Links 2/20/18

Plants colonized the Earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought

A coffin, mayor, poetry, bagpiper: Beloved bisexual goose’s funeral draws community The Dominion Post

France to protect wolves despite protests from farmers France24

‘I looked at it, and it was moving’: Worm in woman’s eye leads to unique discovery CNN (PM). There’s good news tonight!

Exposing RBS scandal ‘like victory at Le Mans’ The Times (Richard Smith).

BoE’s Carney says Bitcoin has ‘pretty much failed’ as currency Reuters

Opinion: Valuation, liquidity price, and stability of cryptocurrencies PNAS

Pink slips coming for big chunk of Dodd-Frank agency staff American Banker. The Office of Financial Research. Who needs ’em?

Facebook’s next project: American inequality Politico

German Ruling Against Facebook May Presage New EU Privacy Regime Bloomberg

“Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War Vanity Fair. The assumption seems to be that moderation can be automated, algorithmically (“at scale”). It can’t.


Ministers to thrash out Brexit plan at Chequers FT

David Davis: bullish wheel-greaser or Brexit fall guy? Guardian

UK to EU: Play fair or we won’t pay our bill Politico

Corbyn Vows to Stop Hostile Bids and Humble the City of London Bloomberg

Merkel-led coalition: Decisive times as SPD members vote on pact Deutsche Welle

Rising poverty gnaws at Italian social fabric as election nears Reuters

Altro che milioni di follower: ecco quanti utenti seguono davvero i leader politici suTwitter Repubblica (DG). Google translation: “Other than millions of followers: here are how many users really follow the political leaders on Twitter.” DG: “It turns out that social media are remarkably thin in their effectiveness.”


Russia Warns U.S. Not to ‘Play With Fire’ in Syrian Conflict Bloomberg (Re Silc). Re Silc, doubleplus bad oldthinking: “Did I sleep through congre$$’ authorization to invade Syria?”

Iran, Deeply Embedded in Syria, Expands ‘Axis of Resistance’ NYT. “‘If there is a war, it will be regional,’ said Kamel Wazne, the founder of the Center for American Strategic Studies, in Beirut.” Silly boy. Real men want to go to Moscow.

A Massive U.S. Drone Base Could Destabilize Niger — and May Even Be Illegal Under Its Constitution The Intercept

North Korea

Only China can solve the North Korea problem – by inviting it to come underneath its own nuclear umbrella Philip Bobbitt, Unherd. Worth the log-in (especially for fans of Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles):

This situation is similar in some aspects to that which the Soviet Union faced in the mid-1970s. Then, also, the boundaries of its allies were unrecognised because their frontiers had been forged in the aftermath of World War II and there was no peace agreement between the Soviet Union and the Western states. In that sense, the Helsinki Accords of 1975, though not a binding treaty, finally ended World War II and recognised the inviolability of the postwar borders.

I propose a similar conference, convened by the UN, to include North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, the US and Russia with the objective of finally ending the Korean War and recognising the borders of both Koreas. Roughly speaking, the US and China would be in the position of the US and the Soviet Union at Helsinki.

Stop trying to fix everything Boston Globe. “Could we have avoided today’s crisis had world powers been more willing to push for a total solution at some earlier point, 20 or 50 years ago? In fact, the dynamics of international compromise suggest the exact opposite — the more we embrace sloppy status quo deals, the more peace and stability we can enjoy.”


Chinese Rainbow 4 drones in use by foreign powers have 96pc strike rate in combat situations, paper says South China Morning Post

Flu season: All Hong Kong public hospital wards exceed capacity as patients queue for 8 hours or more Hong Kong Free Press

Nagaya nostalgia: The long and the short of Tokyo’s famed ‘row houses’ Japan Times

New Cold War

Russia’s Election Meddling: Worse Than a Crime; a Blunder The American Conservative

Fact-Checking a Facebook Executive’s Comments on Russian Interference NYT

In Two So-Called Fact Checks of Facebook, NYT Forgets Everything It Knows about Indictments emptywheel

Russia’s Election Interference Is Digital Marketing 101 The Atlantic (Re Silc). “[T]o be clear: Russian agents should certainly be cut out of the market of persuasive messaging. But this won’t fix things for good. A real solution will require a hard look at the relationship between information markets and democracy, and a focus on the public interest over the profit motive.” So the problem is neoliberalism?

Trump Transition

Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The Hill

“Pro-Immigrant” Liberalism and Capitalist Exploitation: Why Corporate Democrats Do Not Support Immigrant Justice Truthout

A Serious Push for Free College in California The Nation. College in California used to be almost free, and in living memory, too.

Sex in Politics… Not.

Lawmaker who led #MeToo push invited staffer to play spin the bottle, complaint says WaPo. Power is gender fluid….

Health Care

Why The Nation’s Premier Health Care Wonk Has Given Up On Congress HuffPo. Slavitt: “I don’t think [my investment fund] has anything to do with my role as a board member of the United States of Care,’ he said.” He would, wouldn’t he?

Woman billed $17,850 for dodgy pee test. Alarmed experts say she’s not alone Ars Technica (BC). Ka-ching.


MDIHS Postpones Lockdown Drill – Students Silently Protest Thursday Morning WDEA (TK). Mount Desert Island in Maine. (I really like their idea of “de-normalizing” the lockdown drill. I’m so old I remember when “lockdown” wasn’t even a word, let alone a thing.) Good numbers, too, from the photos.

How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter Politico

Limbaugh calls for concealed carry in American schools The Hill

How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won’t Andrew Ross Sorkin, NYT

Respect First, Then Gun Control David Brooks, NYT

Guillotine Watch

Take a rare look inside the luxurious $92 million superyacht that has a sushi bar, a salon, Jacuzzi, and can sleep 16 people Business Insider

Class Warfare

From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future Daily Beast (Re Silc).

The Stubbornly High Cost of Remittances Money and Banking

When the impartial spectator is missing Stumbling and Mumbling

Why even a moth’s brain is smarter than an AI MIT Technology Review (DL).

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung Volcano Erupted Today and the Photos Are Spooky as Hell Gizmodo (BC). More photos here.

Antidote du jour (via):

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. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: Silicon Valley dystopia:

    “Bees exist on Earth to pollinate flowers, and maybe humans are here to build the machines,” observes professor Andrew Hudson-Smith, from University College London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. “The city will be one big joined-up urban machine, and humans’ role on Earth will be done.”

    Silly, naive humans. We thought we were building machines to serve us, not the other way around. For millennia, craftsmen have fashioned tools to fit human hands, sometimes even specific ones. Chisels, artists’ brushes, violins, even baseball bats were made so that the tool was best fitted to serve its user.

    Now the Techmasters seek to disrupt by shaping us to fit their machines. Time to turn off, tune out, and drop out.

    1. Craig H.

      This part was interesting:

      Yet the CEOs of Lyft,, Square, Twitter, and Yelp, as well senior executives at Google, all support densification, and have rallied behind a new bill by California state Sen. Scott Wiener to strip local communities of most of their zoning powers to allow significant densification virtually everywhere there is basic transit or rail bus service. This shift in power from localities to the state follows the oligarch’s preference for centralized power that avoids the messiness of dealing with the local peasantry. Like your bucolic suburb or human scale urban neighborhood? Too bad. The oligarchs have spoken.

      Either Scott Wiener completely misunderstands the machinery of the state of CA or I do. I cannot see this bill passing in ten years. Not that Bay Area zoning laws are not ridiculous. They are. But the purpose of governing in the Bay Area more than anything else is boost market value for the homeowners-voters (and profits for the real estate dealers-donors). It is entrenched deep.

      It seems like it would be far easier to relocate the tech employers to Tracy or Visalia. Reno is close to Burning Man!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Doesn’t zoning densification lead to higher values typically, unless it’s the part of Beverly Hills that’s full of mansions we are talking about?

      2. Synoia

        Currently in CA, it is not possible to convince the resident of suburbs to consider densification. In addition buying suburban property piece by piece is to expensive

        The biggest simple issue in densification of any form is parking. Current zoning laws in CA require 8 parking spaces to be available for each car in a city.

