Links 5/10/18

What to Know Before You Go Tracking Snow Leopards at 13,000 Feet Bloomberg

Move Over Chernobyl, Fukushima is Now Officially the Worst Nuclear Power Disaster in History Defend Democracy Press

The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans Grist. “‘We must all find a way to collectively use less water while respecting the Law of the River,’ [Kathryn Sorensen, director of Phoenix’s Water Services Department] says. ‘That’s of course a tricky proposition because the Law of the River is basically the most complex governance structure ever created by human beings.'” It’s Lake Mead, Jake.

Ford forced to stop all F-150 production because of supplier fire Detroit Free Press. That’s “fire” and “explosions,” plural. Ford is calling this a “black swan event,” but there was a (smaller) fire at this Meridian Magnesium Products facility a year ago. Here’s a photo of the plant, post-fire (via). Not looking good. Typically, your factory that catches on fire is a less-than-ideal place to work, so I wonder what the shop floor was like. And how Ford ended up with no redundancy in their supply chain for a critical part. Automotive maven readers?

We don’t take cash’: is this the future of money? FT

Why Positive Money is wrong Tax Research UK

Will blockchain run afoul of GDPR? (Yes and no) ComputerWorld


Northern Labour MPs are rebelling against Jeremy Corbyn to demand a second Brexit referendum Business Insider

Grenfell Tower: fire-resistant cladding plan was dropped Guardian

Italian populist parties on verge of deal to govern FT


In China’s cities, young people with rural ties are angry Economist

How powerful is China’s military? Deutsche Welle

Asia Power Index 2018 Lowy Institute

All Roads Lead to Eurasia: infrastructural change on the steppe Cable Magazine

Malaysia General Election 2018 Bloomberg. A live blog; see the handy timeline at right: “Malaysia’s Opposition Coalition Wins Majority in Election as Mahathir Pulls Off Stunning Upset.”

A night at the padang: How Malaysians witnessed history being made Channel News Asia. The headline does not exaggerate; the losing party had ruled for 61 years, and democratic transitions are not a given in that part of the world.

North Korea

Upbeat Trump welcomes U.S. prisoners released by North Korea Reuters


Background Briefing on President Trump’s Decision To Withdraw From the JCPOA U.S. Department of State

The art of breaking a deal Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (KW).

Israel Struck ‘Almost All of the Iranian Infrastructure in Syria,’ Defense Chief Says Haaretz

Netanyahu heads for Putin talks after Trump pullout from Iran deal Agence France Presse

US turns economic might on its allies over Iran FT

Europeans scramble to save Iran nuclear deal but face new concerns over U.S. sanctions WaPo

Iran Extends Its Reach Just as Trump Tries to Isolate It Bloomberg

India Ducks Stand on Trump and Iran, Wants All Sides to ‘Engage Constructively’ The Wire (J-LS).

Trump Transition

Gina Haspel: As If Nuremberg Never Happened The American Conservative. Re-upping this. Of course, if Democrats wanted to govern, Obama would have prosecuted the torturters (as he would have prosecuted the banksters). And here we are!

How Michael Cohen, Denied Job in White House, Was Seen as Its Gatekeeper NYT

Democrats in Disarray

Democrats in a New York County Refuse to Pledge Loyalty to Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them The Intercept

Likely 2020 Democratic Candidates Want To Guarantee A Job To Every American NPR. With a big picture of Cory Booker, who wants to do a pilot program. Come on.

Facebook Fracas

Why Am I Seeing This Ad? The Effect of Ad Transparency on Ad Effectiveness (PDF) Tami Kim, Kate Barasz, and Leslie K. John, Journal of Consumer Research. “Drawing on literature about offline norms of information-sharing, we posit that ad transparency backfires when it exposes marketing practices that violate norms about ‘information flows’—consumers’ beliefs about how their information ought to move between parties.”

Irish Judge Slaps Down Facebook’s Attempt To Halt EU’s Top Court Examining The Legality Of Sending Personal Data To US TechDirt

And for His Next Act, Ev Williams Will Fix the Internet NYT. Thread: “It’s like asking Jay Gould how to ‘fix’ the railroads.”

‘Disappearing’ Signal Messages Are Stored Indefinitely on Mac Hard Drives Vice

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Black student reported to YPD for napping in dormitory common room Yale Daily News. #NappingWhileBlack…

Freedom of Assembly Article 20 Network (RK).

Two Weeks in the Capital n+1. Mexico City.

Class Warfare

Subway Woes? Don’t Blame Workers Labor Notes (Huey Long).

How do you draw the line between volunteer work and unpaid labour? Nature (HM). “In April, Michael Molino, an English professor and an associate dean at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, sent an email to department chairs that outlined a plan to seek ‘qualified alumni to join the SIU Graduate Faculty in a zero-time (adjunct) status.’ The appointments would last for three years. The letter encourages department chairs to nominate ‘some of your finest former students who are passionate about supporting SIU.'” “Passionate” is one of those words….

Fighting the Fees That Force Prisoners to Pay for Their Incarceration Truthout

Corporate “multiculturalism” in Walmart’s company town Scalawag

Poulantzas Revisited: State, Classes and Socialist Transition; An Interview with Panagiotis Sotiris Viewpoint Magazine

Showing the way in San José – how Costa Rica gets it right Joseph Stiglitz, Guardian

Quinn Slobodian – Globalists Crooked Timber

For Economic Truth Turn To Michael Hudson Paul Craig Roberts (!).

Antidote of the day (via):

Bonus antidote:

And an anti-antidote. Nature red in tooth and claw (JK):

JK writes: “Mr Sprinkles is an avid sportsman. He has sitting next to the tree this morning and i went to get a picture of him looking very distinguished when he heard the dove land on the bird feeder. The squirrel is fairly sure he is safe but there is some worry there. Actually, I see mania, panic, and worry all in one photo. If only complacency could have worked its way in somewhere.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. cnchal

    Meridian Magnesium Products fire

    . . . Not looking good. Typically, your factory that catches on fire is a less-than-ideal place to work, so I wonder what the shop floor was like. . .

    The supplier, Chinese-owned Meridian Magnesium Products, has not confirmed timelines. UAW officials have warned Ford workers to be prepared for layoffs.
    “You don’t have multiple suppliers for a complicated part like this one. You have specialty manufacturers because it’s more efficient,” he said. “And you can’t just take molds for the casting and ship them to another plant or supplier overseas.”
    Despite the damage at the 208,000-square-foot plant, some workers were told they could return to work that day, the State Journal reported. “The blaze apparently originated in an area of the plant called the ‘tunnel,’ where workers put magnesium scraps on a conveyor belt to be melted down.”

    My bet is the place is a hellhole.

    All Chinese companies are arms of the Chinese government, so it was a strategic purchase of technology and production capacity.

    I wonder when workers there will be relegated to living in a dorm shack like Tyson’s broiler chickens in a cage, just like Apple’s workers in China?

    1. Jim A.

      Magnesium scraps? Burning magnesium is a VERY BAD thing. it is profoundly difficult to put out because it reacts with water to produce hydrogen gas. About the only think you can do is put a non flamable powder on it, often finely ground salt, to keep air out and conduct heat away. Unless the fire is small enough to be put out with a class D fire extinguisher (and they are not overly effective) one usually just tries to isolate it and let it burn it’s way through. At a guess, at least some of the explosions were when water being sprayed to try and keep the surrounding area cool enough to prevent spread flowed down into the pit, reacting with the burning Mg.

      1. Sid Finster

        That is why they no longer make mag wheels out of actual magnesium.

        IIRC, the DoT banned it.

      2. cnchal

        One would think that Flippy the fired burger flipping robot could get a jawb there, but there is a problem. It doesn’t have legs to run away in case of fire.

      3. ChrisPacific

        I remember burning a (very small) scrap of magnesium in high school chemistry lab. If you ever wanted an illustration of the phrase “the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns,” you could do a lot worse. The idea of a large volume of the stuff catching fire is terrifying.

        1. Wukchumni

          Magnesium fire starters have been around for quite awhile, just scrape off some shavings with a knife and combine with a bit of kindling-light it, and instant raging fuego.

          I prefer a Bic lighter…

      4. ewmayer

        The quoted snip said “melted down”, not “burned”. But your point about needing to keep it away from water is important … while (like Al) Mg scraps in air quickly acquire a protective oxide layer, Mg’s very low melting point implies that a reaction involving any more than miniscule amounts of Mg and H2O will very easily lead to the released H2 combusting and melting more Mg, which at some point flash over into the Mg burning directly, either with any ambient air or even completely submerged in water. Or if some MG scrap gets caught in the mechanics of, say, a conveyor belt, the resulting frictional grinding could very easily produce enough heat, sparking and powdered oxide-free Mg to ignite. The stuff is so reactive that not only will it burn in water (hence its use in marine flares such as used by divers), it will also burn in atmospheres of pure N2 and CO2[!]. Wikipedia mentions that in the allied firebombings f WW2, “the only practical civil defense was to smother a burning flare under dry sand to exclude atmosphere from the combustion.” Article further notes that U.S. was traditionally the major world supplier of Mg (45% in as late as 1995), that is now down to a mere 7%, with China having 80% of the world market share. (I’m not sure how these stats count Mg supplied by e.g. Chinese-owned U.S. plants such as figure here.)

        Also, while old-style “Mag wheels” may have gone out, Mg alloyed with Al is still widely used in such applications (as well as lightweight engine blocks and car-body parts), with aerospace being a special growth market there.

        1. Jim A.

          I didn’t mean to imply that they were intentionally burning it, but once it catches fire….it is a bad thing. As you said it is easy to imagine ways in which it could be caught in machinery and create enough friction to catch fire. I’d guess that time, familiarity, and production pressure led people to slowly de-emphasize the safety protocols.

    2. Craig H.

      > black swan event

      The fire is not funny. Ford having a person talking to the business press like this is hilarious. If I was running Ford I would fire that guy right after I fired the team who designed the pickup trucks’ supply line to have this one critical pathway. Every one of them. I would be like Darth Vader on the bridge of the death star I would be so pissed.

      This is one fourth of all their sales.

      Could this happen in a million years at Toyota or Honda? That’s what I would like to know.

      1. bronco

        Ford is jealous that Tesla cars burn hotter than their own so they are going to use a lot of magnesium in anything that doesn’t have batteries.

        “A column of smoke by day , a pillar of fire by night”

        “Ford cars and trucks on average out burn Teslas year over year ” , (courtesy of JD power and associates )

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Quote of the day regarding Tesla, from

          Mountain View Fire Chief Juan Diaz said, “In this particular case, six days later, the temperature inside those cells increased to the point of ignition. That’s why the car reignited. You have stored energy that is frankly unstable.

          And there are people arguing out there that we ought to have large batteries in our houses, to help smooth out the grid disturbances caused by intermittent renewable power.

          1. cnchal

            Second quote of the day regarding Tesla and the latest tragedy.


            Two Florida high school seniors were killed and one was severely injured Tuesday night when the Tesla they were driving in crashed into a concrete wall and burst into flames, police said.

            A third student, backseat passenger Alexander Barry, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, was reportedly thrown from the car on impact. His condition wasn’t immediately clear, but friend George Aloia told WPLG he was “pretty banged up.”

            A rare event where not buckling up saved a life.

            From now on, I am going to pay extra attention when around these cars and give it a wide berth. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a Tesla driver and occupants being immolated in an accident, no matter whose fault.

