Links 5/25/18

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Dear patient readers,

Since some people start the long weekend early, we will be on a lighter posting schedule starting today and through and including Monday. On Tuesday, we may be light a post depending on news flow (note we are still heavily engaged with CalPERS, so our reduced output does not reflect lack of activity).

I hope those of you who are on the road travel safely!

PS My service has been out and then terribly slow this evening, so if you don’t get a full ration of links, AT&T is to blame due to another outage.

Dog deemed ‘unadoptable’ to become first-ever deaf K-9 in Washington Kiro7

Giant canyons discovered in Antarctica BBC (UserFriendly)

Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don’t Fix Climate Change by 2023 GristPost (UserFriendly)

Newest NOAA weather satellite suffers critical malfunction ars technica

Samsung owes Apple $539M for infringing iPhone patents, jury finds CNET

Cockroach milk? Insect dairy alternatives could be the next superfood trend Global News

Every Cell in Your Body Has the Same DNA. Except It Doesn’t. New York Times (David L). Doesn’t this call into question the greatly hyped promise of genetic based diagnoses and treatments?

North Korea

How John Bolton Sabotaged The North Korea Talks Moon of Alabama (UserFriendly)

North Korea ready to talk ‘at any time’ with Donald Trump BBC

North Korea: The Undaunted State Tests the Limits of Empire Zero Anthropology (UserFriendly)

North Korea Says It Is Still Willing to Meet With Trump Wall Street Journal

Trump-Kim ‘breakup’ sparks Twitter mirth over commemorative coins Reuters

Trump replaces Kim with Trump on redesigned peace talks challenge coin Duffel Blog (Kevin W)

China’s ‘Social Credit Score’ Blacklists People for Bad Behavior (Who Decides?) Wolf Richter (EM)


ECB Warns Against Fiscal Splurge as Italy Prepares Populist Rule Bloomberg

Short and Sharp: Italian risk takes center stage… again Principal Investors

FDP-Chef Lindner fordert EU-Defizitverfahren gegen Italien Spiegel


UK ‘chasing a fantasy’ in Brexit talks, top EU official warns Guardian (Kevin W)

EU to UK: We won’t reimburse Galileo satellite funding Politico

Carney warns of impact of ‘disruptive Brexit’ Financial Times

Boris Johnson duped by pranksters pretending to be Armenian PM Politico (J-LS)


TSB cancels direct debits of customers who’ve switched away – and claims they’ve DIED MSE News (Kevin W)

The mother left struggling to feed her children after losing £1,600: Scores of TSB customers robbed of their life savings after IT debacle – and then left on hold for hours Daily Mail (Clive)

Furious Customers Leave in Droves after Botched IT Revamp at UK Bank TSB as Nightmare Drags on for a Month Don Quijones, Wolf Street

New Cold War

Russia ready to ditch dollar in favor of euro in foreign trade – finance minister RT (UserFriendly)

EU turns toward Russia as transatlantic relations strain at seams EU News Front. Merkel has openly snubbed Putin in the past. This is a meaningful shift.


U.S. effort to stabilize Afghanistan is $5 billion failure, watchdog says NBC. Bill B: “The defense industry begs to differ. Ka-ching!”

Iraqi voters undermine Trump’s Iran strategy Asia Times. Hardly an unexpected outcome….

Imperial Collapse Watch

With Trump Ignoring EU Interests in Iran, the Western Alliance Gets Weaker The Wire (J-LS)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch. Many readers sent links to the widely reported story on Alexa snooping, so don’t feel neglected if we didn’t use yours.

Woman says her Amazon device recorded private conversation, sent it out to random contact Kiro7 (John Z, Brian C)

You know that silly fear about Alexa recording everything and leaking it online? It just happened The Register (Chuck L). My sister-in-law has from the get-go refused to go to any home with an Alexa in it.

Trump Transition

Inside the Trump Tweet Machine: Staff-written posts, bad grammar (on purpose), and delight in the chaos Boston Globe (Bill B). From earlier in the week….

Trump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept’s top refugee job The Hill

Trump Trade Weapon of Choice Alarms GOP Wall Street Journal

Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists New York Times (Carla R)

Party Leaders Are Not Strategic Geniuses, They Just Really Like Moderates, New Research Finds Intercept (UserFriendly)

Watch the GOP Freak Out Over This Muslim Candidate Daily Beast (UserFriendly)

Fake News

What Facebook’s New Political Ad System Misses ProPublica (UserFriendly)

Uber self-driving car that fatally struck pedestrian was not programmed to brake Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

NTSB: Uber Self-Driving Car Had Disabled Emergency Brake System Before Fatal Crash NPR (Kevin W). Includes link to report. Notice difference in headlines.

Uber gives Macron a lift with flying taxi investment Financial Times (J-LS)

All Star Code Founder on the Value of Training Minority Teens to Code Bloomberg

More Mischief at CalPERS: A Staff Takeover of the Board? Tony Butka, LA CityWatch. Lead story.

Guillotine Watch

French chateau worth millions goes up for grabs for under $14 RT (Chuck L). If someone from the readership wins, I hope I get an invite.

New York property jitters herald declines elsewhere Financial Times

Class Warfare

Kids At Every Income Level Were Asked To Show Their Favorite Toys, And The Result Will Make You Think Bored Panda

Planned Parenthood Is Asking Donald Trump’s Labor Board For Help Busting Its Colorado Union Intercept (UserFriendly)

The Demographicsof Wealth 2018 Series St. Louis Fed

Food: a class issue Stumbling and Mumbling (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Timotheus, from Pichilemu, Chile):

And a bonus antidote, hat tip K.O.. Read the story at the Seattle Times:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Kevin C Smith

    Now that some of Trunp’s tweets might be used as evidence against him, his team are trying to establish that some of the tweets were not really from Trump. I wonder if digital forensics on his phones will be allowed ….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The easier explanation is he was not serious, if the issue is about they being used against him. It’s harder to pin down involving just himself.

      The lesson for me is ‘fool me once.’

      And to not react too soon, or quote or pay his tweets too much.

    2. Sid Finster

      Lord knows, Trump is a roaring ass, but how are Trump’s tweets to be used as evidence against him?

      Don’t you have to find that a crime was committed, first? Or is this one of those “you give us the perp, we’ll find the crime!” type situations?

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Iraqi voters undermine Trump’s Iran strategy Asia Times. Hardly an unexpected outcome….

    It was amusing to read in many news sources that the winners of the Iraqi elections were anti-Iranians like Al-Sadr. Talk about wishful thinking. The Iraqi people have chosen Iraqi nationalists over puppets, but nationalists with a very long and close relationship with Tehran. This means the US has no potential allies in a conflict with Iran who share a border with Iran and is really the final nail in the Iraq War – Iran is indisputably the winner, it now has a key ally where once it had a deadly foe. Its no surprise that Qatar is putting out feelers to Assad and looking to purchase Russian weapons – it can see the way the winds are blowing, and its not in favour of the US/Saudi/Israeli axis.

    1. David

      There’s always been a degree of, let’s say, sensitivity between the two countries, for historical and cultural reasons (under no circumstances refer to Iranians as “Arabs.”) In the war between the two countries in the 1980s Iraqi Shias very largely stayed loyal to the regime, and fought in the Army. If the final result of the 2003 invasion is really an Iran-Iraq axis, then that exceeds even the most extravagant prophecies of doom at the time, and sets the seal on the most botched foreign policy adventure since …. well, good question actually.

      1. Wukchumni

        I doubt that KBR would call our foreign policy adventures botched-on the contrary, it greatly exceeded their expectations of profit.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘… can see the way the winds are blowing, and its not in favour of the US/Saudi/Israeli axis’

      Maybe that’s why US Secretary of State (!) Mike Pompeo went crazy-pants meltdown in a speech to the Heritage Foundation summarized by Pat Buchanan:

      Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out our Plan B for Iran in a speech that called to mind Prussian Field Marshal Karl Von Moltke.

      Among Pompeo’s demands: Iran must end all support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hamas in Gaza, withdraw all forces under Iranian command in Syria, and disarm its Shiite militia in Iraq.

      Iran must confess its past lies about a nuclear weapons program, and account publicly for all such activity back into the 20th century.

      Iran must halt all enrichment of uranium, swear never to produce plutonium, shut down its heavy water reactor, open up its military bases to inspection to prove it has no secret nuclear program, and stop testing ballistic missiles.

      And unless Iran submits, she will be strangled economically.

      What Pompeo delivered was an ultimatum: Iran is to abandon all its allies in all Mideast wars, or face ruin and possible war with the USA.

      It is hard to recall a secretary of state using the language Pompeo deployed: “We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.

      UFB. Even ol’ Adolf back in the bad old days used to phrase his plans for world domination in more moderate language for public consumption. Unhinged Pompeo just rants like Khrushchev banging his shoe on the UN podium. This is your country on angel dust.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        You said it!

        FWIW, It would be interesting to see Iran shut down the heavy water reactor it doesn;t have in the first place:

        Pompeo demands that Iran closes its heavy water reactor. Iran can not close its heavy water reactor. It does not have one. The one it was building in Arak was disabled under the nuclear agreement (JCPOA). Concrete was poured into its core under supervision of IAEA inspectors. How can the Secretary of State of the United States make such a fact-free demand in a prepared speech?


    3. Elizabeth Burton

      To no surprise, it is now being charged that the “hackable voting machines” may have been hacked and efforts are underway to declare the election results void and reschedule so there’s time to ensure the hackers pick the right candidates.

  3. PlutoniumKun

    Food: a class issue Stumbling and Mumbling (UserFriendly)

    But as Phil says, there is an alternative here. One way to improve people’s diets is to increase their incomes so they can afford healthier food and to reduce the poverty, insecurity and bad working conditions that drive people to bad food. The problem is capitalism, not the poor.

    Some of you might have an inkling as to why the millionaire Jamie Oliver and old Etonian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall don’t choose this route. But why don’t others?

