Links 3/7/18

Delightful video shows elephants rolling around in mud in Thailand Thai Visa (furzy)

Earth’s Flip-Flopping Magnetic Field is Screwing With Satellites Over Africa Inverse (David L)

What Ancient African Huts Reveal About Earths Magnetic Flips National Geographic (Kevin W)

Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought PhysOrg (Robert M)

You can deny environmental calamity – until you check the facts George Monbiot Guardian (PlutoniumKun)

Biography is a thoroughly reprehensible genre Spectator (Chuck L). IMHO this is silly, or at most says maybe bios of writers are a bad idea. The movie Patton was great and apparently very accurate (save due to Vietnam War, it depicted him as reckless with his men’s lives when he wasn’t; US soldiers wanted to serve in the Third Army because their odds of survival were higher).


How accurate is investment reporting on China in Africa? Asia Times. Important.

By rewriting history, Hindu nationalists aim to assert their dominance over India Reuters

Estonian district votes to get cannabis leaf flag BBC (furzy)

Germany hesitates at Weidmann’s nomination for ECB presidency Financial Times

Italy’s howl of nihilism Politico


EU rejects UK’s plans for post-Brexit trade relationship Financial Times

EU Plans Vague Trade-Deal Offer in Blow to U.K. Hopes Bloomberg. Silly headline dignifying UK fantasy. Article 50 only requires that the exit agreement be written in light of the “future relationship”. Anyone who knows anything re trade deals knows they take years to negotiate, meaning more than 2, unless you are taking terms from the US. Sir Ivan Rogers has said the UK would not get a trade pact with the EU before the early-mid 2020s.

Topambtenaar Brussel moet opstappen, vinden Europarlementariërs NOS. Translation of sorts: Dutch MPs want new head of the European Commission, Martin Selmayr, out.

Ausweichen, zögern, zugeben Der Spiegel. Also out for Selmayr’s head.

New Cold War

Putin Is Not Rattling Nuclear Sabers – It’s Real Near Eastern Outlook (Wat)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The New ID Theft: Millions of Credit Applicants Who Don’t Exist Wall Street Journal. I have no sympathy for these lenders. Giving out credit is a risky business, and if you don’t take precautions, it’s no different than leaving a safe unlocked and being surprised when you are robbed. This quote illustrates what happens when you give efficiency priority over safety and security:

“When you see this type of scheme,” said Samir Kaushal, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Mr. Lyles, at a hearing, “one realizes how precarious our system actually is.”

Google’s AI is being used by US military drone programme Guardian

MoviePass CEO proudly says the app tracks your location before and after movies TechCrunch (Chuck L)

Upgraded Deep Voice can mimic any voice in mere seconds TechXplore (Robert M) :-(

Tariff Tempest

How the Washington establishment is losing out to little-known Trump advisers on trade Washington Post (furzy)

Ramesh Ponnuru on Five Bad Arguments for Trump’s Trade Tariffs Bloomberg

Tariffs ‘almost certain’ as Gary Cohn’s exit from Donald Trump’s White House hits markets (Kevin W)

Gary Cohn to Resign as Trump’s Top Economic Adviser New York Times (UserFriendly)

Trump Confronted Cohn on Trade Hours Before Resignation Bloomberg

Kudlow on Trump’s Wish List for Cohn’s Post Washington Post (furzy)

EU’s anti-Trump hit list: Everything including the kitchen sink Politico. But not a lot of dollars in aggregate.

Trump Transition

The New Yorker Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier Moon of Alabama (UserFriendly)

Trump administration sues California over laws protecting immigrants Los Angeles Times (furzy). The article suggests that because CA passed new laws specifically to thwart Federal law, they may not fare so well in court. IMHO, CA could have achieved similar and had the added fun of driving the ICE nuts by emulating the Italians in World War II. The Italians, despite being allies of Germany, didn’t turn over any Jews to be shipped off to the death camps. And they didn’t do it like Bulgaria did, by defying them. They acted like Italians. They feigned all sorts of bureaucratic incompetence: “You wanted them on the train on Tuesday at 8:00 AM? We thought you meant last Tuesday. We wondered what happened. Now we have to go round them up again. Can’t be done by this Tuesday.”

Trump slumps on Forbes billionaires list BBC (furzy)

Stormy Daniels Sues Trump Over Nondisclosure Agreement Wall Street Journal

Social Media and the Rise of the ‘Consistent Liberal’ FAIR (UserFriendly). Important. But no consideration that stagnant wages, rising inequality, student debt, shredded social safety nets might have something to do with this picture…

Flood of legislative candidates points to enthusiasm in both parties The Hill

Kellyanne Conway Violated The Hatch Act Twice, Special Counsel Report Says Huffington Post

Sanders says new health-care plan shows Dems moving toward ‘Medicare for all’ The Hill (furzy)


Florida state Senate votes against arming most classroom teachers Reuters (EM)

The Political Economy of Massacres James Petras (UserFriendly)

LittleSis: Who Gets Rich on America’s Guns? The Public (Andrew S)

The Cult of Authority Counterpunch

A Phrase For Our Time: Merriam-Webster Adds ‘Dumpster Fire’ To Dictionary Chuck L “‘Mansplain’ also added to the dictionary.”

Lego admits it made too many bricks BBC (David L)

Home Prices Sink, Sales Plunge in Toronto Wolf Street. EM: “As Wold notes, the YoY decline doesn’t even erase last year’s blowoff-top gains. Prices still have a looooooooong way to fall to get back into reasonably-affordable range.”

Stock Bulls in Trump Country Are Freaking Out Their Brokers Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Driverless taxis have arrived: Google’s Waymo is given the green light to launch a fully autonomous self-driving cab service in Arizona Daily Mail

‘Super Monster Wolf’ a success in Japan farming trials BBC (furzy)

Opioid crisis: overdoses increased by a third across US in 14 months, says CDC Guardian

Antidote du jour. Margarita: “We could at least put the russiarussiarusiagate to good use by showcasing some bears…”

bear and cubs links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. PlutoniumKun

      As Victoria Coren (wo)mansplained in the Observer, what those women who use the term fail to understand is that men don’t ‘mansplain’ to women, that’s just how men talk and interact.

      Men simply love explaining things. That is what men want to do in conversation: make jokes and explain things. Your average man would be happy to tell Gareth Southgate how to manage the England football team, or the head of MI6 how to deal with Isis, or Stephen Hawking what he reckons about black holes.

      It isn’t about the person they’re talking to – it’s about themselves. If anything, the inclination could be seen as a compliment. They offer their nuggets of wisdom as gifts, like a cat offers a half-eaten bird.

      The use of the term is a very useful way of identifying women who don’t actually understand the first thing about men.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I have to tell you, I disagree. I’ve been in male dominated environments all my working life. Men don’t talk down to me because I send screamingly obvious signals on every bandwidth available I am not playing subordinate.

        In other settings, like dealing wth repairmen or doctors, I ask tons of questions which again is a way of asserting influence. I like having people tell me how things work.

        Even so, I finally got talked to by a man in a condescending manner recently (and this was in an area where I have some expertise) in the last year and the lightbulb went off in my head: “Oh, THAT is mansplaining. God, how do most women stand that?”

        Mind you, I think women in relationships regularly accept that sort of thing as the price of domestic peace. Yours truly is single and I would not tolerate it as a requirement for involvement.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Oh, I get that its a bad male habit, and that its horrible to be on the receiving end of it – plenty of men have found themselves on the wrong end of it as well as women (but are probably much less tolerant at it and better at stopping it dead, usually with a joke).

          Mind you, just yesterday myself and two other male colleagues sat and gritted our teeth as a notoriously loquacious female colleague spent 10 minutes telling us things which if we didn’t know already, we shouldn’t be doing our jobs. For the sake of a quiet office, our only complaint was a few knowingly exchanged glances.

          1. frosty zoom

            i’m trying to popularize the term “ladydither”, but so far the response has been somewhat cold.

            humans are quite odd in their choosings™ of whom they will or will not ridicule through stereotypes. i wonder if squirrels go through this..

          2. argonut

            I agree with you, Yves. Condescescion to a female listener is implicit in the words definition. Let’s not blur it.
            A shame there is no Spanish translation to goad a much needed awareness here.

        2. The Rev Kev

          That guy may not have been mansplaining but may have been simply acting like a bit of a dill. How you react to that sort of stuff you know best. Personally, I would have been tempted to say something along the lines of: “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have left my jacket at home. You know. The one that says ‘Qualified Expert’ on it!”

        3. JEHR

          My definition of the term which comes by way of experience is a man correcting a woman’s statement, or giving a better explanation or just pretending to not understand as though she is not quite all there. Another attribute is totally not listening when he KNOWS for sure what the real discussion is about. It is a most disheartening conversation which becomes very short on my part.

        4. Oregoncharles

          ” in a condescending manner recently (and this was in an area where I have some expertise) in the last year and the lightbulb went off in my head: “Oh, THAT is mansplaining. God, how do most women stand that?””
          “In a condescending manner” is clear communication; it says what he did wrong. “Mansplaining” is not. Women can condescend, too; it’s a human failing.

