Links 3/6/18

Messy Hawk Love Affair Plunges NYC Park Into Absolute ‘Chaos’ The Cut (Chuck L)

USS Lexington, first aircraft carrier sunk in WWII, found near Australia Stars & Stripes (Kevin W)

New Report Predicts Rising Tides, More Flooding NPR (David L)

Taiwan Announces Ban on All Plastic Bags, Straws, and Utensils Global Citizen (furzy). !!!

‘Plastic, plastic, plastic’: British diver films sea of rubbish off Bali Guardian. Not surprised but still sad to read. Kuta Beach and its surf was totally disgusting in 1993 and 1994 due to garbage in the water. This is 20 miles off Bali, but I didn’t pull out a map to see what part of the island it is near. I wonder if the fancy beaches, like the ones at upscale resort areas like Nusa Dua, are also gross now.

We Can Now Store Light as Sound, And It’s a Game Changer For Computing – Science Alert (Kevin W)

The MacBook Air doesn’t need a price cut, it needs a redesign Digital Tends (Kevin W). How about “The OS needs to suck less”?

Bitcoin is based on the blockchain pipe dream Nouriel Roubini and Preston Byrne, Guardian. Important.

New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life Quanta Magazine (David L)

He’s not just saying he feels her pain—he really is ars technica


China is ramping up its military spending to $224 billion per year (Kevin W)

North Korea

Kim Jong-un, senior South Korean officials meet for first time Asia Times

South and North Korea agree to hold joint summit DW

Absolute hell: the toxic outpost where Mumbai’s poorest are ‘sent to die’ Guardian. Coming to the rest of the world sooner than you think…

From Politico’s e-mailed newsletter: IS EU RETALIATION PLAN ‘WTO COMPATIBLE’? Officials in Brussels and other major European capitals told POLITICO’s trade team that the EU will define Trump’s tariff action as a “safeguard measure” — in trade jargon that’s a temporary step intended to protect a domestic industry — allowing Brussels to issue counter-tariffs more quickly that a traditional WTO lawsuit. Trade experts are split on whether the plan is legal. Malmström told the BBC on Monday the EU didn’t have time for the WTO’s half-empty appellate courts to deal with a traditional complaint. The EU’s College of Commissioners will decide the bloc’s course of action Wednesday.

Breaking the Stalemate on European Deposit Insurance Bruegel

Martin Selmayr’s appointment vs. the press Politico. How fickle. After those phenomenal leaks about the dinners with Theresa May…


Brexit brain drain: elite universities say they are losing future research stars Guardian. PlutoniumKun calls your attention to the comments too.

As Brexit approaches, the gulf between Britain and Ireland widens Financial Times

I’ve walked the Irish border – Brexiters are trampling on fragile territory Guardian (PlutoniumKun)

Are builders really to blame for the UK housing crisis? Independent

Italy’s political earthquake will shake the old European hegemony to its foundations Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. AEP does like to focus on apocalyptic possibilities…recall he also thought the Greek would break the EU in 2015. Italy is obviously a force to be reckoned with, but it isn’t at all clear that 5 Star can govern (Trump is an extreme example of how inexperienced players spend a lot of time spinning their wheels) or that it and Lega can agree on enough to move forward together.

New Cold War

Former Russian double agent critically ill in Britain after exposure to unidentified substance Reuters

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook regrets asking how to handle men asking girls for smut pix The Register (Kevin W). Wowsers.

Tariff Threat

GOP urges Trump to abandon tariffs The Hill

EU Raises Stakes With Tariffs Targeting GOP Heartland Bloomberg. Don’t underestimate Eurocrats…

Trump links planned steel tariffs to Nafta negotiations Financial Times

Trump Transition

Trump-Russia: Ex-aide refuses to co-operate with Mueller probe BBC

Six Ways the ‘Resistance’ Gave Trump a Dictator’s Toolkit TruthDig

Critics tap decades-old law to stall Trump bid to undo Obama regulations NBC (furzy)

Tree ‘planted by George Washington’ toppled in winter storm BBC. For those who believe in portents…

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Securing America’s Elections Act to Ensure Integrity of 2018 Elections Tulsi Gabbard. Calls for paper ballots!

The California Democrats Aren’t In Disarray New York Magazine (UserFriendly). The lady doth protest too much…

Redistricting battles heighten the stakes for 2018 gubernatorial racesWashington Post (UserFriendly)


Cochran to retire from Senate next month The Hill

Left faces off with Dem establishment in primary fights The Hill (UserFriendly)

New McCarthyism

The New Blacklist Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (FluffytheObeseCat)

Coming this fall: “nutrition labels” for news Axios (TF). Way worse than the headline would have you believe.

Yale’s David Swensen Gets Into Spat With Student Paper Over Endowment Bloomberg. Wow, is Swensen a jerk. No one gets to run an opinion piece without having it edited. Now the paper also behaved badly by editing it and not running the edits by him for his approval (which would have led him to withdraw the piece). This does not speak well for the bargaining/managerial skills of the elites-in-training. The students should have told Swensen he had two choices: either they edited the piece, subject to his approval, or if he insisted on running an unedited piece, the way to do that was to buy a full page ad.

Ending Harassment Helps #TheEconomyToo IMF

SEC Subpoenas 80 Cryptocurrency Firms, Including TechCrunch Fund CNN (furzy)

Megabanks Get One Big Win in Senate Rollback Bill Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

Congress should set the standard in being a good employer Economic Policy Institute

Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Even Worse Than You’ve Been Led to Believe Alternet

Burger-flipping robot begins first shift BBC (David L)

Antidote du jour (margarita). “Swimming near Bratislava, Slovakia, in 10F temperatures.”

And a bonus video. One cat seems a lot more mindful of the baby’s safety than its parent is:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s once was a mainstream view. More recent work has called it into question. I’m about to turn and and so being lazy, but people like Peter Temin very persuasively assign blame to the efforts to restore the gold system (and he examines other hypotheses and show why they don’t add up). Others have argued that the trade collapse started before Smoot Hawley and Smoot Hawley was akin to locking the barn door after the horse had left.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I’ll take a crack at this, briefly.

        Smoot-Hawley is really little more than a footnote in the story of the Great Depression. World trade volumes actually fell faster in 2008 than in 1929.

        For a more comprehensive review of the Great Depression, you could do worse than Charles Kindleberger’s book.

        Kindleberger points out that the political disputes led to a serious of beggar-thy-neighbor steps among the big players which manifested itself in the volatility of exchange rates and commodity prices (in addition to tariff policies).

        Also, there was a series of bank runs in Europe kicked off by the bankruptcy of Creditanstalt in 1931. The pound had to break it’s fixed rate against gold shortly thereafter. This caused a second leg down in the world economy and exported deflation.

        It’s hard to imagine a parallel series of events around the 2008-9 crisis that would have given similar results. Perhaps if the EU had fouled-up the Greek debt crisis and Greece actually had a hard exit from the Europe??? That would have caused a series of cascading bank runs and government debt runs in the PIIGS countries, and additional exits may have followed.

        Also, imagine if China had devalued against the dollar, and hard, say 30-40%. And imagine they did that instead of a massive fiscal stimulus. That REALLY would have exported serious deflation around the world. Plus, it wouldn’t have given such a big lift to the developing world by helping commodity prices stage a mild recovery.

        The policy mistakes in the 1929-1939 era are really hard to overstate. It was one bone-headed move after another by policy makers in all the major countries. Many of them were mentally fixated on the gold standard and few did any real fiscal stimulus until they ran out of other ideas.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Perhaps a different and mostly forgotten twist to the crash of 29…the young plan…replacing the dawes plan…which was really the “Germany never pays anyone back plan”…

          technically the treaty of Versailles is still operational…

          see hamburg waterfront czech special dockage rights which expire in 2028…moldauhafen/vltava…

          Germany didn’t pay france who didn’t pay great Britain who didn’t pay u.s. of hay hay hay stop that…

      2. Procopius

        Efforts to return to the gold system are widely accepted as the cause of the 1921 Depression (which my grandfather told me 70 years ago did not end quickly, but he was a farmer and agricultural prices did not rise much during the ’20s) I’ve seen remarks by economists that an important cause of the Great Depression was the Bank of France’s decision to gather all the gold they could in their own vaults, thus causing deflation in other countries. Of course America was affected by that, since we tried to stay on the gold system. It’s strange there are still people who desperately want it, although its value was never demonstrated (most monetary systems throughout history were not based on gold.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Dr Ed sez —

      Hoover was appalled by the breadth of the tariff bill that special interest groups had pushed through Congress, denouncing the bill as “vicious, extortionate, and obnoxious.” But he signed it into law under intense political pressure from congressional Republicans.

