Links 3/7/17

The cat that Lambert featured in Links yesterday, that needed to be rescued or fostered pronto or he would be put down, was rescued per James, who was ready to help. Several readers linked to his story to solicit possible adopters and one gave some money on his behalf. Thanks for your good wishes and actions!

Why finding new Earth-like planets is important Al Jazeera (furzy)

Celebrating NY maple syrup season Times Herald-Record. Glenn F: “More climate change fallout.”

How to Upgrade Judges with Machine Learning MIT Technology Review (David L)

The Everything You Need to Ace series is like borrowing notes from the smartest kid in class Boing Boing (resilc)

Kim Jong-nam death: Malaysia and N Korea in tit-for-tax exit bans BBC

Do-nothing Malcolm’s east coast Enron gouge must stop MacroBusiness

U.S. starts deploying THAAD system in South Korea after North Korea missile test Reuters Bill B:

It’s like handing an umbrella to someone falling off a cliff. THAAD is a short range weapon at best and will be fairly useless once North Korea upgrades to ICBMs. In private Obama has conceded that missile defense (e.g. GMD) is a $300 billion boondoggle. But, hey, retired Air Force generals have vacations in Europe to finance.

What is Thaad anti-missile defence system and why is China against it Bloomberg (Dan K)

The isolation of Angela Merkel’s Germany Financial Times

French Election

Intentions de vote : François Fillon nettement distancé par Marine Le Pen et Emmanuel Macron Kantar

New Cold War

The Donbass is breaking away from an agonized Ukraine Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)

Freeland warns Canadians to beware of Russian disinformation Globe and Mail. Fails to point out that it was Freeland’s own brother-in-law who got her grandfather’s papers which showed his role (IIRC as editor in chief) in one of the biggest papers in Poland during WWII, meaning playing an influential role as a Nazi propagandist.

TREADING ON THE TRUTH, DANCING AROUND IT — FOR MARCH 8, DANCE WITH BROWN BEAR, BUT DON’T TEAR HIS SOLE APART John Helmer. Really buries the lede, which is that March 8 as a women’s holiday started first in Russia. Even better:

The women’s demonstration in St. Petersburg in February (Russian Calendar) 1917 started the February Revolution. It was the October Revolution which formalized March 8 as an official holiday.

From Wikipedia:

The revolution centered in Petrograd (now known as St. Petersburg), then the Russian capital, on Women’s Day in March (23 February in the Julian calendar).[3] Revolutionary activity was largely confined to the capital and its vicinity, and lasted about eight days. It involved mass demonstrations and armed clashes with police and gendarmes, the last loyal forces of the Russian monarchy. On 12 March (27 February old style) mutinous Russian Army forces sided with the revolutionaries. Three days later the result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire. Russian Council of Ministers was replaced by a Russian Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov.

So by elevating March 8, Americans are joining Russians in recognizing a revolt that led to the creation of the USSR and the establishment of a Communist state. Who says Americans have no sense of irony?


Peace or War? Sanders on Israel, Palestinians and the Middle East Defend Democracy

Imperial Collapse Watch

America Is Facing a Dangerous Enemy. We Just Can’t Agree Who It Is Defense One

Maladjusted, Part II: How the U.S. Air Force Went from Eagle to Chicken WarOnTheRocks (resilc)

Pentagon Blocks Littoral Combat Ship Overrun From a GAO Report Bloomberg (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Dangerous backdoor exploit found on popular IoT devices TechRadar (Chuck L)

Trump Transition

Trump releases new travel ban executive order Politico

President Donald Trump is the most powerful cornered animal in the world Guardian

Trump Has Royally Screwed Congressional Republicans New Republic

Russia: The Conspiracy Trap Masha Gessen, New York Review of Books. Important.

Trump SEC Helps Anthem Block Lobbying Disclosure As Anthem Seeks Cigna Merger Approval International Business Times

The U.S. Doesn’t Benefit from the Revised Ban American Conservative

US housing boss Ben Carson calls US slaves ‘immigrants’ BBC (furzy). Imagine the furor if a white cabinet member had said that…

Hey, It’s a Problem the President Believes Things That Aren’t True Vice (resilc)

New research predicts a just and logical result to violent anti-Trump protests Fabius Maximus (furzy). Headline and article are a bit self-righteous. And as with Occupy and Black Lives Matter protests, it isn’t clear that violence was organic. Occupy Oakland, which had one of the worst incidents, had Black Bloc (anarchists who favor violence) join them, and the open structure of Occupy made it impossible to keep them out (they even tried rule changes, like changing consensus votes to IIRC 90% majority). But the flip side is that the anti-Trump crowd, even in MSM articles and op-ed, are regularly depicting Trump supporters as sub-human and are generally emotionally overwrought. That is a formula for fomenting violence.

Barack Obama’s Politically Active Post-Presidency Isn’t Normal, or Good Daily Beast (resilc)

Democrats Now Demonize the Same Russia Policies that Obama Long Championed Intercept (resilc)

The People Who Love Donald Trump’s Favorite Preacher Vice (resilc)

Khizr Khan claims travel privileges under review Politco. This story as reported makes no sense. A US citizen can’t be denied reentry to the US. The Customs folks can harass you a ton by holding you, asking a lot of intrusive questions, examining your devices, but they can’t keep you out. A lawyer who does a lot of work in this space say the longest he has heard of anyone being held is 16 hours, which is still plenty bad. What some vengeful Trump operative might have done is sus out that Khan was being paid to speak in Canada. That’s seldom kosher. So they might have alerted the Canadian authorities and Khan might have anticipated being detained by them or denied entry, which would mean no speaking gig.

Our Tabloid President American Conservative (resilc)

Chris Hedges: Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites Truthdig


GOP unveils Obamacare replacement amid sharp party divide Politico (Kevin C)

Republicans unveil bill to repeal and replace Obamacare CNN

COMMITTEE PRINT Budget Reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Repeal and Replace of the Patient Protection and Afford-able Care Act DropBox (Kevin C). Text of proposed bill.

Trump Budget Director Has Key Role in ACA Replacement Drama New York Magazine (resilc)

TSA’s new “pat-downs” are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims Boing Boing (resilc)

The Next Step in the Trump-DeVos Plan to Send Taxpayer Money to Religious Schools Mother Jones (resilc)

Losing West Virginia Jacobin (Darius)

Trump Proposal To Gut Great Lakes Funding Could Allow Pollution To Flourish Huffington Post (ChiGal)

Struggling shopping malls let high schools, doctors move in where Penney’s used to be MarketWatch (resilc)

Fake News

Google’s Algorithms May Feed You Fake News and Opinion as Fact MIT Technology Review (resilc)

Critics say Facebook’s ‘disputed’ news tag doesn’t go far enough Christian Science Monitor (David L)

Police State Watch

US police agencies with their own DNA databases stir debate Associated Press (Chuck L). From last week, still germane.

TSA Warns Local Police About Its New Airport Pat-Downs Bloomberg (Dr. Kevin)

Two Centuries of US Immigration Visualized Metrocosm (furzy)

PwC and the Oscars: When Auditors Take Investors to La La Land ProMarket (vlade)

Defending my business from the federal government St. Louis Today. Wowsers. Toni Boughner: “Nothing like a little whining about how misunderstood the payday loan industry is.”

We Need More ‘Useless’ Knowledge Chronicle of Higher Education (Micael)

Annual legal fines and penalties for big banks The Atlas

Everything the Market Thinks About Inflation Might Be Wrong Wall Street Journal (UserFriendly). In which it is revealed that most money managers and economists don’t understand that QE is not “money printing”.

How America Became a Colonial Ruler in Its Own Cities Vanity Fair (resilc)

Class Warfare

Death rates from drug overdose have more than doubled since 2002 Quartz (resilc)

Too Frightened to Change a Hated Order Nation

How Junk Arson Science Convicted a Mother of Killing Her Own Daughters Intercept

The Economics of the I-49 Connector, Part 3 Strong Towns. Darius: “Paleo proposal for urban freeway through black neighborhood.”

We Need More ‘Useless’ Knowledge Chronicle of Higher Education (Micael)

Antidote du jour (furzy):

And a bonus video from Robert H:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. Steve H.

        The repetitions still have new links hidden within. As though the first round is the choral, and counterpoints are added the second time through. Did Gregorian chants do this? I know “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” sorta does.

        Conversely, a derivative expansion of links, to offset Lambert shorting the Water Cooler…

    1. UserFriendly

      Hijacking comment…. big wikileaks dump.

      Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed
      Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named “Vault 7” by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

      The first full part of the series, “Year Zero”, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election.

      Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

      “Year Zero” introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

      Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force — its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency’s hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.

      By the end of 2016, the CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

      In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

      Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

      Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

      Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the “Year Zero” disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should analyzed, disarmed and published.

      Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in “Year Zero” for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in “Vault 7” part one (“Year Zero”) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

      1. fresno dan

        March 7, 2017 at 10:14 am

        Thank you for that UserFriendly!

        ” ….comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina.
        Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.” [and several thousand Flash Gordon secret decoder rings of inestimable value]

        “high-security” – apparently, advertised as high security and being high security are two different things….
        I blame Putin….and Trump….but not Obama…because, because, because…Because of the wonderful things he does….

      2. NDP

        Here’s the top reader comment from the New York Times article about the leak. Pathetic:

        “If anyone still has doubts that Wikileaks and the Russians are working together to undermine and destabilize our government institutions, erode public confidence in our government, and generally wreak havoc in our country, this latest document dump should erase all doubt. We are under attack by an adversarial nation, with a President here at the helm who seems not to take any of this seriously.

