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Links 3/17/18

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Kiss a leprechaun or drink some green beer for me.

I am again in Starbucks, plodding away due to Verizon having an outage that has now lasted a full three days. I am having to give up one of my three “must have” weekly weight training sessions as a result :-(

One might reasonably ask why someone who depends on the Internet has no backup connectivity on premises. The reasons are:

1. Smartphones are the usual solution. I have only a dumbphone to reduce my surveillance state observation surface

2. I wasted money getting a hotspot, Karma. It is a 4G network and advertises that it has signal all over Manhattan. However, it does not get signal in my apartment. I chewed out the Karma people. I had used it once or twice in airports that didn’t have free WiFi, so it was definitely a signal issue, not a device issue. I also have trouble getting regular cell phone signal in my apartment (admittedly not on a 4G network), so it isn’t clear that a smartphone would be a remedy even if I were willing to get one. I am the Typhoid Mary of technology, which is another reason I stick with antiques that I know work. It fits my profile to have a dead zone in my apartment

National Park Service proposes reintroducing wolves on Isle Royale Quetico Superior Foundation (Chuck L)

How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz ars technica (Dr. Kevin). Sorry, I am not impressed. First, humans are the ones writing the quizzes. This takes author time away from generating new content. No evidence that this takes less time than the sort of (hopefully) light touch, trigger driven moderation we use. Second, doing the quiz is a barrier to commenting and also takes user time away from reading other posts. I’d never comment on a site that made me do that and I might even avoid it out of pique.

Romanian court tells man he is not alive Guardian

Why Irish America Is Not Evergreen New York Review of Books

Why we must have the right to call Allah gay spiked (Chuck L). I would go for “bisexual” but the same general principle applies.

Entire broadband industry will help FCC defend net neutrality repeal ars technica

North Korea

What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit Counterpunch

China?

The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China Pepe Escobar, Counterpunch

Aung San Suu Kyi: lawyers seek prosecution for crimes against humanity Guardian

Deutsche Bank Just Never Disappoints Wolf Richter

“A REMARKABLE NATIONAL EFFORT”: THE DISMAL ARITHMETIC OF AUSTERITY Critical Macro Finance. UK example.

Oxfam hit by second sex scandal over Haiti The Times. Some readers were annoyed when we treated the first set of stories as a big deal…

New Cold War

Foreign secretary blames Putin for attack on spy Financial Times. Lead story.

Russian spy poisoning: chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack Guardian

FEC probes whether NRA got illegal Russian donations Politico

It’s all Putin’s fault… but still he wins Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Governments Decree ‘Truth’ About Skripal – Dissenters Will Be Punished Moon of Alabama

Shakespeare said it best William Blum (Wat)

Another observation from our reader who knows Salisbury (he sent this yesterday right after his initial comment but I somehow missed it):

If anyone had wanted him dead, they could have simply knifed him in the city centre on a Friday night. It would have gone completely unnoticed https://www.police.uk/wiltshire/Wiltshire%20South/crime/violent-crime/stats/#crime_trend in all the other crimes. The place is one of those typically genteel English towns (it’s only a city because its a cathedral city) where everything is peaceful and quiet in the sticks, the local hotheads get boozed up and let off steam in the pub quarter in the city centre. I wouldn’t go there after dark unless I had to and was with a group.

NATO Expansion: What Yeltsin Heard National Security Archive. Chuck L: “And we wonder why the Russians are pissed off!”

Syraqistan

NATO Relocates Middle East Airbase from Turkey to Jordan 21st Century Wire. Chuck L: “This is a big deal:

It is now clear that NATO is not sure, metaphorically speaking, which direction is Turkey going to fly in, and where it may eventually land. It is panicking and searching, ‘just in case’, for an exit strategy; almost for an escape plan from the most important regional power.”

Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Top three stunning admissions from the top U.S. general in the Middle East Haaretz (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facial Scanning Now Arriving At U.S. Airports NPR. If this takes hold, my air traveling days are at an end. Write your Congressman and say that this is an outrage and a violation of privacy. The best route is for all California readers to write the Governor and AG and if you are in any sanctuary cities, the mayor and city’s counsel and say this is among other things, designed to target undocumented immigrants and will also sweep Muslims and ordinary Americans who deserve to have their privacy preserved into a dragnet. Note that airport are municipally owned, and Orlando is a de facto Disney colony. If you are in New York, I would also write our mayor. Send copies to the customer service addresses of the major airlines (use your frequent flier # if you have one) and tell them you will avoid hubs that have this equipment in place.

Amazon Is Hiring More Developers For Alexa Than Google Is Hiring For Everything Slashdot

Facebook Announces Plan To Combat Fake News Stories By Making Them Actually Happen Onion (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On Counterpunch

Trump Transition

Stormy Daniels Faces $20 Million in Damages in Trump Lawsuit Bloomberg. I was wondering why it took so long for this to happen. She’d almost certainly breached the NDA already with what she’d said to the press and in her suit. In a well drafted NDA, the mere disclosure of its existence is a breach.

John Kelly: Rex Tillerson Was on the Toilet When I Told Him He’d Be Getting Fired Daily Beast. Reminiscent of Tywin Lannister’s end. Nevertheless, why would anyone work for the Trump Administration after this? “Firing” him was bad enough, particularly since it’s not hard to infer that the reason for his ouster had nada to do with his performance and everything to do with his not-sufficiently-aggressive stance on Iran. But this is childish and nasty.

FBI’s Andrew McCabe is fired a little more than 24 hours before he could retire Washington Post (Kevin W). More petty vindictiveness. Earth to Trump: Punching down is a sign of weakness.

Cabinet shakeups give Democrats a chance to block Trump picks Politico

The Democrats May Need a Blue Tsunami to Win Back the House in 2018 Alternet

Hensarling’s last stand: Blocking banking bill Politico (Chuck L)

Kill Me Now

The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography Counterpunch (Michael Hudson)

Trump is a freak of political nature. Here’s how you can beat him. Washington Post (UserFriendly) The Dems refuse to get that their combination of vilification (“deplorables”) and patronization (“let them eat STEM training”) is losing them the bottom 80%. Do you see anything in this rant that is about policy? Nope. And that is no accident.

Gunz

When ALL Gun Owners are Shunned Global Guerrillas. Chuck L: “Robb uses guns in his example, but this could be applied to a wide variety of aspects of life.”

FIU bridge death toll reaches 6; cracking had been reported to state days before collapse Miami Herald

Is this strip-mining or journalism? ‘Sobs, gasps, expletives’ over latest Denver Post layoffs. Washington Post

Paulson takes an axe to his struggling hedge fund Financial Times. We were one of the few to see that Paulson was not all he is cracked up to be. Anyone who read Greg Zuckerberg’s account of the subprime short strategy that made Paulson super rich, The Greatest Trade Ever, would see that it wasn’t Paulson but a subordinate who identified the opportunity. More important, Paulson had business career of not living up to his potential yet having an ego like the outdoors. Ruthless examination is important in a hedgie (they have to be willing to abandon trading ideas when they aren’t working out) and the need for validation is a big obstacle. Finally, there was considerable evidence even in the book that Paulson was lousy at risk management and took highly concentrated bets. That’s great when it works out, but the odds favor it catching up with you over time.

Justice Department Widens Wells Fargo Sales Investigation to Wealth Management Wall Street Journal. The FBI is conducting interviews. This is serious. Yet the board increased Tim Sloan’s bonus. Moreover, they may have a disclosure problem. I haven’t verified it, but see this comment from Doug Jones in the Journal’s comment section:

The last SEC filing I saw from Wells said their legal liabilities in these matters was now over

$4 billion. Is Mr. Sloan a mental cripple that he cannot call Vice President Autumn C. Way in Minnesota to corroborate this hole that remains open in the hull of the ship?

Class Warfare

Who owns water? The US landowners putting barbed wire across rivers Guardian

Goldman Sachs bonuses for women 40% less than men’s Financial Times

Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women Bloomberg

The National Academies take a hard look at the safety and quality of abortion care in the U.S. Los Angeles Times (Kevin W). A class issue masquerading as a gender issue.

Uber’s Biggest Rival Is Experimenting With All-You-Can-Ride Monthly Subscriptions Time. Prescription for adverse selection, as in only heavy users will sign up. And how do you give surge pricing inducements to drivers? This looks like a way to burn cash even faster.

