Links 2/13/19

Black leopard spotted in Africa for first time in 100 years National Geographic (integer)

Moving artificial leaves out of the lab and into the air PhysOrg (David L)

Pretty sure I linked to a video of this device quite a while back, but it is still totally cool:

Dozens of companies launch US$1 billion bid to end plastic pollution in Asia but environmentalists dismiss it as ‘greenwashing’ stunt South China Morning Post (J-LS)

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation Science Daily (Kevin W)

Greenland’s Melt Will Drive Up Sea Levels…But Also Give Us Sand Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Minneapolis 911 dispatchers complain of delays caused by mandatory ‘script’ City Pages. Chuck L: “More dysfunctional computerization.”

Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures Atlantic (Lance N). This sort of thing drives me crazy. N=86. You need at least 100 in each of an A-B population to have confidence in results. As one of many examples, a small-scale monkey study funded by anti-vaxxers at a very reputable, independent lab seemed to confirm their theories. When they scaled up the study to numbers that would be seen as dispositive, the anti-vax theory was decisively disproven. The small sample was not representative. We aren’t told how these people were chosen and the manner of their selection (age? location?) may have introduced bias. I dunno about brain scans, but Lambert recently sent me what he called an extreme anti-antidote. Per this theory, if you find the storyline too upsetting to even read the article, you are conservative. Yet I would bet a lot of NC readers would choose to skip over it on the assumption that they got the basic idea and reading it would be too disturbing. And how do you explain hunters, who tend to skew politically conservative? They not only shoot animals (gory gunshot wounds) but almost always clean and dress their kills.

Mind you, this finding could be accurate, but this study doesn’t prove it, and it bothers me that the media is so eager to promote studies that can’t be deemed conclusive due to the sample size.

No Local Woe, India’s Poor Public Health Feeds Antibiotic Resistance Worldwide The Wire (J-LS)

First Big Depression Advance Since Prozac Nears FDA Approval Bloomberg

Study links heavily processed foods to risk of earlier death Guardian


China is polluting California’s air TreeHugger. Resilc: “If it was a red state we’d be going to war or building a smog wall.”

New hot spot boils in the South China Sea Asia Times

Blanket bans on Chinese tech companies like Huawei make no sense Financial Time (David L). I’d prefer a blanket ban on IoT, but too many people are salivating for a new form of forced obsolescence for this to happen.


Guy Verhofstadt warns Brexiteers could end up on the guillotine like the leaders of the French Revolution Telegraph

Brexit: Theresa May promises meaningful vote after more talks with EU BBC. OMG, May is trying to punt beyond Feb 27 for the “meaningful vote”.

Back Theresa May’s deal or prepare for a long delay to Brexit, PM’s chief negotiator ‘warns MPs’ Telegraph. The rumor of the day. but zero evidence that the EU will agree to a long delay… which means it sure won’t come for free if it comes at all.

Has Olly Robbins revealed Theresa May’s secret Brexit plan? ITV. Robert Peston’s take.

Theresa May facing fresh move by cross-party group of MPs to block no-deal Evening Standard

EU unveils emergency plan to keep Channel Tunnel open after a no-deal Brexit Independent. Only 3 months.

PM Trudeau ‘surprised and disappointed’ by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation CTV News. Fox Blew: “Big political scandal up here in Canada that broke a few days ago and has a real potential to bring Trudeau’s government down. It certainly does not look good for the Liberals.”

New Cold War

Russiagate Is Finished Moon of Alabama

EU members and leaders agree on compromise for Nord Stream 2 DW


Iran Can’t Buy Parts for Its U.S.-Made 1970s Fighter Jets. Here’s What It Does Instead. Popular Mechanics. Resilc: “At least they fly, unlike the F35.”

Debunking the Myths of the War in Afghanistan War on the Rocks (Bill B)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

My neighbor just let himself into my locked house… thanks Siri Reddit (EM)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Admiral to Congress: Think about the 280-plus ships that didn’t have collisions Defence News. Kevin W: “Link from and not the Onion.”

Trump Transition

How many attended Trump’s El Paso rally tonight? Not as many as he claims, authorities say El Paso Times (resilc)

The Intercept: There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It Intercept (resilc). I wish. She acted like she was cowed.

Warren’s foreign policy shows she’s missing why Trump was elected Guardian (Bill B)

Bernie 2020 Campaign Has Corporate Democrats Running Scared Common Dreams

Mark Kelly launches bid for John McCain’s Senate seat CNN (furzy)

McConnell to set up vote on Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal’ The Hill

Democrats, Stop Groveling New York Times (resilc)

UVM’s Kake Walk Featured Blackface Performers for Decades Off Message (resilc)

California to scale back $77 billion high-speed rail project: governor Reuters Quelle surprise.

Why Saudi Arabia could be behind the Jeff Bezos extortion attempt The Verge (resilc)

Solar energy sector lost 8,000 jobs in US last year, but future looks bright – report Guardian. Resilc: “I see loads of start-ups in usa usa making panels after the chinese tariffs….in my dreams.”

Best U.S. Job Numbers Ever? Not If You’re Out of Work for a Year Bloomberg (resilc)

A Large Equity Drawdown Would Cause Major Problems for CalPERS Chief Investment Officer (jpr, Kevin W)

More Americans Are At Least 3 Months Behind On Their Car Payment Than Ever Before Jalopnik

The brainwashing of economics graduate students Bill Mitchell (Chuck L)

Class Warfare

Some university chiefs paid 13 times more than staff BBC

New York Lawmakers Fuming Without Key Details on Amazon Campus Bloomberg

Prepare students for a future of artificial intelligence Financial Times (David L)

Antidote du jour. Resilc’s cats in Habana:

And a bonus video:

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. toshiro_mifune

    First Big Depression Advance Since Prozac Nears FDA Approval

    Is the treatment “A less soul crushing corporate work-space, more free time and eliminating the constant specter of debt burdens” ? No ? hmmmm …..

    1. Juneau

      +1 !

      Ketamine products can help some if you can get through the transient psychosis/delirium they can cause. A nasal spray is a big advantage over IV. Since they are competing with a procedure that can cause thousands of dollars am curious to see what the price point is on this.

    2. CitizenSissy

      Recently at my doctor’s office, I had to complete a depression screen as part of the check-in procedure. Complained to her that, given the general economic and societal breakdown, depression was an absolutely appropriate response. She didn’t disagree.

      1. JohnnySacks

        I got that too, the questionnaire provided to them by McKesson or pharma, out of the goodness of their blessed hearts. I told him what type of simple minded idiot didn’t have any of these symptoms at one time or another and aren’t they somewhat classifiable as normal human behavior. Said thanks, but no thanks, not what I’m here for and mixed the responses up in a guess at what may possibly be the middle of the bell.
        On the other hand, my wife’s previous job was so horrendously dehumanizing that the entire office was on one type of psychotropic medication or another. She was blessed by a situation where she could defer on going down that path and bail.

          1. WestcoastDeplorable

            They’re doing away with bail here in California. Now, a bureaucrat will decide whether you should be “let out”. What an improvement! /sarc

      2. Goyo Marquez

        My daughter had to make an appointment to get a required vaccination for college and she was aggressively questioned about depression. Seemed really odd.

    3. Krystyn Walentz

      Ketamine is not a cure for suicidal ideation, it is a distraction from it. It is an anesthetic for crying out loud! And it increases dopamine! This is the birth of the next opioid epidemic. Alcohol has the same function. THE SAME EXACT FUNCTION. They both increase dopamine and inhibit NMDA (glutamate) receptors.

      Maybe they should just vaporize it and put it in those plastic pillows you get in every Amazon shipment.

      Excerpts from ” A Brave New World”

      All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects.”

      “..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon…”

      you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma.”

      “”But it’s terrible,” Lenina whispered. “It’s awful. We ought not to have come here.” She felt in her pocket for her soma – only to discover that, by some unprecedented oversight, she had left the bottle down at the rest-house. Bernard’s pockets were also empty. Lenina was left to face the horrors of Malpais unaided.”

      “What’s in those” (remembering The Merchant of Venice) “those caskets?” the Savage enquired when Bernard had rejoined him.
      “The day’s soma ration,” Bernard answered rather indistinctly; for he was masticating a piece of Benito Hoover’s chewing-gum. “They get it after their work’s over. Four half-gramme tablets. Six on Saturdays.”

      1. FutureEducator

        What you’re saying is simply not true. The amount of ketamine they use in depression therapy is a tiny fraction of a normal “party” dose. You don’t even hallucinate. Same with psilocybin mushrooms. Please tamp down the hysteria.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I have a vivid memory of seeing a friend cut open an inhaler and drink the contents. That was ephedrine – speed. People won’t do that for ketamine?

          Furthermore, the whole thing is a maneuver to patent and market an off-patent drug. If someone doesn’t undercut them with a generic, I’ll be very surprised.

          1. Bugs Bunny

            They’ve modified the molecule slightly and put it in a specifically designed nasal sprayer. Sounds like a couple new patents to me, as well as some trademarks and copyright.


