Links 2/15/19

Big tech disrupters may pose risk to financial stability, warns global regulator FT

The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses WaPo. Martha Stewart when to jail on a nothingburger insider trading charge. Why are we even “negotiating” with Zuckerberg?

“My Only Goal Has Been to Protect Jeff and Lauren”: Michael Sanchez, Suspected Bezos Leaker, Supplies His Own Theory About the Affair, the Enquirer, Some Below-the-Belt Selfies, and “a Legendary Romance” Vanity Fair

Australian senator smears blood on Pauline Hanson’s door after parliament brawl Channel News Asia

For a commission of inquiry into SNC-Lavalin and the Prime Minister’s Office MaCleans. Political chaos reigns across the Anglosphere. Australia, Canada, the U.S. and, of course, the U.K.–


U.K. Set to Tell EU It Doesn’t Want to Renegotiate Brexit Deal Bloomberg

Can you negotiate with people who are certifiable? Ask the EU Guardian

Investors are shrugging off Brexit and pouring money into UK fintech startups Quartz

I scrape mould off the top of jam and eat what’s underneath, admits PM: Theresa May shares hot tip with Cabinet in discussion over food waste Daily Mail. Too much information!

A feud between France and Italy sums up the deep rift over Europe Quartz

Rights of ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters in France, ‘disproportionately curtailed’, say UN independent experts UN News

What the Yellow Vests Have in Common with Occupy In These Times

The new political battlefield is the road FT


Rebuking Trump, House passes measure to end U.S. involvement in Yemen NBC. With loophole on Saudi intelligence sharing, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, certainly.

As Giuliani Calls for Regime Change in Iran, Netanyahu Raises the Specter of “War” The Intercept

Iran tries to run out the clock as Trump bears down Politico

Dozens of Zimbabwean miners feared dead after shafts flood CBC. “Artisanal miners.”

How South Africa’s Blackouts Are Crippling Businesses Bloomberg


AP Interview: Maduro reveals secret meetings with US envoy Associated Press

Roberto Lovato: Elliott Abrams Is Bringing Violence of 1980s U.S. Latin America Policy to Venezuela Democracy Now

What’s at Stake in Venezuela? Greg Grandin, LRB. From last week, still germane.

The Tienditas Bridge “blockade” Medium

North Korea

USFK chief says American troop presence not related to end-of-war declaration or peace treaty Korea Herald

[News analysis] N. Korea demands partial relaxation of sanctions in exchange for Yongbyon inspections The Hankyoreh

Pelosi’s Korea junket:


China Explained: The Rise, Fall, and Uncertainty of Didi’s Ride-Hailing Dynasty Radii

In China, government policies tell us more about the economy than GDP numbers South China Morning Post

Why U.S. Debt Must Continue to Rise Michael Pettis, China Financial Markets. From last week, still germane.

Electronic waste is recycled in appalling conditions in India Asian Correspondent

New Cold War

Every Day Is a New Low in Trump’s White House Andrew McCabe, The Atlantic. Book excerpt.

The FBI’s Aborted Plan to Remove Trump From Office Was Delusional New York Magazine

The Russian Spy Who Wasn’t The New Republic. Maria Butina.

* * *

Munich Security Report 2019: Who Is to Blame and What to Do? Valdai Discussion Club

Trump Transition

Immigration spending pact has more than a border wall Associated Press. “The agreement provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles (88 kilometers) of Trump’s wall.” After all the yammering and virtue signaling. Well played, all.

An emergency declaration by Trump will lead to lawsuits. Lots of them. WaPo

Senate confirms Barr amid questions about Mueller report Roll Call

The Green New Deal: What’s Really Green and What’s Really New Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (MR).

In Germany, the Green New Deal Actually Works Bloomberg. For some defintion of GND, to be sure. However:

The mammoth task of making all buildings more energy efficient — yes, all, just like the Green New Deal says — hasn’t cowed the authorities in Europe. The German Energy Agency calculates that to make the country’s building stock almost carbon-neutral by 2050 about 1.4 percent of buildings a year will need to be refurbished; the current rate is about 1 percent, so the goal looks ambitious, but not unattainable.

Saudi Aramco Makes Existential Bet On Oil

Guillotine Watch

Is Burning Man casting out the super-rich? The Tatler

Imperial Collapse Watch

Navy Admiral on ship collisions: Those were tragedies, but what about the other 280 ships that didn’t collide? Task and Purpose

Class Warfare

A billion-dollar empire made of mobile homes WaPo

What to do with homeless college students? Let them sleep in the parking lot, new bill says Sacramento Bee. Liberal incrementalism is the only way forward.

Conditional dishonesty Thomas Lauer, Anna Untertrifaller Researchgate (PDF). n = 212. “In a laboratory experiment we find that indeed and irrespective of whether others’ lies affect one’s own payoff one third of all subjects are dishonest if others are too. Having only one dishonest group member makes the vast majority of these conditional liars switch from being honest to being dishonest. The size of a lie increases with the number of dis- honest group members that one faces. Overall, we find that conditional liars tell smaller lies than always liars do.”

COMPare: a prospective cohort study correcting and monitoring 58 misreported trials in real time Trials (part two).

The age of the hoax FT

Antidote du jour:

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: the articles on Iran.

    I wonder what Trump himself thinks of the Iran situation. He seems to be letting the neocons in his administration guide policy on Iran but during the 2016 election I got the sense that Trump understood that his base was tired of war and thought Iraq was a mistake. Is there any chance that Trump, as bad as he is, could act as a brake on the neocons? Or is Trump all in on war with Iran too?

    1. Ignim Brites

      With respect to the neo-con leadership on Iran policy, it is good to bear in mind LBJ’s observations about pissing and tents. Seems pretty clear that Trump supports regime change in Iran but it is not at all clear he will go to war, or support on Israeli war, to achieve that. This is especially the case since going to war with Iran might mean going to (nuclear, tactical, to be sure) war with Russia. From a neocon perspective that might be a feature. Putting Russia in its place in the middle east; that is, out, would be strategically pleasing and is probably a prerequisite for any intense bombing war against Iran.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Taking away Kushner, israel, and Saudi Arabiq, didn’t Kissinger oppose Syria and maybe even Libya at least he wasn’t for them?

        His claim to fame outside of thuggery was Nixon going to China, more accurately disrupting the Sino-Soviet alliance. If I’m over thinking this, the rhetoric out of Trump sees to revolve around getting the Russians and Syrians to dictate to Iran which is a major player in Silk Road 2.0. These fp types besides being racist also think they are quite bright, but I think the goal is to disrupt Silk Road relationships to combat China versus the Obama Administration goal of destroying the end points. The goal is to get Tehran mad at Moscow and make Tehran unpalatable to Beijing.

        The neoconservatives are just rabid dogs, but disrupting the Silk Road should theoretically be the primary strategy for holding U.S. empire.

        1. XXYY

          “thuggery” == gratuitiously and deliberately killing 4 million people in southeast Asia, plus many more elsewhere.

          Eichmann was hung for killing 6 million. Kissinger is Hillary Clinton’s drinking buddy.

          1. Synoia

            Yes, but the Germans were not exceptional.

            Exceptional has more than one meaning, roughly:

            1. Well above average,
            2. Being an exception

            We have been lead to believe the US was (1), but out beloved leaders and their wonderful foreign policy experts appear to believe we are (2).

          2. ewmayer

            “…killing 4 million people in southeast Asia, plus many more elsewhere.”

            But we meant well! That counts for something, doesn’t it?

        2. Procopius

          … more accurately disrupting the Sino-Soviet alliance.

          Errr… I am so old I remember the 1950s and ’60s, and despite right-wing propaganda, the USSR and China were involved in hostilities along their common border from 1953. After 1949, the USSR provided aid and advisers to China. In 1953 Stalin and Mao had an ideological dispute (the real reasons may have been something else) and the USSR suddenly cut off all aid and recalled their technical advisers. The “worldwide monolithic Communist conspiracy” was a propaganda ploy that played on establishment control of the news media and Americans’ general ignorance of international affairs. It was a lie. The funny thing is, I remember seeing news items that reported the border clashes and there was concern published that the two countries might go to war during the 1950s. After John Foster Dulles became Secretary of State he and his brother were able to enforce the idea of “monolithic Communist conspiracy” more stringently, but there were still occasional reports.

    2. dearieme

      In his campaigning it was clear that, if he was being truthful, his instincts were anti-war. What I doubted was whether he’d have the intellect, the agility, the backbone, and the stamina to impose those instincts on policy.

      One obvious problem was that he’d find it very difficult to hire staff who would combine useful experience with those same intentions; that would put a huge proportion of the burden on his own shoulders.

