Links 3/14/18

Dear patient readers,

There seems to be a DNS problem at a high level somewhere on the Web. I am getting repeated messages that both my browsers cannot find Google, the Wall Street Journal, and other big sites. Started sometime after 5 AM EDT. Come back for more links later.

8:00 AM. I have to throw in the towel. Many sites aren’t loading. I’ve rebooted everything. And the fail messages are “can’t find the server” when so many sites cannot be down. Sorry to give you short rations but this is not a happening event.

Stephen Hawking dies aged 76 BBC

Stephen Hawking tributes pour in: ‘Funny, perverse, brilliant’ CNET

Dog dies on United Airlines flight after being forced into overhead locker Guardian. :-( Another reason not to fly United. Remember Dr Dao? Our post on the terrible MSM reporting and how United had no legal basis for his removal was our most read article last year.

Google to Ban Ads for Cryptocurrencies Wall Street Journal

This Exercise Can Give You the Immune System of a 20-year-old, New Research Shows Travel & Leisure. I sent a cranky note about this to David L, when the lousy reporting isn’t his doing. So apologies, David!

Correlation is not causation. They did not take non-cycists and have them start cycling at 55. It may just as well be you have to have a very good immune system to cycle regularly into your 50s (think of weather, like if nothing else getting caught in the rain and having to ride back in it), so you have a combination of people self-selected for good immune systems plus then getting the exercise benefit on top of it. I don’t dispute an exercise benefit, I just strongly suspect there is a large element of the sport weeding out people who can’t stand being out in the elements over time.


RBI report says demonetisation led to fall in households’ financial assets LiveMint (J-LS)

Massive protest in Mumbai shakes up Modi government Asia Times (J-LS)

RBI discontinues Letter of Undertaking, Letter of Comfort as instruments of trade credit Economic Times of India (J-LS)


UK will be paying Brexit ‘divorce bill’ until 2064, says Treasury watchdog Independaet (Kevin W). A very large cat has been set among the pigeons.

Jean-Claude Juncker says UK will ‘regret’ Brexit decision BBC

Irish Prime Minister dismisses No 10 plan to register in advance to cross Irish border Independent. Note we had an argument in comments about whether this could be depicted as a Government scheme, since the EU proposed it but it looked to be an effort to propose something specific that was in line with the Government’s desire to have magical technology fixes. The Independent’s framing is similar to ours.

New Cold War

May prepares to expel Russian diplomats and call for urgent UN meeting Independent. Breaking story.

Moscow demands access to case files on nerve agent attack on former spy Skripal Financial Times. Mentions, way down in the story, that Russia has invoked the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which the UK is a party, and says only that it gives Russia 10 days to reply. Omits that the accuser is also required to provide their evidence to the accused, which the UK has refused to do.

Jeremy Corbyn is resisting drive for war with Russia Defend Democracy

Imperial Collapse Watch

How the Pentagon Devours the Federal Budget War Is Boring

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Google’s new ‘Plus Codes’ are an open source, global alternative to street addresses 9to5 Google. This creeps me out. Google stepping all over a government function. That is no accident.

AMD allegedly has its own Spectre-like security flaws CNET. Richard Smith:

Seems quite a bit worse than Spectre & Meltdown actually:

Assessment by my favourite gung-ho short seller.

Me, I think AMD’s TBTF, but I’m willing to learn.

Versus (also via Richard Smith):

Discussion: Alleged AMD Zen Security Flaws Megathread reddit

Tariff Tantrum

Trump demands aides pump up anti-China tariffs Politico

China’s sovereign wealth fund sells stake in Blackstone Financial Times. Depicted as the result of “trade tensions.”

From Politico’s e-mailed European newsletter:

TRUMP TELLS EU WHAT HE WANTS: The EU could get an exemption from U.S. President Donald Trump’s harsh steel and aluminum tariffs if the union was to be considered a reliable partner in fighting over-capacities (translation: fighting China), among other criteria. That’s what the European Commission told EU countries on Monday, according to three people briefed on Monday’s meetings on the outcome of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s chat with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström this weekend.

Still on the road? Assessing Trump’s threat to European cars Bruegel

Trump Transition

Trump fires Tillerson, names Pompeo as successor at State The Hill

At Trump’s State Department, Eight of Ten Top Jobs Are Empty Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump inspects prototypes for border wall (Kevin W)

Looks like Mattis is the grown up in the room Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Trump Votes For Rexit – Torture Queen Will Head CIA – (Updated) Moon of Alabama (UserFriendly)

Hunted Beneath a Killing Moon Nina Illingworth (UserFriendly)

ICE spokesman quits over leaders’ use of ‘misleading facts’ to discuss Calif. arrests Minnesota Public Radio News (Chuck L)

Donald Trump Jr. Campaigns at Pennsylvania Candy Shop The Cut (Chuck L)

Superdelegates and the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee: A Different Perspective After the Winter Meeting Frontloading (UserFriendly)

Lamb clings to tiny lead with all precincts reporting Politico. Democratic governor and secretary of state, and no paper trials for electronic voting machines. So expect this apparent win to survive any challenge.

‘The Trains Are Slower Because They Slowed the Trains Down’ Village Voice

Fake News

YouTube Will Link To Wikipedia Below Conspiracy Theory Videos BuzzFeed. Gah.

Elizabeth Warren on the banking deregulation bill and mortgage discrimination CSPAN (Kevin C)

Elderly in U.S. Are Projected to Outnumber Children Wall Street Journal

Guillotine Watch

Lexus Announces Ultra-Luxury Sports Yacht to Catch Mercedes Bloomberg

Class Warfare

EU seeks more protection for gig economy workers Financial Times

Doctors criticize Michigan Medicine concierge medical plan Associated Press (Mlle Detroit). See doctor and nurse pushback: UM considers changes in direct primary care with Victors Care program after faculty protests Crains Detroit

Walmart will start delivering groceries to shoppers across the US — and it’s a direct assault against Amazon Business Insider (Kevin W)

Antidote du jour (furzy):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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      1. bwilli123

        From Hacker News.
        …” There is a bit of a back story from a South African perspective on what is happening here.
        Viceroy research group were the ones to break the Steinhoff scandal[1], exposing gross financial misreporting on Steinhoffs financials and resulting in Steinhof’s share price dropping from R46 to R6 per share
        I suspect Viceroy had short positions on Steinhoff and made quite a bundle. After tasting this legitimate success, they attempted a similar tactic with Capitec bank, a very successful and fast growing South African bank.
        They released a research report stating that Capitec has unsustainable and bad debt levels and will soon suffer huge losses due to this bad debt[3]. This opinion was largely unfounded and fears were dissipated with the South African reserve bank making a statement that Capitec’s business is sound, but not before capitec suffered a short term drop in their share price.
        And so Viceroy have hit upon a very lucrative business strategy, and AMD is next in line…

        And then more detailed
        Assassination Attempt on AMD by Viceroy Research & CTS Labs, AMD “Should Be $0”
        … “On that note, we must also look to Viceroy Research: Viceroy was the first group to report in great detail on the alleged AMD vulnerability, and managed to publish a 25-page PDF almost immediately upon the disclosure of the supposed exploits. We believe this was pre-written. The PDF is entitled “AMD – The Obituary,” and seems motivated to inflict fear and cause damage. Some quotes state, for instance, “Just one Ryzen chip could danger an entire enterprise network,” or “AMD’s flawed chips are components in defense products.” One last quote that you’ll like: “We believe AMD is worth $0.00, and will have no choice but to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in order to effectively deal with the repercussions of recent discoveries.”
        At best, this is fear-mongering, but at worst, as Viceroy themselves have directly implied, there could be financial motivation.
        “Assume We Have a Position on the Stock”
        Viceroy joined BusinessDay for an interview in 2017. When asked by the magazine what Viceroy is, the group responded: “We’re an independent research group based in the US. Our focus is to research entities that we find have signs of accounting irregularities and potential fraud.” When asked why, the group stated: “We take a financial position in our research, and our readers should assume we have a position on the stock.”

        1. drexciya

          At the Register link to article
          The commentators were rather distrusting of this hype, given the following aspects:
          – Disclosure of the alleged security issues after just one day, which is unheard of. Usually (Meltdown\Spectre) this takes months, also to give the affected supplier/vendor the time to come up with a fix.
          – The party which disclosed the alleged issue, is a new and unknown entity, with it’s website recently registered and so on. No people from universities or well-known security software developers involved here.
          – It’s also based in Israel, where there’s a large Intel presence.

          Their reading was that this is a smear campaign by Intel (by proxy).

      2. sionnach liath

        There is a report this AM of a large magnetic storm heading our way from the Sun. It said there will be electrical and electronic interruptions today and possibly tomorrow. Maybe this is the source of your issues. I will say that I have also have connection problems – error 404. Also with Firefox.

          1. CalypsoFacto

            lol DYN went down last year and broke the western internet for 5+ hours. Yves is saying there are issues upstream of NC, not that her provider is having problems.

            edit: bad link just showing current outages with Level3 removed. a few min of searching shows lots of things are down today but I don’t see a big DNS provider down like DYN was last year, yet.

            1. bob

              “It’s worth having a few backups”

              Reading is hard!

              “Yves is saying there are issues upstream of NC, not that her provider is having problems.”

              These two things are not necessarily exclusive of each other.

        1. ChrisPacific

          I used to get DNS issues like this a lot. In my case they were specific to a single device (i.e., other devices on the same network could still see the sites) and they also tended to go away if I flushed the DNS cache manually (this is ‘ipconfig /flushdns’ on Windows, not sure what the Mac equivalent is).

          Switching my DNS servers resolved the problem. This may or may not be what Yves is experiencing, but absent reports of large scale outages (as discussed in other replies) I would lay money that it’s something to do with the client device, LAN configuration, or ISP.

      3. Westcoaster

        I’ve been noticing DNS problems here in SoCal over the past couple of days as well. Could be related to the X-flare, or perhaps it’s due to cryptocurrency mining clogging the ‘net.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Here in Oregon, too, mostly at night. Very short term – a few minutes. I assumed it was issues with our network, but maybe not.

