Links 7/26/18

Oregon woman finds cougar in living room, says telepathy helped her get it out OregonLive

1 Hen, 76 Ducklings: What’s the Deal With This Picture? New York Times (Glenn F)

Business students more likely to have a brain parasite spread by cats New Scientist

Water on Mars! Really for Real This Time (Probably) The Planetary Society

Methane Deathtrap Threatens Democracy Counterpunch

The Challenge of ‘Chronic Lyme’ New York Review of Books

IBM Watson Reportedly Recommended Cancer Treatments That Were ‘Unsafe and Incorrect’ Gizmodo


Beijing police identify suspect in US embassy blast South China Morning Post

US airlines change Taiwan reference on websites ahead of Chinese deadline Reuters

‘A huge win’: New Zealand brings in paid domestic violence leave in world first Guardian (Shane)

EU court damns Polish legal system Politico


Brussels bullies can’t stop Britain accessing Galileo ‘secret data’ (we already have it) Express

Brexit: an irresponsible use of power Richard North. On the BBC’s misreporting of the aviation mess. Quite a takedown.

L’Europe doit éviter un Brexit dur Bruegel. Google Translate version. Astonishingly out of touch with the political realities


Pakistan election in disarray as incumbent rejects result Guardian

New Cold War

Pompeo spars with senators at testy hearing The Hill

Imperial Collapse Watch

The World According to Ben Rhodes: Hypocrisy in Obama’s Foreign Policy Consortiumnews

Watchdog finds $15.5 billion “wasted” on 11-year presence in Afghanistan Axios

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Chrome Extensions, Android and iOS Apps Caught Collecting Browsing Data Bleeping Computer

Facebook plunges more than 24 percent on revenue miss and projected slowdown CNBC

Facebook’s Stock In Free Fall Because Everyone Already Uses It Gizmodo (Kevin W)

How Facebook’s $151 Billion Rout Could Rewrite the History Books Bloomberg

Apple just took a shot at Facebook’s web-tracking empire The Verge

Tariff Tantrum

Trump-Juncker meeting: US and EU strike deal to avoid trade war Independent (Kevin W)

From Politico’s European newsletter:

Bottom line: To get what he wanted, Juncker promised Trump things that have already happened. Expect some noise from France (on agricultural products) and Germany (on gas), and perhaps some murmurings about the fact that Trump didn’t unconditionally surrender, but chalk this one up as a Juncker victory.

Europe to Become ‘Massive’ Buyer of U.S. LNG, Trump Says Bloomberg

Trump Transition

Ryan Zinke’s War on the Interior Rolling Stone (John C)

Trump Expected to Roll Back California’s Clean Air Plan Real News Network

Sean Spicer Returns to Washington With a New Memoir Atlantic

National Enquirer’s Yearslong Dealings With Trump Lawyer Fall Under Federal Scrutiny Wall Street Journal

GOP lawmakers introduce articles of impeachment against Rosenstein The Hill. Note Trey Gowdy making clear he does not support them.

Whistleblower provides emails that show Stormy Daniels’ arrest was pre-planned Fayette Advocate

White House May Have Broken Federal Law by Doctoring Trump-Putin Video Law & Crime (Dr. Kevin)

Majority of Democrats Want Candidates to Be More Like Bernie Sanders, Poll Finds Newsweek

Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Money Bail Intercept

Ocasio-Cortez campaign ad creators release powerful new video for another socialist candidate (UserFriendy) See below:

Time to break up Google and Facebook, says New York attorney general candidate Washington Post

2020 Democrats Band Together to Call for Puerto Rico Debt Cancellation Intercept (UserFriendly)

Fake News

If you thought fake news was a problem, wait for ‘deepfakes’ Financial Times. FWIW, the Google engineer (a guy with heavy academic chops) who sat next to me on my flight back from Seattle was tasked to this issue at YouTube

Erasing Flint’s Water Crisis: Or How to Lie With Statistics Counterpunch

Class Warfare

San Francisco looks to ban free lunch at tech companies CBS (Kevin W)

Jeff Bezos’ Paper Tells You Not to Worry About Those Billionaires FAIR (UserFriendly)

There’s an Entire Instagram Account Devoted to Destroying Rideshare Scooters Vice. I was so annoyed I missed my chance to wreck on in San Francisco. I was going to a pharmacy on Market Street near my hotel and saw one abandoned. I planned in my mind how to step on it on the way back so as to damage its back wheel without damaging me. But it was gone when I returned. So I don’t have fast enough reflexes to be a good vigilante.

No, Amazon Cannot Replace Libraries Vice. Forbes was shamed into taking down its article.

Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce Bloomberg (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour. From crittermom:

This is a neighbor’s dog, named Twitter.
Somehow, the name ‘Yoda’ always comes to my mind…

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. ACF

    The corporate tax receipts near a 75 year low caught my eye in part because the actual 75 year low was either at the end of Bush or beginning of Obama. Was that the result of the Bush tax cuts, and was the rebound the allowing part of them to expire?

      1. JohnnyGL

        That’s right. The prior dip in early 2000s is the Bush tax cuts and 1-time corporate repatriation from overseas.

        1. ACF

          What accounts for the spike up to 3% before the recession? It seems once the Regan tax cuts happened the rate oscillated slightly around 2%, where as the decade before him it was normal to be 3% and the one before that normal to be 4%

          1. paulmeli

            What accounts for the spike up to 3% before the recession?

            Between 2003 and 2007 credit expansion was near the level of Federal Spending. Pretty much unprecedented. We should expect higher tax revenues with that much spending.

            Trouble is, that kind of expansion was/is unsustainable, we all have a credit ceiling. The collapse of that expansion was the cause of the Great Recession.

            Since then credit expansion has been limited to less than half of Federal Spending.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Yves and BB.

      That’s an interesting take from Bruegel.

      Exactly a fortnight ago, Nicolas Veron, and some EU27 diplomats, addressed a City audience over lunch. Veron, but also the diplomats, thought that the UK can’t afford a hard Brexit and will settle for Norway or Norway Plus. It’s just a matter of when and can be as late as the return from the Christmas holidays. They thought that this was always going to be the case, especially now that May has managed to divide the Brexiteers. It was interesting to hear that although Barnier was negotiating with the UK, the real action was felt to be in the Tory Party and will remain so. May is expected to hang on until 2022, but not lead the Tories into a new campaign. Rees-Mogg is considered an annoyance. Corbyn is considered an irrelevance. None excluded an extension of A50, but thought it unlikely. EU27 unity was holding up better than expected. None expected a breaking of ranks or UK attempts to talk over Barnier to succeed. They also thought a transition period of 5 – 15 years, perhaps renewed every 5 years, was a possibility and something EU legal eagles were considering. The Commission has a dozen staff working on a hard Brexit, but is starting to put more on stand by.

      Last Saturday, at a reception to celebrate the national day of one of the EU’s member states, the same diplomats were in attendance and reiterated their position.

      I will send a long read out soon.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m looking forward to your longer version, sounds like it was interesting.

        I must say I’m surprised though if they are talking about Norway Plus or 5 year transitions – for all sorts of reasons discussed here before, I really doubt they’d ever get on the table, or get unanimity from the EU27.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, PK.

          I was surprised, too. There may be some grumbling, but there was consensus that the EU27 would acquiesce. All thought the EU had bigger problems than Brexit, e.g. migration, the Euro and trade wars.

          None expects the Eurozone to be reformed. Being away from home, the EU27 attendees could talk out of turn and express what they really feel, especially the Italians and Germans. They expect the Euro to blow up, but could not say what would be the fuse, Italy’s death spiral, Trump led trade wars or the replay of 2008. The timescale suggested was 5 – 10 years as there was enough juice left to keep the rotten edifice going. The City attendees agreed. Not even a hard Brexit would be the fuse.

          Veron calls it Fake Brexit or never ending Brexit.

          There have been some really good discussions in the City this month, the long road to Brexit (and Trump, M5S and the Lega) and what do about it, Italy’s prospects and a history of Barclays since Big Bang (with a descendant of Mr Barclay). Corbyn would be pleasantly surprised.

          1. Oregoncharles

            @Colonel Smithers, re “surprised:” there is always stuff going on behind the scenes that we aren’t supposed to know about. That’s why they hate Wikileaks so much.

            This does sound a lot like my notion, just on general principles, that business interests would ultimately prevail. Chaos isn’t good for business.

            I still don’t see a real solution to the Irish border, though. The Bruegel article doesn’t address it. There may be a lot of extend and pretend on that one.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t see how this works. The EU would want the UK to continue to pay into the EU budget, which is never never gonna fly in the UK.

          And to get Norway, the UK has to join the EEA, and quite a few commentors have said the three original EEA members probably won’t accept the UK, that the UK would push them around and the UK’s interests and priorities are different from theirs.

          In other words, this strikes me as wishful thinking. There’s no consensus in Parliament for any particular form of Brexit, and I don’t see that changing fast enough, if at all. And the EU means it that they are prepared to stomach a crash out.

          Remember this was a City event and the City (and the Government still) have been pushing for equivalence when the EU rejected it over a year ago.

          Who were the diplomats? There are a handful of countries (Poland, Denmark) that favor a more pro-UK position, but they don’t have the votes to change things. The FT too often has taken to running hopeful stories about Brexit based on comments from them and they’ve proven to be consistently wrong.

          1. Mirdif

            The issue is there is now a hardcore in the country that is baying for a crash out as they don’t think it will amount to much. May cannot ignore this constituency as they have already begun expressing support for UKIP again.

            It’s also why Corbyn is muddying the waters so he can appear as a hardcore brexiteer to his northern heartlands who primarily voted for brexit. The Tories can deliver a crash out and then blame May for being useless, and the evidence is already there: Windrush and Grenfell. Failure to deliver a crash out will likely consign the Tories to opposition for a very long time.

