a similar in output of consumer goods to match all the money.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That was like a 1,000-year event, to find that much gold all the sudden.

          Otherwise, the global supply of above ground gold has been fairly steady (I believe), and even if not, it would be wise to not spend new gold frivolously like that. The temptation to open the spigot is not as intense, for opportunities like that 1,000-year-event don’t come often, while the create-from-nothing-and-as-much-as-you-like spigot is always present.

        2. Mel

          I had wondered whether the Industrial Revolution wasn’t caused by the Spanish gold and silver discoveries, after people had had a hundred years or so to think of new things they could do with their new money.

          1. todde

            I always wondered what fractional reserve banking role was in the Industrial Revolution. (and Europe’s hegemony that came with it)

            1. Mel

              Start with Adam Smith, perhaps, Book II, Chapter 2: Of Money considered as a particular Branch of the general Stock of the Society, or of the Expense of maintaining the National Capital:

              A particular banker lends among his customers his own promissory notes, to the extent, we shall suppose, of a hundred thousand pounds. As those notes serve all the purposes of money, his debtors pay him the same interest as if he had lent them so much money. This interest is the source of his gain. Though some of those notes are continually coming back upon him for payment, part of them continue to circulate for months and years together. Though he has generally in circulation, therefore, notes to the extent of a hundred thousand pounds, twenty thousand pounds in gold and silver may, frequently, be a sufficient provision for answering occasional demands. By this operation, therefore, twenty thousand pounds in gold and silver perform all the functions which a hundred thousand could otherwise have performed. The same exchanges may be made, the same quantity of consumable goods may be circulated and distributed to their proper consumers, by means of his promissory notes, to the value of a hundred thousand pounds, as by an equal value of gold and silver money. Eighty thousand pounds of gold and silver, therefore, can in this manner be spared from the circulation of the country; and if different operations of the same kind should, at the same time, be carried on by many different banks and bankers, the whole circulation may thus be conducted with a fifth part only of the gold and silver which would otherwise have been requisite.

              and so on.

              1. todde

                Exactly. So my next question(and this isn’t as rhetorical) is: Can you eliminate fractional reserve banking, or will you just find yourself at the losing end of a financial or military invasion?

                1. Mel

                  I don’t know who would eliminate it, since no-one in political power seems to have started it. The business people did it themselves.
                  Smith follows with an argument, which I don’t really understand yet, that with domestic business satisfied with notes, specie can be used internationally, and for some reason that foreign spending will go mostly to investment rather than consumption, I’m not sure why.

                2. José

                  Can you eliminate fractional reserve banking

                  The Federal Reseve Bank of St. Louis tells us that in August 2017 the US monetary base ($ 3.91 trillion) was larger than the M1 money stock measure ($ 3.54 trillion).

                  “Fractional Reserve Banking” used to mean that a fraction of commercial bank deposits should be “kept” at the Fed, but in our QE era the situation has reversed: deposits are now a mere fraction of base money instead of the other way around.

                  1. UserFriendly

                    Can you eliminate fractional reserve banking

                    No, Because there is no such thing as fractional reserve banking.

      4. Gaianne

        On the Spanish and their Midas touch:

        The gold gave the Spanish government a huge advantage in purchasing, compared with other countries. But what did they purchase? Luxury goods made abroad, and inconclusive wars with Turkey. Far from using the gold to develop their own economy, they undercut their own businesses by favoring purchases from abroad. Inequality increased; skills were lost; the actual strength of the country actively declined. The aristocrats thought they were doing great and never noticed.

        –Gaianne

      5. JBird4049

        >>I’ve learned more about economics by studying History then I have by studying Economics<<

        I think modern mainstream Economic studies is more of a ideology than a field of study. It is one of the reasons I am an political economy major. Not only does straight modern economics bore me so much, it is torture, I really enjoy history and anthropology, both of which also have economics running through them. Everything is interconnected.

