Links 4/17/18

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles Guardian

The iPhone changed our lives. Now Apple needs to tackle addiction Wired

T-Mobile deceived customers with “false ring tones” on failed phone calls ars technica. Brian C:

I don’t think T-Mobile is the only culprit of this deception. I live in a rural Verizon 3 -bar signal area, and I sometimes hear the outbound ring stutter or change timbre while ringing. I also get reports that “the phone only rang once” when it rang 8-10 times on my end (often without picking up on voicemail) before I hung up.

Managing Our Hub Economy Harvard Business Review (David L)

Demand for Batteries Is Shrinking, Yet Prices Keep On Going and Going…Up Wall Street Journal

Men willing to punish more than women to get ahead PhysOrg. This is news? But the sample size is too small for this result to be given much credence.

New Study Shows Young People in Polluted Cities Are at Greater Risk for Alzheimer’s Alternet

Men willing to punish more than women to get ahead PhysOrg

The debate on euro-area reform Bruegel


Theresa May set for a series of damaging defeats on the flagship Brexit bill in the House of Lords with peers set to back keeping UK in the EU customs union The Sun

EU Withdrawal Bill: amendments and debates Institute for Government

Brexit legislation caught in parliamentary logjam Guardian

Government lawyers to challenge Sturgeon’s Brexit Bill Herald Scotland

Irish Warn June Brexit Progress Needed to Seal October Accord Bloomberg

British Pound Soars To Highest Level Since Brexit SafeHaven

New Cold War

Trump Scraps New Sanctions Against Russia, Overruling Advisers New York Times

Russia targeting millions of web users, say US and UK Financial Times


U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria Wall Street Journal. Magical thinking.

Syria – Pentagon Hides Attack Failure – 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down Moon of Alabama (Darius)

The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack Independent (YY)

First Western Journalist In Syrian Hospital Which Treated “Chemical Weapons” Victims Explains What REALLY Happened George Washington

How far will Trump go in Syria? Asia Times

Syria air strikes: Russia denies tampering with suspected chemical attack site BBC

Syria: Another Pipeline War Ecowatch (Glenn F). From 2016, sadly still germane

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

France builds WhatsApp rival due to surveillance risk Reuters

Google to add extra Gmail security… by building a walled garden The Register (Kevin W)

U.S., UK accuse Russian government-backed hackers in global cyber campaign Reuters. Bill B:

[gasp]”‘Russian government-backed hackers had infected computer routers around the world.”

Learning from the Best in the Business: CIA and NSA:

Glenn Greenwald: how the NSA tampers with US-made internet routers,Guardian, May 12, 2014

WikiLeaks Reveals How the CIA Could Hack Your Router Wired, June 15, 2017

Trump Transition

White House lashes out at Comey after explosive interview The Hill

Fox News’s Sean Hannity Shares a Lawyer With the President He Defends on TV Bloomberg

Trump Tax Plan: 80 Percent of Economic Gains Will End Up Going to Foreigners in 2028, Democratic Senator Says Newsweek (UserFriendly)

Trump order targets wide swath of public assistance programs The Hill

Recruits in ‘Bureaucratic Limbo’ with Citizenship Program Suspended

How Not to Remove a President New Republic

Clinton allies seethe with rage at Comey The Hill

Flipping Script, Dems Attack GOP on Fiscal Responsibility RealClearPolitics

Did I wake up in an alternative reality?

Exclusive: Photos Show Aftermath of Lethal South Carolina Prison Brawl that Left Seven Dead Prison Legal News. Warning: graphic images.

Facebook Fracas

Mark Zuckerberg cannot control his own creation Financial Times. Way too kind to Zuckerberg.

Why New York City Stopped Building Subways CityLab (Kevin W)

Optimism of Manufacturers “Plunged” the Most Ever: NY Fed Wolf Richter

February 2018 JOLTS report: positive trend revised away Angry Bear

Guillotine Watch

What Does A Billionaire’s Bucket List Look Like? SafeHaven. This list is way too downscale. A $30,000 cruise??? That’s what a garden variety 10 to 14 day cruise on an upscale line like Regent costs, and more than that if you fly first class to meet the ship, as opposed to business class. SilverSea I believe is even more. And what billionaire would go on a cruise with mere mortals? They’d charter a boat and crew and have meals catered in.

Class Warfare

Pay Your Interns, Corporate America Bloomberg

Oklahoma struggle continues as calls for teacher strikes spread across US WSWS

Tesla says its factory is safer. But it left injuries off the books Revealnews (Kevin W)

Tesla Idling Model 3 Shows Musk Unable to Make On-the-Fly Fixes Bloomberg (Kevin W)

Prosecutors Invoke Union Membership To Criminalize #J20 Protesters Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. From MGL, part of a beautiful series in the Anchorage Daily News on some foxes that are photo or more accurately human tolerant.

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Steve H.

    > Men willing to punish more than women to get ahead

    Kahneman: “(B)ecause we tend to reward others when they do well and punish them when they do badly, and because there is regression to the mean, it is part of the human condition that we are statistically punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing them.”

    Not just human, this is the universe we live in. I’ve got a category called “How God F’d Us.” Searching for a better way to phrase it.

    1. Steve H.

      By the way: the 50:1 punishment ratio meant it was a rational choice to punish.

      “How do men achieve their higher rank in the public goods game with pay for relative performance? Part of the explanation is that men punish full cooperators more than women.

      A full cooperator can be defined as someone who contributes 100% to the public good. Punishment of full cooperators cannot be designed to induce higher cooperation because more cooperation is not possible. However, in the context of relative performance, punishing full cooperators will move the punisher up in rank. This is because the cost of punishment in this (and many) public goods games is greater for the punished than the punisher.”

      How unlike the real world is this?

      “If this total became negative for any player, then all the play would be stopped.”

      In the world of derivatives, increasing the number of players that become negative is the point.

  2. allan

    Who says the ACA isn’t working as planned?


    UnitedHealth’s quarterly profit beats estimates [Reuters]

    UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, raised its earnings forecast for the year and posted a quarterly profit that beat Wall Street estimates, helped by strength across its businesses. …

    Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose to $2.84 billion, or $2.87 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31 from $2.17 billion, or $2.23 per share, a year earlier. …


    The company’s medical care ratio, or the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services, improved to 81.4 percent in the quarter from 82.4 percent last year. …


    1. Eureka Springs

      I seem to remember a 20 percent cap on Insurance Co. profits back in the early Obamney Not Care days. Where customers would get refunds on anything above that margin. Instead it’s 84 percent for thee and pain city for we.

      1. marym

        2012 ACA MLR requirements

        85% large group market
        80% other markets

        Traditionally, MLR is defined as the portion of premium income insurers pay out in the form of health care claims (claims divided by premiums). But under the ACA, insurers can make adjustments for quality improvement activities and expenditures on taxes, licensing and regulatory fees.

        I believe it’s also 85% for Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D

        From PNHP: Proposed rule for 2019 and PNHP comments

        The new rule “allows states to request reasonable adjustments to the MLR standard for the individual market if the state shows a lower MLR standard could help stabilize its individual insurance market.” Again, this takes good care of the insurers by allowing them to spend even less than the current 80 percent requirement on health care, and, again, the patients lose.

        Currently insurance premium rate increases over 10 percent must be submitted for review. The new rule changes the threshold to 15 percent. Allowing unchallenged premium increases of 15 percent year after year also takes good care of the insurers, but not so good for those paying the premiums, whether directly or through taxes.

      2. vidimi

        the profit will be way under 20% of premiums as the combined ratio is probably around 95% (ie 5% profit on premiums) but that is a misleading metric as the actual profit on capital is probably greater than 20%. At the very least, switching to single payer could save almost 19% of healthcare costs without making a loss, ignoring any price negotiating effects.

    2. jefemt

      My wife and I have no health insurance. Self insure (risky at our advanced age). We earn too much for subsidy, but cannot afford the crappified lowest-cost Bronze plan for our zip code @$1,456/ month for two.

