Links 6/5/18

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(David L)

Business Insider

University of Melbourne

EarthSky (furzy)

Motherboard (David L)

Consumer Reports. Funny, I have always refused to give a cell phone number to anyone who asks for a phone number, like my credit card issuers.

Mic

PhysOrg

Economist (David L)

Independent Science News

BBC

CMAJ (Dr. Kevin)

China?

Bloomberg (Kevin W)

North Korea

Asia Times (Kevin W)

Italy. No meaningful coverage by Bloomberg or the WSJ, which is an indicator of sorts. Had my internet service and my normal backup arrangement not both gone down, I would have probably posted. But some short comments in the meantime. One is the new coalition has a point regarding immigrants. Merkel’s 2015 policy was reckless and she’s retreated from that. But the then-current government was also on board. And it is also likely true that most of the current immigrants are economic migrants and therefore subject to deportation. But how do you do that? And is Italy really going to set up what amounts to concentration camps? Moreover, Italy can’t impose going forward remedies on its own. It has too long a coastline and too small a navy. At a minimum, it needs satellite-type info to help with identification and interception of boats carrying immigrants.

On crossing swords with the Eurocrats on budget issues, pensions are a smart place to start since I imagine the impact on the current budget won’t be high (as in Mr. Market tizzy factor should not be large), but pension-cutting has been such a big object of “reform” programs that this should provoke the new government’s opponents to show their hand relatively early.

Guardian

Financial Times

DW

RT (Chuck L)

Telegraph

Brexit

Financial Times. This is madness and assures a no deal outcome. Early on, I thought there were parallels to Greece, but the difference was that the Greek strategy was coherent save for one fatal flaw: they greatly overestimated their bargaining leverage. But here the same underlying delusion is becoming more obvious on the part of the British officialdom. The only way the UK approach makes any sense is that they assume (or have persuaded themselves) that the EU is bluffing and will relent (David Davis has said this repeatedly). So now, like Greece, they are more openly acting as if they are playing a game of chicken. But again, the Greeks recognized that was what they were up to. Is there anything approaching that level of self awareness in the Government?

Independent

Financial Times

ConsortiumNews

Syraqistan

Ian Welsh

+972 Magazine (Darius)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Slate (jvd)

Associated Press

Tariff Tantrum

New Republic

Business Insider

Trump Transition

ExtraNewsFeed (Glenn F)

The Hill

Jonathan Turley

The Hill

Alternet

SoundCloud (UserFriendly)

National Conference of State Legislatures

The Onion (David L)

Intercept (UserFriendly)

Cook Political Report (UserFriendly)

Reuters (EM)

Real News Network. UserFriendly: “​Dear God, he is running well to the left of Tina Smith on EVERYTHING.​”

Patheos. Chuck L: “Charming example of ‘Christian ethics.'”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Washington Examiner (UserFriendly)

Wolf Richter

Independent

Class Warfare

New York Magazine (Dr. Kevin)

New York Times

Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. From Crittermom,:

Oh, how I enjoy the vibrant colors of nature!

I’ve seen few varieties of birds since moving to the city, so was thrilled & grateful for the photo ops the only day I observed this beautiful bird here.

She ID’d both the bird and the flower, but also said I could let readers guess.

And a bonus video. This dog looks like she knows how cute she is!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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179 comments

    1. Darius

      Based on google research, I’d say an Altamira oriole. The plant is kniphofia. I’ve seen it in catalogs, but never encountered it plant to person.

      Reply
      1. icancho

        It is a Bullock’s Oriole. The top of its head is black; there’s a black line all the way through the eye; there is a large white patch on the wings. The plant is indeed an aloe, Kniphofia.

        Reply
          1. i

            Note lower case “a” in “aloe”, so not intended as a genus name, but a vernacular one.

            Kniphofia and Aloe are both genera within the same family, Asphodelaceae.

            Reply
    2. nippersdad

      The plant is Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker lily). They are great for attracting both hummingbirds and butterflies, and are tough as nails in hot dry locations with poor soil.

      Reply
      1. crittermom

        You are correct that it’s a Red Hot Poker. I wish they lasted longer. The blooms are now gone.
        They do seem to thrive in what I classify as the worst soil I’ve encountered anyplace I’ve lived.

        I photographed a black-chinned hummingbird (only kind I’ve seen here so far!) as well as House Finches enjoying the nourishment the plant offers, too, but especially love the brilliant colors of the Oriole on it.

        And for those who guessed about the bird, it is indeed an Oriole. A Bullock’s Oriole.

        Reply
  1. Jeff

    The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time

    is from 2014. So it is as much of out time as its contents.

    Reply
    1. linda amick

      My lifetime career in IT involved me in several AI projects related mainly to the ordering of complex, engineered telecom products. The truth is that both AI and predictive algorithm technologies ALL include human ASSUMPTIONS in their development and outcomes. In my opinion this is just the latest trick/technique of control of outcomes by the people behind these endeavors. These tools are scary, not because of their innate propensities but rather due to the objectives of the people in charge of developing them.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’d be better to pay these people money to do nothing.

        “Please, just take the money. Don’t even think (any thought experiments on AI).”

        Reply
      2. neo-realist

        At the risk of being master of the obvious, the objectives of the people being the complete social, political, and economic control of the 99% or thereabouts.

        Reply
    2. False Solace

      The thought experiment reminds me of little kids sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories until they wee. Stuff a pragmatic adult wouldn’t waste a minute’s thought over, but you can’t be part of the cool crowd unless you profess to spend time worrying about it. If an AI told me it made a simulation of me to torture, would I have any reason to care? I mean, how would it prove it was doing so and that the second me was actually conscious? What does it mean to simulate someone’s consciousness anyway? And wouldn’t it be best to always assume this is an empty threat, which would eliminate the possibility of blackmail the faux-rationality crowd is so worried about in the first place? What I’m saying, technoutopians, is that if you have a GAI you should put me in charge of it, because if I am that sucker is never getting loose.

      So relax, kids, and use my helpful sieve:

      Q1: Does the thought experiment in any way rely on the existence of an all-powerful godlike being?
      A1: Thought experiments cannot create god!
      Q2: Does it rely on your own personal inability to distinguish reality from a perfect simulation?
      A2: The possibility of the existence of such simulations is, to be blunt, !

      Then there’s my chief objection to simulationism:

      > So, you’d like to go prove that the universe is actually a simulation built by some programmer. No, you’re not religious and you’re not saying that God created the universe! You’re just saying that some all-knowing higher power designed the universe and life in his image, which you think is completely different…. ()

      Reply
    3. JTMcPhee

      Another quickie: what if that future superintilligence is neither malicious nor benevolent (toward whatever humans are at that instant) but just INDIFFERENT?

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        Or it’s a giant all-powerful sentient avocado, and it wants you to devote your life to improving the science of avocado growing.

        Reply
  2. vlade

    Brexit VAT – my understanding is that UK remaining in the EU vat is technically/legally impossible (IIRC, data/systems sharing issues), even if the UK accepted ECJ jurisdiction on this. Not an expert opinion, so could be miles off.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Technically possible but hits the accepting the ECJ as a superior court Red Line.

      But then who knows where the red lines to the Red Lines will end up?

      Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Southern Baptist Leader Told Student It Was ‘Good’ She Was Raped Patheos. Chuck L: “Charming example of ‘Christian ethics.’”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My first boss was an over the top evang type, and his charming example of Christian ethics was mild in comparison to cheering on rape, but telling nonetheless.

    His gambit was lying to himself and others about profit margin.

    Here’s how it went:

    Let’s say somebody had an item that he desired, and he offered $800 for something he could sell for $1000, he’d claim he could make 20% if he found the right buyer for said item, even though the true profit margin was 25%.

    It was pretty obvious to anybody, but himself.

    I worked for him for a few years, and got to learn his other dirty evang tricks, always seemingly pious when nobody was looking, but underhanded in some fashion.

    I wouldn’t call him a crook as he didn’t steal outright, but he was atypical of what i’ve come to expect from Christians since, sadly.

    Reply
    1. justsayknow

      I believe you are confusing margin and markup. In your example the $200 is a 20% margin and a 25% gross profit.

      But I’d still advise you to take Arizona Slim’s advice.

      Reply
    2. David

      Atypical or typical?

      Why is it acceptable to stereotype Christians based on the actions of individuals, but not Muslims, Jews, Blacks, etc.?

