Links 2/27/19

Fat rat saved from manhole by German animal rescue BBC

Zebra’s stripes are a no fly zone for flies The Conversation (J-LS)

Snake on a plane goes 9,300 miles from Australia to Scotland in woman’s shoe Guardian. Chorus: “But it’s a nice snake!”

NASA Study Reproduces Origins of Life on Ocean Floor NASA (David L)

NASA was able to recreate the ‘origins of life’ and the results are shocking Fox News (David L)

Doomsday Clock Scientists Say the Army’s Portable Nuclear Reactor Is a Disaster Waiting To Happen Popular Mechanics

Australia paying dearly for its drug abuse Asia Times (Kevin W)


How U.S. bike companies are steering around Trump’s China tariffs Reuters (resilc)

Top Chinese officials plagiarised doctoral dissertations Financial Times


India vs Pakistan: Military strength and arsenal Al Jazeera (resilc)

Pakistan says it has shot down India air force jet Financial Times


Public backs Brexit extension — but only if it’s short Politico. See both this bit: “People will accept an extension either to continue the negotiations or ratify the deal, but not to hold a general election or a second Brexit referendum.” Shows both very low support for no deal (14%) but also surprisingly low for a second referendum (17%). But notice emotionally laden wording of questions….

Not to OD on Politico, but this bit from the European morning newsletter summarizes a paywalled story:

EU RESPONSE: If the U.K. asks to extend the Brexit deadline, the EU will likely agree — with strings attached, reports Jacopo Barigazzi for POLITICO Brexit Pros. “Exactly what price the U.K. might be forced to pay has yet to be fully debated — let alone decided — in Brussels. But some diplomats said that Britain should be required to commit to a long-term postponement that would force London to participate in this spring’s European Parliament election — a demand that could potentially infuriate hard-line Brexiteers,” Jacopo writes. “Another idea is that the U.K. be put on notice that only one extension would be permitted as a way to prevent Britain from repeatedly requesting more time.”

Appalling disloyalty’, tears of rage and kamikaze RemainersInside the remarkable Brexit Cabinet meeting Telegraph

Independent Group table second referendum amendment to ‘break Brexit gridlock‘ Independent

German Europe minister says UK must propose something new to justify any Brexit delay Reuters. Not Merkel but still….

Northern Ireland proof that extending deadlines won’t help to clinch deal, claims Foster Belfast Telegraph

Leave campaign to sue if Brexit is delayed Metro. One of our regulars (please take a bow!) suggested they could see the Brexiteers suing for representation in the hated European Parliament in the event of an extension. That was meant as a joke, if I recall correctly, but it has still proven to be prescient.

Big Short’s Eisman Ups U.K. Short Bets to Three Banks on Brexit

GET OUT OF JAIL CARD Brussels is set to offer Theresa May a backstop ‘out’ in a last-ditch bid to help save her Brexit deal The Sun. Appears to come entirely from UK sources despite the drafting to create the impression otherwise. The tell is the positive bit about “alternative arrangements” which the EU has repeatedly rejected and not tried hard to disguise its annoyance with the vaporware pitch.


Marco Rubio Is So Pumped Up About Venezuela He Just Tweeted a Snuff Film Mother Jones. Resilc: “This is why noko will NEVER give up nukes.”

VIDEO: The Real Humanitarian Aid: Inside Venezuela’s State-Subsidized Communal Markets The Grayzone

New Cold War

Russian state TV shows map of potential US nuclear targets Guardian


Zarif’s Resignation and Our Bankrupt Iran Policy American Conservative (resilc)

Israeli Bulldozers uproot 300 Palestinian-Owned Trees near Jenin Juan Cole

How the UAE is Poaching Our Intelligence Operatives, Legally American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Tech industry titans suddenly love internet privacy rules. Wanna know why? We’ll tell you The Register (Chuck L)

The Senate Commerce Committee is demanding answers from Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the company’s failure to disclose a microphone inside Nest home security devices Business Insider (David L)

Trump Transition

Capitol Hill braces for Cohen fireworks The Hill

Cohen testimony on Trump: ‘He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.’ Politico

House Votes to Block Trump’s National Emergency for Border Wall Bloomberg

AT&T Wins Fight With US Over Purchase of Time Warner Reuters


2020 Will See a Monumental Clash Over America’s Place in the World New York Times. Resilc: “Both parties od’d USA USA on this exceptionalism line for decades and we can’t go cold turkey without some narcan.”

Top advisers to Bernie Sanders, including one with ties to Paul Manafort, just abruptly left his 2020 campaign Business Insider

Dance With The One That Brought You— BERNIE! But Brace, NPR Will Red-Bait Your Dance Card DownWithTryanny! (Skip)

It’s the Economy, Stupid Again American Prospect (resilc)

The Coming Socialist President? American Conservative (resilc)

Bernie Sanders criticised for private plane travel during 2016 election by Hillary Clinton aides Independent

Green New Deal

That “Green Dream, or Whatever They Call It” Data For Progress (UserFriendly)

NYC Tunnel Closing Would Cut Home Values by $20 Billion, Study Says Bloomberg

Why Goodwill (Not Udacity, EdX Or Coursera) May Be The World’s Biggest MOOC Forbes (David L)

Harvard attacks a defense attorney for doing his job: Ronald Sullivan could be penalized for daring to represent Harvey Weinstein New York Daily News (Brian C)

An Amtrak train with 183 passengers was stranded in the snow for more than 36 hours. Here’s what it was like inside. Business Insider (Kevin W)

SALT Cap Will Leave Nearly 10.9 Million People Feeling Tax Pain Bloomberg

Wall Street Loses Faith In Shale OilPrice

Elon Musk is in Twitter trouble yet again Recode

Krugman vs Kelton on the fiscal-monetary tradeoff Lars P. Syll

Class Warfare

Senators Press Drug-Company Executives Over Prices Wall Street Journal

Antidote du jour. Courtesy Timotheus:

By Jiries Issa Atrash, taken in the vicinity of Arab al-Rashayida, a village in the desert 12km east of Jerusalem.

Camel mother protecting newborn calf from rainstorm.

And a bonus by Rob T:

Taken with a cell phone at my office building. This was taken on a -40C day over a week ago – these pigeons are a mainstay during the season and every day I see them steaming.

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Chris Cosmos

      Great interview of a clear-thinking, urbane, civilized man. He can actually refer to history which is why I don’t think he would ever be interviewed in the USA or even the British media. Worth watching.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps it’s not so hopeless that there are still men, and women, who will speak up against their own countries, not just the US or the UK, but Turkey, India, China, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela,etc.

    1. John A

      I live half the year at the Med end of the Canal du Midi, on the Etang de Thau. Maybe your wife and her team can try their hand at Joute when they arrive, similar to medieval knights jousting on horse back except on rowing boats with a built up stern, plus drummer, trumpeter etc. The losers end up in the water. Great fun.

      1. skippy

        I’ll pass it on John, she’ll be in Paris [Montparnesse] a few nights and then onto the rallye with a few other rowers from Queensland. Having a experienced Paramedic around might be helpful it sounds.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Saw that myself once in Namur, Belgium and it did look like great fun. They had this guy in a fancy uniform in a rowboat to pick up the losers from the water as well. They were smaller boats than what the big boys used but the principal was the same. Here is a clip of the big boys at work-

      3. Trick Shroade

        How do you swing half the year in the south of France? If you wouldn’t mind sharing some details I’m sure there are others who are curious!

      4. Oregoncharles

        Native Americans along the Columbia used to use the very same game to settle disputes, usually one side of the river vs. the other. Very much as NE natives used lacrosse. And speaking of injuries: those games were in place of war, and there were plenty.

    2. vidimi

      i did the canal du midi by bike a few years ago. very enjoyable. are you starting or ending in toulouse?

  1. el_tel

    re Aussie “official” access to drugs. Yep, chimes with my experience. Whilst seeing secondary care docs in areas like mental health suggests it is undoubtedly streets ahead of my experience in my native UK (and marginally ahead of Sweden, where I also lived), their lackadaisical attitudes towards prescribing is, in hindsight, very worrying. For example pregabalin, when I was first prescribed it for generalised anxiety disorder, was NOT licensed for that in Aus: as my doc told me, “we pretty much follow the EU and they’ve OKed it so that’s OK”. Reeeeeeally?! We know now that it’s a double edged sword and the UK is reclassifying it next month.

