Links 4/11/18

Why expressive brows might have mattered in human evolution Science Daily. Unless they become stuck in a permanently raised position. But maybe even then.

The Elusive Calculus of Insects’ Altruism and Kin Selection Quanta

Private Equity Wants You to Feel Good About Investing Bloomberg

CalPERS puts $1.26 billion in 2 in-house strategies, considering glidepath changes for DC plans Pensions & Investments

The Outlook for the U.S. Economy Jerome Powell, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “In the long run, the level of maximum employment is not determined by monetary policy, but rather by factors affecting the structure and dynamics of the labor market.”

The Roots of ‘Bubbly’ Recessions Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “A hedge fund is unlikely to internalize the fact that its speculative investment contributes to escalating real estate prices and that bigger booms are associated with deeper busts.” I love the dry wit of central bankers.

Ditch trade deal with Trump rather than accept chlorinated chicken, Britons say Independent

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network arm raided in European Commission probe BBC

Why the U.S. Targeted This Russian Oligarch Bloomberg. Aluminum.

British Banks Will Have to Cut Ties to Sanctioned Oligarchs, U.S. Says NYT


Theresa May resists calls to join US military airstrikes against Syria The Times and Theresa May urged to back Syria attack without vote in parliament FT

Emmanuel Macron broaches possible French airstrikes on Syria Deutsche Welle. Another poodle barks.

UN Security Council turns down compromise draft resolution on Syria TASS

Trump Urged to Hit Syria Harder This Time, Despite the Risks Bloomberg

Hoo boy:

Trump’s Rush to Judgment on Syria Chemical Attack Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

US attack on Syria is futile but serves a purpose Indian Punchline (via Moon of Alabama).

Attacking Syria “Impeachable” Institute for Public Accuracy (Washington’s Blog). Read all the way to the end.

Russia Gas Link ‘Not Possible’ If Ukraine Is Harmed, Merkel Says Bloomberg

Fledgling centrist party claims to have links to Tony Blair and son Guardian. Where’s Chelsea?


China accelerates opening to foreign financial groups FT

Trump Transition

Team Trump on Russia: John Bolton’s Views Russia Matters

Former intelligence heavyweights endorse Trump’s CIA pick CNN. “More than 50 former US national security officials and lawmakers endorsed Gina Haspel…. Former directors of the CIA and national intelligence, secretaries of state and lawmakers who have chaired the Senate and House intelligence committees make up the list of signatories. The top intelligence officials include former CIA Directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta, Jose Rodriguez, George Tenet, Michael Hayden and former President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.” In other words, The Blob, as a class, has effectively legalized torture, retroactively. That’s down to Obama: “Mr. Obama added that he also had ‘a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.'” So no more of this nonsense about the “rule of law,” mkay? Well played, all.

Feds Raid Office of Trump Lawyer Who Paid Off Stormy Daniels This Is a Big Deal. Reason

Due Process Lewis Lapham (chuck roast).

The Bipartisan Food Stamp Reforms Congress Won’t Talk About Governing

Manitoba Hells Angels target businesses by posting 1-star reviews CBC

Facebook Fracas

Zuckerberg emerges lightly grilled by US lawmakers FT. Facebook was up. They didn’t lay a glove on him.

Transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate hearing WaPo

Jason Kint: Here are 5 ways Facebook violates consumer expectations to maximize its profits Nieman Labs

‘The Organic Side, to Me, Is Scarier Than the Ad Side’ New York Magazine. Must-read interview with a former Facebook product manager: “I think Silicon Valley has changed. It still flies under this marketing shell of ‘making the world a better place.’ But under the covers it’s this almost sociopathic scene. Even me, when I had my shitty little start-up that I acquired, I was also in total asocial personality disorder mode, and I think it characterizes a lot of people in this world.”

The Graph API: Key Points in the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Debacle Jonathan Albright, Tow Center. Very good:

The problematic collection of Facebook users’ personal info — and the ability to obtain unusually rich info about users’ friends — is due to the design and functionality of Facebook’s Graph API. Importantly, the vast majority of problems that have arisen as a result of this integration were meant to be “features, not bugs,” as many have rightly pointed out.

And then there’s this, where “Lookalike audiences” is exactly the kind of functionality the Graph API is designed to support:

In other words, Facebook is selling regulatory arbitrage, which they can get away with, economically and politically, only because of their monopoly status. (The same principle applies, in varying ways, to Google, Amazon, AirBnB, and Uber. Indeed, one might consider the vaunted Silicon Valley concept of “scale” as freedom from regulation, especially regulation by the FTC.)

Facebook stores its data in this rural North Carolina town, where the privacy debate is just beginning to catch on WaPo

Health Care

Obamacare’s Very Stable Genius Paul Krugman, NYT. “What’s the secret of Obamacare’s stability? The answer, although nobody will believe it, is that the people who designed the program were extremely smart. Political reality forced them to build a Rube Goldberg device…” By “political reality,” we mean “that which the donor class cannot be induced to accept” — not even by a “progressive” columnist with a national platform — no matter how much people suffer. Oh, and there’s that word “smart.” See Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal!

Apple Now Runs On 100% Green Energy, And Here’s How It Got There Fast Company

Col. Larry Wilkerson: Pentagon Plans for Climate Change Despite White House TRNN

Imperial Collapse Watch

America Can’t Be Trusted Anymore Foreign Policy. Deck: “It’s hard to be powerful when nobody believes a word you say.”

Is the US Still a Reliable Ally? Cipher Brief. “In the Five Eyes context – with the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – you have the highest level of trust between intelligence partners anywhere.”

Portion of Redacted Harvard Admissions Data Will Become Public Harvard Crimson

Class Warfare

Counting the millions of evictions Credit Slips

Tuesday and Early Voting Sanders Institute. I loathe early voting, because it encourages partisan lock-in, and devalues post-early vote campaign events. All of the claimed advantages for early voting can be achieved by making Election Day a national holiday, which it should already be in any case (assuming the country values democracy).

Psychological Weapons of Mass Persuasion Scientific American

What’s Been Stopping the Left? Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

On the Silencing of Julian Assange Consortium News

Lovely Weather We’re Having … Now Who Will Save Us? Belt Magazine

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jim Haygood

    G-o-o-o-d morning, America!

    Donald J. Trump

    Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

    6:57 AM – Apr 11, 2018

    Would a country that “just made up” the Gulf of Tonkin incident on Aug 4, 1964 to invade Vietnam lie about a gas attack in Syria?

    Hell family-blogging yeah — that’s how we roll.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      On some level I think Trump is gas-lighting everybody. The fact that an actual statement like that came from a US President should be shocking, but we’ve been numbed to the point of stupidity by this guy.

      One can only wonder howTrump will re-act to a big setback if his “smart” missiles fall short or result in a US Navy ship finding a new home at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

      1. vlade

        The incredible thing on this is that the Dems managed to field a candidate which people still found less appealing than Trump – and still fail to understand why.

        1. Aumua

          They understand why: The Russians installed him, obviously. Man the whole narrative just kind of falls apart here, doesn’t it.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Philip Giraldi deploys his Occam’s Razor:

        Concerning Syria, Trump last Tuesday said “I want to get out,” promising to pull U.S. troops out very soon, but was quickly brought to heel by pressure from Congress and a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that compelled him to change his mind within 24 hours.

        Israel wants chaos in Syria and its instrument of choice is the American military. Netanyahu has Congress to do his bidding and appears to also have Trump under his thumb.

        Then the Swamp raided Trump’s personal lawyer to dramatize the price of non-compliance with the War Party’s directives. Trump learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

        1. ChrisFromGeorgia

          Trying to get inside the head of a madman is a futile exercise and only ends up driving you crazy too.

          There is no doubt however that the Saudis and Israelis are both taking advantage of the situation.

          The only actor who seems relatively trustworthy is Putin, which says a lot.

          1. vlade

            I’d not call him ‘trustworthy’ but more ‘rational’ or better ‘relatively predictable’.

