Links 3/26/17

Hero monkeys helped lost man survive for days in the Amazon New York Post

Norway’s underwater laser-shooting drone zaps parasitic lice that live on salmon DigitalTrends (Mark P)

Physicists find that as clocks get more precise, time gets more fuzzy ScienceAlert (martha r). From earlier this month, still interesting.

Natural gas leaks from power plants, refineries, 100 times greater than thought Ecologist (micael)

Let there be light: Germans switch on ‘largest artificial sun’ Guardian (martha r)

YouTube’s Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Google’s Face Wired (Chuck L)

Why Power Brings Out Your True Self Nautilus (micael)

For a Modest Personality Trait, ‘Intellectual Humility’ Packs a Punch! Duke Today (martha r)

Harvard scientists pinpoint critical step in DNA repair, cellular aging Harvard Gazette (martha r)

Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice AAAS (furzy)

Alcohol Really Is Good for Your Heart—Most of the Time Time (furzy)

China Vice Premier Sees `Unstoppable Momentum’ of Globalization Bloomberg (resilc)


Decision day as 0.01% of Hong Kongers choose city’s next leader CNN

China Is Developing its Own Digital Currency Bloomberg

Rising Euroscepticism cannot solve the Eurozone Crisis Defend Democracy


Exclusive: Saving the Union from Scottish independence put at the heart of Brexit negotiations Telegraph (resilc)


Revelations – Lafarge-Holcim’s jihad Chuck L: “It takes a while for Meyssan to get to the point, which is that the USA and NATO have been working with Muslim radicals in Syria for a long time.”

New Cold War

Don’t Fight Their Lies With Lies of Your Own Masha Gessen, New York Times (Dan K)


Big Brother is Watching You Watch

US Senate votes to let internet providers share your web browsing history without permission Verge (furzy)

Trump Transition

Donald, This I Will Tell You Maureen Dowd, New York Times. Lambert: “Underneath the venom, there’s a lot of truth here, such as ‘motley skeleton crew,’ and ‘Where’s James Baker?’ And yet under it all is the plea for Trump to be what he sold himself as being.”

High Anxiety Over Health-Care Reform Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

Trump Becomes Ensnared in Fiery G.O.P. Civil War New York Times

Donald Trump now focussed on tax reform but that might not be any easier than repealing Obamacare Independent (resilc). As we indicated…

Trump’s Wall Is 30 Feet of Scary Politics for Builders Bloomberg (resilc)

Debating the big questions on immigration: What rights do immigrants have — and is the president free to bar them? Salon. (Anis)

Survey Finds Foreign Students Aren’t Applying to American Colleges NBC (José)

Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously. Foreign Policy in Focus (resilc)

Only Black People Showed Up To The DC Town Hall Meeting To Address The Surging Number Of Missing Black And Latina Girls Clutch. Timotheus: “Maybe if they wore pink pussy hats….”


Ryan Emerges From Health Care Defeat Badly Damaged New York Times

The Mayberry Machiavellis Lost a Battle on Friday. But the War Is Not Over. Mother Jones (resilc)

Trump Meets Freedom Caucus and Result Is Legislative Disaster Bloomberg

Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New Medicare-For-All Push Huffington Post

Fake News

How US Flooded the World with Psyops Consortiumnews (furzy)

Hollywood Producer Blames Rotten Tomatoes for Convincing People Not to See His Movie Vanity Fair (furzy)

Shareholder Proxies Could Be the New Regulators Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times.

The productivity paradox Ryan Avent. Dan K: “Hmm… perhaps a side point, the “intangible capital” thing strikes me as iffy, and perhaps more complex, as when cheaper materials are used to produce a product, meaning that consumer value falls, and environmental impacts may shift adversely.”

GDPNow, FRBNY Nowcast Inch Up: Gap Still Two Percent Michael Shedlock

Guillotine Watch

America’s 100 Richest Places Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Uber self-driving car crashes during US tests Financial Times (David L)

Inside Uber’s self-driving car mess Recode. Hubert Horan: “Recode has always been focused on “access” to tech executives and its Uber coverage over the years fell in the fawning-to-uncritical repetition of PR talking points range, but like everyone else has been rushing to publish more critical stuff.” Be sure to read down to the discussion of how often drivers have to take over or the car has problems.

POLL: Did Vice President Pence deserve the ‘Working for Women’ award?” Salon. Judy B: “No more than Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Too Much Experience To Be Hired? Some Older Americans Face Age Bias NPR (David L). Yes, sports fans, NPR is treating this as news.

What do slaveholders think? aeon (micael)

Amazon’s Tepid Response to Counterfeiters Frustrates Sellers Inc (Dan K). Putting this here because monopoly.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Gulf Fritillary Butterfly at the Fullerton Arboretum in Fullerton, California.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    For a Modest Personality Trait, ‘Intellectual Humility’ Packs a Punch! Duke Today (martha r)

    “There are stereotypes about conservatives and religiously conservative people being less intellectually humble about their beliefs,” said lead author Mark Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “We didn’t find a shred of evidence to support that.”

    I don’t want to brag, but people tell me that I have a lot to be humble for….

    1. nycTerrierist

      “During one service in a wealthy synagogue, the rabbi got carried away. Falling on hands and knees, forehead to floor, he said, “Oh God, before thee I am nothing.”

      The Cantor, not to be outdone, also got down, forehead to wood and said, “Oh God, before thee I am nothing.”

      Seeing this, Levy, a tailor in the fourth row, left his seat, fell to his knees, forehead to floor and he too, said “Oh God, before thee I am nothing.”

      With this, the Cantor elbowed the rabbi and sniffed: “Look who thinks he’s nothing!”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ‘Whatever you do, I will out-do you,’ says the ego.

        Thus, our man was more Hippie than anyone else in the 60s and made more money since the 80s when it became morning in America again.

        He was also more fervent than any Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution, only to prove his genius when the contest moved to ‘ To Get Rich Is Glorious.’

        The only constant my limited perception can observe is that he always gets his girls.

        And that maybe the most important thing in life, the driving force for many of us.

        In that case, we ask, why free college, why not free sex?

        Because if everyone has equal wealth, he who has the prettiest long hair gets a lot of girls, and the awkward, ugly boy gets none….loser in the most important game boys play…because they are born biologically that way (most of them). The boys are pre-programmed to gather flowers for girls at a pre-determined time, even though they don’t have no idea why.

        The enlightened ones are, of course, exceptions.

        1. John k

          So the pursuit of money is the savior of the nerd…
          even better is when a small number of nerds manage to take everybody else’s money.
          Leading to killing the host, game over, and restart.
          Restarts often messy…

      2. fresno dan

        March 26, 2017 at 9:55 am

        On an actual humble scale, I am a negative 2….

  2. fresno dan


    For some time, certain critics have been suggesting that the mainstream press gives a little too much credence to dubious conspiracy theories about Russia, theories which many Democrats have embraced out of their desire to undermine Donald Trump. Liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are beginning to sound a bit like Glenn Beck during the peak of the chalkboard-years. Any claim about nefarious doings by Vladimir Putin—for instance, that Russia hacked Vermont’s electric grid, or that the Naked Capitalism blog is Russian state propaganda—is spread widely by pundits without particular regard for the actual substantiating evidence.

    Emphasizing the humbleness of my thoughts, the NYT is full of tinfoil hat wearing people who merely assert they are the mainstream and don’t shout most of the time….

    1. Katharine

      Maybe the left should try that. Given the results of some opinion polls, it seems a lot of our positions are mainstream. If we said so persistently instead of letting the Times and its ilk misrepresent them as fringe ideas (universal health care–heavens! living wage–piffle!) we might do better.

  3. EndOfTheWorld

    RE: “Donald, This I Will Tell You”—Maureen is correct, The Donald does not have the best possible people working for him, despite “best” being one of his favorite words. Rinse Priebus may be shown the door soon, which would be a good thing.

    It goes back to when Trump was faced with just being flat kicked out of the GOP right at the convention, despite having won their nomination. He apparently made some deals to take on some of the Republican establishment.

    What happens next, I don’t know, but maybe it will be interesting.

    1. Marco

      Good point. I forgot all about the GOP convention. Pretty shabby treatment for a grade A narcissist. His isolation from the Republican Party is the only tiny shred of hope I have that the next 4 years will resemble the last week with gridlock and internecine carnage prevailing. All whilst Sanders brings up Medicare For All in the Senate. What a wonderful contrast. Yay!!

    2. Arizona Slim

      Although her opinion piece was dripping with snark, Dowd was right on the money. This one is as good as her op-eds about President Clinton.

