Links 3/14/17

“Some Of The Trumps Are Fake,” By Donald Trump Paul Bibeau

Thailand lays out buffet for elephants in national celebration Reuters (furzy)

Oh, Great, More Than One Country Has Radioactive Boars Foreign Policy (resilc)

The controversial origin of a symbol of the American west PhysOrg. Chuck L: “They’ve been here a lot longer than the native Americans. Let alone we Gringos.”

Born killers: French army grooms eagles to down drones RFI (furzy)

Where Eagles Dare: French military using winged warriors to hunt down rogue drones Fox News. Furzy: “​I’m not thrilled by this use of such magnificent critters, but if it saves human lives…..​”

Humans to blame for bulk of Arctic sea ice loss: study PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Explaining a ‘once-in-a-billion-year event’: A perfect storm of fire and ice may have led to snowball Earth PhysOrg (Chuck L)

PIOMAS March 2017 Arctic Sea Ice Blog. Chuck L: “Arctic Sea Ice Volume still on track for lowest winter maximum since detailed records began began to be kept. 1979, IIRC.”

Understanding the uses of grid level energy storage MacroBusiness

Your Doctor App Could Amplify Your Health Anxieties MIT Technology Review (J-LS)

South Korea’s protest culture gets results, but a political scientist says it’s “a sign of political dysfunction” Quartz (resilc)


Brexit bill: Parliament clears way for talks with EU BBC

Sturgeon ambushes May with second referendum plan The Times

Populists seize the moment as Dutch fall out of love with EU Financial Times

The Latest: Turkey imposes sanctions on the Netherlands Associated Press. Note Macron went to London not just to campaign to French expats (one suspects in banking) but to raise money from them! So the visit, at least on the surface (I’m late to this row) does seem to be based on precedent.

EU, NATO plead for calm as feud with Turkey escalates Politico

Turkey targets Dutch with diplomatic sanctions as ‘Nazi’ row escalates Reuters


Could France’s Marine Le Pen deliver Frexit? Financial Times

New Cold War

Adversarial Relationship With Russia Result of Decades of US Provocation Real News Network. Wilkerson goes off the official script again!

Former US Diplomats Warn Russia Hysteria Undermining US Interests Antiwar (resilc)


Exclusive: Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role – sources Reuters (furzy)

Trump’s Yemen Policy Serves Saudi Royals Better Than Americans Atlantic (resilc)

Where is Leyla, Mr. Erdogan? failed evolution

The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan New York Times (resilc)

Is Russia trying to take back over Libya from NATO, Radicals? Juan Cole (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Why a House bill wants workers’ genetic information Christian Science Monitor (furzy). Headlines like this make me nuts. Isn’t “why” obvious by now? The “why” is the excuse “why,” not the real reason.

Canadian agency breached as hackers exploit new software bug Reuters

Trump Transition

Trump Couldn’t Buy Coverage Like This Ian Welsh (furzy)

Trump Gave CIA Power to Launch Drone Strikes Wall Street Journal

There Is No Deep State New Yorker (furzy). Readers, a critical thinking test! How many things are wrong with this article?

Canada’s Girl Guides cancel all US travel as Trump rules spark fears at border Guardian

Trump adviser Conway warns of spy microwaves ‘that turn into cameras’, then she gets roasted on social media South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Trump vs. the media: the war over facts Christian Science Monitor (furzy)

When is it OK to Overthrow a Government & Can I Be Arrested for Answering That Question? (Let’s Find Out!) John Laurits (martha r)

​The Democrats’ Dangerous Diversion Consortiumnews (Sid S)


CBO ignites firestorm with ObamaCare repeal score The Hill

Health Bill Would Add 24 Million Uninsured but Save $337 Billion, Report Says New York Times (furzy). Lambert: “God, they suck. Of course, the Times would flog the expense reduction (service cuts) as cutting the deficit.”

AARP letter in opposition to the GOP health care bill AARP (Kevin C)

Pelosi and Schumer, Price and Mulvaney on the CBO estimate on the GOP health care bill. C-SPAN. Kevin C: “16 minutes.”


Keystone XL Does Not Make Sense Anymore OilPrice

Black Injustice Tipping Point

New Ferguson video casting doubt on ‘robbery’ sparks protests BBC

Church cops? Congregation eyes its own unusual police force Associated Press (resilc)

Fake News

THE NECESSITY OF CREDIBILITY Current Affairs. We managed to miss this, but a nice shout out.

New Oil Price War Looms As The OPEC Deal Falls Short Oil Price

The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working Wall Street Journal. UserFriendly points out this is a few days ago. Nevertheless, it confirm what we and others have said for some time: that zero and negative interest rates would not lead consumers to spend more, it would tell them deflation was going to continue and they should become even better hoarders.

Why Robert Shiller Is Worried About the Trump Rally Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Stark County Coroner’s Office Uses Temporary Mobile Morgue to Store Overflow of Bodies News 5 (Carla)

Raped, beaten, exploited: the 21st-century slavery propping up Sicilian farming Guardian (resilc)

NY dropping teacher literacy test amid claims of racism Fox News (furzy)

Antidote du jour (Kim K). A Cercropia moth caterpillar from ColourLovers:

And a bonus. I can’t find who provided this so apologies for the failure to hat tip! Be sure to watch this:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. John A

    There Is No Deep State New Yorker (furzy). Readers, a critical thinking test! How many things are wrong with this article?
    Well to start with, he very conveniently jumps straight from Eisenhower to LBJ, with no mention of the president in between, JFK, who was assassinated in never fully explained circumstances, quite possible on the orders of Dulles and CIA.
    “Previous Presidents have felt resistance, or worse, from elements in the federal bureaucracies: Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex”; L.B.J. felt pressure from the Pentagon; Obama’s Syria policy was rebuked by the State Department through its “dissent channel.” ”
    A remarkable omission.

      1. ChrisPacific

        That was the most obvious thing to me. That and it begins by giving a very specific definition of ‘Deep State’ in terms of a couple of historical examples (without discussing the range of possible definitions, or even acknowledging that a range exists) then states that there isn’t one in the USA because it doesn’t match the characteristics of those examples.

        Boiled down into logical fallacy form, it goes like this:
        – This animal is a cat.
        – It is white.
        – This other animal is not white.
        – Therefore it is not a cat.

    1. JamesG

      The current editor has succeeded in ruining The New Yorker.

      He is utterly obsessed with anti-Trumpism and single-handedly in issue after issue and in daily on line postings out-Nation’s The Nation in monomaniacal hatred.

      A reader for decades, I will not be renewing.