“Should We Be Worried?”: Tech Geniuses Fret That A.I. Is Gonna Kill Us All—Soonish Vanity Fair (David L)

The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t Bernie Sanders, Guardian

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence R):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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164 comments

  1. Pogonip

    Cute dogs! Irish terriers today—tomorrow, they’ll go back to being Scottish terriers.

    Happy St Pat’s day, Yves, and may the leprechauns restore your connectivity soon.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Well, the clock stopped ticking for ex-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe last night, when Jeff Sessions fired him two days before his eligibility for full retirement on his 50th birthday (an exorbitant privilege not on offer to the hoi polloi).

    McCabe came out swinging: “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”

    Interesting assertion, after an advance-released portion of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report fingered McCabe for “lack of candor under oath.” This is a defense attorney’s dream on cross-exam: “The Inspector General said you lied under oath, Mr McCabe. Are you lying to us right now?”

    Gotta love the cute euphemism “lack of candor under oath” for insiders. When little people do it, it morphs into “lying” (bad) and they go to prison. If only Michael Flynn had known the secret safe word, he coulda got off with probation. ;-)

    Andy’ll be back on his feet in no time. “Welcome to your new job at CNN,” as one commentator joked(?). Or if he’s not an MSM kind of guy, there’s always the Clinton Foundation.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Commentator on cable this morning lamented the fact that loss of this “pension” amounted to a “multi-million dollar ‘fine.’ ”

      The guy is only 50 years old, was with the fbi for 20 whole years and, as a result of that lengthy time in “service” to america, will live off the taxpayer for the next 30 years or so to the tune of millions of dollars.

      Setting aside the absurdity of even calling such an arrangement a “pension,” anyone who gets in on that sweet a deal had better be as pure as the driven snow, and this guy ain’t. Tough frickin’ luck. Go work for wells fargo.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I recall another commentator on a local TV show interviewing a person who claimed, with some support, to have bought and lost a multi-million-payout Lotto ticket. The tears were genuine, all around, and the call-in commenters were SO SO IDENTIFIED and solicitous of the loser… We all see ourselves in those missed payoff situations, don’t we? Us “temporarily embarrassed millionaires?” Kind of like the feelings many have about women getting 40% smaller bonuses for their part in looting the country and advancing the sweep of globalized neoliberal austerity… “That could have been ME!”

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This part of public pension is like its private counterpart – we’re talking about the top part.

        The 90% (+/-) of the workers in neither sector don’t see that kind of money.

        And, not as dramatic as pension spiking or last-minute pension losses, but equally or more devastating (in its wider scale) is receiving less Social Security due to non-representational inflation measurements. Or worse, due to some sort of grand bargaining.

        1. Anon

          Not to defend McCabe, but law enforcement, across the nation, have similar pension vestment terms. Most allow retirement (pension benefits) after 25 years and attainment of age 55. (That’s a potential rationale why the Florida high school resource officer (police man, `~55 Y.O.) didn’t confront the shooter. He knew he might die in the confrontation—no retirement benefits for him, personally.)

          And, many state retirement pensions allow receipt of benefits at age 50, IF you have 30 years of service. (I knew a woman who started as a secretary at 18 and worked thirty long years in that capacity until 48. She drew her state pension at 50.

          McCabe is likely to ask for a review of his status in a court of law and find positive relief. (That doesn’t diminish the pettiness of Trump.)

        2. Allegorio

          A modest proposal to enhance Social Security, take all these outrageous and corrupt private pensions and fold them into Social Security, before they are looted by private equity. Let’s see if the elite can live on $2,500 a month.

          1. JTMcPhee

            State employees, and most of the few “private pension-“benefitted employees, generally are not part of the Elite. Thanks, though, for offering a helpful notion to said Elite, on one avenue to advance the attack on Social Security by taking away earned benefits and making them more easily subject to looting by Wall Street (which 24/7 is working to turn SS into another 401k program).

            And of course corruption and power and human greed produce examples of egregious abuses of “fairness” in the pension corners of the political economy. But legislating by anecdote is a Sucker Game largely played by people who actively seek to kill off any bits of the General Welfare and the hated bits of the New Deal…

      1. Louis Fyne

        i’m not going to defend Sessions or McCabe. I got no dog in the fight. but the basic rule is don’t start a fight you can’t finish.

        Presumably Sessions knows firing McCabe will draw media ire. So presumably that inspector general report is the ace up Sessions’ sleeve.

        get your popcorn ready. Swamp Wars round 1: Sessions versus a 20-year Clintonista.

        1. Jim Haygood

          presumably that inspector general report is the ace up Sessions’ sleeve.

          None of us know what Sessions has got on McCabe until the IG report comes out. [Comey is rushing to get his book out in front of it, a remarkably cheeky move in itself.]

          Say, for instance, that McCabe was found not only to have misled the FISA court into wiretapping the Trump campaign with obscurely footnoted oppo research, but also to have conspired with Strzok to suborn Judge Rudy Contreras at a cocktail party to grease the skids for it. That would constitute a Watergate-level offense, for which firing would be merely the prelude to indictment.

          But I jest, of course. Surely a guy whose wife took $675,000 from Clinton henchman Terry McAuliffe would walk the straight and narrow, in accordance with the spotless ethical standards of the McAuliffes and Clintons.

          1. TimmyB

            McCabe, in his prepared statement, claims “To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair.”

            I wonder how many people who have been convicted and imprisoned for the felony of lying to federal investigators, the same offense McCabe is merely being fired for, were also “distracted in the midst of chaotic events.” Most likely all of them I imagine. Thus, I have very little sympathy for McCabe, who seems to be getting the wrist slap of dismissal instead of federal prosecution for committing a felony.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              In contract look at the treatment Michael Flynn is getting. Nobody’s inviting him on the teevee to make his case. Disclaimer: I watched Flynn’s speech at the convention and he came across as a moron with an itchy trigger finger so I’m not exactly a fan. But he was evidently on vacation, got a call from the Russian ambassador which the spooks recorded. They later questioned him about the conversation they had a transcript of and when he did not remember everything exactly, they throw the book at him.

              What’s good for the goose…

            2. FluffytheObeseCat

              The point is, this action was designed to send a message to other men and women who are still in government service: we can and will destroy your old age security if you cross us. Most of them will never have the opportunities to recover that McCabe has; the message is very salient to them. He will find another well paying job swiftly in this economy, and given his fame he may also have the opportunity to speak or write about the events he was caught up in. He will remain roughly upper middle class regardless, barring illness.

              I am not a fan of a political environment in which upper level lieutenants get sacrificed, and the very highest elites survive. Leave that crap to the KSA, Russia, or imaginary nations like Westeros.

            3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The message is not quite ‘if you cross us’ yet, as there are many in the Swamp have crossed Sessions, and are still in it.

              The message so far is, if you’re high enough, or if you still have allies in the department and in the Swamp, you can be treated better than Flynn, and even the Inspector General has to choose words that do not describe with, er, full candor.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            This contreras thing is a pretty interesting “wrinkle.” I’m sure there’s plenty more where that came from.

            These people appear to have gotten all tangled up in the absolute certainty that hillary would win, and to have thrown caution to the wind in their zeal to cultivate the favor of the new boss. What with her famous propensity to reward those who act to elevate her to the greatness she is convinced she deserves and all.

            If only she had delivered for them……

      2. JTMcPhee

        My first grade teacher, Mrs. Heaton, taught 40 years of students the rudiments of phonics and old-fashioned pedagogy. A new bunch of “edgicators” were hired by the school board to “make it modern,” and put out the mandate that “see and say” was to be the new gold standard, along with some kind of “new math.” Mrs. Heaton was almost at retirement, but chose to stay with what had worked for all those years. She was fired at the end of the school year, before her pension (modest) vested.

        My class ended up, on follow-up studies, doing far better in school through the years.

        Thanks to the Mrs. Heatons of the world. A pox on the overlords.

        And I would hold off on popping the corn. What’s to enjoy, even from a schadenfreude perspective, from what will just be more of the same “end of empire- inside the Bubble” squabbling, with more bleeding of the mopery? Kayfabe, kabuki…

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          My mother was a first grade teacher just like Mrs. Heaton. She also continued to teach phonics. Unlike Mrs. Heaton my mother’s principal was more protective of her people and more tolerant and my mother was so old that her early retirement was not too far away to let her reach it.

      3. Olga

        I’d not worry about charmin’ Mr. McCabe… at his young age, he’s got plenty of time to make a few millions yet. I bet book offers are lining up. If not – there’s always a CNN talking gig (or MSNBC) or some other opportunity, where he can put his extensive talents to good use. On the bright side, maybe this could serve as a fair warning to some members of the blob – don’t get in so deep that you cannot get out.