        So as to Spain’s problems, inflation was a part of it, but the “resource curse” was the cause of the destruction of the manufacturing, commerce, and even agriculture a bit, due to a rentier economy was the key. The Spain had some of the basis for a successful, and productive, economy as Northern Europe, but the rush for fast, if not instant, wealth by the pillaging of the Americas, pulled all the resources of any kind from it. It is the same with American economy as it is going the same transformation as all the talent, education, energy, and money is going towards the today’s rentier economy of Goldman Sachs, instead of the Hewlett-Packard, or IBM of the 60s to 80s.

        The whole economy is being hollowed out with, as in the Spanish Empire, a pyramidal society being formed. A small elite class of very wealthy families, a larger service class of bankers, technicians, artisans, or whatever their immediate needs are, perhaps a slightly larger middle class, and a huge underclass, that in most times worked in the farming, and extraction industries, like gold mining. That is one of the reasons the Middle East is such a mess, besides the French, British, and Americans creating countries and political systems to get, and maintain, cheap access to the oil, the whole society is dependent on that oil revenue. The same process happens with any overly large resource, gold, oil, rare minerals, cotton, slaves, or anything really.

        The same process happened to some extent with the British and Dutch empires. More resources were pulled away from the productive industries and into plundering the colonies, or into an every growing financial economy. The capitalist system was invented, or at least made into its modern form, by the Dutch after all.

        Note that Germany has never had a true rentier economy as it had no overseas empire, and its financial sector was always smaller than Britain. Note which country still has a very strong manufacturing sector. Of course, that small finance sector hindered its paying for the First World War and is one of the reasons it lost, and the Wiemar Republic’s collapse. With the German banks overly large influence on the banking system of Europe, I think it too is now too becoming a rentier economy.

        So what happened in Spain, and to the whole of Latin America, also happens today in places like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the Congo, Nigeria, or the Ivory Coast. You can also look at Russia and its current dependence on oil and gas production. In my more paranoiac moments, I wonder what Russia will do when oil and gas are no longer a main source of energy. A broke nuclear armed country. Great. If you want to see a country that hasn’t been destroyed by its curse, look at Norway, and its sovereign wealth fund created from its oil production.

        Their paranoia of the curse has helped although if any Norwegian was to speak on it I would enjoy that as my knowledge of it is very limited as well as the European Central Bank and the German banks, especially as that seems to be the main reason for Greece’s current problems, and maybe (I think) some of Spain and Catalonia.

  11. Wukchumni

    Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis—With Phony Mortgages! David Dayen, The Nation
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    An ownerous display of fraud by the Unabankers, i’m surprised they didn’t come up with a phony mortgage on the Brooklyn Bridge, as well.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How We Think About the Deficit Is Mostly Wrong Stephanie Kelton, New York Times (Furzy Mouse). First the Los Angeles Times, now the New York Times. Are WaPo, WSJ, and the FT too much to ask?

    Democrats are the new deficit hawks in the age of Trump CNBC

    I believe someone mentioned here earlier this year that Sanders didn’t believe in MMT. Is that still true? Will this change his mind and the Democrats’?

    It would seem that that 4% tax on income is not really needed for universal coverage.

    1. Lee

      Isn’t military spending inherently inflationary as it generates a lot of personal income and private profits but does not produce a corresponding consumable product or utility (pink mist and bomb craters don’t count)? If so, this could be the problem, given that the only danger from creating too much money is the possibility of excess inflation and that because of military spending, that we are close to the limit of money creation beyond which inflation would become a problem. We cannot have nice things because of our devotion to the costly creation of the means of destroying nice things.

      Disclosure: My understanding of this topic is at best rudimentary.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I believe most military spending does not have the multiplier effect that non-military government spending does. It makes for very ineffective stimulus.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If that military spending acts like a category 5 hurricane, it’s possible it stimulates the economy, over time, by destroying wealth right now.