      2. Skip Intro

        And we KNOW suicidal ideation must be cured, otherwise, we could have the scourge of our neoliberal human marketplace: Wage Pressure!

      1. Baby Gerald

        I wouldn’t go so far as to claim Ketamine is the next phentynyl or whatever, but it’s a bit irresponsible for the article to claim it’s going to beat depression.

        Ketamine, known as ‘Special K’ in the party scene, is frequently derived from the animal tranquilizer liquid, dried to a powder and usually snorted. It’ll give you a buzz in small doses and make you loopy and incoherent in large ones (falling into a k hole) but generally leaves the user unharmed, at least physically. Often confused for it’s evil cousin rohypnol (roofies) as a ‘date rape drug’, it’s not really something that will knock you out or can be slipped into anything unknowingly, but seeing someone in a k hole can be a bit of a shock for the uninitiated.

        All that said, I was hoping the article was about the FDA getting behind MfA, or maybe addressing the cause rather than the symptom, but where’s the profit in that?

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if crushing work-space and less free time are also factors in the disappearance of insects.

      And if the cure for them, and humans, is the same (or similar).

    5. crittermom

      You hit on a point I was going to make after reading the article.

      Attention needs to be given to treating the cause, rather than just treating the symptoms.
      I find that to be the case in many instances, whether physical or mental.

      While I’ve no doubt drugs like this can help some people, I believe prescriptions are prescribed too easily in many, many cases. Much easier (& more profitable) to keep the populace numb, dismissing their feelings of despair so they can remain productive & not have those nasty thoughts of being screwed, right? An ‘it’s all in your head’ mentality if you will, for the benefit of those in power ($$).

      Emphasizing, for some it could be a huge advantage & that’s great. Nasal application sounds good.
      But I fear this, as with so many other depression meds, will be all too readily prescribed.
      I’m surprised how many people I’ve met take Prozac or something similar, for example. Too many, IMO.

    6. skippy

      Reminded of the BlackRock bit in Curtis last doco wrt the small Oregon town that its server farm is in …. part where the young girl talks about being on meds and subsequent therapy sessions …. we’re all doing better …

      It would be a classic in some dark comedy …. oops

  2. Mark Alexander

    Back in the 1/29 Links, Lambert mentioned that Yves was looking for a Rolodex-like program that uses free-form text. I poked around and found a promising candidate called Joplin. It seems to meet the requirements (free-form, doesn’t require the cloud, stores data locally, works on MacOS). It also works on Linux and is open source. I tried out the Linux version to see if I could use it as replacement for our card box of contacts, and it does seem to work nicely. I did not try the MacOS version.

    P.S. Thanks for the cockatoo antidote! Great stuff.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Don’t throw away the card box, and keep it up to date.

      My little black book (literal) is often in demand.

  3. Mirdif

    That Emily Maitlis tweet only confirms my suspicion since October that something is afoot. I strongly believe the deal will pass and if I had to put a probability on it, I would say 90% it will pass with No Brexit being 1% and No Deal being 9% just so we can have nice round numbers. The Spelman amendment a couple of weeks ago only increased my confidence that the deal will eventually pass as the translation of the Spelman amendment is “a bad deal is better than no deal” and the translation of the Brady amendment is “a backstop is needed just not the one in the agreement”.

    The strategy is absolutely ruinous as it means more companies leaving quietly just to avoid the possibility of No Deal. No Deal will only happen now if something unforeseen happens and they run out of time.

    Unfortunately, what is to come after the deal has been passed is likely to be much worse for the country as the Deal has prioritised goods over services. Expect the brain drain to get much worse.

    1. Ignacio

      I am with E.M. Although Parliamentary freak-out no-deal cannot, by no means, be ruled out I still believe that the vilipendiated WA will succeed. After that, tories will divide into two parties: ultraconservative neoliberal stup… and a New Tory that has gotten rid of those. This new-tory party leaded by Mrs. May will win next elections by far. The Labour lost their opportunity, sorry to say.

      At least I believe that passing the WA is the best of the only two options readily available.

      1. c_heale

        I believe there is no chance May will win any more elections. Who is going to vote for her if the above comes to pass. Not the Brexiteers and not the Remainers. That leaves few people.

        The damage has already been done.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I believe Labour is far more likely to split over it than the Tories. If May gets it over the line by minimizing Tory revels to 30-50 or so, then it will happen with Labour votes. That most likely means a rebellion against Corbyn, which would undoubtedly see a new party formed by Labour Blairites and centre left Remainers.

        It would be an amazing double win for May if that happens. That might actually be the grand Tory strategy.

        1. vlade

          Tories might lose a few people too – there’s a process underway to deselect Nick Boles for example.

          A few other Tories would also likely quit/go somewhere else in case BoJo/JRM or someone similar ended up as a Tory leader.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          The ERG has 51 votes at a bare minimum and some whip counts put it as high as 89. Plus the DUP.

          Plus if we still see Parliament trying only to make non-binding motions today, and not using them to move towards legislation (see comment below), the revolt is too timid and there is still too much faith in unicorns like the EU blinking or giving a long extension. The reaction times are too slow relative to the time available.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      All the ERG has to do is jam the controls. May running processes to the last minute makes that easier. We linked to Robert Peston , very well plugged in and hardly an alarmist, who argued a No Deal is very likely.

      In fact, this sort of assessment increases the odds of a Brexit. Given that a no deal is a default and that Parliament has hard coded a Brexit in the Withdrawal Act, and lashed itself to the mast with other legislation, it takes legislation to back out. This creates a “too many moving parts” risk. The more steps that have to be completed for a project to succeed, the greater the odds of failure. Please bone up on cumulative probability.

      Moreover, per the Olly Robbins remarks, either May or a faction in her Cabinet thinks the UK can get a long extension from the EU. Na ga happen.

      1. flora

        My guess is the ERG already has planned how they want to implement a no-deal; have their ducks quietly lined up ready for the right opportunity. (I’ve seen this sort of stealth play many times by US neoliberal pols. e.g. “But the legislation – ‘stand your ground’ laws – seemed to come out of nowhere and in several states all at once.”)

          1. vlade

            That could well be the excuse ERG uses to call for a no confidence vote. As I write below, it would be impossible for Labour even to abstain in such a vote. If it did, Corbyn would be dead – how do you explain all that calling for no-confidence, and then don’t vote when Tories, of all people, hand you that?

      2. vlade

        As I said, I’d not be surprised if ERG votes against the government in a no confidence vote late Feb, to guarantee no-deal. It’s the obvious strategy.

        Tory members and voters would like it (it would be sold as “we’re not voting for GE, we’re voting to get May out who’s a traitor”).

        Labour would be unable not to vote against government (after all those calls?), which would split it, as it would make it clear to its members that sinking the government at that stage would mean no-deal Brexit, short of Queen intervening (extremely unlikely), and they would blame it on Corbyn.

        So Tories might even win the upcoming GE after the no-deal, especially if the initial reaction would not be the “no planes flying, traffic jam all the way to London”, but more likely just a quiet unreported deaths of companies. Their argument would be “do you want to give the government to Labour who can’t even sort themselves out”?

        UKIP vote would dissapear to Tories, and a lot of remainers would either not vote at all, vote LD or SNP (or, if Labour fully split, some centrist split). So it would not even be handing the power to Corbyn. Yougov MRP model (the one which came closest to getting last GE right) has Tories at 321 seats, Labour at 250, SNP at 39 and LD at 16 (with the Labour loss being split between Tory, SNP and LD gain).

        The only thing that might spoil the Tory party is the leadership, as May would not clearly be the one going there, and it would be free-for-all-fratricide (as usual).

        1. ChrisPacific

          The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that May’s strategy to force a choice between her deal or No Deal is going to fail. In the mind of most people, there are not two choices but three, which are as follows:

          A) May’s deal
          B) No Deal
          C) Save The Unicorns (i.e., an indefinite series of Article 50 extensions to allow more time for debate that might, possibly, somehow, someday, somewhere over the rainbow, resolve all the impossibilities and reach a wonderful shining conclusion).

          Option C may be imaginary, but you’d never know it from reading most of the media coverage or statements from politicians. Even May hasn’t ruled out the idea of it as a workable option (she has not said “we’d need the EU to agree and they won’t do it” but “I am determined to deliver Brexit on time”).

          May is trying to force a choice between A and B. She thinks that if she can rule C out, and B is too awful to contemplate, then A will become the only option. But she can’t rule C out (among other things, she’s tried to have it both ways by framing it as a Trojan horse for Remain, which is an implicit admission that it’s possible). Parliament can vote against A and still tell themselves that they have a choice. So the historic reversal that would be necessary for May’s deal to pass won’t happen.

