Links 6/21/18

MPRNews (Chuck L)

Techdirt (Chuck L). Important for its implications for “disruption.”

Mashable. :-(

Scientific American

BBC. From their “Witness” series.

Bloomberg

University of Southampton Institutional Repository. Hah, explains a lot of what I’ve seen in the New Age community…

China?

Bloomberg

Reuters (Kevin W)

Reuters (EM)

Tom Dispatch

North Korea

Asia Times (Kevin W)

Migration

I am convening an informal working meeting on migration and asylum issues in Brussels on Sunday, in order to work with a group of Heads of State or Government of Member States interested in finding European solutions ahead of the upcoming .

— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU)

Politico

Inter Press Service News (Shane)

Der Spiegel (Shane)

Brexit

BBC

Guardian

Guido Fawkes

Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

Counterpunch

Times of Israel (Shane)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Daily Mail

Slate. Ugh.

Wired. Lambert: “Shout out to Yasha Levine.”

Caitlin Johnstone (flora)

USA Today

Imperial Collapse Watch

RT (Kevin W)

Consortium News (Shane)

Tariff Tantrum

Financial Times

Trump Transition

y Bloomberg

The Hill

USA Today

Reveal (UserFriendly)

Truthdig (UserFriendly)

Wall Street Journal

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. Important. Pat highlights the thesis: “There’s more at stake in these primaries than the November elections. The whole way the parties do business is in play.”

New Republic (Steve C). A regular complaint from Matt Stoller when he was a Congressional staffer was that Democrats did not want to govern.

Slate (Kevin W)

MinnPost

Washington Post (Kevin C)

Minnesota Public Radio News (UserFriendly)

Jonathan Turley (Chuck L). Only in America….

BBC

Financial Times

Techdirt (Chuck L)

AutoBlog (EM)

Reuters. Adrien: “See Coffee’s take on this..”

BuzzPoint

Class Warfare

Washington Post

Wall Street Journal. This sort of hand-wringing makes me nuts. There is tons of age discrimination against workers over the age of 40, with the result that quite a few of them who are willing to work wind up un and underemployed.

WSWS

Antidote du jour (John N):

And a bonus. It’s a bit long, but it confirms what I have been told, that chickens make good pets. I once saw a woman with one on a leash in a grocery store in Maine.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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198 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘Why Don’t You Like Us?”: ‘You up? How about a little late-night content from a guy on your soccer team who is the little brother of your colleague’s boyfriend?’

    Excuse me for asking this, as I do not use Facebook, but would this question be a real thing that Facebook might send out? I can’t tell if it is real or a joke by the author.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I logged off Facebook on March 5, and I have yet to receive a single email from the Borg. But I see quite a few YouTube ads that want me to create an account.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        The author didn’t log off, just stopped posting.

        I’m on FB, to a minimal degree; for me, it’s mostly a source of email notifying me of friends’ activities. But that means I log in often enough to see their posts.

        Reply
    2. johnnygl

      I saw FB taking out ads on regular daytime TV, yesterday. They must be feeling desperate about their image.

      Reply
    3. flora

      Here’s a very good 20 minute interview with Jaron Lanier, a founding father of the field of virtual reality.

      Jaron Lanier interview on how social media ruins your life

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Well, it certainly “ruined” the life of Mallory Grossman.

        Link above: New Jersey school sued over bullied girl’s suicide BBC

        Reply
        1. Roger Smith

          I really wish people would quit reinforcing the idea of the internet as absolute truth. I grew up with the advent of the modern social internet. One frequent stop was AOL chatrooms which were always full of people messaging one another random slanders or what have you. I knew to take the internet with lots of salt and that seemed to be the general modus operandi… until cyber bullying became a profitable enterprise. Modern social media is a touch more personal in that it gives people you have regular physical with a digital connection to you, and therefore all of the freedom of expression (you could say) that comes by virtue of being on the internet, however I still think the appropriate response is to not promote this false reality as “UBER REAL, THREATENING, SPOOKY”.

          Reply
    4. cyclist

      As someone who never had a FB account (or participated in any social media) I thought that article might be interesting or amusing, but frankly after reading a few of the messages sent by FB, I couldn’t be bothered. It was really tedious. Does this really suck people in?

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        ‘Does this really suck people in?’ — Reasonably well-adjusted people who enjoy participating IRL, no. But this sort of thing isn’t targeted at them, it’s targeted specifically at FB addicts trying to quit. It’s like wafting the smell of cooking heroin in the direction of a trying-to-quit addict.

        Reply
    5. Lord Koos

      If you take a break from FB for a week or so, they start sending you occasional “reminder” emails to try to suck you back in to a daily routine. If you actually delete your account, there are no emails.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I had only been there once to set up (but never completed it) an account…years ago.

        But I dread to go back, fearing this might trigger something worse (why not let the sleeping FB lie)? So, I can’t even delete my account.

        This leads me to another question today (everyday, I have many unanswered question – c’est la vie) – why can’t we we have another identity, if we owe no taxes, no credit cards, inventing no false resume and are not expecting future Social Security payments?

        I understand the charge of deceiving others, but if done not intending to do that, but just wanting to be new again. Can you be said to be deceiving in that case? Is it the fault of a woman walking down a street and men getting excited (because they perceive the woman to be excitable)? Of course, it’s not her fault. Is it your fault to put on a new identify (which is not in use by anyone in the world, past or present) in that case, while not intending to deceive anyone?

        Reply
  2. hemeantwell

    Re the Scientific American article on dissociative disorder, in their leap into speculation about “cosmopsychism” the authors overlooked the idea that from birth we are presented with “objects,” parents, who present themselves to us over time as increasingly coherent, organized bundles of traits. If they do so in a strongly coercive — aka terrorizing — fashion, we can organize ourselves in relatively coherent trait bundles in a desperate attempt to get along. Once that process, known as splitting, gets going it may become the defensive organizer of choice, constantly separating off states that might bring disaster from states that seem safe. Higher level defenses like rationalization and suppression never have room to take shape. The supposed ‘badness’ of the self that brings terror has to be gotten rid of, fast. The dissociated “self” actually epitomizes what is so mistaken about the usual take on the notion of the self. It is fundamentally determined by experiences and fantasies of others and our maneuvers to live with them. Those others are always with us. Psychogenic debility — most often “stupidity” in the service of (mal)adaptation — can be part of the defensive picture.

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      that was such a good article. I think conditioning is the sociative aspect that offsets our dissociative possibilities. But even that begs the question. So does Roger Hameroff’s theory about micro-tubules being the site of consciousness. The conclusion the authors give us – that consciousness is manifested in and by living metabolisms and they react to a smorgasbord of possibilities at maybe the quantum level makes good sense. Much like the young physicist from MIT who came out with the spontaneous creation theory that all creation is a result of entropy, and the dissipation of energy into ever evolving life forms.

      Reply
      1. susan the other

        also about the recent study of photosynthesis. definitions are getting finer and finer. now there is chlorophyll a and chlorophyll f. “a” works in direct sunlight (actually red light) while “f” works in the shade so a longer wavelength. I think there must be an oxygen connection because I have now noticed that when I paint with phthalo blue (phthalocyinine blue) it separates when it dries but I don’t see the two colors simultaneously. In the morning in full sunlight I see green; in the late afternoon I see magenta. Weirdness.

        Reply
  3. zagonostra

    I was wondering if any of the NC readers caught Democracy’s full hour interview with Seymour Hersh? I occasionally drop in on DN to see what Amy’s covering and was glad she had Hersh on. What kind of blew my mind was that it was, in addition to promoting Hersh’s new book, on the Media and she didn’t even mention Assange.

    What also blew my mind is she showed a clip of Kissinger with Trump, but she assiduously avoided mention HRC embrace of Kissinger during 2016 election.

    It’s these kinds of glaring ommisions that make me wonder if the “Left” has lost its focus/purpose/scruples (obviously a rhetoric question)

    Reply
    1. JCC

      I listened to DN pretty regularly for years during the mid-2000’s (the station carrying her was my “alarm clock” and I was too lazy to change the channel). At first I enjoyed Amy’s choice of interviewees, people I rarely heard from at length within MSM, and I would often follow up with other sources to verify her take on various themes she promoted. But after awhile I started noticing that she, like many others, had a vaguely hidden agenda when it came to D.C. politics.

      The example above is typical, mention Kissinger in the same sentence with Trump or Bush, but never with HRC. Soften the voice when talking about Obama’s attempts at heroism, but be as stridently obnoxious as possible when talking about Bush, etc. I was no fan of Bush (or Obama for that matter) but personally, her style wore me out after awhile.

      She still has good interviews, but she is not nearly as “left” as she pretends to be, or to put it another way, I wouldn’t use her as an example of the Left losing it’s focus. She is just barely on the Left when it comes to daily D.C. politics… unless you consider the Democrats to be a legitimate Left.

      Reply
      1. Shane

        I used to use DN’s daily (weekday) headlines in a similar manner to Links here, when I didn’t have the time to take a deeper dive, but I’ve stopped checking in since they started covering Syria, 100% toeing the MIIC propaganda line. IMO, if you’re unable to discern that those lies are bull excrement, you’re not a real Left news organization.

        I saw via a link from another site that she had interviewed Hersh but haven’t watched it. Since he’s one of the very best on Syria in the West, can anyone who’s seen the interview speak to whether that topic is discussed? It would hardly be surprising, if not for the fact that you could discuss so many topics with him as a real authority. (Can’t wait to get started on Reporter, which I finally downloaded last night.)

        Reply
          1. Whoa Molly!

            Here is link to full hour DN show with Hersch.

            (My youtube app doesnt want to give me 6 sequential Hersch clips)

            I just started reading Hersh book Reporter. For small bites of info, Hersh DN video is immediate and compelling.

            Reply
    2. SimonGirty

      We’ve actually been proselytizing Amy up lately, especially her coverage of Gaza, Puerto Rico and DCCC stomp-down of promising political candidates by the tag-team kleptocrats, corporate media and Yuppie Liberals. I remember interviews with Assange, where Amy got plenty pissed that he wouldn’t let her talk over this or that pertinent point he was trying to get out (over her show’s typically abysmal audio link). But, she’s had so many GREAT folks on these hour discussions of topics intentionally buried, straw-manned or red herring’d pretty much everywhere else, with actual journalists, pathetically honest politicians, persecuted truth-speakers and flat-out heros… I’m pretty uniformly amazed to see her still on the air each morning?

      Great choice of articles, this morning… THANK you!

      Reply
      1. Harold

        I just looked at transcripts of DN about certain aspects of our foreign policy and I find Amy Goodman’s bland generalities and studied neutrality very curious. I was also surprised to see In Our Times, the leftist publication, giving a platform to Timothy Snyder’s exhortation to “Bookmark PropOrNot and other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.”

        Reply
        1. SimonGirty

          “Leftist publication,” in ‘Murika? There used to be some pretty interesting starving voices in the wilderness of the various lefty blogs; as local media got amalgamated by rich folks, or whistle-blowers realized the impossibility of maintaining anonymity, as public & private sectors silenced dissent… while the public glazed, dead-eyed. This pretty much ended with David Brock’s CTR trolls, banning everysomebody from the lefty blog aggregators, replacing them with K Street sock puppets. Let’s see this covered on some community cable outlet straight out of, “They Live?”

          Reply
    3. cyclist

      Have a look at the June 2018 Harper’s excerpt from Hersh’s book. It discusses how he came to discover the identity of Lt. Calley and how he eventually found him. What struck me was how he was able to roam around the barracks, PX, etc at Fort Benning asking questions – no doubt that he would quickly be locked up as a terrorist if he tried to do this today.

