Links 4/10/2017

An Angry Rhino Bites An Elephant and Gets Outta Dodge Wired (resilc)

Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data Guardian. Important and depressing.

Online database maps ocean pollution and its effect on animals Treehugger

Coca-Cola produces over 100 billion plastic bottles that can’t be recycled, Greenpeace says Independent

Bison had survived for 2 million years until humans arrived BBC

Disney files patent for “huggable and interactive” humanoid robots Ars Technica

Chimpanzees hunting for honey are cleverer than we thought The Conversation

Massive protest in Hungary against bill that could oust Soros university Reuters (furzy)

Ecuadorians Reject Neoliberalism in Presidential Race New Economic Perspectives (martha r)

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch


Donald Trump’s Self-Serving War Against Surveillance New Republic. Some worthwhile nuggets despite the obvious bias..

Director Corday’s appearance before House Committee: strong on theater, weak on substance Consumer Finance Monitor

Second-Order Consequences of Self-Driving Vehicles Michael Shedlock

U.S. Immigration Agency Will Lose Millions Because It Can’t Process Visas Fast Enough Truthdig

Fox Will Investigate O’Reilly Harassment Claims, Attorney Says Hollywood Reporter. Pass the popcorn.

Barclays’s Staley Draws U.S., U.K. Whistle-Blower Probes Bloomberg

The Man in Charge of Fixing Fannie and Freddie Knows Them All Too Well NYT. Gretchen Morgenson.

War on Cash

Cash Is Dead. Long Live Cash. WSJ. Worth reading despite some factual errors.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Prepare for Impact – This is the Beginning of the End for U.S. Empire Liberty Blitzkrieg (Chuck L)


Pro-Erdogan Sites Take Aim at Critics in Germany Der Spiegel

US and North Korea ‘closer to brink’ of accidental conflict SCMP


China’s bike-sharing boom puts pressure on planners SCMP

Ford CEO Says Trump-Xi Meeting Sets Base for Stronger Ties Bloomberg

The US must work on its economic relationship with China FT The view from Lawrence Summers.

Opinion: summit was not quite the meeting of equals Xi would have wanted SCMP

Class Warfare

How upgrading humans will become the next billion-dollar industry MarketWatch

Where Evangelicals Came From NYRB Interesting long read by Garry Wills, reviewing Frances FitzGerald’s latest book.

Our Famously Free Press

Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes—Zero Are Critical AlterNet. Important. I know the MSM is far from an honest broker, but even I was stunned to see how uniform the war cheerleading has been.

New Cold War

59 Ways to Kill a Russian Reset Foreign Policy

Britain to push for tough new sanctions on Putin The Times

Trump Transition

How Republicans learned to love Obama Politico

UK tourists to US may get asked to hand in passwords or be denied entry The Guardian

Why Is Trump Losing So Much? Vice. Will Richard Neustadt please pick up the white courtesy ‘phone? Seriously, a good summary of where we actually are— and without any attempt to explain that state of affairs away with any 11th dimensional chess nonsense.

Why Democrats have no regrets after McConnell’s ‘nuclear’ blast Politico. Well, one upside from nominating Judge Judy to the Court is it would break the Harvard/Yale lock on those seats.


Liberal leaders call for challenge to Gabbard over Syria skepticism CNN (hoisted from comments)

The Syria Catastrophe n + 1

Syria and North Korea Are Not Impressed Washington Monthly (resilc)


Why has India been silent about the chemical attacks in Syria?

Is US Policy to Prolong the Syrian War? Counterpunch (resilc)

Theresa May deliberately humiliated Boris Johnson this week – her disdain for him is reaching dangerous levels Independent. Filed here for the Syria insights.

If US Missiles Kill Children in StrikesAimed at the People Fighting Isis The Writing of John Laurits (martha r)


Refugee Watch

Lesbos: The refugee crisis in 2015; the island today Al Jazeera



How Courts in India and the US Approach Transgender Rights The Wire

Opposition parties to meet EC over EVM issue The Hindu. Interesting– the Congress party calls for use of paper ballots in future in light of alleged tampering with voting machines in recent elections in several states.

Indian police arrest alleged kingpin of U.S. tax scam Reuters

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Kaam

    Hi J-LN,

    Have you seen this- – the removal of political donation caps to Indian parties done under the guise of amendments to the Finance Bill,2017? Considering the USA has seen the dire consequences of this I hope NC covers this as a major article

  2. MoiAussie

    Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’
    The Grauniad article is good, but for anyone interested in understanding the geography of the damage, the maps in the report at ScienceAlert are helpful. Cyclone Debbie struck the reef near the cluster of islands just north of Mackay causing major damage.

    The tourism operators have been trying to downplay the damage for years now and apply bandaids, but there are a few largely undamaged areas in the southern parts, so there’s still a chance to see it before it’s gone forever.

        1. MoiAussie

          The optimism of the headline is belied by the actual content of the article.

          a new study reveals that some corals can bounce back from such near death experiences [bleaching]

          The team has monitored 21 reefs in the Seychelles… The majority of these reefs—12 out of 21—were able to recover after bleaching in warming waters in 1998. The other nine became seaweed-covered ruins.

          The scientists have teased out the factors that most strongly predicted a resilient or doomed reef…the team could predict which reefs would or would not recover 98 percent of the time.

          One factor that could complicate this resilience analysis is seawater acidity, or pH… The corals that form Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are now growing half as fast as in the 1970s, largely because much of that new growth is dissolving away at night.

          So now Australian scientists are predicting that large parts of the reef will not recover.

                1. flora

                  By all means, save the corals. I’m very glad they are trying to ameliorate coral destruction by selective breeding.
                  Saving a single life form doesn’t help the larger environmental problem. It doesn’t address, for example, ocean acidification’s effects on planktons, base of the ocean food chain, and on the subset phytoplanktons, producers of 50-80% of the earth’s atmospheric oxygen. What happens in the oceans doesn’t stay in the oceans. Coral deaths are the ‘canary in the coal mine’.


        2. Katharine

          “It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

          It is the fourth time coral bleaching—where stressed corals expel the algae that live in their tissue and provide them with food—has hit the reef after previous events in 1998 and 2002.

          1. Expat

            Hey, this is good for Australia! If the reef dies, they can harvest the pretty pieces of coral and sell them. They will earn a fortune. Quick! Someone register the website

            Yours truly,
            A freshly minted MBA with political aspirations in this golden age for business

        3. flora

          Corals can come back from heat induced bleaching. Whether or not they can come back from CO2 caused ocean acidification is open to question. Sea water absorbs CO2. Both heat and ocean acidification are causes for current bleaching phenomena.

          “Fundamental changes in seawater chemistry are occurring throughout the world’s oceans. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from humankind’s industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. Initially, many scientists focused on the benefits of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. However, decades of ocean observations now show that there is also a downside — the CO2 absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called OCEAN ACIDIFICATION.”


          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Corals are the Undesirables of (the rest of) Nature.

            We’ve always thought the ocean didn’t bleed when we prick it.

            Now, we’re discovering, belatedly, they are dying.

        4. Hana M

          The balanced approach taken in the Scientific American article is the reason I linked to it. Causes of coral bleaching and possible recovery are complex. I do hope readers of Naked Capitalism have not devolved to the point where they only read the headlines.

          1. JoeK

            @Hana M

            Thanks for the concern trolling, but based on your two posts, I’m going to wager that most of the commentariat here, should they “devolve” to reading only headlines, will still be heads and shoulders above whatever level of reasoning you’ve “evolved” to.

            The S.A. article (I read the actual article, do I get a cookie?) is chock-full of hopeful pablum, like the following: “”Reducing local impacts as much as possible will give them the best chance of survival,” Graham notes. “Managing the impacts to reefs is really about understanding and managing human actions.”

            Ya don’t say! Well slap my face and call me silly. I guess then we’ll have to reduce local impacts (does that mean literal impacts? Like meteorites?) and manage human actions. Like those that are warming up the whole freaking planet. Sounds easy enough.

            Or: “Many reef corals just might be capable of adapting fast enough to survive current rates of global environmental change,”

            Just might be….that’s positively conclusive then. As long as “current rates” don’t increase (like they have been doing).

            Snark off: everything I’ve read states that coral reefs need years, or a decade, to recover, including this SA article. The GBR has had unprecedented bleaching two years in a row. What does the SA article have to say about that? Nothing.

            So much for “fair and balanced,” like the MSM. S.A. seems to be another victim of crapitalism.

            I happen to dive and can give some first-hand feedback, having gone for training to the same locations for years now: the corals are bleaching, the fish are disappearing, the water’s getting bath-warm. Time for some serious human-action managing.

            1. JoeK

              Actually, the article ends with a very “unbalanced” conclusion:

              “If coral reefs are to thrive in the Anthropocene—the current epoch in which human activity has become a driving force on the planet—CO2 levels in the atmosphere will have to drop.”

              but couches it in characteristically dis-informing language: co2 levels will merely have to drop….somehow… does that work again? Oh yes, turn off modernity as we’ve constructed it. Now where’s the kill button……should be the red one……

          2. Anon

            Natural systems (ecological balance) are/is infinitely more complex than most folks understand. For years the studied assessment was that natural systems recurse to some “norm” when disturbed. Not So.

            “Discordant Harmonies”, 1990, by Daniel Botkin clearly placed that theory to rest. The future ecology of the Great Barrier Reef is essentially unknown.

    1. Jef

      “so there’s still a chance to see it before it’s gone forever.”

      Great concept for a start-up travel biz. Lets get as many people as possible flying all around, steaming around on ships, crisscrossing the globe in order to see all the wonders before they die. Well at least all of the special people.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s like those people who told me, personally, ‘to see the glaciers before they are gone forever.’

        For the record, one finds Beauty and Miracles (of Life) in one’s backyard…easily.

        “Your wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. No need to watch the pageants.”

      2. Sam Adams

        Obviously the comment was ment as snark, but I’ve been traveling to areas and places precisely because they will never be seen again and I’d like to see the wonders before they will disappear into memory.

        1. Jef

          Which is precisely why they will disappear.

          It always amazes me how removed we all are, particularly Americans, from cause and effect.

          P.S. You really should have seen the middle east before we bombed it back into the stone age, hell you can still go.

  3. Roger Smith

    That CNN article on Gabbard is beyond infuriating. From what I have seen we have one… ONE Democrat (including Bernie Sanders who proves again and again that naivety is his strongest attribute) who is actually using their cognitive functions, so we are supposed to vote her out of office. Of course, Google told me so. This decay and rot has reached the point of no return. We are not coming out of this soon or in one piece. If full blown war starts I better see Neera, Dean, McCain, Graham, Clinton, Trump, and all these other sacks of worthless crap out there on the front lines.

    1. Carolinian

      Of the ones you mentioned only McCain has seen actual combat although Hillary was under sniper fire in Bosnia (oh wait). There was a time when politicians felt they had to have some sort of military veteran status to be viable and Caro talks about how LBJ did a WW2 bomber ride along as his only gesture in that direction (still, more than Hillary). Of course chickenhawk Lyndon gave us our worst and most futile defeat ever.

      There’s still hope that Trump or his family advisers will realize that messing with Syria was a terrible mistake. Given the lunacy of the MSM hope is all we have to cling to.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Name me one ‘progressive’ who stood up to the MSM, even just once, when they have been war-drumming for the past few months.

        Just name one.

        1. Lee

          Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who cast the sole dissenting vote the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001, tweeted Thursday, “This is an act of war. Congress needs to come back into session [and] hold a debate. Anything less is an abdication of our responsibility.”

          The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) likewise tweeted, “Syria chemical attacks were horrendous. Yet our response can’t violate Constitution, which requires Congress’ approval for military force.”

          Protests are also planned in the U.S. and Canada.

          In the U.K., Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said unilateral strikes could worsen the conflict in the region and called for renewed peace talks.

          I am not related to Barbara Lee although she is the one Democrat for whom I regularly vote.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Always the misbegotten assumption that it was Syrian national military forces that did the gas attacks. Proof? Other than links to NYT and Guardian stories, based on what, again? Fog of war? More like buckets of Bernays sauce…

            “Everybody knows,” right? Even the Lefts propagate the propaganda…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thank you both for mentioning those two.

            We need them to speak up now, but we needed also some to stand up to the relentless war-drumming in the form of Russian hacking, and by implication, justification of a state of war between them and us.

            The two stem from the same hidden, entrenched and not-going-way-soon (as in 4 or 8 years) source.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      What the USA needs is a draft, but not a broad-based draft like what we’ve had in the past. The modern military simply does not need that many people. Instead we need a narrowly focused draft, one that puts the decision makers’ skins in the game. The draft I suggest would apply only to relatives of people in positions of high national security authority. These would be all members of both houses of Congress, the President and Vice President, and all cabinet secretaries and other political appointees in the various departments and agencies that have significant roles in foreign affairs and national security. DoD, State, CIA, etc. From the date a person begins serving in any such office until twenty five years has elapsed after the time he or she leaves that office, all relatives, male or female, of that person or his or her spouse down through the third level of consanguinity must serve three years in a combat arm (infantry, artillery, armor, etc.) of one of the two military ground forces (i.e. Army or Marines).

      I believe that the prospect of catching s**t for the rest of your life from aunts, uncles and cousins for sending grand nephew Willie or first cousin twice removed Beatrice off to die in some god-forsaken place for god-knows what reason will concentrate the minds of at least some of those in high positions and also discourage the chicken-hawks from seeking them in the first place.

      1. David J.

        I’ve been an advocate for a modernized draft since Gulf War I. Major bullet points of my argument:

        –If one is liable to be scooped up and sent off to war, then the likelihood of paying attention to the pros and cons of foreign policy increases.

        –Expand the draft to include a Civilian Conservation Corps component. Rebuild all the old infrastructure. And while we’re at it, refocus on training young folks for trades and other blue collar work. And for those who want to continue on to college, have a civilian GI Bill element.