      4. Jean

        That’s why you keep all important dirt and data on a thumb drive that gets mysteriously mailed to the media should petty things like this happen. :-)

    2. JeffC

      There’s a lot of ignorance in the press about federal civil-service pensions. Look up the rules. “Full” pension does NOT mean full salary after 20 years of service. I’m not fully up on the newer FERS pension system, but it’s generally seen as less generous than the older CSRS system, and the latter system would provide less than 40% of final salary after 20 years.

      And these high-level civil-service people are all working for way less than they’d earn in the private sector. The pension is not-unreasonable deferred compensation to compensate.

      There are plenty of real issues in how the executive branch is run. This isn’t one of them.

      1. ambrit

        “…working for way less than…”
        Hah! You’re assuming that public service is a branch of the private sector. That’s a very common misconception.
        How much is enough?

        1. JeffC

          What I’m assuming is what I know from 23 years as a civil servant (in engineering research), much of it managing a (very) small group, which is that it was devilishly hard to recruit serious people to come work for the low salaries and borderline-ridiculous working conditions we were allowed to offer. Everyone we interviewed would end up doing roughly similar work in the private sector for far more pay and often less stress. (I also worked for years in the private sector, so I’ve seen both sides.)

          Also, on the pension thing: the federal pension is not free of cost to the employee. Contributions come out of every paycheck. Given how horrible private-sector pensions have become, the government one is better in the net, but only enough to make hiring marginally possible. It’s not the wild giveaway portrayed in the media (especially conservative media).

          1. ambrit

            Ah, I’ve made the mistake of including both the government and government services in the same category. Is it a common error, to conflate working scientists with government ‘managers.’ Either way, it shows a degree of distrust in the ‘upper echelons’ of our society that seems to be ground in to the soul, as it were. There was once a thread where the difference between how America and Germany handled their professional classes, financial renumeration and social status was debated. It might be over zealousity, ideological ‘purity’ or simple jealousy, but, there looks to be something seriously wrong with a society that allows otherwise decent human beings to starve and suffer while other members of that society retire in luxury, indeed, hyper luxury. Inequality has real world effects.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Re airport face scanning on international departures: Senators Markey and Lee wrote to the DHS secretary on Dec 21, 2017 questioning the statutory authority for this program.

    https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/DHS%20Biometrics%20Markey%20Lee%20.pdf

    Markey and Lee state unequivocally on page 2 that “U.S. citizens have the right to opt out of biometric scanning.

    I will certainly bring a paper copy of this letter with me for any international departure, demand to opt out, and in the event of pushback, offer to call Senator Markey’s office (202-224-2742) on the spot to assert that I’m being unlawfully detained.

    Don’t knuckle under to fascism without a protest.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Markey gets on my nerves from time to time, but he’s good enough that I gotta suck it up and re-elect him.

      1. Procopius

        Yeah, I might have to do the same with my other senator from Michigan. He comes up in four years, IIRC. Fortunately, Stabenow is good this year. Nice for a change to not have to choose the lesser evil.

  4. Bittercup

    I find myself skeptical of the “Tillerson was on the toilet when he was fired” bit. It’s secondhand gossip, as the Daily Beast “was not invited [to the meeting this happened in] but was briefed on its contents by three sources with knowledge of the meeting.” No other write-ups have mentioned something like this. A whole lot of people are accepting this as fact on Twitter… it fits their priors a little too well. Perhaps I’m being too charitable re: Kelly’s professionalism, though.

    1. Anne Peticolas

      I don’t believe for one minute that Kelly notified Tillerson at all, given the Goldstein statement. [Goldstein was fired for it, but no reason to think it’s not truthful.]

  5. Mark Alexander

    Sorry to hear about your continued lack of internet service. I’m guessing this is more than just a DNS problem, as some commenters suggested earlier. It probably isn’t practical or frugal to have two landline-type services, like Comcast plus Verizon, to the same location, alas.

    In a way, I feel lucky living here in rural northern New England. We didn’t have internet service until 2015, which was annoying. But now we have fiber from a locally owned and operated company that actually has good service and cares about its customers. And if that didn’t work, we could fall back to DSL on a copper line from the local phone monopoly (which we used briefly). It doesn’t sound like there are options like this in NYC, but I could be wrong.

      1. Brian

        I don’t have physical issues to complain about with BB outages. But I have often thought about how much it would take to purchase a Fiberoptic line, the technicians to operate it, the amount of users that would use it (and when) over a 24 hour period to get the maximum spread for users v. data speed to take advantage of it, and make it commercially viable non profit approach.
        If groups of a few thousand at a time could start branching off, they would have their speed, tech, up time and there wouldn’t any too much the complaining big data companies could do to fight it when they are leasing the lines to these new end users.
        Would creating one’s own network take care of the troubles planned by the denial of service companies now masquerading as ISP’s?

      2. upstater

        Yves – not sure if it has been suggested, but can you also get DSL?

        We have Spectrum cable for internet service only. This our primary.

        Our wireline phone is through Windstream and we have DSL service through them.
        The cable is out every so often, the wireline is seldom out and provides good backup (the modem eaily runs off the backup battery).

        I would go crazy trying to work in a Starbucks!

        My in-laws have Verizon FIOS and they have had a number of outages.

      3. ChrisPacific

        You could try asking guests whether they have any issues, or ask your neighbors to come in and try it out. That would tell you whether there is any variation between devices or networks (I would assume not if it’s the physical characteristics of the building doing it, but it would be good to check just in case).

        You might be able to combine the hotspot with a fixed antenna of some kind. That relies on you having at least one place where you can get reception (possibly outside or near a window) and where you could place or attach a receiver. Depending on how much of a boost you need, if any, it might not need to be that large. Your local wireless/electronics store would probably be able to point you in the right direction.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          As indicated above (you guys REALLY DO NOT WANT TO HEAR WHAT I SAID), a 4GLTE hotspot didn’t work in my apartment. No signal. It did get signal just fine other places. My cell phone does not get signal in most of my apartment. So the hotspot idea doesn’t work. I seem to have a dead zone in my apartment.

          My choices are:

          1. Trying to force Verizon not to drop my copper DSL (they plan to but they should not be able to per the terms of a settlement they just signed)

          2. Going to Verizon FIOS which I really do not want to do

          3. Going to Spectrum which I’m also not keen about because Comcast was God-awful about customer service (if it was still the old Time Warner, I’d be predisposed towards them).

          And yes, my big issue is outages. Even though DSL is way slower, I’d rather have fewer outages. Until this episode, copper has been pretty good.

          1. ChrisPacific

            I read that you had a hotspot and it hadn’t worked due to a dead zone in your apartment. I was not sure if you had tried the hotspot + separate antenna configuration that I described. I assumed you hadn’t as it’s overkill for most people – if you are in a good signal area, then letting the hotspot do everything is generally all you need.

            It does tend to be a bit technical to set up and there are a number of factors to consider, so it’s perhaps not an option you would want to pursue given your history with technology. But I thought I would mention that it existed, in case it ever becomes particularly important or otherwise worth the effort to get it working.

    1. Mark Alexander

      Another option that just occurred to me is the NYC Mesh. Seems like a cool idea but I have no experience with such things.

  6. Dirk77

    If you really want to go retro, I have a NeXTstation Color you can use. It comes with Berners-Lee’s original web browser and Ethernet so you can stay connected when you get your internet back. Smokin’!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh I loved my NeXT! I used a black and white one for 10 1/2 years and got a color one towards the very end because you could get a bit more RAM. It’s been downhill since then. I would have kept my black hardware but I don’t have enough storage space. I still have my last slab (my laptop sits on top of it to get a better viewing height and I use an external keyboard) but I didn’t have the room for monitors not in use.

      1. Dirk77

        Assuming you still have the slab soundbox, there’s a guy who will modify it so you can use an LCD display (ones with sync-on-green). The tough part is software to render web pages (the essence I mean) and have a decent security layer. For example, Google’s harmless looking main page actually contains 2 mb of code, almost all of it to track you. A web browser would need to strip all that out as it comes in because the browser itself and the OS need to fit in your color 32mb of RAM to get a decent response speed. Then it would probably have to lie to google that things are good. (Ha.) It can be done though. Make an awesome CS phd thesis.

      2. jonhoops

        Loved my Cube with NeXT Dimension board. It took 10 years for the rest of the world to catch up. I figure OSX really started to crapify and stray from it’s NeXT roots when Avie Tevanian & Bertrand Serlet left. The process accelerated when Steve died.

