Links 2/17/18

Household sprays rival diesel fumes for causing air pollution Financial Times. Including perfume!

How the private space industry could take over lower Earth orbit — and make money off it The Verge (Kevin W)

Apple Employees Can’t Stop Walking into Glass Walls Vanity Fair (Kevin W)

People are trolling iPhone users with the ‘killer symbol’ that crashes their apps Tech Crunch (Kevin W)

Judge Won’t Let FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal Stop Lawsuit Alleging Charter Throttled Netflix Hollywood Reporter

Can mapping conflict data explain, predict and prevent violence? BBC (Kevin W)

Distracted driving: Everyone hates it, but most of us do it, study finds ars technica. Ha, because I hardly ever drive, I figured I could consider myself to be only an average driver (although I am very good about signaling!). But this suggests I am a good driver because everyone else has been adopting bad behaviors. I don’t even use a cell or GPS while driving. I drive while driving.

This Might Be the First Drone-Related Aircraft Crash Fortune (Kevin W)

Missing data hinder replication of artificial intelligence studies Science

Germany says it won’t use killer robots, but soldiers are torn MIT Technology Review (David L)


Brexit: Angela Merkel says she is still ‘curious’ about what the UK actually wants Independent

Theresa May to warn EU lives will be put at risk if it lets ‘deep-seated ideology’ block new post-Brexit security deal Telegraph

New Cold War

US: Russia’s NotPetya the most destructive cyberattack ever CNET. Bill B:

The White House statement is pure bombast (“the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history”), Trump’s area of expertise. Downing Street Memo anyone? “Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”


Thousands of Israeli Protesters Call for Benjamin Netanyahu to Step Down Anti-Media (Judy B)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook told to stop tracking in Belgium BBC (David L)

Rooskies. FWIW, a political scientist said his reading of Mueller indictments was that they would give the RussiaRussia! types pause because Mueller had so little after all this time.

Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling Bloomberg (resilc)

A caged Clinton and fake ‘woke blacks’: 9 striking findings from the Mueller indictment Politico. UserFriendly: “Too bad they didn’t help Bernie win the primary.”

IMF: Trump Tax Cuts Could Trigger Global Race to the Bottom New York Magazine (resilc)

Kentucky Gov. Blames Video Games for Florida School Shooting Rolling Stone (resilc)

Russians Bought Bank Accounts From California Man, Mueller Says New York Times

Trump Transition

U.S. Weighs Tariffs and Quotas on Steel and Aluminum Imports Wall Street Journal

Outrage as US border agents cut visit times for divided families Guardian

Ratigan Tells 7 News He’s Thinking About Running For North Country Congressional Seat WNYF (bob)

Hurricane police call in FBI after ISIS flag is found flying at southern Utah high school Salt Lake Tribune (resilc)


Horrified Florida students beg the adults: Please, do something about guns Los Angeles Times

Miami Hosts Gun Show Days After Parkland Shooting Miami New Times (resilc)

3 billboards near Miami are trolling Sen. Marco Rubio after the Florida school massacre CNN (furzy)

Mitch McConnell and the Gun-Control Stonewall Atlantic

Nothing in the Constitution Prevents Sensible Gun Rules Bloomberg

NRA contributions: how much money is spent on lawmakers? Guardian (resilc)

American Carnage Counterpunch

Fake News

The Intercept Is Transitioning From Guard Dog To Attack Dog For The Establishment Caitlin Johnstone (Oregoncharles)

CIA Defends Selective Disclosure to Reporters Federation of American Scientists (Bill B)

IMF: Trump Tax Cuts Could Trigger Global Race to the Bottom New York Magazine (resilc)

Winn-Dixie and Tops Owners Are Said to Prepare for Bankruptcy Bloomberg

How IT Threatens Democracy Project Syndicate (David L)

What Stores Do With $90 Billion in Merchandise Returns Wall Street Journal

SEC Kills Chinese-Linked Takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange Bloomberg (furzy)

James Damore’s labor complaint against Google was completely shut down The Verge

Guillotine Watch

How a urine test after back surgery triggered a $17,800 bill Kaiser Health News (Chuck L)

Class Warfare

DSA-Endorsed Judge’s Bail Reforms Prompt Media Attack FAIR (Chuck L). If you are in Pennsylvania, a call or short letter to the station objecting to this biased coverage would help.

Arizona “Ground Zero” for Koch Attack on Public Education TruthOut


Media Embrace New ‘Reform’ Group as Bulwark Against Guaranteed Healthcare FAIR (Chuck L). Lambert was on this immediately.

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence R):

And a sort of bonus. This farm is not far from where resilc lives in Vermont. The video isn’t quite an ad since the farm’s products are all sold wholesale and they really do seem to like farming.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Wukchumni

    “I don’t even use a cell or GPS while driving. I drive while driving.”

    I know your type. Typical left columnist progressive who occasionally feels the urge to reverse position momentarily. Takes maps when driving, but seldom has the need for the plot to unfold.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In Sydney this weekend, a 22 year old crushed two police officers between his van and their police car causing one of the police officers to have one foot amputated and fighting for his life in hospital. The driver, who was traveling at 60 kilometers per hour, admitted to having used his mobile for up to 20 seconds for texting leading up to the crash. He had been previously fined for using his mobile while driving. And that is why it has been made illegal to use your mobile while driving here.

      1. a different chris

        >why it has been made illegal to use your mobile while driving here.

        Yeah but that will never, ever work. Just like those gun control laws they passed made no difference at all!

    2. Marco

      “I’m very good at signaling” Yves! Thank you and I detest other drivers who don’t as I take signaling very important. Whilst a passenger with a friend who NEVER signaled I asked why. He said it was a sign of “weakness” to signal and that it broadcasted submissive qualities in aggressive traffic situations. I’ve also noticed that when I do signal in tight traffic drivers will speed up because they don’t want you in front of them. Cars are killing us.

      1. Expat

        according to studies, talking on the phone is as bad as being slightly drunk. Since most people do not drink and drive but most people do phone and drive, this is probably becoming a leading cause of accidents. Apparently hands-free doesn’t help much. It’s not the hands, it’s the brain. We cannot multi-task that way.

          1. Bill

            IMO, “talking” to a passenger does not involve intermediate equipment, however, arguing with a passenger, yelling at your kids, getting steamed with backseat driving are all just as bad.

          2. doug

            One thing, the passenger is concerned for the safety of the traveling vehicle, and has eyes that can see the current environment. That person on the phone, not so much.

          3. Laughingsong

            As Doug mentions, the passenger is there, with a second set of eyes, plus when things get busy or tight on the road they usually have the good sense to STFU and let you concentrate. The person on the other side of the phone doesn’t know so they just keep blathering away.

            And yes Yves, thanks for the signaling! I don’t get your man worrying about “being submissive”; sharing the road really does work best when everyone cooperates. Of course, easy for me to say, I live in a place where the “rush hour” barely lasts that long.

            I too do not use GPS (I like maps!) or phone. Not a complete antidote for distracted driving though. I find that after a near miss during driving, I suddenly realize that my mind was thinking about what I would do at my destination, or what I had been doing at the place I just left . . . Anything but focused on what I was really doing behind the wheel. Be here now!

            1. Procopius

              I have driven in Bangkok, and it’s not as bad as Washington, D.C.. That’s the worst driving experience I ever had. In Bangkok I was pleasantly surprised at how often people would give way to let me into their lane in front of them. It was much better than I had feared it would be.

        1. crittermom

          “Apparently hands-free doesn’t help much. It’s not the hands, it’s the brain. We cannot multi task that way.”
          Thank you! I have been saying this forever but others look at me like I’m an idiot since ‘they can talk & drive just fine’. (And what is it with folks who think you can’t hear ’em unless they’re looking at you–& they’re the one driving?!)

          No, I’m not an idiot. It’s called self-preservation.
          And those that think they can drive & talk ‘just fine’ are fooling themselves. I’m witness to that fact most any day I’m on the road.

          I was taught to drive at an early age & take it VERY seriously.
          My dad, who taught me to drive, told me to assume everyone else on the road is either stupid, tired or drunk.
          Now I add ‘preoccupied on their phone’, as well.

          1. grayslady

            I was taught to drive by an off-duty policeman (my school was too small to have Driver’s Ed.) who told me pretty much the same thing as your dad told you. Where I live now everyone exceeds the speed limit, so I put on my turn signals way ahead of when I would ordinarily so they will have plenty of time to slow down while I make my turn. Unfortunately, there are a lot of SUVs in this area, and they are, uniformly, the rudest, most dangerous drivers. The SUVs are the school yard bullies of the road.

            1. Expat

              What is very amusing are the surveys of drivers. Something like 90% of all drivers put themselves in the top half of drivers when judging their skill and lawfulness.

