Links 1/25/18

I haz wins: Grumpy Cat’s owner gets $710,000 court payout Japan Times

First monkey clones created in Chinese laboratory BBC. My 90 year old mother wants Sanders cloned.

Never-Before-Seen Viruses With Weird DNA Were Just Discovered in The Ocean ScienceAlert (David L)

Cars found trapped in Edinburgh’s ‘robot car park’ 15 years on Edinburgh News (resilc)

We Are Truly Fucked: Everyone Is Making AI-Generated Fake Porn Now Motherboard

Qualcomm Just Got Fined $1.23 Billion for Illegal Apple Payments Fortune. Resilc: “Apple is a crime scene. Kickbacks and tax fraud.”

Burger King’s prank net neutrality video shows what happens when customers are charged $26 for faster Whopper service Business Insider (Kevin W)


China Is Decimating Southeast Asian Wildlife The Diplomat (furzy)

Chinese labs use mail to send opioid fentanyl into US, Senate report finds Guardian. Resilc: “Looks like anti-Chinese front opening up on several sides.”

Record high Chinese investment in Germany in 2017 EU Observer

A man, a plan, a canal…Thailand? Asia Times (resilc)

ECB’s New Plan B? Synthetic Structured Eurobonds Wolf Street (EM)


Theresa May’s new Brexit strategy: jump first, argue later Financial Times

On the City of London and Brexit, silence is not golden Financial Times. Editorial.

Boris Johnson ‘is descendant’ of mummified Basel woman BBC (resilc)

Presidents Club to close after harassment scandal Financial Times. May set a speed record in journalistic scalp collecting.


Trade insurers to pay out £31m after suppliers hit by Carillion collapse Sky News

The role of accountancy firms in Carillion’s collapse is bigger than we thought Left Foot Forward. Wowsers, this is really bad. And who (well you will see “who”) would be dumb enough to be an “outsourced internal audit manager”? That is a prescription for eating huge amounts of liability, particularly since you are at risk of adverse selection.

From Politico’s daily European e-mail:

MADRID BARS PUIGDEMONT FROM REGIONAL OFFICE: Catalonia’s fugitive pro-independence president-in-exile Carles Puigdemont and the regional parliament’s new president, Roger Torrent, were blocked by the Spanish government from using Catalonia’s representative office in central Brussels for talks on Wednesday.

With Catalonia under direct rule from Madrid until a new government is formed, Torrent told POLITICO he was notified by the Spanish foreign ministry just ahead of their meeting that Puigdemont would not be admitted to the premises. Instead, Puigdemont, his fellow exiled Catalan lawmakers and Torrent were given space at the like-minded Centre Maurits Coppieters. Torrent’s tricky task is to hold a parliamentary vote by the end of this month on Puigdemont’s investiture for another term as president. However, Puigdemont risks arrest if he returns home for the vote and Madrid has scoffed at the suggestion that he could attend by video link.

Greece Steps Out of the Naughty Corner Bloomberg. Only finance people would put it that way.

EU and IMF conditionalities: the fatal blow to the Greek working rights Defend Democracy


Trump Slams Erdogan Over Syria Attack, Warns of Clash With U.S. Bloomberg. Reslic: “Never enough wars. NATO v. NATO coming?

Assad’s Victory: What Comes after War in Syria? Der Spiegel

New Cold War

The American Bipartisan Policy Establishment Declares Its ‘Second Cold War’ vs. Russia After Years of Denying It Nation (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Germany threatens curbs on Facebook’s data use Financial Times. This is a big deal.

NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values Intercept (Brian C, Dr. Kevin)

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Slipping in Leadership, Relevance, According to Best Countries Survey US News (resilc)

The US Has Military Bases in 172 Countries. All of Them Must Close. Nation

Trump Transition

Don’t Fear Trump–Fear the Next Republican President Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly)

Trump Says He Is Willing to Testify in Mueller Probe Wall Street Journal. Loophole alert: “Subject to my lawyers.”

Why Donald Trump Will Be Welcome in Davos New Yorker

The Epistemic Quandary of the FBI and Trump Atlantic (resilc)

GOP fuels ‘secret society’ talk with FBI text messages The Hill

China surges with 52 Gigs of new Solar as Trump kneecaps US sector with 30% Tariffs Juan Cole (resilc)

Trump’s solar tariff backfires: It hits red states and U.S. taxpayers harder than China ThinkProgress

One year in, voters reflect on life in the Trump era PBS (resilc)

Budget talks progress, as Senate Dems drop Dreamer demand Politico. Lambert: “Emily Litella voice: ‘Never mind.'”

The Military Wants to Dictate Private Land Use — and Washington State Might Let It TruthOut

Kill Me Now

John Kerry considering presidential run in 2020: report The Hill (UserFriendly, furzy)

Puerto Rico Plan Leaves Almost No Money for Bond Payments Bloomberg

Bond insurer warns Puerto Rico power utility can’t be sold free of liens unless debt is discharged Caribbean Business

Businesses Cut Back on Overseas Investments Wall Street Journal

State Tax Workarounds Could Mean $154 Billion Lost to Treasury Bloomberg (resilc)

Class Warfare

On n’est pas des moutons. UserFriendly: Google Translate from French.

The Opioid Crisis: An Examination of How We Got Here and How We Move Forward Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. From earlier this month. David D: “Great testimony re opiod epidemic solutions.”

The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem – The New York Times (furzy)

Older workers in the US dominate employment growth – troubles ahead Bill Mitchell (UserFriendly). Important.

Antidote du hour (Tracie H):

And a bonus video, from furzy:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. fresno dan

    I haz wins: Grumpy Cat’s owner gets $710,000 court payout Japan Times

    The famously moody-looking moggy was at the center of a copyright infringement case in a California federal court that culminated with the jury ruling in favor of her human pet, Tabatha Bundse.

    The dispute was sparked by a deal signed between Granade Beverage and Bundsen over the use of Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) in a line of iced coffee drinks.
    so the other cat is named “fish sticks?”

    1. Carla

      Wait — can we just clone his domestic policy side? Because his foreign policy side really ain’t so great.

      1. Arizona Slim

        And here I thought I was the only one. Sanders’ take on foreign policy is lightweight at best.

        1. Wukchumni

          Going against the MIC grain, would be tantamount to an American politician in the 1950’s saying they were ok with Communism. Sadly Bernie can’t go there, yet.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            He also had to say Obama was a great president…enthusiastically, a few times during a debate.

            I think that was necessary too; otherwise, he’d be booed on national radio. It’s 11 dimensional…or at least more than 5 or 6 dimensions.

            Also, remember that the very old idea that it’s not up to one person, but all of us. Sanders himself knew that. To clone him, a lot of him, to be

            1. going against that idea


            2. 200 million copies of Sanders would make him half of us. At that time, you have good odds when you say us, you are referring to Sanders. It would like when you say Amazon’s wealth and you might as well say America’s wealth. That is mostly as if one man is one country, and one corporation’s wealth is one country’s.

          2. Sid_finster

            You may be right, but
            Sanders attitude may get us nuked, and at that point Medicare for All won’t matter.

            So far, only Russian forebearance has kept us out of a hot war.

            1. Rhondda

              It is for this reason that I would not vote for Sanders going forward. He seemed the lesser evil vs war profiteer HRC, but since he basically had no foreign policy…who knows for sure.

              In fact, come to think of it, I will probably never vote again. My eyes have been opened. That’s one thing DJT has done well and proper — exposed the whole system as pure evil corrupt trash. I guess it’s always been this way, I was just public school educated/propagandized to believe it was a democracy. Not. And not fixable, imho.

                  1. witters

                    So there is no escaping the empty ritual? But anyway, the analogy is wrong. I don’t vote not to vote, nor do I vote to vote. One votes, or one does not. I do not.

              1. neo-realist

                Re Sanders, I would not let the perfect be the enemy of the good: Too many potentially good domestic economic policies to be gained from a Sanders administration to totally disregard him because he is not as good (pure?) on the foreign policy side as we’d like him to be. Considering the nature of the system we live under, particularly with respect to how the Pentagon and the Intelligence apparatus rolls, it’s likely that he would be hindered from governing well or not allowed to govern if he challenged the foreign policy norms as much as we want him to.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  That implies Sanders will not do anything that will provoke some powerful entities that will

                  1. hinder him
                  2. not allow him to govern

                  1. Wukchumni

                    When you’re playing poker and are dealt 1 of kind 7 times in non matching suits or runs, it’s best to bluff if you want to stay in play.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Not when ‘they’ know you’re bluffing and will fold when confronted with powerful intelligence hands.