      I just received the bill for the biopsies on two removed problematic moles: the unadjusted gross bill for the lab work was $1,285.00.

      The doc, who discounted her services and gave an additional discount for immediate payment, apparently relayed our uninsured status to the lab.

      The gross bill was adjusted downward, for ‘self-pay case arrangement’, by $1,030.00

      Net bill was $255. I assume there are cost accountants that have developed a very solid billing basis for S, G, A, plus a profit margin of “X”, and derived actual reasonable cost to provider and consumer.

      Just trying to get at the ‘extra’ $1,030. The net fee, $255, is just shy of 20% of the total bill.

      MIC developed the $700.00 hammer, looks like Big Med/ Pharma/ Hospitals have developed the $700 tongue depressor?

      Early 2000’s CEO of United Healthcare retired with over a Billion-with-a-B in outright pay, stock options, bonus. If he can wheedle an extra .$80 cents on every dollar, some would argue that the infallible Mr Market has rewarded him appropriately.

      My head hurts.

      1. Wukchumni

        My mom gave me her checkbook register from mid 1961 to mid 1962, and for a family of 6, the total amount of checks written to Dr. Evers-our family physician for one year, was $88.

        I asked my mom if we had health insurance, and she told me with the exception of Kaiser, nobody had it.

        What went wrong since then?

        1. ambrit

          Medicine became a ‘business.’
          The old Dr. Kildare worked for the ‘fictional’ “Big City Hospital.” The modern Dr. Kildare slaves away for a “Major Healthcare Provider – Urban Campus.”
          When I was a kid, we didn’t have health insurance either. Very few people did. What many today don’t remember is that, decades ago, insurance of any sort was for the “well off.” That was the hidden genius of Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and much of the New Deal. Those programs were providing benefits for everyone that had previously been restricted to the top echelons of the society. What I’m seeing today is a H— bent program trying to return us to those ‘bad old days.’ Well folks, the New Deal was carried out to save America from a brewing class war, an actual ‘blood in the streets’ one. Get rid of it and we will have that deplorable situation threaten to erupt again.

        2. Procopius

          I’m so old I remember when a doctor would come to your house if you were sick. 1940s. I don’t know when that stopped happening, because were pretty much blessed with good health

      2. Ford Prefect

        One of my kids works for a company that was purchased recently by United Healthcare. She has commented on how she and her millenial co-workers are surprised at how crappy the health insurance options are for them now considering they work for a health insurance company.

        Reality is starting to dawn for many people that they are on the table and on the menu instead of patrons sitting at the table.

      3. Roger Smith

        I’ve had a similar, though much smaller, brush with this type of practice recently. Out of the blue I received a bill from the hospital where my son was born 7 months ago for $100. The Insurance Company had paid it all besides.

        He had a fairly common high Bilirubin count after birth and needed light therapy to help break down the (enzymes?) while his body (liver?) caught up. We were “admitted” and given a room we were in for about a day and a half. We started off in E.R. sent by our pediatrician but since we were “admitted” there is no co-pay. HOWEVER, I found out that this $100 fee was not for any services rendered, it was merely applied by the hospital because of the way they chose to bill our son’s necessary treatment.

        See, getting sent to a room doesn’t mean you are “admitted” although Blue Care Network told me “it might feel similar”. Instead of inpatient, the hospital wrote it up as something like “observational”, in which case it does not count as an actual admission. This $100 fee is not for anything. Someone made and invoice decision and that merits $100 more to the hospital. I have BCN reviewing the charge now, but I am definitely fighting and not paying this. I am guessing they will still not cover it because even they know the hospital is extorting cash for nothing. It wasn’t like I overdosed and needed to be observed for a few hours. This was treatment my son needed to not become unhealthy.

        1. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

          Overly high bilirubin counts in infants can lead to severe, lifelong, neurological impairments, a far cry from “…becom[ing] unhealthy.” Not bashing you at all, as I was unaware how bad it could be until I read about the effects suffered by the child of a video game developer I follow. Thomas Happ of Axiom Verge and his son, Alastair Happ. Considering the grave consequences of untreated infant jaundice, the hospital mewling and calling the issue ‘observational’ is a crock of hot garbage.

    3. Jim Thomson

      “Net earnings” equal Premiums charged minus actual payments for services rendered ( after administrative expenses, salaries, benefits, advertising, executive pay outs and nice pensions), duplicated across all the other “healthcare” insurers, all of which equals money charged society which does not pay for actual care.

    4. allan

      Adding: of course, no one could possibly have predic …, oh, never mind:

      WellPoint Already Planning to Game the Medical Loss Ratio [Firedoglake]

      From April 1, 2010, but sadly not an April Fool’s joke.

      … If the medical loss ratio, the percentage of premiums that must go toward medical treatment instead of overhead and profit, were closely administered, it could go a long way to providing legitimate insurance. However, the definition of “medical loss” is malleable, especially in the hands of experienced industry number-crunchers who can make just about anything seem like treatment instead of overhead. We’re already seeing WellPoint reclassify their costs to get under the medical loss ratio requirements in the Affordable Care Act. …

      When I asked Al Franken last year about enforcing the medical loss ratio, his staff said that his oversight on the HELP Committee as well as overseeing the implementation stage would help prevent gaming of the system. …


  3. ChrisAtRU


    He’s obviously all shook up.

    Sorry, I had to! But yes, it’s good to see the fear manifest as an erstwhile desire to be thought of as “left”. The reality will be different for sure, but hopefully Cuomo can be relegated to irrelevance and unemployment.

    #Antidote1 – Awwwww … plucked straight from the pages of “The Gruffalo’s Child”!

    1. allan

      Siena College Poll:

      Governor Andrew Cuomo’s favorability rating fell to 49-44 percent this month, matching his lowest favorability rating as governor, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters. Among Democrats, Cuomo has 62-32 percent favorability rating, compared to 33-23 percent for Cynthia Nixon. Head to head, Cuomo leads Nixon among registered Democrats 58-27 percent, down from 66-19 percent last month, before Nixon declared her candidacy. He maintains large leads over [Republicans] Marc Molinaro and John DeFrancisco. …

      “With a 49-44 percent favorability rating, Cuomo matched his lowest favorability rating as governor, which previously occurred in July 2015. Since January, when he enjoyed the best favorability rating of his second term, Cuomo’s favorability rating has dropped net 27 points, from 62-30 percent,” [Siena College pollster] Greenberg said. …

      In 2014, Zephyr Teachout got 34% in the June primary. Nixon is already within 7 points of that.

      1. Pat

        Teachout pretty much won upstate, the city and it’s suburbs were where Cuomo won. Nixon could really cut into his city dominance. If she can keep the upstate voters who already have shown they are over him, she has an outside shot.

        I don’t think we could be so lucky. Unfortunately I may have to wait for his presidential campaign to see him lose. But I would love to see it happen.

  4. hemeantwell

    Oklahoma struggle continues as calls for teacher strikes spread across US WSWS

    Thanks for continuing to link WSWS articles on the teachers strike wave. So far in my search for info WSWS has provided the best, most consistent coverage. Jacobin has also been useful. Haphazard coverage by the MSM has been as expected, and I hope it’s another instance of their undermining themselves as info sources.

  5. RenoDino

    Syraqistan–Operation WTF?

    By bombing Syria, Trump sent a clear reminder to N. Korea that no treaty or international law can protect Kim once he gives up his nukes. After Trump parades around with Kim at the forthcoming summit, he will have to come home and start planning WW3.

    1. Sid Finster

      Citing treaty or international law to a sociopath, Team R or Team D, is as useful as telling a thief “thou shalt not steal.”

      Sociopaths care nothing for law and everything for enforcement.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Kim could cancel it now.

      That China held naval exercises in the south, in South China Sea, and near the Taiwan Strait, and not in the north, with their only one (so far) aircraft carrier, might make the North Koreans wonder what Beijing told their leader recently, upon arriving at the train station there.

