Links 5/3/18

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The toxic legacy of Canada’s CIA brainwashing experiments: ‘They strip you of your soul’ Guardian (UserFriendly). Today’s must read.

Hominin Head-Scratcher: Who Butchered This Rhino 709,000 Years Ago? Discover Magazine (Kevin W)

Japan: robot dogs get solemn Buddhist send-off at funerals Guardian

‘We Are Talking Billions of People Displaced by Sea Level Rise’ FAIR (UserFriendly). Has info that may be new to many readers.

Climate change is now a Russian plot:

Some genetic tests apparently can’t tell if you’re dog or human Furutism (David L) Even funnier: A Home DNA Test Kit For Humans Found This Golden Retriever Would Make a Great Cyclist Science Alert

Scientists build ‘synthetic embryos’ BBC

North Korea

Denuclearization: Can Trump and Kim Find a Common Definition? Wall Street Journal

Aadhaar hearing: Supreme Court questions private companies using citizens’ details Scroll (J-LS)

Aadhaar Fraud is Not Only Real, But is Worth More Closely Examining The Wire (J-LS)

India dust storms: Nearly 100 killed in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan BBC

Matteo Renzi swings wrecking ball at tie-up with Five Star Financial Times


TSB boss Paul Pester got it all wrong as MPs drew blood over bank’s IT snafu Independent. This really was disgraceful. And the MPs didn’t ask anything other than basic questions. See our post today.


May goes back to drawing board to find customs compromise Independent. Translation: She’s kicked the can down the road again. Given that local elections are about to start, this should have been predictable.

May defied by senior ministers over plans for EU customs deal The Times. A more pointed take.

Sajid Javid joins hard-Brexiters to derail PM on customs plan Guardian. As PlutoniumKun points out (and some other media outlets noted yesterday) the replacement of Rudd has tipped the balance in the Cabinet to favor the Ultras: “If this is so, it looks almost certain May will not be able to present the EU with any sort of workable plan.” This is happening as the MPs are more and more favoring a soft Brexit. AS he extrapolated (and Richard Smith and I discussed in parallel) this increases the odds of a Constitutional crisis and a crash-out Brexit, which the EU might not mind, since it would mean their hands were clean.

Windrush scandal: Tories vote to block release of secret documents as they launch review Independent. With the too-obvioius intent that Rudd’s resignation will work as a shield for May, who was responsible.

Agenda: Give us a timetable for firm action on dirty money Herald Scotland


Trump has all but decided to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal: sources Reuters (furzy). Aieee.

Eurasia torn between war and peace Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)

Israel’s Juvenile Ground Army Pat Lang, Unz Review

Hassan Nasrallah: Israel has come into direct confrontation with Iran Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Cambridge Analytica closing after Facebook data harvesting scandal Guardian. Kevin W points out Cambridge Analytica is not dead but merely reconstituting: “Key sentence – ‘Although Cambridge Analytica might be dead, the team behind it has already set up a mysterious new company called Emerdata.'”

Tech giants hit by NSA spying slam encryption backdoors ZDNet

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank lost data of 20m accounts BBC (Kevin W)

Watch Samantha Bee rip into Facebook and tell Mark Zuckerberg to ‘get this shit under control’ Recode. Lead story as of now. I watched the entire clip, which is rare for me.

Tariff Tantrum

It appears China has stopped buying soybeans from the US altogether because of trade fight CNBC (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

Giuliani: Trump reimbursed Cohen for $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels The Hill. Wowsesrs. How did anyone think this would be helpful? Even if Team Trump decided this was the best of bad solutions to the problem, why air it in the press to let Mueller get an early look? With friends like this…

Trump defends payment to Stormy Daniels after Giuliani revelation The Hill

Trump goes on offensive in Russia probe with new ‘wartime consiglieres’ Politico. Note that this indicates that Guiliani did manage to say some sensible things on Fox, like pointing out that Mueller looked to be trying to engage in entrapment. But again, why telegraph your strategy?

John Dean Calls Leaking The Questions A Possible Basis For Obstruction Of Justice Jonathan Turley. Turley begs to differ.

Reuters Poll: Black Male Approval For Trump Doubles In One Week Daily Caller (UserFriendly)

Governments Are Nothing Like Households Forbes

Police Crack Down on Puerto Rico May Day March Against Austerity Real News Network. We flagged this via a tweet yesterday.

Police State Watch

New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President the Power to Imprison U.S. Citizens in Military Detention Forever Intercept

Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers’ lives Los Angeles Times (Milen)

Kill Me Now

Deval Patrick says ‘the woke’ should make room for people who are ‘still waking’ Boston (Swamp Yankee). Our man at Bain Capital speaks….

Clinton: Being a capitalist ‘probably’ hurt me with Dem voters The Hill. UserFriendly:​I think she wants Democrats to lose in 2018.​ This is clearly just to bait the GOP base and get them to vote.”

Teenager’s Prom Dress Stirs Furor in U.S. — but Not in China New York Times. This goes here because it is ridiculous as a source of controversy. The idea that proms deserve any respect as cultural institutions is barmy. I am sure if a teenager showed up in a classic Saint Laurent “Le Smoking,” people would go nuts too. Too dikey, even though the early adopters were rich taste-makers like Nan Kempner. As FluffytheObeseCat pointed out, “The incident was a study in simple bullying, masquerading as a virtuous political act.”

KKR seeks Trump tax boost through restructuring Financial Times

Tesla posts record $710m net loss as it struggles to produce Model 3 cars Guardian (Kevin W)

Tesla Discloses Worst Quarterly Zinger of a Loss Ever, Burns $1.1 Billion Cash Wolf Richter. EM:

Upshot is the following dire ratio: “26% increase in revenues caused a 114% jump in net losses.” A.k.a. “We lose huge amounts of money on every car we build, but we make it up on volume.”

Guillotine Watch

Most “High Performers” Are Just Better Parasites Ian Welsh (Bill B)

10 of the Most Sociopathic Washington Post Columns FAIR (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

We Work: Give job guarantee a chance James Galbraith The Baffler (UserFriendly). Important.

Outrage grows over union effort to shut down Arizona teachers strike WSWS (Randy K)

East Village Benefit Dinner for Hicks for Congress EventBrite (UserFriendly). I normally do not promote candidates for specific races, but this guy gets kudos for having a fundraiser where the cheapest tickets are $25. Open mike too.

Seattle Activists Pressure Amazon To Fund Affordable Housing Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H). Brown Chinese geese:

And an unconventional bonus anecdote from Tam:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Emorej a Hong Kong

    Cambridge Analytica closing after Facebook data harvesting scandal
    …the team behind it has already set up a mysterious new company called Emerdata.

    Urgent for creditors (and/or litigation claimants) to freeze and preserve CA’s biggest “asset”, which is presumably its data and records of how the data was used.

    Although the DNC lawsuit against CA and many other defendants seems politically stupid, presumably it creates a legal basis for the DNC to apply for such a freeze, although a claimant in English courts could do so more directly/quickly/cheaply.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Plus some CA staff have been deployed to subsidiaries of SCL overseas. The BF of a friend / former colleague, who looked after EMEA, was quietly dispatched to Beirut last December. He works with “our” rebels next door and worked with their counterparts in Libya.

      Said CA staffer, a Lebanese fellow, applied to be a Tory candidate a year ago, but the Tory blue rinse were not convinced, even when he was accompanied by a rose, my friend / former colleague, from the Welsh speaking heartland.

      It’s interesting that the BBC’s report this morning failed to mention Emerdata, SCL and SCL’s Tory investors and directors and former military personnel.

      1. Judith

        Can you say more about SCL. Even the bland Wikipedia description makes it clear they are up to no good:

        After an initial commercial success, SCL expanded into military and political arenas. It became known for alleged involvement “in military disinformation campaigns to social media branding and voter targeting”.[8] According to its website, SCL has participated in over 25 international political and electoral campaigns since 1994.

        1. thump

          found via Craig Murray’s site, which recommended it:

          SCL – a Very British Coup

          Liam O Hare on the deep connections between Cambridge Analytica’s parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL Group) and the Conservative Party and military establishment, ‘Board members include an array of Lords, Tory donors, ex-British army officers and defense contractors. This is scandal that cuts to the heart of the British establishment.’

  2. Kevin C Smith

    Trump should have said he ordered the 130k paid to Stormy in order to keep Melania off his back, or even better, he did it to spare his kids the embarrassment of having the scandal exposed.
    Either of these solutions would solve the campaign finance law violation problem, and would have the added virtue of containing a grain of truth!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The Trump team is guilty of world class terrible messaging. This isn’t a campaign finance violation, not even close. I have no idea why they didn’t get all over Fox, save that there is a well documented cognitive bias, that debunking something can actually wind up reinforcing it (by associating the same two ideas in the debunking, as in saying “Cohen” and “campaign” within a sentence or two of each other solidifies the impression that they are linked).

      Stormy was paid off before Trump launched his campaign.

      Trump has used Cohen as a fixer forever. They have a personal relationship. Cohen has nada to do with the campaign.

      1. Skateman

        “Stormy was paid off before Trump launched his campaign.”

        I’m confused. Wasn’t she paid 11 days before the election?

        1. Alex morfesis

          I am confused why the failed pron actress stinky Daniels and her attorney have not been charged and arrested for extortion which this was and continues to be…

          1. mle detroit

            Interesting point. Isn’t it reassuring to think that the dude with the biggest button is known to cave to blackmail?

          2. Katniss Everdeen


            Conveniently forgotten is the ever important “context” of those pre-election 11 days. From Bloomberg on 10/27/16:

            Almost every public and private metric suggests Trump is headed for a loss, possibly an epic one. His frustrated demeanor on the campaign trail suggests he knows it.


            Much of the media at the time was going on about the “consequences” of Trump’s refusal to concede the election and/or his establishment of a new entertainment “empire” utilizing the data gathered from supporters during the campaign.

            Having made some part of his fortune in the casino business as the “house,” it’s hard to believe that he didn’t understand the concept of “odds.” And the odds of a payoff on a $130,000 bet at that point in the campaign appeared to be overwhelmingly slim.

            As usual, these accusations only appear credible in light of the unexpected election result, which absolutely no one knew at the time.

            And, as an aside, that article lays out in considerable detail the collaboration of the Trump campaign and Brad Parscale and Cambridge Analytica and facebook. The very same information that is being “revealed” and vilified as Russian “collusion” currently.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              That is utter nonsense.

              Someone could be into S&M or threesome, which are perfectly legal, and not want that advertised because (in general) press about your sex life is never a good idea.

              Someone could have a father who was a mobster or murder and have left his family at an early age and even changed his name to signal his desire to get away from them.

              In other words, having secrets does not mean not being honest.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Big oops and apologies. I got an earful from an attorney who knows this terrain and heard the bit about the timing wrong, and since I am up way past my usual turn in time, I didn’t check to make sure I understood the timing part right. I have thought this whole Stormy Daniels thing is so ridiculous I want to tear my hair and have avoided it as much as possible (this is the first time I have put it in Links), hence my not being up to speed on details.