            1. ChrisFromGeorgia

              Agree, I should have used “predictable/rational” That is also why I think Trump (and by extension the US) is going to lose badly here. He is going to end up either backing down, or getting us into a hot war with Russia. Putin is predictable and will order his generals to retaliate.

          2. Jim Haygood

            Just kidding, folks:

            Donald J. Trump

            Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?

            7:37 AM – Apr 11, 2018

            I’d love to change the world
            But I don’t know what to do
            So I’ll leave it up to you

            — Ten Years After, I’d Love to Change the World

            1. OIFVet

              Lol, Russians no doubt have fond memories of the last time the US tried to “help” its economy by way of the Harvard crowd.

              1. integer

                “We let the Chicago boys loot our country and all we got was a lousy Magnitsky Act.”

                Bill Browder must be wetting his pants with glee right about now.

            2. integer


              Donald J. Trump

              Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!

              6:00 AM – 11 Apr 2018

              FWIW the tweet referenced by Jim Haygood in the comment I am replying to appears to have been posted at 4:37am rather than 7:37am.

          3. Alex morfesis

            Why would you imagine uncle vova would not stir things up to make money selling toys for geniuses in uniform ? On que, he entered Ukraine the week after a budget reducing the US army to levels lower and prior to ww2 was presented to congress…

            charter member of Mensa he is not…

          4. Sid Finster

            A large part of Putin’s schtick is that he does what he says. To paraphrase a Russian phrase, “A boy talks and does, a Real Man says it and gets it done.”

            “Trustworthy” may not be the wrong adjective. Doesn’t make him “cuddly” or “nice” or even “well-intentioned”.

            1. Wukchumni

              “It’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.”~

              Emil Zátopek

        2. Carolinian

          Trump must have read that Amber Phillips WaPo story that said he would be more popular if he bombed Syria. Which is to say he is being goaded on by a DC establishment that is just as crazy–if not quite as vulgar–as he is. Things look pretty bleak.

          1. JohnnyGL

            ….which is why I put in calls to congress-critters over Syria and not N. Korea when he was chest-beating about that a few months back. Media and congress were losing their minds over his remarks on that front, rightly so.

            For some reason, they can’t get past Syria. Beltway-bloodlust is strong for Assad.

            1. polecatPml

              Liken the whole affair to a ‘floridan’ pedestrian bridge .. to Iran, except to not only include collapse, but fire as well ..

              So the question is, who wins the contract ?

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

          I’m not sure I agree with that one, because of the curious episode of bombing that Syrian airbase, where it took a news cycle for Israel to “claim credit.” That looked like a clear case of Israel doing it’s usual “let’s you and him fight” thing, but it didn’t get any traction in the press at all. My guess is that somebody yanked Bibi’s choke chain (a good thing).

      3. Sid Finster

        Trump will be urged to up the ante. Anything less and the screams of “Putin puppet” will be deafening. It will be the “Stab in the Back Legend”, updated for the 21st Century.

        If Trump makes a more or less successful attack, he will be urged to go further. Besides the screams of “Putin puppet!” and the usual flattery, Trump will be reminded of Bush ’41, who lost re-election in part because eh “failed to finish the job” in Iraq. Moreover, the neocons have stated in the past that their goal is to destroy Russia, and that was before they were drunk on victory.

        Any war will quickly go nuclear.

      4. Sid Finster

        The thing that russiagate conspiracy theorists and “Trump is fighting the Deep State” conspiracy theorists have in common is that both assume that Trump means exactly what he says when he says something that accords with their particular conspiracy theory, and that whenever he says something that doesn’t make sense under their conspiracy theory, it’s just a headfake.

        Actually, this is something common to all conspiracy theorists.

        1. John k

          A good point. Neither camp knows, not even the one I’m in.
          Maybe he’s buffeted by the storms swirling around him.
          He was the only candidate promising change to an electorate desperate for it…
          Does it seem as if the descent is accelerating?
          Hillary dreamed of confronting Russia in Syria and Ukraine… probably resents that somebody else gets the credit for having the balls to call Putin’s bluff…

          1. jonhoops

            “He was the only candidate promising change to an electorate desperate for it…”

            I guess that news blackout on Bernie really worked.

      5. Elizabeth Burton

        We have been numbed to the point of stupidity because the corporate media have made his every expulsion of gas a major daily news event. Even when it was finally made known many if not most of the tweeting is done by staff hired for the purpose, the focus is always directly on Trump.

        Which strikes me as more than a little suspicious.

      6. Procopius

        One can only wonder howTrump will re-act to a big setback if his “smart” missiles fall short or result in a US Navy ship finding a new home at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

        What I wonder … Has anybody asked Howard Dean what he thinks will happen if the invasion of Syria he’s demanding is resisted by Russian troops? On paper it looks like the Su-57 could easily shoot down F-35s and might well be a match for the F-22. On paper it looks like the Russian Kh47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile can penetrate American Aegis defense systems. What does Mr. Dean expect to happen if Russia sinks the two missile cruisers we now have off the coast of Syria? How about Lindsay Graham? What does he expect to happen if the Russians succeed in shooting down all the cruise missiles Trump fires at them? Even most of them? Have any of the bipartisan warmongers in the Blob considered, “What comes after that?”

    2. Louis Fyne

      say a US attack in Syria kills 20 Russians. Then what? Russian bombers sink a US cruiser in the Med. Then what?

      Does anyone expect the US or Russia to back down after a certain line has been crossed.

      Someone has logistics to make possible 300,000 people who show up at the drop of the hat with kitties on their head. But the media doesn’t cares about literal WWIII.

      mercifully If the Big One ever hits, certain chance I’ll be incinerated within the first 30 minutes.

      I wouldn’t want to live in someplace like Ithaca NY or Flagstaff,AZ. Remote enough not to be a nuclear target. Too dense of a population for survivors to live off the land—unless Cornell stored rations and water for everyone in one of its basements.

      Would make great reality TV fodder. The Glowing Walking Dead

      1. The Rev Kev

        Russia may have other options. You can bet that any coalition of the dim-witted would be more spooked by the thought of prowling Russian submarines as much as anti-ship missiles. At any rate, there are other targets. The US has a base at a place called Al-Tanf on the Iraqi-Syrian border which it seized from Syria. Apart from the Rukban refugee camp held hostage to act as a ‘humanitarian’ cover, the place is also a home to about 350 ex-ISIS members which the US forces there are training and which launch attacks on the Syrians from time to time using the US aerial umbrella for protection. They roam freely in that refugee camp and the US turns a blind eye. You can bet that that base is one place that the Russians would want to send a volley of Kaliber missiles at.

        1. Sid Finster

          That will still get us to the same place. Trump will be urged to retaliate. Anything less and he will be branded a “Putin puppet!” (with no small amount of MSM prodding).

          This entire exercise reminds me of Iraq and its desperate attempts to fend of war in 2003. All these attempts to show good faith, all the protests in the West, all were futile.

          Because the Empire decided that it wanted its war.

          Syria is the same. Either something happens to the United States, probably some economic catastrophe that forces the Empire to retrench, or sooner or later, there will be war. Trump is evidently either too weak, or too stupid and easily manipulated, to do anything.

          Empires can basically be described as governmental sociopathy, and they have always ever behaved thusly. The difference between the American Empire, and, say, the British Empire, is that the United States has a more global scope, and far more tools of control, surveillance, and destruction at its disposal.

          Russia has none of these things, other than tools of destruction. So when the United States backs Russia into a corner, as it surely will, that is what Russia will use.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps Trump is weak.

            But who is not at least weak or weaker?

            Where are the progressives or peace-loving politicians?

            Will there be massive protests, like the time before we went to Iraq a decade ago?

                1. Sid Finster

                  The Empire will do what it wants to do, regardless of reason or morality. If you think of an empire as organized sociopathy, everything they do makes perfect sense.

                  Empires, like other sociopaths, understand reward and punishment very well, however, and you will find that they are remarkably quick studies in that regard.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    It does feel liking commenting on opposing it, here or elsewhere, doesn’t change anything at all.