        –This way we not only sharpen the civics knowledge of young adults–and maybe drive them to the streets, a la Vietnam protests, when the MIC gets uppity–we also help to recreate a genuine working class again.

        –If this can be scaled up it would represent a reorientation towards actual useful productive economic activity and might be an important impetus towards defeating the last 40 years of neoliberal, rent-seeking, auto-cannibalizing of the country. An economy which makes things is good; an economy based on paying vigorish is…well we know what that looks like.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Why not just offer salaries to rebuild infrastructure? The problem isn’t a labor shortage, necessitating a draft which would have a downward pressure on wages.

          Young people have been the most prominent antiwar voices. Why do they need a civics lesson?

          1. David J.

            Because the only way our infrastructure will be rebuilt (and modernized) is through primarily government initiatives. No way to finance it otherwise. As for downward pressure on wages: I’d suggest that there are tons of youngsters who would find their economic situation improved if they were pulling in wages at the levels we pay enlisted folks. Beats flipping hamburger pay.

            The idea that a singular civics lesson is what I suggested is incorrect. That’s not what I said. While it’s true that young folks make up a large part of protest movements, it’s my view that it’s not enough.

            An anecdote: In the days immediately after 9-11 I was approached by a small group of co-workers who were considering enlisting in the military. They came to me because I’m a veteran (74-78) and wanted some input. We talked about a lot of things–both general and detailed–but my advice boiled down to this: “It’s a difficult decision that shouldn’t be taken on the spur of the moment. You really need to understand that you might die in a war. You really need to decide if dying in any war is in line with your moral outlook. Take some time for things to settle a little before making your decision.” One kid did go off to war and he came back both a man and a shell of a man.

            So, the potentiality of being drafted will, I repeat, sharpen one’s focus. The potentiality of learning a good trade, while being paid for it and while making a positive impact economically, is a lot better than languishing in retail/service sector hell.

            We really need to stop pussy-footing around and stop this decades long economic slide. And I submit that an important element of this is increasing one’s identification as an active citizen and minimizing one’s passive acceptance as a “consumer.”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I want to say we also need the Gold standard.

              When we were on it, we still intervened here and there globally.

              But that led to money problems.

              Didn’t have money to hire private contractors to continue the war in Vietnam.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              Right…what does that have to do with a draft?

              States and localities already have ready labor forces. They
              just need money. Why a draft? It’s not necessary except to blame young people for society’s ills.

              They aren’t taking jobs as waiters or Uber drivers because they just need to be drafted and gain focus. If you think the gig economy exists because you guys people lack focus, you need to think about the world around you.

              Back a few years, Tim Kane fired a bunch of engineers from the state department of Transportation. What do you think he would do if he could round up kids to do work the are forced into, giving up their leverage? He would have fired everyone.

            3. reslez

              > I’d suggest that there are tons of youngsters who would find their economic situation improved if they were pulling in wages at the levels we pay enlisted folks

              Such a blithe remark! An E-1 pulls down $1592/mo which works out to about $10/hr. So the initial optics are not that great. But wait, there’s more. The E-1 also gets allowances for food, housing and free health care, paid vacations and sick time, and the chance of an increasingly crappy pension. But they’re also on duty 24/7 with no OT so that $10/hr might come to a lot less. And it wouldn’t do to forget being subject to military justice, the chain of command, being ordered into battle to kill others and potentially die, etc.

              Not to mention most young people aren’t even eligible for military service because of convictions or health problems like obesity, drug use, and mental illness. No wonder they want to extend the draft to women….

              1. XMidway

                When I was in you didn’t get an “allowance” for food but you could shop at the commissary (not a pleasant experience).
                You could get an “allowance” for housing if on-base housing was full, but it wasn’t much so everyone was on the waiting list, desperate to move on-base. You could, theoretically, get 30 days of leave, but I never knew anyone who managed it. A couple day here; a couple days there was what you usually got (I was forward deployed, so it may be different in CONUS). While having health care is a benefit, most everyone did their best to stay out out sick bay ’cause the care was so bad. Nobody is on duty 24/7. Duty has a specific meaning in the military. That being said, 12 hour days, 7 days a week for months at a stretch were the norm (again, forward deployed so YMMV). Service members are not paid by the hour. They get a salary, so OT doesn’t enter into it. We do get combat pay if we are in a war zone.

                People often tell me about all the wonderful benefits the DoD gives the military. I then ask them why they haven’t signed up.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The feudal way was for the rich to buy someone to go in his stead…or her stead.

            “One robot soldier for sale. He will go to Vietnam for you.”

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Strap McCain to a Tomahawk missile with a feeding tube, hand him the launch button and the photos of the grandmothers and children he will kill if he pushes it.

              In history people eventually unite to oppose bloodthirsty totalitarian tyrants, remains to be seen how much longer the current Global Alpha Bully can act with total impunity. Right now a share of the tribute payments are flowing back to the Tier One colonies (Europe, China) so they’re not making launches of their own yet, but the balance of terror may be shifting

            2. clinical wasteman

              Not just feudal: sons of wealthy families drafted onto either side of the US Civil War could perfectly legally “purchase a substitute”, i.e. pay some Deplorable kid a sub-lump sum to go and be torn limb from limb instead. (See countless web articles at the first click, or better still, ‘A Frolic of His Own’ by William Gaddis, an apoplectically funny and angry novel featuring the rich descendants of a rich Civil War-era kid who went to his comfortable grave haunted by the suspicion that the substitutes he purchased (one on each side, for business travel reasons!) killed each other at Appotomax. Gaddis was generally way more class-conscious than he’s usually given credit for, especially here and in the equally great ‘JR’.)
              The same system applied in France until well into the 19th century, as is explained in the first useful New York Times article I’ve ever seen (datelined 1863): []. (Not in 1792-4 in the revolutionary armies of Danton and Saint-Just though).
              The English (and anglicized Scottish and Irish) elites, meanwhile, had another way of ensuring that their younger sons didn’t become canon-fodder: they bought them into the army, making instant senior officers of these teenagers while keeping them far from the bayonets, artillery fire, dysentery and floggings (except those they ordered for sport). Often it would eventually get them a nice posting as a provincial governor or plantation supervisor in the Colonies too. Imperial Britain’s famous lack of a standing conscript army (except when it had one) was for a long time largely because the job of conscripting was outsourced to this sort of private sector: a gilded and ambitious young man would purchase a Commission and “raise a regiment”, i.e. force some of his personal supply of “free” peasants to join up and/or organize a pressgang to collect some of the “masterless” urban poor. So perhaps you could say the English way (from, say, the Restoration of 1660 to Crimea and the Indian “Mutiny”/First War of Indian Independence) was both more feudal and more 21st century (think: economic conscription, Private Military Contractors…) than the French and American conscript/substitute system. But then again maybe it’s tautological to say “more feudal AND more 21st century”.

        2. neo-realist

          Expand the draft to include a Civilian Conservation Corps component. Rebuild all the old infrastructure.

          My concern would be how would you keep privileged white parents from using money and connections from working the system and having their kids monopolize all the non combat CCC gigs?

          It would be an immense challenge, if not an impossibility, to insure an egalitarian draft; so it won’t happen cause privilege don’t want no skin in the game.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            You need drafts for two reasons:

            -labor shortages (real ones)
            -World War II situations where you need a draft to keep everyone from enlisting the same week. “Go home, you will get a draft card when we are ready for you.”

            Drafts serve no other practical purpose except to depress wages by providing low cost labor. Think “Teach for America.”

            If we rebuild infrastructure, pay for it. Even now at this very moment, bridges and roads are being worked on by professionals, many of who would work more hours if they were paid more. Astonishing, I know.

            I’ve found people who want drafts are looking for a way to shift blame onto young people for problems created by decision makers. He even blames young people for not opposing wars despite it young people serving as the largest opposition bloc.

            Another problem with the draft is many infrastructure jobs aren’t easy to do and can’t be done by flooding the place with a bunch of 18 year olds.

            1. David J.

              “He even blames young people for not opposing wars despite it young people serving as the largest opposition bloc.”

              No. This is a false inference on your part. I’m not blaming young folks. When I say, “sharpen focus” I mean precisely this: Providing a reason for young folks to seek out more empirical information, as well as providing motive for improving the necessary analytical tools such that one can more effectively oppose those who promulgate evil, war-mongering policy.

              In any case, cheers. I’ll see you on the barricades.

      2. cocomaan

        At this point of absolute gridlock, I’d settle for people having to sign their daughters up for selective service. I’m probably on the high side in any draft situation, but I’m still in good shape, so I’m nervous.

        nevermind, I just checked. Conscription has often been raised to age 45 or so. With the number of obese teenagers out there, I’m probably good meat for the front line.

        1. Tom

          At what point does a woman get exempted from combat because she “got pregnant”?
          First, Second, Third Trimester? How about combat support except for one week to deliver her baby that is then property of the U.S. government?

          1. reslez

            When I was in the military, pregnancy gave you the option of an early out with no questions asked. A soldier with a child and no emergency child care plan (no, the military doesn’t provide this) basically got kicked out.

          2. Will S.

            I would kind of love to see anti-abortionist neocons twist themselves in circles justifying sending a woman in her second trimester to the front lines, which I have little doubt they would do (as long as she was a poor, of course).

      3. Whine Country

        ex-PFC Chuck – Hooah! One minor quibble though. The Marines might object to taking those draftees of whom you speak because of their long standing tradition of being limited to “A Few Good Men”. I’m not sure who you PFC’d for (maybe I should have said oorah), but the Army would surely return to it’s policy of taking all of the “Not So Good Men” (like me).

      4. Katharine

        Yes! I’ve thought of something like that for a while, but you’ve developed it further. They need to be made to think about what they’re doing.

        1. Pat

          Automatic 40% war tax surcharge on any government or public “person” who advocates for military intervention. No deductions, of the gross. Oh and a sequester rule where this surcharge must cover half of all costs of said military intervention (s). I’m sure Time Warner, Disney, Newscorp, Bezos etc will love seeing 40% of their worldwide income walk out the door before anything else in order to remove Assad. White Helmet bull will be jettisoned so fast your head will spin. And Clooney…

        2. reslez

          I don’t think it always works. In feudal cultures the nobility were the most blood-thirsty people around. They happily went to war, slaughtering each others’ kids. I agree that our elites are cowards so we have a better shot.

      5. Alex Morfesis

        Full draft except reverse the age…oldest living persons first who have never served(yup bill, you and dubya too) and work your way down to the yunginz…if one realy wanted to see a reduction in forward activities put gramps and granmaw at the front…that will put a swift end to all this cowboys in a cave pushing buttons nonsense…but it ainagunnahappin…war is not hell for those who get the “classified” so we don’t have to explain it contracts…

        1. clinical wasteman

          Although I detest all drafts on first principles (eg. the one that says “service” should never even appear in the same sentence with “national”), this is the most appealing one I’ve ever seen, if only because it fits so well with my long-cherished Lesser Evil/”Getting Things Done” plan for non-revolutionary times, namely: a reverse property qualification for voting.

    3. Bob

      “If full blown war starts I better see Neera, Dean, McCain, Graham, Clinton, Trump, and all these other sacks of worthless crap out there on the front lines.”

      No. Have them send their children! Except for McCain, with two children in the military, I suspect the others would do everything possible to avoid sending their children to war. Bringing back the draft will do more to reduce “war fever” than any other single act.

      I would agree with ex-PFC Chuck’s proposal above.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        There are some it seems among the Neoconservative fraternity those who bury themselves in the study of war – who therefore could claim to be experts in that field.

        As in many other forms of expertise they appear for the most part to be missing the practical side of the subject. Perhaps another type of field could be recommended to further their education – one with bits of bodies flying through the air, which could well have been their own.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Children are merely commodities to psychopaths. They will send them to war if it boosts their stock. There are stories in every war of some rich ahole explaining to his kids now “he’s a man because he’s gone to war just like the old man” ignoring the old man marched on parade because of rumors of Indians or something.

        Threatening their kids won’t work. Raise their taxes. That will work.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Add “War Tax” as a % deduction from paychecks ala Social Security and Medicare, including employer “match,” so that people can see how long they have to work to pay for wars, and how fast it goes up. And what they’re getting for their money. And how much money they’d have in their pockets without them.

        2. hunkerdown

          At a certain level, legacy becomes important. Threatening their kids might or might not change the parents’ minds, but it allows the rest of the force a fine opportunity to frag the insufferable. Which is precisely why upper-class pipsqueak officers, live arms, and troops will never all three be in the same place at once, however salutary to the greater good such conditions might be.

    4. kyria

      There is ONE other Democrat using his cognitive functions. According to Michael Tracey, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii also voiced principled opposition to the bombing.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As Hillary said once, “It takes a village.”

        It’s never just one person.

        The job requires all the Shallow People in the Deep State.

    5. Oregoncharles

      In a nuclear war, we’re ALL on the front lines.

      Some of us remember duck-and-cover, used to terrify schoolchildren throughout the US. Or the Cuban Missile Crisis, when I was an impressionable high school boy.

  4. Edna M.

    Re: Liberal leaders call for challenge to Gabbard over Syria skepticism

    People in the future (assuming there will not be a WWIII and people are still around in the future) will have to do much reading and take many classes to understand what the word “Liberal” means in politics. In the past they seemed to be against war but now they are the biggest war hawks. I read comments (on other sites) questioning why Trump warned the Russians about the strikes. I guess they wanted more casualties? Unbelievable that the “liberals” are threatening to primary Gabbard.

    1. craazyman

      Evidently acccording to the link she beat her last primary challeenger 85 to 15 and her repub opponent 81 – 19, so she’s not going anywhere.

      My guess is they’re beating her up as an example for others .