        Trump is getting conservative judges appointed, for instance, and this is what dominates the news?

        The argument was that

        1. It is really a stretch to call this a campaign finance issue since Cohen and Trump have a long standing relationship and there is no evidence Cohen dealt with “the campaign”. But both Cohen and Trump have been utterly ham-handed in how they have handled this, and Cohen appears to be so much a fixer and so little a lawyer that he appears to have created at least as much a mess for himself as Trump has.

        2. Even if there was, who cares? Campaign finance violations happen all the time, including by accident (Sanders and those Labour Party volunteers from Oz). The FEC issues a fine 2 years later. Making this much noise about an alleged campaign finance issue is unheard of. See this by way of contrast:

        What’s behind the claim that Hillary Clinton got ‘$84 million of potentially illegal campaign contributions?’

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Maybe the poor messaging is a reflection of what sad prudes they are beneath all the macho chest-beating…

        2. Sid_finster

          Campaign finance issues are no big deal, technicalities at most, when establishment darlings do them.

          When someone that the establishment doesn’t approve of does the same thing, pearls get clutched, indictments get handed down, fo’ real.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        “[…] Soviet Union […] put dogs into space rather than cats.”

        For some background, by 1961 France found herself falling behind in the space race, and by extension, the strategic arms race. President de Gaulle demanded parity, creating the Centre National d’ Etudes Spatiales, world’s 3rd space agency. Tasked with finding out if people can function in zero gravity, the CNES turned to Félicette, a female cat, to pioneer spaceflight and become a national heroine. 24 Oct 1963, Saharan Desert, Félicette boarded a Véronique liquid-fuel rocket with electrodes attached monitoring her vitals, and launched on a 12 min spaceflight, 130 miles above the earth, at six times the speed of sound. Félicette returned to earth in sound health.

  3. allan

    Sadly, Rudy 9-1-1 seemed to imply that the payment was broken into pieces.
    If they were below $10,000, and the intent was to avoid money laundering laws
    such as the Bank Secrecy Act, that’s structuring.
    Ask Denny Hastert how that can turn out.

    The possibility that the president could be brought down by Stormy,
    rather than the policy nightmares and open-air corruption, is hilarious.

    Well-behaved women seldom make history.

      1. ambrit

        Divine even has the hair to match the Donalds.
        If things get too out of control, I expect Team Trump, or, better yet, a proxy, to out the Clintons. Maybe into jail, if the stories are true.
        More important than the actual seaminess of the ‘sexcapades’ alleged is the inept handling of the contretemps.
        A man, in this case, who bends over backwards, (hmmm, BDSM anybody?) to maintain public approval about his private life would tend to be pliable in the hands of skilled manipulators. So, his vacillations in the Foreign Policy sphere are more understandable, and predictable. Thus, watch who has close ‘access’ to Trump to make a ‘best guess’ on how he will act concerning current events.
        I don’t know anything about the Trump marriage, but I do have some sympathy for Melania. She is stuck in an impossible situation. Whether or not the philandering ways of her husband were ‘understood’ before the marriage was contracted, he at the least was assumed to have a ‘duty of care’ to keep evidence of said philanderings hidden. After all, she is the First Lady of the land. Her image is important; not the least part of which is her stature of gravitas. She also has her self respect to consider.
        Some will come back with the argument that other Presidents in the past have been Philanderers. Well and good, with the caveat that those past transgressors did their best to hide their shame. Kennedy reportedly had the libido of a lounge lizard. Clinton, Pere, couldn’t keep his fly zipped. Franklin Roosevelt had his secretaries ‘shoulder’ to cry on. My favourite is Harding and “Nan’s Closet.”
        So, how Team Trump handles the “Stormy Weather” situation is a big clue to the functionality of the Administration in general.

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      The $10,000 limit applies ONLY to deposits made in cash, not payments.

      $130,000 is less than the cost of Trump operating his 757 for a long day (15 hours). This is a not-consequential amount of money for him. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t jerk people around for this and lesser amount of money because he gets off on getting people upset and forcing them to grovel.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        The infamous “$10k” rule applies to filing a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) to prevent structuring. Suspicious Activity Reporting can be triggered if the transaction “(i) Involves funds derived from illegal activity or is intended or conducted to hide or disguise funds or assets derived from illegal activity; (ii) is designed, whether through structuring or other means, to evade the requirements of the BSA; (iii) has no business or apparent lawful purpose, and the loan or finance company knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining the available facts; or (iv) involves the use of the loan or finance company to facilitate criminal activity.”

        So when people start saying stuff like “funneling”, retainers paid after the fact, hush money paid AFTER a 2011 public disclosure had already been made, prenuptial agreements becoming null if certain actresses were to sit down for a deposition, preventing the testimony of witnesses within criminal or civil proceedings, “tampering”, I think “America’s mayor has gotten his client in a world of hurt.” Somebody call Rudy a good legal malpractice attorney, stat. [What? Seemed like good idea at the time to go on Hannity…oh, fudge…]

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Huh? A CTR in involves CASH only. Why are you trying to confuse readers?

          A currency transaction report (CTR) is a report that U.S. financial institutions are required to file with FinCEN for each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer, by, through, or to the financial institution which involves a transaction in currency of more than $10,000.[1][2] Used in this context, currency means the coin and/or paper money of any country that is designated as legal tender by the country of issuance

          You can make all sorts of payment over or close to $10,000 and not trigger a CTR. Only the use of domestic or foreign currency will trigger a CTR.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “The toxic legacy of Canada’s CIA brainwashing experiments: ‘They strip you of your soul’ ”

    What they did to those patients was unforgivable that. Absolutely, totally, irrevocably unforgivable. If that had been done to captured combatants during wartime, then the medical staff would be guilty of war crimes and they could easily have found themselves at the Hague facing criminal charges.

    1. UserFriendly

      My thoughts exactly…. Well my first thought was ‘is this what The House on Haunted Hill was based off of?’ But Goebbels was a close 2nd.

    2. Eclair

      Ah, Canada! Where brainwashing has a long history. From the 1870’s through the 1990’s (sic), the government, and church (one and the same?) forcibly removed the 150,000 children of the First Nations and transported them miles away to the benign-sounding ‘residential schools.’ Here they forced the children into stiff European-style clothing, cut off the long hair of the boys, beat them for speaking in their native languages, Christianized them, taught them a ‘useful’ trade and generally made their lives miserable. Of course, they did it without electro-shock therapy or LSD, but they were working with more pliable child brains. Did I mention they beat them? Many tried to run away. When they were allowed to return to their homes, the children had been remade into the images of their conquerers, who despised them. And so, they fit into neither culture. The US did it too.

        1. anon y'mouse

          the U.S. too.

          took a class where we spoke to some “graduates”. they were quite ambivalent, because some really were orphans who may have needed to be taken in and some said “at least they taught you something you might get a job with”. oddly enough, they didn’t seem bitter but then again, they had all reached the age of elder (enlightenment), and with it got immense respect for their knowledge within their community. one woman even said her parents met at the school, and she was conceived under the fruit trees on the school grounds.

      1. Roland Chrisjohn, Ph. D.

        I wrote a book about Indian residential schooling (for the Royal Commission, which suppressed it because I called it genocide instead of “residential school syndrome”). I interviewed around 100 survivors, as well as reading 10,000 pages of testimony to complete the work. I’m pretty sure that Native children WERE, INDEED, experimented upon by CIA-sponsored researchers, possibly including the infamous Dr. Cameron (who had an affiliation with western residential schools that has also been suppressed on his official biography). Six of my informants described incidents they were subjected to (being strapped down, electro-shocked, and injected with substances that caused hallucinations, fits, and long periods of unconsciousness, reactions that all lasted well past the initial treatment), but the Commission didn’t supply me with resources to investigate further. For more than 20 years now I have continued to search for documentary evidence (much harder in Canada, since its “freedom of information” laws are nothing of the sort, and all government resources about collaboration with the CIA’s mind control programs are behind a wall of silence), and I’ve taken to asking activists at sites like this if they have any access to “destroyed” CIA archives (the Canadian archives have been shredded by the government) which might help establish a paper trail between MK-ULTRA & similar programs and Indian residential schooling in Canada.

        I’m asking once again for help.

        (p.s., for anyone interested, the book suppressed by the Royal Commission is available on my Academia and Researchgate web sites).

        1. audrey jr

          I, for one, will be looking for your paper, Mr. Chrisjohn.
          Good for you for delving into one of the most underreported travesties of our western ‘culture.’
          I was raised in the state of Arizona and immersed myself in Hopi culture. This continents’ native peoples have been and are still going through absolute hell as their cultures become more and more marginalized.
          I am most familiar with the missing and exploited first nations girls and women in Canada. The number of missing and murdered women is staggering.
          Thanks for posting here at NC today.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      For another tale of CIA shenanigans, check out the mini-series Wormwood on Netflix about the “suicide” of Frank Olsen, who allegedly “jumped” from a 13th-story hotel window.

    4. JBird

      This is one of those things that make me want to believe in Hell or at least Purgatory.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        1-ply would be more accurate wrt Donald and Rudy, but I was playing on Obama’s spin doctor BS (“No, he really wasn’t serious about a ‘Grand Bargain’, he was just playing 10-dimensional chess!”).

            1. Expat2uruguay

              Actually, I find your choice of one dimensional chess hilarious. Considering we normally play three-dimensional chess, what exactly would one dimensional chess look like?
              And then to think of these two playing it… LOL

              1. Aumua

                Every piece can move forward… or backward. Some can move more spaces than others. They’re all on the same column.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Alternative observation:
      Trump engages in misdirection to absorb media attention (here, CNN and MSNBC, froth about this), so expect some other announcement (pick a topic, say, Syria, immigration, anything) that will be watered down. The closer we get to Friday afternoons the more I look for controversial news stories.

      1. Kevin


        Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. This is a strategy Trump uses extensively.
        Keep your opponents off-balance by forcing them to “figure out what you mean or what is meant by this or that tweet or contradiction”
        While everyone is huddled up trying to decipher things, he’s on to the next dirty deed.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          1. I rather over-estimate the other team than under-estimate. The ideal is to get it exactly right, to be both precise and accurate. So, in practice, I always assume it’s more than 1 dimensional.

          2. It takes two to tango. One to misdirect, and the other to be misdirected.

  5. vlade

    “Constitutional crisis and a crash-out Brexit, which the EU might not mind, since it would mean their hands were clean.”

