Link 1/9/18

It Snowed in the Sahara and the Photos Are Breathtaking Earther (David L)

States Confront the Spread of a Deadly Disease in Deer New York Times

A Game of Civilization May Help People Understand AI’s Existential Threat MIT Technology Review (David L)

The quantum computing apocalypse is imminent Tech Crunch (Chris M)

A Crypto Website Changes Its Data, and $100 Billion in Market Value Vanishes Wall Street Journal

Pole-dancing robot STRIPPERS are in Las Vegas to spice up the geeky CES tech conference Mirror Online (resilc)

First Came the Snow Bomb, Now Comes the Salt Bomb Bloomberg

Parliament Proposes ‘Latte Levy’ to Curb England’s Cup Waste Grub Street (J-LS). About time. There are, among other options, perfectly fine collapsable cups.

New approach can save up to 95 percent of energy used for pipelines PhysOrg. Chuck L: “This approach might also reduce pipeline failures by minimizing pressure spikes.”

Swallowable sensors reveal mysteries of human gut health TechXplore (Chuck L)


Making China Great Again New Yorker (Bill B)

Australia’s hard choice between China and US Asia Times

Koreas reach symbolic breakthrough for Winter Olympics Financial Times

Continent desperately seeking inflation Politico


David Davis attacks EU’s ‘damaging’ no-deal Brexit planning Financial Times. If Davis spent as much time on negotiations as he does trying to shift blame, the UK would be much further along than it is.

Plus see this tweet, courtest guurst:

Theresa May’s Cabinet Reboot Descends Into Chaos Bloomberg

D-Day Venezuela Project Syndicate. Lambert: “Hoo boy.”


Pakistan Will Try to Make Trump Pay Atlantic. Bill B: “Pakistan is too dangerous to fail.” From the article:

Pakistan believes it has effectively bribed the international community with the specter that any instability could result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear technology, fissile materials, or a weapon.

Pakistan’s Asymmetrical Response To Trump Is A Clever Way To Flip The Tables On Afghanistan Oriental Review (TYJ)

Netanyahu son bragged about gas deal outside strip club, tape reveals Guardian (Scott)

‘God Help Us if This Gets Out’: The Full Transcript of Yair Netanyahu’s Wild Tel Aviv Night Haaretz. Lambert: “Holy moley.”

Trump Transition

Russia probe: Trump lawyers ‘in talks over Mueller interview’ BBC

Genius Trump unveils general theory of pussytivity Daily Mash

Yes, The Trump Cease & Desist Letter Over The Bannon Book Is Stupid Above the Law

Tax “Reform”

How Progressive States Could Fight Back Against the Republican Tax Scam Dean Baker, Truthout

Pfizer, pocketing a big tax cut from Trump, will end investment in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research Los Angeles Times (resilc)

Regulators kill Perry’s proposal to prop up coal, nuclear power plants The Hill. A rare victory for the public.

I Can’t Believe I Have to Explain Why Oprah Shouldn’t Be President VICE (resilc). Hopefully this is just the bad political idea of the week.

The Oprah 2020 Hype Reveals Democrats’ Existential Crisis Vanity Fair (resilc). Ahem, the real issue with Sanders is not his age, as we all know, but that he is not a candidate of the Dem donor class.

How The FBI and DOJ Intelligence Units Were Weaponized Around Congressional Oversight… The Last Refuge. Chuck L:

I’ve never encountered this site before but from this post it does seem a case is building that senior Obama administration people, some of whom are still in office, were illegally driving the use of intelligence community capabilities to spy on the Trump campaign and transition team. It will be interesting to hear what Admiral Rogers has to say under oath after he is safely retired into civilian life.

New Jersey Prisons End Ban On ‘The New Jim Crow’ After ACLU Protests Huffington Post (Chuck L)

Fake News

How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us Washington Monthly. I would take this with a fistful of salt. From an early investor who therefore has a bias to believe that FB has political influence, as opposed to at most reinforces people’s priors. Cooler heads who have actually read the studies, such as Masha Gessen, take the opposite view, that FB didn’t affect the outcome of the 2018 election. And as Marina Bart explained, consumer advertising and political persuasion are very different processes, and regarding them as the same or even similar is wrongheaded.

Sanders Family Disputes Report of Escalating Burlington College Probe Off Message (resilc). Read to the end. This report forced a correction of the hit piece.

Congratulations to Kim Kardashian Angry Bear

Retail Investors Finally “Up To Their Chest” in Stocks, Become True Believers with Record Exposure Wolf Street (EM)

Markets are ignoring ‘major risk’ of rising interest rates and end of QE, warns Citigroup Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Class Warfare

The False Promises of Worker Retraining Atlantic (resilc)

Churchill’s genius was understanding how to keep working-class radicalism in check Paul Mason, Guardian (JTM). Weird headline that misrepresents Churchill’s priorities.

The New Gilded Age: First Time Arrogance, the Second Time Vengeance Counterpunch

A Missouri Dollar General Voted to Unionize — Then a Manager at Another Store Asked About It and Was Fired Intercept (resilc)

Amazon makes list of large companies with workers receiving food stamps Columbus Dispatch. Resilc: “Bezos looked great at the Golden Globes.”

Google accused of discriminating against white male conservatives Financial Times. Since when are “conservatives” a legally protected group? However, this case looks to be about damaging Google in discovery rather than winning.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Sea jellies at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Long Beach, California.”

And a bonus from Margarita:

A pair of peacocks near Leipzig.

The lady says: “Can you spell ‘not interested….?'”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With guns, it’s like the way the FDA approves a new drug (opioid or otherwise) – acceptable losses.

        Well, not quite exactly, but who wants to be an acceptable loss? And how does one know if one takes a new medicine, nothing bad will not happen?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s snowing now, and it will rain later.

      With Global Warming, it has been reported that the desert will be green again.

      1. Aumua

        I’m pretty sure the general prognosis is that deserts will expand, although in some particular cases they might become less desert.

  1. Jeff

    US warcrimes at MoA.
    Chelsea Manning faced many years of prison for handing over videos of US war crimes to wikileaks, but that is so yesterday.
    Now, directly available from Youtube and Facebook. Soon in a theatre near you.

    PS To my knowledge, president DJ Trump is in no way involved in this, nor any Russian trolls or bots.

  2. timbers

    Pakistan’s Asymmetrical Response To Trump Is A Clever Way To Flip The Tables On Afghanistan Oriental Review (TYJ)

    I’m not sure what amazes me most regarding U.S. aggression, imperialism, trouble making around the world:

    A): That it has not occurred to the U.S. that other nations like Pakistan/Turkey/Iran/Russia have asymmetrical responses available to inflict great harm to the U.S. (like arming the Taliban for example) or….

    B): That is has not occurred to nations like Pakistan/Turkey/Iran/Russia that they have lots of asymmetrical responses to U.S. aggression to inflict great harm to U.S.

    1. Sam Adams

      … Or that the USA hasn’t full-on used old Roman war tactics and opened the temple doors: poison the wells, destroy the countryside, deport the country. Empires and their industries must feed.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      If the expulsion of Afghan nationals from the Pashtun regions of Pakistan was long planned, and just stepped up for impact, then plenty of people at the State department knew it was coming. That information may even have been transmitted to the administration (despite its best efforts to ignore all things State).

      I doubt Trump cares if he precipitates a humanitarian refugee crisis, and I’m not sure it will do his administration any harm if one occurs. He would probably love to have an excuse to exit Afghanistan while declaring victory, and if this mass influx of refugees occurs, it’s possible that the gravy train boys of Northern Virginia may finally want to clear out as well. Trump had been kept there as much by his MIC connections, and his debts to them, as anything.

      The idea that it’s a ‘loss’ for Trump, or the U.S., if he’s “chased out” of Afghanistan this way seems weakly supported by fact. Any excuse to get us out of there is a clear win for the American people, and the Tweeter-in-chief probably knows this on some level. He is something of an idiot-savant when it comes to these kinds of evil calculations.

      1. Epynonymous

        If corporations have no borders, why must people be stuck to the land of their birth? A question worth asking in this day and age.

        1. John k

          Few, if any, are stuck to the land of their birth since the fall of the soviets.
          Problem is getting permission of the place you want to move to… seems reasonable for the receiving country to have a say.
          Part of trumps appeal was is to restrict immigration.

    3. a different chris

      >it has not occurred to the U.S. that other nations like Pakistan/Turkey/Iran/Russia have asymmetrical responses available to inflict great harm

      ?? It has occurred to the US that whether they do or not, fear-mongering about it protects the incomprehensible amount of money that we spend on “defense”.

  3. allan

    “Sanders Family Disputes Report of Escalating Burlington College Probe”

    A few months ago I went to an event celebrating freedom of the press and the importance of investigative journalism. A well known, award-winning reporter was there to give a talk with time for some Q&A.
    It rapidly degenerated into an anti-Trump, pro-Clinton fest, but I was really taken aback by the hostility
    the reporter (whose politics on economic issues are probably progressive)
    showed towards both Bernie and Jane Sanders.
    The reporter ended up saying that Jane should be prosecuted for her actions at the college.