      The tariff triggered a deflationary spiral that had a deadly domino effect. Other countries immediately retaliated by imposing tariffs too. The collapse of world trade pushed commodity prices over a cliff.

      Here’s the famous “swirling down the drain” chart from Chas Kindleberger’s The World in Depression — post it on your bathroom mirror:

      Like all economists, Dr Ed knows the dismal history of Hoover’s tariff-induced collapse in trade as if it happened yesterday. Protectionism is the quickest known way of rendering a population jobless, hungry and rooting through dumpsters for food. It’s also our best prospect for ditching the orange fruitcake in 2020 and burying the R party in a urine-stained shallow grave, though the human costs will be incalculable. :-(

      1. JohnnyGL

        I need to pick a bone with Mr. Yardeni (and Comrade Haygood).

        World trade volumes actually fell faster in the first couple of years after 2008, as compared to 1929. No additional nudging from tariffs was required.

        Also, looking at tariffs is too narrow. Also look at the exchange rates, commodity prices to see the larger extent of beggar-thy-neighbor policy problems. Kindleberger himself does just that. Smoot-Hawley fades in importance in the larger context.

        Things like Creditanstalt’s bankruptcy kick off of a bunch of bank runs and the Sterling break with gold. After that happened, all hell broke loose….

        Then, Hitler showed up….and, ummm….things got worse.

        1. Wukchumni

          The Lords Of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, by Liaquat Ahamed, is a fine book on what went down in the decade leading up to the end of the Au standard, and one of the odd things was that the USA ended up with about 80% of the entire world’s supply of all that glitters in the 20’s and 30’s, which led to a most unbalanced situation worldwide coming in the aftermath of WW1 with England and France having traded us theirs for armaments, if it was to continue to be the gold standard for finance.

        2. Jim Haygood

          Eyeballing this tiny chart, world trade volume seems to have fallen about 19% in 2008 … then quickly recovered as zombie TBTF banks chugged their $700 billion bailout cocktail.

          Smoot Hawley came into effect on June 17, 1930 — a day that shall live in infamy. Scaling off Kindleberger’s “swirling down the bowl” chart, world trade looks to have dropped around 40% from June 1930 to June 1931 … then carried on sinking for two more horrid years.

          To even think of attempting this lethal experiment again is reckless. As ol’ John Brennan tweeted to the orange fruitcake yesterday, “When will those in Congress and the 30 percent of Americans who still support you realize you are a charlatan?”

        3. FluffytheObeseCat

          In other words, under-regulating a domestic finance sector is “the quickest known way of rendering a population jobless, hungry, and rooting through the dumpsters for food.”

          Tariff spirals are a step down on the list.

          I remember dodging middle class types begging for money at my local Walmart c. 2008. Nearly every visit there would be someone asking for money who used to have a construction job. Or a husband with one. They were more aggressive and emotionally distressed than the semi-pro street people, and they were in the Walmart parking lot. The pros didn’t bother with Walmart customers.

          1. ambrit

            Local WalMarts now run panhandlers off. The begging now goes on at intersections adjacent to the WalMart parking lot entrances and exits.
            I am tempted to stand out at one of those venues with a sign saying:
            “Please Help!Trying to maintaining a lower middle class life style!”
            Having the cat on a leash with me might help. (Not sure how to convince the cat to play along.)

            1. polecat

              We seem to have those little ‘cardboard soirees’ as well, at the intersection of the hwy. into town that fronts our local Wallyworld … and scattered as well all over our little community …. with the occational do-ungood vigalantes, who attempt to roust out the homeless from their improv tent-camps and decrepit vans/’recreation’ vehicles, because of their need to feel superior to the down-n-out folks THEY deem lower then their scummy selves. Meanwhile, the ‘authorities’ – city, county, and the state, play tick-tack-doh ! with the few overwhelmed charities willing to help where they can.
              What a mess, this ‘$ociety-of-our$ !

              We’re ALL Obamavilles Now ….

              1. ambrit

                I haven’t seen any local ‘lifestyle vigilantes’ at work around here. Could this be a function of the perceived socio-economic level of the area? As in, the ‘night riders’ of the Gold Horde come out when the ‘deplorables’ threaten to make the neighbourhood look bad, optics being the defining value. All of the ‘deplorables cleansing’ here has been done either by the Agents of the State, or Rentier Henchmen. The latter being defined by the recent ‘happening’ when the owner of a potentially valuable commercially zoned parcel sent in a team to clear out the homeless camp ensconced therein and bushog the property to pristine trees and grass only condition.
                Another, potentially more dangerous, for the social fabric, situation is the slow but now visible build up of the not exactly homeless, but proto-homeless population. The number of ‘rootless’ people just aimlessly wandering about the environs is increasing. People with nothing to do and bills to pay increase the background anxiety level of the older inner suburban rings. Petty thefts and home break-ins are on the rise around here. This is probably one of the unremarked stimuli behind the private gun sales volume in America. The police forces are already viewed as, if not outrightly criminal, at the least, only marginally useful for the maintenance of a general social order. The view of the police as agents of the wealthy, rather than agents of the state is gaining ground among the increasingly precarious lower middle and working classes. So, true vigilantism has fertile ground for growth. The wealthy are already, if they didn’t always do so, enacting a partial vigilante police system with their gated communities and private ‘security’ services. A revival of micro regionalism is quite possible. The dynamic is vibrant, and increasingly obvious.
                Thoughts about the rise of social theocrism will have to wait for another bout of insomnial logorrheal incontinence.

              1. ambrit

                Lots of fun to be had with that,
                I’d be a cattle without the hat.
                Whos’ name would be on my collar?
                Would I, in true psyops fashion, be holding my own leash?

        4. Oregoncharles

          Why would Sterling, which means silver, be based on gold? (I know, the vagaries of history.)

          1. ambrit

            If my reading serves me well, which assumption is, at best, suspect, in ancient times, gold and silver were much closer to each other in “value.” Silver was also always viewed more as an ‘industrial’ and financial metal.

            1. polecat

              I’m saving mine to make amulets and small cat-like sculptures as accessories to go with the burial urns that I’m considering making.

            2. Procopius

              From my reading, silver was always the metal used to define the currency until the British treasury issued a gold sovereign in 1816. Well, the earliest coins from Lydia were made from electrum, a naturally occurring mixture of gold and silver, and the Romans, for a while used iron as the basis of their currency. I think Charlemagne authorized gold coins, but they were really not circulated

          2. Grebo

            Britain ran low on silver at the end of the 18th century and switched to an essentially fiat regime. This proved handy for beating Napoleon but when that was done the newfangled ideology had a stiffy for gold and made it the law.

          3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The “pound” is a measure of a pound of silver. The Pound, however, was backed by the yellow metal. I don’t think they ever got far beyond 40% backing, which kept trade humming and living standards rising for centuries.

            1. Grebo

              Britain was on a gold standard for roughly 100 years, depending on how you measure.
              As for rising living standards, ever read any Dickens or Engels?

    1. bruce wilder

      Is it just me, or is that article incredibly dumb in trying to explain the mechanical significance?

      How fast does the reporter think electricity travels? And, how long is a nanosecond? (About a foot long, at the speed of light or electricity.)

      And, isn’t the advantage of light the density of information in its signals?

      The problem is storage, as the article says, but then glides past. Storage is hard — and very slow. The transistors used electrically to store information can be updated at only modest frequencies and those frequencies have been at a practical ceiling now for decades. Trying to increase frequencies along the wires to the transistor banks turns the mass of wiring into a chaotic transformer as the signals on one wire jump to the next.

      Sound would presumably not have anything like the signal density possible with light, but maybe stored sound could be updated at much higher frequencies.

      Obviously, all science writing is the skillful use of metaphor to communicate intuitions to those of us who are not capable of digesting the technical reality in anything like real time, but it seems to me this did not come close.

