14920
How Zizek Should Have Replied to Jordan Peterson – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
In my view, Marx makes three key contributions to the history of thought, each of which has been further refined and added to by those who have been influenced by him:

The theory of alienation, which criticises capitalism for denying us the opportunity to be creative or to otherwise self-actualize.
The theory of exploitation, which criticizes capitalism for forcing workers to surrender some of the value of what they produce by threatening them with starvation and homelessness.
The theory of history, also known as “historical materialism,” “dialectical materialism,” and even “technological determinism,” which alleges that more competitive economic systems out-compete less competitive systems and that social structures, ideas, and cultures develop in a manner which serves to legitimate and support these economic system. In other words, the mode of production, or the “base,” determines the social relations, or the “superstructure.”
marxism  socialism101  zizek  jordan_peterson 
yesterday
What Marx Got Wrong About Capitalism | Boston Review
To celebrate, we have delved into our archive to bring you a reading list full of pieces that focus on racial capitalism. From South African apartheid to the War on Drugs, all of today’s essays start with the idea that Marx’s history of capital is incorrect—and that capitalism did not originate in eighteenth-century British factories, but began with the slave trade.
racism  slavery  historical_revisionism  capitalism  marx  socialism101 
yesterday
Democrats Use Loophole to take Corporate Cash Despite Pledges Not To
The pledge loophole being exploited by these Democrats hinges on the Federal Election Commission’s designations for noncandidate-affiliated PACs. The elections regulator allows six different registrations, which include corporate, labor union, and trade association PACs. Trade associations are private groups typically formed by a collection of businesses from the same industry to advance shared interests in politics and public policy. Oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil, for instance, are represented by the American Petroleum Institute. Banks have the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable.

Though the groups are not directly designated as corporate PACs — which are set up by for-profit companies and only take money from a particular company’s employees — they nonetheless represent infusions of corporate money into electoral politics by operating as coalitions to advance shared industry lobbying goals.
campaign_finance  pacs  lee_fang 
6 days ago
US Workers Are Paying High Taxes. But Without Any of the Benefits.
Ultimately, this is a long exercise in pointing out the obvious: American workers already pay more than enough money to provide good health care to everyone in the country. It’s just that they pay it into a private insurance system that wastes large portions of it on rents and administrative redundancy. As the Mercatus Center noted last year, by implementing a Medicare for All system, the US could insure 30 million more people, provide dental, vision, and hearing coverage to everyone, and virtually eliminate out-of-pocket expenses, all while saving $2 trillion over the first decade of implementation.
taxes  wages  healthcare  health_insurance  single_payer  matt_bruenig 
7 days ago
Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready - The New York Times
For Pinkerton, the bet is twofold: first, that there’s no real material difference between climate change and any other conflict — as the world grows more predictably dangerous, tactical know-how will simply be more in demand than ever. And second, that by adding data analytics, Pinkerton stands to compete more directly with traditional consulting firms like Deloitte, which offer pre- and postdisaster services (supply-chain monitoring, damage documentation, etc.), but which cannot, say, dispatch a helicopter full of armed guards to Guatemala in an afternoon. In theory, Pinkerton can do both — a fully militarized managerial class at corporate disposal.
climate-change  military-industrial-complex  pinkerton  security  mercenaries  private_military 
10 days ago
How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse - The New York Times
Exxon’s arrangement in Texas reflects, in miniature, our national state of indecision about the best approach to climate change. Depending on whom you ask, climate change doesn’t exist, or is an engineering problem, or requires global mobilization, or could be solved by simply nudging the free market into action. Absent a coherent strategy, opportunists can step in and benefit in wily ways from the shifting landscape. Tax-supported renewables in Texas take coal plants offline, but they also support oil extraction. Technology advances, but not the system underneath. Faced with this volatile and chaotic situation, the system does what it does best: It searches out profits in the short term.
climate-change  investor_capitalism  exxon  oil 
10 days ago
Debunking Economics Part 1: Utility and Society | freedom this time
Part 1 of an accessible summary of Steve Keen's DEBUNKING ECONOMICS, tackling marginal utility, demand curves, and other neoclassical shibboleths.
economics  counterpoint  marginal_utility  supply_and_demand  steve_keen 
18 days ago
The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well. — ProPublica
But ProPublica was able to reconstruct the key points in the Schaeffler case. The billionaire’s lawyers and accountants first crafted a transaction of unusual complexity, one so novel that they acknowledged, even as they planned it, that it was likely to be challenged by the IRS. Then Schaeffler deployed teams of professionals to battle the IRS on multiple fronts. They denied that he owed any money, arguing the agency fundamentally misunderstood the tax issues. Schaeffler’s representatives complained to top officials at the agency; they challenged document requests in court. At various times, IRS auditors felt Schaeffler’s side was purposely stalling. But in the end, Schaeffler’s team emerged almost completely victorious.
taxes  tax_evasion  billionaires  wealth  one_percent  irs  brainfood 
18 days ago
The Inside Story Of How The Ricketts Family Schemed And Feuded Their Way To Owning The Chicago Cubs
What’s being described here is a leveraged partnership. Under this plan, the Tribune wouldn’t technically sell the Cubs to the Ricketts, but would instead partner with them to form a new limited liability corporation which would own the Cubs and in which the Ricketts would have a controlling stake. Then, the LLC would load itself down with as much debt as possible and funnel the borrowed cash to the Tribune. The Tribune would get cash-rich but remain in debt without ever actually technically selling the Cubs, and the Ricketts would get control of the Cubs without ever actually buying them from the Tribune. Only when the partnership was safely clear of the 10-year window would the Tribune officially sell its remaining stake in the Cubs to the Ricketts.
baseball  chicago  ricketts  tax_evasion  one_percent  chicago_cubs 
24 days ago
Thoughts on David Graeber’s ‘Debt: the first 5,000 years’
What follows isn't really a review, but some thoughts on some of the concepts put forward and ideas raised in the book.
david_graeber  libcom  anthropology  historical_revisionism  debt  economic_history 
27 days ago
Socialism Isn't the Enemy—Corruption Is, According to Noam Chomsky, James Galbraith, Richard D. Woolf, and Anat Admati - Pacific Standard
There are many reasons why Venezuela failed in the way that it did. But it certainly wasn't because Venezuelans got free health care. An over-reliance on oil exports in the years before oil prices plummeted in 2016 was a partial cause of the crisis. Intervention by the United States is another important part of it. Most crucially, it was a government rife with corruption that shattered Venezuela.
venezuela  richard_wolff  oil  imperialism 
28 days ago
Seeing Like a Communist – de Pony Sum – Medium
 In what follows, I try to do that for communism, arranging a sort of blancmange of ideas that don’t so much argue for a communist world view as swarm into it.
communism  socialism101  economic_history 
29 days ago
Debunking the Capitalist Cowboy | Boston Review
The myth of entrepreneurial innovation owes a lot to a story about Duke Tobacco from the 19th century. But that's a story about how an ingenious interpretation of the 14th Amendment lay the groundwork for corporate "personhood", not about a cunning innovator.
disruptive_innovation  entrepreneurs  schumpeter  tobacco  historical_revisionism  economic_history 
4 weeks ago
Everybody’s Chum – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Joe Biden’s career is best understood as what happens when a person who is not actively evil decides to prioritize chumminess and conformity over taking difficult moral stands. At every stage, he chose the path of friendliness over courage, resulting in a horrendous and embarrassing record that gives no reason to think he would be a successful president.
joe_biden  strom_thurmond  politics  senate  jesse_helms 
4 weeks ago
The Bully’s Pulpit
Here I think it’s important to look carefully at how institutions organize the reactions of the audience. Usually, when we try to imagine the primordial scene of domination, we see some kind of Hegelian master-slave dialectic in which two parties are vying for recognition from one another, leading to one being permanently trampled underfoot. We should imagine instead a three-way relation of aggressor, victim, and witness, one in which both contending parties are appealing for recognition (validation, sympathy, etc.) from someone else. The Hegelian battle for supremacy, after all, is just an abstraction. A just-so story. Few of us have witnessed two grown men duel to the death in order to get the other to recognize him as truly human. The three-way scenario, in which one party pummels another while both appeal to those around them to recognize their humanity, we’ve all witnessed and participated in, taking one role or the other, a thousand times since grade school.
anthropology  david_graeber  historical_revisionism  primitivism  bullying  institutions  war 
5 weeks ago
Secular stagnation, monetary policy and John Law | Michael Roberts Blog
Keynes also realised after the Great Depression continued deep into the 1930s, that his advocacy of low interest rates and even ‘unconventional’ monetary policy (buying government bonds and printing money) was not working: ““I am now somewhat sceptical of the success of a merely monetary policy directed towards influencing the rate of interest… since it seems likely that the fluctuations in the market estimation of the marginal efficiency of different types of capital, calculated on the principles I have described above, will be too great to be offset by any practicable changes in the rate of interest”.  In other words, there is no natural rate of interest low enough to persuade capitalists to borrow and invest if they think the return on that investment would be too low.  You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.
keynes  monetary_theory  modern_monetary_theory  inflation  government_spending  michael_roberts  recession  debt 
5 weeks ago
Banking on the Cold War | Boston Review
In 1948, for instance, a CIA document entitled “The Break-Up of Colonial Empires and its Implications for US Security” defined expressions of “economic nationalism” and “racial antagonism” as primary sources of “friction between the colonial powers and the US on the one hand, and the states of the Near and Far East on the other.”