          I’m on a smallish private ISP; no idea what DNS they use,but I’ll check if this keeps up.

      4. Elizabeth Burton

        I usually get that message from Safari when my wi-fi isn’t connected properly. First thing is to turn wi-fi off and back on to see if that fixes it. If not, turn wi-fi off, shut down, wait a bit then reboot and turn wi-fi back on.

        This seems to be an issue if you don’t shut down a Mac for long periods of time.

  1. Jim Haygood

    All quiet on the eastern front:

    The Bank of Japan has vacuumed up so much of the government bond market — in excess of 40 percent — that it’s left fewer securities for others to buy and sell. Some other buyers, such as pension funds and life insurers, also tend to follow buy-and-hold strategies.

    That’s the backdrop to Tuesday’s session, when not a single benchmark 10-year note was traded on the exchange, according to Japan Trading Co. data.

    Governor Haruhiko Kuroda noted to lawmakers Wednesday that the central bank has bought 75 percent of the government bonds issued in the fiscal year ending this month.

    Planet Japan has the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratio at 250%. But its bond market has gone silent, as Bloomberg slyly notes with its “death by BOJ” url. Ominous.

    One is reminded of Jim Rogers’ book Investment Biker, in which he visited sleepy stock exchanges in dusty places like Azerbaijan and Mongolia. The handful of traders would pass the day sipping cups of sweet tea and chasing stray dogs off the exchange floor. A few dozen shares traded was a big day.

    Congratulations, Governor Kuroda. At least the JGB futures still trade, last we heard here on planet earth.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Huge markets with thin liquidity are prone to extreme volatility shocks.

        Japan’s 10-year government bond is pegged at a princely yield of 0.04%, keeping debt service low on the country’s massive debt.

        But if the Bank of Japan should lose control, rising yields and escalating interest payments could spark off a self-reinforcing vicious spiral.

        For now Planet Japan is an Outer Limits episode directed by the BOJ: “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.

        1. Clive

          I’m not entirely sure how the BoJ could lose control of a situation it controls with an iron-like grip.

          The much talked about but seldom, if ever, seen bond vigilantes could I suppose flood the market with sell orders. But, oh, wait a minute, in order to sell something they’d first have to own it, and that means buying it first. Which the BoJ isn’t going to let happen — why should it? Also, the BoJ could simply cancel the 40% of JGBs it owns and then, once the furore of “monetising ! monetising, how very dare they!” had died down, Debt/GDP would be within the same range as pretty much everyone else. And in reality, the BoJ has monetised the JGBs — no realistic possibility of it selling them and paying negligible yield to itself on them anyway. This isn’t your father’s Venezuela. Or even Argentina.

          You could almost call it MMT in action.

          And last time I was there, Japan is ticking along quite nicely, thank you very much. It’s a bit shabbier here and there compared to the bubble era. And cleaning up after Fukushima isn’t going to be pretty or quick or cheap. But given a choice, I’d trade their Fukushima clean up for sorting out Brexit any day of the week. At least the Japanese know where the really toxic waste is hiding.

        2. jsn

          What would cause the issuer of Yen to loose the ability to issue Yen to purchase Yen denominated securities?

          I’m tilting at windmills again I know…

        3. John k

          So when the bond vigilantes refuse to accept less than .05% on the safe securities, BOJ happily jumps up and vacuums everything at .04%.
          As it happens, vigilantes want 60% of all issues, at next recession they will happily take the lot at .01%.
          QE is one aspect of MMT. Seems to work just fine, now a permanent tool for central banks.
          Next step is to cut through the charade and have the central bank burn, shred or smudge the digital assets on their balance sheets, resetting gov debt to gdp at, say, 0. Maybe keep ours happy with around twenty big chunks of platinum, each stamped 1T, for their vault. Hard money!

    1. visitor

      Sorry to be pedantic, but those 250% refer only to the public (i.e. government, etc) debt. Include the private sector, and the total debt shots up to something like 475%-500% of Japanese GDP…

      The obsession about the public debt is a serious blinder. The GFC was generally caused by a massive excess of private debt (esp. mortgages), not public debt excesses. Currently, such paragons of budgetary virtue as Sweden and Switzerland have just just below 60% and 40% public debt respectively, but their private non-financial sectors have reached about 270% and 240% of GDP in debt!

      The scary thing is that after a quarter of century in a deflationary environment, the private Japanese sector has not managed to deleverage itself, while the public sector has been desperately attempting to prop up the economy by expanding debt as if there were no tomorrow. The pathological situation you describe in the bond market is largely a result of being trapped in that ever-lasting stagnation.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Right, public debt is 250% of GDP. Thanks for the clarification.

        From Reuters:

        Japan’s general-account budget for the next fiscal year will total 97.7 trillion yen ($860 billion).

        The government will spend 23.3 trillion yen for debt-servicing – roughly a quarter of the overall budget – even as it keeps assumed interest rates at a record low of 1.1 percent due to the central bank’s negative rate policy.

        Simple math shows that at an interest rate of 4.6% — common in Japan until the mid-1990s — debt service would consume the entire government budget.

        In effect, Japan has made an existential bet on its success in administering low rates forever. Markets view government-decreed pegs as juicy targets for sustained attack, with potentially enormous payouts to those who short the JGB futures.

        Less-brave punters can hawk T-shirts in the awful aftermath: “I broke the BOJ”

        1. Clive

          Ah, the old widow maker trade. Now, if only I had a spare $2 trillion lying around behind the sofa, I could maybe pull it off. Then again, that’s what the Bunker Hunt brothers thought, too.

          My t-shirt says “Autarky is Your Friend, Until it’s the End”

          1. John k

            CBOT changed the rules because the guys in charge were short silver, and the hunts, backed by saudi prince, had it all; hunt brothers took bankruptcy. (Sisters wealth was separated as the boys went deeper into the silver misadventure, they later gave the boys an allowance.)

            Don’t mess with the guy that makes the rules, or prints the money.
            BOJ doesn’t need any rule change… short ten trillion yen or whatever, they will bust your butt with their unlimited supply.

        2. bob

          “with potentially enormous payouts to those who short the JGB futures”

          Who has that ever worked out for? It’s been the trade of the century for over 4 decades now. There should be legions of winners. Where are they?

          1. Jim Haygood

            As the trash-talking Jared Dillian quipped the other day, “The best trade is the one that gets you laughed off CNBC.”

        3. Darius

          Is the Japanese problem that they never wrote off bad private debt but have continued to prop it up with bailouts of various sorts, as well as unnecessary or counterproductive public works?

          1. Clive

            There was porkbarelling and malinvestment by the tonne in Japan in the 1980’s and 1990’s but, if anything, in the later 2010’s there’s been arguable underinvestment of the infrastructure asset base. Nothing like in the US and Europe, of course though.

            And yes, propping up zombie corporations was a problem, but not so much now.

            I wish mainstream economists would turn their attention to Japan anew, because while for 20+ years, all we got was borderline xenophobic ritual denunciations of their public debt and fiscal policy, we don’t even get those now because even the pig headed-est economist can’t go on flailing around concern trolling Japan and predicting imminent currency collapses and hyperinflation for nearly 40 years and try to keep a straight face.

            So all we get now is a deliberate-seeming ignoring of Japan.

            Could it be because, if western economists really looked at it properly, maybe they have to ‘fess up that — in the right circumstances — taxes don’t, shock, horror, fund spending and deficits, in the face of an economy operating below capacity, stunningly, amazingly, done cause inflation.

        4. Jef

          “The government will spend 23.3 trillion yen for debt-servicing…”

          So who is the lucky SOB that gets to cash those checks every month? And for that matter also the 10s of trillions all of the countries around the world with such massive debt?

          Do we all just work for a hand full of bankers lending at interest?

          Does the entire global debt based economy exist to serve the interests of one tiny faction?

        5. Darthbobber

          Given that the mid-1990s are almost a quarter of a century in the past, I can see the Japanese govt making that bet.

          But I don’t think they actually do need to win such a bet for their method to be as tenable as anybody else’s. Which is setting the bar pretty low, admittedly.

  2. vlade

    As far as I can tell, all the AMD flaws described require at least local admin rights, in a few (one?) case even physical access to the HW.
    When you have this level of access already, you can do whatever you want in the first case. The most dangerous exploits are those that allow you to get admin level access – not the ones where you already have it.
    Not even remotely comparable with the Spectre etc.
    Given it’s a startup, and gave AMD 1 day notice (where most good guys give between 30 and 90 days, in case of Spectre it was more like 6 months), I believe that someone was holding a large short-AMD position, and should be investigated by SEC. Not going to hold my breath though.

    1. hunkerdown

      That would just be piling-on, wouldn’t it? I wonder if they are trying to game those algorithms that trade on rumors/news.

      That said, this whole opaque “platform security processor”/”management engine” nonsense was ill-considered in the first place, and really should get off the desktop and return to the cell phones whence it came. There is no end-user interest being served by these features and little to no network-manager interest that couldn’t be handled less obtrusively. I’m very glad to have one of the last AMD CPUs without one.

  3. Jim Haygood

    New frontiers in pension fraud:

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Jersey’s treasurer said she will increase the expected rate of return for the state’s struggling public pension system from 7 percent to 7.5 percent, then lower it again over time.

    The higher rate will save [sic] about $238 million for the state and more than $400 million for local governments in the near term, according to the office of Acting State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.

    While Muoio is moving New Jersey’s rate up beginning in fiscal 2019, her plan will then step down the rate over the following five years, falling back to 7 percent in fiscal 2023.

    Former Treasurer Ford Scudder had cut the pension funds’ rate of return to 7 percent from 7.65 percent in November, but Muoio said that move was too drastic and would saddle local governments with heavy additional costs.

    New Jersey’s total funded ratio was just under 49 percent. A ratio of at least 80 percent is often considered healthy.

    Under GASB accounting standards, public pensions can “just make up” an assumed rate of return, or even hike it to a preposterous level to “save” money on contributions to a direly underfunded plan.

    Ratings agencies aren’t fooled, of course. Patently dishonest accounting games don’t conceal that the state is simply digging a deeper hole for itself in the waning days of Bubble III.