    This article is thoroughly wrong-headed and a classic example of when lefties start taking up the memes of the right. Of course there are major obstacles to the poor having good diets, but its nothing to do with ‘capitalism’, at least not in the sense meant in the article. Anyone who has spent time with people on very low incomes from, for example, the Indian subcontinent or the Caribbean will know that you can be very poor and work long hours, and still have an excellent diet. Years back I worked in Heathrow Airport. The lowest paid workers – the cleaners – were mostly South Asian women – they refused to buy the fatty junk in the canteen, instead eating a wide variety of home made stews and snacks, all made from cheap nutritious ingredients like chickpeas and lentils, while the white workers ate their burgers and chips. Anyone with the good luck to have ethnic south Asian shops near them will know just how cheap the ingredients are when bought in bulk, far cheaper than take out food or frozen pizzas.

    In my own area a community programme which encouraged unemployed men to cook for their families was a big success – the men were shown how to shop for cheap ingredients and prepare simple, nourishing stews and soups. Rather than resist, what was striking was how happy they were to do this – they didn’t do it before because, quite simply, they didn’t know how. They covered up their ignorance with macho joking, but when shown how to do it, they were proud to show off their new skills to their wives and kids.

    So yes, capitalism does promote bad food – it does it by deskilling people, selling manufactured processed food, promoting ‘saleable’ skills in schools rather than life skills, and undermining family life. But lets not pretend that there isn’t a strong cultural side to this, pointing out the slightly posh background of campaigners like Oliver or Michael Pollen is entirely wrongheaded and is buying into Big Food and Big Ags propaganda.

    1. makedoanmend

      Good points PK, and I’d largely agree the article is too simplistic about drawing connections. But to draw upon your last paragraph, I always have to remember that food is also a social signifier and people will consume food, especially “junk”, based upon this cultural marker in the dynamic of the marketisation of all social activities. It could then be argued from a socialist perspective that food, as pure nourishment, becomes befuddled with a different form called the commodity – commodity also incorporating social status. If capitalism is considered a social system, it will, as you indicate, have an impact.

      Love the story about the unemployed men learning new skills from/within the larger community – as Lambert would say: material benefits.

    2. Pat

      And in the case of Oliver, it negates the part of his campaign that would be key in your scenario – education. His focus on better school food was not limited to just the cafeteria. He was, and I assume still is, very big on teaching kids how to raise, select and prepare food. As in your example, shopping awareness, and cooking are all life skills that break the populace away from the highly profitable junk food trap. Teaching kids those AND gardening is very subversive and must be stopped.

      1. makedoanmend

        A primary in school in Monaghan, Ireland started the children working on a vegetable garden and even built them a poly tunnel so they could learn new and practical skills. They love it, if only to get out of the classroom and the daily grind of learning the 3 rs.

        However, the caretaker told me the Principal of the school regularly comes along and chooses the best produce to take home. As he said, they learn not only gardening but about how our societies actually operate.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I saw something similar in a documentatry, about a school in France.

          Perhaps Diocletian was right when he retired to grow vegetables.

          “If you could see my cabbages.”

          And schools should be reformed to benefit our kids, not to prepare them (the most useful ones who will get work) to make money for multi-national person-hood corporations, with our tax money (at the local level).

          “That’s why you were taught advanced chemistry – to beat those evil Russian chemists.”

          1. makedoanemend

            Eminently useful observations about the existing state of schools and children, if I may be so bold. It seems everybody is taking life and economics far too seriously these days. It seems we need to lighten up a bit.

            (Had to look up on the net who Diocletian was. D’oh. Seems a very interesting historical character.)

          2. makedoanmend

            Eminently useful observations about the existing state of schools and children, if I may be so bold. It seems everybody is taking life and economics far too seriously these days. It seems we need to lighten up a bit.

            (Had to look up on the net who Diocletian was. D’oh. Seems a very interesting historical character.)

    3. Sid Finster

      I know that this is anathema here at NC, but I was thinking about food in The Good Old Days.

      Not only was it typically prepared by a stay at home mother (made from scratch meals take time – a lot of time) but from what I can tell, even the very rich had much less variety in food available to them than what you can buy in WalMart(R) today right now. Even if you had money and lived in a big city, a lot of commonplace items simply were not available, and even if they were, you had to know where and when to find them and know what to do with them.

      As a result, when my parents were kids, something as unremarkable as spaghetti marinara was considered exotic, and eating garlic was believed to lead to communism.

      Now, you can eat Chinese tonight, Italian tomorrow, burgers the next, and then a green salad, then a Greek/Thai fusion, any time of the year, even if you are a lower middle class shopper living in Fargo, North Dakota. This seems “whatever” but it is a pretty new and radical concept. Wasn’t long ago, that most people ate pretty much the same “local” dishes, all the time, and it wasn’t necessarily by choice or because they were locavores or whatever.

      1. begob

        The increased choice actually limits choice healthwise, since that wide variety of foods will almost certainly be based on cheap seed oils.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        That was pretty much my experience too. My mother had a horror of processed food, so resisted the calls of us kids to buy whatever was advertised on TV. Food was very much meat and two veg (one of which was potato of course) every day as my father would refuse anything else (except for beef stew on a Saturday). A (very) occasional treat was a take-out from our local Chinese, which seemed impossibly exotic to us. I used to look with amazement at the food my best friends mother cooked – she was a bit of a hippy and experimented with curries and wholefoods, although I was too nervous to ask to taste. I don’t think I had even a pizza or proper pasta meal until I left home, let alone anything with avocados or rice.

        1. Off The Street

          Processed food was pitched as something new and cool, then kids saw and tasted and experienced the gap between perception and reality. TV dinners were one such food where the advert picture was so much more attractive than what came out of the oven. Talk about disappointment.

          After that experience, those home-made casseroles and other meals never tasted better! Initially watching shopping and preparations and then helping in the kitchen gave us more satisfaction.

          1. Mel

            Michael Pollan made a 4-part video series called Cooked which is amusing and informative. The episode Water tells by the way the history of industrial food. Mass food processing was developed hugely during WWII to feed troops in the field. When the war ended, the food industry didn’t want that business to vanish, so they found ways of selling canned and preserved food to the civilian public en masse.
            (Yes, the episodes are named after the old elements — Earth, Air, Fire, … .)

      3. Rojo

        “Now, you can eat Chinese tonight, Italian tomorrow, burgers the next, and then a green salad, then a Greek/Thai fusion, any time of the year, even if you are a lower middle class shopper living in Fargo, North Dakota.”

        No you can’t. I may be one of the few actually poor people on this board — I can never eat out.

        I mean it can be international — microwave burritos, Top Ramen and oh so much spaghetti.

        1. ambrit

          Don’t feel in the least discommoded. There are a lot of “lower” something or others lurking here. Phyl and I have pretty much stopped eating out due to budgetary constraints and ‘fussiness’ about ingredients and additives. Finding an eatery where the food is at least cooked to order from reasonably fresh ingredients is very hard now.
          Our weakness is fresh seafood. ‘Things’ are getting so bad that we slowed way down in our dining out even for seafood. This is near the Gulf Coast where fresh seafood should be the standard, not a specialty menu. Now, when we go to the coast we hunt up fresh fish, shrimp, oysters or crabs. The docks where shrimp boats harbour are best. Even then, price is an issue. The prices of fresh anything are rising constantly. Our Social Security and side work wages are not.
          I know just what you mean by Top Ramen and spaghetti. Brown rice flour macaroni whenever I can afford it with grated cheese and a touch of curry in the boiling water for the macaronis.
          Do invest in some spices and experiment. We do, but I’m lucky. I married an excellent cook. Or she married me. We still haven’t managed to fix the blame yet.
          I remember when High School had Home Ec classes. The boys would take some to meet girls, but managed to learn something useful nonetheless. Instead of preparing the young to take tests, we all can agree that school should be about preparing children to manage for themselves “out in the world.”

          1. marieann

            We don’t eat out either…not because of financial constraints but because food in restaurants is awful.
            I have never had a good tasting meal in one…all covered in sauce to hide the dry meat, terrible tasting vegetables and hit and miss soup.
            The food we make at home is superior in every way and as a bonus, much cheaper.

            Granted, we never got into the habit of eating/taking out because it is expensive and we did have financial constraints when were first married.
            We just learned to cook well.

    4. Rojo

      The lowest paid workers – the cleaners – were mostly South Asian women – they refused to buy the fatty junk in the canteen, instead eating a wide variety of home made stews and snacks, all made from cheap nutritious ingredients like chickpeas and lentils, while the white workers ate their burgers and chips. Model minorities.

      Model minorities.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Model minorities? They sound like great cooks. To the point where I’d be begging them for recipes.

    5. Lord Koos

      Both the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent are in the fertile tropics where it is relatively easy to either grow your own food or to get it fresh from the market. Inner city Detroit in the winter, not so much.

  4. Ignim Brites

    “Socialism vs. Capitalism, among young people (18-34)” Ah. But is it scientific or utopian socialism the young people favor?

    1. diptherio

      And is it actually existing capitalism or utopian capitalism that the young white folks prefer?

          1. makedoanmend

            Naw, they caught the influenza bug. Electoral power became a fungible commodity. They lived the dream that neoliberalism birthed in Thatcher/Reagan. Political party was just another branding exercise. PR became substance, policy a lure, human life cheap, personal bank accounts big, Egos Bigger, law a trivial irritant.

          2. ambrit

            Sort of. I’m lead to believe that ‘Epsteins Lolita Express’ broadened their horizons in multifarious ways.
            Bill “Hey Sweetheart” Clinton is infamous for his championing of “Triangulation.”
            Tony “Assume the Position” Blair equally infamous for his sterile engenderment of “The Labour Party of Heracles” where pan-everythingism was both King and Queen.
            Ultimately, the ‘curious’ cross of Capitalism and Socialism becomes the New Synthetic Hermaphrodite: Neo-Liberalism.

            1. makedoanmend

              Not so sure about that. How did socialism contribute to neoliberalism as capitalism does in such equal measure? Neoliberalism, from where I sit, is capitalism on steriods.

              The only connection I can discern between capitalism and socialism that overlap between the two systems is the use of the state as a means to deliver their agendas.