            May is reliant on events (…dear boy events) that happen prior to the crash out such that she can go down the EFTA/EEA route as a significant majority turn against brexit. I fear these events are not going to manifest until post the crash out, especially in light of Colonel Smithers’ statement about how people are going about everything as normal in the city. The kind of event I’m thinking about is a crash in the pound or Nissan announcing the closure of Sunderland.

            I think the former more likely as we get close to the cliff edge but it might not happen until the days after. The latter is very unlikely as I think a lot of the foreign owned companies will pursue the UK under ISDS mechanism post a crash out.

          2. Richard Kline

            I am in complete agreement here, Yves. One should note the ‘plus’ in Norway Plus; it’s simply a synonym for Bespoke Minus.

            Simply the fact that semi-informed/semi-random suits in the City think the EEA is a door in a blank wall indicates how little they understand what the European Economic Area actually is, who its members are, and how they function. The relationship of the very small states in this accord and the EU is HIGHLY symbiotic. The EEA states adopt absolutely everything that the EU decides; they can’t even opt out like some EU Member States. They never rock the boat. They never raise exceptions, other than those already negotiated prior to membership. They are highly aligned with European institutions. They have no say; they toe the line. The ECJ decides if they have done so. The EEA States cannot remotely afford to have a crew of self-dealing boat rocking malcontents outnumbering them 10-to-1 climb on board because that would completely ruin their own deal. The EEA has already politely said that they are not available in marriage.

            I get that Home Labour and Soft Brexit types have, for years, harbored a longing to go back to EEA status where they could boss others and threaten to ‘make trouble’ if the EU won’t concede the cherry pies the longers think they merit. But the reality is that the UK is a bad fit for the remaining membership of the EEA and are constitutionally incapable of accepting the role of the Member States of that organization. The attitude seems to be that no negotiation with the existing States is even necessary; just a wink and a not from Bruxelles, the Brits throw their wallet on the EEA table, and say “We’re buying now that we’ve joined your shabby little shop, must spruce up the place.” What could be more arrogant than that, the semi-assumption that the existing states don’t even really have a vote.

            Britain has sabotaged every international alternative to the EU it has ever created or joined. Britain created the EEA and its predecessor—only to bolt it for a better deal of full EU membership. The EU may have had to put up with Britain as black sheep relations, but its simply self-defeating for the EEA states to take in the wastrel. It’s not happening on ultra-short notice, and the odds that it would happen at all even with a realistic timeframe are extremely small.

            This is just delusion-lite in Britain. It is the path that, on the surface, ‘makes the most sense,’ and so insiders have, with a simulacra of realism, handicapped it as the most likely outcome. Until you look at the mechanics. Then, it’s the liberal equivalent in coveralls of Theresa May’s dumpy Brexit in bunting. And yes, I agree with the presenters that I expect an eleventh hour UK ‘offer’ to accept a Norway Plus status, that is a realistic call. And I expect the EU to decline—and the EEA to take to their collective heels.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Richard, you expressed that beautifully, its spot on I think. Whatever the past history of the EEA/EFTA, it currently exists for the sole purpose of allowing small, prosperous friendly nations on the edge of Europe to be members of the EU while pretending they are not. The EU tolerate this precisely because they are small (internationally irrelevant) friendly and prosperous nations so there is no price to be paid for allowing this pretence. They only real grit in the relationships are in peripheral areas like fishing, and this is usually dealt with by way of throwing some cash at the problem.

              The notion that the UK could barge in to this cosy relationship with nothing actually changing is cloud cuckoo land thinking and I’m quite amazed that senior diplomats are encouraging this (unless of course there is something brewing in the background that most of us aren’t aware of). I suspect there isn’t, because surely all parties would be making a better job of greasing the runway if this is the long term solution everyone is working towards.

              The only explanation I can think of for this approach is that everyone is relying on a crisis, some sort of crunch, where May and the EU can legitimately say ‘oh, this is an emergency, we all need to work together and *yabba yabba*’ and so shoehorn the UK into a Norway style arrangement. The EU has in the past quite explicitly seen crises as necessary opportunities for radical change (not least in the Euro design). But there are so many legal obstacles to this its a very risky approach if that is what they are thinking – any number of actors in the UK or the EU or the EEA could sabotage it by just sticking in their heels.

              1. Clive

                A very important observation. We’d be just as much a pain in the ass in the EEA as we were in the EU. There’s a philosophical divide between what some (let’s call it the 52% for the sake of argument) in the U.K. believe is an appropriate relationship between Europeans and what the EU27 believes.

                Tinkering around at the edges and faffing around with sticking an “EEA” moniker on it all won’t fix this.

      2. Christopher Dale Rogers


        Good of you to give us an brief over view of your attendance of a gathering with a few senior EU bods and City audience.

        I’m none too sure what KoolAid Mr Veron is sipping though, perhaps the Brussels variety, but if he and EU diplomatic peers consider Corbyn a bit of a minor distraction, I’m at a loss then why we have the full weight of the MSM, UK Establishment and Israeli Lobby baying for Corbyn’s blood – not withstanding the fact, and despite all Antisemitism smears the Labour party is holding firm at 40% in the Polls.

        I’ve run these figures via one of JC’s most intimate aids and from our side of the equation its May who is now vulnerable, particularly given the Tory vote has been cleaving away to UKIP, which like a Zombie has appeared to have bounced back from death.

        Again, its said a week is a long time in politics, in the Uk that seems to be 24hrs is a longtime in politics, and that’s before we consider a full retreat on Brexit, which may upset a few of the locals, never mind our gutless Brexit fanatics on the Tory benches.

        For this observer, I’ve always preferred a return to EFTA, which obviously is your Norway model, be it on steroids or krypton, which the Labour party would have a easier task selling, rather than Ms May.

        Let us be blunt though, Ms may has taken over all EU negotiations from Raab and is a most incompetent of Minsters if the mess she left behind at the Home Office is anything to go by – so, unless she’s found an elixir that helps her connect with people, I don’t think she’s up to the task – indeed, our papers today are full of stories about emergency provisions being stockpiled in case on a no deal Brexit.

        Maybe its wishful thinking by your City chums, maybe its wishful thinking by a Euro Elite, but the UK garden is looking mighty sparse and the population is getting rather naffed off at any sign of progress.

        Anyhow, look forward to a more in-depth analysis from you, but things do seem most unsettled in the UK presently with the Antisemitism hysteria acting as a smoke screen to the many pressing issues facing the the Tories as they jet off into the sunshine for their Summer hols – I expect some plotting and news from Farage, who may yet once more decide to take the helm of UKIp to cause as much disruption as possible. And that’s without a potential Labour party split and the IHRA maniacs continue ridiculous assaults on Corbyn before the NEC elections and forth coming Party Conference.

        Interesting times as they say, but bloody hardworking countering untruths and outright lies from many quarters as a PLP showdown with Corbyn and the NEC becomes a stark reality – the PLP will lose that one that’s for sure.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Just because the UK elite is incompetent doesn’t mean that the EU is competent. True, the EU has done the very reverse of gut its civil service, and true, the May government has set a very high baseline for cluelessness and fantasy, but groupthink and delusion can exist in large institutions as well as gutted ones.

          1. Christopher Dale Rogers


            The way I read CS’s input about EU diplomat’s and Mr Veron’s opinion just did not chime with the reality on the ground in the UK. Indeed, our Elite seems akin to the New democrat Party of Ms Clinton, in denial that their policies have caused a backlash – that Corby’s core vote now seems solid at 40% is a positive, particularly given in any actual GE cycle the Media are forced to exhibit some kind of partiality, rather than the extreme bias now on display – they ain’t got nothing left to hurl at Corbyn after this IHRA nonsense has blown over, and many will have lots of egg on face.

          2. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

            Elite incompetence in the UK (who really is the elite?):

            As with the US it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell who is in charge. The “City” elite have shown themselve to be on top of their game for a long time. They occasionally drop the ball, and with the Tories they must be experiencing more than a little buyer’s remorse. Someone long ago called the Tories ‘the stupid party’ and a recent Bagehot column (14th July) in the Economist implies that they have grown into the role. That the City would not have noticed this beggars belief.

            From my point of view what the Tories and any party neeeds is a rigorous canditate selection procedure. Identify what the current fracture points are (eg Europe) and keep out anybody who could destroy the brand. Beyond selection it needs to be policed with vigilance in the manner of the Soviet Union (pehaps without the midnight knock on the door, show trials, the gulag and liquidations).

            Is there any kind of such policing in US political parties or can you just say “well, my papa is a Tea Party Republican”, and you are forever in?


          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Clive, who has to deal with the Eurocrats as part of his day job, says they are stellar. That does not mean that they have correct priorities, but the marching orders from the EU political leadership are that the UK can pound sand, that they choose to divorce the EU and the EU needs to prioritize the EU as an institution over minimizing economic costs. Their view is the UK has chosen to self harm and harm the EU too and there isn’t much they can or want to do about it.

            Also see this critical point from Richard Kline yesterday. We’ve made it too but not this crisply:

            It is not simply that the EU has ‘no incentive’ to cut a bespoke deal with the UK, it’s that is a practical impossibility for it to do so. The principle of treaty convergence, both internally operative and externally operative, has ever been “One deal for all, one deal with all.” The EU has granted exceptions on specific issues over time at opt-in for Member States, but only out of necessity. These have been actively harmful for the functioning of common institutions, which everyone understands, the largest of the many flaws in the European Project to date. Negotiating a bespoke deal now at the unilateral demand of the UK is a massive incentive for other Member States to extort or to continue with their own exceptions, a severe blow at the viability of common institutional functioning in a way that, say, a bankruptcy by a member state would never be. The UK gaining any special treatment is a massive incentive for other non-EU states to extort broad, bilateral concessions from the EU rather than a “Column A, Column B, or Column C with us all” approach. Why wouldn’t the USA demand massive concessions from the EU if little, non-essential Britain were to rip off major ones now while giving nothing except a few billion one-off quid?

