Links 4/7/17

Readers, there are way too many links, but I had a lot teed up before Trump’s Syria strikes, and I couldn’t bear to triage too much. And there’s plenty on Syria! –lambert.

Extraterrestrial Origin Of Fast Radio Burst Phenomenon Confirmed Universe Today

Squid and octopus can edit and direct their own brain genes New Scientist

Cannibalism not so nutritious for early humans, study finds Japan Times

Private equity is breaking records left and right as funds rake in money CNBC. Fund-raising, not returns.

Fall, recover, repeat: Munis rebound from sharp drops, again AP

Former RBA governor Bernie Fraser says penalty rate cut will produce inequality, not jobs Sydney Morning Herald (DM).

It’s Lit: A Guide to What Teens Think Is Cool Google (GP).


Britain: An Economy on the Brink NYRB (Re Silc).

What is ‘global Britain’? A financier and arms merchant to brutal dictators Guardian

Brexit’s Biggest Loser May Actually Be Poland Bloomberg

Somerdale to Skarbimierz LRB


U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government WaPo. “Tuesday’s apparent nerve gas attack in northern Idlib, with its widely circulated images of lifeless children, appears to have galvanized Trump and some of his top advisers to harden their position against the Syrian leader.” “Widely circulated images.”

Full text of President Trump’s statement after Syria missile strikes NY Daily News

Trump should have talked to this guy:

Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement WaPo

Tillerson to visit Moscow as US, Russia face fresh tensions AP

China warns of deterioration in Syria with Xi in US Agence France Presse. Foreign Ministry spokesperson: “We oppose use of chemical weapons by any country, organisation or individual in any circumstance, for any purpose.”

Israel welcomes U.S. airstrikes in Syria, will keep to sidelines Reuters. “Let’s you and him fight.”

Turkey’s Erdogan Would Support U.S. Military Action in Syria: Hurriyet Reuters

* * *

Trump’s Most Diehard Media Defenders Turn On Him After Strikes On Syria BuzzFeed

This Isn’t the Foreign Policy Trump Campaigned On The American Conservative

* * *

Donald Trump Is An International Law Breaker by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis (Re Silc). “In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened.”

Syria: New U.S. Air Support On Request Scheme For Al-Qaeda Moon of Alabama

‘The dead were wherever you looked’: inside Syrian town after gas attack Guardian. No questions about hazmat suits, oddly, or not.

Nearly 300 died in Mosul airstrike, making it one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in recent memory Los Angeles Times. No children, presumably.

Whose sarin? Seymour Hersh, LRB (from 2013, but still useful today).

* * *

Trump’s Syria strikes divide Congress — but not along partisan lines Politico. Pelosi: “The crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes.” Schumer: “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.”

Can the president attack another country without Congress? AP. By custom and practice, that depends on which party holds the Presidency, and which partisan is asking the question, right? I think the real issue is what new powers does the Executive gain should war be declared, and cui bono?

* * *

Iran to Allow Russia to Use Military Bases ‘on Case-by-case Basis’ VOA (March 28, 2017, pre-strike).

Government of Kuwait – Facilities and Infrastructure Construction Support Service Defense Security Cooperation Agency (April 6, 2017, pre-strike). $319 million for…

Syria’s ‘moderate rebels’ to form a new alliance Al Jazeera (April 6, 2017, pre-strike).

Hillary Clinton: US should ‘take out’ Assad’s air fields CNN (April 7, 2017, pre-strike).

Pentagon: Russia alerted in advance of Syria strike The Week. Word of the day: “Deconfliction.”

Eyewitness says Syrian military anticipated U.S. raid ABC

Imperial Collapse Watch

We are the war on terror, and the war on terror is us Thanassis Cambanis

60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History BuzzFeed. How the AUMF was drafted and passed with no sunset clause.

Meet The Martin Shkreli Of Defense Contracting HuffPo

Want to Buy an Old CIA Rendition Jet? Mother Jones. Lotta room on that 737. I’ve always wondered how many people were really rendered…

Police State Watch

Why Cops Shoot Tampa Bay Times

When Warriors Put on the Badge The Marshall Project

Southern Missouri Sheriff Framed 77-Year-Old for Kidnapping, AG Says Riverfront Times

New Cold War

Devin Nunes recuses himself as House Intel chair during Russia probe PBS

Hillary Clinton says Vladimir Putin must be held to account for election ‘meddling’ in first interview since election The Independent. “Held to account.”

Trump Transition

Donald Trump accepts Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China South China Morning Post

Cohn Backs Wall Street Split of Lending, Investment Banks Bloomberg

In Battle for Trump’s Heart and Mind, It’s Bannon vs. Kushner NYT and Bannon wants a war on Washington. Now he’s part of one inside the White House WaPo. Court intrigue…

Donors’ Enthusiasm for Trump Energizes RNC Fundraising WSJ

Partial Transcript: Trump’s Interview With The Times NYT

Our Famously Free Press

These high school journalists investigated a new principal’s credentials. Days later, she resigned. WaPo. Heaven forfend the Post should throw these journalists a link. Here it is. “Democracy dies in darkness,” after all. (In a later story, The Times does better.)

Health Care

Thousands of brokers exit as plan commissions go unpaid Modern Healthcare

Risk Adjustment, Reinsurance Improved Financial Outcomes For Individual Market Insurers With The Highest Claims Health Affairs

Why workers don’t always take family or medical leave when they need to Pew Research. You’ll never guess!

Class Warfare

Every story I have read about Trump supporters in the past week WaPo. A pastiche fictional interview, like Stephen King’s, but worse. “Tempe Work Only, Ariz” is a real knee-slapper, don’t you agree?

Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer Matt Stoller, Vice

Why You Probably Work for a Giant Company, in 20 Charts WSJ

Jamie Dimon Forgot to Mention Mergers Are Part of the Problem Bloomberg

Americans Are Pretty Skeptical That Hard Work Will Pay Off The Atlantic (Re Silc).

This company’s drugs helped fuel Florida’s opioid crisis. But the government struggled to hold it accountable. WaPo (Re Silc). The medicalization (and carceralization, if that’s a word) of “deaths from despair” continues apace (and now with clickbait: “This ____” in the headline).

Prescribing Crisis Jacobin. And Jacobin’s headline adopts the same frame.

Penn State opposes graduate students’ effort to unionize Centre Daily Times

Activists fight North Carolina law barring cities from raising minimum wage Guardian

Deliveroo pedals the new language of the gig economy FT

Your way of life would not be remotely possible without Wall Street LA Times (Re Silc).

Does Everyone Always Act in Their Self-Interest? Ian Welsh. The many subtexts of “voting against their interests”….

Antidote du jour, because at a time like this, cats:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. voteforno6

    Love the antidote. I’m almost tempted to go out and get a cat, just because of that picture. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good place to put the litter box.

    1. DH

      Their favorite place is on a laptop keyboard with that nice warmth coming up from the power supply underneath it.

      1. DanB

        My cat is puffed-up right behind (my laptop) me now. And she’d be sitting on it if I got up for a moment.

      2. Jen

        My smaller one likes to perch on the wireless router. I’m tempted to wrap her in foil to see if it will boost the signal.

      3. Oregoncharles

        A local hardware store had a gorgeous large black cat. It liked to lie on the monitor at the register (before flat screens), with its impressive tail hanging in front of the screen. That way it got attention as well as warmth.

      1. crittermom

        samhill, thanks for my first laugh in an already long day (it’s only 10:00 a.m. here).

    2. jawbone

      No room for a litter box? Well, train your cat to use the toilet. Some people can also train the cat to flush the toilet, but I never achieved that.

      Not having a litter box is noticeable to one’s nose.

      1. Hana M

        A friend’s Siamese, an extremely smart male who sired many a show champion, trained himself to use the toilet. I once walked into the bathroom while he was using it. He turned his great blue eyes on me with indignation, I backed out hurriedly, apologizing, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”

    3. alex morfesis

      have used the bathtub or shower to put the litterbox…just have to have a drain setup to control the flying dust…used a plastic shower curtain underneath to keep it simple…no mousers at home and around right now, although a couple of gypsy cats by the office expect me to keep the two blue bowls of water I keep for them outside full and fresh…

  2. Kurtismayfield

    RE: These high school journalists investigated a new principal’s credentials. Days later, she resigned.

    Someone should be looking into who exactly on the school board vouched for her. You don’t get these interviews without connections.

