Link 7/29/17

Eat, prey, love: bald eagles adopt baby hawk into their nest in Canada Guardian (MGL)

The hardest thing about gardening? It might be learning the gardeners’ lingo Prospect (micael)

Prehistoric Pointillism? Long Before Seurat, Ancient Artists Chiseled Mammoths Out of Dots Smithsonian

Apple paid Nokia $2 billion to escape fight over old patents The Verge

Scientists just found another worrying link between sugar and depression Quartz (David L)

Is the world really better than ever? Guardian (bob k). Paging Dr. Pangloss…

China and India Torn Between Silk Roads and Cocked Guns Pepe Escobar, Counterpunch

North Korea

USA Threatens Again Korea (and China indirectly) with Nuclear War Defend Democracy. No one who sputters at North Korea admits to the basic problem: per capita GDP in South Korea is $27,700, Per capita GDP in North Korea is $1,800. There is no way to integrate the two without bringing South Korean incomes way down, a politically unacceptable solution, or for it to be politically acceptable for the US to fund a North Korean Marshall Plan to give it an adequately functioning economy when US citizens are already paying for too many guns and too little butter. In other words, if we can’t live with them as is, we don’t seem to have a solution other than nuking them.

North Korea says missile test shows all US within range BBC


Hammond’s Brexit plan brings rare show of cross-party unity The Times. This sounds all well and good and has the virtue of simplicity…but why, pray tell, should the EU agree? Article 50 is crystal clear. The UK can’t pretend it didn’t know what it was getting into. This amounts to: “Put a big chunk of Article 50 on hold until we get our act together.” Key section:

Mr Hammond said that the public wanted to see little change immediately after Brexit and the government would seek a transition deal which kept trading relations the same as at present for one to three years.

The temporary arrangement would be similar to the single market and customs union but outside both. It would end before the next general election in 2022, by which time Britain’s relationship with the EU would be governed by a free-trade deal.

And I’d like a pony.

Home Office’s lack of action on post-Brexit Border ‘is shocking’ Irish Times. Subhead: “British department under fire after admitting it has not consulted experts on the issue.”

UK councils want billions in EU funding replaced after Brexit Politico

New Cold War

Trump says he will sign bill imposing new sanctions on Russia Financial Times

Collateral Damage: U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies Counterpunch (Glenn F)

Brussels braces for confrontation with Washington over sanctions on Russia New Europe (micael)


Dropping the mask: A war of plunder in Afghanistan WSWS (micael)

Saudi-led coalition says Yemeni rebel missile shot down near Mecca Middle East Online. Resilic: “Yemen attack – I doubt it.”

Yemen: What does Houthis’ new military capability mean? Aljazeera (micael)

The Al Aqsa Protests Prove That Palestinian Nonviolence Has Arrived Forward (Sid S)

Trump may soon try to kill the Iran deal. Slate (resilc)

The Mask Is Off: Trump Is Seeking War with Iran LobeLog (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Roombas have been mapping your homes for years, and that data’s about to be sold to the highest bidder BGR (resilc). I had thought about getting a Roomba, half as a cat toy….scratch that.

The Soviet InterNyet aeon (micael). Key quote:

…the story of the Soviet internet is a reminder that we internet users enjoy no guarantees that the private interests propping up the internet will behave any better than those greater forces whose unwillingness to cooperate not only spelled the end of Soviet electronic socialism but threatens to end the current chapter in our network age.

Imperial Collapse Watch

American Failure American Conservative (resilc)

Trump Transition

Priebus forced out; Kelly to replace him as WH chief of staff The Hill

Border Agency Set to Jumpstart Trump’s Wall in a Texas Wildlife Refuge ProPublica

Trump’s hitman melts down: But is there method to Anthony Scaramucci’s madness? Salon (resilc). More likely explanation is Scaramucci had previously only dealt with business reporters, and their default is that conversations are off the record.

Import tax officially abandoned in Big 6 tax reform talks Politco (resilc)

Senate panel votes to protect medical marijuana – major buzzkill for Jeff Sessions Boing Boing (resilc)


Health Bill’s Defeat Roils Republicans, Insurers Wall Street Journal. Key section:

Insurers had been pressing for legislation aimed at stabilizing the marketplaces, an idea that is likely to now move into the spotlight. But it’s not clear that any bill can move forward fast enough to affect the markets for next year, as insurers must file rates by mid-August and make final decisions about participation by late September.

FDA Targets Cigarettes in Broadening of Fight Against Addiction Bloomberg

House Republicans are about to slash money for job creation in Appalachia. New Republic

Fake News

How CGI, AI will empower ‘fake news,’ make it harder to tell if videos are real Business Insider (resilc)

A Fake-News Warning From a Former Propagandist Bloomberg. UserFriendly: “Sigh.”

Kakutani, Risen among 100 NY Times buyouts New York Post. The debasement of the Grey Lady continues. Maybe they’ll rehire Judy Miller.

Laurene Powell Jobs’s Organization to Take Majority Stake in The Atlantic New York Times

P&G Slashed Digital Ad Spending. This is What Happened Next Wolf Richter. Not good for publishers, but maybe more so for Faceborg.

It’s Your Money But You Can’t Have It: EU Proposes Account Freezes to Halt Bank Runs Michael Shedlock. So the clue-in people will get their money out before the rubes, who get caught by the freeze.

What so many critiques of economics gets right Lars Syll, Real World Economics Blog

Sprint Proposes Merger with Charter Communications Wall Street Journal

Wells Fargo board not changing quickly enough: NYC Comptroller Reuters

Uber’s CEO Search Reaches New Degree of Difficulty Wall Street Journal. Hahaha. They are still flogging the “SoftBank investment” line, which is most likely either a deliberate or desperate misconstruing of a casual “Keep us in mind” inquiry, or SoftBank seeking to buy Asian ops at a knocked-down price. See Clive for further observations. So SoftBank is serving as an excuse for the fact that the CEO search is taking time, as in not getting the type of takers Uber thinks should be keen to take its impossible job.

The Illusion of Choice in Consumer Brands Visual Capital

Class Warfare

Amazon to seize the land of freed slaves’ descendants to lay power lines WSWS (micael)

Why do girls as young as six believe boys are smarter? Financial Times. I never did. The girls were always clearly ahead of the boys until at least the teens and then the boys thought they could wing it, while the smarter girls studied, but the teachers indulged the boys when they fudged or were bluffing well. But I never thought much of being nice or well behaved either.

Armed Guards The uses and abuses of private security. Lapham’s Quarterly (micael)

The new monopolies The Week

Tenants Under Siege: Inside New York City’s Housing Crisis New York Review of Books (Seth)

How philanthropic dynasties are exerting their power over US policy Guardian

Antidote du jour (Alan T):

And a bonus video. On July 1, Will C sent this message:

The baby chicks in this video are now at six weeks and going strong. One rooster and five hens, if the signs are correct.

Our surrogate mother hen, Mayapple, did a fantastic job. I’ve never heard of baby chicks jumping onto their mother like in the video (@ 1:54). The mother is now insistent that she rejoins the laying flock we have elsewhere on the property. She must think her chicks are ready to fledge.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jane

    Would all the people living on $1.90 a day who think the world is really better than ever please stand up. Hurry now, we’re waiting!

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Those New Optimists’ comments remind me of all those justifications that the southern white plantation owners had before the Civil War (life is so wonderful for all of us these days – and even for the slaves, because you know, they aren’t living in mud huts in Africa any more…..)……and I’ll bet they don’t even see the similarities……

  2. jCandlish

    With respect to the N.K. nuclear deterrence, the Ross Ice Shelf is a nearer and more effective target than the continental United States.

    Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    1. RabidGandhi

      Antarctica is no deterrent: why should Pyongyang help the US reach its global warming targets?

      And further: I’m no geographer, but I think Seoul is both closer and more effective than Alaska (as tantalising as the thought of the Palin house in rubble may sound).

      1. DJPS

        It is an interesting idea. I wonder what the effects of disintegrating and dislodging that huge, undefended volume of ice would be. Looking on a map you can imagine it might create a huge unstoppable tsunami that fanned out and destroyed the coastal areas of all the nations on the pacific rim.

          1. justanotherprogressive

            I guess that is why the Ross Ice Shelf is called an ice shelf……
            But the breaking off of ice shelves really isn’t the problem – the problem is what those ice shelves were holding back…..(kind of like what happens when building a road, you inadvertently cut the toe off a mountain – and then the whole mountain comes down via landslide over your road…..) and that mass of ice the ice shelves are currently holding back (which is over land) WILL be a problem……

            1. DJPS

              In the book, first they break the Ross Shelf loose with a series of small nukes drilled into the ice. around its perimeter. Then they detonate 1 big nuke in the air over the shelf, pushing it down into the water with huge force. That downward force creates a huge 1400 ft wave that is aimed squarely at the west coast. The EMP from the air-burst nuke also disables radio equipment and satellites that could be used to warn anyone about the oncoming tsunami.

              Far fetched, but surely not impossible.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      Instead, how about sending these coordinates to N Korea:
      61°34′N 149°28′W.

  3. MoiAussie

    The Mask Is Off: Trump Is Seeking War with Iran

    So by my count, we have at least four US initiated conflicts scheduled for H2 of 2017: North Korea, Iran, the Ukraine (against the DPR and LPR separatists), and the CIA supported coup pending in Venezuela.

    I suspect that they’ll take place in precisely that order, except backwards. Anyone want to offer odds?

    1. Olga

      Well, all those special ops guys leaving Syria must have other employment opportunities… dontchyathink?

      1. wilroncanada

        As I noted yesterday, those special ops guys are not leaving Syria. It was just an announcement, and you know what they are worth. If I were to speculate (and of course I never do that /s) I would speculate that they are moving to another part of Syria that the US (and probably Israel) not longer considers a part of Syria. It’s just another deflection announcement, as are they all.

    2. Darius

      Trump has got to find a fireplug to pee on after going down in flames on healthcare, and no prospects for success in the legislative area. Expect a stoopid war somewhere, anywhere, soon.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I suspect that Iran will be number 1. There seems a real appetite in the Blob for a war with Iran and it looks like Trump is becoming obsessed, as are his Gulf besties. I suspect there will be roll-back in pressurising Ukraine as Europe (in its various manifestations) is likely to be very reluctant to be dragged into a Trump led war there. I think Merkel learned her lesson over helping out with the coup in the first place.

      The big thing stopping action in North Korea is that nobody, even the neocon warhawks, has a clue over what to do with a defeated North Korea, apart from dump it on South Korea’s lap (and I doubt the South Koreans will be stupid enough to co-operate if they suspect thats the plan). Venezuela is more of a slow burner, but if the opportunity arises, they will hop in, although no doubt the plan is for a relatively low key take-over, Hondura style.

