Links 3/16/18

Dear patient readers,

Verizon has confirmed that there is an “outage” that won’t be resolved until tomorrow. They have been pushing their estimate of when it will be fixed back, so I don’t have a lot of confidence that it will be resolved by then.

And when Verizon screws up, they do so big time. I can’t access many sites (the weird thing is that which sites I can get to varies, as in sites like Google, BBC, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal are sometimes accessible and sometimes not, while other sites are persistently not accessible). I had to go to Starbucks but they close at 11:00 PM. So forgive the state of original posts. Even with a good run at Starbucks, I was only able to get part of what I needed to get done done.

Needless to say, getting out can be instructive. The Starbucks nearest me is also close to a subway stop and hospital, so it does a very brisk business. However, the housekeeping is poor. The tables were dirty and the floor had a lot of litter. There were two homeless people, one sitting quietly at a table, the other on the banquette trying to sleep without lying down, and this woman seemed unable to sleep sitting up, so she’d get in all sorts of weird nearly horizontal positions. Starbucks’ response is not to chase the homeless out but to keep the area where they might camp out ice cold. The air conditioners were blasting when it was 40 degrees outside.

The Surprising Ways Tigers Benefit Farmers and Livestock Owners Scientific American (Robert M)

Dog gone: United Airlines mistakenly flies family German shepherd to Japan Guardian (YY)

What Happens After the Worst Happens? Places (guurst). I lived in St. Helens, Oregon, which was so named because it had good views of Mount St. Helens…

Top bottled water brands contaminated with plastic particles: report PhysOrg

Babies Can Think Logically before They Learn to Talk Scientific American (Robert M). One of my brothers was writing before he could talk. Minimally, but he had only a few things he’d mastered, but he’d write “The End” when a TV show finished. But he was late to start speaking.

North Korea

N Korean minister in surprise Sweden visit BBC


Testimonies Reveal How Aadhaar Has Brought Pain, Exclusion to Poor The Wire (J-LS)

Madrid protests: Street vendor’s death sparks violent clashes BBC


DON’T HAVE A BREX, HAVE A KITKAT Bombshell tapes reveal how top Whitehall officials compared Brexit to a KitKat with chocolate layer hiding UK ties to Brussels The Sun. They have lost their minds.

Brexit: Theresa May warned hard Irish border can only be avoided if UK stays aligned with EU rules for time being Independent (Kevin W)

New Cold War

France, Germany, UK, US blame Moscow for ex-spy chemical attack – joint declaration DW

Nato powers close ranks against Putin Financial Times

May’s toothless tough talk on Russia Politico

The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam Craig Murray (YY). See this follow-on: Bothered By Midgies Defend Democracy

Jeremy Corbyn points to Iraq WMDs mistake as he casts doubt on Russian culpability for nerve agent attack Independent. From yesterday, still germane. But his op ed today in the Guardian is at best a mixed bag. Accepts the premise that the toxin was a nerve agent of Russian manufacture. Help me.

And from a London-based reader:

And one thing which is unbelievably anechoic. I’m actually in Salisbury today (part of a regular variant on my commute when I have to head west, the station is a large rail hub) and it’s less then 10 miles from where I live. So I know the area like the back of my hand. No-one, and I mean no-one has ever asked in the MSM just what the guy was doing living here. It’s about as unlikely a spot for anyone to end up living here as it’s possible to get. You get a few retirees, but very little influx from out the area.

But Salisbury is the epicentre for the U.K. military operations. There are at least half a dozen key installations of strategic importance (the Porton Down chemical weapons “research” facility, the army command HQ was there until 2010 when it moved to nearby Andover, the Salisbury plain training base, the Amesbury research operation, the large Warminster Garrison — and that’s just off the top of my head, there’s a lot more you drive past which are military facilities but not on the same scale as these.

He had no reason to live in the city and it is an unbelievable coincidence that it is so close to so many of the U.K. military high command’s sites. He was almost certainly here for a reason, and if I had to work in the area of helping the U.K. military/industrial complex, Salisbury is exactly where I’d live. No-one has mentioned in the press coverage how he supported himself, what he did in England since the spy swap and why he was swapped in the first place.

The whole thing absolutely stinks.


Russia Will Respond If US Attacks Syrian Government Forces AntiWar (Wat). Keep your eye on the ball. No one is gonna attack Russia. Tanks in Poland are not a happening event. But the stage is being set to get more aggressive in our proxy wars.

US military helicopter crashes in Iraq near Syrian border, fatalities feared Guardian

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Google spends tens of millions on think tanks that back its policies The Times

Tariff Tantrum

Which sectors would be most vulnerable to EU-US trade war? Bruegel

Trump Transition

Trump to remove McMaster as national security adviser: report The Hill

Deconstructing Rex Tillerson’s sacking Asia Times

Trump Administration Sanctions Russia for Interference in US Elections Wall Street Journal

Exclusive: Trump finalizing opioid plan that includes death penalty for dealers Politico. Does that include the Sacklers?

Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia New York Times

Mueller Risks Crossing Trump’s Red Line With Reported Subpoena Bloomberg

Betsy DeVos Is Now Fighting the Union at the Education Department Intercept

Federal court tosses out Obama-era rule requiring financial advisers to act in customers’ best interests The Hill

A Party Within the Democratic Party New Republic (UserFriendly)

Democrats, Put District Over Party, Pelosi and Washington New York Times. FluffytheObeseCat: “Yet another NYT op-ed beat down of the tacky Sanders’ types.”

Undocumented immigrant appointed to state post in California Sacramento Bee

Kill Me Now

Barack Obama’s legacy: He sparked hope — and got blindsided (Opinion) CNN (UserFriendly)


N.R.A. Proposes Having Second Armed Teacher in Every Classroom to Stop First Armed Teacher from Misfiring New Yorker (David L)

PICTURED: The shocking seconds after Miami’s 950-ton ‘Instant Bridge’ collapsed onto cars at red lights killing at least four people – days after it was installed in SIX HOURS for student’s safety. Daily Mail. Four people dead so far. This from the country that put a man on the moon.

Florida bridge that collapsed was touted as ‘engineering feat come to life’ ABC (Kevin W)

Package Bombs Are Killing People in Texas but Donald Trump Hasn’t Said a Thing. There’s a Reason for That. Intercept (JB)

A source emailed me his life’s work. Then, he ended his life Columbia Journalism Review

Monopoly and its discontents FT Alphaville

Bain Capital Wins Again: $20-Billion Leveraged-Buyout Queen Topples, Biggest in Years, Another Private Equity Casualty Wolf Street

ALBERT EDWARDS: The endgame for the global economy is arriving sooner than we expected Business Insider (David L). Highly respected permabear.

Former executive claims Walmart overstated sales Financial Times

Class Warfare

Trump advisor: The wealthy can’t be corrupt because they’re wealthy MSNBC (UserFriendly)

In the Age of Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us and Other Bankruptcies Test Private Equity’s Playbook New York Times

Martin Shkreli Proves that Your Life Is Meaningless to Elites Ian Welsh

Title: Why Cities Boom While Towns Struggle Wall Street Journal. Kevin W: “Important takeaway – ‘From 2010 to 2016, large cities generated 73% of the nation’s employment gains and two-thirds of its output growth. A study by the Economic Innovation Group found that from 2010 to 2014 just 20 counties accounted for half the new business formation in the entire U.S.'”

Antidote du jour:

A bonus antidote from Richard Smith:

And a second bonus antidote from dcblogger:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. voteforno6

    Re: Poisoning in the UK

    Perhaps this is my natural inclination to be disagreeable, but the sheer vehemence with which skeptics of the “Russia did it” thesis are being treated makes me more inclined to doubt it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its gotta be said that the UK security forces have since the 1970’s been adept at the ‘get the message you want first’ out to control the narrative, and the UK media as usual just follows it. Its quite rare that the narrative then gets overturned. It happened in the case of the IRA trio killed by the SAS in Gibraltar, The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and numerous other lesser well known incidents. The sheer speed with which the message that ‘its a rare nerve agent’ and ‘Putin dunnit’ came out has to raise reasonable suspicions.

      1. BlueMoose

        Perhaps with MoD Gavin Williamson in the lead tank, the British troops in Estonia and Poland could start heading east. They should be able to establish a front outside of Moscow by summer.

        1. visitor

          Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: “Do not march on Moscow”. Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule.

          Bernard Montgomery

          1. FriarTuck

            The considerable risk in current times, though, is that someone will get the bright idea of instead of trying to occupy it, to burn it to the ground (or try to atomize it).

            Then we all die.

            I for one prefer we not even consider such options.

      2. David

        In both cases, the initial statements by the authorities reflected what they thought had actually happened, although in both cases the reality turned out to be different.

        1. Filiform Radical

          In both cases, the initial statements by the authorities reflected what they thought had actually happened.

          How do you come by this information?

      3. lyman alpha blob

        What I haven’t seen anybody mention yet is that the people who were allegedly poisoned are also allegedly not dead.

        Supposedly they remain in serious condition. Well how serious? When are they going to get better? Then perhaps they might be able to shed some light on all this personally, being the aggrieved parties and all.

        Why do I suspect that instead of the public ever hearing a word from them, their condition will take a sudden turn for the worse?

          1. lyman alpha blob

            First I’d like to see that they were found on a bench. Can’t find any pictures of it and I’m assuming that the area in question is under the watch of surveillance cameras.

            Interesting 2nd link from the Grauniad. Yesterday’s Links had an MofA article that linked to this AFP piece which appears to reference the same interview. In the AFP version the same scientist also says-

            “Only the Russians” developed this class of nerve agents, said the chemist. “They kept it and are still keeping it in secrecy.”

            The only other possibility, he said, would be that someone used the formulas in his book to make such a weapon.

            – something which the Grauniad fails to mention.

            1. Allegorio

              May I point out, that the nerve agents were allegedly manufactured in Uzbekistan and that on the fall of the Soviet Union, it was the U.S. that decommissioned the plant and “destroyed” the nerve agents, no doubt stashing some away for just such a purpose.

              How many false flag operations does it take to discredit western governments. Likewise Therese May is in big trouble over her Brexit fumbling and Corbin’s popularity. Nothing like a national security crisis to distract from the politics and tarnish Corbin’s reputation at the same time. Cui bono, Russia on the eve of her elections and World Cup or the Tories who are currently being hung on their own petard.

              About two weeks ago, probably in anticipation, a false narrative about Corbin being a Soviet agent was spread by the gutter press in Britain. The source was a Czech that the Czech President called an inverterat liar. It was disproved but the damage has been done. Goebbels would be proud.

              Prepare yourself for more of the same if Senator Sanders gets any where close to being elected. It will be all Putin all the time, that diabolical fiend stopping the looting of his country by foreigners. Keep the looting local! What has politics become but competition over the right to loot, a world wide mafia culture.

              The elites are losing their grip, hanging on by their fingernails. Nothing like a good war scare to rally the troops. They will stop at nothing to hold onto power and those government money presses, MMT for the wealthy. They will stop at nothing. Pearl Harbor moment anyone?

