Links 2/19/18

Kangaroo strikes back against hunter with headbutt that breaks his jaw Independent (Re Silc).

Retreat From a Rising Sea: A Book Review Weather Underground

How Japan is preparing for the great flood New Statesman

When The Ice Melts LRB

Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’ Science. Just leave the Gulf of Maine alone!

Why the Hot Cryptocurrency Ripple is Going Down in Flames Time (UserFriendly). Musical interlude.

Why Commodity Coins Are Gaining Popularity

Mystery of Audi’s duplicate VINs deepens Handelsblatt

‘No Cash’ Signs Everywhere Has Sweden Worried It’s Gone Too Far Bloomberg


Israel says it is ready to act against Iran after Syrian incident FT. Bibi waving a chunk of drone wing around in Parliament. Did he check with Colin Powell?

Tillerson throws Erdogan a bone in Syria Asia Times


I don’t like Brexit – I just don’t see how it can be stopped Owen Jones, Guardian

Theresa May’s Brexit Vision Is Starting to Take Shape Bloomberg

The worst view to take on Corbyn’s Czech connection is: ‘Who cares?’ Guardian

Like many others, Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba was left in charge of a failing aircraft New Stateman. Neoliberal sabotage at the NHS proceeds apace.

Why is Virgin East Coast ditching its quiet coach? The Spectator. Money, presumably, but look for increased incidence of “train rage.”

German Politics Enters Era of Instability Der Spiegel

EU plan to bolster defence co-operation sparks US concern FT


John Kelly, Chinese officials caused commotion over nuclear football in Beijing, report says FOX

Australia, US, India and Japan in talks to establish ‘alternative’ to China’s Belt and Road (just don’t call it a rival) South China Morning Post

New Cold War

1 big thing: Flummoxed Facebook helped Mueller Axios. Facebook supplied Mueller with content (allegedly) created by the Internet Research agency. For example:

This is one of the dank memes that swung the election? Really? (I understand that a “theory of the case” is different from the real world, political effects of that theory in action. It’s the latter I think is most important.)

‘They are laughing their asses off in Moscow’: Trump takes on the FBI, Russia probe and 2016 election WaPo

Clinton spokesman calls Trump’s lack of response to Russia threat ‘un-American’ Politico

Courageous of Eskow to say this in the current climate:

Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-Made Discord NYT. “A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule.”

Russia’s Clash With the West Is About Geography, Not Ideology Foreign Policy

The Social Media Threat to Society and Security George Soros, Project Syndicate

Trump Transition

In Trump’s 2019 Budget, Lockheed Looms Almost as Large as State Dept. (Re Silc).

Private equity chiefs face conversion dilemma FT. “Groups agonise over whether to follow Ares’ move to become a corporation and pay less tax.”

Staffing the White House The Economist

Cook County judge convicted of mortgage fraud Chicago Tribune (KP). It still goes on…..

Lending discrimination, redlining still plague St. Louis, new data show St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ditto.

Sex in Politics… Not.

Do You Believe Her Now? Jill Abramson, New York Magazine and The Forgotten Testimonies Against Clarence Thomas Jill Abramson, New York Magazine. Somebody doesn’t like that loveable goof Joe Biden….

Amidst Election Security Worries, Suddenly Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback The Intercept (OregonCharles). Not among the people fomenting security hysteria, that’s for sure. There’s no money in paper ballots! Except maybe for the printers….


America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 17 maps and charts Vox

Nikolas Cruz: ‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’ Sun-Sentinel. Interview with Kimberly and James Snead, who took Cruz in after his mother died. Two points caught my eye:

Five days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead took Cruz to the office of a therapist she has been seeing. Cruz said he was open to therapy but didn’t like medication. He took a business card and was figuring out what his health insurance would cover.


They made Cruz buy a locking gun safe to put in his room the day he moved in. Cruz had a handful of guns, including the AR-15 and two other rifles that Snead said would be considered assault rifles. Cruz, a hunter, also had knives, BB guns and pellet guns.

Snead thought he had the only key to the cabinet but has figured out Cruz must have kept a key for himself. The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a couple of years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.

Rather like two-factor authentication….

In Wake of Florida Massacre, Gun Control Advocates Look to Connecticut NYT

The Unique Horror of a Bulletproof Backpack Sales surge after a mass shooting. The Cut

Hey Muslims, Let’s Join the NRA. We Could Help Solve Gun Violence. The Intercept. “Conservatives would lose their minds.” Liberals have been using that logic for years. I don’t see a good reason to double down on it.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Google files patent for robot that writes your Facebook posts, emails and tweets – but will need FULL access to scan your accounts Daily Mail (RB).

Class Warfare

Florida = Honduras: Inequality kills. Greg Palast (JBird).

The Big Number: 12 percent of older teens have had significant head injuries WaPo

Another flu pandemic is coming, and the world isn’t prepared South China Morning Post

Dirty talk: How pollution is snuffing out plants’ scent messages New Scientist. I’m guessing this is the study on which this article is based.

The Politics of Shame Current Affairs

Antidote du jour (KP):

KP writes: “My lab/golden pup, Mijo.”

Bonus Antidote, thread (DK):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. integer

    Billionaire financier George Soros shifts $18 billion[!] to his charitable foundation WaPo

    “This is huge news, because he grants in a more political fashion that almost all of his peers,” said Eileen Heisman, chief executive of the National Philanthropic Trust, which sponsors donor-advised funds. “This is just going to put more dollars behind it.”

    Leaked Soros Memo: Refugee Crisis ‘New Normal,’ Gives ‘New Opportunities’ For Global Influence
    Photo of Peter Hasson
    Daily Caller

    The nine-page review makes three key points: [Open Societies Foundation] — which doles out millions to [liberal] causes — has been successful at influencing global immigration policy; Europe’s refugee crisis presents “new opportunities” for the organization to influence global immigration policy; and the refugee crisis is the “new normal.”

    Soros is a problem, not an answer.

    1. integer

      Leaked: George Soros ‘Puppet Master’ Behind Ukrainian Regime, Trails Of Corruption Revealed Mint Press News

      Rarely does the world get a true look inside the corrupt world of Western oligarchs and the brazen manipulations they use to enhance their fortunes at the expense of the public good.

      The following comes from correspondence of the Hungarian-born billionaire, now naturalized American speculator, George Soros. The hacker group CyberBerkut has published online letters allegedly written by Soros that reveal him not only as puppet master of the US-backed Ukraine regime. They also reveal his machinations with the US Government and the officials of the European Union in a scheme where, if he succeeds, he could win billions in the plunder of Ukraine assets. All, of course, would be at the expense of Ukrainian citizens and of EU taxpayers.

      What the three hacked documents reveal is a degree of behind-the-scene manipulation of the most minute details of the Kiev regime by the New York billionaire.

      On The Bizarre Media Blackout Of Hacked George Soros Documents ZeroHedge

      Scandal: Leaked documents released a few days ago provide juicy insider details of how a fabulously rich businessman has been using his money to influence elections in Europe, underwrite an extremist group, target U.S. citizens who disagreed with him, dictate foreign policy, and try to sway a Supreme Court ruling, among other things. Pretty compelling stuff, right?

      Not if it involves leftist billionaire George Soros. In this case, the mainstream press couldn’t care less.

      On Saturday, a group called DC Leaks posted more than 2,500 documents going back to 2008 that it pilfered from Soros’ Open Society Foundations’ servers. Since then, the mainstream media have shown zero interest in this gold mine of information.

      1. integer

        FWIW, Soros is not a “leftist”, if one adheres to NC’s definition of the word. “Chaos profiteer” is much closer to the mark.

            1. Anon

              Wait..! Mose could sing–sort of.

              Miles couldn’t sing a lick. Listen to “Kind of Blue” (1959) and see what I mean :)

        1. a different chris

          They don’t care about that. They label Soros as a “leftist” because they can kill two birds with one stone that way.

    2. SpringTexan

      Sorry, on immigrants, Soros really cares, and is a help. I admire him a lot. His own immigrant experience informs his positions. We need more like that!

      1. lyman alpha blob

        If he cares so much about immigrants, maybe he could just donate his billions to them. That never seems to cross these billionaires’ minds as they set up ‘charitable foundations’ instead which seem to enrich the administrators more than actually helping any immigrants. Because it’s so much more fun using those billions to create one’s own real life game of Risk, so screw ’em.

        Destabilize a country, create refugees who never really wanted to leave, call them ‘immigrants’ instead and complain about their treatment, set up a foundation to ‘help’ and win accolades all around!

  2. Altandmain

    I guess for Americans, Happy President’s Day!

    Perhaps one of the most interesting, if not frustrating parts of the rise of Trump is the inability to get Democrats to accept the idea that the economic policies of Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama set the stage for a man like Trump. I think that among the Clinton Liberals, the madness has reached the stage the Tea Party reached with its “Birther” conspiracies around Obama.

    Bill Clinton largely validated Reaganism, dismantled welfare, pushed for free trade agreements like NAFTA, and deregulated the Glass Steagall Act. He may very well have dismantled Social Security had the Lewinsky affair not occurred. Obama too, largely bailed out Wall Street and did very little to help out Main Street to the point where his actions have been called the Bush-Obama Administration. People expect that the Democrats will stand up for the little guy. That is not happening of course. Liberals have been exposed to be as bad as business conservatives.