      Reply
    4. pcraig

      I was with DN from the start (I bought a hat!). They lost me when they reported on the White Helmets and Syria ‘MSM stenography style’; no apparent investigating. So I sent them an e-mail suggesting they Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley or Patrick Henningsen for some informed journalism. (Of course DN’s website makes it clear that they get so many e-mails they can’t respond to any). Amy just fell in love with the White Helmets and I became very critical of her lazy “talk about blah blah” authoritarian interview style and her audible swallowing in the middle of sentences. I tossed DN on my growing stinky pile of pundits, politicians and web sites that were Democrat party establishment HRC apologist pimp-hos. Thanks for the heads up about the Hersh interview, I’ll chekitout.

      Reply
    5. Nealser

      I’m a regular viewer of Democracy Now with my breakfast. There are things to criticize like their Syria coverage in the last couple of years which was one sided. However they do a huge national service covering stories that MSM pass over regularly. For example they were covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protests long before the rest of the media.

      Reply
      1. GF

        DN initially was giving the MSM take on the events in Nicaragua. Two days ago she had the Nicaraguan Government Minister Paul Oquist on to give the Nicaraguan perspective. IMO the questions were not as pointed as they should have been:

        However, they taped a “Web Exclusive” afterwards and it was posted yesterday:

        The questions were much more relevant to the crisis. They even wanted to ask more questions than the minister was willing to sit through. It may be that the main show tries to appeal to a broader audience. The web exclusives can get to the meat of the matters. Also, Amy seems to try, when reading the headlines, to not present any opinionated language. Just presenting straight news. I like that personally.

        I have also noticed that the News Hour has begun to have in depth stories that MSM outlets won’t cover – not all the segments but one or two a night and the weekend version can be very informative covering in depth “controversial” topics.

        Reply
        1. zagonostra

          What is your take when she shows Kissinger with Trump but eschews mention of HRC’s enthusiastic embrace during the 2016 elections? I used to stream DN! during dinner each night, now I look to alternative media and occasionally stop in to see what they are reporting on over there at the DN.

          Reply
          1. GF

            Her reading of Anthony Bourdain’s take on Kissinger (“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia—the fruits of his genius for statesmanship—and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milosevic.”) on yesterday’s show along with Hersh’s recollections of Kissinger kind of puts the right perspective on Kissinger’s legacy while not mentioning Clinton – an obvious sin of omission.

            She did have Jill Stein on several times during the election cycle. I voted for Stein because of those interviews allowing Stein to fully express her vision of America’s future. Hillary was always a non-entity to me.

            Reply
          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            What is the point of showing Hillary with Kissinger now in relation to Trump? The election was two years ago. Going back to the 2008 primaries, Hillary had virtually no votes with the 30 and under crowd and had virtually no votes with the 38 and under crowd in 2016 in the primaries. The Clintons are done. All they can be is impediments to progress. Republicans will simply beat them. The “New Democrats” are simply living off a quirky election win which coincided with the JFK generation of Democrats receding from public life, leaving a left power vacuum. They had a better organizing effort, believe it or not, in 2016 and faced a much weaker challenger.

            If DN is using the pictures of Trump and Kissinger to pimp Democrats who embraced Hillary as the most qualified candidate in the history of ever its one thing, but outside of her position as Obama’s Secretary of State and the road to Trump, she is a footnote in American history who held an out sized public persona who will largely be remembered for destruction and throwing up obstacles to leftist or more liberal goals anyway. Yes, she was the deciding vote for Libya, but the story is Obama cowardly holding a vote of his advisers and basing his final decision on the swing vote of a person who has Presidential ambitions and needs to justify her pro-Iraq vote.

            Its important to not pretend returning Democrats to power will simply result in rainbows and unicorns. In the end, harping on Hillary matters for the purposes of preventing bad Democrats from being gifted power or to prevent them from being allowed to excuse their perfidy over the years in the eyes of voters who don’t have the time or other resources to be aware of this narrative.

            Reply
            1. zagonostra

              I hope you are right and that HRC is a “footnote in American History.”

              If you were watching the show, as Bourdain’s quote (thanks for posting GF) was being read you would have seen images of Trump (not looking very happy) sitting with Kissinger. My point is that DN could have also shown images of HRC affectionately embracing Kissinger as well. The decision not to show those images dilutes DN!’s credibility.

              It’s not really harping on Hillary that is the point, it is holding the establishment Democratic party accountable for daring to dress the devil as a diplomat and taking DN! to task for missing an opportunity to call both Political Parties out as perfidious, to borrow your word.

              Reply
  4. cnchal

    From Reuters –

    “Jobs for the Chinese are just as precious as those for the Americans,” Zha Daojiong, a professor of international political economy at Peking University, told Reuters in an email.

    “It will be wise for the two sides to come back to the negotiation table, abide by a temporary agreement and turn down the rhetoric.”

    Beijing has yet to set a tariff activation date for the remaining 114 U.S. products, which include crude oil, coal and a host of refined fuel products.

    “We cannot be soft with Trump. He is using his ‘irrationality’ as a tactic and he is trying to confuse us,” said Chen Fengying, an economics expert at state-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

    “But if we could accomplish some of the things that he wants us to do – such as IP, market reforms, he’d be helping us. Of course there are risks, those would depend on how we handle those reforms.”

    Trump is using the madman tactic, but what is the real goal? Jawbs for the peasants? Just kidding.

    I suspect the real goal is “market reforms” so Wall Street fraudsters can roto-rooter the Chinese peasants. The Chinese elite are even on board. Expect the trade war to be over when Wall Street starts to run their frauds in China.

    Reply
    1. Steve H.

      According to Qiao Liang in ‘One Belt, One Road’ Chinese elites are not on board with Wall Street. His view is that it’s about time for the US to instill fear and drive capital out of China to set up raids, but it won’t work because China has been setting up to move away from the dollar.

      Re-reading the piece, I was struck by the current nervousness about Alphabet and its working with China, especially considering MIC support for Alphabet and Fcbk. China has instituted its own social network * credit system, and Quia Liang hints at a changing relationship with money. It could be seen as an attack on the nature of capital, and with the American economy being 2:1 finance/tech to all the rest, Alphabet playing footsie with competitors in the World Game could harbing a genuine threat to Fed dominance. By definition, multinationals are not nationalistic.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am more surprised by the lack of nervousness on the part of China working with known US MIC associates like Alphabet and Facebook.

        Is it counter-intelligence or counter-counter-intelligence…or even more convoluted?

        Reply
        1. Shane

          Seems to me both nations could rightfully be fearful for the reasons you describe, while Alphabet and Facebook believe themselves above it all, subscribing to the theory of “no peoples, no nations, only corporations” expounded in the classic scene in Network.

          Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Zha’ s take is slightly different from the ministry’s one. From the first sentence of the link:

      China’s commerce ministry on Thursday accused the United States of being “capricious” over bilateral trade issues, and warned that the interests of U.S. workers and farmers ultimately will be hurt by Washington’s penchant for brandishing “big sticks”.

      That’s election meddling, a foreign government ministry inciting American farmers and workers to pressure elected US officials.

      Yesterday, there was a comment or a quote about Beijing feeling advantageous because of its ‘totalitarian’ system. This is an attempt to exploit that.

      Beijing has yet to set a tariff activation date for the remaining 114 U.S. products, which include crude oil, coal and a host of refined fuel products.

      Again, a question that can be asked is this: Is Zhongnanhai not setting an activation date because its leadership is thinking of how much they can damage the global economy and world workers, or is it because they have a weak hand?

      As for the Chinese elites giving in to the US elites, that itself is a suggestion for, not market reforms per se, but political reforms.

      Nothing can speak out louder. But we don’t say or ask for that – that would be political interfering by people here in America. Events on the Go board themselves suggest that.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      It is not just a China and US dispute. Counter-tariffs are spreading around the world against the US and its not funny anymore-

      And you know what they say in Washington. A billion here, a billion there – pretty soon you are talking about serious money.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They have to wait for a second round from the US.

        Will they, like China, hold off on activating their second responses (either because their leaders are more enlightened than Trump, or because they are not able to)?

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          Reporting on this issue is more opaque than usual. It’s impossible for a casual reader to know what the actual status of the many tariffs is. Are they in effect? Are they proposed? Are they being drafted? Are they threatened but not formalized? Have the Chinese actually begun charging the tariffs on soybeans? Are the Americans actually charging the tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Japan? Are the Canadians actually charging the tariffs on dairy products from America? Who is actually doing something to whom else? I need chocolate.

          Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem”

    I think that that was a misquote. It should have read “China Just Handed the World its 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem Back to it Again”. There, all fixed.
    Seriously, we should cut back on all disposable plastic production to near zip if we can. It will save on bigger headaches down the track. Things will just have to be reset to the way it was a few decades ago before disposable plastic became widespread. We’ll just have to get use to it again.

    Reply
    1. purplepencils

      yep. an incredibly grating headline, but of course — problem’s always with someone else (and if it can be China/Russia/Iran all the better)!

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does anyone know if disposable cups from China are on Trump’s tariff list?

      In nature, ‘completing the cycle’ happen often…though we don’t know if they come from refined Chinese or imported oil…the ultimate origin.

      Reply
    3. JerryB

      Rev- I have been engaged in a comments discussion with a NC commenter in a previous NC post, http://cfdtrade.info/2018/06/us-japan-decline-endorse-g-7-ocean-plastics-charter.html.

      If I understand correctly the other commenter believes that the focus on plastics is blown out of proportion and we should focus on bigger issues like Arctic Ice melting. You and others can read my thoughts in that discussion.

      One thing I will add is in the focus on Arctic Ice melting, plastics is a significant contributor. Why? What people do not see it the infrastructure needed to make plastic parts. The plastic parts are the tip of the iceberg.

      First plastic resin is made by the chemical industry through the polymerization process which is very energy intensive. Secondly most plastic parts are injection molded. Injection molding machines are huge machines that generate 50 to 1100 tons of clamp force on a mold and uses heaters to heat the plastic to between 300 – 700 degrees F. How does that happen? Huge amounts of energy, i.e. electricity. How is most of the electricity produced? Coal power plants. What contributes to global warming and Arctic Ice melting? Coal.

      Lastly the world’s water supply is becoming a scarce resource. Most plastic parts are cooled in the mold. What cools the mold? Lots and lots of water.

      In my comments in the other post I mention the book The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on Earth. It was either in that book or some other source that listed injection molding as one of the top energy intensive manufacturing technologies.

      A hat tip to Jerri-Lynn Scofield and her posts at NC on the plastics issues. There is a lot more info in her posts.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Would using alternate products consume less energy?

        That’s one test.

        “This stainless bowl for the dog vs. a plastic bowl.”

        The other test is ‘do we need to buy a new one at all?’ ‘Why not use the old one?’

        Reply
      2. Patrick

        The plastic seed pellets are a by-product of the petro-chemical industry (not just the chemical industry). Plastic is enabled by, and is a by-product of our extraction and use of fossil fuels.

        The danger of plastic is that although it can often breakdown into smaller sizes, it tends to leach toxins out of the environment, concentrating them, and then bringing them into the food chain as the plastic is consumed, often inadvertently.

        Too many think of plastic waste as being a physical issue. It is also a toxicity issue that you won’t see entering the food chain.

        Reply
          1. RMO

            But, but… as I understand it, modern globalist neoliberal economic models say that it doesn’t matter one bit where a job is done or a product produced as the movement of work around the world is completely frictionless, perfectly efficient so there’s always someone out there to do what you need done! All those smart people couldn’t have been wrong about that, could they?