    I suspect this is what Labour would also like, as it would quite likely trigger early elections afterwards, which Labour would hope to win. I’m not so sure, as I saw a reference to a poll that noted that if Labour went off it’s fence on the Brexit side (i.e. unambiguously went leave, possibly even as much as explicitly saying no to SM), LibDem would make substantial gains (as in would jump to about 18% of the electorate). That would very likely keep Labour out of the government post a crash-out Brexit.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      From Labours point of view, I think its vital that any election does not occur until 2018. I think a nightmare scenario would be a Corbyn government with a small majority (realistically, there is no way he could win a strong majority looking at current figures) having a chaotic Brexit landed on his lap, with the entire media insisting its all his fault. The disaster capitalists would go all out to create as much chaos as they could.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Ah yeah sorry, not for the first time in my life I’m a year behind everyone.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        I realize it’s impossible to read minds, but from his actions, speeches, etc., do you have any idea of Corbyn’s awareness of the danger you describe and if so what he seems to be doing to deal with it?

        As a complete outsider looking in, handing a failed Brexit off to Labor and Corbyn specifically seems to be an almost perfect set up (and I’m not saying an entirely intentional one, but at leaast welcome to Tories specifically and neoliberals in general if they can’t get anything else out of Brexit) to crush Labor as a real force for change for a long long time to come.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’ve no specific insights to Corbyns thinking, but I haven’t seen much evidence that most in Labour (there are a few exceptions) have that much greater an understanding of what Brexit involves than the Tories. This is what worries me – that they don’t realise just how bad it can be and how disastrous it would be to end up holding that particular baby. I personally believe that Corbyn has made a long term mistake in being so ambivalent over Brexit – he should have gone all out to make the Tories own it.

          But you are quite right I think that there is an element of the libertarian right wing, the disaster capitalist wing – who would see an opportunity in handing over the government just as the ticking bomb is about to go off. From their point of view its win-win – they see a crunch as just another way to make money, they can do to a destroyed British economy what they did to Eastern Europe and Russia, and they can blame the lefties for it. Whats not to like?

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Thanks, PlutoniumKun, that makes sense. Corbyn’s failure to distance himself has nagged at me for months but then I assumed he had a better idea of the disaster taking shape.

            I’m sure it’s naive to say, but why in hell isn’t he reading NC. :-)

          2. vlade

            Agree. Moreover, I think that in yesterday’s local elections we can see that with the current Labour ambiguity, it’s upside voter potential is limited (LibDem made most gains in the local elections, while Labour made some, but Tories, after the years in govt, actually increased their chances too).

            Labour now has pretty much only two choices – aim for the UKIP voters, which Tories really are getting now, or for the LibDem, although there the gains are likely limited, as most of them already switched to Labour last time. But it can’t have both as it believe it can, I believe that yesterday showed that pretty well.

            Either move would likely mean Labour loosing part of its current voters, and I suspect that Labour would lose votes in either case. But as it is, it’s not going to get any more votes, and in the case of catastrophic Brexit (which looks likely now), being at least very-soft-brexit (staying in SM, EFTA/EEA etc.) would put Labour in much better position than it’s likely to end up with an ambiguous one, where say LibDems can attack both Tories and Labour for pushing idiotic non-solutions.

        2. John k

          Make lemon aid.
          He seems to want to spend like crazy on underfunded things like Nhs and rail, which will help the hinterlands that voted to leave and, presumably, will vote him into office. bankers will leave, good riddance, London will suffer, too bad, these Tories/ blairites voted their interests to remain but lost.
          The depression was both a disaster and an opportunity that Fdr took to turn the country’s direction away from neolib, lasted nearly half a century. Corbyn has the benefit of a parliamentary system; the pm is the gov so long as he holds party together.
          And jail some bankers, bound to increase popularity. And that’s the ticket that keeps him in power.

          1. vlade

            *sigh* Again. “spend like crazy” in a resouce constrained economy, which MUST trade, has only limited applicability. If course, even the limited would have had much better impact than the Tory austerity had, but one has to realise that “spend like crazy” is NOT a magic wand.

            Comparisong with New Deal and FDR doesn’t work, as US is as close to autarky as one gets with the notable exception of North Korea (world bank data for 2016, which does not include NK, have only four countries with less – and in all cases it’s marginally so – trade as % of GDP than US – Sudan, Brazil, Pakistan and Argentina). Even Russia, with sanctions, has almost twice (in proportion to GDP) trade than US.

            UK is constrained by sterling strenght or weakness. Massive domestic spending, unless it restricted consumer-good imports, would likely mean significant drop in sterling, unless it was offset by exports. Post-Brexit, when under crash scenario 40% of all exports can be gone overnight (and it takes a LOT of time to replace it, just ask exporters), that alone would drive sterling down, not to mention if the UK economy at the same time chased more imports. BoE could ramp up the rates, but given the large consumer debt in the UK that alone would cause a lot of problems.

            The reality is that the UK is between a rock and a hard place – because of its own doing (well, the incompetency of generation of politicians and complacency of the public), and to take it out will take time and suffering, although you possibly can trade one for the other. I do not believe the UK public has any understanding of this (a lot of this being sold easy and quick solutions by the politicians), nor any appetite – under any government.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Brexit.

    I’d be interested in knowing what those who know more than me about the British constitution (that famous constitution that nobody has ever seen) can say about the looming crisis. Unless I’m mistaken, the current situation can be summed up as follows:

    1. The Cabinet is now majority Ultra Brexiteers, who will not agree to any compromise over the Customs Union and insist on a hard Brexit, or failing that, a no-deal Brexit.

    2. Parliament (both houses) are moving to a situation where they will try to force the government to go for a softer negotiated Brexit, one which (they believe) will address the Irish border issue.

    3. The EU will not accept any significant compromise over the UK’s signed commitments on the Irish Border, and are not willing to sign off on a fairy tale ‘technology will solve this’ issue. In other words, they will not let May off the hook.

    My understanding is that Parliament cannot compel the executive to do anything – their power is restricted to dissolving the government if its lost its confidence, which is not the same as losing a procedural or legislative vote. But while many Tories might vote with others to try to force a softer Brexit or a postponement, its likely only a small handful would support a no-confidence motion. Which would mean a government which could negotiate with the EU while ignoring what Parliament tells it to do. But this of course assumes the cabinet can agree on what they want, and its not clear they can. It seems obvious that May is now convinced she must ‘move’ on the CU, etc. but she will face multiple resignations if she does so.

    From what I can see, this is entirely checkmate. If the UK cannot put forward proposals that satisfy the EU, then the talks stop dead. The only way out I could see is for May to accept hard Brexiters resignations and effectively dare the hard Brexiters to take down the government (and of course they’d need the support of the opposition to do this), while negotiating on her own authority, and reverting to Parliament with a signed deal.

    Am I missing something?

    1. Jeff

      I think you are describing a crash-out Brexit.
      The UK has initiated A50, and will crash out of the EU on March 29th 2019. The talks are on softening the crash for the UK, as EU is taking its own measures to soften that crash (eg the Dutch adding customs infra, the Irish starting to build out shipping ports & routes, businesses moving out of UK…).
      So if there are no talks, UK will crash, and most probably will take the Irish with them. At the current rate, the IR will need to start building walls & fences, relocate people, close roads… in order to have a managed external border to the EU by the crash date. You can imagine the reaction over there.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, the odds of a crash-out have risen, although I think they were already higher than most people recognized. There is no solution to Ireland that is acceptable to the Ultras, and the Ultras don’t mind a crash-out. The DUP might be willing to bring down the government, but that means a possible Corbyn win, who might go for the hated sea border. So they might take down the government, but too late for Corbyn to be installed soon enough, if Labour were to win, to do anything re the trajectory.

    2. Alex morfesis

      A British Constitution is a fairly Dicey proposition… Venn Dicey from oxbridgeland to be precise…but his book on constitutionalism via Parliament and it’s laws included the notion woman should not vote, Ireland should never be free, and minority parties are an abomination, all laws must be followed, especially bad ones and govt should be a winner take all proposition…

      This is the man who popularized that “rule of law” thingee that is usually trotted out and put on display when the crowd realizes they are bigger than the overlords…

      Well…okay…I wasn’t there and never met the man…all the above is simply the electronified remnents of the dead trees left behind with some notations of a life once lived

    3. Oregoncharles

      ” Parliament (both houses) are moving to a situation where they will try to force the government to go for a softer negotiated Brexit, one which (they believe) will address the Irish border issue.”

      The way to do that would be with a new government. You’re raising the question whether the UK really is a parliamentary government, because in one, what you describe is a contradiction. Is Parliament in charge, or not? Apparently only if they hold a vote of no confidence and force a new election in the midst.

      Isn’t there another option? The Tories can remove May and, if necessary, all her ministers. But they aren’t the whole Parliament; apparently they’ve tried that and failed?

      Of course, the US has a similar contradiction, notably when it comes to war powers.

      1. vlade

        Parliament can remove government via a vote of no confidence, or voluntary dissolution. The first is just a normal majority vote, the second requires 2/3s of the parliament to vote for it.

  7. UserFriendly

    I am sure if a teenager showed up in a classic Saint Laurent “Le Smoking,” people would go nuts too. Too dikey, even though the early adopters were rich taste-makers like Nan Kempner. As FluffytheObeseCat pointed out, “The incident was a study in simple bullying, masquerading as a virtuous political act.”

    I had two lesbian friends who both wore a tux with their dates in dresses at my prom in 2003. Nobody batted an eye. I wore a green feathery bath robe over my black suit and bright red shirt with a spiked leather collar and metal leash attached. I actually got lots of compliments, even from teachers; they all already knew me as that gothy kid with the good grades. It was a rich Connecticut suburb and before social media so no chance for the moral superiority police to catch me even though I had a few people say I looked somewhat like a stereotypical pimp.

        1. marieann

          In my town in Canada we have a window washing company called “Men in Kilts” and I do believe they wear them to work as the slogan is “no peeking”

          I think highly of Re-enactors….they are helping to keep a way of life alive…..and we may need to relearn some of their talents.

        2. Jeotsu

          One of our hobbies is medieval recreation – specifically Mongol Empire (amongst friends who focus more on european stuff).

          Back in 2012 we had a chance to go to Mongolia, and brought some photos of us in our 13th century gear: Del, Ger, etc. And the local Mongols were utterly charmed by it! All the people we talked to (both country and city) were pleased and proud to see other people recognising and appreciating their history and culture.

          Perhaps their perspective is affected by the fact that they were never conquered by the west/whites, and thus don’t have the historic baggage attached with that colonialism?

      1. roxy

        That dress is beautiful. At this time of year a local news site has photos most days from various proms around the area and the dresses are often hideous.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its bizarre to object on the basis of cultural appropriation, which is a pretty silly concept anyway.

      A friend of mine here in Ireland (Chinese born) belongs to an informal club of cheongsam enthusiasts – they dress up in them on nights out, and very beautiful they are too. Most are Chinese, some are other Asian, and a few Irish women. I don’t think it would have crossed any of their minds that it would be insulting for a European to wear them. Apart from anything else, in China in the early 20th Century they were considered very much a western influenced fashion (the originals were much baggier).

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “I don’t think it would have crossed any of their minds that it would be insulting for a European to wear them.

