Links 8/2/17

Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder Bloomberg (David L). Some rare good news.

Surprise Discovery Shows ‘Artificial Atoms’ Rapidly Self-Assembling Into Complex Structures Motherboard (furzy)

Bitcoin Just Split Into Two Different Versions Motherboard (furzy)

Meat industry blamed for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in Gulf of Mexico Guardian

Tech companies outsourcing foreign workers via H-1B visas pay low wages Quartz (Chuck L)

Your weight can affect how “American” you look Quartz (resilc)

Pregnancy loss and the evolution of sex are linked by cellular line dance PhysOrg (Chuck L)


U.S. Plans Trade Measures Against China Wall Street Journal

How China’s Risk Crackdown Will Hit Manhattan’s Property Market Bloomberg

China Has Had Enough of Trump’s ‘Emotional Venting’ New York Magazine (resilc)

China Has ‘Confidence to Defeat All Invasions’: Xi Jinping Defend Democracy

North Korea

Three things to know about North Korea’s missile tests Aljazeera. Micael: “…”could potentially hit the US base on the island of Guam as well as Alaska, although the naval base on Hawaii and the rest of the continental US are still out of reach“.”

US to N Korea: We’re not your enemy BBC

Australia’s vanishing back yards a health risk MaroBusiness

Letters from India: How Bad Can the Crackdown on Cash and Tax Evasion Get? What’s Next? Michael Shedlock (EM)



>One Year On From the Brexit Vote

Oliver Wyman. Estimates 31,000–35,000 job losses in the financial services industry. Would be nice to know what % of total financial services employment that represents. Does not add in related shrinkage in support services (lawyers, accountants).

UK voters believe economic damage is price worth paying to get their way on Brexit Politico. Be careful what you wish for. The old saying goes something like: “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job.” And amusingly, the polls answers reflect that too.

Hague backs transitional plan to avoid great Brexit ‘muddle’ Guardian. Guardian reported yesterday that No. 10 tried shooting this down.

#Lexit Fallacies Simon Wren-Lewis (micael)

Brexit and the corporate war on regulations designed to protect life itself The Ecologist (micael)


Venezuela Agents Arrest Opposition Leaders In Midnight Raids : The Two-Way NPR

The US empire ready to stage another coup against Venezuela failed evolution

Blair escapes prosecution for the invasion of Iraq. What now for accountability? Middle East Eye (micael)

British Airways apologises for Heathrow Airport mayhem after system failure sees huge delays for holiday goers Telegraph

‘Muslim terrorists’: Far-right Norwegians mistake bus seats for burkas Middle East Eye


Culture of concealment: The UK government’s brazen duplicity in Yemen (micael)

Can the US defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan? Aljazeera (micael)

Yemen: more than one million children at risk of cholera – charity Guardian

New Cold War

The New York Times Pushes Propaganda War Against Russia by Publius Tacitus Sic Semper Tyrannis

Sanctions, smoke and mirrors from a kindergarten on LSD The Saker

Turkey, Russia and Interesting New Balkan Geopolitics Near Eastern Online

Putin’s shock therapy may help Trump bury the Russia story Asia Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Amazon Echo can be turned into a spying device, security researchers reveal AndroidGuys. Chuck L: “Apparently the vulnerability has been fixed on the 2017 version of the device, but owners of earlier ones should heed this advice:”

…in order to successfully hack the speaker, a hacker would need to have physical access to it. So you might want to lock your Amazon Echo away when your computer wiz cousin comes over for a visit. . . the attack can be carried out by removing the Echo’s rubber base to reveal 18 debug pads which can be used to easily debug the device. From there, hackers would be able to boot directly into the firmware by attaching an SD card or install malware without leaving any actual physical traces.

US lawmakers are trying to fix the security nightmare that is the ‘internet of things’ Business Insider (David L). It’s not fixable. For starters, manufacturers go out of business and there is no one to continue to be responsible for the device. And notice the article insisting we must submit to having spying devices. I’m going to continue to buy stupid devices. In fact, given the tone of this article, enterprising readers with attics should stock up on non-IoT-infested devices (anything that runs off electricity is expected to be chipped someday) for their own use and perhaps future sale. Or you could figure out how to turn your entire home into a Faraday cage and engineer carveouts for select devices.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Trump’s new Air Force One planes could come from bankrupt Russian airline Guardian

Trade Traitors

A monster payday in Argentina shows a flaw in Trump’s NAFTA renegotiation Dave Dayen, Intercept

Trump Transition

Republicans grow less fearful of defying Trump Financial Times. Erm, were they ever following him?

What Trump Has Quietly Accomplished Atlantic (resilc)

Homeland Security to Bypass Environmental Laws in Border Wall Work New York Times (furzy)

Full transcript: Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview Politico

Senate confirms Trump’s FBI director nominee The Hill

Tillerson Says He’s Comfortable in Job and With Trump Bloomberg (resilc)

Jeff Sessions isn’t bringing back the war on drugs. That’s because it never ended. Slate


Some Insurers Seek ACA Premium Increases of 30% and Higher Wall Street Journal

Covered California premiums will rise 12.5%, and Anthem Blue Cross cuts coverage Los Angeles Times. Jessmoney: “Blue Crucifix is abandoning ACA market in most CA counties next year; others raising rates ave 12.5%. Looks like Trump was right; all he has to do is wait for Obamacare to implode.”

GOP chairman opens door to Democrats on ObamaCare The Hill

Republicans urge Trump to keep critical health subsidies for low-income people Guardian

Single-Payer is the American Way Health Care Blog (David D)

House Votes Unanimously to Extend VA Choice Program for 6 Months JTM: “‘Choice?’ Privatization advances… ”

New book on CIA master-plotter Dulles, Sneak peek: Part 2 WhoWhatWhy (Sid S)

The Bane of Bain Corey Robin (martha r)

The big lie about California’s housing crisis San Francisco Examiner (Sid S)

Keystone XL Pipeline in Limbo: Developer May Not Build as Landowners Put Solar Array on Proposed Route EcoWatch

Fake News

Lawsuit Alleges Fox News And Trump Supporter Created Fake News Story NPR (furzy, JohnnyGL). Lambert provided the AP version if you want to not feed NPR page views. I need to read the filing but I can’t imagine what legal theories they are relying on. Businesses plant BS stories all the time. A big proportion of scientific studies are garbage (as in not just by being badly designed but by virtue of the funders wanting certain types of positive findings and the researchers finding a way to oblige). If the standards presupposed by this suit were actually observed, the volume of “news” stories would shrink by a bare minimum of 40%.

And separately, by now everyone who has heard of the Seth Rich story has their priors. So trying to debunk it by this peculiar route not going to convince anyone who thinks the official story didn’t add up, and it has the added PR negative of reviving the story. Although it may give Google justification for downgrading Fox News in its next algo redo.

Pulitzer-Prize Winning Reporter: FBI Report Shows It Was Seth Rich – Not Russians – Who Gave DNC Emails to Wikileaks George Washington. Note Lambert is nervous about the ongoing row over Seth Rich because the folks who are pushing the anti-party line side on the whole don’t have good track records as far as care with accuracy is concerned. And he was worried in particular about the audio that George Washington relies upon, since audios can be faked. So I’d treat this with caution until Hersh confirms it or publishes something generally consistent with this interview. Recall how Dan Rather got ruined by relying on a fake document which contained underlying information that was accurate, and the fact that the document was fake successfully created the impression that the story it told was inaccurate.

U.S. Auto Makers Report Steep Sales Declines in July Wall Street Journal

US regulator moves to loosen Volcker rule Financial Times

ROBERT SLOVAK V. WELLS FARGO BANK, No. 15-15881 (9th Cir. 2017) Justia (livewater). From a few months back but….Quelle surprise. Wells Fargo can’t find promissory notes.

Capitalism’s excesses belong in the dustbin of history. What’s next is up to us The Guardian (resilc)

Class Warfare

In retrospect: Das Kapital Nature

Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions New York Times

Consumers fare better under class actions than arbitration Economic Policy Institute

Not fare: how Uber drivers gang up to exploit passengers The Times

Antidote du jour. From aleric over the weekend:

The bees have finally returned to my garden in large numbers! I took these pictures this morning on my giant hyssops…

The honeybee is also interesting – though there is a hidden menace as it races to collect pollen before the japanese beetle eats all the blossoms

honeybee links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. MoiAussie

    North Korea: US not seeking regime change, says Rex Tillerson BBC

    “We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek the collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” said Mr Tillerson, referring to the border between the Koreas.

    This is starting to sound like a classic good cop, bad cop routine.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think one factor which has restrained the US from interfering more with North Korea in the past is the fear of the regional implications of a societal collapse and flood of refugees from the North.

      One of the worrying things about some of the geopolitical ‘thinkers’ in the Trump cabinet is that they may just see this as a benefit, not a cost. What better way to cause panic in China and keep South Korea and Japan dependent on the US military?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My gut says this is Kissinger trying to get Nixon to go to China and split the Sino-Soviet alliance. The greatest threat to American hegemony is a Moscow-Beijing or Moscow-Berlin alliance. You and I won’t be affected, but the war profiteers…oh boy.