        Spy agencies spy, this should come as no shock — this is how they infiltrate potential terrorist plots against America and keep us safe. We are less safe today thanks to Wikileaks and Assange’s unholy alliance with Putin..”

        So in other words, their takeaway is that Wikileaks and Russia are working together, rather than that the CIA has the capability to make a hack look like Russia did it. Perhaps that’s because the NYT buried that factoid in the 15th paragraph and described it this way:

        “Another program described in the documents, named Umbrage, is a voluminous library of cyberattack techniques that the C.I.A. has collected from malware produced by other countries, including Russia. According to the WikiLeaks release, the large number of techniques allows the C.I.A. to mask the origin of some of its cyberattacks and confuse forensic investigators.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What if Russia has infiltrated the CIA and placed their guys there, like the USSR did with those Cambridge fellows?

          1. Baby Gerald

            It just doesn’t pay to read the comments in the NYT– you’ll always be disappointed by the lack of critical reasoning on display. It’s a bottomless pit of confirmation bias and ill-informed opinions. And since when did Assange declare an alliance with Putin? I never heard the announcement.

            1. fresno dan

              Baby Gerald
              March 7, 2017 at 2:52 pm

              Like Rasputin and arsenic, you must immunize yourself against the stupid by only ingesting small doses in the beginning, like reading half a sentence the first day, and than gradually…gradually working your way up to a paragraph in one comment.

              But you must do it – what if due to a “fat finger” you were to open a Friedman column and inadvertently read the first two sentences before you realized what had happened? It could be fatal….

            2. clarky90

              The New York Times has been a Communist Party Organ (Pravda-North American Division) for nearly 100 years.


              The link to the NYT apology for it’s evil participation in the Ukrainian Holodomor (millions of deaths by starvation, early 1930s, has “mysteriously” disappeared. The NYT actively discourage food aid to the dying. Children had the highest mortality rates.

              This is just one example, of many, of their Stalinist heritage.

              Bastards. They need to be buried face down, so they can see where they are headed.

          2. fresno dan

            March 7, 2017 at 2:37 pm

            What if the CIA has infiltrated Russia and placed their guys there, like Cambridge did with those USSR fellows?

            What if Obama has infiltrated the Trump Tower and placed their guys there, like Obama did with the Clinton campaign? ((c’mon – you know in your heart Hillary’s “loyalists” could not possibly have been thaaaat stupid)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If the former, then we can’t trust the CIA. We have to go with Trump in a dispute between them…not an easy thing to do for our reporters and liberal friends.

              If the latter, then we can’ trust Trump Tower guys. That, we are, or our media is, already doing.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Nice find….Trump’s got ammo to fight back, it seems, if he’s got appetite to genuinely reform the CIA. No doubt corp media will act like nothing ever happened and completely ignore the story.

        1. Old Jake

          No doubt corp media will act like nothing ever happened and completely ignore the story.

          Well, this is the New York Times publishing the story.

      2. TheCatSaid

        It’s an interesting post for sure! A short excerpt about classification issues:

        How the CIA dramatically increased proliferation risks

        In what is surely one of the most astounding intelligence own goals in living memory, the CIA structured its classification regime such that for the most market valuable part of “Vault 7” — the CIA’s weaponized malware (implants + zero days), Listening Posts (LP), and Command and Control (C2) systems — the agency has little legal recourse.

        The CIA made these systems unclassified.

        Why the CIA chose to make its cyberarsenal unclassified reveals how concepts developed for military use do not easily crossover to the ‘battlefield’ of cyber ‘war’.

      3. Matt

        “The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

        With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”

        Maybe we should be looking closer to home for explanations of all the “Russian hacking?”

    1. paleobotanist

      Whew! Glad kitty found a home. We’ve had four tuxedos, all smart and wacky senses of humor. I was trying to figure out how to rescue, but I’m in another country.

    2. petal

      Yes, good man, James! Best news to wake up to! Had been checking Crescent’s page to see if he had been adopted but there was nothing so I had figured he didn’t make it. Wished on a star that he did make it, had a little cry for him and the other poor souls, and went to bed. Please give that little fella a good ear scratch for me. Cheers.

      1. James

        Thanks both of you, but I can’t take credit. Someone else now has a wonderful cat.

        Scrolling to the bottom of his web page you can read the comment of the shelter.

  1. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you to Vlade for posting the link to Guy Rolnik’s article about PWC.

    The article omitted the Big Four’s secondment of staff to help the UK Treasury and tax authority, both under resourced and demoralised (a feature, not a bug), and big three political parties, including New Labour when it was in opposition.

    Further to the BTMU scandal, I know of one TBTF preferring to outsource the revamp of its KYC rather than do it in house at lesser cost and in quicker time. When that odd decision was queried, it soon became apparent that outsourcing the work to a rival of PWC allowed management to keep its distance from the problem, buy time and allow the money to keep rolling in. The person who queried the decision was soon fired, the day she returned from holiday, for not being a team player. Ironically, she joined PWC six months later, but has since moved to a smaller consultancy.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Vlade. See you soon for something stronger than coffee. I can visit the Docks.

  2. Ulysses

    The Hedges piece linked above does a great job articulating the feelings of frustration many of us are experiencing in these times:

    “The liberal class, ranging from Hollywood and the Democratic leadership to The New York Times and CNN, refuses to acknowledge that it sold the Democratic Party to corporate bidders; collaborated in the evisceration of our civil liberties; helped destroy programs such as welfare, orchestrate the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, wage endless war, debase our public institutions including the press and build the world’s largest prison system.”

    The really horrible part is that we aren’t moving towards anything good for working and poor people. Rather, exposing the hypocrisy of the previous crypto-fascist regime only seems to advance the interests of proud, in-your-face fascists. We’ll still be screwed over by our corporate overlords, but now those of them who wish to return to the 1840’s, on social issues, are feeling empowered! What a nightmare!!

    1. fresno dan

      March 7, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Chris Hedges: Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites Truthdig

      I think the article is fantastic – just a great, great job of tying it all together. Its a long article, but I know people once they start reading won’t be able to stop.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Good, accurate article, but pretty much preaching to the choir at this point. Those who are going to be convinced already have been.

      The dem establishment has made its choices, and they are pelosi, schumer, perez and Russian hysteria. The noise is only getting louder. And those making all that noise show no inclination toward honest assessment of their failures or willingness to change direction. They’ve become shameless allies of the surveillance state, fer chrissakes!

      Even the much vaunted #Resistance strikes me as ill-advised. It’s purely reactive, when the only way out of this is to be proactive, meaning a completely new party. This party is just committed to doubling down on the failed clinton strategy of waiting for Donald Trump to eff-up and then claiming the “win.” And their clumsy attempts to create Trump screw-ups on which to capitalize just make them seem more loathsome and inept.

      To the extent that Hedges is a powerful progressive voice, I wish he’d just acknowledge those facts. It wouldn’t hurt for Bernie to come around to the obvious as well. Time’s a wastin’.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Agreed also. The “Resistance” need to be FOR something. Not just against Trump. I know a number of people who desperately want Trump gone, but when he’s replaced by Mike Pence, have we really accomplished anything? And if Pence somehow ends up being by Paul Ryan, I again fail to see things getting any better.

          “WHAT ARE YOU FOR?” Makes a difference. Without a path forward, the “Resistance” starts to sound a lot like whining.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I don’t know what to think about the Resistance TM. It seems like a waste of time to me. When I ask people if they think facts or protests will really change the minds of any R legislators, they say ‘no.’ But I have to say I see a lot of energy among people I know who have never been politically active before. And I don’t think that can be a bad thing. Baby steps.

        1. RUKidding

          JMHO but I think going to Town Halls to voice your opinions – especially if you can do so backed by facts – may have some effect and is worthwhile.

          Simply marching with signs calling for Peace or Justice or Treat Immigrants Fairly or Women’s Rights or similar is, IMO, a waste of time.

          Rallies are great if done effectively, but this generally means that they have more specific purposes and are calling for certain, specific changes or are either in favor of or against specific proposed laws.

          I suppose the intial rallies after Trump was elected had some positive effect in signalling to citizens how a siginificant portion of the populace felt. After that, however, the rallies have to be more focused and targeted towards some specific action. And citizens need to get more directly involved by running for office or supporting those who do. Otherwise, it’s pointless.

          1. perpetualWAR

            The only “rallies” that are effective are those that will challenge the ruling elite: example, when #Seattle protesters surrounded the Sheraton when #JamieDimon was there speaking. We must terrorize the people who continue to pillage. All other protests are just useless.

      2. RUKidding

        I have a few friends who are FINALLY starting to question the Dem establishment after the (forced) election of Perez to head the DNC. I forced myself from shouting “I told you so!!” But I did enter into some hopefully helpful discussion about: a) why Perez won v. Ellison, and b) what the wikileaks hacks showed about what happened to sanders during the primary (whether you want to believe the hack was by Russians or not, no one has disputed the content).

        I missed most of yesterday’s Indivisible Radio Program

        But I did hear Katrina vanden Heuvel editor of The Nation pretty much talking about how the Dem Elites are not serving the needs of the “average” Dem voter and why we need to stop focusing on the Russians!!111!!! And focus instead on: a) the bills that the GOP are now proposing, and b) how to elect better Dem politicians. She was encouraging callers to the show to start running for school board and other local offices. Weak tea but a step in the right direction.

        1. Foppe

          Tom Frank’s essay Swat Team (Harper’s) talks about the role of the media in his loss, but it obviously also applies to the thinking that informed/s the DNC.