    1. philnc

      No insider help needed: She’d led an elite “American” style private school in an oil rich Gulf country. Basically just the sort of school administrator that would be readily supported by either wing of the privatize education for profit party. Granted, the national government forced the school to close due to multiple violations of education, labor and immigration law, and even without knowing her credentials were falsified (a timely letter impossibly attesting to their credibility apparently having been sent by a certain Secretary of State who never saw a charter school she didn’t like) regulators took a hard line on enforcement. But hey, that was probably all just a misunderstanding.

  3. MoiAussie

    Suppose for one moment that definitive proof emerges that Assad/Russia/Iran is not responsible for the so-called CW attack. (I know that the truth is most unlikely to come out, but please bear with me.)

    What might the US then do? Remain in denial? Apologise and offer compensation? Double down?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Blame Trump’s “dangerous” inexperience and temperament and impeach him for “war crimes.”

        1. cocomaan

          Nobody is ever going to be impeached for blowing people up in a middle eastern country.

          Blowing up people with missiles is something almost everyone in DC can agree on.

          1. Christopher Fay

            Of course you’re excluding a couple or a few M E countries, the special relationship ones, Israel, the Gulag Monarchies.

            1. cocomaan

              It’s only exciting when they’re dirt poor, powerless, and certain to remember what you did to their homeland in thirty years.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Trump did succeed in changing the subject, and fast…and it makes it harder for delusional Dems to claim he is Putin’s puppet. So what if dozens of innocent people died, America does that every day of the week, it’s our explicit national policy. Gleeful indiscriminate state murder, with grainy videos to satisfy the blood lust of the serfs. Are you not entertained?

          2. RabidGandhi

            Exhibit 1: Watergate broke at the same time as the bombing of Cambodia became public. Silly campaign shenanigans vs. illegal mass bombing of one of the world’s poorest civilian populations, and guess which one was grounds for impeachment.

            1. mpalomar

              Watergate was the result of Nixon and Kissinger’s treasonous perfidy regarding Indochina. Kissinger and Nixon originally worried that the Democrats had knowledge about the sabotaging of the Paris talks because they had opened back door channels with the South Vietnamese during the run up to the 1968 election. Johnson knew about it and wanted to go after Nixon but was talked out of it by Clark Clifford.


              Their fears were further exacerbated when in 1969 the NYT disclosed the secret, illegal bombing of Cambodia. Nixon became further obsessed with the source of the leaks.

              It was convenient to both Dems and Repubs to strip Cambodia out of the impeachment process because both parties had members who were aware of it. Though Nixon’s impeachable offenses were inextricably bound up with the Vietnam War, the historical record has been neutered and trivialized by the exclusion of the central theme.

              John Conyers on the impeachment process, “this secret war in Cambodia, which seemed at first incidental as I studied the record before us, has emerged as the starting point which enables me to understand the tremendous amount of surveillance and spying and burglary that has characterized the evidence and this Administration, and led to eventual impeachment proceedings…the question we must ponder is, why the Congress has not called Mr. Nixon to judgment for the bombing of Cambodia? The painful answer is that condemning the Cambodian bombing would also have required us to indict previous administrations and to admit that the Congress has failed to fully meet its own constitutional obligations.”

            2. barefoot charley


              We wackos at the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon, with our mighty media kazoo, helped introduce articles of impeachment for Nixon’s bloodier crimes as well. They were voted down by the House, one after another. The Washington Post Wurlitzer won again.

      1. MoiAussie

        AFAIK, the US doesn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, Bush jnr having withdrawn ratification and sought to ensure immunity from prosecution of US citizens.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Most of the world “understands” that the definition of “war crimes” is what the united states says it is, and, by definition, the united states simply cannot commit them.

          But, given the era of creative narrative in which we’re currently mired, I could see an emphasis on the fact that Russia and Syria were warned of this missile strike beforehand, allowing them to move their planes and avoid mass casualties. The leap from that to collusion with the Russians and Syrians, already “well-established,” isn’t a big one. And since Assad gassed his own people with Russia’s help………

          1. sid_finster

            “War crimes” is another name for victor’s justice.

            That said, as an American, I recognize that if collective punishment is ever deserved, then the United States deserves every drop of victor’s justice that it gets.

          2. Sandler

            Why doesnt the rest of the world unite to form its own military so the US doesn’t just get to do whatever it wants? I don’t see why Europe’s 400 million need to constantly quiver in fear of the 330m Americans.

            1. sleepy

              I don’t see why Europe’s 400 million need to constantly quiver in fear of the 330m Americans.

              I don’t see why 400 million Europeans nor 330 million Americans need to quiver in fear of American/European elites.

            2. olga

              Probably because the US is either bribing or blackmailing their elites. And the plain populace is simply too busy just surviving…

        2. robnume

          That’s right, MoiAussie. The U.S. refuses to recognize the ICC unless it makes a ruling against a country that the U.S. wants to start shit with, for instance – insert any country in Africa’s name here – or to protect the “interests” of the apartheid state of Israel.

      2. Carolinian

        I’m warming up to the idea. But of course the PTB will never impeach Trump for war crimes because then they’d have to impeach themselves.

        Perhaps it’s time for the Republicans and Dems to finally merge and form one party–call it the There Is No Alternative Party. They can work out their differences on things like transgender bathrooms.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘time for the Republicans and Dems to finally merge and form one party’

          Actually they already have, but it wasn’t announced. Since we already have all this great partisan infrastructure, from gov-sponsored primaries to “two sides of the aisle” in parliamentary chambers, it was felt best to just leave it in place.

          There is only one War Party. It’s still celebrating its last clear-cut military victory, our heroes’ triumph in Grenada (pop. 91,000) thirty-three years ago. On your feet or on your knees!

      1. MoiAussie

        Understood. In Iraq’s case, the country had been devastated by the time the truth came out. But what if by some miracle proof emerged before Syria had suffered a similar fate?

        1. Foppe

          The emergence of “truth” is mediated wholly by the media. How likely do you deem it that they start singing that song?

          1. MoiAussie

            As I said above, I consider the truth is most unlikely to come out. But I’m actually asking what people here think the US would do if somehow it was proved that Assad wasn’t the guilty party.

            1. cocomaan

              Nothing, really. The last time there was a gas attack in Syria, it was blamed on Assad, but the reason we didn’t go in was because Obama couldn’t get anyone interested.

              Later, it was shown that attribution to the regime was difficult because the entire country is rubble and bones.

              1. Pespi

                You’re misremembering history. Obama blundered into his “red line” speech about chemical weapons. Turkish MIT helped al Qaeda brew up some Sarin with which they bombarded a neighborhood in East Ghouta.

                The drums for war were beating. Obama was ready to start attacking the Syrian air force as well air defenses and government complexes. timely intervention by sane elements of the intelligence community (including Flynn) stating that the attack could not have been done by the government, despite armchair defense experts at bellingcat’s amateur google maps protractor trajectory plottings, and Putin’s offer to jointly supervise the destruction of Syria’s CW stockpile (something that Israel hated because it meant they couldn’t attack Syria with impunity). This proposal was accepted.

                A UN inspection team later investigated the site and found that the Sarin did not match Syrian or any government quality sarin. This was mentioned in passing and today is ignored completely.

                The American people were strongly against intervention in Syria, and congress was too. Drums of war stopped beating, just tow missiles and MLRS resupply for the jihadists, no air support.

                Despite all this, John Kerry was tugging Obama’s sleeve, begging to use cruise missiles against the government as it fought Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jaysh al Fateh, and a billion other groups on several fronts. In the huge Obama profile, you get the impression that Obama saw the futility of it all, but being the canny imperial executive kept letting the CIA and DoD play their reindeer games, CIA arming jihadists and DoD drawing up new Kurdistan.

                What changed everything was the Syrian army’s recent successes. That’s why we airlifted green berets and ypg to cut the short road to Raqqah. That’s why Donald Trump attacked the airbase used to attack ISIS. Because they want to delay Syrian attempts to reclaim their territory so that they can carve out a Kurdish puppet state and a lawless sunnistan that will be like nectar to jihadis and a constant justification for either intervention in Syria or a place to funnel weapons to wear down the Syrian military.

                In short, Donald Trump is weak, he’s a very weak man. He’s a very overweight man who may have trouble sleeping at night. He destroyed 9 jets used to bomb ISIS. Yet he pledged to defeat ISIS. Confusing huh. Apologies for the length of this post.

            2. Foppe

              Ok, lemme rephrase: I think it exceedingly likely that the truth will come out, at least ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. What I do not think is that the media will platform said truth, and keep hitting that nail until it’s stuck. And I think that because of the latter, nothing will be done with it.

