Links 6/7/17

Antarctica Is About to Lose an Ice Shelf the Size of Delaware Pacific Standard

Historic Heat Wave Sweeps Asia, the Middle East and Europe Weather Underground

A ‘Minsky moment’ isn’t imminent, but investors should be wary FT

Return to the Roaring 20s Le Monde Diplomatique

Uber Still Doesn’t Look Like the Next Facebook Bloomberg. With shout-outs to Hubert Horan at here.

An airline tried to get a musician to check her 17th-century violin. A ‘wrestling match’ ensued. WaPo. Guess which airline….

Neuroscientists rewire brain of one species to have connectivity of another Science Daily.

Taxonomy anarchy hampers conservation Nature. Taxonomist, classify thyself!

‘A once in a lifetime opportunity.’ Who made money off the Oroville Dam crisis? Sacramento Bee


China’s Continent-Spanning Trains Are Running Half-Empty Foreign Policy

U.S. says China likely to build more overseas bases, maybe in Pakistan Reuters


Why it’s pointless to whine over or celebrate India’s GDP numbers The Scroll (J-LS).

Gujarat’s Solar Irrigation Cooperative Has A Solution For India’s Groundwater Crisis India Spend (J-LS).


General election: Polls and odds tracker in final week of campaigning The Telegraph

Labour poised to win old seats back as nationalist vote slumps Times

Follow the Leader: Why the U.K. Election Really Is About Brexit Bloomberg. Just check the constituencies where May is stumping.

Theresa May “giant” on White Cliffs of Dover sends message to Europe Kent Online (J-LS).

The Labour Surge in Britain Ian Welsh (MR).

Corbyn has caught the mood of a UK grown tired of austerity Paul Mason (!), FT

A Case for Jeremy Corbyn NYT

The Labour reckoning The New Statesman

London attack: How are UK extremists radicalised? BBC

There’s a simple economic reason why terrorists like the London Bridge attackers can’t change our behaviour Independent

‘Sensitive’ UK terror funding inquiry may never be published Guardian. From late May, relevant today.


Saudis issue 24hr Ultimatum for Qatar to comply to 10 demands, or else… MINA (the Republic of Macedonia’s news service). These are the 10 Saudi demands, at least according to Al Jazeera’s Faisal Edroos:

1. Immediately break diplomatic relations with Iran.
2. Expel all Hamas members.
3. Freeze bank accounts of Hamas members and stop dealing with them.
4. Expel all Muslim Brotherhood members from Qatar.
5. Expel anti-GCC elements.
6. End support of ‘terrorist organisations.’
7. Stop interfering in Egyptian affairs.
8. Cease broadcasting the Al Jazeera news channel.
9. Apologise to all Gulf governments for ‘abuses’ by Al Jazeera.
10. Qatar must pledge that will not carry out any actions that contradict the policies of the GCC and adhere to its charter.

Sounds rather like the demands the Austrians made of the Serbs in July 1914.

Trump’s Qatar Blunder The American Conservative

Trump Takes Credit for Saudi Move Against Qatar, a U.S. Military Partner NYT. Like the Saudis…

German Foreign Minister Voices Support for Qatar, Bashes Trump Handelsblatt

The Saudi Prince, the Sheikh and a Gulf Renegade Bloomberg

Qatar pays the price for betting on the Brotherhood FT

Why Qatar matters to China, in spite of Gulf isolation South China Morning Post (J-LS).

Qatar needs to make concessions to break isolation amid Gulf crisis: expert People’s Daily

* * *

Kabul truck-bomb death toll rises to more than 150 France24

Hobbit Brigade Poised For ‘Mini Troop Surge’ To Afghanistan Duffel Blog

* * *

The forever war Globe and Mail

Why are U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killing friendly troops? Los Angeles Times

Aid Coordinator in Yemen Had Secret Job Overseeing U.S. Commando Shipments NYT. So now all aid coordinators are targets. Well played, all.

New Cold War

What We Know About Alleged Russia-Hacking-Report Leaker Reality Winner New York Magazine

A few thoughts on the leaks – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis

U.S. lawmakers to press intel chiefs on Russia ahead of Comey hearing Reuters

It’s Comey time, and Trump’s war room has no soldiers Axion

Trump, furious and frustrated, gears up to punch back at Comey testimony WaPo

Trump Transition

Private Toll Operators Salivate Over Donald Trump’s Infrastructure Plan The Intercept

Trump’s Tweets ‘Official Statements,’ Spicer Says NBC

Trump’s travel ban is already helping to crater U.S. tourism — and it will cost you Los Angeles Times. Not just the travel ban. And the article should mention laptops, and doesn’t.

Sessions offered to resign before Trump’s trip abroad Politico

Dangerous Discourse: When Progressives Sound like Demagogues Common Dreams

All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go The Baffler

GOP strategists plot anti-media strategy for 2018 elections McClatchy. I can hardly wait.

Health Care

McConnell whips Senate GOP back in line on Obamacare repeal Politico

Anthem pulls out of Obamacare in Ohio for 2018, citing uncertainty CNN

The CBO’s Updated Estimate Of The AHCA Health Affairs

Legislature overrides Brownback’s veto of bill that rolls back his 2012 tax cuts Kansas City Star

Class Warfare

Bank and credit card fees cost college kids $795 million CNBC. You say that like it’s a bad thing!

These loans were created to help homeowners, but for some they did the opposite Los Angeles Times. “Property Assessed Clean Energy loan programs, which are authorized by governments but largely administered and funded by private lenders.” So, no. The loans aren’t “created to help homeowners.” They are created to help private lenders. This is not hard.

The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools NYT

Solar’s rise lifted these blue-collar workers. Now they’re worried about Trump WaPo

Exclusive: Apple makes iPhone screen fixes easier as states mull repair laws Reuters. On the right to repair, see NC here.

YouTube clarifies “hate speech” definition and which videos won’t be monetized Ars Technica

Secret Algorithms Threaten the Rule of Law MIT Technology Review

Antidote du jour (via):

Pass the popcorn….

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. LT

        Well, the current map of the Mid East wss drawn out of the madness of WWI.
        And people cling to the idea that more war will change anything for the better.

        1. JTMcPhee

          A lot of military personnel and MIC CEOs and legislators and bureaucrats find that this is all change for the better…. “Let the money flow…”

      2. visitor

        With blustering, boisterous Trump playing the role of blustering, boisterous Wilhelm II, with the decrepit Saudi monarchy enthusing in the belief it has the full backing of a powerful ally, just as the decrepit Austro-Hungarian monarchy was.

        Seriously, that ultimatum really brings to mind the infamous one directed at Serbia in 1914.

    1. Roger Smith

      It is sort of looking like that isn’t it? First the Qatar blockade, then ultimatum, now ISIS is attacking Tehran while Saudi Arabia is issuing threats of repercussions.

      1. Anon

        That would be bad, especially for any nation with a large surface fleet close by. The Gulf itself is a giant kill box, its coasts bristling with ground to air and anti ship missiles sold to them over the decades by… everyone. The question is how disciplined in avoiding wider escalation the beligerants can be. With so many dictators facing off against each other, the odds are not good. Think August 1914. On steroids.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’m surprised this whole thing isn’t headline news everywhere, it really does look very serious. The Saudi’s seem convinced Trump has their back on this, which means if the Qataris don’t back down then at best this will lead to a massive disruption of LNG shipments, at best it means war.

        Its worth remembering that Gulf War I may well have originated in Saddam Hussein misinterpreting comments by Bush as a green light to go into Kuwait. If the Saudi’s think they have a green light, they will go in.

        If the list of demands published is real, its hard to see how the Qatari’s can back down. For the moment it looks like the Chinese and Russians are urging them to make some concessions – no doubt they are prepared to do so, but that list is in effect urging unconditional surrender. They may feel it is just too much.

        If it goes hot, the Qataris have no real options. Their military is very small – they have a lot of US aircraft and German tanks on order, but their existing military uses mostly outdated French Mirages and older generation tanks – no match for what the Saudis have. And most of their soldiers are Pakistani mercenaries, who might be tough, but they aren’t stupid. But they do have very good air defence missiles, which means the Saudi’s would most likely shoot from afar, which likely means lots of collateral damage.

        The big question is how many friends the Qataris have around the world and what they’ll do. The Chinese and Russians and Europeans will I think be urging compromise, but the Iranians may be angry enough to try to stoke things up (maybe the Turks too). And if Trump keeps tweeting support to the Saudi’s, they will keep turning the temperature up. This doesn’t look like it will end well.