            Reply
        1. JerryB

          Thanks Patrick. In using the chemical industry I was a bit too general, but referring to it correctly as the petro-chemical industry drives home the connection to fossil fuels even more. As you mention another issue with plastics is toxins leaching out into the environment and into our foods and other consumer goods. One example is PVC which is used in a lot of products ( water pipes, medical devices, etc.) and uses a plasticizer called DEHP; dioctyl phthalate, DOP. If you look up DEHP on the internet and research it’s toxicity it is very nasty stuff for all animals including humans. When PVC degrades the plasticizer can leach out.

          A while back there was an initiative in the plastics industry to be more aware of plastic resin pellets in the waste stream. A lot of plastic resin pellets get spilled on the factory floors and end up in the garbage. At landfills and near trash bins and dumpsters birds mistakenly think the plastic pellets are bird seed and swallow the pellets.

          MyLessThanPrimeBeef- alternatives that consume less energy? One is glass but the water needed to wash glass is an issue. Others as you mention are metal, paper, wood, etc. I am not sure about the energy trade offs. But Patrick has pointed out there are downsides to plastics other than energy. I think there is a place for plastics in our society but as I mentioned in other comments do we really need 10 different shampoos, 10 different flavors of Gatorade, 10 different kinds of laundry detergent? Like a lot of things in our hyper-capitalism culture, companies have gone crazy with the use of plastics especially in the last 30 years or so.

          Reply
        2. SimonGirty

          And it’s FAR worse, once the pipelines all fail. You don’t live long enough to be incinerated by the explosion.

          Reply
      3. Jeremy Grimm

        If not plastic stuff then what will we make our stuff out of? Glass, steel, wood, ceramics? They all use large amounts of energy in their production and most of them weigh more in shipment. Our economy is built on shipping stuff great distances. Move from plastic to any of the other materials and you increased the cost of shipping stuff and over time you’ve decreased the size of the mountains of plastic junk and increased the size of the mountains of some other kind of junk (since we don’t want to bring recycling into the discussion). Do we need all the stuff ‘we’ make and buy? Is planned obsolescence a good idea? Are there a few of what old fashioned economists call externalities involved the production of stuff perhaps especially plastic stuff? One big externality of stuff is the junk resulting when stuff breaks, or grows old, or obsolete, or less shinny than some other stuff. Is plastic junk more important to worry about than glass, or steel, or wood, or ceramic stuff [and of course many other materials]? If so — why?

        Junk and trash is not a new problem — see Monte Testaccio [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Testaccio]. The problem of junk, even plastic junk, seems to pale compared to other problems we face, and so far the best solution found is to ship junk to someplace far far away, or pack it into mountains, or more recently some countries burn it at high temperatures — “exhaust, which is then released into the air via a smokestack, free of hazardous materials, according to the plant.” with “Another byproduct of the burning is heat energy. Some is captured to generate electricity and power parts of the facility. Excess power is both sold to Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings or provided as hot water to a nearby public housing facility for heating and air conditioning.” [https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/02/18/environment/wasteland-tokyo-grows-trash/]

        The melting of Arctic ice will have impacts more troubling and far reaching than plastic junk. Patterns of rainfall and temperatures will shift and I believe they will become more unstable. Agriculture will be impacted. I don’t see any Green Revolution standing in the wings. We have several too many billions of people to if agriculture fails and other problems with our economic system and distribution systems if proven petroleum reserves prove to be frauds. Does plastics production contribute to the melting of Arctic ice? I’m sure it does along with contributions from a long long list of other contributors but is plastic the master villain?

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are missing, as Jerri-Lynn has pointed out repeatedly, that we greatly overpackage things in America, particularly food, and that overwhelmingly with plastic. Europeans carry mesh bags. We insist that grocers provide bags, and those are pretty much always plastic. I could go on at great length….

          And what’s wrong with paper???? Biodegradable, and creates demand for growing more trees, as in tree farms.

          Reply
          1. Copeland

            Agree completely. I just wish that doing the right things –and I do…relentlessly!– meant that we could fix this, but 7.6 billion tell me we can’t.

            Reply
            1. JerryB

              7.6 billion and many that are living in poverty all over the world. There was a recent book on climate change, and for the life of me I can’t remember the author or title, in which the author makes the point that so many people just in the US(and the world) are poor ( as today’s America’s Poorest post mentions) that they are not remotely thinking about “doing the right things for the climate” and just trying to meet basic needs. If many of the topics that NC and others write about like inequality, single payer healthcare, and jobs were addressed then people would feel better about there basic needs and could start doing the right things.

              Reply
              1. jrs

                If they are poor it is kind of doubtful they are doing that much of the wrong things either though. That comes with affluence. Perhaps here they vote for people doing much wrong though.

                Reply
          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            This. Germany passed a simple packaging law, now if you buy a broom there it likely just has a small sticker on it. In the U.S. it’ll probably have a big plastic envelope covering the entire bristles area.
            I’m sure there’s a billionaire somewhere who bought the politician whose job it is to block that kind of legislation. My question: how do these people (Bezos et al) sleep at night?

            Reply
          3. Jeremy Grimm

            I disagree that I am missing Jerri-Lynn’s point about overpackaging. I am well aware of and agree that we overpackage things in America — and elsewhere. I am not a proponent for plastic — in fact I don’t especially like plastic — although it does offer some advantages in certain applications. I like paper bags and I usually remember to bring in my own re-usable bag when I go to buy stuff.

            I believe the plastic shopping bags problem could be solved by passage of a law banning them and prescribing an approved solution. I thought the plastic mesh bag my parents brought home from a trip to Europe years and years ago was a great idea — it was cool. I believe many of the problems with recycling could similarly be solved by passage of laws — for example laws to dictate that the glues for labels be non-toxic and water soluble, and any shrink wrap labels be compatible with the underlying plastic container or easily removable from glass or steel containers, and ideally those shrink wrap labels should be recyclable. If recycling doesn’t pay for itself maybe the government ought to get into the business. However I have trouble assigning a high rank to the problems of plastics pollution of the oceans or the accumulation of plastic in our landfills when choosing among the many concerns available for contemplation by my limited capabilities for contemplation. I feel I have no capability to institute any of the laws I suggested above.

            Reply
        2. vlade

          We can be pretty innovative with the materials, if we want. Not related to packaging, but say this is a glass only working scale model of a Stephenson’s steam engine. And when I say “glass only” I mean it – no sealants, crankshaft is glass, piston is glass, all is glass. Just add water, air and fuel.

          Reply
    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Apparently, much of the petroleum extracted by the fracking industry is intended for use in creating plastics. Given the level of debt said industry has in order to operate, I venture to think we will not be seeing a reduction in plastics production any time soon.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Recalling the free rein given the fracking industry in other matters combined with their past nasty practices — I think using the fracked oil to make plastics is better than some of the other possibilities they might come up with. The frackers might figure out some way to dump the stuff into man-made tar-pits or who knows what.

        Reply
    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Considering today’s link “China Just Handed the World a 111-Million-Ton Trash Problem”, suggests an interesting speculation. In my opinion China very deliberately put producers of rare earth metals out of business with a very deliberate intent to create a corner on rare earth metals. I suspect their massive imports of our trash reflects a similar underlying intent. How did this impact what recycling industry we had built as recycling became a widespread practice? I believe it worked much the same way as their rare earth metals industry affected our native rare earth metals industry [I am speculating and have no links to reference]. Now stopping the import of trash seems to have become a weapon in trade warfare.

      Reply
  6. JTMcPhee

    Too bad those Lutherans in Bemidji didn’t do something, oh, “Christian” with that $500,000, like maybe Christianly using it to the actual material benefit of those Ojibwa people. The ones who still suffer from the predations and destructions of Lutherans and other Judeo-Xtians.

    But no, what else would “God’s frozen people” do with that kind of money than to spiff up their megahouse-of-worship?

    So glad the engineers were able to closely mimic the sound of an aboriginal flute — just has to make one think of the sound engineers who design the frames, latches and seals of “quality” automobiles, to produce that “bank vault” thunk that conveys a reassuring bespoke specialness to the buyer…

    Jesus wept, and not at the beauty of the organ music, or the perfected closing thunk of a Mercedes automobile door, I think…

    Reply
    1. sleepy

      The church goers were “extra careful” to be inclusive though by ing the Ojibwe some wild rice.

      So at the launch event, the Lutherans were extra careful to be inclusive. They invited a group of Ojibwe singers, fed everyone a meal of wild rice, and Treuer said a few words.

      Reply
    2. Pookah Harvey

      I remember a PBS special from the mid 90’s about the popularity of Harley Davidsons. One point that stuck in my mind was that Harley, at that time, had more acoustic engineers on staff than mechanical engineers. Says something about modern capitalism and the consumers in it.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Something to think about whenever my biker neighbors are revving ’em up. Which they aren’t doing as much as they used to.

        Reason: These neighbors weren’t youngsters when they arrived in the nabe two years ago. Methinks that age is really starting to catch up with them. Hence, they’re driving their truck more and riding the Harleys less.

        Wolf Richter has covered this motorcycling megatrend in depth:

        Reply
        1. Pookah Harvey

          I use to travel through S. Dakota every year at Sturgis Rally time. There would be a stream of pick ups with trailers loaded with Harleys. A city near me had a BMW rally with participants from across the country. Everyone I saw rode their BMWs across the country to attend. I think that says it all..

          Reply
          1. Chris

            Q: Why is a Harley like a blue heeler [cattle dog]?
            A: They both like to go home on the back of a pickup.

            Reply
          2. Sid Finster

            To be fair, Sturgis is largely RUBs, aka “Hell’s Orthodontists” and they don’t necessarily have the time or desire to ride halfway across the country.

            I was still flabbergasted the first time I heard an accountant talk about shipping his Harley across the country so he could fly into Rapid City, pick it up, and make The Grand Entrance into Sturgis.

            However, this accountant did get a Harley tattoo to show is commitment to something called the “Harley Davidson lifestyle”, so there is that.

            Reply
            1. blennylips

              shipping his Harley across the country

              and I was flabbergasted when I moved to this wee island to see hordes of choppers & rice rockets shipped via containers with specially welded frames to hold the bikes tight in rolling seas…for the

              Reply
            2. Pookah Harvey

              Reinforces my above statement “Says something about modern capitalism and the consumers in it.”

              Reply
    3. DorothyT

      Re:

      This is not a reply to JTMcPhee’s comment but included here to highlight something important in this article that could be missed if his comment is all anyone reads. The article is about the church, needing a new organ and other renovations, raising money among its community in this small town, also included the difficult design of pipes that would imitate the sound of its local Native American neighbors’ wind instrument, a type of flute called a bibigwan. The pastor included the neighbors and the white parishioners in the project as you will read — and be moved.

      This is a wonderful story in this time of pointed hatred of “the other” in our country. Previous comments objected to their “nonchristian” spending of $500K on the handmade organ that they paid for themselves. (I object to apts. in my bldg. now selling for $1.3M when they were going for a fraction of that only 10 years ago as most New Yorkers are being priced out of the city.)

      “In our area here, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran groups all actively participated in the forcible assimilation and colonization of native people through their churches,” (Pastor Fuhrman) said. “A lot of Christians today have no idea that there is a history of oppression in the institutions they love.”

      “Can we stand side by side without the idea of conversion between us?” (Pastor) Fuhrman said to a packed church “And just stand as neighbors.”

      … (Pastor) Fuhrman said, over the centuries most of the church’s problems have risen from its overwhelming focus on proselytizing.

      “The relationship between the Christian church and the Native American people was all about conversion,” he said. “There’s been years of broken trust.”

