Links 2/2/19

The Most Magical ‘Little Free Library’ Is Built Right Into a Tree Stump Atlas Obscura (martha r)

13 vintage photos of major US snowstorms that will make you want to hibernate Business Insider (Kevin W). Of course, Buffalo, New York gets way worse every winter.

Polar vortex death toll rises to 21 as US cold snap continues BBC

Big storm sets sights on California, evacuations ordered Associated Press (David L)

Right To Repair Advocates Are Hosting YouTube Town Halls To Show You How To Get Involved In the Movement Motherboard

New Net Neutrality Bill Headed To Congress The Verge

Canada’s Telco Bell Tried To Have VPNs Banned During NAFTA Negotiations TechDirt

From autism risks to mercury poisoning, here are 10 lies anti-vaxxers are spreading about the measles vaccine in the Pacific Northwest Business Insider. Surprised it doesn’t contain what I think is the strongest argument for the measles vaccination: babies can’t be vaccinated (too young) and they can die of measles. So you are getting your kid vaccinated to save babies.

New US Experiments Aim To Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos NPR

Brexit

Brexit & The Spayed Parliament Jonathan Pie, YouTube (Kevin W). Warning: Pie is potty-mouthed!

EU gives airlines deadline for no-deal Brexit Financial Times

Brexit: UK plans new product safety mark for ‘no deal’ scenario BBC

Officials warn of putrefying piles of rubbish after no-deal Brexit Guardian

Factcheck: Are there really only 100 lorries crossing the border every day? The Journal (PlutoniumKun)

Civilians in Police Crosshairs as France Adopts Totalitarian Tactics to Squash Yellow MintPress

Venezuela

Venezuela: No to Intervention, No to Maduro Foreign Policy in Focus. Lotta straw-manning (we’ve seen some here) that opposing intervention = supporting Maduro. Please show me the GoFundMe pages for Maduro by the people writing against US intervention.

Maduro’s Bid to Fly Gold Out of Venezuela Is Blocked Bloomberg

Venezuela – Coup Propaganda Claims Gang Violence Is Coup Supporting Protest Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

ISIS could reclaim territory in months without military pressure, warns Pentagon in draft report NBC. Resilc: “What bullshit.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Newsguard Turns to EU to Push Controversial Ratings System on Tech Companies, Smears MintPress as “Secretly Supported” by Russia MintPress. Kevin W: “That Newsguard plug-in is also apparently spyware by design.”

Apple Is Fighting a Good Fight Against Facebook and Google Medium (martha r)

Major DNA Testing Company Sharing Genetic Data With the FBI Bloomberg (Kevin W). Original story: One Of The Biggest At-Home DNA Testing Companies Is Working With The FBI BuzzFeed. Brian C: “Anyone surprised?”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why America can’t win wars Asia Times

If America Stopped Destroying The World, The Bad Guys Might Win Caitlin Johnstone

Let’s Start At The Beginning Medium. Martha r: “On DSA organizing/planning, by a DSA member.”

U.S. applies visa sanctions on Ghana JoyOnline (resilc). HHm.

Trump Transition

Foxconn Says It Will Move Forward With Wisconsin Plant After Conversation with Trump Wall Street Journal

Mueller Accuses Roger Stone of Lying and Bullying—but Not Collusion Nation (UserFriendly)

Trump Should Call Congress’s Bluff on Our Endless Wars American Conservative (resilc)

Khanna’s Case for Restraint and Peace American Conservative (resilc)

Elizabeth Warren wasn’t the first candidate to propose a wealth tax. Trump was. Washington Post (resilc)

Feds secretly ship plutonium to Nevada to meet South Carolina court order ars technica (Chuck L). Some Nevada readers have e-mailed expressing their outrage.

Ralph Northam in “clearly racist” photo with blackface, KKK robe; vows to serve out term Virginian Pilot (martha r). Has the photo.

Fake News

Snopes quits fact-checking partnership with Facebook CNBC

Tech giants are the new gatekeepers  Axioss (martha r). They act like this is news?

Facebook Censors School Students’ Right to Strike about Climate Change school strike 4 climate action. Martha r:

From the website of the Australia ”school strike 4 climate action’’ organization, which has been very active. They say here that last november 15,000 students struck after being ordered not to by the Prime Minister. Facebook has not explained why they have deleted all the students’ posts about the major global strike action planned for March 15.

Note: FB claimed it was a mistake and has now restored the info.

1MDB Scandal Could Hit Pay for Goldman Execs, Including Lloyd Blankfein Wall Street Journal

United Natural Foods sues Goldman Sachs over its help in Supervalu deal Minneapolis Star Tribune (William B)

Apple Removes Siri Team Lead As Part of AI Strategy Shift AppleInsider

Treasury Bulletin…Nobody Buys US Treasury’s But “Other Investors(?)” & Mutual Funds Economica (jpr)

America Is Producing the Wrong Kind of Oil Bloomberg (Kevin W)

A chemistry is performed London Review of Books. On Bad Blood.

Guillotine Watch

‘We’re all passengers in a billionaire hijacking’ says the critic who has the world’s richest people buzzing Business Insider (David L)

Howard Schultz May Be Even More Disingenuous Than Trump New York Magazine (resilc)

Class Warfare

‘Corporate arts patrons deserve praise not blame’ Thread Reader (martha r). Critique of Financial Times op-ed. Doesn’t mention the appalling development that institutions that used to have fee or very low entry charges are now too expensive for low income people to visit, and it’s a special event even for middle class families.

Americans Are Lining Up To Work For Amazon For $15 an Hour Quartz. :-(.

Good Samaritans who moved more than 100 people from tents to a hotel are ‘just regular people trying to help’ Chicago Tribune (martha r). Notice all but one hotel refused when they were initially seeking 20 rooms.

Football and the NFL Are Facing White Flight Atlantic (resilc)

Antidote du jour (diptherio):

And a bonus video (Wat). Seen near Sydney, natch:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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253 comments

  1. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why America can’t win wars

    From the article:

    Disorder has taken over the Middle East and Africa, significant portions of Asia and Latin America and is creeping into Europe. Soon it may be in North America.

    Yes and the United States is responsible for a lot of this disorder. The nation-state is still relevant and powerful except where it has been smashed or undermined. Also, the idea of an American foreign legion sounds like something from the late Roman Empire when the legions were staffed by foreign mercenaries. A sure sign of decadence.

    If we don’t want our own people dying in wars then we shouldn’t be recruiting foreign people to die for us either. This proposal sounds like the arguments for bringing in foreign workers. They will do the jobs Americans won’t do like fighting our wars! I am sure we can get Ezra Klein to write that it is a boon for the economy to employ foreign mercenaries. Plus, the American foreign legion will be diverse and multicultural. The woke way of warfare!

    Reply
    1. Donald

      Sean McFate, the “ thinker” hero of that article, sounds like a lunatic. He thinks we should topple governments we don’t like by using propaganda. Someone connect this genius with the CIA—I’m sure no one there ever thought of doing such a thing.

      Reply
      1. Darthbobber

        Look at his affiliations and credentials in the article. Pretty sure he’s been “connected” (or “tied up”, or possibly even “made”) from the beginning.

        Reply
      2. jsn

        But a perfect McHero for our Neoliberal times! The three McFates:

        McNona who spun the threads of life from nylon fiber;

        McDecima who knitted the nylon threads into the awful Christmas sweater of Neoliberal existence;

        McMorta who randomly denies access to detergent and the washing machine before the non-biodegradable fibers ship by container across the Saccharin Sea to McHell where they burn forever in the turbines of McSaturn’s private jet.

        A half hearted apology for having fun with someone’s name, but he asked for it.

        Reply
        1. RMO

          A little bio from the article itself:

          “he is a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

          He has also worked at the Rand Corporation, Atlantic Council, Bipartisan Policy Center and New America Foundation.

          He is a former US Army officer and a former private security contractor with experience dealing with African warlords, raising small armies, working with armed groups in the Sahara, transacting arms deals in Eastern Europe”

          So I’m not surprised he seems about as sane as a combination of General Ripper and Colonel Flagg.

          Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      McFate seems to think that a unified “west” can still be a thing. There are a lot of blind spots and some inversion of cause and effect scattered throughout. There were always tensions between the interests of our rulers and those of the western European countries. And as quasilegitimized American hegemony moved more and more in the direction of an outright racket, those have become more obvious. It is the existence of very real fractures, and not masterful Russian propaganda that creates the “disorder”. (Internal collapse of the old order).

      The culprit in a good many of the military failures he rattles off is the use of military power as a substitute for a sane political strategy in the first place. Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, most of the Afghanistan debacle are wars there was no reason to fight in the first place.

      Even in Korea, had we stopped at the preexisting border rather than attempting to forcibly unify Korea militarily ourselves, that would have been an unambiguous victory.

      That it is our leaders’ insistence on adopting rule or ruin methodology across the entire globe, and our commitment to maintaining the quite literally unmaintainable that is at the root of much of the disorder evades McFate. Unsurprisingly, as he writes from the perspective and in service of that leadership.

      Reply
      1. Chris Cosmos

        To my ears this all sounds like a turf war between the Pentagon and the CIA and their cousins in other three letter agencies. I think the consensus is moving towards the CIA position which is to fight covert wars through propaganda, thuggery, bribery, and so on. The only problem with that is that the Pentagon and their allies in industry require war as a way to use up ammunition and materiel–which is most of the reason recent wars have been fought. Someone gets the trillions “we” spend on war and preparation for war. The obvious compromise is to blow shit up just to blow it up on the one hand and the other use covert means to actually accomplish the long-term political goal of complete domination of every living thing by Washington.

        Reply
    3. Summer

      He’s the kind of lunatic right at home in the ciirrent “rules based order.”
      As he strategically plans for the next war.

      Note at the very end that he does recognize this about propaganda and it is a main reason the people of this country sleep through so much of this insanity:

      “It is time to hit back – and not by using clunky Cold War-era techniques like pamphlet drops. McFate suggests using US soft power as a weapon: Covert broadcasts to oppressive regimes of Baywatch and Idol may be more effective than earnest bulletins by Radio Free Europe.

      He also suggests ridicule be leveraged to delegitimize opponents: Russia’s president, he says, is particularly ripe for this given his macho stunts, as is North Korea’s odd-looking leader.”

      Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Arenas in Indianapolis, Buffalo, Miami and elsewhere are experimenting with a phone app created by a company called WaitTime, which allows fans to use their phones to check crowd volume at restrooms before leaving their seats.

      ‘Artifecal Intelligence’

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          Let’s go ‘hole hog’ and do an app for glory holes.
          I’ll bet the Functionaries of Arlington, the “Zipper Beneath the Beltway” already have one, being specialists in “back doors” and other esoterica.

          Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Neither of those statistics is satisfory. We need to get Fred Taylor over to speed up the lines, the women’s line especially./s

      Reply
  2. integer

    I don’t comment at Moon of Alabama very often, however I did leave one below the article in today’s links, which was as follows:

    I expect the reason that the aforementioned incident of gang violence is getting so much coverage is because it was organized by team Guaidó, as it seems a little too convenient that the corporate media and people like Bolton can now reference it as an example of what they claim to be the repressive nature of the Maduro government towards the poor. It wouldn’t take much to pay off one of the gangs to create an incident like this in order to provoke a police crackdown, and none the gangs would have any loyalty to the Maduro government, given that gangs consider the police to be the enemy and the police work for the government.

    After I posted the above comment, I watched Abby Martin Meets the Venezuelan Opposition – The Empire Files, and it strengthened my conviction that the above interpretation is correct. Filmed in mid-2017, it shows the reality of the situation on the ground at that time, and things have clearly deteriorated since then. I highly recommend watching it – it details some of the tactics the opposition-supporting provocateurs are using, including burning down food storage warehouses, using semi-trailers to block highways, and provoking police until they respond, and then using footage of the police response as evidence of the repressive nature of the the Maduro government. The chaos unleashed by these tactics, as well as the effects of the crippling sanctions being applied by the U.S., has caused many peaceful citizens to attribute the dysfunction to Maduro.

    Reply
    1. timbers

      Do you think regime changing Venezuela will generate a flood of immigrants into the U.S.?

      If so, is the point lost by Trump? He better hurry and build that wall, or Nuke the narrowest stripe of land linking South America to North America, because if he regime changes Venezuela he could Merkelized himself with a flood of immigrants and get toppled from power like our puppet leaders in Europe have been from all the immigrants they absorbed from
      our wars and regime changes in the ME.

      On the one hand I agree with Glenn Greenwald – it’s a sick sort of progress that U.S. officials openly admit this regime change is about seizing oil reserves for U.S. companies.

      Plus, Trump is making some twisted sense now – wanting to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and Syria so they be redeployed to the Americas. More oil and plus this time, a good chance for the bonus of cheap immigrant labor flooding the U.S. What’s not to love if your part of ruling class?

      It is not fun doing daily life knowing what’s going on, and see no one interested in what’s going on, no strong opposition to our latest invasion of aggression and war making. It’s like we’ve all been HR’d – “keep it light” don’t talk about HR issues at work like “why isn’t HR pushing for Medicare for all”…how is NOT an HR issue?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I just had a brilliant idea and I think that it could work. Trump could bring back all the troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan. He could then use these troops to occupy every country between the US border all the way down to the Panama Canal. He would not have to worry about building a wall then as he would have the Canal itself as a great big beautiful barrier to cut off the US from South America itself. It is the sort of idea that might even appeal to his way of thinking. I call that genious level thinking that.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Perhaps i’ve lived a sheltered life on the left coast, but i’ve never met a Venezuelan-American immigrant, not that i’ve been looking for any.

