2:00PM Water Cooler 3/20/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


New Cold War

“FBI investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in US election” [TASS]. “The probe ‘includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,’ [FBI Director James Comey] said.”

“The FBI director also dealt the president’s credibility a blow when he said he ‘has no information that supports’ Trump’s allegation from two weeks ago that President Obama ordered surveillance [not “wiretap”?] of his communications in Trump Tower during the campaign. Only courts grant permission for electronic surveillance, Comey told lawmakers, and ‘no individual in the United States can direct electronic surveillance of anyone’ [NBC]. “Comey did not say, however, that no Trump associate was ever picked up by American surveillance. He declined to comment on anything related to surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the FBI to eavesdrop, with a court order, on people they suspect are agents of a foreign power.”

Heatlh Care

“Save the ACA” [Indivisible Guide]. Medicare for All isn’t a talking point?

Trump Transition

“Trump has proposed canceling federal government subsidies to states that house prisoners and inmates who are in the U.S. illegally. He’s not the first president to try it, and undoubtedly will get an earful from states like California” [Los Angeles Times].

“Amid the complaints about last year’s process, Democrats on Monday described themselves as taking the high road now. Meeting with Judge Gorsuch and participating in the hearing, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said, represented “a courtesy which Senate Republicans denied to Judge Garland'” [New York Times]. “Courtesy.” Dear Lord. What losers.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“While they’ve yet to prove they are capable of being any kind of a force to be reckoned with, a handful of groups that grew out of the Sanders movement have already begun issuing primary threats against Democratic incumbents” [NBC]. Splendid!

UPDATE “Election 2016” [Mike Davis, New Left Review]. I linked to this post this morning, but I want to call out this section:

The defection of white working-class Obama voters to Trump was a decisive factor mainly in a lakeshore rim of industrial counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania—Ashtabula, Lorain, Erie and so on—which are experiencing a new wave of job flight to Mexico and the Southern states. This region is the epicentre of the revolt against globalization. In other depressed areas—the coal counties of southeastern Ohio, the former anthracite belt of eastern Pennsylvania, the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia, the piedmont textile and furniture towns of the Carolinas, Appalachia in general—the pro-Republican blue-collar realignment in presidential politics (but not necessarily in local or state politics) was already the status quo.

So I’m not the only one to identify counties flipping from Obama to Trump as critical pathway to misfortune for Clinton. And now the key question:

The mass media has tended to conflate these older and newer strata of ‘lost Democrats’, thus magnifying Trump’s achievement. A fifth of Trump voters—that is to say, approximately 12 million Americans—reported an unfavourable attitude toward him. No wonder the polls got it so wrong. ‘There is no precedent’, wrote the Washington Post, ‘for a candidate winning the presidency with fewer voters viewing him favourably, or looking forward to his administration, than the loser.’ It will be interesting to see if a disaggregation of this segment of the Trump vote is possible.

This “disaggregation” could already be happening:

The reason? I’m guessing the awful Republican health care plan. And while the Democrat Establishment is yammering about saving the ACA, Sanders is out selling universal health care in West Virginia. Successfully!

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, February 2017: “Led by employment and including strength for production, February was a good month for the economy. The national activity index rose to 0.34 vs a revised minus 0.2 in January, lifting the 3-month average to a 2-year high at plus 0.25: [Econoday]. But and: “The single month index which is not used for economic forecasting which unfortunately is what the CFNAI headlines. Economic predictions are based on the 3 month moving average. The single month index historically is very noisy and the 3 month moving average would be the way to view this index in any event” [Econintersect]. “In the table, see the three month rolling average for the last 6 months – it had been staying within a very tight range – but this month it broke through the ranges and now is very positive.”

Retail: “We went to Starbucks every day for a week to see how the coffee giant is dealing with its biggest problem” [Business Insider]. Interesting in that Starbucks management seems to have no idea at all how its stores operate. (And I confess I rather like Starbucks, at least in Manhattan; the baristas always have great Manhattanite elan.)

IT: “IBM launches enterprise-ready blockchain service [Reuters]. So I guess in this context, blockchain doesn’t have to scale?

Debt: “Say Hello to $3 Trillion in Forgotten Debt” [Bloomberg]. “Companies have been on a borrowing binge, but you wouldn’t always know the full scale of their liabilities by looking at the balance sheet. This makes it hard for investors to compare businesses that fund their activities in different ways. Happily though, that’s about to change.How come? The answer is buried in the notes to financial statements (you know, the ones you don’t bother reading). It’s here that companies have parked about $3 trillion in operating lease obligations, according to Bloomberg data.”

Rapture Index: Unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 182.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 45, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 20 at 1:11pm. Eew. Heading toward fear.

