Links 3/21/18

First population-scale sequencing project explores platypus history PhysOrg (Chuck L)

New evidence for plume beneath Yellowstone National Park PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Prosecution Futures

Child abuse imagery found within bitcoin’s blockchain Guardian. Richard Smith: “So you could cripple any ‘coin’ (at least in the UK) by putting a bit of child abuse imagery on its blockchain somewhere. That would be enough prosecution futures to keep our lot happy.”

The NSA Worked to ‘Track Down’ Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal Intercept (Bill B)

Has the Cryptocoin Market Met Its Match in the SEC? Wall Street Journal

There are still 100,000 pay phones in America CNN. I find it a disgrace that they have been removed from airports. If you fail to put phone on airplane mode when flying, you drain your battery because your phone goes into maximum power use mode when it is trying to find a tower.

Macular degeneration: ‘I’ve been given my sight back’ BBC. Stem cell treatment.

Need a CT scan? Here is why you should ask your doctor if it is absolutely necessary Scroll (J-LS). Aieee.

North Korea

The last 48 hours in rising US-North Korea tensions, explained Vox (David L)

Why the Indian poultry industry is chicken about American imports Scroll (J-LS)


Years of tedious bollocks definitely what we voted for, say Brexiters Daily Mash

Michael Gove threatens EU with ‘consequences’ if they pillage UK waters during ‘sub-optimal’ Brexit transition Telegraph. Help me.

Confusion as Article 32 regulating free movement for British citizens vanishes from new Brexit agreement Independent (Kevin W). “Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe said: ‘Contrary to what David Davis and Michel Barnier are saying, this document provides no more certainty for the 1.2 million British people living in the EU 27, EEA and Switzerland than they had last week.'”

The Italian Election London Review of Books

New Cold War

On Being a Dissenting Voice in 2018 Craig Murray. Chuck L: “Fascinating description of attempts to shame and gaslight.” Chuck provides this example. “The Guido Fawkes’s website stab at denigrating Murray because of his bipolar disorder: A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness.”

Did British Police Find Putin’s Passport at Scene of Salisbury Poison Attack? Snopes (Kevin W)

Russian Elections Show How Russia is Becoming Great Again Russia Insider. Contrast this with the meme that Putin is a dictator and the elections are rigged. Mind you, you can still be authoritarian and yet democratically elected, a combination that the US refused to admit can exist when said authoritarian is not playing ball with the US. Admittedly, past Russian elections have been criticized, but I am not sure how much was bona fide (clearly at least some) and how much has been exaggerated. Kevin W: “Key section: ‘Equally notable was the manner in which the elections were run: the process was public and transparent, using paper ballots counted by hand. Polling places were equipped with video cameras. Ballot-stuffing, which was a problem with previous elections, was detected in a couple of places, and the tainted results were disqualified.'”


US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank Counterpunch

Shock and Awe revisited, as fighting drags on in Syria’s Ghouta Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Ten Senate Democrats Help Pentagon Continue War Efforts In Yemen Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Newly-Declassified U.S. Government Documents: The West Supported the Creation of ISIS Washington’s Blog (Chuck L). Not news if you’ve been paying attention, but being able to refer to documents means you can’t be painted as a CT type if you pose the idea.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Orbitz Says Legacy Travel Site Likely Hacked, Affecting 880K US News

Trump Transition

Trump breaks ranks to congratulate Putin on landslide election victory Guardian

Trump to Ramp Up Trade Restraints on China Wall Street Journal

Republicans fear disaster if Trump fires Mueller The Hill. Recall that we thought that Mueller’s game all along was to goad Trump into arguable or actual obstruction of justice, since the idea that Trump was a Russian puppet is ludicrous (and separately, as constitutional expert Alan Dershowitz has argued, “collusion” is an anti-trust and not applicable here). Mueller subpoenaing the Trump Organization is prosecutorial overreach and looks intended to bait Trump.

Trump Boasts of Killer Arms Sales in Meeting with Saudi Dictator, Using Cartoonish Charts Real News Network

‘Medicare for All’ has broad support — but pollsters worry that it hasn’t been tested Washington Post (UserFriendly

Congress may pass background check legislation in funding bill The Hill

US lawmakers prepare to scale back legal shield for websites Financial Times (David L)

Chinese Corporation Alibaba Joins Group Ghostwriting American Laws Intercept (Chuck L)

Lipinski wins Illinois primary fight The Hill

Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He’s Exceeding Expectations Intercept (UserFriendly)

Kill Me Now

Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big Vogue (J-LS). Note that all the fashion magazines, in the words of a fashionista who reads them all. “ordered” readers to vote for Hillary. The “dreaming big” suggests Vogue is leaving its 2020 options open.

Facebook Fracas. I find it delicious that what we had deemed to be Cambridge Analytica grossly overhyping its capabilities is being used to fry them and Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica Suspends CEO Alexander Nix After Video’s Release Wall Street Journal

Cambridge Analytica: Facebook ‘being investigated by FTC‘ BBC

Facebook Sent Auditors to Ensure Cambridge Analytica Wasn’t Hiding User Data. The U.K. Said ‘Get Out‘ Fortune (Kevin W)

Facebook Sued by Investors Over Voter-Profile Harvesting Bloomberg

Facebook’s Lax Data Policies Led to Cambridge Analytica Crisis Wall Street Journal

Cambridge Analytica Ain’t Nuthin: Look Out For i360 and DataTrust Greg Palast (RR)

New Austin incident does not appear to be related to serial bombings, police say ABC

Uber’s Killer Car

Uber’s Liability in Deadly Crash May Turn on Victim’s Steps Bloomberg

A Self-Driving Uber Killed a Woman. Whose Fault Is It? New Republic

‘Uber should be shut down’: friends of self-driving car crash victim seek justice Guardian

Facebook, Uber and the end of the Great American Tech Delusion Asia Times

GOLDMAN SACHS: ‘Machines have replaced humans’ — and their impact on the next financial crisis could be devastating Business Insider (David L)

Class Warfare

Activists Win Against Nestle Lee Camp

Sen. Brian Schatz’s ambitious new plan for debt-free college, explained Vox. UserFriendly: ”

Why Democrats Should Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee The Nation. UserFriendly: “​Jesus Christ the centrists are all over MMT today! I’ll take it!​”

Antidote du jour. Randy G asks for more pictures of “charming reptiles and provides one of his own: “This is my photo of my pet (captive born) Australian blue-tongue skink.”

cute snake links

And a bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Ignacio

    RE: First population-scale sequencing project explores platypus history

    I like very much this kind of evolutionary studies. There are always interesting findings, at least for those of us that believe that deciphering history or prehistory give us wide and wiser perspectives. Apply that to economy. Economic-social history is always revealing when in doubt.

      1. Steve H.

        Tangenting on funk and evolution. I saw Bootsy last night, an academic Funkology presentation at our local university. Didn’t realize ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’s last album was 1980, the funk still resounds through the use of sampling, snipping little bits like RNA and inserting them into new material, an epigenteic remanifestation of rhythm in the Sonic Geography of space and time.

          1. Steve H.

            O my, I didn’t realize that it was Chic that inspired my only published music, “IncineRap” on “PCB Blues”, and the bass line inspired Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and we’re producing a Queen show in a couple of months.

            And this was Bernard Edwards last show.

  2. milesc

    RE Child abuse imagery found within bitcoin’s blockchain Guardian. Richard Smith: “So you could cripple any ‘coin’ (at least in the UK) by putting a bit of child abuse imagery on its blockchain somewhere. That would be enough prosecution futures to keep our lot happy.”

    That’s not how any of this works. Would someone putting fragments of encoded child abuse images in the comments sections of The Guardian or perhaps hidden within images sold to and published by The Guardian enable the prosecution of The Guardian and its readership for distributing and storing child abuse images? Of course not. It’s nonsense and it’s a rehash (no pun) of a years old story to boot.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Richard Smith thinks, and I agree, you need to be boxed around the ears. Your comment on “This is not how any of this works” is Making Shit Up, which is a violation of our written site Policies. You are already in moderation for previous offenses. You can’t afford any more troll points.

      From Richard:

      Tell him to take a hike. Here’s chapter and verse:

      Researchers at RWTH Aachen University in Germany found that Bitcoin’s blockchain currently holds around 1,600 files, eight of which were sexual. Of those eight one image was thought to have involved children and another two contained 274 links to child abuse content. 142 of those links also happened to be for services on the dark web.

      The researchers noted that this could pose a threat to blockchain services as a whole, based on current legislation, saying:

      Although controlled channels to insert nonfinancial data at small rates opens up a field of new applications such as digital notary services, rights management, or non-equivocation systems, objectionable or even illegal content has the potential to jeopardize a whole cryptocurrency. Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as child pornography can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.


      As of now, this can affect at least 112 countries in which possessing content such as child pornography is illegal. This especially endangers the multi-billion dollar markets powering cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

      Blockchain isn’t necessary for users wishing to trade Bitcoin, some processes, like mining, do require users to download either the full blockchain or parts of it – illegal material and all. Naturally that causes a lot of problems, with the researchers noting that even a single instance of illegal material could automatically make it illegal to use blockchain-based systems.

      Here’s the paper and all:

      And he’s wrong about the rehash too. The older story was a warning, from Interpol no less, about the possibility of malware and child porn on blockchains.

      The 2018 story is about live sightings. That’s a not so subtle difference.

      Lastly, now that it’s public, pleading ignorance, (as a stitched-up Guardian, or its readers might, in his imaginative example), would be kinda hard.

      1. milesc

        Well, thank you (and thank you, Richard) for the response.

        Perhaps this wasn’t clear, but “This is not how any of this works” was just alluding to the fact that if you run a full node and download the entirety of the Bitcoin blockchain, you do not have easily accessible images on your hard drive in the normal sense — no discernible JPEGs or GIFs; rather you would have to purposefully, using other, specialist software, recompose the images by extracting, re-combining and decoding the relevant shards of data.

        I would liken it to having to play a record backwards at a certain speed to reveal hidden information, or having to use the first letter of every paragraph of a story published in a newspaper or online to rebuild some encoded message.

        The entire Internet could be trolled to death if it were the case that user-provided data could render a website or service or its use illegal in this way. Fortunately, we tend to take a more pragmatic approach and look for things like specific intent to possess or distribute, which would be a stretch if applied to e.g. a business using a full node to verify its receipt of bitcoin, or a service hosting a full node (as AWS and Microsoft Azure do), or indeed any other full node operator.

        “And he’s wrong about the rehash too. The older story was a warning, from Interpol no less, about the possibility of malware and child porn on blockchains.”

        No, I was referring to this: and similar stories from 2013 and 2014. So-called blockchain poisoning is a years old idea/phenomenon.

        (I’d be curious to hear what my previous offenses were. I don’t recall having been warned or reprimanded in the past, or maybe I missed it.)

        1. Richard Smith

          OK so this latest reportage is triggered by the publication of a paper. Back in 2013 no-one cared or even knew about the blockchain. That has changed, methinks; but I suppose you could still call a paper & some publicity a rehash, if you were feeling a bit mean.

          I’m not too comfortable with the idea that having to use specialist software, to reconstitute the pics or links, guarantees, once and for all, that this is not a genuine channel for distributing criminal imagery or other illegal stuff, however clunkily (steganography is always clunky).