      I confess I was one of those who thought ‘oh well, at least Trump won’t jump into foreign interventions like HRC’. So much for that glimpse of optimism.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump has an appetite for distraction and a chance to drape himself in the robes of the emperor, but like North Korea, there isn’t an appetite by everyone else for any actual conflict.

        The last time Trump was defeated on Syria he started sabre rattling with North Korea and blew up a run way in Syria. Fortunately, Trump wants an easy military victory, and there isn’t one out there to be had. He’ll back down just like he did before. He’s a classic bully. He might stomp his feet, but there is no stomach or desire for war with Iran. Trump couldn’t pull off action in Syria. He certainly can’t pull it off in Iran, population 80 million. They might be a regional power, but its their region.

        Who would our allies be? The Saudis? Does anyone remember how upset OBL was about the presence of U.S. troops in the alcohol free land. The Israelis might offer us some discount soda streams. Poland and the Ukraine. Their airspace wouldn’t be useful. Trump could call it the Confederacy of Dunces. The BRIICS and Silk Road countries are out.

        Admittedly, Kelly doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who grasps wars aren’t won by soldiers, weapons, or generals (hah, I know) but quartermasters.

        In the end, its not really different from Obama going after Libya and then Syria. The expectations of ease by the various actors were important. Iraq in 2003 was deemed easy and full of targets to run on CNN. If Obama couldn’t knock over Assad in 2013, Trump can’t go to war with Iran.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The US military can’t even defeat uneducated, goat herding tribesmen with only small arms and IEDs. War against Iran will result in total humiliation and defeat and fully disclose the US war machine as the obese, overfed, paper tiger it has been for the last fifty years. Maybe it’s time that happened again.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The danger is the power of belief. You and I know the limits of military power or at least believe we do. The issue is what does Kelly, Trump, the Congress believe, and guys like Kelly do frighten me because he plays a part.

            What kind of 16 year old, which is when you need to do this, considers the Service Academy? Peace time generals don’t have statues. Who was the head of War Department in 1925? I don’t know.

            I’m reminded of the story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that Syria would retaliate against our bases and ships. Kerry isn’t known as a brainiac, but given his career, one would hope he would have a better understanding of the military capabilities of the U.S. and the wars of aggression he rushed into. If Kerry doesn’t know, what does Trump know? Or the Congress?

            1. Mel

              Strong echo there from WWII China, when Claire Chennault proposed defeating Japan solely with air power. Stilwell had to explain about defending airfields.

          2. Cujo359

            Actually, the military did defeat the armed forces of those countries, which is what its job should be. Holding a territory after you conquer it isn’t something armed forces are designed to do. That takes a different set of skills, the sort that police (and secret police, sadly) have, not to mention the other skills required to run a country that isn’t yours.

            As NotTimothyGeithner says, there are limits to military power. That’s perhaps the most fundamental limit. You can’t hold ground for long when the people living on it don’t want you there.

            1. Plenue

              Ah yes, we sure whipped the crack troops of the Taliban. And Saddam’s finest. Saddam’s. Finest. Truly one for the annals of military history.

              1. ambrit

                What scares me is that the Masters of the Neo Universe will rediscover the “secret” of ruthless despots everywhen and everywhere: Kill everyone “there” and move in new peons to fill the “empty” space.

                1. Cujo359

                  Well, maybe not everyone

                  But yes, populating the place you’ve invaded with more “reliable” people is a strategy that has proved successful sometimes. I hope the MoU don’t rediscover that one.

          3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Don’t hold your breath Kurt, the US has not won a major engagement against an actual enemy since Normandy but that has not had any noticeable effect on the desire to start and pay for new wars. Handy too that our Dear Leaders can now commit the nation to war anytime they want without the pesky consent of the people (not that the people care, just sayin’).

          4. Lord Koos

            Trump can certainly go to war with Iran, and while America might not achieve a true “victory”, Tehran could still become a smoking pile of rubble with millions of civilians killed, wounded or displaced, ala Baghdad, Damascus, Mosul, etc. Judging from the last 17 years of military adventures, chaos and failed states in the middle east seems to be the unspoken plan.

            1. Antifa

              Whatever Trump and Company set out to do in Iran will be most assiduously and decisively blocked by both Russia and China before it begins.

              Russia because they want Iran intact and friendly so they can run a pipeline up from its southwestern gas field into Europe and profit from the sale of all that gas.

              China because Iran is a major investment pivot of theirs already, and a key boulevard for their New Silk Road (OBOR).

              Either of these nations can stock Iran with nuclear weapons manned by Russian or Chinese troops, and back them up with their homeland arsenals. “Ready whenever you are, Comrade Trump.”

              Iran and Syria are bright red lines to Russia — they will not back down from protecting them from the West, because protecting them is directly protecting southern Russia and its sphere of influence from the West. Russians know better than to wait for war to arrive on their doorstep.

              But easily the biggest obstacle to war on Iran is that it won’t take place in a roped off, square ring using the Marquess of Queensberry rules. It will be more like bringing a lollipop to a sword fight because any attack on Iran will instantly involve Iran closing the entire Persian Gulf to shipping out any oil from any Arab source, which loss will crash every Western economy. Putting the US Navy in there will only add to the tonnage sunk in shallow waters.

              Shutting off the oil spigots is like being allowed to cut your opponent’s throat before he even gets to take a swing at you. Not fair, but oh so effective.

              So, Donald — fuggedaboudid!

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Key differences between Iraq 2003 and Iran:

                -Population 25 million versus 80 million.
                -terrain. Iran isn’t flat desert we can race tanks across.
                -forward bases; where would they go; the U.S. doesn’t have the support fleet to invade.
                -tech advances; the U.S. has shot its wad so to speak. Don’t worry the Zumwalt and the F-35 are totes cool on paper
                -supply lines and prepositioned equipment.
                -the will of the common person to fight. After Iraq and Libya, I don’t think anyone is under illusions about the U.S. as a benevolent ruler. Iranian soldiers will fight. They won’t go home or not show up.
                -the ability to retaliate by Iran especially in the Persian Gulf. Remember we haven’t been operating a decade long no fly zone in Iran. Many of our allies and the former Coalition of the Willing can’t risk a disruption of delivery in the Gulf
                -a shift of American force readiness from fighting Gulf War style conflicts to chasing around terrorists in frightening pick up trucks.
                -Major forces isolated in Afghanistan, the Iraqi Green Zone
                -An Israel which knows Hezbollah spanked it in 2006. An Iran War will put Israel in a rapidly deteriorating position.
                -An officer corp with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003, the army was largely heroes of Grenada and the Persian Gulf War vets.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                I think you are right about it, and its also a very significant danger.

                China can stop any act against North Korea by simply issuing a one line statement ‘An unprovoked attack on North Korea is an attack on China’. And thats it. Likewise, both China and Russia can say the exact same thing about Iran. The only way the US could neutralised this is by months of intensive bargaining and arm twisting, as it did in the two Iraq wars to ensure there was no opposition. Trump simply doesn’t have the patience or knowhow for this.

                So an angry, thwarted Trump (and his more deranged inside followers) might well make a very stupid decision in order to gain a ‘victory’. I’ve no idea what that would be, but I don’t like to think of the consequences.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  Opposition to Eurasian integration is the defining characteristic of American fp. If integration occurs, the U.S. ability to project power collapses. Obama made his famed Pivot to Asia and pushed for TPP which were both about cutting out China from world trade.

                  A difference between the Dem policy goons and the GOP policy goons is Brzezinkis followers hate Russia and Kissinger’s followers recognize pushing Russia and China together doesn’t help their efforts to disrupt Eurasian integration. Kissinger’s problem is I think they believe they can convince Russia to dump China, not recognizing the implications of Libyan intervention on Moscow and Beijing.

        2. fresno dan

          July 29, 2017 at 10:59 am

          Trump tweets, and Kim Jong Un launches…..

          What if Kim starts tweeting that Trump is a “loser”?
          I doubt if Kim is as SCREWY as the media paints him (Kim), but continually showing up Trump as a blowhard is ….not without risk (does Kim tell his advisers that he doubts Trump is as SCREWY as he (Trump) is portrayed???…..hmmmm….)
          All those tweets, and all those missiles flying further and further…

          1. NotTimothyGeithner


            The date (2012) is important, but I wonder how much Republicans randomly calling Obama/Dems soft along with Obama/Dems whining about their toughness being tough and “smart” has affected the world view of the less intellectually curious types by Versailles standards such as Trump.

            If Trump is just a tough guy who knows Americas military is the greatest and bestest and beautilfest in the world, he should knock all over the bad guys and take their oil!

            1. fresno dan

              July 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm

              The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower,” McCain concluded. “The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces.”

              It was a marked change from McCain’s remarks last month, when he told “CBS This Morning” that the U.S. should find ways to help the Syrian people without putting American “boots on the ground.

              Of course, its for the children….uh, I mean refugees…..
              And its always through the AIR……no wonder Un is obsessed with “air” power….

        3. footnote4

          Trump wants an easy military victory, and there isn’t one out there to be had

          Grenada? Grand Fenwick?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “Grand Fenwick”

            Don’t tell Trump. Who knows what he will bomb trying to find the Grand Duchy on a map.

            1. wilroncanada

              How about the Island of San Serif? It’s so unstable that it actually moved from the Atlantic near the Azores, to somewhere in the Indian Ocean off East Africa a few years ago. Generalissimo Pica is apparently in his dotage and is being constantly harassed by the New Romans. His successor, Garamond, is childish, impetuous, constantly on Faceborg, but comes from a wealthy family, and has promised to cancel the island’s national debt.

      2. MoiAussie

        Further to the prospects of new wars in the near future, has anyone else noticed that the US seems to have finally achieved its longstanding ambition of completely neutering the UN (not that it was ever particularly effective). Antonio Guterres seems to be a complete puppet of Washington, and the UN is silent on every issue of consequence, except for an occasional yap against enemies of the empire, such as Palestine and North Korea.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          My sense is after Iraq, much of the world invested in the idea the “adults” would return to power in the U.S. When Obama continued to muck about the world for no apparent reason, Europe didn’t know what to do given domestic standings of European leaders and shenanigans with the EU.

          If the U.S. is reckless, what kind of international order is there? Its clear Russia and China are done with the existing order, establishing parallel structures to avoid the U.S., but there are always transition costs that are scary.

          If Hillary partisans thought Hillary would hold a coronation, can you imagine what world watchers of the election thought about the U.S. given the state of our media? I imagine its shell shock and the triumph of objects in motion. Inertia will slow them down over time, but the forces for change don’t exist in much of the world. South America still needs the U.S. with Brazil having problems. Africa is too diverse to ever function as a single unit. China is legitimately scary for much of Asia, just by being overwhelmed by kindness alone. India is what it is, an isolated collection of city states with a unique culture that can’t easily be appropriated and geographically isolated.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I think its true to say that much of the world is deeply confused on how to react to Trump. The various establishments grit their teeth during the Bush years and there was an audible sigh of relief when Obama came to power – the notion that at last there was a grown up in charge.

