Saturday , November 23 2019
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Yves Smith



Articles by Yves Smith

US Medical Data Security Gets Worse 2 Months After Expose of Hundreds of Millions of Images, Related Patient Info Open on the Internet

15 hours ago

In September, ProPublica selectively vetted and publicized the findings of an international study by the German company Greenbone Networks which found widespread and serious deficiencies in the protection of patient medical images, like MRIs, CAT scans, and mammograms and related patient data (identifiers like name, data of birth, Social Security number) all over the world. Very few countries got a clean bill of health, and the US found to be particularly lax.
Greenbone made a second review. As a result of the report, 11 countries, including Germany, the UK, Thailand, and Venezuela, took all Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) servers offline. However, in the US, which Greenbone had classified as “ugly” in its “good, bad, and ugly” typology, got even worse. In the US,

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On TV, Political Ads Are Regulated – But Online, Anything Goes

16 hours ago

Yves here. This is a useful primer on the restrictions on TV advertising in the US. Of course, Americans being Americans, there’s no mention of how other countries regulate political advertisements and in particular, what if anything they are doing about Internet ads. For instance, I recall in Australia that any politician (I believe if running for national office) whose party hit a threshold level was entitled to a certain amount of free TV ads. I am not clear on how particular ad slots were assigned. In Australia, all mailboxes were also required to allow for hand delivery (as in the local union could slip in a one-pager promoting a candidate or issue, and similarly, the local Thai restaurant could drop off their take away menu). This meant you didn’t need costly mailers to reach voters

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‘Destroyer of Newspapers’ Vulture Fund Buys Majority Stake at Tribune Publishing

1 day ago

Yves here. This is so sad and appears to have gone under the radar due to the impeachment hearings and Democratic party dominating the news yesterday. So many newspapers disappearing or becoming pale shadows of their former selves.
By Andrea Germanos, staff writer. Originally published at Common Dreams
 (Photo: Rachel Kramer/flickr/cc)
Journalists sounded the alarm Wednesday after Tribune Publishing’s largest shareholder sold his stake in the company to a hedge fund that’s been described as “a destroyer of newspapers.”
In a joint statement, the newspaper unions of Tribune Publishing—representing workers at papers including the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun—said that the news of Alden Global Capital purchasing Michael Ferro’s 25.2% stake in the company should not be seen as “simply

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Links 11/21/19

2 days ago

Owner reunited with cat found 1,200 miles from Portland home BBC

This is the heartbreaking moment an injured koala emerged from fire grounds west of Port Macquarie.
Thankfully, the animal was quickly bundled up by a passing stranger, given water and taken to a local vet. #9News
Read more: https://t.co/pkc0EFaPgm pic.twitter.com/Taka21IDJO
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) November 19, 2019

‘Code Red’ alert issued as Australia fires continue to burn RTE
The planet is burning Aeon (Anthony L)
Extinction crisis: how can we end the illegal wildlife trade? Financial Times
Israeli Company Figures Out How to Turn Household Garbage Into Injection-Moldable Thermoplastic Core77
Cement has a carbon problem. Here are some concrete solutions. Grist
How the U.S. Air Force Turns an F-16 Fighter Into

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Wolf Richter: The Fed Slaps Down Negative Interest Rates

2 days ago

Yves here. The Fed revealing officially that it is opposed to negative interest rates should not come as news, since we’ve been saying that looks to be the case for years and we are hardly the most plugged-in Fed-watchers.
It’s been clear even if no one will admit to it that the central bank recognizes that it drove rates to low too fast and is finding it very hard to normalize (the repo mess is a symptom of that). The Fed has also been signaling its unhappiness with the ECB’s willingness to go into negative interest rate terrain. Nevertheless, it is useful to have the Fed’s point of view more widely known.
By Wolf Richter, editor of Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street
The minutes for the FOMC meeting on October 29-30, released today, shed some light on the laundry list of

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“The UN Is Being Turned into a Public-Private Partnership”: Harris Gleckman Explains Stealth Takeover by World Economic Forum

2 days ago

Yves here. It is exciting to see Lynn Fries, a Geneva-based film-maker that we know from her days at The Real News Network, featuring important stories independently. OpenDemocracy presented this segment, on the corporate infiltration of the UN, and hence international governance.

