Links 4/28/2017

The Rush-Bagot Treaty that demilitarized the Great Lakes is 200 years old today Treehugger

“Superman Is Not Coming”: Erin Brockovich on the Future of Water Truthout

Flint residents searched for water info before news coverage intensified: Study Columbia Journalism Review

Hong Kong has a monumental waste problem BBC

New analysis relocates the “hobbit” on the human family tree  Ars Technica (Chuck L)

People are saying McDonald’s new uniforms make staff look like evil ‘Star Wars’ employees and Twitter is not lovin’ it CNBC. furzy: ​”bleahhh!!​ not appetizing….”

Not Sure What to Wear? Amazon Can Help Business of Fashion

Fake News

Facebook says it will act against ‘information operations’ using false accounts Reuters

I would rather shine shoes than be a banker FT. I know I’ve said this before, but I am so going to miss Lucy Kellaway’s writing when she leaves the FT later this year.

Cricket goes for gold in its Olympic bid FT

France investigates votes for 2018 and 2022 World Cups and questions Blatter Guardian

French elections

France’s major parties want to block Marine Le Pen – but don’t expect a repeat of 2002 The Conversation

Fascist vs Opportunist? Don’t underestimate French disgust for their political class New Statesman


Boris Johnson’s foreign policy in Syria is based on wishful thinking Independent Patrick Cockburn’s latest.


Is Labour really as doomed as it seems? The polls have got it wrong before New Statesman

A Special Obscenity Jacobin

North Korea?

Exclusive: Trump says ‘major, major’ conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy Reuters

How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture … And North Korean Nukes Moon of Alabama

Jimmy Carter asked to steer clear of North Korea rapprochement FT. Note this is the FT and not The Onion.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Risk Nuclear War Der Spiegel

Why Democrats Are Debating Abortion Yet Again New Republic. As I commented a couple of days ago, the Democratic party has at best only tepidly supported abortion rights and relies too much on the courts.

Class Warfare

Barack Obama On Wall Street: Former President’s Spokesman Justifies $400,000 Speaking Fee International Business Times

The Obamas face the paid-speaking circuit — and all the questions that come with it WaPo Michelle cashes in as well.

Obama scores another $400K speaking fee amid criticism NY Post

1.2 million children in the US have lead poisoning. We’re only treating half of them. Vox

The Price for Killing Workers Must Be Prison AlterNet

Elephant tranquilizer makes lethal entry into opioid crisis San Francisco Chronicle

Chelsea Clinton Gets Another Award For Doing Nothing Special Heat Street

Lawsuit: After a sexual harassment claim, Fox News planted spyware on ex-host’s computer Ars Technica (Chuck L)


Xi Jinping summons China’s financial watchdogs in rare move, warning them to watch out for risks SCMP

New Balance Court Ruling in China Is Rare Win Against Piracy NYT

China’s pesticide drones ‘a godsend’ for struggling farmers amid labour shortage SCMP

How Sick Is the Dalai Lama? Unz Review

Black Lives Matter

Out of Sight, Out of Mind LRB

Trump Transition

The Rise of the Generals American Conservative. Pat Buchanan weighs in.

Exclusive: Trump spurns Taiwan president’s suggestion of another phone call Reuters

NAFTA talks after Trump’s turnaround: What each country wants Politico

Trump on presidency: ‘I thought it would be easier’ The Hill

100 Days in, Few Clues about Trump’s Tech Agenda MIT Technology Review

Democrats exploring lawsuit against Trump The Hill. More virtue signalling.

The education of Donald Trump Politico

New Cold War

Mike Flynn under formal investigation by Pentagon over payments from Russia Guardian

Spicer: Obama administration responsible for Flynn’s security clearance Politico

The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites’ Takeover of America Truthdig

United Removal Fiasco

United Airlines Reaches Settlement With Passenger Dragged Off Chicago Flight WSJ

United Airlines to offer $10,000 for passengers to give up seats Guardian


Competition Commission of India pulls up Roche for anti-competitive practices

Farmer’s Notebook: Adapting in Drought for a Good Yield The Wire

South India’s Drought Part 5: As Karnataka reels under severe water crisis, residents brace unofficial rationing Firstpost

South India’s Drought Part 6: Parched rural Karnataka sees mass migration but officials stay in denial Firstpost

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, J-LS.

    With regard to parties banding to stop Le Pen, “faire barrage au Front National”, this was featured on the France ” evening news yesterday. Voters were interviewed in Yerres (Dupont-Aignan’s fiefdom) and Nice. I thought there were more potential waverers and abstentions than in 2002 and appeals by Hamon, Fillon and other first round losers may not have the resonance of 2002. There was a bit about what Melenchon supporters would do. It was suggested that Macron would get a larger share of Melenchon supporters. One wonders what David, Eustache de Saint Pierre, Expat and French Guy make of this.

    It was amusing to see Macron campaign in Sarcelles yesterday. He was surrounded by people of African and Arab origin, not his type, I am sure, but worth a bit of virtue signalling and dog whistling a la Clinton and Obama. This town, which has a good chocolatier called Damiyel, had Strauss-Kahn as mayor. DSK lived in an elegant part of Paris and mixed with le beau monde, e.g. Anne Sinclair, but won there anyway. It reminded me of a Mauritian Creole expression, depot fixe, i.e. how Creoles, African Americans and Latinos vote against their own interests and seem happy to do so, to the extent of voting for the people (often / usually outsiders) who use them against reformers from their own ranks.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      From what I’ve seen of the polls, it does seem that of those Melanchon voters who will vote, a majority will hold their nose and vote for Macron. I haven’t seen anything about Fillon’s voters.

      Whatever you think of Macron, he is still I think likely the ‘lesser evil’ for a majority, although I wonder if the ridiculous lionising of him by the elites and their media outlets could backfire, as it did to an extent for HRC. But I’d be interested in Le Pen’s strategy. It seems to me she has a core vote which is far too small to win, even with a very low turnout, and so she needs either Melanchon voters or Fillon voters – I can’t see a reasonable strategy that could win both.

      1. vidimi

        i agree with that assessment, though i think vantage point is important. for a lot of people, especially mélonchon’s natural consituents, things might actually be worse under macron than le pen. that’s why it’s so difficult for mélonchon to endorse macron.

        one thing that bothers me, though, is the portrayal of macron as a centrist, or even keeping the status quo. right now, the status quo for workers in france is a 35-hour work week with RTT; retirement age at 62; 5 weeks vacations; average wages of…etc.
        a simplified interpretation would have anyone trying to improve that as left-wing; anyone vowing to keep it as is a centrist, and anyone campaigning on “reforms” to make it worse is right wing.

    2. David

      Macron was interviewed on TV last night (I didn’t watch it) and I was surprised to find how little coverage the interview had in today’s media. Le Monde had an article on it, which I read twice, and couldn’t actually recall a word of five minutes later. This is the problem that the MSM has with Macron – he never says anything remotely interesting or memorable, and also has what seems to me a needlessly complicated way of explaining himself, or trying to. When ho does get into detail it’s usually wrong. For example, he said last night that prison sentences of less than two years or less are not usually served because there’s no room in the prisons. This is an old lie of the extreme right that he seems to have picked up from somewhere, and even Le Monde felt they had to correct it.
      The tactic for a Macron victory is going to be based entirely on the diabolisation of Le Pen (apparently the first posters of concentration camps have started to appear). Macron will say and do as little as possible, hoping that the overwhelming weight of media, business and political opposition to Le Pen will do the job for him. I’m not so sure: there’s a debate next week, and Macron is not good at debates. Le Pen is.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, David.

        France 2 concluded with examples of Macron contradicting himself. It’s the turn of Le Pen on Monday evening.

        Macron was awful at the last debate. One on one, if only because of time, may allow Le Pen to skewer the opportunist, probably to no avail.

        One wonders how Macron got on when meeting clients. There are sharp characters and sharp elbows at Rothschilds (and its peer Lazards) in Paris. Then again, Macron was not parachuted by Jacques Attali at Rue Messine for his grasp of capital markets.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        I forgot to add. Speaking of posters, I remember the FN ones on the Cote d’Azur in the early 1980s, “Je paye. Tu payes. Ils touchent.”

      3. Bugs Bunny

        Macron keeps making unforced errors. He’s a beginner and it shows. First the big victory party at La Rotonde then the Amiens parking lot incident — which for me seemed like the turning point in the campaign. Finally, his speech invoking WWI heroes and somehow implying that Le Pen would lead us into war with Germany was laughable. He is a poor actor — doesn’t appear to believe in what he’s saying.

        Then we have Mélenchon refusing to ask his supporters to vote for him and Sens Commun backing Le Pen. The church organist in my building is infuriated with Fillon for saying that he will vote for Macron. LR and Dupont-Aignan supporters I would say could break 50% between Macron and Le Pen — this is based on my feeling not a poll, mind you.

        If Macron can’t get it together in the debate, I think MLP has a good chance of cobbling together enough to break 50%. I’ve been saying this for weeks now but my more liberal friends all seem to think that Macron is a genius from the private sector and playing 11 dimensional chess.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is Macron the block holding up the Leaning Tower of European Neoliberalism and with a defeat in France,, it topples over?

      4. Pookah Harvey

        When Clinton came out with “I want everyone to like me” campaign depending on just going negative on Trump, it didn’t seem a good idea. When Macron’s first major statement after going into the second round was he wanted to be the “president for all of France” followed by demonization of Marine as the major tactic it sure sounds familiar. People are aware that there are winners and losers in these political battles and you can’t be for everyone.

      5. Oregoncharles

        So it really is Clinton v. Trump with the genders reversed. Amazing. Somehow, I thought the French were smarter than that. Sigh.

    3. tgs

      Today there are a number of articles on Counterpunch that refer to Le Pen as a fascist. I have read her policy positions on Wikipedia and it seems to me that if accurate, then she is running to the left of Macron both on the economy and foreign policy, as Diane Johnstone recently argued at Counterpunch.

      The implication seems to be that nationalism and an anti-immigrant policy are alone sufficient to be branded a fascist. Is there something I am missing? I am no expert on French politics and perhaps there is a darker side that I am not aware of?

      1. Anonymous2

        My French friends and relatives tell me that many suspicions remain regarding MLP, that her apparent transformation of the FN to a moderate party is very cosmetic. Behind the seemingly more benign face hides a group of fascists waiting to seize power.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          People are wise to be suspicious…of any politicians…Le Pen or Schumer

          Is it an act? Is it cosmetic?

        2. Expat

          Her father has publicly stated he is disappointed with the direction she has taken the party. Jean-Marie was always unelectable since he was overtly racist. Marine Le Pen is more discreet but still slips up from time to time (viz her recent statement on deportation of jews during WWII).

          Whether or not Marine is not old school FN (I believe she is), her victory would embolden what is fundamentally a very racist people and certainly an extremely racist party. The FN members I know invariably revert to form after a few drinks and start talking about how the ills of France are the fault of the Arabs and the Jews.

          France is a conundrum. On one hand it vaunts itself as a “terre d’acceuil”. On the other hand, it accepts these non-white foreigners but puts them into ghettos. The French have, in general, no regrets over Algeria or the treatment of the Harkis and either choose to remain ignorant about the facts or simply make up alternative facts to placate their guilt. Everyone’s grandfather was in the resistance from about 1936. No one talks about the holocaust except to rant about how unfair and unconstitutional it is to be punished for denying it.