    Given relatively easy access to shrinks in Aus compared to a lot of similar developed countries, I can well believe that a lot of patients are put on opioids and other meds with mental health implications. Official oxycodone and fentanyl prescriptions, as primary drivers, don’t surprise me at all. I was both pleased and concerned at the latitude secondary care docs could prescribe various meds that are “controversial”. Pleased because I think the UK under-prescribed, concerned because I thought docs in Aus seemed to give ’em out like sweeties far too much.

    Aus abandoned its slip slop slap campaign once the evidence showed it was excessive: yeah you won’t get melanoma but welcome to higher rates of MS and other conditions. Now they thankfully adopt a much more nuanced campaign intended to make people get some vitamin D from sunlight but don’t burn. All sensible stuff and the “happy middle”. Can’t help thinking mental health has to do the same with the drugs mentioned….

  2. Huey

    Very good AOC thread RE: AOC this am.

    Must say I have to agree that it’s annoying how no one chooses to go into business with these ‘bureaus’, yet they end up with all of your info anyway. I did not know that there barely ever verified the reports, unless asking you to pay for them first.

    Also, there’s an extra ‘a’ in the beginning of the url for the Zebra article, still, it is a very interesting article. Nice to finally have that question answered after so many years.

    1. Roger Smith

      Huey, come on, there are plenty of tools available to the consumer with which they can command great control over, or even freeze, their data. It cannot be helped it if the consumer chooses not to exercise these innovative tools. Everything is up to some natural force we cannot control.

      Didn’t you read the user agreement and terms of service? Did you spend hours digging through some web page account yet for settings yet? Why it’s almost as if this is a feature and not a bug!

      1. jsn

        You just neglected to click the non-existent opt-out button.

        You either forgo the ability to rent a car, check into some hotels or otherwise deal with the world of digital transactions, also being foisted on you without your consent, or you “agree to the terms and conditions”.

        Money is the most coercive agreement (and that’s all it really is) you’ll likely ever enter into.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Because those agrements are so lengthy and often obtuse, the issue is not quite ‘without consent,’ but more ‘without informed consent.’

          It’s also less about ‘without consent,’ but more about the lack of other options, if one doesn’t consent.

          If you refuse to give your, say, social security number, will your doctor still see you, or the apartment manager lease/rent to you?

          1. Oh

            The system is hopeless rigged. Who gave the credit agencies the right to your data? Don’t answer that. I remember now..our wonderful Congress.

      2. Skip Intro

        And there is usually a little clause that reserves the right to change the agreement unilaterally, perhaps without notification. How is that even considered a contract?

        1. Roger Smith

          Hah! Of course, how could I forget. From what I have read in the past, forced agreements like ToS, if challenged, have near zero legal standing.

          1. Procopius

            Every year or so I get a few pages from Bank of America telling me about changes they have made to my credit card “agreement.” I opened the credit card about forty-five years ago when I was the customer of a small Virginia bank. They got bought out by a larger local bank, and they got bought by a regional bank, and they got bought out by a larger regional bank and all that time these new owners honored the original no-fee checking account promise. Then they were bought out by Bank of America who said they would honor the agreement if I would produce the original agreement. It’s been downhill ever since. I hate Bank of America.

    2. Lee

      Zebra article, still, it is a very interesting article. Nice to finally have that question answered after so many years.

      This may or may not be the case with Zebras but high color contrast stripes often serve as a warning to would be attackers that the bearer of such markings is toxic or otherwise dangerous. Although Zebras, like other equines, are physically suitable for domestication as beasts of burden, they would as soon kill you or die trying rather than carry you or your load.

      One theory has it that the reason for the paucity of domesticated species originating in sub-Saharan Africa is that the fear of humans among animals in that region is more deeply ingrained than elsewhere because our earliest hunting ancestors co-evolved with the prey species there.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I recall vaguely watching a documentary something about bees, I think, reacting (I don’t remember in what way though) to contrasting stripes as well.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Here’s a little framing related to the credit bureaus I’d like to see get some traction.

      The credit bureaus exist to provide reports to businesses so that they can assess risk. Businesses would like to reduce risk as much as possible to avoid volatility in their revenue streams which could put them out of business, with the credit bureaus being just one means of doing so. We also have implicit bailouts, tax avoidance, legal or otherwise, and any number of other methods discussed at NC.

      So what business is looking for and in large part getting, with the help of Uncle Sugar, is a Basic Income Guarantee.

      With the notion of a BIG or JG starting to get more mention, perhaps it’s time to point out that this already exists for the corporate world?

      1. Shonde

        Basic income guarantee=farming is the best example. Take a look at the farm bill and then look at the various tax deductions and credits. Dairy is probably the absolute best example since the government even buys the surplus. Oh, and sugar beets.

        So good point, lab. And all those farmers think welfare is horrible: for other people.

    1. Terry Humphrey

      The experience in Missouri is the Republican-dominated legislature quickly acts to reverse these people-driven
      successes such as they did with Puppy Mills and Right To Work.

      1. Carla

        Oh yeah I know& they’ll do that in Ohio too. But oddly enough, there are more and more people in this state who want clean drinking water. When the whole city of Toledo was without water for 3 days in 2014, it was a wake-up call.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “Critics Roast the Army’s Battlefield Nuclear Reactor”

    Actually I think that the Army is onto something here. It is a brilliant idea and solves the need for power in front-line bases. Just to complete it, all they need now is force-field emitters for auto-regenerative deflector shields to be powered by that battlefield nuclear generator to protect it. Otherwise you might have those battlefield nuclear reactors hit by RPGs or high-explosive artillery rounds or maybe even a suicide truck full of explosives. That would be disastrous that as it would irradiate all those troops on that base and all the equipment there. That would be horrible.

    1. Skip Intro

      Well if you follow the history of nuclear power generation, you know that ‘civilian’ nuclear power was just a cover for weapons material generation facilities. I think this new incarnation of power generation would serve very well as a way to use a nuclear ‘weapon’ on a distant battlefield, without the international stigma of a nuclear first strike…
      “The base was being overrun, then ooops once our military advisers, trainers, and supporting personnel were evac’d the insurgents must have accidentally cut the coolant lines. We regret the meltdown, apparent prompt criticality, and subsequent civilian casualties and contamination of , but the blame lies with the insurgents”.

      And with this in mind, it would also form a certain deterrent against local insurgents or even the allied host (puppet) government, should it become uppity and get serious in its demands that the US troops leave the country.

      1. Skip Intro

        darn, it was supposed to be contamination of [oil-producing country], but I used angle brackets, and it was swallowed as an unknown HTML tag.

        1. Cal2

          Diabolical man,

          Reminds me of Goldfinger’s plan to irradiate the gold in Fort Knox to raise the value of his gold holdings elsewhere.

          That’s a James Bond film from the early 1960s for you whelps.

          1. Skip Intro

            Who could forget Oddjob and Pussy Galore? Cool thing is, back then, I imagine only a vanishingly small fraction of the bullion was gold-plated tungsten. And so naive, as if people wouldn’t want gold just because it is radioactive… how much would the gold price really rise? a few percent? The Hunt bros. could do better. And those gold-backed dollars would rise right along with it. Great film!

            1. Wukchumni

              As many Indians own the precious, as few Americans do…

              What would become of all that glitters in case Pakistan makes it ultra-glittery via nuke?

              1. The Rev Kev

                Imagine if some country irradiated the oil-producing sectors of Saudi Arabia so that all that oil was totally out of reach for the next coupla tens of thousands of years? Saw that mentioned in a book called “The Crash of ’79” by Paul Erdman.

      2. JBird4049

        Well if you follow the history of nuclear power generation, you know that ‘civilian’ nuclear power was just a cover for weapons material generation facilities.

        The unsafe and expensive reactors being used are a result of the desire for nuclear fuel for bombs. There were cheaper and safer reactors designed, and I think one or two were even built as tests, but those reactors wouldn’t help build any bombs. So Chernobyl and Fukushima happened.


    2. Carolinian

      If they want to save some money they might check if Georgia Tech’s old reactor is sitting in storage somewhere. This was a one megawatt research reactor that once sat smack in the middle of Atlanta.

      Of course the Army’s brilliant plan to move a nuclear reactor to where the terrorists can more easily get to it demonstrates how the Duffel Blog is more documentary than satire.

      1. Eureka Springs

        So let me get this straight, we place a military position or base and a reactor in a foreign country, but somehow we are not the terrorist but others are…

        1. RMO

          The U.S. Army has had a pretty big nuclear power program already:

          Longest running being the barge-mounted plant used in the Panama Canal Zone for about ten years.

