Links 3/29/19

Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic seizure odour in humans Scientific Reports. n = 5.

The Green New Deal and the case against incremental climate policy Vox (LD).

Seven Midwestern Superfund Sites Have Dealt With Flooding Since the Bomb Cyclone, But EPA Says Everything’s Fine Gizmodo

The fragility of the Mozambican state in the face of climate change Africa is a Country

News you can use:


Explainer: Everything you need to know ahead of the latest Brexit vote – and why it’s different to the others Independent (Ireland). Also:


Brexit delay could last FIVE YEARS if May’s deal fails, MPs are warned: PM fights to last minute to win over 50 Tory rebels on day Britain was meant to leave the EU – amid No 10 threats that an election looms if she loses vote Daily Mail

THE SUN SAYS MPs must not betray Britain today by setting aside their politics and backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal The Sun

‘BLINDFOLD BREXIT!’ Labour REFUSES to vote for May’s EU Withdrawal Deal – ‘No way out!’ Express

‘Brexit is aggressive and dangerously nostalgic. The UK is in for a brutal chastening’ Irish Times

U.K. Consumers, Businesses Downbeat as Brexit Turmoil Mounts Bloomberg

EU faces big Brexit question: should UK stay or go? FT

Devon’s largest ever fatberg successfully removed Sky News. So, optimism!


Trump administration approves secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia CNBC

The ‘Day After’ In Syria Finally Came. But What Comes Next? Defense One

Oil and Water Harpers (DG).

North Korea

S. Korean leader to meet with Trump in US on nuke diplomacy AP

A tale of daring, violence and intrigue from a North Korea embassy. FT


Huawei sales cross US$100 billion mark in 2018 as smartphones overtake flat network gear business South China Morning Post

Censorship pays: Chinese Communist Party newspaper expands lucrative online scrubbing business Japan Times

Full-Boar Onslaught: Nearly 1000 wild boar complaints in 2018, up 26 percent from 2017 Coconuts Hong Kong

Malaysia to begin delayed graft trial of former PM Najib next week Reuters


India’s strike on Balakot: a very precise miss? The Strategist

The Daily Fix: Supreme Court must heed Election Commission’s warning about electoral bonds The Scroll (J-LS).

Leaving the Kutch Grasslands, in Search of Grass The Wire (J-LS).


Russian Advisers Will Stay in Venezuela ‘as Long as Necessary,’ Moscow Vows Moscow Times

Venezuelan gov’t bars Guaido from public office for 15 years AP

Germany declines to recognize Juan Guaido’s Berlin emissary Deutsche Welle

Venezuelans turn to food production amid crisis Al Jazeera

IMF enhancing efforts in Latin America OMFIF

Trump Transition

Pelosi and McConnell Are Inching Us Closer to Nuclear War Truthdig

McConnell moves toward ‘nuclear option’ for confirmation of Trump nominees Roll Call. Too bad the Norms Fairy’s magic wand prevents liberal Democrats from exercising power when they hold office.

FAA defends its reliance on aircraft makers to certify jets AP. “Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said [that] the agency would need 10,000 more employees and an additional $1.8 billion a year to do all the work now done by designated employees of the companies it regulates.” So good jobs at good wages for a trivial sum, plus saving a national champion’s bacon. What’s not to like?

Trump administration doubles down on opposition to Puerto Rico funding, drawing criticism NBC


I Warned Early On Russiagate Would Help Trump. Now You Can See Why Michael Tracey, Fortune

Why were liberals so desperate to believe that Mueller would save democracy? WaPo. “The plot line into which Democrats cast Mueller’s investigation came right out of a legal procedural. The star of this show was supposed to have been an upright lawman, who — with his impeccable credentials as an investigator, a prosecutor and a Republican to boot — would prove Trump’s villainy and deliver him to justice.”

The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo Max Frankel, NYT. “True to the campaign minuet, despite great resistance in Congress, President Trump has watered down the sanctions and otherwise appeased Russian interests, even at the expense of America’s allies. Call it the art of the deal.” Leaving aside the accuracy of Frankl’s claim, we just went through three years of 24/7 yammering about treason for an internal policy disagreement in the foreign policy establishment? Really?

Moscow shouldn’t misjudge the Mueller moment David Ignatius, WaPo. Intelligence community spokeshole issues stern warning.