          3. Carla

            “Sadly Bernie can’t go there, yet.” With a record a quarter-century long in D.C., there’s no sign he would ever go there.

            1. Wukchumni

              Sooner rather than later, we’re gonna get ersatz Glasnost and repudiate the MIC en route to falling apart, for which the repudiated will claim was the cause of.

              1. Wukchumni

                He or she doesn’t exist as of yet, as we’ve gone over every candidate for the highest office in the land with a fine tooth comb-looking for flaws, and finding none.

                So, we end up with the most flawed people imaginable…

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                When there is no perfect, then, we are talking about the lesser of two evils or faults?

              3. Matt

                A candidate that you can trust to do what he says he will do. Also, a candidate that is not scared to stand up to the corrupt intelligence agencies and the military industrial complex.
                Trump is the only president I have ever seen that has had the balls to take on the corruption in the FBI and DOJ. As well as ban his cabinet members from becoming lobbyist for 5 years after they leave his cabinet. He pulled us out of the TPP and the Paris Climate Accord, Has companies coming back to the US to hire more Americans. Has had 3 consecutive quarters of 3+% GDP growth. Lowest African American unemployment levels since the statistic started being tracked in the 60s. Lowered the taxes for 90% of taxpayers. Cut 22 regulations for every 1 regulation that was added.

                Trump is the promise keeper. I prefer to just a tree by its fruits, not is appearance or style. Trump’s presidency has produced plenty of fruits for the prosperity of the U.S.

          4. John k

            Trump was dumb enough to publicly go against cia and pro peace w Russia before being pres. Only way would be to take power and replace top guys… then, gingerly, begin pulling back some of the foreign bases, consolidation, not in purview of Congress like domestic ones…
            My fond hope is Bernie understands all this, and anyway thinks can win on domestic issues, so why upset mic for no reason? He’s already got enemies enough with banks and pharma, plus mic might look to a final solution if enraged.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              We hope, but there have been many occasions where he acted like he was not doing it for the MIC.

              Russian hacking, for instance, calling for independent investigation (for example, this Independent, UK, headline, 2/15/2017: Bernie Sanders calls for investigation into Flynn’s Russia links.)

        2. JohnnyGL

          I was actually wincing in pain when he said things like “Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, our middle eastern regional allies, need to do more to resolve the Syrian civil war.”

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        That’s why you pick a Veep candidate whose skills balance those of the president, which hasn’t been a factor in any election for a very long time.

        1. JBird

          Everyone has a focus and Sanders’ been almost exclusively on domestic issues like poverty for forty years, which is much better than any Presidential candidates since I guess LBJ. Of course, President Johnson did give us the Vietnam War. Still, Sanders take on foreign policy looks better than Clinton’s and Trump’s all war all the time.

  2. BillK

    Re: cars trapped in robot car park,
    I read that they were old cars used by the company to test the robot parking system. When the company went bust they just left them in the building.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder where they test flying carpets.

      Personally, I think flying carpets are less resource-demanding than flying cars.

  3. fresno dan

    NSA Deletes “Honesty” and “Openness” From Core Values Intercept (Brian C, Dr. Kevin)

    Since at least May 2016, the surveillance agency had featured honesty as the first of four “core values” listed on, alongside “respect for the law,” “integrity,” and “transparency.” The agency vowed on the site to “be truthful with each other.”
    Uh, don’t we have to applaud their honesty and openness is owning up to not having …honesty and openness? So when do they delete respect for the law, integrity, and transparency?
    BTW, am I the only one who finds the word “transparency” other than to mean actually being able to see through something annoying? Though ironically, I find their ersatz transparency a perfect example of…seeing through this….

    1. Wyoming

      “Uh, don’t we have to applaud their honesty and openness is owning up to not having …honesty and openness? So when do they delete respect for the law, integrity, and transparency?”

      Umm… I think it goes this way. Since they are officially not honest anymore they are sort of required to claim that they have respect for the law, integrity and so on and so forth. Its a system!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Our intelligence heroes are sadly trapped in the Liar Paradox:

        Everything we say is false. If they are indeed lying, they are telling the truth, which means they are lying.

        Redaction can resolve any paradox. :-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s Catch-22.

          If you are able to know and say you’re crazy, then, you’re not crazy.

    2. jgordon

      Considering it’s out now that the Obama regime used the NSA to conduct total surveillance on his political opponents from 2015 on, probably the evident lack of actual openness and honesty in the NSA’s operations vs its core values statement was causing too much cognitive dissonance. Yes, they should indeed go further and delete references to respect for law, integrity, and transparency as well.

      Or better yet they could just rewrite their mission statement into something completely honest for a change. Something like, “Our Mission Statement: among other things, we surveil everything everyone does and blackmail them into doing what we want or just illegally hand the data over to police so they can start parallel construction. We steal industrial secrets and pass them onto favored multinational companies. We also do our best to destroy politicians who aren’t 120% on board with us and we otherwise control politics in America.” Well, after Trump gets done with them they might have to be a bit more honest whether they like it or not.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Can we just pause a moment with your first statement? The president used the FBI and NSA in order to 1.) control the outcome of a presidential election; 2.) destroy a new incoming president, and 3.) absolve one candidate of felony charges.
        My question is: when? When does anything matter any more? Red team or blue, I don’t think people realize what they are giving up here: it’s something called “America”.

        1. jgordon

          It seems like a number of people from the FBI and NSA, not to mention Hillary, are about to get indicted. If it really happens we can count that as one small step towards restoring the rule of law in America. If not, then just continuing working on a plan for living in the future absent a functioning society. Arm yourself more, secure fresh water sources, make sure to grow plenty of food, etc.

        2. JBird

          I think those statements about President Obama and the NSA are over heated. However, I don’t like knowing that I would not be at surprised if it was true, and
          this disturbs me. I’m just waiting to hear President Trump, like President Nixon did, has an enemies list.

  4. The Rev Kev

    The role of accountancy firms in Carillion’s collapse is bigger than we thought

    A bit of history here. The Big Four mentioned here used to be called the Big Five. Do accountancy firms talk of the departed Fifth Big one in hushed tones around the water cooler still? You would think that what happened to Arthur Andersen might have given them a heads up on the hazards of getting into bed with your clients. Then again, that was sixteen years ago so who remembers that far back?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Speaking of bits of history, not so very long ago it was the “Big Eight.” This article gives a little context and history of “public accounting,” up to the last vestiges of “honesty and integrity” in the 80s and 90s (not that the Grand Corruption was not in place from the git-go…)

      I churched for years with a good man, the very model of an upright Puritan of the best kind, who was a partner with Arthur Andersen. He was repelled and disgusted at the way things changed from when he joined the firm in the late ’40s. He had lots of tales to tell about involvement of his partners in the activities of big Chicago banks as part of the “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” kinds of involvement in Central and South America. He was particularly exercised about how “the government” arranged to backstop loans being made on the authorization of young men, “banksters,” who got drugs and sex partners provided by the borrowing “governments,” to add to the inducements to approve “loans” that could clearly never be repaid. The sex and drugs were in addition to their compensation, which included “commissions” that were a stated percentage of the amount they signed off on. No possible problem right there, of course? Because “the government” would cover it all.

      From a pinnacle role in some of its Big Name business, he withdrew to lead the firm’s internal training programs, in the hope of instilling some kind of ethical behavior in the up-and-comers. Was finally forced out for “not going along with the program.”

      1. Jesper

        Then I suppose he might be horrified to see how the internal audits works nowadays….

        Working in internal audit gives exposure so executives and senior management, it therefore also provides the opportunity to make executives and senior management look good. So what usually happens is that internal audit praises any and all processes that executives and senior management dreamed up. But as internal auditors want to be seen to be providing a useful service they do make sure that low level executives follow the processes. Consequently any flaw in the process will be repeated over and over again. One example of the usefulness of SOX and internal audit is the banking crash…

        But it seems strange that something outsourced can still be said to be internal?

