Surprise! Surprise! Resistance in Kashmir

Kashmir

The Reuters story is about one neighborhood.[1] There’s no word on to what degree such resistance might also be occurring elsewhere in Kashmir or on what shape other forms of resistance might be taking.

That Indian forces haven’t already crushed this resistance suggests to me 1) that India fears bad publicity, either internationally or domestically as its dubious claims of Kashmiri backing for its moves are unmasked, or 2) that the army is stretched thin, in part because of the face off with Pakistan at the Line of Control and in part because of resistance in other locations, or 3) some combination of more than one of these factors. But I just don’t know.

Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari, “Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-hotbed-insight/besieged-kashmiri-neighborhood-in-test-of-wills-with-indias-modi-idUSKCN1V921T


Pacific Gas and Electric

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) had been cleared by the State of California of blame for the Tubbs fire that burned through large parts of Santa Rosa in 2017,[2] but a bankruptcy judge is allowing suits to proceed against the company,[3] which surely has far deeper pockets than the homeowner whose private equipment the state blames.[4]

PG&E stock and bonds “plunged” in response,[5] but it had “soared, closing up 75 percent on Thursday [January 24] at $13.95,” following the state’s decision.[6] “The stock ended the day [August 19] at $10.67, a drop of 25.3%.”[7] I’ll leave the arithmetic here to others but it sounds to me like investors should, in aggregate, still be ahead on the deal.

I’m no fan of PG&E and I couldn’t care less about its investors—they accepted a risk with their investments and if they don’t like that risk, they shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. But presumably, the state’s conclusion will weigh heavily against the plaintiffs.

Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling


Brexit

Boris Johnson’s latest demand that the European Union drop the Irish backstop was just more of the same old bullshit and the E.U. is responding accordingly.[8]

France24, “EU rejects Johnson’s demand to scrap Irish backstop,” August 20, 2019, https://www.france24.com/en/20190820-eu-rejects-johnson-s-demand-to-scrap-irish-backstop

Rebecca Staudenmaier, “Brexit: UK to end EU freedom of movement immediately in no-deal scenario,” Deutschewelle, August 20, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/brexit-uk-to-end-eu-freedom-of-movement-immediately-in-no-deal-scenario/a-50090564


Donald Trump

George Monbiot blamed Donald Trump’s election on the absence of a competing narrative to neoliberalism.[9] I still don’t really see that narrative. Even ideas such as the “green new deal” need to be fleshed out—and it seems like to the extent that they are, they lose credibility—it seems unlikely they could ever actually be enacted.

Monbiot’s point stands, even if it is an incomplete explanation. For a lot of people, including me, whom the neoliberal party (the so-called Democratic Party) ignores at its peril, neoliberalism is as evil and as fascist as Trump.


Guns

Just in case you thought this time might be different.

Jack Crowe, “Trump Assures NRA President That Universal Background Check Bill Is off the Table: Report,” National Review, August 20, 2019, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/trump-assures-nra-president-universal-background-check-bill-off-the-table/

Elaina Plott, “Trump’s Phone Calls With Wayne LaPierre Reveal NRA’s Influence,” Atlantic, August 20, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/trump-background-checks-nra/596413/


Climate change

The news on climate change keeps turning out to be worse than the predictions we had only just previously heard. Now we’re starting to see why. It’s phrased differently from how I have phrased it and in more detail, but the upshot is similar: scientists feel pressure not to appear to be exaggerating their findings.[10]

Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, and Dale Jamieson, “Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change,” Scientific American, August 19, 2019, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/


  1. [1]Zeba Siddiqui and Fayaz Bukhari, “Besieged Kashmiri neighborhood in test of wills with India’s Modi,” Reuters, August 19, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-hotbed-insight/besieged-kashmiri-neighborhood-in-test-of-wills-with-indias-modi-idUSKCN1V921T
  2. [2]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  3. [3]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  4. [4]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  5. [5]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  6. [6]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html
  7. [7]Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling
  8. [8]France24, “EU rejects Johnson’s demand to scrap Irish backstop,” August 20, 2019, https://www.france24.com/en/20190820-eu-rejects-johnson-s-demand-to-scrap-irish-backstop
  9. [9]George Monbiot, “The Deep History Behind Trump’s Rise,” November 15, 2016, https://www.monbiot.com/2016/11/15/the-deep-history-behind-trumps-rise/
  10. [10]Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, and Dale Jamieson, “Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change,” Scientific American, August 19, 2019, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/

Lunarchy?