International Relations Theory Doesn’t Understand Culture Foreign Policy

Health Care

Judge strikes down association health plan rule as ACA runaround Modern Healthcare


Panic buttons for mass shootings go on sale in the US Guardian

Imperial Collapse Watch

Is this the end of the American century? Adam Tooze, LRB

This New Generation of Weapons Could Mean More Covert Airstrikes Around the World NYT. One of the most stressful aspects of the Western Front in World War I was that, at any moment, you could be killed instantly and without warning by a shell falling from the sky, even if you were nowhere near the front lines. Now the United States has extended this principle to the entire world.

Guillotine Watch

New York Sues Sackler Family Members and Drug Distributors NYT

Goals and Rewards Redraw the Brain’s Map of the World Quanta

Political change can feel elusive, until the dam bursts FT. First slowly, then all at once

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “This New Generation of Weapons Could Mean More Covert Airstrikes Around the World”

    Well, it is true to say that the Pentagon has a roadmap to how they see a future war against a rag-bag bunch of rebels in their own lands developing using the latest high tech-

    1. PlutoniumKun

      India’s strike on Balakot: a very precise miss? The Strategist

      This article is a very nice example of how precision weapons aren’t all they are cracked up to be, at least when in inexperienced hands. It looks like the maps India use just aren’t accurate enough for them.

      1. bassmule

        Yes indeed. A common misconception–that “precision” is the same thing as “accuracy.”

    2. barrisj

      Which suggests of course that the “American century” will not go gentle into that good night, and will continue to practice extra-terratorial “power projection” out to an ever-increasing horizon.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    The Green New Deal and the case against incremental climate policy Vox (LD).

    Political change can feel elusive, until the dam bursts FT. First slowly, then all at once

    Similar themes.

    A chorus of voices is telling GND proponents, in short, to ask for less.

    If the choice these critiques presented — ask for everything and get nothing versus ask for and get incremental progress — were in fact the choice on the table, the critiques would make sense. During the 2016 election, I wrote a few critiques like that myself, scolding activists for asking for big impossible things because I thought Hillary Clinton would be good at grinding out incremental progress, which I viewed as the only progress possible.

    I think it’s long past time to admit that it isn’t possible. Republicans will block any federal Democratic climate initiative that they have the power to block. Period. Big stuff. Small stuff. Anything.

    And under the current alignment of forces, they can block everything.

    I’ve seen a few articles popping up like this after Brad DeLong issued his mea culpa. It seems many centrist and center leftists have finally (slow learners that they are) have realised that incrementalism simply plays into the hand of the crazed right. And the crazed right now controls most of the Anglosphere countries.

    I hope I’m not reading too much into this, but I think its a very hopeful sign that the Overton Window is moving very much in favour of the more radical left.

    1. Carla

      P.K. — often, I read your comments, and think, “Gee, I hope he’s right.” But never more than this one, today.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Wasn’t there a recent vote in the Senate on the GND as a non-binding resolution only? And did not one Senator vote in favor of it? If I am even partially correct I don’t think you can find leftward incrementalism, much less radical leftyness with an electron microscope in the legislative branch… Certainly not in the Senate and at best with sincerity in the low single digits in the House.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This was the usual GOP/Team Blue reaction. The GOP.holds a vote on good policy, knowing it won’t pass yet. Team Blue not wanting to all for the GOP trap refuses to play. The GOP knows good policy is popular over time and doesn’t care what Team Blue does because the GOP has controlled the agenda (because Team Blue is corporatists and largely despises it’s voters and wont use it against the GOP) or they made Team Blue look spineless once again.

          Team Blue strategists blame hippies when they aren’t hailed as heroes for doing nothing.

        2. jhallc

          I believe most,of the democrats voted “present” to avoid looking like the divided party that they are.

        3. Adam Eran

          The vote from D’s was “present”…in effect: “no comment.” Even AOC endorsed this tactic. McConnell wanted to campaign against it, so now that’s not possible.

    2. voteforno6

      The point made by that Financial Times article was also touched on in an interesting work of history I read some years ago (Explicit & Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution 1776 – 1995, by Daved E. Kyvig). In that book, the author examined the pattern of adoption of amendments to the Constitution. What he found was that, rather than being spread out fairly evenly throughout history, instead they were adopted in bunches. The conclusion he drew from that was roughly similar to that FT article. Oddly enough, the election of Trump should give leftists hope – if he can win, then what else is possible?