      2. clinical wasteman

        Thanks JT for your co-congregationist’s sad and pertinent story.
        How far back does “big eight” go? Don’t think I remember it, but I only started paying attention properly since getting a job as financial press-cuttings translator & simultaneously starting to read near-quant Marxists (Aufheben, Goldner, Kliman & [disclosure: my friend & Mute magazine comrade] Ben Seymour) around the creaking turn of the centuries.
        I definitely do remember the post-Enron rebirth/exhumation of Arthur Andersen as “Accenture” (complete with crassly random diacritics and clue in the name that henceforth whatever client management requires will duly be “accented”. “The customer is always right” becomes an even more unpleasant maxim when the customer is also corporate.)
        I also remember being naively shocked early on that these companies’ new “business model” so openly combined auditing/accountancy with “consultancy”, or the financial and labor market equivalent of “US military advisers”. Partly because I knew one cousin and one former co-musician who had gone into accountancy young a few years earlier. Both good and serious people who chose the profession for its stereotypically “boring” aspects – i.e. they hoped for a stable job quietly doing mathematically/technically interesting work while doing less harm than good. The very opposite of an Inspirational Consultant. Both have had to stick with it, more or less, to feed their kids, but both were disillusioned pretty quickly.
        Along with “Accenture”, one other trivial symbol of Total Depravity in the 21st century version of the sector occurs to me. Remember when “creative accounting” still had a pejorative connotation? Well, KPMG has a huge, all-glass building in the Canary Wharf complex in London, and stretching across almost a whole side of it, one letter per huge window, is the word “CREATIVITY”, spelled backwards in reversed letters. Presumably in the hope that the non-mirror version inside will remind the accountant-consultants in there to get Creative or Perish.

  5. fresno dan

    The Epistemic Quandary of the FBI and Trump Atlantic (resilc)

    Speaking of partisan frenzy, Burr’s counterpart on the House side, Representative Devin Nunes, is circulating a memo that reportedly suggests serious wrongdoing by the FBI, including improper surveillance of Trump aides under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    I would have a lot easier time taking the repubs seriously if there was SOME logic and good faith. REALLY, this is the first time FISA has been misused, ever??? And than, let’s just repass it to make it look that we are tough on terrorism without any acknowledgement of Pan-opticon, all surveillance all the time, diminished privacy, and the power of the state, and that the police are not a bunch of dis-interested fairies.

    1. Wukchumni

      Why is it always the CVBB’s Devin in the details of being some murky errand boy…

      Yeah, he’s a piece of work and then some, but you’d think the GOPhova Witnesses would change it up every now and then with some other worthy lackey?

    2. Jim Haygood

      The FISA court has been misused since its misbegotten origin in 1978, a secret court being repugnant to our former, dead-letter “constitution.”

      Eleven servile hacks in black make costly rubber stamps.

      But if it proves to be true that the spook sycophants were deceived by fraudulent oppo research into warranting the Gang of Five [Comey, McCabe, Rosenstein, Ohr, Strzok] to spy on an opposing presidential campaign, that would be a whole new frontier in judicial overreach.

      Lock ’em up!

      1. Sid_finster

        From the day I learned about the FISA courts, I knew for sure that the Constitution is a dead letter.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I’ll just note that I was one of the first in my group to assert “the fix is in” with Saint Obama, as soon as I saw ‘Lil Timmy Geithner get the nod. Sometimes it sucks being right.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I didn’t quite catch the fix, but I was skeptical when all the sudden, it appeared that we were witnessing perfection.

                  Right away, I was alarmed.

      2. Rhondda

        I think they’re going to go Benghazi on this. Any investigation will be be a coverup for “what cannot be allowed to be said.” Benghazi had an off-the-books CIA operation running weapons to Saudi/Israeli/Gulfie head-chopper jihadis. SteeleGate has what appears to be a huge, deep “sedition-without-force” conspiracy among the Clinton Cabal/Deep State (FBI/DOJ/DOS/Main Stream Media. None dare call it…so it won’t be called out. Like Benghazi it will be turned into partisan he said/she said, engaging the kneejerk tribalism of The People. They’re already laying the groundwork for it. Personally, I despair. I guess GWB was right about the constitution, it’s just a piece of paper.

        1. Rhondda

          Oh excuse me, I left CIA out of the list of conspirators. But then I did say Main Stream Media, so no doubt I repeat myself.

      3. Byron the Light Bulb

        At least the FISA 702 amendment vote was a voluntary erosion of civil liberties. We could have done it the hard way, an involuntary surrender of civil liberties. The former route leaves our dignity with some scrapes, sure, but our dignity is intact. Which cannot be said for those living under more robust security organs. Is it reasonable to assume the black glove types weren’t going to get their killer party tapes by means legal, extra-legal, or dungeon-style? That is the nature of power and the nature of people who support the abuse: crack the neck, cash the check.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Like the 702 amendment, Bush had that nasty piece of work, lawyer John Yoo, craft a disgusting little letter that “justifies” the legality of the government murdering people absent any crime or due process. But the contents of that letter itself are secret, and no one has ever been allowed to see it. So with the stroke of a sh*tty little lawyer’s pen we threw away a body of law that has protected people since the Magna Carta in 1215.

          So I’d suggest that the voluntary part of your comment is only partially true, we weren’t really given the chance to show how much “dignity”, if any, we have left.

          (Good thing the forces of light triumphed! And we elected a people’s champion, tall, dark, handsome, from the wards of Chicago, giving us Hope for Change. Who proceeded to sanction ten times the number of robot missile anonymous murder missions of his predecessor, and made sure the disgusting little letter stays in the safe and never sees the light of day).

          1. Jim Haygood

            Best way to keep stuff secret is delete it:

            Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

            However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered.

            To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.


            When little people destroy data subpoenaed by a court, it’s called obstruction of justice. When gov does it, it’s a regrettable oversight:

            The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data,” NSA’s deputy director of capabilities, identified publicly as “Elizabeth B.,” wrote in a declaration filed in October.

            “Elizabeth B” — rich. Pseudonymous government is our future.

      4. Katniss Everdeen

        It’s also worth remembering that the judge in the Michael Flynn case, Rudolph Contreras, who recused himself, without explanation, after accepting Flynn’s guilty plea, is an obama appointee to the fisa court.

        As the “coincidences” pile up and the pile is getting really smelly, the fbi/cia/nsa apologists of msnbs have taken to ridicule and the dreaded words “conspiracy theories” for refutation. Might work.

        1. John k

          Or might not. Reps have both houses and pres, the mess likely gets pursued even though some reps just love the agencies, and maybe dirt pile so high cleanup actually happens.

  6. Corbin Dallas

    I’m so happy the opiod crisis is getting the attention it deserves, if not the help it needs from the vile rich scum at the top of the government… I just can’t believe how different this is to the crack epidemic and how black families were vilified, mocked, torn apart, how the news media portrayed them as deserving victims, subhuman.

    If you’ve been around that long, the difference between these two epidemics is absolutely astounding and reveals people’s capability humanize and dehumanize, based on prejudice (in good old america, born in slavery, this prejudice articulates most visibly in race).

    1. Stephen V.

      The 1842 Treaty of Nanking not only opened the way for further opium trade, but ceded the territory of Hong Kong, unilaterally fixed Chinese tariffs at a low rate, gave Britain most favored nation status and permitted them diplomatic representation. Three million dollars in compensation for debts that the Hong merchants in Canton owed British merchants for the destroyed opium was also to be paid under Article V.
      –From Wikipedia.
      Sins of the father re: the Brits but still sounds like Karma to me.

      1. pretzelattack

        so they treated china the way we’re treating puerto rico, except we aren’t pushing opium there (yet).

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        More and more in the West, it’s seen as less than civilized to not legalize Marijuana.

        According to Wikipedia:

        In 1985, the People’s Republic of China joined the Convention on Psychotropic Substances and identified marijuana as a dangerous narcotic drug, and illegal to possess or use it.

        Could it come to this repeating of history, that we force China to permit Marijuana trade?

        1. epynonymous

          As I understand opium was legal until the West made it a trade good (and Dutch sailors introduced smoking which upped the potency). I believe MJ was banned for being a Western vice. They had the Cultural Revolution, and we had the War on Drugs… and Poverty.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            We are also seeing Wall Street and big corporations move into MJ.

            The next step is to open up markets for these investors.

            Probably will be included in the next free trade pact…or soon after.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      I’m not sure the 2 epidemics are so comparable. One was illegal from top to bottom (from manufacturer to user) while the other is profit celebrated “commerce” that just happend to kill tens of thousands of users.

      One was outside the “system”, the other is the system.

      1. barefoot charley

        The East India Company grew their opium not just legally, but required subjects to grow it across the Ganges valley, and package it for export with Company gunboats. So in comparing opioid delivery arrangements, corporate ubiquity has actually decreased! Government non-control has advanced, as government devolves to little more than outsourced corporate services. I can hardly wait till health care corps dole out cannabis rations. It’s good for kicking addictions, ha ha!

