Links 5/23/18

Giant predatory worms invaded France, but scientists just noticed them WaPo

Congress Approves First Big Dodd-Frank Rollback NYT and How Dodd-Frank Rollback Bill Could Come Back to Haunt Us: DealBook Briefing NYT

US has more than 5,600 banks. Consolidation is coming FT. Yves: “This is ridiculous. The US had over 16,000 banks in the late 1980s. ”

Don’t Underestimate This Market Correction Zen Investor

Economic Predictions with Big Data: The Illusion of Sparsity Liberty Street

Italian bank stocks sell off amid political wrangling FT

India Experiments With Opacity With its Own Onshore Financial Centre The Wire

Landmark lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller for decades The Guardian (J-LS).

Pennsylvania sues over troubled Harrisburg incinerator bond deals Reuters (EM).

North Korea

N. Korea preps nuclear site demolition despite US summit doubts Agence France-Presse

Trump says June summit with Kim Jong Un may be postponed Nikkei Asian Review


U.S. Iran strategy reinforces conservatives, endangers region: France Reuters

The Two-State Solution: An Autopsy LRB


U.K. Admits It Must Pay Brexit Bill Even Without Trade Deal Blooomberg

Landlords left with four Shard skyscrapers’ worth of empty space in High Street bloodbath Evening Standard

Cargo Trade Faces Life in the Slow Lane After Brexit Bloomberg. Light begins to break through the fog…

Spanish exports already feeling the brunt of Brexit El Pais

Grenfell Tower insulation ‘never passed safety tests and should not have been used’, investigation finds Independent. NC photos here.


China orders farmers to grow more soybeans despite deal to buy more produce from US South China Morning Post

Chinese satellite launch kicks off ambitious mission to Moon’s far side Nature

New Cold War

Greenwald: Intel Uses Media To Report Informant’s Life In Danger, Turns Out They Are Just Covering Themselves RealClearPolitics

Mueller has no room for mistakes WaPo

The Cold War Culture War American Affairs

Russia, America, and the Biases Within Us Gordon Hahn

Velvet Revolution in Armenia: Russia Stays on the Sidelines Political Violence at a Glance

In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East Defense One. What could go wrong?

Trump Transition

DoD needs to move carefully as it thunders toward cloud migration, DISA officials say Federal News Radio

Grades plummet on latest government IT evaluation Federal Times

Email Is Dangerous Quinn Norton, The Atlantic

Ignore the hype over big tech. Its products are mostly useless The Guardian. Or harmful.

Facebook Fracas

Facebook’s Zuckerberg is home free after European Parliament meeting Global Handelsblatt

Mark Zuckerberg’s answers leave angry EU politicians frustrate FT. That photo…. I think The Zuckerberg’s bio-support team needs to pay more attention to flesh tone and consistency.

Democrats in Disarray

Georgia Election: Stacey Abrams wins Democratic primary Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The Democrats largely abandoned centrist talk to appeal instead to left-leaning voters with a promise of implementing gun control, increasing financial aid for lower-income families and taking steps toward the decriminalization of marijuana…. That’s a stark contrast from more moderate appeals from a generation of Democratic candidates for governor, who often sought the National Rifle Association’s endorsement and touted fiscally conservative policies. They are echoing many in the party’s base who insisted on that shift.”

Democratic voters reject tradition, choosing outsiders in their quest to regain power WaPo. I think the Democrat apparatchiks and their base in the 10% want to “regain power,” as the headline suggests. I’m not sure that all voters cast their votes thinking in those terms.

Health Care

Worsening drug shortages leave providers scrambling for alternatives Modern Healthcare. “Ninety-one percent of nearly 250 emergency physicians surveyed in a new [American College of Emergency Physicians] poll said they had experienced a shortage or absence of critical medicine in their emergency department in the past month. More than one-third said patient outcomes have been negatively affected as a result.”

Uninsured Rate Remains Basically Flat Despite Republicans’ Attempts To Chip Away At Health Law KHN. A good round-up. Remember when ObamaCare was going to be “universal”? Good times.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Folks are shocked – shocked – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops The Register

Imperial Collapse Watch

COUPS, CORPORATIONS, AND CLASSIFIED INFORMATION Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, Suresh Naidu NBER. From 2011, still germane: “We estimate the impact of coups and top-secret coup authorizations on asset prices of partially nationalized multinational companies that stood to benefit from US-backed coups. Stock returns of highly exposed firms reacted to coup authorizations classified as top-secret. The average cumulative abnormal return to a coup authorization was 9% over 4 days for a fully nationalized company, rising to more than 13% over sixteen days. Pre-coup authorizations accounted for a larger share of stock price increases than the actual coup events themselves.”

Class Warfare

Vegas casino workers OK strike that may hobble famed resorts AP. Idea: Meet their demands?

Epic Systems and the Atomization of Employment Disputes Credit Slips

‘Elitist den of hate’: Silicon Valley pastor decries hypocrisy of area’s rich liberals Guardian

How to build a stronger middle class: With respect. Richard Reeves, Brookings Institution. “As I argue in a new Brookings paper, class can be defined along a host of dimensions: by economic resources; education and occupation status; or attitudes, self-perception, and mindset. Determining whether you are ‘middle class’ requires different information for each of these three categories. For the first (cash), we need to see your bank balance. For the second (credentials) we need to see your résumé. For the third (culture), we need to see inside your head.” Sloppy. Reeves conflates “cash” and capital (and the outcome of a social relation with the social relation itself). Still interesting and insightful — the Brits are a foreign country, they do class differently there — but wowsers.

Mind the gap: In the Philippines, language isn’t about words, it’s about class Coconuts Manila

Goldman Sachs Lobby Art Explains Everything That’s Wrong With Our Elites The American Conservative. “Nihilist” deployed a little too freely, I think. Here is the New Yorker version of the same story, from 2010 (“Financial institutions have been taking a lot of hits lately for their role in precipitating the fiscal crisis” (!!)).

How Brain Waves Surf Sound Waves to Process Speech Quanta. Well worth a read. The science is fascinating, but I’m also torn: Monetizing these discoveries without giving the precautionary principle some serious thought seems like a recipe for dystopia.

A Gandhian Stand Against the Culture of Cruelty NYRB (AL).

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. bronco

    “Elitist den of Hate ” guy is spot on .

    Wonder who is going to be the first tech billionaire to swing from an ” proximity sensing web cam equipped ” lamp post.

    1. Eclair

      Don’t hold your breath, bronco.

      “Elitist den of Hate,” is a marvelous tag. Could go for our Seattle neighborhood, with its yard signs declaring “Hate has no Home here,” and welcoming non-white and non-christian neighbors. Except the concept of ‘neighbor’ is a brown Muslim Pakistani tech guy making $300k. The ragged homeless guy pushing a shopping cart gets the police called on him. “Shoo … don’t roost here!”

      1. John Wright

        I saw some of those welcoming signs during a recent visit to Washington State in a relatively well-off area that is time consuming to reach via public transit.

