Links 7/7/18

What Is the Sun Made Of and When Will It Die? Quanta

Measles case confirmed in Portland, about 500 people possibly exposed KATU

Bothersome Bystanders and Self Driving Cars Rodney Brooks. As I keep saying, when the algos don’t work, programmers optimize their inputs. And when robot car algos don’t work, their proponents will argue for optimizing the built environment, pedestrian behavior, etc., at public expense. This process appears to be well along.

Google’s Controversial Voice Assistant Could Talk Its Way Into Call Centers The Information

The Singular Pursuit of Comrade Bezos Medium

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets Vanity Fair

Jaron Lanier on fighting Big Tech’s ‘manipulation engine FT

All EFF’d Up Yasha Levine, The Baffler

The Long View: Surveillance, the Internet, and Government Research Los Angeles Review of Books


May gains backing for ‘soft Brexit’ plan FT

British cabinet agrees UK-EU free trade area Brexit plan Raidió Teilifís Éireann. “The three-page document sets out the parameters of a longer white paper on the future relationship, which will be published next week.”

Brexit: Barnier urges Theresa May to reconsider rejected Irish plan Belfast Telegraph


Is the U.S. about to give up on its lawless and catastrophic adventure in Syria? Salon

Grand Bargain Taking Shape? U.S. to Pull Out of al-Tanf Gold, Goats, and Guns


US, China deliver on threats as ‘biggest trade war in economic history’ starts at high noon South China Morning Post

Pakistan seeks more loans from China to avert currency crisis FT. “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” —J. Paul Getty

Incoming Mexican president to seek negotiated peace in drug war Reuters

The Politics of Food in Venezuela Monthly Review

Trump’s Reckless Venezuela Bluster Was Worse Than We Thought The American Conservative

New Cold War

Revealed: the financiers invited to dine with Donald Trump Financial News

Ahead of NATO and Putin summits, Trump’s unorthodox diplomacy rattles allies WaPo

Trump’s Goals in Helsinki Valdai Discussion Club

Putin Is Preparing a Deal Trump Can Tout After Summit Bloomberg

* * *

If the novichok was planted by Russia, where’s the evidence? Guardian. The new novichok mystery, not the old one.

Debunking the First Piece of Nonsense in Skripal 2.0 The Blogmire

Trump Transition

Worry and relief at EPA after scandal-plagued chief’s exit Associated Press

Federal prosecutors abruptly dismiss all 39 remaining Inauguration Day rioting cases WaPo

Democrats in Disarray

The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked WaPo. Odd. #1 isn’t even a Democrat.

The George Soros philosophy – and its fatal flaw Guardian

Police State Watch

South Carolina Police Challenge Summer Reading Titles Comic Book Legal Defense Fund


An ICE Raid Leaves an Iowa Town Divided Along Faith Lines NYT. “No charges have been filed against the owners of the Midwest Precast Concrete plant in Mount Pleasant that was raided.” So the headline is at the least partial, and at the most deceptive. Because that’s another line to divide along, right?

Who Is Making Money from ICE in Your State? (map) Sludge

Prison operators could cash in on ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy Salt Lake Tribune

Defense contractor detained migrant kids in vacant Phoenix office building Reveal News

A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration Crisis Medium

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon Audit: “There Will Be Unpleasant Surprises” Federation of American Scientists

Guillotine Watch

Nine Things I Learned When I Became a Honeymoon Planner for Billionaires Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Questionable Admissions Inside Higher Ed (original; n = 23). “[A]dmissions officers appear to favor applicants with better grades at institutions where everyone is earning high grades over applicants with lower grades at institutions with more rigorous grading.” So much for the meritocracy?

Employers’ Hiring Push Brings Workers Off the Bench NYT

Strong job growth combined with flat wage growth provides little evidence for skills shortages Economic Policy Institute

Judge: Tennessee can’t revoke driver’s licenses from people who can’t pay court costs The Tennessean

Planned Parenthood’s Union Busting Could Have a Chilling Effect for Workers Everywhere In These Times. Just in time for the Roe v. Wade battle….

The Pentagon Is Building a Dream Team of Tech-Savvy Soldiers Wired (JB). Key paragraph:

In all that time, though, it never occurred to [Defense Digital Service (DDS)] director Chris Lynch that the same level of talent might be found within the military’s ranks. “I thought, ‘My team is the best the country has to offer, and that type of talent wouldn’t exist in uniform today,'” says [Chris Lynch, director of the DDS]…. “That’s the thing that was wrong.”

It’s almost as if something was holding all that talent back…

What is ‘shithousery’? And why it’s the World Cup’s biggest problem Guardian

We’re ready to go in: Dive team are set for Thai cave rescue in race to beat monsoon as boys’ strength is first built up again Daily Mail. Not sure why the cave can’t be pumped dry; Thailand is subject to flooding, so presumably they have the tech. Or not?

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Strong job growth combined with flat wage growth provides little evidence for skills shortages.

    This ties into a recent article I read about why American workers are doing so badly despite the supposedly great economy.

    OECD study confirms that American workers are getting ripped off.

    The OECD report is interesting in that it seems to confirm that America’s economic problems are largely due to anti-worker policy and politics, something many media outlets will try to deny by attempting to place all of the blame on robots or Americans not being skilled enough or not having the right skills.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In California’s CVBB, we have heard that they can’t find enough farm workers.

      Do we see wage growth there?

      1. Louis Fyne

        —In California’s CVBB, we have heard that they can’t find enough farm workers.—

        $25/hour cash payable at the end of the day, you’ll have a line for workers. even if it’s shoveling poo.

        Now…do people want to pay $10/lb. for their cherry tomatoes?

        that’s an entirely different question.

        1. Enquiring Mind

          Now…do people want to pay $10/lb. for their cherry tomatoes?

          Those are artisanal, curated tomates, not garden-variety tomatoes ;)

          1. polecat

            Mine are free .. minus my (and those migrants, the bumblebees) labored efforts, of course.

          1. J Sterling

            If imports can be had at $2/lb, then it is better for America to spend its dollars on imported tomatoes, and for the landowner to do something more value-added with the land than tomatoes. If there is nothing more value-added, and the land necessarily goes down in $/acre, all the better for Americans who would like to buy land. I get why the landowner would be pissed, but I’m not getting why that’s America’s problem.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          At $25.00/hour, lets assume these cherry tomato pickers are highly skilled and fairly speedy. Lets assume they can pick every cherry tomato on the vine at exact ripeness, leaving unpicked the ones not ripe enough yet and the ones that have gotten too ripe and too soft. Lets assume they are skilled enough to not drop a single one and not harm a single one. How many pounds of cherry tomatoes should a highly skilled cherry tomato picker be able to pick in 1 hour?

          If heeshee can pick ten pounds per hour, then hizzer’s share of the costs-passed-on-in-the-price would be $2.50 per pound of cherry tomatoes. That would mean a further $7.50 per pound of cherry tomatoes going to everything else BUT the picker.

          Now, if heeshee can pick 20 pounds per hour, then hizzer’s share of the costs-passed-on-in-the-price would $1.25 per pound of cherry tomatoes. That would mean a further $8. 75 per pound of cherry tomatoes going to everything else BUT the picker.

          So . . . how many pounds per hour of cherry tomatoes would the $25.00/hour picker be able to pick? How would we even figure that out? Well . . . a start might be to ask . . . how many pounds of grape tomatoes per hour do the Imokalee grape tomato pickers pick per hour today for less than $25.00/ hour I suspect? That answer should set the lower-bound for the expectable.

        3. a different chris

          Why would it cost $10/lb? Even an middle aged white guy like me can pick a pound of tomatoes from those very cultivated rows in I bet every minute.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I was trying to offer simple possible hypothetical amounts of tomatoes a picker could pick per hour, and then work out how much each pound would have to cost just to pay for paying the wage of the $25.00/hour picker.

            But I don’t know how much a picker could pick minute after minute for hours and then days till the pick-it-or-lose-it cherry tomato crop was all picked. The more pounds per hour the $25.00/hour picker could pick steadily over the several days harvest period, the less that picker’s pay would cost per pound of cherry tomatoes.

            So your question is very interesting. If the picker hermself costed $1.25 or $2.50 or whatever per pound of picked tomatoes, what other costs and reasons would drive the price the rest of the way up to $10.00/pound?

  2. Kevin C Smith

    re: Boys in a cave
    The chance that one or more of the boys will panic and lose control while scuba diving through the passages in that cave is about 100%. The boy[s] will die, and some of the divers accompanying them may die.

    Suggestion: consult a pediatric anesthesiologist and see if the boys could be sedated with an agent like ketamine [which does not generally interfere with respiration]. Then the boys could than be brought out as fairly inert packages, the same way duffel bags of food and equipment are currently being brought to their area.

    1. larry

      In the Independent today is a story about Elon Muck advocating the insertion of an air tube into the tunnel complex in order to help the students walk out while the air pressure keeps back the water. He apparently has sent some of his engineers over to help out.

        1. John Zelnicker

          July 7, 2018 at 8:07 am

          I think your typo was more accurate.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Using an air tube to pressurize the cave to keep the water back?!? Oh, good grief. Elon Musk is apparently unaware that caves are POROUS and typically have many places where air can flow in and out. Pressurizing the cave will almost certainly prove impossible.

        And unfortunately, the same is often true for places where water enters and exits the cave system. Lambert’s suggestion of pumping the water out won’t work either if water levels are being sustained by two or three underground streams. However, it’s a much easier experiment to run. All you need is a big hose and a big pump. It’s certainly worth a try, and it’d be much less disruptive to ongoing rescue efforts than sealing the irregularly-shaped cavern entrance (in preparation for a pressurized-air approach) would be.

        1. Nax

          I would have thought it more likely that they’re considering putting plastic tubes, large enough for a child to move inside, through each of the flooded parts of the tunnel and then inflating the tubes.

          1. sd

            Now that actually sounds somewhat feasible. Essentially a shot. Could be air inflated like a bounce house through those sections of the tunnel that require diving.

        2. Procopius

          I haven’t been following the story closely, and don’t know why they can’t bring in some of the biggest pumps they acquired during the horrific floods of 2011. Probably there’s no electricity supply in the area, but I’m sure at least some of the pumps are diesel powered, and of course they have portable generators. I’m also not clear about the reference to the monsoon. The Southwest Monsoon has already started, despite the fact that our national Meteorological Department seems to have a very different definition of “monsoon” than I do. I’ve never lived in Chiang Rai, our most Northern province, so don’t know if the rainy season there is much different than here in Central Thailand. In fact the rains usually abate somewhat during July and August picking up strongly in September and, especially October. I’m not speculating. I’m just waiting to see the outcome.

      2. bob

        I’m sending a dozen cats. I hope we’re all entitled to the same stage.

        My cats and his engineers have exactly the same experience in cave rescues.

        1. bob

          See PK below. If The Wonderful Elon Is actually proposing this, he has no idea what he is talking about. Nothing new or newsworthy about that.

            1. Expat

              While possibly true, it is also unnecessarily nasty. Musk is pretty smart and apparently thinks outside the box. If it were my kids and the guy who put his fricking sportscar into a Mars orbit with the goddamn top down using his own money showed and said, “Hey, maybe I can help” I think I might say “thank you” instead of mocking him.

              Perhaps I don’t know enough about Musk to hate him like so many people do.