      If he carries out his policy to pull out of Syria I shall be impressed. If he manages to wind up the war in Afghanistan I shall applaud. Because he would have imposed those policies in the face of the slow-motion coup against him, with its absurd fantasies about those darned Russkis.

      But suppose he succeeds. Suppose he even wins a second term – what could he do to implant anti-war sentiment in DC? My own recommendation is that he persuades Tulsi Gabbard to be his running mate so that she can later run for President as the sitting VP. Fat chance, I suppose, but he likes pretty girls, eh?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No*, but we keep not losing our national sovereignty completely under TPP, and we keep not being at war with Russia (and it may be that Venezuela, too, will be a damp squib; we can’t seem to get the military on our side, and sending in our own troops is not on. So, crossed fingers, the lunatic Bolton was given enough rope to hang himself).

          NOTE How We Got Here: The Disturbing Path that Leads to Child Prison Camps Texas Observer:

          Trump and Sessions, in their way, are uniquely awful. The family separation policy, the blanket prosecutions, the broadsides against protections for victims of domestic violence — those are new either in kind or degree. But it’s also true that the road to this fresh hell was laid, at least in part, by previous administrations. Too many people looked away when it was their side in power; too many compromises were made in which protections for immigrants were traded for draconian border security policies.

          And it goes on; Pelosi just gave Trump 58 miles of wall (after endless yammering and virtue signaling about how evil it all was. So either it’s not evil after all, or Pelosi’s evil too. Take your pick.

          Honestly, it’s getting so any time I see “babies” invoked I immediately think it’s an argument made in bad faith (all the way back to the ventilator babies justifying the first Iraq War under Bush the Elder, which, naturally, turned out to be a fake story). Which is a shame, because I think our children is the only persuasive argument for avoiding cooking the planet. Certainly 40 years of “save the planet” ain’t it. Not a good well to poison….

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Contrary to his general statements about endless wars as a foolish drain on resources, as I recall Iran was ALWAYS an exception for him, perhaps the influence of Israel via evangelicals (his base). He criticized the Iran deal while campaigning and withdrew from it as far as I know without any outside pressure.

      It was particularly perverse timing because they had just elected a more moderate president after Ahmadjinebad.

      1. False Solace

        Trump seems highly motivated by the need roll back and undo everything done by Obama. Since the Iran deal was one of Obama’s few positive foreign accomplishments, Trump has a psychological need to destroy it out of spite. A pity Trump doesn’t seem equally motivated to undo Obama’s foreclosure epidemic or carte blanche for Wall Street. Funny how such things only swing in one direction, amirite?

  2. Martin Oline

    Every Day Is A New Low…
    We will see more of this. All of those who are at risk of prosecution will be busy trying to shape the narrative in the media. I found a good analysis at The Conservative Treehouse of the different and mostly former players in the Justice department. They are divided into two camps and may well start to fight in an effort to shift the blame for the attempted coup. Seven Days in May anyone? Linky:

    1. DJG

      Martin Oline: Thanks. And we should bear in mind that McCabe falls under It’s All about the Benjamins. Today’s NY Times, + note paragraph:

      WASHINGTON — Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, said in an interview aired on Thursday that top Justice Department officials became so alarmed by President Trump’s decision in May 2017 to fire James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, that they discussed whether to recruit cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office.
      The dire concerns about the president’s actions also prompted Mr. McCabe to order the bureau’s team investigating Russia’s election interference to look into whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey. The F.B.I. also began examining whether Mr. Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.
      Mr. McCabe’s explosive remarks were made in an interview with “60 Minutes” scheduled to air in full on Sunday. He was promoting his memoir, “The Threat: How the F.B.I. Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” which will be released next week.

      “The Threat”: More special pleading by the so-called intelligence community to America’s fear-ridden citizens. I’m no fan of Trump, who is just a louder (although not much louder) version of Bezos or Rauner or the Rickettses or any number of coprolicious U.S. managers. Ironically, Trump has never been accused of quite as horrifying labor practices as Bezos has (see Yves Smith’s post today). But the idea that the so-called intelligence agencies were contemplating what amounts to a coup d’état and are now trying to sell that load of guano as a dozen roses is rich indeed.

      But, as is well known, everyone at this site is Russian stooge. I sold my vote to a guy named Pyotr for two jars of pickled mushrooms.

      1. tegnost

        What? He only gave me one! And I voted twice!/s…see that fbi? I was just kidding, i didn’t vote for either one of them…

    2. John

      Attempted coup? I don’t see anything unlawful here. A top official in the government was alarmed about the behavior of Trump and asked others if they would invoke the constitutional process to remove him. It’s big news but hardly a coup.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Think about it. McCabe is saying that Trump is a secret agent of the Russia Federal Security Service. That he is betraying America to a foreign power. That he is continuously committing treason – presumably for money – and has sold out the country. They put people in Fort Leavenworth and even execute them for less than that. And we are expected to take McCabe’s word for it? That’s a coup that both by intent and purpose. Speaking as a non-American, then **** McCabe and the horse that he rode into town on.

      2. Skip Intro

        Invoking the 25th to oust a president you disagree with would be an incredible abuse. You can’t reasonably argue that Trump has been incapacitated, but a conspiracy to claim he is, in bad faith, is a coup plot. We call it that when they play the same trick in Venezuela.

  3. Joe Costello

    On the House of Saud”s “existential bet” — “When asked by the FT if Saudi Aramco is looking to become an international player like ExxonMobil or Shell, al-Falih responded: “Correct.”

    “The world’s top seven western integrated oil majors collectively saw their proven reserves slip to 86.93 billion barrels of oil equivalent last year, down 0.7% year on year and 9% below 2013 levels, according to an analysis of annual filings by S&P Global Platts.”

    “New discoveries of conventional oil and gas have fallen sharply since 2015 and last year was particularly bad for drilling results.

    According to Rystad, less than 7 billion barrels of conventional oil equivalent was discovered in 2017, the lowest since the 1940’s and enough to replace just 11% of global oil and gas production last year.”

    When Ghawar goes, so too the Saudi oil industry, bet on that.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      so us crazy doomers were right, after all,lol.
      in …say…2006…we didn’t even contemplate fracking/tight oil becoming such a big deal; still, more or less on schedule.
      interestingly, regarding oil/gas related things…
      of the 4 sandplants up around brady, texas, 3 have closed, and moved out west(kermit and environs). turns out that they’ve figured how to use the “softer” and more common sand to prop open the strata….so “Brady Brown” is a sort of luxury. it costs $$$to truck that Brady Brown all the way to the Permian.
      ergo, they’re cutting costs with a will.
      since conventional peaked out there in the 70’s, this whole exercise is almost literally scraping the dregs any way.
      I expect the end of that party sometime soon.
      then they’ll likely(imo, confirmed by people i talk to peripheral to all that) move the whole kit and caboodle to east texas…where it all began…and bottle brush that, too.
      Brady is in shock, meanwhile….sand was a major employer/tax base…with lots of multipliers out into the surrounding economy.
      we’re in the county to the south of there, so I’ll be watching for any ecocontagion spreading down here.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses”

    That multi billion dollar fine. After they pay it, will it be a tax-deductible item in their tax statement as a necessary business expenditure?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Pay close attention, well, as close as they’ll let you, to the terms of the fine/settlement. Perhaps, a $5,000,000,000 fine will consist of $100,000 in cash and $4,900,000,000 of deferred advertising equivalence with an opaque and seriously smelly present value computation. But, it’s the top line number at the presser that counts, right?

      1. notabanker

        This. And fully expect some large element of it will be related to a revised altruistic approach to political campaign advertising.

      2. WobblyTelomeres

        Er, make that $4,999,900,000. Sorry. Two math errors in the past two months. I need to concentrate!!!

    2. Wukchumni

      Nelson Bunker Hunt and his brother tried to corner the physical silver market by completely legal means, and they had succeeded largely, with the spot price octupling in around 6 months from mid 1979 to early 1980, that is until the powers that be @ the CBOT changed the rules on them, game so over.

      They incurred massive losses @ the time, causing NBH to utter in despair:

      “A billion dollars isn’t what it used to be.”

      Now we talk in trillions…

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: trouble in Anglosphere–

    I noted in a comment yesterday about “Pine Gap,” the new Netflix series produced in Australia, about the listening post jointly operated by Australia and the United States. I finished the six episodes and would like to include a stretch of dialog from the last episode. The conversation takes place between the American and Australian supervisors that jointly run Pine Gap. Just prior to this scene, the Australian supervisor declared a failure of concurrence and demanded that Pine Gap be shut down before it was used to assist an American attack on the Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea. At an impasse, the two supervisors leave the room to work things out:

    American: We can take out their silly man-made islands in ten minutes.

    Australian: And then they’re going to sink half a dozen ships. Then what?

