Links 8/23/18

Parrots make wise investment decisions to get what they want: walnuts New Scientist (RM).

Making plans for a new world order Handelsblatt. From Germany’s foreign minister; including a payments system that bypasses SWIFT.

Saudi Arabia insists Aramco IPO remains on course FT

Goodyear CEO Learned About Deadly RV Tire Failures As Early As 2008, Court Docs Suggest Jalopnik

Guest Voices: Straw Man Solutions for Sustainable Supply Chains WSJ

Sources of Finance: Internal versus External Money and Banking


Britain to set out advice on how to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit Reuters. The “technical notices.”

Brexit: an alternate dimension EU Referedum

Labour hits new fundraising record of nearly £56m ITV

The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real) Verso

Leaving Labour: why a party split is now inevitable New Statesman

Why is a much-loved York landlord being forced from his pub and his home? York Mix

All hands on deck: the Caspian sails towards Eurasia integration Pepe Escobar, Asia Times


With a wary eye on China’s maritime expansion, the US is switching up a gear in the Indo-Pacific South China Morning Post

China culls thousands of pigs as African swine fever spreads Agence France Presse

From laboratory in far west, China’s surveillance state spreads quietly Reuters

More Small Manufacturers Move Overseas Chosunilbo (timotheus).

Malcolm Turnbull won’t stand if another vote is held, but demands Peter Dutton show he has the numbers ABC. A wild day in Australian politics.

Trump Transition

Trump contradicts Cohen: ‘Hush money payments came from me’ – as it happened Guardian

What Michael Cohen’s Plea and Paul Manafort’s Conviction Mean for Trump and the Mueller Investigation Lawfare

Why Michael Cohen Agreed to Plead Guilty—And Implicate the President WSJ

GOP Quick To Point Out That Michael Cohen Was Merely RNC’s Deputy Finance Chair The Onion

Why Michael Cohen’s campaign finance crimes were more serious than the Obama campaign’s infraction WaPo

The End For Trump, Or A Dead End for Mueller? (Pt 1/2) TRNN (part 2/2). Aaron Maté interviews Michael Isikoff. More sober than the clickbait headline.

‘I don’t care if Trump paid off a porn star’ BBC

Source: New York Launches Tax Probe of Trump Foundation US News

Donald Trump’s future will be settled by politics, not the law FT

The President Is Terrible The Black Unicorn. Plot twist.

Meet the most insidious #Resistance grifters The Outline. It may well be that “there is so much residual angst and anxiety from the outcome of 2016 that no legal procedure or outcome can properly service it.”

Our Famously Free Press

So the new online Times front page informs me when Thomas “The Moustache of Understanding” Friedman opines, but not when Eric Lichtblau (say) reports. Swell.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Google Data Collection (PDF) Douglas C. Schmidt, Vanderbilt University. Important. “Both Android and Chrome send data to Google even in the absence of any user interaction.”

Hackers target smartphones to mine cryptocurrencies

Let’s Retire the Phrase ‘Privacy Policy’ NYT

Google created a fake pizza brand to test out creative strategies for YouTube ads TechCrunch. What could go wrong?

‘Inconsistent’ Results for Home Baby Monitors Measuring Vital Signs MedPage Today. Internet of Shit.

IBM looks for caffeine buzz with coffee delivery drones FT (BC). That should make up for all the difficulties with Watson.

Imperial Collapse Watch

A ‘Regime’ Is a Government at Odds With the US Empire FAIR (UserFriendly).

Pentagon Moves to Support War in the “Grey Zone” Federation of American Scientists

Class Warfare

The radical moral implications of luck in human life Vox

Some Workers Who Helped Rebuild After Harvey Were Never Paid For Their Labor Texas Standard

America’s Booming Economy Comes With a Cost for Global Growth Bloomberg

Exclusive: Some Arctic Ground No Longer Freezing—Even in Winter National Geographic

Flushed contact lenses are big source of microplastic pollution Agence France Presse

The end of the oceans The Monthly

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. Olga

    An important article about the shifting ground in Europe:

    “”Germany is in deep fear of the Strait of Hormuz being shut stranding a major supply of her natural gas and oil and placing her totally dependent on oil and natural gas from Russia. That is why they have to hold up the Iranian deal against all costs, as they could lose Russia next. Hence, the recent meeting of Merkel and Putin, (I covered it for Asia Times here) and the floating of a new currency plan to break the control over Germany and the world of the SWIFT-CHIPS dollar system.”

    Not sure how much this has been covered in the MSM ( more at – Europeans finally waking up to the fact that a bit of independence from the US might not be a bad idea

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats pretty big if its true, although Escobar can get a bit ahead of himself sometimes.

      The one thing for sure though is that the US would not take this lying down. It would represent a fundamental power realignment in the world. I would be surprised if the Germans could get the agreement of many other EU countries on this, too many are very wedded to US dominance (not least, because they see the alternative as German dominance).

      1. Epistrophy

        I’m of the view that Germany’s closest natural trade partners would eventually be Russia, China and Central Asia. No doubt the USA via NATO is trying to prevent this.

        Europe already operates a Europe-wide system for payments called SEPA. International payments within Europe can be made via SWIFT or SEPA. SEPA has a much smaller cost.

        So it is logical that the existing SEPA system would be expanded to include other non-EU currencies. It could be done without too much difficulty.

        Whereas I believe that this is a negative development for the people of the United States, it is the only way one can avoid the corrupt Washington establishment.

        1. Jean


          With all due respect,

          “A negative development for the people of the United States…”

          Which ‘people’?

          Strengthening the Consumer Debt Complex of which credit cards are a leg has no benefits that I can perceive for the average American. Indeed, per free market theory, the introduction of some competition within the U.S. from SEPA, for let’s say, Amazon orders or other transnational global purchases would lead to lowered credit card tariffs, cheaper prices for goods and some resiliency.

          1. Epistrophy

            Yeah I thought about that statement, it’s a two edged sword really; with pros and cons. But an international payments system that bypasses the dollar would ultimately lead to one transaction system for companies that want to do business with the United States, and then another for everybody else.

            My thinking is that it would be bad for the people because it is likely that Washington will introduce even more draconian financial restrictions would be placed on American citizens to force them to use dollar transactions only.

            In my view it would be the first serious step on the path to a new global currency. But that is another subject.

            1. John k

              Whet alternative will foreigners that currently save dollars select?
              Yuan? Ruble? Euros?
              Then those countries will by definition have to run trade deficits.
              China can refuse to save any more treasuries, and at the same time stop sending us more stuff than we send them. But they are fearful of the resulting unemployment, so won’t.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You have trade partners, political partners, cultural partners, military partners, etc.

          In totality, Germany is more natural in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe camp. A break on the trade front will impact the rest.

