Links 2/7/18

‘I couldn’t believe it’: Tofte photographer stumbles on rare lynx sighting Duluth News Tribune (Chuck L)

The first Britons were black, Natural History Museum DNA study reveals Telegraph (furzy)

AI May Have Just Decoded a Mystical 600-Year-Old Manuscript That Baffled Humans for Decades Art Net (Chuck L)

Models Coming into Agreement on Widespread Effects of Arctic Sea Ice Loss Weather Underground (resilc)

First step towards flying cars: Incredible footage shows driverless drone flying people around China Thai Tech (furzy)

Nuclear Reactors, Bankrupting Their Owners, Closing Early Counterpunch

Floods Are Getting Worse, and 2,500 Chemical Sites Lie in the Water’s Path New York Times (resilc)

Bitcoin price will crash to zero, Nouriel Roubini says CNBC (Kevin W)

Eating Leafy Greens Each Day Tied to Sharper Memory, Slower Decline NPR (David L)

Men with an excess of older brothers are more likely to be gay — and a maternal immune response may explain why PsyPost (Chuck L)

Meet India’s women Open Source warriors FactorDaily (Chuck L)

Trump considers “bloody nose” strike on North Korea Defend Democracy (furzy)


Brexit: EU to have power to punish UK at will during transition Guardian. Help me. This is not “at will” which implies the EU can do it at a whim. It is if the UK breaks rules and the EU thinks it won’t be able to get enforcement in time. Recall that the ECJ won’t have jurisdiction after the end of the transition period.

EU toughens Brexit transition demands Politico

Polish president signs Holocaust bill, drawing rare U.S. rebuke Washington Post (Kevin W)

Canada PM Trudeau faces PC backlash over ‘peoplekind’ comment BBC (Kevin W)


Is The Turkish Attack On Afrin Intended To Split The U.S.-Kurdish Alliance? Moon of Alabama (Chuck L)

Gaza hospitals shut down as deadly siege tightens Electronic Initifada (AFXH)

Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown Asia Times (Chuck L)

Unicef recruits gamers to mine Ethereum in aid of Syrian children Guardian. Resilc: “What about the child miners in the Congo for smartphone minerals?”

In Baltimore, Brazen Officers Took Every Chance to Rob and Cheat New York Times (resilc)

PlutoniumKun: “Interesting contrast in theories about the shooting down of the Russian Su-25 in Syria. Nobody seems to be asking where the missile came from. MoA speculates that it may have been deliberately provided by the US:”

Syria – Is The Turkish Attack On Afrin Intended To Split The U.S.-Kurdish Alliance? Moon of Alabama

While War Is Boring suggests it was a Russian missile, stolen from Kurds in Afrin.

A Russian Pilot Died While Attacking Civilians in Syria War Is Boring

Imperial Collapse Watch

Streamlined MV-22 Maintenance: From 70 Osprey Types Down to 5 Breaking Defence. Kevin W: “You read that right. There are 129 of these planes which come in 70 variations!”

Trump Transition

How the Republican Party Lost Its Mind Esquire (resilc)

Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade Washington Post

Trump: ‘Let’s Have a Shutdown’ If No Immigration Deal Daily Beast (furzy)

Trump’s Failure in Puerto Rico Was Even Worse Than We Knew New York Magazine (resilc). Not if you’ve been reading Lambert’s coverage!

Why We Should Fear the ‘Washington Establishment’ Figures Who are Pulling the Strings in the Trump Administration Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch

Health Care

Trump administration ponders lifetime benefit limits for Medicaid McClatchy. In addition to hitting those with chronic ailments (like those with HIV who are covered in New York), the other group hit hard would be those in nursing homes. Will dumping Alzheimer’s patients be the new normal? Or are family members supposed to let them wander out into traffic and have nature take its course?

House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill as Leaders Eye Long-Term Plan Bloomberg

The Democrats’ False Choice American Prospect

Modern “Liberals” Are 1950s Authoritarians Caitlin Johnstone (Randy K). Prefigured in the movie The Big Chill, but the move to the right has continued.

Pennsylvania’s Baby Trump Wants to Impeach Judges He Doesn’t Like Daily Beast

In the News: Americans’ Satisfaction With Their Healthcare Gallup. Wish I had time to study the poll questions and ordering for bias.

Fake News

I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again. New York Times (resilc)

Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study Guardian

Locked track switch blamed in fatal South Carolina Amtrak crash Reuters (EM)

Chevrolet Sold One (1) New Car In The United Kingdom Last Month Jalopnik (resilc)

US startups are shunning IPOs. That’s bad news for Americans Quartz (Chuck L)

Interview with Jim Bianco: «Investors should be careful what they wish for» Finanz und Wirtschaft

Class Warfare

Story: Livery driver blamed politicians for his financial ruin before City Hall suicide

2017 Distressed Communities Index Economic Innovation Group (resilc)

Why Ethical Robots Might Not Be Such a Good Idea After All IEEE (David L)

The 2017 DCI finds that 52.3 million Americans live in economically distressed communities—the one-fifth of zip codes that score worst on the DCI. That represents one in six Americans, or 17 percent of the U.S. population.

German union wins right to 28-hour working week Financial Times

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus video. This story is a bit long but still very heartening:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. integer

    Re: Trump considers “bloody nose” strike on North Korea

    Noticing a resurgence of articles on this topic over the last week or so, I decided to look into it a few days ago. The origin of the “bloody nose” talking point in the media was this article in The Telegraph. That article requires one to register and log in so here is a contemporaneous article that references it:

    US preparing ‘bloody nose’ attack on North Korea New York Post

    The Telegraph cited three anonymous sources, one inside the administration and two former officials familiar with the White House thinking.