The CIA’s analysts suggested that poverty and a legacy of anti-colonial grievances rendered colonized and formerly colonized peoples “peculiarly susceptible to Soviet penetration” and warned that the “gravest danger” facing the United States was that decolonizing nations might fall into alignment with the USSR. At the same time, they faulted Europe’s colonial powers for their failure to satisfy “the aspirations of their dependent areas” and advised them to “devise formulae that will retain their good will as emergent or independent states.” Envisioning U.S. responsibility to author such formulae in the future, the classified brief concluded that the United States should adopt “a more positive and sympathetic attitude toward the national aspirations of these areas,” including policy that “at least partially meets their demands for economic assistance.” Otherwise “it will risk their becoming actively antagonistic toward the US,” including loss of access to previously “assured sources of raw materials, markets, and military bases.”
cold_war  imperialism  ussr  cia  greece 
5 weeks ago
Gentrification Is a Feature, Not a Bug, of Capitalist Urban Planning
The property contradiction arises because capitalists demand certain planning interventions from the state to enable their mode of accumulation, but then deny the utility of planning as some sort of socialist sickness. Crucially, beyond certain fundamentals, urban capitalists do not want the same things from city planners. Their demands crudely break down along industry lines. Manufacturing capitalists might bristle at environmental regulations that curb their abilities to exploit land, water, and air without legal consequences. They could, however, be broadly supportive of planning interventions meant to cool rising land and housing prices, as they view land as a cost factor of production and housing prices as a cause around which their workers could rally and demand higher wages.

Real estate capitalists, on the other hand, might welcome environmental regulations that limit pollution if they see smog and grime as factors that might bring down the value of their buildings. They would not, however, cheer the state for imposing rent controls or building high-quality public housing, as those measures might threaten their very business model. Planners, then, must manage a double bind: meeting the competing demands of various types of capitalists, without doing so much planning that the capitalists freak out.
gentrification  urbanism  urban_planning  democracy  real_estate  housing 
5 weeks ago
The Software That Shapes Workers’ Lives | The New Yorker
A central challenge in supply-chain management is the vast distance—spatial, temporal, and informational—that separates the S.C.M. process from the real world of manufacturing and consumption. Among the distance-based problems planners worry about is the “bullwhip effect.” Suppose a store runs low on diapers. Observing this strong demand, a manager who normally needs fifty cases might put in an order for a hundred, just to be on the safe side. The diaper company, in turn, might order the production of two hundred cases, rather than a hundred, to insure that they have enough stock on hand. Just as a flick of the wrist creates waves which grow as they travel through a whip, so subtle signals sent by consumers can be amplified out of proportion as they travel through the supply chain. This inflation is dangerous for manufacturers—especially those that depend on the razor-thin inventory margins demanded by just-in-time planning—and yet it’s also hard to avoid, since the manufacturing process is so distributed in time and space, with many junctures at which forecasts might grow.
globalization  supply_chain_management  sap  consumerism 
6 weeks ago
A Global, Invisible Empire
Two things happen in the 1940s and after that help set the shape of power. One is a serious, worldwide revolt against empire by colonized peoples, both within and without the Greater United States, driving the cost of colonialism up. At the same time, the United States masters several new technologies that allow it to project power without holding large populated colonies, and those technologies drive the demand for colonialism down.

