Links 3/1/18

National Geographic

Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate

FT

Handelsblatt

The New Statesman

Guardian

The Next Web (E. Mayer). From two months ago, but explains a lot.

Credit Slips

Brexit

Politico

FT

Bloomberg

LRB. The Tories…

Der Spiegel

Politico

Syraqistan

Moon of Alabama

China?

Asia Times. Good thing we’re able to play off Russia against China. Oh, wait…

India

FT

New Cold War

The Hill. Contra NBC’s anonymously sourced report.

Reuters

Handelsblatt. “[S]ecurity sources revealed.”

Andrew McCarthy, National Review

The American Conservative

Scientific American

Trump Transition

Reuters

NYT. From Apollo and Citigroup.

Marcy Wheeler, NYT

South China Morning Post

Axios

WaPo. Sabotaging the service to later calls for privatization; the standard neoliberal playbook.

Democrats in Disarray

Texas Monthly

Sex in Politics…. Not.

Mother Jones

Health Care

Heatlh Affairs

Gunz

NYT

The Hill

Guardian (TF).

Bloomberg

The Atlantic

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Surveillance Valley:

Today, I am releasing my full cache of FOIA files on Tor and the BBG to the public. They show collaboration between the federal government, the Tor Project and key members of the privacy and Internet Freedom movement on a level that is hard to believe.

— Yasha Levine (@yashalevine)

Science

Class Warfare

Ralph Nader, The American Conservative (2014, still germane). “Decentralists.”

Chicago Tribune

Bloomberg

PNAS

The Baffler

(PDF) Alain Cohn, Tobias Gesche and Michel Maréchal, University of Zurich Department of Economics. “We find that individuals cheat significantly more when they interact with a machine rather than a person, regardless of whether the machine is equipped with human features.” n = 866.

Antidote du jour ():

Bonus antidotes:

Sound On: Elephants rushing to greet a new orphan at an elephant sanctuary.

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar)

And:

2. Sound On: After being separated overnight, members of an elephant herd excitedly greet each other with trumpeting.

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar)


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.

158 comments

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Interesting Guardian article here on how the meat industry has suppressed evidence of the dangers of bacon.

    Health scares are ten-a-penny, but this one was very hard to ignore. The WHO announcement came on advice from 22 cancer experts from 10 countries, who reviewed more than 400 studies on processed meat covering epidemiological data from hundreds of thousands of people. It was now possible to say that “eat less processed meat”, much like “eat more vegetables”, had become one of the very few absolutely incontrovertible pieces of evidence-based diet advice – not simply another high-profile nutrition fad. As every news report highlighted, processed meat was now in a group of 120 proven carcinogens, alongside alcohol, asbestos and tobacco – leading to a great many headlines blaring that bacon was as deadly as smoking.

    And yet the evidence linking bacon to cancer is stronger than ever. In January, a new large-scale study using data from 262,195 British women suggested that consuming just 9g of bacon a day – less than a rasher – could significantly raise the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. The study’s lead author, Jill Pell from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University, told me that while it can be counterproductive to push for total abstinence, the scientific evidence suggests “it would be misleading” for health authorities to set any safe dose for processed meat “other than zero”.

    The real scandal of bacon, however, is that it didn’t have to be anything like so damaging to our health. The part of the story we haven’t been told – including by the WHO – is that there were always other ways to manufacture these products that would make them significantly less carcinogenic. The fact that this is so little known is tribute to the power of the meat industry, which has for the past 40 years been engaged in a campaign of cover-ups and misdirection to rival the dirty tricks of Big Tobacco.

    It clears up one of the things that always confused me – how nitrates and nitrites in bacon are so dangerous, when they are beneficial in vegetables (something the meat industry has used to spread false stories about its safety).

    1. Yves Smith

      Breast cancer? How about stomach cancer???? In populations that eat a lot of smoked meats and fish, stomach cancer rates are markedly higher. My maternal grandmother died of stomach cancer (a terrible way to go, you starve to death) and she ate a diet that was virtually guaranteed to give her cancer. Cured meat pretty much every day for lunch, most often baloney. She and her husband also ate bacon charred black (which is how people cooked it back then so as not to get trichinosis) and she liked hot dogs or kiebasa, again cooked so it was charred black, for dinner at least a couple of times a month.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I believe that the links between cured meats and bowel/stomach cancer are pretty much incontrovertible. It was the whole ‘nitrates/nitrites’ thing that confused me, as these are very beneficial for health. The article explains the distinction very well.

        Interestingly, in the article it mentions that there is evidence that eating the meat with high fibre vegetables could mitigate some of the impacts.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        Thank you for posting this. Just had a long discussion last week about nitrates/nitrites with a group of very health oriented moms. Most thought that the “no nitrates/nitrites added” label on “natural foods” meant there were no nitrates/nitrites in the food.
        Also lots of outrage about “why doesn’t anyone tell us this???”.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Because money!
          It’s the reason for everything.
          Money is more important than people.

          1. ArcadiaMommy

            Yep. I have received many FBs, emails and texts on the issue. So who knows. Let’s deal with bacon for now and then keep chipping away at the rest of the system. I actually feel like I got through to a couple of people!

      3. Mark P.

        Yves wrote: Breast cancer? How about stomach cancer???? In populations that eat a lot of smoked meats and fish, stomach cancer rates are markedly higher.

        Pretty much all red meat is problematic, cured or heavily roasted or not.

        The main mechanism responsible is a sugar molecule in red meat, Neu5Gc, that’s present on the cell surfaces of all mammals except humans. In a human body, Neu5gc stimulates a chronic state of low-grade inflammation, which then facilitates arteriosclerosis, cancer progression, and hemolytic ureic syndrome.

        In fact, Neu5gc is the only known non-human dietary molecule that gets incorporated onto human cell surfaces even after the immune system responds against it – so the immune response then triggers a repeating cycle in which the resulting chronic inflammation helps tumors grow even as antibody response is boosted.

        I like meat myself, but only eat it about once a fortnight.

        My maternal grandmother died of stomach cancer (a terrible way to go, you starve to death)

        My condolences. My mother had colonorectal cancer, couldn’t stand chemo and decided she would starve to death. It was pretty awful.

    2. Ted

      Since journalists are incompetent alarmist. This directly from the that summarizes the relevant study.

      Among women in the UK Biobank study, those eating any processed meat had a higher chance of breast cancer than those who ate no processed meat. The increased risk ranged from 15% (hazard ratio (HR) 1.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 to 1.28) for women eating up to 4g of processed meat a day, to 21% (HR 1.21, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.35) for women eating more than 9g a day.

      The NHS continues…

      However, these figures mostly reflected the risk for women after the menopause. When researchers looked at results for premenopausal breast cancer only, they found no increased risk for women who ate less than 9g of processed meat a day.
      After taking account of sociodemographic, lifestyle and dietary factors, the link between red meat and breast cancer disappeared.

      In the meta-analysis, researchers included 10 studies, covering 1,386,799 women, the Biobank study. They found: no increased risk of breast cancer before the menopause for women eating processed meat, based on 6 relevant studies no increased risk of breast cancer at any age for women eating red meat, based on 10 relevant studies a 9% increase in the risk of breast cancer after the menopause for women eating processed meat (relative risk (RR) 1.09, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.15), based on 6 relevant studies.

      For the statistically illiterate, the 95% CI means that there is an equal probability (95% of the time!) that the risk is between 3% and 15%. (note this is in no way a statement of causation, or it would be 100% 100% of the time, with a known causal mechanism) The 9% figure is what the algo is programmed to give you and you are trained to report (unless you actually understand what is going on) it is a meaningless number. Are you going to change your lifestyle to forestall a 3% or even a 15% late in life event? What would you have to stop doing if you knew every single one of the 3% to 15% risks for breast cancer late in life. What if many of these are correlates and interact to produce the risk, what combinations do you avoid?