    1. Katharine

      The question in the title, “What if you held an African summit and no Africans could come?” ought logically to be answered, next time hold your African summit somewhere in Africa, preferably with different organizers. Much as I deplored the denial of visas, I never did see why an “African Global Economic and Development Summit” should be held at USC. I hope, in my optimistic way, the denial of visas may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Some kinds of help those countries could do without!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Our team can do unintended consequences.

        So can the other team, or anyone for that matter.

        “Maybe it’s a blessing,’ – from the wise man story told in the film, Charlie Wilson’s War.

      2. different clue

        If the ChinaGov held such a summit in China, one may be sure that all the African applicants would be let in smoothly and pleasantly.

    2. David Carl Grimes

      I think there will be little or no ageism if the economy is running at full employment. It took shipping millions of men off to fight in WWII for women to gain substantial entry into the workforce. If there is no slack, employers can’t afford to be picky.

      1. Lord Koos

        If there is no slack, then corporations no longer have the upper hand. There must always be a enough slack to assure that wages can stay low.

        1. different clue

          That would be a good reason to have Zero Immigration for now. Zero Illegal immigration from Latin America to squeeze the hard labor supply. Zero illegal visa overstayement from Europe to squeeze the trendy barista supply. Zero elite scientist immigration from anywhere to squeeze the elite science supply.
          Zero HB-Whatever visas from anywhere to squeeze the programmer and coder supply.

          And squeeze and squeeeze and squeeeeeezzzzzze . . . . until the Corporations are broken to the citizens’ will.

  4. craazyman

    finally something serious in links. Finally! How much yada yada about boring economics, Russians and President Trump’s minute to minute tweets can anybody take without dropping all their bloviational baggage and running headlong into the jungle of reality. Evidently a lot more than I can! It’s at the point I can’t take another day of that stuff. But the story about the Chilean jungle-adventure-bro who flipped out and got fed by monkeys in the Amazon is very very strange, very interesting. You usually don’t see that except in the most foo foo places on the web.. A lot more there than meets the eye! No pun intended. Does anybody seriously believe that monkeys — in this dimension — fed that dude for 9 days! haha. You must believe in fairies! LOL

    1. Ruben

      When you read the piece, past the headline, you see that Bolivian monkeys were actually throwing fruit at the Chilean wanderer, probably their intentions were not entirely friendly but the Chilean made the best off it. There is a lot of historical baggage between Chileans and Bolivians. Also noteworthy is that a jungle spirit was involved in this monkey business, so monkeys may have been driven to a certain degree

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Judo survival – use your enemy’s energy or projectiles for yourself, or against him.

        Another example, this time, from the Battle of Chibi (Wikipedia):

        The romances added wholly fictional and fantastical elements to the historical accounts and these were repeated in popular plays and operas. Examples from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms include Zhuge Liang pretending to use magic to call forth favourable winds (that he had in fact predicted by astronomical observation) for the fire ship attack, his strategy of “using straw boats to borrow arrows“, and Guan Yu capturing and releasing Cao Cao at Huarong Trail.

        The romances refers to the novel, Romances of The Three Kingdoms.

      2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Fortunately for him, they were probably not the same type of monkeys I once witnessed throwing extremely inedible missiles, at visitors to Chester Zoo.

        1. Mel

          You can only throw what you’ve got. If you run out of one thing, you have to throw something else. Nature is generous.

      3. Oregoncharles

        He was lucky they weren’t throwing the fruit AFTER they’d, umm, processed it. Monkeys have been known to do that (including people).

        He also thought they led him to water – probably because they were going there. Maybe some of that fruit had psychedelic properties?

      4. craazyman

        Imagine getting food delivery in the bolivian jungle! I guess its not just new yawk where civilization flourishes.

        What happened to the Chili-bro is not that unusual. Here is a report from indonesia . . .

        Sorry for the dreadfully Long comment but im amazed to find an erudite science link here and im posting in kind ,,,

        An reader, Alan Lamers, working on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia reports that many people are disappearing in the jungle, apparently due to a very unusual form of abduction that takes place if they wear certain colors. Some are returned, but generally with no memory of what happened to them.

        His report follows:

        I am on an island called Sulawesi in Indonesia. To be exact, I a writing this from the city of Makassar also known as Ujung Pandang Sulawesi Selatan (South Sulawesi).

        I started running across this story about 3 years ago when I went to a small village in the district of Sandu Batu in South Sulawesi. I was told not to bring any clothing with yellow in it or any other bright colors to wear in the jungle. Only Black or White. Black was the most preferred. I had to ask why. They said that people who wear these bright colors will disappear.

        I thought it was some kind of cultural taboo that had a harsh punishment if broken, so I complied of course. We got to the village and everyone wore black. The villagers verified that people do indeed disappear but this village would not say why. When we got there, rested, met with the leaders of the village, about 10 of us proceeded to go into the jungle to witness illegal logging that was occurring there and the villagers wanted to show us the damage.

        One of my friends, who is a Bugis-Makassar, didn’t listen or understand the warning and wore yellow socks. We did our tour and returned. He was strangely quiet. That night he became extremely ill. I had never seen a person projectile vomit that hard. He had an extreme fever also. We nursed him and about a day later he returned to his healthy self. Then he told us what happened.

        He said something had bitten him on his right legs calf and then his thigh. He showed us the marks. They were huge scratches. He said he could not see what was attacking him. He said he did not want to tell us what happened because he was embarrassed. The villagers stood around us with these knowing looks while we looked at the marks.

        I asked them what it was. They did ant to say, but they said he was very lucky. Usually people disappear. I was stunned. It was not a taboo. It was a serious threat.

        I just came back from the city of Palopo last night. I went there to visit a friend. Then I heard this story from her. Her cousin and four others went for a three day hike in the mountains about an hour out of town. When they did not return she began to worry. after about a week things got very serious.

        She hired a search party with her own money, you have to understand she is poor so the cost to her was enormous. I know it was a few months ago because she would send me notes apologizing for not having the money to pay me her monthly loan payment. I found out it was because of the search party. Anyway I digress, she spent a month in the mountains searching for her cousin and his friends. They found only her brother.

        He was severely emaciated but was still alive. He was also traumatized. He was also alone. The families of the missing men forced her and her family to continue searching for the four missing people. They have never been found. Not a trace. Not even a body. They just disappeared.

        The brother has no memory as to what happened. He does not know how they got separated. He was so traumatized by what happened he did not speak for two months. I questioned him a bit but I stopped for now because he was returning to his previous state.

        I asked my friend what she thought happened. She said it was the Jin. Jin is Arabic for demon. She said many many people have disappeared in the mountains because of the Jin. I asked my engineer friend who I worked with about this early today. He said it happens often and reminded me of Wala Wala the village we had gone to. Entire cultures have developed around this problem. They wear only black because they believe this allows them to travel through the jungle undetectable by whatever it is that takes these people. At first I thought perhaps it was a python. The largest snake ever caught was python. It was caught in Sulawesi. I was immediately corrected. Snakes are not a problem to grown adults they said. That theory died on the spot.

        There is something taking these people Whitley. Something terrible and evil in Sulawesi. The people of Sulawesi have come to terms with it and have tried to adapt themselves to deal with whatever it is. It has gone on long enough to bend culture. I will continue to investigate what this is. It is one of the strangest and most dangerous true stories I have ever come across. Could it be extraterrestrials? Maybe but who? It would be easy for extraterrestrials to hunt human beings here because villages are so remote. I go by foot to many of them.There are few roads in some areas. Also 85% are Muslim and therefore people are not allowed to talk about this sort of thing and the religion treats this circumstance as nonsense because it does not fit into doctrine and is in constant competition with Animism. People are embarrassed to talk about it. This is a wild world Whitley.

        Indonesia is one of the most volatile geographical areas in the world. The energy produced allows all sorts of entities to exist. Spirits are rampant here because of this. There word for Spirit is Hantu. I have experienced Hantu many times while here in Indonesia but that is another story.

        Our correspondent provides this follow-up to his continuing investigation:

        After a bit of a talk with some people who got the young man who had survived the hike in the jungle to talk, I interviewed and recorded the information as best as I could.

        I found out he kept seeing what the Bugis call Jin Kurcaci. It means little demon people. These things do what is called “penculikan” or abduction. No one knows why they do this. But sometimes the people come back after a bit. The people or creatures who do this have a small nose and their eyes are small and black, but their mouths are very broad and when they smile it is very large compared to the rest of their face. He could not remember the color of their skin. I asked for a picture to be drawn. He managed a crude happy face with a nose consisting of a single line and a huge grimace. The boy was the only one who could see them out of the five.He kept seeing a lot of them but when he would try to show the others one of the four who disappeared could see them.