        The focus on China is an attempt to scare China into acting, embroiling the Chinese into their own Vietnam/Afghanistan/Iraq and even to try to make Beijing look like an unreliable partner to Moscow. There have been stories about China favoring Tehran and Moscow wanting to abandon Tehran which seem to have no basis beyond unnamed American officials in recent weeks. While the U.S. has been bleeding blood and treasure the Russians and Chinese have been investing and growing their defenses. Those Russian cruise missiles launched from corvettes in the Black Sea ended the need for the Russians to have a Black Sea fleet. Addition by subtraction. They no longer need their fleet in the Black Sea. They control it.

        The Chinese are way too smart to engage in North Korea especially when they can direct refugees to a U.S. ally.

        After all, Kissinger is older. He probably is giving the “in my day” advice and the Trumpettes aren’t smart enough to grasp the horrid man is very old and horrid.

        1. Andrew Watts

          There wasn’t any alliance between the Soviet Union and China. The relationship between the two countries was always fraught with political and historical tension ever since Czarist Russia moved into the Amur River Valley. The dip—- imperialists have brought about a Sino-Russian alliance through their arrogance and stupidity which marked the peak of America’s imperial power. I also think you’re giving Kissinger way too much credit.

          Kissinger was looking for a way out of Southeast Asia. The obvious way out was having the United States form an alliance with China at a time when both countries consistently maintained poor relations with the North Vietnamese. This is self-explanatory given that the Sino-Soviet split was still ongoing. The anti-communist morons in the US didn’t like this but since we’re setting the bar so low in contemporary affairs I don’t feel I can justifiably criticize their stupidity.

          The Chinese aren’t going to invade North Korea. The flareup on the Korean peninsula began after South Korea elected an individual who openly expressed his desire for a peace treaty. IMO all the provocations launched by the North is merely posturing for a treaty on their terms. Just like ’94 any war scenario is a greater risk than a continuation of the status quo or other alternatives. Everything I’ve read about this stinks of a well-coordinated PSYOP incidentally aimed at the American public.

          It’s one thing to have nukes and an ICBM, but mounting the nuke on a ICBM is an entirely different engineering problem. I haven’t seen any indication that the North Koreans have made major progress towards the miniaturization of their nukes. Nor has their ICBMs successfully completed the re-entry process with any degree of accuracy.

    2. DorothyT

      MoiAussie writes, “This is starting to sound like a classic good cop, bad cop routine.”

      Rex Tillerson said, ” … we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel.”

      It sounds like a Secretary of State who is trying to ratchet down the bullying of one insane leader over another. Also sounds like Chief of Staff Kelly supported this. The consequences of this stand off between irrational leaders Kim Jong-un and Trump could be catastrophic.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “irrational leaders Kim Jong-un ”

        Short of the claims of the foreign policy establishment, what evidence do you have he’s irrational? He killed his brother. This is nothing new for monarchies. Potential claimants are always iced. He’s a weirdo. This doesn’t make him irrational. He’s building nukes. Do you remember Gaddafi and Hussein? Guess what mistake they made!

  2. MoiAussie

    One Year On From the Brexit Vote Oliver Wyman (first in brexit)
    is missing a link. Not sure which is the original report, as there are several on this.

  3. PlutoniumKun


    #Lexit Fallacies Simon Wren-Lewis (micael)

    Brexit and the corporate war on regulations designed to protect life itself The Ecologist (micael)

    I think these should be required reading for Corbyn and others who somehow think that Brexit will free up Britain for some sort of progressive, left wing future. Brexit was pushed by far-right billionare cabals for a very specific reason – they want to push for a completely deregulated, libertarian future. The left wing opposition to the EU is based on very similar misconceptions about Europe that so many Brexiteers share – the eurozone is a disaster, but the eurozone is not the EU. The EU pushes free trade, but is not, and never has been, inherently neoliberal in the usual meaning of the term.

    From Wren-Lewis:

    Is levying a huge fine on Google because its search engine gives preference to its own shopping comparison site an example of neoliberalism? Is a maximum working week? Are environmental standards? These are all examples of a collective of states interfering with firms and the market. One of the strong and left wing arguments for the EU is that only at this level can you avoid large multinational corporations blackmailing states that attempted to challenge them in similar ways. I am sure there are many examples where the EU could do this more effectively, but at least they are trying.


    US websites focus on US news and developments, not yet seeing the historic Brexit-Trump connection. Their connection is, in fact, a de-regulating nationalist-masked juggernaut reversing what good has been accomplished to protect citizens, the environment and the planetary life cycles themselves from cumulative despoliation and ruin.

    The European Union, despite its shocking neoliberal financialisation, has evolved binding life-serving norms far ahead of the rest of the world over 70 years. This is not reported in the English-speaking world empire for an obvious reason.

    1. witters

      “I think these should be required reading for Corbyn and others who somehow think that Brexit will free up Britain for some sort of progressive, left wing future.”

      Yes, the fool should learn from Tsipras’ achievements.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Tsipras was dealing with the Eurozone. Britain isn’t in it and had no plans to be.

        And one of Tsipras’ problems, easily forgotten, is that at no time did the Greek people want to LEAVE the Eurozone, let alone the EU.

  4. RenoDino

    US to N Korea: We’re not your enemy BBC

    Don’t you love it how every official statement contains a thousand lies? Yes, we are their enemy. Of course we want regime change. We will negotiate with them, but only on our terms, hence no negotiations. China will be blamed for everything that we do to stop KIm.

    I did think earlier in the year that China could be brought around, but the price would be very high, namely, the South China Sea and Taiwan along with no restrictions on trade. Obviously, the U.S. has decided negotiations are for losers. We want it all. Either China stops Kim or they get a unified Korea and an American client state on their border. Those are our terms.

    China is now insinuating that we are bluffing. Little do they realize we are gripped by mass psychosis and on the verge of giant breakdown whose only cure is war. In so many ways, Kim is a blessing because he is the perfect target and he comes along at the perfect time.

  5. PlutoniumKun


    How China’s Risk Crackdown Will Hit Manhattan’s Property Market Bloomberg

    China’s crusade against capital outflows and leverage has ensnared some of the nation’s largest property investors, including Anbang Insurance Group Co. — the owner of New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel.

    Key quote:

    The crackdown is rippling across the world, and will likely spur an 84 percent slump in Chinese overseas property investment this year, and a further 18 percent drop in 2018, according to a report from Morgan Stanley. The most vulnerable real-estate markets are those in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong and Australia, with office properties the most exposed, analysts including economist Robin Xing wrote.

    There were a few links yesterday noting an almost complete shut down in house purchases in London. Everyone has shifted attention to other bubbles, not least auto loans and an overcooked stock market, but I wonder if we are seeing the first stages of a property bubble collapse in key big city markets. There seems a concensus (from what I’ve read) that such a collapse would not be systemic ‘this time’. But I wonder what that would do to the flows of hot money around the world, especially with worries over Trump and Brexit.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Toured a ridiculous McMansion in Newton MA the other day- listed for $5M a year ago, now down to 4.

      It was hideous and huge (11k sq ft!) with fake stone veneer, on a tiny lot with a 4 car driveway and no yard.

      I can’t see anyone buying it for anything other than tearing it down and replacing with something closer to what was there before greedy idiots replaced it with that monstrosity in 2009. If this is anything close to the general state of the luxury property market it is bubblicious as hell.

      1. Jim A

        I actually don’t think that a decently executed fake stone veneer looks as bad as the now common real stone veneer that consists of flagstones glued to the surface, without any real attempt to make it look like they were layed down in courses. And as often as not they only bother with THAT on the front. The sides* and back just get vinyl siding.
        *including the side with no windows.

      2. John

        It’ll get chopped up into multifamily housing…the same as happened with the huge Victorians from the turn of the 19th century. Or abandoned to squatters. It’s interesting to think of the pros and cons of their reuse. Shoddier construction but much better insulated. The great rooms with floor to ceiling glass will probably end up as open air atriums until the floor rots out. The smaller bedrooms could house a family. Toilets may work if water can be kept on. It all depends on how the society transitions with climate chaos. I’m thinking something like India at the present time, but that would be a good outcome.

        1. Ned

          John, The quality of these structures will not allow repurposing like the well-built large homes built in the Gilded Age of the 1890s through the excesses of the 1920s that were often divided up into boarding houses and then war workers housing in the 1940s.
          New entrances, secondary walls added etc.

          They often became slums as the Middle Class moved out to new suburbs in the 1950s.

          I see squatters and bulldozers in the future of most McMansions.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Sounds like a candidate for McMansionHell.

        Seriously though, I really don’t understand the desire for giganticism in houses. All I could think about if someone gave me an 11,000 sq foot house is ‘it will take me weeks to clean the floor!’ And then there is the heating bills. How could anyone decide that an 11,000 square foot house done on the cheap would be better than, say, a 5,000 sq foot house built using high quality finishes, which would probably cost the same to build (and a lot less to run).