      1. Musicismath

        Let’s not forget Remnick’s role in making the New Yorker a venue for the Jeffrey Goldberg “Saddam totally has WMDs!” fake news stories in the run up to the 2003 Iraq War. It’s had credibility issues for quite some time now.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Deep state vs the c.r.e.e.p. State…Felt, who had worked his way up to the #3 guy under hoover, was just sooooo upset about the “criminal” actions he observed the c.r.e.e.p commit…

          tragic really…considering all the ethical acts Felt must have committed to climb up the ladder and satisfy the law abiding enterprise j. Edgar was running…

          Amusing game of misdirection on the term “deep state”…have never personally connected the term in america with turkey, pakistan nor egypt…

          There are really two new york cities…the one from “central park north” to the battery, where foreigners and non native new yorkers visit and live…and the rest of the five boroughs, where the other 8 million live…

          The newyawkuh is not much read outside the tourist zone methinx…

          It is beginning to feel as this battle really is the creep state vs the deep state part deux…

          that 70’s show again…

          There has always been, in every large nation(or maybe all entities) an engrained in the daily fabric group of internal lever pullers and pulley binders whose insistence on continued relevance has perpetually resisted adjustments caused by elections or other political changes…

          To suggest America is immune is beyond pedestrian bordering on the puerile…

          this blahyorker article gets

          5 Pinochets

          (Pinocchios are for the guardians of the blob)

  2. Bill Smith

    “The Latest: Turkey imposes sanctions on the Netherlands”

    it is a crime under Turkish law for Turks to campaign / electioneer outside of Turkey. The Dutch are just helping enforce Turkish law! :)

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Is that law 4 elections of politicians ? This is a Turkish constitutional referendum…not an election…perhaps one should read the entire statute described and not just snippets of an amendment…

          Erdogan may be playing a heavy hand, but he is working through a very public vote…

          in a democracy, he (or she) who gets the most votes (electoral college too b4 the $hillz4$hillary go on offensive) wins…

          if erdogans opponents are not capable of motivating enough voters…well…so it be…

      1. Kemal Erdogan

        I am Turkish and that is true. The law that grants voting rights to expats at consulates is quite recent and was another ploy by Erdogan to inflate his votes as most Turks in Europe was considered AKP supporters. (interestingly, most Turks in North America backs social democrats)

        The law is so recent that I remember myself, it indeed bans campaigning in foreign soil. But, Turkey has long become a banana republic and laws are obeyed by AKP and Erdogan only if it helps Erdogan himself.

  3. Foppe

    On the topic of the Turkey ‘row’: apparently the legal point is that active ministers may only speak (here in NL? in all of the EU?) if they get host country permission, and this wasn’t granted. Macron got it, and wasn’t a minister any more by the time he came to England anyway. But that legal issue doesn’t really sell well in the press, so Erdogan can capitalize on it for referendum-vote purposes.

    That said, the AKP signed a law in 2008 that propaganda may not be spread abroad during election times, which strictly also covers ministers speaking to people with Turkish nationality living abroad (and turks get double nationality by default, which you can’t easily get out of legally). Not that Erdogan cares, of course — I assume the law was created to harass Kurds.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      This “row” saddens me. Obviously, both countries could have found a diplomatic solution to this issue and remained friendly. But instead, they chose confrontation and competition……this seems to be happening a lot in the world these days….

      1. Ian

        Elections in the Netherlands tomorrow, so a diplomatic solutions are off the table for now, unfortunetaly.

  4. allan

    Carlos Danger, meet Wayne Tracker:

    Rex Tillerson used Exxon Mobil email alias to discuss climate change, New York’s attorney general claims [NYDN]

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hid behind an email alias to discuss climate change issues while serving as the chief executive and chairman of Exxon Mobil, according to New York’s attorney general.

    Tillerson, who worked for the oil giant for over four decades, apparently used an email address named “Wayne Tracker” for at least seven years, a lawyer for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote in a letter addressed to New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostanger on Monday. …

    Schneiderman’s office is investigating Exxon over allegedly misleading shareholders and the public about the consequences of climate change. Lawyers for the attorney general discovered the undercover email address while scouring over 2.5 million pages of company documents provided by Exxon in response to a subpoena. …

    1. Optimader

      And so…?
      If you were to eliminate all alias email addresses from the internet we could roll the technology back to twisted pair copper and still have plenty of bandwidth headroom.
      Is it Exxons role to set global policy w/ regard to energy sources / consumption?

      It is not logical to deny “climate change”, it is a natural process re the geologic record
      Further it is not logical to consider the human species as something other than an element of nature.
      QED human behavior is a Natural process.

      Humans are not prepared to give up hydrocarbons, wether individuals understand the implication of that or not. Is that not a more fundmental issue than the supply chains position or Rex Tillersons “personal opinion”?

      1. giantsquid

        OED definition of Natural:
        1) Existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.
        ‘carrots contain a natural antiseptic’
        ‘natural disasters such as earthquakes’

        By this definition (and, I believe, in accord with common usage), human behavior would indeed be a “natural” process, at least in part, while those objects or conditions created by, or resulting from, human behavior would not be.

        1. clinical wasteman

          ‘Concise’ OED in nonsense definition shock. What do humans who make nothing, do nothing, and interact with nothing made or done by humans do all day? How many degrees back does interaction with, say, the ground, the water or the air have to go to be certified free of human intervention? And which space aliens built the lab in which this controlled experiment is conducted?

      2. Knot Galt

        1.) False identities associated with Business probably misled shareholders which affects value and earnings.
        2.) What are the roles of corporations and what responsibility do they have towards the commons and/or their consumers? Currently, I think the answer of responsibility is solely making money. Waste, pollution, serious health concerns, etc. have been legislated out of existence. Maybe when Exxon is sued for trillions of dollars more humans will become aware and prepared.
        3.) Dumping tons of industrialized left over chemicals onto the planet is not natural.
        4.) “Humans are not prepared to give up hydrocarbons” is a ‘yuge’ asinine statement. Some humans don’t use them(as much), many curtail the use of, and many others deliberating choose zero carbon footprint strategies (one of which is using computers powered by solar panels whose cost has been offset by planting trees and treating stormwater runoff) More accurately, your statement should be “American consumers who think like Ayn Rand are not prepared to give up hydrocarbons”. Sadly, that is a large cohort of the population, and fortunately, a dwindling number.

        Is your hero a Neanderthal?