      Smarter people are welcome to correct me. I am hardly an expert, but I really thought this article failed me and I knew it, despite my lack of smarts in this area.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I agree with you that the science writer who wrote this link left a lot to our imagination.

        I think the scientists are working ways to build a light based central processor unit. I’m guessing the acoustic memory they are building would operate like the memory in what is called a central processor register. If so, their next experiment will probably be an effort to construct a light-acoustic flip-flop circuit.

      2. Mark P.

        Is it just me, or is that article incredibly dumb in trying to explain the mechanical significance?

        No, Bruce, it’s not just you. The whole point of photonic computing — as opposed to shunting electrons around doped silicon, like now — is the potential for orders of magnitude of greater bandwidth for storage and computation, to the extent that some of the simpler quantum algorithms could in principle be run on a photonic computer

        Unfortunately, this is a deeply stupid article, with the reporter garbling information or making some unsubstantiated assertion that on the face of things makes no sense every few lines. Here’s the nub of the nonsense: –
        This is why light-based information that flies across internet cables is currently converted into slow electrons. But a better alternative would be to slow down the light and convert it into sound.

        Why, why, why would it be a better alternative? There’s absolutely no explanation, which is needed since on the face of things this is gibberish because sound is far slower than electrons.

        Indeed, the whole point — and problem — with getting photonic computing to work is that you want photons modulating other photons i.e. ideally, holograms modifying other holograms, so you can rebuild and extend your computational infrastructure from second to second as needed.

        But photons essentially have no effect on each other: light beams pass right through each other. The problem, therefore, is to find a material or medium with which photons do interact and have them interact through that. Presumably, the researchers’ experiment was designed to achieve something intelligent and maybe they’re using sound as a medium for photonic interaction (for now).

        I dunno. This Ars Technica article from last year provides a better grasp on the issues:

        Photons direct photons, giving hope for all-optical quantum logic

  1. no one

    Lest we forget:

    “Bush’s steel tariffs in 2002 didn’t crush the economy, but they didn’t work for him either” Toronto Star, 3 Mar 2018

    “…A 2003 study by the U.S. International Trade Commission found that losses created by the tariffs exceeded the tariff revenue by $30 million (U.S.) annually, a paltry amount.
    “…A study funded by steel producers that supported the tariffs found that the tariffs brought back 16,000 steel jobs. A study funded by steel-consuming companies that opposed the tariff found that rising prices caused 200,000 job losses, concentrated in the metal manufacturing, machinery and transportation equipment sectors, though it noted that it was not clear how much of the price increases were caused by the tariffs.
    “…The price increases did make it economical for some steel producers to revive shuttered mills, the Journal reported, though some of the firms kept losing money.”

    Even the only quoted individual, Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who opposed the tariffs, conceded that “It gave a little temporary relief, not very much, for not much time. I don’t think it was the salvation.”

    Same Republican move, but different times!

  2. Jesper

    GDP above all and nothing else matters

    Ending Harassment Helps #TheEconomyToo

    Seriously? Have we come to the point in time when every action and every behaviour has to be justified in economic terms?

    Am kind of hoping the blogpost was/is a joke but I do think it is for real. The worship of the economy continues, if something pleases the economy then it is good if it doesn’t then….

  3. Mulish

    Flippy the burger flipping robot is a primo example of the hype surrounding automation.

    It costs $72K to run in its first year. And supposedly $12K/year after that. And essentially it does only one job in the kitchen (flipping burgers) and it needs a human assistant to correct its mistakes (and to probably put the patties down, go get more patties from the cooler, and add cheese, etc etc etc). God forbid you want a burger cooked in a special way (like extra seasoning like Worcestershire sauce or salt even, or with chopped onions added to the patty).

    This is because AI and robots are dumb. Most likely, Flippy requires regular daily maintenance that will not happen (visit almost any machine or fab shop to see how well machines are maintained in a production environment — kitchens are production environments as well). My guess is that Flippy will break down at critical junctures and a human grill cook is going to have to work around a machine that would possibly get stuck in unhelpful ways. And those breakdowns will become more frequent as the heat and grease wear it’s plastics and connections down).

    The only jobs that AI and automation is coming for are symbolic processing jobs (ie lawyers) because that is what computers excel at.

    Tech bros are obsessed with making fast food automated, mainly because tech bros are terrible people who can’t even act nice to service workers taking their order (reddit is littered with such tales). The feel inimically superior and have a hate-on for these jobs. Sometimes I think it is because they wouldn’t be able to handle the work, as “simple” as it is, due to their collective belief that they are all suffering from being on the ASD as cover for their inherent terribleness.

    1. The Rev Kev

      “First they came for the burger-flippers – and I said nothing…”
      Good run-down on the costs of those things you listed, both in terms of dollars and also man-hours just to get the things working. In a society that had an honest accountancy system the fallacy of the savings versus all the costs you mentioned would mean an automatic no! Even if those machines ran trouble-free for five years, that would be over $140,000 in dollars alone and I do not know how many man-hours.
      It would be better to just dispense a meat patty and have customers cook it over a large open grill with the extra ingredients near by – either that or a burger from their fridge and a nearby microwave (ugh!). The fast food industry has spent the last 70 years removing any trace of skills required in its workers but here the tech bros are trying to sell an answer to a problem that not only does not exist but whose answer is far worse in application.

      1. a different chris

        >It would be better to just dispense a meat patty and have customers cook it over a large open grill

        Shhhhhhsss!!!! ShutupShutupShutup it isn’t just tech bros that come up with stupid ways to make us do the work we thought we were going to pay somebody else for….

      2. Eclair

        “It would be better to just dispense a meat patty and have customers cook it over a large open grill …”

        RevKev, you have just described a Korean Barbecue restaurant! Yum! Well, not burgers; real meat.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The next trend is for the customer to wash his/her own dishes and cups (no paper or plastic here, but ceramic or stainless steel), and get a 5% discount.

          Anything broken will be charged back on the bill, though.

          And you have to carry your own workers compensation insurance, just in case.

          1. Wukchumni

            I noticed the country really started putting on weight once we were given the task of pouring our own sodas, in fast food restaurants.

            Who could resist a 2nd or 3rd refill, it’s free, right?

    2. Summer

      You’re operating under the impression that robo tech and “dumb AI” will only be unleashed when it is more effective, efficient, and convenient for people to adopt.
      No, they fully expect humans to adapt to all the tech’s flaws and then tell you how smart it is. We’ve already been doing it for years.

      The state of bliss for capitalism is not having to pay for labor.

      As for Flippy, the reduced operating cost is the worker(s) they will no longer have around teaching and watching it.

      1. Wukchumni

        Robots have proven to be more effective at flipping stocks, and frankly it seems below them to stoop to menial fast food jobs.

        1. Summer

          “Robots have proven to be more effective at flipping stocks…”

          But when something goes wrong, nobody seems to have a clear answer.

        2. Summer

          “Robots have proven to be more effective at flipping stocks…”

          But when something goes wrong, there never seems to be a clear answer.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        No, they fully expect humans to adapt to all the tech’s flaws and then tell you how smart it is. We’ve already been doing it for years.

        Preach it brother! Really sick and tired of dealing with crappy software which is nothing but a solution in search of a problem. I’m looking at you fintech [family blog]ers.

      3. jrs

        right, I mean does anyone in their right mind think reaching an automated phone system beats actually talking to a person for help? No of course not, but every large company does it, and those jobs are no more (or are limited to the few people you manage to finally get through to).

    3. a different chris

      However, do not forget one important difference between a machine and a human. It’s easy, if the business fails, to put the machine on Ebay and ship it to somebody that wants to try elsewhere.

    4. armchair

      Law might be a more diverse field then just symbolic processing. Do you want a robot to explain a parenting plan or to prepare you for a deposition? On second thought, why not?

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can you demand a robot chef to ‘eat your own cooking?’

      “What’s the matter? Not good enough for you?”

    6. human

      Everybody has neglected to mention that as a capital cost, the item is depreciated over only a few years and therefore the purchase cost is ultimately subsidized by the taxpayer-cum-customer. Win/win for corporate welfare.

        1. human

          Tax avoidance. Tax evasion is illegal :-) Besides which. it is really just GAAP in our regressive tax world.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Aha! – that’s the part I couldn’t figure out. I’d been thinking the cost of the machine over the course of its lifetime sounded pretty close to or maybe more than what it would cost to simply pay a human being once everything was factored in – expensive machine would need maintenance and human being was getting low pay and low benefits to begin with.

