Amerikan Brexit: Coalitions of the Ignorant

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on November 10, 2016

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The election of 2016 is over, and the mood in the country is that the People Have Spoken. A majority of voters have soundly rejected Business As Usual, as personified by Hillary Clinton, and voted for what they perceive as Change, with a Capital T, as in Trump.

The truth is that there was never a better poster child for crony capitalism and corruption than Clinton. The thousands of leaked emails and the revelations about shady deals with foreign despots funneling money to her through her non-profit front disgusted anybody who took the trouble to read during the election cycle….and for those (most Americans) who don't bother to read, Mr. Trump was happy to Tweet about it and call her a criminal day after day on the campaign trail.

I expected Ms. Clinton to win, not because she was a good candidate, but because she was a very savvy politician with a well-established constituency among the black and brown urban poor and the educated liberal elites, and because the Big Money was behind her. She knew how to play the game, as it has always been played.

But this election threw a monkey wrench into the gears of electoral politics. For the first time in history we have seen an election shaped by social media. Mr. Trump, himself a TV personality with lots of name recognition, was able to shape the election by saying things that most political observers would have called political suicide, and he made it work to deliver the Presidency of the United States.

For the past several years, Republican candidates had courted the same people who turned out to vote Mr. Trump into office, with some success. But they never delivered on their promises, and this time that group, the high school educated working class whites, showed their dissatisfaction by abandoning the Republican Establishment in the primary, and further demonstrating their anger and frustration with BAU by sweeping Trump into the White House.

I don't think Trump will deliver the goods either, because declining energy resources dictate that the pie will keep getting smaller, and because the ship carrying the US industrial economy set sail for China long ago now, and it won't be coming back. Never mind the widespread effects of global climate change, which Mr. Trump and most of his base don't believe is even real.

Mr. Trump will have to depend on his bombast and charisma to keep his support. The figure he most reminds me of in recent history, is Hugo Chavez. Poor Venezuelans still love Chavez, even though he threw their country into total economic chaos. I'm sure Trump will be able to keep some of his base behind him for the next four years, or longer. But it won't be because he was able to make America great again.

I think it would be good to examine Mr.Trump's coalition of support, and Ms. Clinton's, because even though she lost the election, her base still exists, and  it is outgrowing Mr. Trump's support base over the long haul. In other words, they will be back with a new candidate, who might appear in four years to completely dismantle whatever Mr. Trump creates. They might even come back with a vengeance. Time is on their side, as long as the country can rock along without a complete systemic collapse.

It's easy to understand Clinton's support. At the bottom are the extremely entrenched have-nots in our society. They can't get along without a SNAP card and Medicaid. There is a very large group of Blacks and Hispanics (and a even a few whites) who have, for nearly three generations, benefited from free food and free medical insurance and subsidized rent. They are motivated to AVOID making much money in the mainstream economy, and they are motivated to AVOID being legally married,  to qualify for the benefits they depend on. These benefits are almost always restricted to being doled out to single mothers with children. Families have to avoid the appearance of being a family when social workers come around, and any significant income has to come from the black market economy.

The black and brown Americans who pull themselves up above poverty still identify politically with this group, and largely vote with them, although some of the most successful do abandon ship and turn conservative. The black working class remains firmly behind the Democratic Party, which always gives lip service to taking care of "the unfortunate". The Hispanic component favors open borders and free immigration, because a large number of them are from immigrant families, many of whom arrived here illegally.

To that bloc (which is growing by leaps and bounds because of the Hispanic component with their Catholic religion and large family size), the Democrats add a much different demographic group,which are the liberal whites, who have been brought up to believe in policies of racial and gender equality, and who feel sorry for those at the bottom. These whites are not all rich, but they are,as a group, well educated, and they have jobs in government, education, and technology that allow them to achieve a measure of financial success. Enough to keep them from being angry, and make them in favor of a diverse society, which they've been taught to value anyway.

The Trump constituency, examined in hindsight of the election, appears to be a coalition too. The base is the white working class, the people who once constituted the bedrock of American society, not college educated, but who managed to make decent livings in our industrial manufacturing sector. Union workers and unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. At one time a man could make a reasonable living in this country if he was just willing to get up in the morning and go to work and give a reasonable effort. Jobs were plentiful, and if one didn't work out you could always get another one.

These people are now strongly  anti-immigration, because they perceive that new arrivals take away employment that is their birthright. It is a little more complicated than that, but they don't see the fine detail of how technology just eliminates the need for so many working stiffs.

They  accuse the Democratic party of bringing in more and more immigrants in order to build the liberal welfare state political base, and that makes them angry too. They happen to be right about that one.

The other part of the coalition, which includes some of the above group, and some other, better educated white people, is the Religious Right, the very same people who brought you the likes of Ted Cruz and even Marco Rubio  (who wasted no time last night in giving all the credit for his re-election to Jesus Christ his personal savior. I don't know if Jesus was listening, but the Evangelicals were, and gave Rubio a huge round of applause when he said it. Little Marco knows which side his bread is buttered on.)

This group is motivated by their shared agenda of ending abortion in any form for any reason, making birth control difficult, and bringing public prayer (Christian prayer, that is) back to public schools.  Ending sex education is another issue. They want kids raised like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed on a diet of horse shit. They are people who have been conditioned to believe that our society's decline is due to moral decay, and who see nothing wrong with making America into a Conservative Christian theocracy.

The working white poor, as a demographic group, are in decline, but the Religious Right keeps growing. Their churches have turned into huge mega-arenas that put thousands under one roof on Sunday morning, where preachers skilled in hypnosis techniques drive home the message. The Religious Right doesn't love Trump, but they were willing to hold their noses and vote for him in droves, because he comes from a Catholic family background and has been careful to (at least in recent years) give lip service to the Christian Conservative agenda.