        1. OIFVet

          What headline news there is, is little more than wilfully misleading BS. Did you know that Qatar sponsors both Sunni extremists (ISIS and Al Qaeda) and Shiites in Syria? Actual content of Business Insider article. The mind boggles…

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Wow – that is serious. If the Turks are thinking of doing that, so are the Iranians. If I was in the Saudis shoes now, I’d feel I’d have little choice but to take action before any foreign troops can make landfall. No way will the Saudis back down on this – they’ve put everything on the line. Either the Qataris capitulate quickly or there will be a war.

            1. JohnnyGL

              I’ll disagree, unless the Saudis are idiots (hold that thought!). They’ve gotta back down.

              If they escalate and invade Qatar, Iran might consider closing the Straits of Hormuz, and then it’s full on WWIII. We already know how the US will react to that. And we know Russia and China will back Iran.

              How did we end up in a August 1914 situation like this??? Over Qatar?!?!?

              1. JohnnyGL

                Actually, I’m rethinking the Iran closing the Straits comment.

                But Turkish involvement could easily drag in additional parties like the Israelis, which would also drag in the US.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  I think Iran closing the Straits is exactly what SA wants. They’ve been spoiling for a fight with Iran, or to be more precise, spoiling for an excuse to drag the US into a war with Iran. They really do hate and fear the Iranians beyond any rational calculations. They may be calculating that with Trump in charge, they finally have a chance to persuade the US to deliver some killer strikes, with the closing of the Straits being the excuse.

                  1. EricT

                    And since the price of oil is on the low side, and SA is having budget problems, a modest war would help pump up the price of oil, which would help SA and other oil producing countries a lot.

                  2. JohnnyGL

                    “I think Iran closing the Straits is exactly what SA wants.” – yes, probably.

                    That’s why I realized that the Iranians probably won’t do it.

                    If Qatar suddenly has friends in Iran and Turkey, then “regime change” isn’t going to be possible. The Saudis need to tread carefully, lest they find their own country is plunged into turmoil.

                    What a reckless bunch of oil-brats!!!

                    1. Plenue

                      “The Saudis need to tread carefully…”

                      I don’t think the inexperienced new Saudi gang that decided that doing a ‘Soviet Union in Afghanistan’ in Yemen was a good idea understands the concept of caution.

          2. visitor

            Erdogan and the AKP are from the Muslim Brotherhood — which Qatar has been supporting almost everywhere (including Egypt, to the great displeasure of Saudi Arabia).

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              And how about Obama’s and Hilary’s footsie with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they loved the bloodthirsty billionaire (!) Mubarak, then oh goody they’re having an election, then oops guess who the people elected (MB), then I guess we need to play footsie with them because after all it’s the will of the people, then oops again military coup, about face with a cool $5B in the latest arms from the US to the Egyptian generals.
              We’re waving our Big Stick like crazy in every direction, can somebody’s Mom please pipe up and say “better watch it or you’ll put your eye out!”

          3. Pookah Harvey

            There also seem to be repercussions in Pakistan.

            Nuclear Pakistan Sees the Saudi Game Against Qatar and Iran and Says, ‘No, Thanks’

            Adding humiliation to diplomatic discomfort, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—who reportedly practiced his speech while flying to Riyadh—was not allowed to address the Saudi-American summit, presumably because the Saudis knew he would make a case for his country’s difficult geo-political position. The snub has angered many here.

            “Trump’s speech itself further added salt to the wounds,” wrote columnist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid in The Diplomat. “Not only did the U.S. president identify India as a victim of terror, he failed to acknowledge Pakistan as one.” Trump also refused a private meeting with Sharif, rubbing in the salt. That’s probably because the Americans want Pakistan, widely accused of cynically supporting militants, to do more to crack down on terrorist groups operating inside the country.

            Apparently Trump is throwing all his eggs in the Saudi basket.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The msm is a stenographer Corp. If it’s not put out by one of the proper elites, they don’t report on it. This is why the “liberal” media loved Shrub. His media people stroked egos and gave the press. Trump much like Bill had a poor relationship with the media, and it showed.

          Besides, U.S. foreign policy has been run on behalf of the Saudis since 1990. They don’t care about green lights. My suspicion is the Kingdom is in more internal troubles than is commonly realized. The Saudis simultaneously produce radical Islamisists then export them to get them out of the plantation. Al Jazeera is a threat. Crikey, there isn’t a college student over the last 15 years who hasn’t used Al Jazeera as a primary news source. This strikes me as a very real panic.

        3. tony

          MSM is still trying to figure out how Putin is behind the crisis:

          Washington (CNN)US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

          The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.

          CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis

        4. Jim Haygood

          Seems like just a couple of weeks ago that the Orange Flake was inking a giant arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Now our “friends” the Saudis are waving sabers at Qatar, where 10,000 [not a typo] US crusaders occupation troops are posted at Al Udeid air base, 20 miles from Doha.

          Never has the demented recklessness of peddling arms to the Wahhabi fanatics who provided 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 been so promptly punished.

          I, too, support the troops! /sarcosaurus rex

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              This would support my view the House of Saud needs to be seen as strong.

              The House of Saud is simply 3,000 men strong, the men of fighting age who can’t bug out. They control two prizes: Mecca and oil. They threw in their lot with the U.S. when the Soviets and even potentially the European colonial structures might have remain intact. Despite no common bonds with Saudi Arabia besides thuggery and prison populations, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have maintained an alliance after the fall of the USSR. They offer us nothing except oil and the illusion they have a particular insight into the Arab mind.

              1. human

                They offer us nothing except oil, an arms market that cycles those petro-dollars and the illusion they have a particular insight into the Arab mind.

                Fixed it for ya …

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The ado about Al Jazeera seems to me to be the real story. Who reports on Saudi Arabia as such as it is?

          2. PlutoniumKun

            The Saudis have a huge airforce and a lot of heavy armour (albeit a very small standing army). The Qataris have only a very small army – about 10,000 or so, mostly made up of Pakistani mercenaries and use mostly older generation French tanks and combat aircraft.

            Put simply, the Saudi’s could probably roll over them in a day or two with their reserves, if they assumed the US contingent in Qatar stood back. The terrain doesn’t really help the Qataris, there is nowhere for them to conduct a rearguard action or take to the hills.

          3. Procopius

            Oh, they have immense amounts of material in reserve. They’ve got enough to fight in both Yemen and Qatar for 150 years, and we’ll keep selling them more as long as they have money. Their problem is they don’t have any soldiers. Of course, neither does Qatar. The Yemenis do, but of course our Navy makes sure no food, medicine, or arms gets through to them, and the Iranians don’t have any smuggling routes to the country.

    2. vidimi

      i haven’t been able to follow the news much lately, but this qatar thing is truly remarkable. it seems that the main gripes are al jazeera and the muslim brotherhood and, i suspect, especially the former’s reporting of the war in yemen. the whole situation is made surreal by the mugwump (thanks, bojo) in the whitehouse: you can’t entirely rule out that he will end up going to war against himself.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It seems to me that there has been a colossal intelligence failure somewhere that this has come seemingly out of the blue as far as Western powers are concerned.

        I’ve been reading up as much as I can on it, and I suspect a lot of it has nothing to do with overt politics, but personal and intertribal issues for the Saudis (the Qatari ruling family is related to a tribe who were once serious rivals to the Al-Saud’s and are still influential). All politics is local, as was once said. And the UAE seem opportunists in this as they see the Qataris as rivals for US love, or put another way, they want the big US base on their peninsula. And I wonder too if religious hardliners in SA see Qatari support for more secular oriented groups such as Hamas as a threat to them.

        It may be a case that a lot of resentments have been building up for years and now SA sees Trumps ‘support’ as an opportunity that has to be grabbed, whatever the cost.

        The question is what is SA’s endgame. They may be content with an overt humiliation of the Qatari ruling family, but I suspect they want more – either a Saudi puppet in power, or they actually intend to invade. There are trillions of dollars worth of gas there – they may see it as worth the international opproprium and risk.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, PK.

          You are right to highlight the tribal divisions. These also extend to Jordan, whose ruling family originates from the Hejaz, and Iraq, where descendants of the former rulers of Najd and cousins of former King Abdullah, live.