        I have not seen these welcoming signs in California, perhaps because those considering posting the signs might be worried some qualifying person would actually knock on their door asking to be welcomed in.

        1. Jean

          Wealthy people promoting social justice “activism”
          is a merely a cover to continue parasitizing the majority of other citizens.

      2. Jack Lifton

        Southeastern Michigan, the three counties that include (the former) Detroit is already a perfect example of the next stage of American reversion to the middle-ages. The “metro” area, aka the part of Wayne County outside of Detroit’s city limits, and the counties of Macomb and Oakland have completely filtered their populations by economic class. Only small isolated communities of poor whites, blacks, and browns remain outside of Detroit proper. Of course we have the local elitists who tell the world that because one rapacious (He originates subprime loans) “billionaire” has built a feudal enclave in the “downtown” area where (clueless) millennials can rent lofts and sip $15 martinis (pace New Yorkers. I know you think that is a reasonable price) and work in air conditioned aeries and contemplate philosophies while destroying the lives and hopes of their servants with “affordable” mortgages.
        Of course to view it as I do above you must know a little of world history, sociology, economics, and the like, but, of course, our contemporary elites make sure that although you know a lot about discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation (remember that descriptive phrase?), and the like, you are no longer educated by our increasingly worthless universities, so you think that this is and has always been the normal.
        At night downtown Detroit is mostly a ghost town populated in one place, the casino area, by millennials oblivious to the massive police presence and certainly not encumbered by the need to see the city’s desparately poor who have returned from their few menial jobs in the glitter palaces to block upon block of burned out and abandoned homes where drugs, gangs, and fear predominate. The highway leading out of the city is quiet at night, since the night watch has mostly closed the gates just as in medieval times.
        Such was the great experiment of the melting pot until sloth, greed, fear, and economic imperialism by a small “class” of fools brought it to its knees. The world (anyway, our world) now reverts to the jungle. Only the law of the jungle still prevails.
        I guess its sad, but as I view an even more advanced stage of societal decomposition, California, I wonder how bad it’s really going to get. I’m sure though that the local politicians will continue to blame racism and discrimination, and that the court jesters we send to Washington from here will assure us that their party will “fix” the problem.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Which, of course, they won’t. Until, that is, they start talking—-and taking—-anti-trust action.

          Google, Facebook, and Amazon have accumulated unprecedented wealth by giving us free or cheap stuff. Wealth equals political power. Always has and always will.

          We are exchanging our democracy and, ultimately, our freedom for trinkets. When the deal is done, we might not have benevolent government but at least we’ll have free videos. Censored of course.

          Recommended:. Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin

        2. Mildred Montana

          Which they won’t of course. Until, that is, they start talking—-and taking—-anti-trust action.

          Google, Facebook, and Amazon have accumulated unprecedented wealth by giving us free or cheap stuff. Wealth equals political power. Always has and always will.

          We are exchanging our democracy and ultimately our freedom for trinkets. When the deal is done, we might not have benevolent government but at least we’ll have free videos. Censored of course.

          Recommended:. Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin

      3. Wukchumni

        Some of the local communities welcoming signs are pretty much all in Spanish, such as when you’re in Ivanhoe, Ca., vainly looking for something written in English. Wiki says it’s 83.5% Hispanic in population, and that seems on the low side.

          1. Wukchumni

            VDH is a racist’s racist, not that there’s anything right with that, aside from political affiliation.

      4. JBird

        So sexism, racism, homophobia, are all bad but hating poor people is just fine? Especially if the poor are your neighbors or fellow Americans? Oooookay. Maybe the hatred comes from the fear that they might become just like their neighbors? Which is much easier than many would like to think.

    2. Arizona Slim

      He is the kind of pastor who would inspire me to go back to being a regular church goer.

      1. Wukchumni

        A number of years ago we were walking near the flume in the National Park and there was a sluice gate that made sure not too much water was taken from the main fork of the Kaweah River, and on it were the raised words:

        Union Iron Works, SF

        So, we got home and I checked it out and the Union Iron Works built railroads, ships and was a major concern, who knew?

        Fast forward to today, and both what the pastor and Silicon Valley pushes, is for the most part invisible.

        1. Jean

          They were located in San Francisco at Hunter’s Point which later became a navy base through eminent domain in WWII and now is a radiation contaminated site on which new compressed sawdust apartments are built by the Chinese controlled Lenar corporation for the benefit of gullible chumps seeking housing there next to the legacy housing projects.
          See how things progress?

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s not the SF Bay Bayard Taylor wrote of, when reporting on the California Gold Rush for Horace Greeley, in his magnificent “Eldorado: Adventures In The Path Of Empire”.

            @ one point when he’s on a ship that’s left SF Harbor and is in the middle of the bay, the city catches fire and he’s got a grandstand seat for the action.

            A lot of times writers wrote in the colloquialism of the era, which can be trying when the wordage changes, but Taylor wrote for the ages, a good scribe.

            Interesting how in a contaminated area such as Hunter’s Point, all is well again.

            It’s similar to huge dumps in the L.A. area that close down and then they build homes on top of them, after carefully sealing the land, etc, etc.

            Not a hard choice for me, would you like to purchase a new home built on top of a dump, or one elsewhere?

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Yeah. Agreed. It’s past time that our dueling elites on both sides (and their lesser minions) were smacked around regularly by men of God. The right wing Republican “patriotism” pearl clutchers deserved every word of Rev. Wright’s condemnations in 2008. The Silicon Valley elite and their high class servitors in Palo Alto deserve the same – today – from a young, gay, Baptist preacher.

        Arrogant, self-serving liars should be called out on the floor by Christians.

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        one huckster calling out a different class of much more successful hucksters does not mean you should start following the first one

    3. David

      Yes, spot on. I think most worthwhile religions have always stressed that your first duty is to your neighbour and those close to you. This of course is anathema to liberalism, as most recently represented by Silicon Valley, for whom your neighbour is your competitor and your potential enemy. Much easier to love somebody far away whom you don’t actually have to interact with. Indeed, as liberalism chews up the few remaining things that keep communities and neighbourhoods together, and creates a society of atomised, advantage-seeking individuals, it faces the problem of how to motivate them to do anything together. The answer, as throughout history, is hate. In a neat reversal of history the original advertised virtues of liberalism are now turning into hatred of The Other as a mobilisation tool.

      1. UserFriendly

        The end of that link has all the nosy neighbors phone numbers and email addresses that complained and got him fired by the way…

        Way to go city of Palo Alto for doxing them. lol

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      class hate is the only hate still allowed, but only in the top-down direction

  2. Expat

    I read the NYRB article about violence and class twice. If anyone can parse it for me and tell me what the author is trying to say other than that violence is bad and “here’s a whole bunch of names I found on Wikipedia” I would be thankful. I suspect the author is a victim of abuse.
    I also dispute the notion of Gandhism or a Gandhian Stand as being a good thing. Gandhism and the various Gandhis who ruled India were responsible for millions of deaths.

    1. Summer

      Those pearl clutching about violence articles always gloss over the violence embedded in institutions and everyday life, the violence of those desperate to maintain their status, power, and myths – the violence of their “order.”