          Reply
            1. sd

              Those I know are from the professional class (i.e., doctors, engineers, etc) Once here, they are right wing Republicans.

              Reply
          1. bronco

            I agree they are in florida . I sold her and her husband gold and silver coins for years on ebay. She loved anything with Simon Bolivar on it especially. Any junk silver from south america she took with no questions asked as soon as I got it.

            Reply
        2. jCandlish

          every country between the US border all the way down

          It could be a rail infrastructure project.

          Think Belt & Road.

          Reply
        3. Cal2

          Imagine what Mexico and Central America, aren’t they really one polity?, would be like had we done that in 1900 with General Pershing. The Panama Canal would be our southern border.

          Trump should withdraw all troops from the Middle East and use enough of them to patrol the open border areas where people walk over from Mexico carrying backpacks full of drugs and ferrying unaccompanied minors from points south.

          Enforcing the border would pay for itself in cost savings of welfare, police, prisons and the higher taxes paid by Americans who would do the jobs, were they to pay more, which ‘migrants’ do at lower pay rates.

          Our soldiers get paid whether they are in the Middle East or on the border. The logistical costs are higher in the Middle East, in addition to the costs of combat.

          All the problems of Central America would probably be resolved were they not allowed to export their surplus population and troublemakers to the U.S. via real border enforcement. Oh, and us not causing coups for financial gain of U.S. businesses.

          Reply
          1. Anon

            The above comment is false and immoral.

            General Pershing never would have invaded Mexico and beyond. In fact, he did NOT “cut short” an Islamic uprising by killing 11 Muslims in the Philipines. And Mexico and Central America are not the same polity. Like the US and Canada they are sovereign nations. If the US would recognize these distinctions we wouldn’t be in Middle East.

            “Our soldiers” are rapidly becoming mercenaries, not a defending force.

            As for those Central American “surplus” populations they are not the physical menace you claim; American white males with guns are!

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              The last time I looked, the Army had a lot of young males of every conceivable colour carrying guns and wearing uniforms.
              The “White Males” you should be afraid of are the ones wearing three piece suits and having the young people in uniforms do the killing for them. Indeed, I am remiss. Today we are approaching the ‘Shining Plantation on a Hill’ in that the whip hands are becoming multi-everything.

              Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I said in a post last week that the migrant issue (which is more likely to become a problem if/when we turn our attentions to Nicaragua, which is also on Bolton’s list) is a self-licking ice cream cone. Europe shows that marked increases in immigration move voters to the right and fuel the rise of radical right wing parties. Why would Bolton see that as a negative?

        Reply
        1. Chris Cosmos

          Exactly! To understands the Machiavellian world we live in we need to look at the motivation of those involved in power.

          Reply
        2. clarky90

          According to MSM, this is not happening. “We shall not speak of this. Please, for the sake of good manners and decorum, let us talk of other “news”.

          Yellow Vest protest in Paris: Act XII

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haQ9ws8hNeQ

          “#YellowVest protesters call for a new demonstration in Paris on Saturday, February 2, the twelfth in a row since the movement has emerged in November 2018, after French President Emmanuel Macron announced hikes in fuel taxes to reportedly encourage a transition towards greener energy. Despite the French government suspending the tax hikes and announcing increases to the minimum wage, protests have continued. Over 2,000 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began and at least 10 have died, the vast majority of the deaths being due to collisions between protesters and vehicles.”

          Reply
        3. David(1)

          Why would Bolton see that as a negative?

          Because the “radical right wing” likes Bolton as much as the “radical left wing”.

          One thing may confidently be said of the rhetoric and actions of Bolton and Pompeo: This is not what brought out the new populists who made Donald Trump president, the people who still share his desire to “stop the endless wars.” – Pat Buchanan

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Your point makes no sense. The radical right wing feeds off hysteria over migration. More or the abilty to portray as a reasonable belief that there will be more strengthens how they do in elections. You are trying to dispute my argument when actually supporting it.

            Morevover, I merely said in the original post that the fact that more migration attempts was likely a net plus for the Republicans would make Bolton indifferent to that risk. Yes, the Dems may get in power and let more immigrants in, but an uptick of migrants from the South risks a backlash which would serve Team R just fine.

            Reply
        4. Unna

          Maybe it would cause the rise of a different right wing party that hadn’t caused this particular migrant problem, i.e., not the Trump right wing party but a new or different one, likely ideologically serious and much worse, that would oppose Trump. And this because most of the “left” wing parties are all in with endless humanitarian intervention paid for by the usual corporate suspects or have been intimidated into it as a by product of the non stop anti Russia hysteria.

          As long as the Deplorables stay corralled in Trump world, life remains safe for the establishment.

          Reply
      3. Jessica

        God help the people of Venezuela. America certainly won’t.
        Very difficult to get past the Darien Gap except by sea (or air).

        Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      I don’t know what Abby says on her video but I know how the CIA works and they use those classic techniques that usually work pretty well. We have to remember that the Agency has almost unlimited funds to use in their nasty little operations which are nasty almost just to be nasty. I believe that much of the 21 TRILLION dollars “missing” from the Pentagon has gone to the CIA and why not? Its skullduggery is immune from oversight since most of it is done by contractors, stolen funds from the Pentagon (this has been gong on since the 50s) and their close association with organized crime rackets.

      Reply
      1. Baby Gerald

        To place the corporate media’s latest coup into context, check out this story by Joel Whitney on TruthDig: The CIA’s Masterful Use of Fake News.

        Whitney starts off with the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran then expands to cover the CIA-led coups in Guatemala (1950), in Chile (1973), and Indonesia (1958 and 1965) by showing explicit examples of how so-called respected western media outlets and writers sponsored by the Agency were accomplices in all of these.

        It’s an enlightening read, but peruse the comments section at your own peril- the ‘Isn’t this what RT is doing now?’ troll factor is high.

        Reply
  3. QuarterBack

    Re the FamilyTreeDNA story, this quote left me briefly without words:

    Some in the field have begun arguing that a universal, government-controlled database may be better for privacy than allowing law enforcement to gain access to consumer information.

    It’s as if Tyranny morphed into a Möbius Strip.

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      Boy, you have to be pretty dumb to not have thought this through.

      I would posit a general principle here: the less databases one is in, the better their quality of life.

      Not to mention that the 23 and Me style DNA tests are complete horsecrap. I really wish people I know and respect would stop pushing them. It’s basically alchemy at this point.

      https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/dna-ancestry-test-siblings-different-results-genetics-science/

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A friend who was given up for adoption 60 years ago was reunited with her siblings that were also given up for adoption, thanks to a commercial DNA test such as 23 and Me.

        It brought a lot of closure to unanswered questions in her life, was it all a chimera ruse?

        Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Her siblings all came from the same mother encompassing 3 different fathers, and everything checked out in terms of timing, and place of adoption, etc.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              This says that the DNA was NOT sufficient in and of itself to establish a match and had to be corroborated with other info.

              And “checked out” does not rule out that other men might also have “checked out”.

              Reply
          2. Alex

            The article talks about determining one’s ancestry which understandably depends a lot on the reference samples and models used to calculate the relative distance, not to talk about the fact that nowhere there were very few neat and homogeneous populations to begin with.

            Identifying close relatives is much easier and has basically become a commodity.

            Reply
            1. rtah100

              My father was an enthusiastic sperm donor for an early UK fertility clinic (1950’s onward). Just another wry family anecdote but then in the past year one new apple from the tree has shown up thanks to distant cousins (lineally and geographically) putting their ancestry obsession online with our shared DNA :-( and in the last week another one has shown up in the USA, who got their kits for Christmas!

              PS the first new scion of the house of rtah100 had previous been accepted into another family on the basis of traditional profiling and now has had to retract their new siblinghood because the recent DNA tests show they are strangers. Be careful what you wish for….

              Reply
          3. Roger Bigod

            The tests are very reliable in the sense of returning accurate SNPs. They use DNA microarray chips with thousands of tiny spots of DNA chemically attached to the surface. They’re made by a small number of companies with good quality control. The retailers who are really in the business of reselling the DNA have a strong incentive to maintain accuracy.

            The attribution of geographic origin is arbitrary and messy. E.g. my Y chromosome haplotype started out around present-day Ukraine and spread to Northern Europe, NW China (Uighurs), and Southern Asia. But people want to know where they came from, so it’s a big part of the marketing for the ancestry testing companies.

            For the other uses (finding lost relatives, tracing paternity, looking at diseases with a genetic component etc.) they’re acceptably reliable. There’s a built-in quality control in that relationship depends on many matches, often many chromosomes.

            A few years ago, I got my Y chromosome results, for a personal reason. My immigrant in the male line showed up in VA in mid 18th Cent. On paper, I’m descended from one of his sons who moved to Northern Alabama. From a public data base I was able to get in touch with a person in the male line in Indiana. The SNP markers are identical and an infinitesimal fraction of the population. If the results had been different, it would as clearly have established a non-paternity event. IOW, we can’t “be sure”, but we don’t live in a freshman philosophy class.

            I have a second cousin from a different line who had the full test, including autosomal chromosomes. The most interesting finding was a handful of markers (well under 1%) for sub-Saharan African ancestry. I asked the well-known author of a genetics blog about this, and we agreed that the result could well be lab error. To me the interesting point was that my cousin found it kind of boring. Our Southern ancestors even a generation back would have been a little upset by even a trace of African ancestry.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Come on. “Acceptably reliable” is not a scientific standard. And you show bias in the interpretation of results. The ones you like, you claim high accuracy of the test, the ones you don’t, you cite lab error. Why couldn’t the supposed impossibly high accuracy match you cited just as well be the result of lab error?

              And you did not read the linked article. The DNA testing services sample much less of the genome than you suggest they do.

              Reply
              1. Roger Bigod

                Whether it’s “scientific” is irrelevant. It’s accurate enough for detecting close relationships out to second cousin (6% identity on average) or farther if rare SNPs are taken into account. That’s fine for the applications I mentioned.

                It’s inaccurate to claim that I “dislike” the report of sub-Saharan ancestry. I woudn’t bother me, and I’m favorably impressed that my cousin who grew up in the Lower South had no problem with it. Previous generations might have followed the “one drop” theory.

                Where did I give an estimate for amount of DNA measured? I checked the articles and found nary a statement concerning this. Can you point this out to me?

                Anyway, it’s large enough to pick up cousins, as many users have verified. I’m not encouraging anyone to get the tests and I haven’t bothered to get the autosomal set. But there are worse ways of spending time and money.

                Reply
                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  No, if you look at the comment from ssk below who actually knows statistics, it isn’t accurate for finding relatives, and 23andMe even says so in its literature. As ssk stresses:

                  DNA connectedness is quite different from being a relative – a sibling, a parent or a child.

                  If you keep making inaccurate claims, you will lose your comment privileges. Misinformation is not on.

                  Reply
        1. skk

          My background is in stats and math and I wrote software for ” de novo assembly of short reads”. I went and googled a “sibling test and 23AndMe”. This is what I find 23andMe say – “Its not a tool to find relatives”.. On the sibling front they say:
          ” If you and your sibling have been genotyped by 23andMe, there are two features in particular that will help you to identify whether and to what degree you are related each other.”
          So the order is FIRST you assert ( in a logic sense ) you ARE siblings THEN we’ll tell you if and to what degree you are related. Which sounds dumb. except it does go to the core of what a “family” is, what “relatives” are. I grew up in an institution and call my 4 fellow girls my sisters even after 50 years. In the Warren kerfuffle the Cherokee nation rep got it right – “for most Native Americans, culture and kinship is what creates tribal membership — not blood”

          DNA connectedness is quite different from being a relative – a sibling, a parent or a child..

          My math and stat helps me to easily see the difference. The Cherokee nation has no problem seeing that. Maybe every Ancestry.com ad should be forced to have a following ad explaining the difference between DNA-connectedness and “family, kinship”

          Hey the ad should play “Who Are you” by The Who !

          Reply
          1. Olivier

            Indeed but why drag the Cherokee into this? Isn’t it just common sense that your parents are the people who raised you and your siblings their children (if you grew up with them , that is)? At least it used to be.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Alas, “common sense” is becoming a rare commodity nowadays. Not that it ever was very ‘common,’ but the recent cultural move towards “magical thinking” as a primary determiner of supposedly ‘logical’ fact sets and processes has pushed the ‘sense’ boundary almost to the Event Horizon.

              Reply
        2. Otis B Driftwood

          Same thing happened in my family this year. A cousin, who was given up for adoption shortly after birth, was able to connect to her half-sisters through 23 and me. Decidely not horsecrap.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            How do you know she was the one given up for adoption? You’d need to eliminate other adopted women with the right birthdate to be sure. This is basically confirmation bias, knowing that a cousin was given up for adoption and accepting the first person who showed up with a semi-plausible claim as the real deal.

            This person is likely the missing cousin. That is not the same as certainty, and it bothers me that you are attributing more significance to the DNA “evidence” than it likely warrants.