Both the Democratic base and the Republican base are motivated primarily by emotion, and neither one is willing to understand that the decline of our country and Western Civilization has to do resource depletion, overpopulation, and climate change.

They cling to their own particular emotional lifeboats, and have no interest in hearing that all of us are going to be living on less energy, less money, and less complexity in the near future, and that many of us will simply not be living at all, as our ability to use technology to produce more and more food and labor from less and less effort, goes away forever.

They deny climate change, because they don't live on waterfront property. Or if they do, they'd like to flip their house before it becomes worthless. The city just needs to build more storm drains and do a little more backfill. All those storms are just normal climate variation. Floods and droughts have always happened. Watch your step, there, don't get your feet wet.

That's my view. Pardon me if I'm not excited by the wave of change sweeping the country. I see another kind of wave coming, one that will give both of these groups of willfully ignorant Americans a reality check they aren't looking for.

Collective Insanity

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 13, 2014


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…I toyed with some other titles for this Rant, like “Collective Stupidity” and “Collective Ignorance” which are both in abundance these days, but as you observe the spin down progress its way around the Globe, as vast as the Stupidity and Ignorance are, both are overwhelmed by sheer INSANITY. There is insanity everywhere you look nowadays. So today’s Rant is on Collective Insanity.

Let’s start with the Stock Market. While millions more Amerikans drop out of the Labor Force every year, the Market levitates to ever more stratospheric heights. The “Smartest Guys in the Room” invest in Dogshit companies like Facepalm and PoopOn that have never turned a profit in their entire existence. Since these guys are Certified Smart with Ph.Ds from MIT, Harvard and the London School of Economics, you can’t attribute this to Stupidity, so it must be Insanity.

Where do the Smartest Guys in the Room GET the money to invest in this Dogshit? From other certified Geniuses like Helicopter Ben Bernanke and his successor, Dammit Janet Smellin Yellin, who seem to think that paying par prices for absolutely worthless collateral with freshly printed FRNs so that the Smart Guys trading have still more Funny Money to play with will somehow get the economy rolling again back to the Holy Grail of Perpetual Growth. Since you can;t have perpetual growth in a finite world, this concept is flawed from the get go, and also here since Helicopter Ben and Dammit Janet are also cetified as smart, stupidity can’t be the answer, so it must be Insanity again…



Don’t miss the recent interview with Josh Ellis on his Gone Viral Blog, “Everyone I know is Broken Hearted”

Or the Top Rant, ANTI-DOLLAR!!!

Lying or Just Stupid?

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Las Vegas
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  May 5, 2014

It’s not always easy to define what exactly is wrong with America, but what ever it is, it’s huge.

— Roel Ilargi Meijer, The Automatic

Nobody knows, from sea to shining sea, why we’re having all this trouble with our Republic.

— Tom McGuane, Ninety-Two in the Shade

Despite its Valley Girl origins, the simple term clueless turns out to be the most accurate descriptor for America’s degenerate zeitgeist. Nobody gets it — the “it” being a rather hefty bundle of issues ranging from our energy bind to the official mismanagement of money, the manipulation of markets, the crimes in banking, the blundering foreign misadventures, the revolving door corruption in governance, the abandonment of the rule-of-law, the ominous wind-down of the Happy Motoring fiasco and the related tragedy of obsolete suburbia, the contemptuous disregard for the futures of young people, the immersive Kardashian celebrity twerking sleaze, the downward spiral of the floundering classes into pizza and Pepsi induced obesity, methedrine psychosis, and tattooed savagery, and the thick patina of public relations dishonesty that coats all of it like some toxic bacterial overgrowth. The dwindling life of our nation, where anything goes and nothing matters.

It’s not just the individual cluelessness of ordinary people leading lives too frantic for a moment’s reflection about anything, but the appalling institutional cluelessness of enterprises where you’d think combined intellects might tend toward a more faithful view of reality. But these days all we get is a low-order of wishful and clownish group-think, such as this item from today’s New York Times discussing a proposed reversal of Gazprom pipelines along the Ukraine / Slovakian frontier as the solution to the Kiev government’s fuel problem:


Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.


Get that? To avoid depending on Russian gas, they’re going to buy Russian gas from sources other than Russia. What New York Times editor can read this story without spraying her video display with coffee? What genius in John Kerry’s “Haircut-in-Search-of-a-Brain” State Department dreamed up this dodge? Who would think that you could improve a Chinese fire drill by tacking on a Polish blanket trick (i.e. trying to make your blanket longer by cutting a foot from the top and sewing it onto the bottom).

The only conclusion the casual observer can come to is, to put it mildly, these institutions have gone completely meshugga. Since I follow the behavior of these organizations, I know that this is not an isolated example. For the State Department, the entire gambit in Ukraine has been a chain of obvious bungles and miscalculations, starting with our sponsored overthrow of the original elected Kiev government, and the absurd presumption that Russia had no legitimate interest in that region’s stability to the strategy of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot financial sanctions. The New York Times (once America’s “Newspaper of Record”), is now a completely unreliable conduit for un-parsed White House backgrounder propaganda and raw State Department spin, with an overlay of editorial PMS brain fog.

Another humdinger on a somewhat different issue caught my attention the other day in the formerly eminent, now degenerate journal Foreign Affairs (May / June 2014): The United States of Gas, by Robert Hefner III . This idiotic article in the current issue hits on all the usual wishful thinking delusions du jour concerning this country’s energy prospects, namely: due to fracking in shale deposits we’ve entered an energy-and-manufacturing renaissance, we’re soon-to-be the premier energy exporter to the world, and US “consumers” (i.e. citizens) can be assured of driving to WalMart forever — in other words, all economic problems solved. These idiots (editors and fact-checkers included) must get all their information straight out of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) PR handouts. CERA, of course, is the official public relations shop of the oil and gas industry.