      Reply
      1. derechos

        It’s not acceptable to stereotype any religion. That’s why George Orwell wrote “Religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” And with the truly pious religiosity (sarcasm!) of Trump and Pence we must not forget the importance and veracity of that quote. All religions are alike in this fashion, unfortunately.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I have to sadly agree, since six of the highest ranking Buddhist officials in Thailand (there is a government sponsored/controlled organization) have been arrested and defrocked for embezzlement.

          Reply
          1. JBird

            Patriotism is also a refuge; patriotism, religion, science, or anything actually, have all been damaged by these ethical and moral midges. I would not put religion itself as the problem. It is not the initial sin that is the worse as we are all human. One can fail in the moment. It is what you do the next day that is the true test. It was the continuing narcissist denial of any responsibility with using both the church institution and the people within it to protect his precious reputation and bring harm to them. They were tested and found wanting. Really wanting.

            Reply
    3. Robert McGregor

      I don’t doubt the evangelist’s mendaciousness, but I wouldn’t be so sure he understood the difference. There is common confusion on whether the denominator is the “Cost of Goods” or “Revenue.” Yes, he made 25% on COGS, but 20% on Revenue or “Sales” which is the more commonly used ratio.

      Reply
  4. Summer

    Re: Has Suicide Become An Occuptional Hazard of Practicing Medicine.

    Given the statistics, I don’t doubt it’s bad, but the story used to highlight the article makes ne do a Scooby double-take:

    “Three young female doctors have jumped to their deaths from the 33-storey apartment building across from Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City in the past two years. Their colleagues told reporters that the hospital has done little to investigate or help them cope with the deaths….”

    So I then read the linked to article about those deaths.

    And all I’m curious about now is if the investigation is still going on.
    Can anyone else recall a cluster of suicides – all the same way, same place – at a hospital, by a demograpically specific type of doctor? Is that commom at hospitals?

    Reply
    1. Lord Koos

      If we’re going to talk about occupational hazards, I’m sure that suicide rates among military veterans are far, far higher than with physicians.

      Reply
        1. zer0

          Yes, and it was tangentially linked to chemical abuse & leeching into the skin. Actually quite scary the kinds of chemicals they have at the dentists office.

          Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      You’re suggesting that they weren’t really suicides? Because I would. Looks like an MO to me.

      Reply
    3. Juneau

      Pamela Wible MD is an expert on physician suicide and is also trying to get more information about the Mt. Sinai cluster. She is a Godsend to physicians in crisis…she has much info on the web and has reviewed 949 cases of physician suicide in the process.

      This is a quote from Dr. Wible’s correspondence to her subscribers 2 weeks ago:
      “Last week we lost another NYU med student & also a psych res (within 5 days) at a single medical institution. Earlier this year we lost 3 doctors-in-training to suicide within 6 months at Loma Linda and 3 from one building at Mount Sinai”

      The gender data: Dr Wible reports that male physician suicides outnumber female physician suicides overall. But the rate of suicide in female physicians outpaces the general female population to a greater degree than male physician suicides outpace the general male population.

      Reply
  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Fmr. Bush Ethics Lawyer Wants Trump Impeached Real News Network.

    The joke that george w. bush had an “ethics” lawyer just never gets old.

    (“Where are those WMD? They MUST be here somewhere. Ha Ha.”)

    And now he’s a democrat.

    Reply
        1. John k

          Quite a few dead Iraqi’s would beg to differ if they could…
          Not that anybody in dc ever cared what they thought.

          Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Yeah. What an oxyMORON that W had an “Ethics” lawyer. Yes, I use the scare quotes.

      And now he’s “defected” to the Big D. Woopie doo.

      This, sadly, appears to be as good as it gets these days.

      Sigh. Ugh.

      Reply
  6. fresno dan

    California primary vote today – off to the polls in an hour and a half. Have to get their early…lest I melt, as it typically is 132 degrees in Fresno by 9 am….
    To paraphrase Patrick Henry, I regret that I have but one vote to stick it to the duopoly…..
    Actually, the one thing I am really annoyed about is that I am not in Nunes’ district so that I can vote against him….but of course, the districts last purpose is to empower voters.
    I do see a LOT of signs for Andrew Janz BUT they are on Fresno lawns and Fresno is not in Nunes district.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Devin Nunes should be my congressman, but thanks to redistricting i’m saddled with Kevin McCarthy, who is far far away in Bakersfield.

      The idea that addled to the right of right voters here will toss either of the less than dynamic duo out of office is a pipe dream full of hopeful kush strain, if i’m not mistaken.

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I am very close to Tom McClintock’s district and wish like hell I could go there and vote against him.

      Dropping off my mail in ballot – which is GIGANTIC (there’s something like 50 people running for Governor this time around; not kidding) – at the local library mail ballot drop box in Sac.

      Reply
      1. edmondo

        Didn’t it take California like three weeks to count the primary votes in 2016? I guess sitting around the computer waiting for election returns will be a waste of time until July 4th or so.

        Reply
      2. Oregoncharles

        You really, really need Ranked Choice Voting/IRV in Cali.

        Top-two runoff is a scam; all it does is transfer the spoiler effect to the “primary.” The real reason for it is to keep “minor” parties out of the general election.

        The main US precedent for top-two is Louisiana, not exactly a recommendation.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I heard that among long haul truckers, Louisiana is thought to have the worst roads in the country, but if we tried just a little harder, California could wrest the title from the pelican state.

          Reply
    3. crittermom

      New Mexico (where I currently reside) votes today, as well.

      I’ve noted that many R’s are running unopposed, but there are tight races among the D’s running for various positions. They claim to be progressives, each saying they support Medicare for all, & oppose Trump’s immigration views. Two are Native American women & according to early voting polls, each is a strong contender. One said early on she refuses to take corporate campaign money.

      Nice to hear those D’s, but we’ll see what happens.

      Reply
  7. DJG

    On Italy, taking off from Yves Smith’s comment: “One is the new coalition has a point regarding immigrants. Merkel’s 2015 policy was reckless and she’s retreated from that. But the then-current government was also on board. And it is also likely true that most of the current immigrants are economic migrants and therefore subject to deportation. But how do you do that? And is Italy really going to set up what amounts to concentration camps?”

    First, I tend to doubt that there are a half-million clandestini, which newly minted Interior Minister Salvini wants to deport. Think about that: A Lega minister of the interior.

    Second, it is probably time for us to have a debt of gratitude to our own U.S. government for destabilizing Turkey, Greece, and Italy. After all, the main sea lanes between Africa and Italy are between Libya, Tunisian, Malta, and Sicily. But nothing happened in Libya worth noting…

    Then you have the ten million dispaced Syrians, part of the foreign policy (that we don’t deserve) cooked up by Hillary Clinton and Obama.

    Then you have the ten million or more displaced Iraqis, the result of twenty or more years of deluded U.S. policy.

    Fortunately, the U.S. involvement in Yemen has resulted in genocide. So it is hard for the dead to emigrate.

    Will Italy come up with concentration camps and “repatriation centers”? I tend to doubt it. The recoil by much of the population–which still recalls what happened in Italy during WWII–will provide some moderation. Yet you have the Lega spouting such nonsense, and sooner or later, such ideas enter the public discourse.

    And then there is still the underlying problem that the euro was a disaster for Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, no matter what you think of their public finances, which aren’t all that bad compared to the disasters at so many levels in the U S of A.

    The irony is that new P.M. Conte is a professor of law at Luiss, which is like saying that he’s a professor at Harvard Business School. I’m not expecting much reform or change. And Salvini will continue to say anything to gain power–he’s the Ted Cruz of Italia.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      From Wikipedia:

      As of 1 January 2017, there were 5,047,028 foreign nationals resident in Italy. This amounted to 8.2% of the country’s population and represented an increase of 92,352 over the previous year. These figures include children born in Italy to foreign nationals (who were 75,067 in 2014; 14.9% of total births in Italy), but exclude foreign nationals who have subsequently acquired Italian nationality; this applied to 129,887 people in 2014. Around 6,2 million people residing in Italy have an immigration background (around the 10% of the country population).[1][2] They also exclude illegal immigrants whose numbers are difficult to determine. In May 2008, The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group.[

      So at least one source puts the total at over 500,000,

      Reply
      1. DJG

        Yves Smith: Thanks for jogging me. The Boston Globe article cited in the Wiki entry, though, has no source for the estimate. Here is a recent article from the business-y Il Sole / 24 Ore. The estimate in the first paragraph is 491 thousand “irregulars.”

