Links 5/11/17

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Dear patient readers,

Your humble blogger is not feeling so hot, so I am giving you an extra cross post in lieu of an original post so I can turn in early.

Concrete, or beaches? World’s sand running out as global construction booms The Ecologist (micael)

Trump should stay in the Paris Agreement – but not at any cost The Ecologist (micael)

U.S. likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe: government officials Reuters

Researchers Find Gut Bacteria Can Trigger Brain Lesions That Lead to Strokes ScienceAlert

South Korea Election

Democrat Moon Jae-in wins South Korean presidential election WSWS (micael)

South Korea’s new president has a juggling act far beyond the norm Asia Times

Bajo la lupa Malas noticias para Trump: el nuevo presidente sudcoreano puede hacer la paz con Norcorea La Journada (micael)

Australian Bank Tax

Federal budget 2017: Who will bear the cost of the bank tax? ABC [Australia] (MoiAussie)

Here’s how the new $6 billion tax on the banks will work Business Insider (MoiAussie)

Russia sanctions to be extended, say EU diplomats Politico

Brussels rejects Trump’s criticism over EU trade surplus Politco

French Election

The New President Of France … Moon of Alabama (Darius). From earlier in the week, still germane.


Taking back control? Not unless you eat more fish Politico

European residence ruling runs against UK policy Financial Times

Cracks widen between chancellor and No 10 The Times

Don’t Go to the Doctor London Review of Books. Chris G: “UK ‘Prevent’ strategy – how to alienate whole communities and turn public professionals into snitches.”


No, the “New” CNN Video of the Chemical Incident Does NOT Prove that the Syrian Government Did It George Washington

Washington prepares to send up to 5,000 more troops into Afghanistan WSWS (martha r)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Intelligence leaker Chelsea Manning speaks out ahead of prison release Reuters

Comey Defenestration

READ: James Comey’s farewell letter to friends and agents CNN (martha r)

Republicans Close Ranks Behind Trump Bloomberg

Republicans rebuff call for new Trump-Russia probe Financial Times

Comey’s Firing Came as Investigators Stepped Up Russia Probe Wall Street Journal

Comey’s firing: Trump frustration finally boiled into action Associated Press (furzy). As we discussed yesterday, notice the role played by Sessions and Rosenstein.

Inside Trump’s anger and impatience — and his sudden decision to fire Comey Washington Post (furzy)

By firing Comey, Trump may have fanned the flames he hoped to control Los Angeles Times. While this is true, the problem is that you can’t prove a negative. Even if an investigation were to pronounce Trump clean (likely by virtue of having at most inconsequential relationships with Russians, and none with Putin or his inner circle), the Dems would be unsatisfied and would insist the probe was not thorough enough and/or interfered with.

FBI firing leaves Russia probe in uncertainty The Hill (furzy)

Democrats’ nuclear option over Comey’s firing: shut down the Senate Vox. Darius: “I’d follow Tom Perez nowhere.”

Lavrov trolls NBC before Trump meeting as US media, Democrats lose it over Russia RT (Lt. Columbo)

Comey Sought More Funding for FBI’s Russia Probe Before Being Fired Wall Street Journal

Trump Transition

The Conviction of an Activist for Laughing Portends Repression of Protest Under Trump Truthout (RR)

Trump’s threat to the 2020 Census Politico (Dan K)


Aetna Is Latest Health Insurer to Quit Obamacare Markets Bloomberg

Senate unexpectedly rejects bid to repeal a key Obama-era environmental regulation Washington Post (martha r)

Nestlé Still Extracts Water From Public Land for a Pittance Truthout (Judy B)

Hanaford Tunnel Collapse

Roof failure was at a one-of-a-kind Hanford tunnel system Yakima Herald (martha r). Handy diagrams!

An atomic town revels in its plutonium past as tunnel collapse raises contamination concerns Washington Post (martha r)

Emergency alert at Hanford a call for cleanup Union Bulletin (martha r)

Dakota Access pipeline has first leak before pipeline is fully operational Guardian (martha r). Recall the pipeline will go under the Missouri River, which is the sole source of drinking water for communities with millions of people in them.

Public Corruption in the U.S. States and Its Impact on Public Debt Pricing Wiley (Dr. Kevin)

West Virginia Police Officer Sues After Being Fired for Not Shooting Black Man Guardian (Judy B)

David Sirota is creating Podcast Paetron. Sirota is starting a new show!

IEA Sees Oil Market Supply Deficit Deepen Significantly This Year OilPrice. Note that IEA forecasts have long had a bullish bias.

Zillow faces lawsuit over ‘Zestimate’ tool that calculates a house’s worth Washington Post

Whole Foods, Facing Pressure From Activist Investor, Shakes Up Board New York Times

“The Great Narrowing” of the S&P 500 Wolf Richter

Class Warfare

More than half of young people in Europe would join a “large-scale uprising” WSWS (micael)

Strippers sue Colorado nightclub in labor dispute Reuters. EM: “Talk about naked capitalism!”

A Middle Class Which Aligns with the Rich Cuts Its Own Throat Ian Welsh (martha r)

The Economics of Trust IMF. I’d normally write this up, but the underlying paper is from August. The thesis:

In surveys over the past 40 years, the share of Americans who say that most people can be trusted has fallen to 33 percent from about 50 percent. The erosion of trust coincides with widening disparities in incomes.

But does inequality reduce trust? There is evidence that it does…

Amazon creating a place for hundreds of homeless on its shiny new Seattle campus Seattle Times (martha r)

Children of the Great Recession: Are Millennials Ready to Start the Class Struggle America Needs? John Laurtis (martha r)

What is human capital? aeon (Micael)

Antidote du jour. Mirko from Toronto sends this picture of his cat:

And a bonus video (Timotheus): From the Bored Panda write-up:

A video showing desert critters secretly filmed approaching a water bucket to quench their thirst is going viral. We see different creatures, from bees, to chickens, to a donkey and a rabbit. The video was uploaded by John Wells from The Field Lab, a Southwest Texas alternative energy and sustainable living field laboratory.

“I was pleasantly surprised during the edit to see that George [the rabbit] made an appearance. I know him from all the other rabbits because of the tiny notch in his ear.” The guy was quick to add: “Note: The swimming bees were rescued.”

John Wells, who moved from New York to almost ‘the middle of nowhere’ to purchase an off-grid lifestyle, is already known in certain ecology-conscious circles for managing to build a modern house with solar energy and composting for just $1600.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    take care Yves and thank you for EVERYTHING.

    In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.


    1. sporble

      Being sick ain’t no fun… am reminded of a quote from the 70s tv series “Good Times”:
      “We are poor, and poor is one of three things people don’t want to be. Right next to sick, and dead.”

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Take care & I hope you find some consolation.

        “There is a certain ‘beauty’ in illness – one is alone – one reads – one thinks – one sees only the people one likes seeing “- Virginia Woolf.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To sit or relax quietly in a room alone, ahhhhhh…..

          Humans, heal yourselves.

          (Personally, I think that’s better (more eco friendly, as they call it) than, say, trying to improve solar panels.)

      2. Katharine

        Yes! I’m glad you kept your priorities straight. Sleep is your best healer, and your readers can easily adapt to small variations in content.

        1. Susan the other

          words to live by (from a Mexican painted tile featuring a wise old burro) “How wonderful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward.”

    2. Tully

      Humbly offered as a tonic is this reader’s immense appreciation for you and your work. Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad.

    3. John k

      Chicken soup, lots of water, and aspirin. Gargle with warm salt water.
      Best wishes.

  2. Ruben

    Re. the IMF blog entry about inequality reducing trust, recall a link I posted to a recent paper in PNAS showing experimentally that inequality increases risk-taking. From there to inequality reducing trust there is just one more step in the logic: increased risk-taking reduces trust by increasing the frequency of bad outcomes of social and economic interactions.

    1. Sandler

      Should we rename it unfairness? Let’s face it, the American Dream is inequality: you make more than your neighbor, get a bigger house, pay less tax, hire cheap labor to cut your grass. Inequality sounds great for most. Unfairness is different, it means everyone in the suburbs has no chance because the bankers hanging in the Hamptons are parasites.

      1. hunkerdown

        As George Carlin put it, you have to be asleep to believe it. Time to wake up from the drug-induced slumber.

    2. tony

      I’m speaking with Dr. Martin Daly, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, a pioneer in the field of evolutionary psychology, and author of “Killing the Competition”. Dr. Daly has determined that economic inequality and male on male homicide rates are strongly linked, and makes a causal argument for why this is the case, attributing it to status competition under stressful conditions.

