Links 4/3/18

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81 BBC

Large crack in East African Rift is evidence of continent splitting in two PBS (Chuck L)

Underwater melting of Antarctic ice far greater than thought, study finds Guardian

China’s new rain-making system could increase rainfall by billions of cubic feet Inhabitat (David L)

How We’ll Survive When Artificial Intelligence Gets Smarter Than Us Psychology Today

Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel Bloomberg. EM:

I’d previously heard rumors that Apple might be considering moving to something based on the power-efficient ARM family of RISC architectures, if Bloomberg’s info is right this would point to that (bolds mine): “Intel chips remain some of the only major processor components designed by others inside Apple’s product portfolio. Currently, all iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs use main processors designed by Apple and based on technology from Arm Holdings Plc. Moving to its own chips inside Macs would let Apple release new models on its own timelines, instead of relying on Intel’s processor roadmap.”

The Diet That Might Cure Depression Atlantic (furzy)

Fukushima Jitters Counterpunch (Chuck L)

“Uncontroversial” Mass Destruction Counterpunch (Chuck L)


Washington blasts China over retaliatory tariffs on $3 billion worth of US goods DW

China, Philippines seek to share South China Sea Asia Times

French SNCF rail strike to defy Macron labour reforms BBC


Brexit: ships that don’t pass in the night Richard North (AFXH)

New Cold War

Russia relations worse than in Cold War The Times

As it frets over China, Europe is forgetting the real threat: Russia Politico


NPR Runs IDF Playbook, Spinning Killing of 17 Palestinians FAIR (UserFriendly)

Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’ Atlantic (furzy)

Imperial Collapse Watch

A Last Look at The West That Was Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L). Important. I’m old enough to remember this America….

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Grindr Is Letting Other Companies See User HIV Status And Location Data BuzzFeed

Should I Buy A ‘Smart’ Phone? Moon of Alabama

Fitbit is crashing after a pretty rough note from Wall Street TechCrunch (EM)

The Isolation of Julian Assange Must Stop Counterpunch

With paper and phones, Atlanta struggles to recover from cyber attack Reuters (EM)

Trump Transition

The Gap Between Trump’s Tweets and Reality Atlantic (furzy)

EPA Will Ease Vehicle-Emissions Standards Wall Street Journal

Trump administration sues California over state law on federal land transfers Politico (Kevin W)

Trump’s Corrupt Crusader Cabinet Nina Illingworth (UserFriendly). Not a fan of her writing style. Caitiln Johnstone is great at being able to do a full bore rant and keep the phrasemaking lively enough to make it enjoyable to read. By contrast, I find reading Illingworth to be about as pleasant as listening to nails on a chalkboard. Maybe she thinks that fits the subject matter, but it’s a big deterrent to reading more that a few paragraphs.

Acting Chief Recommends Reining In Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Wall Street Journal

Trump administration sues California over state law on federal land transfers Politico

Be Skeptical Of Anyone Who Tells You They Know How Democrats Can Win In November FiveThirtyEight (UserFriendly)

Kill Me Now

Obama eases into post-presidential life The Hill

Fake News

EU attack on pro-Kremlin ‘fake news’ takes a hit Financial Times

Sinclair Broadcasting Under Fire for Outrageous Trump Propaganda Script Alternet. RR: “Pot v. kettle.”

Watch “Sinclair requires anchors to read script bashing ‘fake’ news” on YouTube YouTube (furzy)

InfoWars’ Alex Jones Hit With $1 Million Lawsuit for Falsely Implicating Man in Parkland Shooting Gizmodo (furxy)

Facebook Fracas

Mark Zuckerberg hits back at Tim Cook over criticism Financial Times

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s hardest year, and what comes next: “We will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years.” Vox

Mark Zuckerberg just laid out Facebook’s role in reported ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar Business Insider. Ahem, Zuckerberg’s version of Facebook’s role….

Stocks Tumble on Tech Selloff Wall Street Journal

Stocks’ Second-Quarter Start Is the Worst Since the Great Depression Bloomberg

Brick & Mortar Retail Meltdown, March Update Wolf Richter (EM)

Elon Musk’s bankruptcy joke misses target, Tesla shares drop Australian Financial Review (Kevin W)

SEC Charges Founders of Cryptocurrency ICO Promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and DJ Khaled with Fraud Gizmodo (furzy mouse)

GM Scraps a Standard in Sales Reporting Wall Street Journal. Wowsers, other retail sales reported monthly…

Manhattan apartment sales plunge Financial Times

Class Warfare

Teachers flex political muscle in red-state strikes The Hill

The Oligarchs’ ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ Scam Chris Hedges, TruthDig (RR)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    Further to Brexit, today’s Times, behind a pay wall, reports an ECB warning to firms to prepare for a hard Brexit,

    This follows regular interventions over the past year, especially statements of expectations from supervisors Danielle Nouy and Sabine Lautenschlager. The latter has warned firms to have more than letter boxes in the EU27.

    The Commission has regularly issued notices to stakeholders, involved in a variety of activities such as aviation, broadcasting and road transport, warning them of the need to have EU27 authorisations / entities for trading in the EU and, even, .eu websites.

    Needless to say, anti-Corbyn smearing is simpler, more fun and a better investment (for one’s career) than covering Brexit. The royal wedding and world cup, on the assumption that Uncle Sam’s client states don’t boycott the event, can’t come soon enough to make a change from the MSM misinformation.

    To echo Vlade’s comments from last November, thank goodness Harry is taking one for the team.

    1. Anonymous2

      Thank you Yves and Colonel.

      Only wise to allow for this possibility. I guess the real showdown could well be this autumn when the question will effectively be put for the last time to the UK: do you agree to this (pretty crummy) deal or do you want to go over the (no-deal) cliff? The crumminess of the deal will of course reflect the UK’s stupid ‘red lines’ above all. This will IMO be the moment of truth for the ultras. Can they overthrow May or do they just aim to live to fight another day?

      Or does the UK do a dramatic last minute rethink and say ‘you know what, the Norway option with extra customs agreements looks pretty good to me the more I think about it. Let’s go for that.’?

      Meanwhile the movement of jobs from the UK to the EU 27 seems to be gathering speed from what I hear.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m inclined to agree with Davids comment last week that the Ultras have missed their moment, its too late for them to take down the agreement by themselves. And I think that even if the DUP/Ultras revolt in October, May is likely to get the required votes elsewhere.

        I suspect that the Ultras will live with a transition agreement in October, but will seek an opportunity to crash it at some opportune stage over the following 2 years, blaming the EU.

        They may also be keeping an eye on the polls – if the attacks on Corbyn seem to be working maybe they will see an advantage to bringing the government down on some pretext and going for an election with Gove or someone similar in charge. The DUP might see that as a high risk, but worthwhile strategy to save themselves from the corner they’ve backed themselves into.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        On the point of job movements, I wonder if it will remain a steady trickle or whether it will gather real steam to the extent of having a real impact on the broader economy.

        I was just told last week by the owner of my local gym that she’s been given 6 months notice to leave. The gym is in an old industrial building that’s packed full of funky little businesses. They seemed safe, but the owner turned around and announced that it will be demolished for an office building. There are lots of upset people over this.

        The reason I mention this is that I usually keep up to date on commercial property in Dublin, and certainly up to 6 months ago there were indications that there was considered sufficient office space in Dublin for the anticipated influx, plus normal growth. I know that developers were not getting finance for speculative office buildings – only for ones with pre-signed on tenants. My gym is not within a core office area – all local development recently has been residential, and its not in the core area for IT companies (the current big office space hogs). So I wonder if this is a sign that some operators are pre-paying for office space for 18-24 months ahead.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I know it pales compared to Brexit, but I know how disturbing it is to one’s routine to lose a good local gym, both the facility and often the acquaintances with the staff and fellow members. Plus I hate seeing small businesses go under due to rent increases or force relocations.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its interesting that so far as I can tell from my reading of the media (quite limited), there is general attempt to portray May as the winner of the internal battles, that she has achieved a good deal and outwitted the hard Brexiters. Even Richard North in the EUReferendum blog seems to thing the transition deal is done and dusted. I suspect there is a strong willingness to keep a lid on everything until the summer and the local elections are over (the latter I think being the reason for the Corbyn bashing, which has almost become funny now that he is apparently attending the wrong sort of Jewish events).

      But I’m not so sure they won’t try one final heave in October – there seems a very substantial element within the hard Brexit establishment that actually embraces the idea of an over the cliff Brexit in 2019. Its also possible I think that there could be a complete stalemate in Parliament over any deal.

      Anyway, I think the EU, as you say, is well on its way to embarking on a policy of mercantilism towards the UK, I’m actually surprised that so far the various national governments haven’t been more overt in their attempts at poaching jobs.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, PK.

        Perhaps, Corbyn’s associates should get stuck into May for hanging out with the wrong sort of unionists.

        I remember a scrap over a girl at a (school) cadet force summer camp between an Anglo-Irish toff / officer class material and some lads from a unit affiliated to the UDR in Portadown. The lads even brought their Lambegs to Sherwood Forest, much to the amusement of mainlanders.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I can’t link to it as its behind a paywall, but there is an interesting article in the Irish satirical fortnightly ‘Phoenix’ this week about the goings on in the 1970’s in NI. There was a lot of shady assassinations in South Armagh, centring around an SAS captain called Nairac (later killed by the IRA). The intelligence services had an army whistleblower sectioned for mental illness for wanting to let the story out – in a recent court case the Army Psychiatrist who dealt with it said he had been pressured from a very high level to give a false diagnosis to allow him to be locked up.

          Also paywalled is a recent Irish Times review of a book on the period focusing on the impact of the regimental system on the British Army’s ‘policing’ of NI. The system seemed to have encouraged a sort of competitive macho system which meant there was little cross-army co-operation. Interestingly, most NI catholics (including IRA supporters) had little problem with the English toff types in the army – there was quite a lot of mutual respect going on. It was the lowland Scots regiments such as the Black Watch and the Argylls who were hated and feared. The former were notorious in the early 1970’s for leaving urine behind after every house search.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, PK.

            Guards and SAS Captain Robert Nairac is, or was, like me the son of Mauritian immigrants and son of a doctor.