    Given the reporter’s reputation, I walked out the door totally confused whether there was some substance
    to the charges or whether Sanders Derangement Syndrome is simply the price of admission into Clinton Land.

    1. timbers

      Glad it looks like that report isn’t accurate, wasn’t happy when I saw that headline.

      The spectacle of prosecuting the Sanders while Hillary at Sect of State and her Foundation go untouched is jaw dropping.

      Assange said he does not believe Hillary’s claim she was unaware of the email classification system (thus technically did not break the law) because he’s released many emails with Hillary’s signature using the classification system. If true, she probably lied to the FBI when she said she didn’t know about the email classification system. It’s hard to believe the FBI is not aware of this.

      But look who’s being prosecuted for lying to the FBI – and who is not.

      1. crittermom

        “The spectacle of prosecuting the Sanders while Hillary at Sect of State and her Foundation go untouched is jaw dropping.”

        I totally agree.
        Sadly, it’s not surprising.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          And they’re going after Bernie’s wife, for something he wasn’t really involved in. I haven’t read up on this in depth, but from what I can tell there was no deliberate crime committed here – the most they have against her is that she made some bad managerial moves, which might be the case. But since when does that put one under the microscope like this?

          If that sort of incompetence were actually a crime, then we could really clean house and get rid of all the MBAs calling the shots and making a mess of pretty much everything they get their hands on all across the country. Would that it were so…

    2. L

      At this point I’d say its just the mass response to Trump. I still encounter hardened Democratic tribalists who want to remind me how Nader was the true cause of the Iraq war and how he should never have been “allowed” to run. So the same goes with Sanders.

      From what I have read of the story her actions were at worst bad management by overextension. That is hardly criminal, that isn’t even Whitewater.

    3. RUKidding

      Can’t say for sure bc I wasn’t at that event, but it sounds more like Sanders Derangement Syndrome.

      There are certain putatively leftish websites that I no longer visit bc the Sanders Derangement Syndrome is simply beyond the pale. And I’m equally sick & tired of hearing how Ralph Nader caused W to “win” the election. Eh? No, no he didn’t. It was stolen by the Bush Crime Syndicate and bc Al Gore blinked.

      Most anti-Sanders sentiments fall into a similar camp. It’s all about dissing Sanders (and, by extension, his wife) in order to prop up She Who Must Be Obeyed (with apologies to John Mortimer).

    4. dcblogger

      Maybe you are wrong. Maybe the Bernie people are living with what the Clintons and their supporters have been living with anytime since 1992. We don’t attack on policy anymore, or even character assassination, nowadays we just make allegations and launch politically motivated investigations.

    5. Jen

      That’s all they’ve got?
      A rehash of allegations that, at worst, show Jane Sanders to be a garden variety college administrator? That’s it?
      All the opposition research that money can buy, and this is all they can come up with?

      I’m quaking in my boots./s

  4. Jim Haygood

    From the HuffPo article linked above:

    Michelle Alexander’s 2012 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness had been off limits to inmates as a matter of policy at New Jersey state prisons.

    The state Department of Corrections lifted the ban after the ACLU chapter on Monday demanded that access to the book be granted to inmates in the state, which the group said has the worst U.S. black-white incarceration disparity.

    The New Jim Crow chronicles how people of color are shut out of society by mass incarceration,” the letter states. “That the very prisoners who experience the worst racial disparity in incarceration in the country should be prohibited from reading a book whose precise purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity adds insult to injury.”

    NJ can’t handle the truth. Five years ago I came across Michelle Alexander’s book in the new releases section of an NJ public library and thought it kicked ass.

    Nixon and Agnew designed the War on Drugs to target minorities without explicitly mentioning race. Nearly a half century on, the War on Drugs is the greatest crypto-racist scam in US history.

    Spend a day in any NJ municipal court and you’ll witness a dreary procession of defendants charged with small-time possession and paraphernalia cases, being processed through the system like cattle through an abattoir. This is the mailed fist of blue-state liberalism [sic], keeping the lower orders in their places in the same way that Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” did in NYC. /sarc

    1. marym

      A new program in New York is severely restricting the books available to people in prison

      Directive 4911A, which was issued last month, currently applies to three prisons in the state and could be expanded to every facility in New York. The plan limits packages that incarcerated people in New York state prisons can receive to items purchased from six vendors (with two more expected to be added)….

      …The first five vendors combined offered just five romance novels, 14 religious texts, 24 drawing or coloring books, 21 puzzle books, 11 how-to books, one dictionary, and one thesaurus. Last week, the state appeared to add a sixth vendor, but the full catalog doesn’t appear to be available to people in prison…

      Books aren’t the only thing limited by the new directive. It also means that people in prison will not be allowed packages of fresh produce, their visitors will no longer be allowed to bring gifts, and, as Books Through Bars put it in their statement, “small businesses are dismissed in favor of exploitative prison industry businesses.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Keeping the prison pipeline full:

        (Oct 24, 2017) Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would decriminalize certain gravity knives for the second year running on Monday night, to the chagrin of police reform advocates and the knife lobby, who both say the rules on the books are arcane and punitive.

        Critics in New York City say the current law, signed in 1958, falls unfairly on chefs and other tradespeople, who use folding knives for work and can purchase them easily in hardware stores.

        The Legal Aid Society recently reviewed cases where a client was arrested for gravity knife possession between July and December 2015, and found that 84 percent of those prosecuted were black or Hispanic.

        Cuomo: New York’s George Wallace.

      2. blennylips

        Books and gifts are not the only things newly disappearing!

        The “press” has been “mocking” this birdie up for us. I just asked the googlag what the top results were for skype prison visits

        Want to visit your loved one in jail? How about Skype instead?
        Jul 25, 2017 – A jail in the US has taken its embrace of technology a little too far by putting an end to in-person visits – and requiring family members to video conference with their locked-up loved ones instead. Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, of Bristol County, Massachusetts, took the decision to end face time at his Dartmouth cooler – and …

        ‘Some prisoners should be able to Skype family,’ says review
        / › Society › Prisons and probation
        Aug 9, 2017 – Video calling technology should be made available to some prisoners so that they can stay in touch with family members unable to visit them, a review ordered by the government has suggested. So-called “virtual visits” should be offered to inmates whose relatives are unable to attend jail because of illness, distance or …

        The end of American prison visits: jails end face-to-face contact > US News › Louisiana
        Dec 9, 2017 – $12.99 per call. In-person visits used to be free. Under the new system, in-person visits are no longer allowed. Instead, all visits now must be done by video, either from a smartphone, computer, or at an offsite location.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Arizona prisons have a similar policy, though it provides a lot more options than that – Barnes & Noble, IIRC. There is obviously some graft going on; I’m surprised they’re willing to be so obvious about it

        1. JBird

          Surprised?? This is nothing.

          There are umpteen examples of graft, kickbacks, bribes, theft, perjury, blackmail, falsified reports, falsified lab results, false arrests, false charges, false citations, illegal interrogations, planting of evidence, beatings, torture, deaths from beatings and torture, and outright murder caught on video. In court records, lawsuits, and news stories. And nothing happens. The get away with it. In Federal, State, and municipal legal systems across the country.

          So why should they even try to hide this particular example of greed? Claim the need for safety or some other cow flop. It’s SOP. What are the inmates and their families going to do? Complain?

  5. Wukchumni

    Pole-dancing robot STRIPPERS are in Las Vegas to spice up the geeky CES tech conference Mirror Online
    Suggested pick up line:

    “I’d like to take you home to meet my mainframe.”

    1. fresno dan

      January 9, 2018 at 9:03 am

      baby, when I look at you my floppy turns into a hard drive….

    2. paul

      Alexa: I’d like a meaningful,short term, fulfilling relationship without the messy (‘fuzzy’ AI) stuff
      Alexa: OK, so you’d like some wet wipes and porn?

  6. The Rev Kev

    D-Day Venezuela

    Ever since the debacle in Iraq, I have learnt a valuable lesson and it is this. If someone is trying to get a big country to militarily attack and invade their own country which will lead automatically to the destruction of their homeland and the deaths of thousands or tens of thousands of their fellow citizens then that is all you need to know. Remember how Ahmed Chalabi helped push the US to invade his own country of Iraq so that he and his associates could seize power and wealth for themselves? How much blood was on his hands?
    Does Ricardo Hausmann hope that he will get a cushy job in the post-invasion of his country? That because of his Harvard background, that they will make him the head of their economy? Does he really think that US troops would be welcomed as an invasion force? Didn’t the Iraqi exiles say that “People will greet the [U.S.] troops with sweets and flowers.”? And instead got IEDs? Venezuela has some 31 million people spread over nearly a million square kilometers. Anybody here want to guess the chances of the US occupying that successfully? How right Lambert was to say “Hoo boy!”

    1. Louis Fyne

      This is what I absolutely hate about US foreign policy in the developing world—it’s being used to settle political scores/drive agenda’s of other country’s elites (see Chalabi, see the reasonable hypothesis that one factor in Syrian meddling is pipeline economics).

      In this context, I’m all for cranking “America First” up to 11. ymmv.