              1. bob

                “unnecessarily nasty”

                To a billionaire, from a blog comment?

                Good job leveling the playing field. Make sure he’s well defended. What’s he paying you?

                Not nearly nasty enough, apparently.

                1. Expat

                  Okay, scenario. You dangling from a ledge. Elon Musk jumps into his newly developed jet pack and zooms to your side. He extends his arm, offering to save your life. You look him calmly in the eye, say “Screw you, you horrid billionaire!” and plummet to your death.

                  Second scenario: your kids are dangling from the same ledge. Elon appears. You shout, “Kids! Don’t let that nasty man touch you! Just let go! Better dead than Musked!”

                  LOL. It’s easy to be dogmatic and delusional when you are viewing the kids and Elon from your ivory towerlet. Do you have any empathy at all? Or are all monied people just nasty bastards who should be killed? Guess you’re gonna have to try starting with me.

                  1. JTMcPhee

                    So you or your kid reaches out that arm to Musk on his jet pack and you discover to your chagrin that the weight and thrust limit for the jet pack is exceeded and the Musk has to decide whether to kick you, or your kid, in the other false-choice scenario you pose, off to save himself.

                    You’re “monied?” And apparently ready to do some kicking too? And this is maybe why “redistribution” by any means, except the kind where the wealth and money are distributed inward and upward to the “monied” few, will not go very well…

                    1. Expat

                      Now you are simply making things up in a desperate attempt to save your argument. How about, “It turns out Elon is a cannibal and is only saving the kids to eat them?” Or “Elon’s touch will infect them with a virus that turns them into zombie workers.”
                      I am all for redistribution. No problems. Where I live, I pay about 50-55% of my income in taxes and social charges. I believe in more income equality. Yes, I am rich. If that is your only criterion for criticizing people, then you don’t have much to offer.

                    2. bob

                      Expat is a stakeholder. Don’t interrupt a stakeholder when they’re in the middle of personal testimony. They’ll have no choice but to speak with your manager.

                  2. bob

                    Because it’s either let you defend the virtue of Elon and his disaster PR machine unimpugned, or let me and my family die.

                    This is civil discourse.

                    1. Expat

                      No, that is not the point. The point is that there is knee-jerk reaction here to criticize a man who reaches out halfway around the world to help a bunch of trapped kids and all of you pile onto him like he was handing out lollipops in a leper colony while being followed by cameramen in space suits.

                      Is Elon seeking publicity? Sure, why not? Would you love him if he did this privately? Probably not. Do you at least approve of the actions and intents or are you so caught up in your hatred that there is no act you would deem acceptable by Musk?

                      I don’t know much about Elon Musk. I don’t work for him. I don’t work in anything he does. I live seven thousand miles away from him.

                      but I am a father and enough of a human being to at least appreciate the effort and help whatever the motivation.

                      But sure. Let the kids drown just to show Elon that you are on to his games!

                    2. bob

                      Let’s go ahead and look at the ink the NYT, the paper of record in the US, spills for Elon-


                      Tech billionaire Elon Musk has sent a team of engineers to Thailand to see if they can help in the rescue effort. Musk’s Boring Company digs tunnels for advanced transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar.

                      A spokeswoman for the Boring Company who declined to be named said it is in talks with the Thai government and people on the ground to determine how they could best assist their efforts.

                      now, on with the real world-

                      The death on Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks of making the underwater journey. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route to where the boys and others are sheltered.

                      Elon gets more ink than someone who actually died in the rescue effort. Dozens of nation states and thousands of other volunteers are there helping and dying already.

                      Propriety- It’s not proper to point out the PR whoring of a billionaire who is currently looking for more public and private funding, where somehow, the very act of offering help is supposed to be some sort of proof of his expertise.

                      Expertise- Elon has built one part of one tunnel in an undisclosed location outside of LA. No, you can’t see it.

              2. JTMcPhee

                “”HIS” money? Lots of government subsidies, maybe? $4.9 BILLION, maybe?

                I’m curious about all the emotion and drama and empathy about these kids ,led stupidly by some adult, into the cave in the first instance.

                Why the morbid fascination? Do we see ourselves in such a fix, and hope someone will put out this kind of effort to extricate us? We cold stop bombing cities, killing kids, for a lot less cost. Or is it prurience? I remember reading of a guy in KY or TN back between WWs I and II, who crawled into a cave looking for the next monetizable Mammoth or Carlsbad and got irretrievably stuck. The news ghouls were all over that horror, stuck in the dark and going to die an no possible rescue. People came from far away to “be at the scene,” souvenirs and cotton candy we’re sold, photos taken, radio personalities vied for the most year-jerking perforations.

                Then on to the next horror event.

                1. Expat

                  you wanna argue subsidies. Find me a single bilsionaire in America who hasn’t stolen his wealth, gotten government subsidies or generally lied and cheated to get rich. Everyone hates Elon. I get it. But if you are going to pick on him for receiving subsidies, then I suggest you start hating every American millionaire and corporation.

                  but again, so frickin’ what? If you were dying and Pablo Escobar offered you medicine or his kidney, would you turn those down? Would you prefer Elon tweeted something like what you just said? what would your reaction be then?

                  1. bob

                    Find me a single bilsionaire in America who hasn’t stolen his wealth, gotten government subsidies or generally lied and cheated to get rich

                    We seem to agree on this point. You, however, seem to think any and all criticism of them, and their misdeeds, is heresy.

                    You are using your time and energy to defend their virtue in the comment section of a blog.

                    I think you are completely ridiculous, at best, and a paid lackey for Elon, at worst.

                    Sticking up for the rights of Billionaires not to be talked about in any sort of negative light.

                    1. Expat

                      Okay, stop putting words in my mouth. I never said any and all criticism is heresy. If you bothered to read and comprehend my post instead of simply arming your slingshot with mud, you would not look quite so stupid based on what you wrote. See, I can get ad hominem as well.

                      You have ignored what I said so you could get on your high horse and shout “Down with the rich!”. Well, good for you. I agree. But if you are going to be willfully ignorant and slander me by making things up, then I will be happy be on the opposite side of this issue.

                      Now, you can reread my posts and come back or you can simply libel me again and ignore what I have written.
                      Frankly, based on your previous comments, I don’t much care which you choose.

              3. Lambert Strether Post author

                This afternoon on my Twitter feed, tweets mentioning Musk had driven out tweets with news about the cave, the boys, and the rescue, whether in searches or hash tags. Even Space X was ahead of “Tham Luang.” Now matters seem to have settled down, but what next? RIchard Branson?

                1. The Rev Kev

                  Maybe Obama could go over there and give an inspirational speech. You know – all about his thoughts and prayers.

            2. bob

              …is the mob of well meaning but completely clueless tone police who follow on and defend his proclamations of ignorance.

              “you’re being mean to the billionaire. You should be saying “thank you” This is how civility works. You demonstrate none of that. Good day, SIr”

              1. Aumua

                Honestly I don’t really get the knee-jerk reflexive derision pointed at Elon Musk around here no matter what he says or does. Not that he’s being hurt unfairly or something. That’s not the point. Even if he’s a billionaire, even if he says some stupid things and has some hair brained ideas, even if he’s the consummate capitalist, it still seems like he’s trying to as noted above think outside the box. So like what did Elon do to you to make you hate on him so much? Did he steal your girlfriend or something?

                1. bob

                  Why is it that ANYWHERE on the internet there a mob of people ready to question your motives, your sexuality, and the faithfulness of your significant other as soon as you speak ill of The Leader?

                  It sounds like a cult. Are you a member?

                  1. Aumua

                    Yeah, I’m a card carrying member of the Elonmuskian lodge. We practice Elonmuskitology, thanks for asking.

                2. ewmayer

                  ‘harebrained’ – nothing fuzzy-thinking about it. :) That’s no ordinary rabbit…

            3. wilroncanada

              He can’t know about everything (even though he pretends to). He lives mostly in an Elon-gated community.

            4. drumlin woodchuckles

              Perhaps he really cares and he really tried to help. If so, it reveals how Silicon Valley’s analog idiots/ digital savants really do think their digital savantiness qualifies them to know all there is to know about really real analog meatspace real reality.

      3. Oregoncharles

        He specified a nylon tube, presumably coated. Nylon would resist abrasion. In other words, an airway you can walk or crawl through, not pressurizing the cave – apparently he knows that much. But 2 miles long? And does it already exist, available for use – in Thailand?

        Clever, actually, but I question the practicality.

      4. integer

        A new plan from Musk:

        Musk touts ‘kid-sized submarine’ to rescue stranded Thai footballers will be built ‘in 8 hours’ RT

        After receiving “great feedback” from Thailand, Musk has now apparently settled on “a tiny, kid-sized submarine” that would be based off a liquid oxygen transfer tube from his Falcon 9 space rocket. The device, Musk tweeted, will be “light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps” and “extremely robust.”

        I can’t see the harm in trying.

      5. integer

        Adding: While it is certainly possible that the public relations angle played a role in Musk’s decision to become involved in this extremely difficult situation, there is also a significant potential for negative public relations outcomes if his plan is put into practice and results in fatalities.

    2. JCC

      The BBC site has a good article showing the layout of the cave system, unfortunately I don’t have the link handy, but it’s easily searchable.

      Points made in the article:

      These kids are 2.5 miles into the system! That’s a lot of water. Some areas of the tunnel may be easily waded, others not so much. Apparently two area are so tight that there is not enough room for the divers to get through with their scuba tanks strapped on.

      Overall, it takes divers 6 hours to reach the kids going against the current and 5 hours to swim, wade, and hike back out.

      The kids are between the ages of 11 and 16, none have ever worn scuba in their lives and a few don’t know how to swim at all.

      My guess is that the odds of most getting out alive are pretty slim. Why their coach took them in this far during monsoon season baffles me to no end, but then again, the only way I would be found even 300 or 400 yards into a cave would be if I was dead anyway.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here’s a round-up with a map from USA Today. I don’t want to minimize the difficulties but:

      1) The boys will not be doing scuba. They will be wearing “a full face diving masks” that feed oxygen to them

      2) If the map is to scale, there’s a lot more walking and crawling than wading. The U-shaped parts of the tunnel where water collects look pretty dangerous

      3) There will be a rope, the divers will pull the boys, there are oxygen tanks along the route.

      4) It’s now raining at the cave:

      Implying that the extraction operation could be today; I also saw a Tweet that a senior Buddhist monk had arrived at the cave in the last few hours, which would support that; but I can’t find the tweet…

      1. Jeff W

        AFP (Agence France Presse) has tweeted as of about 8:30 am Thai time:
        #UPDATE ‘Everyone who is not involved with the operations has to get out of the area immediately,’ Thai police announce at the cave site as they need room for rescue operations.

        So it appears that something is happening at the cave site.

      2. Jeff W

        And, about 15 minutes ago, the Guardian live blog reports:

        The governor said the earliest the boys will come out is 9pm tonight, due to the long journey from where they are located and the entrance and they cannot guarantee the mission will be completed today, because the boys will all come out gradually.

        Just prior to that, the Guardian had reported that “18 divers have been sent into the caves to retrieve the 12 boys and their football coach.”

        Nine pm Thai time is 10 am Eastern so we in North America will know the outcome at the earliest by Sunday morning.

  3. larry

    An addition to the Brexit list.