          A victory by Marine Le Pen would be much worse than a Trump victory (and we have seen how that has brought the beast from out under the rock in the US). The Front National is largely a racist, xenophobic organization which puts racial purity far ahead of any other policy.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I think the “acceuil” is wearing pretty thin for many people, whether it’s dodging African dictators and Saudi prices on the avenue George V, staying out of the “no-go” immigrant zones, or competing for low-level jobs. My French stepmother (vraiment ancien regime) is a hardcore Fillon-ista but is now thinking the unthinkable (MLP). Her sons and daughters (BCBG) are for Macron, but only nervously given his prior role was Hollande’s FinMin and H is beyond ridicule. I think there are lots of Ecole Polytechnique types who would privately admit that globalization has yielded more minuses than plusses for France. Is it possible to be “for” France without being branded a racist? MLP should also see whether she can get the Catholic Church on her side, you’d think they would be keen

            1. Expat

              Catholic Church? The Catholic Church is fundamentally on her side.
              Macron is a terrible choice. He frankly looks a bit lost and scared right now (“How the hell did I get here?”) but Le Pen is still worse.

              Bloomberg seems to hate Macron, which is odd.

              1. Anonymous2

                I can’t see Francis endorsing MLP. I imagine he will try largely to stay out of it.

                As for some of the Catholic laity, yeah quite likely.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        My understanding from people who follow these things closer than me is that she is at heart a nationalist right winger with strong libertarian views on economics (like her father), although is probably not personally a racist, but has been strongly influenced by a number of advisors who told her that adopting more working class friendly policies on welfare and taxes would significantly expand the FN’s appeal. In other words, her supposedly left wing policies on economics are probably a sham.

        You can usually tell a parties true colours by who they align with in the European parliament – the FN unambiguously aligns itself with the traditional far right. Some of their partner parties, like the KNP, AfD and FPO are really quite unabiguously nationalistic, conservative and libertarian in influence and certainly have nothing in common with any wing of the left.

        1. vidimi

          my guess is that le pen would model her government after putin, orban, and kaczynski. all right wingers but popular with the silent majorities in their respective countries because they were able to bring employment and pride back to the heartlands. this would be the nightmare scenario for the liberals as a popular FN would be difficult to dislodge once in power as they would subsequently try to rig the game more in their favour just like the aforementioned troika did in their countries.
          of course, rigging the game is par for the course for any winner – the current neoliberal establishment has certainly done so everywhere, we just don’t noticed it because it’s…well…already established. having a new regime in place would shine new light on the process.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When Rome was a republic, it was possible to elect a dictator when the situation called for it.

          Are there times for being more nationalistic, conservative and/or libertarian?

          And is it nationalistic and not nationalistic, or is it more or less nationalistic?

          Is it for immigration and anti-immigration, or is it more or less immigration (with less immigration automatically denounced as anti-immigration)?

      3. nobody

        “The problem with the FN is not really MLP herself, and relative to their own politicians–even the left-wing ones–American left-wingers will find in MLPs own program lots to like. I find her domestic economic program and objections to the European system to be mostly in the right direction, even if I don’t necessarily agree with her on how to fix the European-level issues.

        The actual problem is one of political context. MLP is only the tip of an ultra-nationalist iceberg that has historically sought a confrontation with France’s large Arab Muslim/North African minority whose presence is a direct result of French colonialism. FN supporters wish to direct and control the inner cultural and religious life of the minority community without concomitantly doing anything about the sources of discrimination, etc., provoking counter-reactionary tendencies in the minority community (e.g., alienated youth joining ISIS or putting on niqabs or whatever), in a cycle of escalation that could make the occasional American race riot seem like a kaffeeklatsch. Even Trumpist America just believes in more reactionary policing…”

      4. David

        Le Pen is being branded as a fascist because those who are frightened of her winning think it is useful to them to do so. If they thought it would be more effective to describe her as a communist or a satanist they would do that. There is a genuine intellectual debate to be had about the extent to which a nationalist-populist movement today could resemble a fascist movement of the thirties (answer probably not that much) but that’s irrelevant to the current situation. I’d be surprised if one in a hundred of those screaming “fascist” today could actually give even a sketchy account of the various right-wing movements in France in the 1930s, for example. The word is just a catch-all insult, designed to prevent thought and foreclose debate. This is necessary among other things because the “nationalism” which certainly forms part of Le Pen’s strategy is essentially directed against Brussels, not against other nations, and she threatens the neoliberal consensus of which Macron is a tool. If you can successfully redefine opposition to the exploitation of cheap and insecure temporary immigrant labour as “racialism'” then effectively all opposition to neoliberalism is de-legitimised. It’s hard to remember now that George Marchais, the long-serving and very hard-line head of the French Communist Party came out strongly against immigrant labour, on the basis that it would be used to divide the working class and force down wages and conditions of work. Of course today he’s be dismissed as a fascist.

        1. dcblogger

          She is being branded as a fascist because she IS a fascist. She thinks that you can solve France’s problems by beating up on Muslims and immigrants. she really would be far worse that Marcon.

          1. tgs

            Surely, you realize that her program is not a simply anti-immigrant and islamophobic. Leaving NATO, reducing tensions with Russia, getting out of the mid-east just to name a couple of things.

            Your kind of simplification does not help your argument.

          2. witters

            “She is being branded as a fascist because she IS a fascist. She thinks that you can solve France’s problems by beating up on Muslims and immigrants. she really would be far worse that Marcon.”

            Please, this is not a meaningful specification of fascism as a political regime. In fact it is worse than useless. It is a slogan posing as a thought.

            1. Expat

              Perhaps true, but it certainly did not stop that political luminary, GW Bush, from calling Al Qaeda fascists! It has passed from being a political system or being synonymous with dictatorships to being a slur denoting someone who is right-wing, racist, or xenophobic.

              Le Pen might not be the racist her father is, but she is not too far from that. The major problem is that the FN is still simply a cover for racists and wannabe fascists, whatever Le Pen might say. An FN victory would lead to overt racism and violence as well as a destruction of France’s relations with everyone but Erdogan, Duterte, Putin and Trump.

      5. funemployed

        I try to avoid using the f-word entirely. Find it about as analytically useful as a bowl of oatmeal. Basically it’s just shorthand for describing the entire ideological and social systems of Benito’s Italy and Nazi Germany, which is already comparing apples to oranges in more than a few particulars. Trying to superimpose that clusterduck on any modern state or ideology is just begging to start spewing incoherent gibberish.

        There are plenty of better words for the non-lazy writers of the world: authoritarianism, totalitarianism, imperialism, militarism, nationalism, expansionism, X(insert racial, religious, ethnic, cultural group of your choice)-supremacy …just to name a few.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Each of us has a right brain and a left brain, literally and metaphorically.

          It’s about balance.

          When we remove completely one of the two, we become unbalanced.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Ah yes, then there’s the one that trumps them all: patriotism. When did that one go out of style, in favor of an ideology where the national income goes to billionaire owners of the means of production so they can squirrel it away in the Caymans while “leveling” the income and security of labor with countries with no indoor plumbing?

          Hopefully the phone call to Macron from that master of Manchurian deception and obfuscation (our very own recently-$400K-richer ex-prez) will have the same effect as when he instructed the Brits not to Brexit.

      6. Susan the other

        I’m thinking today after reading stg. on how the US Congress is decimating Planned Parenthood, that maybe there is some method to nationalist madness when, as LePen does, they argue against immigration. When push comes to shove, the industrialized world ignores reality and promotes its own birth control and yet allows the third world to come in and take all the jobs; something is wrong. Call it racist or fascist – but don’t ignore the implications. This conflicted policy allows the human population to out-migrate and keep on doing it. Just a weary realization of how short lived oligarchic interests are/will be.

      7. Olivier

        The quality of the articles published on CP is very hit and miss, to be charitable. Diane Johnstone’s is great, as usual, but those calling MLP a fascist I’d put in the leftist rant pile, of which there is a lot on CP.

    4. Alex Morfesis

      Le Pen has no interest in winning, otherwise she would announce she is going to let melenchon choose the prime minister and ask melenchon to be foreign minister…

      for the good of “one france”…

      Marine will form her own party after the june elections to permanently disengage from her fathers noise as she prepares to laugh at president clouseau tug on the skirt of mutti for help by christmas…

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Dear Colonel.

        I am frankly largely clueless to how this election will be called, but I think it will be Macron. I do think that the show is illustrating the fact that the French are not very happy, & I believe that this will become ever more obvious.

        I was watching Macron on a video earlier & this Jaque Brel song suddenly broke out in my head. Jaque of course was Belgian, but perhaps M wishes he was a J.

        And if one day I should become
        A singer with a Spanish bum
        Who sings for women of great virtue

        I’d sing to them with a guitar
        I borrowed from a coffee bar
        Well, what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you

        My name would be Antonio
        And all my bridges I would burn
        And if I gave them some they’d know
        I expect something in return

        I’d have to get drunk every night
        To talk about virility
        With some old grandmother who might
        Be decked out like a Christmas tree

        And though pink elephants I’d see
        Though I’d be drunk as I could be
        Still I would sing my song to me
        About the time they called me Jackie

        If I could be for only an hour
        If I could be for an hour every day
        If I could be for just one little hour
        Cute, cute, cute in a stupid-ass way

        And if I joined the social whirl
        Became procurer of young girls
        Then I would have my own bordellos

        My record would be number one
        And I’d sell records by the ton
        All sung by many other fellows

        My name would then be Handsome Jack
        And I’d sell boats of opium
        Whiskey that came from Twickenham
        Authentic queers and phony virgins

        I’d have a bank on every finger
        A finger in every country
        And every country ruled by me
        I still know where I’d want to be

        Locked up inside my opium den
        Surrounded by some Chinamen
        I’d sing the song that I sang then
        About the time they called me Jackie

        If I could be for only an hour
        If I could be for an hour every day
        If I could be for just one little hour
        Cute, cute, cute in a stupid-ass way

        Now tell me wouldn’t it be nice
        That if one day in paradise
        I sang for all the ladies up there

        And they would sing along with me
        We’d be so happy there to be
        ‘Cause down below is really nowhere

        My name would then be Jupiter
        And I would know where I was going
        And then I would become all knowing
        And my beard so long and flowing

        If I became deaf dumb and blind
        Because I pitied all mankind
        And broke my heart to make things right
        I know that every single night

        When my angelic work was through
        The angels and the Devil too
        Would sing my childhood song to me
        About the time they called me Jackie

        If I could be for only an hour
        If I could be for an hour every day
        If I could be for just one stinking hour
        Cute, cute, cute in a stupid-ass way!

      2. John k

        Labor minister makes more sense.
        And a great idea, their stated economic policies are close. Plus leaving the euro.
        Might not be sufficient for her to get all of melanchon’s votes if Macron gets all of Fillon’s, but it’s a start.

