Links 2/13/18

South African lions eat ‘poacher’, leaving just his head BBC (Dr. Kevin)

Red wolves may be going extinct in the wild — again Washington Post

Beewolves have been successfully using the same antibiotics for 68 million years PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Unknown Language Discovered in Malaysia Smithsonian (Chuck L)

Scientists Discover Hundreds of 2D Materials That Could Be The Next Graphene ScienceAlert (David L)

Study Finds Gender And Skin-Type Bias In Commercial Artificial-Intelligence Systems ScienceBlog (Dr.. Kevin)

The Flu

St. Louis saw the deadly 1918 Spanish flu epidemic coming. Shutting down the city saved countless lives St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Kevin W)

In search of surrogates, foreign couples descend on Ukraine BBC

New DNA nanorobots successfully targeted and killed off cancerous tumors TechCrunch (David L)


How to Manipulate Stocks: Chinese Authorities Step in to Stop the Rout Wolf Street (EM)

Bullet Trains Are Transforming the World’s Biggest Migration Bloomberg (resilc)

Chinese Tourists Are Taking Over the Earth, One Selfie at a Time Bloomberg

The US is the world’s second worst tax haven, say Tax Justice Networks ranking Quartz


Brexit: Varadkar and May to work on plan for frictionless Irish border Guardian

Brexit in the Boardroom FTI Consulting. OMG, what are these people smoking? Even allowing for the UK participation, a lot of people are not paying close attention:

…. we spoke with over 2,500 leaders of large businesses across four major EU economies (France, Germany, Spain and the UK)…

Timing: 75% of firms expect clarity on the UK/EU relationship by June 2018 at which point ‘irreversible changes’ will be made to their business planning.

What kind of Brexit: 65% of all respondents believe there will be tariff free access for goods, 52% believe the ECJ will still have jurisdiction, and 59% that there will be free movement of people.

Big Four ‘feasted’ on dying Carillion The Times

Oxfam chief, Mark Goldring, knew of sex claims The Times

Oxfam crisis spreads as Haiti suggests aid workers exploited children for sex Washington Post

EU tells Turkey to avoid damaging actions after Cyprus ship incident Guardian

New Cold War

All Western leaders were lying, promising not to expand NATO Defend Democracy

Dutch FM Admits Lying About Hearing Putin Speak of ‘Greater Russia’ in 2006 Sputnik (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook employee concerned company tracking his phone for leaks: Report Business Insider (Chuck L)

Talk down to Siri like she’s a mere servant – your safety demands it The Register (Kevin W)

The UK’s hidden role in Assange’s detention Jonathan Cook (Anthony L)

U.S. Intelligence Shuts Down Damning Report on Whistleblower Retaliation Daily Beast (Chuck L)

German court rules Facebook use of personal data illegal Reuters

Trump Transition

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a commercially run venture, NASA document shows Washington Post (furzy). With branding opportunities too, no doubt.

Abuse furor risks gender backlash for Trump, GOP The Hill

Trump’s infrastructure plan: no money, no action, no surprise Mike Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times. Great one-stop shellacking.

All Guns, No Butter Slate (resilc)

Trump’s budget would end student loan forgiveness program CNBC. UserFriendly: “I seriously hate this country.”

Trump budget seeks cuts to domestic programs, Medicare, favors military and wall Reuters

How Popular Is Donald Trump? FiveThirtyEight

Omarosa: Pence Would Be So Much Worse Than Trump Daily Beast. (resilc)

Senate braces for showdown over ‘Dreamers’ The Hill. Help me. You never pick a fight when you don’t have a battle plan.

Why a simple, lifesaving rabies shot can cost $10,000 in America Vox (resilc)

Chart of the Day: Does Your State Allow Police to Have Sex With People They Arrest? Feministmag (resilc). Wowsers. Telling that only now is this finally being raised as an issue….shows the class priorities of too many soi-disant feminists.

Steven A. Cohen’s Investment Firm Sued for Discrimination By Female Staffer Wall Street Journal. This sort of thing is widespread in finance, and is most likely to be extreme at private firms that make a lot of money for the firm, which may not be the same as making a lot of money for investors. It’s even harder for women to speak out at hedge funds and PE firms than at the large commercial and investments banks because the complaint system will be an obvious joke, as opposed to eyewash, and the relatively small number of employees will be much better able to tell a unified story about how the woman was no good at her job and the complaints are a fabrication.

The 2018 Vault Office Romance Survey Results Vault. Key finding: Marked decline in the number of respondents, particularly men, who think an office romance is OK. This may well be a net negative development, since fewer people than evah are getting married in college, which means the workplace is an increasingly likely place to meet a mate. I can name many people, including one of my brothers, who met their spouse at the office and have had long-standing successful marriages. And there are quotes like this:

The #MeToo movement just ‘concreted’ the glass ceiling. Don’t even want to be in same room alone with opposite sex.

Hedge Funds’ Biggest Short in Bonds Faces Make-or-Break Moment Bloomberg

Fake News

Mark Zuckerberg Has Reportedly Had a Rupert Murdoch Problem for a While Now Slate (Kevin W)

Outback Server Fired for Facebook Post About Non-Tipping Church Group DailyMeal (resilc)

Why Have Skateboards Cost $50 for 30 Years? Vice

The Advent of a Cynical Bubble GMO (Scott)

Class Warfare

Amazon to Launch Delivery Service That Would Vie With FedEx, UPS Wall Street Journal. Key part:

Amazon expects to roll out the delivery service in Los Angeles in coming weeks with third-party merchants that sell goods via its website, according to the people. Amazon then aims to expand the service to more cities as soon as this year, some of the people say….

Amazon is planning to undercut UPS and FedEx on pricing, although the exact rate structure is still unclear, these people said.

So no more using Amazon merchants as a way of rationalizing buying from Amazon (as in you aren’t using their warehouse workers….)

The analyst who predicted Amazon would buy Whole Foods says only 2 cities have a shot at HQ2 Business Insider (David L)

Amazon laying off hundreds – report CNBC (resilc)

The Populist Realignment That Never Came New Republic

Robot density: A strange metric elegantly illustrates the revolution underway ZDNet (David L)

Corporations Will Inherit the Earth New York Times. Resilc: “Coding is a dead end. I have lived in the future. It’s called Guatemala. It isn’t nice.”

Antidote du jour. Craig C: “Several pond turtles and a Great Blue Heron last summer in the wetlands east of my house in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.”

And a bonus video:

And this:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Bugs Bunny

    Bad link for “St. Louis saw the deadly 1918 Spanish flu epidemic coming. Shutting down the city saved countless lives”

  2. synoia

    Senate braces for showdown over ‘Dreamers’

    They have a plan:

    The D’s want to be see trying and failing. Then they can promise to do better for future re-election. And blame someone else.

    The R’s want to avoid being viewed as bigots, and be able to blame “someone else.”

    1. ambrit

      “They” have a cunning plan.
      Why do I get the feeling that the American political parties, especially the Democrat Party lately, are being run by the descendants of Baldrick?

  3. Bill Smith

    “All Western leaders were lying, promising not to expand NATO”

    Bush, Baker & Thatcher where all gone by 1992. They made no decisions on the issue of NATO expansion after that. And from the article it says Gates was not in favor of it. When did Genscher & Kohl leave office?

    Not a very accurate title.

    Who was president when the expansion of NATO all started? …LOL… Whose husband was president when the expansion of NATO all started?

    1. Olga

      Or maybe not a very accurate comment…? The whole point is that all of the western leaders lied… the West lied to Russia about NATO. It is the system, not individuals… The specific names of leaders do not matter too much – NATO had planned for expansion regardless of sweet words to Russians.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It is the system, not individuals…

        Yes. One could equally claim that Lyndon Johnson lied when he estimated that Medicare & Medicaid would cost but $10 billion a year (1965 dollars) but the tab quickly blossomed to $100 billion.

        Maybe Johnson did prevaricate, but in any case he wasn’t around no more when entitlements veered fiscally out of control — just as Kohl, Thatcher, Bush I et al shuffled off the global political stage before shiny, happy new faces like the Clintons rolled out the new dispensation for our indispensable enemy.

    2. JamesG

      The collapse of the Soviet Union was a golden opportunity.

      A brilliant western leader could have invited Russia to join NATO.

      Could it have worked?

      We will never know.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        nato only exists because of the Soviet Union. It should have gone the way of the dodo when the USSR did.

        To paraphrase the apostle rahm emmanuel, why let a good war-mongering “coalition” of the righteous, willing and purchased go to waste?

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        The last republic I’m aware of that invited defeated people into the Empire as citizens was Rome, and even then, mostly on the Italian peninsula and very early on, when it was pragmatic to do so.

        Attitudes had changed significantly by the time Pyrrhus went to Parthia.

        1. Altandmain

          Phyrrus was actually an opponent of the Roman Empire. He won a major battle but took so many casualties that it was not worth it.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Then you have Dermot MacMurrough who invited Strongbow to help settle matters in Ireland.