      Martin Daly: Evolutionary Psychology Pioneer

      Also inequality seems to be a causal factor in homicide. If there are no legal ways to advance in the dominance hierarchy, ambitious men will often go for illegal methods, including homicide.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems sensible that inequality leads to homicide.

        On the other hand, to me, lack of trust is a causal factor in inequality, not the other way around.

        First, every man (and woman) for himself (or herself)…to maximize profit or whatnot.

        Then, the intense self-focus leads to apathy…in general.

        Through competition (fair or we believe, unfair), luck, etc, some of those who are apathetic become rich and very rich.

        At that point, we have inequality.

      2. run75441


        Suggest you read “Violence, Reflections on a National Epidemic” Dr. James Gilligan. A prison psychiatrist. Shame is a leading indicator of violence and how you stand in the hierarchy.

        1. tony

          A point made in that interview was that if social status is all you have, you are much more likely to escalate risks should it be threatened. If you have a career and income, you have a lot to lose from escalation and not much to lose from losing when you can just walk away and collect the rewards from your career and make new friends.

          So a middle class dude with a future will rarely resort to violence to maintain status.

    3. skippy

      Increased risk taking[????]… ummm… corruption or falling altruism aka survival of the fittest thingy….

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Risk taking vs. trust reduction.

      Are they always positively correlated? More risking taking = more trust reduction?

      Or is there a turning point on the curve?

      1. SpringTexan

        Good bureaucrats (or mail delivery people, or appliance repairmen) are not risk-takers, and they are trustworthy. Not a current ideal, but in my opinion, useful persons. Ambition is overrated.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think the turning point question is like this: a little learning is a dangerous, but a lot of learning is good.

          Is the reverse true of risking taking?

  3. fresno dan

    “The Great Narrowing” of the S&P 500 Wolf Richter

    Over the past 10 weeks – so since March 1, 2017 – five stocks in the S&P 500 index have gained a total of $260 billion in market value, the infamous FAANG stocks: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (now Alphabet).

    By any measure, $260 billion is a massive surge in valuation for just five stocks, or 1% of the S&P 500, in just 10 weeks.
    The only question I have is: What amusing acronym will Jim Haygood come up for the name of the FED bailout when the FAANG collapses???

    1. Jim Haygood

      Skynet don’t like this at all — third try:

      Buying Operations Generating Undergirded Security … BOGUS

    2. cojo

      FAANG is what happens when everyone is pushed into stock indices. You’re forced to buy overpriced “new tech” which for most price weighted indices account for a disproportionate amount, while getting less of the real values left in the market.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Riddle me this:
        1. what in the hell is a central bank doing buying equities?
        2. doesn’t that mean it is now impossible to determine their value? (Since an “investor” who can materialize money from thin air means stocks are now completely decoupled from things like supply and demand, earnings, market share, and profits)?

        Anyone? Beuhler?

        Maybe it’s just part and parcel. We used to have “the law of the land”, now we have a two-speed justice system for the rich. We used to have individual rights to privacy. We used to have functioning anti-trust laws. We used to need a declaration of war by Congress to start flinging bombs around the globe.

        I guess I’m just an old guy who actually remembers how much better everything used to be.

    3. skippy

      Friction-less ™ capitalism… and people have dramas with government creating HPM ex nihilo… chortle… just the cheese [wiz] in the Scotts box we call the – Free Markets – for the rational agents amongst us….

  4. HBE

    Amazon creating place for homeless.

    My first thought was not – that’s great. My first thought was, oh robots aren’t working out, so Amazon is going to enslave the homeless.

    1. Anonymous

      They’re already (sort of) doing that.

      I have a friend who works as a manager at an Amazon fulfillment center. During last year’s Christmas busy season, one of his colleagues was coming into work in the wee hours and discovered a couple of toddlers in the back of a station wagon. Turned out one of the women on the night shift was living out of her car and simply didn’t have anywhere else to take her children while at work. Make of that what you will.

      1. JustAnObserver

        I have a plea. Whenever the phrase “fullfillment center” appears, esp. in the Amazon context, can we replace it with the more economically accurate “workhouse”.

    2. From Cold Mountain

      Note that the headline makes it sound like Amazon is creating housing, when it is just a homeless shelter. It is a way station and does nothing to solve the housing crisis. And Mary’s place serves only women, children and families. How do I know? Because I went to them for assistance last year and they told me to get lost. So the homeless men, well eff ’em. And they all wonder why white males are dying from despair. (Note as well that 40% of the people in Mary’s places are refugees and immigrants from East Africa, hence Trump.)

      1. Eclair

        Cold Mountain, I’m sorry that you went through that bad time. I hope things are better now.

        I can speak only from my experience in Denver, but in the past, services for the homeless have been mostly for males; single males. In the last decade, well since 2008, the numbers of single women, women with children and families who have been left without homes, has increased substantially.

        The big shelters in Denver will house only with ‘single’ males. If you are a man in a relationship with a woman, you cannot stay together. Most men will not leave their female partner alone just so they can spend the night under a roof.

        If you are a single parent with children, or a two parent family, there are almost no options; getting a voucher for a few nights in a motel is probably the most you can hope for.

        Also, most shelters have a relatively short limit on length of stay; not a stable situation for homeless children of school age.

        Before it burned down in February 2016, the Denver Catholic Worker House was the ONLY shelter in Denver that had a couple’s accommodation; one room. And it was always full. They also had one family room; always full. And, there was no limit on length of stay.

        Denver has a shelter for women run by a non-profit organization; there don’t have nearly enough space. Many homeless women are reluctant to stay around males; so many of them have been the victims of domestic violence and trauma, from partners and parents, and fleeing from such situations may be the reason they are homeless. Others have been raped while on the street. Homeless Moms, like all moms, experience constant anxiety about the safety of their little one; when you are living on the street and a snowstorm is blowing down from the mountains, you can be practically out of your mind with worry.

        So, Mary’s Place in Seattle is organized to serve women, children and families. Unattached males, unfair though this may be, are, in the homeless community, often viewed as a threat by women. Because they have had bad experiences with such men. So, a large part of their ‘recovery’ from homelessness is not just a place to stay, but a place in which they, and their children, will feel safe and secure.

        And, a footnote here: The Denver Catholic Worker House, which burned in a fire of unexplained origin, over a year ago, has been unable to find a new building. Denver is experiencing a real-estate boom with resultant sky-high prices and rents. The community carries on, but without a shelter. Every snow storm and cold snap this past winter, I would think of the phone calls we would receive from people living on the Denver streets; the pregnant 19 year old, the gay couple (yes, the couple’s room was available for any ‘committed couple’), the 50 year old woman who had been kicked out of her rented room by an abusive house owner, the family with four children, evicted from their apartment in a neighborhood that was being gentrified.

        1. From Cold Mountain


          I can speak only from my experience in Denver, but in the past, services for the homeless have been mostly for males; single males. In the last decade, well since 2008, the numbers of single women, women with children and families who have been left without homes, has increased substantially.

          Yes, I agree, homelessness is now effecting women and families now, and that means that single men have even less services and are also viewed as a threat to women. Thanks for that.

          And again, Amazon is causing this dislocation and thinks they are doing a big thing by throwing the homeless shelter a bone. And the homeless shelter takes the money and praises Amazon, the same people who are causing the greater dislocation. It is like a bank robber giving the bank 10% of the money it stole and the bank thanking them for it.

          1. Eclair

            Yes, Cold Mountain, I agree that the Amazons of this world a cause of the dislocation. And, I believe that by giving a home to Mary’s Place, rather than a shelter that serves men, Amazon avoids the unfortunate stigma associated with homeless males; people must not help the homeless man because this just encourages his slothfulness, drug habit, criminal tendencies, etc. Children are by definition, innocents, and therefore blameless; their mothers are saintly by association and any fathers of families are unfortunates who are struggling to do the best for their wives and children. Amazon is busily engaged in burnishing their image.

    3. Eclair

      I’m visiting in Seattle and the print edition of the Seattle Times featured this story on the front page yesterday; although the headline describing Amazon’s construction (including as it does the destruction of existing space utilized by the lower classes and the currently homeless) as ‘shiny new campus’ can be read as being a bit on the snarky side.

      I am of two minds about this; perhaps Amazon’s decision will encourage other corporations who have directly participated in the ferrocious destruction of small businesses, the break-up of once vibrant communities, the lowering of wages and exclusion of benefits that result from gaining monopoly power in an industry, and the gentrification and resultant rise in real estate prices enabled by their sucking up of exorbitant profits, to share their ill-gotten gains.