            His paternal family also come from the same village, St Pierre, as my paternal family.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Further to your comment about the regimental and class system, one of dad’s RAF doctor colleagues had to share a flight from Aldergrove to Germany with some soldiers in the mid-1980s. He commented that he would never ever have one of the soldiers in his house and, should one ever express an interest in his daughter, he would get his shot gun out.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Thanks Colonel, that’s very interesting, I hadn’t known he had Mauritian background. I don’t know a lot about the history there, but he was a very interesting character – he became well known in the border areas for his fondness for going into nationalist pubs and singing rebel songs with locals. Nobody at the time could work out whether this was bravery or foolishness, or whether he was he was making himself a target to flush out local sympathisers. The army has since I think been trying to establish a narrative where he was a good soldier but naïve. From what I’m aware of, there are plenty of suggestions of more sinister interpretations. But there are a lot of things from that period where I suspect the truth will never be known.

              1. Colonel Smithers

                Thank you, PK.

                The Nairac are a well known Franco-Mauritian family and produce many lawyers and sugar industry professionals.

                They are related to the former, current and next Catholic primates, the first two being cardinals. The church interceded at the time of his captivity and since on his family’s behalf.

          2. The Rev Kev

            Interesting that bit about the Scottish soldiers. History buffs may remember that when the English brought settlers over to Ireland centuries ago as part of their Plantations policy to displace the local Irish, that a very large number of them were from Scotland.
            They never did mix in and kept their own culture – the Ulster Scots – and maintained their independence. Lots of them went on to populate America and I myself have two ancestral lines from this mob This contempt by the Scottish soldiers sounds like more of the same going on. I wonder if it was any different with the Welsh Regiments.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks flora, its interesting when you read it that it seems many are just starting to think in strategic terms about what it means for the City – just a year or two too late. A lot of the aims in that paper are just wishes for rainbows.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Flora and PK.

          I know and have worked with Mark. He’s not one to ruffle feathers.

    3. Christopher Dale Rogers


      Regrettably for us keyboard warriors who are part of Corbyn’s ‘army of hate’, its been quite a thankless task rebutting false MSM claims, never mind trying to counter a ChickenCoup II within the Labour Party, which our totalitarian centrists seem utter focused upon. Indeed, what’s been happen with regards Brexit has been completed side-lined these past two months to an excessive & exaggerated focus on Corbyn. Which means. even I’m unable to keep abreast of actual events, as I don my mufti and engage in daily skirmishes with our political enemies, both within the Party and across the opposing benches.

      With regards the Labour Party’s internal strife, it would seem preparations for ChickenCoup II have failed, this based on the fact that Porton Down via their Sky News interview/press release cannot confirm direct ruskin involvement in the Skripal poison affair, the one where our Centrists friends wanted to nuke Russia.

      If this were not bad enough, the wheels have fallen off the anti-semitism wagon following Jewdasgate on Monday evening, whereby Corbyn had the temerity of spending a 4 hour Seder with young leftwing Jewish constituents – that this private event was leaked on the Guido Fawkes website got the MSM into a tizzy, together with the Jewish Elders and our able friends the Labour Centrist, who, instigated a full frontal Twitter attack against Corbyn. This assault failed, and the two PLP Kamakazi squad better known as John Woodcock and Angela Smith, who were eviscerated via a swarm of British & US-based Leftist Jews, who allegedly were the wrong sort of Jew for Corbyn to associate with. Further damage then became apparent within the Jewish establishment Elders when the head of the Board of Deputies accused Jewdas of being a anti-semitic front – Mr Pollard, a firm fan of the BoD Head, proceeded to lambast him for his crassness.

      And you guys want to know about Brexit, which has more or less been absent from any serious reportage during the attempt to topple Corbyn as either a spy, Putins poodle or an anti-semite.

      The establishment are like headless chickens presently and how the BBC will explain away the head of Porton Down’s findings will be most interesting. We may have that election even before the Brexit parliamentary vote.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, CDR.

        The BBC and Channel 4’s silence on Porton Down’s cold feet is deafening.

  2. Donald

    Illingworth’s writing style used to be a lot more readable than it is now. For instance, I found her three part series on “ Clinton Cash” almost a page turner. Back then she sometimes wrote to persuade people and to be understood clearly. She still has a tremendous amount of information to convey, but nowadays she always buries it underneath expletives and insults and, like you, I find it exhausting.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Still, when an author characterizes Mr Milk Mustache as a “death-worshiping bomb walrus,” I am entertained. :-)

      1. hyper links

        There were, for me, a lot of grimly pleasurable characterizations like that, but this piece as a whole was indeed exhausting. FWIW, Illingworth does keep readers posted about the personal circumstances that affect her writing. Also FWIW, she has often complained about Johnstone ripping her off. She’s certainly a research demon, and one of the few anarcho-syndicalists out there punching these days.

    2. Bittercup

      It is pretty exhausting, I also enjoyed her Clinton Cash stuff but subsequently quit reading her for the same reasons. It’s funny that Illingworth got compared to Johnstone in the commentary on the link today, though, since Illingworth has accused Caitlin of plagiarizing her. I have yet to see anything to make me think that claim is remotely true. At best both Nina and Caitlin read from the same sources, and both tend to write articles responsive to whatever-the-fight-of-the-day-is on Twitter.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    I agree with Chris Hedges’s point about UBI not being a solution for all our ills. The same point could be made about a Jobs Guarantee or even Medicare for All. Our system has become so fundamentally corrupt and morally depraved that any policy implemented in this context will be subject to lots of siphoning and nudging. It’s also true that any of those policies is no more than treating symptoms in a critically ill socio-economic-political structure.

    At the same time, it’s also true that all three of those policies would provide some relief to the beleaguered even with the siphoning and nudging. I prefer UBI because writing government checks (now really a metaphor) to each and every citizen offers the fewest opportunities for grifters to pocket most of the money.

    Hedges rejects ameliorative policies because he wants to see widespread revolt aimed at throwing out our neoliberal, warmongering elites. My concern is that we really have nothing ready to replace it, and providing a few more resources to those of us trying to build some kind of alternative would be helpful.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Widespread revolts are best suited for healthy rugged individuals.

      You can join, possibly, even you need a cane to walk.

      Any prolonged counter-resistance, though, many not-so-rugged people in nursing homes would likely perish. Millions of them.

      Hedges hopefully knows better than Ayn Rand…not all of us (and our aging parents, grandparents) are rugged individuals capable of surviving even one widespread revolt.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If we don’t revolt?

          We can try to take over the D party. That’s one option.

    2. SPring Texan

      UBI is actually the WORST of these options IMO because it will be spun as “welfare” and will thus be supposed to replace all other programs like food stamps, earned income tax credit, disability, etc., yet will be kept too low to live on, so it will be used to deliver blows to the poor. Any program supposed to REPLACE those is a bad program (not by its intrinsic nature, but by how it will be used). Where a jobs guarantee would supplement those.

      1. Romancing The Loan

        Also worry the benefits of a UBI would be absorbed by inflation before they had much effect.

        I think we should pay people for work that needs doing (and provide the needed training) and couple it with direct and universal provision of material benefits. As in, pay people to grow food and give it away.

          1. Elizabeth Burton

            Because any program initiated by the oligarchs has the hidden agenda of being able to use “unworthy recipients” and “fraud” as bludgeons to later eliminate it. And because for people making a comfortable living it will be a bonus, whereas for the poor it could very well be their means of survival. The former won’t care how large it is, so those deciding that can, as noted by others, make it barely sufficient; and the only ones who would suffer because of it would be those who most need it.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I find this from the Mincome article in Wikipedia:

            He finds that an important benefit of basic annual incomes is the reduced stigma compared to conventional welfare.[8]

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I find this from the Mincome article in Wikipedia:

            He finds that an important benefit of basic annual incomes is the reduced stigma compared to conventional welfare.[8]

          4. Procopius

            I’m pretty sure the New Democrats would claim that many people “don’t really need it,” and so would demand a means test, denying it to people with a certain level of income. The same way Hillary said public university should not be free for people with more than some level of income. This is how the oligarchs turn “rights” into “welfare.” Oh, yeah, there would be Republicans also demanding work requirements and drug testing. They often work together.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I could not find in the article one mention of ‘jobs guarantee.’ I’m not sure he’s for it. Only that he’s against UBI…presumably any version of UBI (such the various amounts being discussed).

          But a quote about the same problems we’re confronted with in increasing the minimum wage and creating a basic income.

          From the article:

          “Increasing the minimum wage or creating a basic income will amount to naught if hedge funds buy up foreclosed houses and pharmaceutical patents and raise prices (in some cases astronomically) to line their own pockets out of the increased effective demand exercised by the population,” David Harvey writes in “Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason.”

          Still, we fight to increase the minimum wage.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Thanks JEHR. Not knowing where that would lead to, I look it up in Wikipedia. But thanks for mentioning that.

            2. The Rev Kev

              Thanks for that link. I read a similar story once but lost it and have tried to find more info on it since. Took a look at the Wikipedia entry and you know what the most interesting thing was? That it said ” No final Mincome report was issued”. How strange. An experiment that went for five years and cost $54 million it today’s money but when it was over, they declined to issue a final report. In fact, all they did was to offer up the raw data and then backed off it like it was radioactive. Very strange.

          1. jrs

            yes the whole of a min wage increase could go to inflation *especially* in rents, the rent is too damn high. But then it might not, and greater income usually does increase options even if rents also increase. Noone is really proposing a minimum wage linked to prevailing rents.

        2. John k

          Massive infra, say block grants to regions with least growth, would be more popular, produce more lasting benefits, while hiring large numbers of unemployed. We’re building half the houses now vs 2007, easy to put a lot of people into blue collar construction.
          Most 100 year old sewer and water lines are failing, invisible until they rupture. Overhead Power, cable and phone lines should be buried. The list of need is enormous… no need to sand out checks to all.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Send out checks.

            I see a which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg here.

            Do sick and dying people get some basic income first to get healthy and eat healthy so they can work, or do they get work first, so they can afford to get healthy and eat healthy?