That doesn’t mean that the United States no longer needs any land: rather, it doesn’t need large swathes of land and can make do with small splotches. I describe it as the emergence of a “pointillist” empire: if you look at all of the US overseas territory today, if you were to mash it all together, you would have a land area that’s less than the size of Connecticut. That’s all the colonies and military bases that we know about.

Nevertheless, that’s hundreds of extremely important points that the United States controls around the Earth’s surface, so it’d be a mistake to round those down to zero and to not really understand how crucial they are to the exercise of US power today.
imperialism  ww2  colonialism 
6 weeks ago
Empire of Ignorance, Ignorance of Empire – Fellow Travelers
“COCOM” is short for Combatant Command, of which the United States maintains 10. Six of these are regional: NORTHCOM for North America, SOUTHCOM for Central and South America, AFRICOM for most of Africa, INDOPACOM for the Pacific and India, EUCOM for Europe, the Near East, and all of Russia, and CENTCOM, for a swath of land that runs from Egypt through Kazakhstan. Beyond the geographic areas of responsibility are commands for the sinews of modern warfare: Transportation Command, which controls parts in transit, Strategic Command, devoted to the nuclear force, Cyber Command, for how the internet spills into war, and Special Operations Command, coordinating special forces from across the military in their missions of regular irregular warfare.

A 2011 version of the COCOM map is titled “The World With Commanders’ Areas of Responsibility.” If colonial imperialism was about clarifying which imperial power formally controlled which swaths of territory, the net effect of pointillist imperialism is a map showing where and how the United States is able to act across the globe. Today, it is America’s hard power projection that tells the story of its unbounded territorial scope.
imperialism  historical_revisionism  brainfood  ww2 
6 weeks ago
Neoliberalism: not so bad? | Michael Roberts Blog
This story has been perpetuated by many mainstream economists.  But it does not hold water.  Yes, China opened up sectors of the economy to foreign investment and the market, particularly in agriculture.  But the bulk of investment and foreign trade was still controlled by the state and state corporations; and capital controls were in force.  The state was everywhere in the operation of the economy.  So was China’s success really a product of neoliberalism? 
china  poverty  globalization  neoliberalism  noah_smith  counterpoint  historical_revisionism 
6 weeks ago
The Obama Boys – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Let’s remember what the left critique of Obama’s administration is. Leftists argue, roughly, that while Obama came in with lofty promises of “hope” and “change,” the change was largely symbolic rather than substantive, and he failed to stand up for progressive values or fight for serious shifts in U.S. policy. He deported staggering numbers of immigrants, let Wall Street criminals off the hook, failed to take on (and now proudly boasts of his support for) the fossil fuel industry, sold over $100 billion in arms to the brutal Saudi government, killed American citizens with drones (and then made sickening jokes about it), killed lots more non-American citizens with drones (including Yemenis going to a wedding) and then misled the public about it, promised “the most transparent administration ever” and then was “worse than Nixon” in his paranoia about leakers, pushed a market-friendly healthcare plan based on conservative premises instead of aiming for single-payer, and showered Israel with both public support and military aid even as it systematically violated the human rights of Palestinians (Here, for example, is Haaretz: “Unlike [George W.] Bush, who gave Israel’s Iron Dome system a frosty response, Obama has led the way in funding and supporting the research, development and production of the Iron Dome”). Obama’s defenders responded to every single criticism by insisting that Obama had his hands tied by a Republican congress, but many of the things Obama did were freely chosen. In education policy, he hired charterization advocate Arne Duncan and pushed a horrible “dog-eat-dog” funding system called “Race To The Top.” Nobody forced him to hire Friedmanite economists like Larry Summers, or actual Republicans like Robert Gates, or to select middle-of-the-road judicial appointees like Elena Kagan and Merrick Garland. Who on Earth picks Rahm Emanuel, out of every person in the world, to be their chief of staff?
obama  immigration  ice  israel  politics  saudi_arabia 
6 weeks ago
Demographic demise | Michael Roberts Blog
There is one outstanding statistical feature of 21st century capitalism.  Capitalism is increasingly failing to develop what Marx called the “productive forces” (namely the technology and labour necessary to expand the output of things and services that human society needs or wants).  As measured by gross national product in all the economies of the world (or per person), world capitalism is finding it more and more difficult to expand.
capitalism  r_vs_g  productivity  financialization  globalization  michael_roberts 
6 weeks ago
The Making of the Fox News White House | The New Yorker
2018 is already shaping up to be a year when both Procter & Gamble and Unilever, two of the biggest CPG brands in the world, are demanding more out of their digital advertising by putting pressure on platforms and asking agencies to clean up their act.

As part of P&G’s recent work to reevaluate its marketing spend and weed out spend that is ineffective, the CPG giant said it cut $200 million in spend in 2017. Last year, P&G revealed during an earnings call that it cut between $100 million to $140 million between April and July due to bots and brand safety concerns. The measures then continued for the rest of 2017, with the brand cutting roughly another $100 million between July and December.

P&G’s $200 million digital cut were reinvested into areas with “media reach” including television, audio and ecommerce. During a speech at the Association of National Advertisers in Orlando, Fla. today, CMO Marc Pritchard declined to name specific companies where the ads were pulled from but said that it reduced spending “with several big players” by 20 percent to 50 percent. He added that the cuts helped P&G eliminate 20 percent of its ineffective marketing and increase reach by 10 percent.

Pritchard said that the brand’s year-old mandate asking for all partners to clean up shady and murky practices is working. More importantly, P&G has not pulled any media spend because of lingering concerns about the Media Rating Council’s third-party viewability metric, but they have pulled spend due to other issues like brand safety.

“This new level of transparency is shining the light on what’s next—marketers taking back control of our own destiny to accelerate mass disruption—transforming our industry from the wasteful mass marketing we’ve been mired in for nearly a century to mass one-to-one brand building fueled by data and digital technology,” Pritchard said in a transcript of prepared remarks.

Pritchard’s remarks come only two weeks after Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed made similar remarks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, Calif. Indeed it seems like CPG CMOs who control some of the world’s biggest budgets are the folks that the advertising industry has deemed important in putting pressure on platforms, ad-tech vendors and agencies.