    American: They can’t match us militarily.

    Australian: You can’t actually win, Nathan. If you couldn’t win in Afghanistan or Iraq. You couldn’t win in Korea or Vietnam. How in the [ ] are you going to beat China?

    American:It’s not about winning. It’s about maintaining dominance, which, I might add, is as much in Australia’s interest as ours.

    Australian: Trying to keep your foot on China’s throat is not in Australia’s best interest.

    American: Look, the stability of all of Asia has been guaranteed by our leadership. That’s how it’s worked since 1945. We keep everybody in check. And for the long term stability of the whole region, that’s the dominance we have to maintain.

    Australian: You just have to get out of the 20th century. I love America, but you are no longer the greatest country in the world. You’re just not. With the strength China has today, American can never have stability AND dominance in Asia again. It’s one or the other. It doesn’t mean you’ll lose anything, but things change. Age gracefully. Be adult. Just don’t start a [ ] war with China. Give them some room.

    The American supervisor is convinced. He proceeds immediately to a visual call with the POTUS, a Trump-like hothead, and tells the President that as far as they can tell, China is ready to launch nukes if the islands are attacked. The POTUS angrily backs down.

    The foreign policy discussion could have been taken out of NC or Moon of Alabama.

    Overall, the show portrays a world in which we should be very, very thankful to someone for each day that we have not been plunged into World War III by our lunatic leadership seeking to maintain their dominance even though it’s clear to the rest of the world that America is no longer the GOAT.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Sounds good. As a netflix DVD subscriber by necessity I am constantly amazed and disappointed at how many things are not available on DVD/Blu. We need an alternative.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      I watched those episodes. Creepy how even intimate partners were always spying on each other, playing each other–for their country. The Aussies had a big trade deal with China at stake that they didn’t want to be jeopardized.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides corporate espionage, the Colonial Powers were still colonial powers after World War II. The seizure of Suez Canal springs to mind.

        I know “the it was a different time” canard, but our problems more stem from not reassessing bad decisions or at least temporal decisions. Keeping an eye on each other probably made sense, and organizations that get too large morph into existing to exist.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I know. I’m suggesting its a long term holdover of entrenched behavior that survives behind the veil of “classified.”

        1. Bugs Bunny

          Speaking of colonial powers, get this:

          There was an unintentionally hilarious discussion on French radio yesterday about how China’s investments in Africa were actually going to impoverish African countries and attach them to China for the foreseeable future, forcing them to pay off enormous debts in the name of “development”

          I swear to G-d, there were no comments from these “experts” on France’s exploitation and exercise of economic, industrial and military control for the past 150 years over most of the Magreb and West Africa. Insanity.

          1. Synapsid

            Bugs Bunny,

            I agree with your point.

            China has been getting some strong pushback for its lending-for-development policies, though.

            The money lent is in dollars, so the recipient has debts to repay in dollars (not easy for many small countries), infrastructure loans are often for no-bid contracts that go to a Chinese company that supplies the workers from back home, and China’s “We don’t concern ourselves with internal affairs of other countries” approach, which China considers a selling point, has led to huge overborrowing in countries without any sort of oversight of the government and with much of the money going into rulers’ pockets. One result has been a couple of countries replacing such governments with more democratic ones (really!) and repudiating loans left to them by the corrupt former one. Malaysia is a recent example.

      2. polecat

        The problem with these modern drama series, is that too many unthinking folk have a tendency to internalize them, and think what they see on their screens is the real deal … rather than the fiction that it is. Yes, I know that’s not a new concept …. but the ‘entertainment’ industry continues to produce this junk, season after season, year after year, non-stop ! Who has time for reality anymore ??
        Doesn’t help that every MIC & IC, and every other expert has their mitts in virtually every aspect of production … same as with ‘news’ programing ….

    3. alex morfesis

      it seems you didnt actually read the full memo…the only two nations larger than the you ess of hay hey haeee were forced inventions…

      yuan and qing monarchies are the max extended boundaries of historic china…twenty languages…

      india, a nation of hundreds of principalities which still hold some dominion over their local subjects, 20 plus main languages…only one, hindu, with a possible lingual claim as top dog, but spread out as to not be a threat, financially nor physically

      to the ultimate goal…

      of the USA being the largest nation on the globe by population…

      remember…tiananmen almost destroyed the red communist army…no one wanted to go in and remove the protesters…army groups from other parts of the country who could not communicate in the same language as the protesters were brought in to save the communist party…

      the goal is not to contain…but to wear out…and let the chinese leadership devolve their nation by over extension…and work to break the two nations up to coincide with the population of the usa reaching somewhere between 425 million and 500 million…

      draw them out and wear them out…muhammad ali…rope-a-dope…

      help them lose by exhaustion…

      we now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…

      1. carycat

        Waiting for China or India to fission could work if only TPTB is not letting the US devolve into the Coast vs Flyover. The two coast, being non-contiguous, will split a’la Pakistan and Bangladesh. That is a more likely scenario as the China leadership seems to care about “preserving the union” and acting accordingly.

    4. norm de plume

      ‘Pine Gap’ has not been universally well received, though the commenters generally disagree with the author’s condemnation of it as propaganda. I guess I will have to watch it myself, though if it evades mention of or allusion to the most important ‘failure of concurrence’ at Pine Gap, then it is a whitewash. Whitlam’s threat to close it signed his political death warrant. Nearly 50 years later, the importance of Pine Gap to US goals is ongoing.

      It will be interesting to compare this series to another Netflix drama Secret City, a quietly effective dramatisation of the very real but subterranean battle between China and the US via proxies in the Australian political and bureaucratic establishment.

  6. Tyrannocaster

    “Mr. Facebook, would you please do us the honor of allowing us to contemplate issuing a fine against you? You can decide the amount.”

  7. Wukchumni

    The Valentine’s Day Mass Occur ended up to the north and south of us, with areas from Palm Springs to the Mexican border setting all-time records for the day’s deluge.

    These atmospheric rivers are oddly similar to hurricanes in that you know it’s coming at you en masse, but where is it going to hit?

    We got around an inch of rain when it was 60 degrees-no biggie, but if we’d gotten the big 10 inch recorded near Tijuana-adjacent, the climax would’ve been less satisfying.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Australian senator smears blood on Pauline Hanson’s door after parliament brawl”

    Sigh! Having to explain Australian politics. OK – here goes with a very simplified version. That Pauline Hanson is kinda like our Trump and has been in politics on and off for the past twenty years and specializes in xenophobia. She helped formed the One Nation party as her vehicle back in 1997. That Brian Burston was there from soon after its founding. There has been a lot of bad blood between them over the years and just this month Burston accused Hanson of sexual harassment from way back in 1998. Last year he turned his back on the party and had to resign whereupon he joined the United Australia Party which was formed by a mining billionaire named Clive Palmer. This later party just put up a TV ad which reckons that the Chinese built an airstrip in Western Australia so that Chinese carriers can bring in fighters to land there and take over this part of Australia. In short, all these parties and their participants are considered bad jokes and the whole thing has the ring of thieves falling out.

        1. cm

          She was making an ass of herself, and this guy (the one performing in drag) took recordings of her voice and manipulated it to produce the song. It got significant air-play JJJ (state-run radtio station) and outrage ensued. Wiki entry

    1. R

      Also, can’t do a primer on Pauline Hanson and not mention that before politics she worked in a ‘fish & chip’ shop :)

      A white nationalist, but no billionaire.

      1. norm de plume

        The best primer on Hanson comes from the estimable Margo Kingston, whose Webdiary at the Sydney Morning Herald in the first years of the millennium was the prime mover of the (now virtually dead) progressive Aussie blogosphere.

        Kingston, a real journalist who when the Herald began morphing into Hello magazine was, along with Webdiary, deemed surplus to requirements, decided the best way to get to the heart of the Hanson phenomenon in the late 90s was to travel with her on the campaign trail. A book resulted, and so did a regard for and understanding of Hanson, despite the huge gulf in political convictions between the two. Most of her cohort thought Hanson was a ‘deplorable’ and so beyond their remit.

        She is no Aussie Trump (Clive Palmer has a lock on that role) but this from the Kingston piece provides a flavour of their shared anti-establishment appeal:

        ‘Her supporters were by and large nice people with little money who were largely uninterested in politics. They were suffering badly from the effects of competition policy, which had seen basic services and jobs stripped out of their towns. They loved Hanson’s grit and plain speaking. Most of all, they loved that she listened’

        1. The Rev Kev

          I’d agree with that assessment. What I remember most from that period was video of ordinary – usually older – people being attacked by leftists when going into meeting halls to listen to her and both the media and the police seemed to think that that was OK. Said the other day that her success at the time was mostly due to the fact that both main political parties had long given up paying attention to the wants and needs of ordinary voters leaving a massive gap for a demagogue. But I am betting that readers here would be familiar with that scenario from back in 2016.

