Links 4/5/17

Who do you want a war with? Take the Mash test Daily Mash. I suspect readers could create their own version.

Meet the professor who teaches a 7-hour-long class called ‘Existential Despair’ Daily Pennsylvanian (guurst). Some might say we do that here for free! Actually, though if you read the article, this sounds like using the reading to create the effect of watching the movie Die große Stille and talking about it later.

Philosophy tool kit Aeon (Micael)

See a Ravioli Moon, Jovian Swirls and More Space Treats NBC (furzy)

Smartphones and Cognition: A review of research exploring the links between mobile technology habits and cognitive functioning Frontiers in Psychology (resilc). Some of the findings are wild, such as: “Further evidence suggests that even the mere awareness of the physical presence of a cell phone may impact cognitive performance.”

Brexit 1.0: Scientists find evidence of Britain’s original separation from Europe PhysOrg (Chuck L)


Trump and Xi: Ahead of Summit, Both Try to Reset U.S.-China Ties Wall Street Journal

China announces “medical tourism” special economic zone on Hainan Island Boing Boing

North Korea greets China-US summit with (another) missile test Asia Times

David Murray warns of 1890s housing crash depression MacroBusiness. Effectively presupposes a China crash, since they’d need to not be able or inclined to bottom fish.


May suggests unrestricted EU migration will continue post-Brexit Financial Times

MEPs tell Britain: Without us, no deal Politico

Port of Dover Sounds the Alarm on Post-Brexit Customs Maritime Executive (guurst)

Freeing up the rich to exploit the poor – that’s what Trump and Brexit are about George Monbiot, Guardian (Joe H, vlade)

French Election

Alison notes based on the latest polls:

As one might expect, Le Pen appeals to workers who feel disenfranchised, older people like Fillon, and the corporate elites like Macron. Young adults like Macron (age 39) and Le Pen.

Marine Le Pen might do better than expected because probably some people do not want to admit to pollsters that they will vote for the Front National. That was the great shock in the presidential election of 2002, when contrary to polls, the socialist candidate Lionel Jospin was defeated by a whisker in the first round, and Jacques Chirac and Marine’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen (founder of the Front National) were the two candidates in the runoff (Chirac won, of course). People remember that election.

Emmanuel Macron accuses Marine Le Pen of ‘peddling the same lies as your father’: talking points from fiery French presidential TV debate Telegraph

France’s second presidential TV debate more surreal than enlightening and Présidentielle : un premier débat à 11 émaillé de passes d’armes sur l’Europe et les affaires France24 (Alison)

Macron accuses Le Pen of wanting ‘economic war’ Financial Times

Presidential candidates in France hold second televised debate DW (Alison)

Présidentielle 2017 : ce qu’il faut retenir du débat entre les 11 candidats M6Info (Alison)

Débat : une autre parole à onze Liberation (Alison)

Unprecedented Politics in the French Elections Counterpunch

Greece races to secure next tranche of aid Financial Times. Recall the plan was to get this settled well before the French election. Oops. And it isn’t clear whether the IMF will get on board.

Dijsselbloem’s Parliament boycott inflames tensions Politico. The topic was the Greek bailout.

Sicily: the base for a US/Nato attack Voltairenet (Wat). From last month, still interesting.


France calls for emergency UN talks after Syria ‘gas attack’ Politico

The Dirtbag Left’s Man in Syria New York Magazine (resilc)

America’s Best Allies Against ISIS Are Inspired By A Bronx-Born Libertarian Socialist Huffington Post (resilc)

Israel Steps up Dirty Tricks Against Boycott Leaders Counterpunch

Trump’s Generals Are Considering a Wider War in Yemen Nation (resilc)

New Cold War

The Sovietization of the American Political-Media Establishment? TruthDig

Senate’s Russia Hearings Will Lead Nowhere Real News Network. A talk with Michael Hudson

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

IoT garage door opener maker bricks customer’s product after bad review ars technica


The Nasty Truth About the CIA Veterans Today (Judy B). The claim is pretty extreme, so I wouldn’t take this as gospel. However, the author allegedly had a front row seat.

U.S. Car Demand Collapse Jeopardizes Trump’s Auto Factory Push Bloomberg (resilc)

86 percent of Trump counties make less in a year than 27 Trump staffers are worth Washington Post

Boeing Wins $3 Billion Iran Sale in Potential Test for Trump Bloomberg (resilc)

Trump Transition

‘Extreme vetting’ would require visitors to US to share contacts and passwords Guardian. You can see where this is going. Americans going overseas would be required to do the same and our Five Eyes poodles would send the info to the US.

Trump’s Authoritarian Vision Los Angeles Times. Part three of five. Links to early editorials in the series at the top of the piece

H-1B Visa Overhaul Could Actually Benefit Big Tech Companies Bloomberg


The Push for Single-Payer Healthcare Is On. Democrats Should Get on Board or Get Out of the Way. In These Times (resilc)

Democrats’ Medicare-for-all litmus test CNN (Jeff W)

Centrists push back on new ObamaCare repeal plan The Hill

House Panel Wants Obama Aide to Testify, as Russia Probe Widens Wall Street Journal

The Military Is Resisting Trump’s Denialism, but It’s Still Not a Force for Climate Justice Truthout

Bernie Sanders’s Misguided Attacks on the “Liberal Elite” New Republic. Bob K: “This is the definition of a “left” hack. You wouldn’t think it possible to get everything wrong about the elites who captured the Democrat party, but this guy is giving it a shot.”

Dimon Warns ‘Something Is Wrong’ With the U.S. Bloomberg. As if he isn’t part of the problem.

Productivity and bad bosses Flip Chart Fairy Tales (vlade)

Tarullo Suggests Phasing Out Key Part of Bank Stress Tests Bloomberg

Wells Fargo Has to Pay a WhistleBlower $5.4 Million and Give Him His Job Back Reuters (Ulpanaylaylo). Not related to the fake accounts scam.

U.S. Firms Expected to Post Strongest Quarter Since 2011 Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

This Budding Movement Wants to Smash Monopolies Dave Dayen, Nation

Smoke pollution and health in the 19th century VoxEU

Martin Luther King’s Warning of America’s Spiritual Death Consortium News

Fifty Years On: MLK’s Giant Triplets Still Plague Us, Including Militarism. Counterpunch (Judy B)

Antidote du jour. neighbor7:

At Newport, Oregon. Imagine this scene x 10 (other, and larger, platforms also). When a newcomer tries to board, there’s lots of complaint, aggressive teeth-flaring, etc. Once they are aboard, all is snuggly-wuggly.

They really seem more like sea cows than sea lions.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Roger Smith

    I don’t know, I thought that New Republic analysis of liberal elites was dead on:

    Those damn liberal elites! They sip Starbucks in their Priuses while headed to a Harvard lecture about Hollywood film—or to the Hollywood set of a film about Harvard. These corrupt effete meritocrats are the truly powerful ones in America. May populism rise up and destroy them, so that inequality and smugness alike will vanish from the Earth.

    Let’s start attacking the real enemy, using language that clarifies rather than obscures.

    Agreed! – “Democrats”

    1. Carla

      “Let’s start attacking the real enemy, using language that clarifies rather than obscures.” Dave Dayen provides excellent grist for this mill in “This Budding Movement Wants to Smash Monopolies.” Let’s make sure lots of people see it.

    2. Uahsenaa

      Noah, whom I know, should probably stick to pop culture criticism. His writing on comics at least refuses to repeat received wisdoms.

      His politics, on the other hand, have baffled me for some time. He proposes to be for all sorts of leftist ideals, and I think genuinely so, yet he somehow can’t bring himself to support those who advocate for those ideals in the political realm (he often was on the “Sanders’ ideas are impractical” side). Also, he’s not very open to the idea that there’s a class of people who enable the rich (Frank’s “professional class”) or that a number of liberals act in bad faith (e.g. Pelosi, Biden, Booker, Heitkamp, etc.). They’re part of the problem as well, of course, so I have to say I read that paragraph much the same way you did.

    3. Benedict@Large

      The problem with the liberal elites is that they are all for all the right things until it becomes time to actually do something, Then all of a sudden, it’s, ‘Hold on. Wait. a minute. Not so fast …” as theycheck to make sure whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing won’t actually cost them anything; that it will only be the really rich (of which they never are) who might have to be discomforted.

      1. Roger Smith

        It is absolutely imperative that they lose 2018/2020. Even after 2016 they still think they can play best of both worlds. Everything is a marketing/fundraising opportunity to them. So far it seems to be working. Russia, Gorsuch fight, stringing along anti-Trump sentiment… activates the base while doing absolutely nothing tangible.

        1. Max

          In their defense, there aren’t a lot of tangible options left other than obstruction at this point.

          1. taunger

            The Republicans filed bills to repeal the ACA how many times? That wasn’t just obstruction – it was taking a stand on an issue (which is why their current failure is so hurtful).

            The Democrats should be taking that stand and be willing to fail. I’ll root for Rocky everyday, even if he gets the sh!t beat out of him before finally winning.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wrong, on every single level, there are nothing but “tangible options” as far as the eye can see. Why not propose policy alternatives that actually help the lives of their constituents? Single payer is a “tangible option”. Jail time for bank crime is a “tangible option”. “No warrantless wiretapping” is a “tangible option”.
            Dems simply need to remove their hands from the pockets of opioid manufacturers, insurance grifters, web spies, and arms salesmen. They’ll say “oh, sh*t, whom do I represent now?”. Answer: the 99% you dumb f*cks. It’s getting to where they can’t even fool half of the people half of the time.

            1. Carla

              “In their defense, there aren’t a lot of tangible options left other than obstruction at this point.”

              Max, you are exactly, precisely, wrong. As long as all we’re doing is obstructing and “resisting,” we’re always working to somebody else’s agenda.

              We have to create our own agenda.

              How about Expanded, Improved Medicare for All and No More War?

              How’s that for an agenda with broad and deep appeal?

              How about a 28th Constitutional Amendment stating that only human beings, not artificial entities such as corporations, can have constitutional rights, and money is not speech, therefore money in politics can be regulated?

              It’s been on the ballot in hundreds of home-rule towns and cities, and two states (CA & WA) and passed with large margins voting “yes” — yes, I know, constitutional amendments aren’t passed in referenda, but this gives you an idea how people respond to this issue.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        Actually I think it is the world that “liberal elites” live in. The oligarchs don’t care what their “liberal elites” say and they accept pandering to the public is part of the game, but when it comes to actual doing, well, those “liberal elites” had better remember who their daddy is……

      3. Ping

        The political environment seems designed to scramble the brain so that the most obvious, common sense reasoning is obliterated.

        From the Dems, I keep hearing about re-tooling their “messaging” (when not blaming Russia).

        Have they not caught on that their vague platitudes have not matched ACTION in everything that really matters for many election cycles…
        Severely damaged credibility.

        Clinton was perfectly transparent in this tactic. Throwing a few bones here and there, window dressings, changing positions with the wind but never digging in with conviction about desperately needed structural changes.

        1. Ping

          Catchy slogans don’t inspire anymore without specific track record of ACTION. Rubber meets the road.

          Even so….WTF “Stronger Together” with an arrow going to the right?

          Or “Ready for Hillary”

          I guess that assumes the population is brain dead and will project any meaning on that emptiness.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            YouTube launched in 2005ish. Whatever one might think of Google, there has been over a decade of a mass ability to review news clips and outrageous claims with relative ease. Twitter too. The ability to examine evidence without the media or mpeg files that never seemed to work has exploded. Look at the Intercept. The work they do is phenomenal, but they have research abilities that are staggering in many ways. I usually dismiss Facebook because it’s a glorified bulletin board, but certain Web platforms have radically altered the ability of citizens to react.

            Look at popular resistance to Obama’s attempts to bomb Syria. The bs from Libya was too easy to check despite the lockstep behavior of the msm.