      1. Another Scott

        This raises a question that I (and likely many here) have been wondering about: what if the time for bold, sweeping action has passed? There need to be large numbers for any major initiative to pass (or so the thinking goes), but Democrats had that 10 years ago and passed incremental legislation, and because the incremental legislation didn’t accomplish much, the Dems lost big in 2010, 2014 and 2016.

        Look at the Summer Nuclear Power Plant, the federal government guaranteed the bonds in part because the Obama administration viewed bond guarantees as cheaper than direct investment. But as a result of those guarantees, the inevitable cost overruns, and greedy management, Santee Cooper, a crown jewel of the New Deal, is likely to be privatized. Direct investment (ownership) of renewable assets and potentially nuclear would have been a better course. But when they had sweeping majorities in both houses and a country aching for action, along with the presidency, the Dems were too concerned with the direct cost to do anything.

        I want the Democrats to be ambitious on a number of issues, including climate, but have reservations about the GND. The vagueness and supporters leads me to think that it will primary serve to benefit wind and solar developers, Wall Street financiers, and technology firms. If they are going to be bold, then go big, establish the U.S. Renewable Energy Authority, with a mission of providing affordable, renewable electricity to citizens across the United States with the funds also being used for recreation, environmental cleanup and education, thereby creating jobs for the miners and utility workers displaced by changing power sources.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Leadership matters.

          One problem is elected Democrats by and large are non entities who bought a title through self funding and we’re promoted in safe seats. Sanders holds powerful positions because governing is hard work, and elected Dems are lazy.

          What Senator wants to be the opposition to the Sanders supported Warren-AOC Green New Deal? Presidents draw crowds. The villains use process issues to stifle legislation. They are too lazy to fight the White House. They don’t want Sanders and AOC to come to town and suggest they aren’t fit to be the local rep.

    3. jefemt

      That’s very hopeful …

      Now, go to the busiest intersection in town on a Friday evening , sit and observe for a couple hours from 4 to 6, extend/ extrapolate that through the developed world, go get a growler of beer and toast. That’s at least a triple entendre…

      Waiting on leadership and government is folly. Cajole, encourage leaders— but to be sure, they will be the LAST to join in.

      ACT— personally and every moment. Walk, ride a bike, telecommute/teleconference, grow a garden, put food by, liquidate your wall street holdings— or at least a portion- golly— and put up a PV array.
      Move your ‘savings’ and ‘investments’ into positive, or at least benign asset classes
      Starve the beast. Yada yada yada. I’m a broken record

      1. Fiery Hunt

        All of the suggested actions are dependent on a certain wealth/income level.

        Not realistic or helpful.

        1. Cal2

          Even poor people can eat a decent simple diet, can grow a garden if they have some dirt and can resist buying new crap, drugs and smoking. Unless of course, you subscribe to the idea that they are too stupid to do that and need others to speak for them and tell them what to think and how to vote.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Apartments don’t typically have dirt for gardening.

            A decent simple diet can be tough if you work 16 to 18 hour days…when do you grocery shop? Smoking is a great appetite suppressant. Cheaper than organic avocados. How exactly does one make “investments” without making Wall Street richer, thereby cutting your own throat? Lots of ways to look at how to live. But assuming people can “just grow their own” or “walk, bike or teleconference” is myopic and ignorant of most people’s circumstances.

            Assumptions that everyone’s life is like ours is the single biggest impediment to change, IMNSHO.

            My point is merely that the problems of our society are generally caused by upper management, i.e. those of a certain income/financial status. And yet the lack of self-awareness of their own complicity in the mess is often coupled with their self-righteous and virtue-signaling “solutions” that completely blames the victims of their financial “successes”.

            1. jrs

              I’m beginning to think that even though the solution is in large part political, our problems are contributed to a lot by us (general us). But not by renters working 16 hour days so much.

              Supposedly leaf blowers are a decent source of pollution (and maybe so are non-manual lawnmowers, I don’t know), more than one would think. But everyone that has a yard that isn’t native plants or edibles, is quite likely to be hiring some gardener using these things, even though they are illegal here, the law is not enforced (political solutions can also fail, if there isn’t a will to enforce them).