      4. False Solace

        I browsed some comment threads on Reddit yesterday. Maybe 97% of the comments were fully on board with the establishment narrative: Putin did it, Russia attacked our soil, etc. The remaining 3% merely questioned what Russia would get out of it and were heavily rebutted with utter nonsense.

        Since I know a huge chunk of the population neither cares about nor believes in the Russia election story, this tells me that every person with a dissenting opinion in those threads got downvoted into the ground before they got any traction. It looks to me like CTR and other bought & paid for troll farms are hard at work silencing every hint of common sense and free thought on the popular online boards.

        They’re pushing this story heavily, maybe because their previous attempts weren’t as successful as they hoped. What the endgame is I have no idea. What will finally shut these people up? When some magical sequence of events places Clinton on the imperial throne, or once we have missiles steaming for St. Petersburg?

        1. integer

          There are lots of state-sponsored “troll farms” too:

          British army creates team of Facebook warriors The Guardian

          The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.

          The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.

          The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages. “It enables us to engage with an audience we otherwise wouldn’t reach,” said an Israeli army spokesman.

          It has been approached by several western countries, keen to learn from its expertise.

    2. flora

      When all the intel agency experts are telling you “who did it, how, and why” before any real evidence has been presented … well… sorta makes one doubt said experts and wonder why the unanimous rush to judgement?

    3. Expat

      The Brits have a long history of being a rather nasty lot. They have somehow managed to create an image of fair play and rectitude to cover their sins. I think of the long history of oppression, torture, assassination and false flags in Ireland. The British invention of concentration camps in Kenya and their slaughter of Kenyan freedom fighters. The Malaya “repression” in which possibly one million were killed. Support and murder for hire in places like Oman.

      On the other hand, cui bono? Why would the May “government” carry out this kind of false flag? It’s not as if a front page poisoning and finger-pointing at Russia can help with Brexit. Unless May wants to use this as a excuse to remain? Solidarity and unified defense with the EU could suddenly become more important than being aloof and poor.

      1. visitor

        Why would the May “government” carry out this kind of false flag?

        Perhaps the UK government has not carried out a false flag at all, and if a governmental service is responsible for the assassination, then it is for other reasons.

        1. Expat

          The link contains the rantings and delusions of an ardent Trump supporter with paranoid tendencies who actually believes Trump is not the one undermining his own administration. It is mostly supposition with heavy doses of propaganda. More Deep State conspiracy with Donald Trump the only wise and honest man left on the planet!

          1. Grebo

            You obviously have previous with James O’Neill, who appears to be an Australian.
            It seems a fairly reasonable bit of speculation to me, citing The Telegraph, Craig Murray and Moon of Alabama which are all somewhat credible sources to my mind.

      2. vidimi

        i don’t yet see what the UK has to gain from this unless May intends to announce another snap election or it opens a backdoor to weaseling out of brexit, but i don’t see it.

        on the other hand, it’s easy to see why the russians would do such a thing: you don’t want any current intelligence officers thinking they can get rich and retire in old blighty by betraying the motherland.

        1. visitor

          Actually no. Skripal was exchanged for Russians spies captured by Western countries. There is an unwritten rule that once swapped in such quid-pro-quo deals, spies are untouchable — otherwise nobody would ever agree to further exchanges.

          Besides, Russia had for years refrained from liquidating Skripal unobtrusively when he was jailed in Russia. Why do it now, when all information he could have about Russia has become stale?

          1. vidimi

            perhaps it’s because they fear leaks or traitors now. back during the exchange, russia was trying to build favourable relations with the west. now, it has mostly resigned itself.

      3. Grebo

        Neither the UK nor Russia benefit from poisoning this spy, so far as I can see. The benefit must be for an enemy of Russia through Russia being blamed.
        So a false flag operation by a third party.

        BTW, we are usually credited with inventing concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer war, but we stole the idea from the Spanish in Cuba. Wikipedia says “The United States set up concentration camps for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s.”

        1. vidimi

          putin has an election coming up and if this will shore up support, he will benefit. i don’t know if this kind of stuff plays well with russian voters.

          1. False Solace

            Putin is far ahead in the polls. The result wasn’t really in doubt. From what I read there was a little concern that turnout might be low, which wouldn’t look as good, but thanks to the UK Putin is now enjoying a solid 10% bump and there’s little doubt his supporters will come out to vote for him.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Really? Does the Navajo Nation consider their reservation to be the last part of their traditional land which is still theirs? Or do they consider it a concentration camp? Just as an example . . .

      4. windsock

        No, no, no. We Brits invented concentration camps during the Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902.

        Or so I was taught. Then I read this, which suggests they were invented in USA in 1838:

        I wish there was a way that the actions of the British Government could be differentiated from those of the British people. It’s a bit like expecting all Jews to be answerable for the actions of Israel. Or Yanks (generic term) for those of USA.

        1. Expat

          I must say, it is refreshing to discuss this with a Brit. An American would be insulting me and telling me to kill myself or something. Brits instead correct me, pointing out that I got the wrong place and dates ,but the right country as far as they are concerned.
          I stand corrected. I don’t think the Indian reservations really qualify as concentration camps, but it’s probably a matter of fences. They certainly did not fare any better than the average Boer.

    4. vidimi

      i agree, even though i think russia having done it is the more likely possibility.

      the rabid attacks against anyone skeptical as well as the nebulous evidence makes my own skepticism grow. just because you call something ‘novichok’ doesn’t mean it’s russian. they still don’t know where the nerve agent was applied, so how can they have identified it?

    5. Jazzbuff

      With all of the cameras tracking activity in the UK why hasn’t anyone asked for the videos of that area?

        1. Oregoncharles

          At the door of my credit union, there’s a sign saying “remove hats, hoods, or masks” – complete with pictures. I often forget, as I usually wear a sock cap. It’s because they can make effective disguises.

          IOW, Jack would have little trouble disguising himself from the cameras, nor would whoever poisoned the Scripals.

      1. Clive

        Another mystery — the CCTV cameras in Salisbury were supposedly not monitored because (irony meter goes off the scale) Austerity.

        Now, it turns out, so we’re told, there is CCTV footage available…

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Very interesting – was just asking about where the pictures were in water cooler. The thing I can’t figure out is with this being such a big story, why hasn’t anyone leaked a photo yet? Never been to London but there have to be a lot of regular security cameras that would have caught this happening, no?

      2. wilroncanada

        The ubiquitous cameras in that particular area all suddenly disappeared, or were disabled, just that night, in order to make “adjustments.”….my speculation. /sarc.

        My other note: it seems that, no matter how much the MSM, television and newspapers, have been treating viewers and readers as sheepish suckers, most of those viewers and readers still believe implicitly in the veracity of what they are consuming. Not as citizens, but as simply consumers.

        Here in Canada, just as in the US and the UK.

    6. pohzzer

      Yves Smith ‘help me’ …

      What’s really happening: Putin’s recent super weapons revelation coupled with the demonstrated military prowess in Syria and the fact the S500 has entered production has made clear to the globalists their incremental approach on Russia isn’t getting ‘er done and they need to take immediate and drastic action on Putin/Russia in a NOW or NEVER showdown.

      Theresa May is a crystal clear demonstration any attempt by Russia to enlist reason, logic, facts, common sense or the rule of law in it’s defense is utterly futile.

      They’re calling Putin’s bluff and putting him to the test … WE ARE WILLING TO TAKE THE WORLD DOWN IN A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST if you don’t knuckle under.

      Thing is I believe they are batshit insane enough to do so.

      We do so live in interesting times.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        They’re calling Putin’s bluff and putting him to the test … WE ARE WILLING TO TAKE THE WORLD DOWN IN A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST if you don’t knuckle under.

        Interesting. There are now two of us who had this thought. Given the belief in their own invulnerability to consequences, it is becoming less and less “foily” to consider the possibility those people are insane enough to deliberately cause nuclear war if they can’t have their way. Like two-year-olds who break their toy so no one else can have it.

        1. pohzzer

          There is another …

          I’ve put this out here and there .. so far you’re the only one to respond in kind.

          1. JBird

            I rather think it’s the American/British/Germans/Useful Idiots March of Folly that’s just as likely, if not more, to make the Second Cold War a hot one as Russia under Putin is

            The last Cold War’s follies was split evenly between NATO and the Warsaw Pact I would say.

            1. pohzzer

              Appears to me it’s all on the U.S. and Nato. Putin will only respond to an illegal attack, not initiate one. The point currently being made to Putin is the west is so thoroughly brain washed and the media so controlled he will be held responsible by the western masses no matter how legal his actions are and how illegal the U.S./Nato actions are. The deep state has decided it’s time to nullify the second amendment. Soon all ‘false news’ media, notably RT and Sputnik etal, will be purged from the western airwaves, then from the western search engines, then from internet directories. This while abrupt climate change enters the near vertical part of the hockey stick curve.

  2. Stromcrow

    Gina Haspel & Barack Obama’s Legacy
    Here are three aspects of his torture legacy.

    1. When torturers are not held accountable and brought to justice, the door is open for torture to return. Haspel is what happens when you look forward, not backward.

    2. By failing to oppose and block the appointment of Brennan, who had his own prior complicity in torture, as CIA director, the way was paved for Haspel. Obama’s actual relationship to Brennan is murky and troubling.

    3. We need to continue to push for public disclosure of the full Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report. As important as it was, releasing the Executive Summary has not had its intended effect of preventing a possible return to CIA torture (as a matter of policy or in practice). Obama was partly responsible for the suppression of the report.

    1. HotFlash

      Obama’s actual relationship to Brennan is murky and troubling.

      Succinct analysis, Stormcrow, and as far as I know, on the mark. One question — could you pls tell this non-USian where I could find some background on the above-cited bit? Thank you.

      1. Lambert Strether

        See Greenwald in 2008 here (although his post of a week earlier had succumbed to link rot).

        The 2008 controversy was that Obama’s transition guy on intelligence, Brennan, was a torture advocate. Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan (who is good on torture, if nothing else) managed to stir the pot enough so that Brennan didn’t get nominated — IIRC, and this is a decade ago — to the position of Director of National Intelligence, as Obama wanted. Obama then made him a White House advisor of some kind. (There’s a truly creepy story in IIRC Salon or some such, which I can’t find, describing Brennan as a sort of priest, whispering in Obama’s ear.) Hence Obama’s “kill list” (oh, I’m sorry, “disposition matrix.”

        Then there was a 2013 controversy, which recapitulated the 2008 controversay, when Obama promoted Brennan to head of the CIA.

        And now the liberal Democrats are all clutching their pearls and heading for the fainting couch over Gina Haspel. Some of the nastier posts suggest she enjoyed torture — as opposed to simply having to do more of it than a man would, the Third Way Feminist interpretation — so maybe that’s their problem: Instead of having a deeply conflicted conscience about it — furrowed brow, anxious frown, anguished consultation with peers — she took open pleasure in it. Gina’s just not West Wing material! Love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal…

    2. Expat

      Many Americans I speak to about torture think it was and is perfectly justified for “those animals.” They don’t care whether or not it gets results; they simply like the idea of torturing foreigners, preferable Arab Muslims. There is a national reticence, nonetheless, to admit to this as US policy and punish representatives of the government since torture both contradicts our illusions of democracy and goodness and justifies the continued struggle by Muslims and Arabs against US oppression. The government can’t even bring itself to admit to torture by a “few bad apples.” It is still called enhanced interrogation.