    Economic despair is what feeds racism. Since the 1970s, there has been plenty of despair. I think that unless the upper 10% begins to face it personally like what the 1% has done to the bottom 90%, that is not going to be clear to them. They have no ability to empathize with the bottom 90%. During the 2016 Primary, one key point to note was how dismissive Clinton Liberals were towards Sanders supporters. To them they were essentially subhuman sexists, rather than people who had legitimate economic grievances against the neoliberal policies of Clinton and Obama. Unlike Obama and her husband, Hillary Clinton was incapable of hiding her deep disdain for suffering Americans. That left Trump inevitable I think.

    People were so desperate for change, that they were willing to vote for anything – including Trump. That makes Trump’s complete betrayal all the more sad, although predictable. Imagine for a moment had Trump governed as a genuine populist rather than a Republican. That may very well have set the left back a generation had he delivered material economic benefits.

    I’ve been thinking about the future. Even if Bernie Sanders were in power today, it would be gridlock. He would have been sabotaged – not just by the GOP, but also by his own party. Remember this ( Under Sanders, Congress would never let him do anything and the corporate media would be going after him like crazy. The issue remains that control of the US Presidency is not enough. It would mean control of the entire apparatus that makes legislation – Congress and the majority of state Governors. Plus, it would mean that it cannot just be Democrats who will sell out to Wall Street and the rich, but genuine Leftists.

    Our issue is extractive elites. I want NCers who have the time to read this older article:

    It may be that engineers and scientists do a far better job of running nations. They build and research. What are we ruled by? MBAs, billionaires, and corporate executives who only care for their own wallets, who in turn bribe politicians who care only about their own riches.

    Essentially over the past few decades, all of our economic gains have been skimmed by the elite. That’s the root of the problem. Too much money flowing to the rich and none to the poor. China is far from perfect, but we surely have a worse extractive elite problem as Ron Unz notes than China. Unless there is a way to get power back to people who authentically care about the future of the US and a transfer from the extractive elites to the people, I fear that it may be doomed as a nation. In other words, nations survive or fail depending on if the elite govern in a manner that is beneficial to the people or if they steal all the wealth of the people for themselves.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I will also to this to the remark that our elites are more extractive than China’s – give them time.

        Human nature is universal.

        Furthermore, China has something we don’t have – thousands of years of Confucianism, which emphasizes knowing one’s place in a harmonious society (‘respect those above you…’)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And this Confucian gem – obey your husband, or boyfriend (especially if he can get you a visa or citizenship in the West).

    1. Kulantan

      I think that among the Clinton Liberals, the madness has reached the stage the Tea Party reached with its “Birther” conspiracies around Obama.

      That is it. Sorry to grab on to a small part of a long and worthy post but:

      Russiagate is the Democrats’ Birtherism.

      Its a demand for the removal of a democraticly elected leader on grounds that get ever more tenuous while the the demands get ever more strident. Its a rejection of the current president because they are an alien.
      Obama: Black and a damned hippy
      Trump: Redneck in a suit and something somthing Russsia

      1. Jim Haygood

        NYT headline this morning:

        How Unwitting Americans Were Deceived by Russian Trolls
        By SCOTT SHANE

        Russians control the vertical and horizontal. Found a couple of them hiding under the bed this morning … then more of them lurking in the shrubbery outside.

        As ZZ Top used to sing … “It’s BAD … and it’s nationwide.

        Better trolls please.

        1. DonCoyote

          Bob Dylan, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

          “Now we all agree with Hitlers’ views,
          Although he killed six million Jews.
          It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist,
          At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
          That’s to say like, if you got a cold, you take a shot of malaria.”

          Of course, Youtube posted on this video: “Comments locked because the listener sample thus far demonstrates an innate inability to recognize satire.”

          And alternate versions include:

          “Well I finally started thinking straight
          When I run out of things to investigate
          Couldn’t imagine nothing else
          So now I’m home, investigating myself.
          Hope I don’t find out too much.”

          And, for perspective, here’s Rachel Maddow mocking the John Birch Society in 2009.

          Or, as the Who said,

          The change it had to come
          We knew it all along
          We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
          And the world looks just the same
          And history ain’t changed
          ‘Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

          Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
          We don’t get fooled again.

          Unfortunately, it’s still the Foolers running up the score on the Fooled.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Wouldn’t it make a difference that the people were with him? MSM wouldn’t have the power it does if everybody migrated to the channels Bernie uses to communicate.

      1. a different chris

        And in any case, very possible that Bernie would “accomplish nothing”.. but he would also be given the biggest bully pulpit in the world. With that, all he would need is one midterm and the second presidental elections. And even if pt. 2 doesn’t happen, “doing nothing” is sure better than Trump, who the Democrats seem to reflexively accomodate while issuing mewling protests at every opportunity.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s possible by then, the MSM would have more or less completely discredited themselves, having made fools of themselves on another guy they don’t like.

        Trump likely will have softened them up.

    3. Craig H.

      I guess for Americans, Happy President’s Day!

      On my website this is called Happy figurehead-toady-of-the-bankers-and-spooks day. In China it’s happy New Year! It’s the year of the Dog. The dummy in the antidote probably thinks that every year is the year of the Dog.

    4. Quentin

      Please let’s not leave lawyers out of the power mix. The Clintons and Obamas (yes, Michele is also one) will feel horribly slighted. They went to so much trouble to couch their deceptions in pretty words like ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ which is evidently legally correct but morally hypocritical (also called lying). What is Mueller’s investigation other than an elaborate piece of theater to clothe a power play in all kinds of supposed legal shenanigans tarted out with legalese to impress the masses. The crime has yet to be revealed, maybe even discovered. We just need to get all acceptingly superstitious about the influence of Facebook on the voters and everything will turn out all right.

      1. Stormcrow

        The crime has yet to be revealed.

        Truth vs. Falsehood

        Condiitoning the population for war

        Kim Dotcom
        I knew Seth Rich. I know he was the @Wikileaks source. I was involved.

        Kim Dotcom:

        Let me assure you, the DNC hack wasn’t even a hack. It was an insider with a memory stick. I know this because I know who did it and why. Special Counsel Mueller is not interested in my evidence. My lawyers wrote to him twice. He never replied.

      2. taunger

        Lawyers are far more equivalent to “engineers and scientists” than the MBAs and billionnaires noted by OP. Contrary to popular belief, most of us toil at upper middle class (the old upper middle, maybe $80K?) per year, for clients worthy and not, in a system we have little ability to influence meaningfully, such that we, too, have to rely on who you know, rather than, you know, rule of law.

        Most of us would prefer otherwise, and many work hard at changing things. And don’t let law makers, with the occupation “lawyer”, influence your idea of the profession. They are the outliers of the outliers.

    5. DorothyT

      AltandMain: hats off to you for this comment. About the ‘extractive elites,’ I would point to Michael Milken and his “Den of Thieves” from Drexel Burnham Lambert who did a real job to draw a blueprint for what consists of the top 1%. I miss seeing Bill Black’s reminders of their influence on markets and government.

      My wish to critics who discuss ‘liberals’ who support/supported the Clintons and Obama is that they always use the appropriate term “neoliberal.” They are only ‘liberal’ in certain social issues and not always consistently so.

      And for the chorus of commenters who dismiss Mueller’s indictment, I suggest reading about the brave Lyudmila Savchuk who brought a lawsuit in Russia and exposed what she saw of the Russian disinformation strategy in so doing. One such article is from the Miami Herald.

    6. Edward E

      Yes, it’s Presidents Day, so permit yourself a break from thinking about Donald Trump and take a moment to remember all those four Presidential Whigs and eighteen other Republican nightmares that Made Affluent Great Again.

    7. sleepy

      Given the language in the indictments against the 13 Russians, I wonder how much the Russians-were-behind-Sanders’-candidacy will impact the 2020 election if Sanders chooses to run. Liberal dems have viciously slammed Jill Stein as a stooge, and now it seems they have a ready-made attack against Sanders.

      An aside, the Rooskie trolls retweeted @JoyAnnReid 267 times, more than Sanders or Stein.

      1. Aumua

        And Sanders is out there denouncing the Russian influence that was apparently supporting his own campaign… Looking kind of foolish there, Bernie! If anything, what will turn my vote away from him is his continuing to side with the establishment “left” on this idiocy.

    8. Andrew Watts

      It may be that engineers and scientists do a far better job of running nations. They build and research. What are we ruled by? MBAs, billionaires, and corporate executives who only care for their own wallets, who in turn bribe politicians who care only about their own riches.

      Not likely. Everybody would still be ruled by a group of technocrats whose values are deterministic. Think about how the focus on STEM has affected our educational process. It increasingly leaves less room or money for the imagination and/or the arts. This single-minded focus on STEM can all be in service to commercial interests and the profit motive too. So, no, there isn’t going to be a political system that eliminates unenlightened self-interest from the mass of humanity.