            “Ready for Hillary” has meaning just not a very good one. It’s an announcement that the coronation of 2008 that was disrupted by Obama is back on and to hell with the issues if the commoners. “All Hail President Kang” would have been too obvious, but the meaning is the same. It’s all about Hillary. Hillary didn’t have campaign shakeup but reintroductions. Americans were just too stupid to recognize how great she is.

        2. Montanamaven

          Barack too was always convinced it was the messaging, the communicating that wins elections not actual policies enacted. He was sure he could have beaten Trump by “talking about it ” aka bs. Axelrod interview:

          OBAMA: Education, family leave, community colleges, making it easier for unions to organize, that’s an agenda for working class Americans of all stripes. And we have to talk about it and we have to be present in every community talking about it.
          See, I think the issue was less that Democrats have somehow abandoned the white working class, I think that’s nonsense. Look, the Affordable Care Act benefits a huge number of Trump voters. There are a lot of folks in places like West Virginia or Kentucky who didn’t vote for Hillary, didn’t vote for me, but are being helped by this.
          AXELROD: Right.
          OBAMA: The — the problem is, is that we’re not there on the ground communicating not only the dry policy aspects of this, but that we care about these communities, that we’re bleeding for these communities…
          AXELROD: Right.
          OBAMA: … that we understand why they’re frustrated. There’s a — there’s a…
          AXELROD: And the values behind these things.
          OBAMA: And the values. And there’s an emotional connection, and part of what we have to do to rebuild is to be there and — and that means organizing, that means caring about state parties, it means caring about local races, state boards or school boards and city councils and state legislative races and not thinking that somehow, just a great set of progressive policies that we present to the New York Times editorial board will win the day. And — and part of…
          AXELROD: But some of that would fall on us. I mean, I — take you and me because maybe we didn’t spend as much time on that project while you were here. I mean, we’re trying to save the economy and doing these other things.
          OBAMA: Well, yeah. No, you know, I mean…
          AXELROD: Our campaigns did it, but…
          OBAMA: It’s interesting. You and I both, I think, would acknowledge that when we were campaigning, we could connect. Once you got to the White House and you were busy governing, then…

            1. screen screamer

              Or at least a nuanced approach to an unreasonable end. He did sound good on the stump, which is why folks were stumped when he didn’t deliver the goods.

            2. Oregoncharles

              Precisely what he learned from Reagan, and the reason Reagan was his model.

              Even though Reagan had Alzheimer’s, probably the whole time.

            3. fajensen

              Not only Obama – It is kinda centrally controlled or a Meme: Every grievance and complaint someone has, when reported upon, is always qualified with subjective terms like: “feels”, “experience” ….

              The story becomes that women named “Gülen” and other un-Danish names “feels” they are discriminated against, making an actual state of affairs which is also well supported by statistics and that politicians should get off their ass and get changed.

              A real problem is re-spun into an “individual positive thinking-deficiency problem” aka Bollocks, that nobody cares about.

              Thus nothing happens – except of course more radicalisation and ghetto-building.

          1. Adamski

            “Caring about state parties”. Was it on NC I read that state parties get $7500 per month from the DNC? $7500 per month and that guy is setting up a billion dollar foundation.

        3. Carla

          Ping: “The political environment seems designed to scramble the brain so that the most obvious, common sense reasoning is obliterated.”

          Here’s what scrambles those eggs: the Republicans behave in a manner that is consistent with their owners. The Democrats, however, work for exactly the same owners, but lie about it and pretend to be working for us. NOBODY works for us. In this system, it can’t be done, even by those rare people who would want to.

          1. bob k

            ^ this I like. the sooner people realize this the better. You know, I’m surprised that with the work being done by Dayen, Stoller, et al on monopolies no one bothers to apply that to the political scene. Two parties has ALWAYS been too much concentration. We don’t have a parliamentary system but that doesn’t mean we can’t have more than two parties. If you are into electoral politics there is simply no getting around the fact that both parties are parties of the ruling classes. Its time to either bust them up or get some new entries into the mix. Or take the Sanders approach and watch the Dems and then take the best and leave and start a new party. I believe that is what he is doing. at least i hope so.

            for anybody who was watching the Perez knee capping of Ellison, delivered by Don Obama, should have been the upteenth nail in the dead Dems coffin.

          2. MoiAussie

            You’re right that nobody works for the people. The parties know very well who their bosses are, and individual congress critters are bought and paid for by industries and special interests. They aren’t voting according to their consciences, but according to some complex calculus around retaining the support of donors and the backing of party heavyweights.

            The Sanders campaign has shown clearly how to change the status quo. The people need to become the owners of individual representatives who are explicitly committed to progressive policies by supporting them directly, fully, and completely.
            Given the failure of the dems to show any sign of meaningful change, noone should donate a cent or lift a finger to assist them ever again. They are the enemy. A new progressive party must be built from the ground up on principles that ensure it can never be owned by the elites, only by the people. Any true progressives amongst the dwindling ranks of the state and federal dems can be permitted to jump ship and join, but only if they irrevocably cut their ties.

    4. Carolinian

      After all, if the truly powerful villains in American society are its technocrats and overachievers, then it would seem the plutocrats and nepotists have been dethroned.

      He’s making a straw man argument since Sanders–the guy who spent so much time talking about billionaires–is merely adding the technocrats to his critique, not subtracting the plutocrats. And it’s not even a particularly original or controversial point since throughout history the middle classes have been more likely to support the wealthy, their patrons, than the poor. Follow the money, as it were.

      1. Katharine

        Right you are. It’s like assuming someone who says he can’t stand Burger King must really love McDonald’s, when he may loathe all fast food chains. And just as someone who loathed fast food would not see one chain as a solution to the problems caused by the other, most Americans have no reason to see (Democratic) “liberal elites” as a solution to problems caused by (Republican) rich people, knowing very well that both have contributed to those problems.

    5. Pookah Harvey

      The trouble with the liberal elites is they see nothing wrong with Nader’s two headed snake. They are happy to fight for social issues,( abortion, gay rights, gun control), but when it comes to economic issues it is a different story. “$12 an hour is good enough” “Free college and single payer healthcare are ‘pie in the sky”‘.

      There should be a purity test for the Democratic Party and it should be only on the economic issues. The main problem in this country is wealth inequality. When we can solve that problem, and people have the more free time and education they deserve, we can discuss the social issues and hopefully swing public opinion.

      Find candidates that agree on economic issues and let them decide on social issues for themselves. Joe Bageant in his book “Deer Hunting with Jesus” (2007) states

      “Sooner or later…..the left must genuinely come face-to-face with Americans who do not necessarily share all of their priorities, and especially with Americans that have not been voting, if the left is ever to be relevant again to working America. If the left is not about class equality, what is it about?”

      I haven’t read the latest books on class in America (Hillbilly Elegy and White Trash) but I certainly recommend Bageant’s book.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When have “liberals” fought for these social issues? DADT was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge and gays threatened to stop donating putting Obama on the defensive.

        Gun control? Besides outrageous claims by Team Clinton last Spring, I haven’t heard a peep.

        Abortion is an election issue to force TINA. Tell me about their support for abortion that works in some way other than theory.

        Can we stop crediting these bourgeois twits with positions and actions they don’t take? They love to claim credit after the fact.

  2. dave

    Mr. Smith,


    And to Jamie Dimon, the problem with America is that you and your banking buddies are not in jail.

    Obama had the chance to be FDR and save the country (I generalize.) He utterly blew it.

    Bernie was the man. We blew it.

    1. sid_finster

      If Bernie were made president today, the Deep State, establishment, whatever you want to call it, would be using the same methods to remove him or neuter him as they are using on Trump.

      The tone and specific focus might change (expect the deficit to suddenly be a much bigger issue), but the overall strategy would not.

      The Deep State establishment doesn’t want to be reformed, and will fight any attempt to do so tooth and nail.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Instead of calling for independent investigation of Trump and Russia, it would be advantageous to side with the president to, if not defeat, at least wear down the Deep State, establishment or whatever you want to call it.

        Will Sanders confront that mistake and change course?

  3. Kurtismayfield

    That IoT product article is a great reason why nothing should be connected to the internet unless it is necessary.

    1. Customer complains about not being able to set up product online.
    2. Company cuts him off from their servers, making use of said product impossible.

    More proof that the software model of purchasing a license to use the product is infecting everything. We are renting things, not purchasing.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The comments on that article are a lot of fun.

      This one from Sarty:

      Left unsaid (at least explicitly): am I to understand this product would become completely worthless if the company went under?

      Sears is circling the drain at breakneck speed, but my ten year old garage door opener will continue to function as long as I can get third-party replacement gears and motors. Seems like a hell of a price to pay to use my phone as a remote.

      Sounded to me like the IoT wasn’t getting much respect from that comment crowd.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        That is a tech site too, they are usually behind blind advancement of technology. You should read the comments on self driving cars, or biotech. Surprisingly they don’t put together that all these advances mean a loss of control by the end user.

      2. John Wright

        My indirect measure of how much the IoT business is in its infancy is a trade show I went to last year in Silicon Valley.

        It was focused on IoT, but it was not in a large venue and most of the booths were small.

        So the vendors, that did appear, were not anxious to put a lot of money into THEIR part of the show.

        I’m used to free admission to trade shows’ exposition floors, but this show had a rare added incentive, a FREE buffet lunch.

        Silicon Valley companies and tech firms, in general, probably all have their IoT programs launched so they can claim IoT activity in press releases..

        And to think the political class and news media is worried about Russians “hacking” the DNC, apparently via the internet, to derail the coronation of HRC,

        Maybe we can get Congress to study if America might be brought to its knees by an internal army of roaming IoT lawnmowers controlled by foreign hackers?

        Maybe the threat is IoT toasters or microwaves?

        One can wonder if we have yet to reach peak IoT hype..

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          A woman in my building has a fire that she claims was caused by a toaster that she was not using. She tells everyone to unplug their toaster when not in use.

          The only reason I take her seriously is her insurance company paid her a ginormous amount of money. They must have done forensics and this is what they came up with, and that in turn implies this isn’t the only time they’ve seen this happen.

          So yes, we could have a study on Evil Rookises burning down entire towns by turning their toasters into arson machines.

          1. mpalomar

            Many years ago, I lived a block off the East River in a fourth floor walk up in a mixed Puerto Rican, Dominican, Hassidic, Brooklyn slum that had, besides robust ethnic diversity, a million dollar view of lower Manhattan, including the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges,

            Among my meager possessions was a toaster. I must confess, when not in use, I would leave my toaster plugged. Who the hell unplugs their toaster after each use? My obsessive compulsive girlfriend for one, who advised unplugging.

            One fine spring day I noticed the odor of something slightly off and observed unusually large and wooly flies occasionally circling the apartment. The smell grew more pungent, finally so pronounced and the flies so persistent, I could no longer tolerate it or discount the obvious fact that something was dead in my apartment. I commenced a thorough search; directed largely by scent I honed in on the kitchen, finally settling upon the toaster.

            Upon closer examination I found the mummified corpse of an electrocuted mouse between the slots and the toaster wall, where the electric elements resided. Grazing on crumbs, the mouse had electrocuted itself in the immediate vicinity of where I, I had been browning my morning multi grain toast; what an earthy flavor it had.

            The lesson my friends is, not only unplug your toaster but keep it crumb free and stored in a high, inaccessible cupboard, wrapped in plastic, inside a mouse resistant container.

            Good luck.

          2. fajensen

            and that in turn implies this isn’t the only time they’ve seen this happen.

            I fix my appliances (It is the only way to get my engineering skills recognised at home ;-)

            It happens almost too often that when one phones the spare-part shop or in rare cases the manufacturer over some issue, they will *know* Exactly, from suspiciously little detail, what part it might be that one needs.