      I dont’ know how anybody can understand what “the trruth” is oveer there in Syria unless they make it a full time research project. And even then the truth might crumble into a bewildering cloud of self-contradictory dust. I’d tend to believe Rep. Gabbard on this as much as anybody though.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah well like a tiring boxer every punch is weaker. I can’t quote Ghandi correctly, but you know the one about first getting laughed at and in the end winning.

          We are at the end stage. Looks like Gabbard can take these punches, pretty easily in fact. But *if* she goes down the next person up won’t.

      1. Steve H.

        : My guess is they’re beating her up as an example for others .

        They’re trying to beat her up, but it’s not working. She’s extremely tough-minded and disciplined, like a boxer planning on going the distance in a fight. Keep jabbing with ‘peace’ and ‘regime change’ and when they overextend, slug’em with ‘veteran’ and ‘fake news.’ And she still had ‘100 million dollar Tomahawk strike for nothing’ held in reserve at the end of the match.

        1. Dirk77

          She was a major in the army, so has firsthand experience with pointless war and dealing with pinheads.

    2. tgs

      The only rational response to the narrative we are being given on Syria is skepticism. And the piece:

      If US Missiles Kill Children in StrikesAimed at the People Fighting Isis

      clearly explains why we should have doubts. What is depressing is that Gabbard is being attacked for her sane response to current events.

      WW3 seems inevitable to me at this point since the political establishment and the media so clearly long for it.

      1. m

        US can back terrorists or start WW3 in middle east, sadly either way meet their objective of chaos & ultimately regime change. I need to send Gabbard some $, just to say hey keep it up.

          1. DJPS

            Good idea. I only found an act blue page to donate through. Does all the money to go Tulsi without stopping at the DNC?

            1. Vatch

              You can send a check, although she probably doesn’t need the money right now. It might make more sense to donate to Rob Quist in Montana (the Kansas election is tomorrow, so it’s probably too late to donate to James Thompson). Anyhow, here’s how to donate to Tulsi Gabbard without any intermediaries such as ActBlue:

              Mail: To contribute by mail, please send a personal check made payable to “Tulsi For Hawaii” to:

              Tulsi for Hawaiʻi
              PO Box 75561
              Kapolei, HI 96707
              Please include your full name, address, phone number, email address, occupation and employer in the envelope.

    3. fresno dan

      Edna M.
      April 10, 2017 at 7:29 am

      If the dems haven’t gotten to the same point (if not exceeded) as the repubs as being as obviously against the desires and interests of the vast majority of the voters, they are very, very close.
      War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength….liberal is conservative. Repubs are Dems.

    4. katiebird

      Are we going to be at war for the rest of our (each of us here) lives? I am so depressed about this.

      I don’t want to read about why and whether this or that bmbing is justified. I just want it to stop.

      1. Sandler

        Must be nice to be China. Economic leadership without the bombing. Government that at least has to pretend to look out for the common man. And golf is banned in government.

        Gotta love US imperialism. We don’t even get any free stuff out of it!

      2. perpetualWAR

        War is the only thing the U.S. exports. You take that away from us and where would our GDP be?

    5. Marco

      One of my favorite “comfort” films I like to play in the background when I’m busy is Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent”. The nihilist treasonous pacifist as standard device for tarnishing any kind of restraint whilst marching to war. So for the 2-dimensional dolts running Team Blue I guess Gabbard plays the part of Stephan Fisher…leader of the Peace Party? Or maybe his daughter?

    6. Deadl E Cheese

      Here’s the thing: liberals and liberalism were never against war as a first resort of foreign policy in the abstract. When liberals do their No True Scotsman when taken to task for their support for austerity or racial supremacy or social darwinism or whatever (i.e. Obama’s slavering over the Bowles-Simpson was NOT true liberalism and doesn’t represent the ideology) they ALWAYS stumble over war because even the Good, True Liberals like FDR and JFK and LBJ were unapologetic imperialists. The best they can do is point out that (as they are wont to do) the GOP are worse on that front. And when that fails, as it often tends to do when liberals have been in power for awhile, they make appeals to how the BPPSD and hippies and McGovern somehow redeemed the party in the 70s and that the Watergate Babies/Atari Democrats never… uh… LOOK, SQUIRREL!

      1. Jim Haygood

        The best they can do is point out that (as they are wont to do) the GOP are worse on that front.

        D party: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam
        R party: War Between the States, Gulf War I, Iraq, Afghanistan

        Let’s call it a tie. There is only one War Party.

      2. Olga

        Didn’t JFK get killed ‘cuz he wanted to turn away from bloody imperialism?
        How was that for a “message sent?”

      3. Whine Country

        It’s interesting to me that the Baby Boomer generation basically divided into two groups when it came to war. The regular mopes (like me) just weren’t ready to jump right into a full time commitment to draft deferment and ended up being drafted and sent straight to the front, while the more serious and enlightened made it their mission to avoid the draft and, discover and disclose the foulness of our efforts in Vietnam. Indeed they were the righteous among us and we were just misguided tools of the establishment. (More precisely we were called Baby Killers and spat upon) But as time went on, who among us rose to the positions of power that call the shots so to speak? If you guessed it was those elite Baby Boomers, you’d be correct. So what did we learn of their feelings about war? They don’t have to be righteous; they don’t have to be successful; and they don’t even have to ever end. They just have to be fought by anyone other themselves and their loved ones.

    7. Mac na Michomhairle

      Having been governed by Howard Dean in this state for too many years, and he is acting simply as a hitman for the Clintonites.” He was always really a liberal Republican–“Nothing that controls the corporations and the wealthy is good, but I don’t mind gays and blacks in themselves.”

      In other words, he fits in well with current mainstream Democrat and he is merely doing his job as a functionary. (He stated many times that he never voted for Bernie. His “outsider” campaign for President was all a marketing ploy for the youth vote.)

    8. cocomaan

      Not to mention that there’s a blatant inaccuracy right in the middle of the article. I’m seeing red.

      Gabbard, who sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, took a somewhat mysterious trip alone earlier this year to meet with Assad in Syria without alerting House Speaker Paul Ryan — a move that drew scorn from some of her House colleagues.

      Alone? With the attributed link not establishing that she was alone? It took minutes of googling to find that this is bullshit:

      The trip included visits to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017. Other members of the delegation included Dennis Kucinich’s wife, longtime peace advocates Elie and Bassam Khawam, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s husband, Abraham Williams.

      CNN is just awful. This is a smear piece with an agenda.

    9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “They” now doubt Trump’s sincerity.

      “It was a fake response.”

      If that doesn’t make them really mad, I don’t know what will.

    10. Oregoncharles

      Liberals, especially LBJ, were directly responsible for the Viet Nam War. Their social-welfare ideology was always linked to an imperialism.

    11. Will S.

      I, too, have read numerous comments and posts from people wondering why we warned the Russians about the strike. Many of them offer it as further “proof” of Trump being a Russkie stooge. Eventually I got sick of explaining that would be an act of war against the second-largest nuclear power on Earth, not least because they seem unfazed by that knowledge. Millennials (I say this as one of them) have become so accustomed to eternal war that they seem to think military action can be tossed around casually, without consequence.

      This was one response: “in case you havent noticed, RUSSIA DOESNT MATTER. they are just a bully nation. Putin makes big threats but he wont back them up”

      I don’t know which Russia they’ve been watching for the past millennium…

  5. fresno dan

    Prepare for Impact – This is the Beginning of the End for U.S. Empire Liberty Blitzkrieg (Chuck L)

    Four months later, the deep state got exactly what it wanted. Trump’s weaknesses have been identified and exploited, and he’s successfully been manipulated into neocon foreign policy like George W. Bush and Barack Obama before him. I’ve spent much of the past several months warning about exactly what happened last night, but the die is now cast. There’s no turning back from the path we’re on.

    And don’t give me this garbage about Trump playing “4D chess.” Trump’s a brilliant salesman, and that’s about it. There’s nothing special or superior about Donald Trump intellectually, and he’s one of the most unwise people to ever become President. There was a hope he meant what he said about non-interventionism during the campaign, but that hope should be entirely extinguished at this point. Trump is a very weak man desperately looking for praise from those he claims to hate.

    U.S. leadership is an absolute joke and will drive this entire country into a brick wall in the years ahead. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chucky Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, are you kidding me? They remind me of George Armstrong Custer, and we all know how that turned out.

    The media is even worse. In what Glenn Greenwald accurately called “one of the sickest things ever to appear on US television,” MSNBC’s Brian Williams gushed about the “beauty” of U.S. cruise missiles.
    First, I never ever expected to read a post sourced from Liberty Blitzkrieg on NC. But just as the post about O’Reilly getting sued – so much for FOX and family values (it was run by guys who made Fatty Arbuckle look like a choirboy) and was always all about the money, and often had some of the most profane stuff on TVee – finally some on the right are beginning to understand that patriotism is most often the refuge of scoundrels who really believe in US interventionism as a way to make a buck.
    It just shows that the past labels of “conservative” and “liberal” are meaningless, and I suspect were designed from the beginning to obfuscate and just make advertising for political donors easier.

    1. Roger Smith

      This is important as well…

      If anyone’s playing 4D chess it’s Russia. Russia is anti-fragile at this point, as has been proved by Putin’s survival in the face of economic sanctions, a collapsing ruble and a plunge in oil prices. Putin is still standing and arguably as powerful as ever. Not to mention the fact that the USSR completely disintegrated and collapsed within the past 30 years. They’ve been through a lot as a people. Meanwhile, the U.S. is extraordinarily fragile and weak by comparison, a distinction that will become quite obvious to us all in the years ahead. I don’t say this with any hint of glee or schadenfreude, I’m just stating the facts as I see them.

      I have made similar statements in discussions (specifically that we are lucky Putin is so much smarter or else we’d probably be melted to the pavement already) but this is the first article I have seen mention this (and in more detail)

      1. fresno dan

        Roger Smith
        April 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

        Just to beat a dead horse, we have 24/7 “news” but most people have never been so poorly informed.
        I remember years ago CNN started “Point Counter Point” (if I got the name right) and they had James Kilpatrick play the “conservative” and ?Ellen Goodman? play the “liberal.” Mindless posturing on stereotypical positions that demonstrated obstinacy.
        But guys like Michael Krieger are not afraid to ask, if the US has the most powerful military run by the greatest people EVAH, how is it we can’t defeat guys whose most advanced technology is Toyota pickup trucks OR maybe the market doesn’t supply objective critical analysis?

        1. craazyboy

          Then, just to make things worse, when we lose – the same way over and over again – we double down and try again. The media decides we need more and better propaganda…then next thing you know we are told the First Daughter caused $94 million in cruise missiles launched as a “measured response” to her seeing some unverified blonde, Arab, dead baby pics with combovers – against an “enemy” that already told US Intel that they were gonna strike a terrorist chemical weapons depot, and did what they said.

          Not sure what we do for an encore, but it can’t be good.

        2. Eureka Springs

          how is it we can’t defeat guys whose most advanced technology is Toyota pickup trucks

          In this case those guys are our guys. We are al isis-nusra-ciada. We’ve long funded, trained and armed them… why oh why doesn’t this sink in even among better informed people who peruse blogs and links like we have here?

          There are no Syrian rebels – they/we are invaders, nor is this a civil war.

          Just think of the many year old “Assad must go” line and the fact U.S. dropped many thousands of bombs in Syria last year alone…. But there’s no evidence any caused Assad’s shirts to so much as get a little dusty.

          1. fresno dan

            Eureka Springs
            April 10, 2017 at 8:55 am

            I meant to refer to mid east “terrorists” in general over the years, but yes, I agree – we started the “mujaheddin” in Afghanistan, overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government when it suited us, and who knows how much more that I am unaware of. And our involvement is NEVER to help mid east peace or prosperity – its always to oppose the commies and keep Israel and the Saudis propped up. What is in the “strategic” interest of the US blob and the interest of US citizens are two different things.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            “Assad must go”
            I’m sure the acute geniuses who formulated this hair-brained illegal anti-democratic idea have a complete plan for the country after he does go. Like they did for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Maybe we can just hand the keys straight over to the Iranians like we did in Iraq.
            I say we try regime change at home before we do it abroad again. And by “regime” I mean every last one of them from both parties. Tulsi can stay.

            1. wilroncanada

              Unfortunately, the chorus has been joined by Justin Poodl-eau, Canada’s Prime Minister, who had to take time out from his latest forays into ginning up the PR through his trip to “celebrate the 100th anniversary” of the battle of Vimy Ridge and the standard nonsensical idea that the battle was Canada’s “coming of age as a nation.”

              He said, between stops kissing babies (or their mothers) in Belgium and France, that Syria will never have peace until assad is gone.

          3. joe defiant

            I agree 100%. People seem to easily forget that destabilization and chaos is the goal. A unified well governed middle east would be HORRIBLE for the western elites. Between the natural resources, weapon sales, and aid money that is all handed over to U.S. corporations they make trillions and trillions on this chaos.

        3. BeliTsari

          More dancing strawmen than The Wizard of Oz! The recent link about Hill + Knowlton’s ‘bacci strategy (along with Rick Berman’s famous “win dirty” ) exemplify K Street lies; whether selling cancer, mesothelioma, EZ Credit & PayCheck Loans, Fracking, GMO/ CAFO food… or politicians? Go back and re-read some of David Brock’s trolls on the Liberal blogs, during then after the primaries. The same agitprop used against scary BernieBro™ alt-left millenials® reverted seamlessly to EnergyInDepth and talking points (same trolls, same ad hominem claptrap, same obfuscatory pleonasm & große Lüge?

        4. Eclair

          ” …. if the US has the most powerful military run by the greatest people EVAH, how is it we can’t defeat guys whose most advanced technology is Toyota pickup trucks …? ”

          Well, duh, we all learned that in American History in elementary school: the trained, well armed and disciplined British Army (the ‘Redcoats’) go up against the ragtag locals, dragged out off their farms and carrying pitchforks and hiding behind trees in cowardly fashion instead of lining up and marching forward to meet their deaths like real men. But the Redcoats are fighting on ‘foreign’ soil and the locals, well they are defending their own land. Actually, it’s land stolen from the original ‘locals,’ the Native Americans, but you get the idea.