          1. PhillyJ

            The 8 spaces per car in a city is a high end estimate that includes all the spaces mandatory for housing, workplaces, shops, restaurants, etc.

            “Scenario 5 evaluates the extreme upper limit where the
            rule-of-thumb 8–1 spaces per car ratio is employed. When
            this ratio is cited it is often implied that both designated
            and non-designated parking spaces are included capturing
            all potential parking area.”

      3. Wukchumni

        I’d claim that Visalia is the best big city in the Central Valley, but will admit it’s a low bar to entry, compared to other odious opportunities from Bakersfield to Sacramento. The downside being horrible low lying Tule fog in the winter that can be bone chilling and 100 days of around 100 degrees in the summer. The key to living in the area, is to be situated somewhere above the Tule fog belt in the foothills.

          1. Wukchumni

            Yeah, that’s an added bonus.

            Truth be told though, it’s nowhere near as bad as 1960’s-70’s LA smog, from a breathing standpoint.

            p.s. Silicon Valley would rather be blasted into outer space in a Tesla, than move to Visalia, methinks.

        1. fresno dan

          February 20, 2018 at 1:34 pm

          The downside being horrible low lying Tule fog in the winter that can be bone chilling and 100 days of around 100 degrees in the summer.

          You say that as if they were bad things…..some people can be so hard to please….

    2. Wukchumni

      I live my life such as the old school Silicon Valley did once upon a time when vast orchards surrounded it, supplying food and taking in carbon dioxide. Aside from this ball & chain, very little of my life is based on technology, and it wasn’t as if I made a conscious effort to do so, it just worked out that way. I know bupkis in regards to computers and always roll my eyes when confronted with babble in regards to them.They’re lousy @ orcharding, hiking, skiing & satire, and with any luck it’ll remain that way the rest of my life.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        my luddism comes from determining that i didn’t belong in austin, or any other city, about 25 years ago.
        Mom had moved the family farm way out here when houston grew too near.
        “country out of the boy” and all.
        That Daily Beast article is gonna give me nightmares.
        I couldn’t imagine being forced to live in such a place, let alone wanting to be caged there.
        Better get to work on those DIY Emp’s, because one of these days, those folks will send in the drones.
        I guess the really scary thing is that there are apparently a good many humans who are all excited about the prospect of that lifestyle.
        enlightenment eats itself.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I worry about that daily….whenever I take my 5am naked jointwalk down the country road….or decide I require a campfire—right there in the yard…or add a lean-to to my shop, sans permit or permission.
            we maintain an informal agreement with our neighbor, whose 600 acres surrounds us, that we get first dibs if he ever wants to sell out and move to town.
            I make no claims to categorical imperative with my lifestyle; we are about 150 years(and what? 5 billion more folks…) too far gone to universalise agrarian enough-ness.
            urban density is likely essential to maintaining our sheer numbers…but that does not necessarily need to be accomplished by the full spectrum dominance model envisioned here. Surely some Middle Way to living together can be found.

            1. clinical wasteman

              probably too late for anyone to see this, but…
              I sympathise with your certainty that this way of living is necessary – not a lifestyle add-on – for you, Amfortas, because I’ve always felt the same thing equally strongly about the need to live deep inside a city (for reasons too complicated & personal to go into, but not the sort of parody city built on top of places cities used to be today).
              Which leads me tentatively to think: maybe what’s needed is not so much a ‘middle way’ as a social-economic-ecological organization of human of life that could accomodate both, as determined by those people with one set of needs or the other, not by Experts crunching data on What’s Good For Us.
              Of course that’s a near-utopian (or easily slandered as such) idea, in that it would require cities not to exploit the production of nonurban land to a destructive degree, and use/occupation/’ownership’ of nonurban land not to be concentrated in a few neofeudal hands. (‘Neofeudal’ sounds exaggerated/metaphorical in a North American context, but it’s astonish how literally it applies in Western Europe, in particular the UK, & most of all Scotland, where the few aristocratic families responsible for the Clearances still quite literally own most of the land, especially in the once densely populated, now emptied Highlands.)

              1. Amfortas the Hippie

                there’s lots of feudal residue out here, in law, and in custom.
                as for actually liking urban living..I get it. I know people who cringe at the silence when they visit out here, and the utter darkness of a cloudy night, and the thought of driving 50 miles one way to a decent grocery store.
                and folks out here are indeed clannish and largely ignorant of the world out there(this is much improved from earlier times), but they hve their charms.
                as for your Utopia…I’m all for it.(the hinterlands have a balance of trade problem with the Big City, since y’all get all yer vittles off a boat,lol.)
                but first we’d hafta somehow mitigate the neck deep Bull$^it, and find some way to unify the myriad and contradictory Certainties, in order to locate some tiny slip of common ground…as well as finding a way to quarantine those “experts” you mention,lol.
                it doesn’t look hopeful.
                Know that there are folks out here trying to preserve a little of the knowledge needed to eke out a living without plastic and global transport.
                I don’t mind being a museum piece.
                I’ve even considered burying my Library(would double as a tornado shelter), in case my pessimist side turns out right.

                1. clinical wasteman

                  what a lovely, thoughtful reply, thanks.
                  I definitely don’t consider you a museum piece (although I agree about not minding being one); or if that’s the case it’s also true of me, in that ‘cities’ in the sense that I’m thinking of them also seem to be endangered.
                  Or perhaps what’s threatened is any use of land & social space configured for & by the people who live on/in it, rather than (by way of gross oversimpilification) by the cutter of financial casino chips.

    3. Arthur Dent

      Douglas Adams conclusively showed that people are just part of the giant computational matrix “Earth” commissioned by the white lab mice to come up with The Ultimate Question. This was after the electronic computer Deep thought had arrived at “42” as the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

      From the original radio series “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory mentioned, which states that this has already happened.”

      The second theory is probably the best possible explanation for our planet today.,_the_Universe,_and_Everything_(42)

      1. Tony Wikrent

        A couple of years ago I read an article that reported Silicone Valley elites were shocked that “the rabble” hates them so much. (Anyone have a link to that?) I’m sure the latter theory – that a worse universe has already replaced the better one – is correct, because “bizarre and inexplicable” is the only way to explain the immortality of Windows crashes, 38 years after Microsquish first launched its Windows commercial product.

        But I might be wrong. I suspect that “customer service” is now rapidly disappearing down a swirling vortex at the confluence of low pay / high turnover, and the “automation” of so many CS functions by software that makes it nearly impossible for a human being, no matter how dedicated or how talented, to override company “policy” embedded in the coding. Thus we approach another historic milestone in U.S. economic development under neoliberalism: a service economy with no service.

        1. Oregoncharles

          My grandson recently had a tech support job, for a software company I never learned the name of. He hated it. Besides being (figuratively) chained to a desk, he was dealing with upset or angry people all day. No wonder techsupport is such a challenge.

          OTOH, the tech support at the local ISPs we use has always proven very good. Granted, they got to blame the phone company for most of our problems. They were right, too, which is why we’re now on a wireless connection.

          The phone company’s tech support did more harm than good several times, after which I started demanding to speak with someone in the US. They connected me, it seemed with some relief.

  2. Wukchumni

    Limbaugh calls for concealed carry in American schools The Hill
    I think the rush to judgement is largely in regards to teachers and staff, but why not arm the kids to the teeth as well?

    They all seem to have bulbous backpacks that would be ideal for concealing various types of peacemakers of every caliber, although I would opt for a strict age minimum of say 7, to be able to carry.

    1. Eureka Springs

      In the early eighties my Jr. High/High School combo kids often drove their own car or truck to school years before they were eligible for a drivers license. More than a few kept guns in their truck gun racks – the kind where you see the gun without so much as a case in the window. I don’t recall anyone ever locking their car or truck. Few removed their keys from the ignition. People even smoked cigarettes. Some thirty five years later I don’t know of a single illness, injury or death from any of that except auto accidents.

      Bullies were never handled correctly. There were nasty old fistfights from time to time, class snobbery and racism, but never anything like the fear and oppression these weak-kneed parents and administrators perpetuate today. I could weep for how we live much more than how we die in these times. And I say that as one who nearly died without health care last year.