              1. MoiAussie

                We’re on the same page. But the MSM eventually accepted the absence of WMDs in Iraq. And the narrative is visibly unravelling, e.g here. Other insiders are threatening to go public. They may struggle to be heard, sure, but the temptation to beat up the Trompe over this may be irresistible.

              2. fresno dan

                April 7, 2017 at 9:20 am

                I think there is an interesting dynamic here that goes to the “the media takes Trump literally but not seriously….” meme.
                The US “inadvertently” (if you don’t understand that bombs hit innocent people despite the advertising, you don’t understand bombs) bombs civilians all the time in the mideast. Antiseptic excuses are made and accepted by the media for US military errors all the time (the US heart’s in the right place – we didn’t intend to).

                If this had happened under Obama, and it was revealed to be an error, a great deal of Washington speak would be expended by the media exculpating the US error and how bad Syria is, and gosh good intelligence is just SO hard…..and we were trying to HELP those poor Syrians.

                But Trump’s 6 year old like inability to own up to mistakes MAY take this someplace much, much different. The “NATIONAL SECURITY” meme of supposed absolute maturity, responsibility and seriousness (I don’t agree with the propaganda that we are so mature and responsible, but it is our myth) may be the fulcrum that is used by a coalition of neocons/neoliberals to get rid of the Donald. I can see the rationale that use of the American military demands the HIGHEST INTEGRITY and UNDERSTANDING OF REALITY, and Trumps juvenile inability to admit error (albeit in the insincere apology form of not actually changing any US policy behavior) will be blown up to a grave danger (any port in a storm). The argument will be lying about inauguration crowds is annoying, lying about national defense could lead to nuclear war (the fact that those making the argument would do things in Syria that enhances conflict with Russia is irrelevant to USING the argument).

                Trump is rather quickly morphing into Jeb! – the question is, can Trump overcome his own quirky personality traits to save himself?

                1. wilroncanada

                  Apparently the US “inadvertently” killed about 300 more civilians in Mosul in the last couple of days, while eyes were focused on that dastardly Assad. One military spokesperson said they were investigating to see if they really did it.

            3. NotTimothyGeithner

              Trump trashed Jeb Bush in South Carolina for a reason. The pro-military vote that was breathlessly predicted to go to Jeb went to Trump.

              Versailles is rotten, but the population is angry. Neither the Democrats or Republicans have nostalgia figures to hide behind anymore.

              Given the real state of the economy. Watch out. This irregardless of what future evidence determines.

            4. fresno dan

              April 7, 2017 at 8:48 am

              “….what people here think the US would do if somehow it was proved that Assad wasn’t the guilty party.”

              Well, just exactly what we did when Iraq WMD weapons were found NOT TO EXIST:
              1. The president and his cabinet apologize profusely
              2. Congress accepts the apology, but notes this does not preclude legal responsibility, and impeached the president, and orders the US justice department to investigate sundry higher ups for lying, incompetence, and dereliction of duty
              3. The UN votes to censure the US, and international law is drafted that the US cannot intervene militarily anywhere without first getting UN permission
              4. With the total withdrawal of US troops and assets from Iraq, Osama bin Laden is found in a few days. The US withdraws from Afghanistan
              5. With all the money not spent in Iraq, there is more money than we know what to do with. Still, universal healthcare is not instituted, cause that would be socialism.
              6. With Iraq strengthened, Iran is dangerously weakened, completely throwing the mid east out of our 11th dimensional chess determined optimal balance, so we find it necessary to increase defense spending by 100%

              Wha?!??!!! That didn’t happen after WMD WASN”T found in Iraq? What kind of irresponsible, non accountability country is this???

          2. sid_finster

            I am not a Marxist-Leninist, but Marx and V.I. Lenin had the answer to that question.

            Disrupt and destroy the economic base, and the narrative will change.

      2. oho

        Throw in US intervention into World War I, 100 years ago yesterday—ostensibly to avenge the Lusitania and yellow journalism German war crimes against occupied Belgium.

        Anglo-American elites wanted to join the fray. German and non-Anglophile Americans wanted to stay on the sidelines.

        1. ratefink

          “You get me the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”

          Geez, I think we’ve invented a new parlor game!

          1. fresno dan

            April 7, 2017 at 8:36 am

            The more things change, the more they stay the same….

    2. olga

      This – Donald Trump Is An International Law Breaker by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis – gets pretty close to the truth. Another false flag attack, another attack on an innocent country – round and round we go… until US becomes bankrupt.

      1. pretzelattack

        or gets blown apart. i start my life ducking and covering, looks like a circle. wouldn’t have worked then, won’t work now.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Eh, don’t give them ideas. All this skepticism about the iniquity of our enemies may require another “unifying event” so our leaders can make solemn patriotic speeches amid the carnage. U-S-f**kin-A.

      2. Dogstar

        My vote for Jill Stein looks smarter and smarter every day. Supporting Trump over a 3rd party candidate because the “greens aren’t a viable party” is such bad logic that it makes one question the motives of the person/websites that were spewing such tripe. Absolute horse pucky.

          1. Clive Staples

            So, you were that other person in AZ that voted for her! (And, I thought I was the only one.). Maybe the East Valley will secede from the rest of the AZ, form some kind of odd union with their brethren in the backward state to the north of us, and then we could make some progress here?

        1. Marina Bart

          I’m a little confused by this attitude, in relation to this issue.

          By voting for Stein, you facilitated Trump’s election. I respect your choice (my husband and daughter made the same choice; I voted for Bernie), but that’s functionally what you did. The ruling class wanted Hillary, and everybody who got in the way by either switching parties or staying home in certain demographics in certain states were all facilitating the only alternative allowed in the system: Hillary’s intended punching bag, Trump.

          If through some bizarre miracle, Stein had won, she would have been even less able than Trump to fight back against the coup. All this and possibly much more would already be happening. Stein might be doing things to highlight that it’s a coup by martyring herself to one degree or another, but she would be even less able to than Trump to slow the war train down.

          I respect all third party voters. No one in my family voted for Clinton or Trump. But we also voted in New York and California, where our votes didn’t really matter. I would have respected your vote for Stein in November, and I respect it now.

          But it’s more clear than ever that we need to think much, much bigger than “vote third party for president” if we want to stop the warmongering and brutal exploitation. Voting Green, by itself, won’t stop this.

          I am as content today as I was on Election Day that I voted for Bernie legally. I would have voted for the leftist Peace and Freedom Party candidate otherwise. But I am not looking at this soft coup and feeling smug about how my hands are untainted. Instead, I am even more filled with both dread and determination. We have to find a way to change this abhorrent system, as peacefully as possible. Some days, I think I see that path. Other days, it seems shrouded in smoke and gas. But this will clearly be no easy journey.

          1. Vatch

            In some states it is impossible to vote for a write-in candidate unless that candidate has registered with the election authorities in advance. People in those jurisdictions could not vote for Bernie Sanders in the general election. Their only alternatives to Trump and Clinton were third parties, a blank ballot, or staying home.

            1. Marina Bart

              I know. My point was that everybody who did not vote for Hillary Clinton — regardless of whether they voted for Trump, voted third party, voted legal write-in, voted illegal/uncountable write-in, or stayed home, was on the functional same side: in practice “Not Hillary Clinton” = Donald Trump.

              I recognize that there were different additional benefits depending on which “Not Hillary Clinton” choice you made, and I respect those that chose third party.

              But I don’t get coming here today and spending time saying, “Voting Jill Stein was smarter than voting Donald Trump.” Both choices led to the same outcome: stopping Hillary Clinton, and making it clearer to those who didn’t yet understand that we only have one ruling party, that is dedicated to neoliberalism and neoconservatism, to achieve the united goal of using the American military to protect globalized, financialized, optimized capitalism.

              Jill didn’t get matching funds. The Greens don’t seem to have gotten significantly stronger as a national party. Again, the rest of my family voted for her. This is not an attack on those voters, that party, or that candidate.

              But now is not the time to congratulate yourself for voting against Hillary Clinton, however you did it. The “my hands are cleaner” argument is of limited value. It plays into the concept of voting as a private act of personal expression. If you want to view your vote that way, that’s your business. But if you do nothing except vote third party on election day, you are not doing much more to help than any other non-Team Red/Team Blue voter.

              Voting, whoever you vote for, accomplishes very little by itself. We have enormous work to do. I just think it’s a waste of energy to focus on how your vote was the most morally pure choice. Voting alone isn’t going to fix any of this. We need to work, and we probably need to forge alliances of various kinds with people who don’t make as morally pure choices. We have all been propagandized to view our private choices as paramount, to keep us from forging broad, effective alliances against the ruling class.