              It’s been a while since I have spoken about driving with an American but here in France I often hear drivers say they are so good that they don’t need to obey the speed limit or that traffic rules are for bad drivers with crappy cars. They have sports cars and superior skills so they can do whatever they like.

              Dare I be sexist and bring up women putting on make-up on the way to work?

        1. Charlie

          That’s an East Coast thing, actually.

          I didn’t see it much west of the Mississippi during my time driving cross country.

          1. Poopypants

            Come visit Scottsdale/Phoenix.

            The old joke often comes to mind, ‘Do they sell that model with turn signals?’.

            I think it’s a very sad commentary on our ‘me’ society and ‘F’ everybody else.

            1. Charlie

              I didn’t so much mean the use/non-use of turn signals so much as the “need” to maintain position in front of everyone, but good point. It apparently has spread.

      2. Chris

        I tend to be an aggressively competitive driver. The thing is, the competition I’m in is to determine which is the politest, most considerate driver on the road.

        I usually win.

        1. Sid_finster

          Lol, in the summer, I daily a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX or a battered old Vette running aluminum heads and intake, big roller cam, 750 double pumper, deep gears and 4″ open sidepipes.

          Except on rare occasions, i drive the speed limit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If your bathroom is smart and, say for example, analyses your poop & urine for “health” reasons and detects illegal intoxicants in them, will it summon the police? If it finds an adverse reading concerning your health, will it contact your health insurer telling them of its findings? I started to suggest these in humour but when I think about it, I am not so sure anymore.

  2. Wukchumni

    Hurricane* police call in FBI after ISIS flag is found flying at southern Utah high school Salt Lake Tribune (resilc)

    Well, Joseph Smith called the engraved writing on the golden plates of Moroni: ‘reformed Egyptian’, so it could be a splinter group?

    * it’s pronounced ‘hurry kin’ there.

    1. Carolinian

      From The Guardian to The Intercept–Greenwald sure knows how to pick ’em. Those of us who defended his alliance with Omidyar back in the beginning have egg on our face now. Worth noting that Greenwald rarely seems to post on his own site these days.

      He’s still a great writer though.

      1. Donald

        I definitely have egg on my face. I remember being excited that Greenwald and Scahill had a billionaire funding them. The Intercept was going to do great things. It still publishes a few good articles, but the Syrian War coverage was abysmal. The great untold story of our time, I suspect, was how the US and its Saudi allies cynically kept the war going and then put all the blame for the massive suffering on Assad and Putin ( not that they are innocent). Leftwing magazines are supposed to care about American militarism. The Intercept did an awful job.

        And on Russiagate they have now adopted the hysterical tone of the diehard Clintonites.

        1. audrey jr

          Actually, it’s Scahill to whom I would like to speak, at the moment.
          If you’ll recall Jeremy and his writing partner, whose name eludes me right now, had signed on with Omidyar to start reporting for the Intercept upon its inception. I cannot remember the details surrounding Jeremy Scahill’s departure except for the fact that he was, indeed, interfered with by Omidyar with regard to his reporting.
          As I recall Scahill and his partner left the Intercept six weeks or less after Omidyars interference began.
          Not surprised to see the interference rearing its ugly head yet again.
          If Greenwald had any cojones at all he would quit that rag.

    2. Eureka Springs

      Without a byline I would never have guessed Risen wrote that article. He seems unhinged. Since when is a massive circle of FBI NSA types corroborating each others story credible evidence? How does he of all people so quickly forget this Mueller led circus is the FBI investigating itself? The FBI, an entity which will above all else protect the institution (iron law #1) and preserve its ability to lie and deceive (iron law #2?), manufacture and maintain an enemy or criminal as standard operating procedure (iron law 2.1).

      1. integer

        protect the institution (iron law #1) and preserve its ability to lie and deceive (iron law #2?), manufacture and maintain an enemy or criminal as standard operating procedure (iron law 2.1).

        Long-suffering proponents of reforming the D party take note!

    1. Lee

      Ah, the sweet smack of karma.

      Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody’s Counting (Bloomberg)

      Some months ago in San Francisco a guy sailed at high speed against a red light into one of the city’s busiest intersections just missing me and hitting three other cars, which then slid sideways into a crosswalk full of lunch time pedestrians, who deftly got out of the way. I got a brief but good look into the cab. So intent was he upon his texting that his eyes did not rise from the phone screen until the moment of impact.

    1. John

      You don’t need to be a good shot with an’s a military weapon…that’s the point…just spray lead everywhere and you’re bound to hit something. Of course, the NRA knows that and probably turned him on to that aspect of the AR-15.

      1. Wyoming

        That statement is just nonsense. You obviously have never used one. Allen is dead right. If you really know how to use such a weapon you can do infinitely greater damage than someone who just sprays bullets around. An expert in the use of an assault rife can kill far more people using single shots and aiming than anyone using full auto fire.

        1. Expat

          So at 50 feet away, firing into a crowd of children, you expect someone to miss? Sure, an expert might get one-shot, one-hit, but given the size of clips and the speed of reloading, I don’t think marginal skills are a limiting factor in committing this sort of massacre.

        2. Procopius

          The military quickly found, after introduction of the M-16, that full automatic fire is bad. First, they instructed troops not to use automatic fire in combat. Then they required Cold to modify the selector switch to select single shot, three round bursts, and full automatic. On full automatic you can barely control where the damned thing is pointing. Also, troops have to carry their ammunition. One of the reasons for choosing the 5.56 mm size is that a soldier can carry a lot more rounds than with the 7.62×51 round used in the M-!4 or the 30-06 ammo used in the M-1.

      2. ambrit

        No AR-15 sold to the public is allowed to be automatic firing, Unless you have gunsmithing abilities or know someone who has such, you will have to pull the trigger for every shot. Agreed that it’s a quick firing rifle none the less.
        A civilian needs a Treasury permit to own any automatic weapon. Not easy to get I’m told. Plus expensive. The gentrification of murder.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting that a Treasury (the department that handles money) permit is needed to own any automatic weapon.

          Is it more than just about guns? Is money involved here?

          1. ambrit

            Last time I checked, a Treasury permit to transfer an automatic firearm cost $200.
            Doing some checking I find that the department overseeing firearms was moved over from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Old habits of thought die hard I guess. So, now I guess it’s an ATF permit.
            See, at least where Connecticut is concerned:
            All automatic weapons in the civilian sphere, including police forces, must be registered with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. So, somewhere there is a data base with the information on what the police forces have, and where, in the way of machine guns. That list should be interesting to read.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Still, it’s interesting it’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and not say, Alcohol, Weed, Tobacco and Firearms.

              1. ambrit

                Well, tobacco is a ‘legal’ cash crop, but, if I remember correctly, growing tobacco is treated the same as growing weed. So, weed would be regulated at the Federal level strictly for taxation purposes. When the money stream reaches some threshold level, I’d expect the Feds to start moving in.
                Also, consider that such a repurposing of the War on Drugs, which is a hilarious semantic pun, would engender a serious turf war at the Federal level. Moving control of weed over to the ATF would mean the deconstruction of the Drugs Enforcement Agency. Broken rice bowls galore!

            2. fat feller

              I wonder how the DOE filed the paperwork for all the armament they purchased awhile back. Thought I remember them purchasing a ton of automatic “street sweeper” shotguns some time ago. Would be interesting to know where all that hardware went if they are not using them to protect students.

        2. Ford Prefect

          Unless trained, a semi-automatic or automatic set on 3-shot bursts is more deadly than a fully-automatic weapon. A novice with a fully-automatic weapon (if they could even get one) is more likely to put bullets in the ceiling than hit somebody as the force typically pushes the barrel upwards. The magazines also empties much faster.

          The Vegas shooter with bump stocks appeared to have studied trajectories and practiced. He was also shooting down into a wide area, so accuracy was not essential. But in a school hallway or classroom, a semi-automatic weapon is devastating, as a 10 shot magazine has a strong likelihood of 10 hits.

        3. will_f

          No AR-15 sold to the public is allowed to be automatic firing, Unless you have gunsmithing abilities or know someone who has such, you will have to pull the trigger for every shot.

          Unless you have a bump stock, like the Las Vegas shooter had. The linked article gives instructions how to affix stock, and mentions that “installing a bump stock is easy”.

        4. Mulish

          You don’t gun smithing abilities to make an AR-15 automatic, just a drill, a vise, and a receiver kit, which are sold everywhere. Receiver kits are staples at gun shows as well as an internet search and a click away.

          The machining or smithing required is nominal HS metal shop 101.

        5. audrey jr

          Frankly, as regards school shootings, I would like a published list of the type(s) of SSRI medications that these young people are on.
          From my own short experience decades ago these meds can make people uber-aggressive.
          I believe we would find a definite pattern here.