  2. PlutoniumKun


    Is Labour really as doomed as it seems? The polls have got it wrong before New Statesman

    This article reads like a dying man grasping for straws. Labour are very far behind in the polls, down to their core vote. To make it worse, older voters (i.e. those more likely to vote) are defecting to the Tories. The only real hope they have is to deflect the Tory attacks on a possible Labour government by accepting they won’t win, and argue instead for a mandate as a strong opposition. And they can only do that by setting out a strong popular agenda. Their terrible fudging over Brexit doesn’t help, it distracts from the many good things Corbin is proposing.

    Incidentally, the article, while well meaning, repeats the right wing talking point that universal benefits are wasteful because they are subsidising the rich. Corbin rightly recognises that a sustainable welfare policy means that everyone should benefit as far as possible from equal access to healthcare, education, pensions, etc. One of the many intellectual failures of the left over the years is that they have never successfully argued the reality that universal direct provision of health and education is actually far more cost effective than private or hybrid schemes.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK.

      I agree with you, especially about the left not making the case for universal provision. It does not help that the MSM ignores / refuses to report alternatives. However, the left has never been able to get its act together media etc wise, especially with the opportunities presented by alternative media and technology.

      In 1994 – 5, I wrote a masters about central bank independence. I am thinking of updating that to a doctorate in the aftermath of the crisis and new powers given to central banks. When looking at monetary policy committees, monetary policy research etc., I was staggered by how little trade unions etc. had to say, thus allowing neo-liberals to make the running. The infant Bank of France monetary policy committee (MPC) had a trade unionist on board. Gordon Brown threw a bone to unions by appointing Bill Morris to the Court (i.e. oversight board) of the Bank of England, a body with little authority then. There was never talk of appointing a representative of labour or civil society to the UK MPC. There is a huge price to pay for this “insouciance”. I can’t think of an English expression. An American expression springs to mind, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

      Yesterday, I read about polls which showed Labour closing the gap and leading among voters under 40. I did not look further. One can only hope and pray for Corbyn, not that he often lets himself down.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        One of the reason I love NC so much is that it cured my frustration over the years about how the left vacated the intellectual space to the right over economics and political structures. Because, y’know, writing about post-gender policies or anti imperialism among the yamamami tribesmen was so much more interesting that Central Banks. To my embarrassment, despite having an economics background I was completely unaware of the true implications of central bank independence pre-Euro, and the real implications of the manner in which the Euro was constructed. It was, of all sources, Paul Krugman’s blog that first alerted me to the dangers of the Euro structure.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, PK.

          The fashion, dictated by neo-liberals, and the coming of EMU influenced my choice of subject. I met and was helped by some interesting characters, including Nigel Lawson, Peter Hain, Rupert Pennant-Rea (who had just left the Bank of England after being caught in flagrante delicto at his office in Threadneedle Street), Alex Brummer, Larry Elliott, Will Hutton and Hamish McRae.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            The only one I know personally from that list is Hamish– a wise man, insightful writer, and friend I’ve known for nearly 30 years now.

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, PK.

          I forgot to add that this interest in third world communities, imperialism etc. is fake and just virtue signalling. These so called intellectuals would never dream of roughing it in the third world and other god forsaken places – unlike two of my cousins, both Catholic nuns (the horror), who help run an orphanage in Bujumbura and a soup kitchen in Detroit.

          It’s not Listen, Liberal for me, but F U, Liberal – and don’t bother us in the third world with your patronising nonsense. One of these liberals, I know, shows off her Palestinian olive oil at dinner parties. I suggested that she could attend mass with me and listen to Palestinian and other Arab Catholic speakers and may be buy some of their olive wood creations after mass. Oh, no, she does not want to actually do anything (away from Primrose Hill). In any case, she does not want to upset the dual citizens / firsters for professional reasons / advancement.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Your first line reminds me of a story often told in Irish Labour Party circles about Michael D. Higgins, a long time activist for Latin American anti-imperialism and currently Irish President (and a pretty good one I should say).

            Back in the 1970’s at a Labour Party meeting involving yet another futile internecine row, the Chairman announced that Michael D. couldn’t attend as he was at a pro-Sandinista rally. A voice called out from the floor ‘Trust Michael D. Higgins, given the choice between saving the world and saving the Irish Labour Party, he always takes the easy option!’.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, PK.

              I heard similar recently about an American woman who prefers to volunteer in Haiti rather than her own area. I have seen similar in France and the UK.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      To be fair, I don’t think the Sable was ever armed – it was solely a floating landing deck for training. A bit like the UK is now.

      1. duck1

        I say treaties are made to be broken. Why, several CBG’s are just what we need should the Russians invade NA through the arctic. And jawbs, jawbs, jawbs, also.

    2. Bill Smith

      in both WW I and WW II the US Navy had small(er) ships and subs built on the Great Lakes.

      In WW I a number of sub chasers where built on the Great Lakes.

      in WW II about 28 submarines (1,500 tons in size) where built on the Great Lakes that went on Pacific war patrols.

  3. allan

    Australian police reveal they broke new metadata laws [AP]

    Australian police revealed on Friday that an officer broke the country’s contentious new metadata laws by illegally accessing a journalist’s phone records to identify an anonymous source. …

    The laws force Australian communication companies and internet providers to store customers’ personal metadata, such as phone numbers called and websites accessed, for at least two years as a counterterrorism measure for the convenience of law enforcement agencies.

    A police officer investigating a police leak failed to get a warrant earlier this year before accessing the phone records of a journalist who reported the leak, Colvin said. …

    “Put simply, this was human error. It should not have occurred,” Colvin said. “I don’t think that gives cause to say that the public should have their confidence shattered in the system.” …

    A mere flesh wound glitch in the robust privacy and free speech protections
    which all of the Five Eyes guarantee their citizens.

  4. JoeK

    I have United miles and got an email today with the subject “Actions speak louder than words.” Hubris or stupidity? Tough call.
    It was too long to read (i.e. more than one short paragraph). I replied (to no one, no doubt) something to the effect “since actions speak louder than words I’m ignoring this email and will wait for some action.”
    Looking forward to a few thousands miles credited to my account (cough).

    1. allan

      Corporate gobbledygook is the gift that keeps on giving. Another piece that popped up today:

      “XYZ Inc. is a reinvigorated company uniquely positioned to succeed in the multiplatform [redacted] marketplace with an exceptional set of brands and assets, tremendous scale and significant untapped potential,” [the deer-in-the-headlights CEO] said. “The company is better positioned to capitalize on this potential with its recent shift from a siloed, legacy [redacted] structure, to an integrated, enterprise platform structure. We are excited to execute on our plan as we have become a leader in [redacted] and remain No. 1 in [redacted] revenue share. In addition, our transformation has brought a number of potential partners interested in working with us to unlock and accelerate value across our portfolio of brands.”

      Was this:

      1. United
      2. NYT
      3. ESPN
      4. Time
      5. Sears

      And the answer is …

    2. hreik

      Got the same email. I say hubris and stupidity both. I also didn’t read through it all. Just put it in my trash folder for deep sixing later.

  5. PlutoniumKun


    The Rise of the Generals American Conservative. Pat Buchanan weighs in.

    Exclusive: Trump spurns Taiwan president’s suggestion of another phone call Reuters

    Great writing from Buchanan (I never thought I’d write that). But this line:

    To get Xi Jinping to help with our Pyongyang problem, Trump has dropped all talk of befriending Taiwan, backed off Tillerson’s warning to Beijing to vacate its fortified reefs in the South China Sea, and held out promises of major concessions to Beijing in future trade deals.

    along with the Reuters article:

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday spurned the Taiwanese president’s suggestion that the two leaders hold another phone call, saying he did not want to create problems for Chinese President Xi Jinping when Beijing appears to be helping efforts to rein in North Korea.

    makes me wonder – is a betrayal of Taiwan going to be the price Trump will pay for Xi to give him the appearance of a ‘win’ over North Korea? For China, Taiwan is a much, much bigger domestic issue than North Korea. Within limits, Xi might well see the humbling of Pyongyang as a price worth paying if the US were to withdraw its support from Taiwan. If the US was to refuse to sell any more weaponry to Taiwan it really would have no options left (the Chinese have pretty much forced everyone else to de facto boycott selling arms to Taiwan). The way would be open for a ‘soft’ Chinese takeover.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK.

      The American Conservative has some thoughtful and intelligent writers, some of whom appear on RT. Buchanan is a lot more interesting than the buffoon portrayed by neo-liberals, neo-cons and dual citizens / firsters.

      1. jrs

        He is interesting as a commentator, but I wouldn’t want him anywhere near power, luckily that chance has passed.

        1. montanamaven

          Agree, but it’s good to hear somebody connecting the dots and actually mentioning Yemen.

          How so? Says Tillerson, Iran is “destabilizing” the region, and threatening U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon.

          But Iran is an ally of Syria and was invited in to help the UN-recognized government put down an insurrection that contains elements of al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is we, the Turks, Saudis, and Gulf Arabs who have been backing the rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.

          In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading, and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

          It is we and the Saudis who are talking of closing the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which could bring on widespread starvation.

          It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. It was not Iran that overthrew Colonel Gadhafi and created the current disaster in Libya.

      2. Anon

        Look, Pat Buchanan, on occasion, says something thoughtful. However, he is the originator of the bloviating cable TV show “CrossTalk”. (Two, or more, partisans yelling political nonsense at each other.) He’s the proverbial stopped clock being “accurate” twice a day.

        The guy is in his 80’s and continues to spew racist crap, and other nonsense, regularly. He’s a wealthy white guy with too much healthcare.

    2. a different chris

      >is a betrayal of Taiwan going to be the price Trump will pay for Xi to give him the appearance of a ‘win’ over North Korea

      Hmmm, sounds like maybe Trump was playing checkers while Xi was playing chess. Not surprising. I hope to god that 30 years from now we don’t read about how Xi was behind both sides, hell every side, of this.

      But if NK “stands down” in some way and gets a big (big to them, pocket change to Xi) chunk of “humanitarian aid” from the Chinese for it I am going to be really, really suspicious.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Trump is (in)famous for his art of the deal, including his cannonball entries into the pool to announce his arrival. He gets the attention of various people to unsettle them, and later dries off, appears to back off and then probes in earnest (who thought that phrase would apply to him?) for weak points and negotiating position improvement.

        I share the concern that Xi may be playing chess to Trump’s version of checkers. Xi is testing Trump to see if he will blink, and he has. How many others around the world will see through Trump’s style and do their own cannonball, literally or figuratively?

    3. Carolinian

      Buchanan the “paleocon” and founder of The American Conservative seems sane next to the neocons (talked about in today’s Truthdig link). Still he’s an old line abortion fighter and anti-communist who thought Vietnam a just cause (because Communism). The paleo refers to a time when Republicans were pro business but anti interventionist. It’s the reason why simple dualisms such as this one

      don’t really persuade. Lots of our current self described liberal populists seem to have totalitarian impulses. Even Sanders pulls his punches when it comes to the military.

    4. JTMcPhee

      “The betrayal of Taiwan.” That would not be an allusion to the US aid and assistance to the Kuomintang, the gang of thugs and thieves that got their rapacious a$$es kicked off the mainland by a different group of thugs, the minions of Chiang Kai-Shek who stole as much of the “national treasures” of the country as they could steal, and essentially “settled” Formosa the same way the Israelites are “settling” Gaza and the West Bank, would it?