      Me … I will continue to enjoy the occasional ham omelet thank you very much.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Nitrite-free (“uncured”) bacon is readily available,and very tasty. It’s still smoked, though. We keep it down to once a week, on the weekend.

      I really wonder about smoked meat being carcinogenic: our ancestors lived on it, since they cooked over open fires. It’s one reason our brains grew so large – makes calories more available. That’s why we like it. Wouldn’t we be adapted to it by now?

      Anyway, apple prunings make for a very tasty barbecue.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To smoke or not to smoke.

        And then, we get into this: to cook or not to cook.

        Or cooking above or below a certain temperature.

        So many options, or so many questions. Because living can be quite dangerous.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        My understanding is that there is no way that bacon is free of nitrates/nitrates. It would go bad otherwise is what I have been told.

        1. Chris

          Yes, but did you read the linked article? It suggests that you may have been taken in by ‘big bacon’ propaganda. The Italians have, apparently, been safely making Parma ham without nitrates/nitrites for decades.

        2. Oregoncharles

          It’s salted, smoked, and refrigerated. Probably doesn’t last as long as “cured” bacon, but it’s as safe as any meat. We just ate some “uncured” sausage – I checked the ingredients: no nitrates. We haven’t gotten sick from it yet. It isn’t pink, though. I’d name the brand, but I hate to post advertising here. Get it from your health food store. “Uncured” means no nitrates/ites.

          1. ArcadiaMommy

            If celery salt or celery juice is on the label then naturally occurring nitrates/ites are created by a chemical reaction. Celery salt/juice can also be listed as “natural flavor”. The level of these chemicals can be quite a bit higher in the “no nitrates added” stuff.

      3. Mark P.

        OregonCharles wrote: Wouldn’t we be adapted to it by now?

        Alas, no. A sugar molecule in red meat, Neu5Gc, creates a state of constant low-grade inflammation in human stomachs. See my comment to Yves above.

      4. Harold

        I think it’s also the salt in preserved meats that is bad. But better hypertension than starvation

        1. Oregoncharles

          Some people are sensitive to salt, some are not. And it’s a necessary nutrient, so quantity matters a lot. We eat very little salt – my son was told to eat more because his blood pressure was so low.

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        Makes you wonder what’s in modern day smoke…

        Figure 1:

        [gawd knows what volatiles] -> air -> soil -> trees -> wood -> smoke…

        Unless the industrial process of “smoking” involves no actual wood. Hmm…

        * * *

        From the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “”

        Burning/smouldering of saw dust (Fig. 38)

        In modern smokehouses (1), smoke generation takes place outside the smoking chamber in special smoke generators with electrical or gas ignition (4). Separate smoke generators allow better control of the quantity and temperature of the smoke produced. The sawdust or chip material (3) is moved from the receptacle to the burning zone (4) by a stirrer or shaker (3). It is ignited by means of an electrically heated plate or by gas flame. A smoke stripper, which is basically a cold water spray, can be placed in the initial part of the smoke pipe and serves to increase the purity of the smoke as undesirable substances are washed out. Smoke with a high degree of desirable smoke components can be obtained in the low temperature range of thermal destruction of saw dust beginning at around 230°C and not exceeding 400°C. The smoke is conveyed directly from the generator to the smoking chamber (Fig. 38(1), 41) via a smoke pipe (2). The burned sawdust is collected at the bottom (5).

        Smoke generation through friction (Fig. 39)

        Timber (3), which is pressed (1) against a fast-rotating steel drum (4) results in pyrolysis of the wood in the favourable temperature range of 300°C to 400°C. The flameless, light, dense and aromatic smoke contains a large proportion of desirable smoking substances and a low proportion of tars. The smoke is conveyed (2) into the smoking chamber. The creation of smoke can be commenced and completed in a matter of seconds. The operation of this type of smoke generators is usually carried out in a discontinuous manner. The smoke quantity and quality can be regulated by changing the speed and time of rotation. As this type of smoke can be produced at relatively low temperatures, it does not carry high amounts of hazardous substances such as benzopyrene (see page 40).

        Smoke generation through steam (Fig. 40)

        Overheated steam (3) at approximately 300°C is injected into a compact layer of sawdust (4), which causes thermal destruction of the wood and smoke is generated. This method allows the control of smoke generation temperature by choosing the adequate steam temperature. Impurities in the smoke caused by particles of tar or ash are minimal. The steam-smoke mixture condensates extremely quickly and intensively on the surface and inside the sausage products and produces the desired smoking colour and flavour. No connection to the chimney is required as smoke particles not entering the products settle down in the condensing steam. The condensed water is conducted to the effluent system. Other details of the system are: Hopper and conveyer for sawdust (1,2), smoke duct to smoking chamber (5), ashes (6).

        These processes remind me powerfully of biomass boilers. I wonder what the standards for “sawdust” are (because in landfills, “biomass’ includes stuff like construction debris). I also note that none of these processes seem to have much concern with the chemical composition of the smoke. Even using timber, which seems the least risky source, I still wonder what the standards are, and how smoke produced by friction differs from smoke produced by combustion.

        In short, we’re not looking at slow smoking in the cookhouse, with carefully chosen aromatic woods…

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” –Psalm 65

      So yes, and tendentiously, I doubt very much that it’s bacon qua bacon that’s the issue — surely our digestive systems and gut biota would have adapted to it, after tens of thousands of years — but modern-day meat processing.

      I think the Europeans have the right idea with the “precautionary princple,” and although seriously enforcing it would bring “progress” to a screeching halt, that might not be such a bad thing.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Laura Moser Shakes Off the DCCC

    So a Washington based organization is trying to tell Texans who to vote for? Let me know how that works out.

    1. JohnnyGL

      That’s hilarious….she looked promising, raising $150K since the start of the year…got smeared and attacked….raises another $87K in days.

    2. nimmpau

      The best response Moser (and all other DCCC internal targets) could have to this is to drop out of the primary and run in the general as an independent. “Hey, my party was actively sabotaging my candidacy. What choice did I have?”

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Independents have to do all the footwork and organizing themselves. Just because the DC establishment won’t support progressive Democratic candidates doesn’t mean they won’t get local party chapter support in the general, and that can make the difference.

        Even though the state party supports the New Dem candidate for TX-21, a lot of the local chapters have come out full-bore for the progressive. And they are very aggressive in that support.

        As long as we’re in the thrall of a two-party system, using that system is going to remain the best way to launch a new movement. I understand the impetus to throw a tantrum and go independent, but right now it just isn’t practical.

        1. marym

          Apologies here. It’s really difficult to get on the ballot for third parties. I’ve read a lot about that. I don’t know if that that’s true generally for independents. In this case in Texas, it looks as though previous party affiliation and filing deadline may be an issue.

    1. Carolinian

      Wheeler:

      Mr. Mueller appears to be assessing whether Mr. Kushner, in the guise of pursuing foreign policy on behalf of the United States, was actually serving the interests of his family and foreign governments

      While some of us would be happy to see Kushner behind bars this sounds like a charge that could be leveled at a recent Secretary of State or, for that matter, much of DC. “Personal enrichment” may not be the stated goal but those Congresspeople and a some ex-presidents and their families sure are getting rich.

        1. Kevin

          therefore, maybe it’s time to draw a line – the “they did it too” defense is getting tiresome.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Well maybe if we had a government that wasn’t rotten to the core. If the ‘Resistance’ types did ever manage to get rid of Trump, they’d just put up the old ‘Mission Accomplished’ flag and get back to business (graft and corruption) as usual. They would like us to think that Trump is the disease but he’s merely a symptom. You can get rid of him but the body politic is still riddled with cancer.

