Links 5/6/17

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New Museum of Failure Credit Slips

PIOMAS May 2017 Arctic Sea Ice Blog (Chuck L)

UAE to DRAG ICEBERG from Antarctica to solve water shortage set to last 25 years Daily Express

Climate of Complete Incomprehension Peter Dorman, Econospeak

There’s a 25 percent chance your water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Grist

What happens when you bring meditation to public schools YouTube (furzy)

The work of monitoring violence online can cause real trauma. And Facebook is hiring. Washington Post (furzy)

Aspirin May Prevent Cancer from Spreading, New Research Shows Scientific American


The dog didn’t bark: What pressure from China on Pyongyang? Asia Times

Europeans rediscover enthusiasm for globalisation Bruegel

French Election

Macron condemns ‘massive’ hacking attack as documents leaked BBC. My guess is a data dump this close to the election won’t have much impact, even if the information is very salacious. Too late for it to be analyzed and propagate all that well.

Macron’s campaign says it has been hit by ‘massive’ hack of emails and documents Washington Post (furzy)

Macron came to Greece’s aid during our crisis. The French left should back him Yanis Varoufakis, Guardian (Sid S)


Jean-Claude Juncker: ‘English is losing importance’ Politico (Dan K). Juncker twits the Brits.

UK Elections

I am a strong, stable, paranoid lunatic, says May Daily Mash

May on course for landslide The Times

May could get her mandate – and still be plagued by Brexiteer backbenchers Guardian (Richard Smith)

Results in England, Wales and Scotland – and what do they mean for the general election? Telegraph


RUSSIA-BACKED SYRIAN SAFE ZONES PLAN GOES INTO EFFECT Associated Press (furzy). Note NATO member Turkey is working with Russia and Iran.

US-led coalition warplanes banned from Syria safe zones – Russian envoy RT (furzy)

New Cold War

US-Russia: Military tensions Defend Democracy

Trudeau Mulls Coal Ban in Retaliation for U.S. Lumber Tariffs Bloomberg

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

A guide to escaping Facebook’s evil clutches without, erm, actually deleting it New Statesman. For the life of me, I do not understand why anyone needs to use FB or specifically “needs” to share photos. Even though Facebook allows users to delete accounts, as opposed to merely deactivating it, one NC reader complained that FB restored it years later over his objections. Have you heard of any similar experiences? It is possible this individual deactivated it rather than deleting it, but even so, having FB put it back up and resist efforts to take it back down sounds ugly.

Walmart wants to put sensors on everything so it can automatically order you stuff The Verge (Chuck L). Another reason not to shop at Walmart. My understanding is a good strong magnet will fry most chips, but obviously don’t try this with anything electronic. Fans of Cryptonomicon may remember the scene when the cops show up to collect the computer gear of someone who has become an object of their interest. His door is armed to create a magnetic field (I forget if it its default was to be on or not), plus his buddies showed up with a truck with what amounted to a magnetic bomb, which emitted a large pulse and fried all the computers in range. The book was written before the days of smartphones and cars chock full of telematics, so a truck bomb now would clearly be deemed as vandalism or worse. But I like the idea of having an armed doorway and being able to disable consumer goods designed to spy on you. For those of us who don’t have smartphones, this would be a lot easier to manage (as to when to have it on v. off) than for the rest of the public.

Leaked document reveals UK plans for wider internet surveillance ZDNet (Chuck L)

FBI says email scammers stung businesses for $5bn over 4 years The Register (Dan K). I get fake invoices regularly, and they are at the level of sophistication the many variations of the Nigerian e-mail scam (the ones that amuse me the most are the ones that say Janet Yellen or Steve Mnuchin wants to send me money). I can’t believe anyone falls for this stuff but obviously they do. Perhaps a tiny subset is more credible (as in they find actual approved vendors of Big Cos). And to put this in perspective, one of Richard Smith’s bigger international scams was 3 billion pounds back in the day when that would be more like $4.5 billion…

Regulating the internet giants: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data Economist (furzy)

Trump Transition

Atheists Sue President Trump Over His ‘Religious Liberty’ Executive Order Daily Beast

Trump-Russia investigation reignites as Senate asks aides to hand over notes Guardian

Trump transition raised flags about Flynn Russia contacts Associated Press (Dan K)

Dems Having Difficult Time Capitalizing on Trump Presidency of Blunders WhoWhatWhy. Because they are too busy looking for Russians under every bed.

GE CEO: ‘President Trump is right’ on trade Business Insider

Trump busting presidential norms with weekend getaways Politco

Stephen Colbert’s Diatribe Against Trump to Be Reviewed by FCC Bloomberg

State Department Promotes Ivanka Trump’s Book In Another Ethics Blunder Huffington Post (furzy)


Trump: ‘Everybody’ has better healthcare than US The Hill

Senate Republicans doubtful of American Health Care Act BBC. Senators are not willing to be cannon fodder for House Freedom Caucus ideologues.

Senate GOP rejects House Obamacare bill Politco

Five changes the Senate could make to the ObamaCare repeal bill The Hill. Headline a bit weird since the Senate Republicans have said they are drafting their own bill.

New York AG: I’ll sue if Senate passes ObamaCare repeal The Hill

Court Rules Trump State Dept Must Release Clinton Emails of Obama Response to Benghazi CNS News. Furzy note all conservative sites are running this story but wonders if it is really favorable for Trump.

Police State Watch

Watch a cop’s staged body cam footage made “to look like it was done in real-time“ ars technica. Yuk.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

This Problem Isn’t Going Away: Heartless Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Americans Continue Into the Trump Era Alternet. The Dems domesticating Black Lives Matter was no accident.

To be resolved: Puerto Rico declares bankruptcy at last Economist (furzy)

Puerto Rico to close 179 public schools amid crisis ABC (furzy)

Suddenly, Oil Below $40 a Barrel Doesn’t Seem So Far-Fetched Bloomberg

Gender inequality is holding back US economy, Yellen warns Financial Times

U.S. Economy Poised for Spring Rebound as Jobless Rate Falls Wall Street Journal. Cheerleading is premature with weak wage growth.

April Payrolls Bounce, Revisions Take March Lower: Hiring Increasingly Volatile Michael Shedlock

Wells Fargo warns legal bill could swell by $200m Financial Times

Guillotine Watch

At $495, Lonzo Ball’s ZO2 Sneakers Have Tastemakers Saying No Thanks New York Times. EM: “All before the fellow has played a single NBA game. I’m having a hard time deciding which is mire guillotine-watch-worthy, the brazen money-grabbing of Ball or the corporate analog of same epitomized by Nike. The author seems similarly conflicted.”

More than 60 Fall CS50 Enrollees Faced Academic Dishonesty Charges Harvard Crimson. This is 10% of the people taking the course, intro computer science.

Class Warfare

Vancouver Plans More Airbnb Limits to Ease Near-Zero Home Supply Bloomberg

Beating Wall Street Means Fighting the Extraction of Wealth From Communities of Color Truthout

Trump’s new opioids strategy ‘devastates’ advocates Politico

The Sanders Campaign, Greater Appalachia and Young Workers Counterpunch

Antidote du jour. Timotheus:

This is the new brood of cygnets from Story Lake, Indiana. It is the same adult pair that has lived on the lake for 20 years (and that you have featured twice before). Once they are grown, the adults chase off the new generation so they go find their own habitat.

And a bonus antidote from furzy:

It’s fall in Japan. And like every fall, rice is harvested, leaving behind straw to be hung and dried. In some rural areas, though, the rice straw has a special use: Making giant beasts.

Kagawa Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture have the most famous “straw art festivals,” which are large straw sculpture displays. Traditionally, straw was used to thatch roofs. In much the same manner, these straw sculptures are thatched around wooden frames. But instead of roofs, enormous dinosaurs, bugs, and much, much more are created.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. fresno dan

      May 6, 2017 at 7:32 am

      And yet the really interesting aspects of his testimony had to do with two questions that, in a free society, would not normally be the domain of law enforcement: 1) What should be the nature of our relations with a foreign country, i.e. Russia? And 2) what is a legitimate journalistic enterprise?

      “GRAHAM: Do you agree that they did not change the actual vote tally, but one day they might?***

      On this last, Comey seemed to demur, but that such a question could even be asked unaccompanied by a chorus of laughter highlights the utter absurdity of the discourse in Washington
      It’s a lie that WikiLeaks releases have led to the death or endangerment of a single American anywhere: if it has, then why didn’t Comey name the victims and the circumstances? As for endangering “American interests,” the question of whether these are advanced by maintaining a worldwide regime of surveillance and repression is not something either Sen. Saase or Comey are prepared to address, and with good reason.
      That our interpretation of the First Amendment is now dependent on the olfactory sensibilities of the FBI Director highlights the fact that the real danger to our republic isn’t in Moscow, but right here in the good old United States of America. If the WikiLeaks revelations – that our government is systematically engaged in spying on us, and is involved in any number of foreign operations that violate our alleged values and even cross the line into illegality – is “intelligence porn,” then so were the Pentagon Papers. According to Comey’s logic, Daniel Ellsberg should’ve been prosecuted and convicted for revealing the truth about the Vietnam war to the American people.
      So let’s parse this. According to Comey, the distinction between WikiLeaks, and, say, the Washington Post – which has been publishing leaked information from its friends in the intelligence agencies in order to smear the President as a tool of the Kremlin – is that the latter “will almost always call us before they publish.” What this means is that Comey and company can leak whatever they want – but anything not approved by them in advance amounts to espionage. The leaking of the fact that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was in contact with the Russian ambassador prior to the election, and the releasing of the contents of a transcript of those calls to the media – that’s just fine and dandy.

      GREAT, great article Carolinian. I am in great danger of pretty much cutting and pasting the entire article – practically every word exposes the hypocrisy and sheer idiocy, or mendacity of Comey and the senators who “question” him.

      *** If Graham had a brain – which is like saying if a horse’s anus had a human head and arms and legs, it would be a human – maybe Graham could ask how much Goldman Sachs and the 0.1% influences elections in the US….

      1. Jim Haygood

        According to Comey’s logic, Daniel Ellsberg should’ve been prosecuted and convicted for revealing the truth about the Vietnam war to the American people.

        Ellsberg WAS prosecuted in US district court of Southern Calif. under the Espionage Act of 1917. The judge ended up dismissing the case owing to prosecutorial misconduct [not sharing pertinent evidence with the defense] and illegal wiretapping of Ellsberg.

        A revealing snippet from the Wikipedia account:

        Ellsberg tried to claim that the documents were illegally classified to keep them not from an enemy but from the American public. However, that argument was ruled “irrelevant.”

        Ellsberg was silenced before he could begin. According to Ellsberg, his “lawyer, exasperated, said he ‘had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did.’ The judge responded: Well, you’re hearing one now. And so it has been with every subsequent whistleblower under indictment.”

        What was shocking in 1973 is now standard procedure. Federal criminal statutes now specify allowable defenses; no others can be raised. Classic example: the federal prosecution of Ed Rosenthal, who was licensed by the City of Oakland to grow cannabis. Since authorization under state law was (and remains today) no defense in federal court, Rosenthal was obliged to sit mutely while prosecutors painted him as an ordinary trafficker.

        After learning the suppressed facts upon leaving the courtroom, an outraged jury held a press conference to denounce their own verdict, based on the lies by omission of the “win at any cost” federal prosecutor.

        “Federal justice” is an oxymoron.

        1. Katharine

          I should think it would be worth a try for the defendant to make the statement quickly before the judge could silence him. How long does it take to say, “As a licensed grower…” or “this illegally classifed…”? The judge can rule it out, but if the jury heard something they may remember and doubt.

          Reading the reports of Bushell’s Case is always fun. Those folks had real gumption.

        2. Huey Long

          Wait a second, you can’t present whatever defense you’d like in federal court?!?


          Sorry, I’m a total layman, I had no idea that defenses were restricted to only those that the government deemed acceptable.

          I’m shocked. This is soviet style justice with a jury that’s there purely for legitimacy optics.