          The real problem with “mansplain” is that it’s openly sexist, because it references only gender. It’s also vague: it could refer to any number of obnoxious behaviors – most of which, again, women are also capable of, given the chance. It doesn’t serve communication, except to indicate that those using it aren’t very feminist.

          I note that Yves did not fall into that trap.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Afterthought: I think there’s a valid use, that comes in both sexes, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen it. It would be trying to speak for the other sex’s point of view. We can’t really do that; beyond human commonalities,we just don’t know. It’s like “straw-manning,” only putting thoughts in someone else’s head. And yes, I’ve seen egregious examples from “feminists.” One claimed that all men were secretly plotting rape of any woman they saw on the street. That’s a lot of damage.

            It’s easy to illustrate what’s wrong with “mansplaining:” just try out a similar use of “femsplaining.” Avalon Sparks uses it humorously, below, a sort of confession; good post.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Ahem, women as assumed subordinates and smaller and weaker than men rarely have the social capital to condescend to men. Most important, men are allowed to interrupt women while women interrupting men is barely tolerated. I do it anyhow and see men tense up.

            So men can and do prevent any attempt at female condescension by interrupting them. The only time a man might not do that is if a woman is more senior than him or otherwise has more power (say is a key decisionmaker at a client) or if in a relationship, it’s one where the woman is usually the dominant party.

            1. Oregoncharles

              You’re a role pioneer, Yves. “Not properly socialized,” I think you called it. It’s a tough but vital task; it seems to me there were more of them for a while.

              I did say “if they get the chance.” It’s an all-too-human trait, part of our social makeup. It directly expresses the social hierarchy. Hopefully, as more women move into positions of power, more will get the chance to condescend – etc. There are plenty more obnoxious behaviors that could come under “mansplain.” I assume I’m guilty of some. Bad habits die hard.

      2. a different chris

        >Your average man would be happy

        No. Your 10th percentile man, who dominates every f(amily blog)ing conversation the rest of us try to have, is happy to mansplain things. The other 90% of us, quieter, men do not.

      3. FluffytheObeseCat

        Uhh, speaking from +50 years of experience, I think reality encompasses a little of what both you and Yves have reported. Men do offer up these bits of “wisdom” to each other as well, quite unsolicited. But, they do it differently with peers, or even subordinate (e.g. younger) men, and they commonly back down better when rebuffed with “jokes” or other cues.

        I’ve yet to meet one I can’t shut up if I realllllyy wanted to. It may entail being loathed forever afterwards however, so sometimes I don’t.

    2. Simon Girty

      “Mansplain” is yet another classist neologism, attempting to shame self-reliant, thrifty proles into buying into subservience to our rentier betters: that it’s somehow beneath us to learn how to maintain, repair, educate ourselves (quite independent of culturally imposed gender stereotypes) to be skeptical, self reliant & independent. Soon, online repair manuals, independent review sites & consumer discussion boards will be SEO’d down Google’s memory hole?

      1. Spoofs

        Indeed. In consequence, this certainly enforces yet another dimension of ineptitude on the masses.

        Americans, as a result of prioritizing thier seemingly endless ability to constantly express themselves and preferences, will again conflate the intentions of thier actions with consequences of thier actions. Thus, the old forms of independence will be replaced by the only acceptable form of expression of independence left; how you present yourself in the market place.

        BTW, I have spending a lot of time recently about what kind of tattoo I should get and what the precise meaning of it might be:-)

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      So I kind of get “mansplain” and even “glamping,” but, seriously, “embiggen”???? Are words like “enlarge” or “expand” really too hard to remember, spell or conjugate?

      “Embiggen” just sounds like it was made up by some some second-grader who was too busy tapping and swiping to read to the end of the chapter.

      1. integer

        A Word The Simpsons Made Up Is Now in the Dictionary TV Guide

        It comes from a Season 7 episode called “Lisa the Iconoclast.” The episode introduced viewers to the city of Springfield’s motto, passed down from its founder Jebediah Springfield: “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”

        “Embiggens?” says schoolteacher Mrs. Krabappel. “I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield.”

        “I don’t know why,” answers Ms. Hoover. “It’s a perfectly cromulent word.”

        It’s a perfect joke that introduced two words that each entered the lexicon. But for some reason, only embiggen is going in the dictionary at this time. I don’t know why cromulent isn’t going in; it’s a perfectly cromulent word.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Cromulent is in the OED. It has an unusual use in English. Its from that episode but took on jts own meeting.

            1. ambrit

              The “Word,” the ‘term,’ or the ‘practice?’
              Democracy is perfectly described as a ‘practice,’ since humans are endlessly working towards it but never achieving it. Somewhat like meditation.

        2. RMO

          To be consistent one must also use the word “debigulate” instead of “shrink.” I’ve never understood why “cubular” isn’t an acceptable alternative to “cubic” by the way. I apologize if any of this has caused anyone to suffer pericombobulations.

          Yours interfrastically, RMO

        1. Wukchumni

          You betcha, and just watch how the democrat party gets too embiggen for it’s britches.

          1. ambrit

            We’ve already gone way past Sarah, plain and tallen. She saw Russkies off of her back porch. Now the elites see Russkies under their beds.
            “They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!”

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            That would be . . . ‘ embiggened ‘ .

            ” . . . watch how the democrat party gets too embiggened for it’s britches.”

      2. Katsue

        Embiggen was made up, or at least made famous, by the writers of the Simpsons, back when it was a good show.

          1. ambrit

            After all, boojums are snarks!
            Curious that a Victorian literateuer would so presciently define the language of the modern political discourse.

    4. Avalon Sparks

      Gosh I absolutely HATE it too. Both genders over explain things, and I’m guilty of it myself, especially when I’m explaining stuff, (how to, where something is) to my husband. I’ll stop an check myself sometimes and tell him “I’m Womansplaining, again”… we have a good laugh.

      It’s a sexist term – championed by the same folks that are supposedly against sexism.

      On a side note, regarding the little girl statue facing the Bull down on Wallstreet, my first thought was “Where is the little boy statue?” Because excuse me but it seems the majority of both genders are getting screwed over by Wallstreet, and hey there is power in numbers. :)

      1. Simon Girty

        State Street had their reasons? I’m a knuckle-dragging churl, but from a “broken family,” so my hilarious newspaper-woman mom, Type One Bipolar grandma, approximately 147 working-class, ethnic nuns and the typical amalgam of impoverished 50’s-damaged little girls & boys case-hardened each other unremittingly, according to individual propensity toward obdurate obliviousness. Bet ya, we weren’t alone in that? The entire pontificating auto-didact stereotype of prole esteem issues, inebriate grandiosity & testosterone poisoning just meant less, somehow? We’ve just watched Denzel’s character being dressed-down, for patronizing millennials in “Roman J Israel, Esq,” while Margot Robbie wordlessly installs plugs without a torque wrench in “I Tonya,” so maybe petit bourgeois acculturation is slipping? NAH!

        1. Avalon Sparks

          Thanks for the link Simon! :)
          I think I heard about the girl statue around “Women’s Day” last year, and learned of it after I just read an article about a book store that turned the male author’s books around backward on the shelf to acknowledge Women. (leaving the books authored by women the correct way) My view is that strong, self confident women do not need to disparage men in order to empower themselves. I was still eye rolling at that blurb about the bookstore when I learned of the bull girl. ;0

        2. Avalon Sparks

          Meant to add, “I Tonya” was pretty good wasn’t it? One of the few movies I’ve watched in the last year. Enjoyed it quite a bit, but maybe that’s because I have a secret crush on Margot. :)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It was another age, but when Socrates lived, instead of explaining, he just asked a lot of questions, too many to a lot of people.

        But perhaps, maybe it is time we ask more questions, instead of focusing on giving explanations….no?

        (Did I end that with a question mark?)

        1. Simon Girty

          Heck if I know? I’m simply trying to keep up with Google’s despicable spell-checker, smugly editing everything into utter gibberish, frequently 3 words away from what’s being typed. I’m presuming we’ll soon be watching our rantings be euphemized from the original eco-terrorist BernieBro, alt-left, droog Nadsat as we type… right before we hear the buzzing drone swarm slipping through the window? Our dotage will include LOTS of sage robo-splaining, I suspect?

          I end MOST things with a question mark… eh?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Is that a yes?

            Yes, we need more questions, fewer explanations?

            Also, isn’t it more likely the boss asks questions and the subordinates supply explanations?

            Isn’t that so?

            And if men do mansplain, do women in charge do womenstion?

      3. Oregoncharles

        I think the Minoan bull dancers were of both sexes – at least the pictures I’ve seen were. Apparently they jumped over the bull’s horns; they were the inspiration for the labyrinth story.

        Would make an ever better face off with the bull, if anyone recognized the reference.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m not sure, but I think that the names of the cubs are Sarmat, Kinzahl, Kanyon and Avangard :) Seriously, I know that bears are genetically related to dogs but when I see photos like this, I can almost see Husky-like faces in them and I swear that the face on the second cub from the right looks like a Standard Poodle that we have. They are certainly beautiful animals.