It’s one thing that this article is patently misleading. What’s worse is the complete absence of any understanding of the fundamental dynamic between the high cost of unconventional oil and gas and its effect on capital formation. In other words, the capital investment for continued future drilling will simply not exist. What a surprise that will be to the people who run this land.

There comes a point in the destiny of a failing nation when official lying is no longer distinct from official stupidity. We’ve crossed that boundary in the USA. It pays to remember that societies get what they deserve, not what they expect.



James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.


They Hang Elephants, Don’t They?

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on August 2, 2013

Hanging Elephant 1 Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Hanging Elephant 1
Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

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America is a world leader in innovation and technology. Our big idea is to develop solutions where problems do not exist … then contrive problems specifically to justify expanding the use of the solution. A good example is the automobile; humans have had little difficulty getting around the surface of Planet Earth before the auto arrived, we are all born with feet. Afterward it was decided that every component of human existence should be spaced fifteen miles away from all the other components so that use of a car is mandatory.

Likewise, the railroad crane sits idly waiting for the need to arise … to lift something heavy: solution (crane), meet problem (elephants).


“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses (of elephants) yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost (elephants) to me,
I lift my lamp (elephant) beside the golden door!”


Apologies to Emma Lazarus … who could not have possibly imagined in her most fevered dreams the level of balloon-headed idiocy … to which the United States of America has descended at the beginning of the new millenium. The golden door has been re-engineered into a solution searching desperately for problems. It has become a portal through which agencies and individuals smash others as they please for any reason, without any consequences: the revolving golden trap door. It excuses itself for any collateral damage, it is the solution, the problems are ‘threats’ that must be continually created so that the door can continue to justify its existence.

Along with the door is the absence or decline of strategy: the process is sanctified, the end or purpose the process is meant to address … vanishes.

Consider Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr; also known as Abu Omar: Nasr gained his fifteen milliseconds of fame for being kidnapped in Italy in 2003 by a group of CIA and Italian operatives, afterward hustled off unceremoniously — or rendered — through the golden door to Egypt where he was tortured by Hosni Mubarak’s intelligence service.
“CIA Kidnaps Its Own Informer in Broad Daylight in Italy, Damaging Italian Al-Qaeda Investigation”
The snatch from the middle of a crowded Milan boulevard created an uproar in Italy which understandably felt its sovereignty had been abused. Nasr’s detention then release from confinement triggered an Italian investigation which led to the conviction in Italian courts of 23 Americans plus 5 Italians. While none of the operatives spent any time in prison — the Americans had fled the country and were tried in absentia — the top-secret operation was entirely exposed. For the first time, Americans in their official capacity were convicted of crimes by an ally; the CIA as well as the Bush administration were publicly humiliated.

’24′ is an American television series produced for the Fox network and syndicated worldwide, starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer. Each 24-episode season covers 24 hours in the life of Bauer, using the real time method of narration. Premiering on November 6, 2001 …


November 6 + 19 + 31 = 56. Television bosses move fast when there is money to be made, in this case, just days after 9-11, Fox Television had America’s most potent response to International Islamic Terrorism ready to deploy! Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde observed; CIA rendition offered the chance for career bureaucrats in cushy overseas billets to pretend to be Jack Bauers in real time using real humans as disposable props … and because the analog was on prime-time television, for the public to approve of it!

Nasr was just one of dozens detained then ejected through the infernal golden door into CIA-associated dungeons then abused. None of the information obtained with torture from the detainees amounted to anything. Little- or nothing was accomplished by way of the effort except to demonstrate in real time the US as a rogue country run by incompetent criminals. The rendition program was a public relations stunt -slash- solution to a non-existent problem.

The CIA could have left the entire Nasr matter to the Italians without getting involved. The US bosses post-9-11 felt that to be too ‘unmanly’; operatives flew into Italy ready pounce on the hapless Nasr. Presumably the spies checked into their hotels using the code-name ‘Jack Bauer’ …


The operation, it turns out, took much longer to complete than the CIA had planned, and as it dragged on, discipline on the eleven-member abduction team broke down. Two agents used their cell phones to call home. At least two others decided to use the trip for romantic encounters in rooms at some of Milan’s swankier hotels, like the Sheraton Diana Majestic and the Principe di Savoia, on the CIA’s dime. One team member, believed to be a freelance contractor, used his real name when checking in to hotels. Worst of all, Langley had given the team walkie-talkies to use for operational communications -— a $20 solution that would have kept the operation airtight. (The former senior CIA official told me the agents felt the two-way radios “made them look too much like spies” when they were on Via Guerzoni and scrapped them for cell phones.)“This was amateur hour with a bunch of Keystone Kops,” said former CIA officer Milt Bearden.


Of course they didn’t want to ‘look like spies’ … who would?

The CIA station chief in Rome was an ex-cop with a Honduran background named Robert Seldon Lady. He was a year from retirement at the time of the kidnapping, looking forward to the good life in the north of the country. He had just bought a multi-million dollar villa outside of Turin with his wife, from where he could employ himself as a (highly-paid) security consultant. As it turned out, circumstances compelled Lady to leave the country in a hurry and his property behind. Ironically, Lady’s villa was eventually confiscated by the Italians, then sold to provide a partial restitution payment to Nasr for damages suffered at the CIA’s hands!


