Links 12/23/16

How Much Biofuel Do Santa’s Reindeer Need? OilPrice

North Pole Temperatures May Soar to 50 Degrees Above Normal Scientific American (resilc) !!!

How hospitals, nursing homes keep lethal ‘superbug’ outbreaks secret Reuters (guurst)

Scientists discover concussion biomarker PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Italian Bank Wobbles

Italy Sets Up Fund to Help Troubled Banks Wall Street Journal

Italy’s cabinet approves Monte dei Paschi bailout Financial Times


‘Europe opposed to favourable Brexit deal for Britain’ as support for UK dwindles Daily Mirror

Queen’s frustration with May over Brexit secrecy The Times

Nick Clegg submits 20 BREXIT-BUSTING questions – days after cosy Remain lunch with Osborne Daily Express

New post-Brexit landscape could squeeze Labour out, warns new report Guardian

Ireland’s love affair with Apple triggers hate at home Politico

Le FN prépare un «contre-sommet» européen Le Figaro. The European left was utterly unable to get anything meaningful done when Greece was being broken on the EBC’s rack in 2015. Will the emerging European right be more effective at organizing?

The Divisions of Cyprus, by Perry Anderson Defend Democracy

Are snap polls inevitable? ekathimerini

Illegal gold mining has supplanted cocaine trafficking as Latin America’s criminal endeavor of choice Quartz (resilc)


Why I Still Don’t Buy the Russian Hacking Story Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg. Members in Good Standing in the MSM starting to break ranks.

No, Mr. Dorfman, This is Not Chile Counterpunch (EM)

Reply of Russian Foreign Ministry to columnist who justified Karlov assassination Fort Russ (guurst)

Oil, Chaos And Geopolitics In The New Year OilPrice


“There were no green buses in Gaza” : Former UK ambassador to Syria debunks Aleppo propaganda (BBC) Saayed Hassan

Trump Transition

Documents suggest Palantir could help power Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants The Verge

Virtu Financial Execs Were Major Donors to Clinton and Schumer as Trump Nominates Its Top Dog as Secretary of the Army Wall Street on Parade

Beijing fires trade warning after Trump appoints China hawk Financial Times

Donald Trump’s trade team has based their analysis on a remarkably silly mistake Vox (resilc). While correct re the idea that simply cutting imports willy nilly is lousy policy, running a trade deficit is tantamount to exporting demand and jobs.

Trump Says U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Must Be ‘Greatly’ Expanded Bloomberg

Nuke Experts to Trump: WTF? Daily Beast

Passenger removed from flight after confrontation with Ivanka Trump Reuters. She flew commercial?

What would be Trump’s biggest mistake failed evolution. Not sure I agree. Obama’s execution was poor, with only intermittent attention to China and the lame TPP as an anchor of his strategy. But Trump may err via relying too much on bluster, which the thin-skinned Chinese take badly, and overplaying his hand.

2016 Post Mortem

Now Clinton’s biggest backers want a “campaign autopsy,” which could expose Clinton’s entire operation. Politico. From last week, still germane.

“Why Are You Still Talking About Hillary Clinton?” Medium

Israel lobby regroups to fight Keith Ellison’s bid to be Democratic chair Mondoweiss (Judy B)

There are new legal standards after court’s Probation decision Boston Globe (TF)


Police State Watch

Policing Police Robots UCLA Law Review (guurst)

Two ‘deadliest’ police departments in US to be investigated in California Guardian (UserFriendly)

New McCarthyism

Fake News and the New McCarthyism Common Dreams

McCarthy’s ghost smiles as Dems point the finger at Russia The Hill

Fakebook Atrios

Hedge fund developing AI to replace managers Guardian (ChiGal). Um, this was already well underway in 2007 via fund products that would create “synthetic beta” at a fraction of hedge fund prices (and we wrote about it then). CalPERS, which has officially exited hedge funds, is using some strategies like that.

Class Warfare

Uber Ships Self-Driving Cars to Arizona After California Ban Bloomberg

Uber’s Value to Riders Is Clear. To Investors, It May Prove More Elusive. New York Times. I have pinged Hubert Horan about this and hope he’ll have some fun with it.

Woe to Those Disrupted by Amazon Bloomberg (resilc)

Zappos is struggling with Holacracy because humans aren’t designed to operate like software Quartz (resilc)

Antidote du jour (Warren S):

gator links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jim Haygood

    The San Jose Mercury News reports that Arizona’s Gov Ducey began courting Uber on social media Wednesday. “This is what over-regulation looks like!” the governor tweeted, adding a #ditchcalifornia hashtag.

    Ditch Cali — red meat to his base. Uber will do okay in Arizona, as long as they don’t start testing robotic cowboys to ride the purple sage. That would upset folks pretty bad.

    1. Collapsar

      Ducey also put ink to a deal with Tesla-wannabe Lucid Motors to get them to build an auto assembly plant in AZ. It could end up costing the state over $40 million in tax subsidies, but he refuses to give a specific dollar amount.
      I loved his tweet about welcoming Uber with “wide open arms, and wide open roads.” Wide open roads? Clearly, he hasn’t been on the I-10 during rush hour.

    2. Carolinian

      Not many cowboys left, sadly. I know people who remember when horses were common on the main streets.

      1. a different chris

        Well the problem with horses is that they eat grass and reproduce themselves. Where’s the “consumer” in all of that? So our economic geniuses can’t even conceive of that in their models, thus we had to get rid of them (the horses, not the geniuses sadly).

      2. Bugs Bunny

        My dad’s from N. California and he used to “use a horse” as he put it to “get the cattle to move” I asked “so you were basically a cowboy?” – “No, I just used the horse to get around and move the cattle. Anywhere a man can walk a horse can carry you, but higher up and with more authority”.

        I’m in my 50s so these were the last of them I guess.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Ray Dalio of Bridgewater [see Guardian link above about his AI initiative] on animal spirits:

    Economic changes under the Trump administration may be more significant than shifts from “the socialists to the capitalists” in the U.K., U.S. and Germany from 1979 to 1982, according to Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio.

    Comparing Trump to Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Helmut Kohl, Dalio said the incoming administration may have a much bigger impact on the U.S. economy than can be measured by tax changes and fiscal spending. The Trump era could “ignite animal spirits” and attract productive capital, the billionaire fund manager wrote in a LinkedIn post on Monday.