            If you want to go after all the war criminals at the same time as Trump – Bush, Cheney, Obama, Clinton, etc – and completely clean house, that would be one thing. But that’s never going to happen.

            ‘They did it too’ is not a a defense of Trump – it’s an accusation against the rest of them. And I’m going to keep repeating it, just like I have for the last few decades.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > “they did it too” defense is getting tiresome

            Makes me wonder how much of the open corruption is a function of a billionaire clan doing what billionaire clans do; as opposed to being a case of “Trumpian Exceptionalism.” After all, hitherto, have ruled through intermediaries or straws, rather than directly. So I wonder whether that is what’s unique about the administration, rather than Trump per se (who, I grant, brings his own personal qualities into play at the tactical level).

    2. Iapetus

      This may be purely coincidental but Softbank, which received a $45 billion investment commitment from Saudi Arabia, has over the last few months invested over $700 million in private tech companies which the Kushner family’s also own a stake in. Softbank’s investments since October include ($164 million), ($450 million), and ($120 million). Thrive Capital has a venture stake in , , and .

  3. timbers

    Sea Level Rise

    Satellite altimetry has shown that global mean sea level has been rising at a rate of ∼3 ± 0.4 mm/y since 1993. Using the altimeter record coupled with careful consideration of interannual and decadal variability as well as potential instrument errors, we show that this rate is accelerating at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2, which agrees well with climate model projections. If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, sea-level rise by 2100 (∼65 cm) will be more than double the amount if the rate was constant at 3 mm/y.

    65 cm = 25 inches or 2ft.

    Sea levels would rise by 2ft by 2100 assuming no acceleration from old data. Adding the new acceleration found in this study, tells us double that or 4+ft. by 2100.

    Now consider that this data is telling us acceleration is not constant but increasing. The study says in 25 years it saw the acceleration change result in a doubling of forecast. We have 3 more 25 year periods between now and 2100.

    Double 4ft is 8ft. Double 8ft is 16ft. Double 16ft is 32ft by 2100.

    Finally, consider while over long periods of time the sea level changes gradually, but interspersed over these long periods can be abrupt unexpected events that can cause short rapid rises the current estimates do not include.

    1. voislav

      Your analysis is pure fearmongering and misinterprets the data in the study. The article itself states that the acceleration agrees well with the model, predicting a 4 foot rise by 2100. The rise in sea level is accelerating at a constant rate (0.084 mm/y2), which should lead to a 4 foot increase by 2100 vs. 2 feet if there was no acceleration.

      You mistakenly and arbitrarily declare that the rate of acceleration itself is doubling every 25 years, whereas article states no such thing. The rate of acceleration is constant at 0.084 mm/y2. The rate of sea level rise is increasing by about 2 mm/year every 25 years (0.084 mm/y2 x 25 years), so going from 3 to 5 to 7 to 9 mm/year for each 25 year period (this is assuming the same constant rate of acceleration measure here).

      And this is without going into extrapolating 25 years of data over 75 years, which violates hard rules of extrapolation in every science other than economics. There is no reason to assume that the scientists doing these models are so incompetent that they would predict the acceleration rate correctly, but miss the fact that rise in sea level should be 32 feet instead of 4.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There are a couple of very clear and well written articles on the topic from John Abrahams in the Guardian – and . There seems to be a very high sensitivity as to when (if) carbon outputs peak. Half a metre may not sound much, but it will make the difference between survival or abandonment for numerous coastal settlements, not to mention all the other second order impacts that will cause devastation worldwide.

      2. timbers

        Not declaring anything or fear monger at all. Just showing one possibility. It’s just math after all.

        And no, IMO it is not confirming 2ft at all, as it notes it’s new prediction is 4ft because increased acceleration it captured in it’s study of the 25 yr period.

        If this this increased acceleration continues each 25 yrs….ergo….

        “Double 4ft is 8ft. Double 8ft is 16ft. Double 16ft is 32ft by 2100.”

        Sorry it this scares or frightens you.

      3. zer0

        “There is no reason to assume that the scientists doing these models are so incompetent that they would predict the acceleration rate correctly, but miss the fact that rise in sea level should be 32 feet instead of 4.”

        Actually that happens all the time. In this case, please enlighten me on how accurate you could make a model based on 25 years (aka, no time at all) of sea level data? Also explain to me how you will be able to predict a clearly chaotic, non-linear system (global warming)? Also explain to me how you would take into account the non-linear rate of polar ice melt, that just this year showed massive spikes when large chunks broke off and thus melted down at a much faster rate than previously?

        You cant predict it in any meaningful way, and it has become quite clear that recent events, like the Arctic reaching 3 degrees in the dead of winter, that predictions looking into the future, especially 80 years into the future, are senseless, pointless, and have no degree of accuracy at all especially when dealing with climatic systems that are chaotic and unpredictable.

        1. pretzelattack

          when did it happen? why do you think every single major science organization is on board with the science behind agw?

  4. Katniss Everdeen

    This one’s for Lambert. Watch Tucker Carlson defend paper ballots against, of all people, phillipe reines, who counters with bringing back “fax machines and carrier pigeons.”

    Starting around 3:35.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          When the likes of Pat Buchanan and Carlson are the truth-tellers, and we long for the health care policies of Nixon, the bank prosecution policies of Bush pere, and the military policies of Eisenhower…it just tells me how far the Overton window has moved. The BGMCPFKATD (Billionaire Grifter Military Criminal Party Formerly Known As The Democrats), I’m looking at YOU

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            And from the Berlusconi post: “81% of Italians mistrust the state, and only 5% say they have faith in the political parties”
            America, here we come

    1. JohnnyGL

      Good clip and nice to see paper ballots get into the conversation.

      At my town hall with Senator Ed Markey, he seemed open to the idea of paper ballots. A good questioner came up and asked about Kris Koback, inter-state crosscheck and Koch Bros.

      I cheered loudly at that.

    2. Massinissa

      The fax machine part is funny, because Japanese corporations still use fax machines extensively. Other places probably do too.

    3. Montanamaven

      I saw Tucker take down the Clinton guy and was going to post. Thanks! Phillipe Reines is an odd duck. Tried to overwhelm Tucker with spewing out lots of inaccuracies like “7 States voter registration systems were breached by RUSSIA!” And “Sony was hacked by N. Korea”. Tucker stayed on point by pointing out that you can’t hack or tamper with voting if you use paper ballots. Reines thought he really had scored big points by calling Tucker a Luddite for that old fashioned idea like “paper”. Coming from a state that only uses paper ballots and neighborhood church ladies to count them, I highly recommend paper ballots.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Nader’s article about the decentralists makes a nice companion piece to Dayen’s fine speech against our oligopolist-dominated economy. Time to dust off Proudhon and Jefferson, take a look at Tito. The crafty Non-Alignment co-founder initiated a program in Yugoslavia that gave out small parcels to citizens. On these lots, people were able to build structures that housed both their living quarters and a small business. it made for nice, walkable neighborhoods filled with butcher shops and bakeries, little convenience stores and neighborhood cafe-bars.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      As I drive by the squalid shantytowns wedged between (walled) compounds in Manila, I sometimes wonder what the residents might come up with for themselves if given plots with utility headers and some decent quality construction materials. Or would they (or local thugs) simply flog off those materials for cash instead, cuz weak social contract?

  6. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

    Mother Jones covering Alex Jones? What a hoot!!

    1. Jean

      It’s only fair if we get to read Alex Jones’ coverage of Mother Jones and their rich owners/editors doing their best to represent the Little People.

