Links 5/19/17

Bear stuck in tree for more than 11 hours finally comes down; climbs up 2nd tree WJLA

As Allegations Swirl Around SoftBank, It Calls Them ‘Sabotage’ WSJ

Brazil’s Temer refuses to resign in face of investigation Reuters

Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. As Lord Byron did not quite write: “Posterity will ne’er survey / A Nobler grave than this: / Here lie the bones of Roger Ailes: / Stop, traveller…” and remember this is a family blog.

Four Lessons from the Launch of the News Revenue Hub Local News Lab

Julian Assange: Sweden drops investigation against Wikileaks founder based in Ecuador’s London embassy Independent. Deck: “Scotland Yard says it will still arrest Mr Assange over skipping bail if he leaves embassy.” So…

Chelsea Manning, who served 7 years in prison for handing U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks, to be featured in Vogue, sources say Los Angeles Times

US looks at extending laptop ban to all flights FT

Cage director risks prison over refusal to disclose password to police Middle East Eye. Trouble at the border.

Facebook to Vestager: Let’s be friends Politico. Be sure to come back to read Maciej Cegłowski’s post on this topic later today.

Why Hardware Engineers Have to Think Like Cybercriminals, and Why Engineers Are Easy to Fool IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L).

The need for urgent collective action to keep people safe online: Lessons from last week’s cyberattackMicrosoft on the Issues

The end of globalisation? Don’t be so sure Alan Beattie, FT. Jeff Bezos, increasingly concentrated shipping interests, port facilities, and commercial real estate seem to all assume globalization is proceeding apace. And Ann Pettifor comments: “This by Alan Beattie manages to write about globalisation as if financialisation non-existent.”


Stratfor explains how China’s Belt and Roads Initiative might reshape Europe Fabius Maximus (Re Silc). Re Silc: “We will fund groups to kill it and blow it up.”

Stiglitz’s China Whiz Says Excavator Demand Shows Growth Isn’t Over Bloomberg


5 Objectives To Watch For During Trump’s First Overseas Trip NPR

$110 Billion Weapons Sale to Saudis Has Jared Kushner’s Personal Touch NYT

‘Our Enemies Want to Starve Us’ Der Speigel. Yemen. No winsome children with verified Twitter accounts in Yemen, oddly.

Israel loses its grip on democracy Le Monde Diplomatique

Ignored By Western Media, Syrians Describe the Nightmare the Armed Opposition Brought Them Alternet


9 must-reads on the British election Politico

May Seeks Voters’ Permission to Walk Away From Brexit Deal Bloomberg. Musical interlude

Brussels to back euro clearing relocation after Brexit, warns Euronext FT

‘Brexit devastated me, but now I back the Tories’: Re-leavers on how they will vote Guardian

French Election

Thank Minitel for the French Election JSTOR Daily

France’s secret plan to ‘Protect the Republic’ in case of Marine Le Pen victory Telegraph. Hoo boy.

New Cold War

Democrats get a special counsel – but still want more McClatchy

Appointment of Mueller could complicate other probes into alleged Russian meddling WaPo

The Scope of the Special Counsel Appointment Is Totally Inadequate EmptyWheel

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein knew Trump wanted Comey fired before he penned memo USA Today

Russia Probe Heats Up as Trump Tries to Limit Damage WSJ. The deck: “Grand jury subpoena shows prosecutors focusing in part on Michael Flynn’s work for Turkish interests.”

Trump needs private attorney to navigate complex probe, his ex-lawyer says WaPo. Lawyering up? Not a good look.

* * *

What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump LawFare (DK). Worth a read, IMNSHO primarily for shining a light on social mores in The Blob. “That said, sometimes, as friends do, we have lunch, and when we do so, we talk about things of mutual interest….”

Do High-Level Leaks Suggest a Conspiracy? Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative. By Betteridge’s Law, no, which is in fact Giraldi’s conclusion, and with which I agree. Old power players know the game and know each other’s moves. They also know what to commit to paper, and what not to. “Sometimes we have lunch….”

Latest Trump-Russia report lacks ‘smoking gun’ of illegality Thomas H. Henriksen, The Hill. Hoover Institute dude on shoddy reporting from Reuters, mocked here. Shorter Henriksen: Get a grip, guys.

Get a Grip Ian Welsh. And I swear I wrote “Get a grip” just above before I read Welsh!

The post-Trump era? Doug Henwood. Betteridge’s Law once more.

When the Trump Coup-makers Cometh Robert Parry, Consortium News

The Special Council Inquisition – Bad For Trump – And All of Us Moon of Alabama

* * *

Trump loyalists pay little heed to revelations rocking DC AP

Lessons for Trump Detractors, Members of Congress From a Loyalty Expert Inside Elections (PU).

Trump Transition

Who Is Joseph Lieberman? Trump’s Top Choice For FBI Director Is A Supporter Of Mass Surveillance International Business Times (MR). Introduced to the national stage in the year 2000 by none other than [genuflects] Al Gore.

Republicans gearing up for major changes to federal pay and benefits Federal Radio

Net Neutrality and Data Equity Inside Higher Ed

Health Care

Three-Year Impacts Of The Affordable Care Act: Improved Medical Care And Health Among Low-Income Adults Health Affairs

Obamacare premiums could skyrocket next year amid uncertain repeal efforts McClatchy

Pressure mounts on Republicans to fund payments to insurers Modern Health Care

Democratic attorneys general seek to intervene in Obamacare case Reuters

House May Need to Vote Again on GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill Bloomberg

Even With No Love from DNC, Sanders-Backed Montana Longshot Surges Common Dream (MR).

John Kasich, Bernie Sanders differ on how to handle Trump crisis (video) Cleveland Plain-Dealer

US Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors ShadowProof (PU).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Aadhaar and an Omnipresent State That Will Never Forget You The Wire (J-LS). Yikes.

Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System Gizmodo

Class Warfare

Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’ Guardian. Yet another Silicon Valley hellscape for workers.

The gig economy Deloitte University Press. “Deloitte University” is as much a university as Hamburger U, but the piece still interesting, even if it is a glorified consultant’s pitch.

In the World’s Most Expensive City, 1 in 10 Maids Sleeps in a Kitchen, Toilet, or Corner of the Living Room TIme

Associational Life in America Conversable Economist

Tech Companies Should Speak Up for Refugees, Not Only High-Skilled Immigrants HBR. If only for PR purposes, to counter the unfortunate impression it’s all about cheap labor from H1Bs….

The fight to rethink (and reinvent) nuclear power Vox (PU).

The left is probably going to lose on climate change Carl Beijer

Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea NYT

history of the entire world, i guess bill wurtz, YouTube (PU). Long, but fun.

Antidote du jour (via):

“Wary blenny fish pokes its head out from a Caribbean reef.” Wise fish.

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. MoiAussie

    US looks at extending laptop ban to all flights

    This is getting a bit confusing. About half recent articles on “laptop ban” say extension is likely, while others say it’s off. For example, the Boston Herald from 4 hours ago says

    Trans-Atlantic flights laptop ban called ‘off the table’

    It seems that TA flights won’t be singled out, but maybe all flights will have bans imposed?

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      The FT article reports that the US is mulling extending the laptop ban to all incoming flights to the US from anywhere in the world and also notes that at this point, no decision has yet been taken on such a wider ban.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What about private jet flights?

        Presumably the billionaire owner can order the captain to retrieve the laptop from cargo hold anytime after take off.

        “They are really different from the rest of us.”

        1. Loblolly

          Dang rich people, taking private flights, trying to bomb themselves with their own laptops.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Only once in a while…perhaps feeling guilty over something.

            Other than that, rich people can have their laptops when they fly their private jets.

            But not the rest of us. “Leave home without the laptop. But don’t leave without your credit cards.”

    2. Dead Dog

      Time for rest of world to ban Americans from flying IMO.

      Sure, it’s possible to shape explosives and hide them in a laptop – as say the battery.

      Same could be said for smart phones.

      Where is this going to end?

      Traveling by air is becoming a chore, something to avoid, when it used to be fun.

      1. John k

        I used to love seeing the world from the air. Now the hassle to get there is pretty onerous. Better to drive if under 300 miles.

    3. cyclist

      Now if someone could only design exploding clothes, then we could have naked fights!

      1. HotFlash

        Oh my. Look around you and reconsider. I for one am thankful that most of my fellow humans wear clothes most of the time.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Nekkid and blindfolded.

          That’s the only way to fly…the Abu Ghraib Way.

          In a way, we are all prisoners here in this blue dot of a planet. How many times have you screamed “Get me out of here?”

          “Sorry. life imprisonment.”

          “You can’t go home again, you star-dust children, until you have completed your sentence.”

          1. Matt

            That’ll be quite the sight for the rich people watching on their iPads at the LAX luxury terminal.

      2. Oregoncharles

        It’s been done – to be precise, exploding diapers – but the TSA just didn’t go there. I think plastique could be shaped into clothing. The detonator might be a challenge. But I agree with HotFlash: there’s a lot (literally) that we don’t want to see.

        Would make the flights a lot less crowded, though.

        Come to think, a woman got in trouble on one flight for wearing too little – and did a very effective job of shaming the airline about it. I think she was a Vegas showgirl, apparently dressed for a hot date. A couple of years ago, an early example of airline-shaming.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Why can’t a nice lady wearing a swimsuit fly?

          We’re so reactionary…perhaps not today, but maybe in the future, progressives judging us by their future moral standards would condemn us…rightly (because we can judge those before us).

        2. cyclist

          Aside from those liquid bombs that led to the banning a bottle of anything over 4 oz., they probably shouldn’t be told that some gasses, like oxygen mixed with hydrogen, could be very dangerous. Gas ban coming next?