      2. JBird4049

        >>Disclosure: My understanding of this topic is at best rudimentary.<<

        Don't be hard on yourself.

        Yes, funerals could be counted towards the GDP. Just like haircuts. It is a service done, or provided, by someone isn't? Turning someone into pink goo could be considered productive, on paper, even if it is not in the real world. Which is insane, but similar thinking is one of the reasons big finance is so "productive." It is also a value judgement. When you study a country's economy, you have to decide, if, as in many Latin American countries, if the drug trade should be included. Some studies adds it, others don't, but is part of the economy whether or not it is part of the official GDP.

        There are some complexity, number crunching, and just plain study needed. However, much of economics is not that complex, and much of academics in any subject seems to be about adding complexity, and confusion, to justify BS.

        And if you are worried about making a mistake, well, that is how one learns, we all make them, I've made plenty, and we all start from somewhere don't we?

  13. ChiGal in Carolina

    This is horrifying. Repeal and replace was about tax cuts for the rich. Now the budget is about “synthetic” repeal, no replace.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And what is to be done? Per our touching ineluctable faith in the legitimacy and legality of institutions (after all, there was a vote, as we know, that produced the current box score in the Imperial capital, and “elections have consequences,” we are scolded endlessly), or our awareness of the actual distribution of power in the real world, the looters and beasts can now destroy the last vestiges of any kind of “social contract” and “safety net.” Without consequence to them. (Fumes and blusters and sputters in impotent rage…)

      Call your Congress critter. Send pointed letters to the editors. Sign petitions. Demonstrate at big intersections, with banners and signs with your favorite snark or in support of your particular issues that you hope to build a grand coalition to support. Try to get through to the White House, to speak truth to power. Call the AARP, for G_D’s sake! DO something!

      “No remedy, no rights…”

      1. polecat

        Yes ! .. Call Your Ferengi Representative Now ! … Boiler-room Operations Gatekeepers are standing by !!

  14. Carolinian

    Sanders interviewed by Alec Baldwin on the latter’s podcast. Sanders is articulate and persuasive but when criticism of the current Democratic party comes up Sanders says “you can go there–I can’t.” Which is to say while Sanders analysis of the problem–greed–is correct, his analysis of the solution–tame the Repubs and the Koch brothers–falls short. In the good cop/bad cop landscape of our present politics it’s the Dems who are the real deceivers…the “good cop” putting on an act.

    Worth a listen. Baldwin is a great interviewer.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Or he knows that for the time being he has no choice but to work with and within the Democrat Party to achieve short-term goals of getting more progressives in Congress, and that bad-mouthing them is not the best choice.

      I’m constantly amazed how many people choose to underestimate Sanders’s political savvy. Even people who understand the changes aren’t going to happen overnight. How about we assume the man knows what he’s doing, knows that sometimes you have to keep your thoughts and plans close to the vest, and has a long-range goal he’s not going to undermine just for an opportunity to snark the establishment?

      1. Carolinian

        No he clearly understands the problem and says elsewhere in the interview that the Democrats over time have also become too dependent on money. What isn’t explained is how this group of consultants and professional politicians is ever going to be brought to reform themselves. Why would they? They are personally doing quite well, even when they lose.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    Hoooooray for Hollywood! and one of its favorite liberal sons harvey weinstein. Apparently mr. weinstein, in his position as a powerful movie producer, was for sexual harassment before, during and after he was against it. His liberal credentials are, well, positively copious:

    In 2015, the year Ms. O’Connor wrote her memo, his company distributed “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about campus sexual assault. A longtime Democratic donor, he hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton in his Manhattan home last year. He employed Malia Obama, the oldest daughter of former President Barack Obama, as an intern this year, and recently helped endow a faculty chair at Rutgers University in Gloria Steinem’s name. During the Sundance Film Festival in January, when Park City, Utah, held its version of nationwide women’s marches, Mr. Weinstein joined the parade.

