Links 6/10/19

WCVB (EJ).

New York Magazine

Francine McKenna, Medium

Craig Murray. Assange.

Boing Boing

Bloomberg

Brexit

Mirror. Groundhog Day.

FT

Independent and right on cue Guardian

EuroNews

Syraqistan

AP

Duffel Blog

Venezuela

Reuters

The Intercept

India

The Diplomat

India Today (J-LS).

The WIre (J-LS).

Times of India (J-LS).

WSJ. “‘We cannot say for sure what caused it,’ said Maryam Yunus, a WHO spokeswoman in Pakistan.”

China?

Agence France Presse. “Small pockets of demonstrators” in the lead, and making headlines. The same reporter’s Twitter thread is better:

Hong Kong is going to see another mass demonstration against the local government’s controversial plans to allow extraditions to mainland China & organisers expect a big turnout.

Protesters are largely wearing white.

Our team is on the ground. March starts in 1hr

— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor)

The mainland press:

The ONLY mentioning of Hong Kong's protest in China's media is by the Global Times. In today's editorial, the paper said the protest was organized by local oppositionists working with Western forces. Neither Xinhua nor Caixin, talked about

— Tom Wang (@tomwxj)

* * *

Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate

Brad DeLong, Project Syndicate

NYRB

South China Morning Post

Bloomberg

Nikkei Asian Review

Economist

Sydney Morning Herald

Canberra Times

Kangaroo Court of Australia

New Cold War

Truthdig

McClatchy

RussiaGate

Matt Taibbi. Taibbi: “Claim that would-be key Russiagate figure Konstantin Kilimnik is a longtime American informant might be a game-changing story – in a country with a real press corps.” Solomon’s story on Kilimnik’s role as an intelligence source for the State Department . , mentions Kilminik, but not the substance of Solomon’s story.

LRB. “The Mueller report has nothing to say about [Carter] Page’s trip to Cambridge, because accusations of dirty ops against Trump staffers are not part of its remit. (That investigation is still to come, god help us.)” Indeed.

Trump Transition

Defense One

Federal News Network

WaPo. I’m shocked.

Axios

Boeing 737 MAX

FT

Daily Beast. Not bean-counters. Management! The article is much better than the headline.

Leeham News

Guillotine Watch

Bloomberg. The next Everest, no doubt with space junk, frozen sh*t, and frozen corpses.

Aeon. Pointe work.

FT. Damn straight!

The Nation

Antidote du Jour ():

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

88 comments

  1. Steve H.

    > frozen corpses.

    In a more exalted frame, like Eärendil in the sky, each a glinting star in the light of morn or eav.

    Reply
  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the link to the FT about landowners preparing for Brexit, largely about diversification to replace subsidies, since the referendum and the difficulty in recruiting farm labour from east and central Europe, there has been an increase in the big, often aristocratic, landowners pooling resources, automating and farming “in hand”, i.e. not or no longer letting to tenant farmers. Many tenants are part of families who have leased land from the same estate / family for generations and suddenly find themselves out of work and without a home.

    As big estates diversify into tourism, “rewilding”, wind farms, hydroelectricity etc, many of the traditional, often unskilled, labour will struggle to find employment. As transport is poor and expensive, if existent, in rural Britain, it’s about to get worse.

    The older breed of landowners were often, but not always, paternalistic and willing to take account of non-financial considerations. The new breed, often banksters recycling their bonuses, are not so accommodating.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      Colonel, I’ve recently read that the rush for land by rich in the UK is really an estate planning exercise, as farm land is extempted from inheritance tax.. Is that correct?

      And, if it stops being farmland (due to planning permission), the amounts of money would be humongous in the first place.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade.

        That is correct. Farmland is exempt from inheritance tax. There’s also some flexibility with regard to capital gains. This is what led to many banksters investing in land. Many also invested in farm land in east and central Europe to access and trade for EU subsidies.

        In anticipation of Brexit, James Dyson has, since the referendum, amassed nearly 40,000 acres in East Anglia and the West Country, thus becoming a bigger landowner in England than HM. He comes from East Anglia and was at school with NC’s Synoia.

        Many firms, including Legal & General, have bought land in strategic areas like the M40 corridor and where any infrastructure improvements across the Pennines and Midlands will increase values.

        To give you an idea: A thirty odd acre golf course, near where I live in mid-Buckinghamshire and formerly farmland, was sold by the three partners for £1-2m in 2015. Two other golf courses in the area, all former farms, have closed. The buyers, British and Chinese, secured planning permission, for normal residential / locals and a gated community for Chinese students, within a couple of years and had the land valued at a dozen times what they paid. Construction has not started yet due to legal action by neighbours. I don’t know why the sellers did not sell with planning permission. There was falling out by some accounts.

        Reply
        1. Divadab

          Much of East Anglia will be under water in a few generations. This makes such artificial considerations as monetary wealth, tax planning, and subsidy farming rather redundant.

          Suffolk is one of my ancestral abodes – we are water people- it seems to me that George Dyson has a blind spot common to those most successful in the current system- they can’t imagine things being anything but the same or better in the future. Anyway he seems to have converted some portion of his massive wealth into future sea bottom.

          Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think a crucial consideration is that in other circumstances – such as Ireland in the 1880’s – when big estates no longer made commercial sense there was a ‘push-pull’ for land reform. The ‘push’ being poverty among small farmers and tenants and farm workers, the ‘pull’ being landowners desperately looking to get bought out by the government to reduce their losses. Hence an odd sort of consensus grew up which allowed for comprehensive land reform leaving the pattern of small farm ownership that Ireland now enjoys for good or ill.

      But it seems to me that the influx of investment capital into farmland is stopping this happen in Britain. Big units are no longer profitable without vast government subsidy, but landowners are finding alternatives to breaking up their estates.

      A friend of mine has a smallholding in the uplands of south Durham. Most of his neighbours are small sheep farmers or tenant farmers. He said almost all voted for Brexit. Surprisingly, he said most agree with him after a few pints that this made absolutely no sense, but that they feel that they had to ‘do something’. Somehow, I feel they will come off much worse than the big landowners.

      Ultimately, the UK is long overdue land reform (excluding Northern Ireland, which already had its land reform over a century ago). I suspect it will happen in Scotland first, but so long as the House of Lords has a say, it won’t happen in England until things get truly critical. Even Corbyn doesn’t seem all that interested.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        With regard to the Lords, there are not many or enough, either of the 99 hereditary peers left after New Labour’s reforms or life peers, with a vested interest to block reforms, but the behind the scenes power of the traditional landowners coupled with that of the newcomers, or “nouves” as Alan Clark called them in his diaries (see the entry on Michael Heseltine), should be enough to see off reform.

        Labour is interested and, last week, published a report, co-written by Jaffa cakes heir and Grauniad columnist George Monbiot. Monbiot and I went to the same school. He’s a few years older than me. Two of my year, both in the Tory Wet paternalist tradition and easy going, unlike many of the middle class wannabes, have chaired the English and Scottish landowner associations.

        Reply
    3. kgw

      “The older breed of landowners were often, but not always, paternalistic and willing to take account of non-financial considerations. The new breed, often banksters recycling their bonuses, are not so accommodating.”

      Sounds like my current landlord…a “real estate” professional, compared to my previous landlord of 20 years.

      Reply
  3. PlutoniumKun

    China’s ‘Black Week-end’ NYRB

    Fascinating article. It is one of the wonders of the Tiananmen Square massacre that there is so little consensus on what really happened or indeed, what the protesters were looking for. It is clear though that there was widespread disillusionment at the time among regular Chinese people with the CCP – hardly surprising since they’d gone through so much pain for several decades with little more than the ‘iron ricebowl’ to show for it.

    How long does it take for history to effect change? Writing in the 1980s, after the famines, political witch-hunts, and turmoil of the party’s first thirty years in power, the Belgian sinologist Simon Leys compared its rule “to the aimless drift of a dead dog; only its belly, swollen with the windy promises of the ‘Four Modernizations,’ still keeps it vaguely afloat.” Leys was right that the party’s embrace of economic development—subsumed under the slogan the “Four Modernizations”—was keeping it afloat. In the intervening four decades, the party’s embrace of economic development has been wildly successful, so much so that it’s become possible to think of the party’s rule as inevitable and eternal.

    But Leys was no idealist in seeing the party as already dead. When he wrote those words—in his collection of essays The Burning Forest (1985)—he knew very well that the party’s corpse wouldn’t sink immediately. He pointed to the experiences of the French Catholic priest Évariste Régis Huc, who traveled widely through China in the 1840s, following the Qing dynasty’s defeat in the First Opium War of 1839–1842. Even though the Qing would not fall until 1911, Huc knew that it was finished. “Yet it took another seventy years for the old empire actually to collapse,” Leys wrote. “When operating on the scale of China, history adopts another rhythm.”

    As China gives in to hypercapitalism, the CCP has fewer real reasons to exist. Its no longer delivering fairness or socialism, all it can offer is wealth and stability. And as soon as the current growth cycle slows down (it likely already has run out of steam), all it can offer is stability through surveillance and force. And if it fails in this, then one wonders what it can do, and what will replace it. Sometimes things seem stable and universal right up to the point that they fall apart.

    Reply
    1. Olga

      Why do I think that your last paragraph would be pretty much scoffed at by even average Chinese as just more of the unhelpful advice westerners have been doling out to China for decades?. For a much more refined view, Prof. Roach has been assessing the situation in China for years…this is a recent clip (only 6 min) on where China is headed:
      And here is an interview from nine years ago, still relevant:

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It helps to see any siutation both close up and from a distance.

        So, for example, the Chinese communists both listened and rejected orders from Moscow…the former case, with helpful ones, and the latter case, those unhelpful.

        You need both.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          When I studied Mandarin Chinese at the Air Force contract school at Yale, the office had a wealth of material mostly from the State Department’s unclassified daily summary of Chinese media. This was 1955, and there was plenty in the translations to show that China and the USSR had broken relations — I think about 1952 — and were actually hostile to each other. I remember there were newspaper stories in the later ’50s about armed clashes along the Chinese-Soviet border. Still, the whole establishment, as personified by Dean Rusk, continued to believe in (or at least preach) the “monolithic international Communist conspiracy” through the ’70s. Because of MSM suppression, it’s pretty hard to find out what’s really happening in China, but the State Department seems to be deliberately ignorant.