        Still have a Pentium with Opentstep but haven’t fired it up in a few years.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Goldman Sachs bonuses for women 40% less than men’s

    I think that there has been a mistake on the Links page. Are you sure that this story was not taken from the ‘On This Day, Fifty Years Ago’ section of FT? Sigh! Not a headline that I would have expected to be still seeing two decades into the 21st century. I see that ‘Comments have not been enabled for this article’. Damn right they have not been enabled. That is one meat-grinder that the editor’s of FT would gladly not be sticking their heads into here.

    Anyway, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.

    1. integer

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you too. Here in the far north-west of Australia I’m celebrating by drinking Cooper’s Pale Ale, which, as I’m sure you know, has a green label. It’s really just a coincidence though because it’s my favorite beer and what I usually buy whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or not. Cheers!

    2. JTMcPhee

      How are women, in the autonomous autocracy labeled Goldman Sachs, going to gain the power to force all those Y-chroms to even up the pay scale? Is it expected that the power structure outside the walls of GS’s corporate phalluses will somehow impose equal pay for equal predatory and political-economy-bending-and-destroying work, to equally reward women for facilitating the looting of the world?

      When I worked at a Big LAw Firm (since swallowed by an even Bigger Law Firm) the annual polite violence over carving up the partnership loot was referred to as “whining for dollars.” And the Big Guns still carved off the biggest and best cuts of the carcass. “Eat what you kill” is the nature of the beast. If one chooses to develop one’s “career” in such a place, among the Natural Allies of Hillary at that level of the class structure? Don;t like it? Do something else, maybe something that benefits the General Welfare? or figure out a way to bring down the rotten house of High Finance and Covert Manipulation and Running of Government?

      I won’t apologize for not giving much of a whit about payday differences between parasites and predators in places like Goldman Sachs and Bank of Empire and the like. Appeals by such people to “fairness”? Spare me. “You eat what you kill” is the social order you “advanced” into.

      Want some love? Do something to support the currently losing side in the class war. Rather than whinging about not getting enough of the flesh off the fresh kill.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You got a point there. People like Gina Hasper shows an example of a woman that rose to the top but I doubt that you could call that a win for equality. I still think that any job should pay people for their talents and abilities – even if those very same people work for a “great big vampire squid”. Anything else is ultimately self-destructive to any organization. Maybe that is why the life span of a typical Fortune 500-size corporation is only about 40 to 50 years.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        It isn’t just “eat what you kill”. It is “eat what other people have killed”. A senior woman in investment banking at what was then Merrill described what happens regularly: a woman brings in a client relationship. You wind up having to bring in some men (usually from different specialties) because the client might want more than one product.

        Then the men start scheduling meetings with the client without the woman who originated the transaction.

        This happened to me even at Sumitomo Bank, where someone tried invading one of my deals. I went sputtering to someone higher up in my reporting line (who was actually very good, he understood his job was to run interference for me). He said, “Of course it is easier to steal someone else’s business than develop your own.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          That sounds familiar. Once saw an American Experience documentary on Tupperware which was actually quite fascinating to watch. The women were doing the planning and organizing, holding the Tupperware parties and all the rest of it. They were actually building themselves up a fair bit of wealth but when they reached a certain level and they needed financing, the banks wouldn’t deal with them because they were women. This forced them to send in their husbands to deal with the banks, even when they were very much the junior partner as far as the actual Tupperware business was concerned. It was crazy.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            One of my friend’s mother was the first woman to get a mortgage on her own in the state of Connecticut, as in without a husband or father co-signing, in 1971. The bank said they didn’t want to give it to her but couldn’t come up with a reason to deny her. She went on to become a very successful small town developer.

            Of course, she was also the sort, when the local bank denied her MD husband a loan for his business, went down to the bank manager and berated him: “I will have you know that my husband is the doctor in this town.” Despite her being all of 5 feet tall, that somehow worked.

            However, the daughter puts that episode as the beginning of the end of her parents’ marriage.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Yeah, in that serially ingested Big Law Firm, which did a lot of Microsoft business (one name partner was Bill Gates, Sr.) including lots of the slave-labor, massive-billable-hours type (e,g., responding to government subpoenas by parsing, printing, and dumping off to investigators, several millions of emails, etc.) and became a lobbying and IP “powerhouse,” there were lots of examples of stealing slabs of meat off other predators’ plates. That’s how the game is played, until the underclass figures out how to accumulate the power to change the structure of the game. Which from my observation, just means that the underclass becomes the overclass, in turn.

          And there ain’t many places in the globalized neoliberal Homo Economicus world, I would guess, where “someone higher up” will be mentoring and fostering the careers of lesser players, female or male, and both “responsive” to sputtering, and willing and able to spend their own career capital, in slapping down another Y-chrom (and women do this purloining too, of course, when they can) snarling predator working to snag meat off one’s plate.

          Until the whole larger game gets changed, which given the inertias and momentums and incentives and rewards and punishments, is not very likely to happen at any large scale, it’s all just about killing and eating. Playing along, with more or less personal “success,” and subject to “inequality” and abuse of all kinds, in all the stuff that gets described and rued over and occasionally excoriated here at NC. “Fairness” ain’t in it, whatever one’s dimorphism. “The one who dies with the most toys wins.”

          On the larger game, I wonder if a man or a woman was the marketer who came up with the idea of putting a small bottle of 20 little pills in a 1″ by 2.5″ by 3.5″ brightly branded box, to give the sucker customer the impression they are ‘getting something more’ for their $28.88?

          1. Doug Hillman

            Great insights on this thread, JT. I doubt Yves misses her Goldman opportunity all that much, even if she could be now be hosting NC from her private Greek Isle. Revealing my own character flaw maybe, I’d rather live under a tarp in Obamaville on the LA River than risk infection from the blood-drenched vampire parasites on Wall Street. (Waaay better 4G coverage anyway than in the backward hinterland of Manhattan — hardly worth $24 in trinkets.:))

        3. albrt

          If the client is able to switch advisers, then the originating adviser obviously failed to kill it. That tactical error is the fault of the originating adviser.

          A more precise formulation would be “eat what you can take with you if you leave.” The person who is perceived as having the ability to take the business elsewhere gets the credit.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This problem is sort of embedded in the very name itself – Goldman.

      Why don’t we have names like Goldwoman, Silverwoman, Riewomann, Womann, Lieberwoman, Schneiderwoman, etc?

  8. semiconscious

    re: oxfam hit by second sex scandal over haiti

    from the comments:

    ‘@Nick Ritchie This article gives colour and detail to a case of harassment which arose in Oxfam, and was dealt with by that organisation, years ago.

    It has a certain interest as a case study and analysis of the type of sexual harassment found, unfortunately, in organisations all around the world and in every sector, including, probably, your own, Nick.

    What it is not is a “second sex scandal over Haiti”, which is a false claim, and disgraceful, agenda-driven journalism.’

    which is something i would agree with. that an on-going revelation/examination of the past behaviors of a small group of individuals in its employ, who have since been dealt with, is now threatening to demolish an organization that has contributed so much to so many is, imo, very unfortunate…

    1. makedoanmend

      Didn’t ex-chancellor George Osbourne (UK) suggest that charity shops were a drain on the economy-that-matters since the proles weren’t spending their money directly into the pockets of the rich and famous like himself? All them goods getting recycled at affordable prices doesn’t jive with neoliberal economics. (Mind you, I amn’t at all happy with how much remuneration goes to the head honchos of these organisations, but that doesn’t negate the good that these organisation can do either.)

    2. Grebo

      Oxfam has been making big headlines the last couple of years pointing out that less than a dozen people own half the world. I don’t think it’s too foily to imagine that these sex scandal stories are a smear campaign intended to prevent such headlines in future.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        If you think anyone super rich feels threatened by Oxfam, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

        I have pointed out repeatedly that those studies are crap. Wealth distribution is monstrously skewed but Oxam putting out what comes close to a fabrication isn’t helpful. I haven’t had time or energy to debunk the studies, plus they have a bigger microphone that I do, so my demonstrating they cooked their numbers would not have made any difference.

  9. Party on

    “The borrowing and spending binge by Canadian households, businesses and governments (all levels) continues unabated.