The word I’m looking for, like anarchy is supposed to be “without a chief”[1] or oligarchy is supposed to be “a small group of people having control of a country or organization,”[2] is a word for rule by lunatics, as “extremely foolish or eccentric [people].”[3] Alas, a Google search on the term lunarchy turns up a project of the “Radical Anthropology Group,” which advocates “[r]ule by the moon hark[ing] back to an egalitarian lifestyle forged in a revolution.”[4] Not the same idea at all, and in fact, rather specifically, a worthy refutation to the word I would propose.


Well, not quite. There’s also Brexit and Kashmir. Israel doesn’t count as an exception because Binyamin Netanyahu is in love with Donald Trump.[5] But yeah, almost.


Brexit

I think I should have seen this one coming.

The parliament that cannot agree on anything Brexit[6] seems not to be coming together under Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a unity government,[7] whether with Corbyn on top or anybody else, or even, it would seem, on the question of what a unity government should do when (and if) it assumes power.[8] Words fail me. I’m utterly flabbergasted.

Meanwhile, calamity[9] looms as the legal default.[10]

Jessica Elgot, “No-deal Brexit edges closer as key Tories refuse to back Corbyn,” Guardian, August 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/16/sadiq-khan-lib-dems-jo-swinson-corbyn-only-viable-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit


Elon Musk

I heard that Elon Musk wanted to nuke Mars but not in any media I deemed even remotely reliable.

So now, here it is. Musk has gone off the deep end. He’s completely bonkers. Right up there with Donald Trump.[11] But then, I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.[12] That Tesla turnover rate is kinda high, too,[13] albeit not as high as in Trump’s White House executive office.[14]

There’s a reason you need to get enough sleep at night.[15]

Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/


Pittsburgh

So this was Donald Trump’s trip to a Shell plant in Beaver County,[16] where he took credit for a plant being constructed that had been approved well before he took office.[17] Apparently he got a large crowd. And apparently workers who didn’t show up might lose $700 for the day’s pay. Also, they didn’t get a lunch break. And apparently the union leadership was okay with all this.[18]

Anya Litvak, “Trump’s large union crowd at Shell was given the option of not showing up — and not getting paid,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 16, 2019, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2019/08/16/Trump-speech-union-crowd-Shell-ethane-plant-natural-gas-beaver-county-pennsylvania-attendance-pay-overtime/stories/201908160113


Social conservatives

Evangelical Protestants who support Donald Trump are not the whole of evangelical Protestantism. Those who do often do so because he is carving out a space for them to live according to their faith and because he is getting results where previous presidents who professed their flavor of piety failed to deliver.[19] This is pretty much consistent with what I’ve seen previously.[20] It’s unlikely to change in 2020 and because evangelical Protestants are pleased with what Trump has delivered, his support among social conservatives may in fact increase.[21]

There is a real problem in that enabling evangelical Protestants to live—and proselytize—according to their beliefs is fundamentally incompatible with a secular society.[22] In essence, they demand that society conform to their beliefs and be receptive to their message, even when their beliefs contradict other beliefs and even when their messages contradict other messages. The result is, inevitably, the hierarchically invidious monistic “us” versus “them” perspective that Trump exploits and enables[23] in a fascist feedback.[24]

Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/


Kashmir

I disagree with Chidanand Rajghatta’s analysis. It’s not, as Rajghatta suggests, that the United Nations Security Council agree to discuss Kashmir at all, albeit behind closed doors and informally, or that China and Pakistan are isolated in pushing for a formal meeting,[25] but rather that the rest of the world doesn’t care about Kashmir.

Which is very bad news for Muslims in Kashmir.