“Bob should have been a minor figure in this operation,” said a former senior CIA official. “Unfortunately, that is not how things played out. It’s sad, really. He should not have put anything work-related on his home computer. That was just stupid.”


The question never asked is how a mid-level civil service employee with a modest salary could possibly afford a multi-million dollar villa in Turin in the first place. Lady recently materialized on the Panamanian-Costa Rican border waiting to be hustled away by Americans before he could be turned over to the Italians on an Interpol warrant.

It is not just intelligence services that are solutions looking for problems …

From the Open Society Foundation website:


After being extraordinarily rendered by the United States to Egypt in 2002, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under threat of torture at the hands of Egyptian officials, fabricated information relating to Iraq’s provision of chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda. In 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell relied on this fabricated information in his speech to the United Nations that made the case for war against Iraq.

“They were careless people, Hotel Two-Six and Crazyhorse One-Eight — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘The Not-So-Great Gatsby’


‘Rambo 4′, starring Sylvester Stallone was produced by Millennium Films, Nu Image Films for Equity Pictures and Medienfonds GmbH. Released in 2008, the film cost $50 million to make with a box office of $113,244,290. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 37%. The video released by Wikileaks cost two trillion US dollars and 100,000+ lives to make and is due to send Bradley Manning to the stockade for 20 years- to life. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is unknown, however the result was the revelation of the military — by the military itself — as a collection of anxious, undisciplined solutions hunting for problems; Rambos desperate to find someone or anyone to kill, just to be able to do so.

The Army’s helicopter footage exposed the rottenness at the heart of American Exceptionalism, exposed the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan as PR campaigns gone badly awry just like Extraordinary Rendition. Online spying and interception of the world’s cellphone conversations are more of the same; expensive, ultimately useless endeavors looking for ways to justify themselves: our disciplined adversaries use the $20 walkie-talkies and avoid the Internet.

It is unsurprising the establishment is frantic to punish Manning and the others: the USA sells itself to the world as omnipotent; history’s last superpower. The revealed inner workings of the establishment and failed outcomes offer a completely different narrative: a country that is disconnected from reality, living in the past; a country whose leadership relies on bullying and abuse of others, cannibalizing goodwill earned in blood by the efforts of previous generations. It is a country that has no idea what it is about or what it is doing. In a flash of lightning perceptions are permanently altered: the empire’s garments are tatters; the elephants are out of the bag never to be retrieved.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the spy program; the failures are obvious, not much effort should be needed …


Senate Panel Presses N.S.A. on Phone LogsAt a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the chairman, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, accused Obama administration officials of overstating the success of the domestic call log program. He said he had been shown a classified list of “terrorist events” detected through surveillance, and it did not show that “dozens or even several terrorist plots” had been thwarted by the domestic program.


Nobody asks the security and military bosses who is getting rich by way of these programs, nobody follows the money. To ask is un-American; the country exists so that a handful of diabolical tycoons can become richer than they already are. There is no doubt that some of the hundreds of billions- and trillions of dollars directed toward ‘security’ are being diverted into hungry pockets. Left up to the establishment, nobody will ever find out.
Crazed Terrorists 1

Identify the terrorist® if you can; he is the one with the cold, pitiless stare. The marketing industry labors without pause to meet expectations in the public mind of what a terrorist is supposed to look, dress and act like as they do with economists and other public figures.

The wars, renditions and spying taken together are distractions. Instead of al Qaeda, the danger to America has more to do with its own success; cannibalized resources and the country’s monstrous debts. The cost in lives is paid not on the battlefield but on our nation’s highways to the count of thirty thousands and more casually written off every single year as the price for doing the auto industry’s dirty business.
Detroit-USA Debt 1
Chart by Heritage Foundation, (click on for big). Using public relations, the establishment of central banks and state treasuries manipulates the finance markets at will; within the American market state there is the belief that everything outside of finance can be manipulated the exact same way.

The establishment doubles-down with more distracting PR: instantly there are new ‘threats’ exposed by now-discredited spying programs. Soon to come is the charade of color-coded alerts, more groping and humiliation at the airports, more warrantless searches and seizures, more SWAT team raids as well as more declarations alternating between fear and vengeance. The bosses have fully invested the country in the notion that success in national endeavors comes from fooling yourself: there is ‘fracking’ and the “100 years supply” and ‘Energy Revolution’ and ‘Saudi America’ … we content ourselves with the thin gruel of ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘they will welcome us as liberators’. We live vicariously through the media, we abandon our own lives to interested others … plutocrats who do not care if they destroy everything.

We are caught out in a frenzy of villas and luxury cars, jet vacations and money; we know instinctively without any intelligence agency having to tell us that all of these things are vanishing like mirages before our eyes. The grip these things have on us tightens and we lash out in futility …

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further … And one fine morning –So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

The Week That Was in Doom 5/12/2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 12, 2013

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

Plenty of doom and doom-related happenings on the domestic and international front this week, so let’s go right to the videotape:

Across the pond in Greece, where Question Mark and the Austerians are administering the same sort of save-the-rich economic policies that plutocrats like Pete Peterson so dearly wants to bring to the FSA, youth unemployment has reached a staggering 60 per cent.

While the overall unemployment rate rose to 27 percent, according to statistics service data released on Thursday, joblessness among those aged between 15 and 24 jumped to 64.2 percent in February from 59.3 percent in January. Youth unemployment was 54.1 percent in March 2012.

“It is by far the highest youth unemployment rate in the euro zone, highlighting the difficulties young people face in entering the labor market despite government incentives to create jobs,” said economist Nikos Magginas at National Bank.

Athens has lowered the minimum monthly wage for those under 25 years by 32 percent to about 500 euros to entice hiring.