        I’ve spent a lot of time looking at 18th Century mansions in Britain and Ireland, and many times they were built on a budget, and designed to look big. But they never built bigger than they could afford, they used smart architecture to create a visual set piece, often hiding a ‘relatively’ modest interior. An example is Carton House, which looks gigantic, but is just one room deep in most parts. Impressive, but… practical. It seems even bad taste has been crapified.

        1. George Phillies

          Clean the floor? Use robots. I use them. Extensively. As a bachelor, I have a 4500 square foot house that is in full use; the robots do almost all the work.

          Why would you want 11,000 square feet? Consider the friend whose relatives would all like to visit for thanksgiving–all 47 of them.

          If you don’t like the front veneer, pull and replace.Given the price of the house the veneer replacement is cheap.

          1. JoeK

            I’m one of those people who ends up spending time around people from all parts of the economic strata, and one of the practices that seems somehow crucial to the chi-chi bougie lifestyle (like I understand GP above to be seriously enjoying) is that waste is good; the more materials and energy you can insouciantly “toss in the trash,” the better off you are, IOW the more power you have.

            Ironically most of these people are craven* to a greater or lesser degree; methinks their wealth and its trappings is mostly a cushion between them and the unsanitized world world hoi polloi inhabit. Enough exposure to the opiate of big soft towels and granite counters either gets one hooked or leads one to sober up and realize it’s not just harmful but pathetic. As Laozi wrote the greatest satisfaction is the satisfaction of being satisfied; thus the greatest disappointment is that of never being satisfied.

            A friend of a friend once offered to put me up in his 4k sq/ft house for a few days. I barely saw him while there, but after a couple of days he told me I had to cut my visit short because he “needed the space.” Just as well, it took forever to walk from the guest room to the kitchen.

            *A goode olde English word I liked even better before it got famous.

          2. kareninca

            The only way a 4500 square foot house could be in “full use” is if about ten people live in it. In which case (leaving aside now-rare big families) it is not a house; it is an apartment complex in an area zoned for houses. Which is fine if the town allows it and the neighbors are okay with it, but again it is not a “house.” Also vanishingly few 4500 sf. houses are used that way.

            Using enough energy to maintain an 11,000 square foot house, and destroying the habitat required for its footprint, and manufacturing and transporting the building materials required (most of which are probably from a toxic waste pool in China), all to house visitors for one annual holiday, is just unimaginably selfish.

            If you’re using robots, perhaps you don’t care about privacy:

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry, classy people have separate cottages (as in multiple) for them. More privacy. And that also means you only have to keep the now smaller main house fully heated and maintained most of the year.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think I’ve seen a few like that at our local Universal Studios

          Impressive from the front.

      4. bronco

        Newton needs to keep property tax revenue up to pay for the upcoming 500 million dollar elementary school

  6. PlutoniumKun


    Your weight can affect how “American” you look Quartz (resilc)

    I find this kind of interesting. A few years ago I frequently travelled the subway from Manhattan to Flushing with a Chinese born American friend. She would casually (in that very refreshingly unpolitically correct way of most Chinese people) point out the ‘ABC’s’ and Chinese immigrants – she could tell them immediately from body build, and from the way they move (the study doesn’t address this, but another Chinese friend told me that back home after a few years in Europe people said she ‘looked more western’ because of they way she walked and moved). A whole set of assumptions could be made just from peoples body shape and movement, and it doesn’t just apply to Americans. From the article:

    White and black Americans were perceived as significantly more American than Asian or Latino Americans. But weight did not affect how “American” participants rated white and black individuals in the photos, researchers found. This supported their theory that people believed to be from other countries—specifically, countries that are stereotypically thin—are considered more American if they’re heavy.

    Sapna Cheryan, an associate professor of psychology and a coauthor of the study, called the finding “an unusual possible protective benefit of being heavier for Asian Americans.”

    “People in the US often encounter prejudice if they are overweight—they may be mistreated by a customer service person, for example, or a health care provider. Weight can be an obstacle to getting good treatment,” Cheryan says.

    “We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign,” she says.

    1. JamesG

      I was once told by Parisian friends how easy it was for them to identify American men solely by our walk.

      1. Harold

        This was true in Italy right after WW2. As an (American) child living in Italy in the 1950s, I learned to do it, too. Americans walked with their legs spread apart, for some reason.

      2. Terry Flynn

        Growing up in a British city with a pretty good distribution of socioeconomic classes (A through E), you very quickly learnt how to spot a C2/D/E man by his walk – and this is true across many other places, I subsequently learnt. That tom-cat like “make yourself look bigger so you don’t get challenged” thing by deliberately pushing out your shoulders, and having most body movement confined to the legs when walking was the give-away.

      3. Xihuitl

        I lived in France for 14 years and I could tell fellow Americans just by the way they laughed.

    2. JoeK

      It’s very easy to differentiate Asian Americans in Japan from Japanese people, even by a quick glance at their sitting posture, especially women.

      In TCM toes in is yin, toes out is yang. Hence the splayed-foot swagger of “tough guys” in New York, London, Paris, Beijing, and Tokyo (mainly chimpira and yakuza only tho in Japan). A wide stance like Larry Craig’s is a universal signal of status/power, like the GIs in Italy.

      Many women in Japan walk with some degree of drop foot (neurasthenia) due to–it’s an educated guess–too much seiza-sitting. That probably also contributes to the common pigeon-toed gait. Restriction of women’s movement/freedom is of course a common thread in patriarchies–in Japan it is evident in among other things the design of the kimono–only baby steps possible. The Chinese took it a step further pardon the phrase with foot binding (I personally saw a number of elderly women shuffling around on bound feet in China in the mid ’80s).

    3. Andrew Watts

      I can confirm through personal anecdotes that slim Asian-Americans aren’t generally viewed as American. I’ve been repeatly told that I speak really good English and that I should go back from where I came from which I found to be humorous. Coincidentally, I’ve been told by Chinese and Japanese friends that I’m more Oriental than American. Which is both highly complimentary and incredibly insulting. While traveling aboard I’ve frequently been mistaken for Japanese.

      On the flip side of that I’ve been mistaken for being white and other races. Which is a virtue of being mixed race and preferring the NOC shift. Mostly by the younger millennial generation but that also may be because my birth name is so white-sounding.

  7. PlutoniumKun


    Turkey, Russia and Interesting New Balkan Geopolitics Near Eastern Online

    From the article:

    There’s a major tectonic shift underway not only in Hungary but also across the entire Balkans. The shift involves Erdogan’s Turkey and also Putin’s Russia. The outlines of a new Balkans geopolitics are emerging and it’s opening huge fault-lines within the EU between die-hard NATO Atlanticists and pragmatic EU states more keen on economic development and the health and safety of their countries than in defending a bankrupt declining USA Superpower.

    I don’t think there is any doubt but that Putin has been triumphant in the manner in which he has extended Russian influence into the Balkans, eastern Mediteranean and northern Middle East. For all Erdogans nationalism, he has been rapidly pulled into the Russian orbit, notwithstanding NATO membership (how long can this last if he is buying S-400 missiles from Russia?).

    But I think the EU dodged the proverbial bullet over Turkey. A few years ago it seemed likely that Turkey could join. I think the overall strains this would have produced would have been unsustainable for Europe. It was probably a mistake to extend EU membership over countries like Hungary and Bulgaria. I suspect that if Hungary moved to leave the eU, there would be little opposition from core European countries. But this would leave a very unstable situation whereby some countries become rapidly more pro-Russian, while still in NATO.

    The other issue is those northern east European countries on the Baltics and Poland, which are struggling to conform with the EU, but are relentlessly anti Russian and anti-Putin. Its very hard to see what direction those countries can go without ripping themselves apart.

    1. OIFVet

      It was a mistake for countries like Bulgaria to join the EU. The Eurocrats knew full well that corruption was still very prevalent in Bulgaria and Romania, and that allowing these countries in would remove almost all incentives to clean it up. But German and other Western European companies needed markets to sell crapified versions of foodstuffs at inflated prices, Ireland had tons of 25 years old frozen beef to sell to Bulgaria, and French, British, and Dutch agribusinesses had pressing need for cheap labor to pick strawberries and melons. In the end, it all worked out well in this best of all possible neoliberal EUs…

  8. Democrita

    Re:the Times buyouts…. I can’t figure out how I feel about this. On the one hand, experienced journos with old-school training (trained to try to tell truth, vs the current openly marketing-oriented ‘journalism’) have great public value. But I’ve become thoroughly disgusted with the NYT because it doesn’t deliver.

    I guess it’s a bit like the Dems: good concept, but reality belies theory. We need good journalism same as we need good governance, and we’ll get neither without massive upheaval, it seems.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I was thinking that these journos should start their own site to challenge WaPo and NYT. If I were them, I’d be shopping around for grants right now.

    2. Carolinian

      Most of the true liberals at the NYT left some time ago as the paper took a rightwing turn under Abe Rosenthal. So politically it’s unlikely to make any difference at all.