        The slim, body hugging cheongsam (qipao in Mandarin) is a westernized, 20th century form of a genuinely traditional dress. In all likelihood, the young male attacker didn’t bother to know the history of the garment. “Cultural appropriation” accusations are used as a dominance game gambit in venues like Twitter.

        I don’t know if many of you here realize how normalized this kind of attack has become, particularly on the west coast and among people under ~35. The guy who started this attack on a high school girl has probably succeeded at similar stunts in the past. He has undeniably watched others do so. As have the little manipulators who flocked after him.

        1. Jean

          As long as Chinese Males in the U.S. don’t wear suits and ties, an English and Western invention, I guess the cultural appropriation warriors will be correct.
          Same with the miniskirt for Chinese women in the U.S.

        2. Ook

          I’m old enough to remember being told that I ought not to be listening to that “colored music” on the radio. This attack seems somehow based on the same line of thinking, including the assumption of white culture being somehow “dominant”. The only difference here is that there’s a condescending attitude toward the so-called “subordinate” culture (which includes casually lumping together a bunch of unrelated cultures as ‘Asian’).

      2. Matt

        The only sensible definition of cultural appropriation in my mind is when you take aspects from other cultures and pretend they originate in your own. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  8. hemeantwell

    Re Outrage grows over union effort to shut down Arizona teachers strike WSWS (Randy K)

    There’s an update at WSWS, Many teachers are resisting returning to work.

    It’s astonishing to me that union leaders would pull this after seeing what happened in West Virginia. They are determined to make this a teachable moment on the reality of the supposedly sectarian “sell-out union bureaucrat” concept.

    1. Big River Bandido

      That article, taken along with this one from Popular Resistance about the brewing strike in Colorado (where Democrats have power at the state level), is quite illuminating.

      The AFT national president, Randi Weingarten, is complete tool of neoliberal Democrats, and a disgrace.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Oops, this should have gone under the update to the WSWS article posted by hemeantwell.

        Nice to see such a well proposed solution for the Wildcat Strikers: <blockquoteIt’s an attack an attack on public education. There’s no other way of looking at it. It’s all geared towards big business and privatization, so a fight back has to take place on a nation-wide level.”

        The WSWS Teacher Newsletter urges teachers to elect rank-and-file committees to take the conduct of the strike out of the hands of the AEA/AEU strikebreakers. These committees should organize votes to reject the back to work order and the insulting pay and funding proposal. They should issue an appeal to workers throughout the state to actively rally against any threats against teachers who refuse to return to work.

        At the same time, Arizona teachers should appeal to teachers in Colorado, Kentucky, the Carolinas, West Virginia, Oklahoma and throughout the US to link up and prepare a nationwide strike to fight for t

    2. Azazello

      I marched with #REDforED Tuesday night, didn’t see any outrage, just solidarity.
      I’m aware of wsws’s coverage. It’s misleading. They conflate the rank-and-file AEU, the ones who organized the walk-out, with the unions, who were caught by surprise.
      The reporter for seems to want to fit this action into some simplistic Bolshevik analysis.
      That analysis falls apart if you think about it for a moment.
      History is being made in AZ for sure, but it has nothing to do with the dialectic.

      1. Arizona Slim

        For decades, AZ has been written off as a red state, period, end of discussion. Well, not so fast, writer-offers. We aren’t as conservative as the rest of the country thinks we are.

        1. Wukchumni

          I wouldn’t say Arizonans are far right so much, but the politicians swing so hard right, they might accidentally fall down and injure themselves.

  9. UserFriendly

    Hassan Nasrallah: Israel has come into direct confrontation with Iran Vineyard of the Saker

    How convenient that this happens just before Trump pulls out of JCPOA. Iran responds and they hand Trump an excuse to invade on a silver platter.

    1. ambrit

      Anyone who thinks that they could ‘get away’ with invading Iran is delusional. Persia is nothing like Irak, or even Syria. Libya? Don’t even think about it.
      The big danger inherent in ‘invading’ Persia is its’ close proximity to the Persian Gulf oil fields. Persia could destroy the Saudi water reclamation infrastructure quickly, and really disrupt the Saudi Aramco production schedules. Then there is the Straits of Hormuz. Will America agree ahead of time to replace Japans’ oil supplies boating in from the Persian Gulf? Someone will have to. At the least there, expect the quick restart of all the atomic powered electricity generating plants on the ‘Home Islands.’
      Whoever is pushing this policy of “Persia delenda est” has not thought things through, or even, I fear, to the middle.

        1. ambrit

          You have a point. When Cheney (?) said that “…we create our own reality…” I didn’t stop to think that that is the definition of delusionality.

          1. Wukchumni

            “Whenever I hear one of these old guard leaders on the other side talking about cutting taxes, when he knows it means weakening the nation, I always think of that story about the tired old capitalist who was driving alone in his car one day, and finally, he said “James, drive over the bluff; I want to commit suicide.”

            Adlai Stevenson

  10. Patrick Donnelly


    Can we have a series of articles on how USA will survive the inevitable collapse of the $?

    It may frighten some sense into those who have been drinking American tap water?

    1. Skateman

      Why would the dollar collapse? Compared to what? The Euro? The Yuan? The Yen? Good luck with that.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        This. With FX, you don’t need to be good (sound), you just need to do better than the others competing. That can be a low bar.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Two answers:
          1. the dollar already has collapsed, if you’re counting how much actual stuff you can buy with it over time;
          2. the dollar is the “cleanest dirty shirt” for sure, in the Bizzaro-World we live in everything floats against everything else. So countries can continue to follow the brilliant strategy “Let’s make our country richer by making its citizens poorer”.

      1. apberusdisvet

        The dollar collapse thingey is an on-going argument. Basically all global fiat is worth what it is perceived to be worth. Given global debt levels, the UDS will not collapse vis a vis any other currencies since they are all aboard the same sinking ship. But with true inflation averaging 7-10% per year (compounded) for the last decade, The USD buys less and less of things that you need, vs things that you want. Food, housing, health care, and soon gasoline all through the roof. It’s called inflation; the most insidious tax of them all.

        1. bob

          What’s the difference between price increases and inflation?

          If a pharma company decides to double the cost of a drug, because they can, is that inflation?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            For a layman, when OPEC decided to hike the price of oil or impose oil embargo , because they could, in 1973 or 1972 (maybe 1974), that was, or that caused inflation.

            Or maybe the wording is, then inflation followed.

          2. John k

            Just for those that use the drug.
            Inflation is shortage of critical goods. Used to be mainly food. Modern times oil, too.

          3. Grebo

            Inflation is a continuing trend of general price increases. One off hikes or a few specific things going up do not count.

            1. bob

              3 completely different answers, and not one single way to measure “inflation” is named.

              Everyone knows…..

              1. Grebo

                Hmm. Inflation can be caused by a price hike or shortage of critical goods such as oil. Or there may be other causes.
                It can be measured by recording the prices of things over time and aggregating them somehow. How you choose to do that will depend on what story you wish to tell.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I Jing or the Book of Changes.

      The process of change is on-going.

      Will the eventual change or transformation be gradual or punctual? Will it be a long time from now?

    3. JohnnyGL

      I used to think this would be a potential issue pre-2008 (Richard Duncan’s book and all that). Watching how things unfolded proved to me that beyond a shadow of a doubt….

      1) Everyone with any substantial amount of money runs straight to USD when things get hairy

      2) Most other developed countries have built their national economic models around exporting to the US and are also necessarily deeply committed to the current financial system.

      3) MMT was way more right than I thought. If you don’t believe me….explain Japan. MMT does it in a way that makes sense. No other economic theory can come even close.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Your observation is right on, in that the dollar is essential to the current neoliberal financial system globally.

        When that is no longer the case, the dollar will be replaced with something else. Hopefully, neoliberalism is gone as well at that time.

        So, we can speak of the collapse of the dollar, or the end of the current global financial system.

        And we are likely to need a new Monetary Theory to describe the next international financial arrangement.

        1. John k

          Dollar will cease being reserve currency when individuals and nations demand something else for their savings.
          Only countries willing to accept trade deficit sufficiently large as to satisfy foreign savers demand need apply.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Trading with gold, or silver, only, the amount of global trade will be greatly reduced.

            It was done for a long time, when China traded with the Europeans, using silver. Maybe we don’t want to go back to that. Maybe we will be forced to go back to that. It won’t be zero trade, but less trade. Will it come with the end of consumerism?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Why does the quantity matter and not the price?

              We gush dollars with a face value of 1, so the price is fixed but the buying power (dollars versus goods) goes down.

              With gold the quantity is (relatively) fixed but there’s no face value, so the value can (and does) adjust to reflect the goods you can exchange for it.

              1. John k

                For gold to work for global trade it would have to rise a lot, millions per oz.
                This means the worlds energy would turn to mining gold, spending enormous amounts of manpower and energy to destroy the environment as we turn to ever lower grades of ore… Yellowstone would go quickly, Canadians have wanted to mine gold near there for years.
                Surely paper, or better yet, digits, is a better solution.
                Granted, gold bugs lust for the day when their little hoard goes 1000-bagger.

                1. Wukchumni

                  There’s another way for it to work, but the world population would have to drop to say 1900 levels, and then there’d be more than enough above ground to cover high finance, or whatever passes for it with around 1 1/2 billion of us left on this orb.

                2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Gold (or silver) or no gold, that’s for the participants to decide when the time comes for currency regime change.

                  Hopefully, as many nations as possible are included.

                  And because one government should never trust another government (why should the US government trust the Russian government, for example, speaking as a patriot, or trying to be one), some checks should be in place so no one government is forced to accept another government’s cheapened currency.

                  (People should continue to trust their government, in our case, DC, speaking against as a patriotic citizen).

                3. Andrew Dodds

                  Of course,then the problem is that someone sets up a space mining operation on a M-type asteroid containing a few million tonnes of accessible gold, prompting a price collapse…

        2. JohnnyGL

          “And we are likely to need a new Monetary Theory to describe the next international financial arrangement.” – MMT applies to any monetarily sovereign issuer, reserve currency issuer or not.

          A large country like Brazil has a large, diversified economic base and a good deal of sovereignty, their leadership just doesn’t have any interest in using it.

          Being reserve currency issuer just lets you (requires you to) run bigger CA deficits, not sure that’s better or worse for the country’s national interest. It depends on your perspective and what your priorities are.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The need to run trade or CA deficits is constant, even when priorities change, as long as you are that issuer.

            That is one issue right here – not flexible enough. Once you are riding a tiger, it’s hard to get off.

            Secondly, the need to run CA deficits begets ever increasing needs to import more and more. We are in the territory of multipliers here. And one day, we decide to make them here again, and we find out we don’t have expertise or knowledge, or it’s going to take a while to get the old ventures that we had done for so long restarted.

            Thirdly, instead of one national interest, we might have a situation where the bankers and the generals find it in their interest to be the issuer, whereas many workers do not.

            If the desired trend is for less consumption and to shop local, the world will be dependent of one reserve currency.