      1. Molly

        I didn’t try that this time, but often Googling finds only the headline in several places, with a link back to the original article, which is paywalled. This happens with anything in the WSJ also. I wouldn’t read either enough to justify a subscription.

    1. UserFriendly

      in chrome ctrl + shift + O then right click ‘add page’ name it whatever you want and put everything in the next line as the url


      open the FT link in incognito mode (ctrl + shift + N) once you see the paywall click the bookmark you made and then it will ask if you want to leave facebook, just click ok, and no, you don’t need to have a facebook.

      In FF it’s Ctrl + shift + B then right click add bookmark then same as above.

      If you use a mac I can’t help you they drive me nuts.

      1. Molly

        I am an IT professional. The old Mac vs. Windows argument is SO yesterday. I have been a Mac user since they came out in 1984, used to do Mac support (or direct those who did) at two universities. Macs have the same capabilities as WinTel and still are more user friendly.

        1. UserFriendly

          Wonderful for you to like them, I can’t ever get anything done on them so saying they are user friendly is relative.

    2. John Wright

      Re the FT Anti-globalism book reviews article, I went to “Google News” and searched for the title

      The FT writer concludes with “Political courage and leadership may yet reverse what has until recently seemed like an unstoppable tide (of anti-globalism)”

      He is arguing that globalization will continue after the proper wise leadership follows in the same old globalism path. He asserts the near miss of HRC in the USA and failure of Le Pen in France indicate there is not overwhelming support for populism.

      What he does not seem to appreciate is that the “populist” standard bearers of Donald Trump and Marie Le Pen were not particularly appealing candidates.

      If the globalization advocates continue as before, causing diminished economic prospects for many developed countries populations, future successful political candidates could arise who are real populists who appeal to even more voters.

      But this is the Financial Times, which is largely unread by other than the global elite, who will like the “nothing to worry about, move on” message.

      It is another story for the developed nations’ citizens who are watching global labor wage rate arbitrage in action.

      1. Anonymous2

        Well I read it and I do not think I would be regarded as part of the global elite. I certainly don’t get invited to Davos!

          1. Grebo

            The Sun was never a Labour paper, it’s purpose has always been to draw the working class to the right. For a while it supported New Labour, but that did not reflect a change of heart at Murdoch Central.

  2. QuarterBack

    Chuck L – Thank you for the IEEE link on the role and trends of hardware in cyber security. This is a topic that I have been trying to convey to the (investors to the) cyber R&D community for several years now. I was also pleased to see that the article included discussion on monetization’s role in the dynamic. It was intel and observations on this monetization that elevated the issue on my personal radar, and why I consider the threat to be so serious. I have long said that if you weaponize something, you make it dangerous, but if you monetize something, it becomes a Frankenstein that will walk, breath, and eat on its own.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Sorry — I don’t fully understand your comment — so please take that into account in reading my response. I’m very wary of hardware engineers thinking like cybercriminals. For example consider the following features I would attribute to hardware engineers “thinking like cybercriminals” [probably encouraged by the same marketing people enthusiastic for planned obsolescence]: car radios that brick when the battery fails — unless you can find the magic code number [try that as the third owner of a used car!]; ATAPI commands built into the I/O interfaces of many hard drives which let you set a code to lock up your hard drive; features like the Toshiba laptop “bricking” feature that let an individual set a password on the boot sequence. There is a branch of security engineering that specializes in hardware security. I’d rather drag in a few engineers trained in that specialty and also run extensive tests and red-teaming efforts to verify the safety of hardware. Some banks have gone through this drill in efforts to protect their ATM machines. Remote access is one thing but a lot of hardware needs to protect against physical access as well.

      As far as the massive DOS attacks using botnets of home appliances — I place that disaster at the feet of the FCC. Which I guess might come around to your comment about monetization — ? Does the total capture of the FCC by Communications Cartels focused on their profits in the next 15 minutes capture some part of what you mean by monetization?

      Recall how Elliot took down Evil Corp in the “Mr. Robot” series. What he did was an example of an insider attack using physical access to a hardware device. And while recalling the STUXnet attack — ever wonder whether the Chinese may have introduced a few hardware embedded vulnerabilities into the computer hardware and electronics we buy from them [including the stuff in some of our government’s military and security networks] — after carefully dismantling and disemboweling our own electronics manufacturing capabilities?

      1. nowhere

        I’m curious about this statement:

        “As far as the massive DOS attacks using botnets of home appliances — I place that disaster at the feet of the FCC. “

        Would you expand your thinking a bit, please?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I’m thinking the FCC has some control over the Internet — perhaps I’m wrong. Some government agency has some sort of control over the Internet. Whatever agency that is has or should have an obligation to protect the public and should not have allowed anything so frivolous and patently stupid as the uncontrolled proliferation of home appliances accessible via the Internet. The bandwidth considerations alone — given our crappy Internet in the U.S. — should have stopped such nonsense.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          This is my 3rd attempt at reply. SkyNet hates me!

          I assume the FCC has some authority over the Internet and how it is used — if that’s not so substitute for ‘FCC’ the authority that does have authority. By my estimation the IoT idea is a remarkably frivolous use of Internet bandwidth. Why should users share our limited bandwidth with a proliferation of IoT devices? Getting past my strong bias against the IoT — why should these autonomous devices be given Internet access without some minimal control over their “cyber-safety”? I’m in favor of open-access and an Internet free from control but I draw the line at providing that access and freedom wily-nilly to autonomous consumer devices — just as I believe power extension cords should have some sort of UL testing.

      2. QuarterBack

        I’m sorry if my comment was confusing. Let me try to further explain.

        Part of my job is supporting decisions about what R&D projects should be funded, and how much. It is no surprise that the topic of “cyber” has been getting increasing attention and funding. As cyber investment grew, I started to see taxonomy arguments over “what is cyber?”. The subtext being “what WE do is ‘cyber’ (so give us the cyber R&D money rather than this other proposal that is ‘cyber-related’ but not ‘cyber'”). The vast majority of ‘cyber security’ work tracks with the common understanding that cyber is about the network, transport, and application layers, therefore most funded R&D considers threats from network or wireless or various software attacks. My concern is that because Moore’s Law is begetting faster, smaller, more powerful chips and sensors, these devices that operate at the physical layer are becoming more critical, but have not been getting enough R&D attention because people don’t appreciate the role of the physical layer in cyber security.

        As to my monetization point, various attack and exploit mechanisms can be quite disruptive and damaging, but nobody has figured out how to make a revenue stream from them. These types of vulnerabilities tend to be evolved by military and trolls interested in breaking things and pissing people off. However, if someone figures out how to use a cyber attack to make $$$, the whole dynamic changes. The profit motive bring more and more (bad actor) expert attention and the threat, grows rapidly like a cancer into broader venues and morphing along the way.

        This is where we are with the physical cyber threat. ATM skimming revenue give life to the Frankenstein of physical attacks. The IEEE article raised the specter of using covert monitoring, disruption or altering of sensor data to play hedge fund tricks to affect return of stock bets, or to gain competitive advantage. This is why I am trying to get more investment into physical layer cyber R&D, which is often referred to as ‘anti-tamper’. Anti-tamper has its own taxomy issues too, because most understand it as limited to supply chain.

  3. Alex Morfesis

    Hopefully brazils temer is replaced by tiririca…who although an actual clown, has received the highest amount of votes of any living politician in brazil…the only person who ever obtained more votes is the now deceased Eneas…

    Tiririca conducted probably the most irreverent political campaign in the history of the world…an amazing story unknown outside of brazil…

    1. RabidGandhi

      Minor correction: the highest amount of votes for congress of any living Brazilian politician. Since the presidency is chosen on a federal level, most presidential candidates have much higher counts than Tiriririca.

    2. jawbone

      Wasn’t protecting himself from legal difficulties one of the reasons why Temer rammed impeachment through? And many in his party had similar legal issues concerning financial shenanigans and thus welcomed a lack of further prosecution.

      Will they get rid of Temer or let him get away with such obvious illegalities and lack of ethics?

      What role will the Trump State Dept. play? Repub congress people?

      Obama’s people certainly seemed to wish Temer well….

  4. MoiAussie

    The left is probably going to lose on climate change

    The piece isn’t as bad as the stupid headline. Everyone’s going to lose. The focus is that politics-as-usual has no chance of stopping global warming.

    It is unrealistic to believe that we are really going to make those [decarbonization] deadlines. Maybe if we had gotten serious about climate change fifteen years ago, or even ten, we might have had a chance, but it’s too late now.

    The needed wholesale transformation of energy, agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing will not happen in time…The result is that we are only forty years away from disaster. In 2052 the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will be moving toward levels that will trigger irreversible large-scale damage.

    Not sure what’s special about 2052, but hard to disagree about the inevitability of it. What’s shocking is the overwhelming compartmentalisation of thought going on – governments make noises about meeting emission targets, but new coal mines and oil/gas fields are seen as economic must haves, coz jawbs.
    Here in Oz our idiot governments are spending taxpayer dollars to help Adani kill our collective future.

    1. Eclair

      And, here in the US, as the planet hurtles toward end-game environmental crisis, the federal government, as well as assorted state legislatures, are putting into place and implementing already existing laws that criminalize citizens who protest the industries and infrastructure that are consigning our planet to destruction.

      “Federal prosecutions are viewed as one aspect of an escalating effort by domestic security agencies, police, politicians, and fossil fuel industries to break the spirit of resistance movements nationwide.

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said more than 30 separate anti-protest bills were introduced since November 8, representing “an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century.”

      “The government is looking at how to deal with protests nationally, and these federal prosecutions are certainly a part of that,” Ellison concluded.”