      Does he have a weak hand, or one strong enough to call any bluff?

      1. Procopius

        China has said Kim is “ready to discuss denuclearization,” but that’s nothing new. Kim and his father have said that for years. They actually did come to an agreement with Clinton, but Cheney and Bolton and Wolfowitz persuaded Bush they weren’t abiding by it and he went ahead and broke it. Kim’s terms are well known. There’s no way Trump will agree to them. From what I know of Korean history, if the Northerners and Southerners can work an accommodation out they will, and then kick the Americans out. I don’t think there’s any way short of him ordering an attack that Trump can turn the meeting into a disaster, but I don’t think he’s going to get anything, either. Despite American propaganda, Kim is not stupid. Or crazy.

      1. Jean


        Nice to know that the U.S. is importing refugees from the third world whose parents didn’t fight in the wars, never paid taxes, have no stake in this country and who receive housing, food stamps, special Small Business Administration loans and other goodies while they help drive wages down where they choose to work. i.e. Meatpacking.

        Ex Middle Class Americans? Tough it out and learn to love your poverty.

    1. Ed Miller

      For those that missed this – medical bills hit them. What a surprise, almost like it’s planned.

      I have this theory about medical expenses. TPTB use necessary expenses as a hammer on anyone who is not under the protection of some corporation. The goal is to keep corporate workers solvent while driving independent people into poverty. White collar corporate workers, of course, do much better than solvency but not so much for the lower rungs of the company. Same goes for farmers who can’t get enough for their crops, or anyone else who has no leverage in this corrupt system.

  6. Geo

    That story about the fake U.K. company is insane. Yet another case of shooting the messenger while the crooks go about their (criminal) business.

  7. David May

    Re: South Carolina prison brawl.

    “SCDC officials at the facility “sat back” and let the fight escalate into a bloody and lethal riot, while watching and laughing.”

    SC population: 5 million. Prison population: 20,000
    Denmark pop: 5.7 million. Prison population: 3,400 (including remand prisoners)

    Repeat after me: “There will be no ponies.”

  8. Geo

    Clinton allies seethe with rage at Comey

    The blame on Comey’s announcement has bothered me for a long time and I want to ask the knowledgeable people here if anyone has read about, or has any insights on this:

    Comey’s announcement was in October and Clinton’s numbers tanked a bit right around that time. That’s why so many claim it impacted her campaign so much. I also remember during those weeks Obama was doing a big public push for the TPP going on TV and trying to sell it to the public all while Clinton was trying to distance herself from her past support for trade deals and Trump hammered away at her for it.

    Doesn’t it make more sense that those Rust Belt voters she lost would have been much more impacted by the October push for another detrimental trade deal that would destroy what little remains of their jobs than about some email investigation?

    I’ve not heard or read this discussed anywhere but if you look up TPP news in 10/16 it’s full of Obama’s pushing for a last minute deal on it, lots of negative headlines about it, and politicians on both sides speaking out against it.

    Doesn’t it make sense that a big push for a trade deal would have swayed more voters and caused Clinton’s poll numbers to drop – especially in the Rust Belt – than the email investigation announcement?

    1. Pat

      And don’t forget the news reports about rising health insurance premiums around the same time.

      But for me it will always come down to an incompetent candidate with an incompetent campaign team. Comey, the Russians, misogynists, and worried rust belt voters aren’t the ones who decided that keeping Hillary comfortable and only campaigning in places she liked and was winning outright was more important than going to states she needed to win in order to secure the electoral college.

      But it is hard to get indignant about the loss when you notice the team pretty much spent the last quarter taking their win for granted and giving interviews rather than taking the field.

      1. johnnygl

        You are quite right about the candidate and the campaign…but as David Plouffe said, “it never should have been this close.”

        1. Spring Texan

          I hold no brief for Clinton but for once I agree with her supporters . . . Comey is a jerk and his actions are despicable. The stupid guy is a saint in his own mind.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            No love lost here for “law enforcement” in general or creepy comey in particular.

            But comey was in a no-win position. Weinergate was in full swing, and comey had no direct control over nypd or the information they found on weiner’s computer which, by all accounts, implicated huma and hillary. His judgment on the “matter” had been being questioned since July. I’d imagine he felt he had to say something, in the event that nypd leaking made him look like the fbi was covering for hillary.

            There have also been reports that andrew mccabe was attempting to stall release of this info until after the election which, of course, clinton was supposed to win.

            For any here who are interested in a deeper dive into this, here is one from my new friend, sundance, at theconservativetreehouse:


        2. Pat

          Why not?

          No I am serious. We have a conventional candidate who was the most disliked candidate to have the major nomination except for her unconventional opponent ever. The thing is that Clinton was this disliked before Comey, before her the rules don’t apply to me and screw FOIA email server move became public. And we are talking almost half America not liking or trusting her. And then she was she clearly clueless about the fear, anger and yes even despair that most Americans face everyday. Hell she flat out told people nothing is going to change to make your lives better when I am President. Her opponent was a salesman and a better huckster than she was. He got the dissatisfaction. I saw nothing that says Clinton or her campaign had a clue what voters wanted.

          The idea that it shouldn’t have been close is just as much of a myth as Obama’s hands were tied in his first two years in office, based on PR and bubble assumptions rather than facts. (Most qualified candidate to ever run my Aunt Fannie’s…)

          1. fresno dan

            April 17, 2018 at 11:05 am


            I agree with you (Pat). The fact that everyone says Bill Clinton was a political genius doesn’t make it so (triangulation was how Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996??? really…..). I think Clinton was the only candidate that could have permitted Obama to get the 2008 nomination, mostly because the Clintons are just inept. And the dems belief that protecting banks is more important than protecting foreclosed upon homeowners with the icing of speeches to Goldman Sachs sealed Hillary’s fate.
            I think any Democrat could have defeated Trump….of course, the dems no longer nominate Democrats…..

            1. Procopius

              The Dems belief that “protecting banks is more important than protecting foreclosed upon homeowners” wasn’t confined to the Clintons. Read Al From’s book, The NEW Democrats and the Return to Power. He’s talking about all the “leaders” of the Democratic Elite, all those who created the Democratic Leadership Council. They all believed in 1983 that the New Deal was obsolete, that the Party needed to break away from Labor, that they needed to court Wall Street and adopt “modern” policies. I am sure they never realized the Republican reaction would be to return to Nixon in the form of Newt Gingrich, or what the consequences of that would be. I think Obama’s and Geithner’s responses to the GFC came as a shock to all of us who hadn’t understood the implications of the Third Way/New Democrats.

      2. Alex morfesis

        Don’t blame the Hillary “team” for Hillary…sorry to be blunt here…and I like so very much natural born strong minded cute women…

        but Hillary is “opinionated”…

        She is not intelligent…

        she gives good speech…

        She can’t multitask…she can’t get last minute whispered ideas…

        how many pictures are there with Huma trying to help her by talking to her ear and the Hillbot puts up the hand…

        Elizabeth Holtzman for president ?

        I would knock on doors in 2000 counties for her…so please no noise that it’s about cause the Hillbot was/iz a woman…

        Her staff had to hide her from the public…she is a woody Allen made for TV movie prop….

        there is no there there…never was

        and the Welcome party at the river Styx in nabola is waiting to take her and Albright to that special little warm place…

      3. Sid Finster

        I hear that Putin swiped HRC’s only copy of the Constitution so she had no way to find out about the Electoral Collage.

        Not only that, but eeevil Russians hacked HRC’s brain and convinced her not to bother campaigning out there with the icky flyover people, far better to stay n California and yukk it up with the donors. “You gat dis van in bag my babie.”

          1. Sid Finster

            Don’t you know the only server on the planet that Russians cannot hack was the one in HRC’s bathroom?