            The way of a new comer to challenge the existing reserve currency issuer (that is us) is to for the new rising power to earn enough reserve money itself. To do that, it means that country will have trapped itself into needing to export to us, or else, their factories will be closing. So, for a while, the current system will stand, until enough dislocations and distortions accumulate, and then, a new system is possible.

            And if we are eve again in a situation where

            1. we don’t and can’t produce certain products
            2. we have on discipline in our fiat money creation
            3. other countries are free to not take our money

            Then, other countries will dictate how much money we can create.

            Then, we will be like many other nations….not exceptional any more.

    4. a different chris

      The dollar won’t be allowed to collapse, us peons will just have less and less of them. The global elite is just as invested in dollar hegomony as their Americanish compatriots.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s likely the case that to talk about the dollar collapse is to challenge international and American (i.e. global) elite’s preference for dollar hegemony, and is thus unpatriotic.

        That is, the elite would like us to be patriotic about the current dollar hegemony.

        1. Wukchumni

          When the almighty dollar was made king of the heap in 1944, if you were to compare us to a sports team, the 1927 Yankees come to mind, but now we more look like the 2018 Cincinnati Reds with a 7 and 24 record.

          Nobody seems to care how awful our brand of play is on the field for now, but things change.

          Somehow, the reign of error will figure out a way to get rid of our ace in the hole, world reserve currency status.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I see many countries as reluctant supporters of our status, seeing our abusing that, only because they will have huge unemployment problems themselves with a sudden change.

            So, Trump is not likely to change that.

            They have either to wait for another change in the world order, likely sudden, or manage the change gradually.

            1. Wukchumni

              We’re sitting on a mixed suit non-sequential 1 of a kind 7 times, and the world knows it.

              There’s another player that wants the same advantage world reserve currency status brings, that is after taking away our manufacturing base from us, after we gave it to them.

              Perhaps something along the same lines, no?

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                The Chinese have repeatedly said they do not want the CNY to be the world’s reserve currency. They call for it to be the SDR. Clever lot.

    1. gsinbe

      Thanks, that’s a very interesting article and Camp’s always an entertaining writer.

    2. UserFriendly

      The US doesn’t really care about what countries use the dollar, especially Trump. Countries that need dollars need to have a trade surplus with us. Trump hates it when countries have a trade surplus with us.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Are there enough dollars (trillions and trillions – the Chinese alone have over $3 trillion, not all in US currency though) in the world, that if we don’t another dollar of net-global-trade-deficit, among all the nations ( between China and Syria, or Russia with Germany, etc) except the US?

        Does Japan still want to sell to America because otherwise, they would have to fire some workers? The same with China – do they have enough, but are doing to keep their factories open?

        Are there many factors and the above (the exporter’s domestic employment) is one of them?

        1. UserFriendly

          This is an overly simplistic view because it ignores dollar denominated foreign debt, but hopefully it gives you an idea of the basics.

          Our massive trade deficit creates all the excess dollars out in other countries without dramatically affecting exchange rates.
          The Eurozone countries have a net surplus, so while it may have a deficit with individual countries (especially raw material exporters like Iran with oil) allowing them to build up currency reserves and forsake the dollar, there is little risk of the Euro becoming the global reserve currency because most countries would need to buy Euro’s to have them in reserve which would spike the price of the Euro and make exports from the eurozone more expensive for other countries (something the ECB and Eurozone countries don’t want to happen).

          Even if a specific country doesn’t have a trade surplus with us they are bound to trade with other countries that do and our overall deficit ensures dollars are not in short supply so they would rarely need to buy them outright and mess with exchange rates.

          So for countries to get dollars they just need to export something to anywhere. Euro’s (or the Yuan) would be harder to come by if the whole world tried this.

          1. zagonostra

            I’m not sure I understand UserFriendly’s reply. Does the U.S.- or rather those who control and run this country’s international affairs -have an interest in keeping the Petrodollar from being diluted.

            Below is from Michael Hudson:

            “After the U.S. quadrupled its grain export prices shortly after the 1971 gold suspension, the oil-exporting countries quadrupled their oil prices. I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.”


            1. UserFriendly

              In 1971 we had a trade surplus. Nixon was probably more concerned about maintaining US dominance in the immediate wake of breaking the gold standard. And it did indeed create lots of inflation, though that was more to do with low oil supply (Yom Kippur war and Iranian revolution) than choice of currency but it factored in.

              1. Wukchumni

                Charles de Gaulle amongst others, was making quite the effort to exchange paper dollars for all that glitters @ $35 an ounce in the late 60’s, and perhaps the cupboard was looking a bit on the bare side in 1971, when Tricky Dick pulled the plug on the gold window?

            2. JohnnyGL

              It’s very difficult for oil exporters to find places to easily park hundreds of billions is financial markets other than those as broad and deep as the USA’s.

              Most other countries don’t want the capital inflows and would struggle to make use of it. EU and Japan DEFINITELY don’t want it. It would kill their competitiveness by pushing up their currencies.

              USD as reserve currency is here to stay for now.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                – Those hundreds of billions to be placed. But where? Not a lot of choices.

                – Excess consumerism in parallel with global trade.

                – Jobs disappearing in the brave home of the global reserve currency issuer.

                All these are distortions and dislocations with the current system we have that we don’t have to accept.

                We can imagine a different world, where there is not as much trade (not zero trade), and no government of the working people, for the working people and by the working people desires to be the global currency issuer.

                Then, maybe, we go back to gold, because no government (of any kind) trusts another (thieving) government…government to government, that is. People can (and should, when justified) trust their government.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Eurozone countries have a net surplus, so while it may have a deficit with individual countries (especially raw material exporters like Iran with oil) allowing them to build up currency reserves and forsake the dollar, there is little risk of the Euro becoming the global reserve currency because most countries would need to buy Euro’s to have them in reserve which would spike the price of the Euro and make exports from the eurozone more expensive for other countries (something the ECB and Eurozone countries don’t want to happen).

            Why do they want to do that (the bolded parts)?

            I suggest that one of the factors is they want to keep their factories open, and not necessarily that they need more dollars.

            Maybe they need more dollars. But one of the reasons could still be that they want to keep exporting, in order to keep their factories open.

            That is, keeping the factories open is one of many reasons.

            Why would that be simplistic?

            Then this:

            Even if a specific country doesn’t have a trade surplus with us they are bound to trade with other countries that do and our overall deficit ensures dollars are not in short supply so they would rarely need to buy them outright and mess with exchange rates.

            This time, the bolded section here relates to the question I ask at the very first sentence.

            We agree basically that being a global reserve currency issuer, you need to run trade deficits in order to put your money into circulation.

            The next question we might as, which was asked in the first sentence, is this – how do we know have put enough dollars into circulation for the purpose of facilitating international commerce and global finance (including dollar denominated debt)?

            Can we run a small net global trade surplus for, say, one year, without the world coming to an end (assuming Chinese factory closings do not cause that)? I mean a few countries have so much US money than what they can do with it (they might want to be a company the US government won’t allow, but they put it in government bonds).

            1. UserFriendly

              Yes, a high Euro means less exports and closed factories. Plus large exports lets Germany run their budget surpluses they love so much.

              Can we run a small net global trade surplus for, say, one year, without the world coming to an end (assuming Chinese factory closings do not cause that)? I mean a few countries have so much US money than what they can do with it (they might want to be a company the US government won’t allow, but they put it in government bonds).

              Probably. There is so much excess USD/bonds out there that we could get away with a surplus for a while but eventually other countries would need more USD liquidity which = stronger dollar = less exports = trade deficit.

          3. John k

            …without dramatically increasing rates…
            Trade deficit countries normally have falling exchange rates. US does not because others either demand (desire to save), or accept, dollar financial assets, whether in exchange for toys from China or oil from saudi.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              One way to fewer-Chinese-toys is finding an alternative to the imperative that we (or the next global currency issuer or issues) run trade deficits.

              Thinking less trade, and one can imagine a return to gold or silver, doing away with any global reserve currency.

              There could be other possible arrangements as well.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  It’s hard for the working people of any nation to want to be the issuer of the global reserve currency.

                  Maybe the financiers an the generals are for it.

                  The inherent feature of necessary trade deficits is embedded in that choice. But people don’t have to accept that. That means, people don’t have to accept their nation must be the global reserve currency issuer. They can think over and decide for themselves.

                  Among the options, gold and silver will always be considered. One thing for sure, with either, there will be less trade…fewer toys to move around the world, among other things.

              1. John k

                There’s no imperative.
                It’s just people and Nation savers demanding or accepting dollar financial assets. This demand drives the price of dollars high enough that our consumers prefer the resulting cheap stuff others make to the pricier stuff we make.
                Tariffs are a blunt tool to reduce or eliminate the trade deficit.
                They are deflationary, foreign savers have to drop their prices to absorb the tax while still attracting us consumers.
                We can tax all Chinese imports, but this just pushes production to lower cost countries, which is already happening as China runs out of labor.
                Possible emerging mfg skills shortage in us, but no need for unemployment. We have massive and growing infra needs.

    3. Eustache De Saint Pierre

      Good concise joining the dots article which fits in well with that of the Saker.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      And just in case anyone is not persuaded, there’s this:

      Tehran has been ordered by a US court to pay more than $6 billion to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite the fact that most of the plane hijackers were Saudi nationals, and no direct link was ever found to Iran.

      Still delivering after all these years.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Next headline to come-

        ‘Tehran has been ordered by a US court to pay more than $6 billion to victims of the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack, despite the fact that all of the plane’s pilots were Japanese nationals, and no direct link was ever found to Iran.

        1. Andrew Dodds

          Washington has been ordered by an Iranian court to pay $60 billion to Iran to compensate victims of the Shah after the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup..

          (nb: fake news)

  11. Carla

    Re: Hicks for Congress — “I normally do not promote candidates for specific races, but this guy gets kudos for having a fundraiser where the cheapest tickets are $25.”

    Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, running for the Dem nomination for Governor of Ohio, just had a fundraiser in Cleveland with $25 tix.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Kucinich’s lawyer threatened us with a lawsuit. It was totally over the top and the lawyer wasn’t even apologetic. He is on my permanent shit list. I don’t want to put more good energy after bad by giving details. I would appreciate you not promoting Kucinich on this site, ever.

  12. Alex morfesis

    Independent or unaccountable ? Is there some mystery, signed in invisible ink portions of the US Constitution or some piece of legislation which creates this mythical capacity of the Justice Department to “proclaim” it’s self serving independence ?

    And this notion the 10 year directorships are for the
    benefit of who ?

    This end of Byzantium noise probably needs to go away…independence when a bureaucracy “insists” upon it is without a doubt unaccountability… The US Attorney in each District is technically a political appointment…

    Oh who am I kidding… No one reads anymore… And those of us who over read are perhaps hiding behind our glasses…buried in minutea to avoid, as President greatspeach described, the discomfort of thought…

    Nixon was going to get impeached no matter what he did…the noise leading up to it was simply to foam the runway to create acceptance by the general public…the Republicans won’t impeach Trump and the Democrats won’t either as the economy took a massive hit from all the wasted time and energy during the Nixon impeachment…

    Unless Trump wants the Mueller krewe to help him avoid getting anything done…

    I wooduh but that there guy ya no ??