          Reply
      2. Procopius

        It’s astonishing that none of them pronounce President Xi’s name correctly. How much research does it take to find out that the Pinyin system of using the Latin alphabet to try to represent the sounds of Chinese uses X to stand for a sound that is like /sh/ but a little more sibilant. If you called him President She you’d be close enough to be understood. In the Yale system and Wade-Giles it was represented by /hs/. Not sure why the creators of Pinyin made some of the choices they did. For example /q/ represents the sound we write as /ch/. /c/ represents /ts/, so the name Cao Cao (famous usurper of the Han dynasty) used to be written Tsao Tsao.

        Reply
    2. lordkoos

      The Chinese Communist Party became more like very large country club where members can meet each other, schmooze, and make deal. It might be different now (although I doubt it), but 15 years ago being a member of the party was essential for ambitious business people, it’s all about making connections, kind of a hyper-guanxi. There is much corruption – my first wife was Chinese, her younger sister was in the party for business purposes and would routinely receive many “gifts” to curry favor, including vases full of $100 bills, etc.

      Reply
  4. cnchal

    > What to Do About China? Brad DeLong, Project Syndicate

    Delusions run deep.

    So, what should the US do to shore up its position vis-à-vis China?

    For starters, it could show that it has a more competent and less corrupt government than China does – that it is still a healthy democracy that adheres to the rule of law. It could also work to improve its high-tech sector, by welcoming workers and ideas from all over the world and rewarding them handsomely. It could demonstrate that it is capable of overcoming political gridlock, fixing its broken health-care system, bringing its infrastructure into this century, and investing in new energy sources. It could finally start to limit the undue political influence of the superrich. It could once again become a society in which all citizens enjoy better standards of living than their predecessors, because the fruits of economic growth are equitably distributed.

    In short, the US could start to become what it would have been if Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election, if Hillary Clinton had defeated Trump, and if the Republican party had not abandoned its patriotism. Such an America would have the world’s respect and more than enough diplomatic power to forge a constructive and strategically sound compact with a rising China. To address the defining geopolitical challenge of this century, America must look inward, not abroad.

    To my eyes the so called “high tech” sector has devolved into a bunch of digital spyware and useless garbage selling snake oil. They are already moar than handsomely rewarded for their malevolence.

    The fruits of economic groaf haven’t been equitably distributed for going on close to half a century, but by golly if only Al and Hillary were president instead of the creeps we got we would all be in happyville now.

    I recall Brad characterizing factory production workers as rentiers. The pay of $15 bucks an hour is grossly outsized and unjust compared to Chinese or Mexican factory production workers. If that’s the definition of rentier, then all university professors with tenure are rentiers.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      To address the defining geopolitical challenge of this century, America must look inward, not abroad.

      More of the same old same old…Hillary supporters get vindicated in the previous passage as if they had some intention to help the deplorables. Student loans, the ACA, TPP, ISDS, we came we saw he died? If only…. But America and patriotic republicans need to gaze inward? Sure, and elite america needs to look inward instead of blaming all their well documented problems on a charlatan and poor people. Not gonna hold my breath…they seem incapable of self reflection

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      The pity was that that was an excellent article with a lot of thoughtful analysis – right up to that section that you quoted when it went off into ga-ga land. Jeez. President Hillary Clinton? If that had happened, we’d be all at permanent DefCon Two by now.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        Yeah, you got the right ! .. had she won she’d be the Mam in the High Castle, throwing down gauntlets of privilege into everyone’s path ….. drone joy-stick at HER-> twitchy fingertips !

        Reply
    3. Olga

      “To my eyes the so called “high tech” sector has devolved into a bunch of digital spyware and useless garbage selling snake oil. They are already moar than handsomely rewarded for their malevolence.”
      Oh, but that will all change as soon as the CIA ethically deploys Ai – don’t ya know.
      (How the CIA is Working to Ethically Deploy Artificial Intelligence Defense One, fun headline)

      Reply
      1. cnchal

        “One of the interesting things about machine learning, which is an aspect of our division of intelligence, is [experts] found in many cases the analytics that have the most accurate results, also have the least explainability—the least ability to explain how the algorithm actually got to the answer it did,” he said. “The algorithm that’s pushing that data out is a black box and that’s a problem if you are the CIA.”

        These 100 or so AI algorithms the CIA is playing with, each one a spark of unexplainable genius, work on the digital minutia of life, and it’s a black box, and that’s a problem, period.

        Wouldn’t ethics call for stopping AI before it got really out of hand?

        Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    Trump team is adopting a pipeline plan to wean Europe off Russian fuel McClatchy

    Seems a typical example of wishful thinking from Washington ‘thinkers’. Its the sort of plan that looks fine on paper, but the reality is there probably isn’t enough gas in that region to supply a significant proportion of Europes needs, and to make it worse, there is absolutely no chance that Europe would be stupid enough to make themselves dependant on pipelines from such an unstable alliance of countries. At best, it will be a supplier to Europe of LNG, which has the advantage of flexibility and fungibility, or a smaller pipelines to act as leverage on other suppliers.

    Also, the reality is that there is much more gas in the Gulf, and with peace coming to Syria the Iranians and Qataris will be looking to Syria as a through route to the Mediterranean. This makes far more sense due to the much greater proven reserves further south.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Thought the whole article was weird myself. There was no mention of the disputes in this region such as between Israel and Lebanon over their off-shore borders or Turkey and the Greek Cypriots fight as to who can develop those fields. Also no mention that the Russian are already present in the area. Finally no mention as to what happens if there is gas off-shore to Gaza for which Israel would never let them have the money for. Like you pointed out, there is plenty of gas in the Gulf and Qatar and Iran share the development of the field between them. If this whole concept was at the direction of Joe Biden, then I wonder if he is looking to have his son Hunter become a director of Egypt’s gas development company then.