Chidanand Rajghatta, “Did India take down Pakistan 14-1 at United Nations Security Council?” Times of India, August 17, 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/did-india-take-down-pakistan-14-1-at-united-nations-security-council/articleshow/70717268.cms


  1. [1]Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd ed., s.v. “anarchy.”
  2. [2]Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd ed., s.v. “oligarchy.”
  3. [3]Oxford Dictionary of English, 3rd ed., s.v. “lunatic.”
  4. [4]Radical Anthropology Group, “Lunarchy,” n.d., http://lunarchy.weebly.com/
  5. [5]Raphael Ahren, “Spurning lawmakers, Netanyahu loses the Democrats he never thought he had,” Times of Israel, August 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-never-thought-he-had-the-support-of-democrats-now-he-might-not/
  6. [6]Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot, and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: May calls for cabinet showdown as MPs reject all options,” Guardian, April 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/01/brexit-deadlock-continues-as-mps-fail-to-find-compromise
  7. [7]Al Jazeera, “UK’s Labour vows to oust Johnson, delay Brexit and call election,” August 14, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/uk-labour-vows-oust-johnson-delay-brexit-call-election-190814163557439.html; Camilla Tominey, “Jeremy Corbyn writes to MPs in bid to oust Boris Johnson over Brexit,” Telegraph, August 14, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/08/14/jeremy-corbyn-writes-mps-say-make-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit-cross/
  8. [8]Jessica Elgot, “No-deal Brexit edges closer as key Tories refuse to back Corbyn,” Guardian, August 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/16/sadiq-khan-lib-dems-jo-swinson-corbyn-only-viable-pm-stop-no-deal-brexit
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/
  10. [10]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  11. [11]Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/
  12. [12]Alistair Walsh, “Elon Musk won’t stop calling diver a pedophile,” Deutschewelle, September 5, 2018, https://www.dw.com/en/elon-musk-wont-stop-calling-diver-a-pedophile/a-45372611
  13. [13]Russ Mitchell, “If Elon Musk is your boss, get your resume ready,” Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-08-15/elon-musk-tesla-executive-turnover
  14. [14]Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, “Tracking turnover in the Trump administration,” Brookings, August 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/research/tracking-turnover-in-the-trump-administration/
  15. [15]Nathan Crooks, “Elon Musk Says You Can Change the World Working 80 Hours a Week,” Bloomberg, November 26, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-26/elon-musk-says-you-can-change-the-world-working-80-hours-a-week
  16. [16]Eric Heyl, “Trump To Tour Shell Cracker Plant, Protesters Anticipated,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt595/trump-to-tour-shell-cracker-plant-protesters-anticipated
  17. [17]Eric Heyl, “Trump Takes Credit For Plant Announced 5 Years Before Presidency,” Patch, August 13, 2019, https://patch.com/pennsylvania/baldwin-whitehall/s/gt5wi/trump-takes-credit-for-plant-announced-5-years-before-presidency
  18. [18]Anya Litvak, “Trump’s large union crowd at Shell was given the option of not showing up — and not getting paid,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 16, 2019, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2019/08/16/Trump-speech-union-crowd-Shell-ethane-plant-natural-gas-beaver-county-pennsylvania-attendance-pay-overtime/stories/201908160113
  19. [19]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/
  20. [20]Rod Dreher, “An Evangelical Crack-Up?” American Conservative, December 15, 2017, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/an-evangelical-crack-up/; Mark Galli, “The Biggest Loser in the Alabama Election,” Christianity Today, December 12, 2017, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/december-web-only/roy-moore-doug-jones-alabama-editorial.htm; Sarah Jones, “What Roy Moore Did to the Pro-Life Movement,” New Republic, December 13, 2017, https://newrepublic.com/article/146274/roy-moore-pro-life-movement; Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Baile, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html
  21. [21]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/
  22. [22]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/; Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Baile, “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” Washington Post, December 14, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/after-trump-and-moore-some-evangelicals-are-finding-their-own-label-too-toxic-to-use/2017/12/14/b034034c-e020-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html
  23. [23]Elizabeth Bruenig, “In God’s country,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/14/evangelicals-view-trump-their-protector-will-they-stand-by-him/
  24. [24]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/
  25. [25]Chidanand Rajghatta, “Did India take down Pakistan 14-1 at United Nations Security Council?” Times of India, August 17, 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/did-india-take-down-pakistan-14-1-at-united-nations-security-council/articleshow/70717268.cms

How the hell?

Kashmir

I don’t doubt the seriousness of the situation in Kashmir,[1] but there are some seriously unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal’s report.[2]

Allegedly, “[s]ecurity personnel in the area said they had orders to make sure no one left their homes unless it was a medical emergency” and allegedly there is a near-total communications and Internet blackout.[3] So how does anyone visit anyone to conduct interviews? How are people not starving in their houses? What about utility services? This makes no sense.

Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945


Criminal injustice

Jarryd Bartle, “We know that prison doesn’t work. So what are the alternatives?” Guardian, August 16, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/16/we-know-that-prison-doesnt-work-so-what-are-the-alternatives


Recession

The Trump administration is treating the possibility or probability of a recession as a psychological problem,[4] which it is,[5] but as if there were no actual causes to to worry about, which there are.[6] Utterly in denial, the Trump administration is failing to respond to the risk, instead blaming the news media and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.[7] None of this will help Trump’s re-election prospects if there is indeed a downturn.[8] Nor will it help us.[9]

Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073

Catherine Rampell, “Trump has a dream team for mismanaging a recession,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-a-dream-team-for-mismanaging-a-recession/2019/08/15/0254451c-bf98-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html


Jeffrey Epstein

There is a new blog post entitled, “What the hell is going on with the prison video from around the time of Jeffrey Epstein’s death?” This originally got published in the wrong place. That error has now been rectified.

The coroner has ruled Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide by hanging. Epstein’s lawyers aren’t satisfied and I think they’re right to demand the video evidence[10] that seems to have gone missing.[11]

Evan Perez and Mark Morales, “Basic facts about Epstein’s suicide elude investigators 5 days later,” CNN, August 15, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/15/politics/jeffrey-epstein-prison-suicide-questions/index.html

Devlin Barrett, “Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy concludes his death was a suicide by hanging,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epsteins-autopsy-concludes-his-death-was-a-suicide-by-hanging/2019/08/16/bb670d58-c053-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html


Israel

It has certainly been reasonable to accuse U.S. politicians of putting support for Israel, presumably to attract favor from Jewish voters, above the interests of the country.[12] Now Binyamin Netanyahu, whose government has apparently repudiated a two-state solution,[13] is accused of putting allegiance to Donald Trump ahead of Israeli interests.[14]

Raphael Ahren, “Spurning lawmakers, Netanyahu loses the Democrats he never thought he had,” Times of Israel, August 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-never-thought-he-had-the-support-of-democrats-now-he-might-not/


Migration

Brent Kendall and Louise Radnofsky, “Appeals Court Narrows Injunction Barring Trump Asylum Restrictions,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/appeals-court-narrows-injunction-barring-trump-asylum-restrictions-11565972193


Greenland

main_1500
Not for sale.[15] Undated photograph by Felipe Dana, Associated Press, via the Atlantic.

Alexandra Petri, “The Emperor’s New Island, a tale of Trump buying Greenland,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/16/emperors-new-island-tale-trump-buying-greenland/

Vivian Salama et al., “President Trump Eyes a New Real-Estate Purchase: Greenland,” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-eyes-a-new-real-estate-purchase-greenland-11565904223

Vivian Salama and Andrew Restuccia, “Greenland Tells Trump: ‘We’re Open for Business, Not for Sale,’” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/greenland-tells-trump-were-open-for-business-not-for-sale-11565960064