            I think nearly every government consciously or unconsciously was preparing for a HRC presidency and they are still scrambling to work out what Trump means – this applies as much to right wing and neolib/neocon governments as much as traditionally more left or progressive ones around the world. They simply don’t know how to react. Most governments know how to deal with varieties of left and right wing leaderships in their ‘allies’. What they hate is the sheer unpredictability of Trump.

            1. wilroncanada

              I’ve read this before many times, that other world governments, from Europe to Latin America to East Asia all applauded the ascent of Obama as the adult in the office. I’m not at all convinced. First, most other countries would likely have done more due diligence than the US electorate did. They knew what they were getting from the US, and that was fine because most of them had similar aims domestically–they were neoliberals–and were content to play the game of diverting their own populations from what was really occurring. They would even help, as France and Canada did in Haiti, or France did in Libya, provided they got a piece of the spoils.
              As for the election of Trump in the US, many other countries had their own experiences of wierdness in their leaderships; Sarkozy in France, Berlusconi in Italy, just to name a couple.

          2. Richard

            I felt very strongly in the last few weeks before the election, that this was the most unified our propaganda system had ever been. All on message, from entertainment to “news”, throughout that ubiquitous pink ooze of soft news, throughout corporate media. It was impressive and really scary. And then she lost.
            I can’t imagine what people who already distrusted, feared and hated the US thought about those events. An unjust and irresponsible empire, now thrown into chaos? What is there to do but take cover?
            Could you explain what you mean about South America needing the US?

            1. financial matters

              I agree with your take on the propaganda and surprised it didn’t work. Since the election for some reason the propaganda is continuing but is being viewed much more skeptically.

              I don’t think Trump wants war with either Iran or Korea.

              He says he thinks single payer healthcare would break the US but I hope this is another of his false parries. I think he understands finance better than that.

              He could probably find a way to effectively communicate the MMT meme.

              His base pretty well realizes that they are being ripped off by Obamacare’s gift to the insurance companies without providing much in the way of affordable and broad based medical care.

      3. Oregoncharles

        I’ve always assumed the main barrier to a war with Iran is the military itself. Remember, they basically lost in both Iraq and, especially, Afghanistan; Iran is right in between, vastly larger, and has had decades to prepare. And the Russians and Chinese would supply them.

        Furthermore, a war there would cut off most of the world’s oil supply. SA’s fields and terminals are MORE vulnerable than Iran; their terminals, at least, are out on the Arabian Sea, not in the Gulf. You notice all that naval jousting in the Gulf, mostly in the Straits? This is what that’s all about. But it wouldn’t take much to block it – and only a few high-speed Chinese missiles to sink $billions in US warships.

        He’d have to go a long way down to find a top officer (well, maybe that admiral who spoke in Australia) who’d agree to it. Firing the Joint Chiefs would not be a good prelude to a major war – didn’t Stalin try that? The only reason he survived is that Russia is so much bigger than Germany.

        1. Antifa

          The Wehrmacht simply got lost in Russia. Some of the letters home from German soldiers hint at their growing dread of the sheer size of the place, even during their first year of easy victories. The General Staff knew going in that if this thing went on past Christmas of ’41, just the cost and expense of getting ammo and biscuits and petrol all the way to Moscow or Rostow was beyond the German economy.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I saw a documentary once in which a German officer remembered how he was leading his unit in Russia and had a map of the region but it was useless as it was all one massive, flat wheat land. No hills, no lakes, no ridges, nothing but flat land from horizon to horizon. No point of reference whatsoever except the sun’s position in the sky to go on. Do’h!

      4. different clue

        The two foreign interventions I specifically hoped to see Trump put-a-stop-to were the Clintonite effort to create an Islamic Emirate of Jihadistan in Syria, and the Clintonite effort to start a nuclear war with Russia.

    4. John k

      SA remains biggest exporter. SA and Kuwait fields are near Iran, must be lots of soft targets, no equivalent Iran targets because we would want them to continue exporting post war. 500mm barrels commercial plus 700mm fed storage less than six months exports. And while war and expected insurgency goes on no exports at all thru Hormuz. And, during gulf wars SA provided us with fuel… iran is perfectly willing to take down the temple, and doubtless have long since made plans.
      What price oil?

    5. David

      FWIW, Chief of Staff Kelly’s son was KIA in Afghanistan. From wiki

      In 2010, Kelly’s 29-year-old son, First Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed in action when he stepped on a landmine while leading a platoon of Marines on a patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. The younger Kelly was a former enlisted Marine and was on his third combat tour, and his first combat tour as a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer. At the time of his death, Robert Kelly was with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Robert Kelly’s death made John Kelly the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child in Iraq or Afghanistan. Kelly’s other son is a Marine Corps major.

      No positions of privilege for this guy’s kids. He knows the price of war.

      1. Lord Koos

        Kelly knows the price, but everyone else in the white house, and most of congress, do not.

    6. David

      FWIW, Chief of Staff Kelly’s son was KIA in Afghanistan. From wiki

      In 2010, Kelly’s 29-year-old son, First Lieutenant Robert Kelly, was killed in action when he stepped on a landmine while leading a platoon of Marines on a patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. The younger Kelly was a former enlisted Marine and was on his third combat tour, and his first combat tour as a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer. At the time of his death, Robert Kelly was with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Robert Kelly’s death made John Kelly the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child in Iraq or Afghanistan. Kelly’s other son is a Marine Corps major.

      No positions of privilege for this guy’s kids. He knows the price of war.

    7. VietnamVet

      A war with Iran is insane. Not just the financial crisis from the shut off of oil from the Persian Gulf. The USA would need to put in place a force three or four times larger than the one that invaded Iraq and that didn’t work out well. NATO has depended on proxy forces and airpower in Syria. The Iranian and Iraqi Shiite militias are near victory over the Sunni Islamists.

      A war with Iran would be just as stupid as France fighting the victorious Union Army after the end of the American Civil War to keep Mexico as a colony.

      If nuclear weapons are used there or in North Korea; that’s pretty much the end of human civilization.

  4. Terry Flynn

    On illusion of choice:

    It would be pretty trivial to design a choice experiment in which consumers were properly informed from which big firm a given product was produced by. Find out to what degree individual consumers are willing to trade that against other characteristics such as price, brand loyalty etc.

  5. Linda


    One week after an unarmed Minneapolis woman was killed in an officer-involved shooting, street signs criticizing “easily startled” police have popped up in the Twin Cities.

    The orange traffic sign lookalikes depict a police officer jumping in the air, discharging a gun with each hand. “Warning,” the signs read, “Twin Cities Police easily startled.”

    “We are aware of the signs and Minneapolis Public Works is removing them,” Minneapolis Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Catherine Michal said. “We have no further comment at this time.”

    Must see photo of sign at link.

    1. Olga

      I think we may need these in other cities as well… (was stopped by a cop recently in central TX; immediately, he was responding that no, he did not need back-up (what with a white, harmless looking chick); 20 yrs ago – when I used to get more tix, I do not remember ever hearing such automatic calls to cops). Something has definitely changed with policing – what is it?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides the racism endemic to policing, the long term effects of Iraq and PTSD are likely at play. Neoliberal government too. The Democrats who often run these cities consider “tax breaks” to be serious policy. They simply aren’t interested in working hard and investigating how government works or could work better. It would get in the way of working out a public-private partnership. The militarization of the police is important. Why do cops need tanks? Tanks are meant to destroy.

        I believe neo-liberals and “technocrats” are always in search of the immediate easy answer. For them, the answer to crime is a “better” police force. They can then help balance the budget by buying surplus vehicles from the army at a discount instead of having enough police officers or paying them reasonably. They can stand in front of the tank for a photo op and make the local paper and pretend Republicans will be nice to them.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Why do cops need tanks?

          When I was in undergraduate school, I rented a room from a woman who lived in the basement of her house with her two small dogs. After her husband died, she started buying “collectible” plates from TV shows. Elvis plates. Hawaii plates. Navy plates. Plates, plates, plates. Every corner of the house was filled with plates. Plate shelves were installed on all walls near the ceiling. Her oven was filled with plates.

          Our military is like that. That is why cops have tanks.

      2. justanotherprogressive

        Coming from a ‘cop family’ (three generations) I think a couple of things have happened that have changed policing in this country forever. First was when the Government decided that the best way to re-employ returning vets from Viet Nam was to make them cops (fit right in with the conservative war on crime and drugs initiatives). These ex-soldiers brought with them their attitudes about the enemy so the blue line separating them from us got even thicker…..there weren’t just “bad guys” anymore – there were “enemies” and like in Viet Nam, you didn’t know who your enemies were……

        Then the North Hollywood Bank Robbery in 1997 made the LA Police (the PD that actually has the most influence in what policing in this country is) realize that criminals could out gun them – which was a huge shock to them, and they vowed to never be outgunned again – hence the desire to own military style weaponry and protection…..

        And it has been downhill since… the police try to out-military the military……

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          You forget the part:
          “…and the overworked, underpaid, distracted, violence-numbed, misinformed, and self-absorbed people of the country didn’t care”

        2. Angie Neer

          As well, we expect police to deal with all the problems of poverty, drug addiction, and mental illness that we refuse to address in a humane way.

    2. kurtismayfield

      They shot an unarmed blonde, white woman.. therefore:

      Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau stepped down six days later.

      I wonder if the five days were taken to see if they could pin something on her so that the murder was “justified”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Anyone addicted to popular entertainment, that’s any one of hundreds of millions of them in America alone, is programmed to believe blondes are special.

        The loss of one human life is tragic enough. That we in America believe some deaths are more tragic than others – based on race, gender or hair color – is the second tragedy.

        Left unaddressed is the issue of universal gun ban – that is, police gun ban and individual gun ban, and not just the latter.

        1. robnume

          When I first learned that local police departments in the U.S., particularly those in the southern part of the country, were sending their recruits to train in the apartheid state of Israel I did some research. As I began to list the departments which did so, by city, I came across a DHS Directive which stated that all local U.S. police departments are required to have Israeli training. The Israeli trainers have moved to the U.S. This could be a big part of the problem, which also includes: recruiting peace officers from the military, PTSD and steroid/drug abuse by police officers. NYPD actually has a branch office in Tel Aviv.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Links on that would useful. I’ll ask my local police dept. – one of the better ones – about it.

            “Required”,, in what sense? A condition to get money?