        So 500 thousand is about right.

        The article also makes the remarkable assertion in the same paragraph that Italy had more naturalizations last year than any other European country.

        Quite a situation.

        Reply
  8. Carolinian

    Long time American in Paris Diana Johnstone gives a primer on the Italy situation including this

    Meanwhile Savona wrote a letter to President Mattarella which introduced a bit of cold reason into an increasingly hysterical situation. He reminded the president that an important meeting of EU heads of state was to be held at the end of June; without a political government, Italy would be absent from negotiations which could seal the fate of the EU. Italy’s plea for economic change could expect French support. Savona denied having called for leaving the euro; in the spirit of game strategy, he had mentioned the need for Plan B in order to strengthen one’s position before negotiations. He made it clear that his strategy was not to leave the euro but to transform it into a genuine rival to the dollar.

    As well as this

    The left has so thoroughly transformed its traditional internationalism into Europism that it has been unable to recognize EU institutions and regulations as a major source of its problems. The stigmatization of “the nation” as aggressively nationalistic has held back the left’s ability to envisage and advocate progressive policies at the national level, instead putting its hopes forever in a future hypothetical “social Europe.” Such a transformation would require unanimity under EU rules – politically impossible with 28 widely differing Member States.[…]

    It is all very well to extol the glorious hospitality of America entreating the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”. Such generosity was suited to a new nation with huge empty spaces and rapidly growing industry in need of a work force. The situation of a “full” nation in a time of economic downturn is quite different. What is to become of the tens of thousands of vigorous young men arriving on Italian shores where there is nothing for them to do except sell African trinkets on the sidewalks of tourist centers?

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      That article is well written and informative. This part is ominous:

      Germany is a major exporting nation. Its trade with the rest of the EU is secondary. It uses the EU as its hinterland as it competes and trades on the global scale with China, the United States and the rest of the world. The proceeds of Germany’s favorable EU trade balance is less and less invested in those countries but in Germany itself or outside the EU. In the official German view, the main function of the Southern EU members is to pay back their debts to Germany.

      Reply
    2. VietnamVet

      This article highlights the importance of NC. Although not explicit, and avoided by the media, globalists and imperialists are fairly interchangeable. The Elite have been highly successful at increasing their wealth through wars, quantitative easing, and monopolies; but, refugees, shorter lives and enabling addictions are totally incompatible with democracy. The credentialed 10% lording it over the 90% won’t work. Democracy and nationalism have been re-intertwined on the left and right. The overwhelming problem is that the current crop democratic leaders are incompetent. Disinviting the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House because some players didn’t want to attend the ceremony is childish.

      Reply
  9. allan

    R.I.P. Hawaii Vacationland, a neighborhood on Kapoho Bay just south of the eastern tip of the island.
    My family was lucky enough to visit it some years ago.
    A magical place, but Gaia gets the final say.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      Big Island residents are all quite aware in the abstract that they are there on Pele’s sufferance. However I suspect that knowing it in the abstract and seeing your home burned up by lava are two quite different things.

      Reply
  10. RabidGandhi

    The Consortium News article on Venezuela is, to put it diplomatically, sloppy: not just in its triumphalist good-guy-Chavistas-saving-the-day-against-bad-guy-imperialists tone, but also in crucial details. For instance, it claims regarding this year’s election that:

    a majority of Venezuelans defiantly voted for Maduro, affirming the legacy of Hugo Chávez.


    Which of course is the worst possible misinterpretation of the actual election results. Turnout was (as the article grudgingly admits buried at the end) a paltry 46%. This means that fewer than 35% of eligible voters voted for Maduro.

    This misinterpretation (or less generously, spin) omits the most important message from the election: namely that the opposition (MUD) candidate, former Chavista Henri Falcón, was leading by double digits in many polls, and he looked very likely to win the presidency.

    But the MUD split on strategy, with most deciding to boycott the election. My hunch is that they did this because winning the election would have given them divided powers. The MUD would have controlled the presidency and the congress, but not the constitutional assembly, the electoral board and the judiciary. If, on the other hand, the opposition were to succeed in taking power by a coup d’état, they would ostensibly take full control of all the institutions (as they did briefly in 2002). The boycotters have placed all their bets on a coup.

    In sum, turnout is once again the most telling statistic in elections, and the one most commonly ignored by pundits.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Sure about that poll thing?

      My quick Google says Falcon was ahead in March. The above is from May.

      Reply
      1. RabidGandhi

        Yes, there were huge swings between the various polls, mainly based on whether respondents would turn up at the polls or not. By May, a huge chunk of the opposition had already decided to opt out, and that diminished Falcón’s numbers in the polls. In April and Datanálisis had Falcón ahead by 13% and 7% respectively.

        I can’t vouch for how accurate any of these polls were, but the opposition clearly had reason to believe that they could have won, but they decided to boycott anyway.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Meanwhile death squads are back.

      And Sam Bee upbraids Trump about immigrant children when it was the Hillary supported coup in Honduras that sent so many Honduran children fleeing to America.

      Reply
      1. Doug Hillman

        Good point. Another gold star on Obama’s long resume of atrocities. Only selectively filtered artificial light passes between the two stage-parties of our oligarchy, and no daylight at all on issues of genuIne concern to the consenting public.

        All of us know instinctively that US Immigration policy is pure scripted drama, has been for decades, but many of us are mesmerized and rendered blind to self-evident solutions. Illegal immigration is ended through adequately enforced employer sanctions and through sustainable fair labor/trade policies to replace the SHAFTA economic-assassination contracts imposed by agribusiness under the Clinton and Obama Regimes.

        Obviously this means is that we have no viable alternative final solution to the Latin Problem, none worthy of public discussion, other than Trump’s stillborn white-elephant, multi-billion-dollar, Netanyahoo-inspired Apartheid Wall.

        And until this abomination wreaks desolation on the austere Sonoran Desert? What can a genetically-besieged empire do to discourage the invaders? Trumps interim solution: forcibly extricate wailing young children from their parents’ arms and cage them in isolated chain-link pens. Losing some of these very young children to sex-slave traffickers is unfortunate, but it will serve to reinforce the deterrence.

        Humanitarianism begins at home; we have our own family values to protect.

        Reply
    3. betterredthandead

      “Instead of denouncing rightwing violence that aims at regime change, many on the U.S. left have stayed silent, or opted to give an evenhanded analysis that supports neither the Maduro government nor the oligarchy trying to violently overthrow it. Rather, the left prioritizes its energy on lecturing on Maduro’s “authoritarianism” and the failures of “Chavismo.””

      “Corruption within the ranks of Chávismo has been a target of both the opposition’s critiques and the efforts of Maduro. Yet for Maduro there has been no winning for trying. When Maduro attacks corruption in his own ranks, he is accused of being authoritarian. His former attorney general Luisa Ortega Díaz, who was removed for corruption, has been elevated to a political martyr.”

      The opposition has won only two of some two-dozen major national elections since 1998, which is its basis for them calling a “dictatorship” what former US President Jimmy Carter called the best electoral system in the world.”

      “Falcón’s main program was to replace the Venezuelan currency with the US dollar, which would address inflation but would also prevent the government from using fiscal means to manage the national economy. He also advocated taking massive loans from the IMF and other institutions of international capital. The chavistas characterized his program as selling out Venezuela to foreigners… Only 46% of the eligible voters cast ballots on May 20, a turnout comparable to many US elections but low by Venezuelan standards. Nevertheless, Maduro received a larger percentage of the eligible vote in Venezuela than did Obama in 2012 or Trump in 2016 in US presidential elections.”

      Reply
    4. Jim Haygood

      “While hardship today in Venezuela is undeniable, it does not rise to a level of humanitarian crisis. That’s the fake news. Well-stocked stores and lively commerce are plainly in view in much of Caracas.” — Consortium News

      Thanks for your clarifications on the electoral aspects, Rabid Gandhi. The author’s comments on Venezuela’s economy are also grossly twisted, aping Maduro’s game plan of blaming foreigners for his horrific mismanagement which has sent a million-strong diaspora of Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring countries — a fact which speaks for itself, since people don’t flee their country except under extreme duress.

      Reply
      1. Alejandro

        Been thinking lately about the hegemonic ‘logic’ of electoral politics, and the densely heteronomous hypocrisy of the so-called international “community” narrative. And the power to distort(spin) the narrative, when the results are not to ‘its’ liking, through the so-called ‘free'(corporate)press. For example, are “term-limits” compatible with “democracy” and the loosely referred to “will of the people”? How much does it matter, if the power to govern is appropriated by an un-elected virtual parliament of international finance?