          It’s OK to welcome people, whether they had served as draftees or not, from abroad, but immigration should be based on mutual benefits for both the host and newcomers. Even when for humanitarian reasons, the host benefits.

          Immigration should not be driven by monetary profits or electoral gains. Just ask the Irish since the invitation about those Normans.

    3. Indrid Cold

      Bill Clinton was a creation of the Atlantic Council/CFR claque, which has been pushing for universal Anglo-American Empire since the late 19th century.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Between Clinton’s year at Oxford and his successor George W Bush’s inculcation into Skull ‘n Bones at Yale, the Atlanticists had NATO expansion well wired.

        Coupled with NATO’s institutional imperative of reinventing itself to survive and thrive even after its mission was accomplished, rooting out this Cold War relic was nigh on impossible.

        On a more modest scale, last week Sen Rand Paul proposed bringing the troops home from the Afghan quagmire after 15 years and staging a victory parade. The political elite took it as satire. :-(

  4. bassmule

    As much as I am inclined to root for the lions that ate the poacher, there is a downside for the big cats. On a visit to the MalaMala game reserve just outside Kruger, a guide told me that lions that killed people were in turn themselves killed, because once the lion knows it can kill a person, it will do it again.

    He also pointed out that the easiest way for a visitor to get killed was to get out of the guide’s Land Rover. “Think of the vehicle as a can, and you are the beans in the can. As long as you are inside, the lions can’t smell you. Some visitors seem to think that this is Disneyland. It isn’t.”

    1. hemeantwell

      As I recall from portage camping in Algonquin Park, that’s the practice in the Canadian park system. In the relatively rare cases in which bears ate someone, the assumption was that it wouldn’t do any good to capture and transport them away. Human prey would be too attractive to them.

      1. Kevin

        I did lots of Algonquin camping – a spectacular place. Massasauga and Killarney Parks are right on par. It’s a lot of work slinging your food overhead at night, we finally found a canister we could deal with. We put it inside an oversized old hockey bag – slung over your back, it was much easier than handling the canister along.

        1. Angie Neer

          I’ll pitch in a me-too on fond memories of Algonquin. One morning, on the shore of some lake or other (wish I could remember which), we were awakened by someone hailing us from a campsite on an island — far enough away that the shouts were barely intelligible. We came out of the tent and exchanged shouted greetings with the island folk, then they shout-asked, “Do you have a dog?”. Uh, “WHAT???” “Do you have a DOG!?” Uh, “NO!” we shouted. They replied, “then there’s a BEAR just east of your campsite!” Fortunately the bear didn’t want to hang around with all that shouting.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Went to a canoeing camp in Algonquin Park for years as a kid. Home away from home and probably saved my life. We always strung food up off the ground when on trip. My last year I was lucky enough to go on a real wilderness trip in Timagami.

        The sun-warmed rocks, the cool, clear water, the trees all around, blue sky above. And all so clean–no motorboats allowed! Freshwater swimming is my natural habitat, and I can take it pretty cold, judging from comparison with friends.

        Wonderful to hear Algonquin Park mentioned here, you made my day! As an adult I went to the Quetico several times before my knees went bad and I sank to the level of car camping, which honestly at Sleeping Bear ain’t half bad.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I slung my food way up on a high branch, counterbalanced so I could push it even higher with a stick, when I came back in the morning the bag was in ribbons and the food remainders were scattered along the ground. The bear had eaten whole oranges, opened tuna cans with ease, and consumed +/- 3 loaves of bread. But the funniest was the 4 whole avocados he ate…I bet the pits gave him a frown when they had to come out the other end…

    2. Baby Gerald

      How, specifically, can they pick out the lion or lions that killed this poacher. From what I have read about this which is admittedly not much, they found the poacher’s head lying near his gun and ammunition. Was a lion sitting next to the head, looking for a way to mount it for display? Can you question a pride of lions and expect an honest answer? What lion is going to rat out his fellow lion?

      And what lion thinks it can’t eat people? Introduce me to one. For that matter, introduce it to Siegfried and Roy.

      I’m definitely pro-lion here.

  5. Steve H.

    Omarosa on Pence: “he thinks Jesus tells him to say things.”

    Tellin’ ya… I’m in Indiana. He had lost Indiana. T taking him on was not a political decision, it was a financial one. Which means those backing Pence have their agenda, and this makes me very nervous.

    1. Sid Finster

      Team D (and for that matter, Team R) would be fine with a President Pence. Both Teams have a well-worn playbook for people like Pence, and Pence is nothing if not predictable.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      In a biographical piece I read about Pence, it appears he is and always has been employed by the Koch network. That says all we need to know.

  6. Clive

    Re: #MeToo New Puritanical Movement Madness Gone Mad

    I also have long followed Lambert’s Rule and have made it a, as far as I am concerned, no-brainer that I should never, ever, find myself alone in or out of the workplace with a female co-worker. And even then, a single witness being present is to my way of thinking a couple of people or three short of what’s ideal.

    I’m pretty sure this outcome isn’t what feminists wanted. But that is what we’ve ended up with.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Indeed. Having an affair in the workplace can get you in all sorts of trouble, especially if the affair ends in tears. There is a big story in Australia at the moment with Barnaby Jocye, leader of the National Party and also Deputy Prime Minister.
      Seems he got a staffer pregnant in his office and has now moved in together with her. Apart from allegations that the staffer was given two high paying jobs after being moved from his office, he left his wife and family several weeks ago to do so. Being a staunch conservative and Catholic probably didn’t help his case any.
      We then saw calls advocating no sexual relations between people in the political workspace which was followed by the government defending sexual relations in the workspace. Then again, they would, wouldn’t they. The lesson here, if needed, is that before you start a new relationship with someone, make sure that you are free and clear of any old ones first – even if you decide to become a serial monogamist.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Was raised religious, successfully escaped, but remember in my youth being told that Billy Graham had never once been in a room alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife. Not even an elevator. Perhaps that is viewed as extreme by some but he never got accused of inappropriate behavior to my knowledge.`

      I’ve done the same and never had a problem whether I was serf, manager, or owner.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey, that’s the “Pence Rule” where Vice President Mike Pence makes it a point to never dine alone with a woman who is not his wife, or attend events where alcohol might be served without her there.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > I’m pretty sure this outcome isn’t what feminists wanted. But that is what we’ve ended up with.

      This is probably a professional concern; I don’t imagine Walmart workers have much choice. That said, why put one’s career at risk? The upside is good deeds, like mentoring; the downside is social opprobrium on your permanent record, thanks to the Intertubes, and whatever the financial impact from damaged career prospects might be.

      Of course, one solution is to surveil everything, and that may be where we’re headed, but I’m not sure I want to live in that world either.

  7. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

    Treating the vehicle as a haven is perhaps a sound safeguard against lions, but won’t protect against all of the Kruger’s potential threats. When I was there in 2003, I remember a huge bull elephant ambling in our direction. These chaps neither stop nor bother to redirect themselves when a small parked vehicle looms directly ahead. Our guide panicked, briefly, and fumbled the keys. Fortunately, the guide soon recovered, the car started, and we roared away before we were squashed and so I am alive today to tell this story.

    1. Lee

      I am an avid wildlife watcher and have logged many an hour observing and recording prey-predator interactions in Yellowstone. I am quite happy to admire them from afar through a good scope. In grizzly country I will no longer hike a trail that does not provide a clear view over a considerable distance.

      1. JEHR

        I get up early in the morning (5:45 a.m.) to take a small dog outdoors. This morning, just as I was coming back into the house, a pack of coyotes in the nearby woods started a blood-curdling yelping and howling for about 30 seconds. Then all of them stopped at the same time. It gave me pause for my walk later that day.

        1. lee

          Coyotes aren’t the most dangerous animal out there but for my money, they have the most blood curdling vocalizations I’ve heard.

          Keep your little dog close and consider getting him a large canine companion. Coyotes, like any wild predator, that become habituated to humans can be a concern. If you are opposed to killing them, you might consider non-lethal means of instilling fear in them. Bear spray and non-lethal gun ammo are options and some commercially available scents claim to keep them away. Some have used portable air horns to good effect. Wolf researcher Farley Mowat got wolves to respect his campsite boundaries by pissing around the perimeter. Be safe out there.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            yes. pee on everything.
            and don’t let them get acclimated to humans.
            around here, they avoid people…as people out here tend to shoot them on sight.
            after living in town for 7 or so years, I was staying in our old trailer…no electricity or water…when i was starting to build this house.
            4-5 am went out to pee off the porch, and there were 3 coyotes right there in the yard. due to the fences, there was only limited escape routes, so they snarled and growled, not 10 feet from my naked as$, and I snarled right back, moving towards them.
            they left, and soon after they went to howling and yipping(which is a greeting when they reunite with the rest after a night’s hunting). a real call of the wild moment.
            we are mere interlopers, here.

    2. adrena

      I was in the same situation. When a gigantic bull elephant turned towards us, our guide put his foot down on the gas. The noise was enough to scare him away.