    “By and large, deal-maker businessmen will be running the government,” said Dalio, whose Westport, CT-based firm is the hedge fund industry’s largest money manager. “Their boldness will almost certainly make the new four years incredibly interesting and will keep us all on our toes.”’

    Or as market commentator Jared Dillian asserted in a broadcast email yesterday:

    If you’re smart, like I suspect a lot of readers are, you’re going to overthink this. Don’t be smart. Be dumb.

    Trump good. Buy stocks. Sell bonds. Simple as that.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I believe stocks have reached a permanently high plateau.
        25X earnings will reach 35X then 50X then 100X. Theoretically there is no limit.
        Instead of owning them because they represent discounted enterprise cash flows, people will own them because their price goes up. This is the best business model ever conceived, what could possibly go wrong?
        The Wizard of Janet prints “money”, which is immediately converted into stocks. People who do not own stocks can just be rounded up into camps.

    1. cnchal

      Buy shares at $10 the next buyer thinks $15 is a better price and everyone else’s shares automagically ghosts up an extra $5.00 each, and the Fed didn’t even print the money.

      Electronic assets, my ass.

    2. Carla

      And then there’s this:

      Rickards: “The Trump administration is focusing on macroeconomic policy relating to taxes, spending and regulation. That’s fine, but it does not address the issue of systemic risk, which exists separately from normal business-cycle and credit-cycle considerations…The policies to avoid a systemic catastrophe in the financial system that I would recommend to the Trump administration… include reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, breaking up big banks and banning derivatives. The odds of any of these policies becoming law are close to zero because of the power of bank lobbyists.”

    3. RenoDino

      Except if political and power struggles overwhelm any immediate economic benefits, which seems the most likely, until a whole new relationship with the world is sorted out. Many potholes along the way and not the shovel ready kind.

    4. Jim Haygood

      U Mich blows like Spindletop:

      A measure of consumers’ attitudes rose to its highest level since January 2004.

      The Index of Consumer Sentiment hit 98.2 in December, the University of Michigan reported on Friday. The figure is up from 93.8 in November’s final reading.

      The surge in confidence following President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise election aided in the numbers, the report said.

      When “animal spirits” take hold, there doesn’t have to be a rational reason.

      1. RenoDino

        No question that markets are first and foremost are emotional gauges and many think the future looks bright.

        While I’m optimistic on Trump, the coming contretemps with China may overwhelm the market.
        I would humbly suggest that, if you haven’t done so already, you buy portfolio protection for the next 90 days while it’s now very cheap.

        Many more surprises to come could force the market to take a backseat to unsettling events on the ground.

  3. Holly

    It isn’t just superbugs that are kept secret. Know anyone who has had heart surgery in the past 6 years? My husband has had three heart valves replaced. Prior to the second surgery our hopsital was in the news for deaths linked to mycobacterium (usual found in water/dirt) being introduce to blood vessels. So we quickly scrambled and he had surgery at Emory University (during the Ebola crisis).

    This summer (3 years later) he received a non-descript envelope from Emory which stated “CDC has determined that a particular device used nationally has been linked to mycobacterium infections in heart patients” and he was one of those patients. The infection can take YEARS to develop. it was an astute doctor in little Seneca SC who wouldn’t give up when one of his patients became ill and he pursued getting an acurate diagnosis. GHS finally admitted in 2014 that 14 patients were infected (know 3 died but who knows reall total). But I’ll bet anything the infections had been ongoing and just misdiagnosed prior to 2014. Trumps proposal to fast-track medical improvements is a scary thing because he, like most people, trust the medical industrial complex.

    BTW my husband is a physician.

    1. Katharine

      What I found striking in the article was that the map makes a lot of states look fairly respectable, with disclosure of outbreaks, but in fact the majority of events described in the article took place in such states. It underscores the inadequacy of existing systems of reporting.

  4. fresno dan

    Passenger removed from flight after confrontation with Ivanka Trump Reuters. She flew commercial?

    She flew coach!!?!?
    On the one hand, being tight with a buck is something I admire. On the other hand, the Trump clan can’t afford business class???

    1. River

      Or it was information gathering. Best way to get news from the front is to actually go to the front.

      If that was the case I’ve got to show my admiration.

      I can’t think of a politician’s family member (when they are serving) that has gotten that close to the governed in an area that lacks some degree of separation/ protection.

      1. Paid Minion

        Next headline:

        “Donald Trump buys Ivanka her own airplane”

        Or they will appoint her to some position where she flies on government airplanes.

        Lots of reasons to own your own airplane. This kind of incident is just one of them. Ask any celebrity.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If they want feints to divert attention, Trump’s generals can do worse than sending Ivanka on various trips.

          “Trump buys her a plane!!!”

      1. Dave

        Happened to us, traveling with multiple children at the last minute means you take what you can get.
        Attacking a woman with small children is about as low as you can get. But then, self perceived
        Victim-Americans aren’t bound by the same rules as the rest of us.

    2. Romancing The Loan

      He yelled at a blond woman who resembled Ivanka.

      “The president-elect’s daughter was on a flight to San Francisco, but was ultimately headed to Hawaii, a public relations representative for Ivanka Trump told NBC News.” (The flight here was from JFK to Palm Beach.)

      “The United States Secret Service referred inquiries to JetBlue but said Ivanka Trump has full Secret Service protection as the daughter of the president-elect.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sounds like he was being irrational or a madman, overcome with his dislike or hate for Trump.

        We have to be careful not to mix or confuse emotions or biases with analyses, so as to avoid seeing Ivanka in every blond woman.

        “He is not my president!!!”

      2. Aumua

        A cursory search does not give any indication that the woman wasn’t Ivanka (as odd as that is), or that the news story was fake.

  5. fresno dan

    Fake News and the New McCarthyism Common Dreams

    As Max Blumenthal reported for AlterNet, “the anonymous website argued that all of the named sites should be investigated by the federal government and potentially prosecuted under the Espionage Act as Russian spies. They were accused for wittingly or unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda.”

    This story especially caught my attention because one of the fingered websites—Naked Capitalism—has long been one of my favorite sources. In addition to meticulous coverage of finance, the site provides in depth analysis of both mainstream economics and contemporary and historic alternatives. All those upon whom economics 101 is being inflicted should consult entries by Philip Mirowski and Philip Pilkingotn. You will never think the same about simple supply and demand. Designating this site as a purveyor of fake—even Russian supplied– news while providing no evidence for the claim is surely libelous.
    This site was instrumental in my reassessing and changing my viewa regarding the “free market.”
    And would it have killed the author to simply note the extremely erudite, witty, and sexy NC commentators???