              1. JohnnyGL

                Disagree on that. Protests failed for a few reasons…

                1) Post 9/11 consensus united most of US public opinion and the political class. That unity has since fractured.

                2) Bush II admin was well-organized and driven by a ruthlessly effective Cheney. Very unusual for any prez admin.

                3) Protests weren’t sustained.and disruptive enough. It took awhile for them to sink in around the Vietnam War.

                4) Consolidated media airbrushed them out of history very quickly. Media control of the narrative isn’t nearly as strong today.

        2. Lord Koos

          So basically the civilian refugees in that camp have can be used as human shields or as a reason to retaliate against a possible attack against the base. Nice.

    3. RenoDino

      Going out on a doomsday limb here, but I think the weird fabricated poisoning in Britain and now the planned false flag strike on Syria is of a piece to bring on WW3 now that Putin has announced the deployment of his new strategic weapons arsenal. The West may be calculating that there’s a window of opportunity to win the BIG ONE before Russia can fully deploy their new systems.

      The fevered pitch of the farcical accusations against Russia has accelerated as of late and has always begged the question, “Where are they are going with this?” Yeah, a regime change in Russia would make the West very happy but, failing that, the new Russian weapons have added an urgency to the whole project.

      If that’s the case, it’s been nice knowing you.

      On the other hand, Trump did just tweet out a vague economic bribe offer to Russia if they stand down and let him bomb so maybe this is all really about Stormy Daniels after all. I’m in the strange position of praying this is the case.

      1. Sid Finster

        Even if Russia were to back down, all that would do is fuel the War Party.

        Like every other empire in history, the leadership of the United States can be described as organized sociopathy. Appeals to reason, facts or morality are pointless when dealing with a sociopath. You might as well hold up a Bible and say “thou shalt not steal” to a robber.

        That said, sociopaths understand reward and punishment very well, just as that robber will turn into a good little boy if you have a gun to his head and never let your guard down.

        1. Olga

          I have this strange feeling that Russia ain’t backing down… not sure what makes me think that… maybe that they’ve had just about enough. They are in a no-win position: back down, and the empire will interpret it as weakness; don’t back down, and the empire will just escalate (to prove it is right and stronger). As a smart Frenchman once said – No Exit (but, of course, we all pay the price).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            For Xi, the option is to take a page of the Cunctator’s playbook, who prevailed over Hannibal by avoiding open battles, all the time, while the Swamp keeps Trump busy, for now, on the Syrian sector. If the object of Mueller”s desire fails to comply, Xi can outlast him and get a more friendly successor.

            That’s not likely for Putin. This is where the show is now.

            He might ask of the Sino-Russian friendship pact – why am I doing all the heavy lifting?

            1. Procopius

              I think you’re mistaken about Putin. He has shown that even though he was shunted into a ceremonial position which should have removed him from effective power he remained in control until he could resume the office directly. I see several sources claim he’s extremely popular in Russia, which he should be since he has brought them to the highest standard of living they’ve ever enjoyed. So far he’s been very measured in his responses to extraordinary provocation, but the most recent response to Trump’s bluster included a counter-threat to hit the site that launches missiles against Syria. The warhawks have been pushing for a hot war with Russia since Hillary was Secretary of State.

          2. Sid Finster

            This is the correct understanding. The only things Russia can do are to fight back or to play for time.

            1. VietnamVet

              Your Cassandra is pitch perfect. Paul Ryan jumped ship. Will Humpty Dumpy have a great fall? Or, can he keep his balance with the help from the President of the Russian Federation?

              If PM May and President Macron both push, all the Queen’s horses and men won’t put Humpty together again, tomorrow.

    4. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Re: America Can’t Be Trusted Anymore

      The current international climate reminds me of what I have recently read about the run-up to World War One:

      An empire in decline and riven (Austria-Hungary then, the US now? – see article).

      Generals itching for a fight (Germany. Russia and Austria-Hungary).

      Uncomfortable, uncertain and shifting alliances (Serbia, Italy, Belgium and Turkey).

      Arms exports a-go-go.

      Light the touch-paper and retire to where a nuclear winter will not chill your bones. Let me know where that might be.

      (Kissing my Rs goodbye)

      1. Summer

        The last 100 years has all been a variation on WWI, down to the borders in the Mid East.
        And the clue hasn’t set in that war solves nothing – just re-arranges the deck chairs.

        1. JBird

          Well yes, if you have any halfway decent education in history especially of the past 150 years. It’s been pointed out to me that our ruling elites’ education in that history might be lacking. All those expensive elite schools…

      2. jonhoops

        Hmmm… No mention of Perfidious Albion … That’s odd, I think they may have had a lot to do with the past century of misery.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Would you believe that the World Health Organization is also trying to hype up a war? From an Israeli article-

      GENEVA — The World Health Organization on Wednesday demanded “immediate” access to the victims of an alleged chemical attack in Syria, voicing indignation at the strike that caused symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic substances. “We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma” where Saturday’s attack took place, said Peter Salama, the UN agency’s chief of emergency response. “WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts, and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,” he added. Citing information previously released by local health organizations, WHO said that “an estimated 500 patients presented to health facilities exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.”

      The strange thing is that as places like Aleppo fell I have never heard of this mob going in to help the civilians with medical aid. Considering that communicable diseases are appearing in that country because of the war, you would reckon that that would be, like, their job. I am ashamed to admit that that Peter Salama character is actually a fellow Aussie.

      1. EricT

        Funny, if you take out the specifics regarding location, you could apply the whole proposition from the WHO to Flint, MI.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Or hookworms in AL from poor sewage.

          Or among residents who live in close proximity to fracking sites.

          The list just goes on…

      2. Brian

        The UN statements I saw blamed the “government” for the gas attacks on the Syrian people. Before the vote in the UN, trying to raise money to help with something or other. ca 3PM Eastern, yesterday

    6. Jean

      There are much better reasons to commit American bodies, and possibly the future of humanity, to Syria to help our “friends and allies” who want to send their gas to Europe to help prevent global warming while they lower prices on Commie gas through Ukraine, another triumph of “our” foreign policy.

    7. Anon

      And don’t think Russia doesn’t have the capability to shoot down American made ‘smart’ missiles. It does. Easily.

  2. Jesper

    What’s Been Stopping the Left?

    the priorities they made when focussing on short term gains (small wage increases now) over focussing on another thing that some say is money – time. Increasing paid time off and lowering the pension age would increase or at least maintain the bargaining power of workers.
    Instead our ‘elite’ (who love their jobs ) have prioritised more money over more time to be spent under ones own discretion. Workaholic empathy-impaired leaders cannot fathom that many (if not most) people would rather have more time to spend with family, friends, hobbies etc than being at work. Hence the ending of the progressive taxation since it reduces the attractiveness of paid overtime.
    And lower paid employees who could share their work are due to increased competition for jobs instead forced into unpaid overtime just to keep their jobs.

    The social democrats of Sweden today is (in all but name) a right of center political party. Are the voters abandoning them for the ‘populists’ or did the social democrats abandon their voters? The political consultants, hired by and paid by the social democratic elite, is providing the answer that keeps the political consultants hired again – the elite is correct, the voters are simply not bright enough to understand it so keep doubling down on the (liberal) policies and the tide will turn (in an unspecified time).

  3. Carla

    Lambert, I’m 100 percent with you on early voting! Vote-by-mail and no-questions-asked-absentee-voting are also highly problematic.

    National holiday to vote, plus hand-marked paper ballots, counted in public — these are the things we need ! A tightly controlled absentee voting program can take care of active duty military, poll workers and others who can’t make to their local polls on Voting Day.

      1. Carla

        Here is just one article outlining problems with voting by mail… there are many, many other analyses available:

        I understand that some voting by mail may be unavoidable, but it should be minimized as much as possible.

        When we’re talking about democracy, we cannot allow convenience and affordability to be the major considerations. If voting matters, then it matters. Let’s get it right.

        1. Anon

          Are we really talking about “democracy”? Or is it an electoral charade. (Do citizens really affect policy?) Voting by mail (paper ballot) has less fraud possibility than electronic vote counts (failed/devious algorithms).