Lynn speaks with Harris Gleckman, Senior Fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability, and the author of ‘Multistakeholder Governance and Democracy : A Global Challenge‘. For the past 30 years, he has been a leading expert on multinational corporations, global environmental management, financing for development, global governance institutions, and the economics of climate change. They discuss how the World Economic Forum, best known for its annual Davos gathering for the rich and connected, has

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How Neoliberal Thinkers Spawned Monsters They Never Imagined

2 days ago

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
Political theorist Wendy Brown’s latest book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West, traces the intellectual roots of neoliberalism and reveals how an anti-democratic project unleashed monsters – from plutocrats to neo-fascists – that its mid-20thcentury visionaries failed to anticipate. She joins the Institute for New Economic Thinking to discuss how the flawed blueprint for markets and the less-discussed focus on morality gave rise to threats to democracy and society that are distinct from what has come before.
Lynn Parramore: To many people, neoliberalism is about economic agendas. But your

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Links 11/20/19

3 days ago

Feral Horses Helping Restore Butterfly Habitat Ecowatch (Glenn F)

This is a picture of a stag found yesterday on the West Coast of Jura, covered in plastic from the beach. #notoplastic #wildsideofjura pic.twitter.com/Bz4aYY9gSE
— wildsideofjura (@wildsideofjura) November 14, 2019

Global heating supercharging Indian Ocean climate system Guardian (resilc)
People Are Having Sex With 3D Avatars of Their Exes and Celebrities Vice
Can pro-vaccine bills save us from ourselves? Popular Science (resilc)
Pointless work meetings ‘really a form of therapy’ BBC (Chuck L). Well, if you consider feeling that you need a lobotomy to get through the meeting a form of therapy.
Brain wave study explains why a DMT trip is like entering an alternate reality Inverse (David L). n=13, so big red flag re tiny

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Democrats’ Private Equity Hearing Fail: Abject Incompetence, Corruption, or Mere Unseriousness?

3 days ago

Even though I didn’t have high expectations for the House Financial Services Committee hearing yesterday on private equity, America for Sale? I didn’t expect it to be a train wreck either.
Today I will focus on the process issues, as in why this hearing ginned up by Team Dem sucked (Lambert insisted I not use that word in the headline) and what that says about the party. In the next day or so, I’ll turn to what was said in the hearing, and more important, what wasn’t said and what appalling lies were told.
The contrast of the Republicans, who all sang loud and hard from the same factually-challenged hymnal, to the Democrats, who were dominated by moderates who typically attributed the damage done by private equity to a few bad actors punctuated by few Representatives giving detailed

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The Coup in Bolivia Has Everything to Do With the Screen You’re Using to Read This

3 days ago

Yves here. Bolivia is yet another example of a struggle over resources….and the locals losing.
By Vijay Prashad, an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet

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Under Swollen Tides, Venice Says More About Our Future Than Our Past

3 days ago

Yves here. Venice illustrates a problem that climate change will force individuals and societies to confront: What will we try to save, and what will we decide, deliberately or via neglect, to sacrifice? And this isn’t just our cultural legacy, but cities, populations, even species. From a related post on Venice at Grist:
Saltwater rushed into St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice last week, submerging marble tombs, intricate mosaics, and centuries-old columns. A man was spotted swimming across St. Mark’s Square, normally bustling with tourists, as the highest tide in 50 years swept through…
The rising saltwater presents a threat to the city’s prized architecture, including wall paintings and frescoes from the Renaissance. Early estimates put the damage around $1 billion so far.
It’s a vivid

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Reminder: Birmingham Meetup Tomorrow, Thursday November 21. Hope to See You There!