    2. Wukchumni

      I keep thinking Alex is going to spontaneously combust on air-being wound so tight, i’ll have to catch it on youtube post roast.

  7. Tom Stone

    Since the MSM seems to be unanimous about the urgent need to ban “Assault type weapons” I have three questions for the commentariat.
    1) WTF is an “Assault type weapon”?
    is this like porn, “I know one when I see it?”

    2) What are the concrete material benefits of doing this?

    3) To whom do these concrete material benefits accrue?

    20% of American children went to bed hungry last night and many millions of Americans are suffering and dying from a lack of medical care.

    Why is this less important?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      An “assault type weapon” is a gun, the only proper use of which is by 18-year-old american soldiers in other people’s countries to “traumatize for life” their children, destroy their quality of life and “protect” them from their elected governments.

      In short, it’s a weapon for assaulting only those determined by the american government or its “allies” to be deserving of “assault.” (Or for cops who don’t have time to wait outside until a suspect comes out of the house, and might encounter startled family members or barking dogs when they bash down someone’s door in the middle of the night.)

    2. marym

      1) Though many people don’t know how cars work, we have speed limits and vehicle safety requirements.
      2).
      3) Do you have any studies indicating whether it’s proponents or opponents of gun control who also support programs to alleviate hunger or expand the availability of healthcare?

      Australia has us figure out this gun control issue. They haven’t had a mass shooting in 22 years. Maybe they can advise on universal healthcare as well.

      1. zer0

        Ever been to a gunshow?

        I have, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that guns in America are here to stay. If we wanted gun control, it should’ve happened LONG LONG ago. We now have 270 MILLION guns in circulation. You will never ever ever get rid of them. Its like asking for another prohibition – you will move guns into an entirely black market economy, from a currently gray one.

        What Tom is saying is that there are other much higher priorities on the list, including basically anything dealing with America’s socio-economic divide, the Opioid Epidemic, etc. Do you really think it was guns that caused the shooting in Florida? Im more of the opinion that it is a symptom of a stressed out society, caused by numerous things including: drug-dealing as health care, unaffordable housing & education, wage suppression & lack of vacation/benefits, etc.

        The only reason American’s ever talk about guns is right after a shooting to show their moral righteousness, which we love to do and are great at. Admit it, we are a nation of talkers and hand-wavers, not do-ers, as shown in perfect clarity by the police that stood on the sidelines in Florida and in Las Vegas, until the shooter either killed himself or ran out of bullets. That should have been the real discussion: why are the police, that we pay for & whose job it is to defend the public, standing on the sidelines waiting for their retirement pensions?

        And I wouldnt use Australia as a great example, since they are (1) an island and (2) never had the amount of guns the US had, not even close. And 22 years? They had a hostage crisis in 2014 where 2 people died from gun shot wounds, and an incident in 2002 where a college kid shot and killed two students. And they are a population of 24 million.

        1. marym

          I misquoted the article in the . It stated no mass killings since 1996, and no “mass shooting sprees,” in the article’s terminology, since 2002. The 2002 “shooting spree” with handguns also led to a “new National Handgun Agreement, a separate buyback act, and a reformulated gun trafficking policy.”

          Australians also turned in 57,000 guns in an .

          I don’t think anyone claims no one will ever be killed by a gun if the US institutes more controls. However, per the article, in Australia, gun violence, murder, and gun suicide rates all declined.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s illegal to kill, and shooters still kill.

          If it’s illegal to own a gun or a certain type, shooters will likely still get them.

          But it will make shooting or owing those guns harder.

          What will also make being a dead victim harder is to have some ways of defending oneself, either high tech or low/old tech.

        3. dcrane

          “We now have 270 MILLION guns in circulation. You will never ever ever get rid of them.”

          While I agree that we’re unlikely to do so, if we were willing to spend the kind of money that was wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan we could bribe people to turn them in at thousands of dollars apiece over a short timeframe. Even more if we focused on the more lethal guns. Most of them would come in if we offered the dough. Of course, we would need to shut down the market too.

        4. Lead Bow

          Yes, you’ll never, ever get rid of the guns under the beds of USAians now. What you can get rid of is the ammunition for them. Stop its manufacture and clear the shelves of it overnight, as they did with alcohol in prohibition. Yes you can make your own, if you have the specialised gear and skill to use it, and get hold of the right chemicals for the propulsive and know how to mix them without blowing your hand off.

          Yes, there’ll still be a lot of ammo around but it will get more and more expensive on the black market, and eventually out of reach of 18-year-olds with a grudge.

          Sorry, there are no quick and/or easy answers but the longest journey starts with the first step.

        5. The Rev Kev

          Errr, those four people dead from gunshot over more than twenty years of gun control signify what exactly? I will let it pass that one of those deaths was from a police bullet in that botched operation. And an island? Come down here some time and walk from the east to west coasts. Should only take you a coupla months. And that gun buy-back scheme ended up mopping up about 640,000 guns out of about 18,000,000 people back then which was a lot.
          Look, I have a proposal that should be a win-win deal here. How about the US government announces their own gun buy-back scheme but only for students and ex-students! If a student or ex-students coughs up an automatic rifle then $1,000 or more comes off their student debt. Bam! Just like that. He doesn’t have to even own the damn thing. It might help sop up a lot of loose weapons and reduce student debt at the same time. Chuck rifles like AR-15s right into a metal crusher so that they never go back out on the market like we did. Sound good?

          1. ChristopherJ

            Thank you Kev. Americans dislike criticism from foreigners and definitely don’t like being lectured on how to fix a gun problem that doesn’t exist anyway.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              We Americans are living in the Foreign Meddling Age.

              Don’t if Mr. Mueller needs to be brought in here to determine criticism is meddling.

    3. Carolinian

      Experts can weigh in but I believe it has to do with magazine capacity. Hunters don’t need 30 rounds to kill a deer unless they are really bad shots.

        1. a different chris

          You would have to be a hell of an expert* to kill a lot of deer — blast the first one to smithereens, badly damage the second, call that a kill.

          The rest, as they scatter, will get hacked up and terribly wounded but probably still alive for awhile.

          *I couldn’t even come up with the right word.. .I was going to say expert “shot”, but that is a guy who gets dead quiet, aims, fires one shot and then observes if adjustment is needed. I don’t know what actually applies here. Basically the same comparison between Dressage and Bull Riding.

          1. Wukchumni

            Hunting is allowed in the Golden Trout Wilderness south of Sequoia NP, and to access it, you have to walk from Mineral King through ‘animal Switzerland’ & over Farewell Gap and down to where the deer are, about a 10 mile walk with 5,000 feet of elevation change. One time we pitched a tent not too far from the trail when it started raining hard on us, and when I woke up in the morning, there was a fellow with backpack on, with a bow showing, and he told me his pack weighed 35 pounds now, and if he got a deer, he’d have to cut it up and clean it and put the meat in a plastic bag and his pack would weigh closer to 100 pounds. Archers are allowed first dibs for a fortnight, and then black-powder rifles the next round, and finally rifles for the last couple weeks of the season.

            The denizens of the forest for the trees are well aware of their protected status in the National Park, and that’s where most hang out.

    4. Skip Intro

      Taking this as a good-faith question, an Assault Rifle is typically designed for military use for killing humans efficiently, and thus includes things like a pistol grip, high-capacity (>5) magazine, rounds with penetration power that is not useful for hunting game (unless it is in vehicles), among others.

      1. Jean

        Yes, the thousands of yearly killings in the ghettos of St. Louis and Chicago are “inefficient,”
        and are, BTW, illegal and don’t follow any laws.