  7. crow

    John Kerry considering presidential run in 2020: report The Hill (UserFriendly, furzy)

    John who? Oh, that’s right, now I remember. Been there, done that. It was a very big fail as I recall. Can’t they find someone new?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Kerry had 400,000 MORE votes than Hillary (the second most popular votes evah!) had in Ohio with similar results across the Mid West and in PA and Iowa.

      Hillary ran up her vote total in safe states such as California or red states that were well out of reach where she picked up novelty voters and Virginia had largely already flipped. Kerry is less of a clod than Biden.

      1. HideNwatch

        Yes as I recall he was defeated by his fellow skull and bones brother and actual distant cousin Bush.

        Refused to challenge questionable results in Ohio and elsewhere that stunk to high heaven. People have died in plane crashes before being able to testify about it.

        So yeah, he’d probably be willing to be the first 2-time loser since Adlai Stevenson to keep the Oligarchy wrapped in the veneer of legitimatacy at least 4 more years.

        1. Wukchumni

          Could you imagine our president having cogent thoughts, such as Adlai’s?

          “Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.”

          “If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”

          “A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste.”

          “Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.”

          “What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is, for the most part, incommunicable. The laws, the aphorisms, the generalizations, the universal truths, the parables and the old saws — all of the observations about life which can be communicated handily in ready, verbal packages — are as well known to a man at twenty who has been attentive as to a man at fifty. He has been told them all, he has read them all, and he has probably repeated them all before he graduates from college; but he has not lived them all.

          What he knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty boils down to something like this: The knowledge he has acquired with age is not the knowledge of formulas, or forms of words, but of people, places, actions — a knowledge not gained by words but by touch, sight, sound, victories, failures, sleeplessness, devotion, love — the human experiences and emotions of this earth and of oneself and other men; and perhaps, too, a little faith, and a little reverence for things you cannot see.”

          “Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty—so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.”

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            My mother volunteered for Adlai, deeply considered the issues, and saw that the man had integrity and intelligence. She decided he had the right positions on the issues that mattered to her. She canvassed door-to-door, handed out pins, attended rallies.

            On election night she was on the bus riding home from voting and overheard a conversation behind her:
            “I’m going to vote for Ike, he’s got a nice smile”
            “Me too”

            And she thought “oh well there goes my vote”.

            (Although I and I’m sure she would take Ike’s positions today on almost everything over those of the Red/Blue corporo-fascisti on offer today…)

            1. Wukchumni

              I first read about Obama in a 2003 New Yorker, if memory serves, and thought wow, he’s from Illinois, well spoken and well read, a voice of the people, and an heir to Adlai.

              I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

    2. Wyoming

      Dang it! I had predicted that Al Gore was going to throw his hat back in the ring. Who was that guy with the funny hat who got on the tank again? Is he still alive? Or Screecher! I know he is still around. Lenin is not really laying in that Mausoleum dead he is just asleep. Let’s wake him up.

      I resolve not to vote for anyone over the age of 50 (ok, 55) here on out.

      1. BobW

        Unfortunately, I have to vote for the old white guy, whoever it is. Because identity. There’s a special place in hell, y’know…

    3. JohnnyGL

      No way, disagree on the “Kill Me Now” sentiment regarding Kerry.

      I want 2020 Dem nomination process to look like 2016 Repub nomination process where Bernie cuts down all the establishment Dems like a lawnmower cuts through grass.

      The more that get torched and embarrassed at polling <5%, the better. Bring on HRC, Biden, Cuomo, Booker, Harris, Gilibrand…..etc.

      I want ALL of them to run.

      I want ALL of them to soak their donor base.

      and I want ALL of them to get mowed down in every single primary amidst DC media chatter of a "never-Bernie" breakaway Dem vote that turns out to be a unicorn like the 'never trump' Repub base.

    4. djrichard

      Remember the “don’t taze me bro” incident? That was at a talk by Kerry. All his protestations against the conflict unfolding in front of him were completely ineffectual. This was after the election, but even so, if he was truly presidential material, it was decidedly not showing there.

  8. Ed

    “Don’t Fear Trump–Fear the Next Republican President Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly)”

    Studebaker’s essay (good site) reinforces a point I’ve been making, that the big difference between the Republican Party and Democratic Party is that the Republicans are much more populist and open to outsiders taking over the party, while the Democrats are still pretty much the machine politics party they started as.

    1. Wyoming

      In all seriousness I have been writing about this (in other venues) for several years and well before Trump appeared. I actually think we dodged a bullet to some extent with Trumps election as I had figured Hillary was going to win and when she was done the anger in Flyover was going to be so much more intense that what the Republicans threw up was going to be really seriously dangerous. Trump ‘may’ have disrupted that timeline abit by getting in the way of that really scary person coming down the pike.

      My current most favorite candidate to fit the bill for that position is still Tom Cotton whom I decided was a top candidate about 3 years ago.

      Big trouble is coming in any case.

    2. L

      I’m not so sure that is true. I would argue that in recent years the Republicans have been less successful in fending off outside challengers than the Republican machine but that is different. And the most successful “outside” challenges were either preexisting big names (i.e. Trump) or were quickly coopted by well-funded astroturfing (i.e. Tea Party Express). If anything I think that it is fairer to say that one well-funded faction of the party has been more successful at staging a hostile takeover of the whole machine and at displacing or coopting the existing professionals but that is not, I would argue, the same as a genuine outside takeover.

      If you think about it Bernie Sanders has caucused with Democrats for years and is seen by many Americans as the most popular “Democrat”. But he is still more of an outsider to the party system than the Koch brothers who have been Republican funders from way back and managed to secure a hold on the management not its wholesale elimination.

      In many ways what they did is more reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s takeover of the DNC and DCCC via the Democratic Leadership Council and the “New Democrat” movement. Clinton et al. were one faction of the party and staged a “revolt” but it was well funded and ultimately was not about changing the machine, just climbing on top of it.

  9. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re a topic not in links:

    Please help find good information about what is going on in Turkey. From multiple (mostly European sources, all ephemeral–radio/tv–), though also an NYT story last night, I’ve gotten dribs and drabs that add up to:

    –Turkey is at war with the Kurds in Syria that the US relies on/is allied with to fight IS
    –In pursuit of this war, Turkey has invaded Syria and is doing an air bombing campaign
    –One of the bombs landed too close for comfort to the 2,000 US troops in Syria (no harm done this time to US soldiers though, wasn’t *that* close)
    –Syria (Russia) has told the US to leave and the US has said no

    If the above is broadly accurate, it seems we are very close to accidental war with Turkey and more generally a real escalation of the situation.

    Sure, the U.S. could stand back and let Turkey decimate the Kurds, but unless the US troops leave, accident risk remains high. And if we let Turkey decimate the Kurds, surely the Kurds use the weapons and training we gave them against us? And to the extent we really are fighting IS, doesn’t that make IS potentially safer/stronger?

    I tried to get info this am on TV news after reading the NYT story that included the nearish miss bomb, and all anyone was talking about on the US channels was Muller/Trump/FBI emails/text and/or Davos and/or Larry Nasser. A BBC channel and one labeled “Euro” had pieces on it, but I didn’t catch them start to finish. And I prefer print. There’s this also: But still, I feel very behind the curve.

    So are the many sites you’re curating offering good, up to date info?

      1. Abigail

        Thank you, this is helpful context; I remember seeing the headline at the time, but I didn’t click through because I didn’t know enough to understand the headline properly.

      1. Hana M

        True, Rhondda. Abigail, if you are on Twitter: EHSANI2, a pro-Syrian government commentator, explains his view of things with admirable clarity. See, for example, this recent thread:

        Frankly, I’ve been following this for over 5 years sourcing my reads from commentators on all sides of the conflict and I still don’t know who to believe or what’s really going on. My only firm conclusion: the US should never have gotten involved and has no business remaining in Syria.

    1. Sid_finster

      The United States wants Syria destroyed on the way to Iran.

      Whether this task is accomplished by ISIS, The Moderate Headchopper Unicorn Army, Al Qaeda, the Turks, the Kurds or whatever does not matter to the Deep State, as long as the job gets done.

      Don’t be surprised to see any American casualties blamed on the Syrian government, using whatever flimsy logic that comes to mind.

      1. jonhoops

        Juan Cole who supported the illegal regime change operation in Libya. A thoroughly establishment viewpoint.

        1. witters

          I remember! He said it was a revolution that must be supported and couldn’t fail because it was “a revolution of young people.” Now that’s what I call stunning analysis!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Middle East Eye* is quite a good website, this very informative article was linked to yesterday. So far as I know (no expert on the region), its overview from the Turkish perspective is quite good.