              1. sleepy

                But everyone that has a yard that isn’t native plants or edibles, is quite likely to be hiring some gardener using these things, even though they are illegal here, the law is not enforced (political solutions can also fail, if there isn’t a will to enforce them).

                Where I live–a small midwestern town–most people have lawns, but few if any have or can afford gardeners. The assumption that those with lawns have gardeners is beyond my experience.

              2. polecat

                Personally, I prefer to use a rake and a pushbroom. More zenful then the noise and pollution that a blower produces. As for lawns .. they’re banned in our domicile !

        2. jrs

          What are positive or benign asset classes, i’m not sure there are any really. Yes capitalism is the problem. And yes I’m a renter and get annoyed at suggestions that presume homeownership. I don’t have that kind of moola to buy here anyway – thus I rent. I think on average renters probably have less carbon impact.

          I guess I do agree with anti-consumerism at any rate.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          There are many millions of Americans at or over a certain wealth/income level to do some personal high-visibility conservation living. It is realistic to expect them to be able to do it and it would be helpful of them to do it in high-visibility public view.

          A whole bunch of individuals with their little individual actions won’t systemically re-engineer the mal-engineered systemic political-economy grids this country is built on. But on the other hand, lots of individual actions have been seen to have an attention-getting effect on a powerful institution now and then. For example, many Millenial individuals are individually performing the action known as ” not buying a car”. Enough Millenials are “not buying a car” to the extent of causing fear and unease among the leadership elites of the “let’s sell them a car” companies.

    4. drb48

      “Enacting sweeping reform, in the face of a US political system heavily weighted in favor of the status quo, requires a groundswell. A popular mandate. And that in turn requires an agenda that can spark the public imagination and pull in apathetic and infrequent voters. Policy that is designed not to bother anyone won’t do that.”

      Correct, but at the moment any such groundswell seems unlikely to happen in time to matter, if it happens at all. As the article makes clear, there is zero movement among the GOP and with the system we have in place, no way to prevent them from blocking anything and everything for the foreseeable future.

    5. Chris Cosmos

      You are right the Overton Window is moving towards the more radical left but also to the more radical right. In other words it is, thankfully, expanding perhaps due to the internet. It may be too late for the authorities to repress the many voices that have been unleashed by the internet. We aren’t there yet, but eventually, we’ll have more of a dialogue rather than depending on the corrupt semi-Official propaganda organs, aka, mainstream media.

      As for the GND or anything like it–everything depends on the results of the next election. If we get another no-change candidate form the DP, even if he or she wins, it’s all over and it’s really all about waiting for the end of the world.

      1. Charger01

        I think Jimmy Dore has it right- if you look for change from Team D, you are wasting your time. Straight up, no additional conversation needed.

      2. jrs

        I think it also boils down to the Senate, which is of course to say it boils down to an extremely undemocratic body (as if the presidency wasn’t already). It can’t be GOP even with Sander’s and get much done. There is of course a risk of blue dog Dems not getting much done eithier, but while that’s a real risk with centrist Dems, it’s a certainty with Rs. Sanders then could only stop really bad stuff, and while that’s good, it’s not the change we need. And people wonder why people also want to act locally (and at the state level) …

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Local and state actions have real effects. Any “national actions only” people who act upset about other people acting at the local and state levels are just jealous of those local and state level people and presumptiously possessive of their time, energy and attention.

    6. jrs

      The fear some of us have is that a GND will not do enough, rather than it does too much. No it’s not a reason to oppose it at all, just to keep asking questions (if we get actual policy proposals).

    7. none

      Craziest of all is the radical center, the Hillbot dead-enders. I can’t stand Ross Douthat so haven’t yet brought myself to read his piece linked here yesterday about the paranoid center, but it sounds important so it’s on my list.

  3. Svante Arrhenius

    “Why were liberals so desperate to believe that Mueller would save democracy?” Because the Washington Post sold them their endorphin/ dopamine fix? The top 9.9% (D & R) has been gavaged totally seperate versions of K Street’s große Lüge since their great grandparents’ day.

    1. Pat

      I think it is simpler than that. They bought a lemon. They were taken for a ride. Better to have the system fail because of an international plot rather than having given billions to the most incompetent candidate ever. Even as every revelation and indictment was about mundane everyday corruption, it had to be about Russia.