    3. alex morfesis

      the grey lady has not changed…americans have changed and expect more…go dig thru grey lady archives…same cut and paste of flak industry bernaze glaze going on for decades…americans are less easily tooken today…even the red hat church ladies from ohio roll their eyes when they hear the same old stale bread…

      1. Carolinian

        I’d say their recent journey into social media land really is different. They said it themselves during the campaign when Rutenberg wrote that piece declaring the old rules don’t apply in the age of Trump.

        But yes the ownership has been center right pro business going back to the 19th century.

  9. schultzzz

    Thanks for the link to the Saker article about Russia and geopolitics! This kind of international perspective is totally new to me and I never would have found it by myself. (the only other person I’ve read who writes about this stuff is Pepe Escobar, but his writing style is too, uh, ‘psychedelic’ for me to understand).

    I’m not sure what Saker’s bias is, so I’m reading with a grain of salt…but it’s new stuff to think about , for sure.

    1. sid_finster

      The Saker is, for better or worse, a Russian Orthodox Christian traditionalist, albeit from an emigre Russian background.

      Such people are often “more Russian than the Russians” just as in Ukraine, the “Canadian nationalist” is a stock figure in jokes.

      This tidbit doesn’t make the Saker right or wrong, but it is useful in determining where he comes from in his analyses and opinions.

      1. Montanamaven

        I appreciated his ending with an ode to regular USians in his trip across the US. As a nation we are an awful people, but individually,we can be OK. Unfortunately the only people who want to run things are not very bright a**holes.

        1. polecat

          Well, those ‘a**holes are bright enough to run most of the plebs in circles, or so it would seem ….

      2. JoeK

        I suggest taking no small amount of what Escobar has to say about Asian politics with a giant grain of salt. He often comes across to someone who’s familiar with the region as a true believer who’s propagandizing rather than reporting.

  10. MoiAussie

    Amazon Echo can be turned into a spying device, security researchers reveal
    So, physical access to the device permits hacking – this is true of almost every computing device.
    What the article doesn’t focus on is that Echo and equivalents are designed to be spying devices.

    MRW InfoSecurity researchers were also able to develop scripts which leverage the functions within the Echo to stream audio to a remote server.

    but the device already streams audio to a remote server – one owned by Amazon – by design. So don’t worry too much about having your Echo hacked, if you’ve bought into this you have bigger problems.

    Do you trust Amazon not to be evil?

    1. JoeK

      Yes Bezos et al are enjoying a rare opportunity in world history to plunder value from an (in this case techno-) illiterate populace. So far they’ve done well, probably another generation or two before there’s any serious pushback.

  11. Jim Haygood

    From our criminals with badges department:

    U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found former Maricopa sheriff Joe Arpaio guilty of misdemeanor contempt of court Monday for intentionally defying a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

    Arpaio was accused of prolonging the patrols for nearly a year and a half so he could promote his immigration enforcement efforts in a bid to boost his 2012 re-election campaign.

    The taxpayer cost from a racial profiling case that led to his conviction is expected to reach $92 million by next summer. People who were illegally detained when Arpaio violated a court order in the profiling case will still need to be compensated.

    The 85-year-old retired lawman is set to be sentenced Oct. 5 and could face up to six months in jail. But attorneys who have followed the case doubt someone his age would be incarcerated.

    Try ripping off the gov for $100 million as an individual taxpayer, or as a doc bilking Medicare, Sentencing guidelines for your felony conviction will call for decades in prison.

    But a former LEO who directly defied a court order at a cost of $92 million gets a misdemeanor rap with a possible six-month term — about the same potential punishment as littering in a national park.

    That’s our “Just us” system at work: savage punishment for little people [a personal fetish of Sheriff Joe]; white-glove treatment for the politicians, spooks and LEOs who oppress serve us.

    1. CDT

      Without detracting from your larger point, part of the reason for the six-month maximum jail term is because that is the constitutional maximum for cases without a jury. Supreme Court precedent says the Seventh Anendnent right to a jury trial applies once the possible jail term exceeds six months. This is a criminal contempt proceeding with no jury, although Arpaio has complained about that.

  12. RenoDino

    Sometimes I do get it right. Heller did cave in the end on the skinny repeal. No surprise here.
    He’s always been a shill for corporate interests.

    “I’ve got a new name for people like him: ROTT. Republicans on the take,” Root said in an interview. “They’re bought and paid by corporate America.” Root is a Republican commentator so you can see Heller really screwed up and pissed off both sides. Being a slime ball will do that to you.

    But don’t underestimate the Democrats ability to fail in 2018 to defeat Heller. This could be Atlanta all over again.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Dow 22,000! headlines Drudge Report, based on CNBC’s observation that Apple’s six percent pre-opening gain could push the index up 50 points [all else equal in the other 29 constituents].

    How things have changed from nine months ago, when the received wisdom from the MSM was that a Trump election win would crush stocks 5 percent the next morning.

    Slowly but surely, bubble-topping euphoria is taking hold. Wise guests are quietly edging toward the emergency exits, as revelers prepare to set off fireworks inside the ballroom, while J-Yel and Stanley feebly attempt to snatch away the punch bowl. :-0

      1. Jim Haygood

        Craazyman Fund was updated in yesterday’s links. Meanwhile, sniffing a revenue blowout as stocks become even more interesting than Russia, CNBC piles on:

        Ahead of what looks like another tide-lifts-all-boats day for [technology], our call of the day, from Jefferies‘s Sean Darby, takes another swat at that bubble talk.

        He doesn’t see the tech sector as overvalued, even if broader markets are hitting new highs. On most conventional measures, the tech majors aren’t even expensive, the Jefferies chief global equity strategist tells clients in a note Wednesday.

        He explains: “In our view, many of the constituents have either joined an oligopoly (semiconductors) or have achieved monopolistic models that allow for ‘increasing returns to scale’ (internet/media).”

        Oligopoly and monopoly — COOL! And we can buy a piece of it! CNBC rabbits on:

        The Nasdaq Composite in 2016 “completed the trifecta,” according to Chris Ciovacco. It did this by breaking above resistance that dated back to highs made at the peak of the dot-com boom, he says in a blog for See It Market.

        He thinks the chart shows odds are in favor of “good things” happening over the next five to 20 years.

        The quarter-century secular bull market, comrades: you read it here first. ;-)

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Thank you Jim. Good conversation there yesterday too.

          I’ve got a similar experimental mix but added a REIT (O) to it and an oddball China based penny stock to shake things up. Started it only a year ago, not much concrete to say yet though it’s making money.

          1. Jim Haygood

            As the first hour of trading ends, the Nasdaq has lost its tumescence. When ebullience and media fist pumping boil over, a dip is never far off.

            A fail at Dow 22K is just the usual “dance of the round number,” featuring ritualistic teases and withdrawals before anything serious occurs. ;-)

            Better luck tomorrow!

    1. Mel

      True, but if the alternative is that nobody gets a mortgage at all? This is a consequence of cleverly contriving to avoid fixing the real problem. Resonates with divadab’s comment to the “Success Sequence” article, pointing out how fanatical focus on details can eliminate seeing a problem anywhere.

  14. Sutter Cane

    Video of some bike riders cruising through the homeless encampment on the Santa Ana river trail in Anaheim last week. My first thought was “So, California is Haiti, now?”

    This is not something that you see in mainstream media outlets.

    Something about seeing people bike through it really gives you a sense of the scale of it better than articles like this:

      1. Arizona Slim

        You can see the same thing in Tucson. Just ride the Loop or the Aviation bike paths.

          1. Off The Street

            “We homelessed some folks.”

            Bonus: Eric “Place” Holder, former alleged AG, exited through the gift shop and the revolving door right back to Covington & Burling.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I wonder what emotions coursed through the consciousnesses and consciences of the people riding their expensive bikes, wearing their lifestyle clothing, as they rolled past the scene… and what emotions characterize the viewers of this video: Empathy, or relief that it’s not them, or disdain, or what?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A typical powerless bourgeois, ladder-climbing or otherwise, might ponder:

        1. Where do ever more people in Anaheim and Santa Ana come from?

        Are they Okies?

        Are they Deplorables fleeing the Rust Belt?

        Are they Chinese billionaires? This is doubtful.

        Are the pregnant Chinese women? Not likely. They usually pay around $10,000 a month to stay in houses (used to be more conspicuous in large apartment complexes purchased by Chinese businesses minting money in this niche) bought from native residents. “Oops, there goes one more housing unit for people who work and ‘live’ here.

        Are they neoliberal victims from Mexico and further south?

        2. How long will cheap money and the housing bubble last?

        3. They are probably grateful they bought theirs a long time ago, or live in a rent-control city somewhere.

        On the other hand, a Great Soul, a Mahatma might say:

        “Welcome to my humble abode. Realistically, it can house about 15 people. But my ideal is to take in however many who show up….ten thousand or a million. We will worry about sanitary conditions later.”

        1. Ned

          Are they refugees imported from our follies in Haiti, the Middle East and other places, who are handed Supplemental Security Income payments for life, food stamps, housing assistance for life, SBA loans, cash and other things?

          Or, are they more “migrants” helping to enrich the broad tapestry of multiculturalism and diversity and to help hammer down wages on whatever jobs might still be left so that the economy can profit the selected capitalists?