        My Less Than Prime Beef, Mexico now has universal health coverage and is horribly violent.

        “August 15, 2012 — Despite periods of economic downturns and crisis, Mexico recently achieved a significant milestone – enrolling 52.6 million previously uninsured Mexicans in public medical insurance programs and thereby achieving universal health coverage in less than a decade.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I see denying health care as assaulting one’s sense of compassion/justice/etc, and also as an assault on one’s chance of survival/well-being/happiness.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I thought it would help, but as you point out, not the case with Mexico.

          It’s one case, one date point. Perhaps there are other factors, which may not be present in Australia or other countries elsewhere (say Europe or Asia), but may or may not be in the US (since we’re neighbors).

        3. Anonymous

          You can see a doctor in Mexico in a storefront building for a couple dollars. They don’t have the same gold plated system we have here.

    5. RUKIdding

      Why does working on gun control preclude working on food insecurity and hunger in both US children and adults?

      I get it that the US Congress is highly incompetent, but seems to me that they work on a variety of issues every single day.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In practice, though, they focus one at a time.

        Last year, it was Obamacare repeal, which they failed.

        Then, they dropped that and moved onto tax reform…which, unfortunately, they succeeded.

        In Australia, for another example, their universal health care was put in place in 1984. Their gun control, after 1996 (22 years ago).

        One interesting question one can ask, regarding the interconnectedness of life, is this: Does their universal health care contribute positively to the results of their gun control?

    6. a different chris

      I dunno* – how about if you can’t shoot a rabbit with it and find enough remains to make a sandwich then it’s an assult weapon. Hey! Here you go: I want to ban assault weapons because people can’t the hungry with them! Good enough?

      I think you have crossed the line into trolling with this, frankly.

      *Actually I do (Muzzle speed and bullet frequency) but WTF.

    7. rd

      I think an effective regulation can be written around the slug energy (0.5mv^2) and the weapon’s ability to have multi-round magazines and fire in semi-automatic, or modifiable to fully automatic.

      Big game hunters need a high energy slug but don’t need a 10-round clip, so single shot or 3-5 round clip is plenty. If you can’t hit it in the first or second shot, it is unlikely you will have another chance and have time to reload.

      A lot of big-game slugs have a large mass and need a large cartridge, so it is difficult to have magazines containing many cartridges. One of the reason that AR-15 (M-16) was designed with a very high velocity slug with small mass was precisely so that its magazines could hold lots of cartridges. The AK-47 slug is slightly larger, but still has high capacity magazines.

      So, an AR-15 is an “assault rifle” because it has a high energy slug, has high capacity magazines, and is semi-automatic (modifiable to fully automatic is bonus points). A bolt or lever action rifle firing the same round would not be an “assault rifle” although restrictions on the magazine size would still be wise.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think an effective regulation can be written around the slug energy (0.5mv^2) and the weapon’s ability to have multi-round magazines and fire in semi-automatic, or modifiable to fully automatic.

        Interesting.

        I still think licensing guns like cars is the answer; I agree we won’t get rid of them, even with an enormous buy-back program.

    8. Yves Smith

      To your last question, because the poor must suffer. The US is not a nice or caring country.

      Re assault weapons, I am told by someone who did a lot of time in the Beltway on policy stuff that the reason the US allows their purchase is a lot of former service members want to own the sort of gun they used in the military, some for sport, and others (not making this up) want to sleep with them. I think this account on Quora is legit and I hope any informed readers will pipe up:

      Where do soldiers keep their rifles relative to where they sleep during lights out? Does it change significantly between barracks and deployment?

      Once deployed in-country, it depends on your specific duty location, assignment and MOS. For example, I was stationed at a small FOB in Iraq. We had a gun safe in our HQ but everyone just kept their weapons with them at all times. I carried an MP-5, an M16 and a Glock 9mm. The Glock was with me 24/7 and I’d switch out between the MP-5 and M16 as necessary or bring both on mission, and that pretty much no one in Congress was willing to say “no” to former service members. . I slept with my weapons under my bed with mags to the side. My Glock would be in my holster belt near the top of my bed.

    9. ArcadiaMommy

      1. How about we assume that an assault rifle refers to a machine that is designed to kill people as quickly as possible? Most people don’t care what the technical distinctions are and just want the damn things to never be any where nearby.

      2. Why does anyone need to tell you what the benefits of getting rid of these horrid things are? If it isn’t obvious, then likely you can’t be convinced.

      3. See #2 – benefits accrue to society in general, not to mention the people whose lives were ended or devastated by the death or injuries these weapons are designed to inflict?

      I agree with your point that there are kids that need shelter, food, clothing, clean water, clean air, decent educations, decent housing… but I guess you don’t need any of these things if you are a gun victim.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        On #1, then, nuclear bombs are assault (type) weapons (if not assault type rifles).

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          You make a great point. Let’s start classifying weapons by their killing capacity rather then their caliber.
          “This AR-15 shoots x number of bullets per minute…each one is likely going to kill someone!”
          How many people can I kill with this gun per minute? or hand grenade? or RPG? other random missile?

      2. JBird

        I agree with your point that there are kids that need shelter, food, clothing, clean water, clean air, decent educations, decent housing… but I guess you don’t need any of these things if you are a gun victim.

        What I think Tom Stone was trying to say(and I may be putting words into his mouth) is that just about every negative indicator for our people has been getting worse. Every. Single. One. Homelessness, hunger, unemployment, illnesses, deaths by suicide, life expectancy, and so one, but it is the gunz that get all the attention, even though deaths by guns has been declining for decades.

        Speaking for myself,

        when the homeless population of San Francisco is as high as 1% of the population, and growing, when I can step out my door to drive and find small tent cities within 20 minutes just blocks from whatever fortified court house, or city office, is around, when evermore children are hungry it makes me angry.

        They do not get a fraction of the attention of what the gunz get… yet is the (usually) white school child victims of mass shootings who get the attention, not the black children who died in dribs and drabs, or all the deaths by opioids, which is greater by thousand of all the deaths by guns, or the white homeless children I see at the library already condemned to a life of poverty and misery. And of an early grave.

        I guess I am angry because I do not see my country anymore. I do see a growing nightmare, a horror, in which my nation is becoming a poor, corrupt, undeveloped nation much like those in Latin America. However, gun deaths, which are but a pinprick compared to everything else, and if they were to disappear tomorrow would change almost nothing seem to be an easy means of virtue signalling. The virtue signalling that not only is a tribal identifier, it seems to be a ring in our cow nose, a convenient way for our leaders to pull away from all issues that they do not want us to see.

        I guess I am angry, because not only I do not see my country anymore, I am sick unto death of this faux righteous virtuousness that solves nothing but does distract and divide.

    10. Gary

      Shoot a deer with a 30:06 and get a dead deer with a neat hole in it’s head. Shoot a deer with a Colt M16 1A and it takes most of his head off. High velocity cavitation of flesh is the difference. There was a mass shooting in 1978 in San Antonio at a Cinco DeMayo parade. I was there. The guy wounded 50 and killed 2. He was using a hunting rifle. Use an assault type rife and you get the opposite results, which is what we are seeing.

        1. scoff

          This doctor has first-hand experience.

          I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. Years ago I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat traveling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.

          Assault weapons are designed for one, and only one, purpose.

    11. Paul Cardan

      To the best of my knowledge, the term ‘assault rifle’ is a translation of ‘Sturmgewehr,’ a name that seems to have been chosen by Hitler for the StG 44. If true, he probably settled on that name because it sounds very aggressive, very forward-moving (as opposed to what was actually happening on the Russian front). So, ‘assault rifle’ might very well be a Nazi propaganda term.