        He also saw a strange animal he could not recognize. These animals are the size of a horse with huge antlers. He said he saw herds of them. He could not understand where they came from or why there were so many. They not an animal indigenous to the area. There is no such known animal that big in Sulawesi.

        Apparently this is a widespread problem. The reason why I say I recorded the conversation as best as I could what I mean is that the batteries in the recorder which were just changed before I arrived went dead during the interview. This has happened before to me. So did the battery in my keyboard which is also new. I will be going home in a week but am stopping in Java first to see if this anomaly is occurring there. I keep getting told it happens a lot. I mean a lot. I did a search “Orang Hilang” or “disappearing person” and a lot of stories showed up. But the stories are in Bahasa. I plan on translating as many as I can because I have first hand experience.

        1. craazyboy

          whoa. That sounds like a cross between Gulliver’s Travels and a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. Spooky!

          Hope the guy goes back and tracks down the lilyputins. The bullwinkles too.

          1. HopeLB

            My God, they are clearly after synthetic yellow pigment with which to make a second sun!(Most probably, to power their solar panels 24/7 which in turn will power their Walmart Smiley faced spaceship and whisk them back to their little demon planet where they will unite with the Little Prince and his rose.)
            It also sounds like “Shades of Grey, The High Road to Saffron” by Jasper Forde
            but set in a jungle and both melding and competing with different belief systems. The part about pretending and ignoring incidents that refute religious authority is just like the Chromatics ignoring the Apochrypha even when one is standing outside the window peeing on his feet. (In his defense, the Apochcrypha might pee on his feet to kill athlete’s foot fungus, if he were there in the book which he is not.) Yellows in the book are highest ranking and the whole society is constantly collecting old pigment which is highly prized over synthetics. Perhaps here though, they are after yellow synthetic pigment instead of natural yellow pigment because of its neony brightness? (I remember reading twenty years ago that we are running out of blue pigment. but since then I believe several new blues have been synthesized as has the blackest black.Still have some of those huge tubes of ultramarine/cobalt and cerulean.)

            Thanks as always for everything.




            1. craazyboy

              I thought I was the only one that read “Shades of Grey, The High Road to Saffron”. This reminds me, the book was begging for a sequel, and I need to check if the author got around to it yet. He also did the series with story book characters having real lives, or something like that. One of the more original authors around. China Miéville being another who always comes up with something completely different.

              Can’t imagine we’d ever run out of cobalt blue, but I haven’t read your links yet.

              I’ll keep an eye out for Walmart Smiley Faced spaceships. They sound dangerous. Sneaky too.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Because I can’t help myself: the Bugis, a tribe/ethnic group referenced twice, are the real, original “Boogeymen.” The reason was that they were pirates. A film series called “Ring of Fire”, about Indonesia, spends most of a film on them. They built, may still, remarkable sailing ships, which they operated in the Inland Sea of Indonesia. Like the Vikings, they were opportunistic; sometimes they traded, and sometimes they raided. Anyway, you didn’t want to see them coming. I assume their piratical activities have been suppressed by now. The filmmakers actually traveled on a
          Bugis ship.

          That movie, a documentary, had some pretty spooky stuff, too. It’s a wild and woolly place, and maybe especially Sulawesi.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Can you believe that human?! Meatbags must always yield right of way to the robots! Get with the program!

      1. cnchal

        How right you are. In an industrial location, robotic machines are fenced off from the work area where people work, and the horror show coming from Alabama and the automotive supplier factories there is a stark reminder of what can go wrong when people and automated machinery mix.

        Autonomous vehicles are being let loose in a situation with a seemingly infinite number of variables, and it’s clear that more people will be killed and injured, but it’s a price the engineers behind this technology accept, because they believe their cars won’t run them over and they will get filthy rich. The lesson is, for those in Arizona at the moment, keep your head up, and if you spot an Uber Volvo or Mercedes with the creepy looking rooftop, run away.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I have seen those cars in Downtown Tucson. And, speaking​ as a bicycle rider, they scare me.

          1. polecat

            Next ,they’ll be equipped with some off-the-self DARPA-designed sonic cannons, to ‘push’ the offenders out of ‘harms’ way …

      2. DH

        We have a guy on our block who walks his dog down the middle of the road. If a car wants to go by him, they almost have to drive on the grass.

    2. cm

      I’m curious about what actually happened. This Russian Times article says:

      The Volvo SUV was making a left turn at an intersection in Arizona, where Uber has been trialing autonomous vehicles, on Friday when another car “failed to yield” and struck it, according to police.

      When making a left hand turn you are not supposed to proceed unless it is safe. In an intersection with no dedicated left turn arrow an oncoming vehicle has the right of way.

      I wish we had better details about what actually happened.

      Arizona is an “at-fault” state, thus a ticket should have been assigned to one of the two participants in the crash.

      1. carycat

        Since Uber is still shaking out the technology, that car has got to be packed to the gills with sensors, dashcams, and other recording devices. So where is the telemetry? Probably being wiped with a cloth as we speak.

      2. bob

        “I wish we had better details about what actually happened.”

        The way these billionaires are able to muzzle these stories IS the story here. They can project power down into local law enforcement and control any press that is released.

        The death of the non-driver of an Elon was the best example of this. The death wasn’t reported until a month later, and then blame was deflected 2 months later, in the New York Times,

      3. DH

        In some states and provinces, stop signs are suggestions, not orders. The Uber car was probably not programmed to realize that.

    3. Poopypants

      If your self driving car is unable to deal with a car driven by ‘a person who failed to give way to the self-driving car’, you best not be testing it in Arizona.

      I hear they’re shipping some of the 2018 models to Arizona less turn signals, figured they’d save money since no one uses them anyway.

  5. Linda

    America’s 100 Richest Places

    About a dozen cities in California make the top 100.

    The only two from Colorado are in the same county.

    Number 2 in rank, Cherry Hills Village, Colo. Arapahoe County.
    $403.5K household income 2015

    Then, on the poor side of town:

    Number 87 in rank, Greenwood Village, Colo. Arapahoe County
    $200.5K household income 2015

    Well, I don’t know why this interested me, but there you have it.

  6. allan

    Hundreds of thousands in Yemen protest against Saudi-led intervention [New Arab]

    Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of the country’s capital Sanaa on Sunday to protest against the Saudi-led coalition’s ongoing military intervention.

    The mass demonstration marks the second anniversary of the start of the Saudi coalition’s campaign, which began in March 2015.

    Riyadh intervened in support of the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who had been ousted from Yemen’s capital by Houthi rebels.

    The military campaign, which has included numerous airstrikes, has drawn widespread criticism, as well as accusations of war crimes.

    The Saudi-led coalition’s war against Houthi rebels in Yemen has cost more than 10,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of famine. …

    And the war has only intensified since January 20

  7. m

    What is funny is that Trump followers are the street level tea party people, then that freedom caucus is what is left of the Koch brother’s Americans for Prosperity/tea party group.

    What do the rich tea party people want compared to what Trump promised the average guy that would show up at rallies holding a don’t tread on me flag?

    Also not surprised about Clintons & French cement company, maybe that is where they got the idea for the Clinton Foundation. Scamming the public since the 80s.

  8. Carolinian

    Re Vanity Fair–so Brett Ratner invokes the name of Pauline Kael to defend Batman Versus Superman against Rotten Tomatoes? The New Yorker doyenne was famously unpredictable, but it’s probably safe to say that her response to last year’s worst movie would have been to suggest Ratner seek another line of work.

    That said, just watched and enjoyed Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, a RatPac production.

    1. RMO

      I just love the assertion that the WORST thing to happen to movie culture is the ability for everyone to see what a huge number of casual viewers and critics think about a film. Really? I got a good laugh at his self-pitying line about how no one understands how much hard work goes into making a big feature film (even if you don’t bother with things like good dialogue, substantial character development and an interesting plot) and how awful it is that the great unwashed can weigh in with an opinion on that film on a site like Rotten Tomatoes. For the last few years when it comes to figuring out whether a new movie may be worth the time and money to see in the theater if I’m undecided I’ve relied on Midnight Screenings. They manage to provide the one thing I really need from a new movie review: enough information about the film for me to decide whether I would probably like it, regardless of whether they liked the movie or not.

