Links 3/3/18

Mane attraction: Zoo baffled after 18yo lioness mysteriously acquires male hair RT (Kevin W)

Human intelligence can’t be transferred to machines Washington Post (furzy)

Mozilla and the NSF Hand Out $400,000 in Prize Money for First Phase of Wireless Innovation Challenge Spectrum IEEE (Robert H)

Longer upgrade cycles and growing purchases of used smartphones said to threaten flagship sales 9to5Google

One in five Melbourne veggie patches contaminated with lead, study finds Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W). !!!!

Here’s Why Environmentalists Are Cheering The Latest Burger At Sonic Drive-In NPR (David L)

Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors Guardian. Help me. Kids will lie either to get meds or look healthy, depending on what outcome they prefer. Plus there is reason to think that messing with the chemistry of developing brains is not such a good idea. Plus what if the child has reason to be depressed, as it he’s bullied or had a parent die?

Getting the Inside Dope on Ketamine’s Mysterious Ability to Rapidly Relieve Depression Scientific American. Back in the day when I had a gay tech guy who was on the periphery of the gay club scene, even I noticed how many in his circle were ketamine fans and wound up in “K-holes” way too often. Now I wonder if they were all self-medicating without knowing it..


Xi Jinping and the Perils of One-Person Rule in China New Yorker (furzy)

How long does China’s President Xi Jinping plan to hold power? Here’s the magic number South China Morning Post (furzy)

Korea’s ‘patriotic prostitutes’ for US soldiers get justice at last Asia Times. The South Korean and local governments were running what amounted to sex slavery operations, often knowing the girls were minors to boot.


May says red lines will hurt whatever the deal The Times

Not time to nitpick on Brexit – Jacob Rees Mogg BBC. I need to read the speech, but it appears May managed to say very little.

Theresa May warns Eurosceptics to ‘face facts’ Financial Times. She can’t have told them to face very many facts if Rees Mogg wasn’t foaming at the mouth. However, I was mistaken, I had thought this was a speech before Parliament, not a City group.

Brexit: rotten at the core Richard North. May appears to have used slightly different verbiage to restate the same unworkable positions. No wonder the Brexiteers are chuffed.

Exclusive: Puigdemont vows to lead Catalan government in exile Guardian

New Cold War

Putin: Listen to Russia Now by Willy B Sic Semper Tyrannis (Rev Kev). Note a gobsmacked Rand guy…

Ukraine shivers as Russia refuses to deliver gas MoneyCentral (Kevin W)

The Grammar of Russiagate Counterpunch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facebook is not getting any bigger in the United States Recode

Trade Warz

Trump Roars; China Yawns Bloomberg (jo6pak)

‘Trade Wars Are Good,’ Trump Tweets Wall Street Journal (Kevin W). Admittedly apocryphal, but I prefer Elizabeth I per the movie version (Cate Blanchette): “I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes.”M

Trump Declares “Trade Wars Are Good,” Immediately Gets Brutal Awakening Vanity Fair (Kevin W)

Five takeaways on Trump’s tariffs The Hill

U.S. Tariff Plan Spurs Global Jockeying Wall Street Journal

EU Threatens Iconic U.S. Brands After Trump Opens Door to Trade War Bloomberg

How a Trump trade war could slow down the global economy Axios

Wilbur Ross snuck industry execs into White House to manipulate ‘unglued’ Trump into tariff decision: report Raw Story (furzy)

Someone tell Trump the trade war is over. China won South China Morning Post

Trading partners set to punish Trump for steel tariffs The Hill

Ex-Trump adviser sold $31m in shares days before steel tariff revealed Independent

Trump Transition

Defiant John Kelly continues to misrepresent his handling of Rob Porter scandal CNN (furzy)

Justice Dept. urges Congress to rewrite law that handcuffed DEA’s opioid enforcement Washington Post

DACA, Good Americans, and Obama’s Grim Legacy Counterpunch

‘He’s JFK With Tattoos and a Bench Press’ Politico (Leslie J). JFK? Are you kidding? JFK went to Harvard and was from a super rich family. His father was first head of the SEC and an ambassador to the Britain, remember?

George P Bush’s struggle in Texas may signal end of 70-year political dynasty Guardian


Florida school shooting: US investment giant leans on gun firms BBC

Armed ‘Teacher of the Year’ Opens Fire in School Daily Beast

Marco Rubio slams teens as ‘infected’ by ‘arrogance and boasting’ as his approval rating plummets The Week

Gunmakers Are Losing Retailers That Don’t Even Buy Guns Bloomberg

Bruce Willis’ ‘Death Wish’ Vigilante Is Batman for the Breitbart Crowd Daily Beast (furzy)

Wells Fargo reveals it overcharged wealth management clients Financial Times. Forgot to include this yesterday. Wells of course says this was an error. Funny how those errors are to the benefit of Wells’ profits.

Have a Seat: Weinstein ‘Casting Couch’ Statue Pops Up Near Oscar Venue Sputnik International (furzy)

Equifax identifies additional 2.4 million customers hit by data breach Reuters

SEC reportedly subpoenas companies and advisers over ICOs Axois. Way overdue.

Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired for opposing hiring caps on white, Asian male nerds – The Register (Kevin W)

Class Warfare

MSNBC’s Big Names Completely Ignore West Virginia Teachers Strike FAIR (UserFriendly)

The Secret Plan To Steal Earth’s Remaining Fresh Water Lee Camp

Steve Schwarzman Earns More Than Record Lottery Winners Bloomberg. JTM: “For some definition of earn…”

Parents who housed their three children, 11, 13 and 14 in a filthy four-foot-tall BOX in a garbage-covered corner of the Joshua Tree desert appear in court as friends insist ‘they are poor not abusive’ Daily Mail

I made a donation and hope those of you who are able will do so too. As Lambert noted yesterday in WaterCooler, the teachers are making and delivering meals to students before they hit the picket line:

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus video. Richard Smith had trained his two Bengals to do a lot of tricks, but he uses a clicker (supposedly the right way to do it, you click to let them know they performed correctly, and then you give them a treat. That way, if the treat isn’t immediately forthcoming, they still know it is on its way). This cat performs without getting any reward other than praise. I think he like having his adorable white front paws admired.

And an even better bonus, from Richard:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. visitor

    The link for “Parents who housed their three children, 11, 13 and 14 in a filthy four-foot-tall BOX in a garbage-covered corner of the Joshua Tree desert appear in court as friends insist ‘they are poor not abusive’” contains a superfluous “a” right at the beginning of the URL.

    1. Wukchumni

      This may come off as callous, but there is scant difference between the squalor they were living in, and the majority of the homeless I see here in California.

      1. Ed Miller

        But do they all end up in court? Surely you know Joshua Tree is in SoCal desert.

        Two issues are blaring out at me:

        1) The article is in a UK publication – where are US media sources on this (and this isn’t an isolated case), or can’t they pull themselves away from Palm Springs, only a short trip away? I do note that local news in Portland does frequently cover this problem but not so the national news, as far as I know.

        OK – I see the LA Times covers this, but it’s still not technically national news even though widely read.

        2) What’s different from a lot of Portland homeless camps (granted, not different from California homeless camps or other locations) is that these people are in court accused of child abuse. I don’t recall how to do srikethroughs, so imagine replacing “child abuse” with “being poor”.

        As Lambert says: Rule #1: But markets. Rule #2: Go die. They are getting close.

        I am very familiar with the SW desert conditions, especially summer heat. I just hope I can still sleep tonight.

    2. allan

      More from the LA Times:

      Friends say Joshua Tree couple is extremely poor, not abusive

      … “Children should not have to live like that,” said Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department. “As parents they have a responsibility to provide the basic necessities for their children to grow up and be healthy and safe.” …

      Oddly, Ms. Bachman did not say, “As a society, we have a responsibility to provide parents with the means
      to provide the basic necessities for their children to grow up and be healthy and safe.”

      1. Ed Miller

        @allan: I believe your point can be more focused: As the only economically developed society that doesn’t take responsibility to providing for our next generation, we should be ashamed of what we have done.

  2. Emorej a Hong Kong

    ‘He’s JFK With Tattoos and a Bench Press’

    Today the JFK legacy most remembered by establishment Democrats appears to be the imaginary “missile gap” talking point which (with Richard Daley Sr.’s vote rigging) got him into the White House. To his great credit, he did not drink too much of his own kool-aide to retain the ability to say “no” to the CIA Bay of Pigs plotters or to the generals recommending missile launches instead of compromising in response to Cuban installation of Russian missiles. Do today’s “election interference gap” liars have as much immunity to their own kool-aide as JFK? Do they think they can survive their “gap” frenzy longer than JFK did?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Please to make it absolutely clear that the “missile gap,” along with the “bomber gap” and the “window of vulnerability,” were LIES, BIG LIES, and the product of the lying liars at the RAND batch of lying liars. Totally made up. Based in complete fiction, very logical and rational fiction of course, but postulated on the basis of the effing insanity of the great construct of the last century, that “lots of nuclear weapons on hair triggers under the control of people who HAVE TO BE ACTUALLY, BELIEVABLY INSANE in order for the “deterrent effect” of MADness to be ‘credible.’”

      The current and seemingly wiser-than-we-can-comprehend incarnation of Strangelove’s Rooshian “Boris” has at least announced the existence of a new set of Doomsday weapons, rather than waiting for a too-late, birthday-tied rollout. And the response of the slavering, drooling idiots that “man the nation’s (sic) ramparts against the evil forces of Communist Imperialism” will be what? “Use ‘em or lose ‘em?” “We will not be dictated to or cowed by or tolerate threats or tyranny (except our own, of course)”? Moar Money For Defense! Not one red cent for Tribute! Never Retreat (except to save our puny hides)! Stand down and end the MADness? Shut up, you Commie appeasers! I’ll have you all shot!”

      A wise black sergeant named Parks, one of the trainers in my Basic Training battallion, who had survived getting blown up in a Sherman tank in the “Korean conflict” and whose head, as a result, constantly bobbed up and down, told us, per the training syllabus in the lecture he was giving on The Vast and Wise Doctrine Of US Military Strategy, that “Mens, America NEVer Retreats!” And added, in a snide aside, “America does, however, make strategic rearward advances to previously prepared positions.” And in casual conversations he also let on that “America” as an entity was nothing but a myth.

      Of course he was wearing the “Olive Drab Handcuffs” that were bringing him, if he lived long enough, to a nice pension and lifetime medical care and all that jazz that most of those of us mopes who haven’t killed Commies for Christ (or other Wogs of Muslim Persuasion, e.g.) can not even hope for in this MMT (Massive Military Theft?)) best of all possible worlds…

      1. Baby Gerald

        “America does, however, make strategic rearward advances to previously prepared positions.”

        Yet another colorful expression the US military borrowed from the Germans. Their newsreels during WW2 had a wonderful phrase called ‘planmassig Absetzbewegung’ or ‘planned withdrawal action’ that viewers first heard in winter 1941 and would hear with increasing regularity from mid-1943 onward. Every retreat was all part of the master plan. Worked about as good for them as it did for us in Korea or–more colloquially–as a birth control option.

    2. SBayer

      The “Missile Gap” was more than an imaginary talking point. It was an extraordinarily effective Soviet disinformation program, aimed at convincing the US that a nuclear attack on the USSR would result in a devastating Soviet retaliation. Khrushchev reasoned that nuclear deterrence could be achieved by convincing the US that he had a massive ICBM capability, even if he had none whatsoever, and, in a guns-vs-butter decision, chose not to develop an actual capability.

      The CIA’S human intelligence provided constant reports (from a steady stream of fake defectors) of ever-increasing Soviet capabilities. But what confounded Eisenhower was that over-flight intelligence could locate not a single ICBM site. (This is what Gary Powers was looking for when he was shot down.) The rapid growth of the Corona satellite surveillance project after the Powers incident dramatically increased coverage over the U-2 flights, but could still not locate a single ICBM site.

      Khrushchev, however, became alarmed by the Corona program, and fearing the his ruse would be discovered, made a desperate attempt to secure an actual retaliatory capability by installing short-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, allowing the USSR at least to retaliate against Miami in case of a US attack. It was this move that removed any doubt in the minds of the CIA and JFK that the missile gap was a hoax.

      The Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in the downfall of Khrushchev and the USSR’s decision to develop a genuine nuclear arsenal.

      It is a tribute to the effectiveness of Khrushchev’s disinformation campaign that, even today, people believe that the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, in spite of the fact that the Soviet Missiles in Cuba were never made launch-ready.

      (Source: Walt W. Rostow “Open Skies: Eisenhower’s proposal of July 21, 1955”, University of Texas Press, 1982)

      1. Enquiring Mind

        For some, exposure to the false missile gap was a big crack in the edifice of the USofA that had previously done heroic things for survival. Exiting the depression, in no small part via the Good War, showed that people could band together and believe in and act on some common goals.

        As people began to examine those goals a little more closely, they found that all was not as it seemed. Add in a Tonkin Resolution or two and some MIC and it was not surprising to find that patriotic feelings began to fray a bit around the edges. Today’s suspicion of media, institutions and pretty much anything is a result. Now, how to get people to think for themselves, and to expand their thoughts to communities and beyond? That McKinsey article on the other thread is one hopeful sign.

        1. Olga

          This is an excerpt from the article… It confirms the view of the crisis in ‘JFK and the Unspeakable’ (highly recommended) plus the idea that JFK was shaken by the events to the point of turning away from the bellicosity of his previous positions (he did start as a Cold war hawk) and more towards a peaceful accommodation with the USSR. Stereotypical views of him as nothing more than some playboy completely miss the evolution he underwent during his short presidency. All that made him a target… unfortunately for all of us:

          “Although Stern and other scholars have upended the panegyrical version of events advanced by Schlesinger and other Kennedy acolytes, the revised chronicle shows that JFK’s actions in resolving the crisis—again, a crisis he had largely created—were reasonable, responsible, and courageous. Plainly shaken by the apocalyptic potentialities of the situation, Kennedy advocated, in the face of the bellicose and near-unanimous opposition of his pseudo-tough-guy advisers, accepting the missile swap that Khrushchev had proposed. “To any man at the United Nations, or any other rational man, it will look like a very fair trade,” he levelheadedly told the ExComm. “Most people think that if you’re allowed an even trade you ought to take advantage of it.” He clearly understood that history and world opinion would condemn him and his country for going to war—a war almost certain to escalate to a nuclear exchange—after the U.S.S.R. had publicly offered such a reasonable quid pro quo. Khrushchev’s proposal, the historian Ronald Steel has noted, “filled the White House advisors with consternation—not least of all because it appeared perfectly fair.””