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And the paragraph before that quote:

          The oligarchs do not propose structural change. They do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They do not support labor unions. They will not pay a living wage to their bonded labor in the developing world or the American workers in their warehouses and shipping centers or driving their delivery vehicles. They have no intention of establishing free college education, universal government health or adequate pensions. They seek, rather, a mechanism to continue to exploit desperate workers earning subsistence wages and whom they can hire and fire at will. The hellish factories and sweatshops in China and the developing world where workers earn less than a dollar an hour will continue to churn out the oligarchs’ products and swell their obscene wealth. America will continue to be transformed into a deindustrialized wasteland. The architects of our neofeudalism call on the government to pay a guaranteed basic income so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species.

          These, along with UBI, do nothing for ‘structural change:’

          Free college education
          Universal government health
          Adequate pensions.
          (all listed above, along, again, with UBI)

          But rather we can see that ‘America will continue to be transformed into a deindustrialized wasteland.’

          For example, even with adequate pensions, ‘they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of longnose lancetfish, which devour others in their own species.’

          1. jrs

            sometimes I wonder if they actually have free college anywhere, when I read that people take out loans even in social democracies to pay some of the living costs while in college (not as much for tuition but ..). So how is that REALLY free college if you STILL have debt when you finish?

            The problem is we are supposed to go to college as adults (unlike K-12), but college if gone to full time requires a full time time commitment, but as adults we are also supposed to be supporting our basic living expenses, but this requires a full time time commitment to earning a living or else we borrow money to live … it doesn’t work out very well any way you slice it. So UBI while one goes to college for 4 years? That would be REAL free college, right? Otherwise it’s merely free tuition and still graduating indebted.

      2. Kevin

        Spring – damn right it will be spun as “welfare” – it’ difficult to change attitudes with programs.

        1. Procopius

          It is absolutely essential that there be no means testing included. Roosevelt understood this basic truth — as well as the truth that people want to work, they don’t just want free money! Maybe some combination, UBI plus jobs guarantee for anybody who wants to work.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why would a jobs guarantee be any less likely to be used to REPLACE those programs?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In Harvey’s book “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” he defines neoliberalism as “a project to achieve the restoration of class power” in the wake of the economic crisis of the 1970s and what the political scientist Samuel Huntington said was America’s “excess of democracy” in the 1960s and the 1970s. It achieved its aim.

      Neoliberalism, Harvey wrote, is “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.”

      American oligarchs discredited the populist movements of the 1960s and 1970s that had played a vital role in forcing government to carry out programs for the common good and restricting corporate pillage. They demonized government, which as John Ralston Saul writes, “is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good.” Suddenly—as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two of the principal political proponents of neoliberalism, insisted—government was the problem. The neoliberal propaganda campaign successfully indoctrinated large segments of the population to call for their own enslavement.

      The ideology of neoliberalism never made sense. It was a con. No society can effectively govern itself by basing its decisions and policies on the dictates of the marketplace. The marketplace became God. Everything and everyone was sacrificed on its altar in the name of progress. Social inequality soared. Amid the destruction, the proponents of neoliberalism preached the arrival of a new Eden once we got through the pain and disruption. The ideology of neoliberalism was utopian, if we use the word “utopia” as Thomas More intended—the Greek words for “no” and “place.” “To live within ideology, with utopian expectations, is to live in no place, to live in limbo,” Saul writes in “The Unconscious Civilization.” “To live nowhere. To live in a void where the illusion of reality is usually created by highly sophisticated rational constructs.”

      Its aim was not achieved with the government being captured. In that way, Reagan was right, though he didn’t realize it in that way.

      Those billionaires are not neoliberalism’s finest, judging by the definition given above by Harvey – their closeness to the surveillance state alone proves otherwise the claims of entrepreneurial freedoms and free markets. Who funded them from the beginning and who dictates to them now?

      And maybe there is a middle ground here – neither the government be too big, nor too small. Or another different idea, that the size is not the issue, but ownership of the government.

      As for the marketplace becoming God, that presupposes the belief in an entity called God. Perhaps there are other ways to examine the problems…in order to reach more readers. There may be people who are not into reversing this usurpation in order to return to his idea of God.

      1. ebbflows

        Samuelson’s reconciliation of the micro-economic ideal type with involuntary unemployment was repudiated, along with Keynesian prescriptions, in favor of a view that there could be no involuntary unemployment , hence that government action was unnecessary. The result was a doctrinaire derivation of the laissez-faire conclusions that had been overturned by the formalist revolution; economics was now cleansed of Keynesian impurities that had been introduced in the interest of realism.

        Peter Boettke

        H/T – LPS

    4. Lambert Strether

      > Hedges rejects ameliorative policies because he wants to see widespread revolt aimed at throwing out our neoliberal, warmongering elites. My concern is that we really have nothing ready to replace it, and providing a few more resources to those of us trying to build some kind of alternative would be helpful.

      I’m only reluctantly a “worse is better” guy, and I’m not really a “much worse is better guy.”

  4. The Rev Kev

    “A Last Look at The West That Was”

    Do people here remember Jeff Daniels “The Newsroom” speech (, especially the following part? And this does not only apply to America.

    “It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore”.

    1. Kevin

      Good read.
      It was during the first Gulf War, when pictures of the returning dead were banned from being shown and ANYTHING resembling an anti-American sentiment was deemed traitorous…THAT’s when I felt things start to turn in this country. It took on that “Don’t look behind the curtain” feel as in the Wizard of Oz.

      1. sleepy

        While it’s always difficult to mark “turning points”, I would agree with you on the Iraq war with the resulting domestic political impact (and obviously foreign impact).

        I would also add that the administration’s reaction to Katrina which was televised worldwide also confirmed that the US was broken in ways that would have been unheard of two decades earlier. Same thing is now going on in Puerto Rico, but that’s the new normal so not quite the awe and shock as Katrina.

        I fear that in the next few years we will deal with even newer and as yet unimagined shocks

      2. Bill Smith

        The ban on the release of photos of coffins of US Military’s returning dead was lifted on 2009.

      3. Wukchumni

        I was in a friend’s store post war about 1993, and a vet came in wanting to sell a garish looking gold plated medal the government of Kuwait had given to all G.I. Joes as a token of their appreciation, and worth about a buck, buck fifty in resale value, as in bupkis.

        My friend told him thanks for offering it, but no thanks.

        The vet then asked if photos might have some value, and my friend said maybe, and off to his car he went, and came back with about 100 he’d taken on the Highway of Death, and some are still etched in my mind of the multitude of skeletons sitting behind the wheels of various burned to a crisp vehicles, the occupants flesh and entrails melted off, hands on the steering wheel sometimes.

        Some things simply can’t be forgotten once glimpsed.

    2. Mike Mc

      I am just a few years younger than John Moon and remember that America.

      I also remember how that America treated blacks, Hispanics (citizens or otherwise), gays, women, the environment – while we Boy Scouts were policing our campgrounds, our Scout leaders and dads were filling our cars with leaded gas and painting everything with leaded paint. My babysitter’s husband was a John Bircher and tried to educate me about the Reds whenever he could.

      My neighborhood’s dads were mostly WWII combat vets, whose cigarettes and alcohol sent many to an early grave. PTSD make them prone to drinking too much, then beating their wives and kids every so often. What they often had to say about blacks, Hispanics (citizens or otherwise), gays and women – and what they taught us kids – isn’t fit to repeat here.

      For Sorkin to say “we cared about our neighbors” is just bunk. The Vietnamese? The various countries in the Caribbean and Latin America we invaded or sponsored coups in regularly?

      Lose the rose-colored MAGA glasses and wake TF up. If your memory doesn’t include any of the above, either your bubble was really thick or really special. Sentiments like these gave us Trump and keeps Putin in power. Snap out of it!

      1. Kevin

        Mike MC

        We have different takes.

        Back in my day, (I’m 54), people may have thought racist, prejudiced things – but it never left the frontal cortex and made it past the tongue. THAT is the difference between then and now. (Think of the impact of Archie Bunker back then – today he is a mere piker in terms of racial attitudes)

        Today, it is encouraged, hell, it’s a badge of honor to speak whatever hate you may feel.
        I worked for 3 years in Mexico and was treated like family down there – to see the way we treat Mexicans – it is disgusting to me. My heritage is Italian, thank God people don’t judge me based upon the characters on the “Jersey Shore” or the Godfather.

        People need to put their big-boy pants on and stop whining like spoiled little brats. We need to realize we have the LUXURY of whining – people trying to find their next meal or home don’t have the luxury or the time to whine.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I remember the days John Moon recalled and I too remember the things you recall along with the things John Moon recalls. But I think there has been a definite shift in their balance in our present world. I can’t think of anything in today’s world to match the things John Moon recalls. All the things you recall I see today multiplied and grown and like infected sores bathed in filth and threaten gangrene in the body politic.

      3. Rojo

        I’m not sure why the kudos for that piece. It mostly degenerated into a “kids today” right-wing rant.

        1. Otis B Driftwood

          Agree. That was my conclusion, too. Should have been titled “Get Off my Lawn!”

      4. Fiery Hunt

        So America is still racist and homophobic and misogynistic, eh? Why’d we elect Clinton and Obama for a total of 16 years? And if those saintly administrations really were for the betterment of our society, why can I not think of a single federal policy achievement of either of those administrations that has made my life better?

        The neoliberal “identity politics” sledgehammer has not worked these last 40 years. Strides have been made in some areas but those gains are from the grassroots up (from those same racist, homophobic, misogynistic everyday Americans)…. from Democratic policies, not so much. Look at wages, unions, pensions, housing costs, insurance costs, upwards mobility, poverty and employment levels for minorities, incarceration rates, income inequality, education accessibility, science and math education levels compared to the rest of the 1st world… on and on. My generation (Gen X) is the 1st generation in US history to be worse off than our parents.

        We really used to want better for our kids and our neighbors kids..
        Now it’s all “I got mine.”

    3. schultzzz

      “Back in my day, we let developmentally disabled children get their feet frozen off! Built character! Frozen retard feet got us to the moon and back! Let’s see the kids of today try that with their tide pod challenges and marches against gun violence and whatnot! You cowardly teens all complaining about getting killed in school! Not like my heroic generation, who protested against getting killed in Vietnam! Because we read Sophocles and Anschluss! Of course back in those days, an onion cost a quarter, which we called a ‘square-penny’. Why, after we got done reading Anschluss and Sopochles and dosing ourselves to the gills with liquid LSD we’d take our square-pennies down to the old fishin’ hole and, hey kids! Kids!!! Come back here! Ungrateful teens!!!”