          Indeed it might even be that, if it’s widely understood that the enforcement agencies are looking the other way, the channel is more likely to be used. If I were in Interpol, I’d pipe up about it, every now and then.

          Lastly, consider the case of Ryan Collins (who sounds a bit like your putative Guardian reader):

          The Collins case was among several recent ones in which district courts have granted lenient sentences to defendants convicted of child pornography possession.

          Collins and other defendants downloaded the images through a peer-to-peer file-sharing program, through which search results are pulled from other users’ hard drives that are running the software and connected to the Internet. P2P differs from the standard client-server model, in which the user requests and usually buys the image from a central server.

          By contrast, P2P users often don’t realize they are sharing the images because the software automatically downloads the images from other users’ hard drives.

          That leniency? He got 5 years, instead of 20.

          1. milesc

            That description of the Collins case seems a bit confused. As far as I can tell, Collins plead guilty — he purposefully downloaded the material (i.e. went looking for it, rather than acquired it inadvertently and incidentally to what he was doing). The lighter sentence reflected that he didn’t know (or claimed he didn’t know) that his P2P software was also _sharing_ the same data with others (i.e. other people who were purposefully trying to acquire it). It did not reflect that he wasn’t consuming child porn, which he was.

            An interesting case nevertheless. It reminds me of Napster users being sued for millions of dollars or dragged before court for (inadvertently) _distributing_ copyrighted music files (which they thought they were only downloading).

            Blockchains are hugely impractical for data storage (especially vs encrypting files and uploading them to free file storage or sharing P2P or whatever other methods people use), and any ‘free pass’ given by law enforcement would not protect the original uploaders of illegal material.

            The uploading process itself would be very slow and, because space is at a premium (at least on Bitcoin’s blockchain), expensive. For perspective, 1GB would need ~12,500,000 OP_RETURN messages, which would cost a little over $3 million dollars (at today’s relatively cheap prices), or >$3,000 per 1MB photo.

            Acquiring and sharing the content would also be a pain — you would have to download the entire blockchain (anything less would suggest specific intent, as would learning how to find and reconstitute the data). Currently, that’s >160GB of data just to obtain “one image … thought [!] to have involved children” and some dark net links. It hardly seems worth it (as much as I would like for more people to run full nodes).

            Hence I think this is entirely about attempted blockchain poisoning (and fear, uncertainty and doubt) and not an illegal material distribution channel to be taken seriously.

            *Source for the cost of storing data on the Bitcoin blockchain in July 2017 (spoiler, 1GB would have cost >$22 million):

    2. flora

      There’s big trade in child porn, which is illegal of course. Hiding said porn by any means possible on other people’s machines or hashes (see dangers of using a torrent downloader) is a now old tactic to maintain access and backdoor control while avoiding prosecution. (‘ But Officer, it wasn’t on my machine. I don’t know anything about the file.’) If there’s any way to hide the illegal files on someone else’s computer or data cloud the bad guys will figure out that way.

      Shorter: doesn’t surprise me they’ve figured out how to use block chain data storage to hide these.

      1. blennylips

        Shorter: doesn’t surprise me they’ve figured out how to use block chain data storage to hide these.

        Tinier: IBM unveils ‘world’s smallest computer’ with blockchain at Think 2018

        But don’t let the size fool you: This sucker has the computing power of the x86 chip from 1990…

        The computer will cost less than ten cents to manufacture, and will also pack “several hundred thousand transistors,” according to the company. These will allow it to “monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data.”


    3. ChrisPacific

      If they were made aware of it by authorities and didn’t take it down, then yes.

      There is, as far as I’m aware, no provision for retroactively ‘fixing’ the blockchain in the case of Bitcoin. It’s explicitly intended to be a tamper-proof historical record. ‘Taking it down’ in the Bitcoin case is by no means as simple as it would be for the Guardian.

      1. milesc

        Fair point, but that could quickly degenerate into a running battle of whack-a-mole and, of course, much of the damage will already have been done, with that data having been copied to countless other websites, servers and home computers. Would server admins and readers then be required to clear their cache for fear of prosecution on the same basis?

        I suppose if you were really concerned about your full node – or if the laws or regulations of a particularly aggressive jurisdiction required it – you could conceivably run an almost-full-node that ignores/ejects and does not relay e.g. relevant OP_RETURN data. I just doubt it would ever come to that — and it certainly wouldn’t be done on comprehensive or global basis.

        GDPR in Europe presents similar problems/opportunities for poisoning, but I don’t think anyone thinks it will kill Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. More likely, the law – or its applicable – will adapt.

  3. integer

    Four days to declare a Cold War Voltaire Network

    The British government and certain of its allies, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have attempted to launch a Cold War against Russia.

    Their plan was to fabricate an attack against an ex-double agent in Salisbury and at the same time a chemical attack against the « moderate rebels » in the Ghouta…

    However, the Syrian and Russian Intelligence Services got wind of what was being plotted. They realised that the US agents in the Ghouta who were preparing an attack against the Ghouta were not working for the Pentagon, but for another US agency.

    We do not know the result of this internal enquiry, but President Trump acquired the conviction that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was implicated. The Secretary of State was immediately asked to interrupt his official journey in Africa and return to Washington.

    Worth reading in full.

    1. Doug Hillman

      An excellent dissection of the sloppy Novitchok farce and its manifest self-contradictions. The connection to the repeated failure to launch its charges of Syrian chemical attacks is more direct and interesting than I realized. It reveals a dangerous level of incompetence and criminal insanity now entrenched in the Anglo-Zionist empire. It’s stupid to poke a bear repeatedly with a sharp stick.

      Of course if Putin had not been so careless as to drop his passport at the scene, this entire incident would likely have passed as a not uncommon case of British-cuisine poisoning, a Salisbury steak gone bad.

    2. Fec

      Bypassing the official diplomatic channels, Russian Chief of Staff General Valeri Guerassimov contacted his US counterpart General Joseph Dunford to inform him of his fear of a false flag chemical attack in Ghouta. Dunford took this information vey seriously, and alerted US Defense Secretary General Jim Mattis, who referred the matter to President Donald Trump. In view of the Russian insistence that this piece of foul play was being prepared without the knowledge of the Pentagon, the White House asked the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, to identify those responsible for the conspiracy.

      We do not know the result of this internal enquiry, but President Trump acquired the conviction that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was implicated. The Secretary of State was immediately asked to interrupt his official journey in Africa and return to Washington…

      President Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired his Secretary of State, with whom he had not yet been in contact. He was replaced by Mike Pompeo, ex-Director of the CIA, who, the night before, had confirmed the authenticity of the Russian information transmitted by General Dunford. On his arrival in Washington, Tillerson obtained confirmation of his dismissal from White House General Secretary General John Kelly.

  4. Amateur Socialist

    Re: Austin bombings. Local media reporting a 24 year old white suspect was killed early this morning in Round Rock (northern suburb) after being surrounded by SWAT teams and shot by one officer. Bomb was apparently detonated inside his vehicle. No details yet regarding identity or motive.

    1. Stillfeelinthebern

      Take a look at this bizarre bomb making case in Wisconsin. A 28 yr old man blown up in his apartment while bomb making. One of the articles I read said they identified him by DNA. They determined that the whole apt building was so contaminated that they did a controlled burn of the building. Residents lost all their belongings.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some have said that it’s more than about guns, that it’s about the society.

      Do other countries, those not been bombed by foreign powers, see bombings like those in Austin? Will there be more such tragic incidents in the future?

      Are we exceptional, from the time the Founder Fathers did what they did that has not been taught to our students, through the century when the West was won, to the global reserve currency issuing present?

      1. Wukchumni

        Bombings and assassinations were all the rage in Europe and here from about 1890 to the Wall Street bombing of the early 1920’s, for what it’s worth.

        Read “The Proud Tower” by Barbara Tuchman, to get up to speed on what went down way back when.


        When I was a kid, for whatever reason, Croatians were known occasionally to be mad bombers, but you never hear about now.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Those Croatians never had to put up with mad self-driving cars though.

          This makes me fear that we’re indeed exceptional.

          1. Wukchumni

            Yeah, all they had to deal with was one of the worst hyperinflation episodes ever in financial history.

            with the projected monthly inflation rate accelerating to one million percent by December, 1993 (prices double every 2.3 days). The highest denomination in 1988 was 50,000 dinars. By 1989 it was 2,000,000 dinars. In the 1990 currency reform, 1 new dinar was exchanged for 10,000 old dinars. In the 1992 currency reform, 1 new dinar was exchanged for 10 old dinars. The highest denomination in 1992 was 50,000 dinars. By 1993, it was 10,000,000,000 dinars. In the 1993 currency reform, 1 new dinar was exchanged for 1,000,000 old dinars. Before the year was over, however, the highest denomination was 500,000,000,000 dinars. In the 1994 currency reform, 1 new dinar was exchanged for 1,000,000,000 old dinars. In another currency reform a month later, 1 novi dinar was exchanged for 13 million dinars (1 novi dinar = 1 German mark at the time of exchange). The overall impact of hyperinflation was that 1 novi dinar was equal to 1 × 1027~1.3 × 1027 pre-1990 dinars. Yugoslavia’s rate of inflation hit 5 × 1015 percent cumulative inflation over the time period 1 October 1993 and 24 January 1994. (from Wiki)

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I assume that made all Croatians experts in math.

              “You can’t count, you won’t survive.”

              1. Wukchumni

                When I was in Yugoslavia in the early 1980’s, I could sense something was horribly wrong for a most interesting reason, in that the smallest denomination coin was a dinara-about the size of a cent, and you could get almost 600 of them for one dollar Americano.

                I figured at the time that the Yugoslavian government was paying 6x the face value in cost, just minting the damned things, and to show you where we’re at now, it costs almost 2 cents to produce a 1 cent coin.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  It was about then that a series of Yugoslav films made it clear that the filmmakers, at least, thought something was seriously wrong with their country.

                  1. Punta Pete

                    Could you give me the names of some of these films? I also visited Yugoslavia in the mid-1980’s. The country was in recession. There were many automobiles but most in the cities appeared to have not been driven in some time. The trams were essentially free since there was little enforcement or collection of roles.

                    1. paul

                      That was my memory of the sarf london train system in in the early eighties.
                      As a hick, I asked a local friend where to buy a ticket, and he laughed.
                      “This is the way it seems to work”

                      A free and easy approach to public transport became patent to me then. Social mobility at its best.

                      Its up there with when I visited Nottingham (might have been Leicester or Sheffield) about that time and the bus driver declaring proudly that they had “lowest fares in UK” as I struggled to find small enough change( and I was familybloggingly impecunious at the time).

                  1. Wukchumni

                    Actually cents are 99% zinc now-with a rich 1% copper plating, and it’s the zinc industry keeping the lowly penny alive.

                    1. Procopius

                      Yeah, that’s what happens when the value of the metal in a coin exceeds its face value in the marketplace. Which is why the idea that inflation in classical times was caused by “debasement” of the coinage seems so unlikely.

  5. Bill Smith

    “you drain your battery because your phone goes into maximum power use mode when it is trying to find a tower.”