  4. Kevin

    Financial Times: “Accounting watchdogs find ‘serious problems’ at 40% of audits.”

    excerpt: Not immune to incentives, these firms have appeared to increasingly represent the interests of the companies that hire them, instead of acting as another set of eyes for investors as they are supposed to. They audit, consult, do taxes, perform due diligence on acquisitions, then investigate if things go wrong.


  5. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Things seem to be getting very dicey over in the UK. Apparently a Saudi prince defenestrated himself on Monday. Add that to the deaths of the ex-Russian spies, and it seems like a dangerous time over there.

    Good to see Corbyn not buying into the anti-Russian hysteria.

    1. Olga

      Is May’s anti-Russian hysteria (just watch her speak in Parliament!) a diversion from all the Brexit trouble? Hard to understand it any other way – or, the British elite has lost its collective mind! Makes one sick… (ok, it could be preparations for the boycott of w. cup this summer) …

      1. PlutoniumKun

        My first thought with my tin hat on was that this would be an ideal way for the intelligence services to try to sabotage Brexit (or push the EU into agreeing something favourable). i.e. hype up a Russian threat so that everyone becomes allies and friends again. The proximity of the attack to Porton Down seems a bit of a bizarre coincidence.

        But I think its more likely that whatever happened, the British police are using their usual technique of arresting the usual suspect and briefing the newspapers about how skilled they are. Its obviously in the governments interest to hype this up (especially with local elections in 6 weeks). And with the Russians involved, its an ideal way for them to put pressure on Corbyn.

        1. windsock

          Corbyn is making a principled “let’s see the evidence and no, I don’t trust the security services” stand. It will go down like a cup of cold sick with the British public, although I believe he is doing the right thing. This will be May’s Falklands moment and the Conservative regime will go on.

          And on.

          She’s already being compared by Troy asskissers of being the new Iron Lady. Yuck.

          And she’ll be able to lead the Conservatives by the nose to the Brexit she wants… not that anyone really understands what that is.

          1. John k

            Russia Russia is not catching on over here, maybe partly because no evidence… Bernie either taken in or not willing to buck all the elites on one more issue.
            Corbyn might be ok on this, sanctions have cost exports, and who wants another war? With Russia?
            Falklands was small, far away, long ago before all these stupid wars, and involved Brit territory… and when pendulum was swinging hard right.
            I suspect the Brit papers and London elites will be clutching pearls, but voters will be blasé, at least until evidence.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I remember him most for not letting his poor health stop him from living and working.

      Something that all of us can aspire to.

    2. Edward E

      He was gutsy, I liked him, Stephen Hawking endorsed the boycott of Israeli apartheid in support of Palestinian human rights.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Can anyone imagine what DC would have done had the 18 million people unlawfully foreclosed walked to Washington? I had hoped that something like that would have taken place, but alas Americans are sheep.

        1. Jean

          Don’t be silly. D.C. would have run them through a shearing station first, or at least handed them over to Citigroup for another haircut.

        2. Procopius

          Douglas MacArthur (whom FDR called one of the two most dangerous men in the country) was a national hero for burning out the Bonus Marchers. I believe a small child was killed in that, too.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        probably something akin to the coordinated paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

        But that happened under great and wise Obama The Droner, so we don’t count that.

    2. visitor

      There is some interesting information hidden in the article:

      Most districts have seen an unprecedented failure of the cotton crop due to a pink-worm attack. The government estimates between 30% and 70% of the crops were destroyed.

      Following on that, I arrived at another article from August 2017 published in the “Times of India” and entitled Experts: Bt cotton no longer resistant to bollworm, which provides some more details:

      The chief of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission (the state government task force to deal with farm distress) Kishore Tiwari has claimed this year the situation could be worse as it is found that the Bt cotton seeds were now susceptible to attack of not only pink worm, but also thips, mealybug and regular bollworm.

      At that time, officials claimed that “though incidents of worm attacks have been reported, the crop situation is not worrisome yet”, but “if the picking is delayed up to December, the conditions become conducive for such pest attacks on BT cotton”. It seems that this is exactly what happened.

      In other news, it appears that natural conditions in India are definitely not very conducive to GMO: Goodbye to Golden Rice? GM Trait Leads to Drastic Yield Loss and “Metabolic Meltdown”.

  6. IdahoSpud

    I love the article on DNC Rules and Bylaws. The committee seems to be of the opinion that Superdelegates are not really an issue. The REAL problem is that there is a “Perception” that Superdelegates are an issue.

    So I guess the DNC problem is the “perception” that some animals are more equal than others, rather than the fact that some of them really are.

    These guys will never learn.

    1. pretzelattack

      to these types, everything is a marketing problem. they have certain goals, so they try to think how can they sell people on cooperating, especially against their own self interest. lying is a common strategy.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Lying is the first resort of a third-rate marketing consultant.

        DNC is better staffed than I realized.

    2. Doug Hillman

      Paraphrasing the book, You Can Negotiate Anything:

      Politics is not just about extracting the gold out of someone’s teeth, it’s about getting that person to thank you for doing so.

      From Barack Obama I learned the supreme importance of sincerity: if you can convincingly fake that, you’ve got it made.

      1. Jean

        At first glace scrolling down the page it looked like a sea creature, perhaps an anemone with long tentacles.

        Nature rules. Ever notice how a rocky coastline has the same shape from ten miles up or 500?

  7. Tom_Doak

    One of the commenters in the M of A piece links to an article detailing how many of the Democratic candidates for 2018 Congressional seats are part of the war machine – either proud former military, or actual CIA agents. We have one of them in Michigan, and she’s the one who’s gotten the most attention and support from the party.

    It’s also interesting how the former CIA agents are even asked to keep their affiliation secret, as they used to be. It looks like the Democrats are advertising their alignment with the “intelligence community”.

    1. Anonymous2


      Prenotification of border crossings.

      Some houses and fields straddle the Irish border.

      Will residents of said houses need to prenotify the authorities if they want to move from the kitchen to the bedroom?

      Will farmers need to have a vet on a permanent basis in any field that straddles the border to inspect the cows as they cross the border?

      Silly I know but sometimes you have to look for the humour in the situation

      1. PlutoniumKun

        And will it apply to cows and sheep? I believe there is already facial recognition software available for cattle (ironically, developed by an Irish company).

    2. RUKidding

      Yes, duly noted.

      “Democratic” candidate:

      Ex-Military (often high or higher ranking): Check
      Ex-Spook: Check

      Oh goody goody, so “Democratic”! Boo yah!

      No wonder one Republican said Lamb won because he’s a Republican in disguise. Seems to me that most of them are these days.

      Actually what we have are “two” parties:

      A) Republicans in name only, who are now mostly White Supremacist super rightwing extremists
      B) Democrats in hame only, who are mostly Old School Republicans

      True leftists (or progressives or whatever) need NEVER apply.

      JMHO, of course.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        left and right wing of the war party are the only two acceptable cattle chutes of thought, RUKidding. That the lead to the same neoliberal slaughterhouse for those not in the Big Club is information they try to keep on the low.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Just a caveat: the best peace activists around (that I know, but they’ve both been heads of VfP) are retired Navy lieutenant commanders. From intelligence.

    3. Jim Simmons

      The Intelligence Community seems to have unlimited funding. Perhaps they will assist sub rosa in funding their anointed candidates. Done through a third party, of course. Probably, utilizing several of their numerous partially funded DC think tanks.

    4. Procopius

      Seems kind of like in the current Russian Federation, delegates advertising their former connection with the KGB. After all, Vlad was, and look how he’s Made Russia Great Again. I wonder if it’s really a popular thing there. I see lots of reports, from lots of people who are supposed to know, that he’s really wildly popular.

  8. The Rev Kev

    Moscow demands access to case files on nerve agent attack on former spy Skripal

    I’ve heard that the British want to take this to the UN Security Council but if they have not even fulfilled their duties under the Articles of the Chemical Weapons Convention first and have even bypassed them, would that not leave them vulnerable to a defeat there? My reading of the XII Article suggests that Britain may even find itself under possible sanction for not fulfilling their obligations first.
    Still, a statement from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons 87th Executive Council session ( seems to be backing the UK here as they appear to be saying that as the UK says it was a Russian chemical agent, then either the Russians used it or they got sloppy and let someone else take it and use it. I’m still calling shenanigans here.

    1. pretzelattack

      seems like i read that the opcw, and the un generally, has become more amenable to influence by the united states, since they were less than cooperative about bush2 invading iraq. for example, finding that the syrian govt definitely used prohibited chemical wmds when it was actually open to question who used them. i don’t have a link, probably moon of alabama though.

      1. bwilli123

        A more comprehensive takedown of the UK Government assertions
        The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia
        From the article’s summary.
        …” There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.
        It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.”

        1. Doug Hillman

          The propaganda is as insulting as Russiagate, which was proven to be a local download, likely by the late Seth Rich, disgusted by the election-meddling corruption of the DNC/Clinton Foundation crime syndicate.

          This is like watching a reality show of stupid criminals. As with proving the origin of cyber-hacking, the conspicuously unstated premise here is that no one else could possibly have access to Soviet era chemical weapons: not the lab that conclusively identified the formulation, in secret, and most certainly not MI6 or the CIA (unthinkable, so don’t). Sometimes a big lie repeated often enough only convicts the liar as the real perp. These false-flag provocations of Russia are beyond stupid; they’re dangerous.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you and well said, Doug.

            The hawks, often chicken hawks, don’t understand that.

            Former servicemen like my dad and godfather, both former officers and doctors in the Royal Air Force, think this ratcheting up is dangerous.

          2. Procopius

            I think evidence, as well as the family’s insistence, has turned up casting serious doubt on Seth Rich being involved, but it is still highly probably that it was a local download rather than internet hacking. After all, although his death is mysterious, it is not evidence, and if it wasn’t him it still could have been any one of several dozen other people.

        2. Craig H.

          There was a guy at Unz with the same take. James J. Angleton would suggest to guess again. Perhaps the real target is the May government? Is there a good chess/go AI program for spy moves?