        6. Procopius

          Actually, I was thinking about that the other night. In the 1920s, the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms unit of the U.S. Treasury controlled machine guns by taxing them. I’m thinking that would be a way to control the number of guns. On the first gun, you pay a one-time tax of, say, $10,000. For each additional gun you pay an acquisition tax of, say, $50,000, and annual possession taxes of, oh, I don’t know, say $25,000. As a leftist I really, really do not like the idea of the kind of police surveillance this would require, but the situation is getting desperate. Maybe require every gun owner to report for a day every week of militia training, which would include cleaning toilets at the bus station. We gotta do something.

          1. Harry

            Even better to require insurance.

            I need to be fully compensated by you if you kill my wife or a gun listed as in your possession is used to kill my wife.

            Once you have an insurance requirement, it will soon become prohibitively expensive for those who “lose” guns.

      3. Sid_finster

        The Vietnam era Army, using fully auto M-16s, adopted “massive firepower” aka “spray and pray” infantry tactics. Accuracy didn’t matter, what mattered was putting out the maximum volume of lead.

        The Marines still trained in marksmanship, and had much higher kill numbers as a result.

        Note that the current iteration of the US infantry rifle is optimized for burst for burst fire, not full auto rock and roll.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Higher kill numbers” of little brown people living in a far-off land where the Empire and its troops and contractors had no effing right or reason to be. Let us remember some context here, while applauding efficient killing.

          Yaas, let us be proud of our heroes in battles, in wars that should never have gotten started by the standards that we pretend to exist.

          And anyone who dips an inquiring toe into the bloody sea of war porn, in YouTube or darker places, knows that the vast majority of “active military shooters,” other than those now universally holy saints, once formerly detested as the worst kind of sneaking cowards, those snipers, do that “spray and pray.” Ammo is cheap, and well spread around by MMT and “trade” and “logistics” and those amoral “supply chains” so beloved of so many of our end-of-our-species-but-personally-profiting fellow humans.

            1. Procopius

              Well, I’ve been retired for a long time, so maybe they’ve changed. Certainly generals seem to know little about history or politics, and they used to. When I was on active duty (Vietnam Era) automatic fire was prohibited except during the morning madness, when you couldn’t see if there was anything to shoot at anyway. Soldiers didn’t like to waste ammo anyway, because they had to carry it and it gets damned heavy.

        2. Plenue

          Actually the exact opposite is the case. In Vietnam troops tended to panic and just hold down the trigger, burning rapidly through their ammo and not hitting much of anything. After the war the USMC requested the development of an improved M16, the M16A2. One of the changes was the removal of the auto setting, replaced with a three-round burst, specifically so troops couldn’t just spray-and-pray.

        3. The Rev Kev

          I have a book called “One Soldier” by a ‘Nam vet. He describes his training with the M-16. They went out to a firing range and were told at the sound of a siren to insert a magazine and start firing at targets. So here is this guy working out which way the magazine goes into the rifle, where the sights are and how they work, where the safety is but he couldn’t shoot it at first.
          He had to demand that his scorer tell him how to cock the rifle after which he got his first practice in with this rifle. After his magazine was empty he got an automatic pass and as he put it: “The United States Army has cranked out another superbly trained marksmen.” And that was his rifle training before he went to Vietnam.

        4. Darthbobber

          Well, given the number of pre-ir goggle nightfights and jungle firefights and the preference of troops for not exposing themselves, marksmanship directed at unseen targets is only so effective.

          Of course, given that troops only carry so much ammo, there’s an upper limit to how carried away you can get with the rock and roll method without the risk of running out of ammo before running out of enemies.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The way to take on the tragedies, or one possible way, is not to go over the parapet and charge directly into the NRA machine gun nests of the amendment, but to go around, to encircle.

      Is not charging this way conceding, to admit defeat?

      Is possible we actually make some long-waited progress looking elsewhere, culturally, socially and economically?

      1. ambrit

        True great captains use indirect approaches for the best results. Belisarius, the great Byzantine general kept the Eastern Empire safe during his lifetime through avoiding battle as often as possible. Threatening his enemies lines of support often got them to do what he wanted much cheaper than outright combat.
        In that vein, the real fear in the gunnut community is not a ban on weapons, but an attack on the availability and price of ammunition. A truly visionary leader could accomplish much by imposing a steep tax on ammo. Even a sliding scale, with exceptions for ‘legitimate’ users of guns, say ranchers and foresters would go far to reducing the overall problem. As far as the lone wolf nutters is concerned, I blame Reagan for shuttering the government run mental hospitals. Where else are the ‘disturbed’ going to hang out, or get any sympathetic human interaction?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think that’s a great suggestion, something that we can actually do to improve the situation.

          As for lone wolf nutters, we have loners, and we have nutters.

          Nutters, we have to help.

          Loners too. We can do much to make our society more like others where people are less likely to be loners.

          1. ambrit

            I keep thinking that there is, so far, no American politician who could give a ‘Four Freedoms’ speech and get traction for the idea.
            A definite repudiation of the neo-liberal dispensation, articulated on a national platform is needed. (Hint: Bernie, now’s the time to go for broke. Don’t let the Democrat nomenklatura stab you in the back again. Take the fight to them.)

        2. Lead Bow

          I’d agree with anyone claiming it’s too late to impose gun control in the US when every man and his dog already owns a gun.

          But controlling ammunition is a potential approach. Let it and its components only be available for sale by registered gun clubs to registered members and require every cartridge it sells have its ID etched on the casing. Any club found to have unidentified ammunition on its premises, and any club’s cartridge casing found off its property unless recorded as issued to a licenced hunter costs it its registration. No exceptions.

          Sure it’s Draconian. Sure it will take time to take effect as the existing mountain of ammunition in bottom drawers is expended. Sure there will be a black-market in the stuff, illegally imported or made by those with the illegal tools and skill, but it won’t be easy to get and will be consequently expensive. Sure it’s far from a good solution but at least it’s a start, it’s doing something rather than nothing, and maybe as a result in twenty year’s time a classroom full of kids or even a few innocent citizens in a street will have a longer life as a result.

          1. Expat

            150 000 or so tonnes of lead goes into ammunition every year. The US alone produces about 12 billion rounds of ammo each year.

            The US also have about half the world’s civilian guns for a population that is only 5% of the world total.

            We know the arguments for guns, not the least of which is that they will protect the owners from the evil government. I propose a solution. The NRA selects 10, 000 random members who have to fight to the death against one infantry brigade. If the NRA wins, they can keep their guns. If they lose, they turn them in.

          2. JBird

            (Frustrated poster screams, shouts, jumps up and down, and acts like a crazed clown.)

            So banning guns is the right thing to do? That is what is being proposed here, for it is like saying yes, you can have that car, but here is your pint of gasoline for the year. Such virtue signaling is not very helpful. Especially as a third of the country has gun(s), and this will enrage them, and might even make some some gun control advocates unhappy. It will be an excellent campaign issue though.

            The DNC and RNC will both just love, love, love the idea of draconian ammunition controls because for them, guns are not the issue, having emotional issues from which voters can get incensed over, and thus the votes and donations will flow. It is just like the War on Terror, and the War on some Drugs. The effective methods for reducing drug using, and terrorism, are not used for they are fairly cheap, and not very sexy. The methods that are being used are political gold, very expensive, and actually increase poverty, crime, drug use, and terrorism. It also reminds me of this Cold War II being created.

            As well as being virtue signalling, it is also ideas that retard any useful progress. Although there have been steady improvements, guns that fire rapidly rather like the AR-15, and are fairly easy to quickly reload have been around since the American Civil War. America has been buried in guns since before we were Americans and these increasing numbers of mass shootings are fairly new, so I think rather than virtue signalling and helping the political leadership stay the leadership, it might be more productive to examine the environment in which they are happening.

            The murder rate has been decreasing for several decades now (I bet many people do not know this, which is strange is it not?) and tends to fluctuate with organized violence. The mob wars of the 20s and 30s, or the crack wars of the 80s. Once the the wars end, the murder rate just falls, and the difference between the 1980s and the later decades is startling. However, the rate of mass shootings has increased as the crapification of America has progressed.

            I believe reversing that crapification would reverse the mass shootings. However, killing that vast neo-Liberal blood squid, eliminating the massive corruption, and creating the programs that would eliminate, or certainly greatly reduce the rate, means hard, hard work, thought, cooperation, and probably a few decades of time. Pseudo-solutions are not helpful.

            (Poster feels better now.)

            1. Expat

              This is an old argument, the notion that we can’t take the guns away because there are too many in the hands of too many people. And that the blame for gun violence lies with our evil overlords. So, if we built a paradise on earth, there would be no more gun violence.

              I also disagree with your assertion that rapid fire, military grade weapons were available and abundant since the Civil War. Repeaters were introduced after the civil war as were cheap handguns, but rifles like the Henry held only 16 rounds. A colt revolver held six shot. Both are slow to reload compared to a modern AR-15 or Beretta. Muzzle velocities are also much higher in modern guns.