      Reply
    2. Craig H.

      The implication is the State Department or the Defense Department is going to subsidize new gas pipelines across the bottom of the Mediterranean. This is a lot of money and a lot of time line.

      In March, Pompeo attended a signing ceremony in Tel Aviv among Greek, Israeli and Cypriot officials for an agreement to advance a $7 billion pipeline that would facilitate the export of local gas to Europe. National security officials tell McClatchy it was an intentional signal of U.S. support for the project, although they continue to express skepticism over the feasibility and cost of laying pipe so deep beneath the sea.

      Meddling in the energy markets is not how governments get solvent ever in the history of the humanity.

      Reply
  6. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the link about Jeremy Hunt, readers may be interested to hear that he inherited his seat, give or take some boundary changes, from his cousin Virginia Bottomley. At the time of his election, their cousins Harriet Harman and Kitty Usher sat on the (Labour) government benches. Other members of the extended family have served in politics and the military since the mid-19th century.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      On a slightly different note, from BBG:
      “Home Secretary Sajid Javid told LBC radio the government “looks incompetent” because of its failure to deliver Brexit, and said it will take an “outsider” like him to win voters over.”

      Saj, an outsider??? The person who sold British Steel to his PE chums?

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade.

        It was staggering to hear his self-portrayal over the week-end. This said, he may well be as, so far, he has not admitted to drug taking.

        Did you, or other readers, pick up on his plan to make it easier for students from abroad to study here? That would boost the Javid family coffers as the family has a firm to facilitate such matters, including bringing his 70 odd year old uncle from Pakistan on a student visa and marrying him to a relative young enough to be his granddaughter.

        Reply
    2. dearieme

      Other members of the extended family have served in politics and the military

      In British English one serves in the (Armed) Services but does not serve in politics.

      Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    “Angelina Jolie urges international support for Venezuelan children”

    That’s great that. First Richard Branson and now Angelina Jolie weighing in about the long-suffering people of Venezuela. Just what they need – another rich, white, famous, entitled personage doing their bit for the empire. I saw a clip on her being all earnest in her support for Venezuelan children-

    That’s a great looking wolf pack in today’s Antidote du Jour by the way.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      She has adopted third world children so it’s more than just talk (although hanging out with the Colombians doesn’t look good). Surely, though, she’s not as bad as Branson.

      Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Sure, though, she’s not as bad as Romney.

          She has six children, three of whom are third world adoptees.

          Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The first impression is that that is good, and for most people, that’s point they take away. Maybe they will be inspired by that example, whether they give Jolie more virtue-credit than she deserves, or not.

        Reply
      2. The Rev Kev

        Sorry but I am not buying it. She is a 44 year-old women and not just a kid. If she has no idea that it is her own country that is causing all this harm to those kids then that is one helluva bubble she is living in. They have come outright and said that this is all about stealing Venezuela’s oil and they will make the people of that country suffer until they become a US protectorate. Adopted third world children count for zip here. She should know better.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          I read the article and not sure she said anything showing that she is down with imperialism. If it helps she doesn’t like her dad John Voight much and he’s a real rightwinger.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Sorry, must be because I have only had one coffee this morning. Look, I believe that you cannot separate causes and consequences. If she wants to support those children then fine. But she must be aware of what is causing those conditions in Venezuela. She is after all a very smart woman. But her appearance has lent her name to an ‘official’ narrative without asking the hard questions.
            Same with all those South Americans fleeing to the US. Nobody is really asking why it is necessary for them to flee their countries. And just to show you how the world is not what it seems, Mexico has found that all those caravans are being financed by people in foreign countries. No, not Russia or China but by people in the US and the UK-

            Reply
            1. Carolinian

              Not all actors have the courage of Vanessa Redgrave who supported Palestinians at a time when that was even more verboten than it is now (and took a career hit for it). Honestly I have no idea what Jolie’s political views are, but just saying she’s not as bad as Branson who was actively promoting Venezuela regime change.

              Reply
  8. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Due to various circumstances all in combination with the main factor being my partners long deterioration in her mental health, which resulted in my nine month experience of the vicious circle that is Universal Credit.

    The article sums it up well & despite the fact that I am reasonably computer literate, the system is basically built to confuse & disorientate which had me feeling that I had entered an online version of that which K. suffered in Kafka’s ” The Castle “. The Castle being the main centre in Newry which was virtually impossible to reach & even if one succeeded no progress was made in sorting out the problem.

    Contradictory advise was given depending on who was eventually spoken to & a huge error on their part was covered up by kicking me off, UC in order to destroy the evidence I had presented on my online journal to make my case. Subsequently I discovered that it is impossible to do anything at all to redress any such mistakes on their part.

    Fortunately for me this was only a temporary situation & I have the skills to leave it all behind & am now in the process of building up a financial cushion to avoid that version of hell ever again.

    I cannot imagine what it must be like for those who are stuck with it – required to spend 35 hours a week job searching when within their local area, when it would be unusual for that amount of vacancies to exist. & those that do are of low quality. Forced to pointlessly deliver CV’s to companies who by now must have filled bins with them & to put up with a system which in terms of privacy only lacks a camera in your home or an electronic tag on your ankle.