            Often there is also a “bug-fix” kit included to solve some unrelated problem, like hoses bursting or burning and charring components.

            The beauty of mass-production; everything is “the same” so it will also fail in the same way, makes it easier to repair too!

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      IoT capabilities are being shoved into all kinds of small appliances now, seemingly without concern for whether they are selling points for end users. I get the impression that IoT ‘improvements’, although touted in ads, are rarely focus-group tested. Which back in the day would have been a first step for most consumer appliance brands when introducing new features into product suites.

      It speaks to an immense shift in who does product development, vis-a-vis the end of the last century. And why. The end user is as much a ‘product’ now as a target who might need to be appealed to.

      I.e. I shopped for a bathroom scale in Target ~6 months ago and found only one not equipped to broadcast the user’s weight to the world. It was a shoddy, ugly antique thing. Very cheap, but I had not walked into the store intending to buy the $12 scale. It took me 10-15 minutes of reading to determine which scales had what ‘features’ (meaning which were not connected). Offhand…… many of you think the most common purchasers (young adult thru middle-aged women) of these devices want any data transmission capabilities in their bathroom scales?

      Yeah. Some grasping fuck with diet pills to sell wants that capability; his marks, not so much.

      1. MoiAussie

        Leaving aside the diet pill salesman, there’s a huge cohort of fools who preferentially choose to buy things purely because it enables them to load a new app onto their phones and look at some shallow but shiny graphs and icons.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The thrift stores are full of UN-connected scales, toasters, etc. And soon to have many more.

        Do try scales before you buy them, though; the one I got works fine, but is difficult to read while standing on it.

      3. fajensen

        I know one person who got fired in the 1990’s when they found out that the talking chip in their scale had a humorous “Oh, God, Please, get Off, Noooooo …” track built in when the scale maxed out at 150 kg.

        The IoT scale will photograph your bottom and post it to the #LardAssOfTheYear channels on Twitter and Instagram (and FaceBook – if it can sniff your login on the WiFi network). This sounds like Progress?

    1. fajensen

      Space is a border too, right?

      Space is generally agreed to begin at something called the ‘Kármán line’, 100 kilometres above Earth’s mean sea level. 100 US-survey miles happens to be 160 km so, for now, most of America is “safe” from the DHS.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    David Murray warns of 1890s housing crash depression MacroBusiness. Effectively presupposes a China crash, since they’d need to not be able or inclined to bottom fish.

    Its interesting, although of course quite a few people have had egg on their faces over the years predicting an Oz housing crash (doesn’t mean it won’t happen of course). But I don’t think it presupposes a China crash, except insofar as a collapse in steel and coal prices could be the precipitating factor. A more serious crackdown in China on foreign exchange movements could do the same thing, or a political decision to ‘defavour’ Australia for investment flows if its seen as being too close to the US in a conflict over the China Sea could have the same impact. Chinese investors and consumers can be very receptive to government hints as the South Koreans are finding to their cost at the moment due to the nonsense about the THAAD deployment there. In fact, I suspect that the Chinese acts against South Korean companies like Lotte and Kia is intended as a wider warning to the region about the economic consequences of getting on board a Trump anti-China train.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Chinese investors and consumers can be very receptive to government hints

      All nations do it, though, it seems the Chinese are more efficient at obeying, will respond faster, and the party does it more often.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’m in Australia and dealing with ultra-high net worth Chinese trying to get their money here. Things have changed dramatically in the last 3-4 months, even very sophisticated types with nominee companies are now struggling to get RMB out of China. China Union Pay just said you can’t use their card to pay for offshore real estate, believe me they did that because the PBOC made them. China is also cracking down on other bank-linked accounts (WeChat etc) that could leak RMB out of the country, this was in part to defend Chinese banks from fintech threats.They want the capital to come there, not vice versa, yesterday they announced 6 new domestic free trade zones to add to the Shanghai FTZ.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Sounds like they are very serious. Thats bound to have an impact on property values in lots of cities from Australia to Europe and the US.

        2. Marina Bart

          I wonder if this has anything to do with the reports I’m hearing that extremely qualified students did not get into even third tier American colleges and universities this year. I had been warning a neighbor to brace for an outcome that under current American mythology should never happen for her child, who did every single thing “right” (including being an appropriately niche ethnicity with a good, strong sob story).

          She’s been hearing reports from not just California but much farther afield all of which align: highly capable students with strong scores, grades, ECs, great bios, aren’t getting into places they would have even last year. I mentioned in passing I wondered if this reflected wealthy Chinese families making an even harder than usual push to get their kids into American colleges to be able to get cash out for the house, etc. Isn’t that a scam they’ve been running for a while?

          I don’t think this is going to help the Democratic Party any. These are 10-20%er families. I realize it’s not as tragic as people losing their jobs, but I’m assuming these kinds of families are the exact tranche the Dems think they can woo or woo back. I had assumed this neighbor was a Republican, given her background and other expressed beliefs. But she was a hardcore Berner in the primary, refused to vote for Hillary in the general, and now hates the Dems — that was before the acceptances came in. She really did not want to believe the stuff I was telling her about how the system is working as designed. But she said if you look at the trend lines in where kids from this very highly regarded private Catholic school are getting in now versus even a few years ago, individual behaviors and people simply can’t explain it; it’s stark.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Getting a child into university in the US, Australia, NZ or Europe has long been a way for Chinese families to disperse and hide wealth. And not just rich Chinese – plenty of people of quite modest means do it too (often as a focus for an extended family). If anything, this process is getting more intense – one thing thats struck me about so many Chinese is that despite a strong sense of nationalism, they are almost universally pessimistic about China itself – its pretty much assumed that at some stage, there will be a reverse of some sort, and people with wealth or apparent wealth will be scapegoated. Given Chinese history, thats not an unreasonable conclusion. Hence the intense desire to have a ‘foot in the door’ of another country, either by way of an investment or a child living there. A sharp crackdown on currency movements will make life more difficult for these people, but it won’t stop the overall desire to do it.

            I’ve no idea if this is an explanation for the University issue you are describing – it could be pressure from not just Chinese, but Arabic and other Asian people pushing hard for a US education. Or maybe something else, I don’t really know. But ultimately, no matter how bad the US seems to be, for a lot of people in the world its seen as a last refuge of stability, so whether by buying US govt bonds, or by sending kids there to study, its usually an indicator of problems in the world when there is a flood into the US.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, PK.

              It’s not just Chinese. The kleptocrats who hijacked many former British and French colonies after independence, including Mauritius, do the same.

              A golf club near where I live has been acquired by Chinese investors and is to be converted into a golf estate and gated community for them after being tipped off by the local council of its sale. There is a shortage of housing in Buckinghamshire and that 30 odd acre plot could have relieved some of that shortage.

          2. fajensen

            I mentioned in passing I wondered if this reflected wealthy Chinese families making an even harder than usual push to get their kids into American colleges

            I believe it is an ingeniously planned DOS-Attack on American technological superiority.

            The long game of the Chinese is using the mechanisms and incentive models created by Capitalism / Neo-liberalism against itself, causing a train-wreck way beyond the quarter-driven myopia of our leadership. Personally, I think it is brilliant plan.

            The Chinese Communist Party have a lot of engineers in leading positions, people who thinks about trends, systems, the chinks in those systems and who understand exponential functions. And China as a nation or culture is very much capable of and comfortable with planning over several generations.

            What they are doing is simply stuffing the pipelines at American universities with Chinese candidates, denying opportunities from the US-candidates.

            To ensure that the Chinese students do not become too American and defect, they will also create a very convenient Chinese infrastructure around the Chinese students, they can “live in China” while studying in the US. Having never integrated, the majority of those graduates will go back to China rather than making a career within the USA.

            The for-profit Universities are only too happy to provide whatever the Rich Chinese pay to have and it makes them look “globalised”, part of the next “growth economy” and so on.

            The wealthy Chinese are not necessarily part of the plot, they are just doing what they have been induced to believe is the best for their children – perhaps some wonder why it is so easy to pay for all this when there are currency controls in place.

            Two, Three decades of this and all competent researchers and engineers will have retired and there are no replacements – except for the Chinese. Which will now have the keys to the whole of the US technical infrastructure. Including the Nukes, there will be no one to provide all those critical materials and assemblies needed for a working nuclear device.

            The nukes will rot, becoming first senile white elephants like Trident, then, wholly unreliable as in no-one (except the legendary Dr No) can say in advance if a given warhead will go off or not.

            End of the Empire – in only 50 years and all the Chinese really had to do was throw Americas own money back across the border-fence.

  5. fresno dan

    The Sovietization of the American Political-Media Establishment? TruthDig

    President Trump’s purported ties to Putin’s Kremlin. In particular, he [the author of the article] emphasizes the need for an accusatory narrative and draws an analogy with the Soviet media’s insistence that President Nixon was driven from office in 1974 not due to Watergate crimes but to his policy of détente with Soviet Russia—a narrative that still strongly influenced Soviet media coverage of US politics when Cohen arrived two years later. In order to spread and safeguard that orthodox narrative, and others, Kremlin newspapers and broadcast media employed several well-known practices. Some of them seem to be appearing, at least to some degree, in American MAINSTREAM media today. Cohen discusses four of them:
    Running through these narratives is always, of course, the covert and open role of official intelligence agencies. Soviet media often cited allegedly indisputable KGB reports and even featured “retired” KGB officials to bolster official accounts of events. The US media and congressional hunt for Trump’s “Kremlin connections” feature a slew of “intel” leaks to the press and former intelligence officials as expert TV panelists.

    People seem to forget that the vaunted US intelligence “assessment” is just that – an out of the as* guess dressed up in 3 dollar words to give it more cachet, and the “17” agencies is absurdity piled upon idiocy. It is remarkable with just 15 years passed that people lend so much credence to the CIA and their ilk who have gotten so much wrong and inflicted so much harm on the world….

    and irony upon irony,

    Maybe Trump deserves CNN, but I don’t think we do.

    1. sid_finster

      Serious People lend credence to the IC, when the IC tells them what those Serious People want to hear.

      Same as it ever was.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Forget about Putin.

        We have to watch out for our own media/IC Rasputins.

        Russians will tell you Rasputins are more dangerous.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Re: French elections and polls.

    I’m not familiar with the details of French polling, but I would have thought they’d already built in the ‘shy voter’ problem into their projections. Going back decades it was common practice in Northern Ireland polls to add 3-5% to the ‘extreme’ parties result to get a more accurate reflection, and the FN has been around long enough for pollsters to put an approximate number to any bias.

    Based on what those who follow French politics here more closely have said, I would have thought that a low turnout would be a more likely factor in potentially boosting Le Pens vote, especially in the second round. From a distance, it seems to me that Macron is conscious of this, so unlike other faux center-leftists he is thowing enough bones to the left to ensure a significant number will turn out for him in a second round vote.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, PK.

      I don’t know about the polling for shy voters, but agree with you about turn out.

      I have seen the issue of shy voter raised once, in Le Figaro about a month ago, but have not seen it elsewhere.

      It’s the same with supporters who intend to vote on the day. Le Pen and Fillon score in the 70s and 80s percent, but Macron is lucky to get into the 50s. I have only seen this qualification to polls mentioned twice, on France 2 news, and never in the UK media.

      With Melenchon snapping at the heels of Fillon, the above turn out could make the second round interesting.

      Hamon was interviewed on France 2 a couple of days ago. One can see why Melenchon is pulling away. Hamon was rabbitting on about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Crimea in response to what he thought about the bombing in St Petersburg.