            Some Team D koolaid drinker actually said that HRC moved all her email tot he infamous bathroom server because she knew how poor the security was over at State Department, so she took it upon herself to protect Our Vital National Secrets from eevil Russian hackers by making sure that they were in her personal possession.

                  1. ewmayer

                    I thought she used that to wipe something else, but it’s possible I was misinformed. :)

                    1. ambrit

                      This being an economics blog, I believe the proper description of it is “tail risk.”
                      I’ve amassed enough “troll points” so far, so….
                      Is there some way of eliminating ‘troll points?’ Do they decay at some determined rate if not reinforced? Methodologies are fascinating.
                      Love to all.

    2. johnnygl

      It certainly was a factor. Clintonites have written their list of acceptable reasons for the loss and blaming the candidate or the party, its leaders, or their policies are not on the acceptable list.

      But, there’s a reason trump campaigned against trade, immigration, and wars. Republican Party disagreed on all three and lost to Trump every bit as much as the Democrats did.

      1. John D.

        “But, there’s a reason trump campaigned against trade, immigration, and wars. Republican Party disagreed on all three and lost to Trump every bit as much as the Democrats did.”

        To this we can add: Yes, he was lying – obviously!!! – but he had enough sense to lie, didn’t he?

        1. John k

          Her one virtue was she didn’t lie about running on status quo, never, ever, and the solid gold trade deal. ‘I’ll be just as pro Corp and neolib as big o, plus more confrontation and bonus female parts. What part of status quo dont you understand?’
          And the dem libs still like the platform. Let’s do the affable goofball next! Or maybe kamela, corps love donating to her, hit all the lib buttons plus really run up the pop vote in ca! if she loses we get the dependable EV excuse…

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      Doesn’t it make sense that a big push for a trade deal would have swayed more voters and caused Clinton’s poll numbers to drop – especially in the Rust Belt – than the email investigation announcement?

      Of course it does, particularly considering the distribution of voters that swung the election for Trump.

      But the clinton “allies” will never lay down that baseball bat of emails, misogyny and Russia, since that would require a level of insight and honesty of which they are incapable. Plus it would blow their increasingly obvious “party of the people” fiction completely out of the water.

    4. flora

      Clinton and DNC would not let the fbi examine the servers in question right after the claims were made to discover what exactly had happened. The fbi has first-rate digital forensics capabilities. First-rate. Clinton and DNC not letting fbi anywhere near those servers after the claims were made has tainted the entire Clinton/DNC wailing about fbi mistreatment, imo.

      1. DJG

        flora: Yes. Thanks for reminding us that the Clintons, whose honesty has been in question for years, managed to deny the FBI access to a piece of physical evidence: A server. (Not the mythical “e-mail account” that the Clintonians flog in their continuing propagation of fake news.)

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          As the Republic continues to stumble from the “Constitutional Age” and into the “I-Got-Mine-And-Besides-Laws-Are-For-Little-People” Age.

          Put HRC in an orange jumpsuit alongside Jon Corzine and the Chairmen of HSBC and Wells Fargo, anything short of that = Banana Republic.

          Personally I am sad to see the rule of law go.

          “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

          -Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons

      2. Procopius

        There’s something seriously wrong with the FBI’s response to that story, too. The FBI, thanks to the Old Queen, is THE ONLY government agency authorized to investigate foreign espionage in the United States. Now I’m pretty sure the f*cking PATRIOT Act opened a bunch of loopholes to let the f*cking CIA do their thing in the U.S., I do not believe any director of the FBI, except, maybe, James Comey, would let a chance to copy the entire contents of the DNC servers pass by. Once the Crowdstrike people produced their report blaming Russian intelligence Agencies the FBI should have been all over those servers like white on rice. The fact that they weren’t tells me there’s something terribly, terribly wrong with that whole narrative and is one of the biggest reasons I’m skeptical that it even happened.

    5. DJG

      Geo: Maybe. But in the middle of the article, one of the members of the Clintons Fan Club, and it is pretty much an expensive fan club, repeated the usual drivel:

      “At the end of the day Hillary Clinton used her own email address. No laws were broken, no one was hurt, our national security wasn’t threatened. It was a dumb mistake and a far dumber scandal, as she herself has said many times,” he wrote.

      That’s a blant lie, and the fan club knows it. They haven’t learned a thing. They underestimated the voters. The “dialogue” on Facebook, which as we all know is an extension of the Kremlin, consisted of fan club members engaged in beating down any opposition, even the slightest (a passing doubt about Bill as Economics Czar). They never learned a thing.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “At the end of the day Hillary Clinton used her own email address. No laws were broken, no one was hurt, our national security wasn’t threatened. It was a dumb mistake and a far dumber scandal, as she herself has said many times,” he wrote.

        That’s a blant lie, and the fan club knows it.

        – There was an email in one of the wikileaks drops from a staffer that there was a desire to avoid FOIA. No actual confirmation that Clinton herself directed it or if her staff just kinda knew.

    6. Brooklin Bridge

      After the DNC/Clinton inspired RussiaGate story, and doubling down on it multiple times, as excuse for not one iota of introspection on lost election and Trump’s insane immigration executive order clearly targeting Muslims, what crossed my mind, rather uncharitably, was the horrible joke about who would hit the ground first if they were both dropped at the same time from a tall building. Ans (in the unlikely event anyone missed it) is: Who Cares?

    7. Yves Smith Post author

      Clinton’s poll ratings “tanked” mainly in the 3 days BEFORE the Comey disclosure. It appeared to be coincident due to the lag between when polls are taken v. when results are announced.

    8. ChrisFromGeorgia

      I do recall that time and events, and remember thinking to myself “Wow! – Obama sold out to the mega-corporations to the extent that he is willing to throw even a presidential candidate from his own party (Hillary) under the bus, thereby risking his precious legacy!”

      It makes sense to me that the TPP push hurt Hillary with Dem voters more than the email investigation. Granted I am a bit biased, but remember also that the same corporate interests that were pushing so hard for the TPP control the media, and they’d never want to admit that. Thus the email server and “waffling Comey” fiasco is a much more convenient excuse for them.

      1. Procopius

        I seem to recall that Nate Silver, shortly after the election, was telling a similar story based on the time line you’ve described. I had kind of forgotten that, because he’s now switched over to the “Comey’s letter” explanation along with everybody else.

    9. DorothyT

      When I heard Hillary Clinton call a large segment of Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” (Sept. 9, 2016), I believed her goose was cooked. No one else to blame for that. It said a great deal about her character and was widely reported.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I know a number of Trump voters who would agree.

        But any way you slice it–deplorables, the 9/11 collapse, TPP, dnc primary sabotage, private server, prior history, whom she was married to–you’d have to do an awful lot of forgetting to blame this whole thing on comey.

    10. todde

      How many times are we going to try to figure out who shit Hillary’s pants?

      psst… it was Hillary, Hillary shit Hillary’s pants…

  9. John

    Clinton allies seethe…
    What exactly do said allies propose to do beyond seething? It is all well to be angry; it is more useful to devise plans and begin actions to undo what has been done. The presidential election is not going to be re-run and dreams of impeachment and removal are just that. What action do you propose for the elections this year?

    Specify that Comey should have kept his mouth shut. I agree. Would that have changed the outcome of the election? Unknowable but likely not. What do you propose for the elections this year?

    1. Pat

      Funnily enough real opposition by those in office and support for popular policies by candidates is not being demanded by those outraged.

      But as it is all smoke and mirrors…

      1. roxy

        The infamous, and entirely accidental, video of hrc being tossed into her van like a sack of potatoes at the 9/11 memorial must have pushed a few off the fence to the not voting for her side.

        1. Harold

          In addition to all her other faults, she seemed unhealthy, dying even, and in a peculiar state of psychotic denial. Steven Colbert even had an animated comedy segment with her giving up the ghost. Who in their right mind would want to install someone visibly unsound in mind and body as the leader of a world power?

