Links 4/11/17

What’s the best way to tickle a rat? Cosmos (EU)

At the animal café Bangkok Post (furzy)

Greenhouse gas effect caused by mangrove forest conversion is quite significant PhysOrg (Chuck L)

To save money, Kentucky Coal Museum turns to solar panels ars technica (Chuck L)

An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are ‘living entities.’ Could the same approach work in the US? Christian Science Monitor (Glenn F)

Scientists identify parts of brain involved in dreaming Guardian (Brian C)

New approach makes cells resistant to HIV MedicaleXress (Chuck L)

GETTING REAL: the raging fire in the hold of SS Eutanic John Ward (Chuck L). Tries too hard to be colorful but some good observations.

NATO’s top mission: Preparing for Trump Politico

French Elections

Marine Le Pen Denies French Guilt for Rounding Up Jews New York Times (furzy). An awfully big gaffe awfully close to the first round.

Le Pen attacked for denying French role in wartime roundup of Jews Politco


A multi-level analysis of the US cruise missile attack on Syria and its consequences The Saker (YJT). Today’s must read. I sometimes have doubts about the Saker, but this strikes me as sound. The one point where I think he may be giving Russia too much credit is in the Tomahawk diversion thesis (as in if they could do it, why in part but not in full? To freak out the US types that their pricey weapons are horribly unreliable To test their tech without showing their hand too much? To send a warning, since some cooler heads might think it was likely that Russia had this capability, which in turn might lead to a rethink on some courses of action?)

Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump To Attack Syria — And Increases The Risk Of Nuclear Annihilation Norman Solomon (Sid S)

Sean Spicer Just Threatened to Massively Escalate the War in Syria Vanity Fair. Resilc: “But american cluster bombs in Yemen is A-OK.”

‘Syria will implode if Assad goes’, says Peter Ford BBC (furzy)

Syria, Iran and Israel – Clinton mails reveal the motivation behind. Defend Democracy (furzy)

H. R. McMaster Manipulating Intelligence Reports to Trump, Wants 150,000 Ground Soldiers in Syria Defend Democracy

Wag The Dog — How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump And The American Media Huffington Post (Sid S). By former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. You need to read past a long set up to get to the goods.

Trump’s Bombing of Syria: Continuation of a 68-Year-Old Policy George Washington

Kremlin, angry at Syria missile strike, says Putin won’t meet Tillerson Reuters. The headline verges on misreporting. For Tillerson to meet Putin would be a departure from diplomatic protocol. Tillerson is meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov. The fact that Putin “often” met with Kerry does not mean it was a given, and there’s no evidence that a meeting had been set up and was cancelled, which would have been a show of unhappiness.

Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’ Guardian. Sid S: “Gaddafi was terrible. Look what followed.”

New Cold War

Britain defies allies on Russia sanctions The Times

Snowden on NSA and Cyberwar Defend Democracy

Imperial Collapse Watch

Exclusive: Spyware firms in breach of global sanctions Aljazeera (Bill B)

Selection and maintenance of the aim Irrussianlity (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Computer hack sets off 156 emergency sirens across Dallas Reuters (EM)

Snowden on NSA and Cyberwar Defend Democracy

Russian arrested in Spain ‘over mass hacking’ BBC (Chuck L)

Symantec attributes 40 cyber attacks to CIA-linked hacking tools Reuters (EM)

Trump Transition

Neocons Have Trump on His Knees Robert Parry, Consortium News

The Seven Types of People Who Tweet at Trump Bloomberg

TRUMP & RYAN TO DISMANTLE SOCIAL SECURITY Social Security Works via AAPR. Petition here, please sign. (furzy)

Justin Trudeau’s dangerous Syrian Trump gambit Left Chapter (Sid S)

What is going on in Sean Spicer’s briefing room? Slate (furzy)


4 ways states can prevent the Affordable Care Act from “exploding” Vox (Kevin C)

Maryland on track to give attorney general power to sue for drug price-gouging Washington Post

Schumer Backs Off Appointing Airbnb Lobbyist To FTC, After IBTimes Questions International Business Times

California’s Drought Is Over, but the Rest of the World’s Water Problems Are Just Beginning Mother Jones (resilc)

To feed Upstate NY beer industry, state’s barley growers need U.S. aid, Schumer says Syracuse

ProPublica, New York Daily News, Post’s Fahrenthold win Pulitzers CNN (furzy)

Officer on leave after dragging United Airlines passenger off plane Reuters (furzy). Lambert had a longer and better version of the video in Water Cooler but this one shows how badly beaten up the passenger was. Ugly. United gave him a boarding pass. I don’t see how they can then kick him off after they gave him a seat. This was their screw up and they need to own it. The idea that an employee “had to fly” is ludicrous. If it was necessary for route management purposes that should have been in the system or the gate agents notified if there was a problem (and with FCC flight management systems they would know of a serious flight delay and related crew problem well before this plane boarded). And do not kid yourselves, there would have been no accountability ex smartphones. The airlines would have gotten the crew to back the removal effort and have depicted passengers who said otherwise as “he said, she said”. And even now, United is apparently trying to blame the officer, when you can be sure he would have lost his job if he didn’t “remove” the passenger.

Passenger Forcibly Removed From United Flight, Prompting Outcry NPR. Jason: “Headline doesn’t mention that the jackboots knocked out the victim cold. And he was claiming he’s a doctor that needs to work at the hospital tomorrow. Neoliberalism continues its march.”

Airlines Treat You Badly Because They Can Buzzfeed (bob k)

Drugmakers Help Turn Patients With Rare Diseases Into D.C. Lobbyists KHN (Dan K)

Class Warfare

Charge Time: Electric Car Workers Accuse Tesla of Low Pay and Intimidation American Prospect (resilc)

The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays USA Today Note the subsides are ~$50 per US household and 1/4 of WalMart’s 2014 pre-tax income (and a higher % of US-only income).

Instead of taxes, make corporations give the government stock Washington Post

California and New York become first states to commit to $15 minimum wage Sacramento Bee (bob k)

Antidote du jour. Robert H: “Buddy was a five year old foster dog who needed to have 17 teeth pulled (17 teeth remain). Here he is after six months in his new home.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    WaPo: corps to pay taxes with shares. Fits neatly with the concept that in the era of ZIRP and NIRP, new forms of proto-money would need to emerge. Looks like it’s stocks and houses, and if you don’t own them you are S.O.L.

    1. johnnygl

      A fleeting consideration of the idea might have people thinking, “OMG!?!!?? WaPoo wants communism!!?!?!!”

      But we at nakedcap know better. Shares don’t give you ‘ownership’, they give you the right to claim future cash flows after all other creditors have been paid, subject to the whims of senior mgt, who can issue shares and dilute your stake at any time.

      So, instead of socializing the corporate sector, it would be a giant ripoff scam. Big surprise WaPoo is in favor of massive corporate giveaways!!!!

    2. craazyboy

      Most corps don’t own any shares of stock. Is Wapo suggesting they print new stock, diluting the shareholders, and give the diluted shares to Gummint? Like corporate MMT??? What a bunch of morons. They should at least hire journalists the hold a minimum education credential of a GED. Editors too.

    3. Ivy

      Snap may some extra shares from that recent IPO to start the process, but don’t mind the lack of shareholder rights. One could imagine some legislative efforts at piecing together the shares program, with all the attendant risks, downsides and eventual reckonings to be borne by future generations.

      Class G stock, gee, that has a nice ring to it. Or perhaps some name twist on treasury stock, to file next to other GSE “investments”?

  2. MoiAussie

    A multi-level analysis of the US cruise missile attack on Syria

    The Saker repeats the “Daily Mail deleted an article reporting a US plan for a false flag in Syria” claim that has also appeared elsewhere. As I commented 3 days ago, the Daily Mail in 2013 retracted, apologised, and paid 110,000 GBP damages after legal action by Britam, the company whose incriminating emails had been supposedly hacked.

    According to Wikispooks, the hacked emails were forged, but please make your own judgements. A web search for “Goulding Doughty” (with quotes) will turn up press reports and the Wikispooks assessment. Personally, the claim seems a bridge too far, but its falsehood does not undermine the thrust of the Saker’s analysis.

    1. fresno dan

      April 11, 2017 at 7:26 am
      With regard to the posting:

      Because I have come to the conclusion that any and all types of dialog with the United States are simply a meaningless and useless waste of time. For one thing, there is no US policy on anything. Over the past week or so we saw both Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson completely contradict themselves over and over again: “no we don’t want to overthrow Assad. Yes we do want to overthrow Assad. Yes we do. No we don’t“. This is almost painful and embarrassing to watch. This just goes to show that just like the Obama Administration, the Trump people are “недоговороспособны” or “not agreement capable”.
      This is bad. Really bad. This means that the Russians have basically given up on the notion of having an adult, sober and mentally sane partner to have a dialog with. What this also means is that while remaining very polite and externally poker faced, the Russians have now concluded that they need to simply assume that they need to act either alone or with other partners and basically give up on the United States.

      Although I agree with the above snippet, one could substitute “Trump” for “US” and I think it would give a clearer prediction of how erratic future actions will be. Right now Trump is getting his Cable TVee praise, but soon he will face real criticism for continuing involvement in Syria, OR criticism for discontinuing involvement in Syria. Trump’s inability to stand up for his original policy of Syrian non-involvement bodes poorly for the future. I thought if Trump was incapable of getting anything done, at least that was a silver lining as far as foreign affairs, but now Trump will display the bias most humans have for action, any action, and will use it in the realm of foreign affairs that gives him the freest hand.

      1. shinola

        From Robert Parry’s article “Neocons have Trump on his knees”:

        “To put this message in the crude terms that President Trump might understand, now that the neocons have forced him to his knees, they are demanding that he open his mouth.”

        Almost good enough to make me open a twitter account just to spread that one around (almost but not quite)

      2. fosforos

        If I thought that Trumpe-l’oeil had more intelligence than a cooked noodle or a Clintonite I would let myself hope for this scenario: Having been given the JFK warning he looks for a way to get safe by dismantling enough of the deep state to intimidate the rest. By ordering a meaningless “strike” to total establishment acclaim and then exposing (or waiting for its inevitable exposure) the falsification he could, in the general media and political chaos, fire all the utterly disloyal military and intelligence types holding him under their thumbs for their conspicuous incompetence and dishonesty. Alas, ain’t gonna happen…

    2. vidimi

      the saker is a putinbot just like everyone at kos, vox or new republic were obamabots. he sees putin playing eleventy-dimensional chess everywhere – and winning – despite the fact that he wouldn’t even be in this mess had he vetoed the libyan no-fly zone in the first place and not allowed libya to become a staging ground for the syrian flustercuck.

      1. financial matters

        I think Libya was a major turning point. I don’t think Russia and Iran are going to back off easily. The US also seems to have pretty much lost what humanitarian clout they may have had.

        December 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

        Re How the Arab Spring Became the Arab Cataclysm

        Vijay Prashad provides a different perspective in this interview with Chris Hedges.

        financial matters
        December 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm

        Very good interview.

        Vijay Prashad talks about the period from 1989 when we had the Panama invasion and collapse of the Soviet Union as leading to an unleashing of US military power leading to the Iraq War in 2003. This war serious dented the image of the US as being a humanitarian actor and the US pushed for the UN Responsibility to Protect Act in 2005 which was used to justify the Libya invasion.

        Prashad sees the results of that invasion and what is going on now in Syria as reflecting that the period 2011-2015 is seeing the end of this US unipolarism that lasted from 1989 to 2011

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Putin wasn’t President at the time. Medvedev was. Despite US propaganda, Putin wasn’t in charge and publicly criticized Medvedev.