      Macron is calling himself a social democrat and hoping for some voters from the left, but at the same time meeting the likes of Republicain Christian Estrossi, mayor of Nice. If he wins the second round, he may yet get broader support than imagined. There are enough neo-liberals on both sides of the aisle.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        My Parisienne friend’s reaction to the Counterpunch article :

        “There will be surprises…
        Le Pen will probably end up first with approx 30% (not a surprise for me). In my opinion the polls are too high for Macron (Macron + Hamon = 40% which is huge considering that they represent the PS/Hollande to some extent. Macron is the candidate of the media so I guess there is a bubble).

        Mélenchon is rising, but it’s hard to foresee if it will be enough to reach the second round.

        Fillon is dead.
        Hamon will be under 10%.

        For me Mélenchon is ok (appart from his sympathies with the PCC = he is very keen to criticize the US, never China) but he is wrong on the 6th republic (it’s funny because he is actually the paragon of the 5th republic : One man alone, without a party, speaks directly to the people). Basically he is saying “vote for me and I will resign to give you the power with a new constitution”. Not serious. Not the priority.
        It took some time but he is slowly getting more serious on the EU, even if he still says that he will negociate, his negociation plan is so impossible to accept for Merkel that it will lead to break up. And he clearly said “if they do not want to negociate, then Frexit”. I am not 100% convinced but it seems that he understands that the EU / euro is the real problem and that he will never be able to implement a real leftist agenda within the EU frame.
        In the end the problem is what next?
        If Le Pen wins the presidential election :
        1- there will be riots and Hollande (who will still be in charge for a couple of days / weeks) will let it happen (he considers that it should be him / Macron or the chaos = Le Pen). I wouldn’t even be surprised if he would send the army to invalidate the election arguing he must protect the people from themselves (Hitler was elected, Le Pen is worse than Hitler blablabla)…
        2- Even if she becomes president, she needs a majority in the assembly but I seriously doubt the FN can win a majority in the legislative elections that will follow (and they have no political ally to form a majority). So the most probable issue is that she will have to cohabit with a center right europeist majority (Sarkozy is ready to take over the right after Fillon fails) / prime minister / government…

        If Mélenchon wins I don’t know if he can build a majority either…
        In those 2 cases there should be a constitutional crisis (perhaps Mélenchon wants a 6th republic to avoid this actually, but I don’t think if he can implement his 6th republic fast enough to avoid the legislative election)

        If Macron wins, the PS will explode and resurect within En Marche, it will be business as usual, center left europeist governement with a German agenda “.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Eustache.

          I get the impression that Le Pen is doing better out of sight and out of mind in la France profonde. There is the odd report from the provinces, but none gives more than a superficial impression.

          Rumours persist that Sarko was behind the Fillon exposes, so he is interested. Sarko’s step brother, Wisner, is well connected in DC, Langley etc.

          It should be an interesting time, especially with the German elections at the end of the summer and une rentree chaude. I am visiting, holiday, in May, August and September and different parts of the country, Normandy inland, Bordelais and Deauville.

          1. Frenchguy

            No need for Langley. The French “deep state” (police, fiscal services…) doesn’t need anyone if it wants to cough up dirt on a politician…

            And there has been insistent rumors that the hit on Fillon came from its own people but the current government most certainly did its part, justice has been surprisingly swift after all.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you, French Guy.

              I had seen the allegations about Hollande’s circle.

              That is true about justice. This said, all of the candidates are pretty scummy and unlikely to part company with neo-liberalism, so in that case, as with Trump, Fillon and Le Pen’s desire not to march on Moscow, a la Napoleon and many collaborators, seemed appealing.

              My parents come from a former French colony. Many of the islanders fought in WW2, including my grandfathers and their brothers / cousins. As the island is bilingual, numbers were split between those joining the British and those joining French forces. Many islanders were decorated by France, a greater number in proportion than French citizens. That number includes a cousin, Colonel and SOE operative Amedee Maingard de la Ville-Es-Offrans.

              It’s a bit of a joke on the island when France threatens this or that, usually meaning foreign legionnaires, not franco-francais, doing the fighting.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Possibly an intelligence/media-based coup attempt like we have under way in the US at the moment if somehow Le Pen gets any real power. And I am curious how the middle-earning progressive technocrat engineer living outside Toulouse will behave in the privacy of the voting booth, since what’s at stake seems to be the very concept of “France” and “the French”. Does he really want that new mosque down the street or those laws from Brussels that tell his uncle the farmer how long a carrot must be?

          2. Eustache de Saint Pierre


            I have had in my head for quite some time an alleged Chinese curse, which I looked up to check it’s provenance. There is actually no proof that it is of Chinese origin, but I found this & I do not like the historical rhyme it makes. From the Yorkshire Post in 1936 :

            Sir Austen Chamberlain, addressing the annual meeting of Birmingham Unionist Association last night, spoke of the “grave injury” to collective security by Germany’s violation of the Treaty of Locarno.

            Sir Austen, who referred to himself as “a very old Parliamentarian,” said:—

            “It is not so long ago that a member of the Diplomatic Body in London, who had spent some years of his service in China, told me that there was a Chinese curse which took the form of saying, ‘May you live in interesting times.’ There is no doubt that the curse has fallen on us.”

            “We move from one crisis to another. We suffer one disturbance and shock after another.”

            Anyway, enjoy your trip & I hope it is does not prove to be too interesting.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Merci bcp, Eustache.

              I don’t mind visiting countries, within reason, when there are elections etc. going on. I find it a fascinating backdrop.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You do not adjust polls to say, “Gee, I think that respondent is lying to me”. That is a violation of any standard of survey research.

      The adjustments they make are related to sample, such as oversampling a demographic group where they think there will be a lot of skew in the answers, or to overweight for a group where they thought they got a valid sample but didn’t get a large a % response as from other groups.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        In the Northern Ireland case it was simply a recalibration by comparing polling results to past elections. While I assume its more sophisticated than just adding a certain percent (NI polling was famously tricky as respondents were often suspicious pollsters were working for the security services), such alterations for ‘shy’ voters are quite common so far as I’m aware (I’m not a polling expert, but this has always been my understanding). Certainly in Ireland (the Republic) the private pollsters working for political parties have in the past adjusted Sinn Fein figures upwards in their final figures to take account of this. I think there was a lot of discussion among UK pollsters about whether they would do the same because of the claimed ‘shy Tory voter’, but I think it was later concluded that consistent underestimations of the Tory vote had other causes.

        1. David

          I think it’s partly that (the FN Presidential vote has been underestimated before and the pollsters have egg on their faces this year in a big way anyway). But it’s also important to differentiate between voting intentions in the first and second rounds, and a lot of the confusion arises from failure to do this. The question is less who will come out arithmetically on top in the first round, than who has the greatest “reserves” as the French say in the second. If it’s Le Pen vs Macron, then the current received wisdom is that Macron has greater reserves than Le Pen of people who will vote for him, if the only alternative is her. This may be true, but Macron’s support is still softer than Le Pen’s, and I have seen analyses suggesting that in the second round, even if Macron is ahead in the polls, Le Pen could still win because of differential turnout. So it may all come down to a combination of reserves and abstentions: if that sounds complicated, it’s because it is.

    3. EmilianoZ

      I wonder who the French elites would go for if it ever came to Melenchon vs Martine LP. If history is any guide, probably Martine (assuming Melenchon is a real hardcore leftist).

      But Macron will probably save them from that cruel dilemma. He’s a neatly marketed product, just like our own big 0. Young and shiny. I downloaded his 17-page program. On the 2nd page there’s a picture of him in Martinique or Guadeloupe thronged by an ecstatic group of black people. Then I got bored. Couldn’t be bothered to read the rest.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        This. Macron is a perfect Obama analogue. Perhaps the French are just 3-5 years behind, globalist corporo-fascism hasn’t yet completely eviscerated the middle like it has in the US.

  7. fresno dan

    Senate’s Russia Hearings Will Lead Nowhere Real News Network. A talk with Michael Hudson

    KIM BROWN: Michael, this committee hearing seems to culminate weeks now, of a lot of speculation, not just from the left, or not just from Democrats, rather, about whether or not there was collusion between members of the Trump campaign, and his transition team, and Russians, in order to propel him into the Oval Office.
    MICHAEL HUDSON: The premise is not valid, and it’s fake news, and the one thing that the Senate committee does not want to find, is anything about where these leaks come from. The one thing they do not want to do, is have any discussion of the actual evidence. The evidence itself, is notoriously fake. You remember when the DNC ostensibly hired somebody to find out who got their information.

    They hired CrowdSource (ED: CrowdStrike) as a propaganda organization, to make accusations against Russia that had no evidence whatsoever. And James Clapper, of The Deep State, himself has said there is no evidence.

    just gilding the lily as this is essentially the same as my first post….
    I can’t help but mention that I like Hudson pointing out the ridiculousness of the citing of the Coast Guard in the “intelligence assessment”….what do they have, undercover dolphins…..special purpose porpoises????

    1. Uahsenaa

      I’ve watched some of the House hearings, and the Ds don’t even have a cohesive political strategy here. There’s no concerted line of attack, no coherent message their pushing, just outrage and innuendo. It’s a good thing hardly anyone watches C-SPAN, because the spectacle is embarrassing.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Many of these Democrats represent areas that went for Sanders or areas where the youth went for Sanders and many Clinton voters voted based on the assurances of elected super delegates that she would win.

        If Hillary was an abysmal candidate, what does that say about so many elected Dems? Their celebrity is at risk. Pelosi was visibly irritated the plebes would ask her about single payer. She was expecting to be hailed as a hero for standing up to “OMG Putin.” The Podesta emails revealed Clinton despite selecting Timmy back in 2015 was promising the VP spot to the likes of Sherrod Brown who likes to pretend to be a lefty type. How does this kind of thing help his standing in a state which went 45% for Sanders despite near universal support from the Democratic elite?

        Pelosi and Schumer are meddling grifters, not leaders. Occasionally, they am pull off a stunt, but as far as producing coherent strategies, they’ve never demonstrated any kind of success beyond self promotion.

        Then there is the long term effects of poor candidate recruitment. The rank and file of elected Democrats start out as blank slate, self funders who are more or less inoffensive to local industry. Too many elected Dems simply want to buy the title and the corresponding celebrity. The state of the Democratic Party that the ranking member on the budget and veterans committee in the Senate is Bernie Sanders who until recently had no real leverage. The problem is none of these Democrats are interested in work. It’s not what they signed up for.

        Now, they are a minority party with a disaster of a map up in 2018. They can’t hide behind Obama’s cool factor or Hillary’s celebrity. They have no leadership, so you are seeing a high profile public breakdown as Team Blue tries to recapture the old magic.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Good stuff, that’s about right.

          They’ve repeatedly had Pelosi’s stuttering deer-in-headlights look to them when pressed on actual issues. They quite literally have NO answer to push back against single-payer. The voters have assumed ‘good faith’ for far too long and no longer are willing to grant it. Wonderful to see.

          There’s no celeb on the horizon to save them, either. People are already working up a solid hatred for Cory Booker, and Cuomo’s already got a damaged reputation in NY. Rahm Emanuel is deeply hated, as well. Who else do they have?

          Bernie’s power to lead by example has been remarkable. The guy is building political capital by the truckload, it seems.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            A good point has been made that Sanders was a long time guest on the Thom Hartmann show which was an introduction to an alternative to the infotainment industry masquerading as the news. Sanders doesn’t need a come to Jesus moment or a reintroduction to speak on issues people care about because it’s his life and there is evidence of his career, hence Jon Lewis, ‘I never saw Bernie Sanders,” garbage.

        2. neo-realist

          there is the long term effects of poor candidate recruitment. The rank and file of elected Democrats start out as blank slate, self funders who are more or less inoffensive to local industry. Too many elected Dems simply want to buy the title and the corresponding celebrity.

