Links 4/7/18

‘Just don’t do that’: Man kicks moose – and gets similar treatment Anchorage Daily News (mgl)

So 2 Goats Were Stuck On A Beam Under A Bridge ... NPR (David L). OMG, look at the second photo!

An Obsolete Law Prohibits SpaceX From Broadcasting Videos From Space Gizmodo (Kevin W)

BP thinks an oil spill in Australia would be ‘welcome boost’ for locals RT (Michel G)

Harvard Study: Clearing Your Mind Affects Your Genes And Can Lower Your Blood Pressure WBUR (David L). Problem is the study is methodologically lousy.


Brexit and the Irish border The Times. From the e-mailed summary: “Hard border would cause an ‘eruption of civil disobedience.’”

Brexit: an isolated offshore island? Richard North (AFXH)

EU bypasses Britain with new shipping routes Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, via Google Translate, German original here (AFXH)

Stand-off as Lula arrest deadline passes BBC

New Cold War

US takes aim at Putin’s elite allies in Russia with new sanctions Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

Is Putin a C.I.A. Agent? New York Times. UserFriendly: “ROFL.”

Sergei Skripal poisoning: Former Russian spy recovering rapidly, hospital says Kevin W: “Key quote-‘What we also know however, is that with time the body clears the nerve agent away.’ Aaaaand now we know why they are being held so long and won’t allow the Russians to take blood samples and the like.”

George Galloway blasts Boris Johnson in classic opening rant YouTube (YY). “Why can’t Theresa May find a donkey who’ll do a better job on Britain’s foreign relations than the rear end of a pantomime horse called Boris Johnson?”

The Empire Strikes Backwards John Helmer (Chuck L). “The evidence now accumulating is that the hospital is detaining and isolating the Skripals against their will, preventing contact with their family.” That would be against a whole lotta laws.

Russian spy’s cat had to be put down and guinea pigs died of thirst after cops sealed them in house Mirror (YY). And why weren’t their bodies kept for analysis of toxins? And that poor cat was handsome. Kevin W on the Independent’s version:

The whole thing makes no sense. You would reckon that the Army would have been over the house wearing “noddy” suits and looking with a fine tooth comb for traces of chemicals. Having animals there would be “bonus time” as you could test their blood for any traces of chemical contaminants. The fact that the guinea pigs died and the cat in a bad state suggest that the house was sealed (the cat may have been lucky if it could get to the toilet water, unless the lid was closed). And this was before they took the front door away. Feel sorry for them as it was so unnecessary.

When we can’t agree to fight against neo-Nazis, we’ve reached a new low TheH ill (UserFriendly)


US Isn’t Leaving Syria—but Media Lost It When Possibility Was Raised FAIR (UserFriendly)

Gazans return to border in defiance of Israeli guns Middle East Eye. Chuck L:

Among the dead was 15-year-old Hussein Mohammed Madi from Gaza City. Madi was killed east of Gaza City by an expanding dumdum bullet, the ministry said.

This kind of ammunition is illegal in warfare. But I guess it’s OK if you’re shooting Palestinians in Gaza. Or are they fish in a barrel?

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Under a millimeter wide and powered by light, these tiny cameras could hide almost anywhere TechCrunch (David L)

Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers Big Law (Paul R)

Are your phone camera and microphone spying on you? Guardian (David L)

What Happens When You Track Your Boyfriend on Strava Wired (Dr. Kevin)

Artificial intelligence could soon enhance real-time police surveillance Awesome Investors (David L)

The Paris Lawyer Who Gives Google Nightmares NPR (David L)

Tariff Tantrum

US stocks fall sharply on rising trade war fears Financial Times

Trump Rattles Stocks With His Tweets Bloomberg

U.S. Looks to Protect Domestic Car Makers From Foreign Competition Wall Street Journal

How Should the EU Position Itself in a Global Trade War? Bruegel

How Trump’s Tariff Game Might Play Out Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly)

Trump Transition

Running Out of Punching Bags, Trump Turns on Mattis Vanity Fair (furzy mouse)

2020 Census: the citizenship-question controversy, explained Vox (UserFriendly)

Michelle Obama: My husband was ‘the good parent’ compared to Trump The Hill (J-LS). Makes clear what the Dems see as the proper place of voters.

Senate GOP skeptical of Trump idea to cancel spending The Hill

Mueller’s Big Reveal Is Coming, and it Could Be Huge Dan Froomikn (Chuck L). Haven’t we heard this before?

Privatizing Health Care for Veterans Doesn’t Add Up American Prospect

When History Overtakes a Campaign Promise Inside Elections (UserFriendly)

GOP Rep. Farenthold resigns amid sexual harassment scandal The Hill

Facebook Fracas

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says the company is not a surveillance operation MarketWatch (David L). Right. Ant the Pope is not Catholic.

Facebook’s frantic effort to regain its balance Financial Times

Facebook: If you want to buy a political ad, you now have to be “authorized” ars technica (J-LS)

Public worries about self-driving cars are spiking after a pedestrian was killed by a robo-car Business Insider (David L)

Facebook exec: If you want privacy, expect to pay for it New York Post (J-LS) And why should one trust them?

Tesla Has a Problem, and It’s Not the Model 3 loomberg (Kevin W)

Small U.S. Colleges Join Forces in Effort to Lower Retirement-Plan Costs Gretchen Morgenson, Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

Jeff E: “Exactly 25 hours after granting Nestlé water pumping rights, despite around 97% opposition in public comments, the governor declared they were done providing Flint residents with bottled water.”

The fight goes on to ensure healthcare is not a privilege reserved for the rich Guardian (Kevin W)

Equal Pay Day is a reminder that you can’t mansplain away the gender pay gap Economic Policy Institute

Oklahoma authorities raid ale house for offering free beer to protesting teachers Raw Story. UserFriendly: “This country sucks.”

‘David and Goliath situation’: How New York City poop became a rural Alabama town’s problem

RT. Userfriendly urges you not to miss the penultimate paragraph and the Twitter image.

What Happened To The Cultural Elites: The Capitalist Celebration Ed Walker (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (Kittie Wilson via Lawrence R):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. WheresOurTeddy

    The “Is Putin a CIA Agent?” has to be satire.

    “It’s sad to see a country that gave us Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, Spassky, Sakharov, Stravinsky, Shiskin, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Pushkin, Nureyev and the Google co-founder Sergey Brin become better known for giving the world Novichok, the deadly Russian nerve agent used in Britain; “little green men,” the disguised Russian soldiers who seized Eastern Ukraine; and Guccifer 2.0, the Russian cyberagent who hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016.”

    Wow. Just wow. Late stage empire in decline.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Also Goncharov’s Oblomov.

      From Wikipedia:

      It has been said that “[n]o other novel has been used to describe the ever-so-elusive ‘Russian mentality’ or ‘Russian soul’ as frequently as Oblomov”

    2. OIFVet

      “…become better known…”

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

      Goebbels did not realize that as the general population’s ability to process information decreases in the age of “smart” devices and 10 second soundbites on the teevee, the lies do not have to be all that big. There only need to be a lot of them, fed to the public daily.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Let’s play a game from our childhoods, Sesame Street’s “Which of These Things Is Not Like The Other?”

        “Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy, Spassky, Sakharov, Stravinsky, Shiskin, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Pushkin, Nureyev and the Google co-founder Sergey Brin

        If you ever needed confirmation that Friedman’s never read Solzhenitsyn, or if he did, he didn’t get it, there you go…

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I find it kind of hilarious that with every other Russian being suspect to the resistance types, Sergei Brin, the founder of the company that is surveilling all of us, is assumed to be one of the good guys when there is ample evidence that he is not.

          Maybe someone should ask him why he decided to stop ‘not being evil’.

          1. Vastydeep

            When “Don’t be evil” can become your motto, you are already admitting that “evil” is an option that you can consider. By Gresham’s Law the game is already over. If you aren’t evil already you soon will be.

        2. OIFVet

          It’s safe to say that he has never read Pushkin’s ‘To the Slanderers of Russia.’

          “What stirs ye?
          Is it that this nation,
          On Moscow’s flaming walls, blood-slaked and ruin-quench’d,
          Spurn’d back the insolent dictation
          Of Him before whose nod ye blenched?
          Is it that into dust we shatter’d,
          The Dagon that weigh’d down all earth so wearily,
          And our best blood so freely scatter’d,
          To buy for Europe peace and liberty?”

      2. Mike

        If you tell a lie big enough, you are selling smoke. Most people think, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. All propagandists know this. People do not need to believe the lie, just have doubts that their entrusted leaders would lie on such a scale, or that the entire society and its leading lights would all agree to it for money, or power. You know, they all have spats and compete with each other, so how could they agree to something like this? Human nature and its wish to believe in something – God, the State, Heroes, our eternal Myths, “our team” – does the rest.

        Our problem? Do we have the resources or the numbers to resist this BS in a meaningful way? If we believe we do, we’d better get started in a big way. So far, rule out the Democrats, Big Religion, and the Media, and the unvisible Big Sugar Daddy as allies.