            If this is the big hazard with electric cars, new types of crash testing will be required to establish minimum safety standards. This is really bad. The way some get driven, with their ridiculous power (I saw a Tesla X at a freeway speed of 125 KM per hour accelerate to roughly 150+ KM per hour in a couple of eye blinks, perhaps it had the “Ludicrous Speed” upgrade) no doubt more of these horrible tragedies will happen.

            As for these types of batteries in a house, let’s hope they are put in a safe spot, not at the back of the garage where an application of throttle in the wrong gear means instant flash electrical fire.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Intentional or not, this shows America can’t do without Chinese (rare earths, suppliers, etc).

      That’s why we shouldn’t engage in trade wars (though one had been won already by China) now, and it will be even harder to engage them in the future.

      1. ambrit

        I’l go out on a limb here and suggest that some of the Paleos inside the Beltway are fondly remembering a “Trade War” the West did win: The Opium Wars.
        Is it any wonder the Chinese, who I’ll guess have long memories, want to beef up, (no pun intended) their physical armed forces?

        1. Wukchumni

          Fortune cookie saying:

          When an adversary is content to throw away their advantages, let them do so with reckless abandon.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Opium Wars were fought less than 200 years ago.

          That’s recent history for people with long memories.

          The Mongols, from Mongolia, brought in all those hated Persian tax farmers – they should be remembered, though very few even know about that. Perhaps it is a case of repressed traumatic memories. The next dynasty, the Ming dynasty, purged most of the records from the infamous period preceding theirs.

          It is for that reason that the first Blue and White porcelain was thought to have been fired in the Ming dynasty. That Han-chauvinistic idea persisted for hundreds of years, until the 1950’s when an American researcher proved otherwise. Before that, pieces that would appraise for millions of dollars today were routinely treated as cheap, worthless.

          1. Wukchumni

            Used to be say 30 years ago when you could hardly give away Chinese or Russian coins, when all other western countries aged metal discs were hotly desired, and now it’s flipped over backwards, and values of western country coins have fallen on hard times, while values have skyrocketed on China & Russia coins.

            It’s fascinating to watch from afar, as the Chinese equivalent of Franklin Mint garbage from the 1970’s now worth only the metal value here, in particular has gone up mightily in various commemorative issuances from the 1980’s onwards.

  2. dcrane

    Move Over Chernobyl, Fukushima is Now Officially the Worst Nuclear Power Disaster in History

    I was surprised to read that “Total atmospheric releases from Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl”.

    Also this: “Professor Komei Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or years.”

    1. Expat

      TEPCO is a joke. They have had numerous accidents but Japanese culture (and American politics and capitalism) have kept them from the front pages. TEPCO has lied flat out about Fukushima from the beginning and obviously continues to do so.

      Fukushima, like Chernobyl, is totally out of control. A nuclear physicist (a woman whose name escapes me) already said years ago that Fukushima was a disaster of life-killing proportions. If another quake or tsunami hits the site, the coolant pools will collapse and release enough radioactivity into the atmosphere and ocean to kill all life on Earth with a month in the norther hemisphere and two to three in the southern hemisphere. The fuel in two (three?) reactors has escaped all containment. No one even knows where most of it is. Meanwhile there are thousands of water tanks filled with radioactive water in addition to the millions of liters that have flowed out to sea.

      There is probably nothing to be done for Fukushima other than pray (why don’t believers pray BEFORE the shit hits the fan, I wonder?) so maybe we should listen to Tepco’s lies and smile after all.

      1. Wukchumni

        Perhaps there will be stories in the future as to how the sea got radioactive?

        There are many folk tales in regards to how the sea got salty, here’s the Philippine variant:

        “Many years ago, the sea tasted like ordinary rainwater. It was bland and tasteless. Fortunately, the people living in the islands knew about a friendly giant who kept mounds of salt in his cave.
        The people would cross the ocean on their boats to reach the gentle giant’s island, and that is how they were able to bring salt back to their villages, in order to prepare tastier meals.

        One time, however, the ocean was quite rough and they could not sail out to gather salt. They eventually ran out of salt and the villagers no longer enjoyed their tasteless meals. They wondered how they could get salt again, when a child suggested they ask the giant to stretch out his legs over the ocean so that they could walk to his island instead.

        The kind giant agreed, and villagers with empty salt sacks walked along the giant’s leg. Unfortunately, the giant’s foot landed on an anthill, and the ferocious red ants started biting the enormous leg.

        As soon as the people reached the giant’s island, he immediately withdrew his foot and scratched the itchy bites. The villages just smiled at how a giant could be bothered by tiny ants.

        Anyway, the people got their salt and the giant again stretched his leg over the ocean. Immediately, the ants began biting his swollen foot. Once again, the giant asked the people to hurry up, but the heavy salt sacks slowed them down.

        Besides, the people didn’t believe that the tiny ants could really affect the giant, so they idly chatted away, and walked rather slowly.

        Before the villagers could cross the ocean, the giant cried out and thrust his ant-bitten foot into the ocean. All the packed salt fell into the plain-water sea and melted.

        The giant saved the people from drowning, but no one was able to recover the spilled salt. From that day onwards, the sea became salty.”

      2. begob

        If another quake or tsunami hits the site, the coolant pools will collapse and release enough radioactivity into the atmosphere and ocean to kill all life on Earth with a month in the norther hemisphere and two to three in the southern hemisphere.

        Wot? Could you provide a link, please? I searched about, but the only claim that came remotely close was on an Alex Jones site.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Beat me to it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs. It behooves us to remain reality-based here.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                Private Video
                Log in to watch (if you have permission)

                Advocacy video set to private-only viewing? Fail on multiple levels.

                Not that any video would likely constitute compelling objective evidence in any case.

                1. Expat

                  huh? You are saying that no matter what video is shown, you won’t change your mind? So why bother asking for it in the first place?

              2. hidflect

                enenews is trash. I personally debunked them a number of times while I was living in Tokyo during and after the crisis.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                There is absolutely nothing in this second link to bolster the specific contention that “If another quake or tsunami hits the site, the coolant pools will collapse and release enough radioactivity into the atmosphere and ocean to kill all life on Earth with a month in the norther hemisphere and two to three in the southern hemisphere.”

                Fukushima is a hot mess, but irresponsible, non reality-based alarmism will in the long term only serve to discredit responsible fact-based criticism of the site’s management.

                1. Wukchumni

                  When you think of all the after effects of nuclear tests for decades in the South Pacific by the USA, France & England, it doesn’t jive that Fukushima by it’s lonesome, could wreck the world, eh?

                  1. Conrad

                    True, but the sheer amount of radioactive material at Fukushima dwarfs a nuclear weapon test. There’s tonnes of stuff involved versus several kilograms per nuclear weapon.

                    Here’s a somewhat out of date comparison between Chernobyl and Fukushima. There’s 854 tonnes of nuclear fuel at Fukushima. Not enough to kill all life as we know it, but pretty bad to get into the foodchain anyhow.

                    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                      National Academy of Sciences is a credible source IMO. They published a report based on health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports — some 5,000 in all.

                      It concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident. That is between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004. More deaths, it projects, will follow.

                      But Fukushima is bigger and better. Go Japan! Banzai!

                    2. ewmayer

                      The “several kilograms” is only true in the very narrow sense of the fissile core of a nuke – a modern H-bomb only uses that as a kind of sparkplug, a primary nuclear blast which triggers a much larger (and hence much more radioactive) secondary fusion/fission reaction. One of my all-time favorite bits of science nonfiction writing is the following passage by Richard Rhodes in his H-bomb memoir Dark Sun on the setting-off by the U.S. of Ivy Mike, the first modern-style two-stage thermonuclear device (in which a flood of X-rays from a primary fission device is channeled and used to radiation-implode a heavy-hydrogen-based secondary) in November 1952 at Eniwetok atoll.

                      Note especially the parts about the heavy U238 pusher casing, which itself fissions upon exposure to the multi-MeV radiation from the fusion reaction it triggers. The result is that most of the energy from the blast is in fact from this secondary *fusion* reaction, hence the term fisson-fusion-fission device. When you add up all the stuff that fissions and fuses in one of the these big early H-bomb tests, it adds up to literal tons of material, and the snip concludes with “The explosion vaporized and lifted into the air some eighty million tons of solid material that would fall out around the world.” So in my judgment Expat’s doomsday claim is wildly and irresponsibly alarmist – which is not to say Fukushima isn’t a giant hot mess.

                      When the radio signal from the [USS] Estes control room reached Mike, the capacitors in the Mike primary, already charged by the primary battery, discharged into a harness of electrical cables around the primary that carried the high-voltage current simultaneously to the ninety-two electric detonators inserted into the primary’s high-explosive shell. (The increased number of detonators in the Mike primary made it possible to shape an implosion without using bulky high-explosive lenses, one way the TX-V device was made smaller and more transparent to radiation.) All ninety-two detonators fired with microsecond simultaneity; a detonation wave spread from each detonator, met other spreading donation waves moving inward and concentrating, emerged from the explosives as a shock wave, crossed to the aluminum pusher shell vaporizing as it passed, rocketed the pusher inward, crossed next to the primary’s heavy uranium tamper, liquefied and vaporized the tamper, moved the material to the uranium shell of the core, hammered the uranium shell inward across an air gap to the plutonium ball levitated within, hammered the plutonium ball and crushed the Urchin initiator levitated at the center of the assembly. At that moment of maximum compression, with the vaporizing mass of uranium and plutonium supercritical, the shock wave shaped by the Munroe-effect grooves in the beryllium shell of the Urchin sliced through the shell and mixed beryllium with the polonium plated onto the ball of beryllium inside; alpha particles from the radioactive polonium knocked half a dozen neutrons from the beryllium; the neutrons ejected into the surrounding supercritical mass of uranium and plutonium and a chain reaction began.

                      Eighty generations later – a few millionths of a second – X-radiation from the furiously heating fission fireball hotter than the center of the sun escaped the primary mass entirely, began to ablate the blast shield over the Mike secondary and flooded down the cylindrical radiation channel inside the Mike casing. Instantly the radiation penetrated the thick polyethylene lining of the casing and heated it to a plasma. The plasma reradiated X rays that shone simultaneously from all sides inward onto the surface of the heavy uranium pusher, heating it instantly to ablation. The ablating surface of the pusher drove it explosively inward even as it liquefied and vaporized. The intense pulse of pressure concentrated as it moved inward, closed the first vacuum gap, compressed the floating thermal shield, closed the next vacuum gap, compressed the outer and inner dewars, encountered the deep, cold mass of liquid deuterium, compressed the deuterium inward and started to heat it. As the pressure pulse that was heating the deuterium to thermonuclear temperatures converged upon itself down the long axis of the secondary, it encountered the [Plutonium-rod] fission sparkplug, imploded that cylindrical system and activated a second fission explosion boosted with high-energy neutrons from fusion reactions in the tritium gas the sparkplug compressed.

                      All these processes, proceeding through microseconds, prepared Mike for thermonuclear burning. Now the escaping X-radiation of the fissioning sparkplug heated the compressed deuterium at its boundaries; the increasing thermal motion of the deuterium nuclei pushed them together until they passed the barrier of electrostatic repulsion between them and came within range of the nuclear strong force, at which point they began to fuse. Some fused to form a helium nucleus – an alpha particle – with the release of a neutron, the alpha and the neutron sharing an energy of 3.27 MeV. The neutron passed through the electrified mass of fusing deuterons and escaped, but the positively charged alpha dumped its energy into the heating deuterium mass and helped heat it further.