    “The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious,” a former US security official briefed on policy told the Telegraph.

    While there is no denying that Trump has been playing the brink(s)manship game with Jong Un, which is somewhat reckless (but in line with Trump’s usual tactics when sizing up opponents), I highly doubt he would initiate military action against North Korea in the absence of North Korea attacking another country first. In my opinion the recent D party letter on the subject is just political grandstanding.

    1. RenoDino

      The following article from a few weeks back is the best one I’ve seen that really lays out the all the options and the rationale for a preemptive strike by an objective and reluctant warrior. Trump is probably embracing the strategy and tactics that make a limited first strike seem possible. I doubt if he will heed the general’s advice to be willing to give in on many negotiating points in order to secure peace. I also doubt Trump will follow the playbook the general outlines to set a date certain and work towards it. Look, instead, for a surprise attack.

      1. RabidGandhi

        That article is bat family blog crazy. A “reluctant warrior” who’s cool with picking a fight that would– in his own admitted best case scenario– result in serious damage to Seoul, once again with hundreds of thousands of dead Koreans.

        Then there’s the zany assumptions that only beltway insiders in their reality-bereft bubbles can believe: Iran has/had a nuclear weapons programme… the US wanted to stop Pakistan from getting the bomb… the US can’t persuade Israel to disarm… DPRK would conduct a first strike… the US would like a nuke-free mideast (as proposed several times by Iran and flatly rejected by the US)… China and Russia do not benefit from having a third party nuclear buffer against US incursion in their region… That’s the entire article: one continuous neo-con fantasy land that would make Lewis Carroll blush.

        This “sober” end of the blob mindset shows that nothing has changed in Washington since the last time they decimated Korea. God help us all.

        1. visitor

          I actually found the article interesting in two respects:

          1) There is the renewed belief that, this time, the USA can really win a war only from the air and that the measures taken by the North Koreans will not matter because technology has advanced so much that artillery and infrastructure for producing atomic bombs can be destroyed reliably.

          How many times have we heard that tune already?

          2) The realization that the USA will not be able to eschew major concessions if negotiations are to have some chance of success.

          That is perhaps a bit new from the mouth of a general.

          His suggested plan however has a major flaw:

          the playbook the general outlines to set a date certain and work towards it.

          As soon as the USA have publicized a deadline, the North Koreans will immediately drop everything they are doing and work non-stop to prepare for war. And that also means taking decoy and camouflage measures to thwart the oh so infallible electronic reconnaissance-based airborne offensive — such as scattering their stockpile of nuclear bombs to prepare a retaliation.

          The offensive would also require perfect coordination between the air force, marines, navy and CIA, at least.

          Kein Plan überlebt die erste Feindberührung.
          (No plan survives the first contact with the enemy).

          Generalfeldmarschall Helmut Karl Bernhard von Moltke, chief of the Prussian general staff.

          1. Parker Dooley

            If I were Kim Jong Un, I would place my nukes way north, right near Vladivostok. Go ahead, Donald — nuke the Russo-Chinese-Korean border towns and see how limited your bloody nose turns out to be. Doesn’t anyone look at a map?

            1. neo-realist

              Good point about placing nukes near the Russian border.

              I believe whatever nukes Kim has are already scattered throughout the country to minimize the impact of an attack on the stockpile. He also has a vast underground network of tunnels to move the weaponry around.

      2. Stephen Gardner

        I think that is funny: “objective and reluctant warrior”. How can you say that with a straight face? Those are just pretty words. Anyone contemplating taking on N. Korea for a silly principle (We can’t let Kim have nukes) is really crazier than the caricature version of Kim as portrayed in our mainstream propaganda nozzles. Kim is not crazy. He may be ruthless and evil but his nukes are a rational response to a crazed nation addicted to the narcotic effects of “regime change” as a solution to all political problems.

    2. DorothyT

      “Re: Trump considers ‘bloody nose’ strike on NK”

      Regardless of pro or anti Trump persuasion, Democratic or Republican, it’s hard for me to disagree with this excerpt from the article. This would be the consummate dangerous Trump attempt at changing the atmosphere around the Mueller investigation. Consequences are unimaginable. Would it be followed by the military parade he’s reportedly ordered?

      Unprovoked US aggression, however, would almost certainly trigger retaliation, rather than submission, with incalculable consequences. Even if nuclear weapons were not immediately used, the death toll in South Korea alone is estimated in the tens of thousands on the first day, in a conflict that could rapidly draw in nuclear-armed powers such as China and Russia.

      Yet, such an act of recklessness and savagery is precisely what is being discussed, debated and prepared in the upper echelons of the White House and the US security-intelligence apparatus. Within top military-foreign policy circles, the advanced nature of the plans is so well known that it is generating fears and opposition.

    3. tongorad

      Here in San Antonio, aka “Military Town USA,” I’ve noticed a recent uptick in loud military flyovers. Every time you look up int the sky it seems there’s military plane in the air.
      Time to go to War again!

  2. The Rev Kev

    First step towards flying cars: Incredible footage shows driverless drone flying people around China

    Hey, where are our flying cars? We’ve been promised them ever since the Chinese were running around wearing Mao suits and waving Little Red Books in each other’s faces and now they have them first? I thought by now we would have flying cars like in the “Fifth Element”-

    1. Wukchumni

      I had quite the epiphany a decade ago landing in Auckland. As we were waiting in line to go through customs, the passengers of a flight from Beijing began queueing up behind us, wearing the latest Paris fashions and clutching mauve passports. A different sort of cultural revolution was on display.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Chinese mainlanders queuing *behind* you? Well that would be a first lol.