      The weapon was designed to overcome inadequacies of existing equipment. Bolt-action rifles were inefficient in close quarters and their long range accuracy wasn’t much use in most real world combat scenarios. Submachine guns worked well enough in close quarters, but lacked needed range; seems their hitting power also left something to be desired. Enter the Sturmgewehr: adequate range, hitting power, and capable of fully automatic function. I’m not exactly well-versed in infantry tactics, but I imagine that rapid, large volume, semi-automatic or fully automatic fire is especially important for purposes of laying down suppressing fire. This allows for maneuver in the process of destroying select, fixed, enemy positions, the kind of thing that Sturmtruppen were trained to do in the latter stages of the First World War.

      Apparently, the StG 44 performed well, but it also appears that the Russians captured many thousands of them. It seems to have been an inspiration for the AK-47, though the latter is certainly not a copy (I suspect, for one thing, that the German gun is an engineering marvel consisting of many small, ingeniously crafted parts – the kind of weapon that’s difficult to mass produce and maintain under real world conditions). Granddaddy of them all, then.

      So, these weapons are not for hunting. Nor are they personal defense weapons. No one needs to lay down suppressing fire in order to out-maneuver home invaders in the course of re-taking a hardened position, like one’s kitchen (I’m told a shotgun would be a much better choice for “home defense”). It’s a weapon of 20th century warfare between mass armies of industrialized nation states, much like the heavy machine gun or the RPG. I’m pretty sure that the latter are illegal, and virtually no one complains about that.

      1. Lead Bow

        “(I’m told a shotgun would be a much better choice for “home defense”).”

        Can’t agree. You don’t need the range they’re effective over, they’re heavy and long, which makes moving with them in the close, cluttered confines of a home awkward especially in doorways, and firing one from the hip or chest can physically turn you, jolt it from you hands or even injure you. While I’m not in favour of firearms in house at all, if you are going to have one ‘for defence’ a hand-gun is the best choice.

        1. Paul Cardan

          I think the person who offered me that advice would agree with you, as he himself prefers a handgun for that purpose. His advice had to do with the person he was advising. It seemed to him that the shotgun was the best choice for someone with little training who didn’t want to do much in the way of regular maintenance.

          In any case, this just drives home the point that these are tools. Like all tools, they are best defined functionally, in terms of the job they’re built to do. Assault rifles were and are designed to do a particular job in combat. If that’s what some gun is built to do, it’s an assault rifle. And it doesn’t seem to me that it matters all that much whether the weapon is fully automatic. As it happens, operators of the first German assault rifles were instructed to only use them in semi-auto mode, since full auto resulted in rapid deterioration. So, the first assault rifles were, in practice, heavier and less accurate AR 15s.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Birds Sleep in Giraffe Armpits, New Photos Reveal National Geographic

    Would that be un-deodorized or deodorized armpits?

    My bet is on au naturale

    Like that Cole Porter song, birds do it, why can’t we?

    We’d be needing fewer plastic containers they come in, as well.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China senses and acts on US weakness in South China Sea Asia Times. Good thing we’re able to play off Russia against China. Oh, wait…

    We’re too strong, not pliant enough, in the Eat China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan to the north.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China senses and acts on US weakness in South China Sea Asia Times. Good thing we’re able to play off Russia against China. Oh, wait…

    We’re too strong, not pliant enough, in the Eat China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan to the north.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How Green Is Your Electric Car? Bloomberg

    I’ts not the batting average, but how durable you are and how many total base hits you contribute.

    That is, it’s not just the MPG, but how many miles you put on your electric vehicle, that determines the total greenness.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Given they have fewer moving parts there is a good chance electric cars will last longer than ICE vehicles. Which would reduce the energy impact of each unit. A rarely accounted for part of the total energy ‘used’ by a car is the energy used to build it. Longer lifespans mean less energy taken up in making new vehicles as the global fleet switches to electric over the decades.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s a good point, about how often a car needs to be replaced.

        A deplorable driving his clunker once a week, for a couple of miles, consumes less energy, than an electric car driver putting on 100 miles every day.

        If the former is incentivized to trade that gas guzzler in for a newer, more efficient car, that would trigger the ‘energy cost of a new car’ consideration.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Up to a point. Eventually the cost of replacing parts on a clunker outweighs the cost of buying a new machine (even second-hand) that will work right for 2 more decades.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            What is amazing are those American clunkers from the 50s that are stilling running in Cuba (last I checked)

            They only need to be replaced only every, at the minimum, 60 years or perhaps even longer…like 100 years or more.

            If an energy efficient car is only stylistic acceptable for 5 years, a person would need 12 such cars, at the minimum.

            The beautiful people may not agree, but polyester shirts from the 60’s are very green.

      2. a different chris

        Smokey Yunick made that point a long time ago.

        It always comes back to population, doesn’t it?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Artificial intelligence could identify gang crimes—and ignite an ethical firestorm Science

    To add to that firestorm, we ask, can it identify collusion with foreign powers, insider trading, election rigging, etc?

    And was it because the researchers forgot or didn’t want to ask those questions, or was it because the money people, the funding institutions, didn’t want to?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Artificial intelligence could identify gang war crimes—and ignite an ethical firestorm Science

      Fixed it for ya. What conventional wisdom deems to be a suitable field for AI and what not seems odd…

      1. JBird

        The criteria for being an evil-doer seems to be having some connection, however tenuous, to another supposed evil-doer. The police often do the same thing since people in poor neighborhoods are often adjudged as gang members merely for living in the same area, or being in the same family, or Facebook posts, or any connections whatsoever, just how is AI supposed to help? If humans can make such poor decisions, how can AI not do the same?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Gun Control NYT

    Would have been more stunning had he also proposed something similar to the UK as far as gun control for the police as well.

  14. JohnnyGL

    Hilarious. Basically, he got pic-pocketed.

    “I had seven bitcoins stolen from me through fraud,” Wozniak said at the Times’ Global Business Summit on Monday. “Somebody bought them from me online through a credit card and they cancelled the credit card payment. It was that easy. And it was from a stolen credit card number so you can never get it back.”

  15. edmondo

    “Democrats believe they’ve discovered the kind of candidates that could be appealing to voters, especially those in red and purple areas, one year- into Trump’s presidency: candidates who project stability.

    Think of Ralph Northam (military background, doctor, lieutenant governor) who won Virginia’s gubernatorial contest last November. Or think of Doug Jones (a former prosecutor who promised he could “work with Republicans better than Roy Moore can work with anyone”) in December’s Alabama contest. Or think of Conor Lamb (military background, former prosecutor) who’s running in this month’s special congressional election in a Pennsylvania district Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

    It’s chaos vs. stability. It’s reality-show background vs. military/prosecutor backgrounds. And it’s excitement vs., well, a little boring.”

    And we all know how well that worked out for them in 2016. Has Chuck Todd ever been right about anything?

    1. a different chris

      The mood of the country is such that a ham sandwich could have won Virginia against the “R” ticket. Maybe it needed to be a fresh ham sandwich, whatever.

      >”It’s chaos vs. stability. It’s reality-show background vs. military/prosecutor backgrounds. And it’s excitement vs., well, a little boring.””

      Does the person who wrote this need laid or not? I’m going with yes.

      1. edmondo

        I think he meant to say “It’s Medicare for all candidates vs. corporatists. It’s change vs. the same old crap we had from 2009 to 2016. It’s material benefits vs. corporate donors. It’s not gonna happen in the Democratic Party.”

        But if you want to keep on trying to change this club – go for it. It keeps you from running third party and that’s the important thing!

  16. Craig H.

    Birds Sleep in Giraffe Armpits, New Photos Reveal

    Today I learned something Peter Adamson does not know about giraffes, by accident, on the internet. Yay!