    Where that idea come from? In airplane mode it stops trying to find a tower.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you read what I wrote? I said if you do NOT put it in airplane mode…help me….”If you fail to put phone on airplane mode when flying….”

      1. Expat

        Not to mention that you are being naughty!
        Of course, there is no danger to leaving your phone on during the flight. It is more a problem for the service providers as your phone zips from cell tower to cell tower. It screws up the system.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, agreed. I usually don’t bother for that reason and then realize I should have because my phone is dead when I land!!! The “turn your phone off/go into airplane mode” is silly because the phone signal is on an entirely different frequency that what the airplane uses. And having regularly left my phone on, I can attest there is no signal up there. I always get the “you have a new voicemail” beep when I land, and never never never in the air.

  6. Ignacio

    RE: Confusion as Article 32 regulating free movement for British citizens vanishes from new Brexit agreement Independent (Kevin W).

    Easy. Because the agreement applies ONLY to the transition period while article 32 is about what happens after brexit.

  7. John Zelnicker

    Yves – A large picture of the blue-tongued skink also shows up just below the “Prosecution Futures” subhead. Was this a sly comment on the article that follows it?

  8. ambrit

    At last! The antidote finally recognizes our Zeti Reticulan overlords! All Hail!
    Now, in honour of Lamberts’ return from brief exile in New Brunswick, we shall commence twirling, twirling, twirling.

  9. Scott

    Slightly off-topic here, but I’m a big baseball fan. One of the stories that I have been following over the past few years is the plight of minor league ball players. They are paid basically below minimum wage during the season and don’t get paid in the off-season. that means they make under $7,000 a year. Well now MLB is trying to get them exempt from wage and overtime regulations.

  10. anon y'mouse

    On Brian schatz–he said everything right.
    “I don’t want to be running on xyz again in 20xx, or it’s just a ploy for votes.”
    “I reject the pay-for-it-game. You can see the other side don’t care about how to pay for their stuff when they get ahold of the baton.”
    “…shame on us for running on this, and not fixing it.”

    Too bad he’s a politician and one can hardly believe what they say. If he believes what he says, too bad he’s just one in a million.

  11. Anke

    Dear Yves,

    Regarding Brexit, I would like to share the following link to an article discussing another important, though over-looked issue: Gibraltar and the ensuing issues between UK and Spain.

    Just last weekend, I was discussing this topic with a few friends of mine (of non-European heritage, by which I mean that their understanding of the historical importance & political and economic consequences of this “rock” might be limited) and they had not even considered Gibraltar as a potential hot topic. Currently, the focus is on Ireland, but Gibraltar might turn out to be an even more important issue for the EU (and not only).

    One should bear in might that Gibraltar is the gate to the Mediterranean and one of the most important trading routes in the world, over which many empires fought. It allows transit to important geopolitical spots (like the Levant and the Middle East). This, plus the fact that Spain has not gotten over its loss for the last three hundred years and the current geopolitical situation, lead me to believe that there is an important fight over it coming.


    1. JTMcPhee

      Gib has more or less been under siege for centuries. I’m sure the rump toffs of the Great British Empire will figure out how to “stiff upper lip” it (maybe via a “Gibraltar Airlift” or some imposition by the Royal Navy) to maintain the status quo…

      One wonders, given the horrors and vast inequalities and disruptions and decimation and wars that “trade” has brought to the whole world (ALL of us living creatures, except a very special few, and to vast natural features too) what it all will look like when finally “trade” comes to an end. We all (well, almost all of us humans, way more than a “genteel sufficiency”) just “believe” that the supply chains and extraction mechanisms will just go on and on, constant innovation and tinkering will “make it possible to continue as before.” Oh well, wait ‘til Mush instills his version of “democracy” into a human population slaving away to Terraform Mars (endpoint just like th Home Planet?) and to loot the asteroids of extractables that can be converted into More Effing Stuff — including steel to build the Storage Units to contain the More Stuff we can’t accommodate in our Sub-Teeny Hoiusing Units, all rentable, of course..

    2. RabidGandhi

      OK this may be totally CT-ish, but I wonder how much of this can be traced to a clerical error. In the draft agreement, none of the footnotes are highlighted in green, but some numbers leading to footnotes are. I often work with lawyers who highlight sections of a document and don’t realise that, in MS Word, highlighting a section will not automatically highlight that section’s footnotes. Even though they intended to highlight the whole thing, only the body text comes out highlighted. In this specific case, it is odd that none of the footnotes qualified for any of Barnier/Davis’s colour coding.

      That said, I do not see the Gibraltar issue as nearly as explosive as the Ireland border issue, mainly because in NI you have groups that are militantly against (re-)creating a hard border within a single country (whether it is a border dividing RoI from NI or dividing NI from the UK). In Gibraltar, on the other hand, the Spanish have generally wanted to either re-incorporate Gibraltar or to isolate it. (For a vivid illustration of this, if you are travelling on Spain’s A7 highway, there are signs listing all the upcoming municipalities– except for Gibraltar, as if it didn’t exist.)

      Yes, Brexit will mean there will be a hard border between Gibraltar and Spain, but how is that any different than other EU border crossings with third countries? It sounds like Spain just want to ensure the rules are followed and there will be no fudges.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        smudge on my glasses made your last word “fugees” for a moment…which, even after correction, sort of disturbs the Force.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      This is perhaps something our friend Ignacio can comment on. My perception is that because of the Catalonia issue the Spanish have had their eyes ‘off the ball’ on Gibraltar – Brexit should have given them the ideal opportunity to put the squeeze on Britain as a tradeoff for being supportive during the negotiations. But I’m not sure to what extent Madrid has ever been truly serious about owning the Rock, or whether its a convenient flag-waving issue to raise whenever there is an election.

      But there certainly is the potential there for it to become a grandstanding issue for Spain if it chooses – it can simply decide to veto the transitional agreement if it doesn’t get its way.

    4. Anke

      Thank you all for your input.

      @PK: Yes, I agree. I think Ignacio could provide us with some local insight.

      Just a few general comments, so as to clarify my stating that in my view Gibraltar could/should end up being a bigger issue than Ireland:
      1. I agree that there is a much more emotional/violent component to the IE/NI/UK border issue. This is a regrettable aspect of the relationship between these two nations and, as I have stated earlier on this website, a reason why Europeans should never get too involved in those arguments – IMHO. In my view, the main task for Europeans is to ensure that somewhere (anywhere) there is a hard border, with proper customs checks, to ensure that there is no in-/outflow of goods, which do not respect EU standards. Having said all this, I would like to add that just because a conflict is emotionally intense, does not mean it has the same level of geopolitical/economic importance. Or as Shakespeare once said: “Much ado about nothing.”
      2. As mentioned already, the Gibraltar “rock” is the gateway into the Mediterranean. As such, its importance is highly strategic for military (and economic, given the value of the trade) purposes. That is the crux of my argument. We are not talking about some petty (domestic) political issue, but about the ability to control trade in this vast area and, very importantly, the ability to send one’s aircraft carriers towards important war zones. If an independent state were to take full control over Gibraltar, then the ability of non-party states to exert any influence in that space would be limited by the quality of the relationship with that independent state.
      3. I agree that Madrid seems to be caught now in their very emotional row with Catalonia. I am not at all familiar with the on-the-ground issues in Spain, but I am aware of the issue with Catalonia (which have been going on for centuries, primarily due to dynastic and trade-related issues). In respect to Gibraltar, Spain might have given up on it, but if the EU is really serious about building its geopolitical & military clout, it should at least discuss this properly.


      1. RabidGandhi

        Whilst waiting for Ignacio to chime in, I’m not sure if you were referring to my post, but at no point did I or anyone else make any point about which issue is more “emotional”, but if you want to get emotions riled up, calling the Irish border a “petty (domestic) political issue” is a fantastic start.

        Secondly, if I understand you correctly, your point is that Gibraltar will be a bigger issue because the EU is more concerned with its geo-strategic significance. This is completely contrary to every action taken by the EU in the Brexit process, which has clearly indicated what the rules are, and that they apply to each situation equally. It would be unthinkable for the EU to say “The rule is border controls, but Gibraltar is so important geopolitically [“the crux” of your argument] that we’ll make an exception”. Furthermore, what is the end game? A trade war where the UK closes the strait? Even the Tories aren’t that daft.

        Thirdly, I reiterate my point that the Irish border is not the same as the UK/Spain border because the former has to be drawn somewhere dividing a country that is currently united. That is not a petty emotional issue, it is a political sovereignty issue.

        And lastly, the main issue in Brexit is trade, not aircraft carriers (aircraft carriers? for reals?). The amount of trade that crosses over from Gibraltar is minuscule compared to the RoI/NI border.

        Basically, reading the Politico article, Spain piped up to make a point of order that EU rules must be followed with regard to Gibraltar, as this was not clearly specified as agreed in the draft agreement (perhaps a clerical error). How that gets blown up into Gibraltargeddon is beyond me.

        1. Ignacio

          I feel sorry for missing this discussion. Gibraltar, effectively could be an issue since Spain has veto rigths regarding Gibraltar status on Brexit. You have to consider that nowadays Gibraltar is basically a tax haven and that is what bothers the most to spanish authorities. I don’t see rigth now Gibraltar as a hot spot on sovereignity issues but as PK says rigth now the focus is on Catalonia and it is very difficult to see opinions on Gibraltar. In the other side of the fence, “gibraltareños” are very much worried about a customs barrier.

  12. Marco

    Should we be happy Gillibrand is endorsing a JG? She’s about as establishment Dem as one can get. The only worrisome issue would be how neolibs would screw it up via obamacare-ish means-testing or it morphing into a horrible corporate welfare nightmare.

    “Don’t have a job? That’s okay. Go report to your nearest McDonalds and we’ll make sure you “average” $12 an hour AFTER tax credits…your check will be in the mail NEXT April.”

    1. Carla

      “Should we be happy Gillibrand is endorsing a JG? She’s about as establishment Dem as one can get.” — Yeah, it’s called co-opt and crapify — a Democrat specialty. With healthcare they did a 3-stage maneuver: from Single Payer to the Public Option (major tell) to TAH-DAH! Obamacare!!!!

      And please note: the most “progressive” Democrat in the Senate, my Senator Sherrod Brown, was a proud cheerleader for the first stage of co-optation, the P.O.

      1. Marco

        Ha!! Never thought of a political crapification process akin to a 3-stage rocket launch from great policy to bureaucratic hellscape. And yet the hopeful me still wants to refrain from hard core cynicism this early in the game.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is work and there is work.

          Spending money is hard work. Just ask the president of any charity organization.

          And so, spending money into existence is work as well. I wonder how many kids dream of growing up to have a money-spending career.

          “When I grow up, I want to be a money-spender.”

          In any case, if that is included in any Work-Guarantee or Jobs Guarantee program, I know which one I would pick freely (because we live in a free country).

    2. Eclair

      Fortunately, (well, not if you are one of the recipients), the US has a proven guaranteed-housing-with-jobs program. More widely known as our incarceration system, a flagship public-private partnership, that supports about 100 of every 100,000 residents. Plus, of course, the necessary infrastructure, guards, administrators, builders, required to run it.

