Links 3/22/18

Dear patient readers,

Even though my connectivity woes are temporarily in remission, I am behind due to that plus work on longer-term stuff that may or may not pan out. I owe you a post or two on trade…

A big win for our Richard Smith, who writes:

Bonkers pretext, but an unexpectedly nuclear result, so who’s griping? Before the victory dance, let’s see if this survives pushback from the serious private equity boys.

However, he notes that the other side was not putting up much of a fight even before the RussiaRussia angle came into play.

Have You Herd? Farmer Writes A Memoo Using Cows And Satellite Imagery NPR (David L). Reminiscent of the LED sheep, which we feature at the end of this post.

Biodiversity Scientist Warns: “We’re Sleepwalking Into a Mass Extinction” Inverse (David L). “Into”? It’s already well underway.

An Alien Star Nudged Our Solar System 70,000 Years Ago And We’re Still Seeing The Effects Science Alert (Kevin W)

Bitcoin Could Become Illegal Almost Everywhere, After Shocking Discovery in The Blockchain Science Alert (David L)

World’s Media Bungled Twin Astronauts Study So Bad That NASA Had to Step In The Wire (J-LS)


‘Stalking’ fear on Aadhaar The Telegraph (India, J-LS)

The diamond tycoon behind India’s alleged US$2 billion fraud South China Morning Post. J-LS: “A decent summary of the current state of play of the crisis that’s roiling India. Pass the popcorn.”


EU leaders accused of not protecting citizens’ rights in Brexit deal Guardian. This appears to be one of the few places where the EU made a concession to the UK by failing to nail down the issue. Note the deal has not been approved by the European Council. This had initially been deemed to be so important that citizens rights plus the Brexit tab were the first two items to be sorted out (then Ireland was elevated to the same level). No idea if they will demand that this be tidied up.

Brexiteers furious as Franco-Dutch company poised to win contract to make iconic blue British passport Telegraph. Help me.

New Cold War

Russian Government Cyber Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors US-CERT (EM)

May battles to shore up EU support over Russia Financial Times

Boris Johnson says Vladimir Putin will use World Cup like Hitler used Olympics to bolster image abc. (Kevin W). BoJo needs to bone up on his history. The 1936 Olympics didn’t work out as planned for Hitler because Jesse Owens won four gold medals plus Olympics headlines competed with stories about the German churches protesting Nazism.

Results of Longitudinal in France Regarding Allies’ Relative Contributions to WWII Victory over Germany PBS. Chuck L: “Over the years I’ve seen estimates ranging from 70% to 93% as the proportion of German battle deaths inflicted by the USSR during World War II. German record keeping degenerated during the last weeks of the war.”

Massive Attack on This Blog Craig Murray (Chuck L)


Fifteen Years Ago, America Destroyed My Country New York Times. UserFriendly: “​How on earth did this get past the neocons ar NYT?​” Moi: They have to do this sort of thing once in a great while to maintain the appearance of fairness. Plus even though Bush is being rehabilitated by the Dems, this was his war and back in the day before Paul Krugman was captured by pod people, he really stuck his neck out on Iraq (albeit not in the Judy Miller phase). So the Grey Lady can have it both ways.

Legacy of the Iraq War Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi accepts prison term plea deal Guardian

The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War With Iran American Conservative (Chuck L)

Tariff Tantrum

Trump to Announce $50 Billion in China Tariffs, Sources Say Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Mueller Investigated Sessions for Perjury on Russia Statements Bloomberg

Can the trans-Atlantic relationship survive Donald Trump? DW

Stranger Than Fiction Steve Almond, The Baffler. Chuck L:

This story, and its story within a story, really is amazing. From near the end, after the last of the excerpts:

I pitched the book to editors as a picaresque aimed at skewering “a world of instantaneous hype and commodification.” Their concerns centered on two issues: plausibility and likability. Nobody, I was told, would ever vote for a guy like Bucky. And nobody would root for a character like him. Bucky couldn’t just be an assembly of appetites and bilious insights. He needed to have a soul, or at least something like it.

And so I began to second guess my hero. Or rather, I began to encumber him. I handed him a young son to parent (while on tour) and an estranged daughter who was, in early drafts, kidnapped by Somali pirates, and later morphed into a recovering addict. Bucky became more “sympathetic” but in the process—and there’s a cruel lesson here, for those not afraid to see it—he became less authentic.

Alas, I began to fall out of love with Bucky. I’d conceived of him as an outgrowth of our civic dysfunction. But there was a part of me that adored his antics. He was a creature energized by his id: anarchic, shameless, joyful in his repudiation of liberal guilt. Another way of saying this would be that I’d created Bucky to give life to my own repressed fantasies. Then I’d strangled the life out of him, using my superego as the murder weapon.

Bernie Sanders: Russia and Stormy Daniels distract us from real problem of inequality Guardian. MSM acknowledgment of the online town hall earlier this week.

Most Riders Removed From Omnibus, A Win for the Public Public Citizen

Austin bombing suspect blows himself up with swat team closing in Guardian

Facebook Fracas

Under Fire and Losing Trust, Facebook Plays the Victim and Zuckerberg’s Response Doesn’t ‘Cut It,’ Facebook’s Critics Say Bloomberg

Advertisers threaten to pull out of Facebook over Cambridge Analytica The Times

What’s genius for Obama is scandal when it comes to Trump The Hill (UserFriendly). Important.

India will put Facebook in the dock if needed: Ravi Shankar Prasad Economic Times of India (J-LS)

Facebook whistle-blower Christopher Wylie says company not taking enough action on data concerns Globe and Mail. Mario B highlights this part, noting, “Those dastardly Russians work even from London, UK!”:

Mr. Wylie, who grew up in Victoria and later moved to London, became interested in studying how personality traits could be used in political campaigns while working with the Liberal Democrats. That work brought him into contact in 2013 with Mr. Nix, who was running a London-based company called SCL Group whose clients were mainly military-related.

“When I was there, one of the bread-and-butter things of the company … was rumour campaigns and undermining people’s confidence in civic institutions so that they don’t trust the results,” he said, referring to SCL.

Here is how to delete Facebook TechCrunch (Arizona Slim). But see this:

Keep in mind, Facebook still likely has access to a good deal of your data long after you’ve deleted your account. Plus, Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram . So if you really want to stop feeding data into the Facebook machine, you likely need to go ahead and delete those apps as well.

So basically all you have stopped is FB nagging you to reactive the account.

Facebook can still track you even if you delete your account — here’s how to stop it Business Insider (Chuck L). But note caveat at the very end.

Uber’s Killer Car

Video Shows Uber Robot Car Rammed Into Pedestrian Wall Street Journal. Key section:

A newly released video of the fatal accident involving a pedestrian and an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving car appears to show the vehicle heading straight into a woman walking her bike across the road without slowing down or swerving to avoid her.

The video, collected by Tempe, Ariz., police from cameras inside and outside the Uber vehicle, appears to also show the human safety operator at the wheel was looking down for approximately five seconds until the moment of impact. This person’s role is to take over controls to help prevent accidents or erratic driving from the robot vehicle.

Uber Video Shows the Kind of Crash Self-Driving Cars Are Made to Avoid Wired (Kevin W). Per above, drive not looking when the car is about to go into a big intersection???? So he thinks he’s there only to intervene

We linked to an article from Spengler at Asia Times yesterday which showed a picture of the intersection. It is one of those ginormous intersections that are inherently dangerous for pedestrians to cross. Basically, anyone who does that is relying on drivers to see them and give them a berth.

Kill Me Now

Theresa May could be the Churchill of our time Politico

The Bezzle

Elon Musk could make more than $50 billion from pay plan shareholders approved…but he has a lot to deliver CNBC (J-LS)

Cor sues NY for $567,000 the state won’t pay because of pending criminal case Bob: “The bigger one is at the bottom of the link:

In the previous lawsuit, Cor sued in October 2017 to evict Fort Schuyler from the film hub, arguing that the state failed to either buy the property or pay rent under a ground lease. State officials in December paid $2.9 million to settle the case — $1.2 million to buy the parcel and $1.7 million to settle the lease.

Retirees Reshape Where Americans Live Wall Street Journal

The Perfect Oil Field Oily Stuff (Joe Costello). He extracts this section, emphasis his:

The Burgan field in Kuwait has produced something in the order of 32.5G BO. Development has required a minimal number of very low maintenance wells (estimate 573 wells).

Since 2009 the US has spent over $700B($230B debt) of upstream capital to drill and complete 81,600 shale oil wells. Total LTO recovery to date is 8G BO. 32 billion barrels of oil – 573 wells vs 8 billion barrels of oil and 81000 wells

Costello adds:

So every time you hear the US is is new Saudi of oil, it’s total BS, shale is at least $100 barrel oil, its always been there, the reason it wasn’t drilled is because it was expensive, at least $5 at the pump expensive. So what ever you’re paying for gas, between that and $5 is subsidized by debt.

Powell’s Fed Debut Shows Shift Away From Theory, Models Bloomberg

Class Warfare

UN asks Samsung to explain reports of worker ‘intimidation’ Financial Times

‘Whistleblowers need society support to work’ The Times of India (J-LS)

Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney on creating believable digital humans Venture Beat. Kevin W: “Holy Fuck! Watch the demo video!”

Massive support to the strike at the Amazon macro warehouse in Madrid El Pias (Igancio: “But in Spanish”)

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence R):

And a bonus from Richard Smith: “Clearly a ringer.”

Speaking of border collies:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. JacobiteInTraining

    Heh. Whats old is new again – I know a lot of people under 40 pooh-pooh the idea of shedding digital things for the analog, even the mechanical, but my bet is that the neo-luddite trend will only accelerate. Many trends look unstoppable, until the stop. Hows that saying go…I went bankrupt slowly,then all of the sudden?

    With the US – and world – govts at all levels doing everything in their power to surveill and collect *everything*, and companies tripping over themselves to digitally monetize and track *everything*, more and more people are realizing the only way to win is not to play the game…when the deck is stacked againt you, deal yourself out, and make up your OWN game:

    As they say in Fight Club – Her name was Elaine Herzberg!

    1. nycTerrierist

      via the twitter:

      Koen Van Spaendonck‏ @KoenraadVS1 Mar 21

      Replying to @computerfact @skdh

      2025 Bestseller : ‘Living offline for dummies’

  2. David

    Something to brighten your day perhaps – ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been effectively charged over accusations of Libyan financing of his 2007 election campaign. There’s a good summary (for once) in the Torygraph and for those who read French, masses of coverage in the French media, such as Le Monde. The charges are in technical language but relate essentially to “passive corruption, illegal financing of an election campaign, and mishandling (“recel”) of funds belonging to the Libyan state.” In themselves, the charges are serious (the first such charges against a French head of state) but relate essentially to campaign financing, so will not necessarily go to the highest courts. But the really interesting question is what light will be shed on the whole period of Sarkozy/Ghadafi relations between 2004 (when Sarkozy was Interior Minister) and the bombing of Libya in 2011.

    Sarkozy has already reacted violently. His defence against the charges (leaked to Le Figaro, owned by Serge Dassault, one of his biggest financial supporters and maker of the Rafale aircraft, first marketed to Libya and then used to bomb it) is that this was all a Libyan conspiracy to ensure that he lost the 2012 election. He’s already facing charges over the financing of that election.

    Sarkozy has been released from custody and will apparently be appearing on TV tonight (!) to give his side of the story.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think you are right, there is a big untold story about the connections between Ghaddafi and European leaders, the French in particular. I would really like to know what he did to ensure they were so anxious to silence him in the end after so many years of having his back. With luck this will come out in a trial. Mind you, with what Sarkozy knows, one wonders whether enough powerful people will want to silence him one way or another, he is a thoroughly nasty piece of work who would sell his grandmother if it would benefit him. The French electorate do seem to have a penchant for pint sized narcissists.