        1. vidimi

          a very good point. we are conditioned to believe that putin has been continuously in power since 1998 when, in reality, the russian system is not as dysfunctional as our media would like us to believe.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            One chain of events I have is members of the US elite in the Trump administration) believe Putin will negotiate and help Trump by letting us get Assad because of the false perception Putin is some kind of Super Stalin. The praise of the run of the mill nuts and the types who have a childish faith in US military invincibility seems like an answer to Trump’s domestic dilemma.

            In this case, Tillerson is going to explain to Putin “it’s all cool but I need to play grumpy cat for the news.” Of course, the Russians not being idiots will assume the U.S. is inherently irrational and not worth bothering to reason with going forward. Sabre rattling with North Korea and the R+6 at the same time is going to lead the Russians to assess the U.S. as insane.

            The Clintonistas had no understanding of how the Internet works, so it’s unlikely a man who doesn’t use email has a sound understanding of what people around the world see and think.

      3. Carolinian

        Saker has described Putin as extra cautious and that jives with the Libya reaction regardless of how much Putin had to do with it. Saker doesn’t strike me as anybody’s bot although obviously he has his point of view as do we all.

        As to the current analysis, it’s probably impossible to know what Trump is up to and very likely Trump doesn’t know himself on a day to day basis. I do think he needs to put a muzzle on Haley who seems to see herself as an all purpose foreign policy spokesperson even though she knows nothing about it. We South Carolinians could have warned him not to pick our dubious guv.

        1. hemeantwell

          Saker’s post was surprisingly open in his consideration of alternative accounts of the reasons for and the fate of the TLAM attack. Previous posts of his do at times seem Putinophilic and pretty gee-whizzy about Russian war tech. But today, even when he gets into a general assessment of Russian and US strategic aims, he’s worth listening to. I do agree that Trump has been frightened by the neocon collective and is aligning himself, in all his shallow impetuousness, with them in their militarized approach to disrupting the emergence of a Euroasian power whose center of gravity is at least a thousand miles east of London.

          One dynamic I’m particularly concerned about is that the public case for aggression against the Russians and their ME allies is so thin, and potentially refutable, that its proponents must be thinking that they need to set off a confrontation that will moot the indefensible nature of their case. The establishment Dems and their MSM allies are driving themselves into a corner. They must understand that alternative news sources are steadily chipping away at their authority and that they are playing a game carrying some risk of further delegitimation.

          1. ChrisFromGeorgia

            I think you’re right to be concerned. In past examples of US aggression, such as the 2003 Iraq war and the 2013 chemical attack in Ghouta that later proved to be falsely attributed to Assad, we at least had some period of debate at the UN, attempts at collecting evidence or at least some facsimile of rational behavior on the part of the accusers.

            In this example there was not only no debate, we hastily bombed the very same air base where the alleged chemical weapons were distributed and presumably loaded onto aircraft, thereby destroying any evidence and making any future investigation into what really happened more difficult, if not impossible.

            Not even a kangaroo would stoop to serve on that court.

            That tends to make me think that there is some real desperation within the establishment. They can count on the press to carry water for them for a while, but even that will have limits, for example if someone credible steps forward and presents testimony to a neutral party that this latest manufactured incident was indeed a false flag.

          2. Bill Smith

            “surprisingly open in his consideration of alternative accounts of the reasons for and the fate of the TLAM attack”

            I didn’t get that impression when he stated this:

            “36 cruise missiles have not reached their intended target. That is a fact.”

            If the Russians used their EW it would have been ‘seen’ by observers all over as it would have lit up the electromagnetic spectrum. Plus given the navigation backups on the Tomahawks jamming the GPS wouldn’t have been enough. And you can’t spoof a cryptologically signed signal. Or if they can the US has a much bigger problems than some missiles missing their targets.

            1. Plenue

              Al-Masdar analysis thinks the 36 missing missiles were shot down, mostly or entirely by Syrian air defense. If there was jamming that threw them off course it might have for whatever reason not been able to divert all the missiles. In other words they tried to stop the full attack, and simply weren’t able to. Still, a 60+% kill/divert rate isn’t bad at all. Russia is moving more AA systems into Syria, and I don’t think their ships off the coast even took part in countering this attack, so that’s more potential AA right there. If the US wants to do another cruise missile barrage, they’re going to need more than two destroyers to do it.

            2. Jeotsu

              All claims as to technological capabilities are always going to be conjecture. Anybody with the clearance to actually know shouldn’t be posting here. :)

              I will point out that the US has not faced a peer-state foe since…. I don’t know. Vietnam? Korea? WW2? Certainly not in the lifetime of any current field officers. Maybe a few Generals/Admirals were newbies the last time they saw anything like it.

              So who knows what the latest/greatest Russian tech is capable of? We certainly know that US defense contractors have been targets of IT raids in the past (see how much F35 data China ended up with).

              If Russia can mess with TLAMs it also means they would likely be able to muck with JDAMs, which means the core US plan for SEAD (suppression of enemy air defense) of standing back with stealthy aircraft and lobbing JDAMs from a distance goes out the window. You *don’t* want to try to fly straight up to an S400 and try to lase it for targeting.

              How would a real conflict play out? Literally nobody knows. And as the Saker said, we should be terrified of the concept of finding out. Unfortunately America seems to punch-drunk on the power to drone folks living in mud huts.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Wow, “The US has not faced a peer-state since…” but has yet to chalk one up in the “win” column since…Grenada? I want my money back.

                1. Plenue

                  Even Grenada was something of a disaster. They went in with no real planning or preparation, soldiers were issued tourist maps for example. They thought it would be such a cakewalk, and yet they still managed to get a bunch of helicopters shot down by Grenadan anti-aircraft fire.

            3. Yves Smith Post author

              It has been widely reported that only 23 missiles of the 59 launched hit the target. Saker isn’t out over his skis. Readers were joking and running the math on the waste for days.

      4. olga

        Calling someone a “bot” means that he/she is unthinking in whatever activity is being undertaken. That can hardly be said of Saker, who does try to provide reasoned analysis – one might not agree with the conclusions, but certainly not doubt the presence of the analytical thinking process. As for Putin, he seems leagues above most leaders today – particularly, the western ones… (think of Hollande (’nuff said), May (who went to KSA to sell more arms in the middle of the Yemen war), Renzi (who tried to mess with Italian constitution), Merkel (who’d never dare cross US), Trump (’nuff said)… Only the Chinese Xi J. appears on the same level.
        There are at least three things that set P. and Xi apart – they seek their countries’ independence, they seem to care about their societies’ well-being, and they have a VERY LONG-TERM view – which allow for a sense of clarity and certainty…

        1. vidimi

          sure, i completely agree that m. putin and xi are far more competent leaders than any of their homologues in the west, but that doesn’t excuse the saker for being completely uncritical of putin.

    3. Mark P.

      Saker’s account does jibe with various other claims that the Russians are now capable of doing interesting things with their field electronic communications and detection systems.

    4. Gen Dau

      If the Russians did in fact down 60% of the US missiles and had the capability to stop even more, then there is a very simple reason why they didn’t stop all of them: it was important to allow Trump to save face. If the Russians had downed all the missiles, this would have been seen in the US as a terrible failure for Trump, perhaps even triggering an impeachment attempt. The Russians would surely rather deal with Trump than with a dedicated, hard-core neocon who would probably start a war with Russia in order to set up a “no-fly zone” in Syria.

      1. vidimi

        i also think that a lot of this is kabuke. the problem with that is the effect on public opinion is real and is likely to lead to much more blood spilled.

  3. Linda

    Tiny, family-run Iowa newspaper wins Pulitzer for taking on agriculture companies

    Art Cullen owns the 3,000-circulation Storm Lake Times with his brother John. His wife and son also work at the paper.

    A small-town Iowa newspaper with a staff of 10 people – most of whom are related to each other – has won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on powerful agricultural companies over farm pollution.

    Art Cullen, who owns the Storm Lake Times with his brother John, acknowledged it wasn’t easy taking on agriculture in a state like Iowa where you see hundreds of miles of farm fields in every direction. The Cullens lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.

    Cullen’s writing was lauded by the Pulitzer committee for “editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa”.

    Here is the page on Storm Lake Times at

    Finalists in the Editorial Writing category were the Houston Chronicle and The Washington Post.

    1. Carla

      Thank you so much for posting this, Linda. Wonderful that the Cullens and the Storm Lake Times won the Pulitzer! Tragic that the Farm Bureau won the legal battle, though.

  4. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to the links about Marine Le Pen, the UK’s Channel 4 had a hatchet job on her yesterday evening.

    I watch the news in English and French most days. What is interesting is that the hatchet jobs on Le Pen on both sides of the sea seem to coincide. It is as if they are being coordinated.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Further to French guilt, which oddly does not extend to the Code Noir etc., South(ern) Africans are still waiting for Israel to acknowledge and apologise for its role in sustaining apartheid. This includes the presence of Israeli advisors in Soweto in 1976. The war criminal Shimon Peres, when tackled on the issue, said there was nothing to apologise for. As defence minister, Peres accelerated the cooperation between the pariahs, including on nuclear weapons. He did not have the grace to attend Mandela’s funeral.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes selective outrage very much the thing–makes you question the sincerity of their outrage in general.

        Specifically re LePen and denial, supposedly the French have a history of hiding from their role in the Holocaust and when Marcel Ophuls The Sorrow and the Pity appeared in 1969 the result was a huge outcry and, ultimately, such dubious measures as making Holocaust denial a criminal offense. The movie goes into great detail about the Vichy Collaboration.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      I’m not sure about the hatchet job — IMO this could be a dog whistle to her die hard supporters to get out to the polls. She sees her opponent as Macron who worked for Rothschilds and the LR has already played the “International Banks and Bolsheviks” card with a cartoon of Macron with a barely concealed anti-Semitic theme. MLP is just doubling down.

      1. David

        Her diehard supporters will go anyway, and I don’t think it will make much difference in the election. This isn’t about anti-semitism but about the control of the discourse surrounding the nature of the Vichy regime and its degree of popularity – still a very touchy subject. The question is whether there’s such a thing as racial guilt – whether an entire nation can be somehow guilty of acts which a small number committed and others were totally unaware of. It’s analogous to the question of whether “America” was guilty of war crimes in Vietnam or “Britain” was guilty of the Amritsar massacre in 1919. In the past the answer was “no”, but over the last couple of decades the French have followed the Anglo-Saxon lead in assuming collective responsibility for the past, and political leaders have apologized for just about everything you can think of in the name of “France.” This discourse is very strong in the media, in political circles and school textbooks, and it forms part of what the French call the pensée unique, along with unrestricted immigration, identity politics, neoliberal economics etc. which you’re just not allowed to criticize. Le Pen’s unguarded comment probably just reflects, and no doubt is intended to appeal to, the extent to which ordinary French people are fed up with apologizing all the time.
        It’s worth adding that keeping attention on this squalid episode of French history avoids having to tackle the wider question of the Vichy era as a whole, which is still tremendously divisive. The rounding-up of French Jews has become an obsession, rehashed by the media every year, because it is pretty much the only episode from the Occupation that everyone can agree to condemn. It avoids still sensitive questions such as whether the Resistance were “freedom fighters” or “communist terrorists.” It was De Gaulle who realized that the only way the country could be held together after the war was by organized lying, and this is why Ophuls’s film (which I saw soon after it came out and was actually quite measured and balanced) was so controversial, because it threatened to re-open wounds which had practically led to a civil war not that long before.