          The south of KSA has Shiites, so not just the oil rich Eastern Province, and Sunnis who have clan links with Yemen, vide many of the 9/11 15 and the bin Ladin family, who hail from Hadramawt.

          Dad, who served 23 years in the RAF, used to be a doctor for the owners of KSA and was assigned to various military formations in his 21 years there. He laughs at their military pretensions, including the UAE’s woman fighter pilot, a sop to virtue signallers in the west.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          Agreed, I was shocked when turning on TV to watch French Open to see the BBC report on the terror attack on Tehran.

          I think Trump’s idiotic taking sides has emboldened the Sunni states. And how surreal is it that the Qatar report was allegedly Russian misinformation, yet still Trump and the Saudis continue to pile on.

          Does Trump even understand that Qatar is an ally, that we run military operations out of there? That supposed enemy #1 ISIS hates Iran? That Iran had just elected a moderate president? That it is the gd Saudis behind 9/11 etc?

          I am just undone.

          1. Roger Smith

            Logic need not apply here, at least objectively. It struggle to understand how a revolving door of various individuals over decades could still be pushing the hardline goals of US superpower hegemony, still pushing these Russia memes, these Iran memes, the Saudi memes, etc… How has this permeated generations? How many more times will the IC trot out this crap about Russia hacking something else? Did Putin fire first at Lexington and Concord? We’ve reached the point of complete absurdity where the only way to believe these reports is confirmation bias and lack on conscious thought.

            Nothing about this seems to fir a rational mold, nor a self beneficial one. It is like these fools are playing high stakes tables, losing consistently, yet the money never runs out for them to keep playing.

            1. skippy

              Not hard at all when put in contrast to the economics emanating out of the US during the period in question. Especially in light of increasing failures.

        3. jsn

          It feels like the US is Great Britain and it’s 1914, except we have the Kaiser “on our side”!

          The US has already been at war with itself in Syria for a few years, funding Wahabis (moderate rebels) to fight Wahabis (ISIS), maybe now Trump can formally declare it.

          1. Allegorio

            What moderate rebels? Please. Some general testified in the Senate that there were maybe three or four, not counting the Kurds. The only other non-jihadi rebels are the Turkmens.

            Ask yourself, cui bono. After a regional war with millions dead, it becomes “a land without people, for a people without land” This succinctly explains the irrationality of it all.

            1. Allegorio

              In re the above from Pepe Escobar:

              “Among massive disinformation crossfire, a trail of evidence points to a concerted strategy elaborated by the Israeli lobby (via the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, founded, among others, by nefarious casino schemer Sheldon Adelson, and very close to Bibi Netanyahu); US neocon/Ziocon/neoliberalcon elements; and the UAE ambassador in Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba.

              Leaked emails have shown how Otaiba – widely idolized in the Beltway because of his “largesse” – and the neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies have discussed means of teaching Qatar a lesson for its support of Hamas, and overall non-confrontational policies towards Iran. Otaiba also happens to be close to Jared Kushner – which would explain Trump’s reaction to the anti-Qatar blitzkrieg.”

              What else is new? Pious Trump with one hand on the Wailing Wall, and his other in the Saudi’s pockets. I wonder what his neo-Nazi supporters think of President Cheeto now?

        4. NotTimothyGeithner

          In regards to intelligence failures, my godfather was a CIA analyst in the 60’s in Africa, and he noted intelligence agencies produced what the President wants especially for the U.S. By the time, his reports made it up the chain of command, the Washington Post would have printed the story via wire reports. He’s aware of the irony. If it’s not on the President’s or relevant authority’s radar, it doesn’t get kicked up quickly. As Assange has noted, the employees of these organizations are boring people. They live in the Washington metro area. Their greatest concern is their commute.

          Meta data collection is only as good as the search function used to go pour through it and then who receives said information.

          The CIA has a budget of $15 billion. One billion of which goes straight out Syria which doesn’t include the permanent staff and resources reassigned. Arab speakers are probably pouring over Syrian intercepts. Next, there is China, Russia, the EU, narcotics, the Americas, pirates, terror cells, Turkey these days, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and you see where I am going. On a practical level, the U.S. intelligence community (what a nice word) can’t functionally spy on the world and produce credible results which is why Putin makes sense when he says he doesn’t spy on everything versus Maddow who will shortly connect Russians to Christie’s Bridgegate scandal.

          Back to the Gulf states, I like your idea of the plantation owners seeing Trump as an opportunity. On a practical level, Iran is off the table. Rummy and friends would have moved on it in 2004 if they weren’t worried about losing. If we can’t move, the House of Saud can’t do anything, and the Saudis are thugs. They don’t have many accessible targets given recent history where they were ousted, blunted, or succeeded in knocking over a neighbor. All that is left is Yemen and Qatar.

        5. NotTimothyGeithner

          In this Era of removing Confederate monuments, I’m reminded of the House of Saud’s own history. That clan was nearly exterminated by Ottoman and Egyptian armies in the 1810’s while Europe was fussing over Napoleon. There are only 15,000 members of the Hose of Saud.

          I happen to believe Saudi Arabia’s entire foreign policy revolves around removing potential Muslim alternative leaders who might give the non-Saudi locals ideas. If the House of Saud doesn’t look strong, the locals will get ideas. Back of the envelope math indicates, there are 13,000 privileged members who can’t assure themselves a bug out spot. At most, there are 3,000 men fit to fight. With Syria, Turkey, the Caucuses, Iran, Iraq, and Egypt off the potential target list beyond rhetoric, the Saudis simply don’t have many places to look strong.

          1. Jim Haygood

            What a rich irony it would be if the fuse the Saudis have lit blows up a tin of Acme explosives in their own fool faces.

            Save the Aramco IPO!

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Aramco IPO wouldn’t happen if the treasury was stable in any fashion. The state owned piggybank is what allows those thugs to pretend to be statesmen and treat the UN like their own Model UN.

        6. grayslady

          The endgame for the House of Saud has always been Middle East domination. The fly in the ointment for that little plan is Iran. Qatar’s business relations with Iran, which seem sensible given Qatar’s physical size and physical location, are clearly infuriating the Saudis. Since the Saudis have been making overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood, I suspect SA’s insistence that Qatar give MB the boot is simply another way of the Saudis claiming that only they have the right to represent Islamic interests in dealing with divergent political-religious factions. Al Jazeera has been doing some interesting reporting on Saudi discussions and potential alliances across the Muslim world, so that probably explains the demand that Qatar scrap Al Jazeera.

        7. Procopius

          Perfectly normal. We had no warning the Soviet Union was going to collapse, either.

      2. dontknowitall

        Vidimi you got some of it right, I bet, its about first and foremost about Iran / shia tribal allegiances / friendships. Saudi oil sits almost entirely in shia tribal lands while Saudi is sunni. But you say that “you can’t entirely rule out that he [Trump] will end up going to war against himself” as if it had not happened before I got news for you…If you remember back in March 2016 our totally non-bozo and non-drama president Obama did go to war against himself as the LA Times reports…

        Trump will be just following a hallowed presidential tradition.

      3. Olga

        The big question is timing. Why now? AlJazeera’s reporting has been an irritant ever since the channel first opened. In fact, it used to be even more critical of the GCC. Qatar has supported MB for a long time now. They were the first Gulf state to give money to jihadists, stoking the war against the Syrian govt. ( (feb. 2012)).
        So what has changed?
        Or is the whole point to start yet another war in the ME? One into which Iran would be (easily) drawn? Something does not smell right about this crisis.

        (Also: (may 2013)).

        1. cocomaan

          Just to add to this, the “Ultimatum” to close down Al Jazeera is absolutely a non starter. It won’t happen. AJ is a force in the Middle East. Was when I was there ten years ago and still is.

          Which means the ultimatum is either nonsense or it’s intended to be a way to start a conflict, hot or cold.

    3. justanotherprogressive

      I’ve been extremely busy lately and haven’t been able to follow the news much, but I did come across this story:

      Now I know it is from Zero Hedge and sometimes their stories can be a little strange, but could there be some truth to this?

      It just seems that this brou-ha-ha popped up from nowhere……there must be more behind it than just Al Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood…..

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Leaving to one side zerohedges usual tin hat stuff, it does make one very important point – Qatars gas is almost all off-shore and part of geological structures shared with Iran. It can only extract gas in agreement with Iran. So leaving to one side any historical or political issues, it is the one Sunni Gulf State that needs a regular line of communciation and pragmatic diplomacy with Iran.