  1. fresno dan

    Social Media and the Rise of the ‘Consistent Liberal’ FAIR (UserFriendly). Important. But no consideration that stagnant wages, rising inequality, student debt, shredded social safety nets might have something to do with this picture…

    “….first started analyzing the US electorate in terms of political clusters—in 1988’s People, the Press and Politics report—it found, surprisingly, that “conservatives” didn’t really exist. That is, there was no significant group of voters that embraced what was then and now the overwhelming ideology of the Republican Party—socially repressive and economically favoring the rich.”
    If the dems could figure out the repub agenga is a loser, they might get somewhere (but it is not the “repub” agenda, it is the 1% agenda). Trump shows them that most repubs don’t want repub orthodoxy, but the dems, starting with the Ruskies, coddling the banks, etc., embrace it….

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ive concluded the alliance with Shrub and friends prevents any kind of counter strategy as Scarborough types largely are jealous an obvious clown is President when Morning Joe merely had an affair with his dead staffer. There is no common goal such as taking Berlin. Its closer to British imperials and Himmler squabbling over why they would be better than Goebels.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “Antonov’s embassy now releases a weekly newsletter and podcast, whose host begins each episode by saying, “Hello, America!” or “Good morning, America!” amid the energetic music of a Russian bluegrass band.”

      Oh jeez … now they’re spamming us with fake bluegrass. Lock up the banjos!

      1. Geo

        There’s actually some really fascinating country and folk coming out of the old eastern block countries. The mix of banjos, fiddles and that “Russian” accent is quite charming really.

        Found a bunch of them on while researching Ukrainian folk music for a film project. Planning to license a few of the songs for it!

        1. Jim Haygood

          … which brings up a question that has baffled scientists for decades: if Russians can play bluegrass, why can’t the French master rock ‘n roll?

        1. Avalon Sparks

          This pianist is AMAZING – you should hear the lovely Zika play Bohemian Rhapsody.
          She’s Urkanian, been trained since 4, at some point she decided to play what she likes – and that’s ROCK. It’s not blue grass, but she is the most amazing pianist I’ve ever seen. Lots of stuff on Youtube. I’m fascinated with her.

 (Bohemian – I jumped out of my chair at 3:57 and yelled “Holy “)

          Her Youtube channel is ‘vkgoeswild’ and if you’re interested there’s a lot more info on her if you web search her, like her home page.

        2. Oregoncharles

          A group my wife found that we enjoy. No idea what the words are, or even the name of the group! Appear to be Russian folk music. Very funny, entertaining videos with them. Lots of Russian cultural references, many of them lost on me.

          1st one may be a folk tale or historical allusion:
          Отава Ё – Ой, Дуся, ой, Маруся (казачья лезгинка) Otava Yo – (Cossack’s lezginka)

          Отава Ё – Сумецкая (русские частушки под драку) Otava Yo – russian couplets while fighting

          I hope the lyrics aren’t something embarrassing!

  2. allan

    For many factory towns, white collar job loss hurts the most [AP]

    ERIE, Pa. (AP) — With the abandoned smokestacks off the bay and ramshackle factories along 12th Street, it’s easy to pin the blame for this industrial city’s plight on the loss of manufacturing jobs to China and Mexico.

    Many, including President Donald Trump, hold the belief that shuttered factories are what primarily ails Erie and other aging blue-collar company towns.

    Yet since 2008, Erie has suffered a less-known and potentially more devastating exodus of well-paying white-collar jobs. Half its CEOs — 220 jobs — have disappeared. The city has shed 8 percent of its accountants, 10 percent of its computer workers, 40 percent of its engineers and 20 percent of its lawyers, according to government data analyzed by The Associated Press.

    They are the professional class jobs that buttressed Erie’s manufacturing might. And they are the type of work that has increasingly become the backbone of the U.S. economy.

    After reviewing Labor Department figures dating to 2008, the AP found that a third of major metro areas — nearly 80 communities — are shedding a greater percentage of white-collar than blue-collar jobs. …

    Community leaders in Erie note that manufacturing remains a strength for northwest Pennsylvania. But it seems impossible to restore a long-gone era of prosperity that was built on factory work.

    Erie’s General Electric locomotive plant peaked with roughly 20,000 workers just after World War II, when whirling assembly lines had helped to secure an Allied victory and an economic boom that followed helped propel growth. …

    But as the market for locomotives declined, the GE plant steadily downsized. It will soon have a headcount closer to 3,000. …

    In October, GE Transportation announced layoffs for 570 unionized workers at the locomotive plant. The move accompanied the loss of 200 management jobs at the same plant, said Scott Slawson, who represents the GE workers as the president of the local union.

    Ripple effects from previous layoffs hit more than 40 Erie companies that helped supply the factory. The company is also seeking to divest its transportation division, which is spreading uncertainty for every class of workers in Erie.

    “When that corporate jet leaves Erie, there’s not room for everyone on that jet — there’s very few seats,” Slawson said.

    Same story in upstate NY. And neither inane nationalism nor inane identity politics are going to fix it.

    1. Geo

      “A rising tide lifts all boats!”

      “I don’t own a boat.”

      “How well do you swim?”

      “Can you toss me a life preserver?”

      “Poor people just want handouts!”

      1. Jean

        Would our soldiers have fought and died if they knew what would happen to their children?

        “I fought and almost died on Guadalcanal so your bastards could cheat me out of my pension?”

  3. Marco

    Deep voice can mimic ANY voice in seconds. One of the most disturbing moments in my young childhood was watching the Terminator mimic the voice of Sarah Conner’s mother after he killed her. I did not allow my mother to answer the door for weeks. And my older brother was no longer allowed to take me to the theater again!!

        1. Brian

          We are easily fooled by what we are told can be and what truly can be. The idea that a computer can recreate the voice of specific people is not believable. Linda Hamilton simply dupes his words for him in a dub shack. That simple.
          There are far too many nuances in a voice that you know for it to be faked by anyone. If the speech goes off kilter for a part of a second, you will recognize it isn’t who you think it is, and that can’t be fixed. No machine can notice this in advance.
          Close your eyes and listen, you will notice the anomalies. Rich Little can dupe people pretty well, but he used the words and phrases that the target voice used to make it more believable. There are always holes in the final cut.

  4. Wukchumni

    An anti-census campaigner in New Zealand was hoping to avoid Wednesday’s compulsory national count by hiding in a TARDIS, it’s reported.

    The self-styled Laird McGillicuddy, otherwise known as Graeme Cairns, said he was using the Doctor Who time-travelling space craft to boycott the five-yearly census by “travelling in time”, the New Zealand Herald reports.

    Mr Cairns, who was once the leader of the satirical McGillicuddy Serious Party, has a history of unusual stunts to protest the census, which is compulsory for all New Zealanders.

    He once claimed not to be in New Zealand by hovering above the city of Hamilton in a hot-air balloon, and on another occasion declared himself “temporarily dead”.

    He risks a fine of up to NZ$500 (US$362; £261) for refusing to fill out the form, the website says. Five years ago, there were around 100 prosecutions for census avoidance.

    We were walking the Abel Tasman track one time, when NZ’s 1-day census was happening, and the hut warden gave everybody forms to fill out-including all overseas visitors. It was fun to be part of their snapshot of what the country looked like on a given day, but if there was a TARDIS handy, I might’ve gone that route instead.

    The same would’ve happened if you were staying in a hotel/motel/caravan park, etc.

    We really enjoyed the Abel Tasman walk, so different of a sojourn, in that you take a water taxi 20 to 60 miles and it drops you off and you walk back as the trail takes you by beautiful beaches and then into the bush aways, and back and forth. We stayed overnight @ 4 huts along the way both times we hiked it, which is a great way to meet the world on neutral ground, as typically only 10-20% will be from NZ. Bring a bunch of earplugs to share, as there’ll be 50-60 folks sleeping in near proximity to one another, an out of tune symphony of snorers.

    1. nycTerrierist

      will be interested to see what she proposes
      re: concrete material benefits
      e.g. single-payer, affordable education, infrastructure (NY mass transit), etc.

      1. nycTerrierist

        On further reflection…
        Obama was known for ‘soaring’ oration — and when it came time to
        walk the walk — did a U-turn every time, right back to the status quo…

        color me skeptical

  5. JacobiteInTraining

    Hah, yet more evidence the Russians are able to penetrate, delete, exfiltrate, and inebriate at will. Devilishly clever, these Slavic computer wizards!!!

    I’m piling sandbags and building a concrete-reinforced bunker around my voter registration entry out here on the left coast…the Russians they…they….SHALL NOT PASS! *slaps magazine into evil black assault-style firearm authoritatively* They will have to get through me first, if they want to tamper with MY voting registration record!!!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is this like the time in 2016 when the New York City Board of Elections purged 200,000 voters illegally from the rolls and were caught at it? Then the Department of Justice, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman went after them and brought them to justice.
      The Board of Elections then said that they were sorry, didn’t know how it happened and totally promised never to do it again. And nobody went to jail. Not even talk of having the elections redone in those areas where people’s votes were taken away from them. It’s not an assault-style firearm that you need but a pitchfork and torch.