      I recently heard a teacher in Berryville elementary school say there is no recess anymore and lunch breaks are 20 minutes. That’s teaching insanity.

      There were plenty of problems back then but we seem to be nanny stating ourselves into a much stranger way of life. I rather suspect like healthcare we could look to scores of other countries for exponentially better school models, if only we would.

      1. rd

        Bullying has moved on-line. It is now 24/7/365. The bullied and mocked cannot escape. You used to be able to escape it when school ended. No more.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘More than a few kept guns in their truck gun racks’

        Certainly was true in East Texas, where pickup trucks with a couple of rifles in the gun rack were an utterly commonplace sight.

        This regional custom was effectively ended by the federal gun control act of 1968. Before its restrictions on interstate sales, there was nearly zero demand for stolen weapons.

        1. Merf56

          And PA as well. Spouse was on the rifle team in High school and took his rifle and ammo on the bus each morning and then walked through the halls to put his gun and ammo in his locker.
          As counterpoint: in the early 2000’s while we were living in Phoenix, in our very own school district, a boy and his teacher who was head of a shooting club after school were, in the school parking lot at Mountain Point High School in the Tempe Union School District, moving the guns from one car to another for after school activities were reported by someone
          . The boy, an upstanding (white even🙄) honor student, was EXPELLED from school immediately and it held up though his parents sued and did everything possible. The teacher tried to take the full blame but the ptb were not having any of it. His life was ruined for several years until I finally heard through a friend he got back on track and got his GED and was on to college. I assume if he was black a security guard would have shot him dead….
          I can only imagine what would happen in 2018.I posted the name of the school and district in case anyone is interested to look it up.

      3. Wukchumni

        I never saw a gun rack in a truck in SoCal in my formulitive high school years, for to be cool, you really needed a surfboard instead.

        It took on comical implications once in awhile, as there was this poseur that borrowed his mom’s ironing board and shrouded it in towels on top of his jalopy, to better look the part of a surfer dude.

      4. MRLost

        When I was in high school, if your daddy gave you a new hunting rifle for your birthday or Christmas, the first thing you did was stick it in your truck’s gun rack and bring it to school to show all your friends during lunch. If you were lucky, the vice principal would come out and admire your new rifle, too. That showed he liked you.

        1. Expat

          While this demonstrates that guns are part of American society in many parts of the country, I have the impression the discussion is being carried out with the underlying notion that “back then” times were simpler, people more caring, and shootings just didn’t occur.

          The truth is very different, of course. And while we all know someone who owns a gun and is not a murder let alone a mass murderer, the cold facts are that more guns leads to more killing, Americans are violent in unusual ways, and America owns a shitload of guns (about half the civilian guns in the world).

          If Americans really want their guns, they must simply openly and proudly state that the 30,000 or so gun deaths a year are the proud price to pay for the “god-given” right to bear arms. No more hiding behind “mentally disturbed” or “terrorism” or any other lame excuses. If you want guns, you own the deaths. And if that is what America wants, well the, who are we to say otherwise?

            1. a different chris

              WTF? Wikipedia has Finland as 14th, the US as 1st with a large gap to sad Serbia.

              You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Unlike pistols, hunting rifles aren’t primarily for killing people (that’s what distinguishes them from “assault” weapons). Handguns are really the chief villains in running up a death rate. It would be possible for someone to play sniper with a rifle, as the Texas Tower killer did, but it seems to be much less satisfying and therefore uncommon. The Vegas shooter used assault rifles with bump stocks, IIRC, rather than a sniper weapon. Probably didn’t want to see who he was killing.

          2. Merf56

            I thought the point was that ‘back then’ kids were NOT shooting up other kids at school like they are now. The POINT is what happened to the American psyche between ‘back then’ and now? Until Americans take a good look at the society and values we have created from back then until now and make a profound change we will still be mourning the deaths of our kids.
            I have my own ideas about why but no one I know ever wants to discuss how we all have contributed to this problem.

    2. fresno dan

      February 20, 2018 at 7:56 am

      Your just proposing another whackadoodle liberal scheme leaving our precious, precious, precious 1 to 6 year olds unarmed and defenseless…..

      and now that I think about is….why should the unborn be unarmed? stick a small revolver up there….

      1. Wukchumni

        You haven’t heard that Derringer implants are all the rage?, of course there’s a 9 month waiting period to deal with.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the Russians are COMING, and you know they are, more than just those in school should be prepared to be patriotic.

          1. Wukchumni

            Thanks for the kind words~

            Once upon a time, I went to the movies often, but maybe i’ve been 4 or 5 times in the last decade. They lost their focal point when other things filled the vacuum, i.e. life, the internet, etc.. That, and the idea I abhor CGI garbage, which almost always involves violence in some guise, in lieu of acting.

      1. visitor

        There is so much clamouring that the Russians are always coming that I get distressed. Why is their sex life apparently so much better than ours? Is somebody trying to demoralize us with constant reminders of the Russians’ stamina? Is there a devious machination afoot? Did Trump get special Russian blue pills when he visited that shady hotel in Moscow? Why is Mueller not investigating the matter properly?

        1. fresno dan

          February 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

          Why is their sex life apparently so much better than ours?

          Uh…er….because the Russian are always ….coming????

  3. The Rev Kev

    How Twitter Lost the Internet War

    Is this why Silicon Valley is all hung up about Artificial Intelligence? So that an AI can be used to moderate company’s feeds like on Twitter, Facebook and Google?

    1. Stephen V.

      Pretty sure this already happening–awkwardly at best–on at least Twitter & YouTube from what I’ve seen. Is control the issue? That humans could never be trained *adequately *? Good news I say!

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        That humans could never be trained *adequately *?

        I think it something far more mundane. The entire industry is built around the observation that the marginal cost of goods sold grows at a far slower rate than the customer base. For example, 10 programmers needed for 1 million users, 20 programmers for 1 billion users (vs 10,000 programmers).

        Manually examining every post/tweet/user/twit is tremendously labor intensive which runs counter to their business model. Bang for the buck and all that. So, of course they will try “technology” solutions. Doesn’t mean it will work, but they will try until the end (at which point, they return to their serial entrepreneur guise to suckle at the VC … belly again).

  4. crow

    From Disruption to Dystopia: Silicon Valley Envisions the City of the Future Daily

    Reminds me of 19th century New England textile mill towns, the ruins of which I pass by on a nearly daily basis. In that grim, dark age the mill owners had a monopoly. They owned the mills where the workers worked (12 hour days, 6 days a week), the mill houses where workers lived, and the merchandise stores where workers shopped (on credit). It was a tidy, self-contained, well-controlled system of exploitation. Is this what our Silicon Valley betters envision?

    1. The Rev Kev

      They sound a lot like what were called company towns ( They were in many countries and that page states that there were once 2,500 company towns in the US alone. I would imagine that these fishbowls, errr, hi-tech cities would not have such plebeian things as shops but the people living there would order everything from their homes. A worker’s paradise.
      In my salad days I once visited West Berlin which was surrounded by East Germany at the time. At night we would hear dogs, occasional explosions and after a few days you could feel like you were in the middle of a hostile place – like an island. I wonder therefore what the long term effects would be for people living in one of these cities constantly being watched, monitored and analyzed. I suspect that the same sort of background pressure would build up and start to affect the mental health of the people living there.

      1. Wukchumni

        Me and a buddy drove a rental car from Bavaria to West Berlin on an East German autobahn in the early 80’s, and it was around 150 mile drive from West Germany where the autobahns were superb and it was quite something to be doing 100 mph in the fast lane when all of the sudden somebody in a hurry doing 135 was on your arse, lights flashing in a rather insistent, get the hell out of my way.

        What was an East German autobahn like? imagine a lumpy 2 lane road with all of the vegetation cut back a few hundred feet on either side, with somewhat hidden machine gun nests interspersed all along the route.

        They weren’t interested in illegal immigrants so much, it was the worry their own people might flee.

      2. Massinissa

        To get rid of these damn company towns, we needed events like the Pullman Strike.

        If only some socialists would get together and try to unionize all the tech workers in Silicon valley…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Aren’t all the tech workers in Silicon valley believers in Libertarianism who all believe that they are one garage away from their first billion dollars?