          1. Lee

            As a side note: it has been suggested by Jared Dimond, Alfred Crosby and others that New World indigenous peoples would not have been militarily defeated without the devastating effects of novel pathogens upon their naive immune systems thus reducing their numbers by as much as 90%.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Guns had a lot to do with it, too – “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

              But yes, easy to beat up on sick people.

        5. Lee

          I’ve got an old Toyota pickup (1992) that just won’t quit. Don’t underestimate them ; )

      2. crittermom

        I admit to never having been as involved in politics as I was during and since this past election.
        I have signed countless petitions and made phone calls to those elected to represent us, but felt, for the most part, it fell upon deaf ears as the ‘powers that be’ marched on with their own agendas.

        I’m now wondering if we should be writing to Putin, instead, telling him that we, as citizens, don’t stand behind what the MSM is saying and see it for the propaganda it is?

        Maybe we could suggest Putin invite Trump to visit for a sit-down with him, and KEEP him?
        That’s beginning to make more sense to me in any attempt for world peace.

        1. Roger Smith

          I have to say that if the “Red Army” ever breaches these shores I would offer support/sign up. We’ve lost the ability to have any control over our government and I welcome any collaborative effort to fight against that. Not fighting for my country but for my country.

          How long before we are running to Russian soil, CIA hot on our heals, to loudly proclaim, “I defect!”?

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        There is this, and his parents were at the siege of Leningrad. This guy is not Yeltsin or some jackass of an admiral’s son who was allowed to crash planes because of an out of control defense budget.

        He isn’t reckless as judged by his dealings with Obama and has demonstrated cautioned, but U.S. thuggery won’t impress him.

        1. Olga

          Not only “were,” but almost died. His older brother did die in the siege. He was born seven yrs after the end of war. Almost like a consolation child… imagine the burden one would carry for the rest of one’s life. This is not a person who could ever take war lightly… or send others to fight like so many US chicken-hawks (or, chicken-doodoos).

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              “Ruthless”. I wonder what word would be used about Trump if Texas decided on armed secession. Same word that is used about about Assad regarding armed secession by Idlib. Shoe, meet other foot.

            2. Olga

              Considering that the US (and the Saudis) helped to stir the pot in Chechnya – what would you expect? The US PTB could not even handle Occupy in a peaceful manner – can you imagine what they would do with a violent insurgency (remember those dead kids in the Beslan school attack?). On the other hand, you should see Groznyi today – it has been completely rebuilt as if to relate the message – you can have chaos and destruction or prosperity… you chose. Chechnya wars were a US attempt to destabilize Russia’s soft under-belly…. It pays to know a bit of history before posting out-of-context comments.

        2. MoiAussie

          Thanks for that. I discovered from it that Putin and I drink the same beer – Radeberger. (Of course, I drink others too, as I’m sure does he.)

    2. Jim Haygood

      imperial decline is set to accelerate rapidly in the coming years — Michael Krieger [his bolding]

      This is the fundamental fact, domestically. I’m on record asserting that the Trump administration will not be able to exceed the feeble 1.8% average GDP growth during the Obama administration.

      How can it, when our Soviet-style, value-subtraction military empire is still sucking away the seed money for domestic investment? How can it, when our structurally dysfunctional health care system sucks up another 4 percent of GDP in inefficiency, compared to any other developed country?

      To answer these rhetorical questions, it can’t. A political duopoly that has been petrified for half a century can’t even end the failed War on Drugs, as opioid overdoses kill off its prime cannon fodder. How are the likes of McClownell, Ryan, Schumer and Pestilosi going to rein in the military empire and fix health care? You might as well expect Tanzanians to put a Tanzanian on the moon.

      Before the Trump administration ends, another recession will send a large swath of public pension plans into de facto insolvency. The trillions being wasted on the Military Intelligence Complex are needed to fix this. Instead, the braindead, decadent US empire is going to smack the wall in a spectacular, fiery wipeout.

      Enjoy Bubble III while it lasts, comrades. Cuz it’s the last game in town.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Name me one genuine progressive who is confronting the Intelligence Complex, Military or otherwise.

        (That is, not just speaking out against missile attacks…many other forms of sowing chaos, spreading misery).

        That’s the litmus test to ferret out fake progressives.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          People need to stop hair-splitting “policy” options and jawboning on political labels. There are only two groups: the protected 1% elite class and the global 99% they are extracting their blood and treasure from. “First they came for…” is happening now and they’re coming for you, time to get with the program: solidarity

  6. fresno dan

    Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes—Zero Are Critical AlterNet. Important. I know the MSM is far from an honest broker, but even I was stunned to see how uniform the war cheerleading has been.

    I would say it is analogous to how uniform the parties are – sure, American propaganda celebrates choice and pretends we have it, but on crucial issues (e.g., mortgage relief, prosecuting bankers, Davos man economics, endless war….) the parties are in lock step – only how they sling the bullsh*t is a little different.

    So of course the corporate media propaganda pushers aren’t going to challenge anybody with tough questions a 10 year old could think up: Gee, is the middle east BETTER since we got there???

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And we can’t just get out of the Middle East either.

      It’s like going to someone else’s house to party, to get drunk and smoke marijuana, trash the place, and claim, ‘Sure, we will just get out now.’

      It’s necessary you get, but not just that…stay and clean up, don’t just get out immediately.

      1. JTMcPhee

        No, get the F out of my house, and pay what it costs me to clean up and fix what you broke. I don’t want the crew that wrecked the place looting the pantry and closets while “making it good.” See US and Yeltsin.

  7. MoiAussie

    Second-Order Consequences of Self-Driving Vehicles

    Mish’s take on Benedict Evans’ technofantasies reveals a disappointing level of credulousness. He swallows the preposterous claim that autonomous vehicles will within a decade result in “near elimination” of auto accident deaths, and that a future with no accidents (not just no deaths) is achievable, at which point you can eliminate those costly safety features.

    The reality is that there will always be accidents, as not all causes are predictable, recognizable, or eliminable. An increasing number of these will be autonomous-vehicle-caused. Probably, as with the Montreal Convention for air-travel, legislation will be passed to restrict the compensation payable to accident victims, including passengers, cyclists, pedestrians and others, to keep the whole system economically viable. If not, lawyers will have a field day.

    1. fresno dan

      April 10, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Mish is a very good example of a guy who has some good skepticism about government bull when it comes to economic optimism or getting involved in saving the babies (i.e., war) but than has a massive blind spot in acknowledging the shortsightedness or venality of the private sector.

      He completely loses his critical thinking faculties when anything involves the private sector. I don’t know about where you live, but the lines on the roads I drive on are practically non existent, stop signs are sometime missing, stop lights malfunction OR various intersections and exchanges appear to have been designed by monkeys. So the private sector is gonna start doing road maintenance? The private sector is gonna lobby for higher road use taxes on themselves? How plausible is that – at a much more expensive rate to boot to make the road “legible” to self driving cars. IF there is competition of self driving cars, I can’t think of a better “tragedy of the commons” than road maintenance – and if there isn’t competition….. so much for the benefits of “competition.”

      Mish doesn’t think the government can do ANYTHING right. Does Mish really think we’re gonna have a intercontinental road system completely funded by the private sector? That the private sector can decide which roads to expand and which roads to discontinue?

      1. Nels Nelson

        Autonomous vehicle technology as currently being developed rely on Lidar and detailed 3D mapping. With this they do not need pavement striping, signs or lighting. Ford is currently testing cars in Arizona at night driving without lights in complete darkness. The engineers riding along wear night vision goggles.

        Mercedes Benz has developed detailed 3D maps of their Autobahn system and their current S -Class cars are able to run autonomously at speeds of up to 125 mph.

        1. MoiAussie

          3D mapping provides only static, background knowledge of the driving environment, not of its dynamic features. Lidar has its limitations, and cannot 100% reliably identify and interpret threats, obstacles, the intentions of wildlife, pedestrians and other drivers, etc. It can also be spoofed by bad actors. Driving on Autobahns is literally trivial compared to driving in busy built-up areas and on poor quality roads, as drivers know.

          More importantly, automated systems in open dynamic environments can never be fully debugged by testing, as there are too many possible scenarios that could occur to test. Even driverless trains confined to the rails have serious accidents.

          Finally, complex software systems fail in unpredictable ways, due to hardware problems, software faults, faulty upgrades, power glitches, interference, cosmic rays, … The elephants-in-the-room for autonomous vehocles are all the unknown unknowns and poor design decisions that will only become apparent after large-scale deployment.

          1. BeliTsari

            As hijackings, carjack kidnapping and hacked “suicides” proliferate, affluent folks will doubtless have their car’s systems modified with apps to overcome the trolley problem the old-fashioned way: by skin-color, attire, age and specious assumptions about who belongs where & when? How likely pedestrians are to have insurance, or equity worth suing over. OTR trucks will simply convoy at high speed, leaving a few feet between tractor and the preceding trailer. Automated livery cars will fight each other to steal other’s fares. If cars’ camera’s facial recognition systems spot folks with outstanding warrants, will they take bribes, or just drive to the precinct? Will they cut off stolen cars for a fee while on call?

          2. cyclist

            MoiAussie: I was looking forward to driving on the Autobahn last summer during my vacation, but it was a mild letdown. There seemed to be frequent lane closures for repairs, long periods of pouring rain where speed restrictions were in force, and lots of trucks in the right most lanes moving quite slowly. When it was good, it was good: German drivers are much more alert and disciplined than the typical US driver.

          3. craazyboy

            Anyone who has looked into what it takes to get 3D Lidar to make a detailed, fast updating image with a large and wide field of view would not embrace the technology without boatloads of skepticism. It’s like constructing a pair of human eyeballs, except they still need to function at night and in poor conditions like fog, rain, snowfall and be able to discern reflections from anything as being not real artifacts in the real image.

            GPS accuracy is dependent on signal strength = you can get it very accurate with techniques like differential GPS – but that requires roadside repeater stations everywhere. Then GPS maps have to be updated in real time otherwise the “auto-car” [I like that one – I’m stealing it] won’t be woke enough to know about transitory road hazards. Then it still needs to be augmented by other sensor systems to be woke enough to see the cars around it.

            The cost, maintenance, reliability, including failure while driving, should have been enough to kill the whole idea already. It’s never gonna get practical – no matter how much resources we throw at it.

        2. a different chris

          *I* can drive thru Arizona at night with the lights off and without googles. And I’m some old guy whose night vision went away a decade ago. And Arizona’s highways are well-marked so the auto-car (hey, I just made up a punny name!) can just have it’s own version of night vision googles. In fact, I expect the only reason they are even doing this is because the highways are empty in the middle of the night.

          I don’t know if it’s been fixed, but it wasn’t that long ago that we were driving PA Route 422, not exactly the middle of nowhere, and the GPS showed us running about 100yards parallel to the darn highway.

          Automate cities, don’t allow human driven cars in, that’s fine. Outside those controlled conditions it ain’t happening.

          Note: isn’t it illegal to drive at night with your lights off??!!?

        3. polecat

          So how are those autonomous vehicles going to behave after a sudden Arizonan monsoon downpour causes all the tarantulas in the area, who were previously under underground patiently waiting for prey, to come out scurrying all over the highway … being popped out of existence by those ‘self-driving’ wheels …. what then ??

          talk about a spontaneous and, I dare say, slippery event ….

          One can bet that the Muskovites,and there ilk, haven’t figured on a scenario such as that, and I can imagine many others !

        4. cocomaan

          Ford is marketing. We really need to learn the difference between the marketing and the science.

          Primary documents. Where are they?

          1. Nels Nelson

            I could address all of these comments but don’t want to bore you with a lot of technical details but I will provide you with the following which will hopefully address some of them.

            Intel recently acquired an Israel-based company called Mobileye for 15 billion dollars. Mobileye is developing a system called affordable advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Mobileye’s latest autonomous driving control units provide 360 degree awareness of road conditions and the locations of other road users.

            Each time a vehicle equipped with a Mobileye EyeQ vision unit passes through any route, it collects critical road data that precisely defines it – especially the position of landmarks. It then enables the system to localize the position of vehicles on the road continuously within 10cm (less than 4 inches) using multiple “triangulations’ in successive road scenes.

            Mobileye is teaching ever-more powerful ADAS processors to better negotiate the road, step-by-step, by using AI neural networks to optimize performance and machine-learning algorithms that learn by observing data instead of by programming.

            By the end of 2017, around 40 modified BMW 7 Series sedans will be roaming US and European roads as part of a global trial conducted by development partners Mobileye, BMW and Intel. This is the start of a five-year plan where in 2021thousands of autonomously driven vehicles will be driven on highways and in cities.

            Don’t get the impression that I don’t have reservations about all of this. I love the statement by Paul Virilio that “the invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck” and I love the show “Black Mirror” about the dark side of technology. But the auto industry is going all in with this and “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”.

            Our future may be like the the inhabitants of the starliner Axiom in the movie “WALL-E”. Riding around on autonomous vehicles staring into computer screens while talking to others.

            As they say, “art imitates life”.

            1. human

              it collects critical road data that precisely defines it – especially the position of landmarks.

              This is bullshit. What about a tree that is cut down, grown taller? Curb cut added, changed, or removed? Building remodeled? Driveway/entrance moved? Replaced traffic control devices? Road construction? A dropped doll in the street? The list is endless. Unless and until there is absolute correlation between the software and current road conditions, this is pie-in-sky. Won’t happen in my life time and I plan on living another 20/30 years, depending on my access to health care.