        Now I see the attraction since you can’t depreciate your employees. You can however simply not appreciate them and, if they’re looking a little peaked after being overworked and underpaid, take out a life insurance policy on them and cash in.

        1. cnchal

          Wages are an expense, deducted in the fiscal year paid. In the burger flipper robot instance cited here, the $60,000 cost (presumably) is depreciated over several years, but the $12,000 (really?) annual operating cost is also deducted in the fiscal year it occurs in.

          I have a problem with that $12,000 annual operating expense. I see no consumables other than electric power and a few drops of lubricant, unless the spatula wears out several times per day and needs replacing. Most likely there is a licensing or maintenance fee to using the robot, and the restaurant owns it but can’t use it without paying the fee. Miss a payment, and the robot goes on strike.

          What I found comical in the video was the reporter and either the restaurant manager or robot salesman sitting down at a booth and claiming they were eating a “robot made” hamburger when all it did was flip the patty. It’s like claiming cars are made by robots and ignoring the thousand of people on the assembly line and in the production plants making the components.

        2. Annieb

          Yes, and if the business fails due to the robots ( because maybe humans will decide they don’t like/want a robot world) the owners can take the write off. But if their business model is based on robots, and humans refuse to cooperate, then they are out of business. I’m not sure if human resistance will be possible or even desired. But I can hope.

    7. Mo's Bike Shop

      Umm, Burger King and others have used a conveyor grill since forever. Drop the meat-like patty on one end, brown hockey puck comes out the other end. You could make the machine more vertical and still be less fuss and cost than the robot. This is like letting the Marketing Department reinvent the wheel.

      And yah, that robot definitely looks like a ‘hatch hog’, no worse sin in fast food than blocking the aisle in the galley.

      1. Duck1

        I saw that machine at the Fancy Food show in SF more than ten years ago. Glad they finally got a sucker to buy.

    8. bob

      Burger King, as with a lot of other fast food places, doesn’t even have “flippers”

      They have a giant electric toaster. One person feeds the frozen burger in one end, and takes them out, fully cooked, on the other end.

      They’ve been “automated” since the 1970’s, at least.

      1. Pete

        It looks to me like Flippy uses the same spatula for the raw meat as the cooked. Isnt that not cool? I thought the whole advantage of robots were the could be cleaner not have built in problems.

  4. Livius Drusus

    Re: income inequality in the United States, this likely explains much of the happy talk about the economy lately. Things really are great for the top ten percent and these folks make up much of the readership of elite news sources particularly those behind paywalls. The upper-middle class also represents a coveted election demographic because they tend to come out to vote more than poorer people and are disproportionately active in politics. This helps to explain neoliberal’s staying power. There really is a class of people who benefit from it and they are more than just the one percent. “1% vs. 99%” was never a very accurate slogan.

    On the flip side, massive inequality likely explains the widespread demoralization among poorer Americans. Many poor and working-class people don’t even bother to vote. Voter turnout in the United States is low by the standards of most industrialized countries. Part of the blame falls on election rules that make it hard to vote (voter suppression) but I suspect that demoralization plays a big role in low turnout as well.

    1. Summer

      “1% vs 99% was never a very accurate slogan.”

      True. It only works as an awareness meme, not an organizing meme.

    2. allan

      “Things really are great for the top ten percent”

      This is the “Dream Hoarders” meme constantly being pushed by pundits and their think-tank brethren
      (Richard Reeves in particular) in order to obscure the radical disparity at the very top end (.1% or even .01%)
      of the distribution. For example, see Fact 2 in “Thirteen facts about wage growth” from
      Even the Liberal Brookings Institution™, where they lump the top 20% together.
      When you look at tables grouped (too busy to find them online at the moment) by top 10% ex 1%,
      top 1% ex .1% and top .1% ex .01% , you see what’s really going on.
      People at the 90th percentile are of course, by definition, doing better than the people below them
      on the income scale, but things are hardly “really great” for them.
      It’s political malpractice to turn them into the enemy.

      1. jrs

        well the problem is they usually SIDE with the enemy. But if they want to side with those trying to unionize fast food and other service jobs, raise the minimum wage, etc. then they are welcome (maybe real social change needs it’s class traitors). But I’d assume most will side with the enemy in most cases because it’s what they identify with (and this is true even if you manage to move the needle a little on a narrow issue like healthcare, that at best makes them limited allies in one fight).

        One doesn’t need to demonize but they can ask “which side are you on?” The side of those who have to sell their labor to live including the unemployed who can’t find work? Or the side of the wealthy?

        1. allan

          Just (as Lambert often reminds us) generations don’t have agency, neither do income cohorts.
          The 10% ex 1% is just as heterogeneous as the Millenials.
          Sure, some of them might be impossible to win over,
          but many of them will in fact understand that the system is failing those just below them and will fail them (or their children and grandchildren) in the very near future,
          and they would be better off if any number of progressive policies were adopted.
          The tax deform will raise taxes on a band of people towards the top of this group.
          And many of them see their kids struggling to get a toehold in this economy.
          Given the size and (as noted in the original comment) high voting intensity of this group,
          it seems nuts to write them off as if they were one evil voting bloc.

          1. John k

            Some will sympathize on some issues.
            But the booming NYt sales is not because .01% are buying more papers, or watching more Maddow, it’s because the 10% are. So they’re gulping down the neolib mantra, and Russia Russia, with gusto.
            More bang for the buck going after the bottom 2/3 that have more practical concerns, no matter some at the top are having trouble affording the million dollar mortgage. They’ve got great health care, and have no concept what 15/hr even means.

  5. Kevin

    Anyone lese here think the “tariff’ talk is pure unadulterated distraction?
    A gift from Drump to the NRA?
    We’ve already moved beyond the Parkland killings. Convenient and very sad.

  6. integer

    Working link:

    Former Russian double agent critically ill in Britain after exposure to unidentified substance Reuters

    Maybe Russian intelligence is responsible, or maybe MI5, MI6, or the CIA did it so they could blame it on Russia. Maybe it was a dodgy curry; probably not though. There is also no proof that Russia was responsible for poisoning Litvinenko, only assertions from the usual suspects in the UK and US. Here’s an interesting take on the Litvinenko case:

    Litvinenko – What Really Happened? Fort Russ

    1. begob

      That Litvinenko article doesn’t point out that traces of polonium were also found everywhere the alleged assassins went, including flights to and from Moscow. Fascinating, but an exercise in cherry picking. It’s possible the people who supplied and used the stuff didn’t realise equipment existed to detect trace amounts.

  7. doily

    Re: Brexit Brain Drain From Elite UK Universities
    This Guardian article links to another report from December which shows that UK elite universities are already losing the competition for research funds in the massive EU Horizon 2020 programme, and that the UK is performing worst in the part of the programme that funds projects looking at “societal challenges.” This is in addition to other recent reporting that the UK Russell Group of elite universities continues to tumble down international rankings. The key word here is “already.” The UK higher education system was already in decline before the Brexit referendum, and its ring-fencing of STEM subjects and the business models targeting high fee-paying international students is driving that decline. UK universities are crap places to be if you are a researcher, and they are getting worse. Last week and this the University College Union has once again resorted to strike action to oppose avaricious and unnecessary attacks on lecturer pensions. Brexit may well be accelerating a deliberate and rapid decline of the entire system, but let’s not let the elite managers and policy makers driving this off the hook.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Crap places to be if you are a researcher? Boy, is that statement taking me back to my youth. Here’s why:

      I the mid-1980s, I had a low-level job at the University of Pittsburgh. It was in a department that was on the hunt for more faculty members. One of its happy hunting grounds was …

      … the British university system.

      Why? Two words: Lousy pay.

    2. Musicismath

      UK universities are crap places to be if you are a researcher, and they are getting worse.

      Yeah. Currently (according to the UCU), about 68% of UK research staff are on insecure, fixed-term contracts. 58% of junior academics (Lecturers, Research Associates and Research Fellows) are likewise in insecure employment, often on fractional appointments. Practically speaking, that’s most academics under 40.

      The whole system runs on fumes and cumulative exhaustion and there’s not even the pipe dream anymore of running off to a nice job in the US. Maybe Germany, if you’re in STEM.