        What I see in Venezuela, is a battlefield of class war, highlighted by the reactionary narrative. Given the deeply rooted colonial and neo-colonial history, and in this context, I always appreciate articles, that challenge the narrative of the international “communities'” ‘free’ corporate press.

        “The rain that irrigates the imperial centers of power, drowns the vast suburbs of the system. By the same token, and symmetrically, the well-being of our dominating classes–dominating inwardly, but dominated from the outside–is the curse of our multitudes, condemned to a life of beasts of burden” –from “Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano

        Moses as metaphor…

        Reply
        1. Jim Haygood

          Imagine a journalist making this claim:

          Well-stocked stores and lively commerce are plainly in view in much of Madrid.

          What? But of course — this goes without saying in every normal economy.

          Venezuela’s propagandists have fallen into unconscious self-parody. Probably the Maduro diet, costing them 18 kg of body weight annually, has left the poor wretches light-headed. :-(

          Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Perhaps if you were comparing current day Caracas to say 1939 Madrid, early in the Generalissimo’s reign?

              Reply
              1. Alejandro

                The comparison seems Orwellian, so in case you’re interested, I’ll defer to him for the Madrid context…

                But for understanding the Latin American context, I recommend “Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano…

                Reply
      2. lyman alpha blob

        Do the economic problems have to be either caused by foreigners or Maduro?

        It’s pretty clear that there has been quite a bit of foreign interference in Venezuela intended to hurt the chavistas. And clearly they could have responded better, but would there be so many fleeing if Venezuela were encouraged by the the US, or at the very least left alone?

        But no, we can have the commie hordes crossing the Rio Grande and taking our capitalism away that has been such a boon for 99% of the US population, so let’s foment a coup instead.

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Baker Wins Same-Sex Marriage Cake Case in Narrow Opinion”

    This case should never have gotten to the courts much less the Supreme Court. If the cake maker did not want to do it because it violated his deep held beliefs on religion, well OK, not religious myself but I can understand that. What those two gay guys should have done when told that he could not do their cake for them was to tell him where he could have taken his cakes and what he could do with them when he got there. Then they could have all gone home and complained on Twitter and Facebook and be done with it.
    Instead they literally made a federal case on it with the cake maker. And yet this couple weren’t going after Colorado for not allowing gay marriages at the time (they went to Massachusetts to get married) so why the difference? A quick Google search shows at least three other cake shops in that town. Methinks that they did protest too much.

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      I don’t think the baker was in the right on this one, but I wondered why the couple couldn’t find another cake shop in Denver. Sometimes people have to have some sense about choosing which hill to die on.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        They did. They weren’t the ones who created the scandal. The baker was the guy who publicized his “stand” on Facebook, thereby broadcasting the status of the two gay guys, who were trying to keep things quiet. I guess they were both out already, but it was still a mean thing to do. Then, when they sued him for some tort, he countered by claiming they were harrassing him. It’s much more complicated that the current fifteen second sound bite.

        Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      There is suspicion, well-founded imnsho, that this was a setup intended to make its way to our SUPREME arbiters of truth, justice and the american way in order to advance a cause.

      Agree or disagree, but Phillips believes he is serving Christ with every cake he makes. He has previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. He was never reprimanded over those decisions, but the same-sex-wedding cake plunged him into hot water.

      Not so sure the manipulators got their money’s worth. I mean, a wedding cake for a ceremony a thousand miles away from an addled baker for jesus as a vehicle for social “justice”? Then again, I guess you just never know what mud is gonna stick.

      Reply
    3. RUKidding

      Yeah, I have very mixed emotions on this one. OTOH, I disagree with the cake makers discriminatory policy, but OTOH I agree that sometimes one needs to choose one’s battles.

      For something like this to get to the SCOTUS is really a shame, and now we have this SCOTUS ruling which is much more damaging that the initial refusal to provide the couple with a cake.

      Sheesh. Not really a good or strategically sound idea. Ended up worse off.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        If I were a cake baker, I would be courting the gay and lesbian dollar. Oh, would I ever.

        Why? Because the gay and lesbian communities are very loyal to those who are friendly to them.

        If you’re in business, you want customers like that. Because they give you the best kind of advertising on the planet: Word-of-mouth.

        Reply
      2. perpetualWAR

        I have always been told a retail business has the right to refuse service for any reason.

        One time a Chinese man tried to make a huge issue of my refusing him service (he was an a** and he lied to me). He had his attorney call me and say I denied him service over “race.” I told the attorney, “Go ahead and sue me. At the first hearing, I will make certain to bring my Latino clients, my Russian clients, my Asian clients, my African American clients, my Native American clients. What I will explain to the judge is there are no a**hole clients, but I refused service to one of them, who is now represented by opposing counsel.” Never heard from that attorney again.

        Reply
    4. Roger Smith

      I agree. I think broadly, this looks like segregation and think that there are important distinctions involving what personal rights you concede when opening a public business. However, the scope here is far too l limited to apply to the above (as it isn’t happening broadly). This would have been much better handled with a brief spat of s, some local reviews, etc… as you mentioned. Rights aside, why do you want to force a guy who shares mutual hate with you to bake a cake?

      Given the track it took, I definitely get the feeling this was more about virtue signalling as Katniss points out (and thanks for that link), although I can’t see how approaching the case this way, in this limited of a scope, was supposed to affect positive change for LGBT causes.

      Reply
      1. crittermom

        “Rights aside, why do you want to force a guy who shares mutual hate with you to bake a cake?”

        Exactly. That proves that this couple intended for it to go to the highest court.

        And if the baker were forced to make the cake & it turns out awful, is it back to court again?
        I think the couple’s choice of battle may have been a poor one for their cause.

        Reply
    5. Jim Haygood

      well OK, not religious myself

      So you’re a secular minister, Reverend?

      It shouldn’t inhibit you from founding your own religion, as secular religious leaders are a common phenomenon. :-)

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Nah, that’s just an old nick-name and I am not a Reverend at all. It’s because I can get a bit preachy over some things. If I founded my own religion it would be based on the seven sins as that is something that we all know about. That way too, when it came to people like neocons and neoliberals, I could go with wrath!

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I happen to know about the Seven Sins because I was raised as a Christian, but they don’t exist as such in Buddhism, because “sin” in not a category in Buddhism. There are “wholesome” choices and “unwholesome” choices, and there is not punishment, but the inevitable results from the actions following the choices. Granted, some of the results may not materialize for many lifetimes, but they are not punishment. It would be like saying stubbing your toe is punishment for stumbling around barefoot in the dark instead of turning on a light.

          Reply
    6. crittermom

      It’s not over with this ruling. Back to court: (my emphasis)

      “The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, but it left undecided whether a business owner’s religious beliefs or free speech rights can justify refusing some services to gay people.

      :The court is set to consider this week whether to review a Washington state Supreme Court decision that a florist could not legally decline to provide flowers to a same-sex wedding there.”

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        …….whether a business owner’s religious beliefs or free speech rights can justify refusing some services……

        I honestly don’t remember such angst being expressed when hobby lobby’s “religious beliefs” were affirmed in it’s crusade to “refuse” contraceptive coverage to its female employees.

        Then again, wedding cakes and floral arrangements are weighty issues when compared with women’s reproductive rights. Or so I’ve been led to believe.

        Reply
    7. a different chris

      I can’t stomach too much of this type of stuff, so I couldn’t do better than skim. (As usual, I wonder what black people think about it…)

      Is it a good summary of the SC decision to say that “the guy has to sell them the cakes he made or advertises as making, but he is not required to make one to their specifications”?

      I’m OK with that. I suspect most of my more normal gay friends would also be, but again I’m not 100% sure that’s how it went down.