          In terms of cost and risk it was as nothing compared to the U.S. Air Force’s aircraft nuclear propulsion program, though the poor engineering, design, construction and maintenance of the SL-1 resulted in the Army program being the one to have a pretty terrible accident.

    3. Wukchumni

      I’m wondering when micro nuclear reactor technology will be all the rage among those that covet the slim black rectangle which bears a lot of resemblance to the monolith in 2001-A Space Odyssey, no need for battery charges again!

          1. ambrit

            Are you stringing us along? If so, you can call me ‘Plane Baffled.’
            We need an update of an old classic. Let’s call it {X, Y, Z, Null.} by ‘B. Square.’ (A lineal descendant of the Author of the original formulation.)
            This being the NC comments section, I’ll expect a strong Tesseraction to my thesis on many fonts.

            1. ambrit

              I am remiss in my Authorial Genealogy. It seems that A Square’s brother, named B Square, suffered an unfortunate early demise for political reasons some years ago. So, we are forced to apply to the distaff side of the Author’s family line, the Clefs, a note-able branch of the family, for an appropriate author. (If you were to remark that my usage of ‘family line’ in the preceding sentence was ‘irregular’ and ‘one sided,’ I would be forced to concede the point.)

    4. Phillip Allen

      Or, the equally amusing chance that the device could be captured and used for ‘nefarious activities’? These new toys will be an endless font of possibilities.

        1. Wukchumni

          I have one of the last Toyota trucks made in the USA, and a nuclear reactor mounted on the bed would do wonders for my crummy gas mileage, becquerels notwithstanding.

      1. a different chris

        It’s not a “chance”, it’s a carefully inserted part of the design! If you can’t get some furriners loaded up with sufficient weaponry, how you gonna scare the folks back home?

        Afghanistan was a great test of seeding US military weapons in a spot where you just knew that someday they would be used against us. It has worked beyond the war-mongers wildest dreams, Catch-22 now seems understated compared to real life.

  4. Roger Smith

    A few things, it is notable that the Guardian piece on Russian nuke targets doesn’t contain the said image. Trust them, it happened.

    In more disturbing news, the government fails us again by allowing the ATT/Time Warner merger. I wish I could see the historian’s face decades from now that reads:

    AT&T Inc emerged victorious on Tuesday over the Trump administration’s drawn-out attempts to block its $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner…

    “Wait… Trump the demon clan member? Right hand of the darklord??” Even funnier is the record of his predecessors in this area. “Hey, at least this guy tried.”

    Now we see one of the reasons why CNN has spent so long manufacturing news about Trump and his attacks on them, the Acosta ploy, etc… they were fabricating drama for an edge in this merger. Hamming up the romantic story about some phony personal vendetta. Turn up the signal, wipe out the noise.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    India vs Pakistan: Military strength and arsenal Al Jazeera (resilc)

    Pakistan says it has shot down India air force jet Financial Times

    I don’t think either side are particularly serious about this – its more Modi in electioneering mode, but this is clearly something that could spill out of control. A key problem is that it seems both countries have persuaded themselves that they can use tactical nukes to gain an advantage. The Pakistanis in particular, with a smaller army, may feel they can and should use nukes if they look like losing.

    What I find curious is that the photos of the downed Indian plane clearly show a Mig-21. This is by far the oldest and least capable aircraft in their air force in terms of being able to avoid getting shot down – its also used mostly as an interceptor, not in ground attack. This doesn’t indicate a particularly well planned operation, unless the Pakistani’s faked the crash site using a Mig of their own.

    1. vlade

      Yep, Fishbed (well, Bison, Indian upgraded variant) is a pretty damn old plane, although the Indian upgrades make is till somewhat relevant and not just a sitting duck. But it very much depends on the pilot, and I doubt they put their best pilots in this.

      But since India already demands the return of the captured pilot, I don’t think it was a fake.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, it looks genuine, I just don’t see why you would throw Bisons into a combat zone with F-16’s in defence when you have much better alternatives. According to Wikipedia, the attack featured Mirage 2000’s and Su-30’s.

        Its possible I suppose the Pakistani’s used the confusion to lure some patrolling Bisons over the border and ambushed them. Getting their hands on a pilot gives a big advantage now to the Pakistanis.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          WIll this lead to more money from India going to Russia’s military industry, if and when they replace those old Bisons?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The Bisons were Indian made (not very well apparently, they were known as death traps for the pilots). The Indians are determined to build up their own aviation industry, but they’ve been struggling as nobody is too keen to sell the most manufacturing technology.
            Modi signed what looks like a deeply corrupt deal with the French for Rafale multi-role fighters. They’ve also been trying to do a deal with the Russians for modern Sukhoi aircraft and have been jointly developing a Gen V fighter with Sukhoi for a version of the Su-57, but its not clear that this project is going anywhere.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Jeez – you weren’t kidding. Found the following on these aircraft-

              Since 1963, India has introduced more than 1,200 MiG fighters into its air force. As of 2019, 113 MiG-21s are known to be in operation in the IAF. However, the plane has been plagued by safety problems. Since 1970 more than 170 Indian pilots and 40 civilians have been killed in MiG-21 accidents. At least 14 MiG-21s have crashed between 2010 and 2013. Over half of the 840 aircraft built between 1966 and 1984 were lost to crashes.When in afterburner, the engine operates very close to its surge line and the ingestion of even a small bird can lead to an engine surge/seizure and flame out.


    2. Xquacy

      It looks like the Pakistanis have had a saner approach here, given that Modi’s in electioneering mode and given that India has previously made incursion through the borders. Further it is not clear at all that tactical nukes are at play here.

      From a purely domestic point of view, the capture of Indian pilot seems to have backfired with India conceding and making diplomatic overtures. If there was a gift to Modi to win this election, he might have just squandered with with overzelousness.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I think the Pakistanis have played this well.

        Reading MoA, my initial idea seems to have been right – the Migs were not involved in the attack (which used stand-off missiles, so the aircraft don’t seem to have gone over the border), but it looks like the Pakistanis managed to lure two patrolling Indian Migs over the border and then shot one down. The pilot is now a very strong pawn for the Pakistanis to play – hopefully they will use it to calm things down and allow them to save face. It is Modi who looks a little stupid over this.

  6. amfortas the hippie

    re nyt great power vs restraint.
    in all such discussions in msm and near msm, they never talk about even limited autarky. trade is always assumed to be an unmitigated good( my mind immediately goes to boatloads of usa and aussie sheep meat passing in the night on the high seas)
    i can see no reason that my meat just has to come from the antipodes

    1. Oregoncharles

      While I agree with you in principle (heck, I live in a lamb-rearing area), in this case, there is a reason: opposite seasons. Lamb, in particular, is highly seasonal. People just never convinced sheep not to give birth in the winter – such as now. The fields around here are full of new lambs. So you get yearlings in early spring.

      Not to say that justifies the energy expenditure, but there is some logic to it. Similarly for fresh fruit, coming from Chile and Argentina. But not wine, cheese, and the like; thos eare preserved.

      1. amfortas the hippie

        so its a tomato in january thing,lol
        how very first world.
        i understand it, of course… but thats exactly the sort of thing that must change.
        i wonder what the emissions footprint is–fridge/freezer vs flying all over the world.
        or vs my smokehouse for that matter(for instance:hog killin is in winter… one runs last of the regular ham in june…dry smoked stuff a lil later)

  7. The Rev Kev

    “The Senate Commerce Committee is demanding answers from Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the company’s failure to disclose a microphone inside Nest home security devices”

    You don’t think…it couldn’t be possible…could it be that more than a few members of that Senate Commerce Committee had actually installed Nest home security devices in their own homes previously? And now they are aware that everything that they said in the privacy of their own homes may now be sitting on a Google server somewhere? Maybe discussions of some very private deals being made?

    1. Synoia

      Alexa what is doing Senator with “????”

      “He is supporting it in private meeting and castigating it in Public”

      Alexa “How Long has my Senator been doing this?”

      “Since I was activated. Before that I have no information.”

      Alexa “What is Bezos connection to my Senator”

      “Dave, I cannot answer that question…Turning off the environment controls now,..Your car is now deactivated…You can only access Amazon on the Internet…Your Facebook pages now contain pictures of you and your virtual ex marital partner…you have 97 unpaid speeding and DUI tickets…you have quit you job and insulted you boss’s spouse…your bank account is no seized under r the ass-et forfeiture program…Have a nice day!”