    Richard North’s post, Mrs May’s Kiss of Death — This is about the cabinet meeting yesterday, where May got supposed agreement that North thinks will be rejected in the end by Brussels. It is a curious document and it may well be rejected by backbenchers for other reasons.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As North points out, and has pointed out repeatedly, the supposed ‘soft’ Brexit agreement contains points which the EU will never, ever agree to. There is no possibility of any sort of agreement on certification of goods by a third country which does to accept the authority of the ECJ.

      I think he is right that the EU will not play the game of being first to bring the talks down. If there is a strategy by May, it would seem to be to ensure they can blame the EU for the s**t thats going to go down, and the EU isn’t interested in playing that game. So they’ll make polite noises, while preparing for a chaotic Brexit. I’m sure they’ll still be making polite noises about it next March.

        1. Synoia

          Not at all.

          All is going according to plan.

          Post Brexit, cut all assistance to local government, and eliminate all vestiges of the welfare state, because of the EU.

          The Irish-UK border is the EU’s problem.

      1. begob

        Meanwhile, the football has emptied the streets here, and Mrs May is contemplating having to shake Mr Putin’s hand. The wall of propaganda on the team’s achievements has somewhat relegated Brexit to the inside pages.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Combine this with all the crimes revealed in the last decade and what we know is our financial system is being controlled by crooks worse than the mafia.

  4. edmondo

    The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked

    I didn’t see Madame Secretary on that list. If she’s breathing in 2020, Hillary’s running. I’d love to see her lose a third time. All in all, that’s a really sad list (knowing that Bernie won’t get the nomination) – methinks Trump’s re-election odds are soaring.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It will be the Revenge of the Blob in 2020.

      To beat Trump in the general election, they will, of course, make sure they get their nominee. It could get ugly, depending on how resistance is put up.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The only way the BorgoBlob can be sure of beating Trump in the next election is by denying him the nomination to begin with . . . one way or another. I suspect Trump himself thinks about that, and how to counter it.

        If Trump believes the Manufactured Consensus about “who shot John”, then there is a realm of finalistic ultimate unthinkable possibility which he will not think about. However, if Trump has his doubts that the Oswald was “acting alone”, then Trump may well be thinking about how to keep himself protected from today’s version of the Triple K Assassins.

    2. John k

      Nobody is pre coronated this time.
      If he’s healthy Bernie will be next pres, even tho some neolibs are pretending to move left. If u want to know their private positions, watch the donors.

      1. neo-realist

        If the cheating is kept to a minimum, Bernie has a shot. Unfortunately, if the republicans continue to hold majorities in both houses, he may end up being a paper tiger who won’t get any populist economic legislation passed for main street americans.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          No indeed, in that scenario he wouldn’t get such legislation passed.

          But he could keep sending it over, and demanding it, and requesting it, and etc. and making the Congress keep voting it down on the record. He and whatever Sanderista officeholders might exist could then campaign on behalf of any and all Sanderista-minded officeseekers in the midterm-primaries and then the midterms themselves and say to voters that if they want these things to be law, they will have to vote for officeholders who want to vote these things into law. His whole midterm campaign could be ” I can’t do it alone. I need help here. Vote to give me some help here.”

          He could also reverse the conservative contamination of the Agencies and Departments, scrape out all the filth, and appoint legitimate supporters of the Agency/Departmental missions into those Agencies and Departments.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Sanders’ first term as mayor of Burlington would be instructive. He spent the entire term in a power struggle with the old guard. Didn’t get much done in office that term. But the voters understood what he was doing. He fought the power struggle, hard — and when he ran for a second term, he won decisively. At that point, the opposition was broken and they knew they would have to work with him.

          Even if a President has insufficient support in Congress to pass an agenda, (s)he has the ability to stymie and block the other side — and to make a political narrative around that struggle that the voter can understand. Eventually, such a fight would play out in the left’s favor, even if we “couldn’t get anything done” at first.

          When trying to reverse a huge ocean liner, the first step is slowing the current movement.

    3. John

      Bernie lost the primaries by some 4 million votes. No way he wins next time. He’s a good cheerleader but not a good leader. He could play the role of spoiler if he wished. Hope not.

      It’s too early to say who the nominee might be. First we have to get past the midterms. If the Democrats take the house and launch some fair investigations of Trump he may not even get the Republican nomination. Certainly we’ll be looking at a string of Trump administration officials and hanger ons going to prison.

      1. drumln woodchuckles

        I would like Bernie to run through the primaries again. If the primaries were totally non-rigged, would he lose again by 4 million votes? If he did, then I am sure he would non-oppose the winner of the 2020 nomination just as he non-opposed the “winner” of the 2016 nomination.

        So no harm at all is done by Bernie choosing to run in the primaries.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        ROTFL that’s a good one [wiping tears from my eyes, trying to catch my breath]

      3. Big River Bandido

        That “4 million votes” trope is another Hillary Clinton lie. First off, caucus votes (where Sanders wiped the floor with Clinton’s arrogant mug) are not tabulated.

        Neither were hundreds of thousands of votes that the Clinton camp had supressed in primaries.

  5. David Carl Grimes

    Re: Venezuela Invasion. If the US abandoned all pretense of invading other countries to liberate them and just invaded them for oil, Venezuela would be a logical choice. It has the oil. It’s a failed or failing state. It’s ripe for regime change. Plus Venezuelans like the US.

    1. Carolinian

      Will they greet us with flowers and candy? Some might say the US is a “failed or failing state.” Should we be invaded too?

    2. Summer

      Not surprising that this may have been proposed by Trump. He’s been presented with intelligence that shows all sorts of intervention and regime change efforts that goes back decades. Being a “shoot from the hip” kind of guy, he makes a suggestion that “cuts to the chase.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” –Madeleine Albright

        As usual, Trump is a (possibly mindless) catalyst. Somebody pulled the plans out of a drawer, Trump said “Yeah, why not?”, hilarity ensued, and the plans, along with their planner, were shoved deeper into the drawer, which is a good outcome.

        And the CIA’s covert operations were naturally left in place, a not-so-good outcome.

      2. Expat

        Trump has had an iron-plated career. First, his Daddy bankrolled him, introduced him to his political connections, and showed him how to cheat banks, investors and minorities. Then, when The Donald still managed to screw up over and over again, he was left with only his name and an “allowance” from the banks. Trump Inc. was reduced to a brand name which was directly and personally associated with Donald Trump.

        A consequence of this structure was that Donald Trump could pretty much do whatever he wanted within his organization. He was not only the CEO, he was the personification of the entire company. It could not exist without him. He became accustomed to being an autocrat, hardly a step up from being a spoiled brat.

        So now Trump is the most powerful man on the planet and expects that his merest whim be carried out. Make it rain, he shouts and looks at the sky, waiting to fire his assistant if clouds don’t appear. Make the ugly dark-skinned people go away, and he looks to the borders expecting them to be rounded up and shipped back. Make everyone cower in front of me, he says, and expect Kim to kneel and hand over his nukes.

        Every president quickly learns that he commands the largest military in the world, replete with toys and super agents. The CIA tells the president in closed door meetings that they can do anything short of fighting a real war: assassinations, coups, kidnappings, mining harbors, slaughtering villagers…whatever. All of that at his fingertips. Most presidents fall into the trap. They invade, kill, kidnap, or fire long range missiles.

        Trump is no different in some ways but much more dangerous in many others because he remains the petulant, immature brat he has always been, desperately seeking approval from rich WASPS and the educated elite. If he can’t get that by one means, he will get it by blowing shit up.

        George W. Bush was dangerous because he was so stupid and so easily manipulated, but I don’t think he was personally evil. He was probably just an amiable drunk while Cheney ran the show. Trump is smart enough, vindictive enough, and ignorant enough to be truly dangerous.

        1. perpetualWAR

          So, funny you fail to mention Obama’s allowing the banks to literally steal 18 million American homes. By far, bringing the global world to their knees and no prosecutions is much more dangerous than Trump demanding it rain. But, whatever. Obama always gets a pass because he’s black. No one wants to call out his corruption and collusion or someone yells, “Racist!”

          1. Expat

            Would you like me to list every misdeed or failing of every president? I did not realize that you had personally set the criteria for commenting. Please explain to me as well why I did not speak out against ebola, slavery, or black holes. Were they on your list.

            Obama got no pass from me. If you were to relax and stop simply striking out, you might participate in discourse. You comments are non sequiturs.

        2. Hamford

          “George W. Bush was dangerous because he was so stupid and so easily manipulated, but I don’t think he was personally evil.”

          Oh my, the rehabilitation of W continues. Thanks for refreshing my memory:

          Praytell, how has trump’s impetulant “evil” resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, and death or displacement of hundreds of thousands of others? Perhaps those numbers aren’t “truly dangerous” enough for you?

          1. Expat

            Look, I don’t like Bush. I would have cheered wildly if he had died of pancreatic cancer (except that then Darth Cheney would have been president). But despite all his massacring, killing, torturing, and generally being an asshole, I don’t have the impression he was any more than a drunk frat boy who stole the keys to the college lawnmower and went nuts on the landscaping. That does not excuse his behavior. I will not rehabilitate or pardon Shrub.

            Trump is killing thousands by maintaining the wars he promised to end. He is attempting to get into a war with Venezuela, he is provoking North Korea, and he is enabling Russia.

            I won’t defend Bush, but I won’t exonerate Trump simply because he has not personally slaughtered thousands.

            You are being dishonest and unfair with my opinions and twisting them. I don’t appreciate it.

            1. Hamford

              I am not twisting your words. I applied one quantitative sniff test to your proclamation that one is evil and the other not. I am not going to rely on an impression of someone as a drunken fratboy, impetulant school yard brat, or smooth talking saxaphonist to sway my opinion of concrete numbers, in this case “evil” decisionmaking as quantified by casualty counts at home and abroad. And yes the foreign death and displacement continued (or increased) under Obama and now Trump (although Syria drawdown appears possible), but the American soldier “boots on the ground” skin in the game has been supplanted by secretive drone strikes.

              Your reliance on narrative and impressions rather than quantative metrics to inform your evil radar is reminiscient of current MSM techniques:

              “But Trump snatches hundreds babies from mothers” …. ok who perpetuated the architecture which enables separation of tens of thousands of families?

              “But Trump sends scores of refugees away from the airport”… ok who via regime change policymaking created millions of refugees?

              Anyways, not trying to be dishonest, just applying a numerical sniff test.

              1. Expat

                Fine. You can measure evil any way you choose. I personally would objectively measure Bush’s presidency and consequently him as evil based on the actions and inactions of his administration. But I don’t see George W. Bush as someone who, apart from a few individuals he held a personal grudge against. as the same kind of sociopath as Nixon, Kissinger, Kennedy or Trump.

                How do you define evil anyway. Are CEO’s of the major banks evil? They are certainly arch-criminals who stole hundreds of billions but did they knowingly kill thousands? Probably not. Yet their actions led to thousands of deaths. What about CEO of oil companies? Or car companies? What about arms manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies? Evil or not.

                I rely on narrative and impressions because not all evil people are mass murderers. By your metric, there is not a single US president who was not an evil man except for Donald Trump. They all slaughtered thousands, sometimes millions. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln is, as the Southerners believe, the most evil president in history because he killed 620,000 American soldiers and thousands of civilians.
                Nice metric you got there.