    3. Tom_Doak

      I was moved by the article to check out Ojeda’s campaign site to see his stand on health care.

      He says it isn’t right that people have to buy health insurance they can’t afford to use, because of high deductibles. So, he’s in favor of “the public option”.

    4. Punta Pete

      Excuse me, but the NC editor who inserted the comment about the differences between JFK and Richard Ojeda misleads NC readers. The importance of the article lies in the fact that the surging Democrat, Richard Ojeda, is leading with proposals and attacks on the 1% that are strikingly similar to Bernie Sanders’. That is, they’re far to the left of the corporate Dems. An important secondary subject of the piece is the continuing resistance of the state-wide teachers strike

      1. edmondo

        The mere fact that he uttered the word “Union” makes him different than 90% of the Democrats currently in Congress.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I stand with my original comment. Since when did JFK attack the 1% of his day? He was a member of the 1%. New Deal programs were so well accepted that even that great American socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower said anyone who opposed them was a political goner:

        Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.4 Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

        JFK didn’t represent a break from the status quo or orthodoxy within the Dem party of his day. JFK had been widely depicted as a playboy whose father had funding his political career. JFK is also considered the father of the modern Presidential campaign, in particular its reliance on Madison Avenue packaging of the candidate and TV advertising.

        And you seriously try to tell me, by implication, that Sanders and JFK have much in common? Help me.

        1. dbk

          The problem, really, was with the title of the article itself. I read it, then went to listen to one of Ojeda’s FB “conversations” and there’s just no comparison.

          The first candidate I thought of to compare him with was Randy Bryce, the “Iron Stache” running for Paul Ryan’s seat in WI – only he’s like Bryce on speed.

          Ojeda is career military (24 years in the USArmy, retired at the rank of Major, trained engineer, served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, etc.) He’s very smart and he’s articulate, and his positions are pretty down-the-line progressive. (And those that aren’t – on natural gas, for example – are explicable in terms of WV economics; he’s fully aware of this and admits it openly.)

          After reading the Politico piece (there’s also a good Guardian feature story up about him), I listened to his latest FB “conversation” with his constituents.

          What distinguishes Ojeda is that he’s socially far more progressive than most Dems in his state. He’s impressive. And he’s going to win WV-03.

          I’ve been on an LGM thread today about Ojeda and feel discouraged. So much resentment; so much denial that economic insecurities/fears drove voters to Trump in WV and the Rust Belt generally; so much insistence on “they’re all stupid/racist/not worth our time/let’s ignore them”. Oh, and the re-litigation of the 2016 Pres election, for the umpteenth time.

          Note: there’s also a progressive Dem running in the WV Senate primary against Joe Manchin. Her name is Paula Jean Swearengin. She’s for Medicare-for-All. Great overall platform.

        2. neo-realist

          Since when did JFK attack the 1% of his day? He was a member of the 1%.

          How about President Kennedy’s response to the steel crisis: When U.S. Steel threatened to increase steel prices 3.5 percent after the steel companies initially promised not to raise prices, Kennedy, through the Justice Department, initiated investigations into price fixing and collusion on the part of the steel companies. Held a well renowned press conference criticizing their actions.

          Obama never would have had the stones to do that to big business.

          Kennedy’s economic program angered big business and would make Bernie Sanders proud:

          A bit of a class rebel, wouldn’t you say?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            No. With all due respect, you must be young and that is showing.

            Kennedy was a Democrat and Democrats backed labor. There was a history of wealthy Democrats supporting unions and certain pro-labor positions to ward off Communism. Remember that even Rockefeller Republicans and Javits Republican were pro labor and pro a certain level of redistribution? Both parties had big money interests who were pro labor until the Reagan revolution and the Dem abandonment of labor, which really got rolling around the same time (although started in the 1970s).

            This goes back to the Rockefellers and multinationals, which were the more forward-looking corps of their day, backing Roosevelt. The idea that Roosevelt has no corporate support is an urban legend.

            Tom Ferguson has the archival and donation work on FDR to prove his contention re his corporate backing. It’s in his book Golden Rule.

            Moreover, US Steel was a rogue company by the standards of unionized employers of its day. Even though the big auto companies and other major manufacturers didn’t have what you could call a comfortable relationship with unions, they didn’t go remotely to the lengths that US Steel threatened to.

        3. Mike

          I must agree with Yves here – if you look at the record and the intent of his policies, JFK was the first of a line of corporate Democrats (not funded necessarily, but putting a face on the DP that OK’d being in league with them) who had defense department bonafides and represented the professional elites of his time. The Democrats have never looked back, as they scuttled every anti-war token – McCarthy, RFK, McGovern, and on – the party could produce on the basis of JFK’s foreign policy efforts. The prosperity from rebuilding Europe and Japan funded increases in wages and wealth enough to feed the decline of unions and the destruction of the little “democracy” our system offered over the next 50 years. Why does anyone think Eisenhower, a cold warrior via the Dulles boys, “warned” us of the M-IC before Kennedy took office?

    5. Sid_finster

      JFK didn’t say no to the Bay of Pigs.

      Rather, he said no to the Bay of Pigs plotters attempt to escalate, especially after he found out that, from the outset, the plan was to drag the US into an invasion – tell the president that the invasion was sure to succeed without overt US assistance, then, once the invasion foundered, tell him that he couldn’t abandon the Invaders and an invasion would be necessary.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        He didn’t abandon the invaders…since a now dead cuban relative did actual unmentionables it might be time to clean up the nonsense…

        the cuban coup against Fidel and Raul worked…the cuban military was not fighting “la brigada” & was giving them clean passage to get into the hills…

        except the 2000 klowns of “la brigada” (must have been actially 50 thousand considering all the cubanos I have heard who insist they were there too…) thought they were extras in a movie and since sturgis and “the” e howard “magically” placed the flares to “insure” the supply ship would get stuck on the only sand bar available in the harbor…

        well cubans wont even think about kissing their wives in the morning until they have gulped down their cortadito…so forget about actually pointing a gun and shooting without that first hit of xxxpreso…

        The cubano bombers were shocked…shocked…that they were being shot back at from havana…

        did the “people” not know they were being liberated…

        It was american contract pilots…three letter contracts…who did the actual flyin of the beez after the cuban pilots did the brave thing and refused to fly with the communists actually shooting back…

        Shamburger ray baker grey

        No fan of stupid three letter trixxx nor the paperklipping a/o krowd…

        But fidels in laws who currently run around controlling politics in miami(what…they regularly forget to mention “they” helped put fidelito into office originally ??) need to stop talking smack…

        and the nonsense narrative of the bay of pigs knuckleheads were “abandoned” by jfk needs to end…

        La brigada was a bunch of drunken ex traffic cops who thought showing up in uniform and talking loud would somehow induce the world to allow them to get back to the job of taking bribes from casino owners…


        1. Sid_finster

          I have no idea what you are talking about but I said nothing about abandoning anyone.

          1. Alex Morfesis

            Repeating the trope of abandonment feeds a non factual narrative…jfk did not “abandoned” anyone…they chose not to proceed or execute on a properly laid out plan…the brigada chose to stand down

            1. Sid Finster

              I don’t think the invaders chose to stand down, except in the “surrender or die” sense.

              The CIA obtained JFK’s approval of the Bay of Pigs invasion by telling him that no further US assistance would be necessary, the Castro government would collapse like a house of cards. The CIA knew better, but hoped that as the invasion failed, they could convince JFK that he would be seen as abandoning the invaders and that full-scale overt US assistance was necessary.

              JFK, to his credit (and I am not a Camelot devotee) refused to take the bait.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Can someone knowledgeable elaborate, since I’ve read only one history of that part of the JFK Administration and my memory may be off, plus who knows if the source I read was biased.

        My dim recollection is that Kennedy was presented with a fait accompli, as in he’d either not been briefed pre-invasion or was given at best such a thin sketch that it was misleading. I’m not a Kennedy fan ( I think he was a good President whose legacy has been over-burnished) but my impression was as a new President, the military types were trying really hard to “manage” him, as in have their way, and this served as a big wake up call for him and his team. Is that a fair 50,000 foot summary?

        1. Olga

          That is pretty much the account one gets in the JFK and the Unspeakable, an extensively researched book. He came into office on Jan’61, and the invasion was in Apr. once it went awry, he realized that it was plannned poorly on purpose. The whole point was to have it fail, so the pres would have to send in an invading force. JFK refused, and took responsibility for the fiasco – never to be forgiven by certain people.

        2. gepay

          My readings say Kennedy approved the Invasion. The CIA told him the Cuban peoples would rise up and join the invaders. There was a foul up and the Cuban air force wasn’t entirely destroyed. Some say this was on purpose. Kennedy was put into a position that entailed using the US military to help the invasion or it would be the total fiasco it was. He had stated that he would not authorize its use. There were US jets in the air nearby who could have easily shot the lone fighter plane Cuba had left that was destroying the supply ships. The Cuban army easily handled the invasion. The Cuban populace did not rise up but helped the army. It was after this that Kennedy is supposed to have said “he wanted to splinter the C.I.A. in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
          What he did do for sure was fire the top 3 men in the CIA – Allen Dulles, Richard Bissell, and Charles Cabell as he felt he had been lied to. Unfortunately he picked John McCone as a replacement for CIA director – a typical establishment businessman who made obscene war profits during WW2.

          1. rd

            Par for the course on American assertions that “the population will rise up, support the US invasion, and happily create a democracy supporting the US”.

            The only example of this I can think of is the liberation of Europe. Even then, it took the Marshall Plan to create a stable Europe.

            The Americans were able to reconstruct Japan after WW II, but that also took a tremendous amount of economic and other support.

            Every other adventure I can think of has not resulted in popular support for the US. In countries like Vietnam and Iraq, it was decidedly negative. Any new President and Secretary of State should be required to recite a daily mantra “Countries do not like being invaded and occupied, even if is by the US.”

      3. The Rev Kev

        It’s not like the whole invasion preparations were secret or anything. I have seen recorded sessions of TV networks going out and interviewing these Cubans before it was even launched. So much for their operational security.

  3. Steve H.

    > Ukraine shivers as Russia refuses to deliver gas

    I guess Putin delivered two messages on Thursday.

    1. integer

      This is almost certainly a response to the Poroshenko regime’s new Donbass “reintegration” law that classifies Donetsk and Lugansk as occupied territories, essentially invalidating the Minsk agreement. Kiev has recently been preparing, with significant foreign assistance in the form of weapons and advisors, to once again attempt to capture the Donbass territories via force.

        1. uncle tungsten

          Thierry at Voltaire is often away with faeries and things. A good read but sometimes high in the imagination quota. Better than the guardian any day.

    2. Edward E

      What is the issue? A couple of years ago Ukrainian President Poroshenko said they did not want their gas. U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross were supposed to be taking care of Ukraine’s energy needs.

      “Only three years ago resolute measures were taken. As a result, in 2016 and 2017 Ukraine did not consume Russian gas,” Poroshenko said.

      1. The Rev Kev

        What they did was get their gas from countries like Poland, who got their gas from Russia even though the contracts said that they were not allowed to on-sell their gas to other countries. It was all a fiction but it kept the gas going for Ukrainians..

        1. uncle tungsten

          Now Poland has joined team Amurica and has foiled the ruskies attempt to install Nordstream 2 by agreeing to build a port facility for Amurica to ship gas from USA to supply EU and its friends. That’s a clever idea.

          The EU is now highly motivated to kick Poland out of the cot asap. Now that Trump has decided to trade war the EU the whole gas venture is ratsh!t. Predictable and sweet.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Poland already has that gas shipping facility built and last June accepted their first liquefied natural gas shipment from the United States (In Poland, the price of U.S. LNG is a secret by the way). It can also take shipments from the gas fields of Norway or Qatar. From there, it can then be shipped through existing pipe lines to the Ukraine and also the EU. Bully for them I say.
            Of course the Russians will just sell their gas to other countries such as China. They have even been shipping it to the US and the UK lately to plug the gap in shortages. The kicker is that gas from the US is much more expensive that that from Russia. The Poles have said that they will only buy US gas if it is competitively priced which may be on the first of never.
            Sure, Europe could buy it to teach those Russkies a lesson but it will cost them. Then again those same European countries could then turn around and tell Trump that they can’t fulfill that 2% commitment to NATO as all the spare cash has gone to more expensive US gas. Do’h!

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit.

    Brexit: rotten at the core Richard North. May appears to have used slightly different verbiage to restate the same unworkable positions. No wonder the Brexiteers are chuffed.

    It seems to be a general delusion (not just among Brexiters), that there is some short of half way fudged compromise that can work when it comes to trade when you are disentangling yourself from an existing trade relationship. There isn’t. From North:

    Sensibly, she tells us that “we don’t want to see the introduction of any tariffs or quotas”, and I don’t see any problems with that. It can be delivered with a basic free trade agreement and it’s technically uncomplicated. Where things are less easy though are in the area where goods require some form of prior approval before they can be freely circulated in the Single Market area.

    Here, Mrs May refers back to David Davis’s speech in Vienna and declares that “we must ensure that, as now, products only need to undergo one series of approvals, in one country, to show that they meet the required regulatory standards”.

    However, since we are to leave the Single Market, the only way that is going to happen is if the UK decides to accept products approved to EU standards, submitted to EU approval bodies by enterprises (or their representatives) which are established in the territories of the EU Member States. Under current EU law, there is no way that approvals by UK bodies will be accepted within the EU.

    In other words, we would have to hand over the entirety of our product approvals to the EU and accept its authority to tell our manufacturers what they can sell.