Pritchard has been particularly vocal about transparency issues in the digital media supply chain, including viewability, fraud, a lack of measurement and murky contracts. Collectively, those efforts are 90 percent complete, Pritchard said.

Those efforts include asking so-called walled gardens like Facebook, Google and Snap to receive third-party measurement accreditation from the MRC, which is underway by the tech platforms but not complete.

In the meantime, Pritchard seems content with the platform’s content control tools. When a PR disaster around Tide Pods began brewing on digital platforms (where consumers eat the laundry detergent packets as if they were candy), Pritchard said he was impressed with YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat’s response.

“Within a matter of hours, [YouTube CEO] Susan [Wojcicki]’s team swept the entire YouTube platform clean of these dangerous videos and changed the algorithm to ensure Tide’s safety video reached anyone searching for this unsafe behavior,” Pritchard said in the transcript. “Within minutes of contacting them, Carolyn Everson’s Facebook team, and Imran Khan’s Snap team did exactly the same. This not only reflected the right attitude, it demonstrated that the work over the past year gave them better control over their platforms.”
fox_news  donald_trump  propaganda  sean_hannity  sarah_sanders  rupert_murdoch  television  telecom 
6 weeks ago
Source: Leaked Documents Show the U.S. Government Tracking Journalists and Immigration Advocates Through a Secret Database - NBC 7 San Diego
One photojournalist said she was pulled into secondary inspections three times and asked questions about who she saw and photographed in Tijuana shelters. Another photojournalist said she spent 13 hours detained by Mexican authorities when she tried to cross the border into Mexico City. Eventually, she was denied entry into Mexico and sent back to the U.S. 

These American photojournalists and attorneys said they suspected the U.S. government was monitoring them closely but until now, they couldn’t prove it. 

Now, documents leaked to NBC 7 Investigates show their fears weren’t baseless. In fact, their own government had listed their names in a secret database of targets, where agents collected information on them. Some had alerts placed on their passports, keeping at least three photojournalists and an attorney from entering Mexico to work. 
journalism  surveillance  homeland_security  immigration  mexico  watchlist 
6 weeks ago
Opioid crisis: Suicide, alcohol, drug deaths reach all-time high
The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since federal data collection started in 1999, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by two public health nonprofits.

The national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6 percent increase, the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday. That was a slower increase than in the previous two years, but it was greater than the 4 percent average annual increase since 1999.
suicide  deaths_of_despair  opioid_epidemic  alcohol  drugs  alienation 
7 weeks ago
How a Private Israeli Intelligence Firm Spied on Pro-Palestinian Activists in the U.S. | The New Yorker
Psy-Group’s intelligence and influence operations, which included a failed attempt in the summer of 2017 to sway a local election in central California, were detailed in a New Yorker investigation that I co-wrote earlier this month. Before it went out of business, last year, Psy-Group was part of a new wave of private-intelligence firms that recruited from the ranks of Israel’s secret services and described themselves as “private Mossads.” Psy-Group initially stood out among its rivals because it didn’t just gather intelligence; its operatives used false identities, or avatars, to covertly spread messages in an attempt to influence what people believed and how they behaved. In 2016, Psy-Group held discussions with the Trump campaign and others about conducting covert “influence” operations to benefit the candidate.
intelligence  espionage  israel  bds 
7 weeks ago
Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions - Futility Closet
In 1958 psychologist Robert Plutchik suggested that there are eight primary emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, trust, disgust, surprise, and anticipation. Each of the eight exists because it serves an adaptive role that gives it survival value — for example, fear inspires the fight-or-flight response.

He arranged them on a wheel to show their relationships, with similar emotions close together and opposites 180 degrees apart. Like colors, emotions can vary in intensity (joy might vary from serenity to ecstasy), and they can mix to form secondary emotions (submission is fear combined with trust, and awe is fear combined with surprise).
emotions  psychology  behavioral_economics  brainfood 
9 weeks ago
Snappy Responses to Israeli Hasbara – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Given just how frequently the arguments Stephens advances are trotted out, it’s worthwhile to try and dispel the most prominent ones.
israel  palestine  middle-east  bret_stephens 
9 weeks ago
An Open Letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates)
Real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981, by the World Bank. It is widely accepted among those who research global poverty that any data prior to 1981 is simply too sketchy to be useful, and going back to as early as 1820 is more or less meaningless.
steven_pinker  bill_gates  gates_foundation  poverty  charity  globalization  neoliberalism  optimism 
9 weeks ago
The Choice We Face – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain. Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it’s already economically aboveground – it’s figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It’s why they’ve worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada’s tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians. If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn’t pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today’s market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you’d be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren’t exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison.
bill_mckibben  climate-change  petroleum  energy  carbon_bubble 
10 weeks ago
MMT 2 – the tricks of circulation | Michael Roberts Blog
Money only has value ... if there is value in production to back it.  Government spending cannot create that value – indeed some government spending can destroy value (armaments etc).  Productive value is what gives money credibility. A productive private sector generates the domestic product and income that gives government liabilities credibility in the first place.  When that credibility is not there, then trust in the state’s currency can disappear fast, as we see in Venezuela or Zimbabwe, and even Turkey right now
marxism  michael_roberts  mmt  chartalism  modern_monetary_theory  fiat_currency  deficit_spending  government_spending  economics 
11 weeks ago
If Property Rights Were Real, Climate-Destroying Companies Would Be Sued Out Of Existence – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
But if those who claim to respect property rights actually took property rights seriously, carbon taxes shouldn’t even be a policy “choice.” Charging companies that emit climate-destroying gases for that destruction is not optional. Not to do it would be to admit that we do not actually care about property rights, we just care about protecting the property of particular favored parties. (Namely corporations.) You shouldn’t even need to pass a tax, because greenhouse gas emitters should be sued out of existence.
property_rights  environmentalism  climate-change  libertarianism  current_affairs 
11 weeks ago
Erik Olin Wright (1947–2019)
First, whereas mainstream theories see class as connected to income, Erik resurrected Marx’s view that it was a social relation premised on exploitation. Exploitation occurs when one group derives its livelihood from controlling the labor of another group. So it isn’t a person’s income that determines their class – it’s how they earn their income. Second, because class rests on the forcible extraction of labor, it is necessarily antagonistic. It requires the dominant class to undermine the wellbeing of the subordinate groups, which in turn tends to generate resistance from the latter. Third, this antagonism will, in certain conditions, take the form of organized conflict between the classes, or class struggle.