        3. RabidGandhi

          This was also yet another reason why Snowden would not have been able to get a fair trial. The Obama Justice Department intentionally charged Snowden under the Espionage Act because that law has no public interest exception, which means he would most likely be barred from telling a jury why he leaked the NSA docs and how doing so was in the public interest.

        4. fresno dan

          Jim Haygood
          May 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

          Jim Haygood
          May 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

          I always make a point of reading Haygood comments….as I will learn something outrageous and shocking.

          “Ellsberg tried to claim that the documents were illegally classified to keep them not from an enemy but from the American public. However, that argument was ruled “irrelevant.” ”

          How relevant is that 99.99% of classified material is because our our government regards US citizens knowledge of what it is up to as dangerous to its schemes…..

        5. bob

          A more up to date version of some of the same problems-

          The law is stacked against the defendant, even before the prosecution flexes its muscles. Add in an FBI informant/agent provocateur (BRANDON DARBY) , and it’s entrapment under every other name….

          What people believe the law says, and what it really says and very effectively allows, are miles apart.

    2. Olga

      That Madison was a smart cookie (at least in some respects, and never mind the goofy musical); this certainly bears repeating, since he clearly foresaw our future:
      “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
      I’d say we’ve arrived…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL


        Yet another reason that everyone should put aside their differences (R v. D, black v. white, male v. female, gay v. straight, rich v. poor) and get behind the one single issue that unites and solves, that is dead simple to understand and articulate and litmus test:


      2. Norb

        Another important quote from our nations founding concerns Benjamin Franklin. From the New American-

        The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

        Well, American citizens have lost control of their republic and must now suffer the excesses brought about by private property accumulation. Until the majority can form a new understanding concerning the role of private property, enslavement is the end result, regardless the mechanism used to get there. War, being just the most expedient method for accumulation. Financialization running a close second.

        The public good needs to be the direct focus. Instead of the relentless pursuit, and support, of individual wealth.

  1. funemployed

    The world’s most valuable resource is neither oil nor data, but fresh water.

    1. MoiAussie

      Well, “most valuable” requires some definition, but all else being equal, I’d say it’s soil.

      You can make fresh water from seawater, capture it from the air, or go lasso an iceberg, but you can’t make good soil, not in a hurry, anyway.

      1. XXYY

        Small amounts of fresh water can be made the ways you describe, perhaps enough for urban or industrial use, but the vast amounts needed for agriculture need to be naturally occurring (rain, surface, or subterranean). Surface and subterranean sources are under severe threat in most parts of the world, the former from draught and reduced snowpacks and the latter from decades of overpumping.

        As a rule of thumb, it takes 1000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain. By far the easiest way to import water is to import grain.

        Not disagreeing about topsoil! Not only is it vital, but it’s also something no one ever talks about. I know China, for one, has been overgrazing (mainly sheep, I think!) for decades and their topsoil is now blowing away like mad.

        1. John k

          Read a while ago that when farming began in the midweat there was an average of six feet of topsoil, glacier legacy. Now three feet, the loss transported to Gulf of Mexico.

          1. Katharine

            Six feet may have been average, but I seem to recall that there were places where it was twenty. Improved practices after the Dust Bowl didn’t last, but there seems to be another effort being made–less tillage, more natural fertilizer (I don’t know why but have heard that manure produces better yields than chemical fertilizer in a drought year), cover crops. They won’t see a return to what they did have, at least in any of our lifetimes, but if they can even slightly reverse the losses it would be good.

          2. Parker Dooley

            Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse” has a photograph showing the extent of soil loss in one area — sorry I don’t have the book available to quote the caption. Anyway, it is of a church sitting at the original level, surrounded by a field at the current level. Looks like about 8-10 feet, as I recall.

            1. Bunk McNulty

              The Pioneer Valley area of Central Massachusetts, through which the Connecticut River flows, has topsoil 17 feet deep. Can someone tell me why? And for how long? I would guess it was in part because of climate, in part because of what use the land has been put to. I moved here three years ago, and as best I can tell commercial-scale growing is mostly done by potato farmers with Polish surnames.

          3. different clue

            I suspect some of the loss could be oxidation in place. The Iowa topsoil used to be 5-6% biocarbon. Endless rounds of tillage and chemo-zapping with nitrogen fertilizer drives oxidation of the carbon in the soil, turning it into CO2 and dumping it right straight up into the sky overhead.

            A lost of topsoil disappearance could be the topsoil losing its carbon to the air above and collapsing and deflating like a fallen soufle’ .

        2. different clue

          That rule of thumb seems confused, somehow. If it takes a thousand tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, why doesn’t 1 ton of grain weigh a thousand tons?

          If you are importing water by importing grain, how much does the water weigh? And why doesn’t the grain weigh exactly that much if importing the grain is importing the water?

          1. XXYY

            The water taken up by a plant during the plant’s growth is a transport medium, carrying nutrients from the soil into the roots, and thereafter into the higher parts of the plant. The water itself is then mostly respired into the atmosphere. So the water used to grow plants doesn’t stay in the plants.

            It’s similar to how, if you drink a gallon of water, you don’t gain 12 pounds, since your body excretes the water after putting it to use. The water you drink during your lifetime obviously weighs thousands of times what you do.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Potable water is the world’s most constrained resource and will come under pressure on current trajectories by 2050, if not sooner.

        1. Oregoncharles

          By the equation, he means that it will be available but more and more scarce and expensive – eg, towing icebergs (lots of gee-whiz there – I really wonder how they plan to, umm, pull that off). Similarly, oil won’t be gone; it’ll just be not worth extracting.

        2. neighbor7

          At the end of “The Big Short” Michael Burry (Christian Bale) is revealed to be investing in water…

        3. Ancient 1

          That is the reason T. Boone Pickings has been buying up water rights left and right these last few years. His new commodity for making more money.The world will have a critical shortage of water resources sooner than later. but no one seems concerned except when the wells run dry

      2. AnnieB

        There’s oil, then there’s recoverable oil. Recoverable oil is shale oil, ie. fracked oil. “World oil demand is about 90 million barrels a day, suggesting the world shale oil resource covers 10.5 years of consumption.”

        That’s 10.5 years of current consumption at the current price. As prices go higher, consumption will likely decrease. So maybe there’s more years left. But as we say in the anti-fracking community, at what cost to the environment and to human health?

  2. Carla

    Another link to file under “Big Brother Is Watching”:

    Your friendly neighborhood networking site is selling your political profile and preferences to the highest bidder. Nextdoor claims to have its foot in the door of 70% of US “neighborhoods. Bet 3rd parties and the folks at can’t afford to buy. claims to have its foot in the door of 70% of US “neighborhoods” but in my ‘burb, some individual “neighborhoods” listed on the site consist of just one street, and some are districts with a couple thousand residents.

    1. polecat

      I had found one of these ‘’ ‘invitations’ in my street mailbox a few months back. While scanning over the info, got a gander of who the sponsors were …. ALL the Big Corporate entities we love to hate !!!

      …. and the whole promotional screed seemed … well …. kinda smarmy – part garage sale, part neighborhood watch, part direct sales !!
      Into the trash it went.

    2. Reader

      This doesn’t surprise me one bit. When they started recruiting in our Tucson neighborhood about 3 years ago, I checked them out. They started in the US in 2011 with funding from Benchmark Capital and Shasta Ventures. In 2015 they created a company in Ireland to serve Europe, the Middle East and Africa with plans to continue expanding to additional countries.

      Only members can post and view messages. From what I can tell from their public website, each neighborhood has a Lead who can see all “verified” and “unverified” neighbors and their addresses and add people to the group. They encourage members to give them contact information for non-members so they can “invite” them to join. They say they’ll delete your info if you ask but there’s also language that appears to allow them to keep unspecified info for as long as they want. They also notify the Lead if you decline or later quit.

      I live in a wonderful little neighborhood with an active grassroots neighbors group. For many years we’ve had an internet bulletin board where we share info on the neighborhood, social activities, group projects, crime etc. After Nextdoor came in and board activity noticeably dropped off, I asked one of their members if it had shifted to Nextdoor. I never received a response and the member went on the board, trashed it and encouraged people to join Nextdoor.

      So the net effect is our grassroots board is being replaced by a commercial members-only group that requires you to hand over control of your personal information in order to participate in neighborhood communication. Maybe I’m being paranoid but the whole thing creeps me out including their efforts to build a database with the photos and personal info of every household in the US and beyond.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Echoes of Stalin’s inform on your neighbour & the quite recently discovered fact that Gestapo stations in Germany were mainly reliant on information from good neighbours.

        ” What’s he building ? – Tom waits.

        1. clarky90

          During “The Great Terror” (1936-1938), in the Soviet Union, the branches of the NKVD were given quotas (numbers of victims) to fill, for execution or transport to the Gulag.

          Typically, the NKVD would arrest someone, then search for, and seize their address and telephone numbers book, and then arrest everyone in the address book. Of course they would do the same with next group of victims.

          The NKVD were expected to “exceed their quotas”, and they did.

          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            Yes, as detailed in Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, alongside details of those who informed on anyone out of the ordinary, someone they had a grudge against or perhaps simply out of fear to curry favour with & to protect themselves from the authorities.

            In Germany there are records that show a similar situation, although much less severe. Many of the around 280,000 Germans killed by the Nazis were likely to have been turned over by their own people. It was covered briefly in the BBC series ” The Nazis ” – A lesson from history “, telling the tragic tale of a woman who did not quite fit in who paid for it with her life.

            The Nazis managed to destroy the majority of Gestapo records, but in the above case they were interrupted by US forces.

            1. makedoanmend

              This neighbour surveillance is not restricted to the baddies. The “goodies” do it too. The anonymously written letter to the police or other legal authorities was a fact of life in many so-called democracies. Hell, it was a favourite past time in Ireland of those who considered themselves paragons of virtue and loved to rat out their neighbours. Others used it to cast unwarranted aspersions on neighbours with whom they had a feud.

              If you live in the UK today, you are under constant surveillance from cameras littered throughout the country. Additionally, May & Co. want to monitor every piece of information of every subject of their realm. I’m quite sure every person residing in the UK has a profile stored by the government.

              Of course, the new wrinkle, abetted by ubiquitous communication technology, allows neighbours to profit off of neighbours.

              After all, we are now all entrepreneurs and we are all at the same time simple commodities to be used by each other in order to hoard property. This is our weal according to the current hard-fast ideology that we have all voted for in our beloved democracies.

              Profit knows no boundaries.

              1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

                + 100%

                Another brilliant Russian book that covers it very well is Vasily Grossman’s ” Life & Fate “.

  3. MoiAussie

    My understanding is a good strong magnet will fry most chips

    Not really. A good strong magnet will scramble data on a hard disk or the magnetic stripe of an old fashioned credit/debit card. It won’t have any effect on an RFID chip, smart phone or piece of electronics in general, except to disrupt the compass. For that you need (a carefully chosen) high intensity electromagnetic signal to disrupt its operation, or the brute force of a massive EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to fry the electronics by inducing high voltages in internal circuitry. Shielding technologies such as a Faraday cage or wrapping in conductive foil can disrupt electronics by preventing signal reception/transmission but cause no damage. Finally, you can also fry electronics with high radioactivity, x-rays, or a high intensity neutron source, but don’t try that at home.

    1. Carolinian

      Brings to mind the scene from Breaking Bad where Walt parked a truck mounted junkyard magnet next to outside wall of the police station in order to erase his laptop in the evidence room.

      1. pricklyone

        Fring’s laptop, tho…
        Hard drive erasure this way is in the realm of possibility, even if improbable.
        It’s a good thing normal magnetic fields don’t fry chips, though, as MRI scanners would cost as much as F35.

    2. MoiAussie

      Replying to myself here, but I missed one useful tip. If you want to destroy any smallish piece of electronics, including RFID chips, 5 to 10 seconds on high in your microwave oven will do it reliably. Also works well for CDs and DVDs.

      Any longer than that and you’ll probably fry your microwave. And avoid inhaling the fumes!

    3. Steve

      Speaking as an EE, I agree with Moi. The theory is fine, a magnetic field does apply force to current carrying conductors, but it take a VERY HIGH strength field to do any damage. An air gap hugely reduces the field strength.