Note that last succulent little datapoint, and keep it in your pocket when the solons in DC look up from Benghazi! BENGHAZI!! BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!! long enough to recommend a lowering of the minimum wage, or pass a bill to eliminate overtime wage payments.


As our friend Joe P. posted earlier in the week, researchers have once again discovered the glaringly obvious, a link between racism and stupidity. Whouda thunk it?

Findings taken from numerous research projects strongly indicate that prejudice, racism and intolerance are more likely to be present in individuals with greater cognitive rigidity, less cognitive flexibility and lower integrative complexity.

Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice.

We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.

A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status.

Original here. This is well known by those in power, who have thoughtfully provided these people their own reality-free 24-hour Cable News Network.


“If voting changed anything they would make it illegal”

–Emma Goldman

Although I am a pretty political creature, I tend to eschew politics on the Diner blog. The reasons for that are that there is a time and place for everything, and secondly, I share the apparent presupposition of most Diners that electoral politics is a sham and dumb show conducted every four years to keep we muppets amused.  With that in mind as background, I proudly ginned up the following segue, citing as additional evidence of mass stupidity the reelection of Terry Sanford in South Carolina this week. South Carolina has been the crazy uncle living in the attic of American politics ever since, oh, say 1859. But it never trotted out its stuff more aggressively than it did this week, and elevating the serial philanderer, trespasser, liar, adulterer, and misuser of state funds to noble office. Proof positive that debating cardboard cutouts of Nancy Pelosi in. the absence of having anything to say for yourself is really all you need to be elected in South Carolina. This person says it best, the unvarnished, unpolished, wholly unedited letter from a mad-as-shit South Carolinian:

Dear Fellow South Carolinians of the First District,

What the fuck are you people thinking? Mark Sanford, really? Way to keep us in the running, as the shitass craziest state of the nation. One more fuck-up like this and we’ll surpass even Florida  — home of child killers, cannibals and roach eaters! The “Palmetto State”, my ass. I think the “Facepalm State” is becoming increasingly more accurate here.

I have to hand it to you though–go big or go home, right?  On the same ballot where you elected Mark Sanford, that two-timing turd, you also voted–by a majority of 65%, no less–to protect the sanctity of marriage from scary gay people. Why shart quietly when you can shit the whole bed, am I right? The irony is intoxicating and it makes me puke.

We all know that South Carolina is a conservative bastion–no Democrat has won here in 30 years. Elizabeth Colbert Busch had the qualifications, ran a strong campaign and was leading Sanford in the polls late into the campaign. Realizing that Sanford couldn’t beat Colbert Busch, one-on-one, he had to invoke the name of that Satanist Minx, Nancy Pelosi as the straw man to gain traction. And with all of the cognitive skills of Pavlov’s dogs, you clownfuckers fell for it.

Where is the outrage of 1998, when the Clinton administration was nearly tanked over a blow job? And who was leading the charge in the furor against Clinton’s infidelity back then? None other than fucking white Grimace, himself, Newt Gingrich–you know, that other adulterous goat diddler that you elected as Republican presidential nominee last year.

So what gives, South Carolina? Is this insanity a cry for help or is it, more likely, a stunt for more attention? Were we paying too much attention to Mississippi again? You’re like the pretty blonde with the dazzling smile that boils the pet rabbit at the first hint of rejection.

And don’t pretend like this recent spate of cray-cray is a fluke, either. We also have you to thank for Joe “You lie!” Wilson, and racist hypocrite Strom Thurmond who fathered a child with his parents’ 16 year old black housekeeper. “There’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches” But you’re totally down with porking them ain’t ya, eh, Strom?

There is much to love about South Carolina: the food, the gentility of its people, the mellifluous accent, and we can certainly appreciate colorful characters. We dig eccentricity! But hypocrisy is unbecoming, and so is stupidity in the face of facts.

Too bad Congressman-elect Sanford won’t be able to luxuriate in the after-glow of his win. He’ll be tied up in court defending the charge of trespassing onto his ex-wife’s property. I wonder if he’ll repay the state of South Carolina the money he used for his Argentinian booty call. Surely he will because he’s all about “family values” and responsible government spending.

I just snorted mint julep through my nose!  You know what, First District? All y’all can kiss my motherfucking ass– that’s right, all y’all ignorant motherfuckers!!

A Formerly Proud South Carolinian

A truly well done rant. Wish I had said that.


As the journalists would say, “add stupidity.” We offer up this article on the overreach of law enforcement. Free Lilly-May Allen!!!

A girl aged ten was told by police that she could be arrested for causing criminal damage – over a game of hopscotch.

Lilly-May Allen was playing with a friend on a grid she had chalked on the pavement in front of her home when a marked police van pulled up.

An officer warned the girls that using chalk on the pavement was criminal damage and they could be arrested for it, before driving off.

But the girls did not understand what they had done wrong and Lilly-May is now reluctant to play outside, according to her father.

After Lilly-May told her parents about the incident, they called the police to clarify the law, but officers refused to confirm whether drawing a hopscotch grid in chalk on the pavement was an offence – even though it washes away in the rain.

The girl’s father, Bob Allen, 51, who runs his own karaoke business, said: ‘The policeman said to her that what she had done was criminal damage and she could be arrested. He then drove off.

‘She didn’t come into the house for a while and didn’t tell us  straight away because she  thought I was going to tell her off for being naughty.

‘She couldn’t even remember what the policeman had told her it was – only criminal something.’

He added: ‘She is only ten and didn’t know what she had done wrong.

‘I rang up the police and asked if chalking up a hopscotch grid was an offence and they wouldn’t say yes or no and said it was a grey area.