    4. kurtismayfield

      Yep, just in time to raise oil prices and drive people to alternative energy sources faster.

      I don’t think the Saudis can take on Iran and Turkey alone though.

      1. Procopius

        No, they absolutely can’t. I think even with Israel on their side they couldn’t take on Iran. Iran is about three times as big as Iraq. I don’t think in our current damaged condition we could take on Iran (damage from normal wear an tear of combat). I’m quite certain that both SA and Israel are trying as hard as they can to maneuver us into fighting Iran. I was reluctant to vote for Hillary because I thought she was anxious to get us into that, with her pledge of allegiance to Bibi, and now it turns out Trump is even for anxious because of a stupid sword dance and putting his hand on a mystical orb.

    5. purplepencils

      If it does come to war, the West will have a great deal to answer for in propping Saudi Arabia up for decades.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yah, “somebody’s” going to make “the West” answer for all the sh@t that the many active parts of “the West” have been so busily doing, for personal profit and stupidness for lo these many generations — “So long, and thanks for the fish!”

        Who’s gonna pay the consequences? Henry Kissinger? Blair? Thatcher? Reagan, and that piece of sh!t just recently worked over here, Brezinski? Netanyahoo? Or just the mopes in the cities who will be incinerated or rubblized by what seems to be so very close at hand?

        1. purplepencils

          Chill — I’m not implying the rest of the world will do something about the injustice. Or have the power/ability to do anything about it. I was speaking from the perspective of history. I’m from the so-called third world; we know better than most Westerners what it means that the West does not suffer consequences for its actions!

          If anything, those who are citizens of countries who prop these regimes up should be doing something. Frankly, how many Americans give a flying furball about what the American government does overseas? Ditto the British.

          Here’s a perspective from a non-Western person, citizen of a developing country: if governments must harm, they should only inflict harm on their own. Harsh but there we have it.

          So please, you’re preaching to the choir.

          1. Roger Smith

            Frankly, how many Americans give a flying furball about what the American government does overseas?

            Not enough. Although that is part and parcel of the harm they are receiving domestically. These things don’t help the average citizen either and our abilities to exercise any amount of control over it has been almost completely taken away. People cannot even vote for someone who isn’t on the take of establishment prerogative. What is the average immiserated schlub to do about Saudi Arabia? The answer is drink a beer and go to sleep, they literally have not the faculties to deal with it. I think it is important to realize citizens are not free of responsibility in all this, but it is also important to realize just how disadvantaged they are at the point of action.

            1. financial matters

              True that. There does seem to be , though, a growing number of people that are getting news from nontraditional sources that they have grown to trust and applying more critical thinking skills to mainstream media.

              This can at least form a vanguard of people who can start to see what is actually happening more clearly which can be a starting point for action.

            2. purplepencils

              Definitely. I get far more annoyed with my American friends who spend a lot of time and energy whinging about things like… Russia. And to some extent, gender / LGBTQ concerns. Not that all of these things aren’t valid — just as environmental concerns, etc are.

              And maybe I am churlish for wanting more of them to see and blanch at the horrors they levy on the world. I do wonder, often, if it’s unfair of me to demand more responsibility from them, these friends who claim political engagement yet shrink away from even a basic comprehension of what the country has done outside its borders.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Pp, I wasn’t trying to preach to you. Just doing the “loser’s wail” from among the mope “Westerners” who try to keep track, and do little bits of things to maybe redirect all tha trestless grasping energy that our part of humanity here in “the West” has so busily exercised over so long. Taking advantage, or playing along with, so very often, of “players” who are citizens of other countries where “my people” have done the looting and destruction and killing.

            We mopes are all in this together. Too bad the Few have all the keys to the nuclear weapons and the rest of the implements of destruction.

            1. purplepencils

              And perhaps this is why alcohol was created!

              But you are right in that we are all in this together. I hear many complains in Asia about the dearth of good leaders, sincere politicians, decent policies, etc, and I have nothing to say but that the ills of countries are not so dissimilar. And certainly many stem from the lovely neoliberal system we have, and to go further back, many are the products of colonial policies that have left their mark, and perhaps to go even further back, ideas of the Enlightenment that by now have foreclosed many other ways of thinking.

              All that to say, the world is doomed, but I guess at least it’s doomed together. Cheers!

              1. JTMcPhee

                What p!sses me off the most, is that the architects and engineers and builders of the mess that a relatively few humans have wound the planet into, get to “live large” at the horrific expense of the rest of us and all the other species. And then get to die comfortably, lovingly cared for by nurses and doctors and other caregivers, who out of decency will blitz their drool and administer and clean up after their enemas and dose them with their meds, so the Looters get to die lapped in luxury right up to the moment they expire and are beyond retribution and restitution.

                Not that most of the rest of us either don’t care, have no energy to do anything about it, or are ignorant, by choice or system design, of how to achieve anything better.

        2. Allegorio

          All together now, WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS! Sing it from the rooftops: WAR CRIMES TRIBUNALS! Bullet proof glass cases for the smarmy mess of scum roiling this earth. Maybe if Jeremy Corbyn gets elected the trials can begin. Get out there and vote youth of Britainia, fix the mess your fathers and mothers have created. Don’t forget Pamela Harriman, formerly Mrs. Churchill was a major backer of Slick Billy Clinton. He and Hillary can have adjoining bullet proof glass cases at the War Crimes tribunal.

  1. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davies with regard to the ludicrous German foreign minister defending Qatar (which means dunce in Mauritian Creole), “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he”. Qatar has invested heavily in Germany, including in my TBTF (alongside China’s HNA and Abu Dhabi), Volkswagen Audi Gruppe et al.

    Speaking of which, my employer services many MENA clients from Qatar, so we are swiftly changing arrangements, at least the front of the shop.

    Further to Pat’s article about May’s Qatar conundrum in the FT and City AM’s chart of Qatari investments in the UK (including my former employer Barclays, IAG / British Airways and Sainsbury’s supermarket) yesterday, France is in a similar position. Qatar owns PSG and Bein (formerly Al Jazeera) Sport, has big stakes in CAC 40 firms, and owns property in Paris and thoroughbred bloodstock in Chantilly and Normandy. Qatar also enjoys sovereign immunity from tax etc. for its investments in France.

    Bein Sports transmission of French football (to the detriment of higher bidder Canal Plus) and Qatar’s sovereign immunity arose from the cosy relationships with Sarko, often seen seated with the Qataris at Parc des Princes, and Hollande.

    Qatar Investment and Property Company (QIPCO) is building up its bloodstock empire, hoping to take on Dubai’s Al Maktoum family and Ireland’s Coolmore syndicate, and sponsors big races in the UK and France. That kind of money, and the well connected and important people it buys, is not to be sniffed at.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Qatar also has a mega order in for German Leopard tanks, so their German (and French) links go deep.

      I’m no expert on their ownership structures, but if the Saudis make a land grab for Qatar I can only wonder how they will sort out the ownership of Qatars vast holdings around the world. Wealth like that will make jackals of even the most upstanding governments and corporations.

    2. purplepencils

      The UK is in quite a dilemma over this Qatar mess as well. Well-deserved, from the point of view of a headache. But yet another wave of instability for human beings and businesses alike.

  2. Ruben

    Failing Spanish bank (Popular) sold today for 1 euro, over 300 thousand shareholders plus bond (CoCo) holders wiped out, depositors, savers, investors in funds, senior debt holders, taxpayers, all spared from any pain (except for indirect effects), European bank resolution institution (SRB) has reported as its decision today. Good example.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The model works! Onward to Italy.

      Impossible Germany
      Unlikely Japan

      — Wilco, Impossible Germany

    2. PlutoniumKun

      It looks like a big win for the Spanish government and the EU, but you have to wonder whether Santander had their arms twisted. It seems a big gamble on their part that a continuing Spanish recovery will detoxify some of the property loans on Populars books. If that doesn’t happen, then presumably this could result in the toxins spreading to the TBTF.

  3. Donald

    I didn’t see this linked, but alongside the article from Pat Lang’s site about the Russian hacking there is also this piece from the American Conservative —

    I think they are both interesting takes.