              We also don’t have many statistics on mass shootings from back then. The Old West was apparently much calmer than the films would have you believe. Mass shootings seem to date to after the Civil War and the introduction of repeating guns. It was awkward to kill a crowd with a muzzle-loading rifle! So saying that mass shootings are new is a tad disingenuous. It’s like saying the risk of nuclear war is linked to modern monetary policy since there was no risk prior to Bretton Woods.

              As for the murder rate in general, this is typically linked to economic development. But mass shootings seem to be linked to something else. And until we can identify it and solve it, don’t you think it would be a good idea to take away at least the most dangerous guns?

      1. Wukchumni

        New math:

        If Billy has a 30 round clip for his AR-15 and a 10 round clip for his Glock, with a couple of backup clips, how much slower will the Glock be in dispensing all 30 of the bullets compared to the AR-15?

  3. Sid_finster

    The indictment says not a word about collision or the Russian government. It does say quite a lot about Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders and Trump.

    This will be used as an excuse to crack down on dissent. Passing along an article that points out the hypocrisy of Team D? Sharing a meme mocking Team R?

    Ah, you are on the side of our enemies, in league with Emmanuel Goldstein no less!

    1. scoff

      The rght to dissent is already under attack.

      From the National Lawyers Guild: Conservative-led Anti-Protest Legislation Already Doubled Since Last Year

      Last March, the NLG shared an overview and analysis of the wave of anti-protest legislation sweeping state legislatures across the country. At the time, we were looking at 25 bills proposed in 19 states—all focused on limiting the right to protest or removing liability for harm caused to protesters. One year later, the number of anti-protest bills has reached 58 in 31 states with no end in sight. Nine bills have already been introduced (or-reintroduced) in 2018 alone. Conservative think tanks, private companies, and law enforcement agencies are now openly working with Republican lawmakers to crack down on dissent, chill the right to protest, and increase penalties for demonstrators and the organizations that support them.

    2. Doug Hillman

      Having voted for Jill Stein, rather than the lesser of two weevils, I will likely now fall under the scrutiny of the NSA-DHS-CIA-FBI as a.Russian collaborator.

    3. timbers

      But but…HUNDREDS….”unprecedented”

      The outreach from the Russians included direct contact with over 100 Americans.

      – (Bloomberg article)

      1. Sid_finster

        Do you *know* that the meme that you are sharing didn’t originate from….(dum dum dum!)


        Sarcasm aside, this is how it will go down from here on.

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      For all their talk during Obama’s presidency of “11-th dimensional chess,” the Democrats can’t manage to look even two moves ahead. This thread from one of the centers of the contagion–Daily Kos–is full of accusations and counter-accusations, mostly directly against Sanders supporters and assorted Lefties. (Daily Krazy ) Do these Establishment Dems not realize that this McCarthy play is the stock-and-trade of Republicans? If dissent from the Hillary coronation must be inspired and manipulated by them damn furriners, what about criticism of a sitting President?

      I must say i admire the Rs patience in giving the Ds time to purchase the rope, fashion the noose and tie it to a ceiling beam before they kick the stool out from beneath them.

      1. will_f

        For all their talk during Obama’s presidency of “11-th dimensional chess,” the Democrats can’t manage to look even two moves ahead.

        To be fair, most of the “11-dimensional chess” talk was from the democratic party base, fooling themselves into thinking that Obama’s direct and obvious moves to help banksters were part of some really subtle plan that would bring them to justice.The rest was commentary by party leaders and pundits who were usually smart enough to know better, helping the con along.

      2. JBird

        But but…HUNDREDS….”unprecedented”

        The outreach from the Russians included direct contact with over 100 Americans.

        – (Bloomberg article)

        Well, Senator McCarthy’s list of Soviet infiltrators and Communists sympathizers was usually much smaller so maybe we really should be really, really scared.

        Yah know, I remember the joy that was the Cold War and I had family that could tell me of the fun of being suspected never mind being a real Red, or of being guilty of any actual crimes. It’s only been twenty-five years since the fall of the Soviet Union and this insanity is baaacck!

        But since the modern Democratic Party is more conservative than either party was fifty years, certainly economically, we should not be surprised if they use the tactics of the Red Scare and they probably want to restore HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and whatever the Senate’s version of it was.

        I should just grab some beer and popcorn to watch Insanity Theatre.

    5. Buttinsky

      And Bernie himself is touting the truth and importance of all this Russian “meddling.” This is a win-win for the national security state and political establishment: a Bernie whom the Dems can’t trust because he’s a Russian stooge and a Bernie whom the left can’t trust because he won’t speak truth to power about this propaganda campaign. Goodbye, 2020.

      1. Aumua

        Geez Bernie. How many times are they going to throw you under the bus, before you stand up for yourself? The irony is gettin pretty thick.

  4. timbers


    With Mueller’s new indictments against “Russians” (whatever that means) for saying mean things about Hillary by posting adds on FB about Black Lives Matter among other various topics, I’m not looking forward to work where some of my friends/co-workers will triumphantly inform me that they were right all along and tell me such as Russians who are issued parking ticket violations are exactly the same thing as Russia meddling in Hillary’s election to get her Presidency.

    Now if Mueller can interview these Russians so he can also charge them with lying to the FBI about parking ticket violations the resulting sensational headlines of that Russian meddling in Hillary’s election should allow Trump to another $100B increase in military spending next year.

    1. Doug Hillman

      It’s like the 1970s cartoon script of bumbling commie spies, Boris and Natasha. Trust me, Mueller will interview them in an open public trial just as soon as they’re in custody.

      1. Ignim Brites

        Of course, the “defendants” will never be in custody and there will never be a trial. It will be interesting to see how closely the MSM follows the extradition proceedings if they report on them at all. Very convenient for Mueller.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Kunstler’s take on the efficacy of our spooks and some tips for the Russians:

      Let’s face it, the United States is doing a stellar job of destroying itself with bad ideas, foolish ideologies, and pervasive self-deceit. If I was running the Russian intel services, I’d just pay to send a few Nebraska county commissioners to Disneyland — that would keep our seventeen US intel agencies busy until kingdom come trying to figure out the angle. And it would cheaper than spending a hundred grand to f[amily blog] with Facebook.

  5. Doug Hillman

    Mueller’s indictment of Russian “meddlers” is a weird diversion from FBI, DOJ, and DNC crimes revealed in the FISA memo and a distraction from Clinton-Obama crimes in the Uranium 1 scandal.

    Read it. It’s a classic example of a carbon-soot encrusted pot hanging in the fireplace pointing out signs of heat tarnish on a stove top kettle. Millions were spent, and millions to come, on a fruitless witch hunt to uncover how the fiendishly diabolical Russians, headed by a one-time caterer for a Putin dinner spent $100k in Facebook ads, among other dastardly deeds, in a failed attempt to sway a $2.5+ billion US election, the equivalent of 1/250th of one cent. It’s a bizarre, amateurish diversion from the rampant criminal corruption of US elites and rogue intelligence (sic) agencies.

    In reading the specifics of this indictment, one assumes that there is actual evidence supporting its allegations against hapless 13 suspects led by the former Putin caterer. And I’m sure it will all come out in the trial. Oh, wait…

    1. Romancing The Loan

      In reading the specifics of the indictment I was mostly struck by how little actual criminal activity is described in it. I might do more research later but certainly the count under the “defrauding the united states” statute (the supposed illegal end that the conspiracy was for) is unlikely to survive a motion to dismiss – you may not need actual monetary losses but you at least have to be trying for them – annoying the powers that be, even if it makes their recordkeeping more difficult, doesn’t equal fraud. That leaves them with wire fraud, and ID theft in service of the wire fraud, as the only actual crimes. And that part of the indictment (opening bank accounts in other people’s names) is unlikely to be a very wide ranging conspiracy, has nothing to do with social media posts, and is the same thing Wells Fargo did constantly.

      1. timbers

        However, I have been informed by several of my Democratic friends that it is illegal to talk to Russians. When I show them a pic of Obama or Hillary talking to Putin, they say that’s different.

        1. Sid_finster

          The real point of the indictments is to keep russiagate alive and to use it as a weapon to crack down on dissent.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        You forgot that the “defendants” “destroyed evidence for the purpose of impeding the investigation.” (Politico)

        What a colossal embarrassment to the people of the united states. Shameful.

      3. todde

        It doesn’t have to be monetary at all.

        If you work to impede the lawful actions of the federal government you are committing fraud

      4. Stormcrow

        The Russian 13 & the CIA

        It has been suggested in a thread over at Sic Semper Tyrannis that the 13 Russian trolls might be CIA.