      On the other hand, I am not about to praise the leaders of such a corporation for handing over a measly share of their profits in the hopes that this action will burnish their image. They could pay their workers (I’m thinking here of their warehouse employees, not their technical staff) a living wage, with adequate vacation, sick time and retirement benefits; they could bribe legislators to pass universal health care (with dental!); they could cease forcing local governments to give them ‘breaks’ from paying local taxes that fund, among other things, a decent educational system. And, their ‘gift’ gives Amazon just about full control of the policies of the shelter. It’s dancing with the devil.

      1. From Cold Mountain

        On the other hand, I am not about to praise the leaders of such a corporation for handing over a measly share of their profits in the hopes that this action will burnish their image. They could pay their workers (I’m thinking here of their warehouse employees, not their technical staff) a living wage, with adequate vacation, sick time and retirement benefits; they could bribe legislators to pass universal health care (with dental!); they could cease forcing local governments to give them ‘breaks’ from paying local taxes that fund, among other things, a decent educational system. And, their ‘gift’ gives Amazon just about full control of the policies of the shelter. It’s dancing with the devil.


    4. robnume

      I thought Amazon was doing it so they’d have someplace to put their “retired” workers when those “retired” workers lose their jobs to robots.
      Who says crony capitalists don’t give back to society?

    1. MoiAussie

      This analysis corresponds well with some of the discussion here yesterday. Commenters were more inclined to think an investigation that cleared the Trompe campaign would be dismissed as a cover-up by the Dems rather than causing the their destruction, but the two results aren’t mutually exclusive.

      It might in the future be hard to tell who’s right on “What destroyed the Dems?”, since the leadership seems pretty set on self-destruction one way or another, and they are halfway there already. There’s no shortage of causes and people to blame.

    2. fresno dan

      Roger Smith
      May 11, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Trump’s base is absolutely giddy about the firing of James Comey, and that’s a win for Trump in my opinion. Trump’s base accurately sees the entire Department of Justice (which includes the FBI) as a total joke. An institution that primarily exists to protect elitist criminals. Considering the inability of the DOJ/FBI to jail a single bank executive for the financial crimes committed last decade, this view is entirely appropriate.

      James Comey has been a big part of this racket, so there’s no love lost for him.
      Unfortunately, Trump’s not really taking on any deep state, as was fully demonstrated earlier today when he was seen in the Oval Office with one of the deep state’s most notorious war criminals. (Picture of Trump and Kissinger)
      Much better analysis than most of the MSM – but that is a low, low bar.
      To me, its whether the establishment repubs with their rabid anti Russian ideology decide that Trump being NICE (not criminal, just nice) to Russia is unacceptable – there doesn’t have to be collusion or illegality. If “responsible” repubs support a special prosecutor, I see the end of Trump….

      1. Jim Haygood

        Kissinger visited the White House to tell Trump how dropping the MOAB on Afghanistan made his rheumy old reptile eyes weep with joy.

        Reminded the grizzled old git of his salad days, cleansing the jungles of Cambodia with burning petroleum jelly.

        1. Pavel

          The difference is that Trump bragged about his MOAB bombing whilst Kissinger & Co kept their illegal bombing campaign in Cambodia secret as long as possible:

          In the first few weeks of the new administration, Kissinger ordered the Pentagon to present a highly classified briefing on bombing options available in the Vietnam War. The task fell to Air Force Colonel Ray B. Sitton, an experienced Strategic Air Command officer serving the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Sitton was known in the Pentagon as “Mr. B-52.”

          It was an unusual exercise, Sitton says. “I drew up a big list-on a board about three feet high and eight or nine feet wide-of military steps you might make that would signal North Vietnam that we meant business. Kissinger wanted them to know that we were serious about possible escalation.”

          Nixon and Kissinger had found the right signal to send: By mid-March 1969 they would secretly begin bombing Cambodia with B-52s: aircraft, the eight-engine jets that were the core of the strategic bombing fleet. The bombing became a turning point not only in the war but also in the mentality of the White House. The secret of that bombing-and hundreds of later missions- would be kept for five years. Eventually, the secret became more important to the White House than the bombing.

          –Seymour M. Hersh: Cambodia: The Secret Bombing (1983)

          War criminal Kissinger, always at the side of the latest power. Remember horrid Hillary declaring he was her mentor!

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              All I could think of when I saw that shriveled lump was, “Where is cancer when you really need it?”

              1. Roger Smith

                Hmm… here I was thinking he was the cancer. But I agree. When can we start trading these monsters for some of the good ones?

            1. barefoot charley

              Hundreds of sorties, hundreds of thousands of deaths, in order to ‘send a message’–but shush, it’s all secret! Secret only from the perps’ people. Kissinger was truly Nixonian.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I would LOVE to have Tricky Dick today:

                In foreign policy and diplomacy, Richard Nixon ended both the draft of young Americans into the armed forces, as well as the decade-long US military occupation of Indo-China, effectively ending the war.

                Nixon initiated the Security Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements with the USSR and developed diplomatic policies which recognized the possibility and necessity of peaceful co-existence between different social systems.

                On the domestic front, President Nixon established the Clean Water Act and established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

                Nixon proposed a National Health Insurance Program – an expansion of Medicare to cover the health needs of all Americans. This radical proposal (a version of ’single payer’) was attacked and defeated by the Democratic Party, led by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy who was backed by ‘Big Pharma’, the AMA and the growing corporate ‘health’ industry.

                Nixon promoted consumer rights, supplemental legislation to expand Social Security, especially for the handicapped, while defending the retirement age for pension eligibility.

                Under Nixon, union membership rose to 30% of the workforce – its high point before its precipitous decline to 12% under subsequent US Presidents.

                Nixon increased salaries of federal employees and real wages rose. In the following half-century real wages have declined to only 10% of their Nixon era value.

                Nixon indexed Social Security to the real rate of inflation.

                The Nixon Presidency initiated the Affirmative Action program and used the Federal Government to push for the desegregation of schools.

                President Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprises (OMBE); the Occupation Safety and Health Agency (OSHA); and the Legacy of Parks Programs.

                Nixon proposed a guaranteed annual wage for American workers, which both Democrats and Republicans rejected and defeated.

                President Nixon appointed four Supreme Court Justices during his term. Three of his appointees supported the groundbreaking ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision protecting women’s reproductive rights.

                Under Nixon the voting age was reduced from twenty-one to eighteen years.

                When Nixon spoke in favor of gun control, both the Republican and Democratic Parties opposed his proposals.

                President Nixon supported the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and the Endangered Species Act.

      2. Bill Smith

        “Trump’s base is absolutely giddy about the firing of James Comey”

        How is this measured?

        1. JTMcPhee

          I’m sure the state security apparatus has a readily available answer, if one has the access to ask the question…

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I believe the democrats’ position on Comey’s firing was well and truly represented by the ever-erudite maxine waters in an interview yesterday.

      Waters, who supported failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, maintained in an interview with MSNBC that it was bad that Trump fired Comey. However, the congresswoman also argued that Clinton would have been right to fire Comey had the former secretary of state won the White House.

      If that sounds incoherent, that’s because it is.

      “I think the president, if the president had fired [Comey] when he first came in, he would not have to be in a position now where he is trying to make up a story about why it does not meet the smell test,” Waters told MSNBC’s Peter Alexander.

      “So if Hillary Clinton had won the White House, would you have recommended that she fire FBI Director James Comey?” Alexander asked.

      Waters responded, “Well, let me tell you something, if she had won the White House, I believe that given what he did to her, and what he tried to do, she should have fired him. Yes.”

      It’s a good thing we have public servants like ms. waters to make some sense out of the confusion that is currently roiling our exceptional republic. With elected officials such as she, it’s sometimes hard to understand how so many “bad” things can happen.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Since Maxine Waters hasn’t always been this bizarre, I suspect her age might be at play. I don’t know how up to date is, but they have her listed as serving on only one committee these days.

    4. Ed

      Well this is worth reading, I disagree with the conclusion.

      The Russian collusion allegations are just the Donks’ version of birtherism and Benghazi.

      And we know how much the fact that various “scandals” the GOP brought up when Obama was in office turned out to be baseless hurt them. Which was not at all.

      The only conclusion is that the political parties don’t lose support for bring up ridiculous “scandals” anymore, any more than they are hurt by covering up real scandals.

    5. Olga

      Am trying to avoid the Comey firing news (tempest in a teapot), so wondering whether anyone mentioned that HRC would have almost certainly also fired him.

    6. Bill Smith

      Given what the acting FBI director said before Congress today, all those news stories about the FBI asking for increased funding for the Russian investigation are fake news? He says it didn’t happen. No request was made.