  5. Doug Hillman

    $92 million yucky yacht is a study in hideous, sterile opulence — stilted elegance and glamour utterly devoid of life or soul. It seems a fitting projection of power and wealth for those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, but its hard to imagine organic life surviving in such an artless place.

      1. Doug Hillman

        Dammit! Yours is bigger than mine! I can’t stand it.

        The super rich would be wiser to invest in submarines, a less conspicuous flaunting of gluttonous consumption.

          1. wilroncanada

            Or you could go on a Wild Goose Chase with Marion Morrison. He invaded Canada, or at least the Gulf Islands, many times

      1. Doug Hillman

        Yes, but more artful sterility. It looks lIke something commissioned by the Pentagon, a 70k HP nautical spear. “Ramming speed, Mr Chekov!”

    1. Off The Street

      Enterprising seasteaders will not be denied their waterborne escapes. I eagerly await the IPO for a small wave-energy device to be used by such yachts to allow extended cruising range, as in away from trouble, and reduction in need to refuel. Maybe Elon Musk has one underway in his own moonshot lab to supplement those powerpacks.

      The advertising practically writes itself:
      As one drifts off to sleep on those high-count sheets, the waves gently rock the boat while charging up the batteries to keep that sushi chilled for tomorrow’s lunch.

  6. Alex

    Re Cities of the Future

    The article doesn’t help its cause by rants against densification and cherrypicking stats to prove that it’s bad. If tech giants promote city densification it doesn’t mean it’s bad per se, just that it shouldn’t be controlled by tech corporations. It’s obvious that resonably dense cities with mass transit use much less resources and have smaller carbon footprint than suburbia.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How much will Jevons Paradox be at work, with more dense cities?

      Will it lead to the world able to accommodate humans worldwide? And if it can, it will.

      In America, 1,000 New Yorks, and 10,000 Shanghai’s in China?

      1. Alex

        Don’t see how it can apply here. Do people consume more resources in the city vs in the suburbs? Do they make more babies in the city? I doubt that

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If, say, the entire US is urban, then, there are more people.

          How do we get there? Is it possible to get there?

          Maybe more rural people move to cities, because it’s possible now, with denser urban living. And more people from abroad move to fill those rural areas. And more people abroad are born, because population pressure is less in those countries.

          That is, it’s a dynamic process, rather than some static shifting of people.

          1. Wukchumni

            With the advent of the internet, what does a teeming metropolis offer rural people aside from scads of people, diverse entertainment & education possibilities, and better pay-the latter of which is nullified by skyrocketing housing & rental prices.

            To give you an idea, there’s a house for rent here for $800 currently. The same home in SD, LA or SF would be $3-4k minimum.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If you could squeeze maybe 4 times as many people in that urban house, then it costs about the same.

              That is what you would call dense-living.

            2. Alex

              Is it a reply to my point above? I didn’t say anything about urban environment being ‘better’, I just said that a per-person consumption of resources and carbon footprint is lower than in suburbia

          2. Alex

            Yes, I agree that it’s a dynamic process and thus very hard to forecast. However the total population need not increase with greater urbanisation: the rural areas can just get emptier, this is what has happened in many places in Europe.

            Also, let’s not confuse rural and suburban areas which have next to nothing in common: the land use, the community, everything is different.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s true that with greater urbanization, it doesn’t imply total population will be more.

              Thought that seems to be always the case, for the world, historically, up to now.

              Perhaps we can look to Japan, where population growth has been slightly below zero recently. But then, they will probably want more immigrants at some point.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Wouldn’t these end up like those overcrowded rat cages in the experiments where the rats ended up eating their young and each other?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For some people, the less secure they feel, the more likely they buy guns.

      For others who have faith in the government and our military, when insecure, they look to our political leaders. But the news coming out shows things are quite shaky there…possible collusion in so many places.

  7. Bryan

    Pull quote from the Atlantic article on the Russian op gets to the heart of it, without meaning to: what is angering the Russiagate pushers is that a foreign entity is getting slightly more aggressive in its efforts to encroach on US attention markets. The duopoly want unfettered access to those markets, which is why this ridiculous campaign is also being used to smear left politicians/3rd parties that dare to try to use social media for their messaging too. The absurdity of the charges and the fervency of the smear campaign is an indication of how tenuous is their power.

    1. fresno dan

      February 20, 2018 at 9:08 am

      What I found astounding about the article and its premise of sowing controversy and “discord”, is that the author apparently never heard of Willie Horton, Jesse Helms ad about not getting a job due to affirmative action, etc., etc.
      And Bryan, your exactly right. ANY sowing of “class warfare” is the only sowing of discord that the establishment wants to slience.

    2. Montanamaven

      Dimitry Orlov has, as always, a unique and very plausible explanation for all the Russiagate Russia-phobia.

      It’s still possible that one of these Russians will at some point travel abroad, get snatched and shipped off to the US to stand trial, and be convicted of money laundering, identity theft and wire fraud. But the charge of working to undermine the American people’s faith in the wholesome goodness of their democracy would be rather hard to prove, mostly because there isn’t much of it to be found these days. The accusation is a lot like accusing somebody of despoiling an outhouse by crapping in it, along with everyone else, but the outhouse in question had a sign on its door that read “No Russians!” and the 13 Russians just ignored it and crapped in it anyway.

      Orlov speculates that Americans need some sort of big enemy and have continued to pick Russia. However, he says the US has made a fatal blunder, not Russia. The Obama and now Trump Administrations with their anti- Russia moves like the Obama adminstration’s Regime change in Ukraine and false chemical attack accusations have “Made Russia Great Again”. The Trump Administrations continuation of sanctions have made Russians now independent as far as agriculture is concerned. They used to be like Venezuela exporting gas and oil and importing everything else. Not any more. He points out that the blunders by the Obama and now Trump administrations in Syria have elevated Russia to the status of Peace maker and an alternative to the US foreign policies of undermining democracies and stealing peoples’ stuff.
      Orlove is always a fun read.

    3. cocomaan

      I’m really afraid for the 2018, but especially the 2020 elections. Trump will be running again and the hysteria is going to be even more feverish than it is now.

      Someone will win the presidency while the rest of us lose.

      1. Olga

        One more reason to stay clear of the US… and it will all start much sooner than any of us can bear. We’ve been turned into masochists…

    4. lyman alpha blob

      I do agree with the article that the social media companies have made any of this possible, but they don’t seem to emphasize that the intent of the ridiculously small number of ads was likely commercial, not political influence. And the conclusion was particularly risible:

      As new operators—both foreign and domestic—learn from the Russians, this problem is bound to get worse before it gets better.

      Learn from the Russians?!?!? This is garden variety sockpuppetry/trolling/clickbait and I’m pretty sure the Russians didn’t invent it. Unbelievable how much the media wants to hype this.

  8. Wukchumni

    Yesterday in the water cooler, somebody pontificated that if the guns were confiscated in our country, we would collapse.

    Are we that tied to violence, that if we went without-it would be the death of us?

    1. fresno dan

      February 20, 2018 at 9:10 am

      People with anorexia think they are fat. No amount of discussion will convince them otherwise.
      People think guns make them safer – mountains of their own children won’t convince them otherwise….

    2. cocomaan

      I think they identified the wrong guns. Because if our military-imposed hegemony was dissolved, our country would cease to look the way it looks. We’re certainly in love with the violence we create, except we justify it with Pax Americana.

      The second amendment was created for militia purposes. Full stop. Not to overthrow the government, necessarily, not to overthrow internal rebellions, necessarily, but written to promote civilian militias so that the homeland wasn’t threatened by anyone in particular.

      We’ve obviously gone way past that and are in some weird place where the second amendment is talked about for the purposes of hunting, for the purposes of self defense, but never about militias. We never talk about the dangers of a standing military presence across the globe. That of course jives with the fact that the rest of the Constitution has been shredded as well.

      Rather than get rid of the second amendment, I think we should get rid of global military. At least these guns laying all over the place in America would then have a purpose.

          1. RMO

            Hey! Canada is only number 10 in the world for private firearms ownership so we’re not doing that bad! You’ve only got about three times the number of guns per person as we do you know.