        2. Bugs Bunny

          I for one agree on this point. I was not going to vote for her but the fainting at the 9/11 memorial sealed the deal. Proved she had no scruples and would even sacrifice her own body for power.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Based on my emails from The Resistance, they’re happily selling “Dump Trump” bumperstickers and driving around counting them. No idea what they’re doing with the ten bucks per they’re collecting for them. Indeed, despite their constant whines for money, money, money, they’ve not once mentioned what it’s being used for.

  10. The Rev Kev


    Curiouser and curiouser. Russia Insider put up a story called “Syria Planned Demolishing Barzah Facility — Trump Fired 76 $2-Million Cruise Missiles at It (Pentagon Says)” which relates how out of an abundance of caution, that the Barzeh scientific research center was going to be demolished anyway in agreement with the OPCW along with another place. The report is at and on page two is the following text-

    “The Secretariat, together with the United Nations Office for Project Services, is to conclude a contract in the next couple of weeks with a company that will assist the Syrian Arab Republic in the destruction of the facilities located at these two sites. Destruction work could take another two to three months.”

    It gets even better. It you look at the sat images, you will see that Barzah is located right next to scores of apartment complexes. If you bomb a chemical factory, the resulting chemicals will spread and kill maybe hundreds of people in the area. Probably you would need thermobaric bombs to do the job. That did not happen. In fact, you can see people picking through the rubble the next morning who are not, in fact, writhing in death throes of chemical poisoning. Luckily we have an intelligent and well-informed media to ferret out these facts. Oh wait. The media was demanding that there would be more attacks (“Please, Sir. Can we have some more?”)

    1. uxxx

      So they shot $50-$100 MM worth of cruise missiles at an already decomissioned building scheduled for “destruction” (not demolition?) with oversight by inspectors? Hopefully that was a very polite way of backing out of Trump’s trash talk without losing face.

      But just to rewind – the concept of taking out “specialized” facilities used by the chemical attacks is premised on the chemicals being exotic – Sarin is most often cited by the media, but is not actually claimed by senior US leadership. Rather it comes in the form of innuendo by talking heads on the Sunday morning shows.

      Chlorine, which is the far more plausible poison per the videos, is a common industrial chemical. Water treatment in all cities. Making bleach that sterilizes hospitals, food production, bathrooms. So a basic material that’s universal – for the reason that human life at industrial-age population densities is not possible without it.

      So it’s not like you can attack and eliminate production facilities of chlorine.

      Lastly, the methods allegedly used don’t have any special technology in them. They’re available to anyone messed up enough to want to kill lots of people. All throughout this saga we had the implication that poison gas is a technology that takes time to master – as in a multi-year research program with PhD scientists. That’s really not the case, it’s a poisonous industrial chemical that has awful effects, likely even more so in a confined besieged urban environment (bunkers etc).

      To do attribution, one would need to catch the perpetrators in the act, or find pieces of specific tech implementations used (pretty much just containers and timing devices) and match them up with the place where they were built. So far, none of that was claimed.

      What just happened strikes me as mega-irresponsible. Maybe the planners of the operation wanted to have a “compromise solution” as a way out of Trump’s negotiating. This is not the way to go about that.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Veteran middle east reporter Robert Fisk went to Douma to have a chat:

        It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic–“Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city–is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.

        “I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night–but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived.

        People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia–not gas poisoning.”

        Like Colin Powell, Nikki Haley has been shown to be a lying liar.

        1. Plenue

          Anyone pay any attention to Louis Proyect these days? He’s completely lost his mind in the last week or so. Today he smeared Fisk as ‘essentially Judith Miller’.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        All you need to make chlorine gas is a lot of ammonia—another popular cleaning agent.

        1. Chris

          Ammonia (NH4) consists of nitrogen and hydrogen, Elizabeth. Where do the chlorine (Cl) atoms come from in your synthetic process?

        2. uxxx

          Not the same. You’re thinking of what the label says not to do w/ mixing your bathroom cleaners.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Thank you Aumua. I have been trying to remember those two cleaning agents that housewives use that, if mixed, make up the chlorine gas that was used in World War One battlefields.

            1. Oregoncharles

              That’s how we got rid of the fire ant nest in the vacant lot next door, back in Albuquerque. Poured in the chemicals, sinister puff of white smoke, tossed some dirt on the hole, and fled. No more fire ants.

              Don’t try this where the children play. A bit more safely, we used just ammonia as a fumigant in the nest that was in the garden. Killed everything growing nearby, too, but did get rid of the ants. They had climbed up our son’s legs and stung him. Chemistry teacher told me ammonia is almost as poisonous as chlorine. If you stop smelling it, get out quick.

              Incidentally, I think acids like vinegar will also release chlorine from bleach. Not sure how that works; my chemistry is getting very rusty. But bleach is pretty unstable.

      3. Plenue

        “So they shot $50-$100 MM worth of cruise missiles at an already decomissioned building”

        I don’t think they did. Looking at the pictures of the aftermath, there’s a hell of a lot of the buildings at the complex left standing for supposedly being hit with such an insane amount of firepower.

        At this point I’m very much inclined to believe the Russian claims that eight locations, not three, were targeted, but a majority of the missiles were intercepted. Rather than admit such a failure (if true, the era of the Tomahawk is over; it’s a useless weapon now), the Pentagon instead claimed all these missiles were fired at a smaller number of sites, to excuse causing little or no damage to the other five. Between the nearly immediate widespread reporting of multiple military airports being targeted, and the highly detailed Russian report that goes into specifics of which anti-air subsystems killed what (the modern Pantsir and Buk systems got most of the kills, whereas the old S-200 was a complete and utter failure), the Russians have developed a complex and detailed lie, if they’re engaging in deception.

        I’ll have to refresh my memory about whether it was in the initial press briefing, or followed closely after, but the Pentagon very early after the strike warned of ‘Russian propaganda’ in the coming days. This is the default stance these days, of course, but to include the warning right from the start struck me as odd. As if they knew the strike hadn’t come off flawlessly and they were already trying to fortify themselves against the truth getting out.

        There seems to be a concerted media campaign going on to discredit the Russian claims. An example article which itself gets basic facts wrong:

        “According to the U.S. military, American, British, and French forces fired 105 cruise missiles of various types against three groups of targets in Syria. In addition, the Syrian air defenses fired 40 surface-to-air missiles, mostly after the strike was over, and there was no immediate indication that they shot anything down in the process.”

        Really? The attack came in three waves and lasted the better part of an hour. They expect us to believe Syrian air defense just sat on their hands most of that time?

        “It’s definitely worth asking why it was necessary to employ nearly 80 missiles, each costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars”

        ‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ is technically true, but really reeks of a desperate attempt to soften the fact that each missile costs at least a million bucks.

        “The research center is situated in a more densely populated area than the other two targets the U.S. military and its allies struck and it is possible that the number of missiles employed reflected a deliberate attempt to make sure any agents were completely vaporized in the process.”

        Even if this were true, it’s incredibly psychotic and irresponsible.

        “It seems difficult to believe that Syria’s military could completely prevent attacks on five of 10 supposed targets, effectively neutralize the impact on two more, but let 80 percent of the missiles hit their mark at Barzah and Him Sinshar.”

        Gee, it’s almost like they didn’t have any chemical weapons, and decided military airfields were more important assets to defend with their limited AA systems than mundane medical research buildings and empty warehouses, or something.

      4. JBird

        There are some very lethal modern poison gases that are dangerous and difficult to produce, but most(all?) the gas attacks are of chlorine gas, which is so easy to make that people can kill themselves accidentally while house cleaning.

        So the supposed attack by the Syrian government is not done using the extremely lethal modern gases it has from the entire industry created to make chemical weapons to counter Israeli military superiority, but the relatively less dangerous and easily made chlorine gas? Therefore it must be the national government which we need to bomb right now.

        Okay then, that has no common sense at all.