  9. MoiAussie

    In their haste to take Raqqa ahead of the Syrian army and carve out a chunk of N.E. Syria, the US-led Kurdish SDF forces have been advancing on Tabqa airport and dam 25 miles west of Raqqa. The dam is strategically important as it supplies electricity to much of the region. If breached, Raqqa and beyond would be inundated. ISIS has previously threatened to breach it, but ISIS forces and their families in Raqqa would be among the many victims. ISIS remains in control of the dam for now.

    It’s just now being reported that shelling has damaged the power plant that allows the dam to function, and the dam, with all gates shut, cannot be controlled and is filling. The Times of Israel reports that Islamic State orders evacuation of Raqqa amid dam collapse fears. The Grauniad has a similar report.

    Syrian activists said Sunday the Islamic State group has ordered an evacuation from its de facto capital, Raqqa, following warnings that the Tabqa Dam upstream on the Euphrates River could collapse.

    If the earth-fill dam overflows it will make Oroville look like a complete non-event and constitute major destruction of Syrian infrastructure. ISIS may be exaggerating the danger wildly, but any confirmation that they are evacuating in significant numbers from Raqqa would be cause for worry.

    1. carycat

      we have to kill it in order to save it. so the liberators will be welcomed with flowers and open arms again.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Raqqa 24 has just reported that water and electricity is restored and flowing to Tabqa. The dam would have to be out of commission for weeks before that kind of threat would materialize. There hasn’t been any dangerous rise in water levels rendering your fear-mongering moot.

      Thanks for posting the Times of Israel article though. They’re spreading Daesh propaganda which originates from Al Qaeda supporters who masquerade as activists. That’s pretty funny.

      In their haste to take Raqqa ahead of the Syrian army and carve out a chunk of N.E. Syria, the US-led Kurdish SDF forces have been advancing on Tabqa airport and dam 25 miles west of Raqqa.

      Gee, that doesn’t sound biased at all. The Syrian Arab Army has it’s hands full fighting IS in the outskirts of Palmyra and battling a jihadi-rebel offensive in Hama province. It would’ve taken them months to get to Tabqa as they have other priorities right about now.


      BBC is confirming original claim that water/power has been partially restored.

      1. MoiAussie

        Hi Andrew. I plead not guilty to your charge of fear-mongering, as I had no such intention. You seem to ignore my last par, where I consider that reports of the danger may be wildly exaggerated. Your confidence that ISIS won’t try to damage the dam comes from where, exactly? You also seem to object to my framing, that the US-led SDF is trying to carve out a chunk of NE Syria, when this is both obvious and admitted. As was Turkey.

        The situation is fluid. Partial restoration of power, whatever that means. Latest reports indicate SDF now controls Tabqa airport, and ISIS still in control at the dam. As I said, they have previously threatened to breach the dam, so the potential danger there is certainly worth a mention.

        MSM reports are mainly running with “Hurrah for the US-led SDF” stories or echoing Daesh propaganda. I’m looking for the reality. The tell is whether ISIS flees Raqqa.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Your perspective is biased. First of all, the influence the US wields over SDF is quite limited. The recent spat over the so-called Rojave Peshmerga demonstrates the inability of Americans to impose their will on the SDF. Furthermore while they receive military support no country in the Coalition has recognized the federalist political entity that the SDF has created. That’s even ignoring the recent deals that SDF has forged with Russia/Damascus over the borders of Manbij.

          Which brings me to the fact that SDF isn’t carving up territory in Syria. It contains predominantly Arab groups which call Tabqa and Raqqa home. They’re liberating their homes from Islamic State which is dominated by foreign jihadists and a leadership that mostly hails from Iraq. From a military perspective this means that SDF has good local intelligence and contacts in the areas they are moving into.

          Lastly, while the Kurdish YPG is the dominate faction of the Syrian Democratic Forces ii isn’t a sectarian entity unlike many other factions. This was implied by your “Kurdish SDF” phrase. In reality it contains many ethnic minorities and an increasing majority of Arabs. Factoring in this ongoing development it remains to be seen how long the YPG will remain in it’s dominant position compared to the rest of SDF. I don’t really think they’re interested in governing territory that is predominantly Arab at any rate.

      2. MoiAussie

        A Turkish source has just now reported PYD takes Tabqa Dam in northern Syria. If the SDF now has full control, the danger appears to be considerably reduced.

        And it had occurred to me that inducing a large civilian flight from Raqqa might be part of the ISIS strategy for moving on before the going in Raqqa gets too tough.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Engineers are checking out the dam and it seems to be fine. It’s only Arab/Kurdish speaking sources for right now. Widespread confirmation in English will probably follow soon.

          And it had occurred to me that inducing a large civilian flight from Raqqa might be part of the ISIS strategy for moving on before the going in Raqqa gets too tough.

          Now that is an astute observation that doesn’t rely on Amaq.

          *edited/added* Amaq is Islamic State’s media/propaganda arm.

  10. Mark Gisleson

    I wrote a lot of resumes in the ’90s. When I worked with teachers who had masters degrees, we always did two versions: one showing the degree, the other showing only post-grad studies. Teachers with masters got paid more, but found it very hard to get new jobs.

    Each profession had some version of this dodge. In a world filled with narcissistic managers, it’s hard for qualified people to get hired unless they’re young and can be bullied.

    This is all the result of management by fiat. If you’re a manager, you’re right. If you’re a senior manager, you’re always right. If you’re an expert, you defer to management because a ‘C’ average Business student is always smarter than the engineers, technicians and experts. Always.

  11. Susan

    Meyssan article(s) in Voltaire: Thank you. I read several more than the one linked on LafargeHolcim. For having a wider angle and a higher powered microscope on the Middle East wars, I’ll have to put this book on my reading list. How many US citizens, myself included have wondered, WTF are we doing there? This volume may offer more perspective than we are able to parse via so-called journalism.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Lice zapping drones

    Another example of moar technology to fix the problems created by other technology. Better would be a more sustainable polytrophic aquaculture involving multiple species. The problem with monoculture salmon farms is that there are too many fish in too small of an area which encourages parasites and disease.

    With polytrophic farms, the waste from one species feeds another and it’s much more like the natural ecosystem. The best ones I’ve heard of have salmon, sea cucumbers, urchins, mussels and seaweed all being farmed together.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Why not just invent a salmon “smart” enough not to get lice in the first place?

      Cut out the middle man….er, middle-drone.

      1. craazyboy

        Sounds like another case of hippie punching to me, and most salmon really don’t have lice.

    2. m

      Just avoid factory fish. Hard to do with the increase in food fraud.
      Aside from lice, farms are located along the coast line with polluted water & their food is full of carcinogens. All the junk fish & leftovers that they won’t put in pet food ends up in fish food.
      Carcinogens hide in fat- in fish, pets & people.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes it is very hard to do – one of the problems with the sea lice is that they propagate in the farms and then infect the wild salmon stocks which are already severely depleted. If people stoppeed eating farmed salmon the wild stocks would be even more threatened than they already are.

        The sea lice problem really is a big deal for salmon farms from what I understand – quite a number of protests in the Pacific NW and other areas about this at least a few years back when I paid closer attention to the issue. First peoples especially were up in arms because of threats to their traditional livelihoods.

        Better farms are one solution as I suggested above.

        Even better would be fewer people so that humans aren’t consuming everything like a swarm of locusts.

        1. inode_buddha

          I fail to see the problem. Lice are protein too, so why don’t we eat them? After all, we’re getting them for free!

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Well all kidding aside, it is a big problem which you can see here .

            The lice are particularly deadly to small young fish. Also note the map at the link that shows the location of salmon farms in comparison to wild spawning routes. The risk is for the wild hatchlings that have to go near all the lice infested farms where they pick them up too.

            Surely there is a better way to preserve the species than droning the lice. Some common sense would go a long way.

  13. Katharine

    I liked the article that was linked beside the one on power:

    One of the best ways to relax selective forces is to work together, something that mathematical biologist Martin Nowak has called the “snuggle for survival.” New research has only deepened and broadened the importance of cooperation and lifting of selective pressures. It’s a big, snuggly world out there.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Physicists find that as clocks get more precise, time gets more fuzzy

    Does that also apply our understanding of facts?

    As the brain gets clearer, the understanding more precise, facts get more fuzzier?

    Those with clearer and understanding brains, please share your stories.

        1. craazyboy

          Scientific types have always preferred cuckoo clocks. So the preferred test instrument to measured time at quantum levels of precision would be the cuckoo clock. A very small one.