    7. Yves Smith Post author

      There won’t be a special investigation unless another shoe drops. The Republicans are backing Trump and a special investigator require Congressional approval. The Republicans want their bills passed (they need to show some “accomplishments” by 2018). A special investigation takes energy away from passing legislation and by not backing Trump, would give Trump an excuse not to sign some of their bills.

  5. fresno dan

    Antidote du jour

    Reminds me very much of the watering hole I frequent:
    the buzz
    the flighty
    the shy (rabbit)
    the cocks of the walk
    the jackass
    and of course, the place is full of bull….

    1. ambrit

      Not to mention the Bleach.
      How’re you and the other tentacular ones liking the new improved sub-aqueous environs?

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for the link! Like you I’m not sure I’d like the Texas desert but life off-the-grid is very tempting.

  6. Jim A.

    At the end of the day, Russiagate doesn’t add up to much. And not because there isn’t ample evidence that the Russians didn’t try to influence the election, or even that there may well have been coördination between people in the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Assume for a minute that Russian propaganda was effective and did change the outcome of the election. (and those are pretty much unproveable rather than unproved) That would mean that they persuaded (with fake news and true leaks) a sufficient number of Americans in the right places to get Trump elected. The electorate may have been influenced, but the electorate made its choice. And under the rules that we live under (not simple majority vote) that choice was Trump. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether people were persuaded by stories on infowars or RT or the WSJ. Frankly, I’m vastly more concerned with voter suppression and gerrymandering than Russian influence, because those make fewer people’s choices matter, rather than trying to affect people’s choices.

    1. fresno dan

      Jim A.
      May 11, 2017 at 8:45 am

      That is the ultimate pertinent point – I, the voter, get to decide who influences me and what I believe and what sources I trust and distrust. And I believe Putin more than I believe the CIA – a low bar.

      Not to mention that with the vast majority of public policies, the public desire is thwarted.

  7. JTMcPhee

    There was a brief exchange a couple of days ago about keeping track of the players in the area we RISK!-style geopolitical armchair drivers call the “Middle East.”

    One suggestion for a scorecard for keeping track of the shifting sands of affinity and alliance and pledges of loyalty and all was to monitor MoonofAlabama. Might I add, for the edification of anyone seriously interested in ‘what might be done’ there, the blog Syria Comment, proctored by Joshua Landis, a kind of counter-Juan-Cole student and analyst of things Syrian and surroundings? Here’s one example of the stuff that appears in his space, detailing the “Byzantine” complexity and controlled chaos of both warring players and gunmen-warband groups, and the efforts by ordinary people to survive in the hostile world the Great Game and related idiocies has conjured: “Reconciliations: The Case of al-Sanamayn in North Debra,”

    Compare Imperial doctrine, strategy and tactics: who to arm, who to bomb, wo to destabilize/overthrow, who to be ordered around by (corps and Israelites, looking at you.)

    Still all about body count and supply chain, isn’t it?

  8. Susan Mills

    I’m delighted to see you’ve linked to John Well’s ‘the bucket’ video made at his Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory – pretty much 40 acres of scrubland and some very happy animals.

    One thing he mentioned on his blog after the video went viral is that when viewers watch videos on sites other than YouTube the views are not counted and monetized by YouTube. So it’s a good idea to at least click on the YT box if you like a video and want to send some appreciation to the creator.

    As he said: Special thanks to the stars of the video. It was their dedication and hard work (and thirst) that made the production a success.

  9. ex-PFC Chuck

    From: “The Conviction of an Activist for Laughing Portends Repression of Protest Under Trump”

    Tellingly, several members of the jury said they felt like they had to convict — because the laws under which they were charged are “so broad.” “There’s almost no way that you can find them not guilty,” one told the Huffington Post.

    Apparently these jurors had never heard of jury nullification.

    1. Katharine

      A topic well worth reading up. Bushell’s case, and the meatier bits of Lord Chief Justice Vaughan’s opinion, could brighten the day of any liberty-loving citizen, and John Peter Zenger’s name should be familiar to schoolchildren.

      When only acquittal is just, acquit!

    2. cm

      Yeah, if you’re on void dire during jury selection you have to lie about any knowledge of nullification if you don’t want to immediately get kicked off. I remember nodding in agreement about how we would never consider not following the law…

      It has been over a generation since high school civics classes were mandatory, which is exactly what our rulers want. Juries were created for a reason, but almost no one know why anymore…

    3. sleepy

      Afaik, no state allows a jury instruction on nullification with the possible exception, if still true, of Maryland.

  10. RabidGandhi

    Trying again:

    Fury in Argentina over ruling that could see human rights abusers walk free [Guardian]

    I want to post quickly on this to show how social movements have power to affect policy regardless of who is in office.

    Basic background: Argentina had a law that granted convicted criminals double time served for the time they spent in jail prior to their convictions. Since this law (called “the 2 x 1” ie, “a two-fer”) was revoked in 2001 and because of how retroactivity works here, the only criminals who might have had an argument to apply for a 2×1 were the convicted state terrorists of the 1976-83 dictatorship (most convicted for kidnapping newborns and forced disappearance of adults). In the Kirchner years, the courts rejected this argument and ordered the human rights violators to serve their full sentence, but last month the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in a landmark sentence.

    The concern among human rights groups (eg, The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who work to find those kidnapped babies) with regard to the Macri regime is that it is trying to turn back the clock to the 1990s when human rights abuses were brushed under the carpet with laws such as “2×1”, “the law of due obedience” and the “full stop law”. Macri administration officials and the president himself have repeatedly referred to human rights claims as a “swindle” (curro), and have tried to argue that human rights groups exaggerate how many victims there were under the last dictatorship.

    The latest straw was this Supreme Court ruling on the 2×1 law. But something curious is happening: the judgement was voted for by the judges Macri packed placed on the court and the administration originally backed the court, but there has been a massive public backlash
    (photo of “hundreds of thousands” filling the Plaza de Mayo yesterday to protest the ruling), and the regime is now backpeddling. Macri has gone from speaking in favour of the court’s judgement to now stating that he has “always been against the 2×1”. The opposition in congress sponsored a law to pushback the ruling that originally came under fire from Macri’s party (PRO), but they have now been cowered by the public into voting aye or abstaining on the bill.

    So in short, activism works. We have seen this tactic early and often from Macri & Co.: first do something as radically reactionary as possible, and then retreat when you get pushed back from the public. They are trying to see how much they can get away with, but they know they are limited by public opinion (especially with by-elections looming next year). As I see it, this is how power always works: for example even if, e.g., Sanders or Mélanchon would have been elected they would still have depended more on what happens in public opinion than on their own policy designs.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …and of course “public opinion” in the US Empire is is all kosher, bears the
      Approved By Bernays labeling, and in-the-streets “activism?” Hmmmm?

      My sense is that in places like Argentina, “people know who they are and what they belong to.” What are “we,” here, in a place that “we” somehow still self-brand as a “democracy,” a thing like “the national interest” that we just KNOW in our hearts what that is, goodness and light and Freedom’n’Liberty ?(tm)…

      1. RabidGandhi

        Personally having lived in the US I think the difference there is community organisation (or lack thereof). There are no palpable unions, no local community groups, and politics, as such, is a purely top-down vote-once-every-four-years-then-go-home-to-play-xbox event.

        I don’t think there’s anything essentially different in the US ethos (we Argentines can be just as deluded if not more), but there is a difference in grassroots organisation. Organise, rebuild community, raise up worker-run unions, and the silly self-branding will vanish as smoke vanisheth… as wax melteth before the fire.

  11. allan

    I gave Utah a voice, Zinke says as he departs from national-monument trip [Salt Lake Tribune]

    As if.

    Surrounded on the tarmac by an entourage of national monument opponents while full-throated advocates tried to drown him out from the runway fenceline, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Utahns had been granted a voice in the future of their public lands.

    He’d heard from Utah’s delegation, its governor, county commissioners, a conservation group and American Indians on both sides of the debate, he said.

    And the 100 or so people chanting “Talk to us!” as he spoke?

    “If I missed one group,” he shrugged, “that’s the breaks.” …

    Zinke held two publicized meetings with pro-monument groups during his visit — the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Friends of Cedar Mesa — for a total of about an hour and a half, while he traveled extensively with anti-monument heavyweights.

    He offered little media availability outside of daily briefings, and no public meetings. …

    On Wednesday, business leaders from Escalante and Boulder again were thwarted in their attempt to land a face-to-face meeting with Zinke, where they would have told him that area businesses are thriving in part because of the 1996 monument designation there. …

    As Orwell might say, some businesses are more equal than others.