    3. Procopius

      Sounds dubious, to me, but I’ve only encountered tame elephants here in Thailand, and I gather the Asian species is less belligerent than the African species. Unless African bull elephants routinely knock trees down in order to not have to walk around them, or think cars are rivals for female affections, I would think they would tend to take the easier path.

  8. The Rev Kev

    EU tells Turkey to avoid damaging actions after Cyprus ship incident

    Sounds like Turkey is getting jack with being told what to do and is letting their allies know just what they think. The Mayor of Ankara has approved re-naming a street outside the U.S. Embassy as “Olive Branch”, the name Turkey uses for its ongoing military campaign in Syria.
    Turn around is fair play after all and I can guess where they got that idea from. Washington D.C renamed the street outside Russia’s embassy complex in that city after Boris Nemtsov, who was shot outside the Kremlin in 2015.

  9. rjs

    here’s something i’ve been advocating since the 80’s:

    The pumped hydro storage potential of the Great Lakes
    The potential energy contained in the waters of the Great Lakes amounts to approximately six thousand terawatt hours, enough to supply the US and Canada with electricity for an entire year were the lakes to be drained to sea level. This of course will never happen, but there may be potential for partial utilization of the resource. A pumped hydro system that uses Lakes Huron and Michigan as the upper reservoir and Lake Ontario as the lower could theoretically generate 10 terawatt-hours, or more, of seasonal energy storage without changing lake levels significantly.

    he’s got much more detail than i ever got into…i’ve added a few comments, & will likely have more…

  10. HopeLB

    Something smells fishy about the MSM/BBC’s coverage of Oxfam coming so closely on the heels of their recent reports;

    Considering what has been revealed in the higher stratospheres of tinsel town, television and the elite press, maybe NGO workers visiting prostititutes is not uncommon and is revealed or the dirt dug up when the message is becoming incompatible with that of the global elite? Wapo is now speculating about pedophilia. Do they have more proof than they do in Russia-gate?

    Here’s Oxfam’s defense;

    1. Kevin

      A little “tit-for-tat” perhaps? I find that very likely. I notice that It’s the Independent, out of the UK, where OXFAM is located, that housed that last link…

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Hope LB and Kevin.

        You are not the only ones to wonder about the diversion. Oxfam takes the spotlight from the goings on at bigger peers and the money laundering and tax dodging vehicles masquerading as family foundations. This diversion is similar to the Dorchester “expose” by the FT.

        Mum used to volunteer, book keeping and fund raising, for Save The Children and Unicef, but walked out due to the corruption at and politicisation of these organisations. As children, my brother and I used to tag along with mum when fund raising in the 1980s.

        Oxfam does not have the political connections of Save The Children and Unicef. Paul and Christopher Dale Rogers will know what I am referring to when I mention Brendan Cox, widower of “Saint” Jo Cox and “Gucci” Helle Thorning Schmidt / Kinnock, known as Gucci Helle in her native Denmark and Grace Mugabe by STC staff in London.

        The whistle on Oxfam was first blown in the late 1960s. In that instance, it was revealed that about 80% of money and assets donated were spent on staff, not good causes. This has not changed and is par for the cause in the peer group. The persons named above earn(ed) more than the UK PM.

        1. HopeLB

          Funny to think of the scenario in which the Oxfam “management”, too busy, thoroughly enjoying themselves on grifted funds, leaves the research and published output to a bunch of lowly paid interns with socialist/marxist ambitions! Would make for a funny movie. (Maybe, only to me.)

          On to the graphene topic, I used Robert Murray Smith’s graphene method to make a “triboelectric” generator. It lit Christmas lights when you pressed the surfaces together. The graphene holds charge making it great for capcacitors. I’l have to let Murray Smith, the capacitor king, know about this!
          Watch his fascinating videos here;

        2. Clive

          A not that different situation in a lot of medical “research” charities I know of in my volunteer field of patients’ groups. They are little more than conduits from big pharma to place bungs with pet clinicians, lobbyists, NHS trusts’ procurement managers, and so-called researchers.

          It’s a win-win-win: influence peddling, the ability to look good by do-gooding “community engagement” and ka-ching, it’s all tax deductible! What is there not to like?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to tell you, Oxfam’s reports about inequality have been garbage. Poor data analysis, histrionic writing. The situation is bad enough. Why discredit the very solid case with lousy reports? I was tempted every time they came out to debunk them, but their bad findings were so widely re-reported that there was no point.

      You are smoking something strong if you think Oxfam’s reports got anyone in the 1% worried. Let us not forget that Occupy Wall Street, in a mere two months, did more to change the discourse by getting “the 1%” widely used, than Oxfam ever has.

      What has them worried is populists who criticize capitalism, like Sanders, Corbyn, and LePen, getting bigger and bigger followings.

      And this scandal is on the order of the Catholic Church covering up for pedophile priests. The perps were first moved to another location, then they were finally pushed out…to other charities! And you are trying to defend this? The Catholic Church does good work too. That’s NO excuse for this sort of thing.

      Honestly this sure looks like that you don’t care because this took place in Chad and Haiti. Those blacks seem to be less important than having your pet cause soiled.

      1. HopeLB

        Thank you Yves for the background on Oxfam. I honestly had no idea of their poor quality/veracity, never having actually read the pdf links in the MSM’s articles. The name alone, Oxfam, gives them that English upper crust alum cadence, adding 20 IQ points to the assessment of the American unfamiliar with them. If pedophilia was, indeed, involved, they should be given life sentences and the grifting, venal NGO shutterred. I, however, really do not trust Wapo’s reporting. I admit that. I am big brush biased against it. Are there other corroborating sources for this heinous claim?
        As far as me harboring some latent racism (Chad, Haiti), patently untrue. I have fed, vegtables, fruit, milk, taught math/science/English, played with, taken to the parks, taken to festivals, sled rode, ice skated and introduced sculpting/painting into the lives of all of my less fortunate African American neighbors’ kids (8 kids in total). We moved here in the Clinton years when all of the families were struggling with welfare “reform” and were the go to house for anything you needed (peace, food, scrabble etc.,) until this area became supremely gentrified and they all moved away 10 years ago. (Best time of my life;hope to get back to it.) And we still stay in touch. One of these precious children, Chantelle, has a familiy of her own now! You can look at my reddit entries on Haiti alone for proof of my lack of racism. Now I help the new affluent Chinese owners and their children and the few aged who are here trying to hang on to their houses withincreasing taxes and lonliness.

        Yes, my anti-Wapo, anti-MSM bias was in play, particularly when the Oxfam allegations were reported in doubles ice-skating-like unison, as if talking points had been dispersed from Cointel that morning and when, as I admit, was taken in by the underlying theme of Oxfam’s poorly analyzed “research” as reported in the MSM’s dashed off summaries. Yes, I fell far short here (if the allegations are true) in not wanting to shoot my beloved messenger. I’ll have to pay much closer attention to that anti-prop reflex. It may be a real problem, not believing a bloody word out of their mouthpieces. The irony is that I am helping my daughter, who is in 9th, with her 4 year long term project and it involves teaching kids in the city about rhetoric and critical thinking so they can spot “fake news”.
        (Hey, maybe these dubious, data bereft reports WERE actually left to be written by a bunch strung out, pot smoking, socialist interns?)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Apologies for making assumptions re Chad and Haiti. There is a sad tendency in the US for people to get much more upset about abuses here than abroad, with pedophile priests a classic. You see much less uproar about sex trafficking, which amounts to slavery and takes place in much bigger numbers, for instance.

          1. HopeLB

            As an ex-Catholic, but real catholic in the universal sense, I agree about the nation centric morality of the US citizenry.. And I am sorry about casting doubt on the Oxfam reporting if pedophilia proves to be true.

            Secondly, I love your and Lambert’s site and the entire commentariat that you’ve engendered !It is a daily, non-denominational inspiration and a refuge. Thank you! I cherish it. and have attempted, via Reddit , to spread knowledge of to the more general public ( esp after that propornot business).
            Wishing you Blessings and Merriment,

  11. petal

    This place kills me sometimes. If anyone’s interested in attending(or if people would like me to go and take notes to post):

    Unite America: Bridging the Nation’s Political Chasm?

    Wednesday, February 14
    4:00 – 5:30 PM
    Haldeman 041

    This lecture will explain the background and mission of a grassroots organization founded and chaired by Dartmouth economist Charlie Wheelan with the goal of overcoming political gridlock by electing centrist independents to state and federal offices.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Yes, a report please, Petal. Doesn’t sound promising unless they’re pledging not to take any big donor $

  12. petal

    “More efficient vehicles would pay a sliding fee to compensate for paying less gas tax under a bill going through the Legislature, which would start adding the penalty to vehicles getting as little as 21 mpg.

    The bill passed the House floor, 194-143, last Thursday and now is being considered by the House Finance Committee. Fees would be highest for the most-fuel efficient vehicles, as the bill establishes a variable charge as high as $111 for electric vehicles, down to zero for vehicles that get less than 20 mpg.