            Consumer genetic tests have a high error rate…which should give you pause. This is for medical purposes, which given the potential liability, means the tests should be more stringent than for ancestry fun:

            https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/28/17172934/consumer-genetic-testing-dna-false-positive-health

            Before you say, “False positives is more conservative!” consider how many women who are told they have the problematic BRCA gene proceed, like Angelina Jolie, to have a double mastectomy. Presumably someone would go have additional tests before doing anything radical, but the point is a false positive at least means further unnecessary expenditure on MD visits and more tests.

            Reply
            1. Sebba

              Yves, I would assume Otis’s cousin is operating like my adoptee wife, who used the DNA services to give her candidate relatives to examine in her search for biological parents. If the leads the DNA services had provided were somehow logically impossible, that would lead either to discarding the leads, or re-examining the “facts” (which are often all open to question in the case of a deliberately ill-documented closed adoption.) I’ve only read anecdotes about this, but ALL of the anecdotes in this type of search I’ve read involve other, confirmatory details.

              I’ll illustrate with my wife’s case. Her adoption papers described a father of Nordic descent who it seemed was impossible to be my wife’s father, since her haplo group indicated a Russian Jewish father, and a mother of European descent. The Jewish father candidate my wife located fit the other details she had – place of birth, college, etc. My wife wondered why this was — until the father candidate disclosed the description of this Nordic father exactly fit his roommate at the time, and that he had fooled around with his college roommate’s girlfriend “a single time” in a relevant period to have conceived my wife. The Nordic roomate is the logical choice for the mother to have considered the biological father, since he was the most frequent and official partner. So, this apparent error in my wife’s original documentation actually provided confirmation to the father candidate – it made absolute sense to him.

              The father candidate now has the difficulty of telling his friend – who he still knows – that he unknowingly knocked up his friend’s girlfriend at the time. And, as further confirmation, the mother candidate identified in my wife’s search was this same girlfriend.

              To make a bad analogy, I fear you may be treating the DNA services as if they were genetic credit agencies – unaccountable, inappropriately deemed authoritative, and full of incorrect information. The problem from my perspective is not that results like “0.2% Easter Islander” are frivolous and likely meaningless – I’m sure they likely are. I think the real problem is they have a persistent record that IS accurate – the base pair sequences themselves.

              Furthermore, the services are already good enough – in my experience and others – to succeed in forensic, criminal, and genetic relative searches. Maybe not alone, but even the slenderest of factual toeholds can be enough to positively identify someone in conjunction with the DNA, even without the actual DNA of the person. And as more people are added, and more sequences are added to the libraries, they seem destined to be terrifying, unavoidable data dragnets.

              It also seems likely to me that the medical/insurance industry will use this for no-good purposes, but I lack the knowledge and authority to speak directly to that.

              Don’t get hung up on the inaccuracy of the “0.1% Inuit” stuff – it’s just the brightly colored fluff currently being used to get people to submit their spit and their rights to the resulting data. Its the long-term play I’m worried about.

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith Post author

                You are confirming my point, which is what I am finding frustrating about this conversation. These are “leads”. They are not dispositive.

                Also regarding the DNA sequence, the services only test particular parts of the sequence. I haven’t seen anyone clearly describe whether that is the information they retain or whether they keep more. This BTW is the case for other biometric IDs: for instance, if a border service images your retina, it does not keep a picture of your retina. It keeps a model of your retina, the data on the sections it samples, so I assume this is also what happens with DNA samples.

                The reason for my continued concern is the nearly 40% error rate with medical DNA tests. These are still commercial labs and even with bog standard bloodwork in commercial labs, studies have found variability in test results (and I don’t mean Theranos, they found it for big labs like LabCorp). They only did IIRC four common, pretty simple tests and the results all came in within reference ranges, but there were still some significant inconsistencies on some tests, like cholesterol.

                I have a friend whose husband kept getting repeated false negatives and had to go to a university lab and have a prof watch the test being run to get accurate results. She’s a biomedical engineer, first job was at the NIH, and she won’t go to a commercial lab for anything more difficult than a white count as a result of this experience. This give an indication:

                Lab technicians’ reports compare your blood test results with a range that is considered normal for that laboratory. The lab’s reference range is based on test results from many people previously tested in that lab. This normal range may not be the same as another lab’s, notes the Food and Drug Administration, so don’t be surprised if you find that a prior blood test report varies from newer reports — the difference could be in the lab.

                https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/things-your-doctor-wont-tell-you-about-blood-tests/

                Reference ranges not being the same for labs for regularly done tests across very large populations (these labs run millions of test every year) says there are idiosyncrasies across labs.

                The point is while the DNA tests are theoretically highly accurate, these aren’t labs subject to third party oversight or liability regarding what they are doing, and there has been very limited independent assessment of the accuracy of their testing.

                Reply
                1. Sebba

                  I haven’t seen anyone clearly describe whether that is the information they retain or whether they keep more.

                  I distinctly recall reading from one of the links posted – or from one of the links those links pointed to – that only 10% of the companies destroy the buccal swab spit sample once the analysis is complete. The rest retain it, and it can be sold to other companies, and the privacy agreement with the users of the services allow for these samples to be handed over to other companies in the event of sale or acquisition. So, they do indeed keep everything, even if their present analysis may be flawed or incomplete.

                  I have spent some time looking for the exact source where I read this, but I can’t find it. These come close though:

                  https://theconversation.com/five-things-to-consider-before-ordering-an-online-dna-test-92504

                  http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/img/Ancestry-DNA-Testing-and-Privacy-Guide.pdf

                  Reply
            2. kareninca

              We found my dad’s niece through Ancestry. At least it seems very likely we have. His sister had given a child up for adoption in the early 60s. I sent in my dad’s sample, and a woman popped up as a very close match. We confirmed it via dates and location and matching family stories. We would never have found her otherwise. My aunt and her daughter don’t actually want to meet, so we won’t be comparing appearances.

              But – as you say, I would not accept this degree of certainty for purposes of medical treatment. It is sufficient for us for this purpose, but no-one’s life is at stake.

              I have a neighbor whose breast cancer treatment was determined by a single genetic test; the result determined whether she would have chemo in addition to the surgery. She was told that the results of her test were extreme; that the oncologist had never seen that sort of number before. I asked her if maybe that meant there was a lab error. She said yes, that had occurred to her, but the test was too expensive to re-do, so they only did it that one time. And they therefore gave her the chemo. I didn’t really know what to say to that. She has what is supposed to be good health insurance. I think if it were me I would have scraped up the money, but I don’t know how much it actually was. Also, of course she was too stressed out to argue the matter at the time.

              Reply
        3. Olivier

          More to the point, this fetishisation of blood ties is absurd and toxic. It is definitely in the air (see, e.g., the spread of legislation to break the anonymity of sperm donors) but it is IMO contemptible and part of the same enfeebled mindset that gave us #MeToo, PC, microagressions, safe spaces etc.

          Reply
      2. Off The Street

        It’s basically alchemy at this point.

        Their philosopher’s stone converts your information into gold. They mention the toxic mine tailings they leave behind in the form of leaky databases, sketchy methods and inevitable misapplications.

        Reply
      3. Sebba

        My wife and I both feel the DNA services are frightening, and ultimately will become a massive surveillance and control tool.

        So, why did my wife recently sign up for them? She’s from a closed adoption, and wanted to find her birth parents. She’s had some health issues and wanted her family medical history, which only a biological parent can provide her with. She has no expectations of a harmonious reunion, and is in for the truth, whatever it is.

        The first surprise was that she is ~50% Russian Jewish. Which delighted my Jewish parents – she had assumed she was actually Swedish, which is what her papers claimed. But this one tidbit wasn’t worth the loss of privacy that she paid to get it.

        What was arguably worth it was that the DNA services revealed prospective second, third, and fourth cousins. With help of a volunteer “Search Angel”, these faint leads were combined with the tiny biographical details available to her (her “non identifying information” as it is called in this sort of adoption). From there she was able to triangulate on who she believes her biological mother and father to be.

        She’s tried contacting them both. The possible mother is completely non-responsive to letters, the possible father curious and interested, but cautious of a scam. The possible father and my wife will be taking a paternity test shortly.

        Me? I’m effectively already in the DNA databases, since my family thinks they are fun and entertaining, and have all signed up despite my nay saying. Sort of like the phantom account Facebook has for me that I’ll never actually log in to.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          How interesting, my aforementioned adopted friend previously mentioned upthread, found out she was 34% Ashkenazi Jewish, according to the test.

          Reply
          1. Susan the Other

            Genetics shouldn’t be such a hot issue. Just browsed Robert Plomb’s (sp) new book clearly outlining how genetics accounts for everything – all the similarities and all the differences and we shouldn’t get so excited about it all. I agree, but people are nutty. I did a lot of archival genealogy, about a year’s worth, and found indications that my husband was probably 1/8 Ashkenazi Jewish (from Europe). So I said, hey you’re part Jewish. And he got offended. I thought he would never forgive me. His family is so proud of their Danish heritage. I thought it was kinda cool but I dropped the subject. Then decades later his little sister sent off her swab to Ancestry.com and filled out the questionnaire, never mentioning what I had found. Her results came back almost pure northern European. So I’ve since suspected that they don’t do any complex separations but satisfy their customers with reiterating the questionnaire.

            Reply
          1. allan

            In principle, for health insurance this would be illegal
            under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. However,

            While GINA has been cited as a strong step forward, some say that the legislation does not go far enough in enabling personal control over genetic testing results.[23] The law does not cover life, disability, or long-term care insurance, which may cause some reluctance to get tested.[22][24]

            Some legal scholars have called for the addition of a “disparate impact” theory of action to strengthen GINA as a law.[25]

            Reply
            1. jsn

              How’s enforcement been working against corporate crime lately?

              Sacklers or financial fraudsters in jail much?

              Law is only as good as enforcement and enforcement is only strong against the weak in our current order.

              Reply
          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            I have read that having 1 Tay-Sachs alleles confers some resistance to tuberculosis. Having 2 Tay-Sachs alleles gives you Tay-Sachs disease and death by about 4 years.

            So maybe some deaths from Tay-Sachs in a population is the “genetic tax” that population pays for having a higher amount of tuberculosis resistance conferred by 1 Tay-Sachs allele.

            Reply
            1. Jessica

              Also read a claim somewhere that having one Tay-Sachs allele improves intelligence, as though two Tay-Sachs alleles was something like an overdose.

              Reply
      4. Jane

        CBC Marketplace recently tested three commercial DNA ancestry kits. The results, on a pair of identical twins, were anything but identical; the test results are generated using databases whose contents change with each new test and machine learning algorithms. If the DNA experts they spoke with are right the best you can hope for is to know on which continenent your ancestors came from.

        Reply
      5. Baby Gerald

        This NatGeo article is interesting, but here’s one [previously posted here on NC, I believe] that paints those DNA tests as the hocus-pocus data collection nonsense that I had always presumed them to be: Twins get some ‘mystifying’ results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test

        Why NatGeo chooses to explain this away as ‘genetic recombination’ might have something to do with the fact that they sell a kit of their own.

        I’d say this is a drop in quality for the NatGeo brand, but when their TV channel is dominated by thinly-veiled fascist apologist garbage like ‘Alaska State Troopers’,’Locked Up Abroad’, ‘To Catch A Smuggler’, and ‘Inside North Korea’ it should come as no surprise that they’re pushing DNA tests, too.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          In theory AHC stands for American History Channel, but Adolf dominates, so maybe it could stand for something else?

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            ja. it’s a Murdoch Joint, now…and it shows.
            I hold the family collection of natgeo’s(me, dad and grandad) going back to the 50’s. i canceled my lifelong subscription after that joker took it over.

            Reply
        2. Roger Bigod

          The article is misleading. One of the five companies came up with a discrepancy of 0.4 %; the others were completely identical. Given that they looked at something like 900,000 SNP’s, the small lab error apparently passed their quality control.

          The discrepancies were in the attribution of geographical origin. This is going to vary if they used different samples and classification algorithms. They don’t go out of their way to explain the uncertainty in the results, but it’s difficult to see any harm this causes.

          The potential harm is that people may get upsetting news about family relationships. Also there’s the loss of privacy in having ones data stored in a corporate data base. Against this, some services provide a list of relatives, some possibly new to the tested subject, and knowing the genealogy may call attention to increased incidence of diseases with a genetic component, e.g. Alzheimer’s.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Making shit up is against our written site Policies. This is what the article said:

            Despite having virtually identical DNA, the twins did not receive matching results from any of the companies…

            Marketplace sent the results from all five companies to Gerstein’s team for analysis.

            He says any results the Agro twins received from the same DNA testing company should have been identical….

            The team at Yale was able to download and analyze the raw data set that each company used to perform its calculations.

            An entire DNA sample is made up of about three billion parts, but companies that provide ancestry tests look at about 700,000 of those to spot genetic differences….

            Still, none of the five companies provided the same ancestry breakdown for the twins.

            “We think the numbers should be spot on the same,” Gerstein said.

            They looked at the raw data, they said the results for ALL FIVE companies weren’t up to snuff but you who aren’t in this field, much the less not a top academic in this area, say you know better as to what an acceptable error rate is, and misrepresent the article to make your claim?

            You are accumulating troll points.