    Recognizing the error of his ways, he sought help from fellow liberal traveler and feminist icon lawyer lisa bloom, daughter of gloria allred and vigorous defender of Trump sexual harassment victims:

    Ms. Bloom, who has been advising Mr. Weinstein over the last year on gender and power dynamics, called him “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” She said she had “explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”

    But it would seem that liberals are new to this making amends game, and haven’t grasped the idea that cheapin’ out is very unattractive. Shame on you, harv. Go big or go home. Even roger ailes and bill o’reilly get that.

    At Fox News, where the conservative icons Roger E. Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were accused of harassment, women have received payouts well into the millions of dollars. But most of the women involved in the Weinstein agreements collected between roughly $80,000 and $150,000, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

    Why am I not surprised?

  16. Marcus Webster

    Thanks for the great find in that Olive Garden essay, which made my Friday! Incredibly, I find myself wanting to go try the fried ravioli, and just to see the inside of an OG for the first time in years. They’ve had a prime corner across from the mall in St. Cloud MN, the parking lot is always full.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ll hold out for the toasted (i.e. deep fried) ravioli from Rigazzi’s on The Hill in St. Louis.

  17. nycTerrierist

    Like. Good longread

    “Williams, 35, left Google last year, and is on the cusp of completing a PhD at Oxford University exploring the ethics of persuasive design. It is a journey that has led him to question whether democracy can survive the new technological age.

    He says his epiphany came a few years ago, when he noticed he was surrounded by technology that was inhibiting him from concentrating on the things he wanted to focus on. “It was that kind of individual, existential realisation: what’s going on?” he says. “Isn’t technology supposed to be doing the complete opposite of this?”

    1. a different chris

      So I read this sentence, and looked up DF YouTube.

      “He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube,

      What DF YouTube is cluelessly advertised as is an extension that allows you to watch YouTube without all the distractions.

      YouTube is exactly the freaking type of distraction you are supposed to be talking about in your speech. This is like stripping a grizzly bear of its odor and saying “problem solved!”. Man we methinks have reached Peak Smart Idiot.

  18. TK421

    I saw “American Made” and enjoyed it a lot. I think NC readers would like it, as well. It has a political tint to it and some warped humor taken right out of current events–well, I guess they are historical events, now.

    1. Edward E

      I haven’t watched it yet, but here’s a good one about the movie. Of course I could get much deeper into the subject and characters but I swore to lay off it.

  19. justanotherprogressive

    Re: Machine Learning’s Implications for Fairness and Justice

    Hmmm….allowing a machine to determine what is fair…..what could go wrong with that? Maybe that machines “learn” by analyzing data (from the past) for “patterns”. If those past patterns have inherent biases, then what the machine “learns” will also have those same biases.

    Just because a new technology exists does NOT mean that you have to apply it to everything…….that’s why people should control technology and use it only when it has value, instead of being controlled by technology.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Patterns inherently biased…

      Or you can shape a machine-learning robot by ing it selective data (I think that’s different from inherent biases).

      For example, a robot from a conservative family, watching FOX all day long, is exposed to a set of data that is different from the set of data a robot from a progressive family that reads NC to their robot kids gets.

      Let’s remember that, just because something is internally consistent it does not mean it’s true, though for something to be true, it has to be internally consistent (I think…here, I am looking at quantum reality or incompleteness theorem). So, one robot is not likely to catch hypocrisies in one family than another robot in a politically different family. And then, it’s possible we get right wing robots, and left wing robots.

  20. Andrew Watts

    RE: It is not too late to stop the break-up of Spain (and some stuff about America)

    It’s been interesting to watch the potential disintegration of Spain unfold. The Catalonians were subject to the same arguments that were levied against an independent Scotland when their referendum was proposed. The major difference was how the “King’s last argument” was invoked and force was used to attempt to suppress the referendum.