          That has so killed the making of a half decent Democratic Party. Thanks to Rahm advising Hope and Change to replace Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy, who could have rectified the problem, with a neo-liberal stiff like Kaine. A lot of hacks more interested in golden parachutes from donors than real statesmen/stateswomen running for Congress. As I believe you said a while back, this may have been deliberate cause the little people would have been asking for too much stuff and heaven forbid, the left may have gained a foothold of power.

    1. tgs

      Right before peace talks, Assad decides to use sarin gas on a bunch of kids, conveniently giving the humanitarians in DC, London, Brussels a casus belli.

      And there is this from 2014:

      All of Syria’s declared chemical weapons removed, official says

      There are no western reporters on the ground to verify this. And of course no skepticism whatsoever in the MSM. McCain, Graham and the other usual suspects will be moving from station to station calling for Trump to ‘do something’ and he probably will.

      1. fresno dan

        April 5, 2017 at 9:10 am

        CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto told Anderson Cooper tonight that the news about Susan Rice allegedly being involved in the “unmasking” of Trump transition officials appears to be a “distraction” from the bigger picture on Russia.

        My point is NOT Trump. So, I google a few other sites, and apparently this is true – Sciutto is a former Obama AND, it goes without saying, US GOVERNMENT official. As a former US government official, he apparently is invested in the IDEA that Russian legs bad, US legs good (ref: Animal farm) and in my view, pretty apparently is incapable of reporting on anything that would show American intelligence incompetent OR evil. Sciutto buys into the PREMISE that Russia is inimical to US interests, and that the CIA advances US interests. Thats OK – I have the opposite OPINIONs – but I don’t mix up FACTS with preferences on what US policy should be.

        How often should a media outlet mention that it employs people from the government, particularly when it can be assumed that they hold positions antagonistic to the current administration? Is it plausible to believe that Sciutto would even try and FIND anything that makes the US government look bad (as opposed to making Trump look bad) That the US neocon position with Russia is NOT good policy??? Is it credible that if information came across Sciutto’s desk showing the US was involved in gassing Syrians, Sciutto would report it? Maybe…BUT not a slam dunk….

        Very, very little of “news” today are facts….mostly regurgitation of dogma by people with vested interests…..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They are called opinion-makers.

          Make, produce or manufacture. We use the terms interchangeably.

          Of course, the next step up is ‘create.’ Only artists create.

          “We create opinions.”

          The greatest artists create opinions from nothing.

    2. Plenue

      Syria and Russia are claiming it was a rebel stockpile of gas that they inadvertently let loose with an airstrike. Russia says it will provide evidence for this within the next few days.

      I guess the MSM has completely forgotten the fact that Syria gave up all their chemical weapons to undermine Obama’s red line justifications. It’s also particularly absurd that Syria would use gas in Idlib of all places; their policy there has mostly been to let the idiot jihadis kill each other, while the SAA builds up the infrastructure and supplies needed for a major push into the province.

      1. wilroncanada

        But NOW Trump. The latest statement from the man himself says this (not a quote) cowardly and evil attack on CHILDREN makes that guy in Deemaskus or wherever a “bad guy, and I’ve totally changed my mind about Syria. (psst, Ivanka, is that the right country? I can never get these Africans straight.)”

        And his UN Ambassador has blamed Iran and Russia. The list of “bad dudes” has been edited.

        Shows the value of black ops…and mercurial leaders.

    3. uncle tungsten

      In the comments to the sic semper tyrannis post there is an image of a child being carried. That child is dead and has been for some time as rigor mortis is apparent. The body is stiff as a post. That alone indicates a staged photograph. Oddly many bodies are lying about with arms akimbo exactly like in a stage show.

      I wonder how difficult it will be now for any UN team to be permitted to the site? Perhaps it is too dangerous as the threat of being attacked by the Syrian army is too high.

      Not only a false flag but also perhaps a cover for the mysterious aerial attack on Syrian Arab Army soldiers in the south near the Jordanian border.

  8. fresno dan

    Fifty Years On: MLK’s Giant Triplets Still Plague Us, Including Militarism. Counterpunch (Judy B)

    Racism, extreme materialism and militarism are still inextricably linked, and still prevent our society’s becoming anything close to King’s ‘beloved community.’ Of the three, militarism may be the one about which Americans are most ignorant or most in denial.

    No serious person could say we have overcome racism, or dealt with the extreme materialism and economic injustice and unsustainability of our ‘thing-oriented society.’ However, the pervasive EQUATING of patriotism with support for war, charges of being soft on communism*, terrorism or defense, and cynical, coercive ‘support the troops’ displays (when the best way to support them would be to stop our incessant wars) seemingly prevent any serious examination of U.S. militarism.
    How many countries are we bombing right now?

    At least seven we know of: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And as King claimed the bombs we dropped on Vietnam also exploded in American cities, the blowback to the U.S. from all the anger we sow and enemies we reap in these countries and around the world, will surely harm our country.

    “That we know of….”

    * Why, I myself, have in my “favorites” any number of sites that are communist dupes, useful idiots, and spreaders of dirty rotten commie propaganda /sarc

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not just bombing.

      We also have economic hit men, because we print – as much as we want – the global reserve currency and they need it to survive, to buy medicine, etc.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    U.S. Car Demand Collapse Jeopardizes Trump’s Auto Factory Push Bloomberg (resilc)

    The headline is a bit misleading as the article says that it is a collapse in demand for sedans and a rush for SUV’s and trucks which is causing problems for the industry as they mostly come off separate production lines. Its a bit depressing that all we know about climate change is forgotten in a rush to take advantage of cheap gas.

    In Europe something similar is happening, although not so damaging. Consumers are going mad for compact SUV’s, although here these cars are mostly based on sedan platforms and coming out of the same factories. They are essentially pumped up sedans, lots of unnecessary metal added to give them that cuddly macho look that people love.

    I suspect that they will have a significant negative impact on CO2 emissions. If you read the manufacturers figures, the SUV’s are only marginally less fuel efficient than the sedan/saloon/hatchback on the same platform with the same engine. I don’t own a car, so I rent frequently for work and leisure, so I get to compare a lot of different types. I invariably find that the compact SUV’s use very significantly more fuel than even quite large saloons, even when they have the same engine and platform. The only vaguely good news in Europe is that the VW diesel scandal seems to have killed off diesel quickly and there is a very rapid move now to hybrids and EV’s. I suspect that in 10 years hybrids will be the ‘default’ car for most buyers.

    1. Carolinian

      Americans will never give up big cars unless forced to do so by high gas prices or the CAFE standards which worked for awhile. One reason the US car companies started pushing SUVs was that the truck chassis vehicles were a way of getting around CAFE. Sad to hear that Europe is imitating us as they so often do.

      Safety has traditionally been the excuse of the guzzler drivers on the notion that my subcompact would merely bounce off a soccer mom’s Suburban with me the loser. While robot cars get bashed around here, one reason they have promise is that freeways could be safer if embedded guidance or some other system reduced the possibility of accidents and therefore the need for sheet metal armor. Much gets said about the safety issues with automated vehicles but not as much about the crazy recklessness of my fellow human drivers–getting worse all the time seemingly.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Carolinian.

        One is more likely to see SUVs / guzzlers in urban areas than rural areas. So much so, that the likes of Range Rovers became known as Chelsea tractors and, indeed, were often driven by mums (sometimes called yummy mummies) on school runs or to an eaterie where they lunch, but don’t eat.

        The other places to see such vehicles are the financial district(s) and universities of London, more often than not being driven by rich Chinese women. Chinese guys prefer sports cars.

        1. Carolinian

          We have a few Range Rovers in my neighborhood and even a dude who like to drive around in his Bentley. Mini Coopers are big.

          That imitation thing goes both ways.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Carolinian.

            I like the Bentley Continental GT convertible. Mini Coopers are cool, too.

        2. JustAnObserver

          I well remember someone’s comment that the only time a “Chelsea tractor” went off-road was mounting the curb outside Harvey-Nicolls (spelling ?).

          I well remember when I spent some time driving a friend’s daughter to snob-school (on my way to work) and having to fight my tiny 306 through the armored divisions jamming the road outside the school.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            I like the comment / jokes.

            I think it’s Nicholls, but shortened to Harvey Nicks.

      2. Eureka Springs

        unless forced to do so

        It would be nice if people in the U.S. at least had an option of a light weight truck. Finding even a Japanese ’80’s thru mid 90’s size truck in new models is impossible. All but a handful the smaller used models are gone now.

        I have noticed ISIS runs around the mid east in them. So they are still made somewhere.

        1. Carolinian

          Toyota Tacticals for the masses–heavy automatic weapon and mount optional.

          There was a time when Nissan was selling those compact pickup trucks for a mere $5000. Car makers probably dropped them for the same reason they don’t like to make compact cars: low profit margins. Now they make liar loans so that customers can buy the largest vehicle possible. General Motors–a car company wrapped around a finance company.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Carolinian.

            I like your first and last sentences.

            With regard to GM, one could say the same about VW, too. VW UK and VW Bank are based in my home county, Buckinghamshire.

      3. fresno dan

        April 5, 2017 at 10:00 am

        My theory, based on people who own SUV’s actually telling me they like them because they sit up high and they can look down the road and see how long the traffic jam is…..I ask them if the SUV can fly them over the traffic jam….

        I despair of people giving up cars….I pretty much can only foresee cars being given up on when the rising oceans means everybody has to buy a cigarette boat like elder Bush..or the SUV boat equivalent.

        1. Carolinian

          To see ahead or to block me from doing so. I tell my brother the car landscape is a perfect metaphor for society with status symbols as far as the eye can see and some drivers acting cooperatively while others show aggression and the desire to dominate. He scoffs.

      4. polecat

        I own a used, 20+year old Ford Ranger … with all the dings, dents, and scratches that have accumulated from REAL use …. no girly-man plastic bedliner for me !
        And with regard to size … my truck looks like a mini hot wheels compared to many of the testosterone-fueled, bull-ball-dangling pick-ups sold these days !!
        While the geared heads haul ATVs to all points beyond, I haul the real shit …. composted manure, for my food garden’s pleasure … and after a year, or more, of not wasting the water to wash it, it starts growing moss, becoming the ‘Chia Truck’ ..

        1. JustAnObserver

          Moss covered pick-up sounds like something out of a J.G. Ballard dystopia.

          An antidote in the making ?

        2. fresno dan

          April 5, 2017 at 1:03 pm

          moss, lichen, soil forms, other small plants soon enough, and before you know it, red woods – just be careful – someone might reintroduce grizzlies…..
          Mrs. Polecat – oh woe is me, my husband went to harvest some Douglas fir and hasn’t been seen since.
          Sherrif’s office – Mrs Polecat, we’re sending search and rescue to the right back fender, but that is pretty wild country, so we won’t have any information for a while….
          Mrs. Polecat – I told him so, so many times he should have washed the bed …

        3. crittermom

          My Jeep SUV turned 30 last year. I purchased it new and it may look like hell now, but pushing 324,000 miles she still runs great. No major work ever needed. Just good maintenance.
          I had to use it as a truck many times hauling hay and firewood and on two different occasions even a baby miniature burro and a young goat. (They were each respectful and neither pooped in it)

          When new I washed and waxed it often, kept it in a garage when not at work, but within a few years the paint went bad on it. A problem for that particular year it turned out. (Still awaiting a recall for a new paint job from Chrysler. I’d inquired about it when the problem first arose).

          I fear if I wash it now, the body may fall apart. I think the dried mud and dirt may be all that’s holding it together, but I will never part with it.

          My mileage isn’t great, but still better than a neighbor gets in his brand new big shiny truck.

          I can certainly relate to feeling like you’re driving a Hot Wheels, by comparison to newer vehicles.
          You now have me wondering… with all the mud/dirt on it, if I begin watering it, will it grow into a Chia Pet?
          I could truly disappear when off-road!