          1. Olga

            Germany is an occupied territory (as are some other Europeans) – so one can hardly talk about “military partners.” Trade is trade – anyone who buys your stuff is a trade partner; nothing special or inevitable there. Cultural? Well yes, Germans also like beer – but in many other cultural aspects, Germany is very different from the US. Political partners? See the first sentence.
            None other than the dearly departed Z. Brzezinski would likely disagree with the your facile conclusion. Just read The Grand Chessboard (no need to buy; it is available online as a pdf file). I do not suggest the book because it is somehow good – but it does in a rather simple and open manner reveal/confirm/describe the entirety of the US imperial project. It is all there – no need to read between the lines (well, just a bit, maybe).
            Why do I mention him? One of his main worries was precisely that Germ. and Russia would become partners; specifically, because of geographic proximity and parallel interests and strengths. If that were to happen – feared ZB – it’d be curtains for the US elite. (I don’t actually agree – as Harvard’s Stephen Walt explains here: – but this has been a persistent worry, starting with the grand’ol GB.)
            And if one wants to know more on the subject, Saker just posted an excellent essay (translated from Russian, complete with Pushkin references (those Russkies just cannot help themselves; they like to stick poetry everywhere), so it may be a bit of a challenge for the western linear mind, but do give it a try): Excerpt:

            “Meanwhile, the visit to Germany isn’t only symbolic – it is critical. For the third time in 100 years, the Reich finds itself in a condition of a rigid standoff with the same Anglo-Saxons who raised and nurtured it for the fight against Russia. Only this time the grown wiser Germany tries to keep France as an ally (instead of crushing it, like the two previous times) and isn’t eager for a Moscow campaign at all. It is rather on the contrary – it tries to reach an agreement with Russia concerning a joint standoff with Anglo-American aggression.”

            It could be also called “A wedding, and a new world order (or, a funeral):”

            “If the current crisis doesn’t transform into a global catastrophic military conflict, and all the history of mankind will remain, then the future generations of historians will undoubtedly pinpoint the discussion about “Nord Stream-2” as one of the main reasons for the disintegration of NATO and the reformed European Union’s reorientation from the US towards Russia. On the eve of the Austrian wedding Putin pinpointed topics of future discussions in Berlin, as well as a discussion about global questions, including economic and security, and he also placed an accent on the question of “Nord Stream-2”. In turn, the Germans on the eve of the meeting once again stressed that “Nord Stream-2” is a solved question and that it won’t be discussed with the Americans in any form.”

            As is obvious from all this, the current US elites’ RRR-hysteria makes perfect sense.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In the camp of US, Canada, Australia and Europe, not just the US.

              (Not just the US), Germany can have military partnership with, say, Italy (which they did in the 1940s).

              1. Unna

                Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Germany is an industrial, banking, and trading nation. It has no military fear of Russia. It doesn’t need an American dominated NATO to protect it. It’s 2018, not 1955 or even 1975. Times change. If all the US troops in Germany left tomorrow the local prostitution business might suffer, and so all those girls and boys would need to go and find another line of work. And that might be a good thing. Beyond that Germany wouldn’t care. Maybe the downside to a US military alliance has become too high.

                1. Ralph

                  I worked 3 1/2 years in the US AF without engaging with a “prostitute” and I think I wasn’t the only Airman thus isolated from this fundamental-seeming economic relationship.

                  It did seem to me we were an relatively undersexy division of labor within the US government, like M. A. D. insurance actuaries,.

                  Any other economic relations effected by the absence of bored, lonely Soldier-shoppers?

      2. liam

        From the Handelsblatt article above. I think Escobar’s on the money with this.

        In this situation, it is of strategic importance that we make it clear to Washington that we want to work together. But also: That we will not allow you to go over our heads, and at our expense. That is why it was right to protect European companies legally from sanctions. It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels independent of the US, a European monetary fund and an independent SWIFT [payments] system. The devil is in thousands of details. But every day that the Iran agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.

      3. Olga

        Yes, Lambert posted the Handelsblatt link to the German FM Heiko Maas’ piece. Pepe just adds a bit more context – as in ‘this go way above Merkel’ to the real owners of Germany. (And btw, I’ve been reading Pepe E. for at least 10 yrs – he is rarely wrong (although can be a bit over-enthusiastic about BRI.)

    2. Unna

      Looking at this discussion in late afternoon, I’d say this is the conversation people ought to be having. Maybe the most important thing going on the the world right now. Maybe a complete diplomatic revolution happening in real time. I just looked at the front page of the NYT and all Trump-Stormy-Cohen all the time. Like they say, the revolution will not be televised, or at least not reported by the NYT.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Source: New York Launches Tax Probe of Trump Foundation”

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Trump turned a round and announced that due to the principles of justice and fair play, that he was directing the US Justice Department to launch a tax probe of the Clinton Foundation? I think that the democrat establishment would have a collective meltdown.

    1. marym

      January 2018

      The FBI and Justice Department have reenergized an investigation into the Clinton Foundation that started under the Obama administration, two U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News Friday.

    2. marym

      March 2018

      An informant whom House Republicans have said could reveal a link between a 2010 sale of U.S. uranium supplies and donations to the Clinton Foundation provided no evidence of that during a four-hour interview with congressional staff last month, Democrats said on Thursday.

      Five committees in the U.S. House and Senate previously looked into the issue and found no evidence that Clinton was behind CFIUS’ approval of the deal, according to congressional records.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Somehow any discussion of clinton foundation criminality has become immediately synonymous with uranium one, in which $145 million in “charitable contributions” to the foundation and a $500,000 bill clinton speaking fee are somehow de-slimed by CFIUS.

        Somehow the clinton foundation involvement in Haiti, in “collusion” with the obama / clinton u.s. state department, never comes up.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I always thought it was more of a permanent Clinton campaign operation with three goals, the obvious collection of tribute, the ability to control media and campaign staff resources by locking them up beyond a campaign cycle, and three, starving funds that might be available for other campaign style operations outside the Clinton’s personal vehicle.

          The ability of Obama both to attract help and money early on made his candidacy viable because Hillary was a terrible candidate despite her front runner status. One lesson of 2008 for Hillary was do not give an opponent room to start out with a campaign operation, force it to be ad hoc.

          For 2008, HRC tried to rig the primary calendar by moving Michigan up which would prevent an insurgent campaign from being able to operate. They were so obvious the DNC wouldn’t count the delegates from Michigan. I always thought this was an admission that the more opportunities voters had to see the Clintons up close would hurt their standing.

          I tend to see the organization as being less about the grift than using it to squash competition. After all, look how well HRC did against BARACKA OSAMA, that old Jewy guy from one of those small states near Canada, and the Orange troll despite 100% name recognition, all the money in the world, and access to the msm. We can’t underestimate the importance of Sanders long term history when people who didn’t know him learned about him, but organizationally, he had no chance to bring that to early states especially Southern states.

          The Clintons pushed the Pied Piper strategy in relation to Trump. Why waste the effort given the GOP field? All I can think of is they (the Clinton inner circle) understand why Sanders did so well.