    It differs from laws in many other states that place a flat fee on all electric or hybrid vehicles.”

    1. Olga

      By this logic we should now start assessing a fee for energy-efficient appliances because they use less electricity, and water-saving devices for making us use less water… What are folks smoking in NH?

    2. oliverks

      Interestingly the damage caused by vehicles to the road is governed by a 4th degree polynomial. So the weight at each axle is what should be used times the millage covered.

      So someone who drives a giant SUV weighing 5800lbs vs a 2300lbs small car is causing 40 times more wear to the roads. However a truck, with 40,000lbs per axle, is causing 36,000 times more wear than the SUV.

      As millage is easy to collect on an annual basis, and weight is know at time of manufacture, a rational method would charge for road wear by using millage and axle weight.

        1. Altandmain

          Under the current system, right now small vehicles are subsidizing for trucks.

          Actually as much truck transportation should be moved onto rail transportation for maximum efficiency. Water transport is even better but not always possible.

      1. rd

        Its more complex than just this. Heavy trucks do more damage but not on all roads. Much of the road network is largely for cars and small trucks.

        So trucks do most of the damage to a percentage of the roads. But many roads exist largely just for cars. That is why a tax is needed on diesel, gas, and electric cars. Ultimately vehicles will probably be taxed based on miles driven per year, at least at the federal level.

  13. Mucho

    Dutch FM Admits Lying About Hearing Putin Speak of ‘Greater Russia’ in 2006

    Dutchie here. He’s gotten a shellacking in the Dutch press/on twitter afterwards. His defense – and that of the coalition government currently in power – was that he lied (oops!) but that the story ( Putin’s ‘Greater Russia’) was essentially right and that he was protecting his source… so everybody should move right along. One of the coalition partners even commended him for his openness and transparancy in adressing the issue (!). Which sounds crazy, but might just have happened.

    Except the source is now known – Jeroen van der Veer (former Shell-CEO) – and has now publicly commented, saying that Zijlstra (the FM) wasn’t there and that he is also misrepresenting the story. I’m pretty confident he’s going to have to resign fairly quickly.

      1. Anonymous2

        One of your politicians had to resign because he lied?

        Here in the UK we would have hardly any left if they were held to such standards.

  14. Croatoan

    My grandfather lived in the Bowery (Manhattan) during the 1918 epidemic. He was 13 and I remember him telling me with an expression of fear on his face about walking past the bodies.

    Can you imagine trying to institute a quarantine today? “But my rights!”, “But the economy!”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was wondering the same when I read about St. Louis shutting down.

      From the link:

      In early October, city health commissioner Dr. Max C. Starkloff ordered the closure of schools, movie theaters, saloons, sporting events and other public gathering spots. Churches were told to suspend Sunday services

      Today, that would include malls, restaurants, cafes, sports stadiums, etc.

      Maybe even delivered meals.

      1. polecat

        Glad to have my beans, rice, honey, and canned goods at the ready. Imagine approaching your grocery store (or any other business) … only to find it locked up, not knowing when it may reopen …
        Also .. it would behoove one to keep one’s enemies close, but one’s toilet paper supply within even tighter reach !

        1. Oregoncharles

          You, too? Actually, we started buying bag or carton amounts to save money – it’s a 10% discount. But then I realized it means we have at least 6 months’ supply of staples in the pump house. We don’t buy flour this way because it doesn’t keep as well, but we have several gallons of it, too. It does take space, and it’s a significant investment, so difficult for those with no reserve funds.

          For us, water might be the big problem: we’re on a well, so we’d have trouble if the electricity was cut off. Should have bought a generator when they were cheap after 2000.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Two little fun facts for the day.
        The average modern supermarket contains only enough food for three days use. If too many truck drivers went down sick through a flu pandemic, this would become problematic.
        Second. Back during the great flu pandemic, World War 1 was still raging. Health officials clamped down on public meetings, theaters, etc. However money needed to be raised for War Bonds which would require masses of people to gather for parades and the like which would help spread of the flu.
        In the end they decided to have the War Bond drive which raised more money for the war but many more people died from picking up the flu at these events. Sad but true.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m not sure your factoid is true. Manhattan was cordoned for 4 days during 9/11 and we didn’t have an issue with stores running out of food save fresh produce. Not even close. And with real estate being so expensive here, you’d think stores here would be more “just in time” than in the rest of the US.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I have tried to find the sources for that first bit but cannot find reliable sources anymore using Google or DuckDuckGo. I suspect now that the three days would also suggest a surge of panic buying like you sometimes see in emergencies. By the way. Did they really stop all food imports to Manhattan island after 9/11? Even back then the population of that island was 1.5 million and I wonder about how they would have fed even all those rescuers at the Twin Towers site much less all the police and other service people at work in Manhattan.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Manhattan (NOT NYC, NYC is more than Manhattan) was entirely cordoned off. Nothing let in by the bridges or tunnels save a very very few vehicles specifically authorized, all subways shut down. I was here, remember?

        2. Lambert Strether

          > The average modern supermarket contains only enough food for three days use. If too many truck drivers went down sick through a flu pandemic, this would become problematic.

          Or a finance-driven blooper of some sort.

          As I keep saying, “collapse in place.”

          1. Procopius

            I’m wondering how much food is moved into the area by train. The tunnels are going to go within a few years and Christie shut down the project to build a new one. It’s going to have to be done, and now will be more expensive. If you wait until one or both the existing tunnels actually collapse the cost is going to be even (much) higher.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Where’s the movie about the global pandemic that wipes out a huge % of the population and Patient Zero is an Amazon fulfillment worker afraid of missing a day?

      Couldn’t be any worse than World War Z.

  15. L

    Interesting if mild take in this “Corporations Will Inherit the Earth New York Times.” I notice that one of his key points is here:

    Lawrence Summers, the economist and former Treasury secretary, says that corporations might see no point in teaching Shakespeare. But shouldn’t Shakespeare be taught? Corporations might find cunning answers to the transportation woes of their own employees. But would that necessarily improve the lot of people working and living elsewhere?

    I would say that the bigger question is that corporations see no point in teaching democracy, or teaching about the environment or even in caring for the poor. Shouldn’t sick kids get to live? And having lived in the bay area where corporations “found cunning answers to the transportation woes of their own employees” I can say that it does not help people everywhere when google buses start blocking public bus stops or wait where the school buses are so that kids cannot get to school just so the techies can get a steamed mocha. But no problem for google, all that they had to do was bankroll the first asian mayor and he gave them a free pass.

    As a side note it is scary to see a comment like this:

    “I think enterprises like Amazon and Google are going to build universities that teach coding and things the nation needs,” Margaret Spellings, the president of the University of North Carolina System, recently told me. Spellings was education secretary under President George W. Bush.

    Here we have someone who works for a state university system basically openly seeking to abdicate the job to the private sector. Why does North Carolina employ her exactly?

    1. Isotope_C14

      “I would say that the bigger question is that corporations see no point in teaching democracy, or teaching about the environment or even in caring for the poor.”

      I think it is even more simple than this.

      Remember the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks?
      JOSH: It turns from a building into a robot, right?

      PAUL: Precisely.

      JOSH: Well, what’s fun about that?

      PAUL: Well, if you had read your industry breakdown, you would see that our success in the action figure area has climbed from 27 percent to 45 percent in the last two years. There, that might help.

      JOSH: Oh.

      PAUL: Yes?

      JOSH: I still don’t get it.

      The system itself rewards un-creative group think. That’s why we are well on the way to roasting the planet and leaving it for life to re-evolve from primordial goo.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      She is awful. The faculty at UNC Chapel Hill at least despair if her. My sister is a astronomer and often says she is ashamed of the place. She, ridiculously, refused to remove Silent Sam (a generic Confederate soldier) from the campus when the newly-elected Democratic governor told her she could. Daily protests continue, if in smaller numbers than right after Charlottesville, VA

    3. Intergalactic Joe

      To be fair, Spellings’ comment isn’t necessarily advocating for Amazon and Google to take over higher education. She’s making a prediction, not expressing a hope.

      A corollary to her statement could well be that, since these companies are going to provide training for their employees anyways, public higher education should continue to focus on providing access to other, less immediately useful topics (like Shakespeare). I would be okay whith that; I’m sure the humanities could use the boost.

      1. L

        While she was in the Department of Education in the Bush Administration she responded to Katrina by working with then governor Bobby Jindal to create an “Emergency School Board” for New Orleans that took one and only one meaningful vote. They voted to turn the entire school system into an all-charter model. She cited this as her primary achievement at the time. Predictably the non-union charters spend more and are so far delivering less than they once did.

        I am not holding my breath for her to be a secret fan of comprehensive education.

    4. Carolinian

      Well, would the world come to an end if universities didn’t teach Shakespeare? Shakespeare probably doesn’t need academia to defend him and those who care about his drama and poetry will seek it out regardless. One could argue that the liberal arts education favored by people like former Harvard president Summers hasn’t exactly brought enlightenment to our rulers.

