Links 12/19/17

Dear patient readers,

Apologies for being thin on original posts. I had a ton of year-end administrativa + some time devoted to what might amount to a future story or stories but could be just a wild goose chase.

House with 25ft great white shark on its roof could be given listed status by council who wanted it demolished Telegraph (Richard Smith)

Glow-in-the-dark plants put green energy in a whole new light NBC (furzy)

Unruly Antarctica could change sea-level outlook without much warning ars technica (Chuck L)

Scientists finally confirm there was life on Earth 3.5 billion years ago Quartz

More haunting declassified scans of nuclear weapons test videos released ars technica (Chuck L)

Investors Shell Out $700 Million for Coins With ‘No Purpose’ Wall Street Journal

The Market for Stolen Account Credentials Brian Krebs (Richard Smith)


Donald Trump’s security strategy fuels era of more fractious Sino-US relations: analysts South China Morning Post (J-LS)

How La Niña’s icy grip may bolster China’s resolve in the South China Sea South China Morning Post (furzy)


After Victory in Gujarat, BJP’s War Against Minorities Likely to Gain Momentum The Wire (J-LS)

In victory, BJP smells defeat, while Congress tastes an opportunity Asia Times (J-LS)

MSF survey provides clear evidence of the Burmese military’s mass murder WSWS

Hundreds of migrants out in open along Serbia’s EU borders– ABC (furzy)

Carles Puigdemont plots Catalan election comeback Financial Times


UK cannot have a special deal for the City, says EU’s Brexit negotiator Guardian. Not news if you have been paying attention.

From Poitico’s daily European newsletter:

Bring down the (Chatham) House — Stefaan De Rynck scopes out the future relationship

In a remarkable on-record speech at the fabled Chatham House in London, De Rynck, a senior adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, offered up a riveting preview of Phase 2 negotiations.

Among the highlights: Brussels still views the U.K.’s demands as contradictory, and therefore somewhat illogical; the U.K., in De Rynck’s view, pretty much has zero chance of a deal on financial passporting if it insists on leaving the single market; and — never mind that the Commission and Council have yet to issue detailed negotiating directives — the future-relationship talks will involve “the stability of the European Continent, defense, security, foreign policy, and issues of justice, home affairs, police cooperation, counter-terrorism and those kind of issues.”

De Rynck opened by saying, “It’s important for us in the team of Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator’s team, to contribute to the U.K. public debate.” And, boy, contribute he did.

While noting with some pleasure that the “sufficient progress” designation allowed him to look beyond citizens’ rights, money and Ireland, De Rynck said there was still work left from Phase 1. “We have reached sufficient progress, but it is not full progress on all of these issues,” he said.

He added that “there are still a number of separation or disentanglement issues that need to be negotiated. Euratom is one of the more important ones.”

But De Rynck quickly moved on to the topic of future relations and a trade agreement, the material that allowed Prime Minister Theresa May to pounce later and accuse him of contradicting his boss, Barnier.

De Rynck said the EU was aiming to end a transition period in conjunction with the EU’s current long-term budget plan. “The end of 2020 seems indeed like a natural endpoint for that implementation period or transition,” he said.

Expect the City to react most strong, however, to his comments on the future of the U.K.’s financial services industry — or rather the lack of a future in the EU. De Rynck said he saw no way to allow the financial “passporting” coveted by the U.K. to continue after Brexit. He added, “Each free trade agreement is tailor-made … to come back to the mathematics of pluses and minuses, what you cannot do is square an FTA circle into a single market. And that is one of the key issues that we will have to live with and clarify quickly: There can be no sector-by-sector participation in the single market.”

You can watch the speech here.

Note that this is consistent with our commentary, including that the EU sees the end of the transition period as the end of 2020.

Britain faces Brexit dilemma over ties with rest of the world Financial Times. Note the FT ran essentially the same story months ago but apparently no one was paying attention.

All well and good, except this does not work for Ireland:

Twitter suspends Britain First leaders BBC

British Media Against Corbyn Real News

HMS Queen Elizabeth: Leak found on new aircraft carrier BBC. Vlade: “So first the new ‘super sub’ runs aground, then the new carrier leaks… Yay for the UK’s new position in the world….”


Erdogan says Turkey aims to open embassy in East Jerusalem Reuters (furzy)

Cracks in the House of Sand: the Pratfalls of the Crown Prince Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Actually, Egypt Is a Terrible Ally New York Times. Resilc: “Not terrible, no ally for years.”

US outnumbered 14 to 1 as it vetoes UN vote on status of Jerusalem Guardian

Yemen rebel ballistic missile ‘intercepted over Riyadh’ BBC

“Russsiagate” and the Collapse of Obama’s War Against Syria Black Agenda Report (UserFriendly)

New Cold War

Jill Stein Will Hand Over Russia-Related Communications to Senate Committee Intercept. Help me.

Trump Transition

Trump unveils national security plan, touts economy CNN

Trump team’s meeting with Mueller’s office poised to ratchet up tensions Washington Post (J-LS)

The Republican Opposition Goes Out With a Whimper New Republic (resilc)

CDC director says there are ‘no banned words’ at the agency PBS

House Democrats Vote to Block Consideration of Impeachment Reader Supported News

The Trump administration’s Orwellian plan to gut Roe v. Wade – ThinkProgress (furzy). Key quote “The Supreme Court may soon weigh in on whether the government can physically detain people to prevent them from having an abortion.”

Tax “Reform”

The Major Tax Changes in the Republican Bill Bloomberg

The Final Version of the G.O.P. Tax Bill Is a Corrupt, Cruel, Budget-Busting Hairball New Yorker (furzy)

Republicans Are Growing the Deficit to Cut Welfare Programs Atlantic

Republicans face backlash over last-minute tax bill provisions Financial Times. Readers in Maine: call and give Susan Collins hell. Per the Journal, she has committed to vote yes. You won’t change her mind, but you should tell her she should never run for office again in Maine, and if you voted for her in the past, you are appalled at her betrayal.

Read the Republican tax plan CNN

In America and beyond, the spirit behind public lands is at risk Guardian. Resilc: “The idea of a public good is non-Merkin.”

Amtrak train derails in Washington State on inaugural run Christian Science Monitor. Later reports say it was going 80 MPH on a section of track where it was supposed to go 30 MPH.

California’s legal weed is going to have a huge pesticide problem Vice (resilc)

Sex in Politics…Not!

Democrats now regret pushing Al Franken to resign The Week (Judy B)

US judge Alex Kozinski resigns for sexual misconduct BBC

Why the #MeToo Movement Should Be Ready for a Backlash Politico. About time. I know personally of men who were subjected to utterly false charges by women who were (in one case) vindictive over weak grades (when all the other faculty members were even more negative on this student’s performance and potential) and knew they had nothing to lose, and (in another) who was seriously impaired psychologically (a Stage 4 alcoholic who had gotten pregnant at 13 and had a habit of taking all her clothes off in front of people. She even tried it with me). And this isn’t even a full list. And it is much worse in academia.

MEET THE WOMEN WORRIED ABOUT #METOO Spiked (Chuck L). Importnant. This is key:

I am concerned that sex itself seems increasingly to be seen as dirty, and as a violation, a form of assault, so that we’re repackaging an old prudery in progressive wrapping paper. I am concerned that we are well on our way to demonising, if not criminalising, all male desire.

The Doug Jones Victory Belongs to the People of Alabama, Not Just African-Americans Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly)

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle Guardian

What American-History Classes Aren’t Teaching Atlantic (resilc)

Divorce Is Making American Families 66% Bigger Bloomberg. Better headlines, please. “Remarriage is Making American Families Bigger…”

Class Warfare

Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule Economic Policy Institute

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Wukchumni

    Investors Shell Out $700 Million for Coins With ‘No Purpose’ Wall Street Journal

    This is a similar tangent, although the bitcoins herein are full of wolfram, jack.

    A friend that’s hanging out for a spell is in the coin/bullion business, and was relating how prevalent Chinese made counterfeits of gold plated tungsten 1 oz gold eagles and others are now, in the marketplace.

    Here Aladdin, you can buy some on Alibaba for $200

    They share a very similar specific gravity making it easy to pass off, and not knowing what tungsten fetches, I had to look it up, and it’s worth $35,000 per metric ton, which translates to not much per troy ounce. I had no idea how the value had gone up and down historically, and the peak price in adjusted for now dollars was during WW1, when it was over $110,000 per metric ton. China produces almost all of the world output, so nice synergy with the clever counterfeiters.