        Are you sure the flight wasn’t from Taipei?

        1. Code Name D

          Dateline: 2180, massive flying car recall announced in the face of a growing trend of cars folding down to their suite-case size – with driver and passengers still inside.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The article neither says, nor implies, any such thing. The third paragraph makes it clear that the diesel fuel shortage its a resource issue, and that diesel fuel for hospital generators is required because of restricted electricity supplies from Israel.

  3. integer

    Re: Fake news sharing in US is a rightwing thing, says study

    For anyone who is interested, the list of websites this study classified as “junk news sources” can be found here. Clearly the authors of this study do not regard the disinformation pedaled by corporate liberal media outlets as “fake news”.

    1. Sid Finster

      Congressman Dick Armey (yes, that Dick Armey) said something very telling. “You tell me who did the study, and I’ll tell you what results they got.”

      Congressman Armey freely admitted that this works both ways.

  4. The Rev Kev

    In the News: Americans’ Satisfaction With Their Healthcare Gallup. Wish I had time to study the poll questions and ordering for bias.

    I would be very dubious trusting polls even though I see them plastered in so many newspapers online as if they were the final word. You can ask a question but get results you want by varying the location. Thus the people in financial district of a city CBD would answer a question on welfare different than if that question was asked in a depressed area.
    But if you want to see how to get the result you want by the the use of leading questions in an opinion poll, may I suggest you listen to a past master of the art in the form of “Yes Prime Minister”s Sir Humphrey Appleby?

  5. Alex

    Re Men with an excess of older brothers are more likely to be gay

    One consequence we should observe then is the lower percentages of homosexuals in places with the lower overall number of children per family. Of course holding all else equal which is not the case irl

    1. integer

      This finding also implies that in terms of genetic survival it is better for a man who intends to have multiple children to impregnate multiple women, rather than one woman multiple times.

      Anecdotally, I happen to know someone who took the former path, and he died in his 50’s of a stress-related heart condition.

      1. mini

        To be fair to evolution, since this event happened after making the children, we’ll put it in the ‘success’ column.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The one I know – 3 families, no idea how many children, but one of the youngest was just visiting us – is approaching 90 and doing not too badly, thank you. Apparently it’s rejuvenating, or something.

        Of course, you’re right that it’s safer to diversify your bets, but doesn’t necessarily give the kids the best start.

  6. allan

    Nunes: Fine, the FBI Didn’t Lie, But Its Font Was Too Small [New York]

    The central, and most damaging, accusation in the memo published Friday by House Republicans is that the FBI failed to disclose the bias of one of its sources when it applied to wiretap Carter Page. “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding [British agent Christopher] Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials,” charged the memo. …

    It’s not true. As the Ellen Nakashima reported, the application to wiretap Page did disclose that one of the sources of intelligence to generate suspicion that Page might be acting illegally came from a political source. It was mentioned in a footnote on the FISA application. Nunes was asked about this on Fox & Friends. He did not deny the point. Instead he insisted that it wasn’t good enough because the disclosure was merely a footnote. “A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign,” the distinguished Republican explained. …

    … except that, of course, a FISA application is classified and therefore not intended to let the American people,
    or the targets of the warrant, know anything.

    And, footnotes in a court filing? Get out.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think Nunez is right.

      A political source could mean the source was a politician…even in another country, say, France. And that would be very different from what we now know about the ‘political origins.’

      1. timbers

        Does not matter if the FBI told FISA where they got their evidence, or not, because the point is the evidence they gave to FISA shows Team Hillary did what they wanted a warrant from FISA to illegally spy on Trump for.

        It’s like something you’d read in The Onion.

    2. integer

      Jonathan Chait is a “self-described liberal hawk”. In any case, his conclusions, drawn from a WaPo article based on an anonymous source (from the DoJ no less), seem awfully strained to me, and his little font angle is ridiculous.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Also, among other things (including its font size), was the failure to point out that that political source stood to benefit from providing whatever information he/she/it provided…i.e. conflict of interest.

        1. integer

          I agree. Using the term “political source”, in all its vagueness, was almost certainly a deliberate attempt at obfuscation.

    3. timbers

      I hope you are not suggesting that it was OK for Team Obama to use “evidence” of – as Democrats would say if Trump had done it – obtained by “illegelally colluding with Russians to meddle in the election and destroy American democracy.”

      In other words, Team Obama asked FISA to spy on Trump because they suspected him of colluding w/Russians to meddle in the election by getting dirt on Hillary, because they said they had the report Hillary obtained by colluding with Russians to meddle in the election by getting dirt on Hillary,

      Thus what you should ask is, why is ONLY team Trump being prosecuted & investigated? Why isn’t Hillary and related Democrats being investigated and prosecuted? Neither side committed crimes relating to colluding w/Russians on elections (IMO) but one side is being investigated/prosecuted, and the other is not, and the side not being prosecuted even though they more closely did the “crime” what they are accusing the other side of doing.

      1. HopeLB

        Hillary and team always use this tactic of accusing their opponent of what they themselves are guilty of. Oddly, it continues to work.