    2. Ignacio

      And what about the story brougth by Robert Fisk (I would call him Sir Robert Fisk) about the supossed chemically-intoxicated children in Douma that were instead suffering dust-caused hypoxia. The author of The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East has been for years the best (at least for me) reference for Middle East recent story and politics. No word about it on the liberal press. By the way, this week I learned that the main stockholder of Grupo Prisa,–owner of the “liberal” El País– is a british hedge fund (Amber Capital). This explains a lot about the awful coverage of syraqistan in this medium.

      1. ambrit

        Thanks for the laugh Ignacio! I read that penultimate sentence as “brutish hedge fund” before i twigged that my reading would be a redundancy.
        Somehow, the name “Amber Capital” brings to mind images of the Hanseatic League and the old Russian film “Alexandr Nevsky.”
        As for the ‘liberal’ in relation to “El Pais,” well, aren’t they the paper that ran the picture of Franco on his horse above the masthead during the most recent Catalonia imbroglio?
        Speaking of the Catalan situation; I’m half expecting some wild eyed cleric to begin preaching a crusade against the Barcelenyo Heresy in the cathedrals of Madrid and other major Spanish cities. soon. Expect the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to be resurrected next.

      2. JBird

        Thanks for mentioning that book. It looks like an excellent read and I have put on it on my to buy list.

    3. Bill Smith

      The paragraph before what you quote:

      The Secretariat remains unable to confirm that the Syrian Arab Republic has submitted a declaration that can be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Convention and the decisions of the Council.

      Did they know this was a ‘safe’ place to bomb to make a point given what the report we both cited?

    4. blennylips

      On some brane in some multiverse, it happened this way

      1) Clever MIC backs out of ABM tready 2002, so we can
      2) Surround Russia with ABM sites (first strike always the goal)
      3) MIC realizes extent of Russian defensive plans: Pressures on – window of opportunity is closing.
      4) Skids greased in prep for Hilbots ascension – missles will fly minutes after inauguration.
      5) Drumph’s election derails that. War drums start beating – gonna happen one way or another and soon!
      6) Russia gets extra year – is ready, “Bring it on Biatches!”
      7) Symbolic retribution will have to do.
      7) Don’t make me do it again!

      sequel: Putin and Trump share nobel piece prize, world grateful!

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Men willing to punish more than women to get ahead PhysOrg.



    Are men also willing to punish more when retreating, or in general, moving about, or even just sitting still, going nowhere, stuck?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Pay Your Interns, Corporate America”

    Why would they wanna do that for? But not paying interns, that almost guarantees that the sort of people that become interns are either well off or else have very rich mummies and daddies i.e. the upper 20% elite. That way you get the “right” people entry into these jobs. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Recruits in ‘Bureaucratic Limbo’ with Citizenship Program Suspended

    Are there not enough citizens who want to join?

  14. Wyoming

    Re: the plastic eating bacteria

    Question. If this is a naturally occurring bacteria and we have already optimized it some in labs how or why would this not become ubiquitous? It would seem inevitable that it would spread globally. If they are going to optimize it to be able to break down plastic several orders of magnitude quicker than it can now will this and its spread not lead to that type of plastic no longer being suitable for long or medium term storage?

    If so this could cause havoc could it not? Or is that just inevitable at this point?

    The first thing that popped into my head was “What a weapon this could be.”

    1. Lee

      The alien microorganism in The Andromeda Strain mutates from a food preference for human blood, causing lethal coagulation, to consuming plastic and thus the world was saved. Oh, wait….

      1. JEHR

        Yes, I wondered what such bacteria would eat when the plastic was all gone. People have already ingested a fair amount of plastic already to say nothing of the plastic in our clothing.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The most disconcerting word there is ‘accidentally.’

          Accidents don’t always turn out to be benign, benevolent or positive.

          We have no control and are not able to foresee…thus, accidentally.

          Do scientists really know what they’re doing, working off ‘today’s best explanation, though tomorrow’s will be a better best-explanation – because that’s why we have progress?’

        2. Mel

          There’s a movie there maybe. Somebody builds a supermarket on the site of an ancient dump, and bacteria come up and eat all the packaging off the food.

    2. Ignacio

      The article says natural. Bacteria in bugs mouths in environments full of plastic garbage have, not surprisingly should I say, developed plastic-degrading enzymes (particularly polyethilene). I didn’t see it in the article but I guess these are derived from enzymes degrading vegetal cell walls (cellulases and so on). They say the process is slow (polyethilene fibers are tigthly packed and not easily accesible, thats why they are so stable in nature). I also guess the process would be helped by sun radiation since UV rays can break those fibers increasing accesibility.

      This is very good news for plastic remediation!

      1. John k

        No info on rate. If a colony takes a year or so to consume a straw it wouldn’t move the needle.

        1. ewmayer

          Actually, getting the degradation time for e.g. a plastic straw down from the current many-centuries to a mere year would be absolutely huge – imagine seeding landfills (though getting the bugs to not eat the plastic liners of same might be problematic) or the Pacific garbage patch with these little critters.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          The article spoke about plans to further increase performance so it is probably not ready for prime time but more a proof of concept. Possibly good enough for some tasks. Also, they mentioned it working on only one type of plastic. No info on how easy it would be to produce same for the other types.

    3. JBird

      There is a science fiction novel in which genetically modified bacteria created to eat oil spills is used prematurely and spread everywhere and eats all plastic and oil like bacteria and fungi quickly eat dead anything. Since it’s a post apocalyptic novel describing life after the end of all civilization that happened after a reasonably plausible event, the first thing that boing in my brain was “F@@@@@@! Are these clueless wonders taking any precautions or thinking at all of the possibilities both good and bad?” Why yes, I can find gloom on a glorious Summer day.

      As for use as a weapon, the enzyme would not be that effective I think, but the bacteria would be. However what could stop it from spreading?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump Scraps New Sanctions Against Russia, Overruling Advisers New York Times

    Is it Trump vs. his advisers, or Trump vs. the Swamp/Blob in general when it comes to our foreign policy?

    And which past commander-in-chief has done worse at not listening them completely? Obama, Clinton, Bush? Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson?

    And who in the likely future will bend less?

    1. John k

      IMO Bernie will do a better job getting the right people confirmed, then move slowly.
      I expect he would win in landslide because indies, will give him great power in spite of oppo from both parties.
      He’s a smart pol, as opposed to stupid, and has the benefit of watching current situation.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Who are those right people able to be confirmed?

        For example, what candidates do we have now for the CIA, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser that will likely be confirmed?

        I was thinking about that when I first posted the comment.

    1. John k

      So best to primary blue dogs, cut them down makes it easier for progressives to take control of dem party, and frankly it matters not if a right winger calls himself dem or rep… plus the added bonus that Schumer pelosi maybe kept away from power.

  16. ProNewerDeal

    IMHO The NC reporting on Uber was interesting in that it described the reality for the worker drivers (net pay after expenses of ~$3.50/hr per MIT study or ~$8-13/hr per other study) that is different from Uber’s PR hype (lying saying its drivers make $90K/yr) or a typical USian’s impression.

    IMHO it would be helpful if some weekly or monthly report existed (be it internet publication, podcast, etc) that reported accurately on the US labor market & different occupations. The 2008-now post-GFC 0bama perma-crapified labor market has overqualified-underemployment absurdities like PhDs driving Uber & has many (most?) people working or interested in working multiple jobs (what Uber calls “side hustle” in their TV ad). It would be informative to get a realistic view of the different opportunities available. Something like economist Prof. Richard Wolff’s podcast that promotes worker-owned co-operative orgs & unions is interesting but not the “genre” of report I’m describing here; in the “real world” most workers cannot avoid considering non-unionized non-worker-owned co-op org employers.