    3. flora

      Satire? From Tom Friedman? Not a chance. The real questions that Friedman does not answer: What does Friedman’s taxi drive say about this? Will the next 6 months (one Freidman unit) be critical? Were enough buzz words and product placements and name drops (all the great Russian authors plus Kenneth Rogoff???) worked into the column to qualify it as truly Friedmanesque?

      1. Richard

        Your media criticism feels Cockburnesqe (Alex), which I at least consider a high compliment.
        Freidman has been the gift that keeps on sucking for close to 40 years. If one didn’t know better, one might assume that churning out lightweight (but heavy handed) conventional wisdom is the foundation of a long career.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        “OMG Russia” has likely created an environment where one of Friedman’s “cab rides” (I imagine he’s gone Uber) with a denizen from a target of one of his columns could be construed as treason by the #resistance types if the driver if Russian.

  2. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Running Out of Punching Bags, Trump Turns on Mattis Vanity Fair

    Both the title and the conclusion below reflect editorial intention to double down on the meme that Trump’s foreign policy decisions are no longer “sane”.

    Despite his advisers’ reported efforts to sway him by presenting a binary choice in Syria—and by making the option of withdrawal as unappealing as possible—the “most militant military human being who ever lived” chose the nuclear option anyway.

    What is referred to as ‘the nuclear option’ is:

    Mattis … offered a one-year timeline as an alternative—to which Trump responded that five or six months ought to do the trick

    The Pentagon’s reasoning, which Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen treats as indisputable, is:

    Trump’s lack of desire to put together any sort of recovery plan for Syria—restoring basic needs such as water, power, and roads—would most certainly tip the country back into ISIS’s hands.

    In other words, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that the US presence is provocative, or that, without the US presence, the Syrian government would need fewer resources to protect itself from the US, and could itself get involved in reconstruction.

    Of course the US’s departure would force the Kurds to negotiate with the Syrian government from a position of weakness, but this has been in the cards since day one, unless the US intends to create and defend a Kurdistan while thereby ensuring that Turkey leaves NATO and becomes a very zealous enemy of the US and probably most of its allies. There might be an argument that this is the best way to go, but it would be the biggest strategic realignment in memory, and should not be treated as the tail wagging the dying dog of the US intervention in Syria.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The senate can lend a hand to this struggle, by demanding the end of US involvement in Syria, and not just in Yemen.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some victims are more equal than others.

          Similarly, some countries are more equal in deserving our attention than others.

    2. Matt

      “Trump’s lack of desire to put together any sort of recovery plan for Syria—restoring basic needs such as water, power, and roads—would most certainly tip the country back into ISIS’s hands.”

      No it wouldn’t, and they know damn well it wouldn’t. It would allow the Syrian government to begin to regain control over the country and we just can’t have that. They know the U.S. public largely doesn’t care about Assad, so we have to scaremonger about resurgent ISIS.

      1. Lord Koos

        Interesting that there is talk about “restoring basic needs such as water, power, and roads” in Syria, but Puerto Rico, not so much…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From Marketwatch:

          SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, April 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) announced today a surge in visitors across the Island over the Easter and Passover holidays and Spring Break. From the island of Culebra off the northeast coast to the southwest region of Cabo Rojo, small family-owned inns to major hotels throughout the Island, as well as in San Juan, were bustling with crowds enjoying the beaches, diverse attractions and nightlife over the long weekend. This is evidence of U.S. travelers’ growing trust in Puerto Rico’s readiness to welcome them again.

          I am not sure if student loan money is used. Any data on that?

          On the other hand, very few have been reported to have vacationed in Syria recently.

          1. RenoDino

            According to reports, one-fifth of student loan money was used to invest in cryptocurrencies, much of it at the top the market. I personally know parents of students who were lured into investing by their college-age kids.

            This one is going to leave a mark.

            1. HotFlash

              Whoa there! The article said one-fifth of *students* put *some* (amt wasn’t specified, not total, per capita, mean, media, or mode, note Oxford comma) of their student loan money into bitcoin and similar, which is *not* ‘one-fifth of student loan money’.

              And frankly, if you are looking at a tsunami of debt repayment due when you graduate, buying a lottery ticket or similar seems like it could be a prudent investment. Now, if they are buying lots of Crypto, then that would be grounds to demand a refund for all the tuition, since whatever education it paid for was obviously worthless.

              1. ambrit

                Speaking of worthless; have you received one of those “Super Used Car and Truck Spring Cleaning Sale!!!” flyers in your ‘shopper’ yet? There is an uptick in used car secondary sales suddenly. All the usual tricks are in evidence.
                Such as:
                Try this key for your chance to….
                One lucky winner gets to drive off in….
                Prices so low we can’t legally print them!
                No payments for…(With approved credit.)
                Dealer pain is your gain!
                We have noticed, since we do, for the fun of it, read the fine print on these “golden opportunities,” that now, even qualifying for a giveaway requires a credit score of above the 600 or 650 range.

        2. polecat

          Or in the likes of Flint, MI. …. and other neolibricon induced american ‘sh!tholeistans’ !

      2. The Rev Kev

        What happens in US-occupied Syria if the same sort of resistance starts to form like happened in Iraq after the invasion. There was an attack that killed a US and British special forces soldiers a few days ago. The US has 4,000 soldiers there or so they say. Add in a whole bunch of mercs. Oh, I’m sorry. I should have said contractors – or do I repeat myself? Then there is all the spooks and special forces running around but add then all up and that is nowhere near enough soldiers to occupy that much territory. My own impression is that they are not going out beyond the wires much. They are just there to stop Syria reclaiming their own country back again and using the oil there to pay for it. That can still leave them in a very vulnerable position once the resistance forms though.
        Should have also added. The Israelis are also demanding that the US stay in Syria which is OK since they do not have to pay for it all and take all the inevitable casualties.

    3. Altandmain

      It’s a reminder that the media is on the plutocrats side … and they want war.

      I bet that the plutocrats are actually secretly quite pleased with Trump’s choice of John Bolton – they know that he is likely to take the US to war.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s definitely scary looking from the side.

        On the other hand, they are asking “Where were you John Bolton, when Trump demanded immediate eixt?”

        It’s kind of Roshomon.

        For me, in this case, I will not demand truth in advertisement…in this case.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        Silly idea: Why don’t we use the endless snooping powers of Big Brother’s apparatus to, oh, I don’t know, see who among elected officials and government employees went long on defense stocks in the days leading up to Bolton being named? Might be as illuminating as all the unprecedented massive shorts on airlines leading up to September 2001 that were never looked into.

        Sorry, I got off the reservation there. I’ll continue looking for Russians under my bed now.

    4. BondsOfSteel

      The Kurds only hold the northern half of the zone (and provide leadership). The US has done a great job of building up the SDF which includes many Sunni arabs. Right now, ISIS is almost defeated… it just holds 2 desert areas and ~10 small villages on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. The main group fighting in the eastern bank pockets are the DMC (Deir-ez-Zur Military Council) which includes many ex-ISIS fighters.

      Add in that Turkey clearly prefers ISIS to the PYD, there is a high probability that ISIS would re-emerge if the US simply left. This would impact Iraq as well as Syria, since Iraq is still fighting ISIS in Kirkuk and Anbar.

      1. integer

        I disagree. The US has never been particularly interested in defeating ISIS in Syria. From the beginning of the US’ illegal occupation of Syria the primary goal has been regime change. If you really are concerned about the re-emergence of ISIS in Syria then rest assured; the Syrian, Russian, and Iranian militaries are quite capable of defeating ISIS in Syria without any “assistance” from the US, and they are highly motivated to do so.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        If the US wanted to eliminate ISIS, we’d be investigating how the Ruskies broke through the ISIS cloaking devices that allow their convoys to cross hundreds of miles of open desert undetected by our recon.

      3. UserFriendly

        There is a case for commiting to defend the Kurds against Turkey who would love the chance to genocide them. That doesn’t necessarily require active participation though.

        1. integer

          What would this defense consist of? Threats? Red lines? Supplying weapons? It is none of the US’ business, and any US assistance would continue to come with strings attached, which will only cause further tensions in the region. For better or worse, the Kurds need to find their own way in both Syria and Iraq. My understanding is that Syria was, and still is, willing to grant the Kurds protection, along with significant autonomy, on the condition that the Kurds distance themselves from the US.

          1. UserFriendly

            Turkey isn’t stupid. They haven’t gone after the Kurds that have US Air support. Turkey has all but left NATO and I’d bet a commitment from the US would be enough to stop them from invading. Syria is not strong enough to defend them yet, Russia won’t, and Turkey has broadcast their intent to invade. It doesn’t have to be active support, just a threat till Assad can credibly repel Turkey.