                      Other deuterium nuclei fused to form a tritium nucleus with the release of a proton, the triton and the proton sharing 4.03 MeV. The positively charged proton dumped more energy into the deuterium mass. The tritium nucleus fused in turn with another deuterium nucleus to form an alpha particle and a high-energy neutron that shared 17.59 MeV. The 14-MeV neutrons from this reaction began to escape the hot, compressed deuterium plasma and encountered the U238 nuclei of the vaporized uranium pusher. U238 fissions when it captures neutrons with energies above 1 MeV; so the U238 of the uranium pusher began to fission then under the intense neutron bombardment, flooding more X rays back into the deuterium mass from the outside just as the sparkplug fission reaction was radiating them from the inside, trapping the deuterium between two violent walls of heat and pressure. Deuterium-bred tritium fused with tritium as well, producing a helium nucleus and two neutrons that shared 11.27 MeV of energy. At lower orders of probability, deuterium captured a neutron and bred tritium; deuterium-bred helium fused with deuterium and made heavy helium plus a highly energetic proton, or captured a neutron and bred tritium plus a proton. All these reactions contributed to the force of the Mike explosion.

                      Moving outward from the cauldron of the secondary as gamma and X-radiation and as escaping high-energy neutrons, that explosion swelled back across the path the radiation-driven implosion had taken. Just as the big uranium pusher had served as a tamper for the secondary, so the thick, lead-lined Mike casing served as a tamper for the entire complex explosion, holding it together a few microseconds longer to give the fuel more time to react, but massive as the casing was, bomblight from its outer surface revealed the breakthrough of the developing explosion before the mass had time even to swell, much less to move.

                      Once the explosion broke through the casing, it expanded in seconds to a blinding white fireball more than three miles across (the Hiroshima fireball had measured little more than one-tenth of a mile) and rose over the horizon like a dark sun; the crews of the task force, thirty miles away, felt a swell of heat as if someone had opened a hot oven, heat that persisted long enough to seem menacing. “You would swear that the whole world was on fire,” one sailor wrote home who turned around like Lot’s wife to look. For a moment the fireball seemed to hover; then it began to rise. Los Alamos radiochemist George Cowan, a precise man whose ingenious tests would help measure Mike’s yield, was there that day:

                      I was stunned. I mean, it was big. I’d been trying to visualize what it was going to be like, and I’d worked out a way to calibrate the shot. The initial fireball I guess I calibrated by holding up a quarter. If the quarter would cover the fireball then the yield would be less than something; if the fireball were bigger than the quarter, then it would be more than something. The question was, looking through my dark glasses, could I cover the fireball with a quarter. And I couldn’t, so I knew it was big. As soon as I dared, I whipped off my dark glasses and the thing was enormous, bigger than I’d ever imagined it would be. It looked as though it blotted out the whole horizon, and I was standing on the deck of the
                      Estes, thirty miles away.

                      Momentarily, the huge Mike fireball created every element that the universe had ever assembled and bred artificial elements as well. “In nanoseconds,” writes the physicist Philip Morrison, “uranium nuclei captured neutron upon neutron to form isotopes in measurable amounts all the way from 239U up to mass number 255. Those quickly decayed, to produce a swath of transuranic species from uranium up to element 100, first isolated from that bomb debris and named fermium.”

                      Swirling and boiling, glowing purplish with gamma-ionized light, the expanding fireball began to rise, becoming a burning mushroom cloud balanced on a wide, dirty stem with a curtain of water around its base that slowly fell back into the sea. The wings of the B-36 orbiting fifteen miles from ground zero at forty thousand feet heated ninety-three degrees almost instandy. In a minute and a half, the enlarging fireball cloud reached 57,000 feet; in two and a half minutes, when the shock wave arrived at the Estes, the cloud passed 100,000 feet. The shock wave announced itself with a sharp report followed by a long thunder of broken rumbling. After five minutes, the cloud splashed against the stratopause and began to spread out, its top cresting at twenty-seven miles, its stem eight miles across. “It really filled up the sky,” notes Raemer Schreiber, who had seen shots before and was not easily impressed. “It was awesome. It just went on and on.” At its farthest extent, the Mike cloud billowed out above a thirty-mile stem to form a huge canopy more than one hundred miles wide that loomed over the atoll. Radioactive mud fell out, followed by heavy rain.

                      Down below, Elugelab had vanished. The fireball had vaporized the entire island, leaving behind a circular crater two hundred feet deep and more than a mile across filled with seawater, a dark blue hole punched into the paler blue of the shallow atoll lagoon. The explosion vaporized and lifted into the air some eighty million tons of solid material that would fall out around the world. … It stripped animals and vegetation from the surrounding islands and flashed birds to cinders in midair.

                    3. ewmayer

                      Gah – in my preface to the Dark Sun excerpt, that should read (bold shows edit) “most of the energy from the blast is in fact from this secondary *fission* reaction”. I.e. the fission primary is used to trigger a secondary fusion reaction (aided by use of a central cylindrical Tritium-boosted Plutonium ‘sparkplug’), whose high-energy neutrons escape outward and cause a significant % of the heavy depleted-Uranium pusher shell to also fission, dramatically boosting the yield. Lots of moving parts, the physics and ingenuity embodied in these devices are simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

                      Note that modern thermonukes replace the cryogenic liquid heavy hydrogen used in Ivy Mike with solid, much-easier-to-handle Lithium Deuteride. The later Castle Bravo test was of such a more-compact LiD device, and the attendant “whoops! That’s one nuclear reaction we didn’t know about” which caused the actual yield to be triple the estimated one are also detailed in Rhodes’ book. The fallout from Castle Bravo famously irradiated a Japanese fishing boat and helped inspire Toho Studios’ famous radioactive monster Gojira.

                2. JEHR

                  I watched the video but I don’t know what I did to activate it. I suggest that you search for a Utube video of Helen Caldicott’s talk to doctors. That also works.

              2. JEHR

                Climate change, nuclear arms, nuclear power plants, pesticide contamination, water and air pollution, plastic proliferation, financialization of the economy (including deregulation), droughts, massive rainfalls, flooding, melting arctic ice, methane releases, wildfires, rise in sea level, degradation of soil and water: there truly is nowhere to hide. That is our future and I don’t think the billionaires that have prepared bunkers in NZ will fare any better than the rest of us.

        2. Edward

 has talked about the danger of another quake causing the already damaged fuel pools to loose their coolant. In this event, the fuel rods will burn up and become fallout in the atmosphere. They did not say this will kill all life. Fairewinds also does not like the procedure TEPCO is using to extract fuel rods from the pools; if the rods come too close together they could explode. I don’t know how many rods have been extracted so far.

    2. Edward

      Fukushima is probably the most under-reported story of our time. The crisis involves 7 reactor cores, 4 in the fuel pools, and the Japanese have really botched the cleanup. Their priority has been saving money rather then solving a public health crisis. Most of the fallout fell in the pacific– I would avoid seafood.

      A good website on this invisible crisis is

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Regarding Tepco’s priority, a quote from your link, ‘updates 2018’ page:

        “Cleanup workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are coming forward to reveal they are often being cheated out of the proper compensation they were promised for the hazardous work they are doing. Contractors advertise high wages to attract workers, but then subtract things like room and board, utility fees, clothing and equipment.There can be up to six layers of contractors between Tepco and a worker, and each layer may take a cut of the compensation. In most cases the compensation has been reduced, sometimes by more than half”

        1. Massinissa

          Late stage capitalism is proving itself to be unable to fix… Anything.

          No matter how important the problem is, even a problem that can effect all of Japan if not all of the world, profit for the few always comes first.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      We had a recent post about Fukushima — although I don’t recall any comparisons there with Chernobyl:
      “And then there’s the Fukushima meltdown, which caused no direct fatalities. A 2017 report from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation concluded that health effects to the general public from radiation were almost nil. The committee expects to see two or three more cancerous tumors among the 173 workers most exposed to radiation.”

      As I recall the UNSCEAR 2017 report reconfirmed the conclusions reached in the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation UNSCEAR 2013 Report Vol. I SCIENTIFIC ANNEX A: Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami:
      “Effects of radiation exposure. In the short term, no deterministic health effects due to radiation exposure after the FDNPS accident were observed among members of the public and none are expected in the long term because the doses were far below the threshold values for such effects.” [p. 249 paragraph E15]
      “The most important and manifest health effects of the nuclear accident in the short term would appear to be on mental and social well-being.” [p. 249 paragraph E16]
      “For the general public of Japan, inhabiting areas where exposures from the FDNPS accident in the first year were of the order of or below annual background exposure to natural sources of radiation (and lifetime exposures are expected to be much below those incurred from background radiation), the Committee estimated that risks over their lifetimes were so low that no discernible increase in the future incidence of health effects due to radiation exposure would be expected among the population or their descendants.” [p. 252 paragraph E24]

      If you can’t believe UNSCEAR and the WHO, who can you believe? Even so I tend to agree with a much earlier post:

  3. The Rev Kev

    “US turns economic might on its allies over Iran”

    Right now Trump is telling countries who they will be allowed to trade with as he has final say. But that is the trouble with Danegeld. Once you start paying it, the demands never stop. The US is opening its embassy in Jerusalem so a thought occurred to me. What if Trump demands that all other countries open up embassies in Jerusalem as well to legitimize the US move or else suffer economic penalties and sanctions? After all, what else is there left that Trump can give Israel but that?

    1. Sid Finster

      To answer your last question: more war on Syria and Iran, that’s what.

      Europe will grumble, but ultimately comply.

  4. Carolinian

    Interesting story about Bentonville and Walmart. One could point out that a visit to, say, Disneyland in very blue CA also provides a homey image of Americana that is at odds with a ruthless corporate parent and famously rightwing founder. Incidentally on a recent trip I noticed that Walmart is now providing “banking services” via a special line smack in the middle of the cash registers (they used to do money orders etc at the return desk). Is the Bentonville behemoth seeking to become that “post office bank” for the unbanked?

    1. jrs

      yea they don’t actually outlaw corporations even in blue states, as if blue states were full communism or something. So Disney is not a great company, and blue states allow corporations to operate just like anywhere else no doubt including Nordic countries (usually with a few more regulations protecting people in both blue states and social democracies).

    2. ambrit

      Back in the days when megafauna galumphed across the waving plains of yore, there was a local New Orleans supermarket chain called Schwegmanns. Seeing a need and an opportunity, the chain opened its’ own bank, with branches in four of their stores. My wife remembers going to the branch in the Schwegmanns store on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie.
      The constituency that would benefit the most from a Post Office Bank is the same one that now has to resort to the importunities of the Payday Lending and Title Loan Sharks.
      Another case of Neo-liberal excess. A perfectly feasible alternative is possible. All it will take is the political will.

  5. pretzelattack

    oh joy large scale attacks against iranian targets in syria, syrian government warned to just stand by. ww3 futures looking like a better bet, but how do you collect.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “What to Know Before You Go Tracking Snow Leopards at 13,000 Feet”

    How about the fact that the Snow Leopards may in fact be tracking you?

  7. andreww

    Please stop with the cat pictures without bells around their necks. Bell those suckers, keep them indoors, and save a bird.

    1. Wukchumni

      “The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.

      For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from Senate Bill No. 93.”

      ~Vetoing a Bill that would have imposed fines on owners who allowed cats to run at large. (23 April 1949)~

      Adlai Stevenson

    2. Arizona Slim

      The bells make humans feel good, but birds don’t recognize them as a danger signal.