  9. flora

    re: Brexit

    After yesterday’s vote Mrs. May, instead of taking a stand against ERG – finally – said a no-deal Brexit was still on the table. I now think Mrs. May is a stealth ERG supporter. The tactics are all there: stall and stall on necessary decisions while appearing to work toward resolution hoping to run out the clock before the other side can make preparations; present so soft a target no one can aim at it. Once the clock has run out declare what you didn’t want you must now accept because there’s no more time. I have seen this play too many times to count in the US. Here it’s back by the same ultra right billionaire funded think tanks like ALEC that have also been in league with UK Altantic Bridge and ERG and Leadsom and Fox. (Guardian and desmogblog articles.)

    The response time for people who do not want a no-deal Brexit has been shortened to one month. One month. Not much time.
    Wish I was wrong about all this. If you accept that May is secretly working toward a no-deal, (or is too inept to prevent one, but I don’t think she’s a second Neville) how do you proceed?

    1. vlade

      The fascinating thing on this is the shift of the window.

      Pre-referendum? “We want to leave, but of course we want to be in single market etc. etc.. “.
      Post referendum? Various unicornish combinations, but strong inclination to hard brexit.
      Now: No deal.

      A great case on how you can shift the meaning…

      1. Monty

        Why do you suppose they want a Hard Brexit, despite all the warnings against it? I doubt it is as delusional as The Sun / Daily Mail / Millwall supporters would have us believe. I suspect there is an utterly unspeakable plan afoot. I wonder what it entails. Do you have any theories?

        1. Synoia

          1. Brexit was always Crash Out or Remain. There was never going to be any reasonable set of conditions for some extended transition period. When you piss in your neighbors fish pond for years, call his wife ugly, and insult his club repeatedly, there is no space for negotiations.

          2. Corbyn needs a crash out if he is to promote any measure of socialism, as the EU is a Neo-liberal cesspit of favors for the Rich and Connected. He is firmly in the leave column, for his own reasons.

          They only question is: Will the Conservatives (Tories) accept becoming the EU vassals, under some negotiated “Brexit Agreement.” Personally I’d bet on “not under any circumstances.”

          Whatever happens this applies:
          “It’s the rich wot get the pleasure
          It’s the poor wot gets the blame!”

          Whatever happens, the UK working class will loose. Possibly by cancelling the National Health Service. If it become that extreme, then I’d recommend taking futures in pick axe handles and bricks. But, there are long memories, and the UK ruling class has no hesitation is using extreme violence on its working class.

          The French are, as they did historically, taking the lead in this Civil Unrest. I do admire the French, they are willing to stand up against what they perceive as wrong, unlike the British who tend to go and sink their sorrows in a beer, and take out their misery on their families.

          I’d like to be wrong. As a sanity check, the Colonel could comment.

        2. Skip Intro

          I believe that the various interests have ’emergency legislation’ ready to be applied when the crisis hits. Classic shock therapy, really. Like the Patriot Act, the legal ground will be replaced under your feet overnight. I expect massive deregulation, privatisation, and dismantling of social infrastructure.

    2. flora

      1. Corbyn needs to wake up.

      2. People calling for a change in UK politics during this crisis and saying maybe the Constitution needs to be changed are singing the billionaire neoliberals song though they do not know it. That’s the ultimate trap, and ALEC and other groups are ready to spring it shut. I know this sounds unbelievable, like a movie script or stage play. I’m in the US and have been watching these people and groups for many years. They are well funded, smart, careful planners, uncompromising in their goals, and keep themselves well hidden from the spot lights.

      I wish this comment was mere foil bonnet.

      1. Darthbobber

        With regard to 1), what exactly would you have an awake Corbyn do?

        And what result would he with some degree of confidence expect to achieve by doing it?

        Most of the alternatives I’ve seen bandied about for labor seem to me no less futile than the course he appears to be pursuing.

        1. flora

          Not waste time going to Brussels to try and get a better deal when he’s out of power. Brussels will politely listen and change nothing. (Shades of Greece and Y.V. promising to ‘talk Brussels into reason’…) Corbyn’s fight is at home, it’s the only ground he has to stand on at the moment, and hunting for unicorns is wasting time if the first goal is to prevent a no-deal crash out. Imo, preventing a no-deal crash-out is the first order of business.

          And, since I’m approaching a rant, might as well continue. (sorry)

          I think the large majority in UK do not want a no-deal departure from the EU. Preventing that crash out is the first order of business. Leaving with decent terms is one thing. Crashing-out is something else all together.

          The ERG and UKIP and their fellow travellers, if I may put it that way, (and here comes the rant) are deluding themselves if they think a crash-out puts them in the driver’s seat wrt the UK’s future. It does no such thing. It delivers the UK and UK govt to US global corps and US libertarian/billionaires (not the UK billionaires, no matter what sweet talk ALEC and Exxon have used to tickle ERG ears – remember, they lie). In a crash-out ERG will be no more in control of UK’s future than, for example, CalPERS will be in control of its own finances if it gives that financial control to PE (which CalPERS looks to be doing).

          End rant. And sorry for what must sound like an overheated comment.

          They are all acting like March 29th isn’t a hard date. It is a hard date.

          1. Ignacio

            flora I think your theory on May’s take on brexit has merit. One of the reasosns I give it merit is that it looks like an excellent strategy to confuse the Labour as it has occured. Now, when brits face the no-deal scenario won’t be able to see the Labour as the spirit that fiercely tried to avoid it.

            1. Ignacio

              So there are two possibilities:
              1) May is a real no-deal brexiteer
              2) May (and some many more) is the useful idiot of ERG

            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Yikes, sorry for the repetition. It seems a comment I thought had been eaten below has been regurgitated.

          2. John k

            Corbyn maybe wants to be seen trying to do something… same as may. Probably helps the post brexit food fights. Does seem he thinks hard best or only option.

          3. Darthbobber

            That still doesn’t tell me what you think he SHOULD do, and why doing whatever that is would produce any better results than the aimless shuffling of his rooks he seems to be engaged in.

            1. flora

              How about make common cause with all other MPs of any party who do not want a no-deal and work from that base for that particular outcome before March 29th? Focus on that outcome instead of chasing unicorns? (The unicorns have been well listed already on NC: ‘ yes, but first we need to… and there will be time for doing that first because…’ No. There isn’t anymore time to chase the unicorn first.) All MPs who do not want no-deal face a ‘common enemy’, if I can put it like that.

              Well, that does sound a bit… um… But there it is, I think.

              And, if Corbyn wants a no-deal (but won’t exactly say so), then it’s left to the MPs themselves, though I can’t imagine how that works in Parliament.

              1. Monty

                Crash out doesn’t give the EU time to beat a safe retreat prior the chaos. Pain all around. It also prevents a situation where thousands of Millwall fans go on the rampage wearing yellow vests. Lets have the crash, show everyone what a good (lol) or bad idea it was. If it’s as bad as you think, let’s round up the people responsible and try them for treason.

                Anything else is a big win for the EU. European business will want to relocate even if Brexit is cancelled. Brexit will always be hanging over us like the proverbial sword of Damocles. Any future problems will be because we “bottled it on Brexit” and the people responsible for this mess will get away with it..

                1. flora

                  Not doing a no-deal does not mean not doing a Brexit. At this late date it may mean voting for May’s plan (loath as I am to write this), but I think even May’s plan is better than a doing no-deal Brexit.
                  Deals can be amended and modified after the fact.

                  Shorter: At this late date on the calendar, May’s deal might be like jumping from an airplane at altitude with a damaged parachute, v.s. a no-deal, which would be like jumping from an airplane at altitude with no parachute, I think.

                  Withdrawing A.50 seems highly unlikely. Getting an extension from the EU to hammer out new withdrawal agreement details seems unlikely. And there is no more time on the calendar.

                  And this is about the UK’s future. Not the EU’s.

                  Maybe you meant your comment as a humorous snark and I missed the points. It wouldn’t be the first time I missed the humorous intent of a remark. ;)

                  1. flora


                    Deals can be amended and modified after the fact.

                    By which I’m referring to modification in active, enacted trade and international deals, not in before the fact still-to-be-enacted deals. The current WA is still to be enacted. I expect this is clear.

                    1. Monty

                      May’s deal is just metaphorically letting the EU have its wicked way (Before it flounces off and leaves us bleeding in a ditch). No thanks.

                      I would prefer Brexit never happened at all. However, we are damned if we do and damned if we dont. Why not maximize collateral damage and go out with a bang? (Hurting European interests as much as possible in the process). Think of it as the price for their “computer says no” negotiating tactics. Can they really afford to take that economic hit, or do they just think that no deal cannot happen? I dont know the answer, but since the UK is screwed anyway…why not find out.