      1. djrichard

        Chicken and egg problem. US wants regime change in X country: “But how to fill the resulting vacuum? We would need another regime to take its place. Hmm, who to pick, who to pick?”

    2. lyman alpha blob

      It was difficult to take that article seriously after the intro:

      …military intervention by a coalition of regional forces may be the only way to end a man-made famine threatening millions of lives.

      Really!?!?!? But I guess when you look at every problem as a nail and you only have a hammer….

      One would think that maybe having a coalition of regional forces, oh I don’t know, delivering food, might be a better option when people are going hungry.

      That and kicking the CIA and USAid out of the country and jailing them if they don’t leave voluntarily.

    3. KFritz

      Questions and thoughts. Is the situation in Venezuela as dire as the article claims? Is the upper echelon of the military actually so rotten? Are any humanitarian organizations proposing operations to feed the people of Venezuela? Geopolitically, Cuba is joined at the hip to Venezuela–what are the implications for Cuba and its reliance on Venezuela for petroleum?

  7. pretzelattack

    oh next we get to look forward to invading venezuela. purely for humanitarian reasons of course. and then we will have to decide, in a humanitarian way, what to do with their oil.

  8. edemondo

    Ahem, the real issue with Sanders is not his age, as we all know, but that he is not a candidate of the Dem donor class.

    You sure about the “not his age” thing? Most 80 year-olds would make terrible presidents. Bernie may have been first but I find it hard to believe that no one else can see the power sitting on the floor ready to be scooped up.
    And no, Bernie will NOT be the nominee in 2020 — at least he won’t be the Democratic Party nominee.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What I don’t understand is why one of these Democrat donors not just decide to nominate themselves as the candidate for the Democratic Party? Cut out the middle men/women and run the damn show themselves? To keep the party happy, they could nominate a political flake as Vice-Presidential candidate, someone like Kamala Harris. As long as this donor is paying the bills and the party consultants, the Democrats would be cool with it. After all, its not like they are trying to win any elections or anything.

      1. drupe

        Some of the billionaire donors are thinking precisely this after seeing Trump win the presidency. Based on what I have read, it seems like the big downside in their mind is that it is harder to wield power as the President because of public scrutiny than it is to wield power as they currently do “in the shadows” and away from any public scrutiny.

      2. 3.14e-9

        Tom Steyer most certainly is considering it.

        Democratic Megadonor Tom Steyer Still Isn’t Ruling Out a 2020 Run
        The former hedge-fund manager is making a populist pitch, but hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to seek public office.
        (Atlantic, Sept. 23, 2017)

        Tom Steyer, California Billionaire, Says He Won’t Run for Office in 2018
        (Variety, Jan. 8, 2018)

        “Steyer is also cited as a prospect for a 2020 presidential bid, although he said that he was focused on the midterms.

        Asked whether he could support someone like Oprah Winfrey, who is reportedly considering a bid, Steyer said that he watched her speech on his phone on Monday morning. “It was a fantastic speech,” he said. But he added that he was not concentrating on anything “starting on Nov. 7, 2018,” the day after the midterm elections.”

        1. audrey jr

          That Steyer wants to run for whatever is a giant “tell.” Billionaire/Populist” is the definition of oxymoron.

    2. drupe

      I think people can see “the power sitting on the floor”, but the issue is that he is the only person on the left (and I am not counting most Democratic Party office holders as the left) with enough visibility, past track record, and experience to be credible. I would run for some office but the levers of electoral power are largely closed to outsiders who do not have establishment backing. I am certain there are many others who feel the same.

      1. RUKidding

        This! Combined with the glaringly obvious FACT that the D Party does NOT, mostly, do anything to develop a back bench… unlike a certain other party, who shall go unmentioned, except to say that their name begins with “R.”

        Wonder why THAT is? Maybe the Ds simply just don’t feel like winning at anything. Just collect the money and pass go and go home count up the payola, maybe.

    3. rd

      The primary reason I would not vote for Sanders is his age. In general, I think positions like Presidents of nations and CEOs of large companies should be people in their late 40s, 50s, and 60s. We need vibrant, agile minds with stamina and experience. The people in their 70s with good cognitive skills play very important roles as advisors and should not be discarded.

      1. tegnost

        oh really, and what is it about the early 40’s, early 50’s and early 60’s that you don’t like?
        ” We need vibrant, agile minds with stamina and experience”
        so this is what you’re replacing the discredited term “smart” with?
        And by the way bernie has a vibrant agile mind with stamina and experience while the current placeholder for the grifting classes, joe biden, doesn’t strike me as meeting any of your required intangible qualities, so who is your alternative choice?

      2. crittermom

        While ideally, a younger version of Bernie would be preferable, I would still vote for him. I value policies over age. It is already 2018 & I see no one else with Bernie’s strong commitments to benefit the majority of citizens.

        Regarding stamina & an agile mind, he has continued traveling around the country since the election, still pushing for those things he believes in for all of us. He hasn’t slowed down (which no doubt concerns/surprises/disappoints the Dem party, so they must destroy him personally).

        I believe he would need a strong (& yes, younger) like-minded running mate to counter the age argument.

        Originally I may have supported Elizabeth Warren for that position, but when she jumped on Hellary’s money wagon so early on, she lost my respect.
        I’m sure there are even better candidates for that position, however, & believe Bernie still has the stamina to handle four years as POTUS.

        Having four more years of what we currently have scares me much more than any age factor in regards to Bernie.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          1 “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

          2. Don’t under-estimate your opponents or the rich donors.

          Given the above, it’s possible they run another Trojan Horse progressive-sounding candidate, with similar (or exact) positions.

          If they don’t do it in 2020 (perhaps 2016 was surprising and they were fooled once), we have to wonder why.

        2. John k

          Yes, yes and yes.
          A younger man with the wrong policies took us into the Iraq war.
          The last younger fellow bailed out corrupt bankers, destroyed Libya, tried to cut the auto stabilizers like socia security, ignored the opioid epidemic, and diligently promoted neolib policies that promote inequality.
          I would so much rather have an older fellow that has, throughout his career, promoted policies that would benefit the working class.

      3. Massinissa

        Wake me up when there is a candidate who has the same policy stances as Bernie but is 20 years younger. Until then, I would rather vote for an old man with decent policy stances than a young neoliberal sellout just because of his or her youth.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The campaign itself will be an endurance test…what, over 12 to 15 months?

      And if he takes the lead initially, a crowded field will be ganging up on him, with tricks to siphon off his voters so that he can’t win on the first ballot, and the nomination becomes brokered, should that become necessary.

      A lingering question might be this: Is he going to be a Democrat every 4 years, reverting to Independent status in-between? What is so, well, inconvenient or shameful about staying on as one? (hint: plenty of reasons to be shameful for being a D politician…and therefore, also for being its nominee, as well?).

      Is it going to be, ‘Excuse me, can I borrow your car? I don’t really like that model, but I, me and myself need it.’

      (And which Democrats in Congress will not try to undermine him once he’s in? They will have their own agendas. But this is a different issue.)

      1. Mac na Michomhairle

        You’re right; he’s old and hopeless, and he borrowed the DemoMobile for some strange reason, instead of saving and buying his own wheels. Cheesh!

        In fact, it’s all hopeless.

        Let’s go back to telling each other online about how things should really be, if only all those others out there would see things right..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s something to keep an eye on – the last time, he had (why?) to check with Schumer (and maybe others) in order to run as a Democrat.

          Why? And why not in 2020?

          (It gave the impression of borrowing someone else’s car).

      2. Jen

        By my estimation, he’s hasn’t stopped running since 2015, and shows no signs of slowing down. I’m 25 years his junior and just reading about his schedule tires me out. As to siphoning off his voters, the more crowded the field, the more likely diluted the opposition, particularly when that opposition consists of poll-testing focus-grouping tools.

        Interesting discussion within my local “D” group recently about how to reach out to progressive voters when the “D” brand is so toxic. And this is in the bluest part of my purple state. They concluded that the should start talking about policy.

        The plural of anecdote not being data, the first reaction of my suburban republican moderate faceborg friends to Opra 2020 was: where is she on policy?

    5. Darius

      So the donor class is coughing up Joe Biden. And any suggestion he is too old is ageism and so not woke. Anyone supporting Bernie over Joe is just a sexist ageist privileged white man. Even if they’re not, supporting Bernie makes them so. It just does. Ask Briahna Joy Gray.

    6. gregL

      “the real issue with Sanders is not his age, as we all know, but that he is not a”


      Well he is a carpetbagger Democrat. He takes the allegiance when it profits him and walks away otherwise.

      Oh, and I agree, his age is an issue.

      1. Darius

        A Democrat is anyone who qualifies for the primary ballot. The Democrats are not a membership organization and don’t charge dues.

          1. scoff

            Some are leap-year Democrats.

            That’s about how often I can stomach it, but Bernie is precisely the prescription this country needs.

    7. 3.14e-9

      Bernie’s reprise as a D in 2020 has been discussed in recent threads, the conclusion being that they wouldn’t allow it even if hell froze over. Among the links discussed was the NewsWeek hit piece on a $700 parka Bernie wore to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s swearing-in ceremony.