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, a liberal education like Atilla the Hun. He thought it was perfectly fine for one of his professors to loot the countries of the former Soviet Union, put the mafia oligarchs in charge, and destroy their economies, leading to millions of deaths from undernourishment and alcoholism.

      1. Stephen Gardner

        Would the world end if universities didn’t teach “coding”? Shakespeare is a part of Anglo culture. We should be teaching Shakespeare and Moliere and the Mahabharata along with Confucius. Understanding our own culture (no matter which of the many cultures that make America) is important. Coding is not. This emphasis on coding really bugs me (and I have been an engineer that writes code most of my long 30+ year career). Learning coding as it is taught today in these code camps and other monstrosities loved by rulers and their henchmen with MBAs and PolySci degrees is not useful to actually creating things. Learning a particular computer language or even several is not enough. Solving real world problems requires physics, chemistry, math and other disciplines that people coming out of code camp don’t necessarily know. A language, even a bright shiny one like Ruby or Python doesn’t tell you how to solve real world problems, it is merely a way to communicate your solution to a computer. It doesn’t surprise me however that the real movers and shakers in our society think so. They have NO technical background and wouldn’t know a server farm from a chicken farm so they have no clue what it takes.

    5. Altandmain

      It’s a modern incarnation of the company town.

      Hard questions like what if Google says that it is ok for it to be a Monopoly or to avoid paying taxes using tax havens are questions that people don’t want to answer.

      They could also make the CEO and the Founders religious deities. Corporations could also make an equal to jihad, where one must maximize shareholder profit at all costs.

      With modern technology it is far more dangerous than the past.

  16. The Rev Kev

    In search of surrogates, foreign couples descend on Ukraine

    Ugh! here is a feel good story that may be nothing of the sort but hides a very dark underbelly. In recent years Ukraine has become a popular prostitution and sex trafficking center. That was before the present civil war.
    Since then the economy of the Ukraine has fallen apart. Between losing the Crimea and the east, the tender mercies of the IMF, rampant corruption, the demands of the war, the stranglehold that the oligarchs have on any business activity, partial sanctions by Russia and other factors life has become very hard in the Ukraine for ordinary people.
    So equally, what this story could be about is desperate women trying to make money legally with the only resources that they have. If this was not the real situation, then why is it attracting the attention of so many people after other countries have banned the practice of surrogacy.

    In passing, a Maine man says he punched and kicked a 150-pound bear? Sounds a lot like the number of people who reckon that they have punched a shark defending themselves. Possible, but certainly not something that you would want to depend upon.

    1. Sid Finster

      Forgive me if I am not adding much to the discussion, but when I lived there (2004-2012), Ukraine was a center for IVF, sex tourism, child trafficking and all other manner of seaminess. In Ukraine, you could do pretty much do anything and get anything that you can think of, as long as were able to pay for it, and to pay off various governmental and non-governmental enforcers.

      As a result, along with the usual dreary middle aged schlubs trying to live the dream, Ukraine attracted a whole flock of westerners that, to put it kindly, were not necessarily welcome anywhere else. Some were even booted from Thailand and Cambodia.

      As the Good Reverend pointed out, the war, the oligarchs, the corruption, and the IMF have all made life much worse for the average frustrated Ukrainian. However, the foreign perverts have stayed on, as far as I can tell. If anything, life has gotten better for them as the exchange rate plummeted and the semi-normal tourists stayed home.

      Romania was a similar situation, but I have less personal experience with that country.

      1. Olga

        The cruel irony is that it was under the USSR that Ukraine was at its best – it was the most prosperous and productive republic. (Shouting “slava Ukraine” would have been very appropriate back then.) It had everything – from developed agriculture (oh, that black earth!) to aerospace industry. After the breakup of the USSR, Ukraine started its descent into what it had been historically… fairly lawless borderlands. This is, of course, all very sad, as the people are mostly warm and hard-working.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And then there was that incident in April 1986, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. That one sure didn’t aid the advancement of Ukraine.

        2. HopeLB

          Hillary/Biden’s son were promoting fracking and GMO’s in Ukraine. I read they resisted fracking but do not know about Big Ag’s influence.

    2. Lee

      Even though black bears are, pound for pound, several times stronger than humans, they are conflict averse. If attacked by one, fighting back is generally recommended. Not so with the pugnacious grizzly: curl up, stay quite, and hope it just bats you around a bit just to make a point. If not hungry or particularly threatened, a grizzly will sometimes be satisfied with a dominance-submission display. OTOH, if a black bear stalks you, it is starving and intends to kill and eat you.

        1. Lee

          See mine above. Avoid low visibility terrain in bear country. Bear attacks generally occur when a bear is surprised at proximity. The proxemic tolerance of grizzlies can be a hundred yards or even greater depending on circumstances: having cubs, guarding a kill, bad mood. I love watching bears, from afar with a good scope. That guy in Herzog’s Grizzly Man was tragically foolish. I can understand the allure of being close to wild animals but one should respect their boundaries.

          1. Wukchumni

            I’ve been within 20 feet of black bears perhaps 40-50 times, no biggie. There hasn’t been a fatal attack by a bruin in California since the 19th century.

  17. Bugs Bunny

    The Vox article on post exposure rabies treatment is a real shocker. Has the US lost its mind? Rabies is a basic public health issue that needs immediate treatment.

    If you’re in France you can get a vaccination at the Pasteur Institute for 49 euros. They offer low cost vaccination for just about anything that has a vaccine prophylaxis. Of course if you got bitten in France treatment is fully covered.

    1. Intergalactic Joe

      Rabies isn’t even the worst example. Look at hookworm:

      In a survey of people living in Lowndes County, an area with a long history of racial discrimination and inequality, it found that 34% tested positive for genetic traces of Necator americanus.

      The 4 cents is in Tanzania. That’ll cover the two pills it takes to knock out the intestinal parasite. But in the United States, where hookworm has re-emerged, the price for two 200 mg tablets of albendazole can cost as much as $400.

      That’s literally a one million percent premium, for a drug with an expired patent that cures a disease that is widespread in parts of the country.

    2. Lee

      I like the way the film John Q reverses typical transactional roles. Instead of providers letting people die if they’re not paid, the patient’s father orders the providers to save his son’s life or he will shoot them. Interestingly, although the 2002 film was panned by critics, 90% of those who watched it, liked it.

  18. allan

    Taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges, one SLAPP at a time:

    Exxon Sues the Suers in Fierce Climate-Change Case [Bloomberg]
    (includes auto-launch video)

    As climate-change lawsuits against the oil industry mount, Exxon Mobil Corp. is taking a bare-knuckle approach rarely seen in legal disputes: It’s going after the lawyers who are suing it.

    The company has targeted at least 30 people and organizations, including the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, hitting them with suits, threats of suits or demands for sworn depositions. The company claims the lawyers, public officials and environmental activists are “conspiring” against it in a coordinated legal and public relations campaign.

    Exxon has even given that campaign a vaguely sinister-sounding name: “The La Jolla playbook.” According to the company, about two dozen people hatched a strategy against it at a meeting six years ago in an oceanfront cottage in La Jolla, Calif. …

    Plaintiff lawyers and legal experts contend the oil giant’s tactics are meant to intimidate while shifting the spotlight away from claims of environmental damage. And they say there’s nothing improper with lawyers discussing legal strategies together.

    “It’s crazy that people are subpoenaed for attending a meeting,” said Sharon Eubanks, a lawyer who was at the La Jolla gathering. “It’s sort of like a big scare tactic: reframe the debate, use it as a diversionary tactic and scare the heck out of everybody.” …

    Reports that ExxonMobil wanted to refer to the meeting as the Protocols of the Elders of La Jolla
    could not be confirmed at press time. /s

  19. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Talk down to Siri like she’s a mere servant – your safety demands it The Register

    So, the idea is, after having willingly purchased a voice-activated surveillance device to turn on your lights, you disguise your voice to protect yourself against it? Good plan.

    Save the receipt. It will be required documentation on your next IQ test.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      No kidding. And in the article above that one, a FB employee asks a reporter to turn off their phone so the Zuck won’t be able to track them and determine that their phones were in close proximity.

      One wonders why the FB employee wasn’t smart enough to simply leave their own phone behind for the interview…

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chinese Tourists Are Taking Over the Earth, One Selfie at a Time Bloomberg

    Hopefully, not by air travel. That’d be a lot of pollution.

    The tourism industry should encourage more home travel…discover the beauty in one’s one own neighborhood (a substitute for those who can afford to go abroad).

    1. curlydan

      I rode on the Chinese bullet trains in December 2016 and was impressed. It must not be cheap travel for the Chinese, but certainly comfortable and a great way to quickly move people without hogging the roads.

      In fact, the roads/highways seem very developed, but the trains could use more construction/expansion. So China may be moving its sizable investments toward the trains and the many tunnels, etc needs to traverse the country. They are way ahead of us in so many respects. Combining the China bullet train article with the extra defense spending occurring here shows how crappily we invest in the future.