          However, a Paradox. After a bit of thought, one realizes that you may need to apply the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal to all the moving parts in your measure tool. Then things get cuckoo all the way down, and nothing is left but Chaos Theory.

    1. Lee

      Is time even a thing? As in, does it exist an entity in its own right rather than as a social construction based on the changing, usually repetitive relationships of objects in space? A related question: is space really empty? I’m going to toke up and clarify my mind then get back to you. Or not.

      1. craazyboy

        As long as “lite bowl”, inhale pot smoke, has to be sequenced in a particular order – we have time.

  15. allan

    Republican Meadows: Tax plan does not have to be revenue neutral [Reuters]

    U.S. Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said on Sunday there is a possibility that his group could support a tax reform plan that is not revenue neutral. …

    A fiscal conservative, Meadows had said that tax reform depended on the repeal of Obamacare in order to offset the likely cost of tax cuts. …

    That was then and this is now.

    And love the way Reuters can’t help itself and labels Meadows as a “fiscal conservative”.

    Pro tip: if someone says that tax cuts don’t need to be revenue neutral, they’re not a fiscal conservative.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Looks like deficit spending (deficits on the part of the government, spending by the taxpayers – do your patriotic duty) is on the way.

    2. Jim Haygood

      if someone says that tax cuts don’t need to be revenue neutral, they’re not a fiscal conservative

      Precisely. It’s vital to recall that despite its occasionally donning a “fiscal conservative” Halloween suit, the R party is no such thing. It’s just the culturally conservative wing of the Big Gov, war socialist Depublicrat duopoly … a bit more God ‘n gun-friendly than the D party wing, but otherwise indistinguishable from the Cali-NY axis across the aisle.

      When the irresistible force of amped-up deficit spending collides with the immovable object of the debt ceiling, something has to give. Partisan democracy’s short-term incentive of winning the next election guarantees that more debt is always the outcome.

      As I’ve said before, the Trump administration can easily run the current $20 trillion federal debt up to $30 trillion, given two terms in office. It’s our thoughtful legacy to the nation’s yoots! ;-)

      1. craazyboy

        The debt ceiling can be a profit center too! I recall last time congress “negotiated” a big increase in the debt ceiling, they got each others votes by also passing pet spending bills benefiting the lobby of everyone’s choice. Matt Stroller reported on that along with the list of ridiculous spending items.

        One, I recall, extending the corn ethanol tax break, was too much for me to believe. Already that ranks as one the worst pieces of non-defense spending this country has ever done.

      2. Andrew Watts

        As I’ve said before, the Trump administration can easily run the current $20 trillion federal debt up to $30 trillion, given two terms in office. It’s our thoughtful legacy to the nation’s yoots!

        That’s optimistic. If Trump has his way with tax policy I think he’ll double the national debt.

      3. oh

        The revenue neutral talk is just BS to justify their cutting social spending such as SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. and to enrich the 1%. The DimRats love it too but feign their opposition.

    3. DH

      The Freedom Caucus might be realizing that they need to negotiate a teensy bit to stay relevant. If the moderate Republicans gain ascendancy, then they could cut deals with the Democrats and make the Freedom Caucus just noisy hangers-on.

      They haven’t even gotten to the hard part of paying for tax cuts yet in tax reform, as well as raising the debt ceiling.

      The Republicans have vilified the Democrats and not even attempted discussions with them on anything related to healthcare etc. Trump is being denigrated because he didn’t understand the details, but in reality there were no details that could get enough Republicans to pass a healthcare bill without Democrats because the wings of the GOP are diametrically opposed. As a result, their attempts to do healthcare looked like the ending of the original Italian Job where any move towards the Freedom Caucus lost moderate votes and vice versa:

      So at what point does Paul Ryan get replaced as Speaker by somebody who the moderate Republicans and Democrats can both support, similar to a minority government in parliamentary systems. Trump could then negotiate with this group that is more likely to produce legislation to help his supporters than the Republicans in the House alone will.

      1. marym

        If by Trump supporters you mean rich white people a coalition of corporate Dems and non-HFC Repubs should be fine. Grand Bargains for what’s left of the safety net and privatization of everything.

        1. Marina Bart

          I don’t see a “moderate” Republican/establishment Democrat coalition happening.

          Republicans hate Democrats. I think Hillary’s quixotic attempt to get Republican votes demonstrates that. The richer they are, the less tied to party they are, clearly. So for the reps themselves, maybe the hatred is feigned. But they’ll have to factor in how much they’ll be punished by their voters, conservative media, and the GOTV networks (like evangelicals) they rely on, especially in non-presidential elections. Koch money, even if the Bircher Boys want to push for such an alliance, won’t help with that. Are there even that many elected “moderate” Republicans in the House? I was under the impression Ryan barely got himself elected Speaker. And if the Democrats in the House try to to ally with them, the Democratic base in their carefully manicured districts will go nuts. There’s no electoral constituency for this play, only a donor constituency.

          A cross-party neoliberal alliance forcing Trump in line would be a nightmare. But I think it’s just that: a frightening dream, that will not become reality. (We have plenty of IRL horrors as it is, of course.)

          1. JTFaraday

            “I don’t see a “moderate” Republican/establishment Democrat coalition happening.”

            Well, they just did. The Free State RINOs stampeded away from the Slave State “Freedom Caucus” and declined to repeal Obamacare, for the same reasons any Democrat would give.

            Isn’t this the endlessly rehearsed complaint around here? They’re all the same?

            1. Marina Bart

              That’s not an alliance. The wings of the Republican party refusing to fly in sync is not the same as one of those wings coordinating with a wing of the other party.

              Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if some Republican Congresscritters fundamentally agree with positions held by establishment Democrats. Neoliberals gonna neolib, after all. My point was that there are systemic obstacles and tensions that will prevent that alliance from forming in public ways, like voting on bills.

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Don’t Fight Their Lies With Lies of Your Own Masha Gessen, New York Times

    What a hot mess this is!

    She opens the article with the admission that she had told her students that she ” had expressed great sympathy for the underlying cause and the overarching mission of the exaggerations [of Stalin’s survivors]: These people were trying to remember and convey unimaginable tragedy, which had to be described as greater in scope in every retelling — precisely to maintain its unimaginable quality.

    Sympathy. Exaggerations. Had to be described. Got it.

    She then proceeds to caution that there is no need for exaggeration currently, since “inconceivable” things are happening every day, so no need to embellish.

    What follows is her partial greatest hits list: Trump won the election, Ivanka has an office in the West Wing (Mon Dieu!), Trump called for Russia to hack clinton’s emails. And my personal favorite: ” The secret behind this state of affairs is rumored to be the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon. Mr. Bannon, it is said, has nursed a secret plot to destroy the American state.”

    Rumored to be. It is said. Nursed a secret plot. Yikes, “inconceivable” things really are happening every day. In masha’s mind.

    Gessen is a dumpster fire.

    1. Carolinian

      Hey c’mon she did say “rumored to be”–irresponsible not to speculate.

      Plus it’s in the NYT so what would one expect. They are leading the resistance from their secret redoubt in midtown Manhattan.

      1. Harry

        I know this will be a surprise to you, but I have yet to exceed my free allowance of nyt articles. Strange!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am guessing Gessen is saying this: Only use party-approved propaganda.

      “Our narratives are always true, even when we feel tragic and experience the unimaginable. Don’t take initiatives on your own, lest there be inconsistencies.”

      Because when it’s inconsistent, people will start to doubt its truth value.

      She could have been a great writer of religious books, millennia ago, when the world was more credulous.

    3. Alex Morfesis

      RMA…revenue maximized articles…google trending AI editors…although…to be fair…it has always been this way in one form or another…the difference is today das litulz peepulz can easily compare multiple voices and angles from around the globe on the same issue from the comfort of their telescreen…

      It is nice to imagine people with a sheepskin and limited opportunities and insanely low wages should somehow be our heros instead of just humans cutting and pasting from a pitch sent via press release and an “approved” set of quotable stakeholders…and media lawyers who will be brought in to shoot down a “difficult” angle of a story if the editor has a hard time convincing the recalcitrant scribe to back off a certain position on a story…

      Not that masha fits that profile since she openly hates the russian attitude towards (how many letters in the acronym for alternative lifestyle)

      Be careful what you think for…

    4. Vatch

      I think this is the most significant paragraph in the article:

      Still, I advised the student to try to stick to verifiable facts and to avoid exaggeration — not so much for the sake of the planet as for the sake of the political environment. The public sphere needs to be protected from President Trump. It also needs to be protected from the equal and opposite reaction to him, which can be nearly as destructive.