  7. Carolinian

    Interesting Caitlin Johnstone but she may be stretching her point to suggest that Hollywood “liberals” like Rob Reiner are emblematic of their generation. After all these actors and directors are both very rich people and denizens of a community whose primary product is fantasy. The movie industry did embrace the counter culture for awhile with the anti-war, anti-violence themes of the 70s. But it then reverted to type with the success of scifi fantasy Star Wars and 80s military porn like Top Gun. As Pauline Kael said, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang–these days with the emphasis on the bang.

    Surely it’s time for a new counter culture, but we shouldn’t expect it to emanate from the shores of Malibu. They are a group of privileged people who live in a bubble and–to quote a line from a Rob Reiner movie–“can’t handle the truth.”

  8. Ignim Brites

    “Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown”.

    Got to hope this doesn’t result in a Russian attack on Turkey and a NATO article V triggering.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That article I think overstates the notion of a ‘Russian-Turkish axis’. All thats happened is that some sort of informal deal was made in which Russia did not oppose the Afrin invasion, while Turkey turned a blind eye to the Russians/Syrians making a major assault on the notionally pro-Turkish groups around Idlib.

      This doesn’t alter the reality that the Turks are absolutely committed to preventing a Kurdish homeland and are at loggerheads with the US over this. I doubt either the Turks or the Russians see it as anything but an arrangment of convenience. If Nato breaks up over this it will be because one or the other of Turkey or the US refuses to compromise or back down, the Russians will have little to do with it (apart of course from throwing on a little petrol onto the fire when they see an opportunity).

      1. Oregoncharles

        The end of NATO is long overdue, and Turkey has been moving away from it since they were (sensibly) excluded from the EU. Sensibly, because it isn’t geographically or culturally a European country.

  9. Wukchumni

    Models Coming into Agreement on Widespread Effects of Arctic Sea Ice Loss Weather Underground (resilc)
    In this, our winter of missed content, we too are experiencing widespread ice, er snow loss. Whether it’s correlated to the effects of the arctic melting out, I wouldn’t know. Take a look at this webcam for Mineral King in Sequoia NP. What little snow there is only exists on north facing slopes which get the least sun exposure. There’s probably a foot of snow on the first photo of Farewell Gap (10,587) and not one snowflake on the second photo of Timber Gap (9,511).

    This was in the National Weather Service area forecast yesterday:

    “A bigger concern is that the increased winds and lower humidities will result in elevated fire danger for the Kern County Mountains as humidities at some favored downslope locations drop into the single digits. However, durations are not expected to be long enough for the issuance of a Red Flag Warning.”

    February is usually the best month for snow accumulation in the High Sierra, not fire acclimation. That said, the risk is pretty low, as there are no lightning strikes usually in the winter that are typically the cause of wildfires in the summer, but that was the old normal.

    1. Oregoncharles

      You’re not alone: “Pacific Northwest Snowpack Near Lowest Levels on Record”, And the sun is shining this week.

      As it happens, this doesn’t affect me directly, because we’re on the west side of the Willamette and don’t usually get much snowpack. When we do, there’s a flood coming. As long as the rain comes back, we’ll be alright. But the east side does depend on Cascades snowpack, as does much of Eastern Oregon – the boonies.

      I didn’t realize it was that bad.

  10. Sam Adams

    Re: Men with an excess of older brothers are more likely to be gay — and a maternal immune response may explain why

    Oh, who will create the first fetal antibody test to be used in the first 28 weeks? Gattica anyone?

  11. jfleni

    RE: Models Coming into Agreement on Widespread Effects of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

    It makes no difference; the Grease Monkeys, Gas Monkeys, and Plutocrat Monkeys will scream until their dying days that it’s all a fraud designed to limit “free enterprise” while they yell GIMME!

    1. polecat

      Becaues the Grease Monkeys, Gas Monkeys, and Plutocrat Monkeys are the ONLY ones who utilize all things petroleum … did I get that right ?

  12. vlade

    Republicans are mad, but so are Tories (orthe visible bit, and the invisible bit doesn’t seem to be willing to check in the visible much). In fact, I’d say now that most of the right wings that do not have sufficiently strong centrist part to them are insane.

    I’d content that Dems are only slightly more sane – but that is mostly because in Europe, Dems would be classed together with Tories and the likes.

  13. Jessica

    “Modern “Liberals” Are 1950s Authoritarians”

    Liberals are like this now because the rise of genuine progressives threatens their place in the US power structure.
    With the transition from industrial capitalism to knowledge capitalism, our ruling elites no longer have any function. With no purpose, they have nothing holding them together other than the desire to cling to power, however destructive that is to the rest of us.
    In order to maintain their purposeless power, they have tasked the ever larger ranks of knowledge workers to hide the obsolescence of the elites. This is the task knowledge workers must fulfill above all others. This is the driving force behind increased credentialism and the explosion in the number of administrators in universities and health care. It is why platforms siphon money from those who do the real work and those they do it for.
    Those knowledge workers who serve the elites rather than knowledge are paid quite well. Think university presidents and hospital chiefs. Many of those who actually serve knowledge, not the elites are paid far less. Think adjuncts.
    The purpose of much virtue signaling is to legitimize the control of the top knowledge workers over public discussion, a control they exercise on behalf of the elites.
    That power is horded by a parasitic zombie ruling stratum and that the purpose of all the virtue signaling and liberal discussion is to prevent the majority of the population that has serves useful functions for us from maturing and taking the power that only they can put to good use, this above all must be kept secret. Even from those in charge of keeping that secret. Precisely from them above all.
    This is why when truth threatens to peek through, our liberal elites and those aspire to serve them and eventually take their place in the ranks of minions go crazy. Like the zombie rulers they serve, our liberal elites are reduced to chanting two words: “Russia” and “Trump”.