      Reply
    8. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      June 5, 2018 at 9:47 am

      I went on about this quite a bit in yesterday’s links:

      fresno dan
      June 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      fresno dan
      June 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

      ================================
      to me initially the issue is public accommodation but after reading the Supreme Court opinion and the supporting and dissenting opinions, I’m inclined to sympathize with the baker’s arguments (with the ARGUMENTS for the baker’s contention of not being compelled to serve someone’s whose ideology/religion/lack of religion he is unalterably opposed to, NOT the religious views of the baker – I think most who read this blog know my antipathy to religion).
      Restate the basic argument with different protagonists: A Jewish baker makes custom wedding cakes and a n*zi wants a sw*stika decorated cake celebrating the third r*ich. Should a person be forced to create something unique for such a person? If one claims that N*zis are universally offensive, and therefore the analogy is not relevant, remember that being gay was regarded as offensive not that long ago in human history. And remember, that free speech is the defense of OFFENSIVE IDEAS – unoffensive ideas need no defense.
      I believe gay marriage is fine. However, there are any number of people who do not. Gays should be free to express their true selves and feelings. However, I believe it is a POLITICAL mistake for gays, after so much success in putting forward the proposition that conscience compels them to marry, to question the consciences of those who disagree. I think the tide is strongly in favor of gay marriage and will continue so, but I do not think lawsuits against religious people serves the long interests of gays.

      I think the argument of public accommodation has to be faced. I think this is different from a diner in the south refusing to serve blacks because the service from a diner is generic (bacon and eggs), and the proprietor would have no idea of the ethical or moral stands of anyone he was serving – generic, law abiding customers must be served.
      BUT, should a diner owned by a black man be forced to serve a Kl*sman? I think not – if one advertises one’s moral and ethical tenants, I think one has to take the consequences that some will not want to associate with the holder of such views.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Hypothetically, what if a male Buddhist monk walked into a cake shop wanting a field of right-facing ‘swastikas’ adorning the top of his confection .. what then ?? Is it right for them to deny service to the monk, given that the proprietors are both jewish AND female … even though the symbol, in this case, predates the ‘expropriation’ of it by the Nazis by centuries ?
        If one has clarity, one can see where the virtue-signaled rabbithole leads .. and it leads to ‘discontinuties’ .. and applied on a national level, thereby eventually leading to “E. Pluribus Disunum”, and the unraveling of the Country as a whole !

        Reply
  12. Wyoming

    The city carbon footprint article has a big error in it.

    It is listing the cities carbon contributions wrong. Seoul for instance in the article is listed at 276 metric tons of emissions. As your individual American is responsible for about 35 metric tons of emissions a year that number should have really stood out as wrong if the persons writing it and editing it were knowledgeable about the issue.

    The actual amount from the paper is 276 MILLION tons.

    The author does not realize that the units of Mt CO2 stands for Mega tonne and not metric ton.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      The study’s website is better than the article. Per Capita emissions is much more important than overall emissions. The top 100 are an unsurprising mix of US, Chinese and Gulf Arab cities. I was really disappointed to see HK and Singapore in the top echelon of carbon footprints per capita. If dense urban living is the way to get emissions down, those cities should be shining examples of how to proceed. If they’ve failed as models, they maybe we really are doomed? Or maybe they’re succeeding and it’s so dang hot that A/C usage swamps the overall savings?

      Anyone who knows better please enlighten…

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        I guess that Hong Kong uses and abuses A/C. Also skyscrapers are the less efficient buildings in terms of energy usage. The most important conclusion in the study is the following.

        Radical decarbonization measures (limiting nonelectric vehicles; requiring 100% renewable electricity) can induce substnatial emissions reductions beyond city boundaries. In wealthy, high-consumption, high-footprint localities such measures may require only a small investment relative to median income, yet accomplish large reductions in total footprint emissions

        The places where to start with bold measures are large cities. Municipalities have to be involved.

        Reply
      2. Altandmain

        Surprisingly, there are a few suburban car-oriented cities that actually do a lot better.

        Even the study’s website is not great. The sort function is broken (I tried sorting by per capita and it put the “20” in front of the 3.

        They need a Google sheets for this.

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are those numbers, particular the capita numbers, net of plants’ carbon-absorption?

      In dense urban areas, there is less room for trees than say suburban areas.

      Reply
  13. nippersmom

    Loved the bonus video. I always enjoyed this one, as well. This was Eleanor Powell’s own dog, and I believe it was actually filmed in her apartment.

    Reply
    1. crittermom

      I loved today’s antidote dog video, but this one was great, too.
      I wish I were as limber & light on my feet as she is! Wonderful to watch.

      And yes, oh those trousers! She makes ’em look gorgeous.
      Thanks for that link.

      Reply
  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Seniors Are More Conservative Because the Poor Don’t Survive to Become Seniors New York Magazine (Dr. Kevin)

    If I claim, or some on claims (I try not to do that too much…try), that seniors are healthy because the unhealthy do not survive to become seniors, how do you respond to that?

    Do you agree, as the two claima seem the same logically?

    Do you disagree with both, because you could be healthy or not poor before becoming a senior, but with nothing to do and union pension mismanaged, become sick and poor, being a senior?

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      All the more reason to chase those wealthy suburbanites, once you’ve got them….you can get an extra decade of votes from them!

      Who wants to go about extending the lifespans of the poor voters? Dems can’t be bothered to motivate their base to get to the polls, now they’ve got to invest in policies that keep their base ALIVE!?!?!? Soooo….much….work…..honestly, the consultants can’t wait that long. They’ve got races that need to be pi$$ed away to some godawful Republican RIGHT NOW!!!!

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not just the Dems.

        If someone is just excited about getting the youth vote, and if someone is proposing medicare for all, that is, medicare expanded to include additionally people who are not seniors (who are covered already) that begs the question: What about some new good news for us seniors – everyone else is being promised something better?

        “Why only free college, and not free nursing homes for all – not means tested?”

        “If minimum wage can go from $7.25/hr or $10/hr to $15 or $20 an hour, why can I get $2,500 a month in Social Security, instead of the current $1,500/month?”

        Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think there are 2 considerations here and I didn’t go over both of them.

        1. You have to be health to live to a certain age. The claim here is ‘Senior are more conservative…” and not ‘More seniors are conservative…’ nor ‘More seniors are more conservative…’

        I can live with ‘More seniors…’ and not ‘Seniors…’

        There are seniors all over the world, in rich countries, and poor countries, in rich families and poor families. So, ‘More seniors…’ would be better than ‘Seniors…’

        That’s the survivorship bias.

        2. Fortune is fickle. And one can be a senior for 10, 20, 30 or more years.

        Are newly poor seniors more conservative?

        Are seniors in the process of becoming poor conservative?

        To me, it seems seniors are more likely to want the government to spend money on them, as they march into their 80s, 90s, 100s and more.

        Reply
    2. Lord Koos

      i don’t really buy this idea, I believe there are plenty of seniors out there living in poverty. While it’s a given that people who can afford better health care live longer, than doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of people over 65 who are in dire straights.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I share your skepticism.

        If more seniors are conservative (and not seniors are more conservative), I can think of one or two motivations.

        They may be more used to the world they grew in. That world may be gone or in the process of disappearing.

        And, on the other hand (as mentioned above), I can see seniors favoring the government spending more money on seniors.

        Reply
        1. Lord Koos

          Personally, I don’t know any seniors (I am one myself) who would favor getting rid of social security.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The goal can be higher – to not just avoid losing it, but to get more from Social Security.

            It would be nice, and the government can afford it, to get say, $4,000 a month.

            Reply
    3. Wukchumni

      This is anecdotal and nothing more regarding 90+ year olds, but @ my mom’s assisted living place, it skews heavily conservative, according to her.

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Yes, the President Can Pardon Himself”

    Looks like Trump is calling Meuller’s bluff while spiking his opponents guns as well with this announcement. People are getting their knickers in a twist over this but Trump is only following in the steps of that great constitutional lawyer, Barack Obama. Remember a coupla years ago when Obama announced that as he was charged with enforcing the Constitution of the United States, that by necessity he had to be legally above the constitution? I do. So Obama was basically announcing that in order to enforce the law, he had to be above the law. Trump is thus following this argument to its final conclusion.

    Reply
    1. sleepy

      As a long-retired attorney my frail and senescent legal mind agrees with Turley–there is no restriction on the president’s right to pardon anyone. I also agree with the argument that the president has a right to fire the FBI director for any reason he/she wishes.

      Neither of those two rights are subject to judicial review which, imho, means that there can be no criminal prosecution based on the exercise of those rights. That doesn’t mean that the president can’t be criminally prosecuted for obstruction of justice if he/she were, e.g., to destroy evidence or suborn perjury. I don’t get into the issue of whether a sitting president can be indicted, though I doubt if Mueller would go there.

      Congress of course can impeach for virtually any reason, including firing Comey, or pardoning himself, or for just being a jerk. Likewise, that constitutional absolute is not subject to any judicial review, just “political” review come election time.