      1. Wukchumni

        “It’s not an assault-style firearm that you need but a pitchfork and torch.”

        We were at the Beach Boys concert last week, and before one song, the band requested that people turn their smartphone light on and wave to the music, so most everybody did, save a few holdouts such as me, grasping a lit torch in the guise of a Bic.

        1. Procopius

          That’s interesting. I wonder if my phone has a light? Other then the screen, I mean. I’ve seen episodes in the soap operas on TV where somebody uses their smartphone as a flashlight. There was even an ad for milk, being touted for making your kid smarter than average, where the kid used his phone’s light to find the emergency button in a stuck elevator, this saving everybody from a horrifying death by suffocation. I really should google it.

    2. JohnnyGL

      In most democracies, voters choose their representatives.

      Here in America, our representatives choose their voters….and purge the ones they don’t like so much!

      Yet another barrier establishment Dems have to protect themselves against upstarts. The upstarts have to persuade voters to vote for them, and get those voters registered, repeatedly.

  6. lyman alpha blob

    RE: MoviePass CEO proudly says the app tracks your location before and after movies

    Yeah the tracking is awful and all, but do kids these days really need an app to help them find a movie theater? Will they be wearing sweaters with their names knitted across the chest so they can remember who they are? Or will they need an app for that too?

    Is there someone out there who can explain what use this could possibly have? The article doesn’t really make it clear and I’m at a loss.

    1. Dr. Roberts

      MoviePass is a scheme where you pay $10 a month and you can see as many movies as you want for free. I’ve been using it for a few months and honestly it’s hard to find two movies worth going to every month to make the thing pay off.

      1. pretzelattack

        no kidding, the theatre down the street has 4 dollar first run movies and i still rarely go.

    2. jefemt

      Why track? Same old story: sell the data. Or, as Donal’ the Orange so proudly extolls, “Monetize it!”

      Moviepass offers the feature to members as a ‘free’ benefit. If it’s free, you are the product.

      Moviepass sells data to those who want to capture the cash that flows from the mostly adolescent to Millenial smartphones– that pass holder that went to the movies– where are they next headed?

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      From the moviepass representative:

      We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night.

      “Enhanc[ing] the ‘overall experience’ ” seems to be the universal absolution claimed for any and all, otherwise corrosive and intrusive, data collection schemes these “innovative” techies can devise. As if commercials, location-based or otherwise, ever “enhanced” any experience worth having.

    4. Kurtismayfield

      So they are after the same information that Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have on you. What I don’t understand is wouldn’t be it be more effective to have just one database instead of all of these competing ones? Or is that what the NSA is for?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yeah that’s the thing I find so stupid about all this data mining – more and more companies are just selling lists back and forth and there has to be quite a bit of overlap, so why are they being paid so much for it all?

        Same with Google and Facebook overestimating the reach of their ads and customers fall for it to the point where those companies own half the planet. Google can say their ads do such and such and got so many clicks, but how does anybody really know it’s true?

        At some point you’d think companies shelling out the big bucks would catch on to the scams these platforms are running, but the practice seems to be accelerating, not dying down.

        Seems to me all they’re selling with these data lists is the promise of riches to some other company rather than anything tangible. I just don’t get it.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Facebook is constantly urging me to “boost” some post or other. I’ve paid them small sums to do so, with nowhere near the results they claimed I’d get. The last one, though, I had dual-posted to Instagram. Initially, it looked terrific—more than a thousand hits.

          Then, when the data came in, all but a handful were in Brazil. Not that the book isn’t available there, but it couldn’t be any clearer to me Facebook is still using their “responder farm” scam.

  7. integer

    Darwin Award contender:

    Man shot and killed at Texas house party after putting on bulletproof vest, police say Fox

    A man was shot and killed early Sunday morning at a Texas house party after he put on a bulletproof vest and said to his friend, “shoot me,” according to reports.

    “[Barber] goes ‘shoot me.’ Well, [Griffin] didn’t think there was nothing in it, and he did. And the dude went ‘[expletive] that hurt’ and then he dropped. And then Jason ripped the vest off of him and tried to help him,'” Warstler told KTRK.

    1. fresno dan

      March 7, 2018 at 8:28 am

      I’d say the guy has a great basis for a breach of implied warranty of merchantability for a defective design case…..

      1. integer

        Heh. In an ironic twist, the deceased had purchased the “bullet-proof” jacket earlier that night from the same person who ended up shooting him.

        1. Edward E

          Know why Forrest Gump passed over the University of Houston? He saw all the diplomas being displayed on dash boards so they could park in handicap spaces.

  8. Livius Drusus

    Re: Italy’s howl of nihilism, even if you disagree with populism calling the results of the Italian election a “howl of nihilism” seems to disregard the very real issues that are causing Italians to be angry. Most obvious is the high unemployment in the country, especially among the young.

    Another issue is the migration crisis. Unlike settler states such as the U.S., Canada and Argentina and unlike the former major colonial powers like Great Britain and France, Italy doesn’t have a recent history of mass immigration and a culture of assimilation. Traditionally the migration pattern has worked in the opposite direction with poor Italians migrating to North and South America, Australia and the wealthier countries of Europe.

    1. Sid Finster

      Silly proles just don’t know what’s good for them – or uppity proles don’t know how good they have it?

    2. DJG

      Thanks, Livius Drusus. Giuliano Ferrara indeed. I’d read anything by him with una cucchiaiata of salt. He’s like David Brooks but with more of a sense of being on a civilizing mission. And we’re the ones to be civilized.

      I read an article that went up yesterday at La Stampa in which Governor Chiamperino of Piedmont does not rule out a coalition of the left (PD) plus 5 Stars. Repubblica was running a voluntary poll, always untrustworthy but one more datum, in which the majority of respondents opted for a PD + 5Stars coalition (with LEU!! thrown in, maybe).

      So I don’t see the nihilism. I do see Renzi acting the Hillary Clinton and refusing to resign. Yet the party leaders in Umbria (where the PD should never have lost) and Friuli Venezia Giulia (where PD didn’t have much of a chance) resigned.

      Italy is contradictory on migration and immigration, so I’m going to quibble. Southern Italy was Magna Grecia, a fact that all Italians are aware of. There are still a dozen or so villages where Greek is spoken. There is a long history of receiving refugees from the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. Witness the Armenians in Venice, the Albanian villages in Sicily, and the sprinkling of Orthodox churches throughout the country.

      The advantage that the Italians have is that Italian culture–which is what defines Italians anyway, because they aren’t a “race”–assimilates immigrants even faster than U.S. culture does. Children born of immigrants in Italy are completely assimilated, so far as I can tell. This is the Italian way out of the crisis. But it sure would help if the U S of A wasn’t messing around murderously in the Middle East and North Africa, now wouldn’t it? Libya, Syrian, and Iraq might actually have governments…

      1. DJG

        And, now that I’m thinking of it, the Italian Jewish community is made up of an ancient settlement in Rome–the oldest outside Palestine. The Jewish communities of the north are made up of immigrants and refugees. In Piedmont, the immigrant House of Savoy, originally from Chambéry in France, tolerated a diverse Jewish community. And the reason that Venice has five synagogues is that each serves a wave of Jewish immigration.

        So the crisis in Italy resembles the crisis in immigration in Greece: The destruction of governments and countries in the Middle East creates refugees, and just take a look at Italy and Greece in the geography of the Mediterranean. Endless war de-stabilizes everything.

        1. Sid Finster

          I thought that the Jewish settlements in Ethiopia were almost as ancient as those in Palestine, long before there was a Rome to settle?

          I may be wrong, however.

      2. Brian

        Hear hear DJG; the author forgets how many governments there have been in Italia since they bounced Franco, can we say dozens? I am going on faulty memory here but the average is closer to a couple years per government. Now that there is uncertainty that the mafia can organize a government in their heartland when the citizens voted 5 Star, even Silvio is going to have to join the mafia if he wants to make a difference. Movemiento Cinco Stelle aims to fight corruption and has hit a nerve that interrupts the graft and many finely quaffed hair suits are now burning.
        Italy got angry when Brussels told them what to do and chose a path that diverges from the dictat. They have come to realize that Merkel and Brussels running things wasn’t going to benefit them. This is going to cause other countries to change course and challenge the orders from Waffle. We are starting to see a lot of EU GDP looking at another direction.

    3. Procopius

      The word “populism” seems to have undergone serious change since I was a kid. I always thought people like Lincoln Steffens and Bob LaFollette were populists. I thought The Kingfish was a fascist. As I understand it, nowadays it’s Huey Long who would be called a populist and Steffens and LaFollette would be called Communists.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Stocks are set to get smacked at the open on Gary Cohn’s resignation as economic adviser. Marketwatch:

    At a meeting with steel and aluminum executives last Thursday where Trump announced the move, Cohn argued against it, warning about price increases for steel and aluminum products, according to a person in the room.

    Last Thursday Trump canceled a meeting that Cohn arranged for him with companies that use steel and aluminum in their products, in an effort to dissuade the president from imposing the tariffs.