    1. Christopher Dale Rogers


      May I applaud you for this post. May i further attest to the fact that the UK Elite too mirrors its US-counterparts. Of course, we also have Brexit, but the howling always comes from those who believe they were born to rule, which is why a university education is now beyond the reach of many persons both sides of the Atlantic.

    2. Stephen Gardner

      Thank you Jessica. I find your comment quite insightful. I do wish however that you had explained in a little more detail how the transition from industrial capitalism to knowledge capitalism makes the ruling elites have no function. I don’t see why that is.

    3. Oregoncharles

      ” This is the driving force behind increased credentialism and the explosion in the number of administrators in universities and health care. ”

      Actually, that’s just a corollary of the Peter Principle: “Administrators expand until the place runs out of money.” Universities don’t even have the constraints of businesses; they don’t need to make a profit.

      The people who make the decisions tend to benefit from those decisions – always. I don’t think this invalidates your point, but it isn’t a clear example, except of general deterioration.

  14. The Rev Kev

    A Russian Pilot Died While Attacking Civilians in Syria War Is Boring

    To paraphrase Snafu’s blog: “War is Boring Blog is smoking crack!”. Though no friend of the Russians, he comes out and says that there is admiration in the military community for 34 year-old Major Filipov going out like a stud. Remember what happened to that Jordanian pilot captured? Knowing that there was no future surrendering to moderate head-choppers, he fought them off with his pistol while his wing-man tried to cover him (and risking being taken out by a manpad himself) until as they closed in he let off a grenade to take some with him, shouting “This is for our guys!” Helluva way to go out. Major Roman Filipov left behind a wife and 4-year-old daughter.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The theory that the missile was a Russian Iglis which came via Afrin seems far-fetched. Even if they did sieze some Kurdish supplies during the initial invasion its hard to see how they could have got it over to the attack point and working in such a short time (these things don’t come with youtube ‘how to shoot down a jet’ instructions).

      It seems more likely I think that it either came from Turkish or US sources with the intention of giving the Russians a bloody nose. I don’t think the Russians are likely to forget it.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        According to the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, Russia sold the Syrian gov’t 200 Igla’s between 2008-2010 on top of 200 sold in 2006. Is it reasonable to believe that the Russian aircraft are being shot down with Russian product, looted from Syrian Army warehouses; the ol’ five-fingered discount? Rebels are like that sometimes.

        I mean it’s not like the Syrian Army would notice the missing gear, the rebel’s air force is non-existent for the foreseeable future.

        1. integer

          The SAA has an airforce though, so they would presumably be extremely careful to prevent any MANPADS they owned being stolen and used against their own jets and helicopters.

          (Hopefully this comment leads to a “light-bulb moment“)

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Thats entirely possible of course, except that if they were being captured and the rebels had someone who knew how to use them, you would expect them to have been used before now. It seems curious timing, in particular since the Turks were quick to claim it was a missile stolen from the Kurds (the Kurds have previously taken down at least one Turkish helicopter with one).

      2. David

        Yes, the missile is very probably from Syrian Army stocks. Quite significant numbers of (mainly Sunni) officers and soldiers defected/deserted in 2011, and joined various rebel groups. Although the weapon is not particularly modern (dates from the 1980s) neither is it the kind of thing you can just pick up and use – it would require a trained operator, and was probably a lucky shot against an aircraft that was not expecting to be attacked. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia suggests that:

        Video has surfaced showing rebels using an Igla-1E on a Syrian government helicopter. Such weapons were believed to have been looted from a Syrian army base in Aleppo in February 2013.

        1. integer

          Such weapons were believed to have been looted from a Syrian army base in Aleppo in February 2013.

          If jihadists have had a cache of MANPADSs since 2013, it seems unlikely that the first time they would shoot down a Russian jet would be in 2018. Russia has been flying missions in Syria since 2015, with nary a word about MANPADSs being in play on the battlefield, although Russia has issued stern warnings to the US regarding the consequences of arming jihadists with them. Personally, I expect the MANPADS that shot down the Russian Su-25 made its onto the Syrian battlefield via the CIA.

          1. David

            Possibly, but whole small units defected with their weapons. What happened after that is not clear, although some of the fighters, disgusted with the performance of the so-called “moderate” rebels, joined the “jihadists”, and some of the weapons they had with them have been used by these groups – which come in multiple different flavors and combine and split all the time. I doubt if we’ll ever know, but constitutionally and from experience I prefer simple explanations to complex ones.

    2. Plenue

      From the article:

      “As so often over the last two years, the Russian air strikes largely ignore jhadists [sic] and instead target the Syrian opposition and civilians, instead – thus indirectly supporting jihadist efforts to destroy the remnants of the Syrian insurgency.”

      Citation freaking needed. Also, the ‘opposition’ ARE jihadists.

      1. OIFVet

        But of course the Russian pilot was attacking civilians. The proof is that he was Russian. It’s what Russians do, dontcha know. /sarc

        Just read ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’. You will find several passages where the good Congress critter had nightmares about the “leering Slavic face” of the Hind attack helicopter pilot, mowing down civilians in Afghanistan for pure sport. It’s these nightmares and the plight of the “gallant mujaheddin” who faced those Hinds that drove Wilson to move heaven and earth until he got the CIA to provide a silver bullet to slay those leering Slavic monsters: the Stinger. So War Is Boring is hardly a trailblazer in the genre. And perhaps history has repeated itself and the CIA has supplied MANPADS to the moderate heart-munchers of Idleb.