      2. nippersdad

        As a general rule, IIRC, philanthropic organizations that give out less than sixty percent of their funds are at best not recommended for people to donate to and at worst considered frauds. Given that the Clinton Foundation only gives out three percent of their intake for philanthropic purposes, the question of whether or not the Clinton Foundation is or is not a fraud answers itself.

        Whether or not the well connected Clintons were involved in shady uranium deals is practically irrelevant when the entire organization is already considered a pay-to-play money laundering operation. Further, a Congress that is intimately involved in many such operations on a daily basis is prolly not the best group to believe when it comes to operations like that. Their reelection funds rely upon not acknowledging how such things go down, which is why no war criminals or bankers ever get their comeuppance. Maybe that informant was worried about the potential for getting whacked in the Congressional cloakroom.

        Had a poor Hispanic been implicated, I have no doubt that Congress would have come to a different conclusion.

        1. marym

          There is supposedly an explanation for that 3% number, basically that the CF doesn’t give grants, but runs programs.

          …CharityWatch, gives the organization a solid “A.” The group says that the foundation spent 88% of its 2014 outlays directly on programs (rather than overhead) and that it only has to spend $2 to raise $100.

          Link to above

          Another link

          Katherina Rosqueta, the founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, described the Clinton Foundation as an “operating foundation.”

          “There is an important distinction between an operating foundation vs. a non-operating foundation,” Rosqueta told us via email. “An operating foundation implements programs so money it raises is not designed to be used exclusively for grant-making purposes…”

          Link to above

          I don’t claim that there wouldn’t be grift among both the supposed benefactor and the would be beneficiaries of these programs. There’s grift everywhere. Nor do I claim the Clintons, whatever charitable work do or don’t, aren’t a big part of the big problems we face, including pay-for-play in possibly more subtle or legal (due to a legal system that protects wealth privilege) ways.

          However, they’ve been investigated by Republicans for decades. Who cares, since it may distract the investigators from doing more harm in other areas, but it really doesn’t serve much of a substantive purpose.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Distract the investigators doing more harm, or more good, in other areas?

            One potential area of fruitful investigation – the rigging of the Democratic presidential nomination process.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            “There is an important distinction between an operating foundation vs. a non-operating foundation,” Rosqueta told us via email. “An operating foundation implements programs so money it raises is not designed to be used exclusively for grant-making purposes…”

            Sometimes I’m a little fuzzy on the concept of the “straw man” in debate, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think this definitely qualifies.

            Also, too, Gish gallop?


            1. marym

              According to people who understand how supposedly charitable organizations are structured the 3% figure does not appear to be the particular problem it’s sometimes presented as being.

              If endlessly investigating, or endlessly talking about investigating, Clintons will contribute to solving any of the many problems in this country, problems specific to the Clintons, or problems specific to the Clinton Foundation; or if it will take up time and energy otherwise spent doing horrible governance, fine, whatever. The 3% issue itself just may not be the key.

              1. Katniss Everdeen

                Dunno exactly what you’re saying here, but here’s my rule of thumb. When I get a phone call from a paid fund raiser, I always ask, “If I donate a dollar, how much is spent providing the charity you claim to provide?”

                If someone tells me 3 cents, I hang up. (Most often they tell me 12 cents. I still hang up.)

                I know it’s old school, but I don’t see a lot of room for interpretation of 3%. It’s why I like “math.”

    3. MLS

      I’m sure I’m not alone, but this where I always thought Trump was most vulnerable to having “shady” or questionable (if not outright illegal) behavior discovered. The chances of a wealthy RE developer in New York being squeaky clean are….. not good, especially when it’s someone with an incredibly weak moral compass like Trump.

      My expectation has always been that the Mueller probe will uncover some dirt on Trump’s RE or Foundation dealings and extract some sort of back taxes and penalties plus interest retribution they can point to as a “success”. The Russia part of the investigation will be a big nothingburger (much to the dismay of many).

      1. ewmayer

        “The Russia part of the investigation will be a big nothingburger (much to the dismay of many).” — Ah, but the crucial aspect here is that wild allegations – backed up by evidence-free ‘agreement of all 17 intel agencies’, dontchaknow – of RussiaRussiaRussia costing HRH HRC her preordained elevation served as a useful pretext for launching an elite FBI task force fishing expedition, which *of course* will find all manner of (so far completely mundane given the backgrounds of the players) schmutz, which the PTB are working diligently to alchemize into High Crimes. Basically obtaining a blanket seize-everything warrant on false pretenses and then finding “evidence of other crimes” during the ensuing search. Said search being illegal except when it’s the FBI conducting it and “national security and integrity of American deconcracy™ is at stake”, apparently.

        1. Procopius

          That ‘agreement of all 17 intel agencies’ was actually only three. The other 14 were not permitted to contribute. Strangely, neither the State Department Bureau of Research and Intelligence nor the Defense Intelligence Agency were permitted to comment, even though they surely must have an interest.

          1. ewmayer

            Oh, I’m fully aware the bogusness (bogosity?) of the 17-agencies claim. Also the consensus of the 3 intel agencies was in form of an ‘assessment’, which is a fancy word for ‘opinion’, i.e. no showing-of-actual-evidence required. But this flimsy stuff has been diligently morphed into ‘ironclad fact’ by those pushing the meme.

  3. Eureka Springs

    Midterm Congressional Elections: You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had

    Trump has an abysmal 38% approval rating. The Democratic Party in the same independent national poll is even deeper in the abyss with only a 31% approval rating…

    Now that I’m finished laughing, color me both amazed approval numbers are so high for either of these and relieved 60 to 70 percent are disapproving. At some point systemic illegitimacy will have to be recognized.

      1. johnnygl

        If USG is a regime…then, it’s clear that CIA/FBI are engaged in a ‘regime change’ campaign!

        1. a different chris

          >it’s clear that CIA/FBI are engaged in a ‘regime change’ campaign

          it’s clear that CIA/FBI are engaged in yet another a ‘regime change’ campaign

          Wanted to give them full credit, you know.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Let’s put together the two stories in today’s links-

    “Labour hits new fundraising record of nearly £56m”
    “Leaving Labour: why a party split is now inevitable”

    So, if we have the UK Labour party split between the Corbynites and the Blairites, here is the £56 million question. How does that funding go after the split? I suspect that most of it would go to Corbyn’s faction which would leave the Blairites in competition with the Tories for corporate funding.

    1. icancho

      … which would leave the Blairites in competition with the Tories for corporate funding.

      Which is exactly as it should be.

  5. The Beeman

    Source : Pentagon Moves to Support War in the “Grey Zone”

    “The committee notes that the ability of U.S. SOF [special operations forces] to conduct low-visibility, irregular warfare operations in politically sensitive environments make them uniquely suited to counter the malign activities of our adversaries in this domain.”

    “However, the committee is concerned that the Secretary of Defense lacks sufficient authority to provide support for irregular warfare operations by U.S. SOF to counter this growing threat and therefore believes that granting this authority will provide the Secretary with the necessary options and flexibility to achieve U.S. military objectives,” the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote last year.