The 420

“Vaping etiquette: How to tackle the social minefield” [BBC]. News you can use!


“Massive Tijuana sewage spill that polluted San Diego beaches part of larger problem” [Los Angeles Times]. Best headline ever!


“Can California Achieve Universal Health Care in the Age of Trump?” [The Nation]. ” That brings us to Newsom’s pitch, modeled on a program called Healthy San Francisco, which was instituted in 2007 when he was mayor. This is not single-payer health insurance, but it would guarantee universal access to health care. It’s a kind of hybrid between the managed-care craze of the 1990s and the socialized medicine of Britain’s National Health Service…. the universal-care idea differs from the single-payer approach that even Newsom’s supporters prefer. It’s certainly easier to find the money to fill in the cracks of the current system than it is to overhaul it. But what if those cracks become gaping holes?”

“Medicaid is out of control. Here’s how to fix it.” [Robert J. Samuelson, WaPo]. I find the Democrat silence on capping Medicaid deafening.

Class Warfare

“A global report on happiness devoted an entire chapter to misery in America” [Quartz]. “Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University and one of the report’s lead authors, argues in the chapter that much of US policy directed at solving economic problems misses the point. … [S}urvey respondents place[d] themselves on a 10-rung ladder to assess their own happiness. The top rung represents the best possible life they could be having, and the bottom rung represents the worst. Since this measure was first taken, in 2007, American happiness has declined 7%. The report breaks that fall down into six indicators. Two have got better: income per capita and healthy life expectancy. But the other four have all gotten worse. Fewer people said they felt free enough to choose what they do with their lives. Fewer said they had someone to count on in times of trouble. People were less generous, as measured by donations to charity. And they perceived politicians as more corrupt.”

“The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is past its sell-by date? Neoliberalism is not, after all, just a set of policies that can be discontinued and replaced with something else — neoliberal capitalism has birthed a complex global economy that isn’t going to change overnight. Moreover, neoliberalism is also an encompassing set of orienting ideas that pervades all spheres of life; its core ethos of faith in private enterprise, ever-expanding commodification, and bootstrap individualism remains robust” [Jacobin], “The politics that prevail in America will determine whether the transition from neoliberal capitalism to something else is a step forward or a descent into hell.” Yep.

UPDATE “Too Frightened to Change a Hated Order” [Perry Anderson, The Nation]. ” For anti-systemic movements of the left in Europe, the lesson of recent years is clear. If they are not to go on being outpaced by movements of the right, they cannot afford to be less radical in attacking the system, and must be more coherent in their opposition to it. That means facing the probability that the EU is now so path-dependent as a neoliberal construction that reform of it is no longer seriously conceivable.” And the United States?

News of the Wired

“How the internet found a better way to prove you’re not a robot” [Business Insider]. A Google service: “The new, ‘invisible reCaptcha’ aims to tell whether a given visitor is a robot or not purely by analysing their browsing behaviour. Barring a short wait while the system does its job, a typical human visitor shouldn’t have to do anything else to prove they’re not a robot.”

“I Am A Number. Am I Prime?” [SwaraJaya].

“Stop saying DeepCoder steals code from StackOverflow” [Smerity]. I’ve placed these in order of increasing technical difficulty…

One last farewell:

“‘Life is Easier With Guilt’ Public Information Campaign” [Scarfolk Council]. Enjoy! Ha ha.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (PM):

PM writes: “Iceland Moss Lichen (Cetraria islandica). Used in Icelandic Schnapps. Had shot of this tonight at a dinner party..
Tastes and smells like a cross between Angostura and Raicilla.”

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Gary

      The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

      I think I saw that in a fortune cookie or something…

    2. nobody

      “In silent testimony to his power and reach was his Rolodex, a catalog of some 150,000 names of people he had met as a banker-statesman. It required a room of its own beside his office. Spread out below that corporate aerie was a city…”

      Picture the earth as a pear
      or breast.
      Between such fruits and death
      survives an engineering trick:
      New York,
      Call it a city on four legs
      heading for murder
      while the drowned already moan
      in the distance.
      New York is a woman
      holding, according to history,
      a rag called liberty with one hand
      and strangling the earth with the other.


      1. wilroncanada

        So that’s where NSA got its idea of tracking everybody, and putting all the information in a giant silo.

  1. tgs

    Congressman Castro, D Texas, asks ‘Do oligarchs and rich folks have influence at the Kremlin?’ Rogers and Comey reply ‘Yes’.

    Shocking! I am glad I don’t live in a country where the rich have more political power and and influence.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wow. See he added “folks,” so you know he’s a simple dude on the side of the Merican people.

