Links 2/1/19

Local Man Arrested After Cosplaying Mr. Freeze And Yelling Cold Weather Puns At People Sioux Falls Headliner

Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay NASA

America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate’ BBC (original). 1492’s version of the Jackpot, as it were.

We may be overestimating the carbon cleanup power of trees Anthropocene

‘Radical rethink’ needed to tackle obesity, hunger, climate: Report Channel News Asia (original study from The Lancet: “The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change”).

“Global warming” and “climate change” are disasters at conveying our environmental predicament Quartz

Does Facebook Really Know How Many Fake Accounts It Has? NYT. Lol no. Seems a bit gentle; the conclusions from Plainsite (cited in the Times article, and linked to at NC on January 25 under “The Bezzle”) seem more in line with what we know about Facebook, the enterprise: “Fcebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network. Its official metrics—many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly—are self-contradictory and even farcical. The company has lost control of its own product.”

Deutsche Bank’s Slump Deepens as Trading Hit Hurts Revenue Bloomberg

TSB suffers first full-year loss as IT fiasco costs weigh on profit FT

New York Insurers Can Evaluate Your Social Media Use—If They Can Prove Why It’s Needed WSJ


White House surprises agencies, industry with Venezuela sanctions; few details available McClatchy

As U.S. Moves to Oust Maduro, Is Invading Venezuela Next? Allan Nairn on Trump’s Attempted Coup Democracy Now (GF).

Bernie Sanders is dead wrong about what’s happening in Venezuela WaPo. KW: “After reading this, I am off to have a shower” and Democrats should stand for democracy in Venezuela — and democratic values in America Chris Murphy and Ben Rhodes, WaPo, Rhodes being the coiner of the phrase “The Blob.”

On Backing Chavez Stumbling and Mumbling


The U.S. Army In The Iraq War, Volume 2, Surge And Withdrawal 2007-2011 (PDF) Strategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press. “The invasion of Iraq showed that even an operation designed as a limited regime decapitation can precipitate state collapse in centralized, authoritarian political systems, after which must follow either martial law imposed by a large military presence or civilian authority prepared to step in and immediately assume responsibility for governance― itself a massive undertaking. If this does not happen, the void will at least partly be filled by malignant actors.”


Theresa May to offer Labour MPs cash for their constituents in bid to win Brexit deal Business Insider

UK factories stockpile at fastest pace in 27 years, survey says FT and UK car plant investment slumps as production falls to 5-year low FT

‘Deflection script’ used to get Universal Credit claimants off the phone emerges Sky News

£300,000 Margaret Thatcher statue needs plinth ‘to keep out vandals’ ITV

Italy slides into recession after economy shrinks Reuters


Erik Prince company to build training center in China’s Xinjiang Nikkei Asian Review

How a Tainted Heart Drug Made in China Slipped Past the FDA Bloomberg

Chinese railroads:

Xinhua has been running a (heart-tugging) series on multi-generational railway families. Moving from steam to high-speed rail in forty years is pretty amazing, no two ways about it.

How the South Manchuria Railway Shaped Modern China Sixth Tone


Indian jobless rate at multi-decade high, report says, in blow to Modi Reuters

Unemployment After Demonetisation, GST Was Even More Than 6.1%: Report The Wire (J-LS).

Worse than plastic waste: the burning tyres choking India Guardian

Trump Transition

Trump, in Interview, Calls Wall Talks ‘Waste of Time’ and Dismisses Investigations NYT

Trump, Dem talk of ‘smart wall’ thrills tech companies The Hill. Ka-ching.

Trump ordered 15,000 new border and immigration officers — but got thousands of vacancies instead Los Angeles Times

Roger Stone Discovery Is ‘Voluminous and Complex,’ Mueller Team Says

Democrats in Disarray

What The Left Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren HuffPo (OregonCharles).

The Kind Of Policy We Must Never Make Again Current Affairs. Obama’s “Race to the Top.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Apple restores Facebook’s ability to run internal iOS apps The Verge

Exclusive: Ex-NSA cyberspies reveal how they helped hack foes of UAE Reuters. That’s nice. Neera Tanden’s CAP took UAE money until last week (unless she simply converted them to anonymous donors).

Trump’s slow-building war on intelligence WaPo

Health Care

The media is badly botching the Medicare-for-all debate WaPo. Unexpectedly good.

Our Famously Free Press

Loss of newspapers contributes to political polarization Associated Press

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Detroit Cop Posts Racist Video Of Black Woman In Freezing Cold After He Seized Her Car HuffPo. This is bad, and that cop should feel bad.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Weaponized Interdependence Interdependence (PDF) Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman, International Securuity (forthcoming). “We develop a different understanding of state power, which highlights the structural aspects of interdependence. Specifically, we show how the topography of the economic networks of interdependence intersect with domestic institutions and norms to shape coercive authority. Our account places networks such as financial communications, supply chains, and the Internet, which have gone largely neglected by international relations scholars, at the heart of a compelling new understanding of globalization and power.” For example, SWIFT.

Class Warfare

Poor southerners are joining the globe’s climate migrants Scalawag (MR). “Public housing residents, along with other poor, disabled, elderly, and vulnerable people, are becoming a first wave of climate migrants in the U.S.—people selectively displaced by increasingly frequent storms and floods, moved because they can’t afford to stay. Their forced removal also marks the sputtering end of a long effort to close down the project of government-subsidized housing in this country, leaving affordable housing to the so-called free market.” Never let a crisis go to waste.

How Houston Has Virtually Ended Homelessness Among Veterans Pacific Standard (TW). TW: “Making veterans the first part of the homeless population for the police to focus on is probably very effective in breaking down the resistance to empathy that conservative types (which the police mostly are) and educates them in later assisting other homeless people who do not immediately get sympathy from police as veterans probably do.”

As the €500 note slowly dies, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff is getting his wish Quartz

Gallup poll: Animosity toward Trump, Putin ‘must worry all of us’ Deutsche Welle. “[F]or the first time we are registering a downtrend in the ratings for all major political leaders in the world.” Moar cowbell.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

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. Steve H.

    > America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate’

    “genocide-generated drop in CO₂.”

    0h oh. At least pandemics don’t require villains.

    “ravaged by introduced disease (smallpox, measles, etc)”


      1. Steve H.

        “Ruddiman’s idea was simple: the destruction of Indian societies by European epidemics both decreased native burning and increased tree growth. Each subtracted carbon dioxide from the air.”

        Truth be told, not yet, but it’s sitting next to me now.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It’s excellent.

          IIRC, yes, native Americans managed grasslands and forests (IIRC from 1491) with controlled burns. So if we think of the issues that Southeast Asia has with farmers burning off the rice fields, or the same with palm oil plantations, maybe we can picture the sky at burning season back then. Then come the epidemics (1493) and all that comes to an end.

      1. Cal2

        Never fear, 500 years later, the demographic reconquista coming from Latin America is converting what’s left of our once forested and agricultural lands with apartment buildings and parking lots for old SUVs.

        Without that, there’d be no population groaf.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      It’s going to be a very bad day when people realize that it’s much easier to reduce 20% of the people than get all the people to reduce 20% of their CO2 emissions.

      1. Cat Afficionado

        It’s the simple, and to many ugly, reality. Emissions = X people using resources at a rate of Y units per person. The focus has been exclusively on the Y term, with anyone caring presumably because letting this all spiral out of control will lead to large involuntary drops in the X term. Humans dislike admitting it, but we are just like every other animal, with the innate drive to make babies driving nearly everything we do in all aspects of life. Scientists and politicians all have enough self interest (driven significantly by the fact that most of them have offspring to provide for) to not mention anything that remotely sounds like voluntary curtailment of the X term because that would be the end of their career as the mob came for them.

        I am of the opinion that the global human population is going to end up being < 1 billion at some point, and it will be the limits of a finite reality which put us there.

    2. efschumacher

      Why wouldn’t this Little Ice Age effect be pushed back 150 years, to around 1347-9, when the Plague killed off 1/3 or more of the Eurasian population?

      1. Steve H.

        Dr Thomas van Hoof thinks exactly that. Others offer consideration of the capacity of the ocean to absorb CO2 that may have mitigated the response.

        In both cases you have 10^7..8 deaths. Effects could have stacked.

  2. Wukchumni

    For the record:

    I was nowhere near Sioux Falls during the deep freeze, and would never stoop to delivering puns of the quality in theory proffered @ Wal*Mart, which is the entirely wrong venue for wordplay, although Target isn’t much better for spokecabulary.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate”

    What is it Yves said once? Oh yeah – correlation is not causation. If what this article is saying is true, then you would expect to see something similar during and after the years of the Black Death in the mid-1300s. About a third of all humans in Europe alone died in those few years so you would expect there to be a similar effect on the climate then. I do not know if London’s University College has thought to check this out though.