But this formulation created the central puzzle for all Marxist class theories: how do we account for the middle class?
class_warfare  middle-class  marxism  socialism101  erik_olin_wright 
12 weeks ago
Greg Grandin - US Coup Support in Venezuela
The US assault on Venezuela has two fronts, and the both started well before Trump.

1. The first had to do with oil. Chavez, it is to be recalled, didn't just *benefit* from high oil prices. He -- his foreign policy team -- worked to make those prices high, helping to restore OPEC's effectiveness, after its near collapse following the end of the Cold War. One can certainly criticize such an oil-dependent model of development: the idea that petroleum could be used as a tax on wealthy countries to finance development and distribution. But it did have deep, deep roots in NIEO thought. The US, in response to Chavez's success, boosted oil production, pushed biofuel (all those African palm plantations that are driving poor people off their land in the Aguan and Polochic valleys in Honduras and Guatemala) and sparked the fracking revolution, and worked to peel Mexico's PEMEX away. Oil prices began to collapse around the time of Chavez's death.

2. The second had to do with politics. As many of us pointed out, the 2009 Honduran coup was the first step -- the low-hanging fruit -- in an effort to roll back the new left, especially the Lula/Chavez alliance, which seemed at the time to have a chance at establishing a counter-hegemonic project to the US (that Lula/Chavez alliance had, in 2008, managed to put down a rightwing coup in Bolivia and stop a war between Ecuador and Colombia). After Honduras, then came Paraguay, another easy pick-up, along with a few key roll-back elections, and then the jewel in the crown: Brazil.
venezuela  hugo_chavez  south_america  imperialism  oil  petroleum  brazil  panama 
12 weeks ago
The Plight of the Political Convert | The New Yorker
The ex-Communist didn’t merely defect. He created the modern right, clearing a path for others, not just Communists and leftists, to follow. Twentieth-century conservatism is unthinkable without Chambers or Burnham or Irving Kristol, who, despite leaving the left, remained loyal to its imagination. They transmuted its energy into a movement that found traction in magazines like the National Review or journals like The Public Interest and, eventually, a home in the White House. The same goes for Frank Meyer, the ex-Communist intellectual who devised the Republican strategy of fusionism, which enabled free-market libertarians to ally with social traditionalists and statist Cold War warriors.

In this way, the right has often relied on the kindness of strangers.
libertarianism  history  whitaker_chambers  reagan  max_boot  communism  conservatives  corey_robin 
12 weeks ago
From Reform to Revolution
This is also why, as she argued in response to Bernstein, work for reforms should not be understood as “a drawn-out revolution, “and revolution should not be understood as “a condensed series of reforms.” As Luxemburg explained, historically, legal reform served the purpose of consolidating an emerging social class until the balance of political forces was such that the existing juridical system could be eventually dismantled in favor of a new one. This is precisely what the terms “reform” and “revolution” meant — they suggested a radical change in the content of fundamental legal dispositions rather than in the manner of their realization.
reform_vs_revolution  rosa_luxemburg  marxism  socialism101 
january 2019
The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates — ProPublica
For decades, the federal government has stockpiled massive stashes of medication, antidotes and vaccines in secure locations throughout the country. The drugs are worth tens of billions of dollars and would provide a first line of defense in case of a large-scale emergency.

Maintaining these stockpiles is expensive. The drugs have to be kept secure and at the proper humidity and temperature so they don’t degrade. Luckily, the country has rarely needed to tap into many of the drugs, but this means they often reach their expiration dates. Though the government requires pharmacies to throw away expired drugs, it doesn’t always follow these instructions itself. Instead, for more than 30 years, it has pulled some medicines and tested their quality.
pharma  fda  brainfood  prescription_drugs  healthcare 
january 2019
Portfolio Diversification, Market Power, and the Theory of the Firm by José Azar :: SSRN
The management of each firm proposes a strategic plan to shareholders, and is evaluated based on the strategic plan. This leads to internalization and aggregation of shareholder objectives, including holdings in other firms, and situations where consumers/workers are also shareholders. When all shareholders hold market portfolios, firms that are formally separate behave as a single firm.
central_planning  financialization  investor_capitalism 
january 2019
Socialize Finance
We know that there was no precapitalist world of production and exchange on which money and then credit were later superimposed: Networks of money claims are the substrate on which commodity production has grown and been organized. And we know that the social surplus under capitalism is not allocated by “markets,” despite the fairy tales of economists. Surplus is allocated by banks and other financial institutions, whose activities are coordinated by planners, not markets.

However decentralized in theory, market production is in fact organized through a highly centralized financial system. And where something like competitive markets do exist, it is usually thanks to extensive state management, from anti-trust laws to all the elaborate machinery set up by the ACA to prop up a rickety market for private health insurance. As both Marx and Keynes recognized, the tendency of capitalism is to develop more social, collective forms of production, enlarging the domain of conscious planning and diminishing the zone of the market.
central_planning  socialism  banking  financialization  finance  calculation_problem 
january 2019
Corporations Are Swimming in Cash
In determining how much cash can be returned to the owners of a company’s stock in a given year, free cash flow offers insights that other measures, like net income (the typical earnings reported by a company) cannot. Net income is easier for companies to game (for tax purposes, for example) because net income allows companies to spread out expenditures on capital investments over a multi-year period. Free cash flow is harder to fake, as it is simply the cash generated through operations in a given year minus the expenditures on capital — plants, property, and equipment — made in the same year.