            2. craazyboy

              The MobileEye system doesn’t need any additional infrastructure then, since it is my all seeing, all knowing, decision maker, AI pair of depth perception eyeballs. (oK, just one and they rotate it to paint a 360 degree, holographic image – and no problems with battlefield smoke and haze like we had in the old days at Hughes Aircraft)

              I’ll have to watch that one. It is possible Intel is run by either the dumbest people on the planet, or the smartest. Dunno which, but I’m in a charitable mood today.

              I understand this is brand new stuff, but since it needs no additional infrastructure, why don’t we have [military] robots running around with it, or maybe self driving tricycles tooling around safely (at shopping malls?) at 5mph?

            3. polecat

              As they say, “art imitates life”

              … or we could have “Idiocracy” …
              complete with goats being herded thru a yuuuge disheveled CostCo

              … Anyone up for a …’Starbucks’ …….. family style ….
              …… before we go see the BigASS Monster Truck Show ?? ‘;[

            4. MoiAussie

              It’s interesting to consider why Intel acquired Mobileye. Intel has no interest in actually making autonomous vehicles. What Intel wants is the data that those vehicles generate, the real-time feeds from each vehicle that, when combined and integrated with already held data, constitute an enormously valuable asset that can be sold to a huge range of subscribers. Think goggle street-view on steroids in real-time, but it’s not just images, it’s data digitised and classified in a way that computers can understand and use as a basis for making decisions. Faces recognised, etc., nothing masked, if you pay for that.

              The size of the market for such data cannot be easily quantified, but government and law enforcement would be big users. And to close the circle, autonomous vehicle owners will find that their vehicles function poorly unless they pay substantial fees to subscribe to Intel’s premium auto data services. Kind of like continuous tolling, on any road. As with cell phones, where the handset cost can be subsidised by the massive revenues that flow from its use, autonomous vehicles can be made cheaper to buy/lease by making them more expensive to run.

      2. visitor

        Shedlock’s and Evans’ pronouncements on the advent of autonomous vehicles are wildly optimistic. There are too many technical and economic barriers to overcome, so that a genuinely fully autonomous vehicle under traffic conditions generally similar to the current ones remains wholly unrealistic in the foreseeable future.

        Your point about road upkeep is highly relevant — and it is just one set of the difficulties that autonomous vehicles must cope with. Other ones: weather (fog, rain, snow), general climatic conditions (very hot, resp. very cold regions), adverse events (sand storms, rain storms, industrial spillage), or simply time of day (night vs. day). All of those throw different types of sensors (whether RADAR, LIDAR, IR, light camera) off balance in different ways. That is why one needs to have all of those sensors active simultaneously — plus other ones such as GPS receivers and individual beacons — for an autonomous vehicle to function about satisfactorily.

        Since autonomous vehicles require near-pristine, undisturbed, no-surprises transportation routes to operate, I strongly suspect that the following will happen: something like a three-classes society for roads.

        1) Select roads and highways will be reserved for fully automatic vehicles — and nothing else. They will be endowed with all the required infrastructural elements (dense wireless communication network, perfect road markings, bright lighting), will be kept permanently ship-shape, will be gated so that only autonomous vehicles can enter them, and fully enclosed so that nothing (human being, animal or other machine) can trespass.

        The vast majority of public funding for roads will be allocated to build them or upgrade existing roads to that effect, and to maintain them.

        2) A large number of ways, mainly major ones, will be reserved for autonomous vehicles (that can possibly gracefully revert to manual control) and newer cars that are endowed with beacons and automatic collision avoidance features. They will be gated, so that other kinds of vehicles cannot enter that network.

        3) Every other road will allow any kind of vehicle — including bikes, horse carriages, and old cars devoid of any electronics. Of course, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades will be nearly inexistent for those roads. Whatever taxes and tolls (since once an infrastructure is gated, tolls can be levied through it) are paid by the public, they will go towards maintaining the expensive infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.

        In a sense, it will a kind of modern enclosure movement: the most essential roads and highways largely built thanks to the taxpayers will be withdrawn from public use, reserved to those new, AI-driven cars and trucks, and serve to facilitate their operation — since no matter how much IT they throw at it, the likes of Google, Tesla and Uber will not be able to make them work safely and economically in normal, often chaotic traffic conditions. Those who cannot afford the “disruptive” world of automatic cars will have been dispossessed from the infrastructure they helped build.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Could it be, as the Elites wall themselves off and the anomic hordes become increasingly restive, that them rich folks begin to present an ever more target-rich environment? Especially since the Elites won’t be likely to be able to wall off the technological knowledge of dispossessed and disaffected people, particularly the young folks steeped deeply in the bitter tea of tech in all its manifold, wondrous, mortifying aspects?

          1. Tom_Doak

            Could it be that one purpose of self-driving cars is to keep the riffraff safely away from the Elites?

            I’d never thought of that before.

        2. BeliTsari

          Note the paucity of update stories as to how Uber’s autonomous Fords did this “winter” on the tortuous, icy cobble, flag and just plain stoned streets of Pittsburgh? CMU has been playing with self-driving vehicles for three decades. I wonder how you (and all yunz jagoffs in ancient trucks) stop when they got confused & the drowsy attendants panicked on those 17% grades. I imagine we’ll all be paying, one way or another, for commercial fleet’s to dispense with meat- based drivers & the top 20% in their i8s, Chinese Volvos & Teslas? Lawyers are gonna love it.

          1. a different chris

            haha I don’t know why they picked “Pictsberg”… not only is there a much beloved brick street with the trolley tracks to nowhere still in it, apparently there are wood block streets too!

            1. BeliTsari

              I kinda figured these were exactly why they chose Pixboig. Well, that gobbling up all CMU’s folks, the chance to try-out CNG micro-turbine hybrids. And of course… as with the motion picture industry… nobody even notices driverless cars abruptly flying through air, and apparently nobody’s figured out that you can carjack rich folks by simply walking out in front of them with an Ingram in each hand, an’at? Well that, the Polish food & six foot tall Lithuanian Shiksas? Since those hippy kids stole the 1700 series PCC car in 1969 were mostly CMU engineers, I wonder if anybody’s hacked any of the fords as a remote controlled drone yet, y’know for a beer run, an’at? Hang on slick, I’m like awaiting moderation an’at, fer writin’ Pixboigese!

      3. Octopii

        Mish has been very wrong for a very long time. I frankly can’t understand why some people think he remains relevant.

        1. reslez

          How about this exchange:

          Richard Broberg said: April 9, 2017 11:56:38 at 11:56 AM
          Hackers will have a field day with these self driving cars.

          Mish said: April 9, 2017 2:29:54 at 2:29 PM
          rather doubt it


      4. robnume

        Yes, I believe, based on following Mish for 10+ years, that what you stated is exactly what he believes.
        Mish has generally been good in the past about disclosing any positions/stakes he has in promoting various of his viewpoints over the years. But I have not personally seen him do so when it comes to driving automation – which does not mean that he has not made such a disclosure, merely that I have not seen one.
        That said, I am also confused by his over the top support of automated driving when he seems to be on the same page with most of us here at NC. Not that Mish, or anyone else, is not allowed to have opinions of their own. I believe we all have a right to say what we believe to be true.
        Other than citing various automated driving companies positions, which is after all talking your own book, I can find no real science to back up the claim that automated driving algorithms are really up to speed the way Mish claims that they are.

        1. reslez

          I started reading his blog during the housing bubble so I can speak to his track record, which is mixed. (He’s decent at spotting trends, but terrible when it comes to root causes or productive recommendations.) From what I’ve observed Mish has some sort of mental bias in favor of anything that destroys jobs. The worse things get the more Mish likes it.

          Notice how he loves to talk about how many truck driver jobs will be destroyed whenever the topic comes up. I don’t know why. Just my observation.

    2. human


      How many $’s did we just (literally) blow up in Syria? Not to mention the cost of R & D plus transportation, maintenance, deployment, command control, and don’t forget security. $200M give or take? All for what appears to have been a face saving measure (and an opportunity to test ordinance in a real life situation).

      1. MoiAussie

        Think of it as a “valuable live-fire training exercise” that also served to dispose of some ordnance approaching its use-by date. The $$ had already been wasted and could not be unspent. Besides, the first rule of administration is (over)spend your budget, lest it be cut.

  8. Edna M.

    Re: “Is US Policy to Prolong the Syrian War?” is the best explanation I’ve read so far on what the US is doing is Syria. I think the explanation would also suggest that the Russians’ efforts are futile. As soon it looks like their efforts are achieving success, the US comes up with a pretext to strike and keep the war going.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The money quote:

      “This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York.

      “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

      An MSM article a couple of days ago referred to the Syrian violence as “turmoil near Israel’s northern border” — conveniently obliterating the fact that since Israel’s occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights was condemned by UN Resolution 497 as “null and void,” Israel doesn’t even HAVE a recognized northern border (or eastern border either, but’s that’s another story).

      Israel is our misfortune.

      1. fresno dan

        Jim Haygood
        April 10, 2017 at 9:02 am

        That is a greatly relevant quote and a point that as you note should never be forgotten.

      2. Carolinian

        Indeed. It has always been Israeli policy to refuse to declare what their national borders even are–sort of the same ambiguity they apply to their nukes.

    2. MoiAussie

      Quite. Clearly the US, UK, Nato, Israel, Turkey and the Saudis don’t want an independent Syria, preferring variously a puppet regime, chaos, or dismemberment, but their strikes aren’t (yet) significant, rather it’s the constant flow of weaponry, intelligence, advisors and cash to jihadis and other opposition that is prolonging the conflict. I doubt they have ever shown any willingness to let Assad get up of the mat, as suggested. The message We will never let you win is very clear. The Russian and Iranian efforts are all that has prevented another Libya, and I think they are more determined than imagined, as that kind of outcome has existential consequences for them as well.
      A line in the sand, perhaps.

      1. robnume

        Israel will not stop until they “occupy” the entire M.E. And the U.S. will not stop until Israel has what it wants. And they and the EU want a LNG pipeline running through Turkey to the EU in order to bypass the Russians who supply most of the LNG to the EU at present.
        And Trump, via Kushner and co. is falling for this imperialist nonsense. The dumbest thing Trump has done is to let that shill of a son in law into the White House.
        Kushner is a “yuge” supporter of the globalist/technocrat oligarchy which has been running Washington for decades now.
        And another, very petty thing, I know, but has anyone noticed that Kushner appears to be really into plucking his eyebrows? I know some guys who have totally out of whack unruliness in that area and may do a little grooming here and there but Kushner has the eyebrows of a 1930’s female movie-star.
        Yes, it’s petty of me to notice and post about something so trivial. Color me a nit-picker.

  9. Teddy

    Re: Upgrading humans
    This article, even though unusually critical of transhumanism, seems to make the same mistake as every other futuristic prediction – it fails to take into account the political dimension of a game-breaking innovation, assuming that everything else would stay ceteris paribus, so to speak. There has been an organization attempting to create ubermenschen, or superhumans, and it didn’t fail on merit of its designs – it failed because its opponents had more soldiers and arms. The plan to either codify social inequality into biology itself, or to abolish human race in its entirety, could meet a violent resistance. Do the ubermenschen still bleed? Do they cease to function when shot in the back of their heads? If so, the road to “post-humanity” may be a lot more bumpy than Silicon Valley would like.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it innovation, much less ‘game breaking?’

      If the Uebermenschen failed, they were not ubermenschen, more soldiers or not (Xanders of Macedon had fewer). The untermenschen ask: How do you know you are ueber? Why do you want, or who gives you the right, to abolish us?

      1. Teddy

        If technologies suggested by transhumanists would actually come into existence, then yes, they would certainly be game-breaking innovations. And ubermenschen, whatever they may be, can still lose – just as technologically and numerically superior armies can lose to less advanced opponents (see US military history post after WWII), artificially enhanced posthumans could be defeated by actual people. And don’t forget the necessary time window required to create them – after all, Third Reich didn’t actually breed the Aryan master race of their dreams, because they had lost the war first.

        As to who gives the right: might makes right, always. Who gave them the right to create contemporary world? They just didn’t ask and we assumed they didn’t need to.

    2. Musicismath

      Missed this comment when I made mine below. Totally agree with you on the political ramifications of this.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You think the Uebermenschen lost because they had fewer soldiers and arms (and no fuel)?

    3. Expat

      Upgrade Humanity? Click link below and check the box to agree to all the terms and conditions.

      Well, frankly, the totally fucked up state of the world is now clear to me. We are just Beta! This new upgrade will get rid of all the bugs and bring about paradise on Earth. Just like Windows with every new upgrade!

    4. flora

      This seems an appropriate reference. ;)

      “Plastic Fantastic Lover”

      “Her neon mouth with the blinkers-off smile
      Nothing but an electric sign
      You could say she has an individual style
      She’s part of a colorful time

      Secrecy of lady-chrome-covered clothes
      You wear cause you have no other
      But I suppose no one knows
      You’re my plastic fantastic lover

      Her rattlin’ cough never shuts off
      Is nothin’ but a used machine
      Her aluminum finish, slightly diminished
      Is the best I ever have seen

      Cosmetic baby plugged into me
      I’d never ever find another
      I realize no one’s wise
      To my plastic fantastic lover

      The electrical dust is starting to rust
      Her trapezoid thermometer taste
      All the red tape is mechanical rape
      Of the TV program waste

      Data control and IBM
      Science is mankind’s brother
      But all I see is drainin’ me
      On my plastic fantastic lover ”

      -Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow, 1967

      1. Oregoncharles

        Sheesh. I’d never seen the words before, and didn’t understand them from the song, no matter how many times I heard it. And no wonder.

        Thank you, I guess. One puzzle solved.

  10. MoiAussie

    How upgrading humans will become the next billion-dollar industry
    More technofantasy of the most unconvincing variety, wrapped up in utter drivel from the Marketwatch reporter.