            Reply
            1. dcrane

              Roger did emphasize the problem that different companies use different ways of clustering regional human genetic variation. This probably is something of an art, and it’s probably an important factor here.

              The differences between the twins’ results from the same company are harder to understand, but only if the twins’ DNA samples really were identical. This article from Scientific American says that identical twins can have differences that sound substantial to me (as a biologist, though not a genomicist), and sometimes genes can be missing from one twin. There are also somatic mutations that occur during the life of the individual. Add in basecaller errors and differences in the pattern of laboratory amplification across the genome during the sampling and you have the possibility, at least, for a statistical algorithm to come up with different results for “identical” twins, especially when the alternatives are similar – eg., “broadly European”, “eastern European”, “Balkan”). [I’m also wondering if there is a way for the ancestry company to check for low level contamination of the sample by the customer.]

              It wouldn’t be surprising if different classification schemes can be affected to different degrees by a given set of discrepancies between two identical twins.

              Guess that means I’m guilty of second-guessing the Yale guy too….but who knows, maybe the reporter didn’t quote him very well – only a few short sentences or sentence fragments are given. It seems odd that he described the data from the twins as “shockingly” similar in the 23andMe case. Supposedly, 99.6% of the “parts” were the same. Not sure if that means 99.6% of the sampled areas were the same, or if the sampled areas were 99.6% identical. If the latter…well that’s a fair bit of variation for an algorithm to be influenced by. I’m certainly open to the possibility that he is right and that no reasonable algorithm could be expected to yield different profiles for the exact sequences obtained for these twins, but I also wonder if we’re not getting the whole picture of the interview.

              When this article first appeared a little while ago on NC, I thought that the results varied less than was implied by the tone of the article, given this issue of different regional classification methods. To me, the reason to be wary of these firms may be less to do with the accuracy and effectiveness of the genetic profiles and more to do with to whom they may eventually sell your data. I don’t intend to become one of their customers.

              Reply
      6. Oh

        There’s an ad on radio (tunein) plugging some foundation that purportedly is out to find donors for a disease (20,000 is the supposed death rate per year) that requires a match for marrow transplant. No word said about how they’ll protect your DNA data. Just send in a swab from your cheek, the ad says. I’m sure many fools will do exactly that.

        Reply
    2. kurtismayfield

      Now I refuse to read the article.. as Mark Twain said:

      It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.

      Reply
  4. allan

    “Corporate arts … Doesn’t mention the appalling development that institutions that
    used to have free or very low entry charges are now too expensive for low income people to visit,
    and it’s a special event even for middle class families.”

    One of the reasons given in yesterday’s WaPo summary of the downfall of the Newseum is that,
    while the original modest museum in Rosslyn, VA, was free, the new one
    on Pennsylvania Ave. in DC costs $25 a head (unless you have a discount).
    This in an area saturated with free federal museums. Genius.

    Another item of interest is the history of the board’s self-dealing, which predates the Newseum.
    Less like CalPERS and more like the Trump Foundation.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Don’t single Trump out here. The Clintons have acquired Master Level skills in self-dealing. They could probably teach Trump a thing or two about corruption.

      Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    “ISIS could reclaim territory in months without military pressure, warns Pentagon in draft report”

    I’ll just run this idea up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. Considering that this territory is still, you know, Syria, how about giving the job to the Syrian Army. Consider the advantages. They already speak the local language, they are already trained and equipped, some of them even come from this area and they certainly have the motivation to get the job done. They also have plenty of experience of taking back their own country and the Coalition wouldn’t even have to worry about giving air support as the Russian aerospace forces will do that job for them.

    Reply
    1. integer

      I like your thinking, however unfortunately the MIC, along with the Israeli government (and by extension AIPAC and the other branches of Israel’s vast U.S.-based lobbying apparatus), does not agree.

      Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      ISIS is a made up excuse to go into Syria. Anyone who is logical and not a sleazy National Security State operative can come to your conclusion in a microsecond. ISIS, in my view was created by a convergence of forces, mainly in Western, Saudi, and Turkish intel as should be obvious by now. Originally, I believe ISIS fighters were mercenaries who fought in order to loot and rape their way through the region. Remember, no great outpouring of trucks and men out of any country anywhere in the world particularly the MENA region goes unnoticed by the NSA/CIA/DIA. Those movements through Jordan (which is a CIA outpost) and Turkey were seen long before ISIS started asserting its military prowess as it seemed to rise out of the desert like dragon’s teeth sowed by Jason. To me this was so obvious.

      “Someone” (a little bird who claimed to know the deep stuff) told me that yes, ISIS was created as I described though he said it was mainly Saudi money but, at some point, ISIS deviated from their original conception. Certainly, when they easily went into Iraq and suddenly captured huge amounts of American materiel there when the Iraqi troops who outnumbered the ISIS fighters were told to retreat, that should have told us something.

      Reply
      1. David

        The idea that ISIS is somehow a CIA creation (perhaps with an assist from others) is very popular in the Middle East, but there’s no evidence that it’s true. Plenty of work has been done on the origins, personnel and ideology of the organisation, and these are quite well understood. What is true though is that some countries (notably the US) have tolerated its continued existence because so long as it keeps going, some opposition to Assad still exists, the refugees can’t go home, and the crisis continues. As long as the crisis continues, in turn, there is the possibility of getting rid of Assad. There’s every sign that the Syrians, with Russian help, will retake the little territory that ISIS now holds. But it is already metamorphosing into a stateless entity, with its ideology intact, and that will bring a further set of problems.

        Reply
        1. Skip Intro

          I think the evidence is in the fact that the ISIS leaders were seasoned leaders of the Baathist Iraqi army that was disbanded (but not disarmed) by the US occupation regime (Bremer). Many are also Abu Ghraib and Bagram alumni. Giving the CIA credit really slights the contributions of Saudi Arabia and Israel, for whom ISIS serves as a proxy army

          Reply
        2. Chris Cosmos

          Lots of evidence–you can research it for yourself. So the work on the origins comes from where? Yes, I’ve read it too from the mainstream media (i.e., CIA). The explanation is ludicrous–for example, they said that ISIS was fueled by “oil revenue” from wells they seized. Ok, how did they get revenue before they seized the wells? Did they borrow it from Goldman or what? Also, you say nothing about how a fleet of new trucks got into Syria from Turkey without the NSA noticing. How did that happen? How did the intel agencies that look at every phone call and can locate any suspicious character in the world particularly mercenaries not notice that they were in Turkey and Jordan with full packs, cartons of ammo and equipment. Give me a break–wake up man. I talked to a retired CIA officer who told me they can, from satellites he was responsible to put up, see anything from space to the square inch. They have programs that can analyze shapes with particular sensitivity to shapes that look like military equipment. The US knew, before the Russians bombed the stream of ISIS tank trucks going into Turkey, that they could have bombed the crap out of them before the Russians started to some years ago.

          The mainstream media lies about almost everything to do with the MENA region particularly war. ISIS was perfectly constructed to create fear in the West in support for spreading war in the region. At least, even if you don’t believe the accounts of those of us who have seen this pattern over decades, you have to entertain that this is possible.

          Reply
          1. David

            Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of the Islamic State, Pierr-jean Luizard, Le Piège Daech, and more generally Nikolaos Van Dam, Destroying a Nation and Frederic Picton, Syrie: one guerre pour rien.
            You need to distinguish between the political and the military sides of ISIS; As Skip Intro says, the military leaders were former Sunni Iraqi Baathist leaders from Sadam Hussein’s army, who also led the Sunni in the civil war of 2006-7. They provided the military planning and the technical expertise behind the rise of the Islamic State and the initial victories. The foreign volunteers were essentially cannon fodder. The political side began separately, and could never have made much progress without the Baathists. The argument for some time has been that the military leaders would at some point elbow the political leaders aside (perhaps fatally) and take control. Given the loss of territory and the return of many foreign jihadists, this may now be about to happen.

            Reply
            1. Ignacio

              The situation is so complex there. I believe that Muslim Brothers went to Siria from Egypt (after de west sponsored coup). Those are supported by Qatar and represent a branch of the sunni not in good relations with the other sunni. There are groups from Lybia. Other ISIS groups are supported by SA/UAE. I think that because of ISIS some were even talking about a new “Sykes-Picot” in the region.

              In any case foreign intervention in the region has been… unhelpful to say the least.

              Reply
            2. jsn

              The strongest claim for US creation of ISIS seems to me to be that our forces held most of ISIS future leadership at the same time in the same Iraqi prison.

              I doubt the US had the competence to deliberately create the terror academy we ended up building there, probably by accident.

              MOA covers it here.

              Reply
        3. Schmoe

          Where are those articles on the formation of ISIS? To me, the sudden creation of well armed army out of thin air, and with a sophisticated media empire behind it, should be the investigative journalism story of the century. Much more interesting than the lies behind the Iraq war. Even though I pay attention closely to articles on ISIS, I must have missed the articles on its early stages. Yes, it received arms from seized Iraqi stores in 2014, but before that – where are the NYT and WaPO on that issue? Perhaps MIA due to things like this:

          “Last month, I wrote about Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s revelations that Azerbaijan’s state-run Silk Way Airlines had shipped 350 planeloads of heavy weapons and ammunition to terrorist groups in Syria and many other countries in the last three years, under diplomatic cover.

          On Aug. 24, Dilyana tweeted: “I just got fired for telling the truth about weapons supplies for terrorists in Syria on diplomatic flights.” https://armenianweekly.com/2017/08/29/dilyana-gaytandzhieva-fired/

          Here is another article: https://www.wired.com/story/terror-industrial-complex-isis-munitions-supply-chain/

          All of those black Toyotas ISIS drove? In Afghanistan, Ghost Wars by Steve Coll had this to say (p. 134, hardcover edition) “. . . such as their [rebels] ubiquitous Japanese made pick-up trucks that were shipped in by the CIA”. I guess those rugged pickup trucks are great when forming a sunni jihadi rebel force (and wouldn’t they give ISIS a variety of colors?).

          No doubt the Saudis and UAE were involved, but I would be shocked in CIA and MI6 arms contacts were not tapped.

          Reply
          1. Skip Intro

            Recall the ‘surge’, where US troops surged out of the deadly Sunni triangle and into the green zone. They then ‘pacified’ the Sunni insurgents by giving them lots of guns and money. Those insurgents-turned-allied-militias were the basis of ISIS.

            Reply
            1. jsn

              I agree, we seeded the field with weapons and then, probably by accident as I commented above, welded the leadership cadre together in an Iraqi prison.

              Reply
        4. Summer

          You don’t think people in the Mid East have witnessed US intellegence angets training terrorists?

          Esoecially since so many flit from one side to the other? Wherever the moneu is flowing?

          Reply
    3. Plenue

      I was going to say basically the same thing. ISIS very well could reclaim territory without military pressure. Good thing there’s already a military in Syria to apply pressure: the Syrian Army.

      Reply
    4. Bill Smith

      It’s silly if you take the amount of territory to be larger than an acre or two.

      ISIS has lost of a lot of the mystique that exaggerated their reputation.

      They could however continue to be a low level problem for a considerable time.

      Reply
  6. cocomaan

    I’m kind of heartened by the progress on prisoner rights. Back during the Obama era it wasn’t even on the radar. I mean, the lack of heat is terrible, but I don’t really think anyone was paying attention. That goes from sentencing reform recently all the way to people no longer wanting to lock up folks for marijuana possession.

    Maybe it’s naivete but I like that it’s part of the conversation.

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      If the Polar Vortex wasn’t in town, I’m guessing this lack of heat on a regular winters day in Brooklyn would have gone unnoticed. I do hope that we may be finally seeing some actual reform for prisoner rights.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Prisoners have no rights. A few privileges, maybe. Without the ability to enforce them, “rights” are pure chimaera.

        Reply
    2. johnnygl

      A more interesting test will be the heavy pushback against kamala harris for her ‘tough on crime’ record. She’s getting beat up pretty bad by black and anti-incarceration activists. That speech on truancy, in particular has a lot of people riled up. If she can’t build a solid block of support among black voters, she’s probably sunk for 2020. She’s already got a lot of work to do on building name recognition as compared to biden and sanders.

      If ‘tough on crime’ proves to have become a political liability…that’s a really big change in american society.

      In the meantime…watch those poll numbers for harris…

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        If she can’t build a solid block of support among black voters, she’s probably sunk for 2020.

        Presumably you are referring to the Democrat primary. A neoliberal Democrat (from San Francisco, no less) has zero chance of assembling an Electoral College majority.

        Reply
      2. Richard

        I love K. Harris’ doubletalk on schools and incarceration: It is a crime to deprive a child of their education! And, people who say we need more schools than prisons are wrong! We need prisons…to lock up the people…who don’t go to the school…. which is the important thing!! … but just not more important than the prisons…
        Her giggle is infuriating. In the context especially, but also in general. I feel certain she has advisors that encourage such things, because it “humanizes” her, and makes her relatable. I don’t find it in the least relatable, and in fact I don’t want to relate to anyone. I don’t care about your stupid, consultant approved personality. I don’t even care if it’s authentic. Policy only please. But from what I’ve seen so far, Harris doesn’t talk policy, at least not in public.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Heh, I understand your /snark tag even though you didn’t directly type it.
          Yes, schools; but what kind, and for whom, and for what purpose, and to what end?
          The billionaires pushing charters see this as a plug for the charter scheme (many traded on the stock exchange. Hello, Bloomie, et al). However, get rich isn’t the primary reason for good public schools, imo.

          http://www2.ljworld.com/opinion/2019/feb/02/opinion-second-thoughts-about-charter-schools/

          Reply
          1. Richard

            Thanks for the link. Dang, in Cali they let charters require a financial contribution from parents. How is this not a private school then, one’s mind tends to wonder.
            Charters haven’t got much of a foothold in WA yet, where I teach. Torch and pitchfork, root them out.

            Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    Been a winter of missed content in the Southern Sierra, at least in the places i’d prefer the whitewashed frozen water to be, but that was then and this storm is a 6 footer that can dunk down low, with the snow level approaching 3k when we get our pansy version of the polar vortex in the second round of the bout.

    Book tips:

    “Storm” by George Stewart from 1941.

    One of my favorite authors, and this tome set the tone for the National Weather Service to start using personal names to designate major storms, as the wind is called Maria by the junior meteorologist in San Francisco.

    “Fire” from 1948, also written by Stewart.

    An 11 day wildfire rages in the Sierra Nevada (makes you long for those sylvan durations of yore, ha) and the tale takes you all over the fire line and beyond, how the conflagration behaves and changes, firefighting techniques, the momentum of air and it’s detrimental or beneficial qualities, and more.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Sierra Nevada just got a huge snow dump. Should held with drought for cities’ water draw and damping down dry kindling.

      Reply
  8. lyman alpha blob

    Is Lambert the Polybius of our times?

    Last night I was reading a little Roman history as I went to sleep and noticed a passage that was strikingly similar to Lambert’s lament concerning some recent Der Spiegel reporting from yesterday’s Water Cooler.

    From Water Cooler:

    “The Deep Pathology at the Heart of a Scandal at Der Spiegel” [The New Yorker]. Of a fabrication scandal, the perp being a star reporter, award-winning Claas Relotius. ” Christoph Schwennicke, a former Spiegel reporter who now runs the German magazine Cicero, criticized what he called ‘Schnibbism,’ named for Cordt Schnibben, an editor who developed a section for Der Spiegel that emphasized story and auteur-driven reportage. Schnibben established a school in which ‘the reality is just the material out of which you produce a story,’ Schwennicke told me. ‘Like you’re a Hollywood writer, and you’re writing the script for a movie.’” Against Schwennicke: “The argument, in the end, can’t be, don’t write beautifully,’ the Spiegel reporter told me. ‘We are doing stories. That’s our work, to tell things and make people want to read it. And it’s an art to make people want to read it. It’s a profession.’” • No. Reporting should be a craft and a job, where there are standards. And unions persons. You want to tell stories, move to Hollywood and try to get work as a scriptwriter. Or start writing fiction. Get out of the newsroom, which is about news, not stories.

    And here’s Polybius on the fake news and famously free press of the 3rd-2nd centuries BC. I’m posting the entire long excerpt as I thought it was worth reading in full as it echoes many modern criticisms of the media – dramatic embellishment, lack of context, etc. – that we often bring up on NC :

    For the history of the same period, with which we are now engaged, there are two authorities, Aratus and Phylarchus,whose opinions are opposed in many points and their statements contradictory. I think, therefore, it will be advantageous, or rather necessary, since I follow Aratus in my account of the Cleomenic war, to go into the question; and not by any neglect on my part to suffer misstatements in historical writings to enjoy an authority equal to that of truth. The fact is that the latter of these two writers has, throughout the whole of his history, made statements at random and without discrimination. It is not, however, necessary for me to criticise him on other points on the present occasion, or to call him to strict account concerning them; but such of his statements as relate to the period which I have now in hand, that is the Cleomenic war, these I must thoroughly sift. They will be quite sufficient to enable us to form a judgment on the general spirit and ability with which he approaches historical writing. It was his object to bring into prominence the cruelty of Antigonus and the Macedonians, as well as that of Aratus and the Achaeans; and he accordingly asserts that, when Mantinea fell into their hands, it was cruelly treated; and that the most ancient and important of all the Arcadian towns was involved in calamities so terrible as to move all Greece to horror and tears. And being eager to stir the hearts of his readers to pity, and to enlist their sympathies by his story, he talks of women embracing, tearing their hair, and exposing their breasts; and again of the tears and lamentations of men and women, led off into captivity along with their children and aged parents. And this he does again and again throughout his whole history, by way of bringing the terrible scene vividly before his readers. I say nothing of the unworthiness and unmanliness of the course he has adopted: let us only inquire what is essential and to the purpose in history. Surely an historian’s object should not be to amaze his readers by a series of thrilling anecdotes; nor should he aim at producing speeches which might have been delivered, nor study dramatic propriety in details like a writer of tragedy: but his function is above all to record with fidelity what was actually said or done, however commonplace it may be. For the purposes of history and of the drama are not the same, but widely opposed to each other. In the former the object is to strike and delight by words as true to nature as possible; in the latter to instruct and convince by genuine words and deeds; in the former the effect is meant to be temporary, in the latter permanent. In the former, again, the power of carrying an audience is the chief excellence, because the object is to create illusion; but in the latter the thing of primary importance is truth, because the object is to benefit the learner. And apart from these considerations, Phylarchus, in most of the catastrophes which he relates, omits to suggest the causes which gave rise to them, or the course of events which led up to them: and without knowing these, it is impossible to feel the due indignation or pity at anything which occurs. For instance, everybody looks upon it as an outrage that the free should be struck: still, if a man provokes it by an act of violence, he is considered to have got no more than he deserved; and, where it is done for correction and discipline, those who strike free men are deemed worthy of honour and gratitude. Again, the killing of a fellow-citizen is regarded as a heinous crime, deserving the severest penalties: and yet it is notorious that the man who kills a thief, or his wife’s paramour, is held guiltless; while he who kills a traitor or tyrant in every country receives honours and pre-eminence. And so in everything our final judgment does not depend upon the mere things done, but upon their causes and the views of the actors, according as these differ.

    These “throwing babies out of incubators” – type narratives have been written for quite some time. Plus ca change….

    Polybuis then goes on to explain exactly why the Mantineans had it coming!

    Side note: I’m reading a more recent translation of Polybius by Robin Waterfield which reads a little better than the excerpt above in case anyone is interested in brushing up on the Punic Wars.

    Reply
    1. diptherio

      “former” and “latter” must be backwards in the bolded portion of the quote…or else it’s supposed to be “drama” and then “history in the opening sentence, else it makes no sense.

      For the purposes of history and of the drama are not the same…In the former [history], again, the power of carrying an audience is the chief excellence, because the object is to create illusion; but in the latter [drama] the thing of primary importance is truth….

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Good catch – thank you. Must be a bad transcription from Project Gutenberg since it does read that way in the source material too.

        Reply
    2. mle detroit

      If you get a chance, see The Lifespan of a Fact. It’s quite a good dramatization (there’s also a book) of exactly this issue, based on a real-life incident. The Broadway cast consisted of Bobby Canavale (writer for whom the facts are incidental to the art), Daniel Radcliffe (nerdy fact-checker) and Cherry Jones (editor with a deadline).

      Reply
  9. jfleni

    RE: Right to Repair Advocates Are Hosting Youtube Town Halls to Show You How to Get Involved in the Movement.

    Whatever you do DON’T forget LINUX! A pox on all the APPLE -jack and
    micro-swift swindles!

    Reply
    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      So, a tech question for the commentariat: I need to get a laptop to take to work (yes, yay! finally got a gig joining a private practice 5 min from where I live that will be completely flexible so allow me to work the days and times of my choosing to accommodate momcare) and I know Microsoft 7 won’t be supported in 2020 (it’s what I use at home). It will need to support something called CloudCare, the EMR they use. I would like also to be able to generate documents outside of the EMR on it that can be easily printed either at home or work (and many of these already exist, as Word docs). Never used Word Perfect but some here (maybe Yves?) speak well of it.

      Linux appeals but does it play well with others? Also, I am no techie so do they have any support? Wondering if it is time to go back to Mac (used them from ’85 to 2000 when I inherited a PC and since work computers were all PCs it seemed easiest to stick with that when it died) but hear so much talk of crapification here, I hesitate. But by report the Apple Bar is good for support.

      The appeal of a Mac is also to get away from Google. I am the unhappy owner of an Android phone and salivate over the thought of the Librem. Just afraid that (as with DDG) by design stuff that doesn’t pony up data for Google may have trouble accessing or not have full functionality on some websites.

      All thoughts welcome, thanks!

      Reply
      1. Daryl

        Probably a Mac then. I’m not a fan of Apple for a variety of reasons but it does just “mostly work” and you will be able to get support.

        The crapification is in the form of their endless quest to make thin, unrepariable laptops, but the software and usability situation is still night and day better than Windows which now comes out of the box with spyware and spam.

        Linux has gotten much better over the years as a consumer OS — I am a full time Linux user — but the learning curve will be quite real.

        For CloudCare: definitely check before buying a laptop that it will work with it. If it’s web based it will probably be fine on anything — most everything works on my Linux computer now — but if it’s a desktop app your mileage may be extremely variable…

        Reply
        1. sd

          Suggestion. If you decide to go Mac, see if you can get a reconditioned 2015 model – it still has all of the ports including hdmi and memory cards from a digital camera.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, definitely get a refurb 2015. That is widely considered to be a great machine. She might have to get a 15″, the 13″ are harder to find if you want to max out the RAM (which I recommend, one of the bad things re Apple is they now make sure you CAN”T upgrade the RAM on laptops).

            I bought mine from a place in Chicago called TechGator. They seemed to have a lot (even of the 13″ with the max RAM, but that may no longer be true). They were very nice and professional.

            Reply
      2. skk

        Since you state “I am no techie “, and Cloudcare is essential to you, I looked it up : https://www.avast.com/business/products/cloudcare and I downloaded their data sheet, which gives you the “supported platforms “, which mean bugger off with your problem, if you can’t pass this basic hurdle.. so their supported platforms are Windows all the way..

        Supported Operating Systems
        • Windows 7 SP1 or higher (32-bit, 64-bit)
        • Windows 8/8.1, except RT &
        Starter Edition (32-bit, 64-bit)
        • Windows 10, except Mobile &
        IoT Core Edition (32-bit, 64-bit)
        • Windows Server 2008 (R2, 32-bit, 64-bit)
        • Windows Small Business Server 2008, 2011
        • Windows Server 2012 r2

        There you have it.

        Of course, I use Linux, I use Ubuntu, LibreOffice, etc etc.. since 2004, so does my wife but she’s a biochemist not a computer/math/stat person like me and I’ve told her and she agree – she’ll go back to Windows ( or whatever it is 30 years from now :-) ) when I die. Cos who are you gonna call ? { It might not be a great help but you may get your money back at least }

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Thanks for your response and my apologies: when I clicked on your link it didn’t seem to be an EMR, so I did a search, and it’s carecloud.

          I couldn’t find a list of supported platforms but they mentioned iPads and as Daryl says above Windows is now so bad, would you get away from it if you could?

          Reply
          1. skk

            Hey you know how to use links ! :-) . OK so carecloud not cloudcare. THey have several “solutions” they say – you’d need to figure out which one (s) you’ll be using.

            Me, I wdn’t fart about – especially since in this field privacy is a hot concern. I’d say I have enough to think what with being a mom, new job. I’d ask the company what they use, perhaps ask for a loaner if they have such a thing, with everything pre-installed,or check with your putative colleagues, especially the friendly Expert User ( but NOT the aspiring techie ), see what they use and go with that..

            It doesn’t mean you have done things right and protected patient confidentiality but that you have “safe harbor”. and that’s your starting point – at this stage of the game.

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              lol not a mom, relocated two years ago from Chicago to provide care for my 89 yr old mom who is now on palliative. Thanks for your suggestions; this being a private practice all clinicians provide their own hardware, including phones, but a secure phone and EMR portal are loaded on our hardware so we can access anywhere without revealing our own info and they are protected by a VPN regardless of location. I believe only the office has computers. I was told most of the clinicians use Macs. One guy is the tech point person so I can get his advice.

              Yes, marym was kind enough to show me how to do links about a week ago, woo-hoo!

              Reply
          2. Glen

            I also looked at carecloud and could not find any information on the OS requirements. Parts look like iOS/Android apps, parts look web based, and the rest is undefined. I would assume using Windows as your OS is probably the safest bet.

            If you can, I would recommend using Linux. Most modern Linux distributions are very easy to use and keep up to date. The popular distributions provide excellent community support. Some Linux distributions are designed to look and feel like Windows so that the learning curve to use the desktop is not so steep.

            I have used nothing but Linux at home since 1996, but use a variety of other OSes at work. As an engineer, I view PCs and OSes as tools, and tend to use what works best to solve the problem.

            Good luck with your new job!

            Reply
        1. Arizona Slim

          Check out the System76 lineup of American-made computers that are Linux based. I have one of their laptops and love it.

          Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Looks to require coding; I have never done any, too old to have been taught in school and never needed it for my work. Basically the computer for me is a typewriter and search.