      3. Montanamaven

        There is a great article in The Baffler by Matt Stoller on Alexander Hamilton; the real one and not the PR for Obama Hamilton of the Broadway musical. I like it even better than the Hedges because it uses historical comparisons of the 1780s and 1790s to the last 20 years and may provide some answers. Perhaps teach-ins on how the Articles of Confederation turned into the Constitution. And how “debt” is at the heart of this dark story.
        I have many friends who saw Hamilton. When I say quietly that I don’t think I would enjoy a pro Hamilton play, they stare at me blankly.
        The Hamilton Hustle

        1. HopeLB

          Thank You very much for this link! At the only Obama rally I attended, the only Founding Father Obama invoked, in front of a war memorial no less, was HAMILTON! This was when my skepticism truly set in (thanks in large part to my HS History teacher who threw out the book and taught everything from the perspective of cui bono economically) and then what? Three days after his inauguration, the Banksters were indeed enthroned. The Hamilton musical, in lght of all of the other prowar/proempire Hollowywood fare, does make it look as though there is really some “Commie-like” central planning of propaganda at work. Not a surprise really, when the CIA has long been into the “arts” but now it seems the Bankster/ Central Bank are being goldwashed. Maybe, The Revolution should kickstart an opposition musical and send it round the nation.

    3. perpetualWAR

      Chris continues, along with Dayen & Stoller, to highlight the plight of the victimized homeowners. I appreciate that. We are the forgotten…

    4. Phil in KC

      If a Democrat, I’d think you’d be for single-payer universal health insurance, affordable college educations, infrastructure spending (think high-speed trains?!), breaking up the TBTF financials (and send a few CEO’s to jail), curbing carbon and doing what we can to mitigate global warming, and doing more for people who have lost good-paying jobs–sending them to HVAC school or CAD classes isn’t enough. I wish Democrats would be Democrats.

  3. Marco

    The Strong Towns I-49 connector post is fascinating. Something to ponder as we scramble to turn on the infrastructure $$ spigot. Only an “economist” would apply measures of efficiency for cities like Saint-Etienne to Shreveport.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      As the author of the post notes, these consultants reports are 100% bullshit. It is an industry that provides a service to road builders. They have to say that there will be huge economic gains to building new freeways or they won’t get the contract.

  4. financial matters

    ””A week after the Pentagon submitted its report to the White House on February 28 outlining a new strategy against terrorism, there are signs of a refreshing change of course in the US’ activities on the ground in Syria. It is extraordinary that President Donald Trump is proceeding on a novel track on Syria, according to his script, undeterred by the relentless assault on his citadel by recalcitrant groups of various persuasions in the Washington Beltway, especially the Russophobes and the Barack Obama era holdovers within the US establishment.

    Trump, for sure, is proving to be a man of his words on Syria. Three things emerged in the past week. One, the US rejects its NATO ally Turkey’s pre-condition that it should cease the support for Syrian Kurds who are its allies in northern Syria. In fact, the US intends to wade deeper into the military operations in that region by beefing up the deployment of the Special Forces and stepping up arms deliveries to the Syrian Kurds, including deploying attack helicopters and artillery.

    Two, Pentagon is concurring with the back-to-back deal reached by the Syrian Kurds with the government forces and Russia to jointly put a road block on the Turkish army’s plans to advance toward the strategic town of Manbij en route to the ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa.

    This is turning out to be a curious joint enterprise with the US Special Forces having moved into Manbij town as a “visible sign of deterrence” (to quote Pentagon spokesman) against Turkey, while Russia is sending food and medical supply convoys to the town with the prior knowledge and coordination with Pentagon.””

    “”Three, stemming from the above stunning turn of events on the ground, clearly, Trump administration seems to be edging away from the Obama administration’s overt and covert prioritization of the “regime change” agenda in Syria. Trump all along said he wanted the US military to train its sights exclusively on vanquishing the ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Now, we are, literally, witnessing this being implemented on the ground.

    The “known unknown” here is as to when the US could turn to explicit cooperation with Russia on Syria, which is also something Trump has spoken about. Much depends on the space that Trump manages to create to push forward his independent foreign policies. To my mind, once the preparations begin for the daunting military operations to capture Raqqa, where the ISIS is well-ensconced, and when it transpires that a bloody drawn-out battle lies ahead, the US forces on the ground will need all the help they can get from like-minded quarters – Russia, in particular. Trump will count on Defence Secretary Gen. James Mattis to calibrate the shift.

    The implications are going to be simply profound. For, if such cooperation is possible between the US and Russian militaries in Syria, what prevents a similar pooling of resources in Afghanistan as well? A curious US-China dalliance in Afghanistan recently sailed into view.

    It is only through concerted US-Russia-China efforts on the ground alongside cooperation on the diplomatic and political turf that Afghanistan can be stabilized. Of course, this must be a spectre that is already haunting the Pakistani GHQ in Rawalpindi.””

    1. financial matters

      Being a single payer supporter I’m probably not going to be enthused about Trumps changes to Obamacare which still seem to be based on private insurance.

      I like public schools but they’ve been having problems for decades so am interested in new approaches here.

      On employment I think he kind of gets that the government needs to create deficits to get more money into the system but is fighting a strong ‘balance the budget’ group who think federal finance in similar to household finance.

      But one of the things I’ve definitely liked about him is his seeming willingness to work with Russia on Syria. I don’t think our regime change efforts in Ukraine, Libya and Syria are well recognized by the general public and are probably one of the main reason the ‘deep state’ or certain entrenched bureaucrats are so strongly anti-Trump. Really working with Russia and China on universal problems would be a welcome relief.

    2. VietnamVet

      It appears that the USA is blocking Turkey’s advance into Syria. Depending on the outcome of Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum on April 16, 2017, NATO could be kicked out of Incirlik Air Base. The loss of Turkey would set off reverberations. Real problems will continue if and when Raqqa is seized. Sunni Islamists will rise again unless there are foreign occupation forces or some sort of stable Federations are formed in the Sunni areas of both Iraq and Syria. Israel and the Gulf Monarchies will try their damnedest to keep the revolts going to assure that the Shiite Crescent stays cut.

  5. David

    For those interested the French election poll cited was conducted before Fillon’s (reasonably well-attended) rally on Sunday, and before both Juppé’s final decision not to run, and the endorsement last night of Fillon’s own candidacy by the high command of LR, albeit through gritted teeth. He may well get a bounce of some kind from all of that. The other thing is that if you dig into the figures, you see that only 39% of Macron’s supporters are “sure” to vote for him, whereas the corresponding figure for Le Pen is 76%, and for Fillon 61%, which does rather change things. I’ve long believed that Macron is a much more fragile candidate than the media want us to think.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, David.

      I agree with you about Macron. The reasons for my sharing your conclusion are that he gets an easy ride from the media and is rarely featured / asked about policies, as if he can’t be exposed to much. He reminds me, perhaps appropriately as the Cheltenham festival starts next week and the flat season soon after, horses who have to be wrapped in cotton wool / nursed or have a big reputation on the gallops, but are rarely seen on the track.

      I have also wanted to ask you about the methodology of polling in France. The Parisian / oligarch owned media puts Macron neck and neck with Le Pen, but I have not seen what the provincial press has published, especially as a slight majority of the French population lives outside the big towns and cities. Are the samples representative or biased towards areas / groups likely to favour Macron?

      I watched the France 2 news on Sunday evening, largely an interview with Fillon. His “militants” seem more committed than Macron’s “metropolitains”, including the Macroniste (?) who was on Sky News at the same time, moaning about Russian interference, hacking etc

    2. Anonymous2

      Thanks David

      It is going to be an interesting and potentially nerve-racking few weeks.

      I assume a MLP victory probably means a run on the French banks leading to a collapse and the next global economic crash. Do others agree?

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Anonymous 2. I agree. That could be the Sarajevo moment for the powder keg.

      2. visitor

        I disagree.

        Even assuming Marine Le Pen wins the presidential election, there are general parliamentary elections a few weeks later — and there, it is extremely improbable that the Front National will gain a majority of deputies, or be strong enough to impose its choices in the government, or even have enough deputies to enforce its participation in a government.

        As a consequence, this would lead to a situation that already occurred a few times before: a so-called cohabitation between a president and a government+parliament from different political camps.

        History shows that in those cases it is the government that sets the policy, with the presidency reduced to its minimum prerogatives. Thus, we should not expect fundamental changes in economic and social policies. What happens in foreign policy may be a different matter, though.

        So panic, bank run, frexit, whatever — do not count on it.

        What will have to be closely watched is the reaction of the populace. If, for instance, a right-wing government imposes a major policy going against Le Pen electoral programme, and she opposes it (the President can refuse to sign laws and thus prevent them from coming into force, although the government can bypass this opposition via some additional procedural steps in the parliament), and if people get overly irritated about another such wave of neo-liberal europeist “reforms”, then massive strikes and demonstrations, possibly general riots in the ever-simmering banlieues is a real possibility.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you. Fair comment, especially about co-habitation and the fact that the Front National won’t have many deputes. I was thinking more of the period soon after the presidential election when such analysis takes time to emerge and passions to calm, plus the impact on / emboldening of anti-EU/Euro campaigners in the bloc.

          1. Anonymous2

            I fully accept that a MLP presidential victory wouldn’t necessarily lead to a supportive Assembly. I suggest though that matters would be in such disarray at that point that the inconceivable could become conceivable.

            Interesting times anyway.

          2. Polo

            You may also consider, concerning euro/frexit, that even in the case Le Pen would get a majority in the rep. chamber (some hollywood blockbuster scenario, Mars attack etc…), we still have a senate chamber where the national front is represented by 3 or 4 guys in a pool of in between 5 or 600 senators.
            These senators are not elected in general election but by local elected officials where the national front have almost none rep.
            Another fact is that the senators are elected every three years but only one third of them at a time.
            Anything related to european treaties as frexit or euro will depend on a constitution modification, which implies a 2/3rd majority of the rep. AND senators.