      And, they are beginning with prosecutions of six indigenous water protectors from Standing Rock.

    2. Adamski

      Yep. Agree with persuasion myself and not temper tantrums. But nothing’s gonna get done about global warming til a big chunk of the Arctic breaks off and floats down to flatten Manhattan.

      Nationalise the fossil fuel companies, tell management to maximise profits, but use it to replace the energy supply with renewables and nuclear.

      If Beijer thinks persuasion won’t work though, does he mean to imply he’d favour violence? Blow up coal power stations?

        1. jawbone

          TPTB will get laws passed which allow everyone owning waterfront land to move X miles back from the soon to be flooded shoreline, keeping their place as those who get great views and lovely unobscured sunrises and sunsets. It’s their right, see? Coz they have the money, right?

          Those just behind the elites’ lot lines will get the lots just behind the waterfront ownership class in the new narrower FL. So on and so forth.

          Only the poorest will be told to the hell out of Paradise.

          If such legislation is enacted, one can only hope for massive inundations from stronger storms and hurricanes…. /snark

      1. Charger01

        It reminds me a scene for Timothy Egan’s Depression era book Worst Hard Time, when the National Resource Conservation Service was struggling to make it through committees in Congress, it took an enormous dirt storm blowing in from Oklahoma and Texas (into DC!) before Congress would act. I think the same logic applies here.

    3. Grumpy Engineer

      Agreed. Continually rising CO2 levels are inevitable. And people’s ability to miss the big picture can be spectacular. For example, see a liberal advocacy group gush about “cleaner” coal-fired power stations in China:

      What the catch? Well, the catch is that these stations will be the primary source of power for China. They’ll be running all the time. And they will run for decades. In the US, the primary source of power is now natural gas, and the coal-fired stations are only using during periods of peak demand. Most of the time, US coal-fired stations are off.

      And unfortunately, we’ve made the tremendous tactical error of pursuing renewable energy as the solution to climate change. Sure, it works great for that first 5% to 10% of power production. But after that, curtailments and the need for energy storage ruin the economics, and progress grinds to a halt. It’s happened in Spain, Denmark, Germany, and even China:

      We should have gone nuclear. The pebble-bed technology described by Vox is definitely one approach that should be considered. Another is fast-neutron reactors:

      Alas, we’re too scared to do so.

      1. nowhere

        I’m open to some clarifying information, but this:

        “In the US, the primary source of power is now natural gas, and the coal-fired stations are only using during periods of peak demand. Most of the time, US coal-fired stations are off.”

        Is the inverse of my understanding of power operations. Coal provides base load demand (starting these plants takes a considerable amount of time) and gas is much more easily started and cycled (on the order of 20 minutes) to meet peak demand. From Wikipedia:

        Because of the cost of building an efficient power plant, if a peaker plant is only going to be run for a short or highly variable time it does not make economic sense to make it as efficient as a base load power plant. In addition, the equipment and fuels used in base load plants are often unsuitable for use in peaker plants because the fluctuating conditions would severely strain the equipment. For these reasons, nuclear, geothermal, waste-to-energy, coal and biomass are rarely, if ever, operated as peaker plants.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Wikipedia’s information isn’t quite right. Because fracking has driven down natural gas prices, it has become the preferred fuel for periods of moderate electrical demand. As a result, more power is produced with gas than with coal:

          And while coal isn’t very good for “peaker” duty (where a simply-cycle gas turbine might be turned on and off several times per day), they’re fairly well suited for “load-following” duty, where they run at varying levels of reduced power to make up the demand not covered by “base load” plants. Smaller stations excel at this. Gas turbines don’t work as well for load-following duty (especially the older ones), given that they take a bigger efficiency hit when running at part load.

          Because of the altered economics caused by fracking, gas turbines are generating a higher percentage of US electricity than ever before. Because overall electrical demand has remained fairly constant during this time, less power is generated by coal, all of which is reflected in the chart on the EIA website. Net result: more idle time for coal-fire stations.

          1. nowhere

            I agree about gas becoming a large portion of electrical power generation, and thus coal plants have been being taken offline. I just disagree with the phrasing of coal being used for peak demand, though your correction to load following is more accurate.

            There is no information in the link you provided that indicates what portion of coal plants have switched from base load to load following. Do you have any additional links that provides this data? I searched earlier in the day, but I couldn’t really find anything that was that granular.

            1. Grumpy Engineer

              Alas, I don’t have any granular data to which I can provide links. My data source is mainly anecdotes coming from people in the business. I agree that my initial phrasing was a little sloppy and that I should have said “high demand” instead of “peak demand”, but does that really matter?

              After all, we both agree that in the US, power generation by gas has risen sharply and that power generation by coal has fallen sharply. This clearly implies that US coal fired stations are running less, which in turn means that they’re producing less CO2.

              And unfortunately, the situation in China is not the same. They have no meaningful natural gas production to speak of, which means that coal will pretty much always be their fuel of choice. Heck. It’s basically their only choice.

              That’s why I found the American Progress article so annoying. They gush about China’s new stations, but these stations are being built primarily for traditional pollutant control. [SOx, NOx, particulates, etc.] The increased efficiency will help reduce CO2 emissions a little bit, but overall, Chinese CO2 emissions will still remain strong because they’re planning on running these new stations all the time. This isn’t good news. It’s bad news.

              And yes, the US coal fleet is older and less efficient, but it’s also being operated less and less every year. This is good news. Why bother upgrading equipment that is slowly being phased out?

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Like oil, coal, and natural gas — fissionable uranium is a limited resource and — correct me if I’m wrong — most of it doesn’t come from here. While pebble-bed technology sounds cool — how far are you willing to trust the Nuclear Power Industrial Complex given its past and present history? [How would our aging nuclear power plants manage getting through a 6 months outage of the power grid? A back-up based on diesel generators — (someone please tell me if there are better back-ups) — to run the cooling pumps leaves me just a little uncomfortable.] Are you willing to run breeder reactors to fuel your pebble-beds? Do you view nuclear power as a stop-gap until something better is invented and if so what? We are just 30 more years to succeeding at efforts to build fusion reactors and have been for quite while now. … So yes, you can say I’m too scared to fall back on nuclear power. But I agree with your assessment of renewable energy. The answer I see is that we will have to do with less power and find ways to get by on roughly 10% of the power we currently use (estimating based on your figures). I’m afraid it’s getting late in the game to rely on new technology of any sort. Now is the time to rethink the “game” — our “way-of-life” — and adapt as best we can to those limitations we can fortell for the future.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Heh. I’ve actually met a number of people who work in nuclear power stations, and my overwhelming impression is that they’re an extraordinarily uptight bunch of people who are dedicated to getting absolutely everything right. Even crap that doesn’t matter. So yes, I trust the station personnel. The corporations in charge… Not so much.

          But that said, I don’t think we have a choice. We can’t get down to 10% of our current electricity consumption. It’s not even remotely feasible. Remember that over 50% of our electricity is dedicated to heating and cooling, and that doesn’t even account for the heating done by direct combustion of fuel oil, propane, or natural gas. For us to eliminate CO2 emissions while keeping people’s homes habitable during the winter, we need to replace all of that with non-fossil electricity.

          If you throw in the increased electrical demand that electrical vehicles will eventually generate (which we want because they’ll replace CO2-spewing gasoline and diesel engines), electricity demand will go up. Not down. And it needs to be cheap, lest people adopt the “London solution” (a.k.a. wood stoves) in the face of rising electricity and fuel prices:

          The only other alternative is forced population control and forced migration to regions with temperature climates requiring little HVAC. I’d rather take the risks of nuclear than impose this tremendous disruption on our society.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Since Chernobyl made it very clear that the operators’ personal lives are on the line, your impression of them is probably correct. ditto for the corporations, whose CEOs live far, far away.

            Yes, fear. 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, now Fukushima: quite enough. And Hanford, just for a bonus. Remember, the worst Hanford releases were INTENTIONAL, for an experiment. So no, we don’t trust the engineers, either. They’re like anyone else.

            Ultimately, it’s going to be conservation, doing without, and adjustment, with renewables taking some of the edge off. Nuclear power can’t take effect for at least 10 years: too late.

          2. different clue

            How much indoor climate control could be done or maintained without fuel or electricity?

            If a house or building could be super-insulated, could it then be heated or cooled at least partly by direct solar energy or other approaches?

            Could various applications of Harold Hay’s rooftop thermal-mass pond and moveable insulation panels be applied to harvesting night-time chill and directing into the building during the daytime?

            Could all the different things written about and/or designed by people like Steve Baer of Zomeworks be retro-applied to buildings already existing?

            How much could we reduce the use of fuel or electricity in indoor climate control if we applied such approaches?

            Also, no one has ever said what the individual per-capita end user use of electricity is per capita at the final retail home-dweller end user end point per individual end user. The question is always ALways ALWAYS igNORED, no matter how redundantly it is asked. Why is there such a deeply entrenched refusal to ever EVer EVER answer this question?

            1. Grumpy Engineer

              If you want to see per-capita energy consumption, look here:

              Sort the list by “average power per capita”. Most of the countries at the top of the list are ones that have really harsh winters: Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Finland, and Sweden. All of these countries consume more electricity per capita than the US. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s their weather.

              Why haven’t these countries adopted super-insulation or Harold Hay’s rooftop thermal-mass pond and movable insulation panels? I don’t know the exact answer, but it’s probably because they’re too expensive, too unreliable (the thought of moving parts in the winter makes me shudder), or they fail to perform as advertised:


              Also near the top of the list are several Gulf states where the summers are really brutal. The chances of seeing massive energy efficiency improvements coming out of them is even slimmer. They like their AC.