      1. dcblogger

        solving your problems with violence is like solving your problems with alchahol, all you have is your problems plus alchahol. Our health neglect system is a giant act of violence against the 99%, but acting violently against the health insurance parasites won’t get anyone healthcare. It would just make everything worse.

        1. JTMcPhee

          …but it seems that as with the labor movement in America That Used to Be, and many other circumstances, one thinks of various old revolutions, it took violence, and the willingness to both resort to violence and accept the violence you get back (in spades, squared) from the Owners, to get the way of redress of grievances and re-allocation of wealth and power. Not, as observed by many folks here, that over the long haul there will be anything like “social justice” (whatever that means) given the nature of the human creature and the ghosts and manifestations of the institutions that always seem ineluctably to recur. At anything other than maybe a very small scale, very localized, where the divisible issues are relatively minute.

          At least the violence might serve a purgative and retributive effect, and with any luck, some of the malefactors might be rendered ‘unfit for purpose” going forward. And while the malefactors hold a huge upper hand, panopticon and willing thugs to protect them and control of financial structures and “trade,” losing a few of their number might change the calculus a little. I’m not hopeful, but it’s sad to be taken down without at least putting up a fight.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        “always gloss over the violence embedded in institutions and everyday life”

        “Every year the international finance system kills more people than the Second World War. But at least Hitler was mad, you know.” – Ken Livingstone

    2. Olga

      Third time a charm…? Thanks for the comment – I may have skipped the article without it. To me, at least, the point is quite clear. The pressures of modern society lead to dehumanization and a certain degree of cruelty toward our fellow human beings. Maybe this sentence expresses it best: “Our own deeply unequal and bitterly polarized societies, however, have fully validated Rousseau’s fear that people divided by extreme disparities would cease to feel compassion for another.”
      And this: “The puzzle of our age is how this essential foundation of civic life went missing from our public conversation, invisibly replaced by the presumed rationality of individual self-interest, market mechanisms, and democratic institutions.”
      As for solutions – the author writes about forgiveness, acknowledging that it will not be easy or quick.

      1. Expat

        I disagree with the premise that modern society leads to dehumanization. Dehumanization is as old as society starting with small tribes. There has always been Us and Them. Dehumanization of those within our tribe probably dates back to the first cities where it became impossible to know everyone personally.

        i don’t think rich people feel compassion for each other. I don’t think many segments of the poor population feel compassion for other segments of the poor population (try organizing a bbq with half poor whites from Texas and half poor blacks from Compton).

        Gandhi was not about forgiveness, at least not in practice. Gandhi was about strategically avoiding conflict and letting others fight for you or allowing conflict to explode through non-violent inaction. As for Rajiv Gandhi forgiving his killers, it is noble, perhaps, but who cares? It is hardly universal as a sentiment and rarely applied in any serious format in national or international policies.

        1. witters

          “As for Rajiv Gandhi forgiving his killers, it is noble, perhaps, but who cares?”

          It is as if you read the Mishra essay and decided to prove it true.

    3. JBird

      I think the point is feeling compassion for the other and not doing so leads to evil. The writer made a point of explaining that while Gandhi might turn to be another corrupt leader, he forgave the man who explosively dismembered his father and the guards who shot his grandmother to death and felt compassion for what happened to the assassins; the victims were responsible for the very extremism that caused their deaths.

  3. JTMcPhee

    Health care — uninsured rate remains basically flat.

    “Insured” does not equal “actual health care. “ Of course.

  4. Darius

    Rather than build nukes, or in addition to building nukes, why doesn’t Iran seek protection from US aggression under the Russian and Chinese nuclear umbrellas?

    1. sleepy

      I doubt if either Russia or China would be interested in a military commitment if it would require them to respond with nuclear weapons to an attack on Iran. Beyond that, I don’t think either nation is interested in any sort of international defense pacts.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The US hasn’t demobilized from a war that occurred three generations ago. Seeing how the permanent occupation — NATO — is bankrupting the US, Russia and China wisely view America’s unwieldy, decaying military empire as a cautionary tale rather than a model.

        With a GDP about the same as New York City’s ($1.3 trillion), Russia is in no position to bleed 4 or 5 percent of its limited GDP on militarizing distant allies.

        After all, the dismal science is about scarcity. Russia’s carefully considered choices of how to spend its limited means reflect this. For instance, Russia’s decision not to supply its most advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria for now may be an example of limits imposed by economic feasibility.

        By contrast, the insidious illusion that the US can borrow unlimited amounts at less than 3 percent interest has enabled a vast value-subtraction US economy that is slowly but surely eradicating its own middle class. Watch and wait …

        1. Lee

          The support of the citizenry of an empire for an empire is dependent upon their receiving a share of the spoils from the super exploitation of other peoples and their resources that is greater in value than the costs of supporting it . I sometimes have the sneaking suspicion that neoliberals and neocons fail to realize this basic rule of accounting or that in one unpleasant way or another, the books will eventually get balanced.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            yup. per Jefferson: ” I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: …”

            Most folks I interact with, IRL and online, take exception with me insisting that we’re an empire.
            Actual Socialists readily acknowledge this, but for those closer to the mainstream, it’s a sort of taboo.
            Maybe because it’s new, strange form of imperialism…not perfectly analogous to Rome or Great Britain…and maybe our general ignorance of history and the broader world plays a part, too.
            In my county of 5000 souls, I can think of maybe 4 “kids” who are in the armed services…so there’s that disconnect, as well.
            Out of sight, out of mind.
            The only Veterans left out here are from the Viet Nam Era, and that cohort seems to consist of either those who have accepted the pointlessness of that war, and become drunks…or those who cannot accept it, and double down on the hyperpatriotism. To the latter, the Idea of an American Empire is sacrilege.
            This all falls into a broader theme that’s been bothering me for some time…who are we?
            what is “Liberalism”, “Progressivism”, “Conservatism”, an “American”?
            ( )

            We use all these shorthand placeholders for very large ideas and ideals, but never really examine their content…we never attempt to define terms.
            Since they could speak, I’ve taken my boys on long Socratic journeys…under the tree or in the truck(captive audience!) to try to get them to think about such things….and have lamented that the school library threw out everything from Plato to Locke(I got a tip and was there to salvage them).
            Is it that we don’t have time to think?…has the perceived need been driven out of us by the Rulers?
            I don’t know. But it worries me.
            Heck, I even volunteered to teach intro Philosophy to 2nd graders…twice.
            Glazed over eyes looked at me as if I had grown a bunch of feathers out of my ears.
            I do get to surreptitiously insert Socratic Dialog when the boys have their buddies over, and I’ve noticed that the boys, themselves, have been paying attention to their nutty dad, after all…and that they attempt to do the same(which makes me prouder than anything).

      1. Carolinian

        “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      2. Wukchumni

        Why would Iran have to build nukes if there’s already manufacturers out there, and i’m looking @ you, Rocket Man.

        It’d be like me deciding to build my own refrigerator from scratch, when I could just go to Lowe’s and choose from a few dozen different ones.