    People who have been either skeptical or agnostic ( that’s me) about the Russian hacking story are going to have to take a deep breath and acknowledge we finally have something that looks like real evidence of Russia messing arouund with our idiotic voting system(s). But it shouldn’t be exaggerated. Unfortunately, given how people think, it has got to be one extreme or the other– either no interference occurred at all or we should all be talking about this like it was the worst atrocity in history. That’s what I like about the story at Lang’s site and the one I linked to. They are both reasonable.

    1. Carolinian

      Assuming your assertion is true–a very big assumption–then the takeaway is not OMG Russia is hacking our elections but rather OMG America has voting systems than can be hacked. Some of us can remember back to when many believed it was George W. Bush and the Republicans who were hacking our elections. Could it be that an IOT voting system is a very poor choice when it comes to promoting confidence in democracy?

      1. Yves Smith

        This is totally overdone. There was no hacking, much the less of “voting systems” which is a wonderfully undefined term (not “voting machines”)

        Here is Yasha Levine’s summary on Twitter:

        And all the story so far shows: there were some fishing attempts. The NSA is not sure if they were successful. That’s it.

        1. MoiAussie

          Nonetheless, no less an eminence than the trustworthy James Clapper has come all the way to Canberra to tell us that

          The infamous Watergate scandal “pales” in comparison to the allegations about the Trump administration’s links to Russia.

          The former spy boss also urged Australia to be cautious in its dealings with China, saying its attempts to interfere in Australia were comparable with Russia’s intervention in US democracy in the hacking of the Democratic Party.

          We have to put up with this polished turd for a while yet, as he is at the Australian National University as a “visiting professor”, perhaps in the Department of Truth.

          1. RenoDino

            You have my deepest sympathy.

            We maintain our current swiss cheese voting system so it can hacked–by us–as the situation requires.

            1. Allegorio

              The real bruhaha is that now the oligarchy hackers have competition from the Russians. OMG!

              Remember the “electoral reform” that happened after the 2000 election, that installed all those hackable unrecountable voting machines so that the Supreme Court would never have to decide another election? Free and Fair elections, good job Kongress!

          2. a different chris

            >We have to put up with this polished turd for a while yet

            Haha!!… ah, but on further reflection I guess the problem with The Internetz is that it brings good and interesting people like you closer but means we can’t really get rid of “polished turd”s like Clapper by sending them far away. Sigh.

        2. vlade

          BBG has a good story on this, suggesting that most reporters have it the wrong way round. That if there was hacking, it was likely to find (and later use) evidence of Clinton manipulating the elections, rather than help Trump.

        3. Mel

          Threatening to put somebody away for ten years for leaking it somehow made it seem more important than that.

      2. Donald

        That’s basically what I was implying. I agree that paper ballots counted in public are the way to go. The point, though, is that I have seen articles online which I have linked and passed on to friends casting doubt on the very notion that Russia was interested in hacking the vote. There still isn’t any evidence that they did so, but there is now evidence that they were gathering info about our stupid system.

        Anyway, the article at Pat Lang’s site along with the link I provided are better than any comment I am likely to type on the subject.

        1. jawbone

          And the evidence that the Russian military was behind the phishing attempts, etc., are –ta dah!– that the NSA “believes” it is the Russian military group.

          Is that like Bush/Cheney “knowing” there were WMD in Iraq?

        2. cocomaan

          Given that we know the CIA can impersonate Russian GRU in their hacking attempts (see Umbrage), we actually know nothing without the raw data. This is secondary analysis without raw data.

          And even with the raw data, we still can’t trust attribution. Attribution is pseudo-science at this point in time.

          This discussion is without meaning. It’s the worst kind of whisper down the lane.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          ……paper ballots counted in public are the way to go.

          To what purpose, a “free and fair” election? You are really fooling yourself if you think that’s the goal of anyone who has anything to say about the issue.

          This “hacking” thing is Big Brother’s dream come true.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      What “people who have been either skeptical or agnostic about the Russian hacking story are going to have to take a deep breath and acknowledge” is that some very powerful people or organizations will stop at nothing to nullify the results of the 2016 presidential election.

      And if that is allowed to happen, every future election will be “hacked.”

      Just as consequential and deadly is the idea, now being cemented in the mind of the body politic, that the sources of any alleged cyber “intrusion” can be positively and definitively identified, and they are what u.s. “intelligence” community operatives say they are.

      1. cocomaan

        Well said. The hacking excuse can be trotted out from now until we stop running elections out of fear.

      2. Donald

        If we have paper ballots counted in public, then no, the hacking excuse will be gone. If people who claim to be concerned about this don’t push for paper ballots, then their concern is fake. Whether I am fooling myself seems pretty unimportant here, but as it happens, I agree that the Democrats have been using the Russians as a distraction from their own massive failures.

        But by acknowledging that there is real evidence the Russians were interested in the voting mechanics I have stepped on a few toes here. Read the link that was provided by our hosts. The NSA apparently really thinks the Russians were up to something– no, not actually effecting the election, but gathering info about how it could be done.

        1. a different chris

          Or maybe just trying to get a jump on what the outcome would be? You know, like playing the stock market… bureaucracies don’t turn on a dime, and the earlier and more sure you could be about who was going to be the next POTUS would be quite helpful.

          Also insert obligatory “like we don’t do the same thing” remark.

        2. Carolinian

          The story in Links is not by Pat Lang but rather one of his contributors, TTG, who appears to be a former member of the intelligence community. TTG merely expresses his intuition that the Russians are mucking around in our electoral system and that the IC must know more than they are saying. There’s still no “real evidence” because all activity on the internet is by its nature rather fuzzy in origin.

          Here’s what Lang himself has to say.

        3. sid_finster

          Notice that none of the “ZOMG Russian hacker!” backers in politics or MSM has so far called for an end to electronic balloting.

          Question: why are my comments going into moderation?

        4. human

          To not consider that hostile actors regularly test at the fringes of networks is naive. The evidence is certainly overwhelming that _we_ do.

    1. notabanker

      I find it fascinating that the “oligarch owned media” are all hawking for donations. Like I’m going to paypal Rupert Murdoch, jeez.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      If she wins (which she probably will), but with a narrow majority, I wonder how long it will take before the collective British oligarch media get the knives out for May. I think we’ll see a lot of manoevering among the little boys club to see who can become the chosen favourite with Murdoch and the Mail.

        1. JohnnyGL

          She’s getting the full HRC treatment, now! :)

          Globo did the same with Temer in Brazil! :)

          The parallels abound!!!

    3. a different chris

      This is Teh Awesome:

      “A generation after the end of the Soviet Union, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of almost every ruinous and oppressive hard-Left regime worldwide, you would be helping to establish a new one, right here in Britain.”

      Yeah a generation after the loss of those countervailing forces, the ones that made our Elites have to pretend to care about the little people, we find said little people are about fed up. Also I have, thru work, made several friends a good chunk of whose adulthood was spent behind the former Iron Curtain and their contrasts with their lives then and now are full of many, many shades of gray.

      So I don’t want to live in the Soviet Union, but it wasn’t as bad as made out and we’ve sure plummeted (oh, I forgot, I have an iPhone!! I am rich beyond Louis XIV’s dreams!!) in economic comfort over the “generation after the end of the Soviet Union”.

      And not needed to be said but no I don’t believe Corbyn is intending to rebuild the USSR on England’s “green and pleasant land” anyway.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

        Will the British intelligence complex see Corbyn as another Trump, if the former takes a less aggressive foreign policy attitude?

  4. jawbone

    More interesting news from The Guardian — Trump tweeted that he has chosen Christopher Wray as his nominee to head FBI.

    Wray – whose name emerged as one of those in the frame on 31 May – more recently represented the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case, in which two of Christie’s former aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of the bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse the governor. Christie, who has informally advised the president, was not charged in the case.

    “Impeccable credentials” may mean that Wray can “clean up” Trump’s activities to keep him out of trouble…as was done for Christie.

    Expect “plausible deniability” galore.

    1. Linda

      Was also just going to post this news. Since I have a bit on the clipboard, I’ll add it here in case others are interested in the new guy.


      WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday that he had selected the former federal prosecutor Christopher Wray, now a partner at the Washington law firm King & Spalding, to be his new F.B.I. director.

      Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics. Mr. Wray, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division under President George W. Bush, is likely to allay the fears of F.B.I. agents who worried that Mr. Trump would try to weaken or politicize the F.B.I.

      Mr. Wray was seen as an acceptable choice among F.B.I. agents because of his strong background in federal law enforcement. From 2003 to 2005, he ran the criminal division of the Justice Department, directing efforts to deal with fraud scandals plaguing the corporate world.