      The mission of his church now, (Pasttor Fuhrman) said, is to serve and reconcile. He hopes the music will help.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        And then one might read some of the history behind the current state of Ojibwa people, . And then consider the notion of “virtue signaling” in connection with that organ pipe and the expensive difficulty of tech representation of the original instrument. And I’ve given up churchgoing after too many years of smug every-member-canvassing to fundraise to pay for “edifice complex” improvements and fillips and furbelows without attention to stuff like “when did I see you hungry, Lord, and not you, or naked and not clothe you?” So glad that this church is “reaching out” musically. I wonder how often that particular stop will be pulled, in all the wonderful music the parishioners can now enjoy, along with their readings and sermons. Don’t know what their annual physical plant budget is, or outreach and charity and such. “Hey, it’s OUR MONEY, after all! So we can inclusively spend it in ourselves, no? And invite some Native Americans to Thanksgiving dinner, and inclusive liturgies and all that. “

        “Thou shall love the Lord your God… and shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets…”

        “What would Jesus do with half a million dollars?”

        Reply
        1. DorothyT

          My limited experience with Protestant churches is that lay-members reign over capital campaign expenditures. I’d hoped the extraordinary, courageous statement that Pastor Fuhrman made would not be lost:

          “In our area here, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran groups all actively participated in the forcible assimilation and colonization of native people through their churches,” (Pastor Fuhrman) said. “A lot of Christians today have no idea that there is a history of oppression in the institutions they love.”

          “Can we stand side by side without the idea of conversion between us?” (Pastor) Fuhrman said to a packed church “And just stand as neighbors.”

          Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            For some definition of “courageous.” “Standing as neighbors” will go a long way toward undoing and repairing the “forcible assimilation and colonization” of those dispossessed First Peoples, I guess, and assuage whatever guilt the current generations of dispossessors might feel…

            And I guess we have different experiences about which parts of Protestant (covering years in Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, even Baptist denominations) church hierarchy control what you call capital expenditures. Not that it matters who makes the decision to spend funds on “capital,” as opposed to charity and suchlike. Growth is good, in a country where churchgoing is declining, for some reason. Maybe hypocrisy and “relevance” and such? “Can wwe… can we… all just get along?”

            We do want to think the best of people, mostly, don’t we? Like the Bible tells us to?

            Reply
  7. Jessica

    “Mind-body practices and the self: yoga and meditation do not quiet the ego, but instead boost self-enhancement”
    This study has so many problems that its results are meaningless.
    Most crucially, they do not understand what ego or self means for yoga or meditation. The study uses ego in the sense of thinking oneself to be hot stuff but the purpose of yoga and meditation is to dispel the illusion that you = the ego (self).
    Second, these practices work over years. Measuring from one week to another as this study did is pointless.
    Third, the study takes patterns that they may have found to be true among people who do not do yoga or meditate, for example “practicing any skill renders it self-central and self-centrality breeds self-enhancement”, then applies those patterns to yoga practitioners and meditators. With a wave of the hands, “Crucially, the SCP is thought to be universal (Sedikides, Gaertner, & Cai, 2015) and thus should also apply to mind-body practices”, they assume what their study is supposed to be investigating.
    From this, they determine that if someone finishes their yoga class and says that “Focusing mindfully on the exercises across the whole yoga class is central to me”, this means that they have too high an opinion of themselves”.
    Then they take the numbers that they obtained by misunderstanding what they were measuring and maldesigning their experiment and subject those numbers to all manner of statistical processing. The math looked like fun and every thing else may well have been just an excuse to play with the cool stat toys (unless it was designed as a hit job).
    By coincidence the study does manage to point vaguely in the direction of something that is true and important (more on that in another comment), but that does not change the fact that the only thing this study shows is how far social sciences can wander from the search for truth.

    Reply
    1. David

      You’ve said everything I was going to. The study shows no sign that those performing it had done any serious research into the nature and purpose of either meditation or yoga, still less that they were familiar with concepts of the ego. Yoga and meditation have undoubted and documented health benefits, and can lead to you feeling better. They also tend to quiet the mind, which is not the same as the ego. Sigh.

      Reply
      1. RUKidding

        Agree with both of you, with special thanks to Jessica.

        I read that and thought: WTF are they even talking about??

        For in-depth Yoga practitioners the concept is quieting the mind, not the ego, although the ego is also addressed by various practices.

        I guess the study may apply to some gym yoga classes (which still can be quite beneficial) but not to those who practice yoga in an in-depth fashion.

        Reply
        1. witters

          Well, I know a fair few western mediation types and I found the study revealing. “Inner peace” manifested as an aura of moral superiority that rests not on altruism but inwardism.

          Reply
          1. Lord Koos

            That can be a feature of new-age types in general, not only yoga practitioners.

            For an antidote I highly recommend this guy:

            Reply
    2. Craig H.

      > these practices work over years. Measuring from one week to another as this study did is pointless.

      They studied for 15 weeks. Since many of the promoters advertise results in three months (I have even seen a guaranteed in 90 days or your money back offer) they may have naively assumed a three week cushion was a conservative research practice.

      If you are thinking a meditation or yoga regimen may be helpful to you I am skeptical you are going to look in psychology research journals for information. My favorite study was the one where they did MRI’s on experienced Tibetan Buddhist meditators and if you did some simple calculations you could deduce that they defined experienced as 10 000 hours. I don’t remember if they had a footnote for Malcolm Gladwell. :)

      The Bikram Choudhury wikipedia page has a reference to a People magazine article from May 2017 that he is now a fugitive from justice. Somebody got a seven million dollar judgment against him and he split back to India without paying and now there is a warrant out for the fellow’s arrest. I’d be enlightened too if I had seven million dollars of somebody else’s money!

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Anyone who advertises “results” in three months from “leading” you in any practice – be it prayer, yoga or speed reading – is a grifting liar, who should be actively disregarded.

        Likewise, we should disregard every commenter who cites disgraced ueber-class darling Bikram Choudhury as an example of yoga or its teachers.

        No one here in flyover goes to $15 a pop yoga classes, or $5 a pop meditation groups because of some rich jackass in LA. We do it because the exercise and regimented mental down time help us. They don’t help us “eliminate the ego” or any such asinine BS, but we sleep better, take less Motrin, and fly into fewer rages if we do this stuff regularly.

        Reply
        1. Craig H.

          If you think flyover land is immune from big time yoga grifters you are mistaken.

          I know a yoga instructor in Natchitoches LA and she tells me that she never advertises and has a very small sign on her storefront so as not to antagonize the locals who she is afraid are prejudiced against pagans of any variety but I suspect the scammers populate every urban location with population over a few hundred thousand.

          Why anyone would ever attend a class for this is a mystery to me. All the information is right there on your computer for free. Perhaps some folks so lack confidence in their own powers of proprioception that they can’t tell whether they are straight or crooked?

          Reply
          1. FluffytheObeseCat

            “If you think flyover land is immune from big time yoga grifters you are mistaken.”

            Nice dodge! There is no reason I’d ever mistake Louisiana for a place that is natch’rally free of con artists. I am an old Catholic yat, so I have my biases. However, I’ve driven past Rev. Jimmy Swaggert’s now fading, but still fancy complex of million dollar+ buildings in Baton Rouge too many times to be so fooled.

            That has nothing to do with yoga. Or even more, meditation, which has a much more virtuous and universal history. One that is less caught up in pre- and post-colonial Hindu jingoism and Anglo guilt.

            “powers of proprioception”

            are not easy to come by actually. If they were, we would not have PTs working their butts off to re-teach people how to walk and the like.

            Reply
          2. Yves Smith Post author

            I have to tell you, there are very good reasons to get instruction for any physical discipline, and not just yoga.

            First, you cannot see your own form. It’s not just a matter of more or less getting your body in place but whether you are working the right muscles properly. And despite your self confidence about your own ability, when I look at people doing postures, just about all of them are not in perfect form.

            Second, individuals have different proportions. Many classical yoga postures can ruin your joints if you try to force yourself into them. One where people hurt their shoulders ALL THE TIME is the one where you reach one arm up, then bend your elbow so that hand is between your shoulder blades, then try to grasp it from below with your other hand. Worse, I see inexperienced yoga teachers do damage to students by showing the raised elbow backwards.

            A good teacher can show you variants to postures that you aren’t able to do due to having the wrong proportions (for instance, I have a very long toros and short arms and legs, while classical yoga presupposes the reverse) or need to work around injuries that will allow you to increase the mobility of the targeted joints and muscles without damaging yourself.

            Reply
  8. Jason Boxman

    My cheap phone ($39) replacement was a Huawei Sensa. Without a doubt the worst phone I’ve ever owned. Slow as molasses and their custom Android version is absolutely terrible. Picked up a much more expensive Nokia 6.1 and couldn’t be happier.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think there should be a disposal fee for every item imported, similar to that charged on a recyclable glass bottle.

      For that locally made glass bottle, the customer then takes that back to get his/her money back.

      For the imported item, the fee is charged to the manufacturer abroad. If they take it back after its useful life, the maker gets the money back.

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        That’s a fantastic idea. Honestly I had no idea the cheap phone would be garbage. (There ought to be a prohibition on selling goods that are essentially unfit for a particular, useful purpose… fidget spinners, for example.) I’m going to keep it as a backup phone as I hate the idea of getting rid of it. It was so slow, it added needless annoyance to my day, as pretentious as that is. I kept my last phone 4.5 years until it broke beyond repair.

        Reply
  9. rd

    Re: GOP cutting Medicare/Medicaid to balance budget

    The US spends 25% more per capita on healthcare than Switzerland (second place) and about double the average developed country. The US spends more per capita in public healthcare dollars than nearly all other developed countries.

    So a fundamental goal for the US should be to cut Medicaid/Medicare spending by 25% or so over the next decade. However, this should be done in the context of improving healthcare and increasing coverage to achieve universal or near-universal coverage that the other countries spending less have been able to achieve. To achieve this will require a serious look at the organization and delivery of the healthcare system with significant reshuffling of priorities to eliminate the parasitic elements that are currently sucking the lifeblood out of the US economy through excessive healthcare spending for poor results.

    I don’t believe either party has a clue that this even needs to be done because they are unable to look outside the US borders and admit that other countries have good ideas. The politiicans are also funded by many of the parasites. The most recent egregious example of this has been the explosive opiate epidemic that was actually created by the healthcare industry with little blowback on them to date.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Your version of a healthcare system sounds like it has healing folks as its #1 priority. The current version has profit at the top. In my city, switching to your kind of health care system would cut the real estate market off at the knees. In the midst of crumbling neighborhoods beset with lots of violent crime, the area around the hospitals looks more like Munich or Zurich than a Midwestern, Rust Belt city: lots of gleaming new skyscrapers, designed by big-name, international architects–and those are just the five-star hotels adjacent to the hospitals. After all, you need a suitable setting for all the Saudi princes and movie stars that come for treatment.

      Reply
      1. Robert McGregor

        @Henry Moon Pie, I have a 60-ish customer who was living with her husband near Decatur, GA in a “luxury” mid-rise 1 bedroom apartment–about $1740 per month! Decatur is full-tilt “20%-er, and those who aspire to the 20%. Her apartment is next door to a Sprouts Market, and a Whole Foods is going in down the block. There are high-end restaurants within walking distance, and the nearest bank office has signs that say, “By appointment only” . . . “Private Wealth Management.” The apartment rate per square foot there is about 2.75X what it is six miles to the east in Clarkston. She made sure I understood they own a home in Mobile, Alabama, and were only temporarily in this apartment. The Reason–so her husband could get medical treatment at the nearby “Emory Cancer Center.”

        Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      Hey, rd, you are likely to see part of your policy prescription enacted all right. The part about getting funding for Medicare and Medicaid cut. Which after all is the goal for all kinds of “conservatives,” of all stripes. To “reduce the deficit.” Because all that’s needed is to put legislation in place that undoes all the other legislation and regulatory capture that the “stakeholders” like drug corporations and hospital corporations and UNsurance corporations and so forth have so diligently and expensively put in place through the usual purchase-of-influence processes.

      Like that latter part is going to happen.

      But you can bet your sweet bippy that unless there’s massive opposition, the first is in the cards. Can you “afford” private medical UNsurance? What happens if some change in fortune leads to the need for recourse to “scocialized medicine”? Which itself is not the best descriptor, since most “Medicare-Medicaid” is billed out by the same set of malefactors and the subset of decent, caring providers who can’t make ends meet and are leaving the calling or getting swallowed by hospital and UNsurance and “doctor’s groups.”

      Both “parties” of the Uniparty that represents wealth in the Empire are well aware of what’s being done for health care (not “access to UNsurance”) outside the US borders, those mostly meaningless lines in Google Maps. Serving human needs is not on the platforms of either set.

      Reply
    3. Donna

      The Real News has an interesting interview with two physicians who were let go without notice along with everyone in the pediatric department of a Baltimore non-profit hospital. The pediatrician concluded that their specialty did not generate the kind of profits cardiac and orthopedic care do. She also pointed out that now the insurance companies chase high claims in order to improve their 20% split on the Obamacare 80/20 requirement enforced on insurance companies. Although some of these assumptions seem extreme, it is true that Americans pay megabucks to manage this unmanageable system. Here is the story.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        There’s a local “diagnostic clinic” that was founded by an MD maybe 35 years ago. He discovered you could make Big Bucks running a place that employed doctors and caregivers in many different specialties, from ortho and cardiac to primary care and rheumatology, and more, with physical therapy and such, along with lab and imaging service and a pharmacy, all in the same building.

        Then he discovered that you could make even Bigger Bucks by selling the business to Florida Blue, our major UNsurance provider, that came in promising wonderful things, like pay raises for nurses and other staff that had not had an increase in maybe 7 or 8 years. Which new owner has since hollowed out the nursing and tech staffs, done away with most specialties, got rid of the lab (a Quest Diagnostics lab has moved in, I almost said “for the kill”) and deleted the imaging services. What’s retained is internal medicine, and a few specialties that are from my experience as a nurse, the high-coded, high-billing ones. And the docs and staff are under constant pressure to turn over patients, shorter and shorter “visit tumes” all carefully metric’d, and what one would expect of the NeoAmerican Business Model: more and more work, from fewer and fewer workers, for less and less pay, under micromanagement and ‘goals,’ with no benefits and no job security and just-in-time staffing. And of course “aggressive billing,” and even more aggressive and frankly fraudulent collection practices. (I got a letter recently to let me know that I might be getting multiple bills for the same service, “since we are in the midst of a changeover in our computer systems.” Big Blue is riding a long but diminishing wave of the older people in this area, who still have Medicare. How many aging mopes will be able to keep track of that ‘reality,’ of the double-billing with its “computer” excuse, I wonder?

        Oh well, it’s their own fault for getting older and not being able to defend themselves against the Market Forces…

        Small consolation that the doctor who sold it all out to Big Blue but was retained in a nominal “chairman” capacity for a couple of years, with a nice salary and benefits, was recently met at his office by “HR and Security,” allowed to collect his personal stuff, and escorted from the building and told not to return… he’ll just have to be satisfied with his several houses and maybe 65-foot luxury motor yacht and fancy cars and likely a good stash in the bank…

        Reply
    4. Expat

      The US healthcare system is two to ten times more expensive than other, more effective, systems because it is designed to enrich HMO’s, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. Health is not an issue or a concern. Patients are “clients”.
      It is interesting that the military has single payer healthcare. Why isn’t military healthcare privatized? Sounds the US Army is a bunch of commies, right? Or is it because it’s cheaper, more efficient, and provides better results.
      America has no interest in reducing profits in healthcare. Medicare and Medicaid cuts will be funneled to military spending so it’s not even about reducing the budget.
      As a European-American, I really don’t understand America. Do you hate yourselves? Do you believe if you work hard you will become a millionaire so therefore “fuck the poor.” Or is it simply that universal healthcare, no matter how much it makes sense and how much cheaper and better it is, is communist and you would prefer to have your children die horrible deaths and go bankrupt in the process rather than that! I am not really being snarky. I really want to know the reasons.

      Reply
      1. Robert McGregor

        Expat, The reason is that the Big Corporations have a strangle-hold on the government and the system, and that they are not going to give it up without a revolution of sorts.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        Why is the US medical system the way it is? It has been a truly wonderful sales job by what we call “conservatives,” working hard at the simmering and ladling out of a remarkable Bernays sauce for the last nearly 100 years. Yes, part of the recipe called for gallons of “anti communist” pitches to resonate with the nativism that’s part of our “birthright,” but beyond the sales pitches, the constant advertising of drugs and stuff that will supposedly cure all ills, the “Marcus Welby, MD”- and Dr, Huxtable-type TV shows, there’s an entire school system and media and public and private media all pitching the same crap about American Exceptionalism. And then after generations of looters infiltrating the governing processes of the Empire, it’s really gotten down to ‘resistance is futile” for a lot of folks — some of whom are well aware that Canadian and Continental medicine (despite the heavy propaganda to the contrary) is miles ahead in terms of generally providing actual medical and health care. But just try to get enough clout accumulated in “the people” to overcome the all too human tendency to go along to get along. Even to the point that suicide and self-over-medication are the only thinkable options.

        It’s heartening to see the Town Halls and events where Sanders and others repeat the messages that single payer and de-ranging the Elite “billionaires” are part of the same necessary actions (at least if the mopery is not going to just float off on the equivalent of that well-used “ice floe” into a frozen death in the bulrushes. Sanders says, rightly, that it’s on the mopery to get their organization under serious way, as mopes have always had to do to have a hope of reining in the vultures and vampires and tapeworms and malignancies of those who in every continuing generation figure out how to accumulate great, yuuuge, enormous, outsized wealthandpower.

        And the US Military is indeed an enormous socialist entity. Even the generals and “conservatives” agree that it’s a model of socialism: Too bad the organizing principle of that socialist entity, in all its tentacles and testicles, is “organized looting and destruction paid for out of the full faith and credit of the Empire that’s built on the labor and resources of the mopery…” Though the military industrialist bunch, just like the supranational corps that also on our bleeding carcasses, , have it all planned out how they are going to grow even larger and reap more profits from the disruptions and demolitions and dislocations and devastations resulting from that “climate change” thingie:

        Do we mopes hate ourselves? I know a few who do, due to guilt at having been born into and benefitting from that sh!t that the Empire has been and is doing… There’s no doubt other reasons…

        Reply
      3. Beans Baby

        There are quite a few doctors who are in favor of single payer, Medicare for all or whatever else is necessary to get the stranglehold of corporate medical interests (big hospital systems, big pharma, big insurance, etc) out of the picture. They still are greatly invested in the health and well-being of their patients but it is becoming nearly impossible to accomplish quality medical care delivery in the present environment.

        Reply
      4. Elizabeth Burton

        Why isn’t military healthcare privatized?

        Have no fear, that goal is currently underway, and has been for at least the last two decades. It’s just that it’s being done subtly so as to stave off the outcry when it’s finally reached by the usual methods of crapifying the service, drawing attention to the crappy service and blaming the system, then calling for it to handed over to private interests because they know how to get things done right.

        Reply
    5. Carey

      I can’t agree that “either party has a clue that this even needs to be done…” regarding the
      lack of decent health care here in late-stage USA. They know *very well* what needs to
      be done, and their job, well funded by the donor class, is to make damn sure it
      doesn’t happen.

      Any evidence to the contrary would be most welcome.

      Reply
    6. crittermom

      Didn’t Trump campaign stating he wouldn’t touch SS, Medicare or Medicaid?
      Why isn’t anyone using his own words against him?

      I was going to include many other references to his broken former promises, but we all know the story…

      Reply
    7. zagonostra

      Yes, the “politicians are also funded by many of the parasites,” but those, especially in the Democratic leadership are parasites funded by Healthcare and Pharma lobbyist. Until the stranglehold of the corrupt Democratic/Republican party is broken nothing will improve, the two statistics below tell it all:

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median personal income of $865 weekly for all full-time workers in 2017. The U.S Bureau of the Census has the annual real median personal income at $31,099 in 2016

      (below is from 2012, I believe the figure now is 28K)

      The average healthcare cost in Los Angeles, $20,908, was just slightly above the national figure. Miami was the most expensive of the 14 cities surveyed, at $24,965, Milliman found, and Phoenix was the cheapest, at $18,365.

      Reply
  10. sleepy

    Re: Immigrant children forcibly injected with drugs, lawsuit claims

    If anyone wishes to dig down in the affidavits attached to the court document, you will find that a number of those allegations of drugging children with psychiatric drugs relate to events in 2014, 2015, and 2016 during, what else, the Obama presidency. Yet with their usual blind sanctimony, the dem partisans don’t read and blame it entirely on Trump.

    A return to America’s values where only dem presidents drug children!

    Reply
    1. taunger

      Quick review seems that the sole facts for this case pre-Trump are related to Exhibit 30. Not that any amount of this should go on, but harder for me to get hackles up for others with that limited info. Did I miss some?

      Reply
      1. sleepy

        Perhaps you are looking at the signing dates on the affidavits or some filing dates. There are 11 attachments total all of which have dates documenting medication from 2014, 2015, or 2016, save for one which has no date. There is one exhibit, 30, which also documents that. There are no exhibits 1 through 29 that I can see. It’s not the easiest document to peruse, but that’s what I found.

        Reply
        1. taunger

          Yes, but, on my review, the medications listed for 2014 and 2015 at the least were not forcible – seem to be regularly prescribed oral meds. The ones I infer to be relevant to forcible medication are injections – which may not be true but is the best inference I can make from the facts as presented. I need to review more of the 2016 dates for injections, but the only evidence of injection medication I could see in 2014 and 2015 was in exhibit 30.

          Reply
          1. sleepy

            If exhibit 30–the only exhibit attached–is the only indication of forced injection in this particular litigation, the pleadings then have zero evidence of it occurring under Trump, only under Obama.

            My point is that while I would have no doubt that such injections have continued under the current administration, dem partisans have read none of the pleadings and immediately assume the litigation is against actions occurring under Trump. They aren’t.

            I would question the distinction you make between a minor being required to take pills as voluntary–particularly since one of the attachments referenced that the drugs in one case were referred to as “vitamins”–and an injection. Either one could be involuntary without consent.

            Reply
    2. fresno dan

      sleepy
      June 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

      420 2 Exhibit Vol 2, Exs 21 30, Pages 109 73 (Redacted)
      ===================================================
      Unfortunately, I can’t copy and paste from the linked document. But the testimony of the referenced youth of being put in a “crazy hospital” reminds me of the Soviet system of putting dissidents in psychiatric hospitals…
      As well as the US medical industrial complex view that there is a drug for every problem….

      Reply
  11. Barmitt O'Bamney

    “White House to Propose Merging Education, Labor Department” This was to have been announced much earlier. The streamlined, conglomerate department was originally to be named “The Dept. of Who Cares About This Crap Or The People Who Need It?” But after multiple outside studies and much internal debate, the name was shortened to The Dept of Paper Hats. It will retain a seat in the President’s cabinet beside other top level agencies, but the Secretary of Paper Hats will only audit their meetings.