    1. fresno dan

      “At the same time as this was happening, Congressional Democrats were getting involved in the blame Russia game. Norman Solomon reports:

      A week ago, when the House approved by a 390-30 margin and sent to the Senate the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2017, Schiff praised “important provisions aimed at countering Russia’s destabilizing efforts — including those targeting our elections.” One of those “important provisions,” Section 501, sets up in the executive branch “an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.

      While lacking public accountability, the committee is mandated to ferret out such ambiguous phenomena as Russian “media manipulation” and “disinformation.” Along the way, the committee could target an array of activists, political opponents or irksome journalists. In any event, its power to fulfill “such other duties as the president may designate” would be ready-made for abuse.

      What seems to be a common thread among many of the blacklisted groups is antagonism toward those critics of neoliberalism or of Obama/Clinton foreign policy who are seen as derailing the Clinton campaign. Solomon rightly makes a Cold War analogy, citing Democratic President Truman’s issuing a loyalty act in order to toss a bone to the emerging Cold Warriors only to have it blow up into the full fledged fury of McCarthyism.
      The dems couldn’t possibly be so stupid to give a law like this to Trump…..but when Trump jails the owners of the WP and NYT for fake and anti patriotic news, I will have zero sympathy…..

    2. jgordon

      I just heard fellow Russian agent (lol) Paul Joseph Watson give a shout out to the NC regarding this business while hosting a segment on Info Wars. Good publicity there. Streisand effect in full effect! Maybe NC should think about sending cigars to whichever “journalist” and editors decided to run that story!

    3. integer

      And would it have killed the author to simply note the extremely erudite, witty, and sexy NC commentators???

      As I am undoubtedly part of the “extremely erudite, witty, and sexy” cohort you refer to, I have to agree that the author of that piece has slighted us via omission.

  6. PlutoniumKun


    Ireland’s love affair with Apple triggers hate at home Politico

    This article is riddled with errors and very basic misunderstandings. I doubt if those ‘man on the street’ quotes are genuine , or if they are, they are heavily edited to support the writers preconceived notions. They simply don’t ring true.

    First off, while the Irish governments fight to allow Apple keep its money is controversial, its not a huge domestic issue – I think most people in Ireland assume it will fail and its sole purpose is to appease Apple. I’ve not heard anything to suggest there is any anti-Apple feeling in Ireland or Cork – they are a very big employer, the jobs are well paid, and being honest, there is some admiration for the government for having pulled a fast one on Europe up to now. Everyone knows there was a secret deal, its been the worst kept secret in Ireland for 30 years.

    Despite previous votes against European deals, Ireland is probably the most pro-EU country in Europe (those votes were really just protests against specific government policies). Not one single significant political party from right or left has wavered from a pro-EU stance and the occasional attempts to set up right wing anti-European parties have been pathetic failures. Blame for the ECB’s forcing of Bank Debt onto Ireland in 2008 has been attached to the bankers and the weakness of Irish politicians, not Brussels. In many ways, the Irish view of the EU is the flipside of the UK. Whereas in the UK people blamed the EU for policies actually pursued by London, in Ireland there is a tendency to blame Dublin for problems actually caused by Brussels.

    Looking through ‘s articles on Ireland, I find them very misleading – the poll quoted to support that article seems very odd, its results are completely contrary to all other polling I’ve seen. I suspect a political agenda behind this.

    1. integer

      …the poll quoted to support that article seems very odd, its results are completely contrary to all other polling I’ve seen.

      So why not enlighten the NC commentariat with some links to that other polling you’ve seen?

      Btw my impression is that Apple’s move to Ireland was mostly about patting the heads of the Irish and telling them how important they are.

    2. PaddyP

      PlutoniumKun is absolutely right; there’s no hostility to Apple or the EU in Ireland. Recently, in Athenry, Co. Galway, a well-attended demonstration was held to support and welcome a new Apple facility. Locals were annoyed that planning permission for the facility is slow to be finalized. There’s occasional grumbling against the EU but the general view is that Europe has been the making of Ireland.

  7. fresno dan

    I’m thinking NC won’t post on Christmas, so I will give a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all the NC commentators today and associated winter solstice salutations….
    “At length the hour of shutting up the countinghouse arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his hat.
    “You’ll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.
    “If quite convenient, sir.”
    “It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”
    The clerk smiled faintly.
    “And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”
    The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
    “A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”

    “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.” With many more links!

    1. Steve C

      An extra helping of cheer to you, Fresno and all the toilers in the NC vineyard and astute commenters.

      1. ambrit

        This year we’re not jumping through the fire; we’re jumping into the fire.
        Wassail! And some good Habana cigars for all you tobacco addicts!

        1. polecat

          Re. ‘jumping into fire’ .. Ain’t THAT the truth, ambrit ! .. no frying pan needed …


          hummm …. there ARE alternatives …. but then I live in a State of Wa. **

          ** careful not to overindulge, and thus find myself in a ‘MoDo funk’

  8. PlutoniumKun


    What would be Trump’s biggest mistake failed evolution. Not sure I agree. Obama’s execution was poor, with only intermittent attention to China and the lame TPP as an anchor of his strategy. But Trump may err via relying too much on bluster, which the thin-skinned Chinese take badly, and overplaying his hand.

    I’d agree that the article way overstates matters. Trump has a lot of Asian investments I doubt very much he is anywhere near as anti-China as he is made out to be. And while some of his appointments are from known critics of China they tend to be critical of trade matters, not of China in relation to geopolitics.

    The big danger is that his standard technique of shouting and confrontation in order to intimidate into making a deal is something the Chinese may find hard to deal with, and it could lead to confrontation – especially over Taiwan. But anecdotally, I think many Chinese are fascinated with, and quite admire Trump, and this may well extend to the people within the Chinese government. They will find him uncomfortable to deal with, but I suspect that they are culturally aware enough to adapt and try to use his bluster and lack of tact to their own advantage (the Japanese and Koreans may be a different matter, I think they will find it very uncomfortable to deal with him and there is huge potential for misunderstandings there).