                      After the dust settles, the people can survey the damage. If the results are as bad as expected, we can arrest those responsible and send them off to the Tower of London.

              2. Skip Intro

                I still hear no concrete actions for Corbyn to take. There are no other choices than May’s agreement and crash out. The right thing to do for the country would be to shout about revoking A50, but he would do nothing but upset half his constituents. I see no path by which he could achieve this, and anything short of that doesn’t help anyone.

    3. FFA

      “… and I hire the mould for DExEU!” Ba-doom tish.

      I struggle to believe that this mess is a nefarious plan by May but …

      She always chafed at being in the European Court of Human Right’s jurisdiction. Leaving the convention on human rights is a separate decision to leaving the EU but there can be no agreement with the EU on the Irish border (or even some common market type of arrangement) if the UK exits the convention so maybe, just possibly? What would she have done differently if this was her cunning plan?

    4. PlutoniumKun

      May’s record is as someone who defines her particular job in an almost monomaniacal way. I believe she sees her job as, in no particular order.

      1. ‘Delivering’ Brexit
      2. Keeping the Tory party together.

      By definition, achieving (2) means delivering (1) in a manner which will minimise any split.

      Since Tory Remainers are scattered and relatively small in number, while the ERG have disproportionate power due to their popularity with the grassroots, then this means that the ERG must be either kept on board or at least made feel they have not been entirely routed. This means that in the entire 2 year process since A.50 was launched, either by design or default, the entire debate has swung away from any type of soft Brexit or BINO, the entire opposite of what many assumed would happen.

      I don’t think May wants a no-deal. She wants her deal, and she believes she can get it by pushing up to the wire. In her mind, this means she has succeeded. If there is a no-deal, then she will see herself as having done the honorable thing to ensure the Party stayed together – she will retire so some sort of comfortable sinecure arranged by some rich Brexiteers. In other words, for her a ‘no deal’ is a good runner-up position.

      The fact that in doing this she may well have laid waste to the economy and maybe the end of the Union seems somewhat irrelevant to her.

      1. vlade

        TBH, I suspect if the latter (wasted economy and the Union destroyed) happens, she’ll be sorry to see it, but blame the other parties. She has repeatedly shown she’s totally incapable of any self-reflection.

      2. David

        I’d just add “keeping her job” before anything else, which requires (1) and (2). What this means in practice is that any outcome which can be called “Brexit” and which keeps the Tory Party together will do, irrespective of its consequences for the UK and Europe. I find that terrifying.

    5. Wukchumni

      “The rule is, in a jam tomorrow and in a jam yesterday – but never today.” “It must come sometimes to in a ‘jam today’,” Theresa objected. “No it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s a jam every other day: today isn’t any other day, you know.”

    6. ChiGal in Carolina

      I have been following your comments on this, Flora, and though I have a limited grasp of everything at play in this, I can’t help but think you are prescient.

  10. Wukchumni

    What to do with homeless college students? Let them sleep in the parking lot, new bill says Sacramento Bee.

    ‘College loan debt 101’

    1. tegnost

      well folks are reportedly missing car payments so isn’t this just another stealth bailout by getting students to buy a car with their (nondischargeable) student loans so they can save money on housing…does amazon deliver to parking lots?

      1. ambrit

        A viable business will deliver to where ever there is a potentially paying customer.
        A real life example. When I was at university, (an abortive affair, alas,) we once held a Friday night party in the left elevator of our dorm building, a multi story place. We tapped into the power outlet on top of every elevator, there for repair tools, and had the stereo cranked. A chair and a small couch, standing lamp. Just add people. Halfway through the night, we became hungry. We ordered pizza from a local non-chain pizza joint. They delivered two pizzas to the left hand elevator in the “XXXXXXX ” Residence Hall, on campus at about 1AM Saturday morning.
        I would refer back to the James Carville quote about “…dragging a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park…” but consider that, since this happened at a “Poison Ivy League College,” dragging a ten thousand dollar bill down the middle of “K” Street, Washington, the District of Columbia would be a more appropriate trope.

      1. newcatty

        Have read that in LA that typhoid is present in the skid row homeless streets. Also, that the carriers, fleas on rats, are not just in the homeless camps, but that the rats are in city hall and other city buildings. Apparently, a city official got typhoid and said it was hell. You can look it up on the intertube. So, if homeless kids are sleeping in parking lots, how long before the fact that , if even in a car, that disease of some type will spread in unsafe and unhealthy conditions? Another crumbling brick on the disintegrating wall of this country’s decline and degradation as a society.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          due to wife’s chemo-compromised immune system, we’ve been in close contact with the school nurse…doing surveillance, and linking that up with what my kids overhear..
          the only kids who had/have the flu, are also antivaxxers…parroting their parents’ lunacy.
          makes me wonder about what else they ain’t getting….remembering the more and more common measles outbreaks of late.
          my brother and his bunch won’t get the flu shot…rely on tamiflu after the fact.
          brought it up here for thanksgiving a few years ago and almost killed us all…and of course, my mom refuses to get it..
          it’s maddening.(i like not getting the flu(or polio, etc)
          (i am a strong advocate of doing the holidays in july for just this reason)

          of course, typhus is one of those lack-of-sanitation diseases…third world america…banana empire.
          I remember something this week about the LA cop shop being overrun with rats…maybe the rat catchers have been outsourced, budgetcut or roboticised.

        2. norm de plume

          Musing on that other story above, where hedge funds are picking up mobile home parks and making windfall profits.. connecting dots.. the smartest guys in the room on Wall St made billions under the shade of the ‘Greenspan put’ from defrauding people out of their homes (and also from betting on that result), maybe some of the same actors are among those making a motza out of the mobile homes.

          If so I’m a bit surprised there appears (so far) to be no news of these vultures descending on the college car park sector, there to make another ‘killing’. Toll gated communities with (of course) strict ‘security’, and contracts with connected vendors for exclusive rights to peddle ‘food’ and drink. Security would ensure no competing perishables enter the premises. Health services too could be provided, for a competitive fee.

          Next order of business: getting in on the ground floor of the typhoid vaccine spike…

        1. Cal2

          No, they’re taking up the converted garages, back yard cottages, funky apartments and motel like apartments that poor Americans used to live in as well as regular cheap housing. In addition, they are raising housing prices.
          You get to compete with immigrants, legal and otherwise for housing.

          Here’s a story from the Marin Independent Journal discussing the effects of all immigrants on housing costs.
          November 20, 2018

          “Nearly a quarter of immigrants in San Jose’s expensive real estate market are homeowners, the second highest rate of any major city in the country.

          LendingTree, an online loan marketplace, ranked home ownership rates among immigrants for the 50 largest U.S. cities. Four other California cities cracked the top 10: Los Angeles in third, San Francisco in fourth, Riverside in fifth and San Diego in 10th.

          Of the 50 cities studied, San Jose also had the second-highest share of foreign-born residents, nearly 39 percent, which includes naturalized citizens, permanent residents, visa holders and undocumented migrants. A third of the city’s native born residents are homeowners.

          Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree, said cities with high rates of home ownership among immigrants also had some of the most expensive housing markets.”

          1. Skip Intro

            But you still need to slag ‘illegals’? Those darn illegals buying up all the Marin McMansions!

            Maybe if the state could educate citizens instead of handing cash to charter school con artists and college administrators, they wouldn’t need to bring in so many foreign professionals to keep things booming.

    1. Paul O

      Only a little. There is some coverage of the school ‘climate strike’

      This is not directly organised by Extinction Rebellion – though they are promoting it. It feels like XR are being largely ignored by the UK press (as the Yellow Jackets are).

      XR are organizing though

      My expectation – however optimistic – is that XR will take off in a big way this year.

  11. William Hunter Duncan

    Rentiers parasatizing working people living in mobile home trailers, in part using a $1.3 billion loan from Fanny and Freddy.

    Because Fanny and Freddy couldn’t provide a loan to the residents of the park to buy the park?

    If this is making America great again, I suspect such people are going to be willing at some point to vote for someone who is going to make these rentier types live in trailers

    1. diptherio

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Fanny and Freddie actually couldn’t, due to some regulation or another. But you know who could? ROC (Resident Owned Communities) USA.

      ROC USA® is a non-profit social venture scaling resident ownership of manufactured home communities since 2008. Together with ROC USA® Network, a group of nine regional non-profit affiliates, and ROC USA® Capital, a CDFI lending subsidiary, we work with 200 resident-owned communities in 16 states.

      They’re legit. Tell all your friends (who live in mobile home parks).