    The Catalonian secessionists are fond of pointing out that resources/wealth from their region benefits Madrid more than their locality but this is how nations work. Wealth is drawn from the periphery and concentrated in the core in every country. This process of redistribution is how nations build their economic infrastructure and commence other projects. In times of prosperity and seemingly limitless expansion this process is usually a success which binds the nation together. In an age of decline this process will threaten to unravel countries as national and regional elites struggle for control over resources. Which is to say the people cheering these events on should be mindful of the fact they could be cheering on the dissolution of their own country.

    This widespread existential threat of national dissolution will likely mark the defining moments our current era in history. Nor are countries like the United States immune from it. The current tax propsal under consideration that abolishes the deduction for local/state taxes would further drain and impoverish the periphery while further concentrating wealth in the core. Further heightening internal tension in this country between competing power centers while our empire collapses.

    It’s particularly hazardous when so many people are inclined to create and hunt for scapegoats to preserve some measure of their worldview alongside their desire for domestic tranquility at any cost.

  21. Andrew Watts

    RE: Someone is hacking NATO soldiers’ phones in Eastern Europe

    Any combatant stupid enough to bring their cell phone into combat risks earning their unit a Darwin citation. It wouldn’t be hard to direct artillery fire at precise coordinates of GPS-enabled devices that have been implanted with malware.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d say that “combat,” that beautiful shibboleth that activates all our manly and now womanly juices, that gets us all weepy for the Hallowed Dead and grim about “finding, fixing and killing” that unexplored archetype, “the Enemy,” is inherently “stupid.” Seen it in action a bit. But it’s what we humans do a lot of, what we are apparently wired for. So “stupid” goes on and on, to the end-game.

      “We” don’t even pay attention to the smarter ones among us, who caution against the very behaviors and approaches to “warfighting” that mark the current state of play. See, e.g., that Sun Tzu compilation, Suggest particular attention to the parts about the conditions, contemplations and calculations that must precede “going to war.”

      Otherwise, you get the triumph of the various forms of human stupidity:

      And might I recommend a book for those who get all warm about the virtues of band-of-brothers Combat Heroism and Sacrifice? “Where Men Win Glory,” by Jon Krakauer, about the life and death and abuse of the “sacrifice” of one Football Hero, Pat Tillman?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Enjoyed reading “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity” the last time I encountered a link to it here (posted by you, JT?). I do think those who would argue that Tillerson was wrong with his recently leaked obloquy should ponder rules #2 and #3, with special attention paid to area B2.

  22. Wukchumni

    Anybody else going to Hocktoberfest?

    You claim to own some foreclosed beachfront property in Malibu and drink beers on the beach there whiling taking out equity loans to be able to afford the services of a sand sculptor, building castles…

  23. Katz

    When there’s a deficit, some of that new money can be traded in for a government bond. What’s often missed in the public debate is the fact that the money to buy the bond comes from the deficit spending itself.

    This was the only paragraph that didn’t compute to me in the Kelton article. Can anyone give a hand?

    1. José

      Government spending increases “reserves” (a liability of the Fed, aka “base” or “high-powered” money).

      Primary offerings of Treasury securities (bills or notes or bonds) can be bought only with reserves.

      That’s one likely explanation for Stephanie Kelton’s sentence.

    2. Grebo

      The idea is simply this: if the government runs a deficit then the private sector must have a sur, as a matter of accounting. A sur means it has more money than it needs to spend, so it can save. One way of saving is to buy government bonds.
      The second sentence probably refers to the common misconception that the government must borrow, ie. sell bonds, before it can spend.

  24. Wukchumni

    You point a hand cannon @ a clerk in a liquor store and demand the $123.00 in the till and get caught, you’re looking @ 10 years in the big house…

    But if you steal billions by claiming all the mortgages on big houses were yours, nothing happens~

    Where oh where is our latter day Ferdinand Pecora?

    1. polecat

      Maybe some enterprizing soul with a crisper-critter deck-top device can wip one up to order … with the additions of bio-machanical armor plating and a magaphone larynx !