    1. David

      I wondered that as well. Does it have something to do with the fact that in the 14th century a much larger proportion of Europeans lived on towns than was the case in the Americas a couple of centuries later? My recollection is that the Black Death was introduced by seaborne trade into ports, and was always disproportionately concentrated in areas of high population density. So changes in land use would have been much less.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I would have assumed so too David but after reading two books that I have on the Black Death, the countryside seems to have been hit just as bad if not worse than the cities. Probably the effect of infected city-dwellers fleeing into the countryside and spreading it there before news spread of what they may have been carrying. I seem to recall that the Scandinavian countryside was particularly badly hit by the Black Death and I think that there was an article mentioning this on NC last year.

        1. Wukchumni

          Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” is a tell tale of the Black Death and more. Recommended.

        2. rusti

          Probably the effect of infected city-dwellers fleeing into the countryside and spreading it there before news spread of what they may have been carrying.

          Thanks Rev Kev (Colonel Smithers’ politeness is a bit infectious, isn’t it?). I thought the disease vector for the “second plague” in Europe was a bit unclear other than the original transmission to port cities from the Genoese ships coming from the Black Sea to Mediterranean ports in 1347.

          If you or anyone else can suggest some books that have a bit more of a global history of the Black Death I would be curious to hear suggestions. I read John Kelley’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time and was a bit disappointed by the narrow focus and wasn’t all that impressed by the author’s style. I wanted to learn more about what happened in Asia and here in Scandinavia but the former was almost entirely absent and the latter was relegated to a single page.

          1. ambrit

            The trouble with wars is that they institute a population spike soon after. “Sex and Death” isn’t just an advertising jingle.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Mt. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, though I can’t say it was bigger than the ones elsewhere around the world since then.

            2. norm de plume

              BoJo rehashing a Churchill tale:

              The great story about when the chief whip comes to tell him about some minister who’s disgraced himself on a park bench. Some Tory cabinet minister is caught on a park bench at 6 o’clock in the morning in February with a guardsman, which is a total disgrace. And obviously the party machine starts to think he’s got to resign and the news of this is brought to Churchill in his study in Chartwell. And he doesn’t turn around from his desk and the chief whip’s relating this unhappy event, and Churchill says after a long pause, “Do you mean to say that so and so was caught with a guardsman?” “Yes, prime minister.” “On a park bench?” “Yes.” “At 6 o’clock in the morning?” “Yeah, that’s right.” “In this weather?” “Yes, prime minster.” “By God, man, it makes you proud to be British.”

        3. Cal2

          “you would expect to see something similar during and after the years of the Black Death in the mid-1300s. About a third of all humans in Europe alone died in those few years so you would expect there to be a similar effect on the climate then.”

          Probably has to do with the vegetation on the land that was reforested when people gone.
          South American jungle absorbs far more carbon than does European grassland or forest.

          And there is the need for woodcutting for winter heating which isn’t needed in the tropics and semi-tropics. Lots of city dwellers going into the countryside would mean more trees cut down.

        4. berit

          The Rev Kev’s remembrance is right. Ca 60% of the population in Norway is said to have succumbed. Villages and farms went back to nature. Ødegård – desolatefarm – is still name of places and a common family name.

          1. berit

            Historians estimate that as many as 75 million people died, 50 of 80 million in Europe, around 60% of the population. New research implies that the contamination may have been spread by the mongol conquerors to the west.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        My understanding of it is that after the Black Death there was a significant conversion of arable to pasture (mostly sheep), as this needed far less human labour.

        Much the same after the Irish Potato famine – despite losing maybe a quarter of its population there wasn’t a significant abandonment of agricultural land – the uplands simply became sheep pasture. There was no major increase in woodlands in Ireland after the famine. In Scotland, after the clearance, there was even less woodland, as instead of a landscape of mixed woodlands and arable, it all got eaten by sheep, which destroyed almost all Scotlands forests by preventing regeneration.

        1. Wukchumni

          John Muir termed sheep ‘hoofed locusts’ as many millions of them were led into the Sierra Nevada high country, where they did their thing eating anything alive on the ground.

          They also nearly killed off the Sierra Bighorn Sheep, as they had scabies, which the latter had no defense against.

    2. madarka

      IIRC there was a study that found Genghis Khan’s conquests also cooled the climate through the same genocidal mechanism as in that study. I’d expect the Black Death – global cooling study to be already on someone’s to-do list.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      I’m only a layperson but I read through the original publication linked to above and thought the same thing.

      There are so many assumptions in the research to justify the hypothesis that it seems to just fall apart as one reads it.

    4. liam

      Relative population density and the degree to which farming had developed would play a large role. ~60 million across both north and south America reduced to ~5 million is an order of magnitude larger than what occurred in Europe, whilst simultaneously starting from a much less dense population with presumably less developed agriculture and, as David points out, no urbanisation. The effect is also recorded over a hundred years, so the replacement of a much smaller relative mortality would be significantly faster in Europe. I don’t think the two events are comparable.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I agree overall, Liam — the loss of 55 million is an order of magnitude difference from the Black Death.

        However, it’s not correct to say that there was no urbanization in the Americas. Not only were there huge conurbations in Mesoamerica and South America (the Aztecs and Incas, e.g.), but also in North America as well. Mississippian mound-building cultures achieved an impressive degree of urbanization — Cahokia, opposite what is today St. Louis, was a very big city (I’ve seen estimates of c. 25,000). The Spanish descriptions of it (De Soto ran afoul of the Cahokians) paint the picture of a major urban area, as does archaeological evidence. Nor was Cahokia an isolated example — the Mississippian mound-builders stretched from Ohio to Wisconsin to Louisiana. The mounds, as ritual structures, required an excess of food and population to build. These were quite urbanized societies, especially compared with neighboring hunter-gatherers and small-scale horticulturalists.

        1. David

          It’s all relative. Paris in the 14th century had a population of several hundred thousand, and London perhaps half that many. The suggestion, I think, is that people would either flee from cities of die there from the plague; but that when the plague was over they would return. There was thus little change in land use. Would this also have been true of cities in the Americas? Do we know what proportion of the population was urbanised?

      2. Swamp Yankee

        I agree overall, Liam — the loss of 55 million is an order of magnitude difference from the Black Death.

        However, it’s not correct to say that there was no urbanization in the Americas. Not only were there huge conurbations in Mesoamerica and South America (the Aztecs and Incas, e.g.), but also in North America as well. Mississippian mound-building cultures achieved an impressive degree of urbanization — Cahokia, opposite what is today St. Louis, was a very big city (I’ve seen estimates of c. 25,000). The Spanish descriptions of it (De Soto ran afoul of the Cahokians) paint the picture of a major urban area, as does archaeological evidence. Nor was Cahokia an isolated example — the Mississippian mound-builders stretched from Ohio to Wisconsin to Louisiana. The mounds, as ritual structures, required an excess of food and population to build. These were quite urbanized societies, especially compared with neighboring hunter-gatherers and small-scale horticulturalists.

        1. Wukchumni

          The thing that amazes me about the local Indians, was the idea that they kept the population more or less the same for a long time here. They didn’t have to ‘grow or die’, as per our stratagem.

          There were historically about 2,000 Wukchumni for a few thousand years, and what’s more amazing, is that is the current population of haoles living on their land.

          You usually expect wide variances in indigenous populations, versus Americans living there now, such as LA or SF, where they were maybe 100,000 Indians in total living in both locations.

      3. Cal2

        Plus slash and burn in the tropics, releasing lots of carbon from a deeper sink.

        Slash and burn and logging are going on right now. Palm oil and cheap furniture made of ground up tropical trees converted into sawdust in your house?
        You are contributing to deforestation then.

    5. Lee

      Some number crunching would be called for to test this as well as some guessing. From a quick perusal: 25 million died during the black plague. New world numbers are uncertain. Population estimates range from 10 to 100 million. New world death rates due to European diseases are estimated to range from 70 to 90 percent. Also, how many of those who died were engaged in crop production, and the plant species succession on fallow fields would also have to be taken into account. Obviously, more research is required to settle this question. Did I mention that I have some experience in grant writing?

    6. rd

      I don’t believe the changes in Europe’s forest areas changed much during the Black Death. In general, the same areas were being farmed at the end as at the beginning.