    At the end of December, 2017 the total debt outstanding in Canada (bottom line of the Statistics Canada credit market summary data table) was $7.603 trillion. At the end of December, 2016 the total debt outstanding was $7.25 trillion. In the 1 year period from the end of December, 2016 to the end of December, 2017 it increased by $353.5 billion. This is an increase of 4.8%.”

    http://owecanada.blogspot.ca/2018/03/canadian-total-household-business-and.html

  10. Jim Haygood

    Criteria for US trading partners to obtain exclusions from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs have been announced, and they’re quite narrow:

    “An exclusion will only be granted if an article is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount, is not produced in the United States in a satisfactory quality, or for a specific national security consideration,” the Commerce Department said in rules set to be published in the Federal Register on Monday. [source: WSJ] And exclusions are only available for a year.

    Evidently concluding that its prospects for material relief are remote, the EU proceeded to publish its retaliation list. It’s cast in the dry, technical language of tariff schedules, but most definitely includes Florida orange juice, Kentucky bourbon, Wisconsin motorcycles, California blue jeans, Louisiana rice, Massachusetts cranberries, North Carolina steel from Nucor (which financed Peter Navarro’s Death by China documentary), and midwestern corn.

    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2018/march/tradoc_156648.pdf

    Whacking US corn farmers when the midwestern ag economy is struggling is gonna hurt. We’ve come a long way from the export-oriented Nixon administration, which engineered a big grain sale to the Soviet Union then urged farmers to “plant fencerow to fencerow” as prices soared.

    Whereas Trump stays away from clarty old farms; the dust soils your white shoes in summer. :-(

    1. Jim Haygood

      Here’s a long-term chart of Chicago corn futures:

      https://www.mrci.com/pdf/c.pdf

      Incredibly, corn (called maize across the Atlantic) trades for the same price now as it did during a spike in the summer of 1973, when the legendary Earl Butz cheered on America’s sodbusters to help feed our Russian comrades who had failed to meet their grain quotas. :-(

      1. Brian

        Corn is (or was?) such an important dietary staple that agriculture/feed based companies have destroyed most of the value of corn as a food crop to make a profit from it as a subsidized junk food. South America has numerous types of maize that aren’t garbage, but big ag wants them destroyed too.
        i just don’t know where to find the sarc button switch any more. Gotta get back to turning that corn into crap fuel that has been bioengineered to create its own lead content for motors that aren’t made any longer. I don’t need my hair.

      2. Doug Hillman

        Trump is right to protect USA’s manufacturing from foreign dumping and labor outsourcing to slave-wage countries. And other countries in turn are right to levy tariffs on America’s heavily-subsidized crops and chrome-plated Wisconsin Hogs. Corn and other factory-farm staples are fine examples of the rank hypocrisy of rigged trade posed as free. The shuttered industrial wastelands of America’s midwest rust belt are matched by the once idyllic ejidos (family farms) abandoned by Mexican campesinos ruined by US-subsidized agriculture. Many of these campesinos are now migrant refugees working as wage-slave farmhands to the very same gluttonous US industries that bankrupted them — and as maids, gardeners, and construction labor resented by the American similarly betrayed working class whose living wages have also been supressed and outsourced.

        NAFTA and similar SHAFTA treaties are merely thinly-veiled monopoly protection rackets. I do not expect real economic justice or substantial trade reform from Trump, but WRT rigged trade contracts, he’s a refreshing change from his Judas-goat predessessor now yachting about with his billionaire patrons.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I have suggested coining the name naftastinians for the Mexican economic exiles driven off their land and into America by the NAFTA conspiracy to drown Mexican corn growing under surging floods of petrochemo corn from the Midwest and Plains.

          1. Doug Hillman

            “Naftastinians” fits. TX, AZ, and CA comprise the West Bank, the promised land of Greater America, soon to be protected from its original owners by an Apartheid wall.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is sanctions-imposing a form of violence or is it non-violent? “Look, no immediate blood!!!”

      Do we impose sanctions at all?

      And do we only impose sanctions on those who can’t impose back? Do we say nothing about sanctions imposing at all, but only when we impose tariffs?

    3. Procopius

      There really aren’t very many independent farmers left, and they mostly can’t make a living from it. I don’t have the numbers to hand, but some of the independent farmers have to work in town as well as farming to make ends meet. The huge agribusiness corporations get a heck of a lot of money from the government as is, so I don’t feel a huge amount of sympathy for their executives and stockholders.

  11. Bruce F

    re: bridge failure Here’s a thoughtful, slightly profane, engineering explanation of what went wrong.

    It appears that modifications were done to the approved installation plans.

    1. Jim Haygood

      His early-stage drawings show that the bridge was originally designed as a traditional post-tensioned truss, without the dramatic pylon tower and cable stays featured in later renderings, which turned it into a hybrid of a truss and a cable-stayed bridge. Rendering:

      https://news.fiu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Pedestrian-bridge-rendering-2.5.16-1.jpg

      If his hypothesis that a tension tendon failed is correct (and it certainly looks plausible with the jack hanging out), then alternative theories that the contractor screwed up the construction sequence by not having the tower and cable stays in place are not pertinent to the failure.

      That is, the truss was designed to be self-supporting, at least to the extent of its own dead load plus a specified 20 psf construction load. That was essential to implementing the swing-into-place assembly method. Likely the cable stays were to have reinforced the bridge’s capacity up to specified 90 psf live load, which amounted to one-sixth of the truss’s dead weight.

      As mentioned last night in water cooler, mistakes get made. But builders don’t screw up to the extent of clapping their palms to their heads and exclaiming, “Oh no-o-o-o, we forgot the cable stays!

    2. jsn

      Why the workers tensioning that rod believed it would take the load they were putting on it seems the key question. A defect in the steel, as MLTPB suggests, is one possibility, a field engineering failure is another, fabrication engineering and design are other possible sites for the answer to that question.

      That testing and/or tuning of the structure was happening with the lanes below it open is Grenfell Fire level irresponsibility. I wonder if Florida construction law has been as gutted by neoliberalism as that of the UK?

    3. Gaianne

      Bruce F–

      Amazing video. And Juan Brown’s prequel is pretty good too.

      Astonishing in every way: A harp-style suspension bridge where the harp is just decoration. A single truss structure that has to bear the load with no redundancy. And a workman right up there playing with the tension bar with traffic flowing underneath when it snapped from over-tension (possibly already weakened).

      In every way: What were they thinking?

      A case study in why a course in how to swear fluently needs be a prerequisite for any engineering degree!

      –Gaianne

  12. David

    What Johnson apparently said, according to the Guardian is that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Putin ordered the attack (ie it’s a supposition). The charitable interpretation of his comments is that if the attack was a government initiative, then it’s inconceivable that it was not agreed by Putin, which is no doubt correct. It’s also perhaps an attempt to outflank May in the belligerence stakes, with the Tory Party leadership in view. It is after all the party conference this week.
    The UK Ambassador to Moscow was much more measured, saying that the attack was by “a chemical weapon developed in Russia and not declared by Russia to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as Russia was and is obliged to do under the Chemical Weapons Act.” Since his statement would have been written in London, I suspect that this is the reality of what the British think they can actually prove – ie a breach of the CWC and lots of embarrassment for the Russians.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Why would the British government think they actually need to prove anything? If they actually wanted to show proof, they could start by releasing photos of the victims who were supposedly passed out on a park bench in a highly surveilled area.

      All they are looking to do is catapult the propaganda to deflect attention from the ongoing slow motion disaster they have created in their own country.

      Uncle Sugar says ‘jump’ and the poodle says ‘How high?”.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe someone should point out that the Russians got rid of the last of their 40 tons of chemical weapons just last year. Had a big ceremony and everything. Meanwhile the US military says that they need at least another five years to do the same under the same treaty due to ‘technical difficulties’.
      The Russians always knew that Boris Johnson was just a hack politician but they are furious at him pinning the blame on Russia while refusing to provide samples of the toxin to the Hague or fulfill their obligations under the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
      Johnson has said: “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the U.K., on the streets of Europe, for the first time since World War II.”
      Not much love for the British elites in Russia at the moment. I suspect that Putin by now has simply marked on his calendar the final date of Brexit for the UK and ordered in some popcorn for then.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        How much love in Russia at this moment?

        I wonder if they are chanting ‘perfidious Albion?’

        1. Gaianne

          The 21Century Wire link leads to some other interesting stories. The Russians have wasted no time reciprocating the British expulsion of Russian diplomats. Now 23 British diplomats are personae non grata and have until Tuesday to get themselves out of the country.

          In addition, the Russians have decided that there will be no more British missions in Russia than Russian missions in Britain, so a whole bunch more Brits will be leaving soon as well.