              Neoliberal governments have used the state to further their economic ideology of freeing markets and marketisation of the free individual – i.e. freeing the rich from oversight and shackling the worker via micromanagement. In a democratic socialist state, the state “should” be used to provide a safety net to the worker whilst rationalising the commons of health, education, travel to work, and civil law to give a few examples. The rest of the economy can be left to individuals, cooperatives and small businesses.

              There should be no need for surveillance cameras and ubiquitous electronic monitoring as is the norm since neoliberalism took hold in Europe.

              Most EU states have no longer pursued any socialist policies for the last 40 years whilst their erstwhile socialist parties were happy to implement the opposite incrementally or provide cover for those neoliberal parties that instituted state capitalism with gusto.

              The divergent use of the state by neoliberalists and socialists does not make the two systems convergent.

              1. ambrit

                Correction noted, but, I come at this from the angle of the “Cult of Personality” politics so prevalent today, in many parties.
                Both Bill C and Tony B shepherded previously ‘populist’ oriented political parties in a Rightward direction.
                So, the meaning of the term ‘Socialist’ has shifted right in the general popular lexicon.
                Also, I do not see any ideological push for the dismantling of State socialism that benefits the capitalist elites. Military ‘no bid’ contracts, ‘pork barrel’ legislation, protectionism of many styles all use the coercive power of the State to benefit the already powerful. Only where the benefits from State interventions accrue to the people in general does one see anti-State agitation. In this sense, neo-liberalism is a socialist enterprise. Socialism for the Rich is the meme.
                Essentially, I am arguing that the systems converge in the sphere of functionality.
                I found it telling that there were various ‘flavours’ of socialist parties.
                More later perhaps.

                1. makedoanmend

                  No denying the variability of socialism. Whether coming from Marx, Veblen or Bevin, there is a smorgasbord of selection and emphasis. And, of course, time can add its own ‘flavours’; no matter the intentions of those who pursue such courses.

                  However, I would argue that socialism has never been applied by its promoters or enactors as some sort of Santa Claus fairy tale to give the family silver away, and certainly not as giving goodies to the wealthy. This has been a handy marketing tool used by the wealthy to justify their desire to accumulate capital. It’s a useful meme. (“we wealthy work hard and them socialist takes our wealth away. No mention that their wealth is the wealth not paid to the worker.) Socialism is not the dole – the dole is provision for those whom capitalism can’t or won’t employ gainfully and with dignity.

                  Socialism, rather, has been the desire to turn the historical state of affairs on its head. Historically socialism was often noting more than a desire to provide the ordinary citizen and worker with the democratic power to provision themselves against the inherent leverage of capital, and often to overturn a state of affairs where the state and its wealthy denizens were inseparable.

                  Yes, a state has a function, but its functionality is determined by its goals. If the goals of two approaches are diametrically opposed, the use of the state cannot be equivalent – or so I would argue.

                  In the end I suppose the pithy statement says it better: socialism does not seek to afflict the afflicted nor comfort the comfortable.

          3. Lee

            Reminds me of my favorite earthy, barnyard simile: “…busy as a ram with a forked pecker in a ewe pen.”

            I got this one from a guy who was originally a rural southerner. He had a theory about how the lack of formal education, and therefore their having learned only a limited number of standard qualifiers, that they enriched their language with many colorful metaphors and similes based on their direct experience.

          4. berit

            No, that’s the young Tony Blair and Bill Clinton using their boyish charisma to cloak their true ambitious drivers, power/money/fame – money/power/more fame… Sad, tragic downward spiral to looking as evil as their worst deeds. Power corrupts, eventually killing the disgraced host – and some million … people.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Undeterred by the ambiguity, not a few Asian Americans favor both sysytems (56 + 59 > 100).

      Is it a case of ‘I love you both, mom and dad,’ or a case of ‘I like having and eating that cake?’

  5. PlutoniumKun

    EU turns toward Russia as transatlantic relations strain at seams EU News Front. Merkel has openly snubbed Putin in the past. This is a meaningful shift.

    At its heart, all foreign policy is realpolitik, and Europe knows it has to deal with its near neighbours. I think Germany is starting to bitterly regret getting too involved with Ukraine. It needs Russian gas, so it will not bow to pressure over Nordstream II. German and French business know the future is in areas like Russia, Iran and China so will put huge pressure on their governments not to allow the US to bully it. Despite Germany’s historic hostility to Russia, I think its pretty clear that they and the other north European countries know they are not really threatened by Putin directly.

    I think the combination of Trump and Brexit are leading to a fundamental change in European global politics. The core European countries are looking more and more south and east for their futures, and they know they cannot rely on the US as a consistent partner anymore. The US military umbrella is looking less and less like a safety feature, and more and more a threat.

    The rapid re-establishment of a multipolar world is continuing apace.

    1. c_heale

      Interesting that this is happening while the UK is on it’s way out of the EU…

      1. makedoanmend

        Brexit may be having some impact on these developments, but I’ve also read in quite a few sites/papers that the UK is intimately involved in attempting to keep the Iran deal working. This suggests that the UK isn’t going to go monopolar itself any time soon. I have no doubt that the UK will look towards the US post Brexit but they will also try to keep their options open on other fronts – or at least put themselves in a position to take advantage of other developments as time passes. We shall see.

    2. Sid Finster

      My SWAG is that the German political class will grumble, but will eventually bow to American orders like good dogs.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        That’s a reasonable bet, but I must admit I’ve been surprised at the strength of the reaction in ‘official’ Europe to its treatment over the Iran deal. Germany has defied the US before – for example, over importing Soviet gas in the 1980’s (this was absolutely essential for German economic growth, the US rightly saw it as a lifeline for the Soviet economy). I do think there is a significant realignment going on, but its anyone’s guess what it will end up looking like. But it seems to me to be almost certain that it will end up with weaker US influence in Europe.

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    The 2nd article on the Uber/pedestrian crash does note that

    The pedestrian, for her part, had been dressed in dark clothing and crossing the road in a section not directly illuminated by streetlights, hundreds of feet from the nearest crosswalk, according to investigators. “Toxicology test results for the pedestrian were positive for methamphetamine and marijuana,” they added.

    While I appreciate that the formal follow up needs to give all the facts, this will no doubt put wind in the sails for a certain segment of the population who will want to lay all the blame on the pedestrian, because, “people bad, technology good”.

    It also obfuscates the reality that this technology has a long way to go to be useful anywhere else than in urban areas in broad daylight. I do a fair amount of rural night driving, and the biggest risk is the larger 4-legged animals that run onto the road right in front of the car (and I assume would not test positive for methamphetamines, though maybe weed).

    1. Carolinian

      Toxicology test results for the pedestrian were positive for methamphetamine and marijuana

      On the other hand it doesn’t exactly support the case that the victim is completely blameless in what happened. One can also point out that the Google self-drive tests have been going on for years (including in AZ) without running over anybody.

      Whether of not automated cars are practical–jury still out–at the end of the day making it work is just a technical problem. Uber’s hurried jump into the field has been the major contributor here but the reactions, IMO, have been a bit over the top. We live in a world of machines and machines can be dangerous. It’s likely this tragedy is once again a human, engineering failure and has little to do with the dreaded AI.

      1. cnchal

        > . . . it doesn’t exactly support the case that the victim is completely blameless . . .

        Toxicology test results and descriptions of clothing worn by Elaine Herzberg are not relevant to what happened. They are red herrings.

        If the police find evidence that a human driver saw a person pushing a bicycle across the road six seconds before a collision, and the driver did nothing to stop or avoid the collision, killing that person, my expectation would be that that driver would be charged with vehicular manslaughter or similar charge.

        1. Carolinian

          In fact Uber has admitted fault and settled with the woman’s family. If you think that Uber should be criminally charged perhaps you should write to the Tempe police department. My own judgment is that no human driver would be charged under these circumstances unless found to be DUI. That seems to have also been the judgment of the Tempe police chief who initially said Uber was not at fault.

          1. cnchal

            In hindsight, the Tempe police chief’s judgement turned out to be, to put it kindly, piss poor. Initially, the story went, it was dark, she appeared out of nowhere, wearing dark clothes, at an unexpected location and got herself run over.

            If those were the facts and a person was driving, I agree that it is likely no charges would be laid against that person.

            The fact is that the robot controlled car “saw” an object six seconds before hitting it, was moving at just under 40 mph and was approximately at a distance of 350 feet from the object when it first became aware of it, and at 1.3 seconds before impact realized it must do “something” and did not take any action. You, as a driver should expect to be charged if you run someone over under those circumstances.

            The point is that toxicology reports are a red herring in this case. It’s almost as if nobody in a position of authority wants to ask the tough questions and get to the bottom of “why” did the robot freeze in it’s tracks. What is it about the algorithm or training or experience that this chip got when it was initially put into service and learns as it goes that caused it to do this?

          2. tegnost

            yes they settled less than 2 weeks after the crash


            The terms of the settlement, less than two weeks after the fatal crash, were unknown, but appeared to forestall a potential legal showdown in the case.

            Seems fishy…I got hit by a car and had to wait one hell of a lot longer than that
            Something about fiduciary responsibility to the insurance company, have to get the facts and who’s to say the stress of being broken and unable to work wouldn’t make me kill myself and then the insurance co would have wasted their money completely and we just couldn’t bear that…I mean the insurance company part And Uber bros saying “dude, my bad” doesn’t signal any epiphany

    2. kevin

      I don’t understand. If humans can’t avoid hitting a deer that jumps in front of your car how is automatic technology that also doesn’t avoid the deer “not useful”. No one expects autonomous cars to be able to do this. They will still be useful.

      The reason this story was newsworthy was because the driver/car had a full 6 seconds to see the pedestrian and didn’t even slow down. If the pedestrian sprinted out in front of it like a deer no one would be blaming the autonomous car.

      1. voteforno6

        Isn’t the point of these robot cars, is that they’re supposed to be better than human drivers? Right now, there is no evidence that they are. In fact, if anything, they’re less safe.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          We really don’t have sufficient data yet to say whether they are likely to be safer than human piloted vehicles or not. If at any point they become significantly statistically safer than human piloted vehicles, it probably becomes morally irresponsible to oppose their adoption. We should go with whatever is statistically safer, human or autopilot, and not be ideological about a safety and engineering issue.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Gosh, I wonder if there will be any pressure to fudge those statistics? Naaah, Could never happen. Of course they already claim that autonomous vehicles will be far safer than human drivers so we already have subtle whispy indications that multi billion dollar investors don’t need (and least of all want) no stinkin profit risking facts.