      Great plot device though.

      1. Carolinian

        Well Walt was using one of those electromagnets that junkyards employ to pick up cars….perhaps plausible enough for “suspension of disbelief.”

        Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a genius at plotting.

    4. XXYY

      While we’re (sort of) on the subject, it’s important for people to know that storage devices based on flash memory (SSDs, memory cards and sticks, phones) *cannot* be reliably erased. When you “delete” data, the file system merely marks the data as deleted; it’s still present on the chip and can be recovered with suitable tools. Because of the way wear leveling is done by the device driver, and because flash can only be erased in blocks (not bytes), it’s impossible to “overwrite” selected data as you can with older rotating magnetic disks. The probability of the data being recoverable certainly lessens over time if the storage is used for other things, but the rate depends on so many factors that you can’t count on anything. Also, of course, flash memory is unaffected by magnetic fields and so can’t be erased by bulk erasers, magnets, etc. as older magnetic disks and tape can.

      So flash memory is a permanent storage medium in a practical sense.

      AFAIK the only way to reliably delete data in flash storage is to physically destroy the memory, which can also be somewhat challenging, esp. if it’s built into your phone or something. If you are transferring data to someone else whom you don’t trust, be sure to start with a new (blank) device so other personal data doesn’t get inadvertently transferred, too.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Yes, that or a large spike and a heavy mallet do the trick pretty nicely. Low tech seems more reliable than high for cases like this.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Try it and let us know. From what we just read, my guess is no, at least if it’s dry.

              Does the job on cell phones, though, even dumb ones. (Actually, they might be recoverable if you know how; one of mine sort of worked for days. On general principles, a bath of distilled water or alcohol, followed by thorough drying, might help)

            2. hunkerdown

              Nah, the manufacturer already does that as part of normal assembly flow. carycat’s suggestion of thermal destruction is on point. Also consider physical grinding, which was good enough for GCHQ’s cleanup operation at The Guardian.

              Hard disk drive bodies make fine scrap for backyard aluminum casting. Pull the platters and either grind the surfaces off or throw them in the kiln too.

      1. MoiAussie

        You can’t selectively erase, but formatting or deleting everything and then completely filling a flash device with junk files will erase anything sensitive with high probability, especially if repeated. It will also wear out the device somewhat, but that’s of little concern. Larger capacity flash devices, such as laptop disk replacements often have a manufacturer’s utility program that will secure erase, if you can trust that.

        And as I suggested above, a microwave will do a good job of permanently scrambling thumbdrives and other flash, even in a phone. The trick is nuking for long enough to do the job, but not long enough to destroy the microwave magnetron.

      2. carycat

        A fusion bomb produced EMP would definitely work, but don’t try this at home.
        Very, very strong magnetic field may work for old school hard disk, but not too effective on SSD.
        Short of physical destruction, elevated temperature is a good way to render data previously stored in the SSD unreadable. It is a matter of the physics of how SSD works. Each storage cell is has either a lot of electrons trapped in it, or very little. Electrons move around easier at higher temperatures so electrons in cells can escape confinement and lower the level to a point where it is no longer clear if it represents 1 or 0. Ditto, cells with low charge can have electrons drift in and confuse the issue. So if you are really paranoid, invest in a kiln or make friends with a professional potter.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          So “very elevated” as in 500 degrees in an oven isn’t hot enough.

          Seem the safest approach is:

          1. Pre heat to 400 degrees in oven

          2. Finish the job by boosting the temp from there with 5 seconds in microwave

          1. MoiAussie

            Baking a phone or flash drive in your oven may release a bunch of toxic chemicals that could contaminate your next roast dinner. You may want to avoid this unless you’ve got a spare oven. Wrapping it in high temperature baking/parchment paper may help a bit.

            Microwave nuking is quicker and easier, as the temperature rise is very fast and localised in the metallic parts of the device. The electronics gets fried long before the case etc melts. It’s no good for things in metal boxes though.

          2. Inode_buddha

            Far cheaper and easier to just use an ordinary propane torch. I did the math on the energy cost required vs an oven and the lowly Ace Hardware propane torch wins. I have and use an oxy-acetylene torch as part of my job, but that cost is underwritten elsewhere ;) (The o-a torch renders most things into a small puddle within seconds)

  4. Lupemax

    My morning read, every morning for the last many years, is NC which I so appreciate. But I also watched RT (Russian TV) news on my ROKU everyday as well (dumped cable not too long ago). Now RT has been removed from ROKU and I am sad. I could find nothing about this and when I called I was told the agreement with RT and ROKU had been dissolved, suddenly yesterday afternoon. I watched it yesterday morning and then poof gone when I logged on in the afternoon. Personally I think I see the heavy hand of censorship somehow? Anyone know anything else?

    1. Pat

      No, but Roku still has Pluto TV on it, and while I haven’t checked to see it is working they have a RT channel. It is annoying to me, and they would like you to register an email, but it is a means of watching RT.

      Considering the number of other channels that Roku carries officially, that story does seem to be misdirection, at least without more info.

    2. amousie

      Still a channel on my ROKU. Just added it now. So thank you. Was previously watching it via YouTube.

  5. Jim Haygood

    The WSJ’s claim about “economy poised for spring rebound” has some independent evidence to back it up. A site called DailyJobsUpdate tracks the annualized 3-month rate of change in federal withholding tax collections. A 21-period moving average (nominally one month with 21 business days) makes it quite responsive. Since mid-February this measure has blasted off from about 3.6% to nearly 7.0%:

    The Conference Board’s leading indicator has been rising steadily this year, while the Atlanta Fed’s early projection of 2Q 17 GDP is at 4.2%, well above the forecasters’ range of 2.1% to 3.2%.

    Looks like the economy has good momentum this quarter and may even be accelerating. We’d better get J-Yel & Stanley on the case to stop this alarming trend. /sarc

    1. Jim Haygood

      Bond king Jeffrey Gundlach compares the US unemployment rate (4.4% in yesterday’s report) to its 12-month (MA12) and 36-month (MA36) moving averages. Upward crossings signal recession. The slower 36-month MA is used for confirmation.

      This chart shows that MA12 (black line) rose above 1.0 in Jan 2001, contemporaneous with the onset of recession (bearing in mind that the U rate is reported with a 1-month lag; i.e. this value became available in early Feb 2001). In July 2007, it did so again with a 5-month lead time vs recession onset in Dec 2007.

      Currently MA12 is trending down, signifying a strengthening economy corresponding to a lower U rate.

      1. Darius

        If this is true, Republicans will have a fairly easy time in the 2018 elections.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Things can change. Current positive momentum is likely to carry on for a few months.

          But by then, the Fed’s “rate hikes for all” campaign could start to bite. When it comes to despiking the punch, they don’t stop until the punchbowl lies in broken shards on the sodden carpet.

          J-Yel consoles Stanley Fischer after a regretable accident:

        1. David Carl Grimes

          Although from a technical analysis point of view, it looks like the participation rate has bottomed out and is on its way up. But who really knows?

      2. John k

        But mosler points out growth in bank loans is crashing.
        Cash drained by foreign and domestic savers no longer being replaced.

        1. John k

          Plus peak in yoy employment growth was mar 2015, steadily declining to sub 1.6% now. Maybe because can’t find workers? But under 55 participation crashed and recently got worse. Not all won the lottery.

          Maybe ebay sellers, and employers refuse to pay enough to compete with low paid in home work.

    2. craazyman

      this is bad news for Team Crash.

      I saw two crash alerts just yesterday here. China and Oil. Oil evidently has “crashed” from just over $50 to just under $50. China has been about to crash since Li Po was composing Drinking Alone in the Light of the Moon and River Merchant’s Wife, and has a few times just to keep people on their toes.

      Team Crash owes lots of people a lot of explaining. How could they have been so wrong for so long and still keep putting out Crash Alerts.

      It doesn’t seem reasonable any more. It’s like predicting your baseball team ull win the World Series and it’s September and they’re like 62 wins and 92 losses. You wonder what they’re thinking! They may have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl, even though they’re a baseball team. Because the Super Bowl is still far enough in the future that, maybe, all the baseball players on your team can switch sports for the upcoming season!

      1. diptherio

        How could they have been so wrong for so long and still keep putting out Crash Alerts.

        They’ve learned from Krugman…?

        1. craazyman

          everybody on Wall Street learns early — if they can learn at all — that the key to being a successful forecaster is to keep on forecasting!

          nobody remembers anyway. LOL

          The investment business is “America’s Dumbest Business” (TM) from University of Magonia, all rights reversed.

          1. craazyboy

            Stephen Cobert should apply for a Wall Street forecaster job. [He may need it] He has just gone officially of the deep end headfirst in a swan dive with no bottoms in sight. Or a cygnet dive. They all look the same to me. Now he forecasts Trump and Putin will make beautiful music together and Putin is running America. How long can anyone be this deluded, and keep getting worse?

            I dunno. Just bought a used electric guitar by accident. Got the urge to try guitar playing and walked into Guitar Center to look around. They showed me a used Peavey Strat clone for $59 !! Looked brand new. Had one piece maple neck and body, rosewood fret board, and 4! Humbucker pickups with 5 position switch. Great shape and quality! Sounded great too – depending on switch position you can make it sound like a Strat or a Gibson Les Paul ! I couldn’t believe it. Yes, I whipped out my credit card and bought it.

            So now I’m taking youtube lessons. There are a ton of them. Truly the way to go. Learning Sunshine of Your Love and Whole Lotta Luv and some blues riffs for starters. This is harder than it seems. They say it might take 6 months before you can play 10 easy tunes.

            1. craazyman

              I heard an air guitar contest once and thought they all sounded awesome, so I went to Guitar Center and asked if they had any.

              They just laughed at me. So I found a dude on eBay selling one for $50. I got in in a few days but there was nothing in the box. Now he won’t answer my email. I wonder if the guys at Guitar Center knew this dude and that’s why they were laughing.

              They should have told me. It kind of makes me mad thinking about it. Some people just can’t put two and two together can they? Maybe that’s America’s Dumbest Business, they have people willing to spend money like me but they don’t have the product in stock and eBay eats their lunch.

              1. ambrit

                Don’t feel too bad craazyman. Your “vendor” was doing the same as Team XYZ does in politics; selling Hope. (Now available in DNC brand “Hopium.” Check with your spin doctor to see if “Hopium” is right for you.)
                It’s nice to have a civilized venue such as NC to “air” your grievance, no?
                Oh, do file a complaint with E-bay itself about that non performing vendor. E-bay gets quite nasty about people, places, and things that tarnish their lustre.

              2. subgenius

                I have friends that had an entire air band, and they managed to secure a record deal and play at Glastonbury.

              3. craazyboy

                I heard a steel drum band in Vegas once. The steel drums didn’t have any oil in them, kinda like 2006 vintage oil ETFs, but they hit them with sticks or anything else and they sounded great. Rhythm is key.

                My real reason for trying to learn guitar is it would be an outlet for my bottled up songwriting urges. These half done tunes go wafting thru my head and they are just begging to be completed.

                After my first two days of youtube lessons, I realized songs are just words, tempo, chords, rhythm, melody and maybe a hot guitar riff or solo. All you need to do is figure out what order to put all the stuff in. One youtuber pointed out that about 500 rock tunes were composed from about ten blues riffs and chords. And all these people are richer than God.

                So, first, I decided I needed a pen name. Being a white guy, no one would take me seriously writing blues tunes, and I wouldn’t even get fitty cent on Ebay for one.

                The name I settled on is Airbelly – Cajun King of the Blues and his guitar Lucille. [They all have names for their guitars]

                That should get me a 6 figure bid on Ebay for starters, then we’ll talk royalties and merchandising. I’m paying myself 10% as my manager. That’s probably a tax dodge.

                1. craazyboy


                  Started working on my first Airbelly tune. [copywrite]

                  Sun rises in the morning
                  Out walking the ‘hood streets
                  Picking me some air cotton
                  Picking me some licks.
                  Ain’t no money in air cotton
                  Licks are coming hard
                  Oh Lordie, my blues may get me tarred.