    Given how the US and Chinese economies are so tightly integrated, I find it hard to believe that the billionaires in Trumps entourage (i.e. most of them) would have any enthusiasm whatever for a real military confrontation. All but the most deluded neocons will know that is a lose-lose conflict.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I wonder if Trump with his lack of anti-Russian rhetoric is going back to an earlier view that the Russians should be junior partners, not vassals, within the larger Western world empire against an independent China. Putin definitely wasn’t opposed to this in the 00’s, but the political structure has changed

      Don’t forget racist views or the less odious American exceptionalism are motivators. I’m convinced Bill and Hill believe they own Russia from the 90’s, but I can see American businessmen invested in China from the 90’s growing fussy over the Chinese moving from happy to be part of the Western business world to negotiating from strength and not being able to deal with this change.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      I am trying to come up with some characters in Chinese history to see how they would handle Trump successfully.

      One of them that comes to mind right now is Xiang Yu.

      This is what is said in Wikipedia:

      The historian Sima Qian, who wrote Xiang Yu’s biography in the Records of the Grand Historian, described Xiang as someone who boasted about his achievements and thought highly of himself. Xiang Yu preferred to depend on his personal abilities as opposed to learning with humility from others before him. Sima Qian thought that Xiang Yu had failed to see his own shortcomings and to make attempts to correct his mistakes, even until his death. Sima Qian thought that it was ridiculous when Xiang Yu claimed that his downfall was due to Heaven’s will and not his personal failure.[1]

      “Boasted,” as in bombast or bluster.

      And this about his name:

      Xiang Yu is popularly known as “Xi Chu Ba Wang” (Chinese: 西楚霸王; pinyin: Xī Chǔ Bà Wáng; Wade–Giles: Hsi Ch’u Pa Wang; Jyutping: Sai1 Co2 Baa3 Wong4), which has been translated as “Overlord of Western Chu”, “Hegemon-King of Western Chu“, “Conqueror of Western Chu”, “King of Kings of Western Chu”, and other renditions. This title is sometimes simplified to “Ba Wang” (Chinese: 霸王; pinyin: Bà Wáng; Wade–Giles: Pa Wang; Jyutping: Baa3 Wong4), without the link to “Western Chu”. Since Xiang Yu’s death, the term Ba Wang has come to be used specifically to refer to him. Xiang Yu’s subjects sometimes address him as “Xiang Wang” (simplified Chinese: 项王; traditional Chinese: 項王; pinyin: Xiàng Wáng; Wade–Giles: Hsiang Wang; Jyutping: Hong6 Wong4), which literally means “King Xiang”.

      That is, he was a hegemon.

      And what about the man who defeated him and went on to establish the great Han dynasty, Lu Bang? Again, courtesy of Wikipedia:

      One day, Lü Wen (呂文; also called Lü Gong 呂公), a wealthy and influential gentry from Shanfu County who had recently moved to Pei County, was putting on a feast to host the local elites. Xiao He, who was in charge of helping Lü Wen collect gifts from the visitors, announced that “those who do not offer more than 1,000 coins worth of gifts shall be seated outside the hall”. Liu Bang went there without bringing any money and said, “I offer 10,000 coins.” Lü Wen saw Liu Bang and was so impressed with him on first sight, that he immediately stood up and welcomed Liu into the hall to sit beside him, despite Xiao He telling him that Liu Bang was not being serious. Lü Wen chatted with Liu Bang, and said, “I used to predict fortunes for many people but I have never before seen someone so exceptional like you.” He then offered his daughter Lü Zhi’s hand in marriage to Liu Bang. After they were wed, Lü Zhi bore Liu Bang a son Liu Ying (the future Emperor Hui) and a daughter (the future Princess Yuan of Lu).

      Offering 10,000 coins when he didn’t have it – isn’t that braggadocio and bluster?

      Are the Chinese to draw that particular lesson – to beat a boastful person, you have to bluster as well?

      1. John Parks

        “I am trying to come up with some characters in Chinese history to see how they would handle Trump successfully.”

        I forget the Chinese poet but he dedicated a poem to the answer. Chinese handle their leaders in ways similar to ours. What they perceive as a good bureaucrat, one who actually performs his duties to the benefit of the people, will receive eventually a statue. The poor bureaucrats, like here, retire to a well paid existence for the rest of their lives. The poet, of course, was way more eloquent than I so I can only approximate his meaning.

        History will let us know whether Trump gets his statue. I am pretty confident he will have a successful retirement, if he can survive politically and physically.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          General Ban Chao, who, “… also led Han forces for over 30 years in the war against the Xiongnu and secured Han control over the Tarim Basin region, He was awarded the title “Protector General of the Western Regions” by the Han government for his efforts in protecting and governing the regions.”

          That is, he created jobs for man Han Chinese, some to man and farm the outposts along the Silk Road.

          And there is a statue of him in Kashgar:

          If general Trump can win over those in the Western Regions of our time, trade-wise, employment-wise, will there be a statue of him as well?

        2. Oregoncharles

          Trump is 70. Being President is his retirement job. (Indicating that he’s completely out of his mind, in my opinion.) He won’t want to work that hard, so his appointments are even more important, and so is Ivanka and probably her husband.

  9. Spring Texan

    The “green busses in Gaza” article is absolutely despicable: “We’ve seen not what some allege to be a meltdown of humanity but a meltdown of sanity. Where are, where’s any evidence of the alleged atrocities, of the Guernica, of the massacres, the genocide, the holocaust?”

    Anyone paying any attention knows that Assad’s torture and atrocities were perfectly evident before the war and were the reason for it, that they have continued, that his bombing and besieging starved cities and that his attacks on hospitals and medical personnel are standard operating procedure.

    Ask Doctors Without Borders about Assad. Ask the organizations who have tried to help the zillion refugees who voted with their feet. This apologist for horror is happy to ignore evident reality, and I hate seeing him cited in NC.

    1. integer

      Are you seriously suggesting that the unprecedented refugee flows out of Syria were due to Assad, who has been the President of Syria since the 17th of July 2000, rather than the terror that ISIS, Al Nusra front, and the “moderate rebels” systematically inflicted on the Syrian population?

    2. voxhumana

      “The evidence is overwhelming: in the months and years after 9/11, the US collaborated closely with Syria, which became an ally in the war on terror and a frequent destination for victims of extraordinary rendition. Syrian torturers worked hand in hand with US interrogators.

      These days, however, US politicians from across the spectrum piously condemn the Syrian regime for its crimes against humanity; two weeks ago, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution condemning Assad for “gross human rights violations” and the use of “torture”. Who says Americans don’t do irony, eh?”