    Reply
  12. JTMcPhee

    Re the “disheartening” use of the words “ethical” and “Microsoft” in the same clause, there’s this in the link, from Microsoft’s lawyers and strategic apologists:

    Azure is Microsoft’s brand name for its cloud computing services, which can range from hosting a customer’s data to facial recognition. Late Monday, Microsoft said it is “not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose.”

    The BS is strong with this one…

    Reply
  13. Jim Haygood

    Alternate WaPo-free source for 2019 Republican budget details:

    House Republicans offered a budget proposal on Tuesday that would cut mandatory spending by $5.4 billion over a decade, including $537 billion in cuts to Medicare and $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and other health programs.

    On Medicare, the budget would move towards a system of private health insurance plans competing with one other, rather than the current open-ended, government-provided Medicare system.

    On Medicaid, the budget would impose new caps that could lead to cuts in payments over time. The budget also proposes $2.6 trillion in reductions to other mandatory spending programs, including welfare and other anti-poverty programs.

    The new budget calls for a precipitous drop in non-defense spending over the next decade, even as defense spending rises. The plan sticks to the 2019 discretionary spending levels agreed in the budget deal, but then charts an aggressive course to balance over the course of a decade.

    Big story here is that our current glide path of “trillion dollar deficits forever” is electoral poison in the Heartland. This budget is Republiclowns’ red-neon-sign admission that “we screwed the pooch.”

    Meanwhile, how do they propose to rein in Medicare? Why, by implementing Obamacare-style “shopping for Medicare plans,” even as they simultaneously try to repeal Obamacare Classic™ in the same bill.

    Struggle, comrades, urge our Republican masters: sacrifice your living standards so we can buy more F-35s to whiz through enemy skies (on the rare days they’re working).

    It’s reverse populism at its finest: crush the peasantry to finance Trump’s gleaming military parade. Maybe we’ll get little Chinese-made plastic flags to wave as the sad parade goes by.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      June 21, 2018 at 9:50 am

      So Monday at HICAP, a woman comes in and wants to give up her Medi-Cal (state medicaid program) because her specialist in no longer accepting Medi-Cal reimbursement because he defacto isn’t being reimbursed – due to delays and other contrived methods the state of CA is using to screw ANY provider of services to the poor.
      The repub plan isn’t to eliminate the safety net….just to eliminate the horizontal and vertical lines that comprise the safety net…..

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Not CALIFORNIA!!!!! Staunch defenders of all things humanitarian. Beacon of sanctuary salvation for the downtrodden. Conscience of bad “-ism” nation.

        California would never “screw” anyone unless, of course, it was “consensual.”

        You must be mistaken, fresno.

        Reply
        1. Brian

          I have been wondering what happened to Gov. Jerry Brown. He hasn’t made any public comment about CalPers, correct? Has he made any public comment about the roasting of his constituents?

          Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      Trump is often accused of being dumb, but he’s generally smarter than the rest of the political class in DC and understands there’s no votes in pushing austerity.

      He knows his popularity is based on a relatively decent economy (I refuse to call it strong). If Trump signs onto budget cuts, he’s signing his own re-election death warrant.

      I suspect he’s smarter than that.

      Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        It’s ironic that Trump pushed through a “liberal” fiscal policy (increased deficits, even if much of it is military-security spending).

        While 2016 Hillary 2012-16 Obama were the deficit hawks.

        Reply
        1. bronco

          Its not Ironic unless you are forming your opinions of him from mainstream media talking heads instead of just waiting to see what actually happens

          Reply
    3. Alejandro

      Medicare and the F-35 are NOT {either,or}. Single payer would not depend on de-funding any federal program. The criteria for medical care should be medical related and not “affordability”. There are no “free” market solutions for healthcare, only “free” market predators. Please recall that healthcare has gone from 5% of ‘gdp’ in 1960 to 17% and growing, with dismal results on health. It seems that what needs to be “reined in” are the predators in the upper echelons of the healthcare racket.

      Remember this?

      Reply
        1. Alejandro

          Juxtaposing Medicare with Militarism seems confused or disingenuous. Militarism is another debate that belongs in a context of defense, unless you want to use the military medical care system as a model.

          Reply
    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We need our military and military parades – can you imagine living under China’s marijuana law?

      Reply
  14. fresno dan

    Existing firms (which are relatively physical asset based) are being disrupted by firms that are more digitally asset based. For instance, Amazon owns virtually no stores, Uber owns no cars, AirBnB doesn’t own their real estate, Netflix doesn’t own any cable lines, etc. Part of the reason these firms have been so successful is because they are able to scale quickly thanks in part to the fact that they don’t have the costly burden of physical assets. But therein lies the paradox – while these firms are faster to scale and able to quickly wipeout existing physical asset firms, they are susceptible to being disrupted (quickly) by other digital asset firms.
    ========================================================
    What if every Facef*ck user decided tomorrow that they were tired of being monitored and manipulated? Is Facef*ck as useful… or as necessary as…hula-hoops?

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Dude, you must have missed the memo that drove FB to a record high yesterday:

      Facebook subsidiary Instagram just announced its own new video platform that is designed for long-form video content: IGTV. It will feature vertical video that can be as long as an hour. IGTV will immediately begin playing upon opening the app, a stand-alone separate from the core Instagram app. Creators will be able to make their own channels, and any user can become a creator, just like YouTube.

      Yeah, right — Channel Doom: Sunset of the Empire sounds promising. Over to our Fresno anchor … ;-)

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Still, what sort of future does it have when the younger generation won’t touch it. It is becoming a domain for the oldies and – gasp! – grandparents. For this generation, if Facebook was any more unhip, its’ b** would fall off.

        Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      It gets worse…..

      “Michael Bloomberg Will Spend $80 Million on the Midterms. His Goal: Flip the House for the Democrats.”

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        If 2020 is going to be a contest among a cadre of cranky old white guys….Biden, Bernie, Bloomberg and Schultz….gotta say, I really like Bernie’s odds in that scenario.

        Corp Execs splashing the cash means people like Harris, Booker, Patrick, Kennedy can’t build name recognition and have to take more time to go to fundraisers to try to compete with billionaire vanity campaigns that soak up media airtime. If they’re doing that….well, they’re not campaigning, and they’re showing us who they are.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          I hope you are right, but I think the DNC and the people behind it will be doing everything they can, and then some, to make sure that Senator
          Sanders is not the nominee, and failing that, that he is not elected
          as President. Then they can claim that the people have spoken,
          etc, etc. Remember Pelosi’s “people don’t want change” after
          the Democrats’ 2016 debacle? Same playbook, IMO.

          Reply
  15. Jim Haygood

    “Dow on track for 8th loss in a row as trade gloom lingers” laments Marketwatch, as the specter of Italian populism haunts Europe.

    Yesterday, as usual, only the Nasdaq 100 glamour index and the Russell 2000 small-cap index made record highs. Leadership is so thin it’s become five horsemen angels dancing on a pinhead, as the tired old dray horses of the Dow Industrials look like collapsing before they reach the knackers yard.

    One faint hope remains of exceeding the presumptive Bubble III peak on Jan 26th: a electoral shiv to the stomach of Herbert Hoover Trump’s R party in November, as voters kick its putrid corpse into a ditch.

    Bubble III, comrades: bathe in its ruddy solstice sunset glow, for night is falling.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      You know what, Comrade Haygood, I don’t think we’re looking at a dramatic bubble-popping scenario, at least not yet.

      There’s enough fiscal juice to keep earnings from falling and it’s usually after earnings turn down that valuations start to matter and cause downward acceleration.

      I think maybe we’re going to see some zig-zagging in a vaguely sideways to downward direction for maybe at least another year. A lot depends on how much the fed wants to slam on the brakes. Right now, they’re content with a little tapping.

      For rates to crush the economy, they’d have to break the housing market and it doesn’t seem to be ready to break, yet.

      That’s my new medium-term story and I’m sticking to it for now.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Can’t disagree. Right now we’re in mush land — can’t blast off, can’t break down.

        The 1954 scenario sticks in my mind: a rocket-launch rally as Democrats retook the House in the first midterm election of the Ike administration.

        But meanwhile vandals like Wilbur Ross, Peter Rabbit Navarro and Robert Lighthizer are ripping out the market’s stairway to heaven:

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

        — Winston Churchill

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Instead of looking down, Winston should have been looking up for a stairway that ascends (to heaven).

          And if he needed to look down, magic beans that would grow into a gigantic beanstalk should have been his targets. Just ask Jack.

          Reply
    2. djrichard

      Looks like 13 week treasury has hit a ceiling since May 22nd. IF that continues, rate hikes will take a breather. In which case, no inverted yield curve. In which case, does the bubble actually pop?

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One faint hope remains of exceeding the presumptive Bubble III peak on Jan 26th: a electoral shiv to the stomach of Herbert Hoover Trump’s R party in November, as voters kick its putrid corpse into a ditch.

      Are you saying to make the bubble go away, to lessen the wealth inequality gap between those who own shares and the homeless and the poor, people should work to keep the R party in power?

      Reply
    4. Expat

      This concern and the hysterical Bloomberg stories about “collapsing home prices in London” are hogwash…or just written by people with memory or cognitive impairments. The market goes up one hundred percent in a year, which everyone thinks is normal and good. Then it drops 5% which leads to hand-wringing, virgin sacrifices, and imploring of the Fed to “Do something! Save us!”.

      I am invested in the market and have been for twenty five years. It is inevitable that indices will rise because of inflation and component attrition. But when markets get past reality, the either have to come off or stagnate until the underlying economy catches up.
      Unfortunately our economy, it seems we live on finance rather than the economy of real things. Finance-backed markets (house prices, share prices, bond values, Bitcoins,etc.) must always go up. It is, by nature, a Bubble Economy. And bubble economies don’t deflate nicely, do they?

      Reply
    5. John k

      Most leveraged stuff like r2k continue to do ok… for now.
      If and when stuff meets the fan they will fall the most.

      Reply
  16. Jim Haygood

    Yep, that’s been the plan for nigh on thirty years now — the “doc fix” and its replacement “productivity adjustment.” Supposedly physicians are to be put on thin-gruel rations. But they always push back, and it never happens. Looks good in a 10-year budget though, when we’re all playing “fantasy forecasting” with savage spending cuts and … wait for it … no recession!

    Here’s the halfwit bozo in charge of the legislative sausage factory. He’s expected to resign soon (not not soon enough):

    Reply
  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    And a bonus. It’s a bit long, but it confirms what I have been told, that chickens make good pets. I once saw a woman with one on a leash in a grocery store in Maine.

    If they (chickens) have favorite humans, they likely have least-favorites as well.

    Like the people caging them…and plucking them…

    “Thank you, chicken, by giving up your life, you sustain my family, and keep us alive. We do not eat more than we need and we do not waste. Go in peace, with our gratefulness.”

    Reply
    1. Lunker Walleye

      A friend had a pet chicken. He took it on a road trip to Boston from the Great Plains to visit his daughter-in-law.
      All the Easterners were greatly amused by “Pa Kettle” and his pal. When friend and chicken returned home, the other chickens murdered it.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The other chickens murdered it!?!!?!?!

        “Fraternizing with enemy chicken-eaters…and all humans are presumed to be enemy chicken-eaters until proven otherwise…at least once in a human life… delicious chicken noodle soup, chicken broth or something.”