    Due to my profession I got off lightly with the help of a sympathetic work coach, who admitted that the whole thing was a nightmare…it could be termed as Shock Therapy.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Last week I was in Iceland (for non-UK readers, this is a cheap ‘n cheerful supermarket chain selling frozen foodstuffs and a small (tiny) range of fresh or fresh-ish produce in a token gesture to offset the generally low quality highly processed fare which is their mainstay as they have bargain offers on some high-end type brands like Haagen Dazs so you find the odd middle class denizens braving the shamelessly low rent surroundings).

      The guy in front of me in the checkout line had bought a couple of the cheapest meal ranges — all frozen food, nothing from the fruit or vegetables aisle. They’d been scanned and the checkout operator said the amount due. The chap then riffled through his pockets and a small bag he’d brought and disgorged a collection of copper coins — literally, 1p and 2p coins — a few small silver ones (5p’s and 10p’s mostly, a couple of 50p’s — no £1 coins or anything like that). He’d cobbled together about £4 in this way but was still some way off having enough to purchase his shopping.

      While we shouldn’t make snap superficial judgments, he looked like his life was and had always been hard. Nicotine soaked complexion, some unwise tattoos, scraggy in every way. As a minimum he had severe, immediate money issues and you just got a hunch that there was underlying mental health problems and maybe substance abuse, too. I just tapped my card on the till terminal and said not to worry, I’d cover this one, he could pay me back “next time”. He thanked my like I was the archangel bloody Gabriel or something. I didn’t check the till total initially, but it was £5.13. He was the living, breathing embodiment of desperation. He clearly had absolutely no money. At all. For anything. Barely able to get a few pounds together for a meal that day.

      What a shoddy, mean, miserable country.

      It’s no help, but the DPAC pressure group is resolutely campaigning, and they can signpost a certain amount of support if you need. To no great response in the MSM of course. The occasional 5-minute hand-wringing on BBC. Serious coverage and challenge to how we got here? Fat chance.

      Reply
        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Clive. I echo Paul.

          It’s not uncommon. One sees it especially amongst pensioners.

          Speaking of the execrable BBC, which I now want sold to Fox as it would make f*** all difference (unless we get Tucker Carlson), did UK readers see how quickly the BBC reporter, when interviewing the tenants who live in the Barking housing complex that caught fire yesterday afternoon, cut off one of the tenants as soon as she said that the local council, building management company and central government had been warned of the danger six years ago. The BBC is scared of upsetting the government. I wonder if the husband of the HSBC bankster turned BBC deputy chairwoman turned Tory minister has the maintenance contract, as he did for Grenfell.

          “What a shoddy, mean, miserable country.” Well and accurately said, Clive.

          Reply
      1. Alex morfesis

        Don’t imagine it is any better on this side of the pond…here we have the glorious and dubious extra tax rightj off given to corporates who give “in kind” instead of money…

        the “ing” organization which coordinates throw away food which would be dumpstered helps the corporates with beautiful words and events and goodness we are just wonderful…

        And get some funding from our juvenile welfare board… But…

        Turns out it is a 9-5 gig…

        and never on a Sunday…

        oh…and if you are broke or broken and need a meal in one of these soup kitchen type deals…you have to haul yourself and belongings from point a to point b since most who provide a meal only provide “A” meal..

        And this in a city, St Pete, which allowed a currently underused “storage” facility with its automated three jobs to replace a chinsee little on air auction company that had over fifty employees since the local genius city development director did not imagine they were worthy of having access to new market tax credits…

        I did mention these are the same guvmint geniuses that allowed Wikipedia to walk from St Pete (it was founded here) while helping the dictator loving misogynistic sadistic klown artist, “hell-oh Dali” to 50 million bux I’m a monstrous scam with claims of hundreds of thousands of visitors but always an empty parking lot…

        Lots of high fives and helping people jawboning yet…no food banks open after 6 PM and nothing on a Sunday…

        It’s a yab…make up and event planning and food and drinks and corporate or people… And photo ops and retakes and editing of video…

        Reply
        1. newcatty

          Nice and refreshing to read. It’s also,quite evident, in my eyes Clive, not only did you have empathy for another human being, but you are a humble human who is kind and was touched that the man thanked you so emotionally. And,you helped him retain some dignity, by saying he could “get the next one”. Refreshing, especially since some commenters have decided to make NC one of their daily diary entries about how cool, amazing they, and their life is, while repeating their stories of their exceptional adventures . OK, I know I can just skip the comments. Too bad, cause sometimes interesting, and relevant, information is shared. But, not worth my time. I won’t eat the snow cones .

          Reply
      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Thank you for the link Clive & as for the person you were a good Samaritan for, i have seen many of the like in the splendidly refurbished jobcentre, who stand out against the h decor & walls emblazoned with the words ” We can help ” like sore thumbs.

        As I stated due to various factors it was not that bad in comparison to the many, but still a shock to the system. A couple of large commissions postponed from last year have since turned up & as my partner who finally accepted that she needs help, is away getting treatment, i can also do out of my studio film work which was previously unavailable to me due to not being able to leave her alone.

        Capita is a large part of the problem, who appear to be making the same mess with the benefit system as they have with NHS contracts & in other areas. There have been demos in Derry centred on Capita & I think it is a shame Corbyn appears to have blown his fuse, as I don’t believe the Centrists will do much more than tweak the system. Same old story & likely that the left behind will increasingly look to the Right in desperation.