        1. Lee

          I use Consumer Reports when purchasing appliances. Do they have ratings for nukes and ICBMs? Wouldn’t that be cool?

          1. Wukchumni

            It’d be very informative as far as temperature settings were concerned, i’d imagine.

        2. JTMcPhee

          Rocket Man has gone on to actually produce nukes. As has Israel, maybe several hundred of them, And how many countries are at the point of techincal competence that they have gone all the way up to just short of actually packing the nuclear material into the devices? Japan,, Saudi Arabia, maybe? Brazil? So far, the only national government that appears to have undone anactual nuclear weapons program is South Africa,

          So is the idea that North Korea, following the model of Nuclear Khan in Pakistan,, going to be building and ‘marketing’ nukes to other national governments? Or was the comment just a bit of snark, since the people who have nukes are seemingly pretty willing to use them to extinguish the ambitious who might want to have their own death machines?

          1. The Rev Kev

            To be fair here, Israel did ‘market’ their nukes to South Africa. That is where they got them from. Even did a test explosion in the South Atlantic together.

  5. Molly

    “Mark Zuckerberg’s answers leave angry EU politicians frustrated” – FT is paywalled.

    1. John Zelnicker

      May 23, 2018 at 8:12 am
      If you copy and paste the headline into a search engine you should be able to find a link to get around the paywall.

    2. Koldmilk

      Molly wrote: “Mark Zuckerberg’s answers leave angry EU politicians frustrated” – FT is paywalled.

      I Googled the headline and clicked on Google’s link which then gave me the article at the same URL as NC but without the paywall intervening. So there’s some referrer magic on Google’s side.

        1. Craig H.

          I watched the three minute clip on RT. Zuckerberg looked like you could not have pulled a pin out of his ass with a tractor.

          If you could diagnose from a three minute video clip (you cannot diagnose from a three minute video clip) I am going with amphetamines.

        2. Lee

          I hate to admit this about myself but Mr. Z has one of those banality-of-evil faces I’d just love to punch. I know, I know, that probably means I’m a bad person. But in a very limited way. Unlike Mr. Z, for whom the motto “to serve man” is in the end a cook book on the preparation of human flesh for consumption. Metaphorically speaking, I suppose.

          1. ewmayer

            Last year, in the context of smug-faced PharmaBro Martin Shkreli, a great german word for a face-needing-punching was mentioned hereabouts: Backpfeifengesicht. (Backe = cheek, pfeifen = whistling noise, hence Backpfeife as a colloquialism for a punch in the face.) In Zuck’s case, the combination of needing-to-be-punchedness and the unnatural pallor would merit an added qualifier: Käseweißes Backpfeifengesicht.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I thought that it was just me be it seems plenty of other people have noticed the remarkable resemblance between Mark Zuckerberg and Data from Star Trek. Even the mannerisms are getting uncanny and here is an example of one such story-

      And before another Commentator/Trekkie jumps in, yes, I know that in his behaviour he more resembles Data’s evil brother Lore.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Flesh tone and consistency

        Whoever succeeds at that can look forward to monopolize the human-like robot market, or at least a job in the movie makeup business.

      2. a different chris

        Certainly a little closer to Lore, but to me the biggest thing about Lore was all the charm his evil was soaked in. Zuckerberg? Charm? Hahahahahaha

        1. polecat

          I think he’s more akin to Ash, the ‘Science Officer’ assigned to the Nostromo .. and about as .. uh .. ‘likeable’ .
          … and he’s constantly collating whilst standing before commitees.

    4. BillS

      I heard a reporter on Belgian radio refer to him this morning as “Mr. Sorryberg.” I had to laugh! He’s very good at faking contrition, a bit like a college boy caught with a girl in his bedroom by his parents. Lots of “sorry” and “it’ll never happen again” with no intention of changing behavior.

  6. Tom Stone

    As more and more comes out about the 2016 Presidential election the question that comes to my mind is a simple one.
    Are our elites clinically insane?
    The corruption and incompetence are glaringly obvious to a breathtaking degree, so obvious that the question of sanity inevitably comes to mind.

    1. pretzelattack

      i don’t know if h clinton wearing the russian hat is clinically insane. i don’t know that it isn’t.

      1. ambrit

        Somehow I see that as HC giving everyone else “the finger.” All of us, not just Trumpistas.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Isn’t it a bit too warm for one of those hats?

        I mean, come on, Hillary. You were those hats during the Russian winter. And, surprise-surprise, it isn’t winter in Moscow anymore.

        1. Wukchumni

          To be fair, i’d rather have her in the millinery, than in charge of the military.

          1. Arizona Slim

            If she really wanted to dress like a Russian in winter, well, she’d be wearing a fur coat. Yes, a fur coat. Because that’s how Russians roll. They didn’t get the PETA memo about wearing fur.

            Or, if she’s looking for a real mental challenge, here’s one:


        2. The Rev Kev

          Personally I find it a bit suspicious that she just ‘happens’ to have a Russian hat handy. I think that we have finally found our Russian Manchurian candidate.

      1. Expat

        They are mostly sociopaths. They also live in a bubble and have no idea how “real people” live or what their struggles are. They rationalize their success and claim they earned it. If they are worth $100 million they claim to be self-made men because Daddy left them only $30 million. If they lied, cheated and stole their fortunes (psst, they ALL did), they rationalize that it was only because the rules are unfair and everyone else was doing it. Therefore, anyone who is not rich is lazy and stupid.

        People were shocked when Bush went into a supermarket and was stunned by the spaceage technology of the code bar scanner! That was not an aberration. These people have no clue. And they don’t care because they think they are struggling as hard as some single mom working double shifts at the diner.

        We should renew our elites every twenty years…either toss in the ocean or simply strip their wealth and give it to new people. It would be an interesting social experiment to see if being an elite (rich and powerful) turns you into an asshole or you have to be one to become an elite.

        1. John k

          The drive to succeed. Success is everything, whether the goal is money or political power (money better, then just buy the pols. E.g. buy one or more Clinton’s.)
          Either way, if success is everything, grinding down all in the way, or all that help you, is of no consequence. So drive often generates a holes.
          I’ve often thought that, on the ladder of success, when looking up all you can see. Are a holes. To be fair, Occasionally not true.

        2. Chris

          …simply strip their wealth and give it to new people.

          Or better still, slice and dice equally among the rest. Kinda like Universal Basic Capital.

          If the elites are half as smart as they like to think they are they’d soon get it back.

          1. Expat

            The Right would never go for that since it’s socialism. But they might love the idea of seeing someone above them on the Forbes list stripped of his money and forced to pimp out his daughters to make rent!

  7. Carolinian

    Mike Whitney on Russiagate-gate:

    Let’s cut to the chase: When we look at the long list of potential felonies committed by the Obama team– including bogus FISA warrants, wiretaps, improper unmasking, questionable surveillance on campaign members, and, now, paid informants dredging up whatever dirt they can find on the newly-elected government, we are left scratching our heads wondering, “Is this really America? What on earth were these people thinking??”