3 days ago

I hope you are looking forward as much as I am to a chance to kick back, get to know some like-minded people in the area better, and enjoy some lively conversation and potables. Readers report that they very much appreciate stimulating discussions and getting to see new and familiar faces at these meetups. The Birmingham regulars are a good group, so please come out for some pre-holiday fun!
Details:
Time: Thursday November 21, 5:00 to 8:00 PMLocation: Grand Bohemian Hotel, which is opposite the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (the bar is on the top floor, next to the restaurant, Habitat and Feed; there are two entrances, so if you have not been here before, use the valet parking and ask the valet to point you to entrance that takes you the restaurant)2655 Lane Park RoadMountain Brook, AL

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New Report Finds Costs of Climate Change Impacts Often Underestimated

3 days ago

Yves here. Steve Keen provided a ferocious debunking of William Nordhaus’ remarkable claims on how modest the cost of climate change would be. This post is a more polite rendering of some of the arguments Keen made.
By Dana Nuccitelli. Originally published at Yale Climate Connections
Climate economics researchers have often underestimated – sometimes badly underestimated – the costs of damages resulting from climate change. Those underestimates occur particularly in scenarios where Earth’s temperature warms beyond the Paris climate target of 1.5 to 2 degrees C (2.7 to 3.6 degrees F).
That’s the conclusion of a new report written by a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and

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Private Equity Under the Hot Lights Today at House Financial Services Committee Hearing, “America for Sale?”

4 days ago

Private equity is finally getting some long overdue official scrutiny via a series of Congressional moves. One is the full House Financial Services Committee meeting today, at 10:00 AM, America for Sale? An Examination of the Practices of Private Funds. You will find the live webcast at that link, as well as links on that page to the written testimony of each of the witnesses. This is a meaty topic, plus AOC should be on deck, so I hope you can catch at least some of the hearings and comment here if you are so moved.
In addition to this hearing, other measures underway are the bipartisan bills in the House and Senate to prevent surprise billing (which as we’ve discussed, is in large measure the result of private equity buying, consolidating, and exploiting various physicians’ practices

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The Rich Under Stress as Asset Prices Wobble

4 days ago

Despite Wall Street rising yet again to record highs, more and more of the rich are taking unexpected reversals, thanks to this generation of the super wealth deviating in a major way from historical norms by regularly taking a walk on the borrowing wild side. As the cliche goes, leverage cuts both ways, amplifying gains and losses. Borrowing against illiquid assets is a classic way to end up in a cash crunch, selling assets at fire sale prices to hold off creditors.
Two stories tonight demonstrate how even some of the ultra-rich are feeling the pinch. The first is a report in the Wall Street Journal on the softening art market and how that is hitting collectors who were too casual about using debt; the second is on the very soft state of the ultra high end real estate market in New York

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Why Aren’t Americans Rising Up Like the People of Chile and Lebanon?

4 days ago

Yves here. While this article raises an important question, as in why don’t Americans revolt, its analysis leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, its authors Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J S Davies make the bizarre claim that Occupy failed because it “failed to transition from a rallying point and a decentralized, democratic forum to a cohesive movement that could impact the existing power structure.” Huh? Were they asleep when it was crushed in a `Federally-coordinated 17 city paramilitary crackdown, a mere two months after it launched? The fact that such a short-lived movement elicited such a backlash and still managed to make “the 1%” part of the lexicon is a testament to how much it achieved during its short life.
In addition, the authors appear to have no comprehension of how America

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FAA Pushes Back on Boeing Pressure to Recertify 737 Max by Year End; Agency Also Considering Major Revamp of Certification Process

5 days ago

Mirabile dictu, are we in the process of seeing a Federal regulator start to do something we haven’t seen in decades…actually regulate? The very much diminished FAA plans to take some serious steps in that direction.
The reason to think the FAA’s recent noises might be precursors to real action, as opposed to more better optics, is that the 737 Max debacle has led the agency to lose its most valued asset: that of having its aircraft certifications be accepted without independent vetting by other aviation regulators. Losing that would put American manufacturers at a serious disadvantage relative to foreign competitors. The stakes are so high that the FAA’s incentives are to do whatever it takes to get back to status quo ante.
And the FAA chief might be up to the task. The current FAA

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America’s Arms Sales Addiction

5 days ago

By William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.
Originally published at TomDispatch
It’s no secret that Donald Trump is one of the most aggressive arms salesmen in history. How do we know? Because he tells us so at every conceivable opportunity. It started with his much exaggerated “$110 billion arms deal” with Saudi Arabia, announced on his first foreign trip as president. It continued with his White House photo op with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he brandished a map with a state-by-state rundown of American jobs supposedly tied to arms sales to the kingdom. And it’s never ended. In these years in office, in fact,

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Links 11/16/17

7 days ago

Yves here. I know it is silly to even notice, but my favorite cat Blake would have been 20 today.
Indonesia’s food chain turns toxic as plastic waste exports flood in Guardian
How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results Wall Street Journal. A blockbuster. Remember how Google downranked the WSJ in search? See summary if you can’t get past the paywall: Google search results have more human help than you think, report finds ars technica
China?