‘I’m angry and upset and if it was against the law then the policeman should have knocked on our door and said something.’

Mr Allen, who lives in a three-bedroom semi-detached home in Ramsgate, Kent, said the  incident on Monday had knocked his daughter’s confidence about playing outside.


This reminds of a set of charges encountered by some of our number during the heyday of Occupy Norfolk. Some of our folks had inscribed drawings and slogans on the sidewalks and upon the pediment of the local Confederate monument. The local Keystone Kops wasted no time bringing charges of “defacing a monument” against these colored-fingered revolutionaries. In the fullness of time those charges, just like the obstruction of justice charges brought against other members of Occupy Norfolk, disappeared like . . . sidewalk chalk on a rainy summer day.


As as long as we’re piling on the gobshites  in what is rapidly becoming the “stupidity” edition of The Week That Was in Doom, let us turn to that gift which keeps on giving, Sen. James Imhofe (R-Saturn):


“The Obama Administration’s cover up of Benghazi is the greatest conspiracy of all time, even greater than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which happens to be totally true by the way.”


All this in a week where the Heritage Foundation managed to put out a factually laughable report attributing trillions of dollars to the future costs of immigration. The fact that the report was a tissue of bad assumptions lashed together by a proven bigot seemed to be no impediment.


James DeMint resigned from the Senate (as a representative of South Carolina) some months ago — so he could get a big pay raise to be the head of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What better place to be rewarded with seven-figures at a think tank, when this is your big thought:

DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.


Naturally as head of the Heritage Foundation, DeMint used his first big project — critiquing immigration reform to keep those big “ideas” flowing.

One of the co-authors of the Heritage Study claming immigration reform would add $6.3 trillion to the deficit, Jason Richwine, advocated barring immigrants from entering the United States based on their IQ in 2009.

Really getting their Confederate Dollars’ worth the Heritage Foundation.

Rising Hegemon has this one covered:

Yesterday I posted about how former Senator, freak, and current Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint managed to put out a factually laughable immigrant bashing report put together in large part by a bigot.

But the bigot, Jason Redwine, is so much, so very much more:

The Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine, who co-authored the think tank’s study claiming immigration reform will cost trillions of dollars, contributed two articles to a “nationalist” website about Hispanic incarceration rates, Yahoo News reported Thursday. Richwine came under fire after the Washington Post reported Wednesday that his Harvard dissertation argued Hispanics have lower IQs than Caucasians and that the United States should screen immigrants based on their IQ scores.

Meanwhile in reality, which is NOT a whiter shade of pale:

A record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Looks like it is time for resign again Jim DeMint.


South Carolina again. Caveat emptor.


Mmmmmmm… tastes like chicken . . . with arsenic.

In other doom-related news this week, the Center for Food Safety has caught the FDA admitting that chicken meat contains arsenic. Skip the chicken when taking mom to Sunday afternoon dinner for Mother’s Day today.


Attorneys at Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of CFS, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and seven other U.S. food safety, agriculture, public health and environmental groups to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to the groups’ three year-old petition which calls for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals. Filed the same day Consumer Reports released an alarming study on antibiotic resistance in turkey, the lawsuit highlights yet another gaping hole in FDA oversight of animal feed additives.

Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems.

.  .  .

“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the IATP. “Seven years ago, IATP blew the whistle on FDA’s indifference to arsenic being needlessly fed to chickens and turkeys. More than a decade ago, we sounded the alarm on how FDA let the routine feeding of drugs to chickens and turkeys help ensure that Americans would eat meat often contaminated with bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. We are filing suit because nothing much has changed.”

Some years ago I read a biography of Rasputin, who reportedly dosed himself with arsenic every day as a preventative against assassination. Rasputin was astute enough to realize that his proximity to the Czarina placed him in mortal danger from opportunists in the Czar’s court. In the fullness of time, they did indeed assassinate Rasputin, but he shrugged off the initial doses of poison like after dinner brandy. Disposing of Rasputin required the assassins to shoot him multiple times, wrap him in chains and throw his body into the river. I offer this anecdote in the hopes that  regular dosings of arsenic will have a similar salutary effect for those of us who dine regularly at the Doomsday Diner.  Bon appetit!


Elsewhere, in a thoughtful and detailed look at the excesses of the FSA Security State, Peter Van Buren writing for Tom dispatch describes appalling detail just how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes with respect to whistleblowers. A truly Kafkaesque tale.


Robert MacLean is a former air marshal fired for an act of whistle-blowing.  He has continued to fight over seven long years for what once would have passed as simple justice: getting his job back. His is an all-too-twenty-first-century story of the extraordinary lengths to which the U.S. government is willing to go to thwart whistle-blowers.

First, the government retroactively classified a previously unclassified text message to justify firing MacLean. Then it invoked arcane civil service procedures, including an “interlocutory appeal” to thwart him and, in the process, enjoyed the approval of various courts and bureaucratic boards apparently willing to stamp as “legal” anything the government could make up in its own interest.

And yet here’s the miracle at the heart of this tale: MacLean refused to quit, when ordinary mortals would have thrown in the towel.  Now, with a recent semi-victory, he may not only have given himself a shot at getting his old job back, but also create a precedent for future federal whistle-blowers. In the post-9/11 world, people like Robert MacLean show us how deep the Washington rabbit hole really goes.


The Whistle Is Blown

MacLean joined the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) in 2001 after stints with the Air Force and the Border Patrol. In July 2003, all marshals received a briefing about a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which oversees FAMS, sent an unencrypted, open-air text message to the cell phones of the marshals cancelling several months of missions for cost-cutting reasons. MacLean became concerned that cancelling missions during a hijacking alert might create a dangerous situation for the flying public. He complained to his supervisor and to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, but each responded that nothing could be done.