    3. Dead Dog

      Thanks Colonel. The outcome will be important, not just in France.

      The media never got behind Trump either and this may play into Le Pen’s hands, just as it did in the US

    4. fosforos

      The hatchet job is exemplified perfectly by the house-leftist Owen Jones in the Guardian: “Marine Le Pen – who denies the French state played a role in deporting Jews in the Holocaust” She denied no such thing–she said it was not La France, it was the regime in power. That regime was known as “L’État Francaise,” “The French State”), so far from denying that role she was affirming it, while denying the rightfulness of that “French State” being called “La France.” In that she was one hundred percent correct. I was very young but alive and very aware then, and to me “La France” meant de Gaulle. For those wielding the hatchets against her, though, “La France” seems to mean Pétain.

      1. Plenue

        This line of thinking has always perplexed me. The Vichy government was the legitimate government of France. There was a war, France lost, it capitulated to Germany, and the Germans allowed the government to continue running a rump France. Sympathies can understandably lie with the Free French forces who continued fighting, and we can disapprove of how the Vichy government colluded with its conquerors, but Vichy wasn’t magically illegitimate just because the later victorious Free French said they were. At least up until the time when the next elections should have been held, but weren’t, after that date it makes sense to view the Vichy government as illegitimate.

  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Sid.

    The Grauniad, a paper that I read for most of my life, does not give a flying f about slaves in Libya. The ‘paper was a cheerleader for the overthrow of Gaddafi, especially when its idol HRC was getting her knickers into a twist, and rubbished warnings that this lunacy would open a Pandora’s box. I remember one particular piece dismissing the African Union’s warnings, implying that people with dark skin don’t know anything and can be safely ignored.

  6. Linda

    CNN Money

    The White House Correspondents’ Association has tapped “Daily Show” comedian Hasan Minhaj to perform at its ballyhooed annual dinner.

    In a statement Tuesday, Minhaj said, “It is a tremendous honor to be a part of such a historic event even though the president has chosen not to attend this year. SAD! Now more than ever, it is vital that we honor the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

    “I was not looking for somebody who was going to roast the president in absentia. That’s not fair, and that’s not the message that we want to get across,” Jeff Mason, the current president of the association, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “I was looking for somebody who is funny and who is entertaining, because I want the dinner to be entertaining, but who can also speak to the message that the whole dinner is going to speak to … the importance of a free press.”

    Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward will also speak about the First Amendment.

    1. Christopher Fay

      The only successful performance at the Annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner [Flags, tastefully placed, not too overwhelming, gauche] is one that insults everyone in the audience.

    2. dontknowitall

      So…Bernstein & Woodward…would it be wrong to say their message is impeachment ?

    3. jrs

      What they didn’t invite Julian Assange to speak to the importance of the free press? Not even over video?

  7. MoiAussie

    Things are heating up on the Korean Peninsula. The sabre-rattling from the White House and Pyongyang is intensifying: North Korea state media warns of nuclear strike if provoked. China is reported to be moving troops to the border.

    As concern mounts that North Korea will use a national commemoration on Saturday to conduct its sixth nuclear test, claims the Chinese army has amassed 150,000 troops including medical teams on the border with North Korea have been repeated on the front page of China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper.

    The US is reportedly considering shooting down the test missile. According to local reports they have notified Australia of the possibility, and the Australia-US joint facility at Pine Gap, which monitors North Korean missile launches, is on standby.

    While the NK threats may not be entirely credible, the US seems ready to take action anyway.

    1. fresno dan

      April 11, 2017 at 8:14 am

      I would be curious to get some informed opinion on whether North Korea has the capability to sink a US warship
      If North Korea would do it.

      1. MoiAussie

        I have no informed opinion to offer, except to say that I’m sure, if attacked, they would if they could. And to note that they torpedoed a South Korean warship in 2010, apparently using a midget sub, and they possess stealth missile boats.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From Wikipedia, the Turtle Ship, by Joseon Koreans:

          A turtle ship, also known as Geobukseon (거북선, Korean pronunciation: [kʌbuksən]), was a type of large Korean warship that was used intermittently by the Royal Korean Navy during the Joseon dynasty from the early 15th century up until the 19th century. It was used alongside the panokseon warships in the fight against invading Japanese naval ships. The ship’s name derives from its protective shell-like covering.[1] This design is often recognized as the first armored ship in the world.[2]

          The first references to older, first generation turtle ships, known as gwiseon (귀선; 龜船, Korean pronunciation: [kɥisʌn]), come from 1413 and 1415 records in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which mention a mock battle between a gwiseon and a Japanese warship. However, these early turtle ships soon fell out of use as Korea’s naval preparedness decreased during a long period of relative peace.[3]

          Turtle ships participated in the war against Japanese naval forces supporting Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s attempts to conquer Korea from 1592-1598.[4] Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Shin is credited with designing the ship. His turtle ships were equipped with at least five different types of cannons. Their most distinguishable feature was a dragon-shaped head at the bow (front) that could launch cannon fire or flames from the mouth. Each was also equipped with a fully covered deck to deflect arrow fire, musket-shots, and incendiary weapons.[5] The deck was covered with iron spikes to discourage enemy men from attempting to board the ship.[5]

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        They have diesel submarines. Those are super duper quiet. The question is whether they are all accounted for or not. If it’s not caught coming out of port, the sub would have a week or two to cause damage. One would think the South Koreans care, but I believe Mike Tyson noted, “everybody has a plan til they get punched in the face.” The USS Cole springs to mind. A rubber boat made a US naval vessel useless. The North Koreans aren’t stupid. Breaking U.S. air superiority would seem to me their top priority as other NATO soldiers trash the ability of American troops to do soldierly activities without calling in air support.

        With atomic or nuclear weapons, they don’t have to hit the target. “Good enough for government work” springs to mind.

        Would they? You bet. There are two concerns that I see: one, Iraq and Libya have happened. Hillary even refused to talk to Gaddafi. The other issue so with the closed nature of South Korea there aren’t connections for the regime apparatiks to use to overthrow the regime with a newer pro-resource extraction regime. They are all in this together so to speak.

        In Iraq, members of the regime actually believed the U.S. cared about WMDs and would be SOOOO embarrassed that they would return the regime sans the Husseins back to power to keep Iran out. Promotions for everyone! Killing Kim won’t mean promotions! This is why Assad miss still there. The non-Sunni elites don’t want to lose their spots.

        1. optimader

          I’d speculate the USN knows where every NK submarine is, except maybe the one that sunk last year, and even money they know where that sunk. Although a diesel can indeed be very silent- particularly if sitting on the bottom, for as long as it can endure, I would further speculate the NK subs have identifiably noisy bearings, ventilation systems and props whether static or moving. We are not contemplating Gotland class submarines..

          1. Bill Smith

            While I doubt that the US knows where every NK submarine is at any given time (there have been news reports in the past that they didn’t know) the NK submarines are not that quiet. They are old and not maintained in that great a shape.

            1. Optimader

              SOSUS. Nothing much happens off the coast of NK without it’s acoustical signature getting the equivalent of a proctological exam… no matter what you read

      3. craazyboy

        The big counterattack threat is Seoul. Right on the border and most of S. Korea lives there. The N. Korean Army just needs to storm the border and stab everyone with a bayonet. Next step up in warfare tech is howitzer shells raining down on Seoul. Then, some people think they have dirty bombs stashed on their side of the border. If the wind is blowing the right direction they could set those off and let the wind take care of things from there.

        I’ve been think all along if S. Korean wanted to avoid this obvious Catch 22, they would need to relocate all of Seoul to the south end of the peninsula.

        1. optimader

          I’ve been think all along if S. Korean wanted to avoid this obvious Catch 22, they would need to relocate all of Seoul to the south end of the peninsula.

          A shovel ready infrastructure project!!
          In principle, I agree with you. and the bonus is that the weather would be nicer.

          The N. Korean Army just needs to storm the border and stab everyone with a bayonet.
          WWI rules..

          SK has Home Depot sheds all along the border stocked with

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Or: Trump and China could decide this needs to be solved together, a quick phone call from Beijing activates their spy and government assets in Pyongyang for a substitute government while Trump delivers a half dozen Tomahawks to get Kim Poon Bim or whatever his name is.


          The two world leaders decide this was so clever that they convene a Global Peace and Reconciliation Conference, where even Vlad the Impaler is invited. The entire world climbs down from the path to WW III, all of the swords are beaten into plowshares, and we usher in an era of peace and prosperity and goodwill to all mankind.

    2. Ivy

      How much of the message about 150,000 troops on the border is directed at the Norks, to say fall in line and stop being nuclear nut jobs? China has an unruly young relative that may need to be reined in periodically when not otherwise serving as a thorn in the side of South Korea, Japan, the US and others outside the middle kingdom.

      1. vidimi

        i was thinking something similar, though i think it’s to rush in and occupy after the americans destroy the regime to make sure it doesn’t fall into yankee hands.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Refugees. Much like that general who voiced opposition to the Iraq War in 2002 and had predicted a major refugee crisis (ASSAD SUPER HITLER took in over 2 million Iraqi refugees) in his contingency plans for the sudden death of Hussein in the 90’s, China has predicted any chaos on the Korean peninsula will cause a refugee crisis. I don’t know what they will do, but they don’t expect a problem to be contained to the peninsula.

          If Ivanka appeal’s to daddy are motivating Trump, ruh-roh, the irrational leader might not Pyongyang but Trump Tower.

    3. Dead Dog

      Thanks for this, sport. Most of the world’s attention is on Syria and, with a sizeable portion of the US Navy moving into the South China sea, we have every reason to feel nervous.

      The US is not dealing with a rational regime here. The decades-long standoff cannot continue forever and conflict seems inevitable. I can’t see this going well for SKs given the population density so close to the border

      Do the US neocons really think they can win anything from a war with NK? The world has been beating NK with a stick for so long, that we’ve forgotten how useful carrots and diplomacy are

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If the North Koreans are irrational (short of credible evidence of Kim’s mental state, this is a position I don’t agree with), why would the NKs respond to either a carrot or stick approach? The mule does his job because he understands me will get a carrot or a stick. The irrational don’t understand this.

        Just for example, the Ottoman Sultan killed his male relatives on ascension to the throne. Was he irrational? No, he did this to prevent a brother or uncle from being held up as a rally to the opposition. Even going back to the days of Alexander, the story was Alexander iced his old man who had taken a new wife, fearful of an heir who would make Alexander superfluous. Was Alexander irrational?

        Take Hussein and Gaddafi. Both disarmed, and both are dead. Whoopsie!

      2. Mark P.

        ‘The US is not dealing with a rational regime here.’

        The Pyongyang regime is very rational, given its existential situation and the operating precepts its thuggish history has caused it to develop.

        This is not encouraging. They logically have to default to ‘madman theory’ play because otherwise the strategic calculus doesn’t favor them.

        1. Dead Dog

          NTG and Mark, thanks. Rational? I am guessing that the top families in NK realize that capitulation does not see them on a beach in Majorca. So, backed into a corner, they will fight and I am thinking that the US neocons are itching for a provocation and, in absence of one… oh yes, been there before.

          A lot depends on NK’s senior generals

    1. MoiAussie

      It’s getting awfully close to that, isn’t it? Leaving aside the discussion and analysis, the information being unearthed here and the connections being made, while not yet banned by the state, are effectively hidden from anyone who doesn’t make a determined effort to stay informed. Kudos to Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, and Outis for creating and cultivating this abundant garden of awareness.