        … who these “Internet Research Agency” people actually are. Scott Humor over at The Saker dug deep into these people and determined that they are actually anti-Russian Russians who were allegedly proven in court to be CIA spies!

        I link to Scott’s piece … here … :

        A Brief History of the “Kremlin Trolls”

        This is a clever move on Mueller’s part — indict a bunch of Russians who (some) already have been arrested by the Russians and therefore are in no position to defend themselves against a US indictment.

      5. Juan Tootreego

        I was thinking the same thing; not much meat on them bones. But I was also thinking that the facts in the indictment point in an entirely different direction, towards “How To Make Money On The Internet.”

        Pretty simple- you buy some web addresses, pick some hot-button issues and set up inciting/alarming websites about them, leading conspicuously to Google and other syndicated ad links (and/or associate marketing campaigns). You buy ads and post on popular websites with links leading to your pages. You set up bank accounts to collect the money. When a hot-button issue dies a natural death, you fold your tent and move on to a new topic, with new websites.

        The only different wrinkle in this case would have been the setting up of USA-located addresses and bank accounts, because it’s much easier to collect your money from Google and similar operations if you do that; fewer hoops to jump through. Hence you get Russians taking trips to USA vacation spots “and oh by the way” with a few stops along the way to set up the money funnel and buy some ‘legit’ pre-established bank accounts from a known small-time operator who does that sort of thing for a fee. But if your actual motive was to fox the election rather than make money, you wouldn’t need to do that. And needless to say, if you were working for the Kremlin you wouldn’t need to do it either, since it would already exist. :-)

        The amounts of money involved (“Thousands per month” in an election costing in the billions) plus the creation of a financial pipeline seem to point to internet money-making much more than towards any genuine attempt to alter election results.

      6. Darthbobber

        But there will be no motions to dismiss and indeed no defense. Because there will be no trials. Because there will be no extradition. So nobody has to worry in the slightest about prevailing at trial. Convenient.

    2. Heidi's Master

      Ditto. “Russians Bought Bank Accounts From California Man, Mueller Says”. So I guess now California is guilty of collusion with the Russians.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Collusion, hell. Sacramento is practically a suburb of Moscow with its provocative sanctuary cities and farm-to-vape legal cannabis from the notorious Emerald Triangle.

        Even residents of the inland red zone like Fresno Dan confess to wearing hammer-and-sickle bunny slippers.

        Soon Nevada — like Pennsylvania which borders on the Peoples State of NJ — will be obliged to erect signs at the California border proclaiming “America Starts Here” —

        California libre!

        1. polecat

          “Cailfornia libre !”

          And then there’s Arizona’s baby steppes towards a shining Libertarian Nirvana … Gold, Gunz, and Blockchains !

          1. voteforno6

            …and self-driving cars!*

            *Unless something goes wrong, in which case a human takes over**

            **As long as the Wi-Fi connection is reliable

              1. ambrit

                Yes, well, I don’t mean Lake Henderson now, do I? That place on the Colorado River. We can’t call it Mead anymore because that’s too similar to Mede, and that’s too close to ‘Medes and Persians,’ and the Persians now, well, now known as Iranians, allied with Evil Putin. It all comes back to “Rooskies Under the Bed!”
                I will give credit where due. Trump has made ‘America Grate Again!’

      2. Brian

        Where is Hoffa? The Piltdown Man?, The wooly Mammoth? What about Shirley? (shirley you jest) What about the Guilty feller? (smelt it dealt it, after all)
        The case will try these real or imagined neer do wells in absentia and no witnesses will be willing to testify for obvious reasons.
        This isn’t law enforcement any longer, it is bad theater so far off broadway it wouldn’t have a chance to top springtime for hitler.
        oh the humanity

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the link. I’m wondering how exactly they decided this –

      Defendant ORGANIZATION had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political
      system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

      Is the ‘ORGANIZATION’ (ha! – it sounds like Maxwell Smart is putting this together) only involved in sowing discord in US politics, or is there other subject matter they are interested in too? My guess would be they don’t limit their trolling to just Uncle Sugar. If that’s the case, can we see some of the other ads they’ve placed? I have certainly not extensively reviewed everything supposedly put out by these dastardly Russians, but what I have seen looks like clickbait.

      My guess is this ‘troll farm’ and any others that surely exist in many places around the world don’t give a damn about who the US president is – they are interested in using the loose rules of these tech platforms which don’t vet anything (you got a nickel? – Facebook will take it no questions asked) to make some money for themselves. And that’s the American way, isn’t it?

      Again, if the spooks were really interested in finding out who rigged and manipulated the election, there is plenty of evidence from the Podesta emails, David Brock’s troll farms, rigged primaries, caucuses where every coin flip went Clinton’s way, etc. We know the names, who they contacted, for what purpose, there’s a money trail, etc. And the suspects are all in the good ol’ US of A – no extradition necessary!

      1. Rosario

        Yeah, MoonOfAlabama seems to have a similar take on the “implications” of the indictment.

        I’m curious how many Israelis, Saudis, Brits, etc. engage in similar activities during US elections (this including the for-real real illegal bits like wire fraud and ID theft). Though, uncovering this would probably require a level of digging on each country and its citizen big-leagers to hit bedrock, which seems to be where Mueller and Co. have gone with their Russia investigation only to find some beer tabs, glass shards, and pomade tins. Enough to broadly illustrate an entire cultural narrative I’m sure (sarc).

        This whole thing is nauseating to watch. Hell, at this point I’m almost hoping they actually uncover something along the lines of what was originally implied by “Russian Meddling” just to make things interesting. Maybe an ex-KGB agent here, a dead drop to a US double-agent there, Trump getting a briefcase of cash directly from Putin, (insert-espionage-here). Ya know, a good f****** story. All I’m getting is the by-the-fraudulant-books (i.e. normal) behaviors of rich and connected so-and-sos.

        If we are gonna go off the rails with a nuclear power again we might as well have the Tom Clancy narrative to back it up.

    4. Ted

      Yes, read the indictments. Please read them. What a joke. Some of the defendants committed the grievous crime of working for the ORGANIZATION for a few months in 2014 and during that time (GASP) …. traveled to the United States for three weeks, visiting several states known to have tourist hotspots. And then, left the organization?? Must have been up to no good, what kind of decent human comes to the United States for three weeks in the summer. What kind of monsterous ORGANIZATION gives three weeks of travel time? One DEFENDANT went to Atlanta for 4 days! Oh the gravity of such a crime!

      Then the scale of the criminal activity … one or two online posts a month?! Those Rooskies sure were working over time to sway the election. If we grant Herr Müller his indictments, what he is showing is just how utterly inept and goofy said Russian operation actually was. The nation shudders!

      1. Jim Haygood

        One DEFENDANT went to Atlanta for 4 days! Oh the gravity of such a crime!

        Lawsy! Thinkin’ to post a Kickstarter to convert Mueller’s memo into the first graphic novel based on a federal indictment. Swarthy Boris will be cameo’d by the customary foreboding shadows as he menaces Atlanta with his poisonous commie disinfo, just as ol’ MLK did lo, these fifty years ago, as the FBI diligently warned us. /sarc

        Mueller in his dotage, comrades — like as not he’ll moved straight from the special prosecutor’s office to the memory wing of assisted living on his manky old pallet.

        Mueller’s damp squib (at least till we amp it up with some pictures) makes clear that he’s farther than ever from nailing his nemesis, ol’ Steak Taters & Tushie.

      2. a different chris

        > What kind of monsterous ORGANIZATION gives three weeks of travel time?

        Well that is so, so UnAmerican right there as to close the case for me, for sure.

      3. Harry

        I particularly enjoyed the intelligence they gathered on the trip. Apparently they obtained information about “purple states” which they then used to target their efforts.

        The sophistication of these intelligence types.

  6. Clive

    Re: Merchandise Returns

    I for one now welcome our online ordering and delivery retail phenomena, even though at the moment it threatens to eviscerate our High (Main) St.’s

    I rarely now shop for apparel mainly because everything seems so crappified, almost regardless of cost. However, I was dragged to a former U.K. retail stalwart — now, sadly, intent on running itself into the ground by selling poor quality garments at mid range price points and hoping we won’t know that they’ve been reduced to a pale imitation of what they used to be like — on a recent trip to the mall.

    Wandering aimlessly like a lost soul through the menswear, I happened across a couple of rails that comprised of a right old mish mash. Formal shirts, T-shirts, jerseys (wool, cashmere, man-made materials), trousers (I will, reluctantly, if pushed, translate to “pants” for the benefit of my US reader), jeans, suits. The whole nine yards. I wondered what it was all about. They were heavily marked down, but there were only single items. If there wasn’t the item you wanted in the colour you liked in your size, you were out of luck.

    Then I fathomed it out. This was where the store put its returns from “click and collect” where the customer had decided they didn’t want to keep their purchases.