          Yeah, a very close election requires close monitoring of ballots. But “democracy” is about participation; and mail-in ballots ensure greater opportunity than standing in a long line at a polling place. (A polling place that may have been designed to limit participation.)

          In any case, it is whom counts the votes not whom casts the votes that matters to an electoral outcome. See: Florida, year 2000.

          1. Carla

            Of course who counts the votes is of supreme importance. That’s why the experts in election security hold up the gold standard of hand-marked paper ballots, counted in public.

            Anon, I’m not sure whether you read the previous link I posted re: security & fraud issues with voting by mail, but here’s another one:


    1. UserFriendly

      All of the claimed advantages for early voting can be achieved by making Election Day a national holiday

      What about people who work at gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, fast food joints, convenience stores, and dozens more I’m not thinking of right now? It sounds like a great way to ensure the average office worker can vote, but screws a lot of poorer people. Not to mention that many people are part time and a mid week holiday is the same thing as cutting their hours.
      Move it to a weekend and limit early and mail in voting to 2 weeks (maybe more for people in the military or overseas) and require that all states offer it. Their are people with limited mobility and lots of states (Ohio 2004, Florida every year, Arizona primary 2016) that shut down polling locations to suppress turnout and try to get the result they want. I understand the frustration with early voting but IMO the alternative is worse.

      1. UserFriendly

        Also, IIRC CO, OR, and WA (or at least 2 of those) are 100% vote by mail already. You can drop the ballot off as late as election day though.

    2. Lord Koos

      It seems to me that the easy solution to early voting would be to simply keep the ballots secret and uncounted until the final day so that they do not influence later voters.

  4. Steve H.

    > ‘The Organic Side, to Me, Is Scarier Than the Ad Side’

    “If email were being invented now and somehow Mark Zuckerberg had concocted it, it would be a completely vertically, integrated, proprietary thing that nobody could build on. Nobody who’s a Facebook user could send a message to some other network and you’d just be stuck. Then the incumbents would duke it out for mind share and it would be this ruthless, winner-take-all battle. Email now is a standard.”

    FOSTA Fallout: The platforms are duking it out now, except that it is framed as compliance with FOSTA. To be clear, this is algorithmic censorship at the platform level and deeper. Not just Craigslist-type platforms, Microsoft is banning offensive language from Office. This is before the law is even signed, all proactive.

    Martinez says email is now standard. Where’s the standard if your operating system is banning bad language? I have seen no standards as to whether this is document-by-document, user-by-user, blogger-by-blogger, or whether entire social networks can be inhibited.

    Here’s an example. FOSTA-SESTA is supposed to shut down sex trafficking through content analysis. The words “Lolita Express” are directly associated with child sex trafficking, yet if that is algorithmically banned, the communication is shut down, and Bill Clinton’s many rides are disappeared from discourse.

    Recently there was an article about how different brands of self-driving cars, each with their own algorithm, could result in a chaotic inconsistency with dire consequences. We are already there on communications. These different platforms aren’t communicating, they are reacting, and in a way that encourages their own benefit at the expense of any choices. Say gmail redacts a word by overlaying a dark spot on it, but Microsoft still doesn’t let it through. How would you know?

    This is not proof of concept. The trigger has already been pulled. This is a done deal.

    1. EricT

      I don’t understand how people don’t see the connection between FOSTA and the elimination of net neutrality. The law is meant to protect ISPs from content viewed on their networks, since net neutrality would of protected them, removal wouldn’t. So, basically the ISPs get full control of their networks without any of the downside of being held liable in regards to content.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Microsoft is NOT “banning offensive language from Office.” You’ve been conned by the outrage machine.

      The banning of offensive language and behavior applies only to XBox, which has become the usual mess of trolls and ugly people.

      1. Steve H.

        I don’t believe that’s correct. The Code of Conduct applies to the Services Agreement, which covers this long list.

        They specifically mention Xbox, and Skype, after “In the Code of Conduct section, we’ve clarified that use of offensive language and fraudulent activity is prohibited” in this Update. But it applies to the entire list.

  5. divadab

    Re: Winnipeg, Manitoba Hell’s Angels Boycott:

    The “Hells” as they are known locally are organized – their main “legitimate” income source is running the midway at local county fairs – and although involved in the illegal drug trade, also are known for dispensing rough justice. I know anecdotally of a small-town pederast who was badly beaten and run out of town by a local chapter (reputedly, since the pederast won’t say who beat him).

    In Manitoba, there is another complicating factor – an ongoing gang war involving native and Metis and white gangs. Manitoba prisons are about half native and metis – disproportionately high – and very dangerous. So there is considerable government effort to control gang activity and discouragement of gang signs. It seems this restaurant got caught in the middle – banning gang signs when a considerable portion of their clientele was bikers, bikers who wear their colors and will not remove them.

    IN any event this has cost the restaurant a lot of business – bikers in my experience are good spenders and tippers – whatever their motivation I’ll bet they regret their policy change. Perhaps all the publicity will gain them new business but I doubt it.

  6. zagonostra

    “Obama’s very stable Genius?”…I was so incensed I went over to the NYT to vent but it was closed to new comments…You just want to tell Krugman to shut the F^&% up.

    He was wrong -headed in his column leading up to the election of Trump and he shows his fealty to the monied-class over and against the working class consistently in his opinions issued from his oracular podium.

    Medicare for all should be the the sin qua non of support for any politician, all casuistry from the mendacious ivory tower of the NYT notwithstanding.

    1. Darius

      In 2009, Krugman complained loudly that Obama was botching economic recovery. Then, apparently, someone got to him and he became an Obamabot and establishment Dem lover. He’s been more harm than good ever since.

      1. allan

        In PK’s defense, he was onto Paul Ryan as a complete fraud years ago.
        Much of D.C. and the media class still consider Ryan a serious policy wonk.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          ” he was onto Paul Ryan as a complete fraud years ago.”

          Noticing the “R” next to a politicians name and calling that person a fraud is the minimum of acceptable behavior. We should not applaud people for not hitting pedestrians on sidewalks with their cars.

  7. Watt4Bob

    “What’s been stopping the Left?”

    The success of the New Deal, among other important factors, resulted in wide spread prosperity in America.

    The Right looked upon that prosperity as a ‘surplus’ just waiting to be harvested.

    The Right also considered that prosperity as having been extracted under duress, and at their expense by the government, and redistributed to the unworthy masses.

    The wide spread prosperity of the 1950s, 60s and 70s allowed for the gradual evolution of a new class of comfortable, well-off ‘liberals’ who gradually came to focus more on making themselves more comfortable and well-off than improving the lives of their constituents because their constituents had come to believe, or had been convinced, that the fact that their lives had been improving was a ‘natural’ result of the success of Americas’ ‘economy‘, as opposed to the hard fought battles of the progressive era that resulted in the New Deal.

    The Right never forgot, and never quit fighting the class war and the hated New Deal.

    The Left wasn’t stopped, it joined the other side, and its constituents were gradually convinced by the Rights’ PR machine that Post-War prosperity was the ‘natural’ result of the generosity of America’s rich and powerful business elites.

    That’s where we are today, on the supposed Left, a vast, bought-off, and useless mis-leadership class, ‘leading’ nobody, and on the Right, the rich and powerful ‘hearding’ everyone.

    There is no Left, everybody’s Right, America is going to be Great again. /snk

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Emmanuel Macron broaches possible French airstrikes on Syria”

    A weekly magazine, Le Point, this weekend said that a “Russian plane had flown over frigate Aquitaine over the weekend and was fully-armed. The Aquitaine is equipped with 16 cruise missiles and 16 surface-to-air missiles. It is currently operating off Lebanese shores alongside U.S. ships as part of France’s contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.” The French tried to complain to the Russians but nobody picked up the phone as it was “after business hours”.
    Looks like the Russians are giving Macron the hard word that if they take part in an attack, that there will be consequences. France has hundreds of troops running around Syria so they would be vulnerable to attack. Leader of the Front National party Marine Le Pen has already spoken against the whole circus and I wonder if this is a matter of her positioning herself. That way, if there is an attack and it becomes a fiasco, the French voters will remember that Macron and his Saudi Arabian buddies organized it while Le Pen was against it and said that it was all against French interests.