    Otherwise time to fire everyone until you get to the one who will Bork Mueller

  13. Jim Haygood

    Asking obnoxious questions can get you banned — Tesla conference call:

    Q – Joseph Spak: Thank you. The first question is related to the Model 3 reservations, and I was just wondering if you gave us a gauge as maybe some of the impact that the news has had. Like, of the reservations that have actually opened and made available to configure, can you let us know like what percentage have actually taken the step to configure?

    A – Elon Musk: We’re going to go to YouTube. Sorry. These questions are so dry. They’re killing me.

    Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from …

    TSLA is down 7.7% in pre-opening trade, as non-believers drily sell their lottery tickets. :-(

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Fool me once, shame on you.

      Fool me twice…

      First – the bankruptcy joke.

      Now – the ‘They’re killing me’ claim…

      Are they or are they not killing you? Should you report it to law enforcement?

    2. Tertium Squid

      Musk then took several questions in a row about plans for a self-driving car network and other long-term projects from the host of a YouTube channel focused on investing, praising the questions as not boring.

      I’m the same way. It’s way more fun to think about new projects than to make existing ones work.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I was going to suggest a 2-week vacation on a 5-star resort on Mars for our stressed out billionaire.

        But our technology wizards are not that capable yet. We are still waiting for the really smart ones to be born.

  14. disc_writes

    About Renzi’s antics: the fact that he is getting louder now indicates that his party, the PD, is about to cave in and be part of a government, one way or another. He just wants to be able to claim that he did everything possible to prevent this.

    International observers should understand that:

    – Renzi has led his party to a disgraceful defeat, losing whole areas that have been solidly left-wing for the past 120 years.
    – He has alienated the German-speaking minority in South Tyrol.
    – His control on the party was never firm, and is decreasing by the day.
    – Renzi probably wants a new left-right government, excluding M5S, but his track record is so bad, that I doubt his party will go along with the plan.
    – He cannot really call for new elections: almost all right-wing and M5S MPs are newcomers. If the Parliament is dissolved now, the newcomers will not get any state pension for their short service. It will be hard for him to negotiate a coalition with a party whose junior cadres he just destroyed.

    Renzi will either be outvoted, or the PD will split in two. The coming government, of whatever color, will be short-lived.

    Having said that, it is nice of the FT to report on the incomprehensibly complex and utterly illogical politics of Italy, and it is nice of NC to link to the FT. But it is also completely useless.

    It does not matter who is in charge in Italy. The main task of an Italian government is to do what is decided in Brussels, Frankfurt or Washington. The country has no independent economic policy, monetary policy, foreign policy, military policy, industrial policy, immigration policy, trade policy.

    It is not even active in co-formulating Europe-wide or NATO-wide policies. It just waits for others to decide.

    1. DJG

      –Renzi, to explain him to a U.S. readership, has turned into Hillary of Italia. That is the best description. First, he was going to be the disruptor. Then he made a mess. Now he is in a tizzy over being criticized. I await the book tour. Meanwhile, Renzi spends time undermining Martina–who is a renziano.
      –The PD already split. LeU is the result.
      –As I asked the other day, where are the women in the PD leadership?
      –Luigi di Maio is a complete neophyte. Yet Salvini and Renzi are making him look like a statesman. This would be hard to do, but throughout the world, we are seeing this phenomenon.
      –Salvini has overplayed his hand: The Lega may be doing great in Verona, but that’s like saying that the Republicans do well in Texas.
      –I’m not sure that I would phrase it as lack of independent policy. Italy has, unfortunately, traded independence of action for a certain kind of stability. The lira was a weak currency, for instance, but it served Italy well–yet the elites of Italy wanted a certain kind of stability from the euro. Which hasn’t worked out well. And that doesn’t mean that I want a resurrection of Mario Monti and his kid Luigi Zingales.

      And I am still proposing that Lo Stato Sociale form the government.

      1. disc_writes

        – I do not know about the Renzi = Hillary comparison. Things just work differently in Italy. And he is pro-Russia, like all Italian politicians.

        – Women are one problem of the PD: Maria-Elena Boschi, for example. The Left used to boast strong, clear-headed, combative women. Now courtesans is all there is.

        – LeU was just a ploy by certain PD figures to get votes from the left-wing flanks, who now are essentially not represented by any party. It was a complete failure. LeU is plagued by D’Alema, a creature known to destroy everything it touches.

        – I left Italy before Lo Stato Sociale became popular. I have never listened to them. And frankly, I find the name offputting. Self-professed left-wing groups are often just hypocrites.

        – About Di Maio, I do not know. I left Italy before M5S was founded, and I still understand the party very little. I know Di Maio toured Washington and London before the elections to talk to the Deep State and Big Finance, so I would not underestimate him: whatever his policies, they are not his own.

        My family has been left-wing for generations: my great-great-grandfather was a socialist in the 1890s. These feel like the last days of the PD. And frankly, I hope it finally disappears.

    2. Altandmain

      Renzi is a neoliberal puppet. That much is obvious and neoliberalism is the reason why Italy is in this political mess to begin with.

      I think that the Renzi and Clinton comparison has some interesting parallels. Both have managed to through their dishonesty and neoliberalism alienate the left of both their nations, which traditionally voted for them. Both have a disgusting and entitled attitude.

      They both set the stage for political neophytes to take over, in the rather dramatic case of Hillary Clinton’s campaigning incompetence, Trump.

      1. disc_writes

        Maybe. But I do not see :

        – the Italian political system creates neither real winners nor real losers. So Renzi is not a sore loser the same way that Hillary is in the US. And while he is not a very astute politician, he understands the political reality of the country better than the Hillary campaign ever did.

        – Italian political figures mostly get recycled over and over, changing camps, switching sides, starting projects, disappearing only to be back with another flag, in another role, year after year, decade after decade, until they are old enough that public television starts calling them “statesmen”, and no one really knows what they stand for anymore. Renzi is probably one of those figures.

        Instead, I see little chance of Hillary reappearing as a candidate. Or at least I hope she never reappears.

        – M5S is indeed a reaction to the moral ambiguity of the PD-Berlusconi axis the same way Trump is a reaction to the Obama years. But while Hillary was going to be more of the same, Renzi was a promise of a fresh start, someone new and young who was going to change people’s perception of the establishment.

        The US Democratic establishment did not understand how dissatisfied people really were with identity politics, empty promises and hypocritical posturing, and assumed that doubling down was the road to success.

        But the Italian PD understood only too well that their time was up and something had to change if the party was to survive. Renzi was the answer. Things have not worked out that well so far, but at least they tried.

        – I do not consider Renzi a neoliberal puppet. He is just like other Italian politicians, amoral, power-hungry, plotting, with an instinct to conserve the political class against the outside world, and a narcissistic personality.

        Presiding over Europe’s largest public debt, any Italian Prime Minister is bound to do what creditors ask of him. And right now, those creditors are neoliberal. If Italy were to enter China’s sphere of influence, he would do what the Chinese tell him, without flinching.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    First, it was mistaking a turtle for a gun.

    Now this;

    Some genetic tests apparently can’t tell if you’re dog or human Furutism (David L) Even funnier: A Home DNA Test Kit For Humans Found This Golden Retriever Would Make a Great Cyclist Science Alert

    So, a dog and a turtle trekking down the street near a school could become a man with a gun…and the question is whether the cops will come to the rescue.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A turtle with a cell phone – Maybe I am imaging but that sounds like something a Hollywood scriptwriter could easily put in a film for the bad guys to use.

  16. Craig H.

    > Most “High Performers” Are Just Better Parasites

    This is not the best usage of the English language. People who exploit powerless laborers are not accurately described as parasites. The accurate word is predator. Being scammed and being coerced are two different things.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Depends on context, no? When a sftw. program writes out data, the data is called, “output,” but when another program reads that exact same data, the data is called, “input.”

      These High Performers are parasites relative to the system they cannibalize but predators relative to the people who get devoured in the process.

    2. blennylips

      So, it should be: Most “High Performers” Are Just Better Predator?

      Murphry’s Law still holds: Surely you meant the plural.

      In mumbling to myself about this I did stumble on this excellent explanation of Predator vs. Parasite vs. Parasitoid
      Nice summary chart:

      Like parasites, predators are organisms that acquire energy by taking that energy from other organisms. Therefore, we have a relationship that positively affects one organism (the predator) and negatively affects the other organism (the prey). Predators have these important characteristics:

      Parasitic castrator got my attention…

  17. fresno dan

    Research published Tuesday in the British journal The Lancet Psychiatry found that after two sessions of psychotherapy with the party drug, officially known as MDMA (ecstasy), a majority of 26 combat veterans and first responders with chronic PTSD who had not been helped by traditional methods saw dramatic decreases in symptoms.
    The improvements were so dramatic that 68 percent of the patients no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD.
    Who is behind these studies?
    Not big pharma. The research is organized by a small nonprofit called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or M.A.P.S., which was created in 1986 shortly after MDMA was outlawed.

    “No one else would touch this, so we had to do it,” said the founder of M.A.P.S., Rick Doblin, who has a doctorate in public policy from Harvard and has made legalizing MDMA his life’s work.
    Who is behind these studies?
    Not big pharma.

    As Gomer Pyle would say, “surprise, surprise”

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The therapeutic value of psychedelics was well established by research done in the 50s and 60s by researchers like Drs. Sidney Cohen and Betty Eisner. Bill W, founder of AA, was one of the subjects and an advocate for LSD as a treatment for alcoholics. Cohen’s book, The Beyond Within: The LSD Story, also covered psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline (peyote cactus), LSA (morning glories) and MJ. Eisner asked that mourners and friends contribute upon her death to the Hefftner (not Hefner) Institute in Santa Fe, another organization focused on psychedelic research.

      I don’t believe that the molecules for any of these substances can be patented, hence the lack of interest among Big Pharma folks and the lack of political support for removing them from Schedule I to expand current research opportunities.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Also, our overlords are deeply alarmed by introspection, drug-enhanced or otherwise. They believed in the mid-Sixties when LSD was banned that their rule was imperiled by free thinkers who were calling b.s. on the establishment and everything it stood for.

        Bread, circuses, Facebook, sports, war — anything to keep the populace immersed in the eternal present, where everything is as it must be, and always has been.

        1. blennylips

          Exactly, NComrade Haygood!

          To paraphrase Blaise Pascal:

          “All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is knowing how to prevent anyone from sitting quietly in a room”

      2. UserFriendly

        Who is behind these studies?
        Not big pharma.

        Just the Mercer’s, even better!