      Keep cats indoors!

      1. Wukchumni

        Mankind when left unchecked, has caused many thousands of species to go extinct, and you’d think said former life forms would’ve figured out a danger signal at the very least, but no.

        Keep humans indoors!

      2. Paleobotanist

        Actually bells seem to work quite well on my little guy. He keeps shedding collars and bells. I keep putting new ones on him. With a bell on, I am given no gifts. Seems to have solved the problem well. He also is not allowed out overnight, also much to his disgust but too bad.

        1. Lee

          That’s no gift your cat is offering. It is a demand that you prepare its meal.

          The steps in the process of getting food: recognizing, stalking, killing, dissecting and finally eating are separable through training. Falcons, dogs, etc., by not being allowed or taught to consume what they catch become dependent for food on a human provider. Their uncurbed catching instincts are no longer connected to their need for food and they don’t know what to do with what they catch. Of course, if should one drop dead at home, and given long enough without food, our beloved starving pets might develop new neural pathways and we may in fact feed our pets one last time. A pleasing, sacramental thought. ; )

          1. pretzelattack

            oh, i thought they were trying to pay for all the catfood and lodging.
            i read about an ex hollywood star who died, forgotten and alone, in her apartment shared with her pet poodle, with predictable results.

            1. Lee

              Cats pay for anything? Surely, you jest. Cute is all you’re gonna get and it costs them nothing.

      3. Eureka Springs

        Why not keep all birds indoors? Because both ideas are ridiculous. Total denial of animal nature. Heck we can’t even stop bombing and torturing each other. And you want animals to stop eating habits.

        Bird feeders are cat, coon, squirrel feeders too.
        To focus on birds is among other things to forget mice and rats.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Cats allowed outdoors have a median life expectancy of about two years. They are prey as well, don’t forget, and if there are coyotes about anyone allowing their small pets outdoors are simply feeding the wildlife.

          I have indoor cats who are perfectly fine never going outdoors. Should I throw them outside anyway out of guilt for denying their nature?

          1. Jen

            My 16 year old cat spent the first 6 months of her life outdoors. During the end of that six month period it was 20 below every day for about 3 weeks.

            Someone brought her to the humane society. Once she got a taste of the great indoors, she never wanted to go outside again.

            My younger cat has experienced no such trauma, but is also perfectly content indoors.

      4. Harold

        We need to address loss of bird habitat. This is the major culprit in the loss of bird species. If birds had a proper habitat — well away from humans and their cats — humans would not have to feed them. At least we could encourage bird sanctuaries, corridors, and agricultural hedgerows in human-inhabited areas. It’s not an either or situation.

        1. rd

          Just about all song birds collect and provide insects to their young as food. The goldfinch is a notable exception that uses a lot of seed in its baby food.

          Most herbivorous insects are plant specialists that require specific species as food in the larval stages (e.g. caterpillars). Those larvae are bird food for both adult birds and their young. Seeds and berries are usually only important when they birds are fattening up for their migratory journey or over-winter when insect populations are low. That is why many berries and seeds don’t ripen until after the first frosts hit.

          So many native insect populations have almost nothing to breed on in a typical urban or suburban garden. As our city suburbs expand and industrial monoculture farming expands, this is becoming more critical to bird populations. If you go to a typical garden center, nearly all the plants are non-native and don’t provide a larval food source for the insect populations that are the foundation for our ecosystems. Our lawns are generally non-native plant species that are treated with pesticides, so they don’t play an ecosystem role either.

          Its not the cats causing bird population decline. Its our wholesale replacement of the ecosystem. However, each house can play a role in restoring the ecosystem at low cost, just by replanting some native species, especially the big biomass ones like trees.

          1. Kevin

            Well said. We are converting as much as we can to local, insect and bird friendly species like bluebells, butterfly bush, milkweed, etc.. It is a challenge, but being nature lovers, we really enjoy watching the birds and squirrels in the yard.

          2. Lord Koos

            The vanishing of insects is not simply an urban or suburban problem, anywhere there is agricultural activity where chemicals are sprayed the insects are disappearing.

        2. a different chris

          Or figure out why we don’t have hardly any bug splats on our windshields anymore. Yeah, on islands a cat population can be deadly. I’m not so convinced that any bird problems in the USofA or really the 7 continents has much to do with cats. Where are the birds eating since I don’t have to clean my windshield anymore?

    3. The Rev Kev

      Speak for yourself. I am trying to breed a variety of cat that can fly in order to cancel out the advantage birds have over cats! No seriously, the problem is an age-old one but some of the solutions that I have seen are almost lunatic in scale.
      One well-know gardener recommended that there be a series of wire mesh tunnels around the backyard with pens included so that cats could go out in the yard but always being inside mesh and could not harm any wildlife. The couple who did it must have sent thousands on their rig.
      Cats are hunters, period. It was what they were built for. The most you can do is to encourage owners to take care of their own cats responsibly and bring them in at night. But you can never be your cat’s keeper. Not 24/7. Of course, any cats seen in fields and woods at night should be shot on sight.

      1. Kevin

        Outdoor cats are easy prey for coyotes as well, not to mention cars, dogs, and yard pesticides

      2. Expat

        I am trying to breed an invisible cat. Not so it can easily stalk birds, but so I won’t have to watch it ignore me 24/7.

    4. taunger

      Spay or neuter the cat. Where I am, having a hunter is a good thing for the ground-based pests, and there are so many birds it doesn’t matter. Not sure about good answers in higher density areas.

      1. Harold

        Yes, cats are essential to keep the rodent population down, especially indoors. But also outdoors.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thank you.

        I’d heard the arguments about the huge number of birds killed by cats and then counterarguments here saying the real problem was loss of habitat, etc. As the article states, both are true.

        I used to have an outdoor cat and he contracted many of the diseases the article mentions and his life was cut short. I now have two indoor cats and sometimes I feel guilty when spring is in the air and they start hanging out by the door looking to get out. I have let them out on supervised walks around the yard a few times but I don’t let them roam free because they have always been house cats and I’m not sure how they’d handle the road.

        I’ll continue to keep my current and future cats inside, for their own good and for the birds’.

        1. Wukchumni

          One of our moggies I think wants to have me stencil another image of a gopher on the side of the litter box, making him an ace many times over now.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Thank you. That was a good summary and echoes a lot of points that have been made locally. Currently New Zealand is using TNR to manage feral cats (despite the concerns described about its effectiveness) largely because it’s been handed over to the SPCA to administer. Their charter doesn’t allow them to cull ferals and they have few other viable alternatives.

        New Zealand has no native land mammals and an extensive native bird population that evolved in their absence. Many of the more vulnerable species (including the flightless wrens) have already been wiped out as a consequence of human habitation.

    5. perpetualWAR

      I used to live in an area of Seattle where there were lots of restaurants and a corner grocer. Hence, there were a lot of scurrying rodents. My indoor/outdoor cat would only bring presents of the rodent nature, never the creatures with feathers.

      However, my pup was so fast that she killed a few feathered friends.

  8. RabidGandhi

    In yesterday’s discussion of the Argentine government’s predictable mad dash to Ace Cash Express the IMF, one commenter noted that the Macri Administration had eased up capital controls and that this should have helped the country’s macro fundamentals and thereby forestalled yesterday’s groveling in Washington.(1)

    By contrast, here is today’s news:

    Argentine Lower House Approves the ‘Productive Financing Act’ [La Nación]

    The draft law has three key points: more tools for financing SMEs, making it possible to securitise mortgages [RG: what could go wrong?], and limiting the powers of the Argentine Securities and Exchange Commission (CNV).

    More specifically, once this new law comes into force, it will be easier for SMEs to financialise their operations (because who wants them investing in un-innovative things like production). Argentina will finally get up to date by allowing these awesome innovative and not-at-all-crisis-producing financial instruments called “Collateralised Debt Obligations” (CDOs). And the Argentine SEC will no longer be allowed monitors on the boards of major corporations to ensure compliance (corporations complained they felt like they were being “watched”. The horror.).

    Returning to yesterday’s discussion, these are the types of reforms that marked a “sea change” between the Kirchner and Macri administrations. Restrictions such as these were put in place– to howls of protest by the rich and the IMF– as a regulatory framework to hinder the financialisation of the economy. And it worked, production and industry skyrocketed, whereas with deregulation they are now plummeting as assets are diverted from production to playing the ponies.

    So, easy question: does the increased financialisation and decreased production (2) of the economy caused by these de-regulations have anything to do with the sudden incontinence of Argentina’s macroeconomics? Or is it– as the monetarists and hawks claim– just a matter of the central bank printing too many pesos?
    (1) Prov. 26:11

    (2) Note the name of the law; law names generally indicate the exact opposite of what the law will actually do.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The nub of the BCRA’s [central bank’s] plight appears on page 12 in its April monthly report. A table analyzes the factors contributing to the 29.2% growth of the monetary base — a level that’s continued for years under both the Kirchner and Macri administrations, provoking a similar level of inflation.

      By far the largest additive factor was Compra de divisas al Tesoro Nacional [purchase of foreign currencies for the national Treasury], adding a whopping 46.6%. The BCRA had promised to sterilize these purchases of forex (mostly dollars) by tendering short-term domestic debt to soak up the cash injected into the economy by forex purchases.

      But as with commitments to sterilization in many other countries, the promise was only partially implemented — sterilization neutralized 28.3% of the large forex purchases. Another factor, Adelantos Transitorios y Tranferencia de Utilidades is very material, increasing the monetary base by 19.4%. But the title is so generic it’s unclear what it means in the context of the Argentine banking system.

      Condensed version: in implementing a desirable and healthy rebound of foreign reserves, too much of the forex purchases leaked into the monetary base, jacking inflation to uncomfortable levels.

      In Sturzenegger’s pensées declaimed at the World Bank on April 24th, his focus is all about the portfolio aspects of investing the BCRA’s $56 billion stash of foreign reserves in US Treasuries:

      When we try to build a portfolio that minimizes risk considering the shocks faced, the composition changes dramatically. 3M treasuries fall to about 10%, another 10% is taken up by 2Y treasuries, with the bulk of the assets, up of 70%, going into the 10Y bond. It makes sense: the 10Y bond will likely provide a more powerful hedge to a sudden stop, thus the result.

      All well and good, but entirely secondary and academic. Sturzenegger didn’t even acknowledge that inadequate sterilization is letting the monetary base run wild. Now he’s gone Volcker, hiking interest rates to 40% to “fight inflation” that the central bank created. Volcker’s gambit worked, you’ll recall, but was associated with a double-dip recession in 1980 and again in 1981-82. :-(

      1. RabidGandhi

        There is a shorter way to say all that: they are using foreign reserves to prop up the peso (a practise both Sturzenegger and Macri vocally ridiculed when they were in the opposition).

        Where we are disagreeing (if I understand you correctly) is the reason why the peso needs to be propped up in the first place. You claim it is because the BCRA needs to curtail the monetary base; an expanding monetary base necessarily leads to inflation.

        My point, however, is that while there is no proven correlation between monetary base expansion and inflation (eg, QE), there is repeated evidence– in both Argentina and elsewhere– that relaxing capital controls, deregulating, and then imposing austerity always brutalises macro fundamentals, and it is poor macro fundamentals that cause the local currency to depreciate.