            It is politically impossible for the EC negotiating arms to concede an extraordinary status to the UK. Not ‘they won’t’ but ‘they can’t.’ And supposing that they did, I guarantee that several EU Member States would veto any such accord. The UK has never seemed to grasp the impossibility of the EU conceding Britain’s desiderata. The entire UK position that any of this was ever ‘negotiable’ has been an enormous falsehood of self-love. This is what the EU negotiators have stated politely or less so in diplospeak, but that the inflamed loons on the Tory bargaining unit have been incapable of understanding at best—or intent on using to force a no-deal in some individual cases at work. Corbyn and his crew don’t get this either, that some EEA plan they seem to think would be better is achievable . . . when it isn’t and it’s not.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          My assumption is that the view that Corbyn is no longer a threat is based on what seems evidence that he has hit something of a ceiling in the polls. The reality is that at this stage of the election cycle, with an economy stalling and a government in obvious chaos, is that Labour should be doing better in the polls.

          If I was a Conservative strategist my view would be that the relentless personal attacks on Corbyn are the best way to ensure he can’t move above his core Labour vote, which is enough to prevent the Tories winning another election, but is also a guarantee that Corbyn can’t become a majority prime minister, and that if he is PM in a minority government, he is ‘controllable’ (from their perspective). I don’t believe the establishment fears a Corbyn government, they fear a Corbyn government with a clear Commons majority. The former is a strong possibility in an election in the next 6-24 months, the latter seems highly unlikely right now, even with a worsening economy. You are much closer to the ground that I am, but from my perspective the evidence points to an anti-Tory vote getting spread out multiple ways (including to UKIP or other far right groups), not to Corbyn.

          1. vlade

            Absolutely agree, on all points. Corbyn has, IMO painted himself into a corner – less so than Tories, but still quite a bit. He’s ignored Brexit way too much, and it’s just not possible – it will have too much of an impact on anything that can be done.

            Say there’s a crash-out, and there’s a new election and Corbyn is elected. The expectation would be likely that he “fixes” the crash out – but again, that’s so vague a goal, meaning different things to different people, that it’s likely impossible. Not to mention that the economy may keep tanking, job losses building etc. – the momentum is hard to stop. And so any expectations will be pretty much impossible to fulfill, in the same way that Tories are finding the Brexit ones are. I suspect Brexit breaks both major UK parties – it can happen even with the FPTP, but when it does there, it’s much bigger boom, unfortunately.

      3. ChrisPacific

        How closely have they been following UK domestic politics on Brexit? My overall impression of your review is that they are assuming a level of rationality on the UK side that doesn’t really exist. Nobody (except maybe the Ultras) wants no deal Brexit, but it’s the default position unless a politically acceptable alternative can be found, and that’s looking less and less likely by the day. Whether the decision calculus will change once it’s very late in the game and it’s clear that the choice is between the EU offer or no deal, I’m not sure. But if May was even considering that as a possibility then I’d expect to see her laying some groundwork for it now. Instead she is doubling down and making new statements that will be difficult and politically costly to walk back if it ever comes to that. At this point I don’t think she could abandon the red lines and take the EU option without admitting that everything she’s said and done to date was one long, costly error, and I suspect most politicians would let the world burn before they would take that option.

  2. fresno dan

    Millennials now comprise almost a quarter of the population and are the largest generation participating in the workforce. But their median salaries are lower than the prior generation of 30-year-olds, and the financial burdens they carry are heavier, limiting how much their lifestyle can mirror that of their parents
    One of the things I have read is that a lot of Trump voters themselves were not that economically distressed. I wonder how many parents voted for Trump cause they had been around long enough not to buy that “more education and training is the solution.”

    1. Cat Afficionado

      Another “funny” thing I routinely read is, “Republicans are DOOMED. Millennials will soon be the majority voting bloc and they are all super woke!” Well, as has always been the case, eventually people enter their 30’s and start paying taxes. I am already seeing it in my younger sisters-in-law. One of them, a hardcore Democrat (if you can really claim to be hardcore-anything, politically, in your 20’s) finished her law degree and started looking at her paystub. “My god, I think I am turning into a Republican!”

      Prognostications about the future always seem to rely on current trends holding.

      1. CanCyn

        I blame the ‘rah, rah, individualism’ culture that reigns in North America, esp the USA. I got mine, that’s all that matters right? /sarc
        And let us not forget the abiding belief in the American dream. We all just gotta work harder, hustle more, gig between gigs, right? I think it was George Carlin or perhaps Bill Hicks who said, “Anyone who still believes in the American dream is asleep.”
        Perhaps the fact that they’re not becoming wealthier and more comfortable will mean that the Millenials really are woke and will seek and make changes. Let’s make that the new American Dream!

      2. Grant

        Well, a bit anecdotal. I mean, some highly educated people (the types that finish law school in their 20’s) are always going to complain about taxes, but given current trends and absent of any radical changes, those people will be far outnumbered by those whose wages are endlessly losing ground to the rising costs of housing, education, healthcare, not to mention dealing with massive private debt, a huge infrastructure gap and an environmental crisis in scale that will be far greater than anything our species has ever dealt with. People in their 20’s are going to deal with an environmental crisis of unprecedented scale in their lifetimes, complaining about paying 10% more in taxes is going to be nothing in comparison to that. I also think that when it comes to her paycheck, unless she is extremely rich, the right wing is certainly not going to be much of a refuge. I mean, the federal government has cut back aid and support to state and local governments, and local and state governments are responding to this situation by putting in place a number of regressive taxes, like sales taxes. In my home state, Illinois, a flat income tax is actually in the state constitution. Beyond all of that, it seems that the modern right’s entire existence is to allow large corporations and the rich to create costs, which they then externalize onto other people, governments, businesses, society at large, the environment and future generations. I, personally, don’t mind paying taxes in general, but towards what ends? I realize and appreciate MMT’s insights as far as taxes not being needed to pay for things, but taxes at least help to determine the amount of newly created money needed if a given amount of spending is agreed upon. The politicians have put in places lots of procedural rules to put artificial barriers on state spending, and so fighting against paying taxes often does have some impact on what the government spends on things. Given the fact that society is (pretty much literally) crumbling around us, seems that turning to the right is basically turning to people that will speed up that collapse.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I was disabused of that notion back in the 1980s. My university degree with honors didn’t save me from working a series of menial jobs, all of which sucked like 1,000 Hoovers.

      1. fresno dan

        Arizona Slim
        July 26, 2018 at 1:19 pm
        “…not to buy that “more education and training is the solution””
        that should have read: “….not to buy that “more education and training is the solution” – cause education/training is not providing higher paying jobs.

  3. fresno dan

    Antidote du jour. From crittermom:

    This is a neighbor’s dog, named Twitter.
    Somehow, the name ‘Yoda’ always comes to my mind

    my ex girlfriend had a ?miniature? Yorkshire terrier that looked just like an Ewok

    1. fresno dan

      The name of the dog was Lulu. I would always ask her (the dog, not my girlfriend) if any of her relatives were in Hollywood, but she would just give me a quizzical look. But than I realized she was too young to have seen Return of the Jedi
      If Lulu sees the movie, she might recognize a relative – she might have a big inheritance due!

  4. fresno dan

    Oregon woman finds cougar in living room, says telepathy helped her get it out OregonLive

    what do you do if your not telepathic? Will a cougar play with a laser light and follow it outside?

    1. Musicismath

      Will a cougar play with a laser light and follow it outside?

      Best metaphor for what it’s like to live in 2018 that I’ve seen so far.

    2. BUD

      Those first two links are great!

      Mama duck gonna Mama duck.
      Oregon chick gonna Oregon chick.

    3. Lambert Strether

      She also did the cat eye-blink thing*, which works with my cat. I suspect that had more to do with keeping the cougar calm than telepathy (although the “telepathy” may have helped keep the woman calm).

      NOTE * I can’t find any science on this, just cross-linked cat blogs.

      1. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        July 26, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        * It’s often been rumored that a cat’s “slow blink” is its way of saying, “I love you.”
        So my neighbor’s cat runs over EVERY morning when I am gonna water the plants and DEMANDS petting. And she likes the petting so much she grabs my hand with her teeth and claws….I’m not sure that is to hang on to my hand or she just wants to supplement her cat food….
        (the best think is not to pull away….after they get a mouthful they will usually let you go)

        1. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

          Lambert’s neighbour’s cat that demands attention (sound like a political party to me):

          Until just before Christmas there was a local stout ginger cat in Kenmore which would climb a six-foot fence to come and be petted (along with more than nibbles to my hand). Until I knew her name I called her Bitey McBiteface after the UK research vessel Boaty McBoatface.

          Vale Amber?


    4. Oregoncharles

      Based on Youtube videos, I bet it would. Even praying mantises do. That’s an excellent suggestion.

      Surprising that she got away with meeting the cat’s eyes. I thought that was an ill-advised sign of aggression, but I think she’s right that cats communicate non-aggression by blinking. Hard to believe that it went to sleep in another predator’s den. She must have been really convincing.

      There are some hardcore New Agers in Ashland, and apparently this cougar found one. I really like the natural branch staircase.

    5. jonboinAR

      Learn how to cat blink! No, really, I think I know what she means. There was this wild calico that lived out in the shop, or barn, and took care of her own business. She had kittens. They were wilder than she was. When I’d walk by they hiss threateningly. One day I was fooling around out there and came upon her. I didn’t know right away if she was defiantly holding her ground, about to dash away with a snarl, or what. But I spoke soothingly, “hi kitty” in, as the lady in the story described, kind of a high pitch. When I met her eye she squinted her face up at me. I think that’s what the lady meant by “cat blink”. They kind of scrunch their face up at you briefly. I think it means, “Hey, bro, how’s it going?” After that me and the kitty were cool.