      1. Wukchumni

        Boy the way the Beatles played
        Songs that made the Hit Parade.
        Guys like us we had it made,
        Those were the days.

        And you knew what backed the dollar then,
        All that glitters was the standard for exchange of them,
        Mister we could use a man
        Like William McChesney Martin again.

        Didn’t need no deep state,
        Everybody was of average weight.
        Gee our old Mustang ran great.
        Those were the days.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Then there’s this one:

          “Kids These Days”


          Times aren’t now,
          Buddy, like they used to be.
          I’d have more fun,
          But the women are so hard to please.
          Let it burn.

          Tom Rush

    4. Lambert Strether

      > We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reasons.

      The Civil War was arguably moral; I believe it was. The Philippines War, not so much. Striking down Jim Crow was moral; passing it was not. And so forth.

      > America is not the greatest country in the world anymore

      It was an interesting historical moment when the “USA! USA!” chant began*. Because if you’ve got to say it…

      * In the mid-70s, at the start of the neoliberal era. In their hearts, people already knew…

    1. Jef

      Zag – They might be yuan-denominated crude oil futures contracts but they are still priced in dollars. The game is, and imho always will be, who’s currency is the most stable wrt oil and as long as the US has a military it will be the dollar.

        1. Bill Smith

          Not a lot of open interest or volume there. However what’s with that turnover number on the most recent contract? It’s huge. What does it mean?

      1. John k

        Reserve currency is selected by foreign savers. Their interest in saving dollars drives the dollar up, thereby allowing us to buy stuff at lower cost than making it ourselves. Has nothing to do with our military… lots of countries have nukes, most don’t want to save in the other currencies.
        Trumps tariffs, or China’s, won’t affect the overall deficit so long as foreign savers remain addicted to dollars.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          It’s not a matter of “foreign savers”. It’s a matter of mercantilist trade policies.

          Any country that runs sustained trade surpluses with another country winds up taking their financial assets. China has huge dollar FX reserves, for instance.

          1. John k

            At some level, notwithstanding their desire to keep their citizens employed (not a concern here), the mercantilist nation must determine that the financial assets are worth saving. China could sell their merchandise surplus to Russia, or Afghanistan, if they are willing to hold those currencies. Or they could meet the shortages of their friends in Venezuela if they were willing to save Bolivars.
            Brits have a trade deficit because Germany et al are willing to save pounds.
            Beyond that, those nations that use our dollars as their currency must send us stuff to get them. Residents of many others don’t trust their own currencies.
            It doesn’t seem to me that China can win a tariff (or trade) war, if they target Boeing we can simply slap a 20% duty on all Chinese imports, let them go to WTO, takes years. But can we solve the massive trade deficit with a one country tariff, even against China? The dollar would climb with any reduction, making some want green paper even more. The world wants more trusted financial assets than are available.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Please look at Germany and Greece.

              Germany has not stopped being a net exporter to Greece and whinging all the time about its ability to pay. Even though they are using the same currency, Greece is in the position of being a net debtor.

              China is not willing to stop being a mercantilist. They can’t make other countries become net importers. Most countries as a matter of policy understand that being a net importer means exporting jobs, and they prioritize employment. The notable exceptions are the US, the UK, and Australia.

              Russia is pretty close to an autarky. Germany will not become a net importer evah and the EU as a whole is pretty close to a trade balance. The US is the only economy capable of absorbing anything close to what the Chinese want to export. And we are wiling to run trade deficits.

              1. Edward E

                Luke Gromen has been commenting on these subjects quite a lot and sounds just like you. Yves, do you have concerns of USD balance of payment problems in the future like he does? If you have time. He talks about it not far down in his Twitter feed and has been for at least five months. I’m not even going to pretend I’m qualified to say anything, but it’s not something easy to ignore.

              2. John k

                The eu is a pretty strange construct, held together only by the central bank. German exports to Greece would stop if Greek currency was continually devaluing, and it would have to devalue because nobody would want drachmas in their mattress. Greece imports would be limited to the value of their exports plus tourism.
                We can have full employment with a trade deficit, just have to choose that outcome. So could the Chinese.

      2. subgenius

        As long as the US military maintains its myth of effectiveness. Which may be getting difficult due to a total lack of successful conclusion of an action in what? 70years?

  5. Quentin

    Julian Assange is a political prisoner, though no one seems to say so, who is now being held in solitary confinement for all intents and purposes. What has he done wrong? He was said to have raped two women in Sweden one day without ever being charged for the supposed crime, a case which hasn’t been pursued in Sweden for some five years now. Now he’s guilty of jumping bail, according to British ‘justice’, and will be arrested and tried if he leaves the embassy. The way things stand Theresa May will probably order the arrest of his corpse as it’s being removed from the Ecuadoran embassy proclaiming that, no matter how you look at it, the only acceptable conclusion is that Vladimir Putin and his Evil Russia are responsible. The persecution of Julian Assange is certainly a fitting saga for our age: the political weaponisation of rape. After reading the reflection in The Saker I can only say to the Boss, ‘You win, I give up.’

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Quentin.

      I felt the same after reading the Saker – and similar.

      Over the week-end, I caught up with my father and godfather, both former Royal Air Force doctors and veterans of Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Gulf War I. They can’t believe how poisonous international relations have become, especially with regard to Russia, and how deluded the chicken hawks are. Much contempt was expressed of the UK’s defence secretary and current and former chiefs of staff. Neither the pair nor their former comrades believe the official line about the false flag in Salisbury.

      My father and godfather joined the RAF in 1966 and began their careers along servicemen who had served in WW2. The pair can’t believe how, like the UK’s political, media and business elite from the advent of Thatcherism, the armed forces have become so delusional, often incompetent and often corrupt.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its sad if even the armed forces are completely poisoned – usually you can rely on at least a minority of officers to have a more clear eyed view of the world, as they are the ones who have to put their lives on the line. Over the years, some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had on world affairs have been with ex-servicemen from the UK or USA, the mid-ranks are a far more thoughtful bunch than are usually given credit (of course, the ones who rise to the top are usually just yes-men).

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you and well said, PK.

          Your point about yes men rising to the top is particularly accurate. It has not gone unnoticed that the chests of the former and current chiefs of staff are a bit light with regard to medals. The pair spent much of their careers bootlicking in Whitehall.

          1. Sid Finster

            Trust me, they will get straight to awarding themselves plenty of medals, brass macaroni enough to satisfy the most tinhorn banana republic dictator.

      2. Ignacio

        Yep, I think Yves linked this Politico Piece “As it frets over China, Europe is forgetting the real threat: Russia” just to show us how rude is getting the campaign. The author of the opinion piece is a “researcher at de Center for New America Security”. The piece is disturbing, filled with pre-belic language showing a confrontational vision of the world. (not a “military” vision of the world). Thank you for making me recall that the military is made of woman and man that musn’t share this confrontational view.

    2. perpetualWAR

      The false headline: “We call on the government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech.” I am certain that Ecuador’s government is being targeted by OUR government to act against Assange.

      If our government continues with this pattern of retaliation regarding the release of classified info by Assange, hackers should release much much more information. Where are Assange’s helpers who are not in the embassy?

      1. integer

        Maybe WIkileaks will release the encryption key to the “insurance” file.

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

        One of the files identified this weekend by The (London) Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.

        Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Oh, right. I forgot that Assange has this security cache. I hope this cache brings down all governments who have [family blogged] with him!

  6. integer

    Corbyn attends left-wing Jewish group’s Passover event… and is attacked regardless RT. Wrong kind of Jews, apparently. Corbyn is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

    ‘Unpatriotic’ for UK firms to attend Russian economic forum, claims US-born fraudster Browder RT. Browder looted $billions from Russia in the Yeltsin era, is singlehandedly responsible for the Magnitsky Act, and is “highly likely” to be involved with the Skripal poisoning in some capacity IMO.

    ‘UK investigators set to hide the truth, not find it’ – Litvinenko’s father on Skripal case RT. Litvinenko’s death was referred to as the first ever act of “nuclear terrorism”. Paul Barril claims “academic nuclear expert” Mario Scarramella was responsible for poisoning Litvinenko, and that he was acting under the auspices of MI6 and the CIA.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Integer.

      The attacks on Corbyn are coordinated and involve a foreign state, but there’s no mention of that state’s interference in the sovereign affairs of another country.

      It’s not just the Union Flag and Stars and Stripes that are used as door mats by the Zionist regime. Over the week-end, a story emerged in the Belgian media that suggested similar. Macron is also doing his damnedest to disgrace the tricolour.

      1. Bill Smith

        Why is anyone surprised that that lab can’t tell where the stuff came from? Did people expect that it had a “Made in Russia” tag?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          It depends on the substance, but many complex organic compounds, including nerve agents like Sarin and ricin, have unique chemical fingerprints which allow researchers to identify at least if two different samples came from the same manufacturing batch. Since OECW researchers had access to the Uzbekistan lab, its not unrealistic to think they could at least identify if they came from known Russian made batches (or, for that matter, other known sources such as the probable Porton Down batches) or the derivatives that the Iranians manufactured and declared to the OECW.

          1. Bill Smith


            Do you have a link to anything on the OECW researchers and the Uzbekistan lab?

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Sorry, I mistyped, I meant to say OPCW.

              I don’t know the details of their access – it was mostly via US researchers, I think the understanding was that the US researchers passed on all the details to the OPCW under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

              1. Bill Smith


                That place is mentioned in “The Dead Hand”.

                From the book It was unclear if they did pass information to OPCW as part of the deal was that the sites would be cleaned up but no public attention would be bought on the issue.

        2. begob

          I don’t think anyone’s surprised. The point I took from the statement was they saw fit to react to a baseless Russian suggestion, and to react at the Porton Down level rather than through government.

          What’s interesting too is that they haven’t revealed the identity of the nerve agent. The term novichok is a smoke screen.

      2. integer

        Thanks for that, I rarely bother with the Guardian, so would have missed it otherwise. Aitkenhead’s assertion that the novichok couldn’t possibly have come from Porton Down brings to mind the old quote: “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied” – and make no mistake, the Skripal case is about politics. Anyway, no mention of where the novichok sample was taken from, when it was taken, or its chain of custody.