                  1. craazyman

                    It sounds like you need a 10 bagger. Walking around the streets picking at licks without any money is no fun.

                    How much better wuld this be:

                    Sun rises in the mornin
                    Layin in bed cause I don’t have to work
                    Headache from the red wine fadin
                    Coffee startin to perk
                    Think I’ll lay here forever
                    Watchin Star Trek and Captain Kirk
                    I don’t need no space ship baby
                    Just point my mind and there I go
                    Cause I got money baby
                    Don’t have to work no mo
                    Got a 0.5 mg of xanax,
                    Keeps me from gettin low, No gettin low
                    Everything comes to me baby
                    I think I might call up a ho

                    1. jonboinAR

                      I still recall Martin Mull’s “White Man’s Blues.” Went sumthin like this:
                      “Well I woke up this mornin’, and the Mercedes was gone.
                      Well I woke up this mornin’, and the Mercedes was gone.
                      Well I felt so bad, so lonesome,
                      I threw my drink across the lawn.”

                    2. craazyboy

                      Been trying to think of a name for it. I think “A Blues Odyssey” works great.

                      Just keep adding more words until it’s like a blues opera, kinda like “Pinball Wizard”.

                      It may never end.

                  2. craazyboy

                    Ok. More stanzas. This follows my opening stanza were Airbelly is still poor and before craazyman’s lyrics, where he’s big time, but before jonboin lyrics where he has rich people ups and downs.

                    Nobody can hear my air guitar
                    Gotta monkey and tin can
                    Monkey says he’ll get a loan broker job
                    Better way to be broke than.

                    Says he’s gonna quit
                    All it takes is an offer,
                    And then that’s it!
                    Gotta steal me a Gibson
                    or I’m in for…. shit.

                    Gotta steal me a Gibson
                    A Strat’s for Rock$Roll
                    Gibson is a blues guitar
                    Played by bros in the know.

                    [Now it’s way past time for a chorus. I like the Baptist chick choruses. They’re good if you have more beats to go in a line and run out of words. Just have them go “Ahhhhhh” for as long as it takes until the next line is ready. Do Wah Do Dahs are good too – but not that often in a blues opera. Being a chorus, they also do choruses. I still need to think of a chorus that goes here.TODO. But I thought of one to put after jonboin’s stanza. I see them shaking their heads and wagging their fingers at the camera while singing. I’m assuming there will be a video, musical production, or John Scorsese blockbuster.]

                    You bad person!
                    Suffering is for rich folks
                    Poor folks have happiness
                    Get rid yo material possessions
                    And let Jesus do the rest!

                    1. craazyboy

                      Note to self: I just finished Terry Pratchett’s novel, “Soul Guitar”. I think that’s what made me buy a guitar by “accident”.

                    2. craazyboy

                      I just remembered the guitar store guy said the two upper pickups are Humbuckers and the two lower are the originals that give the more bright, metallic sound. Humbuckers have coils wound opposing so they cancel out the high harmonics and give a deeper, true tone.

                      All four are mounted in the front of the body. The two originals are mounted all the way down almost next to underneath where the strings get terminated in the metal bridge. The tremolo bar is connected to the bridge there too. The two Humbuckers are spaced with one underneath the strings just below the neck-body joint. The other is between that and the original pair.

                      The 5 position switch then lets you set which combination of pickups is active.

                      The store guy made it sound like this was a modified setup. At that point I just wanted to buy it and not ask a bunch of questions!

                      Also, correction. I meant Martin Scorsese down below.

                2. HopeLB

                  I can’t wait for your first album, particularly your lyrics! Then I started wondering if your music is beautiful, soulful blues while your lyrics are hilarious and far reaching/mind bending if it wouldn’t create an uncomfortable tension in the listener whose mind would wish to focus/laugh about the lyrics while the music sort of shuffled them past your astute observations too quickly, but then I thought maybe you could intersperse instrumental/non-lyrical interludes to allow your audience time to laugh and/or process. It will be brilliant and lovely and I’ll subscribe to your channel as soon as it’s up. (Maybe your interludes could make use of the didgeradoo? Blues didgeradoo? The music of the Downtrodden carried by the wind of the Down Under. Could be a hook (at least for Aussie sales).

                  1. craazyboy

                    Thankyou, thankyou. [bows, deeply with flowery flourish of hand.]

                    You’re my first official groupie! When I do the site, we should stage some fake pics of you charging the stage after encores and cheers and giving me big hugs and kisses. That could be hot.

                    One of the easiest things to do is makes blues shift moods. Us experienced guitar music composers think of our guitars as having “voices”. Lucille [bitch that she is], can easily go from soulful, to mournful, to angry, simply by how hard I pick a note, how long I hold a bend or pull notes, and how hard I strum a chord. I mastered these things in my second hour of practice.

                    Problem is doing two things in a row is hard.

            2. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

              Let us know when you can play like Alvin Lee (Check out The Woodchopper’s Ball).

              1. craazyboy

                He was my first guitar hero – in the short period of history before EC.

                “I’d Love To Change the World” was a blues-rock guitar classic.

                Johnny Winter, arguably the mother of blues riffs gone electric, was still doing Chuck Berry tunes at Woodstock!

                1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

                  My current guitar hero is Angelo Debarre and according to Wikipedia at time of typing he is still alive and twanging in the Django manner.

                  You’ve tried the rest, now hear best:

                  Try searching yewtube (it started with a sheep video) for: Angelo Debarre live Roma 2013 and go on from there.

                  pip pip

                  1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

                    Stage Name suggestion:

                    Here in Australia “Rough as guts” is slang for: well, you probably have the image in you mind already.
                    I’m never gonna have a band so you can use mine:

                    Rufus Gutz and The Truck Roll-Overs
                    – (Unsafe with any speed)

                    I think they might be louder than my hearing could cope with.

                    pip pip

                  2. craazyboy

                    Hmm. Them is some lightning fast finger pickin’.

                    Airbelly descended from Cajin Great, Ledbelly – Creator of “House Of The Rising Sun” – which also is Airbelly’s birthplace. Even says so on the LA Birth Cert. Got his baby picture attached too and fingerprints, as required by law down there. They got the idea from Alabama back then.

                    Then there is slide guitar too! Here’s Cajin Great, Sonny Landreth on slide guitar doing a great, live Congo Square performance. One of my fav tunes.

                    Airbelly may be able to pull off an approximation of parts someday.

      2. Brian

        The problem may be that the alleged/accepted value of a commodity is priced in paper. Only a few dozen entities determine this paper has meaning, and then print it to purchase what they want. The paper is being printed in greater quantity every day, but the commodity is not. The commodity has value due to relative scarcity and demand.
        We can start with water, soil, oil, air…. as critical commodities to our livelihoods but by no means a comprehensive list.

        So, the basics for life on this planet are priced in paper. As long as that continues, everything about a future is an illusion. As this manufactured dream disolves, so does reality.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Um, yes.

          Oil, the very lifeblood of the world economy and food supply, spiked to $140 bucks a few years ago (it’s $50 today). This had absolutely nothing to do with supply and demand, it was a few sh*theads in suits who simply put the price there at the behest of a few billionaire or political masters.

          Enforcement of a few simple laws would instantly solve this but we live in a post-law era as the Comey testimony so amply demonstrated. A starving guy steals a loaf and gets an orange jumpsuit, a banker steals the GDP of nations and gets a bigger yacht.

        2. LifelongLib

          The distinction between demand and paper is a false one, because demand can only be expressed by people with paper. In fact in modern properly functioning economies supply generally exceeds demand — not because there aren’t people who need things, but because the people in need don’t have the paper to translate those needs into economic demand.

      3. Sandler

        Under fiat money I don’t see how assets can be allowed to “crash” in price (but as a percentage of total money in supply, have they really gone up?), what declines is quality of life of regular people.

    3. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      May 6, 2017 at 8:07 am

      I look at the unemployment figures, and it demonstrates if economists could put a saddle on a platypus they would believe the platypus could win the Kentucky Derby….

      1. Jim Haygood

        It falls a bit short of science. More in the realm of a heuristic. Basic idea is to stay in gear with the trend. If unemployment has been falling for months, then the economy is not shrinking.

        The U rate is from the household survey, which gives a direct window into what people are thinking:

        There are about 60,000 eligible households in the sample for this survey. This translates into approximately 110,000 individuals each month, a large sample compared to public opinion surveys, which usually cover fewer than 2,000 people.

        The sample is a state-based design and reflects urban and rural areas, different types of industrial and farming areas, and the major geographic divisions of each state.

        Every month, one-fourth of the households in the sample are changed, so that no household is interviewed for more than 4 consecutive months. After a household is interviewed for 4 consecutive months, it leaves the sample for 8 months, and then is again interviewed for the same 4 calendar months a year later, before leaving the sample for good.

        As a result, approximately 75 percent of the sample remains the same from month to month and 50 percent remains the same from year to year. This procedure strengthens the reliability of estimates of month-to-month and year-to-year change in the data.

        This is great data — the sample size beats the living hell out of the crappy, useless presidential polls which wasted countless hours of our valuable time last year.

  6. dao

    RE: Macron hacking. Like in the case of the DNC hacking, the “real news” is not about the content of the e-mails but about the hacking itself. Of course, the Russians did it. Trying to get ahead of the real story (the content of the e-mails) the Macron camp is saying there are “fake” e-mails mixed in with authentic ones.

    Just a few hours after the release of the e-mails, they already knew the Russians did it and that e-mails were forged. This is what passes for “real news”.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      They French liberals do seem very determined to recreate the Clinton campaign in short form.

      1) It’s inevitable, candidate has a huge lead in the polls.

      2) Get hacked, blame it on Russians, claim the documents are fake anyway without providing any proof.

      3) Have other liberals (Varoufakis) do op eds saying yes, the neoliberal candidate is awful but vote for them anyway because the other candidate and all their supporters are racist.

      It’s as if these neolibs know deep down that despite their claims to the contrary about ‘helping’, they are really just greedy assholes and some inchoate sense of guilt makes them want to lose as a form of penance. That’s the best theory I can come up with for what sure looks like abject stupidity.

      1. BillC

        Just finished reading Tom Frank’s “Listen, Liberal,” in which he posits that what passes for “the left” has abandoned the working class for the credentialed/professional class, whose guiding ethic is meritocracy. The meritocrats stick together and are convinced, despite results to the contrary, they have all the right answers. At most, they may admit to needing better propaganda.

        I don’t think they want to lose (they don’t merit that!), they simply have no clue what to do about the fact that half of humanity is, by definition, below average, yet still need (and occasionally even demand) social and living conditions that meet human needs, regardless of merit.

        Varoufakis’ piece, what I see daily in political coverage in Italy, and what I read here of other developed nations’ politics convinces me that not only is Frank correct, but that his thesis applies throughout the developed world — which, after all, does require meritocratic expertise (AKA “little Eichmanns”) to keep the capitalist engines turning profitably.

        1. Marina Bart

          I think it’s important to always remind people that the beneficiaries of “meritocracy” for the most part are good at things that are not what anyone thinks of as merit. They’re rewarded for being born into a particular class, being compliant to power, and being willing to say and do things they know to be wrong (standardized testing now amplifies not just test prep training which privileges money, but a willingness to spit out answers that are incorrect simply because either an authority figure wants it or improved status or opportunity depends on it).

          These factors are far more important that intelligence, diligence, grit or any other trait that the ruling class insists makes all the difference. In fact, none of those things do.

          1. BillC

            Thanks, Marina. Agreed. Anyone who’s worked in corporate America can testify to that. I’m sorry my my remark “below average” invites the inference that corporate or political elites’ judgements of merit … have any merit at all. But regardless of the dimension by which merit is judged — whether kissing your superiors’ a** or diligent application of creative intelligence — a humane society provides for the basic human needs of all its members. Neoliberal orthodoxy is totally blind to this basic moral imperative.

            BTW, I’m glad you’ve joining forces with Yves and Lambert. The three of you cover an amazingly wide spectrum.