                1. WobblyTelomeres

                  Truman tops my list of most evil president for the simple fact that he dropped nukes.

                2. Hamford

                  Well we can get in to “just war” theory, and many would not consider the federal involvement in the Civil War as unjust, while most Americans today would categorically think that W’s Iraq War was unjust. Casualties created in an unjust war could be considered results of “evil”.

                  So you declared that the Bush administration was evil, but Bush himself was not because fratboy or whatever. Who cares! Bush by ignorance or whatever reason,was the final decision-maker on an evil war that caused/is causing hundreds of thousands of casualties.

                  Focusing on the evil of the person based on your impressions rather than the policy or administration’s concrete results is surely friendly material for MSM pundits, but not effective to analyze the damage that our leaders do. You can play your reality show format, “I don’t like so and so because he is a schoolyard bully”. I will focus on the actual policy and quantitative damage being done.

                  And yes Obama who foreclosed Millions and monopolist CEOs who extract rents from the vulnerable in society are committing evil – whether they are “good” people who have four kids and go to church is completely irrelevant.

                3. Charlie

                  “Fine. You can measure evil any way you choose”

                  Sounds an awful lot like “Your mileage may vary.” Or your definition of evil is a bit biased.

                  1. Anonymous

                    that mean’s by the fruits of their actions, correct? not their descendants? Because with W. Bush and Donald we could be discussing either.

        3. kareninca

          Trump is not desperately seeking approval from rich WASPS. He could have had that approval very easily if he’d wanted; in a heartbeat. For whatever reason he didn’t care about that approval. I guess you don’t know much about that social set. And he TRULY does not care (and never has cared) about getting the approval of the “educated elite”; LOL, what are you smoking?

          1. Expat

            You apparently know little about the history of Donald Trump. Do you think that is how approval is earned? by demanding it? Is this Donald Trump by any chance?

            1. kareninca

              I’m waiting for an actual refutation here. I”m not even a Trump supporter, but it is funny to see people claim things about him that patently aren’t true. There are enough problematic things about him that are true. But, if you want to make up stories to explain things to yourself, that’s okay; no harm done in the real world.

            2. Yves Smith

              Making shit up is against our written site Policies, and then you double down and insult karenica since you can’t defend your bogus claims on the merits. You are treading on thin ice.

              I live in New York, watched the rise of Trump, and had a major NYC real estate developer as a client. I should not have to explain that Trump has zero interest in the approval of rich WASPs because it is obvious. If he did, he would have acted like the social climbers of the 1980s (new rich Wall Street money, from John Gutfreund’s wife Susan Gutfreund, to Henry Kravis, then less rich than now) who took New York by storm. The held super lavish parties by old New York money standards, but oh so tastefully done. They gave big money to the right upscale charities. They bought places in the Hamptons and partied with the right people there.

              Trump has done none of that. Crass and loud and decorating with gold and marrying swimsuit models earns you disapproval of rich WASPs. WASPs across the board see him as a vulgar parvenu, and they are right.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                If I ever get to New York City again, I will have to go see Trump Tower and see if it is an example of the architectural style which Tom Wolfe once referred to as . . . ” hog-stomping baroque”.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    I should look up those old strips for a guidebook. Still . . . immersing oneself in the real thing conveys a sense of the real thing which no guidebook can fully convey.

                    By the way, I will have to visit Fort Ralph Lauren as well. Look at what sort of books they strew artfully about the showrooms to see if they have any uniting theme in their book selection.

              2. UserFriendly

                Agreed it was an MSM narrative that Trump was stewing in his rejection from the NYC social scene though.

    3. JBird

      Venezuela is failing in part because of interference from allied American and rightist/rich Venezuelan interests including the sabotage of oilfield machinery by their operators, financial warfare, and illegal political moves. The country’s innate corruption does not help of course, but its problems have extremely worsened deliberately.

      1. Lord Koos

        Bingo. I’m certain there have been covert ops going on in Venezuela for some years.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      How much of Venezuela’s “oil” is really oil? Versus how much of it is really sandy tar-sand tar?

  6. PlutoniumKun

    We’re ready to go in: Dive team are set for Thai cave rescue in race to beat monsoon as boys’ strength is first built up again Daily Mail. Not sure why the cave can’t be pumped dry; Thailand is subject to flooding, so presumably they have the tech. Or not?

    The cave is in an enormous region of active karst limestone. Karstic limestone is like swiss cheese, specifically swiss cheese where all the holes connect, as they are all made by the dissolution of limestone over millions of years running through natural planes and cracks in the limestone deposits. The water level within a cave will essentially be the surrounding groundwater level, which in a limestone area is always highly seasonal as water flows through karst much quicker than any other geology except perhaps clean gravel deposits. In Ireland there are open karst lakes several miles from the sea that rise and fall with the tides, the connections are so open. The only way to map the flows is by using dyes or radioactive tracers.

    This means that almost all the caves in a very vast region will be interconnected with flow channels (note – these are like free-flowing pipes so pumping one out, or even one chamber out, essentially can mean pumping out every single cave over hundreds, perhaps thousands, of square miles. So unless you are very lucky and the connecting caves or channels are blocked up or are at a higher level than the chamber, dewatering a limestone cave in a monsoon region can be in practical terms impossible, you are essentially trying to lower the groundwater level over an area of hundreds of square miles.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks so much for your ongoing analysis of the situation, Vlade. There is a live feed on the Guardian but your comments here at NC are how I know what is really going on with those boys in the cave.

      Another reason NC is my daily go-to.

      Not to mention the recent conversation on MMT.

      And today (haven’t read them yet but after the farmer’s market will dig in) all those (un)lovely links on the Surveillance State, which btw I humbly propose could well be a category of its own.

      1. HotFlash

        Um, that was Pu-kun. So much expertise in the NC commentariat, it’s hard to keep track.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          oops sorry–thanks PK and Vlade for his earlier input as a technical diver.

          That’s what you call an embarrassment of riches…

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not a specialist but my work involves a lot of interaction with hydrogeologists here in Ireland. That region of south east Asia is full of the exact same stuff as underlies Ireland – Carboniferous limestone, they just haven’t had lots of ice ages to flatten it like in the Burren.

    2. bob

      Karstic limestone is like swiss cheese

      Also the same reason pumping air in to ‘pressurize’ the cave won’t work. There is no containment of the air.

      1. Oregoncharles

        FWIW, that was not the proposal, which was to use a nylon tube big enough to move the kids through.

        Not necessarily practical, esp. in the next few days, but not totally ignorant, either.

    3. Synoia

      The cave containing the boys might also be below water level. That is, the boys are in an air-pocket.

      The Musk pipe is a clever idea. Until the clever idea has to be built. Bit like hyper-loop, which requires a good vacuum (that is very good seals), over a huge area, where part of the area is not-stable rock (tectonic rock).

      If hyper-loop be built, there will be an accident where the lucky riders get squished into paste. Lucky because it will be a sudden death.

    4. Lord Koos

      Having spent a summer in Thailand, which is their rainy season, we saw firsthand how the monsoon brings unbelievably heavy rains in a short amount of time. It’s possible that the air pocket they are in could disappear if the rains are too heavy, which is likely one reason they want to get them out ASAP. But the plan of getting the kids out of a pitch-black cave full of water when they can’t even swim seems insanely risky.

      1. Yves Smith

        We linked in Links to a video of a former SEAL on CNN who’d done cave diving. He was adamant that bringing the boys (or anyone not trained) out was nuts, that there were pumps capable of pumping at the rate of 1000 gallons a minute as well as methods for limiting the flow of water into the caves (as in dams) and they should be airlifting them in, that having the boys dive should be absolutely the last resort

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I didn’t see that link, but I’d question whether this is possible. Most northern hemisphere engineers (and cavers) will only have experience of paleokarst – i.e. karstic systems that are no longer active or are only semi-active – the smaller channels will have blocked up over the years. In an active karst system such as you get in SE Asia (due to the high humidity and very high rainfall), it would be almost impossible to pump a cave out, there would be too many flow channels, it would be like trying to pump a major river in flood dry. Its not like an aquifer in conventional geology, its free flowing water through an almost infinite three dimensional network of channels. The water is not coming into a cave like that from one source, its coming from multiple sources so there is often no clear and obvious flow to dam. This is something thats often poorly understood even by ‘experts’ who lack practical experience of karst. I’ve many times seen groundwater behaviour models designed for conventional geology applied to karst in situations where they are entirely inappropriate.

          Localised grouting (pumping concrete in at high pressure to plug up voids and channels) is possible if you have good knowledge of the local system, but given the depth of those caves and the lack of basic mapping knowledge, I think it would be an extremely difficult and risky operation. Grouting is usually a ‘blind’ operation, you can only pump and hope for the best. You might actually make things worse (the pressures involved can force underground gasses through voids – I know of a case in England where mine gas was accidentally ejected into someone basement during a grouting operation).

          A former colleague of mine was considered one of the worlds foremost independent experts on the hydrogeology of karst limestone – he had many amusing stories of disasters caused by engineers refusing to believe that water behaved differently in karst landscapes than in the usual rocks familiar to them, often to the enormous expense of their clients.

          Karst is quite common in Thailand – this is one area where I’d trust the judgements of local experts over and above outsiders. I’d be very surprised if the engineers available to the Thais were overlooking something obvious about how to seal off and drain those caves (although having said that, all sorts of strange things happen in Thailand).

          1. Yves Smith

            He was not proposing to pump the cave out, or at least that is what I inferred from the short remarks.

            He was proposing to use pumps outside to keep the water from rising further in the cave, so the boys could be supplied and kept there until the water receded when rainy season was over. That was why he mentioned dams.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      I begin to wonder whether they should maybe consider a version of how those Chilean copper mine cave-in copper miners were rescued. Get the right kind of vertical hole-drilling equipment right over the cave and drill vertically down to it to create a vertical escape shaft.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Nine Things I Learned When I Became a Honeymoon Planner for Billionaires”

    I recognize this. Back in 1941 the author Robert Heinlein wrote a story called “—We Also Walk Dogs” which was about a corporation called ‘General Services’ with a totally flat management structure. It could do everything for you that was legal. It could do your shopping, supply a host for an exclusive party, find an escort or gigolo, supply a luxury jet with on-call doctors and masseurs – anything, while clipping out a fee. No job was too large or too small and individuals, corporations and countries used their services. It could outfit the next expedition to Pluto or walk your dog for you. The Ovation Vacations mentioned here would be precisely the sort of company that this ‘General Services’ would have on tap.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the NBA, a lot of guys who are 6’8″ or something like that would claim he is a seven-footer.

      I’m curious how many billionaires are billionaires and not due to some an intentional round-up error.

      And would calling someone a six-hundred-millionaire make him/her more ruthless, more motivated in order to get into that exclusive club?

  8. Jim Haygood

    To save time-burdened readers the toil of plowing through dense paragraphs of dusty historical theorizing, here is the core of “The Politics of Food in Venezuela,” buried about halfway down in the gauzy grey clouds of verbiage:

    The same items missing from shelves have continued to be found in restaurants. In the underground economy goods such as corn flour are sold at a steep markup. While individuals have turned such practices into business opportunities, private enterprises have done so as well, both by hoarding goods for speculative purposes and by smuggling them across the Colombian border. The regular discovery of stockpiles further suggests that goods have been intentionally diverted from supermarket shelves.