      However, in the Americas, the disease spread far ahead of the white settlers, so the native population reduction resulted in substantially less deliberate annual burning to prevent forest regrowth and thinning underbrush in areas that had previously had substantial population. The areas west of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers and the Appalachian Mountains didn’t open up until the Erie Canal opened in 1825. So there was two centuries of forest regrowth in those regions that then got cleared by white settlers in the 19th century.

    7. Adam1

      Interestingly many historical temperature estimates put the end of the medieval warming period around 1350 which does correspond with the Black Death. Some mark this as the beginning of the Little Ice Age, but there is normally also estimated temperature recovery through about 1500 before another leg down.

      This isn’t the only one out there but this is a clear representation…

      And this study around Germany has lots of interesting charts that show similar…

      1. Another Scott

        And there is also a correlation between the end of the Western Roman Empire and the end of the Roman Warm Period (250BC-450AD). I think there were abandonments of estates in parts of the empire that fell under the control of other strong states, such as the Arabs (in contrast to petty kings in the Western provinces), which would support a theory of climate change in the years following the end of the Western Roman Empire.

        One concern I have about these is the tendency to focus on “the West” rather than developments in other parts of the world. Shouldn’t a period of hardship in China have as much of an impact on global climate patterns as one in the Mediterranean Basin? I’m a little more cautious about the earlier periods than the depopulation of the Americas for this reason.

        But the implications of this impact are more far-reaching if true. Does civilization and its associated agricultural cause global warming? Is industrialization merely an acceleration of the process rather than its sole cause?

        1. Adam1

          Asia… China… great questions. Interestingly the rising global temperatures during the Medieval Maximum Period corresponds with the rise and peak of the Song Dynasty in China. Somewhere around 1000 AD the Chinese start burning coal for energy and iron production soars. The Medieval Max peaks at about the time the Song Dynasty is stagnating and heading for collapse and Mongol invasion. Much of the world looks to be in trouble by the mid-1300’s. Black Death ravaging Europe, collapse of several kingdoms in the middle east, India and Mongol China. I’d suspect this would drive a lot of land use change (CO2 sequestration) and decreases in economic activity (lower CO2 production). The other interesting point is that by around 1400 temperatures are rising which also corresponds with the rise of the Ming Dynasty in China where iron production becomes triple the Song Dynasty. But global temperatures decline markedly around 1500. Is it just do to the mass die-off in the Americas? There are other empires falling in central Asia and India. Maybe they contributed as well, but China’s got to be producing massive CO2 emissions during this same period.

          Interesting possible hypothesis anyhow.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The one distinguishg factor between ceramics made in northern China and souther China is in the north, they used to use coal, whereas in the south, it was wood burning kilns.

            The Southern Song dynasty dates from 1127. Jingdezhen was only beginning to attract displaced refugee potters from the north. Hutien was the local center. Longquan in Zhejiant, the adjacent province, was bigger and well known. The dynasty set up a few imperial kilns around Ling’an to recreate wares used in the old capital, Kaifeng.

        2. Procopius

          Wasn’t the Plague of Cyrpian about 250 AD? It killed off a significant number of people as I recall, but not as many as the 14th Century.

      2. JohnnyGL

        So perhaps we can get an ‘all of the above’ argument going?

        Mongols, Black Death, genocide in Americas all helping to reinforce massive cooling trends which rapidly turned around with the population boom and industrial take off in 1800s?

        I don’t have a reference handy, but I think there’s a couple of medieval scholars who’ve tied climate change to the Asian migrations of nomadic steppe dwelling peoples like Turks and others and the Mongol invasions and argued it seems like it’s wrapped up in changes to the productivity of the grasslands. Apparently, the grasslands dried out, pushing people west to look for better grazing.

        I should look it up, sounds like an interesting thesis.

    8. Synapsid

      Rev Kev, David and everyone else replying on this topic:

      Start here: Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum, revised edition or later, by William Ruddiman.

      It deals with the effects of the spread of agriculture (Plows), pandemics (Plagues), and the use of petroleum, on levels of atmospheric CO2.

    9. Anon

      Well, a third is much less than 90%, and that is what smallpox and measles wrought in the America’s (North and South). You may want to read Chapter 8 in Charles C. Mann’s book, titled “1491” to learn how much the native Americans modified the broader landscape with fire and then agriculture (extensively managing forests for bison then maise (corn)).

      The article speaks about an American continental Pre-Columbian population (including what we now call Mexico) of 50 to 60 million (Teotihuacan in Mexico is thought to have had a population of 25 million). That continental population collapsed down to 5 or 6 million after the scourge of smallpox and the small bullets of Conquistadors from the “Old World”. It is documented that the North American continent experienced radical changes in its landscape due to indigenous populations and that tree canopy (forests) changed in size and type. Removing most of the manipulators (Indians) surely would allow the land to follow a “ecological succession” process to a climax forest state. (And larger forests would remove more CO2)

      I’m not an expert, but the idea’s presented in the article are not without substance. And the New World was NOT empty when discovered; Cahokia, on the confluence of the Illinois and Missippi rivers, in the 12th century had a larger population than London.

  4. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Facebook and fake accounts

    I’ve posted on platforms where I had any number of different usernames, and that was back in the olden times before all these platforms started selling ads. My old usernames can still be found at one of those prominent websites that is now raking in money off of ads. If they haven’t bothered to stop counting my accounts that haven’t been used for going on a decade now, I doubt FB has any motivation to either.

    The fact that these platforms are riddled with fake and dead accounts really shouldn’t be news to anyone, but FB has been getting away with fleecing the rubes because of it. Have none of the advertisers ever posted on social media themselves? You’d think advertisers would demand accurate independent metrics rather than just taking Facebooks word for it. There’s far too much deference to these tech companies from people who don’t really understand how the tech works.

    1. pricklyone

      Ad revenue has always been the model. Even “back in the day”. Other than self-supported vanity projects, where else would the money have come from? I have never seen any other model for ‘free’ services. ??
      That said, does using a nom de plume qualify as a fake account? It was my understanding that FB, Twitter, and the like had a ‘real name’ policy, which was, and is, widely ignored.
      Do Lambert and Yves use their pseudonyms on social media?
      Shouldn’t everyone?
      I am serious, here. I do not participate in social media, as usually defined, so I have no first party frame.
      This is why I always comment on the phrase “internet meme”, as it is a creature of FB/Twitter/messaging services, not the internet as such. I am on the wider internet all day everyday, and I never see a meme in the wild. I always have to look up these references, as they mean nothing to me.
      I just had to look up “Mr. Freeze” as well.
      Fake accounts? Aren’t they all?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I don’t think a pseudonym should or would be counted as a “fake” account. What I neglected to mention above is that I won’t be using those accounts of mine ever again even if I wanted to because the platform banned them all, so they know full well there is no active user of their website affiliated with them.

        That fact that they haven’t simply deleted those accounts leads me to suspect that they are included in the total eyeballs the website touts to potential advertisers.

        Don’t do social media at all myself, this is as close as I get, but some of the websites I used to post on required a unique email address for each username created. Possibly FB et al do the same today? Maybe that’s their way to attempt to show that they have for example 10,000 unique people using their website rather than 100 people with 100 accounts each. But of course there’s nothing to stop one person from using several different email accounts to make multiple accounts on the platform (sockpuppets). In fairness, I’d imagine it would be a lot harder for these companies to keep track of sockpuppet accounts like this, although the big ones seem to be able to find out anything else they want to about their users, so it’s probably not impossible. But they certainly know which accounts they shut down themselves.

        1. Yves Smith

          If you have multiple accounts, the extra ones are fake from an ad perspective. FB also tells advertisers it has information about people “in real life” and not attributing multiple accounts to the same real person (which it clearly doesn’t do or doesn’t do much/well) says this IRL talk is hype.

    2. XXYY

      I don’t think newspapers and the direct mail industry set a terribly high standard in this area back in their day. Papers tended to use the number of papers printed as their “circulation”, and who knew what happened when you hired a direct mailer to send your flyer to X people. The incentives were exactly the same: inflate some rather opaque numbers to be able to charge more.

      Not letting FB off the hook here, but they didn’t invent this type of fraud.

    1. ambrit

      This time, unlike back in the 1980’s, it looks like China and Russia are ready to commit significant resources to support the Anti-Yanqui-Imperialist forces.
      After all the d—ing about we in the West got up to on the borders of Russia in recent times, I would not be surprised if the Russians now considered the Monroe Doctrine as null and void.