    The amount of money that was authorized for this purpose — $10 million per year for three years — is minuscule by conventional U.S. military standards, but it could still be meaningful in the context of irregular warfare.

    This is bad. Really bad.

      1. tegnost

        conduct low-visibility, irregular warfare operations in politically sensitive environments make them uniquely suited to counter the malign activities of our adversaries in this domain.”
        sanitized and concealed behind a mask of multi syllabic words

    1. JTMcPhee

      And it’s no defense (bad pun) for the Empire, that this sadly is nothing new. The CIA and others have been operating paramilitaries all over, since way back. And they brag about it. See here:, which is the first-person account of Gary Schroen, CIA field ops guy, who with a little band of merry men bribed and cajoled the “Northern Alliance (sic) of actually pretty evil Warlords” to fight “the Taliban,” more or less together depending on the shifting opportunities in the game, with US bombing support and lots of $$$$$$$ and Viagra so the old dudes could get it on with the boys who “dance” for them. (Here’s the most recent NYT article on the curious practice among the tribes, which the troops are told is ok because it’s just part of the ancient culture, though it was suppressed almost completely by the Taliban. These are the warlords that the US Imperial warlords, and their “Contractor” playmates, are playing war games with live ammo and munitions with, going on 20 or 30 years later.

      So it’s been bad, really bad, since long before the Empire/CIA set up the “Phoenix Program” in the former South Vietnam and neighboring countries.

      History rhyming:

      Douglas Valentine explained the purpose or at least the subject of his study of the Vietnam Phoenix Program as “terror and its role in political warfare”. He is generous, like most Americans—even critical ones—when he writes “It will show how, as successive American governments sink deeper and deeper into the vortex of covert operations—ostensibly to combat terrorism and Communist insurgencies—the American people gradually lose touch with the democratic ideals that once defined their national self-concept.

      This book asks what happens when Phoenix comes home to roost?”1 Valentine is generous to his readers since he ascribes to them ideals which while attributed to the US regime and naively held by many, in fact bear little resemblance to the political reality in the USA. Valentine is not ironic. His book is written with sincerity to readers in a frustrating appeal to transcend their sentimental illusions and look honestly at the real political praxis of their country in a war it just happened to lose. In this sense it is also a polemic—although no way polemical in style—to learn the right lessons from the US invasion, occupation and genocidal war against the people of Vietnam.

      1. The Beeman

        Yes it isn’t new – I’m old enough to know of what you speak. Very relevant points JT.

        By making this public, this feels like the next step beyond murder in the shadows.

        1. Procopius

          I’m so old I remember when the CIA bragged that they killed 50,000 people with the Phoenix Program. For some reason, more recently they cut their claim back to only 35,000 men, women, and children.

    2. ambrit

      Really bad in that these entities have a record of bringing their expertise back home for domestic consumption. Now, the Secretary of Defense has a free hand? There goes civil governance.
      This is all beginning to look suspiciously like the old Soviet Union from back in the nineteen-twenties and thirties.
      Wild conspiracy theorist idea: Trump is impeached and newly minted President Pence declares a ‘Government of National Reconciliation’ while suspending the Constitution, “until the Emergency is resolved.”

      1. Eureka Springs

        Why declare it suspended when it matters so little to those in power now anyhow? Answering my own question, because it would keep ‘the fight’ so far right by prompting so many to defend the one we have now. The one which only one Colony, Rhode Island, allowed some people to vote for ratification and at the time those people voted against ratification at a rate of 10 to 1. But of course their own state assembly over rhode the voice of the people anyway.

        That Constitution.

        When the peeps who fight for 15 in Memphis get the antifa, regime, I mean police treatment like this… all was lost long ago.

    3. Wendell

      > “The committee notes that the ability … make them uniquely suited…”

      I don’t expect that any member of the committee would actually have a clue about subject-verb agreement but at least one of those highly-paid staff people should! B’golly, they done real good.

  6. emorej a hong kong

    These two articles:

    The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real) Verso

    Leaving Labour: why a party split is now inevitable New Statesman

    … prompt somewhat analogous questions:

    1. Wouldn’t Corbyn’s ability to obtain an electoral mandate, and to legislate accordingly, be strengthened if his enemies among Labour MPs were to ‘self-deselect’ by leaving the party? It’s hard to see how the answer could be “no”, in view of the certainty that these MPs would vote against the core of Corbyn’s program, and would otherwise look for every opportunity to delay and undermine him and his government.

    2. Doesn’t the UK Jewish Community have more to lose, from so transparently and publicly chaining itself to the mast of anti-Corbynism, than Corbyn has to lose from insisting on balancing Jewish interests and sensitivities against those of Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims (all of whom, as the Finkelstein article highlights, face more damaging stereotypes than are faced by UK Jews).

    1. PlutoniumKun

      In terms of ‘1’, I’d say that Corbyn would be strengthened if he could push out the hard core of the Blairites, so long as it was a relatively small number and they didn’t succeed in getting some Tories/Lib Dems to join them to form a genuine force in a number of constituencies. But thats quite a gamble because there is always a chance a new party could gain genuine momentum at a time when there is a lot of disenchantment with politicians in general. That said, the UK electoral system makes it much harder for a Macron type to gain power outside the two main parties.

      The problem for Corbyn is not necessarily the loss of MP’s – its having a centrist party able to run credible candidates in marginal constituencies. If its seen as having a strong Labour flavour, then its likely to take more votes off them than the Tories. So the damage is loss of marginals to the Tories, not losses to this new party. In other words, it could do to Corbyn what UKIP very nearly did to the Tories.

      Frankly, if I was a Tory strategist, I’d be doing everything I could to persuade a friendly billionaire to finance a centrist party made up of Blairites with enough cash to run credible candidates in most constituencies. That would cause huge damage to Labour even if the party itself flopped. I suspect it would only take a 5-10% loss of votes in marginals to cost Labour dozens of MP’s.

      As for ‘2’, I do think the UK Jewish community is doing itself enormous damage by hoping on that bandwagon. There comes a point where you become the boy who cried wolf and nobody listens anymore. And yes, I think Corbyn should just sit it out. This is something that gets the chattering classes excited but I honestly don’t see it as having much traction with regular voters.

  7. johnnygl

    Re: contact lenses

    Here’s an idea…maybe manufacturers could make a lens that doesn’t fall apart in a month’s time? But, no, because…capitalism LOVES planned obselence!!!

    1. nippersmom

      They’ve been making them for decades. They are called rigid gas permeable lenses and if properly cared for they last for years.

  8. fresno dan

    If you’re sitting on the internet and reading this story instead of doing something more important that you KNOW you should be doing, I have good news! A new research paper suggests that some animals may benefit greatly from being as lazy as possible, and evolution might reward those individuals by allowing them to pass on their genes and sustain their species.
    “… evolution might reward those individuals by allowing them to pass on their genes and sustain their species…”
    Seems like a lot of work for a mere possibility of sustaining the species – I’m going back to bed.