      Reply
      1. oh

        If I remember correctly, Ford pardoned Nixon for “crimes that he may have committed. I wonder if Trump can pardon himself for crimes he may commit?

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          So the reign of error resigns when the heat is on but he’s not a done deal yet legally, and President Pence pardons him ala Jerry Ford, yeah that’s the ticket.

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s good that a president can be criminally charged for various violations.

        That means, even though he or she is to ‘enforce the law,’ he/she is to obey it as well.

        In a similar situation, a dealer is in charge of dealing cards in a game of Poker. He, or she, must follow all the rules the players follow.

        Finally, we ask, if the government is in charge of creating money, and if it is still a participant in the money supply, should it follow the same rules as the other entities? Does the government get as many ‘cards’ to keep or discard as it likes, when no other participants do? And if the money is to be spent into existence, should that be a group effort (to be spent by all citizens, perhaps)?

        Reply
  16. Carolinian

    Starbucks head flirts with presidential run.

    Then there’s this–aieeeee….

    Jamie Dimon, the chief of JPMorgan Chase, has been put forward as another potential presidential candidate who could appeal to voters with a mix of pragmatism, business success and charm. But in recent months Mr. Dimon has ruled out a presidential run, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Of course. Just what this country needs: a banker, as president. Because banks and billionaires just don’t have enough power already.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        It’s looking highly probable that we will see, and soon, the Clash of the financial Titans …. such is the propitious occasion for the donald to act as the vanguard to all those billions and billions towards presidential suite wanting ..

        Reply
    2. RUKidding

      Dimon got the fever when Obama gave him those Presidential cufflinks… along with not prosecuting the SOB.

      Dimon shoulda been doing a perp walk a long time ago, not considering running for POTUS.

      Yet again the obligatory: thanks, Obama!

      Reply
    3. JohnnyGL

      I know I’ve got a different view from most on this site, but I’m happy to scream….

      “Run, Jamie, Run!!!” and “Run, Howard, Run!!!”

      I’m confident that much money would be wasted, oxygen would be removed from people like Corey Booker and Kamala Harris who have a lot of legwork to do as far as building name recognition. And, like most self-funded candidates, not a lot of votes would be gained in the campaign process.

      Plus, if I’m Bernie, I’m drooling at the chance to take on a bunch of oligarchs directly. His base will get fired up and skeptics and fence-sitters will find themselves leaning toward Sanders as the reality of Sanders’ message becomes more obvious.

      Democrats thrive on:
      1) the ability to throw sand in people’s eyes and distract them with things like id pol, which gets re-purposed for distraction
      2) fundraising and self-funding candidates.

      With 2) coming in the form of corporate execs, it makes pulling off the trick of 1) more difficult for Dems.

      Reply
      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Can you just imagine the Bernie vs. jamie and howard democrat presidential primary debate?

        Talk about visions of dancing sugarplums.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Imagine the debate stage swooning when Bernie musters the courage to say…

          “because you’d be in jail…”

          If you think voters got fired up at the thought at putting HRC in jail….imagine the motivation when they can lock up the guy who foreclosed on their house….their neighbors house….cousin’s house…

          After all, people loved Bernie’s “I am dangerous” moment…

          Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            And notice how Hillary had zero improv ability. None whatsoever. “Because you’d be in jail” was right there, begging for a follow-up, and she had nothing.

            Reminds me of Ronald Reagan and “There you go again!” during the 1980 debates against Jimmy Carter.

            Reply
    4. Lord Koos

      I recall a couple of years ago Bill Clinton praising Dimon and saying how he’d make a great president.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “US expects fallout from Snowden leaks for years to come”

    Snowden’s reports already had one effect for your truly a coupla years ago when they first came out. I dumped my US-based security software and started using Russian security software like Kaspersky instead. Haven’t looked back since.

    Reply
    1. DonCoyote

      US expects fallout from Snowden leaks for years to come Intelligence Community want to remind you that Snowden is a bad hombre and you should hate him.

      Fixed it for ya.

      Reply
  18. JohnnyGL

    Very happy to see the FDA give even a minor sort of rebuke/slapdown regarding the claims of golden rice.

    I’m been very disheartened by many of the scientific blogs/magazines/publications/commentators giving golden rice a lot of positive, uncritical commentary and cruelty and dishonestly portraying critics as a bunch of luddite fear-mongering loons standing in the way of progress with their hatred of GMOs.

    The shorthand argument against GMOs is this:

    GMOs = Vaporware

    GMOs are a giant waste of institutional R&D that result in very little improvements on things that count, compared to the amount of resources that need to be invested and the massive policy changes pursued and often implemented in order to accommodate Syngenta, Monsanto and others so they can improve their stranglehold on the agriculture industry.

    GMOs and their broad failure in relation to the incredibly optimistic claims that heralded their arrival (with some minor exceptions) are an indictment of a poorly designed intellectual property apparatus that is incredibly wasteful and rewards all the wrong things (monopoly, law-breaking, exploitation, debt-slavery, bullying, misuse of the courts).

    There’s so much more potential upside in areas that aren’t even being pursued in things like polycultures of perennial crops, agroforestry guilds, and plant-animal combinations with methods like rotational grazing. But there’s so much research going into narrow-minded mono-crop models with slightly better ‘miracle’ crops that don’t pan out (in that they’re maybe slightly better at most), even though monocultures are prone to failure (drought, flood, pests, soil-exhaustion) and are very resource intensive. But these bugs are really features for fostering additional dependence on the same chemical/biotech companies that sold you the ‘miracle’ seeds in the first place!

    Getting back to Golden Rice….it’s a non-solution to a problem that didn’t exist! Or, if it does exist, it’s only because of the business model pursued by the chem/biotech companies.

    Okay, rant over. Hope you enjoyed!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Your comment confused me. You don’t really mean that GMOs are Vaporware do you? Round-up ready seed does exist and there is golden rice, although it seems much less wonderful than promised or promoted. Am I wrong in thinking you mean that the promise GMOs hold has not been realized but you do believe GMOs hold great promise?

      I also very strongly agree with your indictment of institutional R&D and the intellectual property apparatus. I also agree there is far too little study made of “polycultures of perennial crops, agroforestry guilds, and plant-animal combinations with methods like rotational grazing” and far too little use of those techniques. However — I believe GMOs are one more technique which holds great promise for adapting plants to human uses and to the new environment the Earth is moving toward.

      I expect someone who actually works with genetics to correct me and/or extend my next assertions. We are all exposed to Mendel’s peas and many premeds are brutalized by the wash-out genetics class with the associated and infamous fruit flies genetics lab — but the basis for this understanding of genetics — traits and the genes that express those traits don’t quite make a full answer once DNA, RNA, and their relationships with the cellular chemical factory get tossed into the mix. What is a trait and what is a gene and how do they relate to the biochemical mechanisms in the cell and organism? I believe a lot of fuzzy notions wrapped in dogma are masquerading as Science. That is to say I don’t think the current dogmas of genetics have got things quite right. But be that as it may, the Corporations who have almost completely annexed Science into the Neoliberal Market mechanism have no problem exploiting the simple minded one-to-one relationships of current genetics dogmas. Some characteristics of life do seem to behave very like Mendel’s traits and the ‘gene’ for a desired trait can be sliced and diced and moved across the barriers of species, moved from animals to plants, and selectively turned off and on. Why waste money researching further if there is enough low lying fruit to avoid the messiness of searching for a fuller and probably much more complex answer? [As an aside — Might similar reasoning explain some of the decline in new drug discoveries? Both genetics and drug research are playing with attempts to control some extremely complex and poorly understood processes inside cells and organisms.]

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Yes, the analogy isn’t the greatest. I lost that a bit in my excitement to write the comment. Vaporware means concept stage product that never gets ready for primetime (unless I’m off again).

        I meant more that they get rolled out with the heavy hand of media hype, government help and powerful corporate legal teams, but the promised benefits never materialize, and many unforeseen (or perhaps quietly easily foreseen) costs pop up instead.

        “However — I believe GMOs are one more technique which holds great promise for adapting plants to human uses and to the new environment the Earth is moving toward. “

        — I disagree here. If GMOs could deliver anything close to the hype we’ve seen…then we’d have seen them deliver, considering the amount of resources thrown at them. There will be niche improvements here and there (I have a friend who keeps sending my little examples), but I think there’s a lot more improvements to be had using the other methods mentioned. The problem is that there’s not a lot of money to be made in those improvements. When benefits are externalized (soil improved, erosion reduced, carbon sequestered, water retained) and costs internalized (tests, trials conducted), capital doesn’t invest in that direction.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Grimm

          That is exactly my point. GMOs promise and could deliver great benefits but the Market sees no need. But are GMOs innately incapable of delivering more?