      Incidentally, a book published back in the late 1980’s (suppressed through legal reasons) alleged that Ghaddafi originally came to power after the intervention of a major US oil multinational – he apparently promised that he would nationalise European assets, but not those associated with that company. The executive in charge later became Secretary of State under Reagan – who then tried to kill Ghaddafi, but only killed his infant daughter instead. The book was passed around like a samizdat publication among junior employees of that company, I recall one showing me a much thumbed version as if it was a bomb – he actually whispered as he showed it to me. I regret not making a note of its name or author.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        You are right to highlight Colonel K / G’s links to European leaders. Blair is the obvious one, but Italy (Craxi, Berlu et al) should not be overlooked, either.

        Libyan investments in and deposits at UniCredit in 2008 saved the Italian government and Eurozone (including my basket case German employer) a helluva lot of bother. There’s a link to Ireland as much of the hanky panky and losses incurred were at the Dublin Branch. Jonathan Sugarman has spoken about that and been silenced.

        There have been suspicions that the Blair investment funds (sic, authorised by a friend and former colleague who was a UK regulator and now regulates in the Gulf) have Libyan and other dodgy investors.

        One can see why the Colonel was on borrowed time, especially when his plans for Africa were publicised.

        1. Wukchumni

          TPTB try so hard to act as if all that glitters doesn’t matter anymore, but just about every country save Germany, that has decided to take theirs back from another country holding it for them has had a series of unfortunate events happen to them.

          1. Synapsid


            Speaking of Germany and glitter, it was Deutsche Bank some years ago that discovered that some of their bullion store was gold-plated tungsten, not gold.

            That’s how I learned that gold and tungsten have the same density. Always a silver lining.

            1. Wukchumni

              I have no way of knowing, but i’d suspect most every 400 oz bar sitting in Manhattan and/or Fort Knox, has been given the switcheroo.

              Once you start down the road to robbery as Wall*Street has done, what’s another crime in the scheme of things?

            2. The Rev Kev

              It should be also mentioned that at least tens of thousands of these tungsten “bricks” were manufactured in the US but am not sure if this was in the 80s or 90s.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        In defense of the French electorate, who you felt necessary to malign with “do seem to have a penchant for pint sized narcissists”, the last 6 American presidents are 6’2″ Trump, 6’1″ Obama, 6’0″ Bush 43, 6’2″ Clinton, 6’2″, 6’0″ Bush 41, and 6’1″ (Reagan). Jimmy Carter was the last president that I’d entertain the idea of not being a complete narcissist. He is 5’10”.

        Here in America, we grow our narcissists bigger!

        P.S. Don’t let it shatter a fun preconception that happens to not be true, but Napoleon was above average height for the 1700s

        Without the French, the American Revolution fails. Just sayin’.

    2. Colonel Smithers

      Merci pour les bonnes nouvelles, David. J’ai rate les infos francophones ce matin.

      You are right to highlight the role of the Dassault family.

      I would add the role of Martin Bouygues. He’s godfather to Sarko’s youngest son and one of the big shareholders of the eponymous conglomerate. The Bouygues group’s construction, public works and telecom arms would have cleaned up the juicy contracts to rebuild Libya and the follow-up privatisations / looting of public assets, the bog standard neo-con and neo-liberal recipe.

      Brice Hortefeux, one of the Sarko associates questioned by investigators in this affair, is godfather to Sarko’s middle son, the one married to a Darty heiress.

      How do you see this going? Some of Macron’s backers are also Sarko backers, so they may want the affair covered up.

      I am going to Paris soon, for the reopening of Longchamp racecourse, and looking forward to hearing from friends who are Republicain activists in the 16eme.

      1. David

        Good point about Martin Bouygues, who among other things was awarded a (non-competitive) contract by Sarko to build the new “French Pentagon” for the Ministry of Defence.
        Sarko is a busted flush now from the political perspective, having failed even to get into the first stage of the last Presidential election. His support is pretty thin, and the party he led is in deep trouble and may split. It’s really what he knows that matters, and it’s clear that there are forces that would prefer that none of it came out. The problem is that there are four or five figures, politicians, intermediaries, bag carriers and others, who are also under investigation, and, in all probability, dozens more who know at least part of the story, and have no reason to help the poison dwarf. You can’t keep a story as big and complex as this one under control forever, but it’ll be fascinating to see the way it comes out.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, David.

          Speaking of the new French Pentagon, Sarko awarded the main IT contract for the French armed forces to Microsoft. The signatory to the contract was not Microsoft France, but the Irish off-shore arm. The national security and tax implications of that contract have been raised by the MSM.

          Bouygues is now sniffing around the UK and Mauritius. Sarko did some of their lobbying. ATOS Origin’s UK lobbying was done by Macron.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Legacy of the Iraq War Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

    I know this is familiar ground to most NC’ers who don’t need convincing, but Taibbi is such a brilliant writer he convinces you all over again.

    Trump is just too stupid to use the antiseptic terminology we once thought we had to cook up to cloak our barbarism. He says “torture” instead of “enhanced interrogation” because he can’t remember what the difference is supposed to be. Which is understandable. Fifteen years is a long time for a rotting brain to keep up a pretense.

    We flatter ourselves that Trump is an aberration. He isn’t. He’s a depraved, cowardly, above-the-law bully, just like the country we’ve allowed ourselves to become in the last fifteen years.

    That we now deserve him as president is a consequence of the final lesson of the Iraq debacle: We lost that war. Not militarily maybe, but in the sense that we so completely dismantled what was left of our civil society in prosecution of it that, looking back, a battlefield loss would surely have been preferable.

    Wherever he is now, as eels perhaps slither through his eye-holes, Osama bin Laden has to be laughing. He had to know all along that only Americans were capable of destroying America. But he couldn’t have dreamed we’d do it so fast.

    1. DJG

      Thanks, PlutoniumKun. Today’s must read. The war has come home to the U S of A, though, in the form of declining life expectancy and the opioid epidemic. The Democratic Party has no plans–no interest whatsoever–in ending the endless war.

      Note the mention of Clapper, indicative of “our friends” in the intelligence community.

      Bacevich’s essay calls this the “no-name” war. But looting and pillaging are the no-name wars, because they aren’t war. They are societies that have evolved to sack the neighbors and worship deformed gods who bless the sacks and murders. Throw in climate-change denial, and you now have the United States as the most dangerous nation on earth, consumed with self-congratulations, its temper tantrums, and its declining republican structures. I’d venture that this is one reason why the only amendment in the Bill of Rights that now matters is the Second.

      1. Jim Haygood

        A decade and a half later, [US] authorities no longer need to ask anyone permission to do anything. They’ve created in the interim an entirely separate, secret set of rules giving them the right to kill, imprison, torture, or spy on anyone.” — Matt Taibbi

        Which goes to show that the events of September 2001 were a de facto coup d’etat, and that our secret government lacks any constitutional legitimacy.

        Citizens owe no duty of loyalty to an illegitimate usurper government.

        1. beth

          This is the type of essay that Taibbi excels at. He is the master of getting to the core of a situation and inspiring us as we see what we already know.

          It’s as if the cataracts have finally been removed.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From the article:

          Other secret bureaucracies formed. As the War on Terror expanded from Afghanistan to Iraq and outward to places like Yemen and Syria and God knows where else, American authorities began to tell us that the most significant new threats actually came from within our own borders.

          From the AUMF 2001:

          (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

          Those persons and organizations are reported to be in Syria and Yemen, among other places.

          A couple of days ago, we read that Congress tried, unsuccessfully, to end our involvement in Yemen. Why only there, when persons and organizations listed in the 2001 AUMF are there, and not, say, Syria as well?

          1. Anon

            In general, the AUMF of 2001, is the worst piece of legislation ever, by the US Congress.

            But it does give “cover” to the unstated, long-running goals of Amerika that Taibbi discusses.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Yes, it gave the military, the CIA and contractors cover to go to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and many other places.

              But why did some senators only want to end involvement in Yemen?

              1. marym

                The resolution was to end involvement in the Saudi conflict with the Houthis. Not covered by the AUMF

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  From one of yesterday’s links:

                  The United States Senate killed a resolution introduced by Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican Senator Mike Lee to withdraw U.S. military support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

                  That would be ‘to end US involvement in Yemen?’

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    I think this is the part that is in dispute:

                    The House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution by a vote of 366-30 last November that declared U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen was not authorized under the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force passed after 9/11.

                    In February, the acting general counsel for the Pentagon, William S. Castle, sent lawmakers a letter claiming U.S. support did not constitute “hostilities” since American forces are not on the ground exchanging fire with Houthi rebels. It additionally claimed Trump had the power to make war regardless of whether Congress sought to end U.S. military involvement or not.

                    The generals think the 2001 AUMF is so broad it is applicable.

                    We can ask the same question of our involvement in Syria, for example, as well.

                    The follow up question is, then, why we don’t end our involvement in Syria as well.

                    1. Procopius

                      Well, we only have 2,000 to 4,000 special operatives plus maybe 1,000 Marines on the ground in Syria, plus 100 or so air sorties a day, so the Pentagon, but especially the CIA doesn’t want to lose that “camel’s nose inside the tent.” According to neoconservative strategy, as outlined in PNAC (the Project for a New American Century) we need permanent bases in Iraq and Syria. Also, too, to have a place to build up for invading Iran.

        3. wilroncanada

          Alfred McCoy writes about this idea, that what a country does to terrorize and take over another nation will in turn be used on its own citizens eventually. He was using as his example the US takeover of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. Methods of surveillance, terror and replacement of decency with mayhem are not forgotten, just reused with different names. Call it “homeland security.”

    2. Carolinian

      One could point out that during the primaries the “depraved bully” Trump called invading Iraq “the single worst decision ever made.” Perhaps Taibbi should direct his moral indignation fire at depraved bully Hillary Clinton who actually voted for the Iraq war. That, of course, would get him in trouble.

      One doesn’t have to admire or like Trump to find lazy virtue signaling via invoking the monster’s name to be tiresome. For example Paul Street in Counterpunch never lets a column go by without doing this.

      1. waywardad

        Or, one could consider that mammon-Trump, who has no moral rudder, has an innate ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth and his arse (where his brain appears to reside beside the filet-o-fish shart stains in his tighty-whities) and is a proven narcissist and pathological liar? Who gives a shart about HRC in our present danger (well maybe the shills like Hannity, Carlson, Limbaugh, et al and the mindless followers of Fox News do)? Prior Trump hyperbole has no value, so why quote him in this context? As President, and not as a primary candidate, he has previously consulted with and is reportedly considering appointing the Warmonger of Warmongers John Bolton as his NSC Advisor. Actually, it’s the “but Obama, but the DNC, but HRC” meme that is getting tiresome and pointless in our current affairs, other than understanding their historical role in perpetuating the continuation of the War State that we have been since, like, whenever.

        No doubt, complicity in our warmongering ways runs deep in our banana republic, but maybe Taibbi understands that quoting worthless hyperbolic speech from a man who lacks dignity and trustworthiness, well, just isn’t worth quoting?

        1. Carolinian

          When Trump does something as depraved as starting the Iraq war then Taibbi will be perfectly justified in describing him as emblematic of our country’s indifference to the mahem we create. You can’t say that Trump’s antiwar statements mean nothing but his pro war statements mean everything.

          Only actions count, not words. And in that department Trump is still a mere poseur compared to Michelle hug-ee G.W. Bush with his Iraq holocaust. Even the horrors now going on in Yemen were something started by Obama.