    2. Carolinian

      Moon of Alabama says the UK military’s own specialists know perfectly well how to fabricate the chemical and I’ve read elsewhere that British scientists in fact invented this class of chemical. Of course the Steele dossier also came from the UK and the British intelligence agencies are tight with the CIA and the MIC. All very foily if one cares to go there.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        My father and godfather are former Royal Air Force doctors, including stints in NBC warfare, and served Queen and country for 25 years. Neither they nor their former comrades believe the official line. They also joke that the White Helmets would not have needed all that fancy equipment when checking out Salisbury.

      2. apberusdisvet

        The fact that the father and daughter both are still alive, indicates to me that the Russians didn’t do it, especially since the incident was so sloppy. The Russians have proven time and time again that their wetwork is extremely methodical and thorough; no one lives to spill the beans. Most likely, it is another sovereign intelligence agency further escalating the “everything’s Russia’s fault” meme. Considering the horrible global debt load, the elites need a distraction; when all else fails, create a major war.

      3. Pavel

        Remember those “anthrax letters” that were sent to DC politicians right after 9/11? The anthrax involved was from a US lab and nothing to do with Al Quada. There was an FBI investigation but it was complete bollocks.

        And funny how T May is outraged over purported Russian assassinations of corrupt oligarchs while selling arms to the Saudis who use them for actual genocide in Yemen.

      4. WheresOurTeddy

        These (Five) Eyes….
        Spy Every Night
        For You

        These (Five) Eyes
        Long to hold your reality
        in check

        The hurtin’s on “WE”, yeah
        And we will never be free no no no
        You call this democracy yeah
        But you broke it
        You broke it

        These (Five) Eyes…
        Aaaaare Spyin
        These (Five) Eyes have seen a lot of lies
        and they’ve sold a lot of lies
        But they’ll never tell a lie to a wonderful rube like youuuuuuuuuuuu

    3. Sid Finster

      Let us say that it is proven that the chemicals involved in the attacks did originate from Russia.

      Does that mean that every time some civilian is murdered with an American-made rifle, or poisoned with some American-produced chemical, that sanctions and threats of war against the United States are justified?

      May is doing this because she wants to. She wants to show her loyalty and usefulness to the Deep State, as opposed to Corbyn.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Sid.

        The Bitterites were full of synthetic indignation, as if to show up Corbyn’s nuanced approached. The booby prize for arch hypocrite, for appearing on RT and now calling for its removal from the UK air waves, and boot licker must go to the world’s most famous gay vicar (turned MP).

    4. David

      The destruction of stockpiles by the Russians by 2017 is not necessarily inconsistent with the nerve agent used being of Russian origin. It could be that either the agent or the technology was passed to another country in the past – perhaps in the days of the Soviet Union. It could also be simply that the Russians have made some more, since essentially, as any CW expert will tell you, if you have a chemical industry you have the ability to make chemical weapons. No verification regime can ever be 100% certain in this area. So far as I can see, the UK government hasn’t released any technical details of the nerve agent at all, which is a shame because independent experts would probably be able to say more about when and where it was made.
      On the other hand, it strains credulity to think that the UK government would do anything like this. I suspect that behind it all stands the awful shadow of Brexit – a weak Prime Minister and a divided Cabinet grateful to find a common enemy.
      The British could always raise this at the UN (it depends who controls the Security Council agenda at the moment), but, given the Russians are permanent members ….

      1. Jeotsu

        I don’t understand why people think it takes big state actors to pull things like this off.

        In terms of the synthesis or acquisition and preparation of a chemical toxicant that could have readily skin-absorbed and killed the targets, I could have easily done it (thank you, PhD in Biochemistry). I’ve worked in labs where “nerve gas” (various agents that will shut down acetocholine esterase real quick, thus making nerve signal-transmission ineffective) is used commonly, along with many other cheerful chemical families that’ll kill you right quick if you mess up when handling them. (Which is how one co-worker found himself naked in the lab one day, after a spill led to some rather frantic de-robing.)

        There are thousands, nay tens of thousands, of people out there will the skills to do this. Even the organic-chemistry muppets of Aum Shinrikio managed to pull off some low quality sarin 23 years ago.

        So when people go pointing the finger immediately you know they are either idiots or being deliberately deceptive. Knowledge can be dangerous, and there are plenty of people out there with the knowledge to do bad things.

        (Yes, biochemists make the best poisoners. Something I like to point out to friends I’ve invited over for dinner! :)

      2. The Rev Kev

        Ahh, there has already been noises about ‘reforming’ the UN Security Council, maybe using a majority vote, so that Russia or China could never block another illegal act again.

    5. PlutoniumKun

      Off the top of my head, looking at the options:

      1. Russia did it, ordered by Putin.

      I’m sure Putin is capable of it, but the timing seems crazy, what possible benefit could they get from using nerve gas in such a public way at such a geopolitically sensitive time? Putin is nothing if not entirely rational and strategic.

      2. Elements (anti-Putin) within the Russian security forces did it, either as a solo run (motivated by a grudge?), or an attempt to damage Putin before the Russian elections.

      Seems more possible than (1), although the victim seems small fry so its not likely to be motivated by a grudge, and I would have thought that if they wanted to kill someone to damage Putin, they would have carried out an attack in Russia, which would be much more damaging to his prestige.

      3. Some shady Russian business elements did it to kill someone who may have known too much, and used nerve gas to throw suspicion into another direction.

      Seems unlikely anyone but state actors could get hold of such a rare nerve gas.

      4. Some borderline non-State actors, such as Ukrainians or Chechens have done it to discredit Putin and Russia.

      Same as 3, seems hard to believe they could have gotten the nerve gas, and the choice of target seems curious if that was the motivation.

      5. The British intelligence services did it to hype up anti-Russian hysteria and maybe help damage Corbyn.

      Very spy-novellish, but given their history, not impossible I’d say.

      6. The Israeli’s did it as part of their strategy of persuading Trump to attack Syria/Iran.

      They probably could get the nerve agent, and they are well skilled at assassinations around the world. But it would be a very high risk strategy for them.

      7. The US did it to get the British more ‘on side’ in facing off the Russians.

      I think they have plenty of other ways of achieving the same ends.

      8. The deaths have nothing to do with nerve gas at all, the British police are simply using this to cover their embarrassment of overhyping what may have just been an accidental overdose.

      Given their record…..

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        As I said elsewhere, if anyone thought this incident and the threats made v. Putin/Russia would hurt him, they got that wrong. Which is why #2 seems unlikely. Domestic actors would have seen that ginning up something abroad and getting furrniers after Russia helps Putin. So yes, agreed that they’d act domestically, not abroad.

      2. David

        If you read the UK statement to the OPCW carefully (and it is a UK statement, in spite of the slightly misleading link) you’ll see that there’s only one direct accusation of responsibility against Russia. The rest is standard diplomatic speak, and could be read as implying that, whilst the British are pretty sure the agent was of Russian manufacture, they don’t have any technical evidence (as opposed to political suspicion) that the Russian state itself was responsible.Given the disintegration of the Soviet military and intelligence services after the end of the Cold War and the close links that developed between former Soviet officers and organised crime, it’s entirely possible that some of this agent found its way into private hands, or even abroad. It’s not a “gas” by the way: such agents were usually in powder or liquid form, and would not be very hard to transport. Incidentally, there’s a useful Wikipedia article, updated to cover the attacks, which suggests that the Soviet Union developed the agents in part to circumvent the anticipated provisions of the CWC. If that’s true, then inspection would be irrelevant anyway.
        As you say, it’s hard to see who would have a logical reason for doing this, if indeed it wasn’t an accident of some kind. It’s interesting that May’s statement did not claim that the UK had proof that the Russians were behind the attack, just that that was the conclusion they had come to.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          There is an unusually level headed and sensible article in the Irish Times by Seamus Martin, who was that papers correspondent in the 1990’s.

          Unlikely that Vladimir Putin behind Skripal Poisoning

          He puts the blame firmly on criminal associates – he seems to think it likely that the nerve agent got into criminal hands.

          The nerve agent called Novichok is a very deadly substance, eight times more powerful than its western equivalent known as VX. There are also indications that it could have been smuggled out of the former Soviet Union as far back as 1993.

          In September of 1993 as The Irish Times Moscow correspondent I obtained a list of chemical and biological weapons, including Novichok, that were being produced by Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union. I brought these documents to the recognised expert at the time Dr Thomas Stock of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

          Dr Stock’s reaction was that Russia immediately needed western financial help to stop Novichok and other chemical and biological agents being exported illegally by criminal elements. Western help arrived eventually but was it too late The countries of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic nations, were in chaos at the time.


          Theresa May’s first scenario, that the Kremlin was directly involved, seems unlikely. Skripal was in the UK as part of an official spy-swap deal with Russia. The only suggestion of suspicious activities on Skripal’s part has been a report in the Daily Telegraph that he was close to an unnamed person in the organisation run by Christopher Steele, who produced the dossier claiming Russia had compromising material on Donald Trump.

          For President Vladimir Putin to have launched such a vicious attack would have been counterproductive as it would jeopardise any spy swaps in the future.


          London has become the city of choice for those who have made vast fortunes following the fall of the Soviet Union and not all of them have been squeaky-clean model citizens. Boris Berezovsky, for example, who employed Litvinenko, had been a prime suspect in organising the murder of American journalist Paul Klebnikov. Forbes Magazine, Klebnikov’s employer, continues on its website to point the finger in Berezovsky’s direction. A former British diplomat has told me in private that giving Berezovsky asylum was considered a major mistake in UK diplomatic circles.

          The anti-Putin Berezovsky died in mysterious circumstances not long after he had lost a court case against pro-Putin oligarch Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC. British police ruled that his death was suicide but there are those in Britain who believe, or want to believe, he was murdered.

          The oligarchs have been welcomed in London financial circles because of the amount of their money. They have been welcomed too by May’s Conservative party, which, according to recent reports in the London Times and Daily Telegraph, has received donations of £820,000 from Russian sources. Chancellor Philip Hammond has refused to return the money because he did not want to tar the oligarchs “with Putin’s brush”.