      A survey of Al Qaeda recruits showed that Abu Ghraib was one of the greatest recruiting tools ever.

      If we start pulling at the thread, we will likely follow it all the way to the top of all three branches of government during the Bush and Obama administrations. We will bring down foreign governments who are still hosting black sites and those complicit in renditions in the West. Nobody wants to do that for the sake of punishing people for torturing a bunch of terrorists (like Bin Laden’s 17 year old chauffeur, an arch-criminal).

      1. Darius

        They’d all brush it off. In the current environment, this stuff doesn’t stick. The media won’t even cover it.

      2. JamesG

        “A survey of Al Qaeda recruits showed that Abu Ghraib was one of the greatest recruiting tools ever.”

        That may be true but please do not revise what happened at Abu Ghraib. A tiny number of low-level American military enlisted men and women, most of them recently-activated National Guard who used to play-act as real military on weekends, decided it would be “fun” to ridicule prisoners and to photograph those acts.

        The perpetrators were prosecuted and punished by the US military.

        A competent low-level officer could have prevented the incident by doing what he/she ought to have done: patrol the facility (the prison) especially late at night to ensure nothing untoward happened. The crime was committed by low-level enlisted personnel and it was allowed to happen due to the incompetence of their low-level supervising officers.

        1. hunkerdown

          Their only “crime” was being caught. Surely you don’t expect us to believe that corrupt organizations aren’t always guilty of more than they are tried fro?

        2. Expat

          Oh, so it was a few bad apples after all? Renditions, black sites, Gitmo all don’t exist?
          Even Rumsfeld admitted there was torture but he claimed that if could stand at his desk for eight hours a day, then so could a few terrorists.

        3. marym

          From a review disputing the analysis of an Air Force Academy psychology professor:

          This thesis [that, yes, superiors were to some degree to blame for abuses at Abu Ghraib, but only inasmuch as they produced “chaotic and confusing policy changes” and failed to adequately supervise soldiers] is more than misleading. It is wrong. It ignores the fact that EITs undeniably migrated from Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) and Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib. It ignores documented cases of abuse at Abu Ghraib that, while unprosecuted, definitely involved EITs and intelligence collection processes. And it assumes away any link between the widespread use of degrading, dehumanizing tactics at Abu Ghraib and the photographed crimes that occurred at the same time.

          It is possible that Abu Ghraib’s prosecuted crimes would have happened without “Removal of Clothing,” “Stress Positions,” “Exploiting Fear of Dogs,” and the other degrading EITs brought there from other theaters. However, that interpretation stretches the limits of credulity. A far more credible explanation is that the systematic, degrading treatment of prisoners was one of the factors that created a slippery moral slope and enabled worse crime. This is also the apparent pattern of abuse at several other detention facilities employing EITs in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, including facilities at Bagram, al Qaim (Forward Operating Base Tiger and Blacksmith Hotel), al Assad (FOB Rifles), Mosul (Strike Brigade Holding Area), and Baghdad (Camp Nama).


          Lieutenant Colonel Douglas A. Pryer is a counterintelligence officer who helped manage interrogation operations for Task Force1st Armored Division in Baghdad when the Abu Ghraib abuses were occurring.

        4. Oregoncharles

          yeah, that’s why people died under official interrogation both at Bagram and at Abu Ghraib.

        5. False Solace

          That’s the story the establishment pushes. The truth is there was a pattern of abuse and techniques pulled directly from anti-torture POW training dating back to Vietnam. There is no credible way to blame a few low-ranking “bad apples”. The rot went all the way to senior leadership in command of the prisons and probably further up. These individuals evaded all responsibility. When the White House wasn’t able to spin the photographic evidence — which rightly enraged all people of conscience — they decided to throw a few friendless peons to the wolves.

        6. Anon

          Funny, you should bring up the “low-level” nature of the tortures at Abu Graib; on the 50th anniversary of My Lai (Vietnam). Were Captain Medina or Lt. Calley “low-level” military enlisted men? Did the US military (Generals) attempt to cover up the massacre?

          The only “low-level” hero that day was the helicopter pilot (and his gunner) who interceded in the massacre of civilians (women and children, mostly) by landing between un-dead Vietnamese civilians and US military “soldiers” and threatening his fellow US troops with gunfire from the helicopter if the slaughter didn’t stop.

          You probably forgot that incident and the pilots name. It’s Hugh Thompson. He was awarded the Soldiers Medal, in 1998. He died in 2006.

      3. Stromcrow

        Many Americans I speak to about torture think it was and is perfectly justified.

        Torture is a crime. It violates domestic and international law.

        Snowden: Listen, you can defend torture, or you can defend the Constitution. Not both. The 8th Amendment explicitly forbids torture with all forms of cruel and unusual punishment. To defend torture is to attack the Constitution.

        1. Oregoncharles

          That’s why the government won’t CALL it “torture;” that has very serious legal consequences, all the way up the chain.

        2. Expat

          And gosh! The US would never violate domestic or international law!
          The US has a long history of atrocities in war. From callous acts of terrorism like the Tokyo and Dresden fire-bombings to the torture program in the War on Terror. During WWII the US Marines in the Pacific rarely took prisoners. As the war went on and was approaching an end, the military command started to get embarrassed and came up with incentive programs for prisoners like R+R. Native Americans. Blacks in America. Targeting water treatment facilities in Iraq and embargoing medical supplies. Supporting dictatorships of all kinds.

          To defend torture is to defend the very nature of America…as long as you call it something else or give a little wink and talk about necessary measures or some other euphemism. The US feeds its people propaganda about how good, honest and Christian America is. LOL.

        3. JBird

          Listen, you can defend torture, or you can defend the Constitution. Not both. The 8th Amendment explicitly forbids torture with all forms of cruel and unusual punishment. To defend torture is to attack the Constitution.


          I cannot understand why so many are not only happy, but enthusiastic, in destroying not our rights and denying our responsibilities, but eliminating the idea of rule of law, nevermind, you know, that weird concept called “justice.”

          Too many Americans have become ethically deprived and morally depraved lemmings gleefully running to that cliff.

        4. The Rev Kev

          A coupla years after Jack Bauer’s “24” started, a delegation from the US military came to visit the producer of that program with a problem. The newer recruits into officer training, when asked, were all up with torture as they had seen how well it worked on programs like this. They were utterly convinced. And these were officers.
          Only trouble was that after checking the history books the answer is no, it doesn’t really work. A person will say anything to stop the cruelty, especially lie, so any ‘confessions’ are totally unreliable. The FBI, for example, were getting good results at Guantanamo Bay until the spooks pushed them aside and went for straight torture.
          The delegation asked him if he could knock it off but even after being presented with the proof, the director was still convinced that torture always works so continued it in his program. He just knew that torture worked and so kept it up.
          Want an example of how other methods work? You talk to them. Get to know who they are and their families. Give them extra snacks and the like and have the interrogation take place as normal conversation. You get an experienced interrogator and they will find if you actually have a Jihadist or just some poor sucker who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Far too many of the people at Guantanamo Bay were just foot-sloggers or even innocent civilians.
          But the torture made great recruiting material for the real Jihadists.

  3. integer

    The latest from Craig Murray:

    Of A Type Developed By Liars

    I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation…

      1. Clive

        With pleasure.

        An almighty bust up. They were forced to say this under extreme pressure of the do-it-or-be-fired or otherwise have your life made a misery variety.

        The whole phrasing of the so-called verification of the origin is, on my now subsequent re-reading (the Prime Minister said this in her statement to Parliament but I listened only to the tone, not the exact words) of it here, is a masterpiece of lawyerly parsing.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “a masterpiece of lawyerly parsing” = “a masterpiece of British understatement.” Stiff upper lip, ta ta, cheerio…

          And thank you, Clive, for this and so many other valuable contributions here.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Kinda reminds me of how before the Iraq invasion, Dick Cheney and “Scooter” Libby would stomp on down to CIA headquarters and browbeat the actual analysts on Iraq’s weapons programs and alleged links to la-Qaeda to gin up the evidence. And here it is fifteen years later and they are still pulling the same sort of crap.
          Sometimes when I am reading all these accounts of how Russia must be guilty and Russia must prove that they didn’t do it and how Russia must be nonetheless be made to pay for what they have done, I find myself fighting to get oxygen to my brain in this stultifying atmosphere.
          The only bright side to this dark cloud, this really stupid vapid delusional cloud, is that for the moment there is no longer any talk of a US/China/Europe trade war. Hmm, how about that!

          1. Jim Haygood

            And here it is fifteen years later and seven more US troops just died in a helicopter crash in western Iraq, in their useless forever-war in the middle east.

            That Cheney remains at large is a rebuke to all of us. Meanwhile his neocon successors are plotting the conquest of Iran as we speak. MBS is coming over next week to pat their little pointy heads, Allah be praised.

            1. Poopypants

              When you understand that world history can be pretty well be summed up as ‘white people taking shit from nonwhite people’ our continual presence around the globe makes perfect sense.

              Any reason will do for the brain dead American electorate, too busy with the usual distractions to be bothered.

              1. Angie Neer

                P, I have to disagree. White vs nonwhite is not a very good summary of world history. Tyrants and criminals-against-humanity come in all shades, and are just as happy to slaughter people of similar shade when it enhances their power and wealth. We humans are very clever and race is just one of many means we have to classify people as less human than ourselves.

              2. Rob P

                >When you understand that world history can be pretty well be summed up as ‘white people taking shit from nonwhite people’ our continual presence around the globe makes perfect sense.

                On the other hand, WWI and WWII make a lot less sense when you summarize world history that way.

                1. Jean

                  “White people fighting and dying to help a tiny subset of white people, J.P. Morgan bondholders, which then caused WWII where even more white people died fighting their relatives to allow other white people to expand their empire.

                  1. Matt

                    “…white people died fighting their relatives to allow other white people to expand their empire”

                    You’ve just erased the Pacific Theatre from history.

                    1. Jean

                      Oh that little detail?
                      OK, white people cutting non white people off from essential resources to punish them for trying to take other Asians’ resources.*

                      *Oil and scrap iron withheld to punish the establishment of Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

                      It’s all about economics, markets, money and competing systems.

                1. Swamp Yankee

                  Or Ramses II vs. the Hittites at Megiddo!

                  Or the permanent internecine warfare among ancient Hawaiians…..

                  Oh, don’t forget Cetshwayo! Or Ashoka! Or the Yanomami. Or Genghis Khan….

                  Even if you confine yourself to the last five hundred years, it doesn’t hold — e.g., Imperial Japan, China vs. Vietnam, the Mughals, etc. The best historical work on, say, the French Empire in the Americas, like Richard White’s _The Middle Ground_, shows how what we think of as European empires were in many cases zones of negotiation, contestation, and exchange. In the interests of both accuracy and human liberation, critical history should not simply mirror imperalist self-conceptions and conceptions of the world, but in a kind of negative exposure that accepts their basic premises.

                  1. Swamp Yankee

                    Missing final sentence: “Rather, following White and other historians of borderlands, we ought to look carefully, in a non-polemical fashion, at the complicated realities of the human experience.”