      3. Oregoncharles

        From the article, the head of the Porton Downs lab: ““There’s no way that anything like that would ever have come from us or leave the four walls of our facilities.””

        IOW, they HAVE made the stuff. This is what the US bioweapons lab said about the anthrax, too, but it came from their lab. There is no such thing as perfect containment.

        This is assuming it wasn’t really something else altogether; could be Aitkenhead is willing to lie about the substance, but not to the point of provoking WWIII.

        Very odd that both victims survived such a potent poison, and Yulia is recovering.

    2. Ignacio

      IMO these articles greatly explain why the russiascare is being agitated. For electoral reasons clearly triying to move the patriotic side of Britons in case of pre-brexit referendum against the Labor.

  7. jefemt

    Rainmaking in China (Geoengineering). Good thing their weather impacts and effects will firmly stay put in China, and have no impact on the weather in the rest of the world. What ever could possibly go wrong?

    I wonder how long it will take insurors to lodge a formal notice of non-responsibility for weather-related disasters. No longer an act of God (Act of God pointed out to me to be a silly argument by my atheist son…)

  8. DorothyT

    Re: Large crack in East African Rift is evidence of continent splitting in two PBS

    I just read last week about the nearly forgotten cartographer, Marie Tharp (perhaps that link was found on NC). Digging into the story about the East African Rift caused me to read about rift valleys, the most prominent of which is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, only recognized in the 1950s. Here’s some info about Tharp and her research that I shared with friends last week:

    There has been an occasional film made recently about women in science who went unrecognized, or nearly so. Here’s an incredible story about one about whom a film should be made: Marie Tharp, a cartographer (mostly at Columbia Univ.) who discovered the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Her treatment by her fellow scientists is shameful including one at Columbia who initially published her findings in his book. Tharp died in 2006 so this isn’t ancient news.

    This is a 9 minute piece produced by BBC radio that I heard last week. Be sure and hear the 9 min. segment titled “Mapping the Ocean’s Secrets.”

    “The publication of a map of the floor of the Atlantic ocean in 1957 by an American female cartographer helped to change forever the way we view our world. Marie Tharp’s discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was eventually taken as evidence of the theory of plate tectonics. Yet her work was initially dismissed as ‘girls’ talk’…”

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Stocks Tumble on Tech Selloff Wall Street Journal

    Manhattan apartment sales plunge Financial Times

    I can see why 401(k) and other retirement portfolio owners would prefer the first headline to, say, ‘Stocks race to less bubble-like levels.”

    But not owning any real estate in New York, I wonder why the second can’t be ‘Manhattan apartments soon to be more affordable, possibly?’

    Who do they assume read their articles?

    1. JohnnyGL

      To answer your question, they write for those in the banking industry, not their customers.

      Fewer Manhattan apt sales mean less money for realtors, mortgage brokers, issuing banks, securitizers who sell to fannie/freddie, appraisers, and builders/developers and their contractors who might be eyeing a new project.

      To your point, potential buyers will see opportunities. Realtors will tell them as much.

      But to existing owners, they’d rather not see those sort of price-cuts encouraged, otherwise it means lots of existing assets get revalued at lower levels. Same is true of stocks. Selling at 30x earnings vs 29x would draw too much attention to inconvenient truths.

      There’s a lot of industry players built around the real estate market (and the equity market). They’re the target audience for advertisers who buy space in those newspapers. They love asset bubbles.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Here in Washington State, after much homeowner involvement regarding anti-foreclosure work, the lobbyist for the Mortgage Banker Association was hired by the Washington Realtors this year. This, after the Realtors’ concerted effort to eliminate from their Oath their responsibility to do no harm to homeowners. Coincidence? There are no coincidences.

  10. Alex

    Re A Last Look at The West That Was

    I know how today’s high school age Russians feel – the same as we felt nearly 60 years ago.

    You can’t imagine how funny it is to read this for someone who actually knows a few Russian high school/university students and remembers something from their own experience. Students who are good at math and physics generally go on to work in finance or silicon-valley-type companies or startups.
    The traditional engineering jobs and academic career neither pay well nor are considered prestigious. Those who actually want to be scientists either persevere in spite of everything in Russia or emigrate to the US or other places.
    The description of life in the US 60 years ago is very vivid so I think whoever wrote this should stick to writing about things he knows

    1. integer

      Just for the sake of clarity, when did you attend high school in Russia? Within the last decade? Also, out of curiosity, are the students that you know ethnic Russians, or members of the Jewish diaspora?

      1. Alex

        Early Putin years. Regular school followed by one of the best universities, so probably 95% ethnic Russians

        But the ethnicity doesn’t really matter here, only somewhat for the preferred destination of emigration for those who choose that path

        1. Sid Finster

          I know plenty of young and youngish Russians as well. Big difference between “early Putin years” and now.

          Moreover, top Russian high schools and universities are full of non-ethnic Russians. That was true then and now.

          1. Alex

            I said that I studied then but as you can imagine I know quite a few of those who studied after me.

            But it may be that your impressions are different than mine, would be interesting to hear them

  11. funemployed

    Minor but important quibble with “A Last Look at the West.” Western Civilization did not “sleep fitfully” after 500 AD, the center of gravity just moved south and east into the Arabic and Persian and Hindu parts of the world.

    It amazes me how often people seem to view the people’s of the Middle East (you know, that place where Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed were all born) as somehow peripheral to Western Civilization, and are entirely ignorant of how vital Persian, Hindu, and Arabic scholars, artists, architects, political leaders, etc. have been to basically every aspect of Western Civ.

    I mean, for family blog’s sake, they invented our family blogging numbers when Western Civ. was apparently “sleeping fitfully.”

    1. Alex

      Yeah, but those other places had their own periods of time, which is exactly the point he makes concerning the western civ

    2. Olga

      I agree that – while there are some good points here – the statement (below) on the demise about the West Rome and consequences is a bit goofy. I recently suffered through a speech of G. Friedman on how to “hurt” Russia, and he had a similarly funny statement about the west having invented “humanity.” OMG… (not much to add here) – it’s like the rest of the world: ME, Africa, Asia, S. America just do not exist. Plus, remember that the “blemishes” mentioned in the last sentence include colonisation, economic exploitation, unspeakable cruelty, genocide, and slavery. Oh well, anything for profit…
      Here is part from the article:
      “The collapse of the Western Roman Empire would have seemed like the end of the world for those living in Rome in 500 AD. But Civilization did not die; it slept fitfully throughout Western Europe, before finally awakening abruptly and unexpectedly with the Renaissance. Suddenly art, music, literature, architecture, and science all began to flourish together, a heartening example of regression toward the mean. All that latent talent and insight, sequestered in the population for nine centuries was now being released. And it has continued to flourish, with blemishes, for six centuries.”

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I am not bothered that the link failed to sufficiently outline the flow of world history and attribute diversity to all.

      I do have a small quibble with the idea that civilization ‘slept’. I believe the knowledge and wisdom one generation passes to the next is a considerable part of a civilization. If all the surviving written knowledge and literature of Rome and Ancient Greece were collected, printed, and stored in a library I think it might fill one wall of the small local library which serves the small town where I live. What was lost? What was deliberately hunted down and burned to assure the ascendence of a new civilization based on theological dogmas? I have trouble thinking of the result as ‘sleep’.

      I believe our present civilization shows signs of decay. I believe our books, and add now our electronic and film media, convey a substantial portion of our civilization into its future. What will remain of the books and electronic media we have created?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        An interesting point I read recently. 5th century BC Greece is considered the high point of that culture and is still often looked upon in the west as the basis of western civilization, but if you combined all of the remaining writing from 5th century BC Greece it would be still be less than what remains from Plutarch alone who wrote in the 1st century AD.

        So yeah, there’s quite a bit missing.

        If our period suffers a similar fate, I hope that 2500 years from now people will at least have Kurt Vonnegut to read.

      2. JBird

        >>>>>I do have a small quibble with the idea that civilization ‘slept’. I believe the knowledge and wisdom one generation passes to the next is a considerable part of a civilization. If all the surviving written knowledge and literature of Rome and Ancient Greece were collected, printed, and stored in a library I think it might fill one wall of the small local library which serves the small town where I live. What was lost? What was deliberately hunted down and burned to assure the ascendence of a new civilization based on theological dogmas? I have trouble thinking of the result as ‘sleep’.<<<<<

        We lost almost everything. All the major classical cities had major libraries especially Romes. Booksellers were not rare. There was an industry of “printing” books by roomful of copyists listening to one person reading aloud. I still hope that they completely excavate the Villa of the Papyri, and find ways to read, assemble, and translate the both the discovered library and the second one that probably still exists further under ground albeit in fossilized form.

        So there were plenty of writers, writings, books, and libraries at all the major cities of Greco-Roman civilization, heck the contemporary Persians has their own, but between the wars, the habitual mass destruction (see the library of Louvain for a relatively recent example), the deliberate eraser of unacceptable works, and both the collapse of mass production of papyri, vellum, and whatever else they used in place of paper, and that they all have a limited existence, especially papyrus unlike stone or clay. They have to be recopied or lost. That’s why we have the royal library at the Hittite Empire’s capital of Hittasu from the Collapse of the Bronze Age, the Neo-Assyrian Empire’s royal library at Nineneh from 500 years later, and random notes, letters, and whatnot from their preceding Sumerian civilization, but almost nothing from our own immediate ancestral classical civilization.

      3. JBird

        do have a small quibble with the idea that civilization ‘slept’. I believe the knowledge and wisdom one generation passes to the next is a considerable part of a civilization. If all the surviving written knowledge and literature of Rome and Ancient Greece were collected, printed, and stored in a library I think it might fill one wall of the small local library which serves the small town where I live. What was lost? What was deliberately hunted down and burned to assure the ascendence of a new civilization based on theological dogmas? I have trouble thinking of the result as ‘sleep’.

        We lost almost everything. All the major classical cities had major libraries especially Romes. Booksellers were not rare. There was an industry of “printing” books by roomful of copyists listening to one person reading aloud. I still hope that they completely excavate the Villa of the Papyri, and find ways to read, assemble, and translate the both the discovered library and the second one that probably still exists further under ground albeit in fossilized form.