    1. begob

      My thumb in the air suggests the UK is about to be stood down. After a month long solid front of media propaganda on Skripal, the Times has a headline doubting May will go along with a strike, and middle-of-the-road BBC radio just ran a lunchtime discussion that felt 70% anti-strikle.

    2. Sid Finster

      Keep in mind that Macron and May are unpopular and have a weak grasp on power.

      Nothing like a jolly little war to boost their popularity! What could possibly go wrong?

    3. a different chris

      >The Aquitaine is equipped with 16 cruise missiles and 16 surface-to-air missiles.

      Yeah and it is also a, you know, boat. Floats around against a perfect isolating background, you could target it with an Apollo-11 era computer. To a modern missile, it’s barely worthy of calling target practice. WTF are we doing, seriously?

      1. John k

        And the other boats steaming towards the Lebanese coast are also boats.
        Does the us navy want to let out the secret that boats are pretty easily sunk by those with a modern military? Not least aircraft carriers?

        What if brits and France back off? Is this an excuse for us to back off, too?
        But, what would Bolton advise?

    4. ewmayer

      LOL @Le Point’s laughable claim re. “as part of France’s contingent fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.”

      Just like France “fought against the jihadists” in Libya, right?

  9. Olga

    Just in time for a renewed war against Syria… Redirection, Seymour Hersh’s March 2007 (New Yorker) article, which pretty much laid out most of what would happen in Syria in the coming years, has disappeared from the web (just like the 1979 LA Times interview with Kermit Roosevelt on the 1953 coup d’etat in Teheran). If you cannot turn off the internet – you can at least delete important content…

      1. Ignacio

        Thank you Olga. Let mi add this other link (2014) on Turkey’s position on Siria:

        Turkey-Iran relations and the Syrian dilemma


        Without taking into account the dilemma of the Syrian crisis and its role in straining the Turkish-Iranian relations, the relationship seems to be facing a new stage full of interests. Each party has its ambitions that motivate it to look for a common axis that will change regional equations at the expense of the Arab countries, especially in the Gulf.

  10. OIFVet

    Dear Yves and Lambert, a script or something else on the site is continuously overcoming my android pop-up blockers, regardless of which mobile browser I use. It results in pop-ups to “surveys” either for Walmart or You Tube I will email screenshots a bit later today. It has been going on for at least a week, but it is particularly bad the last couple of days. NC-ers, has anyone else encountered this issue?

      1. OIFVet

        Thanks Jules. Is there a particular email addy I can send the screenshots to, if those would help? You can let me know at my email, if you want.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Update: I have brought this annoyance to the attention of Yves and the NC tech people. OIFVet, I mentioned your screen name in my communication with them. They’ll probably be wanting to see those screenshots.

            1. OIFVet

              Thanks Slim, I got sidetracked at work but I am about to email them the screenshots right now. Thank goodness this does not seem to be an issue on my Windows PC. I think I will probably invest in an alternative anti-virus and pop-up blockers for my android surveillance device. I would rather smash it to bits and not have one at all, but like it or not I still need it in my line of work.

              1. Arizona Slim

                I just got another one on my Android phone. It’s from some site called and I have no intention of going any further to find out what I’ve “won.”

                OTOH, I’m typing this comment on my Windows PC and am not experiencing any problems with popup hijacking.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m having the same problem. I am being congratulated for being the winner of a new Samsung phone. Also getting pitched for Walmart gift cards.

      1. Medbh

        Those are the ads I’m getting as well. It seems to come and go. But when they’re popping up, it’s relentless and makes the site unreadable.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I have experienced the same thing. Matter of fact, I just had to turn my phone off in order to keep from being pounded by those ads.

    2. Lee

      I tried it on my android phone and got the same obnoxiously intrusive crap. You and I are among the 1 in 10 lucky souls granted the opportunity to participate in a youtube survey. What are the odds? Fortunately, I don’t typically use my phone to access this site.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I use an Android tablet often but am not seeing it. Then again, I am also using the free Kaspersky Internet Security app which may be possibly blocking it. Or it maybe it is a regional thing as Slim mentioned a Walmarts card and we do’t have them here.

    4. human

      It’s not a “regional thing” as the walmart listed is accross the continent from me.

      Insidious as it is (it knows my phones name), I have been able to subvert it by stopping page loading once text is rendered. Not an ideal solution of course, but it appears to load at the end. I also have a very large (2 page) white space rendered before the text beneath the top adds.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I should have said, by regional I mean country. Australia does not have them is what I meant so I was wondering if this was regional as in North American.

    5. blennylips

      As a noscript + referrerPolicy addon user, I do not see this.

      In case it is useful, noscript set as follows:



      My referrerPolicy allows all the above to fetch whatever they want.

    6. Solar Hero

      I’m getting the same annoying pop-up on my Samsung Galaxy S8, both youtube and walmart. If I hit the “go back” arrow three times it goes back to the NC page. There is a moment when the page is loading that I can see that the content has loaded but it is still loading something, and if I hit the “X” up by the URL at that point it will stop loading and I don’t get the pop-up again until I visit another NC page

  11. Summer

    “Why the U.S. Targeted This Russian Oligarch” Bloomberg. Aluminum…

    Why is the USA importing a recyclable product? How much is coming from the US garbage dumps, sent somewhere else, and then comes back here.
    I can’t with crazy stupid anymore….

  12. DJG

    Antonio Garcia Martinez, the wayward Facebook ex-sociopath sez: “Sure, but imagine Facebook goes ahead and hires every J-school grad from every journalism school in the United States and creates some sort of editorial team. Think about that for a second. Do you really want Zuck, and by Zuck, I don’t mean, a bunch of code that he wrote, I mean, like, Zuck himself, and humans that he appointed, to decide what you read every day? Can you imagine that editorial meeting with Zuck presiding it?”

    Why, this sounds like something that Sheryl Sandberg can do? Sheryl? Are you out there leaning in? Sheryl?

    I am reminded, though, that the issue is much deeper: As Jaron Lanier pointed out a long time ago, software shouldn’t be licensed. There should be no EULA, those weird endless conditions and clauses that we are required to sign. Companies should not have access to our individual computers under the guise of licensing.

    1. larry

      I don’t use Facebook. Why don’t you delete Facebook? How can you be so dependent on this product?

      1. roxy

        +1 I am not nor have I ever been a FB user. But my husband is. FB has this “memories” thing where they show you a photograph that you have posted at some point. In this context a photo of our late great cat, Alobar, will suddenly be in his “news feed” and he will show it to me. I have scores of pictures of Alobar in my computer which I can access if I have the time to dissolve into tears. I finally said “honey, this is just bumming me out”.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Turd on the run:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan has told confidants that he will announce soon that he won’t run for re-election in November, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations.

    One of Washington’s best-wired Republicans said:

    “This is a Titanic, tectonic shift. … This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held.” The announcement will help Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his fundraising because “the Senate becomes the last bastion,” the Republican said.

    Trillion-dollar deficits forevermore didn’t buy the R party no love. :-(

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I predict we haven’t seen the last of the pretty boy. My guess is he is repositioning himself for post-Trump world.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        So, putting the finishing touches of barbed wire, mines, and AI-controlled 50-cal turret-bots on his palatial bunker/castle…as well as reading through the last of the job resumes for ‘Security personnel with recent combat experience — must have good working knowledge of the Feudal System’ then?

      2. JohnnyGL

        Perhaps he’s going to cash in his chips with the Koch Bros. and get into the lobbying game.

        He’ll probably do fundraisers for ‘centrist’ dems.

        1. freedeomny

          “Ryan cited his accomplishments, chiefly the recent GOP tax bill, and his desire to spend more time with his teenage children as his reasons for leaving, saying that time is “fleeting.”

          Yes – time is fleeting. And I wonder what he knows that we don’t….