      It is perfectly ‘legal’ to require prisoners to work at jobs, benefiting major corporations, for pennies per hour. No problems with union organizers, demands for higher wages, kvetching over work conditions. According to an article in The Economist, the practice of providing really really cheap labor for private companies began in 1979. Not with great fanfare, since we don’t want to think of our lacy Victoria’s Secret panties being sewn by (gasp, clutching pearls) a drug dealer. Or worse … oh, wait, we’re still not incarcerating those responsible for torture, bank fraud, or endless war.

  13. Lemmy Caution

    RE the pedestrian killed by the Uber robot car.

    It’s quickly become an article of faith that the pedestrian appeared out of nowhere to step directly in front of the vehicle. The video taken by the Uber car’s front-facing camera, which is said to show this clearly, is still not available. The Tempe, Arizona Sheriff said that the police have no plans to release the video while the investigation is ongoing.

    The widely distributed still image of the accident scene raises some questions. News reports of the accident say that there was no attempt by the car to brake or swerve and the driver is quoted as saying that:

    “His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.”

    If the vehicle (traveling at about 40 mph) didn’t begin to brake until the impact it would have traveled approximately 80 feet further and possibly 160 feet further depending on who did the braking (there would have been a slight lag in applying the brakes if it was the human; I don’t know what the robot reaction time is).

    The photo of the accident scene shows the Uber vehicle and the bicycle within a few meters of each other, so I assume that the bike – and possibly the victim — were carried along on the hood of the car and only slid off when the vehicle was finally brought to a stop.

    An intriguing question is who applied the brakes in this incident? How far from the point of impact did the car finally come to rest? Did the robot ever realize what had occurred or did the human need to seize control of the vehicle and bring it to a stop? If it was the human and not the robot, would the car ever have stopped unless the human took control?

    1. Loneprotester

      Good questions. But the biggest questions are who is selecting the drivers on Uber’s autonomous vehicles and who do they REALLY work for?

      1. Lemmy Caution

        A New York Times diagram of the accident raises even more questions.

        It appears the victim — identified as Elaine Herzberg — was crossing the street from the opposite side of the road than the lane the Uber car was in. In other words, she didn’t step off the curb directly into the lane of the Uber car. She was in the middle of what looks like a two-lane boulevard, which has wide shoulders and a right-turn lane that make it more like a four-lane expanse of open, level paved area.

        Seeing how wide-open the area appears makes it even harder to explain why the Uber vehicle’s imaging sensors and cameras did not see her and react.

        Even weirder is that the still image shows damage to the vehicle’s passenger-side front bumper. The diagram suggests that the victim was moving from left to right in front of the vheicle when hit. Which means that she must have crossed directly in front of the vehicle before being hit by the front passenger-side bumper.

        As heartbreaking as the video of the accident would be to view, it would still help clarify exactly what occured here.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          If the NYTimes is right, then this really is big trouble for Uber. She should have been clearly visible to any sensors if she was crossing from the island on the opposite side. There seems no evidence that the vehicle either braked or took evasive action.

          I wonder if the fact that she was apparently pushing her bike with shopping bars on the handlebars caused problems for the sensors/algorithm. Famously, some systems are confused by kangaroos. Could the algorithms have been confused by a vehicle that seemed too slow/wrong shape to be a bike but too large to be a pedestrian?

          1. Lemmy Caution

            Here’s the street-level view of where the Uber vehicle was traveling when it hit he victim. Looks pretty wide open to me. The “Yield To Bikes” sign is a nice touch. Do Robots read road signs?

            1. Marco

              RE road signs. There is a stretch of road near my home where the stop signs are continuously vandalized. This is often a problem in urban hoods. How LIDAR or other sensing tech deals with potentially missing or seriously defaced road signage seems very problematic.

            2. cm

              It may not be obvious from the picture, but that is four lanes one way, with a divider to the left. In Maricopa County, crosswalks are few and far between, and major streets (such as this one) can be 6 or 8 lanes wide.
              On Reddit’s carcam site, there’s a video of a Scandinavian truck driver making an instant stop when a child darts behind a school bus right in his path. One expects AI to have just as quick reaction times.

            3. Adam1

              I was looking at the street view you posted… Per the Jalopnik photo, Elaine ended up on the sidewalk up the street by the blue sign where the dashed white line returns to solid. Per your estimates the impact likely happened where the dashed line starts. From there look to the other side of the street; you can see what appears to be red concrete – almost like a sidewalk. If you go to aerial satellite view you’ll see it’s a giant X in the middle of the median. That said I don’t think it is supposed to be used as a side walk. On all four points of the X there is a sign that says do not cross use the crosswalk (with an arrow). I’d suspect those sign are there because this isn’t the first person to be hit there using the concrete X as if it was a sidewalk and a crossing area. It’s almost like the car was assuming there would not be any people to its left since they are not allowed/supposed to cross in this area and there are no official sidewalks in that median.

              1. Lemmy Caution

                I noticed that crosswalk too in the aerial image and wondered the same thing about it you did, namely … why is it there and how many other accidents must have occured there for there to be “Use Crosswalk” signs posted at each place where it meets the road.

          2. visitor

            It is plausible. The image recognition systems in self-driving cars are still plagued by failures to recognize unexpected shapes, or familiar shapes in unexpected situations.

            For instance, a recent report indicates that GM Cruise self-driving cars have difficulties distinguishing between bicycles and motorbikes, and are confused by bushes. I remember an older case where a self-driving car prototype was confused by advertisements on buses representing persons — leading the car to assume pedestrians were on the move in the middle of the road.

            Let us also remember that some of the machine-learning based algorithms relied upon sometimes prove inexplicably sensitive to subtle variations in the input, ending up with wacky image classifications.

            Finally, it is not the first time a Uber car crashes against another road user under unclear circumstances.

            1. Lemmy Caution

              One bit of information that is being glossed over is that the Uber car was reportedly traveling approximately 40 mph in a 35 mph zone.

              Was it programmed to violate the speed limit, or was the human driver overriding the programming by pushing on the accelerator?

              Either way, you would think that violating the speed limit would automatically make Uber at fault.

              1. Arthur J

                Apparently a Google Street view of the road from last year showed a speed limit sign of 45mph. So it’s not immediately obvious from our view from the internet which is true.

        2. cnchal

          That image with the arrow coming in from the left only points to the area that she may have been trying to cross, but does not indicate which direction she was going.

          An image further down titled “What the Car Sees” is actually kind of frightening. It doesn’t see anything and objects, such as pedestrians or other cars are colored boxes, and if this is state of the art, not ready for road testing in my book.

          The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage, as Silicon Valley giants, major automakers and other companies race to develop vehicles that can drive on their own. Governments, for their part, are still trying to figure out how to regulate the technology, and a patchwork of rules are currently in place around the country.

          Wanna race? Take it to the track. Isn’t street racing illegal?

          1. Lemmy Caution

            This Wasington Post article says that she was crossing from the west side of the street when she was struck.

            I am coming to the conclusion that we are being spun and spun hard about this accident. As further proof, another line from the above Washingtion Post article stuck out:

            “The crash occurred about 10 p.m. near a busy intersection with multiple lanes in every direction.”

            First of all, the crash occured several hundred feet from the intersection. Second, rather than multiple lanes in every direction, the intersection consists of lanes going in four directions, like most intersections.

            1. cnchal

              The video has been released and it shows the woman walking her bicycle from the center median to the curb on the right, and made it almost all the way across the front of the car before getting hit by the right front of the car.

              NBC makes the point that it was dark and there was no time to react, but if this were broad daylight, the result would have been the same. The lidar unit failed completely to recognize an obstacle crossing in front of it, like she wasn’t even there. The engineer/driver, being lulled into a false sense of security was not paying attention, and the results are this autonomous driving experiment killed her.

              It is clearly not ready for testing in a “live” driving environment. That it is being done is a travesty and gross injustice. We are crash test dummies in a tech bro wet dream.

              1. Lemmy Caution

                Yes, the video shows Elaine Herzberg walking from left to right directly in front of the vehicle. The Lidar system should have had no problem detecting her, regardless of the ambient light. According to this Wired article:

                Lidar works much like radar, but instead of sending out radio waves it emits pulses of infrared light—aka lasers invisible to the human eye—and measures how long they take to come back after hitting nearby objects. It does this millions of times a second, then compiles the results into a so-called point cloud, which works like a 3-D map of the world in real time—a map so detailed it can be used not just to spot objects but to identify them. Once it can identify objects, the car’s computer can predict how they will behave, and thus how it should drive.

                Lidar is touted as working during both day and night. For example, Ford claims the Lidar system it uses on this autonomous vehicle works just as well at night as it does during the day.

            2. The Rev Kev

              I’m sure that you mean that the Washington Post is lying their face off as usual. I have just seen the film clip and she was out in the open in the middle of the road. The sensor array should have picked her out and I am wondering if the bicycle shape may have confused the onboard computer. In any case, she should have been treated as an obstacle in the road. Some people have talked about stopping distances and speed elsewhere but the car is also capable of another maneuver called “swerving”‘. Looking at that video clip again, I am not even sure high beam was on.

      2. Kevin

        the biggest questions for me? who wants these autonomous tons of fast moving steel?
        who is clamoring for these?

        1. Wukchumni

          Think of how the music business reinvented the delivery format from 78 to 45 to 33 rpm, and then to 8 track tapes, cassettes, CD’s, etc.

          It’s just another way to make you buy the same item.

        2. polecat

          ‘Who’s clamoring for these?’
          Why, the control freaks in D.C. and the Valley !
          … and I wouldn’t be surprized if the I A’s were in on it as well … I mean, they’re all one of a piece, am I right ?

        3. David

          Maybe the same people who want to ban a few ounces of human-directed fast moving steel, i.e. bullets.

          Have the kids started protesting autonomous vehicles yet?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Not all.

            Some who employ indirectly, like taxi riders, might prefer human taxi drivers.

        4. Donna

          Kevin, Exactly. We have lived in an area for 30 years now. When we moved in it was outside what they call here in Orlando the urban service area. We lived off a two lane road that became a 4 lane road and now a 5 lane road. We used to traverse the road in minutes. Now we have a main intersection that requires several light changes to make a left turn. How do self driving cars help with this equation of more people less infrastructure? We argue over self-driving cars while public transportation is all but non existent. Infuriating……

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            throughout the advent of “self driving cars”, I’ve wondered the same thing….why are we doing this? what’s the goal?…or is it just a gee whizz-because we can/ain’t that cool kind of thing?
            Seems like a grievous misallocation of resources if all we want to do is move people in a more rational manner than every individual owning their own car.
            I live in Texas…and what public transportation is available is hardly worth the effort to use…but I understand that more civilised places have figured it out pretty well. My brother talks about the trains and such in Europe as the coolest thing ever.

            1. John H

              I’m not an Uber fan, but we? Which we is that? And whose resources are being allocated? If you’re talking about funders and owners of Uber then they want to make (an enormous amount of) money by providing a service more cheaply. Why would or should your opinion count for anything in their estimation? The we lies in the legal environment and not in the capital markets. And let’s not forget the reason we don’t have buses and trains in this country is in good part because General Motors bought them up and shut them down.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              The goal is to pre-emptively spend time, money and material resources on robocars so as to prevent that time, money and material resources from being spent on mass transit. The longest-range goal is to get enough hundreds of millions of people dependent on robocars that those hundreds of millions of people can be mobilized as a manipulable constituency against mass transit.