      1. ambrit

        Some of us think that, what with the Red Bunny Slippers, fresno dan has made a “Proustian Bargain” with Ye Devil [Insert Name of Adversary of Day here.]
        In honour of the Rapture Index, I will call that time when, (Heaven Be Praised!) Rationality prevails in human endeavours: “The End of Daze.”

        1. fresno dan

          August 23, 2018 at 11:06 am

          LOL. but shouldn’t that be the beginning of daze…or maybe doze

          1. ambrit

            I fear that we are at present treading water in the ‘Woke of Poseidon.’
            Hey, how bad can it get? We survived Bush 2, otherwise known as the Bull-doze. Not to be confused with, (Gods and Goddesses of Wit forgive me,) Texas Bull Chik.
            But enough of Country matters.

    1. ewmayer

      Good news, FD – no need for the highly-adaptive lazy folk to leave their beds in order to “pass on their genes and sustain their species”. Heck, some of these evolutionary genii probably don’t even need to wake up to do so. As a guy, surely you are acquainted with the phenomenon of the “REM boner” (a.k.a. morning wood)? One just needs a partner thoughtful (or sneaky) enough to, um, hop on that opportunity without disturbing one’s precious slumber.

    2. Ddt

      “Chronic procrastination: an evolved skill to only expend energy on doing what is absolutely necessary at any given moment.”

      Not sure who to attribute this quote to…

  9. a different chris

    >Why is a much-loved York landlord being forced from his pub and his home?

    This is so frustrating because you can’t effectively support him by going to his pub — because it isn’t his pub, so showing up just stuffs more money into Punch’s pockets.

    Ah, late stage capitalism just rocks, doesn’t it?

    1. ambrit

      I’m encouraged to see, at the very bottom of the feed, that the author of the article is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers.
      That such an organization exists in the first place is cause for joy and ingurgitation.
      What would we call a ‘robust’ anti-pub-capitalist-collectivist organization?

    2. LifelongLib

      Is it difficult/impossible in the UK to just buy a pub outright, or build one? More expensive up front but a much better deal for the operator later…

      1. ambrit

        Many pubs in England are Local Traditions. The name, independent of the owners formal identity, is the real value. That and good beer. These big concerns are messing with the goose that lays the golden frothy glasses by limiting the brands of suds allowed to be bought.
        Plus, if I remember right, land ownership in the UK is convoluted and much more expensive than in America.

        1. ambrit

          Gadzooks! A new wrinkle in the Saga of Skynet. The errant comment lies doggo for a comment post attempt, and then a repost attempt, only to appear along with my whinge. The Dark Web Lords have a sense of humour.

            1. ambrit

              Insidiously Insufferable Igneously Indignant Insanity! (Un-Iambic Iteration 1.0.)
              Extending and pretending the Dark Web Lords meme; this function would be carried out by a Tardiest, would it not? (Cue spooky BBC Radiophonic Workshop music.)
              I will endeavour to learn, and practice, greater patience.
              (Does this mean we don’t get the pony?)

  10. perpetualWAR

    New world order.

    When an article begins with a fallacy such as:
    “Checks and balances” work, as US courts and Congress demonstrate almost daily.”
    I stop reading.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “A wild day in Australian politics”

    It’s a weird system but a benefit is that if you have a really unpopular leader, their own party can vote them out and put in another one of their number as leader of the country to take them to the next election. Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
    None of the candidates are much chop as they are right-wingers, bible-bashers or party hacks. Funny thing did happen. One of these people is named Peter Dutton who started to receive abusive tweets. Trouble was it was a ( 30 year-old black dude in Texas. Seems to have made a lot of friends now in Australia with offers of letting him be the Prime Minister and offering to put him up until the Official Residence is ready for him. I’d vote for him.

    1. Norm de plume

      He’d have to better than the alternatives; TINA- spruiking free-market handmaidens, dutiful servant spivs of the 1% – the usual, in other words.

  12. Enquiring Mind

    Do you like your cable company?

    A news story today in The Acorn, a community newspaper in the western suburbs of Los Angeles and eastern Ventura counties, provides more angst in case you were in need. A cable company employee tipped off a home robbery gang about cable usage patterns, identifying homes where low usage suggested vacationing residents. One implication is that merely using anything connected to cable, whether IoT/Io[Familyblog] or plain old television watching, sends information out.

    The enterprising cable or internet or telephone company employee or contractor, or newspaper delivery person, in search of new business opportunities may apply a binary model to see if Home or Not Home. Then see when that pattern repeats, notify some other entrepreneur and collect a wad of cash (no checks, please, and Bitcoin for a 10% discount).

    Once that binariness goes wild (meaning now and forever), you become the product in ways that you may not have imagined. To show the fairness of that new system, nobody cares what you watch, read, stream or otherwise ingest or egest. They just care that you are doing it and are providing handy easy-to-read signals, or bread crumbs if you prefer, along the way.

    Life used to be much simpler. Older readers may recall the movie Fun With Dick and Jane, starring George Segal and Jane Fonda. They over consumed, to the point of leasing house plants to maintain a lifestyle. When that became untenable, they turned to a life of crime, deciding to hold up phone company offices, like Willie Sutton, because that is where the money is. After all, as they said, everyone hates the phone company. Now you have an expanding roster of, ahem, service providers probing your limits.

    1. Jean

      I too used the Captain Crunch plastic toy whistle to make free phone calls back in the day.

      Technical note; it made just the right tone to patch your long distance calls through without charge. Lasted about six months. before Ma Bell did something to correct it.

      1. RMO

        In Fun With Dick and Jane they were leading an expensive lifestyle on a high single income (George plays an engineer) and were keeping it going until he was fired. Both of them were unable to find employment that would produce close to their old income and then they turned to crime. Sounds a lot like today except that now they would both have had jobs to lose and ultimately turned to suicide as a solution.

  13. a different chris

    I would word-smith one line in the “Luck” piece:

    >The promise of great financial reward spurs risk-taking, market competition, and innovation.

    It doesn’t have to be an absolute “great”… I’m not even sure it needs to be relatively that great. Being head of IBM in the 60’s would give you all the societal sunlight anybody needed. Yet you weren’t a billionaire, you weren’t paid more every day than your average worker made in a year.

    I don’t even think Bill Gates had any conception of being the richest man in the world. If that was his driving force, he would have gone into real estate development like Trump.

    The big $$’s seem to me to be almost an attempt to fill an emptiness, their job isn’t really as meaningful (or hard, they at least subconsciously admit to themselves) as it should be, so they just keep racking up the numbers for lack of anything directly useful (e.g. inventing Polio vaccine) to point to.

    No current billionaire in the world would care if the tax rate was everywhere 90%. They would only care whether they were #1 at the end of it all, or not.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If their tax rate was high, it would mean the power of the plebes would stronger, thus making it harder to buy and sell people. If you look at the pre-Revolutionary War South, there is a good argument the richest man Virginia in the South was a shoemaker because he dealt in cash a rare commodity in the plantation based economy with the second richest man being a freed slave blacksmith who also dealt in cash. When discussing their actual purchasing power. Those two guys were number 1 and 2, so why didn’t everyone else go, “hey, they are onto something!” because it was about control of people, not an item on a ledger.