      2. David

        I’ll have a go, but bear with me.
        There’s always terrific tension in situations like this between the political leadership and its advisors, who want a quick answer, and the technical experts in any field, who are usually more reserved. The reason a quick answer is needed is that the media is howling for an instant story, and if they don’t get any information, they’ll just make something up. (In this case, it could be the Islamic State, or anything at all). So the political leadership wants details and precision to keep control of the story, whilst the technical experts don’t want to commit themselves before they have done more work. But “come back in a week’s time and we’ll let you know” is not a maintainable political line. So there’s usually a fight to see what is the maximum the experts will accept, bearing in mind that you don’t want to say anything that might later turn out to be easily disproved. “Of a type developed by Russia” is exactly the kind of compromise verbal formulation you would expect, since, if these are indeed agents developed covertly by the Soviets/Russians then that’s true, but it also guards against the possibility that the formulas and manufacturing processes could have found their way elsewhere. There will, I imagine, have been a fierce debate about whether there was any definite information that the technology had found its way into the hands of others.
        Two other points. If you read the Black statement carefully, it doesn’t actually contradict the recent allegations at all. The key sentence is “No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published.” Thus, the statement does not say that the agents do not exist, it simply says that, in the open literature there are no details of their structures or properties to be found. It is, for obvious reasons, silent on what governments know, although the phrase “has been published” strongly hints that there is unpublished information available. Such statements are crafted with exquisite care, and intended to mean different things to different people.
        Likewise, the OPCW SAB report simply says that it has “insufficient information” to comment. Since any such information would either be in the hands of the Russians, or of sensitive parts of other governments, that’s entirely to be expected, and the statement isn’t proof of anything, one way or the other. Murray’s a former diplomat and should have been alert to such nuances.
        And no, I have no idea what actually happened.

        1. Carolinian

          The lawyerly hedging is contradicted by the UK’s action which was to go ahead and expel the Russian “spies” etc as well as declare, along with key NATO allies, that Russia did it. After the CIA it may be time to get rid of NATO which is another organization whose primary function seems to be to justify its own existence. Of course Trump hinted he was going to do this and then didn’t either because he was lying or because the overwhelming force of the establishment swamp pushed him the other way (or optionally because he just says stuff that comes off the top of his head).

          1. David

            Not really. The statement, according to DW, says that there is “no plausible alternative” to Moscow’s involvement, which means that none of the countries claims to have any actual proof, and it’s not a direct accusation. Stoltenberg referred to “reckless behaviour”, by Russia, rather than responsibility, and the statement called on the Russians to provide information about the alleged chemical agents to OPCW. Again, these are nuances, but important ones. Western leaders are looking for an excuse to hurt Russia, but they are stopping short of saying that they have proof of a deliberate attack. Expelling diplomats is a good traditional way of expressing displeasure – look for some British diplomats to be expelled in return. It doesn’t mean very much, and I don’t imagine for a minute that the UK thinks the Russian Embassy was involved.

            1. Carolinian

              Hope you’re right. The Asia Times article up in Links suggests the Brits are already pulling back from a confrontation.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The parsing of lawyerly statements, technical determinations of scientists, and the tit-for-tat actions of expelled diplomats are utterly meaningless. What matters is the narrative.


              People dignifying the “debate” with additional “facts” simply play right into their hands.

              We have the developed world’s worst healthcare, highest infant mortality, appalling public infrastructure, and highest child poverty rates, but “OOH BOOGEYMAN PUTIN!” ensures we continue to spend billions on electro-magnetic military ray guns in space instead of child care centers and health clinics. THAT’s the story, not some obscure details about chemical signatures and the like.

        2. Rhondda

          Apologia much?

          “No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published.”

          It sounds to me like they’re referring specifically to something that has been published — Vil Mirzayanov’s State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program.

          Mirzayanov, an Uzbek, is the sole source for information on the so-called “novichoks”— therefore his information is not ‘independent confirmation’.

          Unbelievably, in his book, which is available from Amazon, he published the chemical formulation for these supposed nerve agents. That has a distinct odor, to my nose.

          He now lives in Princeton, New Jersey in a half-million dollar home. Useful guy. Go figure.

          1. David

            No, both Black and the OPCW refer to this book in the extracts quoted by Murray. What Black is saying is that there has been no independent published, confirmation of the technical characteristics of the agents as presented by Mirzayanov, from other, independent sources. (He doesn’t seem to be arguing that the agents don’t exist).

              1. David

                Well, with the greatest of respect, I don’t see what other interpretation is possible if you read Murray’s blog post.

        3. Oregoncharles

          Haven’t their structures and properties been published in a BOOK? By a renegade Russian chemist – Mayanovsky, is that right? It was here yesterday, I think.

          Edit: Mirzayanov, thank you Rhondda. Should have read further.

          That’s assuming his information is correct.

    1. Bill Smith

      Who knows what to believe…?

      Interesting that now there are claims that the never existed. Soviet era disinformation that it did?

      A google search turned up a Baltimore Sun published an article on April 6, 2000 that mentions that Viktor Petrunin, director of the lab, known officially as the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, had won a Lenin Prize for his work on Novichok. The article was in the context of the cleaning up the chemical weapons left after Cold War.

      A second google search didn’t turn up anything independently for Petrunin & Lenin Prize but some of them where given out secretly.

      Anyone read “The Dead Hand”?

  4. Wukchumni

    Half Dome, meet pumpkin spice.

    On Friday, Starbucks will start selling its signature coffee drinks at its first location inside the famed national park. The new concessionaire, an Aramark division called Yosemite Hospitality, unveiled its updated dining options this week — including the controversial Starbucks.

    Letting corporate coffee into the National Parks is just a first step, and then maybe fast food franchises, and perhaps outlet malls?

  5. Ed

    I thought the links today were excellent.

    I tend to avoid Starbucks really because I don’t like the coffee. But they have a problem that is worse for their New York City locations. They are one of the few places where customers can get a coffee and just linger and also have accessible restrooms, so they attract more of their share of homeless people. This is partly the company’s fault for business tactics driving other coffee shops, which were also providing social spaces, out of business so its pretty much just Starbucks in many places now, but mostly just trying to operate a business model in a society that sucks.

    Starting in the 00s, living in Manhattan increasingly presented too problems of surprisingly few places, considering the place is a city, to go to that are not major chains, and also a shortage of pubic restrooms for the number of people on the island, to the point that during the end of my years living there I would often just go back to my apartment to use the restroom when I was out in public then come back to wherever I was at (I lived in Midtown). Starbucks is being asked to do more than a fairly generic chain should be doing to support a frayed social fabric, McDonalds too in the poorer neighborhoods.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Starbucks and Mcdonalds and Walmart etc. have consciously, per their “business models,” acted as some of the major “cutting edges” that have “frayed the social fabric.” I for one find rough justice in the immiserated then crapping in the toilets, sleeping rough on the seating designed to be just uncomfortable enough to get the “customer” up and out to increase turnover, and using (at a cost in privacy) the WiFi and other amenities. Those corps pay crap wages and tell their employees how to supplement those wages with “welfare,” externalizing for profit what should be a cost of operation. And more privileged consumers then complain about the Dirty and Deplorables seeking little niches if reduced displacement and pain in the corps’ “private property.” Let is not forget that these poor corporate fears book record profits which support vast vainglories for their executives and owners, while funding the corruption of government governance processes. And they crapify everything they touch, in the Great Squeeze for quarterly profits.

      Let the corps (and those of us who “patronize” them) stop kvetching about “having to bear more than their share (sic) of social costs,” maybe?

      We are all in this together, but too many are in it purely for themselves.

      1. Geo

        And it is those employees that have to deal with the displaced homeless (and often mentally ill) that are seeking refuge in these establishments, not the CEOs or board of directors. It’s doubtful they expected their minimum wage jobs to entail having to be social workers and city sanitation workers on top of their other responsibilities.

        There is a little Indian restaurant near where I live and the owner, an Indian man who has lived here for 30+ years, gives the local homeless free meals when they come in. His place often has one ore to opioid junkies wandering through. At first it was a bit unnerving but I’ve grown to appreciate it. He is offering a badly needed service in giving them a place off the streets that is safe. He refuses to call in the police because he knows they are often mentally ill and self-medicating. They don’t cause any trouble in my experience dining there.

        The only drawback is the owner will often go on sarcastic tirades about how we’re the “richest country”.

      2. Felix_47

        I own a home for the mentally disabled….and almost all those people are eligible and are receiving an SSI check. There are plenty of homes for them with room and board, maid service, laundry etc……no kidding. Of course the home gets the SSI check and then gives them 100 per month for spending money. Of course we don’t allow drugs or alcohol but sex with condoms is allowed per the regs. We are inspected constantly by the state. We can make a profit on it with enough clients and it is not a big profit but it works. The problem is many clients want the entire SSI check and also the option of picking up more money with panhandling or sex or whatever and they want the freedom to spend it on their drug of choice be it alcohol or whatever. Spending money on food or housing is seen as a waste.

        1. Oregoncharles

          For being “mentally disabled,” they sound quite capable of calculating their own advantage.

      3. Pat

        Just for the record, the lack of public facilities was a problem in NYC long before Starbucks appeared on so many corners.

        My first roommate in the late 70’s used to joke that she should publish her lists as a travel guide.She had what was then called a weak bladder. In the year we lived together she managed to ‘map’ out large swaths of the East and West Village, Chelsea, Midtown, the UWS, LES, and Brooklyn Heights for free public rest rooms. Although she rated them by upkeep there were still danger zones where there were none to be found for many blocks.

        We considered ourselves poor and struggling even if we didn’t have today’s gig economy and student loans. Having to buy a cup of coffee you didn’t want at a diner so you didn’t have an accident was a real sacrifice.

      4. neo-realist

        Barnes and Nobles in the city, the few that are left, are good and clean for free restrooms when needed. However, from what I’ve seen of the clientele, not much in way of dirty homeless people lying around.

  6. Altandmain

    Thinking about Hillary Clinton’s Mumbai comments on winning the “dynamic” cities versus poorer rural areas, I think that she represents the true face of the top 10 percent.

    They can scarcely contain how much contempt they have for the rest of us. That is a brutal assessment, but I always thought that she did not at heart, mean it when she apologized for the deplorable comments. No Clinton supporters have ever apologized for the Bernie Bros attacks either.

    To them, we are not people with real economic grievances, just too unintelligent to appreciate her greatness. Their delusional thinking will further alienate the Midwest and the Swing states.

    It is almost like they want Trump to be in power again in 2020. That’s the sad part though. They prefer losing with Clinton than winning with Bernie which would fundamentally redefine the Democratic Party’s corrupt relationship with the rich donors.

    The Democratic Party is under a legitimacy crisis.

    I don’t think that they realize how poorly they are perceived among potential voters.

    1. roxy

      “No Clinton supporters have ever apologized for the Bernie Bros attacks either.” Indeed. An acquaintance of mine was an hrc delegate to the ’16 convention and told a story of how some nasty, disgruntled Bernie delegates ate the hrc delegates’ snack buffet back at their hotel in a snarky act of petty revenge. Well gee, the dnc ate Bernie’s lunch didn’t they?