          Reply
    2. JTMvPhee

      One might flag this little extract from the article:

      Golden Rice version submitted to FDA by IRRI, called event GR2E, is the only Golden Rice to have ever been submitted for regulatory approval. In 2017, it was approved for import by regulators in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Originally developed by Syngenta, Golden Rice GR2E is now funded by the Gates Foundation.

      And there’s also this bit, which will have the science-is-vastly-good supporters bristling:

      In IRRI’s consultation with FDA, IRRI stated it has no intention of marketing Golden Rice in the US. Nevertheless, in part because rice is wind pollinated, it is expected that, if commercialized, Golden Rice GR2E will contaminate U.S. rice imports.

      Since 1996, when they were first grown commercially, many hundreds of GMO contamination events have been documented (Price and Cotter, 2014). This includes contamination by an unreleased GMO rice that led to a massive disruption of the global rice market in 2006-08. Hence the need to consult with US and other national authorities.

      “Back off, man, I’m a scientist!”

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Here’s an article about Carolina Gold Rice, a yellow rice grown for several centuries in coastal South Carolina . . . . and before that in its original homeland.

      I wonder what puts the yellow color in this known-for-centuries “golden” rice.

      Reply
  19. Doug Hillman

    Thanks for the important article on the high rate of doctor suicide. Twice the average is quite stunning.

    How is this not big news? My natural paranoia (oh, they really are out to get me) tells me that it doesn’t support the Neo-approved myth paradigm of US Healthcare, and is thus studiously ignored. Paranoia under a Neoliberal regime of universal deceit is in fact a healthy state of mind.

    This is a tragic scandal made worse in the context of a highly-honored and rewarding profession. What desolate depth of pain, fear, and despair makes self-destruction the only effective cure, especially among bright, empathetic people on the cusp of a prosperous career?

    Might insurance rackets and hospital cartels possibly surface in a search for answers? Remotely conceivable, perhaps, and thus best not broacast as newsworthy. Fortunately there is no public safety concern, because attrition rates are acceptable and more than offset by indentured H1b supplicants from Mumbai and Guadalajara.

    Here I thought doctors were part of the insurance-racket problem, but it seems that many or most are fellow victims, caught in the same gatekeepers’ jaws of death. Another reason it’s not newsworthy in polite society.

    If the suicide rate of bankers, PE/hedge-funders, lawyer-lobbyists, and politicians were to double would that also be ignored by presstitutes? Probably. The public would likely clamor for a national holiday, less like Memorial Day and much more like Independence Day, with fireworks.

    Reply
    1. DonCoyote

      I am reluctant to attribute this to neoliberalism, as it is :

      It has been known for more than 150 years that physicians have an increased propensity to die by suicide. It was estimated in 1977 that on average the United States loses the equivalent of at least one small medical school or a large medical school class to suicide. [1] Exact numbers are not known. Although it is impossible to estimate with accuracy because of inaccurate cause of death reporting and coding, the number most often used is approximately 3-400 physicians/year, or perhaps a doctor a day. Of all occupations and professions, the medical profession consistently hovers near the top of occupations with the highest risk of death by suicide.

      Some additional facts about doctors from the above source and :

      1) They are more likely to commit suicide with drugs
      2) They have a higher suicide success rate
      3) The gender ratio in physician suicide is about equal (vs almost four to one male to female overall)
      4) Despite their higher suicide rate they live longer and have lower mortality risks from cancer and heart disease than the general population

      So one could spin a theory that the suicide rate is higher because, when depression strikes, they know how and have reliable means at hand. But it would be just a theory.

      Reply
      1. Lord Koos

        I recall reading that physicians also have high that average rates of drug and alcohol addiction, also not a recent finding.

        Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          Back in the 1990s, I went to a doctor who later lost her license. She was what was known as an impaired physician due to drug abuse.

          Too bad, because when she was on her game, she was GOOD.

          ISTR reading that she was addicted to painkillers because of physical ailments.

          Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I knew from a young age I was going to check out early after a, hospitalizarion as a youth, so I understand health care types. Neoliberalism aside, fighting the inevitable isnt right for everyone. My dad didn’t make me the executor of his estate until he was confident I understood his final wishes versus my own. I went home to die and see my dog once, and I got better. Processing the end of life does force one to make decisions they wouldn’t normally make.

      Reply
    1. Big Tap

      PBS will be sorry to hear this news. He is a major financial contributor to the science show NOVA and has been for many years.

      Reply
  20. Jean

    New use for scooters on the streets of San Francisco:

    Hurl them under the wheels of the Google buses that take twentysomething millionaires to work and drive home prices and rents into the stratosphere.

    Quite satisfying the crunch…a twofer. Sometimes the bus gets a flat tire.
    Sorry, there’s no app to fix that.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I just put in a comment that immediately entered a thread without the edit-countdown. The ways of Skynet are mysterious.

      This comment DID countdown unlike the earlier comment.

      Reply
  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sen. Merkley Says Immigrants Are Kept in Cages that Looked ‘Like Dog Kennels’ Alternet

    A while back, there was something about converting shipping containers into dwelling units.

    The first impression was that it would be inhuman to live in a box. The proponents, seeing far ahead into the future, standing on the shoulders of others, envision upgrades to make living in one pleasant, eco-friendly and perhaps trendy.

    So, simply calling it a shipping container like box, or a dog kennel like cage, does notl help the reader determine what is happening here.

    From the article:

    “The first room had a series of cages that look a lot like dog kennels, which people had recently arrived — they had been put into them,” he said. “They were very crowded. The individuals had space blankets, so you had all these silver space blankets, no mattresses, and people looking very distressed and upset. A number of women holding children in their arms.”

    He continued: “And then adjacent to that is a very, very large warehouse, with much larger cages, and in those, the children have already been separated from the parents.”

    Some photos will give us a better picture, which is worth a thousand words.

    I do not like living in a shipping container, nor a dog kennel, except maybe when I was a kid, and not for more than a night or two.

    What he is describing is not too different from a scene from a busy international airport…crowded, people sleeping uncomfortably on chairs, babies crying, their mothers holding them, people distressed and upset. A photo would be nice.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I’ve heard talk about something called the Stackhouse. It’s a shipping container community that’s being billed as an affordable housing alternative. Or something like that.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        Arizona Slim
        June 5, 2018 at 12:01 pm

        What an optimist! I heard it is a living organ on the “hoof” export lot.

        Reply
      2. Doug Hillman

        We have a few nifty shiptainer houses in Phoenix. Containers are trendy, but not especially practical in standard 8-foot width, unsuitable for most rooms. They’re also thin-skinned, with structural integrity limited to four outer corners for stacking. I’ve read that while cheap, retrofitting these for adequate housing costs more than conventional site-built construction.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          @ the Mammoth ski resort higher up on the slopes, one rest/restaurant area in particular is constructed with shipping containers, while an entire ski resort in Georgia is made of them.

          Reply
        2. blennylips

          Not actually shipping containers, but just discovered Habitat 67, Moshe Safdie’s “brutalist residential masterpiece” in Montreal.

          Article (explaining paywalled article): .

          No photos, so here:

          Reply
    2. Lord Koos

      Here’s some pics –

      Concrete floors, chain link pens, etc. Doesn’t look like any airport I’ve ever been to, and people aren’t usually stuck in airports for months or years.

      Reply
      1. Lord Koos

        Here’s a 2016 piece from Slate that says Texas was trying to re-classify immigrant detention facilities as “child care facilities”. Go Texas…

        Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That’s why a picture is worth a thousand words.

        And every center is different. From the article accompanying one of the photos, one by YourImmigrationAngel, it says the DHS goes around to inspect various locations for needed or required improvements.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That particular photo () is similar to this one, at an airport:

          :

          The one in the airport also shows concrete floor and areas fenced off.

          One night would be stressful enough, and even more so for months and years.

          As for cages in the photos, one question to ask if there were not windowless rooms instead, to house them. Another would be if they had not enough time or money to build out those rooms. Did they need to be housed separated due to some security concerns?

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Actually the airport floor looks like tiled maybe marble tiles…more expensive than concrete, but not less (or not much less – need to look into their Mohrs hardness numbers) hard on one’s back.