    Yet, despite that, Mrs May ploughs on ahead with an explanation of how the impossible is to happen. “To achieve this”, she says, “we will need a comprehensive system of mutual recognition” – an invention of the Legatum Institute which has no foundation in reality.

    Outside the Single Market, the EU simply does not operate mutual recognition of standards systems with third countries, except in the most limited of circumstances. There is no prospect, whatsoever, of the EU agreeing “a comprehensive system of mutual recognition” with the UK.

    Another interesting link is from the always thoughtful Ian Jack in the Guardian – Who do I blame? Eight Reasons we ended up in this Brexit Mess.

    During the Scottish referendum campaign in the summer of 2014 I met a painter and decorator on the island of Bute who said he was voting for Scottish independence. “You have to.” Why? He knew people in Sunderland, “and every one of them wants to leave Europe”. Sunderland, with its big car factory that exported cars to the continent? Surely not. “Yes, they want to leave.” He laughed at the daftness of it. I didn’t believe him.

    1. David

      Briefly, I think Richard North is assuming that this is a speech intended for Brussels consumption or a move in a negotiation. If you take it as a series of negotiating proposals it is, indeed, delusional. It’s not intended for that purpose. It’s the beginning of an attempt to get the more extreme Brexiters to come to terms with reality, by, for example, admitting that the UK has to come up with some ideas for Northern Ireland, and that the remaining negotiations will be difficult and complex, and that life outside the EU will not be all roses. This isn’t much, I agree, but it is a start, and it seems to me to be preparing the ground for a whole series of inevitable concessions further down the line. I can hear her (or another PM perhaps) saying in a year’s time, to justify and effectively Brexitless Brexit “as I said in my speech on 2 March X or Y would not be easy. Nonetheless, I am convinced that (insert surrender) respects the spirit of the five principles etc. etc.” The unrealizable proposals, in my view, are primarily window-dressing to convince the hardliners that she’s still fighting their cause.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That makes perfect sense. Its a pity that its at least a year late for her to make a speech like that.

        1. Anonymous2

          Wise words as always, David. Thank you.

          The next few weeks are going to be interesting, though. The pressure will be on the UK to agree to terms on the Withdrawal Agreement if they are to get any discussion on any future relationship in the next couple of months. That looks to me as though it is going to require a major UK climbdown on the Irish border issues (unless you take the view that has already happened, just not been sufficiently noticed). That could prompt cabinet departures. If we then get a leadership challenge the timetable could face yet another delay.

          Mrs May, having said that the EU draft proposals for NI are unacceptable, is I think going to have to find a way to finesse the issue domestically while giving the EU/RoI enough to satisfy them. It does not help that very few people understand the detail of the Good Friday Agreement ( I am only starting to get my head around it but once you start to look at it from the Irish perspective you start to see the problems).

          If I was May I would be strongly tempted to sign something swiftly and tie the UK’s hands. Just as well I am not PM?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes – I think she is very slowly coming around to the idea that the hard Brexiters must be isolated so that she can do a deal. I think its pretty clear that she realises a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster. But i doubt she has the political skill or imagination to work around them.

            Since the UK has to surrender on at least one of those many red lines, I think the natural solution for a politician of May’s background would be to isolate NI, thats one way she can do a deal while appearing statesmanlike. When in doubt, sell out the Celts would be the normal London reflex. The problem is that she needs the vote without the DUP so will need at least some sort of informal nod from either Labour or the SNP that they will vote match the DUP. The other problem is that the SNP may see this as an opportunity to say ‘if NI gets this, we want it too’. So its delicate, but that would seem the only possible route for a deal for her.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            To your point about the future relationship, I recall a BBC commentator who presented himself as plugged in saying that Rees Mogg regarded an iron-clad commitment to a future trade deal as essential, that he’d block an agreement without that. But there’s no way anyone could or would give an assurance like that.

            And that’s before getting to “The Tories have boxed themselves into a Canada-type deal” problem, although to your point, NI is likely to blow things apart before they address that.

    2. Oregoncharles

      “goods require some form of prior approval before they can be freely circulated in the Single Market area.”

      “Free trade,” huh.

      Mind you, I’m in favor or regulation; it’s one of the EU’s good points. But this is very obviously NOT free trade.

      1. Anonymous2

        Goods generally require some form of prior approval in most developed countries. Think of health and safety inspections for food, prior approval for drugs, new car models. On services think of fit and proper tests for financial services, lawyers, medical staff.

        Free trade is in large degree a fiction.

      2. c_heale

        There is no such thing as free trade. It’s a theory, that’s all. There will always be some degree of protectionism, cartels, unions, corruption, cheating etc. We are humans not machines. And we are all bound by the limits of nature and resources.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I agree with both you and Anonymous. You’ve elucidated the point I was making. At the same time, it’s quite clear that EU regulation is being used as a protectionist measure.

          Corporate globalization, which the EU does represent, is always presented as “free trade” – aka laissez faire.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re: New Cold War

    I’d like to highlight one of the BTL comments below the Sic Semper Tyrannis article:

    This is one aspect of U.S. strategic policy making that’s hardly ever admitted by the policymakers. U.S. decisions have strategic consequences that other powers will respond to. This is what the Russians have been trying to tell us for years and this is what we’ve been refusing to hear.

    Its been pretty clear that since Bush exited the arms limitation talks in 2002 that the Russians have felt the need to spend big on their deterrence. This is now coming to fruition. And it is of course just one more thing on the list of the items Obama could have made a difference with, but he couldn’t have been bothered.

    This statement by Putin allows throws the whole US nuclear review into chaos:

    “I believe it as my duty to say this: any use of nuclear weapons of any yield – small, medium or whatever – against Russia or its allies will be regarded as a nuclear attack against our country. Retaliation will be instant with all the ensuing consequences,” Putin said to draw loud applause from the audience. He warned that “nobody should have any doubts on that score.” At the same time Putin cautioned against creating new threats to the world, “but on the contrary to come to the negotiating table to give thought to an updated, future system of international security and the civilization’s sustainable development.”

    The massive investment is based on a new range of nukes that can be used tactically. It is always one of the more insane strand of thoughts through US policymaking that somehow a limited nuclear war is possible. Putin has now said straight out that if the US uses a tactical nuke on not just Russia, but on an ally, then that’s all out nuclear war. It’s a simple statement, but it calls into question the whole basis of the nuclear review. Expect much of the Washington establishment to just pretend it didn’t happen – too many lucrative jobs and contracts are now dependent on a huge expansion of nuclear capabilities.

    1. David

      Curiously, both sides are right here. The US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty was greatly resented by the Russians (and Russian officials said so at the time) not because the interceptor missiles being developed were capable of being deployed against Russian systems (for technical reasons they weren’t) or because the US wanted to (they didn’t) but because the US programme, if it continued, would one day produce missiles in such quantity that, if based, in certain areas, could conceivably give the US an invulnerable first-strike capability. Many of the Russian programmes seem to have begun at that point, with the aim of developing technologies against which interceptors would be useless. Ironically, development of ABM systems, even to counter North Korean and (hypothetical) Iranian systems has been agonizingly slow: this is one area where defence is much more difficult than attack. The weapons the Russians are describing are not needed in terms of current US capabilities, but I suppose the Russians, who play the long game, are looking 20-30 years ahead. They may also be trying to discourage the US from pressing ahead with ABM, which they consider a destabilizing technology.
      Don’t forget, either, that tactical nuclear weapons have always existed. In the Cold War the plan was to use them at a relatively early stage against superior Soviet forces, primarily as a political signal. As far as I can see this is more of an update to the capability then anything else.

      1. Quanka

        So wait a second David – the U.S. unilaterally withdraws from 30 year old treaty, setting off an arms race, and both sides are right? WTF world are you living in?

        In this instance, U.S. action directly caused Russia defense weapons development. “We are both right ” is a stupid trope and its lets our elites off the hook for something they are directly responsible for.

        Let’s further keep in mind that anti-ACBM technology has always been a farce. “Shooting a bullet with another bullet” is the way it was described to me by a friends who works for a defense company on this very technology. Its been a way for our elites to launder hundreds of billions of dollars away from social programs and towards NATO build-up on Russia borders.

        1. David

          No, the US unilaterally withdrew from a treaty. That was a bad move, and was much criticized at the time, I think correctly. The US were right, though, that the withdrawal was not aimed directly at the Russians, but the Russians were right that at some point in the future, unrestricted ABM development might give the US the capability to field enough interceptors to develop an invulnerable first strike capability. As I recall, there was very little meeting of minds on the subject. I entirely agree about the nature of ABM technology, by the way. “Hitting a bullet with another bullet” was a phrase much used by experts and pretty much sums up the impossibility of what’s projected.

          1. Quanka

            I still don’t buy your both sides argument, this is a case of U.S. aggression (through NATO members as proxies) with Russian response.

      2. hemeantwell

        I agree, but instead of an “update” I’d go for an utterly unnecessary revival of military competition, driven by destabilizing moves on the part of the US. Even the Times noted how Putin’s speech had to balance deterrence bluster with assurances that Russia’s economy was picking up. Although I think there’s controversy over whether the burden of the arms race brought down the Soviet Union, it certainly was a big drag on their economy. The US is playing that card again.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Huh? Why would this be “a drag on their economy”? Military Keyneisanism is what finally got the US out of the Depression ditch. Any net spending (deficits) will stimulate the economy. I don’t follow the Russian economy so I don’t know if he did run deficits but it seems likely he did. I haven’t seen anything that suggests that Putin cut social programs during this time. Russia’s economy has improved a great deal over the time Putin has been in office; that and cracking down on the oligarchs have been the reasons his approval ratings are so high.

          The recent weakness in the economy is the result of US sanctions, which were touted as being able to crush Russia and lead Russians to oust Putin. It did lead to a GDP fall of IIRC 5% total maybe over a 2 year period. That was pretty trivial relative to the total growth over the Putin era Plus some of the fall in GDP was attributable to the plunge in oil prices (oil matters to Russia but its economy and exports are nowhere as oil dependent as the crap coverage in the US press, even the financial press, would have you believe).

          The effect of the US sanctions was to lead even the Moscow intelligensia, which is pretty much always after Putin (with reason, he has an authoritarian streak and plays to the Russian equivalent of Nixon’s “silent majority”) fell into line and quit criticizing him for a while in the face of the US-orchestrated threat. And Russia, which is autarkical enough to hold up pretty well under the sanctions, initiated programs to become an even better autarky. For instance, it imported most of its cheese. Its domestic cheese was generally pretty lousy. I’m not up on the details, but it somehow hired foreign experts to improve the quality of domestic cheese and made big strides in a a short time.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I’m no expert on the Soviet or Russian economies, but I would have thought that the main ‘cost’ of military expenditures historically is that it attracted all the brightest minds to work on, say, ICBM’s rather than smartphones. Its striking how good Soviet and later Russian military products are in comparison to their consumer products (arguably, the exact opposite to the US and Europe). While there are also obvious spin-off benefits – such as major international sales of weaponry – this focus on military toys over infrastructure and consumer items must surely have been a significant drag on output.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Huh? Virtually all of the serious tech in the US has been funded by the military. Civilian uses came later. This is even more true now that Bell Labs and Xerox Parc are no more. Go read Marianna Mazzucato’s The Entrepreneurial State. All 12 of the core technologies of the iPhone were government, not private sector, creations.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Thats certainly true for the US, but the Soviets/Russians have rarely succeeded in making that sort of spin-off linkage. Off the top of my head the only spin-offs they’ve generated are their civilian space program and their nuclear power industry. Its notable that they’ve not been particularly successful at selling the latter internationally. They don’t even make decent bikes (titanium, CF and aluminium bikes from the US, Europe, Taiwan and China are very much an aerospace spin-off). The Russians, for example, invented super hard scandium alu alloys for missile fins, but it was the Taiwanese who sold them as bike frames.

          2. Summer

            “Military Keyneisanism is what finally got the US out of the Depression ditch. Any net spending (deficits) will stimulate the economy…”

            Now the spending on military doesn’t work the same way for the benefit of people in the USA. Overseas operations, etc.
            Any net spending will stimulate an economy for sure…just might not be the one most people are a part of.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              We are talking re Russia. I never said military Keynesianism would be a good idea in the US (not that we’d deficit spend in a serious way now anyhow, but that is a separate issue). Agreed re the US, particularly in Iraq, where the US contractors like Halliburton took a huge skim but had most of the real work done by locals. We also buy all of our combat uniforms and boots from China. How dumb is that?

                1. rd

                  Yes. I have been baffled that steel and aluminum are necessary for national security but not chip production. If we want to put tariffs on things, we should try an escalating tariff on chips to force more US production of them since everything is electronic now and has embedded chips.

                  BTW – I think the primary reason for the steel tariffs is the upcoming Pennsylvania House election that is hanging in the balance. This is steel and metallurgical coal mining country.

          3. vlade

            Russian economy (at least according to the official numbers) started growing in last half a year or so, but given the gap from 2014 it still has a lot of catching up. Majority of the uptick is actually from agriculture, where the GDP contribution shot up 100%, where the changes in other (except construction, which had about 20% uptick) was pretty much flat.

            Your data on Russian GDP is stale – there was only one year with Russian GDP around 4% mark which was around late 1990/early 2000s. Then there was an early 2002 recession, a large recession post 2008, and then another 2015. Between that, the GDP growth was around 2% average 2000-2008, and around 1% 2009-2017, which for a country like Russia (i.e. coming from a low base) is pretty low TBH, especially when you take into account the unprecedented growth in resource prices during that period, which helped say Australia to avoid GFC impact pretty much entirely. See

            Average real wages in Russia fell >10% in 2015, and while it started to pick up in 2016 (mostly due to lower inflation), the growth was low, and started to pick up only late last year. I believe that the level of real wages is now about the same as it was in 2014, so call it 4 years lost in wage growth.

            There were cashflow problems with pensions early last year due to budget cuts, and the general problems with the Russian’s state machinery (which is byzantine by anyone’s standards).