    2. Geo

      Years ago I spent some time with a few of the remaining Branch Davidians that still follow the teachings of David Koresh (they split and one faction dismisses his time as leader and call him a false prophet).

      Over dinner with one of them who had lost his whole family (wife and kids) in the fire we had a long discussion of Koresh and his prophecies (which haven’t materialized) and I asked him how he still believes Koresh is a prophet. Without hesitation he replied: “I have to believe”.

      That reply hit me hard. This man had lost everything he ever knew in that fire. If he accepted Koresh was a fraud, he’d also have to accept he lost everything due to falling for that fraud. So, he continues believing because it’s easier than thinking about the alternative.

      I think Clinton supporters may be doing the same thing.

      1. Harold

        I agree with this intuitively, judging from the rage directed at me by family members when I question anything about HRC or Rachel Maddow. It is the corollary of Goebbels’ big lie – too big to fail. I don’t get it. These are former left-liberals.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Do you think that they would appreciate it if you said that Rachel Maddow was actually a Manchurian candidate whose job it was to get people to focus on nothing else but Russia when it was her paymasters – the Chinese – that are trying to ruin America by making HRC lose the election? And saying it with the utmost of conviction – if you can keep a straight face, that is.

          1. roxy

            Glad to know I’m not the only one who gets the stink eye when failing to genuflect to the Maddow.

        2. Lambert Strether

          What’s concerning is the sheer scale of it (and the ease with which the Clintonite faction executed the scam).

          A few Branch Davidians — speaking in terms of realpolitk here — are one thing, but a substantial fraction, running to the millions, of the professional class is another. Recall that a significant percentage of Democrat voters believed, instantly, that election totals were hacked, although there was no evidence for it at the time, and so far as I know, still isn’t.

          Liberal Democrats may be no good at governing, but they sure are good at retaining control of the party (code word: “our democracy,” emphasis on “our”). Or maybe that is governing these days.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Shades of Gerald Ford:

        Hillary Clinton concealed her injured wrist under a navy shawl three days after fracturing it during a fall in India.

        The former Secretary of State injured her right hand on Tuesday after slipping in a bathtub at the palace where she was staying in Jodhpur.

        An alternate interpretation is that she’s packing under that shawl. Her brittle smile is reminiscent of ol’ Charles Bronson, just before blowing away a mugger.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You’ve gotta watch out for those golden bathtubs. Slippery as heck.

          Seriously, my father slipped and broke his neck in a hotel tub – in Iceland, not a 3rd world country. Fortunately, their healthcare is excellent and the break wasn’t bad, but it made him miserable for over a year. Since then, I notice the various forms of traction in hotel bathtubs. Saves lawsuits.

      3. Aumua

        I think this phenomenon can be generalized to explain a lot of human behavior. Nobody wants to be told that they have been fooled, and people will resolutely or even violently reject out of hand any evidence or reasoning that suggests they have might been fooled. Just look at the state of most online discussion. This is particularly true of more extreme, conspiracy theory types, but clearly applies to more ‘moderate’ positions as well.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        They have been referred to ( hopefully increasingly), as Jonestown Clintonites, or Jonestown Clinties if one prefers.

    3. CanCyn

      A&A @ 7.57 am
      What I always secretly worried about with our fantasy of a Bernie win ” … winning with Bernie which would fundamentally redefine the Democratic Party’s corrupt relationship with the rich donors.” was that he would not have been able to fight and beat that corrupt relationship, not for lack of trying but simply because it is too ingrained and too profitable for way too many people … there is part of me that is relieved not to have suffered that disapointment. Count me as someone who was fooled by Obama’s hope and change song and dance back in the day. (My enlightment is due a to good old NC) My t disapointment in the Obama scam would be nothing compared to how I would feel if Bernie, who I believe to be sincere, had failed us.
      On a more positive note, the other night while out with friends, I think I convinced a white Hilary supporting female professional that Obama wasn’t such a great president – now to work on her about Hilary!

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s why I questioned running as a Democrat – not that the Green Party is getting tremendous traction.

    4. RenoDino

      The important thing to remember here is that they (the Democrats) are not winning and losing for us but for themselves and themselves alone. Once you fully internalize that thought hotdog, you will no longer experience a sense of outrage or disappointment when you read Her reaction to her loss. It will make perfect sense. Win or lose, she is not interested in you or your life and neither is the party she represents. It’s a career path that has been derailed. As all the events of the last 18 months have made perfectly clear, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. We are now teaching this lesson early in our high schools where the kids are waiting to get shot.

  7. fresno dan

    Martin Shkreli Proves that Your Life Is Meaningless to Elites Ian Welsh

    So, a lot of people are happy that Shkreli, the infamous “pharma bro” who raised the price of Daraprim, a 62 year old life saving drug used for serious parasite infections and to treat HIV, by 5,500 percent has been sentenced to jail for seven years.

    The catch is that he was sentenced for securities fraud not for jacking up the price of the drug.

    Yes, that’s because securities fraud is illegal, but killing people by jacking up drug prices isn’t.

    And that’s the point.

    Your betters don’t want someone cheating them, but they don’t care if you live or die.

    They really, really don’t.

    1. Geo

      Thank you. It needs to be said more often that the only crimes the rich get prosecuted for are crimes that hurt other (more) rich people. Bernie Madoff is another example. If he only stole from poorer people he’d be hearlded as an investment guru instead of in prison.

      If we were a nation of equal justice there would be “Stop & Frisk” searches on Wall Street and Affluenza would be recognized as the most dangerous mental illness leading its afflicted into lives of crime and causing unprecedented damage to millions/billions of others.

      Instead, their crimes are made legal by deregulation and their mental illness is celebrated.

      1. Marley's dad

        “If he only stole from poorer people he’d be hearlded as an investment guru instead of in prison.”

        One of the living examples of this is Steven Mnuchin. He is the guy who Kamala Harris decided not to prosecute for crimes he committed while foreclosing peoples mortgages in in spite of her staff’s recommendations that he be indicted.

      2. Expat

        I had the Stop and Frisk argument with my brother who periphally deals with Wall Street through broking real estate. I mentioned that if the police really wanted to arrest a bunch of drug users and seize lots of cocaine, they should frisk everyone entering Goldman Sachs instead of collecting nickel bags of weed from black kids in Bedford-Stuy. He defended Wall Street, claiming he knew the people there and no one did drugs!

        LOL. I worked on Wall Street. I worked in trading. I worked for investment banks. Obviously there was a tonne of coke. We had the money to buy it! But you can’t arrest the very guys who are financing the drug trade in the first place, can you? Hollywood, Washington, and Wall Street all run on Colombian Marching Powder.

      3. RUKidding

        Agree whole-heartedly to both comments. Nail: meet hammer.

        What’s too bad is that far too many people have the misguided notion that Shkreli got his “just deserts” for jacking up the price of Daraprim. As discussed, it’s because he engaged in securities fraud.

        The 1% and their lickspittle lackies in Congress could care less that serfs died due to Shkreli’s egregious greedy price gouging. Nay, verily, it’s only when he ripped them off that he got his hand slapped. And frankly, I view his prison sentence – I assume he’s going to Club Fed – as merely a hand slap. Not kidding. No snark here.

        1. Expat

          Apprently Club Fed is not all tennis and martinis. He will be housed with real criminals including murderers and drug lords who are serving Federal time for things like tax evasion. While it is no doubt better than being in general population at Sing-Sing, it’s no vacation. Not that I think he would not learn a thing or two about humanity by being passed around the jail for smokes.

          1. pretzelattack

            if it is a maximum security prison it is dangerous, i have heard; not so much the medium security prisons.

          2. Mo's Bike Shop

            Ecchh. I came back to just say that’s a rude thought. I don’t like it. The ex cons I know found it like advanced detention. If that’s not emasculating enough for you, I don’t know. Just don’t talk like that.

            Besides, Shkreli will probably control cigarettes in his region by the time he leaves. Live by spite, etc.

  8. Croatoan

    Wow, talk about serendipity! I was in a Starbucks yesterday, first time in about a year. It was 45 degrees out and was looking forward to being warm after walking there. But I noticed a chill when I walked in. After sitting for a bit I looked around and everyone in the store had a jacket on. I walked up to the manager and asked why it was so cold. She replied; “Yeah, it’s freezing!”


    So I asked if she could turn up the temperature and she said she had no control over the thermostat. I asked her if she was bothered by her employer not allowing her to work in a comfortable environment and she just replied the company line that there was “nothing she could do”. I told her that there was a lot she could do.

    Also, this was a high income area, no homeless in the store. A lot of students, which are the future homeless, so maybe they are just letting them know what the future will be like for them.

    1. Ted

      Keep it cold to reduce the likelihood of staying very long. Increases turnover and therefore sales on the margins. Just a guess, but makes sense to me.

    2. Grebo

      This just inspired me to search for “universal air conditioning remote control”. Sure enough, they exist and cost less than $10. Could be a useful addition to the survival kit.

      1. Clive

        Building Management System (BMS) integration is pretty much standard for corporate premises, especially retail. Unless they were window units, they’ll have been under head office’s auspices. And even if they were window units, if they were high-end, they’d most likely be tied into a BMS. The poor folks who the big chains employ have zero input into things like that, if the corporate machine has any choice in the matter.

      2. Enquiring Mind

        In this era, I expect that any such device would be evidence of intent to steal (heat or cold air) at best, and a gateway to terrorist acts. Not sure how much I am kidding :/

    3. elga

      Yup. At the Starbucks where I am too. I thought it had to do with being too cheap to pay for heat. That was about 6 years ago; I haven’t been back since!

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Interesting. I have gone into a particular Starbucks here in Ann Arbor several times. A few local homeless people spend time at their favorite table-zone in the front. No one appeared to try to make them feel unwelcome the times I was there to see. The heat was kept nice and warm every time I was there.

  9. The Rev Kev

    N.R.A. Proposes Having Second Armed Teacher in Every Classroom to Stop First Armed Teacher from Misfiring

    By golly, I think that this writer has got something. In fact, I would go even further. I would suggest to the N.R.A. that each school should have a safe-room/teacher’s lounge for the teacher’s and sentinel guns in the hallways for when the students get out of hand. You know. As in protesting the presence of so many guns in the schools. Here is how it would work in practice-

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is money here to be made for drone makers to come in with gunmen-disabling drones.

      A squadron of such drones shouldn’t cost more than a few Costco emergency food kits that goes for $6,000 each.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          I always chuckle when i see price tags that high on emergency/prepper supplies. Soak the ones as can afford it I guess….

          But do people not understand how many tons (literally) of wheat berries, pinto beans, rice, and other grains they can get with $6000? Supplemented with bulk salt, sugar, honey, spices, cocoa, and a few other luxury items….that amount of green spent on *real* emergency food and not boutique prepper items will get you & yours fed til *long* after you realize dying in the first burst of nuclear glory was the better choice in the first place.

          With the surplus cash, one can unpocket for a few pest-proof metal containers to store it in, a long-lasting supply of ceramic water filters, and probably a good effective firearm for defense.