        5. Altandmain

          The technology industry mostly. It is because companies like Google are hoping that you are browsing the Internet while the self driving car is going to your destination.

          Whether through YouTube or Google search or Gmail or AdWords, they can then show you more advertisements.

          1. Lord Koos

            Hundreds of tech “advancements” have been foisted on the public without regard to anything but profit. In the 1950s Nestle was touting their infant “formula” as a modern alternative to breast feeding, compromising the healthy immune system of millions of people. Big pharma is another classic example of this kind of thing.

        6. move left

          I dunno, but they seem more useful than an Amazon Echo. Not that you could pay me to have either one.

        7. Expat

          Personally, I prefer a smart, driver-less car to one being drive by a meatsack with a low IQ and uncontrolled emotions. Cars kill about 16 pedestrians a day. In addition there are thousands of accidents caused by speeding, alcohol, phones, and other distractions.

          I think we could save tens of thousands of lives by outlawing human drivers. But there is some strange emotion that makes us accept 50k deaths a year but refuse one caused by a machine.

          Humans are odd creatures.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            How many robocars has it taken to kill 2 people so far? ( That Tesla suicide-car victim and now this pedestrian).

            When the world has a billion robocars, how many people will all those cars be killing at that same rate of kill?

        8. JTFaraday

          “the biggest questions for me? who wants these autonomous tons of fast moving steel?
          who is clamoring for these?”

          The same people who brought us regulatory arbitrage as a, if not THE universal, business model. Libertarians.

    2. Mel

      The broad question, too, came up in Techdirt comments. What are the fatalities per driven mile, or per hour driving, for humans and bots? E.g. the (unacceptably crude) comparison of fatalities per vehicle would predict that there were 10 cars driving in Tempe that day to generate their pro rata share of fatalities compared to the one bot.
      Every commenter on Techdirt knew everything about the accident, but nobody had valid numbers.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I doubt there have been enough real world miles done yet to be able to give meaningful figures.

        One problem with interpreting traffic accident figures is that they don’t account for changes in behaviour due to technological changes. So for example, there is evidence that a significant drop in pedestrian/cyclist deaths over the years is due not to safer conditions, but the opposite – that as roads have become faster and more dangerous, fewer people walk and cycle. Its been demonstrated for example with bikes, that cars drive closer and in a more risky manner to cyclists if that cyclist is wearing a helmet.

        So if self driving cars become the norm, there may well be behavioural changes by drivers and pedestrians. They may both, for example, take more risks, in say cutting in front of self driving cars, knowing they will brake to let you through – or, pedestrians may simply step in front of them, knowing they will automatically brake.

        A real world example is with aircraft. Increasing automation of flying has undoubtedly reduced accidents, but its also created its own hazards by, for example, ensuring pilots can’t get the stick time to be able to react automatically in the event of a failure. This was probably the reason why the Air France Airbus that went down in the south Atlantic a few years ago crashed.

        1. a different chris

          >or, pedestrians may simply step in front of them, knowing they will automatically brake.

          Well I guess we won’t think that anymore.

        2. Mel

          There’s also the situational awareness angle, with the human getting control after things have gone to hell. Charles Perrow says it more politely in Normal Accidents:

          [W]hen the pilot is suddenly and unexpectedly brought into the control loop (in other words, participates in decision making) as a result of (inevitable) equipment failure, he [sic] is disoriented. Long periods of passive monitoring make one unprepared to act in emergencies. […] As Earl Weiner puts it in a perceptive article about CFIT [controlled flight into terrain], “The burning question of the near future will not be how much work a man can do safely, but how little.”

          As in, the view in the windscreen is full of trees, and the autopilot says “You got it, boss.” I’m imagining that safety driver is a pretty nasty job.

          1. Lemmy Caution

            It does seem to be asking a whole lot for the driver to sit passively for hours at a time, yet still be actively processing second-to-second environmental variables in case they need to spring into action. And I still want to know how long it took for the Uber vehicle to come to a stop after it hit the poor woman, and who did the braking.

            1. Grebo

              I can’t answer as to who did the braking, but if we compare the position of the car in the NYT photo (look at the the road markings) with the satellite image I’d say it pulled up pretty sharpish.
              It looks like the women was hit a glancing blow and was thrown aside but the bicycle was dragged along with the car.

            1. Arthur J

              Absolutely false. Air France 447 crashed into the ocean because the newbie co-pilot held the stick back, keeping the aircraft in a stall the whole time the crew was trying to understand what the instruments were trying to tell them.

              The plane did not crash because of computer failure. It was -pilot- error -all the way down-. The computers kept trying to warn the pilots but they just ignored the warnings while they tried to guess what was going on.

              1. Mel

                The failure mode we’re discussing, is that when the crew finally get pulled into the loop, they’re not up-to-date on what’s happening, and in the time they take to figure it out, the plane can hit the water.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                You didn’t read (or understand) my post above responding to Mel and my previous comment.

                I stated clearly that the issue was of automation changing the behaviour of drivers/pilots, with unexpected consequences. This is precisely what happened with Air France 447.

                1. Arthur J

                  Sorry, my reply was meant for your further up post that I interpreted you as faulting the automation for having caused the disaster.

                  I’m still not convinced though that it was their disconnect from flying that was the issue with 447. The fact they didn’t understand why the autopilot disengaged or why the computer said the air speed indicators were invalid, yes, I would agree that just letting the computer fly for them was an issue there. It was clear that the captain didn’t understand that when the air speed indicator became invalid, the flight control computer switched to alternate law by itself, rather than being ordered to do so. However, after that point when they did take control of the aircraft the fact that they chose to ignore the altimeter that told them they were falling out of the sky, or the artificial horizon that said they were pointing at the moon aren’t failures of awareness, it was deliberate ignorance of the facts.
                  It wasn’t until near the end when the co-pilot said “But I’ve had the stick back the whole time” that the captain understood what was going on, but by then it was over.

            2. blennylips

              I feel you are right, PK. Disasters on this scale rarely have one cause.

              William Langewiesche has the best analysis I’ve seen: “Should Airplanes Be Flying Themselves?”

              See also Mr. Langewiesche’s:

              The Devil at 37,000 Feet
              There were so many opportunities for the accident not to happen—the collision between a Legacy 600 private jet and a Boeing 737 carrying 154 people. But on September 29, 2006, high above the Amazon, a long, thin thread of acts and omissions brought the two airplanes together. From the vantage point of the pilots, the Brazilian air-traffic controllers, and the Caiapó Indians, whose rain forest became a charnel house, the author reconstructs a fatal intersection between high-performance technology and human fallibility.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s not unlike the situation where you have been using a calculator to compute for the longest time and are suddenly required to figure out yourself.

        3. visitor

          Currently a major difference is that self-driving cars are usually sent on roads with relatively “clean” conditions (not too heavy, not too confusing traffic, acceptable signaling and road surface, preferably flat terrain, etc). Human-driven cars are found everywhere, under every possible traffic conditions, at any time of the day, under any weather.

          The GM report I allude to above thus reports that the Cruise self-driving cars do not go to areas that have been explicitly blacklisted — because of:

          too faint traffic lights;
          complex roundabouts;
          difficult lane merges;
          two-way residential streets that only have room for one car to pass at a time;
          construction zones;

          all of which reasonably correspond to a higher risk of accidents whether for automatic or manual cars.

      2. Summer

        From all the analysis Uber has little to worry about. We are accustomed to sacrifice for the sake of corporate profit and will find all kinds of ways to quantify it.

        Where the rubber meets the road will be if their driverless cars crash into one another or any other accidents without any human behind the wheel.
        The rest they will manage with PR and quants.

    3. cnchal

      Good questions. So far the blame is being laid on the deceased’s actions, and apparently being potentially homeless is also a contributing factor.

      From viewing the videos, “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode [autonomous or human-driven] based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Moir told the Chronicle. Police don’t have plans to release the videos while the investigation’s ongoing.

      Moir didn’t rule out possible criminal charges, and new rules set by an executive order from Arizona’s cover leaves Uber potentially liable.

      Police later said in a statement to Bloomberg that it would defer to county prosecutors on the question of bringing charges, but didn’t dispute her remarks, before walking them back slightly by saying: “Tempe Police Department does not determine fault in vehicular collisions.”

      Ask yourself, would there be any shadows with the headlights on? Looking at the stretch of road, there seems to be no trees or bushes anywhere near it, so any driver paying attention would see this person when they become visible in the headlight’s beams if not before from street lighting. There are multiple lanes beside the curb lane, so there is lots of escape room for any driver paying attention, so not difficult at all to avoid this collision. There was no action taken by the robotic car, not even a tiny swerve or touch of brakes.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve mentioned before how common it is for suicidal quail to run towards my wheels and somehow dart away at the last instant on curvy mountain roads here, it’s happened hundreds and hundreds of times, kind of comical really.

        Now, let’s say I was in a self-driving car, whose radar picked up the largely flightless birds about to ‘run into’ me, and it swerved to miss them, causing the car to flip over, with me sustaining major injuries in the process.

        Uber would go down in flames even quicker than it will now, with a silhouette of a dead bicyclist stenciled on the left rear quarter panel, to it’s credit.

    4. Altandmain

      Here’s the dash cam video of the incident:

      There was certainly a failure here. The LIDAR should have picked up on it.

      Experts say that the sophisticated sensors on the autonomous vehicle almost certainly detected the woman pushing her bicycle laden with bags along the median, close to the road. But it’s possible the car’s lidar and radar sensors, which scan the surroundings for objects, may not have realized it was detecting a person. (Uber declined to comment.)

      That’s what I am thinking here as well.

      Also keep in mind the video is darker than it would be in real life.

      1. Altandmain

        Also note that the driver was staring downwards the whole time until the very last moment. They were likely on their phone.

        That raises another issue – if the self-driving system disengages, the driver has very little time to react and may not even be aware of what is happening.

        1. Senator-Elect

          Could he be charged for distracted driving? Is he considered to have care and control of the vehicle? If he was paying attention, the accident may have been avoided.

      2. Senator-Elect

        Yes, it definitely looked dark in the video. What about the high beams? Were they on? A human driver would have probably put them on, depending on other traffic of course. The car’s sensors don’t need them, but what about the human backup driver?

        This whole thing stinks from top to bottom. And to think there are so many other much more pressing human needs out there. This is yet another symptom of the near-total failure of our economic and political system.

      3. Louis Fyne

        I thought infrared sensors were used in addition to lidar and cameras.

        I guess not. Infrared night vision sensors has been available as an option on certain German cars for a few years.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I am mentioning Dershowitz in the “even Dershowitz” as in “guy who will pretty much always defend bad elite positions” won’t get behind a key legal argument made against Trump.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The NSA Worked to ‘Track Down’ Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal Intercept (Bill B)

    I thought it was better for keeping your ownership secret than burying those gold coins in the backyard.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chinese Corporation Alibaba Joins Group Ghostwriting American Laws Intercept (Chuck L

    And who ghostwrites Alibaba’s script?


    How high (or low) is Alibaba’s social score?