        As just one example, this is exactly what happened in the period you mentioned, 1981-82, but in Argentina. In 1976, de facto Minister of Economy José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz had removed capital restrictions, while removing energy subsidies and cutting taxes “closing the book on a period of burdensome statist interventionism, to make way for the release of productive forces”. This opened the gates to financial speculation with the peso (carry trade “la bicicleta financiera”) and unemployment skyrocketed. So by 1982, with the macroeconomy decimated, inflation hit 400%.

        And de Hoz is far from an isolated example; this same pattern of deregulation-> capital flight-> rampant inflation occurred in 1956, 1975, 2001… and now once again in 2018.

        Given the repeated pattern, with the same repeated causes and the same repeated effects, the baseless claim by monetarists that the problems they themselves created are merely due to the monetary supply expanding looks pretty silly.

        1. Jim Haygood

          deregulation-> capital flight-> rampant inflation

          It would be interesting to know how much capital flight is occurring. One reason that capital flees is fear of capital controls, which are not used in successful economies. Imprisoning capital — which impacts little people wanting to travel abroad, send remittances to relatives overseas, or even order books from Spain (a notorious prohibition during the latter days of the Kirchner regime) — signifies deeper problems, one of which is chronic inflation.

          According to the BCRA, pesos in circulation have multiplied by a factor of 10.4 times since April 2008 — a 26.4% annual rate of increase. This vast increase in currency, beyond any conceivable need of the economy, went into inflating the price of goods and services. Los Remanseros, a restaurant in the Palermo district of BsAs which had an 8-peso prix fixe lunch back in 2005, now offers the same lunch for … 275 pesos. That’s bloody horrendous.

          Argentina’s LatAm peers, including poorer neighboring countries such as Bolivia and Paraguay, maintain stable currencies with single-digit inflation rates. High inflation is a destructive choice that Argentina keeps on making under governments of all stripes, from military to conservative to leftist. Macri has already conceded defeat with a 15 percent inflation target, which is in no way acceptable in un pais serio (a “serious country”), as the late Néstor Kirchner aspired to back in the halcyon days of them 8-peso lunches. :-(

    2. sinbad66

      Driving into work last night, heard a report on the radio (BBC) that the Macri government was seeking this “loan” because they were “undoing the mistakes of the previous government, such as high public spending” but never mentioned the positive measures the Kirchner government had actually achieved and that they actually sought this money because of their mistakes. Thankfully, got the full 411 from NC or I would be like many people and believe the (family blog) coming from the media.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Yet another episode in “always control the narrative”.

        If bad things happen….it’s because of the mistakes of the previous admin that you’ve gotta fix.

        If good things happen….it’s because of your skillful management/leadership.

      2. RabidGandhi

        Those were the verbatim excuses Macri gave when he made the announcement on TV. Nice to know the BBC’s storied reputation as a faithful stenography remains fully intact.

    1. jo6pac

      Thanks for the link and if goerge soros doesn’t like him than he’s alright by me. I see he even beat the world bank at game.

    2. Lord Koos

      All I know is that when we visited Malaysia in 2012 we were impressed with the country and with its people… he must have done something right.

  9. Ed Jones

    Cars makers are shifting from aluminum die casting to magnesium. Magnesium has the benefit of lighter weight and is in fact easy to cast. The danger of magnesium is that it catches fire easily. I have been in plants where the magnesium casting was done in a different building to ensure they did not destroy the whole complex when the fire came. Everyone in the casting business knows this and Ford engineering knows this. The supplier seems to have 4 plants all making mag die castings. Ford will have redundant tooling for die casting because of short die life. They are planning to move tools to another plant asap. This is the two weeks to run the tools and re-qualify in a new location. The automotive FMEA process used by Ford will have addressed this. There is at most one week worth of casting in the supply chain between Ford and the supplier. The mistake is that the supplier did not have controls in place to prevent and control a fire. This is a known hazard that is significant and should have appeared in the Ford FMEA and in the Ford audits of the supplier. Disturbing that the town has not been in the building yet. A good fire marshall should be raising hell right now. It is lucky no one appears to have been hurt. A secondary danger to the supply chain is that there is more and more mag moving into cars and replacing aluminum. If a car catches fire and you put it out with water the mag can explode briefly and cause significant harm to a firefighter.

    This is a lot of risk to make a car lighter. Aluminum would do the same job with much less risk but with a 10 lb heavier car.

    1. Kevin

      Thanks for providing your insight. All for the sake of better gas mileage…?

      I wonder how many gallons taking 10lbs of your vehicle weight saves you per year, versus how much more risk you face driving said car. The ole risk/reward ratio.

      How about I diet and lose 20lbs, save even more gas AND be healthier with less risk.

      1. a different chris

        If people had bought* cars that fit 90% of their needs, and rented the 10% of the time they really needed that extra space it would solve this toot suite. I can make a pretty darn safe smallish car if I don’t need a back seat.

        But Honda can’t even sell Accords, while it seems half the soft-handed engineers here lumber to work in Dodge Rams. And Accords are still 3x what most people need to get to work.

        *I solve that with like…. I dunno how many vehicles I actually have working at the moment… but then I get screwed on insurance. Fortunately most of them are crap and thus no collision at least.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘This is a lot of risk to make a car lighter.’

      CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards at work — damn the risk!

      Whatever happened to mag wheels from our hot rod youth? Not a fan of cast aluminum ones.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was scared away from ever using cocaine when in my early 20’s, as I had a mentor that showed me why not.

        He was about 30 in 1981 with a quarter million in the bank, a thriving business, a Ferrari 308 like Magnum P.I., and a gorgeous wife…

        …fast forward 18 months later, no money, no business, no wife, and the Ferrari had been replaced by a Pinto with mag wheels

        Very much a Cinderella story, of sorts.


        1. nycTerrierist

          “Cocaine is g-d’s way of saying: ‘You have too much money'” – Robin Williams

        2. ambrit

          Similar story with different ‘drug.’ A high school acquaintance was doing great in the stock market in the nineteen eighties. Similar ‘high life’ profile. After the crash of ’87, I met him on the street back home. He was living in his parents’ garage. It was the ‘same old story.’ “All my money was in the market. Paper profits. Oh well. There it is.” A good guy, he didn’t complain and, as far as I have learned subsequently, recovered to a decent life style.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        “Mag wheels” were too fragile for road duty so they made similar-looking copies from Al alloy and called them mags instead. Anyone with an old VW Beetle has a car with its engine cases in cast Magnesium, so it’s not like how to make major components safely in mass production from Magnesium hasn’t been known for way over 50 years.

    3. jo6pac

      Ford is going have new problem to add to this. Russian cut out of the market Aluminum will be hard to get for awhile.

    4. Jean

      “Just in time” inventory.
      Why think of the pennies that Ford saved per part by outsourcing that part to the Chinese, why the efficiency! How do they do fire drills?

      An assembly line can be shut down.

      Your stomach cannot.

      Remember, Los Angeles has 3 days worth of food available to its population. Imagine the Big One.

      1. ambrit

        Uh my! A twofer business opportunity.
        Combine Ultra Prepping with the Zombie Fad.
        “Cannibal Cuisine” A guide to the genteel art of ‘Long Pig’ preparation. From Long(pig)mans Press, naturally.
        (I would call it “To Serve Man,” but that name has been used already.)

        1. Wukchumni

          L.A. would be an interesting venue for a supersized Donner Party…

          Friends in Los Diablos (the nickname of the place in the 1850’s on account of it being such a lawless town) know that if the Big One hits, they can hightail it up here, but more than likely the way out of hell will take some doing, as the 1994 quake was a mere sampler course of what a 8.88 could do to the freeways, bridges, interchanges, overpasses, et al.

          1. ambrit

            Our local prepper cadre swears by not using any major thoroughfares. Use the back roads and off roads as much as possible to travel right after an “event.” Of course, one needs a destination where one will be welcome. Family compounds out in the boonies are best. Otherwise, hunker down and activate all those nascent ‘mutual aid’ relationships with the neighbours.
            Now, if that mega earthquake does slip coastal California into the Pacific, I’d say all bets are off.

            1. Wukchumni

              There are back roads out of L.A., it’s just the main roads to get you there would be totally compromised in the Big One.

              And in my experience, a good many people don’t know their neighbors there, heretofore.

              Could get messy…

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A good fire marshall should be raising hell right now.

      From the second link:

      Eaton Rapids Mayor Paul Malewski said he’s not concerned about his fire department’s lack of access to Meridian Magnesium’s facility and how it could affect [Eaton Rapids Fire Chief Roger McNutt’s] investigation.

      “I’m sure when Meridian is able to get as much debris out of there as they can, they will lot Roger get in there,” Malewski said. “There’s no indication of foul play.

      “I’m sure that if Roger feels there is anything other than an accidental type of cause, he will notify the state fire marshal.”


  10. Amfortas the Hippie

    Re: the Grist article on water:
    similar, but less dire, activity in Texas over the last 20 years or more. Nobody wants to be the one to get rid of “Right to Capture”…because they would be immediately tarred and feathered.
    This allows Nestle, etc. to buy a small parcel over…say..the Edwards Aquifer, and pump it to their hearts content. Cities do the same. San Angelo(whose groundwater is briny and terrible) bought a couple of acres 50+ miles to the east, in Brady(which sits over the Hickory Sand Aquifer*), put in several deep wells, and proceeded to pump. This caused ongoing acrimony and legal challenges and a sort of low intensity conflict between the two regions/municipalities.
    Right to Capture was intended…long ago…to protect individual(as in Human) landowners from outside exploitation(by railroad barons and whatnot). But since Nestle is a “Person”…and the City of San Angelo is also a “person”(given the corporate model)…they have every “Right” to abuse the water table.

    * the Hickory Sand is a deep aquifer, but limited in spread. clean water, but it’s in granites…which means that it contains Radon, and gives off alpha particles in certain situations.
    This radiation, in reality, is nothing, compared to TV’s and our unfortunate history of playing with elemental fire during the Cold War…but it’s scary enough to ordinary folks that our local overlapping governance structures have made hay with a campaign of Ooga Booga! that has served to lessen interest in taking our water.
    Voters in San Antonio, for instance, rallied against spending all that money to capture and pump our Radioactive Water.
    According to my research on the matter, one would have to leave a sinkfull of Hickory water overnight, in a closed up house, for 70 years to have any deleterious effect…and the incidence of things like Lung Cancer out here(higher than mean) can as likely be chalked up to agricultural chemical use, and lack of protective gear.(drinking it is harmless. only when the alpha particles “evaporate” and are collected, and inhaled for very long periods are they harmful).

    as for the broader problem of water…Phoenix will one day have to be abandoned.
    There’s nothing they can do…short of a massive seawater desalination effort…to maintain themselves at anything close to their current standard of living.
    Elsewhere, remediation and saner policies might have a greater impact.

    My house wastes zero water…composting toilet(no water used, save for cleaning the barrels, and the compost helps the plants use water more efficiently), graywater lines everywhere, to fruit trees, nut trees and flowers and whatnot.
    I can take a bath in a 40gallon clawfoot with no injury to my ecological consciousness.Every drop goes to a good purpose.
    The way I do things is not scalable without giant changes in the way we do things…like lawns, subdivisions and toilet habits. (and all the sodium in soap and detergent).
    But it IS doable.

    1. Wukchumni

      As a kid growing up in the City of Angles, they had cemented into place the river named after it, so as to be used in about 173 movies of which there were 118 car chases. The L.A. river didn’t flow that much anyhow, usually short bursts in the winter months, and bupkis in the summer, which is good for scheduling shooting.