            One can take comfort that we will be extinct soon (Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don’t Fix Climate Change by 2023 -above- and we won’t) so let them have their fun while they can; they’re going to have it anyway no matter whether those cars, once mainstream, are safer than humans drivers or simply angels of energy sucking data vacuuming death whose negative sides will be invisible to the cha-ching MSM. .

        2. bronco

          no thats not the point. I mean they may claim that its the point , but the point as always is dollars.

      2. Brian

        From what we have seen so far, autonomous cars are not useful, functional or legal. They are a menace to the streets and all occupants, drivers, cyclists, animals, etc. They appear to attack at times, and their makers are going to be held accountable. The non driver driver will also have liability issues. You get in a car and drive and you have hundreds of laws to deal with and you can’t blame the car for your own ignorance. The car is not a lawyer, so you will need one for the life of your car.
        Now if they put the robots on a lane of their own….. which is impossible because no one has money to fix a road like that today.
        We should get realistic about this sooner than later.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Good comment. Not useful (at least to the public) is likely to be spot on. As mass data vacuums and means of peripheral control (itineraries slanted for customized commercial exposure for instance) for the oligarchs, they will be both massively lucrative and useful.

          […] and their makers are going to be held accountable Ultimately, I think this is doubtful. The ‘makers’ are doing everything in their power to make the occupant/vehicle owner ‘responsible’ for whatever happens. Money, talks and big money screams, so that is probably how it is going to be.

      3. Carolinian

        Just a point that doesn’t seem to get through: if the car could see the pedestrian for six seconds then she could also see the car. Why didn’t she wait for it to pass before crossing? Pedestrians do have some responsibility for their own safety.

        Car drivers see they are looking for and that mostly consists of other cars. This is why motorcyclists, for example, often use extra lights to make themselves more visible and are still more prone to be hit by cars that “see what they are looking for.”

        I’m a cyclist myself and once I became a driver I became a much more cautious cyclist.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          One reader who lived in the area said she knows the intersection and that it is the sort that is huge and anxiety-making to get across. She said you’d try making eye contact with drivers, which you cant’t do at night. It sounded inherently difficult to cross on foot.

    3. EoH

      There is the issue that the car doesn’t “see” in the human sense. Dark colors and poor illumination might affect cameras (and it suggests the utility of infrared cameras). But poor visibility has no affect on radar and the algorithms that interpret the data from it.

      As for the alleged meth and cannabis results, one would want them verified through another lab. Obviously, “positive,” does not mean of such a high dose that it affected behavior. And the results would be irrelevant if her behavior crossing the street was not materially affected.

      But everybody is litigating in the press these days, through carefully constructed PR campaigns, rather than through sufficient evidence produced and challenged in open court.

    4. Anonymous

      Will AI vehicles see a broken bridge in front of it?
      Will they respond to a flash flood pouring across the road?
      How about a sink hole or a lava flow?

      These are easy enough for a human driver to see, but AI will struggle with
      all sort of irregular dangers.

      1. Aumua

        Well we’ve proven that the human will try and drive through the flash flood anyways, because they gotta get where they’re going!

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      You brush past the “hundreds of feet” part. 88 feet is a city block. Hundreds of feet is a quarter of a mile, a five minute walk.

      I recall one reader who knew the site saying she crossed at the best lit point FOR THAT INTERSECTION. So the reporting is real spin.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Sorry, Yves. Way larger than 88 feet.

        “The standard block in Manhattan is about 264 by 900 feet” (here)

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Ooops, 88 yards, not 88 feet. But still, several hundred feet is a several minute walk.

          And the fact that the woman walked her bike across the intersection rather than riding across suggests there was something wrong with it or her.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Thank you.

        And here’s another point to ponder: There’s nothing magical about Arizona crosswalks.

        Here in Tucson, we’ve had people killed in them, and, in one case, it was a hit and run on a busy, well-lit street (Campbell Avenue). I don’t think that the driver was ever found.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I was hit in a crosswalk on Rt. 66 in Albuquerque – lo these many years ago. The driver blew right through the red light.

          It wasn’t fatal, obviously, but it was fairly close. I had a severe concussion and went back 20 years. The first thing I remember is somebody asking me the year and seeming awfully pleased when I told them.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I was hit in a crosswalk in Manhattan, a perfectly well lit one. Taxi making a turn and not paying attention. Fortunately not at a high speed since he was staring up from a stop and I stumbled sideways rather than fell. But I was really banged up.

  7. liam

    Re: centrists and democracy

    Who could have imagined that left wingers, an”extreme”, would prove to be the democrats in the story. So to think this through, are democrats now extremists?

    1. Skateman

      This is a bizarre article on a bunch of levels. First, people get to identify themselves as “centrists”, which isn’t particularly rigorous as most people think of themselves as the reasonable moderate ones. Second, it contradicts lots of research that conservatives tend to have far greater authoritarian tendencies – extending even to how they parent – vs. liberals. Finally, political definitions (liberal, conservative, etc.) aren’t often even comparable across countries.

      1. liam

        I don’t know. I think most people equate being in the centre with being close to the concensus in society on issues, (or at least that would be my working assumption). I’m on the left. I know I am. I consistently find myself at odds in my country, although, its quite often a matter of degree, as opposed to having differing opinions.

        I can see how in some countries, where self-identifying with the right or left is akin to self identifying with the plague, it could mean that those with extreme views could deliberately equate themselves with the centre, (think of how neoliberals deny that neoliberalism exists). Another problem could be an ironic form of virtue signalling, where cynicism is taken as a proxy for education. But I’ve encountered enough people in my travels to suspect that those with property and comfort, value property and comfort first and foremost, and are also those who are most likely to identify with the centre.

        I could well be wrong, as could the article. I hope so.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Centrists, at the very least tacitly, clearly support police violence, support the sneeringly unconstitutional modern secret surveillance state, and almost to a one support the US’ demonstrably counterproductive and indiscriminately violent military adventurism abroad, even remain silent as known war criminals and torturers walk free, are treated as worthy of respect, and even are welcomed back into positions of power. Those are all hallmarks of authoritarian belief.

        Centrists also deny or openly oppose the possibility of the universal single-payer health care system (“never, ever”) that most of the developed world has put into place. Usually by disingenuously raising objections to how it will be paid for. Even though it would be massively cheaper than the for-profit status quo. And at the same time, they never question how wars are paid for, never question the billions spent the military and the surveillance state or tax cuts for billionaires. Never enough to stand firm on principle. many of these centrists would even self-identify as liberals or, even more perversely, as progressives.

        Opposition— or even privileged indifference— to providing ordinary first world universal health care kills thousands of US citizens every year and puts thousands more into debt peonage, and creates needless and cruelly ruined lives, poverty and homelessness. Centrists accept all this in the name of cynical pragmatism, often from positions of middle-class comfort.

    2. Scott

      One aspect that I didn’t see in the article is the “centrists” belief in letting the experts pick what’s best for the people. This seems to be the core ideology of people who write for sites like Vox and it’s highly to letting the people run the government.

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        The acronym should be M.I.S. which stands for Moderation In Centrism. A bit close to MI5 but it will have to do.

  8. toshiro_mifune

    From the article on DNA
    But over the course of decades, it has become clear that the genome doesn’t just vary from person to person. It also varies from cell to cell. The condition is not uncommon: We are all mosaics

    The article doesn’t say, as it really isn’t on topic, but what implications does this have for the use of DNA in law enforcement. Does this variance also come into play in the sequences that are used for ID matches there? Anyone know?

    1. a different chris

      The implications for US law enforcement is that they have another way to throw the black guy in jail. “His DNA matches! Lock him up!”…”His DNA doesn’t match! It’s because of mosaics! Lock him up!”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nu first immediate reaction is to something slightly different.

      Every Cell in Your Body Has the Same DNA. Except It Doesn’t. New York Times (David L). Doesn’t this call into question the greatly hyped promise of genetic based diagnoses and treatments?

      Do we have here a case of

      1 the state of scientific knowledge being always partial, because tomorrow’s best explanation will be better than today’s


      2 the people involved not possessing up to date (partial) knowledge

      In either case, and often it’s one of the two, the fear is always that we apply that partial knowledge too enthusiastically.

      Here, we note the ‘greatly hyped promise,’ and the need to step back with this new awareness of varying genome from cell to cell.

      1. juliania

        What I’m wondering is, how come nobody brought up the witches’ broom example long before this? We really need to be more skeptical about what science is telling us about our bodies.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “EU to UK: We won’t reimburse Galileo satellite funding”

    Maybe not so an unusual story here of the rebuff to the UK. Think about the Five Eyes. There are three members of this alliance in NATO but when you think about it, they only have one member in the EU and that is the UK. With the UK out of the EU, the EU will now have the security of their satellite locked down which may explain why the EU is rebuffing the efforts of the UK to have ‘special access’. I’d be doing the same too.

  10. Ed

    “Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don’t Fix Climate Change by 2023 GristPost (UserFriendly)”

    The world won’t “completely transition” from using fossil fuels within five years.

    1. taunger

      Nope. But it is good that the least-favorable outcomes of climate research are starting to get media attention in addition to the sanitaized, best case scenarios that ruled conversation for decades.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        The link was light on information and long on unsubstantiated hyperbole. Why is 2023 the deadline and if little or nothing has been done before 2018 what wonders will suddenly change that by 2023 and what happens in 2023 that seals our end? — an ice free Arctic? Might be nice to know what about the ice free Arctic is so critical. Is an ice free Arctic the only thing we need to worry about?

        This is a Chicken Little story. Better no story than a story like this.

        1. Ed

          The Artic regions contain a ton of trapped methane that would be released with higher temperatures.

          1. blennylips

            The danger is of replaying the Permian–Triassic extinction event of some 250 million years ago (Great Dying, End-Permian Extinction, Great Permian Extinction,…).