      Oddly, the NewsWeek article never mentioned that Bernie was there to do the swearing-in, at de Blasio’s invitation. A quick search turned up a NYT article that did mention it, but got in its digs by declaring that “the political star power was significantly reduced” from his first inauguration, at which the swearing-in was done by Bill Clinton. Both Clintons, it noted, were absent, along with Governor Cuomo. Chuck Schumer showed up late.

      It’s almost a given that a two-term mayor of New York has his eye on the White House, but what did de Blasio hope to gain by being on stage with Bernie? It sure didn’t endear him to the establishment Dems, whom he reportedly already has pissed off by criticizing the Clinton campaign’s failure to bring in more Bernie supporters. Besides that, Bernie endorsed his re-election bid. “Not even if hell freezes over” probably applies to him, too.

      What do we suppose could be going on here? Are Bernie and de Blasio plotting a coup, thinking it’s the only way to beat Trump in 2020? Surely, they must know that a fight with the establishment Ds would be to the death? It’s hard to imagine that they’re exploring the possibility of a third party, but stranger things have happened.

      It’s pretty clear, in any case, that the Dems are already embarked on a smear campaign against Bernie. If de Blasio hitches his star to the Bern wagon, it won’t be long before he’s wearing bite marks from David Brock’s fangs.

      1. Jen

        No NYC mayor has ever gone on to hold a higher office. This will, of course, be true until it isn’t, but IMO the personality and skill set required to be successful as mayor makes one too much of an a$$hole to succeed in any other office.

        1. 3.14e-9

          If not being an a$$hole was a qualification for president, 45 would have been disqualified from the start, and I’d wager that at least half of the previous 44 wouldn’t have made it, either.

          1. Jen

            Fair point. Perhaps I should have said that the kind of a$$hole who succeeds in NYC doesn’t scale well to statewide or national office.

  9. Wukchumni

    “The Assembly could constitutionally appoint a new government, which in turn could request military assistance from a coalition of the willing, including Latin American, North American, and European countries. This force would free Venezuela, in the same way Canadians, Australians, Brits, and Americans liberated Europe in 1944-1945. Closer to home, it would be akin to the US liberating Panama from the oppression of Manuel Noriega, ushering in democracy and the fastest economic growth in Latin America.”

    Which countries use the U.S. Dollar as their currency?

    El Salvador

    Venezuela would fit perfectly into the fold, and presto! you Dollar-denominate all of their vast oil reserves, after making sure the grocery store shelves are stocked and the currency is sound, compared to what they had.

  10. Jim Haygood

    From Ambrose E-P’s article in the Telegraph:

    Citigroup estimates that fiscal stimulus … risks pushing the US fiscal deficit towards 5.5pc of GDP. This is an exorbitant level at time of full employment, when the economy is hitting capacity constraints and the output gap has already closed.

    Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke – the author of America’s QE – warned last year that the institution was tempting fate to attempt to unwind QE, saying that there is no need to do so. It would be much wiser to leave the balance sheet alone and focus on raising rates instead.

    Citigroup’s estimated 5.5% of GDP fiscal stimulus jibes with David Stockman’s projection of a $1.175 trillion deficit in FY 2019, which pencils out to 5.8% of GDP.

    Economists often bemoan the high time preference of the poor, who focus on surviving in the present rather than planning for the future. This is exactly what the R party is doing by gunning the economy in the late stage of an expansion, cheered on by the very stable genius in the White House.

    Thanks to its egregious pork barreling, the R party may hang on to one house of Congress in the midterm election this year. But they are setting themselves up for a recession in the 2020 presidential election.

    For once in his life, Bubble Ben Bernanke is correct that unwinding QE is utterly imprudent. When it occurs, the transition from runaway boom to bone-crunching bust will be shockingly sudden, followed by cries of “No one could have foreseen this calamity” from the feckless central planners who engineered the debacle.

    1. Wukchumni

      QE now! QE tomorrow! QE forever!

      Wasn’t Benito a waiter @ a Mexican restaurant in South Carolina?

      I’d imagine his standard line to Unabankers went something like this:

      “Bienvenidos amigos, me llamo Benito, may I start you off with an endless supply of chips?”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Queen Mary was a luxury cruise ship, now docked in Long Beach, CA.

        And QE2 is also one.

    2. timbers

      For once in his life, Bubble Ben Bernanke is correct that unwinding QE is utterly imprudent. When it occurs, the transition from runaway boom to bone-crunching bust will be shockingly sudden, followed by cries of “No one could have foreseen this calamity” from the feckless central planners who engineered the debacle.

      Are you serious? The only thing QE has done is inflate asset values and benefit the ultra rich. Reversing QE may hurt your Crazy Man Fund stock prices, but it’s not going to hurt most Americans, only the rich who’ve benefited from asset inflation.

      1. John k

        Problem is that a market crash will destroy confidence and slash spending, bringing recession that helps only bears.
        The last two recessions were preceded by equity declines, people hit the plastic hard to maintain good times during holidays, spending looks to be turning down now anyway.
        Some are waiting for a melt up, last year up 20%, higher than last two events… but the little guy is jumping in, a typ final stage…

        1. timbers

          I don’t agree. The inflation of assets has not produced economic growth, and I do not agee the withdrawal of the artificial asset inflation must produce a recession.

          And if ending QE must produce a recession, the longer you delay ending it, the bigger the fall might be. If you believe what you said, then delaying the recession you think we must have by withdrawing QE might only make the one that comes when QE does end, even bigger.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          No, the overwhelming majority don’t own any or much stock, and what they do own is in a retirement account, and so not used for spending.

          Central banks have proven repeatedly that creating asset bubbles to generate a wealth effect instead creates financial crises. This goes back to Japan in the late 1980s.

          Please read ECONNED. That explains long form why we had the crisis. The stock market had absolutely nothing to do with it.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Reversing QE may hurt your Crazy Man Fund stock prices, but it’s not going to hurt most Americans, only the rich who’ve benefited from asset inflation.

        Stock prices are included in economic leading indicators for a reason. As millions of Americans who didn’t have a penny in the market learned in 1931, a severe stock market decline is terrible news for Main Street, as credit dries up along with jobs.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You know better than to believe that. This is pretty desperate.

          The stock market was levered 70% to 90%, depending on how you measured it. Its collapse took the banking system down. It was the fact that the banks were involved in levered speculation that caused the Depression (plus that mortgages were 5 year bullets that borrowers partly paid off and rolled, so that when banks and deposits were wiped out, people defaulted, wiping out more banks).

  11. rd

    Re: Acids and Salts in Rivers etc.

    This is largely a regional issue dictated by the geology of the region.

    Salts – Many areas with sedimentary rocks have salt beds. Salt seeps and saline groundwater are pretty normal in these areas. This includes much of upstate NY and the Midwest. Much of the salt put on roads is mined in these areas. Restoration of inland salt marshes is even a restoration goal in many areas. It can be a local issue with shallow aquifers near major roads. Infrastructure is often challenged by salt, but design methods are improving to reduce the impacts. In many areas, farm fertilizer runoff and shoreline development poses a much bigger challenge than salt to the health of rivers and lakes

    Acids – This is also a regional issue as most sedimentary rock system or glacial soil areas have a lot of carbonates that can buffer acids. Airborne acids are one of the major interstate pollution problems. To a large extent, “acid” can be spelled “coal.” On the environmental side, we were winning the pollution argument when the focus was on sulfur and acid rain. Once the debate became about greenhouse gases, it turned into a religious issue with competing religions of believers and deniers. A major problem of things like water lines are that they are just very, very old and have many ways of failing today as they age. Modern materials for waterlines, sewers etc. are quite inert and reliable. We just need to put them in the ground which requires user fees and taxes on the local, state, and federal level.

    1. Wukchumni

      River wells & rock wells near the main fork of the river here, produce very brackish water. A friend was showing off his 100 gpm beauty gushing nasty water into my palms-no bueno. There is no industry or farming above us, it’s just a feature natural to this course of the 4 rivers that encircle us.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Wells along the east (valley) edge of the Coast Range here often have salt water, in various concentrations. Some are unusable. It’s because the Coast Range used to be under the ocean, and there are pockets of salt water trapped underground. I don’t know of actual salt beds. There’s a lot of sulfur, too, because the rocks that aren’t sea bed are volcanic.

      But they don’t use salt on the roads here. Mostly, they just wait for the snow to melt.

  12. pictboy3

    Couple notes on the Google suit:

    1) Being a protected class is a judicially created doctrine that applies to 14th amendment cases, which can only be leveled at the government, except in narrow circumstances where a private entity is essentially acting as a proxy for the government. It was created to countenance affirmative action laws with the plain language of the 14th amendment.

    2) Google can’t be sued in such a manner. Damore is most likely using a state law as the basis for his claim, which very well might allow this kind of suit. I’m not a California lawyer, so I can’t comment on the validity of it without doing some research, but I wouldn’t dismiss the suit out of hand.

    1. pictboy3

      Should have done my research. Protected classes are actually laid out in statutes, but defined broadly. The decision not to treat white people as a protected class is a judicial one, hence my original point.