  1. [1]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  2. [2]Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945
  3. [3]Niharika Mandhana, “Kashmir Seethes Under Indian Security Clampdown,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/kashmir-seethes-under-indian-security-clampdown-11565899945
  4. [4]Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  5. [5]David Benfell, “As a possible or probable recession looms, neoliberalism evades challenge. Yet again,” Not Housebroken, August 14, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/14/as-a-possible-or-probable-recession-looms-neoliberalism-evades-challenge-yet-again/
  6. [6]Jon Hilsenrath, “After Record-Long Expansion, Here’s What Could Knock the Economy Off Course,” Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-record-long-expansion-heres-what-could-knock-the-economy-off-course-11559591043; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF; Colin Kruger, “‘Insane levels’: Can a world where profitless companies are flying last?” Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/insane-levels-can-a-world-where-profitless-companies-are-flying-last-20190808-p52f3d.html; Damian Paletta, Thomas Heath, and Taylor Telford, “Stocks tank as another recession warning surfaces,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/08/14/stocks-tank-another-recession-warning-surfaces/; Tim Wallace, “‘Very real’ recession risk as economy contracts for first time in seven years,” Telegraph, August 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/08/09/recession-risk-now-real-economy-contracts-first-time-seven-years/; Tim Wallace, “World economy faces a risk that’s far bigger than Trump’s trade war,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/world-economy-faces-a-risk-that-s-far-bigger-than-trump-s-trade-war-20190809-p52ffs.html
  7. [7]Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073; Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  8. [8]Aaron Blake, “How a recession could doom Trump’s 2020 reelection,” Washington Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/12/how-recession-could-doom-trumps-reelection/; Andrew Restuccia and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Any Economic Downturn Could Scramble Trump’s 2020 Strategy,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/any-economic-downturn-could-scramble-trumps-2020-strategy-11565898073; Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump, banking on strong economy to win reelection, frets over a possible downturn,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-banking-on-strong-economy-to-win-reelection-frets-over-a-possible-downturn/2019/08/15/04a85352-bf67-11e9-b873-63ace636af08_story.html
  9. [9]Catherine Rampell, “Trump has a dream team for mismanaging a recession,” Washington Post, August 15, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-has-a-dream-team-for-mismanaging-a-recession/2019/08/15/0254451c-bf98-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  10. [10]Devlin Barrett, “Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy concludes his death was a suicide by hanging,” Washington Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/jeffrey-epsteins-autopsy-concludes-his-death-was-a-suicide-by-hanging/2019/08/16/bb670d58-c053-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  11. [11]Evan Perez and Mark Morales, “Basic facts about Epstein’s suicide elude investigators 5 days later,” CNN, August 15, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/15/politics/jeffrey-epstein-prison-suicide-questions/index.html
  12. [12]Thaddeus Russell, “Does U.S. Support for Israel Threaten American Safety?” Daily Beast, July 14, 2017, https://www.thedailybeast.com/thaddeus-russell-does-us-support-for-israel-threaten-american-safety
  13. [13]Michael Arria, “Israeli lawmakers to Congress: two-state solution far more dangerous to Israel than BDS,” Mondoweiss, August 13, 2019, https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/lawmakers-congress-dangerous/; Gil Hoffman, “Israeli MKs to Congress: Thanks, but BDS bill ‘dangerous for
    Israel,’” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Israeli-MKs-to-Congress-Thanks-but-BDS-bill-dangerous-for-Israel-598392
  14. [14]Raphael Ahren, “Spurning lawmakers, Netanyahu loses the Democrats he never thought he had,” Times of Israel, August 16, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-never-thought-he-had-the-support-of-democrats-now-he-might-not/
  15. [15]Vivian Salama and Andrew Restuccia, “Greenland Tells Trump: ‘We’re Open for Business, Not for Sale,’” Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/greenland-tells-trump-were-open-for-business-not-for-sale-11565960064

The weather, it is a-changing

I know the weather has changed in California. The wildfires there now are unlike anything we had before. And to hear many people talk, a few recent years of relatively normal rainfall might as well have been Noah’s Flood. Their disorientation is understandable: California has suffered many more dry years than wet during my entire adult life.

I’m starting to hear that the weather is indeed also different in Pittsburgh. Summers are wetter and winters are less cool, a passenger told me yesterday. She blamed climate change for Dutch Elm disease (trees are more vulnerable when stressed, including by climate change) and lightning (presumably from severe storms that could be more common as a result of climate change) that had killed some trees around her driveway. She is blind, but she could feel the difference in the pavement: It was cool before; now it is hot. She also conflated the issue of fracking-induced earthquakes. But she’s a believer in the climate crisis.

By the way, she identifies herself as a conservative—I couldn’t identify what tendenc[y|ies]. As I’ve mulled it over, my initial, so-preliminary-that-I-probably-shouldn’t-say-it guess would be traditionalist.

Solastalgia describes the feeling of distress caused by environmental change, and it was coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht. “It was important to give that feeling a name because it was missing from our language,” Albrecht says from his small farm in Australia’s Hunter Valley region in the eastern state of New South Wales.[1]

It’s hard for me to address the weather difference here in Pittsburgh from my own experience. I lived here for a couple years as a kid and my memories from fifty years ago are hazy.

But the pattern I don’t much remember but have seen a lot so far this year has been of a rapid increase in temperature and humidity, followed by rain or thunderstorms. The latter bring some relief, but the temperature rises again following them. This has been happening a lot, even on days when the forecast calls for a relatively low chance of rain.

I do remember walking to the Mount Lebanon swimming pool as a kid. I’m pretty sure I had a bicycle but with the hills around here, it’d have been easier just to walk. People still go to swimming pools, sometimes taking a Lyft to do so. And I see them in the Dormont pool which is visible from McFarland Road (between Beverly Road and Banksville Road).