              1. different clue

                Thank you for this. It is certainly a good start. It doesn’t yet answer the question of “retail homedweller personal end-use within the home”. It appears to be an overall average of all electricity used everywhere throughout the economy averaged to the per capita share-of-use. If I can find somewhere else anything about the “average specifically household use” then I can work backwards to see how much of this figure is for economic use beyond and outside the household.

                I have no idea how much electricity I use outside the house . . at work, at the library, in every retail establishment I ever patronize, etc. I know that within the four walls of my own personal dwelling unit I use up to 3.7 kilowatt-hours of electric current per day in a bad billmonth and down to 2.2 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a good billmonth. And my most recent billmonth was a very good ( 2.2 kilowatt-hours per day) month. But I don’t know how that compares with any other homedwelling enduser’s use within their own four walls.

                As to why these no-fuel-from-outside techniques have still not been adopted . . . they have never been revisited. Would the same problems still be unsolvable today? Until electricity costs a “thousand dollars a pound”, we won’t even know, because we won’t even be price-tortured into finding it out and giving it a try.

                It might be easiest to semi-de-electrify in the mid-latitude temperate countries like . . . America. The super-hot and the super-cold might indeed be out of luck.

                I currently live in a co-op dwelling unit. When I first moved in, it was a live-in thermos in terms of heat retention. Over the years the co-op has sent workmen through to “fix” this-and-that, and every time they pass through, they compromise the insulation a little bit more.
                So that now my dwelling unit is a thermal collander for immediate heat-drainage instead of the heat-retention live-in thermos it used to be.

                If I ever move into a real house and yard of my very own, then I will see what kind of indoor climate control can be made possible with least possible electricity use or outside fuel use.

                1. Grumpy Engineer

                  Check out the following for breakdown of residential vs commercial vs industrial:


                  Note that the percentages can vary by climate. In really hot or cold regions, the fraction consumed by residential is usually higher because houses present a larger “exterior surface to volume” ratio than large commercial or industrial facilities do.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I’m just going to put this here:

      Soundgarden – Hands All Over

      Hands all over the eastern border
      You know what? I think we’re falling
      From composure
      Hands all over western culture
      Ruffling feathers and turning eagles into vultures

      Got my arms around baby brother
      Put your hands away
      Your gonna kill your mother, kill your mother
      And I love her

      Hands all over the coastal waters
      The crew men thank her
      Then lay down their oily blanket
      Hands all over the inland forest
      In a striking motion trees fall down
      Like dying soldiers

      Hands all over the peasants daughter
      She’s our bride
      She’ll never make it out alive
      Hands all over words I utter
      Change them into what you want to
      Like balls of clay
      Put your hands away
      Your gonna kill your mother
      And I love her

      RIP Chris Cornell

      1. MtnLife

        Super sad. His music was a comforting solace during some rough times as a teen. I had the great fortune to see Soundgarden play live. He did an amazing solo acoustic version of Black Hole Sun that got the tens of thousands in attendance singing along as one – it was magical.

        “Times are gone for honest men…”

        1. lyman alpha blob

          They were one of the ones I missed seeing back in my Seattle days, but just barely. In the early 90s clubs would often have shows with a minor local band and ‘special guest’ which required you to be in the know to figure out who the band was, but luckily I had a lot of friends in bands who were. So I heard Soundgarden was playing at the Crocodile on Xmas night at midnight and went down to Belltown, but everything at the club was dark with no signs of life anywhere. We went around the block a few times and then gave up, figuring it was a bogus rumor. Woke up the next day to find out doors opened just a few minutes after we’d left and Soundgarden put on a great show. Always figured I’d have another chance to see them though…

          His thoughtful and melancholy music always has a way of making me feel better. He really was a tremendous talent and the circumstances surrounding his passing are heartbreaking.

    5. CD

      We’ll see real action and policy on climate change when the summer homes of Senators and hedge-funders get washed away.

      When this happens often enough, you’ll see all the horses suddenly take off.

  5. jfleni

    RE; Roger Ailes Was One of the Worst Americans Ever.

    Don’t forget that he was just the shill-daddy, bad as he was; the real evil was none other than the kangaroo-in-chief himself.

    1. polecat

      Which .. uh .. roo are you referring to ??
      I believe there are several .. at least .. and that’s not even counting the Tazmanian Devils covering their backs !

      1. Mike Mc

        His very successful promotion of one Richard M. Nixon is the inflection point where our Road to Perdition began.

        The combination of Nixon’s very real political skills via Ailes’ very real media skills gave us Nixon twice (mostly), Cambodia, Paris Peace Talks kabuki and treason, Watergate then Reagan then Bush – even Clinton, who like Obama before him was more Republican than Democrat, and finally now Trump. (There are many arguments to be made about how exactly we wound up with a reality TV show star and NYC real estate hustler as the 45th President of these not so United States, but that story is still unfolding, dang it.)

        Yeah, yeah, Murdoch and Fox News, all that and a bag of chips. But the Nixon/Ailes hook up was foundational to all that came afterward.

    2. FiddlerHill

      I thought Taibbi’s piece on the whole an entirely justified (and often poetic) vilification of Allies — except for one thing. It wasn’t Fox news or Allies who made Trump’s presidency possible. It was the DNC’s death wish which made it possible. Virtually ANY other candidate except HRC would, I think it’s clear, have defeated Trump, notwithstanding Fox and Allies.

  6. paul

    That politico list certainly matches the outlook of those who produce and control election coverage.

    The tories are going to win,get over it.

    The bit about the young woman taking sedgefield had one redeeming sentence:

    Across the region, the Conservative strategy is clear: Theresa May.

    That,(plus ulsterisation) has been the play in Scotland, the person not the party and never the policies.

    This is the strangest election I have ever seen, the bbc is pretty much an open sewer connected to conservative central office.
    Labour has ‘detailed questions’ to answer while the vaguest of tory manifestos is judged necessary for ‘room to maneuver’ in these difficult times.
    Corbyn is a poor performer, but May will not admit unscripted scrutiny.

    I suppose you can say the tories are being honest, prosperity for the few will be excavated from the poverty of the many.

    I wonder if craig murray is right, and we are going to have that stoutest of neoconservatives,Liam Fox as chancellor of the exchequer. This is a man,while perhaps anti gay marriage, has strong social values.

    His passionate interest in education led to his frequent visits to his future business partner while the lad was at university, and,no doubt, london’s pressured housing situation persuaded him to make room in the marital home for the same. Graduate employment is equally dear, and his young friend learned that company formation is best allied to his best friend’s government portfolio.

    I feel my head falling into my hands these days.

    1. Clive

      I’d weep if it wouldn’t make me even more depressed at the sheer awfulness of it all. The Morning Star has a good take down of the BBC and its faux neutrality. But for every Morning Star reader there is of course about a million Daily Mail or Telegraph readers so that’s of no benefit whatever.

      It’s like I’m living in my mother-in-law’s head. All “we’ve worked hard to get what we have” and “we’ve been careful and not extravagant like all those kids today, always on their mobile phones, if there weren’t doing that, they’d be able to afford a mortgage”, “why don’t those refugees stay in their own countries?” etc. etc. etc.

    2. Dead Dog

      I don’t even live there and have same feelings.

      Our ABC journos are the same. They have seen what happens to those that criticise the status quo and it encourages a group-think mentality where no one is really investigative anymore.

      I thought that the UK was ready for a populist like Corbyn, particularly after Brexit, but I was wrong.

      It would appear that the MSM are winning the propaganda war. Here as well

      1. Anonymous2

        The trouble is, in the UK, it is the MS press who more often than not control the politicians. The Conservatives, I see, have announced as part of their manifesto that they will not permit the second half of the Leveson inquiry set up to look into criminal activities at News Corp (the kangaroo-in- chief again!) to take place. Also they will gut the legislation (not yet implemented) designed to redress the imbalance in power between the over-mighty press and the private individual. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    3. Andrew

      Theresa ‘Remain’ May, now leading the UK’s Charge of the Light Brigade against those evil, nasty, meddling Brussels bureaucrats who seek to undermine our glorious EU-free future. The Daily Mail’s front page headline on Friday about Theresa May being a PM you could trust (‘At last’, as they put it), raised a wry smile from me, considering the woman is a Grade A hypocrite for going on the record as being strongly in favour of staying in the EU, then doing a 360 when elected leader of The Conservatives and blathering on about ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and all that crap.

      1. RicRadio

        She has accepted the only assignment offered and is running with the ball. Would you rather she pass it to someone else?

    1. MoiAussie

      UK Telegraph now reporting on its live blog that Julian Assange ‘to seek asylum in France’ after rape investigation dropped by Swedish prosecutors.

      Juan Branco, a lawyer representing Mr Assange, said he would now seek political asylum in France, though did not elaborate on how the campaigner planned to get there without being arrested.

      I wonder what M. Macron will think about that idea, especially after the election campaign leaks.

          1. Dead Dog

            The ‘Australians’ want to give him to you guys.

            Even my friends don’t really get that he is just a publisher, not a leaker

  7. Bill Smith

    “Stratfor explains how China’s Belt and Roads Initiative might reshape Europe” goes to the wrong place?

    1. DJG

      Interesting reading. Thanks to PlutoniumKun for the link. As always, the Chinese play the long game, having learned a few lessons from their history and geography. In the U S of A, the elites can’t see past their fifteen minutes of fame.

      The discussion of the Chinese presence in Piraeus is worth pausing over. I have noted a few big initiatives covered in the Italian press, too. The Mediterranean was the western terminus of the ancient Silk Road. I tend to doubt that Budapest will replace it.