    For all of humanity’s scientific, economic and artistic achievements, we have neglected this ultimate self-improvement project, Harari said. Our bodies and brains, after all, still run on the same hardware and software that evolved some 200,000 years ago.

    Alphabet’s Google already has a unit devoted to overcoming death, Harari noted. And who can doubt that Apple will want to pick from this new tree of knowledge, as well, or that after conquering self-driving cars Uber, in spite of the antics of its CEO, will want to build an Übermensch? […]

    As new technologies yield humans with much longer battery lives, killer apps and godlike superpowers, within the next six decades, if Harari is right, even the finest human specimens of 2017 will in hindsight seem like flip phones.

    At the same time, these superhumans will have less and less to do, Harari, said, because robots and artificial intelligence will perform more and more of the jobs with which obsolete humans used to be tasked. So what will these future humans do all day? […]

    “The only serious answer I can give is they will play computer games,” Harari said. “Immersive, 3D virtual-reality games that will be far more fun and more exciting than anything in real life.”

    What is it these people don’t get about the complete inappropriateness of the hardware/software analogy to describe the extraordinary complexity of humans, our need for healthy interactions with each other to remain sane, and our total dependence on a benign natural world for survival?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There will always be something for the mind to do; it won’t be less and less. The human mind, unless cured (not by upgrading), is addicted to doing something.

      The cure is meditation…we start doing less and less now, with the brain we have.

      With the mind, it’s not ‘something is better than nothing,’ but ‘nothing is better than something.’

    2. visitor

      Alternatively, let us take them at their own words and make some observations.

      Our bodies and brains, after all, still run on the same hardware and software that evolved some 200,000 years ago.

      Factually wrong. We know that human physiology has evolved in the past 200000 years, especially rapidly in the past 10000 years; typical examples: ability to digest lactose, partial immunity against malaria, and the problem of wisdom teeth. As for brains, it seems they have been shrinking in the past 10000 years as well. Our machinery is getting updated permanently.

      the finest human specimens of 2017 will in hindsight seem like flip phones.

      If the future superhuman will be like a smartphone, then he will also exhibit the same characteristic compared to older feature phones: a much, much higher metabolism. I.e., he will need to consume vastly more calories — just like smartphones suck battery dry 3 to 10 times faster than mobile phones of just 10 years ago. We already know we shall soon run into problems because of overpopulation, climate changes and the loss of fertile soil. How are we going to pull it off with superhuman organisms consuming, say, 5 times more food?

      For the first time in history it will be possible to translate economic inequality into biological inequality

      Currently, reasonably wealthy citizens of the First World can afford organ transplants extracted from poor people from Third-World countries. It allows them to extend their life span or re-beef their decaying organism at the detriment of those selling their organs. Economic inequality and biological inequality are already inextricably tied. It is a present, not a future condition.

      “This is actually not completely new — religion is in a sense a virtual-reality game. There are a set of quite arbitrary laws, you have to gain points, and if you gain enough points in this life you get to go on to the next level.”

      Religions are not games, but social constructs that are intended to help people and societies live in the present reality in an ordered way by providing them a set of interlocking rules and concepts to make some kind of sense of that unsettling experience called existence.

      Those statements by Mr. Harari are just inane.

      I was always irritated by Ray Kurzweil and his “singularity” predictions. It seems we have now to contend with a whole menagerie of cyborg enthusiasts too.

      1. polecat

        I can hardly wait for the Cyberdine Systematics IPO make it’s appearance on the Stock Exchange any day now ………


      2. robnume

        One of the things i like best about the comments section here at NC and the articles posted by the contributors here, especially the animals who cross-cuddle and rely on one another for comfort in the absence of one of their own species, is that we all seem to recognize that being human doesn’t mean that we are not of the animal world but rather the opposite.
        Being human means that we need face to face interaction with all beings but mostly with one another; we wouldn’t, most of us, have animals as pets for companions if we didn’t understand that.
        I started watching “Dark Net” on Showtime last year and one of the first episodes was about how Sweden’s citizens are “chipping” themselves at, what seems to me to be, an alarming rate. I like that the show, produced by Vocativ, doesn’t make judgement calls but simply shows you what’s going on and then allows you to make up your own mind.
        Saw an article here at NC recently on that very theme.
        Humans are not machines we are animals and we will all die someday.
        I think the race to AI and “upgrading humans” is really a futile quest for immortality.
        It’s the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

        1. MoiAussie

          On that Swedish chipping, perhaps one should laud them for demonstrating their solidarity with pets – what they are doing to themselves is exactly what the vet did to my cats.

  11. Pat

    Nothing more depressing than seeing a ‘heartwarming’ interview and report on a man who in Syria who has lost and lost and then lost more of his family in the latest chemical attack by Syria’s despicable Assad, this one on his second wedding anniversary on CBS This Morning (think it might have been a rerun from News or Sixty Minutes) followed by an interview with the former ambassador to Syria who left due to security concerns but resigned because Obama just wouldn’t do enough. IOW, he had two reasons for resigning as Ambassador but confused them by making physically leaving Syria different. The bull shit being spewed was overwhelming. And anyone watching this would never for a moment know that the rebels had been using chemical weapons. It was ALL Assad. And of course not one voice of sanity or truth.

    I remember the run up to the Iraq war. This one is even more frightening. There is even less pushback on the selected narrative and it has more holes than the Hussein/Terrorist/WMD scenario. We are well and truly *family blog*.

  12. dontknowitall

    My read of the situation with Trump…

    Trump offered a Syria strike to the neocons at the first opportunity while also giving a heads up to Russia (and also the Chinese who have observers in Syria) and by implication to Syria thus managing to obliterate an empty airfield and a few obsolete fighters but also (temporarily) obliterating the neocon aggressiveness towards him. This is not 11D or even 4D strategy, not even close. Russia is not fooled but that was not the intention it seems. You don’t do this if your objective is war as compared to giving business to military contractors and mollify the imperialist faction of the money party. In Syria, the tactical situation continues to improve on the ground in the Assad direction so in practical terms the trends have not changed. Trump bought himself some operating space in DC at the cost of some political capital with his base. Assad will be the bad guy of the nightly news for a while longer but he’s been there before.

    Meanwhile Trump met Xi and the reporting on what went on in a meeting involving the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world today is opaque to be charitable so we may be focussing on the wrong events. Let’s hope we don’t hear that TPP is back on the menu with a side helping of China.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The flaw is the Russian acceptance. Putin is not a dictator. He’s popular, but his popularity is based on a vaguely nationalist, anti-Yeltsin, with the occasional decent government reform. Given U.S. behavior in recent years, not reacting isn’t viable. Putin knows this. He’s not stupid.

      TPP is an anti-Chinese trade agreement. The whole point was it cut the Chinese out of these markets. Why would TPP be back on with the Chinese? Obama’s pivot to Asia wasn’t just words.

      1. dontknowitall

        “Why would TPP be back on with the Chinese? Obama’s pivot to Asia wasn’t just words.”

        Good question. The major reason I worry about it is because after Trump dumped TPP, the dumped partners got together and have been talking about bringing China in a remodeled TPP and I mean specifically this kind of news from a couple of months ago:

        “The Australian government will push ahead for a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal without the United States and is open to Indonesia, China and others seeking to join the agreement.”

        Of course this news might be Australian neoliberal pie in the sky with the intention of shaming the US back into TPP and I agree Obama’s pivot to Asia was a real policy change but his pivot is not Trump’s pivot. In other words I think they see China differently.

      2. dontknowitall

        NotTimothyGeithner, I forgot to address your comment regarding Putin…

        I agree Trump would have to expect Russian acceptance of the new circumstances and that is far from certain specially if the US keeps pressing. As far as Putin goes he has very strong support at home due to fairly competent management of the economy in the face of sanctions and hard nosed management the defense complex so he has some capital he can play with but, and this is a big but, I believe the Russian government was counting on a better relationship with Trump/US than it got and it cost them a bit in credibility at home because they allowed it to become common wisdom at home that the bad relations were at an end and it didn’t happen at all. That hand of friendship is now being offered to China instead. The disappointment was palpable.

        I think the Russian government originally planned for much worse from President Hillary when they went into Syria and this current situation is comparatively a vacation. If you remember several months ago, before our election, the Russian air force started equipping their fighters in Syria with air-to-air missiles something they were not doing initially. I assume that strategically speaking they will revert to an earlier posture similar to what they had planned with the expectation of a President Hillary.

        On one hand, in terms of international relations, Putin’s government is now somewhat less credible in his own country but still very strong in political capital. I think that’s why we now see the opposition taking to the streets and political opponents suiciding. On the other hand, internationally, the unfounded belief engendered by the hapless Dems that Putin cooked the American presidential election has given him an underserved international stature and gravitas unknown previously of a Russian leader. I imagine he might play for time as Trump could run into some other trouble domestically or internationally.

        I disagree Putin’s popularity is based on vague nationalism. The Russian nationalistic strain is deep and strong and he plunges and wades into it regularly, nothing vague or timid about it. Russians love their rodina and why not? Of the generation of the millions of Russian children that were at 18 at the beginning of WWII none are reported to have survived to the end of the war. No other country in the world has paid as much for the ground they stand on as the Russians.

        1. Olga

          Many Russians who could moved away in the 1990s – people who lived through WWII said they could not abide Yeltsin. His policies helped destroy Russia (courtesy of a multitude of US “advisors” and the meddling in the 1996 elections). Putin has rebuilt Russia – and I hear from many people that things are so much better now. Perhaps not great – but it is all relative (and depending on one’s starting point). Plus P. is “one of them” – his support is genuine, even though folks forever grumble about the government (but where is this not the case?).

          1. Ivy

            Those US advisors included some of Harvard’s finest. The only positive result for many after the advising engagement was the departure of Larry Summers from that administration, in part from overseeing and defending a debacle.

            1. Olga

              None of the above (from what I can tell, although personally, I think benevolent dictatorship is the best form of government – since, clearly, democracy without educated and engaged populace does not work all that well). If one knows anything about the current Russian govt. power structure – dictatorship is just not possible. Too many differing interests, groups, and power struggles. Mr. P has to seek some consensus on most (if not all) issues. Russia has its own MIC, although I imagine its motivation is a bit different from that of the US (which seems to be purely profit). Believe it or not – to me he appears exceedingly rational – and about the best leader that US can hope for…

      3. tony

        Putin’s popularity is based on far more concrete things. When he first came into power, Russia was a disaster being looted by foreign power, nothing worked and the streets were not safe. Under Putin the country has become stable, there has been huge income growth, infant mortality has halved, streets are mostly safe, Russia has some control over its resources and there have been defensive victories in Chechnya and Ukraine.

        This combined with the fact that the US is obviously pushing for war and Putin has been measured and competent, something that is an existential question for Russia, makes him the obvious choice.

        Putin can refrain from reacting. Russians are not like Americans and are not used to being a hundred times stronger than their counterparty, so they realize that sometimes you can let things go. Russia took no action against Turkey previously, and that was a far bigger deal.

        1. UserFriendly

          I’ve been crossing my fingers that Trump’s call to warn Russia was him saying this is just to end the BS Russia hacked the election story that won’t die and to give the metaphorical finger to Obama, and got Putin to agree to go ahead and respond with anything shy of military escalation to make the press buy it.

          Highly unlikely but not impossible.

    2. m

      Also the emboldened moderate rebels/isis/al nusra come out of the shadows to gain ground putting themselves in harms way. Or just wishful thinking?

    3. Jim Haygood

      Assad will be the bad guy of the nightly news for a while longer but he’s been there before.

      Assad, Saddam: but for an ‘m’, they’re practically anagrams.

      Half of Kongress Klowns think they’re the same guy, or at least brothers.

  13. fresno dan

    The Syria Catastrophe n + 1

    Again and again, countries across and outside the Middle East have decided that escalating the war by military means is justified by whatever little sliver of national interest they feel is at stake. The US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, China, France, and Britain have all pumped military resources into the conflict, increasing not only the war’s capacity for destructive violence but also its duration. To the extent that it needed to take place at all, it should have been a civil war fought by two sides with limited military resources. Instead, it has turned into a series of extravagantly funded proxy wars across two or three separate axes, none of which has any organic connection to the questions of regime tolerance for political assembly and speech that prompted the conflict in the first place.

    IMHO a great article.
    Hard for me not to conclude this is much like WWI, where alliances and outsiders took what should have been a small, contained war and turned it into a world war.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And don’t forget that WW I also grew due to “Krupp-pumping,” the busy, innovative, creative, original MIC that corporately and supra-nationally and very profitably sold weapons to all sides, and Really Big Guns to what might be labeled the Kaiser’s armies but as with the current Imperial war machine, was not exactly subject to the Kaiser’s control… or anyone’s for that matter — just a marvelous confluence of incentives and interests that led to triumphal (Trumphal?) headlines in newspapers in Paris and Berlin, “IT’S WAR!” to the ecstatic cheering of well-primed, so-very-human churls…

      1. Musicismath

        Yeah, there’s been a movement in First World War studies lately away from trying to determine the “why” of August 1914 to simply describing the “how.” Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers” (2012) is a great example of this. I like this trend because it means we can widen the field of focus to take in things like imperialism and the arms industry once more — contexts until recently declared inadmissible because they supposedly didn’t bear on the narrow question of war guilt and German dastardliness.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you.

          I agree and found the book fascinating.

          With regard to JTM and you mentioning Krupp / the arms industry, in the UK, we had Vickers, Ferranti, Lee Enfield etc.

        2. JTMcPhee

          And some may have cavils about the works of Barbara Tuchman, because “after all, she was not an official historian,” but let me put in a plug for her works, They cover a lot of the context being discussed — including the who, what, and how, as well as the where, when and why: “The Proud Tower,” “The Guns of August,” and “The Zimmerman Telegram,” as well as (looking back and forward both) “The March of Folly.”