    6. bones

      Not just telepathy. She says she called “native ancestor’s support and started drumming.” What’s that mean? I hear the drumming. Is there a native american doing it? Or is she talking about her ancestors or the cat’s?

  5. athena

    Google has a third layer of a “shadow-shadow” workforce of thousands or tens of thousands, too, working through Amazon Mechanical Turk for $2 an hour, doing gruntwork tasks like screening images for porn, altering first page results with human eyes on common searches and “improving” the algorithm results, and things like that.

    1. MaxFinger
      “But technology is also enabling a new type of terrible work, in which Americans complete mind-numbing tasks for hours on end, sometimes earning just pennies per job. And for many workers living in parts of the country where other jobs have disappeared—obviated by technology or outsourcing—this work is all that’s available for people with their qualifications.”
      Wonder why the economy is not getting any better with jobs paying a fraction of minimum wage.
      Where is the labor dept? sarc/

    2. JTMcPhee

      I’m reminded of the bit of “Catch-22” where Yossarian is assigned to censor outgoing mail from the troops to home, and he just randomly excises all adjectives, then all adverbs, then nouns, sometimes whol paragraphs, to destroy the meaning of the post. and adds his own absurd messages under the name of the squadron chaplain, T.T. Tapman.

      What do bored and oppressed workers in jobs like the ones described do, to liven up the day? I am sure there are lots of anecdotes. Is there an algo to catch their deviations from the prescribed workput, and as in “Catch-22,” burly thug enforcers to come after them with some incompetent and oppressive investigation and punishment?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Let’s see here. Dredging up the Workplace Sabotage file from the Arizona Slim collection of stories.

        Okay, here’s one. A food co-op in Pittsburgh. Where the only employee benefit was a 10% purchase discount.

        Whenever a delivery came in, we made a beeline for certain items. Big bags of granola were a special favorite. We’d grab bowls from the kitchen, fill ’em up with granola, and say, with more than a little snark in our voices, “This is my health insurance!”

        And then we’d chow down. No, we didn’t write this treat on our “to pay later” tabs.

      2. Jack Gavin

        For the past couple of years I have wondered what news reports would look/sound like if they were without adjectives. I can’t help but believe it would be a great improvement.

          1. Shane Mage

            “incredible” and “incredibly” signal that what follows is not to be believed, and therefore give excellent notice to stop reading.

  6. JJ139

    Re Trump EU talks.
    Unless the US slashes LPG prices to price match piped natural gas and agrees to correctly label GMO soybeans, neither of these triumphs claimed by Trump are going to fly in Europe.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good point that about GMO soybeans. I had wondered the same myself earlier today. That LPG deal sounds good that. Except for the part where it will take several years to build the port facilities. And the part that it will take years to build a fleet of LPG tankers to transport the gas to Europe. And also the part that there is no word on where all the money is going to come from to pay for all this. And the only countries at the moment that have LPG docking facilities are those that are not only Russophobic but want to cash in on transit fees. Did I also mention the part that the LPG dock for the US is in Louisiana? Maybe the EU should be checking the following page out when it come to reliability of delivery-

      1. Synapsid

        Rev Kev, Bill Smith,

        LNG is used in your links and is correct; it’s short for liquified natural gas and that’s the subject of the discussion you’re referring to.

        LPG is sometimes used in the industry for liquified propane and I’ve seen it used somewhere for liquified petroleum gas (don’t know if that’s an industry usage).

        LNG is a hot topic in the fuel trade right now and there are more export terminals planned or being built in the US, and in many other countries too.

      2. JTMcPhee

        As to transport, storage and transfer of LNG, on a big scale, what could possibly go wrong? Hmmm?

        But these are risks that the proponents and profiteers are willing to impose on the rest of us take.

        Of course it is now believed that thanks to lessons learned In past LNG disasters, the value chain is now perfectly almost safe and ok and everything. It says so right here:

        And besides, like the PowerPoint in the second link says, “Natural (sic) gas is a popular fuel because it is environmentally clean (sic), efficient, reliable and economical.” And has no external costs and effects worth mentioining.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      According to the WaPo it appears Juncker gave Trump a non-concesstion concesstion:

      Trump also touted an agreement by the Europeans to buy more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas. But Juncker in a speech later Wednesday indicated the gas purchases would only go forward “if the conditions were right and price is competitive.” (Anthony Gardner, a former U.S. ambassador to the E.U., said in a tweet it was “absurd” to believe liquefied gas could compete with what the continent pipes in from nearer by.) And the E.U. was already looking to import more U.S. soybeans, since China — in its own trade fight with the Trump administration — has been buying more from Brazil, driving up the price of the product there.

      I looked into the GMO issue and it seems the EU has been importing GMO soy for the last 10 years.

      1. Pookah Harvey

        According to a CNBC article:

        President Juncker believes he is here to try to calm the situation and get into a negotiating process to stave off potential U.S. tariffs on autos

        What did Juncker get?

        “While we are working on this, we will not go against the spirit of this agreement unless either party terminates the negotiation,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon in a hastily-arranged Rose Garden appearance alongside Juncker.

        That appears to mean the president is backing away from slapping a 25 percent duty on roughly $200 billion of imported autos, a step top administration officials feared he was on the verge of taking.

        Juncker’s concessions were meaningless while getting everything he came for. Ahh, the art of the deal.

  7. noonespecial

    Imperial Files addition:

    Foreign Policy Norms- Looking for an Upgrade-Your-Country Guide? Well then, the good folks at Tony Blair’s (as in ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain) brain trust may be able to help. The essay was published June 2018.

    The Blair-founded think tank’s essay is not light on its use of the term norms. If only for amusement, or perhaps bewilderment, click on the link and marvel at how the norms fairy spreads the love. By my machine’s count, the term “norms” appears 44 times. Fun, huh?

    In its defense of liberal democracies, the essay compares the norms of the west to those from the Sino-Russo hinterlands. Seems like someone did get an advanced copy of the memo that the war on terror is drawing to a close and now it’s full-speed ahead to the next act.

    A quote from the link illustrates one possible defense for those striving to uphold the liberal order:

    “[Twentieth-century] liberal internationalism was inextricably linked to progressive policy at home, such as
    the New Deal and Great Society. Twenty-first-century internationalism will require similar ambition. This
    is a long-term project of ideological and political renewal…This resilience has several dimensions:
    ideological, political, economic and military. If renewal is about basic changes to liberal democracies’
    political and economic model, resilience is about fixing the chinks in their present armour.”

    After reading this paragraph, is the reader supposed to conclude that the current challenges facing some liberal democracies can be knocked out like dimples on a bumper using technocratic hammers? Wowsers. And I find it problematic to lump the ambition (and its close cousin “aspiration”) required for 21st century internationalism together with the ambitions behind FDR’s and LBJ’s economic and social projects.

    Further along in the essay, one finds descriptions of how liberal democracies can prop up ideological, political, and economic resilience. Ironically (or not) military resilience is replaced by the compound term “renewing alliances”. Under this subheading, the Institute’s clarion call is for NATO to face a, “most basic type of authoritarian challenge: military threats from great powers seeking to carve out spheres of influence.” Whereas the first 3 resiliences are fleshed out with specific nuts-and-bolts, this last one relies on bland advice (e.g. to strengthen ties and to collaborate more).

    Talk about a let down. Why not be all you can be and emulate those who know about planning for the common defense. From “Defense Management Primer”:

    “The United States Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest business enterprise on the planet,” with a
    mission to ‘recruit, organize, equip, train, educate, exercise, retain, and maintain a Total Joint Force that is
    ready and prepared for war.’ ”

  8. emorej a hong kong

    Buried lede:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose mother was born in Puerto Rico, made debt cancellation a central plank in her campaign to defeat PROMESA supporter Rep. Joe Crowley. On the campaign trail, she frequently invoked his support of the bill.

    Buried Biblical resonance:

    could only be used once every seven years

  9. fresno dan

    File under even a nut finds a squirrel once is a while.
    DANGER, link to Maddow
    So I’m eating popcorn, drinking wine and watching the Butina follies on Maddow….cause…uh, NOT because of prurient interest….it certainly WAS NOT because I’m an old geezer trying to get pointers on picking up under 30 hotties, or where to find hot spies who would be interested in old geezers…..did not cross my mind ONCE…..
    Anyhow, at 22:00 Maddow brings up that organizations like the NRA no longer have to disclose “donors” to the IRS. So I wonder if this is true – and there are a slew of articles that confirm this policy change – whether it is connected to Butina is questionable, but another policy for obscuring of who buys our elections is indisputable.

    For every Butina story followed in depth, there are probably….?1 MILLION? more boring but more important stories out there.
    I would imagine that this does not make it permissible for foreign donors to to donate to US campaigns, but does it just make it easier to evade the rules regarding foreign donors? After all, Russia could donate to the NRA for “gun safety” but as money is fungible…..(of course….biggest beneficiary…..certain mid east country)

    1. fresno dan

      fresno dan
      July 26, 2018 at 8:22 am

      So, as I posted from Maddow, here is a porting from Hot Air, a right wing site.

      Wouldn’t a Russian agent have been more covert, many at the school now wonder, and worked to keep her Kremlin advocacy under wraps?
      Well, you’d certainly think so, but here we are. That incompetence might even work as a defense for Butina’s team. Butina was apparently so public with her sympathies that it’s impossible to think of her as being covert in any way, or so the argument will go. However, if the government has evidence of communications with Russian intel and of specific information passed along by deception, it would still make her an intelligence agent — just not a particularly competent agent.
      I guess I enjoy reading and watching the partisan left and right screwball sites because I so love watching them torture reality and what they used to believe. Here Hot Air wants to say that NRA supporting Trump Russkie will MAGA. On the other hand, there is still that, But, But, But our wonderful, wonderful, wonderful MIC says she is a SPY and we must HATE RUSSIANS!!!
      Hilarious. If only Trump instituted universal healthcare, would more rightwing or leftwing heads explode???