        So there were plenty of writers, writings, books, and libraries at all the major cities of Greco-Roman civilization, heck the contemporary Persians has their own, but between the wars, the habitual mass destruction (see the library of Louvain for a relatively recent example), the deliberate eraser of unacceptable works, and both the collapse of mass production of papyri, vellum, and whatever else they used in place of paper, and that they all have a limited existence, especially papyrus unlike stone or clay. They have to be recopied or lost. That’s why we have the royal library at the Hittite Empire’s capital of Hittasu from the Collapse of the Bronze Age, the Neo-Assyrian Empire’s royal library at Nineneh from 500 years later, and random notes, letters, and whatnot from their preceding Sumerian civilization, but almost nothing from our own immediate ancestral classical civilization.

    4. Synoia

      Nonsense. The fall of Rome is overstated. The center of the world had moved to Constantinople, not North Africa.

      The meditarrenian continued to be the Center of the western world.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Agreed. By the time of the fall, Rome had become just a backwater for over a century or more. It’s fall was more symbolic than anything else – unless you happened to live in Rome that is.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But if you were a historian for the Vatican, you would see it that way…Rome was still the center of the world, despite the schism with the other church in the east.

          Wonder if that schism has anything to do with confronting Russia today.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Constantine moved the Roman capital from Rome to Byzantium in 330 AD.

      After the sack of Troy, Aeneas escaped to Carthage and then Latinum. He and his group were said to be the legendary progenitors of the Romans.

      Karmically, the Romans then conquered the Greeks hundreds of years later. And Troy was ‘revived,’ one might think of it that way.

      If Constantinople was the new center of the Roman world after 330AD, the knowledge, literature, etc of the ancient world (that part of the ancient world, not necessarily, say, China, though information about centuries-old Roman attempts to contact and trade with China and Vietnam, for example, might have been kept as well) must have been preserved there, at least until it was lost to Mehmed in 1453, when the Second Rome passed the torch to the Third Rome, which was Moscow.

    6. Oregoncharles

      I gather (meaning I don’t have a link) that the “Dark Ages” were a period of considerable technical creativity in Europe – windmills are the example I remember, but there were others. All of that, despite the political instability. They are “Dark” because literacy was very restricted, mostly to the clergy, and so written records are scarce. In fact, that’s the period during which the clergy systematically, and probably deliberately, erased most of the written material from the Classical period. To Be Fair, that was partly because parchment, the prevailing writing surface, was valuable and much reused. Of course, that, in turn, is one reason few records survived. The Viking raids, often on monasteries, didn’t help.

      Among those that did: the Book of Kells and other phenomenally beautiful illuminated manuscripts.

      1. blennylips

        I gather (meaning I don’t have a link) that the “Dark Ages” were a period of considerable technical creativity in Europe

        For a lovely exposition of this thesis, you might want to read:

        The Abacus And The Cross
        The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages
        by Nancy Marie Brown

        Journalist and science writer Brown returns to the period of her previous book (The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, 2007, etc.) to concentrate on Gerbert of Aurillac (946–1003), an educator who became an archbishop, counselor to kings and emperors and finally Pope Sylvester II in 999. Although Gerbert was only a modestly important figure, the author interweaves her biography with a rich portrait of a society in which the usual litany of medieval ignorance and superstition are not much in evidence. Educated in a Church school, Gerbert learned not only the Bible but rhetoric, ancient classics, astronomy, mathematics and music. He traveled widely, visiting Spain, then largely ruled by Muslims, where he admired their learning and probably introduced both Arabic numbers and the abacus into Europe.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Mark Zuckerberg: “We will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years.”

    I was going to email Zuck and say that the general idea was that when you have dug your self into a hole, that you should stop digging. When I thought about who I was sending this too, I sent the following email instead:
    ‘We believe in you Mark! Keep digging and success will be yours no matter how long it takes. Just keep on digging!

    1. polecat

      Yeah, but he’s already hit paid dirt-y over the course of a decade, hitting a BIG Vain as it were .. with nowhere to go but down … to the seventh circle of Hades !

      1. polecat

        … and when Zuck arrives, betcha the Dark Angel will greet him in embrace, saying in one ear .. and out the other : “Have I got the car of your dreams, Mark …I believe in the upperworld, they call it a .. Tesla ..”
        “Hope you enjoy the ride !”

    2. Harold

      Writing, astronomy, architecture, mathematics, legal systems, and religion all were developed in Bronze age Egypt, Babylonia, and Persia. I am currently reading Cosmos, Cosmos, and The World to Come by Norman Cohn, which brings home to how great an extent so-called “Western” religions are constructed on Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Persian templates. The Greeks and Romans recognized that. In Ancient Rome there was a temple to the “Egyptian Minerva”, Isis, goddess of wisdom.

      1. norm de plume

        ‘Writing, astronomy, architecture, mathematics, legal systems’ and you could add philosophy and logic, poetry and literature, and so on – but the key to all of these lies in the one you mention (appropriately) first.

        Before writing, anything that was preserved came via spoken word. How much of the learning and culture of prehistory was lost? We will never know, because there is no record.

        Yes the 5th C BC Greeks were pretty amazing but were they really an outlying crop of huge brainiacs, or were they rather like the early global explorers who were merely your standard go-getters who made their names thanks to the fact that no-one else got there first and recorded it, and who left little for their successors to claim?

        For the Greeks, all the accumulated wisdom of their past (and as you note, everyone else’s they ever heard of) could at last be recorded and taught from texts, extrapolated, interrogated and built upon – not uttered and then either lost forever, or laboriously learned aloud by rote, then Chinese whispered to unrecognisability. They mined Egypt and Persian in particular for the insights the advent of writing had generated in those older cultures, and set them down for posterity.

        Certainly there was a flowering, but the unprecedented fact of a tool for permanence and a mode of transmission to other climes and times was the blood in the body of that apparent starburst of creativity and wisdom. Its notable that, given the history and ubiquity of the written word by the time they hit their stride, the ‘practical’ Romans did not match the giant strides of Greece.

  13. a different chris

    I guess the Saker thing is “important”, but the more I read the more I just got a grumpy old man “kids off the porch” vibe. I gave up when he proclamed the kids of Parkland, Florida don’t know what they are doing.

    Yeah he’s right about the loss of focus on the sciences. Anybody could have written that part.

    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Yes, it was pure grumpy old man rot, dressed up with good diction. I also stopped reading where he went whole hog with the dripping contempt for the Parkland teenagers.

      A 17 year old who can utterly own Ingraham (and her Fox support system) has my highest regard. It was a pleasure watching that skinny kid Hogg best the rightie-whitie beat down queen last week. I can’t wait to see a few more middle aged, over-remunerated professional scolds take similar hits in the near future.

      The almighty right wing noise machine…… brought low by teenagers with Instagram accounts. It could not happen to a more deserving bunch.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I guess I’m just a grumpy old man. The teen marches against guns impressed me as puppet theater. Regarding the issue of gun control I am less concerned about gun control than the widespread insanity the gun violence reflects.

        As for a 17 year-old besting Ingraham and the Fox system I am less impressed with the abilities of the 17 year-old than their lack in Ingraham and the Fox system.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Exactly. Those kids are being exploited by both the media and the political establishment because as long as everyone is cheering them on, nothing needs to be done. “This is the future!” they proclaim, which nobody seems to realized is effectively saying “Just wait another ten years or so for anything to change, and in the meantime we’ll do everything we can to discourage them and/or burn them out.”

          As far as I’m concerned, this is a form of child abuse, no matter how inspiring Daniel Hogg is. He shouldn’t have to be; he should be getting ready to graduate.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Anyone exploiting those kids is playing a very wild card. To mix metaphors, they’re going to get their behind bitten.

            Those kids are the best sign since Occupy, even if it was temporarily co-opted.

              1. Oregoncharles

                I think they’ll learn; that’s their job. Circumstances have saddled them with the most intractable issue in American politics. It’s the energy that impresses me.

                At least they now have Youtube on their side; there was just a shooting at their headquarters. The shooter, a woman after her boyfriend, is dead.

          2. kareninca

            Thank you, thank you for that. My father (retired psych prof) tells me that if you take someone who is in that developmental stage – who therefore thinks that the whole world is staring at him/her, and tell them that they must effect some terribly important change – it all depends on them, it is crucial – and then they don’t effect it (since they can’t) – you’re looking at many years to come of therapy, or at least the need for it. It will be very damaging for some of these kids.

            I have a friend who is my age (54) who grew up in a university town and was dragged to every sit-in, rally, march, petition-gathering, and so on that her parents could find. The upshot is that she thinks it was all an utter and complete waste of time and has no intentions of ever getting involved in politics again, other than voting for left-wing causes. And she has made her view clear to her two kids. And that is a mild example; not like possible consequences of the red hot social media stuff we have now.

            My parents were very much involved in local politics when I was growing up in my small hometown. They didn’t talk much about it. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. They saw it as a grown-up’s task. My brother and I had enough problems of our own to deal with, as nearly all teens do.

    2. Plenue

      Saker is a grumpy old archconservative bigot. He’s of extremely limited use (I first discovered him during the 2014 Ukraine crisis; he was good for battlefield updates. I’ve since moved on to less gross sources). I lost any infatuation with the subclass of Russian conservatives who write walls of text in dubious English at least a couple years back.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Elon Musk’s bankruptcy joke misses target, Tesla shares drop Australian Financial Review (Kevin W)

    There are some things one should avoid joking about.

    Never on the radio say, “The Martians Are Coming!!!”

    Certainly you don’t play the movie ‘The Russians Are Coming!” too loudly, even in the White House living quarters.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China, Philippines seek to share South China Sea Asia Times

    So, now it’s China and the Philippines vs. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Duterte keeps changing his mind, but he does seem to be edging towards the view that its better to be friends with China than the US. Of all those countries, the Philippines has the weakest Navy and Airforce so is not in any position to challenge China, even within their own waters, and they know they can’t rely on the US, its become far too fickle a power. They are trying hard to buy submarines (probably the best way to make an opposing Navy, no matter how powerful, worry, but it would take many years and several billion dollars to build up a force.

      Its worth pointing out of course that that when it comes to a fight, the Vietnamese are rarely the first to start shooting, but they usually end up winners. They are also buying submarines, they already have a good force of Russian kilo class subs.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Trade warrior plays market prognosticator:

    Asked about the sharp decline in stocks on Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the drop “does not comport” with the strong economic outlook and Trump“s economic policies.