              We need to prioritize making those alliances. That’s my point.

              1. Vatch

                But now is not the time to congratulate yourself for voting against Hillary Clinton, however you did it. The “my hands are cleaner” argument is of limited value.

                I agree. The election is over. If Clinton had won, we would now have to try to prevent her from doing bad things. Since Trump won, we need to prevent him from doing bad things. So far, our success has been limited. Blocking the TPP is one of the few positives of the current administration.

                Voting, whoever you vote for, accomplishes very little by itself.

                Well yes, in the Presidential election, a person’s vote is heavily diluted, and then there’s the Electoral College. I believe that voting in lower level elections is important, though, especially primary elections. In non-Presidential elections, one’s vote is less diluted.

      3. tgs

        4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative

        Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there.

        Even if they tried to go public, I doubt any mainstream outlet would publish. The MSM has been longing for someone to do something about Assad.

        1. Pavel

          I listened to Scott Horton interview Philip Girardi yesterday. That podcast (about 15 mins) is highly recommended. Girardi sounded genuinely scared.

          I woke up this morning to find photos of Bill Kristol’s face beaming over this latest episode of “Neocon Endless War” and praising Trump. As did the NYT Editorial board. What a frigging world.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Is there an independent world out there, is the world what we perceive it to be?

          It can be both, I guess.

          And when our sensory organs are not reliable, we start to doubt the world we perceive in the brain.

          Nothing matters until we get our smelling back, our hearing back, etc.

          Till then, ‘they’ will create the world for us, and we, predictably, will react the way ‘they’ want us to react, except for those who doubt what they hear, what they see or read.

        3. olga

          Lordy, we’re in a doodoo-load of trouble when only a whistle-blower/leaker can save us…
          I hope one or more come out of the woodwork… The trouble is that no “serious” media will publish such revelations… not now.

      4. Jeremy Grimm

        “Whatever hope I had that Donald Trump would be a new kind of President, that hope is extinguished.” That sentence says it all.

        At the onset of the Trump presidency we knew he would bring a new extreme level of predation by the 0.01% on the wealth and lives of the rest of us. But there was a small hope Trump might focus his attentions and the damage within our borders — might pull back our overextended military forces. Now even that small hope proves a self-delusion.

    3. m

      US special forces are in the Raqqa area supporting moderates? & fighting ISIS?. They won’t allow the real Syrian army to advance into the area to fight terrorists. Turkey is encroaching from the north. I guess they are continuing their plan and could care less, they will just show more dead babies on ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN. The white helmets will make a new documentary.
      Look at what happened last time. Ignore & continue as usual, hope citizens forget our government lied to us again.

  4. olga

    We are the war on terror, and the war on terror is us Thanassis Cambanis
    The article is excellent and all too accurate – with just one problem. When the author calls “to restore the balance” – what balance is he talking about? Unfortunately, violence is in the US DNA – genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, and then international wars. This is not a country that is good at “doing peace” – particularly now – being ruled by MIC has its consequences.

    1. DJG

      I think that the article by Thanassis Cambanis is today’s “must.” I recommend it because he mentions that the eternal war has now come home.

      “Restore the balance”: I think that he means that the U.S. should restore the rule of law. That’s a tall order. I recall that Chris Hedges commented that an irony of Occupy Wall Street is that its central demand is the restoration of the rule of law: Charge the bankers with their crimes.

      In short, the balance is to return to the rule of law and of accountability from our current deathly policies of plausible deniability and imperial overreach.

      1. Eureka Springs

        How does a society establish rule of law when there are so many secrets, so many lies?

        1. Jim Haygood

          The Founders had an answer to that — a violent one.

          That manifesto they scribbled on 4 July 1776 really needs to be repudiated. /sarc

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some possibilities:

          1. Never…that society gradually disintegrates.
          2. the bad guys experiencing enlightenment somehow…luck for the society is essential here.
          3. a malevolent dictator cuts through the chaos to bring order and dynasty for his family.
          4. a benevolent, elected or otherwise, dictator who, upon completion of mission, retires to Cincinnati.
          5. a strong leader appointed democratically to bring about the rule of law, by declaring a state of emergency and suspending some liberties, and then retires


            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              #3 is more like a nightmare though.

              So is #1.

              What dreams or nightmares do others have?

    2. Expat

      This is a very good point. American Exceptionalism seems to be that Americans are exceptionally violent. We revel in violence and weapons. It is part of our national heritage and woven tightly into our culture. The notion that America, whatever the Constitution might have to say, is a peaceful, Christian nation is a joke unless by Christian you really mean Old Testament Jew, in which case America is indeed biblical!

      Americans are typically ignorant and cloistered. They can’t find places like Syria or North Korea on a map and have clue about the effects of American intervention, invasion, and occupation around the globe. Consequently, they don’t understand the justifiable retaliation by those we so flippantly label “terrorists”.

      America talks about World Peace. America really wants the world in pieces.

      1. crittermom

        “America talks about World Peace. America really wants the world in pieces.”

        Well put, but I don’t believe it’s the American citizens who want the world in pieces.
        Sadly, it seems to be coming from those who are supposed to represent us. You know, our ‘chosen’ leaders. (Given our ‘choices’, which were ridiculous, from either party)

        1. olga

          The willful ignorance of the US public results in complicity – if not outright support. A’mrikans have no excuse. None… If the world blows up – they can only blame themselves. They/we revel in the prosperity and never think about the costs… Being isolated from most of the world allows the illusion to go on… until the final bang.

      2. mpalomar

        “They can’t find places like Syria or North Korea on a map and have clue about the effects of American intervention, invasion, and occupation around the globe. ”

        -Just read this one over at CP, attribution Ambrose Bierce, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

  5. RabidGandhi

    Re: Why workers don’t always take family or medical leave when they need to

    No, the no. 1 reason why workers do not take time off is actually because in the US there is no collectively bargained national law forcing employers to grant family/medical leave, as there is in First World Countries.

  6. Darius

    Trump’s heart bleeds for the people in in Syria. How about the tens of thousands killed in Yemen by Our Freedom Loving Friends in Saudi Arabia? With our material support. What’s a double tap attack among friends?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Or Flint.

      The hypocrisy is obvious and damning. It’s important your Congress critters here from you. The media is having a collective orgasm, but strikes were unpopular during game the last false flag. There hasn’t been much in the way of polls.

      I scanned formerl pro Trump sites last night. They aren’t happy.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Take Steve Bannon off the national security council and look what happens. Put him back on fast before those crazy fuckers set the rest of the world on fire.

        1. Carolinian

          He and Jared don’t get along.

          Apparently Bannon always said he would be gone by summer so that seems the most likely scenario. The Pence faction is clearly in the ascendant and while that outcome may have always been in the cards it has had lots of help from the relentless press pounding. The folks at Pravda on the Potomac are undoubtedly pleased with themselves.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Pence faction…

            It seems you can’t go into the Swamp, as an outsider, unless you have on your own team people who know the Swamp well.

            Say Bernie gets in, and he wants to reform the CIA. He would need someone who knows the game, and can overcome internal resistance. How likely is that when you take on the entire IC/MIC establishment and the media?

            That’s the same problem Trump faces (or faced). Too bad Sanders didn’t realize that and forged an alliance.

    2. optimader

      Trump needs to provide an explanation why we need to be aggressing in Syria after he was calling BHO on it.

      The new media in the press corp need to go after him on this until he explains his position re: USA World Police.

    1. Vatch

      Yes, Putin’s election as Russian president was based on a series of false flag attacks that killed hundreds of Russians. We’ll probably never know who blew up those apartment buildings, but the FSB (successor to the KGB) is the likely candidate. The United States isn’t the only country with a fraudulent and murderous government. Other countries have “deep states”, too.

      1. optimader

        Hey once KGB always KGB.. Imagine if we elected an ex-CIA Director POTUS ..oh wait.. hahaha..

        1. Vatch

          There is a chance that Putin was not aware of the plans for the bombings in advance. The situation might have been a bit like story of the English King Henry II and his frustration with Thomas a Becket: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”, which was misinterpreted by some knights as a command to murder Becket. Whatever may have happened, there was likely rejoicing within the FSB when one of their own became President.

      2. olga

        Sorry – but your comment is truly ignorant.
        Just rehashing some neocon demonisation talking points.
        Series of … that killed …
        Do you even know what you’re talking about?