      1. Dave

        What “American partner or steadfast Friend” is next to be demonized, attacked and regime-changed?

        With friends like this, who needs enemies?

    3. Chief Bromden

      Evidence shows that the U.S./CIA have been meddling with Syria and pipeline proposals since 1949- long before Assad.

      Western media outlets ran with more fake news to demonize Assad in the run up… the Carter Ruck “Inquiry” was a Qatari/Turkey/U.S. propaganda mill. Funny how these “human rights” organizations always have an affinity for U.S. interventions.

      (Rick) Sterling provides 12 problems with the “Caesar Torture Photos:”

      Almost half the photos show the opposite of the allegations.
      Allegations other photos only show “tortured detainees” are exaggerated or false.
      The true identity of ‘Caesar’ is probably not as claimed.
      The Carter Ruck inquiry was rushed, faulty and politically motivated.
      The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is involved.
      Simple administrative procedures are portrayed as mysterious and sinister.
      The photos have been tampered with.
      The photo catalog is faulty.
      Western media has uncritically promoted the story.
      Politicians have promoted the story for propaganda purposes.
      The Human Rights Watch assessment is biased.
      The legal accusations are biased and ignore the supreme crime of aggression.

  10. fresno dan

    Why I Still Don’t Buy the Russian Hacking Story Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg. Members in Good Standing in the MSM starting to break ranks.

    Hence, it’s hard for me to believe that this infected app — found somewhere on the internet and likely never used by Ukrainian soldiers — offers evidence tying the GRU to APT28. And that’s even if one accepts the initial logical leap to the GRU, as opposed to any of the other Russian spy services also involved in the Ukrainian conflict. I sincerely hope that when the U.S. intelligence community finally produces its findings on the election-related hacks, it will be more convincing.
    The problem with “intelligence” is that the enemies are trying to make you think they CAN’T do things they can, and that they CAN do things they can’t.
    OH, and the problem with US “intelligence” is that the CIA is trying to make you think they CAN’T do things they can, and that they CAN do things they can’t.
    How many readers believe that everyone in the CIA and everyone in the US government is totally dedicated to your well being…or the world for that matter?

  11. ProNewerDeal

    I recall fearing that there was a risk that 0bama, Congressional DLC Ds & Rs, would try to implement 1 TPP & 2 Grand “Bargain”/Ripoff cuts to Soc Security & Medicare during the Lame Duck 2016-Nov to 2017-Jan Congress.

    I haven’t heard anything about this since the Nov election. Trump says he is anti-TPP, but is there a chance the Lame Duck may still force it?

    It is safe to assume these 2 0bama USian-harming policies, that 0bama relentlessly worked on for years, are actually dead, at least during the Lame Duck?

    1. Steve C

      Republicans wouldn’t dare bring it up now, given Trump’s vocal opposition. If he had lost, Obama would already have it on his desk.

      Of course the chance always exists Trump was just funning and the Republicans plus Pelosi etal will push it through at the 11th hour.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Part of the problem (solution) is the obstacles in other countries. TPP has many potential and abstract issues in the U.S., but TPP would be an immediate disaster for many of the potential signatories.

      Hillary had to deny TPP, and even Perez is trying to claim his support was due to being on the White House team. The Democrats didn’t win the Senate. Hillary could easily be seen as a test run for the political fallout of TPP. 2018 is not a good year for Team Blue in the Senate. I suspect Obama doesn’t want to add the complete destruction of the Democratic Party to his library.

      1. ProNewerDeal

        wow 0bama is gonna leave office without enacting 1 TPP or 2 Grand Ripoff?

        I feel like this a cause for celebration! Big Ups to Yves, Lambert, & other writers like Bill Black & Michael Hudson who have been diligently writing on these 2 issues for yrs, while the neoliberal D CorpMedia like msDNC ignored it, while the R CorpMedia like Faux ignored it while hyping bogus FakeNews TM scandals like “Benghazi!”

        It would be interesting if it were polled, I’d guess a majority of USians never were even basically informed about the TPP & the Grand Ripoff.

        I hope 0bama ends up receiving less bribes, er $200K speeches, from his Johns, er oligarch funder/owners, for failing in these 2 key tasks he was given. A big “in your face, b1tch!” to 0bama, haha!

        This news is a genuine rare win for the 99%ers, it really warms my heart :0 Happy Holidays, everyone!

  12. katiebird

    Something evil. How long has this been going on? I’ve never heard of this being possible:

    ‘Plastic rice’ seized in Nigeria

    No ordinary rice: Martin Patience, BBC News, Lagos

    Whoever made this fake rice did an exceptionally good job – on first impression it would have fooled me. When I ran the grains through my fingers nothing felt out of the ordinary.

    But when I smelt a handful of the “rice” there was a faint chemical odour. Customs officials say when they cooked up the rice it was too sticky – and it was then abundantly clear this was no ordinary batch.

    They’ve sent a sample to the laboratories to determine exactly what the “rice” is made of.

    They are also warning the public not to consume the mystery foodstuff as it could be dangerous.

    Fake food scandals are thankfully rare in Nigeria when you compare it to countries such as China.

      1. Vatch

        The fraudsters are probably benefitting from the low price of petroleum, since most plastic is derived from oil. If and when oil becomes more expensive, this particular scam may stop being cost effective.

    1. Paid Minion

      Easy. It would have made the SEALs look bad. Then they would have had to have dealt with a bunch of pu##y pencil pushers in DC scrutinizing their travel budgets. Thus restricting their “operational flexibility”. Causing terrorists to run amok, leading to headlines like “Candy Azz pencil pushers in DC keep the SEALs from doing their job, so they must be terrorist flunkies”

  13. rusti

    I don’t know if it’s just misdirection, but I found this Trump tweet entertaining anyway:

    Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!

    Could an upgraded F-18 conceivably replace the F-35A/C variants? What sort of backlash might such a move result in from the brilliantly politically-engineered JSF program?

    1. Paid Minion

      No. For starters, it makes all of the new aircraft carriers being built by the UK and others just about worthless. They are designed to operate S/VTOL aircraft. No provisions for arresting gear whatsoever.

      (Like it or not, about every maritime power out there thinks carriers are a neccesity, for any number of reason)

      The problem with the F-35 is that, sooner or later you will need something like it.