          1. craazyman

            Maybe you should trade the jeep in for a horse while you still can. You could get a wagon cheap and hitch it up to the horse to haul hay and firewood. If you get a good price for the jeep maybe you can get a horse, wagon and a band saw with a plaid Western shirt. Sort of like those entry level fishing kits they sell to kids wrapped in plastic with the rod, line, lures, bobbers and an instruction book. Not that you’d need an instruction book yourself, it sounds like your a grizzled outdoorsperson. But it’s just a referent for illumination.

            But be careful when you saw down trees. If any branches hit the horse it’s not like you can take it to an autobody shop for repairs. You need to tie up the horse and keep the wagon at a safe distance — the instruction book would offer tips and hints on how to do lumbering and hay harvesting if you’re a bit rusty.

          2. wilroncanada

            We had a 9-passenger VW van, circa 1969, that we got well-used from a local environmental travel writer (along with his government job), who had used it for mini bus tours to Mexico. It came completely equipped with a homemade storage unit mounted on a ranger rack, an icebox in the back, over the engine, draining into the right wheel well, and a storage box for between the rear rows of seats. If you mounted the second bank in reverse, it could sleep two or three, with the storage box as the middle of the bed.
            We used it for years to haul three children, friends, chickens, goats, and tons of office supplies for the store we owned for a few years. Finally, sadly, even our local friend, the VW mechanic, couldn’t do anything about the rusted out body, and we had to deliver it to the Old Volks Home.

    2. bronco

      I’m driving an SUV that gets 13mpg . I like it that I have no payment and minimal insurance payment. Its reliable and easy to fix .

      I’ve had people say I’m part of the problem because its a gas guzzler (suposedly) meanwhile full size SUV’s are getting 1 or 2 mpg better mileage , cost 50,000 or more and are impossible for the owner to fix.

      The other thing is in the 39 years of its life the last 30 it belonged to me and no car company has had to make a vehicle for me. Meanwhile so called environmentalists have been buying a new car for themselves every 3 to 5 years and they have caused 5 to as many as 10 vehicles to be born on an assembly line. Maybe half of which are owned by someone else and the other half sitting in a junkyard somewhere or already melted down as scrap.

  10. fresno dan

    It might sound insane, but there’s a decent bottle of wine out there that costs less than some bottles of water.

    That’s been the gimmick of Charles Shaw, aka “Two Buck Chuck,” which hit the shelves at Trader Joe’s in January 2002. The wine’s $1.99 price tag, simple off-white label, and saccharine flavor, closer to grape juice than wine, sparked a collective freakout among American bargain hunters. It flew in the face of the wine world’s snobbery; it was an everyperson’s bottle of wine.
    Shaw: I moved my family there to start Charles Shaw winery in 1974. We were part of a pioneering group out there. In 1978, we made our first production of gamay. We were so excited. It was carbonic, it had an amazing garnet color and was really quite striking. I liked to drink it with a Tiffany’s all-purpose glass. You could smell it just sitting at the table, and people said it had notes of banana.
    I like to drink it in that red plastic cup they sing about in country songs, and eat it with hot dogs (made with EXTRA snouts and tails)

    1. craazyboy

      “notes of banana”

      hahaha. That’s not considered an attractive quality in wine. It is expected in Hefeweizen beer. The weird yeast they use does it. But that’s very different than wine.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Original vintage Red Hook Ale had banana notes. Yuk. if you like a great Hefe minus banana notes give Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier a try. My local grocery even stocks it. It ain’t cheap, but it’s a nice occasional spurge to indulge. They have a beautiful pils/lager as well, but I’ve only seen it in Europe.

        1. craazyboy

          Yup. I used have a Weihenstephaner once and a while. Good, but pricy. I used to brew my own Hefe using that yeast. It’s another 1000 year old Euro strain. But Hefes never were my favorite, I mainly made batches for another guy and kept a modest brewmaster cut. He said mine tasted better than the real thing (after I got the recipe and process down pat) and we did it for half the price.

          Usually I go for various kinds of strong stouts, porters or English nut brown ales. Fortunately we have a large beer and wine store here that carries just about anything anybody is willing to ship to the west coast.

          1. fresno dan

            April 5, 2017 at 3:58 pm

            Just stopped at a little Mediterranean place for lunch AKA in Fresno Armenian place.
            They had quite a variety of Russian and Armenian beers – when the Russian beer started beeping, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and I got the Armenian beer

            lager beer from Yerevan, Armenia. since 1952
            Not an IPA, but not your miller either. It had some novel flavor – it must have tasted OK cause I drank the whole thing…. I am not very good at describing flavors. not sweet or bitter or tart….not fruity.

            As far as German beers, I really love those ….oh, swiss cheese brains…..the dark beer from Munchen….dunkel!

            1. craazyboy

              haha. If your Russian beer presents ringtones, leave the premises immediately!

              I didn’t know Armenians made beer, but I guess everyone does. I’ve spent some time in German beer halls – the Hofbräuhaus München for one. They do know how to make beer in Germany.

      2. vidimi

        winos always joke about the beaujolais nouveau, the first new wine after harvest, as the plonk that smells of banana. beaujolais is made of gamay, so there you go.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thats an interesting article. I find most cheap supermarket wines far too sweet for my taste. I’m not sure whether its because quick and cheap wine making results in sweetness, or because they market test it and the consumers like it (probably a bit of both), but its not pleasurable for me. Unfortunately, the drier more mineral wines I enjoy tend not to be cheap (except in France, where I fill up on every trip). 3 litre French wine boxes are wonderful value and often great quality.

      The cheap wine market is full of dubious short cuts. When I moved to England in 1988 the supermarkets all sold fantastic quality Bulgarian wines at rock bottom prices. They disappeared when Nelson Mandela got out of prison. It turns out the Bulgarians were buying surplus South African wines (then boycotted) and relabeling them and selling them to the UK. The Chinese wine market is booming – the cheap stuff (Great Wall Wine!) is awful, but some I’m told is quite good. But I was reading that there is far more Chinese and Thai wine being sold than could possibly be produced by their vineyards – turns out they are mostly importing Chilean wines to increase the quality.

      1. Jan

        The cheap supermarket wine, also known as Chateau Migraine. The stuff of student parties in the 70s.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Beyond the Great Wall brands.

        As in Uighur autonomous region, around the Tarim Basin…year round sunshine, and cool night time air, with occasional, but fierce sandstorms. They think they can make good wines there, to be drunk in ‘jade goblets.’

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I believe they’ve found it harder than expected to grow good grapes in Asia – I suspect its down to higher humidity levels and soil types. The guy who owns Red Bull has apparently put millions into vineyards in China and Thailand but the results haven’t been great. But I would guess the climate up around the north-west of China would be similar to Shiraz in Iran, which once produced wonderful red wines, and apparently still does. It would be kind of ironic if they found the best wine growing conditions in a muslim area.

  11. JCC

    On the Frontiers In Psychology article on smartphones and its “wild findings”, having finally given up after 15 years of owning a cellphone and purchasing a “smart” phone, I went, a little nervously, straight to the conclusion of the 35 page provisional article:

    “Although the research concerning the potential cognitive impacts of smartphone technology is growing, the results remain contradictory and inconclusive.”

    Wake me up with a text message when the conclusive results are in.

  12. Expat

    If the US were a functionning democracy and a capitalist economy, billionaire Dimon would not be pontificating to a fawning crowd of sycophant financial reporters. He would bent over his prison bunk being turned out for smokes.
    Forgive the rather vivid imagery, but I really can’t conceive of how Dimon or Blankfein deserve better.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Expat.

      There’s no need to ask for forgiveness. Most of us share your revulsion.

      Unfortunately, I have and had to work with people like that. There are a few others in the commentariat who have and had the misfortune, too.

      1. Expat

        Yeah, I did five years in investment banks including the mother of all money launderers, Citibank.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Expat.

          I thought HSBC, where I was from 1999 – 2006, had that crown :-).

        2. Colonel Smithers

          Your comment reminds me of an insightful and witty comment in the Daily Telegraph online a couple of years ago by RB Houghton, who also posts here, about money laundering driving bank profitability.

  13. Steve H.

    : The Nasty Truth About the CIA

    “there is nothing more dangerous than old angry people, that what was once held back can now be spoken of.”


    1. Optimader

      Re: …nothing more dangerous then angry old people..
      How about angry, ignorant/naiive young people with lots of misguided energy?

      They are the ones that can enthusiastically throw people down wells, roam around with matchetes hacking limbs and shoot people in the back of the head in the rice paddies from dawn till dusk

      1. Steve H.

        But they cannot bring down a head of state. Deep Throat was a pissed off old man.

        Children make wonderful weapons. Those who choose the targets are the greater danger.

        And those who chose to create a political system that poisons its own populace for profit are the greatest danger. Why should the young who are the subjects of such disregard feel allegiance to anything but themselves? They are the unwilling sacrifices to the ambitions of those the article refers to.

        1. Optimader

          Young peoole are always the fodder in war, but with regard to the revolutionary leadership, young not old.
          Hitler became leader of the nazi party at 32, Mao was a founding member of the CPC at 33, Pol Pot came to leadership of the Khmer Rouge at 38, Castro was 26 when The 26th of July Movement was formed, Che was a few years younger, Lenin founded the Bolsheviks when he was 35…

          None of them were old people, and generally their true believer flunkies were their age or younger.

        2. HotFlash

          A-yup. We still do human sacrifice, we just make it look different. So as to seem right, just and inevitable, just as it was in the Old Days.

        3. Olga

          Deep Throat was not too old in 1974. Did it occur to anyone that Nixon was taken down by the Deep State? Not that he did not commit crimes… but his truly treasonous crime – scuttling peace negotiations in 1968 – was never mentioned (until now). I am beginning to think that there were other reasons behind Nixon’s demise…

          1. gepay

            Nixon was obviously, to me, brought down by the CIA. One must remember he fired Richard Helms – for not helping him with watergate which, if one remembers, was done by “ex cia” employees. Also Woodward is kind of obvious as an intelligence member of the media. Most people don’t realize that it was Nixon who created the ATF as a kind of national police force more amenable to Presidential direction than Hoover’s FBI. He also created the DEA which could do both domestic and foreign intelligence in the same agency. My opinion is that Nixon had wanted to be President for so long that when he became President he forgot who he really worked for (it wasn’t the American public). So the people that really run things had him impeached. Remember that before he was impeached, Spiro Agnew, the corrupt VP, was eliminated so that Gerald Ford (congressman and former Warren Commission member) became VP Then Nelson Rockefeller (who for some good reasons was never able to win the Republican nomination for President) became a heartbeat away from the Presidency. There were two failed assassination attempts on Ford. The third time might have been the charm for Nelson but he died having a heart attack while with an expensive prostitute.

    2. Furzy A Mouse

      I can second that CIA story…..was in Nepal in ’78, visiting a CIA operative (I had thought he was a fellow student of Indian music, but suddenly found out otherwise). Mistakenly walked into a room in Kathmandu and found my “friend” and his accomplice loading cocaine into talcum powder containers….They flew out of Nepal the next day; I guess I was lucky to get out myself with no hassle.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I doubt if it was cocaine in Nepal. I believe the British did experiment with planting it in the Himalaya (trying to displace the Dutch Javanese trade in Coca leaves), but I don’t think its ever been successfully grown in the sub-continent or HImalaya. I would guess it was a more locally (i.e. Afghanistan/Pakistan) derived white powdered narcotic.

      2. jsn

        By happenstance over the last thirty hears I’ve known at least four people involved in this from airplane pilots to DIA to retired CIA. The basic narrative scans with what I’ve been told by these except for the premise that the drug trade was the only point.

        I think it was a sort of BYOBlack Budget for the CIA until GWOT opened the financial heavens on the spook set. Now it seems like more of a hobby they just can’t bring themselves to stop.