    1. Susan the other

      I don’t understand the Utah politics (and I’m right here in the middle of it) to take over the Federal lands including the monuments, or some of them. Those spectacular national monuments are in the southern part of the state where it is dry as a bone. And unbelievably beautiful. It is as dry as Nevada and it is instructive to note that Nevada has no wonderful national monuments and still the vast lands of Nevada are free from development. Nevada has no water and no industry save Area 51 and Las Vegas. And recently Elon Musk’s very toxic battery factory outside of Reno where there actually is access to water. So to my point, I really don’t know what the State of Utah is planning in terms of being able to lease, tax or otherwise develop and profit from the lands they want to take back from the Federal Gov. I don’t think it is worth the sacrifice of these very beautiful places. Especially in a time of de-industrialization.

    1. cojo

      …Once you get over the ‘cry me a river’ feeling, there are some good tidbits about time and time management.

  12. Jim Haygood

    A statue of Jefferson Davis came down in New Orleans this morning:

    Demonstrators carrying Confederate flags and chanting “President Davis” argued with protesters shouting “take ’em down” — referring to the monuments they see as totems of racism and white supremacy.

    Some of the pro-monument demonstrators chanted “Mitch for prison” — a reference to New Orleans [Democrat] Mayor Mitch Landrieu who is backing the monuments’ removal.

    Some view this as a triumph of tolerance over racism. But most 19th century US leaders were racist by contemporary standards. Logically the demolitionists should turn next to taking down statues of the bigoted Woodrow Wilson and dismantling the marble shrine to Lincoln, who advocated expelling the slaves back to Africa.

    Certainly the MSM will not even dare hint at the deeper motive behind this historical revisionism, at a time when secessionist sentiment is rising: namely, that those who rise up against the United State [singular] will not only be crushed, but erased from history.

    *prostrates hisself in prayer, facing east toward the Imperial Capital*

    1. Carolinian

      Well Jeff Davis was president of the Confederacy. Having racist views wasn’t simply one of his little peccadilloes.

      Since I live in the South I’d say monuments to the Lost Cause are an embarrassment and if one thinks public monuments should represent a general consensus by the locals on who should be honored then these are often increasingly inappropriate. But I do agree that they shouldn’t be taken down just because someone finds them offensive.

      As for Woodrow Wilson statues: yes pull them down and pound them with shoes like they did in Baghdad.

      1. cm

        …if one thinks public monuments should represent a general consensus by the locals on who should be honored

        Ever seen the Russian soldier monument in Vienna, Austria? I’ve long thought it should be torn down… :-)

        1. Carolinian

          If not for the Red Army then the Austrians might still be doing the goose step. There is at least some justification.

          1. Jim A.

            Is it ironic, then that the Soviet Army (like that of the DDR and Russia) goose-stepped? (ISTR that Peter the Great was influenced by the Prussian army)

    2. Jagger

      If you use 21st Century morality to judge the actions of the past, we won’t have any statues late. And especially don’t forget those responsible for the genocide of the American Indian. But then, really this has nothing to do with anything except brute power politics-creating political reputations and benefits for those who see advantage from increased racial tension. Part of the price is the removal of historical artifacts.

      I personally would not be surprised in the least if the removal of those statues doesn’t result in a tit for tat attacks, outside the law, on black statues such as Martin Luther King. These things can get out of control very quickly.

      1. Carolinian

        Please make the case why Jeff Davis deserves a statue in New Orleans or anywhere else. Of course no public figure is a plaster saint but surely celebrating them in a public place suggests at least some admirable attributes. All New Orleans did by putting up that statue was to say “gee, we wish we’d won.”

        Of course they had a perfect right to do so at the time but perhaps no longer if the statue doesn’t represent the views of most of the people who live there. There’s doubtless a Daughters of the Confederacy chapter somewhere that can host Davis’ statue.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if robots could have made the slave system go away, if not as fast as a war.

          Of all the problems in the world today, if we don’t immediately rectify them, are we guilty as well, even with abundant examples of progress evolving over time, by those concerned, of their own accord?

          1. Alex Morfesis

            You just helped me understand why robots will never end up taking the jobs of slaves…err…humans…too many crazypantz boss man types will have no one to physically and emotionally whip and abuse…robots dont react…

            Robots are no fun for the whippers…

        2. Jagger

          My primary argument is they are history. You may not have any respect for history but history has an immense value even in a society as shallow as today.

          All New Orleans did by putting up that statue was to say “gee, we wish we’d won.”

          Bullshit. Lets see some support for that statement besides your opinion.

          Of course they had a perfect right to do so at the time but perhaps no longer if the statue doesn’t represent the views of most of the people who live there.

          Three years ago, you heard absolutely nothing about the statues. And the only reason you
          hear anything about them today is some felt there was political gain in ripping open old wounds. Lets demonstrate our power by starting a fight. And the resentments build and the divisions widen. Politicians and high horse crusaders both love it.

          And why this crusade just against southern statues? Unless you are a complete hypocrite, then why aren’t you leading a charge against statues of northern slave holders and slave traders? And how about statues of those participating in Native American genocide, how about statutes of war criminals, how about homophobes or whatever current moral crusade you can use to demonstrate your superior 21st century virtue vs archaic standards? We could clear out a lot of statues and a lot of history if we would simply use consistent standards. Wow and could you imagine what they could do to statues in Italy if they just followed our enlightened lead?

          America is just simply insane.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Critical thinking demonstration, Example 1A. Well thought and articulated.

            Absolutely agree with you,Jagger.

            1. howard nyc

              Part of the context usually lost in this discussion is the fact that many of these CSA heroes monuments were erected during the time the noble ‘Lost Cause’ narrative was rising. Just as the popular use of the Confederate Flag, beyond historical organizations and football games is largely a phenomenon beginning in the 1940s as a reaction against civil rights (finally) for black people. The politics of these statues is not simply remembrance.

              These monuments were tools to bolster the attendant racism of that time (late 19th century), meant to help strengthen Jim Crow, not simply to innocently honor a part of history. Like many/most monuments, I suppose, there was an agenda tied to the time of placement.

              I love and honor history, and if I were the boss of the world I would probably choose to leave the statues and monuments, taking pains to include this context, the development of the Lost Cause concept. The politics of the installment of these statues, like the late 20th century flying of the stars and bars, is vital history itself. But I am a civil war geek, and that bias overrides my Black American ethnicity.


              Lets demonstrate our power by starting a fight.

              Yep. Exactly why this is happening now.

              America is just simply insane.

              Nailed it, twice, in one post.

            2. robnume

              Just what I was thinking, too. Better pull down the horrible Pyramids at Giza and Angkor Watt. No need for them any longer. Not historically relevant.

          2. Carolinian

            And the Confederate flag is “just history.” Sorry if I call bullshit on that one.

            Which doesn’t mean that I think people don’t have a perfect right to fly the Confederate flag on their own property. But you know nothing about the South if you think all these nostalgic tokens of old Dixie are merely about respect for our Confederate forefathers. The conflict with the North was always about race and so are those tokens.

            Did having a statue of Jefferson Davis do anybody any real harm? Probably not. But removing said statue to a more appropriate location will also do no real harm except to those who are looking to be outraged. But per my comment above I do think the community should agree. Perhaps they should vote on it.

            And BTW a statue is not “history.” A statue is a statement about history. You have yet to explain why Jeff Davis of all people deserves to have a statue. Most of us would agree that Lincoln deserves a statue even if he was an imperfect human being.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Statues are statues.

            There are still corporations and banks (google that, 10 to 15 of them, at least) that profited from slavery or the slave trade.

            1. They are still around today.
            2. The financing or the transporting is worse than owning (to me anyway as they were the pre conditions). Even if they were less visible, or maybe it’s ‘especially when they were less visible, so they could get away with it.’

            With extant organizations (some are or were not even in the South), people have a wider range of options to show their displeasure.

        3. witters

          We have come a long way from JS Mill, have we not? (and not in a good way)

          “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

          Monuments might offend, but harm?

        4. cm

          Please make the case why Jeff Davis deserves a statue

          He deserves a statue because he got himself a highway.

          Do *you* have a highway named after you??? :-)

        5. cm

          Of course they had a perfect right to do so at the time but perhaps no longer if the statue doesn’t represent the views of most of the people who live there.

          This is also an interesting argument justifying the Taliban destroying historical artifacts.

          1. bob

            Interesting in that the both the Taliban, and Davis had a lot of the same opinions. Most notably on taking, holding and fighting wars to defend the position that some people are allowed to be owned by other, better people.