              Reply
    2. Geof

      One Linux benefit I never see mentioned is about the aging mind. I have observed that as people age, they find it increasingly difficult to cope with the constant onslaught of look & feel changes in commercial operating systems. Basic operations change from year to year at the whim of designers in Cupertino, Redmond and Mountain View. My mother learned to use command line Unix email before the days of the Web; now she is confused by Mac OS Finder windows.

      Linux isn’t driven by a fashion cycle of planned obsolesence. Changes come much more slowly, and the old tools stick around. It may be harder to learn something like vim and a host of shell commands, but they worked the same way 30 years ago and will work the same 30 years from now. I am making a deliberate choice to acquire technical knowledge today that will last even when my memory starts to go.

      That said, Linux has plenty of speed bumps, especially around hardware and laptops. With the right hardware, when it works, it really does just work – probably more easily than Windows. When you need help online, instructions are usually shell commands that can be copied and pasted (no mucking around in menus that Microsoft rearranged last month). But hardware manufacturers don’t target it or provide drivers, so I have run into problems (e.g. sleep mode on a not officially supported laptop or desktop, trying to get a network scanner to work, battery life isn’t as good) which can be a real pain. If you have supported hardware, I think it’s at least as good as the commercial alternatives for basic stuff like email, web browsing, and ordinary word processing.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Thanks, will go to their website and see what is supported–so they don’t drop off after 24 mos or whatever I take it?

        Reply
      2. ChristopherJ

        Well done, Chigal.
        The hardest part of linux is creating a bootable usb disk and then interrupting your computer at start up to boot off the disk. Oh, and copying all your files, as you will need to reimage your hard drive. You can keep a windows partition, if you need to as well.

        For me, I was just amazed that I’d stuck with Windows for that long.
        It runs in a fraction of the footprint that Windows takes.
        With an i5 processor, I’m up and connecting to the internet in 30 secs from cold.
        Plenty of help in forums for newbies.

        Reply
        1. Ignacio

          Thank you Christopher, and commenters above and congrats to ChiGal! Nice I found this dialogue! My laptop with Windows 7 installed, seems to be in its latest year and like ChiGal I am reluctant to go for newest windows versions. My son started last year informatics engineering and has very recently installed linux in his computer leaving a windows partition. Before buying a new laptop I would like to try to revive it with with linux. I use office, autoCAD and a few other professional applications many of them seem to be linux-compatible (at least they have been shown to work in ubuntu linux). Your comments encourage me to do so.

          Reply
          1. ChristopherJ

            No, thank you, Ignacio. Best thing, it’s free, coded by the community and better on hacking from what I have experienced and read.

            Reply
  10. Wukchumni

    Maduro’s Bid to Fly Gold Out of Venezuela Is Blocked Bloomberg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    $850 million worth of all that glitters is merely a rounding error for the mouse clique that ginned up so much do re mi the past decade, or it’s just short of being another billionaire in a world full of themselves.

    Why not give the Guaido the pimpernel, a billion extracted from the seat cushions of a perpetual notion machine, to fund his calling, if they so desperately want regime change?

    Reply
  11. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Venezuela

    Ran across this rundown of the situation. From last year but still relevant as it provides some valuable context which has been completely absent from any recent MSM criticisms of Maduro – https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/05/18/a-primer-on-the-venezuelan-elections/

    I do have one question. The article notes that the Carter Center (JImmy’s organization) has declared Venezuelan elections the best in the world. That quote came after the 2012 elections there when Maduro was first elected if I’m not mistaken. This time the Carter Center declined to go to Venezuela to monitor the elections at all so we have to take the opposition’s word for it that they were “corrupt”.

    Anybody know why the Carter Center didn’t go? Or if the election methods were different this time around than what was used in 2012?

    Reply
    1. Dr. Roberts

      The Carter Center, along with other international election observers, refused to supervise the elections because they viewed them as illegitimate due to Maduro’s questionable tactics of marginalizing the national assembly and declaring a new constitutional assembly by presidential order with the backing of the supreme court (which was packed with Chavistas). The elections were also moved up several months amid the collapse of negotiations with the opposition. There is a genuine constitutional crisis going on in the country. It’s tempting to dismiss these criticisms of Maduro because the opposition is literally colluding with the likes of Bolton to undermine a formerly popular democratic government, but that government has morphed into something quite ugly as the economic and political situation has deteriorated. There really don’t seem to be any good outcomes on offer here.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        Found this link through today’s Caitlin Johnstone article –

        https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/The-Case-for-Legitimacy-of-Maduros-Second-Presidential-Term-20190108-0026.html

        Quite the contrast to the MSM narrative and as always the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. What I’d still like to know is whether the Carter Center was pressured by the usual suspects to take the position it did this time around.

        What is a certain fact that should not be in question though is that the US has been hell-bent on getting rid of Chavez and Maduro since day one and have already been involved on more than one coup attempt.

        Reply
  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    There were prison reform advocates; although, I would say they were more focused on keeping people out of prisons.

    Besides social media becoming older, there is a growing recognition that the Democratic Party isn’t simply a reliable partner or maybe more specifically the regressive nature of Bill Clinton wasn’t a passing issue limited to his personality and electoral demands. Would you trust random Democratic President to manage a public option (even a good one)? The answer is “no” for too many people especially after years of promises of how great ACA would be along side promises of “we’ll fix it later.”

    Even now, the language around the Presidential candidates strikes me as far more skeptical and not based around drivel such as personalities and “qualifications” such as “experience” or even ability to win. 2008 was a wild time.

    Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    Feds secretly ship plutonium to Nevada to meet South Carolina court order ars technica
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Betcha there’s Graham cracker crumbs all over this one…

    Not that Death Valley needs to be any hotter than it is in the summer, but now it’s weapons grade nuclear plutonium-adjacent as an added bonus.

    And they found the site near Beatty, Nv. to be on an earthquake fault, as an added bonus. Could cause Nevadans to squeak like a stuck pig, Ned.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository

    Reply
    1. Susan the Other

      We haven’t heard how they are going to secure the plutonium in the New Mexico storage facility that was foiled by kitty litter. If they are ignoring the protests of the State of Nevada and just shipping anyway chances are that stuff will also wind up there and maybe all those leaking barrels in Hanford. For the authorities to claim they must keep these transfers a “secret” is a little too convenient. Especially when there are seismic problems at Yucca and if it gets stuffed with plutonium and spent uranium it could blow clear across the USA.

      Reply
  14. JCC

    Although I’m no fan of Howard Schultz (particularly after watching the Seattle SuperSonics story posted on The Water Cooler yesterday), Frank Rich makes one critical mistake in this article:

    A self-described “lifelong Democrat,” he says he is not running as a Democrat because the party has no place for centrists like him — which may come as news to Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Beto O’Rourke, and John Hickenlooper, among others contemplating presidential candidacies.

    Which may come as news to Joe Biden, et. al. ?!?!?!? Centrists? Only in the world of American pundits.

    Reply
    1. Darthbobber

      Centrist in the same sense as Schultz. As in economic rightists+ diversity of a sort. Or a line I remember from Sales’s history of SDS: Liberalism seemed to be conservatism again, with a smile and a higher forehead. (from memory, almost certainly not exact.)

      Reply
    2. Oh

      A Centrist is one who supports big corporations, spying on people, fracking, pays lip service to pot use and abortions, helps Repigs and attends Davos every time. Example–> Obama

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Why America can’t win wars”

    During the 19th century the British Army worked out the secret sauce of training local troops up to a high standard and the Ghurka forces are a remnant of how well it worked out. It was not like that these local troops were soft or anything as you were talking about some hard-core military nations like the Ghurkas and the Sikhs. Whatever qualities the US Army has, training local forces no longer seems to be one of them. If the US military could not train up an Iraqi army that was prepared to fight for Iraq against a much smaller ISIS force, then how does this David Isenberg think that the US Military would be capable of training an American Foreign Legion? I saw French Foreign Legion soldiers once in Paris with their famous blank kepis and I have never seen soldiers anywhere that moved the same way. I cannot see an American Foreign Legion matching them, especially under US officers whose training tells them to keep on getting their ticket punched to promotion.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The reliance on wunder weapons and air power has likely led to a withering of combat ability in anything outside of ideal conditions. The reports indicated the Kiev aligned forces were trying to race across Eastern Ukraine as if it was the desert of Western Iraq, leading to old fashioned tactics designed to kill tanks without sufficient infantry support. American officers were advising.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I saw that with the first major incursion. It looked like the plan was to race along the southern borders, follow up by going north to cut off the Republics from the Russian supply lines and then mop up the remainder. Perhaps the US Army could have pulled off a stunt like that – provided that they had overwhelming air and artillery support – but the Ukrainian army was not the army that could have done that in the shape that they were in back then.
        The Republics simply used the Russian fire-sac doctrine by pulling those forces into the south and then slamming the door behind them. Yes, I can well believe that American officers were advising the Ukrainians – in American battle doctrine – but this was not the American army here. Talk about your bridge too far. I would be curious to know how many American troops have been killed in the Ukraine by now, not that they would ever publicize it, but reports indicate some have been killed.

        Reply
  16. pjay

    Re: ‘Venezuela: No to Intervention, No to Maduro’

    Caitlin Johnstone’s reply:

    “When you help advance those propaganda narratives, you are actively facilitating the first steps of war in a very real way. It’s the same as if you personally picked up a rifle and began picking people off; the only difference is that you’re participating in an earlier stage of the bloodshed rather than a later one. The people are just as dead in the end as if you personally had killed them with your own hands, you just helped with an earlier part of the mechanizations of war rather than a later one. Hell, the one firing the bullets is arguably in a more moral position, because at least they’re putting something on the line and reckoning sincerely with the reality of what they’re doing. The one hiding behind a keyboard and acting as a pro bono war propagandist while inserting “…but I oppose direct interventionism” at the end is vastly more cowardly and dishonest. In the end, the one with the gun is just delivering the bullet that was put in the mail by the propagandist.”

    https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/i-oppose-interventionism-but-but-nothing-dont-be-a-pro-bono-cia-propagandist-26633bd33ee9

    Reply
    1. Geof

      I have agreed with other things Johnstone has written, and I haven’t much been following American reactions to what’s happening in Venezuela, but the idea that people talking is worse than shooting someone in the head is bonkers.

      When Oliver Wendell Holmes upheld the conviction of Charles Schenk, he compared distributing pamphlets urging peaceful, law-abiding opposition to the WWI draft to “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing panic.”

      The idea that speech is violence (or, according to her, worse than violence!) leads inevitably to punishing speech as though it were. If we were to accept it, would not Johnstone’s argument against speech be even more reprehensible for all the voices it would silence, and all the violence that would be enabled as a result? It’s a terrible doctrine. I’m surprised to see Johnstone promote it.

      Reply
      1. pjay

        I’m not sure how much of Johnstone’s work you have read, but if you think she is arguing against free speech or, worse yet, suggesting punishing speech, then you have not been reading very carefully. Nothing could be further from the truth. What she is dealing with is this. When the War Machine wants to take out a leader or country that is not bending to our will, it provides propaganda to justify this action. Many of these stories concern the suffering “people” of the target country under their evil leaders. They need our help! Maybe its a vicious aggressive authoritarian “thug” like Putin; maybe a vicious sadistic torturer murderer “thug” like Assad; maybe a vicious sadistic genocidal “thug” like Milosivic; or perhaps a vicious authoritarian “dictator thug” who has also destroyed his economy like Mudoro — etc., etc., etc. It’s been done a thousand times (Gaddafi, Hussein, etc.). And always good “liberal” or “progressive” writers reproduce these critiques for the best “humanitarian” reasons. Mudoro is a vicious incompetent dictator who needs to go…. *but* — we don’t want to the US to bomb or invade anyone!

        This is BS!! What the “humanitarian progressives” have done is provide cover for the war mongers without dealing with the complex real-world situations in which they are embedded. Every leader mentioned above was problematic, or even evil, to differing degrees. But in *every* case Western propaganda has been greatly exaggerated, distorted, or flat out false. Painting Maduro as an evil dictator who needs to go is the first step in today’s hybrid warfare. And the war mongers care *nothing* for the “people.* It is never about them. It is about economic gain and geopolitical interest. In fact history assures us that “the people” will do a lot more suffering before the process of “regime change” occurs — if it does — and perhaps a lot more after as well if the history of Latin America is any guide.

        This is not about free speech or speech as violence. It is about “progressive” intelligensia serving as useful idiots for the powers that be — and continuing to do so over and over again. It’s getting old.

        Reply
        1. newcatty

          Yes… you would be reasonable to think the “progressive intelligentsia ” are , in many cases not so much idiots, but made and paid.

          Reply
  17. rd

    Re: Buffalo, New York gets way worse every winter

    I live in Lake Erie & Lake Ontario lake effect snow country. We have a little bit more snow in the winter than historically (the airport near me has seen a 5″/yr rise in average over the past 25 years) but that is probably because our winters are becoming warmer, so the lakes are warmer with either less ice cover (Lake Ontario) or longer before it freezes over completely (Lake Erie). We are also ending up with less sustained periods of really cold air (this was only a handful of days) and be over 40F within a day or two , which we used to go a month or more without seeing.

    The biggest difference is news coverage and social media, so stuff that used to be normal with no coverage is now played up hugely. Wind chill numbers breathlessly reported as real temperatures is an example. -20F with a wind simply means an object outside will get to -20F faster than if there is no wind. It will not become -55F, which is the wind chill temperature reported by the hyper-ventilating TV newscaster.

