Links 10/2/17

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Canada MPs to loosen penalties for drunks in kayaks BBC. The True North strong and free…

Where is the world’s largest hoard of looted antiquities? Syria? Iraq? Nope, London. Association for Research into Crimes Against Art

Lax regulation has turned Britain into a rentier’s paradise FT

MPs to review baby nuclear reactor plans as cheaper source of secure energy City AM (Richard Smith). Slogan: “Glowing Britain.”

Energy Secretary proposes rule to make grid managers favor coal, nuclear Ars Technica (CL).

SCE&G, Santee Cooper stuck with $244 million of unpaid bills left over from failed nuclear project Post and Courier

The Massive Hedge Fund Betting on AI Bloomberg

Bitter divisions over Uber board spill into public FT

Map of all known space debris [3543×2308] Reddit (CL). ごみ

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico, acute shortages plunge the masses into survival struggle Reuters. Remarkable to see “the masses” in a mainstream headline; I’m surprised Google’s algo didn’t supress it. Or not.

After first tour of Puerto Rico, top general calls damage ‘the worst he’s ever seen’ PBS

“So mad I could spit”: a former disaster relief official on Trump’s response to Puerto Rico Vox

In one Puerto Rican nursing home, a struggle to get power and keep patients alive Los Angeles Times

The Cruelest Storm: A Statement for Puerto Rico Latino Rebels

Commentary: How we could have prevented some of Puerto Rico’s misery Reuters

Puerto Ricans wrestle with question of whether to leave FT

Who Is Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Puerto Rican Mayor Criticized by Trump? NYT

Trump’s Disgraceful Puerto Rico Attack The American Conservative (Re Silc).

Where Are the Drones That Could Be Saving Puerto Rico? WIRED

Hurricane Alley

EPA: Hurricane Harvey compromised cap on toxic waste site Texas Tribune

In the Keys, workers already struggled to find affordable housing. Then Irma hit. Miami Herald

In a Warming World, Keeping the Planes Running NYT


Cabinet is split over how Brexit should happen, Hammond admits Guardian

London prepares to say goodbye to EU agencies EU Oberver

Watch moment appalled ambassador stops Boris Johnson reciting colonial poem in Burma’s holiest site Independent. Kipling’s Mandalay. Fortunately, the Ambassador bottled up Johnson before he got to this line: “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud / Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd.” Holy moley.

What Went Wrong With France’s Deradicalization Program? The Atlantic


Catalan premier announces he will declare independence in coming days El Pais

Rajoy faces huge task after Catalonia independence referendum FT

Catalonia referendum: How did we get here? Politico

Violenza sul voto in Catalogna: oltre 800 feriti. Rajoy: “Il referendum una messa in scena” La Stampa (DG). With videos.

North Korea

Escalating tension has experts simulating a new Korean War, and the scenarios are sobering Los Angeles Times

Russia Provides New Internet Connection to North Korea 38 North. This is good, I think; the last think we want is NK cut off from everything.

Kim Jong-nam murder: Women plead not guilty in Malaysia trial BBC


China cuts banks’ reserve requirement

China’s Djibouti military base: ‘logistics facility’, or platform for geopolitical ambitions overseas? South China Morning Post

New Cold War

What Russian Meddling In Elections Might Have Looked Like Forbes. Different from what you might expect from the headline.

Facebook to Deliver 3,000 Russia-Linked Ads to Congress on Monday NYT

British courts may unlock secrets of how Trump campaign profiled US voters Guardian. Anything to avoid the idea that you’ve got to knock on doors and provide universal concrete material benefits!

The Equifax Hack Has the Hallmarks of State-Sponsored Pros Bloomberg (MR). As always, attribution is hard…

Why Swedish troops just finished their biggest war games in 23 years The Economist

Trump Transition

Scoop: Trump urges staff to portray him as “crazy guy” Axios. Interesting and if true, all the liberal Democrat handwringing is helping him.

Trump plans a pivot to deregulation, pushing roll back of Obama-era red-tape CNBC

4 ideas in the GOP tax plan that Democrats should support The Week

Silicon Valley all in on tax reform Politico

Health Care

Time’s up: As CHIP expires unrenewed, Congress blows a chance to save healthcare for 9 million children Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times

Failure To Approve Oklahoma Waiver Undermines Trust Between HHS And States Health Affairs. The language is Health Affairs is ordinarily much more measured….

Class Warfare

Wealth Inequality Is Higher Than Ever Jacobin

“I Wanted to Tell the Story of How I Had Become a Racist”: An Interview with Historian Charles B. Dew History News Network

The New Establishment Vanity Fair. Five Horsemen right up there?

Save your Saturdays: Why you shouldn’t get a side hustle to pay off debt HuffPo

The Plan to Erode the Rights of Workers to Act Collectively Portside

One in five reporters lives in NY, DC or LA Axios. How provincial.

This “Ghost Gun” Machine Now Makes Untraceable Metal Handguns WIRED

The science of being nice World Economic Forum

The surprising benefits of anxiety Quartz

Mainstream macroeconomics credibility went out the window years ago Bill Mitchell

Antidote du jour:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. MtnLife

      Automatic weapons fire, either belt or drum fed. I was counting over 50 rounds between reloads. Either he has gone through more background checks than your average cop or he adapted it himself, indicating some technical proficiency (varies depending on weapon) and possibly professional training. Saw clips in the McClatchy montage that seemed to indicate he gained access dressed as a maintenance worker carrying a hard plastic case.

        1. MtnLife

          Those newer ones look nice. Haven’t gotten to play with them since the early versions which definitely took some practice to be competent.

          1. Arizona Slim

            That’s the thing about shooting. In order to be accurate, you have to practice, practice, practice. Even then, it takes years to become a good shooter.

            I know this from personal experience. My father taught me how to shoot while I was in grade school. He could still out-shoot me when he was in his seventies and early eighties. Reason: He had a lot of practice on the range.

          2. Plenue

            It doesn’t at all strike you as in poor taste to be talking about how ‘nice’ some gun hardware is, or how you haven’t gotten to ‘play’ with it, in a comment thread about a recent mass shooting?

      1. Massinissa

        Clearly, now that criminals have these guns, we need to make them legal and easy to attain so that good people with automatic weapons can stop the bad people with automatic weapons. /s

        1. Roger Smith

          Along this sarcastic but doomed to be repeated seriously line, I am not sure that anyone on the ground in that situation could have legitimately done anything. The shooter’s location had far to great an advantage, plus his fire power and, from what I’ve read, the relatively short duration of firing. Even if you had a long range military grade rifle I am not sure there are any night vision, heat seeking goggles that could have filtered out all of the bright building light pollution for you to see anything anyways, if you even knew to look at the building in the first place.

          Just like in the theater scenario this argument is always pulled out for, you’d have a bunch more people shooting around in the dark, adding to the confusion.

        2. voteforno6

          That’s not far off from their business model. Gun manufacturers need bad people with guns to scare good people into buying guns.

        3. Pookah Harvey

          As I showed above these weapons are already legal, easily attainable, and cheap. The amazing thing is the Republicans (who are constantly using the terrorist scare technique) do nothing to contain this threat. If this was a determined terrorist attack they could easily obtain automatic weapons, disperse themselves to get crossfire on a large crowd and the death toll would be in the hundreds. These are weapons designed for mass slaughter. The fact that many Americans think that they are toys is disturbing. The lack of imagination from the Republicans for a worse case scenario in the use of these weapons shows their total incompetency.