          Nah, they’re probably just more lazy Americans who aren’t willing to join the Democrats’ Knowledge Economy or to pull themselves up by their GOP bootstraps.

          Inquiring minds want to know.

          Allan, How about NAFTAVILLE?

          1. marym

            “for life” ??


            Once the refugee has been approved for admittance to the United States, the Department of State handles overseas processing and contracts with nine national-level voluntary agencies who then coordinate refugee cases with 350 local affiliates in 49 states for initial resettlement. The agencies provide housing and other basic needs for the first 30-90 days with funding from the State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). The State Department contracts require voluntary agencies to consult with stakeholders prior to accepting refugees for resettlement in the states. Refugees are provided with cultural orientation to the United States, assistance during their first 90 days, self-sufficiency, money management,and introduction to the role of law enforcement in the U.S.

            The Office of Refugee Resettlement in HHS funds domestic refugee resettlement after the initial resettlement. ORR funds states to provide temporary, short-term cash and medical assistance and social services. Each participating state has a refugee coordinator.

    2. allan

      Wow. A neighborhood like that needs a suitable sign at the entrance.
      Bush Acres? Obamaville? Mnuchin Estates?

      Maybe the Davos crowd can drop by sometime to see what they have wrought.

    3. fresno dan

      Sutter Cane
      August 2, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Meanwhile, median rent in the area has outpaced inflation by 2.3% since 2007, and the share of renters who spend 35% or more of their income on housing has climbed to just above half. That large burden is partly a function of higher prices for apartments, housing watchers say, and partly of incomes that have been stagnant for years.

      I have read a number of articles that low income people are devoting more than 50% of their income to housing – and that presumes that ANY low rent housing is available at all. I would bet a surprising number of people there have jobs. But just as the market can’t supply affordable health care for all, we shouldn’t be surprised that it can’t supply housing for all either….

      I’m so old I can remember the saber tooth tigers lurking around the La Brea tarpits and Neil Diamond singing:
      L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
      And the feeling is “lay back”
      Palm trees grow and rents are low
      But you know I keep thinkin’ about…..

      1. Carolinian

        Of course one contributor to high rents are tony lifestyle amenities like bike trails. Wonder how long before all our parks start requiring a smartphone swipe for entrance…gotta keep out the riffraff.

        That said and as a nature lover myself I resent it when anyone tries to lay claim to our common recreational areas, even poor people. Here in the urban US there are not nearly enough parks as it is. Bad government seems to be the culprit all the way up to the top. Foreigners are appalled by our homeless problems.

        1. RUKidding

          Yes, my foreign friends can’t believe how bad the homeless problem has gotten here in the USA. I say: we are now a third world country because we are.

    4. RUKidding

      Oh these kinds of homeless encampments along rivers are all over the place in N. CA, as well. Sacramento has a huge homeless population camped along various places on the American River which flows through Sacramento (and other cities). Some of these encampments were prominantly featured on Oprah’s show (I think) about 4 or 5 years ago to much tsk-tsking but nothing, I mean NOTHING, has changed.

      Local Sacramento (as opposed to State) politics at the city and county level remains mired in finger pointing, incompetency, and apparent lack of caring one iota what is going on, unless someone or a business with money makes a big enough stink. Then, and only then, the PDs or other PTB go in and clear out the campsites. Fat lot of good that does bc where, oh where, are these people supposed to go? So back they come. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      We have some hope in newish Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who may actually accomplish something, but only time will tell. Former NBA Star Mayor Kevin Johnson – local guy from poverty makes good in order to completely and totally ignore the poor in his hometown – did sweet Eff All for the homeless and poor. He was too busy grifting for a new Arena and grifting WalMart to build a Super Store right in the middle of prime neighborhoods – the former happened, thankfully the latter did not.

      Former Mayor KJ is nowhere to be found anymore. Guess he got his booty and split.

      I see homeless encampments along numerous hiking & biking trails in the lower Sierra foothills.

      sadly all too common and getting worse.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Where are they (the homeless) supposed to go?

        The answer is in the next paragraph – the new Arena.

        I would also suggest letting them use the restrooms in City Hall…People’s Hall.

    5. Craig H.

      Anybody know the lat-lon? I scanned about two miles of the Santa Ana River trail (going north from Angels stadium) in google satellite view and it looked spotless, maybe two or three tents.

      1. Sutter Cane

        I don’t know how recent the satellite images on Google maps are. There is another video on youtube from about six months back and the encampment isn’t nearly as large. I suspect some relocated there after being forced out elsewhere recently.

    6. Jess

      We have too many homeless because we lack both a full employment economy or a BJG for the otherwise homeless. But we also have a problem with too many people wanting to live where they like, not where they can afford. I personally find the ever-increasing scale of major cities to be just like the idea of unlimited groaf in the economy. Neither can keep growing forever. Perhaps the solution is the combination of a BJG with a stipend to facilitate moving the Jobs guarantee recipient to a location where the new job is or will be.

    7. AnnieB

      Well, seeing that bike tour through the santa ana homeless community about broke my heart. One of the saddest things I’ve seen in the ole USA. Good God, the biker’s smart aleck comments were infuriating. Instead of being sobered by the sight of such devastation, the biker takes the opportunity to ridicule.
      What struck me was how the homeless community members tried to create some privacy and dignity, despite their condition.

      1. roxy

        I too was struck by the biker’s clueless comments, and also reminded of John Carpenter’s “They Live” where a large homeless encampment is bulldozed to the ground. Shortly after that Roddy Piper finds the “sunglasses”.

  15. mpalomar

    Artificial atoms rapidly assembling “What they saw—with help from a probing X-ray beam—was that the superlattices were self-assembling in a matter of seconds. Where the beam should have reflected back a specific pattern representing mostly individual particles, the actual pattern returned indicated the presence of full-one lattice structures.”

    Kurt Vonnegut’s ice nine from Cat’s Craddle

  16. JTMcPhee

    Everything about NC is packed with meaning, even the banner ads. I got one for “CSL Plasma — Good For You,Good For Life!” Featuring the picture of a woman of indeterminate age, color, financial and health status (click the ad and look close with zoom.) The “deal” is “Up to $400, and a bonus $6 Google coupon!” for just a little of your precious bodily fluids…

    The next big thing in the gig economy?

    Of course it’s been around since I was in college.

    And yes, I’m well aware that NC does not have any choice over the ads that appear. But the irony sometimes burns…

    1. fresno dan

      August 2, 2017 at 9:14 am

      the only banner ads I get is for Russian babes just dyin’ to meet me…..
      20 years as loyal basement dwelling bunny ear antenna wearing Soviet Putin mole to sabotage democratic party, and commies never even rewarded me with picture of honey pot….

      Do they mistrust my PRECIOUS bodily fluids???

  17. vlade

    On the brexit damage – the link doesn’t seem to work (extra stuff at the end of the link), a working link is

    I’d point out that it says some remainers saying that damage to the economy is a price worth paying to STAY in EU, not leaving EU. Or to teach levers a lesson.

    But it also says that the numbers change significantly (on both) when people are asked about personal damage (i.e “would you be willing to lose your job to get the result”)

    1. Anonymous2

      and of course a majority is against a ‘damaging’ Brexit – which is the only sort on offer.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I wonder if they’ll change their mind if it means no sunshine holiday in 2019. According to Michael O’Leary, that is highly likely, there will be no flights in and out of the UK.

      O’Leary has a big mouth, but I wonder if he is right that European airlines see an advantage in shutting UK airlines out of the market for a few months (I would be dubious about this, surely almost all European airlines would suffer, but perhaps they are betting they could get a competitive advantage).

      1. Terry Flynn

        Interesting! Pretty much in line with what I said about it being their holidays to Ibiza etc causing regret/changing of minds recently on here.

      2. vlade

        If UK airspace was shut down for a few months to the EU airlines, Amsterdam would suffer a bit (would have to take a large detour north). Paris and more south-based cities would be actually okish, as they could cut just south of the UK (not great, but doable).

        So the EU airlines would be hurt, but not killed dead (except for the ones flying mostly from/to Ireland to eastern routes). BA and EJ would be dead though, and it’s a question how well they could recover from a few months of lost revenue – while EU airlines would be getting the benefit of at least some intra-EU routes BA/EJ would have to drop.

        I’d say that the main point here is that the entangling is so complex, that two years can be done only if you do massive amounts of homework up-front, line up alliances up-front, decide on your priorities and plans B,C, … Z, and when you fire the gun, run ahead full steam, not just stand around looking confused.

        Instead, the UK is running a public education show “how not to do it”.