          –Gaianne

      2. Edward E

        Unlikely that Vladimir Putin behind Skripal poisoning
        https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/unlikely-that-vladimir-putin-behind-skripal-poisoning-1.3425736
        Perhaps it is time to realise that if your country becomes a haven for dodgy people like Berezovsky then dodgy things are likely to happen.

        “We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.” – Winston Churchill 🍀

        Have fun today, y’all, I’ve got get back to the oven and tend to the honey glazed yams covered in swamp sauce.

      3. Procopius

        I gather it’s not just that they are refusing to provide samples of the toxin, they are not even providing copies of the investigation report, which is required by the Chemical Weapons Convention and is a perfectly reasonable request. Of course they are not making any excerpts of the report available to anyone. so to me it’s just like the hacking of the DNC computers.

    3. Craig H.

      In the much-passed-about CIA assassination manual poison is generally recommended against.

      (famous excerpt almost everybody has seen:

      But assassination can seldom be employed with a clear conscience. Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.)

      Here is the part about poison:

      Specific poisons, such as arsenic or strychine, are effective but their possession or procurement is incriminating, and accurate dosage is problematical. Poison was used unsuccessfully in the assassination of Rasputin and Kolohan, though the latter case is more accurately described as a murder.

      Has anybody offered a good explanation why poison was chosen by these professionals? There are a lot of ways to kill an old retired guy and make it look like an accident.

      Here is a link to the complete assassination manual at archive.org if you are interested.

      1. David

        If the reports are correct it wasn’t a poison but a chemical agent – probably a liquid. One of the casualties of the Tokyo subway attack (with Sarin, another liquid agent) was a nurse who breathed in fumes from the clothes of one of the other victims and died. There’s speculation in the media that whatever agent was used was spread in the same way. In other words, it’s unlikely that we’ll see footage of a figure in a black mask tiptoeing up to the victims and pouring something in their mouth.
        The issue would be precisely whether the Russians actually got rid of all their chemical agents, and I think the British plan is to embarrass them by bringing the OPCW over and letting them examine samples, in the hope that these will either be of agent which the Russians were supposed to have destroyed, or of an agent that was never declared.

    4. Grebo

      a breach of the CWC and lots of embarrassment for the Russians.

      Apparently the “style of agent developed in Russia” was in fact developed in Uzbekistan. It is uncertain whether it was ever actually produced, and if not in a significant quantity then Russia may never have had any.

  13. JTMcPhee

    On facial recognition: Yaas, write strongly worded letters to your congresscreatures. We all know how those are processed once they reach the mail room. And don’f forget “strongly worded letters to the editors!” Wave your Markey letters at the TSA and FBI and NSA and the rest of the Panopticon. “Resist,” by not traveling by air, until one’s necessities of life push one to just accept that this latest bit of the Matrix has clanked into place, and to use that points-generating credit card to buy that gateway ticket back into the convenience addiction.

    Or try to come up with a Harry Potter Facial Distortion Cloak, that will draw a whole lot of attention from the goons and thugs who are just slowly accreting the techniques and data and power to shut down any behaviors not “authorized.” One can expect that all those activities will surely shut down the Eyes and Ears and sniffing noses of all the now millions of people who fund their lifestyles and hang their careers on learning the technical intricacies of scopophilia in service to the Chief Peepers in Panopticon Central, and care not or dare not to report what they do at their desks and in their observation posts, or what data they collect and report on up the chain… It’s all institutionalized, the vectors of the behavior are set and locked in (amplitude/magnitude being the only adjustable variable).

    “Hey, if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to fear.”

    1. dcblogger

      you have more power than you think. I think that Yves recommendations are excellent, espeically the part about writing to your municipal authorities who control the airports and sending copies to the airline you patronize complete with frequent flier number.

    2. subgenius

      Harry Potter Facial Distortion Cloak

      Funnily enough, I actually have a functional version of this, as far as facial recognition goes…

      Currently trying to create a viable fashion line from it (without getting ripped off, or just ‘offed’)

  14. JohnnyGL

    “Trump is a freak of political nature. Here’s how you can beat him. Washington Post (UserFriendly)”

    I couldn’t help but click on this one…I knew what I was signing up for…temptation got me like a tabloid in the aisle waiting for the line at the supermarket checkout.

    First off, it’s Philippe Reines, a longtime Clintonite capo.

    Shorter version: If you want to BEAT Trump, you must BECOME Trump. Be more obnoxious, more corrupt, lie harder and more brazenly and shamelessly.

    1. Louis Fyne

      imo, Democrats shot themselves in the foot and cut off their own arm in 2009-11.

      Trump, by luck or instinct, elbowed his way into the vacuum.

    2. ambrit

      So, in essence, Trump won the election by becoming Clinton!
      We knew we were screwed when we saw the two “choices” available to vote for in the election; Tweedle Hilz and Tweedle Trump.
      Combine this with the essay from William Blum earlier in links and the shape of our near future begins to coalesce out of the fogs and miasmas emanating from the Foggy Bottom.

    3. katz

      As one witty twitter user pointed out, Reines is one of the few people in the US who has literally lost a campaign to Trump. Why would anyone want his advice on how to win?

  15. jefemt

    Stunning Admissions by top US Mid-east General: If Warren is shocked- shocked!! does she follow up and keep an eye on who bought her used car and how it’s being used?

    Let’s be honest- munition sales into the Mideast are a S L I C C* wet-dream for the MI Complex.

    *S L I C C – Self-licking ice cream cone…

    Perma-war

  16. integer

    US training Syria militants for false flag chemical attack as basis for airstrikes – Russian MoD RT

    Russia’s Defense Ministry says “US instructors” are training militants to stage false flag chemical attacks in south Syria. The incidents are said to be a pretext for airstrikes on Syrian government troops and infrastructure.

    “We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria,” Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy said at a news briefing on Saturday.

    “Early in March, the saboteur groups were deployed to the southern de-escalation zone to the city of Deraa, where the units of the so-called Free Syrian Army are stationed.”

    “They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs.”

    The planned provocations will be widely covered in the Western media and will ultimately be used as a pretext by the US-led coalition to launch strikes on Syria, Rudskoy warned.

    Something worth keeping an eye on.

    1. ambrit

      Of interest will be what the Russians and, don’t forget, the Syrians do in response. Do the SAA anti-air units in southern Syria have upgraded S-300s? Will they fire into Lebanese airspace, or, even more ‘robust’ a response, into Israeli airspace to try and get the attacking air units, no matter whose they are?
      I could see the “Coalition” attacking just Syrian units to test the resolve of the Russians.
      Meanwhile, the Syrian government forces are quietly going about their business of securing the Syrian heartland. When East Ghoutta is restored to ‘normalcy,’ lots of Syrian troops will be freed up for other uses.
      What worries me a bit is that the Russians have been quite subdued in their responses to Western meddling so far. When the Russians begin to emulate the West and really promote terrorism against the West, and its proxies, things will get very hot, very fast.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe the Russian equivalent of Battlespace Managers realize that “promoting terrorism insurgency democracy,” as played by the “Coalition” (Empire) is a dumb-sh!t play? Maybe they have less of the spooky-sneaky-pete Wild Bill Donovan bent to their play in the Great Game End Game? https://www.sofmag.com/the-glorious-amateurs-gen-wild-bill-donovan-heads-office-of-strategic-services/ Or given the nature of the human beast and the history of play in the Game, maybe not…

        1. ambrit

          You have a point.
          I remember a story by Mack Reynolds, loosely based on Somerset Maughms experiences in Russia in 1917 where an agent is sent into Russia to foment an anti government revolution. He is getting traction but discovers that his Russian ‘agents’ really want to try for a real communist revolution, not a western style reaction.
          We judge others by our own standards at our peril.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Oh it gets better and better. Just read this morning the Russians saying that the US is forming cruise missile strike groups in the eastern Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The last time the US sent a wave of cruise missiles against Syria, half never made it which was suspicious. I doubt that the Russians would strike back at the US Navy ships but they might go after something different instead.
        A coupla days ago the Russians rattled the Pentagon’s cage by saying that one of their submarines had gone into the waters of a US Navy base on the east coast, loitered for a while, and then left the area totally undetected. Also, a few days ago, the Russians reinforced Syria with a Krivak II-class frigate which specializes in the hunting down of other enemy warships and submarines with guided missiles and possess a respectable air defense suite.
        Finally, Lavrov (Russia’s Foreign Minister) stated that the US, British, French had special forces on the ground in Syria fighting Syrian forces. Maybe a hint that it will shortly be “open-season” on these forces? Certainly he could not have been impressed when Nikki Haley said that the US was ready to : “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there.”