      I’m not sure what Angelenos would do in case of a substantial shallow earthquake that takes out their water delivery system, it isn’t as if there are many natural sources to fall back on?

    2. The Rev Kev

      I truly believe that the way you live your life now will be the way that nearly everybody will be living in less than a century from now. Not through choice but through simply lack of choice. Those giant changes that you mentioned are coming down the pike-way whether we want them to or not. It seems that you have simply put you and your family ahead of the bow-wave.

      1. Wukchumni

        A place near the ocean with a view of all that water you can’t drink a drop of, used to be the ne plus ultra of real estate, but it’ll seem pretty silly in the not too distant future, when the daily double of rising oceans and lowered availability of fresh water comes to the forefront.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        when we lived in town for 7 years, I experimented extensively with graywater.
        nosy city officials took exception…and I launched a comprehensive wander into federal, state and local regs…and found that the city and county regs didn’t even contemplate such things as graywater…so it reverted to the state level.
        Texas, it turns out, is rather enlightened,lol.
        Not only is it perfectly legal to install graywater(if local doesn’t contemplate it), a sewr “system” that is not-septic tank and non-municipal is also perfectly legal(same caveat, plus needing to be outside city limits).
        So, to my great surprise, when we moved back out to the ranch, I had not only the Law on my side(Mirable!), but the Moral High Ground as well.
        There wasn’t room on my rather narrow place(130 feet between county road(bisects my place) and back fence) for a “field line” for a regular septic system…without special permits and creative plumbing. I knew this going in, and rummaged around and hit on compost…where I don’t even need a permit(state regs say that I need not even tell anyone,lol)
        Interestingly, places over 100 acres don’t need a permit for any kind of sewerage.
        All of this and more is certain to be a prominent feature of political conflicts going forward.

        1. taunger

          lucky. Massachusetts is not so kind to greywater. You are free to put in greywater systems, but must have the entirety of a septic functionality as backup (basically, you can layer greywater over septic).

          1. Wukchumni

            In our cabin community in the National Park, we have potable water from a communal well for drinking & showers, and spring-fed creek water for toilets and outdoor faucets. It’s been done this way for decades, but now the state wants us to have it all potable, which puts a strain on available sources versus use.

            It’s always something…

          2. Amfortas the Hippie

            That’s as silly as the recurring uproar over outlawing rainwater collection, or the periodic conflict over front lawns being turned into gardens or meadows.
            A friend of mine used to say , “Nature bats last”…we can insist on the decorum of flushing away our waste, and having pristine and chem-treated lawns and golf courses all we want…but we’ll pay for it, in the end.
            Better to build a little wetland and grow frogs and cat tails(prolly the most useful native north american plant,btw).

        2. barefoot charley

          California has been bickering with the writers of those greywater books for more than 10 years. Progress: it’s now legal to water your decorative plants with roof runoff, but your sinks and bath are blackwater that must be treated (you could WASH A CHICKEN in your kitchen sink! You could SOAK YOUR UNDERWEAR in the bath!). The state semi-sorta tolerates rural composting, as does my county–while requiring a completely superfluous septic system as well, so that our next buyer won’t be required to be as crazy as we are. Can’t we just make a disclosure in the deed of sale that we’re fecal-crazed? Nope. County lawyers threaten county liability for residents who refuse to [family blog] in pure water taken from our forests and salmon.

          1. Jean

            We’ve had illegal and later legalized greywater for over a decade.

            First we’ve heard of the shower/tub/sink prohibition. Have a link to that?

            And so what? Soil bacteria destroys pathogens. No one would ever water veggies directly with shower or washing machine water, they would taste like soap.

            The greywater soaks into the greatest filter and storage bank ever, the soil. Tree roots then seek it out and nothing is carried up to the fruit from the greywater.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              soap is the biggest problem with graywater.
              the majority of soaps and detergents contain sodium hydroxide(Lye),so…without extensive mitigations built in(tile drainage, dry well, extra water to flush)…you get a buildup of sodium over time.

              this is what I could find with a quick search…there’s better info buried in my link file.
              Point is…if it says” eco-friendly!!!”, it doesn’t mean that it is,lol.
              If I had more of a village, here, I’d be pushing for soap-making using wood ashes to make the other kind of lye(KOH=Potassium Hydroxide), which breaks down into usable nutrients(not perfect, I know, but better).
              my local hardware lady carries a KOH laundry soap, but the rest is off the shelf. so we run a little extra water whenever it’s used(washing hands), and the kitchen sink drains into a large sort of (more or less) salt tolerant flowerbed. It takes thought and effort, no doubt.

        3. Arizona Slim

          Yours Truly is growing a little food forest with graywater. And, as mentioned before, I’d love to talk your ear off about this topic in person. NC Tucson meetup #2 is coming soon. See you there!

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One question.

      How often should one shower or take a bath, depending on the region (humid vs. dry)?

      Can one get away with something like once a month (probably more frequent than our caveman ancestors, who in turn inherited that habit from millions of years of evolution)?

      1. Wukchumni

        When you’re in the various types of public bathing rooms in Pompeii (cold, lukewarm & hot) you get an idea of how important cleanliness was to the ancient Romans, as in a daily endeavor.

        Here when the Indians around the area all started dying of measles in 1868-69-for which they had no immunity, the only thing the Wukchumni did differently from the settlers was they all had sweat lodges by the river, and not knowing what was causing all the Indians to die, they burn’t every last one of them to the ground.

    4. Lord Koos

      Had my first experience with a compost toilet when house sitting for friends who live in the San Juan islands. Was super impressed by the efficiency and total lack of smell.

      1. Carolinian

        M of A:

        Syria will now continue to respond to Israeli attacks. This time it limited its strikes to military positions in the occupied Golan heights. The next strikes will go further. This time Israel sent its population in the occupied Golan heights into bunkers. The next time half of Israel may have to go underground. How long could Israel sustain that?

        Sounds like the Israelis took a roundhouse punch at the Iranians in Syria–one that may have been swatted away–then declared the fight over and themselves the victors. One gets the impression they aren’t prepared to take the punishment that would come from a real fight. Perhaps Trump relates because both he and Bibi are blowhards.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that I understand one of the reasons that these attacks are happening now. If you look at the map on the Syrian war at there are several features to note. That big green blob at top is Idlib where the Jihadists are being shipped to which the Syrians are saving for later. There is a small u-shaped green blob below it and this pocket near Homs is being evacuated of Jihadists shortly and some buses have already left. To the east is a grey blob and that is ISIS which the Syrians were mopping up before Israel started its antics. That big green blob south is American occupied territory and protects several hundred Jihadists. South of Damascus is a tiny pocket of ISIS but they are being destroyed in a grinding campaign.
      The point of this tour is to show that the Syrians are taking back their country and are clearing out all these pockets one by one. That means also the one bordering Jordan and Israel (which included an ISIS pocket) is coming up. Israel is frantic at the thought of losing their Jihadist buffer and can only hit Syria with missiles as their army will never outlast those in Syria in a long campaign. Israel can only attack with missiles and then threaten Syria if they dare retaliate. That or try to end it before something important gets hit by the Syrians as when Avigdor Lieberman said: ‘I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message’. I would also remind some readers that when Israel says that Syrian missiles hit Israel they are wrong. It is a case of Syrian missiles hitting occupied Syrian territory – the Golan Heights. Israel is the only country that believes that this territory is now Israel.
      The simple fact is that the Syrians are winning their war. They are winning against the Jihadists, ISIS, Al-Queda, the US, NATO, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Israel, Qatar, Turkey and all the other countries that have tried to destroy this country. It is a remarkable achievement, even though it is not over yet, and a lot of the countries I mentioned are having a full-on melt down over the fact that they have spent years and tens of billions of dollars and are still losing. So now they are also targeting the countries that are making this possible which is Russia and Iran. And this, I believe, explains a lot of what we are seeing. Probably Israel attacking Syria around Russia’s Victory Day was just icing on the cake for them. Good thing that it will never backfire.

      1. pretzelattack

        that sounds quite plausible, but i also think israel is taking advantage of the trump’s pulling out to try to instigate a wider war with iran, preferably with the us doing the heavy lifting. maybe losing in syria, and possibly losing the propaganda edge they have enjoyed for a long time in the u.s., is making netanyahu desperate–israel occasionally takes some insane risks, like attacking the liberty, to “protect itself”. at any rate, they continue to provoke russia in syria.

      2. Olga

        Mostly agree, although I have to say it was strange seeing B. N-yahoo next to VV Putin during the WWII victory celebrations in Moscow. Did VV know about the upcoming strikes? Or was it the case of serving chocolate cake with a few missiles? My guess is he must have known. But then, what is Russia’s stance here? Was it a choice between – “we strike Iran” or “we lob a few missiles over at Syria?” How much damage the IS missiles were able to do might answer that question.

        Also, Pepe Escobar is helpful here (The art of breaking a deal Pepe Escobar, Asia Times): “In a nutshell, this betrays the entire project which is to thwart the Eurasia integration process, which features Russia and China as peer competitors aligning with Iran along the New Silk Roads.”
        Obviously, getting out of the JCPOA served more than one purpose …

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Russia is on good diplomatic terms with both Syria, Iran and Israel as far as I know. Maybe Putin made a deal with the Israelis to hit Syria to help him upsell Russian air defenses to Assad.

          1. pretzelattack

            that seems problematic, given that israel wants to depose the governments of iran and syria.

            1. pretzelattack

              maybe russia is looking for a way to influence us foreign policy, and which country has more influence over us foreign policy than israel?

  11. Jim Haygood

    Poodles bare their fangs at the big dog:

    Trump’s pullout has left international companies doing business in Iran vulnerable to the extraterritoriality of US law, which enables Washington to punish foreign companies operating in Iran if they have business dealings with the US or use dollar transactions.

    Washington has given companies between 90 and 180 days to phase out existing contracts with Iran and banned them from signing any new ones, under threat of sanctions.

    Ellie Geranmayeh, a specialist in Iran-European relations at the Brussels-based European Council for International Relations, suggests the Europeans “should try to negotiate exemptions with the US so that they can continue to trade with Iran in strategic sectors such as energy [oil, gas] or aeronautics”, she explained.

    European attempts to negotiate exemptions from the US for strategic sectors such as energy and aeronautics could flounder if Washington adopted a hardline approach. Under such circumstances, experts say the EU could threaten to impose tariffs on US exports.

    Geranmayeh believes the EU threatening to imposing tariffs on US exports would be justified since the US secondary sanctions (on foreign entities) interfere with European foreign policy, of which the JCPOA is an important element. But few experts believe the EU is likely to risk an all-out trade war with the US.

    Humiliating. But the ultimate humiliation is having yankee occupation troops still garrisoned on European soil three generations after a big war ended. It’s revealing that no European leader since De Gaulle (IIRC) has ever retaliated against the US with troop expulsions instead of tariffs. Evidently our poodles have been well trained to accept the red-white-and-blue leash. Woof woof!

    1. Carolinian

      Doubtless they are quite happy to have US taxpayers paying for their defense. The question is whether this protection racket that props up US foreign policy will eventually become too onerous for the Euros.