      Do the Congressmen even read the questions ahead of time or are they just this stupid? I get they are trying to deflect from the SS Titanic…Hillary, but lesson one of the Clinton campaign was outrage over Hillary being bought. You would think they would down play it.

      1. TrixiefromDixie

        I had to turn it off…. I had my intelligence insulted listening to our so called “Intelligence” committee. The select committee on intelligence that is…. what an oxymoron.

        1. Art Eclectic

          Our government is comprised of the same level of people who shop at your local grocery store. Which is to say, half of them are below average intelligence. That ratio doesn’t change just because they get elected.

  2. justanotherprogressive

    OT but could possibly be filed under Wired:
    NOVA dumped a lot more of its videos on Youtube today – search PBS NOVA, so now you can probably find your favorite episodes for free and are no longer condemned to either paying for the PBS Passport or Amazon Prime….

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    And while the Democrat Establishment is yammering about saving the ACA, Sanders is out selling universal health care in West Virginia. Successfully!

    Fortune helps those who help themselves…or something like that.

    Universal health care sells itself, and we can help, as well, by doing our part selling it.

  4. Portia

    Re “happiness” poll

    Two have got better: income per capita and healthy life expectancy.

    Huh? who were they talking to?

    1. Steve H.

      Ah, H-3 is a newer metric, and measures only those who still have hope. You’re thinking of H-6. H-5 eliminates those unhappy for economic reasons, while H-3 also eliminates the discouraged and marginalized.

      (I was trying to /sarc, but then I remembered that Seligman got thirty-one thousand big ones in his no-bid contract for ‘learned happiness.’

      Then I noticed it was Sachs. Then I looked up the instrument (Cantril ladder) and it doesn’t address what his findings state. Then this from the article: “Finally, a massive increase in the gap between rich and poor partly explains how wealth has continued to rise while happiness declined.” So I looked at the report, in which the comparison is between 2005/6 and 2015/16 on gdp per capita. The report looks like it is playing fast and loose with its scales. But I’m done looking now.)

      1. Rhondda

        Seligman. Not learned happiness. Learned helplessness.
        Interestingly, nearly the first meet Cheney had after 9/11 was at Seligman’s home– with the torture boyz.
        Saw that in the NYT back in the day.

        1. Steve H.

          They rebranded after it came out that learned helplessness techniques were being used for interrogation – see the linked article.

  5. Ed

    I just spoke to an aide in Bernie Sanders’ D.C. office who said Bernie is working on a single-payer health care bill to introduce in the Senate.

    Perhaps some Democrats in the Senate will wake up and co-sponsor it after it is introduced in a press conference.

    John Conyers’ H.R. 676 Medicare for All has a few (too few) co-sponsors in the House.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The most popular politician in America is the guy who filibustered the Obama effort to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy over the Christmas season when no one watches. The people who betrayed their voters lost to a game show host and casino operator.

      It’s not that the Democrats don’t get it. They don’t care.

      1. Arizona Slim

        The Fili-Bernie? I remember that. It drew so many TV viewers that the Obama administration just HAD to upstage it with one of Barack’s rare press conferences.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          You know Obama is still griping about it.

          The smart politics was to extend unpopular, Bush tax cuts after humiliating losses so the Republicans wouldn’t have to do it themselves. Sanders would have lost this last election because he doesn’t understand politics. Folk likes Hillary. They understand politics.

          Needless to say, this was my Obama is completely irredeemable moment. I never liked him much, but jeefuz, this was just a perfect storm of incompetence. Oh and Obama cracked do he whip on the Democratic caucus when he needed to.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            My “irredeemable” moment came before the inauguration when he appointed ‘Lil Timmy Geithner to head Treasury…the very man who was asleep at the switch at the NY Fed as the crisis grew. I knew the fix was in.
            As a lifelong Dem It was an extremely unpopular view at the time…and everything for 8 years thereafter confirmed my judgement.
            My crystal ball right now says we will have President Pence within 18 months.

          2. different clue

            Incompetence? There was no incompetence. Obama was conspiring with Boehner, McConnell and all the key Democrats right from the start to deliberately and on purpose make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. Deliberately and on purpose.

            It was part of what he expects to be rewarded handsomely for after having left office.

            1. John A

              It was part of what he expects to be rewarded handsomely for after having left office.

              Like a 60 million advance for his ‘memoirs’. In dear old Britain, the man who wreaked the economy as finance minister and missed every target he set himself, is still an elected parliarmentary representative, plus now editor of the only London evening paper (having literally no journalist experience) and an advisor to Blackrock. His rewards from the 1% keep on coming.