    3. doily

      Yes and on top of the deteriorating employment situation, there is the soul destroying stupidity of it all. For example having to defend your discipline against the opinions of the new crop of STEM CEOs:

      Or, having accomplished something significant in your field, having to run around conducting an additional research project gathering evidence for your “impact case study”:

      Fumes indeed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If a product is not made in the US, it’s made somewhere in the world, assuming the demand is still there.

      And if the UK researcher is not researching in the UK, but somewhere else, the research is still being done by the researcher, somewhere else in the world. And if you have money, you can import the results, which are real, if intangible, assets.

  8. integer

    AIPAC conference:

    AIPAC speakers praise Saudi Arabia and UAE leadership Al Jazeera

    What Israel wants from America WaPo

    Nikki Haley accuses UN of ‘bullying’ Israel at AIPAC CNN

    President Trump, tell terror-supporting Qatar it can kiss our US air base goodbye Fox

    I thought the Fox article was pretty interesting, even though it doesn’t explicitly mention AIPAC. It’s an opinion piece by Mitchell Bard, who happens to be the “Executive Director of the non-profit American–Israeli Cooperative Enterprise”, and a former editor AIPAC’s “weekly newsletter on U.S.-Middle East policy”. He accuses Qatar of “endangering America’s Arab allies and our ally Israel by bankrolling terrorists, inciting violence and hatred through its state-funded Al Jazeera TV network, and collaborating with the far more powerful and virulently anti-American Islamic Republic of Iran.” Clearly Qatar and Al Jazeera were hot topics at the conference; I expect AIPAC is eagerly awaiting the release of Al Jazeera’s US version of The Lobby.

  9. Carolinian

    Another journo reputation on The Resistance trash heap–Jane Mayer. Moon of Alabama (and Marcy Wheeler) on the case.

    A phone, kept in a Faraday bag designed to block signals, rings? How please can a phone that can not send or receive signals, take a call? That is impossible. How can a fact-checker and/or editor at The New Yorker let such nonsense slip into the opening graph of such a large piece?

    Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel, with whom I have exchanged views on this, details several of the factual errors in the piece:

    The piece misleads the reader by insinuating that Steele was original paid by Republican money. GPS Fusion was paid by a Republican opponent of Trump to find dirt on him. That job ended after Trump had won the primaries. GPS Fusion then started to work for the Clinton campaign. Steele was hired by GPS only after the GPS client had changed. He was then tasked with finding something “Russian” on Trump.

    Mayer claims that the Democrats were only alarmed about the “hacking” of the DNC emails after, in late July 2016, Wikileaks started to publish those. That is wrong. Marcy points out that one month earlier the Guccifer 2.0 figure had already published internal details from the DNC “hack”. That, at the latest, set off the alarm bells.

    Mayer also claims that none of reporters who were briefed by Steele then wrote about the dossier. But Michael Isikoff did write about it without revealing that Steele was his source. His report was used by the FBI as a confirmation of the Steele claims.

    Meanwhile the media claim Trump all at sea because of attacks on Kushner and then that Trump’s been trying to get rid of Kushner. Perhaps it’s time for the NYT to do what it once said it was going to do–cut way back on the anonymous sources.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you, but I’ve discussed this with serious security experts in the context of my looking at getting a Faraday bag.

      First, for starters, not all Faraday bags work as advertised. Some require that you seal them in very fussy ways and you can have user error.

      Second, even if they work as advertised when you bought them, they wear and can quit working.

      However, I agree that having this in the opening of a big story without any indication that there could/must have been a Faraday bag failure looks terrible and means someone screwed up.

      1. Carolinian

        So Steele’s Faraday bag is as unreliable as his dossier? This could further make M of A’s point. Perhaps it’s time for the New Yorker to bring back Sy Hersh.

        1. Mark P.

          Seymour Hersh ceased to be published by the New Yorker precisely because he was too reliably on point.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        There are alternatives to using a Faraday’s shield/cage/bag if you are comfortable using a “dumb” phone.

        1. Per Snowden, remove the battery when you’re not using the phone.
        2. If pulling the battery all the time is too annoying, have a technician* install a micro slide switch on the case connected to the battery leads. Experiment on a $15 tracfone or equivalent from Walmart or Target if need be. Ask your friends if they have an old flip phone in a drawer somewhere they aren’t using.
        3. If neither of those works for you, wrap your phone in aluminum foil then try to call it. If it rings, add another layer of foil. Repeat until it no longer responds.

        *technician usually being an electronics hobbyist friend (ham operator, model railroader, RC plane enthusiast, etc.) that is not suffering the ravages of arthritis.

        1. polecat

          Why not have, say, three Faraday bags .. each one smaller than the previous, with said com device inserted into the last bag … sorta like a series of nested Russian dolls ..

    2. Emorej a Hong Kong

      Mayer also undercut the credibility, of her description of Steele as a high-minded ‘boy scout’, by describing all governmental actors, and her other sources, as also high-minded boy scouts.

      Presumably she knows that we know that many of the players (and institutions) have track records which include non-trivial dishonesty, so her failure to work harder to justify her assurances, that they were all honest and high-minded ‘boy scouts’ in this particular matter, undermines the reader’s confidence in her independent and critical thinking in preparing this article.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Despite the inconsistencies, mayer’s ” steele / dossier rehabilitation tour” continues apace, at least on msnbs.

        Hard to escape the conclusion that, when all is said and done, if it ever is, the dossier will prove to have been far more pivotal in this whole affair than anyone is currently willing to admit. Better start cleaning up its messy reputation asap, before mueller, having failed to turn up any real evidence, is forced to use it to justify this “long national nightmare” that he insists on putting the country through.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      What’s particularly upsetting about the Mayer Steele rehabilitation article is that Mayer wrote the definitive work on how the billionaires have bought the government: Dark Money. She knows why Trump is president, and it had nothing to do with Russia, yet here she is defending the lie that keeps people from hearing about how the Democrats and Republicans have been, are, and will continue to disenfranchise voters and make it increasingly difficult for anyone not in the top 25% to vote.

      That’s what matters, and it’s what we need to start shouting out at every opportunity. How easy will it be for the establishment, should there be a rash of progressive winners during the primaries and in November, to declare “Russian interference” and arbitrarily ignore the results? It’s not as though the law matters to anyone in power anymore.

      1. Mark P.

        Mayer … knows why Trump is president, and it had nothing to do with Russia, yet here she is defending the lie that keeps people from hearing about etc.

        No surprise. Mayer’s status ultimately depends on her relationship with David Remnick’s New Yorker, which has been relentlessly, sickeningly hagiographic in fellating the Clinton/Obama Democrats. So Remnick gave Mayer her marching orders and she did what she had to do in the real world to survive — that’ll be the way she sees it. The reality is that, most people are not going to be Ellberg or even Chris Hedges types.

        How easy will it be for the establishment, should there be a rash of progressive winners during the primaries and in November, to declare “Russian interference” and arbitrarily ignore the results?

        That’s their hope and aim, of course. In the U.K., Corbyn has already been the target of an attempted frame-up as a former Soviet bloc spy. If Labor wins a general election, expect some of the establishment to brazenly try to annul the election results on that basis.

  10. Summer

    Re: Mumbai’s poor in outer zones

    That’s already all over the world. And there are &!?#% who still swear up and down about “progress.”

    I’t’s a main reason for preference for visa workers from countries that already have arrived at the ‘hunger games city planning stage.’

  11. Craig H.

    Bitcoin is based on the blockchain pipe dream Nouriel Roubini and Preston Byrne, Guardian. Important.

    I don’t know why this article could be important. If you are a middle class American the arguments for / against bitcoin may be replaced for all practical purposes with the arguments for / against gold. I assume. If this is a controversial statement I guess somebody will let me know.

    Some people might want it but anybody that you or I know who thinks they need it is probably weird. The only person I know who parks (probably invests is not the correct term but I will not argue against anybody who would prefer invests here) a large chunk of his savings into gold has a closet filled with guns and ammo and 40# sacks of beans and rice.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Pension funds are loaded up with costly absolute return funds and liquid alts, based on the notion that they’re uncorrelated with stocks. But often they are.