            In summary, we are clearly not to expect anything significant overnight concerning France-UE relations even with Marine president.

    3. French bloke

      Macron is indeed a bit fragile. He has some strong supporters, mostly urbans, but he mostly gathers center right and center left voters who are repelled from Fillon on a side and Hamon on the other. Clearly not deep belivers. The last centrist to win an election in France was Giscard in 1974 so this centrist strategy sounds a bit new. But despite the lack of solidity of his supporters compared to the Fillonists and the FN, he has an open alley in front of him as it seems that there are still enough people in France ready to move their ass to go to vote for the “least worst”.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The name Le Pen carries huge negative baggage with most voters, but I wonder how many people secretly wish they could get back the France of their youth and will vote for her once in the privacy of the voting booth. Especially if they see she can’t win but want some of her countervailing views to be represented. And don’t forget the role of religion, Marine stands up for the Judeo-Christian origins of the nation like no other candidate. Marseilles is now 40% Muslim, given the difference in birth rates it’s only one more generation before the entire country is majority Muslim. Demographics is destiny and that’s a destiny I think a large number of French men and women would prefer not to see.

        This is sensationalized but also presents some inconvenient truths:

        1. David

          A bit late to reply but I think that it needs to be understood that neither a Le Pen or a Macron victory will necessarily be followed by control of parliament a few weeks later. We really are in unexplored territory here, or at least back in 1958. The most probable outcome is a President who can’t actually form a government, because it will be impossible to get a majority in parliament.

        2. fosforos

          “The name Le Pen carries huge negative baggage.” True, that. Which is, I presume, why Marine committed a political parricide, why she never allows that name to be associated with her if she can help it, why the initials FN and the flame symbol are absent from her campaign materials and rallies, why a rose is her campaign symbol–and why if she wins (as is looking ever more likely, thanks to Mélenchon’s third-period-stalinist hatred of the democratic left and especially its radical wing) her “presidentialist” supporters (though maybe not her reactionary niece Marion) in the Legislatives would not run as “Frontistes” but as “Les Patriotes”–and on a distinctly left-wing program.

  6. Alan

    Actually, John-Paul Himka is not Christya Freeland’s brother-in-law; he is married to her aunt, her mother’s sister, Christya Chomiak, not her sister Natalka. So he is her uncle by marriage. Of course, this distinction does not touch the truth of his research on her grandfather but one should try to avoid trivial errors that could be used to undercut one’s credibility on substantive matters.

    1. a different chris

      I am also pretty convinced Freeland is pretty good at filling her boat with rocks all by herself, I am not comfortable with tarring anybody with the actions of their grandfather for christsakes.

      1. Baby Gerald

        Except when she paints her grandparents as victims of Soviet aggression, conveniently and deliberately avoiding any mention of the things he did to Poles and Jews as a Ukrainian nationalist in collaboration with the Germans.

        As long as she keeps describing them as victims of Stalinism, it should be made clear that these supposed ‘victims’ who eventually emigrated to Canada and made a new life for themselves, had victims of their own who were not so fortunate.

  7. Carolinian

    Re the War on the Rocks link from Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha…wha? He says we need an Air Force with lots more planes and expensively trained pilots. That’s some “solution.” Here’s an alternate proposal: if to a hammer everything looks like a nail it may be time to drastically downsize the hammer. Since even the author admits there is no longer much of an air combat role then the only use for lots of planes would be bombing people and history shows that bombing mostly creates more enemies. The prime example might be the thing that he regards as a success: Vietnam. We lost that war.

    1. voteforno6

      The Air Force teaches (or indoctrinates, if you will) its members, particularly the officers, that air power alone can win wars. It likes to hold up the first Gulf War as a prime example of this. I think some of this may be a residue of the long efforts to separate itself from the Army, and establish itself as a coequal branch of the military. This is also reflected in its desire to kill off the A-10 – the Air Force isn’t too keen on ground support operations. It turns out that the A-10 is too useful of a plane for the Army, and I think that only the threat of the Army to take over the A-10 kept it in operation, because the Air Force could not in good conscience allow the Army to have a fixed wing aircraft.

      So yes, of course Air Force pilots believe that there should be more pilots and more planes. I’m not sure what other people think, though, as pretty much the only people in the Air Force that like pilots are other pilots.

      1. a different chris

        Can’t we pretty much replace all of them with drones? Note – I really don’t like drones, but if you intend to fight today’s war, which has nothing to do with sinking battleships but instead needs the “surgical precision” type of airstrikes of today (aka politically authorized murder of people far away) what the heck use is even a properly working F-35?

        1. Mark P

          ‘Can’t we pretty much replace all of them with drones?’


          The F-35 arguably might have some validity as a movable forward command center that effectively hangs out ten-thirty miles back as the pilot controls a squadron of drones capable of flying at 4x the speed of sound, kind of like how during the Falklands War the British positioned their capital ships beyond the range of the Argentinians’ Exocet missiles.

      2. Uahsenaa

        Logic has always seemed to escape military planners over the past few decades, what with their preference for Top Gun, ace pilot fighter aircraft like the F-117 or the hilariously terrible F-35, which only took a mere trillion dollars before one finally saw service. Meanwhile, the A-10, the F-16, and the B-1B, aircraft from the ’70s!, are all still in use, because no one wants to think about vital functions like close air support. Everybody wants to be a Maverick.

        And not only are those aircraft more effective, they’re also much, much cheaper.

        1. Bill Smith

          F1-6 is a ‘Top Gun’ aircraft. The F-117 was not a ‘Top Gun’ aircraft.

          F-16 is not really a 1970’s aircraft as the US doesn’t fly the A or B model. in addition most of the models the US does fly have been upgraded a number of times via Block number mods.

          But yeah, the A-10 certainly has it’s uses. However it has short legs with a full load.

          To some extent one wonders why they don’t push stuff out the back of a 737….. another version of the P-8?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Each one of these planes accomplishes it’s mission to perfection: the extraction of taxpayer dollars from their wallets and into the wallets of arms manufacturers, consultants, and Congressmen. Mission accomplished.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      If there’s one thing the War On The Rocks article entitled “Maladjusted, Part II: How the U.S. Air Force Went from Eagle to Chicken” proves it is this: Forty two years after his retirement from active duty and twenty years to the week since his death, the name of Col. John Boyd is still too radioactive to be mentioned in a piece written in an attempt to influence USAF procurement policy. It’s especially ironic considering that the policies Col. Pietrucha is advocating are the same ones Boyd and his associates were promoting nearly half a century ago: a fleet of a variety of relatively inexpensive, tailored-to-the-mission aircraft instead of a technologically cutting-edge, ultra expensive, multi-purpose aircraft that does nothing well. Almost as unmentionable are the signature programs Boyd and his associates managed to shove down the throats of the kicking and screaming USAF establishment: the F-16 which gets a few notices in passing, and the A-10 Warthog which is alluded to in a single sentence without being identified: “Instead of investing in attack and observation aircraft, it attempted to retire the one attack aircraft it did have.”

      The downsizing that Carolinian hopes for will only come about when the wheel of the ship of state is wrested from the gnarled hands of the neoliberal fanatics.
      Robert Coram’s biography:

      1. River

        Even with the F-16 the Air Force couldn’t help themselves and had to put some “gold plating” on it.

        I would love it if Coram’s biography got the HBO treatment in the same way the biography of John Adam’s did. Col. Boyd was a fascinating person. George C. Scott could have played him.

  8. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you for the link to Chris Hedges at Truthdig.

    The following quote from Matt Taibbi applies in the UK and France: “It’s a kind of Stockholm syndrome,” he said of the press. “The reporters, candidates, and candidates’ aides are all thrown together. They’re stuck in the same environment with each other day after day, month after month. After a while, they start to unconsciously adopt each other’s values. Then they start to live in the same neighborhoods. They go to the same parties. Then it becomes a year-after-year kind of thing. Then after that, they’re the same people. It’s a total perversion of what’s supposed to happen. We’re [the press] supposed to be on the outside, not identifying with these people. But now, it’s a club. Journalists enjoy the experience of being close to power.”

    These people are not just sharing clubs, but beds and investments, too. It’s interesting to hear from friends who are journalists at the FT, Bloomberg, WSJ, Times and Torygraph in the UK and Ouest France (a cousin by marriage) and Le Figaro in France. There are clear divisions between those who want to be / are in the club and those who may want to be / are not in the club, not just in what and how they write, but where they live and socialise. All say that it starts at university. Journalism is just a stepping stone to power, vide Johnson and Gove in the UK and Pierre Lellouche in France. Osborne was perhaps unlucky to be turned down for a job for a job at the Economist after his interview by Gideon Rachman, not at the FT.

    Many politicians on either side of the channel are/were married to /partnered with hacks, e.g. DSK and Anne Sinclair, Beatrice Schoenberg and Jean-Louis Borloo, Arnaud Montebourg and Audrey Pulvar, Michael Gove and Sarah Vine, John Maple and Jane Corbyn. It’s not just the media and politics, but law and finance, too.

    At HSBC, I worked on securitisations (toxic waste originated by the late and unlamented Lehman, Merrill and Bear) with a lawyer from a “magic circle” firm. His wife presents on CNBS. Another person I worked with, he’s at UBS, was a school and university classmate of David Cameron (and in the picture of the Bullingdon Club with Cameron). His wife is a hack, too.

    Unfortunately, too many journos, regulators and politicians want to dine with the people they should be dining on.

    1. paul

      Estates have traditionally made strategic marriages, why not the fourth?

      Gove and Vine though, Rosemary’s baby or the Omen?