      We already live in a society that increasingly resembles Gattaca where there isn’t any room for dreamers and/or prophets. Instead of genetically engineering our society we have a system which emphasizes credentialism. In China, they take this to an extreme and have an educational system where children take an SAT-like test that determines what jobs they can have over their lifetime.

      A society built upon technocratic control and determinism is something which I don’t mind seeing fail and is probably the reason why it is failing in the first place. If the “experts” fail, then what?

      Answer: Trump

      1. Altandmain

        Yet in China, they went from a third world nation to one that in Eastern China is approaching Western standards of living in some regards in a generation.

        In other words, they followed the path first carved out by Japan, but later by South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan (if that’s a nation), and with comparable rates of economic growth.

        In terms of infrastructure, compare and contrast China to the US. Despite all the political infighting, lobbying, and everything else, as Unz noted, China has a high speed rail network. So does Japan – the Shinkansen. Back when it was made, the Tokyo-Osaka line was a marvel of technology. South Korea and Taiwan have their own lines too.

        The US doesn’t. The Acela, by the way, doesn’t really count and California’s project seems to be stuck in political infighting (it may or may not ever happen). I mean there are nations in the West that do. France, Germany, Italy, etc. Even smaller nations like the Netherlands have HSL-Zuid. The UK has been rolling out higher speed rail too. At the end of the day, the US doesn’t. That’s huge for example. Another example – note that these nations all have universal healthcare.

        I’m not saying that these nations are perfect. Far from it – neoliberalism has infected the EU and UK as well very deeply. They are going to have to have people who care about their people (like Jeremy Cobryn) fight to take back their nations from the rot that is neoliberalism.

        What truly matters is that these experts at times, used their knowledge to benefit the people rather than our experts in North America, who seem to only ever use their knowledge to transfer wealth from the people to the elite. That’s why they at times get projects that can benefit society as a whole. There could be a big series of projects like the New Deal if there was the desire for the rich to help the common citizen.

        I mean there are other signs – take of example America’s falling education:

        While I am sure that the top 10% are getting a decent education, the average American student is falling behind. That’s going to have big implications in the future. The US also seems to have allowed its bread and circuses to overtake all reason – an example is how in many schools, football is emphasized over academics. In the rest of the world they have soccer (they call it football btw, but don’t confuse it with American football), hockey, and their sports, but they don’t let it overtake the important issue of educating their kids. Another big issue is poverty – hard to get students to study well when their families are well, destitute. That’s an extractive elite problem right there.

        I’m sure that there are a gazillion other examples. The rest of the world though seems to feel that good infrastructure, good education, universal healthcare, etc, are vital for the health of the nation. The US elites are too greedy to care.

      2. will_f

        Think about how the focus on STEM has affected our educational process. It increasingly leaves less room or money for the imagination and/or the arts.

        The push to get students to go for STEM degrees was not brought about by scientists, but by the aforementioned MBAs, billionaires, corporate executives et al who wanted to use the educational system to put negative pressure on wages in STEM fields. Not saying that this means we should let engineers and scientists run things, just that the focus you mention was not entirely a business related effort. Those same corporate executives etc. are the ones squeezing arts funding out of public schools.

        1. will_f

          Apologies, that should read “the focus you mention was entirely a business related effort”. The impetus to have students focus on STEM did not originate with STEM workers, but with the business community.

    9. Jeremy Grimm

      “It may be that engineers and scientists do a far better job of running nations.” Your assertion echoes Veblen and the Technocracy Movement. President Herbert Hoover was an engineer. Although he can’t really be blamed for the Great Depression he was at a loss for how to deal with it. I believe Jimmy Carter also qualifies as something of an engineer.

      Finance and Financial types have taken over more than our government and this isn’t the first time it’s happened. The last time ended very unhappily and the present time appears heading toward an even more colossal crash further complicated by several other side problems not present for the first great crash. Finance is excellent at engineering the pillage and collapse of our economy and society but now using the failed Neoliberal framework — a new and improved free Market ideology — for guiding their wrecking balls and looting raids.

      As for the Chinese I don’t know enough to understand their situation. I doubt the grass is much greener on their side of the fence. Their leaders are definitely cut from a different cloth and seem more attuned to the national interests of China than our leaders are attuned to the best interests of the U.S. empire. I think our leaders are of a quality where seeing a horse appointed even elected to the Senate seems entirely possible. But in comparing the Chinese and U.S. leadership based on the outcomes in the growth of Chinese and U.S. economies it would be a mistake to ignore the effects of the massive flows of U.S. and other countries capital, know-how, and industrial bases into China while the capital is being squeezed out of the U.S. economy and consolidated with the remaining U.S. industry into fewer and fewer hands.

      I also recall from a decade or so earlier the observation that the Chinese leadership “rides a tiger”. The Chinese people have rebelled within living memory and if things grow too sour they might rebel again. I believe the U.S. leadership feels much more comfortable in their seats of power. Golden parachutes are wonderful for peace of mind — much better than an ice ax in the head or the tender mercies of an angry mob.

      1. Sid Finster

        In the USSR, engineering was the standard issue university degree, sort of like “business” is in some American universities.

        Most Soviet economic managers were trained as engineers.

        1. Harold

          I think (at least in the USA) you don’t need a graduate education to be an engineer. Not sure about elsewhere. And in the USA they basically put off liberal education until college — is my impression.

    10. drumlin woodchuckles

      Control of the Presidency is better than control of nothing at all.

      A President Sanders could perhaps figure out how to make his political opponents and obstructors back themselves into corners of looking bad and smelling bad.

      He could also nominate various appointees and refuse to nominate any others if his get rejected. He could keep sending the very same names over to Congress again and again and again. He could also appoint “interim” appointees in the meantime.


  3. allan

    Deep thought: perhaps, like Audi with car VINs, the fiendishly clever Czechoslovakian spy service
    used the same codeword for all of its British agents.
    So, while Operative Corbyn (COB) has been exposed, Operatives May (also COB) and Johnson (also also COB)
    are free to continue simultaneously paving the way for both the dictatorship of the proletariat
    and Brexit the elimination of the UK threat to the Warsaw Pact.

  4. Merd

    RE: America’s Unique Gun Violence Problem.

    No surprise, they pass on America’s Car Violence Problem.
    I know its my own pet issue since I’m long-term car-free and becoming more and more anti-car all the time; and I’m not against most of the gun control measures I see proposed. But how do they show a chart demonstrating that guns are more dangerous to us than AIDS, illegal drug OD’s, wars, and terrorism combined, and then fail to mention automobile deaths at all? According to the CDC website 2014 data:
    Motor vehicle traffic deaths
    Number of deaths: 33,736
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.6
    All firearm deaths
    Number of deaths: 33,594
    Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.5

    And of course those numbers don’t reflect deaths from pollution from autos, or heart disease due to people managing to avoid walking further than from the front door to the car door.

    I’ve asked many people who are currently worked up about gun control about this, the general response seems to come down to an emotional response to gun violence that is somehow absent for auto deaths. The other reason is the relative utility of automobiles vs guns. Both of these reasons fail to convince me that anyone struggling for restrictions on guns due to the deaths they cause shouldn’t also be working to restrict automobiles due to the deaths they cause. Anybody here have other reasons for the dissonance? Or can I get an “amen”?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think its pretty simple – so many people drive, they refuse to acknowledge how damaging and destructive their vehicles are. You can see this all over the world in the way traffic laws are written and enforced – when someone in a car kills a pedestrian or cyclist, its invariably described as an ‘accident’, and not ‘assault’, unless the evidence is overwhelming that the driver was negligent or reckless in the extreme. In very few countries (if any) are prison sentences regularly given for drivers who kill or maim, unless there is absolutely overwhelming evidence of ill-intent. Once the ownership of a object capable of kiling, be it a gun or car, becomes a ‘right’, this seems to automatically shift the burden of proof to the victim, not the perpetrator of violence.

      1. cnchal

        . . . when someone in a car kills a pedestrian or cyclist, its invariably described as an ‘accident’, and not ‘assault’ . . .

        It seems you are making an unwarranted assumption, that every collision between a motorist and pedestrian or cyclist is always the motorist’s fault, and that the motorist intended to assault the pedestrian or cyclist.

        . . . Once the ownership of a object capable of kiling, be it a gun or car, becomes a ‘right’, this seems to automatically shift the burden of proof to the victim, not the perpetrator of violence.

        Any object is capable of killing. The difference between those objects and a gun is that the purpose of a gun is to kill.

        1. Geof

          Not every collision with a pedestrian is because of the car. But 100% of the injury or death that results is.

          Causing an collision as a pedestrian and causing a collision as a driver are nowhere near equivalent. The pedestrian suffers nearly all of the consequences – consequences that happened because the person in the car chose to drive, knowingly placing at risk the lives of others. The pedestrian is virtually incapable of risking anyone else’s life.

          With power to do harm comes responsibility. The person in the car has the lion’s share of the power, so they bear much of the responsibility – even if they did not cause the accident, they caused the injury.

          In a world of pedestrians, there would be no life-threatening collisions. Ever. Those are caused entirely by people driving cars.

          1. cnchal

            I agree with you, that motorist have the lion’s share of responsibility, except for this.

            In a world of pedestrians, there would be no life-threatening collisions. Ever.