          And if actions matter more than words then Hillary was vastly worse than Trump going by Libya, Syria, Honduras etc. She was the other choice after all, and may be gearing up to try it again.

          Trump is quite good at creating hysteria among the left. People need to calm down.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Agree. Calm down, and recognize the Dems for what they are, it’s simple to point out that the snarling corporo-fascists from Cheney to Trump are precisely what they appear to be, it’s another thing altogether to point out that there is no opposition to them. Why? Why do we have Trump? Answer: because of the Democratic party, their people, their actions, and their policies.

          2. marym


            2017 was the deadliest year for civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, with as many as 6,000 people killed in strikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition, according to the watchdog group Airwars.

            That is an increase of more than 200 percent over the previous year.

            It is far more if you add in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and many others.

                1. Science Officer Smirnoff

                  Cornered rat syndrome & Bolton as yes-man/rat (and part instigator) what long imagined hell looms?

            1. Carolinian

              Surged because of the “liberation” of Mosul and Raqqa from Isis, that thing spawned by Bush and Obama. The US went in and carpet bombed and shelled with huge civilian loss of life. Should this be blamed primarily on Trump? Arguing with statistics can be tricky.

          3. Procopius

            Even the horrors now going on in Yemen were something started by Obama.

            Yes, this is usually forgotten. It started earlier, but the first incident I made note of was the destruction of the village al Ma’jalah, on December 17, 2009, by BLGM-109D submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles (possibly only one) loaded with BLU-97A/B cluster munitions, which are probably still killing people living in that area. Then there was the Star Chamber murder of Anwar al-Awlaki without presentation of evidence or chance to defend self. I am not ready to concede that Trump is worse just because he’s less attractive.

      2. Anon

        Umm, Trumps denigrating the Iraq War decision doesn’t obviate him being a “depraved bully”. He, likely, denigrated the war because he had positioned himself as the outsider candidate; smarter than the dumb-asses who started the war. (Typical narcissism from a candidate who clearly stated he supported the Iraq War when it started.)

        Anybody who cavalierly threatens nuclear war/strike is clearly a depraved bully. (See: North Korea)

    3. Adam Eran

      I’d only disagree with that “last 15 years” remark. Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders. The Monroe Doctrine essentially says “Sorry Europe, these are our colonies now.”

      Anyway, the Chomsky interview NC cites lays a lot of that last 15 years limitation to rest.

    4. Bob Kavanagh

      Might the US beware of this statement from the NYT’s article: ‘Many of the Iraqis we spoke to on that day were upset with institutionalization of an ethno-sectarian quota system.’

  4. fresno dan

    Video Shows Uber Robot Car Rammed Into Pedestrian Wall Street Journal. Key section:

    If self driving systems couldn’t see that woman, than there is something profoundly wrong with the systems.
    And having a human driver who is in the driver’s seat essentially as attentive and paying the same amount of attention as someone actually driving kinda negates any advantages of self driving systems.

    Would a human driver have hit the woman? – its hard to tell from the video, but I think at least a reasonably attentive human driver would have slammed on the breaks prior to impact – I don’t know if that would have mitigated the impact force enough so that the woman would have survived.

    But what is most disturbing is there seems that the whole attitude from officialdom is that this is just a minor glitch. Don’t people have eyes – that pedestrian was easy to see….

    But you know, since the first car there has been an attitude to accommodate the cars and inconvenience and endanger the pedestrians.

    1. Louis Fyne

      and presumably the designers-engineers-bean counters thought that using traditional infrared [heat] detectors as a failsafe for lidar was quaint or too expensive or threw out too many false positives

      That woman would be lit up as bright as day on infrared cameras.

      1. Adam1

        Agreed. And I can’t imagine feeling safe in a car like that with just one type of sensor. What happens if you go through a construction site and splash mud on the camera or as with where I live it snows and a potential wet snow builds up on the camera? Does the car just come to a stop? That would be useless. You need a back-up that uses a separate technology so that the probability of both failing is near zero.

    2. lakecabs

      The Uber car had headlights. The way the camera was set up in the car made it seem she came out of nowhere. She had to be visible for quite a while.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        She also crossed near one of the few points on that stretch of road with overhead streetlights on both sides of the road — which must have provided more illumination than the video would lead one to believe.

      2. Chris

        Were the contrast and brightness settings on the footage modified before it was released, to make the unfortunate woman less visible? Asking for a conspiracy theorist friend…

    3. PlutoniumKun

      In the 1920’s and 30’s, the automobile industry dealt with pedestrian deaths by lobbying politicians to criminalise normal behaviour, like crossing the public highway (i.e. ‘jay-walking’). No doubt with self driving cars, we’ll be told its pedestrians fault if they do things like not behaving like the algorithms assumed human beings behave. I suspect that the fact that this woman was wheeling a bike with shopping bags on the handlebars confused the system on the car. The reaction will be to criminalise/delegitimize behaviour like this one way or another.

      1. Wukchumni

        About 7 years ago the Hells Angels booked pretty much an entire motel here for a weekend, maybe 196 of them descended upon town, and a Hells Angel that might’ve been a 24 year old hellion in 1967, and was now closing in on Medicare entitlements, really didn’t seem like much of a threat, but the coppers were taking no chances, and in response, there must’ve been 197 of them from every police department in the area lurking around in a show of force that really wasn’t necessary.

        A few gang members received jaywalking tickets-which is hilarious, in that the nearest set of stop lights is 20 miles away, ha!

    4. Lemmy Caution

      The Asia Times article makes a profound error when it says:

      “A glance at the intersection where Uber’s vehicle killed Ms. Herzberg tells the whole story.”

      Ms. Herzberg was killed several hundred feet south of the intersection pictured in the article. She was crossing from the north-east leg of the brick-paved pathway in the center median, from west to east, at a point near overhead streetlights on both sides of northbound North Mill Ave.

    5. Arizona Slim

      Here in AZ, advocates for walking and cycling refer to those ultra-wide streets as traffic sewers.

    6. Katniss Everdeen

      In the video on Wired, you can see her white shoes moving at 2 seconds, she gets hit at 4 seconds. The left lane is empty. While a driver might not have avoided hitting her entirely, there is plenty of time and space to swerve left, which would have been the first human instinct along with slamming the brakes. No unimpaired human would just continue plowing straight ahead. In fact, she’s partially across the car’s lane at 3 seconds, and moving fairly quickly in the opposite direction from the instinctive swerve. On becoming aware of the swerving vehicle, she may have dropped the bike and jumped out of the way.

      As an aside, “safe following distance” is considered to be 2 – 3 seconds, depending on speed and conditions, presumably because a human driver can be expected to react in that amount of time. As I said, the accident may not have been avoided entirely, but it may not have been fatal.

      The “safety driver” is looking down and to the right, exactly as, I would imagine, a right-handed person who is texting while driving would be doing.

      Agree with Wired–exactly the kind of accident self-driving cars are intended to avoid.

    7. Henry Moon Pie

      When self-driving vehicles are offered for sale to the public, I predict that they will not be these cute little subcompacts that are being used in live testing now. They will be Hummer-like with extra armor all around and an old-fashioned “cow catcher” like those used on steam locomotives. The manufacturers will want them to appear safe to potential purchasers, so they will be built to protect the safety of those inside while crunching and throwing to the side whatever they hit.

      One question I have related to poor Ms. Herzberg’s death: what would a robot car do in the event it struck someone and there was no backup human on board? From the behavior of the Uber car, the plan seems to be that they will commit hit and run.

      1. Altandmain

        At the high end, they are likely to be in luxury cars first. Think Mercedes S class or Cadillac Escalade

    8. djrichard


      There was no other traffic around, and nothing to obstruct the sensors’ view of Herzberg. The Volvo XC90s that Uber is using for development are equipped with cameras, radar and lidar sensors. The radar and lidar are capable of “seeing” their surroundings in complete darkness and should have easily detected Herzberg’s presence in the roadway anywhere from 150 feet to 300 feet away or more depending on the types of sensors that Uber is using.

      I was only curious on this bit, so didn’t read the rest of the article. So the lede may be of interest too.

    9. Altandmain

      This is a total failure of the LiDAR and imaging systems which should have been able to detect an incoming human.

      The exception of course is if your self driving car system doesn’t have a LiDAR system. HINT Tesla’s autopilot does not:

      An Infrared backup would also have lit up a human. It seems to me that this technology is super immature.

      Another big issue is the design of the road. There are very few crosswalks. The whole design of the road system screws over pedestrians and bicyclists.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        RE: The failure of the Lidar system to detect Ms. Herzberg

        When a traditional, driver-operated vehicle has a mechanical malfunction that causes or contributes to an accident, fault is usually apportioned to one or more of the following: the driver (for failing to correct a known issue); the mechanic (for failure to diagnose or correct an issue) or the manufacturer (for producing a defective product).
        Which is why it seems odd in this case that the police have been so quick to declare that Uber probably isn’t at fault in this case. The Lidar system that Uber installed failed. Its failure caused the vehicle to hit and kill a person. How can Uber not be at fault?

        1. Jean

          Maybe people will be required to have a chip inserted in them as part of their right to use public streets. At their own expense of course and defense contractors will profit, just like they do now to give people transportation cards to drive trucks and boats.
          Think of the tracking abilities.

    10. whine country

      “Don’t people have eyes – that pedestrian was easy to see…” – Of course people have eyes but your statement made me curious why you raise the question as to the vehicle and not the victim. I watched the video several times carefully and, while it is not absolutely clear, my eyes did not see the victim ever look at the car. Indeed, it appeared to me at impact she was still unaware of the vehicle. Maybe my viewpoint is unpopular but are we to believe that our laws provide that the victim can be blameless when crossing a road at night and not even looking for vehicular traffic?

    11. Procopius

      Reminds me of a (possibly apocryphal) anecdote I saw somewhere: In 1905 there were two automobiles in the entire state of Arizona. They managed to run into each other.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Makes sense. Gallipoli looks suspiciously like it was planned and executed by Theresa May, and there is not that much of a difference between gassing Iraqis and cluster-bombing Yemenis.

      1. Carolinian

        Winston also hated the Russkies so another point of congruence. He tolerated Stalin while “Uncle Joe” was doing most of the work of defeating Hitler.

      2. Chris

        I once read (can’t remember where) that Gallipoli was intended as a quid pro quo for the oil company shares that Churchill received as a “thank you” for converting the British fleet from steaming coal to bunker oil…

  5. Jim Haygood

    Night of the living dead social media: overnight I got an email from MySpace with the title “Sarah connected to you.” “Your MySpace profile is getting some attention,” it continues.

    All lies: maybe I logged on to MySpace fifteen years ago to check out the site of a local band. Never did I have a profile there.

    “To stop receiving this type of notification, update your settings [at this link],” it goes on. Yeah right … log on to show them my old email is still valid … no thanks.

    As of 2016, MySpace is owned by Time Inc says Wikipedia. But Facebook’s meltdown isn’t going to bring back MySpace, when they’re both based on the same putrid business model of personal data theft, phony spam referrals, and opaque privacy settings. #DeleteFacebook #DeleteMySpace

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Now, I’m a little wary about logging on Facebook (to get a new password, in order to delete my account).

      Should I let the sleeping dog lie?

      1. beth

        MyLess, I suspect so, since I have never put up a FB page, and yet they have my email addresses simply because I logged onto someone else’s site. The more you connect to FB, the more recent records they have for you.

  6. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Clicked through Craig Murray’s blog to bigger story on the parent company of Cambridge Analytica:

    We finally have the most concrete evidence yet of shadowy actors using dirty tricks in order to rig elections. But these characters aren’t operating from Moscow intelligence bunkers.