  8. Huey Long

    RE: Republicans gearing up for major changes to federal pay and benefits

    Looks like the GOP wants to crapify federal employment:

    Some say federal employees are overpaid and over-compensated. The civil service system, they say, favors employees with the longest tenure but not the highest performance, and agencies simply lack the tools they need to get rid of those poor performers.

    “[They] get paid better, [have] better pensions, cheaper health care, better overall benefit package, sick leave, all those kinds of things,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “And you can’t fire them. And 99.1 percent of them get an A-, an A or an A+ on their performance [evaluation]? Wow. That’s amazing.”

    Jordan referenced a 2013 Government Accountability Office study, which found that 99 percent of permanent, non-senior executive service employees received a rating of “fully successful” on their performance evaluations.

    Hopefully cooler heads prevail and this house committee ends up being full of hot air. I don’t want to have to pay a bribe when I go to the social security office, nor do I want gov’t workers who deal with sensitive things like nuclear weapons internalizing the “you pretend to pay us, we pretend to work” ethos.

    1. a different chris

      The problem, I think (don’t work in or with them) is few jobs are as “constrained” as Civil Service. You have a maze between you and the cheese, you find out how to navigate that maze (because they need you to get the cheese)… and then what? You don’t have any opportunity to really screw over regular people in a large financial sense (aka “enhance revenues”) or really to do anything but show up in the morning, start the maze, get to the cheese around 4:00 and do it again the next day.

      Get there by 3 you are as close to a standout as you can get, by 5 o’clock you are the person everybody else makes fun of. But you just aren’t really allowed to do anything different during the day.

      The term “fully successful” actually, unlike a lot of government and business jargon, makes sense in this context. You have one thing to do, you are seriously constrained from doing anything beyond that, so that’s pretty much “full” success coming from both sides (can’t do less, can’t do more).

      So maybe you could give all the workers a C-, C, C+ but they have pretty much no chance to even get a B so all you do is (if possible at this point) demoralize them even more. Radar O’Reilly might get a B+ I suppose.

      PS: Jim Jordan, OTOH, has incredible freedom in his job and justly deserves his “F”.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        The problem is that unless you’ve been a Fed, you really don’t know what a Federal employee does or how they are evaluated. Bullies like Jim Jordan attack Federal Employees whenever they want to (for whatever reason) because they know that Federal Employees cannot fight back (Hatch Act). But I am a retired Fed and the Hatch Act no longer applies to me – so sorry for the rants, but someone has to speak up!

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        Have a care when talking about your fellow workers like that. Your managers and your managers’ managers see you non-capital owners as parasites, too. Brain-damaged weaklings and thugs, only fit to be tolerated until you’re replaced by frightened, compliant children and itinerants — and then by burgeoning slave-AI. This warning goes double if you’re part of the pensioned or about-to-retire class.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        Why do some of you INSIST on blaming federal employees for what the political appointees do? For the most part federal employees are hard working people just like you, trying to do the best job they can to keep the government working, in spite of their political appointees. They DO NOT make the decisions in government. The job of most Federal employees is not the cushy job you think it is. So if what the Federal Government does bothers you, go after the political appointees, NOT the federal employees.

        1. Milton

          David Byrne’s ditty “Don’t Worry about the Government” has forever left me with a soft spot for civil service workers.

        2. Loblolly

          Why do some of you insist on blaming the poor for the policy decisions of the government that impoverish them?

      3. Bullwinkle

        I don’t know about firing 25% of the workforce but it’s definitely time to start decentralizing the bureaucracy. You don’t need all these govt agencies in DC not to mention the DC suburbs any longer. For example, the Census Bureau, BEA, SSA, FDA and NIH (just to name of few) are in Maryland. Why? Move them to other parts of the country that could use the jobs.

          1. Bullwinkle

            According to the data at that link, the DIstrict of Columbia, not California, is number one with approx 173,000 federal civilian employees. After California come Virginia and Maryland. Compare those figures with New York which has about 53,000 fed civilian employees.

            1. Vatch

              I think you’re both correct. California has more federal employees, and DC has more federal civilian employees.

      4. Vatch

        Over the past several decades, the number of federal civilian employees has steadily declined in proportion to the U.S. population as a whole.

        1960: 179,323,175 population. 1,808,000 civilian employees. Slightly more than 10 federal civilian employees per 1000 Americans.

        1980: 226,545,805 population. 2,161,000 civilian employees. Slightly more than 9 federal civilian employee per 1000 Americans.

        2000: 281,421,906 population. 1,778,000 civilian employees. Slightly more than 6.3 federal civilian employee per 1000 Americans.

        2014: 315,000,000 population (estimate). 2,079,000 civilian employees. Slightly more than 6.6 federal civilian employee per 1000 Americans. But since there were about 200,000 more civilian Defense Department employees in 2014 than in 2000, the percentage of non-Defense civilian employees has continued to drop.

        What does this mean? It means that fewer federal government employees are doing more work for more people. Basically, there aren’t enough civilian federal government employees.

          1. Vatch

            That’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story. Aren’t a lot of those contractors in the Defense Department? And hasn’t the increase in contracting mostly occurred since 2000? The trend to fewer government employees per U.S. residents was occurring for a few decades before that.

            Anyhow, contractors almost always cost more than employees, because the people who do the work need to be paid, and the contracting firm needs to make a profit. With employees, there’s no need for someone to take a cut as profit. So if there is a change that is needed, it is the contractors who should be eliminated, not the employees.

            1. LarryB

              Contractors are all over, if anything they are more prevalent in the civilian agencies. I work in a USDA data center, and just about all the non-supervisory people here are contractors (including me). The move to using more contractors has been going on for a long time, every President, regardless of party likes to be able to say that the number of government employees, except for the military, has decreased. Part of this countries general hatred of government.

              You’re right about them costing more, it makes no financial sense, but it makes lots of political sense. Contractors, at most, should be used to fill short time needs, but I’ve been in my current position for over 12 years.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Are you kidding me? A member of Congress whining about Federal employees’ insurance? Hate to tell you Jim Jordan, but Federal employees would LOVE to have the same insurance that you get for being a member of Congress…….

      As for performance evaluations? Why don’t you read them sometime? “Fully successful” is the midpoint on employee evaluations – there is one level above that and one below……you DO get fired if you do get the lowest evaluation and do not improve within the time allotted…..
      I would also remind Jim Jordan that federal employee performance plans are often highly subjective….
      Sooooo….does Jim Jordan believe that the Federal Government should use the Enron model where 10% of the employees have to be fired every year? How did that work out for Enron?

      As far as vacations and sick leave? My children who work for private industry got double the amount of sick leave and vacation than I did…..yes, they are lucky enough to work for pretty good companies, but it does show Jordan is again peddling crap to gullible idiots, as it seems Republican Congressmen are wont to do whenever they need to deflect from what they are doing…….

    3. SpringTexan

      I’ve been a federal employee and “fully successful” is an OK rating but it is no A of any sort. More like the “B” that has become the “gentleman’s C” in college. So, 99% are at least adequate in their jobs. I don’t doubt it.

  9. JerseyJeffersonian

    Grave developments in Syria. I suggest that you read the post over at Sic Semper Tyrannis put up by The Twisted Genius (and seconded by Col. Lang) regarding the seriousness of the attack on forces of the Syrian Government and allied forces attacking toward Al-Tanf, a strategic Syrian city along the Baghdad-Damascus highway. Coalition (read US) warplanes attacked this initial probe toward Al-Tanf, supposedly due to some unilaterally-declared “deconfliction zone”, inflicting fatalities and injuries upon the government forces (and heedless of the possible presence of Russian advisors with these forces). This seems likely to be part of a move to split off eastern Syria from any future government control, also likely in coordination with Erdogan to reinforce the jihadis in Idlib Province.

    Trump, contrary to all of his bullshit about winding down US involvement in the Middle East, appears to have fallen under the nefarious influence of the NeoCons, and is going to proceed full bore with the prosecution of a naked aggression against Syria. This_will_not_end_well.

    1. Huey Long

      Somebody posted about this last night on yesterday’s water cooler:

      Andrew Watts
      May 18, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      The US-led coalition just bombed SAA & friends as they were closing in on al-Tanf on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

      Here’s Inherent Resolve’s tweets:

      May 18 #Coalition struck #Syrian pro-regime forces advancing in a de-confliction zone near At Tanf posing a threat to #US partner forces1/3

      This was despite #Russian attempts to dissuade pro-regime movement towards At Tanf, #Coalition aircraft show of force, & warning shots 2/3

      #Coalition forces have operated in the At Tanf area for many months training & advising vetted partner forces who are fighting #ISIS.3/3

      The whole part about Russia is interesting because it means this was an Iranian move. It looks like they’re hoping to control a path from Tehran – Baghdad – Damascus. This means controlling the Syrian-Iraqi border area which includes the border crossing at al-Tanf. They can’t rely on using any supply/transport routes through Iraqi Kurdistan / Northern Syria Federation.

      Meanwhile SAA & friends have been bulldozing through the Southern Front which is nothing more than an auxiliary force for Jordan’s border police. The Jordanians probably don’t want Shia militias whom they consider to be jihadists anywhere near their border. Some social media sources of so-so reliability are saying that it was the Jordanian air force who carried out the actual attack.

      Regardless, this attack hasn’t deterred the SAA & friends from their advance and they’ll have air cover from the Syrian Air Force.

      Agreed, this will not end well at all. Hopefully we don’t get to find out if the S-300 & S-400 SAMs work as well as advertised.

      1. Gaianne

        The attack by US aircraft against Syrian Government forces occurred in Syria, not Jordan.