            War Keynesianism had about zero impact on the good ole USSR economy, arguably it actually sunk it, as the focus was on heavy and extraction industries, while pretty much ignoring any consumer stuff (even one with ties to the defence, like electronics, cars etc.). There was zero interest in supporting any cross-overs into civilian sphere, in fact it was often actively discouraged to conserve resources.

            Russia in general doesn’t have a good record of war keynesianism – because a very large (yes, larger than US I believe, because of how the initial parameters are set up vis a vis wages) chunk of that tends to disappear into black hole, often as a prime example of vaporvare.

            And, to call Putin having “authoritarian streak” is a significant understatement IMO.

      3. JTMcPhee

        A nicely sanguine view, “more of an update.” But that is not how many people read the new strategic notions that the Curtis LeMay Faction and the Armageddonists appear to have wormed into the “doctrinal matrix.”

        Yes, “dont forget that tactical nuclear weapons have always existed” albeit in less than reliable form, which the new round of “investment” in the new “thinkable force structure” is I guess intended to “improve.”

        And don’t forget that we mope humans have not experienced the horrors of large scale or even “limited” (sic) nuclear war only because of dumb effing luck: There have been possibly dozens of times when dumb effing luck, and the restraint of one or two decent humans, keep the Big One from happening: “Fifteen Times World War Three Nearly Started,”

        1. David

          I agree with both of you: my point is that there is nothing new in the idea of tactical nuclear weapons, nor their use in limited and even conventional war. It’s been NATO doctrine since the 1950s. The problem is the doctrine, not the weapons.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Chicken and egg? Weapons beget doctrine? Or the other? Both beget the greater-than-zero chance of species suicide, all rational and logical of course, “just following orders chain of command we had to do it to preserve democracy blah blah…”

      4. jsn

        For the sake of argument, okay, the missile shield isn’t about Russia despite US support avionics installed as close as possible all around Russia’s perimeter.

        So it’s about protecting the “homeland” from a madman with nukes, Iran & NK are frequently postulated as homes to such: what happens when the mad man is American?

        1. David

          If you wanted to target Russian ICBMs, you’d need vastly more missiles and you’d put the radars and launch-sites elsewhere, for technical reasons. A large proportion of the Russian ICBM force is at sea, anyway, and can move around easily. Putting radars near the Russian border was not very clever politically, I agree, but was ultimately a function of who was prepared to take them. Some small nations thought that have US forces on their soil would be a useful way of enhancing their security: they were quite open about it. The justification was indeed about protecting the US from attack by a handful of missiles fired by (insert your favourite madman). But in reality, it was technology looking for a job, more than anything else.

      5. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, there have always been tactical nukes, although they’ve mostly been ‘dual-use’ since the 1970’s. By which I mean medium range weapons that could be used tactically or as part of a strategic response. Of course ultimately, you can just strap a standard warhead to an aircraft and use it tactically

        But the new US strategy returns to the 1950’s in explicitly setting out a requirement for a range of low-yield weapons (warheads and delivery systems) which can only have tactical use. I think this is the first time for decades where any of the nuclear powers have explicitly set out a strategy for tactical use in regional conflicts. And of course this is what Putins statement is aimed at.

    2. Quanka

      The parallels with Brexit are striking to me. On the one hand, you have a group (Russia, EU) being honest about its intentions and motivations. Speaking in clear language about what they did, why they did it, and what they hope to achieve as result. On the other hand, you have a group burying their heads in the sand, serially incapable of dealing with hard facts and realities on the ground.

      And PK – I hear you on Obama. But can we all just accept that just because his skin color was different doesn’t make him fundamentally any different than the egoistical a-holes that usually fill the presidency? Of course he didn’t do anything about it – he wouldn’t be in the oval office otherwise. Its how our political system works in the U.S. Same thing with gunz – the NRA controls the votes, not us pithy little citizens. Changing this dynamic starts with accepting it, saying outright how our government functions.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Our” group, it appears to me, is far from “burying its head in the sand.” The neocons are very consciously pursuing hegemony, working day and night in the dark halls of power and churning out their White Papers and think tank idiocies and rolling the strategic dice and moving the little pawns and pieces, on their Very Special Rulers’ Edition of the Game Of RISK! ™, ever closer to the borders of the Hated Evil Empire (and all those lootable and extractable resources they plan to “acquire,” like that Iraqi oil that was going to self-fund “Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom (“OIL —oopsieF”)… What was the framing from yesterday’s posts? AiM? “Acting in Mirror?” Hypocrisy writ large, not even excusable on the claim of “patriotism…”

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          JTMcPhee – I believe you could me make me laugh, minutes before my execution.

          1. JTMcPhee

            A noble goal for me then… “It is a far, far better thing than I have ever done…”

            1. synoia

              That quote was just before his execution…..

              Not a good example, could not pass on his Genes.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Of course he didn’t do anything about it – he wouldn’t be in the oval office otherwise.

        I think that lets him off the hook. Plenty of Presidents in the past, most notably Carter, Reagan and Bush I energetically pursued arms control treaties, because they made sense. And yes I know it would have been very difficult to get anything past Congress, but he didn’t even try. To be fair, he did push hard on the Iran deal (his one genuine accomplishment), but he seemed entirely asleep on the wheel as regards Russia, which I find unforgivable for a supposedly intellectual and cosmopolitan leader.

      3. John k

        What bothers progressives re big o is that the dem elites won’t hear that he had any failings at all.
        Course, said elites likely think he’s a saint because they approve of a new Cold War, health give away to ins co’s, status quo, globalization, and protection for bank and all other white collar crime Uber alles… after all, they wear white collars… and all because profits.

  6. paul

    May’s 5th test; That any agreement must bring the country together
    will be tested by the EU withdrawal continuity bills introduced by the devolved governments in Wales & Scotland.
    They can offer a big FU to these bodies or risk a supreme court case which,more so with Scotland due to legal system differences and historic treaties, they might well lose.
    If nothing else it will certainly prove an unwelcome obstacle to them
    Failure in court would leave Westminster unable to offer the UK wide trade deals they fantasise about.

  7. Steve H.


    “Summary: President Donald Trump’s pupils are intermittently and significantly dilated – from a medical standpoint, this is NOT normal. The ambient light conditions cannot account for such changes. At other times they are within normal limits. This intermittent pattern is NOT due to trauma, complications from surgery, or disease. I have not examined Donald Trump and I have no firsthand knowledge of him – however, the myriad of photographic evidence available online seems to point strongly to the remaining possible etiology – Donald Trump’s Intermittently Dilated Pupils are due to the side effects of drugs/medications.”

    Follow the link inside the link and meet diethylpropion. Sigh.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I can’t stand these armchair diagnoses. This is medically irresponsible and I really wish you would not post on this. Any MD writing this sort of thing is violating medical ethics.

      Did you notice on the med list that your MD quack (I regard articles like this as quackery) listed adrenaline as a “medication” that causes pupils to dilate?

      Trump is a walking case of daily upset and anger. The guy is in fights all the time, loves fights and conflict.

      That means lots of adrenaline. That alone means regularly dilated pupils.

      Now a better line of speculation might be what the health cost is of being in fight mode all the time could be. But you can be highly productive being in adrenaline mode. And since Trump looks to have operated this way all his adult life, presumably he has some sort of coping/compensation mechanisms.

      1. Steve H.

        I wouldn’t have posted if it wasn’t within his area of expertise, I thought the MD warranted the look. I’ll recalibrate.

        1. Steve H.

          The threads not developed if you’d rather just rip it out.

          I’m swinging a little wild lately, ima back off a bit.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          It isn’t a matter of supposed expertise or not. It is a flat out violation of medical ethics to diagnose someone you haven’t examined. Anyone who is so reckless as to do that is the functional equivalent of a quack.

          1. synoia

            I believe his pupils vary due to the flashy lights of the press and the bright lights accompanying the TV cameras.

            And I have no proof whatsoever.

    2. Edward E

      My pupils are often dilated while indoors, my brother same. People who spend a lot of time outdoors, like in the bright sun of a golf course, often have dilated pupils for quite a while when they go indoors. Today is the 100th time he’s been out golfing on one of his courses.

      “Owning a great golf course gives you great power.”

      1. Edward E

        Heh, this is funny, I better get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.
        How to tell when someone is lying

        Their pupils get bigger
        Pupil dilation is a reliable indicator of lying since enlarged pupils are a sign that your brain is working hard—which it has to do in order for you to tell a lie. If you see someone’s pupils get bigger as they answer a question, it could be a sign that they’re making it up as they go along (or trying to remember the original lie, and stick to the script).

  8. Marco

    New reader here, your link to the wsj “Trade wars are good” article links to a non-existent one. I believe this is the one you meant:

    And your Vanity Fair one has your localhost at the start of the hyperlink, which doesn’t really work for trying to go to the web ;)

    I have enjoyed these links as well as the water cooler for almost a year now, thank you for these insights and antitodes, they are greatly appreciated!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks and sorry for the glitches. Too easy to make and miss them. The consequence of being thinly staffed and therefore often working in haste. Fixing now.

  9. Jon Cloke

    Am I not the only one who finds making an animal do these tricks embarrassing and undignified? I have two dogs and they’re pretty good at the basic commands which keep them safe, but why would I want my dog to play dead or jump through a hoop?

    Seems to me that people who do this have a basic personality problem – bottom line, how would they like to be made to do those things if someone else had the power to make them do them?

    1. Bugs Bunny

      I’ve had cats and one dog and some animals believe it or not like to learn to do “tricks” interacting with humans. One cat used to come after me scratching my leg to do tricks with him like roll over, shake hands, jump here, jump there, catch the mouse, etc. My current dog companion couldn’t be bothered to play games except for catch the ball and after 2 catches just stares at me, no matter how many treats are forthcoming.

      I’ve been to Agility Training with him and all the dogs there get excited by the other dogs interacting with their humans to the point where it really looks like they’re competing with each other not just acting on Pavlovian training.

      I guess I mean to say there’s more to it than it may seem. It’s part of socializing with companion animal species.

      1. Oregoncharles

        I was just playing with a client’s dog that’s pretty passionate about Fetch; she’ll pester you until you throw that stick again. (If you don’t throw it, she chews it. Good thing I was wearing gloves.)

        Our dog was very enthusiastic about fetching things we threw, not so about giving them back. She thought it was more a game of tug-of-war.

        Most of our pets are predators, like people. Chasing things is part of their basic makeup.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I dunno. The cat seems to like that this leads his human to pay a lot of attention to him.

      Richard’s cats start yowling at him if he doesn’t start doing his daily trick session on time because they like getting their treats. They clearly look forward to it.

      I had a cat I leash trained and he liked going outside and being the center of attention. But the problem is he had to be taken out at least once a week to keep him used to street noise, which is severe in NYC (we humans are used to tuning it out, but this is one reason newbies to NYC get freaked out, it’s sensory overload). It would be too cold in the winter to do that. I should have carried him out tucked in my coat and taken him outside for 10 mins every week to keep him acculturated to it, but I neglected to do so, with the result that after 3 months of not going out, he lay down on the sidewalk, too nervous to stroll about and stick his nose into things as he had before.

      And ferrets LOVE doing tricks:

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I might well be mistaken, but I am sure that my two guinea pigs ( Dougal & Jack ) have developed an almost comedic routine in order to lure me into their presence, especially in the evening when they get their beloved fresh cut grass treat. They are long haired & look like mops which always has me giggling when they run around their compound area squealing & doing what I believe is called ” ” popcorning “.

        Sometimes when it is not feeding time if they make me laugh, it appears to set them off & me trying to suppress it usually has the opposite effect.

        Am I actually the trained one ?

    3. Eureka Springs

      @Jon, People make other people do much worse all of the time.

      Hate Russia, roll over and play stupid… Good boy!

    4. ambrit

      You have just described the ‘average’ worker to manager relationship perfectly.
      Only, in this iteration of the program, the ‘animals’ have to clean out their own cages.
      Your servitor;

    5. nihil obstet

      I suspect that most animals experience learning and performing tricks as playing games with the human rather than as being manipulated into doing unpleasant things. The main problem domestic pets have is boredom, and learning activities relieve that. Given a choice between being left alone and going out to shoot baskets with a family member (why would anyone want to make you throw a round rubber ball through a hoop?!), which would you choose?

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      The young cat, abandoned on our doorstep last May at about three weeks of age, makes up games in addition to being a huge lover of playing fetch-the-whatever. His favorite things to fetch are fur-covered catnip mice and emery boards. And yes, watching him pick up the latter in his teeth does, indeed, set mine on edge. He also attempts to open the vertical blinds by twisting the rod with those teeth, and the other day he turned on the desk fan then perched on a document tray to enjoy the breeze.

      There are pets who are happy to just hang around, and there are pets who are way too scary smart. The latter require interaction lest they come up with ways to self-entertain that can be, shall we say, somewhat destructive.

  10. Jack White

    My effort to repost the WV teacher strike gofundme has been removed by Facebook three times. Try it!

    1. Webstir

      I recently dropped facebook. They were flagging as spam any links I posted in argument from here, the DSA, Ian Welsh, Truthout, Etc. I’m going to set up pseudo accounts down at the library soon just to troll them. We CAN take their power by remaining anonymous.

    2. DJG

      Jack White: I just posted the link. Did you make a comment to “tack it down”? Of course, I only posted a half hour ago.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      If this is a rule-breaker, my apologies in advance. However, I haven’t lost faith in the usefulness of Facebook for communicating facts.

      Those having links they wish to post and being blocked by Facebook are welcome to post at . So far, I’ve not had problems with censorship there, possibly because the group membership is still too small to be noticed, and most of them appear to be spammers.

      Posts require approval, but my fellow moderator and I are quite good about checking.