    In the S&P 500 are three primary metals producers, versus 70 metal consumers in the industrial sector. Cohn patiently tried to teach the Wharton whacko to do this math on his fingers and toes but failed.

    Now there’s nothing to be done but let stocks puke their guts out as the June 1930 analogue heaves into view with Pretzeldent Herbert Hoover Trump in the White House. “A hundred dollars buys this Stutz Bearcat,” etc

    1. Self Affine

      I think G. Cohn was just waiting for the right opportunity to leave and it really has very little to do with tariffs. Any reasonable excuse would have done just as well.

      He’s a Goldman guy and probably wants to get back to the Investment Banking world. I don’t blame him – he’s a made man in that space.

    2. a different chris

      >In the S&P 500 are three primary metals producers, versus 70 metal consumers in the industrial sector.

      That’s a hard fact that tells us absolutely….nothing.

    3. ewmayer

      1) Broken record: Repeating the same point over and over again, especially when it’s long been refuted. That includes taking an argument that was rebutted on one post and repeating the same argument on another post.

      Multiple broken-recordisms here:

      o Inferring macroeconomic goodness/badness from short-term market moves;

      o Blaming Smoot-Hawley for the Great Depression w/o considering trade balances then-vs-now and a myriad of other factors;

      o Repeated dogmatic claims of “protectionism bad!” which ignore contrary data.

      And the peurile name-calling in post after post of this type ain’t helping your arguments, either.

  10. marym

    Native-born Texans commit more crimes than undocumented immigrants, study finds

    Native-born Texans are more likely to commit crimes and get arrested than immigrants, a new study suggests.

    Using data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, researchers from the conservative think tank Cato Institute found the arrest rate for undocumented immigrants was 40 percent below that of native-born Texans.

    The figures show that in 2015, undocumented immigrants were arrested at a rate of 2,148.6 per 100,000, while native-born Texans were arrested at a rate of 3,577.9 per 100,000.

    1. The Observer

      So then, with fewer immigrants, MORE Texans can commit crimes? Or the same criminal Texans can commit more crimes? Just joking

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we assume all people are born equally capable of committing crimes, does expecting life to be worse (and seeing life indeed has gotten worse in the last several decades), versus expecting life to be better (maybe in a new setting), make any difference in committing crimes?

        We shouldn’t be this exceptional.

    2. M Raymond Torres

      This looks meaningless on the face of it. Arrests don’t equal crimes committed. Arrests don’t even equal crimes reported.

      One can think of many factors that might account for the reported difference in arrests. Better data, please.

      1. marym

        From the CATO study referenced by the Houston Chronicle

        The vast majority of research finds that immigrants do not increase local crime rates and that they are less likely to cause crime and less likely to be incarcerated than their native-born peers.3 There is less research on illegal immigrant criminality, but what research there is shows that illegal immigrants have lower incarceration rates nationwide and in the state of Texas relative to native-born Americans, although they have the same rates of re-arrest in Los Angeles County.4 Consistent with those findings, immigration enforcement programs targeting illegal immigrant criminals have no effect on local crime rates, which indicates that they are about as crime prone as other residents.5

        Footnotes 3-5 reference other studies.

        Politifact: MOSTLY TRUE: Undocumented immigrants less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens

        Includes multiple references including 2017 National Academy of Sciences study, another CATO study, a and a report from the American Immigration Council. There’s also a discussion of criticism and limitations of some of the data.

        1. marym

          Adding: Reporting on the issue of immigrant crime uses data on arrests, convictions, incarceration, and crime rates relative to immigrant population changes.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          MOSTLY TRUE: Undocumented immigrants less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens

          This only works if one doesn’t consider their being here illegally, i.e. “undocumented,” a crime. If you do, 100% of them are guilty of a crime, and the discussion involves additional or multiple crimes.

          This could change the picture considerably. Just “technically” sayin’.

          1. marym


            Some may assume that all immigrants who are in the United States without legal status must have committed improper entry. This simply isn’t the case. Many foreign nationals legally enter the country on a valid work or travel visa, but fail to exit before their visa expires for a variety of reasons.

            But mere unlawful presence in the country is not a crime. It is a violation of federal immigration law to remain in the country without legal authorization, but this violation is punishable by civil penalties, not criminal.

            In the case of Dreamers, there’s also the particular circumstance of their illegal entry having been beyond their control.

            For comparison purposes wouldn’t your argument also need to identify how many US citizens in a particular study have previously committed crimes?

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Sometimes, people issue apologies for what one’s parents or ancestors did and make reparations, for example, for moving in (without permission) and settling down on natives’ homes or countries.

              But that gets a little tricky, for the natives sometimes, or often times, themselves took land from some other earlier natives.

              One solution to a mess like that may be to just let’s all forget about it. Another is for those connected to issue apologies.

            2. Katniss Everdeen

              I stand technically corrected, although, in light of the distinction between civil and criminal, the rationale for the designation escapes me.

              The American legal system is comprised of two very different types of cases, civil and criminal. Crimes are generally offenses against the state, and are accordingly prosecuted by the state. Civil cases on the other hand, are typically disputes between individuals regarding the legal duties and responsibilities they owe one another. These cases are adjudicated through civil lawsuits.


              When you sue someone for damages, such as in an assault or defamation suit, you are engaging in a civil court action. The legal justice system is divided into two main courts: criminal and civil. Criminal courts try defendants for crimes against the state (hence, “The People” of a given state are the named plaintiffs), while civil courts try cases alleging wrongs by one party against another. Also, criminal convictions result in fines, incarceration, public service, or other such sentences, while civil cases determine whether the defendant is financially liable for the plaintiff’s injuries


              1. marym

                Adding to my question:

                For comparison purposes wouldn’t your argument also need to identify how many US citizens in a particular study have previously committed crimes?

                wouldn’t the argument then also need to identify how many US citizens in a particular study have previously been determined liable in a civil case?

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  I know this does not help your argument, but I would assume that the reason visa violations are not criminalized is that that would entail putting them through a criminal justice process, which means keeping them in the US longer for no reason, since officials can just deport them.

                  And I have to tell you in many other countries, you overstay your visa and you get tossed out plenty fast.

                  1. marym

                    I’m generally pro-immigration, but I try to check my bias on responding to an anti-immigrant or anti-immigration argument. I’ve actually been trying to figure out what my argument is here, as today’s discussion has proceeded. I think it’s this:

                    When politicians and others promote fear of immigrants as dangerous criminals, and cite this danger to justify personal bigotry or deportation policy, they don’t mean the danger to others of over-staying a visa, or sneaking over a border as such. The studies just don’t seem to indicate that this particular (crime/civil offense) is a predictor any greater potential danger than that presented by citizens. This weakens the “danger of criminality” as a valid argument against immigrants.

              2. bob

                C’mon, just say it. It’s on the tip of your touge–

                Illegal Immigrants. Making an entire group of ‘outsiders’ illegal.

                Illegal people, technically speaking, right? Who gave them the right to personhood?

                I’ve always thought that the distinction between civil and criminal in this area was to keep ‘illegals’ out of criminal court, where they actually may have more rights. Being granted personhood by being dragged into criminal court lets them have access to an attorney. No such guarantees in civil procedures. You’re lucky to get a blanket on the floor while waiting 6 months for your one way trip *where ever*, as long as it isn’t here.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  When is it illegal and when is it undocumented?

                  When someone brings in an adorable but endangered bird, for example, is that illegal or undocumented?

    3. Kurtismayfield

      This has never been a good argument, that illegal immigration brings more crime. What is a good argument against it is the wage suppression that comes with it.

      1. marym

        Employers not hiring illegal immigrants would probably suppress a lot of illegal immigration.

      2. Oregoncharles

        When the economy collapsed after the Great Financial Collapse, so did immigration, especially non-legal. It went negative for a while there – people going back home because there weren’t jobs here.

    4. David

      You’ve left out the numbers for legal immigrants. Their arrest rate was 697.6 per 100,000. Lower than both natives and illegals.

      For conviction rates (per 100,000):
      Natives: 1,794
      Illegals: 782
      Legals: 262

      Legal is still better.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Instead of explanations, I have some questions.

        1. Do natives commit more crimes, after immigrants came? We have to compare rates before and after.

        2. Do illegal immigrants commit crimes at the same rates here and at their home countries?

        2a. If they commit more here (not versus natives, but versus themselves here and home), is it due to some nature of our society here?

        2b. If the commit less here, is it due to the fact that only the more model or virtuous people who are here (the bad ones stay home)? That is, is there something about our society that we attract virtuous people who want to come here?

  11. Hana M

    Some background on Gary Cohn and aluminum. Way back in the 1990s Cohn was trading commodity futures for Goldman and got the company into the physical storage business. This proved a lucrative venture, providing not only a window on commodity flows, but also an opportunity to hedge futures contract exposure. Years later Coca Cola sued Goldman

    During the summer of 2011, officials at the London Metal Exchange got an unexpected complaint from The Coca-Cola Company. The amount of physical aluminum in storage was piling up, said a representative of the soda maker, and, along with it, so was the expense of buying the metal for beverage containers.