      It seems most likely that the Russians are playing Turkey and the US against each other quite well. Erdogan seems to have little real strategy now that his Syrian adventures have failed – most likely his only real goal is to crush the Kurds by whatever means necessary. Its possible that the Russians have gotten a quid quo pro that Erdogan will withdraw support from the remaining rebels on the coastal border provinces, leaving the Russians and Syrians to mop up. The Syrian Kurds decided (probably unwisely) not to pursue a deal with the Russians/Assad. The Turkish invasion of Afrin has basically torn what remains of US strategy in the region to shreds – even more so in the unlikely event that the invasion successfully drives the YPG out.

      *From what I understand, its reasonably independent, although it has links to Al Jazeera, and with a bit of a bias towards political Islam (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood).

    3. Abigail Caplovitz Field

      Thank you all to the people who replied with helpful links.

      I have a horribly inhumane confession:

      In a real way, I see Syria and the Kurds as just another set of people the US has helped destroy, and normally I wouldn’t be motivated to pay particularly close to this iteration of our imperialist feeding of the commercial war machine. There’s so much else to focus on I just don’t have the bandwidth.

      But what is really catching my attention at the moment and making this iteration of our imperialist action genuinely scary to me is the potential for it to turn into a much larger destabilization/wider war. Now, maybe I’m over-reading it, and the situation really is just another garden-variety horror we’re inflicting on others. But it seems to me that we are at real risk of having some of our troops caught in the middle in a way that “forces” the US to respond militarily against Turkey. To me, that would change this from garden-variety horror into something new and potentially much larger.

      So I appreciate understanding the backstory of US hubris and incompetence (through announcing a permanent place in Syria) that predictably led to Turkey’s invasion and march toward a city held in part by US troops, the logic of which an effort to prevent Kurds from using that city as a base of anti-Turkish operations. I appreciate understanding that the Russians were willing to sell out Syria and the Kurds to tolerate this invasion, once the Kurds would not submit to Syria’s border control, to prevent that US base from being realized. But I guess I’m just now getting obsessive over knowing the minute by minute unknowable: how likely is it that Turkey will blow up American soldiers in Manbij, and/or how likely is it that Kurds will blow up American soldiers to make it look like Turkey did? For sure, the links you all gave will be much more likely to tell me that info, so I’ll keep checking them, thanks again

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There is of course enormous potential for wider destabilisation in the Middle East on any number of fronts, although to be honest I think the issue of the US and Turkey coming to blow is well down the list. The reality is that even if the Turks were to kill US servicemen any action by the US in relatiation would blow up NATO entirely and would make it almost certain that Erdogan would seek to throw in his lot with Putin. Even the idiots surrounding Trump would see this as a catastrophe and would contrive to cover up whatever happened as ‘an accident’ or, more likely, blame the Russians somehow.

        And from the Turkish side, while Erdogan is increasingly erratic and apparently out of his depth, there is no way he will risk an out and out conflict with the US. There is, lets remember, a very large US military presence within Turkey itself.

        As usual, the losers in this will be the Kurds. The US will abandon them rather than face losing Turkey from NATO. The Syrian Kurd negotiating hand has diminished dramatically over the last few months. It seemed certain that they could do a deal for some sort of autonomy within Syria. Now they will shortly have no friends except the wild (and relatively easy to defend) mountains of the region.

        1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

          Plutonium Kim,

          I take comfort in your analysis re the idea that Erdogan will not risk any sort of real conflict with the US. I do not share your confidence that Trump would be unwilling to blow up NATO/allow something to escalate unexpectedly–I really do not believe there are the sort of intrinsic limits on/in him that there are in most leaders. I’m not a party to the whole Trump is the devil or a Putin tool or anything like that, but I do think is ego and impulse issues just make conventional analysis of what he will/won’t do problematic.

          Let put to you this way– What happens if a bomb goes off that is attributed to Turkey that kills a couple hundred American soldiers?

          The bomb could happen by accident; it could be deliberate by either Kurds seeking to split US-Turkey to end their decimation, or it could be recklessness by Turkey.

          If the US believes Turkey blew up American soldiers, What is the Trump tweet? What is the Trump action?

          But still, I accept I’m over reacting, maybe in part because I’m just cluing in belatedly. (And as much as I fear Trump’s ego + impulse issues, I’m not sure anyone can top GWB’s destabilization of the region, and I recognize Obama fanned the flames).

          Beyond that I very much agree with you that wider war/destabilization is plausible on many fronts; I guess they are now for me just part of the background landscape of instability and danger. Maybe Turkey’s just the new shiny thing catching my attention.

          And yes, the Kurds are the biggest losers

      2. Jim Haygood

        On the bright side, a US-Turkish armed conflict could bust up NATO forever, depriving it of access to Turkey’s Incirlik air base which is key to threatening Iran and other regional actors.

        NATO member Germany already bailed out of Incirlik last year after its own spat with Turkey.

        1. John k

          A lovely thought… and Russia ends up with Incirlik, further moving us out of ME… and adventures… sadly, trump will be persuaded to leave these tough decisions to the pros… just send money…

      3. Judith

        You might find this article, about the death throes of empire, of interest:

        From the article:

        The transition from hegemony to coexistence has never been easy for any great power, and there is nothing exceptional about the temptation to use military force to try to preserve and prolong the old order. This has often led to catastrophic wars and it has always failed.

        It is difficult for any political or military leader to preside over a diminution of his or her country’s power in the world. Military leaders are rewarded for military strategies that win wars and expand their country’s power, not for dismantling it. Mid-level staff officers who tell their superiors that their weapons and armies cannot solve their country’s problems do not win promotion to decision-making positions.

        As Gabriel Kolko noted in Century of War in 1994, this marginalization of critical voices leads to an “inherent, even unavoidable institutional myopia,” under which, “options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Hegemony to coexistence.

          It involves

          1. the hegemon recognizing the new reality.

          2. whether the previously hegomonized (or hegemoned) can forget or forgive.

          So, it’s not all about the hegemon.

    1. John k

      The shuttle required a station to go to, and the station required a shuttle to service it. Neither ever had any other raison d’etre.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That station should have a dockyard and ship construction facility attached to it for the construction of ships and probes for the whole system. Trouble is that it is easier and more profitable to simply keep looking down. It could have been a true International Station as well but politics came into play and the Chinese, for example, were told that they would never have a place aboard. They are now planning for their own.
        And the Space Shuttle was never what it seemed to be. It was the design that was built after the Pentagon got through adding their requirements to it which changed it. We lost two shuttles out of a fleet of six but the first one was caused by management. People forget but “Challenger” was destroyed when management ordered it to take off in dangerous weather. The reason for that was because they wanted to please Reagan as he was apparently planning to talk to an onboard civilian teacher during his State of the Union speech.

        1. foghorn longhorn


          Pretty amazing that the country that went to the “moon” in the sixties can’t fly 250 miles to the space station 50 years later.

  10. bwilli123

    Re Facebook
    90 minute discussion between Psychology Professors Jordan Peterson and Jonathon Haidt on the perilous state of the University (which historically permeates into wider society 5 years later)
    Haidt identifies a quantitative difference between the attitude of children born post 1995 and those born before and the effects of this difference on Universities.
    ( Starts at 1:16:30 until 1:20:30)
    He says wide research identifies three reasons. 1) The loss of free, unsupervised play 2) Social media which increases anxiety and depression in both sexes, but more particularly girls (” the largest single reason why things are going haywire on campus”) and 3) increased political polarization.
    Facebook in 2006 lowered its minimum age entry (and with no independent age verification- you could actually be 11) and 2007 saw the introduction of the iphone.
    Social media through its use of “likes” encourages mob formation and mob attacks. Whilst males are more likely to be playing games on their iphones, girls are more likely engaged in “reputation savaging.”

    Facebook and its ilk should, on the evidence, be at least be adults only.

    1. perpetualWAR

      If I was a parent, Facebook would be banned in our household. As it is, I am not on any “social” media, as I believe it’s anti-social.

      I would rather meet my neighbors, go to a coffee shop or pub, etc.

    2. Greg Marquez

      Do most kids use Facebook? Not in my experience.

      Kids around here use SnapChat and Instagram. I think it’s the ephemeral quality of snap chat stories that is considered a plus.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the avereage age of a Facebook user was in the 40s.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      Facebook already is only for adults. People under ~25 rarely use it for social interaction with peers. If they have an FB account, it’s for staying in touch with older family and the like.

      They use Snapchat and Instagram.