        The most recommended hallucinogen for addiction relief is ibogaine; works for alcohol, opiates too. Careful though, it’s the combo of hallucinating with an MAOI that does it. MAOI’s interact with lots of things so do your research first. Having done multiple LSA extractions I can say that it is nearly impossible to do enough to trip on. An acid trip feels more synthetic than shrooms, but the difference is so subtle most people wouldn’t notice.

        MDMA does lots of bad things to your serotonin neurons unless you take multiple precautions (5-HTP, Vitamin C, and lots of water before during and after; no SSRI’s for at least a week before and taking an SSRI 4-6 hours after you take MDMA helps). Even after all that many people report experiencing a deep low 1-3 days after because of low serotonin activity. Many people report a ‘loss of joy’ after using MDMA too many times, which basically means you fried your serotonin so much that MDMA no longer works for you; depression is very common with these people.

        In my humble opinion MDMA is a hell of a lot of fun but is the street drug most likely to cause damage after relatively few uses. I’d put Meth in this category too because of its neurotoxicity, but it takes more uses before damage occurs. Heroin, Coke, ect are relatively benign until you start to use them regularly. I would even say Ketamine is good for you as long as you aren’t taking any benzo’s and don’t do it more than once a week. Easily the best thing you can do for depression.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Australia’s Commonwealth Bank lost data of 20m accounts”

    So I log onto an old Commonwealth account that I keep as a spare backup bank account when I get the following message-

    ‘We take your privacy seriously.
    Following recent media reports detailing an event in May 2016, we want to reassure you there is no evidence of your information being compromised and you do not need to take any action.
    You can find out more at

    The page linked to is a standard PR effort but no, it is not assuring to this customer. So I go back and do what I logged on for and that is to download the latest statement so that if this bank ever does a TSB, I will have my own records that I can show the bank in case of any disputes.

    1. CaptainPoptart

      Can’t say enough about the need to have your own records in a post TSB world. However even in the best of worlds you might need copies of years of statements for SS/Medicaid applications or other reasons. Assuming your bank IT department has its act in gear, the bank will charge you through the nose to supply those copies. Always download paper copies of all statements. Fool me once…

  19. Sid Finster

    Re: The Intercept.

    For years, I have said that the Constitution is a dead letter. All that is necessary is to say the magic words “national security” and presto! The Bill of Rights vanishes.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You could always sell off the US Constitution. The advert could say something along the lines that it is an item of historical interest and that the owners have no further use for the same. Auction it off at Sothby’s for those billionaires that want to hang it as a curiosity in their living room or, if no offer, then flog it off on eBay or maybe even through Amazon. Laminate it as a feature on a coffee table even. If this sounds snarky, at least the US has its constitution. Last I heard, the UK has Australias and won’t give it to us.

  20. Gary

    Thank you for the goose picture. Those are typically referred to as African Geese, but they probably did originate in China. They are quieter than the white Chinese. The white ones never shut up. Geese are very intelligent and brave, unlike chickens that are little more than walking plants. I used to incubate my goose eggs. A flock of geese will readily adopt new goslings. I kept the hatchlings contained for a couple of weeks until they were large enough to join the flock. When you first introduce the goslings to the flock, the adults all run over and immediately encircle the young ones and begin teaching them the language of the flock. You can not introduce a well grown goose to a foreign flock. They will shun it and turn away from it, no matter how much it wants to belong. As geese forage, one will always keep their head up and watch for danger. One particularly intelligent gander leader would decide he was tired of watching and he would gasp like some danger was approaching. One or more of the other geese would look up to see what was happening and he would immediately put his head down and start eating grass. Only his wife never fell for that trick. Geese like most birds mate for life.

    1. bob

      “The white ones never shut up.”

      You’re not kidding. Loud Honk. They have the extra honker for more power. If you have a problem with your neighbors, get some of the Chinese Geese. They’re also very territorial.

      1. bob

        Noisy geese

        Their secret weapon is their neck. They coil it up, making you think you’re far enough away from them, then they snap their head out at you.

        Youtube labels the grey and the white ones as Chinese. I’ve heard they’re a cross between a goose and a swan. Loud and mean, not a good combo. Whoever crossed them didn’t like their neighbors.

    2. mle detroit

      Love this; thanks! BTW, the second eaglet hatched at 4am, should be visible later today.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I didn’t know that the National Arb was such a rough neighborhood. Because Mr. President and The First Lady are keeping those kids in hiding.

        [At 10 am MST in Tucson, all I’m seeing are two adult birds on hyper-alert status.]

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      You are unfair to chickens! I am told they make nice pets. My sister in law had some for a while (not as pets, for eggs, but they eventually all became prey to hawks and foxes) and she thought their antics were funny.

  21. Sid Finster

    Re: Russia Today – Russia performs precisely the same role in the United States today that Emmanuel Goldstein performed in #1984, except that the Establishment didn’t have to invent the existence of Russia.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Oh, wait a minute. That reminds me of something.

      I need to build my Russian vocabulary for exchanging greetings. Because I’m stuck on the formal and informal versions of “hello.”

    2. Doug Hillman

      It’s time to resurrect the Orwellian* Prize for Ministry of Truth doublespeak.

      — To the Democratic Party for publicly acknowledging it fixes elections while it files a civil suit without evidence against Russia for interfering in US elections. Presumably Russia breaks what the DNC fixes by leaking evidence of crimes by the pre-anointed nominee. Should at least win most comedic irony award

      — To the Pulitzer Prize for top journalism awards to WAPO and NYT for relentlessly flogging fact-free Russiagate agitprop.

      — To the igNobel Committee for shortlisting Donald the Escalator Trump for Peace Prize, after awarding Barry the Butcher Obama the prize for escalating preexisting wars and starting two new ones during his regime.

      — To Fibber Netanyahu for his “Iran Lied” UN speech using old evidence.

      Other worthy nominees: Comey, Clinton, Mueller, UK, Pelosi, Hoyer…

      * Distinct from the Orwell Prize for notable political lit.

  22. Sid Finster

    Re: “Cultural Appropriation” and similar thoughtcrimes – As a member of the Honky-American Community, I don’t get butthurt every time I see a non-American wearing blue jeans.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Well, comrades, stocks have taken ill this morning, to the point that the notorious Feb 8th “line in the sand” low of 2,581 on the S&P 500 index is but 15 points down from here.

    A result most desired by the Orange Charlatan — namely, a big drop in the trade deficit — came true this morning as it dropped to $49 billion from nearly $58 billion last month.

    When vendors stop shipping cheap stuff in return for intangible keystroke money, the economy starts making that “giant sucking sound” that ol’ Ross Perot used to invoke.

    Evidence is accumulating that Republican flake-o-nomics killed Bubble III on Jan 26, 2018. If the Feb 8th “line in the sand” low of 2,581 breaks, prosperity will evaporate before our very eyes as worry turns to panic and pensions start smacking the wall with sickening thuds in the night.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      When vendors stop shipping cheap stuff in return for intangible keystroke money, the economy starts making that “giant sucking sound” that ol’ Ross Perot used to invoke.

      Patience. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas will arrive soon enough. I remember vividly walking (being dragged) into a knickknack store and being confronted by a 20 foot tall inflatable Santa and matching Rudolph a few years back, wondering what the Chinese factory workers that made them thought of us. Turned to my wife and said, “I betcha the Chinese built a city just to make these damnable things.”

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Israel’s Juvenile Ground Army”

    I can see that the longer the Israeli army operates, the more dangerous that it is for this army and this article explains their performance against Hezbollah back in ’06. I have no idea what would happen if they went up against the new, battle-hardened Hezbollah as they return from Syria. The trouble is that the mission of the Israeli army has been warped into forever policing, bullying and standing over Palestinians civilians instead of war-fighting training. The lack of regular NCOs shocks me as I have always thought of them as the glue that holds any army together but it is after all their army. In line with the descriptions of indiscriminate firing at ordinary people going about their business, it reminded me of a story that I read today and I offer it without any comment-

    1. Jim Haygood

      No need for comment when the text speaks for itself:

      There are approximately 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel. They are the survivors and their descendants of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

      Unlike Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, they hold Israeli citizenship and a right to vote, but nonetheless live under dozens of laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.

      Israel operates a separate and unequal school system for Jewish and Arab students.

      Under ol’ Jim Crow [Abdul Crow in the Israeli context, if you will], a kindly teacher asked us to take good care of our aging textbooks. “Think of the little colored kids who will get them after we’re done with them,” she urged.

      Ethnic supremacy — it’s all strangely familiar.

      1. ambrit

        In the glorious future, I remotely view that it will be “Crow T. Robot.” The more things change….
        Carbon based lifeform supremacy. It’s what will be for breakfast, and you will like it!

    2. Grebo

      My recollection is that the Israeli failure in 2006 was due to Hezbollah figuring out how to take out Israeli tanks. Merkavas were thought to be clever for putting the engine in front to soak up more frontal punishment, so leaving room for six panzer grenadiers to ride in the back.
      Hezbollah just waited till they went past then put an RPG through the back doors.
      They had no manpads though, so the Israeli airforce was able to bomb the crap out of Lebanon and call it a draw.
      I believe manpads are on Hezbollah’s Christmas list.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that there was a very telling incident that happened in that war that explains a lot. An Israeli special forces soldier with full gear on was in the lead of his troop at night as they were going through a Lebanese village, when rounding a corner, he was confronted with a special forces soldier dressed just like him. He realized that he was actually facing a Hezbollah special forces soldier but it was like looking at a mirror.
        The Hezbollah reacted first and threw a grenade which the Israeli knocked back and ran for it. I do not know if there were any casualties by either side but I found this a very telling incident. The Israelis were now facing a professional force.
        I found it also very interesting that the Hezbollah force that ground the Israeli invasion down was not actually the best that Hezbollah had but forces that you could describe as second-stringers. Of course the lessons that Hezbollah have learnt in Syria make them now a fully professional force to be reckoned with which would make the Israelis wary of invading Lebanon a sixth time.

  25. marym

    Michigan Medicaid work requirements

    Because although HB 897 threatens to end Medicaid benefits for hundreds of thousands living elsewhere in the state, it includes exemptions for people who live in counties with an unemployment rate of more than 8.5%…

    [Detroit’]’s unemployment rate is higher than 8.5%, but the unemployment rate in surrounding Wayne County is just 5.5% — meaning Detroiters living in poverty, with a dysfunctional transit system that makes it harder to reach good-paying jobs, won’t qualify for that exemption. The same is true in Flint and the state’s other struggling cities.

    Get that? Rural residents of up-north counties with high unemployment are protected; urban Michiganders who live in high-unemployment cities in more prosperous counties are left to twist.

    This is what’s called “political cover.” It’s also one of the ways legislators skillfully pit urban and rural Michiganders with common interests against each other.

    “urban” and “rural”

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Grand Rapids* hates Detroit. Always has, it seems.