      1. Darius

        If authoritarian rightists can be a protected class, how about socialists? I’d bet Google isn’t too hospitable to them either.

        1. pictboy3

          Interestingly, they might actually have a case (source). If the protections in California’s political action law applied to conservatives in this case, there would be a strong case for socialists who faced similar repercussions to bring the same type of suit.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            ergo, Hippies,too. and so on.
            before long, just to keep track of it all, we could just lump everybody into one Protected Class…”homo sapiens”, perhaps.

    2. MT_Bill

      From what I read yesterday he’s suing under the state of California’s version of the no fear Act.

      Employees can’t face reprisal or retaliation for bringing forward allegations of discrimination or harassment.

      The explanation I read went on to say that he might not have to show Google discriminated against him, just that Google retaliated against him for making the allegation. Seems like a pretty low bar.

      But should make for great political theatre.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        This is consistent with my assumption, that the problem was not Google firing Damore, but the very ham-handed way in which they did it, particularly all of the stupid public statements various execs made about his memo. Google also created this situation with what looks like another batshit policy, of apparently encouraging people to mouth off on various topics on the company intranet.

        One of the traditional rules of survival in big organizations was not to talk about your political views, save at most to actual friends who are on the same page. Google encouraged oversharing and got a mess.

    3. Craig H.

      The thing that I wonder about is how they came by the internal google documents in the filing (check out the one about the person who claims to be an otherkin–that kind of tabloid mud). There is no way that Damore and the other guy in the suit have not signed intellectual property agreements which forbid them passing internal google documents to outsiders. So they had to steal the evidence.

      Sort of tangentially related is he looking for a job, doing interviews, &c? It’s been five months. If he was deserving of Ayn Rand’s sympathy he would have found another job by now for sure. (Not that I am rooting for google–those yahoos can rot as far as I care.)

      1. jgordon

        James Damore has plenty of interviews with various alternative media outlets available on Youtube, but he comes off as extremely introverted and possible autistic. I was thinking that he had a great career in the independent media ahead of him, until I actually an interview he did on the Ruben Report.

        Also, Damore has likely been blacklisted for employment in America by now. He should move to a tolerant and free country that would appreciate his talents, like China for example. The Chinese public has a recently developed diverse terms to describe the naive and deluded lefties who infest the West, such as baizou(白左) or “white left”. If the Chinese became familiar with his story he’d be celebrated as a hero there. Sad that many in America can’t appreciate him.

    4. Jean

      What about “De Facto”? Just show the disproportionate number, relative to the population, of young employees at Google.

      What this is really about I suspect is Age Discrimination in tech.

    5. Anonymous

      Google is not a search company or an internet company. It’s an AI company. They are collecting scads of data for their AI to work through that [is/will be] used to manipulate people in ways that no one even fully understands. If you use Google products enough they have the potential to know what you’re thinking before you do. By controlling what they show you next they can actually alter your timeline in ways you would have never expected.

      The Google is creepy when you understand it. Very creepy.

      So what do you do when you’re a creep but you have to be nice so that people will still hang around you?
      Enter “VIRTUE SIGNALING.” You virtue signal at every point you can. Hey, we’re not creepy, look how many women we hire! Yeah for us! Look at how many African Americans we hire! Yeah for us! We love trans! Yeah for us! See?? We’re the good guys. We aren’t racist nazis who would do bad things.

      Now that you know we’re indeed the good guys please keep give us unfettered access to all your data so we can mine it and sell you to the highest bidder. Thanks, the google.

  13. Wukchumni

    The idea of letting the President play in the ‘stan box, and not sharing toys with others also playing, is a fitting epithet for how we’ll end up leaving with only our tales between our legs of dubious invasions after departing the graveyard of empires.

    Once the USSR left the graveyard, the end was near for them.

  14. ambrit

    In line with the ‘Robber Baron’ piece today, I’ll append this ‘sign of the times.’
    I’ve mentioned it before, but HD is trying to become a gatekeeper for home repair and remodelling projects. A form of vertical integration perhaps?
    Do read the requirements at the bottom of the craigslist posting. HD wants all of the gravy without spending any of their hard extorted stockholders “equity.”
    Pure Robber Baron economics on display.

  15. Eureka Springs

    It will be interesting to hear what Admiral Rogers has to say under oath after he is safely retired into civilian life.

    In another lifetime perhaps. Certainly pre Iran Contra or pre Watergate.

    Questions not asked.
    Answers not demanded.
    Lies anyway, accepted as normal. Far more normal than accountability.
    At best there will be a fall guy or two.
    If history is any clear indication this is all nothing but more obfuscation and continued delay of game.

    Time for congress to investigate pro baseball again.

    1. ambrit

      This time it’ll be an investigation of the NFL players’ unions’ connection to the Fourth International.
      “Mr Speaker. I have here in my hand a list…”

  16. Wukchumni

    Kind of a weird Oedipus wrecks gig with Netanyahu the younger, sealing his father’s fate over the equivalent of 30 Shekels of Tyre.

    1. pretzelattack

      well what fate has been sealed? is this going to cost netanyahu anything significant? love to see it, if it happens.

  17. madarka

    Hello NC commentariat. I’m just going to expand a bit on a topic some of you might find interesting. I am usually a lurker (though I did attend a meet-up last year, hello Lambert!) but here we go:

    In Punta Cana, the luxury resort region of the eastern tip of Dominican Republic, a surprise change of the zoning Laws was unveiled by the Ministry of Tourism in December. Departing from the low-intensity model which had underpinned development of the area from an arid plain to a tourist boomtown (where the Clintons and Kissinger vacation regularly, oy vey – see here), the Ministry of Tourism had secretly approved the construction of 17 towers of 22 levels each in the areas of Cap Cana (luxury villas and golf clubs) and Macao beach. As far as anyone knows no impact studies have been done, and the local authorities were unaware of any changes. Nor was the Ministry for the Environment notified.

    This suitably alarmed the established hotels (ASONAHORES is the name of their association but also includes hotels from all over the country), who started to lobby the Minister. Even with their considerable lobbying power they got nowhere and had to send their lawyers to halt the zoning law changes by throwing around a few lawsuits and administrative injunctions.

    Who is behind the drive to turn Punta Cana into Miami Beach? The land in Macao is owned by local powers, the Vicini (richest family/business conglomerate in the country) and the Morales; a newspaper reported some interest by Hard Rock Hotels to acquire land there but only with the new zoning laws in place, otherwise no thanks.

    But Cap Cana is owned by the Hazoury brothers, who have a history with Donald Trump reaching as far back as 2007. That year the Hazoury brothers signed a deal with the Trump Organization to develop a Trump-branded beachfront luxury resort to be completed by 2011. The 8,000-acre, oceanfront project was launched with sales of the Trump Farallon Estates at Cap Cana, a gated community of 68 lots costing $3 to $12 million each. The contract between Trump and the Hazoury included the construction of a golf course, a condo-hotel, beach club, villas, apartments and residences, and even the development of luxury consumer products. Trump appeared personally at the official launch which raised a record $300 million, and featured the project on the sixth season finale of “The Apprentice”.

    However, the 2008 financial crisis happened and the project went poof. Trump sued Cap Cana S.A. and its owners for $5.8 million-plus for alleged fraud. The lawsuit was settled in 2013 for an undisclosed amount, and in the following years, Trump’s name was dropped from Cap Cana marketing materials and real estate projects. He apparently retains ownership of some assets in the area, which might explain why Eric Trump dropped by Cap Cana in February 2017, just days after his father entered the White House. The Hazoury brothers were apparently thrilled to receive him, and why suddenly tall towers are looming over the horizon. Of the 17 towers approved for construction, 15 belong to Cap Cana S.A. There is also a group of Venezuelan magnates involved, the Mendoza family, owners of food and beer producer Polar.

    Will ASONAHORES manage to stop these new developments? European capital presence is quite strong in the area, and at least the Spanish Meliá group is spooked by all these gringo moves. They should be: even without the bribery and quid pro quo that certainly must have occurred, the current government might be considering this a good way to curry favor with our imperial overlords as relations have notably cooled in the last few years (the US State Dept has been a bit stroppy with the PLD, the governing party: reprimands on the handling of the Haitian question (emphasis deliberate), the continued support for Venezuela, the incredible saga of the Odebrecht bribery scandal in which the current president Danilo Medina is very likely involved… oh, and the pro-Hillary videos released by the current VP for the consumption of the Dominican community in the US during the campaign…)

    Some Links, in Spanish:

    Gobierno y hoteleros enfrentados por torres de 22 pisos en Macao y Cap Cana

    Tras las torres de 22 pisos se mueven capitales de al menos tres países
    Revelan hijo de Donald Trump vino a resolver conflicto de negocios del proyecto Cap Cana con su padre

    About Trump’s investments:
    Trump’s Conflicts of Interest in the Dominican Republic

    1. mle detroit

      I know nothing about the DR, but when the towers are approved, there will be a need for construction workers and hotel maids. We can expect these to be supplied by a U.S. government deportation order. /sarc

    2. Kevin

      Oh brother…I’m sure there’s nothing fishy going on there…NOT.
      I just new Teflon Don was going to make his way into your story…sad story, but thanks for sharing.