        And yes, this whole effing thing is incredibly effing racist. As a Slav, I can only shake my head at my bleeding heart liberal friends who are quick to condemn any all racism, except the one that has been on display during this entire Russia-gate fiasco. I have told several of them in no uncertain terms that I no longer desire their friendship. It is incredible how lonely one feels while in the company of such friends…

  15. integer

    Re: I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again.

    Lots of seriously scathing comments directed at Wilkerson in the comments section accompanying this article. Of course none of them made it into the “NYT Picks” selection, which seems to be reserved for people who are concerned about Trump and the R party. Anyway, I went and had a look at Wilkerson’s Wikipedia entry and noticed this:

    In April 2007, Wilkerson was featured in VPRO’s Tegenlicht Dutch documentary The Israel Lobby. He said that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was highly influential in the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq.

    I doubt many here will be shocked to read this, but it is somewhat surprising to see such explicit confirmation of AIPAC’s role in starting the Iraq war.

  16. Jim Haygood

    We all suspected it would wind up in the Oval office:

    Newly revealed text messages between FBI paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page include an exchange about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, who wanted “to know everything we’re doing.”

    Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.

    It’s already established that Obama knew of Hillary’s private server. He claimed executive privilege for some dozen or two emails exchanged with her domain.

    But it’s totally obvious that Loretta Lynch had to have informed Obama about her June 27, 2016 tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, given the gravity of the situation — the potential disqualification of the Democratic presidential candidate. No testimony or paper trail proves this (yet), but it’s unthinkable that Potus wouldn’t have been informed by subordinates.

    Comey’s statement exonerating Clinton from criminal charges followed on July 5, 2016.

    Professional courtesy within the Depublicrat party means that a polite silence prevails concerning Obama’s possible role in the pro-Democratic cabal within the FBI. Tick tock …

    1. Sid Finster

      I cannot imagine that anyone would put the real subject of the tarmac meeting, or anything else in writing or deliver the same to the president.

    2. Carolinian

      Lock him up?

      Arguably Hillary shouldn’t have been prosecuted for the emails–that would have been Libya–but live by the legal nitpick, die by the legal nitpick. Given all the current wackadoo perhaps it’s only fair that the Dems be hoisted on their own petard.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘It just keeps on getting better, doesn’t it?’

        Why yes — yes it does indeed. President Obama, April 2016:

        OBAMA: “I can guarantee. I can guarantee that not because I give Attorney General [Loretta] Lynch a directive, that is institutionally how we have always operated. I do not talk to the Attorney General about pending investigations. I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line and always have maintained it. I guarantee it. I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, not just in this case but in any case. Period. Nobody gets treated differently when it comes to the Justice Department because nobody is above the law.”

        WALLACE: “Even if she ends up as the Democratic nominee?”

        OBAMA: “How many times do I have to say it, Chris? Guaranteed.

        Sometime between April and September 2016, when Lisa Page confirmed that “potus wants to know everything we’re doing,” the president changed his mind.

        It makes a difference whether Obama’s volte-face was before or after Comey’s statement on July 5, 2016, after Loretta Lynch had recused herself from the decision on whether to prosecute Hillary.

        As we used to rhetorically cry in the latter days of Richard Rodham Nixon — “What did he know, and when did he know it?”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The events around June, 2016 directly impacted Sanders and those who had voted by then, and those would vote after.

      He should be really, really interested in this.

    4. Lambert Strether

      I looked for the original of that entire “potus wants to know” conversation to make sure I got context, and couldn’t pull it out of the PDFs posted on the House Committee site.

      Can anybody provide a transcript? Thanks!

  17. Jessica

    Modern “Liberals” Are 1950s Authoritarians Caitlin Johnstone (Randy K). Prefigured in the movie The Big Chill, but the move to the right has continued.

    The return to ‘normalcy’, i.e. the end of adventure and any challenge to the status quo, was also prefigured in a less obvious way in the closing scene of the movie E.T. in 1982, when Eliot decides to stay home and be the adult to his disjointed mother instead of going with E.T. or at least asking E.T. to take one of the grownups along. (The character played by Peter Coyote would have been perfect.) Instead everyone just goes home as though nothing had happened.
    I loved the movie and didn’t notice this at all at the time, but seeing the movie Midnight Special made me start thinking about it.
    I mean seriously, a sci-fi movie in which the hero decides to stay home instead of exploring the galaxy!

  18. Wukchumni

    We can’t very well emulate the USSR or NK when putting on a military parade in Humordor, can we?

    Here’s the suggested soundtrack for the festivities:

    In lieu of tanks, MRAPs, mobile missile launchers, half-tracks, amphibious vehicles and the like, we ought to have armored cars full of cash on display utilizing specially created vehicles with large picture windows and push-outs, so as to allow spectators the idea they might get some of the largess-as it passes them by en route to buying yet more military industrial complex merchandise that isn’t needed or wanted.

  19. Bandit

    A Russian Pilot Died While Attacking Civilians in Syria, War Is Boring

    I am a bit disturbed by this post since it blatantly states that Russia is targeting Syrian civilians and not terrorists, which seems about as credible as Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. I would like to know the sources of such reporting and just how credible they are. I have become so distrustful of any US or allied reports that I generally don’t even read them, knowing ahead that 99% of them are lies and propaganda. So, I wonder why this post was included in the topics here, especially without some commentary with the headline?