  16. JTMcPhee

    Re “democratically elected autocrats:” If one looks functionally at government/rule in the US empire, our Thought Leaders (see “1984”) have zero legs to stand on in laying charges against Russia’s forms and structures. Sure looks to me that functionally, the Empire is ruled by that combination of Malefactors of Great Wealth, “corporate persons,” and the now seemingly permanent sub rosa Actual Autocracy of “agencies” that hold all the “agency” (power to act and effectuate) that really matters in the political economy. And we mopes get to go through what we are slowly being indoctrinated to understand is a sham function called “elections,” a word that standing alone, implies an actual choice, and that also implies a choice among real and at least potentially beneficial “general welfare” alternatives.

    Globally, those who “have” and have figured out how to game and control “the system” have such a huge advantage over the mopery that except where the tentacles of the vampire squid have not yet got a firm grip, the “haves” can tolerate a little dissident activity as they “recule pour mieux oprimer” — I wonder: Did Edward Snowden, looking at what he could see from his screen and keyboard, had in mind that bit in the “Independence Day” original movie, where the vast mechanized alien warships are sliding into place over the Earth’s population centers, experience that wonderful Jeff Goldblum moment, the one where, as a genius techie, he recognizes in the alien signals that there’s an alien countdown clock running, set to trigger the onslaught at a predetermined moment, when all the weapons and tools of slaughter and extraction are in place…

    I sort of doubt that Area 51 will become a refuge for the rump of humanity and a base for successful resistance and triumph (this time) over those evil aliens. Who if you look at what they do (psychically cooperating vastly via their “platforms” in killing off the indigens, extracting the planet’s resources, then on to the next one) are exactly like our very own human “aliens.” Yo, Musk and Buffett and Zuckerberg and Blankfein and the rest! A Bigger Better Business Model!

    And for the hopeful who take comfort from the Big Win in “Independence Day I,” don’t forget what happens next, “only in fiction, of course:” Good thing Hollywood gets to write the ending, and decide whether there will be a darker third movie in the “franchise…”

    1. Loneprotester

      Masterful! I have to admit that I quit reading the Russian expat’s piece when I read that the real key to democracy was not whether there was ballot stuffing or propaganda, but electoral choice. Right then. It’s already game, set, match and we are finished. It is that simple.

    2. fresno dan

      March 21, 2018 at 9:35 am

      great analysis.
      Its all like a Chinese restaurant – great illusion of almost limitless choice, but of course you can ONLY have Chinese food…..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In some places, you can ask for brown rice, purple rice, black rice (said to be forbidden, only for the imperial family, in the past), or Madagascar pink rice.

    3. Sid Finster

      Has Russian declared corporations to be “people” with constitutional rights?

      Has Russia declared that universal healthcare will “never ever happen”?

      Has Russia nominated a torturer, not merely an apologist for torture, but an enthusiastic participant, to high office?

      1. RabidGandhi

        Tovarisch Arizona Slim can correct my grammar here, but to your first point, the Russian Civil Code does recognise corporate personhood (правосубъектностью), as do most European legal systems.

  17. NotTimothyGeithner

    Wasn’t the 1996 Russian election rigged? My sense is Zyuganov was too anti-West to challenge Putin who was an anti-Yeltsin personality not attached to the Communists or Nationalists. Russians had real identity concerns and preferred a new face unattached to old structures (yes, Putin was a colonel in the KGB; there are many of those). Cheating in the post ’96 elections was unnecessary, and then there is the importance of a credible opposition personality. I don’t follow it, but in the U.S., the first six Presidents were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Q. Adams. The rivalry between Adams and Jefferson magnified the succession process, but old George left the country to guys he counted on. One of his surrogate sons took over next. Putin let Medvedev take the RF out for a spin and seemed to make his decision to return after the Libya fiasco. Mitterand was President of France for 15 years and started receiving over 40 of the vote 10 years before winning. I would say Putin is fairly common place for a leader with a record of accomplishment. I don’t like Raygun, but 41 largely became President by virtue of succeeding the Gipper and Gipper hysteria/nostalgia installed his son along with Ronnie’s Supreme Court appointees including Sandra Day O’Connor.

    1. Bill Smith

      “Wasn’t the 1996 Russian election rigged?”

      The West, including President Clinton went out of their way to help Yeltsin. That Clinton helped Yeltsin (before Putin was aligned with Yeltsin) was part of the animosity Putin likely holds for Hillary Clinton.

    2. Sid Finster

      To answer your initial question: yes, it was rigged. And yes, the United States was openly involved in said rigging.

      That said, Zhuganov didn’t seem really to want to win.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank Counterpunch

    We ought to end our involvement at path-smoothing there.

    1. JBird

      This is not going to go well. Even if the Israeli government is prevented from an annexation, for a country recreated by survivors of the Holocaust, having its descendants attempt this is truly an evil and shameful act. I wonder if someone is planning some Palestinian version of Wounded Knee. And I wish that was truly hyperbole.

      1. Lambert Strether

        The entire West Bank (5,628 km²) would fit comfortably inside San Bernardino County (52,072 km²), and the Golan Heights (1,800 km²) would fit comfortably inside the West Bank.

        Certainly worth blowing up the Middle East, and maybe the world, for. Let’s have Bibi address Congress again and explain why that’s a good thing, ka-ching.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Facebook, Uber and the end of the Great American Tech Delusion Asia Times

    The end?

    Not even the beginning of the end. “We’re going to Mars!!!!”

    And get a 10% discount, plus free shipping, when you purchase your ticket online.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I did like the quote describing the current state of the art:

      The Information, a consulting organization that showcases industry specialists, recently held a conference call on self-driving where one expert warned: “You have to remember that self-driving does not work, at least in… a highly functional, driverless robotaxi sense. It does not work. And there are many folks clamoring for architectures to get there. Again, think back to flight. Do you ever watch those YouTube videos where the guy pumping the umbrella and the dude with a big corkscrew and the person with the bird wings? I would think of it more that way. It is left to be seen which one of those architectures gets you to a useful outcome.”

  20. RenoDino

    Trump calls Putin

    Trump: Congrats. I hear you have some new weapons that make our entire tactical nuclear strike force and naval battle groups obsolete. Maybe we should talk.

    Putin: I’ve been expecting your call.

    After the call, Trump tells the press Russia will never have any weapons like we have. He fails to mention that’s because they are no longer of any use.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    A Self-Driving Uber Killed a Woman. Whose Fault Is It? New Republic

    ‘Uber should be shut down’: friends of self-driving car crash victim seek justice Guardia

    Do you want to be right, do you want to be fault-free, or do you want to save lives (or at the minimum, not more deaths that occur this way)?

    There is something in the algorithm that needs to be fixed.

    Though, I think, fixing it is an admission of guilty (or can be interpreted that way), though not necessarily always so.

    1. curlydan

      And unfortunately and tragically, the way to improve the algorithm is to have these incidents/deaths/accidents.

  22. diptherio

    Not news if you’ve been paying attention, but being able to refer to documents means you can’t be painted as a CT type if you pose the idea.

    If only that were actually the case….for a lot of people “conspiracy theory” simply refers to any analysis that makes them uncomfortable, in my experience.

  23. fresno dan

    Who or what is killing business television? Bezos and rage. So, granted, biz TV is also subject to the death of the advertising industrial complex — people realize advertising sucks (I mean … really sucks), and advertising has become a tax the poor and technologically illiterate pay. Below are some of the commercials run during a break on Squawk Box:
    Mattress One (get 50% off and 0% for five years)
    Prevagen brain health supplement
    Treasure Hunt, who pays top dollar for your gold and diamonds
    Gutterman’s Funeral Home
    Crash-Proof Retirement, the slam-dunk retirement system
    Facebook and Google’s algorithms determined that rage is good for business, as it results in engagement.
    I haven’t watched business TVee in 20 years, but I do need to start looking into funeral homes……

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I was wondering if I should avoid conglomerates that own both hospitals and funeral homes.

      “One stop shopping, for your convenience.”

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        in my tiny little town, some optimistic soul just put in a 50 or so unit apartment complex, catering to old folks(“assisted living” is in great big letters)…right between a funeral home and the landfill.
        (also a smaller feedlot right there abutting the fence, too; so, flies and the smell of mountains of dung)
        In spite of all this(which I appear to be the only one to notice), rumor has it that they are already booked full.(over 65 is around 30+% of our population)

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big”

    This story seems to be one for getting the electorate, especially women, to transfer their allegiance from Hillary To Kamala as she starts her run for high office, even if only for the Vice-Presidency, in 2020. Colour me suspicious if I believe that that story of her demanding that a male staffer stand for her at the start of the article is a bit contrived.
    OK, I admit that I am prejudiced here with Kamala Harris in that I think that she is really only a younger version of a Hillary Clinton but I have read other people think so to. Thing is, I have read this article twice over and without going into a tedious listing of examples, the whole thing strikes me as being a highly engineered piece of writing and I mean highly engineered. It hits all the bases – gun control, can work with Republicans, co-worked with Bernie Sanders, women’s right, Dreamers, etc. Just my take.

    Hilarious video of the coyote and cat, by the way, which I had a good laugh at. Coyotes can be awesome!

    1. RUKidding

      Didn’t read the article, so I’ll take on faith your summary. Kamala Harris has managed to hoodwink a lot of D voters. I have friends who loooooooove her, but they really can’t articulate why – or at least, give credible reasons why she’s so great.

      Clearly Big D is getting her poised to make the Big Run… as you say, probably Veep in 2020 but then onwards to the White House.


      Cannot stand the current occupant of the White House, but not at all happy with such “contenders” as Kamala Harris or, perish the thought, Corey Booker. Both are just replicants of the odious do-nothing DINO Obama.

    2. Jean

      Harris is loathsome and was ineffectual in her first two political sinecures, district attorney of San Francisco and state attorney general, a more important opportunity to service Wall Street and the Molloch.

      It’s acknowledged that she got her start after law school by being the temporary arm candy of Willie Brown, the machine politician and mayor of San Francisco, he 63, she 29.

      Trump’s treasury secretary Mnuchin donated money to her campaign as a reward for not prosecuting his bank…maybe?


      “Though the state investigators could not subpoena OneWest and were obstructed from obtaining more documents, they extrapolated that a full and unencumbered inquiry would yield at least 5,600 violations of foreclosure sale auctions, and turn up instances of backdating in nearly all of the 35,000 foreclosures OneWest had completed in California from 2009 to 2012”

      If the Mocha Diva is the best the Democrats can nominate, it’s time to walk away from this charade of a political party and form a real progressive and Democratic Party.
      I suggest it be called “The Sunlight Party.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Looking her up just now, and judging by the superficial Hollywood standards of beauty, she looks to belong to the top 1% of that particular brand of pulchritude.

        That shouldn’t hurt either.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Arm candy is polite, but yes, we are not permitted to say otherwise. But let me quote a former CA state official who had a lot of personal dealings with Brown and is normally very very judicious in what he says: “There is no way Willie Brown’s former mistress is becoming the President of the United States.”

    3. Partyless Poster

      Interesting that Dems are always pushing the Bi-partisan “can work with republicans” as a good thing when Republicans never ever talk about working with Dems.
      Where are all these democratic voters that want bi-partisanship?
      I’ve never met one in my life.

      1. Jean

        “One!, singular sensation as the country is sold out….”