    Without getting into the arcana of this story one fundamental question seems to arise. Since the United States is not at war with Russia then–even assuming good faith on the part of the NYT and other FBI defenders–how would “contacts” or even “ties” with Russia justify the highly controversial step of investigating a presidential campaign? The very obscure Logan Act has been cited but that act itself, in a bit of rhyming history, was the result of a political dispute between the then Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties and was yet another of those anti free speech measures favored by John Adams.

    the Logan Act has been rarely enforced, possibly because prosecutors have been concerned that speech between a private citizen and a foreign government may still qualify as free speech and be protected in that regard.

    Since we are not at war with Russia and only notionally (Obama/Hillary’s notion) in a “dispute” with Russia over a country (Ukraine) with which we have no formal alliance, then what is this all about? In truth the media, the establishment, the late night comedians seem to have gone off the deep end or want the US to. We can call it a coup attempt even if they never will.

    1. Jim Haygood

      What on earth were these people thinking??

      To paraphrase a beloved expression from the distant days of Watergate, “What did he [Obama] know and when did he know it?”

      It seems highly unlikely that John Brennan’s CIA-FBI interagency spying task force was a self-organizing conspiracy. Bureaucrats don’t venture that far out on a career-risking limb without at least a nod and a wink from the oval office.

      “Chicago values” will out. Show us the hidden hand! ;-)

      1. Carolinian

        There was a feud going on between Obama and Trump because of the birther thing and because Obama made fun of Trump at the correspondent’s dinner. Trump decided to get his revenge by running for Obama’s job (and winning!) while Obie decided to get his revenge “Chicago style.”

        At least that’s one theory of recent events. We are ruled by children.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Question: Did they treat Sanders the way back then?

      Is there more to be uncovered?

  8. diptherio

    In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East Defense One. What could go wrong?

    From October, 2017. Wonder what the current state of affairs is.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You wonder if the US Army trained the Ukrainian army as well as the pre-ISIS Iraq army. I would guarantee you that there is no way that the Russians would sit back and let the Ukrainian army take over the Novorossiya republics as that would lead to open slaughter by Fascist formations of the Ukrainian army. That last bit is not an exaggeration as some of them have been spotted wearing emblems from that belief system.
      The Ukrainian, for all intents and purposes, is a NATO army in training and is being readied for invasion. The Novorossiya republics are literally fighting for their lives with their families living with them and their backs to the wall. It probably explains the stalemate at the moment. Calling these people terrorists is a bit rich but then again, that is what the US military called the Iraqis fighting the US occupation troops.
      Like the Syrians, the Novorossiyas have not only been fighting Ukrainians but forces from all over Europe including some in an official capacity. There are reports of American military getting killed during the fighting a few years ago as well as from other countries. NATO supports the Ukrainians heavily and I remember seeing one image of a visiting dignitary to a forward command post but you could see the laptop to the side had the NATO wallpaper on it and was probably connected to NATO itself. Just what the world needs. A proxy war on Russia’s border. And you wonder why they feel paranoid.

      1. Sid Finster

        Russia is not paranoid, any more than a person being continually harassed and threatened is not paranoid.

        Now, keep in mind that when he was a candidate, Trump was singing (to the hand-wringing consternation of neocons everywhere) a very different tune regarding Ukraine. For that matter, so did Obama when he was a candidate, and after he was elected, Obama even made noises about changing tack after re-election. So what happened?

        The Deep State, that’s what.

      2. JTMcPhee

        From the Department of Defense’s compendious 2018 Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, this little definition (which has changed a lot over the 8 or so years I have been following this text:)

        “insurgency — The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. (JP 3-24)”

        Tell me that this does not exactly describe the foreign/military/commercial activities of our own, our native land’s Rulers…

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Vegas casino workers OK strike that may hobble famed resorts AP. Idea: Meet their demands?

    What would China want to buy more of from the U.S.?


    1. More gambling they can not get at home
    2. Marijuana, again because they can’t get that in China
    3. Baby formula
    4 maternity care. The high end here is better than the high end there. Plus ours give an extra gift.

    1. Wukchumni

      4 maternity care. The high end here is better than the high end there. Plus ours give an extra gift.
      Growing up when people used to play tennis, we would sneak onto the Pheasant Ridge apartments courts near the Puente Hills mall and do our best Jimmy Connors impersonation, which was pitiful @ best. But it didn’t matter, the courts were newish and lit @ night.

      Fast forward to today, and just about any time of day, you’ll see expectant Chinese women taking a stroll on Colima Road, the main drag which Pheasant Ridge is on.

      In Rowland Heights, the Pheasant Ridge apartments on Colima Road is the home of at least one maternity hotel. The company, Mother of American, displays on its website an image of an expectant woman draped in an American flag. In the parking lot, pregnant women heading to and from the nearby Puente Hills Mall are a common sight.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think, in 2011 or 2012, the levitating rock that currently sits at the LA Country Museum of Art was transported through there, along Colima Road.

  10. cocomaan

    If it’s found out that the entire Mueller investigation was some kind of coverup for an active Obama investigation during 2016 into his opposition, heads are gonna…

    … oh wait, who am I kidding. Nobody will give a damn because Trump is a sexist.

    It is sad that Obama’s most enduring legacy (as people on here have said to me) is surveillance of the American people. With this cesspool of news about informants swirling, I am pretty sure at this point that the Obama administration was using its surveillance powers against opposition opponents thinking two things:

    * HRC would become president, in which case their actions wouldn’t get them into trouble.

    * Trump would become president, in which case they could create some entrapment scenarios surrounding an enemy Du Jour called Russia.

    Mueller and Comey are corrupt as hell. And morons to boot. Their handling of the Anthrax attacks show how bankrupt they are morally and how they couldn’t investigate their way out of a wet paper bag.

      1. cocomaan

        Hah, exactly.

        I am really convinced that most of these intelligence community people are not only morons, but wankers. And I mean that literally, in the vein of the SEC’s problems with watching porn at work. As Lambert says, Grifters gotta Grift, and after reading the Page/Strozk texts, the intelligence community appears to be a bunch of self-important idiots who mostly sit around doing nothing all day.

        And I do mean nothing. Reading the anthrax investigation work, you see years of work with hundreds of agents and, at the end, zero conclusion. Netflix had a really boring show on there about the Unabomber. It’s based on true events. The most interesting thing to me was that the agent who cracked the case walked into an office building full of agents trying to profile the Unabomber and failing for years. That’s millions of taxpayer dollars.

        It’s really amazing that the democrats deify these people. But I guess it’s sort of like the health insurance industry – a bunch of jobs where people spend their time robbing people of life, liberty, and property.

        David Graeber talks in his Bureaucracy book about how we act as if law enforcement (and I’d extend it to intelligence) is some kind of proactive force. And it is in many communities. But he points out that the vast majority of what they do is recording incidents, no actually doing anything – “Cat stuck in tree” and “someone robbed someone” and “someone drank in public”.

        1. bronco

          Its not amazing. There are millions of government workers trying to do as little as possible all day. There is a whole ecosystem of work that is about avoiding actually working.