      2. Oregoncharles

        He was staying in the room, had been since Thurs. Brooding, maybe. Gave him plenty of time to move his arsenal up there.

      3. Ned

        Re MtnLife’s 8:42 comment above.

        The guy is not ex-military, not a sportsman, his brother didn’t even know he owned guns. Yet he sets up a perfectly coordinated military style machine gun nest, and a second in a different hotel room down the hall, also with a hole in the window, then flawlessly shoots off thousands of rounds with a gun that doesn’t overheat or jam, then kills himself before he can be captured.
        Yup, devious miracles happen sometime.

        1. Wukchumni

          Would it be easier to pull off if the shooter had an array of 10 guns at the ready, as the mass murderer did?

        2. Yves Smith

          I have no ideas about the machine gun he used, but:

          1. As a reader above pointed out, it doesn’t take any skill to hit people in a crowd if you keep shooting

          2. AK-47s were famous for not jamming and shooting under all sorts of conditions. You set up the idea that military-grade equipment should be expected to jam. That’s spurious.

          My conclusion is the reverse of yours: if this guy did adequate shopping (bought a machine gun that was reliable) and tested it (as in made sure he knew how to load it, had a stand so he didn’t have to deal with recoil), his spree took no skill save the shopping and the getting all his hardware into the room without being noticed. Large suitcases would do.

          1. Wukchumni

            1. As a reader above pointed out, it doesn’t take any skill to hit people in a crowd if you keep shooting

            He was aiming at 22,000 people, and hit almost 600, a little over 3% of the total attendance.

    2. Wukchumni

      If nobody gets hit despite at least 8 shots being fired @ the main visitor center in one of our National Parks, did it really happen?

      I feel confident none of you have ever heard of this incident…

      Man Shooting Weapon Taken into Custody in Sequoia National Park

      On November 25, 2010, at approximately 2:00 p.m., park staff encountered a man speeding into the park though the exit side of the Ash Mountain entrance station in Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, CA. Law enforcement rangers responded and found the man near the Ash Mountain Visitor Center where other park staff had encountered him a few minutes earlier. When the law enforcement ranger arrived, the suspect threw the pistol to the ground. Additional rangers arrived on scene within moments, and the suspect was taken into custody without further incident. After further investigation, it was found that the suspect had discharged at least eight rounds in the vicinity of the Visitor Center area while shouting about the end of the world and Armageddon. The suspect, a 42-year-old male from the Sacramento, California, area, was transported to a local hospital and held for psychiatric evaluation. In addition, rangers found drug paraphernalia and approximately 10 pounds of packaged and processed marijuana (valued at approximately $35,000) in the suspect’s vehicle.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        ISIS wants to be the sole legitimate force for political Islam and to be seen as a player. They will claim credit for anything including every instance of “irony” in that Alanis Morrisette song, being responsible for ruining the understanding of irony, and being the person who ought to have known if they thought it would play well.

        Al Qaeda 2.0 is the goal.

      2. pictboy3

        My French is barely above incoherent, so I have to ask what the sourcing is for the conversion claim? Is it just IS that’s claiming he converted or is it coming from somewhere else?

    3. Vatch

      I wonder whether he had a brain tumor, like the 1966 Texas tower sniper. I hope a thorough autopsy is performed on the shooter’s body.

      1. Wukchumni

        One thing I always dread with these episodes, is i’m forced to remember yet another mass murderer’s name, but never his victims.

        That’s how we do it in these United States…

      2. Montanamaven

        Or, because of today’s anti-dote, was he snake bit? A friend told me that being bitten by a rattler can change your personality.

      3. Oregoncharles

        I wondered the same thing. The parallels are shockingly close. This guy had automatic weapons, though.

    4. Tertium Squid

      Yeah, but you must be thinking what about the gaming equities! The Reuters article on the topic doesn’t leave us hanging:

      Shares of U.S. casino operators fell in morning trading on Wall Street, with MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, down 3.5 percent. Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd, Wynn Resorts Ltd and Las Vegas Sands Corp were little changed.

      I used to think “first as tragedy THEN as farce” but today we do both at the same time.

      1. a different chris

        I wonder how Man Group’s “AI” algorithm weighted this little bit of slaughter.

        OK, no I don’t but somebody probably cares. In a way that totally destroys the base meaning of the word “caring”….

    5. barrisj

      As this is America, the only real consequence of the Vegas shooting is that a new “benchmark” has been established for dead and injured racked up in a single shooter event. No doubt there are those nursing “grievances” who already are looking at Craddock’s total and wondering if their respective “anger” can stimulate an attack with an even higher body-count. For as the sun comes up each morning, there will be another massacre of equal or greater magnitude in the months/years ahead. As Chas. Pierce said this morning, this is the “blood sacrifice” necessary to preserve 2nd Amendment “freedoms”, and ain’t nuthin’ going to change that calculus.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Constitutional amendments…

        No immediate remedies when it comes to changing them…supreme court realignment or adding another amendment, perhaps.

        Changing that calculus – secession by gun control states?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Constitutional amendments…

        No immediate remedies when it comes to changing them…supreme court realignment or adding another amendment, perhaps.

        Changing that calculus – secession by gun control states?

      3. jrs

        the guy was a multimillionaire, the 1% are now killing us DIRECTLY I guess, in hails of bullets, instead of by the usual means of killing us via privation, despair, stress, pollution etc..

    6. Chris

      Just terrible news and a symptom of the diseased society we are living in.

      As usual, the innocent suffer the consequences

  1. Redlife2017

    In BBC Live reporting they point out the following:

    What are the state’s gun laws?

    The state of Nevada has some of the most permissive gun laws in the US. It is legal to carry an assault rifle and there is no magazine capacity limit.

    There are no purchase permits and blue cards are no longer required.

    There is no waiting period mandated for firearm purchases and private gun sales are OK.

    1. Tom Stone

      California has tough gun laws that are seldom enforced against career criminals. IIRC the the 19 year old felon who murdered a 72 year old photographer on twin peaks earlier this year had been picked up with a loaded gun in SF a few months earlier ( Felon in possession, 10 year penalty).
      He was sent back to San Mateo County to finish a 1 year sentence ( Accused of 30 felonies, pled to one, sentenced to a year in County jail, out in 6 months, then caught with a gun), served 3 months and out.
      A few months later he killed an old man for his camera.
      Australia’s 1997 law classifying semi auto and slide action rifles and shotguns as machine guns is an interesting case.
      Citizens were required to surrender these weapons within a specified time and the best estimate of compliance is 30%.
      Seven out of ten otherwise law abiding citizens preferred to become felons rather than surrendering their weapons.
      The preferred weapon of violent criminals in Australia is now a 9 MM blowback submachine gun…one of the simplest firearms to make.
      You CAN NOT keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but you can make the punishment for their use in a crime a very serious deterrent.
      Google “Improv Guns” or “DIY firearms” for examples of just how clever humans can be, my favorites are the revolving 12 gauge shotguns made in China using staplers.
      Need I mention that the largest single supplier of guns to the Mexican Cartels was the US DOJ?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Someone I know had a good idea about penalties for firearms and crime. He said that if there was a gun involved in a crime, then that should be an automatic 10-year prison sentence to be served in full. No parole for it, no serving it concurrently with any other sentences, you serve the full 10 years
        In practice, that would mean, say, a bank robber would go to trial and the judge would say; “Right, that is 10 years in prison for using a gun in your crime. Now that that is settled, let’s talk about the bank robbery charge!” Remember too that there was historically little gun violence in the UK as far as I know against the unarmed “bobbies” because if you did, they came down on you like a ton of bricks. The criminals knew the deal.