    3. Susan the other

      I thought the same thing JH. It is a tragedy. Those statues should be left where they are because they are history and we learn from history, no matter how deranged it was. Demolitionists indeed.

  13. L

    With respect to the sand mining, the Guardian had a piece on the issue some months ago as well that includes the helpfully terrifying view of a rusting tanker in a dried up lake. Sand mining: the global environmental crisis you’ve probably never heard of

    By way of scale, according to some estimates, China poured more concrete in the last two decades than the U.S. did in the last 10. One open question, however, is how long that demand scale will continue given China’s large number of empty cities. Will those, skyscrapers grow to the sky? Or will they simply be supplanted by booms in other regions that pick up the pace?

    1. cm

      Fun fact. When Honolulu extended their hotel strip it altered the sea current and destroyed the coral. If you take the submarine @ the Hilton all you see is underwater desert, virtually no sea life. In the 70’s it was filled with tropical life.

      Hawaii has to import sand from California because theirs now washes away as part of the altered current.

        1. cm

          I was there in the 70s and 00’s and saw the devastation. I spoke to locals about the history, since I was astonished at what had happened. Here’s an article but I don’t trust it, since they claim it has always been a problem. In the 70s the tropical fish & coral were flourishing.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Being a seller of building materials, I’ve often wondered when our natural resources (sand, rock, clay, etc.) would be gone. It appears that wasn’t an unimportant question!

      Once I received a crate of granite packaged using apparently a very rare hardwood. A cabinet maker literally begged me to allow him to dismantle the crate attempting to save as much of the wood as possible. I sadly thought the wood most likely was unlawfully collected from the Amazon deforestation.

      We humans are reaching a tipping point, it appears.

      1. JTMcPhee

        But several people, natural and corporate, “made money” off the transactions that brought that exotic hardwood and slabs of granite destined for upscale countertops and backsplashes and ornamentation to you. So of course it’s all OK, neh? (Not a slap at you — just at what you rightly point out, the propinquity of the tipping point…

        1. perpetualWAR

          That entire incident made me leave the granite business. Sadly, unbeknownst to most people and after learning that there isn’t real “green” building materials, I am back earning a living peddling them again. A person’s gotta eat. Sad state of affairs.

      2. River

        If the cabinet maker doesn’t already know this and he can get to a shipping port. Look for South American, S.E Asia ships and examine any pallets and buy them up. Usually made from exotic hardwoods. Exotic to us is commonplace there. No point in letting some good timber go to waste.

  14. vidimi

    regarding the DAPL leak, it happened over a month ago. alternate media reported on it then. nice of the grauniad to finally acknowledge it, though.

    yes, the leak was tiny but symbolic, if not ominous.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Lavrov trolls NBC before Trump meeting as US media, Democrats lose it over Russia RT (Lt. Columbo)


    The following is a sci fi, of course, not based on the current known state of technology.

    The plot: Russians have invented limited remote mind control, specifically fear, paranoia and delusion. They use it to manipulate US Democrats and the media into believing that a new isolationist president is a Russian agent. The ensuing chaos weakens an America that is about to become great again.

  16. mad as hell

    “By firing Comey, Trump may have fanned the flames he hoped to control Los Angeles Times. While this is true, the problem is that you can’t prove a negative. Even if an investigation were to pronounce Trump clean (likely by virtue of having at most inconsequential relationships with Russians, and none with Putin or his inner circle), the Dems would be unsatisfied and would insist the probe was not thorough enough and/or interfered with’

    I don’t think you are gonna find President Donnie Three Wives clean. I too held to the belief that the Russian connection story was a red herring until the firing of Comey. There is something there. I’m not sure what exactly but Trump wants it to go away. So bad that he would have the FBI director fired. The Dems don’t have to be worried about being unsatisfied. Trump will be gone sometime this year. Even if they don’t find some collusion with the Russian government and as much as i would like to see better relations with Russia, there is smoke. I believe there are kickbacks, graft or bribes weaved into this narrative that are related to Russia and will include someone with ties to the Russian government. How can there not be when you are a billionaire? They now have a cover up starting up and the cover up will sink him much like it sank Nixon. This story is not going away. Even though I have lost almost all respect for the press they are not going let up. Trump’s the postman and the media is the German Shepard that has him by his pants leg.

    Even if Trump’s health holds up( his face looks pretty red. Blood pressure?) It won’t be long until we start hearing “What did the president know and when did he know it?” I’m betting the farm on this and will change my tag line to “gravely mistaken” if I am wrong on this. The start of 2018 some one else will be president.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What is there?

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Its not even clear what “OMG Russia” even means.

      Hacking the election? Could you explain what this means?

      John Podesta was a private citizen, employed by a private organization. “Hacking the election” might describe the disappearance of people from voter registration rolls and people who had their registration changed, but gosh, that seems to have been done by Americans often in Democratic controlled areas.

      Did Hillary Clinton hack the election? Unlike “OMG Russia,” there is actual evidence of election interference as there was misconduct or mistakes.

      Right now, the case for “OMG Russia” is John Podesta doesn’t know how emails work. Wow! Did the kid who “hacked” Palin’s emails work for the KGB?

      1. mad as hell

        I dunno what’s there. Something is smoldering though! Time will tell.
        Hacking the election . I never said that nor implied. How do you hack an election when the polls are not connected to the internet? Maybe you can explain it to me.

    2. Carolinian

      You have a farm?

      And while I don’t spend much time in the fever swamps of the MSM, I’d say the current situation is starting to resemble the 1990s where the Republicans never did accept the legitimacy of Bill Clinton and in the end did impeach even while knowing that the Senate wouldn’t convict. Then the obsession was obscure Arkansas real estate deals and the Wapo and Times did their darndest to take Clinton’s scalp and nail it to the wall next to Tricky Dick’s. Since the media have a truth problem themselves the entire conflict and distraction boiled down to a vulgar power struggle and waste of ink. Meanwhile the Clinton crew’s real crimes, foreign and domestic, went largely unnoticed while the blue dress, or in this case the Russian hack, became the shiny object.

      The difference this time is that the Republicans control the Congress and if they move to impeach then I’ll sell my own farm.

      1. mad as hell

        I think this is bigger than a BJ. Time will tell. After you sell your Carolinian farm and if you ever come up to the Midwest.Let me know. You can help me pick turnips. Just don’t fall off the truck. Did you ever fall?

        1. Pat

          Just for the record he was actually impeached for perjury, not a BJ.

          And it might be bigger, but here’s the thing if they go after business deals prior to taking office it doesn’t count. We already know there is not enough real evidence for the DNC hack that won’t be destroyed in a real hearing, and even if Russia did manage to hack into a couple of voting systems NO ONE is going to admit that one. So that leaves quid pro quo while in office, and obscure Logan violations. A law that doesn’t give exceptions for lobbying groups and supposed allies. A smart lawyer will start researching elected and appointed officials actions regarding Israel and Saudi Arabia including for former office holders. The moment that becomes apparent to the Congressional brain trust, they aren’t going to touch the latter with a ten foot pole, because see that current and former office holders thing. Then there is that little problem of the media and the fact that the megaphone doesn’t shut off. Once again no one leaves the pig sty without going through the slaughter house.

          So even if there was more to the Clinton shenanigans than lying about sex under oath, they chose not to pursue them because of the obvious it hit them about things they do or support, similar to the real problems about Benghazi that never got ‘investigated’. This is not going to go anywhere, and not just because the Democrats are not remotely in a position to make it happen. Even if they get a majority in 2018, watch it disappear.

    3. Katharine

      But he is a stubborn cuss:

      His family coat of arms, a regal symbol featuring a lion and a knight’s helmet, carries this Latin motto: “Numquam Concedere.”

      “Never Concede.”

      I find the notion of a “family coat of arms” howlingly funny. The helmet might actually have been a shaving basin, since Friedrich trained as a barber.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Lots of people are Trump-wannabees, as they never concede too.

        “We’ll fight all the way to the convention.”

        Some might even tattoo the motto on their bodies.

        The spirit itself I find admirable.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      The start of 2018 some one else will be president.

      If that is true, with the amount of “evidence” that has been presented so far, the coup will be complete.

      No american should welcome such an outcome without overwhelming evidence of criminality, which should not be as hard to find as it appears to be, and would have already been presented if it existed.

          1. marym

            TopGOP senator: ‘The public wants every dime they can be given’ on healthcare

            Sen. Orrin Hatch on Tuesday suggested public sentiment would make the GOP’s healthcare fight more complicated because too many people are “on the dole” and won’t want to give up benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act.