            To be serious, if the legislation could get through the houses and not founder in the Supreme Court it seems worth trying gun control regulations. I fear it may not make a lot of difference though. First, I’ve noticed a big difference in attitudes to firearms between the U.S. and Canada, both among gun owners and non-owners. There’s a frightening focus on violent use – self defense use in most cases but still frightening to listen to – of guns in the U.S. which I’ve never heard here even among the most enthusiastic gun nuts I know. Self-defense isn’t considered a legitimate reason to own a firearm here except in very specific cases. Getting a full license for both non-restricted and restricted firearms is only a two day course and the background checks aren’t too onerous. The regulations regarding firearms here are definitely effective in reducing accidental use and impulsive use but I don’t see them doing much to stop a spree shooter. Magazine size limits on pistols and center-fire semiautomatic rifles are about the only regulations directed that way (enacted after the Montreal shooting in the 90’s) but they wouldn’t be too difficult to get around. In some cases a drill would be the only tool required.

            I think a big problem in the U.S. is that it’s easy for people to see their whole country as psychotic, using mass violence on every level starting right from the top, anywhere on anyone to get its way and that this is normal. Certainly many of the elites in government and industry seem to act that way. The attitude of many in power could be summarized as “give me everything you have and then go die, loser” and that has to have an effect on society. Then take some socially or psychologically isolated people who don’t get to see a lot of the cooperation and mutual help that actually happens between people every day but instead have the constant apocalyptic media noise in their ears, media which constantly reinforces the idea that massive violence is the preferred solution to all of one’s problems and… Making laws in the hopes that they will make obtaining the weapons to act on that impulse more difficult is certainly worth the effort but I still think more would have to be done.

  9. DorothyT

    ‘I looked at it, and it was moving’: Worm in woman’s eye leads to unique discovery” CNN

    There’s also a damaging eye condition known as blepharitis. I won’t include a link as most of the information I’ve found is incomplete as to one prominent cause of it. That cause, demodex mites, is also associated with Rosacea. We all have these miniscule mites on our faces, but when the number proliferates, they are a problem especially when they invade the eyelids and eyebrows (demodex folliculorum). Symptoms (waking to white gunk stuck to the base of your eyelids) can lead to blepharitis as well as loss of eyelashes and eyebrows, and more serious eye problems.

    This post will be very meaningful to you if you think this might be affecting you. First look online at images of demodex mites and eyes. Then you’ll understand why I post this in reference to an article on eye worms (different but equally horrible), then read as much as you can. Few doctors will recognize the cause; few opthamologists have microscopes that can diagnose these critters and recommend proper topical treatments. Tea tree oil is one, but one must be extremely careful with this around the eyes. There’s a prescription wipe that is said to be helpful for use around the eyes. And if you have Rosacea, definitely look into this, especially before you are prescribed a medication known as flagyl, which can have significant side effects.

  10. fresno dan

    “Without insulin, people with Type 1 diabetes will die,” said David Nathan, a professor at Harvard Medical School, in an interview with the HPR. “And not over a long period of time, but over the course of a week.”
    On May 20, 2017, Smith turned 26, aging out of his parents’ insurance. Because he was a single man with a decent job, Smith didn’t qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The most inexpensive plan Smith and his mother could find on the Minnesota exchange was around $450 per month with a $7600 deductible….Although the family had been researching plans for Smith since February, he had to go off of health insurance entirely.
    On June 25, Smith went to dinner with his girlfriend, where he complained about stomach pains. It was the last time anyone saw him alive. He called in sick to work the next day. On June 27, Smith was found dead in his apartment.

    There are no generic insulins. Over the past twenty years, prices for the most commonly prescribed “analog” insulins have risen from about $20 per vial to well over $250 per 10 mL vial, an over 700% increase after accounting for inflation*. In contrast, insulin today costs roughly five dollars per vial to produce. With deductibles far outpacing wages, insulin has become unaffordable even for well-off Americans.
    I see this more frequently than I ever imagined as a HICAP volunteer. I always thought that there was some program, some mechanism, some means, maybe obscure and difficult to find, that if only people availed themselves of it, people would not die simply because they could not afford a medication. I was wrong. If you don’t have money, your life means nothing in this country.

    *deflation in TV’s, rampant inflation in what is necessary to be ALIVE

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Go die.” “Just die.” “Hurry up and die.” “Stop being a burden and cost center.” Lots of ways to spell it out. But: “Don’t die before we have extracted all your labor and wealth.”

      What was it that Martin Shkreli (and was it the CEO of AmGen, Genentech or one of the other govt-benefitted “biotech firms,” speaking about the $120,000 or so price of a dose of genetically engineered breast cancer treatment) said about the “price points” for the meds they “owned?” “If you want it, you’ll just have to pay the price.” Profit is GOD. Oops, GOOD.

      In today’s Davos piece, one commenter referred to the likely impossibility of “protecting the internal market of the US” in any move to reverse neoliberal globalization. Reducing maybe 120 million Flyover Mopes to just a neoliberal category, without even a sense of the irony. “That’s just the way it is,” I guess… so deeply has the memetrope penetrated into all possible discourse…

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Every Capitalist’s dream: inelastic demand. Some salient examples: life-critical health care and drinking water.

      1. Altandmain

        Food might be another example.

        In the developing world, when food prices go up, riots occur.

        I agree though. Every rent seekers dream. Inelastic demand and limited competition.

    3. Pat

      It was my cat developing diabetes, and my discovery of the patent greed of the cost of insulin that was my wake up call regarding the absurdity of the profit must be protected health plans of our government. Not only did I discover that the cost of a vial of insulin was outrageous, I found that every few months it got more outrageous.
      (My cat only needed small amounts so I only needed to buy a vial every few months and every time the cost went up.) And when Mylan managed to head off the engineered ‘generic’ version of Lantus Glargine, with the owners of Levemir not far behind it was galling to anyone following along, since that ability was what was going to bring the astronomical costs down.

      Unregulated Pharma, and for all intents and purposes it is unregulated, is a menace. And our political system, our patent system and our so-called health system, not only protects them it rewards them. It is only one factor in why we have a poor and dying populace, a crumbling health care infrastructure and yes, less and less health care workers with both the means and the will to continue to try to help people find health care or provide them with it when they cannot afford it. And that is anymore most of this country.

      Thank you Slim for being one of those people still struggling to make a broken system work as best it can for everyone.

      1. marieann

        I was just thinking of my cat who had diabetes as I was reading these comments. This was a few years ago and I put him on an insulin that was shipped in from Texas, I think, with the shipping costs it was about 20 dollars.

        I eventually got him off insulin by cutting out the dry food…..he managed for a few years before kidney disease took him.

    4. 10leggedshadow

      A friend, a type 1 diabetic, lost her job. She told me insulin costs $500 a vial and that her doctor’s office would give her one vial every 2 weeks.

    5. kareninca

      “There are no generic insulins.”

      Please don’t spread that misinformation. It is killing people. In fact, I hope that NC will post an article about cheap insulin, as follows:

      You can buy insulin (without even needing a prescription in many states) at Walmart for $25: It is harder to use than the fancy new stuff, and it is not as good in certain ways, but it works. Here is an article about it:

      Fresno Dan, I just called my local Walmart’s pharmacy, in Mountain View CA. The pharmacist assured me that I could come right in and pay $25 for a vial of their insulin. You are in CA. Please do not tell the people you are counseling that they can’t afford insulin. Unless they can’t afford $25.

      The man who died in the Harvard article lived in Minnesota. Here is an article that mentions that one can buy cheap generic insulin in Minnesota: (“Some patients are encouraged to buy a cheaper, generic form of the older type of insulin, but physicians say it’s not as effective as newer forms.”
      “Now we are having to teach people how to use the older insulins because so many people can’t afford modern insulin,” said Fish.)

      If you want to know how to use it, read Dr. Bernstein’s book; also there are loads of articles online re how to use it.

      I am NOT claiming that this is a good answer. The old generic stuff is not as good; of course people should have access to the better new stuff. But the old generic insulin is keeping many poor people alive, every day. Making people think there is nothing they can do is deadly. In the years to come people may need more workarounds like this, rather than fewer, and we need to spread the word about them.