  5. Wukchumni

    As the €500 note slowly dies, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff is getting his wish Quartz

    There’ll always be the Swiss 1000 Franc note for those that want to carry a lot in a little package, and it’s worth 2x as much as a €500 note.

    We had $500, $1000, $5000 & $10000 federal reserve banknotes about 80 years ago when $10,000 would buy you a home worth $5 million now, on Lido Isle in Newport Beach in 1940.

  6. zagonostra

    >Michael Hudson

    Where is the left in all this? That is the question with which I opened this article. How remarkable it is that it is only right-wing parties…are opposing NATO militarization and seeking to revive trade and economic links with the rest of Eurasia.

    There is no effective organized “left.” What you have is an inchoate movement in the french GJ that may or may not congeal into a “left.” The OWS was a brief spark that was snuffed out by Obama and his employer before it could gather enough oxygen.

    The seething anger is there, just below the M$M projected unreality. How long it can be tamped down, I don’t know, but if Hudson’s article is correct and Trump has accelerated the decline of the financial hegemony of the dollar then I may actually see a movement gather that disrupts the ruling elites that control the machinery of government before too long….Hudson is my favorite author on economics, thanks for linking to his articles.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I didn’t read (yet) the Hudson article–I’m not sure I have time this morning but I want to categorically say that those who understand the financial system have to understand that it is all interlocked. If the dollar and the Empire is threatened then the whole thing collapses and nobody knows what will happen and the elites will simply not let that happen. That’s why NATO, the EU and all the major structures are supported by the Euro elite and why the major European powers all support American imperialism because they know that American power even when it’s insane (or as neocons like to say the insanity of US policy is what keeps the world in a state of fear) keeps order and structure in the world and defends, everywhere, the privileges of the rich.

      As for the left–there is virtually no real left anymore mainly because the population of the West is largely more interested in comfort, escapism and security at all costs–until that changes and young people climb out of their phones nothing will change.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, Chris.

        Just to add that the European and American elites fraternise much more than imagined. I don’t get the impression that the left organises or is interested in organising globally.

        Due to where I went to school and work, I have come across many of that elite. It is something that I have discussed with Redlife 2017 and speaking to her Labour Party forum.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Have you read Christopher Lasch’s *Revolt of the Elites*? Gives a kind of history of the elites in the USA.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Chris.

            I haven’t, but will.

            The elites either side of the Atlantic realise that they must hang together. I reckon that this century has seen a greater consciousness of their interests over national borders.

      2. pricklyone

        I, as an over 60 denizen, have to defend the young here. They are probably the most enthusiastic when embracing the phones, but they are not alone.
        I just took my 96-year-old mother to the cardiologist. There were only 2 people in the waiting room who I would describe as ‘under 50’, and they were on about politics. The rest of the room were all, from appearances, over 65, and to a person, all texting/posting for the entire hour I was present.

      3. timbers

        I don’t agree, and do agree. The distinction is this:

        Will the USD lose reserve currency soon? Probably no. And that is where I agree with you that the elites will fight to save USD as reserve currency.

        Will USD lose it’s hegemony? Probably yes, and I don’t the U.S., The Empire, or the elites can stop that.

        If you fix a few of Hudson’s errors, and take him as making the point that USD is losing it’s hegemony, IMO he is basically correct.

    2. integer

      Regarding power and the left, here’s an interesting article by Ian Welsh on what it takes to run a left-wing government:

      Seven Rules for Running a Real Left-wing Government Ian Welsh

      Most left-wing movements get into power without having properly thought out what they’ll do once in power and without a realistic understanding of the deep lack of belief in democratic norms by their right-wing opponents.

      Break your enemy’s power. If you’re any sort of left-winger worth your salt, you ethically do not believe in huge concentrations of power and money in the hands of a few people anyway. Act on your beliefs.

      And if they’ve committed a pile of crimes (and they almost always have), use those crimes against them.

      Then remember the world system is set up expressly to stop what you are doing.

      You’re tackling the dragon, and most people who do that get eaten. We tell the stories of the dragonslayers because they are so few.

      So, know the odds are against you and be willing to do what is required to improve them. If you aren’t, stay home.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Where is the left in all this? That is the question with which I opened this article. How remarkable it is that it is only right-wing parties…are opposing NATO militarization and seeking to revive trade and economic links with the rest of Eurasia.

      It’s like the Taiji symbol again – go right far enough, you get to the left side, and if you go left far enough, you get to the right side.

  7. Quanka

    Grass! Grass! Grass! Say it with me now, native grasses, which cover 40% of the vegetative surface of the Earth, are superior to trees in carbon sequestration. The physiological relationships between grass and the soil microbes are different than b/w trees and soil microbes – this allows grasses to drive (transfer) carbon into the soil whereas trees mostly store carbon.

    I love trees – but we need a public education campaign on the importance of grass to all of this mess. Converting the great plains into a corn field was far more damaging to the climate than has been acknowledged.

    1. Lee

      I love trees – but we need a public education campaign on the importance of grass to all of this mess. Converting the great plains into a corn field was far more damaging to the climate than has been acknowledged.

      One would assume perennial grasses are superior to annuals in this regard. Maize and other grain crops being an annual grasses, your example would tend to support this.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      And also mixed-species long-to-short grass prairie and plains with not just grass but also legumes, forbs, etc.

      At time of first EuroSettlement, Iowa was supposed to have had 10 foot deep hi-carbon topsoil. The multispecies grasses and non-woody perennials had kept just building up the soil-carbon and carbon-soil . . . foot after foot after foot over the centuries. What forest ever did that?

      In our own day, best-managed combos of cropland and pastureland can store up the carbon . . . and keep soil more effectively moist for longer from the skywater that falls, thereby preventing the dryness which would compromise photosynthesis.

      And also, what about wetlands? Where worn-out leaves and stems die and sink below the water to keep building the layers of stored carbon-peat up and up and up? There are plenty of areas and ecosystem-types which store up carbon better than many forests do.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are we talking about single-family detached homes with a front yard lawn and a back yard lawn being greener than say, a 2 bd apartment in a 10 story complex?

      Does it make any difference, mowed or not?

    4. JohnnyGL

      I would caution you that context/location matters. In the plains, grasses probably make more sense. In the wet tropics, you’re definitely going to want trees over grasses.

      Actually, that was an interesting point of emphasis that’s worth highlighting from the interview. The ‘reforestation’ post-genocide that mattered most seems to be in Central and S. America, according to the radio interview. That makes sense to me. Those trees spend all year sucking down carbon. Up here in the northeastern USA, our lazy trees take about 6-months off to sleep all winter.

      1. Wukchumni

        Local native grasses and trees play an interesting dormancy game, the grasses come to life in December and start dying back around June, while most of the trees are dormant from November to April.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    From the Quartz article about climate change terminology:

    “Global warming” was never the right term to use. It doesn’t come close to capturing the catastrophe that’s in our foyer and about to sweep through the house. “Climate change,” which has largely replaced “global warming” in the 2010s, is a bit better, but still doesn’t do the trick…”

    That great prophet, Jimi Hendrix, would beg to differ. Hendrix’s album “Axis: Bold as Love” opens with an odd little preface track in which an alien, played by Hendrix, is interviewed by a UFO skeptic. That leads into the first real track, “Up From the Skies,” in which the song narrator is an alien who is shocked when he re-visits Earth for the first time since the “age of ice.” This is what our alien, i.e. Hendrix finds:

    I have lived here before, the days of ice
    And of course this is why I’m so concerned
    And I come back to find the stars misplaced
    And the smell of a world that has burned
    The smell of a world that has burned

    Well, maybe, maybe it’s just a change of

    1. jrs

      A counterpunch article suggested the term “climaticide”. Because murder is being committed against our climate and there are perpetrators (I know, everyone to a small degree, but I mean the real perpetrators).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Some of us own the car, some of us are driving, some of us are happy passengers, most of us are locked in the trunk. Not many perpetrators in the trunk.

  9. allan

    “The U.S. Army In The Iraq War, Volume 2, Surge And Withdrawal 2007-2011 (PDF) … “The invasion of Iraq showed that even an operation designed as a limited regime decapitation can precipitate state collapse…”

    “can precipitate”??? Sounds awfully passive. Militaries don’t dissolve themselves and countries don’t deBaathify on their own. Shouldn’t Bremer, Feith, Rumsfeld, Cheney and the great painter himself be given all the credit they so richly deserve?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      I won’t read the report–but I’m familiar with the weasel words that are probably in it. The reason the Iraq occupation was a bit rough was very simple: massive corruption in Washington. Every hustler and pirate (Washington is more like a Star Wars cafe of villains than anything presented in the media because there is a lot of money there) in Washington came to feast on the Iraq Occupation and afterwards as they did to a lesser degree in Afghanistan. War only exists to feed the rackets. First thing they did when they invaded Iraq (and I’m told this by someone who was a senior foreign policy official) is to throw out all the briefing books from both the State Department and the CIA just as they pretty much ignored expert opinion about Vietnam.