The distribution of free cash flow in 2017, for non-financial companies in the S&P 500, shows that the vast majority, more than 87 percent, had cash left over after capital expenditures. The first quartile (the level at which one quarter of companies performed worse) free cash flow in 2017 was $338 million in 2017. The third quartile free cash flow in 2017 was $1.8 billion.
corporations  profitability  cash_flow  income_inequality  wealth  one_percent 
january 2019
On Law Professors As Presidents – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
One of the most serious problems in contemporary liberalism is its failure to understand how power is built. It is, as my colleague Luke Savage has put it, a “West Wing” mentality in which one simply needs to get the Good Smart People into office, who will then make better policies. I have a certain worry that even a good law professor, e.g., Warren, would have the same kind of mentality: better, leftier policies, but without actually traveling the country helping leftists at the state and local level build power. The president needs to not just be a policy-maker, but an organizer
lawyers  obama  elizabeth_sanders  politics  power  organizing 
january 2019
What Is The Left? – Sophia Burns – Medium
If you want a revolution, none of these will get you there. The Progressive Activist subculture is not and never will be for the dispossessed. Its professional-managerial class composition and demographics aren’t statistical accidents. They’re inherent features. Having nominally leftist ideas doesn’t give Progressive Activists any revolutionary potential. Revolution comes when the dispossessed are organized, able to exercise power directly, consciously opposed to the ruling class, and positioned to take advantage of the liberal order’s periodic crises of functionality and legitimacy. That means mass organizations with communist leadership actively destabilizing the liberal order to provoke a crisis
activism  dsa  progressivism  socialism  revolutions 
january 2019
Hidden Tribes
The 7 "tendencies" of American political thought, from Progressive Activists to the exhausted majority to the hardcore conservatives on the right wing. Progressive Activists tend to be whiter and more educated than other segments.
demographics  socialism  progressivism  hidden_tribes 
january 2019
Three Fight Scenes | The Walking Mind
The idea is simple: since the centerpiece of the game is cool fight scenes, you start planning a scenario by picking three different places which would make for great fight scenes. This step is very simple, but only if you really buy into it. The trick is to think like a movie director, look at a location and think “What kind of awesome things could someone do if they were fighting a hundred zombie ninjas in here?”[2] Are there chandeliers to swing from? Escalators to run the wrong direction on? Giant pieces of machinery to crash and blow up? Huge windows to smash?[3] If you could answer that to your satisfaction with three locations you were pretty much good to go, because at that point, all you needed was to come up with a reason to get the characters to all three locations.

“But wait,” you say, “you say that like it’s simple, but that’s the hard part!”

But the trick is this: it’s really not.
game_design  gaming  rpg  feng_shui  robin_laws  storytelling  story_structure 
january 2019
People Who “Pretend” To Be Shitty Are Frequently Just Shitty | Current Affairs
But this kind of humor is adolescent for another reason, too: because it’s concerned ultimately with coolness, superiority, which is found in other, more marginalized people’s discomfort and humiliation. There’s another word for this: sociopathy. What it comes down to is a sense of permanent disengagement: There is a difference between myself and the world; I am better than the world; my self-expression matters more than others and shouldn’t face social consequences. I am furious and offended, but I have a right to my feelings; anyone who is offended by me is an over-sensitive, earnest, tryhardy loser. I am unaffected by the pain of others. I am separate from it.

Separateness is always an act, a self-delusion.
humor  louis_ck  edgelords  sexual_politics  current_affairs 
january 2019
Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism
Mike Davis’s book Late Victorian Holocausts complicates that story significantly. Capitalism has an enormous death toll of its own. If famines are the yardstick we’re using to measure the suitability of a global economic system, then capitalists have a lot to answer for.

Jacobin’s Meagan Day talked with Davis about how the historical crimes of capitalism differ from those of socialism, and how to talk about the differences between them in an era of ever-more savage capitalism — as well as new openings for the socialist left.
mike_davis  socialism101  historical_revisionism  famine  india  china  colonialism  genocide  counterpoint 
december 2018
What Happened after India Eliminated Cash
Two years ago, the Indian government abruptly wiped out most of the nation’s currency in hopes of ending black money and curbing corruption. Has the experiment worked? [SPOILER ALERT: no]
india  currency  modi  corruption  banking  counterfeiting 
december 2018
The Digital Maginot Line
The Information World War has already been going on for several years. We called the opening skirmishes “media manipulation” and “hoaxes”, assuming that we were dealing with ideological pranksters doing it for the lulz (and that lulz were harmless).

In reality, the combatants are professional, state-employed cyberwarriors and seasoned amateur guerrillas pursuing very well-defined objectives with military precision and specialized tools. Each type of combatant brings a different mental model to the conflict, but uses the same set of tools.
cyberwarfare  social_media  venkatesh_rao  hacking  russia  bots 
december 2018
Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense Keywords | Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
In order for a title to appear in the Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense sub-categories below, the title's search keywords must include at least one of the keywords or phrases listed next to the sub-category.
indie-publishing  amazon  kindle  marketing 
november 2018
Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats
The kind of academic macroeconomic theory Krugman and Eggertsson were deploying is a strange beast indeed. The heart of it is the idea that the economy can be thought of as a single infinitely-lived individual calculating the trade-off between leisure and consumption over all future time. For an orthodox macroeconomist — anyone who hoped to be hired at a research university in the past thirty years — this approach isn’t just one tool among others. It is macroeconomics. Every question has to be expressed as finding the utility-maximizing path of consumption and production over all eternity, under a precisely defined set of constraints. Otherwise it doesn’t scan.

It might seem like an odd default, given the obvious fact that real economies contain households, businesses, governments, and other distinct entities, none of which can turn income in the far distant future into spending today. But it has the advantage of fitting real-life macroeconomic problems — which at face value would seem to involve uncertainty, conflicting interests, coordination failures — into the scarce-means-and-competing-ends, Robinson Crusoe-type vision that has long been economics’ home ground.
economics  macroeconomics  jacobin  krugman_you_moron  credit_crisis  interest_rates 
november 2018
The Alternative to Traditional Banking You’ve Never Heard Of - In These Times
Njangi, consorcio and sousou are all words used to describe a “rotating savings and credit association,” shortened to the acronym ROSCA in English. In Peru, it’s called a junta or pandero. In Egypt, gameya. There are more than 200 words used around the globe. Often people know it by their native word, so if you ask them if they participate in a ROSCA, the answer is an emphatic no. If you explain what a ROSCA is, you might get an enthusiastic yes. It’s the most popular financial system you’ve probably never heard of.