          3. Carolinian

            Perhaps his ‘legacy’ will be a historical reputation as one of the biggest phonies ever to become president. Trump is positively heartfelt by comparison.

  6. Baby Gerald

    Great call on the Scarfolk Council. The utter cynicism delivered with a British government public-service announcement aesthetic is a wonder to behold.

  7. Altandmain

    Anyone see the latest Snowden interview between Jeremy Scahill?

    Chris Hedges’ take on Trump’s new budget:

    Interesting in that Starbucks management seems to have no idea at all how its stores operate. (And I confess I rather like Starbucks, at least in Manhattan; the baristas always have great Manhattanite elan.)

    Lambert, you might want to look at these answers:

    Starbuck’s genius was in marketing – kind of like Apple in a way.

      1. jrs

        if you care about the taste of your caffeine delivery system, but often people care no more about that than the taste of their alcohol or nicotine delivery system, nor do they want to (and at least compared to nicotine, caffeine is relatively harmless). It’s about fulfilling the purpose of the stimulant.

        1. Portia

          I like my coffee black and plain, and great-tasting café is basically a treat, so it seems a waste to get coffee that is treated badly, that’s all. I’m not doing it to get hopped up and wired–I could just pop a cheap caffeine pill for that.

    1. alex morfesis

      Ah…coffee…the original meth for eastern orthodox monks in ethiopia, snuck across borders over the course of a thousand years, to now be this wondrous “process”…itsa bunch a leaves and nuts…but marketing is everything…which was perhaps the point lamberto was presenting…it is the “experience” of the eyes and ear…not the tongue…at least for most…

      starbuxxx is the new public commons, a reminder for many, when sitting on a campus floor, trying to figure out life, was the genesis of essence…

      but, if you want to be a coffee snob, that’s ok too, if that is your essence…but its just a bean…a profitable bean…as leo castelli, the art aficionado, was able to got his start in life as his father married into the trieste castelli family of coffee importers…(sister of moi’z first wife was a castelli girl)

    2. Lee

      On the NPR radio station KQED (SF bay area) a discussion with Snowden and Elllsberg will be broadcast Tuesday at 7pm west coast time. Unfortunately the program, City Arts and Lectures doesn’t provide an online archive so if you want to listen to it you will have to do so at the time of broadcast. It will be rebroadcast at 2am Wednesday.

    3. human

      I find that middle-management as a whole has little idea how their enterprises operate at the ground floor. I seem to recall that recently the Chessie System was going to let go 1000 middle-management positions. Can’t be too soon, in my mind, to begin to remake good corporate governance.

      1. JTFaraday

        I actually have tremendous sympathy for middle management. They may not know every detail of everything that goes on under their purview– nor should they have to– but in my experience they are under tremendous pressure from above to crackdown on the peons they work with everyday, with negligible benefit to themselves.

        It’s a terrible place to be psychologically. Most of the genuine workplace sociopaths I’ve known weren’t in middle management. I’m sure there are some somewhere.

    4. JustAnObserver

      Still remember with sorrow when Seattle Coffee Company sold out to Starbucks. Didn’t take long before I saw “crappification” consciously in action for the first time. Just didn’t have the word for it yet. Love to know who first came up with it since its a perfect expression of disgust in pseudo-credentialist language.

      1. different clue

        Unless someone can find an earlier usage, Lambert Strether may have been the inventor. If he got it from somewhere else, perhaps he will tell us.

    5. Yves Smith

      The one coffee shop (and there are 4 others that are not Starbucks) in my ‘hood that made a good espresso closed. The others make espresso that is bad too, just in different ways than Starbucks. So as much as I’m not keen about Starbucks, I often wind up there because they serve customers faster (one of the other places has ‘tude, the staff regularly makes a point of doing stuff that could wait while there are lines).

      1. Carl

        I find when I order something milk-based, like a macchiato, at a “real” coffee place, barista has to ask something like, “you know this is a traditional macchiato, right?” By which he means, it’s not full of sugar and whipped cream like the Starbucks version.

    1. Cujo359

      Great link. Definitely worth a read.

      I’m not sure that “charrettes” are the answer the author thinks they are, but they are the sort of thing that have a better chance of working. The important thing is that people who have prejudices about each other have to work together for something they all think is important. That’s no guarantee, of course. For instance, if Ellis and Atwater hadn’t been made co-chairs, it looks highly unlikely that they would have gotten over their prejudices about each other.

      I still think that one of the main things that keep us apart is that we tend to live apart – whites, blacks, latinos, and asians, each in their own communities. That’s how it was in Ferguson, MO, and it’s how it is where I grew up in eastern PA. Anything that makes us interact more with others not like ourselves has a chance to bring us together.