            1. Marina Bart

              Thank you for the compliment. I don’t know if I can be deemed to have “joined forces” with Yves and Lambert. I’m still just a guest at this party. I am honored and delighted that Yves and Lambert respect my writing and thinking enough to elevate it to the front page on occasion. I came to Naked Capitalism to learn and understand things that my previous sources of information were inadequate (or actively deceptive) in explaining. So every time I write anything — either in the comments or as a post — that Yves, Lambert, or the rest of the commentariat find valuable, I feel like I am giving back to the site, which makes me happy.

              You’re absolutely right that definitionally, according to the paradigm under which meritocracy operates, half the population is below average. So we have now reached the stage where the the supposedly meritorious are asserting that the non-meritorious do not deserve to live. The neat trick is that many of those elevated under meritocracy are not, in fact, above average according to the measurement system they themselves espouse. The whole point of meritocracy is to lock in status and economic advantage for people who would otherwise lose that status and advantage to others in a fair competition.

              Then there is the additional problem, which is that there are all sorts of problems with the measurement systems we use under this paradigm. Only certain kinds of character traits and cognitive abilities are measured and treasured, and even what is being measured via IQ tests is deeply problematic. What’s being tested is too limited, the tests aren’t being normed well enough on the far “high” side to be reliable (you know, that would be the side where “intellectual merit” would supposedly be found), the numeric system creates a misleading rank ordering usage that reinforces a profoundly inaccurate understanding of what an IQ number actually means, socioeconomic status has far more impact on all this than those who benefit from the system want to admit, and the whole thing is based on the assumption that intelligence distribution follows a Bell Curve. There is, however, some interestingly suggestive data that, in the wild, intelligence (even the type that fits the meritocratic paradigm) does not follow a Bell Curve. If that’s true, then everything else about the norming and rank ordering of the system is also undermined. So there are a great many problems with our current process for determining intelligence, which we are told is privileged by the neoliberal system. In reality, high intelligence is not in any way privileged in this system. People are punished every day for thinking. Thinking is inconvenient to the smooth operation of the system.

              And I agree 100% — neoliberalism is profoundly immoral.

        2. different clue

          Since they flatter themselves as being an aristocracy of merit, perhaps we should change the name of their class to the meristocracy. And start calling them meristocrats.

    2. Mel

      For me the real news is that the Macron campaign, too, is an industrial product, delivered complete in a plastic clam-shell package. Now includes Russian hacking.

      Yet to decide whether the Macron candidate is the same, as Obama and Trudeau could be.

  7. David

    On the Macron leak, the campaign is now over, and the French election authorities have asked the media not to publish any of the documents or comment on them. This will probably be respected.
    I doubt if the leak was intended to influence the results directly, though given that leaks recently (Fillon, Clinton, even Macron’s use of government funds for dinners for potential supporters) have in the end been found to be accurate, there may be a hope that some hesitating voters may decide not to vote Macron, but stay at home, to avoid buyer’s remorse later. This won’t affect the overall result, but it may undermine Macron slightly, especially if it pushes the turnout below even that which is expected. (The weather forecast tomorrow is poor). Macron’s campaign has been rending its garments and gnashing its teeth all over a very sympathetic media, which hasn’t neglected to blame Russia. This again may make people feel there’s no smoke without fire.
    The real purpose, I think, is to undermine Macron after the election (assuming he wins) and before he takes power in about ten days. There will be a media frenzy which can only make his position weaker, and also make people a bit less likely to vote for his candidates in the June parliamentary elections. Who gains from this? Most probably the Right, whose objective will be to become the largest bloc in the new parliament, and force Macron to accept a Prime Minister of their choosing. This could amount, in the end, to a victory for Fillon by the back door, even if he personally is unlikely to be Prime Minister. Meanwhile, the Left seems to be doing its usual Judean People’s Liberation Front act, which means it will probably lose massively in the parliamentary elections.

    1. MoiAussie

      Hi David. I can understand that the Socialists will struggle to get support after Hollande.

      But could you offer an opinion on who Mélenchon supporters are likely to support in the June parliamentary elections? Are there any candidates aligned with him or endorsed by him?

      1. David

        He’s trying to negotiate an agreement with the Communists, who are quite powerful in certain constituencies, but as of this morning they were still arguing about financing the campaign together. It’s all complicated by the two-round structure of the elections, and the fact that you can have so-called “triangular” second rounds with three parties if they all cross the necessary threshold (from memory, 12%). The number crunchers have been applying the latest poll figures for the presidential to the parliamentary elections, but it doesn’t look good for either Mélenchon or Le Pen. There’s a good chance that Mélenchon’s party will do quite well in the first round, but will be beaten in most places in the second. It’s probable, but not certain, that in constituencies where the Socialists come second to the Right, Mélencon’s people will support the Socialist candidate, but we really are in the realms of speculation here.

        1. MoiAussie

          Appreciated, thanks. It’s mildly tragic the traditional left can’t get it together in any meaningful way. But politics is evolving beyond the linear left-right spectrum, and anyone wanting sanity and humanity probably needs to look elsewhere for their champions.

    2. jCandlish

      The timing of the release of this document cache seems planned to inflict the maximum damage on Macron without giving the election to Le Pen.

      Also, when will encryption finally catch on? There is no reason for this leak to have occurred without compromising the identity of the leaker.

    3. Skip Intro

      The leak came from Macron/TPTB themselves, as a way of turning an upset loss into another casus belli against the evil russkis, and a way of tainting the legitimacy of a LePen win. They’re hedging.

    4. Bill Smith

      “The real purpose, I think, is to undermine Macron after the election (assuming he wins) and before he takes power in about ten days”

      Leaving chaos in the wake of an election was historically a strategy of the Soviet Union and carried out by the KGB. It was discussed / directed from the highest levels of the Soviet Union. It is in Politburo minutes that came west after the fall of the Soviet Union.

      In the reports that the KGB would send up to the Politburo, they would detail how many ‘fake’ news articles they planted in each western countries media.

      The Soviets where not the only country that did this. And now one doesn’t need to be a country to do it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yah, Bill, thanks for including that obscure line about “the Soviets where not the only country that did this.” I understand you may have first hand knowledge and maybe experience about how “our” glorious Democratic USA has done and does this “leaving chaos” stuff, pretty much everywhere, and over and over, in service of what, again? The “national interest?”… a legacy to be proud of…

  8. Chris G

    UK elections: The relentless pro-Tory spin being put on yesterday’s local election results seems designed to brainwash us into seeing the Tories as the only credible choice in next month’s general election. Their ‘interpretation’ of results in Scotland has been particularly blatant: see Craig Murray’s excellent analysis at , (his post is currently being read by 20,000 visitors an hour!)
    and the estimable Wings over Scotland at
    If only we had an English National Party… (No, not UKIP, who have crashed since the Tories are now clearly indistinguishable from them.)

    1. MoiAussie

      Thanks for the links. Yet another example of how the mainstream media has been utterly captured, shamelessly authoring and parrotting utter bs and blatant propaganda. The BBC has been execrable for years, and Australia’s ABC is heading the same way. Political interference, successive purges and “headcount restructuring” have led to inexperienced, compliant journalists merely manufacturing content to orders from above.

      Had a similar reaction on reading Carolinian’s piece on Comey linked at the top of the coments. An eminently sensible assessment of Comey’s muddled, unprincipled and blatantly political stances that you’d never see in the MSM.

      Supporting independent online media and fighting to keep it highly visible is one of the most important tasks ahead.

  9. fresno dan

    There are two very strong points of Lofgren’s book. First, Lofgren is somebody who knows the system from the inside (he worked for almost thirty years in Congress, sat on budget and armed services committees and knows personally a number of key political players). He thus brings to the book a knowledge that a political science professor just simply does not have. Second, Lofgren shows that there are strong links between domestic and foreign policy preferences of the deep state. The rising political power of the rich (documented by Larry Bartels and Martin Gilens) and increasing income inequality (documented by so many that it is superfluous to give citations) are, as Lofgren shows, intrinsically linked to domestic policy choices that reduce taxes on the rich, provide an increasing number of loopholes for the rich, curb social spending, but also (and only apparently contradictorily) increase military spending. Why the latter? Because the beneficiaries from the military spending are precisely the members of the deep state. As Lofgren argues, TARP and military spending are just the two facets of the same coin: the use of government resources for the benefit of the rich.
    If you don’t like “deep state” one could substitute the “wonky 0.1%” and use Bob Rubin as an example, or I like the “(supposed) enlightened vampire squid”

    1. fresno dan


      We should, it seems, stop thinking of government spending as the opposite of private spending. This is because government spending has two radically different constituencies and two very different objectives. One part of government spending (the one that we traditionally emphasize) serves the needs of the middle class and the poor: social security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits. This is the part that, from the point of view of the deep state, should be cut. The second part of government spending is to support (when needed) the financial sector and to buy new military hardware. There, the beneficiaries are the people from the other end of the income distribution spectrum: the financiers, owners and managers of large military supplier companies, telecommunications, private security firms and the like. When we think of government in this way, the apparent paradox of Republicans (and many Democrats) being at the same time in favor of smaller government, and TARP and larger military spending vanishes.
      As always, when you dig deeper, the origins of domestic and foreign policies are to be found in economic interests. An oft-used aphorism says that “all politics is local”. It would be more appropriate to say that “all politics is about money”.
      Who gets the money, and who doesn’t get the money. Or as I always say, “reform” in the US is first, second, and always about INSURING (pun intended) that any possibility of the rich suffering a financial loss is unpossible.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        One question I’ve had about the .01%, for example, is just how much money do they need? After a certain point (The First Billion, The Tenth, etc) there is a superfluous aspect to all that extra cash and wealth. Or do they just want it to want it? Or want it to maintain status? Or to preserve their posterity or their posterior? Or to keep the masses down? All of the above?

        How much study has been done on that? Any conclusions to help enlighten the enquirers?

        1. JTMcPhee

          I recall Crosby&Nash (and George Carlin, of course, among others) sorted that out for the rest of us a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

          “They Want It All”

          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how
          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how

          Want that Mercedes, that gulf stream too
          They want to get, get it from you
          They want your life savings and your mothers ring
          They’d like to have everything

          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how
          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how

          They want that mansion and they want it full
          Of wine and women and political pull
          They always have a President or two
          That’s how they get away with what they do
          That’s how they do it

          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how
          They want it all, they want it now
          They want to get it and they don’t care how

          They bleed the companies they’re supposed to run
          Ain’t no different than taking your money with a gun
          They make it to Jamaica and their wire comes through
          They sacrifice a lawyer and they’re laughing at you

          They want it all (they want it all) they want it now (they want it now)
          They want to get it and they don’t care how
          They want it all (they want it all) they want it now (they want it now)
          They want to get it and they don’t care how

          They don’t get prosecuted don’t even get charged
          They’re somewhere in the sun belt living it large
          And the government says we can’t prove they did it at all
          Besides they’ve got these underlings ready to take the fall

          They want it all (they want it all) they want it now (they want it now)
          They want to get it and they don’t care how
          They want it all (they want it all) they want it now (they want it now)
          They want to get it and they don’t care how

          These people that they stole from who’s lives they laid to waste
          They should have to meet them all face to face
          And explain just why their momma didn’t teach ’em not to steal
          If you want us to believe in justice, justice better be real

          Better be, better be, real
          Got to be real yeah, mmm, ooh!

          I’m talking to you now
          Got to be real

          They just don’t give a damn

          d). All of the above.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Or from the more recent Soundgarden song Non-State Actor:

            We’re not elected
            But we will speak
            We’re not the chosen
            But we believe
            And we settle for
            A little bit more than everything.

          2. Katharine

            A kind of illness. I understand, by the way, that Trump has declared May National Mental Health Awareness Month.

          3. fresno dan

            May 6, 2017 at 10:39 am

            Its hard to fathom, but what you don’t have is as important to them as what they have.

            1. LifelongLib

              It’s better to be king of a dunghill than just another guy in a palace, right?

              1. different clue

                It’s better to be king of THE dunghill . . . the ONLY dunghill. . . than just another guy in just another palace.

        2. Vatch

          @Enquiring Mind at 10:17 AM: I think the answer is “all of the above”, although there will certainly be variance among the oligarchs.