      No Saint Mueller was as much about proving the liberal intelligentsia right but robbed as it was about prosecuting collusion between Trump and Russia.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Obama worship was part of it too, not just HRC. “OMG Russia” gathered in plenty of Hillary skeptics, but addressing the state of the country and party also means asking “what happened?”. The answer is Obama spent eight years as a Republican who needed to be stopped on TPP, wreck less wars, attacking social security. It wasn’t a President that suffered from lack of support.

        The Adolph Reed article warning about Obama when he was a state senator was out there. The warning signs were there all the time, but too many people wanted Obama to offer easy answers and simply ignored the problems.

        1. Pat

          You probably have something. In my corner of the world outside of a few die hard Hillary fans, the Obama worship is much deeper. (I still get a lot of “nah nah nah, I can’t hear you” whenever I point out that Obama’s policies and actions paved the way for Trump’s.)

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I imagine it varies based on where they started, and the 2008 primary was nasty. The lack of “wokeness” demonstrated by so many “good liberals” was startling. If you think white washing Bernie Bros is bad… Bill Clinton’s Sister Souljah event had happened, so my own naivete was why I was startled.

            How many people never called their elected’s office? How many people can even remember what Obama just said? Read his books despite obtaining them? Made bizarre justifications for Rahm? The list of regrets is long. Ugh, I just remembered when he reiterated the Bush doctrine at AIPAC and was hailed as diplomatic compared to Shrub because Obama was more formal than W’s opening at the West Point graduation.

            Deep down, they know they are an ignorant lot.

            1. Pat

              I had my moments. Not an Obama fan, but did have hope he could be slightly better than Clinton. I thought Rahm might be a good enforcer, which he was just not for policies I would embrace. I was still keeping my fingers crossed but the focus of the DOJ on Medical Marijuana rather than finance and then the dog’s dinner that was and is ACA taught me.

              IOW I watched what they did and not how cute he and Michelle were…

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Mueller’s sainthood was also necessary to justify Obama’s appeals to bipartisanship. The GOP didn’t become crazy in 2016, but more like 1865 around April (not quite right, but they were terrible before Teddy Roosevelt anyway). Bipartisanship with the GOP is simply stupid, and much of the history of “bipartisanship” that is celebrated is the result of popular actions forcing support or risk losing elections, not inviting Alan Simpson to “fix” Social Security.

        If Mueller was simply part of the cabal that brought us Iraq, the worship of the guy who kept Mueller at the FBI after an election calling or change sure looks embarrassing.

        1. Pat

          Anyone paying attention for the last almost two decades should despise Obama (and Holder) for allowing so many of our war criminals to continue in or return to office. But…

            1. integer

              Turns out Foxx only recused herself from the case in the colloquial sense:

              Kim Foxx defends Jussie Smollett decision as office says she ‘did not formally recuse herself’ Chicago Tribune

              After questions arose this week whether she had followed state law, Foxx’s office appeared to back off whether she ever officially recused herself in the first place.

              While the term “recusal “ was used when it was announced she was stepping away from the Smollett case, a Foxx spokeswoman said, “it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense.”

              “The state’s attorney did not formally recuse herself or the office based on any actual conflict of interest,” Tandra Simonton said in a statement. “As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor under (state law).”

              1. Cal2

                A state’s attorney that misuses legal terminology?
                Confidence inspiring ‘aint it?

                Depends how you define “it.”

                Or, maybe I’m just an anti-semantic.

        2. Svante Arrhenius

          We went directly from “Save us Sheriff Bart,” to Springtime For Hitler, with High Anxiety all along? If we suddenly had video of Debbie, Mook and Podesta on Skype with Brock all screaming, “we’ll tell ’em Putin did it, those fahklempt old stoners will go for ANYTHING!” there’d now be no lefty blogs to post it? We can’t HANDLE the truth!

      3. ex-PFC Chuck

        It’s also the biggest “Look Over There” ever.
        When the Demoblicans do their 3 hour daily Dialing for Dollars shift in those cubbyhole offices on the back side of Capitol Hill they’re not calling those of us who came up with $27.00 for Bernie. They’re calling the same 5 and 10 per centers who the Congress Critters across the aisle call. And the message they’re hearing is that they’re perfectly OK with Betsy DeVos trashing public education. They’re perfectly OK with gutting the EPA. They’re perfectly OK with da de da de da de da. And if you expect me to take your call next time around you’ll be perfectly OK with it too, won’t you?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Even without the propaganda, Americans are such an ignorant lot they are happy to recognize a name such as Biden or Michelle. Once the name Mueller was out there they felt confident repeating the name because the people they encountered also didn’t know who Mueller was. Mueller could be anything to anyone.