      1. Eclair

        Might be a good idea to dust off that old mimeograph machine in the basement (or buy one on eBay) hoard up a supply of ink and special paper and …. don’t throw away that old typewriter.

      2. InsertNameHere

        The beltway does seem to be testing ways to outlaw NC and other alt-media. PropOrNot was too thuggish. If anything, it probably drove traffic to NC (it’s how I found NC, at least), but Youtube is pulling pay from controversial channels, Facebook is monitoring and attempting to regulate everyone’s news, etc etc. The state is clearly trying to get corporations to do the censorship for them via the “free” market.

        We’d probably be better off in trying to make some sort of facebook alternative that pulls in the mainstream via lack of ridiculous ads/obnoxious messaging services/Candy Crush prompts. If the Beltway wants to ban alt-media, let them do it the old fashioned way with clubs, guns, and stormtroopers.

        1. hunkerdown

          Naked Capitalism is hot water and strong tea, too. That reminds me, it’s been a minute since I hit the tip jar.

    2. Dead Dog

      Except that every commenter is known to the State. You are now on that list, Christopher. And, one day they will come for us all

      I fool them by using a nom de plume

  8. fresno dan

    Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump To Attack Syria — And Increases The Risk Of Nuclear Annihilation Norman Solomon (Sid S)

    These ominous developments are a longtime dream come true for ultra-hawks like Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who’ve gained leverage in an alliance with numerous congressional Democrats. The neocons and the “liberal interventionists” really have something going now, after propagating the meme that Trump is a Putin puppet.

    At this perilous moment in human history, the quality of the Democratic Party leadership was embodied in a tweet last month from the Democratic National Committee’s new chair, Tom Perez, who sent out this message about a weekly address by President Trump: “Translated from the original Russian and everything.”

    Such tactics aren’t just McCarthyite. They are baiting, goading and pressurizing Trump to prove that he’s willing to clash with Russia after all.
    We pretend we have two political parties that give us some choice with regard to endless war. We don’t.
    We pretend we have a diverse and free media that can speak truth to power. We don’t.

    1. oh

      The sooner people understand that there is one war party masquerading as two parties, the better for all. I say that to as many people as I can. However the massive propaganda by the MSM is hard to nullify.

  9. bronco

    With regards to the United Airlines fiasco. Supposedly they tried to buy passengers out before things went sideways and no one bit.

    I know someone who took a supposed $200 bounty to get bumped and found it came in the form of 8 $25 coupons to be used on future flights one per flight only. To add insult to injury he had to book the tickets at the airport in order to use them.

    The bounty is not real money why would anyone accept it?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Lambert is doing a Water Cooler special on this fiasco so check back. I think they offered more but yes it would have been in the form of coupons and no one took them up.

      Do you know what airline did that (the airport redemption nonsense)? A reason to avoid them.

      1. bronco

        Not sure which airline , it was a family member who is deceased . He told the story to probably 1000’s of people he was so angry about it. I never fly anywhere I suppose thats why I didn’t note the name of the airline.

      2. mle detroit

        Delta did it to me several years ago. I don’t remember about “airport,” but $25 coupons worthless to an infrequent flier. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to avoid Delta out of Detroit.

        1. pretzelattack

          i read that frequent flyer miles were part of the algorithm for picking people to boot, and i suspect that means people that are infrequent flyers get booted, because they are less likely to use the coupons.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s a practice run for an overbooked spaceship Earth.

            The algorithm picks only those who frequent the Establishment often to keep aboard.

      3. RUKidding

        Southwest used to have coupons like that, which you had to take to the airport to redeem. I believe that they’ve changed that policy long ago, and that their coupons are more user-friendly – ie, you can use the whole value of the coupon or part of it to buy future plane tix. Plus I’m pretty sure you can just enter the coupon code online when purchasing your flight.

        Since most airlines have seriously reduced the number of flights per day to various destinations, it’s almost never worthwhile to give up your seat to get the extra coupon “money.” Back in ye olden days when airlines had more flights, it could be a good deal.

        I cannot believe how United handled this situation. I rarely watch those types of videos, but I did watch that one last night. Utterly appalling. I hope that Doctor sues the pants off of United and collects a huge settlement. He deserves every penny he can wring out of them.

        1. Tvc15

          I regularly fly over 60k miles a year and because of consolidation, I’m forced to fly UA out of Portland ME. I almost always connect in Newark and my flight is delayed half the time resulting in missed connections and client meetings. On average, UA service agents are rude and unhelpful. I feel like a slave at the mercy of this horrible airline every time I step into an airport, and I’m not even addressing the TSA charade. I don’t this this is exclusive to UA as Yves has mentioned issues with Delta too. Fed up with domestic air travel and couldn’t have happened to a better company.

        2. David Carl Grimes

          This reminds me very much of how the DNC treated Berniecrats.

          If UA had offered $5K or $10K to get off, I bet lots of people would have willingly been bumped off. Now they’ll have to spend millions rebuilding their brand, not to mention paying the passenger off in a suit.

          I think this policy comes from “TINA” thinking. The airlines are so big and such a cartel that they think customers have no alternative but to travel through UA, no matter how badly they treat their passengers.

          The employee that forcibly removed the doctor was just following orders.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Airfolks dont get paid until the plane leaves the ground…the old days of airline unions being super powerful is long gone…not to attempt to defend any airlines…as the deputizing of airworkers has led them to “process” people like some ferguson cop with a gambling problem…you vill listen…or ve shall hav yu arrested…

            The beatings will continue until more als help us exceed analysts estimates…

            When you have carved up monopoly niches via control of gates and useful landing slots…customer service becomes customer fleecing…

            Dita Beard School of business miss management

    2. Eureka Springs

      United Air… Spreading PTSD one passenger at a time.

      And we no longer even get a bag of peanuts. When I was a kid I got to meet the captain and a tour of the cockpit. Always went home with decks of cards and other gifts. Now I wouldn’t want to escort a kid through an air travel experience without teaching them that this is how things should not be. That this IS a horror movie… whether you get body probed or beaten to a pulp this time or not.

      At least this time someone caught it happening to a white male doctor.

      Since 9-11 I’ve reduced air travel 95 percent. International travel only.

      It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

      1. Linda

        At least this time someone caught it happening to a white male doctor.


        BEIJING — A day after the forced removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight provoked a social media furor in the United States, a similar outcry followed in China, after state-run news outlets here described the man as being of Chinese descent.

        The man’s name has not been released, but another passenger on the flight Sunday said he had complained of being singled out because he was Chinese.

        By Tuesday afternoon, the hashtag “United forcibly removes passenger from plane” was the most popular topic on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, garnering more than 150 million views and more than 100,000 comments. Many Chinese social media users accused United of racism, while others called for a boycott.

        (CNN) A public relations disaster for United Airlines is transforming into an international incident in one of its most important markets.

        Video of a passenger being dragged off a Chicago-Louisville flight, bloodying his nose and leaving him dazed in the process, has gone viral online in China, attracting tens of thousands of outraged posts.

        1. carl

          Ain’t that just like China, always trying to claim all things Vietnamese!

          Reports are circulating that the victim is in fact a medical practitioner in KY, with a degree from Ho Chi Minh University in Saigon.

          As you would expect, tiny Eichmanns around the internet have managed to dig up every problem this person has had in the past two decades and parade it around as proof that the victim totally deserved it and of course that’s what happens if you resist the cops.

          I’ve found air travel genuinely upsetting ever since 9/11, This sure hasn’t helped.

          1. Linda

            Yes, a BBC story mentioned some said Chinese and he might be Vietnamese. Should have posted that one, but an ad was giving my browser trouble.

            Saw a headline just moments ago regarding his “troubled past.” Sure didn’t feel like reading it, so I didn’t. And, yes, we should have expected this, hmm?

            1. Ivy

              Stasi 2.0, now all-volunteer but think of the perks. You may achieve instant Internet fame with the right post, but who keeps the movie rights?

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Many Vietnamese are Chinese.

              They were made boat people because Vietnamese Vietnamese didn’t appreciate small business people, i.e., capitalist Chinese Vietnamese. (Similarly in Killing Fields Cambodia with their Chinese Cambodians).

              The real Vietnamese Vietnamese call themselves the Kinh people.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And now, we have American Americans not liking Chinese Vietnamese, or Vietnamese Chinese (or Vietnamese Chinese American, or Chinese Vietnamese American, or Vietnamese American, etc).

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            In 2013, there was the incident of ‘cheers as passenger (Chinese) punches flight attendant (Chinese).’

            Then, in 2015, ‘two men on China flight punch stewardess who refused to upgrade seats.’

            No justification then, and no justification now.

            But the trendy situation in the land of the Dragon’s Descendants is messy.

          3. oh

            Yup, and there are tiny and not so tiny Eichmans proliferating the US, especially the US Capital.

    3. L

      I’ve experienced that too. Once I took the offer from American to skip a day and while I did get my ticket and my hotel, the meal cupons they gave me were only good at the Airport that day (by then it was 11:30pm). The woman who volunteered just seconds after me, didn’t even get that.

      Regarding the event the United’s CEO released an internal letter which the Guardian has seen in which he explicitly blames the passenger for “being belligerent.” To quote the Guardian’s description:

      “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

      Later on in the article they have this:

      Chicago police said the man became “irate” after he was asked to disembark and that he “fell” when aviation officers “attempted to carry the individual off the flight … His head subsequently struck an armrest causing injuries to his face”.

      United Airlines CEO calls dragged passenger ‘disruptive and belligerent’

      1. Linda

        Why do these airlines sound so unapologetic on social media?

        Why aren’t the CEOs apologizing? Why does no one sound contrite? This isn’t how the outrage cycle is supposed to work!

        When everyone gets mad at Pepsi, Pepsi has to apologize because it is very easy to not drink Pepsi. One must affirmatively choose to drink Pepsi; not drinking Pepsi is the default option. (Though, thanks to consolidation, it’s much harder to avoid Pepsico products entirely than you might think.)

        The major American airlines, though, do not need to do anything to convince people to fly with them, because they all merged and consolidated until there were just four firms controlling the vast majority of domestic flights, and they have determined that it is in their collective best interest not to seriously compete with one another.

        This is called oligopoly, and, for airline shareholders, this is great! It truly is a new golden age of aviation, for people who fly in private jets but own stock in airlines. For the rest of us, this is most of why flying sucks now (the rest of it is the ever-expanding and largely incompetent security state), and also why United is not that worried about you sharing that video of a man being brutally dragged off their plane. They are not embarrassed, and you will not embarrass them. Airlines feel no need to perform the dance of corporate penitence.

        1. RUKidding

          They don’t have to say “sorry” and we can make them do it.

          Nyah nyah nyah.

          That’s certainly how it seems, doesn’t it? Creeps.

          We’re in an age of never admitting that you did anything wrong. This also has to do with the litigation that is surely coming their way. I’m sure there’s loads of law firms out there are quite willing to represent this erstwhile “passenger.”

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          And the new regime is going to gut Amtrak cross-country, handing even more business to said airline oligopoly.

          Coast-to-coast ride-sharing?

        3. Oregoncharles

          Sorry to pour cold water, but the CEO has now issued an apology, with a statement that this behavior is NOT policy. More than a little late.

          That doesn’t really invalidate your point: they’re so monopolized that avoiding any airline on some routes is very difficult. But there’s already an impact on the stock; I’m guessing the pain will be substantial.