        The US has seemingly proclaimed its own military zone inside Syria. (This is illegal–in fact naked aggression–but nobody in the West cares about that.) This is consistent with the CIA/Neocon goal of creating a jihadi state in eastern Syria and western Iraq that would sit astride the border between Syria and Iraq. The further goal of this jihadi state would be to provide a platform for a renewed effort to destroy the Syrian state. If that seems a long shot–remember, the CIA has plenty of money and deals in fantasies. The don’t quit just because their plans go wrong.

        To what extend other US agencies are on board with this CIA plan is the big question. The attack suggests a realignment within the US in favor of the CIA plan. But that is not sure.

        Eventually the Syrians will have to get anti-aircraft capability out in the east. But that will take time and the establishment of secure bases.


        PS The alliance of Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia is a matter of strategic necessity. Surely each partner has their own view of how to do things. But the idea that partners of the alliance can be pealed off with trivial carrots and sticks is more Western fantasy. No partner can be dispensed with without sacrificing strategic goals of all the other partners.

        Consider Russia, the partner with the most strategic freedom: If they could postpone global war for a full year by sacrificing Syria, would they do it? Probably not: What advantage could they gain in a year that would be worth the loss of their southern front?


    2. MoiAussie

      It’s not great that the US is attacking Syrian forces again but it’s happened before, and while you may be right, I tend to think that it’s less serious than some are making out. The forces attacked were threatening US backed forces at Al Tanf, so it could be seen more as a warning than an escalation. The US objective to carve out a chunk of Syria for their proxies has been longstanding, the question is how far they are prepared to go. The Grauniad’s piece on it reports the US position as follows.

      Opposition units in the area continue to be backed by the CIA. They were raised to fight Isis, but have also been positioned as a bulwark against Iran-backed forces that have crossed from Iraq and been instrumental in recent gains made across Syria by the Assad regime.

      “A convoy going down the road didn’t respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in al-Tanf,” said a US defence official in Washington. “Then there was finally a strike against a lead portion of that movement.”

      The US defence secretary said that the attack did not mean that the US would be getting more involved Syria’s civil war.

      “We are not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war, but we will defend our troops,” Jim Mattis said. “We will defend ourselves (if) people take aggressive steps against us. And that’s been a going-in policy of ours for a long time.”

      I’m not sure Trompe has actually shifted from his recently stated Syria policy, I suspect it’s all just a consequence of his letting the military of the leash. Still, it could be a provocation, and the grave developments will certainly come if US planes are shot down or significant Russian forces are killed.

      1. jsn

        US defending a US Special Forces position in Syria because it’s not against the law for US to break the law.

        Official lawlessness in war like everything else.

        Gambling with everyone’s life!

    3. MoiAussie

      And here’s a report from a more direct source
      Government Troops To Continue Advance In al-Tanaf Area Despite US-led Coalition Airstrikes

      The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are going to continue their advance in the al-Tanaf area in southern Syria despite a threat of US-led coalition airstrikes, according to a number of local sources and pro-government media activists.

      You can also read the Russian Foreign Ministry response to the attack on RT if you care to.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Prediction. If Lieberman takes charge of FBI, Trump and co. will regret it forevermore. No single point I’ve ever read made me think Trump was this stoopid, this self-destructive. This, if it happens imo, raises the possibility to probability of impeachment or Trump merely being seen running for an DC exit as if his hair were on fire. That, or Lieberman will be fired faster than a thirty minute reality episode.

    1. RUKidding

      I find it amazing that Trump would seriously consider the Liebertoad for this position. Quite stupid and quite possibly could lead to Trump’s impeachment. If Trump does this, no sympathy.

        1. polecat

          So, the McCain/Graham(anus/mouth…Together !)organism has just acquired ‘dual citizen’ flagella, to help to further beat their position/opposition …
          Do I have that right ??

      1. MoiAussie

        Lieberman would be functionally equivalent to putting Bibi in charge of the FBI.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Ding. We have a winner!

          I’m wondering if this was what McConnell meant when he said he wanted, what was it, non partisan, heading the FBI.

          I’m also very curious, who recommended Lieber to Trump co.?

          Lieberman would love nothing better than to be that very serious Goldwater who walks into the Oval to tell the Pres. he’s got to go for the good of the Republic. Especially if Lieberman had orchestrated the back-stabbing all along.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I was going to say that on the plus side he’s likely to drop dead soon however I just checked and he is a sprightly 75, a young whippersnapper by DC standards.

      Either Trump is a bigger moron than I thought or he has completely lost control of the executive branch and the coup is in full swing now.

      1. RUKidding

        Either Trump is a bigger moron than I thought or he has completely lost control of the executive branch and the coup is in full swing now.

        It’s a real toss up, but the answer may be all of the above.

        I’m conjecturing that LIEbertoad is sop to Bibi, and possibly Trump was told to accept it or else.

        In any case, not good. And just for the record, WTF “experience” or “skill” or “knowledge” does Holy Joe have that makes him even remotely qualified for this job (other than his “position” within Versailles on the Potomac, of course)???? Mostly a rhetorical, q.

  11. Huey Long

    RE: Tesla Factory

    I read the Tesla article and it broke my heart. This isn’t Upton Sinclair’s time; we know about ergonomics and how to prevent injuries on the job now, yet we still have factories like Tesla’s where workers have their hands over their heads for an entire shift. Unacceptable!

    We need stiffer OSHA penalties to deal with guys like Musk who have the resources to lose tons of money on a car factory year after year. OSHA’s top fine of $126,749 for a willful violation is a drop in the bucket for guys like this, a mere cost of doing business.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      Hands overhead for an entire shift?!? That’s terrible. Given Tesla’s giant wad of investor cash, you’d think they could afford a little investment in ergonomic specialists and proper fixturing. They indeed deserve a much larger fine.

      1. jrs

        It’s actually probably close to the definition of torture. I mean you can almost imagine a C.I.A. agent doing it to some middle eastern person, forced to hold their hands over their head, until the point they make up a terrorist plot just to make it stop. Only in this situation it’s not called torture but it goes by the name of “work”.

    2. skippy

      Audi has a system where the chassis is on a jig that can rotate, workers can stand comfortably w/ work in front of them, as well as ergonomic designed sleds to position heavy or cumbersome parts like dashboards or seats et al.

      Seemingly Tesla factors in humans at the end, sorta a residual tail thingy….

      disheveled…. one can only envision the bemoaning in the C-suite about the need to use humans during stop loss meetings…. I mean these people are not even in their targeted marketing group….

  12. ProNewerDeal

    Interesting Doug Henwood editorial. Henwood seems to imply Pence would be even worse. I recall pundit Kyle Kulinski/SecularTalk estimating Pence to be “as bad if not worse”.

    Lesser Evil Trump v Pence? Impulsive Ignoramus that could start (another) war vs. Theocratic Warmongering pro-TPP Paul Ryan-on-economic policy? “What do ya think?!” (c) Ed Schultz

    1. RUKidding

      I distinctly dislike Pence with all my being.

      In many ways, I believe Pence is worse than Trump. He’ll be solidly aligned with Ryan, and we proles will surely be screwed over worse.

      Sad to say, Trump offers a tiny crumb of hope for the proles in that he’s not fully aligned with the Republicans on anything. If Trump continues to go to rallies, he may be persuaded to do a few things that benefits the proles. With Pence? Fahgeddaboud it. Pence would be 110% about screwing the rubes so bad, we won’t know way is up or down. Kiss your Medicare and Social Security good bye.

      1. different clue

        The Clintonite Sh!tocrat Senators would prefer having Pence be President instead of Trump. So would many Establishment Republicans.

        If Trump is removed, it will be to make Pence President, with the connivance of the Democrats who all consider Pence to be one of their own except for certain cultural issues differences.

    1. different clue

      I know I predicted in comments here and elsewhere at least a year ago that if Europe permits the Greater China Co-Prosperity Belt and Road to touch Europe in any way, that all industry in Europe will be exterminated and replaced with thousands of new maquiladoras extending back along the Belt and Road.

      When China has successfully exterminated all industry within Europe, China will graciously permit Europe to live on as a cultural petting zoo for Chinese tourists. Does anyone remember my phrase “cultural petting zoo”?

  13. Uahsenaa

    re: Torygraph on possible French response to Le Pen

    I think what I found most startling about this piece is that the constitutional lockdown, for lack of a better term, was not, in fact, a response to Le Pen herself, but to the “leftists” who would be understandably upset at her getting elected.

    Fearing “extreme violence” from mainly far Left protesters in the event of a Le Pen victory as the country would have found itself “on the brink of chaos”, the plan entailed “freezing” the political situation by convening parliament in an emergency session and maintaining the outgoing prime minister in office until parliamentary elections.

    So, once again, TPTB are not actually afraid of the hard right, as the calls to elect Macron made it out, but rather the Left. So, if I’m to understand this correctly, if the Left were to simply sit on their hands, then everything with Le Pen would hunky dory as far as they’re concerned? Now that is troubling.

    1. Huey Long

      So, once again, TPTB are not actually afraid of the hard right

      The hard right enthusiastically supports the existing social order.

      The left wants to take away TPTB’s private jets and make them fly coach.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Do High-Level Leaks Suggest a Conspiracy? Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative. By Betteridge’s Law, no, which is in fact Giraldi’s conclusion, and with which I agree. Old power players know the game and know each other’s moves. They also know what to commit to paper, and what not to. “Sometimes we have lunch….”

    With telepathy or by winking and nodding over lunch, is it still a conspiracy?

  15. RabidGandhi

    Here’s the punchline of the JSTOR article on France’s Minitel:

    Nonetheless, when compared to recent votes in other countries, the French election looks like a victory for wiser heads prevailing in the face of online misinformation. And if France has succeeded in swimming against the tide of online political madness.