          1. Yves Smith

            Wikipedia is not reliable. Don Quijiones had to do a significant rewrite of a recent story on Italian banks because Wikipedia had the retirement age in Italy egregiously wrong. It also has the orthodox austerian story on macroeconomics (loanable funds theory) and does not even acknowledge that it has been challenged, let alone debunked (in part by Keynes, the unfinished bits by Kaldor).

            Regarding geopolitics, Wikipedia does not deviate from neocon orthodoxy regarding Russia. See this from Mark Ames:

            My page is constantly edited by people out to smear me. I dont even look because I know they dont let you fix it without dedicating your life and nerves to fighting the corrupt opaque editing structure.

            On apartment bombings I used to believe it was Yeltsin & Putin job, but in the years since I think it’s anyone’s guess. Put it this way: the leading liberal Russian investigative journalist, Andrei Soldatov–favorite of all the Putin haters (generally good though)–argues in his book on the FSB “The New Nobility” that it’s a bullshit conspiracy theory, not true, no serious evidence. Unless commenter thinks they know more than Soldatov or that he’s not credible…

            And from John Helmer:

            I’ve been the target myself of placements in the Wikpedia profile of me. They were all paid for by the Russian aluminium/Deripaska organization (after he became friends with Manafort), and they were designed to mislead reporters investigating the assassination attempt Deripaska’s men admitted to at the police station. It took months and quite a lot of money to remove the trash, but nowadays I simply ignore what is put there.

            If you go to the wiki edit log for the links, you can see how busy someone has been lately: That’s to say, someone is paying for this stuff to appear in this way.

            1. Vatch

              Thanks for the reference to Soldatov’s book. It can be very difficult determining what is true. Whether or not the FSB was behind the bombings, they certainly made themselves appear culpable with their heavy handed investigation and apparent cover-up. Such clumsiness is reminiscent of the behavior of United States deep-staters as well.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Oh, I think Naomi Klein “gets it” very well. Nothing like a crisis, real, created, or perceived, to consolidate power and silence your critics…..

        1. bob

          And getting PAID….by pierre, who holds as a core personal belief that profit = good.

          How’s he profiting off her?

  7. oho

    Old school White House comments switchboard, 202-456-1111, is down.

    presumably flooded by betrayed Trump supporters + anti-war Left who aren’t Hillbots. there was a call among the Trump Train to phone in their displeasure.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m not sure the Hillary voters are beyond being useful.

      There are many Team Blue types who will dump Hillary now she is gone and will revert to their original programming against the GOP. Supreme Court voters and so forth are all potential allies.

      The Clintonistas and wannabes are not useful, but I know plenty of Democrats who would applaud Hillary’s mindless blather but will scream and curse if it was said by a Republican.

    2. Pavel

      Out of interest I went over to the Breitbart site to see the reaction there. Lots of outraged and angry comments about “betrayal”.

      1. m

        Comments at other “alt right” site info wars same thing, giving up on trump. Believe chem attack was false flag

  8. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Prescribing Crisis Jacobin. And Jacobin’s headline adopts the same frame.

    I get completely the framing argument.

    But, as a practical matter, ending this rampant over-prescribing asap would, at the very least, staunch the flood of newly minted addictions. Am I wrong in thinking that the fda could just require that these opioids only be used in hospital settings as is done in the UK? No more Rx’s written in private offices and filled at the corner cvs.

    Then you could take on the pharma owned and operated “lawmakers.” It would be interesting to see who defends americans’ god-given right to commit suicide through addiction, and pay pharma for the privilege.

    1. diptherio

      I think it will take much more than firmer restrictions on prescribing. The underlying problem is despair and a deeply felt lack of meaning. Just like trying to restrict recreational drugs has failed, utterly, to end drug problems in this country, so too clamping down on prescriptions without any attempts at solving the underlying problems will only lead people to find other ways to slowly (or quickly) kill themselves. My two centavos.

      1. Carolinian

        The opioid problem is an important social indicator but it’s not as though the country hasn’t always been addicted to something. In the 19th century we were tremendous drunks, and that was the impetus for the lefties of the time to favor prohibition. Like you say the drugs are just the symptom, not the disease, which is why prohibition didn’t work.

        1. optimader

          In the 19th century we were tremendous drunks

          Yes indeed, but there was a practical reason, it was that or die of typhus or similar. Pick your poison. My choice would have been a nice lager with my pickled eggs, pigs knuckles and corned beef hash sandwich on rye..

          Which leads me to The Jungle
          I was left with two impressions from reading The Jungle when I was in high school.

          1.) The description of the Brutal short lives in the employ of the Armors and Swifts was poignant;

          2.) The description of the free lunches that came with the purchase of beer at the taverns around the Stockyards sounded fantastic to me.

          On that subject.. lurking properties in Chicago:

          Attention builders, restorers!! The Swift mansion! This 10,218 sf mansion is a 3 story building, plus 2,400 sf coach house W/Georgian marble ext, hand carved oak int, w/ carriage side drive. It includes a 1500 sf ballroom, a short order chef’s kitchen, 27 rooms and 5 baths. Lower level, also a 2400 sf 2 story coach house. Historic Landmark site.

          This would have been in the prevailing wing of the Chicago Stockyards at the time!


          1. Carolinian

            Ah yes Chicago and its, er, colorful history.

            Ken Burns talked quite a lot about 19th century boozing in his Prohibition series. Obviously the women mostly didn’t spend all their time in the bars–just got beaten up when their drunken husbands came home.

            1. optimader

              My grandfather (Irish) would regularly be called to the upstairs flat to wrestle the revolver away from my grandmothers sister’s husband when he got home (the ubiquitous drunk Chicago Irish Thug Beat Cop).

              Things are FUBAR now, but they were far more extreme then, just and fewer people. and w/o our present invasive level of technology

              Actually, the brains of that side of the family was my grandfathers Aunt who operated a boardinghouse/tavern. That is the abode that sustained my GD’s family when his father was killed in a rail yard coupling accident.

              At that time there was no such thing as insurance death benefits/Social security.

              If the urban family head of household got taken out, widows and children were well and truly fckd.

              About the only safety net in Chicago at the time was Catholic Charities which operated orphanages, no doubt were their own version of hard living but if a child was lucky they could come out the other end.
              Hard times back then

      2. kgw

        Has anyone ever been in pain? Jesus H. Christ would have a hard time getting a painkiller from the medical version of the WCTU!!

        1. JTMcPhee

          Yes, pain is a thing. Where I used to work, and still do very part-time, there are kind and careful docs, who treat people with acute and chronic conditions that often involve acute and chronic severe pain. Not some “owie” kind of pain, that if honestly rated would maybe be a 2 or three on the generally used 1-to-10 scale. But screaming pain, from back and other massive skeletal injuries, skull trauma, neuropathies, radiculopathies from compressed and inoperable spinal injuries and defects, phantom pain from severed limbs, and a bunch of other legitimate conditions.

          The docs are very wise and discerning about writing for opioids and the many substitutes that are now being heavily marketed, which substitutes are often just the “bad” molecules dressed up in formulations that are more difficult (but not impossible) to abuse. But they are constantly under threat of some over-zealous ‘crat going after them. They and the staff are good at detecting the drug seekers and fakers, and sending them packing.*

          But there’s a large patient population that, just to get back to pain levels where many of us would be crying from pain, need narcotics of the several sorts that are the current bêtes noire of the New Faux Puritans, so many of whom are fokking hypocrites. A lot of the people taking these medications, under proper supervision, subject to agreements with the practice not to share, divert or doctor-shop that are strictly enforced, also “lead productive lives” in professions and workaday jobs and are able to care for themselves and their families. And meet that neoliberal test of tests, “pay their taxes.” But all, of course, are tarred by the torch-and-pitchfork set, as beyond the pale.

          My mother died of ovarian cancer, widely metastasized. Morphine and dilaudid made her terminal period bearable, and let her be present for the rest of the family, rather than lost in a fog of pain. I have had surgeries where, without opioids, I would have suffered and healed worse or slower or not at all, due to the effects of pain-induced stress, and inability to sustain the rehab regimens. Amazing how people on the “left,” nominally claiming the moral high ground and so very empathic about stuff like LGBTQ rights and other forms of discrimination and oppression, would go so far as they have in focusing opprobrium on pretty much anyone who needs and uses pain relief in the form of opioids and related compounds. Yah, got to love the hypocrisy and misdirection…

          Yes, there’s abuse, and yes, the professional class contains a bunch of people who foster and profit from it — not to mention the pharma manufacturers who send out the “reps” in the low-cut, short-skirt getups to make “luncheon presentations” to the potential prescribers.