      1. three eyed goddess

        In Tehran in the mid-seventies, I encountered a Texas oilman who breathlessly told me, “when I saw what was going down here, I ran to I-ran!”

      2. pjay

        I agree that “war only exists to feed the rackets,” and that much “expert opinion” at State, the CIA, and also in the military was ignored by the neocons in charge. But the problem I always have with these official assessments is that they assume “our” goal was quick military victory followed by stabilization, reestablishment of civic institutions, etc., etc. By those standards, our “mistakes” and “incompetence” are clear. But it seems obvious to me that the neocon plan was *precisely* “state collapse” and the exacerbation of sectarian conflict. Neocons had been writing about their plans for Balkinizing the ME for a long time. And while career experts at State, CIA, and in the military may have been ignored, others in these same institutions who were more ideologically predisposed to this project were part of it.

        I certainly have no insider information or high-level contacts to draw on here (though I do know individuals who served in different capacities in Iraq). But I don’t think our actions in the ME make sense unless we acknowledge that the chaos we created was not just a “mistake.”

      3. The Rev Kev

        You don’t know the half of it. They were interviewing for people to run Iraq after the invasion was over and if you knew anything at all about Iraq or could speak Arabic, that was an automatic disqualification. True that. They would also ask recruits how they felt about stuff like the Roe Wade decision which, if you gave the wrong answer to, would also get you eliminated. It was chaotic and an epic SNAFU and was being run by conservative college kids.
        They had one 24 year-old kid and they gave him the job of organizing the stock market in Iraq but updated to be digital. No qualifications for that of course. Another guy was an ex-cop and was told to sort out the road regulations in Iraq so he simply downloaded the traffic regs for the State that he came from, Minnesota I think, and tried to have them apply in Iraq. I bet that you won’t find stuff like that in that Pentagon report.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I bet that you won’t find stuff like that in that Pentagon report.

          You won’t. But if you translate the muffled Pentagon-ese, I think you get “JFC, what a clusterf*ck!” (the English version of “not necessarily to our advantage”). And anybody who speaks Pentagon-ese knows it.

          That’s an interesting result, I think.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Those who call for protests in the streets or ‘revolution’ should also draw conclusions from this report for their endstate should their revolution succeed. And as we look toward a future full of so many possibilities, events like natural disasters or ‘other unforeseen events — think about the ‘long’-term shutdown of electric power serving an area — might lead to decapitation of regional government. The report might be informative to a broader public.

        Here’s a hypothetical I’ve been playing with: Suppose electric power were to fail long-term — more than a month — for a large contiguous region like the East Coast. We lockup a substantial proportion of our population in our Prison Industrial Complex. How should the prison populations be dealt with when the existing food, water and sewer systems begin to fail with the already failed HVAC systems?

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Lee.

            There are UK Labour Party activists in the NC community. One hopes they can relay this to Jez Corbyn.

          2. Jeremy Grimm

            I read Ian Welsh’s seven rules but I’m not sure they deal with some of the problems George Orwell identified in a novelette I read in high school.

        1. Wukchumni

          A month w/o electricity and just about every last fruit and nut tree in the Central Valley would die of thirst, as electric pumps are used pretty much exclusively.

          We’re talking in numbers similar to the population of the USA, around 300 million food bearing trees~

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          This thread relates to the US Army After Action and Lessons Learned report on their Iraq adventure. Perhaps the time has come to craft an After Action and Lessons Learned Report for Human Society and Civilization of the 21st Century. It might prove of value to those who survive the Jackpot.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      If you ‘like’ the passive style of this report extract I suspect you’ll love the abbreviations used — see pp. 659-664. I haven’t read this report yet, though I have read other reports from the War College. I did a quick inspection of some of the things I would look for when reading other War College reports: This report was posted at the US Army War College with a COL and LT. COL as main its authors along with several intelligence officers contributing to the report. Like any report of this kind, essentially an academic report, it must conform to the standards of the publisher — the US Army War College. There were numerous high ranking officers among those interviewed including a large number of generals. I even spotted Secretary Leon Panetta in the list of those interviewed. I think that rather than wonder at the uses of passive voice, euphemism, and jargon — you might wonder at the relative brevity and bluntness in the way the report is written. I would guess this series of reports make some judgments guaranteed to ruffle feathers. That combined with the many times it’s impossible to known what actors drive the events in an engagement should more than explain the use of a passive voice.

  10. Wukchumni

    When pregnant Chinese women called You Win USA Vacation Services, they didn’t receive information on visiting Disneyland or the Grand Canyon.

    Instead, they sought coveted advice on how to make a very different type of trip — one aimed at giving birth on U.S. soil so their children would be American citizens. You Win USA employees allegedly coached the women on the lies they should write on bogus applications for tourist visas and made sure the women traveled before their bellies swelled too much to conceal.

    Fly first to Hawaii to blend in with the hordes of tourists, and list the Trump International Hotel in Honolulu as your destination, the women were told. Then, hop a flight to Los Angeles.

    It was a scheme that federal authorities say went on for years. But Thursday, the operator of You Win USA and the owners of another allegedly illicit “birth tourism” company in Southern California were arrested and charged with an array of crimes including immigration fraud, money laundering and identity theft, according to indictments filed in U.S. District Court.

    Not mentioned in the article is the Pheasant Ridge apartment complex near Puente Hills mall. We used to sneak in to play tennis there in the early 1980’s when it was new, but now just about any time of day, you’ll see Chinese women with bellies bulging walking on the sidewalk on nearby Colima Avenue.

    This has been going on since the turn of the century…

      1. newcatty

        Great idea! The walls around each of the islands should be built to keep out scalawags and criminal entities like Monsanto from building “test farms” on the lands , often right next to schools and residential neighborhoods. This will need to be done as the kingdom of Hawaii is reclaimed. The rightful heir to the throne will have an elected representative government to serve the people. The infrastructure will be completely sustainable and renewable. Food will all be locally grown. I don’t know how a new invasion by the Empire Will be stopped, but think someone might have some ideas about that…

        1. Wukchumni

          For what it’s worth dept:

          Hawaiians were known as Kanakas in early California. Richard Henry Dana describes them wonderfully in Two Years Before The Mast.

          The Owhyhee River in Idaho, Nevada & Oregon is a crude rendering of the word Hawaii.

    1. Off The Street

      If you build it, they will come.

      Those fields of dreams are siren calls to many around the world, and we’ve made it so easy to heed.

    2. Lee

      In related news from a year ago but still timely:

      H-1B: Foreign citizens make up nearly three-quarters of Silicon Valley tech workforce, report says

      With the debate over immigration to the U.S. as fiery as ever, a new analysis suggests that Silicon Valley would be lost without foreign-born technology workers.

      About 71 percent of tech employees in the Valley are foreign born, compared to around 50 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region, according to a new report based on 2016 census data.

      So, Americans are not only unwilling to pick strawberries and engage in other manual labor but we are also too lazy, stupid, and uppity to train for and take tech jobs. With so many Americans unwilling to do just about everything, it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

      1. cm

        So, Americans are not only unwilling to pick strawberries and engage in other manual labor but we are also too lazy, stupid, and uppity to train for and take tech jobs. With so many Americans unwilling to do just about everything, it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

        What an ignorant statement. For years my tech job has been threatened by H1Bs. The wealthy & powerful prefer to illegally hire H1Bs at a fraction of the market rate, and there’s nothing I (or any other non 1%) can do about it.

        1. Lee

          I was being ironic. Sometimes I forget that tone of voice is not conveyed in writing and that others cannot read my mind. There’s that snark tag thingy, which I typically do not use but perhaps I should. I would add that I started my working life doing a lot of those unpleasant, dangerous, and dirty jobs that Americans are said to be unwilling to do and I do take a bit of pride in that fact.

      2. John k

        Unwilling to do just about anything…
        …at the price the employer prefers to pay.
        Gotta complete the sentence.

      3. jrs

        yes we’re unwilling to pick strawberries, work construction, garden, do housecleaning or babysitting, work fast food, sit in an air conditioned cube and code … And then I hear we are also too lazy to work in the national parks so visas are needed for that as well (well it is a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it …). Wow we’re lazy. And the really lazy crowd is those over 50, they seem to choose to be unemployed a lot.