        1. Keeping you safe by poisoning you

          Well the heroine production numbers in Afghanistan is telling a story too about Talibans vs US occupation management:

          Mexican official: CIA ‘manages’ drug trade

          Not CIA but would be surprised if they are not working together:

          With no DEA in sight, Bolivia keeps reducing coca fields – See more at:,-bolivia-keeps-reducing-coca-crops.html#sthash.TyRcFLtT.dpuf

          1. gepay

            to add credence to the article – one must remember the 1980 Bolivian Cocaine Coup. The CIA used Reverend Moon’s followers to bring in millions of dollars under the table into Bolivia. Hired Klaus Barbie and his Angels of Death (young rightwing fascists from Europe) to help the military overthrow the elected government. Installed a friendly corrupt military guy. Cocaine exports boomed. They needed tons more to sell for the booming crack cocaine market. See Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance. (Who did invent crack cocaine? I have read of intelligence research into the Peruvian smokers of the leftovers from crystal production which is smokable as opposed to crystal cocaine which isn’t – without a lot of dangerous chemical alteration – remember Richard Pryor almost burning himself up trying to make crystal smokable – was crack invented by some CIA hired chemist? One would think a gangster type would brag about it)

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are old people and really old people.

      Really old people don’t usually have energy for much of anything. There are exceptional ones who are energetic.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I imagine when I get to be really old, the challenge will be surviving more technological progress.

          “You don’t use smartphone now (now is 2057)? Well, how do I get food with this telepathic thingamajig?”

          Tech gadgets can really make you feel much older than you really are.

          “The world of my youth is long gone. I don’t belong today.”

          It used to be not like that.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I imagine when I get to be really old, the challenge will be surviving more technological progress.

          “You don’t use smartphone now (now is 2057)? Well, how do I get food with this telepathic thingamajig?”

          Tech gadgets can really make you feel much older than you really are.

          “The world of my youth is long gone. I don’t belong today.”

          It used to be not like that.

    4. wilroncanada

      Not all the article is believable. The relationships are more complex than one simple explanation. The CIA is more than a drug cartel; it is also an assassination squad, a regime change corps, a kidnapping for ransom crew, etc. Of course gun running, which goes with the drug running. And don’t forget, there are dozens–more than are officially listed by Homeland Security–of other clandestine agencies of the US. They all fight for their share of the spoils; many are connected to major industries.

      G. Bush senior has always been the brains of the family. His two political sons were incompetent, both legally and in their illegal activities.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Smartphones and Cognition: A review of research exploring the links between mobile technology habits and cognitive functioning Frontiers in Psychology (resilc). Some of the findings are wild, such as: “Further evidence suggests that even the mere awareness of the physical presence of a cell phone may impact cognitive performance.”

    Is it more the magnetic personality of a cell phone?

    Some magnetic personality humans can do that. They are quite often worshiped as saviors. Will cell phones ascend to such heights?

  15. m

    CIA & DRUGS. I just got books by Gary Webb & Alfred McCoy, can’t wait to read them. I would not be surprised at all if the CIA smuggled drugs as a way to fund some of their operations.
    A few years after we blew up Afghanistan heroin became cheap & plentiful here. Young & dumb that couldn’t find pot cause it was scarce & expensive tried heroin. They snorted it under the belief that was better than shooting it up. No aids & won’t get addicted, right. There was no talk of oxycodone, oxycontin or other pharmaceuticals. It is easy to blame the pill mills, but where did all that heroin come from?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      “I would not be surprised at all if the CIA smuggled drugs as a way to fund some of their operations.”

      Well, it wouldn’t be the first time a government did this. The Opium Wars of the 19th century comes to mind.

      1. Olga

        The same thought came to me on this (i.e., opium wars – how similar). It also explains the insanity of the wars against the Central Am. countries – never made any sense, unless there was some other, hidden, agenda. Beware… karma!

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Always follow the money, Pablo Escobar was pulling in $60 million *per day*. Nations and laws have no chance in the face of a flow like that.

    2. lyman alpha bloba

      Read a bunch of Webb’s stuff years ago and what he says corroborates a lot of that article.

      It also brought to mind the BCCI banking scandal which John Kerry to his credit did a lot to uncover. My recollection of that was that the ‘bank’ was a huge money laundering operation involving all kinds of drug proceeds. The bank was shut down and the scandal was rather abruptly brushed under the rug before too many details could get out. Seem to recall someone saying that if everyone involved were investigated and prosecuted, we’d have suddenly been missing a large portion of Congress and the rest of the beltway crowd.

      And I’ll note that my state’s largest hospital which is responsible for handing out massive amounts of opioids has a wing named after Barbara Bush. Funny how the Bush family and drugs seem to be so closely linked…

      1. wilroncanada

        There’s a lot of stuff around about the shady dealings of the Bush and Walker families going back to WWI. Webb and McCoy have both written about the CIA and drug running. Of course, Webb was “suicided.” Opium became a huge cash cow and profit centre in Indochina under the auspices of the CIA during the Vietnam War.

    3. gepay

      when Carter was President – home grown pot was everywhere – that all changed with Reagan – homegrown pot became scarce and it was easier to buy (easier to find to buy but way more expensive) cocaine.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Brexit 1.0: Scientists find evidence of Britain’s original separation from Europe PhysOrg (Chuck L)

    Is this to do with the fact that every time an Ice Age ends, or when the climate warms and ice melts, people can’t just walk from Calais to Dover?

    It is getting warming.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bernie Sanders’s Misguided Attacks on the “Liberal Elite” New Republic. Bob K: “This is the definition of a “left” hack. You wouldn’t think it possible to get everything wrong about the elites who captured the Democrat party, but this guy is giving it a shot.”

    Not quite everything wrong.

    Sanders was not labeled ‘Third Rome’s agent, Comrade Bernie.”

    The boss graded the paper 99 out of 100. Still an A+ paper though.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China announces “medical tourism” special economic zone on Hainan Island Boing Boing

    It’s only possible (now) when organ-harvesting is stopped; otherwise, the patient might have doubts.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      The Monday morning after Bob Diamond’s defenestration by Mervyn King, at the trade body related to his ouster and where I was then employed, we mused (at “prayers”) about if Diamond had been in China (execution followed by a harvesting of organs and billing of his family for the expense of execution).

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    This Budding Movement Wants to Smash Monopolies Dave Dayen, Nation

    I avoid places that are ‘the only place to patronize,’ online or offline, and when possible, don’t buy at all. So what the socks are full of holes. No one sees them. They not more dangerous health-wise.

    Going forward, can we look forward to ‘Avoid This or That Monopoly/Oligopoly’ Day (or Week/Month/Year/Decade/Century/Millennium), when we set aside a period of time to just say no?

  20. LT

    Re: phone searches and travelling

    Before or after they arrive, people could ship their phone via mail to their location overseas. Use a larger box than a phone size box and throw in a few other little things. Make it onerous for them to have to seize packages and unpack them if they really, really want to check a phone. Same with laptops and tablets.

    1. HotFlash

      ‘Scuse me. I have shipped pkgs abroad, oh, to say Italy, or Nepal, and 1.) the customs waits are looooooong, up to weeks for properly identified and not-at-all-upsetting goods (that’s Italy), and 2.) sometimes they don’t arrive at all (that’s Nepal). For instance, when sending shoes to friends in Nepal, one sends them *one at a time*; pairs tend to be pilfered somewhere along the line.

      So, maybe, but mail your phone at your own risk. BTW, want to have your phone, your freakin’ *phone* with all its personal info, you contacts, your calendar, your photos, your ??? *, in the hands of who knows who? Good luck with that.

    2. bronco

      Or just , you know go on vacation without your phone. If you need people to get ahold of you get a burner from tracphone and have that for emergency use.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        There are people for whom there is no such thing as a real vacation, as in you need to be able to access e-mails or do some level of work. I have to travel with a laptop.

        1. MoiAussie

          Here’s a strategy for people who need to travel with devices and maintain privacy.

          1. Fully backup your laptop/phone to local storage, and encrypt this “true” backup.
          2. Wipe your laptop/phone (full reset and security erase), and then reinstall/update it.
          3. Populate it with some innocuous content, do some innocuous tasks on it.
          4. Again, full backup your laptop/phone to local storage, call this the “safe” backup.
          5. Upload both backups to the cloud, travel, and reload your true backup as needed.
          6. Erase device and reload your safe backup when crossing borders or at other times of vulnerability.

          This kind of approach requires competence in backup/restore and appropriate software. If one’s device has important stuff on it, one should be doing backups anyway. The key is that you can switch between private and public states at will.

          The hassle of steps 2 and 3 can be avoided if you create a safe backup of your newly purchased device before you load any private content onto it, and then occasionally load that backup and do innocuous stuff then resave it, ie. create and maintain your safe backup over time, so it always has recent activity.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    H-1B Visa Overhaul Could Actually Benefit Big Tech Companies Bloomberg

    This morning, on the local public radio, probably the NPR show, they were talking about fear among undocumented immigrants in LA county.

    Rarely do they use the word fear when talking about US workers losing work to robots.

    Do American human workers not bleed when pricked just like media elites?

    Or is this a case of foreigners-not-capable, they are weak…inferior… but we natives are exceptional and don’t and never fear losing the war to robots, we’re strong, superman-ish, that kind of we’re-superior thinking?

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      It’s not just American workers, but Americans in general.

      I was delighted when Trump called out Europeans and others for freeloading on Uncle Sam for defence. It’s very easy for Europeans to bleat about Russia, the Middle East etc. and expect American working class kids to die for them. Why is America First bad, but not any other country first? The oh so smart alecs in the Netherlands and Portugal who released You Tube videos about the Netherlands being second and Portugal third should grow and wise up. It’s gonna be a long road to Moscow with these European snowflakes.

      Europeans remind me of English South Africans. The latter benefitted from Apartheid, but had the luxury of tut tutting about Afrikaners from around the corner. This depiction was made by a school friend thirty years ago. A class mate had just arrived from SA and was moaning about Afrikaners being responsible for Apartheid. A few years later, I visited SA and observed what my friend said.

      1. begob

        One side of the coin. Many Europeans see America as the cause of so much war. We should probably stop categorizing ourselves as mutually opposed, and identify the real agents of all this killing.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Begob.

          I don’t disagree, but it’s a bit too easy for Europeans, vide Libya and the Sahel.

          Speaking of the Sahel, there are many Nigerians, usually working in healthcare, where I live. Many are Catholic, including priests in a two parishes. All believe the US and France are behind Boko Haram and Al Qaeda’s local offshoots.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Hilary fought hard to keep Boko off of the “terror group” list, Google “Gilbert Chagoury”. While you’re funning around in the depths of alleged corruption and depravity also try “Clinton Mena Arkansas airport cocaine” for grainy Youtube videos citing chapter and verse. I think we all wish it wasn’t so, but pretending it doesn’t exist is lame, too.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you.

              I am aware of both, but did not know about the You Tube videos. I will have a look.

              Chagoury and that gang of Middle Eastern investors in Africa are seriously dodgy.

      2. Expat

        Your view is biased and, I dare say, ignorant. Europeans do not bleat about Russia, the Middle East and then expect American kids to die for them. Europeans are handling Russia perfectly well and don’t see any particular threat there. As for the Middle East, Europeans have created some of their own problems but are also suffering from the amazingly long and complex list of total fuck-up created by the Americans.

        Europeans are both amused and appalled by Trump. On one hand, he is a clown and funny. On the other hand, he seems to represent a large part of American thought and belief.

        In any case, this persistent fall-back to “IF it weren’t for us, you would be speaking German…or Russian” is trite, stupid and out of date. Europe doesn’t really want American troops here, there or anywhere. If Nato is such an expensive thing, it’s because it is America’s desire to have it. We don’t want your GI’s (working class kids? how about your minorities which you so gleefully stamp into green uniforms and send off to die in some 3rd Shithole America created). Nato is an occupation, not a partnership. Just because English politicians are toadies and American lapdogs doesn’t mean the rest of us are.