    He said, they are turning up all over, in the marketplace in L.A.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I am wondering if this is a case of China going into the ‘recycling business’. There is a story that back in 2009 China, specifically Hong Kong, received a shipment of gold bars from the US that turned out to be gold-plated tungsten bars. When the story came out the US blamed China for the scam but it soon became apparent that the gold originally came from the US. The Chinese might be shipping the same tungsten back again to get their money back. i.e. recycling.
      They were not the only ones as Germany also received a shipment of these bars in 2010. An employee of the W.C. Heraeus refinery suspected something so a bar was cut in half showing the fraud – and this was on shown on a TV station. Maybe that is why Germany took care when they repatriated all their gold back from the US recently. Canada in the past has found fake gold bars too apparently.
      The information is out there but trying to find the exact state of gold in the world is exceedingly difficult. and I doubt that there is much trust in the gold world. As an illustration, look up what happened to the Ukraine’s gold immediately after the revolution as well as Libya’s missing 140 tons of gold.

  2. allan

    CNN POLL – Presidential Approval Rating – Dec of First Year

    Bush, 2001 86%
    Kennedy, 1961 77%
    Bush, 1989 71%
    Eisenhower, 1953 69%
    Nixon, 1969 59%
    Carter, 1977 57%
    Obama, 2009 54%
    Clinton, 1993 54%
    Reagan, 1981 49%
    Trump, now 35%

    (From Manu Raju‏ @mkraju)

    If you were the current occupant of the Oval Office and looked at who and when is at the top of the list,
    what would you conclude?

    1. mle detroit

      Oy. One can hope that this list doesn’t get sneaked past General Kelly.

      On another note, let’s ban the words “thoughts and prayers.”

    2. Carolinian

      One thing you might conclude is that you were facing the most hostile media environment of any president in modern history. Which is not to say Trump doesn’t court and even feed off that hostility with his own often bizarre actions. But the current press corps seems to see its mission as not so much telling the truth as bringing down Trump and that’s a danger to the free press itself not to mention all those other high profile targets that are now coming under attack. Libel law no longer seems to be much of a restraint and “made you look” is the only guiding principle (as it is for Trump himself).

      There was a widely circulated youtube video where John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about misconduct accusations during an unrelated panel. Hoffman argued back and said “were you there?” to which Oliver replied “why would they lie?” Regardless of the truth of the charges against Hoffman this was a deeply stupid thing for Oliver to say. But it does sum up the current media attitude. “Any stick to beat a dog” is no way to run a newspaper, even if the president is someone like Trump.

      1. Wukchumni

        BRIAN: Are you the Journalism People’s Front?

        REG: Fvck off!

        BRIAN: What?

        REG: Journalism People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Journalism! Journalism People’s Front. Cawk.

      2. anonymous


        Concerted MSM and Establishment GOP & Dem effort to take Trump down.

        Russia-gate shows how easily the masses are brainwashed.

        1. Ignim Brites

          Russia-quiddick actually shows how easily the elites are brainwashed ( or maybe hypnotized is a better characterization). The mass attitude is “nothing to see there”. The elites are entranced by the incantations of Wolf et. al.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Self delusion is at play as opposed to brain washing along with the specter of a collapse of the courtier class as they no longer hold power or the perception of power over the electorate.

            It boils down to was Hillary the triumphant unfairly robbed or was betting the farm on the unpopular and self-professed non-politician wife of a guy who became President with a smaller vote share than Michael Dukakis really a good idea especially in light of both Doug Jones and Northam being elected to statewide office. Roy Moore problems aside, Jones and Northam didn’t bring much in the way of scandal or bad blood. Neither voted for the Iraq War. If its the latter option, what does it say about elites (especially media linked elites who are having a scandal cut down their numbers)?

            The primary numbers present a second problem. In 2008, Democratic primary participants who were 30 and under did not vote for Hillary. In 2016, despite the universal accolades by the elites for the most experienced candidate ever, Democratic primary voters who were 38 and under did not vote for Hillary. There are structural obstacles, but the 17, 16, 15, and 14 year olds aren’t going to join the ranks of older voters. Obama’s tacit support didn’t help Hillary among this cohort.

              1. IsotopeC14

                Well said.

                Let’s keep losing, don’t listen to heretics like Mark Blyth, or Richard Wolff, or Jimmy Dore.

                Austerity is freedom.

                Socialism is Authoritarianism.

                The young deserve to live in basements, because they weren’t smart enough to sell their parents organs on the black market.

                Biden 2020 – Slightly more likeable than Hillary!

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The key is to get in there to be popular or unpopular.

      It’s no possible if one endorses the self-anointed candidate, and doesn’t resist all the way.

  3. BillK

    Re: Brexit – No special deals.
    This has been EU policy from the start. They are faced with disruptive EU members who would immediately follow the UK if the UK got any sort of ‘good’ deal (soft Brexit). Brussels will accept any damage that a hard Brexit might cause because the maintenance of the EU project is their overriding concern.
    I see all the political discussions as a bureaucratic waste of time. The only two options are either beat the UK down until they agree to stay in the EU (in effect if not in name) or have a hard Brexit where the UK just walks away with no payments or agreements. The UK politicians will have to try and sell one of these options to the UK public – a difficult task which could split the country.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      The longest war…ww2 has never technically ended…Will it flare up to appease and protect the future pensions of Brussels cubiclistas ?

      Other than the bureaucracy…who benefits from the kyffhauser klub ?

      Germany has a demographics problem that will not go away and flushing the southern European economy to keep dr Strangelove in a position of power and happy “he” negotiated the reunification…well sooner or later he will take his last breath and join Chiang kai-shek in the dustbins of history…annoyingly impossive while breathing…a pigeon holder for posterity…

      The abwehr have failed…the control mechanisms they imagined would allow them to use technology as the overlord system has failed them…

      the vichistani tend to forget Poland actually almost stopped Germany in its tracks…25% of the Luftwaffe was damaged and inoperable when the Japanese finally agreed to suspend offensive activities in the east triggering the entry of Russia into the war as a German ally…

      THE great Leni-R made for tv movie prop german army only succeeded due to no one of any consequence fighting back…

      Pieces in our time…

      Thankfully none of the future combatants in europe have any capacity to build weapons of any consequence nor the capacity to fully motivate their population to invade anyone…except as a flash mob acting crazy on vacation…

      Reservoir dogs end of movie moment…do the Brussels bafoons have the trading depth and capacity to cut off “the city”…??

      England may not be financially what it once was but can europe handle even a 15% loss in capital backing trading volume ?

      The mario Frankfurt krewe seems somewhat stressed right now just juggling ice sculptures…

      Hellas grew expecting turkey to be allowed into the playpen…without istanbul, Hellas is disconnected by the balkans from the rest and too far away to effectively compete with land transport…but maybe that has always been the plan by mutti and company…

      Kill off the non competitive extremities (Portugal, Ireland, Hellas), then cut and carve out the UK…

      Does the city have anyone to blame but itself ??

      Going along with the disembowelment of the market for bonds from Hellas allowed the euro to slide down, creating a financial strategic advantage for german enterprise…

      Making money shorting some fools in Athens might have sounded like fun at the time…

      And then they came for me…

      The message brought to you by the Mussels from Brussels

      1. vlade

        I see you’re fully briefed on conspiracy theories and alternate timelines. I’ll bother to respond only to your ww2 claims, as the rest..

        I don’t know what you mean by “ww2 never ended”, but FYI, all major (Germany, Italy and Japan) powers signed surrender/peace documents, as well as all the minors, with one notable exceptions being Republic Of Slovakia and Croatia – but since both ceased to exist (Slovakia being re-incorporated into Czechoslovakia and Croatia to Yugoslaviea), and neither of the current independent entities is a legal continuation of the war entity (according to the international law), well, I don’t know what you can mean by it (I’m here simplifying, nevertheless the result stands). Finland is also a special case, as technically it was in state of war only with USSR (well, Germany in late 1944/ early 45), where it signed peace treaty in Paris in 1947 (together with Italy as a major Axis power, and Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary as minors).