  12. Wukchumni

    Is Burning Man casting out the super-rich? The Tatler

    The only thing you can spend money on @ Burning Man is bags or blocks of ice for $3, or a coffee/tea for $3 at the one place that sells hot beverages in the entire city of some 70,000.

    Money has never mattered all that much in what some call a ‘gift economy’. When I used to go, our camp had a bar and the booze budget for a week was around $1000 divided among a dozen, so everybody was on the hook for $88, and we gave every last distilled drop away for free, and it was fun playing bartender, even more so when you eliminated the money exchange part.

    The one camp in the article mentioned was everything that Burning Man isn’t in spirit, defeat the rich.

  13. Paul O

    Anyone else not see the antidote? It is right there is the RSS mail I received but I don’t see it above.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Man, that is a cold looking kitty. Looks wind blown as well and you wonder how they go in freezing weather with such small body masses.

          1. ambrit

            Alright Wukchumni, don’t try to box us in now.
            Come to think of it, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen ‘Schrodinger’s Futures’ on any market.

            1. polecat

              Could be he’s talking ’bout a dead catbox bounced. Quite a mess I imagine …

              It’s the place where physics and dirty finance meet headlong.

    1. ewmayer

      Lambert, is that a Maine Coon pal of your acquaintance? And that would be the summit of “Mount Catahdin”, yes?

  14. The Rev Kev

    “What to do with homeless college students? Let them sleep in the parking lot, new bill says”

    Would it be so expensive to build them Japanese-style capsule hotels then? Just put in the term “japan hotel capsules” into Google Images to see what I mean.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i drove almost 900 miles of backroads from here to matagorda texas and back last june…I saw miles of empty boxcars on sidings.
        used to be similar, but much larger, “storage sidings” out in west texas.
        some paint…maybe some weeds in a jar to brighten up the place…

  15. nippersdad

    Re: secret meetings with Abrams. I wonder if this was a missed opportunity for Maduro. If they could get Abrams on their territory, whether in Venezuela or in one of their embassies, and have the ICC arrest him for war crimes and deported to the Hague for trial his problems just might go away.

    Abrams literally knows where all of the neocon bodies are buried; they could mine him for a generation. The panic that would ensue from such an action would prolly give Maduro all of the leverage he might want, and getting such as Clinton and Bolton together to support his cause would be a rich reward, indeed.

    Or maybe I just want to see them in the dock so badly I am missing something.

    1. integer

      American Service-Members’ Protection Act

      The American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA, Title 2 of Pub.L. 107–206, H.R. 4775, 116 Stat. 820, enacted August 2, 2002) is a United States federal law that aims “to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party.” Introduced by U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and U.S. Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX) it was an amendment to the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States (H.R. 4775). The bill was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on August 2, 2002.

      ASPA authorizes the U.S. president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.” This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed the “Hague Invasion Act”, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.

      I’d like to see Abrams take an involuntary trip to the Hague too, but in light of the above, I doubt the ICC would be game to detain a U.S. official.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Directed by the great Doug Liman.

          “Live. Die. Repeat.” aka ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is one of the best modern Sci Fi films.

          Tom Cruise (IMO the greatest American Actor living besides Meryl Streep), Emily Blunt (WOWZERS), and Brendan Gleeson (star of In Bruges!!!!).

          American Made is seconded by me as well!

      1. nippersdad

        I’m sorry, I just saw this. IIRC, treaties are considered Constitutional law insofar as ratified treaties are considered adjuncts to the Constitution itself. Whether they like it or not, the law you cite wouldn’t mean diddly in the face of a judgment by the ICC were a case brought by a constituent member. We could ignore their judgments, and have done, but we couldn’t actually argue that such a law was legally defensible even in our own courts.

        To bring up something like that would only discredit our support for all of the other treaties that we are signatories to, and an invasion of Europe would put the final nail in the coffin of whatever international credibility we might still have. You can’t piss them all off at once, even Neocons would have to admit that.

        Not saying you are wrong, but Obama spent entirely too much time crushing any potential opposition at the ICC level behind the scenes (Spain and Germany) to think that he wasn’t worried about the furor that such a case might cause in world opinion. At some point that law is going to get tested, and I don’t think it will end up being much more than the bluster of someone who hasn’t got anything to back it up.

    2. David

      Well, the alleged crimes would have to be within the ICC’s jurisdiction and committed after the entry into force of the Rome Statute in 2002.

    3. wilroncanada

      Abrams is a US-ite. He cannot be prosecuted at The Hague or anywhere else except in the US. The US does not recognize the jurisdiction of the World Court, or any of its institutions for the exceptional (American citizens), except when they themselves use it to get rid of fleas–ie: any leaders of other countries they want to control or destroy.

      1. nippersdad

        The problem is not that he cannot be prosecuted because the US doesn’t recognize the authority of the world court, but that the world court has not had the temerity to prosecute Americans, yet. Not for lack of trying, though. Judges in Germany and Spain had both started the process of judging people in absentia, and a CIA operative was nearly snatched from Panama for that purpose. In all of these instances the Obama Administration short circuited the process either by applying political pressure to the judges or getting to the person that was to be rendered first.

        Further, while the US is not party to the World Court it is a signatory to most of the treaties that the Word Court has jurisdiction over. If you want to argue that they are illegitimate it brings into question the laws that we ratified; if they are legitimate then so is the court that administers them.

        For a proceeding to go forward one need only to have a case and a member of the ICC to push for it. People like Abrams are likely suspects for rendition because they are clearly war criminals (Abrams admitted guilt prior to being pardoned by George HW Bush) and there are no statutes of limitations for war crimes. Elie Weisel’s organization was still getting Nazis right up until his death.

        So as far as I know it is not a matter of cannot but will not, and that,hopefully, may soon change.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “The FBI’s Aborted Plan to Remove Trump From Office Was Delusional”

    noun: treason; noun: high treason; plural noun: high treasons

    the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government.
    “they were convicted of treason”
    synonyms: treachery, lese-majesty
    disloyalty, betrayal, faithlessness, perfidy, perfidiousness, duplicity, infidelity;
    sedition, subversion, mutiny, rebellion;
    high treason;
    rarePunic faith
    antonyms: allegiance, loyalty

    1. sleepy

      In the US, treason is defined differently:

      Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You know, you’re perfectly right. So by the same token, Trump is innocent of treason. Maybe there might be a better word-

        noun: sedition; plural noun: seditions

        conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.
        synonyms: incitement (to riot/rebellion), agitation, rabble-rousing, fomentation (of discontent), troublemaking, provocation, inflaming

    1. Ignacio

      Thank you Paul. Yes, worth a read!
      From the link:

      The basic insight of the Frankfurt school legal theorist – that there is no natural harmony between developed capitalism and legal, political and social order; that modern capitalism is a fundamentally disruptive force that constantly challenges the rule of law as such – could hardly be more germane today. As William Scheuermann puts it in Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy, and the Law (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought) (p. 2-5).:

      This would also be germane here: Who Is Really A Socialist?

  17. Wukchumni

    We’re crossing an odd Rubicon with this national emergency nonsense, but it’s par for the course, Fore!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we only have 10 or 12 years (though some say it’s already too late*), Globall Warming is a national and globle emergency.

      And the first step required is to confront that reality by declaring it to be so.

      *already too late would require something more drastic, perhaps – martial law (if the situation is worse than when Sec. Paulson got on one knee a decade or so ago). I hope this is not the case.

    2. John k

      Personally, I think we crossed a more important one with the relatively recent idea that pres can go to war without congress authorization, either before or after the fact.
      I don’t see anything wrong with spending mil funds to build a wall or fence along our own border… remember we now call it a department of defense, not war. d-fence, as they say at the ball games. Way better expenditure than bombs.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m not all that excited about living in a gated community, but it’s sadly typical that we’d build something that will never be used, as before too long, we’ll construct a kill zone that somewhat resembles something on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall, rendering it redundant.

        1. notabanker

          Waiting for the headline: Chinese investors pour billions into Wisconsin ladder manufacturer to meet explosive export demands.