        Reply
          1. RMO

            My wife and I are house sitting for friends who have some geese and chickens – eggs are collected but the birds aren’t kept for meat. The chicken “coop” is a large fairly open area surrounded by a fence and the geese roam the yard only going into their house for the night so they’re basically free range. One rooster is savagely attacked at ing time by the others if he tries to come near the food and is only allowed to eat once all the others have had enough. There’s a female goose staying in the chicken compound too because the other adult geese (there are five yellow goslings at the moment) chase her and beat the hell out of her with their wings if she comes near. I love birds but they can be right nasty sometimes.

            Reply
  18. Tomonthebeach

    Americans are drowning in student-loan debt. The U.S. should forgive all of it. Washington Post

    Never happen, in part because defaulting loans rob those who put up the capital, and I doubt Congress would write the financial industry that big a check. Because of that great barrier, nothing is likely to change. The problem is two-fold: college costs too much , and the finance industry is burying loan holders in penalties and interest.

    What does make political sense, and financial sense, is to make college debt interest-free – half-a-loaf. Congress could buy up all outstanding loans (sorry, no interest or penalties to the lenders), and students could buy down the principal over 20 years via paycheck deduction like Social Security withholding. Alternatively, the government could forgive loans, as they do now, X-thousand a year for each year of public service.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      I’m torn. On one hand, I think college should be free. On the other hand, it seems like our media is run by college grads who will be only more than happy to continue the status quo after they get theirs.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We should treat all debts equally – medical debt, student debt, shelter debt, electric auto debt, food debt, etc.

        Any remedy should benefit all – debtors and those who did not borrow to fulfill even an urgent need, or who might need to borrow tomorrow (for example, for a house in a better school district).

        One way is a set amount of money for all.

        Reply
        1. djrichard

          I’m good with horse trading. One way is to do it around debt. But why not put medicare-for-all in the mix of deal making? Or job guarantee for that matter.

          Anyways, I’m going to double down on the media angle. Because they’re fundamental to the propaganda machinery on who is deserving and who is undeserving. E.g. propaganda that those without college degrees are undeserving – they don’t even deserve to have a job – “stop your complaining about the impact of free trade”. And propaganda that the Fed Debt is an issue.

          Reply
    2. jonhoops

      What capital is being robbed? Loans are conjured out of thin air. Also I don’t see how your solution can’t be made to forgive all the loans. Buy up all the loans as you say, then the govt. can do as it pleases and forgive the loans. Why continue with the charade and punish the students with a continued debt burden, especially after giving a big windfall to the lenders?

      Reply
  19. Louis Fyne

    Supreme Court gives internet taxation a greenlight. Handing Trump and South Dakota a W. Presumably a L to Silli-con Valley and Silcon Brooklyn.

    Wonder how the anti-Trumpers are going to spin this one. Justice for Etsy Ebay and Bezos!

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Death to small biz:

      “Rejecting the physical presence rule is necessary to ensure that artificial competitive advantages are not created by this court’s precedents,” ‘Justice’ Anthony Kennedy said.

      Small online businesses will be the hardest hit, said Chris Cox, a lawyer for e-commerce industry group NetChoice.

      “Consumers will quickly feel the negative effects as those businesses dry up or are forced into the arms of Internet giants,” he added.

      Soon enough, making even one sale in another state will trigger a permanent obligation to file quarterly sales tax returns. Doing business in all 45 states with sales taxes will mean 180 returns per year.

      Chalk up another win for the oligarchy, which can simply pass on bulked-up accounting fees, whereas small businesses can’t afford such paperwork overhead.

      It might be worth going to prison to smack a lemon meringue pie in Anthony Kennedy’s fool face.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But not international commerce though, I hope, for people selling to China or other places.

        And do you look forward to more local, in-state, customers to replace domestic customers from other states?

        Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        If filing taxes is all it takes to kill your small business, then perhaps your small business wasn’t worth saving.

        Maybe you just need a job, instead?

        Reply
        1. Jim Haygood

          Dicing up sales by state and filling out their quarterly sales tax returns (each one different, and sometimes with special rates for particular cities) is several days worth of work for an accountant or business owner.

          Bear in mind that stuff happens after they’re submitted — questions, objections, demands for an on-site audit, etc. Once I got a letter, years after the fact, demanding $17,000 in back sales taxes that weren’t due. Been there, done that, and it’s bad enough just with one state.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            On-site audits – from across the continent?

            Logistically, I am curious how that would work.

            More privatization?

            I hope you pick up more local customers as your out-of-state competitors are forced to charge more to cover this.

            Reply
      3. Carolinian

        Isn’t keeping track of per state sales tax and sending quarterly reports just the sort of thing that could be easily handled by a computer? Since these are online businesses they presumably have one lying around somewhere.

        If memory serves Amazon–anything but a small business–used the same argument when fighting national sales tax legislation. Now Amazon has somehow struggled to solve the problem for their own warehouse sales and managed to stay in business. This “burden of regulation” argument may be less than compelling in a digital age.

        Reply
        1. cnchal

          Amazon is your example? They have a presence in just about all states as it is, and are heavily subsidized by those same state governments.

          Imagine you operate a store with a physical location and the tax rate for a sale depends on which state your customer lives, and that tax collected has to be remitted to the state where that particular customer lives and almost every customer is from a different state. Sound reasonable? That isn’t the way they operate now. There is one tax rate for a location, and depending on particular regulations, an out of state customer may get a refund or partial refund if they go through the motions of applying for a rebate, but on a practical level that is never done, particularly for low cost items.

          Look a couple of years down the road. What do we see? State government pension holes need filling, never mind potholes, and guess what’s next? Oh yea, lets raise the sales tax rate to 10, 15 or do I hear 20 percent, after decades of gross fiscal mismanagement, like giving billions to Pirate Equity to destroy the existing tax base, for one example.

          Of course cities will be right in line with their own sales tax raising ideas, so expect the peasants to be further destroyed, whether they are buying or selling.

          Reply
      4. curldydan

        chalk up a ‘W’ for small biz accounting software. lots more data soon to be flowing through those software providers who will no doubt monetize the hell out of it.

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How does it impact out-of-state orders that are not processed online?

      Say you place the order over the phone or, the ancient way, through mail (like in the 19th century)?

      Reply
    3. Pookah Harvey

      Unfortunately this just reinforces the incentive to keep the regressive sales tax. My hope was that the tax free internet sales would force local businesses to demand an equal playing field by getting rid of, or at least decrease, sales taxes and hopefully replacing them with more progressive taxes. Washington has no income tax, just a sales tax. With decreasing revenue they could look to next door Oregon that has no sales tax , just an income tax. The oligarchs would not appreciate that (i.e,, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, etc.)

      Reply
    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Typical. Put small online businesses out of business in the name of saving local bricks-and-mortar business, most of which went out of business when the same state and local governments gave huge tax breaks to WalMart et al. to set up and “create jobs.”

      There are already “tax-collection services” that are rubbing their hands with glee as they gear up to offer their high-cost assistance to small online businesses. I anticipate their number will flourish.

      Reply
  20. Jim Haygood

    Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator ticked higher today on gains in two of its three components. Chart:

    Bloomberg Consumer Comfort gained versus last week, while the four-week average of initial unemployment claims fell (a positive) to a low 221,000.

    By contrast, raw industrial material prices faltered with a 2 percent loss on the week.

    With ten days left in the second quarter, the New York Fed’s GDP nowcast foresees 3.0% GDP growth. The first actual GDP estimate will be released at the end of July.

    Reply
  21. nothing but the truth

    “Mind-body practices and the self: yoga and meditation do not quiet the ego, but instead boost self-enhancement”

    Yes, the yoga marketing business has distorted the meaning completely.

    but, spiritual practice does not mean psychological suicide or disintegration. on the contrary.

    basically ego != self.

    it takes a long, long time to get the point.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When the self, the ego has a name for itself, it is distinct from another ego that goes by a different name.

      Did we take a step in the wrong direction, when we first called ourselves by different names?

      Reply
  22. Dita

    Not in today’s links but interesting in light of Atul Gawande’s appointment to lead the Buffet/Bezos/Dimon healthcare thingy. From 2009:

    Reply
  23. NakedCap123456

    I was a little surprised to see the phrase “dystopian technocapitalist hellscape” used seemingly unironically in the NYT today:

    Actually an interesting summary of the ways large tech (and pizza) companies are mowing down all opposition in the cities.

    Reply
  24. JohnnyGL

    NYT sticks the knife into Crowley….is he toast, already?

    It’s NYCBOE, so it can be stolen, still. So, let’s not celebrate, yet. But this is getting rather interesting.

    For those who need to get around the paywall:

    Reply
  25. djrichard

    Retiring Workforce Leaves U.S. With Fewer Workers to Support Elderly Wall Street Journal. This sort of hand-wringing makes me nuts. There is tons of age discrimination against workers over the age of 40, with the result that quite a few of them who are willing to work wind up un and underemployed.

    WSJ feels your pain and will seek remedy for age discrimination as they seek to raise the age of retirement? Being facetious here, but also wouldn’t be surprised to see that type of play.

    Anyways, I wonder how the WSJ squares this with the campaigns to convince us that a future of our jobs being eliminated through automation and outsourcing is inevitable. And how they square that future with how they expect corporations to still make profits and the Fed Gov to balance the budget. Answer: raise the age of retirement, lol.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder what WSJ workers think of their colleagues at the Washington Post and their open letter.

      Reply
  26. Roger Smith

    [Yemeni] Detainees held without charges decry Emiratis’ sexual abuses []

    You hear that? No shrieks… no fundraising campaigns… Maddow isn’t crying… the temporarily born again activists are asleep… ah… All is well…

    Reply
  27. Avalon Sparks

    Yves, can you share a little of what you’ve seen in the New Age community? I have a family member that started practicing mediation a few years ago. She had always been a bit self-absorbed and entitled, but since the mediation, it’s increased 10-fold and she’s become a textbook case Narcissist. I recently had to tell her I wished to cease any or interaction with her. I never thought that it could be the mediation she’s been practicing for at least 3 years that might have contributed. All of us in the family are wondering why at 50 years of age, she had changed so much.

    Reply
    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Meditation, if done poorly, apparently acts like a religious ego boost, akin to someone asserting their humility. I’m sure MLTPB can weigh in on this, but the link I found was interesting:

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks for thinking of me, but I find your comment educational, worth learning more about.

        And that ego boosting from poorly done meditation sounds about right, because when a guy says on his singles ad, “I’m funny,’ he is more likely than not too serious. Here, when a person says (or asserts) his humility, we see a missed mark.

        Perhaps we are all divine, because I think human thinking is like light…to think is to light upon something.

        So, when we use light (our thinking) to probe ourselves (checking to see if I am smart, for example), like the observer effect in physics, we move ourselves a bit off (so that if I was smart before, I am not now).

        In any case, I read about something similar in a book about Zen koans (I think…maybe another book of living in a Zen monastery). It’s possible negative feelings get amplified….fear, anger, etc., and so, it’s better to meditation with others and with a good leader or master.

        By the way, there are two good koan (gong-an) books – the Blue Cliff Record (Biyanlu in Chinese or Hekiganroku in Japanse), also called the First Book of Chan, and Gateless Gate (Wumenguan in Chinese or Mumonkan in Japanese). The Lingchi (Rinzai) sect of Chan (Zen) believes meditating on gong-an (koan) can help with becoming enlightened…probably together with a master, and not alone, which many intellectuals in ancient China did and do in the West today.

        Reply
      2. ahimsa

        I would wholeheartedly agree.

        Many esoteric traditions emphasise the need for a guide or mentor for a good reason – the path is lined with pitfalls. The unintended amplification of less than desirable character traits being one of them.