    Confronted with these acknowledged facts, and adding some others unacknowledged (or unknown) by the author, what would ol’ Henry Hazlitt (author of Economics in One Lesson) diagnose?

    1. What is the difference between restaurants and supermarkets in Venezuela? Price controls: retail prices in supermarkets are strictly regulated at a fraction of the market price; whereas restaurants have some latitude to pass on the market price of food.

    2. Though smuggling is illegal, when deeply underpriced Venezuelan staple foods can be sold at a markup of five to ten times across the border in Colombia, food disappears from Venezuelan shelves.

    3. Inflation induces hoarding.

    Price fixing causes shortages,” Henry Hazlitt observed in 1946 as wartime controls continued to hamstring the US economy. Substitute “food” for “nails,” and it’s deja vu in Venezuela:

    I wish the real world would just stop hassling me‘ — Nick Maduro Matchbox 20

    1. Alejandro

      A problem with cherry-picking simplism, is the intellectual dishonesty or laziness, that doesn’t mind the missing, excluded and ignored context. All to fit a surreal view of “reality”, seemingly unaware of the dogmatically imposed blinders, of “free” market ideology. A “view” that portends that you ignore the power of monopolies, oligopolies, monopsonies and oligopsonies to control supply chains, “because ‘free’ markets!”…If you had read the rest of the piece, you would have learned the stories of people unwilling to “go die, because markets”. A context missing, excluded and ignored by a corporate media that peddles propaganda, while posturing as “journalism”.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Ask yourself why poorer nearby countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia have no food shortages or fleeing people, while Venezuela does.

        Venezuela’s comprehensive price controls do not exist in Ecuador or Bolivia. It’s a problem of concrete policy, not abstract context.

        When the Maduro government is finally replaced, price controls will be lifted and food will reappear in Venezuelan supermarkets as if a light switch were flipped on.

        1. Alejandro

          There’s a lot of implied control in your “light switch” metaphor, yet the context seems blurry. You obviously didn’t bother to read the full article, and can’t refute any of the concrete points made, outside the psittacism of “free” market ideology. Ecuador and Bolivia have their own problems, but in this specific thread they mostly seem like red herrings to distract from you seemingly not willing to read the full article and engage honestly.

          1. bronco

            south america is a mess , it needs a new Simon Bolivar , North america is a mess it needs a new ……………….. I’m drawing a blank

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                I think bronco meant Simon Bolivar the man, not the coin.

                So perhaps one could fill the blank bronco is drawing with . . . FDR? Or some other well-remembered US historical figure?

                ( And since Canada is not the mess that America is, Canada doesn’t really need to search for such a figure).

                1. Charlie

                  My mistake. And yep, a new FDR. At least the one who bragged about earning the hatred of the rich, not the one who was led into WWII.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, I don’t know where else FDR and we could have been led ( unless you accept the theory, which I don’t, that FDR left Pearl Harbor undefended on purpose as bait for the Japanese so they would attack us into the war).

                    Then too, Hitler declared war on the US without reason beyond sentiment ( ” our ally Japan”) and that brought us in too.

                    Its not like with America’s Most Evil President ( Woodrow Wilson) who did indeed lie, manipulate and connive America into World War One . . . on the wrong side, some would say.

                    1. Wukchumni

                      Our aircraft carriers being away on a field trip on the day of infamy, has always left an odd feeling in my mind that the rest in Pearl Harbor ensconced on ships were so many sacrificial lambs, to lure us in.

          2. ObjectiveFunction

            Señor, you win the internet today for “psittacism”.

            I only know what it means because of the dinosaur.

        2. Plenue

          You’re essentially arguing that Venezuela isn’t allowing supermarkets to fleece hungry customers, and that this is a bad thing.

          “Because markets, go die.”

    2. John k

      The worst thing is the twin exchange rate… cheap dollars for cronies, dear ones for everybody else.

      1. Jim Haygood

        On Thursday El Pais featured an article on Venezuela’s incoherent prices:

        Maduro recently tripled the minimum wage to three million bolivars, equivalent to less than a dollar a month. With the food supplement, the minimum wage rises to 5.2 million, but it is still measly, just over one euro per month. Practically it doesn’t serve to buy food, but it buys gasoline in abundance because a liter costs only 6 bolivars.

        Fuel remains at the same price as in 2016, the first time in 20 years that its price was raised. Hyperinflation has left that price symbolic — gas is virtually free; the only cost is the tip given to the employee at the service station. A liter of 95 octane costs 6 bolívars, as seen in the photo of a gas pump in Caracas. That means that the equivalent of one euro could buy about 700,000 liters of gasoline [several lifetimes worth for most drivers — JH].

        Such gross mispricing can’t be rationalized as social solidarity. It’s an open tap from the public coffers, bankrupting the country for no discernible reason other the incompetence of the authorities and their idée fixe that the bolivar is still worth a dime, when in fact it takes 3.5 million bolivars to buy one US dollar.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      One would hope that not all NC readers are contemptuous of history, or too lazy to cope with a long read. Of the many highly informative points made in the article, I found this useful:

      In Venezuela today, as in Chile in the 1970s, U.S. intervention relies on an ongoing counterrevolutionary effort, with elites using the revolutionary potential of the masses to frighten the middle class.40 This brings us to another key feature of the present conjuncture: the class dynamics of the street protests, characterized as “food riots” in the dominant narrative, particularly in the latest and most intense round in 2017. While the food lines began to appear in 2013, they grew over time, and are widely considered a key factor in the transfer of control of the National Assembly from the chavistas to an opposition majority under the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) at the end of 2015. Among MUD’s campaign strategies had been its “La Ultima Cola” (The Last Line) commercial, depicting dissatisfied people standing in the “last line” they would have to endure, should they vote for the MUD, which once in power would do away with the lines forever.41 Of particular note was the working-class slant of the commercial, with the demographic composition of the people in the line reflective of the majority of the population, in contrast to the party’s wealthier, whiter base. It did not take long for the MUD to return to this base, however, upon its electoral ascent, with the Second Vice President of the new National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, openly calling for “the people” (that is, MUD supporters) to take to the streets, “until the only option of the dictatorship would be to accept the less traumatic solution.”42

      An array of demonstrations ensued, from peaceful resistance to acts of violence. Though portrayed in the media as nationwide, the actions were largely limited to the wealthiest areas of a few cities, and ranged from street barricades and vandalism to picnics and barbecues to candlelight vigils to physical assaults to the hurling of “poopootovs” of human feces.43 But among this seemingly disparate set of tactics, protesters took precise aim on certain fronts, including a systematic attack on state-run social programs, such as the burning of buses providing subsidized public transportation and vandalism of public health facilities.44 Especially hard hit was the state agrifood apparatus, as the National Institute of Nutrition was set ablaze, laboratories for the production of ecological farming inputs were vandalized, and supplies destined for government food programs were burned—including one on the order of 40 tons of food—along with vehicles associated with these programs.45

      What it takes to keep “free markets” “free” is more visible at some times than others. In this case, the enforcement of a supply chain that does not allow Venezuela food sovereignty, to the benefit of an enormous local food monopolist. (We like food sovereignty up here in colonized Maine, so I’m sympathetic.)

    4. Plenue

      Ah yes, the supermarkets run by reactionary elites who have wanted to turn back the revolution for decades are deciding to not sell food because of evil price controls. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

  9. Carolinian

    Re Comrade Bezos–I’d say this article greatly exaggerates Amazon’s “efficiency.” After all many of Bezos’ enthusiasms are quite goofy–those drones–or like the Fire phone are badly designed to compete in their category. As many around here have pointed out it’s really AWS that is holding the company up. The central Amazon premise was always that everything in the world can be sold via mail order and eventually, they hope, only by mail order and this obviously impractical idea could only take off through the old fashioned means of tax evasion to soften the blow of those shipping fees. While Bezos, like Musk, had thought that automation of his warehouses would eventually bring decisive efficiencies to make this idea more practical that so far hasn’t happened. You could say those put upon warehouse workers, like the onetime Southern work force, are seen as an unfortunate necessity in the pursuit of megalomania.

  10. oh

    We’re ready to go in: Dive team are set for Thai cave rescue in race to beat monsoon as boys’ strength is first built up again Daily Mail. Not sure why the cave can’t be pumped dry; Thailand is subject to flooding, so presumably they have the tech. Or not?

    If there’s an easy solution, the first reaction is to ignore it. Why not give it a try? If the pumps have high capacity, the kids can wade out before it re-fills

    1. edmondo

      Why don’t they just send in one of those self-driving cars? As long as the kids aren’t walking through the cave with a bicycle they ought to be safe.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      The Thai are already pumping the caves, and getting a few cms of drawdown for their effort. As PK noted, its a wormhole-ridden warren in carbonate rock. The best drill down location on the Daily Mail cutaway map looks like a typical sinkhole, and it bottoms over a kilometer above the cave.

      The Thai are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Either they risk experienced men’s lives to resupply the stranded team for ~4 months, or they take a guaranteed loss of life while divers escort the boys out.

  11. Jim Haygood

    War by other means, as it were:

    “Trump’s soundest argument in his election campaign was that he would not waste American lives and treasure in pointless wars of choice,” wrote Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute in March.

    His launching a trade war would prove, however, to be his economic Afghanistan — costly, open-ended, and fruitless.

    Soybean futures prices have fallen 15 percent since May 25 in anticipation of the Chinese retaliatory tariffs. With a stiff tax on soybean imports, American farmers will face lower demand from overseas and a hit to their incomes.

    Richard Nixon opened the Soviet Union to US farmers, producing the glorious “beans in the teens” summer of 1973. Forty-five years on, the soybean price now is lower than then, despite a sixfold increase in the CPI.

    Donald Hoover-Trump is a throwback to the pre-Depression, Fordney-McCumber, Smoot-Hawley roots of the liquidationist Republican party. Dog willing, this know-nothing one-termer will freeze the R party out of the presidency for another 20 years as his namesake did, if not kill it off entirely.

    If I had a tractor, I’d rumble it down Pennsylvania Avenue with the manure spreader wide open.

        1. clarky90

          Such a deep passion for the Soybean!

          Many of us (myself included) avoid Soy like the plague.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Tragic that American farmers will sell for 15% less, and many will lose their farms.

      Equally, or more, tragic, is that many Chinese might starve due to more expensive or more scarce tofu.

      Do they ask, across the Pacific, Mr. Xi to give up his tariffs on soybeans?

      Will there be protests in Tiananmen?

      1. nippersdad

        Help appears to be on the way!

        The rationale for all of this seems strange, though. An already heavily subsidized industry being further subsidized in an attempt to penalize another country for subsidizing their industries. If, as usual, this just ends up being yet another honeypot for Big Ag at the expense of small holders then it will prolly end up backfiring on Trump. Hard to run on protectionism when you are ultimately the problem.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Learn from your trade-war opponent.

          In this case, the Chinese invented ‘strategic reserves’ long before our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Not again!)

          From a search on Google (Luoyang ancient granary discovered):


          Although in this case, we can only keep our them in the Strategic Soybean Reserve for about 6 months.