            Extended volcanism (among several causes) led to a gradual rise in CO2 over at least tens of thousands of years which led to the relatively sudden release (one researcher claimed in under a decade) of all the methane clathrates that pile up around most continents.

            See for what happens to oceans in these circumstances, and is in fact, probably the condition of the original ocean before the “oxygen crisis”.

            It seems the “bad things” are happening faster this time.

              1. Jeremy Grimm

                The link presented made some extraordinary claims and offered extraordinarily little information to support those claims. The topic of Climate Disruption is difficult enough without this kind of click-grabbing story. Humans will go extinct if we don’t fix things by 2023 — just as we did in 2012? Why 2023 and not 2022 or 2024? The link mentions that Arctic ice will melt by 2022, ozone is depleted to levels not seen in 12 million years [whatever that is supposed to mean], the best measures promised to cutback on carbon emissions are insufficient to stop the extinction of humanity by way of a rapidly changing climate [Really? That might benefit from a little further explanation!], but the link leaves it to the reader to connect the dots joining these claims. This is fine for preaching to the choir but it would not budge most of the climate deniers I’ve talked with. Worse still, someone making these statements would draw well-deserved ridicule from most people. Maybe the sky is falling but an acorn makes a poor case for that claim.

                The Arctic ice is melting and all too soon the Arctic will be almost ice free. Not only is the extent of Arctic ice diminishing the thickness of the ice that remains is rapidly diminishing. When dark waters replace the white ice of the Arctic pole it changes the albedo of the Earth increasing the rate of warming. Worse still thin ice can rapidly melt to act like a switch to increase heating of the Arctic seas. The Climate Disruptions we could experience may be much more rapid and unstable as we move toward a climate setpoint at a higher temperature range. Our agriculture relies on cheap petroleum and relatively stable and predictable weather, and aquifers we are rapidly depleting. I think we have plenty to worry about without dragging in the clathrate-gun or a complete shutdown of the AMOC — with fantastic weather effects like those in the movie — as the melting Arctic waters freshen the Atlantic. And none of the things I described above receive much mention in this link. Will humankind go extinct? I think we face a substantial reduction in the human population and it could be slow and unpleasant or catastrophic, bloody, and agonizing. As for — we need to get things right by 2023? I think we already missed the deadline for getting things right.

                1. blennylips

                  This is a Chicken Little story. Better no story than a story like this.

                  So, obviously, Dr. Shakhova’s story is no better for you. Sorry about that.

                  I was merely showing that there exists a plausible* mechanism to achieve extinction within that time frame. It is not out of left field, just another elaboration on the “faster than expected” meme:

                  We are only talking human extinction here, you know:)

                  *breaks no know laws, similar things have happened…

                  1. Aumua

                    The more extreme scenarios are within the realm of possibilities, I have no doubt of that. I take issue with those who claim that they know, by such and such date, that our fate is sealed. Dr. Shakhova is just one voice among many, and her more extreme views are often paraded around in doomer circles. But you probably knew this.

                    1. blennylips

                      Thank you Aumua.

                      I would use the other end of that same stick to beat the mainstream view that always expresses “by the [middle | end] of the century”…

          2. dean

            Even Gavin Schmidt at NASA doesn’t worry about the methane as the previous interglacial age was warmer than ours and there was no increase in methane.

    2. Aumua

      Seems like some sensationalized doomer B.S. to me. First of all, the story is from January, regurgitated word-for-word from other sources. Who knows where it started? Secondly, I’ve spent two hours trying to track down Dr. Anderson’s actual speech that he made at the University of Chicago, and I can find no transcript, or video. So who knows what he actually said? Some sources, such as this counterpoint article from February, are a little more cautious in referring to an “interpretation of a speech” given by Anderson as being the source of the claims. Sorry but Doomerism is one of my pet peeves, and I implore the curators of N.C. to be extra careful in posting links to “The End is Near” content. The problem is bad enough without pulling out the Prophets of Doom saying Human Extinction is a given. No one who claims to know such things about the future actually does know them.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Doomer clickbait, like sex and gore, sells ads. Without the ‘humans extinct in five years’ BS hook, the link would never have spread, and it would never have ended up here. Even the “believers” don’t believe this sensationalist dross. Ask them if they’ll sign over all their property to you in five years. Not a single one would actually walk the talk and do it.

        1. JBird

          The survival of our species? Sure.

          The survival of the Western, Eastern, or planetary civilizations? Not so much.

          For an example of the near death of the ancestral Western civilization, please see the Bronze Age Collapse. There was almost not enough left for the succeeding Iron Age to start. We still don’t really have an understanding of why it happened although some kind of systemic collapse is most likely. One disaster hitting another hitting another. Like droughts, invasion, wars interfering with trade leading to one kingdom or empire collapse causing another kingdom or empire to collapse causing…

          TL;DR Multiple disasters strengthen each other causing multiple interlocking kingdoms to completely die.

          Which is what worries some. Just global warming might be catastrophic, but probably not fatal, if we weren’t blowing gigantic holes through the interlocking ecosystems and species. That still might not be a civilization killer because death does tend to focus our mind as it does in any war or natural disaster, if we had functional governments and institutions, which we don’t. I don’t even count China’s, especially after the extremely unwise development of their social credit system.

  11. cnchal

    NTSB: Uber Self-Driving Car Had Disabled Emergency Brake System Before Fatal Crash NPR

    So what. It misses the point entirely, and I would call the headline a total misdirection. Smell the bullshit.

    Investigators with the federal agency determined that the car’s detection systems, including radar and laser instruments, observed a woman walking her bicycle across the road roughly six seconds before impact — likely enough time, in other words, for a vehicle driving 43 mph to brake and avoid fatally injuring the woman.

    But it did not immediately identify the woman as a human pedestrian. Instead, the agency said, “as the vehicle and pedestrian paths converged, the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path.”

    It was not until 1.3 seconds before impact that the car’s self-driving system “determined that an emergency braking maneuver was needed to mitigate a collision,” NTSB explained. Investigators added that the driver, who was alone in the car and survived without injuries, intervened less than a second before the crash and only began to brake after the impact.

    As to why the software did not engage the brakes on its own, NTSB noted that this passive approach is actually an intentional part of the design. The agency explained that the vehicle, a modified 2017 Volvo XC90, comes “factory equipped” with automatic emergency braking — but that Uber’s system disables this function and others when it’s in use.

    What the phuck? Does anybody at the NTSB actually drive, or is everyone there a friggin desk jockey that get’s chauffeured around from jawb to jawb.

    First of all, ” observed a woman walking her bicycle” in one paragraph turns into “an unknown object, as a vehicle and then as a bicycle” in the next.

    Second, so what if the Volvo’s automatic emergency braking system was disabled. It has zero to do with the decision that Ayeye made, which was to do nothing, after determining that an “emergency braking maneuver was needed to avoid a collision”. That is what should be the focus of the investigation. Why Ayeye made the decision it did. After getting all these inputs, the output was to do nothing after it determined it should do something. What was going on in all those hidden layers within Ayeye’s brain? It ain’t telling.

    For all we know, Ayeye was driving past that same spot day after day, and then one day a tumbleweed crossed it’s path and nothing happened, so everything is a tumbleweed at that spot.

    A question for the NTSB employees. You are driving along, paying attention and the car is equipped with “automatic emergency braking”. A child darts onto the roadway in front of you. Do you hit the brakes as hard as you can as fast as you can, or let the car decide?

    1. Craig H.

      The part that amazes me is there was a human supervisor in the car and they were looking at the screens not where the car was going. They were only following orders is I guess their excuse.

      Uber’s competition must love it though.

      1. Geo

        A while back there was an article explaining a worrying issue with automated functions in cars. When a driver expects a car to take over in certain cases they will not only be less attentive to those situations but also less able to react since all those little things we aren’t doing (reactions, foresight, etc) are skills we are losing.

        Personal example: my car has a rear camera and it’s made parking much easier to the point where I now have trouble parallel parking without a rear camera.

        If a car has emergency braking, a driver may become less focused on potential dangers because of their reliance on the emergency braking systems. If that system fails, they aren’t ready to take over in the fractions of a second needed to respond.

      2. cnchal

        I agree with Geo.

        The “supervisor” seemed to actually be doing the jawb of monitoring Ayeye and not on a cell phone texting with someone. It is a thankless task to sit there and be on the alert for anything that can go wrong without knowing what that might be, and for hours on end everything is OK, until suddenly it’s calamity. In that interim you build up confidence that the system can take care of itself.

        In a Tesla for instance, when “autopilot” is engaged one is supposed to sort of hover your hands over the steering wheel to take over in case something goes wrong. No one can actually do that and keep at it for any length of time, and it would stress one out many multiples of, you know, actually driving the car yourself. Really, it’s stupidity cubed.

        I saw a commercial the other day, by Nissan if memory serves me correctly, and it was touting it’s “steering assist” by making the act of driving between two semis seem like a kamikaze move, and this would make a hero driver out of you. Seriously, if a driver needs this garbage to stay in a lane, hang up your key fob.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          my mom’s new suburban has all those bells and whistles. the seat shakes just pulling into the garage(proximity alert!) took me a while to figure out what was going on. Mom encourages me to use the rear view camera, but I refuse after almost running over a guy a couple of times.
          and the little lights that flash in the side mirrors…after I’ve noticed a car there…total distraction.
          all in all, if it was my vehicle, I’d be figuring out how to disable all that…but I prefer crank windows, and don’t even have AC in my truck.

          1. cnchal

            I used to go to big car shows to see what I might be driving in a few years, after they become available on the used market. Now, I skip the shows entirely. These things are full of electronic crapola.

            The only technical safety advance lately that is actually a benefit is the pre collision braking systems, and that’s because the inattentive dufus behind you has a better than even chance of not hitting you. The downside of it is that same dufus might think that because the car will brake for him or her, they drive so close that you can see their nose hairs in your rear view mirror.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              mom likes to read the manuals(yes, more than one) when I take her somewhere.
              still finding new “features”.The AI can’t understand my accent, it turns out,lol.
              I just see multiple points of failure.