        1. Wukchumni

          My wife and I were walking the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, just south of the South Island, in New Zealand.

          NZ was essentially a bird world country for around 20 million years, with just a couple of mammals in the way of bats. The introduction of rabbits, stoats and possums (aussie type) in the 19th century laid waste to a heck of a lot of birds, but there’s still plenty, and they’re really tame.

          The assorted imported 4 legged bad types didn’t make it Stewart Island, so the birds are way more numerous and vocal as you walk from hut to hut for 4 days through rainforest so thick at times that if you strayed 20 feet from the trail, you’d be hopelessly lost in it’s labyrinth of life.

          Anyway, so we run into a group of hunters along the shore at one point, and they’ve all got long guns, as you’d have to be on the NZ Olympic shooting team pretty much to be able to own a pistol.

          They told us they were going duck hunting, and could have easily been in South Carolina as far as their looks went. On the 2 larger islands the prized kill is what is known as a Captain Cooker, as there were no pigs on either island until Cook played Adam & Eve when his crew left several breeding pairs on one of his voyages.

          Later that trip we were in Wanaka, a beautiful spot along Lake Wanaka, and went into a sporting goods store, where there were well on 50 long guns on display, in wooden pillory-like racks that allowed you to touch the workings, but not much else.

          I asked the proprietor what it would take for me to buy a rifle or shotgun if I was a New Zealander?, while speaking Americanese.

          He told me that i’d need references of character from family friends and work and a background check with law enforcement, and i’d need to take a training course on my own dime, so as to be capable of using my gun, the firearms license for which would take a few months to arrive-assuming everything checked out, allowing me to pick up my arsenal then.

          And I thought to myself, how civilized.

          There’s estimated to be 1.1 million guns in NZ for a country of a bit less than 5 million people, so it isn’t as if there aren’t plenty of weapons about, but no gun violence to speak of and almost all are long guns.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          A number of states have similar laws. There is a certain difference between a mobster and a desperate person robbing a Kwik-E-Mart. Then of course, there are already restrictions on ownership of guns by felons.

          I believe the problem is still the supply of weapons and the resulting familiarity of weapons for people who shouldn’t have them. The targets should be the gun manufacturers themselves. Threaten them with the loss of military contracts or the revoking of their corporate charters as they are the gun runners at the end of the day. It certainly won’t fix the gun problem in the wild, but the violence at least in North America isn’t being committed with Soviet era weapons. Lawsuits against the manufacturers make no sense and will be tossed immediately. There is leverage there.

          1. a different chris

            >Threaten them with the loss of military contracts or the revoking of their corporate charters

            And who is going to do that? Republicans own the country, and the Democrats think the way to get back in power is to act more like Republicans.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            The manufacturers own all the Republicans and at least half the Democrats in Congress. They have no realistic fears regarding bans, loss of business, or sanctions.

            A stateside mass shooting is a double plus benefit for them. After an event like this one, they make bank, as hordes of frantic, angry, frightened boomers run out to Walmart to buy ammo and tools they “know” will be banned first thing tomorrow. Sanctified, pro-ownership opinionmakers are typing furiously right now, and will soon swarm their media outlets, with broadsides about libruls using this ‘evil’ event to take their guns away. All key parties: the manufacturers, dealers, and propagandists, make out just great in the weeks and months after mass shootings.

            They are prestige-building and money-making events for key players in the U. S. gun “debate”.

              1. Edward E

                Smith and Wesson up 3% also. You know our company has a couple dozen dedicated local trucks in the Chicago area, maybe more. A manager at a terminal up there told me all but two have bullets holes in them, some bullets still lodged in the trucks.

            1. JBird4049

              Regardless of whether you are pro or anti gun, the political use of them is a big problem. The pro side has the leadership is all but saying that when you turn five you should get your first Uzi, and that any gun control is the first step to complete confiscation, and there should be no restrictions at all. The anti side thinks anyone supporting gun use, even a .22 bolt action squirrel gun, is a monster who wants to kill children, and that all guns should be banned and the owners arrested. Meanwhile the donations, and votes, pour in to the various lobbying groups, PACs and politicos, and all the manufacturers make big bucks.

              Meanwhile the suicide deaths by guns, and the mass fear, anger, and despair in various partially caused by the messed up policing and gangs that also results in more gun deaths than all the high profile, and politically useful, mass shootings keep on happening and being ignored.

              However, we know how to drop those suicide and murders. It just requires some time, money, some thought, and a little effort. Much of it could be done less than a year. But it’s not sexy, and it really only helps the poor whites, and blacks, and does nothing really for the middle, or upper classes, or for gaining political influence, or profit.

              So guess what happens.

              Of course getting rid of guns is almost impossible, and prison sentences don’t do anything, but…

        3. ArcadiaMommy

          My concern is that a person contemplating mass murder doesn’t have any concern/comprehension of mandatory sentencing of any length. Automatic weapons don’t belong in the hands of civilians. Maybe not even in the hands of the military.

    1. oh

      Thanks. In the last 60 years or so we’ve junked up space, made a floating plastic island in the Pacific, ut down too many forests, destroyed wetlands,polluted soil, water bodies and groundwater (wish there was an exhibit to to show that clearly)…..more to accomplish! NOT!

  2. ambrit

    Re. antidote; so today is snake in the grass day, is it?
    I’m not sure what the serpent in that garden is, but it sure looks like a viper to me. Where are Charmian and Iras when you need them?

    1. Lee

      Google search result for the image: “Best guess for this image: flower”

      Anyone out in the fields and forests relying for their information on the big G would not last long .

    2. gsinbe

      It’s trying to look like a viper, but is, in fact, a harmless Hog-Nose Snake. The inflated head is a give away – trying to look intimidating. Interesting snake. If the look doesn’t fool you and you touch it, or pick it up, it feigns death and rolls over on its back with its tongue hanging out. Not very convincing, though, when you roll it on its belly and it immediately rolls back on its back.

      1. JBird4049

        Touch it? I was a bit of a fool when younger, but there would have no way I would have gone near even a Rattler let alone any other possibly poisonous snake!

  3. ArkansasAngie

    So … in MHO … any tax that doesn’t actually claw back some of the last decade’s wealth transfer to the wealthiest is a non-starter.

    Let’s work on some trickle up economics.

    1. Invy

      Wealth redistribution and interest rates[].

      The basic dynamic of a multiplicative-wealth economy — capitalism — seems underappreciated to me. If we “do nothing” (\tau =0), inequality increases indefinitely. If we re-distribute fast enough (\tau>0), inequality will stabilize at some level. If we actively destabilize (\tau<0) as we seem to have done in recent decades, the middle class vanishes and we create a division between rich and poor — a poor person behaving reasonably is as unlikely to become middle class as a rich person behaving reasonably.

      we can make the model arbitrarily complex. One aspect we later singled out is the effect of earnings, by including observed earnings in equation (2). Usually earnings have a stabilizing effect (meaning the process that describes only wealth must be less stable when earnings are treated explicitly). In the last 10 years or so, that stabilizing effect has been absent because of earnings inequality. Consequently, the values we find for \tau with this version of the model are smaller (more negative) up until about 2000 and then unchanged, see figure 5 below.