        Reply
      3. Massinissa

        Other people would look at a man like that and think things like, “This man is dumb, his poverty is his own fault, he should stop smoking. He deserves everything that is happening to him”

        It is good that you are not one of those people.

        Reply
  9. Summer

    RE: UK Digital Welfare

    Unaccountable algorithms are the point of digitizing services that are supposed to help people.

    Any place that deals with people in crisis that is a digital service is a scam – at best.

    The more this BS is done the faster this planet needs to burn.

    Reply
    1. PCL

      In the mid-20th century the power and subtlety of human cognition were greatly underestimated, due to naive comparisons of the human ability to solve simple math problems relative to early computers. It wasn’t until later on that it became obvious that these “hard” problems were, in computational terms, actually trivially easy compared to even the most routine human pursuits.

      And so to the popular myth developed that the simple-mindedness of early “AI” programs somehow represented a superior way of thinking that only seemed deficient from the perspective of lowly emotion-addled human meatbags.

      Even though even the low estimates of human brainpower now put it at par with the most powerful supercomputer hardware of today, and the most sophisticated AI software is still light years short of equaling human general intelligence, the myth persists in many quarters, and artificial stupidity is routinely exalted as superior to natural intelligence. Much of the cachet surrounding the “zero tolerance” philosophy arises from this notion that “computer-like” blind rule-following is superior to “mushy” human common sense.

      Pure idolatry.

      Reply
      1. Jonathan

        Thank you! Much younger than you I asssume, but even to a millennial, AI seems like such an obvious scam.

        We don’t even fully Understand How the human brain works much less imitate it!

        Reply
    2. Procopius

      Why am I reminded of Milton Friedman (a lot has been reminding me of him recently)? He argued (Yves wrote about it in ECONned) that it does not matter if a model depends on completely unrealistic, implausible, contradictory assumptions, as long as it delivers the right answer.

      Reply
  10. JohnnyGL

    I’m glad Taibbi’s been picking up on the Solomon reporting. I’ve thrown a few of his stories in the Hill on these pages, but have had a few readers say he’s not particularly reliable and is mostly a right-wing attack dog.

    But, I keep seeing his stories come up on the Hill, and he’s broken some stuff that seems pretty important. I’m happy to have someone sift through this sort of thing and figure out what’s for real. It’s been so deep in the weeds as to be well above my ability to parse the wheat from the chaff.

    It seems to be emerging that pretty much every link in the Trump-Russia story either has FBI or DNC-Fusion GPS links. The stench of what was going seems to be getting more and more rank.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Larry Wilkerson called Robert Mueller a kind of janitor/clean up man for the Republican Party establishment.

      That’s looking more and more true.

      Reply
    2. Swamp Yankee

      I’ve always found Taibbi to be quite solid, and not at all a right-winger. I’m wondering if those latter charges result from his not spouting the party line on RussiaRussiaRussia!

      Reply
    3. UserFriendly

      FWIW

      What’s amazing about Konstantin Kilimnik—the supposed Russian meddling link between Trump/Manafort and the Kremlin—is that spent nearly a decade in Moscow working for @IRIglobal, USG-funded regime change/foreign meddling op.

      From 1995 to 2005, he was an *American agent.*

      5:01 PM – 11 Jan 2019

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Dutton defends penalties for journalists”

    Just as a reminder as to who this joker is – he is a political thug who a few months ago tried to become the Prime Minister in a back-room coup but lost. He is part of the hard-right wing of the Coalition but his Wikipedia entry will tell you more about what he represents-

    Reply
  12. epynonymous

    UK Digital Benefits-

    The real issue is mental health. Being directed to a robot is not a solution for those of us suffering anxiety, depression, and most of all – isolation.

    It’s not their digital skills, and it’s only partially about internet access.

    Being commanded to submit to a robot is much different from getting to speak to a human being about your benefits and your life once a month or so.

    Not by a long shot.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      Sounds like the film Elysium: Bugatti 2154 (2013). In one scene the protagonist is sent to a “counseller” robot. In the end, the “security” forces take over the space station on which the elite live their splendid lives.

      Reply
  13. Olga

    The End of the World as We Know It Joschka Fischer, Project Syndicate
    I can imagine Mr. JF did not think in the late 1990s – when he was one of the driving forces behind the destruction of Yugoslavia – that a mere twenty tears later, he’d be bemoaning the unfolding hegemonic struggle (“adjustment” below refers to China withdrawing from US-controlled supply channels):
    “In the medium term, this adjustment would effectively divide the world into two spheres of economic competition. Sooner or later, all smaller powers dependent on global markets would have to choose a side, unless they are somehow strong enough to withstand both American and Chinese pressure. With China and the US both demanding clarity, even economic giants like the European Union, India, and Japan would be faced with an intractable economic dilemma.”
    How could it not occur to these clever European “defenders of the liberal order” that the hegemon will extract a price sooner or later? It is too late to cry over spilled milk.

    Reply
  14. anon in so cal

    Ballet article in Axios:

    IDK. Yes, ballet takes a huge toll on the body. But, has Olivia Campbell interviewed dancers recently?

    From another of her articles:

    “Soon, I am training for two to four hours a day. Homeschooling means I can be driven to studios an hour from my home to take classes multiple times a week with more advanced teachers. Finally, I am living with other families or my dance teacher during the week so I can train at the best school in the region. Summers are spent at ballet “intensives,” which means six weeks away from home, living in dorms, taking classes all day at the Washington Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I am getting better and better. I revel in my ability to balance en pointe forever and turn with ease. I once did five rotations in a single pirouette turn. Five. The typical maximum for women is three. It’s a moment I will never forget.