      1. polecat

        The US Interstate Highway System was, when first built, state of the art, towards the end of our industrial revolution, so since China is on the ascendant, the build-out of their HSR system isn’t surprising …. it’s just that they’re build-out seems to be developing sooner in their race to modernity, as opposed to America having already had its’ chance at aquiring the hegemonic brass ring !

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It brings to mind the Zen koan, Chan gong-an, What is the Buddha?

      ‘A dried shit-stick,’ was the response from Yunmen.

      Here, we suspect that Yunmen lived during the Tang dynasty, because toilet paper was first invented in China in the Song dynasty, a few hundred years later, and made shit sticks obsolete.

      An Arab traveler apparent took sanitary offense to having the hand so close to uncleanliness (a shit stick afforded more distance) and wrote to his countrymen back home (Whatever happened to ‘when Rome, do as the Romans do?’)

      These days, we are of course more environmentally conscious, for not other reason than the fact that we have wrecked it so much that it’s much more fragile (for us to continue to survive – Nature could care less) than ever before. That is, we are not necessarily more…er, virtuous.

      So, the question is, should be go back to the pre-Song dynasty way of cleaning up after ourselves?

      “Save a tree, every time you use a shit stick.”

      1. lee

        IIRC, I once read that the reuse of disease transmitting shit sticks and concomitant lethal selection pressure accounts for the robust immune systems of many Chinese. I have no idea as to the truth of this matter, but I have no desire to test my fitness in this manner.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From the way the Arab reacted, I thought the use was more widespread, and not just in China.

          Unless, outside of China, the stick was not use nor toilet paper. What did they do then?

          1. barefoot charley

            Left hand, pitcher of water. Easy peasy, and without a doubt (ask an Arab) more sanitary. And always shake right hands with him.

    1. Jim Haygood

      More likely it’s Hillary they miss.

      An ex-FBI agent and current gun dealer I know was furiously stockpiling ammo in 2016 in anticipation of a harsh ‘Hillary tax,’ while his customers were buying weapons they thought might be federally banned cuz they look so mean.

      Anticipatory buying left a devastated market after the Hildapocalypse failed to materialize. :-(

    2. Wukchumni

      A well-known sporting goods store closed in Fresno last week after being in business for 68 years…

      The main reason for closing seems to have been a collapse in gun sales, that had been keeping them going.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Yours Truly is more than a little fond of marksmanship. Dad taught me to shoot when I was, oh, 10 years old.

      But, as an adult, I seldom go out to the range, and I no longer own any firearms. The reason? Well, there’s that thing called money.

      Have you priced ammo lately? It’s ridiculous. And that’s before you load it into your favorite firearm. Those things aren’t cheap either. You also have to clean them after every trip to the range, and the cost of cleaning supplies can add up in a hurry.

  21. L

    On a different note, it seems that the Trump Budget may also conceal another attempt at a tax cut according to Marc Goldwein see here, wither that or a 500 billion error.

  22. WheresOurTeddy

    The 2018 Vault Office Romance Survey Results

    I say this as someone who’s been an employee more than a boss, but has been both,

    I realize I’m probably in the minority on this, but GOOD. Do your socializing on your own time. No part of your job description for any job in America involves flirting, unless you’re a bartender, waiter, or stripper.

    Meet people who have similar interests outside of work. Don’t just date whoever’s in your line of sight. Workplaces are for working. These days few under 40 and very very few under 30 have any money anyway so it’s an open playing field. If you met your spouse at work, bully for you, but I have always been of the opinion you’re walking through a minefield hoping everything magically works out

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, that would certainly be employers’ attitude.

      Unfortunately, society in many places is now so alienating that many people have little hope of meeting aside from work. There’s also the reality that people don’t stop being human, or animal, just because they’re at work. It’s fundamentally unrealistic, and demands that are unrealistic usually lead to trouble.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        When I was at Goldman, every woman who was married either came to Goldman married or married a fellow Goldman employee.

        At McKinsey, there were tons of affairs, mainly between peers. Never got in the way of work and produced quite a few lasting marriages. However, affairs were probably less problematic at McKinsey because the organization was a like a law firm: rather than having bosses and direct reports, you had a pool of non-partner people who would staff various partners projects as they came up. Admittedly, you could wind up working on the same account team regularly if it had a lot of work and the client liked you, but the fact that no one had a boss probably made this a lot less problematic (as in even if a partner was shagging a subordinate, he [presumably he] couldn’t favor her with better pay, faster promotion, or better assignments).

    2. RabidGandhi

      Why on Vishnu’s green earth should waiters and bartenders have flirting included as part of their job description? I find that horrendously icky– not just in solidarity as a worker myself, but also as a potential customer.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    Wolf Richter’s article about how Chinese authorities manipulate stocks to stop market drops and raise stock prices seems somehow familiar. After a nine year “Dead Cat bounce” in the U.S. stock markets that has overcome multiple stock market “corrections” but corrected nothing, I wonder why?…

    I don’t recall this issue ever being legislated, let alone publicly debated as desirable government policy.

    In his final paragraph, Richter raises what I feel is a worthwhile question to those who subscribe to the neoliberal ideology of the primacy of markets, intentionally conflating stock market performance with the performance of the real economy:

    … “But then, why even have markets? Why can’t Chinese authorities just set the price of each stock and make it go up at regular intervals, at a rate deemed to be appropriate by authorities? It would offer true risk-free investing in stocks. It could become a national wealth builder. The entire world would invest in such a scheme. Think of the possibilities! And it would be a lot more efficient than this haphazard guessing-and-manipulation game.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They want to put on a good show in China.

      From Chinese Opera (Wikipedia):

      An early form of Chinese drama is the Canjun Opera (參軍戲, or Adjutant Play) which originated from the Later Zhao Dynasty (319–351).[2][3][4] In its early form it was a simple comic drama involving only two performers, where a corrupt officer, Canjun or the adjutant, was ridiculed by a jester named Grey Hawk (蒼鶻).[2] The characters in Canjun Opera are thought to be the forerunners of the fixed role categories of later Chinese opera, particularly of its comic chou (丑) characters.[5]

      Audience participation makes for a good drama, even after the plot has been finalized.

      One can do it in democratic politics as well as free market investing.

  24. JohnnyGL

    Re: fivethirtyeight article on Trump vs. other presidents in historical comparison.

    I’d argue that stuff is close to useless. Trump won with 46% of popular vote. His approval rating when he started was a couple of points lower. He’s at about 41% now. He’s just a little off from where he was. Hi base is more or less holding up as per the below….

    Dems are REALLY doing their best to fumble this golden opportunity. Chances for re-election look higher than ever at this point. I’m starting to worry that even Bernie can’t beat Trump if the economy does well in time for 2020 (a big if). The power of incumbency is still huge. Trump has solidified the GOP behind him and I question if Trump will even have a primary challenge with the way things look. Also, big danger that Dems will sandbag Bernie if/when he wins the nomination.

    This would be the real nightmare scenario. Lots of people worried about Bernie winning nomination, I’m trying to think a couple of steps ahead, here. I think the general election might be the biggest worry.

  25. Tooearly

    Is Amazon really just rolling the Amazon delivery out? At Christmas time I had a long conversation with a confused driver who was trying to locate a Home I had shipped a package to and he insisted he was working for Amazon. This in St.Paul MN

    1. JamesG

      Maybe St Paul was a pilot/test?

      No company would roll out nationally w/o testing the concept in a small market.

  26. Matthew G. Saroff

    I hate privatizing public assets, but anything to get the International Space Station off of taxpayer’s hands is a good thing.

    From a science perspective, it has been complete pants for years.

    The date on humans and extended microgravity has been collected, and there is literally nothing else that cannot be done better and cheaper without a human presence.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Well, when they built the International Space Station, the Chinese were forbidden to have anything to do with it which is why they are planning on building their own. Maybe Trump could sell the US’s share in the ISS to China. It is second hand now but being a master at the art of negotiation, I’m sure that he could make a buck selling it to them.

      1. polecat

        If the Chinese were smart, they’d construct their station for 1g rotation … might even make Elon’$ head go supernova … an extra plus ! ‘;]

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Amazon to Launch Delivery Service That Would Vie With FedEx, UPS Wall Street Journal. Key part:


    They are also going into the medical supply business.

    Wonder if they are interested in supplying voting machines any time soon.

  28. Jon Cloke

    Just so I’ve got my correct outrage hat on, is having sex with children worse than killing them, like the US and UK airforces are doing in Syria and did all across Iraq?

    And like we’re supplying weapons to the Saudis to do in Yemen?

    So I can adjust my moral barometer, is it worse to be an aid organization supplying vital humanitarian aid, some of whose members exploit their power over the vulnerable they’re supposed to be helping, or a western liberal democracy which has been killing tens of thousands of men, women and children across the Middle East in the name of ‘democratizing/liberating’ them?

    I suppose death is a form of liberation, after all…

    1. ambrit

      Those ‘aid organizations’ are part of the “western liberal “democracy”‘ system. A very messed up symbiosis at work.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Ahem, militaries are in the business of killing people. You can oppose the wars and should but this is hardly unexpected.