    3. JohnnyGL

      Good stuff, thanks for this anecdote. Interesting to see downstream effects of US politics on the ‘colonies’ of the Caribbean.

      It’s interesting to note the oligarchs or groups of oligarchs lined up on opposite sides.

      Perhaps the most interesting/entertaining effect of Trump is that he’s like throwing a kind of King Cobra into a den of snakes that previously seemed to get along more or less okay. Then, King Cobra starts eating a few because, well, that’s what King Cobra does?!?! The other snakes have to pick sides and join up with King Cobra in hopes that they can get a meal and avoid getting eaten, or join the opposition because they would NEVER eat other snakes. Meanwhile, the mice and rats in the area are thrilled that the snakes are fighting each other and not eating them!

    1. Jim Haygood

      From the WaPo:

      [New Maricopa County sheriff] Paul Penzone said Arpaio’s signature Tent City jail was nothing more than a political stunt that served his swaggering persona more than the taxpayers.

      Penzone and the chairman of the advisory committee, former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods, said that the tough-on-crime idea portrayed by Arpaio to the public was a farce.

      “The days of Arizona being a place, I hope, where people are humiliated or embarrassed or abused or ridiculed for the self-aggrandizement of anybody or anything are over,” Woods said. “They had no place in our community. They didn’t reflect our community, and we’re moving on.

      Where have you gone, Joe Arpaio
      Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
      Woo woo woo

      What’s that you say Mrs Robinson
      Jolting Joe has left and gone away
      Hey, hey, hey … hey, hey, hey

      — Simon & Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson

  18. Meher Baba Fan

    Piece in the Guardian stating Brexit may have breached international environment law. The Aarhus Convention treaty. The government weren’t allowed to scrap all the environment laws and were supposed to consult with citizens. The givernment has until 5 June to respond. I am physically unable to provide link apology.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I was at a law lecture a couple of years ago, and the lawyer giving the talk said that there was a rumour that during the negotiations on the Aarhus Convention the British and Irish delegates were bored and went out the night before the main vote and got royally smashed on Danish beer. It was, he said, the only explanation for why both delegations recommended to their governments that they sign up to a convention so utterly at odds with the principles of Common Law jurisdictions. It created virtually an entirely new legal framework over and above existing environmental law (both national and European). In particular, it opened up numerous loopholes for community groups to take national governments to court over environmental failures (a very good thing, imo).

      So its entirely possible that Brexit could, at least theoretically, be in breach of Aarhus. However, I’d consider it highly unlikely it is any sort of a problem for Brexit, the government can simply say they will adhere to the Aarhus principles within UK law.

  19. Matthew G. Saroff

    Winston Churchill predicted the WW II, about a dozen times before it actually happened.

    He allowed his racism to create a famine in India, which was a major factor in its expert from empire.

    He advocated gassing Iraqi civilians in the 1920s.

    He gave us Gallipoli WWI.

    He gave us the Norway fiasco in WWII, ans somehow left Chamberlain holding the bag.

    He was never a genius or a visionary, he was Rudy Giuliani with a British accent.

    One great moment, and nothing else.

    Richard Burton said, after studying him for his role playing him, said that now that he knew him, he hated him.

    1. paul

      History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
      I haven’t read any of the many counterfactuals, apart from the man in the high castle, I wonder how they describe the terms of surrender and the role of this character at that moment, or his role in constructive continuity.
      The least of our polity positively court the flatter that is ‘churchillian’*
      *see fox,johnson and even lesser forms.

      I thought Atlee was OK

    2. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      I agree & would add his conduct in relation to the struggles of the working class, during the early part of the last century to your list. In particular the 1911 Liverpool dock strike which occurred when divide & conquer finally failed to stop Irish Catholics & the natives working together, resulting in actual gains from strike action, but at the cost of 2 shot dead & 12 gunshot injuries – thanks to Churchill who sent in the army & a battleship for good or bad measure.

      1. Meher Baba Fan

        I had a law lecturer who took care to point out all sorts of diabolical things concerning Churchill and the British government of WWII
        He says history has been rewritten but the newspapers of the day indicate differently. His thing was, don’t believe you really understand the dynamics of that period- its way more than what has been presented ever since

      1. PlutoniumKun

        To be precise, he was behind the ‘Auxies’, which was a counter-insurgency unit made up of ex-Army officers – the ‘Black and Tans’ were mostly demobbed regular soldiers and used as muscle by the RIC (police). The Auxies were intended as roving hit squads, moving through the countryside hitting the IRA hard and fast using whatever means necessary to get local intelligence.

        The Auxies were significantly more brutal than the Black and Tans and were generally hated by everyone, British soldiers, police, IRA and civilians equally. They were also notoriously undisciplined and generally ineffective once the IRA developed sufficient intelligence networks to undermine them and defeat them in open combat, such as at Kilmichael.

    3. Olga

      Yes, I never understood the reverence some have expressed for the man… he was deep-down a major war-monger and a basic racist. Not mentioned is his role in bringing about WWI – and the Fulton College speech, which unleashed the cold war. It seems plausible to me that – being kicked out of office after the end of WWII (those British voters must have been onto something) – he sought renewed relevance by stirring up yet another conflict, very much in the same vein as Joe McCarthy opportunistically picked “red scare” as a way to rise to prominence. A thoroughly odious creature – but one confirming that even a broken clock is correct once a day (or is it twice?).

    4. Massinissa

      Churchill is like Teddy Roosevelt with his progressivism taken out, leaving little but racism and imperialism remaining.

  20. Katy

    Pfizer, pocketing a big tax cut from Trump, will end investment in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research

    “No one would say that drug companies should engage in research as a philanthropic exercise.”

    I would. I would say that. It’s neoliberals and shareholders who would be aghast at the thought of a drug company doing research that’s not profit-maximizing.

    “By some estimates, [the tax cut on repatriated foreign earnings] could be worth more than $5 billion to Pfizer alone, not counting any gains from the lower tax rate.”

    I wonder how much Alzheimer’s research $5 billion could buy?

    1. Isotope_C14

      Hi Katy.

      Good question:

      1) A tenured PI goes for around $100k/year if they are pretty lucky with grants (some get paid much, much less, but here we are talking about a rich lab).
      2) An Assistant or Associate professor might at the higher end get 70k – very rare
      3) So the average post-doc *person with a PhD* would get about 35-50k year
      4) Lab Managers/Technicians 20-45k, (Which is a joke)

      Say you have a lab of 1/2/2/3/3/3/4/4 – which would not be an uncommon lab setup, a rich lab would be operating with a cost of 480k in yearly salary.

      Say you’d have consumables, lab animals, and laboratory overhead comprising about 520k – which this is very easy to reach in the life sciences. Certain expensive bio-robots cost well over 100k, but lets assume that some of the capital expenditures are already present. Sometimes large universities share things like Microscopes and FACS machines.

      So that would be 5000 years of lab operating costs for groups roughly this size. 500 labs with 10 years of funding.

      But don’t you understand? Tax cuts *create* jobs!

  21. John D.

    I can’t believe people are treating Oprah Winfrey as a serious presidential candidate. Are Democrats really so eager to turn the 2020 election into Battle of the Network Stars?

    1. DonCoyote

      One of the few remaining islands of sanity at Salon (Andrew O’Hehir):

      Nearly 30 years ago, when covering the 1988 campaign, Joan Didion expressed the view that politics was more a subset of show business than the other way around. That was meant to be an unorthodox or cynical thing to say, at the time; now it’s just obvious…
      Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake now has Winfrey at No. 11 on his list of potential Democratic nominees for an election that is 58 months away, and every part of that sentence makes me feel that the emergence of human consciousness is turning out to be a grand cosmic prank. But for reasons that should be obvious to everyone on the planet, it’s no good claiming that the idea of President Winfrey is inherently ludicrous or braying on about the sacred dignity of the office.

      1. Oregoncharles

        My comment on that O’Hehir article:

        Nobody does snark better than Andrew. I wish he’d write more; he’s great fun to read.

        [From the article]: ” Unless, that is, the party’s death wish is so strong that it secretly yearns to lose two elections to a transparently awful joke candidate instead of just one, which is possible.”

        Consider: since Clinton was re-elected, the duopoly parties have traded the Presidency back and forth, two full terms at a time, including some very dubious campaigns and elections – as in taking turns throwing the election. It’s looking more and more like a plan. I think they have a little deal, which they stick to regardless of who gets nominated. No wonder independents are now over 40% and we don’t really have major parties any more. You have to wonder when the voters will start voting accordingly. Of course, half of them just don’t vote.

        So yes, I think they have every intention of losing again in 2020. Of the unicorns, the only one who might break the pattern is….Oprah.

        O’Hehir is the editor of Salon.

    2. RUKidding

      Looks that way to me.

      Hope I’m wrong. Suspect I’m not.

      After all, electing a putative network ‘star’ worked so well this time around. Why not another one? Who will also be touted as “disruptive,” as if that’s a hallmark of something or other.