      Naw. “Who lost China?” is still a live issue, isn’t it? And if one looks at the history of the Kuomintang’s gentle hand on the indigenous people of Formosa, and the vast corruption they availed themselves of, one has to ask who has any “right” on their side in maintaining the rump KMT in its strategically precarious and potentially Big War-triggering position? Of course there’s the great Taiwan Free MArket Capitalism Success Story, underwritten by whom, again? And what kind of political economy has that fostered in that unfortunate place that the Portuguese, in their usually purblind greed focused imperial “advances,” Ilha Formosa, the Beautiful Island?

      Say again, who is being “betrayed?”

      THere’s a LOT of history there, illustrative of so much of what is so very bad about our species, particularly in “modern, progressive times..” One little selection, about the violent suppression of widespread “unrest” by native Formosans sick of being looted and oppressed by the invading KMT, is laid out here, The response to that “incident” led to the deaths of as many as 40,000 Formosans, described by Wiki’s article as largely the elite of pre-invasion polity. That event likely also is among the Ruler-reaction actions studied by our War College, and informs “our” rulers and is echoed in the off-the-shelf manuals on suppression of dissent like REX 84 and “Operation Garden Plot,” described here: Note that these are styled as necessary precautions to “protect the continuity of government.”

      I’ve mentioned that I returned from Vietnam in 1968, and was shortly thereafter told to lock and load and under “Garden Plot” “authority,” fly with live ammo and various “crowd control” weapons and tactics on board, with elements of the 2nd Armored Division (“Hell On Wheels”) to Chicago to put down, by armed force, the “insurrection and civil disturbance” by “hippies, yippies and outside agitators” around the 1968 Democratic Convention. Following the lead of a bunch of other soldiers, mostly black, I said “SIR, NO SIR” and took my punishment. The Brass wisely decided, with all those disaffected troops just back from seeing the idiocy of the Vietnam thing, it might not be wise to gin up prosecutions for “mutiny,” and meted out “Article 15 non-judicial punishments” instead.

      So much to remember, so much to be angry about, so many echoes in today’s world of horrors past and intimations of horrors to come, too much to even try to forget…

      1. Optimader

        Taiwan is fruit of the poision tree rewinding the tape to CK Shek and his thugs… it is truely Chinese territory, simolar in a way that Palestine is historically Palestinian. Different thugs different methods of course.
        CK was one hellofa grifter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It was Dutch and Portuguese for a while.

          In fact, these Westerners even taught the aborigines writing, so they could understand the Bible.

          Then, came Koxinga.

          Zheng Chenggong, better known in the West by his Hokkien honorific Koxinga or Coxinga (Chinese: 國姓爺; pinyin: Guóxìngyé; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kok-sèng-iâ) was a Chinese-Japanese Ming loyalist who resisted the Qing conquest of China’s southeastern coast. Conquering the Dutch outposts on Taiwan,[2] he established a dynasty which ruled the island as the Kingdom of Tungning.


          Perhaps Taiwan can become Holland:

          During the Siege of Fort Zeelandia, Koxinga executed Dutch missionary Antonius Hambroek and took his teenage daughter as a concubine.[39][40] Other Dutch women were sold to Chinese soldiers to become their wives.[41] In 1684 some of these Dutch wives were still captives of the Chinese.[42]

          Many Taiwanese (excluding many Waisheng Ren) recall fondly of those colonial years under the Japanese Imperial rule. Perhaps if they can’t be ruled from Tokyo again, they can petition the government of Holland, based on the blood claim from Koxinga, whose father was a Fujianese pirate, and mother Japanese.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, I suspect if the Taiwanese were forced to chose a colonialist, they would overwhelmingly vote for the Japanese. The Japanese occupation was unusually benign by the standard of these things. Although when I was last there (2009), there were some resentments at the perceived arrogant behaviour of older Japanese who have retired to Taiwan seeking cheaper places to live. But travelling out of Taipei its striking how ‘Japanese’ much of the island feels, especially in the hot spring resorts.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The Taiwanese are the colonialists.

              The indoctrination was strong, even though Japanese students attended separate schools. Few Taiwanese went to imperial colleges in Japan. When they first surrendered after WWII, many, many Japanese were beaten or killed (police, outside of Taipei, even). Never passive, being descendants of tough colonizing immigrants, they killed not a few innocent Mainlanders (Waysheng Ren) during the 228 incident (a tragedy for all) themselves. In fact, the immigrants from one part of Fujian (Quanzhou) will battle others from other parts of Fujian (Zhanghou) regularly during the Qing dynasty.

              As for onsen, hot spring resorts, that’s a Japanese thing, brought from Nihon and first developed by the colonizing Japanese. It’s natural to feel Japanese there, with the ubiquitous geta and yukata, and the many tourists from Japan, till today.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the Taiwanese are the colonialists’? If you go back far enough, we are all colonialists. Mind you, I’ve noted how many Taiwanese will throw in to conversations that they have a ‘real’ Taiwan ancestor (meaning aboriginal).

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s interesting to note that many Japanese restaurants here (Southern California) are run by Koreans/Korean Americans (and Taiwanese/Taiwanese Americans), even though Koreans hated and still today hate the multi-decade long Japanese rule of their country.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Its the same in most places. Later today I’ll be going to my favourite Japanese restaurant in Dublin, mostly run by Koreans. I tease them all the time by telling them its ‘cos Korean food is terrible (I do actually like Korean food, but its not exactly subtle). In Ireland the Chinese restaurants were mostly owned by Vietnamese, the Korean Restaurants are usually Chinese (lots of Liaoning ethnic Koreans from China in Dublin), Thai Restaurants are invariably owned by Chinese and the Vietnamese restaurants are run by Australians. Mind you, nearly every Irish bar I’ve been to in Japan was run by a Scot.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The KMT are, of course, as you say a bunch of thugs and thieves who took over Taiwan without bothering to consult the existing inhabitants and insisted on making mandarin the official language. And of course yes, they massacred the mostly Hakka and Hokkien people who objected on the 2/28 massacre. But it is exactly those people (the KMT) who are trying to sell off their countrymen to Beijing now. I know quite a few Taiwanese, mostly of Han descent (but not Waisheng ren) who do not consider themselves in any way Chinese.

        Of course, ‘Taiwan’ for most of its history was really the north-west coastal plain where Han settlers made their home. Up until the late 19th Century the great majority of the island – the inland mountains – was proudly independent and populated almost entirely by indigenous islanders.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Indians mostly dead, America now all belong to “us.” Or at least a very few of “us…”

          So it goes…

          I did two R&Rs in Taiwan, in 1968 — minute exposure, especially compared to yours, but one bit was a voyage up into those inland mountains to see the “indigens.” Nice ride on a coolie-pushed little rail car through semi-tropical terrain,, several miles uphill, to a replica village where for $5 you could have your picture taken next to an “indigen” couple in full wedding regalia, she sitting in a chair that is tied to his shoulders. I still have the picture somewhere. Actually “indigen” is not what they were called, cannot recall the word right now… I also was escorted to the National Museum in Taipei, to see thousands of years of art and artifacts looted by the KMT on their way out the door — again, with lots of help from fellow-travelers in the good ol’ US of Freedom-Loving A…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            From Wiki:

            As the Qing consolidated their power over the plains and struggled to enter the mou
            ntains in the late 19th century, the terms Pingpu (平埔族; Píngpǔzú; “Plains peoples”) and Gaoshan (高山族; Gāoshānzú; “High Mountain peoples”) were used interchangeably with the epithets “civilized” and “uncivilized”.[16] During Japanese rule (1895–1945), anthropologists from Japan maintained the binary classification. In 1900 they incorporated it into their own colonial project by employing the term Peipo (平埔?) for the “civilized tribes”, and creating a category of “recognized tribes” for the aborigines who had formerly been called “uncivilized”. The Musha incident of 1930 led to many changes in aboriginal policy, and the Japanese government began referring to them as Takasago-zoku (高砂族). [17] The latter group included the Atayal, Bunun, Tsou, Saisiat, Paiwan, Puyuma, and Ami peoples. The Yami (Tao) and Rukai were added later, for a total of nine recognized peoples.[18] During the early period of Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) rule the terms Shandi Tongbao (山地同胞) “mountain compatriots” and Pingdi Tongbao (平地同胞) “plains compatriots” were invented, to remove the presumed taint of Japanese influence and reflect the place of Taiwan’s indigenous people in the Chinese Nationalist state. [19] The KMT later adopted the use of all the earlier Japanese groupings except Peipo.

            Shandi Tongbao (山地同胞) would seem to be the term.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Thanks for that. The advertising as I recall was “Come See The Aboriginals In Their Native Habitat” or something.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                They are related to native Hawaiians.

                One theory has Taiwan as the homeland of all the Polynesians living in the Pacific today.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Supposedly they made it as far as Vanuatu, I dug up some of their pottery (Lapita) when building a house there

                    1. ambrit

                      Yes. Some question about the true age of that “metropolis.” Questions about the migration streams, their make up and even direction of travel are coming out into the light of day. The age of, say, the basalt block built pyramid in West Java is now a political and scholarly football.
                      Two good sources:

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Han people, the Taiwanese (not the Waisheng Ren), took over the island from the existing inhabitants without consulting them.

          That was the original sin.

          These same Taiwanese (not the Waisheng Ren) are the ones for independence. To add non-Han component to their claim, they renamed one or a few streets with non-Han names. They suddenly discovered those whom they have robbed, killed, stolen, abused as prostitutes, and long looked down upon. Still, the fertile lands stay with these Taiwanese. The original inhabitants have long since been driven into the mountains of that island. Thus the name, Shandi Tongbao (山地同胞) “mountain compatriots. So, the renaming is just an act…something recent about not being allowed to hunt in their ‘reservations.’ Quite cynical.

          Following the Original Sin, the Japanese occupied the island without consulting the existing inhabitants in 1895.

          From Wiki:

          The Japanese invasion of Taiwan (Chinese and Japanese: 乙未戰爭) (May–October 1895) was a conflict between the Empire of Japan and the armed forces of the short-lived Republic of Formosa following the Qing Dynasty’s cession of Taiwan to Japan in April 1895 at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese sought to take control of their new possession, while the Republican forces fought to resist Japanese occupation. The Japanese landed near Keelung on the northern coast of Taiwan on 29 May 1895, and in a five-month campaign swept southwards to Tainan. Although their advance was slowed by guerrilla activity, the Japanese defeated the Formosan forces (a mixture of regular Chinese units and local Hakka militias) whenever they attempted to make a stand. The Japanese victory at Baguashan on 27 August, the largest battle ever fought on Taiwanese soil, doomed the Formosan resistance to an early defeat. The fall of Tainan on 21 October ended organised resistance to Japanese occupation, and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule in Taiwan.

          The Republic of China had been long dominated by the KMT. But the Republic itself was the successor to the Qing dynasty. It unified China. It fought a war against Japan and signed a peace treaty, with Japan renouncing all claims to Taiwan following her defeat.

          At that time, anyone could have made the claim. Only the ROC did. They moved in and took over the island, which had been a part of Qing China.

          Many Taiwanese (not the Waisheng Ren) become rich taking over factories, plants, properties previously owned by the Japanese empire and her citizens.