    1. RabidGandhi

      There is commentary with the headline. In Links above, that article is explicitly compared to the Moon of Alabama article, which is much more sanguine.

  20. Tom_Doak

    I love how the New York Times is so on top of the story of police corruption. (In Baltimore.)

    Maybe they should look around closer to home and see if they turn up anything there.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    2017 Distressed Communities:

    The 2017 DCI finds that 52.3 million Americans live in economically distressed communities—the one-fifth of zip codes that score worst on the DCI. That represents one in six Americans, or 17 percent of the U.S. population.

    It’s indeed bad, but it seems a bit circular here.

    The one-fifth of zip codes that score worst, the lowest 20% are always bad.

    How do today’s lowest 20% compare with those in the past, or with those of other countries?

    1. ambrit

      I looked into that article, and the linked piece. The map of ‘distressed’ areas, grouped by zip code in my usage of it, shows an old but rugged correlation; inner cities next to wealthier suburbs, surrounded by unhappy rural areas. Link to the map, take it down to the county size, or thereabouts, and click on each zip code area around where you live. I did. Where we live, Hattiesburg, is an older urban suburban zone. Heavily minority, very poor, lack of work, more empty housing, etc. Right next door, literally so with our fair city, is the suburb, Oak Grove. It is light on minorities, higher income, with more work and fewer vacant housing units. The exurb associated with Oak Grove does pretty well too. The exurbs associated with Hattiesburg are almost a bad off as the city is.
      Dear Commenteros, do your areas stack up in a similar way? (One reason that I ask this is that where we live, Mississippi, ranks dead last on the quality scale. We might be an outlier.)
      I think that you have a problem built in with your last sentence. As I see it, the question is framed in an “absolute poverty” scale. I contend that the idea of ‘poverty’ is heavily influenced by the perceptions of relative affluence dominant within a society. F. Scott Fitzgeralds’ story of the financier who killed himself when his fortune dropped from some seven or eight millions to one million after the 1929 Crash comes to mind.

      1. Wukchumni

        It’s different around here, our fair burb is 91% White (a local wag calls it ‘Caucasian Island’…) while the next town over is 86% Hispanic, according to Wiki.

        We’re mostly retired slackers or NPS employees, while almost everybody in Woodlake is somehow involved in Ag, but along the lines of caring for orchards, not making all that much money.

    2. chris m

      Why would the appropriate comparison be with people in other countries or w Americans in the past rather than with their contemporaneous fellow citizens?

  22. tagio

    Floods Are Getting Worse, and 2,500 Chemical Sites Lie in the Water’s Path

    Wow, just wait till the NY Times discovers where a large portion of our nuclear reactors are located, and that they are storing decades worth of spent fuel on site.

  23. perpetualPOOR

    The livery driver who committed suicide brought back memories of foreclosure victim stories. How many suicides, heroin addicts and homeless camps does this country need displayed before the desperation of many in this “new economy” is addressed? Moreover, will it ever be addressed??

    1. Eureka Springs

      When I think of the fact Obama deported more ‘illegal’ human beings than all presidents before him combined and yet we the people saw very little if any of this, what else goes on that we never see?

      It’s amazing what we can ignore, even more amazing what officials can hide.

  24. djrichard

    Looks to me like the Fed Reserve will be imminently hiking their Fed Funds rate another 25 basis points. Imagine that happening now after the market swoon. A lot of heads are going to implode, including Trump’s.

    The Fed Funds rate and the 13 week treasury yield pretty much track each other in lock step: . And the 13 week treasury yield is now at 1.52%, which puts it 25 basis points above where it was on Dec 13th when the Federal Reserve last did their rate hike on the Fed Funds rate.

  25. Katy

    Pennsylvania’s Baby Trump Wants to Impeach Judges He Doesn’t Like Daily Beast

    In fairness, I also would like to impeach judges I don’t like.

    *cough* Gorsuch *cough* Thomas

    In Minnesota we don’t have that “problem” because our judges are elected. Unpopular judges can be voted out. This does raise a whole host of other issues though…

    1. perpetualWAR

      In Washington, most judges (slimy [family blog]) are elected too. However our [family blog] judiciary makes certain these judges run unopposed.

      This is one of the many reasons I will no longer cast a vote in our “elections.”

  26. dcblogger

    get the feeling that the kleptocracy views all these suicides as a feature and not a bug? that this is capitalism’s version of death camps.

      1. John k

        Not according to half the dems… she was unfairly and outrageously kept from her rightful throne by a host of deplorable… but she will never give up, urban dwellers will soon see the light and overthrow the uncouth imposter.

    1. curlydan

      The story was featured on Democracy Now! this morning as well:
      “Most of [Uber’s] lobbyists, by the way, come out of the Democratic Party. Many of them went straight from the Obama White House to work for Uber… Every single city and state they go into, first thing they do is hire the former regulators. In New York City, our former TLC chairman went to work for Lyft. His policy director went to work for Uber. You know, it’s been a revolving door. And so, they know—they are former regulators who know exactly how to destroy regulation and regulatory framework, including regulations that were set in place.”

  27. ewmayer

    Note the huge irony in the Amtrak-crash piece: “Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the NTSB, told reporters Monday at a press briefing that track signals were inoperative because they were being upgraded for positive train control or PTC, a system designed to prevent derailments or crashes caused by excessive speed.”

    So the cost of ensuring against some otherwise-expected small number of future crashes is an equal or greater number of present crashes? A “let’s just get ’em all out of our system” crash-front-loading strategy, in other words?