  18. JTMcPhee

    On “British Airways apologizes for system snafu,” I guess a “strategic apology” is somehow better late than never… A “strategic apology” usually being a specious, insincere, carefully scripted formula vomited up by Bernays Experts, blah-blah designed to assist with “crisis management” by manipulating the credulity and decency of the afflicted…

    As with the industry segment that provides legal defense, and eventually “corrections consulting,”, to mitigate the impact of actual prosecution (a chimaera, these days) of “white collar wrongdoing,” there are “credentialed” folks just salivating for the chance to help redistribute a tiny portion of the ill-gotten gains to themselves, at a cost to the “general welfare” of course…

    All so terribly predictable and ennui-generating. TEPCO, the Obamadrone “sorry we killed your village,” you name it… I prefer the in-your-face rapaciousness and arrogance of a Martin Shkreli — you know who and what you are dealing with…

  19. Olga

    Listened to S. Hersh’s narrative on the DNC leak – it certainly sounds quite reasonable. One interesting part is when he says that the leak investigation started as a consequence of his murder – perhaps debunking theories that he was killed because of the leak. All dark matters nevertheless…

    1. shargash

      Wikileaks has been retweeting links to the alleged Hersh interview, which is an odd thing for them too do if it was not broadly accurate

      1. Craig H.

        They want plausible deniability while revealing Rich as their source! If you follow enough of this long enough, then this becomes an acceptable manner for normal humans to behave. Now I am going to turn off my computer.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Hersh has not confirmed the audio. Until he does, there’s nothing here. Attribution of digital audio is just as sketchy as attribution of digital anything.

      And if there is a real story here, who is more likely to break it than Hersh?

    1. justanotherprogressive

      So it isn’t enough for people to have to sell their bodies (labor) at a discount, they are now expected to sell their brains at a discount too? Just so those at the top can get richer? Humans as commodities…….

      I keep hoping someday, humans will think they are more than just another “bag of sugar” and do something about this…

    2. ChrisPacific

      Good critique. The original article is actually much more interesting than the title suggests, painting a clear picture of a stratified market in which low-skilled workers are brought in via outsourcing firms while higher skilled workers are hired on the green card sponsorship track. But as Matloff points out, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is any more or less exploitation in either group. They are apples and oranges.

      Matloff is also correct in saying that the lack of mobility experienced by high skilled H-1Bs is a feature and not a bug, and it’s one that is not considered at all in immigration legislation. The green card sponsorship process even encourages employers to underpay, because they have to prove that no qualified US applicant is available to fill the position, but the compliance process doesn’t differentiate between “can’t find any US applicant” and “can’t find any US applicant willing to work for the salary on offer.” So the less money you offer, the more likely it is that there will be no US applications, and the stronger your case for sponsoring a foreign applicant. In theory once the employee gets the green card they get their mobility back and the employer’s leverage is gone, but the application process is hopelessly backlogged, particularly for applicants from India and China, and in practice employees can easily spend 5-10 years waiting for theirs to be considered.

  20. perpetualWAR

    The most important item: Slovak v. Wells Fargo gets no comments.

    Apparently even this crowd doesn’t care that banks cannot return promissory notes.


    1. JEHR

      We are all promissoried out after the housing crash where all the banks committed multiple frauds and no one went to jail. It’s old hat now!

      1. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

        It isn’t old hat. It is ongoing. And because it involves courts across the country in near lock step uniformity disregarding the rules of evidence, and procedure, and long standing legal doctrine, case law, and statute, that same judicial behavior will be coming to an issue near you soon, if it hasn’t already.

        In throwing all of that out the window to improperly rule to the benefit of one type of party – banks/creditors – our courts have established new precedents that can, and will, be applied to the detriment of all of the rest us that are not banks/creditors. This is the acme of judicial inequality.

        Judicial equality, or equality before the law, has had broad acceptance and application, with roots going back millennia. For example, Leviticus 19:15, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” (KJV)

        From Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Edition:


        equality before the law. The status or condition of being treated fairly according to regularly
        established norms of justice; esp., in British constitutional law, the notion that all persons are
        subject to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts, that officials and
        others are not exempt from the general duty of obedience to the law, that discretionary
        governmental powers must not be abused, and that the task of superintending the operation of law
        rests with an impartial, independent judiciary.

        “A number of distinct meanings are normally given to the provision that there should be
        equality before the law. One meaning is that equality before the law only connotes the equal
        subjection of all to a common system of law, whatever its content…. A second theory asserts that
        equality before the law is basically a procedural concept, pertaining to the application and
        enforcement of laws and the operation of the legal system…. A third meaning normally borne by
        declarations that all are equal before the law, perhaps no more than a variant of the second, is that
        State and individual before the law should be equal.” Polyvios G. Polyviou, The Equal Protection
        of the Laws 1–2 (1980).”

        Less antiquated references can be found by a read of seminal documents of the late 18th century relating to the American and French revolutions. The importance placed upon judicial, and/or legal, equality is easily discernable.

        Without specificity Jefferson repeatedly expressed the lack of judicial and/or legal equality as causative in the “Declaration of Independence.”

        The US Constitution, in the Preamble, expresses “justice” with specificity. I’m certain that was intentional.

        “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

        From Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Edition:


        justice. 1. The fair and proper administration of laws.”

        The French, in 1789, borrowed from our example (though clearly we’d borrowed from others before us), expressing in Article 6 of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen:”

        “Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.” [emphasis added]

        This “Declaration” was later modified in 1793, and renamed “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1793.” The language in Article 6 relating to judicial equality in the prior version was moved to Article 3, and expressed the same sentiments in considerable linguistic economy:

        “All men are equal by nature and before the law.”

        Providing additional examples, and support, for the importance of judicial equality, or equality before the law, would merely belabor the point.

        It is clear that in the absence of judicial equality no other types of equality whatsoever are possible.

        The issues in Slovak were so simple a 3rd grader can understand them (if you add in a candy bar and some quarters as the items being negotiated).

        Slovak and WF came to an agreement. WF unilaterally altered the terms of the agreement. District Court Judge Robert Clive Jones tried to force Slovak to perform in accordance with terms of an agreement … that he had NOT agreed to. Judge Jones can’t do that. As a sitting Federal District Court Judge it must be presumed that Judge Jones knows the rules, and the law, and he knows he can’t do that. But he did it anyway.

        Fortunately Slovak had the cajones, and the resources, to take it up to the 9th COA. That court did not disregard rule and law, and stated simply “Slovak refused to accept that changed agreement, and asserts that the district court erred when it forced him to do so. We agree.”

        Most litigants are not as fortunate. They lack the resources to muster for an appeal. Appeals are expensive, complex, and lengthy, so when the trial court disregards rule and law to rule for its preferred party that is usually the end of it.

        Old hat? Anyone that considers this to be old hat is either extremely prejudiced, or extremely myopic, or both. The effects of the wholesale abandonment of judicial equality are going to be multi-generational. I have doubts the country will ever recover.

        “Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon.” Walter Kovacs.

  21. craazyboy

    Lola – The Kinks

    [aka – It’s full of Stars!]

    Boys will be boys
    And girls will be girls
    It’s the next best thing
    To toys in the World.

    Says so our Lola
    Yeah, says so our Lola.

    Dum, dum, dum dum
    do do do da
    do do do ya?
    Ha ha!
    Ha ha, ha ha, ha, ha.

    The girls all swing their thang thing, yeah
    From side to side
    Cantankerous thing
    Makes the Bears go wild
    For their Lola.

    Yeah, yeah, for their Lol ahhhh
    Lo lo, lo lo, lol ahhh

    But don’t wanna say what’s inside of there
    It’s a Honey Jar
    Makes the Bears go wild
    For their lola

    Yeah, yeah, for their Lol ahhhh

    When you come up long
    And our Lola’s gone
    And all you got
    Is the Influenza bug
    And the Doc says take a shot
    At our Lola

    Yeah, yeah, at our Lol ahhhh

    When the Coke runs out
    And our Lolas gone
    Left because all the fun is gone
    And all you got is this craazy song

    And the Honey Jar
    Makes the Bears go wild
    Yeah, yeah, for their Lol ahhhh
    Lo lo, lo lo, lol ahhh

    Boys will be boys
    And girls will be girls
    It’s a mixed up World
    And we make our toys
    Give us Lola

    Yeah, yeah, for our Lol ahhhh
    Lo lo, lo lo, lol ahhh

    [repeat and fade out]

    Quite amazingly, ESPN voted this “Top News Song”, even after going off the air, permanently!

  22. financial matters Source: Forbes

    “”Tossed in the same boat by U.S. sanctions, this agreement to produce rolling stock for Iran’s new railways is the latest in a string of deals that show Tehran and Moscow’s growing partnership. Seemingly setting aside a longstanding sentiment of distrust and competition, which resulted from various military fracases throughout the Soviet period, Iran and Russia have recently been establishing economic and strategic partnerships on many fronts, including energy, infrastructure development, and military aid — along with being on the same side of the Syria crisis.'”

    “”In this era of mass-cross border trade and investment, the way that countries gain leverage and influence over each other is via increased economic activity and joint development projects. In this fray, the imposers of sanctions essentially take themselves right out of the game and leave everything on the table for their rivals to accumulate additional wealth and power. China knows this; Russia knows this””


    With the US busy with false flags and fake news, Russia, China and Iran form useful ties.

    1. sid_finster

      American aggression is driving countries together that are otherwise not natural allies, even countries that under normal circumstances would be natural rivals or enemies.