        I also have no idea where you take your “25% of Luftwaffe”. As a proportion of _assigned_ forces (about 2200 planes total), Luftwaffe lost (destroyed or extensively damaged) about 660, or about 31% (so even more than you claim, ha!). The total strength of Luftwaffe at Sep 1 1939 was about 4000 planes, so given that, it lost at most 17% of its forces. Which it was able to pretty quick recover.

        If you do want to bust some myths on the invasion of Poland, you’d do worse than the all-round favourite “polish cavalry charges”, or some of the smaller like “Poles had no modern tanks” or “German tanks RULEZ!”.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          This is radio prague…the german government never signed an armistice…it was a surrender of its military…and they kept fighting for ten days plus after the fall of berlin…and kept up the attacks on Prague…the sea of blood…the donitz government was allowed to go through the motions and was not arrested for a couple of weeks…

          This is not my conspiracy…it’s the one of those who keep snapping the heels of their black boots 75 plus years later…and last I checked…they seem to be winning…even if they don’t yet dare march in public…

          Matousek sends his best wishes

          You keep your fantasies and i’ll keep mine…

          1. Bill Smith

            Hitler named Dönitz his successor on April 29, 1945. Hitler did this in his last will and testament which would make, for what it is worth, Donitz both civilian and military leader of the German government..

            While Donitz surrendered Germany May 8, 1945, he was not arrested until May 22, 1945.

          2. vlade

            Prague wasn’t the last place of fighting, that was on Austria/Croatia border, and the last significant surrender was Channel Islands on VE+8. If you want really the last german units to surrender, they were some Germans on Bear Island, Barents Sea on VE+119.

            Flensburg government was not ever recognised by the Allies, hence the June 5 Berlin declaration where effectively Allies took over government of Germany.

            I know that there are people arguing that this wasn’t debellation, but regardless of that, legally all Western Allies ended state of war with Germany by 1951 (US being the latest as it was giving them an excuse to keep troops in Germany). USSR took another four years.

            I’d also like to draw your attention to 12 September 1990, when the “Treaty of the final settlement with respect to Germany” was signed by 4+2. The only reason it wasn’t called peace treaty were financial reparations.

            Hard to have a war when none of the supposed combatants doesn’t think they have one, eh?

              1. vlade

                If I extend a definition far enough, there has been only ww1 since the first living organism, and it will end (for Earth, anyways) when the Earth will become devoid of life.

                Happy now?

          3. Meher Baba Fan

            the ellipse is the most abused article of punctuation, in my observation. further, when the ellipse is used entirely as substitute for a full stop, it tends to detract credibility from the writer

        2. Oregoncharles

          I think the real point, if I may speak for Mr. Morfesis, is that the EU looks more and more like the 4th Reich. They lost the war but won the peace. Clever.

          Note Alex’s last name: Greek (Hellas) point of view.

          1. mpalomar

            Yup, history may not repeat itself but it does resonate. The Germans have dominion in the EU and used it to crush democracy in Greece and thereby chill it elsewhere in the zone. Brexit, the battle of britain II?

            Interesting that currently Poland is being scrutinized for tampering with its judiciary to the point that the German led EU is threatening voting privileges. The move would require unanimity, making Hungary, possibly more reactionary and conservative, Poland’s fail safe.

            Shades of appeasement, the brits are wavering as Germans advance once again on Poland. However it’s not WWII or WWI extended, it’s a couple thousand years since the German tribes first set their sights on the Euro block.


      2. Wukchumni

        I hear you, WW2 isn’t over, and when i’m driving my Willys jeep through the burned up blown to bits parts of France-which is all of it, i’m always set upon by ravenously hungry street urchins hitting me up for C-Rats or a bar of Hershey’s. Now if I only had some silk stockings, hmmm.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The spooks are spooked. The ex head of MI6 says Brexit is highly damaging.

      Speaking to the foreign affairs select committee, Sawers said: “We can see the trend of the coming years and we do not want to go through a repeat of the 1970s where the UK went progressively downhill compared to our national partners. We will need to turn it around. I am not sure how we are going to do it.”

      Calling for an urgent reprioritisation of resources post-Brexit, he said: “We have to recognise a pretty stark reality faces us at the end of this process, and we have to rebuild from that.”

      Accused by the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani of providing only “gloom and doom” about Brexit, Sawers hit back, saying: “We have to acknowledge that Brexit is damaging our economy at the moment. Immediately after Brexit we suffered a 15% devaluation in our currency – we devalued all the assets in the UK by 15%. We are going through a Brexit inflation at the moment which means that people’s pay rises are not enough to keep up with real-terms incomes and, having 18 months ago been at the top of the G7 table of GDP growth performance, we are now at the bottom, so we are undoubtedly going through a bit of a dive. At the end of this process we will need to work out how to rebuild our economy and our influence in the world.”

    3. PlutoniumKun

      The British cabinet have finally had a meeting to decide what they want from Brexit!

      And the statement that came out is…. as clear as mud. Apparently, they want a ‘bespoke agreement’. Well thats nice.

      Downing Street has now release the full text of the official readout from today’s cabinet. Here it is. It is what the prime minister’s spokesman read out at the start of today’s lobby briefing before taking questions.

      The prime minister led a discussion in cabinet on the future economic partnership the UK will be seeking with the EU.

      The PM said the starting points for the discussion were the speeches at Lancaster House and at Florence, which set the framework for the overall relationship that we should seek with the EU.

      This is a new, deep and special partnership, spanning both a new economic relationship and a new relationship on security.T

      The PM said it was clear what the cabinet’s objective is: a deal which secures the best possible trading terms with the EU, enables the UK to set rules that are right for our situation, and facilitates ambitious third country trade deals.

      The PM said that, in developing our future economic partnership, we should be creative in designing our proposal.

      The Brexit secretary and PM were clear that the UK is seeking a bespoke deal.

      The PM said she had been clear in her Florence speech that a European Economic Area model would not be right for Britain and would be democratically unsustainable, because it would mean automatically adopting all EU rules without influence or a vote.

      She also said the UK would also be seeking a significantly more ambitious deal than the EU’s agreement with Canada.

      Further cabinet discussions will take place early in the New Year on the future partnership and the precise nature of the implementation period.

      The PM, summing up, said the positions adopted by the government would be in the national interest and she was confident of building a dynamic post-Brexit economy which will deliver growth, jobs, prosperity and a better future.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Cracks in the House of Sand: the Pratfalls of the Crown Prince Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch (Chuck L)

    Mistakes made by powerful leaders are often explained by their own egomania and ignorance, supplemented by flattering but misleading advice from their senior lieutenants. The first steps in foreign intervention are often alluring because a leader can present himself as a national standard bearer, justifying his monopoly of power at home. Such a patriotic posture is a shortcut to popularity, but there is always a political bill to pay if confrontations and wars end in frustration and defeat. MbS has unwisely decided that Saudi Arabia should play a more active and aggressive role at the very moment that its real political and economic strength is ebbing. He is overplaying his hand and making too many enemies.

    I think someone commented here btl that MbS’s reign will be short, and will be ended with a bullet.

    Those who know more about SA society than me are saying that the whole Saudi enterprise is based on a very delicate act of balancing internal heirarchies based on tribe and religion. For the moment, he seems to be popular with younger Saudi’s, but if they are dragged into war (especially in Qatar), then that can change quickly. There are also a lot of resentful power groups in SA, ranging from Shites to those tribes who lost out to the House of Saud in the post colonialist era, and have been nursing grievances for many decades. It doesn’t matter how powerful or rich you are, you can only have so many enemies before one of them decides to take things into their own hands.

    Its one thing of course for a Yemen or Somalia to fall into chaos. But when a country sits on the single biggest and most lucative pot of oil on the planet, then everyone will have a stake in the outcome. It won’t be pretty.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Looks like the Yemen war is coming home to knock on his door. That Yemeni Burkan 2 missile that was intercepted over Riyadh was targeting MBS’s palace. I wonder if the joint has a bunker? There must be a lot of rattled nerves in that city now as they await the next missile.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh – his ‘official’ residence. Its the 1000th day of the war, so no doubt they were aiming at something symbolic.