          In the end the villain will be whoever kills option C by taking an extension off the table. This could be what finally sinks May if a cross-party consensus on an extension arises and she is determined to keep to the original date. This would be the perfect moment for the ERG to pull the trigger on your strategy. They might not even have to do it themselves, as it’s possible that somebody else (with the requisite combination of ignorance of procedural constraints, lack of common sense, and fondness for grand gestures) might do it for them.

  4. Ignacio

    RE: EU members and leaders agree on compromise for Nord Stream 2 DW

    More inside on the “controversial pipeline”

    And Thursday, Grenell along with the US ambassadors to Denmark and the EU sent a strongly-worded editorial to DW: “Make no mistake: Nord Stream 2 will bring more than just Russian gas. Russian leverage and influence will also flow under the Baltic Sea and into Europe, and the pipeline will enable Moscow to further undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and stability.”

    Critics of those remarks point out that the US probably has its own business interests at heart as American companies would be more than happy to sell their own liquid gas to many European countries. DW earlier reported that German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier hadn’t ruled out importing from the US, but only as a supplement to Russian gas, and very importantly only if the price was right. This was surely not enough for Washington.

    RussiaRussia! is much about BusinessBusiness!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Just say “Niet” to Russia, or any non-green energy sources.

      I believe that is the goal, the future.

      1. Ignacio

        To be sure that is the goal. Germany is trying to secure gas supply for the next few years while developing greener heating.

          1. Ignacio

            Problems with ucranian pipelines forced it. The controversy is on that pipeline. This year the terms have to be renegotiated but if negotiations are not fruitful Germans could fall short on supply.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Will it force them to move up their own green new deal by a few years, to make up for that short fall in natural gas or to go 100% fossil fuels free?

  5. Livius Drusus

    Re: Best U.S. Job Numbers Ever? Not If You’re Out of Work for a Year.

    I often wonder how many people have just dropped out of the workforce completely after a year or more of unemployment. My understanding is that those who have stopped looking for work are not even counted as unemployed.

      1. jax

        Chris Cosmos – Shadow Government Statistics looks good, but at $175.00 a year it’s too rich for my blood.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      People who have stopped looking for work are not counted as unemployed – job numbers have been computed this way for a long, long time.

      To explain the difference (either better or worse) between, say, today, and before (say, under Obama), we have to look beyond that misleading way of computing, I believe.

  6. zagonostra

    >CA – High Speed Rail

    “Let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long.”

    Let’s be real, there is no vision for building long term infrastructure projects that would benefit the general public in the U.S.

    Let the Chinese continue to link their cities with ever more efficient and rapid transit and I’ll continue to take Amtrak from Altoona, PA to Pittsburgh and hope for an average 45 MPH, waiting for the next day to catch the train back, about a 100 mile distance.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Everything costs too much that favors not just the people but the economy and culture as a whole–except one thing–and that’s spending on “defense” and internal “security.” But here is the tragic part–Americans have become so fatalistic they really no longer care about the health or even wealth of the country as long as the billionaires keep billioning and the endless fantasies and drugs keep pouring out. Americans largely vote based on tribal/cultural affiliations not policies. One day this may change. At this juncture in history we all can no longer look to the USA for international leadership and China, Europe, Russia offer some sense of direction–wish it weren’t the case.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The best course of action is progress in America, instead of looking for new hegemons.

        Direction from Russia? Not exporting more fossil fuels, like,say natural gas.

        If Europe is going green, why more of it? Perhaps today, but should not be the case in the near future.

    2. Ignim Brites

      Weird that Newsom would step on the GND in such a dramatic way. Doubly so as the GND is crucial cover for the oligarchs in their struggle against left wing Dems and Newsom is definitely tied into the Silicon Valley oligarchy. There’s some other piece to this story.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        High speed rail (at least the model in Europe and Japan) isn’t super practical in the U.S. Rail expansion is largely promised on the railroad companies having maintained their land rights, but the basic problem is the high speed rail requires more land than what is available. There are some routes that make sense, even then they are really short lines. I don’t recall this route being one when I paid more attention. Besides private property, there are a host of infrastructure issues. These trains are heavy, and a good deal of infrastructure is built right up to the existing track bed.

        High speed rail has often been a bourgeois liberal vanity project by people who want to go on a day long shopping excursion, so the planning isn’t done. Realistically, what is the purpose of linking San Francisco to Los Angeles? How much traffic is there really? With the advent of the phone, business travel is a joke (it is) Is there that much plane traffic? One problem with private jets is they are almost a vanity project where they fly out to little out of the way places. After all, Europe and Japan were bombed out when these plans went into place, and in the case of Europe, there was at least a political reason for connecting Berlin (Bonn) to Paris (if everyone trades they can’t go to war; I know its bs)

        Besides most of our travel is intra-city. Light rail, trolleys, and buses as well as increasing urban density are needed to address real problems. Getting people out of the suburbs. High speed rail doesn’t work if it has to stop every five miles. Its easy to say we are backwards, but again, we haven’t had cities firebombed or tanks run through every town.

        I-95 South of DC is packed, and people live close to Richmond and drive to DC often enough to be commuters. Could more rail work? People would love it, but where would it go? It makes more sense to move cabinet departments. Isn’t the problem the dumbass building restriction height and flooding the area with government jobs without infrastructure to handle it? The answer is yes. Connecting DC to another major city doesn’t address any problem. If you don’t have to get in and out of DC at bad hours, its actually pretty easy.

        I go back to 1945, and this can’t be overlooked when addressing rail service in the U.S. The U.S. is very much like the old parts of a European city. People either live where the trains are, or the political demand is on the part of people who want a luxury not a need filled (Musk’s hyperloop) which doesn’t fit needs. Is it that important to help San Diegans get to LA to watch the Chargers?

        This was a project which received approval from California Democrats and the Obama Administration, so you can imagine they gave it the kind of oversight they put into everything else. My guess is Newsom asked about cost over runs and learned about the infrastructure issues as well as demand.

        1. ston

          The flight between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the second busiest in the US, and the 9th busiest in the world. In terms of car trips, there are an estimated 20 million car trips between San Francisco and Los Angeles each year. High speed rail linking these two cities would be immensely popular and cut on emissions relative to current transportation patterns.

          Your comment that rail is a bourgeois liberal vanity project is condescending. I have taken some of the busiest passenger rail routes in the US, including Detroit-Chicago, San Francisco-Sacramento, Los Angeles-San Diego, and DC-Connecticut. With the exception of DC-Connecticut, the passengers were from the working class and middle class. The upper middle class and wealthy would rather fly or drive many of these routes.

          1. Liberal Mole

            I agree, and I take Amtrak from San Luis Obispo to Oakland in order to visit my 87 year old mother. Parts of the track are so old that the train slows down to what feels like 20 mph. If you buy your ticket early the price is extremely reasonable. Unfortunately the trip takes over 6 hours, which is the same as flying from coast to coast. I’m a frugal member of the upper middle class & spend those train hours doing craft projects, but other passengers are students and proles.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            Is the travel worth ripping up what has to be ripped up? What kind of travel is between those cities? People not looking into the costs is why Newsom is canceling it now. There are solutions, but people wanted a shopping trip or easier access to a football game instead of demanding walkable or even car less cities. It’s not a conspiracy. It was laziness in the first place. Newsom is probably asking why the costs are shooting up, and the answer is probably is they drew trains on a napkin with little understanding of what is there. To avoid those problems, they likely looked for alternate routes which may not be as cost effective as advertised or as fast.

            Cities largely exist at natural trade depots anyway. Our problems stem from intercity problems. High speed rail doesn’t fit on existing infrastructure or fulfills a need. Maybe the concert venue isn’t as cool, but make the local one nicer.

            I am being condescending but not towards the working class. The modern rail in places around the world was put into place in a different environment than the U.S. it can’t be replicated with a bit of gumption. There is a great deal we can do. It’s not as seen and cool. I know working class people take rail, but the high speed projects in the U.S. aren’t being designed to help anyone but the shopping out of town class.

            With all the effort and money put into the project, it’s not happening because it was never done to do more than make rich people pretend they were in Europe.

            1. zagonostra

              NTG > “I know working class people take rail, but the high speed projects in the U.S. aren’t being designed to help anyone but the shopping out of town class.

              That is why I want to go to Pittsburgh, to shop and see my daughter who is attending university there. I can see much economic activity being generated in both directions; people wanting to go to small towns to get away from the city and many local small town folks going to the big city for a show and shopping.

              The play between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft might generate more than just economic activity, it might ease some of the dichotomy between people’s political views (local area where I live tends to support Trump, friends and family in the city overwhelmingly find him abhorrent)

          3. anon in so cal

            Try getting a last-minute seat on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco or even Oakland. Lots of airlines service those routes, many flights per day, most fully booked.

            As far as the high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco: it was madness.

            One of the many huge problems was routing in the greater Los Angeles area:

            “On Tuesday, at a meeting of the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority board, hundreds gathered in downtown Los Angeles to voice their opposition to the project. “Hell no! High-speed rail has got to go,” the crowded chanted outside of the Ronald Reagan State Building according to The Daily News. The meeting and backlash both come on the heels of a 62-page report (.pdf) released on Thursday about about the four route proposals for the stretch between Palmdale and Burbank. According to the analysis, the track just within that segment could affect 20,000 homes, 47 schools, 48 churches and 25 parks when completed.