      Wages and taxes need to rise so that borrowing can become too expensive through interest rate rise… thats how I read the article, but for wages to rise we need it to be organized or the state to force an increase either through min wage, UBI, or a job guarantee (preferred)…

  4. gonzomarx

    Comedian Frankie Boyle has released some free stuff. A live show and audio book.
    If you like your humour dark, twisted with thought behind it, I think you’ll like it.

    If you can find away to watch, this poetic drama is worth it.

    Men Who Sleep in Cars
    This drama by poet Michael Symmons Roberts follows three men in Manchester during one night in September. Written in verse, the film tells the poignant stories of Marley, Antonio and McCulloch….are men whose lives have turned upside down for very different reasons. They sleep on the streets of Manchester in their vehicles.

  5. Wukchumni

    Early in Obama’s 1st presidency, a law was passed allowing guns into the National Parks-even though you couldn’t use them, and here @ Sequoia NP, signs were dutifully erected just past the park entrance that say “Hunting is not allowed in the National Park”, with another line below it “Anybody discharging a weapon is subject to arrest”.

    It was a foot in for the NRA & cronies, the last place in the USA where guns didn’t hold sway and have more rights than humans. Sure, you couldn’t use your Sharps buffalo rifle in Yellowstone NP on it’s namesake, or your Saturday night special in Sequoia NP when a marauding squirrel threatened you & yours, but it opened the door.

    I was looking at the rates for gun crime in our National Parks, and it’s essentially zero, along with the number of people that have been injured or killed by the same while in the safe confines. A world apart from the rest of the country, an odd experiment in that unlike going to a sporting event, concert or getting onto a commercial airplane where they frisk and wand you to make sure you’re not carrying, nobody does that to you upon entry here.

    A few months ago Secretary of the Interior Zinke proposed that our National Parks be opened up to hunting, and his rationale was most curious in that he stated that there are 2.2 million less hunters in these United States than there were in 2011.

    Using that same reasoning, we should be opening up scads of new bowling alleys to meet a similar lack of demand there.


    “The new order comes days after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a survey that found there are 2.2 million fewer hunters in America now than in 2011. The order seeks to improve wildlife management and conservation, increase access to public lands for hunting, shooting, and fishing, and puts a new and a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining new sportsmen conservationists, with a focus on engaging youths, veterans, minorities, and other communities that traditionally have low participation in outdoor recreation activities.”

  6. John A

    Re The Economist red scare story about Sweden and Russia. Wow, just wow. Not only does the Economist state as fact that a Russian sub entered Swedish waters in 2014 but escaped without being caught – a very dubious claim, that could just as easily have been either a) much ado about nothing, or b) a NATO sub, and then goes on about Russian aircraft entering Swedish Airspace. The latter is true but on a vastly lower number of occasions than NATO aircraft over the same period!
    The true reason for the ‘Russian aggression scare’ in Sweden is that politicians want to get their financial rewards from the US (see Blair, Bildt, Stoltenberg, Rasmussen et al) by bringing the country into NATO despite the majority of voters being opposed. And for the US, they want to sell Nato arms to Sweden for big bucks and get their hands on the Swedish naval base on the Baltic pretty much directly opposite Kaliningrad.
    Mind you, the Economist is pretty much wrong about everything else anyway.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      The editor, Zanny Minton-Beddoes, was on the BBC TV’s Question Time last summer and proudly informed the audience that the Economist was independent. The chairman (David Dimbleby of the eponymous dynasty), fellow panellists and audience did not point out that the firm is owned by the Agnelli family. The family have become developers and landlords in central London by way of Almacantar, Centre Point and the former Marble Arch cinema. As you may expect, the Economist cheers on gentrification and foreign ownership.

    2. EricT

      Saw a documentary regarding soviet incursions into Swedish waters. Sweden has a network of listening devices scattered along their border with Russia to listen for submarine incursions and such. Turned out that a regular sound that they heard, had been misdiagnosed as soviet subs. Ocean biologists stepped in and concluded it wasn’t submarine traffic, but schools of fish.

      1. jan

        There is also: Ola Tulander’s book: The secret war against Sweden: US and British submarine deception and political control i the 1980s. Frank Cass, London ISBN 0203 49884 4.

  7. L

    With respect to Puerto Rico, this WaPo article presents a timeline of the administration’s non-response. The article takes care to note that noone thought the hurricaine would be this large and then turns to a narrative that the Administration faltered in its response.

    But as I have noted before disasters are about planning. In the runup to Irma and Harvey everyone was talking about preparations weeks in advance. In the case of Maria it seems like the most charitable description is that the Adminstration did little to nothing to prepare for it.

    In a competent government you should have laid out plans such that the disappearance of the president to tweet hate between tees would be a minor issue. That such plans apparently did not exist is far far worse than the blame calling.

    1. hreik

      OF course the administration doesn’t care about citizens in PR. I have a good friend who flew down there late last week. Her twin lives 40 miles from San Juan and the rest of her family is in the vicinity. She texted me when she got a signal on her way to see another sibling. The lines for gas are 7 – 11 hours long. Water line, 2+ hours. It’s a complete mess.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      But as I have noted before disasters are about planning. In the runup to Irma and Harvey everyone was talking about preparations weeks in advance.

      Planning vs. post-hurricane response (which depends on planning).

      From Wikipedia, Hurricane Maria:

      Originating from a tropical wave that the National Hurricane Center began monitoring on September 13, Maria developed into a tropical storm on September 16 east of the Lesser Antilles, with steady strengthening occurring. In remarkably favorable conditions for further development, on September 18, Maria underwent explosive intensification, doubling its sustained wind speed from 80 mph (130 km/h) to 160 mph (260 km/h),

      It hit Peurto Rico on September 20 (7 days after it was first monitored, and 4 days after developing into a tropical storm, and 2 days after undergoing explosive intensification).

      In contrast, Hurricane Irma skirted Puerto Rico on September 6, 2017, after (from Wikipedia, Hurricane Irma):

      Irma developed on August 30, 2017 near the Cape Verde Islands, from a tropical wave that had moved off the west African coast three days prior.[1][2][3] Under favorable conditions, Irma rapidly intensified shortly after formation, becoming a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale within a mere 24 hours.

      That’s about 1 week’s time between Category 2 hurricane to September 6 when it skirted PR.

      So, it would seem that Hurricane Maria came up a lot faster than Hurricane Irma.

      How much planning could have been done for Hurricane Maria:

      From Wikipedia, Hurricane Irma:

      By September 9, more than one million Puerto Ricans were still without power, tens of thousands were without water, and several thousand were still in shelters. Hospitals were operating on generator power. The government was struggling to establish contact with the islands of Culebra and Vieques.[55]

      And (Hurricane Maria, Wikipedia)

      Still recovering from Hurricane Irma two weeks prior, approximately 80,000 remained without power as Maria approached.

      (According Wikipedia, from a Bloomberg reported dated 9-20-2017)

      So, it seems, that while “(i)n the runup to Irma and Harvey everyone was talking about preparations weeks in advance,” people only had days to prepare for Maria, and many were without power already.

      1. L

        Fair point, Maria was much faster. But Irma had already done damage and seven days is still seven days, time enough to load and staff a hospital ship just in case it is needed. Time enough to stage supplies, time enough to ask how much petrol would be available.

        You are right that they did not have weeks of warning. But neither did they even appear to work within the time allotted. Some responses such as sending the hospital ship appear to have been considered well after the hurricaine struck and then it takes time to get the crew on board. Given the existing storms plus Jose which appeared likely to strike that they would have been preparing such assets in advance. It appears that they did not.