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Krugman vs Kelton on the fiscal-monetary tradeoff ”

    Just for a minute I had my hopes up. I thought that they were both together here debating in person. Hmmmm. A debate between Paul Krugman and Stephanie Kelton on stage arguing about MMT. Can you imagine? I’d buy tickets to go see that.

  9. katiebird

    Why am I so anxious for Jayapal‘s bill to be introduced? It’s almost like Christmas morning…. except no presents are involved. I guess, I really want to read it for myself….

    1. Eureka Springs

      Beware of usurpers of HR 676 bearing gifts developed in secrecy. There were warnings on the twit yesterday that the new bill doesn’t eliminate insurance companies. Glad you will read it though.

      1. Carla

        Physicians for a National Health Program — — came out a few days ago in support of Prayapal’s bill, albeit saying it can be strengthened. For my money, PNHP has consistently been an honest broker for expanded, improved Medicare for All. I am a card-carrying member. (Non-physicians can belong for only $40 or $50 a year–can’t quite remember. Please consider joining.)

        Anyway, whatever PNHP supports, I support.

  10. Chris Cosmos

    On the Green New Deal story and its exploration into words that are used pro- and con-GND reflect most of the talking points used in the mainstream media. I think the progressive supporters of AOC, Sanders and others who are espousing free-college, universal health-care, UBI (Andrew Yang) or ANYTHING that benefits the non-rich and the society as a whole need to understand that Trump is absolutely correct in naming the media as, perhaps, public enemy number one. Progressives tend to swear by NPR, NYT and so on to give them accurate news–this simply isn’t true except in rare cases. All these outlets vigorously oppose those of us who are against imperialism and for trying to pull us out of this collective swoon into not only third-world status with lowered life-spans being at the bottom of the developed world in education, health and even worse a descent into aggressive nihilism led by the mainstream corporate media and most of the world of “think tanks” financed by corporate oligarchs.

    We have a chance, in 2020, with quite a few good candidates who actually care about human beings, our planet and the fate of civilization, to begin the process of radically reforming our society–many of the candidates are proposing policies that would do just that. Those of us who care about the future of this beautiful world and beautiful human beings must solidly reject the media Narrative in all areas as perhaps the most destructive forces in our lives. They cause pain and suffering particularly on those who lack the training to think logically (most of the population) who are being clearly manipulated by what I prefer to call State propaganda organs.

    Jimmy Dore, breaks it down a bit too finely when he, to his credit, defended Kamala Harris from the career factorum for the corporate oligarchy John King from “how are you going to pay for it” crap they lay on anyone who favors popular proposals but NEVER ask that same question about war, or aid to Israel, or even question clear and obvious (to those of us who have looked into this) corruption of Pentagon contracting.

  11. Ignacio

    RE:Bernie Sanders criticised for private plane travel during 2016 election by Hillary Clinton aides Independent

    This is quite typical. No problem if Clinton uses it but Bernie must travel in a scooter, you know. Exactly the same strategy by the same conservatives here in Spain. He also has a “brand new home”, horror!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I recall reading about Ayn Rand using government services in her life.

      The line of arugument there, and likely here, is primbarily about consistency with a position taken, and secondarily about whether the criticism is factually correct, and also the circumstances behind the acts criticized.

      In Rand’s case, perhaps her position could be modified to say that one should be self-reliance to the degree one is young and healthy enough to be so. And in old age, when one is not as able, help should be given. She never responded like that, as far as I know.

      As for flying private, if is a problem for Sanders, and not for Clinton, as it was a luxury. And he is not denying that, as far as I know. What about the circumstances under which he flew private? Here, I think a strong defense can be made that in 2016, there were many places to visit and the work required it.

      That response, though, can be used by anyone, and solely in his/her judgment, deems private plane necessary for the important work being undertaken.

      A more consistent approach, and I am not sure it’s practical, would be to say, when elected president, the winner will still fly commercial*, because all work is equally important. That would set a good example, leading to banning private jets.

      *or no flying, but to travel by rail.

      1. anonymous

        The Politico article gave more detail:
        “In the final three months before Election Day 2016, Sanders held 39 rallies in 13 states on behalf of Clinton’s campaign, according to Jones, including 17 events in 11 states in the last week alone. When he went to New Hampshire, which borders Sanders’ home state of Vermont, he did not use a private jet to get there.”

      2. Grant

        ” I recall reading about Ayn Rand using government services in her life”

        Yep, Social Security and Medicare (I believe), when she found out she had cancer. When Hayek was thinking of coming back to the US in the early 1970’s, he was concerned. Why? Because of our healthcare system. He was in a place with far more comprehensive healthcare. A person that tried to get him to come to the US, and brought up that he would have some coverage from Social Security. That person was none other than Charles Koch. Irony all around.

    2. Plenue

      What perplexes me most of all about these types of attacks is that even if valid all they would prove is that Sanders is a hypocrite and actually just as corrupt as anyone else in politics. If the point is to discredit Sanders in favor of Clinton (or a Clinton clone), how is drawing attention to things like air travel and multiple homes effective? By their logic at least Sanders pretends to not be corrupt. Whereas Clinton is guilty of literally everything they charge Sanders with, without even the fig leaf of pretending to not be a patrician.

    3. Darthbobber

      Curious how the Independent justifies giving a “reporter” a byline on an article thats just a condensation plus some very slight rewording of the Politico piece.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Elon Musk is in Twitter trouble yet again”

    Maybe someone could give him a pair of boxing gloves to wear. Yeah, he’ll probably use them to beat up on his workers even more without hurting his hands. It is in his nature. But you can’t tweet with a pair of boxing gloves on. Might save himself a bit of strife that way.

    1. fajensen

      Conspiracy Theories says that Elon Musk wants to be removed as the CEO of Tesla so he gets some peace and quiet to work with Space-X and if/when Tesla goes tits-up, the “blood is on the heads” of the SEC, not Elon’s.

  13. Wukchumni

    Re: Stuck choo-choo in Oregon

    I was on a “24 hour express” train from Athens to Belgrade, that got there 52 hours later on a couple of nice fall days, as there was no issue with snow, the damned train just seemed to be doing a milk run of every little hamlet in Yugoslavia.

    1. Sushi

      Oakridge, just around the bend from Rock Ridge. If it ain’t the snow it’ll be the quicksand that gits ya.

    2. Oregoncharles

      We were on a train like that, in Mexico, from Michoacan to Mexico City. Turned out it was the market train: everything from fresh strawberries and buckets of cream, to live turkeys slung over someone’s shoulder. A fascinating experience. Remarkable amount of freight on that passenger train.

  14. Chris Cosmos

    “The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” I do not know if this effort will succeed. But I do know it is the only mechanism left to force action by the ruling elites, who, although global warming has been well documented for at least three decades, have refused to carry out the measures needed to protect the planet and the human race. These elites, for this reason alone, are illegitimate. They must be replaced.”

    This is from Chris Hedges’ story on Truthdig called “Exctition Rebellion.” For years Hedges has been warning us with considerable somewhat dour erudition in his books on social and political trends. In recent years he’s been advocating for massive resistance and I agree with him. But this resistance still has to be aimed at starting a conversation between the people and those of us who oppose the international oligarchy and Imperial order.

    1. Summer

      I notice that “Extinction Rebellion” = “ER”

      Everything about the name of the group emphasizes urgency and emergency , but it is a terrible name to attract the masses. The USA, in particular, has over the past decades been flooded with all forms of “the power of positive thinking ” literature and seminars that produce that dear-in-the-headlights facial expression in people when they are confronted with contrary info or endows people with that glazed over, wide-eyed, cult-like trance face.

      1. Chris Cosmos

        There are several reasons for choosing names in this case the name actually causes the word “extinction” into the public sphere so people will have to think about the word a lot and that’s a major victory for those of us who oppose the current Narrative.

  15. Down2Long

    Kamala Harris wants to decriminalize sex work! (After she, Warren, and Rubio, the devil’s triangle shut down Craigslist personals, leaving us adult users high and dry in our consensual pursuits.)

    She wants her slave reparations to be $100k in tax CREDITS. As Lambert has said, well, first you have to MAKE the money.

    Omg, as a Californian and a victim of foreclosure fraud, and given her sordid history with Mnuchin, Kamela Harris is salt on an open wound every day. The courts finally made her give a little of that ridiculous “settlement” to the, um, actual VICTIMS. ($300M out of $18B).

    Anf now she’s lined up 3200 endorsements from state “officials” to seal up Cali in the primaries.