    But when you hear the word “ballerina,” my body is not what your mind’s eye conjures.

    When puberty hits at fifteen, weight begins to stick to me. I begin to sport fleshy hips, meaty thighs, a blossoming bosom. I’m not fat amongst “regular” people—I wear a women’s size 8—but I am fat for a ballerina. In this profession, rarely is anyone bigger than a size 4. Ballerinas are supposed to be beyond human: to evoke ethereal, otherworldly beings that toe the line between the sensual and the virginal. To have noticeable breasts and hips is to interrupt this fantasy with grotesque sexuality, to remind the audience that you are indeed human….

    ….I did try modern dance later, when I was in college. While it is a more freeing form of dance—less rigid, significantly more forgiving of differing body types—I honestly wasn’t very good at it. At school in London, I was placed in the highest level of ballet and the lowest level of modern.

    The summer after that crushing Joffrey audition, I am sent to stay at my grandparents’ horse farm an hour outside of New Orleans…”

    Could she be disgruntled?

    Separately, NYCB dancers are the best, and NYCB is one of the few companies that features repertory.
    Great that they finally got rid of Peter Martins….

    Reply
    1. Susan Mulloy

      Like many when I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a ballerina. I still have sleeping dreams that I am able to walk on point. I also wonder whether our delight in seeing some women wearing high heels is linked to the beauty of seeing a ballerina on point.

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Who let the dogs in, whoop, whoop, whoop whoop whoop.

    Mom paid for the clan to converge on Rancho Mirage, and have digs @ the Ritz Carlton, and it’s a beautiful hotel, very classy with an attention to detail that just doesn’t quit. The desert landscaping immaculate with an artists touch, wildlife afoot (we saw a couple of rabbits scampering in and out of the tableau below) and amenities up the wazoo, and the most attentive well spoken staff i’ve ever encountered.

    As we walk in, I notice every 5th person milling about in the lobby has fido in tow, whats up with no pussycat though, didn’t see a one.

    I’d never witnessed such a thing, and for a $250 non-refundable cleaning fee, you can bring your pet, although its restricted to your room, the lobby and the grounds only.

    Out of 44 people lounging/swimming in the pool yesterday, there was one person with a visible tattoo from a good range of ages from say 30 to 70. Nobody really seemed to talk to anybody that wasn’t a part of their family, etc. Very sterile in that regard.

    Each of the rooms just off the patio where we stayed had these propane fueled fire pits that went on a bit before dusk and the temperature drooped into the mid 80’s, and it had a feel of a Triumph of the Well(off) light show, firing for effect, as more warmth wasn’t all that, but it you’ve got it-flare it.

    I’m not sure why mom decided that 106 in the daytime was the right time to be here, but birthdays happen when they will and there we were, and i’d say we opt for somewhere else in the 70’s to celebrate her 95th go round.

    Now, compare it to another desert experience, where last Thanksgiving, around 175 people showed up @ Saline hot springs in Death Valley NP, and not one Cent was exchanged as there is nothing to buy, and there’s a traditional BYO Thanksgiving, where everybody brings something (our contribution being a cherry pie we bought @ a supermarket in Boulder City Nv) and before you know it, there’s a line of 44 people plates and utensils at the ready waiting for their chance @ the tucker, yacking with the person in front or behind them.

    Conversations in the hot springs flow like the water, warmly received as you’re out of range of the signal corps, nothing to distract you from communicating the old fashioned way. You’ll meet all walks of life, bonded by a shared soak. About 1 out of 10 people bring their dogs.

    Reply
  16. JerryDenim

    Surprisingly good write up by the The Daily Beast on the corporate culture that produced the 737 Max fiasco.

    “The decision to launch the MAX was taken by James McNerney, the company’s first boss without a background in aviation, with a résumé that included Procter & Gamble, McKinsey, General Electric and 3M. At GE McNerney was schooled under the hard-nosed bottom-line philosophy of Jack Welsh”

    If I could borrow one of Yves’ catch phrases- “quelle surprise!”

    Reply
    1. dearieme

      hard-nosed bottom-line philosophy

      Is that meant somehow to imply brown-nosing?

      It seems to me that there are two common ways for a big firm to go pop. (i) A new management sweeps in and cocks up. (ii) An old management pillages the business and then flees before the chickens come home to roost.

      Naturally as a conservative sort of a chap I incline to the view that if your firm makes its living building aircraft it’s a good idea if you know something about them.

      Reply
    2. rd

      McNerney was the runner-up to Jeffrey Immelt in the “Run GE Sweepstakes” in the mid-2000s when Jack Welsh was God.

      It appears that Jack Welsh was training his underlings to be corporate alligators that would drag a company from on land and hold it underwater until it drowns.

      Reply
  17. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the site of the Hong Kong bureau chief of AFP. Photos of the citizens of Hong Kong efforts to preserve their civil rights and the massive weekend demonstrations against China’s policy to extradite Hong Kong residents to China for trial in Chinese courts are deeply moving. Difficult to see how China’s move does not violate Hong Kong’s autonomy as a sovereign entity as it no longer would be sovereign in its legislative and economic affairs, nor have its own rule of law.