    3. jrs

      it would show them as kind of hypocritical for braying on about qualifications (as the good top 20% professional party that they are would). Exactly what political qualifications does Oprah have? Let’s see … exactly zero political experience. Bunch of hypocrites they would be indeed.

      We might actually need someone qualified who knows what they are doing this time, however unlike whatever the top 20% may think qualifications are not enough, we need someone moral and decent as well. Well qualified psychopaths who care for nothing but for their own class aren’t getting us anywhere either (yea the Hillary and Obamas of the world).

      1. John D.

        Couldn’t agree more, but quite in addition to everything you say, on an immediate level this just seems…insane. And desperate. I don’t deny that she’s an intelligent and accomplished woman on her own merits, but that’s hardly reason by itself to run for public office. It sure as hell doesn’t qualify her to be President, for Chrissakes.

        To the extent that I’ve ever thought about Oprah at all, I’ve always vaguely considered her as being a somewhat benign presence, for an American celebrity at least (I’ve certainly never watched any of her shows to form a real opinion on the woman), but information is now coming out about her, and it turns out she wasn’t actually all that benign, after all. (I know: Surprise, surprise.) One example: She was evidently an enthusiastic supporter of Bush Junior’s adventurism in Iraq, which disqualifies her all by itself, IMO.

    4. Bill

      I think it’s the optics they like, still. First woman president, black. Like look how the first black president turned out–he really did what he said he was going to do, didn’t cosset TPTB, right? Black people and regular people really came out ahead, right? So, no, but, we had a black president, doesn’t that just make America look like a progressive place? And Oprah, she certainly is rich, and probably has the right attitudes about stuff that really matters when you have power. And just imagine how the nazis will react. She’d better have a really great security team.

    5. Filiform Radical

      The script for American politics in the last few decades:

      The REPUBLICANS do some stupid [family blog] as the DEMOCRATS look on.
      DEM.: God that’s stupid.
      DEM.: Let’s try it too!

  22. Wukchumni

    Hmmmmmm, peacocks

    It’s tantamount to having a screechy Ethel Merman a couple doors over that belts out tunes at all hours, that’s when she’s not out scratching cars and leaving steaming piles for you to find…

    …but they sure are pretty terra-ists

    Florida has its Burmese pythons, Louisiana has its beaver-like nutria, and Rancho Palos Verdes has its peacocks.

    Each of the communities has struggled with a non-native — some would even say invasive — species. In Florida, the snakes have led to large declines in raccoons, rabbits and bobcats, while the nutria have ripped up ecologically sensitive swampland in Lousiana.

    In the scenic Rancho Palos Verdes, the colorful peafowl have been blamed for scratching cars, leaving large droppings on driveways and awakening residents with their high-pitched screams. Nearly 50 birds were killed between 2012 and 2014 in the neighboring community of Rolling Hills Estates, some apparently by angry residents.

    1. Olga

      Or it could just be a coded picture: lady = voter; male = trump (or, the entire political/elite establishment).

  23. JohnnyGL

    As a sort of ‘reading where the media narrative, tea leaves, zeitgeist, whatever is going’, I think it’s worth pointing out that Conan O’Brien is now cracking jokes at anti-Trump media stuff, and the Mueller probe. Perhaps, it’s becoming okay for people who aren’t Glenn Greenwald to question the media narrative of “Trump-Putin OMG!!!”.

    I’m not on twitter, but scrolling through, it seems he didn’t crack these kinds of jokes in the fall.

  24. allan

    Senate bill to block net neutrality repeal now has 40 cosponsors [The Hill]

    A Senate bill that would block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from repealing its net neutrality rules now has 40 co-sponsors, Senate Democrats announced Tuesday.

    The news comes just a day after the bill won its 30th co-sponsor, ensuring that it has enough support to clear a procedural threshold and get fast-tracked to a floor vote. …

    The bill would use authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the FCC’s repeal from going into effect. And with more than 30 senators on board, the legislation will be able to bypass the committee approval process and Democrats will be able to force a vote on the floor. …

    Politicians responding to pressure from constituents (also too some large donors). Amazing.

    1. Wukchumni

      Last time Poltemkin Village responded to their constituents, the Columbian gang members voted down TARP #1.

  25. djrichard

    Now we know where campaign promises rank for Kamala Harris. Also seems to be burnishing her fiscal bonafides. Can’t wait to hear what campaign promises she makes, especially if they require more than “billions and billions” of dollars.

    “No wall,” said Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “Listen, I believe in border security. I think it’s very important that we have a secure border, but spending billions and billions of dollars on this wall because of a political promise and a campaign promise is ridiculous.”

    1. tegnost

      …besides, everyone I know hires illegals in california, how are we expected to keep up with the jones or buy a car expensive enough that everyone stuck on the freeway with us knows their place otherwise?”

  26. Wukchumni

    Hello, wall – (hello) (hello)
    How’d things go for you today
    Don’t you miss immingrants
    Since I scared them all away
    And I’ll bet you dread to spend
    Another lonely night with me
    Lonely wall
    I’ll keep you company.

  27. allan

    Trump health pick wary of government drug price negotiations [AP]

    President Donald Trump’s pick for health secretary said Tuesday he’s wary of a broad government role in negotiating prescription drug prices, arguing that it may lead to reduced access for patients.

    Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical and government executive, told the Senate Finance Committee that he believes drug prices are too high and he’s committed to trying to lower them.

    But he said allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices across the board would risk restricting choice for patients, since the government would have to establish an approved list of discounted medications.

    As a candidate, Trump called for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but his administration hasn’t put forward any major strategy. …

    “For the government to negotiate, we would have to have single national formulary,” Azar said. “I don’t believe we want to go there,” adding it would restrict access. …

    Azar, 50, spent much of the last 10 years as a senior executive for drug maker Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. The company has drawn criticism from patient advocacy groups for price increases to one of its biggest products: insulin, used to treat high blood sugar for nearly 100 years. Other drugs also shot up in price, including medications for osteoporosis and attention deficit disorder. …

    In short, the private sector is restricting access to drugs quite nicely all by itself
    and doesn’t need any help from government.

  28. Waking Up

    For 2020, three narcissistic billionaires…Oprah, Zuckerberg, and Trump… may run for President.

    Meanwhile, as the country is being “entertained”, drilling in the arctic will move forward, fracking will expand, food regulations will be eliminated, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid will be gutted, prisons will have ever increasing numbers so the for-profit prison industry can make ever greater profits, all states will be forced to enact “right to work laws” along with new laws to prevent unionization, research will show our children are losing cognitive abilities due to excessive computer/phone use, the military industrial complex will become an even larger percentage of the budget with 99% of congressional members saying “give them more”, AIPAC will demand an additional $100 billion/per year and get it, and the FED will find new ways to funnel money exclusively to aid the banks and wealthy while inequality continues.

    Meanwhile, all the focus will be on identity politics. But hey, as long as we are entertained….

    1. cnchal

      Note to Lambert.

      Yes, this political system selects for narcissists, and narcissists select this political system for their own gratification. A virtuous circle for the politicians, and a vicious circle for the peasants.

      . . . all states will be forced to enact “right to work laws” along with new laws to prevent unionization . . .

      Amazon and Dollar General wouldn’t have it any other way.

      In short order, Amazon has become one of Ohio’s largest employers, after receiving tens of millions of dollars of state tax incentives for building warehouses, data centers and other projects along the way.

      Now, the online giant has quickly made its way onto another list, one charting the state’s employers with the most workers and their family members who also qualify for food stamps.
      “We’ve appreciated having more employment, but maybe we should be focusing economic development dollars on good jobs. It’s pretty clear that a lot of these jobs are not good jobs,” he said. “That should raise a policy question for our public officials, and that’s why we think its worth pointing out.”

      Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

      But the company has said that full-time employees at its warehouses receive competitive wages and comprehensive benefits, including health care, retirement and company stock awards. Employees receive maternity and parental leave benefits and have access to a program that prepays up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

      After a full time employee has their body destroyed and get’s thrown onto Bezo’s Boneyard their will be no health care. But opioids will come in handy.

      Buy from Amazon, torture some folks.

      Here is some elite thinking from the CEO of Dollar General

      Dollar General stands to benefit from rising inequality in America, as CEO Todd Vasos noted at a Goldman Sachs retailing conference in September. “As middle class continues to go away, unfortunately, to the lower end of the economic scale versus the higher end,” he said, the economy will create more of the chain’s “core customer.”

      “I think there’s going to be more and more opportunities for us to get in and build more stores,” Vasos added.

      In an early December earnings call, Vasos was asked about how the company’s core customer would be impacted by minimum wage increases in some states. “We feel good about where the consumer is right now,” he said. “But as I always say, we work under the premise that she is always tight because her expenses continue to rise on the other side of expense — excuse me, of her income rising.”

      Your misery is his profits.

      Ask Oprah for help, it’s America’s only hope. /sarc

  29. Wukchumni

    It’s raining cats & dogs (an Irish Wolfhound came within a foot of hitting the roof a minute ago…) and it’s all good, especially in getting rid of the hanky air caused by a lack of precipitation. Too warm to produce snow below around 9k in the higher climes.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Making China Great Again.

    China will be great, again, when pregnant women and their husbands from China stop trying to get Western citizenship for their babies, via maternity hotels, among other options.