    Does such a a report exist currently? Thanks in advance

      1. diptherio

        Sorry, I had the ringer on mute :-)

        I agree that such a report would be a good thing to have. Heck, even the four people I helped setup a kombucha worker co-op recently are still working other jobs until the co-op can expand enough to employ everyone full-time. So some kind of “Good Jobs Report” would be a definite value. Although I can’t remember the chap’s name, there used to be someone here that regularly gave a more realistic take on employment numbers every time new ones were released. Maybe we should try to convince him to make a come-back.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria”

    I’m sorry but I am going to have to put this down as unintentional humour. Yeah, I’m sure that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states would be more than willing to put up the billions needed to fund such a force as they have been doing it for years anyway. Anything to prolong that war would be a good thing as far as they are concerned. But an Arab occupation force? Man, that’s gold!
    Consider. The war in Yemen. Fighting the rag-tag Houthis are forces from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco for a start. They asked the Pakistanis but they took one look at the situation and said forget it. Not only have these superior forces lost hundreds killed and thousands wounded but the Houthis keep on launching infantry assaults into Saudi Arabia itself as well as send missiles to Riyadh. The place is a nightmare without end for this coalition.
    Now imagine another Arab force stationed in Syria as an occupation force – probably operating outside of a UN mandate – and with forces hostile to it on every side. In that country you will find some of the most battle-hardened men in the world which include the Syrian Army, ISIS, Hezbollah, the Syrian Free Army and the Kurds. Every single one of these forces would regard the Arab occupation force as a target as they would be mostly made up of amateurs and would be seen as the invaders that they were. It would be glorious, if bloody. Probably find that the Arab countries would beg off taking part in Syria and would say they are too busy with Yemen but if something opens up, they will let the US know.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      First Rome invaded Britain.

      Then, they wanted to get go home.

      So, they invited professional warriors, like the Angles, Saxons, Frisians, Jutes.

      Did they have a responsibility to stay, to maintain commerce and keep the resorts at Bath going? How should they have exited or stopped exerting imperial hegemony in that part of their empire?

      1. ambrit

        Sorry MLTPB, but to the best of my meagre reading, those northern tribes you mentioned all entered the British Isles after the Romans decamped. The Romans did set up a functioning civilization, but it all went downhill after the climate disasters around 535AD and after.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks ambrit for the update. Maybe someone other than the Romans invited those barbariab tribes.

          At some point, the ‘Groans of the Britons*’ appeal was made, for the legions to return. But it was not meant to be.

          *Quite tragic really. From Wikipedia:

          English: To Agitius, thrice consul: the groans of the Britons. […] The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death, we are either killed or drowned.

          1. ambrit

            Sorry to be pedantic MLTPB. I also suffer from frequent irruptions of ‘Foot in Mouth Disease.’ Regular readers of the comments section, (those that do not disdain to notice me, that is,) will be acquainted with that particular phenomenon.
            “The Groans of the Britons” would go over well as a Remainder plaint.
            “To Belgicus, most noble of autokrators: the groans of the Britons. …the Nationalists drive us to the City. The City drives us to the Nationalists; between these two faces of Fate, we are either taxed or starved.”
            My appeal to the Climate Crisis of 535 was premature. The Romans left Alba in 407AD!
            Be Ye of good cheer!

            1. Synoia

              Oh com on! The “invaders” from the continent were just on a day trip to the UK to sample the local wares and a have few dates.

              The Beaches of East Anglia are ideal for a smooth landing.

              I suggest you google “Peddars Way or Icknield Way.”

              I’ve walked on parts of both, In Norfolk and Berkshire, the latter near the White Horse. The Ridgeway passes by the Avebury Circle, I believe.

              The visitors from the North Sea could walk across England on these old roads.

              1. ambrit

                I love that “visitors from the North Sea!” You get my award for “Hierophant of Understatement.”
                Indeed, a Sea Border was quite a ‘success’ way back then, eh?
                Will we see a Count William of Bruxelles coming over the canal for an ‘extended stay’ soon. Just like back in 1066? Who is the Pretender nowadays anyway?
                (Addendum: I’m d—-d if I can figure out just what I’m being ‘conditioned’ to avoid in my discourse in the above screed. Tis a puzzlement. Perhaps it’s just on general principles. I can understand that.)

    2. Synoia

      No problem. Turkey’s army can fill the gap!

      Better question is when will this army go home?

      I predict the commanding general will be given the opportunity to make a few self-serving decisions. Such as “How do I become King?”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Have just found the following story-

        ‘Saudi Arabia is open to sending troops to Syria under the US-led coalition if such a decision is taken, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on April 17, according to the state-media.
        “We are in discussion with the U.S. and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria,” Jubeir said during a news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Riyadh’.

        I know exactly what the Saudis are thinking. They are short of cash so by occupying the oil producing areas of Syria, they can pump it dry and keep the money for themselves. Could also use some of the money to put up Wahhabi mosques left, right and center and turn the whole region Wahabbist who could then go after the rest of the Syrians down the track.
        The Syrians are under no illusions as to the countries responsible for their present misery and Saudi Arabia is at the top of the list. The thought of having them being in-country would be tempting beyond belief for the Syrians. Oh please, please, please let it happen.

  18. diptherio

    Trump manages to misunderstand the point of food stamps and Medicaid:

    “Since its inception, the welfare system has grown into a large bureaucracy that might be susceptible to measuring success by how many people are enrolled in a program rather than by how many have moved from poverty into financial independence,” it states.

    Of course, the point of SNAP isn’t to move people from poverty to financial independence, it’s there to make sure poor people can afford to buy food. Likewise, the point of Medicaid is to make sure poor people can access some level of health care, not to help them gain financial independence. Is there a job-placement element of Medicaid that I am unaware of? How about SNAP?

    Equally unsuprising is that the Dems insist on framing the problem with Trump’s executive order as one of race {facepalm}.

    “This executive order perpetuates false and racist stereotypes about certain groups supposedly taking advantage of government assistance,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement reacting to the order.

    Why not make your critique on the grounds of logic instead of screaming “racist!”?…because we all know how well that’s worked out. How about pointing out that more people looking for employment does nothing to create more jobs, or to improve the quality of the existing ones? Nope, that would be a point that everyone might be able to agree on and so must be avoided at all costs.

    1. todde

      More people looking for work does put pressure on wages to deflate.

      I once worked for one of the top 150 richest person in the world. His son once said he didn’t want to monitor and regulate people’s work habits, he simply wanted a dozen people lined up outside every day wanting their jobs.

      it’s cheaper that way.

      1. Massinissa

        Marx and Engels had a term for what that son was talking about. They referred to it as “the reserve army of labor”, referring to the un- and -under employed who help keep wages down for the Capitalists.

  19. Alex morfesis

    The wondrous week that was…pay attention…your grandchildren will ask you where you were and what you were doing this week…look up at the sky and remember the clouds…follow a butterfly and a bee to its destination…buy that overpriced dark chocolate bar you have been meaning to try at that Belgian cafe…

    The day before the Korean armistice, elements of the paperclip a/o inside our national security apparatus arranged for a leaky boat and some photographers to document it as it push off from the Texas coast with Raul and Fidel…the made for TV fake revolutionaries (who eventually included Ted Cruz’s dad) who were more than happy to let the real revolutionary leader, Cienfuegos, do the heavy lifting and smiled (note famous photo of Prio, che and Fidel) as his plane magically did not land properly for “the peoples” assembly and…well…the rest is the narrative most accept as gospel…

    But…sooner or later…the ratings go down hill and the show has to be replaced…

    Raul is to officially step down this week and the North and South Koreans will soon declare the war over…and disassemble the DMZ…

    Your grandkids will ask you where you were this week…so take a moment to slow it down a bit…find a moment to do something fun you have been denying yourself…or make up some story to tell them…

    This was the week that was…

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Thought your comment could use these links:

      DPRK and South to officially end war (The Hill)

      Which way for Cuba after the Castros? (NACLA)

      I’ve been saying that the logical first step to resolving the Korean situation would be a peace treaty. Next there needs to be ending US-RoK joint military exercises, stepped withdrawal of US troops, closing the DMZ, open borders and eventually elections…I imagine the DPRK Workers Party might even end up with a sizable minority in government…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What is China looking forward to

        1. An independent North Korea, led by their own Deng Xiaoping, becoming rich like China, accumulating foreign reserves by selling stuff to Americca

        2. Reunification between the two nations, showing the way for China to be one with Taiwan too.

      2. John k

        I doubt that the south can assimilate the north, far more difficult that e Germany. Or, knowing this, that they want to.
        Certainly want to end the hostility, and get back to using, or exploiting, north workers in special zones.
        Meanwhile Kim not going to give up absolute power for life. Not healthy.