      What good is money is you can’t lord it over people?

      Bah. What good is respect without the moolah to back
      it up. Everywhere I go I see teachers driving Ferraris,
      research scientists drinking champagne.
      I tried to drink a Coke on the bus, and they took away my
      -Krusty the Klown

      Its not quite right, but the quote points out the appeal of wealth is holding down society. Riding the bus might not be a threat to Krusty. Its the idea of other people not having terrible lives.

      How many people who are working for health insurance will walk off their jobs if Medicare for All passes? There were stories about Jobs making continuing employment decisions based on how entertained he was by passengers on the elevator. Money doesn’t get you that. Being dependent on pigs like Gates is what matters to these people. That 90% tax rate may not represent a lifestyle change to Gates, but it represents the ability for people to tell him off. Who realistically is going to tell Gates the books he loves to tout are drivel such as “Hillbilly Elegy“?

      Weinstein is a perfect example, more odious than most. Rewards and critical acclaim mattered to him because it brought him the opportunity to make or break people and then opportunities for abuse. Being number one isn’t the thrill to these people. Its about ownership. Jerry Jones is another example. He couldn’t stomach Jimmy Johnson being credited with the Super Bowl victories in the 90’s and axed him to take Dallas to new heights, not winning Super Bowls. Players around the NFL cared what Jimmy Johnson thought not, Jerry Jones. He hasn’t won any Super Bowls since he fired Jimmy. Every player knows Jason Garrett won’t do anything without running it by Jerry. Impressing Jerry matters. If Jimmy Johnson can get fired, anyone can get fired.

      1. georgieboy

        “Who realistically is going to tell Gates the books he loves to tout are drivel such as “Hillbilly Elegy“?”

        Ok, I’ll bite. Please explain why it is drivel, in terms this ole boy can understand.

        1. witters

          “Please explain why it is drivel, in terms this ole boy can understand.”

          There, I think, is the problem…

      2. RMO

        I sometimes wonder what the outcome of an experiment might be if it were possible to have a little society of say a million people. At the start the elite 1% all had incomes of $50 million per year and the bottom 99% all had incomes equivalent to $75,000 per year (imagine those incomes give the same buying power and lifestyle that those amounts give in 2018 America for the sake of the experiment) Then the need to make a choice in the development of the economy comes along. Option 1 results in the 1% having their income rise to $200 million per year and the other 99% get $1million per year. Option 2 would result in the 1% getting just $100 million per year but the 99% would see their income drop to $20,000 per year. Which outcome would pleas the 1% more? Getting lots more, but seeing everyone else become a lot better off or getting less of a gain themselves but seeing everyone else get pushed into poverty.

        It could never be carried out but I suspect quite a lot of powerful people do get off more on relative wealth compared to the majority than they do on absolute wealth of their own.

      3. Eric Patton

        No, the Cowboys did win a Super Bowl after Jerry fired Jimmy. The coach was former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. Switzer was coaching Jimmy’s players, of course, and your larger point is still true.

    2. Jean

      “Jenner’s success would have been impossible if she hadn’t been born white, healthy, rich, and famous.”

      Or black, overweight, poor and unknown like Oprah?

      Jenner is part of the Hollywood Trash-Humanism Glitterati Scandal Corps, hardly a disadvantage in our McCulture.
      Her race has nothing to do with it.

      If you think it does, talk to unemployed white coal miners and homeless veterans on our streets.

      Stop the race-shaming, it’s driving the country into the arms of those that you don’t like.

      1. marym

        Race-shaming in the form of slavery, the old Jim Crow laws, the “New Jim Crow” policing and legal system, red-lining, stop-and-frisk, voter suppression, etc. didn’t drive “the country” into the arms of black supremacists, mostly just into multiple iterations civil rights, voting rights, community, and church movements, with goals mostly directed at participating in universal rights and justice.

        If the people being “driven” now, as opposed to those of us of all colors who aren’t being “driven”, and who have usually tried not to “drive” anyone else (see “universal” above) are “the country” now, we’re doomed.

  14. bob

    How is this scare story from the AP about “russians” any different from a story about MS 13 in toledo?

    The lead paragraph uses this as background-

    ” two years after Russian operatives sent the party into disarray by hacking into its computers and facilitating the release of tens of thousands of emails amid the presidential election.”

      1. bob

        Mueller is going to charge you with 2nd degree contradiction of the DNC & embarrassment of the voting process — a fourth degree crime against the sanctity of our precious bodily fluids.

    1. Bittercup

      An update on this one, for the curious:

      CHICAGO —

      What the Democratic Party first thought was a malicious attempt to hack the party’s massive voter information file turned out to be just a security test.

      The admission from a senior Democratic official comes a day after party officials said a hacking attempt was successfully thwarted.

      The official says the national party has since learned that the Michigan Democratic Party arranged the phishing attempt as a test of login security, but did not alert the party or the internet platform that hosts the data. — VOA

  15. Mirdif

    While today’s blog on EUReferendum is largely anodyne, this cannot be said of some of Richard North’s nonsense in recent days where after months of predicting disaster due to falling back on WTO rules, he is now making out that it will mostly be mitigated and all over bar the shouting by next August with some “consequences” rather than the outright disaster he was predicting until quite recently.

    I cannot be the only person to have noticed this brazen volte-face.

  16. L

    With respect to this article: With a wary eye on China’s maritime expansion, the US is switching up a gear in the Indo-Pacific South China Morning Post

    It is good but it misses one of the key drivers of that expansion, Fish.

    China’s fish stocks have been decimated. Indeed some argue that the South China Sea stocks may soon collapse see:
    Fish, not oil, at the heart of the South China Sea conflict
    and One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse. While there is no doubt that China’s expansion is tied to OBOR and their desire to be a hegemon. You cannot ignore the fact that this is critically tied to food, and the prospect of the largest country in the world (already a net importer of food) going hungry. To my mind that is what makes this buildup so worrisome.

    People want business expansion, but they will fight for food.

    1. ambrit

      The next big Chinese export items: Hunger, War, Conquest, Death. (We might attend a seance and get the shade of Elmer Bernstein to do the theme music.)

      1. witters

        “The next big Chinese export items: Hunger, War, Conquest, Death.”

        Surely the US won’t stand aside and allow itself to be pushed from market dominance?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It was the American division of the IFTC ( International Free Trade Conspiracy) which worked to move American manufacturing to non-America to begin with. They were working to push America aside to begin with and make money arbitraging America’s fall and China’s rise all-the-way-down and all-the-way-up.

          The Trump election is a desperate effort by some Americans to delay or even prevent the pushing-aside which the Clintobusha Presidents worked so hard to create to begin with.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And this:

      China culls thousands of pigs as African swine fever spreads Agence France Presse

      No fish, no pork.