          As for maintaining status, remember when Trump would insist that he had $10 billion, even though Forbes estimated his wealth at about $4.5 billion (later reduced to $3.7 billion)? It probably drove him nuts that people believed that there were more than 150 Americans who were richer than he was.

          1. Carl

            We are the peculiar variant of monkey that determines our happiness by looking at the nearest monkeys around us.

  10. allan

    GOP bill would cut low-cost NY health plan [D&C]

    A low-cost health insurance option used by more than 600,000 New York residents would shut down if the Republican health care plan becomes law.

    New York’s Essential Plan would be defunded under the American Health Care Act approved Thursday by the House of Representatives, …

    The Essential Plan is a basic, no-deductible health insurance plan available to low-income New York residents for free or $20 a month, depending on income. It has become a popular program under the state’s health exchange since it started two years ago. …

    The Essential Plan has more than 665,000 enrollees this year, about 18 percent of the 3.6 million enrolled in some form of coverage through the state’s health exchange. …

    The Buffalo News reported Thursday that Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, was unaware of the Essential Plan cut despite voting in favor of the GOP bill.

    On Friday, Collins issued a statement blasting the “falsehoods being spread about the ‘Essential Plan’.”

    “Going forward these patient populations will be covered on the individual marketplace,” Collins said. “This will provide New Yorkers with more choice and flexibility, as well as lower costs.” …

    I know people on the Essential Plan. Collins is smoking Ayn Rand flavored crack if he thinks `the market’ is going to provide them with affordable insurance. Of course, Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump,
    is worth $66 million and actually doesn’t give a [FAMILY BLOG] about the people who are on the Essential Plan.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      The program — an optional plan allowed by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare — offers major federal reimbursements, which would be cut under the American Health Care Act.

      So many secret ways that the government actually pays for “healthcare,” while pretending that insurance companies are really doing it and really, really deserve the profit they’re making.

      1. marym

        2002 study (PDF)

        60 Percent of Health Spending is Already Publicly Financed, Enough to Cover Everyone

        “Americans already pay for national health insurance — they just don’t get it. In this 2002 Health Affairs paper, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler point out that the standard accounting miscategorizes two major public health expenditures as private: the tax credit for private health insurance and the cost of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program…. A single-payer system could provide such coverage to all Americans with no need for additional health dollars.”

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          From the Jacobin link provided by dcblogger below:

          The ACA, which may or may not die in the Senate, only ever made sense as an intermediate step toward a universal provision of health care. It was a big, ugly, ungainly, cobbled-together thing that, for all the partisan paeans to its wonderfulness and indispensability, never really worked very well.

          The part that did work was Medicaid expansion. In other words, the part that worked was the single-payer program that the Democrats so ardently refused — continue to refuse — to endorse.

          I welcome this sudden commitment to people with “pre-existing” conditions. Sooner or later it’s going to occur to someone that these are the sick people that the most free-spending “healthcare” system in the world apparently can’t afford to treat. At some point it’s going to dawn on some genius that a “healthcare” system that only includes healthy people shouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as this one is.

          1. John k

            And even less costly if insurer refuses to pay when the healthy person gets sick. Or pregnant.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Would Single Payer pay for itself?

          Doesn’t that depend on the details of any particular Single Payer plan, including, among other things, cost reduction measures, like negotiating drug prices, and health care provider fees, both keep going up everyday, so that what might have been adequate or affordable in 2002, needs to be cheaper today?

  11. fresno dan

    And something else
    “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal

    I heard that quote Wednesday night in the movie Roger Corman’s Death Race 2050. It was a remake of a movie he had made years earlier – Death Race 2000 (the earlier version was better IMHO….more subtle…). The black female driver says the Pascal quote to another female and it is meant to be a jarring revelation that the stereotype of an urban rapper death racer and reality are two different things.

    Apparently the movie was made very quickly after the presidential election, or some parts were edited in to take advantage of Trump as president.

    Anyway, I knew I had heard that quote before, but where?

    Just serendipity of hearing the same interesting quote in two very different venues….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Didn’t know he was a meditating Zen monk.

      Speaking of zazen, “nothing is better than something.”

      Upon that enlightenment, one is content to stay in bed.

      “Why should I inflict more pain upon the world by inventing more tech gadgets, making up more economic theories, and uncovering more knowledge about how the brain can be manipulated through brain research?”

      I actually would not feel so bad to know we have not found new and better replacements for PCBs. Who knows what danger lurks there in that terra incognita.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I should clarify the statement “nothing is better than somthing.”

        Normally, when we say, ‘no one is prettier than you, my dear,’ or ‘nothing is cuter than a cat.’ that the X in ‘nothing is better than X,’ that X is the best thing in the world.

        And when we say, ‘not being hungry is better than being hungry,’ we mean in the sense of X > Y, when we say, X is better than Y.

        Here, I mean to say, having or doing nothing is better than having or doing something, in the same sense of having or doing nothing > having or doing something.

  12. fresno dan

    UAE to DRAG ICEBERG from Antarctica to solve water shortage set to last 25 years Daily Express

    I don’t know how many (3 dozen???) articles I have read over the years on iceberg dragging, yet apparently it has NEVER happened.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And surprisingly (or not), no consideration given to maybe not building huge cities in the middle of a desert on the first place.

      1. Procopius

        Are they in the middle of a desert? I thought they were on the coast. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought the Arabic name for the desert wat “the empty quarter.” No cities there. They’d better hurry or there won’t be any ice in Antarctica for them to harvest. Investing in Israeli-developed desalinization plants might be a better long term investment.

    2. ambrit

      Do you know just how large the sails would have to be to move even a smallish iceberg? You’d have to use most of the water “harvested” just to grow the cotton needed to weave the material for those sails. Of course, when the iceberg melts away, or, as happens “in the wild,” the iceberg flips upside down, those sails would be a prototypical “sunk cost.” The economics of it do not compute.
      Also, who would sail the iceberg? Snorri Disneyson and his pixarlated pyrates?
      Better all around to use the most abundant natural resource in the desert climes, sunlight, and flash distill seawater. Larry Nivens’ “Slaver Sunflowers” and a big above ground tank would do the trick. “Growing flowers in the desert.”

    3. Aumua

      Article is complete BS. Vaporware. Nothing to see here. I’m not even going to waste any time deconstructing it.

          1. ambrit

            I bow down and make obescience.
            You are obviously a Zen Pun Master. Did you go to a monastery where during remeditation practice, the master hits you over the head with a rubber chicken to aid in your efforts at concentration, or was it one of the monasteries that practiced the admittedly controversial variant of the Hahayana Noun Engagement Practice?
            Enquiring minds want to No.

    4. Wyoming

      And let us hope it never does happen as doing so would utterly destroy the marine ecosystem in any warm water location it was towed to. All the creatures and sea vegetation would perish due to the sharp change in water temperatures any where near an iceberg towed to the Middle East. An insane idea prompted by desperation.

      We are going to see a lot of those kinds of ‘solution’ in the next few decades.

  13. paul

    Slight correction to the torygraph link

    Labour lost 112 seats north of the border while Theresa May’s party gained 164, more than doubling their previous tally. The SNP remain the largest party with 431 seats – marginally fewer than in 2012.

    In torygraph arithmetic 425 is marginally fewer than 431

    1. MoiAussie

      I think you may have meant In torygraph arithmetic 431 is marginally fewer than 425

  14. fresno dan

    Trump: ‘Everybody’ has better healthcare than US The Hill

    President Trump said Friday that “everybody” has better healthcare than the United States.

    “Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great,” Trump tweeted.
    “It’s a very good bill right now. The premiums are going to come down very substantially. The deductibles are going to come down. It’s going to be fantastic healthcare. Right now ObamaCare is failing; we have a failing healthcare,” Trump said Thursday alongside Turnbull.

    Critics, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have noted the Australian system is the opposite of the GOP plan.

    ”Thank you, Mr. President,” a laughing Sanders said on MSNBC on Thursday night. “Let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country on Earth does: guarantee healthcare to all people at a fraction of the cost per capita that we spend.”

    During the 2016 campaign, Trump said his healthcare plan would ensure coverage for all Americans. But the House GOP bill could result in lost coverage for millions of Americans.

    This is one of those things where Trump can make just bizarrely untrue statements. And I was wondering why does it succeed with so many people??? And all I can figure is at least Trump is advocating something that is clear, simple, and desirable.
    Dems could counter with a clear, simple, desirable policy, e.g., medicare for all. But they don’t….
    WHY NOT???
    Because they are SOOOO responsible….to the people buying they off. Or is there another reason?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if here (everyone has it better) Trump is pulling a Sanders.

      “It’s up to you do it.”

      Meanwhile, everyone continues to reference everything to Trump and to Sanders…Trump voters, Sanders voters, etc. (never JUST the ideas themselves, AND, actually, the ideas are not unique or new…think Denmark, Roosevelt).

      “It’s up to you all to send Single-Payer politicians to congress.”

    2. Eureka Springs

      How many times and ways does a casino tell you you are a winner?

      Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks. How many people only gather news in sound bites?

      How many people selectively hear what they want to hear?

      Trump doesn’t have to say that very often to get credit since shunned Sanders is the other prominent person saying it. Whilst prominent Pelosi or HRC say no way, no how, if they say anything at all.

    3. jonboinAR

      It’s our Democratic leader’s very corruption and transparent hypocrisy makes their arguments wither before Trumps outrageous stretchers. While they cravenly, disgustingly, fingers twisting together, voices high pitched and trembling, try to feed us that same tired BS, Trump heartily bellows, “Yeah, our health care system does suck. It’s the worst!” We’re so struck and pleased by this rare expression of honesty that we’re apt to accept anything he says next, particularly if its delivered in the same tone.

    4. different clue

      No. There is no other reason. That is the reason.

      “Impeachment is off the table.”

      “Never. Ever.”

      Your Democrats on parade.

    5. Procopius

      Foolish me. A couple of days ago I found the RedState article about Trump, after he was elected, saying under his plan the benefits will be better, the premiums will be lower, and THE GOVERNMENT WILL PAY FOR IT. Now Google will not return the link. Wonder how much the RNC and/or Trump Org paid them to remove that from memory. Anyway, things on the internet often do not go away. I do not understand why everybody seems to suppress memory of this speech. Well, OK, the Democratic Elite get a lot of money from ignoring it, but I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who remembers it.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Trump: ‘Everybody’ has better healthcare than US The Hill

    “Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does.

    The president raised eyebrows Thursday night when he heaped praise on Australia’s universal healthcare system even though that type of system is widely derided by conservatives.

    While eyebrows may have been raised due to political implications, I haven’t heard much in the way of disagreement about the accuracy of the statement. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard any.

    As for the wide “derision” of “that type of system,” I believe said derision is one of those rare instances of bipartisanship which americans are reported to crave.

    1. fresno dan

      Katniss Everdeen
      May 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

      “As for the wide “derision” of “that type of system,” I believe said derision is one of those rare instances of bipartisanship which americans are reported to crave.”

      Very good point. American politics is not quite as good as professional wrestling. Like wrestling, we don’t get to select the participants, and like wrestling, the outcome is predetermined….
      But nobody yells at you for being cynical for denigrating wrestling, unlike when one points out that American politics would benefit from more Russia media reporting of how “Merica really works….

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Gender inequality is holding back US economy, Yellen warns Financial Times

    Probably should add IQ-inequality as well.

    Those born with a mental-silver-spoon, by definition, know without much effort (the sign of a true genius). They program algorithmic trading before entering kindergarten.

    If you worked very hard, and barely got your Ph.D., then, you’re not likely an IQ-oppressor. You’re one of us, the mental 99%.

  17. jfleni

    RE: Suddenly, Oil Below $40 a Barrel Doesn’t Seem So Far-Fetched.

    The grease monkeys and the Princelings don’t believe it, but looking at the rise of electric cars and the general rejection of motor vehicle transport, the oil age is not only ending, but dying quickly.

    These very same clowns can be counted on to swindle and deceive themselves while it lasts. Could’nt happen to a more deserving bunch!

    1. subgenius

      ‘general rejection of motor vehicle transport’

      Where is this reality, and how do I get there?