          Not that there is nothing to do , theres plenty to do . There are plenty of capable people ensnared in the swamp that probably just throw up their hands and decide , if I can’t beat them I better join them.

          1. makedoanmend

            “There are millions of government workers trying to do as little as possible all day.”

            I think a big blanket statement like needs some evidence to back it up.

            You ever worked in the US post office? Department of motor vehicles? Passport control? IRS? …

            In my short sojourn in New York (10 yrs), I came across many US government workers and they seemed to work plenty.

            1. pretzelattack

              especially given the privatization and the difficulty getting a permanent position.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Maybe some government workers.

              And it’s actually a good thing. Here, I am thinking of soldiers.

              Perhaps they train, but is that work? That is, if I practice writing, in a cafe, can that training qualify as work in a JG program? Or am I doing nothing?

            3. cocomaan

              I’d defend Bronco by saying that it totally depends on the agency.

              The Department of Defense seems to be to be a site of infinite graft. That goes for civil servants as well as contractors, who are probably the worst of the bunch.

              Post Office actually has a deliverable. The DoD has nothing to show for their actions. Their work, when it’s popping off, is deflationary.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It’s better if the soldiers and generals just get paid, and not put in any unnecessary overseas ‘field work.’

                And if that is called Basic Income, we’ll take it.

          2. jonhoops

            If you’ve ever worked at a big private corporation, this is pretty much the drill. I always laugh when someone tries to claim that the private sector is “efficient”.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Re: Obummer’s putrid legacy: normalizing the war on whistleblowers runs a close second. Thanks Obama, you con man!

      1. cocomaan

        And maybe a close third is the endless starting and strengthening and otherwise making wars.

        By this point in the Obama presidency he’d sent a bundle of troops off to the poppy fields and McChrystal was about to get fired because of Mike Hastings. Libya was about to start as well as Syria.

        The political realignment is incredible. The Democrats are the party of war now.

      2. Jim Haygood

        It is painful to read so many comments about Obama with not even a mention of the great Joe Biden, who did so much to cement America’s relations with its second-best friend in the whole world, the heroic Ukies. :-(

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China orders farmers to grow more soybeans despite deal to buy more produce from US South China Morning Post

    Probably also order their production managers in Africa to grow more too, if possible.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Still, the news is disconcerting, in the wake of Mnuchin’s claim that he had secured ‘trade peace in our time.’

      What new Sudetenland did we give away this time to get trade-peace?

      1. ambrit

        If these people involved in positions of importance weren’t so bloody awful at everything they put their hands to, I’d make a joke about China extracting “trade concessions” and ‘extraterritoriality’ for their citizens in “Spheres of Interest” in American Pacific coastal ports. Say, the “Chinese Bund” in Long Beach or the “Golden Opportunities Trade Enclave” in San Francisco.
        Turnabout is fair game.
        The basic premise behind Dicks’ “The Man in the High Castle” is sound. Only the details are in flux.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I asked before why they didn’t grow their own soybeans. Apparently the same question occurred to them.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Mueller has no room for mistakes”

    Did…did the Washington Post just compare Robert Mueller to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman? I hope that they are not hyping him up as a future Presidential candidate as the guy is already 74 years old. That makes him two years older than Donald Trump and Trump is already the oldest President the US has had.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t trust myself when I have Iberian Jamon in the refrigerator.

            It’s too tempting to not want to eat more.

            So, I ask, when we trust ourselves?

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          Same people in the 60s saying “Don’t trust anyone over 30” are the ones in the 10s saying “Don’t trust anyone under 30” without any sense of irony

          1. Wukchumni

            Oh how I wanted to go to Woodstock, but no way mom was gonna let a 7 year old late stage baby boomer go by himself.

            1. Tangled Up in Texas

              That’s funny. I was a little late to the party for Woodstock, but asked my mom if I could go to the concert at Grass Lake (Michigan) – at the ripe age of ten no less. For some reason she would not let me go even though I had a ride lined up and everything! LOL

            2. Oregoncharles

              Woodstock was at the other end of the country, but I did go to Sky River in Washington and to Vortex near Portland – history’s only state-sponsored rock festival. (Long story – and quite an event. Mostly local bands.)

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Follks are shocked – shocked – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops The Register

    The CIA backed Amazon.

    To many mainstream news consumers, that is the shocking part, no? And not what they are selling (not immediately shocking).

    1. Brian

      But the technology doesn’t work and no one cares. Remember, our government has always looked for ideas from television shows to expand their war games and toys. Currently they are working on transformers. Large cars that can turn themselves into comedians and drag queens to entertain the troops. Its going to be bloody out there. I suspect all the armies will destroy each other and peace will leak out.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not the technology, but the finance (backed by the CIA?) that people might care about.

    1. sd

      Night crawlers have been around northern New England for at least 7 decades. Am I missing something?

      1. cocomaan

        Yeah, I’d have to read the original paper, but even in my garden I’m lucky to get 50% germination if I direct sow outside.

        The worms eat seeds because the seeds are rotting.

  14. Lee

    Ignore the hype over big tech. Its products are mostly useless The Guardian. Or harmful.

    I swear, the tech hype these days remind me of me….when I was high on cocaine. But that was long ago, in another country, and besides, and the wench (my dealer) is dead.

    1. JamesG

      Further:large banks can do large deals as in financing the Mexican City subway (Chase was involved) or other international projects.

      Japan, Germany, France the UK, etc. all have large (mainly commercial) banks because their governments do not prevent nation-wide banking.

      A bank with a few million depositors could do a lot more to help an economy (finance major projects) than on with much fewer.

        1. JamesG

          I know.


          I tried to cut it and paste it into the proper thread.

          Pasting worked cutting did not.

  15. JamesG

    “US has more than 5,600 banks. Consolidation is coming.”

    Not long ago (mid-1970s) the number was over thirteen thousand. Individual banks. Not bank branches.

    Result of the anti-bigness attitude that has permeated much of US culture since its founding.

    One company benefitted from our crazy banking arrangements: American Express which sold travelers checks because we had no nation-wide bank companies.

    A problem aggravated by individual states having their own laws. Illinois, for example, banks from having any branches. Perhaps it still does.

    One should learn this in kindergarten: the USA is a large country. We need large banks, large corporation and other big entities. Yes we need small ones too. But there were, for example, never any mom-and-pop transcontinental railroads.

    1. a different chris

      >the anti-bigness attitude

      ???? A lot of that atitude was, you know, completely well founded in actual behavior. People were not stupid. To your example: the behavior of the “transcontinental railroads” and their political backers is not a pretty read. Most of the point of that wasn’t to get stuff from the Pacific to the Atlantic, but to move a lot of foodstuffs in-between. Of course the people that grew said foodstuffs got, well stuffed in the deal. You of course know this (from kindergarten or whenever)?

    2. JohnnyGL

      Large banks in this country have a history of excessive political power which has enabled looting, law-breaking, and aided and abetted massive misallocation of capital. They blew tons of money on real estate projects, both commercial and residential, in the run up to 2008 and now blowing billions more on the failed business model of fracking for oil/gas. These are real costs to society that far outweigh any benefits justified.