        Prerequisites are often spelled out before these meditation practices should be persued. While many may not like it these often entail basic do’s and dont’s of personal and interpersonal behaviour necessary to establish before practising the actual meditational techniques. IMHO western society is such a rush to achieve ‘results’ that many dive into these powerful techniques without the necessary preparation.

        While it may be cliched, consider the classic martial arts film. Before the master is willing to teach the cocky or over eager student any real combat techniques, the student is required to chop wood, fetch water, scrub floors, etc. until such a time as the master regards the student as ready for the powerful teachings.

        Again, IMHO, a spiritual path (a.k.a. growing up and maturing ;) entails a transformative yet long and winding journey where one faces all aspects of one’s self and past. It can be exceptionally challenging and is not all light and laughter as much new age spirituality seemingly lopsidedly focuses on.

        Joseph Campbell’s “The Heroe’s Journey” and
        Jack Kornfield’s “A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spritual Life”

        both address these issues.

        Reply
    2. Elizabeth Burton

      There are many mind-warping cults that use meditation as the basis of their “philosophy.” It’s entirely possible your relative is involved with one of those.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You nailed the key problem, propensity to or actual cultishness.

        Many people who wind up in the New Age are not happy with their lives. They may also be not happy people in general. They might have had a life shock (death of someone close, divorce, job loss) and are looking outside their normal community for answers. That can make them particularly vulnerable to cults.

        And a lot of the cults don’t look terribly cult like and may not ask participants to give over their lives or tithe. But the group leader(s), who often have genuine skills or insights, become quasi parental figures and too many of the people around them become followers, and if you don’t adhere to group norms (whatever they are) you are ostracized.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          Self help book section dilemma….

          “I” was raised not to think or evaluate environmental bias, social imperatives dictate the need to conform, too not do so, creates social impediments which can be both income and inclusiveness millstones e.g. built in friction i.e. structural social evolution hamstringing.

          My only question is it structual or random….

          Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          Just last week on the Joe Rogan podcast he was talking about his experience of martial arts schools – he reckons about 5% or so have definite ‘cultish’ elements – all it needs is a sensei or teacher who allows his pupils respect to go to his head and you end up with vulnerable people being led down a dangerous path.

          You can see the same thing even with self help or sales schemes – I was unwillingly dragged a few weeks ago by a friend to a ‘seminar’ on starting your own business and I was alarmed at how the whole thing revolved around cultish devotion to the ‘sales guru’ who was clearly mixing up simple mantras on positive thinking with what was very close to a pyramid scheme. Many of the enthusiasts there were very obviously rather lonely and vulnerable.

          Reply
    3. Roger Bigod

      Google “meditation bad effects”. There’s a variety of them.

      There’s a big review of dozens of papers suggesting that all forms of meditation share the slowing of EEG frequency into the alpha and lower theta frequency ranges. (Google “Brain activity and meditation”.) This was first observed in the 1960’s (in SF, of course). Neuroback to get the subject to stay in this frequency range soon followed, but hasn’t gone anywhere, obviously. The benefit appears to be the practice of controlling attention, rather than any frequency change. But this is very difficult to monitor without high-tech observations.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Based on my personal experience, I beg to differ, but the plural of anecdote is not data.

        I meditated the conventional way and dropped it for a while. A buddy who was a very seasoned and dedicated meditator (the 2x a day type for decades), told me about an aural method where you used sound played at slightly different frequencies into each ear to force the brain into a meditative state. Your brain will be there no matter what you are thinking.

        Now he did this while trying to get into a meditative state through his usual methods, and he said with the headset meditation, he got into a deeper state much faster.

        So I used it not bothering to quiet my thoughts.

        I happen to be very volatile emotionally anxious. After doing this headset meditation for a while, I no longer got the “heart in my throat” reaction when something went wrong with my computer. People who knew me even commented that I was less quickly alarmed. I did not get those results from my previous go at meditation, and I had been at it 2x a day for about 4 years.

        Reply
        1. Roger Bigod

          You’re discussing “binaural beats”, which is distinct from “bioback”.
          Binaural beats are a form of entrainment; bioback isn’t. There’s good evidence for effectiveness of binaural beats, but with a sizeable accretion of wooh. Google “binaural beats”, then the filtered version
          “ncbi binaural beats” for peer-reviewed scientific papers. A good one is

          It discusses trait anxiety which appears to relate to your case.

          A general criticism is that there are few attempts to compare characteristics if the stimulus (frequency, duration) with clinical outcome.

          Neuroback has variants, but the version I recall from the 70’s used a single channel of EEG and sound output. When the EEG was in the alpha range, the output was a tone. The user tried to keep the tone going. This approach is still used by some therapists and consumer programs, but it hasn’t lived up to the expectations based on the discovery that most forms of meditation boost alpha and lower frequencies.

          Reply
        2. Roger Bigod

          You’re discussing “binaural beats”, which is distinct from “bioback”.
          Binaural beats are a form of entrainment; bioback isn’t. There’s good evidence for effectiveness of binaural beats, with a sizeable accretion of wooh. Google “binaural beats”, then the filtered version “ncbi binaural beats” for peer-reviewed scientific papers. A good one is

          It discusses trait anxiety which appears to relate to your situation.

          Neuroback has variants, but the version I recall from the 70’s used a single channel of EEG and sound output. When the EEG was in the alpha range, the output was a tone. The user tried to keep the tone going. This approach is still used by some therapists and consumer programs, but it hasn’t lived up to expectations based on the discovery that most forms of meditation boost alpha and lower frequencies.

          Reply
  28. Oregoncharles

    From the Scientific (?) American article on the metaphysics of multiple personality disorder:

    “A key problem of physicalism, however, is its inability to make sense of how our subjective experience of qualities—what it is like to feel the warmth of fire, the redness of an apple, the bitterness of disappointment and so on—could arise from mere arrangements of physical stuff.”

    Sorry, but that strikes me as unmitigated BS. What do they think neurology is for? It attempts to describe the links between physical reality and experience. Granted there is still a great deal to learn, the real problem here is giving “subjective experience” some sort of mystical existence. That’s just special pleading. It’s already undercut by the reality that multiple personalities are detectable on an EEG. That’s physicality, whether or not we understand all the workings.

    What’s truly interesting is that our brains have enough capacity to run multiple identities on the same wetware, like multiple servers in the same computer. AND adjust the body’s physical operations accordingly – another example is that one my have diabetes and another not. Finding out how they do that would be well worthwhile.

    Reply
  29. David

    You can do meditation “poorly” in the sense of unskilfully, but I must confess, in some decades of interest and practice I’ve never come across any actual negative results. But the article just goes to show that, if you have problems in the first place, almost anything can hurt you. In itself, as the article suggests, meditation isn’t narcissistic – indeed, it’s the reverse, because it should quiet the thought-stream which often confuse with our real self. But there are so many schools of meditation (not to mention mindfulness, which is often confused with it), and so many alleged experts selling meditation as a way to business or personal success, that it’s a good idea to choose wisely.

    Reply
    1. curlydan

      Definitely agree there are a ton of schools of meditation. I can’t offer much advice on which ones might be better, but here’s one suggestion: never pay to learn how to meditate.

      Reply
  30. Jessica

    Multiple levels on which yoga and meditation can create turbulence with others.
    On the most superficial, some people identify as New Age but do not actually practice any spiritual discipline seriously enough for it to work.
    One level deeper, yoga and meditation, like any other human activity, can be used to boost one’s self-esteem. In a culture that is so filled with messages about your inadequacy or that work to generate fear of missing out (FOMO), spiritual practices are some of the more sensible defenses. But just because a practitioner feels better about themself does not mean that they will act in a way that will make others feel better.
    Another level deeper, when meditation or yoga is practiced well enough to reduce one’s belief that one is just the collection of behavior patterns and identities that make up the ego/self, then one goes out of alignment with the various arrangements among selves, many of which are unspoken or outright unconscious.
    One example is that most of us have various rules according to which a statement like “You made me feel xxx” can be seen as valid or invalid. We have the right to feel certain ways under certain conditions and we invoke those rights. As the belief in the ego/self loosens, those rules may dissolve. One may see that one’s feelings are a choice that each individual is making for themself, rather than something imposed by external circumstances (such as how someone else is acting). When people experiencing things in these different ways (you made me feel XXX vs. I choose all my own feelings and so do you) interact, this can be difficult.
    This loss of alignment may be handled gracefully or less so. In a culture that so strongly emphasizes the narrowest sense of self, this is more of an issue, even more so in the more liberal parts of society, which tend to be freer from the traditional webs of mutual obligation.
    At a yet deeper level, yoga and meditation and other practices that develop one beyond the limits of the ego/self have themselves not fully matured yet. In their fullest expression, these practices are profoundly subversive of any and all power hierarchies. If you and I are both really Buddhas who just haven’t quite noticed that yet, then how come you get to be a billionaire and I get to sleep under a bridge?
    In the societies that these practices come from, they have been held back to fit within the existing society. Tibet was a partial exception to this because it was basically ungovernable until the advent of modern technology (1950 or so). (Because of its harsh climate, Tibet did not produce enough to support enough of an elite to keep everyone in line.)
    This freeing of yoga and meditation is only starting to happen now and can not be completed until society as a whole reaches a higher level of maturity. For the time being, the result is that even the most spiritually advanced can make big mistakes in the way they live in this world. This primarily affects the students of such advanced practitioners, but as Wild, Wild Country showed, there can be spillover into the rest of the world.
    These practices are not for everyone, but when they are done right, they can be enormously beneficial. It would be a pity if people who could benefit from these practices are put off by seeing them mis-applied.

    Reply
  31. gonzomarx

    Re: Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe and Everything? Scientific American

    “.. we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we’re the imagination of ourselves” .
    Bill Hick still ahead of his time

    Reply
    1. David

      I think the Vedantic and Tantric traditions of India got there first, about three thousand years ago. What’s known as “advaita” or “non-duality” says exactly this. There are good books by westerners like Rupert Spira, Scott Kiloby and James Swartz. As Spira put its beautifully we are “dreams in the mind of God.”

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Could multiverse idea explain multiple personality disorder (in that case, it’s not a disorder)?

      “That sporadic personality of mind comes from another universe.”

      Reply
    3. Plenue

      Well, he’s wrong about all matter being slowly vibrating condensed energy.

      And even if he wasn’t, this: “we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively”, would still be a non sequitur. In fact it’s downright nonsensical. First it assumes that ‘consciousness’ is something that has coherent meaning outside the context of a brain. And secondly, just because we’re all made of the same raw materials doesn’t mean that the combinations that make up each one of us aren’t unique. The evidence is that what constituents ‘us’ is an emergent process of our brains.

      The Scientific American article is bizarre, because it seems to have a giant blind spot for the notion that a whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

      Reply
  32. Oregoncharles

    “Americans are drowning in student-loan debt. The U.S. should forgive all of it. Washington Post”

    That was a Jill Stein campaign position. Now it’s on WaPo?

    Reply
  33. precariat

    Microsoft’s Ethical Reckoning:

    Echoing JTMcPHee’s comment above, ethical and Microsoft don’t go together. And MS has purchased what has been a great coding commons for many, Github. It will be a data goldmine no doubt. Said of MS: they strategically embrace, extend, extinquish.

    I think it is important that the tech workers resist a slide into immoral, totalitarian uses of their work. The resistance of the middle ‘technocrats’ is an effective one.
    I hope they know citizens are paying attention and appreciate their stands.

    Reply
  34. The Rev Kev

    “Net Neutrality And The Broken Windows Fallacy”

    This reminds me of a clip from the film “Fifth Element” in which a main character demonstrates the principle of Broken Windows – more or less.

    Reply

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