        Apologies to Bob Fosse.

        We need a second political party in America.

  25. Croatoan

    I feel for Craig Murry, but even he is slightly stigmatizing because he seems to qualify why he was in the hospital.

    As a Mental Illness Survivor (I use that because why not, for many reasons it is much more difficult to survive mental illness than breast cancer) my novel ideas are frequently viewed first as a delusions of my past illness and given so little credibility that people will not even follow up with research to confirm of deny if what I say is hypothetically valid. This has led to people unconsciously gaslighting me. The internal fight against it has been a life long battle. And I still face the stigma from my family even though several have died from the disorder, so I am even less hopeful that strangers will not do the same. I have been denied housing because of it in the past and even won a discrimination suit because of it.

    I am a dissenter, but it is not my mental illness that causes me to dissent. Rather, my phenotype is the root of both. My non-typical view of the world has a genetic origin, traced back to the Baltic Sea hunter-gatherers some 30,000 years ago. I only wish to live according to my genetics. So I dissent to living in the farmer’s culture, and this dissent is involuntary. The medication they gave me only served the purpose to fit me into that foreign culture.

    So now I dissent openly and seek out other who dissent, becasue I know theses people will be more deeply, genetically, like me.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Way back in the 1960s there was a helpful book that was popular among those of us who weren’t all that sure about what was going on between our ears entitled The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, by the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing. It’s worth a look if you’re still dealing with these issues. I just checked and you can get a copy for less than $4.00 on

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Child abuse imagery found within bitcoin’s blockchain Guardian. Richard Smith: “So you could cripple any ‘coin’ (at least in the UK) by putting a bit of child abuse imagery on its blockchain somewhere. That would be enough prosecution futures to keep our lot happy.”

    The NSA Worked to ‘Track Down’ Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal Intercept (Bill B)

    Has the Cryptocoin Market Met Its Match in the SEC? Wall Street Journal

    Not just the SEC, judging from the top 2 links.

    The NSA and Interpol.

  27. Mel

    The Job Guarantee, MMT, and the article in The Nation:

    “This would be paid for by a 5 percent income tax increase on those making over $200,000 per year. ”

    This is MMT? The article seems to propose an Infrastructure Bank, i.e. not actual jobs, just a financing vehicle. As the commenter above says, it seems to leave the way open for Public/Private Partnerships to take the money and do the hiring.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Why Democrats Should Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee The Nation. UserFriendly: “​Jesus Christ the centrists are all over MMT today! I’ll take it!​”

    I personally prefer Basic Income, and would like to see it included here as well.
    While guarantee work or jobs = production, and not consumption, and yes, we need less consumption, we should remember that production should = consumption. So, less consumption = less production.

    It’s not that you cut down a tree, but if it’s absolutely necessary to cut down a tree, like in many stone-age societies, they will always (or often) make offerings to the said tree, for the sacrifice it is about to make (in order for us to live, under whatever the necessary conditions that prompt them to commit such an act).

    What is involved here is respect, humbleness, and appropriate (and necessary) consuming that involves others to sacrifice themselves.

    So, there is to be less consumption, we will always need less production.

    There can not be ‘let’s produce more, so the jobless have work.’

    It should be that the jobless can partake in the excess food we have grown, without having to cut down more trees.

    1. Jef

      We need to take it a step further. We need to pay people to not consume, not drive, not fly, etc.

      1. JTMcPhee

        It’s an accounting issue: “We”pay ourselves, in the sense of avoiding the consequences of all the externalities “we” help generate by all that consumption. There’s just no “generally accepted accounting practice,” in the Great General Ledger of Trade that rules the World The Way It Is, that allows for, let alone incentivizes, recognition, in any sense of the term, of such values.

        And of course there is zero recognizable “gain,” or loss for that matter, for the matter of dumping such costs on the people, if there are any, off in the future.

    1. a different chris

      That’s… that’s… I am at a loss for words. And I thought I lacked taste and any sense of style.

    2. HotFlash

      Oh yeah! Some decorator made an absolute killing with these folks. Definitely new money, at a guess sports millionaire, or maybe crime.

    3. Doug Hillman

      A ghastly teardown of the rich and shameless. Almost hurled; didn’t make to the cars.

      1. kareninca

        Is it the rich and shameless?? They are asking 550k for it. But it looks like houses in that neighborhood (it is Detroit) go for about 70k. I think it may not be a rich owner; maybe someone with a regular income who has taste we don’t like. 1800 sf., quarter acre lot; I think this is poor-person-shaming; admittedly the 550k price does throw one off at first.

        1. bob

          Shame? What? How could you even begin trying to shame the person who put this together? Ha! Mere Mortal!

          Apparently “the internet” is as taken with it as I am. Context-

          The cars alone should get $550k.

          1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan Rolls Royce Edition

          1974 Lincoln Mark IV Coupe Jaguar Squared

          As soon as you think you’ve found an end to the details – you’re wrong….It will only be shown on sunny days.

          I do wish there were more pictures of those cars.

  29. allan

    Kosovo opposition use tear gas to delay parliament vote on Montenegro border deal [Reuters]

    Kosovo’s opposition on Wednesday held up ratification of a border agreement with Montenegro, which they regard as a sell-out, releasing tear gas at a parliamentary session called to push the deal through.

    Approving the 2015 border deal is a key condition for Kosovo to gain visa-free travel to the European Union, but the opposition party Vetevendosje is adamantly against it, claiming it will wrongly surrender some 8,000 hectares (30 square miles) of Kosovan territory to its neighbor.

    Opposition lawmakers threw tear gas canisters into the chamber to block discussion and a vote, causing deputies to withdraw choking and spluttering. …

    No hashtag #Resistance performance virtue signalling for these guys.

  30. Edward E

    Cute coyote, but think I’m happy with lil’ foxier buddies following me around occasionally and not into the house. The coyote in the antidote has probably the best disposition you’re likely to ever find. Wonder if it’s neutered? This one is a bit different acting.

      1. bassmule

        That’s why videos like this one make me a uncomfortable. The interaction here is just cute as can be, but it is in someone’s living room. They suggest a Disney-esque world where all the animals live in peace and harmony. A coyote in the wild (or in your backyard) is going to turn a cat into lunch every time.

        1. Wukchumni

          Lost a fine cat to a pair of coyotes in L.A. about 20 years ago, unfortunately a very common experience for many living there.

        2. Lee

          In Yellowstone we once observed a coyote and a grizzly cub play for an extended period of time under the watchful eye of Mama bear, who remained relaxed in a sitting position. Our group debated whether or not the coyote was attempting to lure the cub far enough away from mom in order kill it. At last the cub tired, returned to mom and the coyote trotted off.

      2. Edward E

        The coyote is young and could stay oblivious to what nature meant for it to be, if it’s not exposed much. Surely the family will be alert for any changes as he matures. To save him they obviously had to take him from the wilderness.

        Not fond of coyotes, I’ve lost two alpha male beagles and at least one female puppy to coyotes. One other handsome male puppy, Elvis, may have been stolen. Never found any evidence that a coyote got him. I killed the one that got the female puppy. They don’t kill the males for food, appears it’s to eliminate competition.

        Beagles love to roam, they absolutely cannot stand being penned up in a yard. Used to have a pair in a town with a fenced yard and it was a disaster even though I took them out several times a week. A farm and wilderness home is like heaven for a beagle. But I lost one male to a coyote and the other was staying with a friend when attacked. I just won’t get another beagle now, it’s so hard to protect them and painful when they’re gone. I had two live to be 15+ years old and died of old age out of the six that I kept over the years. Scent hounds just have to follow that special nose and need to be super smart to stay out of trouble. Certainly not the coyotes fault…

  31. RUKidding

    Loved the antidotes today.

    Having bush walked a fair bit downunder, I’ve seen my share of Aussie skinks, but never a blue-tongued one. Woot!

    Kitty and coyote video was a hoot. I loved how, towards the end, kitty takes a “time out” to scratch and preen before jumping back into the fray.

    1. Wukchumni

      Having an avowed white supremacist as the GOP choice in the matter, strikes me as highly appropriate.

    2. edmondo

      Exactly. And this is the political party that Bernie Sanders is going to change? If he somehow manages to win the nomination they will bury him.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think Lambert commented last night that he would need his own food taster, not to mention 10 times (or more) Trump’s own private security.

        The one I fear the most is the Swamp’s “Medicare For All is a communist plot,’ and they demand an independent counsel to investigate.te

    3. DJG

      JohnnyGL: Not with a bang but a whimper

      29-31 percent

      Illinois makes voting easy, too.

      I hope no one is going to now give me a lecture on indominable, fearless Americans (and their emotional support animals). There were five people running for the Democratic nomination for governor. And then there are reports of complaining that the ballot is too long. But Stormy Daniels matters! Let’s just surrender now.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Assuming that’s registered voters? So 70 percent of registered voters voted no, no confidence, none of the above. That total is probably in the 90 plus percentiles of eligible voters. The tectonic tsunami of a landslide always ignored. Benefiting the status quo.

      2. JohnnyGL

        Re: low turnout, just a couple of quick points….

        2014 was some kind of ridiculous, massive, generational multi-year low dating back to the Jim Crow era. Progress of a sort, right?!?! :)

        Primary elections are held at seemingly random times by random states on random Tuesdays, and often not well advertised. Part of boosting turnout needs to be about not wasting people time, and not confusing them, and not making them go to the polls a bunch of times.

        Yes, I know states rights and local control, but it seems hard to argue that this wouldn’t be much easier if everyone held primaries at the same time, every time, on a Saturday.

  32. fresno dan

    HICAP update

    So, a little anecdote from Monday’s half day of volunteering. Its a half full/empty story.
    So I feel pretty good because I think I helped this woman save half of what she spends on prescription drugs (and my entire reimbursement is all psychic, as the economists say. Of course, maybe I’m really in the hole due to all the days I can do nothing) – on the other hand its still an outrageous amount, and I wonder how many people are unaware they are paying so much more than need be because the glorious “market’s” incentive is to obfuscate, disguise, and obscure prices.

    So the woman takes 25 drugs (which is another issue) and one of them is Humira, which looking at her hands with rather severe arthritis didn’t surprise me (ASIDE: SO MUCH for this person using the internet or ANY push button technology to research drug prices on her own….)

    Long story short, her drug plan (Part D of original medicare formulary did not include Humira* which was the one reason for the outrageous amount she was spending on prescription drugs. It turns out she should be able to cut her prescription drug bill (if the medicare estimates of drug costs website is even mildly accurate) in half. Not only that, but the alternate plans premiums are less too.

    *its a small world – I was on the FDA preapproval drug inspection team for the first adalimumab. I was also on the preapproval inspections for the other TNF (tumour necrosis factors) which is why I guess I was so interested in this woman taking the drug to begin with. It used to be I could google my name and FDA and find the redacted pre-approval reports to provide documentary evidence for my claim, but I can’t find it. I guess even google no longer has enough storage to keep that blizzard of paperwork.

    1. Louis Fyne

      so the score is muslim nutjob fundamentalists 3,xxx. christian nutjob fundamentalists 100, Bush-Obama-Trump neocon-ism xxx,xxx?