    On a related front, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has reportedly exhausted about 80 Pct of its US dollar reserves defending the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US dollar. Prospectively difficult economic waters ahead for Hong Kong given the level of debt leverage in its financial system relative to its GDP, the extreme valuations of real property there, together with its much diminished role in goods exports from China. If Hong Kong re-pegs to the RMB, that will be another nail in the coffin of the city’s sovereignty.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      Not to mention a fair whack of hot money flows out of China has landed in Hong Kong over the years, like acorns from the tree.

      Makes me wonder if all the Moon – Mars business [tm] might be a tax haven agenda …. chortle …

      Reply
  18. ewmayer

    o “Anthony Bourdain Knew There Was Nothing More Political Than Food | The Nation” — Just as there is nothing more mutual-understanding-promoting than people from different cultures sitting down for a meal together. There’s a reason the phrase “breaking bread” became a cultural and literary trope.

    o “How the CIA is Working to Ethically Deploy Artificial Intelligence | Defense One” — LOL, they used “CIA” and “ethical” in the same headline. This could make for a fun party game – let’s try a few mock-headlines in the same vein:

    “Jeff Bezos is Working to Ethically Deploy thousands of satellites into earth orbit”

    “Clinton Foundation is Working to Ethically Support Venezuelan Regime Change”

    “Trump Administration is Working to Ethically promote carbon-based energy”

    Reply
  19. WestcoastDeplorable

    Why do you post anything from the “Daily Beast”? It’s all propaganda unbecoming of NC’s journalistic acumen. I’m disappointed Yves.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      That may be true for the vast majority of articles from that site, but that doesn’t make this specific article incorrect.

      Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      So is much of NYT, WaPO, WSJ, etc. but we have lots of links from those sources too, expected to be read with a critical eye.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith

      Ad hominem, against our written site Policies. Concern trolling on top of that is not a good look. Compounded by reading comprehension failure. Lambert did Links, as the post and the Recent Items listing show.

      Reply
  20. Plenue

    >After Amazon-Led Tax Rebellion, Seattle’s Homeless Aid Stalls Bloomberg

    Recently watched this ‘documentary’, which is something of a masterclass in propaganda. Despite the repeated laments that no one is treating the homeless victims with dignity, it firmly sides with business. It portrays the Amazon led revolt as some sort of principled workers rebellion, and in fact suggests the moment area businesses refused to pay a tax to pay for a change, was the precise moment when it ‘seemed like change might happen’ (no mention is made of how the Chamber of Commerce refused to take part in the debate over the head tax that would have helped to address the problems).

    It also criticizes the police for their hands off policy, prominently featuring business owners complaining about how smelly hobos and littered needles are costing them millions in potential profits. It does this while implicitly criticizing the city attorney, who says the city can’t just keep endlessly rearresting homeless, something that the testimonies of individual police universally echoes (this is portrayed as police hating their ‘hands being tied’). Then the ‘documentary’ ends by showcasing approaches to helping addicts in other parts of the country. These do indeed look like good strategies, but the people interviewed themselves make literally the exact same point that you can’t just keep arresting addicts, and instead must actually treat them. Only here these views are portrayed positively. There’s no discussion of how such a program would be paid for in Seattle, other than some vague suggestion that money currently being wasted on policing the homeless could be used. Except…the ‘documentary’ earlier went to great lengths to complain about how the police aren’t policing the homeless…

    I should mention that the entire thesis, such as it is, of this ‘documentary’ seems to rest on distinguishing between ‘real’ homeless’ (the narrator gives the bizarre example of truckers between jobs. ???, no I don’t get it either), and addicts (‘this isn’t a homeless problem; it’s a drug problem’ is a repeated refrain).

    Seattle took the sound first step, which was to stop just treating homeless like criminals. But it’s failed at achieving any follow through plan for treating them as anything else.

    Reply
    1. lyman alpha blob

      …this isn’t a homeless problem; it’s a drug problem’ is a repeated refrain.

      I lived in Seattle for a decade starting in the early 90s. There were plenty of drugs and people dying of them then. I did restaurant work and hung out with people in the music scene so was pretty familiar with what was going on. Thing is, there were plenty of places you could rent for $400-500/month. I don’t remember ever paying more than $550 or so. That apartment wasn’t a palace but not a dump either – a decent sized studio in a decent neighborhood. According to friends who still live there, you will not find anything remotely close to that price range now.

      So while there are arguably more drugs around now with the prevalence of prescription opioids, heroin wasn’t exactly in short supply back in the 90s and the city was rather notorious for its famous dead junkies. But I never saw anything like what I see in pictures today, and friends who still live there say the problem is far worse than it was a couple decades ago. People were not shooting up in the street in broad daylight, they had apartments to do that in.

      Seems like it’s definitely a homeless problem to me. Maybe with all the capital sloshing around out there that the squiliionaires don’t know what to do with, they could try building some homes. And not on Mars.

      Reply
      1. Susan Mulloy

        I’m not in Seattle but in the SF Bay Area and California in general. The LA Times is the only newspaper with the guts to say, enough is enough. We have 60,000 people homeless in LA and our state legislature won’t protect tenants. The Times also advocates that property owners actually agree to accept less than market rate for their rooms or apartments. My local Next Door posted a local homeowner who offered a room in Richmond for $1,600 a month. Richmond is one of the lowest income communities in the Bay Area.

        Reply

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