        1. Anonymous2

          The link between the journalists and politicians in the UK is also reflected in the loss of influence of civil servants and other experts. There was a time when government tried to do the right thing (long time ago now) so listened to such people. Then the politicians realised that if they did what the newspapers wanted they would get a good press so it did not matter (in the short term ) whether it was likely to benefit the country. People would be told what was happening was good and enough of them would believe it. A recipe for disaster in the long term IMO.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Anonymous 2. Spot on.

            My parents have / had been civil servants (dad being an RAF and NHS doctor and mum a Treasury accountant / auditor) for much of that period, from the mid-1960s onwards (apart from 1992 – 2013 when dad was in the Middle East), and observe / say as much (as they both work and will be 73 in November). Their friends / colleagues, many past the normal retirement age, say / observe the same.

      1. fresno dan

        AND also from: Chris Hedges: Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites Truthdig

        “The truth is hard to find. The truth is hard to know. The truth is more important than ever,” reads a television ad for The New York Times. What the paper fails to add is that the HARDEST place to FIND the TRUTH about the forces affecting the life of the average American and the truth about empire is in The New York Times itself. News organizations, from the Times to the tawdry forms of entertainment masquerading as news on television, have rendered most people and their concerns invisible. Liberal institutions, especially the press, function, as the journalist and author Matt Taibbi says, as “the guardians” of the neoliberal and imperial orthodoxy.”

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Paul and Fresno Dan.

      From an early age, I have been interested in history. I have worked for Coutts and HSBC Private Bank and joined the City at a time when many storied families / partners were cashing out of the City. It was interesting to observe these families / networks in action. The public has no clue.

      Today’s hearing of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee was interesting / instructive. Two members of the Court (board) of the Bank of England were questioned by MPs, especially over the appointment of Tory grandee Charlotte Hogg as one of the deputy governors. Hogg’s qualification for that job, overseeing banking and markets, are iffy, but she is very well connected (her family having been in the City and politics for four centuries). She did not say that her brother has a big job at Barclays. The BoE pair did not know about this and did not sound convincing about how to handle this possible conflict of interest.

  9. a different chris

    >borrowing notes from the smartest kid in class

    No, it’s like borrowing notes from the most aggressive kid in class, our future MD or jurist. The really, really smart kid doesn’t need to write anything down. The noteless aren’t in every class, but furious note-taking is a clear sign of above-average intelligence but also somebody who falls well short of genius.

    1. PhilM

      Notes were always utterly useless to me. I took them so as to have something to do with my hands. That was true at every level from 7th grade to doctoral. On the other hand, many people learn better by both listening and writing; of course that means that reading notes that someone else wrote is also going to be useless for them. The great loss in the classroom is that almost everyone learns best by hearing, then repeating out loud, then writing it down, in a social environment. That’s how it was done in a one-room schoolhouse, and it really worked.

  10. Deadl E Cheese

    It’s more likely for the Democrats to retake the House than the Senate. The biggest thing about Gerrymandering is that people move around and such (a big problem when you use the Packing technique to suppress urban votes) and a map that was good 10 years ago isn’t necessarily maximal now.

    For example, in the 2012 the Democrats won an absolute majority of House votes but didn’t retake the House. In 2016, the GOP won an absolute majority of House votes and the Democrats still picked up seats. That’s evidence of the gerrymandering failing due to human migration.

    As far as the Senate goes, I don’t see how the GOP can manage to lose it unless they’re much more incompetent than can be imagined. Not only are the Dems defending 2.4x as many seats, they’re also defending them in a year that they overperformed from the Presidential election.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For that reason (people move around) and others (some of the voters at that time are no longer in this world) that it’s not likely we can re-do the election of Nov. 2016 (I believe some are attempting that) to capture the ‘will’ of the nation at the particular moment in time.

      We might have to capture the will of the nation of Nov 2020.

    2. UserFriendly

      To take back the Senate Dems would need to hold all 10 states Trump won and pick up 3 more. Two best shots are NV and AZ, (margin <5% in 2012) then they would need one more out of NE, MS,or TX 15%.margin or TN, WY, UT with >30% Senate isn’t gonna happen.

      The house could flip but it won’t be easy.

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        The Democrats massively underperforming in the Senate in 2016 despite as favorable of a map as can be imagined is why I think that the liberal kvetching about how narrowly they lost the Electoral College is misguided. Imagine how far in the hole the Democrats would be after 2018 with Mommy Wokest at the head of the party.

        Of course, I think the Democratic Party should die as soon as possible anyway. But if I didn’t, I would be absolutely furious at Abuela if she won the WH under those conditions.

  11. fresno dan

    Russia: The Conspiracy Trap Masha Gessen, New York Review of Books. IMPORTANT.

    “If a causal relationship between Russian interference and Trump’s 70,000-vote, three-county edge exists, the likelihood that such a relationship can be proved is vanishingly small. Failing that, what might an investigation find? Undoubtedly, it can find that Trump’s associates lied about their contacts with Russian officials—as they lie, habitually, about a great many things. What makes the Russia lies WORSE than any other?

    The answer is intuitive: Republicans in the House and Senate cannot be compelled to call out the Trump administration’s other lies—even when they break the law. And they will do everything in their power to avoid having to, since, as terrible as Trump is, his administration is the best chance in years to push through some of their most far-reaching policy goals, from dismantling health care to lowering taxes and reversing banking reforms. Meanwhile, while Russia continues to dominate the front pages, Trump will continue waging war on immigrants, cutting funding for everything that’s not the military, assembling his cabinet of deplorables—with six Democrats voting to confirm Ben Carson for Housing, for example, and ten to confirm Rick Perry for Energy. According to the Trump plan, each of these seems intent on destroying the agency he or she is chosen to run
    The dream fueling the Russia frenzy is that it will eventually create a dark enough cloud of suspicion around Trump that Congress will find the will and the grounds to impeach him. If that happens, it will have resulted largely from a media campaign orchestrated by members of the intelligence community—setting a dangerous political precedent that will have corrupted the public sphere and promoted paranoia. And that is the best-case outcome.

    More likely, the Russia allegations will not bring down Trump. He may sacrifice more of his people, as he sacrificed Flynn, as further leaks discredit them. Various investigations may drag on for months, drowning out other, far more urgent issues. In the end, Congressional Republicans will likely conclude that their constituents don’t care enough about Trump’s Russian ties to warrant trying to impeach the Republican president.”
    So AGAIN…the media HELPS Trump with Trump’s REAL plan?
    And let’s go FULL MATRIX – the media is full neo-liberal and WANTS to help Trump implement his plan?
    Nah, I think the media is just eyeball slaves and only shows what “sources” tell them according to publish or perish, where null results are not published because there is no money in that. Where sources say transcripts of monitored conversations exist and than sources say that there is no monitoring – the media is unable and unwilling to see that they are publishing a contradiction there…

    And one other thing – Trump, like most Americans, doesn’t understand how much of their communications is monitored and KEPT, and than can be listened to. I doubt that the monitoring of Trump was definitively ILLEGAL, but I think people are going to be shocked at how easy it is for the government to use any pretext to monitor DOMESTIC foes. So the end result is nothing provable will be found against Trump, but this FACT will remain – an opposition candidate during a campaign was monitored by the Intelligence community that stated vociferously that it was opposed to Trump. That can’t be good….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      LIncoln won the 1860 election with only 40% of the popular vote.

      Slave states’ electoral vote shenanigan?

      Foreign influence?

      How was that possible?

      Was he ‘not my president’ to 60% of the Americans then?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Malaysia, N. Korea…tit-for-tat exit bans or travel bans?

    Will this be the year of travel bans?

    “You don’t travel ban me. I travel ban you!!!”

  13. Pavel

    As of 9:47 (Eastern), there is widespread mention and coverage of the #Vault7 Wikileaks release on CIA cyberintelligence and global hacking in: Zero Hedge, Hacker News, Twitter, and Drudge Report.

    NY Times, CNN, WaPo, Guardian: nada, nothing, zilch.

    1. cocomaan

      Fox news is covering.

      The exploits are frightening. I’ve long suspected that the Internet’s lifespan was limited due to its many layers of infrastructure (physical and electricity at the bottom, ISPs and servicers like AMZ at the middle), but now it’s confirmed. The sloppiness of the CIA in developing and releasing cyberweapons/zero day exploits, allowing for egregious exploits, and other idiocy means to me, a simple man who was a lousy programmer and doesn’t know machine code but knows enough to say he doesn’t know, that one day we could wake up and have no internet.

      How many businesses are prepared to go three days without internet? How many citizens? Not many, in either case.

      Something to contemplate. I’m less worried about the spying than I am about complete disintegration of the web. It’s clear to me that the intelligence agencies have too much data as it is and many of us are somewhat protected by their clear stupidity.

      The fact that this dovetails with Trump’s assertions he was wiretapped is revealing. Roger Stone said the other day he has a back channel to Assange. This is coordinated. The response by the IC will be swift.

    2. fresno dan

      March 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

      “NY Times, CNN, WaPo, Guardian: nada, nothing, zilch.” Mere coincidence ;)

      Seriously, it just shows AGAIN that their is a MSM agenda. Now that the CIA are universally acknowledged as warriors for truth, no negativity about them can be uttered….
      And I am ABSOLUTELY sure the MSM will say they don’t publish it because there is “no evidence”….

    3. katiebird

      (Freaking out) From the Zero Hedge story

      Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

      As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, “CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones” and added ” CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update”

      Isn’t this a crime? Under this list, virtually every household is being bugged through one device or another. Is it somehow allowed under the Patriot Act?