        1. Katharine

          This is gratifying, even if temporary:

          Shares in United Airlines’ parent company plummeted on Tuesday, wiping close to $1bn off of the company’s value, a day after a viral video showing police forcibly dragging a passenger off one of its plane became a global news sensation.

          The value of the carrier’s holding company, United Continental Holdings, had fallen over 4% before noon, close to $1bn less than the $22.5bn as of Monday’s close, according to FactSet data.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            In Japan, when they overbook a subway train, I think, they just squeeze the passengers into the sardine can.

            You almost have to be a Sumo wrestler to work at a station over there.

          2. Oregoncharles

            FWIW, I just overheard people at the supermarket talking about this event – at length. In Oregon. United is in SUCH deep doo-doo.

            I was making a mental list of their mistakes; at least 4 or 5; the critical one was calling the police (or whatever they were). Incidentally, even the cops don’t want responsibility for this one; they’ve suspended the guy that did it.

            I’ve been flying for about 60 years – not as often as Yves, but regularly. My whole family are travelers. Airlines NEVER do this. If the flight is overbooked, they pay the bribes and get the volunteers BEFORE boarding. You just don’t drag people out of their seats, especially just because you’ve messed up your crew rotation. The impact on their business, and their stock, is going to be long-term. Incidentally, this is the same airline that didn’t let girls in leggings board. It doesn’t matter that they were flying free: the airline insulted millions of young women. And now this. Glad I don’t work for them.

            Really, if you aren’t the guy who got dragged out – pretty elderly, among other things – this is pretty hilarious. Also unless you’re the CEO, who’s going to be out on his ear, or were in charge of that gate, likewise.

            Ultimately, they have to stop overbooking and maintain backup crew. Maybe this will help with that.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      From the npr link: Airlines are legally allowed to remove passengers from flights for nearly any reason……..

      But united did not “remove” the passenger–officers from The Department of Chicago Aviation, one of the myriad of police forces, presumably publicly funded, that you never even knew existed–did, a point I have no doubt will be made at trial when somebody gets sued for this.

      Did the passenger break a law by refusing to give up his seat? If he did, it would be good to know. Not to mention that, if that’s the case, the plane was filled with lawbreakers.

      Funny, or not, that the word which seemed to be on everyone’s knowing lips several months ago in reference to Donald Trump–fascism–has not found its way into this discussion. State “enforcement” on behalf of incompetent corporations.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Did the passenger break a law by refusing to give up his seat?

        That’s actually a really good question. After all, it IS legal for airlines to overbook, and airlines are legally REQUIRED to prevent people from boarding an overbooked flight that has no seats left. It doesn’t matter if you have a valid ticket. Every passenger MUST have a seat. [FAA rules for safety. You don’t want an unseated passenger to become a missile during severe turbulence.] If the overbooked plane is full, you don’t get to board. Period. If you try to force your way down the gate, you will be arrested. Quite legally. And in overbooking situations, the airlines may block anybody they wish.

        The only difference here is that the passenger was initially allowed to board and was then asked to get back off the plane afterward. That’s not terribly different from being blocked at the gate in the first place, but it’s not identical. Clearly, they never should have let him board, given that the plane was overbooked. Are they allowed to forcibly remove him afterward? I suspect they are, but I don’t know for sure.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          My point in asking the question regards police involvement. What is the basis for law enforcement intervention if no law was broken?

          As the story evolves, it appears that united is attempting some cya explanations, suggesting to me, at least, that what happened was not justified. They are saying that the passenger became “disruptive.” They are also attempting to ameliorate the situation by explaining that the crew was needed in Louisville to staff another flight, and without them united would “lose the revenue” from that flight, shifting the blame from their own incompetence to the victimized passenger.

          What they are not saying, however, is that when you are seated on a flight and are then asked to vacate your seat and take a different flight to accommodate another passenger, you are breaking the law if you refuse. The law they are citing is one which limits the compensation that can be paid to a “bumped” passenger presumably to explain why they didn’t just offer a price that somebody would have been glad to take.

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            If the flight crew was needed in Louisville to keep a later flight there from from being cancelled, then I think United was obligated to make room for them on the flight, even if that means removing a passenger from the plane. If they didn’t, they could have stranded an entire flight’s worth of people in Louisville. The lost revenue? That’s a secondary concern. You don’t strand 200+ people in town B so that one more guy in town A can make his flight on time.

            Of course, this entire problem could have been resolved with an extra standby crew in Louisville, or a more generous offer to passengers to get somebody to disembark. Given the atrocious optics of this event, I’d bet that United is considering both options for the future.

            1. Vatch

              a more generous offer to passengers to get somebody to disembark.

              Yes, that would have been simple. As others have commented, the $800 that they offered people might have been in the form of inconvenient and insulting coupons, rather than real money.

              United could have chartered a plane to Louisville to get the 4 employees where they needed to be. That would cost real money, but probably less than United will lose when future passengers choose other airlines.

              1. oh

                The oligopoly has carved out individual market segments so that it’s not easy for one to choose another airline. This applies especially to smaller towns that are not destinations for only one of the four majors.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            There is so much shit reporting I want to throw up.

            First, it is not clear that these Chicago Aviation Department “security officers” were real police, with police powers. They need to be sworn in with specific authority under applicable local regs.

            Second, as a reader pointed out, citing a lawyer who quoted FAA regs, airlines can require a passenger with a reserved seat he has paid for who has boarded and is in his assigned seat only in certain circumstances. None of them applied here. In other words, NPR and others are spouting disinformation to say that the airline has unlimited authority. They are regulated, and the passenger have certain rights under the regs (shocker!).

            Third, the claim that the passenger was “belligerent:” was United BS. He refused to comply with a bogus request to leave. He raised his voice, which is hardly all that extreme a response.

        2. m

          Here’s a thought United could buy tickets for the 4 employees on another airline if it really was that much of a problem. That guy needs to sue the pants off these people and the next time these airlines over book they should be very careful.
          They probably lost the poor guys bags too

        3. witters

          “Clearly, they never should have let him board, given that the plane was overbooked.”

          Huh? Why HIM? (Why not the ‘flight staff’?)

        4. Jon

          The plane wasn’t overbooked. This is a mischaracterization by United. They needed to fly four employees to Louisville and decided to remove paying customers to facilitate this. So the plane was only “overbooked” because United couldn’t get their crew management sh*t together.

      2. Mel

        If there were a law, it would probably be trespass. Somehow different when it’s not a householder trying to apply it.

      3. optimader

        Traditionally ORD was where the CPD parked LEO that didn’t pass their physicals (overweight), drove a police car over a curb at speed or into a body of water or some such stupid act that got their supervisor chewed out–or were on the edge of retirement and had some associated issues like a bad ticker.

        How things change

    5. oho

      some relevant points not mentioned in rushed, haphazard “lame stream media” articles.

      the fundamental error is that those passengers should never have been seated until the issue w/bumpings was settled…

      a) According to United’s contract for carriage, it’s implied that passengers have much stronger rights once they’re seated/boarded (see Rule 21 and Rule 25 if you’re a United customer). Though I doubt there is much federal case law about cases where ejection happens post-boarding due to no fault of the passenger.

      b) Chicago Dept. of Aviation security, not Chicago Police Dept., manhandled the passengers—-not that that’s any solace. I just like to be pedantic.

      1. flora

        My bet is that United Airlines will disclaim any responsibility, especially legal responsibility, by saying the actual airline involved was not UA but was a UA subcontractor’s airline. Buck passing 101.

    6. cocomaan

      From an economic perspective, making flying miserable is poison. When people are suppressed from traveling either out of fear for person or just fearing inconvenience, the economy is going to suffer.

    7. fred

      Delta invited me to deplane the last time I flew back from FL to Detroit. They moved me to 1st class in American on the next flight out. I arrived home 4 hours later than scheduled and with an $800 a voucher. That paid for my trip to Paris in December. I’ld be happy to do the same again for four hours of inconvenience.

    8. Prufrock

      I only fly a couple times a year, but this surprised me. I took a $450 voucher from United last year (usable on a single flight), plus they put me up in a decent hotel (probably 3* on a 4* scale) and gave me some money for dinner. Forcibly removing a passenger without offering the maximum first is just sooo stupid.

    9. nippersmom

      Merriam-Webster‏Verified account @MerriamWebster

      ?’Volunteer’ means “someone who does something without being forced to do it.”

      Even Merriam Webster is calling out United and their ridiculous spin.

  10. fresno dan

    ‘Syria will implode if Assad goes’, says Peter Ford BBC (furzy)

    I am certain that the Syrian people will view us as liberators and throw flowers.

    MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: America remembers September 11, 2001. In Iraq, six months ago, the war began with shock and awe. Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on MEET THE PRESS:
    (Videotape, March 16):
    VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.
    MR. RUSSERT: People like Ahmed Chalabi, former Iraqis who came in and briefed—you talked about—did they sell us a bill of goods? Did they tell us this would be easier, that we’d be welcomed with flowers, and not the kind of armed resistance we’re being met with?
    VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think they felt—certainly, they were advocates of the U.S. action because they wanted to liberate Iraq from, you know, what has been one of the worst dictatorships of the 20th century, the Saddam Hussein regime. And I see and receive evidence on a fairly regular basis. I mean, if you go out and look at what’s happening on the ground, you’ll find that there is widespread support.
    Based on our resounding success in all our mideast interventions, how can we not overthrow Assad???

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The local tradition is, when they really appreciate your liberation, they build a ziggurat for you, not just throwing flowers.

  11. jefemt

    Re: WAPO corporate shares in lieu of taxes. I was surprised to see this came from Dean Baker.
    Granted, I am prone to the cynics ‘follow the money’ worldview. It seems this just adds gas to the fox-in-the-henhouse fire.
    Wouldn’t this simply deepen the existing collusive fascist reality of the Neocon inside-the-beltway NWO? Seems if anything we need to create and deepen some arm’s- length distance?

      1. Oregoncharles

        I thought preferred shares didn’t have voting rights – or is that way outdated?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Normally, they don’t but you can define the rights of preferred stock to have votes or lesser voting rights. But unless someone says otherwise, it’s pretty safe to assume they don’t.

    1. oh

      Each time the US acquires shares in some company (due to whatever reason) they make sure they sell them at the right time for the company and at the right time to NOT make any profit.

  12. fresno dan

    Neocons Have Trump on His Knees Robert Parry, Consortium News

    But,” Kagan added, “Thursday’s action needs to be just the opening salvo in a broader campaign not only to protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime but also to reverse the DOWNWARD spiral of U.S. POWER and influence in the Middle East and THROUGHOUT the world. A single missile strike unfortunately cannot undo the damage done by the Obama administration’s policies over the past six years.”
    Kagan, who cut his teeth in the Reagan administration running a State Department propaganda shop on Central America, has never been particularly interested in nuance or truth, so he wouldn’t care that Obama pulled back from attacking Syria in summer 2013, in part, because his intelligence advisers told him they lacked proof that Assad was responsible for a mysterious sarin attack. (Since then, the evidence has indicated that the attack was likely a provocation by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate with help from Turkish intelligence.)
    But groupthinks die hard – and pretty much every Important Person in Official Washington just knows that Assad did carry out that sarin attack, just like they all knew that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMDs in 2003. So, it follows in a kind of twisted logical way that they would build off the fake history regarding the 2013 Syria-sarin case and apply it to the new groupthink that Assad has carried out this latest attack, too. Serious fact-finding investigations are not needed; everyone just “knows.
    There was a great post yesterday about how intervention has turned the Syrian civil war from a small, limited fight into a years long bloodbath because of all the interventionists. The US can lob a few cruise missiles and just keep the war going – WHY, a cynic might think that IS the policy… It is sad that the only hope of thwarting involvement in Syria is that the wacko neo-cons will want to put boots on the ground.