        1. optimader

          Sweeping BS

          what responsibility do they have towards the commons and/or their consumers?
          Operate in conformance to existing laws. If they don’t and are not subject tto proportionate legal remedy, that’s a different problem

          Some humans don’t use them (as much), many curtail the use of, and many others deliberating choose zero carbon footprint strategies (one of which is using computers powered by solar panels whose cost has been offset by planting trees and treating stormwater runoff)

          Whimsy of individuals is not meaningful public policy.. What do you thing the keyboard you are changing the world with is made from?

          What is the cable that takes your brilliance from the computer (you apparently built with wood and dirt?) to the little nobbly hole in the wall and delivers it to the World made out of??

          many curtail the use of, and many others deliberating choose zero carbon footprint strategies

          Those “deliberating” zero carbon footprint will have to kill themselves to succeed.

          Many people apparently can’t follow the energy content of there daily lives back to the source?

          More accurately, your statement should be “American consumers who think like Ayn Rand are not prepared to give up hydrocarbons

          …and a very smooth segue to a sweeping Ad hominem Bllsht…

          You have no clue on the global energy balance.
          Whack out hydrocarbons and indeed Neanderthal society will be your societal role model.

          Back to Exxon, are they responsible for setting Global Energy policy?

          1. pretzelattack

            they’re responsible for the propaganda campaign of science denial that has hampered efforts to address it, just as the tobacco companies were responsible for extra deaths resulting from their campaign to convince the public there was no link between smoking and an increased risk of cancer.

            1. Joe

              Thanks pretzelattack….devastatingly succinct, and actually relevant to the Schneiderman/Tillerson article.

              Unlike optimader, who’s line of reasoning (attack) on the Schneiderman/Tillerson article is very much not on point, and can be boiled down to two water-muddying tangents: 1) “humans are part of nature, ergo anthropomorphic climate change is natural”, and 2) “oil is and has been very important to modern civilization”.

      3. witters

        Well, equivocation on ‘natural’. Cancer is a natural process, is it not? Leprorsy and marlaia too. If all is ‘natural’ then in this sense the claim is trivial. But is it ‘natural’ for me to get cancer rather than live my ‘natural’ life free from it? Or ‘natural’ for you to murder me for my wallett, and ‘natural’ for this to happen to me?

        1. Portia

          your predator is naturally going to tell you it’s ‘natural’ to fall prey to them. you don’t have to agree!

    1. MoiAussie

      No, it’s Paul Bibeau. He’s got a blog and he’s pushing a book for which there is doubtless a market. He may be well known to some but was new to me, so I dived in to see what he had to offer.

      I read the post and started to wonder why the link made the NC cut, so I tried to digest his recent bloggings, but had to quit after a few, feeling queasy. I usually don’t mind peering into the psyche of a stranger via their scribblings, but he struck me as a rather disturbed trump hater just recycling the same-old Russian conspiracy theories, along with his first-person Trump parodies. Humorous it wasn’t, not for me, but YMMV.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I thought this particular post compared well to what you get on The Onion and Daily Mash. But maybe putting it first, where I normally put humor posts, looked like too much of an endorsement.

      2. Portia

        it is queasy-making because it’s on target. Trump hits me on that same level, and it’s in the realm of the Twilight Zone when people totally ignore his reality shifting to so disorient people that they don’t know which end is “up” any more, and are happy to be told what to think. So, is Bibeau a “disturbed Trump hater” or someone disturbed with Trump’s ability to get away with all his crap and warp people’s awareness into compliance with his agenda?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Paul.

      I had bets on her becoming the first female guv’nor and three women at the top, Lillibet Saxe-Coburg, Mayhem and Hogg, at the same time in 2019.

      Hogg was interviewed three times by regulators, such was the level of doubt / concern, about her suitability to be chief risk officer at Santander (UK), but was allowed through.

      At the Commons Treasury Committee hearing, Hogg’s grasp of monetary policy was weak. There is a suggestion that the “oversight” issue was a means of getting her out.

      It would be great if Andy Haldane became deputy governor for banking and markets, but I doubt that he will get the job.

      1. paul

        Yes to that, Haldane always comes across as thoughtful as well as smart.
        But who are the Haldanes?
        Sheffield,Warwick, a bit too downstairs for the top job

          1. Marina Bart

            Am I wrong that in the mid-twentieth century, the aristocratic class didn’t have quite such a death grip over BoE and every other financial and non-political institution in British government?

            My academic knowledge base re: Britain ends around World War I. I have some understanding of 20th century British politics, but I’m realizing more and more that’s based on a lot of midcentury propaganda propagated on this side of the pond.

            Aristocrats seem rather like those viruses that never really die. They just retreat on a cellular level and lie in wait until the body weakens enough for them to come roaring back, like a pox.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, Marina.

              Your last paragraph is spot on. The aristocracy made a big comeback under Cameron and not just in politics.

              Three instances spring to mind. At one time, most of the leading actors in the UK, in terms of earnings, were from Eton. At another time, most of the popular music top ten artists were privately educated. Privately educated athletes won well over half of the UK’s medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics despite privately educated people forming no more than 7% of the school population.

  5. hemeantwell

    Is Russia trying to take back over Libya from NATO, Radicals? Juan Cole

    I was surprised and pleased to see Cole taking a fairly restrained stance. He was strongly in favor of the NATO intervention in Libya that led to Qaddafi’s downfall, excitedly peddling massacre stories that recalled the Kuwaiti de-incubatored baby tales in the run-up to Iraq War I. He then doggedly held on to a cheery, “how can things be bad if women are running for office in Benghazi?” position as the Libya fractured into militia-run enclaves and Islamist extremists gained ground. I don’t believe he’s ever offered any self-criticism re the mess that developed.

    1. David

      I know journalists don’t usually write their own headlines, but I did think this one was (a) revelatory of the mindset that thinks NATO “had” Libya in the first place, (b) implicitly putting NATO and the “Radicals” on the same side and (c) being the worst piece of grammar I’ve seen this week. How do you take something “back over”?

        1. Dr. Roberts

          I read that piece. Strange that the Russians are siding with Haftar(sometimes differently transliterated). He’s a nasty guy and I was under the impression that he was a CIA asset. Ultimately of course nobody but the Libyans are interested in having Libyan oil for the Libyans. The article dubiously labels anyone associated with the Tripoli government as Al-Qaeda. Really makes me wonder who this CounterPunch writer is working for.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Indeed, he lost all credibility with me when he endorsed the Libyan intervention. I haven’t read his stuff since.

    3. witters

      Cole insisted that the ‘Libyan Revoluition’ was (no kidding) ‘driven by young people’ who were natural champions of liberal secular democacy who would never stand for any violent extremism (except that of the US etc. as it destroyed their country so liberty could live!) – and he claimed to be an expert. He still does.