          Then 228 incident came.

          Many Waisheng Ren were killed, along with many Taiwanese.

          Many of the Waisheng Ren were Taiwanese whose fathers or grandfathers left Taiwan to join the KMT, or the ROC government to fight the Japanese. They are called “The Half Mountain’ people (Google that. Can’t find it in Wiki).

          In the 50’s, came land reform. From Wiki:


          n the 1950s, after the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan, land reform and community development was carried out by the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction.
          This course of action was made attractive, in part, by the fact that many of the large landowners were Japanese who had fled, and the other large landowners were compensated with Japanese commercial and industrial properties seized after Taiwan reverted from Japanese rule in 1945.
          The land program succeeded also because the Kuomintang were mostly from mainland China and had few ties to the remaining indigenous landowners.[1]

          Small farmers benefited. The rich Taiwanese landowners resented it.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        About the 228 Incident, a good movie is “A City of Sadness,’ 1989, by Hou Hsiou-Hsien.

        The ROC official in charge of Taiwan during the incident was later convicted and executed for it.

    5. Alex Morfesis

      The 3 $i$ter$ are still playing america…taiwan and the ck shrek…that yalee mao say “cats got my” tongue never had a better friend than taiwan…

      never had to worry about delivering anything since “they” were out there…

      and who partnered with the red army to manufacture electronics and computers on the “mainland”…

      didn’t the work (& technology) get handed over by our good friends on Formosa…

      Buchanan certainly puts on a nice show…iran has not had a better friend than the evil empire…

      who has arranged for those spare parts to keep ending up in the hands of the persians to keep those american aircrafts functioning….

      who eliminated saddam on one side and the taliban on the other so that persia was safe with her borders ??

      And who is sitting in a freezer now that the museum has been shut down proclaiming his greatness…

      ck shek probably never imagined it would quite end up this way by his own people…

      We live…we die…we imagine we are important…until mike tyson hits us across the face..

      Bob Taylor passed away a few days ago at age 85…can’t imagine all his work on creating the modern computer left a nice taste in his mouth as it ended up in the hands of “the enemy” he was told he was fighting and working so hard against…

      all those lost weekends…

      all those cold dinners…

      Rest in peace mister taylor…

    6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A ‘soft’ Chinese takeover of Taiwan could be an economic one or a cultural one.

      The former is more likely and may have already taken place.

      Many, many factories of rich Taiwanese have been moved to mainland by management to abuse workers there.

      And these Taiwanese and Waisheng Ren (both) have benefited from ‘investing’ as Chinese. Just ask the Japanese who have similarly invested in China.

      I was told that at any moment these days, there are 3 to 5 million people from Taiwan living, working, studying, visiting or retiring in China.

      Hard to say that is not an economic take over.

    7. Procopius

      As I understand it, China’s biggest interest in Pyongyang is to keep it from collapsing, which would likely cause some hundreds of thousands of people from the northern part of North Korea to try to cross the Yalu River into China (the NorthEast, or Manchuria), where they would be a huge problem. The easiest way for them to accomplish that would be to get Trump to somehow provide believable guarantees that the U.S. will not invade. Bill Clinton managed that, but then for reasons I have never seen W broke the American promises and N. Korea resumed their nuclear research resulting in the current situation.

  6. Harry

    Im backing Tottenham Hotspurs for the league, and Corbyn to do surprisingly well in the elections.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In at least one of those bets, I’m afraid Russian foreign interference will cause you to lose….

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Harry and PK.

        Speaking of Russian interference, that is one of Macron’s regular complaints, straight out of the Democrat playbook. The French authorities have not said anything.

        Further to the April 1 launch of that service by the Russian Foreign Ministry, as a goner, I was wondering if it was worth calling for help to either get rid of Wenger or bring forth St Totteringham Day.

          1. ambrit

            Too right mate! I didn’t know Bluebottle Goonovitch was playing for Tottenham! Those blasted Tsarist swine!
            Macron probably has Count Moriarty on his campaign staff.

    2. Fox Blew

      Harry. I’m going with the ‘spurs as well. It will be a fascinating month ahead. Chelsea has Middlesbrough and Sunderland among others…so the schedule might favour them – on paper, at least. But Tottenham appears to be in a groove. As for Corbyn…hmm…does he have Harry Kane on his team? If so, put me down for a surprise result for Labour.

  7. Kurtismayfield

    Today starts the FCC public comment period on Net neutrality. Last time they asked for comments they received 4 million; let’s break that record.

    From the article

    You can contact FCC chairman Ajit Pai and let him know what you think by emailing him: You can also call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322. At the prompt, press 1, then 4, then 2, then 0 to be connected to an agent and file a complaint.

    This is not the official place to leave comments, but it might make you feel better email Pai directly. The link to the official comment page is here:

    Write a letter, the first link gives you plenty of evidence why this is a bad idea. I hope that the FCC’s website goes down again.

    1. jawbone

      Ajit Pai on NewsHour:

      Video and transcript.

      I was in the kitchen coming out to check far few secs to minutes on what was being said. Mostly I was distracted by his frequent use of raised eyebrows to show, I think, his utter sincerity.

      But he will not affect anyone’s ability to access sites of their choice on the internet. Really!

      And net neutrality is bad, see?

      AJIT PAI: There is significant evidence that investment in infrastructure has gone down since the adoption of these rules.

      For example, there is a study by a highly respected economist that says that among the top 12 Internet service providers in terms of size, investment is down by 5.6 percent, or several billion dollars, over the last two years.

      And amongst smaller providers as well, just literally this week, 22 Internet service providers with 1,000 customers or less told us that these Title II regulations have kept them from getting the financing that they need to build out their networks. And, as they put it, these net neutrality regulations hang like a black cloud over our businesses.

      And so what we’re trying to do going forward is figure out a way that we can preserve that free and open Internet that consumers want and need and preserve that incentive to invest in the network that will ultimately benefit even more consumers going forward.

      All will be wondrous without net neutrality!

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Thank you for posting that. It gives an insight into how Pai thinks of things. He seems to fall into the growth > all other concerns trap. Or at least that is all he talks about.

        …and preserve that incentive to invest in the network that will ultimately benefit even more consumers going forward.

        The incentive to invest is growing your customer base, or getting the customer to pay more for the same product. It seems the ISP’s are planning on the latter.

        Chaplin, meanwhile, predicts average revenue per user (ARPU) will also grow, as cable operators find ways behind usage-based pricing to increase prices.

        “Comcast and Charter have given up on usage-based pricing for now; however, we expect them to continue annual price increases,” Chaplin said. “As the primary source of value to households shifts increasingly from pay-TV to broadband, we would expect the Cable companies to reflect more of the annual rate increases they push through on their bundles to be reflected in broadband than in the past. Interestingly, Comcast is now pricing standalone broadband at $85 for their flagship product, which is a $20 premium to the rack rate bundled price.”

        Since no one wants to pay for their ridiculous cable TV costs, the cable companies will get you with broadband increases.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Let’s face it, we’ll end up with one provider who determines what we can and cannot see…and it will be blindingly fast. We can tell our kids and grandkids that “freedom of speech” was once a thing, they’ll be amazed

      2. a different chris

        >we can preserve that free and open Internet that consumers want and need and preserve that incentive to invest in the network

        Um, make it a public utility? My lights are more reliable than my Internet, and my Internet connection is apparently, relative to other connections pretty good. I see power company trucks a lot more often than Comcast trucks, so the incentive seems to be there.

  8. efschumacher

    The Price for Killing Workers Must Be Prison AlterNet

    Except in Arkansas, where the price must be death, using drugs that are past their sell-by date.

  9. Tom Stone

    Why aren’t abortion rights and the right to keep and bear arms discussed as class issues?
    Does anyone think a rich kid will go to a back alley abortionist when a civilized country is a short plane ride away?
    Has anyone on the left noticed that current and former police officers have legally become a Knightly class with superior legal rights ( LEO bill of rights, ability to buy firearms not available to the general public for their personal use).
    I haven’t seen anyone on the left ask how Donald Trump ( Or Don Perata and Dianne Feinstein) obtained concealed weapons permits that are flat out not obtainable to anyone without a lot of pull. These are hot button issues and they are both clearly issues of class, why isn’t that discussed?

    1. MtnLife

      Because liberals and the professional class are basically synonymous. Why would they fight for a class they aren’t a part of? They view guns and poor workers with much the same disdain due to the predilection for messiness and real work that those terms carry. Why would they need guns to fight or for protection? They’ve got lawyers and police that respond instantly for that. Why would they need guns to hunt? They’ve got the money to buy all the organic, grass fed, free range meat that they want. To them, guns are a symbol of “the other” to be demonized accordingly.

    2. hunkerdown

      I have seen a disturbing uptick in USA flags on cars desecrated with the Thin Blue Line, including one “white working class” member flying a full-size such flag from his pickup (which, I should also note, was driven with incomplete regard to courteous and lawful operation). Need more leftist gun clubs like the Huey P. Newton which ban liberals.

  10. allan

    In Heat of Dakota Access Protests, National Sheriffs’ Association Lobbied for More Military Gear [DeSmogBlog]

    At the end of 2016, as a mix of sheriffs, police, and private security forces were clashing with those protesting the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the National Sheriffs’ Association was lobbying Congress for surplus military gear and on undisclosed issues related to the now-operating oil pipeline. This information comes from federal lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog. …

    The multi-state policing response at Standing Rock came under sharp criticism due to its highly militarized nature against the Native American-led opposition. Spurred by the North Dakota governor’s emergency declaration, law enforcement officials nationwide began pouring into North Dakota under the auspices of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). …

    Founded in 1940 and headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the Sheriffs’ Association has a $3.46 million budget, according to its most recently filed tax forms.

    Some of the organization’s funding comes from corporate sources, according to its website, which includes the private security company TigerSwan. As DeSmog reported in October 2016, TigerSwan maintains offices in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran. TigerSwan was put “in charge of Dakota Access intelligence and supervises the overall security,” according to an investigation conducted by Morton County in North Dakota.

    James Reese, TigerSwan’s founder and CEO, formerly served as an adviser to the multinational private security firm Blackwater. …

    Blow-back comes in many forms.

  11. voteforno6

    Re: Obama Cashing In

    Why am I not surprised that a plagiarist like Doris Kearns Goodwin was tabbed to interview him? She’s what passes for a historian among the “serious” class, and he’s what passes for a President.

    1. RUKidding

      Ha ha! Bingo! A match made in the 9th circle of hades, eg, the Sunday am bloviating “shows.”

  12. Anne

    Does the Trump administration really believe that having a security clearance means they didn’t have to vet Flynn for the job? That a security clearance is an acceptable substitute for vetting? Because they sure are working overtime trying to make the case for that, so that they can blame all of this Flynn stuff on the Obama administration.

    Seems like just one more example of how woefully unprepared the transition team and the current staff were and are to handle the details of staffing and governing. Was there no one on that team who said, “wait – hold on a minute. Just because the DoD issued Flynn a security clearance doesn’t mean we don’t have to vet him. We need to do the due diligence on this and make sure there’s nothing lurking that could be a problem – we need to spend some time looking into what Flynn was doing in the two years since he was fired as head of DIA – we can’t skip this step just because he has a a security clearance.”