      1. pretzelattack

        mueller for president on the democratic ticket! in your heart you know he’s right! etc.

    3. Another Scott

      I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t seen liberals and media start criticizing Mueller along these lines: “He couldn’t find Whitey but provided evidence of WMD that didn’t exist, why should we be surprised that he couldn’t find evidence of collusion that clearly happened.”

      This approach allows them to continue their attacks on Trump and avoid any self-reflection.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This whole thing is about Obama too. Mueller was rehired by Obama, a day HRC didn’t regret the Iraq War until 2013 and then because of “lies.” If Mueller can be wrong, how can our wise father have made another mistake?

        853rd dimensional chess has disappeared, but belief in the great one was strong. Mueller was one of his people who didn’t betray him.

        Though Americans are ignorant, to turn on Mueller raises questions about his supporters. Didn’t they know he was part of the WMD cabal?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Even Obama’s excuses are sorry. Obama was always like this. That’s why pencils have erasers. If Mueller doesn’t have a good heart, could Obama not be all knowing? Before Trump, Maddow’s show was largely about do of us local Republicans. That woman denying marriage certificates was national news for weeks. Embarrassment is an important tool for affecting politics, but after a time, zeroing in on one bigot became a bit much especially when Obama largely spent his first term defending anti-gay statutes from legal challenges.

      2. wilroncanada

        Another Scott
        Someone on one of the web sites I glanced at did have a conspiracy theory. It was a conspiracy between Mueller and Barr to bury the evidence (of something, I think). I didn’t read the story.

    4. zagonostra

      You assume their exist a “democracy” to save.

      In reality the oligarchs achieved their ends.Even now a sizable, if not a majority, of the population believes that the Russians are some sore of nefarious force seeking this country’s demise.

      The conclusions of the Mueller report count for little among the masses, what they were programmed to believe with ~3 years of Maddow Inc. et. al has taken root and so the nuclear modernization program that will spend trillions will have the justification it needs.

      1. Sol

        Yes. We shall be shaken and stirred and pointed at each other until such time as it is of more use to whip us into a froth and point us at a common enemy.

        Reading history sucks these days. I have new insight into how Cassandra of Troy might have felt. Humans repeat patterns, over and over again down through the ages. We fall for the same mug’s game every time. Sometimes we don’t even have to repackage it.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “A tale of daring, violence and intrigue from a North Korea embassy”

    I am guessing that attacking an Embassy in a foreign nation, kidnapping and beating their staff as well as stealing sensitive documents & equipment is a crime in just about any country that has a flag. This gang is back in the US and they have turned over their stolen booty to the FBI. If the US does not arrest them and ship them off to Spain, then they are saying that they authorized the whole raid, especially as one of the raiders is not even American but a Mexican. Sounds like a John Bolton idea to me.
    Then again, Luis Posada Carriles was a terrorist who helped blow up an airplane killing 73 people as well as setting off bombs in Cuba to terrorize tourists with no regret and when he snuck into the US back in 2005, was only briefly detained before being set free until he died at a government home for veterans just last year. Good thing that US embassies are starting to resemble fortresses when built. Blowback is a bitch.

    1. Cal2

      Could they be trying to derail Trump’s peace overtures and help promote more MIC profits in Korea?

        1. Off The Street

          It would be shocking to be a fly on the wall of some pharma (or insert any other neo-lib group here and adjust accordingly) pricing meetings, to hear humans discuss the how and why of their recommendations.

          ‘We know that some people will pay anything, and some will pay a lot, so why not settle on the revenue sweet spot?’

          ‘Remember to ensure coverage and reimbursement so most of them will not be concerned about money coming out of their own pockets.’

          Not that much has really changed since the heady pre-settlement days of cigarette manufacturers.

            1. LifelongLib

              I’ve been in a couple class action suits. Seems like the lawyers get millions and the plaintiffs end up with like $20 each.

          1. Carla

            Well, the link you posted is dated June 2016 and based on research done in California; the one I posted is dated Feb. 2018 and is based on research done in Canada. So I’m going with the more recent, Canadian research results.