      Are you going to tell me it’s OK for a charity to knowingly have rapists and pedophiles use the charity’s resources to gratify their appetites?

      And you are using the former to downplay the latter? Both are wrong.

      What is this with these efforts to minimize Oxfam’s abuses, particularly since the top brass was involved in the coverup? I see massive halo effect cognitive bias working. I strongly suspect if this had happened in, say, a right wing religious organization, you’d be a big critic, but because it is sainted Oxfam, it can’t be that bad.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump’s Infrastructure plan:

    Finally, there’s a very Trump-esque $20-billion fund for “projects of national significance.” Supposedly these are “projects that can lift the American spirit, that are the next-century-type of infrastructure as opposed to just rebuilding what we have currently,” according to a White House briefing this weekend.

    That’s a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. The greatest infrastructure projects in American history weren’t undertaken because they would lift the American spirit, but because they served a mundane need that happened to have grand ramifications. Hoover Dam, the epitome of a spirit-uplifting infrastructure project, wasn’t built to make Americans feel good, but to solve an immediate flood control and irrigation crisis for a bunch of farmers in the Imperial Valley of Southern California;

    Hoover Dam, then, as the quote says, is both mundanely practical and spirit-uplifting.

    It’s possible to do both.

    So with the infrastructure plan being vague (where does it say these projects of national significance won’t be practical), why base your criticism on the assumption that ‘projects of national significance’ won’t be practical as well?

    1. rd

      The primary problem with American infrastructure is that we already have it. People assume that the water will come out of the taps tomorrow, the toilets will flush and not end up in their basement, the subway will work, and they will have a road and bridge to drive on. They don’t understand yet how touch and go many of these assumptions are at this time.

      However, many of these systems were built at around the same time, so statistically once some start to show issues, then it will intensify pretty quickly as it is starting to. Problems like Flint are just a harbinger of what is coming. NYC region immediately after Sandy is also a harbinger of what will come if systems are updated. Puerto Rico after the hurricanes is a classic example of what happens when infrastructure is neglected for many years, including due to incompetence and corruption as well as lack of funding.

      The Chamber of Commerce, barging companies, trucking companies etc. are virtually begging Congress to increase user fees to pay for better roads, bridges, locks, etc. so that they can transport goods more efficiently and cost-effectively. Congress has been refusing because that would mean “raising taxes” even though the “taxpayers” view them as user fees to pay for maintenance, upkeep, and replacement of critical infrastructure.

  30. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    I wish they’d stop calling them “2D materials”. They’re not. Save the dimensional dimensions for the mathematicians, who can use them accurately.
    Length, width, height, these materials have all three. That’s 3, not 2.

  31. blennylips

    I wish they’d stop calling them “2D materials”.

    Get used to it.

    Agreed that was a clumsy article.

    “nD materials” [n-1….] are examples of topological materials science that is current (ha!) hot stuff:

    The last thing mathematicians thought was that topology would be useful to materials science.

    IIRC, the Hall Effect (or some variant of it) is due to a dynamical system confined to the surface of a torus. Topology matters and Dimension ain’t just for integers anymore as Mandelbrot, the mathematician, taught the physicists.

  32. Anonymous

    AI classifications methods are vulnerable to training data biases, however even if the training data is a good representation of the classification population there is still the possibility of the AI detecting real correlations that may be uncomfortable or unfair.

    The vast majority of AI we will encounter is designed to sell us products or make industrial operations more efficient. How the owners of these systems will handle uncomfortable classifications is a serious question. AI may end up reinforcing racist and sexist stereotypes if we are not careful.

  33. Stranger In A Strange Land, getting stranger

    “Corporations Will Inherit the Earth New York Times.” is the most depressing thing I’ve seen in awhile.
    I feel old today, fearing it may be simply too late to do anything about the Corporate takeover of government.
    After reading NC for many years I have come to realize that I was born a Boomer into a arguably Socialist USA courtesy of FDR & the New Deal.
    Checks and balances and the tax laws kept Corporations in check and life then back then was a lot more balanced. .
    The Powell memo unleashed the insanity that has consumed my country and possibly the world.
    There are words I refuse to use nowadays, for instance “inflation”, I call it deflation, a dastardly trick whereby all those shrunken dollars have mysteriously ended up untaxed in Corporate coffers while the buying power of my salary steadily decreased over the last 45 working years. The dollar number went way up, but the buying power went steadily down.
    I cannot understand how educated people seem to totally miss the essential difference between a Corporation & a Government.
    For the uninformed, a Corporation is a wildly inefficient large organization, you know, like a Government, But the Corporation by design is managed by people who are like crack addicts for money, so Corporations cost so much more than government ever did.
    When you hear corporatists talking about forcing smaller government what it means is very simple. Loot the resources of sovereign USA taxpayers until such point as (corporations) gain the financial power to become the Government. Articles like this NY Times Op Ed as well as Bezos, Berkshire & the Bank point to a bold tactic of emerging corporate supersession of government responsibilities.
    It looks like “we’re” giving it all up with out a shot being fired. We’re all too busy arguing trivialities down in the weeds.

    I need to go for a long walk right now. :-(

    Extra reading if you’re interested.
    The economics of the New Deal worked for everybody for a long time, parts of it still are seen everywhere today.

    Text of the New Deal speech:

    The Four Freedoms:
    1-Freedom of speech
    2-Freedom of RELIGION
    3-Freedom from want
    4-Freedom from fear

    Ronald Reagan redefining the Four Freedoms for corporations

    His four:
    1 Freedom of Speech
    2 Freedom of Worship (note word change)
    3 Freedom of Enterprise (meaning Corporations and yes RR couldn’t count!)

    The (then secret) plan commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce to free the Corporations from, well, ANY constraints.'corporate_personhood'%3A_meet_the_man_to_blame_for_corporations_having_more_rights_than_you

  34. kareninca

    So does #metoo mean the end of socioeconomically assortive mating? Does this mean that guys will date and marry the nice gal who works the checkout line at Trader Joe’s? Since they are now terrified of their co-workers? In Silicon Valley, it seems that well-employed guys never stopped marrying women with low-status jobs; at least I gather that from chatting with, yes, women who work checkout lines. Since there aren’t a lot of women in tech firms, and many tech guys are kind of amazed when a female is nice to them. Maybe this will spread now.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you, but the data shows that marriages to people who are from a similar social background to you are more likely to last.

      And those tech guys are not marrying or even dating “nice gals at Trader Joes” now. The rich ones marry models. I am told by men who live in SF the other ones are really bitter about not getting dates, that there are many men in this category. So young men with incomes but I assume not much in the way of looks or seduction skills report that they get rejected by women, and I assume they’ve relaxed their selection criteria (studies have found that men get less fussy about women the hornier they are).

      1. kareninca

        I know that marriages between people who are from similar backgrounds are more likely to last. I was just wondering if (despite the greater risk of marriage failure) there would now be more marriages between men with better jobs and women without good jobs.

        Yes, the rich tech guys marry models. I wasn’t thinking of them; they are outliers. I was wondering about the vast numbers of mid and upper-mid level ones. Certainly the cashiers I chat with have spouses whose jobs are far above theirs in status; there is a real female shortage in Silicon Valley (“the Valley of the Doll-less”). I wonder if and when the bitter SF mid-level tech guys will start asking out the cashiers in SF. Maybe they are already and the cashiers are saying no thanks.

        I have a friend who is in her late 20s; her family is in the one percent. Her (pregnancy-induced) marriage to a class-appropriate guy lasted for about six months; he cheated. She finds tech guys repulsive. She is now looking for a tall, handsome, nicely-tempered guy; she doesn’t care at all what his occupation is, as long as he has kindly parents and wants to have kids. Some people adjust.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          See my reply. Men I know in SF (ones who are socially skilled, cute, and married) report that the geeks are very bitter and say they are turned down by women. Women don’t need to get married if they earn a decent income, so they can be fussy and apparently are. And how does one meet a “cashier” anyhow? They are way too busy to pick them up while checking out. They probably have a long commute and live in a completely different ‘hood than the techie guy would, so how would they cross paths for him to even ask her for a date? And the logistics if they are, say, an hour by public transport apart is also an impediment to starting dating.

          1. kareninca

            Back when I was between colleges (decades ago) I had a cashier-type job in San Francisco. Guys asked me out all the time when I was working; they would come to my window and chat while doing their transaction, and then a few times later (after they considered that they sort of knew me) they would ask me out while I was doing their transaction. Occasionally I said yes. I had no money beyond my cashier income and didn’t have a car, but the guys did, so even when they lived at a distance it was not a problem.

            Anyway, yes, women can be very picky now. That’s why I’m wondering if more of them will “marry up.” I agree that it won’t necessarily work out.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              You specifically said Trader Joes. If you’ve been in one, there isn’t any opportunity to chat. There are always lines and the cashiers are under the gun to get to the next customer. Maybe in a clothing store or a small speciality food shop you could talk to someone, but even in the smaller stores I go to in Manhattan, like the silly pricey high end grocer I go to sometimes out of desperation because it’s the store nearest to me, or the health food store, there is no way you could have anything beyond the briefest of pleasantries. And yes, during a six month period when I was going to Starbucks regularly, I did get to be on a first name basis with a lot of the staff, but even with being a regular, I can see how the Starbucks managerial playbook would make it pretty hard to get any friendlier than that.