    Instead, they are British, Eton educated, headquartered in the city of London and have close ties to Her Majesty’s government.


    1. apberusdisvet

      That’s why the incessant propaganda demonizing Russia is getting oh so old to anyone with an IQ above room temperature.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Yes, but a bell curve chart would show that mandate-sized majorities exist on the wrong side of that line. And they know it.

    2. 3.14e-9

      Great article, addresses U.S.State Department connection. Can’t remember where I first read that Cambridge Analytica’s parent company had a contract with the State Department, but have been waiting for more details to emerge. This is a good start.

      The description of the company’s role in Ukraine reminded me about a State Department program called TechCamp, launched under Secretary Clinton, that supposedly was teaching young people in Ukraine and other target countries how to use social media to become “citizen journalists.” There’s a video somewhere (I’ll try to find it) of a member of the Ukraine parliament warning that TechCamp was a cover for organizing protests against the Yanukovich government. He made that speech the day before the first protesters arrived at Independence Square in Kiev in what became known as Euromaidan. (Who can forget the images of Victoria Nuland passing out cookies, or the infamous “F— the EU” phone call with Ambassador Pyatt?)

      Once you start going down that path, connecting the dots becomes a full-time job.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Here’s the link. I think it’s in Russian, as I vaguely recall seeing a version in which the translation included demands by other members that he speak in Ukrainian. Undoubtedly there are NC readers who know. In any case, there’s a translation below the video.

        In short, the speaker says there’s clear evidence that the U.S. Embassy in Kiev is directly participating in preparations for a civil war in Ukraine, and that a TechCamp the previous week trained specialists in information warfare to discredit Ukraine government institutions using modern media. From the transcript:

        American instructors explained how social networks and Internet technologies … can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion … as well as to activate protest potential … to provoke violent unrest on the territory of Ukraine.

        The speaker asks for an investigation by the Parliament.

        I wonder if they used Facebook.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Ever notice in news reports, that when they talk with foreigners and they want to put a pro-western slant on it, they use pretty young girls but if they are not, then they talk to women in their fifties and sixties? Case in point. Remember the “I am Ukrainian” ( video back in 2014? Millions saw it. And that is how you package propaganda.
          In case anybody wondered what happened to her, last I heard “In July 2015 Mikheil Saakashvili, Governor of Odessa, announced that Yulia Marushevska accepted a job as Deputy Head of the Odessa Regional State Administration. According to Mikheil Saakashvili Yulia Marushevska had previously spent a year of training at Harvard and Stanford universities”. A year later she got the boot for corruption.

          1. 3.14e-9

            She got the boot for corruption? That’s rich:


            Strange, though, that the author of that Politico hit piece, an Atlantic Council fellow, fails to mention that Saakashvili met with Obama and Biden at the White House in January 2012, and that he was paying the Podesta Group to lobby for him in Washington.


            Sounds like Yulia was lucky to get out when she did.

  7. Kukulkan

    Regarding the Results of Longitudinal in France Regarding Allies’ Relative Contributions to WWII Victory over Germany

    I can’t help but be reminded of this video illustrating the death toll — military and civilian — of the various participants in World War II. When it gets to showing the casualties of Germany and the Soviet Union, the columns on the chart just shoot up by an order of magnitude.

    The Fallen of World War II

    I think the May 1945 results are the closest to the reality. The ones since just show how effective American war movies and other forms of cultural persuasion can be.

    1. vlade

      The problem with this is that USSR was in the early years extremely profilgate with the lives of its soldiers. Majority of USSR casualties happened in 1941 and 42, and even that was highly concentrated around the invasion and the unsucessfull USSR offensives in early 42 (there was actually a third period, battle of Berlin, but that was driven by the USSR generals fighting who would take the price first at the cost of the lives of their men).

      This, amongst the others, led the “human wave” myth of USSR fighting – which is just that, a myth. My favourite here is say operation Bagration, where USSR attacked pre-prepared defenses, with 1.5:1 advantage (the initial advantage was higher, close to 4:1, but overall the battle was then spread across large areas), and had something like 2:1 losses. Compare to say IwoJima, where US had 5:1 advantage, and took about 1.5:1 losses.

      The reality is that the USSR army became very capital intensive in 43 and onwards, as the manpower become much more scarce even for USSR.

      And, that capital intensivness could not have happened w/o Lend-Lease. Not so much tanks and planes, but the basics of materiel – ammunition, copper, TNT, cars (Studbakers were what the Soviet army run on), spam etc.

      Also,LL helped to free a lot of USSR manpower to the front (yes, I know about how women and children made the tanks.. but they still could not arm and feed the army by their own).

      So, the realistic – and most serious WW2 historians that have no skin on either side, agree on that – is that w/o USSR fighting, and US supplying the goods, the war would have looked otherwise. It’s _possible_ USSR would have won anyways w/o LL, and it’s _possible_ US would have won even with USSR going out of the fight. But both outcomes are not given by a long stretch.

      So, a simple message really is – they had to work together to succeed, and if they did not, chances are we would have a diffeernt world than we have now. Call it 50:50 split between USSR and USA, and I think you won’t be far off (of course, in terms of human sacrifice the story is elsewhere, but then your’d be really looking at Belorus, not USSR, if you want to talk human sacrifices of WW2).

      While the UK can claim a few important contributions to the war, it’s really dubious whether it would, in the end, achieve more than a few single-digit contributions. Yes, Enigma was important – but not war-winning. Yes, serving as Landing Strip One/Staging Area One was important, but again.. US convoys could have run to Murmansk from Island, and arguably that could have been safer than from the UK (as that put them close to Norway’s airfields). Lots of heroics on the UK’s side, but not a critical war-effort contribution I’d say.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        America’s contribution to the war is like Canada’s on D-Day.

        Significant, needed, heroic, not to be forgotten.

        And also not even close to half the lifting.

        20 million civilian, 7 million military. Officially. Russia won the war, America and England helped, and Canada, Australia, and New Zealand got their hands dirty and deserve to be mentioned.

        1. vlade

          If you insist on counting the war contribution by country’s dead, then you’d split your winners between China and USSR, as China lost pretty much as many people as USSR did. The “official” count might be lower (as much as by half), but that tends to ignore the inability to get any good numbers out of China at the time, and the real count is likely to be well north of 20m. Especially if you take into account that for Chinese, WW2 really started in early 1930s, half a decade before the rest of the world gave a toss.

          Or, just because of majority of these were uneducated chinese peasants, it doesn’t count compared to heroic Soviets?

          People tend to not even know (so I won’t dignify by by saying “forget”), that India lost >2m people, current Indonesia (then Dutch East Indies)>4m, Phillipines >1m and French Indochina (principally current day Vietnam) > 1.5m over WW2. Only Poland (@5m people), lost more with the exception of the principal combatants of Germany/Japan/USSR.

          1. steelyman

            No, it’s got nothing to do with an overall body count. It has to do with the established historical fact that over 70% of the Wehrmacht casualties in WW2 were inflicted by the Russian armed forces.

            Lend lease was important – it wasn’t the most important factor. One of the key reasons that the Russians won the battles in the East wasn’t just based on superior numbers. They had some of the best generals of the war on their side. They often out fought their German opponents and the German WW2 generals fighting on the eastern Front were no slouches themselves.

            Back to lend lease and hardware: please note the T34, one of the key weapons in the Russian victory, was made in USSR not the USA.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I think that’s a fair assessment, there are too many ‘ifs’ in the war to make a definitive judgement. The gigantic Soviet loss of life was of course at least partly due to the reality that most of the war took place on their soil.

        Another issue though is the quality of the armies facing each other. The Germans devoted their very best units to the Eastern Front, as they had little or no choice. The Allies did make quite a meal out of the Battle of Italy and the assault across Europe despite facing relatively few elite units – most of the defending German army was fairly second rate and poorly equipped by comparison to the units on the Eastern Front. Its hard to see how D-Day and the subsequent offensives would have succeeded if they’d faced the top German divisions with a full complement of Tigers and Panthers.

        Of course, the other side is that the Soviets were no help at all to the US in the Pacific or in China, when they could have made a significant difference if they’d seriously pressed the Japanese in Manchuria and China or attempted sea assaults on closer Japanese islands.

        I think it was the historian Norman Davies who has argued that there wasn’t a single war 1939-1945, there were two separate major wars – the US/Japanese battle for the Pacific and the Soviet/Nazi battle for control of the heart of Europe – along with a series of relatively minor overlapping regional conflicts (including the campaigns in Western Europe and North Africa), which extended from the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931) to the end of the Malayan Emergency around 1960.

        1. Wukchumni

          For a slice of the action on the eastern front whilst in the Wehrmacht, I highly recommend ‘The Forgotten Soldier” by Guy Sajer, a Frenchman of Alsatian descent.

        2. David

          Yes, it’s hard to compare death and destruction on one hand and industrial production on the other. I think the general judgement of historians today is that, after the Wehrmacht failed to bring the Red Army down in a few months (some would say October, some December 1941) they had basically lost, because they didn’t have access to the raw materials they needed. After that, the Russians were bound to win eventually, but without the equipment supplied by the US, it would have taken quite a bit longer.
          But the sheer scale of the war, and the losses, were frightening. Richard Overy quotes the statistic that 85% of all the young men born between 1920 and 1922 were killed or wounded in the War. Since not all were in military service, that means just about everybody.
          Incidentally, for those (like me) fascinated by this subject, I’d warmly recommend Chris Bellamy’s “Absolute War”, published recently, which broadly echoes the kind of comments vlade was making, and demonstrates that one reason the Russians won was because the Red Army learned very fast from its defeats, and by the end of the war was at least as good a fighting machine as the Wehrmacht (Bagration, for example). .

          1. vlade

            Whether Germany would have lost or won after end of 41 depends very much on what the USA was doing. If USA was doing nothing, Germany would still have a fighting chance – by then it controlled Donbas with its ore and coal reserves, and wheat from Ukraine. The problem wasn’t by then so much resources as exploiting them, where Germans for ideological reasons couldn’t do it efficiently (as in it was slave labour or pure Germans – first inefficient, second lacking).

            W/o LL, USSR would have real trouble organising Uranus and Saturn, as logistics of that were extremely trying – huge amounts of men and materiel to be moved in trying conditions. That means that battle of Staligrad might have been lost, instead of won – or at least not won so conclusively (by destruction of the 6th army). Same goes for Citadel/Kursk later in 43.

            That said, as you say, one of the main things in WW2 is that Stalin was willing to learn and have Red Army to apply the learned (I’d not call it fast, it took Stalin until early 43 to internalise the problems from early 42), while Hitler wasn’t, and thought it was divine providence acting through him, in good or bad.

            But you had the same with US Army, when they got whipped badly at Kasserine, which British fully expected, given the US Army unwilingness to learn from their (British) experience fighting Axis. It took all the way to Normandy to start learning those lessons, and one can say that the earliest they put them in practice was really Battle of the Bulge, which was a wee bit late.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              It seems most of the militaries took at least a year to organise themselves to fight properly. The Germans learned a lot in the Spanish Civil War and in invading Poland. The Japanese in their long vicious war in China/Manchuria. The French never got a chance to learn their lesson. The US had the luxury of strategic depth so, as you say, could learn from Kasserine and from its early Pacific disasters. Britain had less strategic depth, but still had the Channel as a buffer so its loss in France wasn’t a complete catastrophe. From what I know, its still something of a mystery as to why the Russians put up such a weak fight early in the invasion, I’ve seen all sorts of explanations. But they did learn fast – they’d also learned a little from their successful clashes with the Japanese on the Mongolian border (the Japanese learned from that not to pick a fight with the Soviets).