    Guess not.

    And can I just add that Trump must be a terrible poker player – call his bluff and he folds. We’re going to see a lot more of that, and the only question is, which party figures out how best to use that?

    1. RUKidding

      I don’t think Trump expected to win. I think he ran mainly to improve his family’s business brand and to make money from the exercise. I think he was probably as surprised as anyone else when he won.

      The immensely wealthy Mercer family, who heaped gobs of money to him and his campaign, also seem less knowledgeable Oligarch backers, than, say, the Kochs, who are much more savvy at how all this “business of governmenting” works.

      So, no, I don’t think Trump, Bannon & Kushner knew WTF they were doing, and yes, they probably naively thought that bc Flynn had a security clearance he was “good to go.” Attempting to blame Obama for this is de rigueur anyway. Trump’s base will happily buy that, at any rate.

      1. montanamaven

        Does anybody have a copy of the speech he gave at this dinner? It was a very public venue.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I think it’s fun to see a complete amateur in there, trying to throw tantrums but not succeeding. Being president “is harder than he thought” LOL. And wouldn’t it be great if an organization coalesced that opposed his policies and promoted viable alternatives of their own

      3. Procopius

        Remember that Charles Koch actually ran for Vice President once. Also, Robert Mercer is reputed to be a computer genius but so socially inept he tries never to deal with anyone outside his family, although he obviously is able to do so when he has to. So he has had little exposure to real life. I would guess that the Kochs simply have more exposure to real life legal requirements and interpersonal relationships than the Mercers.

        I can’t think of any good reason why Flynn decided not to bother requesting permission from the Secretary of the Army. I suppose he was just being the petulant toddler. Every officer above the rank of Captain has to know about that law because it applies to accepting medals and plaques from grateful foreign governments, any kind of gift, which happens more often as you gain higher rank. Generals must have to do it several times a year. Of course none of the draft-dodging civilians on the transition team would know about it.

  13. Toshiro_Mifune

    Not Sure What to Wear? Amazon Can Help

    I know sentiment here is generally anti Amazon but a product like this, or a similar one with with a few enhancements, could be really useful. One of the biggest problems with online clothes shopping is fit. Especially since many designers seem to lie through their teeth about their sizes for both men and women. A device like this, perhaps with a cheap laser and a Kinect like servo, that could scan the body to determine size would be great.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Maybe, instead of putting a camera in your house to take your measurements and broadcast them on the internet, they could invent a place people could go and try clothes on and see how they fit and look before they buy them. They could also see what actual color the clothes are, and decide if the quality is up to their standards.

      They could call it a store.

      Of course, I’m just spitballin’ here…….

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        If physical retailers had what I wanted I wouldn’t be shopping at Bonobos.

        If you’re a man and your waist isn’t 36+ then options start to become limited. If you waist is under 32, good luck finding anything in store. If your under 30 your shopping on-line because that’s about the only option if you want things to fit properly, same with shirts. It’s actually worse with shirts.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          If i could buy RTW pants/trousers from a store, I would. Not possible for someone with a 31 waist and long legs. For instance: Passing by I went into a familyblogging huge Levi’s outlet location in Oregon that had a wall of 501s that was 50ftx10ft probably thousands of pairs. They not only didn’t have a shrink-to-fit 33×36 in stock, their huge display didn’t have a niche to put any. There probably aren’t a dozen store locations in the entire US that would have that size in stock. This wasn’t true even ten, fifteen years ago. I could still buy those at the local Fred Meyer off the shelf. Until one day, they vanished everywhere, seemingly all at once.

          1. a different chris

            >ven ten, fifteen years ago. I could still buy those at the local

            Yeah the rise of the MBAs pretty much put paid – pun not intended – to useful stores.

      2. diptherio

        Hey, great idea! But I dunno…the personal bio-metric tracking device sounds pretty convenient.

        1. MtnLife

          If we don’t give them unfettered access to our biometrics how will the facial recognition software know what to send the robotic pickers to get when I finally visit said brick and mortar warehouses, erm, stores? My consumer experience may be negatively affected.

      3. Eureka Springs

        Or people could, you know, buy a measuring tape. Im sure there must be a blue tooth connectable out there somewhere.

        1. Toshiro_Mifune

          A measuring tape could work, but I couldn’t attract VC funding with that.

          The idea is, you get a scan, your stats are stored in a hash’ed form and where you shop on-line reads the hashed form, de-codes and compares against their actual sizing** and says, “Oh hey, you really don’t want a medium of that shirt, you want a small, or a medium “slim fit”, etc etc etc. Much easier to buy something like a suit or sport coat.
          Based on my wife’s experience shopping, this would help her a lot as well.

          ** for a lot of places the size charts are awful.

      4. Eclair

        Actually, it’s called “GoodWill.” They have racks of clothes, nice roomy fitting rooms, and great sales. For special events, like weddings and such, there are always the local, more upscale consignment shops.

      5. jrs

        I like online shopping for it’s additional choices in many things but I agree with going to stores for clothes and shoes. I also mostly go to stores for food except occasionally spices etc..

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve been reading about proposals like this for years, but nobody seems to have made it work. It could make a huge difference, not least in eliminating an enormous amount of waste in the textile industry and cutting out hordes of middlemen. Years back I was bike touring in Vietnam and stopped off at a place where I got a suit and a pile of shirts made for me by local tailors for very little money – I find it hard to find clothes to fit my odd-shaped body, and they’ve done me perfectly, I still have most of them 15 years later.

      I’ve always thought that if you could match up measurements with crafts people around the world you could have nicer, better fitting clothes for everyone, and you could cut out the middleman and pay the workers directly. But of course Amazon would want their huge cut, which is why it would be great if some non-profits did something like this, but presumably it just requires too much money.

      1. MtnLife

        So when is the NC community launching Threadz & Linkz, the peer to peer commerce app for fashion and fashion accessories? We can use the proceeds to fund NC/water cooler and Naked meet ups (or meetings of the Naked, your choice of wording) around the country, not just big cities. The title then having a double meanings for links and threads.

        1. fresno dan

          April 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm

          I am going to be listing blue jeans slathered in bullsh*t, at 4,000$ a pair, as it seems to me there is just an inexhaustible market for bullsh*t.
          And I think I will expand with a premium brand of pin strip suits slathered in bullsh*t as well, for 40,000$ a suit (you do get two pairs of pants) because when your on Wall Street, your going
          to need synergistic bullsh*t and that don’t come cheap…

        1. HBE

          Fair trade isn’t really fair trade. Just guesstimating but I would say ~95% of the time the premium one pays for fair trade. Never ever actually goes to the impoverished workers it is supposed to benefit.

          Nothing more than good (bad) marketing in most cases.

          1. HotFlash

            Well, as usual, it’s who you know, and how well you know them. I buy my coffee and chocolate from a small outfit here in Toronto that deals directly with the growers in Mexico. I know them, they are my neighbours, and I trust them. I buy my exotics, when I do, from people I know and trust. For stuff that grows here, I (try to) buy local, grow it myself or forage. Will I get burned someday? Probably. But I think this is the way to go.

  14. Linda

    Trump talked to 3 Reuters reporters in the Oval Office. Maybe it was less sad in person than it comes off in print. And, maybe it will get better when Melania and his son move in (or not).

    He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

    President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

    “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

    Trump, who said he was accustomed to not having privacy in his “old life,” expressed surprise at how little he had now. And he made clear he was still getting used to having 24-hour Secret Service protection and its accompanying constraints.

    “You’re really into your own little cocoon, because you have such massive protection that you really can’t go anywhere,” he said.

    He said he missed being behind the wheel himself.

    “I like to drive,” he said. “I can’t drive any more.”

    He said during this interview that he would go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner next year.

    1. RUKidding

      As I just said, up above, I don’t believe Trump thought he would win. He LOVED the adulation on the campaign trail, and clearly he had some axes to grind with the entirety of the political class – both R and D. That said, he never really thought deeply – if Trump can even think deeply – about what this job means and how it all pans out.

      No wonder he’s sad. His “old life” is effectively over for the rest of his life. He made a bargain with the devil and now he’s gotta deal with the outcome.

      I’m not sure having Melania and Barron around will make much difference. I don’t get the feeling that they’re particularly close or really get along all that well. Melania’s there to perform the arm candy function and to make other men jealous. I doubt he gives much of a stuff about her otherwise. IOW, I don’t really see them as friends and confidants.

      1. fresno dan

        April 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

        As obtuse as Trump is, it may be dawning on him that he is not making ANY serious decisions. Indeed, it may be dawning on him that he can’t even come up with a relevant question.
        On the other hand, judging by his belief that thin gold leaf signifies something, he may be so shallow and superficial that he is totally unaware and may be very happy being the optimistic pitchman for the greatest American empire EVAH! In Trump’s world, 99.9% is the pitch….(or 100%….or 110%)

        AND so what if Bush and Obama were more aware that they are merely the human rubber stamp for Goldman Sachs? How did that change ANYTHING that they did???

    2. Anne

      I’m sure he will enjoy sitting in the audience while President Pence gets roasted…not that I expect an impeachment as much as I expect a resignation. I think this is too hard a job for Trump – if anyone exemplified the Peter Principle, it’s Trump – and he’s not having as much fun as he thought he would.

      As for Melania, could she be less interested in being First Lady? I don’t think she ever thought her husband would win, either, so she endured the campaign thinking it would all be over on election day and they could go back to their old life.

      Barron? He just looks to me like a sad and lonely little boy.

    3. fresno dan

      April 28, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Hard to read that and not think “how pathetic” – and I’m talking about the country, not Trump.
      The supposed greatest nation on earth – and the choice was Clinton or Trump.

      If there is a silver lining, maybe we have reached peak people voting for vacuous pronouncements (was Trump much different than Obama?) from inexperienced people…..but I doubt it.

  15. allan

    Chicago fires head of security at O’Hare, Midway for not disclosing why he lost Tollway job [Chi Trib]

    The city fired the head of security at O’Hare and Midway airports Thursday for what City Hall sources said was his failure to disclose critical details of his prior employment at the Illinois Tollway, after a confidential memo obtained by the Tribune revealed numerous allegations of sexual harassment against him.

    The Tribune reported last week that Jeffrey Redding, the city’s deputy aviation commissioner of security, was fired from the Tollway in 2015 after a female employee alleged that Redding sought sex and money in exchange for work-related favors. He denied any coercion and maintained that his relationship with the woman, a toll collector, was consensual.

    Redding, 54, had been a point person in the investigation of the April 9 United Airlines passenger-dragging fiasco at O’Hare International Airport. He oversaw the officers who forcibly removed the passenger, Dr. David Dao, from his seat after he was bumped from the flight. …

    The woman was interviewed Aug. 10, 2015, and Redding was fired a day later, according to records and the Tollway. He was hired for the aviation post a little over six months later. …

  16. Bandit

    Chelsea Clinton: fake experience, fake board positions, and now fake awards. OMG! What next, fake senate seat in congress?