            1. integer

              I think Russia would have been willing to defend the Kurds from Turkey if they had not aligned themselves with the US. In fact, many Syrian war commentators (e.g. Elijah Magnier) that know much more than I do about the situation have asserted that the only reason Russia did not protect the Kurds from the Turkish invasion of Afrin was to demonstrate that the US was an unreliable ally that could not be counted on when push came to shove. By refraining from intervening, Russia hoped to provide an incentive for the Kurds to come to the bargaining table, with the end goal being the negotiation of a unified Syria.

    5. ddbthewriter

      The weird thing is that the media seems to want to keep us in Syria rather than agreeing to the pull out, despite the fact that the US-NATO-Saudi-Israeli alliance appears to have massively failed in their objective to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Assad government.

      The idea that Trump is now turning on Mattis/the Pentagon for not agreeing to their deadline of a withdrawal, which the Pentagon itself said wasn’t going to happen as was noted in the article, is pretty ridiculous. While it may not be for the right reasons per se, Trump’s desire to have a quick withdrawal does make logical sense.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hmm, yes, very apt thought that. I think that the term Crusader state is exactly what we are seeing here. And like the original Crusader states, with hostile forces on all their borders.

    6. VietnamVet

      The lack of awareness is astonishing. This keeps repeating. The Northern Coalition (Kurds) with American Airpower seized Kabul (Raqqa) and US troops must occupy Afghanistan (Eastern Syria) to keep it from tipping into the Taliban (ISIS) control. In addition, there is the real risk of a shooting war with Turkey, Iran/Russia and/or the Syrian Arab Republic at any moment. A world war is underway there that risks going nuclear. Since Donald Trump wants to withdraw, who is ordering the USA, UK and France to stay and risk the apocalypse?

    7. Procopius

      … unless the US intends to create and defend a Kurdistan while thereby ensuring that Turkey leaves NATO and becomes a very zealous enemy of the US and probably most of its allies.

      I think this is their actual desire. Did you see the recent announcement that the U.S. is building a new super-sized air base in Jordan? They would much rather be building it in Iran, of course, but they’re not able to do that — yet. Anyway, they want desperately to get out from under the Turkish thumb at Incirlik. Remember how one third of the forces invading Iraq had to return home because the Turks wouldn’t let them pass through Turkey? Certainly Tillerson foolishly gave the game away when he announced the U.S. was going to help the Kurds in North-east Syria establish a “security” (i.e., military) force of at least 30,000 troops.

  3. Wukchumni

    ‘David and Goliath situation’: How New York City poop became a rural Alabama town’s problem

    “We’ll always have Parrish”

    1. Carolinian

      NYC also sends large amounts of their trash to a huge SC landfill downstate somewhere. We retaliate by sending them Nikki Haley, the new Mouth of the South (it used to be Ted Turner).

    2. apberusdisvet

      It just cannot be NYC poop. As we all well know nyc elites poop don’t stink.

      (must be from NJ)

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      So, Team D was just envious of Rush Limbaugh’s eliminationist rhetoric all those years.

      When your worldview requires that XX percentage of the population just go die, one may be in need of a rethink.

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      “Deplorable zone. Seems apt. What’s the problem?” – New York Hillary voters

    5. Ed Miller

      After the banks were bailed out, which is analagous to a big dump on the colonies, now NYC is giving us the real deal. Look for more small, poor towns to “cash in” on such NYC “bonuses”.

      Nice to see the special people don’t need to deal with this. ;^(

  4. ArkansasAngie

    With respect to “Privatizing Health Care for Veterans Doesn’t Add Up”

    I deal with disabled veterans every day. Believe me when I say there is a large portion of that population for which private practice situations simply will not work. It isn’t a natter of disrespect. It is reality.

    Are there problems? Are they systemic? Does there need to be change? Yes.

      1. ArkansasAngie


        I am the founder and executive director of Soldier ON Service Dogs in Fayetteville Arkansas. We provide free fully trained service dogs to veterans with PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

        We are situated about a mile from the Ozarks Regional VA.

        We deal with veterans and veterans group all day every day.

        I invite you to stop off here and see what we do and meet our veterans. We are a great field trip.

        I consider myself, in part, to be a mental health advocate.

        1. UserFriendly

          That is very helpful, and thank you, but I wonder if Yves wanted to know ways that private care wouldn’t be able to handle large segments of veterans. Probably because she believes you and is always looking for first hand sources to back up claims when she gets pushback.

      2. Eric

        Spoke to a friend who’s a VA doctor, he was saying that some conditions like spinal cord injury cost a lot of money to care for and the VA has more capacity via the hospital network to centralise care and share learnings. Private insurance can’t provide a similar standard of care

        1. ArkansasAngie

          Two specific cases in terms of diagnosis and treatment — ALS and Agent Orange.

          Little know fact … veterans have a statistically significant increased chance for develop of idiopathic ALS.

          And then there’s Agent Orange — it was only because that information was all within the VA medical records that the connection was able to be proven statistically and treatments created (unsuccessfully for the most part).

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Wouldn’t it make more sense for the VA to specialize in treating conditions–PTSD/suicide prevention, loss of limbs, chemical agent poisoning as examples–that affect veterans in far greater proportions than the general population, and leave treatment of the more generally common health conditions–cardiology, for example–to the existing system, which is already prepared to treat them?

            What is the point of trying to create a totally parallel system for a population that has many unique needs, the treatment of which suffers from the attempt to duplicate what already exists?

            It’s reasonable to expect that the civilian population would benefit from the development of such expertise as well.

            I just don’t understand why the solution must be an “either/or.” It seems more logical to treat veteran’s health as more of a specialty than a separate jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none standalone system.

            Just a thought.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Originally, I think it was set up that way as a “thank you” subsidy to veterans – an entitlement. I suspect the problem with your approach, which does make sense, is that it vitiates a holistic approach, which a vet mentions just below. You can’t really separate the issues when they occur in the same body.

              Realistically, the separate VA system, as of now, is an admission that the private system sucks so bad, which might be why Trump’s handlers want to privatize it.

            2. ArcadiaMommy

              So would you have the amputee/PTSD/chemical agent exposed patients with heart trouble go to an outside cardiologist, radiologist, blood work clinic?

              These patients are seriously unwell, may not have support systems or money for transportation to all the different private service providers. I would also add that a doctor focused on the civilian population may not be qualified to discern the long-term effects of whatever the patient was exposed to while serving in the military.

              I don’t have direct experience with the VA but do use Indian Health Service periodically. It’s not fancy (no valet parking, no Starbucks, inconvenient location) but I have been perfectly satisfied with the quality of treatment my boys and I have received there.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Re “privatizing the VA:” Folks have begun to experience the “benefits” of Mechanical Medicine By Protocol And Billing, as practiced upon those of us not rich enough to “get the best medical care in the world.” And I am talking about the quality of medical care, the diagnosis and effective treatment of injury and disease, let alone the preventive care that would be so very cost-effective, if only… And that includes the Wonders of Electronic Medical Records, that make it so easy to create and perpetuate complete fabrications about a person’s medical history, medication list, “complaints,” procedures and the rest. And not even have a prayer of doing that Tech Magic that was advertised so heavily as a reason to computerize all that (now lootable) information — the assurance that any practitioner would have “access” to the accurate and intimate details of a person’s medical needs and history and experiences in the “system.”

                I write as a retired nurse, and as a person who gets VA care since 1997 and qualifies for Medicare as well, and has experienced both through a lot of “contacts” and in my work life.

                The VA has a medical records and management “system” called VISTA, which is a kludge of “fixes” on top of old, old programming, the kind where some “screens” are still doing DOS functions without benefit of GUI and graphics and all that. There is some effort to provide provider access to necessary information “across the platform,” but the connection to the fraud and misinformation and garbage in the “private sector” data pile is a joke. I might add that it’s advised by a lot of Veterans Service Organizations, the people who help our Wounded Warriors navigate the VA disability claims process, that veterans regularly make a “personal records request” to the VA data managers, to get an up to date copy (on disk and paper, if one asks) of all the stuff that is in their VA medical file. I have been amazed at the garbage, gobblydegook and outright lies that I find in my “permanent record.” And this is from within an organization where a lot of the workers and caregivers actually do try to provide quality health care to the population they serve. And they do it ON SALARY, not through the piecework sh!t that the UNsurance Companies have imposed, and with little incentive to commit fraud and negligence and who-cares? “care.” (I’d make an exception in the faint praise here, for the VA psych care, which I, at least, and anecdotally many other GIs, have discovered to be “do a couple of talky-talky sessions, mischaracterize “on the record” what was related by the GI, then shove some high-potency meds like SSRIs and SSNIs at them, and if they don’t take them because of the inappropriate and dishonest diagnoses and the often horrible side effects and reactions, just write ’em up as “recalcitrant” and kick them out the door — I found personal help for my particular problems with a private psychologist who actually understood the issues from very special specialization, and helped tremendously. “Your mileage may vary,” as the saying goes.)