      3. John k

        Every time there is a terrorist attack vs the us the MIC licks it’s chops… vastly more money, plus less democracy.

      4. Gaianne

        Ambrit–

        The Russians will not be emulating the West. The US could avoid global war but won’t. The Russians are trying to delay global war while preparing for its inevitability. Eventually large-scale war will happen but they want to postpone it as long as they can, which favors them strategically, while setting the context and timing. The want to keep it from going nuclear, which might be possible, although that will obviously be very hard.

        Their goal is the survival of the Russian nation, from which much of their strategy can be deduced, though not their tactics.

        –Gaianne

  17. Carolinian

    Amusing Moon of Alabama tying Skripal-gate to the plot of a pulp TV show aired in Britain last fall. I recently watched a movie called Unlocked in which the high cheek boned Noomi Rapace foils a plot to attack England with a biological agent from–where else?–Russia and distributed by–who else?–Muslims. In the end the film injects a note of realism by having the whole thing be the work of a rogue CIA agent.

    As our nonfiction world of the news becomes ever more like the fiction world of bad movie scripts you have to wonder whether it’s the global ruling class in general (or at least Western division) that needs its head examined and not just Trump. Indeed Trump, for all his bluster, still hasn’t started that war that everyone thinks is imminent. Here’s betting he doesn’t have the stomach for it although he does like to stir things up. But if the worst does happen will all those DC Trump haters suddenly become Trump boosters since they do love war? They must be very conflicted.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think it’s worth throwing out the idea that the ruling classes are so thoroughly mixing up the entertainment world with the real world that they’ve lost any grasp of what’s what.

      Re: Trump not having started a major new war….Pompeo at State really worries me. Trump seems to be firing people over the Iran deal, instead of coming around and changing his mind to adjust to the reality of the Iran deal.

      The one positive thing is that Trump’s crew are REALLY BAD at engineering consent and putting out convincing lies. Obama admin was much better at crafting and selling a cover story.

      1. ambrit

        What worries me is that this ‘new crew’ doesn’t seem to want a cover story. They are just brazen and uncouth, period.

      2. allan

        “so thoroughly mixing up the entertainment world with the real world that they’ve lost any grasp of what’s what. ”

        Like Antonin Scalia using Jack Bauer’s torture of terrorists in “24” as a reference point. From 2007:

        … During a panel discussion about terrorism, torture and the law, a Canadian judge remarked, “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ ”

        Justice Scalia responded with a defense of Agent Bauer, arguing that law enforcement officials deserve latitude in times of great crisis. “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles . . . . He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia reportedly said. “Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” He then posed a series of questions to his fellow judges: “Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer?”

        “I don’t think so,” Scalia reportedly answered himself. …

        Good times.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          He was not alone.

          We have had fairy tales and fairy-tales-turned-movies, like Camelot from the 60’s, the Greatest Story Ever Told a few years back, and Goldilocks in the 90’s.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Trump’s choice of personnel is ratcheting up the risk multiplier for careless mistakes and unintended consequences. Gina Haspel is a disgrace and should indeed be in jail (thanks Obama /s) but Pompeo is positively lethal. Trump’s careless can-do-no-wrong style (whatever its origins, narcissism or what not) is what I find the most concerning as a Trump skeptic.

      That he hasn’t blown up the world so far seems poor odds for what is already a rather one sided and alarmingly repetitious wager. Heads he manages to continue his streak but keeps increasing the odds of failure by stacking his administration with neoconservatives, tails poof.

      Perhaps the juggler who keeps adding whirling chain saws going at full leg chopping buzz-roar would be a better analogy. Anyway, even if Trump does have some degree of skill in this, it doesn’t comfort any more than that Hillary would probably just get us there a little sooner. .

      1. John k

        We might already be having those dogfights over the Syrian sands and the Ukraine fields that the neocons lust for if she had won. Imagine the waves of f35’s flaming out…

  18. The Rev Kev

    NATO Relocates Middle East Airbase from Turkey to Jordan

    I think I know one reason why this is so. When Turkey finally purchases and installs the Russian S-400 missile defense system, nothing will be able to fly in Turkey without Turkey’s permission. That means that ALL missions flown from that Turkish air base would have to be approved by the Turks or else. Think that I am joking?
    A little while ago I saw a news article (http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/17/555732/US-Senate-Russia-S400-CAATSA-sanctions) where US Senators have warned Russia not to sell S-400 to other states – not to China, Turkey, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and any other country or else there will be more sanctions. It actually sounds like that they actually demanded it.
    These Senators are also demanding that the US State Department stop them doing so. Could it be that the US military is worried about flying in more and more unfriendly skies that they will no longer be able to dominate or is it that the US defense industries are screaming about lost sales of Patriot missile systems?

    1. ambrit

      Well, the Patriot system doesn’t have a very good track record. The earlier iterations of the S class anti-air missiles do. Just Mr Market weaving his magical spell!

      1. Bill Smith

        Do you have some data on the track record of the S class anti-aircraft missiles over the last 30 years? Love to see it.

        1. Procopius

          I’d like to see some reliable information about the performance of the Patriot missile. Do they go back as far as 30 Years? I saw claims that despite the DOD flack material they really were not very successful against the mid-range SCUDs. I’m not well placed to research.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Both. I’m fairly convinced the threat of U.S. pilots being paraded through enemy streets and a sinking ship with sailors being left out to drown would lead to a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy. While the U.S. is presented as invincible, its easy to go to war similar to Libya where there was an opportunity for everyone to win medals without risking much. When we came to Syria, we were awash in a story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry the Syrians could and would retaliate.

      Then there is the supply line aspect. I don’t believe they are robust. Part of the reason combat deaths were down so much in Iraq was the ability to airlift and move the wounded to world class hospitals in Germany through airspace we effectively controlled. Imagine negotiating every airlift or having to rely on MASH style hospitals.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I hear you, but I wonder if the Russians are not a little more weary of subsequent um-intended consequences of indiscriminate spreading of military technology than we tend to be. I havn’t a clue – just wonder – especially given that Putin’s Russia seems more cautious and calculated than the US).

        1. ambrit

          I suspect that the Russians wouldn’t give over any weapons system to potential adversaries without built in “backdoor” disabling technologies or, a newer and better system up and ready.

      1. Oregoncharles

        One reason the US can’t just order them to lay off the Kurds.

        In fact, that’s the real reason for shifting to Jordan: that airbase gave Erdogan de facto control of US policy in the area.

        This is a sign the US could be in combat with a member of NATO quite soon. That might be complicated.

        1. John k

          And it might raise questions of just what good Nato does it…
          Wait, I forgot, gotta contain those pesky russkies. But they’ve got the camels nose into turkey… so imagine the Iran turkey Syria Lebanon alliance. Remind me… why at present we there? And in what way have we been advancing our interests?

  19. Expat2uruguay

    For those who are interested in learning more about Uruguay, this author provides a lot of great information. She has a website and posts a lot of articles on Facebook as well. There are also Uruguay Expat Community groups on Facebook if you look for those words. These groups provide a wealth of information and allow people to ask questions.

    This article matches my experience in purchasing a condo in the last 6 months here in Uruguay.

    http://www.guruguay.com/buying-property-in-uruguay/

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘All real estate transactions are carried out in US dollars.’

      Used to be that way across the Río de la Plata, till Kristina intervened.

      One day I sat at a round table in BsAs as an armed guard brought in a mountain of hundred-dollar bills … which the buyer’s and seller’s attorneys proceeded to count, with practiced skill. :-)

      Later, I heard, the seller rushed across the river to stash his winnings safely out of reach of the former Kirchner regime, in one of Uruguay’s many European bank branches.

  20. ambrit

    I don’t know where to file this one but, as I was doing my daily job searches online, I found this ‘gem’ at the State of Mississippi Unemployment site.
    Read it to see what is being passed off as ’employment’ today.
    I’ve been in such plants for repair work and can testify to the dangerous nature of this work, thankfully from second hand. It is a reversion to the bad old days that the likes of Sinclair Lewis wrote about. Do note the almost Kafkaesque salary for this; $9.13 per hour.
    See: https://wings.mdes.ms.gov/wings/spring/self-service/job-order/job-order-lookup?execution=e3s4

      1. ambrit

        Oh, very sorry about that. I did a link to my log in to the system. The State of Mississippi must be really ashamed of their jobs situation to be obfuscating so hard.