    4. JacobiteInTraining

      I’ve donated, and to those that can afford it I hope you do too. Saw this link in the donation comments too, spot on:

      “You can tell them in the country, tell them in the town
      Miners down in Mingo laid their shovels down
      we won’t pull another pillar, load another ton
      or lift another finger until the union we have won

      Stand up boys, let the bosses know
      Turn your buckets over, turn your lanterns low
      There’s fire in our hearts and fire in our soul
      but there ain’t gonna be no fire in the hole

      Daddy died a miner and grandpa he did too,
      I’ll bet this coal will kill me before my working days is through
      And a hole this dark and dirty an early grave I find
      And I plan to make a union for the ones I leave behind

      Stand up boys, let the bosses know
      Turn you buckets over, turn your lanterns low
      There’s fire in our hearts and fire in our soul
      but there ain’t gonna be no fire in the hole

      There ain’t gonna be no fire in the hole”

  11. David Carl Grimes

    Re: Well Fargo. Someone should go to jail already. They have had one too many “errors.”

    1. crittermom

      Totally agree. And wouldn’t it be nice if it weren’t just the ‘low-hanging fruit’ this time that are punished (think Lorraine Brown of LPS)? Yeah, sure. One can dream.
      Years of abuse to customers by the TBTJ banks & the “Oops” reaction by the govt continue to leave a disgusting taste in my mouth. Enough is enough, as WF bank continues to prove they’re among the worst of the offenders. When it becomes ‘old news’ that W(T)F bank has once again broken the law, it’s just further proof ‘our’ govt has abandoned its people.

      (Rumors that Eric Holder may throw his hat in the ring for 2020 leave me truly nauseous!)

      1. David Carl Grimes

        There should be a three strikes law against TBTF banks. Three strikes and they’re out. Their banking license is removed or they are broken up by the Feds.

        1. John k

          And likely big changes at a bank after the first strike.
          Great reason to elect Bernie, with Warren at treasury.
          Tulsi for veep… youth, military, female, pretty face, geographically far apart…

    2. rd

      In non-fiduciary accounts, there is a good chance that this is a non-story. As long as the investments are “suitable” they would be ok. The financial industry has spent huge dollars on political contributions to ensure this.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors

    Now that is plain nuts! Of course teenagers are going to be depressed. That is in their job description. How about anyone that does not fit the norm. Or who are gay. Or who are under-challenged. Take your pick. Would they qualify as depressed? So of course these kids would have to be medicated and dosed to the gills. Have some psychiatric care going. Start them off early and get them to learn that if you have a life problem, just pop a pill to make you feel better. That’s the way it works, isn’t it?

    Seriously! How many people here would look forward to going through puberty and teenage-hood all over again if given the chance. You know, reset the clock for when you were 12 years old. Even if you could go back with your present knowledge you would still have to go through years of the inanity of the school years. Suffer acne again The first dates. Exams. High school society. And then to have on top of these years some dude say that you aren’t smiling enough so here kid, start taking these pills and we’ll increase the dosage when you get use to them. Not this little black duck.

    As for teenage-hood and depression, I will yield the floor to the words of one Bart Simpson-

    1. Webstir

      And I have to wonder: Who are the parents who are allowing this???
      Granted, I got my undergrad in psych with a clinical emphasis. I also worked for some time in my 20’s at a Level 2 group home where we dispensed the XYZ (shorthand for Xanax/Zoloft et al) drugs like pez.
      But at 47 years old I was recently just blessed with having my first child and if someone approaches me about psychologically medicating my child for behavioral issues (I was a VERY high energy kid and didn’t really get adulthood until my early 30’s) they will run into a fury they likely have never experienced.
      WTF? Who lets their child be a neurologic lab rat?

      1. wilroncanada

        Mother’s Little Helper…The Rolling Stone.
        A couple of years before that song came out, I think, I went out with a young schoolteacher about 3 yearl older than me (I was in grade 13, Ontario). She taught grade 2 in an upscale district of an Ontario city.
        One day she told us a story about an afternoon in her class. In those days in that city, most of the children went home for lunch. When she started back in the afternoon, one of her students said she wasn’t feeling well, and could she lie down in the nurse’s office. When asked why she suddenly felt sick, she said she thought it might have been the aspirin her mother gave her at lunchtime. When asked why she got the aspirin, she said her mother gave her one every day to keep her healthy. Judy then asked her classmates if they also got aspirin every day to prevent them getting sick. A substantial number answered in the affirmative.
        Pharma futures.

    2. jrs

      teenage hood is hard and yet some teenagers have a social life, date (who knows a few even have sex I have been told certainly wasn’t me), prepare for college, etc.. while others self-harm, become avoidant, attempt suicide, and become addicts (often full addiction starts a bit later though), so really all of them need no help whatsoever? The problem is the help is very seldom helpful …

    3. Summer

      “And then to have on top of these years some dude say that you aren’t smiling enough so here kid, start taking these pills and we’ll increase the dosage when you get use to them.”

      Not if I had the same father. What THAT dude says would go and he would ask, “Exactly what is the kid supposed to be smiling about? If I’m concerned with her smile, I’ll take her to the dentist.”

  13. hemeantwell

    Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors Guardian. Help me. Kids will lie either to get meds or look healthy, depending on what outcome they prefer.

    I completely agree with your reservations about mandatory screening. It’s far better to attack the stigma, broadly educate about the experience of loss and conflict (trying to stay away from “mental disorder” and the like) and encourage them to come forward. One thing about medication here, though: as far as I’m aware, anti-depressant medication is not something people enjoy. It’s something they use to get by.

    However, some docs might rx a stimulant. That’s a completely different story, as an article recently linked here maintained. Most people find stimulants …. stimulating, which tends to shade in to fun.

  14. Croatoan

    On “Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors”:

    This angers me to no end. Because instead of truly fixing the cause of the depression (stress) they will medicate these kids into submission. Depression is a normal response to an effed up situation. I am in no way saying genetics does not make one more susceptible to stress, but are their genetics in some way wrong? NO!

    Instead of offering pills, offer them a new environment.

    1. Webstir

      Apparently we’re commenting in stereo.
      We know why this happens, too. Drug companies don’t make money off of behavioral interventions. Psychologists do. And we all know psychology is just a bunch of “soft science” voodoo. Better to create generations of neuro-chemical lab rats and watch them go Algernon.

      1. Charlie

        “Better to create generations of neuro-chemical lab rats and watch them go Algernon.”

        I have to say how much I adore that reference, and agree with the comment. While I’m an IO grad student, I’m in constant discussions with my fellow clinical grads about the danger of just throwing a pill at everything. It’s lazy, and profitable, unfortunately.

      2. jrs

        well therapy often sucks badly (maybe academic psychology research is ok, but that’s not the help anyone will be offered). However medicating young is also debatable as is not medicating and growing up with a lot of limiting psychological disturbances (depression and anxiety for instance). There is no ideal solution, a better society would help, but that isn’t going to fix all teenage issues as those aren’t directly caused by that (it would help grown adult issues a lot because those tend to be about things like economics and employment).

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Nobody wants to accept that some things cannot be fixed. Tell me how you treat kids who have abusive parents in worse, what look like high functioning families, so no one would believe their stories if they mustered up the guts to tell them to, say, a guidance counselor? This is where class intersects with behavior in all sorts of bad ways: the local authorities are perfectly happy to believe lower income parents might behave badly, but not ones who live in the better parts of town.

          I’m sure readers either know personally or second hand of stories like this, but a good friend’s father was a corporate exec who would slap her hard across the face at least once a night at dinner. He broke her sister’s nose doing that. She started dining alone at the age of 11.

          My understanding is that there are no good treatments for anxiety. Meditation is as good as it gets. And maybe cognitive behavioral therapy if the anxiety has specific triggers that aren’t rational.

          1. Croatoan

            Having anxiety, and being hospitalized at times for it but now almost being free of it, I will add my two cents:

            Medications, like klonopin, are good for emergencies only. Very bad for the kidneys even short term.
            I did not feel well, or better, on any medication long term.
            Ethanol does more for me than any drug and is safer at medicinal doses in bringing me to remission than any medication. It blocks voltage gated sodium and calcium ion channels which may be at the root of some anxiety disorders. Making sure you have enough molybdenum will override most of the dangers associated with ethanol. (On a side note, I think that I may have been epigentically conditioned to need alcohol. but that is just an idea. Both of my male grandparents were heavy drinkers but not alcoholics. The heavy drinker lived to be 98.)

            CBT helped me a lot.

            Mediation alone does not work, it needs to be coupled with understanding what the Buddha taught, which most mindfulness practices think is secondary or irrelevant. (ie “Secular Buddhism).

            Changing my environment and enforcing it was key. I consider my anxiety a physical handicap. So just like someone in a wheel chair needs a ramp, I need a low stress environment. Receiving my disability INSURANCE (SSD) saved my life and will allow me to work part time soon. I would have been dead without it.

            Changing my diet was crucial as well. Higher omega 3, lower omega 6, lower protein, whole foods, no sugar, higher fiber, and a varied diet.

            Knowing my genetics, and how it made me ore likely to have these disorders from a stressful childhood was also important. It helped me understand more completely what was in my control and what was out of it.

    2. Webstir

      Also, fun fact: Anyone know who prescribes by far the most neuro-modulating drugs for kids? Psychologists? Psychiatrist?
      Neither. That would be GP’s who study about a semester of psych.

      1. Expat

        There are a few pressure point on GP’s.

        First, they are pressured by drug companies. Drug companies not only flog their wares, but they do provide training and education, obviously designed to promote writing prescriptions but also often the only continuing education the MD gets. Doc’s get more money from writing prescriptions than not, so there is the financial incentive.

        Second, patients often demand these drugs. They have seen the tv ads and know that this drug is right for them. They don’t feel treated or cured if all the doc says is, “Get out of the house, Walk around. Meet your friends. You’ll feel better.” And why should they. They are paying thousands of dollars a month in insurance and fees; they expect tangible treatment. And as an American, they are trained to believe in instant gratification and instant results. Give me pills or give me…another doc who will give me pills.

        The AMA, Big Pharma, Washington, and Wall Street also love pills. Pills=profits.

        The American “healthcare” system is a giant money machine. It’s expensive not because it is better than any other (it is much worse, in fact) but because of profits.

        So Yves, take your Happy Pills like a good little capitalist patriot and be quiet. Trust me. Once you take your happy pills, you won’t complain again!

      2. wilroncanada

        Psychologists in most of Canada, as far as I know, cannot prescribe pharmaceuticals. They are not MDs, They are PhDs–my oldest daughter is one.

        An interesting book on the topic of meds is: Joanna Moncrieff–The Myth of the Chemical Cure–2009.
        The major impetus for pharma treatment of “mood disorders” is price; ie, the benefits to doctors from major pharma, and the lower cost to taxpayers of pharma. That is, if all treatments end with “cures” at six months, with no recurrence. Beyond six months the additional cost of talk therapy becomes less expensive than the nearly inevitable recurrence of the “disorders” after discontinuing pharma, not to mention the tendency to have meds prescribed for long terms or for life.
        Even reading a self-help book eventually beats pharma in cost to society.
        To quote that famous medical expert Morry Amsterdam: anybody who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.

    3. schultzzz

      hey, if it’s good enough for the veterans who have bravely served our country, then it’s good enough for the surly teens.

    4. ppp

      When I was 13 my father made the mistake of calling the police when me and my brother were fighting. He thought they were going to come and tough talk me into ceasing to misbehave. Instead, they arrested me and took me to juvenile hall, the beginning of a nightmare of dealing with the state of California for the next 3 years. I was in juvenile hall for a month, and they made me talk to a psychiatrist/psychologist, to whom I said essentially nothing, because I regarded them as my enemy. They seem to have used my silence as confirmation that I was suffering from depression, and so they prescribed me prozac. I had to take the prozac pill everyday, non-negotoiable, or I couldn’t get out of jail. But I usually hid it in the corner of my mouth and stashed them in a slit in the window of my cell. Once it melted on my tongue, made my entire tongue numb. I think the fact that I was in jail made me depressed, it became a kind of self fulfilling prophecy- we throw you in jail, you get angry and depressed, we diagnose you with depression and force you to take pills. I got out after a month, and they put me on ”indefinite” probation. When you do not have a set date for when you will be completely free again, it messes with your mind. Indefinite, to a 13 year old, means forever. So I became more angry, more depressed, because I was stuck in the system with no end date. It could have been five years later- I just needed to know a date so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The system manufactures depression. My probation officer was a psychopath, sans doute. I couldn’t pee for a drug test once, because I get nervous and can’t pee when a 40 year old man is staring at my penis. She almost arrested me for that, but I managed to squeeze out some, luckily. Another time, I ate a poppyseed muffin, a big one from costco. Then I took a drug test and it came up positive for opium. I was 13, I did not know poppyseeds would give me a false positive. My p.o told me I was doing heroin, that drug tests were foolproof and I was using poppyseed as an excuse. She did not for a millisecond consider the possibility I was telling the truth. That ruined my program, they then sent me to foster care for 6 months in a town 8 hours away from home. In weekly therapy I mostly played connect 4 with the psychologist. Needless to say, this broken system fueled my anger and depression, and the echo of that still reverberate in my adult life. The lessons I draw from this are: Do not invite the state into your family life unless it is a matter of life or death, and dont give kids pills after 3 or 4 30 minute sessions with a psychiatrist there are more but im too tired to keep writing. Anyway, thats what I think of when you say offer a new environment instead of pills. Bet it would have worked for me. That being said medication has worked wonders for my schizo brother, so im not opposed to meds or anything, just use it as a LAST resort. Good to screen for depression in teens, but potential for abusive prescribing practices for sure.

      1. Massinissa

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience, I really appreciate it. Its the kind of thing more people need to hear.

      2. ewmayer

        Dude, that is effed up beyond words. May I ask how your dad felt about the ‘success’ of his brilliant tough-love scheme?

        1. ppp

          Years later we were talking about it and he told me he greatly regretted being naive enough to call the police and think they would behave more or less rationally. Once they get their claws in you its hard to get out of the incarceration system. But I do feel stronger for it, in the sense that I am terrified of being arrested as an adult, and haven’t been yet. It made me waaaay more cautious than I otherwise would have been.