            Hatch, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was asked by a reporter if public opposition to the GOP healthcare plan would impact the Senate’s decision-making on its version of the bill.

            “The public wants every dime they can be given. I mean face it, once you get them on the dole they’re going to take every dime they can,” Hatch told reporters leaving a healthcare planning meeting. “We’ve got to find some way of getting things under control or this country in the near future is going to be gone.”

            1. Toolate

              Let me finish that sentence for him:” and that is why today I am announcing my support for Medicare for All. Without this , there is no way we can reign in healthcare spending and have a system Americans will be proud to be a part of”

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is a lot of room to fantasize at this moment.

            That’s the beauty of life – always moments when one is uncaged, not burdened by this check or that restraint.

          3. MoiAussie

            Thanks for that link Ed. I just surfaced from a deep dive down the rabbit hole into the looney world of patribotics. tl/dr summary: Irredeemably crazed conspiracy theory propaganda site/echo chamber with ties to Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor.

            The links on its posts are amazingly mislabelled. For example this grauniad article Data firm in talks for role in White House messaging – and Trump business is linked as a “report” under the title Alex Kogan of GSR, later SCL, illegally scraped, without permission, the data of millions of Facebook users. Note the article does not mention Kogan, GSR, SCL or Facebook.

            This much discussed DHS/DNI statement on Election Security is linked as a report titled Voter databases were hacked by Russia – US Intelligence and then again under the title Wikileaks and Gruccifer2 (sic) are Russian fronts – US intelligence.

            The site’s own posts typically begin Exclusive: Sources linked to the intelligence community say it is believed that … or Sources with links to the intelligence community have now confirmed … with no further description of the sources except an occasional link to a rabid tweet.

            Patribotics’ latest exclusive report bar one is titled EXCLUSIVE: Comey Day: ‘First Trump Russia Arrests Possible’ Thursday (today). This one was based on Senator Markey’s claim to CNN that a grand jury had been empanelled in New York. Senator Markey has since apologised for the claim as reported here, claiming some staffer read about it on a blog.

            “This morning Senator Markey erroneously reported that a grand jury has been empaneled in New York related to the wider inquiry of possible Trump campaign and administration ties to Russia,” a spokesman said in a statement.

            “Senator Markey does not have direct intelligence that is the case, and the information he was provided during a briefing is not substantiated,” the statement continued. “Subpoenas have been issued in Eastern Virginia, but Senator Markey apologizes for the confusion.”

            If only people would be just a bit selective about their “information” sources. You’d think the name would be enough of a clue.

    5. fred

      I believe there are kickbacks, graft or bribes weaved into this narrative that are related to Russia and will include someone with ties to the Russian government.

      So the Democrats who failed to defend America from the Russians were taking bribes and kickbacks from Russians and thus we need a Democrat to investigate why the Democrat who “should” have been elected isn’t in the Oval Office. If only Senator Schumer of NY had signed that piece of paper Maxine Waters of California was waiving around when Congress certifed the vote of the Electoral College thus making Donald Trump President. If only those Democrats in the Senate had not betrayed America……

    6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How can there not be when you are a billionaire?</blockquote

      Does it mean we have to investigate all billionaires?

      "Do Russians use your social media website?"

      "Do Russians use your search engine? Are you doing business with Russians, or in Russia?"

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Have you, or have you not, ever typed the word “Russia” in any of its forms into anything you have deposited in the internet?”

      2. mad as hell

        Does it mean we have to investigate all billionaires?
        No only the dishonest ones.

        “Do Russians use your social media website?”
        I don’t do face book. To incriminating

        “Do Russians use your search engine? Are you doing business with Russians, or in Russia?”
        Don’t know but I bet the US government does.Never been to Russia but I was in Baltimore a couple of times. Very depressing!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Those questions were meant for our billionaires.

          Your search engine, for example, was meant for whichever billionaire who owns a search engine and who does business in Russia. That puts him/her in the same under-suspicion boat as Trump.

  17. Colonel Smithers

    Further to the French election and the realignment on the right that David and I have written about, Jacobin has published Yesterday evening’s France 2 news featured manoeuvres on the left, so that may be written about soon. If Macron is able to get proportional representation, one of Francois Bayrou’s demands, implemented, that opens up the space for new formations. David, Expat and French Guy are on the ground and better able to comment on developments, including the chances of electoral reform.

      1. David

        Macron has said several times that he wants to introduce a “dose of proportionality” into the French system, and has recently suggested that he wants to do this within the first year of his presidency. (He could then dissolve parliament under some circumstances). It’s anyone’s guess what this means, but it’s a popular idea that has been doing the rounds for some time, and at the moment Macron is grabbing on to anything that looks modern and different, such as term limits. Macron’s main purpose will be to solidify his power base, and, since he is more popular than his party, and much better known, then a list system, which would break the traditional local allegiances and power bases of French politicians, would be attractive to him. We’ll have to wait and see what he means by this, if, that is, he’s actually decided.
        Macron’s lot say they have “invested” 428 candidates, and say they have turned down a number of former Socialists who wanted to transfer. This does not look good for the PS – they are going to get wiped out, if some of the more alarmist predictions prove to be correct. And as for Valls, he’s said that the PS is “dead” and was pinning all his hopes on Macron. Atmospherics suggest that if he crawls in a really determined way he might be given a job of some kind, but not the one he wants. The re-alignment of theLeft is under way.

  18. a different chris

    We are so far beyond insane that it isn’t even calculable.

    As linked above, “West Virginia Police Officer Sues After Being Fired for Not Shooting Black Man”, yet within a short drive of that:

    Police officers, supposedly trained to the hilt in interacting with people in dangerous situations are supposed to basically shoot on sight, literally within seconds, whereas this guy* apparently was violently attacked by two people, having his head banged against the wall, called 911 himself, yet had to go to jail and work his way thru court to convince the authorities that he needed to fire his weapon.

    *A yahoo that we all would best be without but that isn’t the point here

  19. Altandmain

    File this one under class warfare:

    Student loans are getting an interest rate rise.

    New undergraduate loans from the Department of Education are due to carry an interest rate of 4.45 percent, up from 3.76 percent for the academic year ending in June. Rates on some graduate loans are set to rise from 5.31 percent to 6 percent, while rates on loans to parents and guardians are due to experience a jump from 6.31 percent to 7 percent. For example, the cost of a $10,000 loan would increase by about $400, according to an online calculator maintained by

    Considering how interest compounds … Generation Y is going to have no hope.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Learning can be painful, sometimes.

      It seems here is another example of life-long learning/continuous education.

    2. cnchal

      > Generation Y is going to have no hope.

      You know the story about the butterfly that flaps it’s wings and starts a hurricane, well, when Milton Friedman flapped his gums in 1960, the concept of human capital was refined into “we are all capitalist now” whether you like it or not.

      Friedman too was fascinated by the notion of human capital, but from a different angle. Some junior colleagues – including Gary Becker, Friedman’s doctoral student who would make his name in this branch of economics – had made some major breakthroughs. One in particular caught Friedman’s eye. Unlike money or equipment, this type of capital cannot conceptually be separated from the individual who owns it. It’s intrinsically part of him. And by extension, someone’s human capital cannot be owned by anyone else since that would be slavery. Therefore, who exactly ought to have the responsibility of investing in it or the enjoyment of its benefits? We gain an inkling of where Friedman stood on the issue from an early paper of Becker’s, in which he showed why it’s irrational for a firm to fund employee training schemes since that same investment might one day literally walk out the door and join a rival.
      Friedman had discovered in human capital theory more than just a means for boosting economic growth. The very way it conceptualised human beings was an ideological weapon too, especially when it came to counteracting the labour-centric discourse of communism, both outside and inside the US. For doesn’t human capital theory provide the ultimate conservative retort to the Marxist slogan that workers should seize the means of production? If each person is already his own means of production, then the presumed conflict at the heart of the capitalist labour process logically dissolves. Schultz too was starting to see the light, and agreed that workers might actually be de facto capitalists: ‘labourers have become capitalists not from the diffusion of the ownership of corporation stocks, as folk law would have it, but from the acquisition of knowledge and skill that have economic value.’

      Perhaps Milton never heard of Keynes or knew anything about technological unemployment.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Another glimpse into the void. Why it is rational to hate most people who call themselves economists.

        “Oh brave new world, that has such creatures in it…”

        1. cnchal

          I am at a loss as to what advice to give, were young people to even listen.

          With ‘education’ today, you invest your future earnings into today’s debt millstone to learn the topic that will maximize your lifetime profit. If you guess wrong, that millstone goes to the grave with you.

          What I did to learn the trade, which was to serially fire my employers, isn’t really possible anymore.