      In other words, don’t lie. How can that be bad advice? As for Bannon and/or Trump wishing to bring down the U.S. government, obviously they want to preserve the national security state apparatus, because they asked for budget increases for the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, but they want reductions for almost everything else:

      And yes, Bannon’s possible desire to destroy the state is only a an unconfirmed rumor:

      1. Skip Intro

        ‘Destroy’ is such an ugly word. ‘Drown in a bathtub’ has a much more folksy ring to it. Where’s Luntz ferchrissakes? Somebody get that boy a focus group.

  17. djrichard

    Amazon’s Tepid Response to Counterfeiters Frustrates Sellers

    Same reason there’s a tepid response to counterfeiting of stocks (naked short selling) and counterfeiting of the Fed Reserve’s currency (fractional reserve lending / naked short selling of the US dollar). The counterfeiting adds liquidity (don’t you know).

  18. Scylla

    I just thought I would share something that came across my twitter feed this morning. In the past there have been a few short discussions about Black Bloc tactics. The following is a youtube video of an indigenous woman who was an organizer for the protests prior to the Vancouver Olympics. I would urge everyone to take the time to watch the video as it will give you a greater understanding of Black Bloc tactics and how they are utilized as part of a greater whole during organized protest actions. It is important to understand that the Black Bloc is not a group, rather it is a tactic that any group can use (I actually saw video of some pro-Trump protestors using it a few weeks back).

    Now, I have never participated in a Black Bloc, but I do understand their utility and I support the use of the tactic when I support the goals of the protest. The popular conception of Black Bloc is that it is a bunch of (primarily) dudes who charge into a protest without being uninvited and then run off after randomly smashing a few windows, when the fact is that the tactic is often planned and utilized by organizers as part of the protest structure with specific tactical/strategic aims, and that those utilizing the tactic when called for are also contributing to protest efforts in other ways when the tactic is not in use. The woman in the video does a very good job of laying all of this out, dispelling popular misrepresentations of Black Bloc tactics, and she explains how the tactics are useful. I hope everyone finds it interesting.

    10 points on the Black Bloc by Harsha Walia

    1. Lambert Strether

      Those are the Black Bloc talking points, yes. I’ve heard them over and over again.

      They don’t smash CCTV cameras, I am told, at least in Oakland, which does make you wonder.

  19. Vatch

    The value of filibustering against Gorsuch was discussed here on March 24, and I think it’s worth revisiting. Some Senate Democrats are considering various deals with the Republicans that would allow Gorsuch to be confirmed, yet would preserve the filibuster for the future. The Democrats are hoping for concessions from the Republicans, which I think is pointless. I don’t see how anyone could trust the Senate Republicans. Over the next two years, either the Democrats will give the Republicans everything that the Republicans want, or the filibuster will be eliminated. Here’s an article about some of this:

    Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is one of the senators seeking a solution that would avoid the nuclear option, two Democratic sources said.

    Coons is “open about his concern for preserving the filibuster and the impact this process may have on the Senate, and he has talked with both Republican and Democratic senators about that. At the same time, he remains concerned about the approach Judge Gorsuch would bring to the Court,” said spokesman Sean Coit.

    Another article:

    Another Democratic senator under pressure from both sides on Gorsuch is Michael Bennet, who represents Gorsuch’s home state of Colorado. Bennet has yet to announce his position.

    Republicans are also hopeful that some Democratic members of the judiciary committee, including Chris Coons of Delaware and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, might be wary of blocking a vote on the nominee.

    If you are from Colorado, Delaware, or Minnesota, I recommend that you call the office of your Senator, and insist that Gorsuch be blocked by a filibuster. Here’s their contact information:

    Bennet, Michael F. – (D – CO)
    261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
    (202) 224-5852

    Coons, Christopher A. – (D – DE)
    127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
    (202) 224-5042

    Klobuchar, Amy – (D – MN)
    302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
    (202) 224-3244

  20. knowbuddhau

    >> Physicists find that as clocks get more precise, time gets more fuzzy

    Fascinating, captain. More evidence that our attempts to observe and measure the universe influence the very things we’re attempting to observe. It’s like trying to see the back of your head without a mirror. The more we turn to see it, the more it recedes. We are not disembodied “objective” observers. We’re participating in what we observe.

    How long is a “piece” of time? Reminds me of an excellent documentary I watched recently, with a similar deceptively simple premise: How Long is a Piece of String?

    Horizon set Alan what appeared to be a simple challenge. All he had to do was measure a piece of string.

    But the catch was he had to do it with absolute precision.

    And that turned into a mind-bending journey though the worlds of maths and physics, using quantum mechanics to try to work out where the individual atoms and particles that make up the string actually are.

    On the scale of centimeters, a satisfactory answer might be, 30cm. But zoom in on it and it “grows.” One can always increase (theoretically at least) the magnification such that an ordinary piece of string becomes infinite in length. Mind = blown.

    Spoiler alert: The correct answer is, on what scale?

    1. Parker Dooley

      I first recognized this problem reading a discussion of the measurement of coastlines in Benoit Mandelbrot’s wonderful “The Fractal Geometry of Nature”. Another of his books I would recommend to this audience is “The (Mis)behavior of Markets”.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Fractals rock. How deep is “reality?” How long have you got? The example of coastlines is in the docu, too.

        And it’s even like a word I’ve used a lot today: “reality,” that I’m not really (ha!) comfortable with. I can use it in a sentence, but I can’t tell you what it means with absolute precision.

        All points to the arbitrariness of knowledge. You know what god said (metaphorically speaking!) before creating the world? “Well, you gotta draw the line somewhere.” ;)

  21. Huey Long

    RE: Revelations – Lafarge-Holcim’s jihad

    This story reminds me of Firestone’s financial support of Charles Taylor in Liberia throughout the First Liberian Civil War (, and the role the Union Minière du Haut Katanga played during the creation of the short lived State of Katanga in the 1960’s.

    Multi-nationals have been doing the bidding of western intelligence services for a long, long time. Unfortunately, it rarely makes the news, likely due to some combination of intelligence influence in the media (Mockingbird) and the threat of lost ad revenue from the multi-nationals in question.

    1. Andrew Watts

      In a civil war situation it’s close to impossible to prevent trade between belligerent powers. It’s too lucrative and often times a matter of necessity. I’ve heard it was like that during the break up of Yugoslavia but particularly during the siege of Sarajevo.

      It has been known for a long time that the old LeFarge cement factory has long been used as a base by coalition forces. It’s strategically located for the liberation of Raqqa (cough) and other things. A poster on the Syrian Civil War subreddit had satellite photos of the area and the coalition assets were clearly on display. I’m not about to take Voltaire’s word on anything without any corroboration.

      Multi-nationals have been doing the bidding of western intelligence services for a long, long time. Unfortunately, it rarely makes the news, likely due to some combination of intelligence influence in the media (Mockingbird) and the threat of lost ad revenue from the multi-nationals in question.

      I never tire of reminding people that multinational corporations are an extension of empire. Pick any country that was occupied by a European power. When the colonial administration and bureaucracy left guess what stayed behind?

      1. Marina Bart

        Extension of empire, or driver of empire? From the East India Company to Exxon, I don’t see the corporations as merely being beneficiaries or subordinate appendages.

    2. wilroncanada

      Huey Long
      I think it’s more like a mutual aid society. Transnational corporations make foreign policy, often in the form of bribes to local officials to ignore human rights, and the Intelligence agencies are the first line of enforcement, both using and bringing in benefit to their black budgets. It’s a chicken and egg question.

    1. marym

      A couple.

      Comparing healthcare spending to mortality rates from causes including those having nothing to do with healthcare is a strawman. You need to measure against a relevant criterion – for example, a Century Fund study in 2006 of outcomes for people who contracted a potentially fatal but treatable condition, were treated, and survived. The US ranked 15. (The Healing of America by T.R. Reid).

      Her dismissal of preventive care and early detection based on one study of one type of screening is trivializing and irresponsible.

      Another strawman is her garbled attempt to portray the issue as an argument that government should spend more money, and that doing so (as in Obamacare), getting back to her earlier argument, doesn’t prevent mortality issues unrelated to healthcare. Without trying to unwind that as such: Health care spending is both public and private. Spending, public or private, goes to profit, marketing/advertising, and administration that wouldn’t be needed in a universal system with non-profit insurance and government negotiation of provider reimbursement rates. Spending may not result in care (unaffordable deductibles, narrow networks).

      Denial of care is far more likely and prevalent in a for-profit financing system than in a universal not-for-profit one.