#BREAKING: Dozens of what appear to be PLA soldiers in ordinary clothing come out from the Kowloon Tong Osborn Barracks and clean barricades set up on Renfrew Road near the Hong Kong Baptist University @hkbaptistu. They are chucking bricks back to the pavements. #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/u7MoyzNxaI
— Ezra Cheung

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Do We Actually Grow from Adversity?

7 days ago

Yves here. Since suffering is part of the human condition, people do their best to cope with it. However, I have considerable doubt as to whether individuals actually “grow” from it, if one means becoming more mature and balanced. Personal pain, like the death of a spouse, infidelity, betrayal, sexual abuse, debilitating injury, career failure…it’s hard to put these in the American self-help movement “no pain, no gain” framework. People may become wiser, as judges of their and other’s behavior, and perhaps more skilled at avoiding bad situations, but that is not the same as their character or coping mechanisms getting better or them somehow developing more tenacity. Systems like ACE for measuring childhood emotional trauma find a strong correlation between having a high score and

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Non-Financial Private Debt Overhang: Post War German Debt Reforms as a Model for a Modern Debt Jubilee?

7 days ago

Yves here. Readers may recall the considerable amount of work that we’ve published or reposted showing that private debt, as opposed to government debt or total debt, is the real threat to financial stability. Sabri Öncü looks at the magnitude of the problem (scary!) and looks at a modern example of debt restructuring, that of Germany at the end of World War II, to see if   it could be adapted for use now.
By T. Sabri Öncü ([email protected]). an economist based in İstanbul, Turkey. This article first appeared in the Indian journal, the Economic and Political Weekly on 16 November, 2019.
Parts of this column are adopted from an article in process that T. Sabri Öncü is co-authoring with Ahmet Öncü, titled ” A Partial Jubilee Proposal: Deleveraging Agencies Financed by Zero-Coupon

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Hope To See You at Our Birmingham Meetup This Thursday, November 21

7 days ago

If you are in Alabama or not too far a drive from Birmingham, I hope you can find time in your busy schedules to join our meetup this Thursday. For you regulars, come by and share your news. For first timers, meet like minded people, decompress from the Dem debate on Wednesday, and share good local and national gossip and opinions. Readers consistently enjoy these events, so please stop by to relax, recharge, and get a drink and a nosh.
Details:
Time: Thursday November 21, 5:00 to 8:00 PMLocation: Grand Bohemian Hotel, which is opposite the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (the bar is on the top floor, next to the restaurant, Habitat and Feed; there are two entrances, so if you have not been here before, use the valet parking and ask the valet to point you to entrance that takes you the

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New Paper Reveals Rail Industry Was Leader in Climate Denial Efforts

7 days ago

By Justin Mikulka, s a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmogBlog

A recent paper analyzing the major players in the organized efforts to attack climate change science and delay action had a surprising revelation — the biggest contributing industry/sector was not oil and gas but rail/steel/coal with the most active organization in the climate denial movement being the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
In the paper, Networks of Opposition: A Structural Analysis of U.S. Climate Change Countermovement Coalitions 1989-2015,author Robert Brulle, looks at “key political coalitions that worked to oppose climate action. In conjunction with their allied trade associations, these coalitions have served as a central coordination

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Economic Warfare: Insights from Mançur Olson

8 days ago

By Mark Harrison, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick. Originally published at VoxEU
Economic warfare was widely used in WWII. When one country blockaded another’s supply of essential goods or bombed the industries producing them, why did the adversary’s economy fail to collapse? This column, part of the Vox debate on the economics of WWII, reviews Mançur Olson’s insights, which arose from the elementary economic concept of substitution. He concluded that there are no essential goods; there are only essential uses, which can generally be supplied in many ways.
Mançur Olson (1932–1998) is best known for contributions to the political economy of collective action (Olson 1965) and of comparative economic development (Olson 1982, 2000). In earlier work, Olson also provided novel

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“Do You Have To Travel the World To Know What Poverty Is?”