      Most academic studies have indicated diminishing returns to scale when it comes to banks above a fairly modest size. Yves has written plenty on this subject.

      1. JamesG

        Once upon a time there were “banks” which meant commercial banks and there were “investment banks” which meant Goldman, Morgan Stanley and their ilk.

        The termination of Glass Seigle (sp?) has muddied matters (and ought to be reenacted IMO.

        1. JamesG

          Further:large banks can do large deals as in financing the Mexican City subway (Chase was involved) or other international projects.

          Japan, Germany, France the UK, etc. all have large (mainly commercial) banks because their governments do not prevent nation-wide banking.

          A bank with a few million depositors could do a lot more to help an economy (finance major projects) than on with much fewer.

          1. hunkerdown

            Large governments can do even bigger deals than large banks, and without paying private bankers just for existing.

            Please, read up on MMT.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Financial crisis ended a long-standing prohibition on branch banking in Texas:

      By the early 1970s, multibank holding-company systems had developed in Texas –- particularly in metropolitan areas –- encouraged by the state prohibition of branch banking.

      Seven of the ten largest commercial banks in Texas failed between 1987 and 1990. Major Texas banks, with state banking-industry support, persuaded the governor to call the Texas legislature into special session in the summer of 1986.

      The legislature passed an interstate banking law and approved a public referendum in the November election to amend the state’s constitution to permit limited branch banking. The interstate banking law took effect on January 1, 1987.

      Never let a good crisis go to waste, as bankers are wont to say. Crises furnish an ideal background for looting, consolidation and regulatory “reform,” as consumer-depositors wail fecklessly in the back seat.

      1. Lee

        Back in the day, in the insurance biz, we’d run up against competition from companies chartered in Texas. A joke we would tell at the time was, “If you had a ten gallon hat, a pair of cowboy boots and a million bucks, you could start an insurance company in Texas.” Maybe not that funny, but a whole lot of truth.

      2. Wukchumni

        The joke was that in Texas in the 80’s, if you bought a toaster, they’d give you a commercial bank as a gift.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Transcontinental Railroad had dire consequences for the Great Plains Indians (or Native Americans).

      One, or a few giant transcontinental banks could be just as a big deal, for all of us.

    5. rd

      The early 90s S&L crisis carved a big divot in local banking. Many “banking” functions were handled locally by S&Ls until then. Now it has shifted to FDIC banks which are consolidating.

      National credit union chains are filling in some of that gap by linking to each other so people can use pretty much any credit union when travelling. But they are still reliant on actual banks for handling many things like issuing mortgages.

    6. Mel

      “Illinois, for example, banks from having any branches. Perhaps it still does.”

      File under Lemons/Lemonade. IIRC an Illinois bank was chartered within a county, and that did make it difficult to have very many branches. It also made some Illinois companies leaders in Automatic Teller Machine Networks as a service, so that the banks fenced in to their counties could still offer services statewide.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Petro is very much to the left of AMLO (Mr Public-Private partnership when he was mayor of Mexico). That said (holding my breath after the Brexit and Trump elections) Petro only polled in 1st before CD defined it’s candidate, so he’s definitely a dark horse.

      And who is this mysterious non-Lula candidate of whom you speak? Last I heard PT said there’s no plan b.

  16. Sid Finster

    This is a very smart move for a politically exposed company such as Amazon.

    For chump change, they can make themselves indispensable to the Deep State.

  17. L

    This: “Economic Predictions with Big Data: The Illusion of Sparsity Liberty Street” is interesting but they are falling into two traps that are inherent in any “big data” exercise. First they seem to ignore the problem of over-fitting. Yes small models are not necessarily selected for but more fit does not always mean more robust. Indeed any judgment based upon a mechanical model-construction approach is sensitive to that. Second they seem to be assuming that their datasets do contain predictive factors, or proxies thereof. If they do not, however large, then the whole exercise is for naught.

  18. L

    China orders farmers to grow more soybeans despite deal to buy more produce from US South China Morning Post

    China’s external food dependency is their achillies heel just as it was for the USSR. With a growing population and an aging population of farmers they basically will need to do this and their demand for US crops, or someone else’s crops, will still grow.

    1. Wukchumni

      China grows the most apples in the world, by a wide margin, as in nearly 10x as much as grown here, for instance.

      Don’t see why they couldn’t do the same with soybeans.

      1. rd

        Land area.

        Apples are fairly high intensity agriculture. Soybeans, corn, and wheat, take lots of land.

        Apples can also be done on hillsides. The other crops work better on large flatter tillable areas.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They probably want to grow ginseng instead of soybeans.

        More money in that.

      3. ewmayer

        I did a duckduckgo search for that by-country statistic, and found, which has a bar chart followed by “This statistic illustrates the global leading apple producing countries in 2016/2017. In that year, the United States was ranked third with an apple production of approximately 4.65 million metric tons worldwide”, *but* the chart actually shows the U.S. ranked 2nd with 12.3 mmt, around 3.5x less China’s 43.5 mmt. According to the chart it is the EU which ~10x lower than China.

  19. savedbyirony

    Bonus antidote

    i am more of a dog person and my family has always had dogs; usually big, slightly goofy retrieving dogs. But we not too long ago adopted a stray cat, or rather he adopted us and moved right in. First cat i have ever had around to watch daily and interact with closely. That is such a cat move, as opposed to a dog reaction in the video; smooth, concise and done with utter purpose. No doubt in my mind that the cat knew exactly what she was doing.

    1. neighbor7

      I aspire to that cat’s aplomb regarding all intrusive technology!

      Please–go about your mission elsewhere!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Nice kung-fu moves on that cat’s part. Didn’t even break his concentration.

  20. IguanaBowtie

    Thanks for the Cold War Culture War article, the first robust piece I’ve read diving into the ‘why’ of everyone in Washington having a massive hate-on for Russia. This is (for me) the big missing piece from the Russiagate puzzle – Trump has been forced away from rapproachment with the Russkies by allegations of collusion, but WHY?

    Ultimately I dont think the author us on the right track, though. Progressive identity politics seems like it’s been very effectively repurposed as a cudgel by the establishment left, but is far from their motivating force. (hence the selective enforcement and hypocracy) Doesn’t account for the Republican-flavored vitriol either. I believe he’s much closer to the truth when talking about Russia’s geopolitical defiance, which he does a good summary of early in the article.

    1. David

      Don’t forget also that this generation of politicians (roughly Clinton’s) were brought up in the Cold War and expected to play a glamorous and exciting role in it when they got older. Their toys were taken away in 1989 and they want them back. Part of this is self-dramatisation and the wish to play heroic and decisive roles that are no longer available.