                Another interesting note: vets, except in certain cases, do pay something for their medications, off a formulary that is very inclusive and where with proper input from the doctor who is treating you, will even cover off-formulary meds. I belive the current cost for a 90-day supply of a formulary medication, no matter what it is, is $9, that is correct, NINE DOLLARS for a 90 day supply, delivered by mail order. How’s that stack up against “Mediscrew Part D?” No “donut holes” either. Gee, I wonder ho the VA can accomplish pricing that Private Unsurance cannot…

                As noted, vets often have complicated “service-connected” problems and diseases, and I really do start to steam up when the same people who had those “support your troops” twisty-ribbon stickers on their bumpers, now all faded and lifting away from the chrome, now come back and say in not so many words, “hey, if WE get sh!tty medical care, YOU should be getting the same crappy treatment WE do.” Rather than everybody getting together to make the Fokkers who rule us, the 1% that are on the way to “legally” OWNING two-thirds of EVERYTHING in the whole Homo Economicus World, make them disgorge their ill-gotten gains so we can all get (not “have access to”) the quality health care that, but for thievery and profit-taking and looting, ALL of us ordinary people could have– for less money, and better results. Like other “civilized” countries, which clearly our dying Empire is not…

                I think we are at the level in that “First they came for… and then they came for” trope that is only two steps above the bottom of the Race to the Bottom. Stand and fight, or be rolled up and drowned…

      3. stefan

        As a Vietnam-era veteran, I have gotten my healthcare from the VA since 2008. The VA hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, is about 100 miles from my house, and the outpatient clinic in Littleton, New Hampshire, is about 25 miles away. I qualify for using private providers due to these distances, but I prefer not to to because I like the care I am getting and I like getting it thru the VA; at both facilities, the care I get is very good to excellent. I am in pretty good health, so my condition does not currently pose special challenges to care.

        During the time I have been with the VA, the system has improved in tangible ways. The Littleton clinic is new and well-designed, a much better facility than the old place for both practitioners and patients. The prescription system has been modernized and works very well, pretty much automatically. In the North Country, all medical facilities have difficulties retaining staff; the VA is not really different in this regard, but I have had the same primary physician for several years now and I consider him to be experienced and able.

        Based on my experience, I am deeply opposed to privatization of VA healthcare, and I think if our President goes forward with that idea, a million hobbling veterans with our wheelchairs and crutches and prosthetic limbs will show up in Washington to tell him where to stick it.

        1. KB

          I gotta step in and say something here. The VA system in Minneapolis is remarkably better than many if not most private hospitals in same city.
          My husband, a Vietnam Vet has the experience of being treated at both the private and VA system at the same time. As a public employee he was catastrophically injured on the job. Meaning 2,500 pounds fell on his chest….years of life threatening surgeries in the private work comp system and for non-work comp symptoms going to the VA for care. The private hospitals are for us a disaster. At the VA hospital we feel welcome, almost loved if you will, they are meticulously clean and the system is well managed.
          The VA treats their patients holistically and all specialties are in house communicating very well together. I agree if they try to privatize this veterans will be much worse off.
          I am a retired Chiropractor so also have what I feel is an objective perspective.
          I do only wonder why some VA systems are rated 5 star and others are not…clearly some states VA hospitals need more staff or better management?….I recently read a nation wide report on all the VA systems and Minneapolis is 5 stars again, but if I remember correctly Chicago’s was a 3 or 4….
          In other words the loud noise about how we treat veterans is NOT true in many places.

          1. Lord Koos

            It seems like the quality of care at VA hospitals can vary quite a bit. About 20 years ago the VA hospital near Tacoma WA had a terrible reputation, with botched surgeries, long wait times, poor care etc, there was a big report on the problems in local press. Not sure if it’s even still in operation.

            And wasn’t there a fairly recent scandal over the conditions at Walter Reed in DC?

            1. JTMcPhee

              The VA system is not perfect, but I can tell you from personal experience that the “private” system and even “public non-profit (sic) hospitals” can be and often are as bad or worse. At least the nominal mission of the VA is to serve well those who took the King’s Shilling and went off to war or whatever they did in uniform.

              We got a local Big Corporate Owned hospital that nurses under their breath refer to not as “Northside” but as “Graveside” due to the prevalence of shoddy care and medical errors — many induced by the profit-over-all business model of “more and more work, and more and more up-coded higher-billed procedures and services, from fewer and fewer staff, for less and less pay, with more and more metrics, and management by intimidation and minutiae.”

              The VA takes neoliberal criticism for the still relatively decent ratio of staff to patients — “should be run like a Bidness, goddamit!” The care can be excellent, to careless, depending on the culture of a particular facility, service or ward even, at a VA hospital or clinic, but it’s generally a whole lot better than what I have seen in my sickness time and work life in “the private sector.”

              We mopes already got and are losing enough effing races to the bottom, don’t we?

      4. 3.14e-9

        Yves, I followed some links in the article and ended up finding two great sources of information that explain the different ways in which private-sector providers fail to meet the specific health care needs of veterans. The two articles I found to be the most informative confirm my personal experience with VA health care facilities in Seattle and Upstate New York (links below).

        An overarching theme at both links is that the private sector lags far behind the VA in understanding the specific needs of veterans, particularly treatment for mental health issues such as PTSD, high suicide risk, and chronic depression. As a result, there are very few private practitioners who are ready and capable to take on an influx of patients from the VA system, even though they may have the capacity for new patients. A recent Rand study of providers in New York State concluded that only 2.3 percent are able to provide veterans with the same level of health care as the VA.

        Choice Program Expansion Jeopardizes High-Quality VHA Mental Health Services

        Rand study, in PDF:

        I have been meaning for some time to write to my Republican congresswoman asking her not to support any attempt at privatizing VA healthcare. She says she supports veterans (don’t they all), so we’ll see if she’s willing to walk the walk. The link to the American Prospect article motivated me to apply butt to chair. Letter sent. Big thanks to you and NC.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I have no idea why the UK thought that it would be a great idea to incinerate the remains of the two guinea pigs and that poor cat. Considering that they were at Porton Downs, guaranteed that there would be freezers there to store them for future sample taking and the like. Unless of course that this was the whole idea. Then you would have to accept the UK’s claim that the samples that they did take were totally unadulterated and not fudged with. Bah! Humbug!

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think its called ‘disposing of the evidence’.

        I was dismissive of MoA’s theory earlier that it was food poisoning – that made no sense to me. But suddenly its becoming I think a real possibility that this is exactly whats happened, and there is now a frantic attempt to cover up the evidence. It makes absolutely no sense whatever that the house was sealed up and any animals in their ignored if they really thought there had been a nerve gas used, they would surely be testing every square inch of that house. Even the local plod couldn’t possibly be that stupid.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Personally I would prefer Chief Inspector Morse or Detective Inspector “Robbie” Lewis. Heck, I would be delighted if Inspector Montalbano could be borrowed from the Sicilian Police Force. It just seems that all too often we have to listen to announcements from Inspector Clouseau.

              1. ambrit

                “Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom,) please pick up the courtesy phone with the burning fuse.”

          1. Clive

            I’m even more loathed to add this as I am to add anything else on this story that isn’t an absolute verified fact, but here goes.

            My best friend goes to an art class which is also attended by the mother whose son lives next door to the Skripals in Salisbury (oh, do try to keep up — I hope y’all are following this chain of friends and relations, I will grant you it’s third-hand information; but of course, all my sources are impeccable).

            Anyhow, she said to my friend that her son was having to move out of the house. The reason was that it was completely unliveable in due to the huge police presence in the street, not to mention the journalists doorstepping and generally making a thorough nuisance of themselves.

            I left instructions to ask (which I doubt will be followed up, but I did think of eager NC readers so I did my best…) whether a) this was of her son’s own volition and b) how was he going to pay for the temporary accommodation. A furnished rental family house in any kind of nice area in a decent standard would be £1,5000 pcm minimum, probably a little more. Few, if any, ordinary people would want to or be able to take that kind of hit in anything other than the shortest of short terms. It’s vaguely possible that their homeowner insurance would cover it. The other tantalising supposition I had, which I’d dearly love to get confirmation on, is if some arm of the state (e.g. the police, the county, central government through one agency or another) “offered” to foot the bill.

            The point in my mentioning this tale is that that the whole area is simply crawling with police and others. It is scarcely credible that no-one would have even looked in the windows of the house. Or that it was sealed up on the day of the attack an no-one went in for a look around afterwards. Or that the Skripal’s other cat wasn’t wandering around looking for their owners. Or that none of the neighbours said “oh, you know they were animal lovers, has someone gone in and fed the [small menagerie] in the house?”

            Even the dimmist plod would have noticed some, or all, of that. I would have thought so… but maybe that’s just me.