      Someone should tell them that the old yellow dog is the original uncorrelated asset, and a lot cheaper to own. Gold and junk have beaten good grey investment grade bonds and tibbles in the past 12 months. Chart:

      1. Craig H.

        If you are a professional trader knock yourself out. If you are my cousin the systems administrator and you want to invest your retirement funds in gold I am going to try and convince you not to. Also if I lived in a country where they could have a revolution that ain’t an apocalypse I would allocate a good measure to gold.

        1. Jim Haygood

          We will deal with it when it happens.

          One of these days when junk falters, Craazymon Fund will take refuge in Treasuries.

          For now the gold model remains positive as the dying dollar sinks slowly into the sunset.

      1. Tihihihi Politicians

        What optic and who is watching?

        Optics on US-side
        Main optic is if their main bribers… campaign contributors are the highest bidders for these representatives. However, If I remember it correctly Verizon pays more than Jack Daniels or Levi’s to these critters.

        The well-fare of the states’ population is irrelevant as we have seen over and over again. They gut healthcare and are not the least worried about anything.

        Media: well again doesn’t matter if main bribers… contributors are not hurt.

        Optics in the EU-side
        More or less the same, except for campaign contributions they get offers as board members and consultants.

  12. DJG

    Recommending the estimable Matt Taibbi:

    “If you don’t think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump and his alt-right minions, you haven’t been paying attention.”

    Will this article cause the idiocy to stop? I have vague hopes that it may, but I have much doubt, given that I use my FB feed as a sample, and my “correspondents” have no intention of admitting to backing a crappy candidates with no ideas and a husband who was no asset (all their protestations to the contrary).

    1. Arizona Slim

      FB feed? That reminds me of something, and here it is:

      After a month of trying to find something to give up for Lent, I finally did. It’s Faceborg. Yup, I’m taking a break from the Borg.

      You’ll probably see me spending more time posting here, but, hey. I like you guys and gals. So, here I am.

    2. Carolinian

      That Taibbi is a righteous blast and illustrates how the establishment, as they were after the 2008 financial crisis, are more than willing to throw the baby out with the bath water if it will save their own precious skins. The baby in this case is respect for truth and for democracy. The way to defeat Trump and the Republicans is at the ballot box but that would require concessions to genuine popular discontent. Russia-gate is a hail Mary pass to keep things they way they are–just as as bailing out the Wall Street banks was. The important thing, as always, is that the elites have their runway foamed.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Russiagate is the motivational fuel for my “Learn the Russian Language” rocket.

        Oh, that and wanting to have a conversation with a friend. He was born in Russia and his family left back in 1991.

        So far, we’re up to greeting each other informally, using the Russian equivalent of “Hi!” but I’m not skilled at taking the dialogue beyond that point. I need to work on that.

    3. Musicismath

      Will this article cause the idiocy to stop?

      One would like to think so, but remember that Taibbi’s name was dragged through the mud (deliberately and in bad faith) during the Exile/#MeToo flap a few months ago. Even though it was all proved to be rubbish, I doubt his name’s going to be mentionable in “polite” (that is, Clintonite/extreme centrist/liberal) circles ever again, because the smear has done its work. Which, of course, simply proves his point.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Here’s a little chart illustrating the persistence of momentum in GICS sectors. Both sectors which led the S&P the most on a trailing 12-month basis (green and sky blue bars — Finance and Technology, respectively) carried on outperforming during the subsequent 1 to 12 months till today (grey line).

    Likewise the two sectors which lagged the most in the trailing 12 months (orange and grey bars — Consumer Staples and Energy, respectively) carried on underperforming in the subsequent 1 to 12 months till today.

    Sector momentum don’t always work this good, but for now its pattern is perfect.

  14. Ignacio

    Re: New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life Quanta Magazine (David L)

    I believe it is more reasonable to think that those giant viruses have evolved from some kind of autonomous or semi-autonomous protocellular organism via obligate parasitism/simbiosis (like Rickettsias) than from simpler ancient viruses that have taken host genes during evolution. Once you become “parasitic” simplicity is better than complexity. If you where a parasite thousands of millions of years ago when hosts where also more simple (like those amoebas these giant viruses infect), it would be an evolutionary advantage to develop a viral capside that would help you enter new host cells once the one you colonized dies. Then you could become simpler during evolution.

  15. lyman alpha blob

    From the Taibbi piece:

    The color advisory system was ditched only after former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge wrote a book, Test of Our Times, that included a damning account of the program. Ridge revealed that in 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft asked him to raise the threat level days before the presidential vote, in an effort to help guarantee George Bush’s re-election.

    “There was absolutely no support for that position within our department,” Ridge wrote. “None. I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?'”

    Ridge had never liked the system. When he resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in 2005, he told the press that his department often argued against raising the threat level, but was overruled by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which included the heads of other security agencies.

    Who was on that council? Creeps like Ashcroft, wraithlike Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and CIA chief George Tenet. Oh, and then-FBI director Robert Mueller, who also oversaw a sweeping effort to interview thousands of Arabs in America in a program that at the time was compared to our profiling of Japanese-Americans in World War II.

    So Mueller was on the board that politicized the ridiculous DHS threat levels. But the trustworthy and forthright Mueller would never stoop so low as to politicize the investigation he’s currently heading, I’m sure.

    1. bob

      He’s got a “bi-partisan” resume. How can you even insinuate he’s got political motives?

      You’re on the list. You’ve been warned.

    2. Ed Miller

      Matt Taibbi is a must read for me, ever since the GFC. People must not forget that corruption and the politicalization of everything are the match made in heaven for the most powerful elites. Another way to arrive at the crapification of everything, but in this case worse than lower quality of mere products.

      I sent this article to several people this morning, as I often do. I’ve been sending people information ever since the GFC. Minimal responses. 99% of the time – nada. In particular the #Russiagate is particularly frustrating, with long time friendships frayed. And then there is “The Lobby” … Where are we in the US going if so few are awake?

  16. Katniss Everdeen

    RE:Coming this fall: “nutrition labels” for news Axios (TF).

    From a link at the bottom of the article, a sample of the first paragraphs of the “nutrition label” for RT:

    The website of a leading Russian government propaganda effort, which focuses on social media in addition to its broadcasting channels. Previously known as Russia Today, RT uses the tag line “Question More,” consistent with the policies of the Russian government under Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to raise doubts about other countries and their institutions.

    RT grew out of a decision in 2005 by the Russian government to extend its public-opinion activities outside the country. Funded by the government, the broadcast channel launched as Russia Today in 2005 and now operates in six languages. In 2009, it changed its name to RT (obscuring its status as an entity funded by the Russian government), launched a newsroom in Washington, D.C., and began paying U.S. cable companies to carry its channel…….

    Keeping with the “nutrition label” format, I’d say newsguard has decided that RT has 1000 calories per tablespoon, off-the-charts trans fats, less than 0% of the recommended daily allowance of any nutritional requirement you can think of and is visibly oozing bad cholesterol. Cancer-causing, also too.

    1. Carolinian

      My local PBS network carries news from NHK in Japan as well as the BBC and extensive Deutsche Welle (Germans are big in SC these days). We also get our US (deep?) govt viewpoint from CNN, NBC etc.

      Bombarded from all sides……

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Gotta love the artful use of simple English:

      ….and began paying U.S. cable companies to carry its channel....

      As though paying a carrier fee were something unique to the Russkies, and somehow bribe-like.

    3. a different chris

      And AT&T changed its name from American Telephone and Telegraph to obscure its status of really wanting to bring back telephone and especially telegraph wiring to countries that were suspicious of America. Lordy.

    4. polecat

      I have no doubt that Reds dye #infinity is also an ingredient within that nutrition label …

  17. bob

    An 8 year old felon?

    We’ve gone beyond ridiculous. We need more cops, to arrest more of theses terrorists hiding in elementary schools. What’s in that lunchbox little girl? Hands up, don’t move!

    How long can we allow these children of waste our precious law enforcement resources? We need summary executions for anyone deemed “not cool” by their peers.

    It’s the only way to keep our kids safe.

    “Authorities say the student is accused of threatening to burn down the Charlotte Valley Central School and was charged with the felony grade crime of making a terroristic threat.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How did the student plan to do that?

      With gasoline, a cigarette lighter?

      Will they or should they be banned?

      1. bob

        It’s an 8 year old. He probably couldn’t even make a lighter work if he wanted to.