    “…..not only to protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime but also to reverse the downward spiral of U.S. power and influence in the Middle East….”
    I wonder how many beautiful, little babies have died….but somehow the people dying due to US intervention never get much attention…
    I have a difficult time believing Kagan gives two figs about the consequences when the slaughter is precipitated by US actions.

      1. polecat

        It’s because of the awful policies put forward by people like this that ‘the holocaust’ rings hollow for many !

    1. flora

      Interesting that no CIA or IC guys were in the released photo of Trump and his advisors.

      “Even when the U.S. government is presenting false information, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech laying out the bogus evidence of Iraq hiding WMDs, CIA Director George Tenet was seated behind Powell to lend credibility to the falsehoods.

      “But in the photo of Trump and his advisers, no one from the intelligence community is in the frame. You see Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, strategic adviser Steve Bannon, son-in-law Jared Kushner and a variety of other officials, including some economic advisers who were at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

      “However, you don’t see Pompeo or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or any other intelligence official. Even The New York Times noted the oddity in its Saturday editions, writing: “If there were C.I.A. and other intelligence briefers around, … they are not in the picture.”

      It appears the Blob is not uniform in outlook. Are there neocon vs. not-neocon factions ? (MSM reporting appears uniformly neocon.)

      1. Carolinian

        That story goes even further and Parry claims via an intel source that Pompeo told Trump the CIA did not think the Syrians were not guilty and yet Trump attacked anyway. If true this is terribly damning of Trump and I say that as a sometime Trump defender. Chess playing or no this attack was a big, big mistake.

        1. fresno dan

          April 11, 2017 at 11:48 am

          Minor point. You used a double negative there Carolinian – “the CIA did NOT think the Syrians were NOT guilty”
          I take it you meant the CIA thought that Assad did not use chemical weapons.
          Now, if that is true, I would love to see that analysis…

          1. Carolinian

            Thanks for the correction. Pollen getting to me. Here’s the exact quote from Parry

            a source told me that Pompeo had personally briefed Trump on April 6 about the CIA’s belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was likely not responsible

    2. Alex Morfesis

      The kagan/nulands need to go find doctor ruth and fix their broken marriage…all this noisy anger is probably from a non existent or faltered relationship…”a” train to 181st street..take the elevator up to ft washington park, turn left to 181st, hudson view dinner…great place for a chat away from the acela vanity press paparazzi…

    1. vidimi

      to be fair, bombing a rebel munition depot with lethal gas does not absolve assad. you are responsible for the targets you bomb and the impact that will have on nearby civilians.

      1. pretzelattack

        assad would be responsible for the rebels storing chemical weapons, which we are assured they don’t have?

          1. vidimi

            if the US bombed a target which killed everyone nearby they would also shoulder some blame. obviously, i am not claiming that assad is responsible for those gases in the first place, but he’s responsible for “liberating” them.

            1. MoiAussie

              And just how much responsibility did the US take for their Al Jina mosque strike last month that killed 56 people and injured over 100? They denied they had hit it. They’ve yet to admit that the mistargeting was due to their poor/outdated intelligence. This probably constitutes a war crime.

              Or for the more than 100 Iraqi civilians killed in US air strikes on March 17 in Mosul? The blamed the jihadis for storing explosives.

              Blatant double standard

              1. vidimi

                i’m not arguing for double standards nor that two rights make a wrong. the US is consistently wrong and has no right to interfere in the world. that is totally independent to assad being wrong to bomb targets that end up killing those around them.

      2. Pat

        Really? Somehow I think this is yet another issue where America has so blasted to the bottom of the abyss they have no right to demand better of others.

        (And there is no reason to believe that the Syrian government knew the rebels terrorists had stored their chemical weapons there, first reports were an ammunitions depot, period. Unlike say the hospitals we have bombed.)

      3. a different chris

        I have never been near any thing like the Middle East, neither bombs nor chemical weapons.

        That said, I have a heck of a time envisioning explaining to an alien life form why running thousands of bombing sorties is OK but one vague chemical weapon attack is beyond humanity. I don’t see the sort of degree of difference, which seems to be many many magnitudes, that people at least pretend to attach to these things. War is terrible. Stop doing it.

        How about an attack with a happy chemical, a weaponized sort-of-marijuana hit plus a bit of motor control loss, that wouldn’t kill anybody but instead reduce them to flopping around and giggling for a few hours? I guess that would be the worst thing of all, right?

      4. m

        Problem here is these guys plant themselves and weapons in the middle of civilians. Then when Putin & Assad try a day of amnesty to allow civilians to leave war areas ISIS/moderate rebels/ Al Nusra gun them down on the way out.

      5. Ernesto Lyon

        Only if the rebels registered the contents of the supply depot with the Syrian government.

  13. Eureka Springs

    There was a great post yesterday about how intervention has turned the Syrian civil war from a small, limited fight into a years long bloodbath because of all the interventionists.

    I’ve never been able to find evidence of the so-called ‘civil war’. There were demonstrations, there was drought and food problems, etc. But the protests were small and the spark into violence seems to have been snipers on rooftops who took out police during demos (sound familiar – Ukraine? Kagan/Nulland) intentionally spinning things out of control.

    There is not now, nor ever was civil war in Syria.

    1. vidimi

      during the arab spring, america and her lapdogs only ever backed two of the uprisings, which just happened to be the only ones where the opposition was armed: libya and syria. perhaps america is just very lucky. more likely, she makes her own luck.

      1. RUKidding

        No kidding. But try telling that to almost any US citizen, and you’ll get so much propaganda so fast that your ears will bleed about how how “horrible” Assad is.

        I agree with Eureka Springs. There were issues and problems in Syria. And it seemed as if Assad wasn’t doing the greatest job of handling those issue.

        Then, voila, we had “civil” war, and for reasons never clearly explained, Team USA just “had to” get involved. Ala incubator babies in Kuwait or something.

        1. Byron the Light Bulb

          46 years of the Assad family terrorizing…well, everyone. Then…bam, out of nowhere, the United States sends the most callous improv troupe ever to stage a gas attack and generate civilian victims. All so the United States can seize the opportunity by…waffling between contradictory foreign policies and flexing a war-fatigued expeditionary force. Can the mighty Wurlitzer play any Black Sabbath?

          1. RUKidding

            Agree that there’s huge problems with the Assad family. Why do WE have to “solve” it?

            And then no one wants to be responsible for the collateral damage inflicted on Syrian citizens by this mess.

            Assad was bad, but how much worse has this stage managed “civil war” been for the citizens there?? And no one wants to accept the refugees who’ve been terrorized by bombings and worse because they might be “terrorists.”

            What. A. Mess. Brought to you by the MIC/DeepState/the Oligarchs who made a KILLING on Raytheon stocks the other day.

            1. Byron the Light Bulb

              There was a time when the United States worked toward rising above the Hobbesian all-versus-all violence of mercantilism and petty national interests. If acceptable conduct among a family of nations had to be enforced at the end of a gun, then so be it. And every thesis has an antithesis, so even rogue nations have a place in the global order. However, chemical weapons, like genocide, is indiscriminate and beyond the pale. The US might be hypocrites in such matters, well, tough. Do you believe in nothing?

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                The United States of America? When was this golden age? Did it involve a President who dropped Agent Orange everywhere?

                We slaughtered Canadian villages during the war of 1812 when we invaded. I should drop the “we” because the people of my old country did kick American ass in that conflict.

            2. polecat

              Everyone’s got a case of GAS !!!!!!!

              …. and I’m not talking of the toxic kind either ….

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            I can safely assume you aren’t American, French, or British because “terror” is largely the past time of these three countries.

            Do you realize that the people who read this blog are familiar with “Remember the Maine”? Agent orange? White phosphorus? American support for apartheid? Indian genocide? The Iraq War?

          3. meeps

            Byron the Light Bulb @ 11:23 am

            Can the Mighty Wurlitzer play any Black Sabbath?

            Yes! If you listen to fools, the Mob Rules. With War Pigs reprise.

        2. bwilli123

          ” There were issues and problems in Syria. And it seemed as if Assad wasn’t doing the greatest job of handling those issue.”
          True, but he didn’t actually realize at the time what he was up against. As the Wikileaks cables show, the US had a consistent, duplicitous and furtive anti-Assad policy from at least 2006, and which only intensified over time.

    2. cocomaan

      Thomas E Ricks said, in his book about the war and the “Surge” in Iraq, that “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened.” That was in 2009.

      This is just a continuation of the war in Iraq. The borders between countries in that area are all but meaningless.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scientists identify parts of brain involved in dreaming Guardian (Brian C)

    Now, one’s dreams become vulnerable as well?

    Every time scientists discover something, the first questions are

    1. Who paid for the research
    2. Odds bad guys will use it badly to your disadvantage

    1. Dandelion

      And also: have the results been replicated? Most likely no.
      Was the study sample that led to the discovery properly constructed and sizeable? Most likely no.
      Did similar studies NOT find what was discovered and not touted because viewed as “failed” studies? Most likely yes.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    An Indian court says glaciers and rivers are ‘living entities.’ Could the same approach work in the US? Christian Science Monitor (Glenn F)

    Are forest fires living entities as well?

    Are tsuanmi as well?

    Thunder? And are some thunder more powerful or….divine? Will some humans (invariably) worship Thunder?

    Dewdrops and starlight are waiting for you, beautiful dreamer…the whole world is living, wake unto it…

    1. Eclair

      Ah, Prime, joke you should not about fire, water, earth and air. Benign they are and necessary for our existence. But, disrespected, injured, misused; angry and destructive they become; wild fires, tsunami, floods, tornados, lightening bolts, earth quakes. Throw an offering of tobacco into the sacred fire, set out a bowl of porridge for the local water nymph, walk softly upon the breast of Mother earth. Hedge your bets.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do we laugh at ‘primitive’ people being awed by thunder?

      Remember ‘worship’ is a word invented later. Those people never had that word in mind.

      Maybe they carved images of thunder…was it to record a pattern, to study ‘scientifically?’

      Maybe they bowed down to it…’bow’ is again a word, and thus a concept, invented later. Who knows, maybe they were trying to be close to nature, close to the ground, to hug it (without violating someone’s patent)?

      Who are we to say they were primitive?

      1. craazyboy

        I for one bow to Thor, Poseidon, Hephaestus and Aether, and think that anyone that does not is hopelessly suicidal.

    3. polecat

      Only if they can be ‘corporatized’ first …. ??

      Some rights good … Other rights even better !

      1. fosforos

        Justice William O. Douglas said it best: a river is a living community and as such has legal standing, legal rights.

  16. vidimi

    i can’t imagine that passenger removal happening anywhere in europe, asia, south america, or even africa. the US is exceptional.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kremlin, angry at Syria missile strike, says Putin won’t meet Tillerson Reuters. The headline verges on misreporting. For Tillerson to meet Putin would be a departure from diplomatic protocol. Tillerson is meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov. The fact that Putin “often” met with Kerry does not mean it was a given, and there’s no evidence that a meeting had been set up and was cancelled, which would have been a show of unhappiness.

    So, it’s not a show of Russian unhappiness.

    The headline, though, urges the reader to be unhappy.

    Bottom line, the right people who need to be made unhappy likely will be.

    Propaganda grade: A+.