      According to his biography, Mr. Wray played a pivotal role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, providing oversight of operations as the country adjusted to a new reality.

      Before joining the leadership of the Justice Department in Washington in 2001 as an associate deputy attorney general, Mr. Wray served as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.

      Mr. Wray graduated from Yale University in 1989 and earned his law degree in 1992 from Yale Law School.

      1. cocomaan

        Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics.

        What planet do these NYT editors live on? We’re talking about J Edgar Hoover’s agency, here.

        This is editorializing right in the midst of what should be a bland article reporting Trump’s choice.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        Relieved to see he’s an ivy leaguer. For a minute there I was concerned that their influence might be waning. Sure hope he was in skull and crossbones–I wouldn’t want the nation to have to endure the shock of a radically different law enforcement policy.

        1. Tvc15

          In addition to Jawbone’s comment, I think Skull and Bones membership also falls under the “Impeccable credentials”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

      Two were convicted.

      That’s less than ‘impeccable.’

      Is there something more?

  5. PlutoniumKun

    China’s Continent-Spanning Trains Are Running Half-Empty Foreign Policy

    The article makes the point that the somewhat haphazard support for rail links is resulting in the construction of railways which make little or no commercial sense, and recommends that the investment is focused on a small number of core routes.

    This makes financial sense, but it does ignore the wider Chinese strategy, which we’ve already seen in Sri Lanka with its Chinese funded ports. The playbook goes something like:

    1. China offers loan at generous rates for major transport infrastructure project.
    2. Project is completed, but starts losing money that host country can’t afford.
    3. China offers debt for equity deal (i.e. ownership of the infrastructure) along with ‘concessions’ such as a large area of land for a tax exempt industrial/new city area.
    4. China now has a cheap foothold in the country for business and broader influence.

    The overall cost to China is the rising debt load on bad investments. But, as everyone on NC is aware, with a sovereign currency they may well see this as an issue they can deal with, the payoff being further influence over neighbouring countries and greater investment opportunities.

    1. andyb

      China is just taking a cue from the rapacious IMF as outlined in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

        China is a more persistent and powerful adversary than the USSR ever was.

        If the latter was all Yang, the former knows the importance of Yin and patience.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

          And the power of subservient women, and beautiful female spies even (perhaps many like the idea).

          It’s interesting that when given only one choice, one child, most favored boys.

          It’s as if a Second Cultural Revolution is needed.

    2. upstater

      Close to half the container trains in the US also run empty back to LA/Long Beach… or carry low value scrap, including news print, plastics, e-waste, etc.

  6. DJG

    New York Magazine summary of Reality Winner’s woes: Please read down toward the bottom for a typically idiotic statement from Tim Kaine, Mister Moral Compass of the Clinton Campaign.

  7. DJG

    Kicker in today’s e-mail blast from the NYTimes: “The F.B.I. director did not tell the attorney general why a meeting the day before with President Trump, in which the president sought to end an investigation, had unnerved him.”

    So we’re going to have an impeachment based on Comey’s slight nausea and unnervedness? And on the latest quotes from Clapper, apologist for torture?

    And these are the tough guys? Throw in Trump, and the whole thing sounds like a tussle at a men’s group meeting after the hugs and sensitivity training wear off.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Don’t read nyt, but msnbs is all atwitter this morning about comey’s telling sessions that “he didn’t want to be alone with Trump” ever again. Tough guy.

      The image of 6’11” (or something like that) comey begging 5’2″ (or something like that) sessions to protect him from that no good, very bad man Trump probably gave the dastardly Putin quite a chuckle.

      Hopefully Putin hasn’t read The Three Little Pigs. He’s liable to get the idea that all he as to say is, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down” and comey will run and hide under his bed.

      PS. Per joe scarborough, if comey’s republican questioners concentrate on Russian hacking and avoid Trump’s “obstruction of justice” in their questioning tomorrow, then they’re not the party of ronald reagan. OOOhhhh, lots of tough guys out there today.

  8. RenoDino

    A ‘Minsky moment’ isn’t imminent, but investors should be wary

    This would normally be a warning in a real world that no longer exists. Borrows are borrowing money to pay off loans. Fortunately, these warnings no longer apply. Central Banks have nationalized the private market in stocks and bonds. There will no price discovery. Please party on.

  9. LT

    While Western leaders “do the Wahhabi” with the Saudis, we are supposed to believe these leaders care about the “safety” of the people of their countries.
    It also doesn’t escape my attention that as long as they “do the Wahhabi” that the acts of terror are focused on the populations, not the leaders who make policy.

  10. justanotherprogressive

    Hmmmm….WaPo is now behind a paywall – like Bezos thinks people are going to pay to read that ####?

    But it looks like United did it again…….and is going to get slapped down again. Perhaps what they need to do is stop “training” and start hiring people with brains? Course they’d probably have to pay them more…..

    The nice thing about playing a flute is that it fits in my briefcase, and no I wouldn’t check it either (even though it isn’t a 17th Century instrument)!

    1. Vatch

      Some browsers have a mode which will allow you to connect anonymously to sites, so if you’ve used up your 10 free visits while browsing in normal mode, you still have a way of seeing the data. Chrome has Incognito Mode, and Firefox has Private Mode. I used one of these to read the article. This won’t work for all paywalled sites, but it usually works for the sites that allow a limited number of free connections per month, since the count starts over each time you enter Incognito or Private Mode.

      1. RMO

        I have played flute in the past – now I’m studying the double bass. Slightly more difficult to cart around. Still easier than a piano though. String players are really up against it if their playing is at a level to demand a top quality instrument – those cost a huge amount. On the flute, even if you really want to spend money the price is still in the car range as opposed to the house to mansion range old string instruments cost.

        All the air travel strife makes me think back to the trips I took to Hawaii with my family in 1981 and 1985. We flew on Wardair. Lots of legroom, steak served on Royal Dalton and up the curved staircase of the 747’s there was an honest to god lounge to relax in. Oh, and the “security” measures at the airports weren’t invasive, insulting and humiliating.

    2. Propertius

      Re: United’s woes.

      I wonder how many of the agents involved in these fiascos are really United employees. If the flight was on United Express (as way too many of them are), the agent may well have been a employee of Skywest or GoJet wearing a United uniform. United’s still responsible, obviously, but some of these incidents may be predictable consequences of attempting to cut labor costs through outsourcing (to companies like AirServ) and subcontracting.

  11. lyman alpha blob

    Any mathematicians out there? From the Uber Still Doesn’t Look Like the Next Facebook:

    Imagine a ride-hailing app with only three drivers and 100 users — it would usually take a long time to order a ride, because chances are that the car and rider would be far apart. But with 300 drivers and 10,000 users, wait times will tend to be low. Having a larger network is valuable.

    As stated I don’t believe this is true and not sure it would be even with some qualifiers. The effectiveness would seem to depend on the size of the area the network serves (which is not taken into consideration, the author just makes an assumption) and how many people on the network require a driver at any given time. If that number is 3%, then 3 drivers would be enough for a hundred person network. If more than 3% need a ride at any given time, then 300 drivers still won’t be enough for a 10K person network.

    My probability and stats classes were several decades ago so maybe there’s something I’m missing here but this seems like an incorrect analysis.

    1. visitor

      The effectiveness would seem to depend on the size of the area the network serves

      This was my immediate assumption upon reading the excerpt.

      With few people involved, there is only a very sparse distribution of drivers and customers, hence average probabilistic distance driver-to-customer will be longer than with a larger absolute number of drivers and customers on an area of the same dimension.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Hmmm. Thinking it over again the way you phrased it, lets assume that the area is the same and that 3% is the optimum driver/rider ratio.

        So if we have an area of 10 sq miles and assume the drivers and customers are distributed randomly about the area, then if there are 3 drivers and customers as opposed to 300 drivers and customers, then yes it probably would lead to a driver getting to you a little bit quicker. But how long does it really take to drive an extra mile or so? I will mention again that on a recent trip to NYC I raised my arm twice and had an old fashioned cab in literally less than a minute with no advance contact with the cab company needed. This idea of optimal network size for a given app would seem to be a solution in search of a problem. The real issue is having enough drivers to service all the potential customers regardless of the size of the network.

        I think that makes sense anyway… ;)

        And whether it does or not, Uber is still anathema to everything decent and good.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

      You’re right.