        3. a different chris

          >when they could have made a significant difference if they’d seriously pressed the Japanese in Manchuria and China or attempted sea assaults on closer Japanese islands.

          Hmmm but isn’t that exactly what the US didn’t want? Anyway those ideas take resources, and it’s hard to pull troops away from your own front, even when you have “turned the tide” so to speak.

          1. Jessica

            Actually, Roosevelt begged Stalin to fight in the Far East. Stalin promised that the Soviets would attack Japan 90 days after whenever the Germans surrendered. The Soviets did so, to the day. The Japanese surrendered a day or two later.
            Most of the Japanese military was in China, unable to get back to Japan because the US controlled the sea and air. So the Soviet contribution in the Far East was meaningful even if quite late in the game.
            This is also why Korea was split in two.

            1. steelyman

              There is an important lecture by US military historian Ltc (ret) David Glantz on the Soviet invasion of Manchuria aka August Storm and the military operations it conducted against the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces .

              The link is at:
              The Soviet-German War, 1941-1945: Myths and Realities – YouTube —

              There is also a book by Glantz still available on Amazon called August Storm.

              Glantz’s conclusion – the Soviet army was capable of conducting large scale military operations of massive scale and breathtaking intensity and that it pretty much destroyed the Japanese military in Manchuria within a couple of weeks.

              This view supports my notion that it wasn’t lend lease, “human waves”, cavalier treatment of enlisted men, “brutal Commies” or whatever anti-Russian Soviet meme the West can come up with, but superior strategic, tactical and logistical skill (especially after 1943) that led to Russian victory against the Nazis and their allies.

        4. steelyman

          If the purpose of war is the destruction of your opponents armies then in Europe that goal was attained primarily by the efforts of the Russians/USSR armies. Some of that success can be attributed to the materiel supplied by Lend Lease but the latter tends to be largely overrated by pro-Western historians.

          Re Vlade below, by the time of the great tank battles of Kursk, the Russian army was defeating the Germans with mechanized divisions fully fitted out with T34 tanks not the US Sherman via Lend Lease, a truly second rate main battle tank despite the efforts of Brad Pitt and the Hollywood establishment to convince us otherwise. In fact, the T34 already appears on the Eastern Front in sizeable numbers as early as the Battle of Brody in 1941 and gave the German tank commanders a very nasty surprise!

          Can’t recall the model numbers offhand but I strongly suspect the Russian air armies that controlled the battlefield air space by 1942-43 were also outfitted with Russian made planes.

      3. Jessica

        Crudely paraphrasing the opening scene from the movie Patton, the contribution the Soviet Union made is not measured by the number of Soviets who died for their country, but by the number of Germans they made die for theirs.
        I don’t have the numbers right at hand, but by that measure too, most of WW2 in Europe was on the Eastern Front.
        The Lend Lease program was crucial earlier on, while the Soviets were just holding on. When the big, ultimately victorious counter-attacks came, it was the Soviet production itself that made the difference. Amazing numbers of military equipment. A lot (but not all) low quality, but such quantities. Not a human wave but a machine wave.

        1. Etherpuppet

          Materiel was definitely a growing problem for German beginning in ’42 and beyond, contributing to the machine wave you mention. This primarily compares armored vehicles in the latter half of the war.
          Later German tanks (Panther, Tiger, etc.) were troublesome, mechanically, for several reasons. There was often a shortage of spare parts. Engines/transmissions were insufficient for tank weight and broke down often. Training of repair/service depot personnel was sub-par. Additionally, several later tank designs were complex and not really suited for easy maintenance. Additionally, tanks that broke down in the field were less recoverable in the latter part of the war, as the Germans were retreating. When you are retreating, your broken-but-fixable vehicles are overrun and captured by the enemy advance before you can recover them. More tanks were lost due to mechanical issues than through enemy action.

          Contrast this to the Allies, while using potentially inferior or average tanks, who had stacks of spare parts, a logistics system that delivered reasonably well, and vehicles that were generally easier to service.

  8. Wukchumni

    Woke up this morning listening to the river raging as I lounged in the hot tub, like it was in full spring meltoff mode, as the pineapple express storm seems to have melted off most snow from 9k on down in a classic example of an atmospheric river on high. The radar shows 1/2 of the state about to get pummeled, and the fire nozzle seems aimed in particular @ the Thomas Fire burn area, where there will be heavy flooding and movement of mud.

  9. Jim Haygood

    From the abc news story about the FBI and Mueller investigating Sessions:

    McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources told ABC News.

    During his confirmation in January 2017, Sessions told the Senate committee that he had not been in contact with anyone connected to the Russian government about the 2016 election. [Later] the attorney general acknowledged he had met the Russian ambassador twice during the presidential campaign, but insisted none of those interactions were “to discuss issues of the campaign.”

    McCabe authorized the criminal inquiry after a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter in March 2017 to the FBI urging agents to investigate “all contacts” Sessions may have had with Russians, and “whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred.”

    Congressional committees have full authority to investigate alleged perjury and to issue a criminal referral to the Justice Dept if the committee determines that perjury occurred.

    But the committee did no such thing. Senator Leahy is not even the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary committee — that would be Dianne Feinstein.

    It seems to be a rather cheeky violation of protocol for the FBI to start investigating the attorney general based on a letter from a couple of Senators. But it’s emblematic of the lengths to which the intel/FBI shadow government is prepared to go in pursuit of its own agenda.

    An observer from Mars might also discern some disparate treatment concerning the FBI’s treatment of candidate Hillary Clinton — who mishandled classified material and destroyed documents demanded by Congress — versus Sessions who seems to have done some awkward lawyerly parsing of the facts. Bill Clinton, the acknowledged master, coulda helped Jeff with that. :-)

    1. Carolinian

      C’mon he “did not inhale” or “have sex with that woman.” What’s shifty about that?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s quite unprecedented, at least for me, to see a president, let along the incoming (then), sitting (now) one, being investigated for collusion with an officially undeclared enemy, and treason, and his attorney general tailed by his subordinates, cops in the FBI, among other unprecedented acts, right before us.

      Of course, we were forewarned by someone, perhaps a member from that side – Schumer, about six ways from Sunday they can get to the Swamp Drainer (or would be Swamp Drainer).

      Does he have enough say, among them, to tell them to lay off his friend, Sanders?

      Does he not have enough pull, but with enough knowledge of how things work, that he tipped off Sanders on where not to go with Our Revolution? That would have made it ‘You can go this way, but not way revolution.’

  10. PlutoniumKun

    The Perfect Oil Field Oily Stuff (Joe Costello).

    The Middle East was blessed/cursed with the most perfect geology possible for oil. Not just the oil structures itself, but the convenient protected sea to allow its easy transport worldwide. Nothing else comes close in the world.

    Even if and when the Big One, the Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia, starts depleting, it will still be producing huge amounts of oil at a price a fraction of US Tight Oil, Canadian tar sands, or Brazilian off-shore. More than enough for the world to use if we had sensible transport policies (and sensible pricing for such a precious product).

    The influx of debt fuelled fracked tight oil has created an enormous distortion in the market, delaying the essential transition away from liquid fuels, and will only leave us a legacy of massive malinvestment. Its ironic that environmentalists are really trying to save oil investors from themselves, a ban on fracking and oil sand extraction and off-shore in sensitive environments would not cripple the world economy, it would allow it to maintain itself sustainably. Capitalism eats itself, and us while its at it.

      1. a different chris

        Oh that is a comical link. “Pats little Stevie Hawking on the head, ‘Don’t worry about stuff you don’t understand, son’ Everything will be fine. This time, for sure!”.

    1. Expat

      Shale has me confused. I don’t follow it as closely as I should but I also suspect that getting to the truth is difficult. Shale was uneconomical at today’s prices not so long ago with a few exceptions. The producers were shackled with billions upon billions of debt. Now we have inched back above sixty after a long spell below and are being told all is well and production will soar. I don’t buy it.

      When I read about production costs for shale and the price of WTI, I cringe. Quality differentials aside, shale simple costs a fortune to get to the buyer. Bakken costs a minimum of $10 a barrel to rail to the coast. This does not include local shipping to the train racks. I don’t think $100 is the break-even, but I also don’t think it’s $65 considering none of this included the financing costs.

      If oil drops again, and OPEC does not control things despite the press (OPEC is looking good because of Iraq, Nigeria and Libya, all of who are underproducing for reasons unrelated to OPEC quotas), Wall Street is going to have to get bailed out of the oil patch.

      I need to look into this some more. If anyone can point me to some good sources on the costs of shale production, I would be thankful.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Tight shale is “economic” given one important input factor: free money.
        So I suggest you start your research with one A. Greenspan, then a Mr. B. Bernanke, followed by a certain J. Yellen.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The costs of shale oil production are something of a mystery to everyone. Plenty of producers claim to be profitable anywhere between $40-60 a barrel, but I really don’t know if they achieve those figures by discounting past investment and transport costs. I think a lot of producers fudge average and marginal costs when they make their claims. There is though little doubt that they have succeeded in reducing the costs very significantly from around 2010, when they probably needed well in excess of $80 to be in any sort of profit.

    2. Gaianne


      The Ghawar oil field has been in gentle decline for over a decade–since 2005. All the recent machinations of Saudi policy and politics arise out of this fact.

      No, this will never be in the media. But plenty of petroleum geologists have posted about it. And Matt Simmons, a petroleum banker, wrote a book accurately predicting it back in 2004 called “Twilight in the Desert”.


      1. Expat

        I was in Saudi two years ago talking to the Aramco management. They said the IPO would go forward but they did not understand how since they really did not think the top management and the royal family could or would release the reserve figures. Saudi has had a very large percentage of the worlds exploration wells over the past decade, not something one does if,as they claim, Ghawar could be opened up wide and pump out another 3 to 5 million bpd.

        Aramco should have IPO’d at $130 but, of course, they did not think they needed to up there. Now at 60 they are desperate. Oil is not dead, but it is fading. Fifteen years ago, even at 40, Saudi probably could have IPO’d without releasing confirmed reserves. But the future of oil is short. There are some really big events coming up.

        2020 IMO switch to 0.5% bunkers is killing HSFO and therefore heavy sour crudes. There are not enough resid crackers to soak up the excess and runs will have to be cut or switched to lighter, sweeter crudes.

        Europe is moving toward banning gasoline and diesel, the latter altogether. While there will be a switch to gasoline, it is not the answer to oil’s prayers. A paradigm shift is on the way for public and private transportation. This is 15 to 30 year stuff, not 23rd century.

        hmm, I think I will go out and dump my own oil shares.

  11. yan

    Re: “Epic Games with Sweeney”
    This is straight out of Neal Stephenson’s “The Age of Diamond”.

    1. CalypsoFacto

      From the link:

      This is the actress that was our subject – we made a digital clone of her — the actress we’re going to use at the Vicon booth to drive the character’s digital body. She’s from Manchester, close to Cubic Motion. She’s able to drive this completely different character, all live in real time. You’ll be able to go by the Vicon booth and see her, Alexis is her name, and ask her questions, take a camera and film her, and it’ll be a completely different person talking to you. This all runs at 60fps on an Nvidia—I think we’re using a 1080Ti.

      Yes, this is the ‘ractor’ process described in The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson! From the book:

      As soon as she had saved up her ucus, she made the long-dreamed-of trip to the mod parlor, strode in with her jawline riding high as the hull of a clipper ship above a black turtleneck, looking very like a ractor, and asked for the Jodie. That turned a few heads in the waiting room. From there on it was all very good, madam, and please make yourself comfortable here and would you like tea, madam. It was the first time since she and her mother had left home that anyone had offered her tea, instead of ordering her to make some, and she knew perfectly well it would be the last time for several years, even if she got lucky.