      1. Oregoncharles

        A potentially lifesaving comment, Karen. Thank you – and no, I’m not diabetic. I have friends that are, though.

      2. fresno dan

        February 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks for that information – I did not know that. I’ll pass those links on.
        One of the problems is that we go by the medicine that is prescribed by physicians.
        I often ask beneficiaries if they have talked to their doctors about the cost of their medicines, and the responses run the gamut from the prescribed medication is the only one that is effective to this is the one the doctor wants me to use.
        But I agree, any insulin is better than no insulin.
        And being a cynic, and the whole monetization of medicine thing, I can’t help wondering how many physicians have been “incented” to prescribe ONLY the formulary of their network

          1. kareninca

            Hmmm, so maybe the fact that it doesn’t require a prescription in many states is keeping people (and their doctors?) from knowing about it. So only the poor people who have been using it all along know about it and tell each other, but middle class people who fall on hard times don’t find out about it since it isn’t RX and they don’t chat with the right poor people. No, it’s not the same as “modern insulin”; it is plain old insulin; no bells and whistles. Using it beats dying, however. The Walmart pharmacist (Mountain View, CA) that I talked with actually seemed excited at the chance of telling me that yes it was available.

  11. Noah Bodhi

    On “Facebook’s next project: American inequality”: “Oh my! Why do I have this hoard of money and all of you have none. Let me study that a while and give you my results!”

    The arrogance and blindness of these technocrats…

    1. Off The Street

      That Politico article was scary. Facebook and its neighbor Google are the top two companies that I try to avoid whenever possible. The first one is somewhat easier since I am in the wrong demographic and don’t care about repetitious high school stories. However I do recognize how any photo tags or other discoverable connections may be exploited by clever AI to piece together some composite of me and mine. When so many have been racing headlong toward total information turnover, it is harder to maintain some semblance of anonymity.

      The prospect of some DNA-gathering bot army doesn’t seem so far-fetched when they know (see above) where you live and what you do. That paper cup you threw away, just more evidence to gather. Just wait until the bids come out for those trash collector contracts. The subsidy needed to gain control of that supply chain would be pocket change to the dynamic duo.

      To paraphase something I recall seeing recently: Pay no attention to my bots, they’re just on a fact-finding mission.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Maybe zuck and his stanford buddy should just amble on over to East Palo Alto, knock on a few doors of the RVs that serve as home to the region’s teachers and service workers, and get their ideas.

      It’s only a couple of miles from their luxury enclave–probably wouldn’t even break a sweat.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Re Cockburn on Oxfam: We loves us our hypocrisy, both as practicing hypocrites, and in wallowing in the great pleasure that comes from labeling others as hypocrites. At the moment I looked, there were NO comments on the Cockburn article. Which dared to point out (who knows whether factually correct, of course, in this inter-Media-aged world) that Oxfam workers were struggling to help contain and treat the cholera epidemic that the UN’s sending “troop carriers” (UN soldiers from South Asia carrying cholera pathogens) to do whatever they were doing in Haiti.

      I recall reading that in times of universal death and decimation, the human proclivity to fornicate madly goes into overdrive. Maybe denying death, by “dying” (a Victorian synonym for “orgasm?”), maybe our deep genetic programming telling those in the zone of death to pump out the gametes and conjoin in an effort to prevent extinction of our raddled species?

  12. Richard

    I didn’t see a link above, but there is some great “captured in the moment” dialogue in an interview between Jill Stein and some face (didn’t catch the name) on MSNBC. The interviewer has Stein on to berate her, specifically to ask her over and over, did she know that there were the Facebook ads up supporting her? The 2 ads. Did she know they were there? The two Russian ones?
    And Stein responds, of course not, out of trillions of ads there? Then Stein adds that since we’re on the subject of influencing media coverage, shouldn’t the billions of dollars of free coverage MSNBC (along with other corporate sources) gave Trump in 2016 also be considered? And considering that, doesn’t it make this question look ridiculous?
    The interviewer: “Yes but that wasn’t Russian influence, let’s get back to….”
    Stein’s jaw nearly drops to the flow. The interviewer, caught in the full spirit (and script) of McCarthyism didn’t even seem to notice…
    I saw it on Jimmy Dore, but others may start covering it too. I’m not a Green, or even a Stein fan really, but I never saw her look better.

      1. Richard

        That’s it thanks! I love the banners below Stein as she is speaking, accusing her of being a russian tool, but not really. Jesus what a purveyor is MSNBC and what a country is we.
        Never have a people been so consistently and unremittingly lied to. I only mention because I think we forget sometimes.

        1. Olga

          Reminds me of a mass psychosis… But not the only one – there was that instance of a nazi Germany back whenever… Did not end too well.

  13. The Rev Kev

    Only China can solve the North Korea problem – by inviting it to come underneath its own nuclear umbrella

    I doubt that that would happen. That would mean that not only would North Korea totally depend on another country to keep out an American attack/invasion but that both South and North Korea would have to harden up the border dividing them whereas I have the impression that they both would like to have it a bit more porous in places.
    In places like Afghanistan you have a tradition of ‘me against my brother, my brother and I against our cousin, my brother and cousin and I against the outside invader.’ I think that there is something similar going on in Korea. Both North and South Korea have a ton of issues between each other but both are united in having the Chinese and Japanese stay out of their affairs. May be that is why you do not see any Chinese bases in North Korea nor do you see any Japanese bases in South Korea.
    Left to their own devices, they would probably come to some accommodation. Which is precisely why they won’t be allowed to.

    1. rd

      North Korea developed its nuclear weapons to maintain its independence and not allow China and Russia to overthrow the regime for fear of losing their own cities. They can rant at the US and play up unification with South Korea but it is really only China and Russia that can take out the North Korean regime. By ranting at the US, they make their weapons known to Russia and China but never threaten them.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just like Mao and China wanted to be independent of Moscow and the USSR in the 1950’s, so too do Kim and North Korea want not to be controlled by Beijing today.

    2. Olga

      I’ve heard that about Afgh., but not sure you’re right about the Koreas. This is from the MoA:
      “Peter Lee, aka @chinahand, gives a good lecture on the history of Korea’s testy relations with the U.S.-Japanese alliance – At the Olympics, South Korea Says “Enough” to a Century of Japanese and U.S. Betrayal.”
      Peter Lee is quite an expert; here is the link to his piece (the video is really good):

    1. Wukchumni

      “Hospitals are bombed, terror rained, it’s not even mentioned.”

      Hey, that sounds like our playbook since 9/11. What do they think they’re doing stealing our thunder?

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers

      Spring Texan,

      i’m most worried too that you should link to more Guardian crap regarding events in Syria – however, The Guardian’s writers are so good, they either travel with hand choppers, or, pontificate out of an apartment in Lebanon; Perhaps this link will assist, but also suggest you visit Sic Semper Tyrannis, which paints a different picture to Western Imperialist propaganda perpetuated by the MSM:

    3. todde

      maybe we should consider these things before we arm people who will hid behind women and children in urban areas.

      What did Albright say about the Iraqi children: ‘It is worth it”

    4. cocomaan

      Given that Syria is a playground for other powers, I can’t really get too upset about it considering that the country has been a meat grinder since the Arab Spring, give or take a year.

      Assad has thrown in with the Russians and yes, we’re powerless to stop it. If we were more powerful, or more belligerent, what would we do? Send in troops to fight in the streets? Kill russians on our way to Assad, put him in handcuffs and cart him to the Hague?

      I just don’t see a good solution here from any western intervention. Our interventions so far – clandestine, black ops, training, whatever – haven’t done a single lick of good. Just like the other countries drawn up under WW1 agreements, Syria requires a strongman in order to show any semblance of calm and lawfulness.

    5. JohnnyGL

      Do recall when our hyperbolic media in the US had the audacity to scream about the battle in Aleppo as a “genocide” during a presidential debate. Turns out Russia wasn’t behaving any worse than the US did in Mosul, which was happening simultaneously.