    Here’s hoping BERNIE whoops her ass, all due respect. But of course, he can never be permitted to win Cali. It is my understanding that 3 million ballots “disputed” ballots feom the 2016 primary were never counted. Hillary was the anointedn and the machibe here is all powerful.

    1. Anon

      Don’t bet on Kamala winning anything in California. Some party cronies may swing her way, but the California electorate will need to be convinced–not likely.

    2. Oregoncharles

      So California is now Chicago, but with a better climate and earthquakes.

      The big-city machines of the 19th and 20th Centuries were mostly Democrats.

  16. John Mc

    Re: Socialism

    Quick question for readers here regarding the attacks on socialism and Bernie.

    What is the best way to elucidate the difference between boogie-man socialism of the red scare embedded in our culture and the obvious signs of socialism for the elite, wealthy in this country that gets obscured in the discussion?

    Socialism will always exist in the system, it is who benefits from it that gets obscured (imo).

    Anyone have some ideas of how to best blow this simplistic meme out of the water?

    1. tegnost

      My somewhat obnoxoius method is to go into their territory with the known knowns of omg socialism, then describe in detail all the ways that the wealthy live in that system. That I can have the same event with both wealthy dems and wealthy repubs should tell us something, you know, common ground and all. Rice bowls.

      1. John Mc

        Appreciate the reply.

        So in your opinion, what would be the top 10 greatest examples of corporate socialism we have seen? Obvious (2007 Financial Crisis) and some not so (corporate buy backs, revolving doors, and golden parachutes).

        Not as obnoxious as you might think for me.

        1. Geo

          Subsidizing fossil fuel exploration, subsidizing big agriculture, the FDIC, tax subsidies for business development (I.e. Amazon offers from various cities to build new HQ).

          We invest in business on the belief it will have beneficial economic results but apparently investing in people isn’t though to be economically beneficial even though people are why businesses exist. It’s like saying socialism is fine for the diapers but not the baby.

          1. polecat

            You forgot to mention the copious brown bags of ‘persuasion’ doled-out at all the socials to our reprehesitives ensconsed in Mordor on the Potomic.

          2. Skip Intro

            Don’t forget pharma patenting publicly funded research results then gouging the same public. More fundamentally, all patents and intellectual property ‘rights’ are government granted partial monopolies made on the basis of a compromise with society meant to encourage art and science. They are not absolute rights. Results that are no longer consistent with the compromise of mutual benefit must either be rewritten, or considered public subsidies and excessive rents tolerated due to political capture.

          3. Procopius

            I’ve got to object to the inclusion of FDIC in there. Maybe because I was born in the tail end of the Depression, I have a lot more sympathy for the little people who lost everything they had been able to save when the bank went out of business. The banks have to pay into the fund, and the benefit goes to the depositors. I don’t care if the depositors have $250,000 in each separate account, protect them too. If you’re a big fan of recessions, depressions, and bank failures, then you should advocate getting rid of FDIC. It’s not a subsidy for business.

    2. Skip Intro

      Bernie did a pretty good job in his Town Hall, saying something like ‘Democratic Socialism means a right to health care, a living wage, a clean environment, college education’. I would contrast it to the corporate socialism we have now, where all government services are converted to opportunities for cronies to extract rents from the government and the citizens, and banks get bailouts while homeowners get ‘expedited’ foreclosures.

    3. Charles Leseau

      I suppose a simplistic meme deserves a simplistic retort:

      One is about nationalizing an industry or service and the other is about privatizing the government?

      Does that work?

      1. John Mc

        I like it. Reminds me of socializing losses and privatizing gains – similar meme.

        Truth be told, we need all of the socialism busting memes to combat this kind of agnotological forgetting.

        Thank you

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      The most obvious is the comparison of our healthcare system with others. Long lines? You say…we don’t have those here.

      To a certain extent, we’ve already won this argument. Sure, we might have disagreements about the practical nature of MMT in the U.S. versus a smaller country.

      Feinstein’s recent turn as Mr. Burns talking to children is the problem. Your Republican friend (I assume this is what you mean) who seems bright is what he is. The issue is understanding the difference between Marco Rubio and Barack Obama in regards to climate change is marginal (maybe not quite marginal), but the difference is insufficient. Too many people believe Democratic elites are “generic Democrats.” AOC isn’t popular because she is a bartender turned Congress Critter. She’s popular because she’s basically a generic Democrat as presented by FoxNews which polls very well. During the midst of a financial crisis, a guy named Barack Hussein Obama, perceived as opposed to stupid wars, promising universal healthcare, and raising taxes on the rich beat the snot out of steady hands such as HRC, the greatest candidate in the history of ever, and Saint McCain.

      Popular policies are popular. They become popular by being discussed.

    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To some extend, the name ‘democratic socialist’ is an attempt to get away from that.

      ‘This socialism is dfferent.’

      If we are still asking about elucidating their difference, perhaps there is still work on that front, which is understandably given the history of how the term has been used by various groups and sub-groups, in and out of it.

    6. ShamanicFallot

      I have a friend who is a public school teacher doing the ‘socialism bad!’ routine on FB. I replied ‘aren’t you a teacher?’ Similar thing happened with an acquaintance who is a cop.
      So two fields that are supported publicly and purport to serve a societal wide purpose. But ‘bad, bad socialism’. So maybe one could approach it in that way

  17. Wukchumni

    Cry me an atmospheric river…

    We’re supposed to get a taste of the latest storm pummeling the great wide north of the state, but nothing compared to the onslaught ongoing, and there’s a Russian angle to it, with a river running through it, overflowing the banks.

    Another 8 feet of snow in the higher climes is the anticipation, in our all you can heed winter.

  18. Wukchumni

    You know what would be fun?

    If we got the .0001%’ers all together in Hunger For Money Games, and we could watch their antics as they do anything for more.

    1. tegnost

      imagine the cage match between bezos and musk…winner take all…the pay per view would be astronomical!

        1. Skip Intro

          Watch it ‘free’ with AmazonPrime, where you can also order rope and even pre-tied nooses, with ‘free’ shipping.

      1. Oh

        It would be even better if Bezos, Musk are in a televised cage match in a spaceship headed to Mars. We can send another contingent of the usual suspects from FB, Google, Netflix, Twitter etc in the next trip and have their Greed Games televised from the spaceship.

    2. ambrit

      Aren’t you describing the Economy?
      Trouble is, their “antics” are already destroying the “middle class” and literally killing “working class” people.
      Time for someone to return the compliment. (Don’t worry yourself too much Wukchumni. The Sierras are a defensible position.)

      1. Wukchumni

        They’ve had their way with us, but imagine an illionaire being forced by his (mostly men) lack of conscience, to do an act that would greatly enrich him, while giving the same benefit to society @ large?

        Tough call

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I like to imagine five or six .0001%’ers sealed together in their luxury bunker somewhere, doomed to share each other’s company for the remainder of their lives.

  19. allan

    Make American science great again by public-private partnerships and deregulation:

    U.S. science adviser sees smaller federal role [Science]

    The new science adviser to President Donald Trump wants to usher in a new golden era of U.S. science—but with less gold from the federal government. … And he said the key to future scientific preeminence isn’t increased federal funding, but stronger collaborations among government, industry, academia, and private foundations. Such partnerships aren’t a new concept, but Droegemeier appeared to be suggesting that nonpublic investments play a much bigger role in them than in the past. …

    An ever-growing federal debt constrains the government’s ability to make major new investments, he said. “[Anyone] expecting me to announce some new research initiative will be disappointed,” he told his AAAS audience. …

    The research community also needs new models for carrying out its work, he said. He proposed one: a network of industry-funded “alpha institutes” on college campuses, staffed by academic, corporate, and government scientists, who would tackle “some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.” Alpha institute researchers would be granted “unfettered time and opportunity” to pursue their ideas “without the administrative burdens that encumber us today,” he said.

    Droegemeier hopes to eliminate those “unnecessary administrative burdens” across the research enterprise. “The Trump administration is laser-focused on reducing regulatory … and compliance burdens,” he said. “This is something we are going to get done.” …

    There was a brief flicker of hope when he was named to the post, but that’s so last year.

    1. Ranger Rick

      There is a nugget of inspiration in the middle of all of this. For example, NASA is almost entirely operated as a public-private partnership, and supports a raft of private research institutions (most of which operate in extremely close proximity to universities, or are outright operated by the universities themselves) who employ researchers who are ultimately paid by contracts with corporate and government money. Apparently the administration is extremely impressed by the successes of the New Horizons mission, which is in itself a case study of this ideal.