          2. alex morfesis

            robnume…so was your gramps in the vermacht and came over on paperclip to huntsvillle and never stopped blaming the yakamanistas for the winters of russia…??? you did notice all those black and white images of the civil rights movement…with the dogs and water hoses…predates a weeee bit the notion that anyone would listen to some tel aviv meter maids on how to deal with the population considering how they are so effective in dealing with goat herders…

            south afrikkaner police…argentinian police and norther ireland police…yes…they have trained american police on dealing with crowds…
            more so the northern ireland constables…

            meter maids from tel aviv training american police…that’ s the ticket…

        2. Oregoncharles

          ” That we in America believe some deaths are more tragic than others – based on race, gender or hair color – is the second tragedy. ” That is true on its face; we’ve all noticed the long parade of missing blondes that have obsessed the media. So in one sense, this time the cop just chose the wrong color of victim.

          But your remark also does an injustice to the point being made, which is essentially that there was no reason whatsoever, even race, for the cop to see her as threatening. To put it most simply: this was a woman in her pajamas, coming up to help them with an investigation. Wrong sex, wrong neighborhood, wrong motivation. If they say that in court, they’ll be laughed out of court. And that’s precisely why the investigation is visibly paralyzed: they have no way to save or excuse this guy. When the Women’s March and a prosperous neighborhood are against you, in blue Minneapolis, you’re in real trouble. But two weeks later, with an open and shut case, they still haven’t arrested him.

          Justine Damond’s murder is rapidly becoming the ultimate test case for police impunity. We…shall…see. But local blacks and the NAACP have jumped on the case, so very large, threatening demonstrations are quite likely – they’ve already shouted down the mayor in her own press conference. And the local head of the NAACP said something about now maybe whites will get it.

          1. different clue

            Interesting. It would appear that the local black citizens and the NAACP understand that making this an issue of Citizen Lives Matter will recruit new non-black allies-of-physical-survival-interest which will help generate the force and pressure needed to solve America’s Police Problem.

            That is something which the Black Lives Matter movement will never understand and never care about.

      2. Oregoncharles

        They were seeking a search warrant for her house. I hope it was denied; there is no excuse for it.

        It’s the state police doing the investigation; one thing that’s now painfully clear is that they are NOT unbiased – in fact they’re paralyzed by their desperate need to clear the cop.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Fantastic. It’s such a professional job. Must have been a sign shop with political beliefs.

      1. different clue

        One hopes there is the money and support to keep putting such signs up faster than the city ( or whomever) can take them down.

  6. RenoDino

    The appointment of Kelly should be seen in the context as a preparation for war with Iran and N. Korea.

    The use of nukes on one will make the use of nukes on the other more acceptable. The ultimate goal: to terrify the world into complete submission. There will be no offer of reconstruction this time around, only a demand for tribute and protection insurance. The mantel of Empire places many demands on its citizens, but even more on its enemies.

    The sacrifices we have made for our gargantuan military are about to bear fruit. We didn’t get here by accident. The long march of American history has led us to this defining moment and we are fully prepared to secure our position as the world’s undisputed power.

    Glory to America!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Symbolically, with this appointment, Trump is walling off the heart of America’s government to stop undocumented migrating leaks.

      As for force and power implications, unfortunately, the empire is a vassal. Moreover, rarely does one of our imperial allies in the region, whom we aid monetarily, militarily or both, stand up and say, we live here and we want to give peace in this area a change, because we have to live the mess, the humanitarian crisis that you and us together will create.

    2. ambrit

      Attacking Iran would be viewed by Moscow as an “unfriendly act.” Using nukes on Iran might lead to something like the use by Iran of tactical nukes “loaned” to Iran by Russia, on U.S. military assets. Say, the American Med Fleet, or anything in the Persian Gulf. I don’t see how Europe could go along with such American adventurism. How much of Europes’ petroleum comes from the Persian Gulf region via tankers transiting the Straits of Hormuz?
      I hope that those American officers who played the Iranian Revolutionary guards in that big war game a few years ago, the ones who basically sank the entire American fleet, are still around to show these modern day chickenhawks the folly of their delusions.

    3. Edward E

      Trump loves generals because he thinks they will unquestionably follow orders. He is very fond of billionaires because they understand nepotism.
      He is not very fond of Attorney Generals and Special Counsel investigation though.

      About the very interesting story of the young red tailed hawk raised by bald eagles, wonder if a female red tailed hawk laid an egg in the wrong nest by a mistake? I mean when the urge to lay an egg hits the pressure surely has to be on and if far away from the nest?

    4. Edward E

      Oh and I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! Certainly better than the Mooch is having.
      I spent hours in the swimming hole at the Buffalo River, feel like a million bucks! Have to leave in the morning for Waco, hot.

  7. fresno dan

    Watching cars drive around in circles for hours is always going to be an acquired taste, but people are going to be far more likely to acquire it if they actually care about cars in the first place.

    Yesterday’s posts had a link:
    Why the Trump dynasty will last sixteen years Edward Luttwak
    that went into some detail about Trump voters no longer being able to afford new cars.

    “….none of the countless campaign reporters and commentators is on record as having noticed the car “affordability” statistics distributed in June 2016 via Derived from very reliable Federal Reserve data, they depicted the awful predicament of almost half of all American households. Had journalists studied the numbers and pondered even briefly their implications, they could have determined a priori that only two candidates could win the Presidential election – Sanders and Trump – because none of the others even recognized that there was problem if median American households had been impoverished to the point that they could no longer afford a new car.”

    If the lower middle class is the “base” of Nascar, and it has been decimated by opioids, and declining incomes that make owning and maintaining a car more and more difficult, if not impossible, it is understandable that people will lose interest…

    Still, people watch golf….

    1. a different chris

      Not specifically on the NASCAR topic, but you know what might really, really help us all?

      >A related argument is that Nascar’s core audience is the white working class and, as we’ve been hearing a lot over the past year, things haven’t been going so great for [them].

      Start changing statements like that to simply “the white part of the working class”, not the smoothest thing in the world but makes white people understand themselves as part of a larger group. And it is actually more accurate. In any case, it does make the point of so many that what we white males see as “neutral” language is not so neutral after all.

      (also there are plenty of black people that like NASCAR, btw… not sure if it comes all the way up to 12% admittedly)

      1. Cujo359

        “the white part of the working class”

        I like that phraseology better. As you say, this phrasing makes it clear that white people in that class are just a part of it, and implies that their interests can be congruent with those of the other people in it. Too often, progressives adopt language that adds to the divide and conquer strategy of our more reprehensible leaders.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Might one suggest using “congruency” in place of “intersectionality?” Or is that C word too “25 cents” and obscure too? And the “I” word too deep in the “manufactured consensus” branding to ever be dislodged?

        2. clinical wasteman

          Yes, thanks Cujo, that’s a point that can never be made too often or too loudly, especially these last few years.

          Which reminds me, does anyone who has heard his radio shows know if it’s true (as was suggested by a Andrew Stewart on Counterpunch recently) that Eric Draitser, also of Counterpunch, has been using the expression “white Identity Politics” in exactly the wrong way, i.e. as a name for the alleged personal of racism Trump voters at large?
          If so, that’s supremely unhelpful. (If it’s not true, apologies to Eric.) “White identity politics” only seemed a momentarily useful expression because it conveyed that what the political and media professionals driving it are cynically offering the white part of the working class almost exactly the same thing the Clintons, Obama and traditional IdPol in general cynically foisted on the black and “minority” part of the class: namely, a grandstanding show of rhetorical, “cultural” respect while intensifying the onslaught on those same people’s real lives by economic and policing means. As we’ve seen over the last few decades, this ruins solidarity within the target group when some sections do try to bask in the “affirmation”, along with solidarity across the wider class, when non-target groups within it start to believe the absurdity that others got a “better deal”.
          The crucial difference between “black” and “white” IdPol, of course, is that the culture of anti-black racism was and is institutional and systemic, whereas “anti-white racism” is historically nonexistent and semantically impossible. All parts of the class are viciously exploited, ever more impoverished, kept in perpetual anxiety, browbeaten and overpoliced, and it has kept getting worse through both phases of the IdPol ascendancy. Perhaps the most insulting thing of all about IdPol (of both kinds) is that it, in pretending that the target groups’ problems can be solved by cultural means alone, it implies that the problems were never more than cultural in the first place. Which is tiny one step away from accusing them of creating the problems themselves with their “colorful” lifestyles.

        3. different clue

          I like the word “overlap”, as in “their interests can overlap with those of the other people in it.”

          “Intersectionality” is one of those fancy academic left-wing-PhD words that Social Justice Professors invent to show off how smart they are . . . that they are such brilliant innalekshuls. That is one reason I never use the word, apart from its long clumsy clunkiness and the fact that it adds precisely zero more to any discussion than what the word “overlap” would add.

    2. Edward E

      I used to watch all the races and attended a couple of races a year up until Rusty retired. It po’d me when the car owners got rid of the veterans and replaced them with young kids. Brian France coming in and changing things with the chase. He should have left it the way it was. The resistance to soft walls by track owners was a turn off, thankfully they were eventually installed. The cars do not have the classic stock look anymore like they used to in my opinion.

  8. Olga

    OMG… on the “Mask is off” – been reading that this is a possibility (i.e., war against Iran), but thought it was just hype. This sounds more serious. Am I the only person to think that such a war would be the beginning of the end of the world as we know it?

    1. MoiAussie

      Given that the US has been waging undeclared wars for 7 decades now, it’s hard to see why US attacks on Iran would be “the beginning” of anything. As for “the end of the world as we know it”, there are also many candidates for that description. Even Brexit probably qualifies.

      If you mean could it shape up as a bloody, escalating conflict with horrendous losses that draws in many countries and ends in nuclear exchanges, quite possibly. But there are many other potential triggers for that kind of conflict, and US willingness to launch nuclear strikes pre-emptively make it even more probable.

      I don’t think that the “minutes to midnight” doomsday clock has moved in response to recent US statements, but it’s at its closest to “global catastrophe” since 1953.

      1. Olga

        It’s that “quite possibly” option I am worried about (if that were not clear).
        Iranians are not going to fold over like Iraqis…
        And no, it does not matter that there may be other “triggers”… it only takes one, and Iran just may be it.
        The time for circular blindness is over, MA…

        1. MoiAussie

          That’s not an ailment I suffer from.

          Taking statements in the article at face value, war on Iran won’t start before October, probably later. Perhaps you should worry more about North Korea (cf USA Threatens Again Korea (and China indirectly) with Nuclear War) or the Donbass.

          It does matter that there are other triggers looming, because the more there are, the more likely overall is a catastrophe.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A bluff is not a bluff if the bluffee fails to believe the bluffer.

            At no time does the bluffed know it it’s a bluff or not , until the last minute.

            Maybe he’s not bluffing this time. Do we have until October to find out? That’s2 to 3 months of preparation time gifted to your target.

            1. Olga

              In July 2002, I had a conversation with a casual friend who, as a former soldier, had buddies in the army. He told me then that the word from the buddies was “we’ve received orders for Iraq.” This was a few months before Congress even voted on the matter… Nothing would surprise me now (well, almost nothing).