      After, say, a rave party, the demand around the club goes up. Instead of 3% at any given time, or on average, it could be a lot higher. And the users would have to pay accordingly.

    3. Hacker

      I think there is some merit to the argument presented by the author. It is certainly not well explained, not complete, and not as intuitive as the author assumes. I initially agreed with the basic stats approach. In trying to formulate my argument for it, though, I convinced myself otherwise.

      The key here is we’re talking about wait times not driver availability. Wait times are dependent on the distance the driver is from the user and (missed by the author) the number of drivers becoming available at any given moment. With a larger network in a fixed area, the turnover is faster and there is a higher likelihood that a driver is closer to the user when their last job is completed.

      A simple model. Say each ride is 10 minutes. With 3 drivers, one becomes available every 3:20 minutes. With 300 drivers one becomes available every 2 seconds.

  12. LT

    Re: Why Qatar Matters to China
    “The move has the potential to hurt Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ambitions in the region for his massive “Belt and Road” trade plan, and could disrupt the travel plans of mainland tourists. But the links between Qatar and China run much deeper than the modern Silk Road. Ongoing problems with the Gulf states could end up impacting broader trade, investment and infrastructure planning…”

    Surprise! (Not)…Another foreign intervention that disrupts China’s plans.

    Grab your popcorn

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

      China’s job is to:

      1. Supply the empire
      2. Earn imperial money
      3. (the key) buy real estate with money from #2, at the peak, and watch it evaporate
      4. Go back to #1

      Oops, that was Japan’s job.

      But China can still do it.

      And the empire has got unlimited fiat money to burn…it’s not backed by gold.

      1. LT

        When the people of the world going to give housing markets a name it deserves:
        Un-Real Estate?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    U.S. says China likely to build more overseas bases, maybe in Pakistan Reuters

    And that wouldn’t be unprecedented in Chinese history…see Hanshu (the Book of Han) and Tangshu (the book of Tang)…or XinTangShu (the New Book of Tang).

    But since the Battle of Talas (among the participants, a famous genera with Korean ancestry, though not a graduate of Hwarang – Flower Knights), Chinese soldiers have not been in Central Asia.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

      Live long time, he will see everything.

      And hopefully learn from being fooled.

      Younger people, younger voters can look forward to being fooled many more times…yes by those who try to court them (or especially by those who claim to be for them).

      As for experiencing of seeing hatred, younger people have plenty to see and experience, and yet, even older people can tell you, it’s been a long time, or perhaps even unprecedented, that the intelligence complex together with the propaganda ministry were this mad and hating.

      When he is a little older, he will learn to not say some people are ‘not even people.’

      1. Vatch

        There was a huge amount of hate directed against Obama after he became President. That made it somewhat difficult for people who wanted to criticize him solely on the issues, because his supporters were very defensive about the hate. Remember the images of him as The Joker, or Ted Nugent’s threats, or the clueless people who claimed that the was a socialist?

        The hate directed against Trump is trivial compared to the ethno-religious hate that some people have. You know, the sort of hate that sometimes leads to genocide.

        Eric Trump is 33 years old, which is old enough to know better.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

          Not the hate from the intelligence complex, though.

          And even for many over 50, it’s still shocking to see the open coup.

          I would agree with him that we ‘have never seen hatred like this,’ if ‘this’ refers to Russia fake news.

        2. Pat

          Really? You honestly think that darling of the media Obama faced more hate than Trump?

          I lived through both, and I have never seen such unhinged behavior, largely because we have mainstream media feeding it. Fox and Breitbart is nothing compared to daily doses of insanity from every corner of the media spectrum. Remember Kathy Griffin with a bloody Trump head? And for your information Trump has already been photoshopped to look like Ledger’s joker. And in Trump’s case you have what is a soft coup going on, that is being cheered on in the media and by the most corrupt political party in my lifetime (okay that is hyperbole both the Republicans and the Democrats are pretty equal in that), . But that leaves Obama hatred in the dust

          And hatred of Obama has led to genocide? Where? I missed that. Yes there are religious and ethnic drivers of genocide and terrorism, but you are absolutely going out on a limb there.

          1. Skateman

            The hatred Democrats have for Trump is roughly equivalent to the hatred Republicans had for Obama. This wasn’t a question of who the MSM liked more…obviously, Obama.

          2. Vatch

            The Koch brothers / tea party hatred of Obama was extensive (and quite ironic, when one considers how Obama bent over backwards to help big business). Kathy Griffin is similar to Ted Nugent, although her performance was more visual. Ted Nugent said that Obama should suck on his machine gun, which is a clear metaphor for shooting him in the head.

            I absolutely did not say that the hatred of Obama led to genocide. That was a separate point in response to Eric Trump’s off the wall claim that he’s never seen hatred like this. Well, hatred of Jews sometimes goes far beyond what we’re seeing about President Trump.

            1. JTMcPhee

              How much of that “hatred” was just marketing kayfabe and Bernays sauce over macaroni? At least at the point of generation… once the virus gets loose in the susceptible population, of course, too late to inoculate.

              And there are discussions here about the real nature of all kinds of phenomena– I wonder about the fundamental nature of political hatred, and other-ism and all that. And whether, short of a mass die-off of the species and a hoped for Darwinian repair

            2. Pat

              Sorry I didn’t get the transition. Of course there have been many instances in history where hatred and distraction of the other surpasses anything faced by Trump or Obama. And I don’t limit it to ethnicity or race or gender. Class and nationalism have had their moments. Too often one set of humans decide another set of humans are somehow lesser beings.

              And I don’t discount that Obama faced a whole lot of “hate”. And both he and Trump deserve much of the dislike and distrust that they face. But very honestly I am of the opinion that Trump is getting the full Clintongate AND the full Isn’t Really President and should be run out of town Obama treatments put together, with MIC/IC rebellion and it is a whole another level in sabotage of legitimacy.

              1. Vatch

                The lack of clarity was my fault. I should have been more explicit about what I meant.

        3. RUKidding

          There was a huge amount of hatred for Obama after he was elected, and a huge amount of divisive racism pumped out by some portions of the M$M, particularly the usual suspects of Fox, Hate Radio & “Christiany” Broadcasting.

          I recall numerous photoshops of Obama in tribal gear with a bone through his nose; photoshops of Obama and his wife eating watermelon; etc. There was (and still continues to this very day) a lot of shrieking about his birf sirtifikit, about him being a Kenyan Muslim (to this day), about him eating dogs (to this very day), and so forth. Michelle was depicted as transgender in photoshopped pictures where it was made to look as if she had male genitalia.

          The town halls in the Summer of 2009 were numerous and very loud with white people shrieking about “I want my country back” aka I don’t want an N-word in MY WHITE house. The Koch brothers took advantage of this to astro-turf the TeaBagger Party, which inured vastly to their benefit. But the Tea Party held numerous “rallies” in the earlier years of Obama’s Admin where they showed up fully armed, they spit on black Democratic politicians, there were effigies of Obama being lynched (to this day), and so forth.

          So yes, there was and still is a lot of very ugly racist hateful stuff, and add on top of that all the shrieking about Socialism! Communism! Nazis!

          It was pretty wide-spread, and not just at the outlier places like Breitbart.

          That said, no there wasn’t the overt coup-like attack on Obama by the Alphabets as we see with Trump. Of course, on the one hand, Trump has done himself no favors by his actions, which just inflames that situation against him. Clearly Trump is in over his head and is quite naive in the ways of how our system of “governement” actually works these days. I’m not sure how successful any outsider could be, given how we really are run by the Deep State. But Trump’s heavy-handed approach has certainly done himself no favors.

          But Eric Trump displays the typical attitude of entitled mostly white males in the 1%. If the peons don’t agree with their vaunted ways, then they aren’t to be considered as human. Well, quite frankly, Eric Trump has never considered anyone outside of his “crowd” as human anyway, so all he’s doing is displaying his MO in very baldly stated terms.

          I would disagree that the hate directed against Trump is trivial in comparison to the hate directed against Obama. I would say that they are fairly similar but different in kind and attitude. But Trump definitely has the PTB out there truly gunning to take him down, whereas Obama faced an utterly recalcitrant GOP who would’ve loved nothing more than to take him down, but they didn’t have Deep State behind them. Therefore, “all” they could do was constantly and totally reject just about everything Obama did, whether it was beneficial to their constituents or not.