    So we were all wrong: Brexit and Trump were not in fact the result of the masses being locked out of politics and forced into economic decline. No, it was Internet Fake News what done it, by distracting us from the MSM heralds of truth preaching Blair and NAFTA. But thanks to their peculiar institution of the Minitel, the French inoculated themselves against opinions speaking against l’Establishment.

    1. Anonymous2

      MSM preaching Blair? Not in the UK to any meaningful degree, I assure you. He is very much yesterday’s, much-vilified man.

  16. Huey Long

    RE: The fight to rethink (and reinvent) nuclear power

    Nuclear power needs to go away, especially any reactors operated by publicly traded firms that have to answer to Wall Street. My fear is that petty bean counting and pressure to boost earnings will eventually lead to a catastrophic reactor failure.

    After reading Power Crazy: Is LILCO Turning Shoreham Into America’s Chernobyl? by Karl Grossman I can’t get behind any nuke project. Shoreham was a bad place to build a plant to begin with, and after reading about all the shenanigans that went down during construction, I shudder at the thought of a plant being built today during our current “Age of Crapification.”

    1. polecat

      Perhaps The Orange Julius can propose a public works/infrastructure jawbs program to wall off the entire Hanford ‘Nukular’ Reservation, and build YUUUUGE obelisks at strategic points, stating the dangers and stupidity (through the use of pictographs) .. of developing such technologies, to serve as a warning to the future mutant tribes of Idiocreans inhabiting what’s left of a questionally viable North America.

    2. craazyboy

      Airbelly ghost wrote this song for Porcupine Tree – Radioactive Toy.

      He wrote it after discussing Monkey Dude’s dream revelations of Monkey Dude having a second coming as Radioactive Mutant Monkey Dude. He’s from The Terrifying Guitar Universe, sporting a brand new Thunder & Lightning Bolt Action Stratavarious. (Special custom Satan model)

      He arrives at Shoreham.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: ‘Everything feels like the future but us’ Guardian. Yet another Silicon Valley hellscape for workers.

    In the World’s Most Expensive City, 1 in 10 Maids Sleeps in a Kitchen, Toilet, or Corner of the Living Room TIme

    Some like to be near rich people, thinking, perhaps something will trickle down, being close the manor.

    Rich people, on the other hand, want to be with, or become, richer people. Luckily, the former can either extract wealth from those too weak to defend themselves, like those in the 2 links, or depend on those trying (in vain) to climb up the wealth ladder.

  18. fresno dan

    Nine days after Trump’s Inauguration, US Navy SEALs together with elite troops from the United Arab Emirates descended on the village of Yaklaa in the Yemeni governorate of Bayda.

    Fourteen militants died in Trump’s January 29 raid in Yemen, but US forces also killed twenty-five civilians, including women and nine children under the age of 13—these figures from the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
    Trump’s worst slaughter of civilians is the March 17, 2017 US airstrike on west Mosul in Iraq which killed 200+ civilians. The Iraqi government had told the residents of Mosul, then under occupation by ISIS, to remain indoors. The US knew or ought to have known west Mosul’s residents were in harm’s way.
    President Barack Obama had launched ten times as many killer drone strikes as President George W. Bush. Donald Trump looks set to top Obama’s record.

    Micah Zenko is an expert on drone strikes at the Council on Foreign Relations. In a March 2 tweet, Zenko calculated that Obama conducted a drone strike every 5.4 days; Trump has upped the rate to a drone strike every 1.6 days.
    every president worse than the last….
    One wonders how bad it has to get to change the dynamic….

  19. katiebird

    Fresno Dan, “every president worse than the last….
    One wonders how bad it has to get to change the dynamic….”

    This question haunts me. It has certainly been true throughout my life — will it continue through the rest?

    Part of why I liked Bernie’s campaign so much was that he at least wanted To be a better president than we’ve had.

    1. skippy

      “at least wanted To be a better president than we’ve had.”

      This is the disturbing thing… Trump whinging about being the – most hated – president ev’a….

      That just goes to show how “shallow” – he is – and unprepared mentally and psychologically for the office, even nefarious operators with malice in their minds or those passing through to bigger and better things understand the self detachment that is required to play the game. So that leaves us the quandary of him being either detached from reality due to his past enviroment or completely unable to weld his authority in a coherent strategy, due to the aforementioned, or the complexity of the enviroment is at a tipping point do to fractionalization of all power circles in a MAD game of 52 card pick up.

      Disheveled…. I don’t know what comes next other than the enviroment’ will push – drive events more and more… how the politics [economics] responds to that is not encouraging….

  20. jfleni

    Exactly right; eveyone will lose and, very badly.

    Then stand by for the ievitable and serious blowback as the losers (most of us) start blaming and exacting vengeance on the grease monkeys, soot monkeys, and plutocrat monkeys responsible. It will not be a happy time at all.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Stiglitz’s China Whiz Says Excavator Demand Shows Growth Isn’t Over Bloomberg

    The only thing we can be certain of from that piece of information is that ghost city growth isn’t over, yet, assuming the tabulating was not done by the same people who were involved in a Chinese phone giant’s, according to Bloomberg yesterday, ‘unprecedented degree’ of falsified revenue.

  22. CD

    Re — The end of globalization.

    My patience with the argument about “Is globalization good or bad for us?” has come down asymptotically close to zero.

    Americans have done globalization so badly, so poorly over the last 30 or 40 years. As a country we have taken away job by job from people without so much as a thank you. And now we wonder why we’ve elected an orange-haired person for top political office. By the way, you can also dump Clinton, Bush, and Obama in here.

    We launched into globalization and outsourcing without much care or compassion for the people affected. We’ve told them, “It’s too bad you lost your job, but good luck. We hope you manage.” All the unemployed got for losing their job was a hand shake and unemployment benefits.

    True responsibility and compassion would have dictated that we simultaneously create an equivalent job for one lost — or no globalizing or no outsourcing. It would have dictated something a bit more than “We need more coders.” It would also have required some hard thinking, maybe even extending to a policy or policies.

    I see a future globe with free movement of people and jobs, but this will not happen unless those hurt by these macro-actions are held harmless. It is highly desirable that we have an open world. And this is only possible where there are few penalties for being open.

    1. MoiAussie

      I see a future globe with free movement of people and jobs

      We must be living on different planets. I see a future globe with ever more unpleasant borders staffed by ever more militarized security forces, government immigration policies that are ever more selfish and heartless, corporations continuing to destroy job quality and security everywhere, safety nets being cut to the bone, “rights” and the rule of law being bypassed, draconian penalties for minor transgressions, and underclasses growing ever more desperate, predatory and fragmented.

      This is well underway. What do you imagine can possibly stop it, let alone reverse it?

    2. John Wright

      Would not “free movement of people and jobs” tend to push all wages toward a low mean level?

      I watched globalization at work in the 1990’s as the electronics company I was working for assured its USA manufacturing workers that only excess capacity would be moved to East Asia. Their USA jobs were “secure”. But, eventually the managers doing the assuring and the USA workers disappeared and many buildings were sold off.

      If Americans have done globalization “so badly” what developed nation has done it well?

      What does “compassion for the people affected” mean from a policy position?

      What is the mechanism for creating and sustaining an equivalent job when the additional globalization profits are captured by a corporation while the unemployed worker costs flow to the public?

      Has “care and compassion” ever had much sway in US politics?

      1. CD

        John, what you describe has all the flavor and odor of globalization-without-costs [GWC], which is what we’ve accepted thus far. We’ve had no choice, nor have we seen an alternative.

        But, I’ll ask again — how long can GWC keep working?

        Thanks for the questions. They’re good ones, but require a long essay in response. Long is not the desired mode here.

        1. John Wright

          My answer is that GWC will keep working as long as the politically powerful elite tolerate the side-effects.

          One can have great inequality for many years as witnessed in many places in the world.

          Economically, GWC can continue until marginal revenue to the elite from globalization is less than the marginal costs, again to the elite, of keeping order via police/military/justice/media/political and education systems.

          If those profiting from globalization can shift the “keep society in order” costs to the population, this will further keep GWC active.

          The USA may be a long way from stopping “Globalization Without Costs” .

      2. cm

        “free movement of people and jobs” means that I, an American, can legally relocate to, work and own land in Switzerland, Australia, and France. Currently, that is certainly not the case for the middle class much less lower class.

        1. polecat

          ‘Behold Glorious Globalism’

          You’ll be ‘free’ to NOT own … anything ..

          … and be freed to owe … everyone, everything !

          1. fresno dan

            May 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm


            In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

  23. Cynthia

    Even if the GOPers can’t kill O’care by repealing it, they can still kill it by not funding the so-called “cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.” For those who didn’t already know, these payments were set up and funded through the executive branch without any say at all from Congress, starting with Obama and continuing with Trump. More specifically, they are federally-funded subsidies, that were unilaterally enacted via executive fiat, to cover the cost of co-pays and deductibles for low income Americans who are enrolled in ObamaCare. These subsidies aren’t mere pocket change either. Far from it. They are costing taxpayers $7 billion this year alone, rising to $10 billion in 2018 and $16 billion by 2027. And about 70% of Americans who are enrolled in Obamacare are getting these subsidies, which is about the same percentage of O’care enrollees who are getting subsidies to pay for their O’care premiums, which is about 75% of them ( see link below).

    Granted, the O’care subsidies to cover the cost of premiums is bigger. Quite a bit bigger. They are costing taxpayers roughly $43 billion this year alone, which is a 30% increase from last year. But these subsidies are written into the O’care law, which means they can’t be defunded without first modifying O’care, even better, repealing it — something that Congress as a whole isn’t likely to do, IMO. It’s just too hard to change, much less repeal, any federal law, especially a federal law that is as complex and far-reaching as ObamaCare is.