          Perhaps it is time to realise that if your country becomes a haven for dodgy people like Berezovsky then dodgy things are likely to happen.

          1. VietnamVet

            The Russia hysteria has become so extreme I didn’t realize until tonight that all three victims of the nerve agent attack still are alive. The military grade of a mixture of binary Russian “newcomer” nerve agents is 5 to 8 times more toxic than VX. Anyone exposed even to minute amount would die almost instantaneously without protective gear and respirator. Yet, the father and daughter drove from the home to town, dined and collapsed on the park bench. Later the policeman was poisoned at their house. This is impossible with a state directed assassination with military grade nerve agent as laid out in the PM’s speech. The Russian Federation states that it has destroyed all chemical weapons. Instead, this incident reeks of the Syrian chemical weapons propaganda campaign with black flag operations more likely the perpetrators than the accused state. Who would want a Russian, former British Spy, associated the Steel dodgy dossier incapacitated?

            Truth is lost when agitprop becomes reality. Nikki Haley warns of a Russian chemical attack in New York.

        2. JTMcPhee

          NovochikPutinGuilty!Go To War! Did I miss something? All this talk assuming the “agent” was “in fact” some one of the “Novochik” supposed set of organophosphates, as if that has in any way been established and demonstrated. Far as I can see, that assumption is just extension of the fake news surrounding the incident, no proof and not even reasonable establishment of forensics, let alone motivation on the part of Hated Rooskies. Just “assessment” piked in “surmise” compounded by the lies that lying liars tell to further who knows what idiotic games and agendas. But the mopery appears ready for more war, ready to believe the unsupported narrative BS.

          Note to all the Fokkers with their fingers on the leashes of the dogs of war: Cmon, you s—heads, turn them loose, already, and let’s get this latest proof, of humans as unfit for purpose, under way and over with.

          A Little aside: I almost lost a good friend, who was incautious enough to use a store-bought, over-the-counter organophosphate “roach bomb” to try to get the roaches in his apartment to die, or at least move next door. His wife found him down on the floor and was able to get him out of the fog of Dow (I believe) manufactured pesticide in time, but it was a near thing. All this crap about how hard it is to manufacture nerve toxins is just that- crap. Ask the cultists of Aum Shinrikyo how it is done, and read something about the forensics that ought to follow such actions here:

          1. David

            Well, this is the official position of the UK government on the basis of analysis by Porton Down, so either it’s true, or there’s a massive and to me pointless, cover-up going on. As for manufacture, it rather depends what you mean by “hard.” Aum Shinrokyo used Sarin, an organophosphate chemical agent dating from the 1930s, not one of the Novichik agents allegedly used in this case. The agent used in the Tokyo subway attack was prepared by qualified chemists, though apparently not very well. It was also an indiscriminate attack, not an attempt to kill a particular person.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Latest I read, this is a supposedly binary thing. Two chemicals that must be mixed and reacted at the site of use to become really toxic. But unless those chemicals for some reason can only be made with e.g. phosphorus from the Bosporus, because of some arcane quantum spin property of the atoms from a very particular natural deposit, a chemical molecule can be replicated pretty much in any competent lab. Albeit very very carefully, like so many industrial chemicals, as in Bhopal, India, and Nitro, WV…

                And no one, so far, except the former Soviet CBR chemist who claims to have published the formula in his tell-all book ($30 on Amazon), has given the chemical name or formula for the substance, and I don’t see anywhere that the Brits have issued any forensics that identifies what was found at the site of the event. Just “nerve poison agent” and “must be Russian by intent or negligence Novichok repeat and repeat until truthy.”

                As to competence as any test of provenance, one might read of the slapstick activities of the CIA in many atempts to kill or de-face Fidel Castro.

                And of course the various governments and the “agencies” that act under their names have NEVER EVER LIED OR DISEEMBLED OR COMMITTED FALSE FLAG OR SPECIOUS ACTIONS, especially HM Govt, so we must go along with the rush to confrontation and WAR! on the say-so of these estimably trustworthy organs, right? Who have never concocted or participated in any spooky crap to prop themselves up when their rulership is in jeopardy due to incompetence and corruption and suchlike?

                For us older folks, we may recall the many many “Ops” and stuff performed by said agencies and governments, that proved to be nothing but lies and deception. And also recall the old ladies in the commercial, who had the temerity to ask “Where’s the BEEF?”

            1. Filiform Radical

              How massive a cover-up do you really need for something like this? Just assign a few trustworthy chemists to the analysis, let them know what the result should be, and voila. Moreover, if the UK government is really playing the whole thing straight, why are they refusing to comply with the CWC? I don’t see what it profits them if they’re telling the truth.

              As for the point, what would be the point of the Russians doing it? They suddenly decided, 14 years after his arrest, that Skripal needed to die? It seems more readily explicable as someone trying to gin up a casus belli to me, although, like most people in the world, I simply don’t have the information to be sure either way.

      3. Sid Finster

        I don’t think that the US need do anything more to “get Britain on-side”.

        Rather, Britain seems eager to get the US on-side. If anything, I suspect that is what this entire ritual exercise is for.

    6. Code Name D

      Did i read this right? Skripal has connections to the Steel Doser? My tinfoil hat is on mighty tight, i may need some help prying it lose.

    7. subgenius

      Pretty sure the handbook of spooks makes very clear that it’s always imperative to make sure that the technology you use in an assassination is as strongly tied to your originating nation as possible, so that blame for whatever atrocity you commit can be correctly ascribed by international opinion.

  9. FreeMarketApologist 87G8Q27J+C7

    Plus Codes: Interesting, and reminds me (as a non-native) of the UK system where you can somewhat derive a location from the post code, though not as accurately as the Google system.

    It will be huge for things like automating pick up and drop off services, (think drone deliveries) as any code represents a latitude and longitude and so easily translatable to air navigation instructions; and it may improve emergency service dispatch, though there’s still the need to know the details of how you get things like fire trucks, ambulances, and people to the geographic location (“taking Smith road will be faster, because Jones road is under construction.”)

    And then there’s the surveillance. Phones already reveal the owner’s location. Layering on a hierarchical location number will make it easier to target ads. The ability to geo-locate to a readily rememberable code (arguably easier than the US Zip +4 system) is a bit creepy.

    It’s worth playing with:

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      I’ve read through their tout website, and I can’t find the real information I need, but the Google Plus code system probably rides on UTMs, an existing mapping and locational standard that pre-dates Google. It already provides locations down to sub-meter scales. The main question is what datum they use for their pretty plus mask.

      They did not invent this whole cloth, I guarantee you. They’ve developed a labeling system and embedded it into their software/apps/marketing websites. The underlying grid it relies on to function is someone else’s devising. And not new.

    2. L

      Gah, it beggars the imagination how anyone could use the term “open source” for this. That is like slapping “crypto” on something and pretending that makes it all good.

      “Open Source” refers to software, stuff for which the code is accessible and can be accessed, edited, or reused. That has practical public benefits. This does not.

      A coding scheme like this is just an index and someone has to maintain an authoritative source for it. That is not open source in the sense that you could be the authority. In this context the company that develops the infrastructure will own it even if someone else comes up with it. In this case Google will become the authority which means that they will track who looks for you, when they do so, and why.

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        The authoritative source is latitude & longitude, so I’d suggest that if how the transformations are done has been published (and conforms to one of the open source license schemes), it is open source. The materials are hosted on GitHub, though I haven’t taken a thorough look to see the exact calculations or license they’re using:

        Google will certainly own the infrastructure, as they will make the ability to calculate the codes (and derive relative locations) easily available as an API to their existing map data. They already provide global mapping, so it’s trivial to add on the code calculation, and will, by first mover advantage, be the authority.

      2. hunkerdown

        Dude, it’s just WGS84 lat/lon, expressed in base 20, with a bit of a twist after the eight place. Once you have read and understand the public spec you no longer need google for anything. Frankly, I doubt it’s even patentable subject matter (but I’ve been surprised before).

      3. Grebo

        “Open Source” refers to software, stuff for which the code is accessible and can be accessed, edited, or reused. That has practical public benefits. This does not.

        There is code on github, in several languages, for using this scheme.
        A quick read of the specs inclines me to think it is well thought-out.
        Where I live houses have no numbers and streets have no names, except in the large towns. If the government ever decides to start a full-coverage postal service I can see this scheme having a practical public benefit.

    3. Ben

      The US Postal Service’s “zip code” system is also broadly descriptive of geographic location. Here’s an interactive map:

  10. Arizona Slim

    Re: United Airlines story: Could someone please explain WHY people bring their dogs on planes in the first place?

    I mean, come on. Planes are loud and dogs have sensitive hearing. Not a good environment for them.

    1. pretzelattack

      i dont remember seeing it in the story. i sure wouldn’t take any animal of mine on a plane, especially a united plane. for that matter, i would try to avoid united at all reasonable costs.

      1. Thomas Jennings

        The comments on this story are actually more sympathetic towards both the family and the dog on Fox news than they are here at NC. With the exception of Doug Hillman, none of the comments have been constructive, and have simply taken a blame the victim approach. In a story where the airline, and more specifically the flight attendant, is at fault, NC commenters have instead attacked peoples’ relationships to their dogs.

        At the risk of responding to a very reactionary (rhetorical?) comment, I take my dog on cross-country flights to visit in-laws. She easily fits underneath the seat and my fellow passengers typically mention they didn’t know there was a dog on board until we are filing off the plane.

        1. pretzelattack

          my comment was intended to be critical of united, specifically. people should not take their pets on united. that’s why my comment mentioned united twice. as i said, i didn’t see a reason in the story, which in no way implies that there was not a good reason. my personal choice is due to my fears about how airlines treat dogs. if they allow you to keep the dog under the seat that’s obviously ok. united doesn’t always do that.

    2. DJG

      A Z: From what I am seeing, dogs are no longer dogs. They have become something else. A dog is now somewhere between a continuing veterinary case to take care of (pugs, bulldogs, and such sickly breeds), an animal to be rescued (much irony here in that dogs and anti-abortionists are now on the same metaphor), a child that was never born, and emotional support for our obviously depressed compatriots. Plus: A fashion accessory.