            About 150 residents and city officials from communities and cities such as Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Acton, and Sylmar spoke for a total of six hours during public comment to tell the eight member board about the potentially devastating impact the project could have on their area.

            “I am here to tell you not to destroy the schools and churches and homes of our city of Santa Clarita,” said Councilman TimBen Boydston of his city of over 200,000. “But I’m also here to tell you: Do not destroy the historic city of San Fernando. Do not destroy the neighborhoods of Shadow Hills and Sunland and Sylmar. Do not destroy Kagel Canyon and La Cañada. Do not destroy Acton and Agua Dulce.”

            The L.A. Times says three of the route proposals for the Burbank-to-Palmdale stretch would involve tunnels through the protected San Gabriel Mountains, while another would be above ground and follow the route of State Route 14 into the High Desert.”


            Another problem: if its Los Angeles depot was to be Union Station, the drive to Union Station takes many people upwards of one hour or more, not including parking.

            Much easier to drive to LAX and fly.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I mentioned the possibility of a Green Dictator to save the world before.

              Will Ocasio-Cortez have to be one, if the goal, among other goals, is a nationwide high speed rail system, based on reading here of the problems of one short segment of the California version?

          4. Cal2

            Drilling a tunnel under the Tehachipis through earthquake faults and the carbon produced by this makes it horribly expensive. What project has ever come in on or under budget? The Saleforce terminal in downtown San Francisco that the train is supposed to end at is still closed because of structural failures.

            The whole thing is a pipe dream. We would be lucky to get 1940s levels of passenger service along existing tracks as long as they were maintained and people got preference over freight.

        2. upstater

          I disagree that HSR isn’t viable for a place like California — or other sunbelt states or true HSR in the Northeast Corridor. Putting the Central Valley of California in commuting distance for businesses in the Bay Area or Southern CA would be transformative.

          California is a huge state with a huge population and large distances. Conventional “higher sped” rail offering 80-125 MPH operation could help, but it still makes the Central Valley 2-3 hours away from LA or SF.

          The issue here is competency project management and costs. The US does not have the technical skills to pull of such projects — HSR incompetence is similar to the discussion here yesterday about nuclear power (i.e., why can China, Russia or South Korea deliver plants on time and within budget at half the cost). The NYT had a lengthy piece on the costs of delivering the Second Avenue subway extension in NYC last year — many times the cost of similar projects elsewhere in the world. This is simply a matter or technical competence and graft.

          HSR is probably the only thing that can begin to mitigate the sprawling mess that CA has become. $90B for such infrastructure in a $5T economy is trivial, isn’t it?

          1. Wukchumni

            Enticing people to live in the Central Valley will take more than fast choo-choos, you have the 100 days of 100+ degrees in the summer, and bone chilling cold Tule Fog in the winter, all while being cheek by jowl in close proximity to an awful cacophony of funky farm chemicals.

            There’s a good reason homes in Bakersfield & Fresno are $200k, that would be triple that in SoCal and quintuple in SF, nobody wants to live on the valley floor.

            1. anon in so cal

              And the smog.

              Last time we were in that area, the smog was almost impenetrable all the way to Lemon Grove and into the western Sierras.

              1. Wukchumni

                The smog which largely comes from the SF region, doesn’t dissipate until around 9,000 feet, and when you’re in the backcountry above that level and you look down into the Central Valley, one is gobsmacked by the atmospheric lid on dirty air, below you.

            2. upstater

              4.7 million people live in Phoenix metro (“the valley of the sun”), 2 million in Las Vegas, 1 million in Tucson.

              The scenery is a nicer than the Central Valley, but it gets just as hot, if not hotter.

              1. Wukchumni

                If they are such similar locales, why are so few Californians enticed to live in the Central Valley?

                There is perhaps 5% of the population of the state in an area bigger than the suburban areas of SoCal and the Bay area.

                A primer on Tule fog*:

                In California, tule fog can extend from Bakersfield to Red Bluff, covering a distance of over 650 kilometres (400 mi).Tule fog is characteristically confined mainly to the Great Central Valley due to the mountain ranges surrounding it. Because of the density of the cold air in the winter, winds are not able to dislodge the fog and the high pressure of the warmer air above the mountaintops presses down on the cold air trapped in the valley, resulting in a dense, immobile fog that can last for days or at times for weeks undisturbed. Tule fog often contains light drizzle or freezing drizzle where temperatures are sufficiently cold.

                *pro tip: it dissipates @ around 800 feet, so if you want to live in the CV, be above that level, i.e. the Sierra foothills.

                1. Enquiring Mind

                  Visualize a convoy of big rig trucks blasting along for miles through the Tule Fog at night going 70+ mph. They worked out some rough distance between trucks apparently based on squinting at barely visible running lights. Whoever was in that lead truck probably didn’t get hazard pay either.

                  Those of us civilians (i.e., without a load to deliver by 8:00 a.m., rain, shine or what have you) experiencing that for the first time looked for exits and warm beverages to wait out the surreal interlude.

              2. anon in so cal

                It’s not simply the summer heat that makes California’s Central Valley so inhospitable. It’s a combination of factors. A lot of the Central Valley is flat, featureless farmland. It has few redeeming qualities.

                Not until one gets west into into the coastal foothills or east toward the Sierra foothills does the landscape get scenic.

                Then, as mentioned, the tule fogs are unpleasant and dangerous.

                The smog is deadly:

                “the air over the Central Valley is concentrated particulate air pollution, and it is making people sick”


                The drinking water is contaminated:

                Today, roughly 100000 people in Central Valley cannot drink the water that flows from their taps, for it is contaminated with high levels of toxins”


              3. upstater

                I lived in Tucson for 8 years. Smog was bad, particularly in winter. CAP drinking water had many contaminants, city wells had TCE. Phoenix is worse.

                Californians don’t live there for the same reason people live in NYC instead of upstate NY: JOBS and interior infrastructure linking major cities.

          2. Cal2

            upstater 11:32 PM

            “why can China, Russia or South Korea deliver [nuclear ]plants on time and within budget at half the cost?”
            Because they have demonstrated that human life is worthless to them, they never were democracies and they have few if any safety features? Chernobyl’s reactors were in a standard building with no protective domes.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          (if everyone trades they can’t go to war; I know its bs)


          Trade could lead to wars.

          On the other hand, no trade could mean no war, possibly. For example, the Aztecs never traded with Alexander and the Macedonians. They never fought a war either.

        4. heresy101

          When the Hyperloop is completed between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, people transport will the transformed so much that the Chinese will be wanting to install many in their Belt and Road Initiative.

          1. Oregoncharles

            What happens to the tube in the next big quake? I wouldn’t want to be down there. At the least, the vacuum will be broken, so no movement.

        5. ShamanicFallout

          Flights between Seattle and SF leave at what seems like every fifteen minutes. I would assume SF to LA would be even more frequent. I think that an SF-LA rail line would be very busy

    3. DJG

      zagonostra: And then you get the privilege of getting off at the Pittsburgh Amtrak train station, which is a buried uncomfortable horror, now that the “real” train station has been sold and mall-i-fied.

      I changed in Pittsburgh recently to return to Chicago. Sure, the Philly-Pittsburgh one-a-day train is pleasant. And then I got to Pittsburgh and saw that, for a city of some 3 million, there is a grand total of four trains a day.

      Yep, in the greatestest most developedest capitalist economy, a big city served by four inter-city trains a day.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Last week I took the Capitol Corridor train between Sacramento and the East Bay. The trains run around once an hour during commuter times and once every two hours the rest of the day. That’s pretty much a minimum to create a viable link. Another important criterium is to not require advance reservations for it to be a practical service. You need to be able to walk into the station, buy a ticket and know there’ll be a spot on the train to your destination within an hour or so before a train link approaches being a practical alternative to driving. In Italy, most links between adjacent cities are served every 15-30 minutes, the tickets are reasonable in cost, and you never need to book ahead. That constitutes a truly practical transportation link.

      2. Trent

        Pittsburgh is only 300,000. The metro area may be 3 million. People in this area do not take the train. I’ve taken it multiple times to Chicago and enjoy the fact that it leaves at midnight and gets you into Chicago around 8 that morning. Train travel is generally looked at to be plebeian by the people who make more then 80,000 a year. I find something romantic about it and enjoy the fact that it doesn’t feel rushed.

    4. John k

      The French bid half price, route right along us5. Woulda taken half the time. But wouldnt wander around to the various farming communities whose reps were willing to vote for it, so not considered. Big city Residents understand this, it’s not popular, new governor just being responsive.

      China’s Command economy does what it wants, can go directly between cities, dem compromise not required, nimby not effective, protesters go to jail.