    2. timbers

      I had the same reaction, and also the closing section on how it might backfire left me unconvinced for a couple of reasons:

      Like Europe developing a backbone against the U.S.? — Yah right, why would they now when they’ve let so much happen already and what’s a few more tens of millions Iran refugees anyways. And: the America people are against war? Since when did that ever matter to the War Party let alone stop a war when there is a determined establishment consensus? Or the inspectors? How will the inspection process stop the war…like they did in Iraq? Or the bit about Trump revealing his hand is supposed to help stop a drive to war? That’s easily fixed so long as the Fake News corporate media and the War Party/Deep State has Trump’s back on this.

      No, I’m in the OTHER camp: the ONLY way to deal with the U.S. aggression and imperialism is with FORCE: Russia better get it’s S400’s into Iran and up and running it tip top shape, Russia needs to become completely economically independent of the West while staying open for cooperation and opportunities to work with the West, and pay attention to it’s military power to attack/counter attack and destroy the West. China needs to do the same and China and Russia need to stay close to each other.

      Military power is the only the the Empire understands at this point. The Deep State/War Party whatever you call it, has learned how to play Trump. Get him distracted and wait till they have an opening to advance their agenda when Trump does one of his frequent U turns on policy which he does so often all you have to do is wait until he U turns onto their preferred position.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The US is already gushing blood from open fiscal and reputational head wounds caused by the last few decades of GWFFAP (Goofy Wars For Fun And Profit), why would a shiny new war with faraway Arabs (oops I mean Persians, well towelheads anyway) be any different?

        Maybe a hedge fund can create a new ETF designed specifically to profit from the Iran War..maybe radiation detection device manufacturers? Farsi-language occupation handbook publishers? Civilian death number binary option bets? Iodine tablet makers? Get on it Dr. Heygood

    3. justanotherprogressive

      Why does it surprise you that war with Iran may be a possibility?
      Remember who controls your government……
      War is just another way for those in power to get richer (and it has worked effectively in the past -think Athens and Rome as examples – for a while) – and when the “getting everybody in debt” method is starting to fall, they need to find another way to make those big bucks……”growth”, you know……

      Does it matter that wars are devastating to people and to the environment? Nah……….

      1. robnume

        Thank you, justanotherprogressive. In this country it is not about winning wars. It is about funding and executing those wars. Nothing but the profit motive is at play here. Bombs and bullets cost money and TPTB are making, selling and profiting from weapons and ammo. They do not care about winning because winning is not what these wars are about.

    4. mpalomar

      “Such a war would be the beginning of the end.”
      Could be. Though the ‘coalition of the willing’ would consist of US,Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE; opposing, China, Russia, India and the rest of the world.
      Not sure they can do this but the MSM would probably roll with it to an extent.

      1. MoiAussie

        Unfortunately, a good part of the rest of the world would be on the US side – most of NATO, Australia, Japan, possibly Sweden, etc. The US client states have no choice in the matter or are utterly gutless when it comes to saying no. They too have militaries in need of exercise.

        1. mpalomar

          In this case I doubt it. Recent Iraq, Libyan, Afghan, Syrian history would work against it added to the fact that Trump is widely perceived as a lunatic.
          NATO rather importantly includes Germany, France and the UK. I don’t see them buying in.
          Where’s Tony Blair when you need him?
          Okay maybe the Ukraine and the Maldives.
          I do hope you’re wrong.

          1. visitor

            The previous and current generations of European politicians have been thoroughly “educated” by US think-tanks to become compliant vassals — through initiatives such as the “Young Leaders” in France. They have, and will follow the USA in its insane wars. Remember that the most enthusiastic proponents of the intervention in Libya and Syria were the French and the British — not the Americans.

            There is one element though that will prevent major European military powers to participate in any meaningful way: the French military is involved in so many long-running interventions (Mali, Central Africa, Iraq) that it is near the breaking point. The British military has been completely exhausted by its action in Afghanistan, and its equipment is worn out. The Italian military is quite busy dealing with the flow of migrants in the Mediterranean. The Greeks have lots of tanks and airplanes — but will keep them home to face the Turks. The German military has been neglected for years and its equipment is in disrepair. The Danes will promptly and gladly accompany the USA (as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan), but they cannot provide big battalions. And so on, and so forth.

            At some point under Bush, when the idea of attacking Iran popped up, there was an admiral who made a point of opposing it staunchly (“not on my watch” or something to that effect). Are there still any high-ranking officers who will oppose plunging into an insane war?

            My guess (or is it hope?) is that Trump will do like Reagan: find a an orders of magnitude smaller opponent that looks easy to overwhelm. Something like Granada. Iran is too big, North Korea is armed to the teeth, Ukraine is too dicey.

            Venezuela perhaps, but it has over 30m inhabitants. On the other hand, Columbia and Brazil (both controlled by staunchly right-wing governments) may lend a helping hand. Those countries have substantial armies that are not, or no longer overly busy. The French are close by as well (French Guyana as a bridge-head). And there are enough opponents of the Bolivarian revolution to form a useful fifth column inside Venezuela.

            Yes, it looks that Venezuela could be it.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Searching the face of the “reality-based” general in the article I detect an authenticity of character, a genuine worry about the state of his great nation and the unfortunate duty of bearing arms to protect it. How to do this if the nation believes merely in myths, not reality. I wish this decent man godspeed and hope he sleeps well at night knowing he attempted at least to do his solemn duty in the face of an overwhelming chorus of crazed colleagues.

        2. sid_finster

          They won’t be enthusiastic about a war on behalf of Trump, but when push comes to shove, they will go along half-heartedly and with meaningless expressions of reservation, but they will go along.

          If the latest war were on behalf of Obama, they would be slightly more enthusiastic.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’m not so sure. Trump is so deeply detested and distrusted in most of the US’s allies that I think it would be near political suicide for any of the major leaders in Europe or the Anglosphere – particularly Germany or France – to even go near supporting an intervention led by him (the exception being in Syria, where they were already committed). Standing up to Trump would be seen as a vote winner, even among right wing parties. The exception might be Australia (I don’t know enough about the internal political dynamics there to know).

            He would still get ‘international’ support, but for Iran that would basically be the Saudi’s and their paid allies. Its possible that Abe in Japan might support action in North Korea, but that would be very politically risky for him because of the potential blowback (not least, a North Korean nuke landing in Japan).

            1. MoiAussie

              Actually, Abe is quite willing to take a few (non-nuclear) hits from a NK conflict, calculating that Japan’s commercial rival South Korea will end up in far worse shape. As for political risk, his standing is now so low that a quick war must be looking like an attractive opportunity to improve his standing.

              Also, Macron has been cosying up to Trump and Netanyahu lately, so don’t count him out.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Macron has just been hit with a sanctions tax by the Congress. Iran isn’t a country destroyed by two wars and a decade of sanctions being knocked over by a technologically advanced and well prepared super power with a regime near the end of its life and no clear succession plan (Uday and Qusay were pretty gross; the regime would have had a hard time tolerating either). The Pentagon plans around Iraq centered around a split between one or both kids and the regime types who didn’t trust the boys leading to a humanitarian crisis.

                The troops won’t be home by Christmas. There will be opposition.

                After all, Macron has worked to develop business relations with Iran as the Finance Minister. I doubt he will undo his work for Trump.

            2. sid_finster

              W was also detested in Europe, but Euro countries either went along with the War on Iraq or mumbled a few platitudes but offered no resistance.

              If anything, the European countries are weaker and even more subservient than they were in 2003.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                10 million people took to the streets to protest the Iraq War and that did (to use an Australian expression) “2/5ths of f*ck all” to stop it.

                The Euro-puppies would just roll out the water cannons like they did in Hamburg, a few days of headlines and the caissons could keep rolling as planned.

              2. mpalomar

                What W had and Trump lacks, to be blunt, are two supersized pancaked scrapers in lower Manhattan. You can do a lot with that kind of graphic, endlessly reeled for the edification of guiding the public regarding the necessity of shedding blood for the next few wars.

                “Euro countries either went along with the War on Iraq or mumbled a few platitudes but offered no resistance.”
                Resistance? Germany and France were out. D Villepin of the cheese eating surrender monkeys waxed eloquent at the UN to much applause to whatever purpose that served.

      2. sid_finster

        Right now, the US is doing everything it can to encourage India to oppose anything China does, in hopes that this will keep India on the US side.

      3. Jess

        Anybody remember the book (and movie) ON THE BEACH? 1959 or so. Posits that the end of the world starts with a war in the Middle East which triggers nukes, the radiation from which drifts south until Australia is the last to succumb. Sound relevant?

        1. Annotherone

          Yes, I remember them well – novel was by Nevil Shute; and now seems only too relevant!

          A couple of his other novels had the appearance of being prophetic too: “No Highway” published in 1948 dealt with what might happen due to metal fatigue in aircraft. His ideas came close to fact with the Comet disasters of the 1950s. Another novel,”What Happened to the Corbetts” also published as “Ordeal” was written just before the start of WorldWar2. It tells how badly aerial bombing affected a town similar to Southampton, in the south of England, and how the bombing of civilians became a major part of the war. British people of a certain age (myself included) will have no trouble recognising this as fact! These could also be seen, rather than prophetic, more as novels just joining the dots already available to any with relevant experience.

        2. mpalomar

          Remember the movie well G Peck, Ava Gardener, Fred Astaire, Tony Perkins etc. I kind of feel like I’m living the movie on occasion nowadays.
          Still prefer the Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. black comedy take on the subject.
          Kids today probably don’t know those movies.

      4. oh

        The racist Israel loving Hindu boy Modi will be a lap dog to the US in a war against Iran.

  9. nechaev

    Getting away with murder, yet again:

    Some interesting details concerning the killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security official in Amman:

    Embassy killings fuel Jordan-Israel tensions

    Two days after an Israeli Embassy guard shot and killed two Jordanians on July 23 in what appeared to be an argument over the installation of bedroom furniture at the assailant’s apartment….

    Jordanian security cordoned off the embassy and prevented its staff, including the assailant, from leaving. Despite his diplomatic immunity, Amman insisted on interrogating the Israeli security guard, later identified only as Ziv….

    it seems, according to Israeli sources, that Netanyahu had called on the Trump administration for help, having failed to contact Abdullah, who was in the United States on a private visit. According to the Israeli media, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, intervened and contacted the Jordanian monarch. Late in the evening on July 24, the entire Israeli Embassy staff was evacuated from Jordan. Jordanian sources said that the staff was allowed to leave after hearing the testimony of the Israeli security guard. No other details were given….

    Few accepted the government’s version that a Jordanian youth, 17-year-old Mohammad Jawawdeh, had attacked the Israeli diplomat with a screwdriver, and many questioned the mysterious circumstances surrounding the killing of the second man — Jordanian physician Bashar Hamarneh, who was also the assailant’s landlord….