        Thus it makes a key contrast. On the one hand they were quite public about their planning efforts. On the other, even given the short timeframe, they do not appear to have done what they could.

    3. curlydan

      Many people might point to the language/ethinicity/skin color/colony aspects of the poor PR response…all of which I think are valid reasons why PR was ignored.

      There is a different aspectTrump/FEMA/et al forgot until recently. PR is an island, and there are no brigades of electric/utility trucks coming in from neighboring states that communities get when there are huge wind/ice/hurricane storms on the mainland. The ability to borrow this workforce and equipment from other states is a huge help. FEMA should have recognized this early as a weak point for PR. Instead, we get the traditional “who could have known?” response.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And, very naturally, if we focus on skin color, we ignore Puerto Rico’s colonial status. So, both liberals and conservatives can fight about race, while ignoring PROMESA, in which they are both complicit (i.e., it was “bipartisan,” bipartisanship being the source of all that is holy and good in the Beltway).

    4. jawbone

      Hit me today that Puerto Rico post-Maria is how we will all be treated if there is ever war on US territory. Or other widespread disruption of society and infrastructure.

      Bombs, missiles, with or without being nuclear, will destroy infrastructure, communications, etc. Maybe even Twitter (hint, hint).

      As this nation operates today, there seems to be little that we can do well in areas of true catastrophic destruction.

      Amazingly, the 3-star general assigned the Puerto Rico responsility seems unable to get real action in a decent timeframe. Or, should that be “Expectedly” for getting action?

      Is our military stretched that thin? Or just the concern for the non-wealthy?

  8. PlutoniumKun

    MPs to review baby nuclear reactor plans as cheaper source of secure energy City AM (Richard Smith). Slogan: “Glowing Britain.”

    Ever since I read about them in the sadly defunct Omni Magazine back in the 1980’s I’ve had a fascination with the potential of small modular reactors. Like so much nuclear technology, they’ve always been 10-15 years away, pretty much permanently. The exception of course are those modular reactors which have been used since the 1950’s for submarines and aircraft carriers, but which are now falling out of favour as diesel electrics become ever more efficient and cheaper. Now, when people talk about their potential, I ask them to answer the following questions:

    1. Who would be most interested in compact, modular reactors of around 50-500MW which could produce electricity at a price, say, of 2-3 times the equivalent of diesel.

    The answer, which I think is obvious, is any major military with regional or international ambitions – essentially the US, Russia, China, India, France, UK. The advantages of fleets of ships all with modular reactors, and the potential to provide instant power for military bases are clear to anyone with any interest in logistics.

    2. Who has the knowhow, money and resources to build them if they are technologically possible, even if not economically competitive with existing power sources?

    Again, I would suggest, the answer is obvious. The military research arms of the US, France, China, UK, India and Russia.

    3. Why have none of the major nuclear powers successfully developed any compact reactor substantively better than those built for early Cold War submarines 50 years ago?

    Now, maybe there is a good answer to this. But the only one I can think of is that they have tried, and have devoted billions to the problem, and have concluded that it can’t be done.

    My strong suspicion is that the above proposal, and the other ones in the pipeline, are bezzles, unless demonstrated otherwise. Well, bezzles or self licking ice-cream cones.*

    *and my thanks to NC for introducing me to both these terms.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      As for why haven’t they built one, I suggest the correct reply is cooling.

      Modular reactors work in ocean-going vessels because they can be cooled readily with water. Other locations (desert, plains, etc), not so much.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      As a person who has worked in that “business” for over 20 years, a couple of things:

      Nuclear submarines aren’t going away. It isn’t efficiency and cost that drives the use of nuclear subs – it is the fact that they are far more silent (i.e., stealthy) than diesel subs and they can stay down far longer than diesel subs. Diesel subs have to surface to expel gas – they can do it under water, but bubbles are noisy.
      Smaller countries may be going to more efficient diesel subs, but don’t count on the US, Russia, or China to give up nuclear submarines……

      Also, the reactor in a nuclear sub doesn’t produce that much energy – just enough to power the sub – but never enough to power a small city….and the reactor only last 10 years (they don’t “refuel” like they do at power plants), at which time the whole reactor section is cut out of the sub and buried. I’m sure people in Washington have seen the barges going up the Columbia to Hanford…..This is NOT cheap to do!

      All processes surrounding nuclear sub power plants is extremely secret and if someone inadvertently comes near reproducing that technology, you can bet they will be shut down. The designs for those small commercial nuclear reactors depends on a different technology – nothing like what is used for subs, and there are still a lot of technical issues to overcome like making it actually work consistently for a period of time (they are supposed to be “maintenance free”), and where do you put them to protect them from sabateuors? How long can they run before they need to be refueled or exchanged, and who does it? What do you do with the waste? Most designs I’ve seen depends on “abandoning” them in place after they are no longer useful to make them cost effective, but is that really realistic?

      1. Wukchumni

        I always thought that the Turtle of Trumbull’s would be nothing but trouble…

        Wow, thanks for the low down on what’s what.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The points you make about the problems of nuclear submarines is exactly the point in why the military would be interested in non-water cooled modular reactors. The Russians of course developed lead bismuth reactors for their Alfa submarines in the 1960’s – they worked (albeit not efficiently enough to make it worth following up), and lead cooled reactors are one of the technologies that companies advocating modular designs have talked about. Likewise with pebble bed reactors.

        My point is that yes, the US Navy (and presumably the Russians and Chinese, etc) have done an enormous amount of secret research, and no doubt billions has been spent on it. And yet they haven’t changed the basic design, which strongly indicates that the alternative designs don’t work. And incidentally, the point you make about stealth is not quite the full story – water cooled reactors have stealth issues, notably due to leaving an IR signature (i.e. a trail of warm water), and need noisy pumps with an open acoustic bridge to the environment – diesel electrics don’t need this. So this is another reason why the Navy would surely be interested in non-water cooled reactors.

        As for scale, the new reactors for the US Navy, the A4W, is rated at something like 500MW or above, which is the rough scale the UK project is looking at.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          “water cooled reactors have stealth issues, notably due to leaving an IR signature (i.e. a trail of warm water), and need noisy pumps with an open acoustic bridge to the environment – diesel electrics don’t need this.”


          1. justanotherprogressive

            I would remind you that at least in the US, the Navy doesn’t censor false info about their subs, they only censor true information…..

            1. PlutoniumKun

              The US is not the only country that makes nuclear and diesel electric subs, and not the only source of information.

              1. justanotherprogressive

                Well, I’m not going to go there anymore.

                Half the fun of living is coming up with or reading new ideas and new theories, and I mostly love what you do come up with!!

      3. marku52

        ” I’m sure people in Washington have seen the barges going up the Columbia to Hanford”

        Yup. saw this while sailing the Columbia. Barge with a big tarped up round thingy going upriver with gunboats alongside…

      1. Chris

        No Colonel, you keep reading and commenting. Work can always wait.

        Didn’t know of RR’s involvement in the UK’s submarines.

        Thanks for the links

    3. John Wright

      If the USA is an example, there may be some unintended consequences.

      The cleanup bill for all the US government nuclear weapons fabrication plants (such as Hanford, WA) is pegged at about 1 Trillion dollars.

      This is from the US Government, who has ultimate nuclear regulatory authority in the USA and a lot of resources to “do it right”.

      Hanford is estimated to take $108 Billion alone, assuming the cleanup technology actually works..