      This dish will be severely curtailed (from Wikipedia):

      Buddha Jumps Over the Wall*, also known as Buddha’s Temptation (Chinese: 佛跳墙; pinyin: fó tiào qiáng), is a variety of shark fin soup in Fujian cuisine.[1][2] It was created by Zheng Chunfa, celebrated chef and proprietor of the Ju Chun Yuan Restaurant in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. Zheng was private chef of a senior local official in his early years. Since its creation during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912),[1] the dish has been regarded as a Chinese delicacy known for its rich taste,[3] and special manner of cooking.[1] The dish’s name is an allusion to the dish’s ability to entice the vegetarian monks from their temples to partake in the meat-based dish.[4] It is high in protein and calcium.[5]

      The ingredients:

      The soup or stew consists of many ingredients, especially animal products, and requires one to two full days to prepare.[2] A typical recipe requires many ingredients including quail eggs, bamboo shoots, scallops, sea cucumber, abalone, shark fin, fish maw, chicken, Jinhua ham, pork tendon, ginseng, mushrooms, and taro. Some recipes require up to thirty main ingredients and twelve condiments.[2][6] Use of shark fin, which is sometimes harvested by shark finning, and abalone, which is implicated in destructive fishing practices, are controversial for both environmental and ethical reasons.[7][8]

      Will the Buddha stay inside the wall now?

      *I recently noticed that dish in a restaurant – one day prior notice, costing $90. Maybe one day I will have enough money to try that.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Cabbage, potatoes and oatmeal for a year . . . . then Buddha Jumps Over the Wall for a day.

  17. crittermom

    Today’s antidote of polar bears is adorable.

    It takes on a sad note, however, after reading the links just above it regarding “Some artic ground no longer freezing” & “The end of the oceans” (both excellent).

    I now see the bears as possibly consoling each other, as they realize they may be the last of their species.

    These quotes from the article “The end of the oceans” almost made me spit out my cocoa:
    “We have to really confront those people who support fossil fuels” & “… we really need to compel our political leaders to stop treating climate change like a second-tier irritation and start treating it as a global emergency.”

    When was the last time ‘our’ govt listened to ‘we the people’ above the ‘Kaching’ of personal profits?
    Sadly, certainly not currently.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The usages of the Corporate ‘We” freely mixed with the political “we” in the “End of Oceans” was troubling along with what is becoming an old trope:
      “It is not really a surprise that we find it difficult to assimilate this sort of information. Our ability to conceptualize fundamental changes to the world we inhabit is extremely limited, as is our capacity to think meaningfully about problems that are years or even decades away.”
      These aging chestnuts are becoming a new form of TINA for addressing Climate Disruption. Along with the injunction individuals should do something … do anything to help, nothing meaningful will be done:
      “Do something. Do anything. Do whatever you can. At an individual level, at a community level. Don’t give up. Don’t wave the white flag. Just do something.”
      So “recycle” our plastic, eat less meat, buy “organic” vegetables, drive a Prius, compost our garbage, eschew plasiic bags and carry a shopping bag made from woven hemp fiber, plant a tree, bake our own beans, give proper answers to survey questions, send money to “Green” friendly candidates, and talk with out neighbors about saving the planet [what did I miss?]. Individuals and communities can do little to deal with Climate Disruption. The problem is much bigger than that. It requires national and international action.

      Maybe the old trope might better be re-stated:
      “It is not really a surprise that Corporations and the governments they own find it difficult to assimilate this sort of information. Their ability to conceptualize fundamental changes to the world we inhabit is extremely limited, as is their capacity to think meaningfully about problems that are years or even decades away and cost them money now.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I wonder if these bears were rolling around in some arctic mud? Or if being in shadow might make them look darker? Their paws certainly look huge and snow-shoe-y like I have read that polar bear paws are.

        There certainly is such a thing as grizzly-polar hybrids. They are even making the news and the web nowadays. Here is a link to a story about that.

        And here is a link to a bunch of images of pizzly bears.;_ylt=AwrJ7Fxopn9bNx0AQFlXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByMDgyYjJiBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=pizzly+bears&fr=sfp

  18. Craig H.

    > an RV tire that’s linked to at least 10 deaths and dozens of injuries. [Goodyear]

    1. excellent article

    2. 10 deaths and dozens of industries does not look like it meets the Fight Club airplane seat mate discussion of whether the big company is going to put this on their action item list

    3. on a tangent Joe Rogan interviewed Chuck Palahniuk and it is intermittently his best pod cast ever although parts of it are garbage. If it’s too long and you can’t watch:

    a. Chuck has been kicked out of writers groups for political incorrectness. (I cannot imagine the mind set of a writer telling Chuck to get lost.)

    b. Chuck had his life’s savings gutted by his embezzling accountant who had quite the operation going and also gutted the estate of Mario Puzo and many other writers. The authorities have no idea where the money is at this time.

    c. And when I said parts of it are garbage I left out that parts of it that are not safe for lunch.

  19. Jean

    A decade of sentencing retirees and veterans to death through defective tires merits two things:

    The corporate death penalty of a revoked charter and/or the arrest of Mr. Kramer and his trial and application of the federal death penalty or life in prison.

    At a bare minimum all of his assetts should be clawed back and placed in escrow pending the results of future trials based on the defective tires that have caused accidents.

    If selling defective tires in our homeland doesn’t trigger Homeland Security, then what use are they?

    1. Whoa Molly!

      Sure would like to see Mr Kramer spend his post-jail life living on his income as Amazon temp, in an RV with defective tires.

  20. nippersdad

    The first thing I thought upon seeing the article about Germany wanting to create a European international payment system was, given past performance in Iraq and Libya, when will the invasion commence?

    Somehow I don’t see the usual arguments on how much they hate our freedoms and mushroom clouds flying when it comes to Europe. Unlike Afghanistan, most of the American people know where Europe is.

    It is just amazing to me how eagerly and relentlessly our military and political corporate complex is working to sideline the United States within the world community. The harder they grip power the faster they are losing it.

    1. Epistrophy

      Some of those nations that are pushing to break the dollar also profit mightily from the so-called American Military Industrial Complex. For example, Russsia sells the US it’s rocket engines, China provides rare earths and pretty much all of industrial Europe, as a member of NATO, provides all kinds of NATO stuff. Heck, even Israel profits from the American backed wars on its doorstep.

  21. Katniss Everdeen

    So…..More fun with lanny davis.

    cohen has ZERO information “that President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians beforehand or even after.” (That would be the bedrock of the “collusion” charge.)

    Apparently the last two years of anonymously-sourced “reporting” was a little “mixed up,” but someone “advised” them that they could not correct the record.

    “Well, I think the reporting of the story got mixed up in the course of a criminal investigation. We were not the source of the story. And the question of a criminal investigation, the advice we were given, those of us dealing with the media is that we could not do anything other than stay silent,” Davis told Cooper.

    Also too, cohen has never been to Prague. The dossier got that way wrong. I wonder where that came from.

    Another suggestion for a Links category–What A Coup Looks Like.