    Loathed though I am to admit it, I filled my boots. The items must have been sold at cost price:

    Men’s denim jeans (brown-ish beige, last autumn’s must-have, apparently): £5 down from £40
    Blue cashmere cardigan: £3 Black version of same (also £3)
    Lumberjack (you guys call it plaid, don’t you?) shirt: £2 down from £30
    T-shirts (in small size, tailored fit, which the stores don’t carry): £2, I found various designs including some “designer-ish” down from between £15 and £25

    I got a completely new wardrobe for about £20, I probably won’t buy any more clothing for another year at least. I would have bought more, but I begrudge spending even £20 on clothes.

    There were several fellow vultures ferreting our way through these fashion entrails. I don’t know how much losses the retailer is having to eat on these items. As I say, there were a coupe of rails’ worth, just in that store.

    Long may it continue, as far as I’m concerned, if that’s the resultant bottom feeding opportunity, but it can’t contine for long. Eventually higher marked prices online, less mark downs available online, higher delivery charges — or some combination of these — will shift the retail landscape back to bricks and mortar again. Unless there’s some mechanisms thought up to prevent customers from using online ordering as some kind of changing-room-at-home en masse that I can’t devise.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Much as I loathe shopping I do love a bargain. I usually pop into the Patagonia outlet store here in Dublin when in town, which is one of the more ethical brands, and they have a no questions asked return policy (plus, being an outlet they have lots of stuff at less than half price, which is kinda necessary given just how expensive Patagonia is). I went yesterday with a friend who bought a very warm mountain jacket which had piled after a week – they said it was because of her backpack, but still gave her the money back and she got a new one.

      It did occur to me that as its the outlet store the jacket might arrive back on the rails with a huge discount. I vaguely wondered how ethical it would be to buy it back for my friend then as a cheap present.

      1. Clive

        I’ve also wondered what the various scams and even less underhand “playing of the systems” that aren’t actually unlawful are possible. Unfortunately and rather astonishingly given my profession, I don’t have a fraud-capable bone in my body so I don’t have any of the skills needed for coming up with dubious schemes myself.

        But given maltreated high turnover shop staff, big throughput of merchandise, probably poorly designed systems riddled with bugs and prone to user error, I too think there must be at least one way of exploiting the returns process for personal fun and profit.

        If we’ve both thought it, less scrupulous people must be actually doing it!

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I think many retail and service industries recognise this and build in formal and informal incentives to stop it. Many years ago when I was a barman in Heathrow Airport all bar staff were allowed a certain number of free drinks at the end of a shift – less a kind offer from the employer than a recognition that bar staff will skim drink one way or another so it was better to formalise the practice.

          In restaurants its common practice for staff to mark a number of opened bottles as having been returned as ‘corked’ and then drank after shifts. From what I know, lots of restaurants/wine bars turn a blind eye to this, its seen as a small price to keep staff happy. Most people I know who work in smaller clothes shops get pretty big discounts and ‘first dibs’ on sale items. But they are then expected to wear those clothes at work to act as sort of walking adverts.

          I think the big problem large retail chains with rigid rules have is that they can’t work out how to build in those little incentives to keep employees happy that are common practice in smaller businesses.

          1. ambrit

            Over here in America at least, ‘keeping employees happy’ isn’t even on the radar for the big stores. That would interfere with managements looting privileges. As the joke goes; “That’s one for you and one for me. Now, one more for you and three more for me. Yet again…”

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers

      Clive Sir,

      I trust the merchant in question is not Marks & Spencers by any chance – a business that used to source all its cloths from UK suppliers – that is said cloths were made in the UK – alas, its been a long time since M&S followed the herd & now imports everything at the lowest cost possible – why worry about quality when its quantity that counts?

      1. Clive

        Yes, unfortunately. And I did I imagine the wagging finger of Jerri-Lynn Scofield admonishing me for grabbing what must have been unethically produced clothing — a pair of jeans for a few pounds can’t, assuming that was the cost price, have been produced in anything other than an exploitative and environmentally unsound way.

        Regrettably (the sound you can hear is my hand waving) I do not know of any shop which sources U.K. made clothing apart from a few boutiques in London whose prices I can’t justify given my limited budget and tolerance for the whole notion of shopping for clothes. And if I see items made in countries which the U.K. has screwed up in our colonial past, like India or Pakistan, I can’t gelp but think that I owe them my custom in my own form of making amends via compensation or reparations.

        It would be nice if the entire industry was not so full of conflicting decisions to make.

        1. DJG


          I believe that you have summarized the existential-sartorial crisis of men in the English-speaking world, now going on roughly fifty years:

          “Wandering aimlessly like a lost soul through the menswear, I happened across a couple of rails that comprised of a right old mish mash.”

          The line is worthy of W.H. Auden.

          And: Don’t even get me going on trying, in the U S of A, to find a pair of men’s socks that is not made out of toxic waste or equivalent.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Just buy wool socks. Wigwam, Smartwool and REI all make nice merino socks in the US. Not cheap, sure, but quality materials, comfort, and construction make them well worth the cost.

        2. Jean

          On expensive urine and other medical tests:

          One has to sign a medical consent form for such things. I write on my consent form in small letters above my signature “Maximum price that will be paid $100.00.” I have yet to ever be charged more than that, but it would be interesting to see what would happen were I charged more and I referred them back to their own legal document.

        3. David

          Ah, Marks and Sparks, the only place my family ever bought clothes when I was young, because between all of them they had the fashion sense of something that really has absolutely no fashion sense at all, and they could take the clothes back if they were a mistake (which they usually were). Men, especially of my generation, would run through Marks snatching shirt and ties randomly from the counters at sale time. I, who actually like shopping for clothes, haven’t bought anything from them for a good forty years now.
          By the way, an amusing anecdote from the time when it was difficult and complicated to draw money from the bank at weekends, because there were no ATMs as such. People would buy some clothes from Marks, pay by cheque, and go and get a refund immediately in cash. The company knew it was a scam of sorts, but went along with it as it didn’t actually do any harm.

        4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Speaking of expensive clothes and India, another way to make amends is to pay them the highest form of compliment – to imitate.

          In this case, to imitate the khadi movement of spinning and making one’s own clothes, even dhoti, when the warming climate (globally) allows.

    3. ambrit

      Ah, good sir.
      Seek, if it’s bottom feed you desire, a “Super Discount Store” like the one I was recently let go from. (Almost everyone was ‘let go’ when the store became slated for moving to a cheaper costing location. We can apply for our old jobs anew, as happened at Barnes and Noble, at presumably lower wages in a few months. [Advice to store management; don’t hold your breath.]) This sort of emporium specializes in buying the returns, rejects, damaged goods, et. al. from other retail businesses. Be very aware of pricing though. If my experience is any guide, the “Bottom Rack” store will initially price the goods at full retail from the most expensive locations findable, with some degree of ‘virtue signalling’ markdown in hopes of bamboozling the public. The initial “discount” price will be close to full retail price in an average outlet.
      However, when the goods are finally marked down to real bargain status, you will most likely be privileged to join in another wake of vultures.

      1. Clive

        I can’t believe they had the affront to commercial good sense to let you go. I hope you all tell them to stick their offer to rehire with worse comp where the sun doesn’t shine. Of course, we often have to put up with such use and abuse ‘cos unfettered capitalism. Could you instead persuade Phillys to go on an economy drive ? ;-)

        1. ambrit

          I’m always reminded of the saying: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” When it comes to retail, the more the floor drones know, the more dangerous it becomes for the outlets’ bottom line. As you probably know already, passive aggressive behaviour is standard for retail establishments. No overt acts of defiance, because that way lies dismissal. Instead, surly ‘assistance’ to customers and just that slightest of delays in said ‘assistance’ all add up to a psychic blow against the management. The psychology of ‘service’ is endlessly fascinating.
          Alas, your ultimate suggestion is being deployed from the other side of the dyad. No more ‘snacks’ or afternoon jaunts to the second hand booksellers for me at the present. I had not really paid attention to the degree of consumerism in my everyday lifestyle. The supposedly ‘cheap’ candy bars, or ‘inexpensive’ pop in the oven pizzas for lunch. (We had a rudimentary kitchen available at the Chicken Palace.) Even the Library weekly used and discarded book sale has recently raised their prices per book. As in 4X. Even at low expenditure rates, economies are being pushed at us all from all sides. It is an experience in introspection to be forced to rearrange your daily habits.
          And, which is more of an anti-American sentiment, and coming from a Belle of New Orleans no less, I am being importuned to sell off one or two of my, admittedly small, collectable firearms collection! Oh, the indignity. I have to part with some of my fetishes of the Myth of America Cult continuum. It will do me good, she says. I cannot argue with that logic.
          Stay healthy and sane!