  17. Montanamaven

    From the Truthdig article on more of the history of the neo con takeover of America, I got this nugget from one of my favorite writers, Christopher Lasch (The REvolt of the Elites). This goes to a discussion I had yesterday on how to talk to so-called liberals or Democrats when they swallow stories like Russian hacking, Russian invasions, Russian fake news that they are the ones who are being the “dupes” not people who read alternative news sites like NC. They are in fact non paid propagandists who are expected to police “their own jurisdictions” You know, like their Facebook page. I like that.
    Machiavellian Elites Takeover of America

    As historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1969 of the CIA’s cooptation of the American left, “The modern state … is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as ‘free’ intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions.”

    1. montanamaven

      Another quote from the Truthdig article I posted over on that I thought appropriate to Ian’s essay on “The Age of War and Revolution”.

      “As George Orwell wrote in his “Second Thoughts on James Burnham”: “What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. … Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud.”

      So, if this is true, then logically,in order to implement a new system of peace and equality, we have got to gain power by lying and cheating? Are there any examples of some crafty do-gooder ruler bribing his courtiers so that they do peaceable things? other than Glenda the Good Witch?

      1. Olga

        Thanks for reminding me of Christopher Lasch; it’s been too long since I read his work. He certainly deserves to be much better known/recognised.

  18. s.n.

    i am shocked – shocked- that the guardian would stoop to such transparent puffery:
    How Macron calmed Whirlpool workers whipped up by Le Pen
    “The favourite for the French presidency braved a picket line to explain the flaws in his rival’s promises to furious factory employees ….In an era when politicians’ interactions with the public are stage-managed to the last image-obsessed detail, when meaningless slogans are all they are allowed to utter and when no candidate is allowed near any situation that might misfire, it was a rare moment….Macron’s intervention was all the braver because it followed a brief but incendiary appearance on the same Whirlpool picket line by the Front National leader…..

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Funny, my take on that was that Le Pen embarrassed the clueless, empty suit into showing up in person…

  19. Optimader

    I would rather shine shoes than be a banker FT. I know I’ve said this before, but I am so going to miss Lucy Kellaway’s writing when she leaves the FT later this year.

    Id rather be a banker…

  20. Fool


    …the Democratic party has at best only tepidly supported abortion rights and rely too much on the courts.

    To this point, apropos of Shattered — specifically that part about how the Clintons could exert major pressure on Dem congresspeople for their “loyalty” and whip it to their will — I recall how the State Dept appropriations bill while she was SoS included a prohibition on all foreign aid for abortions.

    What cowardice.

    1. Pat

      Doing anything else might have hurt her chances to be President according to her triangulation. Mind you I truly believe that Clinton personally finds the idea of abortion and gay sex icky to the extreme so she leans in the conservative direction naturally, but she has always been at best a fair weather friend about any women’s right that didn’t directly effect her. Which is why the very early endorsement of Planned Parenthood was so galling. That they failed to recognize it was politicians like Clinton and her husband threading needles and offering limited if any support that had led to their being an open target to be killed by elected officials was one of the biggest was one of the most edifying things of the last election for me.

  21. JTMcPhee

    Re “businesses killing workers,” another little bit from my personal history, tied to current issues:

    A couple of “good citizen” Mormon rich guys decided in 1976, when silver prices were spiking, to try to repeat Bunky Hunt’s attempt to corner the silver market. Our country generated millions of pounds of discarded X-ray and photo film sheets that contain a lot of silver. These guys “made a free market” for disposal of the films. They founded “Film Recovery Services, Inc.” and rented a defunct warehouse and hired a bunch of mopes, including illegal-alien, Polish, non-English speaking Stefan Golab, the subsequently dead worker, to turn the films to little chips and soak them in vats filled with sodium cyanide and boiling water. All using the cheapest and most rudimentary of equipment, and with no personal protective gear other than cloth gloves and paper masks (switched out for respirators and rubber gloves when an inspection was coming). The silver-containing cyanide liquid was drained to other vessels, where the silver was extracted by electroplating. The mopes got to scrape the silver off the plating anodes by hand, all while breathing and ingesting and absorbing cyanide in varying amounts. In Golab’s case, fatal amounts. Part of the reason the “entrepreneur” cheaped out, other than “profits,” was that silver prices took a dip in the early ’80s.

    Five corporate officers and managers were eventually indicted, and three of them were convicted, but the guy who was most responsible, Michael MacKay, was protected by the then governor of Utah, where MacKay fled, from extradition to Illinois after the indictments were issued. So he never faced any accounting for his actions, other than a little “damage to reputation.” I’ll refer anyone interested in the gory details to the following two links, the first being a slide presentation that covers most of the ugly points and finishes with some ‘ethical questions,’ , and the other a 1987 Notre Dame Law Review article expostulating “the state of the law” on corporate and corporate- officer criminal liability, of which the salient part for me starts on page 929 (it’s only a 28-page article), “VI. Policy Considerations in Corporate Criminal Prosecution.” Ah, maybe one more link, from a former Chicago investigative rag, the “Reader:” Lots of outrage, no actual significant government-applied correctives to speak of…

    Small comfort that three of the corporate officers and managers actually were sentenced to jail for this. But I can tell you that there was a sh!tstorm of noise from the corporate bar about how this was “outrageous,” along with a bit of sit-up-and-take-notice from the C-suite-ers, leading eventually to the gutting of the legal language that allowed a brave Attorney General and State’s Attorney to ride public outrage at the time and actually, you know, apply the law and prosecute. Huge personal frustration on my part, as an active advocate for US EPA and Justice Department enforcement of criminal provisions of major environmental laws, and the applicable and potent parts of the US Criminal Code, against corporate looters and malefactors — we had a few successes, but with Reagan that pretty much got hamstrung.

    Hey, if China, for goodness’ sake, can readily identify, prosecute and jail OR EXECUTE corporate looters and grifters, why not the US? (Purely rhetorical question, of course, and yes, I know the Chinese political economy runs on the Great Corruption…)

    There are so many items of note in the FRS example. One is that Reagan-era OSHA inspectors, the few that were left, were ordered not to actually inspect the work sites, just do a records check. Check the slide presentation for so many more, too many to list…

    My personal involvement was as an enforcement attorney for the US EPA, as part of the team that had to figure out how to “legally” and properly dispose of the millions of pounds of film chips, containing traces of cyanide, MacKay had rented thousands of broke-down semi-trailers to dump the chips into, and then walked away from them on dozens of trailer storage properties, paying neither the trailer nor ground rent. The federal Superfund legislation could have been invoked to try to force a corporate-funded cleanup, but money was found and this bit of public badness faded into the memory hole…

    A little aside: Greenpeace, that do-gooder bunch, needs money to operate. One possibility for disposing the film chips properly was incineration. The chips are made of polyester and acetate,, with minute traces of cyanide. Polyester, acetate and cyanide combust and degrade readily, and because there’s no chlorine present, there is zero chance of producing “dioxins” from the process, Proper incineration would produce mostly CO2 and water vapor. Greenpeace went to the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, one of the richest and most conservative towns in America, and yelled that the small specialty company there that was going to test-burn some chips in their research incinerator would be “killing the children with DIOXINS!!!!” And reaped a bumper crop of contributions from the rich folks there who are universally NIMBY. I talked to one of the “coordinators” of that exercise, suggesting maybe they were committing a fraud and long-term damaging their brand, and (s)he was just fine with the deception since “it was in a good cause.”

    Ach, who cares? anymore…

    1. optimader

      Ach, who cares? anymore…

      Virtually no one.
      I do remember the case tho. A dumpy industrial building in Elk Grove Village. Basic Extractive Metallurgy for Idiots.

      The poor shlubs IIRC were on a boardwalk above heated vats of cyanide solution stirring the chips. How was that not going to end well?

      I call the case as the Corporation I worked for at the time volunteered a solution for all the abandoned contaminated chips sitting in truck trailers in various parking lots.

      . A pilot scale hazardous waste incinerator, we had at a test facility located in Naperville was proposed for a technology demonstration.. Perfect solution until IIRC an asshat running for Mayor at the time threw out the sea anchor on a demonstration run and it then decayed into a hysterical public hearings ( I believe he won his election!)
      The project was nixed and I believe it was all chucked into a landfill. instead of being turned into vapor of steam, CO2 and N2 molecules..

    2. Susan the other

      This is a very interesting story and I’m sure there are hundreds like it. Interesting because it is a good illustration of how overlooked good recycling practices are/would be environmentally useful and profitable. But we are all lazy or hysterical. Or both. Maybe they go together. I’d say recycling – good recycling science – is undeniably “shovel ready” – yet no money goes there.

  22. winstonsmith

    Re: “Speaking Fees”

    It would be more accurate to call the payments “fees allegedly for speaking” since they are almost certainly rewards for obedient service while president thinly disguised as speaking fees. Does anybody think that if Obama’s DOJ had jailed 100s or 1000s of criminal banker CEOs and CFOs or passed single-payer healthcare he would be asked to speak by the likes of Cantor Fitzgerald at a health-care conference and paid $400,000?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The arguments over pre-Clovis settlement of the Americas is very much I think an example of the old saying that science progresses funeral by funeral. Anomolous pre-Clovis sites have been turning up in north and south American for many decades, but archaeologists risked destroying their careers if they pushed the arguments too far – the strongly held line in academia was that evidence was overwhelming that the Clovis people were the first and only major population group to cross from Asia. But I think the evidence has now become overwhelming that people have been in the Americas for 10s of thousands of years before them.

      But the big question it raises is that if humans arrived so early, why is there so little evidence pre-Clovis? And why is there very little genetic or linguistic evidence of any groups other than the Clovis people? And how did they get there before the landbridge emerged after the last Ice Age? Its entirely possible that there were a few failed settlements – perhaps they didn’t have the knowhow or technology to go past the climatic ‘bands’ that cross the Americas and traditionally have made north-south movements difficult and so became isolated and either died out, or were wiped out by later incomers. I’ve heard it suggested that the Tierra del Fuego people, who have a language that doesn’t seem to relate to any known Indian langauge, may be the last remnant of a pre-Clovis population. Its even possible that they weren’t homo sapiens, but one of the other homo species that we are finding increasing evidence of (not least homo floriensis). Its all very interesting.

      1. Vatch

        Its entirely possible that there were a few failed settlements

        Yes! That’s very plausible. I wish more people would acknowledge that possibility in the online discussions.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        There is a new genetic technique out there that seems to be working in Europe where they can find human DNA from campsites or things that ancient people touched. I doubt that they will ever get a genome from that research but it will be possible for them to date the areas by other means (geologically, from other animal and plant fossils, etc.) and show that humans were in the vicinity at that time. Perhaps that type of testing will provide more insight as to when the first peoples came to the Americas…..

        Sadly the fewer the people, the fewer the bones left…..Eva of Naharon is still the oldest fossilized human found in the Americas, I believe, and she is only about 13,600 years old….

      3. lyman alpha blob

        This type of debate is one of the reasons I did not go into archaeology despite finding it very interesting too. Trying to piece together ancient history based on an extremely scant remaining evidence is next to impossible, but that doesn’t stop academics from churning out theories.