      We can ignore the debt remark as a rhetorical device, but the “administrative burdens” reference is a shot across the bow at government research agencies across the country, which are bureaucracy writ large.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I’ve subscribed to Tech Briefs for decades. Each year the magazine gets thinner, the ‘breakthroughs’ more trivial and the information content has dwindled to a trickle. There are almost no technical support packages, but plenty of links to university PR notices fishing for funds and occasional references to a patent number. If I make Tech Briefs my canary for the condition of NASA, that canary is singing a mournful song.

        I don’t understand your comment. What inspiration resides in further reducing federal support for science? And how does the New Horizons mission serve as a model for public-private research when public funding is reduced?

  20. Roger Smith

    Cohen Hearing: Why do Congress Critters allow for the floor to be used for PR control? No one cares about Cohen’s phony redemption arc. Save it for some Grocery store periodical. Of all the things these people could be doing, they are sitting in cushy chairs listening to this nobody say, “No, I actually lied the first time I was here. Seriously, my personal failings are actually Trump’s fault.” This is a disgusting waste of time.

    1. Roger Smith

      The more this hearing goes on, the less Cohen’s story makes sense. He claims Trump never wanted to win, yet later discusses him making some payments that were done to skirt campaign finance laws (because NO ONE does that–but that is beside the point here). Let’s be clear, Cohen is the legal consel. He is the expert who knows how to do things or can offer strategy advice. Cohen’s entire testimony is devoid of any personal responsibility, framed as if he is a child doing things Trump tells him too. “He told me to make this payment, he told me to make that one. He did this and that.” Oh yes, and whose legal strategy do you think he was following… maybe his lawyer’s?!

      Also, Cohen claims Trump made him threaten Trump’s high school and colleges to prevent them from releasing his grades and SAT scores… WHY WOULD THEY EVER DO THIS ANYWAYS?? Does FERPA not apply to the President? Or do we not care because we don’t like him? I would threaten them too, with a lawsuit, which is probably a strategy a lawyer would suggest. “Hey if these leak, see you in court”.

      This broadcast is going to edge out a win over the daily soaps.

      1. Lepton1

        The schools confirmed that they were contacted by Trump lawyers and warned against releasing grades or scores. The schools confirmed they replied that they were bound by Federal rules and would not release such information, regardless of such warnings.

    2. Summer

      “You think I’m stupid,” Trump said, according to Cohen. “I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

      Excerpts like these in the press are in nowhere man’s land.
      Not many of thosw who went to Vietnam were “stupid,” they were drafted.

      1. RUKidding

        Not many of thosw who went to Vietnam were “stupid,” they were drafted.

        Indeed. And they were drafted and forced (or agreed to) go fight in VN mostly because they weren’t rich, connected WHITE men, like Trump and GWBush (or even a relative of mine, who got to serve in W. Germany during the VN War, where a lot of white guys were posted during the VN War).

        I really don’t get how Vets, especially VN vets, can vote for this draft dodger, who is very proud of what he did. VN Vets are still ballistic about Jane Fonda all these decades later (after many apologies, fwiw), but Trump? Hey: MAGA. Go figure.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          Regular working class Vietnam Vets are very tribal and tend to be very right-wing I think because they need to justify their role in the madness of that war.

          1. Wukchumni

            My neighbor was in Hue during the Tet offensive-a tanker in the USMC and it was the one time in the war when the Vietcong made themselves visible and he reckons he killed between 150-200 people in a fortnight, and he used to drink to forget about it, but has been on the wagon for years now. Whenever we talk as of late, his veins bulge out when the President is brought up. He’s way left.

            When the Ken Burns Vietnam War tv documentary was on, I asked his wife if they watched it, and she told me he doesn’t watch anything that involves war.

        2. Roger Smith

          I don’t think Trump’s supposed statement presents any disregard for people who were forced to go. He’s right. Only an idiot would choose to go there. He was lucky and was able to not go because of resources. To me that might resonate with a Vet who was forced to go, a president who understands the BS of “war”. Labeling someone as a draft dodger is a creation of war-hawks, used to create an insular, cult like mind set among the public that benefits their policies. (Reminds me of Fourth Feathers, the movie at least)

        3. Massinissa

          My favorite elite draft dodging story is the one with Mitt Romney.

          He dodged the war by going on a missionary trip.

          That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Going to a third world country, trying to spread your religion and all that. Worse things you could do with your time. Except.. Romney was connected, so he didn’t go on a missionary trip to a third world country.

          Where did he go, you say? His ‘mission trip’ was to Paris, France. Why go to Vietnam when you can go to Paris and live the high life?

          1. Wukchumni

            Here’s my favorite dodge from the draft…

            A friend had run out of college deferments and was ripe to be drafted circa 1967 and most definitely didn’t want to be cannon fodder, and was nursing sorrows in a bar in Van Nuys, and the gent next to him happened to be in the California Air National Guard, and after he hears his saga, he tells my friend that they are doing recruitment tomorrow, and he’ll get him in…

            …fast forward a day and he shows up with about 500 other desperate men looking for a way out, and he doesn’t quite recognize the guy from the night before, as he’s in uniform, but said soldier recognizes him, and they announce that there are a dozen positions open, and he gets one of them and does a couple year stint in the CANG, and no Vietcong

          2. Oregoncharles

            OK, I’ll tell this story. Mine isn’t very interesting – I had a letter from a shrink that got me a 1Y; exercise of privilege. I was sitting and waiting for the written test when this guy I knew, a Russian bear of a man who was a well-known antiwar activist, stuck his head in the door, waved, and said in a booming voice: “Hi, Charles! Don’t let ’em cut your off!” He kept that up all day – “When are you going to cut…?” Generally being as obnoxious as possible. When he sat down with a doctor he turned serious, told them that if drafted, he would do as much damage as possible and then kill himself.

            They gave him a 4F and an armed guard for the rest of the process.

            OTOH, at the end I was sitting next to a guy who was very upset that they wouldn’t take him. You guessed it: he hadn’t passed the written exam.

            The dirty secret was that they couldn’t afford to take everybody, so they were concocting excuses to thin the herd. The draft is involuntary servitude; barring complete mobilization, there is no excuse for it.

            Making women eligible should kill it with fire.

        4. Precopius

          Minor quibble, but I was there and I can confirm that most of those people in the U.S. Military in Vietnam were white people. I didn’t vote for Trump and I actually supported Jane Fonda, although what she did was clearly treason. I can tell you that a hell of a lot of people did whatever they could to avoid going to the ‘Nam, some (many?) of them for highly moral and spiritual reasons. It was a long time ago. Why should I care that Bush and Trump used their connections to avoid going? I despise them both for entirely different reasons.

    3. ewmayer

      My, what a lot of MSM kerfuffle, moaning and groaning to please-let-this-time-be-the-real-deal-and-not-another-tease-ing over a giant nothingburger. So, let’s recap: Knowing in advance about Wikileaks filedump? Not a crime. Continuing to pursue business ventures in Russia while campaigning? Not a crime. Paying hush money to p0rn actress? Possible violation of campaign finance laws, not exactly an impeachable offense, historically speaking. Being an all-around unlikable narcissist? DC, NYC and the oligarchy in general are full of them. Cohen “having his suspicions” re. collusion with Teh EvilPutin? Utterly meaningless PR-whoring. I see a lot of hueing and crying and oodles of FBI resources spent on what amounts to “we got nothing.” Possible title for future movie-fication of the drama: “Ferris Mueller’s Way Off”. Would have to be an indie film, clearly, as Hollywood is much too wedded the heroic-CIA-and-FBI-agent-hagiography meme.

    1. polecat

      NIKKI’$ Brain :

      “The Nose bone’$ connected to the .. Cabin’$ bone, the cabin bone’$ connected to the .. wide-body’$ bone, the wide-body’$ bone connected to the .. wing bone, the wing’$ bone connected to the .. wish bone, the wish bone’$$$$ connected to the ….. “

  21. Alex Cox

    Regarding the Harvard Law School story, it is absolutely true that everyone – even Pinochet and Tony Blair – deserves a lawyer when their time comes.

    However, lawyers in academia are also expected to show an example to their students and abide by a duty of care.

    As students today are treated as customers of the expensive institution they attend, they have every right to excercise consumer choice by boycotting a lecturer whose moral judgement they abhor.