  21. anonymous

    RE: “Should We Be Worried?”: Tech Geniuses Fret That A.I. Is Gonna Kill Us All—Soonish

    This sort of thing always seems to carry a bit of eschatalogical hopefulness…

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    If anyone had wanted him dead, they could have simply knifed him in the city centre on a Friday night. It would have gone completely unnoticed https://www.police.uk/wiltshire/Wiltshire%20South/crime/violent-crime/stats/#crime_trend in all the other crimes. The place is one of those typically genteel English towns (it’s only a city because its a cathedral city) where everything is peaceful and quiet in the sticks, the local hotheads get boozed up and let off steam in the pub quarter in the city centre. I wouldn’t go there after dark unless I had to and was with a group

    Perhaps the perpetrator was not aware of this, for he or she was not local, not native, but from, well, a country far away…

    The lesson, then, is that you must have sleepers, long term, who know as much as the natives.

    But, perhaps, this is what the false false operators want us to think…done by non-natives. Reverse psychology. And Putin didn’t order it.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Mexico’s presidential field just got bigger:

    Mexico’s former first lady Margarita Zavala secured the needed number of citizens’ signatures to run as an independent candidate in July’s presidential election, a move that analysts say would divide the field of candidates and benefit [leftist] front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

    Ms. Zavala, a conservative lawyer married to Felipe Calderón, who was president from 2006 to 2012, got 867,000 valid signatures across 17 states, Mexico’s electoral agency said Friday. She exceeded the required amount by 3,000 signatures.

    The decision comes two weeks before campaigning begins for the July 1 election. It is the first time an independent candidate will run for president of Mexico after the laws were changed in 2012.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexicos-former-first-lady-to-run-for-president-as-independent-1521255189

    Good thing this sort of chaotic intrusion isn’t allowed here in the USA, where our two legacy parties carefully vet the best candidate in squeaky-clean primaries and caucuses. /sarc

  24. Brooklin Bridge

    Washington’s Blog has an intersting article on the “Russian” Poison story: British Scientists Confirm So-Called “Russian” Poison May NOT Be Russian specifically that, Porton Down [the UK’s only chemical weapons facility] 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.. They have (reluctantly) agreed to, the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting[…]. And that is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:

    Apologies if this has already been linked to or posted…

  25. dcblogger

    I think the Oxfam sex abuse scandal is a very big issue. I used to admire them and all such groups.

  26. Oregoncharles

    ” It fits my profile to have a dead zone in my apartment”
    Uhhh – sheesh, be careful what you wish for.
    Are you actually living in a Faraday cage? That might have advantages. It’s most likely because of the construction of your building, but could be because of surrounding ones. But I’m sure those who know more than I do have already weighed in.

    Would hanging an antenna out the window make your hotspot work?

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Democrats May Need a Blue Tsunami to Win Back the House in 2018 Alternet

    Nothing about finding happiness from within?

    No inner transformation, which should be first and primary and then good things will follow.

  28. Jim Haygood

    California dreaming:

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman plans to meet top global executives, including the heads of Apple and Google, during his first trip to the U.S. since becoming heir to the throne.

    The prince also will hold meetings with top movie industry executives in Los Angeles, the person said, as his government presses ahead with a plan to allow commercial cinemas in the conservative kingdom for the first time in more than 35 years.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-16/saudi-crown-prince-is-said-to-plan-meetings-with-apple-google

    If the dashing young prince inks a deal with Hollywood, using Saudi terrorists as universal movie villains becomes problematic, no matter how historically realistic.

    Hope America’s cinema-going public isn’t confused by the new cast of Persian villains (however unrealistic that may be). The Agency stands ready to help with strategic funding. /sarc

    1. allan

      They should remember to pull Syriana from distribution and destroy all the DVDs.

      “You don’t know a word of Farsi, do you, you goat?” – Bob Barnes (George Clooney),
      speaking in Farsi to a Wahabist terrorist he’s just sold a booby-trapped MANPAD.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Let’s just do a remake of Dr. Strangelove, The Orange Man and MBS can sit astride the nuke, waving their cowboy hats (well, MBS can wave his keffiyah) as the bomb falls on Tehran. LOL, good times, iodine tablets for all

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Aung San Suu Kyi

    Australia formally recognises the principle of universal jurisdiction, giving Australian courts jurisdiction to hear allegations of the most serious criminal offences under international law, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, regardless of the nationality of the alleged offender, or the place of the commission of the offences.

    There is an international precedent. The former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was arrested in London under universal jurisdiction. He was placed under house arrest but did not face trial.

    Only one precedent?

  30. Tomonthebeach

    FBI’s Andrew McCabe is fired a little more than 24 hours before he could retire

    Not that anybody is likely to read this comment, but McCabe is NOT going to lose his pension as the headlines keep implying or even outright asserting.

    He may lose a good year falling short of his 21st 365 days on the job, but the other 20 do count, and at his paygrade, he will not be retiring to cat-food meals in a trailer park.

    1. a different chris

      I read it. Thanks. Again, all of us from the land of work-well-into-your-60s-hope-401k-holds-up I can’t summon any feelings at all for this guy.

      1. Quentin

        Good question. Probably the poster is just looking for attention otherwise ‘it’ would have been clearer.

  31. Procopius

    Wish I had bookmarked it, buy a commenter at another blog explained that McCabe isn’t deprived of his pension. He is deprived of a couple percent additional bonus points that he can start collecting after he’s 57. His bonus is quite large already, and the left-wing money machine will take care of him. He’ll be getting a low seven figure advance for his book and Probably high five or low six figure speaking fees. Don’t feel too sorry for him.

  32. Jon Cloke

    With the Skripal thing, all of those people who say “if Putin wanted them dead he could simply have someone stab them quietly and it would be written off as a mugging” are entirely missing the point. There can scarcely be two more lurid and noisy ways of taking out someone you regard as a traitor than with Polonium and an exotic nerve agent (if that’s what happened) – which is exactly the point.

    A clear message has been sent to every expatriate Russian in the world that if you are regarded as a traitor to Russia the state will take you out and the way it does so will be slow and unpleasant. Using Polonium/Novichuks sends another message – the country you are hiding in is weak and powerless and can do nothing to prevent this, a message that Gavin Williamson’s chinless whining simply reinforced.

    As to whether Putin ‘ordered’ the killing, what a stupid question! So Putin sits down in some obscure intelligence committee meeting and says something like: “It’s a disgrace to the motherland that traitors are allowed to flee to foreign countries and live off their ill-gotten gains – someone ought to do something about it!” a la Henry II Will-nobody-rid-me-of-this-turbulent-priest….

    You think everyone in that meeting wouldn’t know exactly what was being asked of them?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I will let other readers dispatch this, but for starters, there appears to have been no nerve agent:

      https://twitter.com/Byxelrok/status/975295756742660097

      Others have remarked that if this was the nerve agent alleged, or anything even close, the victims would be dead and the people who tried helping them on the bench would have suffered. No evidence whatsoever of the latter. Pull on the threads of this story and it starts to unravel.

    2. makedoanmend

      JC,

      Let me mimic a more worthy screenplay and its punch line:

      “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest.”

      Much more pithy than Vlad Putin sitting in an “obscure intelligence committee meeting” and providing us with that rather boring tagline you imagine.

      Whilst May’s claims are dubious at best, yours is ever so unimaginative.

      No Tom Clancy you.

    3. Ray Phenicie

      Re: Jon Cloke

      A clear message has been sent to every expatriate Russian in the world

      I agree to the probability of the scenario you outline but place that rather low>
      >) The optics are terrible; this event occurred at a time when Putin would most certainly want to keep up appearances (election and games) so the timing is way off. Skripal appeared to be in reasonably good health so why eliminate him now? Six or twelve months previous or six months hence would have served much better for the purpose you outline.
      >) KGB officers are a fiercely loyal lot (to their own cliques) and I give a somewhat higher probability than your scenario to someone breaking off the chain and taking revenge. Esprit de corps and all that.
      >) We have to consider all possible motives of every player in the field and there are several players who have life and death situations which would be well served by placing Putin in the dog house of official, governmental, internationally driven punishment and chastisement. More on this later.

  33. Patrick Donnelly

    I fully expect “Stormy” is yet more Fake news for the USA. Why Australia has to cover it is beyond me….

    Epstein is a convicted child molester. He has lots of friends and Don may not like girls as much as he protests …. but it plays well with his “constituency”.

    Why repost fakery when the largest theft in history is slowly coming to an end?

Comments are closed.