      Megan’s probably got hers, though.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Dan Carlin’s 1 hour podcast #314 – Unhealthy Numbers gives a pretty good, easy to understand overview of how dysfunctional our health care system is. He differentiates between health care and health insurance. And he emphasizes that our healthcare outcomes are not commensurate to the healthcare costs despite having a privatized system.

    2. ChrisPacific

      It amounts to a lot of intellectually dishonest sniping about how the current US healthcare system isn’t as bad or expensive as people think, and even if it was, it can never be changed because the system makes it too haaaaaard.

      Preventative care is a good example. She takes it to mean colonoscopies and mammograms (rather than, say, diet and exercise programs) links to an article describing how they are overprescribed to people who don’t really need them, and concludes that preventative care is a waste of time and we shouldn’t be focusing on it. Huh? And that’s before even considering the difference in the healthcare experience between the [well-insured] subjects under discussion in the article and the un- or under-insured (a topic that she mentions nowhere).

      I see from the bio bob linked that intellectual dishonesty is her stock in trade, so I don’t see much reason to go into more detail.

  22. bob

    Albany- Governor Cuomo announced his latest anti-Russia push today. He seeks to prevent well meaning americans from providing aid and comfort to Russians.

    Although the bears are native to NY, evidence uncovered by CNN provided direct links to Russian intelligence among native NY bear populations.

    “we don’t know where they are coming from, and what they want. These numbers are crazy- 6,000 bears in NY? That’s too many, and certainly not natural” said DEC commissioner, Ranger Smith.

    “they’re in our back yards!” said one very concerned resident of the obalst of Westchester. “one of my neighbors feeds them. How can I be sure they aren’t using advanced mind control to influence us while we sleep?”. Ranger Smith agreed, citing his close working relationship with both Cuomo, and the former presidential candidate who officials would not name, citing an ongoing investigation into Russian ties to backyard bears. “we know they’re here. They’ve been here for years. This time it seems they have been able to take over some of the highest offices in the US.”

    Cuomo also stressed how easy it was for the bears to move across state, and international boundaries, without being fingerprinted or ID’d. “they can walk right over from Russia during the winter. NY shares a Border with Canada. As former vice presidential candidate Palin noted at the time, she can see Russia from her back yard”. There is evidence being provided that the Russians are leaving trails of picnic baskets from the bearing sea, to the St. Lawrence River, in order to steer the bears.

    “Russia, Alaska, Canada, then NY. It’s that easy” said Cuomo. “Look at a map!”

  23. Oregoncharles

    “Only Black People Showed Up To The DC Town Hall Meeting To Address The Surging Number Of Missing Black And Latina Girls Clutch.”
    That’s just really sad.
    Is there any indication of what’s happening to them? How much of a police investigation? Neighborhood patrols?

  24. ChrisAtRU

    #iAmDisappoint … but unsurprising.


    LIDAR is like driving with a pin-art view of the world. Purely optic vision models need massive training to differentiate between humans and assorted objects on the move. The race to get self driving cars going is a race to dispense with the cost and labor-related issues around hiring humans. At this point, it’s really just a toss up as to how Uber will go belly up: pre-IPO due to litigation from Waymo, litigation from drivers and spiraling losses? Or post-IPO due to litigation from drivers, accident victims and spiraling losses?

    Russia! Russia!

    See the latest tweet-storm from Mr Dao. Man, I hope he’s on somebody’s payroll. If he’s doing this for free, it would be a shame … from a bargaining-power-of-labor perspective! What irks me most is that this narrative is not just about Russia, it’s also about delegitimizing any form of dissent against the Dem Party establishment. See Dao’s sixth tweet – you see it doesn’t matter that what WikiLeaks revealed was true – Brazille, #DWS favoring #HRC; “pied paper” strategy etc – what matters is that “Russia” was the source (for as much as that can ever be proven) and therefore it was propaganda. There is more of this odious trend emanating from the stooges over at #MSNBSeeYaLataSuckas too. On March 21st, Mme. Maddow devoted much of her show to the “bots” previously identified as sites run out of former Yugoslav republics. Maddow conveniently leaves out the fact that there were fake news sites for both candidates, but more importantly, that the content being promoted on the foreign fake news sites came from US sites. From the Wired article that covered the Macedonian Fake News story:

    “At best, Boris’ English is halting and fractured—certainly not good enough to turn out five to 10 articles about Trump and Clinton every day for weeks on end. Fortunately for him, the election summoned forth the energies of countless alt-right websites in the US, which manufactured white-label falsehoods disguised as news on an industrial scale. Across the spectrum of right-wing media—from Trump’s own concise lies on Twitter to the organized prevarication of Breitbart News and—ideology beat back the truth.”

    And, of course, because it’s Maddow, she couldn’t resist getting one last dig against Bernie Sanders. She goes through her whole opening spiel and pauses at the end to remind us (full transcript):

    “When “Huffington Post” did their dive into how Bernie supporters got
    targeted in this Russian attack, they focused in part on a Bernie Sanders
    Facebook page called “Bernie Sanders Lovers” which says it is based in
    Burlington, Vermont. It is not based in Burlington, Vermont. It`s based
    in Albania. and nobody who`s not from Albania appears to have anything to
    do with that Bernie Sanders site.
    But the important thing here is that that Bernie Sanders lovers page run
    out of Albania, it`s still there. Still running. Still operating. Still
    churning this stuff out. Now.

    This is not part of American politics. This is not, you know, partisan
    warfare between Republicans and Democrats. This is international warfare
    against our country and it did not end on election day. We are still in
    There`s a reason why the investigation here, the counterintelligence
    investigation here, is something about which there is some urgency. We got
    more on the new aspect of it that we just learned about today, coming up

    That’s right, Rach’ … drop your Bernie-bomb and cut to commercial. Pretty good chance a lot of fake #HRC sites hosted out of Eastern Europe are probably still up too. But naw, the fact that a Sanders site is still up – that’s the important thing here.

    1. Lambert Strether

      If a few Russian bots posting to Facebook could beat the billion dollar Clinton campaign, then there are a lot of Democrat grifters strategists and consultants that need to rethink their business models.

  25. Tom

    About age discrimination and how we handle it.

    We live in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco.

    When walking into a high end business like a restaurant or retail establishment full of nothing but young faces working there, I call the manager over, or preferably the owner, and ask
    “If older people aren’t good enough to work here, why should older people like me spend my money here?”

    They know what I mean without any more explanation, always a lot of hemming and hawing, excuses and other apologies.
    “I be back in a couple of months, if you hire older people I will consider spending money here, otherwise I’m going to spread the word among my friends and their friends and we will just boycott the place.”

    Several businesses did hire older people, a nice lady with grandkids and a couple of veterans. They were as competent as any younger employee and it made me feel great thinking that maybe I had something to do with their hire.

    1. Lee

      I live in an old house with special hardware needs. My local hardware store is staffed with both old and young. When I need some obscure piece of hardware, I consult with the older ones; their knowledge of such things, including special fix-it tips, is wonderfully encyclopedic. I’ve been going to this store for nearly 30 years now and these older staffers and I are growing old together. I hope this knowledge is being passed on. I’ll ask next time I go there.

  26. barrisj

    Re: the Case-Deaton studies…about twenty years ago, Jonathon Cobb and Richard Sennett published a sociological treatment of American working-class – i.e., “blue-collar” – families called – appropriately – “The Hidden Injuries of Class”, which surely anticipated what has become now de rigueur studies on the various plights of working-/middle-class white America. Today, where premiums placed upon tertiary education, attendant credentialism and white-collar sense of superiority, rapid work-place transformation, loss of opportunity, etc. has led to massive alienation of a significant subset of the US population, politicians are doing no more than exploiting the pain and injury endured by individuals and families caught up in economic turmoil, with seemingly no one in positions of authority really committed to reversing or ameliorating these systemic problems. Cobb and Sennett’s study early on focused on so-called “hierarchical respect” and maintenance of a sense of self-worth amongst working-class people in an era where their labour was derogated as being less “worthy” than that of the managerial or technocratic class. Problems have only worsened, and “Hidden Injuries” can now be re-examined as prescient of where America finds itself today. Well worth a reread, as my younger brother in Canada has pointed out to me.

    1. IDontKnow

      Richard Sennett has a whole body of work which is of great value. One of my roles in subversion of the oligarchy was getting his books into the local public library system, and then spreading the word. Suggest this tactic can be built upon.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Debating the big questions on immigration: What rights do immigrants have — and is the president free to bar them? Salon. (Anis)

    Only those immigrants who are here or will be here for non-partisan or non-military causes.