  25. Wukchumni

    JPMorgan no longer owned the properties because it had sold the mortgages years earlier to 21 third-party investors, including three companies owned by Larry Schneider. Those companies are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit; Schneider is also aiding the federal government in a related case against the bank. In a bizarre twist, a company associated with the Church of Scientology facilitated the apparent scheme. Nationwide Title Clearing, a document-processing company with close ties to the church, produced and filed the documents that JPMorgan needed to claim ownership and cancel the loans.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So, would that be:

    Dismal Scientology?

    1. Mel

      If you’ve got a cult it can be very useful to rent your followers out for temp labor. Once upon a time a friend of mine joined a Buddhist monastery. They had a gigantic old mansion in what was almost one of the better parts of town, and it cost rent. So every winter all the monks and nuns were working for H&R Block.

      1. Wukchumni

        My favorite bit in regards to Scientology, was they had figured out which book stores in NYC the NYT used to gauge book sales, and the flock would dutifully buy a copy @ the Crown Books in Manhattan, and then later return it to another location for a refund.

        If memory serves and it usually does, this kept Dianetics on the NYT best seller list for many years, until their gambit was discovered.

        They were just a Dimon in the rough…

  26. Kim Kaufman

    Here’s a related piece to David Dayan’s piece above:

    Behind JPMorgan Chase’s Bait-and-Switch
    According to lawsuits filed by investor Larry Schneider, the bank sold him thousands of mortgages—then changed the terms of the deal.
    By David Dayen

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The UAE Secretly Picked Up the Tab for the Egyptian Dictatorship’s D.C. Lobbying The Intercept. UAE has a slavery problem, so it seems odd that Center for American Progress would get involved with UAE lobbying. Or not.

    Should we regime-change all slavery countries, whether they allow us to have forts there or not?

    Do we proclaim their slaves free?

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    CONFIRMED: Spanish lender Banco Sabadell to move from Catalonia to Alicante Euronews

    A non-violence way to deal with rebels.

    All union-preservers should note that, though there are even better peaceful options.

    No mother wants to read about 22,000 casualties in a day.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Before Maria, Forcing Puerto Rico to Pay Its Debt Was Odious. Now It’s Pure Cruelty Counterpunch

    Focus the arrow not on the messenger.

    I’m talking about He Who Must Not Be Named.

    Not the person, but the idea.

    And the idea-cat is out of the Pandora’s Box now.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    CDB channels more than 50 billion USD to Africa in first half 2017 People’s Daily

    Wang Yongsheng, vice president of CDB, said Thursday that the capital has been used to support the development of agriculture, manufacturing industry, infrastructure and to improve people’s livelihood.

    Sounds virtuous.

    That’s how one spends new money, either earned by supplying the global reserve currency issuer goods and services at very cheap prices, or gifted with a lot of gold, so there would be no inflation at home or around neighboring countries.

  31. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    NKorean workers prep seafood going to US stores, restaurants AP (Re Silc).

    Please, tovarisch Putin, do not give comrade Kim any bad ideas.

  32. Solar Hero

    RE: Olive Garden

    When I was a travelling salesman, my colleague loved Courtyard by Marriott for the same reason as the author of the Olive Garden piece: it’s the same everywhere. I can’t understand this, I always booked little bed & breakfasts (almost always cheaper than the also-same-everywhere $135/night at the Courtyard) and enjoyed — even if my stay was just one night — a little bit of some local flavor and some individual inn-keepers aesthetics. Didn’t we once consider it fascistic, or at least base, to have everything the same?

    1. Wukchumni

      Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, is one last look at the country before the corp’se took over. It’s one hellova roadtrip, punctuated by stops @ local eateries, and he had a rather foolproof way of telling how good the place was before taking a bite.

      It all depended upon how many calendars were on display on the wall of the restaurant, the more there were-the better the food.