            There are collisions between pedestrians, and some of those collisions cause injury and death. In fact pedestrians in their own homes trip on stairs resulting in injury or death, without even a collision.

            As a pedestrian, it is an act of self preservation to be alert and consider yourself part of the flow of traffic.

      2. witters

        A few years ago I was in Singapore. In The Strait Times there was an article: it told of a truck driver sentenced to 6 months gaol. He had clipped a bike ridden flat across a pedestrian crossing. No injuries, except to the bike. The judge’s decision accepted that the truck driver was not at fault, and that there had been no way of missing the bike, driven as it was, recklessly and unsafely. BUT as the point of pedestrian crossings was that those crossing be safe – and so not hit by a vehicle – a legal statement to that effect had to be made in this, indeed in any, case where there was a collision. I always wondered, Was this Confucianism?

    2. Pavel

      Not to mention the ever-increasing “distracted driving” risks: people talking, texting, and even doing video blogging whilst driving. (Check out Youtubes of e.g. Uber drivers and Tesla fans recording videos as they drive down highways or downtown.) The laws are routinely flouted by drivers. I believe studies show that talking on cellphones and driving may be about as hazardous as driving drunk.

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      I’m with you. Unfortunately Americans have very little ability to do reasoned thinking and understand risk. All the chatter is about outsized risk, ISIS? Huh.

      I try to make people think about it by asking them if they know someone who has died in a car accident or by gun suicide. People get it when you constantly tell them. I’m constantly telling the young ones the most dangerous thing you do is get in that car every day. They now parrot it back to me, so I feel I’m getting somewhere.

      But, they don’t get that message over and over and over from the media. Risk is very poorly understood because we have sensational seeking media and little civil reasoned discussion. No time for THAT. Except on nakedcapitalism, which is why this is my home. Thanks everyone.

      1. cnchal

        . . . I’m constantly telling the young ones the most dangerous thing you do is get in that car every day. . .

        That’s crazy talk. Billions do it every day, multiple times. A few don’t make it home. On any particular day, the most dangerous thing one can do, is get admitted to the hospital, where over 100,000 die annually in the US due to medical mistakes.

        I’m glad my parents let me run a bit wild as a kid instead of scaring the crap out of me. Learned about risk naturally, by getting hurt a little when I did something stupid.

      2. The Rev Kev

        When I was growing up, the TV news would have that year’s death toll from car accidents each night. The carnage sounded terrible as did the scenes. Later, I decided to look up the mortality tables just to see how many were killed in car accidents and the like. It was eye-opening.
        Going by memory from about 40 years ago, about 95% of people died by natural causes! The other 5% was comprised of car accidents, suicides, murders, etc. Turned out 67% of deaths at the time were due to the big three – heart attack, stroke and cancer. It certainly changed my mind about the nature of risk.
        Thus with cars, I agreed when seat belts were made compulsory about fifty years ago here. When my wife and daughter go horse-riding, they have to wear helmets up to standards. You never assume a gun is empty until you see an empty chamber. You measure risk by what is most likely to happen as well as the worst effect that can result from it.
        Just is passing, I was in the UK when they were bring in compulsory seat belt laws in about ’83 and it was funny hearing all the old arguments trotted out why it was a bad idea that I had heard back in the 60s such as what if the car went into a river or what if it caught fire. It was déjà vu all over again.
        The answer to both is that you stand a far higher chance of living if you are actually conscious and able to take action rather than having your head slammed against the wheel or windscreen and incapacitated. In Australia alone, there must be tens of thousands that are still alive by now because of mandatory set belt laws and thousands more in the UK.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      I’m afraid you have your work cut out for you.

      From this weekend, when Emma Gonzalez, a student at Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, fired up the crowd:

      “:…..They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS…..”

      “Gonzalez is one of many teens and parents demanding gun control reform following the shooting.”

    5. Skip Intro

      Facile false equivalence. Cars are designed for transportation, guns are designed to kill. Handguns and assault rifles are designed to kill humans. You hear NRA types with this talking point as regularly as you read about another mass shooting. So I suppose you support licensing guns, and requiring insurance?

      1. festoonic

        Aren’t both designed for maximizing profit? If the goal were simply transporting citizens from points A to B, wouldn’t mass transit be the far more efficient, less dangerous, less costly, and less aggression- and anxiety-producing alternative? What forces were behind the dismantling of the public transit systems that the US relied on for half a century or more and why?

        1. JBird

          Our country has an Industry of Fear.

          We all must, just must fear the latest Bad Thing, or the Chosen Evil Doers of the the moment. It makes whatever your views are on anything impossible to explain, or be acceptable. Or based on reality. It’s all Loook the Gunz! are out to Killl Us, or the Terrorists, the Latest Bad S***!!

          Yet I can go to any major city in California and see the homeless just wasting away on the street or struggle to find a place to park their home, and many do have jobs. The homeless population in San Francisco can be ball-parked as between 5,000 to 12,000 people. The city’s permanent population is between 850 and 900,000. So around 1% of the population in one of the wealthier cities on the planet is homeless. Or the vile, evil thing that is the medical system here. What is the point of arguing about the terrorists, or the guns, or even cars (although those d***** texters both drivers and pedestrians…grrr.), when people are just dying away in some tent somewhere. It’s just shut and take out your shoes, and let’s demonstrate, demonstrate against guns because somebody could get hurt.

          I know I am belaboring the point, but it is important. Car and gun deaths are roughly equal. Two thirds of those gun deaths are suicides, and do you doubt that most (mass) shootings are the same? So thirty thousand people die of gun use, 2/3rds are suicides, the official number of all suicides is over forty-two thousand. Yearly. This does not include those who die because of effectively no medical care, or of living poorly. The best numbers I can find is forty-eight thousand a year. Just combining suicides and no/poor medical care and the number is ninety thousand. Each. Year. It does not cover all the other deaths, or destroyed or shorten lives.

          For some reason I have to take off my shoes at the airport, which like some schools, and many courthouses, even though the country has less violence now then thirty, or even twenty, years ago. Then there would be one single metal detector, with one unarmed guard at an airport. It would take me 10 minutes from taxi to plane. That was it. I don’t remember any courthouse that had a metal detector, or another than some sheriffs deputies hanging around looking very bored. And the homeless population was almost nothing, and you to be really unfortunate to be so. Today, I have problem driving a four or five minutes to the nearest homeless village from nearest fortified courthouse

          So entire countries are destroyed, ostensibly to destroy evildoers, which creates wannabe terrorists faster than can be killed. Blowing up weddings, apartments, and stores in “surgical’ strikes does cause problems. We fortify our offices, schools, courthouses, airports, and whatever else we can think of. ICE throws out immigrants (usually refugees from our violence of their countries) while ignoring the big businesses who illegally hire and mistreat them. Ignore the homeless, the sick, the destitute, the deplorables to focus on the bad people, and the bad things, out to hurt us.

          I ask just who are the bad people out to hurt us? And every time some article, poster, or writer says we have the most gun deaths of any industrialized, developed, first world country, I ask myself are we really that? Well, are we anymore?

      2. Jef

        Yes they are designed to kill…how about that?

        Assault weapons are only bad when they kill our special American White children?

        None of these people up in arms (bad pun intended) about school shootings say a thing about the hundreds of innocent dark skinned civilians killed around the world every day by our brave service men. Or the schools and hospitals we have blown up.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think we need to focus on guns, along with other factors that contribute to the tragedies.

          Talking about guns alone, and nothing about these others (like the police failing to intervene earlier), would be to divert and not really addressing the issue comprehensively.

          And as a matter of strategizing, if we are stuck on one, we should try to work on other relevant fronts.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They are similar to the system we have in each of us.

        Red blood cells – transport (passengers = oxygen)

        White blood cells – to kill (sometimes malfunction, and tragedies occur)

        Each one need both types (to function properly) so the whole body can function properly..

        1. JTMcPhee

          I got my guns, and ammo, but I have a hard time seeing how those weapons in my possession, or in the hands of most of the rest of us, are in any way “necessary so the whole body can function properly.” A discussion of the complex system: Note that while so many descriptions of the human (and related animal and plant) immune responses draws on metaphors about “being at war,” our immune system except in the rare instances when it is committing suicide by going off the rails, is purely DEFENSIVE. And those guns we ‘Muricans keep at home, statistically, are more likely to be used by us to kill family and self, or to be taken and used by family or invaders to kill us andour loved ones or some other poor mope down the street.

          Guns, as I see them, are pretty much totally unlike the various “white blood cells” that form the human DEFENSIVE immune response phalanxes and tissue repair systems, that are such a large part of keeping us alive (except when they malfunction, e.g. leukemia, as noted.) Guns for cops who shoot first, cover up later? How about the Mine Resistant Armored Personnel vehicles, five or six of which are now part of the arsenal of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, along with the hordes of SWAT personnel and vehicles that so often “go to the wrong address” or engage in “inordinate violence” against unresisting “citizens?”

          Not just a local problem in Pinellas. Interesting that for so many decades, actually a couple of centuries now, until recently the local beat cops (a phrase that used to have a very different meaning from what’s the norm now, “GET ON THE GROUND! GET ON THE GROUND! STOP RESISTING!! I’M GONNA KILL THAT F___ER!!)