    The culprit, as Coke saw it, wasn’t simple supply and demand—in fact, there was plenty of aluminum sitting in warehouses. It was the shrewd tactics of Goldman Sachs, the bank that owned a network of metal-storage facilities in the Detroit vicinity, where waiting times for extracting aluminum were longer than ever. Every day those metal bars sat idle, Goldman’s warehouse company effectively drove up the premium amount that aluminum producers could charge for delivering supplies to beverage-packaging factories, a cost that amplified the expense of the actual metal and, thus, the prices Coke and others paid for soda cans.

    “The situation has been organized artificially to drive premiums up,” said Dave Smith, Coke’s head of strategic procurement, at an industry conference that June. “It takes two weeks to put aluminum in, and six months to get it out.”

    Excerpted from “The Secret Club That Runs the World: Inside the Fraternity of Commodity Traders,” by Kate Kelly.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Even big aluminum doesn’t want Trump’s tariffs, says CNN —

      The Aluminum Association told the president in an open letter that it is “deeply concerned” by the damage a global aluminum tariff could inflict on US jobs and production.

      The letter added that a general tariff could hurt American manufacturers that don’t make raw aluminum but rely on aluminum to make their products, such as aluminum foil. Far more Americans work in those types of downstream companies than in aluminum manufacturing.

      The United States imports more than 90% of the 5.5 million tons of aluminum it uses each year, so a 10% tariff would be hard on many American companies.

      Jim McGreevy, CEO of The Beer Institute, said a tariff would cost the beverage industry millions of dollars and lead to thousands of layoffs.

      Even Hershey, which uses aluminum foil to wrap its chocolate Kisses and steel to build plants, said the policy could “have a negative impact on the entire U.S. economy.”

      Messin’ with mens’ beer and ladies’ chocolate — we’re fed up, ain’t gonna take it no more.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I must’ve missed the part where Hershey was building so many “plants” that a steel tariff would put a crimp in their plans.

        On the other hand, more expensive new aluminum might make recycling more cost effective. Isn’t that how this whole “market” thing is supposed to work?

        And on the other, other hand, maybe less chocolate and beer would lead to less obesity and a reduction in american “healthcare” costs.

        But then again, maybe the “economy” can’t handle too many good things at once. B*tching about changing anything would seem to be the more acceptable course. The economy being so robust and all.

      2. integer

        I’m not sure beer cans are a good example. Using the current Aluminum Futures End of Day Settlement Price, I calculate the current raw material cost of one aluminum can to be a little less than 3.4 cents. A 10% tariff will increase that cost to 3.7 cents. A six pack should therefore only cost approximately 2 cents more than it did before the tariff was implemented. Hardly a big deal.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With everything, there are winners and losers.

        For example, the American War of Independence.

        So, the focus will have to be broader, to include losers and winners, and also longer, including the short, immediate and long term effects.

        And sometimes, doing what one believes to be right can trump those cost considerations. One thinks over whether this is what one believes.

        1. Jim Haygood

          According to AISI (American Iron and Steel Institute) 140,000 winners work in the steel-making industry but more than six million losers work in industries that make stuff FROM steel.

          Almost 43 times more losers than winners, as sunset industries get a political gift while what’s left of US manufacturing gets gratuitously punched in the teeth.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Those 140,000 workers can have more to spend, or not have to spend less.

            That difference in ‘more spending/less not-spending’ puts money into an economy of hundreds of millions of workers – they get more work.

          2. Self Affine

            I don’t understand your statement about 43 time more losers. Are you saying that all the industries that make stuff from steel will close down because of this, or get lower wages?

            That needs some clarification and data – not just a statement.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        The Beer Institute is not “Big Aluminum”. They BUY aluminum, not make it.

        Of all places, Fox News interviewed an actual aluminum co exec. If the tariffs go through, he is reopening a plant in Hunstville that they had to shutter in the 2014 40% price collapse. Will employ 200 people.

        He also points out that aluminum can buyers did NOT lower product prices in 2014, and if the tariffs went through and were passed on in full, it would increase the price of a sixpack by one and one half cents. Think that is gonna deter anyone from buying beer or Coke?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      This was quite a scandal at the time, or at least as much of a scandal as any gs “market” manipulation was allowed to be, which is to say, not much and short-lived.

      But, in the current environment, any person fired by Trump, regardless of how slimy, skips beatification and proceeds directly to canonization. Prior bad acts notwithstanding.

      Good riddance of bad vampire squid rubbish, I say.

    3. a different chris

      See, you gotta understand that when a country does it, it’s bad. When a little clique of 0.1 percenters do it, it is just business.

      The first is bad primarily, maybe exclusively, because it interferes with the second.

  12. Romancing The Loan

    Consent Factory has a new essay that touches on how forcing belief (or the outward manifestations of it) in something ridiculous is a staple of cults, although I’d love to have seen some examples that went a little further in-depth.

    I find most “nonpolitical” people will acknowledge the basic premises of Russiagate make no sense if pressed, but I lose them when I start talking about how watching the Big Lie get trumpeted from every direction simultaneously is frighteningly like living in a Phillip K. Dick short story.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Yes. When it’s this pervasive, you wonder what’s going to happen to the people that don’t pass.

    1. djrichard

      CJ Hopkins goes deeper on this point in one of his previous articles . It’s not to separate the true believers from the doubters. Rather it’s kind of like wanting to be popular. You’ll do anything.

      By the way, regarding cults, check out the “death tape” of the Jonestown massacre, where they collectively resign themselves to the decision to do mass suicide. It’s not creepy. Rather, they sound sane and normal. I thought of it as society on a small scale. And that’s when you realize, if their collective decision making apparatus was compromised, how much is ours?

      [If you do check out the “death tape”, for context, recommend reading the wiki on Jonestown and watching the youtube videos of congressman Ryan’s visit that just preceeds that. There’s a script too of the “death tape” that helps in following along.]

    1. edmondo

      Before you cheer too loudly, the DCCC are the ones who won here. By raising Ms. Mosler’s profile- a candidate who has lived in Northern Virginia most of her adult life – she moved back to Texas to run for Congress from the district she grew up in – they managed to take the air out of the only candidate who explicitly said he was in favor of Jason Westin. Westin was gaining traction in the primary and probably would have won the second runoff slot if the DCCC hadn’t attacked Mosler. By attacking her they managed to knock out the guy who knows the medical system inside and out as a physician and hence wanted Medicare for all. The “progressive” Mosler – she is considered a progressive because she’s anti-Trump (I guess Mitt Romney is a progressive too by that criterion – doesn’t even have an “Issues” page on her website, usually a warning sign to anyone who reads NC with regularity. She never says Medicare for all. I doubt she ever will.

      The whole affair is basically a joke anyway. There is no way the Dems are going to turn this district. Hillary carries it because it is wealthy, educated and as white as a hockey game. She was the safe choice against the “agitator” Trump in 2016. Now that The Donald has proved to be a standard Republican – pro-oil, pro-MIC and most of all, pro-tax cut – this district will vote GOP by it’s usual 10-to-14 percentage points it usually does.

      Lambert can cross this one off his list. It ain’t going nowhere

    2. allan

      All the News Conventional Wisdom That’s Fit to Print chimes in:

      Jonathan Martin @jmartNYT

      The real danger for Texas Ds has nothing to do w Beto, who was always a long-shot,
      it’s if their #tx23 #tx7 noms are too liberal for the CDs

      Isn’t it time that Merriam-Webster added Timesplaining?

  13. Jim Haygood

    Let’s demolish the house we built for ourselves:

    Simon Johnson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said the concern is that [Trump adviser Peter] Navarro will push Trump to “step outside” the multilateral trade system, including the World Trade Organization that was designed and built by the U.S. after World War II.

    “The irony is not that we built and were central to the creation of the multilateral trade system but that it was deliberately, 100% built entirely with the goal of America first,” Johnson said.

    “Reports used to depict Mr. Navarro as stalking the halls near the Oval Office waiting for opportune moments to slip in and bend the President’s ear. Apparently, he succeeded,” wrote Lawrence Martin, writing in Canada’s Globe and Mail, who called him “Ottawa’s worst nightmare.”

    Since long before Nafta, North America’s auto industry — a heavy consumer of both steel and aluminum — has been integrated as if the US-Canadian didn’t exist. Post-Nafta, Mexico joined the cross-border auto manufacturing network as well.

    Casually tossing a pipe wrench into its gears is an excellent way to break sh*t and tear things up.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Here’s a chart comparing Toronto’s TSX index [black line] to New York’s S&P 500 [in orange]:

        While the patterns mirror each other, Canada has underperformed the US by a full 15% in the past 12 months — probably for good reason, as the US turns nasty, nativist and nationalist.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          “The irony is not that we built and were central to the creation of the multilateral trade system but that it was deliberately, 100% built entirely with the goal of America first,” Johnson said.

          This is the nasty part, that nativist and nationalist people are waking up to – the goal of American corporations first, and not American workers first.

          People might want to re-do WTO, to make it better, of course.