  8. alex morfesis

    Google tries to talk its way out the fake “fake news” dust up with advertisers and agencies using less than 1 million in ad dollars on “hate” websites and videos to explain the “reviewing” of advert options with google and youtube…


    dear sillycone valley…

    you can’t make more profits by replacing humans with algoze and pocketing the difference…software robots have never been able to make it work, no matter what all the legacy spy software now released from “classification” might feel like in a closed room…

    you create profits by creating value…

    when you start going to the algoze, those who read footnotes and begin reading the 10q from the back to the front figure out you have run out of ideas…

  9. Lee

    The reason [for Trump’s spiking disapproval rating]? I’m guessing the awful Republican health care plan. And while the Democrat Establishment is yammering about saving the ACA, Sanders is out selling universal health care in West Virginia. Successfully!

    Surely, Trump and/or the Congressional Republicans will suffer electorally should the current proposed ACA replacement plan become law. Meanwhile, the best the Dems can do is promote a plan that already cost them dearly at the polls. Fucking pathetic.

    1. Irredeemable Deplorable

      The Gallup poll is garbage. No breakdown of demographics or where it was taken was provided, and they still have not, after requests = #fakepoll from a #fakepolling outlet.

      The Politico poll from last week had Pres. Trump at 52%, and they over-sampled Democrats and women.

      But by all means, place your faith in Gallup, after all, they called the election so accurately.. Uh, wait…..

  10. JTMcPhee

    Today’s happy news: On a whim, I went off looking for stuff on oceanography. And after reading a few articles, added “looting” to the search, and came up with this little assortment that adds to my conviction that the only way out is down:

    Doug Bandow. the Cato Institute, Winter 1982

    The world’s oceans have played a vital role in the development of virtually every nation. They provide the transportation network that binds us together through trade; they yield much of the food that
    feeds us; and they act as laboratories for scientific research. They also contain the natural resources that can help sustain and encourage economic development in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the development of the mineral resources of the seabed is considered more problematical today than was thought to be the case even two years ago. If we cannot surmount the technical, economic, and legal barriers to the development of these resources, we will have lost an important opportunity to enhance the economic well-being of people all over the world.

    That piece goes on with a litany of all the lootable resources on and under the seabed, and encouragements to hurry up and do the science and engineering to get at and reduce to ownership all that “wealth.”

    To assist, various players are applying GIS skills to carefully laying out the grids (given authority by something like the ISDS supra-national structure) to mark out and divvy up the loot. And There’s this wishful and yet scary piece (for its assumptions about what happens next) from The Ocean Foundation (which sounds a little greenwashy, https://www.oceanfdn.org/our-story/about-us):

    Seabed Mining (SBM) is an experimental industrial field which involves extracting submerged minerals and deposits from the sea floor. There are interests both for and against seabed mining, however, the science around the environmental impact of SBM is incomplete and unproven. In addition, there is also new interest to explore Deep Sea Mining (DSM), which requires intensive, destructive processes to retrieve deposits laid down over thousands of years around underwater hot springs or hydrothermal vents in the ocean.

    Although the distinction between shallow-water mining and Deep Sea Mining (DSM) is not formally demarcated, an emerging consensus says that DSM is the removal of minerals from seabeds deeper than 500 meters. Under that definition, DSM does not yet exist. Its first incarnation will most likely occur off the coast of Papua New Guinea in late 2017 / early 2018 when the Nautilus Minerals Inc. seeks to remove gold and copper from inactive hydrothermal vent zones at depths between 1000 and 1500 meters.

    The Nautilus venture will take place within the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of a nation state. However, most of the marine deposits of minerals prized by world markets are found beyond the EEZs, on the seabeds of the High Seas. The exploration and exploitation of these High Seas mineral deposits is governed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) under authority conferred by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ISA has awarded TK exclusive Exploration Contracts to member nations seeking to inventory mineral deposits and assess their commercial potential within a defined area. In theory, holders of Exploration Contracts would later seek Exploitation Contracts to conduct mining operations. That has not yet happened, largely because world prices have not risen high enough to justify the considerable costs.

    Spurred by the Nautilus example and by advances in deep-sea technologies, ISA member-states have directed the ISA Secretariat to hasten the drafting of environmental regulations that would govern Exploitation Contracts. It is expected that the Secretariat’s final draft of a regulatory code will be presented not earlier than 2017, with formal approval by the ISA Assembly not earlier than 2018.