    We don’t want Trump to let more feet-binding, patriarchal society, divorce-is-a-shame-on-the-family, boys-only-like-girls types of immigrants (the types he is OK with) here on the basis that they will be indebted to Trump (“We will always Demo…check that, vote Trump in the future. When we drink rice wine, we will remember him.” – that kind of quid pro quid, conflict of interest some politicians are known for).

    Similarly, no migrant-soldiers/private military contractor immigrants, lest we make invasion life easy for Putin.

    If they are those walk-through-the-front-gate mercenary immigrants, we have to think twice.

  28. Plenue

    >YouTube’s Ad Problems Finally Blow Up in Google’s Face Wired

    “About a week ago, the Times of London published an investigation revealing ads sponsored by the British government and several private sector companies had appeared ahead of YouTube videos supporting terrorist groups.”

    Perhaps Google’s algorithms are guilty of being too smart and drawing connections that The Powers That Be would prefer remain concealed.

    On a totally, completely unrelated note, the head of the British founded and backed White Helmets group was killed by a roadside bomb a few days ago.Totally coincidentally, this brave humanitarian was also the commander of the 18 March Division, an al-Qaeda ‘affiliated’ combat unit of the ‘rebels’.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > ads sponsored by the British government and several private sector companies had appeared ahead of YouTube videos supporting terrorist groups

      Yeah, it’s like the algo detected some kinda self-licking ice cream cone where both reinforced each other…

  29. ewmayer

    From Physicists find that as clocks get more precise, time gets more fuzzy – ScienceAlert:

    “Thanks to Einstein’s work, we understand there is an equivalence between mass and energy, made famous in the equation (for objects at rest) as Energy = mass x speed of light squared (or E=mc^2).”

    No – the m in Einstein’s famous mass/energy equivalence formula is *relativistic* mass, which in terms of rest mass m0 and velocity in the direction of motion v is given by Lorentz’s formula m = m0/√(1-v^2/c^2), whose denominator goes to 0 as v approaches c. That why there is no theoretical limit on the energy a particle can achieve in (say) a particle accelerator – as the particle’s speed gets closer and closer to the speed of light c, further energy imparted to it goes increasingly into raising its relativistic mass, since its speed v is strictly bounded above by c.

    [I suspect what the article writer wanted to convey in the parenthetical was not ‘for objects at rest’ but rather ‘for objects with nonzero rest mass’.]

  30. JTMcPhee

    “Shareholder proxies could be the new regulators.”


    Snoball’s chance in hekk. Deck is totally stacked in favor of “management.” DE corp law, the Fed Rules of Civil Procedure (, case law, all that stuff.

    Figures the NYT would publish such seemingly comforting but, sub silentio, futility-emphasizing noise. All you have to do, it seems, is own $2,000 of a company’s stock for one year. And how many of us mopes can manage that kind of “investment?” Or will jump through the hoops necessary to just get the one-by-one proxy issue, after possibly appropriate issue, on the agenda of the shareholder ingathering?

    Oooh oooh but McDonalds went over to paper goods instead of foam plastics. Gee, I wonder what the cost numbers were that drove that decision, which of course involves its own externalities. And I believe McD’s paper cups and packaging are heavily coated with (unidentified substances) to pop the brand info in your face and keep the grease from making big splotches on the surface of the package that might cause a thinking person to wonder what kind of sh!t they were ingesting, so conveniently?

    1. craazyboy

      Well, now at least we know NYT reporters don’t get stock options.

      The whole non-starter to this idea is that the Board of Directors are the group that devises the proxy questions we get to vote on.

      In the case of the NYT, an influential voice would be Carlos Slim.

      Sample voting questions:

      1) What typeface is your fav?

      a) Sans Serif
      b) Times New Roman
      c) Anything, as long as we can have emoticons too.

      2) Should someone arrest Trump and Putin and force them to make Piñatas in Guatmo for the next 40 years.

      3) Undecided

      Usually they limit it to 5 issues so as not to confuse us too much.

  31. bob

    “Trump’s Wall Is 30 Feet of Scary Politics for Builders Bloomberg (resilc)”

    From there-

    “Mexican cement giant Cemex SAB won’t participate, though it is well positioned to profit with plants on both sides of the border.”

    Au contraire, they will benefit. When projects of this size come to town, the whole market goes up. It’s a very interesting way to watch cement (monopoly) politics- who will be the first to “disavow” a project? It’s normally the incumbent in an area. They will continue to sell to everyone else, the smaller people, who will be crowded out and at the mercy of Cemex. Cemex, in this instance, gets to continue to sell at higher prices, to disparate groups with no pricing power — The ultimate point of a MONOPOLY.

    That’s before getting into the incestuous “cement” wholesale market. Cement is the part of concrete that generally can’t be sourced locally. If you can source it, it will be at the behest of the REAL cement monopolies- Lafarge (french) and Heidelberg(German). They also have concrete outlets locally. (US people- look up who ultimately owns your local gravel pit. They are, 9 times out of 10, a sub of either of the above duopoly.

    They wrote that whole story with out mentioning either of them.

  32. Adam Eran

    To complement Bernie’s Federal Medicare-for-All statute, the California Nurses’ Association is starting to promote SB562 – single-payer for California. This has passed the Democratically-controlled legislature previously, but Arnold vetoed it. Jerry (“pseudo-lefty”) Brown has already intimated he’ll veto it too. The difference now is that an override may be possible. In any case, Brown’s excuse is that we can’t afford nice things. Meanwhile, he’s sponsoring the “bullet train” that promises a 2 1/2 hour trip between the Bay Area and Los Angeles (Elon Musk is furious, not only because air travel makes the trip in roughly an hour, so the technology is at least second-rate, but because hyperloop could conceivably do that trip faster and cheaper…But Elon’s too busy to manage that now.)

    The nurses are serious, and very smart. This is one of the consequences of the Bernie-crats taking over the California Democratic party (the bill was began literally the day after the Bernie-crats won statewide party representative elections).

    See for specifics.

    1. vidimi

      given the choice between a 1 hour flight and a 2.5 hour train ride, i’ll take the latter any day AND i don’t even live in the US where a trip to the airport is like a descent into hell. even when the train is more expensive (eg eurostar) it’s still a way better way to travel.

      anyway, hope the bill passes

      1. Adam Eran

        Sorry, vidimi, California’s transportation planning doesn’t believe in the “last mile.” For one example, no public transportation serves Sacramento’s airport (except Yolo Bus, which doesn’t connect to Sacramento, and doesn’t offer rides in time to catch that early, or late plane). My personal estimate of California’s commitment to public transportation and the land use that supports it: It’s designed to fail, and working as designed.

        So the bullet train will have roughly the same fate as the airport when it comes to passenger access. It’ll be park-n-ride (an egregiously third rate pseudo-solution)…not connected to light rail, bus…although Uber & Lyft would probably work, as well as self-driving whatevers. Musk has this one right, IMHO, although even he ignores the obvious fact that better transit / land use would be orders-of-magnitude cheaper on the local level, rather than squandering billions on our edifice complex.

        One the other hand: CalTrans and several local governments have recently adopted Complete Streets as their standard. That’s a pretty big deal.

        Of course if FNMA changed its underwriting standards to require pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, mixed income neighborhoods be the only recipients of mortgages, it’d be game over for sprawl–and an implicit solution to that “last mile” problem. Just FYI, such neighborhoods cut the vehicle miles travelled in half. Car dealers (and asphalt plants) would not be happy, though. Perhaps they’d still have the climate to keep them warm, so there’s that…

  33. MoiAussie

    US-backed Syria forces pause operations near Tabqa dam.
    This and similar reports from Reuters and IBT indicate that the SDF have called a brief ceasefire.

    “To ensure the integrity of the Tabqa dam… we have decided to stop operations for four hours beginning at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT),” SDF spokeswoman Jihad Sheikh Ahmed said in a statement. “This is to allow a team of engineers to enter the dam and carry out their work,” she added. The decision followed a request by the Syrian government’s water authority.

    So the dam is not yet fully under SDF control. has an (ISIS supplied) image of the damage to the power station control room caused by US-led airstrikes.

    However, an engineer at the dam has said there is no need to panic yet, but critical repairs are needed as soon as possible.

    “If water flow from Turkey remains unchanged, we have about 30 days to time of collapse,” the engineer said.

    Essentially, Turkey with its control of the water flow have the power on whether the dam can be salvageable or not.

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