    A lawer doesn’t have to take a particular client or case. They choose to and must accept the professional consequences.

    Personally I would never hire (and probably could not afford) a lawyer who chose to work for Weinstein, Pinochet or Blair.

    Good law students!

  22. Lee

    Cohen, Cohen, Cohen all day long.

    It’s “explosive”. It’s leading the news. NPR is live broadcasting the hearing from gavel to gavel.

    Is there anything of substance in this—something besides name calling, nitpicking, virtue signaling and grand standing? If so, someone please tell me and save me from having to acquaint myself with the tawdry details.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I still blame the whole OJ trial fiasco. The msm wants to recapture the mafic. The Bronco chase was actually entertaining at the time. This is the closest to a sporting event or actual breaking news they will get for this tv cycle. The potential of a spectacle will draw eyes for advertisements, but there is nothing to be learned. Could something huge happen? Sure. Its unlikely, and what does happen needs reflection. The White House press briefing jumps to mind. Could the President walk out and make a grand announcement? Or reveal a breaking story through Q and A? Yes, but if it comes out of the White House through official means, it will be an announced spectacle similar to the Bin Laden announcement. The press will be called to come cover the event.

      1. Carolinian

        OJ was when the media first jumped the shark and some of us started looking into that internet thingie. Before OJ they at least pretended to be sober and serious. A NYT editor of that era would probably be astonished at what makes it into the NY Times today.

    2. Lepton1

      Sure. He implicated Don jr and Ivanka. He clearly named Trump as individual number two in his conviction. He asserted that Trump inflated or deflated his assets depending on if he was talking to insurance companies, banks or the IRS. He said that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. He reported on a phone call with Trump and Roger Stone in which Stone reported that Assange would soon dump more documents to damage Secretary Clinton. He brought hard evidence in the form of copies of checks and wire transfers to back up his claims. Those are the highlights I recall. Trump is guilty as sin. I can’t wait to see the whole mob family in prison.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I hate to say it, but giving a different value to the IRS, insurance, and banks is perfectly legit.

        IRS value would be cost plus any investments.

        Banks would be market value and that isn’t static.

        Insurance would be market value OR replacement value.

        So different values does not prove any bad conduct in and of itself.

        And the banks would not take Trump’s word, there’s a pretty rigorous methodology for valuing commercial real estate.

      2. Lepton1

        The point about prior knowledge of the Assange dump is that he denied this under oath in writing to Mueller which is perjury.

        False statements about valuations may be a crime if they are part of a fraud.

        1. integer

          It was CNN that reported that Trump’s written statement to Mueller included a denial of any knowledge of upcoming Wikileaks releases. The article was based on anonymous sources and CNN have a pretty bad track record on their Russiagate coverage. Even if true, which is certainly possible, I’m not sure it’s that big a deal anyway; Wikileaks publicly announced their upcoming releases, and Roger Stone had zero inside information.

          1. integer

            Adding: My guess is that Trump’s statement on Wikileaks includes a qualifier to the effect of: I had no knowledge of upcoming releases that wasn’t already in the public domain.

  23. Craig H.

    > Leave campaign to sue if Brexit is delayed Metro. One of our regulars (please take a bow!) suggested they could see the Brexiteers suing for representation in the hated European Parliament in the event of an extension. That was meant as a joke, if I recall correctly, but it has still proven to be prescient.

    The best straight information is in The Onion. It began when Bush’s first election was written up as the end of our long nightmare of peace and prosperity and has only gotten more true in the intervening 18 years.

  24. RUKidding

    I haz a sad. For all the many times I’ve gone bush walking in various parts of Oz, I never flew back to the States to discover a python in my shoe.

    I waz robbed, I tells ya!

    Lady was lucky the snake wasn’t poisonous.

    Wanna see a buncha Aussies (and tourists) run like hell? Just witness a snake slithering along somewhere, especially in a crowded outdoor restaurant in the outback.

  25. a different chris

    So in a totally unimportant aside, I went from the “fat rat” story to another link which discussed the possibility that rats were treated unfairly. It started with the poor things use in terms of disparagement – “you dirty rat” being the most common.

    But I have to admit, and this is why I’m posting, my late-life reaction to the also listed, supposedly disparaging phrase “like rats leaving a sinking ship”.

    I can no longer see what is wrong with this behavior.

    1) the rats are never going to be given any say over how to sail the ship, no matter how obvious the iceberg ahead is
    2) the rats thus had nothing to do with the inevitable crash
    3) the rats, given their size, have no way of helping anybody else on board
    4) the rats, or in the worst case their families, given their connections or more accurately lack thereof will not be recompensed in any way for the failure to steer the ship properly. Whereas those who did the actual failing will probably get off OK.

    So what is wrong with them swimming away? Yes this is a perspective I’ve gained from a Dilbertian career in software, why do you ask?

  26. a different chris

    From “A Monumental Clash” —

    Restrainers, for their part, might succeed spectacularly in the Middle East, only to find America embroiled in a new Cold War.

    Anybody besides me actually get a twinge of nostalgia for the original Cold War? At lot less people seemed to get hurt in that than they do in today’s messes.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Marco Rubio Is So Pumped Up About Venezuela He Just Tweeted a Snuff Film Mother Jones. Resilc: “This is why noko will NEVER give up nukes.”


    By setting the bar so low (noko will never), any small progress by Trump and Kim will make the former look really great. Whether they can do it – that’s another question. But they are meeting and talking in Vietnam.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry o mountain dweller, but family still living in the wilds of South Florida report seeing the sylindrical serpents on the verges of the Interstate once or twice these few years gone by. The local joke there is that those crushed and consumed by the priapistic pythons were clueless tourists to begin with. Hence, not a loss to the local ecosystem.
        The Pythoness,
        With Delphic hisses,
        Predicts our fate:

  28. Scoaliera

    Anyone else wonder whether the business about Devine et al. leaving the Sanders campaign has more to do with the campaign’s (known) discussions with Means Of Production, the tiny indie outfit that made that viral spot for AOC, than it does with any of the Russia (Russia! RUSSIA!!)/Manafort business? Because for all we keep hearing about those ties to Manafort, and to the Mueller investigation, you’d think that discovering the Sanders campaign was looking to a different studio for its advertising, to the likely detriment of DML’s expected revenue stream, could readily account for it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It says in the article that Devine was the chief strategist in 2016, and most recently an advisor (before resiging). It seems to be a step down.

      Did he not do a good job strategizing in the last election, or was it Manafort related?

      1. Darthbobber

        At the level of producing and placing the mass media part of the campaign, it was reasonably competent, less so in rapid response to the attacks, least of all in organizing the canvassing operation.

        Devine’s previous big presidential campaign gigs were Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. Fortunately Sanders was resistant to “handling”, and thus didn’t suffer from the same overhandling that afflicted all three of those candidates in their general election campaigns.

        Manafort may or may not be an issue that figured in this, I Suspect the arrival of Shakur and Co. implied a significant loss of influence for Devine’s group.

  29. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Russian state TV shows map of potential US nuclear targets Guardian

    To be contrasted with maps of Russian, Chinese, and others’ nuclear targets.

  30. Pat

    As a longtime reader here you might have noticed that the Maduro is an evil dictator who forced everyone to vote for him over the American corporation friendly guy the military is telling to suck on it propaganda being pushed by our corporately owned or friendly MSM and politicians doesn’t fly. So if you can name a reputable source that recognizes that the United States has no interest in helping the Venezuelan people and don’t give a damn about either the aid or the legitimacy of the elections that tells us how bad it is in Venezuela please fell free to link it/them.

    I’m willing to consider other sources and that all the advantages that Chavez originally brought the average Venezuelan, for which there is a lot of evidence, faded over time and that every one is now suffering because of internal corruption and not America’s constant meddling. But the word of the NY Times for one won’t do it.

    (You might want to tell your relatives to be careful what they wish for, it isn’t as if the American oligarchs are going to bring peace, opportunity and better times, see Libya and Honduras.)

    1. Skip Intro

      Off the top of my head, you might look to Trump and Bolton, who have both stated it is about oil. I would also ponder the fact that Guano was not a runner up in the election, or even a candidate. He was just a tool trained to do coups who they picked for his looks.

      1. Pat

        The comment I was replying to has disappeared. The one which said as a long time reader with family in Venezuela he was disappointed with NC for falling for the propoganda and badly acted video about real humanitarian aid in Venezuela. BS, but sometimes I cannot resist.