          I’d say there’s some false equivalence in the air…

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            A lot of people watch the film, The Russians Are Coming!!!

            They think themselves our white blood cells.

            And if the call is for banning guns for individuals and the state (domestically at the minimum) including the police, it would advance the cause better.

          2. Aumua

            This brings me to a view I’ve long held: we should absolutely have gun control, especially for assault rifles and other high powered weaponry, and we should take them from the POLICE and/or DEA and other FEDS as equally as we take them from citizenry.

            That would go a long way toward assuaging the fears of NRA types, now wouldn’t it. If you want gun control, then it should be gun control for everyone.

          3. polecat

            So JTMcPhee, what’s Your proposal to stopping Some gun violence perpetrated by the craycray towards the wayward pleb, when it’s the elite gazillionaires, their politician puppets, and the collective pretoria that are the bigger threat !! … I mean, it’s not as if voting has any positive effect anymore, am I right ? And when you combine public divisiveness and constant virtue signaling wholly encouraged by the top echelon of control, I don’t see how this all doesn’t end in wide-spread dispare, blood ,and violence imposed on the citizenry, who don’t deserve such !
            If things get hinky, how is one supposed to protect themselves and those close to them ? … Are they to just give up ??
            I ask in all seriousness, because the very same government entities some of the public insist to reign in episodic violence, or keep a leash on one ‘dispised’ group or another, are themselves violent, controlfreak-grifting socio/psychopaths !
            I fear them the most.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Not to worry, polecat. I think we as a species have a death wish, and Gaia is going to assist us in our mass suicide. All we have to do is wait; the Norse had a name for it, Ragnarok. You can read about it in Wiki, here:ök

              We all are guilty of original sin and bear the mark of Cain. We “citizens,” if you take a wide look at our behaviors, sure deserve what sure seems to be coming. Consume, consume, trade and consume b

              As they say in France, and as preppers and survivalists believe, it’s all just “Sauve qui peut,” which,in the dictionary of Armageddon, comes right after “Apres nous le deluge.”

              There are no innocents among us. And no number of guns will ensure your survival, or that of your loved ones, or mine. Meantime, the rich powerful sociopsychopaths are gonna keep whooping it up, until the darkness closes over them too.

              Like the song says, “That’s just the way it is…”

              1. cnchal

                . . . Meantime, the rich powerful sociopsychopaths are gonna keep whooping it up, until the darkness closes over them too.

                For some, the darkness has already enveloped them. Recently there were two articles I read, one about Peter Thiel and another about a Silly-Con Valley out fit with a young “future teller” running Y Combinator, which is about funding the future tech lords. Apparently, Peter and “future teller” have an agreement whereby if the world goes to shit, they jump on Peter’s jet and jet of to Kiwiland and live happily ever after, in what can be considered a version of Galt’s Gulch.

                They make a perfect pair.

                What was Y Combinator working on you might ask? In the article, it was about two shopping delivery services, a software company doing “containers” and a competitor to PayPal. All of it not innovative, and the gist of what the coder bros effort is about, is to become electronic rentiers.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Seems to me that something close t every human has the basic, and base, impulses to become a rentier— at whatever scale they can attain.

                  “I seen my opportunities, and I took ‘em.”

      4. Merd

        Well, I’m not sure whose argument you’re calling facile. I was specifically calling out the chart in the video linked which shows gun deaths as greater than several other “scary” causes combined, without mentioning a cause of death even greater than gun deaths. I have encountered others who feel like the “designed to kill” part, or the fact that using a gun to kill is usually intentional, is the most important component. The video on the other hand asks why we are so outraged at the “mass shootings,” and answers that it is “because the killing seems indiscriminate”. I feel like the deaths from automobiles is equally indiscriminate (or more so), but it does not elicit the same emotional reaction, nor is it even mentioned in the video. And honestly, I think that most people who are currently vocal about gun control would not turn their attention to automobile alternatives should we get the dream gun control package passed (whatever that may be). I really think there are some set of factors that make people okay with the violence of autos, some of which were elucidated in this thread, perhaps there are more.

        1. JBird

          Some of the hysteria is pushed by organizations, political parties, individual who are trying to do something other than solving whatever problems they are pimping; the artificial debate on man made climate change or the non-solutions to gun violence for example are money driven especially the former. The latter has many honest crusaders, but the movement has been co-opted by the Democratic Party as a base energizer, money raising, vote getter. The same can be said by the Tea Party and Black Lives Matter or the religious social conservatives.

          Regardless of an issue’s merits, and a movement’s goals, the economic, political, and even social elites take control and use the people’s enflamed passions to feed our emotions that feed our volunteering, votes, and donations, which are then harvested to win elections rather than solve problems; the creation of mutually antagonistic social groups one of which will support you and will prevent the groups to combine to fight you is just extra goodness.

          Co-opt, enrage, demonize, divide, lie, use, betray, and then ignore or discard. Both political parties and the many associated organizations and wealthy people have been doing this evermore frequently for decades as the political economy of America has shifted from governing, or from manufacturing, or creating something to running grifts. Rather than doing something productive and making money as a happy result the practice is to steal using the pretense of doing something productive. This is shone in the lack of productive legislation, the ineffectiveness of NGOs like the American Red Cross, or the insane looting of all sectors of the economy by businesses (and a reason for the rising dysfunction of education)

  5. The Rev Kev

    That’s hilarious those cat’s paw prints on that manuscript. That medieval cat image does not surprise me either. I heard that medieval monks had to copy book after book and the monotony would get to them. They would slip in messages into some of the books they were copying like ‘I’m bored’ or ‘It’s cold and dark and I want to go back to my cell’.
    I read that story called ‘They are laughing their asses off in Moscow’ and there was one text message that made me wonder if Trump was was perhaps trolling America. At the end of one text he wrote: “Get smart America!”
    Now you can read that to mean that America should smarten up its act and get it together. If he was trolling everybody though, he might be implying that Americans live in a version of Don Adam’s “Get Smart”. By the sounds of the following clip KAOS agents had better health care plans back in the 60s than Americans in 2018-

    Great selection of stories in tonight’s Links by the way. Lots of excellent reading.

  6. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

    George Soros being concerned about the democracy? Laughable. It seems as if the current oligarchs have no shame at all and really believe that we are that stupid.

  7. UserFriendly

    Turns out #FakeNews is Fake News.

    Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters

    Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election relied heavily on stories produced by major American news sources to shape the online political debate, according to an analysis published Thursday.

    The analysis by Columbia University social-media researcher Jonathan Albright of more than 36,000 tweets sent by Russian accounts showed that obscure or foreign news sources played a comparatively minor role, suggesting that the discussion of “fake news” during the campaign has been somewhat miscast.

    Albright’s research, which he said is the most extensive to date on the news links that Russians used to manipulate the American political conversation on Twitter, bolsters observations by other analysts. Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent who is now a disinformation expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, said that by linking to popular news sources, the Russians enhanced the credibility of their Twitter accounts, making it easier to manipulate audiences.

    “The Kremlin, they don’t need to create a false narrative. It’s already there,” he said. “You’re just taking a narrative and elevating it.”

    Some well-chronicled hoaxes reached large audiences. But Russian-controlled Twitter accounts, Albright said, were far more likely to share stories produced by widely read sources of American news and political commentary. The stories themselves were generally factually accurate, but the Russian accounts carefully curated the overall flow to highlight themes and developments that bolstered Republican Donald Trump and undermined his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

    1. Ted

      Oh good, tenure once again proves itself as a useful safeguard against the constant threat that otherwise idiotic analyses would never be conducted. At a rate of 350,000 tweets every minute, those 36,000 tweets in total (presumably all by Rooskie troll farms … cause the good professor *knows*) sure could do a lot of swayin’ of popular opinion. That the good professor never considered the counter argument that these used US news stories to generate clicks that in turn generate advertisement revenue for a click farm never seems to have crossed his mind. As an academic, it gets kinda of embarassing when the academy becomes just another version of what we once thought was a republican controlled clown car.

    2. a different chris

      And Hillary failed to use her billion dollars to “highlight themes and developments that bolstered Democrat Hillary Clinton and undermined her Republican rival Donald Trump.”??

      Well, I guess she did. And that is a good reason why she isn’t and should never be President.

    3. integer

      Clinton Watts:

      The first part of this investigation introduced the ASD’s most prominent figure, Clint Watts, the self-styled national security expert whose high-profile—and factually deficient—Senate testimony introduced America to the supposed menace of Russian bots. Watts flaunts a bio that makes it appear as though his opinions on Russian “active measures” are backed by academic credentials. However, he has no record of scholarship on Russia, does not appear to speak Russian and has no professional experience inside Russia. He has, however, confessed to wasting “billions” of taxpayer dollars on a failed “influence operation” allegedly waged by the U.S. military in the Middle East. As a fellow at the right-wing Foreign Policy Research Institute, Watts has urged American intelligence agencies to encourage jihadists to carry out terrorist attacks against Russia and Iran.