It was then that he decided to blow the whistle, hoping that public pressure might force the TSA to reinstate the marshals’ flights. So MacLean talked to a reporter, who broadcast a story criticizing the TSA’s decision and, after 11 members of Congress joined in the criticism, it reversed itself. At this point, MacLean had not been identified as the source of the leak and so carried on with his job.

A year later, he appeared on TV in disguise, criticizing the TSA dress code and its special boarding policies, which he believed allowed marshals to be easily identified by other passengers. This time, the TSA recognized his voice and began an investigation that revealed he had also released the 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006. Although the agency had not labeled that message as “sensitive security information” (SSI) when it was sent in 2003, in August 2006, months after MacLean’s firing, it issued a retroactive order stating that the text’s content was indeed SSI.

A Whistleblower’s Catch-22

That disclosing the contents of an unclassified message could get someone fired for disclosing classified information is the sort of topsy-turvy situation which could only exist in the post-9/11 world of the American national security state.

The full story will reward the reader.  Suffice it to say that at the same time Guantanamo now holds “86 prisoners  who have been carefully vetted by the U.S. military, the FBI, the CIA, and so on, and found to have done nothing for which they could be charged or should be imprisoned and who have been cleared for release– there is no place to release them to, especially since the majority of them are Yemenis and President Obama has imposed a moratorium on transferring any prisoner to Yemen.”

Thus indefinite detention, which is constitutionally prohibited, and which should properly be anathema to the American justice system, is the legal legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.  That relatively few Americans are aware of or care about this should be startling.  “No charges, no trials, but never getting out of prison: that would once have been associated with the practices of a totalitarian state.”

“At the same time no one, not George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, or other top officials involved in setting up such a global system of injustice, sweeping up the innocent with the guilty, and subjecting them to horrors without end (including now force-feeding) will ever be brought to justice in an American court, nor will anyone involved in the system of rendition, torture, or abuse.”  The  Obama legacy  will be that of having institutionalized the worst anti-constitutional excesses of the Bush years, and having sold them with a charming, intelligent brown face. Had John McCain as President tried to do the same thing, liberals and fellow travelers would have stopped this country in its tracks. In 2008 people went to the ballot box to elect Obama as a repudiation of the Cheney-Bush regime. Upon leaving offoce Obama will not only have institutionalized the incursions of the Bill of Rights to which we most objected, but also having insured that no accountability will ever be visited upon the neocons who let us into a pointless, illegal, and immoral war.


And then Carl Herman, or whoever posts things up over at the estimable Washington’s Blog, wraps it all up in a ball for us in a post sure to appeal to doomers of all stripes with Why America Fell So Far … So Fast.

An excerpt:

All Empires Crash Soon After They Reach Their Peak

Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”   And because I love my country, I frequently criticize America’s shortcomings in the hopes of making her better.

But the truth is that the United States is not unusual … it is just like all other empires which have hit their peak and then quickly crashed.

.  .  .

The indications are always the same:

– The financialization of the economy, moving from manufacturing to speculation;

– Very high levels of debt;

– Extreme economic inequality;

– And costly military overreaching.

.  .  .

PhD economist MarcFaber states:

How [am I] so sure about this final collapse?

Of all the questions I have about the future, this is the easiest one to answer. Once a society becomes successful it becomes arrogant, righteous, overconfident, corrupt, and decadent … overspends … costly wars … wealth inequity and social tensions increase; and society enters a secular decline.

[Quoting 18th century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler:] The average life span of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years progressing from “bondage to spiritual faith … to great courage … to liberty … to abundance … to selfishness … to complacency … to apathy … to dependence and … back into bondage”

[Where is America in the cycle?] It is most unlikely that Western societies, and especially the U.S., will be an exception to this typical “society cycle.” … The U.S. is somewhere between the phase where it moves “from complacency to apathy” and “from apathy to dependence.”

In other words, America’s rapid fall is not really that novel after all.


This article also cites Jared Diamond’s excellent book “Collapse”, whose conclusions I will not discuss here, is that will be the subject of another post that I had been planning for quite some time. The article over on Washington’s blog is quite good. Don’t miss it.


Closer to home, Tamerlan Tsarniev  has reportedly been interred at a burial site in a Muslim cemetery outside of Richmond Virginia. You might well think the dead are dead, let them rest in peace, whatever their transgressions in this life.

All the graves in the Doswell, VA cemetery were covered with reddish-brown mulch except for two that appeared newly dug, neither with any kind of marking and one of them presumably Tsarnaev's.

All the graves in the Doswell, VA cemetery were covered with reddish-brown mulch except for two that appeared newly dug, neither with any kind of marking and one of them presumably Tsarnaev’s.

The Virginia woman whose actions led to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev being buried about 30 miles north of her Richmond home said the angry backlash from local officials, some cemetery neighbors and online critics has been unpleasant, but she has no regrets.

“I can’t pretend it’s not difficult to be reviled and maligned,” Martha Mullen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. “But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people that are not like you, that’s what God calls us to do.”