          Interesting depiction of the means and processes by which the churls of Prussia and Paris could be brought to patriotic raptures by the full-page headlines in the newspapers on all sides, “IT”S WAR!”

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            Just read The Guns of August last summer– what a magnificent book! And so wonderfully written– I scampered through it in a couple of days.

          2. Will S.

            I’m a great fan of Tuchman, personally. A Distant Mirror was my first exposure to her in my teens and it really opened up my lifelong fascination with history.

        3. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

          Check out Geoffrey Wawro’s “A Mad Catastophe” about the Austro-Hungarian empire and their part it the start of The Great War.

    2. Ancient 1

      RE: The Syria Catastrophe n + 1

      Please read the conclusions of the article as it describes how much the MIC is costing this nation and the effects on the citizen’s lives. We ordinary people are trapped in a contrived maze with no exit other than revolution.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Just where do we ‘progress’ from ‘huggable and interactive’ robots?

    And ‘progress’ we must, because we are humans…

    1. Brian

      to the point Beef; I have read a thousand sci fi stories since the 60’s and I have never read any good robot story except Asimov’s final books about Daneel. Robots have always destroyed societies, and many of the early authors remembered the industrial revolution and how it began the destruction for labor, environment, monetary policy, et al. The proof of this destruction is spattered across the pages of history. At the same time robots make cars and displace humans, they are trying to make soldiers of them to kill humans. If the MIC can’t find human drone pilots, they will replace them with bots. They will turn those bots on any human getting in their way, just as they do now.
      If I have missed the wonderful robot stories, don’t hesitate to help me out folks. Would any of us really choose to be redundant to the machine?

      1. UserFriendly

        I suppose that would be why they came out with Wall-E. To soften robots image and make anyone with a brain who is forced to watch that drivel want to pry their eyes out with a fork.

        I’d gladly sit through the Cylon destruction of the worlds and attempted extermination of the human race though… as long as it doesn’t happen during this administration. A President DeVos would easily be the worst part of that scenario.

      2. IanC

        The Culture series by iain m banks. Only one i could think of outside isaac asimovs universe. Maybe they will end up like futurama’s Bender and co. If we can program religion, narrow minded personal robotic deviances and general narrow minded frustrations and exploitations in their personalities, who knows?

      3. Mel

        The stories in Stanislaw Lem’s Cyberiad. Some of them read rather like ordinary stories, except that the characters all happen to be robots. Other books have good stories about the related theme of human re-invention.

        1. sid_finster

          “Imaginary Magnitudes” by Łem is one of the better novels I have ever read, although it could be said to have neither characters nor plot in the usual sense.

    2. polecat

      Arial, Little Mermaid, Prince Charming ….. and for all you BDSM fanatics, Cruella deVille sex bots (with the appropriate proprietary internet-of shit-connectivity) fresh off the assembly line in # ….@….. !

      The seven Dwarves …. Don’t EVEN go there !

      Yeah ….. go ahead and wish upon a star !

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Write “I’m a male chauvinist” 1,000 times over there, and let that be a lesson.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I am male, have been married three times, and I have said, and repeatedly say, “Yes, dear!” many times a day. I know from observation that I am scarcely alone in this. And that women also control many relationships (though there’s abuse and dominance aplenty in Mars-Venus interactions, and I’ve observed it in several LGBT relationships too). The phrase is gender-neutral, to an unbiased observer…

          “A happy wife makes a happy life.”

    3. JTMcPhee

      Let’s get real: seems to me the most likely and significant use of cuddly, huggable, interactive bots will be as “companions” and sex objects/toys and ego boosts, for a lot of inadequate (as measured by my very oridinary-person standards, rooted mostly in the Golden Rule) rich folks.

      I’ve never looked, but I assume there already a host of such fetish objects, mostly lacking the faux-human-interactive component that the backers and longers for this neo-techno level of surrogacy are aiming at. But of course, as several true believers in infinite growth and perfectibility who have posted here recently, declaiming the enormous, unbounded wondrous virtues of Fully Free Tech, have insisted, it’s inevitable, although only for those with the wealth to Make It So for themselves. Lots of speculation in sci-fi about where all this leads — the more humane being Azimov’s robotic future, 4 laws and all, and enough dystopian visions to choke Deep Throat…

      Will the ability to synthesize whole organisms lead to the ability to synthesize organisms in perpetual orgasm? What I read about the Elites and their insatiable appetites for MORE and BIGGER and INTENSER everything, all pretty much self-centered about self-pleasing, makes me wonder what kind of grafting to the basic human root stock will have to be done to satisfy the appetites that are apparently wound into the ol’ limbic system.

      Real humans who are “gifted” with genetic twitches that leave them in that state, of constant orgasm, seem to not do so very well in living long and happy lives. Of course there are the psychopaths and sadists for whom the capacity to do harm and take pleasure from it is also apparently infinite…

      But we should all be happy that everything will soon be everythig, that anyone can have whatever their heart’s desire and wealth afford them, whether it’s a third eye or Darth Maul’s skin tones and horns and preternatural reflexes or, as several young women who have undergone all kinds of surgery, removal of ribs and breaking of legs to straighten them and extreme dieting and carving up their faces, to get to where they look like a protoplasmic Barbie Doll (TM). Lots of movies like “Westworld” and “Robocop” give food for thought about what might be in that random-walk future…

      When everything can be everything, nothing is anything.

      And it all gets down to that silly question, about what kind of outcomes “we” want from “our” political economy. And are willing to make happen.

      1. robnume

        These fellas are taking Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” to the nth degree!
        It’s all very disconcerting.

  15. fresno dan


    At the end of the day, for all the yammering about the constitution and FREEDOM, and freedom of speech, no will who instigated or implemented this assault on freedom will be convicted of any crime. No one will even be prosecuted. No real investigation with consequences will occur. No one will be fired. No one will be demoted. I predict eventually someone associated with this will be promoted.

  16. allan


    Wells Fargo to Claw Back $75 Million From Former Executives

    Wells Fargo’s board said Monday that it would claw back an additional $75 million in compensation from the two executives on whom it pinned most of the blame for the company’s sales scandal: the bank’s former chief executive, John G. Stumpf, and its former head of community banking, Carrie L. Tolstedt.

    In a scathing, 113-page report that made it clear that all the warning signs of the problem had been glaring, the board released the results of its six-month investigation into the conditions and culture that prompted thousands of Wells Fargo employees to create fraudulent accounts in an effort to meet aggressive sales goals. …

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Ooh I’m sure they are trembling, one of them may even have to sell off one of his Aspen mansions or the condo on the Costa Smerelda. Jail (or better yet a lamp post) would have been more equitable, just give them the same prison stretch someone who stole $1000 would receive.

  17. Musicismath

    Re: “upgrading humans” as an emerging market for the elite. A number of people have been talking about the obsolescence of left-wing political economy lately — the way it always looks to the past for its mobilising ideals. Major planks in those ideals (for the actual left, not US liberals who think they’re “left”) are the great levelling principles of egalitarianism and universal humanity. But what happens to those ideals in a future world where the elites can purchase their way to transhumanism? Where economic inequality will necessitate a coming inequality at the level of essential being, capabilities, and attributes? Where the idea that “we’re all human” will no longer bind us together and the idea of “universal human rights” will come to seem quaint, if not categorically incoherent?

    1. MoiAussie

      To paraphrase something Yves wrote recently, there are more differences within the sexes than between them. Analogously, I suspect you can rest assured that there will always be natural humans whose intelligence, abilities and humanity match or exceed those of the small cohort of artificially augmented. The elite aren’t exactly renowned for their creativity and genius-level intelligence, now are they? Mainly for their arrogance and venality, their lack of self-awareness, empathy and conscience, and their single-minded pursuit of their own interests.

    2. Eclair

      “But what happens to those ideals in a future world where the elites can purchase their way to transhumanism? Where economic inequality will necessitate a coming inequality at the level of essential being, capabilities, and attributes? Where the idea that “we’re all human” will no longer bind us together and the idea of “universal human rights” will come to seem quaint, if not categorically incoherent?”

      Musicmath, your comment has raised some horrifying future scenarios. I had not thought of our ‘progression’ from animism to anthropocentrism (if those are the correct terms) as a journey that has not yet ended.

      Spending time and conversing with Native Americans in the past few years, I am struck by their world view, where every living being has value, where the winged eagle is a relative, where the crawling people and the four-footed people have as equal rights to life as the two-footed. Where you ask the bison to forgive you for killing him and thank him for his sacrifice, for providing food and shelter to you. Where you live with the certainty that you, in your turn, will be placed in an open space for the other relatives, the crow, the beetle, the coyote, the worm, to feed on. Time is circular and we are each a food source for some other relative before our return to Mother Earth.

      But we Westerners, have a notion that humans are superior; that we can take and take and take and never replenish. That time is linear and that ‘progress’ involves innovation and ‘improvement’ and extraction and manufacturing and then dumping the refuse into gigantic landfills.

      Will we convince ourselves that developing a super human is a worthy endeavor and that everything on the Planet that is below the new organisms’ level can be mined for profit then tossed onto the trash heap: entire mountains, lakes and cities, prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, bears, redwood forests, coral reefs, whales, brown and black children, the poor, the homeless?

      1. Mark P.

        ‘Will we convince ourselves that developing a super human is a worthy endeavor and everything on the Planet that is below the new organisms’ level can be mined for profit then tossed onto the trash heap …?’

        It’s not a binary choice. Why would you imagine that it is?

        The same biotechnologies that enable human modification also enable, for instance, plants that resist desertification because they have longer roots.

        For another example, the emerging technologies of regenerative medicine — that is, engineered organogenesis (growing new organs) — are also being employed to develop synthetic meat. That’ll be a good thing, allowing us to step away from current problematic conditions whereby —

        • We slaughter billions of conscious creatures.
        • 18 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming. (By contrast, global transportation accounts for 13 percent.)
        • 26 percent of Earth’s ice-free land surface is used for livestock farming. That’s 70 percent of all agricultural land.
        • 27-29 percent of humanity’s freshwater footprint is used to extract animal products from livestock. Cows are a very inefficient source of protein, for instance, requiring 100g of vegetable protein to produce only 15g of edible animal protein.
        • A meat-heavy diet greatly increases the likelihood of colon cancer in humans. The main mechanism responsible is a sugar molecule in red meat, Neu5Gc, that’s present on the cell surfaces of all mammals except humans. In a human body, Neu5gc stimulates a chronic state of low-grade inflammation, which then facilitates cancer, arteriosclerosis,and hemolytic ureic syndrome. With synthetic meat, we can design Neu5gc right out of the picture.


        Are you going to claim that an end to all these currently existing conditions would necessarily be bad because they’re achieved via synthetic biology? By human beings ‘playing god’?

        If so, that’s a religious belief — like those that motivate anti-abortion activists to kill abortion clinic doctors and jihadis to attack non-muslims — and it deserves as much respect.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Would that be a bouillabaisse of false equivalence and straw-man and the rest?

          “Same technologies?” Some guy (most likely) can afford to get himself genetically modified for extreme long life (centuries) and stupendous immune system and massive memory and really huge frontal lobes and gigantic sexual apparatus and all the other stuff that one might imagine the dude would desire, and what it he likely to do with that set of enhancements?

          And why so sanguine about the beneficence of “we” “designing Neu5gc out of the picture,” which may or may not be a “good thing,” on balance, given the bad outcomes that a lot of genetic tinkering with stuff that is vastly complex and interactive and interdependent had produced? You trust an outfit like Monsanto or Mallinkrodt or Bayer, with the moral dys-compass of the worst of humankind, to mess with genetic material, and just believe (that “religious” epithet as easily and accurately sure seems to apply to that faith in science and technology that is displayed above) it will all work out just fine? that as another commenter here noted not too long ago, every bit of tech and science is scrutinized by what I would consider bad and evil people for all possible weaponization potential? (I do like the bland and artless public fface of Bayer, in particular: — looks like a children’s book, doesn’t it?)

          And so it’s all ok that humans actually do “play god,” in the artless phrase? “Trust us, it’ll all come right in the end…”

          1. Mark P.

            ‘You trust an outfit like Monsanto or Mallinkrodt or Bayer’

            No, actually. I absolutely don’t. They are the predatory, talentless banksters of the biotech world.

            “Same technologies?”

            Yes, broadly. In silico design and sequencing, CRISPR, DNA synthesis, etc.

            ‘And why so sanguine about the beneficence of “we” “designing Neu5gc out of the picture,” which may or may not be a “good thing,” on balance, given the bad outcomes that a lot of genetic tinkering with stuff that is vastly complex and interactive and interdependent had produced?’

            You don’t get it. It’s not ‘genetic tinkering’ — it’s cell cultures built from the ground up, de novo sequencing and synthesis of whole novel genomes, when necessary.


            Or indeed ‘Scientists reveal proposal to build human genome from scratch’ —


            Also, what are these bad outcomes of ‘tinkering’ that you refer to? You should be able to cite some specific examples, instead of spewing a string of cliches, shouldn’t you? So cite them. Unless of course you actually know nothing about what you’re trying to talk about.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Rather than “cite them,” I offer a search term that will turn up a whole lot of reasons why your bland and slightly aggressive positivism has a lot of ground to make up, in convincing anyone that “we” face a simply marvelous future, if the scientists and engineers and techs are just left alone, to do wondrous things:

              failures and hazards in genetic engineering and biotechnology

              Well, maybe one link, a pretty mild one, not the screaming fears, and serious reservations with evidence, that some of what you might call Luddites have: And that’s just one area where those “tools” are being applied.

              And I do know the difference between “tinkering” and “assembling de novo (very erudite) from molecules.” Maybe going down the road to a world that looks like what is imagined in all those “Heavy Metal” graphic works,, is your cup of tea, maybe you are invested in that. I hope there will be massive resistance to that normless crapification, whether “tinkering” or “de novo sequencing.”