    (If you have never heard of Peter Adamson, he is a philosopher and the performer of History of Philosophy (without any gaps) which is like the greatest podcast ever. At least ten percent of his real world examples are giraffes.)

    Also oxpecker is a great name for a bird.

    1. Mark P.

      Birds Sleep in Giraffe Armpits, New Photos Reveal

      Giraffes don’t have arms, so giraffe armpits don’t exist. Legpits maybe?

  17. Jim Haygood

    With the four-week average of unemployment claims having dropped to 220,500 today — a half-century low — Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator powered upward to a fresh record high. Chart:

    A downtick in Bloomberg Consumer Comfort for the second week running was offset by strength in industrial commodity prices, leaving low unemployment claims to drive the indicator higher.

    Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now estimate of first quarter growth has eased to 2.6%, arguably a Goldilocks level that’s not too hot and not too cold. :-)

  18. integer

    RT

    Russia has developed a number of advanced weapons systems, including a nuclear-powered cruise missile, which make all US capabilities aimed at undermining the Russian nuclear deterrent obsolete, President Vladimir Putin announced.

    The latest advances in Russian strategic deterrence have made America’s anti-missile systems obsolete, so Washington should stop trying to diminish Russia’s security and start talking to Moscow as an equal partner, not the dominant military power it seeks to be, Putin said.

    The Russian leader made the comments during his state of the nation address on Wednesday. While the first part of the address was a straightforward description of domestic goals and achievements, the second became a defiant challenge to the US. Putin announced that Russia has successfully developed several new weapons systems, which basically negate American anti-ballistic missile capabilities.

    See the article for videos and descriptions of the new weapons systems.

    1. integer

      From the article:

      “You now have to acknowledge this reality, confirm that everything I said is no bluff – which it isn’t – think for some time, send into retirement the people stuck in the past and incapable of looking into the future, [and] stop rocking the boat that we all ride in and which is called planet Earth,” he said. Russia would be responsive if talked to as an equal partner, Putin added.

  19. Jim Haygood

    FED’S DUDLEY: FOUR 25 BP RATE HIKES `WOULD STILL BE GRADUAL’ — news flash

    Today newly-minted Lord Japewell returns to the Senate to make his case for Fed’s Gang of Four Rate Hikes.

    Incredibly the most important price in the immense US economy — the overnight interbank interest rate — is set by a committee, much as the former Soviet Union used to dictate the price of wheat, boots and potatoes. How did that work out for them?

    Pre-1913, periodic crises would spike overnight rates to 50 or 100 percent, properly pricing a heightened perception of risk. In turn, the illiquid and the insolvent would be carried away. Perversely, today crises provoke upside-down, lower overnight rates, explaining why it’s impossible to kill TBTF banks with their deep-pocketed, pain-immune sponsor.

    No matter artfully he poses as a disinterested public servant, Lord Japewell does the bidding of a gov-sponsored bank cartel.

    His job is to keep the likes of JP Morgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo afloat at any cost. Our job is to BUST HIS CHOPS for perpetuating the bank cartel’s century-long scamming of the American people.

    1. Wukchumni

      I reckon if they can keep the perpetual notion machine going another 30-40 years, i’m good to go.

      It’s checks & balance kiting, on a gargantuan scale.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Checks & balance, you say? Paul Tudor Jones is as skeptical as our good selves:

        Just think, Greece will have a budget deficit below 2% of GDP by the time ours grows to 5%-. The markets disciplined Greece for its budget transgressions; it’s just a matter of time before they discipline us.

        Discipline for special-snowflake America? Don’t they know we’re indispensable?

        1. Oregoncharles

          Don’t they know we’re “systemically important?” TBTF.

          Compared to the US, the Lehman Bros. collapse was paltry.

          We know that the US, as a currency sovereign, can always pay its bills – if it cares to, and possibly at a price; but then, Russia was when it defaulted, too. We know that, but our politicians don’t seem to, so it might as well not be true.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Trump will impose a 25% tariff on steel imports, and a 10% tariff for aluminum‘ — news flash

    Uhhh, what time is it?

    That’s right — 1930. President Smoot Hawley Trump just announced a Great Depression II global trade war.

    Sell like there’s no tomorrow — the honeymoon is over.

    1. Wukchumni

      I got in under the wire and was able to invest in aluminum yesterday before the tariff was announced, my holdings surrounding 72 ounces of hops soda.

        1. Wukchumni

          Didja know aluminum was once worth much more than all that glitters?

          Very rare in it’s natural state…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Also expensive are ancient natural Tibetan Dzi beads.

            From Wikipedia:

            Market value for ancient beads can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of US dollars – especially for beads with more “eyes.” Tiny red cinnabar spots caused by iron inclusion in the agate also increase the value. New etched agate dzi are also highly prized as long as they are well made, contain the traditional patterns, and are made from genuine agate without “dragon skin” or “dragon veins,” with a clean, clear look and luster and nicely simulated abrasion signs at the drill holes (these abrasions should slope upward, simulating thousands of years of thread abrasion). New dzi prices range from about ten to two thousand US Dollars, depending on quality and luster. Because of the high value placed on them, Tibetans would typically only part with an authentic dzi bead under very extreme circumstances, such as theft, confiscation by banks or government, or even murder. As a result, many Tibetans have started wearing reproduction dzi in public, out of fear of theft.

            They can come to the US, from Tibet, via Nepal or India, thus not be impacted by any tariffs on China.

  21. Tracie Hall

    Elephants rushing to greet the orphan? Maybe, but before I read the caption, my take was that they rushed to rescue it from enclosure.

  22. Louis Fyne

    Apparently researchers previously never studied the efficacy/outcomes of saline IVs and patients. TL:DR, traditional saline IVs bad for kidneys.

    ” Researchers at Vanderbilt University have a recommendation to medical providers: Don’t use saline in intravenous bags.

    Vanderbilt researchers found that patients are better off if given balanced fluids that closely resemble the liquid part of blood, rather than saline. The findings are based on companion landmark studies published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.”


  23. Oregoncharles

    The Simon Johnson piece makes sense as far as it goes, but I don’t understand why it accepts the EXISTENCE of “systemically important” banks in the first place. They’re obviously not in the public’s interest, or really much of anyone else who doesn’t profit from them. Why are they allowed?

    Granted, there may be a need for over-arching institutions, for instance to handle clearing; that’s what the central banks are, and the Bank of International Settlements. But they should be, at least, public utilities, and preferably government controlled.

    Size is the problem; why not jus tprevent it?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “If a bank is systemically important, it’s too big.”

      Though intuitively appealing, is that proposition in fact a reasonable standard? I seem to recall that back in the 1870s or so we had a ton of small banks, and plenty of panics and crashes.

  24. FluffytheObeseCat

    The Ralph Nader long read in The American Conservative is impressively well written. Simple. Clear. No pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook. It’s a very good link.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Nader is usually like that. So why is he reduced to posting in “The American Conservative?”

      (TBF – it may be to reach a different audience. For instance, Counterpunch posts him regularly, and the same article may appear there. )

      1. JBird

        Pat Buchanan and Thomas Frank are also good writers who have been excluded. It also has nothing to do with the kind of audience. It has everything to do on whither the management of the MSM programs or publications want them. The smaller organizations like Counterpunch still do, as do some overseas ones while Buchanan had to help start a magazine,the American Conservative, in order to write.

        Nader has had some questionable nonprofits, while Buchanan is not quite a white nationalist, but all three are good writers with often insightful analysis that does not fit into the neoconservative, neoliberal, or mainstream orthodoxy. They are either old school conservative or old style liberal progressive or leftist. Rather like my parents’ and grandparents generations.