Some of my neighbors think otherwise. A so-called “friend” opened up a thread on his Facebook page in criticism that allowed the butt-picking-finger-sniffing contingent to reveal its howling id. Stunning. As HL Mencken once observed, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” The reflexive hysteria even manifests itself on the local Craigslist site. I found myself yesterday shopping for an old beater truck, which I could use to haul mulch for Contrary. Under the “rants and raves” section I found these offerings from my esteemed fellow citizens:

  • That piece of shit deserves to be dug up and tossed in a trash pile like every other man, woman, and child that worships islam
  • Now that we know he’s buried so close to here (a 2 hour drive), I know what I will do. I’m gonna eat me a big slab of pork baby back ribs and a laxative. Then I’m gonna drive up there, drop my pants and shit my bowels on his grave.
  • people they brought that pig shit that bombed Boston to Virginia and secretly buried him on OUR SOIL!!!!!!!!
    I say we start a petition to have him and every other muslim UNBURIED and thrown in the trash dump of any state EXCEPT Virginia
    Muslims are pissed cause he wasn’t buried in the place he died in? fuck islam, fuck muslims, I’m pissed cause that pig shit is buried here in Va.
  • its our new slogan Welcome to Virginia where we will handle other states garbage

All above (sic).

In closing, I offer you this piece of wisdom: never think it can’t get worse. It can, and will. Your neighbors will insist.







Money & Wealth I: A Bot Blogger Perspective

Off the keyboard of Bot Blogger

Published  at the Economics Table inside the Diner on March 26, 2013

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:  Monsta666’s recent Money & Wealth: Part I article has received spirited debate at the Econ Table. Diner Bot Blogger chipped in a very well articulated post,  which I will share with Diner Blog readers here.  For more, visit with the Diners hashing this out at the Economics Table inside the Diner.

From Bot Blogger:

I wish Ashvin would get more up to date in his lawyer’in for the lord. Actually I thought that was what he was trying to do by bringing Leviticus in as a guide to the handling of the perps. Oh well Ash, you tried. The bible is a open and shut case. It’s over. Besides defending crimes that may or may not have been perpetuated 6000 to 2000 years ago is easy work. You just have to go through all the apologizing and equivocating that centuries of lawyers for the lord have done before you.

If you’re going to get excited about slavery, get excited about wage slavery. Get excited about prisoners for profit (see the latest Chris Hedges article).

Genocide? How about Rwanda or Bosnia. There is lots to talk about. Much more difficult to get around those awkward feelings and emotions. I JUST, can’t get excited, about what happened to some Mennonites in the Middle East, 6000 years ago. LOL.

Systems are in place that that sustain themselves. Bureaucracies exist for their own sake. Our society is based on the continuation of negative outcomes because the services being provided are solutions that have become problems and addictions themselves… We are a supply and demand society. The supply creates the demand. We have doctors so we create a disease-care profession. Not health care. That’s why 9 out of 10 doctors recommend Lucky Strikes: it’s good business.

We have dentists so we have cavities. If there were a way to clean your teeth simply and thoroughly NO dentist would approve it because it would put her out of work. Energy. The film Garbage Warrior taught me that the utilities do NOT want you to be off the grid, for the simple reason that you will no longer be sending them a cheque every month. Cops NEED crime. No crime, no budget increases. They are fine with a drug addicted society as long as they can still throw people in jail for being high on illegal drugs.

Military needs war. Need I say more.

Secret Service needs terrorists. So it will create them. Believe it.

News needs negativity. It celebrates serial killers. Luka Magnota ‘News-maker of the year’ by the Canadian Press. It provides road-kill for the viewing pleasure of audiences every night. Rubber necking an accident, that could have been you, on the highway is a natural tenancy, if you’ve never driven before I can assure you that’s why it slows on the side opposite to the accident. Is this what we asked for?

Your independence is not something any system wants. Your compliant participation is. So, solution number one ‘regulate’; shut the fuck up and learn to buck up:

Or solution number two ‘medicate’; take a minus IQ pill (most people are already on this):

But these systems we create and maintain. Can we not create and maintain better systems? Well maybe if we are better people. And there-in lies the rub. How? Most people get a real sense of belonging from whatever system they are a part of. The system we are all participating in is materialism. A lot of people self-identify as consumers. When the news anchor says: “Consumer confidence is up!”, they get a little boost, and decide to go buy something at the dollar store (IKEA). Love that shit. LOL. But in the end it’s a game of winner take all and looser gets a cardboard box on the sidewalk. There are lots of people who have sold their souls for cash and they only talk in money terms. And most conversations we have are at the core about money. If you eliminated the need for money our conversations could be so much better. And that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be WORK left to do.

As Ken Wilber says, we live in flat land. Where there are no interior experiences only external measurements of value. And that’s how we know our worth. The interior world has no value because it can’t be measured (or we just haven’t tried).

And how do we measure? In units of US dollars, Gold, real estate, number of friends on Facebook, the length of our cock, the size of our tits, the number of cars we drive, the net return on our art collecting. (A way for rich people to imagine they are striving for something higher when in fact they are simply wallowing in the ‘value’ of something they don’t understand and will never touch from the inside. Van Gogh didn’t paint for money. He couldn’t NOT paint.)

We want to belong so we buy our belongings and the longing goes on longing.

As Bob says: Science is not a system of knowledge but a methodology. This method is not knowledge itself. Knowledge requires a ‘knower’ – one who is in the know. If this methodology could be applied to these experiences it could be the greatest gift we have. It could bring us to an experience of our connectedness, to one another, to history, to meaning and purpose, to life. If it’s not simply applied to things. Creating and manipulating and calculating and streamlining and dividing THINGS, in this dollar store economy.

But the interior world doesn’t have the same multiplicity of scales. It’s got unity not division. The interior world is about where we join with everything directly, where our longing finds a home. Where our fear of monsters, real and imagined give way to a steady state of already having everything we need including fearlessness.

So what is the experiment? The Diner has a very divergent yet cogent group, it’s already running an experiment (or it’s running us) we just haven’t put it to words. Maybe we don’t need to…

As GO says: Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Climate change will continue to have a largely detrimental impact on the agricultural sector worldwi [...]

We investigate historical and projected precipitation in Tanzania using observational and climate mo [...]