    4. VietnamVet

      The Mogul/Deep State Information Operation is running into the same problems as did the Soviets. The opponent need only point out the truth; preferably from reasonable sources. Plutocrats are getting richer at the expense of everyone else. Americans are dying at an earlier age. The propaganda doesn’t work. The problem with Russiagate (besides being fiction) is that there are no good outcomes; either a world war with Russia, resignation of Donald Trump and chaos at home, or muddle through in the hope that a peace candidate who supports Détente is elected President in 2020.

  8. Massinissa

    I don’t suppose someone could explain the latest Corbyn controversy to me? I don’t really understand what it’s about.

      1. vlade

        There’s no “supposed”. He had contacts – that is well documented in the archives that survived the STB’s (STB= Statni Bezpecnost, old Czechoslovak Security Service) destruction of documents in 1989.

        What was raised was that he met the agent(s) knowing they were agents, and provided them with information in exchange for money.

        This seems to be a lie, even according again to the historical documents kept by the Czech Archive of Security Services (not publicly accessible), which describe three meetings, none of which were “conspirational”. The agent who came up with this would have JC in his file, if he managed to recruit him, which is not the case. I.e. there is no corrobative evidence in the archives, where one would expect one (and JC was definitely not so “deep” agent that it would be worth hiding it).

        For a record, the Slovak constitutional court ruled last year STB agents as “untrustworthy witness”, i.e. that no court should take their word in any cases regarding the old STB.

        In other words, yes, Corbyn met with Soviet Block spies, and no, there’s no evidence he was an agent himself.

        Where Corbyn is digging himself in is that he denied the meetings except one – when there’s a good evidence of the other two meetings.

    1. DJG

      Massinissa: Yep, I am wondering, too. The question isn’t, Who cares? The question is, Why now?

      D’Ancona is determined to make the case that Corbyn was either passing along information wittingly or engaged unwittingly in jollying along some Czechoslovak spies because Corbyn is in favor of peace and détente. (And we all know that the word of the day is “unwittingly.” I know that when Volodya showed up at my doorstep with the two jars of pickles, I capitulated and did everything in my power to sabotage the U.S. elections of 2016.)

      Yet D’Ancona isn’t willing to admit that Corbyn isn’t particularly saintly, that he is a wily politician who has made clear where he stands on certain issues, and that he has a knack for organizing. I am old enough to recall that Czechoslovakia was a fairly docile member of the Warsaw Pact, and CZ was a hotbed of spying because of its strategic position and its tradition of being more West-facing than, say, Poland or Hungary. Corbyn knows his geohistory. He would have been highly suspicious of any CZ officials bearing gifts.

      The current journalistic culture of the Guardian is Hillary-Clinton-semi-“liberalism.” Somehow, Corbyn is a naif, but Clinton’s deleterious Middle Eastern policies (Libya, Syria, lack of criticism of Israel) are genius.

      We live in a time when people want to turn on the spigot of McCarthyism, but that flow of pollution cannot be turned off once you open the spigot.

      So I am suspicious, much as I have been suspicious of the weirdness in the FBI indictments about Bernie Sanders and his campaign and Comrade Jill Steinskaya, Russian stooge and no-good-nik.

      But I don’t follow U.K. politics with enough attention to understand: Maybe there is something to these charges. I will defer to experts like Colonel Smithers, Clive, PlutoniumKun, and windsock.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, DJG.

        I am not an expert, so will defer to Clive, PK and Windsock.

        I have little to add to your reply apart from that Corbyn has the establishment rattled, so every week, there is a new smear or reheating of an old one. It’s getting grim in Blighty, so the powers that be need to hammer away. When I say Corbyn, I think it’s more his ideas.

        It’s working as the Tories and Labour are neck and neck in the polls, averaging about 40% each. Labour is unable to build or hold a lead that is clear of the margin of error.

        There are local elections in early May, so watch out for more hysterics.

        D’Ancona is a particular odious bootlicker, though not the most oleaginous or nasty. That title could go to Glenda Jackson’s son, but competition is stiff. Clive, PK, Windsock et al may their favourites.

      2. Eustache De Saint Pierre


        The fact that D’Ancona writes regular columns for the Guardian says I believe very much about the true political stance of that publication.

        The Colonel is of course correct & there will be much more in the way of desperate raking through long burnt ashes. I imagine that they would dearly love to get a look at his book & music collection & perhaps they could scrape a little bit of mileage out of Marx, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Shostakovich & God forbid, the Red Army Choir.

      3. gamesjon

        I’m surprised this hasn’t caught on a bit more with people over there yet, I commented about it on a video about this issue just yesterday. Here are 2 articles relevant to this issue, the first one is the original Czech article & the second is a Politico (EU) article covering the first one, but in English as the Czech translated through Google Translate comes across with pretty broken English.

        CTK apparently interviewed Svetlana Ptáčníková, who heads the Czech Security Forces Archive (which is where the Czechoslovak StB documents are held,) who said that Corbyn believed this contact was a diplomat. He was not registered by the StB as a collaborator. Ptáčníková said they “found signs that the StB tried to prevent Corbyn from discovering the real identity of the Czechoslovak official he was meeting.”

        The cover name in the files was Jan Dymic & they believe that Dymic was really Ján Sarkocy, the third secretary of the Czechoslovak foreign miniustry, in charge of “peace movement.” Ptáčníková said Sarkocy was “probably meeting Corbyn in his capacity as a diplomat.” They also mentioned Sarkocy was expelled from Britain in 1989.

        1. SoldierSvejk

          This is interesting – apparently, not just Corbyn, but also Babiš (Czech PM) was alleged to have cooperated with spies. So two birds with one stone (for context, one has to understand that Babiš faces opposition because he is seen as not sufficiently pro-western – IOW, too pro-Kremlin – just search the name and you’ll get lots of “trump-like populist” descriptions of the PM). The Czech article says that the allegations of spy contacts came from one person (Ján Sarkocy), with Svetlana Ptáčníková asserting that they contradict the written (and preserved) record. These show that not only did Corbyn not know, but STB went out of the way to act so that he would not suspect he was meeting with spies.
          Last year (or whenever), Corbyn was an anti-semite (did not stick), now he is a spy… what’s next?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Sexual predator? That seems to stick pretty good to a lot of people, deserved or not, because it’s the memetrope of the moment.

          2. vlade

            Apples and oranges.

            Corbyn has three meetings in STB files, none of which support the accusations by a former STB agent. Nothingburger – probably a lot of former peace movement people hive an entry or five along the same lines.

            Babis is, contrary to that, in plenty of various in STB files, most of which point to willing cooperation. Babis sued to have his name removed, and originally won, on testimony of his former “agent controller” who said they invited it all.

            Ultimately though his case was rejected as this key witness was juged unreliable, and experts judged that it would impossible to run an “invented” agent for such a long time across so many different areas.

            Babis is also a very nice case of an oligarch (he’s the second richest man in CZ), who “likes” EU, and his main asset just happens to make millions in EU subsidies (CZ is one of the few EU countries which refused to stop agri subsidies to large companies – and his company is one of the largest beneficiaries of this, if not the largest). In fact, he’s under criminal investigations for defrauding EU money, and he is on record lying about it in parliamentary questions.

            1. SoldierSvejk

              It may be apples and oranges, but the headline of the Czech article conflates the two (Babiš i Corbyn odmítají tvrzení, že vědomě spolupracovali s StB – B & C Reject Assertions that They Knowingly Co-operated with StB). Somebody has a diverse agenda…. (other than that, the description of B. is likely accurate, although he’s probably no worse than any other oligarch).

              1. vlade

                Yep, it does – and putting Corbyn in the same bag as Babis does him no favour, given the vastly different circumstances.

  9. Rates

    Inequality is worse at a number of places. Just visit Indonesia. If the Gini score says otherwise then someone needs his/her head examined. And yet, they have no school shooting or killing.

    Americans love guns more than children.

  10. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    Wonderful stuff – ” Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated on this book “, unlike the Graun’s Corbyn article written by D’Ancona whose CV includes, the Torygraph, the Spectator & being the chairman of a Conservative think tank. Just another blue stain on paper, but unlike the cat’s, probably a sign of fear..

    1. DJG

      Aha! Thanks, M. De Saint Pierre: I just commented above about the Guardian article, and you are helping to put the Corbyn Czechotempest into focus.

    2. Wukchumni

      “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed.”~ Francisco d’Anconia

  11. a different chris

    >The family kept their own rifles, bought after a burglary a couple of years ago, in a separate locked cabinet.

    ????? Jim Jeffries best explained the pure stupidity of that. And he didn’t even mention the part where people are unlikely break into your house to steal your Juiceroo, but once they find out you have guns man they are all about it.

    Also the way they washed their hands of this messed-up kid, and he’s still and will probably forever be a kid, is disgusting. And that’s from somebody who could be convinced of the death penalty in this case. But he lived in your house, he seemed to try to look to you for guidance… he’s f’d up beyond belief but they are cowards, too.

    1. georgieboy

      Ever foster a troubled teenager, or raise one of your own? Your moral certainty may diminish, if you ever do.

      Think of Jack Nicholson in Cuckoos Nest — at least he tried.