          And of course the corruption is all up and down the ladder and chain — Walgreens, e.g, got all careful and mean about filling pain scripts even for long-standing customers filling regular scripts from trusted doctors, but only after a nice revelation (complete with wrist-slap “enforcement) about a Walgreens (not to pick on just one, all the big chains have “outliers”) setup here in FL that was pushing inordinate amounts of oxys and hydrocodone and other pills out to stores that were operating quite a bit past the edge of legal.

          Pretty much all that religious new caution did was make life miserable for people who needed the help. That also gave the corp the opportunity to demand a lot of personally identifiable information on diagnoses and other medical details, to add to the customer files that they then sold to Big Data, despite HIPAA “protections” and such nominal constraints on circulating, and particularly profiting from, what is supposed to be carefully protected confidential medical information. It also turns out that, despite claims by the pharmacies that they took great care to protect that info locally, they did not even lock up their patient files, and had shitty security on their computer resources.

          And of course some of those pills and liquid formulations turn out to be counterfeit or adulterated, all for profit… Often from “Chinese” and other Asian sources, which of course are beyond deterrence and retribution and restitution, like the REAL drug problems, that pervert and debase entire populations and nations, and that start with supply chains originating in places like the poppy fields of Notagainistan.

          Forgive the rant, but once again, stupid and venal humans are focusing on the wrong wrongs, targeting the weak, whitewashing the real bad actors, and illustrating the human incapacity to manage real-world issues and problems and needs and challenges without perverting and twisting them, and causing unnecessary pain to millions of people with real medical needs.

          Because there’s money to be made, and people to be hurt who can’t defend themselves, and political contributions and regulatory captures to be arranged, and of course those mergers and acquisitions and stuff to gain from… And the suits who manage all this can sneer behind their hands at the mopes who buy street pills to self-medicate their way to an early death because of pains that are psychic as well as physical, and tell all of us that our remedy is “Go die.”

          Quite a species we’re born into, hey?

          *FL finally has a statewide record-keeping system that pharmacists are supposed to implement, to nominally track all narcotic prescriptions and spot abusers whether pill mills or individuals. That system was held up for several years to favor a particular corporate provider. The state already had a system to track the precursors (pseudoephedrine) to meth found in formerly over-the-counter cold meds, which could easily have been expanded to do the same job for lots less. I think it was Tennessee or Kentucky that even offered maybe $15 million to FL to implement that kind of oversight and control, since so much of the illicit opioid flow of “hillbilly heroin” (oxycontin, oxycodone and hydrocodone) that plagued TN and KY came from the Florida Pipeline. Gov Scott, as I recall, held up the current system, which is still sh!t-poorly designed and difficult to use (and there’s not much enforcement of pharmacy non-compliance that I have seen), back to favor a crony, as I recall.

        2. Yves Smith

          I hate to tell you but I haven’t seen anything like that. Dentists and oral surgeons hand Vicodin out like candy. You have to fight them not to take a scrip (and I have had tons of dental work, and the most I needed, aside from when I lost a clot after an extraction was ONCE needed to use one round of OTC painkiller after an extraction).

          NYC doctors seem to think their job is to hand out psychoactive meds on what they think are hints, when yours truly was not interested in anything like that. I suspect there are big time class issues at work.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Yet my NYC upper-class family member, who has horrible migraines due to a particular physiological problem not amenable to surgery, and has had serious dental work and a particularly painful major surgery, can’t get scripts for absolutely needed pain meds from the treating providers, or find a pharmacist willing in the current climate to fill the one she finally got, without great difficulty and being treated like dirt.

            Everyone experiences pain differently. My anecdote is that I have been walking around with bone-on-bone knee joints for nearly 50 years, but my tolerance for pain is very high. Very little recourse to pain meds, most of which are pretty ineffective for me, and several of which produce bad reactions. So I soldier on. Not everyone is so lucky /s.

            And I expect if there’s a class issue in prescribing narcotics where you live, it goes in favor of the privileged, who have insurance (though most carriers now are very niggardly with narcotics script authorizations) or the means to private-pay for some very expensive drugs. Also, NY mds and pharmacists prescribing and dispensing pain meds are subject to a lot of restrictions and scrutiny, much more than most other states. Of course, the whole narcotics system is rife with corruption and diversion and caters to people seeking pleasure or oblivion…

            Your mileage may vary, of course…

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Katniss, these people have access to what is apparently a burgeoning illicit market in heroin and fentanyl now. The Rx ship has sailed.

      Funny thing — in France we have very low heroin use compared to the UK and Italy, for example. I hope it stays that way. We have the same rules as the UK on opiates like oxycontin – hospital prescriptions only – and you never hear about people taking such things for “recreation” (ie a despair cure).

      What we do have is extremely high rates of cannabis use and very harsh legal penalties for use and sales. Too bad Hamon has no chance of winning and legalizing it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The French call cannabis a stupéfiant, a loaded term which, like its Schedule I [most dangerous] classification under US law, connotes an absence of any legitimate medical use.

        Never mind that a liter or two of vin rouge is quite an effective stupéfiant as well. :-(

      2. JustAnObserver

        The Wine Industrial Complex must be protected at all cost. Don’t want people replacing les vins-de-table with une spliff-de-table.

    3. jrs

      hmm I might defend people’s rights to pain relief. Yes of course addiction is undesirable. There are times (after medical procedures) where I have probably followed 20 ibuprofin with 20 tylenol. And even I’m not sure opiods wouldn’t be safer and that actually was short term pain. It was like on the one hand I might die from overdose of OTC pain killers OTH the pain, the pain! Just a few more ibuprofins won’t kill me .. probably. But things like kratum have stayed legal so there is that option.

  9. Jason Boxman

    On individual plans, my father’s insurance agency has been selling them under ObamaCare. UnitedHealth stopped paying commissions on the gold plans in Florida, before finally leaving the market. Insurers have been whacking commissions for the past 20 years, so it’s not entirely surprising. It requires a lot of time to signup someone for these plans, only to not get paid.

  10. DJG

    Squid, octopus, and cuttlefish: Yikes. I don’t eat much meat, but I do eat seafood. This article makes me feel more guilty than ever. There are many (most) members of Congress who are no intellectual competition to an octopus. (Maybe I’ll look at that cannibalism article, too.)

    A query to biologist / geneticist readers: Would the ability to edit and the reliance on RNA coding speed up the evolution of cephalopods? Or is it possible that their unique genes are some how on fast-forward because they are short-lived species that are highly intelligent? In short, they have evolved intelligence but they don’t live to be ten or fifteen years old like a dog. Is it the actions of their genes that have produced such mind-boggling adaptation? (Mind-boggling to this human, not to them.)

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I just watched the intro to the video you linked — put it on the list for this evening. Wow! Thanks!

    1. giantsquid

      Given that RNA editing is particularly enriched in the nervous systems of these cephalopods, I’d guess that it contributes to either neuronal diversity or to neuronal responses elicited by changes in the local environment or both, depending on how the editing process is regulated in these species, and likely makes a profound contribution to the behavioral complexity and adaptability that they exhibit. The high level of RNA editing would not directly result in these species evolving more rapidly since evolution depends upon changes (mutations) in the DNA that are passed on to offspring.

      1. DJG

        giantsquid: So they are born to learn and exquisitely attuned to their environment. Effect of being in water?

        1. giantsquid

          Putting aside for the moment the pollution generated humans that infringes upon their habitats, I’d say that all living things are well attuned to their environments, but perhaps certain species of cephalopod can better avoid or withstand unusual or extreme changes in local conditions than most.

          You might be interested in Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

          1. witters

            Still consider David Foster Walllace’s “Consider the Lobster” to be the key reading here.

    2. georgieboy2

      Evidently the RNA-editing capability comes at a cost: DNA-mutation conservatism.

      That suggests they can richly redecorate the house but can’t change the foundation or basic structure as much as other kinds of creatures. Else we might be paying rent to the Squidlord!

    3. wilroncanada

      The men–most of Congress–may not be intellectually at octopus level, but according to a lot of the women in their offices, they have at least as many arms.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are they going to let the Russians know, in advance, every move of the upcoming regime change, like last night? There are Russians on the ground over there. And the only way I can see, to get them out, right now, is through the UN, so the Russians would have to leave.

  11. sid_finster

    Next time you talk to a Trumper, get them to answer this:

    Why is the IC not to be believed when they claim Russia hacked our elections, but entirely to be trusted when investigating alleged chemical attacks in Syria?

    For the record: both sets of allegations are preposterous.

    1. oho

      Big chunk of the Trump Train is P.O.ed.