    2. andyb

      “when a country sits on the biggest and most lucrative pot of oil on the planet”

      Hardly true anymore. The oil is running out. Even Aramco admits that much of the latest production has problems in refining; problems with what’s at the “bottom of the barrel”.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That may well be true (I’ve read quite a bit on the topic and there is no real concensus). But even a severely depleted oil reserve in SA is still hugely valuable, mainly because the crude is such good quality and so cheap to extract. A 75% decline in the Ghawar field would still give you the production capacity of Norway, but with far higher profits (because of lower costs).

  5. Wukchumni

    My first climbs in the Rocky Mountains as a graduate student in 1958 changed my life. I was awed by Longs Peak and Colorado’s rugged backcountry. I was also left with an indelible sense of appreciation that those places were not only protected, but open and free for everyone to experience and explore.

    The democratic ideal embodied by America’s national parks, national forests, and public lands stood in sharp contrast to my experiences in Switzerland where I grew up; so many of Europe’s forests and streams are owned by the powerful and locked behind fences or castle walls.

    In America and beyond, the spirit behind public lands is at risk Guardian
    European backcountry is way different compared to what we have here, where creature comforts & human ‘improvements’ are few and one can truly go wherever they please in our National Parks.

    I was hiking in the French Alps with a couple of friends when 9/11* happened, and we’d been out for 3 nights, and upon getting to our destination about a 10 mile walk in, there was a restaurant with a choice of 3 meals, and a payphone. I’ve seen other things along those lines in other Euro locales with more tramways than you can shake a stick at and other luxuries. This just doesn’t occur in our NP’s.

    * We didn’t know about it until we walked back into the little French town of:

    …from whence we started, on 9/13, and flights were messy for weeks afterwards, but it didn’t matter as we were in Europe until late in September.

    I’ve been to Europe many times, and Europeans were good at ignoring American tourists i’d always thought based on my experiences, and when my accent happened upon anyone I encountered in my travels post 9/11, the outpouring of sympathy was astounding, be it the fellow that I was paying for a granita on the walk down the street of modern Ercolano on the way to Herculaneum, or the lady that owned the pension in Paris we were staying at. All over the streets of Europe we saw memorials festooned with flowers and love.

    A big chunk of the 1st world was with us for a brief spell as one, I thought at the time…

    …and then upon returning to the states, my wife picked me up @ LAX and when we got on the 405, about every third car had a Chinese-made plastic old glory waving from one of the window jambs of their jalopies


  6. Patrick Donnelly

    Lots of fear propaganda, I see. Must be a big holiday coming up? Got to keep the plebs worried and fearful of authority.

    1. Lee

      Let the backlash begin.


      I was sexually harassed by my female boss for years. First, we had a disgustingly hot illicit affair followed by a twenty year marriage with far too much sex and too many good times that produced two wretchedly ungrateful children with whom I have a horrid bond of deep affection. It was hell, I tell you. But now I’m woke and will be contacting a lawyer and the press forthwith.

      Sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

    2. Jean

      Fewer women called back for a second round of interviews is the real danger. Being female may be seen as a liability in certain job settings where sexual harassment lawsuits have or are likely to occur.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Smart people in HR with the inability to fire the owner’s brother Larry have been selecting for “non-problem” employees via multiple metrics since the advent of workplace laws.

        As someone who hired and managed people in grocery stores, all the worst employees I had were attractive women under 25. Unless your business is specifically hiring for that trait (bartender, actress, etc), most of the time they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Even if they are a good employee, you’ve probably got some guy on your staff that will act a fool around a good looking woman too, which isn’t their fault but is still something I get to deal with as the one it all rolls downhill to.

        The best employees were women over 35 with kids.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Re Jill Stein Will Hand Over Russia-Related Communications to Senate Committee

    Well of course the woman is guilty of colluding with Russia during the 2016 elections. Everybody knows that. Remember when she went on RT ( as part of two live third-party presidential debates with the Green Party and the Libertarian Party? That’s collusion with the Russians right there!
    And none of this nonsense of how none of the MSM TV networks would host debates with these two parties on their own stations. It’s not like a speech from Sanders was bumped off TV in order to show an empty podium where Trump was late in turning up. America should know that it is only the two main parties that count – or should count. What could the smaller parties possibly say that is worth hearing about?

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Led by Dianne Feinstein, Democrats are exploiting Russiagate to eliminate the political opposition to their left.

      When you’ve lost Dianne Feinstein…
      Oh, wait, as a Californian, any reason would do to lose Dianne Feinstein!

      1. Jean

        Led by Dianne Feinstein, Democrats are exploiting Russiagate to eliminate the political opposition to their left.

        Opposition to the “Left of Feinstein”? That’s pretty much everyone who might possible get elected.

        She’s married to a war profiteer financial parasite and she represents the Likud Wing of the (alleged) “Democratic Party”. She is a Republican wolf in sheep’s clothing.
        Maybe her family lost property in the Russian Revolution? She’s that old.

        1. WheresOurTeddy


          “to the Left of Dianne Feinstein” is like saying “to the Right of Upton Sinclair”

  8. allan

    Tax bill whacks liberal big cities [Politico]

    ‘This is the scr*w-New Jersey bill,’ the mayor of Piscataway said.

    The Republican tax bill, largely written by lawmakers from rural and Southern red states, is about to squeeze urban America. …

    Wahler, who’s run City Hall in Piscataway for 17 years and is a past president of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors, is thinking about trimming $8 million in road improvements planned for next year, out of a project originally tabbed for $60 million in total. He’s also looking to cut back on hiring new police officers to replace those retiring from the force. …

    Local officials aren’t shy about blaming federal lawmakers for digging a budget hole and shifting national burdens onto them. That chafes Wahler, whose city has a nearly perfect credit rating and whose residents pay a higher share of overall federal taxes than those in other parts of the country like the South. …

    As Clausewitz might say if he were around, the TCJA is a continuation of the Civil War by other means.

    1. ANON48

      Ok …NJ lawmakers could return fire by pushing for cuts in sugar and ethanol(corn) subsidies to help pay for the tax bill.

      I learned the hard way how terrible ethanol is for small engines. Two snow blowers, a portable generator and leaf blowers all failed when starting for the first time over the last 12 months. This even though at the end of the prior season, I ran all the motors with fuel stabilizer until all gas was used. Apparently, not good enough.

      What I learned from the local garden center repair shop was that you actually had to buy ethanol free gas and run that through the engine for a while, before putting the equipment into extended storage. Otherwise, either the fuel lines would clog up or the carburetor would be ruined.

      Knowing this now, I can’t believe the ethanol industry was able to push through a required increase in the amount of ethanol mixed with vehicle gasoline, a few years back. Outrageous!!!

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: MEET THE WOMEN WORRIED ABOUT #METOO Spiked (Chuck L). Importnant.

    At best, when we differentiate ‘sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, [we] are having the wrong conversation’, Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand asserts, while preparing to run for president as the self-appointed avenger of all self-identified female victims.

    It appears ms. gillibrand may have seriously miscalculated the staying power of her chosen issue, as well as the viability of her pedantic stand. Ditto for kamala harris. Good thing “walk-backs” have been so warmly embraced as political “norms.”

    No doubt any failure to gain sufficient traction in coming elections will be blamed on Putin or whoever the villain du jour happens to be. I hope Bernie is preparing a rebuttal.

    Also glad to see Tulsi Gabbard seems to have remained above the fray. Another point in her considerable favor, I’d say.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think it shows very clearly the sort of bubble some of these politicians live in. I’m sure thats good politics in some prosperous liberal areas, but I find it very hard to believe that it would have any traction whatever over people who have lives to live and bills to pay (i.e. the majority) as the centerpiece of a political campaign.

      Not to mention that people tend to be very cynical of politicians whose pet issue is very specific to the politicians own relatively priviliged personal background.

      It seems a constant theme of centrist Democrats that they are incredibly tin eared about the concerns of regular people. They don’t even pretend to care.

    2. neo-realist

      Tulsi may be smart enough to know that the democratic party should be working more on building their brand ergo their power in the 50 states rather than sexual harassment witch hunting, i.e., taking their eye off the ball (as per usual because it’s convenient to do so?)

  10. fresno dan

    Scientists finally confirm there was life on Earth 3.5 billion years ago Quartz

    Almost 4 billion years of trying, and nature still hasn’t produced intelligent life…..

  11. cocomaan

    Public Lands:

    To slow the disappearance of natural areas, policy-makers must become evangelists for public lands. And citizens must exercise their rights as owners of public lands and oceans, and speak up to safeguard their national parks, forests, and marine sanctuaries for future generations.