              I prefer things I can at least attempt to cracker rig if it breaks, but I doubt I could change the oil in that thing.
              we call it the spaceship.
              when I finally drive my truck into the ground(as is my habit), my next one might be a mule and a buckboard.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I discussed this in a comment on Hubert Horan’s Uber post yesterday.

      In brief, tuning the software to respond safely and conservatively would have the effect of exposing any deficiencies in Uber’s tracking software for all to see. Pushing the envelope on safety allows them to pretend the software is better than it really is.

      The usual counterbalances to this are regulation and independent benchmarks, both of which Uber has been at pains to avoid.

      And to echo points made by other commenters, the idea that you can have a human supervisor sit there doing nothing for hours while remaining alert enough to respond in fractions of a second if something goes wrong is at odds with pretty much everything we know about human cognition and neuroscience.

  12. Wukchumni

    Not that it matters as we’re heading back to DefCon something or another with the Norks, but for a coin to be one, it has to be denominated, otherwise it’s a medal or a token.

  13. Wukchumni

    We have some of the deepest canyons and deepest drop of water from high altitude in these United States here. Water coursing through one of our 4 rivers in the spring, was probably snow earlier in the day @ 12,000 feet on it’s way to 1,000 feet around these parts.

    Not too worried about deep canyons near the South Pole that are presently covered with 7,000 feet of ice, but it’ll be somebody else’s problem as the poles melt out, and by then what will it matter aside from being a very quick delivery system exacerbating our end?

    1. neighbor7

      Kim Stanley Robinson, “New York 2140.” Excellent rendering of a flooded future, and a rousing anticapitalist rant, too.

    2. Off The Street

      In keeping with that eyewitness sketch and memory reliability article I initially read about giant crayons in Antarctica. Musing, was there a Christo installation that I had overlooked?

    1. EoH

      I’m expecting the departure of a few C-suite types, with mega-bonuses to keep it hush-hush and on the QT. Or would that have an undesirable whiff of accountability?

      1. JBird

        Or would that have an undesirable whiff of accountability?

        What is this word “accountability” that you speak of?

    2. flora

      This is starting to have the faint odor of an inside job; possibly some outsourced code hires who helped write the new system have a sideline business.

      This isn’t exactly tin-foil-hattery considering customers couldn’t log into accounts, or could login but not interact with their accounts, yet the scammers apparently know how to make the new system run perfectly for purposes of stealing account money.

      If this were in the US I keep thinking the FDIC would have closed TSB’s doors and restructured it by now. Any UK banking regulators on the job?

      1. Clive

        Yes, the Financial Conduct Authority and various Parliament-critters are making all the usual noises but as far as taking concrete actions, nada. Because (unwanted) responsibility.

        Eventually we’ll get some turgid reports or other. People can complain to a consumer champion which offers no-fee non-binding arbitration to get redress and compensation but you still have to file that under A Tax on Time.

        I too think we’re now seeing inside jobs for a fair few of these frauds. You’re right, it’s not in tin foil hat territory. There were more outsourced supplier parties than you can shake a stick at, that’s before you get to subcontractors. It only needs a handful of reasonably knowledgable people combined with lax oversight and poor controls and the temptation is irresistible.

  14. The Rev Kev

    Did anybody else see the “More Mischief at CalPERS” article? There is a big call-out to Naked Capitalism, especially where it says:
    “First a big thank you to the NakedCapitalismblog. They have been doing a splendid job of covering the May Board meeting (and peripheral events) in a way that I have never seen before, and I’ve been playing with CalPERS since 2014.”
    There is at least one NC link and lots of talk about Margaret Brown as well. Looks like the CalPERS story is starting to grow some real legs. Time to ramp up the pressure. The article ends with the line-
    “Rock on, Margaret Brown. And keep on a comin’, NakedCapitalism.”

  15. Wukchumni

    ‘iWitnessa’ isn’t as alluring of a moniker as Alexa, but I doubt sales would drop on the personal monitoring device, if so named.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Politico wakes up to a developing story that’s been discussed here for weeks:

    A huge jump in driving costs in recent months is likely to fuel a wave of economic anger across the nation — just in time for the midterm elections.

    President Donald Trump is hoping a wave of tax-cut-fueled economic euphoria will boost his approval ratings and his party’s political fortunes this fall. A sharp spike in gas prices could slam the brakes on all of that.

    As Americans head out for traditional Memorial Day weekend road trips, they’ll confront gas prices of nearly $3 a gallon, the highest since 2014 and a 25 percent spike since last year.

    The increase in gas prices is felt most heavily by lower-income Americans — especially in the South where people drive the most — who received the smallest share of the tax-cut benefits. So the increase could hit Trump’s blue-collar Southern base the hardest .

    Naturally there’s barely a peep about causation — Trump isolating oil-producing Iran; stirring up trouble in Syria and Yemen; randomly firing trade war volleys into the dark with no clue where they’ll hit. Trump is so flaked out, he’s morphed into Muammar Gaddafi in a blue suit. Show us the camels!

    1. allan

      He’s so popular that 2 out of the 4 Republicans running for state-wide office in NY
      are refusing to say whether or not they voted for him and a third claims that he didn’t.

      He delivered Gorsuch and the tax cuts and they’re done with him.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its time for his good friends the Saudis to do their traditional part in US elections and open up the sluices to drive down prices in time for elections. The only question is if they can do that anymore, they got badly burned in their last attempt…

    3. Wyoming

      The increase in gas prices is felt most heavily by lower-income Americans — especially in the South where people drive the most — who received the smallest share of the tax-cut benefits

      In the South??

      This seemed wrong to me so I looked it up and it is wrong. It is the West. The South would be about the same as the mid-west.

      It is worth pointing out that the difference between the highest 25 states are not very large until you hit the top 5 which are about 1/3 higher than the bulk of states. 1 southern state in the top 5.

      My namesake is #1 by a wide margin.

      1. Lord Koos

        Yep I wondered about that too, I always thought the west had the most driving miles — things are further apart than in the east and mid-west.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        Like Wyoming and me, you are in the West. We are the one getting slaughtered by high gas prices, and we are less reliably addicted to the political tribal divide than southern voters. You are on the deep blue left coast I think, but massive increases in driving costs might drive some of the purple dots in eastern Washington blue. Combine that with LDS distaste for Trump, and parts of the intermontane West might turn remarkably purple in 2018.

        If southern states go spottily purple/blue any time soon it will be on account of African-American activism. It will be response to social issues more than economic issues.

  17. Jim Haygood

    A spectre is haunting Europe, comrades. Italian bonds are getting whacked on “redenomination risk,” as Spanish bonds sell off in reaction to a domestic political crisis. Shares are taking it badly, as these charts of US-traded Italy and Spain focused ETFs show:

    Markets! *sigh* Stop feeding them with buckets of liquidity, and they just wilt on you. :-(

    Fortunately it will never happen here. /sarc

  18. The Rev Kev

    “With Trump Ignoring EU Interests in Iran, the Western Alliance Gets Weaker”

    Gee, could you imagine a point down the road where the EU finally throws in its lot with a Russia-Iran-China trade block? Then Putin’s idea of having a Lisbon to Vladivostok trade block would become a reality and the One Belt One Road would take on a whole new meaning. I wonder what the combined GDP of that lot would be then?

  19. Ted

    RE: Every cell in your body has the same DNA …

    What’s that hammering sound I hear just outside the window? Could it be the final death knell of genetic determinism? Oh poor poor Richard Dawkins, what will he do now in his retirement. Of course, one could ask, just which of the many Richard Dawkinses that co-reside together in the same body is the one to worry about?

    Maybe a new book is in order, titled, Tao has the Last Laugh.

    From the article

    “What we do know is that mosaicism introduces randomness into the development of our brains. Mutations, which arise at random, will form different patterns in different people. “The same zygote would never develop exactly the same way twice,” said Dr. Walsh.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s humbling to know, with Science, tomorrow (or in the future), we may get an even better explanation…that what we know how may be a little off by then (which could be disastrous, as how little off our understanding is often not proportional to the damage we humans can cause with it).

      1. berit

        Yes, it’s humbling, to know that mutations arise at random, and that the same zygote never would develop the same way in different people…so much for “scientific” certainties and Norwegian Nobel prize laureats proclaiming a bright future of understanding and fixing mental health problems, defined as brain diseases – on the basis of discovering and mapping(?)(straight lines) a brain structure in mice trained to find their way in maces. Paraphrasing MyLessThanPrimeBeef’s obervation, I’d say we humans are causing a lot of damage with our “little off” understanding – and the hubris of Key Opinion Leaders in all walks of life, professions and organizations

    2. Patrick

      In the field of quantum biology, there are studies revealing how cellular activity (including genetic “mutation”) is affected by actions at the atomic level. An example of this is E.coli bacteria, where some strains are unable to consume lactose, their DNA will actually mutate, if there is no other “food” source available, to enable consumption of lactose.

      One account I read of this attributes it to the quantum effects that arise with saturation of certain elements that will drive the mutation.

      If so, the whole nature vs. nurture issues gets much more complex, and variations in DNA in cells of a single organism should be expected.

    3. susan the other

      that was a vewy intewesting piece. More Sheldrake than Gould. Made me think Rupert is correct with his morpho-genesis thinking because with all those random mutations creating a mosaic of our genome something has to guide ontogeny and human development in what seems to be a coherent direction…

    4. georgieboy

      Not sure Dawkins would see this as such a big deal. Falls in with what is being learned about epigenetics. Basic message about getting a package of inherited info remains the same. BIo 101 taught us that each human created is one of about 70 trillion possibilities from their two parents.

      The fascinating new info about the long-recognized phenomenon of mosaicism enriches the possibilities.

      ‘Genetic determinism’ is a kind of slur, mixing angst about the fact we inherit some stuff with wishful thinking about infinite plasticity to shape a ‘new man.’ The wishful thinkers — generally the Marxists — have been the most murderous group in human history.

      I’ll stick with civilized atheists like Dawkins, thank you.