        How far do we go with this? What if a kid says-

        “I’m gonna kill you, you stole my ball”

        Is that a threat worthy of at least a dozen cops investigating and a felony charge?

        Completely insane, growing, and shows no signs of subsiding. It seems to be getting worse. Local news is detailing scores of “threats” each day, with the subsequent “lockdowns” and felony charges that keep our kids safe.

        1. Roger Smith

          The local news needs to stop spreading all of these overblown fallout stories. It appears to only be driving people mad into seeing or saying similar things causing even more overblown panic.

          Entire schools in my area have been locked down because one stray bullet was found somewhere on the campus. I understand the base concern, but isn’t the response at least a little absurd? Anyone can place a bullet anywhere, full well knowing they might get to go home for the day and no one will know. No test today.

          And this story with the 8 year old…terrorist threat???? Ridiculous. Are we going to send the next kid that calls his teacher a “poopy pants” to death row?

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They will go overboard with an 8 year old.

          But with older teens, like the one in Florida, they somehow either didn’t catch with guns, or are not likely to catch with gasoline.

          1. georgieboy

            I knew a guy who helped burn down a diner in about 1959, after the waitress shooed his little gang out for trying to buy cigarettes at the machine. He carried the gasoline in a pop bottle. He was 6. The leader was 7; he lit the match.

            They stood outside and watched the firetrucks come.

            That nicotine is a powerful drug !

  18. Anonymous

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” – Alexander Fraser Tytler

    The California Democrats are a perfect illustration of the above quote. We don’t have politicians, we have spoiling grandparents who get elected by promising the most candy to childlike voters.

    1. JohnnyGL

      How did they do this, exactly?

      By voting for absurdly low property taxes?
      By voting to never adopt any urban planning laws and instead create sprawling neighborhoods of 1-2 story buildings everywhere that are only connected by 8 and 10 lane highways which has turned the place into a virtual parking lot?
      By voting to raise the cost of in-state tuition from something akin to pocket change to well over 5 figures?

      Was it by voting for free health care? Oh wait, they didn’t vote for that, because of course they didn’t!!!! It’s DEMOCRATS we’re talking about, here!!!!!

      1. JBird

        California is a dysfunctional Democratic one party state with a crazy Republican opposition. Most of the politicians are well off semi corrupt and detached from most of us. Rather like the Federal legislature.

      2. a different chris

        Standard procedure. Take some overblown quote from some self-regarding intellectual. The pretentious three names is a real bonus in this case. Then pick somebody/something you don’t like, name it/them as if it’s obvious that they are the live representation of said quote. Whatever you do don’t explain why C is a result of A.

        It’s the oldest version of Underware Gnomes there is.

      3. Anonymous

        Prop 13 was the old days of California. We make up for it with high income taxes though. California government is all about redistributing wealth from the middle to the bottom. It’s a good deal if you’re rich or poor. Many of us in the martyring middle are quietly planning our escape. It’s been going downhill for years here.

        1. JohnnyGL

          ” California government is all about redistributing wealth from the middle to the bottom.”

          That’s not CA, that’s the Democratic Party. Never hurt the donor class…ever…

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      with democrats like war-machine 1st-amendment hater Feinstein and we’re-all-capitalists-here Pelosi, who needs republicans?

      1. JBird

        Exactly. The Democratic Party today is the fringe wing of the Republican Party of yesterday

  19. Judith

    Thanks for the link to “I’ve Walked the Irish Border…” Echoes of Roger Deakin and Robert Macfarlane. Another book to add to the queue.

  20. JohnnyGL

    Seems like an important statement regarding tariffs and Trump’s attitude. I always had a gut feeling that Trump would look for an opportunity to pick a fight with the Republican establishment and trade was always a likely arena. I think he’s right that his base will support him vs. someone like Paul Ryan.

    The media has been it’s usual hyperventilating self over the tariffs issue, which I suspect isn’t going to be the earthquake it’s being made out to be. However, if some establishment figures overreact, cabinet officials resign or find other ways of really picking a fight over this, it may stiffen Trump’s resolve.

    Don’t be surprised if Trump gets a bump in the polls, too. I suspect this kind of change is what the swing vote from Obama-to-Trump was looking for.

    1. Jim Haygood

      From the article —

      Neoconservative intellectuals can deal powerful blows by writing acerbically in respected journals, but they aren’t nearly as damaging as Fortune 500 executives attacking the president for hurting their business.

      A stock-market swoon over fears of a trade war, and the real costs and consequences of proliferating tariffs, may derail the economic growth on which Mr. Trump’s political future depends.

      Rather breathtakingly presumptuous for the WSJ to presume that all opponents of tariffs are “neocon intellectuals.” But those are the only people they know. ;-)

      A recession is likely in the cards by 2020. Trump will be bitterly blamed for it, and rightfully so.

    2. a different chris

      Standard “I hate Trump as much as anyone” disclamer. Now: It’s actually – not that Trump could articulate it – pretty straightforward:

      1) Cut taxes on corporations
      2) Don’t let them import every darn thing they want to sell

      Now corporations have been given a ton of money, the tariffs mean they can’t effectively spend it offshore to make stuff for here, so they need to use it to ramp up American manufacturing.

      It takes advanced economic degrees to not understand this.

      I don’t know if Trumps negotiating skills are overvalued or not, but he does seem to understand tit for tat.

    3. John k

      Trump brought in established business and finance types like Goldman. Doing anything for the deplorables in the rust belt is anathema to that lot, so just natural tension within admin.
      Lots of countries have major trade barriers and deal or hidden tariffs, not least China and SK, and they do pretty well with trade, course nobody wants to save their paper, so exchange rate stays low. Tariffs on steel only a minor effect on everything except cars, responses will be minor.

  21. Ignacio

    RE:The New Blacklist Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (FluffytheObeseCat)

    There is a moment where Taibbi mix things without much thinking:

    Two years ago, remember, the American political establishment was on the ropes. Donald Trump, a race-baiting game show host who’d run for office as a publicity stunt, was galloping to the Republican nomination in a rout. He got 14 million primary votes; the Republicans’ chosen $100 million man, Jeb Bush, got 286,000. On the Democratic side, the overwhelming party favorite, Hillary Clinton, was fighting to hold off a Corbynite socialist with little money and even less institutional support.

    From Trump to Bernie Sanders to Brexit to Catalonia, voter repudiation of the status quo was the story of the day.

    Sorry Matt, there weren’t free elections in Catalonia but a charade orchestrated by Catalonia’s elite and meddled my Spanish elite.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What you wrote isn’t correct.

      The referendum was a farce. We explained why at length. The ballots weren’t even remotely properly controlled. You could print them out on the Internet. Help me.

      Moreover, Catalonia has long been split between separatists, which include in large measure rich people who don’t want to pay taxes to support poorer areas of Spain. I live in high tax NYC and don’t begrudge the fact that we people in blue cities subsidize people in Mississippi and Oklahoma. The support for separatism has in fact been declining in recent years although it got a bounce thanks to Rajoy having been heavy handed last year. The vote in December didn’t represent a change from the status quo, it was a reaffirmation of the status quo.

      1. Ignacio

        Precisely. This has nothing to do with the arising “anti-system” invoked (in this case falsely) by Taibbi. The only anty-system party was CUP and its support is waning. Catalonian independentism is not precisely a new outcome. Has nothing to do with Trumpism, neither with Corbynism or Sanders (who by no means I would consider “anti-system”). You say that the my statement is incorrect because I say “charade” and then you say it was a farce and it was probably both. So what was incorrect, that my english is not good enough to find the exact word? The support for separatism does not has its roots on Barcelonians subsidizing rural areas. In fact, heavily subsidized rural Catalonian areas are the most separatist. That’s just propaganda from catalonian conservatives. Separatism has always been promoted by catalonian conservatives or elites in search of total control. The left in Catalonia was traditionally federalist.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sanders had to pay a fine recently…something to do with some Australians in his 2016 campaign.

      But I doubt the Foundation had anything to do with that…I think.