    The fact of the matter is that outdoor pursuits are in the decline. That goes for hunting, camping, etc. Fishing is actually on the rise over the past few years, for whatever reason (could be immigrants). Most of the American population has become urbanized. Many never leave the city of their birth for any outdoor pursuit.

    The fact of the matter is that in order to get public lands protected, people need to demand its use. The public good of it also has to do with market forces in that way.

    Policymakers can make a difference, but only if we elect them. The author should go and read Teddy Roosevelt’s biography. The guy was a force of nature. We don’t promote or have any interest in figures like him today. Career politicians are lawyers these days.

    1. Carolinian

      The fact of the matter is that outdoor pursuits are in the decline

      Judging from the parking situation at National Parks I’d say our public lands are still quite popular although, admittedly, not necessarily with Americans. However speaking from where I live things like rail trails and hiking trails are booming. These are promoted as civic enhancements (in other words economic selling points) which must mean that lots of people want to use them.

      Also polls seem to show heavy support for the public lands regardless of whether people use them or not. The real problem seems to be the Koch faction and other public land exploiters and their influence in our heavily bribed, er, lobbied legislatures.

      1. cocomaan

        Those are good points. National Park attendance is up. I’ve seen built and walked a few rail trails in my time. It’s a good use of space.

        But most of the public lands are wilderness areas. Most NPS visitors go within one mile of the road and not beyond. The real value of our public lands are the broad expanses not traveled by anyone except hunters and anglers.

        The Koch factions and energy extractors are absolutely insidious, sure, but they’re only powerful because we give them our money. They’ll fade as soon as they’re demonetized. But we don’t elect people who want to demonetize predatory industries, or bust monopolies like Teddy. We elect technocrats and people who may never have taken a hike in their life.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I wonder if a lot of it is down to declining fitness levels. I recall reading a few years ago in a hunting magazine* a lament that everything that could be shot within 2 miles of a highway had been shot, but nobody was going any further than that, apparently because so few hunters are able to walk that far anymore.

          *not my regular reading, I was sitting waiting for a missing receptionist in a motel in Montana.

          1. Mel

            Well, walk that far, dragging a hippopotamus.
            I finally got to check: “Wasting a carcass fit for human consumption” really is a crime out here. People have been charged.

            1. cocomaan

              You’re absolutely obligated to recover any animal you hunt in America. Even if you did hike way too far in. I have personal experience with a swamp and a deer haul of a mile and a half this past season, haha.

              You have to attach a tag to your animal. Butchers have to submit tags to the state as they process the animals. They’re subject to frequent and sometimes very invasive inspections. States are serious about their hunts. Game wardens/Conservation Officers have some pretty powerful law enforcement powers.

              And PKun is definitely on to something, vis a vis fitness. The hippo analogy is amusing but having been close to obese at one time in my life, it’s pretty frightening to think back on how my entire phenomenology changed. Hills became something new and downright threatening. A hike in the woods meant a lot of pain, not only in terms of exertion, but also in the joints and ligaments. I might spend the rest of the day with a headache, even.

              1. Mel

                My attempted point was that people are wise not to go and shoot something in a place where they can’t get it out. Aspersions on their level of fitness notwithstanding.

                1. cocomaan

                  Yep, and that just doesn’t happen. Occasionally people lose animals, but the penalties for waste laws are really steep.

            1. cocomaan

              ATV access is generally limited on many public lands in the US. There’s exceptions, like having a disability as a hunter, but even then you’re not going to harvest anything, because the accessible areas don’t have any animals in them.

            2. savedbyirony

              I do not know that ATVs are used so much in hunting. My family has hunted for years in various states and those vehicles have never been much of a presence that we have seen. However for big loads like Elk in Colorado hunters who have hiked a long way in will often use horses to pack the meat out.

        2. Carolinian

          Then there’s this

          I know that in the dry West many trails are shared with horses if not bikes but where I live it’s often wet and mtn bikes therefore quite destructive of trails. Plus if you get run down by a cyclist going 25 mph (and they do) it may not matter much whether the vehicle has a motor or not. In fact the noisy motor would at least warn you that they are coming.

          That said, my local state park has loads of trails that only exist because mtn bikers created them on the qt. Gosh knows the park rangers have little interest in hikers (catering more to the horsey set).

          So it’s not just the Kochs but also other competing uses that may threaten the wilderness.

          1. JTMcPhee

            The fundamental root of all this is simply that humans, all of us, “threaten wilderness.”

            Does not matter if a few of us “take only photographs, leave only footprints.” The extractors and yahoos vastly outnumber the conservers, and the pressures to “open and use up” are relentless.

    2. Lord Koos

      Where do you get your data? From personal experience I would disagree with this, although I live in the west, where a great variety of outdoor activities remain very popular – fishing, swimming, hiking, hunting, rock climbing, camping, skiing, berry picking, snowmobiling, mountain biking, etc. Perhaps outdoor activities are declining as a percentage of the population, but many National parks in the west are packed in summer months to the point of traffic jams, and both state and national trail-head parking lots are packed in the summer compared to 20 years ago. What gripes me is that due to budget cuts you now have to pay for access in national and state forest lands as well as state and national parks. The other gripe is the forest service selling off public resources, such as giving mushroom hunting contracts to private companies, commercial-scale berry picking etc.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Divorce Is Making American Families 66% Bigger Bloomberg. Better headlines, please. “Remarriage is Making American Families Bigger…”

    Maybe, one day, we’re all related – one big family…

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Employers would pocket $5.8 billion of workers’ tips under Trump administration’s proposed ‘tip stealing’ rule Economic Policy Institute

    I work with companies that will not accept gifts from vendors to their employees.

    Some suppliers might get preferential treatment.

    The same reasoning should lead them to ban gifts from customers to their workers.

    All customers should get the same (good or bad) treatment.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Nice in theory, but theory is not practice as you know. Human exchanges in the form of gratuities, whether voluntary or compulsory, are complex, and varied, with various degrees of corruption and preference built in. As far as I can tell, corruption of all sorts is endemic and very human and no amount of pressure to eliminate it will ever succeed. In part because pretty much none of us or at least very few of us are so rectitudinal as to decline to accept a little gift, with more or less strings attached, whenever offered. Some of us alre also greedy and abusive and all those other too-human failings. And some of us just, you know, LIKE others of us more than the great unwashed in the wider world of vendors and customers. And will do favors out of affection and politeness that would not get extended to others.

      A personal “no tipping” policy in an economy where part of a worker’s compensation is tip money is not much of a way to change how “the system’ works. Plus, don’t go back to the place again and expect to get “quality service.” That’s just very human.

      1. witters

        A personal “no tipping” policy in an economy where part of a worker’s compensation is tip money is not much of a way to change how “the system’ works…

        Nope, but its not colluding with it either.

        1. marym

          It’s only “not colluding” if you choose not to patronize a business where the employee depends on tips to survive with a low wage job.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as tipped workers earn minimum wage, employers could legally pocket those tips.”

      How much might the margin of tips over minimum wage be? …
      “16.1 percent of the estimated $36.4 billion in tips earned by tipped workers annually”

      These numbers give me some idea of how poorly tipped workers are paid, making allowances for the methodology used for the study [which I didn’t read through] and making allowances for the ‘averaging’ effect of such a study. This makes me feel badly about even the really good tips I’ve left for servers in NYC and other very expensive cities to live near and commute to.

      When I combine the observation above with your assertion:
      “All customers should get the same (good or bad) treatment.”
      I end up with expectations of egalitarian service provided at a lowest common denominator. I imagine we might all enjoy service by a pissy French waiter, dressed down by his manager moments before providing service to our table, at a ‘Walmart’-cafeteria in a poor suburb of Paris.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I know this: politicians should not accept gifts from their customers.

        “All tips belong to the people.”

  14. Jim Haygood

    Bitcoin miracles:

    When I discovered bitcoin I felt I had become a part of something that was going to be huge, and since I had a very poor background and poor family, bitcoin and the crypto community kind of became my family.

    I know personally many people who will become billionaires by next year. There have been a lot of multimillionaires who have been created in the past year.