      How can we find out who/if authorized this?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Cheney thought it up, Bush passed it, and Obama institutionalized and expanded it. And Dems voted for it every step of the way, especially when it meant juicy contracts for DiFi’s husband’s company.

        Summary: it’s worse than you thought. Much, much worse.

    4. JohnnyGL

      Drudge is on it now, so are UK tabloids. It’s catching on….seems absolutely massive.

    5. flora

      ZDNet is reporting, too.

      “In total, the hacking group is said to have developed “more than a thousand” exploits and other “weaponized” malware for a range of devices, technologies, and softwares.

      “The files also show the group’s focus on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, with an aim of countering security measures and encryption apps.

      “These exploits can collect a user’s location, audio and text messages, and silently activate the device’s camera and microphone.”

      1. fresno dan

        March 7, 2017 at 11:30 am

        40? 50? years now? years go by, it would nave been an uproar and we would have a Frank Church committee convened…, the sheep vote for more and wider paths into the abattoir….

      2. JohnnyGL

        It seems a lot of places are missing the biggest shockers which are:

        1) CIA kept the tools/coding for the malware unclassified so they could avoid prosecution.

        2) Because of 1, they lost control of the tools and they’ve proliferated around the internet so no one knows who’s got these sophisticated malware tools now.

        Much like the blowback we see on arming bad guys in and around Syria, now the CIA has armed unknown hackers, too!!!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          How does 1) work?

          It seems counter-intuitive – keeping stuff unclassified to avoid prosecution?

        2. Old Jake

          +1 as that’s all I can legitimately award.

          Even if we trust the CIA – that is trust every single person who might have legitimate access to these tools, which is foolish already – these guys have just armed everyone who cares to expend the effort to acquire sophisticated cracking tools, which is not your typical law abiding citizen. And the losers will not be those in the club, it will be us.

    6. RUKidding

      Just wait for complacent citizens to mouth the popular phrase: Well if you do nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear.

      I have friends who say that they are seriously happy and relieved that the IC spying is so widespread because it makes them feel “safe.” Not making that up.

      Just saying that some citizens will not be upset by this at all. In fact, they’ll be lulled back to sleep by how very “safe” they feel knowing that Big Brother is constantly Watching, Listening, Recording your every move and utterance.

      Of course, these exact same citizens will find it “outrageous” that Trump accused beloved Sainted Savior Obama (oh he of the halo and walks on water) of wire tapping Trump’s phone. Why, the very idea! How DARE Trump accuse the Savior of ANY wrong doing.

      Talk about cognitive dissonance!

      1. katiebird

        It is Bizarro World…. There is no other explanation. It just doesn’t make sense.

        I think this is Show Stopping Breaking News (well, in KC there is an excuse we had something like 4 tornadoes ring the city and that’s what they’re talking about today) — but otherwise?

        The Government is potentially spying on every household (through one device or another) in the country? I can’t imagine that this would have been passively accepted 10 or 15 years ago. What happened to us?

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I’m going to run out right now and buy one of those amazon echo things that listens to what you say and does what you command. Once I hook it up to the internet, I’m going to order it to secure all my devices and keep me safe from all this security state spying.

        Could work. I hear that while it records everything you say, it doesn’t save any of it.

      3. cocomaan

        The other half of this insanity is that the CIA also was negligent and released their exploits to the public. There might be an argument if they were good at their jobs, but they aren’t.

      4. fresno dan

        March 7, 2017 at 11:57 am

        fresno dan
        March 7, 2017 at 9:30 am
        And one other thing – Trump, like most Americans, doesn’t understand how much of their communications is monitored and KEPT, and than can be listened to. I doubt that the monitoring of Trump was definitively ILLEGAL, but I think people are going to be shocked at how easy it is for the government to use any pretext to monitor DOMESTIC foes.
        I hadn’t seen the CIA wikileaks story when I wrote the above….
        I would just edit “DOMESTIC foes” to “any citizen”

    7. JustAnObserver

      Now made it onto the Graun’s on-line front page – both US & UK editions.

      Anyone monitoring Pravda & Isvestia ?

  14. Steve H.

    : The Everything You Need to Ace series is like borrowing notes from the smartest kid in class Boing Boing (resilc)

    Please also note the work of Larry Gonick. My dear friend Heinrich was a historian, and he recommended the “Cartoon History” series as being well researched. The “History of the U.S.” has more in kind with Howard Zinn than an undergraduate class, and I reach for his “Guide to Statistics” when trying to ‘splain to the kids, his whimsy and clarity do better than myself.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sometimes, letting others ace or not acing at all is the wise things to do.

  15. Edward E

    There sure are a lot of sucking sounds this morning and not from the tornado that flew over last night, nor the jobs going south or the draining swamp. It’s the GOP servicing the rich! Their replacement gives you a thirty percent surcharge for a year should you go without insurance for two months and added a sweet deductible for CEO compensation above $500,000 – Charles P Pierce Twitter.

    Stay safe everybody.

    1. jrs

      Anyone can go without insurance for two months just as a result of changing jobs. But they should know that and plan for it, say maroons who have never held a job, HR doesn’t always even know when insurance will kick in, it doesn’t usually kick in when one is first hired.

      1. Edward E

        Exactly, you nailed it! You know it’s getting really hard to tell what’s real anymore. Rampant cognitive dissonance, will the real zombie please stand up! And quit acting like an infant, show some damn responsibility! Should have said ‘giant sucking sound’ above, my edit flew off in the cyberspace.

  16. Benedict@Large

    Everything the Market Thinks About Inflation Might Be Wrong – Wall Street Journal

    Encouraging to see this headline from WSJ. There are two sources of inflation. The first and one most generally thought of is an excess of demand from below; the second is a poverty of supply from above. Almost all real inflation (as in 70s style, not the run-of-mill daily prices increases over individual items) is of the second kind, but it is almost always the opinion of economists that this too is excess demand, caused OF COURSE by workers getting paid too much.

    Just one more item on the list that economists in the 70s sold out to, and fear of this faux inflation is a core element in the slide of the world’s economy since then. It’s ALWAYS the workers’ fault.

  17. Vatch

    TSA’s new “pat-downs” are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims

    Will this have an effect on Trump’s popularity? Stay tuned!

      1. local to oakland

        Re the peep machines, I have poor balance. When flying in the US, I wait for a pat down. Recently, after a layover in London, a helpful! UK security officer held my hand so I could stand in the machine. Many thanks to that guy.
        Attitude has such an impact on how we experience things.

      2. fresno dan

        March 7, 2017 at 10:53 am

        I wish….its just the start to that slippery (and I DO mean slippery) slope to insertion of anal probes….

  18. Olga

    The isolation of Angela Merkel’s Germany – This is a peculiar article: the poor little Germany – surrounded by strange, misbehaving countries (including, of course, aggressive Russia (never mind that Russia would like nothing more than to make some sort of an economic alliance w Germany)). And the isolation is definitely not the result of Germany’s “malign” actions… as if Greece or Cyprus never happened. And these people actually get paid for writing such useless stuff.

  19. Jef

    “Why finding new Earth-like planets is important”

    Infinitely more constructive would be an article titled;

    Why understanding just how unique and complex planet Earth is and why it is the only home we will ever have and why its so important to the continuation of the human species.

    Instead of fanning hopes of a New Earth we can go to when we ruin this one by pointing out planets that may harbor a microbe but has no chance of supporting human life.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Thank you for saying this. I’m getting tired of these articles implying that finding earth-like planets is some sort of out for us when we’ve ruined this one. As if people can’t calculate the length of a light year.

      Then there’s this new nonsense:

      NASA proposes guarding Mars’ atmosphere with a magnetic shield

      Who cares about protecting a dead planet for future habitation if we can’t protect the one we’re on?

      1. Portia

        these people who are raping and looting the present Earth are thinking “technology” (which they, tee-hee, will be able to afford, sorry, losers who wanted to save the Earth, you are going down with it) they actually, I honestly believe, think the Earth is a lame place to have to put up with. They will embrace the cyborg existence, live in their heads in virtual places.
        case in point
        Headquarters in my own lovely town in Vermont!
        Transbeman 101!

        1. Portia

          Terasem’s founder was Martin Rothblatt (now Martine) of Sirius fame and others:

          Martine Rothblatt is responsible for launching several satellite communications companies, including the first nationwide vehicle location system (Geostar, 1983), the first private international spacecom project (PanAmSat, 1984), the first global satellite radio network (WorldSpace, 1990), and the first non-geostationary satellite-to-car broadcasting system (Sirius, 1990).

          totally filthy rich

        2. Portia

          one more. they don’t explain how they will transplant that life force inhabiting your body

          “You will discard your body — you will literally throw it in the trash because you will neither want it nor need it. You will discard your biological body
          gladly, like you would discard an old pair of shoes today. You will be quite grateful to
          be rid of it.”

          “Your brain is going to be quite happy with the virtual experiences that your young,
          perfect, beautiful, tireless virtual body is having. The virtual world of Vertebrane will
          be rendered with a realism that is better than the actual world, and will include sexual
          activities at every turn that make real-world sex pale by comparison.
          Table of Contents for
          The Day You Discard Your Body
          This manuscript is part of an
          experiment. If you have
          comments, suggestions, questions
          and opinions on this manuscript,
          please send them to:
          Thank you for visiting today,
          With your brain fully occupied with these
          virtual experiences, your real, biological body
          will be sitting idle. What will your real-life
          body be doing in the meantime, now that your
          brain is disconnected from it and living in a
          virtual world?
          Your biological body will be reduced to the role
          of a life support system for your brain.
          However, since your brain will have no interest
          or desire to return to its biological body, your
          Vertebrane system will take over and operate
          your real body for you.”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Some are using science the same way some priests do – always promising a better tomorrow in another place, while allowing worsening living conditions here today.

