Links 10/18/17

October 18, 2017

Plastic-eating caterpillars could save the planet The Economist

Oyster farts help (humans) warm the world Deutsche Welle

How big is the risk of another Black Monday equities crash? FT

When is the Time to Wind Down? Handelsblatt

Central bankers have one job and they don’t know how to do it FT Alphaville

Wall Street found a parasite growing in the US economy that could spur the next recession Business Insider. Shorts looking at health care. On “parasites,” see NC. In 2013….

How Valuable Is a Unicorn? Maybe Not as Much as It Claims to Be Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT (see NC here). When you’ve lost Andrew Ross Sorkin….

GM to test self-driving cars in N.Y. in early 2018: Gov. Cuomo Reuters (EM). The lead says “Fully autonomous mode,” which is Level 5. Further down, we read that the cars will be Level 4. At the best, sloppy reporting from Reuters. See NC here for an explanation of the levels.

Bitter differences over Nafta break into the open FT


Iraqi forces seize Kirkuk governor’s office in push against Kurds AFP

Iraq – Thus Ends The Kurdish Independence Project Moon of Alabama

The War on ISIS Held the Middle East Together Defense One

North Korea

Seoul to host 3-way talks on North Korea Nikkei Asian Review

US talks with North Korea ‘not ruled out’, says United States official Agence France Presse (Furzy Mouse).

N.K. unlikely to talk until securing ICBM capability that levels playing field: Robert Gallucci Yon Hap News Agency

Trump and Kim Madmen? Not So Fast The American Conservative


White House announces plans for Donald Trump’s visit to China with North Korean nuclear programme set to top the agenda South China Morning Post (and People’s Daily). And just when I thought things were dull. There’s nothing about this on the front pages of either the Times or WaPo, as of this writing (3:11AM today). I mean, pro-Trump or anti-Trump or anything else, isn’t this newsworthy?

A Wide-Ranging Agenda: What Trump’s First Asia-Pacific Tour Means The Diplomat

China’s Xi lays out vision for ‘new era’ led by ‘still stronger’ Communist Party Reuters

Expats send $20 billion to Philippines in 8 months Gulf News


Brexit Talks Are Failing. Somebody Needs to Care. Bloomberg

Jeremy Corbyn: damned right we’re a threat to the economic order Boing Boing

New Cold War

Sweden Eyes Russia While Holding Its Own War Games Bloomberg

Weapons based on new physical principles tested at Kapustin Yar range — chief TASS

Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace Defense One

The Legacy of Reagan’s Civilian ‘Psyops’ Robert Parry, Consortium News. Plus ça change

The Cultural Axis NYRB

Trump Transition

Trump on Gold Star families: ‘Did they ever think of calling me first?’ Duffel Blog

Lawrence Summers: Trump’s top economist’s tax analysis isn’t just wrong, it’s dishonest Lawrence Summers, WaPo

Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility, and spousal abuse WaPo. The headline is amusing since oddly, or not, both it and the lead omit mention of other key effects, especially a “rising mortality rate.” From further down: “The documents list what Navarro alleges are the problems that have resulted from a ‘weakened manufacturing base.’ Some of the consequences are economic, including ‘lost jobs,’ ‘depressed wages,’ and ‘closed factories.’” I’d speculate that somebody in the White House has discovered the Case-Deaton studies (see NC here), and is trying to figure out how to frame them for 2018 and 2020. This should concern liberal Democrats, but here what we get is: “[The documents] were presented without any data or information to back up the assertions.” Yes, the two-page document is PowerPoint-level talking points in bubbles, for pity’s sake; there’s plenty of data out there if Democrats want to look; thousands of excess “deaths of despair” a year in the deindustrialized flyover states.

War, relationships and placing blame: Trump topics at news conference McClatchy

The Mystery Of Wilbur Ross’ Missing Billions Forbes

2016 Post Mortem

How Hillary Clinton Still Can, and Should, Become President After the Trump-Russia Investigation Lawrence Lessig, Newsweek. Lessig’s thesis: Trump is removed because he was helped by “Mother Russia” (!), Pence “should” resign since he got the same help, Ryan steps in. “If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.” This is where we are. Poor Larry. Such a shame.

The Danger of President Pence The New Yorker (GF).

Democrats in Disarray

Why Democrats Need Wall Street NYT (HM). From a Clinton pollster (1994-2000).

Maxine Waters’ campaign committee wrote-off $10,000 spent on Hamilton tickets as a fundraiser expense Washington Times

Cy Vance represents everything wrong with the justice system The Outline

Health Care

What Democrats and GOP Get in Bipartisan Health-Care Deal WSJ. Summary of the two-year deal: Democrats get: 1) Trump retracts his threat of future CSR cuts, and 2) $100 million in walking around money for their navigators from rescinded cuts. Republicans get: 1) More and quicker waivers, including increased charges for older customers, and 2) crapified “copper” catastrophic plans for those over 30. So Democrats get some temporary cash they might not even have lost anyhow, if their court challenges succeeded, and Republicans get two systemic changes, the second of which will make ObamaCare’s risk pool worse. I’d give the edge to Republicans in this transaction. I wrote that Trump cares about deals, period, and “great” surfaces. Here, he at least looks like he’s willing to deal. What’s the shiny surface? If you think about it, Schumer and company have just managed to undercut the key narrative that the Democrat establishment was been pushing for a year: That Trump, both Putin’s Puppet and Baby Hitler, is a crazed, senile dictator. After all, they sat down at the table with Mr. This Is Not Normal, didn’t they? And for all their yammering about “hostage taking,” they just rewarded it, didn’t they? And Trump gets that surface benefit even if the deal collapses (by which I mean if the Republican establishment causes it to collapse).

Another last-ditch effort to tackle Obamacare stalls within hours of its release WaPo

Bipartisan deal to fund insurer payments faces tough political slog Modern Health Care

Salvaging MACRA Implementation Through Medicare Advantage Health Affairs. (For more on MACRA, see NC here and here.)

Police State Watch

No Forfeiture-Database Backup With Millions on the Line, NYPD Admits Courthouse News (DK). DK: “Hello, I’d like to report a robbery…”

2016 Post Mortem

Comey Drafted Statement Ending Clinton Email Investigation Months Before Interviewing Her, FBI Confirms Newsweek. Wowsers.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Football fashion: Behind Air Force’s top-secret fighter jet uniforms EPSN

Class Warfare

A Philando Castile Memorial Fund Has Wiped Out All Student Lunch Debt in St. Paul Splinter. “Student lunch debt.” We’re training ’em early, aren’t we?

Haunted by Student Debt Past Age 50 NYT

New Federal Data Show a Student Loan Crisis for African American Borrowers CAP

Reimagining “right-to-work” The Minskys

How So-Called “Right to Work” Laws Aim to Silence Working People Demos

The Deep Unfairness of America’s All-Volunteer Force The American Conservative

How “Big Data” Went Bust Slate (Re Silc). “[T]he bigger problem is that the [Big Data] data you have are usually only a proxy for what you really want to know. Big data doesn’t solve that problem—it magnifies it.” And integrating multiple proxies is hard; witness the F-35 helmet debacle, which faced exactly that technical problem.

What is sleep, even? Quartz. I wish I knew!

South Africa: Train Surfers Risk Their Lives Without Fear of Metrorail’s Security All Africa

Antidote du jour:

Still working to level up my cat game….

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.


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About Lambert Strether

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

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