        1. fresno dan

          Lambert Strether
          July 26, 2018 at 4:13 pm

          HOW MANY TIMES did I say I had a picture of Putin riding a horse without a shirt on….and Putin wasn’t wearing a shirt either???

          How is it that Groucho Marx, not even a real Marxist like me, makes a fortune saying he shot an elephant in his pajamas…..

  10. coquillette

    Chronic or Late Lyme Neuroborreliosis: Analysis of Evidence Compared to Chronic or Late Neurosyphilis

    “Late Lyme neuroborreliosis is accepted by all existing guidelines in Europe, US and Canada. The terms chronic and late are synonymous and both define tertiary neurosyphilis or tertiary Lyme neuroborreliosis. The use of chronic and late Lyme neuroborreliosis as different entities is inaccurate and can be confusing.”

    Interview with Ying Zhang

    “We found that the current antibiotics for treating Lyme disease are unable to kill the more resistant persister forms of Borrelia. We identified that antibiotics like daptomycin, clofazimine, sulfa-drugs and other drug-candidates are more effective in killing these persister-forms than the current Lyme antibiotics.”

    1. JJ139

      Like all top spies, Butina communicated via Twitter.

      Wait, there’s the smoking gun to impeach Trump

  11. The Rev Kev

    “IBM Watson Reportedly Recommended Cancer Treatments That Were ‘Unsafe And Incorrect'”

    Having what amounts to a set of algorithms decide on patient’s treatment sounds like a really bad idea. Maybe the easy stuff but after that, not so good. It cannot replace a good surgeon and their judgment which takes years to develop. As an example, an experienced surgeon can examine a patient and by picking up on clues like the fact that a patient kept their right knee bent, that they weren’t moving their abdomen when breathing at all and that they had a dry tongue would diagnose a case of peritonitis even if their temperature and white count did not indicate so. Such a surgeon might exclaim to look at the patient and not the algorithm as the algorithm isn’t sick.
    Wake me when they are at the point of having an Emergency Medical Holographic program with an ethics sub-routine-

    1. pretzelattack

      fitting, watson puts patients in jeopardy. oh well, as long as it calculates how much profit can be made, everything will work out i’m sure.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Aren’t Watson’s algorithms are based on medical practice. So there is an unhappy corollary to Watson’s bad treatment recommendations. It takes more than just time and experience to develop the kind of judgment and wisdom you describe in your experienced surgeon.

      I recall a story I heard from a nurse on break when I worked as the graveyard switchboard operator at a local hospital. She told me the hospital contracted with a small team of cardiologists paid to come in to read the cardiograms in the ICU. Each morning one of the cardiologists would come in and make notes and recommendations based on what they read from the cardiograms. She told me one of the cardiologists could read a patient’s cardiogram and order up a test on the function of some organ which would confirm diagnosis of an incipient malady. She said a few of the cardiologists who came in could barely read the pulse accurately.

      Algorithm’s like Watson are supposed to mimic the performance of the exceptional surgeon and cardiologist. I’m not sure how well they do that but I also believe they can in principle approach such performance, effectively capturing and preserving the exceptional skill, judgment, even wisdom.

  12. perpetualWAR

    The Instagram account that records the dying of the Bird scooters:

    LMFAO. I love the irreverence of the American people. Mimics my anger about the visual garbage of seeing those green bikes in my former neighborhood. Yuck!

    Long live American irreverence!

    1. Jean

      A Phillips head screwdriver and a small Allen wrench are all you need to harvest lots of free bike bells and other parts from these scooters abandoned on our streets.

      Do the laws of maritime salvage apply to sidewalks?

      Wondering how hard it is to strip out the GPS and credit functions of their mother board and make yourself a nice privately reconstituted electric scooter?

    2. Richard

      Viva! It is one of our best features if I do say so myself :^ , an adaptation no doubt, to deal with the tons of advertising and paid speech we have to wade through over here.
      “Photograph me from this side only please!”

    3. Peter VE

      We have just been afflicted with those here in Providence. According to press accounts, they are programmed to avoid going up or down College Hill, where Brown University looms above the downtown. I should have thought that Ivy Leaguers would be a prime market. I expect them to soon join the collection of bicycles and shopping carts we have to pull from the rivers….
      How long can an item be left on public property before it’s considered abandoned? There are often nice bikes locked to street signs for months at a time, rusting away until the city cuts them off and passes them on to Recycle a Bike. I’m sure there will soon be a hack allowing all access to this infections.

  13. DonCoyote

    Like Ocasio-Cortez, Ing is a Justice Democrat (who was just recently on Jimmy Dore). Also, Hawaii is already solidly Blue (gov, both senators, both reps–rep for district 2 being Tulsi Gabbard who is progressive), so a (hypothetical) Ing win in the primaries isn’t part of the blue “wave” (currently rep for district 1 is running for governor so Ing is not primarying an incumbent as AOC was), but part of the (hoped-for) progressive “push” (or possibly “putsch”).

    Hawaii’s primaries are August 11th.

    1. JohnnyGL

      So, is it fair to say we need a ‘blue coup’? A ‘blue purge’? :)

      I’d be much happier with, say, 10-20 Justice Democrat types (which would help give the House Progressive Caucus a stiffer backbone), a Teachout win for NY AG (don’t forget how much damage a solid AG can do) and a centrist bloodbath in the Senate (Manchin, Menedez, Heidkamp, MacCaskill, etc)

      I suspect we’re going to see the Republican Party become a lot more Pro-Trump after 2018, also.

  14. marym

    Separated Parents Were “Totally Unaware” They Had Waived Their Right To Be Reunified With Their Children

    In affidavits filed in federal court, attorneys say parents separated from their kids at the border are telling stories of being misinformed, coerced, or tricked by immigration agents.

    The declarations from attorneys working with detained parents who were separated from their kids describe people who don’t speak English being pressured into signing documents; being forced to make a decision in a room full of dozens of people with only a few minutes to decide whether to leave their kids in the US; or incorrectly believing they were signing a form that would reunite them with their children.

    Trump campaigned on ending birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants (Link). He portrays unaccompanied minors as M-13 (Link). And yet children were taken from their parents with no plans or procedures in place to reunite them, whether the parents were deported or detained.

    So what was the actual plan for these children?

      1. marym

        Based on the statement in your link and the date on the linked pdf this means it’s not a standing policy, and it’s not a policy going forward. It’s a response to a court order.

        More: 6/22/2018 HHS creates task force to reunify migrant families

        HHS on Friday created an “unaccompanied children reunification task force,” a first step toward reunifying thousands of migrant children in the agency’s custody with their families, according to an internal document obtained by POLITICO.

        The task force was established by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response — the arm of the agency that responds to public health disasters, and an indication that the challenge of reunifying thousands of families is likely beyond the capabilities of the refugee office.

        My question is what the plan was before that, when no reunification was expected and in light other immigration policies enunciated by Trump. Is he opposed to birthright citizens but willing to let separated children become citizens? Are older immigrant children to be feared as secretly MS-13 or not? Do adopted, fostered, or permanently sheltered immigrant children grow up to “take the jobs” of the children or Trump supporters or not?

    1. todde

      Foster parents and adoption.

      Which is the same thing we’ve been doing since 2010 at least. 5,100 children of illegal immigrants were placed in foster care in 2011.

      There was a documentary on it called: “Lost in Detention”.


      5,100 kids in foster care

      The liberals I talked to about what was happening in 2012 didn’t seem to care much about it then. Luckily, the deplorables elected Trump so now we can care.

      1. Cat Afficionado

        The liberals I talked to about what was happening in 2012 didn’t seem to care much about it then. Luckily, the deplorables elected Trump so now we can care.

        Yup. HuffPo even ran an article in 2013 about the tens of thousands of families broken up under Obama. *crickets*

        What we have now is children as political theater, for the umpteenth time. I have pointed out to some of the “wokest of the woke” that the only reason they even know about any of this is because Trump was elected. If Hillary was in the white house, it would be business as usual, almost nobody outside of immigrant rights organizations would know, and any attempt to point this out would be labeled misogyny.

      2. marym

        That’s an important link and its important to shed light on issues that aren’t unique to Trump (though I don’t always do so in every comment).

        As described in the link, Obama deported parents of children already living here and born here. Where the parents didn’t have time or resources to ensure their children would be cared for, the children would have ended up in some transport/shelter/foster/adoption pipeline. That process is still happening.

        During the Obama years, parents arriving at the border with children were generally in family detention for a limited time, and then released to an alternative monitoring process during the legal process to determine their status. Trump decided not to do this. Presumably the administration attempted to use components of the existing pipeline to warehouse the children.

        We don’t know much about that pipeline – what happens, who profits – because we didn’t ask the questions during the Obama years.

        In addition, given the conflict with Trump’s supposed policies on other aspects of immigration, as stated in my response above to David, what specifically did he think would happen to the children who were separated in this situation, where reunification or attempts parent-arranged care weren’t even an option.

        I agree that not enough attention was paid either to the impact of Obama’s policies or to the protests that did occur; and that there’s denial and opportunism in some of the current protest. I also believe there can be a form of virtue-signaling in “Obama did bad stuff too” as a response to the current situation, and we should be cautious about falling into that too.

        1. Lambert Strether

          > We don’t know much about that pipeline – what happens, who profits – because we didn’t ask the questions during the Obama years.

          Ooooh, another supply chain! And this one with a “law enforcement for profit” component. Delicious, especially with the admixture of cruelty that this administration seems to bring to the table.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Business students more likely to have a brain parasite spread by cats”

    Could it be that there is a correlation between the spread of neoliberalism and the spread of Toxoplasma gondii among humans, especially business students? If so, it seems like an awful lot of revenge because someone forgot to feed “Tiddles” years ago.