      1. Procopius

        It’s a pity. He was invaluable in the early days of the Insurrection in Iraq. I forget when I first discovered his blog — probably 2005 or 6. The thing was, he reads and speaks Arabic AND Farsi, and has contacts throughout that region, so he was able to quote paragraphs from the local newspapers to give some understanding of what was going on. Looks like he’s been converted. I read some of his columns recently, and there’s good stuff in the comments section, but he’s completely committed to the DNC story that their computers were hacked by Russian agents and that the Russians are exerting enormous influence on the whole American government apparatus.

  6. Leigh

    File under: Delusional

    Executive says white men are an ‘endangered species’ in the boardroom

        1. optimader

          An Angel sheds a tear for those whom irony and sarcasm go uncelebrated.
          I pulled it off in seven words! :o)

          Back to the premise..Off course unlikely any time soon..

  7. TiPs

    I bèg to differ on your explanation for why zero/negative interest rates had any impact on consumer spending: spending by the (roughly) bottom 90% is not driven by price expectations, rather it’s income and jobs. Their spending is very sensitive to current income. If there is an “expectations impact” it is also related to positive views of the economy (jobs) which gives consumers confidence to take on more debt. Regardless, give the majority of consumer-driven Americans more money or access to debt, they will spend. The most recent example, subprime auto loans.

    As piketty and saez showed, 95% of the income gains post-crisis went to the top 1%. Consumers weren’t waiting for prices to fall further, the economy simply sucked for most people for a long time.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Not valid at all to reason from the US. The US has positive inflation and consumers overwhelmingly believe inflation is higher than the official stats. By contrast, 1/4 of the world had negative policy rates in 2016.

      And even though subprime auto loans are up, at 22% of all auto loans, they are still below pre-crisis levels, when borrowers were loading up even more on housing-related debt.

      1. craazyboy

        I think they’ll round Pi down to 3, and then pies will be smaller in diameter, but the price won’t go up much, so we’ll have low inflation data. It has to happen to pies eventually. All the other supermarket packaging got smaller. I just bought a 26.5 oz container of coffee. WTF is up with that? It’s not even metric! Plastic too. That can’t be good.

        Trying to decide whether to have a piece of Edwards Turtle Pie for breakfast, or go with the alternative slice of bread from my 14 oz French bread with peanut butter in the 28 oz plastic jar and raspberry jam in the 18 oz glass jar.

        Decided on the Turtle Pie. That was easy.

        1. Optimader

          I was going to suggest a dark rum and tonic with a half of a lime but you went ahead and made the unhealthy choice. :o/

        2. lyman alpha blob

          You never know – they could round it up. Pi is usually calculated using polygons with increasing number of sides but in the age of dumbing everything down we could just use a square. So if circumference=pi x diameter, for a circle with radius of 1, you have pi equal to circumference (4×2)/diameter (2×1) = 4. How easy and (rational) is that!

      2. Massinissa

        From Wikipedia: “The bill never became law, due to the intervention of Professor C. A. Waldo of Purdue University, who happened to be present in the legislature on the day it went up for a vote”

        Gosh, that sounds like the plot for an episode of Big Bang Theory or something, with Sheldon going to visit the capital for god knows what reason and realizing they were getting the number wrong.

        Truth really is weirder than fiction…

        1. Massinissa

          Again from Wikipedia: “Purdue University Professor C. A. Waldo arrived in Indianapolis to secure the annual appropriation for the Indiana Academy of Science. An assemblyman handed him the bill, offering to introduce him to the genius who wrote it. He declined, saying that he already met as many crazy people as he cared to”

          He really was there by accident. If he hadn’t been there the damn thing probably would have been passed. Probably repealed in the next few years but still…

      3. Vatch

        I Kings 7:23. NET version:

        7:23 He also made the large bronze basin called “The Sea.” It measured 15 feet from rim to rim, was circular in shape, and stood seven-and-a-half feet high. Its circumference was 45 feet.

        King James version:

        7:23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

        Jewish Publication Society translation:

        7:23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

        So there you have it. π = 3.

        1. wilroncanada


          Blessed are they who think in circles, for they shall be known as Big Wheels.

          Pi Day–a day to honour Big Wheels.

    1. MoiAussie

      Here’s a celebratory 30-place Piem dating back to 1906

      Now I, even I, would celebrate
      In rhymes unapt, the great
      Immortal Syracusan, rivaled nevermore,
      Who in his wondrous lore,
      Passed on before,
      Left men his guidance how to circles mensurate.

        1. Annotherone

          A Tweet from a Math Prof in 2011 :)

          “Math Poem ala Ogden Nash: God in his wisdom gave us Pi., and then forgot to tell us why.”

        1. craazyboy

          But only in Europe. In America, the 22nd of July is 7/27. That would be the inverse of Pi. But that may explain why so many people have trouble making ends meet in the USofA?

        2. Procopius

          The Chinese had a better one, about 100 AD or so — 355/113. I’ve found it just as easy to remember, but admittedly it’s harder to convert to decimal.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      3.14 1:59:26 is the closest to a pi moment this year.

      Once a century, we get a closer pi moment: 3.14.15 at 9:26:53

    3. diptherio

      I don’t celebrate pi day, and I quite frankly I find those that do to be utterly irrational.

      1. craazyman

        I celebrate e day, on February 71st or 72nd depending on the year.

        But I don’t tell anybody.

        I always said “You-ler” until I heard it was “Oil-er” but now I’m stuck with “You-ler”. Sorry Youler.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        Well, you could celebrate Einstein’s birthday instead (also today) but that may be too relative….

    4. Pavel

      Also “White Day” in Japan for those who care… There they reserve Valentine’s Day for the women to give chocolates to men (huge queues at fashionable Ginza chocolate shops the day before). The men are supposed to reciprocate on 14th March, though I’m not sure they do so with as much zeal.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “If you don’t buy, you don’t love. Perhaps you hate.”

        To buy, to consume, is to love…something like that.

      2. Massinissa

        IIRC in theory youre not supposed to actually take the chocolate on V day if youre not going to return the feelings/favor on White Day, but whether that works out in practice I have no idea. All I know about the tradition comes from manga and anime.

  8. Eureka Springs

    On revolt:

    I have watched my government hold elections without transparency, while the candidates are bought & sold in broad daylight. I have watched unpopular leaders being elected again & again by less than 1/3rd of us, with voting-machines that produce unverifiable results & no paper-trail for us to audit. What consent can there be if 1/10th of us are vetted by privately-run yet publicly-funded parties to select 2 options for the rest of the country to choose between? And, even then, 2 of the last 3 winners had fewer votes than their opponent — but, if we dislike this system, we can simply vote to change it, right?