            1. ambrit

              The poor animals could be innocent bystanders effected by someones’ desire to keep ‘unauthorized’ eyes from seeing things Skripal could have had at his home. Now, I know that Skripal, being a somewhat successful double agent, would have made d–n sure that any incriminating evidence would be nowhere near his person or premises. But, a reasonably cautious ‘retired’ spy wrangler would want complete control of the premises in which his or her ‘protege’ lived, just on procedural grounds. Thus, since Skripal was an ex-agent for MI6, then MI6 would have control of the case. The denizens of the Puzzle Palace on Thames have, to the best of my knowledge, not been highly visible supporters of animal rights. To the best of my knowledge, said apparatchiks have been fairly contemptuous of the rights of any and all beings. So, it is all of a piece.
              I’ll cut P.C. Plod some slack here. He or she is sure to have been the recipient of a “J” notice. “Keep your eyes, ears and mouth shut or it’s your Job.”
              This entire imbroglio is becoming absurd. It, much more than Trump, is worthy of Jarry and the Dadaists.

        1. UserFriendly

          Even the local plod couldn’t possibly be that stupid.

          I wouldn’t go that far.
          Nina ☦️ Byzantina @NinaByzantina

          Is it just me, or is the Anglo-American world descending into kindergarten diplomacy?

          There are 2 screen grabs of headlines that say:

          Russia should ‘go away and shut up’, says UK defence secretary


          ‘Russia will never be our friend, we’ll slap them when needed’ -US envoy to UN

    2. Lee

      Sherlock Holmes, courtesy telephone please.

      As a longtime fan of Brit crime fiction, this display of keystone cops incompetence and clumsy cover-up is most disillusioning. The real characters are giving the fictional ones a bad name and that is unforgivable!

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “We thought you were the nation of James Bond, turns out you’re more Johnny English.”

        1. Lee

          Red Riding is certainly one of the best and darkest of the genre.

          The George Gently and Endeavour series also portray organized corruption and depravity in the police forces. It is alluded to in Prime Suspect and in Morse where, as in Endeavour, there is a strong connection to Masonic membership in the force and officialdom in general. I don’t know much about the factual basis for these fictional accounts but if John Thaw or Martin Shaw said it, it must be true. ; )

          1. ambrit

            But then, John Thaw got horribly bumped off by ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ whilst in Egypt, so…

            1. begob

              Hehe! I read elsewhere that the guinea pigs committed suicide, and the cat was Persian so sanctions by incineration had to be applied.

              Moonofalabama keeps referring to a spy drama that references novichok, but I’ve only now just bothered to find a clip, and it really does add to the media delirium – including the “ten times” allegation affaire:

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit:

    Brexit: an isolated offshore island? Richard North (AFXH)

    EU bypasses Britain with new shipping routes Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, via Google Translate, German original here (AFXH)

    Immediately, one sees that elimination of the UK “land bridge”, with ferry transport directly from Ireland to the mainland, would fit in very neatly with EU policy, as would using Irish ports as distribution hubs for the Atlantic trade, whence bulk cargoes are broken up for despatch by smaller boats to diverse continental destinations, some with access to the inland waterway system.

    Typically, shipping companies are the first to spot issues and problems with supply lines and can change policy very rapidly – it doesn’t take much to switch a shipping route. I was surprised at just how quickly a number of major companies announced new direct Europe to Ireland routes.

    The two articles mention Cork Harbour as a likely hub, although I would be sceptical of this – the harbour is very limited in extent – its surrounded by built up areas, designated wildlife areas, and hills, so there is no chance of building a new Rotterdam there.

    There are some good underdeveloped natural harbours on Irelands south coast. Ironically, 120 years or so ago, the wild and beautiful Bantry Bay performed exactly this function. It was the last stop for coal powered steamers from New York to Europe, so it was a major refuelling and transhipment point. The remains of this period is just archaeology now, apart from a very well hidden oil terminal (most tourists admiring the views have no idea of its existence). So it has potential for growth, but I’d fear for the beautiful landscapes there. I suspect the focus instead will go to Rosslare Harbour, a more mundane area but with plenty of scope for expansion. The Republic has always been a little short on good harbour facilities as Larne in Northern Ireland has for long been the biggest gateway for trade.

    This could be a rare win for the environment. Far fewer trucks driving across the UK, more sea transport instead of road. But its certainly very bad news for the Channel Tunnel and the major east coast British ports.

      1. allan

        There once was a port on the Shannon,
        whose gantries were simply out standin’.
        In Cork, Apple has business,
        and Dublin’s got Guinness,
        but Limerick will get all the mammon.

    1. Anonymous2

      The West Coast UK ports – the Welsh ports and Liverpool – are likely also to take a hit.

  6. nippersdad

    Michelle Obama criticizes the proles for not considering the continuation of greed, arrogance and stupidity as supreme qualifications for the Presidency in one article, whilst in another the results of the “good parents'” governing style, Steve Mnuchin, gets to pontificate about how others shouldn’t be insulated from the destabilizing policies of their government when he should be languishing in a prison somewhere.

    Someone needs to tell Michelle that people often get what they ask for.

    1. perpetualWAR

      People often get what they asked for?

      Pretty sure if that was the case, we would now have President Sanders rather than President Trump.

      1. nippersdad

        She asked for greed, arrogance and stupidity and she got in in abundance, largely due to the results of her Husband’s tenure. I’m sorry if I was unclear.

  7. allan

    Senate Democrat Vows To Confirm Climate-Denying Coal Lobbyist As EPA No. 2 [HuffPo]

    Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Environmental Protection Agency’s No. 2 job, has secured at least one Democrat’s support ahead of his planned Senate confirmation vote next week.

    Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), one of just two Democrats who voted for embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last year, told HuffPost she plans to approve the former coal lobbyist, who rejects the science behind climate change. If confirmed, Wheeler would be next in line to take over the agency if Pruitt caves to mounting pressure to resign. …

    Surely DSCC chair Chris Van Hollen has a perfectly sensible explanation. Go Team Blue!!!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Can those few North Dakota Democratic voters (if any) who disagree with Heitkamp’s support for Pruitt and Wheeler organize themselves to vote against the Heitkamp in its next election? Can they bring themselves to vote Republican as the most likely way to actually defeat the Heitkamp and possibly drive it out of politics and public life? Do they see this as a “purge and burn” moment awaiting its Rendezvous With Destiny in the Heitkamp’s next election?

      1. edmondo

        And when her GOP successor takes her senate seat, then he will vote against Pruitt and Wheeler?

        Where’s the win here?

        1. witters

          “And when her GOP successor takes her senate seat, then he will vote against Pruitt and Wheeler?

          Where’s the win here?”

          But, but… You Get to Vote! (Hurrah!)

        2. John k

          It would be easier to take over the dems if you first remove the most rep like ones.
          What diff does it make whether a dem or rep votes for trumps noms? So empty the dem party of the blue dogs like Pelosi and Schumer.

      2. Sid_finster

        As a North Dakotan, any member of Team D is about as popular as halitosis. This is a state where Democrats and liberals are hunted, using specially trained dogs. Heitkamp is the only non-republican holding statewide elected office.

        That said, Heitkamp may survive, but only if Team R takes the win for granted and nominates someone like Rick Berg (who still almost pulled the win off).

        1. allan

          Well, if the D brand is so toxic in ND that the only chance they have of winning is to run someone like Heitkamp, so much the more reason to make an example of her,
          pour encourager les autres.
          It was in the GOP primary for the 2009 special election in NY-23 that the Tea Party, by showing it was willing to have the GOP candidate lose in order to maintain ideological purity, made its reputation and succeeded in driving the GOP nationally to the right.
          All you need is one sacrificial lamb to show you mean business.

          As a special bonus, here’s what the Dem leadership of the time had to say
          about that election as a harbinger of things to come:

          Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, retorted, “This election represents a double blow for national Republicans and their hopes of translating this summer’s ‘tea party’ energy into victories at the ballot box.”

          How’d that work out for you in 2010, Chris?

          1. Sid_finster

            I don’t think that Tea Party logic works for Team D, because Team D has no real principles other than getting their mitts on money, power and access to the right people.

  8. Alex morfesis

    Will Boris and Theresa swing at Nottingham ? The gallows are still there in the museum in some working order… Once brexit kicks in…the death penalty can be brought back…

    the notion the Wehrmacht agent Putin would waste energy carrying a nerve agent from Russia to the UK and hope to deliver it in a publicly viewable space…

    ie a doorknob…

    Is quite Benny hill amusing…

    or truly a reason to reduce military spending by 80%…

    if the Russians are really this stupid to use a nerve agent…

    Then they are only a threat to themselves…

    Dutchy of Grand Fenwick and all that…

    1. Sid_finster

      And this incredibly deadly super beyond military weapons grade ZOMG Russia nerve agent apparently has no effect on cats or guinea pigs.

      1. pretzelattack

        that’s how fiendishly clever the russians are! they thought of everything i tell ya!

  9. The Rev Kev

    “BP thinks an oil spill in Australia would be ‘welcome boost’ for locals”

    Anybody remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill back in ’89? Remember too all those clean-up crews getting rid of all the oil and mopping up what they could? You ever wonder what happened to them all? I know. They are nearly all dead! According to a CNN news clip at the average life span for those workers was only 51 years old. The chemicals chopped 30-40 years off their lives. And BP wanted to replicate the experience down here?
    I won’t add my own personal thoughts as an Aussie here as swearing is not really allowed but I will point people to a 6-minute clip at showing what this region can be like. And BP wasn’t worried about an oils spill here?
    Shakes his head and walks away muttering.