8 days ago

Yves here. I’m sure most of you are gobsmacked that anyone would ask the question in the headline, and even worse, perceive or actually find that enough people were puzzling this deep matter over to merit an agony aunt answer. Steel yourselves because this wee discussion of where aspiring upper class anthropologists need to go to look at poverty…as if looking at poor people or maybe even getting among them a bit gives any appreciation of their lives…says way way too much about class stratification and why squillionaires like Deval Patrick and Mike Bloomberg labor under the delusion that Americans would want them to be President.
And of course, as the author does address, the tacit assumption is that true poverty isn’t all over the place in rich economies, you need to travel to find

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6 Technology Trends Revolutionizing the Transportation Sector

8 days ago

Yves here. Hopefully readers will have fun with this. And I have priors. Scooters, as much as they are environmentally responsible, are injury futures unless and until they predominate on roads. Why do you think they are hated in San Francisco? Because they are all over sidewalks (not just as disposals, but as part of their ride) because their operators would rather mix it up with slow-moving soft 180 lb humans than 4000+ lb faster-moving metal-clad cars. And don’t get me started on flying taxis as death traps for the self-important (and sadly the pilots too). Helicopters are bad enough in that category.
And I struggle to see why virtual reality for meetings would be any better than video conferencing…in fact, with more data transmission, wouldn’t you get more latency, which is the big

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Climate Change Fueled the Rise and Demise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Superpower of the Ancient World

8 days ago

By Ashish Sinha, Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills and Gayatri Kathayat, Associate Professor of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University. Originally published at The Conversation
Ancient Mesopotamia, the fabled land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, was the command and control center of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. This ancient superpower was the largest empire of its time, lasting from 912 BC to 609 BC in what is now modern Iraq and Syria. At its height, the Assyrian state stretched from the Mediterranean and Egypt in the west to the Persian Gulf and western Iran in the east.
Then, in an astonishing reversal of fortune, the Neo-Assyrian Empire plummeted from its zenith (circa 650 BC) to complete political collapse

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Millennials’ Health Deteriorating, Projected Mortality Rates Higher Than GenX; “Deaths of Despair” a Major Culprit

9 days ago

You thought deaths of despair were an affliction of deplorables. Silly you. In case you weren’t paying attention, young people are under a lot of stress too and many don’t have reason to think their state will get much better. Short job tenures and the rise of McJobs mean not just uncertain incomes, which are bad enough, but weak social attachments due to shallow relationships with co-workers and often too little discretionary income to mix regularly with contemporaries. Student debt is another major source of anxiety. We’ve also written, virtually from the inception of this site, that high levels of income inequality are bad for health, even for the wealthy.
And the reality of the accelerating effects of global warming weighs more on the young than the old, who can hope to die before

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Former CalPERS Board Member JJ Jelincic Files Protest Against Election Abuses

9 days ago

We’re a bit tardy in writing up former CalPERS board member JJ Jelincic’s protest against CalPERS and certain board members and employees for violating California laws prohibiting the use of government resources in political campaigns, as well as other abuses. We’ve embedded his letter at the end of this post.
His demand of re-doing the election might seem quixotic, given that he lost by a 34 percent to 66 percent. But before the combo plate of CalPERS’ dirty tricks and a monster influx of dark money, Jelincic had been the favorite. We have to believe that Jelincic isn’t motivated just by the prospect that he could overturn the election, but that he wants to expose the extensive abuses to prevent this sort of sleazy and illegal conduct to stop. And it isn’t just our opinion that this board

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How the Fed Boosts the 1%: Even the Upper Middle Class Loses Share of Household Wealth to the 1%. Bottom Half Gets Screwed

9 days ago

Yves here. Wolf Richter gives an important, granular take on the way the top 1% is pulling even further away from everyone else in wealth accumulation, enabled by the Fed. There’s a lot of anecdotal confirmation for his view that even the top 10% ex the 1% aren’t really doing all so well. For instance, a colleague who regularly lectures at and attends conferences for what we might call 9% professionals says they are anxious about how much it costs and how difficult it is to get their children into elite schools. At most top colleges, the slots left to non-legacy, non-athlete (don’t get me started), non-rich foreigners is about 20% to 30% of the student body. The college bribery scandal has these parents up in arms because it tells them that their uphill battle is even harder than they

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