      See the 1993 book “Atomic Harvest: Hanford and the Lethal Toll of America’s Nuclear Arsenal”

      The book details the public relations efforts used around Hanford to convince the locals and workers that everything was fine.

      This is an example that the US government can create well-paid (weapon building and subsequent cleanup) jobs

      But it is hardly a good model for the rest of the world. .

    4. Oregoncharles

      A company based in my own town; their offices are in the same building where my son works:

      They are testing a design up in Idaho as we type.

      See my post down at the bottom about their political impact.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      My question is what we’re going to do to collect the waste from hundreds or thousands of baby nuclear plants scattered over the landscape.

      But the answer is obvious:

      Uber for Nukes™!

  9. JTMcPhee

    Re SCE$G, Santee Cooper failed nuke plant: WHO is going to pay the costs? how much of this dead loss gets dumped into what is so blandly called the “rate base,” which translates to “charging the loss to the customers of a regulatory-capture, monopoly utility”? The same scam that Progress Energy/Duke Power is working, thanks to corruption, on the “rate payers” of Florida, for two, count ‘me, TWO, really grand corporate-overreaching fails. The first was breaking a $2.5 billion containment vessel in a “managers can manage anything” plan to save a few million by self-managing the cutting of a 20 x 30 foot hole in the vessel. The second was planning to build two new nuclear operations, after getting the FL legislature to make it legal to “pre-charge” the costs of the planned construction to ratepayers/customers, with no obligation to pay any of it back in the event the project did not go forward (which is what’s happened, thanks to ‘events, my dear boy’). For all the nuke enthusiasts, who as a general rule don’t give a rip about who pays (maybe they will go all MMT on us now?), there’s a nice read by one of the few sensible voices (on certain issues) over at Daily Kos, that concludes with these paragraphs:

    In the end, it all played out much as industry experts had expected it would. Duke Energy announced that it would shut down and dismantle the Crystal River Unit 3 instead of repairing it. In a settlement deal with the PSC to end all the lawsuits, Duke agreed to refund over $380 million to consumers that it had already collected for the wrecked Crystal River plant, but consumers would still be on the hook for about $3.2 billion towards the Levy County nukes, plus future costs. Not long after this agreement, Duke cancelled the two new nuclear plants, citing the skyrocketing costs (which it now estimated at almost $25 billion). No, Duke doesn’t have to give back any of the money it has already collected from its customers for the now-cancelled nukes–at least not yet. The Florida legislature, stung by the way its Nuclear Cost Recovery law backfired, ordered that a review of the policy be undertaken when it expires in 2017, and both Duke and the PCS agreed not to charge customers for the two cancelled nukes until after that review is completed.

    Decommissioning the Crystal River nuke is currently expected to cost about $1.2 billion, and take about sixty years. It’s worth reading the comments, even, if one can overcome the reluctance to read anything Kos-ic.

    And for a slightly green-washed story on Duke and its corporate rulers’ nuclear ambitions and greed, there’s this on the state of Duke’s and its captive PSC’s and legislators’ play, as of August 2017:

    And yet we still have nuclear true believers, happy to shed externalities on future generations and current “ratepayers,” all to assure that they can continue to “use energy” to under-grid their lifestyle choices… How many picograms of highly radioactive nuclear waste are unfortunately generated in generating the the electricity that is “used” to operate a “smart refrigerator” or Home Theatre setup or an Alexa…? Can Congress or the Florida Legislature repeal Murphy’s Law?

    1. polecat

      It’s unpossible to clean up all the nuclear bread n butter that the public’s been floored with !

  10. DJG

    Jacobin article on inequality in distribution of wealth now worse than ever: Says it all. Forty years of the dismantling of the social state, and here we are. And the bipartisan solution? Let’s have more tax breaks.

    1. wilroncanada

      Shouldn’t touch those ‘Bizarre’ magazines.
      Only increases the heartburn.
      They’re exclusively for members of the club, and you and I ain’t in it.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Why would members of the club read something like that? They’re for the legions of wannabes.

        And ironically, “Harpers Magazine,” which I think is related, is very leftwing, at least for the US.

  11. RabidGandhi

    The BBC story on the Kim Jong-nam murder trial is surprisingly restrained in this era of anti-DPRK hysteria. Most other news sources already assume that it was a dastardly deed by Kim-Jong Un, and it has now accepted into the accepted wisdom of western media, but here is a precautionary reminder from Korea expert Bruce Cumings:

    …it was very odd that this was done in a venue where there are all kinds of people milling around and security cameras there. When the North Koreans want to assassinate someone, they send a lone assassin, and he’s carrying poison so that if he is captured after the assassination, before he’s captured, he’ll commit suicide, and then they could deny everything and blame it on the South Korean special services. This was a very odd event. Also, it occurred in Malaysia, which is a country that had friendly relations with North Korea, one of the few non-communist advanced countries that North Koreans and Malaysians could go back and forth without visas. They’ve poisoned—if North Korea did this, which one has to assume they did. I mean, who else did it? You know, it’s basically poisoned the relations with Malaysia. And, again, it feeds into the world media image of Kim Jong-un as somebody who just chops someone’s head off when he disagrees with him, whether it’s his uncle or somebody else—in this case, his half-brother. It’s a very murky incident, and I don’t think we’ll ever get to the bottom of it

    Nevertheless, I would caution my gringo friends about quoting this in public, as expressing doubts about official narratives is a sure sign of being a commie stooge.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, RG.

      Last week, on the BBC’s Question Time, a Blairite bootlicker, now masquerading as a comedienne, slagged off Trump, Kim and Putin as patriarchal man babies, the usual identity politics (Glasgow Hazara in her case) that form part of her schtick. She knows nothing about these countries, or much else, but is treated as an expert by the UK MSM.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Hmmm– what other agencies and entities do assassinations that have Great Game Geopolitical Consequences? Several sources, this one graphic:

      Little mention of US imperial assassinations, very little of Israeli activities in this “policy” area…

      A curated listing for some US wet-work actions:

      For the Israelites, there’s this from Wiki:

      So who engineered the murder of Kim Jong-nam, and why? And in this age of deniability and hangouts, will anyone ever know for sure? Like the bumper sticker reads, “Sh!t Happens.” Notch another win for the Futilitarian ethos…

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t really buy alternative explanations.

      First off, none of the major intelligence agencies would have wanted Kim Jong-nam dead. He had obvious value as a potential figurehead stooge if an opportunity arose to get insiders to dislodge Kim Jong-un. There is little doubt that the Chinese in particular had hopes to use him if Kim Jong-un became too hard to handle (which is undoubtedly why he wanted his brother dead). He was only a threat to Jong-un personally, pretty much everyone else would have seen him as far more useful alive than dead.

      As for the method, it seems more than likely that it was hoped the VX would not be detected. VX would not normally be tested for in even a suspicious death – it seems very likely that if he hadn’t gone immediately to staff to tell them something had been rubbed in his face it may very well have been treated as a heart attack or stroke. This was the case when the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan used VX to carry out assassinations before they turned to sarin.

      1. RabidGandhi

        Just to note, neither I nor Cumings whom I quoted posited an alternative explanation (Cumings: “It’s a very murky incident, and I don’t think we’ll ever get to the bottom of it”).

        The problem I was raising is that no alternative explanations are allowed other than the official one accepted by the US media, which begins with the assumption of DPRK’s guilt prima facie. Personally, if I were to be shown conclusive evidence inculpating the North Korean government, I would be none too surprised. But the issue for me is not who dunnit, but rather why assumptions about official enemies are swallowed wholesale, when the jury is still out.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, point taken. I agree we should always question the official narrative. But by the same token, we should also question narratives that confirm our own personal prejudices/beliefs (I try to do this, but its harder than it seems).