But it’s kind of hard for me to imagine doing that now; the chance of thunderstorms seems much higher than the forecasts ever indicate. Though there are a number of massive antennae about that I’m pretty sure also serve as lightning rods, a swimming pool is not a wise place to be during such a storm.

I’ve taken to watching the cumulus clouds as I drive around. It seems like they’re here every day. When even only some turn dark, it seems I can be sure that some precipitation is coming, even if it’s only a few big fat drops on my windshield.


Trade

But Donald Trump is a “master of negotiation.” Brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant.

Stephen Bartholomeusz, “Trump is escalating a trade war he isn’t winning,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 5, 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/trump-is-escalating-a-trade-war-he-isn-t-winning-20190805-p52dxf.html


Ridesharing

This[2] adds to the pile.[3]

Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/


Migration

2019-8-5-libya-security-migrants
This is a refugee camp. Image by Ismail Zitouny on July 3, 2019, via Public Radio International.[4]

James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure


Kashmir

One has to take pronouncements, such as this one about the possibilities of war and ethnic cleansing,[5] by Pakistani politicians with a grain of salt. I have noticed a tendency towards hyperbole. But there is absolutely zero up-side to India’s move to revoke Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.[6] Zero. None. Nada. The risks of a conflagration between these two nuclear-armed countries are considerable and it is entirely worthwhile to wonder what India’s intentions are.

Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war


Brexit

I’ve heard about the difficulties of re-erecting a hard Irish border, as would be required in a “no deal” scenario,[7] in the abstract. But here they are in a damning first person account.[8]

Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs


Royalty

I’m an anarchist, remember? Which probably should mean I would prefer a republic to a monarchy. Both are authoritarian, but the republic at least has some representation. Which isn’t real democracy and falls a long ways short of what’s actually needed but is at least something.

Here’s someone pointing out, with some considerable justification, however, that British royalty is making a hell of a lot more sense than British politicians.[9] This is the part I really like:

It is typical of the age that anyone allying themselves with an optimistic vision – what if we could avert climate catastrophe? What if we stamped out prejudice? – is immediately greeted with this kind of ire. The mean-spirited arguments are constructed on a foundation of bad faith. Only the underprivileged can talk about privilege; only the excluded can talk about bigotry; only the monk can talk about consumption. The ploy is quite clear: virtually nobody counts as quite deprived enough to have ambitions for a better world, so everybody should just pipe down.[10]

Ouch. There remains the issue of speaking for others, but if you read to the end of her chapter, which a certain professor emeritus I know of might never actually have done, Linda Alcott explains that those of us with some privilege should speak on behalf of others, but in consultation and cooperation with them.[11] Ouch anyway.

Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle


Police

I wanted to put a line in my blog post yesterday, “Of course the cops don’t care about white supremacism,” about people of color being more likely to be shot by police.

A quick search indicated that might be wrong and it seems the story remains unclear. Brentin Mock goes into all this in some detail.[12]

Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/


  1. [1]Will Higginbotham, “Are You Climate Homesick? He’s Got a Word for That,” Ozy, July 26, 2019, https://www.ozy.com/rising-stars/are-you-climate-homesick-hes-got-a-word-for-that/95504
  2. [2]Laura Bliss, “How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?” CityLab, August 5, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/08/uber-lyft-traffic-congestion-ride-hailing-cities-drivers-vmt/595393/
  3. [3]Emily Badger, “Is Uber Helping or Hurting Mass Transit?” New York Times, October 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/upshot/is-uber-helping-or-hurting-mass-transit.html; Katie Dowd, “Why is San Francisco traffic so bad? Uber and Lyft are to blame, says city,” SFGate, December 13, 2016, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-traffic-Uber-Lyft-SFMTA-blame-10791265.php; Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “SFPD: Uber, Lyft account for two-thirds of congestion-related traffic violations downtown,” San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 2017, http://www.sfexaminer.com/sfpd-uber-lyft-account-two-thirds-congestion-related-traffic-violations-downtown/; Nikil Saval, “Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life,” New Yorker, February 19, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/uber-and-the-ongoing-erasure-of-public-life; Faiz Siddiqui, “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse,” Washington Post, July 25, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/07/25/a-new-study-says-services-like-uberpool-are-making-traffic-worse/; Heather Somerville, “San Francisco investigating whether Uber, Lyft are public nuisances,” Reuters, June 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-san-francisco-rideservices-idUSKBN18W2F3 See also David Benfell, “San Francisco’s war on Uber and Lyft drivers,” Not Housebroken, September 27, 2017, https://disunitedstates.org/2017/09/27/san-franciscos-war-on-uber-and-lyft-drivers/
  4. [4]James Reinl, “Libya’s hellish refugee centers remain open despite calls for closure,” Public Radio International, August 6, 2019, https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-08-06/libyas-hellish-refugee-centers-remain-open-despite-calls-closure
  5. [5]Diaa Hadid, Scott Neuman, and Abdul Sattar, “Pakistan Warns Of War After India’s Move To End Kashmir’s Special Status,” National Public Radio, August 7, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/748957876/pakistan-warns-indias-move-to-end-kashmir-s-special-status-could-lead-to-war
  6. [6]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  7. [7]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280
  8. [8]Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs
  9. [9]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  10. [10]Zoe Williams, “I never thought I’d see the royal family as a beacon of hope,” August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/post-referendum-britain-royals-progressive-meghan-markle
  11. [11]Linda Martín Alcott, “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” in Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity, Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman, eds. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois, 1995), 97-119.
  12. [12]Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/