      At this point, dogs should start wondering whether domestication truly was such a great thing. Their wolf friends and fox friends may have it better these days.

    3. Doug Hillman

      Our silky terrier is our daughter and my wife’s nurse. Though we.might well leave her with family during a trip, never in a kennel, we’d miss her and much rather take her with us. She’s unbearably cute, joyful, gentle, and travels well. And furthermore, I think I would be quite capable of killing anyone who killed my daughter.

      1. Ancient1

        I should warn you.. A dog’s life expectancy runs between ten and fifteen years depending on the breed. I have just experienced the death of my best friend and companion of fifteen years. The last year of his life was depressing as he tried to compensate for his losing body function.. It was difficult to see the look in his eyes. He was prescribed two different opioids for his pain and at the very end he was fed by syringe. He finally gave up and was put down on January 1st. It was extremely difficult and I miss him terribly, but I have realized that I became to dependent on this little animal, both emotionally and for his affection. It is a lesson that I will never forget. So please be careful of your future with you family’s companion.

        1. Doug Hillman

          Thank you. We’ve experienced that heartache several times over the years. It’s hard to make that end of life decision for them, but at some point you know their spirit is ready to cross over. It’s best if you’re with them when they go. We once said goodbye in the Humane Soc. waiting room while an attendant pulled our reluctant boy to the back. Never again. Find a vet or ASPCA clinic that let’s you be there.

          Someone said there are at least two times in life that every man cries, no matter how macho: when his mother dies and when his dog dies. (No mention of the spouse):)

    4. RUKidding

      I love animals, but I think it’s time for people to dial back bringing their animals everywhere they go. I do understand that a lot of people bring their dogs with them bc they don’t have anywhere to leave them, other than a kennel, which is less than ideal.

      However, I agree that bringing pets on airplanes – other than true service animals – is less than ideal for numerous reasons. One reason being that there’s barely any room for humans for most planes these days, much less a dog, too.

      Sorry this dog died, but IMO it’s best to leave the pet at home.

      1. HotFlash

        So, if you are relocating, or even visiting for a long-ish time, what should you do with them? Send them parcel post?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if the dog or cat might say, ‘I don’t want to go. I like it here. Besides, I hate flying. See you in 2 months.’

          1. Oregoncharles

            A cat might, but dogs don’t think that way. They have abandonment issues and hate being left behind.

            I once had an acquaintance’s dog left with me while she went shopping – this at a house where neither of us lived. This dog put on the most elaborate, heartbreaking abandoned lover performance I’ve ever seen. Moaning with his head in my lap the whole time. When she got back, she confessed that she had indeed left him for an extended period.

  11. Otis B Driftwood

    How the Pentagon Devours the Federal Budget is a must-read. It’s enraging, saddening and sickening that our nation is ruled by such blatant avarice. I’m ashamed to be an American and feel utterly powerless in preventing so much of my tax money supporting the MIC and the evil it brings to the rest of the world.

    1. Skip Intro

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, after all, it is not ‘your tax money’, it is money the government credited to itself to transfer to contractors. Taxes have very little to do with it.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Worse still is that the nearly $1 trillion a year spent directly and indirectly on global warmongering is a value subtraction investment.

      It produces no dividends in the form of improved living standards, but rather erodes living standards by crowding out productive investment in infrastructure and human capital.

      This is how the US broke the Soviet Union. Now our rulers have turned the malinvestment weapon on ourselves. As public pensions go bust in the 2020s, we’ll get a full dose of Soviet living, good and hard.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        “…….. erodes living standards by crowding out productive investment in infrastructure and human capital.”

        Dunno, Jim, I’d say it’s even “worse still”–since the purpose of the “investment” is to erode living–through indiscriminate mass murder.

        Of course, the “value subtraction investment” aspect is relative. Just ask any of the “defense” contractors in dc, if you can get through the gates protecting their mansions. And their living “standards.”

      2. JBird

        Add the social chaos from the umpteen Soviet veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War wandering around, the increasing overall dysfunction of the Soviet government, and the political opportunism of Boris Yeltsin.

        Sounds somewhat familiar?

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        “value subtraction assessment” and “erodes living standards” are the nicest terms for organized mass murder I’ve ever heard

  12. Pavel

    There’s a frightening story out of the UK about a Canadian woman, Lauren Southern — who I gather describes herself as a “conservative Christian” and presumably is some shade of alt-right — being detained at the ferry port in Calais by UK immigration officials and ultimately banned from entry. What is scary is that they used special Anti-Terrorism laws to detain her without access to a lawyer for a while. I’m about as far from a “conservative Christian” politically and socially as one could be, but I find this development really terrifying.

    There are now “anti-hate speech” laws which are basically shutting down free speech. This in the land of the Speaker’s Corner!

    1. Kurtismayfield

      If you can ban fanatics of one religion (Radical Muslims), then expect the same rules to be used against every religion.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Amazingly, some nations even today still require exit visas.

        “You may enter, but you can’t leave.”

        Perhaps it’s easier to get you to pay taxes when you’re there, but much harder after you leave.

    2. sparkylab

      I’m originally from NI. Travelling from Belfast to anywhere in England in the 80’s and 90’s, I was routinely *randomly* detained upon disembarking the plane or ferry. Often for several hours. The powers the authorities had under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were broad then – I can only imagine what they are like now.

      1. makedoanmend

        I loved the fact that I didn’t have to worry about carrying my luggage home (and we lived in the middle of nowhere). The luggage was always lost – no exceptions. I would just toddle home and lo and behold some poor sucker from the airline would arrive in the middle of the night, having spent several unfruitful hours looking for a cottage in the middle of nowhere. Ah, travel was so much easier during the ‘troubles’.

  13. integer

    Ukraine Gets Official NATO Status: Weighing Up the Pros and Cons Strategic Culture

    NATO has granted Ukraine the status of an aspirant country. Macedonia, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have similar status. This means Kiev has been offered a real chance to make its dreams come true. The next step will be obtaining its Membership Action Plan (MAP), a set of criteria to meet before the country is allowed to join. It is tailored to each applicant country’s individual profile. This type of plan can be granted at any time; there is no need to wait for summits or ministry-level meetings. Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are aspirants with a MAP.

    This move is clearly intended to provoke Russia. Official status in the alliance is one step on the way to membership. If the policy goal is expansion at any cost, then that’s a step in the right direction. But will it benefit NATO? Make it stronger? Hardly.

    Another day, another provocation.

    1. Max4241

      “Another day, another provocation.”


      Membership Action Plan. The acronym itself is a provocation.

      With the Ukraine officially in fold, a quick look at the MAP now indicates that Russia is not only surrounded by spear points but they have double-edged longsword thrust straight into their underbelly.

  14. integer

    Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats in nerve agent case and will block all high-level contacts with Moscow WaPo

    LONDON — Britain ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats believed involved in espionage-related activities, British Prime Minister announced Wednesday, in the first wave of measures against Moscow for a nerve gas attack against a former double agent.

    May, speaking to Parliament, also outlined a range of other steps, including a halt to high-level meetings with Russian officials and calling off a planned visit to Britain by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

    British politicians and commentators said May could employ a range of diplomatic and financial sanctions — from clamping down on Russian oligarchs’ property-buying binge in London to tossing out embassy staff.

    May could also ask the European Union, or even NATO, to join in a response to what she described as a “reckless” and “indiscriminate” attack, which not only endangered the lives of its two principal victims, the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, but also potentially exposed scores of others to the nerve agent, including a police officer who remains hospitalized.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Expulsions! Is that all? I was expecting British tanks (not even a hundred are ready for combat, same with the aircraft) rolling east on the north European plain and the troops enjoying Christmas lunch at the Kremlin. The western Christmas, not the Orthodox one, so no cheating on the timetable.

      With regard to the oligarchs, why would the Tories go after their donors? Also, why would Tory estate agents and property developers go after their clients?

      This said, the oligarchs aren’t just chummy with the Tories. Tony Blair has benefitted from their largesse.

      This false flag is a nice diversion from Brexit, a failing economy and a stressed out society. It’s also another reminder to the EU27 that they need the UK more than the UK needs them.

      I have not come across anyone at work who believes the official line. Memo to Treeza and the lads at Vauxhall Bridge: Must try harder!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        May is a flailing pm. Never underestimate the House of Saud either. Russia foiled their Syrian project.

      2. Olga

        No, that is not all… RT is reporting the following proposed actions (notice Item. No. 2):

        1. Expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats
        May said the UK identified 23 people working as diplomats in London, who are actually agents of the Russian intelligence service. Expelling them would undermine Russia’s espionage capabilities on British soil, she argued. The move is the largest in decades, according to the Prime Minister.
        2. New legislative powers
        May wants her cabinet to have additional powers that, according to her, would boost the government’s ability to protect Britain. Those include new powers to detain unwanted individuals at the border, new counter-espionage powers and new powers to impose sanctions.
        3. Limiting ties
        The UK will suspend certain senior-level contacts with Russia. This includes the suspension of a planned visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Britain and the cancellation of a planned visit of a British official delegation to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.
        4. Asset freezes
        May said the UK will freeze Russian state assets in the UK that can be used to cause damage to the nation’s security. She did not say which assets could be targeted.
        5. Some measures the UK plans to take cannot be shared publicly, May said.

        Plus the Brits are now asking for a session of the UNSC (Saker has long pointed out that the British elite’s Russo-phobia is worse than in the US).

        Spring madness…

    2. flora

      There’s been some concern that Brexit will weaken the UK and Europol’s fight against cybercrime.

      The cybersecurity industry shares many of the same concerns over Brexit as the wider technology sector does, including a fear of skill shortages, but there’s also the looming issue of what happens in the fight against cybercrime if Brexit means the UK is no longer part of Europol.

      As the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol helps foster cooperation between law enforcement agencies across Europe in the fight against crime, including cybercrime.

      It’s not clear what the UK’s relationship with Europol will be after Brexit. The UK currently leads Europol’s cybercrime initiatives and the agency’s outgoing chief Rob Wainwright said that post-Brexit the UK’s influence is likely to be “less direct, less pronounced and probably less successful than they are now,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

      If this “nerve gas attack” story is anything to judge by, I’m not sure the EU will be losing much in the way of serious crime fighting efforts if the UK exits Europol.