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Where Are the Drones That Could Be Saving Puerto Rico? WIRED

    Yes, that question was asked a few days back.

    Another question: How are other (not American) islands in the area doing after the recent hurricane?

    1. cocomaan

      “If the roads are down and there aren’t enough helicopters out there, we should be using drones to do the work. This is not sci-fi technology. It exists now.”

      One blind spot that WIRED seems to have is that they think powerpoint presentations and marketing actually reflect reality. I don’t think the technology is here. The Defense Department and its various private tentacles are superb at producing prototypes that never go into production.

      Blaming it on the FAA regulation is neoliberal crap.

      As for Cuba:

      To acquire construction materials, victims will be able to request low-interest, long-term loans, according to a notice that appeared in Granma, the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party.

      For homes that collapsed or lost their entire roofs, the state will take over interest payments. Defense councils also will consider subsidies for victims whose incomes are too low to purchase all the required construction materials. Those who still owe money on construction loans for previous programs also may be granted subsidies.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > WIRED seems to have is that they think powerpoint presentations and marketing actually reflect reality

        If the drone technology were there, we’d already have seen Amazon drones in the skies, delivering stuff.

    2. tejanojim

      Drones might help, but they have range and load limits. They need dedicated operators. They need to recharge. They need cargo within their mass and size limits, and suitably arranged for drone carry. Crucially, the time, power, and space dedicated to running a drone fleet might be better allocated to other means of assistance. My guess is that drones would be counterproductive, but happy to be proved wrong.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        One advantage would be areas which are difficult to access. A drone style carrier could theoretically provide better coverage, but again, the problem is still pre-positioning of supplies, moving the ship, having the operators on hand (after all there are still weddings to drone), and so forth. There are a host of other issues that will require major personal deployments the drones can’t solve even if operated out of a base in Florida which still need food, etc, on top of the supplies needed for the disaster victims.

        Then of course, clean water is the major issue. I’m not sure the drones would be particularly useful compared to just trucking in the water. Drones don’t make much sense for a calamity the size of Puerto Rico 2017.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I hope to see at least some drones used to help those in areas not reachable otherwise, with a general in charge there, and maybe with a disaster declaration, bypassing some FAA regulations.

      2. a different chris

        PR is 100×35 miles, right? Civil War soldiers marched with full kit up to 40 miles a day. With horses pulling cannons, and hangers-on providing um, personal services.

        But we need drones to do… something.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > 40 miles a day

          Stonewall Jackson’s foot cavalry, maybe.

          And the full kit is to feed themselves. An additional wagon train would be needed for the food to be distributed to others (and they can’t live off the land, and would have to bring water).

          In fact, I like your retro focus a lot, but most of the “Just do this and _____” talking points on Puerto Rico tend on closer examination to at worse fall apart, or at best be significantly modified.

    3. Grumpy Engineer

      @MyLessThanPrimeBeef: Cocomaan is correct. The technology isn’t there yet. At least not in mass-produced forms that could move substantial amount of goods.

      As of today, we essentially have three types of drones:

      [1] Small private and commercial drones used for reconnaissance. Most of these rely on cell-phone towers for communications, so they won’t work in PR until the cell phone infrastructure is back up again. Their range and weight-carrying capacity is minimal.

      [2] Small military drones used for reconnaissance. These rely on satellites for communications, and I suspect they’re already being used in PR. Their weight-carrying capacity is also minimal.

      [3] Large military drones for weapons deployment. These rely on satellites for communications and can carry a fair amount of payload. Unfortunately, they require full runways for take-off and landing, which means that they’d be of limited use in delivering goods to more isolated regions. Well, unless you’re willing to drop said goods in old bomb casings.

      None of these will make a meaningful difference in Puerto Rico. They are too few with too limited carrying capability.

      Unfortunately, as much as I loathe the man, Donald Trump makes a legitimate point when he says that Puerto Rico is “an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water”. It complicates the hell out of relief efforts. New Orleans, Houston, and Florida could all be serviced by trucks as soon as the flood waters were gone. We can’t truck anything to PR. Instead, we must fly it in by plane (which is fast, but very expensive with limited cargo capacity, only going to airports) or by boat (which is cheap with high carrying capacity, but is slow and only goes to ports).

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Then of course, resources have been deployed into the Gulf of Mexico in recent days. Much like my quest to purchase a Nintendo Wii some years ago (which I never did), scarcity is a concern. A common critique of defense spending has been that its largely graft for parasitical war profiteers, not actual defense.

        The Predator drones in Afghanistan might help secure opium trade routes from potential bandits, but those drones can’t deliver potable water.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Learned a lot by asking a question and exhausting possible options.

        It’s too bad those large military drones can’t carry camping gear and water purification tablets (water, if not potable, would seem to be plenty and ready to be purified) and deploy them, instead of weapons.

        1. wilroncanada

          I mentioned water purification tablets the other day.
          The other products I mentioned were: large scale earth moving equipment, perhaps tracked if necessary, and with operators; generators–lots of generators.
          Barges with equipment to make other harbours usable again.
          Food, water, and building materials by the shipload.

          Four days went by before members of the Administration put on their thinking caps. Three more before most of them saw possible backlash. The only early activity was Trump’s Twitter finger. I live on an island now; I lived on a smaller island before. Four days for what should have taken four minutes.
          Follow the money.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > only goes to ports

        From which they must then be transported by truck, with available fuel (problem) and drivers (problem(. I didn’t do any research on roads, but from the random photos I’ve been, the roads suffered significant damage as well (and I’d bet my bottom dollar as a consequence of austerity-induced deferred maintenance).

      1. Edward E

        Congratulations, you folks identified the false rattlesnakes in my backyard. That’s a pretty young one, they’re Eastern Hognose. The older adult ones usually are more faded in color around here, although some occasionally retain their youthful brilliance until they get really old. These are fun loving little guys, they love to see me jump. Using their lungs and snout they can easily imitate a timber rattlesnake. They’re definitely keepers, you don’t want to kill these snakes.
        We have a few rattlers too, occasionally I have called Superstar to come pick me up in the automobile somewhere because a timber rattler was rattling, buzzing and hissing somewhere along the trail to and from the meadows or the creeks.

  13. Darn

    Lambert, can I ask where the phrase universal concrete material benefits comes from? Yours? I really like that phrase.

  14. Ben

    “intruders used techniques that have been linked to nation-state hackers”

    Instead of using the pedestrian techniques of the yokels ;)

  15. Synoia

    Where Are the Drones That Could Be Saving Puerto Rico?

    Washington DC? In the White House? Pentagon?

    Or do I not understand the question?

  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Where is the world’s largest hoard of looted antiquities? Syria? Iraq? Nope, London.

    This article is about some guy names Symes and here I was expecting it to be about the British Museum…

  17. Bill

    Speaking of economics experiments:

    Is there any limit to how high these debt levels can go? If central banks keep interest rates at or near zero forever, governments will never run out of cash, since debt service costs will be minimal. Of course, interest rates could rise if bond buyers stop buying government bonds, causing a solvency crisis and forcing a government default.

    But that would only happen if the central bank refuses to step in. If the central bank prints money to buy newly issued government debt at a zero interest rate, the government can borrow infinite amounts while paying nothing.