        1. jrs

          neoliberal propaganda radio (NPR) informed me visa’s are desperately need to get people to work in the national park resorts etc.. So I guess it must be so :-O

    3. newcatty

      FWIW, there may not be a lot of pregnant (at least as far as i could tell) Chinese or other Asian women at the Grand Canyon the last time we visited.. Ordinarily, the summer would be the last season we would venture. But, our teen granddaughter was visiting us for a summer vacation and had never been and really wanted to go!!! She loves photography and couldn’t wait to see the Grandness through her eyes. Well, it was as expected, more crowded than Disneyland than on the first day of spring break. Lots of foreign tourists. Heard many accents. The largest number of tourists were Asian. The only, what I would call rude ones, were to be straight forward, were Asian women and girls. Literally had to be aware at all times that many would just push, nudge or jump in front of you on any trail or overlook. If one looked cross at them, they laughed or ignored you. Heaven forbid if you didn’t stop for their endless poses with groups or selfies, before continuing on your way. BTW, we encountered same behaviors at popular sites when our last vacation to BC. A lovely Asian gentleman actually looked crestfallen at his party of women’s behavior and gently offered me a smile and parted the way for us to continue on our way. I have absolutely no problem with “the other” BTW, but know some people in CA , who just have no love loss for Asians in their midst. And, I cringe at stories of American tourists who exhibit similar or worse behavior.

  11. eyelladog

    I’m disappointed in the Mr. Freeze article.

    They should have gone further with it. Easy one:

    “Allow me to break the ice. My name is…”

    Finally, after the arrest:

    “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”

    The article is definitely on thin ice. It just skated by.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Loss of newspapers contributes to political polarization”

    I would guess that a local editor that went too far off the reality reservation would have his neighbours challenge him on what he said. Certainly there would be letters to the editor. If it got bad enough, some businesses might pull their ads out of that local newspaper thus hurting revenue. With the disappearance of local newspapers people would have to depend for their news on national papers who just make up bs as they go along (see the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) and push people into partisan positions since that is more profitable. It does not matter if it is reds versus blues, straights versus LBGT, whatever. Conflict means profit which means that the media will continue to stock controversy for their own financial benefit.

    1. Wukchumni

      The new owner of the LA Times paid $500 million for it, and is pleading with me to pay 99 cents for 13 weeks worth of it.

      Seems to be a major disconnect, in value.

      1. Carolinian

        Used to be a great newspaper–still has some interesting articles. I visit the LAT site in order to avoid the NYT and WaPo which are further down the rabbit hole.

        1. Wukchumni

          Sometimes when reading articles in fishwraps, you get the idea that in order to be a reporter in this day and age, one must be able to go at least 2 pages deep into google, when researching a story.

          1. norm de plume

            Fishwrapping – one advantage of newspapers over the internet; you can’t wrap fish in a webpage.

            Reminds me of the old Soviet saw to the effect that newspapers were better than tv, because ‘you can’t wipe your ass with a tv’

          1. Anon

            Yes, the LATimes has some excellent staff writers. The new owner has allowed the paper more freedom to investigate and report. While the Times editorial staff is a little too cautious for my tastes, they are definitely sensing a cultural transition in the City and the state. The Times did an excellent job covering the recent teachers strike.

            Full Disclosure: I have friends who write for the Times.

  13. Wukchumni

    I’ve mentioned how when I proffer a federal reserve banknote to a merchant and the cashier pens it to verify it’s authenticity, that’s my cue to ask the cashier how often they encounter bad money, and i’ve never had a cashier tell me, “oh, never”, in fact with most of them, counterfeit money is something dealt with numerous times on a weekly basis. I would ask all of you to try my experiment, and don’t be afraid to ask, as you are complimenting them on their ‘expertise’, and they’ll be glad to spill their guts to you.

    Counterfeiting currency was once a very money intensive deal, as the equipment had to be similar to what is used to print notes by the government, but that was then and this is now.

    Now, everything you need is on your computer and printer…

    When Secret Service Agent Matthew Britsch began trawling for major counterfeiters in the shadowy marketplaces of the dark web, he acted like any smart consumer on eBay — he studied the reviews.

    Britsch knew he had struck gold when he found Billmaker, the online moniker of an anonymous counterfeiter who promised a high-quality $100 bill and a money-back guarantee. He even had a loyal fan base who praised his work and customer service with scores of positive reviews.

    “Very good quality and got here quick,” one gushed.

    “All passed with no issue whatsoever,” another wrote, approvingly. “FRESH CLEAN BILLS!” agreed a third.

    Once dominated by artisans who minted carefully forged greenbacks on large offset presses, domestic counterfeiters now typically rely on computers, scanners and laser printers. And some use the dark web to sell their high-quality fakes online.

    1. John

      I wonder what kind of equipment and software they are using? I’ve heard some time ago that mainstream scanners, printers and graphics software will recognize money and refuse to reproduce it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I just saw a recent Twitter thread where a graphic artist working in Photoshop. who wanted to use currency as a background was running into just this problem. Naturally, there was a workaround…

  14. erichwwk

    Wrong article linked in “joint post to Hudson’s website.

    “Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony” is here

  15. integer

    Here is a Twitter thread from Jill Stein on Russiagate and accusations that she “stole” votes from Clinton. Make sure to click through and watch the excerpt from her interview with CNN’s always-shamelessly-shilling-for-the-D-party-establishment host Erin Burnett. Stein handles herself very well imo.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “New York Insurers Can Evaluate Your Social Media Use—If They Can Prove Why It’s Needed”

    A headline for 2020 –

    “New York Insurers Can Evaluate Your DNA—If They Can Prove Why It’s Needed”

    1. allan

      One thing that sticks out in the article is

      … Under guidance released earlier this month, life insurers will have to use statistical and actuarial analysis to determine that any algorithms and data are free of bias against racial minorities and other groups protected by law. Insurers can’t accept an outside vendor’s claim that its process is fair, the department said.

      This is good policy, since we all know how theuse of “outside vendors” to rate MBS worked out in the end.
      Insurance companies won’t be able to point to consultants’ Seal of Approval and say that noonecouldhaveknown.
      But it’s perhaps not great news for firms that have sprung up to do “bias audits” of algos.

  17. Jomo

    I’ve got a better headline for that LA Times article on Customs and Border Patrol job vacancies – “$61 Million Taxpayer Dollars Paid to Private Contractor to hire 33 New Border Patrol Agents.” The corruption is staggering. If this is the cost of increased border protection, then please no more!

  18. Chris Cosmos

    Just a word on Roger Stone, who I used to know him casually (socially) in the 80s and saw him very occasionally in the 90s. First, he liked being a bad boy but was completely sincere and transparent socially. He admitted to all kinds of things and told me things about the culture of Washington, particularly the Reagan administration, which was shocking to me at the time–I never saw him as deceptive in person nor shy about telling anybody about his opportunism and ability to stay just within legal limits. But things are different now.

    Having said that if Mueller or anyone else looked deeply into any Washington operative of either party (and back in the day I knew people from both parties) they would have more than enough to convict them of the sort of vague terms crimes like “obstruction of justice.” In terms of legality I’m quite sure that almost any big shot-heavy hitter in Washington is vulnerable to prosecution for crimes should you be able to trace every bit of communication they have made in the past 20 years. I know I could be prosecuted for sure if the authorities wanted to “get me” as they do the people around Trump as we witness this slow motion coup d’etat–which at this point in history, I’m not necessarily against. But don’t be fooled Mueller and company are as sleazy or worse than Trump.

    1. whine country

      Only in Washington would a prosecutor have a record of falsely accusing the anthrax killer leading to a $5.8 million dollar settlement by the government, then be selected as special prosecutor. This incident along with the Hell’s Angels prosecution (among others) pretty clearly sum up Mueller’s bona fides. Apparently in the power circles you are not only forgiven accountability for you past failures, but rewarded. Who better to lead a prosecution on trumped up (sorry for the pun) charges. And we wonder why the system doesn’t work? I keep hoping I will wake up from a very bad dream. Hard to believe, but even Trump is not worse or more sleazy than Mueller. Trump is no more than a man child who has never in his life had to answer to anyone. Mueller is top line Washington sleaze.

      1. RUKidding

        Heartily agree with both of you. I’m a nobody from nowhere who knows no one in any type of power position. However, I’m a political junkie who’s watched/read/listened/learned/etc over the decades, and it’s been clear all along how sleazy and crooked all of these people in power are. Well just like all the super wealthy, top CEOs, etc, are, as well.