      Bigger than the “Left”‘s pushback v. Obama in Libya.

      1. Darius

        Was there any left pushback on Obama over anything. Most people left of center to lesser or greater extent were and still are taken in by the Obama personality cult.

        1. perpetualWAR

          I pushed back on Obama’s admin. I still blame him for the 8 years I’ve spent in court fighting the bank crooks. Had he made certain the homeowners succeeded, things would be mighty different today.

          How Obama changed me:
          I was a former middle class homeowner who voted straight Democrat. Today, I am an anarchist, who just formally unregistered to vote. And am making solid plans to undermine our government. How’s that for an 8 year change?

          1. Jim Haygood

            It’s like the joke about a hundred lawyers at the bottom of the sea: “a good start.” ;-)

          2. crittermom

            Boy, can I relate (as you know). I, too, blame Obummer and his admin for allowing my home to be stolen. I fully agree that things would be much different (better all around) had the laws been upheld against the crooks.

            I still wanna believe success is the best revenge, however, so continue to strive for that, despite the fact I’m now battling breast cancer, too. (Universe, if this is a test, haven’t I passed yet?)

            Our world seems to be spinning out of control with this latest bombing of Syria, and those in the Trump admin demanding the identity of someone tweeting distaste for him, threatening our right to free speech prior to the bombing, and much more.

            We the citizens seemed to have lost control of ‘our’ country a while ago.
            I want my country back, dammit! I’m mad! (and now curious about your plan?)

            1. JTMcPhee

              Prayers and good wishes to you, cm, always. May the Goddess hear your troubles and lift you up…

  12. DH

    Asymmetrical warfare:

    I assume that we will need to spend hundreds of billions on a new radar and missile system designed to detect and defeat drones attacking our radar missile systems. Meanwhile, we can’t supply oxygen to our Navy pilots.

    We need to do more military thinking and less military spending. The next war is always different than the last war. The side that figures out that puzzle is often the winner. Our complicated expensive systems are getting defeated by people tinkering in their garage on many fronts.

    1. RWood

      Yuh. War is fractal. And thank you for the link to Thanassis Cambanis, who looks back to Dr. King’s most potent address to this benighted nation’s leadership. Sad.

    1. Propertius

      I note that my soi disant Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet (D-Comcast) has not co-sponsored.

  13. LT

    Re: “Donald Trump is An International Lawbreaker…”

    This article speculates that Trump could be impeached for the attack on Syria.
    I find it hard to believe the President of the War Culture will be impeached for any military aggression.
    It’s not the kind of precedent the War Culture is ready to set.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      He won’t be, but it will make Democrats squirm. Rep. Barbara Lee has called it an impeach able offense. Given the lack of support for Syrian air strikes the last false flag, Versailles might find out they were more out of touch than previously thought.

      Given the state of Democratic partisans, Democrat elites will have a hard time navigating between their natural thuggish instincts and the reaction of their voters who hate Trump.

      The Democratic marks who convinced themselves Hillary was experienced aren’t rationale. Trump is inherently bad in their book. They won’t rationalize his behavior the way they did for Obama and Hillary.

  14. Deschain

    If we’re in the business of tomahawking folks who use chemicals to commit mass murder, why are the opioid maker’s HQ still standing?

    1. oho

      opiod makers (and others—eg Saudis/Gulf states) have better lobbyists and hire ex-DC folks and their friends/family

  15. Alex Morfesis

    Don trumpioni had to bounce the really bad jobs # off the front page…film at 11…

    the new king…same as the old king…

    onto to 2018…

  16. fresno dan

    Trump’s Syria strikes divide Congress — but not along partisan lines Politico. Pelosi: “The crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes.” Schumer: “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do.”

    The partial Pelosi quote is misleading:
    Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons,” Pelosi said, but added, “The crisis in Syria will not be resolved by one night of airstrikes.”

    Yeah, there is not any isolationists or pacifists in the US congress. The plain truth is that we are in a quagmire, except unlike Vietnam, lessons were learned….on how to manufacture consent.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I can’t wait until Pelosi’s next town hall.

      “I’ve been fighting for peace longer than you’ve been alive! When everyone is dead, we will have peace.”

      1. human

        There’s the whole problem in a nutshell. You don’t “fight for peace,” “fight for justice,” “fight for freedom.” You just DO them. No more rhetoric. Put down the weapons. Instruct the Attorney Generals. Legislate for villages, cities, counties, states.

    1. Vatch

      If Thompson wins, it won’t be due to the DCCC or the DNC. It will be the result of hard work by local campaigners and a lot of $27.00 donations by supporters. It will be great to have another Democrat in the House who doesn’t owe anything to the establishment drones and their billionaire owners.

    2. crittermom

      flora: “Where’s the DCCC’s counter?”
      Nonexistent, and keeping that money far away from any candidates that may support any of Bernie’s views?
      Am I wrong in thinking that the Dems now only support those Dems who match Hillary’s visions (and those of the 1%), willing to lose to the Repubs otherwise while blaming it on the voters?
      The Dems would rather lose than show any support for someone ‘not of their choosing’, IMO.

      Sorry, but I lost all respect for the Dems during the last primaries and their actions following.
      Now that I’ve been exposed to a candidate (Bernie) who really does represent my beliefs, I find the Dems (in addition to Repubs) disgusting, and really being of only one party–that of the financially wealthy.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Pentagon: Russia alerted in advance of Syria strike The Week. Word of the day: “Deconfliction.”

    Eyewitness says Syrian military anticipated U.S. raid ABC

    The Russians were told.

    They would have passed the information to the Syrians.

    Was the whole thing just a show?

    1. MoiAussie

      Yes. Tillerson was previously quoted as denying any contact with Russia prior to the attack, but it seems what he actually meant is merely that neither he nor Trompe phoned Putin.

      The Turks organised and talked up the “sarin attack”. US Intel knew it was faked. The strike went ahead for political reasons, and to support “our friends” in Syria. Rebels launched multiple attacks in the aftermath.

  18. LT

    I just read about Brian Williams’ commentary on MSNBC. What kind of sick rat is that?
    This is your brain on war.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons,’” Brian Williams said during an interview with U.S. intelligence expert Malcolm Nance.

      Leonard Cohen:

      I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons
      First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

      It takes a well-coiffed, pearly-toothed, deracinated dipsh*t like Williams not to get that Cohen was employing over the top irony.

      Watching MSNBC is equivalent to a 15 point IQ reduction. Kill your TV.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Just got through reading Hillary’s explanation of why she lost, over at MSN dot com.

      I looked at four pages of comments before becoming bored, 100% negative, many obscenely negative.

      She really is incorrigible, and insufferable, besides being deplorable.

      1. Vatch

        As an afterthought, she says this:

        About her own role, she said, “There were things I could have done better.”

        No kidding. Like her corrupt family foundation, her votes in the Senate for the Iraq war, for the Patriot Act, against the interests of debtors in a bad bankruptcy bill, her support for the TPP (until Sanders forced her to pretend that she opposed it). A lot could be added to the list, such as calling millions of voters “deplorables”, her support for fracking, and her disdain for environmentalists, who have little choice in elections, because the Republicans are so uniformly bad on environmental issues.

        Oh yeah, let’s not forget those Wall Street speeches:

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Extraterrestrial Origin Of Fast Radio Burst — Reading that link recalled to me memory of a favorite SciFi short story — “Cryptic” by Jack McDevitt.

    1. Vatch

      I enjoy McDevitt’s Alex Benedict / Chase Kolpath novels, so I’ll have to look for the story “Cryptic”. Thanks, Jeremy.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thank you! — I’ve never read McDevitt’s Alex Benedict / Chase Kolpath novels, so I’ll have to look for them.

        Cryptic was included in an old anthology of McDevitt short stories — “Standard Candles” [none of the rest of the stories grabbed me much]. It may be available in a later anthology — not sure.

        1. Vatch

          A Talent for War is the first novel in the series. Some people are put off by all the historical references to ancient Greece, but I rather enjoyed the history. Because of this issue that some people have, I’ve seen the recommendation that readers start with the third book in the series, Seeker.

          At this web page, Kristine Kathryn Rusch says:

          My current favorites are Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series (start with Seeker)…

          But historical enthusiasts should have no problem with _A Talent for War_.

        2. Vatch

          Hah! I just noticed that a lot of Jack McDevitt’s books are copyrighted by Cryptic, Inc.!

  20. Tom

    Spring clearance! Old missiles cleared off the shelf, new missiles coming soon. No target too low!