          1. ChrisFromGeorgia

            his desire to spend more time with his teenage children

            As the father of two teenagers, I think I can say with some authority that is the most hilarious excuse for leaving a job I’ve ever heard. No parent wants to spend more time with teenagers, and they don’t want to spend more time with you.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Well I was going to say he may be freeing up time to run against Trump in 2020. Not sure why nobody is talking about the possibility of a Republican primary when Trump is fairly unpopular – no sense in leaving all that power just lying around when someone could pick it up for themselves. Of course the Republicans may just figure they’ve already taken over the Democrat party so why bother?

            Anyhow, the ‘spending time with the family’ rhetoric makes me second guess my original thought – those are the words one uses after having been caught in bed with the proverbial dead girl or live boy.

          3. Procopius

            What, you didn’t see that Howard Dean… HOWARD DEAN, is demanding a full-fledged invasion of Syria? I see this stuff on the “breaking news,” and then nobody seems to ask what seems to me to be the obvious question, “And what then?” Let’s just consider a hypothetical. Trump has bragged that he’s going to launch lots of new “smart” cruise missiles at Syria. Let’s just imagine that the Russians have installed lots of their S400 and S600 anti-air missiles and succeed in shooting down more than 80% of the US missiles (last time they shot down 36 of 59, 61%, with mostly S200 anti-air missiles). Let us imagine, too, that they fly one or two of their Su-57 stealth fighters over our guided missile cruisers using their Khibiniy electronic countermeasures package (it was completely successful in the Black sea, shutting down the USS Donald Cook’s radar and Aegis anti-air anti-missile defensive system). Then let us imagine they drop one of their Khinzal hypersonic cruise missiles into the ocean a hundred yards away from each of the two guided-missile cruisers. What will the US reaction be? I know what Bolton will demand. Seize the day, because there may not be many of them left.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Wow, that just made my day!

      Paul Ryan is probably my least favorite person in DC (I know, tough contest, there’s lots of competition). It’s a real win to get rid of a true jihadi that has dedicated his life towards destroying Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

      I’d have enjoyed it better if he took a monumental drubbing at the polls, but a win is a win!!!

      1. edmondo

        He’s not gone till January. If the D’s take the House in November jus imagine what damage a lame duck session of Congress filled with soon-to-be expired congesscritters can do.

  14. Summer

    Re: Graph API, “lookalike audiences”….

    People from an insular world creating insular worlds.
    And here is were we see a contradiction about commitment to “diversity.”

  15. DJG

    Obamacare as brilliant Rube-Goldberg device: I am currently reading Anu Partanen’s incisive The Nordic Theory of Everything. She has plenty of tart observations to make about the dysfunction of health insurance in the U S of A, how it deforms the relationship between employers and employees, how it provides never-ending surprises of non-coverage, how it causes people to have to shop endless for doctors, and how it even deforms intimate relations by making spouses economically dependent on each other in inappropriate ways.

    I was a free lance when Obamacare kicked in. I was then kicked out of an insurance plan run by a civil-rights organization because I was an out-of-state subscriber to Blue of California. Then I had to deal with Blue of Illinois. Obamacare is a mess. My niece just mentioned the other day that, as a free lance, she made too much money last year, so her taxes now require an enforced giveback of the subsidy she received.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Amendment XXV material:

    Donald J. Trump

    Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!

    9:00 AM – Apr 11, 2018

    You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.

    1. Buck Eschaton

      Between Trump and the Democrats these kind of mind games are going to cause people to go insane. It’s hard to keep up with insanity one second and then complete reasonableness the next.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Trump appears to be a visible bug, but we have remind ourselves of an invisible feature behind it.

    3. Arizona Slim

      I find myself agreeing with Donald Trump. Again. Does that make me a backward deplorable?

    4. polecat

      And chocolate cake Jim … never forget the cake, as I’m pretty sure the Emperor Xi hasn’t.

  17. funemployed

    Dani Rodrik: “Democratic Party’s embrace of identity politics (highlighting inclusiveness along lines of gender, race, and sexual orientation) and other socially liberal causes came at the expense of the bread-and-butter issues of incomes and jobs.”

    No. It didn’t. This false dichotomy and the zero-sum thinking it assumes not only contradicts the findings and arguments of virtually every scholar and activist who studies inequities (and hasn’t sold out to the neoliberal regime) “along lines of gender, race, sexual orientation” etc., it also aids the neoliberal project.

    Ok. Fixed it. “Democratic Party’s embrace of corporate money and educational elitism (along with fantastical thinking about education and knowing how to ‘check your privilege’ being some sort of socioeconomic deus ex machina that can cure all structural inequities) came at the expense of the bread-and-butter issues of incomes and jobs and honest attempts to redress gross disparities in legal, economic, and political power that disproportionately harm those groups that Democrats claim to care about.

      1. Procopius

        Me too. Pretty much what Al From said in his book explaining the origin of the Democratic Leadership Council and the decision to abandon (if not destroy) the New Deal.

  18. ambrit

    So, quietly behind the scenes, Russia brings nineteen battalions of troops “up to speed” and sends them to Russias’ western borders, i.e. Ukraine. Russian army set to full alert status.
    It looks like the Russians aren’t taking anything for granted regarding the West.
    Read (I’m not sure of the ‘ideology of this site. Keep lots of salt handy, on principle.):
    Time for a good old sing along?
    “So long, it’s been good to know you,” or,
    “We’ll Meet Again.” Maybe “King of the World.”
    “You there! Glowing in the back! What was that request?”

    1. Wukchumni

      Reading the reign of error’s tweets, I suppose sliding down steep slopes with parallel planks attached, is as good of a way to greet WW3 as any, Ski Heil!

    2. Sid Finster

      Poroshenko has publicly stated that a new offensive against Novorossiya will be launched in May.

      1. ambrit

        Fun! Reminds me of the H—spawn of Black Sabbath and Frank Zappa.
        I’m thinking of what will happen when Zuckerburg goes up against Musk for scarce resources. (All those rare earths etc.) “When Nerds Collide!” Then it really will be time for “A Canticle for Liebowitz.”

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Heh…in that case, it will probably come as no surprise that I was/am also a rabid Sabbath fan,
          would happily have sacrificed my firstborn to Zappa, and have a copy of ‘A Canticle for Liebowitz’ around somewhere.

          Speaking of which, thanks for reminding me to go find that paperback for a re-read…stat…and not to give ‘War Pigs’ short shrift in the end days… ;)

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China accelerates opening to foreign financial groups FT

    It will be disappointing if this is about making China or Syria let in more foreign financial groups.

    Might as well end US involvement in Syria, or China, now, if that is what we’re demanding.

  20. Summer

    I don’t have a “Don’t Be Evil” motto.
    I’m just not evil.

    “Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of awkwardness you feel when your worldview gets contradicted in some concrete way…”

    “The real issue is that people don’t assign moral agency to logic and algorithms. When shit goes sideways, you want someone to fucking shake a finger at and scream at. But Facebook just says, “Don’t look at us. Look at this pile of code.” Somehow, the human sense of justice isn’t placated.”

    He almost sounds like he thinks it’s a problem that people don’t assign moral agency to algorithms. People don’t because a data stream does not provide meaning, understanding, and agency. Humans do. The data only means something other than an arrangement of code to humans.

    They need to stop worrying about deifying tech  and just do the science.

    “Facebook is kind of like, “Well, the algorithm says to feed you just endless sugar and fat, right, and that’s what we’re going to do.” These people have just abdicated any sort of responsibility toward informing or educating the public. Somehow, we have subconsciously accepted that.”

    Here’s how: press releases from Surveillicon Valley being fawned over masquerading as news.

    And there is an historian on surveillicon tech I’d suggest, since that is “somehow” a gap in his knowledge: Yasha Levine

  21. JohnnyGL

    Put in calls to congress-critters this morning. Asked them to avoid WWIII and that we should bring back the President Trump from a few days ago that said we’re pulling out of Syria.

    I don’t like the one from this morning that threatens to lob cruise missiles around.