    The guy in charge of that is admitted and can get further education tuition-free now.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kremlin, angry at Syria missile strike, says Putin won’t meet Tillerson Reuters. The headline verges on misreporting. For Tillerson to meet Putin would be a departure from diplomatic protocol. Tillerson is meeting his counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov. The fact that Putin “often” met with Kerry does not mean it was a given, and there’s no evidence that a meeting had been set up and was cancelled, which would have been a show of unhappiness.

    So, it’s not a show of Russian unhappiness.

    The headline, though, urges the reader to be unhappy.

    Bottom line, the right people who need to be made unhappy likely will be.

    Propaganda grade: A+.

    The guy in charge of that is admitted and can get further education tuition-free now.

    1. vidimi

      i wonder how much of tillerson’s meetings in russia will be about exxon drilling rights in the russian arctic vs everything else.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Schumer Backs Off Appointing Airbnb Lobbyist To FTC, After IBTimes Questions International Business Times

    This is the reason, I believe, a Sanders administration is likely to have an exact same problem as Trump’s – Schumer will be there to put lots and lots of f Swamp creatures in place to ‘help run the government.’

    There will be plenty of ‘WTF, another betrayal!!!”

    Plus something similar to Russian hacking to keep Sanders in line…if we don’t see them, it probably means he’s captured.

    “When a genuine threat appears, you may see it by this sign: all the main stream media and the IC in confederacy against him.”

    1. Kurt Sperry

      In one sense, it hardly would have mattered if Sanders had been able to swiftly implement significant parts of his agenda. The act of opposing those for both Ds & Rs would have weakened them by quickly drawing down their political capital. Those Ds & Rs are as we know bleeding out their support continually anyway, with independent voters a growing, larger plurality than ever, I think. It would also, time after time, force people pretending to be “progressive” out naked into the unflattering florescent light of reality. “Clarifying” to use Lambert’s term. Making the neolibs and neocons have to publicly defend their unpopular policies again and again against starkly contrasting popular ideas is a winning strategy even if you lose every battle along the way. Every time you push, the opposition is incrementally weakened and you are strengthened.

  20. LT

    Re: Social Security

    SS has been protected by serving a large part of the population (if not all) and people EXPECTING those services. Can’t help but think one of the biggest daggers to the program will be a growing population of people that come from places that never had such expectations.

  21. crittermom

    SS: Has anyone on here signed the petition besides me so far?
    And yes, I did leave a comment for Trump, as well as passing the link along to friends to sign.

    I had some small hope Trump would be better than Hellary as POTUS (tho’ I voted for neither).
    I wish he’d quit proving me wrong.

    1. RUKidding

      We all had that small hope re Trump, and I, for one, sincerely gave the man his “chance” to prove himself. Frankly, I’m 99.99% done with giving Trump “a chance.”

      As I feared, he’s massively incompetent, imo. I think the MIC/DeepState/the Oligarchs have boxed him in. Home and hosed. Done like a dinner.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

      1. cocomaan

        The transition from human being to lizard person does not take long.

        Unfortunately, you would have seen Bernie Sanders do the same 180, I think.

        1. vidimi

          the only way to avoid such a situation would be to clean house resolutely and completely inside all of the agencies, removing their most senior roles and replacing them with trusted insiders. don’t even bother running if you don’t have any candidates. the problem is doing that without getting yourself killed.

        2. neo-realist

          Sanders may have done the 180 in Foreign Policy, but would never kowtow to a SS privatization scheme. Given the same majority congress of right wing yahoos to work with, a Sanders administration may have been able to maintain the status quo.

          1. jrs


            many, many problems are systematic and not about the personalities at all, but the whole Sander’s would have been as bad as Trump just doesn’t read as plausible.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              We shouldn’t under-estimate the other side.

              Given two you-can’t-refuse offers, he would have to choose one. Any movie script writer can come with a number of scenarios.

        3. jrs

          Bernie Sanders may have at worst sold out on some things, and I’d kind of expect that, but nontheless his positions on domestic economic policy at least would still be tempered by his basic decency. Trump is another story entirely, he never had any to begin with.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not with his friend Schumer there to help him.

            Once you have the ring, can you not be ‘changed,’ like most of us, unless you’re Frodo?

          2. fosforos

            Were Ebert and Scheidemann (Social-Democrats from the same mold Sanders was made in) that much better, because of their “decency” in regard to social policy, than Ludendorff and Hindenburg? Sure. But tell that to Luxemburg and Eichner and Haase and Liebknecht…

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Shortly after his inauguration, Trump held several “campaign-style” rallies for which he was resoundingly criticized as unpresidential. Shades of things to come. It was postulated at the the time that he needed the adulation of the adoring crowds wearing MAGA hats–that he “fed” off of it. The crowds obliged.

        I suppose it’s too much to hope that he now realizes that he couldn’t expect the same reaction today. He has traded his popular support for the maniacally fickle, conditional support of the neocons and msm, both of which will continue their blackmail as the price of keeping their relentless character assassination at bay.

        Trump reportedly was “experienced” at dealing with the mafia as a new york real estate developer. I continue to hope that the similarities will become apparent, including the unassailable fact that these criminals will never be satisfied and the appeaser always loses.

        1. Carolinian

          Experienced at kowtowing to the Mafia according to David Cay Johnston. Of course every builder in NY probably does the same thing.

          However I agree that the blame here goes at least as much to the wackadoo Putin Derangees.

  22. fresno dan

    Trump is hardly the first president to campaign on peace and govern in war. Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t campaign as an isolationist, but he won the Democratic nomination in part on the strength of his opposition to the Iraq war, and he pledged to avoid “dumb wars” and to seek international partnerships. As president, however, Obama drew criticism from the left and right for being slow to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for relying heavily on drone strikes and special operations (often without explicit congressional approval), and for ordering airstrikes in Libya in 2011. George W. Bush campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, advocating for fewer nation-building efforts and bringing troops back from the Balkans; history, of course, turned out very differently. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson ran on a promise not to expand the conflict in Vietnam and then did just that. Perhaps the starkest historical example is Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 re-election campaign slogan: “He kept us out of the war.” In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and joined World War I. Intervening events, most notably in the case of Bush and 9/11, have driven some of these changes. But there are other forces — both political and practical — at work.

    Not like anyone thinks that WWI led to WWII. And that US interventionist has made the world heaven on earth….
    A cynic might think that war or peace is the most important issue for a representative government to make, and if the people aren’t sovereign on this issue, than the whole exercise of elections is rather pointless…but I’m just a cynic.

    1. oho

      >>>Not like anyone thinks that WWI led to WWII.

      Can’t be proved, but I feel that the Europe would’ve been much better off if UK/France + Germany just fought to an exhausted standstill in 1918 without the 1st neocon Woodrow Wilson, and American doughboys.

      Versus the vindictive peace that UK/France imposed in 1919.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Vindictive peace against germany…the Versailles bernays sauce…treaty of Frankfurt where France paid a 5 billion dollar indemnity and gave up territories…german lovers usually forget that one…that 5 billion being 5 billion more than germany has ever paid…germany never paid one nickel towards Versailles debts…it was all fresh usa loans…the loans, unlike the drip drip accounting nonsense being “accrued” to Greece, das Deutschland got substantially more in loans…and then never paid those back either…

        soon the history books will read poland invaded Germany and began world war 2…those poor suffering germans…as it turns out, apparently the new German folklore is ike reopened the gas chambers and killed millions of germans just after the war…must be true…and have spent my share of nights cuddled up with german born women so it is not as though I hate german people…just history is fragile enough without the added notion the one who lost the war after being the aggressor has the right to make excuses…

        history will not be kind to this generation of americans either…

      2. vidimi

        i think the peace treaty was completely botched as it was far too harsh on the german populace, who had no say in the war; and far too lenient on the aristocrats who perpetrated the great crime. of course, fighting would have to have gone on for longer as the german elites would never accept terms that were punitive to them personally, but doing so would have prevented them from controlling the narrative afterwards.

  23. Byron the Light Bulb

    The Sater article is the most ridiculous piece of grey propaganda I’ve seen in awhile. And as black propaganda, it is a laundry heap of failure. On a competent, professional level, it should appear to written by a friendly source, “friendly”, as in at least genial, helpful, and not by a surly day-drinking Dynamo FC supporter. Even the antisemitism is hackneyed. Vladik Surkov is burning these guys out.

    1. a different chris


      1) No “Sater” article, are you referencing the Saker?
      2) I don’t know what you mean by gray propaganda
      3) I don’t know what you mean by black…
      4) I have no idea what you are saying about who it should “appear to be written by”, I am guessing it refers somehow to 2 and 3
      5) day-drinking Dynamo FC supporter? WTF?

      Can’t comment on the anti-semitism b/c see #1. I did google Vladik Surkov and I guess this is an anti-Russian rant?

      Here’s a suggestion: just type “Russians are bad, m’kay” and we will get it.

    2. Yusu

      I agree with Byron, and it makes me question Yves’ decision making. I don’t think it should be in links, much less given the must read tag. The little valuable information is available elsewhere, without the antisemitism, questionable claims, and pro-Russian propaganda.

      1. Prufrock

        I skimmed quickly, and thought it was worth it just for the photo of the Bolivian representative with the picture of Colin Powell. Where is the anti-semitism? Maybe it is there and I skimmed past it.

        Unlike, for example “black lives matter”, which I accept as referring to a clearly oppressed and mistreated minority in the US, “antisemetic” is becomming more and more like “men’s rights”. Sure, bad things happen, but give up the oppressed minority shtick.

      2. Massinissa

        Hes anti-Semitic, but this one article was not anti-Semitic. Save the claims of anti-Semitism for Sakers articles that really are genuinely anti-Semitic, which have been numerous.

        1. Carolinian

          He’s only anti-Semitic if you think anti-Zionist = anti-Semitic (and obviously you do). Of course those who see anti-Semitism everywhere also think NC, Counterpunch, any site that offers criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. When asked, one of the PropOrNot guys said perception of anti-Semitism was his main criterion for including websites on his censorship list.

          Here’s suggesting that censorship of ideas, however controversial or claimed to be controversial, is anti-American. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the ACLU.

          1. vidimi

            i’m not sure about that. i recall him mentioning the jewishness of people he did not like when it served no other purpose.

    3. ChrisFromGeorgia

      I re-scanned the article that Yves linked and found exactly four mentions of the word “Israel.” And none of them appeared anti-semitic to me, unless you are referring to this statement:

      “What about the Israelis, do they really believe that dealing with Assad is worse than dealing with this Caliphate of Takfiristan?! But then, we can expect anything from folks with such a long history of making really bad decisions.”

      Note that I am not counting comments as I have no idea whether they are moderated, and the author is definitely not responsible for what some yahoo might say.

      I did notice the author throw around the term “Anglo-Zionist” a few times, which I find to be a bit melodramatic and probably off base, but hardly anti-semitic. I suspect what is driving the bizarre and incoherent Trump administration is not defending Israel, but rather pure stupidity and hubris.

      1. JustAnObserver

        Any and all criticism of Israel *as a state* is, by MSM definition, anti-semitic. We know this ‘cos AIPAC says so and who are we, mere commenters on a blog, to question that. /s

        1. sid_finster

          Apparently if I question Nazi actions to expand Greater Germany, I must be anti-german.

          1. Massinissa

            Actually, they WOULD have said that. And then persecuted you for your politics like they did the unionists and commies.