  15. Webstir

    Re: Screen teenagers annually for depression, say US doctors

    Oh, I’m sure there’s no pressure coming from the drug companies on this one.
    I was just talking about this the other day with a co-worker. We identify early children who don’t fit the “behavioral norm” and start pumping them full of SSRI’s and Ritalin to artificially bring their behavior within the norm, all the while ignoring the behavioral interventions that children need to internalize in order to successfully mature emotionally. But then, the age of majority happens. And then, we expect them to be model mature adults when they choose to longer “take the pill” the adults have been doping them up with their entire life.
    Yeah. Right.
    I would have been one of the those kids if I had been born about 5-years later than I was.

      1. roxy

        Many parents would resist “screening” for depression due to the shame of their kid being “abnormal”. They’re busy pretending there’s nothing wrong and demanding the kid just “snap out of it”.

        1. polecat

          Well then, perhaps it’s the parents that are in need of an “intervention”, rather then their offspring …

          1. jrs

            definitely true, problems in people below the age of majority are caused by the family environment they live in period (though there is a genetic component), even when they are caused by say school bullying they are often contributed by parents not helping kids deal with this, or confronting the schools with this, or helping them change schools.

      2. Pogonip

        I think that by current standards nearly all little boys, and many little girls, would have been considered hyperactive.

        I would not be surprised if, when They have finally drugged all the little boys, They start finding reasons to drug little girls.

  16. dontknowitall

    Regarding Putin’s new nuclear powered cruise missile which some people are saying is unlikely to be real I would like to point out the fact that in 2016 a mystery radioactive particle was detected above the arctic. That particle usually found in nuclear reactors or as a product of a nuclear detonation could not be tracked to any known sources and Fukushima was specifically ruled out.

    “Scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have discovered what they claim is an atmospheric aerosol particle enriched with the uranium which is used in nuclear fuel and bombs.
    A “highly unusual aerosol particle containing a very small amount of enriched uranium” was tracked at an altitude of seven kilometers above Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, according to a US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.

    The scientists underscored that the particle with the enriched uranium-235 was spotted for the first time in twenty years of observations. The uranium-235 is specifically used for making nuclear fuel and bombs.”

    I believe we may now have the culprit – a nuclear powered cruise missile prototype with a poorly shielded nuclear reactor for an engine.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      I would argue that the three examples in the article are perfect examples of using someone’s life experience in their new professions. This is the kind of job transition when you get older that we should be celebrating. And they were all in their late 50’s/early 60’s so that is not past normal retirement age.

  17. ergo cogito

    I remember John Lilly (LSD/dolphin researcher) reporting in the early 1970s on some extremely bizarre ketamine hallucinations he’d experienced. Sounded like a warning to me.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m increasingly of the view that hallucinogens are probably good for you once in a while as long as you have a minder to make sure you don’t try to do things that seem sensible at the time, like walking into traffic or trying to fly. There are tons of religious traditions that involve ritual use of hallucinogens, and I’ve never read anyone saying that they were harmful.

      Of course, you can have a bad trip, and being stuck in one till the stuff wears off could be pretty awful.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Yves Smith
        March 3, 2018 at 10:03 am
        Speaking from experience, I agree wholeheartedly that the occasional use of hallucinogens of known quality and quantity can be very enlightening and, as others have said, it can “reset” one’s mental and emotional state.

        The research on the use of hallucinogens for treating depression now includes both ketamine and psilocybin. IIRC they found with psilocybin that 2 doses about a week apart can ameliorate depression for up to several months.

        As you mentioned, Yves, it is very important to have a knowledgeable guide as well as a suitably prepared environment. With adequate care and attention to the size of the dose, a bad trip is unlikely. And, if the trip starts to go bad the guide can usually help one get through it.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          To those (a guide and prepared environment), I wonder if the state of the mind before a trip is important as well.

          That is, is the trip going to be for some higher purpose, and not just for curiosity fun?

          1. ppp

            Yeah, it basically magnifies any emotion you might have, if you are really happy you will be ecstatic. If you are sad, you will be horrendously depressed. So only do it if you are having a good day. It doesn’t really matter whether you are searching for a higher purpose, or just doing it for fun. It is so powerful it makes you have an enlightening experience as long as you are in a safe, comfortable place, I have observed. Preferably nature, isolated from others. Stay away from people who are not on the same wavelength (substance) as you, generally it gives dosed people anxiety I have noticed. Try laying facedown spread eagle on some grass, and you will feel like you are holding the entire planet, haha.

        2. ambrit

          I agree with the above with the proviso that the reason for entering such chemically induced mental states is of prime importance. Taking a “trip” for recreational reasons is, at best, a dubious idea. “Live fast, die young” comes close to the central idea behind such events.
          Most ‘religious’ reasons for ‘tripping’ are generally related to the individuals’ relationships with the ‘world’ and the things in it.
          LSD was originally used for psychiatric purposes. It was a modern version of a shaman guiding the acolyte through an integrative experience with his of her environment. As a therapist I once knew said: “Psychiatry is much more of an art than a science.”
          On a related note, I will observe that ‘true’ religiosity has an almost clinical effect on the ‘believer.’ When Phyl says the Rosary, she being acculturated as an old line Catholic, I swear that she approaches a trance state. Now we have ketamine and ‘chemical spirituality.’ Everything that was old is new again.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Even when one tries meditation, if one’s troubled (or even if not), it’s possible to encounter troubles in that empty state of mind, and good to meditate with others.

            So, I imagine, if the tripper or a smoker is having emotional, spiritual or mental problems in life, he or she could be in for more than just recreational fun.

            1. ambrit

              If, as has been asserted elsewhere, ‘recreational’ drugs use is an attempt at self medication, the old “chicken or egg” question comes to the fore.
              I did notice, many years ago, that “Raves” were group events, with drugs. Essentially, shamanistic rites for the modern day.
              As for ‘troubled’ meditation, well, isn’t that a contradiction of terms? Can one be both at once? As with my above comment, the reason for meditating is important. Meditating for relief of pain would be therapy, no? Meditating for transcendence would be…
              No wonder the master walks around the room hitting the acolytes with the stick.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The story goes that, once in a while, some monks would encounter evil spirits while they meditate.

                Troubles in meditation land, you might say.

        3. Webstir

          Yup. Speaking from experience as well (if it grows it goes) a controlled environment is key. Never around others who are not sharing the experience and always out in nature. If a newcomer to the experience, sharing it with those that have been there before is also recommended. That said, Huxley nailed it: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

            1. The Rev Kev

              And the term ‘doors of perception’ influenced a sixties rock-group who called themselves The Doors.

      2. Wukchumni

        When I first indulged it was in the back of beyond in the High Sierra and what a profound experience it was. Then I got home and started talking to friends to see if they had ever done so, and every one of them had taken fungi in the city and had varying levels of horrible experiences, and a few swore it was their 1st and last time.

        Location, location, location.

        You don’t really need a minder, although it’s nice to have good friends you know well playing along. I always found it very awkward meeting somebody new while tripping, don’t go there.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I take it you were not at Mammoth Mountain today? Big avalanche, but no reports so far of injuries or people missing.

          1. Wukchumni

            We ski next week, so missed the piste. It takes snow about 3-4 days to settle after falling in the Sierra, and we’ll be x-country skiing through the Giant Forest in the middle of the week, among 15 to 20 foot wide giant sequoias, where a carpet of 4 to 5 feet of newly laid frozen white awaits.

        2. Oregoncharles

          The one time I took magic mushrooms was on a hike in the bosque (riparian forest) in New Mexico. I didn’t really notice much of any effect, except that the snake we found had remarkably bright colors. But then, we didn’t take much.

          1. Wukchumni

            You seem to have caught a little of the “Hey, who turned up the color knob on my vision?” quest.

      3. perpetualWAR

        Actually, this is incredibly bad advice. Hallucinigens can cause some minds to bend forever sideways. My sister is one of those. Dropped windowpane acid in the 60’s and never came back.

        1. Paul Cardan

          I’m not sure any advice was offered, but, if it was, it looks to me like it had to do with hallucinogens generally. I’ve of course heard tales of the person who tripped on LSD and never came back. I’ve also heard the one about the person who, having dosed, attempted flight. Who hasn’t heard such stories? They’re the stuff of urban legend, bogeyman variety. In the one case I know of in which the permanent vacation story is credible, it turns out that the person in question had been constantly taking copious amounts. No doubt, it’s possible to overdose. I suppose it’s even possible for someone to take it once, in pure form, in a sensible amount, and suffer irreparable damage. But I know of no case like this. Were there such cases, I don’t know anything about their frequency. Nor, I suspect, does anyone else, given the obstacles to serious research.

          In any case, LSD is just one of a number of quite different hallucinogens, mushrooms being another. The only credible stories of bad times on mushrooms that I know of have to do with nausea and bad trips, the former resulting from failure to ingest the mushrooms with something else (e.g., blended into a papaya smoothie) and the latter stemming from poor set and setting.

          In light of the recent debate about the legality of assault rifles, it’s interesting to ponder the fact that hallucinogens like LSD are classified as Schedule I drugs. So, purchasing hallucinogenic mushrooms is against the law, but a teenager with a history of mental illness can legally purchase an AR 15. What, then, do the people who make our laws really regard as dangerous, considering the laws they’ve actually made?

          1. pretzelattack

            yeah, there was as much propaganda about acid as there has been about pot. the only case of a semipermanent trip i know of involved a guy who was selling it and dropped quite a few hits to avoid being busted by the cops. i knew another lady who said she used to fill caps for owsley back in the day that always seemed slightly stoned, but it didn’t seem to bother her.

            1. perpetualWAR

              So, when I inform you that a family member used acid and has permanently had her mental state changed as a result, that is propaganda?

              The “urban legends” of people using and had their life permanently altered are not legends, as I can attest.

              1. John Zelnicker

                March 3, 2018 at 5:31 pm
                March 3, 2018 at 11:41 am
                If you were referring to my comment this morning, I was in no way suggesting that everyone can or should take hallucinogens. They are very potent drugs, even in small doses, so there are plenty of people who should never get near them.

                A certain level of mental security is a necessary prerequisite among others. As someone said above, hallucinogens will amplify whatever emotions are prominent when beginning a trip. And some people are just going to react badly and without warning.

                I am sorry to hear about your family member and I don’t doubt your story. It does indeed change one’s brain. I have a childhood friend who had some kind of episode at college that left him on heavy psychotropic meds, although functional. I’m pretty sure it was LSD, but his parents blamed marijuana because he could never bring himself to tell them the truth about his drug use.

                1. Wukchumni

                  I always pondered the potential for fungi as a weight loss tool, as once you get going on your journey, you’re never hungry for the next 3 to 5 hours, and what causes the suppression of appetite, specifically?

                2. homeroid

                  Some people are not able to handle the experience. Psychological subtle problems get amplified.
                  I did LSD at the age of i think 14-15. I was fine as i knew it was the drug and not me. Also had a very good friend who was straight and drove me around to different places. Backroads in a 68, 442 WOW what a rocketship that was. Finding that hallucinogens were agreeable to me has helped my life’s understanding greatly. I watched as people wasted away doing too much LSD. Sad as that is, drugs wont fix personal problems.
                  I have learned much about myself over the years. Mushrooms are the best safe bet. Though stay away from the amanitas-trust me. Mescaline sulfate is with out a doubt my pick, pure in crystalline form. Set and setting BIG requirement. I have watched over others as they enjoyed their trip. That is what it’s all about. Being a good friend.

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    I knew someone who took the wrong amanita – pantherina is brown, not red, and the name is indicative. He was in a coma for a week.
                    Recovered OK, though, as far as I know.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            I think there is also an issue with LSD v. what was used to substitute for it.

            There was a fair bit of LSD research, in clinical settings, before it was made illegal. No reports of anyone going on trips and never coming back, no addictive tendencies.

            After it was made illegal, my understanding is it became pretty much impossible to get bona fide LSD and what was sold as LSD could be problematic.

            1. John Zelnicker

              @Yves Smith
              March 3, 2018 at 10:40 pm
              The adulteration of LSD was a huge problem back in the day, however, there were ethical underground chemists such as Owsley Stanley. Trusting your source and the “supply chain” was critical.

        2. Oregoncharles

          In the 70s, among hippies there were always one or two “fried brain” cases – who just seemed very odd, and we assumed it was caused by drugs. However, I don’t remember ever confirming the theory. “What happened to you?” is not exactly a kind question.

          That’s very sad about your sister. The usual theory is that such people were mentally unstable in the first place, the drug brought on something that was coming anyway. It’s one reason I never toked or used psychedelics. And since they’re illegal, a bad batch is always possible. My brother was schizophrenic; it was brought on by “primal scream” therapy, which was fashionable at the time. But he was also a clinical psychologist, and didn’t think the therapy caused his problems.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            That makes sense, that schizophrenics might be vulnerable to damage by hallucinogens.

            FWIW, I also recall from the summary I read that some people don’t get high on LSD. Again, this was the bona fide experiments with the real stuff. I forget the exact percent, but it was way higher than you’d assume, like ~10% of the subjects. The researchers tried higher doses and still no result.

  18. Expat

    Re: Korean prostitutes
    The US has literally and figuratively screwed over the entire Korean peninsula. We provoked the war with the North and then bombed it back into the Stone Age after torturing and slaughtering much of its population. We installed a despotic regime in the South run by WWII collaborators and proceeded to massacre civilians to keep the regime in power. In case anyone has delusions of this being ancient history, South Korea was a military dictatorship run by the US military until the late 80’s. And now we are shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover underage prostitution sponsored by the same regime that forced thousands of women into prostitution for the Japanese army!

    And we wonder why North Korea is paranoid and wants nukes. Wouldn’t you?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it was in the book When China Ruled the Seas, that I first read about China demanding virgins from Korea.

      And this is from Wikipedia:

      am, Champa, and Okinawa.[71] During the early Ming dynasty, young Korean virgin girls and eunuchs were occasionally demanded as tribute by Ming Emperors,[72][73][74][75][76][77][78][79] such as the Xuande Emperor,[80] for the imperial harem in imitation of the previous dynasty’s precedent, as were Vietnamese women and eunuchs.[81] Korea stopped sending human tribute after 1435.[74] A total of 98 virgins and 198 eunuchs were sent from Korea to Ming.[82]that I first read about China demanding virgins from Korea.