        The Overton Window has pushed in both major Parties to the economic right of the last twelve American Presidents of the Twentieth Century; a reckless pro-war policy that no American Administration before President G. W. Bush and exclusionary identity based politics using race, class, religion used by both parties; the three writers criticize this. What they say about the pro-war, free trade, financial deregulation, economic destruction, political corruption, and the reorganization of the international regime are remarkably similar. So they are actually ostracized. They generally cannot get on a mainstream media program.

        1. ebbflows

          “Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him… Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.” – Pat Buchanan

  25. Wukchumni

    It’s been on the cold side here and it was a 3-cat-night & I woke up with one curled into my right armpit this morning.

  26. Oregoncharles

    From “”Artificial intelligence could identify gang crimes—and ignite an ethical firestorm”:

    “It’s kind of hard to say at the moment,” said Jeffrey Brantingham, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s basic research.” ”

    That is a lie, intended to deflect serious ethical questions. It isn’t “basic;” it’s R&D, development of a commercial product. Dr. Brantingham’s conscience must be bothering him, to lie about that. (And yes, it’s so egregious I think it was an intentional lie. If he didn’t know, he certainly should have.)

    Arguably, it’s an example of “research” that shouldn’t be done because the potential impact on humans is so large. They’re helping create Skynet, the real one. See “Woman on the Edge of Time,” by Marge Piercy. In that, the woman comes back from the future to assassinate scientists doing quite similar work, because of the way it turned out in her time.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Wikipedia: Woman on the Edge of Time (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976) is a novel by Marge Piercy. It is considered a classic of utopian “speculative” science fiction as well as a feminist classic.

      Note the date. I’ve now lived long enough that classic sci-fi is proving prophetic. Let’s hope we don’t get to “Dance the Eagle to Sleep,” which ends with a nuclear weapon on a mass movement – in the US.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Woman on the Edge of Time is a wonderful, wonderful book. I heartily recommend it. It’s the only credible utopian novel I’ve ever read, at least set on Planet Earth, and the only credible utopian feminist novel I’ve ever read, in that Piercy thinks through the “controlling the means of reproduction” aspect of achieving or at least approaching gender power balance. (Since these involve genetic modification so that men can breast, and artificial wombs for childbearing and birth, though not conception,you do see the fictional aspect.) The plotting is also terrific, as are the characters.

  27. Wukchumni

    ‘Pharmacy deserts’ a growing health concern in Chicago, experts, residents say Chicago Tribune
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    Any idea of how many people died in Puerto Rico post-Irma, as a result of specifically not being able to get their meds?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Los Angeles Times

      The short answer is that we don’t know but this is “suggestive”:

      The total number of deaths above average in September, October and November was 1,230, according to Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University who obtained the data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and conducted an analysis that he released to the Los Angeles Times this week.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Puerto Rico never had a well functioning medical system. I met a guy over New Year who runs an IT business from PR (he went back there in January). He said that when he arrived 2 years ago he had a skin rash and kept asking locals for the number of a doctor or dermatologist, and was greeted with blank looks and told that if he was sick to go to hospital, but only if he had insurance. It seems that nearly everyone self medicated, doctors were just too expensive and hospitals were for serious illness only.

  28. Anonymous

    California’s SB277 is a travesty. It is yet another step towards requiring mandatory medication of citizens to access government services. There are hundreds of vaccines in the pipeline for diseases no one has ever heard of. The manufacturers are depending on the government to make the markets for them.

    Do you really want the current political process deciding what you medications you have to inject into yourself and your children?

    1. JBird

      Not really. I also don’t want the current Big Medical to decide either. What’s your suggestion?

      Please keep in mind that the extensive and growing corruption in our political economy is going to deformed whatever is suggested until it is removed.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Berlusconi, Five Star and the Road to Political Gridlock Der Spiegel”

    Years ago, someone observed that Italy was the world’s only functioning anarchy. I note that it has the 3rd-largest economy in the EU, despite the chaos described in the article.

    And given German interests, Der Spiegel should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

  30. Oregoncharles

    “Kushner’s Business Got Loans After White House Meetings NYT. From Apollo and Citigroup.”

    Isn’t this the kind of thing the Dems should be focused on? The actual charges against Manafort are similar: financial peculation. Rather than “draining the swamp,” Trump and his people ARE the swamp. Big surprise.

    But hardly a word; it’s like “Russiagate” is a distraction from this real issue. It’s almost as if the Dems have an interest in playing it down.

    It reminds me of something: the Republican furor over Benghazi seemed designed to distract from Hillary’s real crime, which was negligence and incompetence. That alone should have disqualified her from the presidency, but the Republicans carefully ignored it, and Democrats got all upset when you pointed it out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Republican furor over Benghazi seemed designed to distract from Hillary’s real crime, which was negligence and incompetence

      “Actually,” Hillary’s real crimes are war crimes, which the Republicans would not wish to draw attention to either.

  31. Gorgeous Borges

    If you planned to launch an unpopular major war after the midterm elections, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to be dependent on imports, particularly steel and aluminum, from other countries. The Orcs behind Trump may be planning on a default backed by some major major firepower.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That would be a little more 11 dimensional than reducing our reliance on washing machines…though many come from the Korean peninsula. So, maybe it is more than what it appears on the surface here as well.

  32. rd

    Arming a lot of teachers in schools is a brilliant idea to make schools safer. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea.

    1. pretzelattack

      well obviously we need to arm the custodial staff and the cafeteria workers and the gym teachers. especially the gym teachers.

  33. Gorgeous Borges

    Trump’s supporters lined up behind him for the jobs and also for what seemed to them like a less militaristic foreign policy stance. Many STILL rattle on about his desire for a more balanced, peaceful multi-polar world! His alignment with Israel, early on, put the lie to that nutty idea.

    Korea is about to see some tactical nukes deployed against it. Propaganda on this issue has been very successful so most Westerners will support it. But Iran? You know they are going to want to flatten it — and that won’t be a popular move, internationally.

    1. integer

      Korea is about to see some tactical nukes deployed against it. Propaganda on this issue has been very successful so most Westerners will support it. But Iran? You know they are going to want to flatten it — and that won’t be a popular move, internationally.

      Unless North Korea attacks first, I highly doubt the US will attack NK, let alone use “tactical” nuclear weapons. One reason it is unlikely is that China has stated that unless NK is the aggressor, they will militarily intervene against any country that attacks NK. That’s a big deal.

      With regard to Israel, they may foolishly attack Iran in some kind of limited capacity, but I doubt the US will get involved. Israel may act like they are happy with Trump, however my impression is that they wanted a no-fly zone in Syria much more than the largely symbolic gesture of the US recognizing Jerusalem as their capital. Also, the fact that many, if not all, of the zionists are hardcore anti-Trumpers should tell you something.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      There was a correlation between Trump voting and service member deaths; unsurprisingly, since the Harvard and Yale types don’t do battlefield killing. Just spitballing, but I think the flyover states are tired of sending their kids off to die in wars we never win, and also having them come home damaged (and in many cases end up homeless). If I’m right, the best thing Trump could do is get out on the road and work the message of a “less militaristic foreign policy stance.” I think he needs to get out of the White House, and poking The Blob in the eye, or whatever Blobs have in place of eyes, would be a good thing. Note that Sanders, with his (bipartisan) Yemen resolution, is heading in the same direction. It’s not Trump who’s creating the war fever — that’s the liberal Democrats (and any Republicans who will follow them). IMNSHO, the danger is that he’ll go along with it. (Remember how the press immediately fawned over him when he did the drone strike on Syria? “Trump became President today” etc.) The danger increases the more he’s weakened, too.

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