    Parliament members demanded the closure of the Israeli Embassy and the recalling of Jordan’s ambassador in Tel Aviv. They accused the government of gross negligence and failing to provide a convincing narrative.

    There was further disdain for Netanyahu’s public welcome of Ziv as a hero once he returned to Israel….

    1. a different chris

      >They accused the government of gross negligence and failing to provide a convincing narrative.

      “Convincing” — truth not necessary.

  10. divadab

    Re: Prehistoric Pointillism – Picasso is reported to have said, on viewing the stone age cave paintings of Lascaux, “We have learned nothing!”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A traditional Chinese approach to art offer a different take on that.

      For centuries, over there, it was believed that the spirit of the calligrapher, the painter, etc lived in the piece of work that was done.

      So, you could chisel your dots and Pablo could paint the same dots, the results would be unique depending on what was on the mind, and the question of whether the technique or the style had been used before is not the point.

      Perhaps, that’s why there has always been the tradition of sincere imitation (easily corrupted into fakery and forgery).

      1. ambrit

        There is also the point that “fakers” and “frauds” do their spurious ‘work’ for money. “Real” artists do their work for something more personal, even if money does intrude its’ nose in under the tent flap. Generally, work of an imitative sort is done as training or “practice” so as to help develop an individual style. As the saying goes: “To break the rules, one needs know them first.”

  11. justanotherprogressive

    Wells Fargo……yea…

    My “Fun with Wells Fargo” story:

    As I stated in an earlier post, my AC went out and had to be replaced immediately. I didn’t want to deplete my savings below my “just in case” number so I paid half of the $7,000 out of savings and I financed the other half with Wells Fargo – because that was who the AC company had as their “financier”. I didn’t have a lot of choice (90 degree house over the weekend until I could get to my bank – or Wells Fargo…….it was a tough decision……). And of course, I signed up for the 12 mo/interest free loan or 28% interest on the balance after that (no problem with that – I intend to pay it off much sooner).

    But… took them over a month to “process my account” (so I was already considered a “month behind” by my calculations) and then they decided my payment was $124/mo. HUH? If I wasn’t a thinking person, I could see that they are setting me up for a big surprise at the end of 12 months…….
    Needless to say, I immediately paid what I consider a reasonable payment for last month and am planning to make this month’s reasonable payment before the 1st of the month…..

    Now I have had 12 mo/interest free payment plans in the past and they always charged me monthly what would pay off the loan in the interest free time allotted. Is this something new credit card companies/finance companies are doing to trap people who aren’t really thinking? Or is this just more of Wells Fargo’s special brand of “behavior”?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Err…grade school grammar just failed…..should be “If I wasn’t a thinking person, I wouldn’t be able to see that they are setting me up for a big surprise……”

      1. fresno dan

        July 29, 2017 at 10:52 am

        Well, NC just had the other day the Wells Fargo scam of car insurance. My own experience was that I was advised to have another checking account so as not to have too much money in one account (I did ask if there accounts are so insecure, why should I keep my money in their bank? But let’s be real – I just didn’t want to go through all the paperwork again at another bank. And it isn’t like there are MORE honest banks – the other banks are just less obvious in their grifts).
        So long story short Wells Fargo never bothered to have funds automatically transferred into the new checking account. I was made whole, but this whole thing was due to Wells Fargo incentives to employees to churn accounts to generate fees.

        The fact that Wells Fargo continues in business is a testament to this country’s belief of getting away with anything you can.

        Oh, and your experience reminds me exactly of the final scene (bank scam) in the movie “Hell or high water” that the protagonist circumvents….i.e., “it took them over a month to “process my account”

  12. TomDority

    Regarding the ‘Roomba has been mapping your home’
    Seems like a minor issue when compared to the information collected – (and I am guessing is coveted by our countries over amped SS I mean security scare obsession used by chicken shit politicians riding the fear politics gambit (most))
    Like snapchat or other facial and voice recognition softwares that are easily combined with other data sources and location representations….. I mean, what better way to target market.
    Just saying – —-

  13. Lee

    Why do girls as young as six believe boys are smarter? Financial Times. I never did. The girls were always clearly ahead of the boys until at least the teens and then the boys thought they could wing it, while the smarter girls studied, but the teachers indulged the boys when they fudged or were bluffing well. But I never thought much of being nice or well behaved either.

    I wonder what Iranian women believe given that “70% of of Iran’s science and engineering students are women, and in a small, but promising community of startups, they’re being encouraged to play an even bigger role.”

    1. TK421

      Well, if Iran is anything like the United States, their boys clearly outperform girls on IQ tests.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Your link?

        I have a link:
        “According to the 1994 report “Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns” by the American Psychological Association, “Most standard tests of intelligence have been constructed so that there are no overall score differences between females and males.” … The average IQ scores between men and women have little variation.”

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Have read reports that the ripples from Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first woman to win a Fields Medal, have contributed to some softening of that view within Iranian society, including among men.

      2. Lord Koos

        If that is true, it doesn’t jibe with Iran developing nuclear capability. It takes a whole lot of math & science to build centrifuges.

        1. oh

          Oh really? Anymore you don’t have re-invent the wheel. Just spec what you want from the vendor, in this case the German Company.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          See here from Cathy O’Neil, Harvard mathematician (pure math, the uber geeky kind) who is the author of Weapons of Math Destruction:

          I don’t agree with everything she always says, but I agree with everything Izabella Laba says in this post called Gender Bias 101 For Mathematicians (hat tip Jordan Ellenberg). And I’m kind of jealous she put it together in such a fantastic no-bullshit way.

          Namely, she debunks a bunch of myths of gender bias. Here’s my summary, but you should read the whole thing:

          Myth: Sexism in math is perpetrated mainly by a bunch of enormously sexist old guys. Izabella: Nope, it’s everyone, and there’s lots of evidence for that.
          Myth: The way to combat sexism is to find those guys and isolate them. Izabella: Nope, that won’t work, since it’s everyone.
          Myth: If it’s really everyone, it’s too hard to solve. Izabella: Not necessarily, and hey you are still trying to solve the Riemann Hypothesis even though that’s hard (my favorite argument).
          Myth: We should continue to debate about its existence rather than solution. Izabella: We are beyond that, it’s a waste of time, and I’m not going to waste my time anymore.
          Myth: Izabella, you are only writing this to be reassured. Izabella: Don’t patronize me.

          Here’s what I’d add. I’ve been arguing for a long time that gender bias against girls in math starts young and starts at the cultural level. It has to do with expectations of oneself just as much as a bunch of nasty old men (by the way, the above is not to say there aren’t nasty old men (and nasty old women!), just that it’s not only about them)….

          The comments build on this. The first is more subtle than what I suggested, but basically men from the Middle East in well-off families don’t have to compete educationally to get ahead, they have plenty of safety nets, so getting well educated isn’t all that important to attain social status:

          I taught math and physics at a foundations program at a junior college in Qatar for a year, and while I hesitate to draw any sweeping conclusions from my and my colleagues’ experiences, there is absolutely no doubt that where I taught the girls were much better students than the boys, and not just in math. (In Qatar, they call nineteen-year-old and twenty-year-old students “girls” and “boys.”) The commonly accepted reason was that the girls understood that this was their last chance at a non-traditional life; if university in Qatar did not work out, then the girls would be spending their time raising families. The boys had the fallback option of going overseas to another university and had no difficulty securing a career in any case (usually going into the family business). But the parents were uncomfortable with the idea of sending their daughters overseas. So any girl who wanted a career was extremely motivated to study, in a way that the boys were not. The other important factor is that there is a big push in Qatar to make education available to girls/women, and it is notably backed by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, DBE, (whom Westerners might call “a Queen” — she is married to the monarch), who is extremely influential and committed. So while I do not have anything close to statistical proof, I would tentatively venture that, at least in some cases in these countries, it comes down to two things: a door has opened relatively recently for girls/women and they realize that they have to take advantage of it earlier rather than later in their lives.

          Another comment:

          One factor to consider is cultural attitudes towards math and science. By that I mean that there are (at least) two factors in play: how patriarchal a given society is, and whether that society considers it desirable to be good at math and science. In more male-dominated societies, higher-status roles skew male and lower-status roles skew female, almost tautologically (to generalize: in the US, lawyers are male, legal secretaries are female; doctors are male, nurses are female; mathematicians are male, math teachers are female).

          In the US, for example, working in math and science tends to be high-status and well-paid (although teaching those subjects in high school tends to be a low-status and mostly female job), and we have numerous very public campaigns to get more Americans to study those subjects. Those campaigns tend to talk in terms of training more scientists, and culturally we view teaching as a quasi-unskilled fall-back for people who are “not good enough”. When I tell people that I’m a grad student in math, I’m generally asked if I plan to teach; I suspect that my male classmates don’t get that question nearly so often.

          But there’s no particular reason that these attitudes towards math and science would be universal. If there’s no particular cultural emphasis on math or science, you could easily imagine girls doing far better on these tests. For example, I think I read somewhere that in Japan, accounting (and by extension, math) was traditionally viewed as low-status women’s work that went along with managing a household.

          And a reply to that:

          Those attitudes aren’t universal. There’s a reason that in 5 or 6 centuries Spain has produced loads of artists and writers of the top level – Picasso, Goya, Dali, Miro, etc., Quevedo, Lorca, etc. – and yet has never produced a single mathematician or physicist of that level. It’s mainly cultural.

          One more comment:

          Based on the western/eastern europe scale, I will guess that societies in which females do substantially better are ones in which males do not require mathematics in order to advance. Advancement is primarily based on cronyism, socialisation, and other “soft” skills. Mathematics is less subject to “prestige” and subsequent classisms.

          Meanwhile in western europe, mathematics is now seen as a mark of the “smart guy” and is increasingly a core part of his CV if he is to advance in industries like finance and technology. Recalling that the amount of mathematics(not numerology) actually used in these industries is minimal, mathematics becomes part of a competative race and subsequent classisms, with attitude knocking young girls out of the race early to make more room for the men scrabling for positions.

          Western finance is riddled with “smart people”, who appear to have done well in high school algebra and AP calculus, but yet who design dysfunctional and catastrope prone systems that manage to “lose” billions of dollars in mere minutes. This is the end result of a race which measures someones worth by their ability to learn to solve equations by formula and and recite the digits of pi by rote.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Math and science aren’t respected in Iran. That’s why women can get ahead and not threaten men. Not making that up.

        I can’t say I’m an expert, but I’m not sure thats true. Iran has always done pretty well in international mathematics competitions. Its anecdotal I know, but so far as I know Iranians are quite over represented in maths and physics in most foreign universities (there may be other reasons for that of course.) A relative of mine who did physics in Stanford had quite a few Iranian/persian-American buddies in his course.