      *meaning East Grand Rapids + Ada + Hope and Calvin campuses + Expats in Holland

  26. AdamCoppola

    RE: hominin head scratcher

    “We are compelled to say there has always been a State, quite perfect, quite complete. The more discoveries archaeologists make, the more empires they uncover. The hypothesis of the Urstaat seems to be verified: “The State clearly dates back to the most remote ages of humanity.””
    -Deleuze & Guattari, A thousand Plateaus, p360.

    Suppression of the history of global connectedness (e.g. columbus stealing the glory of north atlantic beaver pelt trade) enables a modern myth of globalization as a byproduct of progress. Evidence of a hominin hunter does not equate to discovery of a State, but suggests a motion not yet classified among the Great Migrations of history. The idea that historic hominin motion comes in the form of mass migrations similarly takes autonomy from pre-historic individuals and supports modern economic myths. Evidence of individual motion comes as a surprise and forces us to either expand the reach of intelligent history or rethink the uniqueness of our situation.

  27. perpetualWAR

    To all those “nonprofits” claiming to be concerned about affordable housing and asking. Amazon to pay up:
    I call bullsh**. You see, during my legislative battle to halt unlawful foreclosure in WA State, I implored most of the nonprofits listed within that article to help me lobby. Not one of those organizations would step up. So, what happened? Thousands of families and people were unlawfully thrown to the streets with manufactured documents. And rents rose. A lot.

    Now, these same organizations are worried that Seattle is unaffordable? Where was the worry prior to this massive displacement of homeowners? It was nowhere as these nonprofits only worry about their funding and getting their name in the papers.

  28. Summer

    Re: Teenager’s prom dress

    I think it’s a beautiful style. I probably would have chosen that Chinese style for my prom…had I been presented with the option.

  29. Jim Haygood

    Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator continues the flat line it’s been stuck in since March 1st. Chart:

    Helping the indicator was the 4-week average of initial unemployment claims. It dropped to 221,500 — the lowest level since March 3, 1973.

    On the down side, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort fell to 56.5 from its peak of 58.1 two weeks ago. Meanwhile, industrial materials prices are off 1.3% from their recent peak on March 15th.

    The holding pattern will continue until morale improves … unless something perfectly awful happens. :-0

  30. Jim Haygood

    Argentine central bank governor Federico Sturzenegger tries the Paul Volcker “Saturday night special” strategy:

    Argentina hiked interest rates for the second time in less than a week to stem the peso’s sharp decline. Today the central bank raised its key interest rate to 33.25 percent. The peso has fallen more than 5 percent since Friday, when the bank raised borrowing costs by the same amount at a surprise meeting.

    The peso has now slumped almost 14 percent this year against the dollar and looks set to fall further to keep pace with consumer prices still stuck far above the official 15 percent target.

    Inflation in Argentina is running above 25 percent. That 15 percent is considered an acceptable target shows how badly a century of runaway inflation, in which the country lopped thirteen (13) zeroes off its currency, has warped thinking.

    Letting childlike Argentines play with sovereign currency is like turning loose 8-year-old boys into the playground with live hand grenades. In both cases, the victims are gonna blow themselves up. :-(

  31. cm

    Hillary Clinton states

    “It’s hard to know, but I mean if you’re in the Iowa caucuses and 41 percent of Democrats are socialists or self-described socialists, and I’m asked ‘Are you a capitalist?’ and I say, ‘Yes, but with appropriate regulation and appropriate accountability.’ You know, that probably gets lost in the ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a capitalist!’ ”

    Any idea where in the world the insane 41% number would have come from, or is this simple delusion and/or lying?

    1. ambrit

      I suspect that Hilz took the remainder of the total after subtracting the 59% of registered Democrats who are drugs addicts or alcoholics. (Cognitive dissonance can be ‘spun’ to be a byproduct of compulsive addictive ideation.)

    2. ewmayer

      Well, it would explain why she lost so much of the Midwest to well-known anti-capitalist crusader Trump, no?

  32. expat

    Re: North Korea and Iran
    I don’t see how Trump can achieve anything with North Korea. He will ask for complete denuclearization and demilitarization of NK. He will demand regime change, free and fair elections, and opening of the market to American corporations and finance. Probably will ask NK to pay for the costs of de-mining the border. NK is likely willing to stop testing nukes but not give up the ones it has. It won’t give anything else until the US withdraws the threat on its border.
    Meanwhile, Iran is abiding by the terms of its nuclear treaty and being punished for it because Israel is a racist, violent nation hell-bent on destroying Iran. So Bibi keeps whispering in America’s ear about how evil muslims are and how Iran must be destroyed. Iran has not been invaded by the US only because it has nukes…or might.
    And now NK is watching this farce and wondering why it would ever agree to a deal with the US when the US rarely respects treaties or international law. NK was almost destroyed by US aggression after WWII and then faced a fascist dictatorship to the south run by war criminals who collaborated with the Japanese. The war was started by US provocation despite the American propaganda which claims NK started it.
    If I were North Korean, I would build as many nukes as I could and put them on missiles that could hit the US. It is the only way to peace for them.
    Republicans have already nominated The Donald for a Nobel Prize for all this. Sounds premature, but Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for being the first US president elected after GW Bush…or perhaps for being the first black president, which is probably a valid reason.

    Disclaimer: I do not support the evil regime which kidnaps, tortures and murders civilians as well as running a giant slave-labor prison system. I also don’t support North Korea.

  33. John k

    I wonder about real things… are the people doing poorly? High incidence of poverty? Eating regularly? Schools providing good ed?
    Consider Greece… drachma used to have high inflation. Same as Italy. Both doing worse after losing their sovereign currency, Greece far worse. let the sucker devaluate!

  34. Oregoncharles

    ” a crash-out Brexit, which the EU might not mind, since it would mean their hands were clean.”
    Ireland would mind, as that would mean either a hard border or (even more likely) chaos. And the EU would mind a smuggler’s freeway in Ireland. That, incidentally, would mean a (partial) customs border in the Irish Sea – between the Republic and the EU.

    Some of this may explain inexplicable patience from the EU.

  35. Oregoncharles

    “Guiliani did manage to say some sensible things on Fox, like pointing out that Mueller looked to be trying to engage in entrapment. But again, why telegraph your strategy?”

    To speculate: because the battle is political, not legal. Giuliani would be very familiar with the difference.

    1. Expat

      Rudy is highly over-rated intellectually (I get this from a colleague of his from years back when he was DA). He has political aspirations which have repeatedly failed and sees Trump as a chance to make the big leagues. I think he chatted with Donald and then passed his message on as Donald wanted. Trump doesn’t understand reality so this new line seems reasonable to him. Rudy will be crushed and tossed aside…another in a long line of immoral lackey’s that Trump uses and disposes of.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It would be one great contribution by Trump, voluntary or otherwise, to reveal publicly how power is projected here in the American homeland.

        And Giuliani may have a part to play in it.

  36. GlobalMisanthrope

    RE Galbraith’s piece in the Baffler

    Whenever I hear the argument that a job guarantee will drain private sector employees, I think two things. First, that businesses that do not pay a living wage are simply not viable businesses and will adapt or die, as it should be. Second, and this appears to be universally overlooked in the conversation, that low-wage workers can’t afford the break in income entailed in changing jobs.

    Changing jobs always entails a pay gap, usually a couple of weeks for hourly workers. Low-wage workers pay as much as half of their wages (more in some markets) to keep a roof over their heads, the lights on and water coming out of the tap. But let me leave the abstractions behind. The math is better at showing what I’m talking about.

    If I’m an experienced line cook at an upscale eatery in Austin, Texas, I’m going to make around $15 an hour, about $510 take-home per week. That works out to about $2200 per month.

    Say I live somewhat centrally. My monthly housing outlay is going to be between 1/3 and 1/2 that amount. Let’s split the difference and say it’s $900.

    That leaves a whopping $1300 per month for food/household, gasoline, auto upkeep, auto insurance, health insurance, shoes/clothing, entertainment. In order to afford 2 weeks without pay, I also have to manage to save $1000. You get the picture.

    This is just one of many cases where those theorizing about the outcomes of policy that affects working people don’t really understand what their ideas mean on the ground. But in this case, the pay-gap reality offers a potent refutation of one of their main “concerns.”

    Spread the word!

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Let’s split the difference and say it’s $900.

      If you can find a place to rent “centrally located” in Austin for $900, send me the address. The lowest rent in South Austin I’ve seen for a decent apartment is at least $800; most are higher. And all the “centrally located” projects are high-priced luxury apartments or condos.

      I’m not taking issue with your overall premise, but people who don’t pay rent have a hard time getting their heads around just how hard it is to keep a roof over your head if you make less than $60K a year.

  37. Oregoncharles

    “Teenager’s Prom Dress Stirs Furor in U.S. — but Not in China”

    It’s also an example of just how stupid (to say nothing of racist) the “cultural appropriation” meme is. I really can’t believe it’s a thing. Using it as a bullying strategy is true to its nature.

  38. ewmayer

    Re. Tech giants hit by NSA spying slam encryption backdoors | ZDNet — LOL, all these mass privacy-invading BigDataCorps whining about the NSA. Lemme guess: “Unlike the NSA, we steal your data and track you *legally* … see, it’s right there on p317, para 4 sub-clause {a.2} of the latest TOS you ‘agreed to’.”

  39. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Governments are not like households. Forbes.

    From the article:

    A responsible, stable government that issues its own currency is nothing like a household. Trying to manage it like one merely impoverishes its population.

    Is it necessary to include ‘responsible, stable?’

    Can an irresponsible government be not like a household as well?

    Does a responsible government allow robots to take over human jobs?

    Do we always have stable governments around the world?

    Does, for example, an unstable Chinese government (hypothetically speaking) endanger all of us?

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, since they have nukes.

      The same applies to, say, Israel – or the US.

  40. JBird

    Hominin Head-Scratcher: Who Butchered This Rhino 709,000 Years Ago?

    I think this is overblown. While it would be great to know who exactly did that rhino, tool use goes back at least 3.3 mya, fire use maybe over 2 mya, our direct ancestral species Homo erectus lived all over Eurasia in many different climates, but somehow the consensus view is that H. erectus lacked the cognitive ability to make even the simplest boat or raft to get to the Philippines. I am thinking the scientific consensus is mistaken.

    However I ain’t a scientist, so if anyone wants to say I’m mistaken please do. Anthropology is a fascinating subject to me.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I agree that anthropology is fascinating, and I’m also an amateur (college major). The surprise over this reflects the quirks of fossil preservation. For instance, wood is rarely preserved. Boats are made of wood – or skins, even less preserved. So there’s an illusion that early people didn’t make boats, or at least rafts.

      This find proves that, yes, Homo erectus did, in fact, make and use boats.

      Boats can solve another mystery: the initial settlement of the New World. It’s quit elikely that people didn’t wait for the glaciers to clear a way through the interior; they traveled the coast. One evidence for that is very early remains from Channel Islands, which have never been connected to the continent, let alone 10.,000 years.

      And it’s noteworthy that the Northwest Coast Indians, living on precisely the route early Native Americans would have followed, were Viking-level boat builders, raiders, and explorers.

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