  15. DJG

    Nina Illingworth explains it all.

    Last paragaph:
    “This is dark, venomous magic we’re playing with here and whether it’s by state-assisted capitalist depredation, chasing dragons into oblivion or a judicial invitation to take a mandatory dirt nap, one thing is abundantly clear – for the proletariat in America, dying time is here.”

    Pompeo and Haspel, or What Happens When a Government Avoids Dealing with Torture, are chasing dragons and just stupid enough to embroil what’s left of the U S of A in a land war in the Persian world. Memo to these geniuses: See what happened to the Roman Empire when it tried to hold the Euphrates.

    1. beth

      Nina Illingworth explains it all.

      Where torture leads . . . Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation by Alfred W McCoy.

    1. nowhere

      For less than a case of beer per month you can get $0 delivery fees and free replacement of stolen purchased items, all while shopping during your break.

        1. subgenius

          Given that apparently he’s getting away with his bid to become THE middleman, it seems EVERYONE should be scared good…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Reading the U.S. Postal Strike of 1970, it says that postal workers are not allowed the right to strike…here in America.

      But isn’t his model precarious in other countries, being so dependent on postal deliveries?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This has just solved Putin’s election problem, which was turnout. The election results were pretty much assured but my take is he was worried that low turnout would not be a good image. The citizenry rallies around him when the West takes dodgy actions v. Russia. Even his dogged critics in the Moscow intelligensia, who do call out his authoritarian conduct at home, shut up and even showed some support when the US went crazy with the “We’ll impose sanctions and the natives will rise and throw the bum out.” Instead, his approval ratings went up by IIRC 10 points, and they were solid to begin with.

    2. Pavel

      “Well that escalated quickly” (I forget which TV show that was originally from.)

      I gather the UK has a fuel crisis underway this winter. The EU better hope this doesn’t escalate further as I believe Russia supplies a lot of natural gas to Europe. Not sure where the UK gets its foreign energy from.

      Someone pointed out that there are a lot of corrupt Russian oligarchs who moved to the UK, bought very expensive houses (and even football teams), and now some of them are being found dead. All in all a murky story. Of course the UK has never been shy about welcoming corrupt oligarchs, nasty politicians, and others, as long as they have money.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Olga.

          All true.

          I just want to add that it’s also a dastardly plot to stop England from going to the world cup and have the premier league players fresh for next season, so a better spectacle for Murdoch’s Sky Sports network. Mayhem needs Murdoch on side.

      1. Clive

        Luckily, wind power saved the day, although on one occasion the UK did have to add 80mscm of LNG into the system — imported from, you’ll never guess where, okay, I won’t keep you in suspense, those pesky Ruskies. As it happened, that wasn’t strictly necessary as demand side reductions and reselling from bulk consumer storage meant that it was more a precautionary step than any drastic essential.

        But, another more set in cold spell next year might well be different. So it is as you suggest ridiculous posturing by the UK that we can somehow, if you’ll forgive the pun, freeze Russia out of the equation.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I missed something in that article – May is also getting a new law and “This will include the addition of a targeted power to detain those suspected of hostile state activity at the UK border. This power is currently only permitted in relation to those suspected of terrorism.”
      Now a coupla days ago a young Canadian girl named Lauren Southern was stopped and refused entry into the UK as well as two other activists. I know the name and she is a conservative political activist/stirrer. Point is, she was stopped under the anti-terrorism law and barred as her entry was not “conducive to the public good.” Conservatives are having a field day as they point out the hundreds of ISIS veterans let in as well as radical imams to preach radical Islam.
      With this new blanket law, it will be even easier to refuse people entry on any and all grounds. This is not a good development as it could include people critical of local politics or even critical of how Brexit is being negotiated. Consider it a blank cheque for the government to cash whenever they want. Dark times for free speech ahead.

      1. Pavel

        The youtuber known as Sargon of Akkad (who describes himself as a “classic liberal” and is not alt-right or alt-left for that matter) did an interview with Southern. She was remarkably good-natured about the experience but what she described was pretty horrific:

        Sargon interview of Lauren Southern

      2. Sid Finster

        It is much easier to detain white Canadians at the UK border, as white Canadians cannot call upon any grievance group to scream “racism!” or “Islamaphobia!”.

        When I lived in Poland, I often took a bus from Warsaw to London (this was before Poland was an EU member) and, as a US citizen with a U S passport, I had frequent run-ins at the UK border.

      3. Grebo

        With this new blanket law, it will be even easier to refuse people entry on any and all grounds.

        There’s actually nothing new about it. In the past Louis Farrakhan and Timothy Leary have both been denied entry simply because the government didn’t like things they said.

    4. integer

      It looks to me as if something has happened behind the scenes that prompted the UK to take the lead in advancing the globalist establishment’s anti-Russia agenda. My guess is that due to Trump’s obvious lack of enthusiasm in escalating tensions between NATO and Russia, the CIA reached out to MI-6 and asked them to open a new avenue for the anti-Russia mobilization by getting the UK government involved.

        1. integer

          I highly recommend watching this interview with Paul Barril from 2016:

          Top French Intel Boss Reveals Operation Beluga: US-UK Plot to Discredit Putin and Destabilize Russia

          “Russia has nothing to do with [the murder of Litvinenko]. The case was fabricated from the beginning. Polonium was chosen as the poison because due to its production in Russia it would implicate Russia. The objective of the whole operation was to discredit president Putin and the FSB. It was done because Russia is blocking US interests around the world, especially in Syria. It was an attempt to weaken Putin’s hold on power, to destabilize Russia.”

          1. David

            Um. Barril identifies himself as a junior officer in the Gendarmerie (military police) who was mostly involved in counter-terrorism. It’s unclear where he would have got this kind of information.

            1. integer

              Your characterization of Barril as a junior officer is incorrect. He details his career in the first minute of the linked video, which I suggest watching.

              1. David

                I did and I listened to the original French as best I could. He introduced himself as a Captain. The Gendarmerie has Army ranks, so that’s one up from Lieutenant. He’s worked in counter-terrorism at the GIGN, and has been involved in training African counter-terrorist forces as well. He’s now a private “consultant”. I’m sure he’s a nice chap and very capable, and, for all I know, what he says may be true. But there’s nothing in his background to explain why he should be such an expert.

                1. steelyman

                  “I’m sure he’s a nice chap and very capable, and, for all I know, what he says may be true.”

                  You know, that’s exactly how I feel about the the guy behind the Trump dossier aka Christopher Steele……………

  16. Craig H.

    > Google to ban ads for cryptocurrencies

    I know it’s the Wall Street Journal although I cannot get past their paywall. Guardian, CNN also have stories posted. This is bizarre. They are speculative financial products. So is gold. So are oil and pork belly futures. Google thinks they can tell what is fake news and they think they can tell what is too risky for their grandma to invest in. Hubris what this is. The banner on NC this morning for me is for a cryptocurrency product. Weird.

    My first thought on seeing the wall street journal bit was “is this a time-slipped april fools joke?”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. Bitcoin is in a monster bubble. Even its new relative bargain price is very very bubbly.

      2. Cryptos are way more volatile than gold or oil or any major commodity.

      3. ICOs are a flat out fraud.

      4. I have had people who have not considered buying anything in #2 ask me about buying Bitcoin.

      So this is not the same.

      1. Craig H.

        Do you know what ads your readers are getting served? Do you know what % get served ads for bitcoin shite?

        I don’t know whether to be insulted that the ad server tech thinks I am that dumb or to be amused that the ad server tech is that dumb. Youtube gives me ads for women’s clothes. And I can’t remember which one it is but one thinks I own dogs and cats. That’s pretty niche there because most people that own pets own one or the other; few have both. Some brain-dead ad program thinks I own both.

        1. Yves Smith Post author


          First, I would block all bitcoin ads except I don’t want to hassle my ad service over that. I have enough actual problem ads.

          Second, the bitcoin ads are all “remmant” ads. They pay at a crappy rate and are fungible with other remnant ads, like ones that relate to what you’ve been looking at or worse talking about (I got a bunch of Ecuador ads after mentioning that in the vicinity of my computer. I had done no Ecuador-related reading).

          Third, I find it hysterical that advertisers put ads on our site and are, in a trivial way, funding opposition research.

          1. Geo

            If any NC readers have clicked on one of those ads and been a converted customer of some Bitcoin hustler, it would be nice to get that data so any comments/feedback they leave here could have an asterisk notifying all that they should be avoided. :)

            In my opinion: take all those crypto-scam ad dollars and use it to fund the valuable work you do to enlighten and inform. If you only took ad dollars from socially responsible ad buyers you’d have a very small and underfunded base to sell ads to.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Oh, as I indicated, I am not getting rid of those ads. And I agree with the Lenin bit about letting capitalists sell you the rope with which you hang them. Back in the day when we were very very active on the foreclosure fraud beat, we’d have readers getting ads from some of the big sinners like Bank of America, and they’d be upset. I had to keep reminding them they were helping us in a small way expose their bad conduct.

              But we don’t control what ads appear save nixing certain advertisers. We have an ad service.

              1. Oregoncharles

                And another example of how clever the algos are:
                Long discussion of chemical weapons, so now I see an ad for Pasco “full spectrum analysis” – some sort of lab machine. Well, there’s at least one self-confessed chemist among the commenters, so there you go.

  17. diptherio

    Excellent tweet from Existential Comics yesterday:

    Possible Democratic slogans for midterms:
    “We’ll say mean things about Trump as we deregulate the banks.”
    “Maybe Russian hackers are the reason you are poor?”
    “Okay fine, we’ll raise the minimum wage, but no unions.”
    “We promise to sell you out to the good kind of billionaires.”

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks for that. At least I can get a good laugh, whilst banging my head against a wall (because it makes more sense than voting for Big D).

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s sovereign wealth fund sells stake in Blackstone Financial Times. Depicted as the result of “trade tensions.”

    Who did they sell it to?