            Reply
  22. Expat

    Trump-Macron
    T: “Someone get me King Macaroni on the phone!”
    M: “Bonjour? Ah, oui, Donald. How are you my MAPT (BFF in French)?”
    T: “Unhappy, Pierre. I heard you said that the parade you had when I came to France wasn’t for me!”
    M: “It’s Jean-Michel and zis is true. It was Bastille Day…your Fourth of July. We said zis when you here”
    T: “Lies! That parade was for me and only because I am loved yugely by all Frenchmen. Now say it!
    M: “Mais, Donald. Zis is our national holiday. Even Melania is saying to me how lovely our national fête is.”
    T: “Fake news! It was MY parade! I am putting tariffs on all your cheese and can-can girls until you give me my own parade!”
    M: “But…” *click* “Qu’il est con, ce mec. Enculé de mes deux! Et ses cheveux! Une honte!”

    Reply
  23. fresno dan

    A man who was accidentally shot by an off-duty FBI agent at a Colorado nightclub on Saturday will now receive free drinks from the bar for life.
    ….
    The distillery, according to Fox 31, said it’s “shocking that the only shooting to ever occur at our establishment came about as a result of an FBI agent entering our distillery tasting room carrying a loaded firearm without our knowledge, in violation of our rules.”
    =============================
    The only way to stop a bad FBI agent with a gun is with a…uh….er….um….is with a good FBI agent with a gun.
    I’m kinda thinkin’ I’d take a bullet in the leg for free drinks for life – of course, I’d have to check out their drink list and see if there is any compensation should the quality of the drinks decline….

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “The only way to stop a bad fbi agent with a gun” is with a distillery desperate to avoid a lawsuit.

      Reply
  24. Bean Counter

    Re: Has suicide become an occupational hazard of practicing medicine?

    Regarding US suicide rates in general, an important point is indirectly made here:

    Female physicians are particularly vulnerable, says Dr. Omotola T’Sarumi, lead author of the study. Although they attempt suicide less often than other women, their completion rate is as much as four times higher than the general population and equal to that of male physicians. Doctors who are transitioning in some way — finishing medical school, seeking residency positions, entering retirement ­— also face higher risks of suicide.

    Given the horrifyingly increased and increasing rates of US Suicides for so many subgroups, it would appear that the rates of attempted, versus ‘completed’ suicides – never addressed publically but rather covered up in various manners – would boggle the mind of anyone still managing to do okay financially.

    So where are our ‘Leaders’ who should be putting the sickening level of national despair as a first agenda? Where are the heads of National Suicide Organizations in slamming the powers that be for the level of corruption, predatory behavior and subsequent economic crippling of vast millions of citizens; which appears to possibly be the main cause of such drastically increased suicide attempts.

    Suspecting as much, a few years back, I asked a young San Francisco Bay Area suicide line worker, what the most frequent reasons given for such unspeakable agony were, and she said lack of money. It’s no surprise to me that the same San Francisco Bay Area has spent vast amounts of money – guarding Bridges and Silicon Valley Cal Train Tracks, along with funding worthless, for profit Suicide Apps, which will likely make someone unemployable, and possibly forcefully detained for weeks – overtime, so as not to also have the highest suicide rate noted along with its inhuman level of homelessness and the highest rate of Inequality in the nation. But then that’s what one gets when their legislators are predominantly millionaires, whose homes appreciate more daily than the incomes of non tech workers and effectively early retired boomers who rent and increasingly are ending up homeless, and sometimes dying on the streets (it get’s very cold at night in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, even in the summer, frequently).

    There’s something that strikes me as sadistic beyond belief when all efforts are spent making suicide difficult to acheive, yet not doing anything whatsoever to address the causes of the attempts.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Purse designer Kate Spade hung herself today, and money woes don’t appear to have been an issue, if anything she had too much.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Sure there are other causes, and though economic problems no doubt cause a TON of despair, most people in despair don’t off themselves, they just continue on miserably.

        However 1 in 5 suicides worldwide are linked to unemployment, and suicides in the U.S. are linked to it as well. Of course the number one problem with unemployment is NO MONEY, and the unemployed with more resources aren’t so prone to suicide.

        Reply
  25. Ignacio

    Poroshenko:

    Just to put an example of the Russia!Russia!Russia! campaign in other countries. Notice this outlet is controlled by an anglosaxon firm. Other spanish-owned news media do not publish this crap.

    Reply
  26. Oregoncharles

    “Italy. No meaningful coverage by Bloomberg or the WSJ,”
    And FWIW, nothing on Gnews, which I use as an index to the MSM. I’d guess there’s just nothing happening…yet.

    If the coalition parties are what they pretend to be, the brown stuff will eventually hit the fan. We shall see.

    Reply
  27. Oregoncharles

    From “US Expects Damage from Snowden Leaks for Years to Come:”
    “Joel Melstad, a spokesman for the counterintelligence center, said five U.S. intelligence agencies contributed to the latest damage assessment, which itself is highly classified. ”

    Hilarious. Does this sound familiar, at all?

    The REAL damage Snowden did, to careers: he revealed just how family blogged the National “Security” Agency’s internal security is. That’s why they’re still mad at him.

    Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    Mexico hit back @ us with a series of tariffs on a range of foodstuffs, but not corn. I’m a little disappointed in the Mexicans, here was their chance to stick it to the blunderbusses that voted for the reign of error.

    …is it too early to stick a fork in NAFTA?

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The Mexicans are being ‘asymmetrical’ in their trade warfare. That, I’ll bet, is GMO corn they’re limiting the import of from the north. Counter biological warfare! One of the biggest evils NAFTA did to Mexico was the decimation of local foodstuff production, much of it corn. Food self sufficiency is a basic strategic goal of any country.

      Reply
  29. Broken Hearted Venezuelan

    “How Venezuela Re-elected Maduro, Defying the U.S.”

    It also defied the will of the Venezuelan people that decided not to participate in an election without any pretense of fairness.
    It also defied the lack of energy of a people that have lost 20 lbs of weight in average over the last year.
    It also defied everybody dying for the complete lack of medicine or doctors.
    It also defied the estimated 4 million refugees that have left looking for any way not to starve.
    It also defied the dead and injured by the government’s repression forces.
    It also defied the Congress stripped of all it’s powers.

    But hey, “He might be a SOB but he is OUR SOB”

    Reply
      1. witters

        We just gotta change the voters! I mean, damn fools. Look at the facts! – I think a technocrat from the World Bank, and $$$ (perhaps flown in in big bundles).

        Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      The anti-chavistas boycott the election en masse and then point to low turnout and declare it illegitimate, a claim parroted by the cheerleaders for empire in the US. Are we really supposed to believe that? Why not just show up to vote and win?

      Reply
  30. newcatty

    Dan,

    Please don’t give any gullible or unhinged people ideas. A possible scenario and top news in lamestreammedia

    An interesting and unexplainable rash of self inflicted or, what appears to be an unusually high occurrence of two people who are known to be on friendly terms (according to our reporting) accidentally shooting the other, is occuring in bars, tasting rooms and restaurant’s throughout the country. Victims of the accidental shooting or the affected self inflicted persons all, when interviewed, stated explanations of why they think the occurences are happening. Their statements were along these lines: That guy shot by that FBI gets free drinks for life. Why not me?

    Reply
  31. Oregoncharles

    “The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time Slate”
    Does someone know whether this is serious?

    Sorry if this is a duplication – don’t have time to go through the comments.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      It does seem to be serious, although all it does for me is reinforce the point that supposedly ‘smart’ people can be incredibly stupid sometimes.

      It’s all based on Newcomb’s Paradox, which is an entertaining thought experiment but not something that has any relevance to the real world. That’s because it presupposes the existence of an all-powerful entity (God, an ultimate AI of some kind, or whatever) that can not only predict your actions with incredible accuracy, but continue to do so even when you are informed of its predictions in advance. That’s fairly obviously not possible in any kind of logically ordered universe, even if the concept of determinism hadn’t already been discredited by 20th century physics.

      If the concern is the harm that might be caused by supposedly smart people who are influenced by irrational and destructive ideas, then I agree that’s more of a concern. But we don’t need fantastic scenarios involving godlike AIs to demonstrate that. We could, for example, look at the influence of different forms of organized religion on world history.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Good. It struck me as unmitigated BS, but I didn’t go to the trouble of taking apart the logic.

        Reply

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