  11. Kevin

    “Illegal shipments of the powerful and addictive opioid fentanyl are pouring into the United States by mail from China and the US Postal Service must step up the use of hi-tech detection methods to fight the problem, according to a congressional report unveiled on Wednesday.”

    Let’s dump it on the lap of the already overloaded Postal Service to figure this out…as opposed to addressing China directly.

    1. Wukchumni

      I remember about 15 years ago, USPS was diligently checking parcels from the UK for ecstasy, a friend that worked @ the post office @ the time told me.

    2. Sid_finster

      To be fair, all manner of household goods are sold to US purchasers direct from China. If you are willing to wait, they can usually beat anyone’s price, shipped to your door.

      The same could not be said about parcels from Britain.

      1. a different chris

        Yeah you can find stuff on Ebay for like $2, free shipping from China. Tell me how that works.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There are a few Chinese courier companies that use regular mail to give discount courier services from the West to China. Essentially, they work out the cheapest mailing deal per kilo on bulk mailing, then collect and package up goods into that weight (I think 20 kg boxes), and then disassemble the packages at either end. By doing this they can send products by regular mail at a significantly cheaper rate than it would be if you mailed it yourself.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That sounds like a smart way to do business, though it

            1. likely violates declaration requirements, or at least, it would be an area it to look in to


            2. likely involves using bulk shipping for a purpose it is not intended for (one sender to one receiver, not for piggybacking).

          2. a different chris

            Thanks. So there may be some human in some basement somewhere in the US that disassembles these packages. Hmm I have room in *my* basement.

            Maybe I will order one of these “cheap” things and see if I can find signs (postmarks would be coolest) of this having happened.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        It goes the other way too. Vast amounts of baby formula of course, but also lots of other products (just today, a Chinese friend just mailed, at enormous cost, a crate of wine from Ireland to a friend in Hunan – the mail cost was three times what the wine cost, but its still cheaper than buying wine in China).

        A friend in NY has a small prospering business selling individual clothing items to customers in China. Its often a lot cheaper (sales taxes are very high in China) and of course less likely to be faked.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It will help to know what hi-tech detection methods, and if they do work.

      And if the Postal Service failed to deploy that, can they fix it?

  12. Wukchumni

    As Orange County authorities gear up to clear the Santa Ana River Trail of its burgeoning homeless population, they need to realize that sweeping the area won’t solve the county’s homelessness problem. It will only move those people to other locales — in Orange County.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the county can’t offer even temporary housing to all its homeless people. There is a dearth of permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless and a shortage of short-term shelter beds. One of the biggest shelters, at the former bus terminal, is an open-sided parking structure wrapped in plastic. That’s shameful.

    This is precisely what Fresno did with their homeless city, that was sequestered over by the south side of town, in a derelict section near old warehouses. Then one day, Raus! Raus!

    The end result was scattering them all over the city, making the situation much more visible and quite the scramble for them to find new digs, often cheek by jowl next to polite society, or what passes for it in Fresno.

    1. Kevin

      if only Orange County were a bit wealthier, they could maybe address the problem.
      I’m sure the Real Housewives of Orange County will take up the issue on an upcoming episode.

    2. perpetualWAR

      Or they could do what Seattle did, sweep them off the greenbelts of the interstate, yet allow them to set up their tents on city sidewalks.

      Can’t wait to leave this insane city!

      1. Brian

        The homeless are just like you and I. Many of them were destroyed by a targeted attack to relieve them of their homes by our governments, national and state. The homes they lived in were valuable to vulture capital for rental, and the courts agreed to strip homeowners of their property rights by rigging foreclosures and eliminating the rule of law in every state. It was wealth transfer.
        One day soon those of you still trying to pay a mortgage that has already been erased by direct payments to the banks, servicers, loan sharks and crime families, will have a financially challenging event that will put you among the homeless. You will be looking for a place to live that has no locks and no security, be it a storm drain, under a bridge, in a cellar, or a cabin in the sky. You will find you have no help because you have given no help to those that were previously fleeced. You will find that all the invective about these poor folks trying to make their way will come back to haunt you and that your life will be a scene like those in Orange County that band together in numbers in hope that there is some protection from the elements and the wolves. Go back in time and visit the Grapes of Wrath before it is too late.
        Or ignore it all and be surprised when you wake up living in a tent.

  13. Lemmy Caution

    RE: AI-generated fake porn.
    What we really need is for someone to graft Bernie’s head onto the body of whichever corporate Democrat ends up running in 2020. Otherwise we’ll really, really be screwed.

    Sure, it may get a bit awkward if the leading candidate is female, but hey … isn’t getting past gender labels part of the party’s values?

  14. Stephen Haust

    Trump Slams Erdogan Over Syria Attack

    I think he’s just upset that they have a wall and we don’t

  15. The Rev Kev

    We Are Truly Fucked: Everyone Is Making AI-Generated Fake Porn Now

    Long time coming as the porn industry often seems to be on the leading edge of technology. After “Jurassic Park” came out back in ’93 with its computer-generated dinosaurs, I thought that it would only be a matter of time before the technology got to the point where studios would be able to create actors and actresses that were totally digital. Consider the advantages – no sky high pay packets for superstars, no tantrums or the like, the ability to give multiple interviews around the world without the bother of travel, one on one with fans, etc. If you can’t tell if an actor on the screen is real or not, I think that most people would accept it and each digital star would have their own fan base before long.
    I had not consider the ramifications for the porn industry here but I can see a few. You would probably have porn actors/actresses create digital models of themselves (different sizes, colours, body shapes, etc) – a sort of template if you will. From here you would be able to download and import the facial features, voices, etc. of whoever you would want (after paying for it) in your own tailored porn film. Hell, you could import your own features to the partner of the porn star for that matter. Tell me that people will not pay for that film to be made – all digitally done of course and all looking like reality on screen. Now if you will all excuse me I just have to log onto the Patent Office website.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      The article talks about grafting ‘stars’ faces onto porn, but what happens when somebody pulls all the versions of *your* face from Facebook pages and attaches them to a porn body to create a revenge video? There are plenty of different body types available in porn , not all of it ‘classically ‘ beautiful. I’d be more concerned for my own image.

      1. Wukchumni

        I hate all the attention I get online when everybody thinks i’m Stormy Daniels, and not just another pretty face.

      2. Peter Pan

        I’m waiting for an AI generated fake “golden showers” video of Donald Trump to be shown by establishment democrats as real evidence that the infamous dossier was correct.

    2. CalypsoFacto

      Novelist William Gibson gave NC the invaluable term ‘jackpot’; porn actors with digitally enhanced or altered faces/body parts are also a background feature in his earlier book Idoru. No fancy term for them, but the process of tracing back the digital alterations to assess the original person is a minor plot point taking up a page or two. It’s even used in an attempted blackmail. I believe that book is from 1995.

  16. perpetualWAR

    Thank you for the article on the overreach of the military in land use approval. This is shocking abuses of military might.

    My Representative is a co-sponsor. I will reach out today.

    1. crittermom

      That article had me screaming “Whoa!”, as I saw it as setting a horrible precedent.
      Then it goes on to say, “… as of January 2012, the military had already completed 92 JLUSs around the country in the vast majority of states.”

      Seems it is not a precedent but has been quietly going on for some time all over the country.
      I had no idea–& I sure don’t like it.

      Thank you once again to NC for the education!

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “If you want to export plastic junk, it’d be nice if you will take plastic waste.”

    Chinese labs use mail to send opioid fentanyl into US, Senate report finds Guardian. Resilc: “Looks like anti-Chinese front opening up on several sides.

    It’s not a anti-Chinese front to say “please take back what you dish out.”

    As of now, China sends out billion dollars of plastic junk every week or month, and refuse to take back plastic waste.

    I wonder if Trump will slap tariffs on Chinese plastic products.

    1. Wukchumni

      If we threaten to stop buying Chinese made consumer goods, maybe we can force them to take our trash back home 6,479 miles for free on their dime in empty TEU’s again, yeah that’s the ticket.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        China’s response could be like this: “We will refuse to sell you polyester shirts.”

        “Only 100% biodegradable cotton from now on.”

    2. Katsue

      Why would they take back the plastic waste, when the items that are packaged in the waste are consumed elsewhere?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Recycle (either the package or the item*) and re-sell, maybe.

        *the item could be, say, a plastic toy.

      2. jawbone

        Are most plastic items, either as containers or items made with plastic, actually designed and ordered by some version of businesses catering to US consumerism? If yes, then the recycling should be part of the responsibility of the buyer and importer.