          Don’t really need to stock up on ammo….really, just a single 12-gauge slug for yourself (and each of your surviving family members) so that you can exit, stage right, once it dawns on you that no….the rapture didn’t happen, you didn’t go right to heaven, and yes…the new post-modern Dark Age no longer has NetFlix, the Kardashians, nor much in the way of shopping….

          1. Oregoncharles

            I’m much more concerned about another financial collapse breaking the distribution system, or the great quake our area is due for.

        2. wilroncanada

          Gee PrimeBeef
          My emergency survival stash cost about $60.00. What have I done wrong?
          Oh, that is $60.00 Canadian!

      1. John

        When an incident happens…just hellfire drone the whole school and be done with it. So what’s a little collateral damage? Isn’t that US policy? And then the outside security guard won’t get dissed for not wanting to go up against an AR15 withba pistol. sarcasm alert

    2. ocop

      Honestly, I might take that offer as a stealth plan to halve the student:teacher ratio (and not through the shooting of half of the students…)

      1. wilroncanada

        Don’t give them ideas of that alternative.
        They haven’t thought of it before…maybe.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Google spends tens of millions on think tanks that back its policies

    Why not just call these tanks what they really are… lobbying/PR firms. Or fake news generators.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a model that has been around for thousands of years.

      For example, major religions have used very educated people that way.

  11. Max4241

    “Tanks in Poland are not a happening event.”

    No they are not. Alas, the glory days of the tank are over. Today a tank is just a ham sandwich to a Predator drone -and multitude of other unromantic weapon systems.

    Speaking of ham sandwiches, only three US air craft carriers are out and about. One is in the Persian Gulf, one is in the South China Sea, and one is cruising along the east coast of Japan. The rest are in home ports or in dry dock.

    In a time of heightened possibilities, 8 of 11 US carriers will not see action should the missiles start flying. In fact, the conflict, whatever it is, will likely be over before they can raise anchor.

    I find that interesting.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      By posting four copies of the same comment, you are training the automatic filters to treat you as a spammer.

      Please try to be more considerate of site administrators and other commenters going forward.

    2. wilroncanada

      They’re home mapping out new places to run aground, or to hit other ships, or maybe to train new recruits in the use of compasses, sundials and sextants.

  12. Louis Fyne

    —I can’t access many sites (the weird thing is that which sites I can get to varies, as in sites like Google, BBC, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal are sometimes accessible and sometimes not, while other sites are persistently not accessible). —

    maybe sounds like Verizon’s DNS servers are messed up? changing DNS servers *may* fix things. DNS server is analogous to a rosetta stone that converts the name of the website to the numerical address of a website.

    For anyone who encounters something similar try searching for “change DNS server” for your operating system.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Likewise, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows using a different server in another location.

    2. carycat

      What I do is configure my machines to use and as the DNS server instead of what DHCP feeds it (which typically is your ISP, or your home router/access point which proxies the ISP’s DNS server). The and is run by Google (now well pass their “do no evil” days) but they do tend to suck less. A search on the net should find directions on how to change that for the operating system you are stuck with.

    3. cyclist

      Maybe Verizon is testing some new DNS scheme that will allow them to provide slow lanes/fast lanes in light of the recent FCC rollback of network neutrality? Only kidding…. hope you get back to normal soon. I have sworn never to give another dollar to VZ if possible.

  13. Geo

    Babies Can Think Logically before They Learn to Talk

    Too bad so many seem to lose this skill after they learn to talk. :)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Baby syllogism:

      1. Every time I cry, daddy changes my diaper
      2. I need changing. I cry
      2 Here comes daddy at 3 AM.

      Cat syllogism

      1. Every time meow, the housekeeper* brings me food
      2. I am hungry now. I meow.
      3. Here comes that housekeeper!

      *Who inexplicably calls himself the master of the house.

  14. Jim Haygood

    On an inflation-adjusted basis, the Nasdaq Composite index has now exceeded its Internet bubble high of 5,048 set on March 10, 2000.

    As the new millennium dawned to epic mania, Robert Shiller’s CAPE (price vs 10-year average earnings) reached an all-time high of 45, based on the S&P 500 index.

    No one bothered to calculate the CAPE on the Nasdaq. Many of the internet bubble high-flyers had never earned a penny, and cheerfully admitted they had no prospect of doing so. But if it wasn’t infinite, the CAPE ratio of the Nasdaq in March 2000 was in the hundreds — the most extreme bubble in human history.

    Earlier this week at a new record high of 7,588, the Nasdaq was 3 percent above its Y2K Internet bubble peak after inflation adjustment. “Twin peaks” chart:

    Incredibly, the stock peddler who made this chart claims that “Adjusted for inflation, the Nasdaq is only 2.0% above the peak in 2000. That comes out to a whopping annualized return of 0.1% over the past 18 years. When someone says tech is in a bubble this chart screams that it is anything but.”

    Yeah right, dude … today’s CAPE ratio is 33, higher than it was in Sep 1929. CAPE is unavailable for the Nasdaq index, but it’s higher still. Valuations this high are patently unsustainable — scream it from the rooftops.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Any sane comparison should not use as its reference a data point from an insane moment in our history, unless it’s handled carefully.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Even if the point is that we’re NOW in ” an insane moment in our history”?

        I’ve avoided the stock market since I lost my shirt in the 70’s crash.

  15. Jim Haygood

    A clue regarding the Florida bridge collapse:

    Renderings showed a tall, off-center tower with supporting cables attached to the walkway.

    When the bridge collapsed, the main tower had not yet been installed, and it was unclear what builders were using as temporary supports.

    That tower and the stays angling down from it are not for decoration. The stays support the weight of the [brittle] bridge deck, transferring the load to the base of the tower.

    Where was the temporary support across an 8-lane street? Photos don’t show any. Probably a gross construction sequencing error. Investigators likely will focus on how the deck was supposed to be temporarily supported until the tower and stays could be installed. What was the plan?

    1. crittermom

      Such a horrifying tragedy for those affected by it. Many prayers for them.
      You make a good point.
      I’m hoping the investigation into the collapse goes further than just the mechanics of the construction, however.

      “The bridge was designed by FIGG and built by Munilla Construction – two companies who have been accused in years past of shoddy building practices.” “Munilla won the bid to build the bridge, beating out three other companies,…” “Both FIGG and Munilla have been accused in years past of unsafe practices.” “On March 5, Munilla was sued by a TSA employee at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport who claims that a pedestrian bridge built by the firm collapsed under his weight, sending him falling to the ground.” “In June 2012, a bridge built by FIGG in Virginia fell apart during construction, injuring four workers…”

      They need to follow the money regarding why, exactly; these companies ‘won’ the contract.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I don’t think Munilla has anything to worry about:

        MCM has worked on terminals at PortMiami and Miami International Airport, constructed roads and bridges, and built churches and schools. The firm, owned by Pedro Munilla and his four brothers, appeared in 90 documents on the federal hub for construction contracts, many military related, including $130 million in jobs from the Department of Defense and a $66 million school at the Navy Base at Guantánamo Bay.

        Despite this:

        Engineer left unheard voicemail warning of cracking on bridge 2 days before it collapsed, killing 6 people
        “Hey Tom, this is Denney Pate with FIGG bridge engineers. Calling to, uh, share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that’s been observed on the north end of the span, the pylon end of that span we moved this weekend,” the engineer said, according to a transcript of the call released by the Florida Department of Transportation.

        “Um, so, uh, we’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that.”


    2. PlutoniumKun

      It would be pretty remarkable if someone designed a cable stay bridge and then forgot the cable stays.

      A common feature of a number of engineering failures is that they start with one design approach and then for whatever reason (budget, aesthetics, someones preferences) another approach is taken, but completed elements of the design are not reassessed.

      I used to work with a lot of bridge engineers and I’d be curious to know why they used concrete for such a light, long span bridge. Most long span pedestrian bridge I know is primarily steel, usually a truss design as these are the easiest for spanning wide roads or railways. The only exceptions have been where cable stayed designs were chosen for aesthetic reasons (and even then, they are usually still steel). Its been the standard since the late 19th Century. Even before that, wrought iron was used, I just walked over one of the oldest in the world at lunchtime, the Liffey Bridge from 1816. It stayed structurally sound for 180 years, until it was substantively rebuilt for safety reasons.

      But most failures like this are blamed on construction, not design. So often its something very mundane, like a mistake made in a concrete mix that can cause all sorts of problems. They may have been stress testing it, which could have precipitated a failure if it was carried out by someone inexperienced.

      1. B1whois

        The new San francisco-oakland Bay Bridge, completed in 2015, has a single Tower suspension bridge portion, and is made from reinforced concrete. So it is done. This case probably involved precast prestressed concrete for the structure, given the 6-hour construction window.

      2. Steve H.

        “Just before the bridge’s concrete main span abruptly gave way on Thursday, crushing four people in cars to death and injuring others, a contractor’s crews were conducting stress tests on the incomplete structure”

  16. Katy

    Babies Can Think Logically before They Learn to Talk

    Two thoughts occur to me on this. First, it is already known babies can communicate using language before they can talk. My friends taught their babies sign language before they could talk. It seemed to help the kids greatly that they could communicate their thoughts even though they couldn’t speak the words.

    Second, I read that magicians can’t impress children under about age 5 with magic tricks. You have to have an expectation of what is going to happen in order to have your expectations defied. The youngest kids see the trick, then apparently think to themselves, “oh, I guess that’s something that happens in the world.”

    1. Oregoncharles

      My son could and did imitate an entire speech, like answering the phone, complete with intonations, before he could say an intelligible word.

      Rather like chimpanzees or bonobos, who can’t speak but can sign.

  17. RenoDino

    From Bloomberg:

    “May told lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia’s sarcasm, contempt and defiance in the face of allegations that it was behind the use of a military-grade nerve agent in the sleepy city of Salisbury added to the evidence that it was to blame.”

    From the country that brought you habeas corpus, you can now add sarcasm to proof of guilt. “Defiance in the face of allegations” is now evidence of blame. “Contempt” is best understood as a legal term e.g. being disrespectful to a legislative body or investigation and in this case warranted.

    Putin has a lot to learn about election interference.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Young warthog destroys furniture.

    In defense of the poor guy, I must say that, and let’s be frank here, furniture is very unnatural…man-made, like Global Warming.

    Shelters, on the other hand, can be found in Nature. Birds build them, for example.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wouldn’t be so damaging if they would just limit themselves to hunting for trophy wives.

    2. meeps


      No kidding! I saw Jane’s a few months back. They did the live body suspension act and all. Hard to witness, but nothing compared to the news du jour. Idiots rule.

  19. temporal

    One of the unfortunate side-effects of using computers to do homework, besides the fact that it ruins children’s ability to learn, is that the dog can no longer be blamed for eating one’s homework. Fortunately for children in this tech age the new gold standard for shirking responsibility has become “the Russians attacked my stuff but won’t tell me why or how they did it”. If nearly all government leaders can just make stuff up, and threaten others without being bothered to justify their claims the strategy has got to work in classrooms. If not simply submit the teacher’s name to the “Ministry of Love” and explain the facts as you understand them to the replacement.