      1. ambrit

        Check out the homeless on foot, and those who have lost their drivers licenses and are riding about on bicycles. They are showing up everywhere now.

  18. fresno dan

    Watch a cop’s staged body cam footage made “to look like it was done in real-time“ ars technica. Yuk.

    Now the body cam footage of Pueblo Police Department Officer Seth Jensen, which was used in court, is being published exclusively by Ars Technica. The video above shows Jenson finding a .357 Magnum, about 7 grams of heroin, and 43 $1 bills in the vehicle suspect Joseph Cajar was traveling in. The vehicle was towed after Cajar couldn’t provide an officer registration or insurance during a traffic stop.

    In the footage, provided to Ars by Cajar’s attorney, Jensen reenacts the vehicle search at a local tow yard. Jensen later texted (PDF) a local Pueblo County prosecutor telling her that the video was staged. That prosecutor then alerted her superiors, and charges against Cajar were dropped.

    “This was concerning because all indications in the discovery and during his testimony at the preliminary hearing indicated that the body camera footage actually represented the sequence of events as they developed regarding the search. Furthermore, the staging was done in such a way to make it look like it was done in real-time. (The items had to be repositioned etc.),” Joe Koncilja, Cajar’s attorney, told Ars in an e-mail.

    Again, I come back to the fact that there is a legal presumption that police officers are telling the truth. How much reality is necessary to disabuse the ‘Merican legal system of that fantasy????
    But of course, the ‘Mercian legal system’s point isn’t justice…..

    1. Huey Long

      I can’t wait to sit on a jury someday so I can vote to acquit and tell my fellow jurors “I think the cop was lying” as they berate me for it.

      I may not be able to acquit the poor fellow, but I can sure hang the jury and make the prosecutor try the case again.

      Commentariat, how far fetched is my juror fantasy? I’ve never served on one before.

      1. fresno dan

        Huey Long
        May 6, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        I have served on several and if you have the spine, you can do it.

        I will note something interesting – I forget when I first noticed this, but JUDGES ask jurors during voir dire , and the judge says not to tell him the OUTCOME of the jury vote, but did the jury you served on reach a unanimous decision.
        If that isn’t skewing the outcome to those that will go along with the group, I don’t know what is…..

      2. ambrit

        I too have been on a Federal Jury no less, and the point is germane. However, crowd dynamics sets in on juries and there develops an increasingly venomous drive to force internal cohesion. Standing up to a group of people who really, really expect you to go along to get along takes courage.
        fresno dan just above is right about the mechanics of how a jury is “managed” by the officiate.
        After the jury I was on returned a “hung jury” on a “pill mill” case, the Judge came in to the jury room, accompanied by the Prosecutor, and asked to know why we had “hung.” We were quite specific about what had soured us on the prosecution. The Judge, now that I think about it, did not ask us what the vote had ended up as, just the reasons why that outcome had occurred.

  19. JTMcPhee

    Anybody wants to try to keep touch with what all this sh!t “we” talk about in grand geopolitical terms actually means, day to day, for ordinary people and their infrastructure and all, here’s a reminder:

    And of course the sidebar to that link will take you into the entire insane mess that “our” government and military and the thing we cannot refer to as the “deep state” or whatever are birthing and fostering.

    Look at all those pretty Grad rockets, fresh from their ammo crates, the ceremony of threading in the fuses, the random whoosh-BANG of unguided ballistic artillery rockets from their launchers, the mumbled or shouted invocation of the Deity which emits with “victory” or with the death of a comrade (in whateveer today’s alignment of “gunman” groups happens to be.

    “Capture the flag(s)” for man-children…

    1. George Lane

      Thanks for sharing. Syriangirlpartisan recently posted a video of the aftermath of Syrian rebel forces bombing a truck full of civilians. This is the kind of extremely uncomfortable reality we should all be seeing, although even these images don’t really affect us too much, since they are still through a screen and thus not real for us in a certain sense. Still, better than nothing.

  20. fresno dan

    This Problem Isn’t Going Away: Heartless Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Americans Continue Into the Trump Era Alternet. The Dems domesticating Black Lives Matter was no accident.

    The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office has issued an arrest warrant for Roy Oliver, the police officer who fatally shot Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old high school student, on April 29. Late Saturday night, Oliver and his fellow officers responded to a report of underage drinking at a house party in Balch Springs, Texas. When the officers detected a black Chevy Impala driving away from the party, they ordered the driver to stop, but the driver ignored. Footage from the officers’ body cams showed Oliver, who had earlier gone to his car to retrieve his patrol rifle, firing at Edwards’s vehicle as it was leaving the scene.

    Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber originally misspoke when reporting the event, saying Oliver shot at the car as it was reversing toward him. Haber later amended his statement to clarify that the car was driving away from Oliver and his fellow officers. At the time he was shot, Edwards was seated in the front passenger seat of the car. His brothers and two friends were also present, but suffered no injuries. None of the passengers in the car were armed.

    I bring up Dallas cause is demonstrates a point I have read on a number of occasions. A lot of reform, particularly police reform, is a local matter. Dallas has elected black prosecutors, and undoubtedly that has entailed the only effective and real deterrent to police misconduct – a willingness to prosecute.

    Now, I also believe in Federal enforcement of civil rights laws to constrain the police…but there is the problem of Barrack Obama and Eric Holder….

    1. Altandmain

      What’s the point of these cameras if the police can tamper with the evidence?

      1. Huey Long

        Why do you think the pba and fop aren’t crying that hard about them?

        The point is optics, aka the better pr panacea.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      The progressive labor party needs to occupy the NY Ed Admin Offices.


    2. lyman alpha blob

      And even if she were a communist, so what? Last I checked it wasn’t illegal.

      But Great Turtle forbid that anyone espouse a political system that encourages sharing. The horror….

  21. fresno dan

    More than two centuries ago, Adam Smith, now widely regarded as a cheerleader for free market capitalism, raged that the market for labor was rigged. He argued that self-interested employers manipulated the labor market to drive workers’ wages below their competitive level. Smith warned that employers “are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.” And he ridiculed naysayers who denied that employers colluded to press their advantage against workers “as ignorant of the world as of the subject.” He further noted that “we seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of.”
    Much research in labor economics over the past quarter century has confirmed Adam Smith’s fear that employers routinely use anticompetitive practices to reduce pay and curtail worker mobility.
    Adam Smith could not possibly have anticipated Buzz Lightyear, Nemo or Dory, but the animated movie industry provides concrete evidence of the conspiracy that he warned about. In early 2017, the Walt Disney Company and its subsidiaries Pixar, Lucasfilm and ImageMovers, became the last of the major film companies to reach a settlement in an antitrust suit brought on behalf of movie animators. Along with Sony, Blue Sky and DreamWorks, they agreed to pay $169 million to settle charges that they conspired to suppress compensation by agreeing not to solicit each other’s employees, to take special procedures when contacted by each other’s employees, and to coordinate compensation policies through direct, collusive communications.

    The evidence against the film studios, captured in emails, internal documents and sworn testimony, suggests that it was business as usual to conspire to avoid bidding away employees from competitors and to coordinate on pay setting to keep a lid on compensation costs. The conspiracy apparently began with a “gentleman’s agreement” between Pixar and Lucasfilm to avoid bidding wars over employees. George Lucas testified that, as a matter of policy, Lucasfilm “would not actively go out and recruit from other companies.” Emails from Lucasfilm human resources personnel indicate that the company even withdrew job offers to Pixar employees whom Pixar deemed “essential.”

    When you’ve lost the Milken institute, it just shows if your a wage earner, your really, really, REALLY F*cked…..

    1. Huey Long

      The bastards!

      I hear this phenomenon is also prevalent in Silicon Valley too.

      1. Procopius

        Yes, but the DoJ does not prosecute antitrust any more. Holder and Lynch did not prosecute a single case and I sure don’t expect Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to do any better. Not sure exactly when they stopped, but I think it was 2004, when the Supremes ruled that private citizens could sue for damages under the Sherman act or something like that (I am not a lawyer, I would sure appreciate a knowledgeable person correcting/educating me). I’ve seen a comment naming the year 2004, but I don’t remember the name of the case.

    1. kimsarah

      Instead of doing an honest self-assessment, the party is doomed to keep repeating its failures. They may never get through all the stages of grief. Blame everyone else.
      They lie, they deceive, yet they expect you to continue to believe. Oh what a tangled web they weave.
      Have you noticed, they never have enough money? “Help us reach our goal — the Republicans are out-raising us and outspending us. We have to fight the evil Trump agenda.”
      Honestly, they are more irrelevant and pathetic today than ever. There is so much rot, there is no hope of fixing the party. They self-destroyed even faster than the Republicans, which I didn’t think was possible.

  22. a different chris

    Wow, the world is so f’d:

    Sneaker culture is shaped by substance as much as flash. Flight Club, for instance, prominently features sneakers linked to long-retired stars like Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing and Jordan not merely because those shoes are aesthetically pleasing, but because they are connected to incredible basketball talents.

    Substance? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I am weirdly rooting for the Ball family, actually. At least they can play “ball” at a very high level, unlike the whiter-than-sheets people who run Nike and etc. It’s the honesty of a $495 sneaker that costs $10 to make vs. the $175 of the one that costs $8 to make*. They are so expensive the kids can’t afford them. The $175 are priced to be just in reach. But maybe that might, probably not, but might make the kids think twice about why they are even buying the $175 pairs.

    *numbers made up, but bet they aren’t that far off

    1. Sue

      The manipulative power of advertisement and the false science of sociological terms like “role model”… Kid, get yourself $495 sneakers and never give up, like Michael Jordan never did, and you will be like Mike. There is more to this simple statement than what appears to be.

      1. Procopius

        It makes me think of some Special Ops guy who left the Army after something like 12 years, so no pension, of course, and he was having a sad because he had no money, but he remembered once when he was on active duty and he decided to buy a $300 pair of sunglasses because if he got killed at least he’d be wearing the most stylish sunglasses. He made a lot of choices like that when he was drawing combat pay and housing allowance and separate rations and clothing allowance and reenlistment bonuses. Hey, I was a soldier, too, and I know there aren’t that many heroes among us. Most soldiers never get rich, but generals get a pension of a quarter million a year plus seats on several boards of directors and big bucks as “consultants.”

  23. oho

    re. aspirin
    ive been feeding my dog a bit of baby aspirin and taking the rest for years. in this highly unscientific experiment of 1, dog is 14 and going strong.

    dont try this at home— unless you want to.

    1. Procopius

      Dunno. I was reading Thomas Sowell’s On Classical Economics, and he claims that even the sketchy statistics available in the early 19th Century it was easy to show that through human history famines were only caused by natural disaster, drought or blight usually, that destroyed the crops, but on average through recorded history the standard of living had only gone up, even as population did. Malthus and many other economists have ignored the empirical evidence because his theory seems so logical to them. I am not an economist, but this sounds quite plausible to me. There’s lots of starvation in our world, but almost all of it is due to the improper distribution of the food that is available.

  24. perpetualWAR

    The Credit Slips article was misleading.

    I was certain that was going to be about the President Obama museum.

    1. OIFVet

      Did anyone see the library model that he unveiled? The thing is both big and hideous. Speaking as a neighbor, it does not fit with its immediate surroundings, and it will despoil Olmsted’s beautiful Jackson Park. It is already bad enough that Tiger Woods will drop a golf course in there, and Yoko Ono will contribute a hideous bandstage, now we have Obama’s vanity getting fed at the expense of a beautiful public space. And the supreme irony of all: the first black president’s ego will help gentrify Woodlawn and push a lot of low income blacks out of their own neighborhood.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Ironic still: more black generational wealth lost under 1st black uncle tom president.

      2. John Wright

        Obama should consider allocating a small wing in his museum/library to house the Museum of Political Corruption.

        It is apparently quite real, hosting roundtable discussions but is not open as a museum

        It has featured Zephyr Teachout.

        It is expecting to open for visitors in 2019, which might work fine with Obama’s museum’s schedule.

        Adult Bribe $12.50
        Chidren’s Bribes $6.50

        Corrupt politicians get in for free..