    4. Peter VE

      I just went to Nordstroms to look at mens shirts. Their house brand use to sell oxford shirts with the sleeves in 1″ increments (16 1/2″ – 34″), but they’ve gone to the 2″ increments, so I can’t find one that fits right. Another step in the crapification of everything. I guess I’ll have to go to Brooks Brothers and pay $25 more.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Ask them to change the sleeve length. I pick shirts that fit my husbands chest/shoulders and if the sleeves are too piratey, I have them shorten the sleeve. There shouldn’t be a charge for this.

    1. Olga

      I meant to post this y-day. A while back, an economist (he is Russian, in Ireland – so could be an evil plot) made a point that B’s secret actually lies in access to cheap money (read – all those insurance premiums sloshing about). This article nicely completes the picture. (And it also fits with this post from 2pm water cooler that Lambert recently posted, and which deserves much wider circulation:

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for that one. Glad to see they mentioned, at least in passing, Buffett’s deal with Government Sachs a decade ago, where he was able to get far more favorable terms with GS for bailing them out than the actual government. It seemed foolish to extend those terms to Buffett for his smaller cash infusion when the far larger bailout was coming from the government – why guarantee profits for Buffet when they could have taken the government’s money for nothing – but GS was buying reputation, hoping its association with Buffett would instill confidence in its crooked operations. Looks like it worked like a charm.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Have to tell you, the article is off base in a lot of respects.

      First, Buffett does not get his big insurance $ to invest from Geico. He gets it from his reinsurance business. He can raise $ there cheaper than the interest on Treasuries.

      Second, in the overwhelming majority of cases (Moodys is an exception) Buffett was either buying shares in a public company or with Goldman, got a sweetheart deal but in preferred stock. In no case does he have a board seat, so he does not play a governance role. Arguably with Wells he is a big enough shareholder he could have called Stumpf and told him he needed to resign….

      Yes, Buffett is a greedy capitalist. But he does not buy companies, lever them up, fire people, raid pensions, and expect that a tolerable percentage will go bankrupt. If you are gonna get upset about investors, any of the big or even medium sized PE guys has done way more damage than Buffett.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling

    Meanwhile, in totally unrelated news, the Munich Security conference commenced today where many security topics will be discussed such as the Russian annexation of Crimea, Russia’s army in the Donbass, Russian interference in Syria, a potential UN occupation force of 20,000 troops for the Donbass and Russia’s information war. Diplomats were heard bemoaning the fact that Donald Trump was still the President of the US. Meanwhile, American representatives James Matthis and John Kerry were busy pushing defense contracts for US firms at this conference.

    And you know that I am not making any of the above up.

    1. Doug Hillman

      Any discussion of cyber-crimes: hacking? It is now common knowledge that Russia hacked Hillary’s felonious email account and leaked the DNC’s primary election rigging. Why? Because their fingerprints are all over it, and of course such hackers don’t know how to wipe fingerprints. According to official US Defense policy, hacking is now defined as an act of war, so….

      1. MichaelSF

        I think you are supposed to wipe the computer with a cloth, some person who is the most qualified of anyone in the world said as much.

    2. blennylips

      I hope they can find the time to discuss this:

      “It’s a real disaster for the Navy, it’s the first time in history that there will not be any submarine operating for months,” warns the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament, Hans-Peter Bartels, in an interview published on Sunday in the Berlin weekly Bild am Sonntag.

      or more probably, pin-it-on-putin.

  8. Alex V

    Why I am not surprised in the ever slightest that Winn Dixie and Tops bankruptcies are the result of private equity raiding…

    1. Carolinian

      The main component grocer called Bi-Lo has been a presence in my area for many years. Meanwhile Walmart took up grocery sales and more recently Aldi and now Lidl have moved in to capture the cost conscious buyers with Publix catering to the middle class. Given the competition I’d say that it’s surprising that the mediocre Bi-Lo/Winn Dixie chain still exists at all. Their downfall probably has little to do with the private equity purchase.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Can’t speak for other areas, but yours truly always goes Winn-Dixie first on the west coast of Florida…

        wider aisles, cleaner space, happier staff, visually pleasant presentation…

        that does it then…

        the evil plot to keep this customer happy must be destroyed…

  9. foghorn longhorn

    A search on the infamous Internet Research Agency turned up bupkis.
    A bs wiki page and echo chamber allegations about meddling.
    This isn’t a nothing burger, it is a full on stupid sandwich.

  10. petal

    The day after the FL shooting I was in my car and had the radio on. An ad played for a gun show being held in town this weekend(rural NH) and God Bless America was playing in the background. I wanted to throw up. Nothing will change. Children 12 and under entry free with adult!

    Sad about Tops. I did not know they had been bought by Morgan Stanley from Ahold. They had been a nice option to have around when Wegmans didn’t have something or one did not feel like battling the madness that can be Wegmans. My parents liked their Italian bread.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps if we try to see it from various angles, we can see where people’s reasoning might justify or prove false their position.

      If gun ban is not comprehensive, 100% effective, would they feel even less secure? If that is their concern, how do we address that?

      If they feel the Russians are coming, would they ever want to give up their guns? Here, progress needs to be tied to clearing up this Russia interference bombshell of an issue. Any progressive Presidential candidate needs to be more cool-headed, and not join the Russia-did-it mob. If not, he or she is no progressive candidate at all. Again, when trying to communicate with them, we can have something to persuade them.

      Perhaps they fear the end of the empire, and the revenge taking by those from the former provinces or colonies. Here, how to manage it, if possible (which is by no means certain) is another issue.

      And as the problem is not just guns alone, actions can be proposed and small steps begin to be taken in various fronts that many can agree upon, instead all of us being stuck on the same issue that hasn’t been moved in decades. In fact, some of these other issues (inequality, stress, opioids and other cultural and social issues) are the ones we do not need to have our attention diverted. And so, there is some suspicion here, of being manipulated.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Re your final paragraph, MLTPB, I have wondered particularly why there has been no investigative reporting by the MSM on the possible effects of psychiatric meds on those who commit these horrific crimes.

    2. Arthur Dent

      The NYT had a piece in November looking at why the US is an outlier (except for Yemen) in mass shootings.

      The simple conclusion: the US has way more guns per capita than just about anywhere else, including third-world countries.

      The final paragraph is chilling:

      “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

      So it is pretty simple. The US has decided that the Second Amendment is really the freedom to be killed by random people armed to the teeth. While just about every other country has declared this unacceptable, the US has accepted it and will campaign politically to support this freedom. So maybe we do need to fortify our schools like military bases or prisons. I assume the GOP is currently preparing the spending bills to fund this with more deficit spending.

      1. bronco

        Why is that final paragraph so chilling? Killing them with napalm or cluster bombs or drone fired missiles has been ok for a long time . Suddenly though when one guy does it with a gun its unbearable? Or is it because they were white kids here in the states that it is unbearable , from a blue state even

    3. CaptainPoptart

      The Tops/Winn-Dixie article is a masterpiece of burying the lede:

      Bi-Lo is laboring under more than $1 billion in debt following its 2005 buyout by Lone Star Funds

      Do you think being hollowed out by private equity firms might have more than a little to do with provoking the bankruptcy?

  11. Kulantan

    This Russia thing is getting scary honestly. Here is the Australian ABC’s (like the BBC its government funded and a good place to go to find out what the OzBlob is thinking) headline:

    How Russian operatives conducted ‘information warfare’ against the US
    It began as a Cold War-like attack, but soon morphed into modern “information warfare” using social media accounts, US servers and campaign volunteers themselves to boost Donald Trump

    I’m gobsmacked. They really are determined to bring back the Cold War so they can have an external enemy. Although I’m not sure why they think that that “Russia posted mean things on Twitter” is going to look any better than loosing to guys with AKs in Afghanistan. But its orders of magnitude more dangerous.

    1. muelleritover

      “Russia posted mean things on twitter”… hundreds of thousands of times, generating millions of impressions. But when has propaganda ever worked, pravda?

      1. Kulantan

        Sure it was propaganda (also known as advertising). But given how tiny the “Russian” effort was in comparison to the amount of advertising (also know as propaganda) in the US election, pretending it had any significant effect is pretty pathetic.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder how this same news is covered in various countries.

      In, say, Russia, China, the UK, Korea, Brazil, Egypt, Syria, etc.

    3. Lee

      I find the idea of a war of dueling keyboard warriors furiously typing at their laptops hurling invective across cyberspace rather amusing. OTOH, some historians believe that the invention of the printing press was key in bringing about the thirty years war. Damn you, Gutenberg!

      In our case it might be a thirty minutes war.