        “Science for a better next day” is like their ‘Religion for a better next life.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Though, I believe, Brutus, the fault lies with ourselves, witnessing the popularity of the sci fi genre.

          Why is the universe out there for me to perceive, and yet, not to touch it, to feel it, to be there…

          “We can’t bear to not be able to walk every square inch of our backyard garden, and in the same way, we can’t stand not being able to visit every corner of the universe.”

          Thus for the mind’s peace, we immediately came up with the notions of hyper-drive and time travel.

          Whether they can be demonstrated rigorously is not the question. The sanity of the mind demands it. Pity the frail human psyche.

        2. fresno dan

          March 7, 2017 at 2:58 pm


      3. Vatch

        As if people can’t calculate the length of a light year.

        In the mid 1970s, George Lucas thought the parsec was a unit of time. There are probably people who think the same about a light year.

    2. ChrisPacific

      The article is scientific rather than political (so they aren’t talking about the Elon Musk fantasy that colonizing another planet would be easier than figuring out how not to trash this one).

      The key question is whether life arose on Earth due to a massive series of flukes chained together (in which case we can expect it to be rare/nonexistent elsewhere) or whether life evolves more or less inevitably given the right conditions. Finding planets with similar conditions to Earth offer the opportunity to gather new data points to answer that question – which might not be definitive, but would be infinitely better than the single data point we have right now.

      Planets 40 light years away are a complete non-starter for colonization purposes. All scientists know this and probably assume it’s obvious to everyone else as well. They could probably do a better job of making that point clear so that their findings don’t end up sold as snake oil by the likes of Musk.

  20. fresno dan

    “Let’s start with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. His phone calls were incidentally collected in routine monitoring of communications of Russian nationals. This means that while there was likely no warrant to tap Flynn’s phone calls, the government listened in on his calls with the Russian Ambassador to Washington,
    The original Washington Post story about the transcripts of the Flynn calls was sourced to nine current and former officials. That’s important. As I noted in a column last month, monitored communication of U.S. citizens is some of the most sensitive intelligence protected by the U.S. government. It appears in this case that Flynn’s conversations were widely distributed. [1]

    More recent reporting has supported this. The New York Times last week disclosed that White House aides in the final days of Obama’s presidency took unusual steps to widely distribute within the government intelligence suggesting ties between Russia and Trump and his associates. The Times reported that these officials ordered up intelligence reports and made sure they were at a low enough classification level that many more government officials could read them.

    The Times report posited that the Obama initiative on Trump and Russia was aimed at preserving intelligence and protecting sources, fearing the new administration would try to bury the reports once it came into power. This explanation, however, seems farfetched. [2]

    But misremembering meetings and over-the-top praise of the Russian president is not evidence of collusion with a foreign power’s intelligence operation. [3]
    It’s possible that the explosive leaks about Trump associates including Flynn, Sessions, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, political operator Roger Stone and former Russia adviser Carter Page are the tip of the iceberg. Or these leaks may be nothing more than rumor and innuendo. If it’s the latter, then the Obama officials who spread out the intelligence on Trump and Russia, and those who then leaked it, are prejudicing the FBI’s investigation before it finishes. That’s not whistleblowing. That’s political warfare.” [4]

    1. I believe in leaking. And this is suppose to be super secret, but Flynn is a Washington person involved in government policy, so I can’t get all that upset. What does upset me is that the media at best is so super naive that they think every leaker has NO AGENDA, OR the media is purposefully supporting the agenda.
    2. I don’t mind farfetched explanations. What I mind is when they are presented as the ONLY reasonable explanation, and that any alternate explanation ((e.g., the Obama administration is trying to make Trump look bad or like a commie)) is never acknowledged – again, it starts to look like a media conspiracy, or more plausible, a media mind set that cannot even fathom other points of view.
    3. Perfectly reasonable statement – but again, I haven’t heard it put forward in the MSM (and yes, maybe I missed the one time it was, but 1,000 screeching hysterical cable TV “discussions” that Trump is a pawn to the Russians is not canceled by ONE proposal that Trump is not a Russian pawn.
    4. Is Trump trying to cozy up to Russia so he can build golf courses in Siberia? (which explains Trump’s antipathy to doing anything about global warming?) Is that enough to impeach Trump?
    OR is the real reason that the blob will not, cannot tolerate rapprochement with Russia as it just cuts too many gravy trains??? AGAIN, my problem is that the alternate scenario apparently CANNOT even be broached….again, see today’s Chris Hedges article….

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The Times report posited that the Obama initiative on Trump and Russia was aimed at preserving intelligence and protecting sources, fearing the new administration would try to bury the reports once it came into power. This explanation, however, seems farfetched.

      Far-fetched is an understatement.

      Playing telephone with “classified” information with as big a group as possible as a means of information “preservation.” Characterizing this as insulting the reader’s intelligence is also an understatement.

      1. tgs

        Obama knew by doing this he would increase the chance of leaks. And he was right. There is no doubt in my mind that Obama did everything possible right before leaving office to scuttle any chance of detente with Russia.

  21. TheCatSaid

    The AlJazeera puff piece on the recent exoplanet discoveries is feeding the NASA line. “Intelligent life outside Earth? It’s far, far away if it’s there at all.” Some have suggested NASA is preparing the way–albeit slowly–for a semi-controlled confirmation that yes, there is intelligent life elsewhere. The recent exopolanet discoveries–in particular the universally synchronized press approach and gag-worthy obviously-rehearsed NASA press conference–are part of this process.

    Space news should be looked at just as carefully as propaganda on other topics. There are agendas at play. Governments know perfectly well there is intelligent life elsewhere, although the information is closely held in a compartmentalized, need-to-know fashion. So much has leaked from credible sources over decades that existence of off-world civilizations is one of the worst-kept secrets of our time. Governments know the cat is coming out of the bag, and the USA is trying desperately to control the way in which this happens so there is minimum disruption to existing structures of power/control/relative advantage.

    1. JustAnObserver

      Perhaps, then, we could re-purpose NASA to hunt for intelligent life in the – take your pick – Accela corridor, DNC, Trump Tower, Congress, CIA/FBI/DHS, Wall Street, the Valley …

      After that fails we could continue on to the City/Canary Wharf, Downing Street, Frankfurt/Berlin, the Elysee etc. Unfortunately its entirely possible that the resolution of the currently available instruments is not up to this daunting task.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      NASA is a self selective group, and the people involved in space exploration simply aren’t primed to support any kind of grand conspiracy to conceal the truth which are against human nature anyway. Plus there are multiple space agencies, defense department space agencies.

      I know Posta believes, but he was stupid enough to be spearfished.

      This is different than fossilized bacteria they might find on Mars which they can’t bring back or check under controlled circumstances which people largely accept, but the discovery of advanced life will have movies green lit by the end of the day of the discovery.

      1. ChrisPacific

        Agreed. Anyone who thinks that a scientific effort of this magnitude could have its results systematically suppressed by the US or any other government clearly hasn’t worked with scientists very much. Buy one a beer sometime and ask about government censorship, but make sure you clear your calendar first.

    3. craazyman

      Do they surf on other planets?

      You’d think so, or at least I would.

      A planet without surfing is like a moon without craters. You’d be like WTF!??? What they really need is a telescope that can look into other dimensions and they’d see all sorts of stuff. Whoa nelly! But first they’d have to chill out their science brains.

      If you think about it, there really is no such thing as “planets”. It’s just a slightly random way of organizing perception, but it’s not at all the only way or even the most useful way. Let’s say you got into a space ship and went to those planets, on the way there, they’d be continually changing in your mind — even though it would be a very slow change and then suddenly a very rapid change. But there’s no fixed “planet”. There’s an infinity of planets, all organizing themselves around an infinity of ideas of perception. Artists know this (or at least a lot of them do) but scientists are stuck in a single reference frame. It’s a very interesting frame, but it’s frankly — and let’s be strong enough to be candid here — subjective. If they looked in other dimensions they’d see some people, probably pretty close by. All they need is some channeling lessons in Santa Fe and they’re in business. No fancy telescopes required.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Maple syrup season and climate change fallout

    Coming from a family of maple producers I can attest to this. The weather has to be just right in order for the sap to run – needs to freeze at night and then get above freezing during the day, but not too hot. Normally there will be a few weeks in the early spring when the weather is just right.

    A few years ago it jumped into the 80s during March and never cooled down again. My uncle didn’t even bother trying to tap the trees that year and didn’t make a drop. I asked my dad who’s in his 70s if he’d seen weather so bad they couldn’t make anything and he had never seen it before.

    Not only did that whole year get wiped out but the ideal weather hasn’t been there for several years now. My uncle still uses the traditional method of buckets on the trees (which produces a better quality syrup than more modern pipelines) and so he’s completely dependent on the weather. He is one of the last of a dying breed however as most producers use more modern methods – pipeline attached to a vacuum which can draw sap from the tree even if the weather isn’t ideal. That is increasingly becoming the only way to get enough sap to make an operation worthwhile.

    One quibble with the article –

    The yield is down, too. It used to take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, but now it takes 50 gallons of sap to make a gallon, according to museum educator Lisa Dimarzo, who led the tours.

    The yield depends on the sugar contact of the sap. If you have a good sugarbush with healthy trees that catch a decent amount of sun, you might get a 3% sugar content which will yield a gallon of syrup from 30 gallons of sap. The sugar content does vary throughout the season as weather conditions change though so it’s not really accurate to say that the going rate is now 50 gallons of sap per gallon of syrup all the time.