      1. False Solace

        The US is the country that “can’t” do things. Can’t do M4A, can’t tax the rich, can’t end the wars, can’t do HSR. We don’t need another politician who “can’t”.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The Chinese Communist Party displaced an estimated *100 million* people when they built all of those fast trains and bridges and highways.
        It helps when 5% of the population (the CCP) is the owner of 100% of your country’s land.

        1. upstater

          What is the source of 100 million displaced? It seems incredible on the face; that is 7.6% of the entire population of China.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats, Stop Groveling”

    ‘(Nancy Pelosi) helped lead the party to triumph last year. She can point the way to an even more important triumph in 2020.’
    I’m not that up on American politics but does that ‘triumph’ counterbalance the 1,000 odd seats that the Democrats have lost in state legislatures, governor’s mansions and Congress under her watch over the past decade?

    1. Eureka Springs

      And things were just peachy when they still had those thousand seats. Oh wait! Reminds me of that old expression – Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. I’d much rather go back to the old faulty Triumph motorcycles than the D party with a thousand more seats.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Meanwhile, Democrats continue to grovel.

      Wisconsin was about to pass a Black History Month resolution that included Colin Kaepernick who was actually born in WI. Republicans blocked it, demanding that Kaepernick’s name be removed, and the Democrat party, including the black caucus, folded right on schedule, with only one member standing up to the GOP:

      Democratic Rep. LaKeshia Myers of Milwaukee said Kaepernick “decided to take on ownership of a problem that he saw, which was police brutality.”

      “Whether you dislike the method that he used, understand that it is a part of America’s DNA — not just African-Americans’ protest,” said Myers, who was the lone vote against the resolution.

      Perhaps it’s time for Ms. Myers to find another party, because the one she’s in clearly doesn’t give a damn.

    3. LarryB

      IIRC, they did pick up about 300 seats in the last election. So Trump may be able to do what no Democrat could.

    4. richard

      And I’m not all that up on groveling, but I’m not clear either on how standing by pelosi equals not groveling. How does that square with paygo? Isn’t that, like, the ultimate grovel to repubs? I’m having a hard time coming up with anything more grovely.
      I think the problem is that it’s difficult to set the middle east on fire, shake our fist at russia, topple elected governments to steal their oil, and remember what words mean.

    5. Procopius

      I’ve become pretty apathetic about the Democrats, but I think they gained back something like 800 of those legislative seats and several of the governorships in 2018. This was in no way due to the DNC or the DCCC, both of which are saving their money (i.e. “keeping their powder dry”) in order to combat the Socialist menace. They aren’t very good at that, either.

  8. Ignim Brites

    “Russiagate Is Finished”. Doubt it. The purpose of the investigation is to push Trump into provoking Russia to the use of tactical nukes against US or US allied forces. Once Russia makes tactical nukes legitimate new avenues for the projection of US power are opened.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      At this point the Russiagate damage has been done and endless 24/7 lies perpetrated by the propaganda organs has had its effect. I’ve never, in my life, seen a more obvious system of direct lies dominate the media for so long–this was worse than the WMDs in Iraq canard. People, particularly in NPR- and MSNBC-land will still support Cold War II no matter what the fact are since that crowd in particular seems to have lost their collective minds as much or more than FoxNews-land. Russia was used in order to keep up support for the permanent war (Deep) State and that has worked and in large parts seems to always work. Fortunately the memory of the collective consciousness of the US public is short so I’m hoping for a major celebrity scandal or something like that–and, certainly, so many candidates for the next election for POTUS may distract the public as we find out more juicy facts about the personal lives of these candidates.

      1. Eureka Springs

        A lot of people need to eat crow, apologize profusely, and in the case of those who truly manipulated such as HRC campaign and peeps inside FBI etc., be prosecuted, or at the very least fired and banished from public service.

        1. Eureka Springs

          And I’ll add the FISA court seriously failed again and was lied to with accountability needed across the board on those matters as well.

          Abolish secret courts and secret law.

        2. notabanker

          There is about a zero percent chance of that happening and 99.999% chance they will be elevated to positions with more power as they continue to expose the ‘great conspiracy of the right’.

        3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The beatings will continue until morale improves. Until people pivot from “OMG Trump so bad man/him so mean on Twitter/him Kremlin puppet/him short-fingered Vulgarian” to *how* we got Trump in the first place and what really transpired in the 8 years leading up to 2016…we are screwed.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > I’ve never, in my life, seen a more obvious system of direct lies dominate the media for so long–this was worse than the WMDs in Iraq canard

        Me neither. And the brain damage in the tote-bag liberal class is worse. I’m not so optimistic about the damage wearing off, either; RussiaRussiaRussia has become a tribal marker.

    2. integer

      Heh. That’s extremely unlikely and amusingly specific. Russiagate served many purposes, but IMO its primary objective was to prevent Trump from being able to independently implement foreign policy, especially with regard to rapprochement with Russia and the Syrian war. Mueller was almost certainly aware from the beginning that there was no collusion; his real task appears to have consisted of covering up the intelligence agencies’ election meddling and protecting the liberal international order.

      1. richard

        Interesting. I’d say it’s primary purpose was to provide cover for dems who completely abandoned their historical base in ‘16, and lost big to a clown.
        My rule of thumb is that domestic concerns (maintaining a facade of legitimacy, controlling the damn party) tend to dictate us gov’t foreign policy. Military adventurism has a lot of dog whistling about “unity” that goes with it, that is ever so useful to domestically criminal and corrupt elites. This usefulness is 1 (one) reason usian “foreign policy” is 100 times bigger than it needs to be.

    3. zagonostra

      I don’t think it’s to provoke Russia to use tactical nukes. Rather it’s a way to ease/eliminate the dissonance created in spending billions on defense projects while half the population struggles to eek out a living, falling ever deeper in debt -and of course to cover for the real election theft perpetuated by the DNC/HRC collusion.

      Along with the U.S. intervention in Venezuela, never has the emperor appeared more naked…

      1. John

        Amen to that. Curious how the deniers frantically claim nothing to see here while the indictments keep piling up.

    4. Lambert Strether

      > The purpose of the investigation is to push Trump into provoking Russia to the use of tactical nukes

      I think that’s a bit linear (and I’ve seen no evidence on tactical nukes in particular)

      Objectives IMNSHO

      1) Assure continued loyalty to the Clintonite faction of the Democrat Party by sucking them into an ontological commitment they cannot back away from (rather like the Satanic Ritual moral panic, which seems to have been the background noise for a lot of younger voters, and boy howdy, was that a creepy episode).

      2) “Permanent war” with Russia from the Atlantic-First natsec faction (as opposed to the broader, more diffuse, and ultimately far more organic anti-China faction*

      3) Proxy war with Russia, either in Syria or Ukraine.

      NOTE * The galaxy brains in the national security establishment have managed to make Russia and China allies, instead of playing one off against the other. Talleyrand and Bismarck would not approve.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If they were attacking Hillary from the right, at least they did not have far to travel then. She would have had her back to them as she was so busy punching people to her left.

      1. crittermom

        Heh, heh. You stated it so perfectly I want to type that up & frame it.

        Thanks, Rev Kev.
        I’m still grinnin’.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Neera has to protect her brand. She’s too associated with right wing democrats to reinvent herself without time in the wilderness. Donna Brazille had Clinton patronage to protect her after 2000 (she even became interim DNC chair in 2016), but Clinton largess probably isn’t worth what it was.

      From a results perspective, outside of HRC field organizers (even then), is HRC 2016 really a good look on a resume? Without the narrative the election was stolen or sabotaged by dumb as kids (I guess Neera is dropping OMG Russia), doesn’t HRC 2016 look like Jeb!’s campaign but on a larger scale?

      Even Klobuchar is ragging on Hillary not going to Wisconsin.

      1. Brindle

        Guessing the Harris/Tanden machine told Klobuchar to wait her turn or something. Not a big Klobuchar fan but have to like her soft needle about 2016.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          like her soft needle

          Compared to the blind worship demanded for the Queen, Klobuchar treated HRC worst than a Klobuchar staffer.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. it would seem like losing to donald frelling trump would look terrible on a resume.
        I’d recommend skipping over that part…”I traveled the country on freight trains during this period..>” …”spiritual retreat in Tibet”…”what election?”…

      3. Shonde

        Wish you could have seen the comments in the Mpls Star and Trib when Klobuchar’s Wisconsin statement was reported. The Hilary crowd denounced Klob stating they were no longer going to support her.

    3. johnnygl

      Do keep in mind that 2020 has got to be something close to existential for her career, and for CAP and Podesta. They’re still fighting for relevance, but another loss could be devastating. The donors may take a long hard look and say, ‘you can’t deliver for us, you’re useless’. At that point, their political consulting careers are over.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “EU members and leaders agree on compromise for Nord Stream 2”

    Europe’s production of gas is on the decline so countries like Germany need more gas to replace what is being lost. Russia has it and Europe wants it. Those countries that oppose this are mostly the countries that lose the transit fees or have a collective anti-Russia bug up their a**. These new laws basically mean that no country can sign a major gas deal without the EU’s OK because of security though if European gas is on the decline, you would think that this itself would be an insecure situation. Trump may be against it but I understand that German GPD is down which means that NATO contributions will also be down. If the German economy declines more because they cannot access Russian energy supplies then Germany might tell Trump that that will mean no more juicy defense contracts which is something that Trump really cares about. More on this new gas market at-

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks for informative link. Clearly countries like Denmark do not have the power to block Nordstream and sounds like this new EU rule may be dubious as well.