    1. James Graham

      I went to that youtube link of a CNN report …

      … and I read the comments which include several from people who were directly involved in the cleanup and they say “BS” including one who knows several cleaners, all of them still living.

      The absence of any other publicity for these “deaths” or, as far as I know, any law suits here in the US of Lawyers adds to my skepticism.

      1. James Graham

        The most interesting comment on YouTube.

        “Typical from CNN, total lies. I’m a 60 year old Captain and worked on the clean-up. It’s total BS that MOST of the workers died. I live here, in Alaska, and know many who worked that and I don’t know of one (1) who has passed from what they say in this clip. Total BS.”

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Regardless of all that, it’s still difficult to get excited about oil spill cleanup as a job opportunity.

          1. Sid_finster

            Turbocharged Keynesianism. Better than burying piles of money in random locations, because cleanups pretty much have to be funded.

      2. The Rev Kev

        That CNN link was just handy as I was reading up on this a coupla years ago but cannot locate the original pages talking about this. Remember that the link mentioned that those workers had to go through a BP doctor so I can guess what that means.
        This came up in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill back in 2010 and the health problems that the workers were experiencing as well as the people that lived there. If you are not willing to believe the people experiences there, then I have a great vacation house to sell you on the Gulf.
        Dahr Jamail did a few stories on this and you can find some of his stories at if you want to follow it up as well as at Dahr Jamail is in the same league as Eva Bartlett & Vanessa Beeley – reporters who actually go to places that they are writing about and cop flack for reporting what they see – and is a good writer as well. You should read some of them.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I was intrigued by your link and I did a bit of a search – I can’t find anything in Google Scholar on worker mortality related to clean-ups. Wikipedia says that the original claim about high mortality came from a local Alaskan attorney, but he says its based on a limited number as BP won’t release the names of all workers.

          I’d be prepared to believe anything about BP and the chemicals they use, but I don’t think there is anything concrete behind that specific claim – I’d be very surprised if they could suppress stories of such a huge mortality rate.

          Having said that, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the use of dispersants and detergents on oil spills actually makes things much worse – they are almost entirely used for PR and cosmetic reasons.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Going into Google to dig out these old stories? Challenge accepted (adjusts Fedora hat, leather jacket and bull whip)! Man, this is a lot tougher than I thought that it would be. The results are fouled by the 2010 spill over the 1989 spill. OK, here is what I found. Those claims on CNN may or may not be true. The reason that I say that is because there has never been a study on the health effects on those 1989 workers – ever! Access to the health records are controlled by Exxon as that Alaskan attorney found but that all goes back to what health info was collected back then. Exxon also denied government investigators access to these same records so the government backed down. Saying all that, I did find the magical search term and that is “Valdez Crud” as that was what the workers called the epidemic that was plaguing those 11,000 workers back then. There are some good articles that I did find on the health issues.
            One is at Price of Oil at while a great one on the effects on people is at and yes, black urine can be a thing. Mother Jones did a story back in ’03 at but I could not find the original story that I was looking for. I did find one that said that “a large number of the cleanup workers were transient. They traveled there for the work, and then they left, and nobody kept records of where they can be found now.” which is of course BS as a lot of the workers were, I believe, from the local Indians.
            The long and short of it is that the health effects have been buried. Same for the soldiers after Vietnam with Agent Orange for coupla decades, same with Gulf War syndrome after the Gulf War One, same with the 9/11 workers cleaning up the WTC site, and same now with the burn pits of Iraq and the present generation of soldiers. I would say that any institution that would initiate such a study would be defunded rapidly and the government refuses to follow up. And that is where we are with this story.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . its not BP’s country anyway, is it? So why would BP care anyway? The Great Australian Bight is just another Niger Delta to BP . . . just as the Gulf of Mexico is just another Niger Delta to BP. A quibble arises to the effect that . . . the Niger Delta is Shell’s Monument, not BP’s Monument. To which BP would probably reply . . . why should Shell get to have all the fun? Why can’t BP have a Niger Delta?

    3. John Zelnicker

      @The Rev Kev
      April 7, 2018 at 10:00 am
      And then there was the BP oil spill of April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded killing 11 and befouling the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. It also effectively destroyed the fishing industry for several years.

      I haven’t heard anything about reduced life expectancy, but it was only 8 years ago so that effect may not have had time to show up.

      There have been reports of clean-up workers and others with unexpected illnesses that most likely came from contact with the oil or Corexit, the dispersant used to try to break down the oil. Corexit is just about as toxic as the oil itself, and it wasn’t very effective.

      I have never been able to understand how anyone can think that a disaster can bring some kind of benefit to those impacted. A burst of spending to rebuild after a disaster never makes up for the losses from the disaster.

    4. Fraibert

      A significant problem raised here is media reliability.

      With the internet, it should not be too difficult to validate a claim of substantial mortality rates arising from the Exxon Valdez spill. The fact raises a concerning issue about CNN, to my mind.

      1. Procopius

        When the CEO of CNN can publicly say, “Trump was a disaster for the United States but great for CNN,” and not be strung up from a nearby lamppost, then you can figure that very little that is true is being presented on any of the MSM.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    Lev Golinkin asks some very disturbing questions at the end of his article ” When We Can’t Agree To Fight Against Neo-Nazis, We’ve Reached A New Low.”

    And here are the disturbing questions . . .
    “Have we reached a juncture at which a lawmaker must defend himself for removing weapons of war from white supremacists? Has dialogue in America degraded to the point where Russia can be used to attack people for fighting anti-Semitism?”

    I am not sure if we have reached that juncture for sure, but if we definitively have reached that juncture, let us remember who has dragged us and brought us to that juncture. And who is that who has racised and antirussianised and pro-nazified the climate to this degree and possibly brought us to this juncture? It is precisely and exactly the Clintonite Democrats.
    It is Clinton herself firstest and mostest of allest. And then it is every dirty little supporter she has in that antirussianitic racist antirussianite effort of hers . . . her every dirty little Obama, her every dirty little Brennan, her every dirty little Clapper, her every dirty little piece-of-filth supporter who pleases to call Senator Sanders a “racist” to provide diversionary cover for their own antirussianitic antirussianite racism.

    Let’s lay this turd at the door of its own toilet. Clinton. And all her Clintonites.

    1. Indrid COLD

      Where is “Antifa” on all this? I never see the purple hair millennial goo squads screeching on the Twitters about punching Nazis in Ukraine where there are real Nazis complete with Halloween costumery.

        1. Indrid Cold

          Heh! Goon Squads. They love getting into a good street brawl or sucker punching glasses wearing goobers like Richard Spencer. But I doubt they are up to the challenge of taking on hard core roughnecks like the Azov Battalion.
          “Goo” is courtesy of my iPads auto correct, which ruins most of my attempts at snarky humor on Twitter as well.

          1. Matt

            So you’re angry that anti-fascists in the U.S. aren’t backing up and heading to Ukraine? Do they have a responsibility to fight them there first?

      1. Sid_finster

        To be fair, having lived many years in Ukraine and having gotten into a few physical confrontations with actual Ukrainian Nazis – they aren’t really all that brave, at least when it comes to people able to fight back.

        Unarmed civilians, women, old men, statues, they’re real heroes when it comes to taking those on, however.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Facebook exec: If you want privacy, expect to pay for it New York Post (J-LS) And why should one trust them?

    Definitely an improvement from the USSR days when everyone was under surveillance by the KGB, taxes paid or unpaid.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The only patriotic thing to do, then, is to track everyone in the world.

        “Llife-time president, Xi, we know all your secrets.”

        1. witters

          Look (and I’ll give up after this) this is the change to the 3rd paragraph, Article 79 of China’s Constitution:

          “The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China is the same as that of the National People’s Congress, and they shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” became “The term of office of the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China is the same as that of the National People’s Congress.”

          No mention here of “President-for-life.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            It reads like it’s possible he could be another Mao, though there is no guarantee that he retains supreme control for his life. But he’s not limited technically.-

            Even if he was named president for life, he could still be removed.

            So, he’s perhaps no less powerful without that technicality.

            And many presidents-for-life were known to be for-life only afterwards, as they had to be elected once so often (mere formality one would assume).

    1. Craig H.

      If you want privacy do not engage with facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat or any of those industry agents. They are all lying sacks of camel dung.