    The drafting of ISA Exploitation Contract regulations is regarded as a crucial exercise, both by would-be exploiters and by marine conservationists. The final regulations will govern all seabed mining in the High Seas. But it will also affect EEZ seabeds, since UNCLOS requires its signatory states to govern their seabeds in accordance with ISA standards. The next half-decade therefore presents a unique opportunity in human affairs: a chance to devise a regulatory regime to govern an important extractive industry before it begins. https://www.oceanfdn.org/resources/seabed-mining Yah, that’s goona work out just fine, now isn’t it? But we mopes can be assured that it is gonna happen, to feed our pre-Soylent preferences and demands.

    It seems a taste for sashimi and other proteins is leading to demolition of fish populations for short-term profits, https://www.revealnews.org/article/behind-the-story-life-on-the-edge-looting-the-seas/ , no big surprise. But I am heartened that a few-forward-looking power players are considering such wise and honorable notions as “individually transferable quotas,” as part of a “rights-based management strategy” for allocation, exploration and exploitation of what’s left of unexploited “nature.” Wise people will do the allocation, I guess: https://www.oceanfdn.org/resources/rights-based-management

    Very comforting. I expect I won’t be around to see the implementation… Just as well.

    1. KurtisMayfield

      It’s almost as if science fiction already explored this. Oh yes Capt. Roy Schneider in seaQuest DSV. The best part is that we are right on schedule, the show was set in 2018.

      All snark aside, we might see someone strap a rocket to an asteroid and push it down the gravity well towards Earth first.

          1. Oregoncharles

            And if they miscalculate or the rockets are just a little off?

            Talk about a lawsuit; what do you pay for most of the world?

      1. fajensen

        Peter Watts, writes about this and what it really means to be living in “The Best Possible World*” in the novels “Starfish”, “Maelstrom” and “Behemoth”.

        *) With the disclaimer that all alternatives are crap, outcomes bing carefully managed and picked by corporations, who loot and pillage like always.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Oh, God no. Doesn’t anyone remember the story of Howard Hughes and the Glomar Explorer? Look up Project Azorian if you don’t. Looks like the Cato Institute bought into that story hook, line, and sinker, and wasn’t willing to give it up even when it was exposed. And it looks like yet another set of idiots has bought into this…..or maybe the CIA has another Russian sub it wants lifted……I’m sure they will call it Project Nautilus……

  11. Propertius

    The new, ‘invisible reCaptcha’ aims to tell whether a given visitor is a robot or not purely by analysing their browsing behaviour.

    Interesting. I run a search-fuzzer on all the major search engines in background. Thus far, this has not proved “robotic” enough to trip the reCaptcha algorithm.

    Obviously, I need to increase the frequency.

    1. KurtisMayfield

      If I keep searching for Nigerian prince scams and porn, can I convince Google that I am not human??

    2. craazyman

      Maybe we’d find that lots of people we thought were people are actually robots.

      But they’ll never tell.

      I suspect maybe 40% to 50% of the population are robots. It may be closer to 90% in corporate offices and in DeeCee — not that there’s a difference!

      I still remember the android in Bladerunner. But I can’t remember the plot. I think she was a robot who thought she was human. I think she even cried. I don’t know man, women will have to step up their game if android robots get that hot — she was a hot android that’s for sure! No more primadonna-women’s-studies-feminist-critical-theory-fauxacademic-foo-foo after the hot androids start getting made in 3D printers. It might be lights out for ladies who don’t get with the program. That is, unless they make their own men androids. Maybe the androids will tell human’s to go fkk yourselfs. Oh well, Not that we can’t do that if we have to. LOL.

      Does anybody have any deep thoughts or is it all yada yada still here in the Peanut Gallery. I mean Oy Vey how much yada can anybody take. Evidently a lot. Deep thoughts are, frankly, like fine wine. You don’t necessarily want them every day. The 3-buck chuck is OK for drinking easy not hard.

      1. Carolinian

        Later she was a hot mermaid in Splash.

        As for Deep Thoughts, we are hoarding them for the next Putin outrage.

  12. steelhead23

    Your opening sentence was, I believe, unintentionally ironic. “The FBI director also dealt the president’s credibility a blow.” Yeah, sort of like torpedoing the stricken Titanic.

  13. Stormcrow

    Moon of Alabama has a strong article up today that will probably be picked up here tomorrow in either Links or Water Cooler. I hope it is not amiss to call attention to it now. It captures what I regard as the essence of our current political malaise. It relates to the heading of “Realignment and Legitimacy.” Well worth reading, in my opinion. The effort to delegitimize Trump proceeds apace.

    I get that Trump is implementing many catastrophic policies. That is of course very important, but not the whole story. I also worry about a soft coup.

    The False Handshake Story Aims To Delegitimize Trump
    March 20, 2017

    1. Synoia

      A president Pence would likely be even more devastating to domestic liberal aims than Trump. His foreign policy would be more hawkish.