    1. Lee

      I especially like your comment on the topic from yesterday.

      The Rev Kev
      July 25, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      So what this article suggest is that we are not living so much under capitalism as much as CATipalism.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’d like to take credit for that line but I can’t as I swiped it from a newspaper article. Sigh!

        1. Wukchumni

          We came home to a quite pissed off catiphate, and the back patio was strewn with beheaded smalls of every sort-gophers in particular, often festooned in what appeared to be a weak attempt @ orange jumpsuits, really more beige or even taupe, in hue.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            The parasite the cats spread modifies mouse behavior so they take more risks. Making them easier for said cats to catch and eat. So very plausible similar effect on humans – more risky behavior

    2. JTMcPhee

      Re brain parasites, I’m reminded of a minatory sci-fi story by Harry Harrison from 1962, height of the Cold War, with obvious message about the minds of our forked rulers. It was originally serialized in Analog, as I recall, under the title “Sense of Obligation,” changed to “Planet of the Damned” with garish cover to boost sales I guess. From Wiki:

      Brion Brandd lives on the planet Anvhar, which, due to an elliptical orbit, experiences a year with a long cold winter and a short hot summer, to which the population have become adapted. To avoid social problems during the winter period, Anvhar has initiated a planet-wide series of mental and physical games called the Twenties. The novel starts with Brandd winning the Twenties. As he recovers from the games, Brandd meets Ihjel, a previous winner of the Twenties, who asks him to join a mission on the desert planet of Dis. The ruling class of Dis, the magter, have threatened to transport cobalt bombs onto a neighbouring planet if they refuse to surrender. As a result, the planet is being blockaded and under threat of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Brandd travels to Dis with Ihjel and a scientist from Earth called Lea, but on arrival the trio are attacked and Ihjel is killed. After encounters with the local population and other humans, Brandd starts to put together the reason for the magter’s seemingly suicidal aggression. Brandd learns that most life on Dis survives the extremes of the planet by using symbiosis. The magter, though, have been infected by a parasite that destroys the higher functions of their brains. Eventually Brandd locates the cobalt bombs and disables the transmission mechanism, allowing him to return home.

      What struck me in reading it way back when was the awareness of the connectedness of all things and the understanding of parasitic and symbiotic and commensal relations among the Disans, who described beneficial relations as “medvirk” and destructive relations as “umedvirk.” We got one heck of a lot of “umedvirk” stuff going on these days, no?

      Never been checked for the disorder myself, but the ex-wife was exposed, and I was the one who always had to deal with the dirty litter, so who knows? At least I have zero entrepreneurial skills or drives…

      1. Lambert Strether

        > under the title “Sense of Obligation,” changed to “Planet of the Damned”

        Sounds like the transition from the New Deal Coalition to neoliberalism…

  16. rjs

    while we’re exporting record amounts of oil to the far east…

    east coast refineries are getting the oil they need shipped across the Atlantic from the the Caspian Sea in the middle of Asia…

    US Refiners Boost Purchases Of CPC Blend To Record As Prices Drop –(Reuters) – U.S. refiners will import a record monthly volume of crude from the Caspian region in July after snapping up the cargoes when prices reached near six-year lows, according to market sources and Thomson Reuters shipping data. The unusually large volume of crude is one of many changes in the international oil trade caused by a flood of U.S. shale oil headed overseas.Record exports of crude from the United States to Europe and Asia have pushed down the price of comparable oil, such as the crude produced near the Caspian in Kazakhstan and Russia. That oil is pumped through the CPC pipeline and loaded in the Mediterranean. U.S. East Coast refiners, which rely on crude imports, have bought most of the 3.7 million barrels of CPC crude that will reach the United States in July, according to the Thomson Reuters data.The East Coast refiners have limited access to the oil produced in the shale fields hundreds of miles away in Texas or North Dakota. They buy additional crude from West Africa, Middle East and Europe.  That is because U.S. domestic shipping rules can make it more expensive for East Coast refiners to ship crude from the Gulf coast to the northeast than it is to import oil. East Coast refiners "can get oil cheaper from the Urals than the Eagle Ford,"

    re: "U.S. domestic shipping rules".   the hundred year old Jones Act mandates that any shipments from one US port to another must be done with American crews on American flag ships.  (ie, expensive)

    so in effect, oil virtually circumnavigates the planet before it gets back to us…we ship oil from the Gulf coast through the Panama Canal and then across the Pacific to China, India, and Korea, while Kazakhstan ships an identical grade of oil by pipeline west to the Mediterranean, where it’s loaded on tankers to be shipped to US east coast refineries…despite record exports, we have continued to import between 7.5 million and 9 million barrels per day, about half of what we use…

  17. Carolinian

    Re Galileo–puzzled as to why the EU even needs a satellite navigation system I turned to this fairly detailed Wikipedia article.

    Among other cited reasons the system will not be subject to GPS “selective availability” (which no longer exists) and under special mode will allegedly be more accurate than GPS–down to a cm. But against that here is the cost of a system that will mostly duplicate GPS and the Russian Glonass which are now available in commercial navigators and other products.

    In 2010 the think-tank Open Europe estimated the total cost of Galileo from start to 20 years after completion at €22.2 billion


    British officials have been reported to be seeking legal advice on whether they can reclaim the €1.4bn invested by the United Kingdom

    What say ye EU commenters? European Space Agency makework boondoggle or legitimate Brexit issue?

    1. Grebo

      Unlike GPS/Glonass, the US/Russia can’t switch off Galileo at a crucial moment. If you want your bombs dropping down the right chimneys that’s important.
      I expect the UK will get included in once the dust settles. Not only is there the refund but the UK has enough involvement to throw a spanner in the works if it chose to.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Jeff Bezos’ Paper Tells You Not to Worry About Those Billionaires”

    “These aren’t the billionaires that you are looking for.
    You can go about your business.
    Move along.”

  19. Zachary Smith

    The World Is Hot, on Fire, and Flooding. Climate Change is Here
    Methane Deathtrap Threatens Democracy

    Those are the two climate headlines Yves Smith has given us today. In my opinion they demonstrate a division among climate scientists similar to that between the Uniformitarians and Catastrophists within geology several years ago. Increases of carbon dioxide can be seen as an incremental issue. My dead ash trees. Sightings of armadillos in southern Indiana. As in geology, there are some who are concerned about possible slam-bang changes. Sudden halting of the Gulf Stream. Release of massive amounts of methane. And who knows what else!

    I suspect people want to avoid thinking about “instant extinction” – it’s rather like being run over by a large truck whose brakes failed. Or a 747 crashes onto your house. There was no possible escape! Anyhow, below is part of a post I made back in 2012 at the Real Climate site where the author seems to have been of the “gradualism” persuasion.

    That methane may not trigger a runaway greenhouse is quite different from claiming it won’t have any earth-shaking effects.
    An 1815 eruption of the Tamboro volcano had worldwide effects. In parts of the US 1816 was a “year without a summer”. In his book The Last Great Subsistence Crisis of the Western World author John Post described the worldwide ripples from this single event.
    Humanity’s food crops are sensitive to changes in the weather. Too hot/too cold, too wet/too dry – they don’t like this! Harvests are reduced, or missing altogether on account of the rusts, the blights, the droughts, and the excess rains.
    People don’t suffer quietly unless they have to. Back in 1816 there weren’t any atomic bombs. No biological weapons. No easy ways to make your neighbors suffer in your stead.
    I’ve only been really hungry once in my life; it when I had a routine colonoscopy. I was briefly miserable, but had that raging hunger continued my rationality would have been seriously affected. I fear such morality as I possess would have been altered as well, for starvation alters the brain’s chemistry.
    The drastic climate variations from increasing warming are going to be bad enough. A few methane burps could push everything past the breaking point. By “breaking point” I refer to when relatively and stable human societies go berserk.
    So far as I can tell our wealthiest citizens aren’t getting involved in the climate debate very much. Some them are, of course, as ignorant as BillyBob, but IMO most have calculated they’re immune. They’ll fortify their gated communities or build their Far North bunkers and hunker down. That such strategies will almost certainly fail is something they won’t find out until it’s too late.
    The extremely wealthy – tip of the needle of the top 1% – may have another strategy. When I read of the billionaires building their own space programs I wonder if they don’t plan to evacuate to a new Rich People refuge they’ll build on the moon or L5.
    For whatever reasons, almost none of them are showing up on record as giving a solitary damn about the fate of the Earth and the 99.9% who’ll go down when the ecosystems begin to fail and chaos begins.
    You don’t need a ‘runaway’ greenhouse for the virtual extinction of humanity.

    My concern is that we may not continue the slow-motion climate change. What may well happen is the equivalent of when the East Coast Indians woke one morning to see some strangers in giant wooden boats carrying guns, chains, and new diseases. In a virtual eye-blink their lives became a hell of casual murder, slavery, and massive deaths from the new germs.

    1. HotFlash

      I suspect people want to avoid thinking about “instant extinction”

      I admit that I don’t often think about extinction, but when I do, “instant” is my personal preference.

    2. Jean

      So if there’s a runaway heat event, why can’t *they* use a nuclear bomb to trigger a properly sized volcanic eruption *somewhere* to help cool the earth?

      You’re welcome.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’m very concerned Climate Disruption may be accelerating, and thereby favorably inclined toward articles and studies that support my concern. I admit my bias. However I didn’t see much in the way of new arguments or evidence to incline me toward setting my hair on fire just yet.