    From a price standpoint, bitcoin has no ceiling — it’s infinite. When people ask about price target, we say “to the moon” — and nobody knows what that means. When bitcoin hit 10,000 I thought “Is this the moon?” but as the price goes up, we get happier. There is also no ceiling on happiness and we will see that continue to grow.

    This is the rhetoric of the true believer.

    Then I saw Coinbase, now I’m a believer
    Not a trace of doubt in my mind
    I’m in love … and I’m a believer
    I couldn’t leave her if I tried

    — The Monkees

      1. jrs

        The real value for crypto currencies is the ability to buy illegal things and this value is not zero. But is it really a natural monopoly? (obviously bitcoin has competitors, but it still doesn’t seem worth what it is going for).

    1. knowbuddhau

      I’m hearing Blondie. They’re in rapture. They found god. All wounds healed, all prayers answered, all blessings bestowed.

      Sounds just like a “come to Jesus” testimonial. Religious fervor for money, what could go wrong?

      Pretty plain to see there’ll be Hell to pay on the way down.

      1. JBird

        In the past twenty years, there has been the DotCom Bubble, a housing bubble, a stock market bubble, another housing bubble, the 2008 Collapse, the current stock market bubble, and now the bitcoin bubble.

        I am really not that smart. Common sense and I don’t talk, and like the rest of my family, I have the monetary sense of a drunk gerbil. Yet, none of us fell for all this. Okay, it’s true we didn’t have the money needed to fall for anything, but still I don’t recall anyone saying that they wish the money for these great investment opportunities.

        My grandparents lived through the Great Depression and made the idea of “investments” into an evil. The family did lose everything because of the 1929 Crash.

        It’s interesting that most, not all, did not see the 1929 Crash and the Great Depression coming. Somehow I don’t think that is true today, if only subconsciously.

        Ever since the protective legislation dating from the Depression was repealed and the watchdogs neutered, if not shot in the head, the bubbles have had an easier time to form. That doesn’t really explain it. I don’t think it’s just because all the survivors, and their children, are either dead, retired, or (if they can afford it) planning to retire. I don’t even think corruption has that much to do with the bubbles although it certainly has some affect. Nor does the conscious efforts of the vampire blood squids to strip as much as they can from the shrinking number of anyone with any money. Nor is it stupidity. I think people, unlike their ancestors, can see the crevasse into Hell racing into view. There is just too much money-ash smoke rising up with the financial heat waves with faint screams of the ruined. Too many homeless, un(under)employed, deplorables lie along the road. Deluded by fear these investors are hoping somehow to be among the blessed few able to acquire the money needed to be able fly over that crevasse.

        (You are all probably thinking that JBird should just tell you how he really feels. Sorry, I just survived finals and have the time to be morbidly reflective. As I do not believe in the innate stupidity of my fellow humans, I try to look for reasons other than stupidity. There is a nonstop stream of examples were cluelessness, folly, and stupidity are the reasons, but often accepting them is just lazy thinking that itself is an example of cluelessness, folly, or stupidity.)

  15. allan

    Swamp creatures are different from you and me:

    Senator John Cornyn‏ @JohnCornyn

    Under #TaxCutsandJobsAct a married couple earning $100,000 per year ($60,000 from wages, $25,000 from their non-corporate business, and $15,000 in business income) will receive a tax cut of $2,603.50, a reduction of nearly 24 percent.

    Hilarity ensues in the comments.

    Of course, it’s not just multi-millionaire politicians who are completely out of touch with the economic realities of real Americans. Here’s moderator Charlie Gibson of ABC at a Dem primary debate at St. Anselm’s College
    (a small Catholic school in NH, with salaries to match) in 2008:

    MR. GIBSON: … You’re all talking about letting some of the Bush tax cuts lapse. And yet…

    SEN. CLINTON: Yes, but, Charlie, the tax cuts on the wealthiest of Americans; not the middle-class tax cuts. One of the problems with George Bush’s tax policy has been the way he has tilted it for the wealthy and the well-connected.

    MR. GIBSON: If you take a family of two professors, here at Saint Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on.


    MR. GIBSON: And…



    SEN. CLINTON: That may be NYU, Charlie. I don’t think it’s St. Anselm. …

    When the person reading the news is more out of touch with real life than HRC, we’ve got a problem.

    1. Expat

      You would be amazed at what people think of their own wealth. Trump likes to brag that he is rich, but I bet he really feels insignificant and poor when he hears about Bill Gates or Carlos Slim. So, a pair of professors at NYU will also believe they are at best middle class with their $200k and perqs. Granted, $200k doesn’t go far in Manhattan after state, city and federal taxes.

      Drop a neutron bomb on Wall Street and you will eliminate hundreds of thousands of leeches who drive up the cost of living in Manhattan. Then you could lower the salaries of the NYU professors, or leave them and let them be rich for a change.

  16. freedeomny

    The metoo backlash – the views of the women who thought that the metoo movement will backlash is interesting in that none of the women who gave their views acknowledged or admitted to being a victim of a sexual crime or sexual abuse. I believe the majority of women know the difference between sexual abuse, sexual crimes and sexual harassment vs flirting. I also believe that women who falsely accuse will be looked upon very harshly by both men and women..that’s where the backlash will be. But is the metoo movement “just” about sexual harassment? Don’t all movements have a common denominator of “rage” against power and the status quo? How many so called “movements” have we had since 2007? – Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Resistance? All of these grew from a certain rage. Ironically, the metoo movement has resulted in tangible results – results in that some awful perpetrators have gotten “punished”. Can we say the same about Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives? To me, the metoo movement feels as a progression/and part of past and current movements…and that’s where it will be underestimated.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I suspect this ‘MeToo’ business will do a lot to help with future population problems. There are very few places — almost none — where a guy can meet a nice gal. And now its risky to make any sort of an advance without prior permission — preferably written and signed … and notarized.

      1. PKMKII

        Crazy thought, but maybe the guys who are incapable of having a sexual encounter with clear consent just shouldn’t be having sexual encounters. Seems like a good evolutionary practice.

        1. jrs

          and maybe the workplace should not be one of those places. Although of course in actuality asking a coworker for a date is not sexual harassment by any legal definition, so one is in the clear there. But I really don’t get why anyone would see the workplace as a particularly appropriate place for flirting anyway, who are these people who can’t distinguish the office from the nightclub.

          1. Alex

            You seem to live in a wonderfully structured world where all the activities are only carried out only in intended places

        2. witters

          “maybe the guys who are incapable of having a sexual encounter with clear consent just shouldn’t be having sexual encounters. Seems like a good evolutionary practice.”

          The naturalistic falllacy never dies.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          MEN: learn to read a room, pick up on social cues, or actively seek out someone with deficiencies in those same areas you do if you are so completely awkward as to make people feel unsafe. then you can bond about how you’re both so different.

          If you’re looking for women at work, you’re doing it wrong. Get some work/life balance, realize that like both Genghis Khan and your grandma you’re going to be dead someday and your money will be irrelevant, and get out of the damn office.

          JOIN THINGS AND MEET LIKE MINDED PEOPLE. Be kind. Smile at people at appropriate times and in a non-insane way. Be complimentary and take “no” for an answer. Take “maybe” as a “no” as that’s what “maybe” means. Do not attempt to “wear her down” or “win her over”. You won’t. Understand that WHAT YOU MEANT doesn’t matter 1% as much as WHAT SHE FELT and that *this is as it should be*. Move on to one of the other 3.5 billion women who exist.

          Women: Just keep protecting yourselves. None of this is your fault, regardless of what Angela Lansbury and the hand-wavers say.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I know this is now prudent advice, but I have to tell you, many women I know, including most who are happily married, met their husbands at work and started dating at work. Ruling out the workplace as a spot to meet significant others is a big negative from a societal perspective. Tons of research says that the marriages that are most likely to work out are with people from similar backgrounds.

            Moreover, as one reader pointed out, even the eye-rolling “man marries his secretary/assistant” was a source of social mobility that the new Victorians want to eliminate.