    2. Ptb

      Re: nord stream – prob. opposed would be the French, who have a robust nuclear electric industry, and export electricity to neighbors, and energy infrastructure like ship-LNG terminals and power plants of nuke comes back, as it well may to reduce carbon.

      Also inclined to oppose The low countries or whoever potentially hosts the LNG terminal infrastructure. Potential pipeline transit countries in eastern Europe, even if still from RU.

      Dragging this out would ensure discounts for everyone, or less cynically, other EU countries would insist Germany doesn’t get the best pricing to itself.

  10. JTMcPhee

    Interesting piece on pre-debunking the smokescreens the MIC is already puffing out on “why we failed (were hamstrung and betrayed) in our march to victory in Notagainistan.”

    Which of course contains its own set of implicit excuses, incuding “if only we had somehow been able to cut off those Pakistani-borderlands sanctuaries,” (maybe like the bombing of Laos and Cambodia,) and “all those changes of command and mission redirection and the stuff done by the civilian chain of command,” though no use of the moniker “Calvinball” in relation to how these Grand Motions of Empire and Usual Human Stupidity mostly work out. Nothing about facilitating corruption and the production of opium poppy crops and murder squads, and the other usual, generic behaviors of many of The Troops, and their slurs and disdain for “hajjis” and “towelheads.” And of course no examination of all the drivers in the Pentagram’s “political economy” of war materiel acquisition and logistics and consumption for profit.

    And none whatsoever to the tenets of old Sun Tzu, laying out the mandatory criteria that the war proponent must satisfy for any hope of “victory” (defined per the common understanding, not “success” in driving huge wealth transfers and greasing career paths). That includes the first fifteen paragraphs in “The Art of War,”, none of which were met by the US/Coalition in pulling the trigger on this and other imperial ventures, now to include Venezuela 2019 version.

    “We do what we know how to do,” eh? Wise or foolish? Because after all “winning” includes enriching the right people, and “history is bunk,” and of course “history” is, or is on the way to being, over.

    It’s “defeatist talk,” of course, to remind all that very often, “the only way to win is not to play the game.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Agree right down the line JTMcPhee. Does West Point still teach Sun Tzu? Remember the Powell Doctrine? It stated that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

      Is a vital national security interest threatened?
      Do we have a clear attainable objective?
      Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
      Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
      Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
      Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
      Is the action supported by the American people?
      Do we have genuine broad international support?

      1. tegnost

        when we mopes finally take over I think we should appoint JTM to rename all the countries on the globe, starting with “notagainistan”

      2. dearieme

        “Is a vital national security interest threatened?”
        And if so, of which nation?

        “Do we have a clear attainable objective?”
        Does history suggest that it is attainable?

        “Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analysed?”
        Risks and costs to whom?

        “Is the action supported by the American people?”
        Can the media arrange that?

        To the other questions the answer is probably always “no”.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Not that air support shouldn’t be used, but given West Point’s alumni history, the ability to avoid disaster by calling in air support has generally kept incompetent officers from winding up dead or assigned to Nome. There is a never ending supply of weirdos who wanted to go to West Point when they were 16.

        As we progress through Shrubs wars into a third President, we should be mindful the brass is still largely those 16 year olds, living out their dreams. Rationally the U.S.’s best defense is two oceans and wasteland type borders.

        It’s the Navy, but the article about all the other ships that didn’t crash is telling. They can’t make mistakes because the made the right choices at age 16. Maybe the don’t reassess their place because it’s a self selective group. I think we need to draft officers.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Interesting related event: “Air Force General Apologizes for Wearing Ribbon Rack Upside Down At SOTU,” One wonders how often this happens, given the many opportunities to fubar up.

          Grade inflation is a term that applies in all kinds of situations, apparently.

          From General Lengyel’s FB page:

          “How can this possibly happen, you might ask? Well, we’re all human, including me. As I made a final check in the mirror just before I walked out the door, I missed it… plain and simple. I hope this is a lesson for everyone who wears a uniform, and really for anyone… They put erasers on pencils for a reason. When you make a mistake and miss a detail, own it and move on. One thing is for sure… My ribbons will NEVER be upside down again.”

          As to other mistakes that might be made, blowing right by Notagainstani and Yemeni and Libyan and Iraqi and Syrian dead wedding parties and rubblized cities and schools and hospitals, and bombing Korea to rubble and those unfortunate occurrences in Laos and Cambodia and stuff, there are stories like this to reassure us that our Generals “have it all in hand:” “That Time The US Air Force Proposed Using Rockets To Stop The Earth’s Rotation,” and this is not from the Onion either:

          What could possibly have gone wrong? Hint: Everything on the earth’s surface and down to the center is moving at variable speeds, like at Kennedy Space Center about 1470 km/hr relative to a fixed meridian. “Stop the world, I want to get off” (as in ejaculate all those nuclear missiles toward “the enemies”) means everything on the planet will suddenly speed off toward the east, much of it at well above supersonic speeds. As Daniel Ellsberg, see the link, noted in his RANDian analysis of this one among hundreds of equally insane (from the mope perspective) idiocies “our generals” and their MIC buddies have tossed out there. Like this, for one more little instance:

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      I saw a blurb about the general that sat for the congressional interview recently. He has several stars and a lot of ribbons on his jacket. I had to wonder about just what those medals were for. He hadn’t aged enough to be involved in any campaign where we won the battle, much less the war. It got me to thinking about what those ribbons actually meant.
      Did he get them for training classes that he took? Does he demonstrate competency on simulations of war, or games? Did he get them via consolation prize for having attended class? Did he get them because he toadied to the MIC?
      I can’t figure out why such a ribbon would be prized by an adult thinking they had done their job properly. It reminded me of the ribbons I won in elementary school for showing up. Even then I realized I hadn’t done anything to deserve a ribbon.
      Do we have too high a value set to our actions for just going along for a ride?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When Petraeus started to hit the big time, he went before Congress with a jacket that could cause blindness in the right light. Ike had nothing on his jacket except his rank when he made similar appearances.

        Petraeus even has a bronze star he received as a two star general for the time a mortar shell landed 100 yards away from him when he was in the green zone. Crikey we will run of copper if we gave bronze stars out like that to every soldier who had that happen to him.

        About the ribbons, 16 year olds, which is when they need to commit to the process, who want to go to West Point. I should note Ike just wanted out of Kansas and the army pays cadets. Grant was a last minute addition to his class and didn’t properly apply.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I picture that general pointing out each medal at a “Truth in Advertizing” cocktail party:

        “This one here I won in The Battle To Get a Global No-Bid Military Base Catering Contract for KFC. This red and blue one is for defeating the lower cost fighter jet bid by General Dynamics, that was tough but we won in the end. This one here? It’s for The Battle To Fund Electro-magnetic Rail Guns in Space, see the little satellite on the pin? We had to defeat the Child Care For All legislation to win that one, yeah that was a really tough battle all right…”

        Let’s just call it what it is.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > I saw a blurb about the general that sat for the congressional interview recently. He has several stars and a lot of ribbons on his jacket. I had to wonder about just what those medals were for.

        This one? [NSFW]

  11. a different chris

    >The Intercept: There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It

    Yeah that headline has no connection to the story that I can see. The headline should say “Illustrated”, not “Destroyed”.

    The Deplorables will not be happy about this as a general thing, the idea of the US jumping on the end of a foreign country’s strings is exactly the type of thing they don’t like about our gummint. That doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy Pelosi and Co. acting like the prats they are. Our media might (if they don’t quietly move in in fear) will emphasize the second and completely ignore the first.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      the eleventh commandment(thou shalt not criticize israel) is like the stencil for numerous other sacred cows in demland…
      want some regard for due process in #metoo?—you must hate women.
      think that criteria other than gender, pigmentation or sexuality should be used to rate various people who “represent us”? — get a rope!
      I was once accused of being a misogynist(!) and a rapist(!!) when i asked rhetorically if it was still ok to listen to Miles Davis, since he was a notorious ass to women.
      Good on Omar…these illiberal hypocrisies need to be aired out.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        I need to read more about the Temperance movement that culminated in Prohibition. Just imagine the sheer quantity of moralizing it took to ramrod through such a fatuous amendment to the US Constitution, given the much greater problems of that time (Great War, influenza, Jim Crow, union busting anyone?)

        But from what little I think I know, the mindset and tactics of IdPol seem eerily similar: fanatically driven by affluent coast dwellers claiming to act for the good of all, political litmus tests, relentless shaming and harassment of skeptics and perceived prevaricators.