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In subprime loans, I think we look to the sellers, hopefully not the buyers, or not just the buyers.

  18. Wukchumni

    You know what be doubly ironic with this recycling dilemma?

    If cities decided to spend a ton of money building actual recycling plants that turned plastic into something useful-instead of way stations for trans-shipment to China, and blew through what was left of their pensions money in the process.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Today the 4-week average of unemployment claims dropped (signifying economic strength) from last week’s value. Industrial materials prices motored higher, while Bloomberg Consumer Comfort eased one tick from last week’s 17-year high.

    Consequently, Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator busted out huge, finally eclipsing its high of last Aug 31st as the US economy wails on into the mythic. Chart:

    The financial press is chattering excitedly about a ‘trifecta’ of three consecutive quarters of 3%-plus groaf. Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now estimate for the 4th quarter is 3.4%. Tomorrow the first official estimate is released.

    1. allan

      CAPE Fear:

      The World’s Priciest Stock Market [Robert Shiller]

      It is impossible to pin down the full cause of the high price of the US stock market. That alone should remind all investors of the importance of diversification, and that the overall US stock market should not be given too much weight in a portfolio. …

  20. Wyoming

    “The research paper finds that since 2000, workers older than 55 have captured almost all the net employment growth leaving the prime-age workers (more than a million) languishing.”

    Not me! I have 3 volunteer jobs….oh wait. Hmm. Well they would just give them to some immigrant if I was not available anyway. No Millennials here.

  21. Jim Haygood

    Again today the US dolor [sic] is sinking like a stone in the wake of Mnuchin’s comments at Davos that a weaker dollar is “good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.” Not clear who “us” may be, but we’ll let that pass.

    Looks like the 90 threshold is gone for good in the 5-year chart of DXY. Can you spell “macro regime change”?

    Anyone recall weak-dollar syndrome from the bad old 1970s? It includes higher inflation, runaway oil prices, real estate mania, hoarding of precious metals, and higher nominal GDP growth (until the GDP deflator catches up and knocks down the real growth featured in the GDP report).

    As a dynamic response to a falling dollar, the US economy will burn blowtorch hot as ill-timed fiscal stimulus pours gasoline on a raging fire. Needless to say, there will be a price to pay … but not just now. Party like 2019!

    1. Wukchumni

      You had it made in the shade if you were sitting pretty on a 19% CD circa 1981. Back then, people bought houses to live in, not speculate on.

      Oh well, wonder where they’ll hold the new financial planning session to see which currency gets to be top dog?

      I’d go with the Beijing Woods Conference.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Billionaire hedge fund honcho Ray Dalio spells out the implications:

        More precisely, a weak currency:

        Reduces the currency holder’s buying power in the rest of the world;
        Devalues the debt denominated in the weakening currency;
        Supports prices of assets denominated in that currency, giving the illusion of increasing wealth;
        Raises a country’s inflation rate;
        Stimulates domestic activity.

        None of this is what the U.S. economy needs now.

    2. Greg Marquez

      Re: Weak dollar syndrome.

      It also served as a kind of debt jubilee for the poor and middle class. The only people a “strong dollar” helps are people with dollars or people who are owed dollars.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘[The weak dollar] also served as a kind of debt jubilee for the poor and middle class.’

        Not to mention a debt jubilee for another big debtor, the US government.

        It’s early days yet, but our overlords’ long-term plan to wiggle out from a soon-to-be 120% debt-to-GDP ratio may be to simply “inflate it away.”

        It’s all fun and games until a food riot pokes out somebody’s eye. :-(

        1. Goyo Marquez

          Food riots… is that a feature of inflation? You’d think then that German food riots would be the focus of infatuation with Weimar hyperinflation not wheelbarrow wallets.

          I’m pretty sure the deflation of the 1930s did produce food riots though.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Food riots have accompanied the great Venezuelan inflation, and were a factor in the Arab spring as well.

    3. curlydan

      I thought the Treasury Secretary had to pledge to say “we support a strong dollar” upon swearing in. Time are changing. Sorry, Ben Bernanke–we are turning Japanese.

  22. Craig H.

    Presidents Club to close after harassment scandal Financial Times. May set a speed record in journalistic scalp collecting.

    This was the greatest tabloid story of the year and it’s in the FT.

    1. who says investigative journalism is dead?

    2. when I read the FT article yesterday they had a picture of the entrance with faces pixelated but inside they named names, including names from a stolen seating chart with the additional information that they could not confirm the names actually attended the party.

    3. if anybody inside the Be Powers structure had been there I don’t believe for one second this story would have been printed. The shamed are all Harvey-Weinstein-level or lower.

    4. I still haven’t seen the wage scale. The way the story was described in the FT it wasn’t easy money but there was plenty of it. The women working at the party were informed this was going to be like a Motley Crue video. Does anybody know how much they got paid?

    5. In my entire life I have only known one man who thought it was a good idea when he was drunk to expose himself to a woman at a party as a seduction maneuver. He is several pay grades above me but that is only N=1 so I am not able to infer that this is any kind of class indicator.

      1. Craig H.

        Yeah I started skimming when they started printing names and job titles and I missed that part. So these are working class women aspiring to be professional class women and the men think they are aristocrats.

        If I was one of the two FT reporters volunteered for this I think I might be angry. I suppose maybe FT gave them hazardous duty pay?

    1. vidimi

      Harvey Weinstein was not some poor shrimp who got caught up in the fishing net. Harvey Weinstein was a true whale.

      He was a power player not just in Hollywood but also in Washington.

  23. polecat

    Nice antidote (top image) …

    Yesterday, the temperature warmed, and the sun popped out enough so my bees could do their needed cleansing (defecation) flights .. ‘Yea !’
    Still alive, and hoping they survive the remaining two months of wet and cold until either the maples bloom … or yours truly resumes to feeding them, or both.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Our Postal Service is also to blame.

    From the Guardian link:

    Investigators refused to divulge the names of the labs. According to the report, the US Postal Service has failed to widely deploy a system to capture “advanced electronic data” about packages destined for American ports, which would help identify suspicious mail to be turned over to US Customs and Border Protection agents.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      In a joint statement issued today, UPS and FedEx declared, “The US Postal Service is to blame.”

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          My suspicion is that the USPS will get right to it after they finish pre-funding their pension for 75 years.

          In a joint statement issued today, UPS and FedEx declared, “The US Postal Service is underfunding their pension plan.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t know if that has anything to do with not using hi-tech detection methods.

            The question to ask is if those methods work, and if the USPS failed to use them, can it be fixed so they use them?

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              The USPS is already optically scanning every piece of first class mail, every package, every box. It is a “feature” of automatic zip code and address routing. By demanding a high tech solution, the complainers are essentially demanding that every envelope and package be run through a gas spectrometer. This is a really expensive proposition. But, since our country refuses to elect people with science backgrounds, or put scientists in charge of our science agencies, perhaps this is understandable. “The USPS needs to use a high tech solution. Yeah, that’s the ticket, one of those high tech solution majiggythingies.”

              Perhaps, if our congress critters would allow the postal service to raise the first class postage rate to a buck a letter, they could afford some of these mindless mandates.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                This is what needs to be discussed, the failure of the present system (that’s how it’s getting in), and one possible solution is charging more for bulk shipping, especially from countries that take advantage of the current low rates, and use it to fund those checks.

                It’s to blame.. I think that’s a problem for people to read.

                I want to clarify – it’s a problem, it’s to blame, along with other failures.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    A surcharge, a handling fee, an inspection fee or tariff.

                    A sovereign has many options.

                    I and you might like that, but attacking the $2-per-order US market from overseas like it’s being done now is a huge threat to American manufacturing.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      Sorry, i am still trying to recover from my shock and awe obsession with that $2 free-shipping order from China scheme, a small idea that is bringing down US manufacturing and retail chains, young and old (century old).

                      How many retail bankruptcies can be traced to that?

                      So, if you don’t mind, please go through how Charles Ponzi relates to how the Postal Service has been played (opioid shipping and $2 free shipping orders).

                    2. Wukchumni

                      Sorry, I have no idea what you are talking about, in regards to this $2 free-shipping order business from China, as it seems like a contradiction in terms.

  25. BenX

    Face swap porn – people are missing the point. We already live in an age where facts are malleable. Imagine the near future when anyone with a computer can create audio and video evidence of crimes or misdeeds committed by [insert face here].

    You need a convincing video of Bin Laden admitting to masterminding 9/11? Hold my beer.