      As far as cancelling the program, forget it. Too many other countries have too much money and commitment involved to back out now. Over 200 have been built. As much carping as there has been about the aircraft being “non-combat capable”, that may be true for the early builds. That doesn’t mean thosr airplanes are worthless. You still need airplanes for training, various types of flight testing, etc.

      The F-35s problems (IMO) mainly from (as usual) mismanagement, and the attempt (again) of trying to make one airframe do a multitude of different jobs. Would we have been better served by building two different airplanes for two different jobs, and keeping another “Prime” ( say, Grumman) an independent company, thus promoting/preserving competition? (To say nothing about keeping a manufacturing base, and associated jobs, in the Northeast).

      Just add the F-35 to a 75 years long list of programs that had critics that later turned out to be decent equipment.

      See: B-17, B-26 Marauder, B-29, F-111, M-1 Abrams, M-2 Bradley AFV, M-16 rifle, Aircraft Carriers (in general).

      Much of the criticism of weapons programs comes from the fact that some people believe ANY military defence is a waste of money. But they won’t be able to sell that to the wretched refuse, so they try to do away with the tools, and limit military options.

      Not saying they are wrong, but it would be nice if they would be honest about it

      1. integer

        Much of the criticism of weapons programs comes from the fact that some people believe ANY military defence is a waste of money.

        As has been discussed here previously (and in NTG’s comment below), military defense is better served by equipment such as Russia’s s-400 or s-500 systems, rather than jet fighters, which are essentially offensive weapons systems (hahaha – unintentional double entendre).

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I wonder what the point would be or about air superiority versus modern air defense batteries and the limits of human piloting even from control rooms in Florida.

      How good is the S-500 really? If it works, then why are we not just bringing F-4s out of mothballs for Toyota terrorists? If the S-500 is meant to work against the sixth generation fighters and cruise missiles, what is the point? The AC-130 gun ships took beatings and did their jobs. I wonder if we are reaching a point where planes can become the new battleship. Yes, the World War II battleships could still serve a purpose, but they didn’t provide enough variety to be replaced.

      Cruise missiles sound be cheaper, but the Russian black sea corvette fleet now provides cruise missile potential to a huge area from moving bases and hard to hit targets.

      If we are just bombing wedding parties and two bit dictatorships, do we really need more than a few cruise missiles and lighter, more maneuverable air craft? If we can’t build a plane to reasonably out class the S-500 and the current systems, defense needs to be be adjusted.

      1. MT_Bill

        My limited understanding of the F-18 super hornet is that it is an entirely new plane and not an upgrade of the old one. They kept the name as part of marketing the program. It is an 4+ generation fighter.

        How it or a true 5th generation fighter will fare against the new AA defense system and improved IR detection remains to be seen. Hopefully we won’t find out.

        1. Paid Minion

          For the Layman:

          F-18 A/B = Original Hornet. “B”s have two seats

          F-18 C/D = Improved Hornet. “D”s have two seats

          Both of these have been out of production for many years

          F-18 E/F = Super Hornet “Fs are two seaters. In current production. 25% larger than original Hornet. Among other things, the replacement for the A-6/EA-6.

          “Stealth’ implies more than the reduction of an airplane’s radar cross section. It also replaces “emitters” with passive sensors. The goal is to create an airplane that is a “hole in the sky”. Sure, you can build a radar powerful enough to get a return off of a stealth airplane. Except the stealth airplane is going to detect your radar a long time before you get enough of a return to get a missile radar lock. It (and the F-22) can then send this data via data link to other “dumb” airplanes like the F-15 and F-16

          Anyone saying the F-16 is a better airplane because it can out-turn the F-35 doesn’t get it.
          The whole point of the F-35 is to detect and shoot down opponents a long time before the “turn rate” even matters. It would be the same as saying a P-51 is equivalent to an F-16, because it can out turn it.

          Knowing where the “bad” guys are, before he knows where you are. A winning advantage, no matter what endeavor you are involved in. No more studies on this are needed

          Of course, if you think our military conflicts in the future will be wholly limited to dropping GPS guided bombs on brown people armed with AKs and RPGs, we don’t need anything more sophisticated than AC-130s or Textron Scorpions.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I’ll take subsidized day care any day.

            Maybe we can stick a military name on it and send it through the procurement channels. “F-95 Strategic Personnel Readiness Enhancement Program”

          2. Oregoncharles

            “The whole point of the F-35 is to detect and shoot down opponents a long time before the “turn rate” even matters”. And what happens when opponents get within that radius anyway, and you’re suddenly riding a sitting duck? There’s a long history of this sort of problem in military technologies. For an old example: the famous English longbowmen had to be guarded by men-at-arms because they were pretty helpless if someone got past their arrows, a close equivalent. The F-35s will also have to have escorts, like, say, aircraft carriers. And the loss if even one is downed is hair-raising. Again, like carriers.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I assume this is Trump trying to force a headline grabbing climbdown by Lockheed over some costs. The F-35 has such momentum its almost impossible to envisage its cancellation.

      Obviously, when so much is classified its impossible for outsiders to come to conclusions. But the reality is that the F-35 is, at best, only a marginal improvement on existing aircraft, and in some respects is worse. Only its stealth is a genuine combat advantage. And for all the fuss, there is not an iota of evidence that either Russia or China can build aircraft of sufficient quality, in sufficient quantities, to match existing US airpower. The Chinese simply can’t develop the engines for their aircraft and the Russians can build good aircraft, but don’t have the money to build sufficient numbers.

      Super Hornets would cost approximately half the cost of F-35’s, and would carry the Airforce and Navy through for the next 30-40 years, especially if paired off with much cheaper ground attack aircraft to do the job the F-35 is primarily for, but is far too expensive and vulnerable to actually do (close air support). The big loser though would be the Marines, who would have no VTOL replacement for their Harriers. And obviously the British and Italians would be without aircraft for their mini-carriers too. But their need for vertical take off aircraft is political, not military.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Actually, I will correct myself above, the Super Hornet would cost much less than half the F-35. Wikipedia say the flyaway costs are approximately $60million each. According to this article, the F-35A is likely to cost $157 million each, with the F-35B (vertical take off variant) $265 million and the F-35C (USN variant) $355 million each! Thats comparable in cost to the far more effective F-22 Raptor.

      2. River

        The bigger problem is that the F-35 just doesn’t work. The bomb bay doors are too small for the bombs in service, the software to drop bombs is so buggy it’ll be 2020 before it is fixed. You can’t fly it in the desert as it reacts poorly to warm fuel. Which is great considering where wars are being fought.