    Am I allowed to write the obvious or is that crossing the line? Too late — with these words as my only weapon, I say the authority of the government of the United States of America is illegitimate.

    In solidarity,
    John Laurits

    Eureka: Hear, hear!

    1. Ranger Rick

      It’s almost like he’s realized that representative democracy creates a class of rulers who don’t do exactly what you want and can only be exchanged after a certain number of years. Does he also know that we arrived at this system after centuries of people being born to power or taking it? People who got epithets like “the Good” for at least not making things any worse?

      1. Vatch

        How can we call our system a “representative democracy” if the losers sometimes win the elections, and in many parts of the country we have no way of verifying that the vote count is accurate?

        1. Massinissa

          Who cares if the ‘losers’ win elections or not? The ‘winners’ only have a quarter of the population vote for them, same with the ‘losers’. Half the nation doesn’t vote because they are not even given a horse meaningful enough to vote for. Whichever ‘wins’ is entirely irrelevant.

          1. Vatch

            Who cares? We all should. And it’s not just in the Presidential election where the actual loser sometimes wins; in aggregate, it also happens in the House of Representatives. See this:


            In the House, the Republicans got 49.11% of the votes, and the Democrats got 48.03%. But the Republicans won 55% of the seats, and the Democrats only won 44%. Something is clearly wrong, and gerrymandering is the culprit.

            The choice in the 2016 Presidential election was quite dismal, but that does not excuse a failure to vote. One can cast a protest vote for a third party candidate, and it’s also important to vote in the down ballot races.

            The oligarchs love it when people don’t bother to vote.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                I am concerned that the more populous coastal regions seem remarkably disdainful of the opinions and problems faced by the slightly less populous interior regions of America. I don’t believe strictly proportional representation would be beneficial.

                I also believe the coastal regions — meaning those who voted in support of the Democratic/Liberal Party ignores understanding the sad history of how the interior was gutted at great risk. The same people who shipped manufacturing capital overseas and laid-off the Midwest are hard at work finding new ways to ship intellectual capital and jobs overseas.

                While I cannot view Trump as a savior — his election by our Rube-Goldberg electoral college saved America from greatly worsening a rift which is growing frighteningly wide.

            1. Marina Bart

              when people don’t bother to vote.

              I hate this frame. It’s inaccurate and unjust to the people who do not vote. Many face brutal obstacles to being able to cast their ballot, and many others have observed correctly that the none of the options on offer (meaning the people and policies they can select among who have a realistic chance of gaining power and implementation) ever help them.

              I’m a voter. I have voted in every national and state level election my entire life. The only presidential candidate I ever wanted to win who won was Barack Obama, and he utterly screwed me over, doing none of the things he promised to do that would have been my preferred policies.

              I think as long as there’s even the slightest evidence of marginal utility, people should vote, because our only other options become physical protest within a violent police state, taking up violence ourselves, or suffering. But to blame people for refusing to vote under the real world conditions in which it’s difficult, sometimes dangerous and mostly futile, is blaming the victims of the plutocracy.

              This past general election, I think you could make a sound case that the election was swung by the people who dug in their heels and refused to vote for the Democrats. They brought some measure of change, and attention to their suffering, simply by resisting being herded into voting for either flavor of oppression on offer. By not, instead, voting for Trump, they also avoided making the other oppressive force even stronger. By not voting for a third party, they tamped down the Democrats’ ability to demonize the left. (Yes, I know they’re doing it anyway, but imagine if Stein had reached 5% anywhere, or even 3%. I would have loved that result, but it would have also had a real downside, and would have done nothing concrete to help those refusing to vote.)

              I voted, but what was more effective: my legal write-in vote for Bernie Sanders in California, or the people who refused to vote in Michigan? They brought change; I did not.

              Gerrymandering is bad, but it is not the sole cause of the disproportionate representation of the Republicans in the Congress and in the states. I bet it’s not even in the top three. And your own data shows that the party that won the majority of votes for Congressional representatives is the party that is controlling the House. Do you think we would be getting different policies out of the House if Ryan had a smaller majority? He would have a majority. The Democrats care more about stopping leftists from getting elected, so if we had a few more elected Democrats in the House, they would probably be conservative corporatists happy to vote for Republican policies. My God, Diane Feinstein, who couldn’t be safer, voted for a bunch of Trump’s nominees.

              Screaming about gerrymandering and the problem of the Republicans having a slightly bigger majority than they otherwise would because of it is a distraction from much more serious problems with how our electoral system works.

              1. Massinissa

                Thank you so much for this comment. I’m a voter, usually, but this is my thought as well.

              2. Vatch

                Yes, many people face serious obstacles to voting. But I do not believe that all of the tens of millions of people who did not vote face such obstacles. I doubt that a majority of them face such obstacles. Voter turnout in the U.S. has been low for the past century. I’ve posted this link before:


                Since 1904, the turnout of the voter ago population in U.S. Presidential elections has always been under 70%, and it has been under 50% on a few occasions. Tens of millions simply choose not to vote.

                And your own data shows that the party that won the majority of votes for Congressional representatives is the party that is controlling the House.

                Currently, the Republicans exceed the Democrats in the House of Representatives by 47 people (241-194). If the difference were similar to the difference in the number of votes, the Republicans would have about 226 Representatives to 209 for the Democrats. Remember the fast track trade promotion authority vote in 2015? That passed the House by a vote of 218 to 208:


                Even though the great majority of the Republicans voted for that, and my count may be off by a couple, but 43 Republicans voted against fast track. They needed almost all of the 28 Democrats who vote for fast track. There were 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House (give or take one or two). Fast track never would have passed if the difference had been as close as 226 to 209.

                Of course I agree that the establishment Democrats are almost as bad as the Republicans. But “almost as bad” is not the same as “equally bad”. I also agree that there are other systemic problems besides gerrymandering (the vast amounts of money in politics, Citizens United, etc.).

                1. Jen

                  Fast track wouldn’t have passed if my establishment Democrat Senator, Shaheen, had maintained her “no” vote.

                  Right now my Dem congresscritter is very well aware that one Dem more or less won’t make a difference in the house, which limits the number of execrable votes that she can take.

                  Shaheen, on the other hand, is either not going to run again or hoping that her constituents will have forgotten that she supported a measure that is completely antithetical to the interests of her constituents. On the latter, she is mistaken.

    2. Vatch

      Yes, thanks. I was struck by that paragraph about the fractions and the lack of a paper trail, and I was going to quote it in a comment here, but you beat me to it!