    Reply
    1. rd

      Further on Buffalo:

      Usually Lake Erie is completely frozen over by early January so the Lake Erie lake effect snow machine turns off because there is no moisture coming off the lake. The very warm December meant that Lake Erie was unfrozen at the beginning of January. So the recent lake effect snows in Buffalo are what they normally get in December and almost never get in January/February.

      If these warm Decembers become a pattern, then that will be one manifestation of climate change in the area. Cold Decembers and early January coincide with the lowest daylight energy of the year, so freezing of water surface happens quickly. Once we get to late January/February, the sun energy is increasing dramatically and can offset some or all cold air temperatures if the water is absorbing the solar energy. These are the subtle types of shift that may be coming with climate change.

      Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    Football and the NFL Are Facing White Flight Atlantic
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The NFL is different compared to other pro sports in the country, in that the players are rarely from another country. Only 8 in the league this season. And over 2/3rds of the squad is black.

    It was a good season overall (unless you’re a long suffering Bills fan-but we wouldn’t have it any other way) with tons of feel-good about concussions and other weighty grey matter public service announcement commercials, showcasing how much the NFL is concerned about the damage the game is causing, not that they can do anything about the myriad of savageness each side pummels one another with. This quinquagenarian staggers in his recliner a few times a contest, witnessing the brutality of a hit that would have me in stitches, literally.

    On one side, you have a way out and a way up, on the other side of the coin, you have parents concerned about their boys brains being bashed and banished from thought.

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      IMO, don’t see rationalizing the “myriad of savageness each side pummels one another with” and as you are “staggered …witnessing the brutality of a hit” as being a way out and and up for “”the other side of the coin”. Senseless, brutal ,savage modern gladiator pro sport (NFL) is just literally that. No young men, black or not, should have this as a way out. As long as “fans” ,even “long suffering” keep up the support of a literal inhumane and greedy so called “pro sport”, then it’s just one more exploitation of , mostly, poor people in America. Please, no pontificating on ” why, no puts a gun to a kid’s head or of their parents'” to play. Nice to know that our society propagates TINA for you. Wow, some parents have concern about the devastating “bashed brains” of their kid “playing”. Guess, those lucky kids ( mostly white) may be thoughtful later on…

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I promise to curtail my enthusiasm in such things by late Sunday, and perhaps a little S.P.Q.R. (sport postgame qualitative review) from the coliseum.

        Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Except for the black/white angle, a form of distinction one can actually see, this is the story of how it has been in many sports. Especially the really injury prone ones.

      Boxing, for example, was dominated in every period by people from groups near the bottom of the economic pyramid. And professional soccer has been filled with stars who grew up in council housing, or were found by scouts playing football or futsal in tenements and shantytowns around the world.

      And those aspiring to something like the old status of “gentlemen” (don’t do this for a living) have always found other sports to reflect their elite status.

      This has been more or less the case since the promulgation of class-based amateurism during the age of Empire. The groups and particular sports vary over time, but the distinction always replicates itself.

      Reply
    1. John

      I disagree. Apple aspires to do well. Sometimes they achieve this, sometimes not. Google and FB are just evil. Especially FB.

      It’s an odd thing. FB got caught recently violating their developers license terms of service to put out an app that would collect private information from minors (among others). Apple shut them down by blocking their apps issued under this license. I didn’t see much public shaming of FB, but Ben Thompson wrote a piece castigating Apple for their behavior.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I think Apple aspired to provide elegant products and a good/great user experience under Steve Jobs. It’s become totally crapified under Tim Cook, but there may be enough of the old Apple employees to result in that happening more slowly than it might otherwise.

        Apple has been about having a closed system so as to better control quality of the user experience. This was central to Jobs’ philosophy. So this makes them accidentally a force for not evil, since their strong desire for control conflicts with snoopware. They expect designers on their platform to behave.

        The tech sites I saw did take note of Apple shutting down FB and they approved. In fact, some were saying this was nice but Apple wouldn’t go far enough, as in really shut them out if they violated again (as in not just a shot across the bow but a ban, and the reading was anything less than a believable threat of a ban would not deter FB).

        Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              I wasn’t straw manning. I was just adding something that I saw in this mornings news how Facebook reckons that they did nothing wrong.

              Reply
                1. The Rev Kev

                  I see it now. I should have stuck a /sarc tag in my original comment somewhere or said that perhaps a ban was in order as they were doubling down on what they did. My apologies if I offended.

                  Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    New US Experiments Aim To Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos NPR
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

    You can’t spell Frankenstein without AI.

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      “You can’t spell Frankenstein without AI” — you can if you spell it in proper Yiddish fashion, “Fronkensteen”.

      Reply
  20. Mark Keller

    On the subject of vaccine safety, why would anyone trust the vaccine manufacturers against tens of thousands of parents? Why would anyone trust the FDA? Or, at this point, those passing through the revolving door at the CDC? Or major media, for whom the pharmaceutical industry is the an essential advertiser?

    Reply
    1. Baby Gerald

      So you’ll put your trust in the anecdotal evidence proffered by a bunch of anti-vaxxer parents and advocates instead? In case you didn’t know, these vaccines have been around since before the FDA started getting defunded and endorsed by the industry it’s regulating.

      What motivation would there even be for a pharmaceutical company to influence an agency that already supports these vaccines wholeheartedly? It’s not like these vaccines are the latest pill to fix the curve in your boner or put hair back on your head. They’ve been proven to prevent outbreaks of serious illnesses for decades.

      When I start seeing commercials for the latest measles vaccine, with its attendant list of side effects and a recommendation to ‘ask your doctor if the measles vaccine is right for you’, then I’ll be suspicious. Until then, I’ll go on the evidence that neither I, nor my relatives, nor anyone I’ve ever met in my 45 years of life have ever been stricken ill by mumps, measles, or rubella.

      Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Why would anyone trust a bunch of hysterical, deranged lunatics who don’t know diddly about what they speak? Anti-vax conspiracy theorists are nothing but “birthers” of a different stripe. But just as stupid.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Don’t think calling anti-vax “conspiracy theorists …stupid…deranged”… Is at all helpful in getting them to see another point of view. Usually name calling and insulting people just puts many people in a fight or flight defense. Also, makes them, often think of well, consider the source.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You ought to know that the anti-vaxers efforts to connect vaccines to autism blew up in a study they funded:

          https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/antivaccine-activists-fund-a-study-to-show-vaccines-cause-autism-it-backfires-spectacularly/

          Here are more examples of the studies that found no connection, and an early paper claiming a link has been withdrawn as a fraud:

          https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/do-vaccines-cause-autism#1

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/

          Via multiple individuals, I am one degree of separation removed from someone who is arguably the patient zero of anti-vax hysteria, Laura Hayes, the wife of Rick Hayes, former head of PE at CalPERS.

          The short story is they had one or maybe even two severely autistic children. Laura is reported to be a very angry woman and wanted an explanation (as opposed to say, very bad genetic luck). Rick (HBS, Stanford undergrad), stayed at CalPERS longer than he might otherwise have because the Sacramento schools have good programs for autistic kids. But he eventually joined a PE firm.

          Rick and Laura went to their now rich friend and fundraised for their anti-vax cause. Their friends felt sorry for their situation and contributed. Laura (and perhaps Rick) were obviously proselytizing in their circle too, and this had some effect, in that Northern California is one of the hotbeds of anti-vax sentiment.

          A colleague who knows Rick back to CalPERS invited Rick and his wife to dinner. This colleague’s wife is a professor in one of the big CA teaching hospitals (she is sufficiently prominent in her field that the Gates Foundation is supporting her work). She’s a big proponent of evidence-based medicine.

          The professor started asking Laura for the data and research supporting her claims that vaccines caused autism. As my colleague described it, “The wives nearly came to blows.” Obviously, if Laura could have backed up her beliefs, the dinner would not have gone this way.

          Reply
          1. newcatty

            Yves, if your above comment was a response to my comment, than actually I do know some of the anti-vaxer efforts… My comment did not state that I am anti-vaxer( FWIW, I am not). I was commenting on the fact that I don’t think calling them insulting names is a mature or helpful way to reach people who are in disagreement about a serious and crucial public health issue. Thanks for the interesting story about Hayes and the big CA teaching hospital professor at the dramatic dinner party. Not to rationalize Laura’s anti-vax “hysteria “, but having one or two severely autistic children also perhaps calls for some compassion. Doesn’t mean that the public health community should not provide and require vaccinations for children in any school setting.

            Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      The rationale of the anti-vaxxers has not been that the FDA has been corrupted (true) and is allowing ineffective vaccines to be sold, it’s that vaccines don’t work and cause other diseases like autism which is absolute nonsense.

      One can both distrust the FDA and also realize that vaccines do in fact work, no?

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        One can both distrust the FDA and also realize that vaccines do in fact work, no?

        Absolutely, but the distortions, misinformation, and plain lies from the various federal organizations like the FDA does make it harder to believe them when they are telling the truth; how does one tell when they are telling the truth or when they are not? When is it a lie and when is it a mistake?

        Vaccines are almost always safe now, and usually provide good protection The insistence by some experts to change those qualifiers into absolutes doesn’t help. Some charlatan will come along and point out the exceptions to the credulous.

        Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      Where you say ‘On the subject of vaccine safety, why would anyone trust the vaccine manufacturers against tens of thousands of parents?’ how about changing subjects and saying ‘On the subject of car safety, why would anyone trust the car manufacturers against tens of thousands of drivers?’ It is the Federal Government that researches and enforces safety regulations but I bet that you have no problem getting behind the wheel of your car, even though you know that there are tens of thousands killed in car crashes each year in the US. Look man, because of anti-vaxxers you are getting diseases that were on the way out the door like measles, typhus and god knows what else. Read up on what it was like with these diseases before vaccines, especially polio, and ask yourself is it really worth the candle to go back to that era because ‘gubmint’?

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        I support the use of vaccines especially as I know of people, like myself, who suffered because a vaccine was not available for a particular disease. I also think that because of the growing corruption, regulatory capture, and general lack of new vaccines and antibiotics because it is not profitable enough, it will not improve until after a major pandemic or three. Rather like climate change, too much money and distrust is involved.

        Reply
    5. Oregoncharles

      Not sure whom to reply to, so I’ll reply to Mark. I see some difficult moral complexity here.

      First, I agree that vaccines are medically indispensable; they and public hygiene are the main reasons we now have such a low death rate. And It’s well established that vaccines did NOT cause autism, primarily by taking the mercury out of most vaccines, with no effect on the rate of autism – it kept on going up, and nobody yet knows why. But by doing that, they also admitted that the mercury shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.

      And here’s the moral complexity: by injecting babies with mercury, one of the worst neurotoxins, they violated the trust of millions of parents. Me, among many others. Maybe they got away with it and no physical harm was done; as far as I can tell, nobody knows. But a very great harm was done: lots of people don’t trust vaccines. And letting a doctor inject your baby with substances you don’t really understand takes a lot of trust. Is it clear that this is an emotional, not a technical point?

      So arguably, the present measles outbreak, which is far too close to the upper Willamette Valley, is a result of a bad technical decision generations ago.

      And we still don’t know what the mercury actually did, if anything (does anyone know of a study on the subject? There are readily available controls, the 7th Day Adventists), nor what is causing the continuing (according to the CDC) increase in autism.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Please stop with anti-vaxxer talk. I hate to sound harsh, but these people are dangerous and either dishonest or fools. They practice the sort of anti-science, anti-government libertarianism you see in climate change denialists.

        Thimerosal is not “mercury”. It’s a chemical with mercury as part of the structure:

        C9H9HgNaO2S

        There’s no evidence that Thimerosal decomposes so that you get free mercury. And Thimerosal is used in other medicines with no evidence of harm.

        Thimerosal was nevertheless phased out for vaccines starting in 1999, likely as a result of the fraudulent 1998 paper asserting a link between vaccines and autism.

        If you want to worry about mercury, worry about tuna, swordfish, dental amalgam, and coal fired electrical plants. Here is one source on airborne mercury risks:

        Emissions of Mercury into the Air

        Mercury becomes a problem for the environment when it it is released from rock and ends up in the atmosphere and in water. These releases can happen naturally. Both volcanoes and forest fires send mercury into the atmosphere.

        Human activities, however, are responsible for much of the mercury that is released into the environment. The burning of coal, oil and wood as fuel can cause mercury to become airborne, as can burning wastes that contain mercury.

        This airborne mercury can fall to the ground in raindrops, in dust, or simply due to gravity (known as “air deposition”). The amount of mercury deposited in a given area depends on how much mercury is released from local, regional, national, and international sources.
        Emissions from Power Plants

        Since mercury occurs naturally in coal and other fossil fuels, when people burn these fuels for energy, the mercury becomes airborne and goes into the atmosphere. In the United States, power plants that burn coal to create electricity are the largest source of emissions; they account for about 42 percent of all manmade mercury emissions (Source: 2014 National Emissions Inventory, version 1, Technical Support Document (December 2016)(PDF)(discussion starts on page 2-25 of the PDF document).

        https://www.epa.gov/mercury/basic-information-about-mercury

        Reply
        1. rd

          States and USEPA have lots of fish consumption advisories, often in “pristine” waters due to airborne contaminants as well as the legacy of acid rain leaching metals from natural soils and bedrock. An example of this is the NYSDEC interactive fish consumption advisory map: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/health_advisories/

          You can click on areas like the Adirondacks (historically low industrialization and urbanization) to see how widespread our pollution is.