      1. carycat

        The dog did destroy my daughter’s laptop keyboard by jumping on it while the laptop was open and lying on the floor. I’ve never seen a dog eating paper, so maybe “dog ate my laptop” will work better as an excuse.

        1. makedoanmend

          The Russians ate my homework.

          Would that dog who destroyed the keyboard by any chance be a borzoi or sulimov?

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump advisor: The wealthy can’t be corrupt because they’re wealthy MSNBC (UserFriendly)

    Actually, when one is being apathetic, being cold-blooded all the time, one has no time to be ‘corrupt,’

    That is to say, for example, the moral state of a wealthy person before he/she shuts down a plant and moves it offshore is the same after. Nothing has been ‘corrupted.’

    Every action follows logically under the name of achieving maximum wealth.

    And we can only wish they are not so logical…”Mr. Spock, use your heart for once!”

  21. Wukchumni

    What Happens After the Worst Happens? Places

    Great article~

    A buddy & I were on a PNW roadtrip in 1987, and they had only recently opened a 15 mile ring road around Mt. St. Helens, and we took a drive on it, and it was kind of boring after awhile, as the devastation all looked precisely the same, with no varying in it’s new rendering of the landscape. some 7 years after eruption.

    Limbless tree trunks laying on the ground all pointed in one direction were being harvested by lumbering companies with heavy equipment, as we drove past, it seemed as if they had years of work ahead of them.

    On the way to Mammoth on Hwy 395, you drive across a large stretch of thick lava flows, that emanated from the lowest volcano in the Golden State in the Coso Volcanic Field. Must’ve been quite the scene when it erupted, 10,000 to 15,000 years ago.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I had a few misgivings about the article.

      Looking at the images of devastation wrought by the volcanic eruption I was reminded of thoughts I had after living briefly in the Seattle area. On a clear day Mount Rainier felt uncomfortably near. Were it to erupt I’m not sure how that might affect Seattle.

      As I read further I recalled memories of a drive I made to Seattle along the coast route in the 1980s. I had hoped to see the vast expanses of trees that I saw when I went to the Seattle World’s Fair as a boy. Instead I saw not quite thick enough Potemkin forests with a clear cut moonscape in the background. The tail of this article seemed to be arguing whether old growth forest should be preferred over the staged growth that preceded it in the transitions of the land. I even recall seeing the word ‘harvest’ in a discussion of cutting down trees. The idea of harvesting an old growth forest in turn reminded me of the forests I saw in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The trees were only so tall and so wide after the sometimes 100 years since the old forests had been ‘harvested’.

      A further thought bothered me. The contentions between ecological planners and designers versus ecologists favoring a natural progress of reforestation described near the end of the article suggested problems which might trouble responses to Climate Disruption. Climate Disruption is killing trees and plants on a geographic scale which might make a natural progress of recovery much more problematic. If a pine forest dies off are there enough acorns in the ground to start the new growth appropriate to the new climate? Can humankind wait for the slow progress of new flora to new climate zones, zones more and more rapidly shifting away from nearest the dying flora which might florish in the new zones? I am very skeptical of geoengineering but I believe humankind will, for its own sake, need to help move plant life. Plants will eventually get by without us but we need them.

      1. Oregoncharles

        N. America and Europe already went through that successional process, when the glaciers retreated. Of course, moving climate zones like that put a premium on plants that can also move. A good example would be oaks and other nuts, which are spread by birds, mostly jays, that store the nuts, in the ground, sometimes hundreds of yards away. Even Oregon myrtles/California bay are spread this way. Squirrels do this, too, but not quite so far. Similarly, berry plants are spread when the birds defecate after flying away.

        The same is not true of most conijfers, other than yews, though some pines have winged seeds very like maples, and some have large enough seeds that jays bury them too. Oddly enough, NW forests have a rather large proportion of berries and nuts.

        I suppose we’re going to find out just how fast ecozones can move.

      2. Oregoncharles

        And a second thought: St. Helens is nothing to the Yellowstone supervolcano, which would eviscerate the continent if it blew – as it has done before. There seems to be informed disagreement about just how often.

    1. Mel

      Yeah, surprising.
      I think it all goes back to that meeting with the CIA, just after inauguration. The meeting didn’t go well, so Trump was whisked away on his way out of the building, and replaced by a double, who had been readied as part of a plan B. That’s why we’re seeing all this. That’s what I think.

        1. Edward E

          Oh come on, every Friday when the White House weather report is STORMY, they pass out umbrella distractions.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I wonder what Juanita Broaddrick would have to say about her case vs. a consensual relationship. Nobody advised Stormy to “put some ice on that” on their way out the door, so far as I know.

            Remember the “reality-based community,” back in the day? Good times.

      1. wilroncanada

        Economic nationalist was the truth, non-interventionist was a lie.
        Plan C in any imperial nationalism is war.
        Plan A is to negotiate a one-sided agreement to benefit only the imperium, but to share a few tidbits with the foreign elites.
        Plan B is to use economic muscle, subterfuge, secret services, and international agencies designed by the imperium to threaten the subjects.
        Plan C is to then kick the s**t out of any recalcitrant others.
        The US is getting close to plan C.

  22. timbers

    If I were Trump, I’d fire Mueller and say something like “He’s ignored criminal behavior in plain site by Obama and Hillary and his partisan bias hurts America.”

    That would play well with his base, and it’s clear Mueller is indeed ignoring the crimes of Obama and Hillary and instead focusing on any and all far beyond his mandate to serve the Deep State’s war agenda.

    Would Trump be ousted? Maybe. Depends how Republicans decide if they benefit more from keeping him, or more from serving the Deep State war agenda that most of them believe in.

  23. The Rev Kev

    Russia Will Respond If US Attacks Syrian Government Forces

    There is a saying from Star Trek and it goes like this: “Don’t push the pink-skins to the thin ice!” and I suspect that it applies here. I am seeing signs now that the Russians are about jack with the way that they have been treated. I think an inflexion point was that attack that was slaughtered by US air and artillery a few weeks ago. About a dozen Russian contractors were killed which more than a few western figures were crowing about but here is the kicker. Those Russians weren’t even in the battle. They were in another location altogether. The Pentagon must have known that they were there by their radio traffic which can only mean that it was murder. It was probably part of the body-bags that the US State Department promised the Russians. And it is not the first time stuff like this has happened.
    With the announcement of Russian’s new strategic weapons, they know that a first strike on their country is now out of the question which gives them some leeway. And with the liberation of Eastern Ghouta and the freeing of the trapped civilians the war is going into a new phase and the west is threatening to strike the Syrian forces if they keep on winning (yeah, I know how stupid that sounds). However, the Russians have now stated that their boys are embedded with the Syrians and any strike will be met with fire. As Ghouta is just east of Damascus, you can bet that the Russians have this region covered. Remember that both the Russian and Syrian air defenses are linked which includes Russia’s S-400 long-range surface-to-air missiles as well as Pantsir-S1 short-to-medium range air defense systems. And these systems actually work.
    At this point I do not think that the Russians are in a mood to let any more of their citizens get killed by either coalition attacks or coalition-directed Jihadist attacks like in the past. Those days are gone and now they have given fair warning. The only problem is that the US is not a united country but is one made up of various satrapies and the Pentagon is the satrapy that will decide what they will attempt to do here regardless of what Washington wants – as shown by past events. Watch this space.

    I’m looking at that image of the puppy and I am calling it as an apricot Standard Poodle puppy.

    1. Pat

      I’m calling that puppy adorable.

      (And I would buy your take on Russia sooner than any of our government analysts.)

  24. Jim Haygood

    Pat Buchanan on the R party’s looming comeuppance:

    After the victory of Donald Trump in 2016, the GOP held the Senate and House, two-thirds of the governorships, and 1,000 more state legislators than they had on the day Barack Obama took office.

    “The Republican Party has not been this dominant in 90 years,” went the exultant claim.

    A year later, Republicans lost the governorship of Virginia and almost lost the legislature.

    Came then the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in ruby-red Alabama.

    Tuesday, Democrats captured a House seat in a Pennsylvania district Trump carried by 20 points, and where Democrats had not even fielded a candidate in 2014 and 2016.

    Republicans lately congratulating themselves on a dominance not seen since 1928, might revisit what happened to the Class of 1928.

    In 1930, Republicans lost 52 House seats, portending the loss of both houses of Congress and the White House in 1932 to FDR who would go on to win four straight terms. For the GOP, the ’30s were the dreadful decade.

    Is the GOP staring at another 1930?


    Buchanan’s sole error is that “Perhaps” should be replaced by “God willing!” ;-)

    1. Lambert Strether

      Except this time the Democrats won’t make the foolish mistake — from the elite standpoint — of electing an FDR. It took over 80 years of concerted effort to undo that, and it’s not gonna happen again. They think.

  25. Lee

    May’s toothless tough talk on Russia Politico

    “Toothless tough talk”: now there’s a grotesquely laughable image.

  26. M Raymond Torres

    Austin, Texas

    What the Intercept inexplicably fails to mention is that the bombings here happened during and in the run-up to the South By Southwest Music, Film & Interactive Festival. This event is the biggest money-maker of the year for Austin’s huge hospitality sector. It brought an estimated $325 million into the city in 2016. (In comparison, Super Bowl LI brought a $347 million economic impact to the Houston economy and the 2016 Final Four brought a $324 million economic impact to the economy of Phoenix, Arizona.)

    I think the reasons for the MSM and Trump’s down-playing of these bombings are much more mundane and cynical than the Intercept portrays. I also can’t help but read equal cynicism into its decision to leave that crucial piece of information out of the article.

  27. jo6pac

    He does a good job in this roaming charges to explain who has the chemical and who doesn’t. I remember reading about the Americans that were in charge of this. They couldn’t believe nothing was locked up but the locals know not to enter the grounds. Some the most dangerous chemical in the world were left normal reffers and freezers the only good thing was the power was still on at the site.

    Jeffrey St. Clair

    Starts here “Darling Nikki Haley’s ” but of roaming charges is a great read.

  28. Carey

    If anyone knows of a link to good info on when exit polling was discontinued during
    the 2016 Democrat party primaries, and the nominal reasoning for same, please post it.


    1. M Raymond Torres

      Exit polls are local and the primaries are held on different dates with some states caucusing instead. What is it you’re after?

  29. Edward E

    Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia

    Same day a couple files for a quickie uncontested divorce, one where assets can be swiftly transferred. Oh, it’s probably all just a coincidence. Rumours were Vanessa Trump and DT Jr had marital problems for a while.

    1. Scott

      But once the divorce is finalized, ex-spouses can testify against you. There are rumors that the immunity is the reason that Weiner and Abedin never actually got divorced. It would probably be worse for Trump if it goes through.

      1. Edward E

        Good points. If that happens, can’t you just see him calling it a ‘fake’ divorce? Oops

    2. Lambert Strether

      I’m so old I remember when the Mueller investigation wasn’t a fishing expedition.

      I don’t have any issue with regarding the Trump Clan as a ginormous hairball of corruption. What’s not clear to me is how the Trumps are to be differentiated from the rest of our elites, except on matters of personal style.

  30. petal

    Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, NY-25) has died after a fall last week.