          1. Jim Haygood

            News flash:


            When an economist with a degree from Hahhhhvid tells you everything is bullish, first check that he didn’t swipe your wallet … then run like hell.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I would argue that the WTO was built for American corporations, not the American people.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Please—these are not “American corporations,” except maybe by original incorporation (“corporate Caesarian”?) in the US. These are post-supranational “legal entities” with dang little connection to “the US” except (as it has always been since the Mayflower landed) as a lootable land mass full of extractables and cohorts of wage slaves. And, maybe, continuing to smirk at having pwned the Lawgiver Engines of Making Looting Legitimate, until the last of those “TPP-style ‘trade agreements’ and extinction of any and all national or local health, safety and economic fairness laws and regulations” via ISDS racketeering have been made “all nice and legal.” Cf Monsanto, Amazon and so many others.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Driverless taxis have arrived: Google’s Waymo is given the green light to launch a fully autonomous self-driving cab service in Arizona Daily Mail

    When they become available in New York, I imagine that future version of driverless taxis will be programmed to give stock tips for passengers.

    All things being equal, I’d prefer human ones who offer such services.

    “But how will I unload the suitcases in the trunk? They are quite heavy.”

    Here, it’s not insane to try more of the same…more tech. By more tech, I mean lift-gates and wheeled, self-driving suitcases.

    1. Wukchumni

      Seeing as Arizona is already a crass-test-dummy politically, why not make it a crash-test-dummy figuratively as well?

  15. Self Affine

    Martin Selmayr is also known as “Juncker’s Monster” in the German press. He is universally despised for numerous reasons.

    Why Juncker is actively promoting this managerial parasite and crass opportunist is unclear. With any luck they will get rid of him.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought PhysOrg (Robert M)

    That’s like marrying someone rich and not getting other baggage, or marrying someone attractive, with all other things being equal.

    Is that possible, getting some feature you desire, keeping everything else equal?

    Or does it come with other inter-connected stuff?

  17. Jason Boxman

    If you’re referring to General George S. Patton, he died in 1945 in a car accident in Berlin not long after the war concluded.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I am familiar with that but that is not accurate.

      He was severely injured, paralyzed from a spinal fracture, and was being treated in a German hospital. The Americans insisted on transporting him back to the US for medical care even though the German hospital he was in was top notch. Patton died en route.

      The CT wing of Patton fans think his death was no accident. Patton had made himself extremely controversial in the occupation of Germany for not purging Nazis aggressively enough and worse justifying his stance to the press, creating bad headlines. His argument was basically he had to run big sections of the country and these people knew what to do, and some former Nazis had joined the party the same way Americans joined one of our political parties, as in they weren’t all that committed and/or were doing it because they had to. Comparing Nazis to Democrats and Republicans drove the Joint Chiefs and US pols crazy (BTW we didn’t purge Japanese affiliated with the government in Japan; initially, the very top cadre was eliminated from government slots, then when Socialists did very well in elections, the old militarist right wingers were allowed back).

      Patton also came from a very wealthy CA family. The theory was there was no good medical reason to move him and just about every reason not to. There are even people who argue the car crash was no accident, that when Patton came back to the US he’d be a loose cannon (but he had a driver, which meant if you were to believe someone wanted Patton dead, they were willing to take out others to do it).

  18. fresno dan

    The Cult of Authority Counterpunch

    On a recent episode of “Intercepted,” Glenn Greenwald, James Risen, and Jeremy Scahill, three millionaire celebrity journalists employed by a billionaire to provide the masses with fearless, adversarial journalism, debated, for approximately fifty-seven minutes, whether Donald Trump might be guilty of treason.
    Do I think Trump is guilty of treason? Yes, yes I do. But not the standard turn over the nuclear codes and Russian tanks roll down fifth avenue (Question: how would Russian plutocracy FUNDAMENTALLY differ from American plutocracy???). No, its the treason to the constitution – rule of law having long been supplanted to the ideal of the “market” making as much money as possible as the first, foremost, and only ideal of the country.
    I think Trump is destroying the country just like all the other neoliberals – the nation, the country is not as important as making a buck off the country – a country existing solely to have an efficient payments system. Just like plenty of industrialists were willing to make a buck off that little mustached German paper hanger.

    1. Jim Haygood

      It took the likes of John Brennan — arguably a traitor himself — to point out the obvious, that the orange fruitcake is a total charlatan.

      To your question, I reckon Russian plutocracy would fix New York’s manky old subway. Moscow’s underground gets 4.5 stars on tripadvisor, with rave reviews.

      1. makedoanmend

        The Moscow Metro:

        “…Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union…

        …The Moscow Metro, a state-owned enterprise,[2] is 349.4 km (217.1 mi) long and consists of twelve lines and 212 stations[3] organized in a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, with the majority of rail lines running radially from the centre of Moscow to the outlying areas.”

        Sorry, the devil made me do it…:-)

      2. perpetualWAR

        At least NYC has a subway. Seattleites are mired in bumper-to-bumper with no relief in sight!

        1. a different chris

          Hey they fetched the tunnel machine out of the ground, didn’t they? Whaddya want? ;)

    2. Anon

      Counterpunch article may be a bit “snarky”.

      I watched the video of the three millionaires (not that unusual; I’m one myself—Big Deal! It only seems rich because so many have so little.) GG essentially destroys Risen in the debate (although somewhat collegially).

      Treason is defined very specifically in the Constitution. While Trump is a vile scoundrel, treason is not what the evidence suggests.

  19. allan

    Here’s how much it costs to mine a single bitcoin in your country [Marketwatch]

    … However, because bitcoin’s protocol operates on a proof-of-work basis—meaning it requires an expenditure of computing power—both the power and difficulty of problems increase as miners approach the maximum number of bitcoin’s meant to exist at 21 million. Currently, there are about 16.9 million bitcoins in existence.

    The mainstream attention around bitcoin as it hit a peak level at $20,000 last December has led to an outcropping of digital miners and mining operations.

    So, where is the cheapest place to mine bitcoin?

    According to research conducted by Elite Fixtures, the cost of mining a bitcoin varies significantly around the world, from as little as $531 to a stunning $26,170. …

    That bargain-basement $531 shows the sunny side of hyperinflation.

    1. a different chris

      God these people are idiots.

      I grow corn. I exchange it for the coin of the realm, in order to displace my purchase of necessary winter goods. The wider group processes similar exchanges, with a ideally not-too-large caste of workers skimming a bit to support said realm.

      Bitcoin is created from scratch. The stuff used to create it, electricity, is gone. No longer available. Kaput, Finished. It’s dead, Jim. What are the other holders of Bitcoin intending to trade it for?

      Yeah somehow this coin has value. W.T.F.

      1. audrey jr

        The physical world beats ‘magical thinking’ – bitcoin – every time.
        That said, I would like someone to find a way to get rid of these idiotic Central Banks which are keeping us proles in a never ending death spiral to the bottom.
        Intercept story: I thought Scahill had purged himself of Pierrre Omidyar. The fact that the Intercept has hired James Risen is going to make me look a lot longer and harder at whatever narrative they’re going to be pushing in future.

  20. Bill Smith

    “Putin Is Not Rattling Nuclear Sabers – It’s Real”

    This claims the US / Trump has given up the policy of “No First Use”. Has the US ever had that policy. I thought the US has always refused to agree to that.

    How good is that article given that mistake?

    1. David

      As I have pointed out several times recently, first use of (tactical) nuclear weapons was NATO doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it’s hard to have any faith in a story whose author seems to think that anti-ballistic missiles are for targeting the enemy’s launch sites.

      1. steelyman

        I guess I read the article differently. Here’s the line I think you object to:
        “It opened the door for the Pentagon and for NATO to encircle Russia with a ring of ballistic missile defense systems aimed at Russian nuclear missile launch sites.”

        I interpreted “aimed at Russian nuclear missile launch sites” as targeting the missiles to be launched from those Russian ballistic missile launch sites. Which would be the dedicated purpose of an ABM system like the ones NATO/US are setting up in Romania and Poland.

        Also it’s been noted, here on NC and other sites, that it wouldn’t take long to re-program those ABM facilities to an offensive capability.

  21. JEHR

    Marshall Auerback has written an article that explains nicely the power that Trump holds over his base, over the media and over the American population. The more that Trump is reviled, the more entrenched he will become.

  22. perpetualWAR

    Google’s employees shocked and concerned about their AI program to be used by the military. What did they think they were working for, an altruistic company? Give me a break!

  23. Andrew Watts

    RE: Biography is a thoroughly reprehensible genre

    Most of the biographies being written in the present are portraits of hagiography or devolve into hachet jobs on whomever is the subject matter. It kinda seems like this phenomenon is cyclical. I assume the reason for this is because authors who write biographies are either too lazy to do primary source research and/or too stupid to provide any insight into an individual in the context of their life & times and basic human nature. Although I’m probably ignoring the emotional angle. Anybody that spends months of their time researching an individual and writes a few hundred pages about their life probably develops an affinity or hatred of them.

    None of this means there aren’t good biographies out there. Just sayin’.

  24. Jim Haygood

    Ku Klux Jeff visits California, sues:

    The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday night against California, seeking an injunction to immediately block enforcement of the three state laws including the “sanctuary state” bill.