      1. a different chris

        My morals may diminish, but that’s not the same thing, is it? Again, I’m not asking them to save him, just not to get on the front line and make a spectacle of being the most obvious stone-thrower.

        I have a close family member that fostered a kid that behaves and even looks like him. As an adult, he has since moved back with his father who I guess has managed to stay out of jail. I’d be less surprised to read abouth him doing a similar thing than the Weather Channel getting tomorrow correct.
        In any case, the family is relieved he is gone. But they would again, not behave like these people. And they had a decade plus long struggle.

    2. Arthur Dent

      They are all living in a culture where Nikolas Cruz could not legally buy a beer but there were no limits on the number of guns and ammunition he could legally buy and own.

      Why would the family who let him live with them for a few months think it odd he would have some of his own guns if they have a bunch of their own?

      1. audrey jr

        My educated guess is that these folks who “fostered” this young man are concerned about personal liability in this case. That is probably the reason that they are distancing themselves from this situation.

        Same thing with the Weiner’s in the “Hillaryemailgate” saga. Based on what I learned while studying law I presume that “marital privilege” is the #1 reason that the Weiner’s are no longer divorcing since more and more classified emails have recently been found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

  12. allan

    Anti-antidote: Animals Are Losing Their Vagility, or Ability to Roam Freely [NYT]

    … Room to move is critical for a wide range of species, but it has long been difficult for researchers to capture where and when they travel.

    But a new and growing field called “movement ecology” is casting light on the secretive movements of wildlife and how those habits are changing.

    A global study of 57 species of mammals, published in the journal Science, has found that wildlife move far less in landscapes that have been altered by humans, a finding that could have implications for a range of issues, from how well natural systems function to finding ways to protect migratory species. …

  13. Wukchumni

    A wind-driven wildfire exploded to about 900 acres in Inyo County on Sunday night, triggering evacuations and threatening a historic railroad station built in the 1880s, authorities said.

    As many as 200 people, including residents of the Laws and Meadow Creek communities and campers at the Pleasant Valley Campground, were ordered to evacuate, said Capt. Liz Brown, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    Hello new normal, how long will you be staying with us?

  14. The Rev Kev

    Russia’s Clash With the West Is About Geography, Not Ideology

    There is a lot of sense in this article. Russia has been invaded in its history by several powers such as the Poles, Swedes, French, Germans, the UK & US, etc. and geographically there are few natural barriers in the east to protect them as there are huge tracts of flat lands that are militarily indefensible – though that could work both ways. In WW2 you would have units of Wehrmacht soldiers trying to navigate their way across here with officers puzzling over maps showing nothing but flat lands and seeing nothing from horizon to horizon but wheat fields. America must have parts like this.
    Something else. People remember the militaristic character of the Prussians but a major factor that determined this was the fact that Prussia was also mostly flat. With no natural barriers, only a people devoted to the military arts could hope to maintain themselves there on the rich farmlands that Prussia offered. Living in a region of flatlands thus has an effect on your culture.
    It probably does not give the Russians confidence in the west when they have western officials complain that Russia is far too big as a country and should be broken up. Between the west organizing a putsch in the Ukraine by neo-Nazis and Japan making noises about wanting the Kuriles back again, Russia must feel under the gun somewhat. As the article pointed out, it would be smarter to recognize that Russia has areas of interest to it and to respect them. Sometimes though I think that the Russians feel like the following-

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Kev, for mentioning the break-up of Russia.

      In 2011, a colleague asked me to meet her boyfriend for a drink. Said boyfriend was about to complete his masters and was interested in working in the City.

      I met the guy. He was about to complete a doctorate at LSE and “wanted to have some experience and make money” before trying to become a Tory MP. There are, or were, a lot of these common or garden variety opportunists in the City, so that wasn’t a problem. He explained that he was a member of the Henry Jackson Society and their aims were to break up Russia into weak and ethnically based states, force European Russia into the EU, get the UK to leave the EU and get the UK to form a deeper alliance with the US and may be Canada. He made it sound very easy as if Russia would not resist much. After that, I did not bother asking how he expected the UK to deepen the alliance with the US, e.g. what do we do with HM?

      The wacko jackos get a lot of airtime on the BBC. No one questions their credentials, donors or the impact of their ideas. LSE’s School of International Relations, which supplies many, is a joke now.

      We met at a wine bar. I ended up drinking more of the bottle of white wine than this dude. The same thing happened the evening after as he met another colleague.

      I have not heard from the opportunist, but his girlfriend now works at the ECB and goes out with a German aristo.

      1. olga

        All one has to do is read Z. Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard. I forced my self to wade through it, after the coup d’etat in Ukraine. Sure enough, by the end of the book, he’s got Russia divided into three parts for “better management.” And the book was published sometime in 1996-97. My personal theory is that the Brits have always been envious of Russia’s resources and mad that they could never quite conquer it. (Not that the French and Germans have a better track record.) There was a lot of very ugly Russo phobia in the UK before and during the Crimean War (1853-56).
        Peter Turchin’s War and Peace and War starts out with a case study of how “defense” was an integral part of the mix once the Russian civilization began to solidify (ironically, in response to attacks by Crimean Tatars).
        Sadly, we just seem to be going in circles…

        1. Harold

          Halford Mckinder’s Pivot (or Heartland theory), 1906: The invention of the railroad would weaken the sea-power-based British world empire and bring the yellow Asiatic hordes swarming into Europe. Note: it was basically racist and the scientific equivalent of phlogiston.

          Mckinder lived a long time and by WW2 was recommending an Anglo empire based on airbases rather than shipping ports. The USA paid close attention.

          That is what I remember from looking into the it not too many years ago.

          The pivot theory was positively received in Nazi Germany and was also the basis for Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard.
          This is doubtless a great simplification but it’s a start:

          1. Harold

            I don’t know if the link I cited is in any way reliable (as far as who publishes it). But too late to take it down. Wikipedia probably a safer source.

            1. Harold

              The article I linked to about Mackinder contains a serious blooper, that I didn’t notice at first. It says of the Crimean War “During this conflict, waged from 1853 to 1856, Russia fought for control of the Crimean Peninsula, part of Ukraine.”
              The Crimean Peninsula may be part of Ukraine today, or rather yesterday (from 1955 to 2015), but it is now again part of Russia, as it was in in the 1850s, since Catherine the Great had conquered it from the Ottoman empire in 1793.

              The Ottomans initiated the Crimean war in 1953-54, and their cause was taken up by the British and French on religious and other pretexts (having to do with the Balkans). The aggressors were technically victorious in that at the war’s end great concessions were made to the Ottomans, but as part of the peace negotiations Crimea was restored to Russia (1856). There it remained until Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian, awarded it to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine in 1954.

          2. Mark P.

            Thanks for this. I’d never heard of Halford Mckinder.

            I’ve always wondered what the intellectual foundation of Hitler’s land-power-based geopolitical theories might be, since:
            (a) in reality they were completely mistaken, given that they led Hitler to repeat Napoleon’s massively stupid folly of a century earlier and invade Russia;
            (b) they were so at variance with the classic Anglo-American sea (and air) power-based formulation which, whatever you might think of it morally, obviously worked for the purposes of imperialism.

            As Keynes said: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

    2. Jean

      Rev Kev, I don’t understand this:
      “only a people devoted to the military arts could hope to maintain themselves there on the rich farmlands that Prussia offered” ? Doesn’t rich farmland lend itself to laziness and sloth?
      Do you mean the opposite, people from rough hostile lands become good soldiers?

      The wehrmacht was aided in Russia by locals anxious to take vengeance on their communist masters and they aided the Germans.

      1. JBird

        I’m not Rev Kev, but I can say that farming is hard work especially before modern machinery so no laziness there. Many countries have their boundaries at natural barriers such as rivers, and often have mountains, and forests from which to defend themselves. If you look at the area between eastern Germany and the Russian Urals there is no much other than nice flat fertile plains, and German was the Germanies until the 19th century. The large militarily powerful united countries and empires like Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russian, French, and Austrian-Hungarian Empires surrounded it. Further, those countries were often at war with each other and had no problem going through Germany to fight each other. If you read the history of Europe, poor Germany has constant wars in and around it. So the Germans learned to fight just to prevent the next army from burning them out, and the Prussians were better at it than the other Germans.

      2. Sid Finster

        Outside of western Ukraine, fewer locals than you may think.

        There is a reason that the Germans considered the former Soviet Union to be crawling with partisans.

        1. vlade

          There was approximately 1m Soviet Hiwis (“Hilfswilliger”, volunteer). A non-trivial number of those were former PoWs, across all teh nationalities. The main difference was that Ukraine, unlike most of the other Soviet Republics, welcomed Germans – at least initially.

          And to understand that, you have to understand the genocide Stalin carried out in the Eastern Ukraine in 1930s.

          1. Olga

            Well, the genocide assertion is fake news. One could benefit from knowing a bit of history. There is a new bio of Stalin by Kotkin. It dispels the myth quite effectively.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Nope. If the people there were not hard people, then there would be another people living there by now who would have pushed the original inhabitants out. The region has a military heritage dating back to when the Teutonic Knights – a German military order of crusading knights – were invited in to put down the original inhabitants-
        Just in passing, this all did not make them popular with their fellow Germans who called them Sau-Preusse which you could translate as pig Prussians.