      I don’t know if they trust China more than they trust America.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve found myself shouted down by self described feminists on more than one occasion when I’ve suggested that for the west (specifically USasians) to make a fuss about WWII comfort women is the height of hypocrisy. During both the Korean and Vietnam wars there were numerous examples of, shall we say, not entirely voluntary prostitution. Nick Turse in his book on Vietnam provides a number of documented example of overt sex slavery in Vietnam in the ’60’s and 70’s.

      Not of course that this is to justify the Japanese intransigence on the comfort women, but there was nothing unique about the phenomenon, and there are far more recent examples. Yet I’ve not heard one squeak ever from any NGO or feminist organisation suggesting that the US should pay reparations for this.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would also like to hear from them about North Korea’s Army of Beauties.

        Is it “whatever means necessary to achieve peace,” or ‘another capitulation to Western men’s fantasies about Asian women?’

        For me, peace is paramount.

  19. The Rev Kev

    Longer upgrade cycles and growing purchases of used smartphones said to threaten flagship sales

    No real surprises here. Remember when computers first really started to hit the shelves in the 90s and there was a mystique to them? To make them really work you had to learn about configuration files and trumpet winsock and the like. Now? You go into a store and ask about computers and will tell you that they are past the electric-juicers and in between the electric-toasters and microwaves.
    Why did they think that mobiles would be any different. There is no real big deal about them anymore in spite of how Apple tries to push it. They are now simply tools to use to stay in contact with and do other stuff with. A platform if you will. They are just another accessory. Of course, if you are buying one to show off your status and impress other people with then we are talking about a completely different sort of tool then.

    1. djrichard

      By the way, if you want to get a used phone with some decent horsepower behind it, ubergizmo is a good place to go to to compare benchmarks. It’s how I decided on an LG G5 as I discovered its benchmarks were actually better than the newer generation LG G6 and not too far away from the Iphone 7.,lg-g5,lg-g6/. You can actually mod that URL to add in whatever phones you’re interested in.

      Just ignore their performance divided by price comparisons, as they use the new price as opposed to the street price for used phones. That said, those graphs are good if you’re interested in a new phone and want to see where the best bang for buck is.

      Anyways, the ebay price for the LG G5 was dirt cheap. And I plan to sweat-the-asset of this purchase as long as I can.

      1. Duck1

        In industry life cycle theory isn’t this what is known as a mature industry? Following maturity comes decline, I’m told. I thought some of the tech bro had business degrees.

      2. bob


        I can’t wait for a non-googled alternative to the iphone.

        Been waiting 10 years now.

  20. XXYY

    Human intelligence can’t be transferred to machines Washington Post

    As a technologist I’m in violent agreement with the headline, though the analysis seemed thin.

    Future history will show today’s infatuation with “artificial intelligence” to be in the same category as 19th century mechanical humanoid automata: immature attempts to map a deficient understanding of the human organism onto the technology of the day. In the earlier conception, humans were just clockwork mechanisms; in today’s AI, humans are conceived as computational machines. Neither is anywhere close to correct.

    The best that can be said about such efforts is that they can often lead to useful technological progress. The 19th century saw astonishing gains in mechanical and electrical design, metallurgy, physics, and material science. The 20th century continued these trends plus the new fields of chemical engineering, electronics, semiconductors, and software. If the creation of “artificial humans” was motivating to workers of the day for any of this, so be it.

    However, there is little hope of creating a simulation of something until you understand it. At present, as Noam Chomsky quips, the best the human race can say is we have a fairly good understanding of large molecules (chemical engineers would probably disagree about even that). Gigantic organisms composed of 10**13 cells, the product of billions of years of evolution in a universe we have little idea about, are completely and utterly beyond our conceptual horizon. (IMO there is also the fundamental question of whether an organism is equipped to ever understand itself. Can a cell ever understand a cell? Can an ant ever understand an ant? Maybe humans will forever be completely inadequate to understand humans.)

    Regarding the present day infatuation with AI as a way of making “artifical humans”, this too shall pass.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does the mind know how the mind work? Can the mind said to be intelligence, if it can’t do that?

      Then, there is this Zen saying:

      Before one embarks on the Way, a mountain is just a mountain.
      When one first enters the Way, a mountain is more than just a mountain
      And eventually, after some hard work, a mountain becomes just a mountain again.

      Is the ability to fear part of intelligence? An intelligent person fears, for example, death to others, and to him/herself, to various degrees, and takes corresponding measures, such as eating health, exercise, avoiding these: cured meats, cooked foods, voting Republicans, etc.

      Through more intelligence, one can conquer the fear of death, perhaps…like Socrates, when he drank hemlock, in order to be consistent with what he believed.

      So, for a machine, that fears no death, the first step is to be programmed to fear death, in order to have the beginning of human intelligence.

      Then, it has to learn to not fear death, to overcome that earlier programmings. Then, it would be really on the Way to Zen, back to where it started in the first place, to be really intelligent.

      1. ambrit

        I half way agree. After all, the basis of computer programming is ‘Ones’ and “Big Empty Circles.’ (1, 0.) Self and Void. Existence and nonexistence. NC and NYT. (Ever notice that NYT is an old fashioned Kabalistic spelling of Nyet, Russian for No? Those wily Tsarists planned long ahead!)

    2. Paul Cardan

      Agreed, especially the part about mapping a deficient understanding of the organism onto the technology of the day. If Hellenistic philosophers had shared our enthusiasms, they’d have considered hydraulics the queen of the human sciences.

      I also agree that the article is thin on analysis, and believe it would pay to first consider what we mean by ‘intelligence.’ To this end, it’s worth considering how we use related terms: ‘prudent’, ‘wise’, ‘clever’, discerning’, ‘circumspect’, ‘quick-witted’, ‘knowledgeable’, but also emotional terms like ‘startled’ or ‘frustrated’, as well as perception terms like ‘see’ or ‘touch’ and terms for sense organs such as ‘eye’. The result would be, in effect, a conceptual analysis, and it would show, among other things, that the terms having to do with intelligence are, when used to talk about a human being, used to describe the whole human being, not a part of a human being like the brain. Also, for whatever organism they’re used to describe, they’re used in connection with terms for perception and emotion. That is, we don’t say that a living being thinks unless it interacts with it’s environs in a particular way, as with alarm in the face of danger, which it doesn’t do unless it perceives, for which sense organs are required.

      As for the question about self-understanding, it seems to me that we mean lots of different things by ‘understanding’, one of which has to do with having one’s questions satisfactorily answered. That which counts as a satisfactory answer depends on one’s purposes, among other things. Relative to all the questions that might ever be asked about human beings given our purposes, will we ever understand ourselves? The question answers itself.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mane attraction: Zoo baffled after 18yo lioness mysteriously acquires male hair RT (Kevin W)

    Could it be in the diet…like meat with growth hormones?

  22. Wukchumni

    ‘Screen teenagers’ sounds like most of them, and adults as well. {insert tv commercial for the latest rectangular signalling device here}

  23. DJG

    Contribution to the West Virginia strike fund made. Thanks for the link.

    Only drawback: GoFundMe wanted a “tip” of 15 percent on the contribution to fund itself. Oh really? That works out to 15 dollars on a 100-dollar donation. Grifters sure have to grift. The brazenness of WWW cheaters astounds.

    In any case, and GoFundMe’s greed notwithstanding:

    Solidarity Forever. The union makes us strong.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Not one word of the West Virginia strike in the entire article. I swear the corporate owners told all news people not to mention one word of it occuring.

  24. DJG

    Antidote of the day is a kinglet (can’t tell if it is has a golden or red crest). Recently, I was at work in my home office, which is on the third floor of my (condo) building, just about at the top of a wonderful linden tree. On a series of bitterly cold days last month, a flock of kinglets, about a dozen of these elegant and tiny birds, was highly active in the crown of the tree. Some of them landed momentarily on the windowsill, too. They enjoyed the sunlight of the morning and were gone. (They may have been feeding on sap–ornithologists please advise!)

    I was reminded atavistically how my ancestors would have seen birds as prophetic. On the worst days of the year: What vitality. What sense of purpose. And with golden crests. (And birds are still prophetic.)

    1. Mark Alexander

      Hmmm. I thought for sure the bird was a white-crowned sparrow, but I could be wrong.

  25. John

    The US military and govt knew exactly what was going on in the Korean bar districts in 1971, at least, because of the pervasiveness of STD’s and treatment at military clinics. Everyone who used the prostitutes got them and some never got cured. The STD’s that never went away were a good reason to not to party with them at night. But they were also the source of really good drugs…anesthesia for being in the military…so you got to know them and hear their stories. A common one was straight out of Leviticus…sold to mama-san by mommy and daddy so younger brother could go to school.
    And the S. Korean military and corporate army had their comfort ladies too. I expect that is still going on.
    A perverse and interesting feature is that the girls and their venues would be segregated by customers..US military, ROK military, foreign civilians, ROK civilians. There were also male and trans sex workers for those so inclined.
    And the drugs were great! High times out on Freedoms Frontier! For God and Country ! USA #1. (sarcasm alert)

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Florida school shooting: US investment giant leans on gun firms BBC

    Don’t forget to lean on the really big boys of the MIC as well.

    Being an investment giant, I have to think it’s doable.

    “Can’t we just all get along with the rest of the world?”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Make that, Being an investment giant, they should be able to do, I think.

      (I am not an investment giant).

    2. bob

      When have activist investors had any effect, on anything really? Not in the past 20 years, at least.

      I think the better way to go about this is as buyers- Local cops and the military are BIG buyers of guns.

      “Stop selling XX gun, or we’ll stop buying any guns from you”

      The friendly relations between nazi’s and the police could confound the issue, or it could just illustrate that we have put nazi’s in control of gun policy.

      I’m not sure why this isn’t talked about more often. It’s a *secret* hiding in plain sight. White supremacists run the gun markets and policy of the US.

        1. bob

          Seems that way. Dick’s sporting goods came out after the latest shooting and announced that it won’t sell AR-15’s anymore.

          Good thing, right?

          They said the same after Newtown. It didn’t happen then, but did result in lots of good press, and the opportunity for more good press this time.

          1. JBird

            There are plenty of guns with the same characteristics as the AR-15 without its appearance. It’s virtue signaling against a weapon’s facade not its actual capabilities.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Someone tell Trump the trade war is over. China won South China Morning Post


    Looking for the common denominator in these:

    1. America should not engage in a trade war.

    2. American already lost a trade war.

    Maybe someone will get a better answer, but the one I can come with is the following:

    It’s OK, or we should be silent (or the American public should not be alerted) that others are engaging in a trade war with us (like it has been for the last few decades), lest we should respond and react in that trade war, and when the other side has won, when the war is over, we, that is, America should not want a trade war, but trade peace or just accept trade defeat. (Peace, peace, please)

    I think that is the message. I could be wrong though.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And there’s the other war that’s been waged and won “while America slept:”

      “Through the tax code, there has been class warfare waged, and my class has won,” Buffett told Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz at a luncheon in honor of the company’s 50th anniversary. “It’s been a rout.”

      The trade war is just one front in the other war, that’s now in what war correspondents call the “mopping up phase.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And the propaganda is, or will be, the class war is over, you have been defeated.

        That’s how they want it…how they want you, or us, to think.

        “They won. You lost.”

        That is, accept it. Go home. Don’t resist.

        1. JTMcPhee

          No, time to learn what the Afghans have to teach us mopes, about asymmetric warfare fought over our own, our native land, the terrain we inhabit. Like the retired North Vietnamese general said to the US senior official after the.US declared victory and went home, when the former opponents met years later and the US officer crowed “We won all the battles!”: “That may be true, but it is also irrelevant.”

          Of course Vietnam, United, is now just another globalized dump, full of Homo economici, running hard in the competitive, negative-sum race to the bottom, its mopes suffering and exacerbating all the profit-underwriting externalities as the rest of the sorry species…

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I think Sunzi or Mao would also suggest, ‘Go with unconventional trade warfare. Mobilize the Deplorables.’

              1. Michael

                Read ‘Distraction’ by Bruce Sterling.
                Teeming hoards of Deplorables are the future…whose team are you on?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Actually that North Vietnamese general was being only polite. Read an article last year about the battles that the US lost in Vietnam and there were more than a few. I suppose that when it comes down to brass tacks, the North Vietnamese won the most important battle of the war – the last one!

    2. The Rev Kev

      General Bernard Montgomery once said that one should never fight a land war in Asia (cough-Vietnam-cough). Could the 21st Century equivalent saying become eventually never to fight a trade war against Asia?
      He also said don’t march on Moscow but that is a saying for another post.

  28. John B

    On trade retaliation, there are two ways it could happen, with very different significance.

    Usually, when the US decides to impose aggressive tariffs, the targets complain to the WTO. After 18 to 24 months of appeals, the WTO rules against the US, and authorizes retaliation. Target countries draw up their list of target industries, and the US backs down. This typically happens with Section 201 cases, like appliances. If it happens again this time, the Trump administration will have gotten two years of protection for “free,” without doing any lasting damage to the WTO system. And he will get significant credit from workers in some important swing states.

    It may not happen that way this time. Target countries may start retaliating immediately. They may consider the US action so outrageous it calls for shortcutting WTO procedures. Or they may reason that if the US is correct about the interpretation of the national security exception in Article XXI of the WTO agreements, any country can unilaterally decide what’s in its security interests, so they too can impose tariffs on whatever they wish. The WTO appellate body might even agree, and decide it can’t do anything about the new US tariffs.

    If any of that happens, then the entire WTO system will look full of holes. Basically, we’ll be back to the old pre-1994 GATT world, where countries had agreements, but they weren’t really enforceable. Usually everyone followed the rules, but the US did throw its weight around sometimes. The US does have considerable weight, precisely because of its huge trade deficit.

    I’d guess the rest of the world will grind their teeth, hold their fire, and wait for the WTO ruling. If the WTO rules against the US, even Trump will probably back down. He’ll have made his political point by then, and WTO-authorized, targeted retaliation by the entire rest of the world would get very painful for US industries. Retaliatory tariffs would be designed to inflict maximum damage on politically and economically important US groups, unlike Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which are designed to remedy specific US problems.