          1. Olga

            This is always an interesting question. What is really going on with Europe and NATO? If we accept the premise that N-O was created “to keep Germans downs, Russians out, and the US in,” (not necessarily in that order) then it all begins to make more sense, and helps to clarify why the largest US army contingent is still stationed in Germany. I hate to give any credit to Z. Brzezinski, but in the Grand Chessboard he does capture the Europeans’ fear of a renewed German militarism. Peter Hitchens has a good talk on these issues:
            (a good speech, except a few goofy comments about Russia’s pres at the end). ZB also notes a perceived “danger” of Russia and Germany combining forces – that is why any closeness between the two will always have to be scuttled (either by US or France/UK).

      1. Jim Haygood

        Bark of the poodles:

        German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, urging the continent to “take destiny into its own hands.”

        “It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands, that’s the task of the future,” she said during a speech honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, according to Agence France-Presse.

        Her sharp comments came days after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, angering European allies who are parties to the 2015 pact.

        Macron echoed Merkel, saying European nations should not allow “other major powers, including allies” to “put themselves in a situation to decide our diplomacy [and] security for us.”

        They get it. But if history is any guide, they will do nothing. After all, they’ve been playing along with the US/NATO militarization of the Baltic states without a peep of protest. Latvians feel the safest, protected by the mighty Canadian military. /sarc

        1. makedoanmend

          A toothless alsatian praising a toy poodle, both pretending they are direct descendants of wolves, whilst barking at the merest shadows and begging for their supper.

          They will do as they are told – roll over.

    2. voteforno6

      Poodles are rather intelligent, as far as dogs go. They’re also quite good at manipulating humans.

        1. ambrit

          And then there are the Standard Poodles. Big and smart. Now returned to their original usage, as retrievers.

          1. Lord Koos

            My mom had a standard poodle when I was kid, it was neurotic as hell. But then, I think most of the dogs my mom had were that way…

    3. VietnamVet

      Donald Trump is the archetypical Oligarch. He reeks of dirty wealth. His mad man act is so great that South Korea realized that the USA didn’t give a damn if Seoul was wiped out in a first strike at the North. Peace in a multi-polar world is a better option. Likewise, for Europe, the escalating hybrid war against Iran and Russia can’t be covered up much longer by the media moguls. Nord Stream II, austerity, loss of middle class jobs and influx of refugees is forcing Europe to face reality. On one hand, is the chaos being spread by the USA, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the other is the possibility of peace and prosperity if aligned with Iran, Russia and most importantly China. If the Iran Sanctions are circumvented successfully by European Corporations, the Atlantic Alliance is finished.

  12. DJG

    Gina Haspel, girl torturer and glass-ceiling breaker. This is what happens when you don’t prosecute torturers. And I hesitate to assess the amount of torture going on among our dear friends and directors of Our August Foreign Policy, that is, the Israelis and the Saudis.

    I wonder if she is the woman mentioned but not identified in Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir, Guantanamo Diary. (Which also is a must-read.)

    Peter Van Buren is in the American Conservative because no one else will give him a platform. And here I am, a leftist, reading a paleo-conservative journal. Kudos to them, and paleos at least know how to serve scotch properly.

    Today’s must-read memory jogger. Note the many mealy-mouthed quotes from our oh-so-moral ruling class.

  13. DJG

    Notes on passion and passionate. Whenever I see the words passion or passionate used for inanimate objects or concepts (with the exception of something highly obvious like Passion Week, which seeks to evoke divinity), I know that I am in the realm of bathos and cliché. Bathos and cliché and kitsch are what the Internet does best. So one’s passion for muffins, scrapbooks, shooting ranges, and brunch is kitsch.

    Passion is only for another person. I guess this is my billet doux. But passion attached to slogans and crapification is underming our sentimental education. I’d rather read about passion in Colette’s masterwork The Pure and the Impure than wade through some site all passionate about avocado toast and outsourcing.

  14. JCC

    On the Intercept article in the Democrats In Disarray section , Chemung County, NY is my home county and one of the poorest counties in Upstate NY. 40 years ago the population of the county was approx. 100,000 people. Today the population is approx. 80,000 people. The last I looked (a couple of years ago) the median hourly wage in the entire county was less than $9.50/hr.

    It’s a perfect lab study in what has happened all over the Northeast and particularly Upstate NY which has become northern tip of Appalachian region.

    Few of the friends I grew up that continue to live there have children living in the area, they left. Most of the factories left long ago and the few remaining manufacturers employ less than they used to employ. I bailed out of the area 15 years ago, stuck in a job I loved with one of the few mfg business left in the area, but with a relatively low wage and no future. The largest employer in the County is now the New York State Prison System.

    The not-for-profit Sisters of St. Joseph Hospital has merged with the only other, private, hospital.

    Downtown Elmira, the center of the county with a -16% population growth over the last 15 years and formerly known as “The Queen City” of the NY Southern Tier, is a shell of what it was. Shootings, which were unheard of 40 years ago, are as common as dirt today. Property taxes are through the roof and half the of the city’s housing looks terrible as far as maintenance is concerned. Many of the beautiful 3 story homes the city was known for have been turned into multiple unit apartments and are falling apart at the seams.

    Everyone I know that has left the area, but still go back home at least once every year or two (myself included), say the same thing, “What happened?!?” and “I miss it, but I’m so glad I left.”.

    No wonder the local Dem Party is upset, Loyalty to what? More of the same? But at least they are trying to stand up, which is more than I can say for the rest of the mainstream Dems.

    1. Arizona Slim

      My mother feels the same way about Buffalo. She bailed out of there when she was in her early twenties and never looked back.

      1. Wukchumni

        My wife is from Buffalo and we were there for a week about a dozen years ago, and it was my first rust belt town i’d ever visited and quite past it’s salad days of long ago.

        The beautiful memorial fountain in front of city hall that was erected as an homage to McKinley, had long since had any water running through the pipes, kind of akin to the rest of the city in a fashion.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Just ran into a young Buffalonian yesterday, on an American Conservation Experience crew out of Flagstaff who are helping us local volunteers build a new trail in the national forest.

        Big advantage of growing up in Buffalo, she said, was being a free-range kid allowed to roam at will. Self sufficiency has served her well on the ACE crew, which camps out for a week while doing grueling physical work with picks, shovels and McLeods (a kind of hoe/rake).

        The crew were all looking forward to the luxuries of civilization — showers — after returning home last night.

        1. JCC

          I also know Buffalo relatively well since I spent my early years there while my father attended the University of Buffalo’s Medical School. It’s actually doing a little better than most of Upstate NY since it is the prime connection to trade with Canada. It’s estimated that somewhere near 80% of U.S.-Canadian trade goes through Buffalo.

          But when I say relatively, that’s all I mean. It rates just behind Detroit for percentage of population living below the poverty line and just behind Miami and Cleveland for lowest median income of larger cities in the U.S.

          But… your young lady is right, at least Upstate NY is a paradise for free range kids. That was true during my early grade school years when a gang of us would ride our bicycles into Canada in order to smuggle firecrackers back to Buffalo in our handlebars, and it was true in Elmira during Jr. and High School years when all of us kids regularly went on camping trips (even in winter) with minimal to no parental supervision. And from stories my friends back there tell me, it’s true today. Helicopter parents are few and far between.

          Upstate NY breeds independent children. Thank Goodness for that.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The not-for-profit Sisters of St. Joseph Hospital has merged with the only other, private, hospital.

      This was in the works when I worked for the Star-Gazette twenty years ago. The for-profit snatched up all the lucrative services and stuck St. Joseph’s with taking care of the people who didn’t have insurance. Indeed, I wrote the story of how St. Joe’s finally pulled itself out of bankruptcy after five years—and had the city editor rewrite the lede so it sounded like just the opposite was the case. My refusal to take the blame for that is probably why I didn’t work there much longer.

      Elmira was a lovely city when I worked there. It breaks my heart to hear it’s dying like this.

  15. allan

    The absurdity of American health care pricing [Vox]

    … This new study takes focuses uses a massive data set from the Health Care Cost Institute, which has price data from insurance heavyweights like Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana. All told, this data set covers 28 percent of the employer-sponsored insurance market. What’s more, it covers what these major insurers paid for every doctor visit or hospital stay that these patients had in recent years.

    This allows them to look at what different insurers pay for certain, basic procedures. One they focus on is an MRI scan of a lower limb.

    Hospitals presumably use the same MRI scanner for different patients. They don’t typically have, for example, one scanner for Humana patients and another for their Aetna customers.

    So, it stands to reason that the service provided is really similar, if not identical. Even so, it turns out the price for a lower-limb MRI varies a lot within a given hospital.

    All told, this paper estimates that this within-hospital price variation is responsible for about one-fifth of all price variation in the United States. …

    Surely there’s some way of ensuring that any procedure, test or pharmaceutical has a uniform price
    for all patients within a given facility. Or even for all patients at similar facilities.
    It’s on the tip of my tongue … Oh, never mind, that’s crazy talk:

    DCCC Takes Money From Insurance Lobbyist As They Oppose Single Payer [Popular Resistance]

    1. Jean

      Love distilling complicated issues to a short phrase:

      “No Single Payer, no Tax Payer.”

  16. The Rev Kev

    “How powerful is China’s military?”

    Lots of pearl clutching going on here with some weird thoughts. One is ‘China is aggressively developing area-denial capabilities to keep the US and its allies away from its shore.’ Would this imply that China should let the US and its allies dominate its shores? Don’t know many countries that are happy for other countries to dominate their sea borders. I wouldn’t be.
    And how about ‘China is rapidly modernizing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and could soon pose serious challenges to US military dominance.’ Does this imply that China should be happy that it is being dominated? Should they stop trying to be a peer country or even exceed the US in their own front yard? Deutsche Welle is getting to be a sad publication these days with its lack of objectivity.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A question to ask is ‘how powerful will China’s military be in 10 or 20 years?’

      With the constitutional change in China that Xi got, he has the option to cunctate (to delay), like the famous Roman Cunctator who waited years for the best time to take on Hannibal.

      If he yields a bit now (the ‘bend but don’t break, rope-a-dope’ strategy), China could possibly end up in a far stronger position not too much later.

  17. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Could it happen here?

    “a shift in voter mindsets – from the politics of patronage to the politics of principle. … warlords are being toppled by, essentially, kids.”

    SCMP on Malaysia, quoting Meredith Weiss, Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York in Albany

    1. Jim Haygood

      Justin Raimondo:

      Trump inveighs against the “appeasement” of Iran by the Obama administration, but what about the appeasement of Israel by his administration? Instead of “America First,” what we are seeing is a policy of putting Israel first.

      While on the surface all is hunky-dory between Washington and Tel Aviv, the truth is that the Israelis are fundamentally hostile to Trump’s foreign policy agenda.

      One wonders how long Trump will put up with such demanding allies. Yet he can’t afford the political cost of taking on the Israel lobby. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to know that from this point on we’ll see a concerted effort by the War Party – led by the Israel lobby – to provoke a conflict with Iran.

      You don’t need to be no Nostradamus because bashing Iran has been the central theme of AIPAC’s annual March hatefest in Washington DC for twenty years now. AIPAC’s site already has a post up, supporting Trump’s abrogation of the deal.

      pssst … FARA … pssst

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This stands out:

        A “new Iran deal,” which Trump thinks he can negotiate, covering ballistic missiles and “regional aggression” (whose?), is unlikely if the US can’t be trusted to keep the one previously negotiated.

        1. Trump thinks he can get a new deal. Can he? Are they talking now? It would not be surprising. With Trump, the opening moves tend to be shocking.