  5. integer

    The other side of the Russiagate coin:

    Mueller report: ‘Russiagate’ hoax helped turn ordinary Russians against the US RT

    … high-profile fantasists in the US, such as Rachel Maddow, Michael McFaul and Joy-Ann Reid, have spent years whipping up delirium about a “Trump/Putin” conspiracy. And Russians are fully aware. They know James Clapper, the former Intelligence chief, said “the Russians are not our friends”, before he added how Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor.” Comments which were xenophobic and bigoted towards an entire ethnicity and far beyond criticism of Putin and his government.

    They’ve also seen Morgan Freeman’s nutty video, where the veteran American actor tells viewers “we are at war with Russia”. As a result, the biggest legacy of “Russiagate” here is the transformation of attitudes to the US. And it’s hard to see how goodwill can be restored, in the immediate term.

            1. Steve H.

              Just finished Nowak’s ‘Super Cooperators’ and almost hurled when he was gushing over Epstein’s private island, with a double down of Jeffrey Epstein and Larry Summers in direct negotiations for cash to Harvard.

    1. Procopius

      After what we did to them in the ’90s, I don’t think recent stupidity has affected their opinion of America much. I have, however, seen several articles that assert in 2000, when he first became Prime Minister, Putin had hopes of being able to communicate with the Americans and explain that Russia was done being subservient. He gradually became disillusioned.

  6. dearieme

    “… aggressive and dangerously nostalgic.” That’s pretty rich coming from an Irish newspaper.

    It’s also inaccurate. There’s been no aggression at all – not a hint of “we’ve got nukes”.

    The claim that Brexiteers are nostalgic is bollocks. I have never met a Brexiteer who is nostalgic for the old Empire. I suppose it’s just a lie told by Remoaners to comfort themselves. It’s on a par, I’d think, with the Putin-hacked-the-election rubbish, the lie that Clintonistas told to comfort themselves.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I suggest you read your own post, then look up ‘cognitive dissonance’ in Wikipedia.

      1. Watt4Bob

        I also found this comment suspect because I thought the IT article, and all those who contributed quite clear-eyed and easy to understand.

        I don’t think I’ve read much that can compare in terms of thoughtful, concise exposition of the issue’s obviously rotten origins and terrible consequences.

        It makes me wonder if the UK, like the US is in the clutches of a uni-party, Labor and Tories being its sort-of-right, and very-right wings?

        I mean, is the UK government as a whole, in the possession of Billionaire ultras poised to make a killing on Brexit?

        1. JBird4049

          It makes me wonder if the UK, like the US is in the clutches of a uni-party, Labor and Tories being its sort-of-right, and very-right wings?

          You are correct. Bernie Sanders, and from what I understand Jeremey Corbyn in Labor, was in the center of the Democratic Party. I can tell you that both the American Democratic and Republican Parties ejected, or at best isolated, anyone who did not move rightward in ostensibly benefitial ways that enriched usually already wealthy. The privatization in the United States and the public-partnerships that always seem to cost and do less than the governmental agencies that they supplanted.

          Studying the whole process including its history and how it is all connected either in class or from my own personal books is fascinating. Still makes me want to bring tumbrels back in fashion.

          1. shtove

            I wear tumbrels on my feet. Not so comfortable, but they give great definition to my hairy legs.

            1. rtah100

              The Irish Times article was sad and tedious. Is there not a single Irish writer who believes in self-determination? Are they all bloodless centrists? Have they forgotten the meaning of Sinn Fein (“Ourselves, alone”)? If the UK has tired of the technocratic Stepford of Brussels, why should it not quit for a muddy hovel in the back of beyond? Or has neoliberalism gripped EIRE’s literary class to such an extent that they can only think in terms of administrative convenience and GDP figures? There is more to life and art than money. Perhaps the emigres are self-selectingly avaricious….

              Also, the repeated claim of an increase in hate crimes is not supported by the statistics. The police reported hate crime figures have risen 17% since the referendum but this is acknowledged to be mostly better recording and the wider Crime Survey figures have fallen 40% since 2009. There have been clear spikes around events, not just the referendum but also various terrorist atrocities, but there is no clear evidence for a sustained rise in hate crime here.