      Is that last point the feature, not the bug, that drives the anti-Trump campaign?

      I hope that is a rhetorical question. It is clear from the Russian Blame game that Hillary, and the deep state, appear to want a war with Russia.

      An armored division or brigade sent to Poland.

      A massive “training exercise” in Ukraine.

      Continual warmongering about “Russian Threats”

      And the curious behavior of senior Russian spontaneously officials dropping dead, and littering up the landscape.

      Why would they want a war with Russia? Could it be that “When in trouble at home, go adventuring abroad” is the strategy, accompanied by control Russian mineral resources in a coming era of scarcity?

      Not to mention all the ground in Russia, far away from the sea, somewhat cold, and well above sea level, perfectly placed both for an oligarch’s new climate change avoiding compound, and a long term real estate peculation?

      No, I’m positive my speculation is none of the above. Right?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Since I believe this is a fascist country and Hitler and Goering are simply having a spat, I would note fascists are confronted by enemies who are both all powerful and primitive at the same time. Islamic terrorists aren’t causing panic the way they used to.

        Then of course for Team Blue (and the media too), there is the need to find a party at fault for Hillary. After all, how could have the most experienced and qualified candidates in history of ever lost…again? The Democrats touted Hillary’s horrid foreign policy experience and swore she was electable when she clearly wasn’t. The wife of a lousy President who received the lowest black turnout since the 1950’s when the party is dependent on massive black turnout. All of these Democrats have their eyes set on statewide or higher offices, and given the way the elections were going, being a Hillary backer won’t help in primaries or generate enthusiasm statewide going forward. Don’t underestimate what the election has done to the ambitions of everyone in Washington, so the will look for an enemy. This is about careers, and Democrats not receiving cabinet appointments. Once the pink hats go home. The same decrepit party will remain full of people who were promised funding for state parties. Hillary promised to make it rain to every state committee member, and those morons believed her. They attacked the future of the party and aren’t popular with young people anymore. They can blame themselves or a foreign menace.

        The questions from Democrats were so bizarre. The GOP is always insane, but the Dems were astounded the Russian ambassador works on behalf of Russia.

        1. different clue

          The only way that being associated with Clinton will hurt someone’s career in politics is if all the relevant maybe-voters know every detail of how that someone is associated with Clinton.
          A lot of purging and burning could be achieved by just creating and maintaining user-friendly and eyeball-easy databases on all of Bill and Hillary’s allies and servants and associates.

      2. Carolinian

        As Lambert said the other day if Hillary had won we’d probably already be at war with Syria if not Russia.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        The neocons don’t want war with Russia as much as they are worried about a renewed 150 million Russian Federation which makes China a less dangerous partner for smaller states. Replacing the U.S. with China doesn’t make sense because the Chinese will crush a small state through sheer size. Countries accept U.S. domination because of distance and the post WW2 realities, but the arrangement is clearly not working as advertised as can be seen by the F35.

        Russia is too small to dominate or replace the U.S. everywhere, but it can serve as a reliable counterweight to China. Countries such as Iran and Turkey (Egypt) might decide it’s time to find new partners. South Americans would love to be rid of USians, but not at the cost of changing one power for another.

        Obama didn’t come up with his Asian pivot on his own. TPP was meant to freeze out China because China can offer what the U.S. does, but would you let China simply replace the U.S.? The neocons wanted to embarrass China as if the Chinese were oblivious to brilliant the American chicanery.

    2. fresno dan

      March 20, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks for that Stormcrow. I peruse the MSM just to stay current on the zeitgeist. On the one hand, it would seem a trivial matter. On the other hand, it points out that “point of view and bias” that affects the media and well, everyone. When “Moon of Alabama” argues against their own viewpoint (i.e., left point of view) it shows that there is a bias in the media. The problem isn’t so much that people have biases, its that it is such a uniform and apparently coordinated bias. Why was this kerfuffle so widely reported in the MSM, when it certainly seems that very little research would so debunk it?

    3. Ernesto Lyon

      Well Russia has put military units right up against the NATO’s border. How much more aggressive can they get?


        1. different clue

          Ernesto Lyon put a winky smilemoticon at the bottom of his comment. I think that meant he was joking. The fact that it was missed just goes to show the hazards of trying to be funny or sarcastic or any such thing in a comment.

  14. gonzomarx

    I really enjoy Scarfolk Council’s useful public information service. (they have the style spot on for 70/80s)

  15. different clue

    If Starbucks wants to solve the bottleneck problem caused by mobile ordering, all Starbucks has to do is to drop the mobile ordering program. No more remote phone-in dogpiling. No more “two pounds of sand through a one pound hourglass” problems.