        ….And above all, treating the symptoms — drunkenness and discrimination — while studiously ignoring the causative socio-economic diseases.

        A distant mirror?

    2. Lobsterman

      Lol the Deplorables love the US working for Russia and Israel, because we elect black Presidents and they don’t.

  12. Carolinian

    Taibbi on penisgate. Very funny.

    The Bezos story is proof that there is no disincentive that could be invented to prevent men from taking pictures of their penises. Under Washington state law, Bezos’ wife MacKenzie in a divorce could collect half of his 79 million shares of Amazon stock, worth north of $130 billion. She could also massively dilute the worth of Amazon stock by forcing Bezos to sell off his shares to pay her in cash. This means Bezos at some point aimed a camera at his unit, snapped, and thought: I’m gonna risk $65 billion to hit send.


    1. Summer

      Yeah, back in the good old days of dropping the pants and flashing the penis it was just his word vs hers.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Even if he lost all that money, would it affect his lifestyle for one moment? Nope. His pile of 1’s and 0’s is so tall that even if you cut ithe stack of cash n half it’s still bigger than almost everyone’ else’s stack. He really doesn’t have anything to lose.

      Now if he was a middle class male and he list half his income… That is a bigger change to lifestyle.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I love it that the very Emperor Of The Deep State Privacy Invasion Juggernaut is now moaning that…wait for it…his privacy was invaded.


        1. Ping

          I love it that New York is giving him and his demand for 3 billion and a helicopter pad the middle finger.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Iran’s Aging American-Made Jets Could Fly Through the 2040s”

    Planes from the 70s still flying? It’s like Cuba and their classic cars all over again. It would be a totally unfair contest against the newest generation F-35s with all their advanced electronics and weapons suite. Unless of course……

    Newsflash – April 2021.
    “A massive aerial assault on Iran ordered by Trump fell into chaos today when the main wave of F-35s had their onboard computers do an involuntary update over the Gulf in the middle of the mission. Those pilots that were able to recover their craft before having to bail out found that their onboard computers would no longer ‘talk’ to their missiles & bombs and that their plane’s systems no longer recognized that they had onboard GAU-22/A cannons. Iranian pilots in their old F-5s on their way back to base last seen tearing out any electronics in their cockpit later than the 1990s”.

    Nice looking cats by the way Resilc.

    1. Carolinian

      As the story points out the US is still flying the B-52, gestated in the 1950s. I can probably spot a few private planes that old at my local airport. Aluminum doesn’t rust.

      And Iran is apparently now depending on missiles, not airplanes, for offense and defense. That is one of Trump and Netanyahu’s big beefs (that they can defend themselves).

        1. tegnost

          ok you pull on one arm and you pull on the other and you grab one leg and I’ll ask him to go pick something up for me…

      1. David(1)

        Aluminum doesn’t rust.

        Aluminum corrodes. Rust requires iron, which aluminum doesn’t have.

        The DOD spends approximately $21B on corrosion each year (Source).

        In Guam, each B-52 is cleaned and lubricated every 30 days, instead of the required 120 days, due to the corrosive environment (Source, with pictures). Wash teams work 12-hour shifts for two days to ensure the entire aircraft is cleaned and lubricated before returning to flying operations.

        Air Force Aircraft Corrosion Cost per item (in millions) [Total Corrosion Cost](Source)

        1. B-1B -> $3.7 [$251.2]
        2. C-5A -> $3.5 [$203.8]
        3. B-2A -> $3.0 [$63.3]
        4. MC-130H -> $2.9 [$58.4]
        5. B-52H -> $2.6 [$240.3]

        More that you probably wanted to know :)

        1. Carolinian

          Actually I sort of did know. Was being (lamely, obviously) rhetorical. Aluminum also fatigues and airliners are subject to a certain number of pressurization cycles before things go south.

          Or so I’ve heard. That Popular Mechanics story is interesting. The Iranians have reverse engineered the jet engines for their F 5s and now make most, not all, of the parts.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      From the
      Iran Is Building Its Own Submarines (With Torpedoes the U.S. Navy Can’t Match)
      Should Washington be worried?

      A weapon that may be closer to entering service is the Hoot (“Whale”) supercavitating torpedo, which reportedly can attain speeds of over two hundred miles per hour—around four times faster than a typical modern torpedo. This is achieved by using rocket exhaust heat to vaporize water in the path of the torpedo, allowing it travel in a gas bubble with minimal drag resistance. The first Hoot tests were broadcast on Iranian TV back in 2006, and the weapon reportedly underwent new trials in 2015 and May 2017, though the outcome of those tests is unknown. Defense analysts believe the Hoot to be reverse engineered from the Russian Shkval torpedo .

      Meet the US Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier
      Admiral Alfred E. Neuman was quoted “What, me worry”

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Note: not viewable in US. Luckily, I use a VPN and was able to view it via Paris. Guess I coulda tried Christchurch, too.

  14. notabanker

    Krugman with an op piece in NYT Subheadline, bold mine:
    Their agenda still needs to be tax-and-spend, not just spend

    At least he’s being transparent. More have to raise taxes to pay for it, blah, blah, blah.

    “In 2017, private insurance paid about a third of America’s medical bills — $1.2 trillion, or 6 percent of GDP.”

    As if they conjured up this money out of the goodness of their hearts and now the gov’t will have to do the same. This stuff is getting really old.

  15. Wukchumni

    The sky may be clearing and devastating floodwaters in Queensland’s northwest may finally be receding but the better weather is creating an entirely new problem for the state’s cattle farmers.

    Up to 500,000 cattle are estimated to have died over the past two weeks in what’s been labelled a national disaster, reports.

    If the cattle didn’t drown or freeze to death in the elements, devastated farmers were forced to fly around in helicopters and kill thousands of drought-stressed animals. The situation is so terrible that there are reports the farmers have run out of bullets.

    1. tegnost

      I tried to read it but in the halfway through it informed me that I’d reached my monthly limit…on my first visit…seemed good up til they cut me off

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Just to add that Xavier Niel is the son in law of Bernard Arnault, the biggest investor in LVMH and the donor who introduced Blair to Macron in London.

  16. russell1200

    At least in North Carolina, Duke Power pushed back on the length of the PURPA contract with new solar fields. They even went so far as to support the small rooftop folks knowing that their numbers weren’t going to seriously compete with the private hedge fund folks pushing the fields.

    I doubt the Chinese tariff had a huge impact, but given that they already pushed out most US manufacturing, the jobs are in the install side, not manufacturing. So if something gets a little more expensive, its not surprising it would hurt long before it helped.

    The other issue I have not seen addressed is what the effect of higher interest rates is having on the industry. If a solar field is something like a bond, with a cash flow payout, the increase in interest rates should hurt the capital base of fields already in place. To the extent that those are used as collateral for more production, you figure that would have an effect.

  17. zer0

    “Mind you, this finding could be accurate, but this study doesn’t prove it, and it bothers me that the media is so eager to promote studies that can’t be deemed conclusive due to the sample size.”

    This study worries you? This is like babytown frolics as compared to pseudo-legitimate studies on drugs that the FDA has conducted (or not conducted) to the detriment of virtually everyone in the US. Remember lipitor? Debunked. Utterly debunked. In fact, statins increase risk of heart attack. I would say ‘duh’, but people actually believe that there exists a miracle chemical that somehow would eradicate decades of poor eating habits that clog arterial walls and generally degrade the lining.

    Then there is the artificial opiates. Where was the study showing massive addiction rates? Where was the call to revise or look into drugs less addictive than morphine instead of more addictive? Of course, it was squashed by Perdue and they changed the testing metrics to essentially white wash the results. They used older people, which generally stay on drugs 24/7 to cope with pain, hence, no addiction results. Even though they knew.

    Kelly Brogan, M.D. says it best: “It turns out that a common sleight of hand in the medical literature is the popularization of claims around “relative risk reduction” which can make an effect appear meaningful, when the “absolute risk reduction” reveals its insignificance.” Basically, the research doctors use comparisons between different populations and studies to show improvement even though they specifically chose certain populations to highlight differences. So in fact, they use population differences to validate the improvement a drug makes.

    And this is just the very thin ice on the top of the surface. This goes well beyond pharmaceuticals into actual procedures, like spinal fusion/disk surgeries, etc.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are really out of line. First, you don’t dispute that what we said is correct. Instead, you whinge that we didn’t bang on about other topics. That is called an assignment. That is against our written site Policies.

      Second, we regularly link to posts on the level of corruption in science and the level of questionable studies, and in particular have commented repeatedly on spinal fusion and Purdue’s suppression/gaming of negative research. Your beef does not invalidate our comment.

      Third, you completely miss our point, which is to encourage readers to engage in critical thinking. You don’t have to go beyond the Atlantic write-up to see the study is way oversold. It gives the sample size. We are giving readers tools, how to look at studies and see if they are any good. The issue is that researchers have strong incentives to generate findings to publish interesting looking results and get more funding.