    That being said, you can access the statistics of syrup makers reported by the various states. In recent years there have been some record amounts produced however that also comes from a record amount of trees being tapped. If you take the yield per tap, it is definitely down in recent years. There are other reasons for this – prices remain high and new producers are getting into the industry with different ideas of how things should be done. My family will never use more than two taps per tree no matter how big it is but you’ll see other producers put 3-5 taps per tree sometimes. Over the long run this isn’t particularly healthy for the trees as they do need some sap for themselves. This also tends to decrease the yield per tap.

    Yield per tap is the metric one would want to use and while there are other factors that affect this yield, quite clearly the changing climate plays a huge role and you don’t have to do much to find that out except open the window.

  23. PQS

    Re: Khan article:

    I don’t understand why it’s “seldom kosher” for an American citizen to be paid to speak at a private event in another country. What’s not kosher about this? I agree the story doesn’t make sense as written/reported, unless by “travel privileges” they mean a visa.

    Regarding “vengeful Trump operatives”, well, they’ve already hassled other Americans with Muslim names and of the Muslim faith, so why not this guy, who irritated Herr Trumpolini in a public forum? It seems to be the way the whole Administration operates.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      You’ve got a point.

      If it wasn’t “kosher” for an american citizen to get paid to speak in another country, the clintons would be living in a double-wide in Mena, Arkansas right now, hawking self-help seminars on how to go from trailer trash to president of the united states in ten easy steps.

      1. PQS

        Pretty much everyone with a high profile and a fat wallet gets paid to do this, I thought: tech billionaires, hedgies, the other 1%ers, etc. Because they’re all so smart.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Smart people have done more to wreck the world than not-so-smart people.

          I think the macho thing is to brag that one smart guy can do as much damage as 1,000,000,000 not-so-smart guys.

          “As soon as I unlock the mystery of the most powerful derivative!!!”

          Ego: “That will make you very, very famous…and rich, you smart genius.”

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Clinton was almost certainly not taking fees personally for overseas gigs in countries where she didn’t have a visa but instead getting donations to the foundation.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you but your provincialism is showing.

      It’s not permitted for foreign nationals to earn income without having a visa that allows for that. If you come in on a tourist visa, you are allowed only to sightsee.

      The reason big companies can send people oversees for meetings is that the person being paid is being paid back in his home country, not earning income from the country he is visiting.

      One exception is academics, they are generally permitted to get honoraria or fees for speaking oversesas.

  24. shargash

    Re: America Is Facing a Dangerous Enemy. We Just Can’t Agree Who It Is

    America, please get your psychological projections in synch!

  25. Grumpy Engineer

    Question for Yves and other NC readers, regarding where “it is revealed that most money managers and economists don’t understand that QE is not ‘money printing’.”:

    WHY did the Federal Reserve embark on the quantitative easing (QE) exercises? Because when I look at job creation charts vs. QE timelines, I see almost zero correlation. As best I can tell, QE had no affect on Americans’ job situation at all. On the other hand, when I look at S&P500 charts vs. QE timelines, I see a pretty strong correlation. Stock prices rose sharply while QE was in effect and stayed fairly flat when it wasn’t. [Well, until the recent, weird, and likely short-lived “Trump effect” took place.]

    In my opinion, QE was a major reason why the growth in income inequality was worse under Obama that it was under George Bush or Bill Clinton: When a policy drives stock prices sharply higher, it increases the wealth of those who with lots of stock holdings, i.e., the rich. People without stock holdings get left out entirely.

    Again, does anybody know WHY the Federal Reserve did QE? And was it worth the resulting growth in income inequality?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      …does anybody know WHY the Federal Reserve did QE?

      I always thought it was to goose the price of worthless assets to make the banks appear solvent. The money never actually circulates though so you get massive ‘money printing’ without the concomitant inflation.

      Extend and pretend…

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. The banks. Probably trying to goose the value of housing prices to bail out the banks and (hey!!) maybe even rescue a few people who would otherwise be underwater on their mortgages.

        Of course, the flip side of rising house prices is that housing becomes less affordable for the people who don’t own any yet. Sigh… Yet another example of policy favoring those who already “have” vs. those who “have not”.

        The rising stock prices were likely an unanticipated side effect. To which, of course, wealthy and powerful people didn’t object.

    2. Tigerlily

      There is an important political dimension to QE: it was the Fed’s (and by extension the broader political establishment’s) way of taking fiscal stimulus off the table by offering QE as an ideologically acceptable substitute.

      It doesn’t matter if QE didn’t increase employment (the establishment looks at the official unemployment rate and concludes America is virtually at full employment anyway) because that’s not what it was intended to do. It was intended to keep the lid on the Pandora’s box of using fiscal policy for economic stimulus – or perhaps more accurately, to slam the lid shut after Obama had briefly lifted it a fraction of an inch.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Bernanke repeatedly said it was to lower interest and compress spreads, as in make mortgage lending cheaper. In other words, to goose asset prices and create a wealth effect.

  26. JeffC

    The Next Step in the Trump-DeVos Plan to Send Taxpayer Money to Religious Schools Mother Jones (resilc)

    Sloppy writing in that one, as it claims Florida offers tax credits to individuals for supporting private schools. In fact Florida has no state income tax, and its constitution prohibits enacting one. (I currently live in Florida.)

  27. Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

    “Occupy Oakland, which had one of the worst incidents, had Black Bloc (anarchists who favor violence) join them, and the open structure of Occupy made it impossible to keep them out (they even tried rule changes, like changing consensus votes to IIRC 90% majority). ”

    Did the leaders of Occupy Oakland publically condemn Black Bloc, warn people in Occupy about these infiltrators and enlist their help to prevent violent anarchists from degrading the program?

    More broadly, how widespread have been the condemnations by the Left about violence done in their name?

    1. Tigerlily

      Did the leaders of Occupy Oakland publically condemn Black Bloc, warn people in Occupy about these infiltrators and enlist their help to prevent violent anarchists from degrading the program?

      Which leaders are you referring to specifically?

      One of the defining characteristics of OWS is that it operated through collective, consensus driven decision making rather than having a traditional leadership structure. The movement’s ethic of inclusiveness made it very difficult to draw a clear line between who was “in” and “out” of it. Also, attempting to draw such a line would have been resisted by many participants as schismatic and likely to fracture the movement into rival camps, each claiming to be the “legitimate” OWS.

      So in answer to your question…it’s complicated.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Those were particularly vibrant rhino horns, to serve the demands of a new community, no doubt.

      When pets in a zoo aren’t even safe…shades of when you’ve lost (fill in blank, Walter Cronkite, etc) :(

  28. Anon

    Re: Rain and water storage in California

    Didn’t read far in this article; as it equates population numbers with water consumption. People are not the biggest consumer of water in California. Agriculture is: ~80%. The storage capacity (reservoirs) is limited because reservoirs are expensive, dangerous, and ineffective containers (evaporative loss) of water.

    California’s largest single, effective water storage is in the natural Sierra snowpack (+30%). (And, of course, that is being impacted by climate change.)

    1. Tigerlily

      Since THAAD is designed to intercept a missile in the terminal phase of its trajectory -that is, right before impact- I don’t see how the missile’s range would effect it. Could have something to do with a longer range missile having a different trajectory, I guess.

    1. marym


      Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

      We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models.

      ….The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

      (Includes discussion of sentencing)

  29. JoeK

    “From across the Galaxy, just shy of 40 light years away…..”

    40 l.y. away in a galaxy estimated to be at least 100,000 l.y. wide is hardly “from across the galaxy.” More like in the next room.

    This from (apparently) an actual astronomer?

    1. craazyman

      When you can only go 25,000 mph 40 light years might as well be 100,000!

      When the get to Mars, if they do, they’ll wonder why they thought it was such a good idea to go in the first place. I’d go to Mars but only if I could come right back, like in a taxi.

      What difference does it really make if there’s planets 40 light years away? It makes no difference at all. if you want them to be there, then just imagine a universe where they’re there. That’s the same thing. Evidently, they need to know they’re there. That’s weird. Because they’re there whether you want them to be or not. Hahahah. WTF are they looking for ? Whoa that a deep thought. They probably thought that in 40.000 BC too. Haha

  30. Baby Gerald

    Here’s a story in the NYT today about devolution in full-swing in Omaha, Nebraska:

    Omaha’s Answer to Costly Potholes? Go Back to Gravel Roads

    In searching for the headline to link, I discovered that a version of this same story [taken from the AP] with almost the exact same headline ran in Salon back in August of last year:

    Omaha’s answer to pothole complaints: a new dirt road

    Anyone want to speculate as to why it took the Times seven months to report this?

  31. Scylla

    Just thought I would note that Black Bloc is not a group- it is a tactic that anyone can use. The other day I actually saw video on the Twitter of right wingers (waving US flags and #MAGA type slogans) using Black Bloc tactics (head to toe black clothing, clubs and shields were prominent) against what I assumed were Antifa types (these were younger people who were definitely not using Black Bloc tactics) at one of the many protests on a college campus. Notably, the police did not seem to mind the right wingers using the Black Bloc tactics or using weapons on the other protestors.

    1. Grebo

      You think it was a different Black Bloc? I thought the reason Black Bloccers are never arrested is that they are policemen.

  32. 3.14e-9

    The cat that Lambert featured in Links yesterday, that needed to be rescued or fostered pronto or he would be put down, was rescued per James, who was ready to help. Several readers linked to his story to solicit possible adopters and one gave some money on his behalf. Thanks for your good wishes and actions!

    What other political/financial commentariat would do this? Just one of many things that makes NC so special. Thank you to everyone who helped this kitty find his people.

  33. optimader

    Unlike the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is a domestic security service, the CIA has no law enforcement function and is mainly focused on overseas intelligence gathering, with only limited domestic intelligence collection

    lol this

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