  20. cyclist

    The stories mentioned in the LRB article about Britain’s ‘Prevent’ program are shocking. I had no idea as to the how far civil liberties have deteriorated there – in the NYC area I get creeped out even just seeing ‘See something – say something’ signs on the trains. But Prevent is setting up a whole apparatus to mandate compliance with this sort of crap. I’m surprised professionals have not refused to work under these conditions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Talk about free college education.

      “This course is free…on the internet.”

  21. Deschain

    The Macron photo is a fake, been photoshopped. It is metaphorically correct but should be flagged as an artist’s rendition.

  22. Synoia

    Concrete, or beaches? World’s sand running out as global construction booms

    False choice. You cannot use either Beach sand for two reasons, or River sand for one.

    Beach Sand – Round sand grains and Salt.
    River Sand – Round sand grains.

    Concrete neets sharp sand, sand grains with jagged edges, or the concrete will not become as strong under compression as required, and fail under load, because the round sand grains can slip past each other.

    Concrete is not simple.

    1. John k

      Thanks. I always thought the reverse was true, sharp grains inducing cracks, but I guess not under compression…
      So desert sand is the good stuff… Saudi corners another market!

      1. visitor

        No, desert sand has very round grains (constantly polished by rubbing against each other under the action of wind).

        To sustain its building frenzy, Dubai has to import sand…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I didn’t know that, but it makes sense.

      I was only aware of the aggregate size distribution, the optimal of which engineers had worked out years ago.

      1. visitor

        There have been scandals in countries like Morocco, where high-rise complexes collapsed because the building companies had bought cheap sand illegally mined from sea beaches — thus containing salt.

    3. Susan the other

      interesting synoia. we could always mine sand from the moon where it is as sharp and jagged as tiny razor blades… or find some place on earth where there has been no erosion for millions of years… or maybe just grind up bones.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Actually beach sand in Maine is nasty. It isn’t nice like sand on other beaches. Hard on the feet. But there are just about no beaches in Maine anyhow so I doubt anyone would go after that sand.

    5. bob

      “sharp sand” is a necessary component of concrete, but regular “beach sand” can be used as part of the aggregate mix. Sharp sand is normally volcanic in origin. Yes, sand with salt in it isn’t good. But not all sand is from the ocean. There are and were plenty of non-salt water sand sources. Rivers and lakes.

      Yes, the sharp sand is the necessary part.

    1. Aumua

      We’re all a bunch of little brats playing grown ups. That’s all I got out of it.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Ian Welsh’s article:

    Real estate prices rising faster than wages made some middle class families rich, but benefited the rich magnitudes more than the middle class.

    Money translates almost directly to power in capitalist societies and even more directly in capitalist democracies without adequate corruption controls (which is almost all of them).

    Over the years, I have always heard or read in the media that one’s should be happier with more money, in absolute inflation-adjusted basis. And I have always thought otherwise, that it’s not about how much or less one has, but relative to what others have gained or lost.

    So, if I save $1 buying on internet, I ask if the billionaire owner there will be $10 richer. Of course, I am $1 ahead of the other guy who buys the same item from a local store.

    It’s same with stock investing. I could try to buy 100 shares of one of the FAANG and I could hope for it to go up Y%, so I could make X dollars, but the guy with 10,000,000 shares, well, he would be even richer, gaining 100,000 times more. The gap between him and me will be even wider. At that juncture, you ask yourself, what is the point then? You still lose when you win.

    1. MoiAussie

      This comment on the Welsh article (which advocates the middle classes siding with the poor rather than the rich), caught my eye. I’d be interested in the reaction to it from the commentariat here, if anyone can be bothered.

      To this Canadian observer, what strikes me as most distinctive about the U.S. is the mutually reinforcing role of three tendencies which greatly limit the likelihood that the middle class will side with the underclasses: extreme individualism, overt religiosity, and anti-intellectualism. And there’s probably a fourth element: exceptionalist nationalism. These currents certainly exist elsewhere, but have achieved their most pronounced hypertrophy in the U.S.

  24. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Democrats’ nuclear option over Comey’s firing: shut down the Senate

    Do it. Please. My guess is having no operational Senate whatsoever will increase the institution’s popularity by an order of magnitude or two.

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “More than half of young people in Europe would join a ‘large-scale uprising'” — I wonder how the survey results might run in the United States. I’m taking classes part-time at a local junior college. I don’t sense a great amount of anger yet but I do sense a growing desperation which could become anger in a few short years out in the world paying off student loans.

  26. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Hanaford Tunnel Collapse — Does anyone know how their local nuclear power plant would handle various emergencies? I don’t. I live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant located what looks like a few feet above the average water level of the nearby large body of tidal water. What happens if the plant floods? The power lines supplying power to my locale seem more and more fragile. What about the power supplying the nuclear power plant? How long could it safely run if we lost our local power grid? What’s the plan? I don’t know and that is starting to worry me. Worse — I’m not sure anyone would give me a straight answer if-when I start asking around.

    1. Susan the other

      at Fukushima even though there was sea water flooding in and out and underground water washing the toxins away into the ocean underground it was a first class emergency because the electricity shut down and the pumps quit working and all the gauges were gone, etc. Just count on the worst happening. And it can explode several times up into the air as the heat builds, as we saw with Fuku.

  27. Susan the other

    about common gut bacteria migrating via the arteries into the brain and there causing lesions that lead to strokes. Until they get a handle on that one, I recommend my favorite elixir: alcohol – at your own moderation.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Will be starting another batch of mead in a few. My latest batch of banana wine is brewing away very nicely.

      I had a nice bunch of bacteria in my gut before my last ride on butt-snake — but after — some bacteria that were budds of mine took a hike.

  28. ProNewerDeal


    Robert Parry editorial on Trump firing Comey. Parry alleges that 0bama/Comey/J Brennan/J Clapper are a Deep State faction that was anti both candidates, Trump (too incompetent), HClinton (too warmongerish), to render whichever candidate won the 2016 election less effective.

    Is Parry breaking news in this editorial? I’d love to get your take on this Perry editorial. IMHO this appears in the news story category that deserves to be dominating the news cycle, but is virtually ignored. Word to 28 Pages; & Atty General Holder claiming HSBC is 2 Big 2 Jail despite being busted for money laundering for Al Qa3da & S1nal0a Cartel, thereby showing the War on T3rr0r & War on Drugz are both not earnestly waged & motivated by the reasons the FedGov & BigMedia claims.

    1. xformbykr

      Parry is credible as a source, and he seems to be putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But who knows if there will be any corroboration?

    1. Massinissa

      Even if it were true, the election was won by such a landslide a few mutilated ballots probably wouldn’t have changed much. Le Pen only got like 35% of the vote. They would have needed to mutilate, what, 15-20% of the damn ballots to have stolen victory from her? This isn’t Florida 2000 here where there was a paper thin margin between the two candidates.

  29. robnume

    Article on Whole Paycheck: Interestingly enough, nowhere does the Times article state the real problem with Whole Foods, besides their overpriced goods: they sell tons of GMO fruits and vegetables. I believe that most people who shop there are not even aware of this fact. Shameless company. At which I no longer shop.

  30. ewmayer

    Re. Trust and Inequality: Given how much of our present-day rampant inequality is rooted in government-abetted elite looting and fraud by de facto legally immunized criminals, why that correlating with a loss of trust by hoi polloi should strike anyone as non-obvious baffles me. But this piece of hifalutin bafflegab is from the IMF, after all – reminiscent of the Davos crowd holding high-priced confabs in which there is hueing and crying and handwringing about “why the rabble don’t love us for having made their lives so much better.” Should’ve gone under Guillotine Watch.

  31. Plenue

    >An atomic town revels in its plutonium past as tunnel collapse raises contamination concerns Washington Post

    ‘Bomber’s Drive-Thru sells milkshakes and burgers. The Richland High School mascot is the Bomber, and a mushroom cloud is painted on the gymnasium floor. There’s Atomic Bowl, Atomic Foods, Atomic Auto Body, Atomic Scuba.’

    ‘The Atomic Ale Brewpub & Eatery’s menu highlights a “Reactor Core pizza” with “nuclear butter” and sells house-made beers such as “Half-Life Hefeweizen” and “Oppenheimer Oatmeal Stout.”‘

    This is psychotic. I can only assume no Japanese-Americans live in the town.

  32. robnume

    Yves, top notch Links from you today. Here’s hoping you won’t be out of the game for an extended length of time and that you have someone(s)! to help you through. Have a great weekend and thanks for your overwhelming devotion to your blog. It’s indispensable.

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