      Everybody sing Kum-By-Yah together.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        At this point, Russia, Iran, China, and even maybe Turkey don’t have the rivalries they once did. France and England use to go to war over the rights of King of England in France. Times change. China, India, and Pakistan still have issues.

        Libya was the end of the empire when Obama ripped up an agreement for Libya to disarm. Between the WMD lies and Libya which did not have any WMDs, the U.S. will never be trusted by anyone (puppet regimes are just puppets.) As long as the U.S. fleet is on the prowl, the U.S. is clearly a danger beyond who controls a random plot of land where a saint prayed to the wrong god.

        1. sid_finster

          IIRC, Russia and China share a long border, and Chinese migration into Russia has proven a problem in the past.

          In addition, all of Turkey, Iran, Russia China were rivals for influence in Central Asia, but their respective visions for what a Central Asia under their hegemony would look like are very different. That said, China buys a crapton of petroleum from Iran and Russia.

          Turkey acts like a frenemy of Russia and Iran in Syria, having gone from a “no quarrels with neighbors” policy to a policy of “quarrels with each of our neighbors”. China broadly supports Russian goals in Syria, but doesn’t want to commit too strongly. At the same time, Turkey has proven useful to Iran in Qatar.

          To further complicate matters, Turkey from time to time espouses the cause of the Tatars in Crimea, and sometimes it doesn’t. The funny thing is that Tatars have considerably more rights under Russian rule, and nobody cared about the Tatars when Ukraine was in charge.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To me, in this era of global reserve currency, this is like declaring Russia can’t earn Dollar money anymore.

      Their choice is to either say uncle (Sam), or resist the reiging global-fiat-money hegemon by working hard and hoping there is another alternative.

      1. financial matters

        It might be easier than it seems.

        Fiat money has to do with credibility which the US is steadily draining away.

        MMT likes to say that governments aren’t like a household which is of course true. But one similarity is that they can waste money or they can spend it productively.

        Russia and China seem to be spending money productively in Africa, South America, Iran, Syria etc while the US just seems to want to spoil these efforts in the interest of debt and finance.

        Things change.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef,

          To me, it depends on how a sovereignty set up.

          For example, if 1. a government is set up in such a way that money is spent into existence by the people, exclusively, and not by the government (not an easy task – spending money into existence), and 2. the central bank can only buy government bonds issued to fund tax refunds (the operational way to get new money into the economy under this setup) to the taxpayers, then, the government is run like a household.

  23. jfleni

    RE: Keystone XL Pipeline in Limbo:

    We cannot forget those who faced billy-clubs, freezing hoses, and much worse for trying to protect their water; the grease monkeys are going to lose and the native and other people of the midwest look like true winners!

  24. Vatch

    The Senate committee vote on the nomination of torture advocate Steven Bradbury to be the general counsel of the Transportation Department is imminent. It might be today, but I saw another source that implied it would be tomorrow. Either way, it’ll be soon.

    If you haven’t already asked your Senators to vote against this nomination, please do so, especially if one of your Senators is on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Membership:

    Contact information:

    Information about this committee’s nominations:

  25. Whine Country

    Not in links yet but Trump signed the Russia sanctions bill. Help me out here folks – Trump: It’s a witch hunt but I’ll sign the sanctions bill anyway? OK, they had enough votes for a veto. Veto it and let them override it. But just sign it? WTF? This is just too crazy for me, Can a whole country go insane?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Trump has just coiled and knotted his own noose, and handed it back to the [CIA] guy in the black hood.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump may not be an Eigen vector, or Eigenvector.

      Here is one definition, from goolging:

      a vector that when operated on by a given operator gives a scalar multiple of itself

      Typically, from what I can remember:

      (Eigenvalue) (Eigenvector) = (Matrix) (Eigenvector).

      When you lung yourself into a Matrix, if you’re an Eigenvector, you come out on the other side still yourself, or a multiple of yourself.

      Trump has thrown himself into the Russia Matrix, if he was an Eigen, he would still oppose to the sanctions.

      But it seems he’s not Eigen. The Matrix has gotten to him.

      1. Lambert Strether

        My metaphor was a catalyst, but it amounts to the same thing.

        A catalyst that is changed by the reactions it enables is no catalyst.

        Hence, we may expect the speed of the reaction to slow down.

    3. Mel

      One line of thinking is that if he doesn’t accept the sanctions against Russia, then he must totally be Putin’s stooge. Paul Craig Roberts suggests he should veto, then put his case before the people who voted in the general election for no war, or take it to the Europeans who don’t want their businesses destroyed. Or insist that congress can’t legislate away the separation of powers. Each of these sounds good to me.

      1. Montanamaven

        Yes, he should have made a speech in which he explains how this bill is unconstitutional. That it makes congress in charge of foreign policy. And how stupid it is for business. This cried out for an Oval Office address before a veto.
        We are not governed by smart people.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Although I disagree with congress on this one it’s good to see it assert itself. In general I much prefer a larger number of people weigh in on matters which could easily lead to war(s). If it is unconstitutional, we need to know and I think somehow consider changes. Leaving these powers to just one person/executive has not worked well.

          That said, it would also be good to see where the supremes land on this one.

          1. Whine Country

            I wasn’t aware that the President can require sanctions against another country without authorizing legislation. The issue at hand is, unlike previous sanctions, instead of the President declaring them under existing laws and regulations, Congress has now for the first time enacted specific sanctions against specific nations and specifically codified a provision that only they can amend or eliminate them. That I believe is the constitutional issue being discussed.

      1. olga

        Germany did in the 1930s. Persistent and effective propaganda – when all opposition is marginalized and/or silenced completely – helps to achieve wholesale insanity. Groupthink is just a nice word for it

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or its a country of greedy thugs?

        The expectation is Brussels won’t stand up to the U.S. and will accept the Natural Gas tax we call “sanctions.”

        Interestingly enough, its not terribly different than the crisis of the British West India Company. The Parliament passed a series of law including the famed “Stamp Act” requiring all imported products not sold by the British West India Company to have a little stamp, the cost of which was eaten by traders or passed onto consumers. Much like the Parliamentarians who had a vested interest in the The Company, one wonders how many Congressmen have stock in LNG companies. After all, VP Joe Biden seemed very intent on opening up Ukraine for fracking by a company where his son enjoyed a cushy job.

        Of course, the trouble in the 1770’s was just about tea, so I doubt anything came of it.

        1. sid_finster

          Hello! These are *Europeans* – you know, the most thoroughly neutered populace on the planet.

      3. sid_finster

        [familyblog] I remember when Ukraine was populated by more or less sane people.

        Many of those same people I used to remember fondly have gone full-on stark raving nuts, and they did so more or less overnight.

        1. olga

          Well, not exactly overnight. Remember Nuland’s remarks that US spent $5 billion in the Ukr. in the last 20 yrs to manage PR. And according to my Ukr. friends, anyone below 40 has been thoroughly brainwashed; the older folk still remember a bit of sunlight… Yes, again, effective propaganda.

  26. Jim Haygood

    Say it ain’t so, Antonio:

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) 9:10 a.m. The CEO of the voting technology company Smartmatic says the results of Venezuela’s election for an assembly to rewrite the constitution were tampered with.

    Antonio Mugica told reporters in London on Wednesday that there was a discrepancy of 1 million votes between the turnout figures announced by the government and those recorded by his systems.

    Mugica said “it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout figures on Sunday, 30 July, for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with.”

    Smartmatic was a company created by Venezuelans that provided electronic voting machines used during the administration of the late President Hugo Chavez.

    Ha ha … yeah, I really trust a gov-owned version of Diebold.

    The Peoples’ voting machines don’t lie! /sarc

    1. Eureka Springs

      Who knows? However a CEO who hawked a voting machine as possibly secure to begin with is like an arms dealer saying – I didn’t think anyone would get hurt.

      Why trust that CEO, in London, now?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Dolortoday [that’s a bilingual pun] posted its usual midday update on Venezuela’s ‘informal’ exchange rate. Today it collapsed to 13,781 bolivars per dollar.

        That’s a loss of one-third of its value in the past week. And compared to the 24 bolivars per dollar rate when Madouche-o assumed power in April 2013, the currency has lost 99.83% of its value.

        Heck of a job, Nick!

  27. Kim Kaufman

    Re Seymour Hershey phone call: agree it should be listened to with some salt but it’s super fun listening. Ends abruptly… for some reason.

    1. g

      There is technology available so that if one has a recording of your voice, they can get you to falsely say anything they want on a recording. We have all seen computer generated images in the movies and then there’s photoshop.. So many studies saying eye witness testimony is often wrong. False confessions easily generated by torture and even just police pressure. Getting harder and harder to discern truth from knowing disinfo, fake news, and honest mistakes.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China Has Had Enough of Trump’s ‘Emotional Venting’ New York Magazine (resilc)

    Having had enough is not really a calm, cool emotional state.

    A Weiqi (or even Liubo) grand master can never afford that luxury.