              My personal formulation of the Precautionary Principle is that “If you do not fully understand a complex system and its parts and interactions, you don’t have the right to mess with it.” Yours may vary, of course.

              But of course one cannot stand in the path of Progress, when there’s money to be made, and personal pleasure to be gained…

        2. reslez

          > 26 percent of Earth’s ice-free land surface is used for livestock farming. That’s 70 percent of all agricultural land.

          I’m suspicious of this point. Traditional societies devoted some portions of their land to livestock, but that’s because it was unsuitable for other kinds of agriculture. I know the same is not true today, but a big chunk of that 26% is not going to support traditional ag without huge and destructive artificial inputs.

          1. sid_finster

            At least in North Dakota and Iowa, good land is used for crops.

            Poor land for livestock.

            Hence the reason there are so many cattle ranches in God forsaken western North Dakota.

  18. Carolinian

    Some poll results

    Seven in 10 — including a majority of Republicans — said Trump needs to obtain authorization from Congress for any more strikes. And a majority — 54 percent — say they are “uneasy” about Trump’s approach to the situation in Syria, with just 41 percent expressing confidence in him.

    And finally, just 18 percent say they would like to see American ground troops in the civil war, which features Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces; the Islamic State, also known as ISIS; and more moderate opposition forces. An additional 30 percent say they are okay with airstrikes — but many of them apparently want authorization first.

    1. fresno dan

      April 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

      One of the things I get from the poll is that it appears many Americans are unaware that there are ALREADY “boots on the ground” in Syria. Shades of Vietnam and “advisers” – which is somewhat understandable given the euphemisms such as forward air observers and special forces operatives that call American soldiers anything but a soldier.
      “The United States is believed to have about 1,000 forces on the ground, mainly advising and training local Kurdish and Arab militia to battle Islamic State, with an eye on eventually capturing its Syria stronghold of Raqqa.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        And let us not forget that there are a lot of unacknowledged “paramiltaries,” both from the Spook Central, and various “NGOs,”who also have “boots on the ground,” not just in Syria but in a whole lot of other “hot spots,” both current and incipient– designating targets, delivering bribes and “encouragements,” doing “wet work,” trashing cultures and economies.

        And would it be too large a stretch to say that all those many ‘less evil jihadis” that are armed, sort of trained, and equipped by “US” imperial actors, are also “our troops,” who have killed tens of thousands of “civilians” that there is such a pretense about “protecting” in all this?

        As one who has seen a little of the shoot-em-up stuff, in Vietnam, might I offer that it sure looks more and more like anomie is the end point, with a few, like the likudniker Israelites, and various corporations headed by soulless kleptocrats, being the only ones to “gain” from the activities?

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The operative word is “soulless”, let’s just apply it to the beneficiaries of all of the economic and political actions of our time

  19. Linda

    AFP reporting this morning:

    [At least in the article headline “hacking” is in quotes.]

    A Russian computer expert was remanded in custody in Spain on Monday on suspicion of involvement in alleged hacking of the US presidential election campaign, a legal source said.

    Piotr Levashov, who was arrested at Barcelona airport on Friday, has been singled out by the United States for extradition in a request which is due to be examined by Spain’s national criminal court, the source said.

    Levashov is “suspected of having participated in hacking the election campaign in the United States,” the source said.

    Speaking to Russia Today television late on Sunday, Maria Levashova said her husband had been detained “at the request of the American authorities in connection with cyber crime”.

    She said the Spanish police had told her it was in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband (and) is linked to Trump’s victory.”

    1. Linda

      More on this story – Krebs on security, via an emptywheel tweet.

      Authorities in Spain have arrested a Russian computer programmer thought to be one of the world’s most notorious spam kingpins.

      Levashov is currently listed as #7 in the the world’s Top 10 Worst Spammers list maintained by anti-spam group Spamhaus.

      The above-referenced Reuters story on Levashov’s arrest cited reporting from Russian news outlet RT which associated Levashov with hacking attacks linked to alleged interference in last year’s U.S. election. But subsequent updates from Reuters cast doubt on those claims.

      “A U.S. Department of Justice official said it was a criminal matter without an apparent national security connection,” Reuters added in an update to an earlier version of its story.

      The New York Times reports that Russian news media did not say if Levashov was suspected of being involved in that activity. However, The Times piece observes that the Kelihos botnet does have a historic association with election meddling, noting the botnet was used during the Russian election in 2012 to send political messages to email accounts on computers with Russian Internet addresses. According to The Times, those emails linked to fake news stories saying that Mikhail D. Prokhorov, a businessman who was running for president against Vladimir V. Putin, had come out as gay.

    2. diptherio

      it was in connection with in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband (and) is linked to Trump’s victory.”

      So he created neo-liberalism? Glad he’s being locked up…

  20. jfleni

    RE: Disney files patent for “huggable and interactive” humanoid robots.

    Where have the Disney nerds been lately? They should get out more!

    Every bad area of every town in the world displays and sells some of these “robots”. They go by many names: “Rubber dolly” is very common.

  21. Mark Gisleson

    Gorsuch also breaks the Catholic-Jewish monopoly. Not sure it will make a difference. This Court could sure use a godless justice to inject some morality into the proceedings.

    1. a different chris

      >could sure use a godless justice to inject some morality

      Found my quote of the day, thanks!

    2. fresno dan

      Mark Gisleson
      April 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Good one! When oh when will the prejudice against atheists be surmounted and the first avowed non-believer be appointed? (I don’t know – has an ACKNOWLEDGED “free thinker” ever been appointed?)

  22. Ranger Rick

    People are still trying to figure out why Trump is losing?

    Yves, months ago, figured that Trump was coming into office as a party outsider with no establishment backing. (Establishment backing in this sense being the support of kingmakers in Congress.) That lack of backing is slowly morphing into passive-aggressive sabotage, something that politicians are disturbingly good at. Trump needs to figure out, and fast, what part of his soul he needs to sell in order to get the Republicans to stop turning him into the next Carter.

    The question remains, is Republican support better or worse than its intransigence? If Ryan’s healthcare “plan” was any indication, maybe Trump is better off spending the next two years cleaning house and crushing the Freedom Caucus before midterms.

    1. robnume

      LOL! Channeling Warwick, the kingmaker! Good one, Ranger Rick. Had to go there since I am currently re-reading Thomas Costain’s Plantagenet quartet series.

  23. Unknown - Not Anonymous

    Disney — Cuddly Robots…
    Well, at least they won’t need to bring in H1-Bs and have the workers train them.
    Can’t wait for the 1st ‘industrial’ cuddly robot accident. Headlines will be classic…
    “Minnie crushes tyke! Data Recorder indicates the child wouldn’t stop poking the anima-tron.”

    1. optimader

      Will they be Corporate Person Robots? Can Uncle Creepy, the age inappropriate touchy-feely Robot be sued?

  24. JohnnyGL

    Bernie on NBC.

    In my view, not good. At no point in the interview does he ask for an investigation of who did what regarding the chem attack, the “everyone knows that Assad did it” assumption is THE elephant in the room and needs to be challenged at every opportunity and Bernie failed to change the narrative. Rep. Gabbard is a VERY brave soul who needs other Very Serious People to support her drive to ask hard questions. Bernie is the best candidate to help her on this and sadly, he came up short.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Gee how bad can he be, he wants France out of NATO, out of the EU, wants a steep rise in the minimum wage, and 100% taxation on incomes over 30,000 euros per month

  25. Altandmain

    Yeah the Democrats keep pretending to be something that they are not.

    OpEd: Democrats need to admit, they don’t think poor people deserve healthcare

    Kind of like what Ian Welsh was pointing out.

    Oh and if you want a compelling Reddit post – Why the left doesn’t like Hillary Clinton:

    Might be useful to share with any Clinton supporters, although I doubt they will be swayed by facts.

    Also Sanders seems to be upping the criticism on Syria:

    “It is easy to go to war with other countries. It is not so easy to comprehend the unintended consequences of that war.”
    – Bernie Sanders

    Whether or not a few Tweets translates into solid action though … we’ll see.

  26. Susan the other

    Theresa May demoted Boris Johnson. She won’t let him confer with Lavrov. Anyway, Lavrov calls Johnson “the poodle” because he does Washington’s bidding. Not sure what Boris has done for Washington except be a goofball, which makes us look less stupid. Theresa is known to “detest” Boris and that is why she made him Foreign Minister – to isolate him? I had a hard time following the logic. But I do know the UK has been nipping at Russia’s heels for more than a century. Their Russia policy has been nothing if not consistent. They are always the first to screech absurd propaganda and have been so perfidious in their dealings with us as to entrap us to do much of their undermining of Russia. I doubt they (UK) have changed, but they are amazingly subtle when they have to be and of course we know Boris doesn’t have a delicate bone in his body. When Churchill came to the US in 1946 he came to start WW3 – but it turned into the stalemate known as the Cold War. His dramatic speech was all about the “Iron Curtain” by which the Russians (Churchill omitted the fact that it was done according to the treaty with her WW2 allies!) took eastern Europe into their sphere. Truman was so embarrassed at Churchill’s brash and bluster that he made him give his speech in Missouri, not Washington. And Boris doesn’t even approach Churchill’s skillful treachery – so Boris is officially out. Clearly the UK has always had it’s sights on eastern Europe.

    1. robnume

      To my mind Winston Churchill is the most over-rated person from the 20th century. He was a supreme war-monger and imperialist from the most useless class inside of the UK. This guy really had major disdain for his fellow human beings.
      He coulda used an “upgrade.”

      1. sid_finster

        Churchill was also a strategic incomp, responsible for, among other things, the Dardanelles fiasco and also the dodedcanese campaign in WWII.

        He was a notorious political opportunist and a late convert to the anti-austerity cause.

        Still, cometh the hour…

  27. Ed Miller

    Bison article from BBC = Extreme Whitewash of Genocide

    Apologies for highlighting this link when so many important issues are on the agenda today but the near extermination of bison as a means of killing off native peoples in the U.S. has become a minor hot button for me. I have lived all my life in the western U.S. so this topic is a little close to home now that I am aware of how similar propaganda was drilled into us as young students in schools.

    The article says that bison survived until humans showed up. That is nonsense. Bison survived until European settlers showed up and determined that the solution to the problem of all those natives living in lands they wanted was to kill their food source so to starve them. This quote from the article states a basic truth without even hinting at why these conditions existed:

    “The bison slaughter is thought to have reached its peak in the southern plains around 1873. At that time, one railway engineer claimed that it was possible to walk 100 miles alongside the Santa Fe railroad by stepping from one bison carcass to another.”

    How did that happen? Europeans came from cities by train specifically to kill the animals, allegedly for sport. I no longer believe killing for sport was the real motivation. It was to attack the food source of roaming native peoples. A pox on the BBC for the nonsense in this article.

    Many stories I have read through links here at NC have enlightened me as to a more true understanding of history and I am expressing my appreciation for this site, including the excellent commentariat.

    1. diptherio

      As another Westerner, I’m quite familiar with the local history and so skipped the article. It’s astounding that they don’t point out that it was specifically Euro-American settlers that caused the extinction and yes, as you say, it was a pretty clear extermination policy — for the bison and the people who depended on them. So the BBC leaves that part out and implies that just humans in general are the problem?

      Sounds like they haven’t got around to reading 1491 yet. Apparently, there is evidence that bison herds were being sustainably managed by the native inhabitants for quite a long stretch of time before us whities showed up. Humanity is not the problem, the ideology of total domination is.

  28. TK421

    Ecuadorians Reject Neoliberalism in Presidential Race

    I wish we Americans had the sense to do this. But no, it was “her turn”.

    1. polecat

      Uh …. ‘Their Turn**’ …. !!

      ** the D.C.- NYC – HOLLYWOOD/LA nexus

      Let’s through Chicago(School of Econ.) and S.F. (Silicon Valley) in … for good measure !

      1. Oregoncharles

        Definitely an owl – you can tell from the flattened face. Both birds of prey, of course.

        1. polecat

          But look at those eyes ‘;o That’s Satan’s shoulder harness if there ever was one !!

          1. Oregoncharles

            Certainly if you’re a mouse.

            We’ve seen videos of pet owls, I assume in another country. They look very strange wandering around in a house. But it isn’t so different from keeping falcons.

  29. B1whois

    In this article

    Coca-Cola produces over 100 billion plastic bottles that can’t be recycled, Greenpeace says

    I did not see any indication that the bottles cannot be recycled. Am I missing something?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Change “can’t be” to “mostly are not being” and it works. Greenpeace is noted for a bit of hyperbole.

  30. Oregoncharles

    LibertyBlitzkrieg??? A whole new, umm, level in NC posts.
    Unfortunately, he makes a lot of sense. I was especially struck by: “all Russia really needs to do is sit back, make some moves behind the scenes and allow the U.S. to collapse upon itself in its hubris and stupidity. This is precisely what I think is going to happen.”

    And he’s not the only one, as the video of Kunstler, JMG, and others the other day demonstrated.

  31. Oregoncharles

    I really enjoyed the last line of the story on Ron Wyden’s letter to the CBP about their demand from Twitter:

    “A CBP spokesperson declined to comment.”

    Yeah, I’ll bet they did.

    Wyden is a slime in many ways (he’s one of my senators and I’ve been to many a Wyden town hall), but at least he’s good on this issue, as long as it doesn’t cost him anything.

  32. tongorad

    I couldn’t bring myself to read the Barrier Reef article.
    “Game over, man, game over.”

        1. MoiAussie

          Thanks for the fix. This happened yesterday too – something in wordpress inserts “” into the beginning of the link. It doesn’t appear in the comment box text after using the link button, and still isn’t there if you later edit the comment, but is there in the preview and the final HTML that results. Annoying.

          Lambert, is this a known problem and is any workaround known?

Comments are closed.