Used for centuries in the non-Western world, a ROSCA works like this: A group of, say, 10 people (but it can be anywhere from a few to more than a hundred) decide they can each afford to save, say, $100 a month. So every month, the group collects $1,000. Each month, a different person in the group receives the full amount, until everyone has received it once. The circle is then complete and the group can decide if they want to renew, expand or shrink the circle, or change the amount contributed.
banking  shadow_economy  rosca  inthesetimes 
november 2018
“Cops Are at War Out There”
This demand for complete obedience has real-world consequences. A 2011 investigation of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) found “a pattern or practice of using excessive force against individuals who express discontent with, or ‘talk back to,’ police.” A review of obstruction arrests — known as “contempt of cop” arrests — revealed the target of these police confrontations. In a city where black people make up 7.9 percent of the population, 51 percent of obstruction arrests were of black residents.
police_brutality  police  racism 
november 2018
The Economics of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations on JSTOR
Alternative forms of saving that have sprung up or been carried over to many cultures around the world, from South America to West and Central Africa
banking  shadow_economy  rosca 
november 2018
TSR Fonts
A complete collection of fonts used in Dungeons & Dragons, from its earliest iterations to the present day.
design  fonts  desktop_publishing  gaming  rpg 
november 2018
The Easiest Way to Become a Book Reviewer | BookSirens
Filters active reviewers by genre and other criteria. Very easy interface!
indie-publishing  marketing  writing 
november 2018
What Really Happens After the Apocalypse | Tor.com
The myth that panic, looting, and antisocial behavior increases during the apocalypse (or apocalyptic-like scenarios) is in fact a myth—and has been solidly disproved by multiple scientific studies. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, a research group within the United States Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), has produced research that shows over and over again that “disaster victims are assisted first by others in the immediate vicinity and surrounding area and only later by official public safety personnel […] The spontaneous provision of assistance is facilitated by the fact that when crises occur, they take place in the context of ongoing community life and daily routines—that is, they affect not isolated individuals but rather people who are embedded in networks of social relationships.”
apocalypse  post_apocalypse  disaster_capitalism  environmentalism  futurism  anarchism 
november 2018
Amazon's New Headquarters Will Be In New York City And Arlington, Virginia
"Local governments jumped at the chance to get the $5 billion in investments and 50,000 jobs Amazon promised would come with HQ2. Tucson, Arizona sent the company cactuses. Gary, Indiana paid for an ad in the New York Times that addressed Amazon and referenced the city's "resilient, eager to work" people. Maryland approved $5 billion in tax incentives for Amazon if it were to choose the state as its next headquarters (a legislative analysis of the proposal estimated the final tally may have come to $8 billion). New Jersey offered an incentive package valued at $7 billion. And Chicago promised Amazon its employees would be allowed to keep $1.3 billion worth of income taxes if it were chosen as the location."
amazon  tax_breaks  job_creation  new_york_city 
november 2018
Ironies of Luck · Collaborative Fund
This is the irony of investing: Risk and luck are different sides of the same coin, but we treat one as critically important, and the other like it doesn’t exist – at least for you, when you succeed. This is partly about ego, but even more about the desire to identify patterns of what works, relishing the thought of repeating those actions to win again in the future. We love narratives that explain things, and the most comfortable narrative is, “I’m good at this and will continue to be good at it.”
luck  risk  work_ethic  investing 
november 2018
Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It's a Set of Actions to Fight | Literary Hub
The public discussion prompted by the (dis)invitation confirmed to me that only those safe from fascism and its practices are far more likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives—and it does so because it openly aims so.
fascism  antifa  deplatforming  steve_bannon  croatia 
november 2018
This Is How We Radicalized The World
A timeline of how social media has accelerated far-right politics in the last 8 years.
social_media  fascism  brazil  india  donald_trump  russia 
october 2018
Rents Rise Faster for Midtier Apartments Than Luxury Ones - WSJ
The difference in costs between installing granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances is so slight compared to buying land and installing elevators that economists say developing a luxury apartment and a midtier one comes out roughly the same. Historically, developers could save some money by building low-rise buildings in suburban locations, but even those are becoming increasingly difficult to build as even suburban officials push developers to develop midrise buildings in central locations and reduce sprawl.
housing  housing-bubble  rent-control  urbanism 
october 2018
Degrowth: A Call for Radical Abundance — Jason Hickel
It’s okay, because we know that human beings can thrive without extremely high levels of GDP.

There are many pieces to this argument, but I want to focus on one here in particular.  One of the core claims of degrowth economics is that by restoring public services and expanding the commons, people will be able to access the goods that they need to live well without needing high levels of income.
environmentalism  degrowth  investor_capitalism  historical_revisionism  capitalism  england 
october 2018
The Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Kids – Richard Freed – Medium
Persuasive technologies are reshaping childhood, luring kids away from family and schoolwork to spend more and more of their lives sitting before screens and phones. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, younger U.S. children now spend 5 ½ hours each day with entertainment technologies, including video games, social media, and online videos. Even more, the average teen now spends an incredible 8 hours each day playing with screens and phones. Productive uses of technology — where persuasive design is much less a factor — are almost an afterthought, as U.S. kids only spend 16 minutes each day using the computer at home for school.
social_media  smartphones  panopticon  ad-tech  silicon_valley  adolescence  parenting 
october 2018
Marines Get Beaten By Coast Guard And 75th Rangers In Sniper Competition
Over the past week, the 2018 International Sniper Competition has played out at Fort Benning, Georgia, with 30 teams going head-to-head from U.S. and international militaries, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

And for the second year in row, snipers from the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment came out on top, while the Corps’ finest got rocked by the service branch most would derisively label “puddle pirates.”
brainfood  military  snipers  rangers  marine_corps  coast_guard 
october 2018
INDEPENDENCE | Gin and Tacos
The CCES data here demonstrate pretty clearly a point I'm often trying to make, which is: Don't "independents" in this data look an awful lot like Republicans? Like, suspiciously so? Almost like Independents are really Republicans who don't want to, for whatever reason, think of or announce themselves as Republicans?

The rise of Independent identification in survey data – and it has risen sharply in recent years – is the worst thing ever to happen to political consultants. They see the word "independent" and believe that it signifies a large mass of undecided voters just waiting to be hit with the right message to sway them. For some independents that may be so; various estimates in research suggest that maybe 1 in 10 voters falls into this category and genuinely does not make up their minds until late in an election. For the majority, though, there is no meaningful independence. It's just a label.