      Lesson to learn….urban warfare is disgusting, no matter who’s conducting it, especially if you use air power and don’t want to take lots of casualties.

      Here’s the real question….if the Russia/Assad/Syria coalition are so awful, then why are hundreds of thousands of refugees returning to Syria?

      Western news media would have you believe they’re marching like lemmings off a cliff. Perhaps we’re not being told the full story?

      1. JohnnyGL

        You may or may not be correct with your accusations of trolling, but I think it’s only fair to start with a presumption of good faith.

        There’s a lot of poorly-informed people and if we think we’ve got the story right, we should aim to convince as such.

    6. Olga

      Dear texan, I’d be worried more about getting accurate information and having comprehensive understanding of the situation.

    7. integer

      Here’s an OffGuardian review of another article written by Simon Tisdall on Russia:

      Guardian’s “Putin stealing election” shows new wave of Russia-hate being rolled out OffGuardian

      Fact-based reality is not the one Tisdall and his peers live in any more. They don’t see it. And when it’s presented to them they think it’s Kremlin propaganda. In the matter of Russia they have become over the last few years blind and deaf to reason and fact. They are the most dangerous of deceivers – those who believe their own lies. Even the best of them now truly thinks anyone who questions their Russia=Evil narrative is a paid Kremlin agent. These well-paid supposedly well-educated people are on Twitter literally asking anyone who challenges them what the weather is like in St. Petersburg.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yep. Bana from Aleppo is still in Turkey but I understand that they have some other kid to take her place here. What will not be mentioned is that East Ghouta is just outside the Capital of Damascus and that they keep lobbing shells towards the city’s inhabitants. Could you see any other country tolerating a viper’s nest just outside their capital city? London? Washington? Paris?
        Have already seen lots of agitprop on the TV news with even recycled film clips. Also, the al-Nusra Civil Defense aka the White Helmets is once again in action. Can you believe that this mob are up for yet another Academy award nomination again this year? Some film called “Last Men in Aleppo”. Liberal Hollywood at its finest.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Inquisitor Mueller files another vagrancy lying to the FBI charge against some obscure nobody:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller is charging a man who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates with making false statements to federal officials.

    Alex Van Der Zwaan is charged with making “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to the special counsel’s office and FBI agents.

    Van Der Zwaan allegedly lied about his last communications with Gates and deleted emails requested by the special counsel’s office, according to the indictment.

    In our over-criminalized, post-rule of law regime, the non-crime of lying to the lying FBI is the federal equivalent of a jaywalking rap.

    Let us note in passing that while deleting emails requested by the special counsel’s office is a serious matter, deleting 30,000 emails requested by Congress is “extremely careless” but not criminal. “No reasonable prosecutor …” etc

    Mueller’s arbitrary and desperate abuse of the mighty power of the US clowngov is yet another wounded-animal cry of pain from the Deep State over its botched “we’re with her” election.

    On with the circus … bring on the dancing girls!

    1. cocomaan

      Just another reminder to people: if the FBI swings by your door, don’t talk to them at all. Don’t give them any documents. Don’t speak to them. Insist on a lawyer, then drain your savings to find the best one you can.

      The problem with this strategy is that you can bet they’ll go COINTELPRO on your rear end, going out of their way to monitor/surveil you until you break from the pressure. Then the thugs can find the single mistake you made, exploit it, and hang your figuative carcass out for the press to repeat the surveillance and monitoring all over again.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Yes, but doing the COINTELPRO thing certainly makes their job HARDER!

        It seems even with that, they’re still having trouble tackling Trump’s crew.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Actually, it is against the law to lie to the FBI—and any other federal agency or institution. I didn’t know it either till I looked it up.

      …Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code [adopted in 1948] generally prohibits knowingly and willfully making false or fraudulent statements, or concealing information, in “any matter within the jurisdiction” of the federal government of the United States, even by merely denying guilt when asked by a federal agent.

      — Wikipedia

      So, yeah, best not to say anything.

  15. Whatwolf?

    What would happen if Corbyn win? Do we get another Trump again?

    Trump talked the talk, but as soon as he was inaugurated he backs out of each and every of his promises:
    – no Clinton in jail, ramping up wars, nothing being done to the opiod crisis etc – either because he is a liar or because the vested interests laid down the land for him.

    What do we get with Corbyn?

    1. RMO

      Trump is (and always has been) a B.S. artist. Corbyn isn’t. Neither is Sanders. Corbyn may have trouble getting his policies enacted if elected but he would almost certainly try his utmost. I note that despite all the angst over the dangers of a Trump presidency he managed to make it through the media and party gatekeepers to be allowed to run in the election whereas Sanders wasn’t. There may be a moral there somewhere about what our beneficent overlords truly fear.

      1. Whatwolf?

        Ok so possibly not a liar, but will he then be shot down by the UK war monger/surveillance industry machine and the City?

        1. Mark P.

          will he then be shot down by the UK war monger/surveillance industry machine and the City?

          Come on. Is there any doubt they’ll try? They’re already prepping: he’s already being attacked as a communist agent.

    2. JinSEMI

      I met Corbyn 15 years ago at an antiwar event when he was a backbench gadfly. Much like Sanders, he hasn’t changed, everyone else caught up.

  16. fresno dan

    Koduri and Shahi represent a new kind of Silicon Valley parent. Instead of tricking out their homes with all the latest technology, many of today’s parents working or living in the tech world are limiting — and sometimes outright banning — how much screen time their kids get.

    The approach stems from parents seeing firsthand, either through their job, or simply by living in the Bay Area — a region home to the most valuable tech companies on Earth — how much time and effort goes into making digital technology irresistible.
    I have noted for years that there is something profoundly wrong that people spend more time with, and pay more attention to, a telephone than a live person sitting next to them.
    These people understand intuitively that there is something “uncanny” about how the real 3-D world is being supplanted by the ethereal 2-D world.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No.”

      At least until you’re fully committed to that computer.

      It’s like that song, Who is laughing now.

      Perhaps we’re witnessing the birth of a new religion.

    2. Eclair

      Just because your corporation rewards you (and your family) with tons of money, it doesn’t follow that you will allow your children and other loved ones to partake of your product.

      Do CEO’s of tobacco companies bring home packs of cigarettes so their children can start smoking at a young age? Do the CEO’s of Nestle stock their pantries with Doritos, Butterfingers, Nescafe instant coffee, Tombstone Pizzas and Coffeemate? Do Suncor executives situate mansions next to their refineries, so their progeny can benefit from breathing the rich noxious gases ? Do drug dealers sprinkle cocaine over their infants’ organic pablum?

  17. Wukchumni

    A Serious Push for Free College in California The Nation.

    There’s free tuition to colleges all across the land, that is you don’t intend to attend a brick & mortar institution of higher learning, and instead soak up the vast array of knowledge on this here contraption.

    Granted, it’d be hard to explain to a prospective employer that you’re an interent summa cum laude, and your education didn’t stop as happens all too often with those that receive their diploma in a traditional setting-and is ongoing, but i’m sure they’ll understand.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If there is extra cash in Sacramento, maybe it should go to the homeless first.

      Or free health care for all CA residents first.

      Free college only benefits few.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        At the time my feral friends and I mounted a small-scale counter-counter-recreational drugs initiative, meetings mostly consisted of sampling the wares and our motto was:

        “Just Say Yo”

    2. jrs

      Free college is just another conspiracy to lower wages maybe (not really much different than immigration). College educated people (uh some of the lucky ones) are still EARNING TOO MUCH. Thus flood the market. ‘

      Now is it morally better to have fewer college educated people who earn more than the non-college educated proles, or have more college grads living much more like the proles? From my perspective it makes little difference (and neither will likely produce a revolution). I want radical egalitarianism (that takes down the 1%) regardless of education etc.. But from the point of view of the 1% seeking cheap help maybe they would prefer more people to go to college. From an individual point of view free college also seems a good deal and IS, but thinking systematically and society wide, which we should, it is less so.

    3. JerseyJeffersonian

      From the liner notes to the 1966 album, Freakout, by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. This seems to speak to your point, eh?

      1. HUNGRY FREAKS, DADDY…(3:27) was written for Carl Orestes Franzoni. He is freaky down to his toenails. Some day he will live next door to you and your lawn will die. Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. [My bolding…] Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.