        Obama might be fearful of approaching the admissions desk and having them wave him in.

      3. JTFaraday

        “Speaking as a neighbor, it does not fit with its immediate surroundings”

        I hate it when they do that,

  25. John B.

    Re: E-mail scammers.

    I recently learned who falls for transparently fake Nigerian scams. A relative has dementia — not enough to get her involuntarily treated, yet, but she’s tempted by frauds a sane person would see through in a moment. In fact, the scammers have an incentive to make them obvious — anyone who does respond must be highly vulnerable.

    One neglected problem with replacing pensions with 401(k) type plans is that it is much easier to strip a crazed individual of their retirement savings than of their pension. A large portion of the population will lose mental capacity to control their spending at some point in their lives — dementia, hoarding, bipolar disorder, compulsive gambling, certain addictions. Combine it with credit and investment industries eager to help them part with their money, and it’s a big part of the economy. Another way economists’ model of rational consumers makes no sense.

    1. MoiAussie

      Sorry to hear that your relative got taken.

      There’s quite a bit of press and research on the subject e.g. this. It boils down to the high cost to the scammer of false positives – people who respond but don’t ultimately pay. So it’s optimal for them to make the scam so obvious that anyone who might recognise its illegitimacy is weeded out straight away.

      “Anybody who doesn’t fall off their chair laughing is exactly who they want to talk to.”

    2. Nax

      After my Dad had a stroke he started accepting scams. He got on list after list, and was getting around a hundred items of mail a day at one point. They drained his bank account, sending him into negative territory and the bank landed him with huge penalty fees but kept cashing his checks until he was thousands in debt.

      He was directly defrauded of thousands (send us a check for $xxxx and we will send you your enormous winnings) but most of it went it sweep stake entry fees, magazine subscriptions, book clubs and bank fees.

      Fortunately he had a good pension, my Mum was able to take over the finances once we realized what was going on and I helped out a bit.

      It was clear that not only were they targeting the mentally impaired but there was a business built around distributing the contact information of ‘marks’.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Aspirin May Prevent Cancer from Spreading, New Research Shows Scientific American

    For those allergic to aspirin, what options do they have?

    1. Marina Bart

      There’s some evidence that marijuana does something positive with cancer. I can’t remember whether it slows replication or what the mechanism is. And as with all research or evidence about pot, it probably can’t be treated as dispositive without a lot more investigation.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      I wonder if willow bark also has this potential, and whether even those who are allergic to aspirin might be able to use it, since its effects are based on maintaining a blood level rather than the concentration of the active ingredient.

  27. Katharine

    Our fine conscientious representatives at work on health care (Chris Collins of New York, who looks like a deer in the headlights):

    But not reading bills can have serious consequences. Later on Thursday, Collins admitted that he didn’t know the AHCA will cost New York $3 billion in federal funds — money that’s used to insure 19,000 of his constituents.

    From The Buffalo News:

    Told by a Buffalo News reporter that the state’s largest loss of federal funds under the bill would be $3 billion annually that goes to the state’s Essential Health Plan, Collins said: “Explain that to me.”

    His staff subsequently accused the nasty newspaper of twisting his words to make him look bad. Perhaps he should confine himself to yes and no.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Museum of Failure.

    In the same way, a Museum of Not-Doing is long overdue.

    The idea can be illustrated thusly:

    Saving a life = Not taking a life.

    That is, for example, we can say, getting a drowning cat out of water = not shooting a cat.

    For another example, meditate on this:

    Not inventing the atomic is like, or equivalent to, finding the cure for cancer.

    For millennia, we have focused on the doing something part and on the people doing those things. We’ve made them famous.

    It’s out of balance in the sense that we have ignored those who could have invented the atomic bomb, but refrained from doing that, or those who could have built great military, political or financial empires, but chose not to.

    We don’t even know who they were or are.

    But no more.

    “This year’s award goes to Yama Bum, who could have gone to Berkeley, but declined.”

    The Hall of Fame, or Museum, of Not Doing.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Obama’s Museum could be the first to elevate this concept.

      “I could have prosecuted the bankers, but didn’t.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Quite a triple crown winner, but it belongs to 2 museums, the museum of not doing, and the museum of failure.

        That’s regrettable, for his work could have been such, that it would have been in the museum of not doing, and the museum of success, had he chosen a different path.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Another Obama I coulda:

          “I coulda stopped the 14 million unlawful foreclosures, but didn’t.”

  29. Elejefe145

    The fake invoice scam can be more sophisticated than the Nigerian scams. We have seen a few at our medium sized company where the President appears to approve a request from the CFO and forwards the email chain to the Treasurer. Names are correct, but they don’t know our internal controls. Better effort, same result.

  30. John k

    Listened to the draft Bernie guy, seemed at least hopeful. Signed petition, sent info to family.

  31. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Juncker (in French): English losing importance.

    I think they need one unifying language in Europe. Makes monetary union easier.

  32. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kagawa Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture have the most famous “straw art festivals,” which are large straw sculpture displays. Traditionally, straw was used to thatch roofs. In much the same manner, these straw sculptures are thatched around wooden frames. But instead of roofs, enormous dinosaurs, bugs, and much, much more are created.

    Did anyone make a straw man, and could still win village arguments later?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Don’t they make something like a strawman in some of the out-lying areas of the British Isles? I think there was a movie or two about that.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You mean the Wicker Man, the one they burn? Supposedly the Druids burned it with people in it – not so sure about that.

  33. Karl Kolchak

    “State Department Promotes Ivanka Trump’s Book In Another Ethics Blunder”

    Not surprising. I worked at DOS for 22 years, and their are no more grovelling rear end kissers in all the federal government than foreign service officers. It would be quite funny to see the faces of those career appointees responsible when they realize this blunder is going to hurt rather than help their promotion chances.

    1. Vatch

      Wouldn’t it be simpler for the government to just prosecute a few of the Opioid Lords at Purdue Pharma? Oh, wait, Purdue is owned by the Sacklers, and they’re very rich. Silly me. Never mind.

    2. Aumua

      Yeah well I didn’t get my heroin from Purdue when I was doing it. And honestly f*** the war on on drugs, too, which is basically what this Office of National Drug Control Policy represents. But of course since it’s Trump he’s “slashing funding for fighting the opioid epidemic.” or whatever.

  34. Oregoncharles

    ” Atheists Sue President Trump Over His ‘Religious Liberty’ Executive Order”

    Any lawyers have a take on this case? Unfortunately, it sounded very thin and speculative to me, but what do I know?

    1. Vatch

      I’m not a lawyer, but this paragraph from the article implies that the FFRF (the plaintiffs), would be satisfied with a very limited victory:

      “If Trump’s lawyers want to march into that courtroom and tell the world and President Trump that this order doesn’t do anything, we would consider that a win,” Seidel said. “But given his statements and the very clear message he communicated to churches, we don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.”

  35. skippy

    The FY 2018 Congressional Progressive Caucus Alternative Budget, The People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance tackles systemic issues with comprehensive solutions, from the impact of climate change on rural communities and communities of color, to implementing criminal justice reforms, to repairing and replacing outdated infrastructure to create millions of sustainable, good paying jobs all over the country.

    Among many important provisions to improve our nation, the People’s Budget will:

    Invest $2 trillion in America’s infrastructure to transition to a 21st Century economy and transform our energy, water and transportation systems

    Expand our commitment to efficient renewable energy and green jobs, including job assistance and training for those transitioning from fossil fuel to clean energy jobs

    Invest $100 billion to increase affordable access to reliable, high-speed internet

    Protect and expand affordable healthcare for millions of Americans, including support for states to transition to a single-payer healthcare system and provisions to lower prescription drug prices

    Create and promote a fair tax system that benefits working families by ending tax loopholes, corporate giveaways and tax breaks for billionaires and Wall Street and ensuring that billionaires and Wall Street pay their fair share of taxes

    End corporate tax breaks for offshoring American jobs and profits

    Tax Wall Street to fund Main Street

    Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Care Credit

    Ensure fair elections by increasing funding for voter protection and legal assistance programs and strengthening key election integrity reforms

    Advance criminal justice reform and promote safety of American communities by developing community oriented policing reforms, increasing funding to address hate crimes, and promoting policies and initiatives to significantly reduce gun violence

    Curb special interest and dark money influence in politics by ensuring public financing of campaigns

    Expand affordable housing for low-income Americans by increasing Community Development Block Grants and HOME funds to cities, allocating $32 billion for Public Housing repairs, ensuring 100% of operating needs for Public Housing, adding 400,000 new Section 8 Vouchers and fully funding the End Homelessness Act

    Reduce military spending by eliminating unneeded weapons and reducing rather than increasing the US nuclear arsenal, to fully fund badly needed social programs rather than the profit margins of giant military contractors

    1. skippy

      “Sanders was the convener and first CPC Chairman. Bill Goold served as Staff Coordinator for the Progressive Caucus in its early years until 1998.

      The founding CPC members were concerned about the economic hardship imposed by the deepening recession, and the growing inequality brought about by the timidity of the Democratic Party response in the early 1990s. On January 3, 1995 at a standing room only news conference on Capitol Hill, they were the first group inside Congress to chart a detailed, comprehensive legislative alternative to U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican Contract with America, which they termed “the most regressive tax proposals and reactionary social legislation the Congress had before it in 70 years.” The CPC’s ambitious agenda was framed as “The Progressive Promise: Fairness.”

  36. ewmayer

    o “Gender inequality is holding back US economy, Yellen warns | Financial Times” — Ah, so it’s not government-abetted rampant wealth inequality and elite looting which have made it impossible to maintain a decent middle-class lifestyle on a single worker’s salary irrespective-of-gender … it’s sexism, IdPol-style. Good to know!

    [Which is not say that gender inequality ain’t a problem, but I find the “IdPol über Alles” politics-of-distraction-from-the-elephant-in-the-room-issues ploys of so many of our Dear Leaders to be rather telling at this point.]

  37. Dr. Roberts

    I “Deleted” my Facebook back in 2013 and then decided to get back on Facebook about a year later. All of my previous information was still there. Pictures, messages, everything. Nothing was ever actually deleted. I chose the “Delete” option, not the “Deactivate” option, and I took every step short of sending them a written letter to delete my account.

    So no, you can’t actually delete your Facebook account, even if you “Delete” it.

  38. B1whois

    Last month I returned from a month in Northern California to my almost-new-home of Uruguay. I got off the plane in the early afternoon and I was amazed to see a difference to the quality of light that I have never seen before. Buildings looked like they were glowing and my it was so intense that my eyes actually watered for the first few days. I seem to have adjusted now but I am interested to know if anyone has had a similar observation in another place or has any theories about it. If this phenomenon is unique or especially enhanced in this region then my theory is that it is related to the hole in the ozone over Uruguay, OR the South Atlantic Anomaly
    The SAA is associated with a weakened area of the earth’s magnetic field which “leads to an increased flux of energetic particles in this region,” according to the article. Do any of these things sound like they could affect the visual perception of illumination/brilliance of sunlight? Thanks in advance for any comments, as I am greatly intrigued by this mystery!

    1. Oregoncharles

      It might have a lot to do with all that time on the airplane. How long does the trip take? Or maybe it’s your relief at being away from the US.

      We’ve considered moving to Uruguay; keep us informed of your experience.

  39. Elizabeth Burton

    Short answer to why people need Facebook: I live in Texas, I can no longer travel because of a disability, I hate talking on the phone, and all my kids and grandkids are in Pennsylvania. As I don’t get out and about much even at home, Facebook is my version of a get-together with like-minded people, it’s a good place to promote my publishing company without a huge amount of payout, and I get to exercise my writing skills.

  40. Procopius

    I don’t know if rice is being harvested in Japan or not, but they’re North of the equator, same as us (Thailand), and even farther north, so it’s Spring there, not Fall. We don’t have Spring because our weather is controlled by the monsoon, and in fact we’re now getting past our hottest part of the year. I don’t know the rice planting/harvesting schedule in Japan, but we’ll be planting as soon as the rains get reliable. Anyway, that antidote is very nice; thank you.

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