        I can’t stand Trump, but he’s probably only a slight bit more sleazy and dirty than just about anyone else. It’s just that he’s such a boor and an out front asshole that he turns many of us off. But I get it that, at the end of the day, he’s not much more corrupt and skeevy than anyone else.

        As for Mueller – yeah, he ain’t no angel either.

        Indeed my stomach tends to turn witnessing the slow moving coup. I agree that’s what it is. OTOH, I kind of think Trump deserves it, but OTOH it is setting a very very dangerous precedent.


        1. norm de plume

          ‘I can’t stand Trump, but he’s probably only a slight bit more sleazy and dirty than just about anyone else. It’s just that he’s such a boor and an out front asshole that he turns many of us off. But I get it that, at the end of the day, he’s not much more corrupt and skeevy than anyone else’

          It is a constant source of wonder to me that Trump seems to embody for most people I know some sort of radical decline in presidential quality. They have trouble believing he actually exists, or rather that someone like him can ascend to the loftiest perch. I generally say ‘this is the country that gave us GW Bush, remember? Twice!’ But even dyed in the wool progs do not see Dubya on the same spectrum as The Donald, who is out there on his own. Beats me.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      The title of the link gives Mueller’s game away. He wants to use the threat of breaking Stone financially with the discovery costs to force him into negotiating a plea. He’s set up a GoFundMe site to help with those costs.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Indeed. That’s how the powerful almost always win in court. I’m sure Roger knew what was going to come down on him so he’s bound to have money salted away somewhere.

        1. Off The Street

          One side salts away money because the other side salts away 8×10 glossies. Or is it vice versa?

          There is a kind of balance of terror that seems to readjust episodically when the opponent(s) just won’t think or do what one wants and need some encouragement.

          Recall Napoléon’s words: Pour encourager les autres.

      2. Roy G

        Imo, the choice to prosecute Stone is a.) a sign of desperation, b.) a ‘tell’ that the investigation is really going nowhere, c.) highly likely to backfire, given Stone’s personality and experience, or d.) all of the above.

        Of all people, I think Stone is most likely to embrace this situation and turn it against Mueller, and do some damage to the carefully controlled message. I don’t like the guy, but I respect his Beltway street smarts and willingness to do the dirty work. What’s that old saying again about ‘never wrestle with a pig?’

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Maybe. But remember Mueller is a made-man Stone is not. Unless the entire Empire crumbles Mueller will always have the upper-hand. I see no knives being unsheathed against him. At bets, Stone will plead guilty to somethings–that can’t be avoided–if any of us were brought before a ghoul like Mueller we’d be in prison for a long time. Not only can a skilled prosecutor indicts a ham-sandwich (particularly a guy so in bed with the media) but he can eat it too.

    3. integer

      I suspect very few people here think Mueller in any way resembles the paragon of virtue that he is presented as by the liberal media establishment. Personally, the fact that he was appointed Director of the FBI one week before 9/11 has never sat well with me. Regarding the Stone indictment, it is farcical. The idea that WikiLeaks would even entertain the idea of giving inside information to an opportunistic political operative like Stone, let alone use him as a conduit to the Trump campaign, is laughable. My suspicion is that Mueller, for reasons that I listed here, is purposely dragging out the investigation in order to keep the Russiagate narrative alive for as long as possible.

      1. pjay

        Strongly second your comments. Anyone familiar with Mueller’s background should have known what his appointment would mean for this “investigation.” Trump scares the hell out of the Borg because as an unpredictable bull in their China shop he exposes their secrets and threatens to bring down their neoliberal order, wittingly or not (the theme of today’s excellent article by Michael Hudson).

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Since Trump isn’t a troubled Muslim teenager, I always assumed the whole process was a farce because why else would you hire Bob Mueller.

    4. bob

      ‘if Mueller or anyone else looked deeply into any Washington operative of either party’

      This is Mueller’s biggest problem. How to find a crime that the Trump Dolts are guilty of, but that the rest of the Washington Consensus isn’t.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Crime is central to Washington politics or any politics of any major imperial power. No one will touch you if you know which rings to kiss–that’s just reality. The only time they go after you is if you piss off the powerful whether in Washington or Wall Street.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Just a word on Roger Stone, who I used to know him casually (socially) in the 80s

      The NC commentariat is the best commentariat

      > I’m quite sure that almost any big shot-heavy hitter in Washington is vulnerable to prosecution for crimes should you be able to trace every bit of communication they have made in the past 20 years.

      What, you’re telling me Roger Stone isn’t a “bad apple”?

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Trump’s slow-building war on intelligence”

    Trump may have been right about ISIS at least. They have only a tiny bit of territory left and the Kurds are grinding them to dust with Coalition support. On a map it looks like less than 10 square miles. They have their back to a river with the Syrian Army waiting for them on the other side. Sure you are going to have die-hards and sleeper cells afterwards but they are a job for local defense forces and police.
    In some ways I can sympathize with the intelligence community. When they do their actual job that is. Before the Iraq invasion Cheney was going down to the desks of the intelligence analyzers and was browbeating them into coming up with a report that he could use to justify the invasion. Many of them buckled and this was not a secret at the time.
    After the invasion when it came out that there was no WMD and the body count for American troops was going past the first thousand, a remarkable thing happened. All the main stream media had a severe attack of amnesia and started to lay the blame for the whole invasion at the feet of the intelligence community for coming up with bogus information. I bet that they have not forgotten that little episode.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      As long as the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq continue to contain all the Saddam Husssein-era secret police people, the bitter out-of-power Baathists, the Saddam era ex-army people – – especially the officers; Sunni Arab Iraq will breed “ISIS” after “ISIS” after “ISIS”.

      The only way to stop that would be for the Shia Supremacist regime in Baghdad to grant rights and respect and fairness to the several million Sunni Arab tribe-members in the Sunni Arab communities and regions. That would deprive the bitter Baathists of the pool of disaffected Sunni Arab Iraqis from whom the Bitter Baathists can keep drawing recruits.

      The only group with the power to make the Shia Supremacist regime in Baghdad show fairness to the Sunni Arab Iraqis would be the IranGov. And the IranGov would have to use all kinds of extreme pressure against its Shia Iraqi proteges to force them into granting a measure of decent treatment which would go against every revenge-instinct the Shia Iraqis feel.

      And does the IranGov even care anyway? After all, a perpetually unstable Iraq serves two purposes for Iran. It keeps troubling the West with ISIS after ISIS after ISIS. It also keeps
      Iraq from ever cohering and re-developing enough to regain full functional independence from Iran.

    2. Plenue

      Funny how the Kurds started making significant progress at reducing that pocket only after Trump announced the Syria pullout. Before that it was the better part of a year of largely static lines.

  20. rd

    Re: Media botching Medicare-for-all debate

    The first thing that is need is for Americans to understand that other countries are able to accomplish something successfully other than food. Once that realization sinks in, then it is possible to look to see what they are doing and to see what we can learn from it. American Exceptionalism is getting in the way of us actually being exceptional because it is not inherent, but instead must be worked at.

    Understanding that data exists is also a useful start.

    1. Plenue

      Hey now, I have it on the authority of many New Yorkers that foreigners can’t even do food right. Don’t you know the best Chinese/Italian/Greek/whatever food is from a little place on the corner of Ignorance and Arrogance?

      Also dey ain’t got no culcha ‘out there’, which is basically all farmland (the worst possible thing, next to Joisey) anyway.

      If you can’t trust the verdict of a guy whose sole experience of the wider world is that time he took a school trip to Staten Island, who can you trust?

    2. Glen

      It is obvious that Medicare for All is less expensive. It is the same principle which reduces the cost of private healthcare insurance: a larger pool of people reduces the cost for the individual.

      What these billionaires are really saying is that Medicare for All eliminates their opportunity to profit off the sick and the dying, and raises their taxes. Profit is why Amazon and Walmart are looking at expanding into the heathcare insurance business. So TINA.

      Any of these politicians and billionaires pointing out that Medicare for All is too expensive should be called what they are – blood sucking ghouls profiting off sickness and death.

  21. Lee

    How a Tainted Heart Drug Made in China Slipped Past the FDA Bloomberg

    My Medicare Part D supplemental plan provides a number of these tainted generics for a nominal copay or for free. I have been prescribed several of them. Fortunately, it would now seem, I had adverse reactions early on, unrelated to the carcinogenic impurities, and had to discontinue taking them withing a few days, weeks or months. Hopefully, unlike the millions who have been taking these drugs for years, my limited exposure will not result in a higher risk of developing cancer. Meanwhile, the condition for which the drugs were prescribed goes untreated. And given that I now view every pill I am prescribed with suspicion, this likely to remain the case for some time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Since the revelation that Zhejiang Huahai’s valsartan contained NDMA, the FDA has repeatedly updated the recall notice as new samples of valsartan—and even similar drugs called losartan and irbesartan—are found to be contaminated. The agency is attempting to determine how the chemical made its way into the products and is reviewing the companies’ manufacturing processes to determine if they might risk forming NDMA or NDEA.