  18. Chris Cosmos

    In reference to the Pettis piece about debt, the Maria Butina story in TNR, and the conditional dishonesty piece there is one thought that sticks in my head and that is the failure of most commentators to notice the extraordinary growth in corruption in the US and much of the world. To be clear, corruption is not a bad thing by itself–it can merely be about mutual favors and if it may be just the thing that keeps the wheels turning between the rigid world of laws and regulations. But if this “corruption” is motivated by alienation and greed it becomes predatory and that will tend to gradually spread to sectors of society who still live by moral values of some called back in the day the “yeoman class” of skilled workers who act responsibly not primarily because it profits them to do so but because it’s the right thing to do. As morals of all kinds are undermined by systemic corruption that most of us see erupting all around us these moral standards decline on every level. If everyone lies then, to keep up we must, to conform socially, also lie and lie upon lie breeds just the society we have–sick, collectively immoral to a cartoonish degree (Trump), brutality is administered by authorities by sick assholes whether in the military, police force, prisons, the “justice” system and so on. The treatment of by the FBI who spent maybe half-a-million dollars to arrest Roger Stone (someone I used to know and actually like) in pre-dawn “arrest” of an older man and his 73 year-old wife rousted out of bed at gunpoint as CNN is filming outside. Ultimately the trial and arrest was manufactured to break Stone because our “justice” system is used by the powerful not to convict suspects but to destroy lives of anyone who the State dislikes through forcing them to pay lawyers (don’t get me started on that) to stay out of jail. There may be nothing or very little there just as there’s nothing there to cause Butina to be jailed in solitary confinement (at least Stone, after the CNN/FBI show) got to go home–solitary confinement for any extended time is considered torture in more civilized countries and is routine in the USA.

    Also we are a society with massive legal and illegal drug addiction problems, obsession with entertainment and escapist/addictive tendencies, falling life-expectancy, and a kind of cultural madness that for some of us old dudes just makes us scratch our heads. The sad part, is that we have technology to create any kind of world we want debt notwithstanding as the Germans and other European countries are trying to do and can do because the level of their corruption is much lower–Germany can make goals and come close to achieving them–the USA can not only not make goals but can’t achieve them even if we made them. Compare this state of the country to the USA that created the atomic bomb, went to the Moon, built (for better or worse) the interstate highway system, built the internet and so on and so on.

    The reason we can’t do anything positive at this point in our history is because the country, as a system, is systemically corrupt and plagued with perverse incentives almost everywhere. The fact things function as well as they do in our daily lives is a miracle of human ingenuity that applied in a system with non-perverse incentives would explode in creativity in solving real problems other than root out Russian spies or whatever. The USA is still filled with creative energy but it will go out unless nurtured somehow but the current System must be torn down.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Starting with the rise of neo-liberalism in the mid-70s. Literally everything can be for sale, including state functions (“Because markets”). Not everything is is for sale, but the point is that you can never tell, and so it makes sense to assume corruption going in…

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Here Here!

      Dont u worry tho, us Milennials are on the case!

      In my short 34 years, my parents have been in and out of substantial credit card debt and default, my dad got fired cuz VHS tapes went away, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, Global Financial Collapse, Latin Degree from LSU, deployed to Afghanistan in US Army, Homeless in Denver, Rehab.

      Lotta trauma going on. The way i see it, most folks are ready for a change. We need to start in our own backyards-Louisiana for me. Start radicalizing high schools and colleges and service industry sectors against management and the bureaucracy.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      system selects for psychopathy.
      I’ve long considered 1971-75 the high point of usa civilisation(mostly due to music)
      and have felt like i was among sleepwalking dead things for most of my conscious life.
      I suspect that the masters got word around then that the jig was up, and that the choice was change the operating system(sustainability, cooperation, etc) or put the pedal to the metal and damn the torpedoes(current OS of harvest, greed is good, dog eat dog, etc).
      they seem to have chosen the latter, and the harvest is almost complete.
      “our betters” are like the aliens in Independence Day…interstellar locust civilisation, roaming around consuming everything.
      it’s just now valentines day(happy massacre!),it’s 85 degrees and i’ve got some flowers and trees that are 2 weeks early…and some that are more than a month early.
      we had a year’s worth of rain in sept-oct last year.
      and 2 years in a row of actual locusts.
      disturbance in the force, and all….
      and I keep coming back to that apparent decision in the early 70’s…”f&&ck it, lets rape the planet!”…
      what was an inchoate vibe in my youth is now filled in with multiple…unnecessary… disasters, that no one really understands, yet, in any kind of comprehensive way.(PeakTopsoil! fgs..)

      1. norm de plume

        What I fail to understand is how ‘the masters’ failed to understand a truth so banal it needs no introduction: ‘don’t eat the seed corn’ !

        Whose wealth can be stolen when there is no wealth to steal?

        I guess it comes back to the short termist, Greshamite greed of the people who own us, best summed up by the great Chuck Prince: ‘“When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing’

        1. Massinissa

          I think the problem is, they don’t really know what their seed corn *is* at this point. The economy is so opaque I don’t think most of them fully understand where their money actually comes from or how the global economy actually works outside the niches they extract rents from

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > that apparent decision in the early 70’s…”f&&ck it, lets rape the planet!”

        I once collected charts that showed inflection points in the mid-70s; there were a lot, but the big one was real wages; that’s when they flattened. Our health care costs as a percent of GDP also began to diverge from world trends at that time (upward).

        The advent of neoliberalism, and I don’t recall an election fought on that. Well before Reagan, too; at some point during the Nixon and Ford presidencies.

        I wish somebody like Thomas Frank would write this history and name some names.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yup. see Duncan’s “road to the Olduvai Gorge”.
          it was the zenith of energy usage per capita, as well.
          and Illargi, recently, made a big deal about the end of “Real Growth” around that time…it’s been financial/paper since.
          we’re submerged in a soup of ahistorical ignorance…no narrative to frame the world with(or, rather, no narrative that convincingly gels with observed reality).
          we hafta talk about it in allegory(“wherefrom words turn back, together with the mind, not having attained…”):
          wizard of oz, the matrix, the adventures of alice…hell, did you know that some russian dude wrote a companion to lord of the rings from the POV of Mordor…characterising elves and such as stalinist totalitarians, and orcs and such as the quintessence of randian ambition?
          (last i looked, it’s not in print(in english), due to the tolkien estate blocking it)

    3. The Rev Kev

      Good comment. Hope that it does not get as bad as the old Ottoman empire. There, appointed officials were expected to make six times their official salaries via scams and bribes with part of that unofficial salary used to bribe the official above him. The old Roman empire too ended up choking on its own corruption and not being able to meet new challenges. It will eventually come down to finding another Solon the reformer or collapse in place.

  19. ambrit

    Am I alone in thinking that JPMorgan opening a cryptocurrency desk is a big sign that a top has been reached?
    “Ready for the break Mr. DeMille.”

      1. ambrit

        Your comment made me think of that good old fashioned “Honey Badger Theme Music for Strippers,” “Heir on a G-string.” All that’s needed is some serious Baching and you’ve got this market cornered.

  20. allan

    American Airlines: 700 Phoenix flight attendants will need to move [USA Today]

    American Airlines says it will need to move more than 700 Phoenix-based flight attendants to other hub airports now that it has integrated the systems used to manage flight-attendant scheduling after the airline’s merger with US Airways. The airlines merged in 2013, but the flight-attendant management systems did not. …

    Wednesday morning, the airline notified Phoenix-based flight attendants to watch vacancies at other bases and consider opportunities to transfer. The airline hopes to naturally reduce the number of Phoenix staff over the next few years through attrition and transfers. …

    Natural attrition and transfers. And if the EEOC comes knocking: TINA. The IT system made us do it.

    1. tegnost

      etymology of attrition…

      early 15c., “a breaking;” 1540s, “abrasion, scraping, the rubbing of one thing against another,” from Latin attritionem (nominative attritio), literally “a rubbing against,” noun of action from past-participle stem of atterere “to wear, rub away,” figuratively “to destroy, waste,” from assimilated form of ad “to” (see ad-) + terere “to rub” (from PIE root *tere- (1) “to rub, turn”).

      The earliest sense in English is from Scholastic theology (late 14c.), “sorrow for sin merely out of fear of punishment or a sense of shame,” an imperfect condition, less than contrition or repentance. The sense of “wearing down of military strength” is from World War I (1914). Figurative use by 1930.

  21. Jason Boxman

    It’s kind of scary to think that because the NYMag points out that our top law enforcement offers are too stupid to know how the 25th amendment works, we’re in the clear on an open discussion of removing a democratically elected president:

    But such fears are unfounded. McCabe’s aborted plot to oust Trump from office was always too delusional to be a threat to democracy.

    Such fears seem well grounded to me, at least.

    1. pjay

      Yes. The “delusion” was that the 25th Amendment gambit would work, *not* that the Russian collusion case was bulls**t or that they were committing treason (see Rev Kev above)!

  22. Summer

    “The declaration will enable Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.”

    I know it’s early in the game, but this looks like Drug War funds being raided (excuse me, “tapped”). And aren’t there nuances about this that could have the Democrats defending the Drug War?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ll betcha 10 bucks that it ends up being Pablo that actually builds the damned thing.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The mammoth task of making all buildings more energy efficient — yes, all, just like the Green New Deal says — hasn’t cowed the authorities in Europe. The German Energy Agency calculates that to make the country’s building stock almost carbon-neutral by 2050 about 1.4 percent of buildings a year will need to be refurbished; the current rate is about 1 percent, so the goal looks ambitious, but not unattainable.