            Women are being treated like fragile flowers that can’t handle normal, and sometimes botched, advances. I don’t regard a forceable kiss as a hanging crime if the guy does it only once and is apologetic or embarrassed when he is rebuffed. As someone in I believe the Spiked article pointed out, there is a big difference between a hand on the knee and a hand up your skirt. Too many in the #MeToo crowd refuse to consider that a sexual advance is not a sexual assault, and sometimes you need to look at context to see where the boundary falls.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              When I started my working life, I was in an office with a group of people in their mid-20’s, only one of whom was married – to someone in the same profession. As a result, she frequently got the ‘how did you meet your husband?’ question. She would have to say ‘he was my college tutor’ quickly followed by ‘but he’s only 3 years older than me!’ She said it so often it became a joke in the office ‘your husband – the one who is only 3 years older than you!’

              She was an undergrad, he was a new postgrad doing tutoring, they fell in love, but years later she was still embarrassed by the implication of wrongdoing. I’d hate to see the sort of implication spread wider to the many people I’ve known who met through work.

            2. WheresOurTeddy

              Ah, I should have mentioned that these are guidelines for people under 40, or otherwise in working class positions where job security, wages, and respect for other human beings is at or near zero.

              By all means, office types, marry your secretaries. I care not. Before the internet, you usually picked from one of the limited number people in your local orbit (church, union hall, bowling league, and yes – at work). In a workplace where people are on-demand (aka no schedule I call you whenever I want and you show up), part-time, and hamsters running on a wheel to make someone else rich with little to no hope of social mobility for themselves?

              Not an ideal place to meet someone. Ideal place to get sued or fired.

              Every man in an office is not Jerry Richardson, just like women aren’t all fragile flowers.

              But a significant % of men ARE amoral monsters and not all sexual harassment is overt-hand-up-skirt. Power dynamics exist, and if you don’t think there are incentives to get extra hours next schedule if you hang out with Manager Dale after work, you’re too optimistic. I’m glad the Harvey Weinsteins and Matt Lauers are going down, but there’s 10s of thousands of Manager Dales acting with impunity. Most workplaces where people make under $15 an hour are toxic, and a non-toxic workplace where people make minimum wage is the exception to the rule.

              The social fabric is breaking down and I feel sorry for anyone under 40 who hasn’t already met their significant other. DATE OUTSIDE WORK. Your life will be easier.

          2. Oregoncharles

            “MEN: learn to read a room, pick up on social cues, or actively seek out someone with deficiencies in those same areas you do if you are so completely awkward as to make people feel unsafe. then you can bond about how you’re both so different.”

            Yves’ answer is probably better, but nonetheless: Do you have no idea how heartless this actually is? In the first place, there are men (and some women) who aren’t going to develop those skills because they can’t. What does “read a room” even mean? In the second place, the social cues around mating are intentionally ambiguous; partly because they’re a test, and partly because if women’s cues were not ambiguous, they’d be taking the initiative themselves. Men are supposed to be explicit – and take the chance of being shot down.

            There are quite enough lonely, alienated people – of both sexes, because we come in roughly equal numbers – without this kind of baloney.

            None of that ambiguity is an excuse for abusing people; we don’t need to be rude, or exploitative, or bullying. We do need to have some understanding for each other. I know men who can’t handle their assigned role at all; intermittently, I was one of them. Mostly they just withdraw, leaving a gap in the field.

            To be specific: the kind of thing Weinstein pulled, or the boss Yves mentions in another post, is another matter. It’s exploiting power because they’re sociopathic. There’s some deep biology there – that’s how it works with a lot of animals. People aren’t supposed to work that way; it violates our social contract, and we need to be on our guard against it.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I agree – people spend a lot of time together at work, its inevitable that sparks will fly occasionally. You should leave it to the good sense of people to keep it discreet and not allow it to interfere with the work situation.

              A few years ago a colleague, a widower, married one of the admin staff in our office. The first anyone knew about the romance was when they handed out the wedding invitations. Later on, another colleague admitted that she had spotted them together in a restaurant and had guessed something was up, but sensibly kept her mouth shut about it.

            2. WheresOurTeddy

              “Do you have no idea how heartless this actually is? In the first place, there are men (and some women) who aren’t going to develop those skills because they can’t.” – I’m not going to infantilize adults who can land a job but somehow magically don’t know how to act in a workplace. Hint: It’s a place for working.

              “What does “read a room” even mean?” – “Read a room” is pretty self-explanatory. Understand time and place, and whether your behavior is appropriate. Hitting on women at work is not appropriate. Generational views on this can and do vary. Mine is ascendant, yours is in decline. Mine is replacing yours and this will continue.

              “In the second place, the social cues around mating are intentionally ambiguous; partly because they’re a test, and partly because if women’s cues were not ambiguous, they’d be taking the initiative themselves. Men are supposed to be explicit – and take the chance of being shot down.” – Archaic statement, removes agency from women, makes them trophies to be pursued rather than individuals to be met, known, understood, and appreciated as equals.

              “There are quite enough lonely, alienated people – of both sexes, because we come in roughly equal numbers – without this kind of baloney.” – I disagree with what you say, therefore it is baloney. People who are lonely and alienated have never had more resources to amend those feelings, both in person and online. I am the only member of my family to escape from a cult I was raised in. This comment box isn’t sufficient to hold all the lonliness and alienation felt by me from age 0-15. BUCK UP.

              “None of that ambiguity is an excuse for abusing people; we don’t need to be rude, or exploitative, or bullying. We do need to have some understanding for each other. I know men who can’t handle their assigned role at all; intermittently, I was one of them. Mostly they just withdraw, leaving a gap in the field.” – I’m not abusing people. I’m trying to help them. Evidently my advice wasn’t gauzy enough. Men need to adapt. It’s not easy. Few things in life worth doing are.

              “To be specific: the kind of thing Weinstein pulled, or the boss Yves mentions in another post, is another matter. It’s exploiting power because they’re sociopathic. There’s some deep biology there – that’s how it works with a lot of animals. People aren’t supposed to work that way; it violates our social contract, and we need to be on our guard against it.” – Totally agree.

      2. das monde

        #MeToo is unkind to the women whose sex drive is fully awakened only with some bit of domination, or if asking for consent extinguishes her desire. How she would get a guy with those regulations? If this sex-pert is right, that is a factor for all women. De-sexualization of humanity?

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Don’t kid yourself, there is no more “flirting”. If I was in America I would no sooner tell an American gender Taliban woman “you look nice today” than I would refuse to comply with an American stormtrooper policeman who had stopped me in the street. The act of resisting the stormtrooper in any way in his duties is now itself a crime, absent any other suspected or actual lawbreaking event. Similarly, the act of approaching a woman for the purposes of establishing a relationship in order to procreate the species is now proscribed by this new societal code, and transgression apparently may even have real legal consequences. What a sad and scary place.

      1. Joel

        I’ve lived in a lot of countries. American women outside of university-land are a lot more approachable and less standoff-ish than women in a lot of other countries precisely because there’s less harassment and less judgement.

        It takes readjustment when I first get back to the US and strange women are starting conversations with me out of the blue, because of course, why not? Why should anyone make any assumptions because a woman starts a conversation with a man? And yet in much of the world, there would be a LOT of assumptions.

    3. Mike Mc

      ^This x1000. Women like my wife – three degrees, community oriented, passionate about helping people where they are – have HAD IT. Expect another Women’s March in January only larger and louder.

      People in various strata of society can manage to avoid The Blahs, or the poor, or the cops… unlikely unless you are a monk to avoid women. Even some of the fervent Trumpist/anti-abortion/Southern Baptist types are going to be thinking about the power men have over their lives now.

    4. C Clark

      I agree. The #Metoo movement is about more than the extremely disturbing problem of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. And this “backlash” will do nothing to stop it because the time has come for things to change. There are indeed people who are offended by the sight of women who have been raped, abused and threatened coming forward to tell their stories, which is what the #Metoo movement epitomizes. Most appear to be confused about the difference between consensual sex and non-consensual sex. Hint: the former is great; the latter is just flat-out wrong.

      Chris Hedges wrote a superb article entitled, A Women’s Revolt that Targets Far More than Sexual Abuse. An excerpt:

      The press, trumpeting the lurid and salacious details of the sexual assault charges brought against powerful men, has missed the real story—the widespread popular revolt led by women, many of whom have stood up, despite vicious attacks and the dictates of legally binding nondisclosure agreements, to denounce the entitlement of the corporate and political elites. This women’s revolt is not solely about sexual abuse. It is about fighting a corporate power structure that institutionalizes and enables misogyny, racism and bigotry. It is about rejecting the belief that wealth and power give the elites the right to engage in economic, political, social and sexual sadism. It challenges the twisted ethic that those who are crushed and humiliated by the rich, the famous and the powerful have no rights and no voice. Let’s hope this is the beginning, not the end.
      …“We have been told for over 25 years that all that matters is wealth,” said (Lee) Lakeman. “All that matters is what neoliberalism says matters. We have been told our movements are ineffective. They can’t make anything happen, whether that is peace on a global scale or peace between men and women. What’s going on right now tells women maybe we can make a difference.”