      1. berit

        Marxists? Honestly! The most murderous are ego-obsessed and totalitarian tyrants born in an age of ever more efficient technologies. The powerhungry can make use of any philosophy and turn it into the primary ideology fitting their purpose, time and place. The Spaniards looting and killing in the Americas were Catholics, slave holders then and now can be Christians, Hindu, Shia, Sunni..”Good” obedient, protestant Germans constructed KZs gas and competed in the making of the most efficient ovens.The men deciding the use of atom bombs on two Japanese cities were (mainstream?) American politicians – as is (perhaps?) POTUS Trump, willywaving by threatening to use US supreme military might to bomb Iran and poor North Korea and millions other people back to the Stone Age. Philosophy trains and sharpens minds, marxism too, unless men turn it to stone as their ideology, their means of suppression.

  20. EoH

    TSB is back in the news, miscommunicating, apparent theft of customer assets, inability to respond, to understand complaints, and act on any of them.

    Does it still have the same CEO, COO, CFO and CIO? If so, why?

    1. sd

      Now that would be much more useful than self driving cars, flying taxis, hyper loops and traveling to Mars.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The next trick is to know how to grow certain teeth bigger.

      “Can you make my fangs just a little longer?”

    3. ambrit

      Gnarth! Me like!
      I bow down and make praise to the mighty Djinns of Kings College London Dental Institute! Such wonders! Such miraculous powers! I just hope that Americas FDA doesn’t hold up the implementation of this treatment in America because no well connected Big Pharma company stands to make excessive profits off or it.
      I will be a prime candidate for trials.
      Not mentioned is the question of applicability of this treatment to skeletal breaks and fractures. Are teeth comparable to bones, biochemically?

      1. JBird

        Just you wait. Either some Big Pharma Megacorp will steal buy the patent and then increase the price by 5000% or some dental company will bribe ask the FDA to put such potentially dangerous medical treatment through rigorous testing before possibly approving its use in about thirty years.

        1. ambrit

          Snaarguth! At my decaying phase of life I am losing my fangly abilities with which a proper Social Justice Worrier would eviscerate properly Pharma Reps and Board Members. More properly, despoil the Boards of their Members!

          1. polecat

            ambrit, perhaps you’ve not heard of the special ‘Hessian Pro’file’ option ..
            .. ( ^^^^ ) ..
            None of that fussy hand-sharpening required.

  21. Jim Haygood

    Professional skeptic Eric Peters pens the Tesla Model 3’s obituary:

    The death of the perpetually tardy Model 3 may ultimately have less to do with it being an overpriced electric car than with something even more lethal to its chances . . .

    It’s a too-small sedan.

    Electric or not, they aren’t selling. Even the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord – both of them just redesigned – are experiencing sales dips. If these formerly perennial hot-sellers are in trouble, it’s a clue that something is seriously awry with this kind of car rather than any particular car.

    Ford, as most everyone has heard, is going to stop making sedans – period. Death warrants have been signed for the Taurus and Fusion. Cadillac just cancelled the unloved ATS. The Chevy Impala will soon sleep with the fishes.

    The why is easy enough to understand. Most new sedans are too small – for people and for cargo. The Tesla 3 would probably fail for all of these reasons even if it weren’t an electric car.

    Now add to the mix that it is an electric car. An expensive electric car. People holding Tesla stock might want to give it some thought.

    From a high of 385.00 on Sep 18th last year, TSLA has drifted down to 278.32 today — a 27.7% slide from the peak. Happy motoring!

    1. sd

      Who knew that the delivery of the Tesla Model 3 would turn into a real life performance art piece of Waiting for Godot.

        1. ambrit

          Well, at least we now know one of the items in Musks’ ‘Beckett List.’
          “Elon. What do you absolutely have to do before you ‘go to Mars?'”
          Then, another item on said list: “Teslas Last Car.”
          Elons’ ‘Endgame’ will be Avant-Guard.

    2. Synoia

      The Tesla 3 should be an SUV.

      Modern cars consist of a platform, and body type.

      Ford retained the platform, and got rid of the not selling bodies of their fleet.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A good sales person can probably sell Tesla 3, changing the design little or a little, to the Pentagon.

    3. JBird

      A healthy market for automobiles requires a healthy economy preferably with a very large healthy middle class does it not?

      What do we not have right now?

      And considering that there is always some need for low cost, fuel efficient, low maintenance car why is leaving the car market a good idea?

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Which reinforces my experience with e-cars that they are targeted to singles or, at best, childless couples who never have to transport anything larger than the groceries. They’re cute, but unless families become outmoded, they aren’t anything more than toys that let people think they’re making a contribution to stopping climate change.

    5. cnchal

      > . . . The why is easy enough to understand. Most new sedans are too small – for people and for cargo.

      Nonsense. Too small for a 3 to 400 pounder perhaps. Look inside any small SUV and compare it to a small sedan, and you would know that isn’t the reason.

      The real reason starts with the letter a, for advertising. Suckers.

  22. allan

    Beating BEAT with COGS:

    Tax-dodge strategists probe loopholes in new U.S. law, IRS wary [Reuters]

    Tax experts for global corporations are hot on the trail of loopholes in the sweeping tax law approved in December by President Donald Trump and Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

    Barely five months since it took effect, the law is already yielding potential tax-dodge gimmicks, from revising cross-border payments to substituting bank loans for internal debt.

    These fast-emerging strategies are designed mainly to blunt the impact of three new corporate taxes imposed by the law, said lawyers and consultants who help large, international companies minimize their taxes while staying within the letter of the law. …

    At a recent Washington conference, panelists from the law firm of Caplin & Drysdale, audit and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers and the IRS talked about the new law’s Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) and how it interacts with a standard business accounting entry called cost of goods sold (COGS) that encompasses the expenses of producing goods.

    Cost of goods sold normally covers raw material and labor expenses, but also other, less clear-cut expenses. Importantly for tax planners, COGS is exempt from BEAT, under the new tax law. So putting more expenses into COGS could reduce BEAT exposure. …

    This is good news for Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady’s post-government employment opportunities.

    Tax reform so corrupt that you can list the co-conspirators on a postcard.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Good comment on that post by richardstevenhack. A snip:

      This report, while spending most of its time describing how Afghanistan failed, still has as its primary purpose setting up the next nation-building effort. No where does it mention how NOT wrecking a country for no good reason might be the best approach. Instead it clearly sees the scores and hundreds of billions of dollars taken from the taxpayer and flooded into corrupt officials and “reconstruction” corporations is a benefit that should be continued.

      Turning the aphorism on its head, “If you don’t want to own it, don’t break it.”

      As for the $5 billion figure cited in the nbc link, that sounds like the change that was found between the pentagon couch cushions after it fell out of the mic lobbyists’ pockets while they were relaxing and exercising their rights to free “speech.”

      Had the sigtar looked a little bit harder, he probably could have found some of the pentagon’s missing $21 trillion, which would have made his “report” considerably more legit. Since a trillion is a thousand billion, 5 billion sounds like a bad joke.

  23. Michael Hunt

    So, Latino is now an un-word to be replaced with Latinx. The revolution will be complete when the language has been cleansed, eh sister!

      1. ambrit

        Uh, in Spanish, the suffix -o denotes either male, in the singular, or neutral in the mixed plural population being referred to by the word with the suffix attached.
        So, Latino is grammatically correct and appropriate when utilising it in Spanish. Since those considered Latino have as a general unifying property the usage of Spanish as their native tongue, the adoption of a native word to describe said persons is appropriate.
        Changing a descriptive word of long standing in reference to a group is consistent with an agenda of cultural appropriation.
        In English at least, the connotative values of the -o and -x suffixes reside in the psychological weight given to hard versus soft sounds at the end of a word.
        So, that one letter change makes a H— of a lot of difference.
        Whoever is pushing this change in the word has a hidden agenda. I’d lay odds on it.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          Most identitarian “left” neologisms have one significant purpose: dividing out the fashionably woke from the dull herd of ordinary citizens. New words like this one – that are unknown and meaningless to any poor immigrant struggling to survive – are all about enabling academic dominance games. Those games are played out up the social ladder, between people who don’t have as much in the way of day-to-day worries.

          Also, a word like Latinx has inter-generational value. It helps young “radicals” differentiate themselves from their elders, who they half-covertly see as failures or sell outs. Differentiating language like this helps the rising generation of self-dealing machers consolidate social power.

          1. ambrit

            I’m with you on this.
            Just don’t pretend you don’t know me the next time we’re both in the Faculty Lounge. OK?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The reason I see given is that saying “latinO” is somehow male chauvinist piggish and anti-feminist. And so for a while female social justice warriors would say “latinA” when referring to female “latinos”. Then the more-revolutionary-than-thou social justice warriors figured out that saying “latinA” implied that there could still BE such a thing as “latinO” , which was decreed an unnaceptable permission-to-exist for male chauvinist language. The word “latinx” was coined as a stalinist-maoist type of loyalty test word. If you don’t use the word “latinx”, you are not a true social justice warrior.

          That is the “hidden agenda”. Stalinist-maoist loyalty tests used by self-aggrandizing “socialism-climbers” of the social justice warrior set. It isn’t even very well hidden.

    1. Oregoncharles

      actually, I think it’s a improvement and wish we had something similar in English. Our roblem is the lack of a gender-neutral ersonal pronoun.

      “Latinx” avoids guessing at someone’s gender, or in the plural, implying that masculine is the default, which is biologically false.

      Spanish was originally engineered by a royal commission; why not fix the gas?

      1. Oregoncharles

        Evidently, my “P” doesn’t work well. That was supposed to be “gaps,” at the end.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don’t Fix Climate Change by 2023 GristPost (UserFriendly)

    Five years is a short time to fix something that has been worsening for a long time.

    Maybe we can do it in 60 months.

    If not, what would you do?

    What would you do if you have only 5 days to live?

    Do you try to make everyone you meet happy?

    Do you try to spend all the money you have?

    Do you finally do the cross-country drive in 5 days that you have always wanted to do?

    What would the human race (species?) do, if given only 5 years to live?

    Starting being nice to pigs? Go vegetarian?

    1. susan the other

      this means that we can’t indulge ourselves in fantasies about sucking the CO2 out of the sky or de-acidifying the oceans… too impossible; so since we are such fabulists we can always try something. I’d organize a local fleet of delivery trucks and cut everyone else off at the gas pump. Simple. Maybe.