    1. Pat

      It is looking more and more like Michael probably deserves Lanny and they both deserve to be dropped off on some deserted island somewhere to play Lord of the Flies – grifter edition. Sort of makes one wonder if there comes a point where only the hucksters will represent you OR hucksters are first in line to represent those with positions to ‘sell’.

      Mind you if that form of a hunger games could happen, most of the people involved in the Mueller investigation, the people pushing Russia!Russia!Russia! and most of our political class should probably be included on that flight.

    2. Bridget

      “The dossier got that way wrong. I wonder where that came from.”

      May I suggest that someone in the FBI or the CIA or a contractor with security clearance accessed government databases searching for dirt on Michael Cohen (among others), came up with the travel records of the wrong Michael Cohen, and fed it to Steele for laundering via the dossier.

      1. Bridget

        It was reported at the time that a different Michael Cohen was in Prague during the time in question:

        But the truly interesting question is, how did it get into Steele’s dossier? What kind of source would mix up Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen with some other Michael Cohen? Not a source that had personal knowledge of Cohen’s whereabouts at the time in question, (he was in LA) or anything about what he supposedly did in Prague or who he met with. The only kind of source I can think of for this information is someone who had access to American’s travel records and came up with the wrong Micheal Cohen.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Parrots make wise investment decisions to get what they want: walnuts New Scientist (RM).

    Do parrots parrot each other?

    Or is this any case of anthropo-chauvinism, with Homo Not-So-Sapiens assuming that we humans don’t parrot each other, only parrots parrot us?

    I mean, do parrots use ‘human’ (or their linguistic equivalent) as a verb to mean ‘mindless repeating?’

    1. Craig H.

      There is a big flock of parrots that has moved in at the far end of my favorite hiking trail. What I am trying to figure out with no luck so far: can they eat eucalyptus acorns? These nuts are extremely hard and none of the other animals can crack them. If parrots can do so, that huge flock of parrots can easily grow to hundreds thousands millions. There is a HUGE amount of low hanging fruit eucalyptus acorns to be be had.

      (Parrots are loud)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Richard Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, you have this:

        Blue Planet 2: Attenborough defends shots filmed in studio ……/captive-wildlife-footage-blue-planet-2-bbc1-totally-true…
        Oct 23, 2017 – Most filming done in the wild – including armoured octopuses and hypnotic … Footage of captive wildlife inserted into the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 … a tuskfish was revealed using a specific coral nub to crack open clams, … “The amazing thing about cuttlefish is that they have control of their of their skin pattern.

        Fish as tool-users.

        Can we afford to under-estimate parrots?

      2. Jean

        Eucalyptus, and I assume you are talking about E globulous, the Blue Gum Eucalyptus, has tiny seeds within the matrix of the seed pod. Probably would require more energy expended than received. Plus there’s the issue of what’s available as food value in the tiny seed itself.

        E ficifolia, the Red Flowering Gum, has slightly larger peppercorn sized seeds within a tough woody, wineglass shaped seed.

        1. Craig H.

          These things.

          I always assumed there was some Australian marsupial squirrels that could eat them although none of the fauna around me eat them that I could tell.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If these are the kind of eucalyptus that koalas eat the leaves of, perhaps koalas can be introduced into California to go with all those parrots.

      4. Anon

        Eucalyptus don’t have acorns. The woody, cup-shaped items you see on the ground are actually the remnants of the flowering capsule. An acorn is an actual individual seed; the seeds of Euc’s are many, small (1mm), rod-shaped elements produced by a flower consisting of many stamens, but without petals.

        1. Duck1

          When I was a kid in the sixties and we rode through the forests of
          Globulus in the east bay, my father who was a botanist would remark that they were an ecological desert, other than the trees.

  23. barrisj

    BTW, via Political Wire, the WaPo is reporting that the recentyly reported attempted “hack” of the DNC voter database was in fact a “test”, organised by apparently the MI state Demo organisation. Much hand-wringing speculation about “Russian or Iranian actors” yet again goes up in smoke, offering more evidence that “hacking” is a phenomenon of universal application, often impossible to ascertain the source(s), and is a convenient at-hand cudgel to demonise nasty states attacking “democracy” here in the US. Look for an avalanche of Russian/Iranian/DPRK – attributed “hacks” coming from the MSM up to the mid-term lekshuns.

  24. anon

    Re: The radical moral implications of luck in human life

    Not surprising that Robert Frank’s book ruffled feathers. I wonder if he added any chapters on amorality; and a selfishness which includes always looking the other way when moral issues come up.

    I remember, in my early twenties, turning down a ‘lead’ position that a racist Filipina supervisor offered me over two Native American women I worked with — who had worked there far longer, and were more knowledgeable about the job than I. When I brought up that fact, the first thing she did was whisper to me conspiratorially how she hated Mexicans, which she thought they were. I turned the job down and walked out in the middle of a shift a short while later. I had come to despise her, it wasn’t the first time she pulled, or said, something mean and conniving, along with being a blatant liar when it was to her advantage. I came to believe that’s how she got her managerial job.

    1. anon

      I should add, this wasn’t some fly by night company, it was ranked in the two digit territory of the Fortune 500. I’ve heard much anecdotal evidence over the decades (not to mention my own further experiences of it), that managerial toxicity was (and still is) the Silicon Valley norm.

  25. zagonostra

    You don’t hear much about Seth Rich these days, even on YouTube. There was a story recently that put Donna Brasil at the hospital where Rich lay dying…I know the MSM won’t cover this and I’m not sure what to make of this story.

    Stories on Jenny Moore’s recent death in a D.C. hotel (she was investigating rape allegations against Bill Clinton) get almost zero coverage.

    Since operation Mockingbird (CIA penetration of the MSM) we have been given what is deemed necessary to perform our civic duty, i.e., to go about the business consuming, leaving public policy to those who can better manage it (the power elite of course).

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    What happens if consumption goes beyond the “civic” and becomes “political”? As in “politically targeted”?

    Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

    Picture a hundred million people with a hundred million sad little laser pointers. What if those hundred million people were able to shine their sad little dots of sad little laser light onto the one same exact spot?
    A hundred million sad little dots of sad little laser-pointer light could melt a big happy hole through thick steel plate if their owners would only co-ordinate them exactly onto the one same little spot.

  27. witters

    Somewhere above I inadvertently slighted Lambert. The essay, “The End of the Oceans” is there in the links. I’m sorry.

  28. knowbuddhau

    The spotlight of attention is more like a strobe light.

    “Our subjective experience of the visual world is an illusion,” said Sabine Kastner, a professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI). “Perception is discontinuous, going rhythmically through short time windows when we can perceive more or less.”

    The researchers use different metaphors to describe this throb of attention, including a spotlight that waxes and wanes in its intensity. Four times per second — once every 250 milliseconds — the spotlight dims and the house lights come up. Instead of focusing on the action “onstage,” your brain takes in everything else around you, say the scientists.

    Here’s looking/not-looking at you, kid.

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