    “The Department of Justice and the Trump Administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional policies,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions was expected to tell California law enforcement officers on Wednesday.

    The state’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, fired back: “At a time of unprecedented political turmoil, Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America. Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington, but they don’t work here. SAD!!!”

    Gov. Brown said that the DOJ lawsuit was an “act of war” during a press conference with the California attorney general on Wednesday.

    This is a constitutional showdown over states rights, which aren’t just for neo-confederates. California libre!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The US is warring on California?

      How many divisions do we Californians have?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          First thing we do, or among the first things, is to secure the Colorado river.

          Here, offense is the best defense.

          And we Californians will have to create chaos in our neighboring states, to ensure a buffer zone. Not sure we can count on Putin though. No one in the southern capital of Hollywood trusts him.

          1. Synapsid


            Let’s see: The Colorado’s headwaters are in, ah, Colorado, and the headwaters of its major tributary, the Green, are in Wyoming, I believe.

            Got your work cut out for you, but Right is on your side! I wish you all the best.

            (going out for popcorn…)

    2. Louis Fyne

      i thought we had a whole civil war about federal supremacy?

      This is setting up as a win-win for Trump.

      CA Win = GOP Win: as states’ rights will come in handy when the White House is in the hands of a Democrat.

      CA Loss = GOP Win: re. immigration policy.

      don’t flame the messenger.

      1. JBird

        i thought we had a whole civil war about federal supremacy?

        Not quite. It was more about leaving without permission and on that “peculiar institution” continued existence. Had the South decided to leave without keeping slavery intact, the Southern Confederacy would very likely still exist. Either was a problem, both were catastrophic.

        Before the war, the correct phrasing was these United States are and after the war, it was the United States is united.

        The Federal government has always had supremacy in that the Constitution is the supreme law over everything else. Just where the line is though has always been a fight. It is unlikely, but still plausible, that the States could push that line way back, or that the national government could just fall apart, leaving the states’ governments more in control. Back from is to are.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          So, is it like Mao with his gun barrel deciding where the line is, with this war talk?

          1. JBird

            I didn’t think of it that way, but yes, violence has been used quite often to decide political issues. Since before some of the colonies it’s been that way. Militia, irregular units, guerrillas, terrorists, private armies/police (I do mean private), assassination/goon squads, unions using everything from long guns, artillery, blades, bombings, lynchings, with the occasional assistance of airplanes and every major conflict within the United States and the Spanish-American War. local, state, and national elections, civil rights, land and business ownership, strikes, corporate power, Reconstruction, and more. Often in a version of public-private partnerships.

            Civil Rights Movement was possible partly due to armed members especially before the movement got attention. Never mind the lynchings sometimes prevented by armed communities.

            Too much of our history has been sanitized and turned into a children’s fable.

        1. integer

          Exactly. Btw Rahm Emanuel is just about to give undocumented immigrants in Chicago an ID card that will allow them to vote.

          Chicago ID card would be valid voter identification Chicago Tribune

          Municipal ID cards that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is launching for undocumented immigrants and others will be a valid form of identification for people both registering to vote and voting in Chicago, according to a letter aldermen received Friday.

          Clerk Anna Valencia, who’s heading up the CityKey program, cited state election rules to explain why the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners will accept the card.

          “The Illinois Election Code requires the Board of Elections to accept current, valid photo identification cards and other local governmental documentation that includes an individual’s name and address, as proof of identity and residency,” Valencia’s letter reads in part. “The CityKey fits both of these requirements.”

          1. The Rev Kev

            And this is letting people who are in your country illegally get to help choose your leaders. I wonder which party they would choose? Maybe Rahm Emanuel might now. And how would this be really different to letting the several hundred thousand tourists running around the US at any one time also have a vote exactly? Sorry, but when I grew up it was only citizens of a country that got the vote.

            1. integer

              Perhaps I was unclear in pointing out that I find it extremely troubling that the D party is using this tactic. It is one of the most cynical political strategies I have ever witnessed. I expect Soros played a leading role in its formulation; it fits his MO to a T:

              How George Soros Singlehandedly Created The European Refugee Crisis – And Why ZeroHedge

              Soros’s agenda is fundamentally about the destruction of national borders. This has recently been shown very clearly with his funding of the European refugee crisis.

              The refugee crisis has been blamed on the civil war currently raging in Syria. But did you ever wonder how all these people suddenly knew Europe would open its gates and let them in?

              The refugee crisis is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It coincided with OSF donating money to the US-based Migration Policy Institute and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, both Soros-sponsored organizations. Both groups advocate the resettlement of third-world Muslims into Europe.

              In 2015, a Sky News reporter found “Migrant Handbooks” on the Greek island of Lesbos. It was later revealed that the handbooks, which are written in Arabic, had been given to refugees before crossing the Mediterranean by a group called “Welcome to the EU.”

              Welcome to the EU is funded by—you guessed it—the Open Society Foundations.

              Soros has not only backed groups that advocate the resettlement of third-world migrants into Europe, he in fact is the architect of the “Merkel Plan.”

              Also, I’m an Australian who has never been to the US; I just watch US politics, often in horror, from afar.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Same here, mate. I think that we are lucky in that our leaders tend to be either annoying or embarrassing (looking at you Barnaby Joyce) but hardly ever terrifying. Trouble is that you never know if some idiot in Canberra is looking on and thinking ‘What a great idea!”

  25. Anonymous

    Kelly Anne Conway violated the Hatch Act!!! Kelly Anne Conway violated the Hatch Act!!!

    An archaic law that no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for because it doesn’t make sense.
    But I think this is the final straw for Trump. No way he survives this one.

  26. Oregoncharles

    “Italy’s howl of nihilism”.
    I suspect the author of having an undeclared self-interest, possibly loyalty to one of the old parties. An Italian commenter may know.

    He’s half-right: Italian voters swept away the old order. But they had excellent reason for doing so. It’s unfortunate they empowered the near-fascist Lega, but overturning the apple cart made sense. In particular, the Euro, and probably the old political order, have been disastrous for Italy’s economy, which has stagnated since they joined the Euro. It is nonetheless the 3rd-largest in Europe, so the EU can’t afford to trash it the way they did Greece. They have some freedom of maneuver; just how much, we will see.

    One consequence is that forming a new government will be at least as difficult as in Germany (is there a sign here?) Italy has long been called “the world’s only functioning anarchy;” they’re quite accustomed to getting along without a government. Refer back to “3rd largest economy.” Should be interesting.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Love it: ” The Italians, despite being allies of Germany, didn’t turn over any Jews to be shipped off to the death camps. And they didn’t do it like Bulgaria did, by defying them. They acted like Italians. They feigned all sorts of bureaucratic incompetence…”

      So this is how they’ll fend off the ECB? There are advantages to a reputation for incompetence: who knew?

  27. Procopius

    Somewhere, back forty or fifty years ago, I read that the outcome of the Battle of the Bulge might well have been different except for Patton and his Chief of Intelligence (G-2) noticing the weakness of American forces in that area and drawing up detailed plans for turning the Third Army around and attacking northward. Armies are like battleships or aircraft carriers. They do not change direction easily. No other American army was prepared at the time to make the necessary shift. If Patton had not been able to do so, the Germans might have been able to capture the fuel supplies they needed to succeed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You were right on the details of that story. Allied headquarters were still in shock at the German attack when Patton rang Eisenhower to inform him that he had so many formations disengaged and heading north, that he planned to attack the southern flank of the bulge on this particular day and would do so regardless of how many troops had arrived by then as he did not want to lose the element of surprise.
      Patton was a complex man who did not have any time for the ‘dancers and prancers’ of the pre-war army. Lots of American soldiers in WW2 would say that they were from this regiment or that division but the men in Patton’s army always said they they were from the 3rd Army and said it with pride. Sad to say that generals like Patton and admirals like Ray Spruance would never be allowed to achieve in the modern military. We are back to the days of the ‘dancers and prancers’ again.

      1. ambrit

        The Iron Law of Institutions applies to armies just as well as to the so called ‘peaceful’ instrumentalities.
        Great Captains, using Liddell Harts’ formulation of same, rise to prominence during times of crisis. Peaceable periods naturally forestall the rise of ‘non-standard’ thinkers.
        Patton was one of MacArthur’s chief leutenants in the crushing of the Bonus Army at the Anacostia Flats in the District of Columbus in 1932. The other was Dwight Eisenhower.

      2. JBird

        It’s a pattern in history. military, government; and business. The long peace. Then disaster. Then hopefully not too many die and normal returns. Repeat.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        One of my mother’s friends, who is in remarkably good shape for a 94 year old, is a Battle of the Bulge survivor. He drove supply trucks. He is part of a Battle of the Bulge group that meets roughly monthly.

  28. Jean

    Deep Voice:
    “Or consider political operatives releasing fake recordings of politicians having conversations that could sway an election.”
    Or consider the massive theft of credit data.

    “I don’t owe you $200,000, that was some Russian hacker imitating my voice and using stolen Equifax credit data. You guys need to improve your security and and do better verification.
    Prove it was me, not sotware mimicking me.
    Show me the signature on the documents.”

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