        2. Can the US be trusted? Is Syria another Libya? Why would the North Koreans trust America? If Trump can get a deal done in June with Kim, I think there will be progress here.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I will also quote from Rev Kev’s 10:46am comment and add to that:

        They are winning against the Jihadists, ISIS, Al-Queda, the US, NATO, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Israel, Qatar, Turkey and all the other countries that have tried to destroy this country. It is a remarkable achievement, even though it is not over yet, and a lot of the countries I mentioned are having a full-on melt down over the fact that they have spent years and tens of billions of dollars and are still losing. So now they are also targeting the countries that are making this possible which is Russia and Iran. And this, I believe, explains a lot of what we are seeing. Probably Israel attacking Syria around Russia’s Victory Day was just icing on the cake for them. Good thing that it will never backfire.

        If the goal is to get a new deal that will make Israel feel safe, with the missiles launched first at Israelis positions in Golan Heights (false flag or not?) and the response, I think a statement has just been made about what will make Israel feel safe and secure…that the current status quo can be improved upon, from their perspective.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            First, after the announcement to exit the deal, and the clock started ticking on (maybe) a new deal.

            That is, first, in the latest episode or iteration.

  18. Bugs Bunny

    “Two Weeks in the Capital” is a lovely essay. Can’t say I have any empathy for the author and I suspect he’s not having it either.

    1. Wukchumni

      Agreed, might have been titled instead:

      Fear & Loathing in the D.F., A savage journey to the heart of the Mexican dream, er nightmare.

    2. chuck roast

      Yeah, the guy is a fine existential spinmiester, and he would prolly’ be horrified if he thought that anyone had any empathy for him.

  19. Dita

    Re: Napping While Black – digging around I found the video the neighbor who called the cops. It’s obvious these two knew each other and didn’t get along. What was striking was the white student’s justification – she just reminded me of any number of what i can only call the sort of cryptoracist democrat – very reasonable tone, talking about her right to call the cops Hahaha. So the call was made to antagonize the student. Isn’t this filing a false report?

    This reminds me of another 911 call last week, in NYC. Bare in mind people move in or out at off hours, nothing unusual about it here. This is from a small, local outlet:

    1. georgieboy

      On the other hand, downtown Chicago had 100+ black teenagers kindly arrange a riot on Michigan Avenue last weekend. One poor tourist ended up in critical condition with a split skull.

      Yet somehow, zero reporting in the Tribune or Sun-Times, zero on the local television news. Crickets.

      Cops knew it (including the black chief of police), aldermen knew it, everyone knew it except the media who can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that evil comes in all shapes and sizes.

      See link here, for commentary by an alderman who got called out on a cop blog:

      Look for the ‘Alderman Replies’ story, preceded by ‘Aldercreature Implies Its Normal’ story.

      The innocent napping student sadly suffers from the conduct of people who look like him and who account for far more than their share of violent crime.

      The fact that modern media can’t bring itself to report this sad truth just makes things worse for everyone, especially the poor blacks stuck in the same neighborhoods as these punks.

      1. makedoanmend

        “The innocent napping student sadly suffers from the conduct of people who look like him and who account for far more than their share of violent crime.”

        The sleeping student referred to in the links who’s a grad student at Yale U, Lolade Siyonbola, is a her.

        Maybe she also suffers because females have been known to riot and Ms. Siyonbola looks like a female.

        Discerning minds must make these distinctions when dissecting discrimination.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        The innocent napping student sadly suffers from the conduct of people who look like him and who account for far more than their share of violent crime

        And white people look like the Wehrmacht.

        This is Robert A. Wilson’s Laurel and Hardy Theory of History: “Now look what you made me do!”

      3. Dita

        he innocent napping student sadly suffers from the conduct of people who look like him and who account for far more than their share of violent crime.

        Oh that’s alright then/sarc

        1. georgieboy

          It is interesting that not one commenter expresses the least sympathy for the person whose life is now in peril. Been conditioned to be callous towards certain kinds of people? Some people born to merit more sympathy than others? What’s that called again?

          False positives (mistaking a napping student for a dangerous person) are humiliating and offensive. Bad but not often fatal.

          False negatives (mistaking a dangerous person for a civil one) can be fatal.

          One young lady is humiliated and angered, and then somewhat vindicated with national press attention; one guy with a deadly cracked skull and no one other than a local police blog to even know that it happened.

          Who is protected by the media, and whose life is judged to be trash?

          These problems are indeed intertwined: law-abiding and civil people are being mistaken for dangerous people because some people misjudge the risk of false positives and negatives, and meanwhile patently violent people who commit a hugely disproportionate share of urban street crime are being protected by the major media in the name of social justice.

          The innocent will continue to be misjudged more often as long as the guilty are protected — self-preservation instincts make that a certainty. Ask the tourist with the cracked skull — if they recover — which kind of error they will first make in the future. Ask Jesse Jackson, who much to his political regret once acknowledged that truth in a moment of candor.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            patently violent people who commit a hugely disproportionate share of urban street crime are being protected by the major media in the name of social justice


            Not really, I think I’ve got a true positive identification here.

          2. pretzelattack

            a false positive is often fatal when a cop identifies a citizen with a cell phone, or nothing at all, as a threat.

    2. Anonymous

      Yale is a gated elite community within a ghetto. It is part of basic security protocols to report people who look out of place. If they didn’t the campus would quickly become a gathering spot for people of social status well below that of the typical Yalie.

      The event was complicated by the fact that the victim refused to show her ID to the campus police. She could have identified herself as a valid member of the Yale community, but where’s the fame in that?

      1. pretzelattack

        no she didn’t. she showed it to them. they said so. still fame, because they should never have been called in the first place. what do you mean “look out of place”? why do you state, and assume, she did something wrong?

      2. marym

        Three police officers went to the scene, where they questioned the two students separately. Siyonbola’s computer, books, notebooks, a blanket and a pillow were in the common room with her, the police reported.


        That’s not out of place in the slightest for a dorm common room.

        It was the second time this same person had called the cops on a black student.

        In a “gated community” a person behaving normally should seem even less likely to be “out of place” than the Starbucks, apartment rental, college tour, etc. situations, when white people have called the cops lately. Except possibly for a very specific need on the part of the caller to put particular people – shall we say – “in their place.”

  20. allan

    Understanding The Appeal Of Claims That “47 Percent” Pay No Income Tax [Tax Policy Center]

    … A fascinating new book, Racial Taxation, by law professor Camille Walsh, helps explain why this particular piece of data resonates so strongly, especially with conservatives. As Walsh demonstrates, while every person who ever engages with the market economy pays some kind of tax at some point in their lives, the term “taxpayer” has often been used in the United States as an exclusive term that defines who deserves access to public goods. The 47 percent statistic found fame as ammunition in a fight over who “counts” as an American, a battle that has raged for centuries.

    Walsh traces the court cases addressing school segregation, starting in the years after the Civil War and continuing through the 1970s. Perhaps surprisingly, this legal contest often was framed in terms of taxes – specifically, who paid property taxes that funded public schools. Walsh documents how African Americans used evidence of their taxpaying to argue for access to tax-funded schools, while segregationists claimed the “taxpayer” label for themselves and argued that residents of color should be excluded from white-only public schools. …

    Volatility taxpayers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      – income tax.

      – Some kind of tax.

      – Property taxes that funded public schools.

      The title is about 47 percent not paying income tax. If we are talking just about income tax, I believe there are arguments that we should not have income tax at all. The IRS deems those arguments by conservatives frivolous, even while the latter are more likely to focus on the 53% who are needlessly destroying money by sending it to the Treasury than the 47% not paying.

  21. Wukchumni

    The fear among Mexican immigrants keeps ramping up here with the latest news that deported families will be subject to separation…

    One odd thing i’ve noticed is anybody driving while Hispanic, tends to go a smidgen under the speed limit, and turn signals which many consider optional in California, are used always.

  22. djrichard

    For Economic Truth Turn To Michael Hudson Paul Craig Roberts (!).

    Zerohedge recently featured one of M. Hudson’s articles, the one most recently featured on NC as well. Interesting to see them trying to reconcile their libertarian DNA with Hudson (and Marx). But at least they’re trying. Unlike our neo-liberal overlords. And that’s actually what is driving ZH to some degree as well. A lot of it is a reaction to our neo-liberal overlords.

    It used to be our overlords understood how to keep us pacified: give us a way to make a living with some stability. Now they have us all re-examining the fundamentals.

    1. Plenue

      “Supply-side economics, with which I am associated, is not an alternative theory to neoliberal economics. Supply-side economics is a successful correction to neoliberal macroeconomic management. Keynesian demand management resulted in stagflation and worsening Phillips Curve trade-offs between employment and inflation. Supply-side economics cured stagflation by reversing the economic policy mix.”

      Gee, he really believes this, doesn’t he?

    2. newcatty

      Its just feudalism in its glorified and techno evolution. Overlords can use tech to control and pacify the plebs and serfs from a global high tower. The overlords have expanded the moats worldwide. The Empire must be dominant in the planetary waters. Of course on land and air as well. Serfs and plans are expendable, and other kingdoms who defy or perhaps even threaten the Empire and its vassal states are to be stopped. Hope we can have a new paradigm for our home planet. I am a believer in love instead of fear.

  23. EoH

    The Ford F-150 production standstill illustrates the lack of resiliency in “just in time” supplier delivery as applied in the US. It also illustrates that resilience is no longer a criterion used in selecting suppliers. It is price, baby, price.

    How long, how well, and through what economic and management vicissitudes a supplier could keep supplying used to be essential criteria. Now they are irrelevant, as are transition costs to switch to new suppliers, much as neoliberal economics ignores resource depletion.

    As with the Grenfell Towers fire, the idea that there are costs and then there are costs seems lost to today’s decision makers. That this happened to Ford’s most profitable product line should send shivers up a lot of spines a long way from Dearborn.

  24. Altandmain

    Typically, your factory that catches on fire is a less-than-ideal place to work, so I wonder what the shop floor was like. And how Ford ended up with no redundancy in their supply chain for a critical part. Automotive maven readers?

    Usually Ford would only have a couple of hours of inventory on hand. Kaizen and just in time manufacturing, although it has its advantages when it works, is uniquely vulnerable to this problem.

    “This company is the only supplier in North America that has the ability to supply this product at the volume Ford requires,” Vadhavkar said.

    Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler buys magnesium instrument panels from the supplier. The speedometer, glove box, steering column support, heating and air-conditioning systems, Vahavkar explained.

    Another article:

    This is going to have effects across the entire automotive industry in North America.

    It will take months to rebuild and realistically a disruption like this will take weeks to resolve. It looks like a bad fire. For those who do not know, when magnesium burns, it burns hot.

    About 21 years ago, there was a similar fire in Japan.

    Isolated fires can be recoverable, but it needs close relationships.

  25. Tim

    Regarding the photo “If only complacency could have worked its way in somewhere.”

    Complacency is the Dove, they are always clueless and clumsy, I’m unsure as to why survival of the fittest has not “x”d them out..

  26. precariat

    RE: links

    “It’s Lake Mead, Jake. ”

    Thanks to Lambert for alluding to “Chinatown.” The vicious corruption depicted by Towne’s script and Polanski’s direction is very timely for the culture, politics and economics of 2018. Jake even takes a banker to task for evicting homeowners at the beginning of the depression-era set film.

    BTW, longtime reader – since 2009 and my first post.

    Thank you Yves, et al for nakedcapitalism.

  27. Daryl

    > The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans Grist

    Recommended reading: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. Near future dystopian sci fi about what happens when well-regulated state militias are needed to protect each state’s water rights…

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