    4. Barmitt O'Bamney

      Y’ know maybe I’m old fashioned but if FBI wasn’t so tied up in knots trying to overthrow the elected President of the United States, colluding with the veteran golpistas of the CIA and who knows what other hostile foreign intelligence services, maybe they could find the time to follow up on multiple tips received concerning a mentally unstable & heavily armed kid who’s threatening to shoot up his former school? Like in Florida, just the other day for instance. If they could just focus, now and again, on doing their f*ing jobs, instead of joining in palace intrigues, it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

  12. Jim Haygood

    How history morphs into caricature:

    In 1637, after the crash, the Dutch tradition of satirical songs kicked in. Pamphlets were sold making fun of traders. These were picked up by writers later in the 17th century, and then by a late 18th-century German writer of a history of inventions, which had huge success and was translated into English.

    This book was in turn plundered by Charles Mackay, whose Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds of 1841 has had huge and undeserved success. Much of what Mackay says about tulip mania comes straight from the satirical songs of 1637 – and it is repeated endlessly on financial websites, in blogs, on Twitter, and in popular finance books like A Random Walk Down Wall Street.

    Three hundred years hence the fall of Bubble III — and of America’s empire with it — no doubt will be attributed to the satanic VIX futures invented by the 21st century’s greatest villain — Putin! /sarc

  13. Rob P

    >FWIW, a political scientist said his reading of Mueller indictments was that they would give the RussiaRussia! types pause because Mueller had so little after all this time.

    Heh. If it has given them pause, they don’t seem to be showing any sign of it. Half of them think this proves the whole conspiracy theory is true.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      If Mueller has not handed down some indictments, they would have been accusing him and his office of bending the knee to the Trump White House. There is – at this point – no way to reason with Russiagate fanatics. They know what they want, therefore they “know” Putin/Russia despoiled our hallowed electoral process. No way would the electorate have chosen a (genuinely nasty, let face it) creep like Trump if not for shadowy ‘outside agitators’.

      The thing that is getting lost in all this frenzied Versailles-on-the-Potomac inside gaming is…. the fragility of our electoral system is real, and troubling. Potentially dangerous. Putin’s Russia has an active espionage arm, they are not friends of ours, and they would certainly screw us in pursuit of their own national interest (and they are unified enough to remember they have one).

      Many of the scoffers here seem to be so angry at the Clinton/Establisment elite who are pushing this hysteria that they do not bother to remember: both sides can be guilty of damaging us. Neither truly gives a damn about the interests of the American people, or the nation.

      1. voteforno6

        Putin’s Russia has an active espionage arm, they are not friends of ours, and they would certainly screw us in pursuit of their own national interest (and they are unified enough to remember they have one).

        What exactly are PutinRussia’s intentions? What basis do you have for that judgment, other than your own certitude? Evidence, please…

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          They are a distinct nation-state with their own interests and agenda. What I’ve said is applicable to every such entity. Beyond this however, we have repeatedly thwarted them in and around their own sphere(s) of interest, and a response from them is to be expected.

          These facts are beyond dispute and easy to understand. One would need to be willfully trolling a discussion in order to ignore them, or to disregard their obvious implications. A stiff, huffy response to every modest suggestion that Russia has interest of its own and a willingness to pursue them is not an effective defense for anti-Russiagate arguments.

          1. Sid_finster

            So why couldn’t Mueller, with a year, an unlimited budget, and a team of investigators who were clearly looking for something,, anything on Trump, come up with anything more damning than an episode of MTV’s Catfish?

            Otherwise, you produce a classic argument from ignorance. Just because the evidence isn’t there just means we need to look harder.

              1. FluffytheObeseCat

                My first post above was clearly incomplete. Perhaps expanding on the key sentence will clarify it:

                There is – at this point – no way to reason with Russiagate fanatics. Regardless of which side of the argument they appear to be on.

                1. integer

                  Russia treats the US with kid gloves, kind of like how a nurse treats a mentally ill patient who is known for violent outbursts. Highly unlikely that Russia would risk the blowback.

                  1. FluffytheObeseCat

                    I see Putin and his best men as neither stupid nor cowards. They will do whatever they reasonably can to pursue their own interests, and – tangentially perhaps – the interests of their nation. They would not shirk risk in the face of our krazy-assed descent into mass imbecility. That kind of stupid is something they cannot afford.

                    The cult-like, cartoonish fixations of the Democrat establishment notwithstanding: Russia has its own interests; they are distinct from ours, and we should never fucking forget it.

                    1. Yves Smith Post author

                      You are already making an huge and unwarranted leap. There is no proof that this troll farm had anything to do with the Russian government. Trying people in absentia means all sorts of things can be asserted and not tested the way they would be in a normal judicial process.

      1. ambrit

        I for one, feel like the summoned spirit of the dead man.
        Talk about prophecy. Didn’t Kurosawa have the plot of the last segment of one of his films be about an atomic accident that destroys the nation? All those people jumping off of the cliff, like lemmings.

  14. ambrit

    Even though really only a squib, the “No Robot Army” piece in the MIT review wins todays Stoppard Prize for linguistic ‘playability.’
    “Soldiers are torn.” Uh, that well could literally happen when flesh and blood soldiers come up against robot soldiers.
    Someone at the information dissemination service has suffered another attack of ‘delusions of grandeur.’ This sort of “reporting” should be punished as a “Professional Foul.”

  15. Wukchumni

    Just as the agricultural world was convening in Tulare for the World Ag Expo this week, concern and fear continued to spread across central San Joaquin Valley farmers and thousands of farm workers after three more farms were hit by employee audits ordered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Companies that have never been audited or may not have been audited for a decade or more are being targeted. Undocumented workers are frightened. Any mention of any ICE activity often leads them to leave their workplace or even their homes for fear of deportation.

    Hundreds of millions of fruit & nut trees, minding their own business.

    That’s what’s gonna happen…

  16. Jean

    A sidebar on the What Your Retailer Does With Returns” talks about the massive clothing recycling business in India. Not mentioned there are the sources of some of these clothes.

    Your local thrift shop, the smaller and more local the better, is where one should donate old serviceable clothing to see it remain in the community instead of exported.

    For example, the “Us Again” donation boxes are privately owned by a Scandinavian who turns the clothing at a profit into rags instead of allowing locals to buy inexpensive high quality clothing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In Sydney back in the 90s there was a whole series of big bins where people could drop old clothes off for charity. They were very well known “charity”. Then it was found out that this mob was using all the donated clothes to turn into industrial rags for industry sale and donating something like 1% of profits to some charity to justify the scam. People were outraged and all charity donations came under suspicion because of this.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps a bad day for Wall Street is a good day for most Americans.


      The other day, when the Trump administration announced tariffs on some Chinese metals. stocks went down.

      Some took as a negative sign.

      Could it be a good sign…for most Americans, when it’s a bad day on Wall Street?

      1. Edward E

        Fun times, begin the trade war. If Wilbur’s plans backfire it’ll shrink US proportion in international trade while boosting China influence. Infuriating allies as well. Will the price increases be counted as inflation?

  17. Oregoncharles

    “How a urine test after back surgery triggered a $17,800 bill”
    I wonder how much the surgeon’s kickback was? I’ll just bet he “wouldn’t discuss it” – she has just as much beef with him as with the lab.

    The worst thing is that with this level of corruption, you have to treat medical “caregivers” as antagonists, carefully questioning each request – or just refusing to cooperate. Should do wonders fo rmedical compliance.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Phony piss test company is actually tied to the doctor…Philip c Phan, who seems to have a well placed publicist based on local media obviously ignoring his direct tied to the testing company…so far the googol monster only shows two articles mentioning the good doctor and his tentacles…

  18. Buck Eschaton

    I was reading the angst post from a couple of days ago, and I was thinking it’s been such up and down for the past two years, with the hopelessness since 2008, and then the ray of hope that was the Sanders campaign, and then the putting down of that ray of hope by the DNC.
    Then there was the inevitability of 8 more years of grinding down to poverty that would have been a Clinton presidency and even the visions of apocalyptic war that went along with her neo-con craziness. So it was with a little bit of relief seeing Trump defeat the Clintons at last, and the hope for a cleansing of the Democrat Party. The Trump victory has been all for nought because the Russian craziness is really starting to get to me. The hysteria is just unbelievable…the Baghdad Bob type propaganda pronouncements shoving the insanity down your throat, I guess I’m waiting for the clubs to start coming out and the beatings to start commencing, to violently start to enforce the nonsense/hysteria/delusion.

    1. pretzelattack

      it is very much reminiscent of the buildup to the second iraq war, with more than a dash of mccarthism. fucking idiots, iraq didn’t have nukes, russia does. the only difference is now the current president isn’t fully on board, depending on his mood that day.

    2. integer

      If nothing else, the establishment has had to put all its cards on the table. Turns out they were only holding a pair of twos, but they leaned forward in a way that ensured everyone saw that they were packing heat.

  19. ChrisPacific

    Try doing the “everyone who disagrees with me is a Russian bot” search and looking at some of the results. They are pretty funny. We aren’t the only skeptics out there.


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