    That is, someone bought stake in Blackstone. Was it Blackstone itself, buying it back, a vote of self-confidence, or maybe lacking confidence in its Chinese partner?

    Was it someone else?

    Sorry, I didn’t read the subscribers only article. But I didn’t find anything on the above question in a similar article by Bloomberg.

  19. Sid Finster

    Among the many standout comments:

    “Trump is President today because in the Republican primaries he faced a fractured slate, many of whom, like Trump, had no business thinking they should be President; and in the election, he faced a corrupt government grifter without political talent whose only salient asset was that she was the wife of a former President, the one who destroyed the bully pulpet. Without the Clintons, there is no Trump.

    Trump assumed office with no political friends, with some good ideas that resonated with old line Democrats and people who were tired of 16 years of a disastrous over militarized foreign policy and aimless failing or failed interventions; but unfortunately he had neither tactics, strategy, or personnel to carry those ideas forward; and as if these deficits weren’t enough, through some combination of misfeasance and malfeasance, the outgoing Administration, the Intelligence swamp, and the Democratic Party extremists combined to cripple him with a hastily concocted crisis in our relations with Russia. Finally, Trump did not help himself by surrounding himself with Generals and family members, something he had not signaled he would be doing during the campaign.

    Trump tapped Tillerson for State precisely because it was reasonable at the time to believe that Tillerson could be instrumental in restoring correct relations with Russia. Alas, it was not to be: neither Trump nor Tillerson were up to steering out of the maelstrom. Still, Trump did not serve himself well by the chickenshit way he got rid of Tillerson.

    So how are things now lining up: Trump; Mattis; Pompeo; a career bureaucrat from an undistinguished time frame (to say the least) at CIA: and the perfectly awful, hopelessly unqualified, ranting fool, Nikki Haley. Over in GB, Theresa May lays down a 24 hr ultimatum: does this idiot know what an ultimatum is and what it means and where it leads? Is there a .300 hitter in the bunch?

    August 1914? We’re getting there,”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Putin was right and wrong the other day when he said, no one should stick his/her nose into someone else’s business.

      Do we speak up or not about say, Tibet?

      Does China speak up about, well, Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears?

      Can we be friendly with each other?

      Can we be friends with our abusive selves?

  20. Doug Hillman

    If Lexus’s automotive styling is any gauge, Mercedes has little to fear from its yachting launch. Its ubiquitous shake-and-bake BBQ grill, crying headlights, and other disjointed geometric distractions are bizarre, embarrassingly reminiscent of architecture’s post-modern phase. Perhaps the luxury market is simply appealing to a nouveau aristocracy that’s as challenged aesthetically as it is morally, but its declining sales and market share may well indicate an image makeover is overdue.

  21. JohnnyGL

    To those who would prefer to see the Dems take back the majority in the House….

    “Schiff said Democrats would try to release all committee interview transcripts in their report. He also signaled that he would reopen or begin certain lines of inquiry if Democrats retake the majority of the House this November.”

    Sounds to me like Benghazi redux…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Consequently, we will probably have to spend more on our military to beat back those dangerous, meddlesome Russians.

      1. voteforno6

        Don’t worry – the Democrats believe in recycling. Some of that extra spending would definitely find its way back to Adam Schiff.

  22. Jim Haygood

    News flash:


    Stocks promptly crumbled, erasing an opening gain just like yesterday, and the day before that.

    This is the dark side of flake-o-nomics, where real-world costs spoil what had been a rollicking party.

    As the old Wall Street adage has it, “When the paddy wagons come, they take the good girls along with the bad.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Stocks are not people.

      Robots are not people either (that is a different story, unless those robots are algo robots).

      We have asked too many times what stocks think of the world. We should also interview and report back what the Deplorables feel.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Stocks are puking good now; Dow down over 300.

        Bear in mind that Boeing is now almost ten percent of the arithmetically-weighted DJIA, owing to its $325 share price.

        Boeing is off over four percent today, as an obvious target for foreign retaliation against US tariffs. Pretty soon real people are gonna feel the Trump-induced chill wind.

        1. a different chris

          Yeah but when they go up again what’s your story? Not trying to be insulting, just pointing out that you aren’t using the best indicator of, like anything anymore.

          I know you don’t follow the Dow for your own investments…. ;>

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Stocks can’t be going up everyday.

          And many people get nothing when they go up, maybe even falling further behind when stocks go up (relatively speaking, or perhaps they felt behind more while corporations were rent-extracting more, in order to make their stocks go up).

          For them, then, there are 2 options:

          1. Maybe they will get something if stocks go up more (but basing on the last few decades, it’s not optimistic hoping that).

          2. Maybe they will get something if stocks go down.

          What other scenarios are there, as far as where stocks go, for them?

        3. cnchal

          Stocks are puking good now; Dow down over 300.

          Puking? That isn’t even bad breath, just a little exhale.

  23. JohnnyGL

    Just saw this guy speak for the first time. Seems modest, unpretentious but also somewhat vacuous regarding issues. Talking points like “stop the bickering” and “work with the other side” featured prominently. Nothing specific on any issues. Also a bit subdued, even a little boring, though likeable.

    Sort of like a younger, Dem version of Kasich. Or maybe Ossoff without the arrogance.

    What’s clear to me is he’s not someone to get very enthusiastic about.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      My take was a little bit different. I got the impression that he was trying to be as plain vanilla as possible while steadfastly refusing to be drafted into the msnbs “Trump-haters” club. mika was surely angling for more than she got here, and it seemed to shut her up:

      BRZEZINSKI: If the president calls you to congratulate you, which they often do in situations like this, what would you say?

      LAMB: I guess I would say thank you.

      SCARBOROUGH: Yes, that would be an appropriate response, I think.

      Maybe Lamb read this article detailing uncomplimentary democrat responses to hillary’s comments in India, which basically amounts to “if you can’t beat ’em, try to think of some way to join ’em”:

      “She’s annoying me. She’s annoying everyone, as far as I can tell,” said one 2016 Clinton surrogate. “Who lets her say these things?”

      “Putting aside how absurd and wrong she [hillary] is, rhetoric like this is the reason Sen. [Jon] Tester (D-Mont.) was forced to release an ad today, 8 months before Election Day, attempting to highlight areas of agreement with President Trump,” the RNC spokesman said. “The Democrat brand is isolated, elitist, and as out-of-touch as it ever has been.”

      1. JohnnyGL

        Kind of a dumb question from Mika, sounded like Joe thought so, too. But yes, she seemed to be trying to give him an opening to say unpleasant things about Trump.

        I got the impression that he was trying to be as plain vanilla as possible while steadfastly refusing to be drafted into the msnbs “Trump-haters” club.

        Yeah, that’s what I was getting at, however imperfectly.

        ‘Be nice to everyone, commit to nothing’ is kind of the default posture for Dems. Sounds like a great way to deflate your base into not bothering.

  24. a different chris

    Good comeback on the “correlation vs causation” issue with the cyclists. Although most parts of my family aren’t, sorry weren’t, big exercisers like me (only one of the closest group made it past 70, to, um, 71) I suspect my love of cycling will at best buy me an extra year or two. But it will make those years a lot better.

    If you have spent the last 30+ years watching the news reports on “what healthy people (do, eat, think)” you see it changing and changing and they simply won’t admit that the preponderance of evidence is that our internal clocks are set at birth. I think it may be the post WWII effect, where a lot of people died that shouldn’t have and they didn’t really want people to die anymore. So Science.

    1. Louis Fyne

      see telomeres.

      the research seems to lean to the conclusion that our telomeres are genetic. but how fast we use up our telomeres can be affected by behavior-environment.

    2. Ed Miller

      I have to at least mildly disagree about the article with the elderly cyclist in the photo. Though cycling is highlighted by the picture the article emphasizes exercise.

      “Exercise, even in old age, is known to have a wide range of health benefits, from preventing disability to slowing memory decline. But a new study reveals that it can also protect the immune system.”

      Keep your body moving is the real key. Spend no more time that needed looking at screens. Same is true for the younger set.

      I am one of those who virtually never exercised and, worse yet, worked at a computer for 40+ years. My blood pressure in 1999 hit 185/150 and I weighed 185 lbs, which is high for a man who is only 5′ 8″ and small boned. I couldn’t sleep at night due to pounding headaches from the high blood pressure, so I went to a (new) doctor who told me to do 3 things: exercise, change diet and take certain vitamins plus a medication to reduce blood pressure. It took a long time but I think all 3 changes made a difference, though I think exercise and diet are the primary workers for good health. One hint here which I learned from another – keep changing doctors (if you can) until you find the provider that is really right for you.

      After about 8 years on exercise and a better diet I no longer get sick. The worst thing I have had in 15 years is the sniffles, and even that is rare. Now I am retired. I don’t cycle much any more but instead I swim almost every day, which I find is the very best exercise of them all. Swimming enables me to play tennis with the 50+ crowd, which is my fun activity. I do use the bike for errands whenever weather allows instead of driving, so there is that, but I don’t do long rides very often. I also do a lot of gardening – basically I do anything manually when possible to avoid sitting too much.

      Exercise works. One last comment that makes a huge difference to me. I have been getting massage therapy for about 14 years now from one who does deep tissue massage. This makes a huge difference which I think many do not appreciate. Physical therapy has also helped a lot for specific muscle issues. Therapy isn’t cheap but it is worth it for muscle issues if you are willing to learn that which you can do yourself. All this has changed my life for the better – way better.

      1. Ancient1

        Exercise and a good healthy diet along with upbeat attitude will lead to reasonable good health. I am eighty one years old. I have been lifting weights for sixty years and yoga for some time. Plus I have a diet similar to the mediterranean one. Rode a bike when I was a youngster but not now. Dallas is not a place friendly to bikers and old bones don’t heal very fast and I don’t have time for that. Health is good and I have an excellent physician who specializes in geriatric medicine and who has prepared me for the inevitable. The sand has almost filled the bottom of the glass. I want to go quietly.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Tai chi is popular in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Many believe it helps them live longer.

          It is likely true, not because there is something special about Tai Chi, but that it is an exercise for them.


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