    2. VietnamVet

      The sudden blossoming of Russia as the enemy in 2014 is astonishing. The Cold War wasn’t fought over communism; but, was and is an endless Great Game. Indeed, the only major Western power not to fight Russia over Crimea is the USA but it is now training an army in Western Ukraine to try to seize it once again. Also, there are side benefits that the oligarchs can’t ignore. The whole military deterrence machine must be rebuilt. Russians aren’t like us. They can be portrayed as insensitive aliens. Most, importantly, a new Cold War avoids looking inward and acknowledging the collapsing Western Alliance. Just maybe, scapegoating Russia will postpone a bourgeoisie revolt.

      The new Cold War, trashing of the rule of law, and Chicago level corruption are the three legacies of the Obama Administration.

    1. sd

      Someone should invent an app for that. As soon as the ‘customer’ is in the ambulance, and certainly before the oxygen mask goes on, the ‘customer’ can whip out their smartphone and make sure everything at their destination is covered in network.

      I can see a market for package deals with in app purchasing from drop down menus – going to the ER will be just like planning a vacation to Europe.

        1. sd

          To use this tool, you will need to know the Texas ZIP code where your medical procedure takes place.

          Excuse me driver, do you know the zip code of the ER we are headed towards? I need to compare rates.

  21. Synoia

    Giant predatory worms invaded France, but scientists just noticed them

    German speaking or Muslims?

  22. Wukchumni

    Pavlovegas is all about reinforcement one way or another.

    You pull the lever and a treat comes out occasionally. And so it goes with the striking casino workers, salivating for a raise.

  23. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT’s obituary of Philip Roth:

    Mr. Roth moved back East and began work on “Portnoy’s Complaint,” the novel for which he may be best known and which surely set a record for most masturbation scenes per page. It was a breakthrough not just for Mr. Roth but for American letters, which had never known anything like it: an extended, unhinged monologue, at once filthy and hilarious, by a neurotic young Jewish man trying to break free of his suffocating parents and tormented by a longing to have sex with gentile women, shiksas.

    The book was “an experiment in verbal exuberance,” Mr. Roth said, and it deliberately broke all the rules.

    The novel, published in 1969, became a best seller but received mixed reviews. Josh Greenfeld, writing in The New York Times Book Review, called it “the very novel that every American-Jewish writer has been trying to write in one guise or another since the end of World War II.” On the other hand, Irving Howe (on whom Mr. Roth later modeled the pompous, stuffy critic Milton Appel in “The Anatomy Lesson”) wrote in a lengthy takedown in 1972, “The cruelest thing anyone can do with ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ is read it twice.”

    And once again the rabbis complained. Gershom Scholem, the great kabbalah scholar, declared that the book was more harmful to Jews than “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

    Portnoy’s Complaint was as much a product of its time (1969) as Woodstock. It’s fiction writing with the volume turned up to 11 from start to finish.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yeah, I remember that one. Beware references to liver. Perfectly in keeping with the times.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It sounds very universal in that longing.

      And that takes us again to Intimacy Inequality.

      Some people have 1,000 lifetime encounters of gentile and non-gentile kinds. Some yearn for 2 lifetime encounters, some 10 or 100.

      Still others hold veto power.

    1. sd

      Little misunderstanding – just recode the original payment as a speaking fee or reroute as a donation to a foundation for a “global initiative”

    2. ewmayer

      Not that I think Cohen is above such stuff, but I treat the kind of “Kiev says!” allegations captured by “according to sources in Kiev close to those involved” and published by well-known big-lie-peddling establishment propaganda organs such as the BBC with similar skepticism as I do ones by highly politicized “unnamed intelligence sources” in the NYT and WaPo.

  24. Oregoncharles

    “Congress Approves First Big Dodd-Frank Rollback” – right on schedule, just in time for the next big recession. Eventually, maybe the lesson will be learned, perhaps at the business end of a pitchfork. (I have several, in case they’re needed.)

  25. Oregoncharles

    From “Uninsured Rate Remains Basically Flat Despite Republicans’ Attempts To Chip Away At Health Law “: ” 9.1 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2017, or a little more than 29 million people. ”

    Which, credit where it’s due, is about half the former (estimated) rate. A pretty small gain for a huge effort.

    So what’s that death rate from being uninsured, again?

  26. Chauncey Gardiner

    James McElroy, the art critic who wrote the article about Goldman Sachs’ lobby art for The American Conservative, was correct in his observation that “Our culture no longer shares a single ethical narrative.” I don’t believe that was ever true. However, in answer to his question about Mehrutu’s mural, “Would the piece be materially different if you swapped the financial buildings for church facades?”, my response would be affirmative (with the caveat that I’ve never seen the artwork nor is it likely that I ever will).

    Although I am not personally a fan of her Goldman Sachs mural shown in the 2010 New Yorker link (as opposed to being a fan of her), I feel it can be argued that Julie Mehretu captured the essence of Neoliberalism, the ideology and its values that guide the business and trading decisions of those who populate the executive suites of Goldman and its brethren. Underlying her surface symbols with their sense of movement and chaos, are the sublayers in the mural: the architectural drawings of the facades of the New York Stock Exchange, The New Orleans Cotton Exchange, the early London stock exchanges, and even a market gate from the ancient Greek city of Miletus; the maps of trade routes, growth of cities, and her maplike network that Calvin Tomkins, author of the 2010 New Yorker article, said implicitly depicts the history of financial capitalism… In other words, “Only ‘the Market’ lasts and has meaning, IBGYBG”. This is not Nihilism, although James McElroy may also not be wrong in his observation that a nihilistic approach is “how meaning and ethics are approached on the upper floors of Goldman Sachs’ headquarters.”)

    1. ChrisPacific

      If you click through to the story you can see a not very good photo of it which is nonetheless enough to give you an idea.

      On an emotional level I think she has done a good job of capturing the Goldman culture as previously described here by Yves and others. Just looking at the elements and composition, it clearly says “always moving, always busy” to me. If it was in the lobby of a spa or mindfulness retreat, then I’d agree it was inappropriate.

      Personally it sets my teeth on edge, but that’s not the painting’s fault. It’s a faithful expression of its environment.

  27. Savita

    To add to the comments about ‘The Little Zucker’

    Here is a tweet by Musk (yeah, him) that will make you rethink ever using FB ever again

    ‘When I first met Mark, we were at some boring corporate party. Tired of stupid chit-chat and expensive drinks, I pitched an idea to Mark: Each of us would come up with the most fun activity we could imagine, and surprise the other with it. I drove to a nearby lake, ordered two water-powered jetpacks, two paintball guns, and arranged to fly Journey in. I figured that nothing could be more awesome than an airborne paintball duel with “Don’t Stop Believing” playing in the background. When I came back to see Mark’s activity, I found him in a back alley next to a terrified waiter from the party, couldn’t have been older than 25. In exchange for paying his student loans, Mark excitedly told me, the man would let us beat him until he stopped moving”

  28. Savita

    A surprisingly sympathetic piece on Jennifer Robinson the long term lawyer for Julian Assange. ‘The Australian’

    Robinson appears briefly in the documentary about Wikileaks titled Risk by Laura Poitras (she made Academy Award winning Citizen Four about Edward Snowden. Snowden expressly requested her presence, t to document him as he fled the US )

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