‘Masters’ of negotiation

Iran

There is a new blog post entitled, “War with Iran may be inevitable.”

International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/205-averting-middle-easts-1914-moment


Kashmir

There is much more to this[1] than I can take on right now. I will say this: It is a catastrophe in multiple ways.

Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html


Uber

See my previous blog entry entitled, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet.”

Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings


Guns

As of today (Aug. 4), we are 216 days into 2019. In the US over that time, more than 1,300 people have been injured or killed in mass shootings, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.[2]

216 days. 292 mass shootings.[3] Thanks, Donald Trump. Thanks, Mitch McConnell.

Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/

Valerie Bauerlein, “Mass Shootings in El Paso, Dayton Leave 29 Dead,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/mass-shootings-in-el-paso-dayton-leave-29-dead-11564962534


Trade

Between Brexit[4] and Donald Trump’s attempt to bully China,[5] I see a lot of arrogance.

Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a master negotiator by any means. But I’ll tell you all a secret based mostly on my B.A. and M.A. in Communication: Approaching any negotiation with arrogance is likely to piss off other side, leading it to dig in its heels. And here, call this a two for one deal: The line between a constructive attitude toward a negotiation and arrogance isn’t even remotely a fine line.

It also helps if, unlike how the Trump administration is handling Iran,[6] one is clear about what one’s goals are in the negotiation.

What we’re seeing instead isn’t even remotely what you can call “being tough.” It’s called “being stupid.” Which seems pretty much to be how the stock markets are seeing it.[7]

David J. Lynch et al., “Treasury Department designates China a ‘currency manipulator,’ a major escalation of the trade war,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-lets-currency-plunge-below-7-a-decade-low-after-trump-adds-new-tariffs/2019/08/05/c7415db6-b754-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html

Akane Otani, “Stocks Fall Sharply as Yuan Reels and Trump Jabs at China,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-yuan-drop-sharply-as-trade-spat-intensifies-11564981961


  1. [1]Niha Masih, “India revokes special status of Kashmir, putting tense region on edge,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/india-revokes-special-status-of-kashmir-putting-tense-region-on-edge/2019/08/05/2232fcd0-b740-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  2. [2]Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/
  3. [3]Katherine Ellen Foley, “The 292 mass shootings in the US so far this year, mapped,” Quartz, August 4, 2019, https://qz.com/1681082/the-292-mass-shootings-in-the-us-so-far-this-year-mapped/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The hatless mad hatters,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/the-hatless-mad-hatters/
  5. [5]David J. Lynch et al., “Treasury Department designates China a ‘currency manipulator,’ a major escalation of the trade war,” Washington Post, August 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-lets-currency-plunge-below-7-a-decade-low-after-trump-adds-new-tariffs/2019/08/05/c7415db6-b754-11e9-8e83-4e6687e99814_story.html
  6. [6]International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/205-averting-middle-easts-1914-moment
  7. [7]Akane Otani, “Stocks Fall Sharply as Yuan Reels and Trump Jabs at China,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-yuan-drop-sharply-as-trade-spat-intensifies-11564981961