        I worked on a bronze age site in Crete many years ago and we found any number of artifacts which the site director would then use to speculate. We worked on a small island a few hundred feet off the coast which one could easily swim or take a small boat to – the theory on that was it had once been connected to the Crete and the land sunk during an earthquake. We worked out there every day and ate lunch, sometimes dropping a water bottle or other piece of trash. One day we found a piece of Byzantine glass near what had been identified as a bronze age wall. The director then claimed that this was proof that the site had been inhabited during Byzantine times and the walls were now attributed to that period. This despite the fact that every other thing we dug up was clearly from the bronze age. My theory, which I found to be much more plausible, was that some Byzantines back in the day saw some ancient ruins and decided to go poke around and one of them dropped their water bottle and didn’t clean it up – just like what we were often doing during our own lunch break.

        He also found a mineral deposit in the midst of the excavated area and claimed that mineral could only be found in Anatolia and thus had proof of an ancient trade route between there and Crete. Until the local fisherman who took us to the island on his boat every morning pointed out a deposit of that same mineral just over the next hill.

        I’m glad archaeology has developed new methods and changed from the outright pillaging it used to be, but it will never be a hard science.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I studied archaeology briefly in the 1980’s and worked on a neolithic site and your story sounds quite familiar – the professor was old school and highly respected, but it was clear that he was only really interested in certain things and left it to students and assistants to deal with any findings that weren’t to his taste. That said, there were plenty of people doing sound scientific and statistical work. A guy I know spent years sorting through thousands of bits of bone from one single site, just so he could be sure he had unimpeachable statistical samples for his conclusions on diet in the viking era.

          I must admit though I’m cynical about any science being entirely ‘hard’. Lee Smolins excellent book ‘The Trouble with Physics’ shows that even theoretical physics isn’t immune to confirmation bias.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Yes I’m a Smolin fan and that’s a great read. Along the same vein, one of these days I also need to get around to reading Peter Woit’s “Not Even Wrong”. At some point string theorists are going to have to come up with some testable predictions, which to me is what defines something as a hard, rather than a soft or social science.

            Your buddy’s project is another reason I didn’t get into the field. We uncovered literally tons of 3500 year old potsherds which we then sorted by type which was tedious enough. They then went into a warehouse for who knows how long waiting for someone like your friend to show up and study them in great detail, for who knows what purpose. Can be very valuable work though if one has the patience for it, but I realized I did not. I found that I was much more interested in downing some raki over mezedes with the locals than counting the purple flecks of clay embedded in little pieces of broken brown pots ;)

          2. HotFlash

            the professor was old school and highly respected

            Ah yes! Reminds me of the locked box at the British Museum, “belonging” to one of those types, and reputed to contain cunieform texts contradicting the Bible. Not to mention Petrie’s bogus jar-handle chronology.

      4. Susan the other

        It’s a shame that archeologists are such a jealous band of savages. Brazil has settlements that, reportedly, go back 40,000 years and others more recent but still way more ancient than Clovis people. Nothing seems to be more important than protecting the academic, accepted timeline. Gosh, can’t rewrite history because of evidence.

    2. giantsquid

      Could have been Neanderthals:

      “The risk haplotype [for Diabetes 2] carries four amino acid substitutions, all in SLC16A11; it is present at ~50% frequency in Native American samples and ~10% in east Asian, but is rare in European and African samples. Analysis of an archaic genome sequence indicated that the risk haplotype introgressed into modern humans via admixture with Neanderthals.”

      Of course, the high percentage of this allele found in Native Americans is more likely due a founder effect. Otherwise, Neanderthals were around a lot longer than scientists now believe or modern humans arrived in the Americas much earlier than assumed (or both).

    3. Musicismath

      The problem with that claim, so far as I can see, concerns the interpretation of the site. There’s a lot of disagreement as to whether the “tools” found were genuinely worked by human hands or were simply oddly shaped rocks, and there’s a further question as to whether they’re genuinely in association with the mastodon remains.

      Site interpretation ultimately boils down to narrative, and it’s always a question as to whether the bits of evidence sequenced into the story actually stand up to scrutiny.

      There’s a long history of naturally weathered rocks and stones being misidentified as hominid tools: see eolith.

  23. justanotherprogressive


    I’ve never put a lot of faith in Buchanan as a voice for Conservatism – seems to me like he is a “useful idiot” for the powers that be and he can always be counted on to direct his readers and listeners to only what the powers that be want them to hear………so why is he trying to stir up Conservatives against the generals?

    A couple of examples come to mind where perhaps the “generals” appear to be saner than the rest of the government:
    1. Syria – those tomahawks could have done incredibly serious damage and involved the US even more dramatically into conflict, but they didn’t – and I don’t think it was because their was a fault in the mechanics of the missiles….someone decided that they shouldn’t do much….
    2. The person who directed the Carl Vinson movements could have sent it immediately to the waters outside North Korea and escalated the situation. But instead the Carl Vinson took a roundabout trip, to Australia and Japan to allow the NK situation to cool……

    This attack on the generals will be interesting to watch…..

  24. allan

    Kasich: Trump should ‘eradicate’ North Korean leadership [WaPo]

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate, said Friday that President Trump ought to “eradicate” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his top lieutenants in a surgical military strike designed to give rise to a more benign leadership in Pyongyang. …

    But as NC readers know, the cost of surgery is hard to predict. Especially in advance.

    It’s always fun hearing Serious People, including titans of industry or Wall Street,
    talk about military operations when they haven’t a clue.

    1. Pat

      And to think that Kasich was the choice of many of the people I know who wanted a serious, not so bad, seemingly capable alternative to Trump. And yes this included Democrats seeking a Republican they thought they could vote for instead of being stuck voting for Clinton. Somehow I bet they miss this.

  25. Chauncey Gardiner

    WRT North Korea, it was both telling and surprising that yesterday in a Reuters interview Trump publicly voiced some respect for Kim: …”He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age. …. I’m not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do.”…

    Extending respect, or “giving face”, is important in any diplomatic context. But perhaps nowhere is it more important than in East Asia. I consider his comments to be an effort to reduce the level of tension and potential for military confrontation, and to initiate negotiations with a brutally repressive and paranoid regime, perhaps with Xi’s sponsorship. But I also recognize that I c/b reading too much into Trump’s remarks and am possibly very wrong in this assessment. After all, Trump says a lot of things.

  26. Bobby Shaftoe

    Great quote (sarcasm) from “Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times” in the “What the Press Still Doesn’t Get About Trump” article. Trying to keep the “Russians are coming!” narrative alive:

    “for quality news organizations like the New York Times, Washington Post, ProPublica, CNN, BuzzFeed News, the Guardian”

    CNN? BuzzFeed News?!?!

  27. Dead Dog

    Good on Brockovich for continuing to put sunlight on the huge potable water problem in the US.
    Everyone knows not to drink the water in third world countries.

    What steps do you take? Boiling it won’t kill the chemicals…

    1. JTMcPhee

      For those who can afford it, there are very effective filters that will remove everything down to the virus particle level, and dissolved and suspended toxins and heavy metals…

      For those who can afford them…

      And to the extent that people denigrate government, at least there are a lot of good people, government employees mostly, who work their butts off to try to keep reasonably safe potable water flowing through the pipes they are not funded well enough to replace and maintain. So we can flush our toilets with a scarce resource, wash the goobers off our driveways with it, “water” our monoculture lawns, shower under “rain forest” and spa-steam fixtures, fill our pools, and all those fairways and greens and water hazards and water features that make life just a little more luxurious can stay pretty. And of course there’s lots more corrupt diversions of the source of all life, too many to mention…

  28. optimader

    and to initiate negotiations with a brutally repressive and paranoid regime

    The last two points are NK problem. It is a sovereign country.

    The framing of the first point applies to a lot of Countries we negotiate with, no less have diplomatic relationships.

  29. allan

    Auditions today for the position of Trump’s Ernst Rohm:

    NRA’s LaPierre: Greatest U.S. ‘domestic threats’ are political, academic and media elites

    National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre urged gun owners to stand up to “academic elites, political elites and media elites” at the annual NRA convention in Atlanta on Friday, deeming those three groups to be “America’s greatest domestic threats.”

    “They’ll seemingly stop at nothing, including tearing apart our country,” said LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO. “If we don’t stand up to them, and I mean now, an entire generation of Americans could be lost and our nation along with them.” …

    “We must do all we can to support our president, because as you know, there’s an intense war that’s being waged by leftist zealots to destroy President Trump and destroy his administration,” LaPierre said. “It’s all part of a larger war being waged right now against truth in America. It’s a calculated, orchestrated attack against the values upon which our great nation was founded, against our uniquely American true freedom.” …

  30. ewmayer

    [Reply to PlutoniumKun in comments – loading the in-page reply-to-comment stuff too slow in my shared WiFi setting just now]

    “And how did they get there before the landbridge emerged after the last Ice Age?”

    The 2nd-most-recent pleistocene glacial episode, the Riss glaciation, ended ~130,000 years ago – there was a Bering land bridge during that one, too. The approximate ending time coincides the 130,000-year estimate cited in the above article.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Not sure what was covered above, but Homo erectus is known from China. From there, it isn’t very far to Alaska, given a few thousand years.

      Hmmm: Sasquatch, maybe?

      We’ll see if the date and the characterization of the assemblage hold up – they are, you might say, controversial. And it’s odd that there’ve been no skeletons; plenty of Pleistocene digs.

  31. Foy

    Initially I thought the article on the new McDonalds’ uniforms was a joke (and I’m no fan of McDonalds). Of all the links today that is the one that has shocked me the most for some weird reason. It’s like the big bad organisation from a James Bond film suddenly became very real, and that even McDonalds now doesn’t feel the need to look light and bright and inviting any more. They are being openly blatant about what type of organisation they are. I’m trying to find the word to describe the uniforms, the best I can can up with is ‘ominous’, and it goes downhill from there. There’s nothing attractive or friendly about them at all. They are the same dark colour as some SWAT outfits and, as other wags have said, Star Wars Death Star personnel.

    I really don’t want to put on my tin foil hat, but I can’t help but think the purpose behind it is a subliminal form of control of the employees, to make them feel even more like automatons and machine like when they go about their work and even less likely to push back against unreasonable instructions from above. And of course subliminally all their customers will start to feel the same way over time. Subliminal threat messaging everywhere.

    And the best thing for the TPTB is that McDonalds have exposure to a big portion of the population everyday. Tick…

    Darker is darker….

    1. Foy

      Tin foil hat is still firmly on….

      So the question is where did the idea for this uniform come from? I can’t believe the internal McDonalds’ branding/uniform department came up with it by themselves as it goes against all normal business branding/marketing principles. So I’m guessing the direction must have come from the CEO/Board level. And so where did that idea actually manifest? My tin foil hat opinion is that those closeted CEO/Board level types (who operate on multiple boards), came up with it. And that therefore the direction was not based on a McDonalds’ business need, but one that TPTB 1% saw as a societal need (from their perspective) to keep the automatons in line, fearful and suppressed. Is this the next step now that they have got the Homeland Security, SWAT and Police darkness well and truly in the forefront of our minds? Is it now feeding into normal business practices? I’m going to be very interested to see if another big corporate goes with a ‘darker’ uniform in the next 12 months.

      If true then it does show in fact how fearful they actually are that they are resorting to this type of thing.

      Can’t believe that I’m actually writing this stuff, George Orwell has got to me. Taking my tin foil hat off now…

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