      Highly recommended!

      1. HotFlash

        Dunno his method, I will have to read the book, but when traveling in Canada and the US, I look for working pickup trucks (not the shiny ones) and cop cars parked out front. Bea’s Kitchen in Wiarton, ON — Bea herself pulled a pork roast out of the oven and carved thick juicy slabs off it with *real* mashed potatoes. Breakfast in Rigaud, QU, I recommend Especial #2. Sloppy Joes (two!) with coleslaw & potato chips in Someplace, WI — it was the cop cars that told me. Sunday breakfast at the Dutch Kitchen in Stayner ON — roast pork again, with perfectly poached eggs on top, home fries (actually, rosti, as I found out later). We just followed the crowd getting out of church. I’ll never forget that breakfast.

  33. The Rev Kev

    Re: Solving the Korean crisis with game theory
    Personally I very much like this sort of technical analysis as it is clear, concise and pragmatic. Unfortunately I do not think that it will ever be put to use. The Saker said that the Russians expressed their total disgust and outrage and openly began describing the Americans with a Russian word. What that word meant is literally “not-agreement-capable” or unable to make and then abide by an agreement. While polite, this expression is also extremely strong as it implies not so much a deliberate deception as the lack of the very ability to make a deal and abide by it.”
    This is pretty harsh stuff to say about a country, especially a country a great as America but it has become true. The US President is getting ready to bail on the Iran nuclear agreement as I write on the grounds that it is not in “the interests of US national security”. So the international agreement made, what, two years ago is going to be broken even though the Iranians are fulfilling their side of the agreement. This is not good. Are the North Koreans supposed to trust any agreement made with the US? How about trade agreements? Defense contracts and agreements? Right now Saudi Arabia is in Moscow seeking agreements and they are not the only ones heading to Russia. However much they disagree with Russian policies they know that agreements made with the Russians will be agreements kept. Apparently integrity still pays in international relations. Who knew?

    1. todde

      Our leaders can’t keep their agreements with the American people. Why should the foreign elites be treated any different?

  34. KFritz

    Re: Britain Has Never Faced Up

    “Nearly half of Brits think we should be proud of our colonial heritage.”

    I’d love to a see a study correlating this opinion with “Yes” votes on Brexit.

  35. Oregoncharles

    (Without reading prior comments, sorry, busy day, but I’ve been thinking about this.) On Brexit:

    “The future role of the EU’s top court in a post-Brexit U.K. has been one of the main stumbling blocks for the Brexit talks after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May promised to free her nation from the Luxembourg-based court’s power. While the British position has since softened, it’s not come anywhere near to satisfying the EU’s demands.”

    And: “Plan for a very hard Brexit, German firms told BBC” Yves talked about this in response to one of my comments; she said German industry = named in this BBC article – had already written off their expected losses from a hard Brexit, in order to make an example of Britain. (There’s an ugly admission buried in that motive; evidently they know they’re ripping off some members of the EU.)

    I think the EU is engineering a hard Brexit, for the above purpose. It might not be deliberate, but only if they’re as hapless as Britain. Yves has focused on the haplessness of the British government, and I agree with that. But it’s a two-way street; I also think the EU is sabotaging the negotiations. My evidence for that theory consists of the three issues put foremost in the negotiations, one of them the ECJ.

    The first is the Irish border. That is an impossible task within the rules – at least, no one yet has suggested a solution that wouldn’t damage both sides of the border. I think the only real solution is a fake border, based on a wink-wink arrangement between the two affected governments. IOW, the EU not officially involved. The EU has admitted it’s impossible by calling for an “imaginative” solution; when I got a little too imaginative, I was rebuked; no, neither side will allow a wide-open smuggling highway on the island.

    What does it mean if you put an impossible issue right up front in the negotiations? (This also suggests that the EU is perfectly willing to sacrifice Ireland’s interests, again.)