    1. Wukchumni

      I also heard the rails were being switched over to Rearden Metal, but there was a delivery delay.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Why on earth were trains still running if signals were inoperative? When there is a signal fault here they will shut down the entire rail network if necessary, rather than run without signals. If there is an extended outage then the protocol is to send staff out to the signal points to do signalling by hand. For a train driver, continuing past a signal point when signals are inactive and there is no replacement signal in place is a sackable offense.

      I would have asked what protocols they have in place around signal outages (both planned and unplanned), under what circumstances drivers were allowed to pass a non-functioning signal without stopping, and how often it happened.

      1. VietnamVet

        The Amtrak train did stop before the Dark Territory and got clearance from the CSX dispatcher to proceed. The CSX train crew that parked the autorack train reportedly told the dispatcher the mainline was clear but it wasn’t.

        CSX Operating Rules state “Before departing a location where main track switches have been operated by hand, each crewmember must verbally confirm the position of the switches and that they have been locked.”

        The question besides cost cutting by CSX is why did both crew members fail to recognize that the switch was not in the correct position. Railroad rules and regulations are written in blood.

  28. Elizabeth Burton

    As the spouse of a cab driver who, like most of his kind, is a real independent contractor, I think my heart broke a little reading about the suicide. When you combine the underhanded practices of Uberlyft and its ilk with urban gentrification that means finding a place to live you can afford to rent that isn’t so far out of the area where you work is all but impossible, it’s a wonder the bodies aren’t piling up all over.

  29. Jessica

    Replying to Stephen Gardner above,
    The transition from industrial capitalism to knowledge capitalism makes the ruling elites have no function because the way to organize a society with industrial infrastructure and equipment as the core productive force does not work for a society with knowledge as the core productive force.
    A true knowledge economy must turn the knowledge loose. That is the only way to tap into the immense productive force of knowledge. On the other hand, those who do the work of producing and distributing knowledge must be fairly compensated. No one has yet developed the necessary social institutions to do both at the same time on a society-wide basis. Right now, patents and copyrights are used to turn knowledge into something scarce so that monopoly rents can be collected. In other words, the core of our current knowledge economy is the creation of non-knowledge, i.e. ignorance.
    Our ruling elites have no clue about any of this. They simply run systems evolved for monopoly industrial capitalist societies. They do not want to even think of what a different society might look like because such a society might not include them. And they devote considerable energy to directing the efforts of knowledge workers to prevent anyone else from thinking about this either.
    I can not know what a proper organization of a knowledge-drive economy will look like. That is something for a society or a large portion of it to create, not any individual or small group of individuals. Groups can do useful experimentation along the way though. They will have to.
    If only based on the trajectory from feudalism to industrial capitalism, I would guess that a true knowledge economy will have to be more democratic than most of us can even imagine. In other words, not only formal equality will be necessary, but also genuine equality.
    Note also that a knowledge economy does not mean that every one will be equivalent to a PhD researcher anymore than everyone worked in factories during industrial capitalism.
    If we can achieve a true knowledge-driven economy, I feel confident that most all of the problems we currently face will become much easier to deal with. On the other hand, with the current system of artificial knowledge scarcity, our social problems will mostly intensify.

    1. Jessica

      Late to my own dance, but
      during industrial capitalism, the ruling elites did have a purpose: to build the physical infrastructure and build up the educated population that make the knowledge-driven economy possible or more precisely, to get everyone else to build them.
      The bansai knowledge economy we have now has no overall purpose.
      This is also why economies that developed later have been catching up in the past few decades and why once they reached the post-industrial stage, their growth stalled, for example Japan in the 1980s.

  30. The Rev Kev

    Nuclear Reactors, Bankrupting Their Owners, Closing Early

    Gotta love a feel good story. Had to stop reading after the first paragraph to get a coffee so as to enjoy all the more the rest of the story.

    1. Anon

      The Diablo Canyon reactor sits on 100’s of acres of extremely valuable coastal land, about 20 miles from San Luis Obispo. PG&E will likely attempt to recoup any losses with land development, unfortunately, after the reactor closes. This area of the Central Coast is absolutely stunning, and best preserved as natural resource land.

  31. john c. halasz

    I’m no fan of the current Polish government, but the law they passed was almost entirely correct. Poland was under direct Nazi rule during the war (cf. Hans Frank) and in a collapsed lawless state, yet, even though the rewards for collaboration and the punishments for resistance were very great, according to Yad Vashem. less than 1 in 1000 ethnic Poles, (overwhelmingly RC), could be considered to have collaborated with the Nazis, which is different from widespread anti-semitic attitudes among them. The problem is complicated because the interwar Poland had much different borders than the current Poland and included collaborators of much different ethnicities. But the best estimate is that 3 million Jews were killed during the war, but also 3 million ethnic Poles in the relevant territory. Partly because it was ground zero, Poles constitute the largest group of the “righteous among nations” honored by Yad Vashem. The case of Zofia Kossak-Szczucka illustrates the complications. The condemnations of the law strike me as what unpleasant and retrograde Russian commentators refer to as “Anglo-Zionism”.

  32. Patrick Donnelly

    Wars are used by sophisticated countries to shed excess population of males.

    Iran sent off its Sunni conscripts and Shia nutjobs to fight Saddaams Shia and Marsh Aran conscripts. Millions dead, job done!

    PRC has 40 million excess sons over daughters. I wonder what will become of them? I expect the world will love the WWW videos? You “humans” are sick bastards ….

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