          Unfortunately, the price that the anti-vaxxer community is going to pay will be the death or serious illness of infants and people with compromised immune systems. For a long time the anti-vaxxers had a free ride because they were protected by the herd immunity but their propaganda has slowly been reducing the herd immunity so that serious outbreaks are now starting.

          The major vaccinations have been a huge “free lunch” for the world as we have largely wiped out or dramatically reduced many devastating diseases at low cost, both financially and risk-wise.That largely makes “old people” diseases likely cardio-vascular and cancer diseases the next major frontier while a century ago many people didn’t make it to the age where those mattered because of the lack of vaccination and antibiotics.

          Reply
  21. Howard Beale IV

    A contrarian view to the Little Free Library movement: https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/05/the-case-against-little-free-libraries/523533/

    Schmidt says that, in 2014, she found a kindred spirit—Jordan Hale, an original cataloguer and reference specialist for the University of Toronto who was also putting “hot takes out on Twitter on Little Free Libraries.” They shared an observation: They only noticed Little Free Libraries in Toronto’s wealthier neighborhoods.*

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I have noticed the same thing here in Tucson. If it is a well-off neighborhood, there’s a good chance that it has a Little Free Library.

      Reply
    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      lol. my Library (some 4000-5000 books and such) is housed in a beat up trailerhouse in the woods with screech owls and squirrels living in the walls.
      Those walls(and the necessary evictions) are on the agenda for late spring, when the respective babies are old enough to handle a move.
      I don’t advertise the existence of this library, but will lend a book in exchange for a compromising picture.(this method works better than nickle fines, I’ve found)
      Sadly, I don’t know anyone in real life that is interested in the stuff I’ve gathered there–.

      Reply
    1. integer

      Yeah, that clip from Amanpour’s interview with Blair is really something. Notice how Blair says “I’ll be meeting with three of my presidents from Africa”. Three of his presidents from Africa? His choice of words betrays his colonial mindset.

      Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    1MDB Scandal Could Hit Pay for Goldman Execs, Including Lloyd Blankfein Wall Street Journal
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Alt-A title:

    Bank robbery suspects might have getaway loot pay lessened.

    Reply
  23. marym

    2/1/2019: ACLU @ACLU

    BREAKING: Tonight the Trump administration filed documents that don’t dispute the recent report that there may have been thousands more separated kids. They’re arguing it would take too long to figure out where those kids are because they have no tracking system.
    7:07 PM – 1 Feb 2019

    This response is a shocking concession that the government can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them.

    We will be back in court on February 21.
    7:07 PM – 1 Feb 2019

    01/31/2019: ICE told hundreds of immigrants to show up to court Thursday — for many, those hearings are fake

    Immigration attorneys in Chicago, Miami, Texas, and Virginia told CBS News their clients or their colleagues’ clients were issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for hearings scheduled Jan. 31. The attorneys learned the dates weren’t real when they called the courts to confirm. ICE is required to include court dates with court notices, per a Supreme Court decision last summer, but most don’t actually reflect scheduled hearings.

    One effect of this: The NTAs could block an immigrant’s eligibility for “cancellation of removal,” a legal residency status granted to some undocumented immigrants after 10 uninterrupted years of living in the U.S. A NTA, even without a hearing date, would interrupt the 10-year “clock,” said Jeremy McKinney, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based immigration attorney, in a telephone interview with CBS News.

    Reply
  24. diptherio

    The donkey is a sweetheart, for the record. The llamas, not so much. Pretty stand-offish creatures. Not threatening, necessarily, just aloof.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve never seen a llama on the trail in the Sierra Nevada, although it appears there’s a few places in the north that offer ‘them as ‘pack’ animals on backcountry excursions.

      I’d guess the standoff-ish nature, has a lot to do with it, eh?

      Reply
      1. barefoot charley

        I used to do an external property inspection back in the woods, which the owner had surrounded with a chain-link fence containing a great dane and a llama. Here in Nor Cal we know about watch-llamas, and the thing did dutifully spit at me when I tried to rub his nose through the fence. While the great dane would wriggle under the fence, leap on me, and lick *my* nose. That’s what I know about llamas.

        Reply
    2. brook trout

      But llama have great poo. The carbon nitrogen ratio (26:1 or so) is almost precisely that of finely finished compost. Better yet, no random meadow muffins, as they pick a spot and use it, which makes collecting quite easy.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        well now! good manure, collected for you!
        it’s hard to find good manure out here…nobody stables their horses…and those few that do have hard to clean stable design…and the abundant cow manure at the 3 feedlots is contaminated with persistent herbicide and full of live bermuda grass.
        do they get along with donkeys?

        Reply
    3. Brooklin Bridge

      I’ve seen Llamas, in particular a llama protecting sheep from coyotes and I definitely didn’t hanker to bother it or the sheep in its charge. Llamas look like they mean business and they are both bigger and taller than the average person by a good bit.

      Reply
  25. anon in so cal

    Twitter suspending accounts of posters criticizing Kamala Harris’ record?

    “Twitter this week suspends at least two accounts suspected of troll-like behavior targeting presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris of California as well as other Democratic candidates.

    The accounts were created recently and had few followers. But they posted easily shareable content about the senator’s record as a prosecutor that earned an outsized audience on the platform.

    One of those accounts claims to belong to a black man in the South who opposes Harris and supports Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is exploring a presidential run of his own.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/01/twitter-has-suspended-suspected-troll-accounts-posting-anti-kamala-harris-content-.html?__source=twitter%7Cmain

    Reply
  26. Pookah Harvey

    Concerning snow: ” Of course, Buffalo, New York gets way worse every winter.”
    Why does Buffalo always get credit for snow. I grew up in Syracuse.
    Annual snow
    Buffalo: 96.1 inches
    Syracuse: 126.3 inches
    When it comes to snow all I can do is paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield ” We don’t get no respect”

    Reply
  27. Cal2

    Little Free Libraries, what a wonderful civic improvement.
    I’ve noticed that in the Bay Area they are becoming a place where people leave things other than books for people to use.

    For example, a cardboard box with electrical outlets still in the package, a couple of cooking pots and some tools.

    This is an example of how good ideas lead to other good ideas. If every city block had a designated place like this on it, think of the amount of money, energy and materials that would be saved?

    Reply
  28. Morgan Everett

    So reading “Howard Schultz may be even more dangerous than Trump” and saw this paragraph:

    No third-party candidate can win the presidency, even if he’s Theodore Roosevelt. All Schultz can do is siphon votes away from the Democratic ticket, much as Jill Stein did in 2016. Stein, we now know, was a useful idiot for the Russians in their scheme to help facilitate Trump’s victory. Schultz may be less innocent. In recent years, Starbucks has been making deals in Russia, where its outlets have proliferated. For all we know, there was a plan to place a Starbucks in Trump’s ill-fated Moscow Trump Tower to match the one in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Time for another Steele dossier!

    This is one of the better examples I’ve seen of Poe’s law.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      If the race is so close that the whole 5 votes that Schultz manages to garner become the deciding factor, the democrats have a bigger problem than Schultz.

      Please, pundits, don’t oversell this guy. He’s so appealing on his own. /s

      Reply
  29. Wukchumni

    Got talked into doing another flatwater kayak trip on the Colorado River in late-April consisting of 6, not that I needed much mental gyration to hit my favorite set of slot canyon hot springs. I’ll be the token male on the journey down river. We went in the spring 4 or 5 years ago at the same time and saw baby Desert Bighorn Sheep only a few feet long & months old, gamboling on gains of chance en route to cliffs too precipitous to ponder other than visually.

    We won’t be affected by the Colorado shrinking, as we put in about 1/2 mile below Hoover Dam and the flow is regulated pretty much, but the states scrambling for their piece of the ever shrinking pie?

    Arizona had long been the stumbling block in passing the drought plan, but they got religion late in the proceedings.

    Not that it changes anything, if you don’t get the necessary amount of snow/rain upriver to replace what’s taken out.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Arizona lawmakers may have felt great relief Thursday after passing the Colorado River drought plan just hours before a federal deadline.

    But state conservationists and water-policy experts say this is not the time to relax, not when water managers are expected to declare the river’s first shortage next year — even with the drought plan in place.

    Almost 20 years of drought, rising temperatures and chronic overuse have strained Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Colorado. Following a shortage declaration, which could come as early as January, Arizona would have to reduce its use of Colorado River water by 18 percent.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2019/02/01/what-is-next-arizona-after-passing-colorado-river-drought-plan/2748320002/

    Reply
    1. Pookah Harvey

      They will be the right kind of refineries if Bolton successfully installs Guaido. Let the heavy CHEAP crude flow.

      Reply
  30. mikef

    As childhood vaccination has pushed the average age of infection into the older age groups, adolescents and adults have been exposed to new and historically unprecedented risks. One study suggests that lapsed vaccine immunity has led to negative outcomes that are 4.5 times worse for measles, 2.2 times worse for chickenpox and 5.8 times worse for rubella, compared to the pre-vaccine era. The various forms of vaccine failure not only make herd immunity impossible to achieve but also feed the occurrence of “vaccine-preventable illnesses” in highly or even fully vaccinated populations.

    There are numerous examples of this in the published literature.
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2019/herd-immunity-a-false-rationale-for-vaccine-mandates/

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      Beautiful video of a white whale. Some could, and would, give spiritual and prophetic meaning to its being here and appearing to people. I am not a Lakota ,or an expert , in this interpretation of it having great portent that is based on the White Buffalo narrative of the Lakota native people ( and other native nations in our country). I have read : The Lakota have in their history, that long ago, in a hot summer, the people were hungry. Some hunters went into the Black Hills to search for buffalo. A beautiful, young woman appeared in front of them. She gave them a sacred pipe, taught them about the interconnectedness of all life on Mother Earth and to walk the prayerful and good path. She rolled on the ground, turned different colors and ended as a white buffalo calf. Her promise was that when she appeared again to the people, as white calf ,there would be abundance and the ending of struggle. The hunters soon saw the buffalo back in great numbers. Maybe, in these Times, the White Whale can be a source of good portent for us. Sometimes I am a dreamer…

      Reply
  31. Keith M

    ‘Corporate arts patrons deserve praise not blame’Thread Reader (martha r). Critique of Financial Times op-ed. Doesn’t mention the appalling development that institutions that used to be free or have very low entry charges are now too expensive for low income people to visit, and it’s a special event even for middle class families.

    One good thing about St Louis is that the St Louis Art Museum is still free to all. However, they do charge for the special exhibitions as does the The Missouri History Museum also in St Louis. The St Louis Zoo is free, but tickets for special shows or features have to be paid for. This is despite all of these institutions being publicly supported. Naturally that public support is via a regional sales tax, the most regressive of taxes.

    Reply
  32. Conrad

    This links nicely to the Theranos article. The best and brightest of the military leadership were taken in by a painfully obvious fraud. And how did a bunch of career military men end up with enough cash to play venture capitalist in the first place?

    It seems likely that the whole military system is in thrall to a magical belief in the wonders of technology and hopelessly corrupt as well.

    Reply
  33. cripes

    If Maduro is such a repressive dictator, as NPR and their “man on the street whose name we can’t reveal” vignettes would have us believe, why are Guaido and his crew parading in the streets today unmolested by tear gas or abductions?

    I can just imagine Bernie Sanders, funded by Russian dollars owed to USA creditors, wearing his “Interim President” hat parading down Pennsylvania Ave calling for the extra-constitutional ouster of the current resident.

    Then you’ll see repression.

    I even wonder, despite the severe economic crisis and sanctions, why none of the “3 million” Venezuelan refugees we are constantly reminded of aren’t banging on the Wall, swimming the Rio Grande, or granted asylum like Cubans are?

    Catapault the propaganda.

    Just seems off.

    Reply
  34. The Rev Kev

    Just the other day they had two Venezuelan soldiers appear on TV – deserters they claimed – asking for weapons and support to go in and help topple Maduro. But that narrative quickly fell apart when it was noted that the Venezuelan “soldiers” were wearing uniforms with tags on that had not been worn by the Venezuelan army in about a decade. Then doubts arose where these two goons were actually living and if, in fact, they were even soldiers or just actors.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey, I just discovered an interest tid-bit of history. So that muppet Juan Guaido declared himself interim President of Venezuela, right? There is a precedent for this sort of self-advancement. Cubans will remember the last authoritarian ruler of Cuba who was called Fulgencio Batista. That is, before Castro gave him the boot. Well, he got his start in politics in 1933 when he was simply Sergeant Fulgencio Batista. He led the 1933 Revolt of the Sergeants which overthrew the government whereupon he then appointed himself chief of the armed forces with the rank of Colonel. How about that. Guaido might be jumping the gun a bit here though-

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulgencio_Batista

        I can see why the Cubans hated him so. Check out the section https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fulgencio_Batista#Relationship_with_organized_crime

        Reply
  35. Ray Johnson

    % saudi heavy crude? I was under the impression saudi was lite crude, as in “saudi no heat”, this from someone who would know. Is the story lacking accuracy ?

    Reply

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