        Don’t fly it 20km near a thunderstorm. It’ll explode if hit by lightning. The ejection seat is lethal to pilots who weigh under a certain amount, and not that it is much better for those who meet or exceed the weight limit.

        The ship designed to hold the planes, well the flight deck can’t hold them as it is too small. Although, that is more of a ship problem.

        Apparently, the plane flies like a brick. There are many more problems with the F-35. Those are the ones I can remember.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Certainly all the indications are that it doesn’t work. Apparently the Navy have been saying they will use it as a stealth air control platform, which sounds great, but it basically means they will need another aircraft to do the actual combat. Its become a self licking ice cream – they are making up roles for it to make it look useful, hoping nobody notices it can’t do what it was designed to do.

          It has to be said though that lots of complex aircraft projects had very difficult beginnings, but turned out ok in the end, so maybe (as is claimed) they are teething problems that will be sorted out. But the suspicion has to be that the entire project was misconceived from the beginning and so can’t be rescued in a meaningful way. The decision to make a VTOL version in hindsight is idiocy – it meant the entire design was compromised because the Marines wanted a share of the action.

          And its not alone. The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship is another example of a non-cancellable project which is eating up billions of dollars to make a weapon that is less capable than the ones its supposed to replace.

          1. craazyboy

            The Marines may have ruined every major weapon system we’ve had. The Navy story for the F-35 doesn’t hold water either due to price vs. volume reasons. The majority of the price right now is “sunk” development costs, so if it was relegated to air control, you only need one or two for an entire operational area. So if you buy 5 instead of 100, the price would go up maybe 10 times. We’d have our first $4 billion airplane! Except for Donald’s Air force One, of course.

            ‘Course in our guaranteed successful world (for corporations doing biz with Uncle Sam), the guv needs to pay it, otherwise Lockheed goes bankrupt. But there we have an idea….

            1. integer

              The Marines may have ruined every major weapon system we’ve had.

              Interestingly, Kelly Johnson agreed with this sentiment:

              Kelly had a 15th rule that he passed on by word of mouth. According to the book “Skunk Works” the 15th rule is: “Starve before doing business with the damned Navy. They don’t know what the hell they want and will drive you up a wall before they break either your heart or a more exposed part of your anatomy.”

              See link for the other 14 rules.

              1. craazyboy

                Ah…that’s where the “rule” came from. I heard it passed down by upper management at places I worked in the 80s. The corollary was “VTOL is death”, and everyone knew that pipe dream came from the marines. The other corollary was “Joint Service Systems means the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines have to make up their minds. Fat Chance.”

                Course, being way down the sub-contractor tier, our concern was we’d be building prototypes forever and nothing ever makes it to production – which we needed to stay in biz.

                And now we have the Western World Standard Aircraft – the F-35. Everyone has to make up their minds…..

        2. integer

          Apparently, the plane flies like a brick.

          Once upon a time Lockheed had a guy named Kelly Johnson working for them. Those days are over and he would be spinning in his grave over the F-35.
          I’m sure Lockheed has lots of talent in the c-suite though hahaha.

    4. Jim Haygood

      Giving military pork barreling procurement a rude poke is productive. Less productive are Trump’s remarks yesterday and today:

      Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

      The president-elect ratcheted up his rhetoric Friday morning, telling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

      He’s delusional. Trump’s “nuclear fruitcake” strategy rhymes with Lyndon Johnson’s guns ‘n butter debacle — when it first became apparent after 20 years of postwar boom that the US empire was subtly corroding around the edges.

      Macroeconomic value subtraction by military spending took down the Soviet Union. It’ll work here too, comrades!

      1. craazyboy

        Well, someone needs to explain to the Donald that a nuke arms race is not the same as climbing the Forbes Billionaire List. If the world has enough already to blow us all to Kingdom Come, there is no point to making more of them.

      2. Synapsid

        Jim Haygood,

        Trump was quoting from Obama’s budget request for 2016, though I expect he didn’t know it. See today’s Water Cooler under Politics/Policy.

        “Macroeconomic value subtraction by military spending”: Nice one.

  14. diptherio

    Re: Holacracy

    Interesting. I only personally have contact with one org that uses that method, and it’s the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) in Oakland. They’re a “worker-self-directed non-profit,” and the people who work there seem to really enjoy it. However, I’m guessing that the way holacracy works in practice at SELC is considerably different than how it works (or doesn’t) at Zappos.

  15. DJG

    The indispensable Perry Anderson: The article on how Cyprus has been victimized by the UK, US of A, and Turkey is long but the details are telling. Anderson genuinely likes the Greek Cypriots–it is obvious. And his portait of Makarios is fascinating.

    The Annan V plan sounds like typical focus-group Democratic Party, Republican Party, UN nonsense. It was patently absurd, and they expected the Greek Cypriots to vote for it? It is almost as if the Clinton campaign was foreshadowed. The out-of-touchness of the elites is notable, to put it politely.

    The only solution is to get the Turkish government out of the picture and to close the British bases and return the land to Cyprus. But the U.K. is now left with only little pieces of empire, so detaching it hands from bases that it shouldn’t have is going to be tough.

    1. begob

      True. Ireland and Brexit is going to be complicated – NC’s linked politico article may be an early blast of propaganda.

  16. Jef

    The Amazon story – Throughout the history of capitalism this is exactly what is suppose to not be allowed to happen. In theory a company with enough money can under-cut and wipe out any and all business becoming a “monopoly” whereby controlling the market to their will/whim (which apparently in Amazons case keeps investors drooling at the prospect). Add onto that the fact that they don’t seem to need to be profitable and Amazon becomes an unstoppable, highly destructive monster.

    When ever I talk about this I am accused of being against progress and that this is simply inevitable and that we just need to adjust to it. BS!!!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Against progress.

      It’s not easy to survive progress.

      Too bad our schools don’t teach our kids how either. Rubbing salt in the wound, they teach them to blindly worship it.

      “The great invention in the last 10 years has been the internal combustion engine with oil as fuel.”

      “Thanks to the Green Revolution and pesticides, we can feed the world now (and lessen the need to drastically cope with the birth rate immediately).”

      But we are smarter now. We are not stupid like our parents and grandparents.

  17. polecat

    I really like today’s antidote … with the contrast between the flowers scattered amongst the gator ….