      The tat machine worked on her for sixteen hours; they dripped Valium into her arm so she wouldn’t whine. Most tats nowadays went on like a slap on the back. “You sure you want the skull?” “Yeah, I’m sure.” “Positive?” “Positive.” “Okay—” and SPLAT there was the skull, dripping blood and lymph, blasted through your epidermis with a wave of pressure that nearly knocked you out of the chair. But a dermal grid was a whole different thing, and a Jodie was top of the line, it had a hundred times as many ‘sites as the lo-res grid sported by many a porn starlet, something like ten thousand of them in the face alone. The grossest part was when the machine reached down her throat to plant a trail of nanophones from her vocal cords all the way up to her gums. She closed her eyes for that one.

      Stephenson, Neal (2003-08-26). The Diamond Age (Bantam Spectra Book) (p. 87).

  12. Tom Stone

    A shout out to Comcast who added $39.95 to my monthly ( Basic) bill for “Additional Services and equipment”.
    Nope, no additional services, no additional equipment.
    They have a monopoly here, I’ll spend a few hours trying to reach Customer Service and then likely bend over and take it like a citizen.

    1. integer

      “Additional services and equipment” is probably a euphemism for “more hookers and luxury yachts for the C-suite”

    2. Louis Fyne

      I also am satisfied with Comcast internet.

      I emailed a compliment to customer service after my cable internet was installed about the ease and professionalism of the installation team. comcast replaced not-maintained ATT DSL that failed during every hard rain.

      I received a stock email profusely apologizing about my “complaint”

      so i guess i lucked out and it’s a case of 6 of one or 1/2 dozen of the other.

      1. Jean

        My dealings with the ladies in the Philippines have been pleasant and productive.
        Do buy your own modem and router to avoid the rental charges and remember, like mattresses, there’s always a sale on at Comcast and they’ll give you a year at about half of what they charge those who don’t bother to ask. Same with credit card late fees.

  13. RenoDino


    Now I’m starting to feel sorry for M.Z. In exchange for his right to strip mine your data, he gives you a big, juicy social media platform for free. It’s a great deal and 68% of the American public have signed on the pixelated line.

    Because it is a free service, anyone who signs up is not a customer but the product to be sold to advertisers and data researchers. Selling stuff is not where the real money is made on the internet. The real money is made in customer acquisition. Facebook and Google are the world champions of delivering boxloads of customers ready to buy whatever an advertiser is selling. Their reward is extraordinary profits unburdened by the actual retail exchange of goods and services.

    Zuck must be fuming that no good deed goes unpunished. Hence his measured response. He is now being blamed–along with Putin–for costing Hillary the election and electing Trump. For a libber like Zuck that really must suck.

    This all could be avoided if he banned advertising from his platform, guaranteed complete privacy, and charged for the service. Instead of two billion users, he would have maybe 50 million, but he would be sleeping like a much poorer baby at night.

  14. Ignacio

    Border Collies are my favourite dogs.

    UK pulled into talks with Spain and EU about Gibraltar status after Brexit.

    As recently as Tuesday senior EU officials said “concerned member countries” – which later turned out to be Spain – were refusing to back the agreement in preparatory meetings for the summit.

    By Wednesday evening diplomats were indicating that the Spanish government had relented on the issue, but on the condition that the 27 EU member states include Gibraltar high up on the list of issues they say must be resolved.

    “The European Council calls for intensified efforts on the remaining withdrawal issues as well as issues related to the territorial application of the Withdrawal Agreement, notably as regards Gibraltar, and reiterates that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,”

    Apparently Davis said that the transition agreement covers Gibraltar but not. Spain says that it doesn’t.

    Gibraltar’s future at stake in Brexit negotiations

    This suggests that unless Britain is willing to let its citizens on “the rock” be subject to an inferior economic future than those in the UK, the EU has in effect handed the Spanish government a veto on Britain’s entire future relationship with the bloc.

    A senior UK source with knowledge of EU negotiations said the clause was extraordinary because it effectively signalled a lack of total British sovereignty over Gibraltar. It gave Spain a greater say over the future of Gibraltar than the British government was likely to be willing to accept, the source said.

    Another senior UK source with knowledge of both the EU and Whitehall said the government was not surprised to see the reference to Gibraltar in the document because it would have been a key demand from Spain, but suggested it was ominous.

    On the Spanish side, Esteban González Pons, the vice-chair of the European People’s party, told El País newspaper that May’s failure to mention Gibraltar in the letter on Wednesday was “very relevant”, adding that the omission was “because Gibraltar isn’t part of the United Kingdom; it’s a colony like the island of St Helena”.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Ah but ‘taking back control’. Its a pity nobody told the Brexiters that they had handed over an effective veto over numerous areas of domestic policy to any EU country with an axe to grind.

      Its taken its time, but it was always predictable that at some stage of the negotiations the political problems would shift from the UK and Brussels, to any individual EU country with specific trade or other issues. The Spanish were always likely to be one of those countries, not just because of Gibraltar, but also fishing and health (i.e. paying for British retirees) interests. But there are numerous other potential problems that can and will arise, especially when the UK starts trying to negotiate its own trade deals while maintaining some sort of open trade links with the EU.

      1. Ignacio

        To my knowledge, so far, the UK must reach an agreement with Ireland and with Spain before the definitive agreement with the EU. Will May be able to handle it?

        1. vlade

          You mean roll over when the finall call comes? She has managed it so far.

          I now do wonder whether the hard-core Brexisters aren’t just full of hot air, but will allow May to roll over on anything of importance – which will give them an axe to grind for years to come, as the UK staggers from one “vasal” state to another (state as in quantum state, not as a sovereign state).

          We know they are like the dogs who hate to catch the car, so now they are working pretty hard to get it going again so that they can have a good life barking at it.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            If I’m to understand from Goves statements, the message to the hard Brexiters has been ‘keep the eye on the prize’ – in other words, swallow a bad transition deal, in exchange for a cleaner break in 2020. I’m actually surprised at how quiet they’ve been, which leads me to think that the Brexit paymasters are content with this compromise. They probably at some level know that there isn’t enough time to prevent Brexit collapsing into chaos, so they will see this as buying time so that they can cut the cords with the EU when they see fit.

            1. vlade

              Oh, but they are saying that a clean break is possible now – and TBH, how can be a total break any cleaner in two years time than now?

              I can see why EU wants a transition – it want to give the companies as much time to move out of the UK (IIRC, I saw somewhere that every seventh EU company is now moving it’s supply chain entirely out of the UK, give it two years and it will be closer to a half at least). But for Brexiters who think they would get the WTO option (whatever that would actually mean), no transition is needed.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          If any hard border is avoided during the transition period, the Irish government will sign up to it – Varadkar seems to be aiming for an election in late this year or early next year, so all he cares about is ensuring no border issues for the next 24 months. His relatively good handling of the issue has been very popular in Ireland so he will be trying to ride that wave of relative success. He has been having a series of personal meetings with Merkel and Macron, and no doubt he’s been working hard at keeping Ireland ‘in the loop’.

        3. Ignacio

          What Spain wants to gain?

          Spain is asking for joint sovereignity in Gibraltar (at least the airport) which Gibraltar authorities reject. Spain also wants some kind of agreement on the fiscal situation in Gibraltar (may be allowing Gibraltar to keep some privileges). Whatever UK-Spain agree, Gibraltar is going to loose many of these privileges they have enjoyed as a EU member.

          1. RabidGandhi

            Joint sovereignty? “No prime minister could ever agree to that.” [*ducks*]

            Oh and PS, since the UK now has the sovereignty cheque book open, there’s this issue about some islands in the South Atlantic we’d like to discuss…

            1. Ignacio

              Be sure that regarding the airport Gibraltar has a lot to loose if it no longer belongs to the “EU-open skies”. Co-sovereignity has been replaced by co-management lately.

      2. Oregoncharles

        We don’t know what a competent or committed Brexit negotiation would have been like. Wasn’t May a Remainer until after the vote? She probably still is.

        A committed approach to Brexit would have focused on autarky from the start. The line to the public would have been: “it’s going to cost us something, so all hands on deck” – Churchillian, if possible. The whole intent would have been to minimize EU leverage, and therefore the importance of the Irish or Spanish vetoes. And a back-channel negotiation with Ireland – there still isn’t any real solution to that one without a customs border in the Irish Sea. That’s why NI voted against Brexit. Gibraltar has been besieged before. The huge financial overage in the City they had no way to keep, nor is it really beneficial, but it would have taken at least a Corbyn to say so and act accordingly.

        Instead, Britain got exactly what you’d expect from people who don’t believe in what they’re doing, nor in the alternatives that could exist.

        Personally, and from a long way away, I think they had it right with the Common Market and made a huge mistake in trying to turn it into a single country. In the process, they forfeit the administrative and political advantages of small countries and create all the difficulties of a hodge-podge. Plus, they built it around neo-liberalism, so when that fails the whole concept fails. In the bigger picture, Britain might have been smart to bail and go back to the Common Market stage – if that were what they did.

    2. makedoanmend

      But isn’t this a preferable outcome from the EU negotiating standpoint, i.e. having European countries make objections to various clauses of the interim agreement rather than having had the UK being able to pit EU countries against each other over various issues?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There may well be an element of thinking in Brussels that they don’t want to be seen as the party who drove the hardest bargain. In other words, if, say, Spain vetoed the agreement, Barnier, etc., can say ‘well, we did our best, but the EU is a democracy, we can’t stop them doing that’. Ultimately, nobody really wants to be the one who is seen as having the knife in their hand at the crucial moment.

        1. Anonymous2

          I reckon the EU plan is to place the knife in the UK’s hand so that it is seen to be the country responsible for a crash-out Brexit if that is what happens. It seems to me the thinking is to present the UK with a choice: crash-out or ‘the deal’.

          Perhaps I can take some ideas out for a little walk, to use Stephen Fry’s phrase? Alternative thoughts most welcome.

          If I have got my thinking straight, it seems to me ‘the deal’ offered would be a CETA style FTA but with Northern Ireland (and in present circumstances the rest of the UK) having to comply with much of the single market legislation and customs union tariffs without having the benefits of single market membership (so potentially checks on goods at the Channel and Low Country ports even though the goods are produced in compliance with single market rules plus significant restrictions on provision of services cross-border). This of course is a bad deal for the UK but is what the UK’s red lines and the Good Friday Agreement seem to dictate. So the choice presented to the UK will be crash-out or a lousy deal.

          NB – having to comply with single market and customs rules surely makes the vaunted freedom to negotiate new trade deals with e.g. the US almost worthless, as the UK would pretty much have to say – we would like improved terms from you but we can’t really offer anything in return.

          At that point the EU may remind the UK that the EEA/EFTA route could be a possibility if it was to drop some of its red lines. And of course, so would continued EU membership (at a price, now).

          Or have I got something wrong?

          I note the FT headline writers are now terming crash-out as ‘full Brexit’. Trying not to panic the readership?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’m behind in my reading now, I haven’t caught up with the latest text. I’m quite confused by some of the reporting. From what I can see, the EU hasn’t moved on from stating that a CETA only deal is possible. I think any kind of EEA/EFTA deal is highly problematic, not least because nobody has consulted the Norwegians and Icelanders yet, and they have their own issues with a UK membership. And EEA/EFTA doesn’t solve the Northern Ireland border either, as it doesn’t cover agriculture.

            My feeling is that there seems to be a consensus on both sides of the table that a hard Brexit is near certain, but its better for all parties that it occurs in 2021, not next March, so they are simply postponing most of the key decisions.