Chuck Schumer famously said in 2016, “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” That election helped demonstrate the flaws not only in targeting opposing partisans (hint: moderate Republican is still Republican. It says Republican right in the name) but in assuming that Independents are Independent. Generally they aren't. This is well understood.
demographics  conservatives  voting  independents  libertarianism  polling 
october 2018
Why Public Service Loan Forgiveness Is So Unforgiving : NPR
Today, the U.S. Department of Education is, essentially, a trillion-dollar bank, serving more than 40 million student borrowers. While the government writes these student loans, it simply cannot run the call centers or handle the paperwork for so many borrowers. It needs help. So it pays companies — the department has contracts with nine of them — to handle customer service. These servicers, as they're known, are glorified record-keepers and debt collectors. But they're also powerful gatekeepers.
student_loans  bureaucracy 
october 2018
Communism Might Last a Million Years • Commune
Traditional Marxists, Postone argues, misidentified the violence of capitalism with a flawed and unequal system of distribution, failing to develop an adequate critique of production. The problem for traditional Marxists was not, in other words, how capitalism generated wealth but how it spread it around. In the USSR and elsewhere, this error meant that revolutionaries attempted to retain the industrial factory but abolish the market, private property, and profit, replacing those unequal mechanisms of distribution with egalitarian central planning. The project failed, but even if it had succeeded, Postone claims, it would have been woefully inadequate.
communism  marxism  marx  counterpoint  economics  anarchism  anarchism-v-marxism 
october 2018
The bad behavior of the richest: what I learned from wealth managers | US news | The Guardian
Many even present themselves as homeless – for tax purposes – despite owning multiple residences. For the ultra-rich, having no fixed residence provides major legal and financial advantages; this is exemplified by the case of the wealthy businessman who acquired eight different nationalities in order to avoid taxes on his fortune, and by the UK native I interviewed in his Dubai apartment building:

“I am not tax resident anywhere. The tax man says ‘show me a utility bill’, and the only utility bill I can present is for the house I own in Thailand, and it’s in a language that the European authorities aren’t familiar with. With all the mobility going on in the world, international marriages, governments can’t keep up with people.”

Meanwhile, the poor can end up being “resident nowhere” because no one will allow them to stay in one place for very long
one_percent  wealth  poverty  tax_evasion 
october 2018
One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict
What the map shows is that, due to a peculiar correlation of religious history and anaerobic decomposition of plankton, almost all the Persian Gulf’s fossil fuels are located underneath Shiites. This is true even in Sunni Saudi Arabia, where the major oil fields are in the Eastern Province, which has a majority Shiite population.

As a result, one of the Saudi royal family’s deepest fears is that one day Saudi Shiites will secede, with their oil, and ally with Shiite Iran.

This fear has only grown since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq overturned Saddam Hussein’s minority Sunni regime, and empowered the pro-Iranian Shiite majority.
oil  petroleum  saudi_arabia  iran  islam  jon_schwarz 
october 2018
How vulture capitalists ate Sears
If you track the long-term course of Sears' revenue and stock price, the problems didn't just set in with the arrival of Walmart and the big-box stores, or with Amazon and the rise of the internet economy. Instead, the tailspin really started with the arrival of a guy named Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments.

Lampert had already bought Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2003. And in 2004 and 2005, he engineered Kmart's purchase of and merger with Sears, creating the third-largest retailer in the country at the time. Lampert became chairman of the combined company's board. In 2013, Lampert became Sears' CEO.

Lampert slashed capital investments to try and create a more efficient company. He retooled Sears' structure, so that almost three dozen different business departments — like shoes, home furnishings, or menswear — were each siloed, with their own management team and even their own board. It was a model taken from the hedge fund world, meant to encourage healthy competition inside the company and thus power a better overall business.
investor_capitalism  hedge_funds  sears  retail 
october 2018
Boys to Men | Brendan O’Connor
New York Republicans, meanwhile, are doubling down on their decision to welcome McInnes into the fold.“We want to foster civil discussion, but never endorse violence,” Metropolitan Club officials said in a statement on Sunday night. “Gavin’s talk on Friday night, while at times was politically incorrect and a bit edgy, was certainly not inciting violence.” It bears repeating: McInnes was invited to the state party’s headquarters in New York City to celebrate the televised murder of an ideological enemy.
alt-right  gavin_mcinnes  fascism  proud_boys  conservatives 
october 2018
Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction - The Atlantic
Erwin’s other point, that the magnitude of the Big Five mass extinctions in earth’s past dwarfs humanity’s destruction thus far, is a subtle one. He’s not trying to downplay the tremendous destruction wrought by humans, but reminding us that claims about mass extinctions are inevitably claims about paleontology and the fossil record.

“So there are estimates of what the standing crop of passenger pigeons was in the 19th century,” said Erwin. “It’s like 5 billion. They would black out the sky.”

Passenger pigeons all but serve as the mascot of the “sixth mass extinction,” their extirpation an ecological tragedy on a massive scale, and proof that humans are a geologically destructive force to be reckoned with.

“So then you ask: in a non-archaeological context, how many fossil passenger pigeons are there? How many records are there of fossil passenger pigeons?”

“Not many?” I offered.
 “Two,” he said.
“So here’s an incredibly abundant bird that we wiped out. But if you look in the fossil record, you wouldn’t even know that they were there.”
environmentalism  extinction-level-event  climate-change  counterpoint 
october 2018
Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 - The Washington Post
A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.
environmentalism  climate-change 
september 2018
How BlackRock Rules the World
The opportunity was indeed huge, if you happened to be BlackRock. The firm benefited from the controversial opening of PEMEX, the state-run oil monopoly, to private investment. Within seven months, BlackRock had secured $1 billion in PEMEX energy projects. In June 2015, BlackRock acquired a scandal-ridden Mexican private equity firm called I Cuadrada for $71 million. A month later, Sierra Oil and Gas, a year-old portfolio company of I Cuadrada that had never drilled an oil well, won two major exploration contracts from PEMEX. Sierra was the only bidder.

In another suspicious deal, a contractor named Grupo Tradeco continually missed deadlines for building a private prison in Coahuila state, with accusations of 2.5 billion pesos in waste. But right before BlackRock bought the project, Peña Nieto increased the construction payments for the prison by 18 percent. A third deal involved BlackRock purchasing a contract to build a toll road between Toluca and Naucalpan. A month later, Peña Nieto signed an executive order to resolve a legal dispute over siting the road through what indigenous groups consider sacred land, expropriating 91 acres for the project.
blackrock  investor_capitalism  one_percent  brainfood  infrastructure  mexico  r_vs_g 
september 2018
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