    1. polecat

      This is a prime example of the unthinking idiocy of the neoliberacon/#resistance/social virtue/3rd-wave feminist crowd. THEY can’t ever conceive of being the recipient of such nefarious technological chicanery directed towards them from any combination of the 3 Letters, should the .. uh .. need, arise.

  26. rd

    Re: Older workers capturing job growth

    II am seeing something that should be disconcerting to economists. I work in a field with a lot of baby boomer engineers/scientists. In many cases, the companies are not setting up solid apprenticing programs to have the young engineers/scientists work closely with the older experienced people. That was how I was trained, but there is so much focus now on quarterly and annual finance reporting, that the mechanics of developing the future generation of technical leaders is being left by the wayside. In some cases, Baby boomers are retiring and there is nobody coming up behind them who have learned a fraction of what the baby boomers know.

    I think a massive amount of the declining productivity is a management crisis where the corporate managers are not structuring their organizations to maintain and increase productivity in the future as their work force transitions.

    One major poorly understood effect that 401ks have is that once an employee has separated from a firm, there is no more attachment once any corporate stock is converted into diversified investment. The umbilical cord is entirely severed. Your 401k is yours and the future success of the company is irrelevant to the employee as there is no pension plan promising to pay you money for 30 more years. So it is really incumbent on management to have a transition plan as they have removed all financial incentive for the employee to try to create one. The transition plan is not a two-week handover; it usually takes years of training to replicate the knowledge that just walked out the door.

  27. a different chris

    >An artist’s impression gives an idea of how researchers think Anna Catharina Bischoff might have looked

    I respect that artist — I would have been unable to resist the temptation of sketching out Boris in period-appropriate drag…

  28. Oregoncharles

    “Assad’s Victory: What Comes after War in Syria?”
    A look at maps showing the respective territories in Syria, and who controls them, puts the lie to “Assad’s Victory”. He may have the upper hand, but he still controls less than half of Syria. Guess who controls the other half? The Kurds. Granted, their half is mostly desert, but it also includes the oil fields, and extremely strategic Afrin. And Assad’s portion is still larded with zones controlled by the insurgents, including some ISIS.

    Strategically, Russian permission to Erdogan to invade Afrin is part of the bargaining process between Assad’s government and the Kurds, who remain one of the most effective forces in the area. I’m not claiming there are talks going on – there should be, but that doesn’t mean they are. Bargaining doesn’t necessarily involve direct communication. Assad and the Russians are the Kurds’ best chance of gaining something out of this war.

    That said, there is no reason the US has to commit troops to punish Erdogan for his presumption. All they have to do is supply the Kurds with effective anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Remember what Hezbollah did to the mighty Israeli army? Anti-tank rockets. And if some of them reach the PKK, the lesson would be even stronger.

    Erdogan’s main bargaining chip in all this is US dependence on an airbase in Turkey. If the US has found alternatives, that might have lost its value.

    US policy is so incoherent that all this is unpredictable. But it doesn’t make geographic sense to say that Assad has won – unless he can ally himself with the Kurds. Note that there seems to be little or no fighting between them and Syrian forces.

    1. JBird

      Worse, it’s a war that shouldn’t have happened, but did because of corruption especially by Assad’s inner circle, among other things, hogging all the ground water this denying the average farmer any during a drought. When tanks and helicopters were used on the then peaceful protesters, they fired back. That is what the Assad regime wanted. Strictly peaceful protests are hard to suppress as getting too violent merely creates martyrs and often strengthens the protesters. When it mutually violent, the government could muddy the waters, and, they thought, quickly destroy them. It obviously didn’t work. So we have a war that has destroyed much of the country, embittered the population, extirpated the moderates (both the government and ISIS targeted them first), and the country is still divided.

      The Syrian Civil War is an example of why I am pessimistic about peaceful change even in the United States. Like with the Syrian regime, the current American regime could just relent and spread out the wealth some. People generally don’t want conflict, but the ruling class, or maybe oligarchy, are tightening their control and gathering even more resources. Peaceful resistance is likely to push them aside, but if the regime can create violent resistance they then can unleash the militarized police.

      (What does it mean when I think American regime instead of the Federal Government?)

    2. The Rev Kev

      It is more that that airbase that the US needs Turkey. Turkey controls the bottleneck to the Back Sea which the US Navy has been attempting to turn into an American lake against Russia. Now take a look at the map at and you will see that the yellow is controlled for the moment by the Kurds. The only reason that they hold so much is because of American air power. Take out that factor and shortly the Kurdish sector would shrink back to what it was. Also note that the yellow bit is bordered by countries totally hostile to their continued existence – countries allied with the US but that have to put their vital interest first.
      If you look at the map at (which is several months old) you will see the number and location of US bases in Syria – probably more by now. Numbers? Including ‘private’ contractors I would guess at between 5 to 10 thousand people. Totally illegal but the Pentagon has already announced that they will never leave – ever. That can only mean that they intend to set up their own country there using the Kurds, FSA and ex-ISIS Jihadists. Sure, the Pentagon can keep supplying the Kurds with anti-tank missiles but the Turks may do to the US what it did to Russia by supplying to Jihadists exact latitude and longitude coordinates to American formations and saying after: “I guess that was just a lucky shot that.” Maybe make a deal with Jihadists not to ever attack them while they are attacking the Kurds. Apparently that is already happening in the east.
      Just this morning I have read that the Kurds are asking Assad for help in defending Afrin against the Turks and send troops.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That last bit is interesting; sounds like they’re already trying to put together an alliance. One thing Syria does NOT want is the former imperial overlord occupying its territory. Better the Kurds, who are at least Syrians, on some sort of autonomy basis.

        Of course, the odd s are the US will mess this up, too.

      2. VietnamVet

        Syria shows that the American Empire will not collapse softly. Clearly the Kremlin allowed Turkey to attack Afrin. The reason must be to force the Kurds to rejoin their lesser evil, Syria. The USA is in the middle of nowhere with Kurdish partners who if they had any sense would hold American soldiers as hostages for a better deal. The loss of Turkey would be as great a defeat as losing China or Vietnam. The only way to avoid an escalating catastrophe is a peace treaty that divides the Middle East up into sovereign states; ends Israel’s land grab and splits up the Kurds to placate Turkey. If Donald Trump is still President, he may go along with this; except, he is surrounded by the venal incompetent establishment who got the USA in the endless wars in the first place and who want to continue to suck up tax dollars for the war machine, forever.

        These are the same Keystone Kops who used the dodgy dossier to bug the President Elect (found nothing) and launched with the media a counter coup to upgrade Mike Pence to the Presidency. This has been a failure so far.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ThinkProgress, Solar Tariff:

    “Chinese manufacturers have aggressive cost reduction plans in place already,” Shiao said, and the U.S. is only 10 percent of the global market. But GTM’s research finds that the tariffs will reduce U.S. installations about 10 percent over the next five years. So any overall impact on Chinese solar manufacturing and sales will be quite modest indeed.

    Is Mr. Shiao saying China is complaining too much, for something so, or quite, modest?

    And this needs correction:

    In addition to punishing emerging markets in several red states, experts say the new tariff will also backfire for all U.S. taxpayers. “The U.S. federal government will end up footing some of the bill for Trump’s decision,” Hugh Bromley, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) solar analyst, said in an email. “Half of any increase in system costs will be offset through the tax code via the Investment Tax Credit and depreciation.”

    Taxpayers do not fund the US government, and its Investment Tax Credit.

    It costs the taxpayers nothing.

  30. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem – The New York Times (furzy)

    To the poor, the deep poverty problem was never hidden.

    So, presumably, the New York Times is just conversing with its rich readers, or assuming that the poor in the US are not parts of the US.

    1. newcatty

      “…assuming that the poor in the US are not parts of the US.” Think that sums it up succinctly. In our feudalistic country the poor are just modern peasants. We have rapacious hierarchy of nobility and landed gentry who have no sense of any obligation to even provide crumbs from the table to the peasants or a hut to live in on the far reaches of the estates. The middle merchant and artisan classes are purposefully shrunk as globilazation of peasants who are cheaper to exploit supplant the local sources. If hungry or destitute the peasants still will severely punished for modern poaching or stealing from betters’ land or coffers. The feudalism is masked by the pretense of a constitutional republic. As the poor grow in literal numbers everywhere in the kingdom, the elite know that they must up their control. So many ways to do it! Create fear and loathing of the other. Destroy spiritual morality with mindless entrainment through seductive and dumb entertainment. What is the opiate of the people? Those homeless poor and broken people need to stay better hidden. Our modern knights of the round table are not bravely protecting us from dragons of old, but from serpents of now.

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