      1. Chris

        Downer and the Bernie volunteers are from opposite ends of Australia’s (left-right) political spectrum…

        1. The Rev Kev

          Yeah. Alexander Downer is definitely establishment material and is from a political family going back two generations. His career was marked by a series of blunders which never stopped him being given plum jobs. Was responsible for the treaty where Australia got to steal East Timor’s gas fields and was also a supporter of the Iraq invasion. His Wikipedia entry mentions board appointments, think tanks, an American professorship etc. so no surprise that he is involved with the Clinton Foundation.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tree ‘planted by George Washington’ toppled in winter storm BBC. For those who believe in portents…

    In the book, The Nine Sloughs, about Ming China, it is said that people reported seeing dragons throughout the dynasty, from ordinary folks to government officials, and often were written down in official government records.

    A dragon sighting could be good or bad.

    I’m not sure where those dragons are these days…probably Global Warming has something to do with that, or not.

  23. Rob P

    Coming this fall: “nutrition labels” for news Axios (TF).

    >The Baltimore Sun is the alma mater of some of history’s most famous political journalists, and had its agenda-setting coverage featured on “The Wire.” … The Denver Guardian has published fictional stories and isn’t a newspaper. … National Review is provocative and consistently conservative.

    >The big picture: Those thumbnail descriptions, provided first to Axios, are examples of the consumer-friendly online guides (with green, yellow and red ratings) coming from NewsGuard, co-founded by journalists and media entrepreneurs Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz.

    It doesn’t say in the article whether Facebook, Twitter, or any other large platform will be implementing this labeling program. It seems like they don’t have a platform supporting them, they’re just advertising their news labeling business, hoping someone will pick them up. If they’re smart, they’ll get one of the Congressmen pushing the tech giants to censor ‘fake news’ to encourage Facebook or whoever to buy them out.

  24. David Carl Grimes

    Re: Taibbi: Sanders is being painted as a Manchurian Candidate. Is that why Sanders continues to spout this Russiagate nonsense? To distance himself from the new McCarthyism?

    1. Roger Smith

      I am not sure how anyone continues to vouch for Sanders at this point. His idea that he could be buddy-buddy with the big dogs to get things done was already proven to be invalid before he even started his immense capitulation. By giving in and playing their game… he is ONLY giving in and playing their game. He as gained no advantage. Instead he has lost the actual momentum and credibility he had.

    2. Arizona Slim

      He’s doing a great job of convincing me never to vote for him again. And I doubt that I’m the only one.

      1. ambrit

        Yes, amen. The counter argument being that he is doing this to maintain some semblance of power in the inner workings of the Senate doesn’t wash for me. Look at how badly he was treated by the Democrat Party during the primary season, and the utter lack of contrition on their part about the process. If he hasn’t figured out that any maintenance of the old status quo will be terminally toxic to not only him, but any sort of ‘progresivism’ by now, he is suffering from some sort of cognitive dissonance. Either that or his real goal’s are much smaller in scope, and non-confrontational in nature.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I was getting pretty close to writing him off with the recent Russia nonsense he’s been spouting, but then he came out sponsoring some antiwar legislation and backed the WV teachers, something the Democrat party can’t be bothered to do. Now I’m more confused than ever as to where he really stands.

          Before the 2016 election he really was an unknown and needed Democrat party to get name recognition, and it worked. So well in fact that at this point he no longer needs them and would do well to show some courage and let the rest of the country know they don’t need the Democrat party either.

          If he really is interested in another run in 2020, he still has time to get on the ballot in every state if he starts now, and maybe behind the scenes he is.

    3. djrichard

      I think most politicians will distance themselves visibly from this new McCarthyism once it goes a bridge too far, exposing itself for what it is. Until then, treat it with the respect that any weapon deserves, a weapon that your enemy is wielding. A weapon that will inflict collateral damage in the process.

  25. audrey jr

    The article submitted by PK from the Guardian: I keep getting a “404” when I try to read. Thanks.

  26. RMO

    “USS Lexington, first aircraft carrier sunk in WWII” No it wasn’t. Is it so damn hard to remember that World War II had been going on for quite some time before the U.S. declared war?

    1. visitor

      Worse than that. The short video about the discovery of the wreckage also mentions that the vessel that undertook the search also found “the wreckage of the USS Ward, which fired the first shot of WWII at Pearl Harbor”.

      The first shots by a ship in WWII were fired by the Schleswig-Holstein on the 1st September 1939. Don’t the guys at Stars&Stripes know their history basics?

      1. wilroncanada

        WWII didn’t start until December 7, 1941.
        This is the US of A, remember?
        What the rest of the world was doing didn’t matter, as always.

    2. The Rev Kev

      For those unfamiliar with this ship – after the destruction of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour, there were only 6 carriers standing between the Japanese Fleet and the US coastline and the USS Lexington was one of them. In a series of desperate battles, the US Navy managed to halt the Japanese advance until the turning point at Midway and the “Lady Lex” was involved in these early dark days of 1942. There is a clip of its sinking at so it was the first US carrier sunk in the war but other countries had lost carriers previously.
      The USS Ward itself actually figured in the 1970 movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” ( when it fired on a Japanese mini-sub trying to sneak into Pearl Harbour before the commencement of the attack and is another familiar name from this era. Of course the US Navy was already involved in an unannounced shooting war with the Germans in the Atlantic but that is another story

  27. Bobby Gladd

    Why did NC delete its post-level social media sharing icons at the ends of the posts? I routinely share your excellent content to Twitter and Facebook.

      1. Bobby Gladd

        Sorry to hear that. I always try to spread the NC word. But cutting/pasting post titles and URLs is a hassle, given my daily reading load. Same thing happened at (they finally fixed it) and The Neurologica Blog (they have yet to).

        1. Bobby Gladd

          Ahhh… a partial “fix.” “File/Share/Twitter…” (Safari drop-down). Had to update my iCloud app setting. Works. Just can’t add hashtags. Better than copy/paste.

  28. Jim Haygood

    One is shocked … shocked … that laws were being broken right in the White House:

    Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, broke federal law on two separate occasions last year as she used her White House position and commented on Alabama’s special election, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Tuesday.

    Conway was introduced as a “counselor to President Trump” in separate interviews on CNN and Fox and Friends late last year. In each, she criticized Democrat Doug Jones, who would go on to defeat Republican Roy Moore in an upset victory in December.

    The OSC said Conway violated the Hatch Act, and “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about the candidates in the Alabama special election.”

    Technically Mueller may be right. But his penny-ante potshot represents the level of picayune minutiae to which Mueller has descended to justify his wretched existence.

    Pretty sure that Kellyanne jaywalked a couple of times too, and once stuck a piece of gum under the conference table. Scandalous …

    1. ambrit

      Don’t forget her scandalous lack of sufficiently demure submissiveness when around Patriarchal Male Authority figures.
      “Mad Men” was a big hit for a very (problematically) good reason. Nostalgia for a lost era of pre-eminant Patriarchal Power.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “I’ve walked the Irish border – Brexiters are trampling on fragile territory”
    This kept reminding me of a description I saw of the England-Scotland borderlands, back before the unification. Apparently they were a lawless and violent place; the people who lived there were called “borderers,” and apparently they did not make good neighbors. The famous Hatfields and McCoys were examples. I think my mother’s family, back quite a while, were another. They settled briefly in N. Ireland (this is probably significant), then came to the US and did quite well in Illinois, after migrating along the Ohio River frontier. Apparently the borderers were a significant element in those who settled the US early on, and a disruptive one.

    Of course, that’s in contrast to the Irish border the article describes – but it has quite a lot to do with the odd silence he found there. That border hasn’t existed nearly as long as the one across Britain did (hundreds of years), nor was it as violent. But the echoes kept coming.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In his book Albions See, the historian David Fischer writes about the influence of Borderers on America, he says you can still see their influence culturally and in voting patterns. Many did stop off in the north of Ireland.

  30. Jean

    Infuriated about plastic. Have done everything I can to not to use or accept it.

    Maybe it’s time to start bringing our household garbage and dumping it in the lobbies and drive- throughs of places that pump plastic into our environment?

  31. The Rev Kev

    Bitcoin is based on the blockchain pipe dream

    When I think of the resources required to try to make this thing work – the server farms, the bandwidth needed, the sheer mass of energy to power this thing – I am glad that it is not going to be a general thing. The last thing that out civilization needs in the coming days is to have a technology that requires an ever greater amount of energy sucking the life out of whatever we have. Having ‘Dr. Doom’ himself writing it puts a seal of approval on this article. I think that we just dodged another bullet here.

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