    This is a huge challenge for Xi.

  31. Olga

    “Regulators kill Perry’s proposal to prop up coal, nuclear power plants The Hill. A rare victory for the public.” True, although without an overwhelming opposition from the electric industry, regulators, and environmentalists, it might have not happened. The majority of commenters (and there were hundreds) were opposed to the proposed rule.

    1. Louis Fyne

      i know i’m in the minority, but swapping natural gas for nuclear is like swapping hemlock for cyanide. the world needs more nuclear plants in the near term, not fewer.

      everyone else’s mileage may vary.

      1. Olga

        That, of course, is debatable (as they say, it is complicated). But the view may also be somewhat irrelevant, since the economics simply do not support having more nuclear plants. They do have high O&M costs, even if fuel is not that expensive. The neglected story is that many older nuc-plants in the US were facing expensive upgrades related to safety operations (post-Fukushima). And to build new ones – is simply prohibitively expensive. Renewables are now much cheaper… And these issuses are even separate from the proposed rule, which was way goofy (in all sorts of ways)… and would have been too disruptive and costly.

      2. Bill

        we’ll be arranging to have spent radioactive waste shipped to you for disposal on your property…

        1. UserFriendly

          The amount of nuclear waste generated from an entire lifetime of power use could easily fit in a coffee cup.

          1. blennylips

            Citation please.

            Human lifetime? Originally, it was thought a reactor could last 40 years. Now they expect to squeeze out 50 to 70 years, so either way it is within a human lifetime.

            Where you going to find a coffee cup big enough for that neutron embrittled reactor vessel?

  32. lyman alpha blob

    RE: How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us Washington Monthly. I would take this with a fistful of salt. From an early investor who therefore has a bias to believe that FB has political influence, as opposed to at most reinforces people’s priors. Cooler heads who have actually read the studies, such as Masha Gessen, take the opposite view, that FB didn’t affect the outcome of the 2018 election.

    Yes, the problem here isn’t that a miniscule amount of ads managed to swing and election – it didn’t. And since when it is a crime anyway to air misleading and downright mendacious political ads? I wish it were, but it isn’t.

    The issue is, why the hell don’t Facebook, Google,Amazon etc fully vet the ads and content that run on their platforms? This just seems stupid to me. My company definitely would not let just anybody willing to pay place ads with us without making sure the ads were appropriate for the media they were placed in and reflected well on our company.

    You’d think that would be a no-brainer, but these money grubbers will apparently take whatever they can get, consequences be damned.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s a problem of scale; it would take an army to vet them all.

      It’s also a problem of technology; a third party places the ads, mor e in response to the individual’s IP than the site it’s displayed on. (I’m now seeing constant ads for a couple of items I searched recently. There’s a problem with the business model: the ads are too late.) NC doesn’t vet the ads, either, just imposes some restrictions. Consequently, some of them are pretty funny, or ironic.

      It was different when a publication employed people to sell advertising space; they could control whom the pitched to.

  33. Oregoncharles

    From the Vanity Fair article on Oprah:
    “a splintered, grassroots electorate suspicious of the party elite.”
    You might say.

    I can definitely see this happening. You’re right about why Bernie is unacceptable; Oprah is a bona fide plutocrat herself. The real problem is not that Bernie is too old; it’s that all of them are. Clinton, Warren, Biden – all of them. Personally, being the same age, I think that does matter; but more important, it means there’s no bench, especially given all that justified popular “suspicion.” So who?

    The scepter is rolling in the gutter; Oprah is a good candidate for picking it up, if you stay within the party.

  34. sylva

    On “A Game of Civilization May Help People Understand AI’s Existential Threat”:

    I wish they actually played the game.

    First of all, the AI is crap – if you play with the same rules, aka, same starting resources, etc., a middle schooler can beat it 9 times out of 10. I did, anyway.

    Second, the higher levels, the actually challenging ones, are created by giving the AI MASSIVE bonuses (like you start with 50 gold, they start with 1000 kind of bonuses – not like actual computational or strategic bonuses).

    Third, AI is less a threat than pollution, which should rank #1 in any discussion. Seas are seeing a massive shift in living populations, the Great Barrier Reef will not be around in 20 years time. Who gives a flying fuck about some computer somewhere that can’t touch you besides in some possibly minor financial way?

    What an age to live in, where people are more interested in online pyramid schemes and AI rather than their physical surroundings…

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve been playing version VI lately, after not having played at all since version IV, and it seems ridiculously easy. I was wondering if that was just me. My recollection of the older versions was that it was very hard to beat the AI on the higher levels – I’d start a game and could tell within a turn or two if I had any chance of winning.

      This is also the first time I played civ that I don’t own the game disk and am relying on the cloud now, which I don’t really care for. I wonder if that has anything to do with it being easier? Not a techie, but if I have the game on disk, the programming doesn’t change. If it’s in the cloud, I’m assuming it can be changed and likely is, fairly often. Hopefully it will get a little more challenging because I’ve only had it a few months and it’s already pretty boring.

      The thing I loved about civ was that it seemed to be programmed to follow realpolitik and I always found the older versions’ AI to be programmed like Henry Kissinger. If you tried to run a peaceful civ, the AI would just attack you and wipe you out. If you deliberately refrained from building nukes, the AI would nuke you. It forced you to develop a strong military whether you wanted to or not. It seemed to be programmed to simulate the way the world actually worked rather than the way I might have like it to, which is what made it challenging.

    2. Filiform Radical

      The article was about a modified, didactic version of the game that allows the player to conduct research on AI, which may or may not go rogue and take over the world, not about the real-life AI you play against.

  35. The Rev Kev

    Re Australia’s hard choice between China and US

    This will require a mature reflection of policy options with the view of balancing military treaties against trade treaties to help ensure that the region does not end up with an arms race that will be totally destabilizing (though lucrative to some). It will also require consultation with our partners in the region. And that is precisely why the present Australian government will make a dog’s breakfast of it all.
    It only has a razor thin majority to keep it in power with the effect that a lot of factions internal to all parties are pushing Australia to turn itself into a fortress/staging post for Asia. The government plans on defense spending are insanely expensive for no discernible reason. US Marines are now a standard feature here and moves are underway to turn the north into advance military bases. With the local they may get push-back.
    There was an election in one Aussie city up north and the US were conducting exercises right over the city creating a helluva lot of noise. It’s not like there is a ton of empty areas to use. The government’s party tried to make out that that was “the noise of freedom” that they were hearing but the locals were not having a bar of it and told them where they could take their “the noise of freedom” and what they could do with it once they got there.

  36. Summer

    “There are clearly signs of late-cycle froth in financial markets, in everything from equities, to corporate credit, and real estate, especially in the US. There is the risk of an overdue correction,” said Willem Buiter, the bank’s chief economist and a leading theorist on monetary policy.

    “Risk of an overdue correction…”

    So what’s “risky” is the “correct” way the financial markets should appear. Fantasyland is not “risky”. Gotcha.

  37. ewmayer

    “The quantum computing apocalypse is imminent Tech Crunch (Chris M)” — Holy cow, this Shlomi Dolev fellow should be breathlessly hyping some crypto-tulip ICO, that’s how over-the-top ridiculous his hyperbolic histrionics are. People need to understand two fundamental things about QC:

    1. QC only promises an exponential speedup for a very limited class of “hard” computational problems. Importantly, one of these includes the bases for many/most currently popular cryptography schemes.

    2. Even for cryptography, the advent of pratical QC will not ‘put us all at risk’. For one, using e.g. Shor’s algorithm to crack (say) a relevant-sized RSA key requires – based on the best estimates by the top experts in the field (the Martinis group in the quoted snip below) – an outrageous number of qubits, far, far in excess of that needed to store the modulus whose factorization is being attempted. From the recent IEEE Spectrum article titled “Google Plans to Demonstrate the Supremacy of Quantum Computing” (I will leave it to the interested reader to dig out the link, since Skynet is flagging all my attempts to post comments with links for extra scrutiny by way of captcha-quiz, and even when I pass the test and copy/paste the resulting this-sekrit-activation-code-will-self-destruct-in-2-minutes, I end up looking at a blank PHP page, and nothing gets posted):

    A system size of 49 superconducting qubits is still far away from what physicists think will be needed to perform the sorts of computations that have long motivated quantum computing research. One of those is Shor’s algorithm, a computational scheme that would enable a quantum computer to quickly factor very large numbers and thus crack one of the foundational components of modern cryptography. In a recent commentary in Nature, Martinis and colleagues estimated that a 100-million-qubit system would be needed to factor a 2,000-bit number—a not-uncommon public key length—in one day. Most of those qubits would be used to create the special quantum states that would be needed to perform the computation and to correct errors, creating a mere thousand or so stable “logical qubits” from thousands of less stable physical components, Martinis says.

    And even when QC succeeds at cracking such-sized moduli, the world will simply switch to any of a number of classical (i.e. non-quantum) crypto schemes which are known to be immune to QC’s expnential speedup potential, as detailed in
    the recent piece, “Why Quantum Computers Won’t Break Classical Cryptography”.

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