              And I don’t shop at peak times either. So your idea that many if any cashiers have the time to converse with customers seems out of date with urban realities today.

              1. kareninca

                I worked in a check cashing place. It was the early 80s and the economy was bad. I was under the gun. Guys asked nonetheless. And some of them were well off and well employed, even at a check cashing place. I’m not saying it was easy for them, but they managed. Motivation matters. But yes, that was perhaps a different time.

                Re these days, I converse a fair bit with TJs cashiers, and Sprouts cashiers, and Safeway cashiers (I don’t go to Starbucks) when they are not too busy; I find out about their kids and their flu symptoms and their hours and they ask me what my weekend plans are and I ask about theirs in response. And I am not trying to find things out; I am just trying to be polite. I’ve gotten to know the young Hispanic lady at Safeway; I know about her Jewish boyfriend (we’ve discussed whether she’d convert) and her new puppy. All of these conversations are in snatches; she is often very busy but she chats anyway. She waves me over to her line. I am not a social person; if I were I presume I’d know a lot more. I have an acquaintance whose main social life is conversations with TJs cashiers, male and female. I think that there must be a difference between Manhattan and Palo Alto.

                1. kareninca

                  So, I just asked someone I volunteer with – a tech guy (we both volunteer evenings). I asked him if guys asked cashiers out, or if they were deterred by the fact that the cashiers were too busy. He told me, “They may be busy, but you are the customer and so you have their attention.” So maybe you are thinking of how a civilized person would behave. A guy who wants something will try to get it, even if the method available is not polite. Well, not all guys, of course, but some.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    I don’t see this method as viable as I said, given how stores are busy and cashiers can get in trouble if their line is backed up and they are perceived to be slow. When I am at a gym, which is a much more social setting, I am put off when anyone tries chatting me up when I am clearly in an “on a mission” mode, as in trying to get my workout done. I could just as easily see a woman who had a customer hit on her tell her manager, “This guy was holding up the line talking to me” as a pre-emptive strategy from getting chewed out by the boss, since he could just as easily say customer service is OK, personal conversation is not, and it was her job to ignore him and get to the next customer. The fact is that trying to get a date is not a valid work activity, so I don’t see management buying the “he’s the customer” bullshit when the customer is out of line.

                    Quite frankly, the guy you quoted view of the world is no different than that the #MeToo types depict as sexual harassment in the workplace, so tell me why this is supposed to be better?

                    And it’s not as if it’s hard to replace cashiers these days either.

                    1. adrena

                      Quite frankly, the guy you quoted view of the world is no different than that the #MeToo types depict as sexual harassment in the workplace, so tell me why this is supposed to be better?

                      Jesus Christ, God help us.

                    2. ambrit

                      I saw at my last job in retail that pressure from Corporate led to store management putting pressure on the cashiers to do jobs other than pure ‘check out’ duties as a form of ‘multitasking/productivity enhancement.’ Basically, hurry up with the checkout lines and then, during the lulls, go straighten up the clothes racks, and reshelve the items rejected by customers at the checkout lines. Hearing something like “Adria, to your register,” over the store sound system was a common event.
                      The other dimension I saw regarding this subject was the low level desperation evident in the behaviour of the store workers. Many of us were very worried about finances, and this seemed to preclude ideas about romance and or carnality. One more, peripheral issue here is the high percentage of young single women raising children either by themselves or with help from extended families. I should upbraid myself here, as I just remembered the two young men I worked with who were heavily involved with children being “shared” with estranged ex-wives or girlfriends.
                      I see here an interesting clash of cultures. Most hourly workers that I’ve spoken with consider a job as “just a job.” It is a way to make money to pay the bills. They go to work, then they leave after their shift and return to their ‘real lives.’ Management however, I have observed to be stuck in the “Your Career is Your Life” self delusion. Unless you are at the apex of the organization, and not even really securely at that, you are expendable. Many, many managers don’t ‘get’ this. This self delusion is to the benefit of the corporation, almost exclusively so.
                      Now that the weather has improved somewhat, we’re suddenly seeing an increase in the visibly homeless and beggars. Also, local charities are, from conversations I’m having with people around our town, feeling stressed; as one man put it, “..much earlier in the year than we’ve ever seen it before.” The reason I’m mentioning this in a comment about ‘flirting’ is that people have only so much time and energy each day to allocate. Basic survival is becoming much more difficult, and thus lowering the personal resources available for ‘romantic’ pursuits.

                    3. Yves Smith Post author

                      That is a much more articulate and specific description of what I sensed: except perhaps at small stores at off times, most retail stores are now so thinly staffed by design and have so much pressure from management that the workers need to keep their heads down and do their jobs, however their bosses define that.

                    4. kareninca

                      I don’t mean to drag this out, and leaving the romance aspect aside, but I feel as if I have to describe how Trader Joe’s is different around here. I get the very strong impression that the cashiers are encouraged to chat with customers when they have spare time. In fact, they do so so much that I’ve worried that they may be pressured to do so (and that can be very stressful for employees).

                      I had a friend whom I volunteered with for a couple of years (he has since moved to help his mother) who worked for many years for Safeway and then for TJs (he now works at a distant TJs). He said that Safeway had become horrible, and I could see that. He said that TJs was a wonderful company to work for. And I have, even recently, been told by TJs workers the same thing, unsolicited. One said a couple of weeks ago – “I know people think this must be a horrible job, but it isn’t, I like it!” I assured her that I had heard that TJs was a civilized company. There are people working at the local TJs who have been there for years and years; a good sign. It is not easy to replace cashiers around here; it is very hard to; there are help wanted signs everywhere and “we will train” signs, because housing is so expensive, so lower wage jobs are very hard to fill.

                      I’m not claiming cashier jobs are good jobs or anything of the sort, but there seems to be company variation and locale variation in re how awful they are.

                2. adrena

                  Yes. I always have a brief chat with a good-looking young cashier half my age. The minute he sees me a big smile appears on his face. I have no idea why – maybe it’s because I wear funky red glasses. It sure makes me feel good though.

  35. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    O Brother Where Art Thou. +100, especially for divining the keystone of our woes: our corrupt money system.

    But the shift we’ve seen with the New Deal Unwind is not a repudiation of “Socialism”, far from it. It’s merely a change in who qualifies for all of the Socialist largesse.

    We now have Unlimited Socialism for banks, arms merchants, pharma death-rattler billionaires, surveillance spooks, Big Prison, and Big Tax Evasion (lumping Apple, Amazon etc in this category alongside standard offshore tax freeloaders).

    Socialism for actual people, though? You know, the kind that keeps people from dying, or sleeping on the street? The kind that would bring the richest nation on Earth’s infant mortality rate under that of, say, Bulgaria? Or even would bring the nation’s roads and airports up to par with Third World countries like Thailand? Nah, it’s full Capitalism for you plebes. Creative Destruction.

    I’d laugh, if I wasn’t crying.

  36. JTFaraday

    “I can name many people, including one of my brothers, who met their spouse at the office and have had long-standing successful marriages.”

    Yes, but I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have 1). a sexual harassment policy and 2). a rule about no two persons from the same family working in the same department. This is just standard protocol, and from this alone it should be clear to anyone that workplace fraternization could easily lead one afoul of the local sheriff and one may find oneself looking for a new job.

    In my lifetime anyway (and I am not young), it’s always been play at one’s own risk, and the people who are pissing and moaning about it now do protest too much. If one can’t be professional in a professional environment (and, yes, professional includes Walmart and yes, professional means not imposing discriminatory “concrete ceilings” that lead to expensive lawsuits), then maybe one doesn’t need to be there.

  37. Stephen Gardner

    Re: “The analyst who predicted Amazon would buy Whole Foods says only 2 cities have a shot at HQ2”. I read the article and I think this marketing prof may have gotten the Whole Foods acquisition right but that doesn’t mean he understands Amazon’s needed workforce. It takes more than 20-something BSEEs to staff a headquarters. I understand that the party line these days is “STEM is god” but that’s just typical faddish talk from a decaying social structure. I know for a fact, being a STEM graduate myself in an engineering job, that the MBAs that run the show don’t respect STEM knowledge. They love to pontificate about it but they don’t understand it and don’t aspire to. It’s just magic that allows that to make more money. If the magician is in India or China matters not. If this professor is right about Bezos’ motivations then we all need to short Amazon. It is doomed. But I don’t believe the HQ2 narrative anyway. I think Bezos is gearing up to move the only HQ to a low cost area and he is using the HQ2 narrative to smooth the path. Once the area for HQ2 is determined and the buildings built the HQ1 staff will be offered a choice: move to the low cost area with a pay cut or take a hike.

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