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I have to tell you, this is false. Go read any of the articles, in particular the ones written by women. I challenge you to find ones that are about pay and authority in the workplace. They are about sexual transgressions, many of which I don’t see as worth getting exercised about (the ones in the one-off inept pass category, where the guy realized he’d gotten it wrong and never tried again). And I’m not about to belabor the details, but it is because I have been sexually harassed (and I don’t mean the “gee what a pretty dress” sort, I mean a boss making it very clear he wanted sex from me and engineering me being in a situation where it would be physically difficult to escape) that I have little sympathy for treating all male sexual advances as if they were abuse.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      You aren’t up to speed on the viewpoints of many of the new gender police. One view that some advocate with complete sincerity is that if a woman initiates sex with a man, but six months later decides she was in a bad space psychologically back then and was making bad decisions, that encounter was rape.

      Similarly, Prince Charming giving Snow White a peck on the lips while she was asleep was sexual assault.

      1. Joel

        Isn’t that just stemming from a very old Andrea Dworkin-style interpretation whereby all sex under “patriarchy” is rape the same way that all sex between prison guards and inmates is rape?

        Those ideas have never gotten traction outside of academia and I don’t think they will now.

  17. petal

    A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses is Lifted

    “Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal.

    Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks.

    Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine.

    Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.”

    1. Oregoncharles

      Some of that work is mind-bogglingly, criminally reckless. There’s no such thing as perfect containment; all systems, especially people, have a failure rate. And if it fails, we have another 1917 flu pandemic, because that’s what they engineered.

      Seriously: I don’t care what the justification is, that research should be a felony. And here we are having a “serious” discussion about whether to fund it.

    1. Alfred

      The interviewer (in the white jacket) I believe is Dutch journalist Tom Staal. He is speaking the sort of Dutch one would expect to hear in Amsterdam, though he is reportedly from Utrecht. He seems to have sought out English-speaking or Dutch-speaking officials to interview. Some of the Dutch-speaking ones, notably I’d say the short guy in the blue jacket in the parking garage, do sound to me to be Flemish.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Led by Dianne Feinstein, Democrats are exploiting Russiagate to eliminate the political opposition to their left. The innuendo spread against Stein and the Green Party contains all the classical elements of McCarthyism.

    A little party-take-over is a dangerous. Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

    Alarmed at being stabbed in their neoliberal back, they are doubling down, making sure 2016 doesn’t happen again.

    “Are we better or worse off, now vs. 15 months ago?”

  19. Expat

    Re: Susan Collins, tax reform and voters
    She doesn’t care. She will either get re-elected or retire. Her base is incapable of understanding the bill or refuses to believe it is anything but a great idea. Collins knows this and used her recalcitrance not as a means of changing a truly heinous piece of legislation but as means to blackmail the leadership into putting some pork in there for her. She will tell her voters that she cut taxes AND brought home more money for them.
    Bring on the asteroid, baby.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You haven’t been in the US in years and you have no business spouting uninformed and unhelpful views. Our house rules state:

      You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

      You wrong re her voters. People showed up in her office in Maine and later in DC to protest. That’s unheard of, plus also implies that she got a lot of unhappy phone calls. Maine is poor but skews educated.

      And we are also not big on readers advocating apathy. That’s one of the reason we are in the mess we are in, people like you rationalizing inaction. You are also accumulating troll points.

      1. Expat

        I apologize for the tone of my post but stand by the content. In this day and age, distance is no hindrance to keeping informed about the US and even a place like Maine. I don’t advocate apathy but I don’t believe a few phone calls or a handful of protestors will make a difference. I have written letters and made calls over the years, even recently.

        Collins is in a very safe seat and is not up for re-election until 2020. She has a track record of being strongly in favor of tax cuts for middle class and rich. Maine is a conservative state whether or not it has an independent streak.

        My argument is not apathy but education. Collins is not the one who needs to be educated. She knows exactly what she is doing and what 79% of the voters in her state want (or think they want). The calls need to be made to the voters.

        The old saying in Washington was that the only way for a senator to lose his seat was to be found with a dead girl or a live boy. Will her supporters remember the concessions (“promises”) she received or simply that she voted yes. And will they care by then?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You just proved my point. Maine is NOT a conservative state. You forget that I have ancestors from there that go back to as soon as the state was settled, visited there regularly my entire life, and still have family there. None of them are rich. My uncle was below the poverty line for year before he died. My cousin once removed is a lobster fisherman. One of my cousins up there is a retired nurse. Along the coast (and the locals on the coast struggle usually with 2-3 jobs in the summer to tide them through the winter), people skew left. Maine also has universities as significant employers, and even university towns. I don’t know the politics of the unorganized territories as well, but the bulk of the population of Maine lives not very far from the coast.

          It has been voting in Republicans of late to put a finger in the eye of Dems who have decided to throw any place not urban or suburban under the bus. Collins is a Senator because she is just about the last Javits Republican, which is policy-wise now to the left of the Democratic Party.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > Maine is a conservative state whether or not it has an independent streak.

          Maine is actually a large state (by New England standards) and not at all politically homogenous.

          The Portland area is quite liberal, and even includes some leftists. The back-to-the-landers in the Belfast area in the Unity College environs has more leftists, albeit of a different flavor. The mill towns in the forest industries areas used to be solid union and solid Democrat — albeit corrupt Democrats — until deindustrialization completely screwed them over (and there are no jobs any more). The guys with beards in the woods in the unorganized territories skew libertarian, as they would, but you can talk to them about single payer, because they know from the military it works. Potato country is dirt poor and does, as you say, rely on bringing home the pork (hence follow that aspect of politics closely, and are “capable of understanding” it).

          If there’s a common thread to Maine thinking about Senators, it’s that we like Senators who can play both sides off against each other and bring home benefits to Maine; that’s what the “Maine Girls,” Snowe and Collins, have always done. I think that’s what Collins thinks she has done; whether she has done that is another question.

          One big problem, IMNSHO, is that the Democrats in Maine exhibit the bad characteristics of the Democrat establishment nationally (Emily Cain, after her debacle vs. Bruce Poliquin, failed upward and became director of Emily’s List). They’re corrupt, and unwilling to admit their corruption or purge themselves of it; they have nothing to say to the flyover communities damaged by neoliberal epidemics (Maine has a big opoiod problem); and their self-regard as self-appointed, fingerwagging guardians of virtue seems to be without limit.

          I think a Democrat who ran a full-throated populist campaign would clean up, even against Collins, but the Maine Democrats of this world will do everything in their power to prevent that. Hopefully, continued losses will teach them a lesson.

  20. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    [the article on newly-released nuke footage]

    It’s 1962 and the civil rights movement is gaining steam. You’re planning a nuclear bomb test. So you decide to code name it: Harlem?

    And you name another one Turk?

    Why mess around, just name the first one “Niggahs” and the second one “Muslims”

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      One imagines characters akin to Matt Damon in The Good Shepherd informing all those who aren’t in the Big Club “This is our country, we just let you live here.”

  21. Jean

    Divorce making American families bigger–

    “The proliferation of stepchildren, half-siblings, and other extended relationships has important implications for how American families function.”

    Not mentioned, the huge financial advantage of everyone sharing a large home. Every extra person living in a preexisting living situation has practically no incremental cost beyond utilities used. That has to be hurting marketers of everything except shelf organizers.

    The lesson here is that like-minded strangers and friends can heavily discount their cost of living through group living arrangements.

  22. human

    “Amtrak train derails”

    The Mrs just came back from a 10 day stay with the eldest daughter in Florida. She was gobsmacked by the 70mph speed limits, confused tourists crossing traffic lanes heedlessly and the number of people with just poor driving habits and/or ability. It is a wonder that there aren’t more traffic deaths, but, put (I assume) state of the art technology into a high end system and find that it performs even worse?

    I don’t have the words.

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