    ….. there’s a Gimm-like fairytale waiting to be told with that one image …

    1. Katharine

      I liked it a lot too but had a totally different take on it, suddenly for probably the first time in my life seeing an alligator as a sympathetic creature living its own life and enjoying it (and oh, too bad, but not really relevant that it would view me as a sort of second-rate dinner).

  18. beth

    There are new legal standards after court’s Probation decision

    I would label this IMPORTANT. It is sad when our federal government cannot give all of us the same justice no matter where we live in the USA.

  19. UserFriendly

    After seeing that guardian article I looked through “The Counted,” The Guardian’s database of police related deaths. ​I’ve been skimming through some of them (only 2016) and this is what I noticed. (I’m not even going to mention the obvious racial tilt, that is all outlined everywhere.)

    There is a lot of suicide by cop, with either a fake weapon or a real one but it was clear suicide was the aim. But, there were also plenty of times it was clear that someone was worried about a loved one committing suicide and called the police who promptly kill the person themselves.

    For 2016, only 1% of officer related deaths were women (55/1045), of those 19 were unarmed; mostly uxoricide and police related traffic accidents.

    I read through most of the 146 unarmed ones in 2016. What ever you do, don’t have a disability or mental illness while interacting with police cause that is a death sentence; A deaf guy, an autistic guy with limited speech, bipolar, and PTSD.

    ​Also, a lot more cops do go to jail than you would get the impression of by just watching the news. ​


  20. fresno dan

    As organized labor in this country has withered, an extreme individualism has stepped in as the alternative—a go-it-alone perspective narrowly focused on getting an education and becoming successful on one’s own merit. This works well for some, but for others—especially the two-thirds of Americans over the age of 25 who don’t have a bachelor’s degree—it often means getting mired in an economy of contract work, low pay, and few, if any, benefits. These prospects suggest that this is an age of diminished expectations for the working class.
    Yet there is clearly more to the despair of the working class than empty wallets and purses. Patches of the social fabric that once supported them, in good times and bad, have frayed. When asked in national surveys about the people with whom they discussed “important matters” in the past six months, those with just a high-school education or less are likelier to say no one (this percentage has risen over the years for college graduates, too). This trend is troubling, given that social isolation is linked to depression and, in turn, suicide and substance abuse.

    In Stayin’ Alive, his powerful history of the “last days” of the working class, the historian Jefferson Cowie describes how the proud blue-collar identity of previous generations disintegrated during the ’70s. “Liberty has largely been reduced to an ideology that promises economic and cultural refuge from the long arm of the state,” he writes, “while seemingly lost to history is the logic that culminated under the New Deal: that genuine freedom could only happen within a context of economic security.” As working-class solidarity receded, an identity built on racial tribalism often swept in.
    Interestingly, this link about how most jobs created under Obama (there are articles about this from March, so I don’t know why it has come out again…) were temp or contract – jobs that isolate and atomize and never lead to any social cohesion:

    Sure seems to show our freedom is the freedom to die unmolested….alone in front of the TV

    1. polecat

      But dan, don’t ya know the economy is on a tear !! /s

      Obama : the Tleilaxian Face Dancer/Mentat flunky created from genetic tissue vats of Haaavard !

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One’s family, extended family and clan are only important when, for example, to build a house, or to harvest, you need them to help you out.

      When one can become, say, a physician and make OK money, why put up with meddlesome relatives?

      I know, as my younger brother has not bothered with my parents much, after he started his career, and especially after he got married.

      Since the educational system is geared to entice you to become a professional, early on, you learn to loose that bond. Of course, you have no one to talk about important matters.

      Some people are more exceptional, lucky or something, and they can climb up the ladder, and still remember those around them from before.

    3. hunkerdown

      Jobs that never lead to social cohesion… that couldn’t have anything to do with the effective ban on socialization at work, lest we team up against the big ape and make xer cry.

      Society gets in the way of business. Those who are so bereft of every other quality they define themselves as “businesspeople” don’t like playing on other people’s terms.

  21. Plenue

    On the subject of Aleppo, seems the last militants have left East Aleppo (the last civilians left several days ago), and the Syrian army has entered the remaining districts. So it is finally, officially, over. Meanwhile in the east of the country the Syrian army held the T4 airbase and there’s been a bunch of back-and-forth with ISIS in the direction of Palmyra, and in East Ghouta the SAA is preparing a massive offensive to clear the remaining militant pockets.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Obama is really missing out, he should have a high-profile news conference and declare final victory in Aleppo. “America is a force for peace in the world and we are very pleased to see that our efforts have led to the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo. I want to personally thank all of the hardworking service men and women who have sacrificed to make this a reality”.
      Nonstop MSM coverage of the victory parade. A few wonky journals would submit articles saying “Wait, what?” but nobody would notice.

      1. Plenue

        Looks like the AQ groups massacred a hundred SAA hostages they had right before leaving though. Left the bodies lying around for the Syrian army to discover after the militants were already safely out of the city on the green buses.

  22. Portia

    now this is campaign finance reform at its best!

    “A lot of people are saying, ‘I’m not putting another fucking dime in until someone tells me what just happened.’”

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Passenger removed from flight after confrontation with Ivanka Trump Reuters. She flew commercial?”

    Not just commercial – coach. And isn’t Jetblue a cutrate airline? She doesn’t have Secret Service protection? – though they might not protect against being yelled at.

    Very odd.

    And a measure of how deranged Democrats are right now: verbally attacking a woman with her kids is not a good look, regardless of who she is.

  24. Oregoncharles

    About reindeer and Santa Claus, from the current Archdruid Report:

    ” go back several centuries, and he was the Christian figure of St. Nicholas; and before then he may have been something considerably stranger. To those who know their way around the traditions of Siberian shamanism, certainly, the conjunction of flying reindeer and an outfit colored like the famous and perilous hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria is at least suggestive. ”

    Footnote: Amanita muscaria are quite common – there’s a dried one lying on our mantle, because they’re very pretty. Watch out for beige ones, if you’re unwise enough to try the effects: that’s pantherina, vastly stronger. An acquaintance made that mistake, spent a week or so in a coma.

  25. DawnSorrow

    So I was reading that Guardian article, and this kind of stuck out to me.

    >Futurist Zoltan Istvan, founder of the Transhumanist party, disagrees.

    Yeah, that’s someone I’d trust to have a totally unbiased view of the topic. Kind of like consulting a Mormon anthropologist on the origins of the Native Americans. Lmao.

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