    “She was elected to Congress in 1986. Prior to that, Slaughter served in the New York State Assembly from 1982 to 1986 and the Monroe County Legislature between 1976 and 1979. While holding elected office, she was regional coordinator to Mario Cuomo from 1976 to 1978 while he served as secretary of state and from 1979 to 1982 while he served as lieutenant governor.

    Slaughter was the oldest member of the House of Representatives.”

    Here is a link to another article:

  31. Jim Haygood

    Jack Lew vs Stephanie Kelton — who you gonna believe?

    Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Friday that the recent round of tax cuts and spending increases leaves the country unable to respond to an economic downturn.

    Few disagree that the tax cuts and spending increases are setting up an unpredecented fiscal gap outside of a recession. This week, Goldman Sachs forecast the budget deficit would reach 5.4% of GDP by 2021, up from 3.5% last year.

    Lew’s contention that the U.S. would not have the fiscal capacity to respond, however, isn’t universally shared. A view espoused most famously by former Bernie Sanders aide Stephanie Kelton [is] that the only restraint on U.S. fiscal spending is the inflation it would cause.

    Presumably Jack Lew is indulging in a bit of hyperbole. It’s not that the US can’t peddle $2.5 trillion a year of Treasuries in the next recession — but rather that bad things happen when the privilege of sovereign borrowing is abused so recklessly.

    The monstrous surge in federal debt post-2008 gave us the slowest recovery ever. When debt-to-GDP soars over 125% in the next recession, “recovery” will be little more than the hollow political slogan of a growth cargo cult, foaming the runway for jobs that never arrive.

    1. John k

      Problem was at GD level. Not so bad because no run on banks or loss of savings.
      But lack of demand was extreme. And much deficit spending went to banks, so no demand from that. Problem was far too little spending overall, a level not present at other recessions.
      There is no issue with public sector debt. Fed did buy it all, could sell it all back to treasury for a dozen pieces of platinum stamped 1T each… fed balance sheet happily balanced, now US has no debt. Simple.
      Private sector debt different because it is choking off demand. Good start here is student debt jubilee, treasury buys the lot for a couple more chunks of platinum.

  32. EoH

    Regarding London-based reader’s comments about why Skripal would be living in Salisbury, the comment is exactly right. On the map, Salisbury appears to be a small, attractive, provincial city, over an hour by rail from London. It is famous for its cathedral, Constable’s images of it, and its association with the Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope.

    In real life, as London-based reader points out, Salisbury is the epicenter of major nodes in the British military-industrial complex. (As Georgian Harrogate and Georgian Gloucester are famously associated with GCHQ.) Half of the Salisbury Plain was requisitioned for army maneuvers in 1898 (leaving the other half virtually uninhabitable), when Churchill was a subaltern. Porton Down’s CBRN facility was established shortly thereafter, about 1915, when poison gas was first being used in World War One.

    I agree that Salisbury would be the perfect place for a still active Skripal to reside. I would note that he moved there when he resettled in England after his release from six years in Russian prison and paid cash for his new home. Even for a former Colonel of the GRU, still having nearly three hundred thousand pounds, shortly after being released from a Russian prison, seems like a lot.

    1. EoH

      Resettlement allowance and back pay, but without the usual fast cars (well, there was the red BMW), the women and the membership to Blades.

  33. EoH

    Regarding Gunz, to state the obvious, the NRA is nuts. Schools don’t adequately pay their teachers now. Tax dollars redirected to private charter schools makes fixing that harder. They could not afford to pay for gunz training for teachers, let alone buy the gunz. Paying for a second teacher, or even for having a gun-qualified adult, in the classroom would be right out. The “plan” is another, intentionally unworkable, unfunded mandate that, if attempted, would feed the NRA by increasing gun sales and training and by reinforceing the gunz, gunz, gunz culture. It is a distraction meant to derail effective reform.

    As for the recent unintentional classroom discharge of a teacher/reserve police officer’s weapon, the stupid burns. Why was the gun in the classroom? Why was it loaded? What professional demonstrates that a gun is unloaded by firing it – instead of removing the clip and opening the receiver, allowing visual confirmation that no round is in the chamber?

    And what school sends a student home with bullet shrapnel lodged in his neck? One would think that a discharged round and blood on the neck would have suggested a trip to the hospital emergency room would have been the more prudent course. When it comes to gunz, prudence seems to go out the window. Let’s bring it back in.

    1. Lead Bow

      Surely the answer is to have a roster of Mums, armed to the teeth, in every classroom to protect their little ones.

      Then again, I’m not a USAian, thank God.

  34. Buttinsky

    Regarding your London-reader’s comments on the Skripal affair and the ex-spy’s presence in Salisbury:

    Apparently, (retired?) MI6 agent Pablo Miller had an address in Salisbury as well. Miller is reported to have recruited Skripal in Russia or, at the very least, been one of his handlers. Miller was also reported to have had an association with Christopher Steele’s outfit Orbis. But, it seems, that information comes from Miller’s Linkedin page, which has been scrubbed since the current controversy.

    Whether or not the presence of old “pal” Miller in Salisbury explains Skripal’s ending up there, the possible link to Orbis has understandably fueled speculation about Skripal’s role in the Steele dossier on Trump. Of course, that’s just one of many questions in what has quickly acquired all the unsavory elements (chiefly in the form of wildly unsubstantiated claims and outright lacunae such as detailed medical/scientific reports on the Skripals’ “exposure”) of a major propaganda campaign by the West.

  35. perpetualWAR

    If some of you wish to respond to Julian Zelizer, the author of that horrendous Obama legacy article (gag), his email can be found. He resides at Princeton University.

    I just sent him a scathing email, as should the rest of you.

  36. Jim Haygood

    We don’t need no stinkin’ infrastructure:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan met with Republicans from New York and New Jersey Wednesday afternoon, informing them that the New York-born president plans to veto a spending bill if it includes $900 million in funds for a new Amtrak tunnel.

    A new $12.7 billion tunnel under the Hudson River would add redundancy to the aging rail tunnels that connect New Jersey and New York City. Those tunnels, completed in 1908, carry more than 200,000 commuters a day and are in need of major repair.

    Amtrak has said the existing tunnels are at risk of imminent failure. An emergency closure of one of the existing tunnels would reduce train capacity by up to 75%, project backers said, and the resulting disruption to the regional economy could be crippling.

    Un-family-blogging believable — hundreds of billions for our value-subtraction military, but not a penny for critical infrastructure in the nation’s financial capital.

    This is how the Soviet Union went down, with its public infrastructure visibly crumbling as shiny new tanks clanked through Red Square in the annual military parade.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One defense put up by Stalin’s Soviet Union was their intentionally poor infrastructure so that it would be difficult for the Wehrmacht to advance rapidly.

      There is some lesson in that history for our Russo-phobics to learn from.

  37. Raymond

    your internet problem sounds like a computer problem at Verizon with their DNS name server.

    yes you can have more than one name server listed in on your Apple computer

    Choose Apple menu > System Preferenes, then click Network.
    In the list at the left, select the network connection service you want to use (such as Wi-Fi or Ethernet), then click Advanced.
    Click DNS, then click the button at the bottom of the DNS Servers list. …
    When you’re finished, click OK.
    the link below is for Google DNS information

    and this link below is for free DNS

    I hope this help

  38. Jeff W

    Babies Can Think Logically before They Learn to Talk

    The premise rebutted this research—that language is a necessary precondition for logical reasoning capacities—struck me as awfully weird.

    All sorts of behavior indicating the capacity for logic occurs—in people and other animals—in the absence of language. (It’s not like we need to have fully formed syllogisms in our heads before we act in ways that are viewed as logical.) In fact, chimpanzees outperform humans in some forms of strategic reasoning so they might be viewed as acting more logically than people.

    1. HotFlash

      My cats can work a lot of puzzles out, some better than others. My best logician (judging by his problem-solving and communicating) is the worst athlete, BTW, and the guy with the perpetual question mark over his head in any situation may (and does) walk down the wrong side of an open door, but by golly, can he jump. Calculus cat!

    1. Oregoncharles

      From the linked promotional pdf:
      “The main span was built next to
      Southwest 8th Street using Accelerated
      Bridge Construction methods being
      researched at FIU’s Accelerated
      Bridge Construction University
      Transportation Center. These methods
      reduce potential risks to workers,
      commuters and pedestrians and
      minimize traffic interruptions.”

      I was especially impressed by the last sentence.

  39. audrey jr

    Oops, confused Jack Welch with Jack Lew on that snarky comment I just left.
    Jack Lew is probably grifting privately now with some gawd-awful P.E. or hedge fund.
    Jack Welch is the one who has got some river cleanin’ to do.
    Maybe Elizabeth Holmes’ judge could put her to work cleaning up the east river for her community service requirement.

  40. Oregoncharles

    Let me tell you about another “instant bridge,” the Fremont, which is the northern freeway bridge over the Willamette in Portland. (Portland is “bridge city” because it straddles a big river.) The center span was built on the ground somewhere else, like that pedestrian bridge in Miami, and lifted into place – I wish I’d been there to see that. IT DIDN’T FIT. I don’t remember now whether it had to be shortened or stretched, but it was quite a crisis. Somebody’s “oh, s..t” moment.

    I think of this whenever we cross it.

    It’s held up by an arch, rather than suspended like the one that fell; I suspect it was the suspension that failed.

  41. Oregoncharles

    “No one is gonna attack Russia.” You’re an optimist, and I never thought I’d call you that.

    I remember the depths of the Cold War and the Cuban MIssile Crisis – terrifying, and a cause of the youth rebellion that constituted “the 60s”. I never thought anybody would be irresponsible enough to bring that back, but today they are. And the chief villains, like Hillary, are old enough to know better.

    Where’s the peace movement?

  42. Mat

    Are you sure that Verizon is not beta-testing their new net-partial routing systems? Better get used to some sites loading well while others not…

  43. oh

    Sorry to hear that Verizon’s screwing up your ‘net access. Looks like Net “Neuter”ity is at work.

  44. The Rev Kev

    Barack Obama’s legacy

    Look, I can understand where this guy Julian Zelizer is coming from. He launched his book a month ago and obviously wants to plug it every opportunity he gets. The stuff in it will also help him get those invites to Martha’s Vinyard and the Hamptons. If this is the sort of stuff that he wants to teach the kids of the elites at Princeton then more power to him. People are entitled to their illusions after all. However, this all put a thought into my head.
    After eight years we now know what Obama was all about, right? Who he tried to protect, who his friends really were, what his priorities were and what sort of character he had. I will let other commentators fill in the blanks here.
    It is also true that he is sometimes compared unfavourably to FDR when that man took the Presidency back in 1933 and all the actions that FDR undertook to basically reform capitalism. The agencies that he created to get Americans back to work, the public work projects, etc.
    So, here is my little thought experiment. Imagine the year that FDR took up the Presidency back in 1933 and taking his oath on the bible. Now imaging that FDR turned out to have the exact same character and priorities as Barack Obama – a twin if you will. Now think of how the history of the United States would have evolved from that point, especially in the ’30s and ’40s.

  45. Ignacio

    RE:France, Germany, UK, US blame Moscow for ex-spy chemical attack – joint declaration DW

    This reminds me the Azores meeting (Bush, Blair, Aznar)

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