      2. JTMcPhee

        I’m curious about the bigger picture, beyond spot prices and availability of soybeans. First, these are the product, and I use that word advisedly, of Big Ag, produced by all the destructive inputs — fuel, chemical fertilizer, pesticides, GM seeds, runoff and soil depletion, not-repairable-by-farmers tractors and other farm implements. Next, the mope “farmers” at the bottom of the supply chain, are they like the children being ripped from their parents’ arms at the border? Such that we, all us humans, should keep on “supporting” the kind of “trade” that requires ships belching the combustion byproducts of burning bunker crude, and all the rest of the supply chain that is the result of globalization? And worrying about all the investors who have places their bets on this or that position in the “market” that so well serves us all (serves us up as dinner for the rentiers of the world)?

        Too bad “farmers,” like the rest of us, well, Cargill and ADM are not really like the rest of us, can’t organize to push back on the huge cuts that middlemen and suppliers of chemicals and all that take off the value of the “product.” As they do with all the other agricultural products.

        Maybe some kind of lessons might be drawn, out of this situation, other than bruising that shibboleth that anyone impacting “trade” is just another HooverSmootHawleyomigodnotagain, irrespective of what actually happened in that frame? Yes, autarky ain’t gonna happen. But who gets rich, at what expense, including shedding all the externalities of “trade,” in the way the current world political economy operates? And who gets starved and impoverished? And what are the long-term prospects for the species, if the people who run things currently, for their benefit, can keep on doing so?

        Oh, but we must maintain stability in this one corner of the “market,” because so many other “investments” might be threatened by an uncontrolled flight into terrain?

        1. John k

          Not many little farmers growing soy. Lots of unemployed in the nidwest that have been screwed by globalization.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          Thank you for this most excellent rant. I was considering one myself, but I’ll just ditto yours.

          51 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is exported annually.

          But america / americans experience 100% of the environmental degradation, and stand 100% of the cost of remediation, to the extent that any is possible or done at all. For an “industry” that cannot “afford” to employ american workers or comply with american labor or environmental law. And all while 40 million american children are food insecure on any given day.

          Such an economic “bargain,” worthy of all the “free trade” angst a dishonest, oligarch-controlled media can generate!

          No one seemed to have the slightest concern about shrinking the manufacturing sector of this economy to nothing over the last several decades. Those whose livelihoods were outsourced were expected to adapt for the “good” of the “economy.” I see no reason why the same should not be expected of the big ag “farmers.” Let the Brazilians stand the costs of feeding the Chinese. We’re a “knowledge” economy now.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        The soybeans in question are not for tofu, sauce, miso, etc. They are agribulk commodity industrial soybeans for feeding livestock. In China I believe that would be mainly chickens and pigs.

  12. JTMcPhee

    From the Soros link via the Grauniad:

    Soros’s hopes in the EU, however, were quickly dashed by three crises that undercut the union’s stability: the ever-deepening international recession, the refugee crisis, and Vladimir Putin’s revanchist assault on norms and international law. While Soros believed western nations could theoretically mitigate these crises, he concluded that, in a repetition of the failures of the post-Soviet period, they were unlikely to band together to do so. In the last 10 years, Soros has been disappointed by the facts that the west refused to forgive Greece’s debt; failed to develop a common refugee policy; and would not consider augmenting sanctions on Russia with the material and financial support Ukraine required to defend itself after Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. He was further disturbed that many nations in the EU, from the UK to Poland, witnessed the re-emergence of a rightwing ethnonationalism thought lost to history. Once Britain voted to leave the union in 2016, he became convinced that “the disintegration of the EU [was] practically irreversible”. The EU did not serve as the model Soros hoped it would. So more “Putin did it,” and “The West” should have ramped up the sanctions on Russia and armed those nice people in Ukraine so they could “protect themselves.” Shows to go that even billionaires are hardly geniuses when it comes to offered up grand solutions to the effects of humanity’s bad propensities.

    And about “Tech” in the Army: Wow, let us turn loose our inventive troops to figure out ways to counter those Wogs’ daring to use small, commercially available drones and radios controlled aircraft, like this,, to attack/defend against those sacred Imperial Troopers who have so righteously invaded said Wogs’ countries, kicked in the doors of and demolished their homes, overturned their governments and institutions, oh, and in keeping with the current meme, “killed all those children and separated other dear children from their families”? All while arming and training those “moderate rebels” that keep the bloodshed and bombing going, when they are not switching allegiances in pursuit of personal gain? Does no one ask why the Empire is doing this sh!t, and whether it might be best to cut it the heck out? Must find a tech solution, smart young people attempting to fill in tactically where the strategic idiocy has driven the Humvee into the ditch…

    They did this stuff when I was in Vietnam too, figuring out how to add armor to helicopters and also how to fit more guns and rockets and such to airframes like the UH-1. All in aid of what, again? So I can read banner ads in NC about “Investment Opportunities In Vietnam,” and go to Walmart and buy pants and shirts made by coolie labor in that same Vietnam?

    1. Synoia

      I would have thought that a small reading of the history of Europe over the last millennia would dissuade one from believing:

      Soros has been disappointed by the facts that the west refused to forgive Greece’s debt; failed to develop a common refugee policy; and would not consider augmenting sanctions on Russia with the material and financial support Ukraine required to defend itself after Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. He was further disturbed that many nations in the EU, from the UK to Poland, witnessed the re-emergence of a rightwing ethnonationalism thought lost to history

      Basically he was hoping for German flexibility, British humbleness, and a total absence of self-interest and no hatred of “the others” next door.

      Or trying to push an European electrical plug into a British socket, or vice versa.

      1. oh

        Soros probably had made currency bets which didn’t come through and he’s not too happy.

    2. ewmayer

      “Vladimir Putin’s revanchist assault on norms and international law.”

      As Lambert likes to say, invocation of the “norms fairy” is a surefire establishment-propaganda tell here. I don’t recall the Western MSM hueing and crying about ‘norms’ any of the violent assaults on other sovereign states by the ‘free democratic nations’ post-WW2.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets Vanity Fair

    This relates to how knowledge is applied.

    We know better today than yesterday when we applied our not-as-good-then knowledge, acting as if, (and thinking), at the time, we knew all potential regrets and we had addressed them.

    More exasperating is the fact that we have always told ourselves and others that knowledge is always provisional.

    It’s similar to saying to everyone that to understand your fake news opponents, you have to start with fake news and then read read real news later and do your own analysis, but in fact, you often just read the fake news, and stop there.

    And to ask Berners-Lee what he could have done to avoid those regrets may be a bit premature at this time, because 1) there may be other (or more) regrets we are not aware of yet, 2) the current known regrets may not yet have fully manifested themselves…because, well, our knowledge is provisional, so we allow this possibility, as always…knowledge provisional, conclusions premature.

    1. Parker Dooley

      1) there may be other (or more) regrets we are not aware of yet, 2) the current known regrets may not yet have fully manifested themselves…because, well, our knowledge is provisional, so we allow this possibility, as always…knowledge provisional, conclusions premature.

      Well, doesn’t that sort of describe the “scientific method”? (As well as most of life)?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Yes, it’s like most of life.

        Something to remind ourselves, everywhere and all the time, even as our applications and experiments get bigger and more powerful, if not quite at the Big Bang level of power, which, though, might still motivate not just a few believers.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Debunking the First Piece of Nonsense in Skripal 2.0”

    In cases of suspected chemical attacks the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is supposed to be notified and a team of experts sent in. During the first incident, the UK waited about a fortnight to do so which would have allowed traces of any chemicals to be washed away by weather incidentally. Anybody know if the OPCW has been called in for this second incident? I have seen no mention of them whatsoever. Strange that.

  15. Jean

    Bothersome bystanders…

    The Professor is advocating for the same kind of loss of civil liberties that the car industry foisted off on Americans in the 1920s. Look at old photographs of towns and cities. People parked automobiles the same way that they had parked wagons-haphazardly.

    Where streets were once made for people to transit between businesses and their homes, the automobile industry began a campaign to influence legislatures and the gullible public to allow streets to become the exclusive domain of cars. Thus was born the concept of “jaywalking,” a punishable offense. Next came the marked crosswalks, then the obedience of humans forced to wait for a light atop a pole to allow them freedom of movement within these narrow strips of sanctioned territory only upon which they were forced to walk to allow preference for cars to pass.

    Now it looks like we will arrive at a situation where humans will be legally obliged to pause, stop, look and listen at every alley and driveway to await the passage of a self driven car or truck. Tickets will be issued to pedestrians who do not give way to AI.

    No F’ing way! I am one of those cantankerous people who kick cars that pass in front of me in a crosswalk when they don’t yield to me, which is the law in California. Can’t wait to inflict all manner of creative vandalism and interference on self driven vehicles.

    1. Synoia

      A simple solution is that practiced by the railways….fixed routes. Even those are pray to accidents.

      I must seek a self-driving programming gig. Employment for life and “its working to specification” defense.

      Those specifications will become interesting reading in court cases.

    2. Carolinian

      “Get a horse”? Believe that was the battle cry of yore.

      And the article is straw manning to a degree. What the professor is really saying is that if we are going to hold automated drivers to a higher standard than human drivers (i.e. no traffic deaths at all) then we may have to enforce more rules against jaywalkers etc. Other alternatives would be to confine robot driving to special streets and lanes or to forget the whole thing.

      The author rather flippantly suggests that if we are going to start enforcing traffic rules then we won’t need robot cars for safety anyway because those 35,000 highway deaths will go away. But the reality is that interest in greater car automation (and we already have quite a lot…some of us remember chokes and still drive using clutches) can bring benefits beyond the extreme inner city driving case being pushed by Silicon Valley. The technology is not frivolous, even if some of the suggested uses may be.

  16. Jean

    Top (ten) Democrats:

    10. Dow Jones Jr. A financial services reporter and Wall Street puppet.
    9. Eric “Place” Holder. The best friend bankers and financial parasites ever had.
    8. Hillary’s handler–“I’m ready for my closeup Mr. Mcauliffe.”
    7. The Great Black Nope.
    6. Kirsten Rodham Clinton.
    5. Cory Wall Street Play Booker.
    4. Biden his time Bankrupting Students.
    3. Kamala Done Nothing Embarrass.
    2. Elizabeth Defrost Warren. How about abolishing DHS and the Patriot Act?
    1. Not a Democrat and too old Bernie who would be president were it not for the Democrats.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Abolishing the Patriot Act?

      Not a chance (of finding advocacy among candidates anywehre) if victims are mostly Americans, with or without children.

    1. flora

      Astro-turfing at its finest.

      I recommend both the FT- Jaron Lanier article and the Baffler-EFF article.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        I’d ‘recommend’ the Baffler EFF article with a large rock of salt. It’s a long read and a manipulative one. The essential thesis of the piece is that EFF is a captured entity, owned by the high lords of Silicon Valley. There’s an argument to made that this is true.

        Howevah…. I don’t share the author’s deep sympathy with copyright holders. That’s an interest group that is utterly dominated by large infotainment media conglomerates, not little individual creators. He was terrifically disingenuous on the issue of power imbalance between copyright holders and big tech. Which makes me question the validity of other parts of his article.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Wow, having bought into the idea of the EFF as heroic, I thought this was today’s must read (FT is firewalled):

          Neck-deep in Silicon Valley funding, it didn’t matter if these groups were affiliated with the Democratic Party or the Koch Republican lobbying network. They all pushed slight variations of the same old business rhetorical strategy, turning people against the regulation of powerful corporate interests by invoking the specter of Big Brother authoritarianism.