    Mobile ordering giving you problems? Get rid of the mobile ordering to get rid of the problems. No mobile ordering, no problems.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      You have a clue. Starbucks probably wants a government crony solution. Like the health insurance companies ;-( They should realize they have peaked, and need to sell out to that Nigerian prince … while scampering away to the Caymans with their lucre.

    2. MoiAussie

      The solution is obvious if you truly grok the gig economy. As a first step, mobile orders will be farmed out to drive-thru capable outlets with excess barista capacity by highly tuned predictive AI algorithms. Nearby uber drivers will swing by the outlets to pickup and deliver your order in return for a few pennies commission, with minimal disruption to the chauffering experience of their passengers. In some locations, independent logistics providers will compete in-store via Dutch Auctions for the right to collect your order from pickup and drone deliver it direct to your location. Starbucks Subscribers will also enjoy the benefits of the AI-enhanced “Just when You Need It” program that will learn to initiate your order automagically without you having to lift a finger (unless you succeed in navigating the opt out process).

      As the next step in its ongoing Client Experience Perfection Program, Starbucks will join with Amazon to localize its growing cohort of Coffee Perfectionistas (independent barista partners) at Amazon order fulfillment infrastructure sites. This will allow them to focus completely in a minimally distracting environment on what they do best – creating perfect coffees – while further facilitating the logistics and customer value creation of “Just when You Need It” order delivery.

      1. different clue

        its enough to drive millions of people to pre-make their own coffee at home before leaving the house to start their day . . . . and take it with them in some kind of thermos.

  16. Synoia

    Too Frightened to Change a Hated Order

    As discussed on NC, there is no abrupt, nor gradual, exit from the Euro Zone. In addition there is every sign of a hardening of German self-righteousness.

    As a digression:

    I will disclose, having been a consumer of German Engineering, for reasons reliability I now have the attitude “No More German Cars,” and I enforce this with a determination not to take the car to the dealer for service ever again where I personally have come to know the service people by name. aka: You want a German Car? You take it to the dealer at 6:30 am for its monthly repair.

    End digression

    The result will be violent, a rebellion against German Hegemony, followed by a German directed occupation of the areas in Revolt.

    Historically, a large or unified Germany has resulted in war. The reasons are clear to see: A lack of flexibility, no sympathy for others, blaming the victims (such as Greek Citizens), and a degree of Arrogance (Demonstrated by Wolfgang Schauble), drive the process of revolt.

    Revolutions happen when the middle class, the managerial class, have nothing to lose. The working class is always suppressed. The danger to the ruling class come when people who can manage a revolution become dispossessed, and loss of position, assets or home is no longer an issue.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chuck Berry.

    ‘Go Johnny, go.’ The wonderful interstellar letter to #ChuckBerry on his 60th birthday from #CarlSagan & Ann Druyan

    What if the space aliens don’t find the cacophony (from their taste point of view of course) friendly?

    Will they launch an invasion thinking it’s a challenge from us?

    I mean, we are assuming what humans like today will be popular among humans forever, and space aliens, when they encounter it, won’t find it offensive.

    1. Massinissa

      Don’t worry about getting invaded just yet. Chances are, if aliens actually find that thing, we will be long gone as a species.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. “I Am A Number. Am I Prime?” [SwaraJaya]” — Note however that in the case of the AKS algorithm, conceptual simplicity has not translated into practical usefulness. Wikipedia (italics theirs, not mine):

    While the [AKS] algorithm is of immense theoretical importance, it is not used in practice. For 64-bit inputs, the Baillie–PSW primality test is deterministic and runs many orders of magnitude faster. For larger inputs, the performance of the (also unconditionally correct) ECPP and APR tests is far superior to AKS. Additionally, ECPP can output a primality certificate that allows independent and rapid verification of the results, which is not possible with the AKS algorithm.

  19. ewmayer

    Alas, the above-fubared italics *were* mine – let’s try that again:

    While the [AKS] algorithm is of immense theoretical importance, it is not used in practice. For 64-bit inputs, the Baillie–PSW primality test is deterministic and runs many orders of magnitude faster. For larger inputs, the performance of the (also unconditionally correct) ECPP and APR tests is far superior to AKS. Additionally, ECPP can output a primality certificate that allows independent and rapid verification of the results, which is not possible with the AKS algorithm.

  20. HotFlash

    “Trump has proposed canceling federal government subsidies to states that house prisoners and inmates who are in the U.S. illegally …”

    Fine. California, etc. can send them to DC.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe the US will set up an embassy in Sacramento and Gov. Brown can ship them all there.

      “Inside this compound, it’s sovereign American territory.”

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