        2. David

          I agree that, from now on, Brussels wants the inevitable crises to come between the UK and other nations rather than the UK and the EU. Such crises are pragmatically easier to manage, and I suspect that the Spanish and the UK will be front and centre. I suspect also that the Spanish have been asked to back off for a bit to avoid getting Gibraltar mixed up with NI. The UK is likely in fact, to be hit by a series of crises one after, and will probably wind up agreeing to more or less everything.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Mutual assured destruction [from Bloomberg link above]:

    “Tomorrow the president will announce the actions he has decided to take based on USTR’s 301 investigation into China’s state-led, market-distorting efforts to steal U.S. technologies and intellectual property,” White House official Raj Shah said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

    The president is considering targeting more than 100 different types of Chinese goods.

    “China is not afraid, nor will it dodge a trade war,” Wei Jianguo said. “We have plenty of measures to fight back, in areas of automobile imports, soybean, aircraft and chips. Trump should know that this is a very bad idea, and there will be no winner, and there will be no good outcome for both nations.”

    Remember when Trump used to tout stocks’ fresh record highs, back in the boom times of 2017? All over: trade wars are the fastest known method of smashing asset values, as Trump’s Republican predecessor Herbert Hoover proved in 1930.

    China is quite serious about sanctions on soybeans, at a time when the US ag economy is struggling. At $10.40 a bushel, soybeans are no higher today than they were in 1973, still remembered in Chicago as the summer of “beans in the teens.” Long-term soybean chart:

    But in inflation-adjusted terms, today’s soybean price equals $1.89/bushel in summer of 1973 dollars — a level so low it doesn’t even appear on the chart. Ag prices are already in a 1930s depression.

    Grain states other than Illinois are mostly Republican dominated. Trump — an urban creature from NYC — is going to screw them sideways. And there’s nothing they can do about it, other than help to elect a Democratic House majority in the Nov 2018 midterm election as payback to Herbert Hoover Trump.

    1. Wukchumni

      An almond tariff on Asian imports from California would be nuts, but it serves the to the right of right farmers right, in having voted for the agent of their destruction.

      1. Oregoncharles

        How long does it take an almond orchard to start bearing? 5 years, at the minimum. So a tariff would take at least that long to have any real effect – if China can find the land for it.

      2. Jean

        Not true. The biggest exporter of nuts from California is this guy:

        “Then there are Stewart and Lynda Resnick, Beverly Hills billionaire farmers who own up to 300 square miles of land in Oligarch Valley. The Resnicks sit on the board of directors at the Aspen Institute, hobnob with Michael Milken, are close to Arianna Huffington and keep the powerful California Senator Diane Feinstein on a very short leash. The Resnicks also own one of the largest agribusinesses in the nation and enjoy a near monopoly on almonds, pistachios and pomegranates in United States.”

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      At $10.40 a bushel, soybeans are no higher today than they were in 1973….

      So, what you’re saying is that hourly wages are not the only things stuck in the 70’s? Maybe the government should “help.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Oh, but it does! Here’s the USDA [US Dept of Agriculture] chart of inflation-adjusted prices for corn, wheat and soybeans, helpfully informing sodbusters of how badly they’re screwed:

        Real corn prices [orange line] are actually lower than 1932, while soybeans [blue line] are slightly above their 1932 level. The last little peak after 2010 occurred in 2012.

        In the endless cornfields of Iowa, nobody can hear you scream. At least farmers will be spared the indignity of having Mark Zuckerberg drop in to promise that his administration will retrain them in coding.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Have you got a chart of ag subsidies, which, and I’m just spit-balling here, probably looks just the opposite of “prices?”

          But, I’ve gotta admit, those “sodbusters” of americana with venerable, all-american names like adm, cargill and monsanto are a pretty sympathetic lot. Just tryin’ to feed their families and make a little profit workin’ the land, sellin’ patent-protected gmo seeds and buyin’ back stock.

          But, in all fairness, how do you expect to force Mexican subsistence farmers off their land and into whirlpool’s and ford’s Mexican factories, or across the Rio Grande to do “jobs americans won’t do” for wages americans can’t live on, if you don’t keep corn prices lower than their production costs and make up the difference with cash from american taxpayers?

          1. Rosa

            Exactly, subsidies maintain American corn 30% below cost of production. 5 million agricultural jobs in Mexico have been lost since NAFTA. The Mexican agricultural sector passed from being 5% of GDP to just 1.5%. Competition is just for the poor.

      2. Old Jake

        This is, of course, not the complete picture. Productivity comes into play. How much of these products a single “sodbuster” can produce with a given unit of work affects the value to the sodbuster of that work, more than the price of a given unit of product.

        Then, of course, you have to look at the ancillary components, such as how that productivity is achieved: Roundup and other agricultural adjuvants, fossil fuel use and all the effects that brings into the picture and so forth, much of which is hidden and socialized cost.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think what Wei is saying, with the ‘there will be no winner’ comment, is that they will do what they think is necessary and take what they believe is the right course of action, if they have to pay more for their Mapo Tofu.

      “Skip the tofu dish. We’ll have North Carolinian twice-cooked pork.”

      “But the automakers will be hurt…wait, that’s America’s problem. Our tofu makers will be hurt. Luckily, our new Great Helmsman Xi, according to his Little Green Book, has said that a patriot risks his/her Social Credit score by showing such cowardice in the face of our trade enemy. Let the dissolute Americans cry over their automakers…their stock holdings . We must stand firm.”

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      “trade wars are the fastest known method of smashing asset values”


      Bring on the trade war. God forbid some of you patricians re-learn price discovery.

    5. Oregoncharles

      The US ag economy is always struggling. The original populists were primarily farmers.

      1. Oregoncharles

        And I remember endless political jousting over “price supports” IN THE 50s – when I was a kid and had little idea what they were talking about.

    6. djrichard

      Jim, this simply adds to the “wall of worry”. Has the Fed Reserve inverted the yield curve yet? No? Then party on, b**ches!

      Per the Oracle, “take a cookie, I promise by the time you’re done eating it, you’ll feel right as rain”.

  16. The Rev Kev

    Theresa May battles to shore up EU support over Russia

    She might be a bit hard to believe. Right after the attack May immediately accused Russia as being directly responsible. After this went on for awhile, she finally brought in a OPCW team to what was by then an old crime scene. They have already announced that it will take them about 2-3 weeks to determine what was used. Right, so if it is taking them so long, how could May know straight away what it was and who was responsible?
    And could someone please Take Boris Johnson aside and explain to him what Godwin’s law is? Very much appreciated.

    Also, I’m calling tonight’s Antidote du jour a Red-Tailed Squirrel (

    1. Oregoncharles

      As far as I know, the Skripals and the policeman are still alive. How do they treat the victims without knowing what the poison is? Has anyone asked the hospital toxicologists? What are they treating them for?

      From the promotion for “novichok,” it probably wasn’t that.

  17. diptherio

    I came across one of those “border collie” pups right outside my back door, the other night. Thought it was my cat, until I saw the stripes. We’ll be trapping ours and releasing it a few miles up the road, as they have a taste for chickens.

    1. DJG

      diptherio: According to something I once read, American badgers are more solitary, and European badgers live in family groups. So do you sight badgers pretty much on their own, or are you expecting the clan to show up now?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        so even European *badgers* are more cooperative and socialist than Americans. Probably have better health outcomes too.

        1. Wukchumni

          Badgers, we don’t have no steeenkin badgers!

          We did have beavers though…

          Jedediah Smith was the first American to see the rivers that flow out of the Sierra Nevada, and felt that they were the best source of beavers that he’d ever seen, and nobody’s seen a beaver here for a very long time. And most of those beaver pelts were headed to Europe to be turned into hats.

      2. diptherio

        Oh! My bad. I thought that was a skunk, which is what I ran into (almost). I guess the snout should have tipped me off…

  18. allan

    Charges dropped against most Turkish officers accused in D.C. clash [The Hill]

    Charges have been dropped against 11 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail that were accused of beating protesters in Washington, D.C.

    Federal prosecutors made the decision to drop the charges against 11 of out the 15 security members in connection with the incident. …

    Nine people were taken to local hospitals following the incident. …

    The clash was criticized by Washington, D.C., police and local officials who described it as a violent attack on peaceful demonstrators. …

    U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal that the prosecutors were not pressured to drop the charges saying that investigators had misidentified some suspects and did not have enough evidence against others.

    Professional courtesy. Compare and contrast with the throw-the-book-at-’em treatment of any number
    of U.S. citizens peacefully asserting their 1st Amendment rights.

  19. DJG

    Yes, the badger “puppy” is charismatic, which is good, because the English have had a tendency to slaughter them, for no good reason. So if the photo lets badgers be badgers, unmolested by human beings, so much the better.

    I’m wondering about how long the “feisty” relationship lasted. Or is this an orphaned badger in need of some care? I read somewhere that badgers will tolerate some human contact–not that they can be domesticated.

    Aha! My emotional support animal. The long-nosed border collie. And get a load of those paws and claws, so perfectly suited to digging. Watch out, United Airlines!

    1. crittermom

      I’m still chuckling over the caption below the ‘border collie puppy’!
      Love that kind of sense of humor. Great pic.

      However, I can tell you that although I love most animals, badgers are not among them.
      The reason?
      If you have horses and/or burros, as I did at my former home, they can be a big problem.

      They dig large holes that are deep before tunneling off.
      Holes large enough for me to step in–probably up to my hip. That can be disastrous for both humans & critters, easily breaking a leg.

      Fortunately, neither myself or my critters ever fell in one, but I had to always be aware of them as I walked around taking photos.

      And yes, they can be very nasty.

      Wolverines, from what I’ve read, are like a badger on steroids. Yikes!

  20. RenoDino

    Iraq War Anniversary

    I remember writing quite a few emails to liberal columnists who supported the war back then asking them whether, in the end, they would like to be judged on their good intentions or the actual outcome if things didn’t go well. Those few who did write back said they were hoping for the best and the future is hard to predict.

    That’s today’s America in a nutshell: put forth a truly awful plan or a policy with a totally fabricated projected outcome, be it war, tax cuts, or crackdowns, then ignore the actual disastrous results in the end. When asked about it later say our intentions were good at the time, but shit happens.

    That’s the legacy of the Iraq War.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Results of Longitudinal in France Regarding Allies’ Relative Contributions to WWII Victory over Germany PBS. Chuck L: “Over the years I’ve seen estimates ranging from 70% to 93% as the proportion of German battle deaths inflicted by the USSR during World War II. German record keeping degenerated during the last weeks of the war.”

    Sometimes it’s the body count, sometimes not.

    We don’t want to lose even one of our boys (and girls), so we count.

    But it’s not about how many communists we kill. You can’t win a win that way.

    And of course, you have WWI, where the Dough Boys came in late. But they were the decisive last straw that broker the German camel’s back.

    So, the question is ‘Is the last straw the key?’

    All I know is that there is no one on top squashing you.

    1. Wukchumni

      It could’ve gone either way in WW1, and if Germany wins by being the last man standing, the English empire probably disbands 30 years earlier, and there’s no Adolf in the future more than likely.

  22. Carolinian

    Michael Hudson has a new outlet for weekly interviews.

    This is interesting

    I was recently down in Washington where I’m heading a group at Democracy Collaborative to look at the Gross Domestic Product accounts. We’re trying to figure out how much of GDP–Gross Domestic Product–is absorbed by interest. And surprisingly, even though debt is going up and up and up, we didn’t find the interest or debt service rising. So we called up the Bureau of Economic Analysis that publishes the GDP statistics. I asked what happens when the credit card companies make more money on penalties than they make in interest. When you miss a payment on your debt (this is before you go to prison) and you can’t pay the electric bill or a credit card bill, your rate goes up from 11 percent to 29 percent.