          We are so truly Effed up in this country that it’s really beyond belief.

          It’s unsurprising that it’s come to such a point because the PTB have waged a super aggressive propaganda campaign – heavily funded by various factions of the 1% – to wage a class war. This outcome is where it was headed from the days of the Nixon. You can thank Roger Aisles for a lot of what’s happening today.

          1. Vatch

            I would disagree that the hate directed against Trump is trivial in comparison to the hate directed against Obama.

            I keep having to clarify this, which is my fault. I should have included an explanatory clause or sentence. When I said this:

            The hate directed against Trump is trivial compared to the ethno-religious hate that some people have. You know, the sort of hate that sometimes leads to genocide.

            I wasn’t referring to the hate directed against Obama. I was thinking of Nazi style hatred, and I should have said so. I thought I was being clear when I followed that with a sentence about genocide, but obviously I goofed up.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Normally, the elies are not as frank as him.

            But Eric Trump displays the typical attitude of entitled mostly white males in the 1%. If the peons don’t agree with their vaunted ways, then they aren’t to be considered as human. Well, quite frankly, Eric Trump has never considered anyone outside of his “crowd” as human anyway, so all he’s doing is displaying his MO in very baldly stated terms.

            I want to say it’s his age (30ish), but remembering the ‘Deplorables’ slip up by someone almost as old as his father, and Sanders, maybe it’s not age.

            Luckily for us little people, they are not always slick. We lucked out here and there (then).

            Unfortunately, big-picture-wise, we still lose, for it matters not (or not as much) what they say, but what they do.

            “What, they have health care? Why, give them insurance (with high deductibles).”

            1. RUKidding

              Yes. They do slip up and say EXACTLY what they are always thinking. Sad to say, most citizens either miss those finally truth-telling commentaries, or they don’t get that THIS IS what they really mean 100% of the time. We are not human to Eric Trump, no matter what, nor are we consider humans by his father, no matter how much pandering Trump Pere does otherwise.

              That’s how we’re viewed by ALL of the 1% and by many in the 10%: not worthy. Go away and STFU and eat sh*t and die, iow.

        4. jrs

          we should hate the ruling class, they are the for the most part out for themselves and out to screw us.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

    Neuroscientists rewire brain of one species to have connectivity of another Science Daily

    Are we to celebrate or to tremble in fear?

    “He telepathically ordered his dogs to attack the victim.”

    1. JustAnObserver

      Isn’t that what happened to the Democratic Party starting in the 1990s ?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

    Trump’s travel ban is already helping to crater U.S. tourism — and it will cost you Los Angeles Times. Not just the travel ban. And the article should mention laptops, and doesn’t.

    Imperial adventures have real consequences.

    This will cost. That will cost.

    In many more ways, and many more times.

    “What happens to a dream of peace deferred? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun? Or will change finally occur?”

  16. Jim Haygood

    Hillary of the South carries on the Permanent Campaign:

    If you thought Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was finished with national politics, think again.

    Less than two years after relinquishing Argentina’s presidency, the 64-year-old Fernández has been meeting with foreign dignitaries, giving primetime interviews, even tweeting out campaign-style videos – in other words, behaving like a candidate for Congress in October’s midterm elections in all but the official announcement.

    A seat in Congress would provide Fernández with immunity from detention – which could come in handy, since she’s facing multiple investigations over allegations of corruption during her presidency, and these appear to be picking up steam. On May 30, a federal prosecutor called Fernández and her two adult children to testify in a money laundering case in which all three are under investigation.

    There’s precedent for former presidents joining Congress in order to get protection from the courts. Former President Carlos Menem, who was convicted of smuggling charges in 2013, is now running for his third term as senator, which would allow him to retain immunity into his 90s.

    In LatAm, Congress is literally the last refuge of scoundrels.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

    GOP strategists plot anti-media strategy for 2018 elections McClatchy. I can hardly wait.

    Interestingly, Democrat strategists are not plotting any anti-media strategy.

    “Our friends still pledge to give us debate questions beforehand.”

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef...

    There’s a simple economic reason why terrorists like the London Bridge attackers can’t change our behaviour Independent

    Is deciding-to-learn-more-about-Middle-Eastern-history not a behaviour change?

    Is that considered giving in to the bad guys?

    And if one becomes alarmed, upon learning more about Middle Eastern history, alarmed at Western injustice in that region, should one not say one is alarmed at any possible bad karma?

  19. Altandmain

    Even the left mainstream publications are trying to get Medicare united for all:

    If anyone hasn’t read this – this does seem to be some progress forward.

    Also read this one the latest Intercept leak:
    Hey Intercept, Something is Very Wrong with Reality Winner and the NSA Leak

    Does anyone think that the Intercept is trolling us or giving us a critical thinking exercise?

    1. Olga

      A so-called leaker called REALITY WINNER…
      really, someone has a great sense of humour.
      ‘Nuf said… this sounds like a joke

  20. alex morfesis

    well the sauds certainly know how to make an entrance…moves the popular bail in by santander off the front pages…and keeps corbyn from making a last minute strike against theresa since the front pages will be about WAR WAR WAR…also, May gets to keep the report on the sauds and funding of not so friendly anti western types hidden…no “difficult conversations” with Corbyn for those clever sauds…although, as happened with the anti morganatic forces of the european nobility who were happy to see the archduke get duked on the second attempt that day in sarajevo, these games don’t always play out as imagined…the russian nobility certainly did not expect the coup against the morganatic romanovs to play out as it did either…

    the 100 years plus fuel wars continues…but…will the pakistanis admit they were the fazzy bear and huggy bear who hacked in and distributed the anti hillary stuff and not the russians…

    or will they wait until krazystrike goes public and then cash in short positions by embarrassing them when there is money to be made from it…

    and the folks making it back from lunch right about now on LaSalle Street will sigh some relief as their free profit selling of out of the money options and derivatives will not be “actionable” with no one over analyzing the bail in of banco popular amongst its coco fiends

    the beat goes on….and the beat goes on….

  21. Oregoncharles

    “Taxonomy anarchy hampers conservation”
    My own exposure to this problem is in the world of botany, barely mentioned in the article. My pet peeve is minor compared to conservation, but an example of the same phenomenon:

    The (family blog) botanists keep changing the names – the SCIENTIFIC names. Unlike common names, those are supposed to be clearly defined and PERMANENT. An example came up in comments the other day, when I stated that bear grass and asparagus were actually in the lily family, and someone else looked them up and found I was way out of date (I should get used to that).

    This sets botanists against nurserykeepers (themselves often botanists) and gardeners. We have a stake in the names remaining the same; botanical taxonomists have a stake in keeping busy and getting the prize of naming things (yes, I’m being cynical there). Nursery catalogs now frequently have to list multiple scientific names for the same plant.

    To Be Fair, there are often good and even interesting reasons for the changes. The main one is DNA analysis; classification was based mostly on appearance, and it turns out looks can be deceiving. There are also issues peculiar to certain plants, such as bamboos. Plant classifications are based mainly on the flowers; bamboos may not flower for many years, sometimes as much as a century. And bizarrely, different divisions of the same clone bloom at the same time, no matter where they are; they can be at opposite ends of the earth. So many bamboos had been classified without seeing the flowers; once they bloom, they get rearranged.

    But there are also the same problems with splitting vs. lumping, exacerbated by ambition.

    Personally, I think any scientific name that has stood for more than, say, 10 years should be permanent, with reclassifications relegated to a footnote. Some listings would get a bit complicated, but that’s better than a long list of aka’s.

  22. Oregoncharles

    “Sounds rather like the demands the Austrians made of the Serbs in July 1914”
    You’re forecasting WW3?
    But you’re right: this could get extremely ugly very quickly. It’s an example of the recklessness of the young prince who supposedly is really running Saudi Arabia.

    I doubt that Qatar could defend itself against the rest of the Gulf States; but Iran could, and would have an interest in doing so. SA has already bitten off more than it can chew in Yemen; taking on Iran, a vastly larger nation, would be insane.

    Further: a war in the Gulf would close the straits immediately – you don’t move highly flammable tankers through a war zone. Conveniently, Iran’s main oil port is outside the straits, so it’s in their interest to close them, with an American navy trapped inside. Don’t they have Chinese high-speed anti-ship missiles? Of course, that’s one way to get the price of oil back up, while crashing the world economy, and save the fracking industry.

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