    Then there are the other two up-front issues. The EU position on both is an affront to British sovereignty – which, after all, is the point of the exercise. One is continued ECJ jurisdiction, at least over EU citizens in the UK. That is called “extra-territoriality;” it amounts to colonial status, as at least the UK and France would know very well. It’s the international equivalent of a deadly personal insult.

    The Brexit costs are a subtler issue. I grant that they may be based on prior agreements – although it’s odd that no one can come up with an itemization based on those agreements. The trouble is that when you leave a club, you aren’t liable for dues anymore. It simply makes no sense for Britain to be paying for an organization they have rejected. This is, again, a demand for a colonial relationship.

    In effect, the EU, it seems to me, is denying that Britain will ever really be sovereign in relation to them. Those are fighting words, designed to make the other guy pick up his marbles and walk away. So far, Britain has shown remarkable restraint, because they’re still hoping for a trade agreement. But by separating that negotiation from the above issues, the EU is preventing a quid-pro-quo. A good agreement would justify those dues – but the EU won’t talk about them together.

    I say it’s sabotage. There don’t seem to be any good guys in this story.

    1. Yves Smith

      No, you do not understand how treaties and national boundaries work. And as I have explained repeatedly, the EU runs under civil law, mot common law. It is very “by the book” in how it does pretty much everything. Even its crazy bank bailouts were threaded through its laws, while as we say with the AIG salvage operation, the US chose to ignore them.

      The only way the EU works is because it has laws and rules worked out in detail.

      And more generally, you can’t have the sort of porous border you are suggesting. This is an open invitation for all sorts of goods that do not conform to EU regs to be effectively smuggled in via the NI/Ireland border. Na ga happen.

      This is not sabotage. This is the UK being obtuse and dishonest and you buying their PR.

      This is the UK not having remotely thought through what it was getting itself into by trying to exit the EU when it had a remarkably favorable deal.

      As I’ve written repeatedly, the EU has been consistent from the very day after the Brexit vote as to what the boundary conditions were for negotiations, like no access to the single market unless they accepted the “four freedoms,” which the UK has rejected. You also ignore that the EU has made a major concession in even being willing to entertain talking about a future trade arrangement before the UK is out of the EU. Under a strict interpretation of the treaties, it can’t negotiate trade deals on its own until it is out of the EU.

  36. Oregoncharles

    “Emmanuel Macron sparks furore after telling protesting workers to stop ‘wreaking f—ing havoc’ Telegraph. Classy!”
    Much worse than not classy: he just told them they’re effective, at least that they’re getting to him.

    “We’re wreaking havoc? More!”

      1. ChrisAtRU

        Yes, indeed. Cool Centrist Brains like Macron’s are more used to a parting-of-the-red-sea type reaction where left and right impediments fall away as if fainting from the mere presence of that which represents neither.

        #LeCentrismeCestNul

  37. Propertius

    Any object bigger than a dust grain would cause uniform dimming across all wavelengths, study team members said. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens]

    “This pretty much rules out the alien megastructure theory, as that could not explain the wavelength-dependent dimming,” lead author Huan Meng of the University of Arizona said in a statement. “We suspect, instead, there is a cloud of dust orbiting the star with a roughly 700-day orbital period.”

    Unless, of course, they’re microscopic orbiting solar panels. Or perhaps a “civilization” composed of orbiting, solar-powered, von Neumann nanomachines (e.g., the “gray goo” remaining from a poorly-controlled nanoengineering effort). In some alternate universe, Richard Feynman is laughing about this.

  38. Propertius

    Once again I note that Privacy News Online seems to be incapable of properly configuring their SSL certificates. Somehow this does not fill me with confidence about their expertise in online privacy.

  39. Edward E

    Trump: “Only one thing will work” against North Korea,
    yeah right, China will never allow US military on its borders unless N Korea took the first shot, which is highly doubtful. Go invite the world to a party at the White House and see how many countries show up.

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