        1. ewmayer

          South Korea has the wealth (and continuing economic & industrial-ouput capacity) to sufficiently cover the most dire needs of the North, but yeah, if it’s gonna happen it’s gonna need to be an unprecedented (even by German-reuni and post-WW2 Marshall Plan standards) effort, several multiples-of-SK-GDP-worth of investment. And it’s going to need to be a sustained long-term effort, I figure at least a full generation long. Considering that the 2 Germanies were physically hard-divided for around 1 generation whereas the 2 Koreas have been so for roughly 3, it would be foolish to expect otherwise.

          But I have read reports that the South Koreans are more keenly aware of the details of what-would-be-needed than anyone else, and have been engaged in long-term contingency planning along these lines. Despite the profound political differences the two Koreas are not as culturally divided as many would have you believe – and this was reinforced for me during the recent Winter Olympics. I find the fact that the level of detente dialogue has come this far, this fast to be highly encouraging. Should we gloss over the immense hardship a reunification project would bring? Of course not? On the flip side, nor should we consider the difficulty and simply give up because “it’s too hard”. But if you want to entertain a truly daunting prospect, consider that of rebuilding the peninsula (and god-knows-wherever-else) after a full-scale war-likely-involving-nukes-on-both-sides. Me, I’ll take the difficult-but-peaceful option any day.

          1. ewmayer

            I should add that I actually consider the political hurdles to be higher than the economic ones in this case. Even if there is a good-faith-on-both-sides rapprochement between North and South, how does one conceivably achieve a peaceful merger between the democratic (and suffering from the kind of capitalist-oligarch-driven corruption the North decries in its domestic propaganda) system in the South and the dictatorial Stalinism based on a multigenerational familial personality cult – and one which, unlike Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, appears in no danger of toppling – of the North? As with the economics, I expect any solution would need to be a multigeneratioal one.

      1. ambrit

        It’s an old cassette of George Clinton and the crew throwing down from the ’80s. (I don’t know if Bootsy is up with that.) It’s also how your Mom and I first met. I’ll explain that later.

        1. Steve H.

          I shall not stand for any Bootsy slander, His signature has barely faded from my arm from a month ago.

          > It’s also how your Mom and I first met
          nine months before you were born.

          Get da Funk!

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Support Trump’s decision not to impose sanctions on Russia reported by the NYT. Mindful of Winston Churchill’s quote “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” I would not want to see more reactionary elements in that nation replace Putin, and there is no need to provide them with further reasons to do so. We don’t need a “New Cold War”.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump Tax Plan: 80 Percent of Economic Gains Will End Up Going to Foreigners in 2028, Democratic Senator Says Newsweek (UserFriendly)

    Will those foreigners be grateful?

    Does the fact that foreigners will benefit bother the senator, who is presumably for not xenophobic? Why pick on foreigners?

    Will this defuse international tension a little, now that they can expect to make more money?

  22. Alex morfesis

    Earl Warren the 2nd ? Gorsuch a traitor to his kind ? Republican Warren decided to help freedomize the US Constitution to the point of impeachment being blurted out loud…

    “Vague laws invite arbitrary powers”…”allowing prosecutors and courts to make it up”

    James Garcia Dimaya had convinced a lower court in 2015 that his crime did not rise to a violent level requiring and allowing his deportation and removal from US Soil…

    The Honorable Neil Gorsuch has just made the Republican tea party wing choke on its own vomit…

    A friend suggested Paul Ryan ran off since his Bishop friends were dethroned within the church hierarchy by the je suez recently… Was tending to agree…but maybe Ryan got wind of this ruling and opinion being finalized and decided to run before he was run out of town for pushing through the new earl warren…

  23. Craig H.

    > The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

    This is the story of the day. Robert Fisk is reporting nobody attacked anybody with any chemical weapons last week and the entire brouhaha was fake news.

    Chicago Tribune has this: International chemical weapons inspectors reach Syrian town from one hour ago and I am on the edge of my rolly-chair. (It’s actually an AP byline.)

    1. Ignacio

      I am starting to think that intelligence services in european nations such as the UK or France have become terribly inept probably because they are used as PR agencies. I didn’t mention Spain because it would be a joke. May and Macron have seriously compromised their credibility trying to push the antirussian agenda too far.

    2. ewmayer

      Craig, thanks for the Tribune link, but note that it cites AP reporters whose accounts conflict with Fisk’s “no chem-weapons” one – but still point away from the regime:

      On Monday, the AP visited a two-room underground shelter where Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir said 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two daughters, 18-month-old Qamar and 2 1/2-year-old Nour. A strange smell lingered, nine days after the attack.

      Nuseir, 25, said he ran from the shelter to a nearby clinic and fainted. After he was revived, he returned to the shelter and found his wife and daughters dead, with foam coming from their mouths.

      He and two other residents accused the rebel Army of Islam of carrying out the attack. As they spoke, government troops were nearby but out of earshot. Nuseir said a cylinder was found leaking the poison gas, adding that he didn’t think it was dropped from the air because it still looked intact.

      Separately, the AP spoke to a medic who was among those who later were evacuated to northern Syria. Ahmed Abed al-Nafaa said helicopters were flying before the attack and when he reached the site, people were screaming “chlorine.” He said he tried to enter the shelter but was overcome by a strong smell of chlorine and his comrades pulled him out.

  24. Summer

    Re: Mark Zuckerberg cannot control his own creation.

    Just riffing here, but “cannot” or “does not”?
    And “his own” creation?

    The big bucks are for the things you do not tell.

    1. John k

      Early on the big question was how to profit from all the eyeballs?
      We San sell the dumb f**** data! No way he gives that up. It’s all he’s got.

  25. Brooklin Bridge

    When are the weather forecasters ever going to come out and really start talking about global warming? I think they want to, or some of them. And they probably realize we want them to, or a lot of us. But how much is it going to take before they actually do it? Ever?

    They’re starting to look like idiots. I wonder what their teenage kids tell them when they get home. Do they roll their eyes when mom or dad says, “Isn’t it something that we’re breaking all these records?” as if it were some All American sports event?

  26. Darthbobber

    “Clinton allies see the with rage at Comey”. Really might as well stop with “Clinton allies seethe with rage.”

    If only there had been a way to avoid Comey having any decision to make about a Clinton email investigation in the fall of 2016. I can think of several, and a great many people would have chosen one of those. Assuming, charitably, that there was no more to see there than is now known.

    1. ambrit

      What ever happened to the idea of the “Appearance of Impropriety?”
      First, well, most notable, Bill visiting an ‘interested party’ on the runway at a southwestern airport. Now, Comey triggers his self defense strategy. What spooked Comey?

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Men willing to punish more than women to get ahead”

    I am a bit dubious about this study because the people that were sampled may have been “weird” people. A small story. Behavioral scientists reckoned that they had human psychology and behavior all worked out until scientists that were giving standard test in places like South America found that the results did not tally with what the journals said they should be. It took a while to realize that people like behavioral scientists were using for their test subjects the easiest that they could access – college students – who were by definition from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD – paper at societies. No wonder the results were all out of whack. This may be more of the same and may not apply in other eras or even other countries. More work is needed here.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Interesting confirmation. I noticed many years ago that college students were particularly well studied (not the same as understood) by psychologists – so any way that they aren’t typical is likely to be way off. Like age, for instance. And class. And education…

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