      The NPR piece about the Paris lawyer suing google to get slander scrubbed from search histories was the best thing I have seen all week. The guy has souvenirs in his office from grateful clients on every continent. If the panopticon turns its eyes on you I am afraid you have no choice but to hire a cyber civil rights attorney. That can’t be cheap.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “When we can’t agree to fight against neo-Nazis, we’ve reached a new low”

    Time to get our big-boy pants on for some nasty truths. In the same way that the west recruits, trains, equips, transports and supplies Jihadists in the middle east and other places like Afghanistan, it also supports neo-nazis in the European mainland. It was only a few months ago, in fact, that the US voted against a United Nations resolution to condemn the glorification of Nazism because of “free speech”. The only other countries to vote with the US here were Ukraine and Palau.
    Would it surprise anyone to learn that Lithuania and Latvia have annual marches by neo-Nazis through their respective capitals? There is a “Legionnaires Day” march in Riga which was originally for SS war veterans but honours now those who fought with the Nazis and Lithuania has the same. In Ukraine the neo-Nazis are actually part of the government and have expressed a desire for a greater Ukraine. Poland and Hungary, both of whom have minorities of their citizens living on the Ukrainian side of the border, have expressed alarm at what is happening with their compatriots.
    If you ever wanted to experience what the old torchlight parades were like in Nazi Germany then the good news is that you can experience them in the Ukraine now. These men made up the front line troops for the putsch in the Ukraine so have proved very useful. And now countries like the US, UK and Canada are training them as regular soldiers. Personally I have never understood the mentality of a person that is an out and out Nazi. I only know what should be done with them.

    1. Summer

      I don’t know why this is a surprise. There was lack of zeal by the same establisment about fighting the original Nazis and post-WWII accountability. “The Devil’s Chessboard” is one of the more recent books that gets into that.
      And fighting Hitler was different than an all out battle against fascism.
      Even today, fighting someone labeled a “Hitler” shouldn’t be confused with what fighting fascism and Nazism would actually look like.

      1. Procopius

        There was plenty of reporting around about how the U.S. protected Nazi war criminals. Heck, General Reinhard Gehlen was employed by the CIA to run an anti-Communist “intelligence” service. I enjoyed some schadenfreude when his secretary was revealed to be a Stasi agent. Then, after his death, it came out that the whole organization had been controlled by the Soviets for years. Lots of high-ranking generals were known anti-semites and fascist sympathizers who firmly believed we should have been allied with Germany first, to destroy the Soviet Union and only afterward fight against them.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How Trump’s Tariff Game Might Play Out Benjamin Studebaker (UserFriendly)

    I wonder if Trump will demand a guarantee that Americans’ sons will not be threatened with the end of the Dollar as the global reserve currency.

    Like Corleone did.

    “I am a superstitious man, a ridiculous failing but I must confess it here. And so if some unlucky accident should befall the mighty dollar, my superstition will make me feel that it was the result of the ill will still borne me by some people here.”

  14. Summer

    Re:Facebook and paying for privacy

    “The sharing of data is essential for Facebook’s “social experiences,” like letting friends see your music playlist, she argued.”

    Here is another example of something that could actually be done without Facebook (email already had it covered – if we’re talking about actual “friends” and family that would have such contact information). Email providers also could sell info, but alot of them are telecoms that are regulated a bit more.
    The Facebook “social experience” is about sharing your “social experience” with Facebook.
    Is it accurate to say Facebook could be described as a webpage that includes an email account that is designed to look different than a regular email account?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Actually, for me FB is mainly a source of email – they send me a message when something happens on connected accounts. Since I don’t spontaneously go to FB, it helps me keep in touch. So, yes.

      There is also a separate messaging system, that doesn’t appear on your FB page. Took me years to even realize it was there.

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: ‘David and Goliath situation’: How New York City poop became a rural Alabama town’s problem

    Many coastal liberals consider Alabama a “deep red” state that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, and therefore deserves being drowned in New York City excrement.

    Finally, a “legitimate” reason to demand that Alabama literally eat new york’s sh*t. I guess that’s one of those regional american “differences” that Russia “exacerbated” with it’s “stolen” facebook data to get Trump elected.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      There has to be a sci-fi/horror movie in there, considering human cells are present in the excrement. Mutant New Yorkers arise from the containers following a solar flare/space incident (Chinese space lab spews radiation over the containers after an uncontrolled deorbit?) to savage and terrorize a small rural Alabama town.

      1. ambrit

        There are several sci-fi/horror movies already here, such as:
        “CNN: Your brains belong us.”
        “MSNBC: Attack of the Prog People.”
        “Fox News: Flowers for Clintonen” Later remade as “Slick Willie Wanker.”
        “PBS: Do Not Adjust Your Dial.”
        “NYT: All the news that’s fit to fake.”
        “WaPo HuffPo PoPo: Evolution of a meme.”
        I could go on but it’s time for my Soma.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      when I was a kid they had Sally Struthers on TV telling me for 35 cents a day I could feed a child living in one of the mud huts in the unnamed poor country behind her. I asked my mom where that was, and I distinctly remember her telling me “many people in other places in the world are very poor and have very little, without enough food or water. Many people don’t even have a place to go to the bathroom.”

      Since then I’ve always strongly mentally associated third world countries with insufficient, inefficient or nonexistent sanitation. It would seem life comes at a declining superpower fast.

      1. Procopius

        I’ve gotta say, in the poorest rural area I’ve visited in Thailand, people had a place to shit, even if it was a hole in the ground. I have read that there are areas in the rural South that do not.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers Big Law (Paul R)

    And not politicians?

    There was speculation that some candidates wanted to avoiding taking on the Blob, for the moment, perhaps to do something about it when elected (the hope of the progressives – how else to explain RussiaRussiaRussia).

    That is, you can’t catch them this way…monitoring journalists and bloggers. You can’t catch the silent ones, if you can’t trust the cheerleaders.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      War is Peace
      Freedom is Slavery
      Ignorance is Strength

      On to the Two Minutes Hate (Maddow) so we can shout at Puti- er, Goldstein…

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Artificial intelligence could soon enhance real-time police surveillance Awesome Investors (David L)

    A feature, not a bug.

    A question to be asked, every time, when you accept some research money.

    “Will my work lead, in some remotest way, to another Manhattan Project or something similar? Should I renounce my Ph.D. degree? There is no shame in being a fisherman, for example.”

  18. Edward E

    Saw something about that yesterday, I was wondering what was going on with the goats and why they couldn’t get down on their own. So one goat couldn’t make the ewe turn because the first one did the ewe turn and you know, stubborn.

    Saw five foxes in the snow this morning.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I think it’s cool that they rescued the goat (if I read the story correctly, they grabbed the one that couldn’t turn around and the other got off on its own). Wish people cared about people as much, though.

      1. wilroncanada

        We kept goats for 13 years on the Gulf Islands in BC, Canada. Great training for our daughters, all of whom are professionals now, great milk, fun kids every year.

      2. Lee

        Watching wild mountain goats navigate rock walls a thousand feet above the ground, I’d swear they could dance on air. I guess the domestic varieties are a bit less adept. I love that people bothered to organize the equipment and exercise the cleverness and courage to rescue them.

        1. Wukchumni

          We either see around 10 bighorn sheep or so gamboling up and down impossible cliffs alongside the Colorado River when we’re kayaking it, or none at all.

          No middle ground, as in no loner sheep.

          One time 3 years ago we watched sure-footed babies no longer than about 2 feet long that couldn’t have been more than a few months old, walking on 30 degree angled stuff, impressive!

      3. Edward E

        Why would someone attempt to kick a moose? They are really big. One crazy neighbor kicked a skunk and it sprayed him down really heavily. I told the family to use peroxide and baking soda mixed with soap if he ever does that again. Probably a good thing we don’t have moose. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen this guy who was trying to get charged by an elk? It didn’t quite work out the way he wished but… the power of scents.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for a great morning laugh for the story about your crazy neighbour kicking a skunk. That story was hilarious.

          1. Edward E

            Y/w Yep, the power of nonsense… Makes me so happy to get folks to still laugh a little in this uptight world. Truthfully, we do have our characters out here in the boondocks. One other neighbor brews a delicious persimmon beer, the scents of the brewing process causes a huge cloud of gnats follow him around.

      4. Minsky Moment

        The goat story….

        Shouldn’t someone rescue a political neophite old goat by the name of Tinpot McCrackPot from his inetelectual and organisational girder? If there is no crane available due to the number of potholes in the swamp being repaired couldn’t the CIA send in a snatch drone?


  19. Altandmain

    Andrew Cuomo and how he screwed student debtors over:

    Keep in mind that this man wants to run for President in 2020 along with Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and a few other corrupt neoliberals.

    Tesla Reliability

    Apparently people’s Tesla’s are dying right after delivery now:

    The question is what percentage of cars shipped have these failures. You should expect some degree of validation in the plant.

        1. Wukchumni

          “The Twentieth Century Motor Car Corporation was an automobile company started by con-artist Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, in 1974. The company’s flagship vehicle was the Dale, a prototype three-wheeled two-seater sports car designed and built by Dale Clifft. It was touted as being powered by an 850 cc air-cooled engine and featuring 70 mpg‑US (3.4 L/100 km; 84 mpg‑imp) fuel economy and a $2,000 (in 1974 US dollars) price, which were popular specifications during the mid 1970s US fuel crisis.[2]

          Carmichael claimed to be the widow of a NASA structural engineer, a farm girl from Indiana, and mother of five. In reality, she had been wanted by the police since 1961 for alleged involvement in a counterfeiting operation. She had since changed her name, as she was a trans woman. The company would ultimately prove to be fraudulent when Carmichael went into hiding with investors’ money.”