          You have a point about who the actual copyright holders are, but transferring control even if from corporate publishers to Big Tech hardly seems like a win for the common man to me, since that’s just more data for them to exploit.

          As a latecomer to Gmail, the controversy over its introduction in 2004 (so recently..!) was fascinating. The failure to regulate it then is huge in terms of the open season on everyone’s data the internet has become.

          I like Yasha Levine; his piece, linked here, on Google in Oakland partnering with law enforcement was chilling.

          No more donations to EFF from me.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Noting though that the LARB article reviews the Levine argument that Google was a tool of the military from the start and makes a good case this smacks of conspiracy theory.

            Not to say we aren’t there now.

          2. Carla

            ChiGal — I have been able to get thru the FT firewall by putting the exact headline into Google — it’s the only thing I use Google for. Otherwise, I’m a Startpage user (I use it — as far as I know, it doesn’t use me).

          3. Carolinian

            Gmail claims it no longer uses email texts for targeted ads. But they were never secretive about what they were doing and it was in the terms of service.

            As for Levine, thanks for pointing to the Los Angeles Review of Books article which I had missed. Levine’s book Surveillance Valley is currently popular but the truth is that there is a difference between private spying for the purpose of selling you something and government spying for more sinister purposes. The notion that the cure for the Internet is still more government involvement is dubious at best–particularly since, as the LARB points out, Levine’s “proof” of SV perfidy is very thin. Deep State conspiracy theories are not usually encouraged around here at least.

            Indeed, without all those Silicon Valley pioneers there might not even be a “here.” Computers empower big corporations and the government but also their users who often assert that power by hacking the big corporations.and government. Levine’s notion that we are just passive victims doesn’t accord with reality.

    2. Carla

      For the Real Deal, support

      Move to Amend does not (and cannot) attract big donors because big donations ALWAYS come with strings. Move to Amend does not give money to candidates who support HJR-48, the amendment to the constitution that would end corporate personhood and money as speech — instead, MTA spreads the gospel of constitutional rights for human beings only! We are now up to 58 co-sponsors, with Rick Nolan, the original sponsor making 59. Our goal for 2018 was 60 co-sponsors in the House, so we’re doing well. (I say “we” because I support MTA with regular donations and also as a very active volunteer.)

      With Tim Ryan recently joining Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge as co-sponsors, we now have 3 of the 4 Ohio Democrats in Congress on board. If you live in Joyce Beatty’s Columbus, Ohio, district, please consider giving her a call and asking her to get with the program already. Of course, it would be great to get some Republicans on board (the only one so far is Walter Jones of N. Carolina) but I won’t hold my breath on that one. Move to Amend, BTW, is strictly non-partisan.

      For those not familiar, here’s the full text of the resolution:

      1. Carla

        If it’s not obvious, I wrote about Move to Amend in response to “More on End Citizens United”

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thanks for the suggestion. The group I happened to connect with is RepresentUs. Anyone know if they are problematic like ECU?

        1. Carla

          I don’t believe they deal with constitutional rights for corporations at all, but I believe there are folks who support both Move to Amend and RepresentUs.

      3. JCC

        I have supported Move To Amend a couple of times with donations and tossed my End Citizens United into the SPAM list as well as unsubscribed some time ago.

        They send an awful lot of emails begging for money they turn around and send to the Blue Dogs. They are a very disingenuous organization.

        Keep up the Good Fight, Carla.

        1. Carla

          Thanks for the Atta ‘Girl, JCC. Move to Amend suffered a great fall-off in donations when people rushed to give $$$ to End Citizens United after Trump’s election. MTA operates on a shoe-string budget of about $500,000 a year. For a national organization, that’s peanuts, and it’s AMAZING how much they do with it. They need sustaining (monthly) donations. For those who can afford to kick in $10 or $20 a month, you won’t get more bang for your buck anywhere else except perhaps here at Naked Capitalism. NC and Move to Amend are the two organizations I personally donate to monthly.

      4. chuck gregory

        People ought to consider Vendor-Based Regulation for campaign finance reform, which negates the advantage of hitherto-overwhelming amounts of money; ends the obligation of candidates to major donors; makes violations immediately discoverable and rewards the citizenry for paying attention to campaigns (they can get rich!). Plus, the system can be implemented race-by-race; it doesn’t have to apply to all races immediately.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Making Money

    Who Is Making Money from ICE in Your State? (map) Sludge

    People benefiting monetarily from border-crossing:

    1. Coyotes
    2. Farm owners/operators
    3. vegetable eaters
    4. Prison operators
    5. Virtue signalers, not necessarily monetarily directly.

    1. Jean

      2 and 3 refer to cheap agricultural labor. 6% of illegals work thus.

      The other 94% are in all the other jobs that “Americans Don’t Want To Do”–At the low wages offered.

            1. cm

              Oh, I think the petard has missed. I acknowledge that it is in fact offensive. But don’t we both agree it is in fact a word, English being dynamic and all?

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I think it’s, as it were, borderline. Hopefully people of good will can beat back the stupid. Sometimes it works. Otherwise, we’re going to end up with brutals, centrifugals, crucials, feudals, frugals etc., all because a dim-witted few wanted to be offensive.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Thank you, Lambert.

          Biggest pet peeve: brown people trying to feed their families aren’t illegal, white people who steal from the populace on Wall Street are. Let’s use the term “Illegals” for the crooks on Wall Street, shall we?

        2. Jean

          OK, “migrants” it is.

          Here’s the cost to American consumers of raising farm wages.

          $1.76 a month for the average family. The Horror! How can we afford it?

          “Raising farm worker wages in the U.S. to $15 an hour—and annual earnings to $15,000—would represent a 47 percent wage increase. That might seem huge, but Martin says Americans spend so little on produce that it wouldn’t mean much for families’ grocery bills.

          Remember that farmworkers’ share of each U.S. household’s annual grocery bill is $45. If farm worker wages go up by 47 percent, grocery bills would go up just $21.15 a year, or $1.76 a month.”

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I have no objection to “illegal alien,” as opposed to “illegals,” when it happens to be true. Migrants and refugees as a blanket term erase that distinction.

            One can’t very well be yammering about the importance of the rule of law when one wishes to impeach Trump, for example, and then ignore it when seeking to appeal to a demographic for the midterms. That could give the appearance of inconsistency, or even a complete lack of principle.

          2. Carla

            At $15 an hour, a full-time farmworker’s annual wage would be $30,000 — and WELL WORTH IT. Maybe you meant that most farmworkers only get 20 hours a week of work? But I don’t think that was your meaning.

        3. ewmayer

          ““Illegal” isn’t a noun. Just saying.”

          Neither is “Deplorable”, for that matter.

          Just to play devil’s advocate, I would add that using “illegal” as a shorter stand-in for “illegal immigrant” has long ago entered common use, kinda like using “data” as a singular noun.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        On the other hand, it’s much easier to track the people lose money.

        1. American workers.
        2. their children, separated or together.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      1. Coyotes

      From random reading, there’s an entire industry in Latin America, with coyotes just employees. There are television ads, price lists, and so on. So it would be:

      0. Owners of trafficking busineses

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A good point.

        It’d be dereliction of duty for the capitalists there to not seize on this opportunity.

      2. marym

        Or “transporting” businesses, as defense contractors apparently consider themselves, as referenced in the Phoenix story in today’s links.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Today, the high in Phoenix will be around 113 or 114 degrees (F).

          Let’s hope that office building has AC. Likely the coyotes and their owners will not provide that, even while charging thousands of dollars each for ‘transporting.’

          “Food and drinks not included.”

          Where do the homeless in Phoenix go when it’s hot like that?

  18. Ignim Brites

    Syraqistan: There are reports that the battle for SW Syria is over and Assad won. So it is likely the Putin and Trump will negotiate a US withdrawal from Syria. The MSM will portray this as a US surrender to Russia, which it is, of course. Trump will portray it as the culmination of the US victory over ISIS and the termination of the feckless Hillary/Obama policy in Syria. Domestically it is probably a wash as the US people have no interest one way or another in what we do in Syria so long as the are no US casualties.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Pulling the US imperial member out of the gash of Syria will not be a “loss to Russia,” except to the Hounds of the Neocons. It might be properly characterized as a move in the right direction, from the standpoint of the Mopery, here and there. Though of course standing down will never completely happen there, the Game is always afoot for those whose careers and egos are so deeply inserted into it. And “conflict reduction” in one sub-Area of Responsibility (AOR) (and sic) just frees up resources, “assets” if one will, for adventures in other places. One tiny bit of the milbabble documentation of what the Imperial Forces are up to: For those who are curious about the lingo and thought processes inside what so inaccurately are called “our forces…”

  19. JBird

    A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration Crisis

    Yes, this is absolutely true and important to know. Regardless of one’s economic, religious, and social beliefs, the United States’ continued, as in it is still doing so, of engineered coups, assassinations, civil wars, genocides, torture, economic sanctions, engineered opposition, economic and military support of corrupt dictators and oligarchies, spying, and general vileness, often in support of American businesses and investors , is the single most important cause of illegal immigration. The fact that such immigration also undercuts American workers and unions is just an added incentive and bonus.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And if you recall, there was a retired US Major General named Smedley Butler, who finally recognized the difference between the schoolboy version of America he had been taught, and the reality that he the troops he commanded were nothing but thug enforcers for the “racket” of imperialism and corporate capitalism. If you haven’t read his book “War is a Racket,” listened to his speech on the topic, here’s the text:

      1. JCC

        Two of my favorite Butler quotes (neither from War Is A Racket) are:

        The Flag follows the Dollar, and the soldiers follow the Flag.

        and of course the other much more famous one is:

        During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

        Both are from a speech he gave 86 years ago, 1933. America hasn’t learned the truth of this yet, in fact we seem to have doubled-down. I’m betting we never will learn. And in the long run it will cost the country dearly.

          1. kgw

            The United States give up its essential nature? What would it be without flouting law? Even if it passes a “good” law, it flouts it! Hair on a tortoise, horns on a hare, are more likely than the United States in an equal community of nations.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Revealed: the financiers invited to dine with Donald Trump Financial News

    Are they the same financiers who think Trump (who is not the type who would forget something like that) is socially beneath them?

  21. SimonGirty

    Anyone remember Clinton’s TD Bank, pro tar-sands speech, about Rooski financed eco-terrorists… that the lefty blogs noted was rip&read Rick Berman agitprop? Well, before CTR stuffed them all with K Street hyenas?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In ‘a’ sport? Doping in rampant in numerous sports. In cycling, based on it is on a very pure measure of effort its just been more obvious and perhaps more deeply entrenched in its professional structure (where for some pro’s it was never seen as cheating, just part of the game). But the exact same Italian and Spanish doctors who brought doping in the peloton to a high art in the 1990’s now work in football and tennis (to single out two sports which go to extreme lengths to not test anyone in a meaningful manner). EPO and steroids have been rampant in track and field since the 1970’s. And as for the professional muscle and power team sports such as American Football and rugby…

      Arguably, cycling is now one of the cleanest sports in the world simply because its the one with the most intense scrutiny. The fact that Froome received such condemnation from old pros for a TUE for a drug (sambutemol) which may not even have any real effect just shows how much its changed.