        The perception I’ve always had of Iranian society (and middle eastern in general), is that the educated middle classes tend to steer their smart daughters towards medicine, and their smart sons towards technical degrees such as engineering or science.

      4. marym

        I’ve done a lot of searching since reading this comment, but what little I’ve found doesn’t speak directly to that issue. Iran doesn’t seem to be part of the OECD PISA studies referenced in the mathbabe post, at least as far as “search by country” shows on their website.

        I have found a few items speaking positively to goals and accomplishments in science and technology, despite the limitations of years of sanctions. Some of that was on official websites, so possibly weighted toward positive reporting, but this is from an Israeli site, which of course portrays these accomplishments as a threat.

        One of my earliest introductions to political perspectives on women’s issues was a conversation with a woman who had been discouraged by college advisors from pursuing graduate studies in math. It’s discouraging now, decades later, to see expanded participation by women explained in part by men not being interested.

        I say that ironically, not critically. I don’t know enough about Arab Middle Eastern countries to compare to what little I know about Iran, in terms of math/science/technology education, accomplishments, objectives in general; and relative opportunities for women.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I recall a sci fi story in Analog maybe 40 years ago, same notion. It followed a techie who made her living detecting (and creating) ” fake reality” images, for blackmail, politics and advertising/marketing, in a fairly dystopian future where “everything is everything,” and norms and social order are jokes from a mostly obscured past.

  14. Kurt Sperry

    Re: “The hardest thing about gardening? It might be learning the gardeners’ lingo Prospect (micael)”

    Maybe it’s just me, but all I see at the link is a two paragraph tease rather than the article I expected.

  15. John Wright

    Re: Collateral Damage: U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies

    It is easy to determine if one’s US Senators voted for the HR3364 bill, titled

    “Measure Title: A bill to provide congressional review and to counter aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea, and for other purposes.”

    In the roll call vote only Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul voted against this.

    Per Diana Johnstone, the unintended consequences of HR3364 could be to drive Germany and France away from the USA..

  16. clarky90

    The Potempkin Village (Russia, Russia, RUSSIA!) has grown to Potempkinopolis. Something is hidden behind the quickly constructed movie set.

    This is a detailed and well presented discussion of an unbelievable scandal. Enjoy!

    The Truth About The Awan Family Democrat IT Scandal | Debbie Wasserman Schultz Exposed


    “On February 2nd, 2017, Democrat-hired informational technology workers Abid Awan, Imran Awan, Jamal Awan, Hina Alvi and Natalia Sova were barred from the House of Representatives computer networks. The Awan family members are currently under criminal investigation by U.S. Capitol Police after it was discovered that congressional information was being “funneled” to an off-site server and various equipment had been stolen. Due to the nature of their work, the suspects had full access to the emails and sensitive documents of dozens of congressional members who employed them – including multiple members of the homeland security, foreign affairs and intelligence committees”.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …and Jonathan Pollard, and others… and generals who give secret info to their mistresses or military suppliers…

  17. Richard

    Paywall kept me from FT article unfortunately; I would have been interested to read. Anyone have a free way in?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      One way that usually works for me is to copy the story title and then search for it in Google or Bing – you will usually find it or similar stories online for free….

  18. Craig H.

    Michiko Kakutani may have done more to warp my tastes than any other living person. Her getting packaged out at the New York Times is a Nixon-resignation-size quake on my Richter scale. I can’t find anything on the internet. I hope she is well.

  19. marym

    Company plans to close private Estancia prison, lay off 200

    The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials.
    “This is a big issue for us,” Torrance County Manager Belinda Garland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s going to affect Torrance County in a big way.”
    The closure will cost the town of Estancia about $700,000 annually, according to the county’s news release, and will result in about $300,000 worth of lost tax income for the county.

    “And I’m concerned about the jobs,” Garland said. “We are losing a large part of our workforce.”

    What a sad sick world that can’t find better use for a facility and the problems – jobs , homelessness, education, recreation – that a facility can help to solve.

    The poor suffering company is CoreCivic – new name for Corrections Corporation of America.

  20. TK421

    Wow, you really went to a strange school. The one I went to, it was girls who were treated with kid gloves. Now, given that boys in this country are far more likely to flunk a grade or drop out, and far less likely to attend or graduate college, I think the reality of who is favored is obvious.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I guess it depends on your perspective. The schools I went to most definitely favored boys and yes, even at the age of six, we girls were told we would be wives so we had to think about being polite and pretty and socially compliant and the boys were told they had to have a good career so they had to think about studying hard and competing……

      I have a MS in Engineering but as late as 1994, I had to sit through a lecture at work (in my first official engineering job) telling me why women shouldn’t be engineers. So what’s changed since then?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        There are the long term effects of Title IX, and then there is the teachers’ perceptions of the class as a whole and not the individual.

        I went to a small Catholic school (post Title IX) where everyone knew everyone and their business. Every class was treated differently. The girls in the class ahead of mine and the boys in my class were clearly favored or at least left to our own devices for obvious reasons, we were tools. The respective boys and girls knew they weren’t favored or faced more scrutiny. The grade behind mine was treated like the little monsters they were. The gender divide between my class and the class ahead of mine showed up in everything (colleges, standardized tests, after school activities, detention, egg drops). The teachers knew every relationship, who to watch, who needed more help, and who would be perpetually late. My experience was extreme, but good teachers know the character of a class coming in and react accordingly.

        1. Richard

          “My experience was extreme, but good teachers know the character of a class coming in and react accordingly”

          NTG, that idea doesn’t really transfer across to larger and more fluid public school settings, in the same way as at more controlled, patriochial schools.It’s just not really possible. At my school of course we share information, and cohorts begin to develop various reputations, but I personally prefer to draw my own conclusions about kids and classes, and try to tune out anything that would lead to a preconception about behavior or potential.
          Of course every good teacher teaches who’s in front of her, not who she had last year, and then adjusts as they surprise and amaze her.

        2. wilroncanada

          My wife, during the years she taught elementary school–grade 3/4 split plus music for all classes plus band, she deliberately did NOT access the files giving pre-packaged assessments of the behaviour of her classes. She discovered the obvious that she fully expected, good kids were as good as they were expected to be, and bad students were as bad as they were expected to be.
          Instead she spent her time developing individual plans that would challenge each child. She of course, later, discovered from talking to the kids, the ones who had parents who were absent until well into the evening, the ones who prepared them for their school, those who came with no breakfast and no lunch, the whole gamut, the girl who partway through the year missed a day because her father had committed suicide through carbon monoxide, and took her younger brother with him, and whose mother moved her boyfriend in two days later.
          She could handle these and other issues because she got to know the people her students, eight-to-ten-yearl-olds were.

      2. The Rev Kev

        If you are looking for an answer to that, I would not suggest looking at women software engineers in Silicon Valley. It’s like in some ways attitudes to women have gone back to the more regressive attitudes of the 1950s ala “Mad Men”.
        I can think of several explanations here but the first one that comes to mind is that there are so many trained people for positions, discriminating against women would be a great way to cut your competitors for your job down by half.
        Of course feminists treating all men like the enemy probably caused a lot of damage by alienating a lot of men who would ordinarily side with women on such basic ideas of equal pay and equal opportunity as it is, after all, the 21st century but we did not go down that road.

    2. Oregoncharles

      A big factor, much overlooked, is that through adolescence, girls mature about 2 years earlier. This is reflected in typical dating and marriage practice, so the kids themselves noticed.

      That means they have roughly a 2 year head start when applying for college. That would explain a lot, at that age. What we’re going to do with boys for 2 years escapes me.

      I think the other big factor is that girls are generally better behaved, if only for cultural reasons (Yves remarked on that). A subtler point: below college, schools are mostly staffed and, now, run by women. That suggests that they designed the places to suit themselves, and students like them.

      (Personally, I did pretty well in school, but was never completely cooperative.)

  21. fresno dan

    Since the 2008 financial crisis, colleges and universities have faced increased pressure to identify essential disciplines, and cut the rest. In 2009, Washington State University announced it would eliminate the department of theatre and dance, the department of community and rural sociology, and the German major – the same year that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette ended its philosophy major…… in 2011, the state of Texas announced it would eliminate nearly half of its public undergraduate physics programmes.

    But despite the funding crunch, it’s a bull market for academic economists. According to a 2015 sociological study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the median salary of economics teachers in 2012 increased to $103,000 – nearly $30,000 more than sociologists.

    The failure of the field (economics) to predict the 2008 crisis has also been well-documented.
    …..Short-term predictions fair little better – in April 2014, for instance, a survey of 67 economists yielded 100 per cent consensus: interest rates would rise over the next six months. Instead, they fell. A lot.
    The economist Paul Romer at New York University has recently begun calling attention to an issue he dubs ‘mathiness’ – first in the paper ‘Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth’ (2015) and then in a series of blog posts. Romer believes that macroeconomics, plagued by mathiness, is failing to progress as a true science should,…..

    Right now, however, there is widespread bias in favour of using mathematics. The success of math-heavy disciplines such as physics and chemistry has granted mathematical formulas with decisive authoritative force. Lord Kelvin, the 19th-century mathematical physicist, expressed this quantitative obsession:

    When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it… in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.

    The trouble with Kelvin’s statement*** is that measurement and mathematics do not guarantee the status of science – they guarantee only the semblance of science. When the presumptions or conclusions of a scientific theory are absurd or simply false, the theory ought to be questioned and, eventually, rejected.
    I don’t believe the problem is mathiness. If I am trying to figure out the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen in a water molecule, there are any number of experiments that I can do to try and discern that ratio. I have a hypothsis, a result, and the ability to confirm or falsify the hypothesis. Economists have a preternatural ability to excuse their own ignorance and sell it as fraught with meaning.

    Now take these economists trying to predict the direction of interest rates and they actually behaved as scientists. They would carefully describe the variables they are considering, the result their theory would give, and than confirm or falsify their theory.
    I would bet that not one of the economists in the articles’s example on predicting interest rate movement admitted that their theory is wrong (and incompleteness in providing all relevant variables …. is the same as being wrong) or incapable of providing a correct answer greater than chance. That is, their theories are meaningless. And yet, we pay attention to such people…

    ***let us please be fair to Lord Kelvin – Lord Kelvin would never propose that by measuring the outcome of fair dice tosses that one would be able to predict the next roll of a die. Lord Kelvin was speaking in the context of physical properties – not humans who think tulips or ninja home loans can be worth fortunes ….

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I had a student complain about my grading once when I gave him an F on a problem of calculating the radius of the earth. He calculated the radius to be 5 cm. He insisted that his math was exactly right – and yes, the math he used was absolutely done right – trouble was he used the wrong formula (model), and he should have used his common sense when looking at his results……..

      Economists never use common sense when looking at their results…….and when the results fail, they always think they need “new math”…..