      I assume from that they are talking about losartan and irbesartan from Zhejiang Huahai only, though elsewhere, other companies are recalling valsartan, not just the Chinese company.

      Both my brother and my mother take Losartan. So, that is a personal concern.

    2. Phacops

      One wonders at the current culture at the FDA to allow such drugs and drug product into distribution. The failures of major quality systems is a tipoff of other problems in a manufacturer. And, falsification of in-process or final product testing is considered product adulteration by the FD&C Act. And no warning letter? Hell, that should only be the start and the facilities should have been put under consent decrees with an embargo on all corporate sales into the US.

      Methinks that neoliberal, market solution, brainrot has infected the FDA who should be primarily concerned about regulating manufacturing to ensure the efficacy, quality and purity of drugs and devices. And if they do not have the proper resources for exacting surveillance and quality systems audits, then perhaps they should refuse to issue facility and product licenses that spreads their personnel even thinner.

  22. William Hunter Duncan

    Global warming” and “climate change” are disasters at conveying our environmental predicament Quartz

    So is this article, and most like it.

    Industrial population growth has been patholgically ecocidal. We have turned the prairies into species extermination plots, to feed people shit food that makes them ill but allows them to proliferate in their illness. We have turned the forests into monocultural pulp farms, again, exterminating species. We empty the ocean of bio-matter, filling it with plastic. We pollute across all ecosystems without any real concern for future generations, or this one really. We treat water like dirt and dirt like shit. We treat humans like we are separate from nature, exacerbating the pathologically ecocidal.

    And the vast majority of ideas about what to do about it amount to maintaining status quo consumerism/alienation from the biosphere.

    Of course, calling this arrangement pathologically ecocidal makes people shut down, and treat me like I am the problem.

      1. newcatty

        But, many think they will ride out their lives in “secret hideouts ” or in gated and fortified self sustaining enclaves. They have their own versions of biosphere 2. Or, some plan to hitch a ride to the stars… more secret and winks and nods. Problem is the people’s really can’t fathom that these rarified wealthy and connected ones really only care about themselves.

    1. KPC

      Difficult to keep this up when one is explicitly censored and prohibited from speaking in a different manner.

  23. Wukchumni

    China got fast speed trains, and all we got was fast speed money drains such as the F-35. (haven’t heard or seen one overhead for the past few months, btw)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not how fast you are going, but in what direction.

      Sure, you can migrate to Tibet much quicker now.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      Newest update on the F-35, Stealth Nightmare: Is the F-35 Unable to Fight?

      The troubled $1.5 trillion F-35 program is not ready to begin the critical combat-testing phase, the Pentagon’s testing director said in a previously undisclosed August memo obtained by the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). That decision marks another setback in the development of the Pentagon’s largest acquisition program.

      While it is not clear from the memo which specific problems remain to be resolved, previous testing reports found “key technical deficiencies in the ability of the F-35 to employ the AIM-120 weapons” (the principle air-to-air missile) and an “uncharacterized bias toward long and right of the target” when pilots fire the aircraft’s cannon, resulting in them “consistently missing ground targets during strafe testing.”

      So it is incapable of air to air combat and ground support. What a weapons platform!
      Not surprising that Germany has dropped it:
      Germany drops F-35 from fighter tender; Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter to battle on
      Tell me again about those “ponires” of Medicare for All and free tuition that are too, too expensive.

  24. willf

    “What The Left Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren”

    This story mostly seems to be mostly written to obfuscate the difference between socialism on one hand and liberalism that seeks to “save capitalism from itself” on the other. The author has omitted policy and ideological statements that both pols have made which would delineate the difference in their governing strategies quite well. (The author quotes Zaid Jilani to that effect, but also gives David Dayen a chance to push the public option as a socialist program, which seems erroneous on Dayen’s part)

    The tell comes in this paragraph:

    The trouble for leftish intellectuals is a confusion over the terms “socialism” and “capitalism.” Both words are extremely flexible, and their meanings shift with political currents. In an American context, it has never been easy to distinguish between socialism and reformed capitalism ― and committed capitalists have denounced both with vigor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was condemned as a socialist by congressional Republicans.

    FDR packed the New Deal with socialist policies (like Social Security) because these policies had popular support. But his embrace of austerity would never have happened if he was an actual socialist. As far as condemnations from Republicans, they also called him (and Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and Obama) communists as well, but it didn’t make it so.

    Now when it seems that the left is finally starting to think about pulling free of liberalism, it would be good to keep a look out for propaganda that seeks to conflate the two ideologies, to the benefit of the latter.

    1. Cal2

      Sanders is wrong about Venezuela, Chile and Guatemala being the same…

      Chile had copper, Guatemala Bananas and Venezuela has oil.

      My prediction: Bolivia is next as it is sitting on the world’s largest reserves of lithium on one huge dry lake. The largest of their kind in the world. You can’t have electric cars without lithium batteries–yet.

      The Bolivian people are going to shortly need US to “bring our democracy to them”.

  25. Cal2

    “Public housing residents… are becoming a first wave of climate migrants in the U.S..”
    How can we get those hurricanes to come here?

    With the exception of seniors and disabled people, housing projects have turned out to be a disaster for the communities in which they were installed.

    60+ years of crime emanating from them, drug dealing, shootings and disaster.

    Free market solutions are, in this one case, better than concentrating potential criminals in one place plopped down into communities.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Recall the fires that destroyed numerous homes in Malibu and Montecito in the last couple of years, here in California.

      The rich may think they can recover and will not become migrants, but Nature is capable of doing more, to all of us, wealthy or not.

    2. Angie Neer

      I completely agree that ghettoizing people with no jobs and no hope is not a good approach. The free market solution to that is…what again? I dare say you and I are both potential criminals too, given the right environment.

    3. jrs

      The lack of public housing seems to be worse (yes, I’ve read Jane Jacobs or enough of it, and it’s fine as far as it goes in how city planning went wrong, but …the lack of public housing and the obvious market failure it represents are worse at this point). It’s homelessness and housing crisis, insufficient housing built for the population, and people packed into this insufficient housing, single family homes where there ought to be, well I wouldn’t say extreme density, but some level of human scale density (and what’s a good example, oh ha apartments from the 50s, they often if they are well preserved, show how they did density comfortably))

  26. JBird4049

    This is bad, and that cop should feel bad.

    For seizing a car in freezing weather for an expired tag, he should feel ashamed.

  27. pjay

    Re ‘The Kind Of Policy We Must Never Make Again’ (Obama’s “Race to the Top”)

    A very good critique, and a nice companion piece to the article on ‘Millionaire-Driven Educational Reform’ posted today. The dangers of the neoliberal mindset on full display.

  28. ewmayer

    “Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay | NASA” — Recycling an old pun about a randy dentist:

    There was a glaciologist named Sloan,
    Who worked in Antarctica alone.
    In a fit of depravity,
    He filled the wrong cavity –
    My, how his funding has grown!

    1. newcatty

      Outgrew “old pun” like that when i was twice the the same age as my shoe size. Thought them stupid then and now know they are passive aggression.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate’”

    As did the Plague, in Europe, for the same reason: so many people died that millions of acres reverted to forest, at least for a while.

  30. Oregoncharles

    Facebook false accounts: I was exposed to the concept of “sock puppet” accounts a couple of years ago. Turned out several Green Party colleagues were using them. I wondered why one account I was looking at seemed so odd. If that’s common, there are a lot fake accounts with real people behind them – just people with more than one account.

  31. ewmayer

    Re. “Weaponized Interdependence” — IOW, the ability to project power – the classic measure of empire – increasingly involves flows of money and data, rather than (or in addition to) troops and matériel.

    1. Procopius

      … how the topography of the economic networks of interdependence intersect with domestic institutions and norms to shape coercive authority.

      I am not optimistic I would be able to understand what they are talking about. At the same time I am pretty confident they would have nothing to say that would improve my understanding of whatever it is they claim to be talking about.

  32. Stephanie

    “…Cosplaying Mr. Freeze … Yelling Cold Weather Puns At People”

    I am sad this part of this headline did not actually happen.

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