  9. Linda

    The Necessity of Credibility – Current Affairs. We managed to miss this, but a nice shout out.

    I clicked over to this one just to see the shout out, and found the article well worth reading as well. Turns out there is a source for Trump’s comment that millions of people voted illegally. The Washington Post. I had missed that in all the hoopla. (Still wrong, but at least a source.)

    1. Massinissa

      Pretty sure WaPo is considered Fake News at this point. Remember, they published that list that had NakedCapitalism listed as a Russian agent, among other things.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Another Post posting later in the same article:

      …[the] strategy manifested itself in the Russians’ strongly alleged involvement in promoting “fake news” and disseminating hacked emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. These emails hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and weakened Americans’ trust in the Democratic primary.

      It’s nice to see someone straightforwardly make the argument that the real problem was not DNC hand-on-scale but rather that our trust in the legitimacy of the primary results (as a result of disclosure of information that proved illegitimacy of primary results). As Lambert likes to say, clarifying.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for this link, Optimader. Talk about obsessive dedication to a topic. Never knew the science of shoelaces was a thing, but quite glad that it is. I have a brother who is a compulsive sneaker-head, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy learning some of these patterns and knots.

      1. Optimader

        As suprising as it may be to most (many) there is an asymmetry to tying a shoe lace knot… I only learned as a young adult from a sailing buddy ( who knew knots)
        Never had a shoelace unravel since.

  10. Optimader

    “The controversial origin of a symbol of the American west PhysOrg. Chuck L: “They’ve been here a lot longer than the native Americans. Let alone we Gringos”

    Everyone born in America is a native American (by definition)

    1. Darius

      The late arrival of the bison would explain the disappearance of mammoths and horses from North America.

      Likely, the bison were having profound effects on the ecosystem and it was still in process when the Indians showed up and upset the apple cart, then the trans-Atlantics arrived and vaporized the apple cart and anything within a mile radius.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Good point, Opti.

      Perhaps the name should be “We Got Here First Americans.”

      Only perhaps, because together, we can come up with a good name.

    3. Vatch

      Quite true about “native Americans”. I prefer to say “Amer-Indians”. Or perhaps we could call them “Sibero-Americans” or “Bering-Americans”.

    4. witters

      Well, your definition. I’m in Australia surrounded by native rabbits, foxes and cane toads.

  11. Tertium Squid

    Precious: University of Minnesota drops homecoming King and Queen and replaces them with genderless “Royals”


    promotes “a spirit of inclusion at the University of Minnesota

    And what’s more inclusive than segregating the student body aristocracy style?

    1. Optimader

      Haha!! The end of times! Soon the dearly departed will be the “corporeally exceptional”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      An interesting human trait – you get a bunch of them together, and they will elect someone to be proclaimed as better than the rest, to lord over them.

  12. timbers

    The World’s Most Radical Experiment in Monetary Policy Isn’t Working Wall Street Journal.

    UserFriendly points out this is a few days ago. Nevertheless, it confirm what we and others have said for some time: that zero and negative interest rates would not lead consumers to spend more, it would tell them deflation was going to continue and they should become even better hoarders.

    Would like to also note what IMO seems a logical addition to ZIRP being bad: Normailzing interest rates now in this weak economy should not be thought of bad economic policy or described as recessionary, bad, ill timed, whatever.

    Normalize interest rates now. There are many effective ways to get the economy roaring. We’re just not doing them. Yet, since ZIRP does not help the economy, continuing ZIRP does not help the economy, either.

    Seems most say ZIRP is bad, followed by acceptance we must keep it until we change other policy in ways that are a long way off.

    End ZIRP now.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Money itself is a radical experiment.

      There are actually believers in a moneyless world. Moneyless Society, for one.

      No one is richer poorer.

      Only prettier or better looking…and injustice continues, as some people take advantage of their inherited biological wealth.

      1. djrichard

        At this point I think it’s the other way around. Living without money is a radical experiment.

        But it does speak to the worse case scenario: falling off the conveyer belt and ending up on the indian reservation (no job, no money). Barbara Ehrenreich highlighted the fear of that outcome (or just losing) in her book, _Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class_. But what if there were another way to view one’s circumstances instead of viewing it as ending up on the indian reservation?

    2. djrichard

      The Fed Reserve could care less about savers or the main street economy in general: those players were wiped out, they’re not players anymore. If you want to prevent deflation you need to look to the players that are still left standing (and have borrowing capacity), which is the players that our Fed Gov bailed out, i.e. wallstreet. Let them have access to the punch bowl for whatever careless adventures they want to engage in … as long as it increases demand at the Fed Reserve’s liquidity pump.

      Have to wonder why this worked in the US, but not in Japan.

      In any case, must be getting beyond the pale. Too much demand at the liquidity pump? Time for the Fed Reserve to get off their butts to raise rates. Create that “wall of worry” that pundits love to talk about. [Remember, it’s this “wall of worry” that separates monetary discipline in the US from the free-for-all borrowing that was happening in the Wiemar republic.]

      Unfortunately, everyone treats the “wall of worry” more like a step function: there’s no worry as long as the yield curve isn’t inverted.
      Fed funds rate is at 0.5%. They can still go 100 basis points more before they invert the yield curve. Party on dudes!

      1. djrichard

        Correction: they have 200 basis points of room before they get close to the 10Y yield. Plenty of space for them to dance the dance of the seven veils.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Eagles vs. Drones.

    That sounds like a dismal Super Bowl match-up in the distance bleak future.

    “And now the armed Drones strike back.”

    1. Massinissa

      Does Washington DC have its own football team? Because they should totally make one and name it The Drones. I’m sure Obama will go to every game, probably Trump too. It would be the easiest way to get the Beltway interested in sports! Maybe they will become so enamored watching Drones games they will forget to govern!

      Oh well, we can dream.

      1. nippersmom

        Washington, DC does indeed have a football team- with a very controversial name. I think the Drones would be an appropriate change, but I doubt you’d get either the team’s owner or the NFL to agree.

        1. RabidGandhi

          We’re having hard enough time with the bees as it is, let’s not instigate them further with an offensive name.

          That said, what’s so controversial about DC United?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Drone proponents would certainly come off better juxtaposed next to Eagles fans.

  14. Roger Smith

    Regarding Turkey/Netherlands — Aren’t we all sad the the borderless utopian world corporatist financiers dream of for the world is hitting all these snags! Such a shame… Politicians from other countries campaigning in the US for expats is exactly what the the State’s political system needs! I love the immediate casting of NL officials as nazis. Wonder where they got them identity chops from!