    1. UserFriendly

      I kind of want to punch Cynthia Nixon’s campaign manager for not mentioning that she should be courting Labour in a state like NY on day one, not throwing them under the bus. That move alone might cost her the win.

  20. integer

    Abby Martin interview critical of Israel is blocked by YouTube in 28 countries RT

    An episode of Abby Martin’s Empire Files, featuring journalist Max Blumenthal and spotlighting rising militarism in Israel, has been blocked by YouTube in 28 countries, including Israel and the UK, for violating “local laws.”

    Last year, YouTube invited the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to join its “Trusted Flagger” system. The ADL defines opposition to Israel’s system of apartheid as a form of anti-Semitism. Blumenthal told RT that he believes the ADL is likely behind the suppression of his interview with Martin.

      1. Sid_finster

        I must also have been an anti-Semite, and for all these years.

        Funny that the guy who ripped down Nazi posters and got into physical confrontations with Nazis in Ukraine is now an anti-Semite, even if he didn’t know it himself.

    1. The Rev Kev

      By coincidence, I was just watching the new Jimmy Dore show called “YouTube Admits Not Notifying Subscribers & Screwing With Algorithms” at which talks about this same subject. They are trying to push out the independent journalist and just have YouTube feature the MSM for all news.

    1. Fraibert

      This is where government is supposed to act.

      I have no doubt that the relevant terms of service and privacy policies permit Google’s (or [other tech company name]’s) actions. When I read them (and yes, I do sometimes read them out of interest), I’ve noticed they grant the relevant company a wide swathe of information access.

      From a strictly legal standpoint, these contracts are in most respects going to be enforceable at law–the end user receives access to a financially free service in exchange for various rights to information on the tech company’s end. Moreover, no one is compelling the end user to use the service or otherwise forcing him or her into the contract, generally speaking these contracts are agreed to online so there’s no time pressure or person pushing the prospective user to sign, etc. The fact that the contracts are often legalese (meaning not necessarily understandable by the average user) does not matter, as is well known.

      In a case such as this, if people object to a tech company’s actions and want to ensure that said company cannot continue the same line of behavior in the future, that’s why we have legislation.

    2. ewmayer

      [Aside: the #… stuff at end of your link appears to be another form of url tracking-spam … I deleted it before loading the article in my browser]

      My question to such outraged Google users would be why, given Google’s dismal track record with regard to user privacy (e.g. Gmail scanning the content of every e-mail and doing who-knows-what with it) and Facebook-style “our users *are* the product” business model, why would they be in the least bit surprised by this discovery about Chrome?

    1. Carey

      Thanks for the heads-up on Tim Canova. Just sent him a small donation. I wonder why Sanders is choosing to
      not support him?

    2. Oregoncharles

      As an independent, he’ll appear in the main election and potentially knock Wasserman-Schultz out. If he can pull off a 3-way split, he might even win. That’s plurality voting for you.

      It’s classic retaliation. That might be why Bernie isn’t supporting him – it would cause trouble with the party.

    1. pretzelattack

      they don’t let him write very often, but i’ll take what i can get. don’t always agree, but he’s worth reading.

  21. Carey

    The framing chosen by the author of the NPR piece- ‘Paris lawyer gives Google nightmares’- seems more than
    a little suspect to me. Free speech v Privacy? Mmm.

    1. Craig H.

      My take was the author was trying to be fair to google, and was being overly fair. Google isn’t being consistent in their presentation and they are just throwing everything out there that might be relevant. This isn’t free speech v privacy, as much as it is free speech v protection against insult, against embarrassment, against libel. Google’s concern is they want to run their business cheaply and robotically. They do not want to ever write to or talk to a user. Thus they ignore any problems the free speech of some users may cause to other users.

      The folks at google do not care about free speech and they do not care about privacy. They care about profits.

  22. JBird

    “According to the ABLE Commission the brewery had not paid a ‘brand registration fee’ for the beer that was to be given away to teachers,” reports KOKH. “So, the ABLE officers took the donated teacher beer and issued a citation to Patriarch.”

    Pardon me, but can anyone tell me wtf is a brand registration fee, and why does the effectively broke Oklahoma state government have the inclination, time, manpower, money, and goofyness to a) read FaceBorg and b) raid a single glorified kegger party? Really? For adults?

    I was angry at first, but now I am giggling at my keyboard. It’s so silly, petty, and politically blind. The Evuhl, Evulh just took some beer out of the hands of some teachers because rules. Okay. I wonder if the police are enjoying the confiscated contraband.

    1. Fraibert

      My guess the Oklahoma agency did it out of reflex without any particular political intention.

      Though, presented in the overall political context, the outcome does appear quite silly.

      I would guess that someone invited to share the keg (probably a disgruntled teacher or administrator) reported the matter to Oklahoma’s ABLE Commission–it’s doubtful that the state agency searches Facebook for violators. Apparently, Oklahoma requires alcohol brands sold in the state (except for beer manufactured in-state) to register the brand label with ABLE and pay a fee ( The requirement is on an annual basis.

      It doesn’t sound like the involved parties had the required registration. (Supporting this possibility, I noticed that the confiscated brew, by Roughtail Breweries, isn’t listed on that company’s website, suggesting it might be a specially-made one.) In such a case, bureaucracy being bureaucracy, the outcome is what happened here.

      I was just curious to do more research, as it sounded quite petty. But when laid out as above, it makes sense.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And in other news, there’s this as part of the Great Myth that’s being built around the rush to gin up a War with Russia:

      Staff at secretive defence centre Porton Down suffer low morale and lack confidence in leadership, survey reveals
      Labour claims that ‘even this world-leading laboratory is being undermined by the government’s refusal to invest in our services’

      The wonderful syntactically and grammatically challenged takeaway:

      Labour MP Stephanie Peacock told The Independent: “All this week has shown too clearly, Porton Down is in the front line of developing Britain from attacks like the Salisbury poisoning. But these disturbing results show that even this world-leading laboratory is being undermined by the government’s refusal to invest in our services, with millions of pounds and hundreds of staff axed under the Tories.
      “Our scientists are at the global forefront of protecting people here and abroad from chemical and biological warfare or terrorism, and they deserve better.
      “The consequence of Tory cuts are now being laid bare. On their watch, the morale of defence staff is falling as fast as their budgets are. When ministers’ own civil servants have no confidence in their leadership, it is clear that the government is letting down the people who work hard to keep us safe.”
      But a Conservative defence source replied: “Given their love for the little red book, perhaps it isn’t surprising Labour is now turning to the Kremlin’s playbook for inspiration, using disinformation tactics to try and score cheap political points from a chemical weapons attack on British soil.”

      So, is this an attack on the credibility of Porton Downs, where the management has declined to go all in on the “Nunvichuk” meme, in aid of impeaching their inconclusiveness in “supporting” the Narrative? Coupleid with a slam on the Labourites, and of course a pitch for Moar DefenceSpending.

      We humans are (familyblogg)ed, ain’t we?

    2. integer

      Very convenient. Just what the UK government needs to take the focus off Skripalgate.

      One member of White Helmets told Al Jazeera that an entire family had suffocated to death as they hid in their cellar, trying to seek shelter from air raids and barrel bombs.

      Ah, barrel bombs, yesterday’s outrage. As I expect many here know, the founder of the White Helmets is “ex” British millitary intelligence officer James Le Mesurier, a committed NATO interventionalist. Anyway, I wonder if the western corporate media are going to mention the two jihadi chemical weapons labs recently discovered in East Ghouta by the Syrian army. Just kidding, of course they won’t.

  23. Henrietta

    From the article ‘What Happened To The Cultural Elites: The Capitalist Celebration’ –

    “The plain fact is that although inequality is a central issue in politics and economic life, economists didn’t study it. Neither Krugman nor Fox gets to the root of the problem: why didn’t economists think this was an important problem? After all, making a living and accumulating wealth are the most important economic issues for every single member of society, and they know that politics matters. So why weren’t there dozens of competing models working off tons of data? I can’t think of an explanation that doesn’t make economists as a group complicit in the basic neoliberal program of transferring wealth and power to the economic elites.”

    Another point for serious legal case and social backlash(non-violent) against the economic profession. Unless some tenures are lost and professors jailed, they won’t learn.

    1. JBird

      Another point for serious legal case and social backlash(non-violent) against the economic profession. Unless some tenures are lost and professors jailed, they won’t learn.

      I do loathe the prostituting of economics. It is true though, that if one wanted to have an actual job as an economist following orthodoxy was a requirement, especially in the United States, where the neoliberal campaign against ungood thought was very effective. I think, if that campaign was stopped, there wil not be a need to jail, or fire, anyone.

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