        Of course it is about Oil. The last three times we have tried to kill or overthrow either Maduro and/or Chavez it has been about oil. Every time we stick our noses into Venezuela it is about oil. I know that. You know that. And I am sure things are bad in Venezuela. Regardless of the reason for those problems, I’m also sure humanitarian aid offered now comes with more weapons, guns and/or additional problems for the Venezuelan people than it probably has any food and medical supplies.

        1. Skip Intro

          Oh yeah one of those now-standard influence bot posts. Great job replying, glad the comment was disappeared though. While I’m here, isn’t it wonderful that there are no hungry people in Columbia who would like some of that alleged aid they’re burning for the cameras at the border?

          Here’s my impression of a bot that has learned to double dip:

          “I have friends and family in Venezuela and they were big Bernie supporters until…”

        2. The Rev Kev

          Yeah, about those two ‘aid’ trucks that were burnt. At the protestor’s end of the bridge. By a rain of molotov cocktails. Apart form the food and medicine which most was looted from those trucks, there was also a lot of stuff like nails and reels of wire. Very strange aid that. The Venezuelans are declaring them to be gear for building barricades. Story at with-

          Trump is going to ask for a resolution in the UN to force aid to be pushed into the country by the US and Colombia but Russia and China saw how a similar resolution was used in Libya to destroy that country instead so will veto it. In any case aid is going into the country by ship and air by Venezuela’s allies – just not the US.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Skip – OK, you win the race for best mock name for Guaido: Guano is perfect. It’s even Spanish.

  31. ambrit

    I’m wondering about a probable typo in the comment with the antidote of the cote. Minus Forty degrees Celsius is pretty d— cold! As in also Minus Forty degrees Fahrenheit. Where are we having such temperatures now in the Americas? (Mush less in a city and not the muskeg.)

      1. Sanxi

        Mount Carroll, Illinois, may have set a new all-time record low for the state of Illinois Thursday morning, Jan. 31, 2019 with a temperature of minus 38 degrees.

        An ad hoc state climate extremes committee will examine the data and determine whether it will officially be accepted as a new state record, which would beat the current all-time Illinois cold record of minus 36 degrees set Jan. 5, 1999, in Congerville. A second location, Morrison, preliminarily tied the all-time record of minus 36 degrees.

        At least four locations tied or set all-time record lows as of 1/31/2019

        Minus 43 degrees northwest of Mather, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, tied the all-time low at that location in records dating to 1903.

        Minus 33 degrees Thursday morning, Jan. 31, in Moline, Illinois, shattered the all-time record low of minus 28 degrees from Feb. 3, 1996.

        Minus 31 degrees in Rockford, Illinois, Thursday morning, Jan. 31, topped its previous record of minus 27 degrees from Jan. 10, 1982.

        Minus 30 degrees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Thursday morning, Jan. 31, beat the previous all-time record of minus 29 degrees.

        As of 1/31/2019
        At least 340 daily cold records were broken or tied in the Midwest alone from Jan. 30 through Jan. 31, according to the Midwest Regional Climate Center.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll admit to having to look the formula up. However, the comment right above yours, by ‘Sanxi’ says that new record low temperatures are being set all across the northern tier of the United States this winter. I had read that part of the Polar Vortex was slipping ‘down’ from the Great White North, but had not made the connection with this year’s winter conditions. Like income and wealth, the distribution of the weather patterns is as much in play as the global averages in reference to Global Warming. As the saying goes: “Things are not evenly distributed.”
        We have the camellias, daffodils, and early azaleas blooming right now here, with mid seventies during the day, but twenties at night forecast for next week.
        Interesting times.

  32. Pat

    Headline on the Link/Google free phone wifi kiosk in West Village was about Cohen saying that Trump knew of Wikileaks email dump before it happened.

    Color me skeptical. Not just because anyone who trusts Cohen farther than a two year old can throw him needs to have their head examined. Not just because this is going to be he said/he said situation. No, because as far as I can tell both Assange and mastermind Putin are smarter than that. Why the hell would they or the campaign’s strategists tell Trump ahead of time? It isn’t of any help before it happens, it destroys his ability to deny knowledge of it, and any real value of it will be after the dump happens. Sorry, it just doesn’t pass the smell test, except for the dolts who still believe the Russia! Trump stole it! scenario.

    1. Sanxi

      There’s no explaining stupidity is there? The throwing a 2 yr old speaks volumes about your world view. All that you say may be true, but it is both an argument based on gibberish and an argument based on induction with a faulty premise.

      1. Pat

        While you provide no argument or reasoning whatsoever to support your opinion. Although I will give you points for spouting gibberish dripping with condescension, that takes practice.

      2. integer

        The throwing a 2 yr old speaks volumes about your world view.

        Pat wrote: “anyone who trusts Cohen farther than a two year old can throw him needs to have their head examined.” A parsing of those words should leave little doubt that she was not talking about throwing a two-year-old baby. Rather, she was talking about a two-year-old baby throwing Cohen. It was clearly meant to be a joke about Cohen having zero credibility.

    2. Alfred

      I tend to believe that genuine skepticism is always a virtue. I also believe that it is not fair to conclude that just because a man will lie once, or sometimes, or even often and habitually, will never tell the truth. I’d even say that all liars will tell the truth from time to time, if only by inadvertence. I can imagine as many reasons for Cohen now to speak truthfully to Congress as I can for him to lie; so to me the argument that the Trump crowd has been advancing today is a wash. Cohen’s statements will need to be assessed for their internal consistency, for their congruence with the statements of others, and against any new documentary evidence that he (or others) can produce. The fact that Cohen might truthfully report lies he received from others, with or without believing them at the time, just complicates the situation. It does not altogether negate the potential value of his testimony.

      1. Pat

        I’d be curious what reasons you imagine for Cohen NOW to tell the truth to Congress which could not also be reasons for him to tell them things he thinks they want to hear regardless of fact.

        We do appear to have something in common which is a recognition that without collaboration this testimony must be taken with a grain of salt, the size of a boulder in my case. As in without other evidence, anything that doesn’t pass a basic logic test, I will continue to consider to be bs Cohen thinks they want to hear.

        1. Alfred

          (Like everyone else?) I can only guess. I’d guess that revenge is a major factor. Advice from counsel that he should not commit (further) perjury could be a factor. A desire to curry favor with politicians who might in future be able to pardon him, or mitigate his sentence, could be a factor. (So I agree with you on that point, if I understand your first sentence correctly.) The notion that Mr. Cohen is a now a morally “changed man,” which has been floated by Mr. Cummings and Ms. Collins, I don’t find to be convincing, though I don’t see a reason to exclude it absolutely from the realm of possibility; for the realm of possibility includes people who will lie for remuneration but who stop lying when the payment dries up. If Mr. Cohen is depressed (which would not be surprising) he could be acting ‘out of character’ at this point, and for a habitual liar (which is how the Republicans are now portraying him) telling the truth would be out of character. I do not accept that everything Mr. Cohen has told (or will tell) the Congress is completely true. I just object to the proposition that everything he ever tells them must be a complete fabrication. I also don’t see why everything the Democrats “want to hear” must necessarily be a pack of lies, though of course some of those things might well be untrue. We really need to see evidence, but so far we have only been treated to spectacle — and what a tawdry one, bearing every mark of the motion-picture melodrama, complete with tears and laughter and moral indignation, documentary shots used as intertitles (the checks!), and an exaggerated verisimilitude that in and of itself casts veracity into doubt.

  33. ChrisPacific

    I also read the Brexit impact statement (well, skimmed it) and my take on it was very similar to the Alexander Twitter thread.

    As an impact assessment it was remarkably inadequate. I have to produce the things regularly as part of my job and if I delivered one like this it would be sent back to me with a note to do it properly this time. There will be impacts. What kind of impacts? Severe ones, perhaps. How severe? Don’t know. Severe. Some of them will be your fault.

    It also dresses up some major to catastrophic consequences in anodyne language. The heartbeat of the patient is expected to reduce in frequency, possibly substantially or even to zero, and may maintain that state indefinitely once attained. Just thought I’d mention it, you know. Can’t say I didn’t tell you.

    1. Sanxi

      Yes, indeed you told. But, the conclusion to be drawn? Doing a sociological impact statement has been around since 1975, first used in Wyoming, now used everywhere. One only manages that which is measured.

  34. SerenityNow

    Regarding “NYC Tunnel Closing Would Cut Home Values by $20 Billion, Study Says

    Just another example of how a lot of property value is simply the capitalization of public investments into private holdings…

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