    OTOH, since the subsidies that cover the cost of co-pays and deductibles are NOT written into Obama’s so-called “law of the land” law, it would be pretty easy for Congress to put an end to these subsidies. All they would have to do is to vote NO for these subsidies — something they have never had the opportunity to do in the first place. They can do this without laying one single finger on ObamaCare. Then by removing $7-$10 billion in federal subsidies from our healthcare system, O’care is bound to collapse into a death spiral. The finger of blame can’t and shouldn’t be directed at the Republicans, though. After all, Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, never voted for these subsidies in the first place. If anything, blame should to be directed at Obama. He should have never, ever propped up something that was bound to collapse without tons of support from the taxpayer.

    Anyhow, it seems pretty obvious to me that none of the ObamaCare subsidies are likely to ever go away, even the most vulnerable one of them all, the so-called “cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.” Costs may shift to somewhere else, but they will never go away. The Democrats want to maintain these costs in order to protect Obama’s legacy. More importantly, both parties want to maintain these costs in order to keep Big Corporate Healthcare, insurers and providers alike, fabulously wealthy.

    One thing is for sure, though, the reason for the CSR subsidies, as well as the premium subsidies, have little, if anything, to do with making healthcare more affordable for most Americans. If that were the case, the subsidies would also be available for middle and middle upper income Americans, which they aren’t. Which is why ObamaCare deserves the lion’s share of the blame for causing the middle class to shrink even further. If ObamaCare were presented this way, believe me, most Americans would want to see it repealed, including all the clueless, air-headed Obamabots! This, I believe, would finally open the doors to single payer, which is really the only way to have affordable healthcare for every American, across the board, including the segment of the American middle class that doesn’t have employer-subsidized health insurance, the very people who who are bearing the brunt of ObamaCare’s spiraling costs.

  24. CD

    The world you describe is one scenario, as strategists call it. We as a globe may follow it.

    However, I don’t see globalization-without-costs as feasible forever. It leads to a lot of poor, unhappy people who at some point violently seek to be un-poor and less unhappy. In other words, there’s a limit. People, especially the working and middle class, get fed up. And respond, sometimes nastily. That pretty much describes the US now.

    So the scenario I suggest above is one where we have globalization-with-costs. Those disadvantaged by globalization are “made whole” [a terrible, legal, phrase]. Barrier open, the globe opens because those hurt are taken care of.

    Have we reached the above limit? In the US, probably not. But we’ll see it Mr Strumpet can keep the “lower orders” mollified or happy. If not, we turn to your scenario.

    1. Huey Long

      Iran consistently has high voter turnout for it’s elections, which is why it burns my a** whenever I hear some barstool comment about how Israel is the “only democracy” in the middle east.

        1. marym

          Everyone allowed to vote, broad voter participation, transparent ballot counting, people rightly proud of the process despite knowing and objecting to other aspects of the political system – all pretty impressive.

          1. hunkerdown

            Impressive, but process or the appearance thereof are not dispositive. “LIberal” democracy or “party” democracy guarantees the right to self-government and equality before the law only to the parties and their apparatchiks, and specifically not to the people. To a people raised to be compliant and servile to their betters, this may fill the bill.

            1. marym

              people raised to be compliant and servile to their betters

              Not an apt description of the Iranian people. They had a constitutional revolution in 1906, fought the British oil monopoly in the 1950’s, overthrew the Shah in 1979, and have a long history of dissent in the face of repressive regimes. Externally, they’ve faced great hostility, intervention, military threats, war, and sanctions from the US and its allies for decades. Agree with them or not, they have understandable reasons to support a strong, nationalist and Islamic government. In the meantime they have to live day by day. As part of that they built and maintain a strong electoral process. Good for them, and good luck to them in whatever further battles they choose to fight in the continuing struggle for justice.

            2. Plenue

              Few Iranians have any love for being an Islamic theocracy. Less than 2% of the population even attends friday prayers. The famous ‘Death to America’ demonstrations are mostly attended by people the government pays to show up. Also, the country has a massive youth bias because of the Iran-Iraq war, and a huge number of these people are enthusiastic consumers of western culture, speak varying degrees of English, and frequently use internet handles inspired by things like Hollywood movies. The Islamic Republic seems to largely be existing on inertia at this point.

              Now that I think about it, the fact that they still put so much emphasis on being Iranian, ie Persian, is in and of itself telling. There’s a continuity of identity in Iran that goes well back into pre-Islamic times. Compare that to Arabia, where a huge amount of the pre-Islamic beliefs and culture have simply been lost to history.

              If this video is at all accurate:, then the Iranian people are anything but servile.

              1. marym

                Didn’t know that about Friday prayers. Do you have any interesting recent sources? I haven’t been paying attention for a while. Sounds as though the results may be 60/40 for Rouhani, so there’s still an electoral base for the conservatives in the country as a whole. Agree that they have a unique cultural, linguistic and literary heritage.

        2. Gaianne

          Iran can’t be a democracy. The voters never vote for the people we like.


  25. local to oakland

    Re aadhar, and also policy proposals toward a cashless society, these are fascinating trends.

    The article spoke of India, but here are some thoughts from the US.

    There is an interesting parallel with biblical reference Rev. 13:17. Jung might call such a coincidental parallel between text and history, synchronicity. Regardless,(and it has been decades since I read Jung) biblical literalists and people whose life experience gives them an apocalyptic imagination, who are also from a protestant background, are likely to find such policy moves culturally threatening.

    What I have observed as a casual internet user, is greater pressure, driven I think by the desire of actors like Google or Amazon to please advertisers, to have all accounts link to one known identity. The internet used in such a way is still useful, interesting, fun, and it definitely would be less lawless. However, this move also gives unknowable and unaccountable actors, not merely government, but also random business people, tremendous insight into specific individuals thoughts, motivations, hopes, fears, personal flaws and vulnerabilities. Not every agent represents the highest purposes of their organization. And not every organization has benevolent purposes. We will see more cases of people being singled out based on their thoughts and speech for purposes that run the gamut of human behavior, from highest to lowest.

    I once read that masked balls served the medieval courts of Europe as a mechanism where deniable feedback could be given to power in ways that were impossible otherwise. If the internet currently allows for this in certain ways, that benefit will disappear should the current unmasking trend proceed to its logical conclusion where we are all openly identified. As an american, (US) it will also be interesting to see how these trends interact with our traditional protection of free speech.

    1. Gaianne

      You might be referring to the Mark of the Beast.

      “16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”–New Oxford

      You don’t need to be Christian. You just need to know that St. John was responding to his times, which in their strategic structure, are much like ours.

      Under the banner of convenience, the elites are openly forging tools of control and oppression. As economies collapse, these tools will be re-purposed as tools of death.

      The elites may not succeed, but the means by which they hope to deal with population pressures (to their own benefit) are clear.


    2. Oregoncharles

      For example: comments on Salon are no longer anonymous. Instead, they’re based on Facebook identities, and may well appear on Salon’s FB page. Granted, many FB identities are “sock-puppets,” perhaps half or more – I realized this only recently, when I encountered one, which led to many. Bit of a kerfuffle in my Green Party chapter, actually.

      Internet anonymity is a very mixed bag. On the one hand, it liberates trolls, and rude behavior generally. There’s a reason newspapers won’t publish anonymous letters. OTOH, it also liberates people who would otherwise be inhibited by their employers, families, etc. There are several examples among the commenters on NC. So we’re treated to a certain amount of insider information that we wouldn’t get otherwise. That makes sense, since NC started as essentially a whistle-blower operation, because Yves was an insider.

      And as you say, anonymity makes it harder for interested parties to track particular users, especially if they don’t want to be tracked. I can see why they’d want to eliminate it, though so far it’s pretty much built into the architecture: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” (Spoken by a dog seated at a computer.)

  26. Altandmain

    Looks like Biden is also throwing Clinton under the bus:

    She deserves it and then some, but why didn’t they get behind Bernie? Actually we all know why, but only now from the safety of her defeat do they give frank talk about Hillary Clinton.

    Right now Sanders is talking about how Trump is dominating the discussion:

    Don’t forget about the pain of the American people.

  27. Huey Long

    Slimey Cuomo Distances Himself From MTA

    That Cuomo should want to distance himself from the increasingly problem-plagued system, which he referred to Thursday as the “city subway system,” is not surprising. De Blasio, who gets to recommend four members to the board — subject to Cuomo’s forwarding the nominations to the Senate, for its approval — now routinely responds to every question about problems with the city’s mass transit system by saying that the MTA is a state creature. (Cuomo effectively controls the board by appointing six of the 14 votes, including its chair and CEO.)

    If this clown tries to run in 2020 I sincerely hope the Dem/GOP oppo guys hammer him on this.

    1. different clue

      If the Pink Kitty Cap Clintocrats nominate Cuomo, I will vote for Trump all over again.

    1. craazyboy

      Waddabout “Bill Hearts Loretta In Phoenix Airport Runway.”

      Comey does look like a shy, but homely, supermodel in that pic.

  28. Alex

    To add a bit of detail to the Le Monde’s article about Israel, specifically about falling support of the left. To a large degree they should blame themselves for this, as it has been a direct result of their actions while both in power and in opposition. As an example, recently the “Third apartment tax” law was passed by the current government, which imposed a tax on the properties acquired for investment purposes in order to cool down the real estate market and decrease home prices. The law is popular and in any other country the left would be happy to support it. The Israeli “left” on the other hand went to great lengths trying to cancel the law on procedural grounds. I’m not sure about their reasons but it will certainly cost them votes next time. Pretty depressing actually.

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