    “I’m looking at this market and the economy and I’m thinking the smart money is certainly going to buy on the dips here because the economy is as strong as an ox,” he said.

    Navarro voices an elementary misconception of those who haven’t bothered to study economic history: namely, that strong economic growth should produce rising stock prices.

    In fact, the correlation is the opposite. Every great secular rally, including the one which began in March 2009, started when economic growth was negative and the economy was in recession. Historically, weak economic growth has been favorable for stock prices because the Fed keeps monetary conditions easy and supportive when there’s spare capacity.

    By contrast, strong growth incites a Fed crackdown which inevitably goes too far and tips the economy into recession. That’s where we are now, after six rate hikes and more to come.

    Navarro is a solid fade — everything he believes is flat wrong.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Well, there they go again — that mysterious cabal of sellers, I mean, who regularly appear 15 minutes after an up opening to hit the bids of hopeful punters and erase early rallies.

      After closing a fraction above its Feb 8th “line in the sand” low of 2,581 yesterday, today the S&P has slid to 2,577 as Wall Street’s self-driving bots strain at their leashes, barking furiously.

      On Feb 9th the intraday low was 2,533 before stocks turned around and closed higher. Consider the range from 2,533 to 2,581 as the death zone. Each robot has its own sell trigger in this zone. But ultimately, the herd plunges off the cliff en masse.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Not a fan of automated trading? What are you, some sort of Luddite?

        Robots can replace brokers, too!

  17. apberusdisvet

    The post on the unrelenting and UNSTOPPABLE radiation spewing from Fukushima should be a wake-up call for all those who are unaware of the threat to all life forms on the planet or who are in denial about the consequences. It is estimated that, by 2050, life expectancy will become less than 50 years, as cancers will rage through the global population. In you inhale or ingest just one cesium particle, the likelihood of you getting a life threatening cancer is 50:50 within 10 years. There are billions of these particles in the Pacific and North American atmospheres. You should all look carefully at the maps on to see what the levels are for your location. Note that they are many times the levels deemed “safe”.

    BTW: crickets from the MSM or health officials, but the prognostication of (a CIA funded website) that the US will have a population of ONLY 50 million by 2025 is certainly unsettling.

    1. Jean


      “billions of these particles?” Make that trillions or more.

      Boycott all food imported from Japan and pacific caught seafood if you are serious.

      We are, and boy, do we miss our soba and chicken udon. While the chicken and some vegetables are local, the restaurant uses spices from Japan, seaweed from China and other pollution rich byproducts to produce a broth that is too risky. The nuclear apologists in our so called regulatory system allow this crap into our food supply while even the Japanese ban the same products.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Boycott Pacific caught seafood.

        From Wikipedia, Parting of the Waters:

        Topographic map showing Two Ocean Pass and the Continental Divide (green)[1]
        Parting of the Waters is an unusual hydrologic site at Two Ocean Pass on the Great Divide, within the Teton Wilderness area of Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. Two Ocean Pass separates the headwaters of Pacific Creek, which flows west to the Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Creek, which flows east to the Atlantic Ocean. At Parting of the Waters, at 44°02.571′N 110°10.524′WCoordinates: 44°02.571′N 110°10.524′W,[2] North Two Ocean Creek flows down from its drainage on the side of Two Ocean Plateau and divides its waters more-or-less equally between its two distributaries, Pacific Creek and Atlantic Creek. From this split, Two Ocean Creek waters flow either 3,488 miles (5,613 km) to the Atlantic Ocean via Atlantic Creek and the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, or 1,353 miles (2,177 km) to the Pacific Ocean via Pacific Creek and the Snake and Columbia Rivers. In the marshy area of Two Ocean Pass adjacent to Parting of the Waters, water actually covers the Continental Divide such that a fish could swim from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean drainages.

      2. Plenue

        Wow, trillions. Seems scary, until you realize there’s 187 quintillion gallons of water in the Pacific Ocean, and 109 quattuordecillion (45 zeroes) air molecules in the earths atmosphere.

        I wouldn’t trust anything fished within a hundred miles of Fukushima, and certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the people who moved back home near it. But the plant could be dumping out 10x the contamination it currently is and it still wouldn’t be a threat to anyone on the other side of 4,000 miles of ocean.

        People really need some freaking perspective. Radiation isn’t some mystical force that infects things. It’s a finite number of particles. 300 tons of radioactive water a day is being diluted into nothingness in the vastness of the Pacific.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “NPR Runs IDF Playbook, Spinning Killing of 17 Palestinians”

    According to an article called ‘Killing Palestinian protesters turns into a PR debacle for Israel’ at a lot of the usual suspects who would ordinarily be defending Israel have gone missing in action or are keeping a low profile.
    I mentioned last night that Israel had deployed 100 snipers and judging by the effect, I would say that they and their spotters had a hit list of people to shoot to kill. If this sounds unlikely because of its cold-bloodlessness, several years ago Isreali snipers designed a T-shirt for themselves called “One Shot, 2 Kills” and featured a cross-hair sight on a pregnant Palestinian woman (

    1. aliteralmind

      I am disappointed that FAIR did not push Daniel Estrin of NPR further. Estrin needs to explain how live radio has any influence on this “error.” Does he not do much preparation and script writing before hand? Does he just improvise the entire show? Is the source cited in his script or notes and he just missed it? It’s not in the show transcript. Assuming he and his employer are good faith actors, it is remarkable how everything in the story happens to be perfectly calculated to favor the powerful.‬

    2. Jef

      I lived in the Santa cruz mountains in the 90’s and was looking for a small caliber rifle for all the varmints that kept eating everything we tried to raise.

      I discovered that Ruger built a custom 10/22 rifle for the IDF with a suppressor (silenced) barrel in the early 80’s. They said it was to take care of noisy dogs which is what they called a Palestinian protestor. They have been shooting fish in a barrel for a very long time now.

  19. Bill Smith

    “Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel”

    I wonder what that means for people who run Windows on their Macs…

  20. JohnnyGL

    I’m dropping this short clip here because it shows how Trump understands politics fairly astutely on an instinctive level.

    I’d argue that he’s speaking directly to the Democratic Party base voters on this issue. They’ve been told by Dem party leaders that DACA is SUPER-IMPORTANT (more than anything, except, maybe, sort of gunz) and that the party would fight hard to get a deal done on DACA. Trump is saying to the Dem base that they’ve been sold out by their crappy politicians on the very issue they’ve been crowing about for months. He’s saying this to depress Dem voter base turnout in the midterms, because he knows whether or not Repubs keep their majority depends on the enthusiasm of the Dem base, more than anything else.

    Here’s the kicker….he’s pretty much correct.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Trump violates our rule about making sh*t up:

      “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA,” Trump tweeted, misrepresenting the rules of the program.

      To qualify for DACA, immigrants must have lived in the United States since 2007, have arrived in the country before age 16 and have been younger than 31 on June 15, 2012. No one arriving in the country after that date is eligible.

      Meanwhile the do-nothing demodog party thinks it’s gonna win by default:

      Bob Mulholland, a Democratic National Committee member from California, [said] “Democrats will use [Trump’s] tweets in the fall, and there will be no confusion over who’s at fault. That’s over,” Mulholland said. “He’s increased the Latino vote by huge margins.”

      Yeah, right, Bob: LOTA [Lesser Of Two Evils] has always been a huge drawing card to turn out mobs of energized voters. /sarc

      1. JohnnyGL

        LOL, Trump makes up so much stuff, that it’s a noteworthy event when you spot a little gem of truth. :)

        Mr. Mulholland sounds like he’s been in a coma since the summer of 2016. That fall Latinos 1) didn’t turn out in higher numbers and 2) didn’t swing in the direction of the Dems in a substantial way.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      He gets a lot of stuff right, but the anti-Trumpers are already deeply brainwashed to dismiss everything he says as stupid or evil or wrong or whatever. And will rabidly go after anyone who points out something he’s said that’s actually true as a Trump supporter because everything he says is stupid or evil or wrong.

      Most have already bought into the standard excuse that it was all the Republicans’ fault because “obstruction.” The latest meme making the rounds claims the Democrats came up with two DACA bills he vetoed (with the implication it was because of his demand a DACA bill fund his wall) after he “killed” the original order. It very carefully avoids noting that the spending bill, which he signed because it had funding for his wall, could have included something to address DACA but didn’t because the Dems didn’t consider it “good timing.”

  21. Jim Haygood

    Tesla waves its pom-poms:

    Tesla continues … laying the groundwork for Q3 to have the long-sought ideal combination of high volume, good gross margin and strong positive operating cash flow. As a result, Tesla does not require an equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines.

    All well and good. Meanwhile, Tesla’s 2017 annual report shows deficit working capital of negative $1.1 billion. How do you run and expand a company with deficit working capital?

    Answer: through the kindness of vendors, many of which are sole suppliers. Y’all keep shipping now, ya hear?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Added color from JPMorgan:

      In 2018 we estimate TSLA will burn over $700M in adjusted free cash, in addition to having a $390M convertible bond coming due. In 2019, TSLA has nearly $1B in convertible bonds coming due alone.

      TSLA could reduce its cash burn by reducing capex, and also appears to have an option to pledge its Gigafactory in Nevada as collateral to secure future debt financing. However, continued equity weakness will make any convertible debt financing more difficult, more expensive and likely more dilutive to equity holders.

      Tesla’s claim that it “does not require an equity or debt raise this year” appears to be a flat-out falsehood which might merit an SEC enforcement action.

      As ol’ Chairman Mao used to say (more or less), “Let ten thousand lawsuits bloom.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > pledge its Gigafactory in Nevada as collateral

        When I was researching the Tesla article, I ran across some links (which I am too lazy to find a second time) suggesting that the Gigafactory would not work well as collateral, essentially because lenders don’t really want a building per se, they wants a building with cash flow. And the deals Tesla had made with its tenants and its machinery suppliers were structured so that wasn’t happening. Sorry, the details have faded at this point…

  22. John

    Regarding the sentimentalist American who writes fondly of 1950’s boy scout troops. My boy scout experience at the same time was mostly pleasant but a bit morally clouded by being bullied by a good friend, the son of the scout leader, into stealing money from the till at our troop’s hotdog stand during a local festival. Like most thugs, he understood the power of collusion and shared criminality. He went on to become the most “successful” corporate jock from our high school class. Ah, the wonderful ’50’s and those sweet talking Kennedy’s.