      Many features of the writing in this link were indeed disturbing but what disturbed me were things like tossing “NASA, NSA, TSA and the Pentagon” together. I don’t think NASA is what it used to be but it sure isn’t remotely like NSA or TSA, and the Pentagon is a building — I guess DoD was intended. Is a large scale methane burp which might result in “extraordinarily” rapid global warming possible? — of course it is — and it’s also possible the Earth could be hit by a wayward asteroid or more likely hit by a large solar flare. From this “possible” methane burp we are to expect “ethnicity-bashing by white supremacists/nationalists, as warring factions fight over food and water” and eco-migration fueling fascism. This link tails off into a bad parody of the scene in “Ghostbusters” … “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” …

      The dangers of Climate Disruption based on the current evidence are scary enough. Rants like this link encourage serious thought far less than they encourage ridicule.

  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    So let me get this straight, business students are more likely to eat cat sh%$.

    It appears that my exhortations to them have been listened to.

  21. prx

    What is with the rideshare scooter hate? Do you despise people who park their cars on the street?

    I think there’s too much enthusiasm for the companies and the valuations they’re raising at are absurd giving their limitations (not for every city, or person), but efforts to make transit safer and greener shouldn’t be poo-poo’d IMO

    1. curlydan

      It could be that:

      The scooter companies may not ask for city permission to put their scooters everywhere
      Are the scooter’s environmentally friendly if they need a nightly recharge?
      Wouldn’t human powered scooters be more environmentally friendly?
      Who assumes liability for crashes? probably not the scooter companies who put all liability on the riders
      Who assures that riders wear a helmet when it’s required when you use one?
      Who prohibits kids from using them?
      What’s to stop cities from being inundated with scooters and bikes? See photos in China of mountains of discarded and unused ride share bikes.
      What are the data/privacy policies on the companies? Do local officials care or know about those policies?

      I think there are quite a few reasons for concern and distrust, especially after seeing how Uber and other companies waltzed into cities without much thought or planning.

    2. Jean

      There’s a 72 hour limit to parking on streets, or, 2 hours without a parking permit in San Francisco.
      It would be easy to put in a 12 hour limit to scooters, after which they would be impounded and sold at auction to the highest bidder, or better yet, considered abandoned property like a “free sofa” on the sidewalk, available to all and any or subject to proper recycling.

      1. prx

        Scooters probably kill fewer pedestrians and drivers than cars do. I agree they should be kept to the streets not the sidewalks, and more public transit would be a good thing.

        Also agree there shouldn’t be exuberant over-investment in scooters / bikes, but don’t think the solution is to ban them or destroy them..

        1. lyman alpha blob

          If people want to ride a scooter then they can go buy one and take care of it, not wait for some app monkey to provide one which they can then carelessly fling aside and wait for some homeless person to pick up.

          Nobody is complaining about scooters per se, they are righteously angry at the as&%^les who think they can dump a few million of them everywhere, breaking the law while they do it, with no consequences for their atrocious behavior, so they can make a quick squillion while inconveniencing everybody else.

          The execs of these companies in a just society would be in prison right now.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          You are wrong.

          ..crash rates in terms of distance travelled were nearly four times higher for mopeds than for motorcycles (including larger scooters). More comprehensive distance travelled data is needed to confirm these findings. The overall severity of moped and scooter crashes was significantly lower than motorcycle crashes but an ordered probit regression model showed that crash severity outcomes related to differences in crash characteristics and circumstances, rather than differences between PTW types per se

          And recall that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists’ risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car. Cars have all that metal around them, plus airbags, to absorb the shock of impact.

          1. ambrit

            Having been knocked off my motorcycle, when I had one, I can attest to damage rates. There’s a reason why ‘Dirty Shirt’ bikers wear leather jackets. It does a lot less damage to you when you skid along the street cushioned by a layer of leather than by a layer of cotton. (Ideally, both.)

          2. PlutoniumKun

            The biggest problem by far is when different modes are all mixed together. When you go to Asia and see hordes of people on mopeds, its relatively safe – they are all mixed together at the same speed, following the same written and unwritten rules. Same for bikes on Copenhagen bike tracks or cars on a highway. Its one reason why in the Anglo world urban bike routes don’t work as well as in the Netherlands – in the latter, everyone is on a 50lb steel urban steed and the laws of physics means nearly everyone goes the same speed. In the US/UK/Oz/Ireland you have people on race bikes, folders, BMX’s, mountain bikes, cargo bikes and everything in between, so you get an element of unpredictable chaos (and not in a good way)

            The problem comes when you mix things up. In Europe now there are big issues on dedicated bike ways because there are increasing numbers of people on electric powered bikes are going a lot faster on lanes not built for overtaking. There has been a significant increase in the deaths of elderly on Dutch bike lanes for just this reason (its actually the elderly who are using the powered bikes, but it seems they give them more power than they can handle). You can see the same thing in China where electric scooters started taking over the old bike lanes.

            So adding in all these different powered systems on roadways designed just for cars (or, in many cases horses), and pedestrians is a recipe for disaster. In the absence of building multiple types of lanes (not impossible in limited circumstances), then IMO the only solution is power limiting all electric vehicles. Below a certain power = bike lane. Above = road.

  22. BenX

    The destruction of scooters is an expression of the suppressed class rejecting their exploitation from billionaires. Historically, great social inequality ends badly for the ruling class – 100% of the time. This minor revolt is a symptom of simmering anger that the One-Percent is certain to ignore.

  23. Jean

    About free lunch being banned in San Francisco.

    This is not about “supporting restaurants.”
    It’s about getting more sales taxes for the bottomless pit of homeless services in San Francisco from restaurant meals and helping stem the decline in restaurant patronage as people don’t like traveling downtown for the pleasure of hopping over piles of human feces, dodging used syringes and avoiding raving, a possibly homicidal, lunatics all over downtown and the South of Market area.

    Quite ironic, because San Francisco is where Free Lunch was invented during and after the Gold Rush of 1848 when tavern owners put out morsels for drinkers, a custom possibly imported from Spain and its tapas which survived the short Mexican interregnum before the Bear Flag Revolt and the absorbing of California into the Union.

      1. Jean


        Limiting homeless housing services for locals, meaning people who are from San Francisco, or who have been there an arbitrarily long time, would eliminate the entire problem at a far lower cost than the billions that have spent on it.

        Except for two people, every single homeless person that I have talked to in over 50 years of seeing and watching the problem develop and then metastasize, is from somewhere else and has voluntarily traveled to the city for one reason or another.

        Plus, there are people who are mentally ill and who will never succeed anywhere short of treatment and or confinement in a mental hospital. They learn about the ability to do *anything* anywhere in San Francisco with the chagrined cooperation of the police who will not touch them, thanks to humanistic polticians who control the police and appoint the chief.

        Homelessness in San Francisco is a product of migration to the city to harvest services or take advantage of “tolerance,” or, is a wise financial decision for the chronically indigent. Added to that is transnational relocation to take advantage of the political climate and sheltering of illegal aliens.

        Whatever, it is getting to the point now that civic life in many parts of the city, is becoming impossible and businesses are leaving. If and when there is a financial downturn, the homeless are not going to just pack up and leave, even if services are slashed. The only solution, IMHO, is a complete replacement of city government, the originators of the problem and those who exacerbate it with cascades of poorly spent money and ongoing civic suicide in the guise of humanism.

        1. Richard

          The homeless population in SF, or Seattle (where I’m from), or anywhere really, is clearly not a product of migration to harvest services. This heart-hardening shibboleth gets pulled out by city fathers whenever there’s an unwelcome poor people about. It is also clearly not primarily a mental health issue, and years of faux liberal “care” in that area has done little but stigmatize and obfuscate.
          This makes me kind of want to scream. I mean, homelessness related to the lack of affordable housing? Too amazing!

          1. Jean

            I know nothing about Seattle. I do know San Francisco. You are correct, the majority of the homeless did not come here to harvest services, but the information about services is clearly a factor in deciding where to travel for more recent arrivals.

            You are claiming that there is no information traded, no forums, nothing available on the internet about social and homeless services that anyone can access?


            Most of the homeless I have spoken with over the years were college students, musicians, workers, fleeing domestic violence somewhere, or just getting a fresh start in San Francisco. For various reasons they ended up on the street instead of going home.

            The young skateboard rats from Eureka, the college aged campers from the Midwest and the other hangers out living in tents and R.V.s around Division Street are not from San Francisco but they all have iphones and can learn and communicate about what’s what.

            What you are saying, if I understand you correctly, is that San Franciscans are responsible for equally housing, feeding and providing services to anyone and everyone who shows up here?

            1. Richard

              Where did I say any of that, Jean? You are employing a straw man. Please stop.
              I responded because your comment seemed to me to primarily characterize homeless people as suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues. I think that’s a gross misrepresentation. Perhaps you were referencing a certain “community” in particular? It’s also worth considering the impact homelessness can have on anyone’s mental health, or sobriety. It didn’t need to come first.

          2. Fiery Hunt

            Wholeheartedly disagree, Richard. SF routinely spends a quarter of a billion dollars…$240,000,000 on roughly 8,000 homeless.

            I deal with the homeless, the wackos, the addicted and the vagabond tourists every single day.

            The mass majority of them are not looking for affordable housing. They’re looking for their next high.

            1. Richard

              Hmm. I think I’d like to ask you a few questions, so I can get more clear on your information for me, and your position.
              Does SF have an affordable housing “crisis”? If you would not choose that word, is there another word you’d pick to describe the situation?
              Do you think the number of homeless people in SF is unrelated to lack of affordable housing? If so, could you give me relevant facts to back up such an assertion? (It sounds like you also have some first hand experience?)
              I don’t mean to straw man you if you are not saying this, but to me that idea seems wildly counter-intuitive.
              I’ve sometimes in my work talked with families that have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity (I teach in a public school). I can assure you that “searching for the next high” is not the impression one gets from these conversations.