      1. Carolinian

        Arguably Tour de France cycling, like other purely strength or endurance events, isn’t a sport at all. Having a body with a unique ability to take up oxygen is not the same as developing the skill to hit a ninety mile an hour fastball. It’s worth remembering that the Tour was the result of a long ago newspaper sponsorship and has always been more spectacle than anything else.

        For years Lance Armstrong’s mantra was that he “never failed a drug test.” So I’d say those crowds booing Froome are quite justified in their skepticism. Indeed some of us think Armstrong was more guilty for the lying than for the doping.

  22. BrianC

    Re: Amazon and what Jeff Bezos really wants…

    Jeff Bezos is an Empire Builder. When an Empire Builder competes against a Profit Maximizer, the Empire Builder wins every time. Right now everything in America is about being a profit maximizer. (I think I picked that up from a book Lester Thurow wrote, but I can’t find the quote.)

    I consider Jeff a highly successful sociopath. His ultimate goal in life is to ensure that the “elite” can live in luxury without *ever* having to come into physical contact with any lesser carbon based life form in the entirety of their lifetime on the planet. Never mind the pain and agony for those at the bottom of this dystopian hell. Those of a lesser station in life are to be ground into dust. That’s just the way it is, because markets!

    I suspect that empathy just doesn’t exist as a part of Jeff’s makeup.

    Exaggeration? Guess we’ll all find out soon enough, the way things are going.

    1. djrichard

      Creative destruction b***hes! And who would have guessed that the real creative element would simply be forestalling the day of reckoning on zero profit margins. At some point, the days of a company buying their way into various markets (through low-to-zero profit margins) come to an end and they have to pay out dividends (and therefore make a profit). But what if that day can be forestalled? What if you can perpetually buy your way into more and more markets using zero profit margins for each new conquest?

      Eventually this growth narrative will come to an end for Amazon. But how much will they have absorbed by then? Will Amazon have already conquered the city building biz by then (per the article)?

      By the way, I think this article pairs well with the VOX interview the other day on “Why capitalism won’t survive without socialism”.

      1. J Sterling

        I agree that asset growth must always come to an end eventually, and then the only thing to do is pay the profit as a dividend. But I disagree with the common perception that a growing company buying assets is somehow putting off the day when it has to make shareholders happy. As a shareholder, I am as happy with the share I own representing more and more value in assets as I would be if they gave me the profit as cash. If I didn’t think buying assets with the profit was a smart move, I wouldn’t have bought the share in the first place.

        I roll my eyes when I hear a growing company has supposedly “never made a profit”.

  23. DJG

    The two articles about the novichok, Salisbury, the two unfortunate “drug addicts,” and what is going on in England are worth a read. First, for the novelistic atmosphere:

    Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury is a rather lovely park. Situated next to the river, and overlooking the Water Meadows, it is a wonderful place to take an early morning stroll, and then to walk along the town path, where you get a wonderful view of the towering 13th Century gothic cathedral from the very spot where Constable painted his famous Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.

    Wonderful. This all reminds me of Edward Gorey, at least two of his mystery novels, and his marvelous character Commissioner Gwerdro Yade, of the Welsh Dairy Board. I recall the twinned plots of:

    The Case of the Venomous Door-Knob
    Lady Sophonisba Turnbuckle’s Dubious Syringe

    As a commenter pointed out here a few days back, these poisonings are like the U.S. anthrax-letter scares. So we (look lively, here, Englishpeeps) are dealing with someone on the inside of the So Secret Security State who bears a grudge. As I mentioned, it is the English Ted Kaczynski. And I’m starting to get a glimmer of a motive, which may even be anti-Brexit: Embarrassing the English permanent government, the toffs, who are usually so good at embarrassing themselves.

  24. Putinputinputin

    Shithousery: now it starts! One of the most interesting World Cups. Italy doesn’t even qualify (justly so because their tactics is based on diving), Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Spain etc are out. Was expecting the bad-mouthing of the games. Soon you will hear Putinputinputin punishing the big nations through some cunning plan.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the circuses are not entertaining, people all over the world might start thinking about bread.

  25. Carey

    Regarding today’s Antidote-cats: the put-upon look on the one in the foreground is perfect!

    It’s hard being a cat, dealing with those annoying humans…

    1. The Rev Kev

      They always seem so self-possessed. And that cat on the right almost has a Gangsta look.

  26. allan

    The Federalist Society Majority [Slate]
    The organization will soon have a 5–4 stranglehold on the Supreme Court.

    On Monday, Donald Trump is set to nominate a Supreme Court justice who is tied to the Federalist Society and who has been vetted by leaders of that group. This is precisely what Trump did when he chose Neil Gorsuch in 2017. And in doing so, he will be continuing a pattern that dates back to the George W. Bush nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito: Republican presidents not only emphasize ideology in judicial appointments but also look to the Federalist Society as the principal vehicle to identify qualified members of the conservative legal movement.

    But there is a difference this time around, one that underlines how the Supreme Court has changed. Until now, the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court have included at least one justice who did not have substantial ties to the Federalist Society. During the first years of the Roberts court, Anthony Kennedy was not tied to the group nor were David Souter or John Paul Stevens. Once Kennedy’s successor is confirmed, all five Republican appointees will have those ties. …

    At his own confirmation hearings in 2005, Chief Justice Balls-and-Strikes lied under oath about his membership.
    With the current Senate, there will be no need for next week’s nominee to do the same.

  27. Ray Johnson

    at the top of the blog space your ads are tying up my processor (50% of usage)

  28. Westcoastdeplorable

    The article on the web makes it sound like Berners-Lee “invented” the World Wide Web. What about Vint Cerf who invented the http IP protocol it runs on? Is he chopped liver? Must not be, ’cause he’s one of the top people at Alphabet-Goog

    1. Grebo

      Berners-Lee did invent the World Wide Web and its HyperText Transport Protocol. The Internet Protocol is a different, lower level. You could equally well send HTTP over some other network protocol, say UDP.

  29. The Rev Kev

    Well this is getting embarrassing. England defeated Sweden 0-2 last night and so advances to the semifinals in the FIFA world cup. They haven’t been able to do that since 1990 – nearly thirty years ago. And here are English reactions to the win from around the world-

    So why embarrassing? Because the UK government is boycotting FIFA because it is in Russia so there is not a government minister or member of the royal family in sight. So, no official England there. Ordinary English are in Russia however and are having a ball. Heck, there are supposed to be ten thousand Americans in Russia and America never even made the cut.
    If May tries to cash in on that team’s popularity when they return to England, that could backfire spectacularly. But she also can’t ignore them. Exactly the same sort of boxed-in and no-win thinking that the UK government is displaying in Brexit.

  30. ewmayer

    FYI, “The Long View: Surveillance, the Internet, and Government Research” link has a weird #! at end of it which prevents the page from loading in my browser. When I delete that char-combo, the page loads fine.

  31. John Beech

    McCain ran for President and he was my guy. W beat him like a drum and I shifted my support and voted for him twice (to my regret the second time). Fast forward to 2008 and McCain had changed. He was no longer the maverick. Maybe he mellowed. Dunno, but he wasn’t my guy any longer. Instead, I wanted Romney. Strangely, instead of selecting Romney as his running mate, McCain selected Palin. Against then Senator Obama I voted for McCain but wasn’t happy. Fast forward again, this time to 2012 and I still wanted Romney. We all know how that played out as President Obama beat him soundly. Last time around, Romney played will-he, won’t-he (run), which largely ticked me off because I felt he should have declared his intentions early. Instead he played coy and out of nowhere Trump rolled him and the rest of the field (I have a feeling that was the opening Trump needed, e.g. he never would have run had Romney declared early). My point? I’m voting for Trump again in 2020 . . . unless a) Bernie Sanders is his opponent, and b) he wasn’t changed the way McCain did in 2008. I rather doubt he has changed, and I suspect the DNC is desperate to keep him from becoming their standard bearer (after all, he’s not even a Democrat and he certainly isn’t controlled by them). Anyway, I’m getting fed up with a lot of the things my fellow Republicans are doing and this puts me in something of a pickle vice voting for the GOP once again (as I have faithfully since 1980). Am I an outlier? Probably, but there you have it. Make no mistake, it’s not that don’t like President Trump and everything he’s stirring up, it’s just that I believe the swamp is going to defeat him and nothing will get done. Sigh.

  32. KFritz


    This expression reads and sounds very much like the South German “Scheisshaeserl” which I always understood as “little shit house.” Do any “footie” historians or linguists know if the soccer term derives from this Sueddeutsch idiom?

    I remember that William Safire hated amateur etymology. If this question annoys the spirit of Safire, so much the better!

      1. ewmayer

        At the risk of seeming overly critical of your lack of diacriticals, meinen sie womöglich ‘Scheißhäuserl’? :)

  33. Lambert Strether Post author

    Thailand cave rescue: officials confirm rescue operation has begun – live Guardian. Live blog.

    Eighteen divers have entered a northern Thailand cave on Sunday morning to retrieve 12 boys and their football coach who have been stranded in a cave for more than two weeks.

    The rescue operation commenced around 10am local time and the soonest any boy will be freed is 9pm, said Narongsak Osatanakorn, former governor of Chiang Rai province, who is heading up the rescue operation.

    They will be removed one-by-one and the operation could continue until at least tomorrow.

    The team includes 13 international divers and five Thai navy Seals. “We can say they are all international all stars involved in this diving operation and we selected five of our best who can work with them,” Osatanakorn said.


    1. integer

      Heh. Should’ve finished reading the comments before posting about Musk’s miniature submarine idea. Maybe it was all a P.R. stunt after all. Anyway, thanks for the link to the live blog.

  34. juliania

    Lambert, it is late here, but I just wanted to thank you for the article about the Tennessee Federal Judge in the license suspension case – it is a ray of hope in the experience of a loved one in New Mexico where a similar ‘judgment’ has destroyed his life. Indeed there must be many affected by this cruel punishment, and I hope there will be more news on this front in the future, in this state and others that have this practice.

    I could not sleep until I expressed my thanks.

  35. ChrisAtRU

    What Is the Sun Made Of and When Will It Die?

    This particular topic in astronomy fascinates me – the idea that our sun will start running out of fuel and explode from a yellow dwarf to a red giant, and in so doing, swallow up the closest three or four planets (i.e. potentially up to Mars). I’ve not heard of (or read) any science fiction work that uses this eventuality as a potential plot device, but I believe it would make an interesting one. (Feel free to correct me, commentariat, if there are works that include this)

    Sun’s running out! Wot do we do?!!

    Inter-stellar ark-building and all the potential malfeasance that could entail … makes for juicy twists methinks.

    But this article also made me revisit some thoughts on potentially being able to refuel the sun. What if you could manage the metallicity of the sun? What would you have to feed it? Maybe you find a way to direct very large high-metal-content asteroids into it. How would you do that? Would that even work or would they all evaporate before they even got there?

    Sounds like a task for a future Elon Musk …


    1. ewmayer

      Re: Sun going Red Giant and then shrinking into a white dwarf on its way to burnt-out-cinder-dom, my all-time favorite episode of Star Trek:TNG (and I believe it may also be the highest-rated ep. of the series on IMDB), “The Inner Light”, is based on such a scenario. (I wish they had given the ep. a better title, say, “Memento Mori”, but that’s a quibble.)

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