      1. ambrit

        The most feasible mass strategy to try to ‘weather’ the coming storms would be to perfect and release into the biosphere some massively deadly diseases. Cut the worlds population down to below the threshold needed to carry on a mass technological society. Then plan on picking up the pieces and rebuilding some other way.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s uh…what uebermenschen do.

          In Zen, I think there is something similar, but hopefully more specifically positive.

          In Japan, there was a zen monk, Hakuin. One day, he found an abandoned baby and decided to keep and raise her (him?). Gossips started to spread that the baby was his illegitimate child. He was unmoved by such moral concerns, because he knew he was innocent, which was proven eventually (like in any good, uplifting story).

          Similarly, there is a story of two travelling Chan monks during the Tang or Song dynasty. They came to a brook, where a woman struggled with crossing without get drowned or wet. The older Chan monk picked her up and carried her away. A little later, the young monk asked why the older, horny monk touched the woman, which was against their Chan rules. The older, horny monk responded “I dropped her down, after we crossed the brook, why are your still ‘carrying’ her on your mind?” This older monk was unconcerned about rules or being seen as ‘horny.’

          Are these two monks Zen-uebermenschen? Did they do what they believed was right, unconcerned with ordinary morality?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Those ‘it’s too late, we might as well have a good time’ fatalists are worrisome.

        Who knows what they will do.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        Stage III of the Neoliberal answer to Climate Disruption will call for entrepreneurs to enter the Market with nostrums to make things right. Mirowski thought the space-mirrors idea sounded exciting.

        1. ambrit

          Yes. Big, as in interplanetary scale, geoengineering projects are aspirational at best. Without some giant scale energy supply system, not much of use can get done. The idea of surrounding the Earth with a cloud of highly reflective dust sounds cheapest and most feasible. At the scales needed, private anything is not appropriate. We’re talking about the entire planets energy balance here. Everyone will have to get involved.

    2. cnchal

      > If not, what would you do?

      Jawb guarantee. Pay people to do as little as possible. No point in burning energy to have 40% of the people go back and forth doing bullshit jawbs. Doing nothing is better than doing something.

      How to pay for it? Tax the hell out of the most wasteful people of all, billionaires, so they can’t afford their gluttonous lifestyles of the rich and pompous.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Sounds more like UBI???

        Or else, what you say is the case where JG = UBI.

        1. cnchal

          Calling it a UBI implies money for nothing, and that is bad for the soul. Calling it a jawb guarantee where the purpose is to be paid money to do nothing, is good for the soul.

          Good for the planet too, if you can wrangle the billionaire gluttons out of their private jets, yachts, and 500 room mansions.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kids At Every Income Level Were Asked To Show Their Favorite Toys, And The Result Will Make You Think Bored Panda

    Parents can only gift so much money a year to their kids, I understand (and I am no CPA).

    But it seems if a kid lives in a $100 million house, he or she is likely to exceed that limit from rent not paid, alone, not to mention the nanny care, medical care, vacations, toys, parties given, Chinese language lessons, ballet lessons, clothes, etc.

  26. freedomny

    “Two weeks ago, my campaign’s existence wasn’t even publicly acknowledged by the Queens Dem Party. Yesterday, their Chairman agreed to debate me on TV. Now, our debate is being widely recognized as a “must-see” event in NYC. That’s the power of organizing. YOU made it happen.”

    Tweet from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is challenging J. Crowley in NY-14. The debate will be June 15 and covered by NY1. So a 28 year old Latina is debating a 54 year old white guy…..I really can’t wait to see this. She has been on Secular Talk and the Jimmy Dore show….

      1. ambrit

        Pssst! ‘Latina’ is perfectly good Spanish usage.
        Ever wonder why Esperanto didn’t become a real World Language?
        I know you snark me for the sheer fun of it. I approve!
        I see this push to replace gender specific suffixes with a gender neutral one as part of some sort of socio-political agenda.

        1. ewmayer

          This sort of misguided PC-grammar-pushing is even more ludicrous in the context of Spanish language culture, since Spanish is riddled with “sexism”. For example ‘madre’ is mother, ‘padre’ is father, but plural ‘my parents’ is based on the masculine ‘p’ form, ‘mis padres’. Sexist! We must insist that everyone use some utterly inane and unpronounceable PC construction like ‘xadres’! Can I get a segundx for my motion?

        2. JP

          Good god, if we could just take the gender out of French I would be able to stop guessing.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China’s ‘Social Credit Score’ Blacklists People for Bad Behavior (Who Decides?) Wolf Richter (EM)

    Can you protest that by cancelling your 99 year lease with China?

    1. ewmayer

      More seriously [bolds mine]

      ‘China’s ‘Brave New World’ move towards a mandatory ‘social credit’ system for all citizens by 2020 has already blocked people from 11 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed train trips, according to Chinese state-run media.
      While it sounds like an economic bust for transportation, state-run media are tossing the figures around as proof of the program’s success, with the Global Times citing a senior official suggesting that the form of punishment meted out by those with poor social credit would incentivize them to become better citizens.

      The figures were said to be as of “the end of April,” though no starting point was mentioned.

      Speaking at a credit development forum in Beijing on Saturday, Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the State Council’s development research center—the center responsible for creating “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”—said the system was needed so that “discredited people become bankrupt.”

      “If we don’t increase the cost of being discredited, we are encouraging discredited people to keep at it,” the Global Times cited Hou as saying.’

      I would argue that a ‘softer’ version of this sort of thing is also already well underway in the ‘democratic West’, via a kind of informal collaboration between mass-domestic-surveilling governments and relentlessly-data-sucking-and-aggregating private corporations, many of whom owe their existence to seed funding from the security state. This goes hand-in-hand with the push toward e-currency and banning of physical cash under the pretext of ‘stopping crime’ – that can be used not only to impose NIRP on the mopes every time the elite-crook sector needs a bailout, but also to track every purchase. And having every kind of economic interchange require a tech-layer intermediary gives the data-suckers the capability not just to spy and profile and target-with-ads but to exclude targeted individuals from participation in all aspects of economic life except the black-market ones, just as China is aggressively doing. History has shown without fail that any technology which can be misused for oppression will be be misused for oppression, but never before in history has there been a set of technologies which give their wielders such ubiquitous access to all aspects of the lives of the citizenry. “Orwellian” is in fact too mild a term for it – the all-seeing security state of Orwell’s 1984 would require an unrealistically large ratio of security personnel to commoners to realize in practice – it would make the Stasi look like pikers. And even Winston Smith used physical cash. But with automated mass data collection and aggregation and a fully digital economy, the numbers suddenly become much more workable.

      1. JBird

        The guilt by association is a nice tactic. Friends and family, including the children, are punished as well. I think this is a excellent way to produce groupthink on a cripplingly massive scale. We can see it just in the use of social media here in the United States, but this has the capability to destroy China.

  28. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How John Bolton Sabotaged The North Korea Talks Moon of Alabama (UserFriendly)

    North Korea ready to talk ‘at any time’ with Donald Trump BBC

    North Korea: The Undaunted State Tests the Limits of Empire Zero Anthropology (UserFriendly)

    North Korea Says It Is Still Willing to Meet With Trump Wall Street Journal

    Trump-Kim ‘breakup’ sparks Twitter mirth over commemorative coins Reuters

    Trump replaces Kim with Trump on redesigned peace talks challenge coin Duffel Blog (Kevin W)

    The trick in any deal or negotiation is guessing or getting intelligence on whether you or your predecessors have been too hard, too soft or about right with respect to the other side.

    It seems, watching the recent developments, we have been too easy…for decades. Of course, it’s dynamic and constantly evolving.

    1. ambrit

      “…with respect to the other side.”
      Now there you have it. With the present administration, the “other side” depends on who has last bent the Executives ear.

  29. kareninca

    “A top climate scientist is warning that climate change will wipe out all of humanity unless we stop using fossil fuels over the next five years.”

    Well, so I guess we’re going extinct. Since we’re not going to stop using fossil fuels over the next five years.

  30. Oregoncharles

    “ECB Warns Against Fiscal Splurge as Italy Prepares Populist Rule”
    Doesn’t the ECB hold a lot of Italian bonds, as a result of quantum easing (yes, deliberate)? Bonds which will lose value quickly in a populist policy?

    That quote is the ECB squirming.

  31. Oregoncharles

    “EU to UK: We won’t reimburse Galileo satellite funding”

    Only the UK owes far more than that, so this is just a bargaining chip.

    Ultimately, it all comes down to just how hostile the breakup turns out to be.

  32. Kris

    “ECB Warns Against Fiscal Splurge as Italy Prepares Populist Rule”

    Interesting pushback against Germany’s fiscal rule: Germany’s Great European Heist
    “Two mantras guide German thinking about eurozone integration: responsibilities and control must be aligned (so no mutualization of risk without shared jurisdiction); and legacy risks must be settled before any pooling of risks among euro members takes place… What if France applied Germany’s approach to eurozone integration to the question of mutualizing defense commitments? What if the French were to insist, as an absolute precondition for further security cooperation, that Germany not only increase its defense budget immediately, but also make good on its accumulated backlog in defense spending from recent decades?”

    1. Oregoncharles

      Non starter; no one in Europe, including Germans, want Germany to have a strong army.

  33. Daryl

    > Many readers sent links to the widely reported story on Alexa snooping, so don’t feel neglected if we didn’t use yours.

    I’m a little upset that you didn’t use mine, of course I didn’t send it in, I just said it aloud in my room assuming that a microphone would pick it up.

  34. JBird

    Dog deemed ‘unadoptable’ to become first-ever deaf K-9 in Washington

    The reason giving was that it would have been too hard for the new owners to communicate with the dog. That’s just silly ass nonsense.

    (Pardon me, I need to roll my eyes.)

    It is not impossible to communicate when you cannot hear. There is such a thing called “sign language” and hand signals. Heck, my cat knows I can’t hear her, so the cat gets…creative with getting my attention. If nothing else, a good jab with those paw needles of hers!

  35. ambrit

    Our windowsill cat has learned to condition her bipedal servants also. Indeed, it suggests that felines use logic. Paws and effect and all that.

Comments are closed.