      1. Wukchumni

        Please don’t be calling our beloved Saudi allies, nutjobs. We still need to sell them a gangload of MIC gear, so they can continue to pulverize Yemen.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If they haven’t justified that involvement in Yemen with the AUMF of 2001, I have to believe they will soon.

  33. Rob P

    re: The past 48 hours in rising US-North Korea tensions, explained

    The past 48 hours suggests that the relative period of calm between the United States and North Korea may soon come to an end — and that’s as scary as it sounds.

    Here’s why: On Monday, Washington and Seoul announced they will hold an annual joint military drill next month. The exercise was previously delayed because of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have expected it would not happen ahead of his summit with President Donald Trump. The exercise will certainly annoy him — and may change how he feels about his diplomatic opening.

    This is terrible journalism, even for Vox. According to S Korea, Kim “understands” that the US-S Korea military drills will continue, although they’ve been scaled back somewhat. It’s possible Kim will do something crazy anyway, but to write an article as if these military exercises are a new obstacle to peace talks, or something Kim did not expect to happen, is lazy journalism.

  34. OIFVet

    File under crapification: Norton Security’s latest update requires that the Identity Safe feature for login information migrates to the cloud, the login data can no longer be stored locally. I uninstalled that feature. Trusting cloud storage? Fat chance. Can anyone recommend a good browser password manager that is not cloud-based?

      1. Aumua

        Another vote for Keepass, been using it for years. Integrates nicely into ff as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  35. perpetualWAR

    The article on macular degeneration.

    Very encouraging to hear they have finally begun testing on stem cell fixes. Unfortunately, it was not soon enough for my Mom, who lost her sight because of macular degeneration and subsequently became victim of dementia (the low vision specialists see quite a few cases of blindness in the very elderly bringing on dementia due to disorientation.)

    Very glad for next generation of elderly. Very sad for my Mom.

    1. RUKidding

      Sorry for your mom, but good news, as you say.

      My Dad’s Alzheimer’s got worse once he developed cataracts, unfortunately too late to operate, and his vision was severely impaired. It definitely sped his mental delcine when he couldn’t see very well. Alas.

  36. David

    Sorry to spoil a good story, but the one about the West supporting the creation of ISIS is a lemon.
    First, the context. The document quoted from is an “information report, not finally evaluated intelligence”, and indeed does not seem to be sensitive at all. It has no special access or sensitivity markings on, and seems to have been sent to the world and its dog. “Secret” (probably an over-classification) doesn’t mean very much here. Any document which really talked of western support for the creation of ISIS would be covered with security markings and sent to very few people. Think of it as the equivalent of a research note from an IT supply chain analyst.
    Then the content, which actually says pretty much the opposite what the story suggests The sole link with the West (and almost the sole mention of the West) is to include in the supporters of the Opposition to Assad. This is true, since the West wanted to get rid of Assad and still does, but elsewhere the document makes it clear, firstly that the Opposition is the Free Syrian Army (they call it the Syrian Free Army for some reason) which was at that stage still a collection of mostly Sunni deserters from the Assad forces. It also makes it quite clear that the support from outside was coming from Turkey and the Gulf States, who, it says, were concerned about Shia penetration in the region. These countries are supporting the “Insurgents”, not the Opposition, in creating a Sunni-held pocket in Syria. Finally, should the creation of this “pocket” happen, the document says it would create a “grave danger” for the unity of Iraq. In other words, far from “creating” ISIS, this part of the US government, at least, was very worried about the consequences if something like that should happen.
    It’s perfectly fair to say (I’ve said it myself) that the West was far too late to recognise the influence of Islamic groups in the conflict, willfully overlooked the nature of some of them, and supplied arms which found their way into the hands of Islamic groups. The West also allowed its obsession with getting rid of Assad to lead it into some very strange and unsavory alliances. But stories like this just encourage the kind of conspiracy thinking you hear in the Middle East, where educated people, who you thought to be rational and level-headed, take you by the arm and say quietly “of course, we know that the Arab Spring was planned by the CIA, and that the CIA armed and trained ISIS. After all, if the Americans are not funding them, where did they get all those Toyotas from?”

    1. JTMcPhee

      Very good impeachment. Limit the question to the exhibit, does this document prove the US did it yes-or-no?

      One can do a search for other sources, with and without all those special access and sensitivity markings, that sure leave even a cautious interlocutor a lot of room to conclude that ISIS indeed was, by intent or inadvertence of malevolent incompetence, the Rosemary’s Baby of the complex rotten set of Players on the Imperial Team of the Great Game. Stuff like this:

      1. David

        I think this analysis is a fair one. The real tragedy, I think (if you exclude what happens to locals of course) is that the West is always looking, like some pathetic lost dog, for “moderates” to support, and when it can’t find them, it essentially invents them. There were, and are, secular forces fighting the Assad regime, but they were never very effective and they are getting fewer all the time. If I had a dollar/pound/euro for every time, since the end of the Cold War, that I have heard a western leader or decision-maker talk about “supporting moderates”, well, I’d have a lot of currency in my pocket.

        1. JTMcPhee

          I do not credit the stuff about ‘the West looking for moderates.” Pretty clear from wha this publicly available that “the moderates” are not and have not been any such thing. And the spooks and jackals are well aware of that, yet fund and arm and “train” them (as if they are maybe obedient attack dogs? Who demonstrably most often “get off the leash,” often after suckering and even killing their trainers and “handlers” and “special operatives.” And getting the idiot Imperial Troops to shoot a Hellfire into the house of, or conduct a “wet operation” on, a local political rival and his family and relations.

          Not sure what your background and experience is, but “the West,” to the extent that is any kind of real category, has, via its various agencies and embassies and armies, been busily destabilizing and undermining and corrupting nations and tribes left, right and center for centuries.

          And the CIA players, for one, ever since Wild Bill Donovan and the Dulles Boys, do it 24/7, and even brag about it, and do not care if mopes know they do it, because that only increases the power they have, via Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and related mechanisms of control, to threaten or compel the rest of the planet to “say Uncle.”

          There’s nothing pathetic or lost-doggish about the Sneaky Petes who are so out of control, these days, that once again, different “agencies” are employing their “agency” (the other definition) to “support” opposing bunches of “moderates” and “less moderates.” And let me graft in a definition from the War Department’s Very Own Dictionary of Military And Associated Terms, the word bein “insurgency:” insurgency — The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. (JP 3-24) This definition applies, as far as I can see, to all the activities of “the West” in other areas formerly thought of in International Law context as “sovereign nations,” one of those quaint-isms that going back at least to Eisenhower has been ever less referred to, let alone observed. And if you care to read back through earlier versions of the DoD Dictionary, you can see how the War Department’s best minds have struggled to come up with a definition “supporting the mission,” whatever that is (other than Full Spectrum Dominance Global Hegemony?) that does not also indict what Our Troops and Spooks are busily doing all over the planet “in our names,” as I write this.

          Yaas, real tragedy “if you exclude what happens to the locals.” But then that’s the substance of the argument, is it not? “We Are Exceptional!” For some definition of “we,” that seems to refer exclusively to the servants of a conglomeration of supranational corporate “entities” pursuing their wet dream of “globalized ‘Free trade’”…

          1. David

            I’m thinking really of the political level, where I have a lot of experience, and where people do delude themselves that there are “moderates” to be found everywhere. Sad really.

  37. Alex

    Re Russian elections, I was an observer at the previous elections which were very similar both from choice of candidates and procedure point of view. The process of voting was fair at my polling station and Putin got 50% (it was in Moscow which has always been more skeptical about Putin) and the second guy got ~20-30%. This by the way does not mean that it was fair everywhere: Russia is big and there are plenty of places, like Chechnya, which had ~90% turnout and ~90% Putin support.

    The key thing is that the *elections* consist not only of voting but also of many other things and they were far from fair. In terms of media time, Putin was shown 100s of times more than all the other candidates taken together (he also has never participated in the debates). The real opposition leaders are on the other hand actively ignored by the main tv channels. The opposition faced a lot of hurdles, for example Alexey Navalny hasn’t been able to register a party, each time they found a new excuse to deny his request.

    1. Alex

      Also a lot of people were told to go and vote unless… Teachers, students, state-owned companies employees etc. This is something that I heard from my friends/relatives. Also, by some strange coincidence, the turnout and Putin share are very high in places like army bases, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. See for example УИК 148 in Astrakhan in a hospital: turnout >90% and Putin share 87%

      1. JTMcPhee

        Too bad Democrats aren’t so good at turning out the voters any more, like they used to be in my younger days in Chicago (and other major cities). In Chicago, the blacks forced by Daley and successors out of decent neighborhoods and into the projects were given to understand their duty if they wanted to continue in residence. For how it worked, try reading a fascinating and entertaining book by Mike Royko: “Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago,” Note that dissenters like Royko were “tolerated” in part because they helped (inadvertently maybe) bolster the myths and power structures that Daley and his Regime operated.

        Kudos for the Rooskies for working it well enough to maintain that gloss of legitimacy, and apparently keeping the corruption down to a level that the peeps are willing to tolerate… short of another 1917 moment… The “mechanisms of control” are getting ever more sophisticated and functional in our Great Republic…

    2. integer

      The fact that Navalny is portrayed as some kind of hero by Western corporate media should tell anyone with even a basic understanding of global geopolitical dynamics all they need to know about what he was really offering to the Russian people.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Take the day off and go down to their equivalent of Wall Street and protest there.

  38. Oregoncharles

    In case it isn’t already posted: the Austin bombings suspect was identified. blew himself up, and died. From this morning’s news.

    1. HotFlash

      Some do. And to be fair, Lambert has posted links to some excellent articles from (… wait for it) Teen Vogue. Good content is where you find it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would have disguised the order as ‘Voting for her makes your skin healthier.’

    3. adrena

      I never have and never will read traditional women’s magazines. I find them condescending and patronizing.

    1. HotFlash

      Oh, family blog. Remedies, schmedies, I say that the EU just got rolled or are covering up.

  39. allan

    Where’s the high-speed internet? NY fines Charter over slow rollout [D&C]

    The state Public Service Commission is seeking to fine Charter Communications for not meeting its scheduled expansion of its high-speed internet service across New York.

    The commission Monday said it is seeking $1 million from Charter, the parent company for Spectrum, which was formerly Time Warner Cable.

    The commission claimed Charter didn’t meet the terms of its agreement with the state to expand its broadband network in the time allotted, which was part of Charter’s deal with the state when it acquired Time Warner Cable in 2016. …

    The PSC also said it is opening an investigation into Charter’s compliance with its New York City franchise agreements. …

    Hard to believe, I know. Although, to be fair to Charter, why should they be held
    to a higher standard of compliance to regulatory agreements than, say, HSBC?

  40. Plenue

    >Shock and Awe revisited, as fighting drags on in Syria’s Ghouta

    Looking at the daily battle maps, the fighting has died down, other than the occasional airstrike. The SAA has taken all of the countryside and carved the pocket up into three smaller kessels, all of which are dense city terrain. They’ve halted in the hopes of getting the militants to agree to evacuate to Idlib. That the ‘merciless’ SAA has halted their ground advance partly to avoid massive civilian casualties, and is giving its enemies a chance to be relocated to another theater, of course goes completely unmentioned amidst the #SaveGhouta propaganda.

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