    This attack suggests three scenarios to me:
    Trump and ChinXi agreed that if we took out Syrian airfields, then the Chinese would take care of North Korea?
    Or, maybe it’s missile rattling to let the NorKors know that we mean business?
    Or finally, just a warm up before we actually use the last of those stale old missiles on the Norkors nuclear facilities?

    We’re long defense stocks. Trump said he’d bring back American manufacturing.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What is the Chinese rationale? They don’t want a North Korean conflict of any sort. Two, again, I can not stress this enough all government to rule by the consent of the governed. How does a deal with a wreck less imperial power look on the Chinese street? Putin is very popular there. Obama’s pivot to Asia wasn’t lost on the Chinese public. They have a recent history of Western aggression. Xi would be nuts to do this especially since his whole schtick is Eurasian cooperation. Leaving an ally to U.S. predation doesn’t make much sense.

      Trump’s master plans are about as likely to exist as Obama’s 11th dimensional chess game.

    2. m

      Trying to find any info about Chinese & bombings-got link to article & from comments people think it was very rude that trump did this while he visited

  21. Cat Burglar

    The Guardian photograph of the “small blackened crater”, the purported impact site of the nerve gas-bearing missile — so that’s it? Can the tiny-looking missile-like remnants in the photo account for a wide enough dispersion of gas to kill and injure that many people, and supply the white clouds that spread over the area (and are implied to be gas clouds)? The crater and projectile remains look pretty dubious as a source, even though nerve gas is toxic in even tiny amounts. Nice that somebody had a sign in English to mark the crater.

    1. Yves Smith

      It wasn’t sarin. See this comment on another post:

      April 7, 2017 at 10:10 am
      As for sarin, one of the comments at MoA claims as follows.

      This best way to see immediately that the victims have not died from sarin intoxication is that in almost every case their skin is red/pink. Sarin turns people blue — always. Sarin makes people puke on themselves, urinate on themselves, shit themselves. Show me the evidence of sarin. Scores and scores of “sarin victims,” not a single one has the constellation of symptoms produced by sarin. Not a single one.

      The red/pink color of the victims in the vids suggests the people were executed with cyanide or carbon monoxide, which, in turn, suggests these scenes are staged after the executions. The evidence for KS is just now being collected. The evidence for Ghouta is very, very strong: those people were gassed by the terrorists using, probably, CO.

      Please quit spreading the lie that these are sarin victims and sarin attacks…

      My PhD is in pharmacology, specializing in neuropharmacology, University of Virginia. My postdoc was at Harvard in neurosciences. I am a lawyer. I know bullshit when I smell it. This sarin bullshit has to stop.

  22. fresno dan

    For those interested in the ongoing saga of the Fresno mermaid. And for those who asked, no, she is not related….I have tentacles and am saltwater, she has webtoes and is freshwater….

    she was found close to a casino – which may be why she lost her shirt…and pants
    (NOTE: the casino mentioned in the article, has the Fresno police and sheriff’s office, as well as a number of other public officials, giving a “happy birthday” to it in TV ads for its 30 years (or is it ?20?) years of “public service”.
    I guess I am prudish, but should police be extolling the virtues of casinos???
    Unfortunately, I can’t find a copy of the commercial on Youtube, but I really do think it is quite extraordinary.

  23. Susan the other

    LA Times on the virtues of Wall Street. In a different world maybe. What we need is a much, much smaller Wall Street. They have their fingers in everything from Pharma to War; weapons to food. They all lobby to preclude social spending because they all have their eyes on those potential profits; they all worm their way into big advantages for the private partners in public-private-partnerships; they all advocate and pursue socializing costs and privatizing profits. They are all scoundrels because that is how they survive. Even at the expense of the planet and starving people. Let’s change the way they survive by revitalizing social spending, nationalizing the Fed and the banks, creating Medicare for all; allowing the free market to be free in the correct definition; upholding labor and trade laws to the advantage of people, not Wall Street. God, I can’t believe the LA Times actually wrote that article. I for one would love to have a lifestyle bereft of all the godawful crappy “choices” that Wall Street has bestowed upon me.

  24. Kim Kaufman

    Re Syria – Here are some links I’ve been looking at:

    Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack

    Swedish Medical Associations Says White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos

    And a special shout-out to Saint Amy Goodman’s noxious Syria pro war reporting, including repeating White Helmet propaganda:

    All Hot Air as “Democracy Now” — Shilling for Greater Israel and Die-hard “Neo Cons”

    Lambert posted this two days ago: “”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.”

    I personally have become very disenchanted with the traditional “left” gatekeepers and Veterans Today is one of those alternate sites I check out. As to the CIA story, it comports with much else I have read about the CIA being the largest drug traffiker in the world. Only I would go back further to the end of WWII when the CIA used heroin to fund its off-the-books covert activities. See “Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance of the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia” by Paul L. Williams. Beyond the CIA, one could go back further to the cornering of the Chinese opium trade by some Skull & Bones east coast elites back in the 1920s.

    1. Portia

      I listened to that interview on DN with Sahloul, and it struck a strange note with me. not really balanced coverage with what else is available about that attack

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With any media outfit, is it ‘Brainwash me one, shame on them. Brainwash me twice, shame on me?”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Lambert posted this two days ago: “”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.”

      It is because of that doubt (too extreme to be taken as gospel) that when you lie, you have to lie big.

      1. Marina Bart

        I was thinking about this earlier today in relation to how most people don’t really accept how profoundly evil aristocratic culture is. If something is incomprehensibly evil, this helps it to perpetuate itself. It’s harder to fight something you don’t understand. So a system can actually make itself Too Evil To Be Seen, which is almost better than Too Big To Fail.

  25. Portia

    your way of life would not be possible without Wall Street

    that is said as if it’s a good thing…

  26. rich

    PEU Retail Implosions

    Buying affiliate debt on the cheap is a backdoor way to equity ownership post bankruptcy. The Carlyle Group undertook this very strategy with Brinton’s and Mrs. Fields.

    Turn over a struggling retailer today and one finds a PEU.

    Dividend milking by sponsors deteriorates the company’s balance sheet. This enables the PEU to buy back debt on the cheap and have hope of a future equity position for the company they managed into bankruptcy.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Cannibalism not so nutritious for early humans, study finds Japan Times

    You shoot animals and you eat them.

    Which part bothers the most?

    And when you kill animals just for fun, not for food, you don’t eat them, is it more bothersome?

    Moving on from animals to humans.

    The same two questions.

    You have cannibalism. You kill other humans and you eat them.

    Then you have health-care-allocation – some you let die (kill indirectly) though you don’t need them for food. Is that more morally repugnant than cannibalism?

    1. Portia

      most people do not have the luxury of deciding, they have a way of life forced upon them on threat of not surviving unless they take what’s readily available. usually convincing themselves along the way that it’s what they want

    2. optimader

      The risk of dining at the top of the food chain

      The term kuru derives from the Fore word kuria or guria (“to shake”),[1] due to the body tremors that are a classic symptom of the disease and kúru itself means “trembling”.[2] It is now widely accepted that kuru was transmitted among members of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea via funerary cannibalism. Deceased family members were traditionally cooked and eaten, which was thought to help free the spirit of the dead.[3] Females and children usually consumed the brain, the organ in which infectious prions were most concentrated, thus allowing for transmission of kuru. The disease was therefore more prevalent among women and children.

      …Kuru, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, is a disease of the nervous system that causes physiological and neurological effects which ultimately lead to death. It is characterized by progressive cerebellar ataxia, or loss of coordination and control over muscle movements.[6]

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One more reason to be a vegetarian.

        (Just don’t grow a mustache though and dream of being an artist).

  28. Oregoncharles

    My response to “Why Cops Shoot”:
    2 quotes, from the article:
    “And policing can be dangerous. In the same six years, 23 officers were killed in the state, according to the FDLE..”
    “Florida’s police shot 827 people in those six years, or about one every 2½ days. More than half — 434 — were fatal. Each year had about the same number of shootings, an average of 138.

    Nearly a fifth of the people shot — 156 — were unarmed; no gun, no knife, no vehicle. And half of those were black, in a state where blacks make up just 15 percent of the population. That means unarmed black people were nearly eight times as likely to be shot by police than whites.”

    Just look at the numbers. Quote #1 is hogwash. In reality, the POLICE are dangerous. Policing is less dangerous than driving a taxi or clerking at a convenience store.

    That said, the paper deserves enormous credit for actually finding out. Too bad the government that the police supposedly work for won’t do it.

    Why do police kill? Because they can, and get away with it.

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