    1. Wukchumni

      Never made it past the Cub Scouts and the militaristic uniforms, which were anything but cool to a nine year old in the know, as those of age were protesting the war in Vietnam all across the country.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Another Cub Scout dropout, here, after the teenage troop leader had us marching down the road. OTOH, the kind of thing the author describes might have inspired me; I was hoping to learn camping and similar outdoor skills.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          My cub scout Den Mother was actually my friend’s father, who seemed to feel it was important to “adjust” my underwear very frequently. I’m sure he was just making sure of my “genital health” but I quit the Scouts shortly thereafter

      2. HotFlash

        1960’s avid reader of Boys Life here, loved that mag. Yeah, my brother was only in Cubs for the (promised, but rarely delivered) camping. He bailed before Boy Scouts proper, wise beyond his years. Not coincidental that most of the Scout leaders in my town were vets who remembered the army with fondness. Fortunately, we had no diddling (that I ever heard of), but the local Big Scout had been a cook in the army. And the pancake suppers and potlucks were great!

      3. Lambert Strether

        > the militaristic uniforms

        My parents wouldn’t let me join the Cub Scouts. They called it a “fascist organization,” which was very strong language for them!

  23. Expat

    re: French Strikes
    The French are torn. Obviously, everyone is annoyed with disruptions in service and the disproportionate power of the unions and of public employees. But there is always the underlying worry that if they manage to break the public unions and start privatizing things like rail services, sooner or later they will come for everyone’s privileges.
    There is also still a large undercurrent of socialism running through the country. Many people still aim for public service at all levels since it carries with it permanent employment, low stress, and perqs. Of course, it also means low pay, but the trade-off is acceptable given the other advantages.
    The government has used state employment to placate the masses. Jobs for life were promised in exchange for political support and social stability. The French know very well what Thatcher did to the unions over there. And they know very well what happens to an American who falls sick.
    Everyone knew it was going to be a rough ride.

  24. neo-realist

    Usually racism in the Seattle area is a bit more subtle—-nasty stares, calling the cops on black people for appearing in mostly white/all white suburbs, but this expression is out of the norm; and the cop’s response, totally unacceptable:

    One witness told police Panera walked down a line of people waiting for a bus and “singled out each African American, pointed at them” and yelled racial slurs, the statement says.

    She told police the last rider to be accosted was the alleged victim, who sought help from an officer. But the officer said something to the effect of, “This happens all the time” before walking away, the charges say.

    A second woman also told police the officer “did nothing” and looked bored or exasperated during the incident, according to charging papers.

    She “felt duty-bound to inform the officer that he had witnessed a hate crime under state law,” the charges say. “The officer still did nothing.”

    When the alleged victim asked for the officer’s name and badge number, the “officer turned, walked away and muttered something indistinguishable,” the witness said, according to the charges.

    The captain and two other officers involved in the investigation agreed Panera threatened the alleged victim due to Panera’s perception of the man’s race, and that the alleged victim feared for his safety and believed Panera intended to harm him, the charges say.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    As it frets over China…Politico.

    From the article:

    But so far, the numbers don’t match up with the perceived scale of the threat: Only 5 percent of Hungary’s imports come from China, while over 27 percent of its exports go to Germany.

    What is the underlying logic here?

    Scale of threat is proportional to the percentage of imports/exports (i.e trade)?

    That is, zero trade = zero threat?

    And a number like 27 percent represents great threat than a number like 5 percent?

    1. Ignacio

      The underlying logic is that anything and everything China does is a threat that should be confronted.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From that sentence alone,, which relates numbers to perceived scale of threat?

        The underlying logic here, not the underlying logic elsewhere.

        1. Ignacio

          I understand your question but there is no logic in the article apart from that of confrontation.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Got it.

            I just was frustrated with the idea that ‘more trade = more good.’

  26. shargash

    re: the Altnernet piece “Sinclair Broadcasting Under Fire for Outrageous Trump Propaganda Script.”

    That video was pretty creepy, however I’m not sure where the Trump connection comes from. The “fake news” meme was started by the mainstream media as an attack on alternate media (like Alternet). It was later picked up by Trump and thrown back in the MSM’s faces. But I didn’t see anything in the Sinclair script that was targeted at CNN or MSNBC. I took it as a major MSM player pushing back at social media and alternate news sources.

    The business of making everything bad to be about Trump is that Trump WANTS everything to be about him. This kind of thing just creates a feedback loop that makes everyone stupid.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we can read about the bad Trump 24/7, then there is no need to know, or people will forget, how badly they have been let down by their supposed champions.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Psychology Today (or maybe Psychology No Tomorrow) article:

    We’ve created AI, and yet it may surpass us. Has anything in nature ever created something that superseded it?

    If we create machines with the ability to learn, and give them more memory and computing power than our own brains, then they have the potential to supersede us. This has never happened in the history of our planet, but we are at that threshold now. If we create something that’s above us in intelligence, it too will be above that threshold. So it can create a smarter version of itself, which can in turn create a version of itself that is dramatically smarter than us. We underestimate the potential to create incredibly powerful technologies because we’re used to inventing things ourselves. But if machines do the inventing, they might come much sooner.

    And leave us far behind.

    Or maybe not. It depends on whether we plan well. The sooner we discuss it in earnest, the better our odds for a happy outcome.

    With the advent of AI, you suggest no longer imagining ourselves as homo sapiens, but as homo sentiens. Why?

    We have tended to derive our self-worth from being smarter than all the other animals on the planet. That’s not going to work in the long term. But I think it’s an outdated idea that we need to define ourselves as the best. If we think of ourselves as Homo sentiens, we’re emphasizing that our ability to have wonderful experiences and feel love and joy is what’s really valuable about us, not that we’re smarter than everybody else. That’s something we can cherish regardless of whether there are smarter machines out there.

    Homo Sentiens – how? Humans have talked about this for millennia.

    Certainly not easy when teenagers stress themselves out trying to get into elite tech institutes like the MIT.

    Very few tech ‘bodhisattvas’ who will vow to not enter the tech Nirvana until all other sentient beings have.

    “You go first. Take my admission spot.”

    How many sentient souls have been crushed to bits before the very gates of those Intelligence Paradises?

  28. Jim Haygood

    A new face takes the helm of the Titanic New York Fed:

    The New York Federal Reserve announced Tuesday that John Williams, a central bank insider, has been selected to be its next president. Williams is a long-time Fed staffer who rose through the ranks to become president of the San Francisco Fed in 2011, a position he still holds.

    The president of the New York Fed is the first-among-equals within the dozen regional Fed presidents as he always has a vote on interest-rate policy decisions.

    News that Williams had been selected was leaked last week and was met with fierce criticism from union groups and some Democrats. They were upset that the Fed did not select a more diverse candidate and said the process was not transparent.

    pssst … John … got gold?

    1. allan

      Federal Reserve Candidate John Williams Once Laughed While Talking About Making Wells Fargo Follow the Rules [Law and Crime]

      A highly-placed official with the Federal Reserve once appeared to mock the idea of holding Wells Fargo accountable and in line with the law and federal banking regulations. …

      Author and Open Philanthropy consultant Sam Bell highlighted a November 2016 video in which Williams explained his–and the Federal Reserve’s–duties vis-à-vis Wells Fargo. Beginning at the 2:49 mark, Williams said:

      We supervise the banks in our district–that’s the nine western states that I represent–including one of the biggest in the world, Wells Fargo…making sure that they are safe and sound and following the rules.

      At this point in the video, laughter breaks out amongst the audience. Williams apparently finds the laughter somewhat contagious and joins in before amending his prior statement. He then says, “Doing our best to make sure they are safe and sound and following the rules.” …

      Appointing Williams to head the NY Fed is a one-fingered salute to the victims of financial crime.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Large crack in East African Rift is evidence of continent splitting in two ”
    My understanding (sorry no link; saw this a long time ago) is that the basin-and-range country of the US Southwest, corresponding roughly to Nevada, is also a rift zone where the continent could split in two. sending California on its merry way. Secession taken very literally. There’s a huge area, from southeast Oregon into Arizona, which does not drain to the sea and is lined with mountain ranges standing in the desert. Death Valley is the western edge. It’s pulling apart, but I don’t know why.

    1. Wukchumni

      There was a 20 mile long large crack in the ground as a result of the 1868 Hayward earthquake, and it was just a pipsqueak of a temblor @ 6.8
      “During the Hayward quake 140 years ago today, the ground cracked in a straight line that could be traced for nearly 20 miles from San Leandro south to Arroyo Agua Caliente. And unlike the modest cracks in the Hayward parking lots today, this was a huge gash along which the flanks of the fault slipped past each other about six feet.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Literal secession…

      California was once thought and drawn on maps (erroneously) as an island.

      I wonder if that was not an undocumented Nostradamus prediction that will one day be vindicated.

    3. polecat

      The lithospheric crust of the basin and range country is rather thin, relative to the Sierra Nevada to the west, and the Wasatc/Rockies to the east, with various hotsprings doting the eastern Sierran scarp, extending into the desert areas east of the Cascades …. so yes, Las Vegas and it’s surrounds will most likely become popular with whatever future sealife evolves to fill that newly rifting ‘terra-infirma’ .. of the one-armed Neo-Ammonites !

  30. Oregoncharles

    “The Diet That Might Cure Depression Atlantic” –

    Take the initial “a” off the URL.

  31. Edward E

    Cute little bunny, waiting for everything to green up, real patience. There’s one that keeps coming into the barn at sundown, I’ve been feeding the cute little bunny. It puts paws together and says lettuce pray! Maybe I’ll put an IHOP sign above the barn door.

    Sorry I’m so busy right now, will try to sneak back later.

  32. The Rev Kev

    “With paper and phones, Atlanta struggles to recover from cyber attack ”

    Can we please agree that the time for this sort of mickey mouse stuff is well and truly over? I mean, why isn’t it standard procedure for any organization or company to have some sort of backup for this sort of attack? Wasn’t the WannaCry attack last year warning enough? Maybe it is time for insurance companies to step up and say that just because a company or organization thinks that it does not need to prepare for such an eventuality doesn’t mean that it need to be insured either for the consequences.

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