  29. JEHR

    I found this article which explains why NAFTA is not so good for Canada:

    “As a result of NAFTA’s ISDS challenges, Canada is now the most sued developed country in the world. Canada has been sued more times than either the U.S. or Mexico. Of the 77 known NAFTA investor-state claims, 35 have been against Canada, 22 have targeted Mexico and 20 have targeted the US. The US government has won 11 of its cases and never lost a NAFTA investor-state case or paid any compensation to Canadian or Mexican companies.”
    . . . . . .

    “Canada has paid American corporations more than $200 million (approximately €135 million) in the seven cases it has lost and foreign investors are now seeking over $6 billion (approximately
    €4 billion) from the Canadian government in new cases. Even defending cases that may not be successful is expensive. Canada has spent over $65 million (approximately €45 million) defending itself from NAFTA challenges to date.”

    It is easy to see how lopsided the results are: The bigger the country, the better the results of litigation. Most of the challenges are against regulations that protect the local population and some go against Canadian laws (e.g., against toxic substances ,environmental damage, etc) . So sad!

    1. Sputnik Sweetheart

      Another huge effect is Canada embracing the same laxity of food standards as the United States, as well as the removal of tariffs on HFCS, etc. This lead to an increase in poor nutrition, and childhood obesity jumped from 2% to 11-13% from 1989 to 2004 (source:

      This is pretty anecdotal, but I was in Newfoundland for two weeks over the summer and was quite shocked about the unavailability of good food in their supermarkets. Butter was extremely rare, so we had to use margarine, things were quite often imported from the US, and the blueberry pies had blue food coloring in them. The vegetables were a bit wilted and tasteless, and we had to add salt and sugar and fat to make them palatable in any way. If you combine that with needing to drive everywhere, there was no surprise that the region has one of the highest obesity rates in Canada.

      I can’t help but think that if NAFTA had different terms or had not been negotiated, the Standard American Diet would not have spread so easily to Canada and Mexico, and people wouldn’t be getting sick like this.

  30. dcblogger

    I would stay away from the Seth Rich story until somebody comes up with something solid.

    As far as the DNC leaks go, those leaks were timed in such a way to give maximum benefit to Trump and minimum benefit to Sanders. So it is unlikely that Rich was the source and at least possible that the Republicans had a mole inside the DNC.

    1. Lambert Strether

      100% agreed on all counts.

      Again, if there is a story where Hersh was digging, Hersh will break it, not InfoWars or whichever barking mad Facebook artist is pushing the story today.

  31. JohnQTaxpayer

    Regarding health insurance payments

    “Dear IRS,

    I can afford to pay my tax obligations this year, or, I can pay my forced health insurance premiums.
    Unfortunately as an independent contractor, I cannot afford to pay both.”

    “Which should I pay, the U.S. Treasury,
    or our mandated private for profit health insurance corporation?”

    “Awaiting your instructions to write the checks.”


    John Q. Taxpayer

  32. Tooearly

    “We have $3 Trillion in our health care pot right now. We have 325 million Americans, men women and children of all ages. First grade arithmetic says we have almost $10,000 per year to spend on each American, the vast majority of whom is either young or healthy or both. For comparison, Medicare spends on average around $12,000 per year for the oldest and sickest population. Last year a platinum plan for a 21 year old cost less than $5,000 per year and this includes the built in waste of private health insurance. So please, tell me again how we can’t afford to pay for everybody’s health care needs at a Medicare actuarial level, which is slightly less than commercial platinum.”
    From Single payer is American way article.

  33. Brandon

    Re: Colony collapse reversal

    My friends that study ecological issues more seriously than I do are telling me that this story has some big holes.

    Wild pollinators are still in decline, and it is a mistake to conflate wild bees with commercial ones. In addition, insect density is down across the US and Europe.

    Any other knowledgeable readers care to comment?

    1. Edward E

      My friends and neighbors noticed that the density of biting insects has gone down all around my homestead, because soon after they bite me they get irritable bowel syndrome. I’m not even there that much, sorry, couldn’t resist

    2. Mike Mc

      Anecdotal but 45 years in Nebraska shows a general decline in insect life. Local gardeners old as or older than me discuss this a great deal, along with earlier and warmer springs, later and warmer winters.

      The fog of insect life around the mercury vapor lamps of ag country in the 1970s of my teens and twenties has diminished greatly as well. Spent a lot of summers as a kid in 1960s on family farms of various cousins and they teemed with life. Just visited a farm in heart of Corn Belt Illinois last month… remarkably bug free.

      Maybe 60 or 70 years of ag chemicals not so great for our buggy friends? Story about men’s sperm counts dropping might fit in here too.

      1. Edward E

        Seriously though, my place is a few miles from Glory Hole Falls in the Ozarks at 2200+ ft elevation. We have noticed little of anything different in insect density over the years and a local beekeeper told me his hives haven’t had any problems, though it’s been a few years since I’ve seen him. Some years we will have swarms of dragonflies, Asia ladybeetles or grasshoppers. Agricultural chemical use is almost non-existent anywhere nearby. There is an amazing number of different insect species in this area.

        Fortunately, there are few horseflies and mosquitoes at that elevation. That changes somewhat in the valleys.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > The fog of insect life around the mercury vapor lamps of ag country in the 1970s of my teens and twenties has diminished greatly as well

        I remember this vividly, and now that you recall it to my mind, the house has had the same porchlight on at night for fifty years. When I was in high school, insects were thick; miller moths and such. Not so now.


  34. SerenityNow

    Australia’s vanishing back yards a health risk

    The result is little useful recreational outdoor space. Far from being child-friendly, these family homes without backyards are restricting our children from enjoying a normal active life in the safety of their homes.

    I wonder what the real “safety” issue is? And I guess that issue is dangerous enough that the possibility of regularly-spaced, public green space is not even mentioned?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Harris won’t have Hillary’s celebrity. She isn’t the Queen, and what you will see is people who blindly trusted Hillary, much like many Obama supporters, don’t care about who their friends like. The large crowds Hillary could draw by virtue of her status won’t materialize in the early states which means interaction with the voters, and the other side is the media. Yes, its terrible, but without the assumption of Hillary’s coronation, the media will be more combative towards Democratic challengers. Never mind the mean Bernie Bros on Twitter, Harris will actually have a skeptical media.

      Over the last eight years, the Democrats don’t have much of a legislative record. There are 16 Democratic governors, and two are Andy Cuomo and Terry MacAuliffe. Yeesh! None of these Democrats went on Good Morning America in 1992 and announced the co-Presidency which was mildly cool for the time.

      The rotten nature of the Democratic Party is at play too. The Clintonistas aren’t the best and brightest. After all, they did lose to Obama and Donald Trump, but many of the Clintonistas are creatures of the Clintons. They were elevated for blind loyalty (I would assume as they seem to have no other skills).

      What does Harris have? Ooh, she was a state AG? Who cares? Its a resume job. Did she crack down on banks? No. Then its a problem. She marks diversity and gender. Thats something…its at least better than Tim Kaine. She can read off a teleprompter without freezing and can probably make MSDNC anchors laugh at stupid jokes.

      The only way to get her through is to pre-emptively label her critics as crazy, racist, misogynists. The Bernie Bro narrative largely existed to keep people who were voting for Hillary because of the perception she was a secret liberal or was a good candidate from listening to people who pointed out those descriptions of Hillary are largely faith based or from even listening to the notion other options even existed.

  35. Livius Drusus

    Re: Internet of Things, what is the likelihood of a niche market developing for Luddites? I have read that more people are buying old-school devices like Polaroid cameras and vinyl records. Granted that currently most people are buying these products for nostalgic reasons or because they like analog stuff for the “feel” of it, but I could see more people opting for old tech due to security concerns in the future.

    Regarding your suggestion of stocking up on non-IoT devices, that is a good idea. I am upset that we didn’t keep more of the old appliances that my grandparents and parents used to own. It seems like appliances were made to last before maybe the 1990s or so. That is when things started to become more breakable it seems. I recall my mother using appliances from the 1970s that were built like they could withstand a nuclear war. You don’t find that sort of stuff today, even with more expensive brands.

    1. Mark P.

      You can buy all the old devices you like. What’s going to happen in your home is that county and state construction codes will increasingly stipulate that wiring, electrical and HVAC systems have chips embedded at potential failure points ‘for safety purposes.’

      Those chips will network with each other and — somewhere in your house — some will connect to the Internet as a whole. That’s just how it’s going to be.

  36. ewmayer

    “Amazon Echo can be turned into a spying device, security researchers reveal | AndroidGuys. Chuck L” — Re. physical access: Our dear state-level hackers are known to use the US mails – and quite possibly the major private carriers – to interdict tech-gear shipments in order to do implants. And if they’ve found – or bribed the manufacturer to create – a remote-access vulnerability, the public will be the last to know.

  37. Kim Kaufman

    I didn’t read everything this morning so I’m finishing now and saw this:

    New book on CIA master-plotter Dulles, Sneak peek: Part 2 WhoWhatWhy (Sid S)

    is actually already published:
    The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government
    Sep 6, 2016
    by David Talbot

    For some reason, Russ Baker was reprinting this article, I guess to remind us. It’s an excellent book, I highly recommend it.

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