    3. Andrew Watts

      and Japan making noises about wanting the Kuriles back again, Russia must feel under the gun somewhat.

      The Japanese are probably doing more than making noise over the Kuril Islands. They’re just patient is all. Technically Russia and Japan are still at war and have been since World War II.

    4. vlade

      While Russia was attacked/invaded a number of times over its history, it should be also pointed out that Russia invaded its neighbors quite often too – until the collapse of USSR, Russia’s history was a mix of defensive and expansionistic wars – and Russia in general came out on the top in most of them (all you have to do is to graph Russia’s territory over time).

      Your argument could be applied to Poland, Baltics and a number of other states (the current Bohemia was run over by armies few times a century pretty much from 15th century onwards – and it has natural defences).

      I don’t really buy an argument that says “we were invaded so often that we want to invade everyone else to make sure we’re safe”.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You gotta see it from the other guy’s viewpoint. Try this thought experiment. Imagine that Japan had actually invaded the US in WW2 and had occupied all from the Pacific coastline up to the Rocky Mountains. Imagine in the following years 20,000,000 dead Americans. Imagine all Jews rounded up in the dozen states occupied and slaughtered. Imagine all the cities and towns in this vast region devastated until the Japanese were finally forced out.
        Now you tell me what American foreign policy would have looked like since WW2.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Set-up for recession in 2020:

    Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients that the federal deficit would reach 5.2 percent of U.S. GDP by 2019, and would “continue climbing gradually from there.”

    Goldman Sachs warned [of] diminishing returns after this year. “The fiscal expansion should boost growth by around 0.7pp in 2018 and 0.6pp in 2019, but will likely come to an end after that.”

    Lastly, “there is a good chance that control of Congress will change after this year’s midterm election, likely making it more difficult to further expand the deficit,” Goldman added.

    It would be the very definition of “pig in a poke” if the R party’s multi-trillion spending orgy can’t even buy it continued control of Congress a mere nine months after its enactment.

    After all, what have they done for us lately? /sarc

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is G. Sachs doing some sort of fishy mongering here?

      A Medicare-for-All can be a good vehicle to expand the deficit, if appropriately structured. And if the Republicans lose seats, it would be easier (though by no means certain), not more difficult, to expand deficits that way.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    re: 1 big thing: Flummoxed Facebook helped Mueller

    From the article:

    Facebook V.P. of ads Rob Goldman went rogue on Twitter and claimed (but later walked back): “I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.”

    Goldman also tweeted: “The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump [sic] and the election.”

    I remember reading an article, probably linked to from NC, that claimed the government asked FB for any evidence of Russian interference and they initially said there was none. Then one of The Dems on the committee went back and asked again, putting the pressure on them to come up with something, anything they could use to keep the blame Russia narrative going and only then did they come up with the paltry few clickbait ads that Mueller has now used for his bogus indictments. That MofA article linked to yesterday joives pretty well with what the FB exec above said – the ads were placed to make money and they took full advantage of FB’s loose platform to do so, because if you have a nickel, the Zuck will take it no questions asked.

    1. edmondo

      The answer to the Russian meddling in our sacred election process is simple:

      1) Have the DOJ file a giant RICO lawsuit against Facebook – the only entity to profit from this interference – and put Zuckerberg in jail.

      2) Take away the voting rights of anyone who has ever had a Facebook account. We do this will felons, why not people who were so easily duped into voting against the “most highly qualified person to ever run for president” (trademark)

  17. 10leggedshadow

    Today’s Antidote: I had lab golden mix named Bear, he was all black with long fur like a golden and a golden personality. Best dog I ever had. Lab golden mixes are referred to as glabs and are apparently the gold standard for bomb sniffing.

    1. perpetualWAR

      I have a lab/golden mix. He is the best dog eva!

      And I call him Labradork. Did not know that his real breed name is “Glab.” Good to know.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Australia, US, India and Japan in talks to establish ‘alternative’ to China’s Belt and Road (just don’t call it a rival) South China Morning Post

    Unless China can retain her middle class, and not having them buy up properties abroad and exhaust university admission spots in America and Europe – because in that future, it’s desirable to live in China, and students flock to Chinese higher learning institutions (like when it was in Chang’an, during the Tang dynasty) – they are instigating global instability, in their own unique ways.

  19. Mattski

    At the time Corbyn was meeting with some Czech official, Thatcher would have been meeting with several troglodytes a day. But that’s the world we live in–our “left-wing” British paper of record is earnestly wringing its hands. At the end of the day the main enemy is was and will always be socialism.

  20. brian

    “In Trump’s 2019 Budget, Lockheed Looms Almost as Large as State Dept.” – Really? That’s the best you can do on this link? Using the Title as the HREF?

    1. ewmayer

      Given that a simple websearch (I used DuckDuckGo) for “ lockheed budget” brings up the article link – Really? That’s the best you can do on this missing link? Whining about how hard it is to dig out yourself?

  21. Jeremy Grimm

    This little tidbit caught my eye in the review of “The Water Will Come” related to the link “When the Ice Melts:
    “In the coming years, as cities around the world need to be raised, rebuilt, walled off from the ocean, or abandoned, millions of people will be displaced, impoverished and left to fend for themselves by governments unwilling or unable to help.”

    For me scary part of this is that unless things change soon the rising seas will present yet another profit opportunity for Neoliberal efforts to raise, rebuild and wall off our cities from the ocean. I believe projects to hold back the sea will have short lives and catastrophic failure modes. I don’t know how the Netherlands manages. I suspect even their best engineering efforts will fail in holding off the accelerating climb of ocean waters and the increasing power of ocean storms. I think now might be a nice time for Upstate New York to shed its ties with NYC to avoid getting soaked to help pay for raising, rebuilding, and walling off NYC.

    A few related matters also trouble me greatly. The nuclear reactors with ocean views received brief mention in this review. I suspect they present a very great risk with great costs associated with dealing with that risk. Other than noting the risk are there any plans to begin dismantling these time bombs sitting on our coastlines? When the seas rise or those risen seas storm they will access new portions of our ground water. That will worsen a couple of problems already growing in concern, short supplies of fresh water and reduced food production. And the array sampling the of the AMOC currents [sampling array versus a multi-processor computing array, my best guess after a few web searches for the content of the Science link which I was unable to pull in] may add new understanding of what is happening and what we might expect but even so it remains a big joker.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Instead of investing on One Belt, China should look to relocate Shanghai.

      And they can do that easily over there, as they showed in relocating millions for the Three Gorges Dam project.

      It’s not like they don’t know of any precedents. From Liangzhu Culture (around the Yangtze River Delta), Wikipedia:

      Recent research has shown that the development of human settlements was interrupted several times by rising waters. This led researchers to conclude the demise of the Liangzhu culture was brought about by extreme environmental changes such as floods, as the cultural layers are usually interrupted by muddy or marshy and sandy–gravelly layers with buried palaeotrees.[5]

    2. Mark P.

      [1] …scary part of this is that unless things change soon the rising seas will present yet another profit opportunity for Neoliberal efforts to raise, rebuild and wall off our cities from the ocean.

      Yup. Here’s a book for you —

      NEW YORK 21040 by Kim Stanley Robinson

      ‘Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140: To Save the City, We Had to Drown It’

      [2] The nuclear reactors with ocean views received brief mention in this review … Other than noting the risk are there any plans to begin dismantling these time bombs sitting on our coastlines?

      The reactors themselves are not, relatively speaking, the major risk. They could theoretically be decommissioned and dismantled, though at great expense. What nobody knows how to deal with and everybody should be terrified by are the enormous tonnages of nuclear ‘waste’ now stored at most reactor sites — Fukushima is typical and some U.S. sites are worse — because no agreement has ever been reached on how to dispose of that waste.

      Doubtless, you’re full of rage about the people who designed the reactors in the 1950s and 60s without any plan to get rid of that waste.

      In truth, back there in that forever-ago era of Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ they did have a plan, which was that the partially-used nuclear fuel would be reprocessed and that by learning ‘to work the fuel cycle’ — in nuclear engineers’ parlance — human civilization would have an energy supply good for the next 20,000 years and simultaneously would circumvent the threat of global warming. (Scientists as varied as Hubbert — of Hubbert’s peak — and John von Neumann had already run the numbers there.)

      The once-through nuclear cycle we use today extracts only 7 percent of the nuclear fuel’s potential energy and leaves us with vast quantities of ‘nuclear waste,’ after all. So why didn’t we go down the reprocessing path? Because there turned out to be more uranium in the world than they’d known back in the 1940s-50s and —

      [a] Energy companies made a lot more money on the once-through cycle without the expense of reprocessing, which is technically difficult.

      [b] Starting under Jimmy Carter, U.S. policy became to obstruct reprocessing at any cost because — it was feared — it’d lead to nuclear weapons proliferation and put such weapons in the hands of every Tom, Dick and Harry of a nation, including North Korea and Khomeini’s Iran. Putting it another way, the U.S. wanted to maintain the UN Security Council members’ monopoly — and the U.S.’s own monopoly, first of all — on any ‘nuclear umbrella.’


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