    Germany’s doing it already.

    And the target is 2050, at the current rate of 1% a year (which would imply 100 years, with a constant rate…meaning it started in 1950).

    But that is doubting (starting in 1950). The implication is likely an accelerated rate, not a constant rate. Accelerated because…? Gaining experience and expert as they go along?

    “The goal looks ambitious” – I assume that is referring to the German goal of 2050.

    For the US (which is bigger than Germany, more buildings to upgrade, raising question if the 1% rate is applicable, or the 1% should be translated to number of builidings, in which case, it’s much less than 1% for the US), the goal to do the same in 10 or 12 years would be more than ambitious…more than just over-ambitious, even.

    1. Uuuu123

      Germany doesn’t have as cheap energy as the US, and seems to make better tech/industry policy. We do stuff like corn ethanol, and subsidize auto use…
      This can (has to, but how?) change.

  24. Pelham

    “The mammoth task of making all buildings more energy efficient — yes, all, just like the Green New Deal says — hasn’t cowed the authorities in Europe. The German Energy Agency calculates that to make the country’s building stock almost carbon-neutral by 2050 about 1.4 percent of buildings a year will need to be refurbished …”

    That’s 20 years too late, isn’t it? I thought the UN climate report said we had only until 2030 to get everything done. Even so, this mid-century year keeps cropping up.

    Conservation is fine, but from what I’ve been reading, it appears we’ve run out of time for anything but a global program of mass building of nuclear power plants, sweeping away all the regulatory obstructions. Wind and solar are a costly and even tragic distraction, and conservation is apparently too slow.

    Granted, the accelerated construction of nuclear plants may or even probably will lead to a number of catastrophic meltdowns. But we’ve fiddled around so long with unenforceable photo-op climate agreements and other baby steps that we’ve run out of other options. By virtually excluding nuclear, the Green New Deal may end up creating the biggest distraction yet.

    Or not. Any thoughts on this?

    1. Wukchumni

      We’ve potentially ruined this good Earth for some time to come through rather conventional means, but if we were to mess it up for time immemorial through nuclear, that’d be better?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Four forces – gravity, electro-mag, weak, strong.

        The fifth force – mental.

        We could try, letting the will triumph, to impose consumption quotas, with a declaration of global emergency.

        Is that on the table for discussion? If the situation is critical enough (everyday, it gets worse)…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          if i put on my black robe and go stand in the dark and laugh maniacally in my best darth cheney impression…it would seem that the easiest way to curtail this global catastrophe is to reduce the number of humans currently alive on the planet.
          what would that look like?
          everything from antivaxx social movements to hormones in the water supply to limit births(last week’s news), to a proliferation of small arms, coupled with widespread despair and lack of basic necessities…maybe antibiotic resistance from CAFO could contribute, too.
          if all else fails, there’s always a great big war with sufficient nukes to EMP enough sacrifice zones to ensure an efficient follow on reduction.
          where there’s a will…

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the easiest way to curtail this global catastrophe is to reduce the number of humans currently alive on the planet.

            Well, life expectancy is dropping and the birth rate is falling (at least in the United States). So everything’s going according to plan!

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              finally getting to Framing Crash: new bretton woods piece.(I overdid it with the gardening, yesterday, and will pay the price, today)
              part IV talks about the response to the 08 crises:”…One could hardly ask for a more direct expression of Neumann’s basic diagnosis: the survival of oligopolistic capitalism requires adhocracy. When the going gets rough, as it inevitably does, order goes out the window.”

              bubbling up from the unconscious at this is Carl Schmitt’s “State of Exception”.
              That’s where the “leadership” lives, it turns out.
              The question remains, however, whether the Davos Set is smoking it’s own stash.
              with the almost complete colonisation of the mind…TINA…where we can’t really delineate an alternative(as in that enumeration, of sorts, of the varieties of things called “socialism”)…i reckon it’s more necessary than ever to do that work, in spite of the yelling and often actual death threats that ensue from the “Baronial model of economic governance”.
              reading this stuff, another thing bubbles up—the prohibition, written into the unwritten rules, of thinking of Political Economy(a la Polyani), as opposed to separating politics and economy, as is currently the essence of TINA.
              econ considerations are removed from democratic influence, or even awareness…and placed firmly in the hands of an unaccountable priesthood of Very Smart Men(tm).
              i figger this is why folks like bernie and AOC scare the hell out of them.
              in the same way that the 08 crises were unleashed unwittingly by some minor functionary at Bear Stearns leaving a window open, and letting the Holy of Holies loose in the world(that there’s no there, there…no legitimacy, it all relies on belief(sola fide!!))….the Masters are terrified that the secret will get out….in a more comprehensible form…
              it’s all really too much to digest with what all I’ve got going on…so i’m stuck with contemplating this in a more or less trancelike meditative manner as i water the seedlings and set up tomato fences and wait around while the chemo is ongoing.
              I’m certainly glad that all y’all– folks with more time and erudition than I– are on the case.

  25. Unna

    Trudeau’s in big trouble. I won’t recount the facts. See the cited article in Links and anything in the Canadian Press. But the most interesting thing I came across was the other day in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s so called Rag of Record, which was about Trudeau’s management practices – or rather, the substantive absence of any. Read below, but it really seems that Trudeau really is nothing more than a woof haired spokesperson front man for whatever power constellation stands behind and profits from his regime and nothing more. See this:

    “This is, after all, a Prime Minister who reportedly brushed off repeated requests from his own foreign affairs minister for a private meeting during the entire 14 months Stéphane Dion served in the job. And one who, when the two men did find themselves stuck on a plane together, balked at Mr. Dion’s attempt to engage him in a serious discussion on Canada’s policy toward Russia, according to a book on Canadian foreign policy by former Dion aide Jocelyn Coulon.

    “This is also a Prime Minister who, in 2017, told then-ethics commissioner Mary Dawson that he viewed his role as “ceremonial” in testimony he provided during an investigation into his 2015 Christmas vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island.”

    To read the article you may have to click through with “Reader View open in New Tab” as in the Pale Moon Browser.

    So, Boy Wonder Trudeau may not be a merely dysfunctionally “light touch” manager, but actually a no touch manager with no ideas, policy, or anything else of his own. I’m waiting to see how this develops, but if true, I, as they say, have no words.

    1. wilroncanada

      AAAaah! You’ve caught on. His election was revenge against Stephen Harper. Other than that, he always was pretty much a nonentity, riding on his much more substantial father’s reputation.

      1. Unna

        Yes. I realized Trudeau was a nonentity. And I certainly didn’t vote for him. But, wow, this guy is pure nonentity. The PM as spokesperson cum socks and hair and nothing more. Something I would never have imagined possible. Trudeau as PM as fraud on the people of Canada in the very act of pretending to occupy the position.

        Last election there was a lot of strategic voting to get Harper out. Same thing may happen this time around only in reverse. Maybe the Liberals will go back to third place and stay there for awhile.

    2. adrena

      I’m thoroughly disappointed with Trudeau. He supports Freeland’s “Russia, Russia, Russia is evil” mantra and is in the bag of Israel.

      But, I’ll vote for him ’cause the alternative is worse.

      What a mess!

  26. Unna

    May and Mould. As I’m sure Theresa does her own canning, she ought to consider using smaller jars. Theresa has likely fallen into the trap of misleading herself and others by taking the short cut of using larger jars than she ought to have simply because she’s lazy and tried to get away with using half the number of large jars rather than twice the number of smaller ones. Which would, of course, require twice the work. Or, maybe, she’s simply lacking in foresight about the future, which in this case concerns her consumption of jam. Whatever.

  27. Micky9finger

    Heading: ” What AreThe actual Costs Of Execessive Debt”? First…
    “…debt does not generate real wealth real wealth creation.”
    “it does generate economic activity and the illusion of wealth creation. ”
    These stztemenys are the first real warning the author is going off the MMT tracks.
    Then he throws gasoline on the fire.

    “…there are limits to a country’s debt capacity, ” only in the sense of the nations natural resourses.

    “…once the economy has reached those limits ” What limits: no unemployment, all the nations natural resources are used to keep all manufacturing capacity occupied.??

  28. Tim

    “Navy Admiral on ship collisions: Those were tragedies, but what about the other 280 ships that didn’t collide?”

    The ocean is a pretty big place, so that’s a pretty low bar…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Probably a ‘half of the ocean is full’ guy, that admiral, when in fact, half of the ocean is empty.

      1. Massinissa

        Well, its going to get much more full by the end of the century thanks to sea level rise!

        Oh wait, you mean its empty of boats. Well, its going to get emptier, because there can’t be boats without ports, and we won’t have any of the ones we have now by the end of the century

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