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Some economists never use common sense…

        Their first flaw is that they presume rational actors.
        Their second flaw is that they omit a factor from their models: the malefactor factor.
        Their third flaw is that they confuse micro and macro (or rather, as one NC commenter put it, think macro is micro with large numbers).
        Their fourth flaw is that they cannot TEST macroeconomic hypotheses without possibly destroying one or more nations (Chile, for example).

        1. justanotherprogressive

          I think that if economists had common sense, they could easily see that Chile was proof of the failure of Milton Friedman’s brand of economics…….

    2. Oregoncharles

      Herman Daly, himself an economist who worked for the World Bank, thought it was just plain corruption. He said that early economists had allied themselves and their field with merchants in the social and political contest between merchants and landowners in 18th Century Britain. That was prescient, but it explains their severe neglect and even denial of the role of the environment. Daly is an environmental economist.

  22. BDBlue

    Haven’t listened yet, but lambert, here is a new interview with Adolph Reed, Jr. — here. This is the version not behind the subscriber paywall, but it’s still more than an hour, I believe.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    FDA Targets Cigarettes in Broadening of Fight Against Addiction Bloomberg

    Many forms of addiction…addicted to video games, fake news, rent extraction, salty snacks etc.

    1. polecat

      Of those forms you mentioned, I’d say extraction of ‘rents’ is THE biggest, and worst, addiction of all …

  24. Livius Drusus

    When I was in elementary school the girls were generally perceived as smarter and better behaved than the boys and girls were usually treated better too. I went to a Catholic parochial school so I wonder if that had something to do with it. The nuns seemed to like the girls more. To be fair, boys do tend to be rambunctious and that exasperated and angered the nuns but interestingly the secular teachers could handle us rowdy boys better. I think the difference was that the secular teachers had boys of their own and knew how to deal with us.

    There seems to be more public concern for how boys do these days.There is concern for the lack of women in STEM fields but at the same time you hear all kinds of stories about young men not working at all, the “end of men” and all that. I think this narrative is overblown. Dean Baker has written some good pieces on the supposed man crisis:

    Ultimately economic problems usually come down more to class than gender. Although there are some differences between the economic problems of men and women I think the hand-wringing over women in STEM and men choosing to play video games instead of working are all overblown compared to issues working men and women have in common

    1. Jess

      I, too, attended Catholic grade school. And yes, the girls were generally considered to be smarter and more diligent students. The last part was no problem but the first was one — for me. My mother was a teacher –at that same school — and both parents instilled in my long before first grade the need to learn, both as preparation for the future and for sake of learning itself. However, not everyone — particularly the parents of certain girl classmates — took kindly to the idea that a boy should be, or could be, the smartest in the class.

      Case in point: Fifth grade. Weekly spelling test. Gold stars on the board to everyone who got a perfect score, with the goal being to see who could go the longest without misspelling a word. Finally gets down to me, a boy named David, and 5 girls. Slowly everyone else drops out. I win, and go another month or so racking up perfect scores before I flub one. Pay off: several parents come to the school and demand to see my test papers in an effort to find instances where I misspelled a word but got a perfect score anyway because my mother was a teacher there and must have used her influence.

      1. Anon

        Tell me what a 6-yr. old is watching on TV and I’ll tell you what they are thinking (mostly).

        In elementary school girls are likely smarter than boys. Then puberty gets in the way. By college woman are more intellectually accomplished than men.

        Unfortunately, none of that seems to matter; look whom is in the White House.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The research I’ve seen indicates that girls are much better at focusing at academic work up to 6 or 7. They are far easier to teach. It equalises after that as boys calm down a little. I’ve seen it suggested that the academic gap between boys and girls is almost entirely due to schooling starting too early for boys. The later formal schooling starts, the smaller the academic gap between boys and girls. Starting school at 4 gives girls a significant advantage.

  25. Oregoncharles

    ” The temporary arrangement would be similar to the single market and customs union but outside both. It would end before the next general election in 2022, by which time Britain’s relationship with the EU would be governed by a free-trade deal.

    And I’d like a pony. ”

    Something is missing here. I grasp the point that the UK has MORE to lose from a hard Brexit; but “less” isn’t “nothing.” In fact, it may be quite a lot; it might even hit truly powerful interests. What we haven’t seen is an analysis of what the EU has to lose, and who would lose it. There’s the obvious political cost, of course; it ruins the sense of inevitability and sets a precedent of dissolution – which would apply even if things go hard with Britain.

    I think it’s fairly obvious which COUNTRIES would be the biggest losers: Poland, which has far and away the most workers in Britain, and Ireland, which would face a hard border with N. Ireland. Neither is especially important (sorry, PK); but Poland has a very shaky relationship with the rest of the EU at this point. If they suffer from a hard-nosed EU position, they might be the next to leave; they, also, have their own currency.

    Ireland, OTOH, uses the Euro; but it would have a very strong motive to do something creative about that border (despite recent rhetoric about it being May’s problem; yeah, sure). “Creative” is quite likely to be against EU rules. How much license to they get? And what about Scotland? The mutterings about a Celtic Union make sense to me, but I don’t live there.

    What isn’t obvious is which COMMERCIAL interests would stand to lose. Various importers/exporters, for obvious; how important are they? The banks stand to gain, once the disruptions are over. What would those disruptions do to shaky banks, like Deutschebank? That’s the kind of information I hope to get from NC. And where are those interests located? I assume the import/export businesses are concentrated in France and the Netherlands, for geographic reasons. France is a Big Dog in the EU. How important are those interests to France?

    Obviously, this is a suggestion, not an assignment; I don’t think I could do it. But there must be somebody out there thinking about it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The simple answer is that even the industry groups that arguably have the most to lose, such as German automakers, are standing behind European leaders like Angela Merkel who are taking a tough line with the EU. They have accepted the notion that Brexit will do them economic harm. They see this as settled and have already moved past that. They are of a united view that the real priority is political: to make a Brexit painful for the UK pour decourager les autres.

      The Article 50 process is designed to be almost impossible to reverse by design: to discourage nations from triggering it. There is no mechanism for undoing it save perhaps a treaty change. Those normally take years and they always require unanimous votes. So given the short runway, the UK would have to ask NOW or at the very worst by the fall to have any hope of reversing what they’ve set in motion.

    2. makedoanmend

      FWIW, I think you missing a very important factor in your analysis. It is boring factor and one that is often overlooked or assumed to be of only passing importance.

      There is an entire system of administrative functional operations and a harmonisation of codes across the entire EU of which every country abides. It is an extensive system that is recognised by anyone who deals with adminsitrative issues whether they be from Poland, Ireland, France or Lithuania. The language may change with locality but the procedures and rules are understood and followed. To suggest the Irish will just, willy nilly, start making up rules to suit themselves to deal with border problems will not wash with the other 26 members. (In my own mind, I already consider the UK not to be a member state, having triggered clause 50.) Numerous administrative situations already have rules and procedures in place, having been negotiated in good faith by all members an enacted into law by all member states in their own legislatures. The states of EU have not spent the last 50+ years building towards an integrated trading and political system to have one country’s departure disrupt every facet orf European operational procedures.

      OTOH, if HM Internal Revenue is anything to go by, I don’t fancy the UK’s future ability to deal with their own internal administrative duties. Several accountants I’ve spoken with over the last few months have all said dealing with the staff (who seem keen but not particularly well trained) is beyond frustrating and hurting their own productivity. Often they just can’t trust the advice or codes provided by the clerks.

      Trust and procedures go hand in hand.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Systems that cannot bend will break. Rigidity makes for brittleness.

        Ireland was already trashed by EU requirements once, during the Great Financial Collapse.

        1. makedoanmend

          Of what rigidity are you referring?

          Administrative procedures and codes are necessary for any endeavours that involve human interaction or otherwise chaos ensues. The 28 EU members negotiate these procedures and codes to harmonize their interactions. This is as true for the EU as it is the internal working of the US or various international trade agreements.

          As for the “trashed” comment, well, there is much more room for analysis of the situation and subsequent outcomes than that the EU’s rules somehow imposed unconditional penalties on the Irish nation. Our politicians choose a neo-liberal socio-economic path well before the Western financial crisis hit Ireland and then choose neo-liberal solutions to neo-liberal problems. Hence, we are seeing the exact same socio-economic activity occurring today and being hailed as socio-economic success. Also, the pain inflicted by our Irish polity on the Irish people was also aided and abetted by the heavily US influenced IMF amongst other non EU actors.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The new Irish PM has stated clearly that the Irish government will not co-operate on ‘fudging’ border issues as suggested by London. His statements seem to kill stone dead any idea of a creative ‘fix’ on border issues. He is known as something of a motormouth, but it does seem that this is now firm Irish policy – Ireland is committed to the EU and will not try some sort of legal fudging to help out. Britain created the problem, and so its Londons job to sort it out. Anyway, the DUP (who really call the shots now) have stated they will not allow an Irish Sea border. The Irish government is almost certainly now focusing on trying to get as much money as possible from the EU as compensation. There is a possibility that a new Irish government, with Sinn Fein in a coalition, could have a different view, but I don’t think thats a likelihood within the next 18 months.

      I agree with Yves on the issue of mutual damage from Brexit. Its clear that most European countries have accepted that Brexit is a fait accompli, that it will cause significant damage, so they are focusing on moving on, with Europes centre having moved east. There is no mood or motivation to make life easier for the UK – none whatsoever. The overwhelming consensus is that the problems are 100% made in Britain, so Britain can live with the consequences. I don’t believe the UK has a single ally left in the EU – maybe some slight sympathy from other ‘EU reluctants’ like Denmark, but thats about it.

  26. Oregoncharles

    And also: “UK councils want billions in EU funding replaced after Brexit Politico”
    Wait a minute; how do those amounts, which the EU would save, compare with the amounts Britain would no longer be paying to the EU? Maybe this has been covered, but it sure applies to that “divorce bill.”

  27. Oregoncharles

    “Why do girls as young as six believe boys are smarter? Financial Times. I never did.”
    Well, no. Girls do better in school than boys. 6 year olds might believe it, because they haven’t been in school long, but not older girls.

    And of course, smart men know that women have been outsmarting us all along (sarc). It’s a survival skill.

    ” But I never thought much of being nice or well behaved either. ” Greatly appreciated. How’d you do in school? Because that’s one of the reasons girls do better.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I got no girl programming at home and I was always loud. Plus I was way taller and heavier than all the kids in my school until 6th grade, and the only reason it changed then was there was a boy in the class who’d been held a year. Many of the places I lived during my childhood, and this wasn’t by virtue of being a tomboy (( was dreadful at anything athletic) I hung out more with boys than girls. It was that the girls were mean and the boys not. So I didn’t get the full dose of gender programming at school either.

  28. RudyM

    How CGI, AI will empower ‘fake news,’ make it harder to tell if videos are real Business Insider (resilc)

    I think that plane has already flown.

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