  18. Jim Haygood

    Unable to feed itself from its own revenues, a helpless hand-to-mouth giant borrows $179 billion today:

    11:30am: U.S. to Sell $51BN 3-Month Bills
    11:30am: U.S. to Sell $45BN 6-Month Bills
    1pm: U.S. to Sell $55BN 4-Week Bills
    1pm: U.S. to Sell $28BN 2-Year Notes

    The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a Republican form of government” — former “constitution,” section IV

    Bwa ha ha ha …

  19. JohnnyGL

    This is really shocking stuff….

    Nearly three-quarters of Americans age 17 to 24 are ineligible for the military due to obesity, other health problems, criminal backgrounds or lack of education, according to government data.

    and this…

    “Obesity and the percentage of people overweight in the country has just skyrocketed in the last 10 to 15 years,” he added in an interview. “Asthma is going up. High school graduation rates are still just barely acceptable and in some big cities they are miserable. Criminality is also not going away. We have to face the reality that these things in some cases are getting worse, not better.”

    Wow, neoliberal destruction of society has become so extensive that it’s jamming up the gears of the war machine recruitment process???

    My god, it’s getting like Victorian-era Britain before WWI when they realized they’d run the place into the ground so badly that they couldn’t defend themselves.

    Also note the article comments about how anytime unemployment gets low-ish, recruiting runs into problems. It doesn’t even need to be a STRONG job market, just a vaguely acceptably good one.

    1. fresno dan

      February 20, 2018 at 11:23 am

      It certainly is shocking – the level of obesity. However, couches with big screen in front of them are perfect training for drone operators…
      Eligibility for military duty are only words on paper – the REAL prerequisite is a killing spirit….and where is more mass killing done than in “Merica?

      We only need guys who look like the “ROCK” to be on the big screen (liberal, liberal Hollywood I tell ya, it drives me insane) to sell the idea of going off to foreign lands to kill bad guys

      1. Wukchumni

        The claim is that a drone jockey in Las Vegas-adjacent can put the hurt on a passel of middle easterns in the afternoon and catch a Cirque du Soleil show with a 2 drink minimum in the evening.

    2. cnchal

      Who knew that a high carb sugar laden diabetes inducing diet would prevent millions of kids from getting military induced brain damage? Lose – win!

    3. Olga

      Not to mention debts GB racked up fighting useless wars before WWI even started. Does that remind anyone of another power….?

    4. VietnamVet

      The elite really have done a job on the little people if only 25% of young adults can serve in their wars. Another ominous sign is the media’s rising hysteria over Russian bots sowing discord in the homeland. It looks like the endless wars are coming to a head.

      The propaganda today is worse than the lead up to the Iraq Invasion. In 2003 the movement of troops and tanks beforehand made clear the war was going to happen. This time there are just a few thousand troops isolated in Eastern Syria and Ukraine.

      Will there be one last crazy throw of the dice to try to loot Russia? A nuclear Barbarossa? It can’t be just to goad President Trump into resigning.

  20. Jean

    “College in California used to be almost free”,
    Trigger warning: I found this article informative although coming from a very conservative viewpoint.

    “But by the mid-1960s, student fees and nonresident tuition contributed just 6 percent to the university system’s annual budget. Two developments contributed to this increased economic egalitarianism in California’s university system. One was a large inflow of federal research money beginning with World War II. At the war’s height, federal funds constituted more than 60 percent of the university system’s budget. The other development was the massive influx of new residents starting with the Great Depression, when down-and-outers from financially devastated U.S. regions flocked to California in search of a better future. Then, with the end of World War II, the influx burgeoned as California fostered an economic growth explosion reflecting the zesty 1950s, when America’s gross domestic product constituted some 50 percent of global output. California’s population, 1.5 million in 1900, exceeded 10 million by 1950. A decade later it was 16 million.”

  21. Anon

    RE: Fungi article

    I’m fascinated with all the new methods of scientific inquiry that allow us to recreate/imagine how the planet developed. No doubt fungi played a role in oxygenating the planets atmosphere. But the authors of this article need to use Wikipedia more often. See: Cyanobacteria (Blue/Green algae). Many scientists believe the first planet derived oxygen came from cyanobacteria (likely surviving in vast shallow seas across the planet) that could extract Nitrogen/CO2 (for photosynthesis) directly from the ancient atmosphere while generating the oxygen that later animals were to require for their evolution.

    In any case, lets better appreciate the fungi on our cheese.

  22. Wukchumni

    The last round of new hires goes into the ground this week, Ben Davis, Cinnamon Spice, Golden Russet, Honeycrisp, Smokehouse & Winecrisp. Once upon a time Ben Davis apple trees were everywhere in these United States, and it’s nickname was “mortgage lifter” on account of the income it provided to those that had them in their orchard.

            1. Aumua

              Yes, but the apple could not have been copy/pasted forever. It must have some origin. There must have been an original apple, somewhere.

  23. Edward E

    Sinabung’s Massive Explosion Seen from Space

    Erik Klemetti

    “Even with the relative size of the eruption, there is no chance this causes any climate impact. The initial estimates of sulfur released are too low to cause much atmosphere effects and the height of the plume wasn’t tall enough to reach the stratosphere. Current estimates of the ash plume are between 5-7 kilometers, so between 16,000-20,000 feet (down from the initial guesses of over 50,000 feet).”

    ~Yes, it would take a huge eruption(s) to impact the climate in a significantly cold way for any length of time. The chances of a solar grand minimum affecting anything are pretty slim also. This is something a few of us have discussed in the past. Don’t worry be happy. I’ve talked to Leif Svalgaard, he loves to share.

    “It has been established that the polar fields of the Sun are a good predictor of the next sunspot cycle. The current polar fields point to cycle 25 being a bit stronger than SC24, likely to be between cycle 20 and cycle 24:

  24. BlueMoose

    Can’t wait to read all the comments tomorrow about latest RBS clusterf*ck. Guess they were tired of Well’s Fargo getting all the attention and were determined not to be outdone.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bankers are not cats.

      The following is not suitable for cat lovers.

      From Wikipedia, on Zen monk Nanquan:

      Once the monks of the eastern and western Zen halls were quarrelling about a cat. Nansen held up the cat and said, “You monks! If one of you can say a word, I will spare the cat. If you can’t say anything, I will put it to the sword.” No one could answer, so Nansen finally slew it. In the evening, when Joshu returned, Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu, thereupon, took off his sandals, put them on his head and walked off. Nansen said, “If you had been there, I could have spared the cat.”[4]

  25. integer

    Israel mounts fresh military assault on Gaza WSWS

    The strikes followed an explosion during a demonstration of Palestinians on the southern border with Israel Saturday that injured four Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers in response. It was the worst such border incident since Israel’s war against Gaza in 2014 and portends a broader offensive…

    Last year, a United Nations report stated that the living conditions for two million Palestinians had deteriorated “further and faster” than the prediction made in 2012 that the enclave would become “unlivable” by 2020. Large numbers of people are destitute. Forty-six percent of the population are without work. Sixty five percent live on $1.90 or less a day. This collapse in purchasing power has led to a huge drop in the number of trucks entering Gaza with food and equipment—from 800-1,200 a day to just 300…

    There is no escape from this open-air prison. Israel has surrounded the Gaza Strip with a high-tech barrier and spent almost $1 billion building an underground-barrier project to seal its border to the attack tunnels into Israel. It controls two of the three exit points, while Egypt controls the third. Last year, Israel issued one-third of the number of exit visas issued two years earlier and just one percent of the number in early 2000. Movement between the two Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank, in either direction is all but impossible.

  26. Oregoncharles

    The RBS story describes it as “a bank with such an ignoble recent history.” How can a bank that the country’s most prominent paper describes that way even continue to exist? Don’t they depend a great deal on customer confidence?

    For that matter, the same question applies here.

    1. Anonymous2


      It looks as though the gloves are coming off. Tory MPs threatening to withdraw support for May’s policy unless she meets their demands. The ultras have broken cover.

      Can May get support from enough people in other parties to push past them? Time will tell.


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