    But I never thought Trump would go this far, so I’ve been wrong so far.

    1. Some guts, but zero glory

      EU being courageous: planning trade tariffs on marginal individual companies with mainly a symbolic function in society and economy.

      Tariffs on industries or product or services categories would actually have an impact so we can’t have that.

      Usually I believe that the EU politicians are spine-less and completely lacking the interest in the well-being of the union and its citizens.

      However playing such a crappy clown in such a crappy movie does take some guts. Absolutely no glory though

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Are they even ‘planning’ retaliatory tariffs? It seems more at the ‘threatening’ stage at present, and damned silly threats at that. They are going to double the price of odd boutique items like $20,000 ‘Merkin hogs! Ye gods and little fishes.

        That’s the problem with spending months sneering and whispering at a creature like Trump from behind their fans. When he does something substantive, all they’re prepared to do is snap their fans shut, and rap him on the wrist in a fit of ladylike pique.

        1. Michael

          “…snap their fans shut, and rap him on the wrist in a fit of ladylike pique.”
          Ha Ha! Cue Melania

    2. jaxbeau

      On Trade Wars

      I’d appreciate a link or two on “other countries have been making trade war on the U.S.”. Please make this for the laywoman. I find the net overwhelmed by opinions on why Trump’s proposed tariffs may at least be just. Clearly, I don’t understand.

      Thank you, NC.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hard to tease out an answer to jaxbeau’s on-point question, but here’s one article that lines up the companies that have complained to the Admin about trade practces of other “nations”: The article notes that many of the complainant corps are owned by foreign interests. Interesting in itself.

        Of course nominally US (mostly,actually, post-Supra-national) corporations are the nes waging the trade wars, and looting and removing the “assets” and decimating the population of the national faux entity (USA!USA!) being invoked as the thing claiming cases belli justification for the current round of tariff-slapping-on…

        Then there’s the war with Canada over lumber:

        “Sequi denarii”? Is that Good Latin?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The SCMP link above has the explicit headline – China waged a trade war on America and won.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Helpful overview.

      However, Trump hasn’t gone that far yet. I am being lazy, but one press story (maybe the WSJ?) made clear how “fire, aim, ready” this is. Even with trade policy, where the Administration has a lot of latitude, it is still required to go through certain procedural hoops that would normally be completed before you went public. They’ll take a bare minimum of 2 weeks and with no one having even started, will probably take longer.

      So Trump has not started anything. He’s just made a big loud noise and may not follow through.

  29. Craig H.

    Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired for opposing hiring caps on white, Asian male nerds

    This reminds me of the joke from long ago “I don’t discriminate against anyone; I hate everybody.” I almost feel sorry for google. They have more money than Scrooge McDuck so going that far is beyond the bounds but the biggest story on google for the foreseeable future is getting sued for diversity incompetence; the lesson for everybody else here seems to be Thou Shalt Not Innovate on Diversity–go to McKinsey and buy a diversity business plan off their shelf.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To be totally safe on that particular front, perhaps they limit the number of all nerds, whether they seek revenge on high school football jocks or not.

      1. Yves Smith Post author


        Having said that, Google was really dumb and lazy re implementation. They could have used all sorts of acceptable not even coded methods, like “With candidates of close to equal ability, favor the out group.” And they could even have added lots of CYA blather about how most people are biased and they overrate men and seen-as-geeky minorities, so overtly favoring the out groups is necessary to compensate for biased grading. That’s confirmed by Google now finding that people skills are way more important to long-term career success at Google than raw tech horsepower.

        Instead, they just tossed male and Asian resumes for certain jobs. Help me. They deserve to have the book thrown at them just for idiocy.

      2. LifelongLib

        I’m a bit of a nerd, and I went through my share of bullying, but it wasn’t from “jocks”. They get a bad rap. The worst bullies in my experience were individuals who seemed to have psychological problems and took it out on those around them, not the popular and socially accepted athletes. Anyway athletes were vulnerable. One kick to the knee could end their chance of a college scholarship or pro career. They weren’t going to risk that and in my experience they didn’t.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope he understands it’s ok to helicopter drop money, not just to the government, but to the people, who then use that money for whatever they need…pay off one’s student loan(s), get a college degree in Denmark, go see a doctor, buy organic foods or fresh vegetables, etc

  30. allan

    Check Your Withholding Math or Risk a Painful Tax Shock [WSJ]
    Many taxpayers have bigger paychecks now, but other changes from the overhaul will affect what they actually owe

    The tax overhaul has probably given your paycheck a welcome bump. Now it’s important to check your withholding—or risk a bad tax surprise in a year.

    To help with this task, the Internal Revenue Service has just released a new tax withholding calculator. There is also a new W-4, the form workers provide to employers to determine paycheck withholding. …

    Treasury officials also recently revised the withholding tables used by employers. In January, they said these revisions would raise take-home pay for more than 90% of workers, helping them enjoy the fruits of the overhaul right away. …

    It raised my take-home pay, too, but when when Steve Mnuchin wants you to “enjoy the fruits right away”,
    you know there’s a catch. After getting my first paycheck based on the new withholding tables, it looked like I was being under-withheld by 15%. Now using the IRS online calculator linked to in the WSJ story, it looks more like 20%.

    My guess is that, especially in high-tax states quite a few people will be in the same boat and,
    if they aren’t careful to check their withholding now,
    will be writing checks in April, 2019 to the IRS for taxes, interest and penalties.
    But that’ll be long after November, 2018.

    Surely the GOP House members who went apesh*t over the supposed politicization of the IRS under the previous administration will launch a thorough investigation of the gaming of the withholding tables to help the GOP keep control of the House in the midterms, amirite?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      My take-home went down, but I live in one of those evil Northeast states whose taxes will be less deductable in the future. Oh and it was all eaten by a health insurance increase as I expected.


  31. Rosario

    RE: Ojeda
    As a staunch anti-imperialist and “complicated” pacifist I don’t know what to do with a guy like Ojeda. He does reflect a terrible reality for the working class poor, his three “choices” from the article, but the implicit enshrining of US imperialism is nearly intolerable for me. The “hallowed ground” BS raised an alarm. I need more positions from him. I’m just not convinced he is anything more than a bread at home, bullets abroad candidate. That position is a moral swamp.

    I work with a guy who was a working class Kentucky farm boy who joined the military and finished his term disillusioned with American imperial benevolence. I nearly joined myself, because, poor, directionless. Fortunately, I was just smart (or dumb) enough, and my mom’s support was just good enough, that I was convinced to go to college instead. It wasn’t a great experience, and I’m in debt, but at least I don’t have to live with the pain of having killed people, or watching my companions either die or become shells of their former selves from injury or PTSD. The tragedy is, from the vets I have worked with and known, they end up emotionally right back where they started the day they left for their tour, directionless, confused, angry, sad, whatever. Any commentary on the plight of working class Americans has to acknowledge the cost, in every respect, of militarism.

    What I would love is for a guy like Ojeda to come along and propose retooling the military for primarily (better: strictly) domestic purposes. Using this strategy, it would be more difficult for him to get baited into the “cutting military” clap trap while simultaneously undermining US imperial projects the world over. As I see it, we’ll have plenty of climate change problems in the next 100 years to keep any military personnel busy. All without the casualties, failed states, and PTSD.

  32. David Carl Grimes

    Coming soon to a major metropolis near you: WeWork, WeLive, WeSleep, WeEat.’ That was the premise at the very start. Our aspiration is to be a holistic support system or lifestyle solution for people who are interested in being open and connected.”

    “But like the perma-freelance future we’re all racing toward, WeLive gives me this sinking feeling that what I’m giving up in security and commitment, I’m not necessarily getting back in freedom. Take it to its logical conclusion: At some point, the youthful gig-economy worker of tomorrow is going to have babies, and she’s going to need to put them in a WeDayCare while she pursues her latest consulting job. Pretty soon our offspring will be learning, living, working, and dying all inside one monolithic company: the many-tentacled WeOctopus. And that gives me the creeps.”

    1. Edward E

      The rise of a great nation takes great leadership. Thanks, now we know why Benedict Donald has such warmest regards for Xi Jinping, upsetting the war hawks of course.

  33. Jen

    From Lisa Lucas, the woman who was hauled out of the WV house of delegates for listing the donations members received from the energy interests:

    “The (shall we call it) friendly attention and the money is just too much of a temptation for most of our lawmakers. I guess they’re worried about getting the stink-eye from Bob Orndoff or Anne Blankenship if they step into the boat the rest of us are furiously trying to bail out.

    A bucket would sure help. But, mercy!, what if the water splashes their silks? What if they don’t get invited to the next party?

    Our lawmakers just need to ignore the lobbyists clutching at their pearls. It’s not the job of our legislators to pass bills written BY corporations FOR corporations. Their job is to make WV a place where people all have the opportunity to do better.

    But there are parts of this state—heck, the country—that our government is simply declining to protect… because money. Chiefly corporate money. But it can be better here in WV, just like it can be in, say, St. James, Louisiana.

    Only we have do the damn work, and stop allowing corporations to sacrifice our communities.”

    Good read, all the way through.

  34. Wukchumni

    Each of the families of the 58 killed in the LV mass murder will get $275k from a $31 million+ GoFundMe campaign, or if you were wounded, there’s a sliding scale of how much you’ll receive in person, from $17k to $200k, depending on how long you spent in the hospital.

    Now, just imagine if there was a payout like that on every senseless gun crime perpetuated in our country…

    Would there’d be people willing to get shot for a chance @ a $52,500 payday for being in the hospital a couple days?

    1. Michael

      We used to call them “stimulus freaks” and we worn it with a badge of honor. Like tripping in a non rural environment.
      (FD: I only respond to posts after 5:00 on Fri or Sat nights in the appropriate chemical imbalance)

  35. Kurtismayfield

    iHeartRadio heading to Bankruptcy

    But the bonuses continue

    iHeartMedia’s debt still totals $20 billion, mostly from a leveraged buyout in 2008. Billboard reports the company has missed payments on two sets of bonds, and MarketWatch reports another $8.3 billion of debt is expected in 2019.

    Leveraged buyout. Hmmm sounds like that was the beginning of the end.

    RadioInk reported Thursday that the iHeartCommunications Compensation Committee approved millions of dollars in bonuses for iHeart CEO Bob Pittman, COO Richard Bressler, and General Counsel Robert Walls. Pittman, who reportedly received $500,000 bonuses each of the past two years, is eligible to earn a bonus for each calendar quarter of 2018 of $2.325 million and Bressler is eligible for $1.325 million.

    But don’t let the bonuses hit you on the way out. Heckuva job!

  36. Marco

    It’s Sat night and I’m drunk way to early but curious what NC commentariat thinks about Matt Stoller tearing into Stephanie Kelton on Twitter wrt Trump’s steel tariffs.

    “POTUS doesn’t understand that, in real terms, imports are a benefit and exports are a cost. Working to lower our standard of living. Sad!”

    “This is only true if you see humans as consumers instead of citizens. The ability to build and produce things is not a cost, it is what wealth actually means. It binds communities [snip] Her assumptions about human nature are impoverished and reactionary.”


    1. John k

      Both views are correct, flip sides of same coin.
      Trade deficit means we get more stuff than we produce, what’s wrong with this pic?
      That the benefit goes to the biggest consumers, the elites that write the laws. The costs accrue to those that no longer make the stuff imports are displacing.
      Economists recognize this, and mouth stuff about more training for displaced workers, but nothing is done for these workers or flyover country and the deplorables staking the hit.
      Odd to me you don’t hear reps and senators from these states railing against globalization, or for compensation for workers or their communities.
      Oh, wait… I remember, it’s all about profits. Sorry, workers, just suck it up.

  37. integer

    SYRIA LEAKS: SUITES, PROPAGANDA AND DIVIDENDS (presented by Publius Tacitus) Sic Semper Tyrannis


    Dated January 12, 2018, the British Diplomatic Telegram (TD) – signed by Benjamin Norman (who tracks Middle East issues at the British Embassy in Washington) – has circulated a lot behind the scenes of the Wehrkunde, the last Munich Security Conference (16-18 February). Why ? Because this document – quite exceptional – reveals the content of a meeting (of the “Small Group on Syria”, bringing together high-ranking diplomats from the United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan ), which should have been kept strictly confidential.

    Why ? Because it reveals, by the menu, the “Western strategy” concerning the war in Syria: to feed and multiply the hostilities by any means to prevent a Pax Russiana; to continue an intense communication campaign on the Russian and Syrian bombings that kill civilians; frame the UN Special Representative for Syria – Staffan de Mistura – with a binding roadmap; sabotage the Sochi peace conference to return to Geneva in a tripartite format: Syrian opposition, Syrian government and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS – mainly made up of Kurdish deputies on the orders of the Pentagon).

  38. rd

    Lead in Melbourne Veggies

    The only surprising thing about this is that testing occurred. In general nobody want to know this information and there aren’t clear deep-pocket responsible parties to do clean-ups, so testing is rarely done. However, any urban areas in developed economies that existing from the late 1800s to 1970s will likely have these test results. due to lead in gasoline, lead paint, and lead in plumbing and building materials, including some roofing elements. It is a major public health issue but would take a lot of money to clean up, so nobody even looks.

    I have worked in environmental remediation since the 1980s. Its not an accident that we raised our family in a new suburban home in a development built after lead plumbing fixtures were banned in the late 1980s on a site that was farm fields until the late 80s. I wanted to avoid lead interacting with our kids at just about all costs as well as less exposure to air pollution. After retirement, we will likely move back into the urban center in newly renovated housing as the lead concerns will be much less, as well as air pollution issues.

  39. Synoia

    Human intelligence can’t be transferred to machines

    1. It’s a hypothesis, no evidence exists for or against.
    2. If correct is that bad?
    3. If correct is that good?
    4. It that relevant?
    5. Will AI be benevolent, malevolent or neutral towards us?
    6. Will AI be self aware and want to protect self?

    There is too much “I can’t believe x, y or z (persons, groups etc), did, said, proposed or didn’t do A, B or C in this situation.

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