        I am French. We kicked your boorish American asses out of France back in 1966. I don’t recall a single invasion of France by anyone or anything other than McDonald’s and bad television.

        Take your American Exceptionalism and go preach to some Afghani mother whose children were blown up in an American airstrike. We don’t care to hear that crap in Europe.

        1. Olga

          Wow – cool your heels!
          Certainly, the European elite are all in the pocket of uncle Sam – unfortunately, the jean-stella-artois-six-pack European is doing nowhere enough to challenge his/her leaders on that point. How did Libya come about? Pls review videos of Sarkozy, Hollande, and UK’s Camoron (not a typo) screaming to take down the Libyan state… While you may be right that many Eur. do not agree w such policies – there are too many who either do or say nothing. And you should hear my buddies go on ab the Russian invasion of Europe… any minute now. They ask why the Russians stayed in E/C. Europe for all those years – never once remembering that their countries were governed by Nazis (Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Germ., Chroatia (plus the sorry conduct of the Polish state bef WWII – denying any possibility of a defence pact w Stalin, and the surrender of the French elites to Herr H.)). Yes, Nato is there to extend US hegemony – but the E. elites have agreed to it long ago…
          While De Gaulle may have wanted to be independent, leaders after him cooperated w the uncle – marching back into Nato like obedient li’l chickens.
          On other points, you are not incorrect….

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Olga.

            You forgot to mention the podium where Sarko, Camoron and some Libyan puppet stood to celebrate. All that was missing was the champagne, even Saudi champagne, for spraying.

          2. vidimi

            a defense pact with stalin for poland? despite riebentropp-molotov? that is a fantasy which ignores the reality of what such a soviet intervention ended up looking like.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL “Europeans are handling Russia perfectly well” LOL
          Oh you mean by acquiescing to ridiculous and hysterical American demands to cut the country off from the world banking network? Or perhaps you mean by allowing tanks and troops to support NATO expansion across Eastern Europe? Or maybe your farmers and exporters really do like the economic sanctions against Russia? The European relationship with the US is the relationship between a big bully owner and a little poodle lapdog, the bully beats the dog and the dog says “oh thank you sir, now please give me another treat!”.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you.

            These sanctions are not helping France’s ailing agricultural sector.

            French / EU farmers should not expect a return to the Russian market when sanctions are lifted. Russian agriculture has been forced to reform since sanctions were imposed. The country has also diversified its supplier base, including from Latin America and Mauritius (Ile Maurice, formerly Isle de France, for Expat).

        3. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Expat.

          I imagine your fine rant was aimed at me.

          Where are the protests against the US bases in Europe? I can’t recall any since the early 1980s. At the time, dad was a Royal Air Force officer and worked at bases around Europe. I can’t recall protests in France about Sarko’s decision to rejoin NATO’s military command.

          Is it only the English who are toadies? What do you call these Scandinavian neo-cons baiting Russia? Heck, one contributor to these pages, Swedish Lex, flounced off over what he perceived as pro-Russian views expressed here. It was not just Blair meeting Bush in the Azores, but Aznar and the Portuguese chappy now at Goldman and whose name I can’t recall. I will say that Chirac was heroic in standing up to Bush and Blair. Schroeder was just calculating, not necessarily a bad thing.

          Some of these third world shitholes are France’s former colonies. Let’s go back to Haiti in 1804 and work our way through the ages, shall we? The meddling, usually by proxy, continues to this day. At the moment, France, the country of human rights and also of the Code Noir, is in league with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia in the Comoros / Comores. France was not happy that Sambi (a Shiite) gave oil and gas concessions to other countries / firms, so France teamed up with KSA to make trouble and try to get some licences for Total, Maurel & Prom etc.

          I am not American by the way and have ancestors hailing from St Malo and Mercoeur (Correze). On peut meme discuter en francais :-). J’aimerais bien.

          1. fajensen

            What do you call these Scandinavian neo-cons baiting Russia?


            The Swedish really, really have “a thing” about Russia, it is very strange how a supposedly modern and well-informed people will believe almost anything at all no matter how stupid it appears to be, as long it is involves a story that Russia somehow caused it.

            Only 4-6 months ago they were looking for Russian Infiltration because some cable got nicked (d.uh. what else are those illegal migrants supposed to live from apart from drugs and assassination work) a TV tower collapsed at about the same time (yes, the way they build things hire kinda guarantees that thing fall over) and they found a Russian Submarine (Oh TERROR) – from 1918, but it took two weeks of Putin-Bashing before they figured that out and also figured out that it was a known wreck.

            Now Russia gassed people in Syria on behalf of Assad or something. Just goes on and on.

        4. kareninca

          “Europe doesn’t really want American troops here, there or anywhere.”

          That’s funny. I just chatted a couple of weeks ago with a guy from Belgium who teaches international studies, and he very very very much wants U.S. troops in Europe, and was hoping that Europe would spend more to make sure it is the case. Just one data point, but he was extremely adamant about it. Of course, he also said he thought Putin was a big problem for Europe.

    2. HotFlash

      Rarely do they use the word fear when talking about US workers losing work to robots.

      A-yup. When I hear on radio etc, it is “they do not perceive that they are benefiting” from the recovery, as if it is their *perceptions* that are at fault. My relatives, former neighbours and friends in the US Rustbelt (MI) are scared to death.

  22. justanotherprogressive

    Re: “Bernie Sanders’s Misguided Attacks on the “Liberal Elite”
    or in the common vernacular:
    “When y’all come with the pitchforks, remember, we were with YOU, no really, we were! It was all those other guys fault!”

  23. Webstir

    Re: Antidote du Jour–
    OP said “They really seem more like sea cows than sea lions.”
    I fished commercially all up and down the West coast for about a decade. Trust me, when one of those bulls opens up it’s gaping tooth filled maw and let’s go a bone-rattling roar … one tends to get the lion reference.

  24. Goyo Marquez

    Re: Monopolies
    It’s not just the economic inefficiency, i.e. the excess profits, the rents, the unavoidable toll booths on the way to the grocery store, the compulsory transfer of wealth from the many to the few, but it’s that there are tremendous economies of scale involved, and these economies of scale make evil doing much more efficient as well.

  25. Bunk McNulty

    Bannon Off National Security Council (NYT)

    From the story:

    A senior White House official presented the move as a logical evolution, not a setback for Mr. Bannon. He had originally been put on the principals committee to keep an eye on Mr. Flynn and to “de-operationalize” the N.S.C. after the Obama administration, this official said on condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics. This official said that process had been completed.

    But the reorganization seemed a clear victory for General McMaster as he struggles to assert control over national security. In addition to the changing membership of the principals committee, the new order also puts the Homeland Security Council under General McMaster rather than making it a separate entity, as Mr. Trump’s original order had done.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you don’t like the result, put in someone else and change.

      That is his modus operandi.

      Will he try health care again?

  26. marym

    Why the alt-right loves single-payer health care

    It’s kind of rambling, but with some interesting takes, including:

    Of course, single-payer would overwhelmingly benefit a lot of nonwhite Americans as well. But programs like Social Security and Medicare do too, and their universal nature and the fact that they’re tied to work have led them to be less racialized and stigmatized than cash welfare or Medicaid. Single-payer’s universality is appealing because it helps the white working class without making them enroll in means-tested programs traditionally associated with black and Latino beneficiaries.

    Well, fancy that – people support programs that provide universal benefits, and don’t humiliate them in the process.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t help wondering if the so called alt-right really likes single payer, or if this sort of story is intended to link single payer to extremism.

      1. marym

        I wonder the opposite – whether they want to position themselves to shape it, if necessary if insurance companies back out, or fail, or totally consolidate to make the illusion of “choice” unsustainable. Maybe they would outsource the “single payer” function to a gigantic for-profit insurance entity; institute a regressive tax to fund it; manipulate the provider reimbursement process, etc. If neolib Dems are ever pressured to acknowledge a need for single payer, I’d have the same worry.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          You are quite right to say that if single payer looks inevitable, they will immediately seek to crapify it from within. But I think they are still in ‘oppose it at every level’ mode of thought, hence my thinking that perhaps they are trying to link it in peoples mind with the extreme. They may well have war gamed out what to do if Trump turns around and proposes single payer and dares the Dems to support him, and this may be one of their strategies.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, PK.

            The model is the UK NHS.

            Dad works there now, along with many former Royal Air Force comrades, including his best mate from school in Mauritius and my godfather. All want to leave over the next year. They are p’d off with the creeping privatisation and corruption. All of the private sector parasites have Tory and New Labour MPs and former MPs on their boards.

            One Blairite has shares in three companies feeding off the NHS.

            The Reed family who own the eponymous recruitment agency contribute to Blairite coffers.

  27. Ignacio

    RE: Dijsselbloem’s Parliament boycott inflames tensions Politico

    I just want to remark that with all the anti-trumpism in liberal media, how trumpinyite this “liberal” EU leader looks!

  28. ChrisAtRU

    Well New Republic is “even Stevens” on the day I guess. That odious piece on Bernie was met and annihilated by Sarah Jones’ blistering critique of Susan Bordo’s “The Destruction of Hillary Clinton”.

    Great Read.

  29. JEHR

    Let’s have a series of truces for The War on Terror, The War on Hunger, The War on Disease, The War on Drugs, The War on Wars (all 134 of them).

    We might start The War on Bankers, The War on Greed, The War on Inequality, etc.

    But really, No More Wars!

  30. ewmayer

    Re. Trader Joe’s two-buck-chuck, If you want a decent non-cloyingly-sweet bargain wine, the Three Wishes brand carried by Whole Foods is one of the very few good bargains at the chain. $2.25-2.50 per bottle [depending on whether you buy a case for the 10% discount], I find the Cab most to my liking, but they also have a white and [IIRC] a Merlot.

    In less-nice bargain-booze news, it seems Costco has discontinued their house brand Kirkland Signature ales, which one used to be able to get for under $20/case, and which was surprisingly good. As little as a few years ago one could also score a decennt brand-name IPA for under $20/case, now the only beer under $25/case is mass-market pisswater-crap, e.g. Corona light and Dos Equis here in CA. So just tried TJ’s Josephsbrau [$6/six-pack] for the first time this week. Alas, inferior to the aforementioned now-defunct Kirkland brand. I’ll probably pay the $25 for a case of Lagunitas or Blue Moon IPA next time I’m at Costco.

  31. roxy

    A friend said if you like red wine, a certain retailer has this brand which consists of the bottom of the barrel residue of all their varieties which could be called “red”, combined and packaged as “red wine”. She kindly provided a sample, very nice of her. On line I saw somebody review this bottle, and I quote, “I’m no wine connoisseur, but I know swill when I taste it”, which sums it up for me.

  32. JIm

    Corey Robin argues in his brief article on Arendt, Eichmann and motivation that “… that the last reason why I think Eichmann is such a great book and so helpful at this moment, is that it mounts a devastating critique of intentionality–the inner state of mind, the personal motive, that allegedly give rise to action…”

    When Arendt wrote her introduction to Life of the Mind (which originally appeared in the New Yorker after the Eichmann book) she mentioned that she had come to Eichmann trial drenched in a Satanic notion of evil “…however what I was confronted with was utterly different…I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the incontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives.” The doer she wrote was “quite ordinary, commonplace and neither demonic nor monstrous.”

    Apparently gone from her analysis in “Origins of Totalitarianism” was radical evil and in its place was the banality of evil. The demonic evil driven by ideology was replaced by Arendt (in her Eichmann book) with a type of bureaucratic evil driven primarily by routine.

    She is still focused on intent but is surprised by its ordinariness when encased in bureaucratic operations and structures.

    Is such shallowness a linkage with Trump?

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