    The answer they gave us was: “That’s not interest. We count that as a financial service, and financial services are an addition to GDP.” So all the added penalties that people pay for falling behind in their debts for arrears are counted as a growth in GDP – as economic growth!

    Debtors are now our Domestic Product.

    1. RenoDino

      Thanks for the link. I liked his comment about how all labor started off as bondage to work off loan interest and remained pretty much that way until a couple hundred years ago, although the net results are pretty much the same today.

  23. Spring Texan

    There was some discussion a few days ago about Beto O’Rourke. Here’s a conversation with him that shows why I like him even (in a “two cheers for Beto!” sort of way) though he’s no Berniecrat at all. He’s at least somewhat genuine and not willing to obey the party establishment down the line. We could do much worse!
    He started participating in the dialling-for-dollars required by both parties nowadays where senators and representatives are expected to spend hours every day calling, then quit the program. I thought it was particularly interesting how they wanted him to “apologize to donors.”

    Don’t know how people can say our system isn’t corrupt when this is how it works. Congressmen who actually want to spend time on the floor of the house and with legislation are considered disgracefully self-indulgent by the money-reaping party apparatuses.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War With Iran”

    This is gunna be hard to talk about him while keeping within this site’s guidelines and not getting this post bounced but here goes. This article is only a chapter in this person’s career and he has been described as a human wrecking ball on America’s relations with half the planet. I would recommend reading his Wikipedia entry ( for more about his career. Considering that he is always ready to send US troops into harm’s way, when it was his time back in the 60s to possibly serve in ‘Nam, he bailed and joined the Maryland Army National Guard instead and makes no bones about it.
    A former American intelligence chief yesterday described him as a “kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy” who would harass and bully people to make them support his positions. A female USAid contractor, who made a complaint about a company that Bolton represented, described how Bolton “had banged on her hotel room door and ranted at her over a two-week period in 1994. He also made disparaging remarks about her weight, accused her of theft and even questioned her sexuality. I was alone in the hotel room. It was easy for him to drop by and bang on the door, trying to pressure me until I broke,” she said. “Several times a day he would pound on the door and shout ‘This is not going to go away. I don’t know what you’re doing.’ ” So this is his background.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Bolton is representative of a whole generation of chickenhawks who love to dig graves for other people’s children with shovels they bought on a no-bid contract with your tax money

  25. David

    The Grauniad story on UK nationals’ freedom of movement after Brexit claims that:

    “Britons in Europe are deeply concerned that they will be “landlocked” after Brexit, unable to travel to another EU country for business or pleasure because their freedom of movement rights will be wiped out.”

    This is nuts. Freedom of movement exists for everybody, whether they are EU citizens or not, especially within Schengen. Indeed, that’s why the streets of Paris are full of Syrian refugees. What do they think is going to happen? French police at the Gare du Nord preventing you boarding a train for Brussels if you have a UK passport?

    What will (probably) change is the freedom of UK citizens settled in one EU country to move and settle in another. But this is a right limited to EU citizens, so what else do you expect ?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not sure its that straightforward – my understanding is that ‘third country’ citizens do not have the right of free movement within Schengen or the EU/EEA. Even if you have a valid visa, this does not automatically give a right to travel within Europe. In practice of course there are few if any controls stopping them, but without this right they may face all sorts of restrictions for work or, for example, if they need medical care.

      Also, a visa for entry is a right to enter at a port or other entrypoint, not an absolute right to cross any border. For example, I’ve non-European friends living in Ireland for many years who need a visa to go to a Schengen country – but if they obtain a tourist visa for, say, Spain, this does not allow them to enter via France.

      1. David

        No, I agree, and I suspect that’s what the story is trying to say. Traveling across borders to work, or for medical treatment, could conceivably be a problem, but as regards, say, living in Brussels and popping down to Barcelona for the weekend, I don’t see why things should change. In the years before the EU (let alone Schengen) I quite often did air or train trips between two European capitals, and there was never the remotest inconvenience.

  26. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: World’s Media Bungled Twin Astronauts Study So Bad That NASA Had to Step In The Wire (J-LS)

    Reporters from outlets like CNN and Business Insider got the story completely wrong, often confusing gene expression with the genes themselves.
    Ars Technica urged journalists to not rush to cover a story just because others were doing it, and to verify facts before publishing.

    I could swear I’ve heard something like this before, albeit in a different “context,” but somebody said it was translated from Russian so it was communist propaganda.

    Note to The Wire’s editors–How was it bungled? Badly.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Grammar is so 20th century. Tweeting & texting done liberated us from the tyranny of adverbs and such.

      Short words good, long words b-a-a-a-a-d-d-d-d.

    2. Mel

      Maybe they’re being poetic about that bad NASA which had to step in The Wire as a consequence of the bungled study.

      Q.v. “Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly.”


      1. Jean

        People wallowing in poverty for the rest of their lives because of student loans are just
        Biden their time.

  27. Jim Haygood

    Ed Yardeni’s fundamental economic indicator edged down slightly today. A pop in Bloomberg Consumer Comfort back to a near-record level was offset by weakness in industrial materials prices and an uptick in the four-week average of initial unemployment claims. Chart:

    This morning’s surge in Bloomberg Consumer Comfort is unlikely to be sustained with stocks sagging badly today, an event which will register in the next consumer poll being conducted this week.

  28. Wukchumni

    Notice how the reign of error is quiet as a church mouse in regards to the evang terrorist that was part a cabal of hatred?

    Can’t blame him though, it’s his political base.

  29. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Alien Star Nudged Solar System 70,000 Years Ago
    The time 70,000 years ago is strangely coincident with some estimates for the time humankind experienced a “change” in their mind’s organization which lead to human speech. I also recall 70,000 years ago was roughly the time some indications suggest the human population passed through a narrow bottleneck.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Our solar system circles around our galaxy.

      We have no data on the regions we traveled through in the past.

      We can ask if we have any idea about the regions we are headed for. Are we on a self-driving solar system? The course is set, more or less, anyway. Do we have enough detectors to see what lies ahead? Are we about to enter some debris field?

    2. Lead Bow

      70,000 years ago, roughly, was also the time of the Toba super-eruption which is thought by many to explain the apparent ‘bottle-neck’ in population growth.

  30. Jean

    So, how did the central bankers infect the blockchain with illegal images?

    I still don’t understand how it all works.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe the unique feature about the blockchain is that you can add to it, but you can’t delete.

    2. milesc

      You can store a small amount of arbitrary data as part of each transaction. It’s a very small amount, so something like an image would have to be encoded and split between lots of transactions. Anyone looking for the image would have to know where to find it and how to recompose it.

      Blockchains are terrible for data storage — for the reason above and because transactions carry fees, so it gets expensive very quickly.

  31. Jeff N

    I watched the vid of the woman being hit by Uber car, I counted *2+ seconds* from when you can see her white shoes, until she is hit.
    She seems to come out of shadows, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Uber had pre-doctored their camera in some way to make the driving environment seem darker than it really was.
    Also, isn’t it standard operating procedure to turn on your “brights” headlights in the middle of the night on an unlit highway, as long as no cars are oncoming (so you don’t blind other drivers)?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are our streets too dark at night?

      Should there be a speed limit for day time and one for night time?

  32. crittermom

    NC, I can’t thank you enough for the especially awesome antidotes of late.
    I’m still chuckling over the badger photo & caption, & will be watching the sheep video again. Wonderful!

    Having finally completed a year of tests, chemo & radiation, I was completely slammed by a sinus infection these past couple weeks. To the point that my local Dr was talking about having me hospitalized with IV antibiotics.
    The antidotes each day have been my only reason to smile. My only bright spot of each day.

    Having switched antibiotics I feel like I may finally be on the mend.
    Thanks, NC, for helping me get thru this by providing great animal photos & videos.
    Best medicine ever!

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Best wishes, Crittermom! The badger photo and caption made me chuckle too. And I forwarded the Extreme Sheep link to an ag photographer pal of mine.

  33. 3.14e-9

    RE: Russian cyber attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure

    It’s frustrating to watch the U.S. propaganda mill getting away with this right under our noses.

    First, this is nothing that hasn’t been going on for years, and Russia isn’t the only country doing it (duh). In fact, I ran across this gem in late 2016 while searching for information on the Russian’s alleged hacking of a Vermont utility.**

    U.S. Govt. Hackers Ready to Hit Back If Russia Tries to Disrupt Election

    An interview on PBS Newshour last week confirmed as much. I couldn’t tell if the correspondent accidentally asked the right question, and while it seemed that the interview was about over anyway, it was interesting that the discussion ended after the commentator’s detailed answer (starts around 3:20):

    Second, this report is based on U.S. intelligence analysis and smells an awful lot like the laughable “Grizzly Steppe” report, which was summarily discredited by independent IT experts. Like that disaster, this report includes enough technobabble, flowcharts, sample code, etc., to make non-techie eyes glaze over in seconds. How would any average reader know whether it was valid? Maybe because the issuing agency has “computer” in its title, we’re supposed to believe it’s more trustworthy?

    ** as reported by WaPo, which turned out to be fake news an honest error that journalists occasionally make in their courageous pursuit of the truth.

  34. Synapsid

    Lambert Strether,

    I’ve written two replies to Expat’s request for information on shale costs and both vanished. Are they available?

  35. 3.14e-9


    RE: Russian cyber attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, one more thing:

    According to the US-CERT report, the alleged Russian hackers are gaining access to websites by modifying JavaScript. This caught my attention, because that was apparently how hackers attacked my astrology blog back in 2014.

    My blog was self-hosted using a third-party developer WordPress theme. In August 2014, I started receiving overage warnings from the hosting company. I couldn’t understand why, as I wasn’t posting nearly as much as in previous years and traffic was way down. Tech support said it wasn’t their problem and that if I didn’t fix it, my account would be suspended.

    I eventually managed to get someone who took the time to explain that, because I was using a theme that hadn’t been updated in three years, it was a sitting duck for the brute force attacks that were rampant that summer. He said the point of access likely was through JavaScript, which was in some of the theme’s plug-ins. He also directed me to logs where I could find out where the attacks were coming from. The vast majority were from Russia and China, with Russia accounting for over 50 percent.

    I’d made a few predictions about Putin and joked that they must have wanted my trade secrets. If they were looking for anything, it probably was access to the PayPal account set up for site donations. Or, they might have been attacking my blog simply because it was vulnerable.

    So, I’ve got irrefutable proof of Russian hacking! They didn’t get anything, but so what? The Kremlin attacked my website! And it had to have been under Putin’s orders! Damn that guy, he cost me weeks of lost time migrating over to I just wish he’d done it sooner.

    In any case, I know what those logs look like, and I don’t recall having seen anything like that from the DNC. Anybody?

  36. Livius Drusus

    Re: Bernie on the real problem of inequality, well the mainstream media is increasingly adopting a tabloid business model. The New York Times has seen a growth in digital subscriptions and part of the reason for that recent success has been the coverage of the various sex scandals that have exploded recently.

    I grant that Harvey Weinstein was a major story and it is good to have a discussion about sexual harassment but it is obvious that the NYT has upped the salacious content of their paper by a huge margin. I often don’t agree with the WSWS but they are spot on about how the NYT has made salacious sex stories their new bread and butter.

    The NYT is not alone in this but I use that paper as an example of a supposedly venerable media institution transforming itself into something like the National Enquirer. Bernie Sanders and others like him are fighting an uphill battle trying to get more substantive issues into the public square but they are fighting the good fight.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s an age-old question.

      Are people unruly in general, and tend toward idolatry, among other things, and the more virtuous, the more talented ought to tell, or guide, them on what to think, or focus their attention on

      Or are people wise and capable of knowing what they want (to read, to watch, etc)?

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