      See here, for instance:

  18. anon in so cal

    Re: Climate in North American Cities:

    “Under current high emissions the average urban dweller will have to drive > 500 miles to the south to find a climate similar to their home city by 2080.”

    What am I missing? Is this a typo? Shouldn’t it read “north” in place of “south”?

    1. EricT

      The language is misleading. Basically, they are saying if you want to know what the climate will be like where you live in 2080, drive 500 miles south and you will.

    2. notabanker

      It is confusing for sure. When you read the text it clearly states that climates of NYC and DC in 2080 will resemble those that are currently 500 miles to the south southwest.

  19. JerryDenim

    Twelve million dollar wage theft- LA drywall subcontractors:

    “…the labor commissioner has cited a City of Industry framing and drywall subcontractor for cheating more than 1,000 workers out of minimum wage, overtime and rest breaks on 35 construction sites across the Los Angeles region.”

    Say, that’s odd. I wonder if this gigantic wage theft has anything to do with California’s extremely high rate of undocumented workers in the construction trades or the state’s status as a “Sanctuary”?

    “But in the residential construction industry, there’s rampant exploitation,” he said. “A lot of workers are in the underground economy, paid in cash and on a piece-rate basis. They have no benefits.”

    Cue Bernie Sanders- “Open borders? That’s a Koch brothers policy!”

    Illegals really do make the best employees. Pay them cash under the table, minimum wage or less, no bennies, no workplace safety regulations or lawsuits to worry about, and you can steal from them when you want. What more could a greedy boss seeking to maximize value for stakeholders want? Construction business owners in sanctuary California who want to pay fair and play fair with their employees are at an extreme financial disadvantage when forced to compete against crooks like the ones in the LA Times story; Those who prefer hiring undocumented labor with the intent to exploit their legal vulnerabilities. A very sad, true race to the bottom. California is an incredibly unfair and tough state for working class citizens. They are squeezed from the top by the state’s ultra wealthy that drive up the prices for housing, education and all of life’s most vital resources, and then they are squeezed from the bottom by an army of undocumented/illegal workers who are willing to work lousy jobs for low wages with no security or workplace protections. It’s no wonder working class Californians are increasingly fleeing the state.

    1. Pookah Harvey

      The only thing worse is the guest worker program where employers maltreat employees in the same manner and if they complain are fired and deported. As an illegal they can change jobs hopefully getting better conditions. The guest workers will drive down wages even more than illegals. The answer is to prosecute employers illegally hiring undocumented workers and get better labor rights and conditions for workers in Latin America.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s considered very un-PC to point out in polite company that it is *Labor* (and its various political manifestations) that have been anti-immigration and it is *Capital* that has always wanted open borders so their wage race to the bottom can continue unabated.

      Ask Cesar Chavez about immigration. Labor sacrificed their blood over decades (and centuries) to try and defend workers and their wages. Now though we are in Inverto-Land, where every good “leftie” is told they should be for open borders and Kumbaya.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > California is an incredibly unfair and tough state for working class citizens. They are squeezed from the top by the state’s ultra wealthy that drive up the prices for housing, education and all of life’s most vital resources, and then they are squeezed from the bottom by an army of undocumented/illegal workers who are willing to work lousy jobs for low wages with no security or workplace protections

      Wait, what? That would imply that California is not “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.” What’s wrong with you?

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Bernie 2020 Campaign Has Corporate Democrats Running Scared Common Dreams

    It’s always good to be play it safe and to assume your opponents are not scared, but mad, angry or vengeful.

    Thinking them scared might lead to overconfidence.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Liberals and Conservatives React in Wildly Different Ways to Repulsive Pictures Atlantic (Lance N). This sort of thing drives me crazy. N=86.

    In addition, what one person finds repulsive, another might deem it appealing.

    Take for exmaple, a photo of Hillary, takne the moment just after she had been informed of Trump’s victory – is it repulsive or appealing?

  22. Oregoncharles

    “Moving artificial leaves out of the lab and into the air ”
    So what’s wrong with natural ones? This seems remarkably pointless.

    An alternative, that I saw proposed some years ago: tanks of photosynthesizing algae used to process smokestack gases. The challenge is to get enough sunlight into them. The algae have a number of uses, in turn. Fertilizer springs to mind. If you use blue-green “algae,” they also fix nitrogen.

    No idea what became of that idea; like the artificial leaves, it would be essentially a solar collector and would require quite a lot of space. But I always favor biological solutions; they tend to be self-correcting.

  23. Wukchumni

    Yes Wii Can!

    President Trump has installed a room-sized “golf simulator” game at the White House, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen, according to two people told about the system.

    That system replaced an older, less sophisticated golf simulator that had been installed under President Obama, according to two people with knowledge of the previous system.

  24. Oregoncharles

    From MoA’s “end of Russiagate” piece: “The alleged Russian influence campaign that never happened was used to install censorship on social media. It was used to undermine the election of progressive Democrats. The weapon salesmen used it to push for more NATO aggression against Russia. Maria Butina, an innocent Russian woman interested in good relation with the United States, was held in solitary confinement (recommended) until she signed a paper which claims that she was involved in a conspiracy.”

    So what was the REAL purpose of “Russiagate?”

    Actually, I think the real purpose was to serve as an excuse for losing to a buffoon. But that list was one hell of a bonus.

  25. Oregoncharles

    “More Americans Are At Least 3 Months Behind On Their Car Payment Than Ever Before”
    In the midst of a supposedly hot recovery and tight job market. More homeless than ever, too. Something doesn’t compute. Are the official statistics outright fiction? Or is this an example of private-debt overhang that’s going to bring the economy down?

    1. Pookah Harvey

      From a Business Insider article dated Jun. 18, 2018
      The ‘supply-and-demand model of labor markets is fundamentally broken,’ and that’s why you’re not getting a pay raise anytime soon

      Unemployment is low because a massive number of new jobs today are part-time gig-economy jobs. Part-time “underemployment” has, statistically replaced the mass unemployment we remember from the 1980s. As Johnson says: “A majority of people who are classified as poor now live in a household where someone is in work. This is a complete turnaround from 20 years ago when two-thirds of the poor lived in workless households.”

      Makes sense to me.

        1. Wukchumni

          One of the few times I took an Uber, the driver in Miami proudly told me he bought the $35k brand new SUV i was ensconced in, for the job…

  26. JEHR

    Re: PM Trudeau ‘surprised and disappointed’ by Wilson-Raybould’s resignation CTV News

    The key to the whole affair lies in the following from the article:

    Remediation agreements are a relatively new mechanism in Canada. The Liberals amended the Criminal Code through an omnibus bill in 2018 to implement what are also referred to as Deferred Prosecution Agreements. If the company was convicted they’d be banned from securing Canadian government contracts for a decade, potentially putting Canadian jobs on the line.

    Having read in NC of the many deferred prosecution agreements that the SEC has given to so many of the banks after their fraudulent behaviour that led to the financial crisis of 2008, I feel that these actions tell the most important part of the story. Why Canada would want to follow in the US’s footprints, I have no idea.

    Things will not go well for the Liberals in the October general election.

    1. Senator-Elect

      Yes, that is the real scandal. Well spotted!

      However, gotta disagree about the implications. This is Canada; we re-elected the Liberals after the sponsorship scandal!

  27. Savita

    In Australia it seems to be the wrong end of the time zone for a days post at NC, I get the feeling it can be too late for some to catch comments. Can someone perhaps ensure Yves reads this?
    She has commented about her difficult ankles before. This product could change her life (I’ve just read about professional athletes using it, don’t own one, would like to – not affiliated) It is for rehabilitating and strengthening feet, ankles and calves and stretching them properly – apparently the muscles through the ankle are so strong its not possible to stretch them properly, which is where this device comes in. It’s the best in its class.
    There’s a 10% discount code available somewhere online if one hunts around

  28. Lynne

    I don’t understand this question: And how do you explain hunters, who tend to skew politically conservative? They not only shoot animals (gory gunshot wounds) but almost always clean and dress their kills.

    There is a difference from killing something for food and enjoying looking at pictures of gory gunshot wounds. For one thing, using a shotgun to kill big game is illegal because it doesn’t make for a clean kill. Depending on what rifle and ammunition you use, the wound is actually not particularly gory. And I would hope they clean and dress their kills. It’s illegal in at least some states not to do (called wasting of game).

    1. Lynne

      And I should add: even in the places where it is not illegal, true hunters would consider it wildly unethical.

  29. charles 2

    Re : My neighbor just let himself into my locked house… thanks Siri

    This reddit is 2 years old, the vulnerability has been patched long ago. Meanwhile, the “key under the doormat / in the flower pot” vulnerability still lives on, but not newsworthy I guess.

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    China is polluting California’s air? That’s part of the fruits of Free Trade and MFN for China. How many California officeholders voted for MFN for China at the time? How many voted for NAFTA? How many voted for WTO membership “for” America?

Comments are closed.