    1. integer

      In case anyone is wondering, neither of Sanders’ Twitter accounts have any recent commentary on the US’ antagonistic behavior towards Russia. I’m sure some will say that he should avoid this topic so he can live to fight another day. I expect there would be a large intersection between that cohort, and the people who endorse his decision to continue working within the D party, if people who satisfied either criteria were to be plotted on a Venn diagram.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If Anti-Swamp people don’t stick together now, we will not have a chance.

        I hope Sanders will say something.

        His friend, Chuck Six-Ways-From-Sunday Schumer? Nothing help is expected there.

        1. Procopius

          Too many Dems are beating the war drums. Howard Dean demanding — demanding — a full-scale invasion of Syria. Has any of them asked, “Then what?” What national security interest of the U.S.will be served by shooting cruise missiles at Syria? Oh, you say, but that monster used POISON GAS against CHILDREN!!!1! Well, first of all we do not know that Assad was the one who used the chlorine gas, and we have no problem killing children elsewhere. We are helping the fcking Saudis kill thousands of children in Yemen through cholera, not to mention the bombs we sell them and the targeting information we give them (do we really target schools for them?).

    2. Edward E

      Call the White House now (202-456-1111) or busy send an email
      Tell them this is 1,000 percent not what we wanted from Trump. This was a scenario expected with Hillary. Stick to his commitment to leave Syria and recognize Douma is a false flag to draw him into dangerous situation over some damn pipeline routes.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Put in calls to congress-critters this morning.

      But there’s nobody home:

      WASHINGTON—Top lawmakers on Capitol Hill said they won’t vote on authorizing retaliatory U.S. military strikes against Syria over a purported chemical weapons attack.

      A number of members in both parties said President Donald Trump possesses the authority to conduct limited, surgical strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the Saturday attack that killed dozens of civilians.

      “I think for a surgical strike, they easily have the authority to do it,” said Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

      Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire agreed. “To initiate the kinds of missile strike he did last year? I think he has the authority to do that,” she said.

      Would they agree that Putin has the authority to lob a few missiles into DC if he feels like it? After all, it would be ‘surgical’ — the military equivalent of a mosquito bite. Nothing to obsess about, in the grand scheme of things.

      1. Jean


        Like Clinton did against the African aspirin factory to distract from Monica’s straying lips?

        1. ambrit

          Yep. That ‘Little Blue Dress’ was the epitome of ‘fast fashion.’
          Too many ‘seamy asides’ and ‘questionable quotes’ pop up for comfort. It’s past time that I invested in an “Id Blocker” for my computer.

      2. JohnnyGL

        If I lived in NH, I’d put in a stern call to Senator Shaheen and explain that she doesn’t have the right to define what her job is and isn’t. The Constitution says you represent us and have the ability to declare war, so you need to weigh in. No side-stepping responsibility like a typical Dem politician.

        Shorter version: DO YOUR JOB!!!

        1. Jim Haygood

          But wait Johnny, there’s more:

          Mr. Trump ordered Tomahawk missile strikes against Syria last year over another chemical attack, and didn’t seek congressional authorization. The Justice Department has revealed, as part of a transparency lawsuit brought by the watchdog group Protect Democracy, that it wrote a seven-page legal memo justifying those strikes. That memo hasn’t been released, despite several requests by members of Congress as well as a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. — WSJ article

          Got that? Not only has Congress defaulted on its constitutional responsibility, it isn’t even allowed to read the secret memo by which the president usurped its power. Mushrooms, they are — kept in the dark and fed a rich diet of horse manure.

          1. John k

            More like a rich diet of dollars, which they want continued.
            Hope congress is in session if and when wwiii begins.

  22. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday Brent crude oil, a popular international benchmark, closed at a four-year high.

    Today West Texas Intermediate crude has likewise busted out, up another 2.5% to $67.20 (also a four-year high) as war drums beat. Chart [viewer discretion advised]:

    Some folks I know cannot afford higher gasoline prices without cutting back on discretionary purchases, or even food.

    This is how a “strong as an ox” economy [pace Peter Navarro] slides into recession: gradually at first, then all at once.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s how it goes that when shooting starts, crude will be cheaper.

      So, it’s between a rock and a hard place – don’t shoot/expensive oil, or start-shooting/less expensive oil?

      Peace at a price, which pales comparing with peace-at-all-costs.

  23. Grumpy Engineer

    Apple doesn’t run on 100% renewable power. If they did, you’d see a description of their numerous megawatt-hour scale energy storage systems and how they completely disconnected from the grid.

    But that’s not what they did. Instead, Apple has achieved 100% “net renewable” energy. Which is NOT the same. Apple produces excess power during the day (when the sun is shining on their PV arrays), and then imports power from the carbon-fueled grid at night to keep their operations going. If they export more surplus during the day than they import at night, then it’s “fully renewable powered”, but only in a “net” sense.

    Unfortunately, this approach only works when there’s somebody willing to buy your surplus during the middle of the day. If everybody pushed for the 100% “net renewable” approach, we’d quickly end up with the problem of excess supply, at which point companies would have to curtail their renewables production during the day to avoid overvoltaging the grid. And they’d still import power at night. The “100% net renewable status” would collapse for everybody.

    Unless a company has disconnected from the grid, this is just virtue signaling. Having Apple run some PV arrays is no more beneficial than any random grid operator running some PV arrays.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Same problem. If too many companies run too many wind turbines, they’ll produce excess power and require curtailment. As infamously happened in Washington State back in 2012, where a lawsuit over a combined wind/hydro surplus cost ratepayers greatly:

        Unless a company has disconnected from the grid, adding renewables to their operations merely makes them another grid operator contributing to the potential oversupply problem. And if everybody does it, the need for curtailment will become all the more frequent and severe.

        So let me rephrase my earlier conclusion: Having Apple run some wind turbines is no more beneficial than any random grid operator running some wind turbines.

        1. John k

          Peak demand for cheap storage comes after surplus power has no value, which is where we are now in CA. Storage transforms no value energy to high value, suddenly huge economic incentive. We will have heavy (non lithium) cheap storage soon, likely by 2020.

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        And since Apple’s new wind farm is in Oregon, they will almost certainly be contributing to the renewable power surpluses that are already plaguing the region:

        Both articles mention how the build-up of solar in California has denied BPA the ability to reliably ship their surplus down south. Apple’s wind farm will have the same troubles.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      It seems, then, that if no one or only a few buy your day time surplus, it is not even ‘100% net renewable.’

  24. Enquiring Mind

    Eyebrows are fun for animals, too. Perhaps some of you have had the pleasure of seeing a resting and contented dog gaze at you while raising one, or alternating between brows.

    Visualizing such a scene is my meme for the day, what with all the Syriac and Facebook issues. That is my 411.

  25. giantsquid

    Re: The Elusive Calculus of Insects’ Altruism and Kin Selection

    Thank you for this link. The author does a reasonably good job of presenting the views of both camps in the debate over whether kin selection holds explanatory power for the emergence of altruistic behavior among the eusocial insects. However, it’s unfortunate the two important phenomena that undermine the case for kin selection were overlooked.

    One issue that was not raised in the article is that ant colonies can have multiple unrelated queens, a phenomena that is not uncommon among ants.

    A second issue that was overlooked is unicoloniality, in which unrelated ants from separate nests mix freely, and occasionally give rise to large, expansive supercolonies. For instance, two supercolonies of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) that have arisen in Europe since their introduction there, and the larger covers about 6000 km, from Italy to the Atlantic coast of Spain. Within these two supercolonies unrelated workers never exhibit aggression toward fellow workers. In contrast, aggression between workers from the two supercolonies is high. Since relatedness is not an issue here with regard to either cooperation or aggressiveness, the most likely explanation seems to be that ants within each supercolony produce the same recognition cues and that these cues differ between the two colonies.

    Other than these quibbles, I think the article is well worth reading.

      1. giantsquid

        Thanks Lambert!

        Rereading my post, I’d like to blame the various grammatical errors on being hungover, but since it’s not Saturday morning and I’m several years past 30, I’ll just blame them on either one too many cups of coffee or one too few.