    Many think this would result in hyperinflation — if you print enough money, basic intuition says that its value would drop. Yet countries around the world never experienced even moderate inflation, despite central banks’ huge asset-purchasing programs, causing some economists and policy makers to question this conventional wisdom. If inflation never materializes, central banks can keep printing money and using it to finance government deficits forever. This idea is the centerpiece of a theory called modern monetary theory, once relegated to the intellectual fringes but now gaining currency outside academia….
    At some point, if debt increases enough, the Federal Reserve will have to start financing the government with printed money. That would be a fascinating macroeconomic experiment, though maybe not one we should eagerly anticipate.

    1. Wukchumni

      What we’re witnessing is cyberinflation, with hyperinflation-like numbers of money created out of thin air, but only fertilizing a relative few, so nobody’s the wiser.

      Hyperinflation is a blatant way that countries commit financial suicide. It’s a messy affair and heretofore has always required physical do re mi, to do yourself in, with banknote face value amounts ever rising, and exchange value versus other currencies ever lowering. Weimar is the example always given, and the face value amounts went into the trillions per dollar, from having been about 4 to the dollar just a decade earlier. It only lasted a couple of years and that was that.

      Mexico is a much better hyperinflation story, in that their peso went from being worth 12.5 pesos to the dollar in the 1970’s, to over 10,000 pesos to the dollar in 1992, when it was replaced by the nuevo peso (1,000 old pesos = 1 nuevo peso) .

      It lasted well over a decade, and while the amount the peso went to was nowhere near as large as the trillions in Germany, the damage was complete.

      Let’s say you were a middle class Mexican with 100,000 pesos in the bank in 1978, you had $8,000 US

      By 1992 that same 100,000 pesos was worth a princely $10

      Exit Mexican middle class, and hello USA. I wouldn’t hang around either.

      What do you do if tasked with the job of putting those trillions to work for ya?

      Well, it’s kind of like Brewster’s Millions, but we’ll turn it into trillions instead. You buy the Richie Rich stuff, $178 million hundred year old paintings, the 373 foot yacht, the one of a kind $24 million Ferrari, and build 64,000 sq foot homes and buy a bunch of stocks as they aren’t making anymore. And load up on cheap foreclosed homes the banks will sell you for a song, and go long.

      When does the cinderella story come crashing down on itself?

    2. HotFlash

      As I understand it, there is significant inflation, but it is particularly concentrated in the stock market.

    3. Summer

      Apparently, inflation only happens if you print money to benefit anyone who isn’t part of the elite.
      And isn’t it time to admit that there are two economies, one the central banks tend to and one one they engineer to be fed on by the other? And that’s why there is so much discombobulation over economic fundamentals as they used to be known?

  18. Wukchumni

    There was a murder in Westwood near the UCLA campus in 1988, when an innocent bystander was hit by errant gang gunfire and the previous place to hang out and be seen was a pale version of itself after that. Nobody went anymore.

    I wonder what effect the record breaking murder spree will have on sin city, and everybody knows the casino/hotels are pretty much easy targets, it’s not like they frisk you upon entry or make you go through metal detectors, maybe that’ll change?

  19. marym

    Trump’s Justice Department Is Taking On Other Federal Agencies in Court

    There are currently three major cases in which the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a position in opposition to another executive agency. The nation’s top court will referee one of these disagreements on Monday, and the other two are likely to reach the Supreme Court next year.

    There are currently three major cases in which the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a position in opposition to another executive agency. The nation’s top court will referee one of these disagreements on Monday, and the other two are likely to reach the Supreme Court next year. The situation is partially explained by politics: The department is opposing agencies whose missions—protecting the interests of workers and consumers—are less likely to align with the goals of a conservative administration. But it’s also a signal of how aggressive the Justice Department plans to be in pursing its conservative agenda through the courts.

    The case going before the court on Monday concerns workers’ right to collective action. The other two will decide whether the creation of the agency in charge of protecting consumers [CFPB] violates the Constitution and whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation. The Justice Department’s willingness to take on other agencies is even more notable because in two of the cases, the department’s top lawyers had to change the department’s position in order to oppose the agencies. Such changes are generally not made without serious deliberation and restraint because the department is expected to have a consistent position on legal issues

  20. Oregoncharles

    “MPs to review baby nuclear reactor plans as cheaper source of secure energy City AM (Richard Smith). Slogan: “Glowing Britain.” ”
    FWIW, this just came up in Oregon, in part because a “Small Modular Reactor” company is based in my town. There are presently no operating power reactors in Oregon; a statewide vote in the 80s essentially banned them. The issue was a bill to allow even counties and municipalities to authorize SMRs. Bizarrely, this defiance of the will of the voters passed the state Senate by a wide margin, with even my senator voting for it (she’s going to hear about this at her next public appearance). I assume her vote was because of the local business.

    A large contingent, including me, turned out for the state House hearing on the bill. We outnumbered the pro-nuclear contingent, even with both the company and the OSU nuclear engineering dept. turning out people. Several sadly hopeful young engineers testified. That dept. at OSU has a lot to answer for. As it turned out, the House committee had already decided to block the bill, but listened to our testimony nonetheless, an example of constituent service. Conveniently, the tunnel collapse and radiation release at Hanford, up river a bit, had just occurred, which gave me quite a talking point: SMRs would still produce quantities of radioactive waste, and it still cannot be contained.

    So it went from a huge margin in one house, when it essentially snuck through, to blocked in committee in the other, just because the opposition caught on and turned out.

    I wish the Brits good luck in containing the monster.

  21. Oregoncharles

    Kipling’s Mandalay.:

    Although Kipling’s writing is indeed colonial, the point of that particular line is the ignorance of the soldier speaking.

    Still, reciting the poem in those circumstances makes the same point – the speaker is profoundly ignorant. It’s also a reminder that Britain was the colonial power, not something they want to dwell on now.

  22. audrey jr

    The UK establishment must keep Boris Johnson around just to make themselves feel good about the evil that imperialism has wrought over the globe. Open mouth insert foot has always been Johnson’s strong suit. Other than as an elite “straw man” I can see no purpose to his remaining in the political sphere. Also dear commentariat: RIP Tom Petty. Know what I’ll be listening to on my iPod when I do my walk today.

  23. Kim Kaufman

    The Gross Dishonesty of the Mainstream Media on Catalonia

    Due to social media, the mainstream media can no longer hide what happens. But they can attempt to frame our perceptions of it. What happened yesterday in Catalonia is that paramilitary forces attacked voters who were trying to vote. The mainstream media has universally decided to call the voters “protestors” rather than voters. So next time you go to your polling station, apparently what you are doing is protesting. This kind of distortion through misuse of language is absolutely deliberate by professional mainstream journalists. In a situation where thousands of peaceful voters were brutalised, can anybody find a single headline in the mainstream media which attributes responsibility for the violence correctly?

  24. junkelly

    The ongoing story about SCE&G and Santee Cooper is a big story in South Carolina and I think hits on many topics frequently discussed at Naked Capitalism. The Post and Courier is a good free source for articles.

    Favorable legislation was passed allowing the companies to profit no matter what.
    Shareholders and corporate officers profited (no matter what).
    The construction took much longer and became more expensive than initially projected.
    The corporate executives knew for years things weren’t going well but kept it to themselves.
    The plan was abandoned after billions had been spent.

    The companies claim due to previously passed legislation they can still collect for billions more in the future.

    The average electric company customer has been paying an extra $27 per month for years, with no end in sight, for a project that will never be completed.

    Santee Cooper (the state owned company) will be privatized.

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