              1. Fiery Hunt

                I’d tend to go with “real estate asset bubble” instead of “affordable housing crises”. The sheer numbers of homeless in San Francisco has been pretty consistent since 2002. (official census count 2002…8640 people, last count I saw was for roughly 8,000. Unofficially, the population is estimated between 10,000 and 12,000. I’m talking just SF, not the entire Bay Area).

                Affordability or housing costs have swung wildly in the last 16 years, yet the homeless population hasn’t changed much.

                My thoughts on why we have the homeless problem? Huge numbers of people who can’t take care of themselves (either because of mental illness or addiction) and a significant percentage of them who won’t or can’t EVER care for themselves in the long term. They have my sympathy to a point and then they don’t.

                So, what do we do with so many “broken” people? I don’t think spending $250,000,000 dollars a year on status quo is the answer. And neither is building “affordable housing” that just becomes a pariah ghetto like the housing projects of the 1970’s. Destroy the profit seeking in the real estate market (as in one primary residence, one income property…that’s it…that’s all you get!) and you’d see housing become what it should be, accessible to those of us busting our hump and paying our taxes (like your student families).

                tl;dr The homeless are a different beast than the working poor.
                For clarity, I live and work in the East Bay. (Berkeley,Oakland. etc)

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  I’d imagine dying young does tend to keep the overall homeless population in check.

                  1. Fiery Hunt

                    20-25 years on the streets is not uncommon around here.
                    Mild Bay Area weather and lots of handouts….

                    1. Yves Smith Post author

                      The average time of being homeless is one day.

                      Tons of people with unstable housing get caught with no couch or place to crash. That is way more likely to happen in a high cost real estate city like SF where SROs are pretty much extinct. I just stayed in a boutique hotel in Settle where it was clear from the layout that it was formerly either a boarding house or a SRO.

                      Something like 30% of the homeless have jobs.

                2. Richard

                  I like your solution a lot. There’s got to be more than one though. Not sure why you scare quote “affordable housing”. I don’t think planning for and building housing that ordinary workers in a city can live in, that they can easily afford, is necc. bound to lead to “ghettoization” or other dire future.

        2. wmkohler

          Jean, are you aware that it is possible to form opinions based on facts, rather than anecdotes?

          There is actually data available about this issue.

          According to the most recent count, 69% of the homeless population in San Francisco was living in San Francisco at the time they became homeless. Out of that, 55% had lived in San Francisco for ten or more years.

          Another 21% come from other counties in California, typically nearby ones like Alameda or Marin.

          10% come from other states.

          You’ve just argued that refusing services to 10% of the total homeless population in San Francisco would “eliminate the entire problem” of homelessness.

          People forget that America did not have a chronic homelessness problem remotely close to what we see even in good economic times today until Reagan slashed federal spending on subsidized housing by 70%.

          1. tegnost

            there was a study in seattle (contradicting most media reporting) to the effect that something like 80% of the homeless used to have housing locally but are now priced out. I lived in capitol hill and green lake for 20 years. I still live in the region but avoid seattle like the plague.

  24. The Heretic

    Deepfakes… now this is getting really scary. I was disturbed with Snapchat abiltiy to graft animation onto real pictures, now this is going to a new level. The fake fight scene from Running man is just around the corner. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how will we cope if a picture becomes worth a thousand lies and realistic fake video become par the course…

    Will analog chemical based pictures become the new gold standard in evidence?

  25. Oregoncharles

    “1 Hen, 76 Ducklings: What’s the Deal With This Picture?”
    Paywalled for me, but I did see the picture. First: ducklings, like other baby fowl, are programmed to follow SOMETHING larger than they are – I once had a baby quail following me, until I managed to find its family. Then it switched its loyalty very quickly.

    That said, I’ve seen a similar phenomenon with the local deer. At one point, I found six fawns and just one doe in our supposedly deer fenced enclosure – I must have left the gate open again. From my selfish point of view, that’s an alarming number of fawns. But mainly: apparently they do daycare. I wouldn’t have expected that, if I hadn’t seen it.

    So I wonder if ducks do similarly.

    1. crittermom

      I do know that elk ‘babysit’ so would not be surprised if deer do, as well. I have photos & have witnessed it with the elk many times, with many calves & just a few cows to watch over them while the rest of the herd goes off to graze greener pastures.
      Occasionally, even a yearling bull will remain with some cows to babysit (I have pics of that, too), but that (from only my personal experience in nature), is much rarer.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Our Longhorn cows did the same thing, they would leave a couple of the young mamas with the babies while the rest of the herd went grazing.
        Really enjoyed raising them, they seemed more like a wild animal than a domesticated feedlot type of animal.

    1. ChrisPacific

      It’s not the first time AOC has namechecked him. I went and looked at his campaign site after the last one and was impressed. Hawaii tilts further left than most states so he should theoretically do well there, although institutional loyalty is a thing there as well, so who knows.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Just Googled it. Yikes. That’s not good. He’s playing it off as inexperience but it seems to go somewhat beyond that to me. Let’s hope he can learn and improve.

  26. Parker Dooley

    “Pakistan election in disarray as incumbent rejects result”

    Of course, it can’t happen here!

    1. ambrit

      Especially as the winner, a Mr Kahn, is making populist socialist noises in public and seems to have the indirect support of the Generals.
      Add this to the new talks between Washington and the Taliban in Afghanistan and we see a new alignment arising in the East. Can we all sing along: “The East is Red?”
      For a jolly sing along:

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Moon of Alabama has a fairly positive take on it.

        For those who don’t know, Imram Khan is an extremely famous man in the cricket loving parts of the world. He combined movie star looks, astonishing natural athletic talent, and the full Oxford accent and education to make himself at one stage probably the most admired (and if my female friends are typical, lusted after) cricketer on the planet. He is also rather notoriously vain.

        I don’t know enough about Pakistani politics to be able to say what he really represents, but he certainly says many of the right things about corruption and poverty, although more from a paternalistic noblesse oblige standpoint than a real Progressive. His Pashtun background makes him an object of suspicion for many Pakistanis. But he certainly seems better than most of the alternatives presented.

  27. Parker Dooley

    “Watchdog finds $15.5 billion “wasted” on 11-year presence in Afghanistan”

    Did the watchdog drop a couple of zeroes?

  28. crittermom

    How many readers here are aware that the US govt outsources govt programs to the Philippines?
    I wasn’t aware of this until I tried to get a govt cell phone (which I now qualify for since I’m now ‘poor folk’ after Chase Bank stole my ranch of 20 yrs).

    After 5 weeks of getting the runaround (“app pending”), today I was finally told I was denied because they will not accept an EBT food stamp card–the only kind we’re issued! I was told it must be another kind of food stamp card. Huh?
    When I said that was the only damned kind of card we are issued, I was given my “first warning” for swearing at her. Oh, good grief.
    I promised to be ‘sweet as pie’ after that (since I don’t have a video phone & she couldn’t see the one finger salute I was giving her by this point).
    No resolution. Denied. At which point I very sweetly ended the call (screaming & ‘saluting’ afterward).
    I then took a walk outside to ‘cool off’ (in this 95-degree heat).

    I then called back & asked for a rep in the US & was told I could be transferred but there was no guarantee it would be to someone in the US. WHAT???!!! (Yes, I’ll be contacting MY govt come morning)
    At that point, I said thank you & good day, & hung up. Politely. No cussing.

    I next tried to call a friend & got a recording when I dialed saying my # had been tracked & I would be charged $1… at which time I hung up.
    I then called my local phone co & immediately reported that & had them make a record of my complaint, as I told them I would dispute any additional charges that were incurred for that conversation with the Philippines (because I had the audacity to ask for a rep in the US?)

    For further insult, I was checking on my benefits for my part D Medicare yesterday & guess what?
    That is now also outsourced to the Philippines!
    At least I was able to be transferred to a rep in the US for that upon request.

    I’ve had a pain in my neck for the past 2 weeks so visited a chiropractor today, which helped.
    After returning home & dealing with someone in the Philippines once again today regarding a govt program, I had to make another appt with the chiropractor for early next week.

    I have now decided our govt is a definite pain in my neck.

    Gee… Imagine a country in which those in rural areas where there are few jobs could be doing this US govt work…
    Apparently, however, that country is not within the US!

    Has anyone else had such encounters with GOVT programs being outsourced?
    I’m completely disgusted. ESPECIALLY since I can’t even talk with a rep in THIS country regarding a govt program for THIS country.

    So please, if any of you are traveling I-40 out west & see an old lady by her 32 yr old car trying to flag someone down, that’s probably me needing to call for a tow. (Yes, I have towing–but no way to call them).

    I only wanted the cell phone for emergencies, such as my car breaking down during those almost 200-mile trips to the cancer center & back.
    Now I must just pray she keeps running, I guess.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m very sorry to hear of your problems.

      A few weeks ago I found myself in conversation with a drunk guy on a train in Dublin (yeah, it happens). He was about 35, looked like someone who lived hard and fast, but was very articulate. He said he had made a fortune when he lived in the Philippines, and lost it all (bad divorce to a local rich girl with a crooked family he said). He kept repeating ‘it was so easy – I had 100 employees doing phone support, I charged US clients $5 an hour, I paid them $2 an hour. Do the math’. So yes, nearly everything gets subcontracted out there. There is an army there of well spoken, well educated people who will work for that amount an hour and not complain (cultural thing).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Soooo, we’re still going with “Russia! Russia! Russia!” then? Don’t tell Rachel Maddow about this tape or else that is all you will hear about on her show between now and the midterms.

      1. integer

        There is no end in sight. The custodians of the liberal international order clearly understand that failure of the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” narrative represents an existential threat to their position at the top of the world order. As far as they are concerned, the “Russia! Russia! Russia!” narrative is too big to fail.

        1. ambrit

          So, when push comes to shove will the Feds start some program of “Radioactive Easing?”

      2. Dugh

        Ironic that all the rabid Rachel Maddow types are fueling the destabilizing fire this KGB guy was talking about.

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