        I should also point out that it’s possible, perhaps likely, that unicoloniality first emerged when related nests began cooperating, but since only the social cues produced by the ants in these nests are required for cooperation, only those genes encoding these cues became fixed among members of the cooperating nests over time.

    1. JohnnyGL

      So you think they have secret handshakes or something?

      Apparently, ants get the idea of colonial solidarity. :)

      1. polecat

        With regard to my bees, being the social, uh, ‘butterflies’ that they are … all they seem to que .. all they seem to que .. is Dance !

    1. ambrit

      This being an economics blog.
      Older American Navy capital ships become ultimate in “sunk costs.”

  26. David

    Indeed, one might consider the vaunted Silicon Valley concept of “scale” as freedom from regulation, especially regulation by the FTC

    Thank you, net neutrality.

  27. Jean

    Food stamp reform;

    “Under current law, the federal government requires childless adults to spend 20 hours a week working (paid or unpaid) or participating in a state-approved work or training program. If people fail to meet that requirement, they can only get food stamps for a total of three months in a three-year period.”

    How hard is it to get preggers? As to that five year limit on welfare…

    1. JBird

      Just because in many places, including parts of California, the Great Recession never ended is not a reason for those slackers not to work! If you don’t have transportation, a three hour walk will do you good.


      Can I ever stop being ashamed of Congress? The SNAP program has just about the least amount of corruption and is one of the best ways to help feed poor people quickly. Work requirements for at best $200 per person each month which can only be spent on food. What a@@@@@@@.

  28. cripes

    Latin American Notes:

    Brazil’s Lula, the apparent front-runner in approaching October elections, has surrendered to serve a 12 year sentence, despite continuing appeals which under Brazil’s constitution grant the liberty rights during the process.

    In an unusual session lasting past midnight, the supreme court rendered a decision under duress from military threats to intervene, the current president, Michel Temer has an approval rating of 7% and gained office in a unprecedented impeachment of Lula’s Worker Party successor, Dilma Rousseff.

    The underlying matter is a contrived case without material evidence that Lula accepted funds to remodel an apartment. The entire Brazilian political class including Mr Temer is under investigation, indictment or judgement, and such a sentence is both wildly disproportionate and timed to abort Lula’s return to the presidency.

    Brazil’s history if rife with US-orchestrated or assisted coups and demi-coups, including Joao Goulart’s removal in 1964 and Ms Rouseff’s a couple of years ago.

    Russia, Russia hasn’t stopped scheming to roll back democracy and worker’s power around the world.

  29. Ignacio

    Re: Apple Now Runs On 100% Green Energy, And Here’s How It Got There Fast Company

    I’m not an Apple fan. Anyway congrats to apple!

    1. blennylips

      Maybe, maybe not. These things are never simple. From last September:

      Apple, Google, and how not to go 100% renewable
      Earlier this year I described how the Dutch Railways were using “alternative logic” to claim that their trains were running on 100% wind power while in reality they were running about 90% on coal and gas-fired electricity from the Dutch grid.

      Still, it’s better than not!

  30. Roquentin

    I just can’t get over the complacency among the beltway or people in the US in general. We’re on the verge of what could very quickly become a world war, and it’s just treated as something pidly, another foreign quagmire. Maybe the moribund elites in the Acela Corridor have done exactly what they wanted in the world militarily and everyone else has put up with it for so long that they can’t conceive of a world where this isn’t the case. Even if we manage to somehow get out of this ridiculous standoff with Russia over Syria unscathed, the problem won’t go away..

    At some point the folks in DC are going to have to come to grips with the fact they don’t unilaterally dominate the globe anymore. If their brains have rotted to the point where they don’t get that, if not in Syria, somewhere else, and if not by Russia, someone else will finally make it clear to them by force. And it’s going to be really, really ugly when it happens.

  31. Sid Finster

    A failed state is a lousy place to park a big, critical, vulnerable, immobile, expensive piece of infrastructure like a pipeline, where it can be attacked at any time by randoms. Especially when it is cheaper and safer to simply rent space and pay Syria transit fees (which would be paid regardless who is in charge),

    It is obvious that the United States is looking for an excuse to make war on Syria, but the “it’s all about pipelines” rationale does not make sense.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not really about the pipeline.

      It’s the motive that dares not speak its name.

      And one of two litmus tests, at least, for progressives. The other being universal health care.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That a progressive would be for ending US involvement in Syria, and many other places.

          The other one is universal health care.

    2. newcatty

      Hmmm…what if a big picture aspect of a “successful” war is to have “full spectrum dominance” of any random in the region? Pipelines may be a big factor in last gasps of Empire. How do we peoples have a real revolution without playing their game of evil destruction? I do not know, but I keep on hoping. “Wishing and hoping deep in my heart”. Maybe there are cooler heads and sane people in so called power, that will with some critical mass of peaceful and woke of us will save us. Gaia will go on…

  32. rd

    US military and renewable energy

    The development of renewable energy is an operational imperative for the US military aside from any climate change arguments:

    The expense in money and people in delivering fuel supplies to remote bases and outposts has been a major problem. A large percentage of the casualties in Afghanistan was due to attacks on fuel supply convoys to US military outposts. so self-generation of electricity from renewable sources is essential to reducing casualties. The 1960s space program led to many developments that filtered into the general economy. It could be that the Afghanistan conflict may play the same role in renewable energy for the US. Unfortunately, the casualty list will be much higher than in the space program.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Military on renewable energy may be the opposite of blessing-in-disguise.

      For example, more solar powered drones may not be a good thing.

      And fully-renewable-energy-consuming Apple may just make spying smartphones more acceptable.

  33. John k

    It seems odd that the elites seem to have no fear of wwiii. They have so much to lose… for people in flyover on drugs or alcohol and contemplating suicide, not so much. Maybe a few have private jets and NZ fortress, but most of our best and brightest don’t.
    Why aren’t they supporting get out of Syria?
    A friend of mine thinks there’s no risk of wwiii…
    I can’t help wondering, what happens after some boats are sunk in eastern med? I bet Bolton has some suggestions… didn’t lots of dems vote for him? So it’s all bipartisan?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A decade or so ago, it was something about the Biblical prophecy of Armageddon and armies to or from the north or east (can’t remember, never was able to keep track).

      Its believers were ready for that final confrontation.

      I was relieved to know, at the time, that the world survived it.

      1. Buck Eschaton

        That hit the big time in the 1970’s with Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth and Gog and Magog. It taught me a good lesson early in life, to not trust people who are always and consistently wrong even if they wrap themselves in all kinds of “authority”. It did help learning early in life that there always have to be different ways of reading and seeing things.

  34. Susan the other

    TRNN. Wilkerson. Thank you for such good news. As opposed to the media’s usual crap.

  35. Elizabeth Burton

    All of the claimed advantages for early voting can be achieved by making Election Day a national holiday…

    And poor people in a neoliberal society have to work on holidays, so no, a national holiday will not achieve the same advantages as early voting. If that were the case, why is cutting early voting hours one of the things the establishment does to suppress voters?

  36. ewmayer

    Re. Is the US Still a Reliable Ally? Cipher Brief. “In the Five Eyes context – with the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – you have the highest level of trust between intelligence partners anywhere.”

    The problem is not trust within the mass-surveillance-data-oversharing English-language security cabal of Britain and its former colonies (with Israel serving as a sixth member due to its special-relationship status), it is that with the exception of a handful of EU “barking poodle” (h/t Lambert) allies most of the rest of the world, for good reason, doesn’t trust us.

  37. Oregoncharles

    From “What’s been Stopping the Left?’:
    “But vested interests go only so far in explaining the failure of the left. Ideas have played at least as important a role. After the supply-side shocks of the 1970s dissolved the Keynesian consensus of the postwar era, and progressive taxation and the European welfare state had gone out of fashion, the vacuum was filled by market fundamentalism (also called neoliberalism) of the type championed by Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. ”

    Those aren’t alternative explanations; they’re one and the same thing. The short version is: corruption. And in the case of the mealy-mouthed article, serious confusion about what is “left.”

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