    But seriously, the anger/protest of Turkish expats is absurd and this is all a big indicator of a bigger EU problem, migrants grifting social welfare benefits with low levels of assimilation. The US has a unique defense against some of this through geographic isolation but for all the TPP et al. nonsense I doubt most anyone would stand for big foreign political rallies here. Meanwhile we can all pretend on CNN that nothing is wrong with Sweden.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      You ever been to an ethnic parade in new york city or some other major urban environment in america ?? Plenty of foreign politicians glad handing for votes in america…and the usual “fairs” & events that follow the usual “national independence day” parades…full of foreign politicians…

      And we did have that bund thingee…

  15. Alex Morfesis

    Microwave cameras…oh boy…that conway is such a kidder…it’s not like microwaves have any computer parts in them…oh…well…it’s not like they have any programs in them…arduino hacking what…oh…but how could you take a microwave phot….can see thru walls you say…well those folks at mit just have a vivid imagination…but those radio signals are not the same as…oh they are the same as in a microwave overn…it’s not as though these things can be hacked via some IoTs kinda of thingee…oh…well we can unplug it if we are worried about it and…the capacitors hold dangerous amounts of energy for how many days…why would you design a microwave to hold energy for so long…

    Kirlian device mobile what ??

    does the national security council know she talks too much…

    1. Lord Koos

      FYI, the purpose of a capacitor is to store energy. And I don’t think making an image detailed enough to be useful is possible without a lens.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Reach for the stars you say…radio telescopes you say…nah…never happened…just having some fun from the currently available and non classified world…microwave ovens are at 2.45 GHz where one needs to overclock or adjust to around 8 to 9 GHz to work the thru walls x-ray vision stuff described publicly at mit

        No disagreement that a capacitor stores energy…energy is needed to work computers if I am not mistaken

        And if one were to use the xbox kinect sensor somehow via iOt and tied it together with that kirlian thingee I mentioned earlier…

        Maybe conway is just blonde on the outside…good cover really…

  16. RabidGandhi

    What an awful premise in the Quartz Korea article:

    “I find worrisome this glorification of South Korea’s protests,” she says. “If governance structures were working properly then citizens normally would be channeling their concerns through institutional processes—reaching out to their elected leaders, going to the courts. Spilling out into the street is a sign of political dysfunction.”

    This is totally back asswards. The US is a dysfunctional democracy precisely because the streets never get filled with mass organised protests. ‘Channeling concerns through institutional processes’ is a lovely little concept and should be used to its utmost, but in the real world oppressors do not yield an inch until their hand is forced, and writing your congressman is a good idea, but it is largely ineffective, especially on a national scale.

    On the other hand, general strikes, mass mobilisations, occupying public spaces… these are the stuff of all democratic movements, and this is how all leaders’ hands have been forced to implement the (now dwindling) democratic advances that have been achieved. Women’s rights, Social Security, a (temporary) end to Jim Crow, Medicare, Gov’t action on AIDS… All due to popular pressure on leaders just like the crowds in Seoul.

    In a related vein, last week Argentine Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren said in response to popular backlash against his brutal price increases (paraphrasing) “They lost the election. We won so we get to set the prices”. In a technical sense, Aranguren and the Quartz article are right: yes elections by the slimmest of margins do give you the right to set energy policy (subject to legislative and judicial approval). But if you think that gives you carte blanche to charge already impoverished consumers whatever you like, just try it. In a functioning democracy you will be run out on a rail faster than you can say “De La Rúa“.

    A measure of a functioning democratic society is not whether people are acquiescent to their rulers, but rather whether the rulers are acquiescent to the people.

    Addendum: while I disagree with its premise, I do give the article credit for mentioning Korean popular resistance to the US-backed dictatorship, something that tends to be lost down the memory hole.

    1. Jeff W

      It is an awful premise for an article, although I think the cause and effect runs both ways, i.e., “The streets never get filled with mass organised protests precisely because the US is a dysfunctional democracy” also.

      The article says, as if it were incontrovertible, that “The fact that most Americans don’t or won’t engage in endless street protest is a sign of a still-healthy faith in institutions” but it could just as easily be said that it’s a sign of little or no faith in institutions. A Congress whose approval ratings are anywhere from 9% to the low 20s or election turnout that is at a 20-year low is not, to me, consistent with “a still-healthy faith in institutions”—but then, again, I’m no politics professor.

  17. Daniel in Seoul

    I attended the recent victory lap protest following Park Geun hye’s dismissal. It was amazing. No flashy displays of patriotism, no flag waving. It was Koreans from around the country, of all ages and stations.

    Koreans are notoriously silent about politics in polite company, and it took me years of living here to understand that there are actually strong feelings about the system here. It was very encouraging to be part of such a gigantic gathering of people.

    The best part was the dance party that broke out: premodern Korean instruments and traditional work chants, creating trance music for everyone to be part of. And not a KPop song to be heard!

  18. rjs

    re: Keystone XL Does Not Make Sense Anymore
    moreover, the tar sands expansion the article suggests doesnt make sense either.. most figures i’ve seen indicate they need $50 US oil prices just to operate the extraction facilities now in existence, without any expansion…Keystone was originally proposed at a time when oil prices were twice what they are now., but 64 of the tar sands projects that were on the drawing board when oil prices first started falling have since been cancelled, with many of of the oil companies involved taking large losses, so the oil that was to fill the Keystone will no longer be there if the pipeline were to be completed…about a year ago, IHS estimated that a new greenfield oil sands mine (without an upgrader) required a WTI price between $85 to $95 per barrel on average to breakeven…a month ago, petrogeologist and oil analyst Art Berman at also showed that it would take at least $85 oil prices for 10 years to develop enough new oil sand projects to fill the Keystone XL……the major oil companies see the writing on the wall; just last week, Shell decided to divest nearly all of its Canadian oil sands interests in exchange for $7.25 billion, and Marathon announced an agreement to sell its Canadian subsidiary, including their interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and use the proceeds to buy Permian basin assets in Texas…all the deep pocketed major oil companies are getting out of the oil sands, and the small companies left with an interest there do not have the capital wherewithal to expand…

  19. tgs


    Excellent article, illustrating among other things how in the current media climate a statement can be regarded both as factually correct and as disinformation. An excellent example, is the recent dustup over the Canadian foreign minister, Freeland. She is rabidly anti-Russian and pro-Kiev. Consortium News revealed that her Ukrainian grandfather was a Nazi collaborator who edited a newspaper that vilified Jews.