      2. fosforos

        Unfortunately, writing very recently on the Russian Revolution, this Saker type called the “February Revolution” a conspiracy of Liberals and Freemasons to overthrow the Tsar (known affectionately to his subjects as Nicholas The Bloody) and prevent an imminent Russian Victory over the Central Powers. He then went on depict the “October Revolution” as a Marxist Conspiracy by what he called “the Lenin-Trotsky gang.” His catchphrase “Anglo-Zionist” shows him to be a Larouchite antisemite, a monarchist, a BlackHundrednik. None of which, of course, invalidates his military analyses, it just demands a certain…skepticism.

        1. Massinissa

          The Freemasons part is arguably the strangest part to me. Like what the hell? What is the evidence they had that much power that they could overthrow a government?

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I call bullshit. I just Googled and nothing comes up when I Google under the Vineyard of the Saker site for “Freemason” or “Freemasons” that is recent, and no posts with “Freemason” or “Freemasons” + “February Revolution”

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Mark Ames, who know Russia well and is no Putin fan, though it was sound. And in fact, although I must confess I forget the particular incident, a show of some Russian technology in the Middle East caught military analysts aback. It was much better than they assumed, and they had developed it at pretty lower cost. So his general claim that the Russians work to keep their capabilities under wraps looks to be accurate.

      1. craazyboy

        Probably this, from the last Syrian flareup. The Kalibr is make US worry for $4 Billion greenback battleship and $13 Billion greenback aircraft carrier. Good part is all airplane sink on carrier too. Russia make missile for free because give good deal to Russia.

        “On October 7, the Russian Gepard-class frigate Dagestan and three small Buyan-class corvettes sailing in the Caspian Sea unleashed a volley of twenty-six Kalibr cruise missiles from their Vertical Launch Systems. The nine-meter long missiles soared nine hundred miles over Iranian and Iraqi territory before slamming into targets into eleven targets in Syria, hitting a mix of ISIS fighters and Free Syrian Army rebels. ”

    5. Massinissa

      Whats grey propaganda and whats black propaganda? Also whats FC?

      Many people will have no idea what you are talking about.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        Grey propaganda is not sourced and inaccurate BS. Black propaganda is an adversary’s info organ masquerading as friendly domestic news. Dynamo FC, football club, is the Moskva soccer team historically supported by police and intel siloviki [KGB, FSB]. Moskva CSKA is supported by the army. Russian social circles were/are stratified by occupation. The Moskva KGB families were very elite.

    6. Alex Morfesis

      Byron…saker and his thoughts are important to absorb…if you want to live in an echo chamber, google has 115 (actually probably 85…lots of duplicates) censors at duke univ website for you to absorb…russia is physically the largest country in the world, spanning three continents…yo ignore her is to prepare for a premature funeral…personally amused by the secret nazi ancient alien technology blah blah of magically taking down airplanes and missles…200 km…well…the russians have to divert funds to make believe weapons too as it is not just an American thing…we have ms Lindsey graham, they have saker

        1. MoiAussie

          It’s easy to beat up on the Saker, who incidentally lives in the US, for his background, stridency, personality quirks, tendency to run with conspiracy theories, and occasionally extreme views. But he has valuable insights, access to interesting and unusual sources, a well-grounded set of values, and he reveals things that are otherwise hard to uncover. For example, his site was an extremely useful resource for understanding what was actually happening in the Donbass during the height of the conflict. I believe he has a genuine commitment to outing the truth.
          One must learn how to read his public contributions to separate the wheat from the chaff, but to dismiss him as a propaganda outlet is a very superficial response.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Raz-putin has been had…the US of a had submitted a budget reducing the army by 75 billion just a few days before he made his “bold move” against a tin can set of paraders masquerading as the Ukrainian military…crimea had a bond payment due(it is/was the autonomous province of crimea) which they would have defaulted on…the kyevskis had zero interest in investing in crimea…raz-putin could have sat back…let them default and been able to laugh as they begged him for natural gas…instead he gets to burn through reserves and waste resources helping american military firms reverse the 75 billion dollar reduction, and plays along…one might ask if there is some chunk of change he is betting on futures and american military firms…just kidding…actually not…

            No one in europe is concerned about russia…there is no rush to arms…

            Again..the us of a was about to reduce its army to a size smaller than we had prior to ww2…

            If the great evil genius raz-putin was thinking straight, he would simply have waited until about now to unleash his secret ancient alien technology superweapons on us poor humans…

            He is an idiot who has scored “victories” with his great air force and missles against people who have barely some used kalishnikovs to play with…much like the great Luftwaffe was so glorious in shooting down spaniards from way up high during the spanish civil war, but then lost 25% of its airforce in the first 2 weeks in poland, before russia came along and saved the day for the great german war machine in poland…if stalin had simply sat it out two more weeks…german adventures in ww2 would have died at krakow…bah humbug…gonna go learn how to play the guitar…

  24. roadrider

    Re; United incident

    And do not kid yourselves, there would have been no accountability ex smartphones

    Not buying this. Plenty of eyewitnesses plus the fact that ETs had to remove the guy on a stretcher. Did he knock himself out?

    IMNSHO there is still no excuse for “smart” (I prefer to call them stupid) phones which, King for a Day, I would banish from the face of the earth as overpriced, addictive, narcissistic playthings designed to extract rents and destroy the last vestiges of personal privacy we have. Not only that, public phone have now gone the way of the dodo since everyone is now, willing or not, expected to carry one of those infernal devices.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One other possibility – ex smartphones, the case could be proven via NSA files.

      Though that’s not a good reason to want surveillance.

    2. Massinissa

      As a undergrad university student, I’m really tired of people using their devices in classes that they are paying for. Such a pointless distraction. I still have a flip phone for those rare occasions when I need to make a phone call or text message.

    3. Vatch

      Not buying this. Plenty of eyewitnesses plus the fact that ETs had to remove the guy on a stretcher. Did he knock himself out?

      They would have said that he started the violence. They would say that any passengers who disagreed with that assertion were not sitting in a place where they could see what was happening.

      I agree that smartphones can be VERY annoying, but sometimes, as in this case, their usefulness exceeds their nuisance level.

      1. roadrider

        Assuming “they” means the airline and the cops, how could they contradict what everyone else saw? And if people were not in a position to see with their eyes how could they possibly have taken meaningful photos of the event?

        1. roadrider

          And also, the cops and the airline could not argue that people were not sitting close to see if they actually were. All the witnesses would have to do is state their seat assignment.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Come on, they’d have been told the shouting was a cover story, and they can request a grievance form at deplaning.

            That must have been one bummer of a flight to complete anyway. When I think of Peter Lorre being detrained/deplaned/unpersoned, I’m not used to thinking ‘well, what did you expect from the Americans?’

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Jesus Christ, how the hell would the press have found these people? The only reason he was reboarded was the videos. If they had kept him off, with no video, the plane would have taken off without him. United would get/make everyone on its side tell the same story, even assuming the media found out.

            With no video, what do you have? Angry old Vietnamese guy with busted lip saying United security crew beat him up. Are you seriously telling me anyone from the press would have believed him without the video? And with the plane taking off, there would be no way for the press to track passengers down.

            1. FluffytheObeseCat

              Exactly. Without video going viral immediately, in a way that even phone videos couldn’t 3 years ago, this would have been a footnote. It would have been hazily related by commenters on “chat rooms” or Reddit for a day or two, would never have gone national, and then the whole issue would have vanished into the memory hole.

              It begs the question of how many other similar incidents have gone under reported in the past ~5-10 years.

        2. witters

          “Assuming “they” means the airline and the cops, how could they contradict what everyone else saw?”

          I see you have not spent much time in court, under charge.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Wowsers. You really don’t understand the media, do you? And you don’t seem to have any ability to work things though.

      Were you paying attention during Black Lives Matter? Cops have been whacking black guys for years and lying about what happened and no one believe members of the black community before videos. Cops CONTINUE to make stuff up on police reports and are still getting regularly caught out by video.

      This would never even have been a story ex the video. United would have issued denials, the airplane, ground crew, and security thugs would have backed them up, the passenger has already been called “belligerent” which would easily have been elevated to him attacking the security thugs. Recall the cops do that to blacks who were in fact not threatening them all the time.

      And even if the doctor complained to a local press outlet, how would he have found any passengers to back up his story? The airline passenger lists are confidential. Had it not been for the vids, he almost certainly would not have been reboarded.

  25. Vatch

    The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays USA Today

    I wonder how much each U.S. taxpayer pays in subsidies to Of course, that would have to include subsidies for Amazon contract workers at warehouses as well as for actual Amazon exmployees.

    1. Pat

      The one comment on that opinion piece slammed it as having no facts ignoring all the facts and figures cited. Funny how so many ignore that a big reason why our weak safety net is large and inadequate is that it is mostly there to allow a tiny number of people to profit off not adequately paying their employees.

    2. JustAnObserver

      Not forgetting, of course, that Amazon could only give those “low, low, prices” at first by dodging around state sales taxes by shipping from out of state. For e.g. CA that gave them an 8-9% cost advantage over bricks&mortar during the time by sourcing from IIRC Nevada.

      Esp. during the Great Recession this must have been crucifying to B&M stores’ profit margins – which are thin at the best of times.

  26. Stephen Tynan

    The Walmart Tax Every American Taxpayer Pays

    Seems that Walmart is a membership warehouse club and we’re all members.

  27. tongorad

    Sign the petition demanding that Donald Trump doesn’t raid Social Security’s dedicated funding stream to cut taxes for his wealthy friends.
    Eliminating the payroll tax contributions is dangerous―Social Security has maintained its universal popularity over the past 81 years because everyone pays in, and everyone benefits.

    Social Security can not only be “saved,” but even expanded, if we ask the only question that matters: Do we have the resources to provide material benefits?
    Any other options merely feed into neoliberal propaganda about government spending and scarcity.

    We don’t require our Eternal Wars to be pre-funded. Funny that.
    Fiat for me, erstatz gold standard for thee.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The health of our citizenry is a national security issue.

      The comfort of our old and infirm is a national security issue.

      Helping our children is a national security issue.

      Perhaps we need to look at our use of terms?

  28. Susan the other

    Chernovich. I do not think I am getting good information. It is not like McMaster to play games. 150K US troops on the ground in Syria presages an anticipation of Assad falling fast and Syria being without a government. Maybe. But please, do not assume 150K troops are to fight a ground war. And the Petraeus connection? I always thought the Petraeus cover story was suspect… he was doing something very under cover at the time. And Mattis? He can’t be joined at the hip with McMaster if he is being sidelined. No. None of this makes sense. Unless it is an obfuscation that Russia is coming in on our side.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Cenovich is a journalist who has broken important stories. Why do you know better than he does?

      And you did not read the piece carefully. It depicts Mattis and McMaster at odds:

      Mattis and Dunford support working with our allies in the fight against ISIS. Harvey and McMaster are advocating for a massive American-only ground force.

      1. Susan the other

        Well that’s the line that dropped my jaw. McMaster advocating for a massive ground force. He knows full well what a disaster that could be because he wrote the book about that whole syndrome. Yes he is a general, who could advocate an American only ground force with some confidence that they would prevail, but he is also cautious. So its leads me to think that the piece is a little misleading in tone at least because, based on’ Dereliction of Duty’ I prefer to think McMaster would not send those troops into the chaos of Syria until the goal of getting rid of Assad was clearly in sight. Just going on my opinion of his professionalism.

  29. Plenue

    >La Pen denies French complicity in WW2 killing of Jews

    Funny how this is unconscionable, yet it’s considered acceptable to whitewash the Ukrainian nationalists who helped murder 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews these days.

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