    Initially, this was treated as Russian propaganda by the Canadian press. But, within a day or two:

    a few newspapers grudgingly acknowledge that our story was true and that Freeland knew it was true. Still, the attacks on us continued. We were labeled “Russian disinformationists,” with no evidence needed to support the slander and no defense allowed.

    When ‘Disinformation’ Is Truth

    An excellent article on the depths that the MSM is plumbing.

  20. RUKidding

    Austin, TX, apparently passed a local ordinance requiring fingerprints for ride share drivers, which “drove out” Uber and Lyft. Now they have some other ride share organizations taking over that model:

    Perhaps the 501(c)(3) status will make this more fiscally sound? Unsure. Will this be a better model for drivers? Don’t know. Does this provide enough security for riders? I couldn’t say. Interesting, though.

  21. Massinissa

    Ive seen the term “pour encourager les autres” used several times on this blog, so I think its relevant to mention that its the 260th anniversary of the execution of John Byng, the Admiral executed for not being a good enough admiral, which inspired Voltaire to write those words.

    From Wikipedia: “Byng’s execution was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad and is told that “in this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others” (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).”

  22. s.n.

    excellent reportage on the mood in one Netherlands city on the eve of the election:

    Fallow Ground A City of Workers Turns to Wilders
    The city of Almere, once crafted as a Dutch utopia on land reclaimed from the sea, used to be a center-left stronghold. Now, though, as voters in the Netherlands go to the polls on Wednesday, the town’s support is behind right-wing populist Geert Wilders. What changed?

  23. djrichard

    Trump Couldn’t Buy Coverage Like This — Ian Welsh

    This article is better than the title suggests. It’s really a brutally frank take on the puts and takes of Trumps policies and where they stand.

    The one perhaps clever thing Trump has done is his asked for 54 billion dollar increase to the military budget. Jobs created this way will tend to go to Trump supporters and communities. If you’re dedicated to slashing the rest of the bureaucracy, this is an excellent offset.

    Well, it could be, depending on how many jobs it produces. The dollars/job on defense funding is pretty lousy, and if I were Trump/Bannon I’d be leaning hard on the Pentagon to spend this in ways which will actually produce jobs, whether directly in the military, outsourced, or manufacturing.

  24. Alex Morfesis

    Last night of the tsar…100 years ago…having accepted the inevitable, nicholas2 could not actually track down his son alex as he awaited rodzianko upon his return to the palace…his guards had already taken to the streets to announce their unity with the people, who were walking about with red bows on their chests…grand duke michael took the position he would stand as regent until alex came of age…

    However, in the noise of confusion, felix dzerzhinsky was released from prison today…ten months later he would form the cheka…

    alex would never be king…

  25. none

    When is it OK to Overthrow a Government & Can I Be Arrested for Answering That Question? (Let’s Find Out!) John Laurits (martha r)

    There’s a story about the philosopher/logician Rudolf Carnap who came to the US from Vienna in 1939 to escape the Nazis. The immigration officer asked him some boilerplate questions including “do you advocate the overthrow of the United States Government by violence or force of arms?”. Carnap supposedly looked taken aback for several moments, and eventually replied “um, I would have to say force of arms”. Better days.

  26. Plenue

    On the subject of Syraqistan, there hasn’t been much coverage here on NC of the battlefield minutiae of late. So here’s some:

    The Syrian Army let the Turks take al-Bab (which they finally did after weeks of abject failure, but it seems only by cutting a deal with ISIS), but while that fight was going on the SAA was capturing territory to the south of the city, successfully joining up with Kurdish territory. This means the Turkish holdings in Syria are now entirely ringed by anti-ISIS forces, effectively ruining the Turkish justification that they entered Syria to fight terrorism. Erdogan has been doing a lot of insane, petulant stuff lately, including building a wall along the border, which the Turks claim is to stop militants, except it’s being built on Syrian territory inside Idlib province. He’s also vowed to take the Syrian city of Manbij, currently held by the Kurds. In response the Kurds handed a bunch of towns between Manbij and the Turks over to the Syrian Army, so if Turkey wants to fight the Kurds it’ll have to start a fight with the Syrians first. The US has also very publicly sent a bunch more troops to Manbij. Seems like everyone is on the same page when it comes to telling Erdogan to go pound sand.

    Meanwhile the Kurds are gradually encircling Raqqa east of the Euphrates, and have almost cut its main supply road. On the western side the SAA took back a large amount of territory, reaching the Euphrates, and recaptured the main water and electricity supply utilities for Aleppo City, fully intact (Aleppo’s industry and public transport are also starting to operate again). They’re currently in the process of encircling ISIS’s last major holding in Aleppo province, the city of Deir Hafer.

    The Syrians retook Palmyra, and are currently establishing a buffer zone around it. They seem determined not to lose it a third time.

    In Deir Ezzor, ISIS drove a wedge between the city proper and the military airport over two months ago, isolating both. There’s been a lot of brutal back and forth fighting, but the SAA still has yet to reestablish their previous territorial integrity. A few helicopters have managed to fly in some supplies and reinforcements, but they’re in desperate need of a lot more outside help. Deir Ezzor has been under continuous siege for 5+ years, first by the rebels and then by ISIS. Hopefully either the SAA, the Kurds from around Raqqa, or Iraqis (who have been given permission to operate in Syria), when they’re done with Mosul, will send forces to relieve Deir Ezzor.

    In the extreme south of the country, around Daraa city, there’s currently a three way fight between rebels, ISIS, and the SAA. The SAA continues to hold most of the city.

    The SAA is currently in the process of clearing out the last ‘rebel’ pockets around Homs (the last one there has agreed to surrender) and Damascus (refuses to surrender).

    Idlib province, which is where all surrendering militants are transported to, appears to be a chaotic wild west currently. There’s a lot of ‘rebel’ infighting, lots of backstabbing and changing of sides, and forming and breaking of alliances and coalitions. The Syrian government has so far chosen to sit back and let the idiots kill each other, though it is gradually preparing for an eventual massive offensive to retake the province. For now they rely on spies to give them coordinates for the occasional airstrike (the US has also been doing drone and airstrikes against various militant leaders in Idlib).

    In Iraq Mosul is about 85% under government control. There was an expectation that ISIS would fight even harder for the western half of the city than they did for the eastern half, but things have been going much more quickly. ISIS seems mostly spent. Most of their best fighters seem to be either dead or to have left; they’re relying now mostly on suicide bombers.

    So basically ISIS is crumbling almost everywhere, and al-Qaeda and what passes for the ‘moderate opposition’ are constantly fighting each other and among themselves.

  27. Tracie Hall

    Beautiful piano music, and no human could compete with that kitty’s expression of love and appreciation.

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