              1. JBird4049

                I don’t know anything about crime in Ireland. I can say that bringing up some slogan of Law and Order or about the newest threat on the group of choice is great distraction from the problems that the ruling elites do not want you to see.

                That is not to deny that a problem does not exist. It is that the horror that is the gangs, alt-right, KKK, Black Pathers, NRA, or whatever magically increases whenever inconvenient facts or views start getting attention.

  7. Polar Donkey

    In Mississippi education news. The Mississippi state senate approved a $4,000 raise for teachers. Sent bill to the state house. State house sent it to closed door committee hearing. The bill that came out of committee was $1,500 pay raise and expanded funding for charters. Mississippi teachers angry. Today may have been first wildcat strike. 120 teachers called in sick in Hernando. Last teacher strike in Mississippi was in the 1980’s. After which, the state legislature passed law banning strikes and automatic termination if a teacher does strike.

  8. johnnygl

    Go teachers in Mississippi!!!

    “if they can win in ____, they can win anywhere!” — seems like this kind of thing would apply to Mississippi, as much as it did to W. Va. a couple years ago.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Germany declines to recognize Juan Guaido’s Berlin emissary”

    Sounds like a case of buyer’s remorse here. Pompeo must have sold Merkel on the idea that the whole thing would be over in a week or two so recognizing Greedo might lead to some nice juicy contracts down the road. Well that hasn’t panned out at all and countries like Germany, who must have ignored their legal experts frantically trying to wave them down, are trying to work out what to do next. Having the Russians deploy a team of specialists to Venezuela has probably underlined that the jig is up, hence their not willing to recognize Greedo’s self-appointed Ambassador. Time for some damage control now and not to ramp up the situation even more. I doubt that Germany would go along with the idea of a starvation blockade, for example, as has been done to other countries, especially since Germany experienced that itself a century ago. As they would say in Germany; “Ach, Scheiße! Was jetzt?”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I have a feeling working with Trump isn’t sitting well at home either. Merkel might believe she is clever in an approach to trade issues, but Bolton and his ilk are just so vile and have track records. It might not be a street issue, but more honest FP types can’t be happy even their own thugs because they know Trump can’t handle the aftermath.

  10. diptherio

    I caught the BBC world service for a few minutes yesterday and some pundit was talking about Uber. It’s a little like watching the reactions to the Mueller report as it became more clear that it wasn’t going to be anything. Suddenly, people are starting to hedge their bets a little…but just a little.

    The pundit, to his credit, did mention the huge losses both Uber and Lyft have been racking up, and also the fact that unhappy drivers are demanding, and will probably ultimately require, higher wages and some type of benefits. He talked about the upcoming IPOs for both companies, but failed to connect the dots that hugely unprofitable companies that are already cutting corners in ways that undercut their business model (such as it is) are in no way going to be able to become profitable companies in the next year or so.

    After mentioning all the problems with the business model of the two companies, and their labor woes, the interviewer and guest then went on to talk as if, obviously, these companies will be with us forever. Cognitive dissonance much?

    This article from their website, published this morning, displays much the same rhetorical style of presenting facts and then studiously refusing to connect them.

    1. boz

      Thank you, diptherio.

      It is not old news, but I find it ludicrous that anyone believes Lyft, Tesla et al have any intrinsic value.

      “They’re losing money every single day!”

      “Yeah, but look at the passenger growth!”

      Either I) looking for a piece of a future monopoly / consumer scalping (yuk) or II) believe they can sell on to another sucker before the Ponzi collapseth (also yuk)

      What you see is the transmission of faulty motivations from the pre-IPO company (read: asymmetry of information, insiders cashing out) to asset managers (who should know better but are not rewarded for saying so) and the public (who are vulnerable to groupthink and charlatans).

      What is a decent business these days?

    2. ewmayer

      “rhetorical style of presenting facts and then studiously refusing to connect them.”

      Well, that mirrors the whole “business model” of Uber and Lyft, which seems straight out of the idea factory of the South Park Underpants Gnomes:

      1. Rapidly capture market share by offering massively-below-cost rides subsidized by investor monies;
      3. Profit!

      We just need to tweak Step 2 a little bit…

      1. wilroncanada

        Well, out here in fantasyland (British Columbia), the government is still saying that they will allow Uber and Lyft to operate here by the end of this year. They have been facing fierce opposition for what is considered stalling, from the corporate PR, and from people who travel and have found these lawbreakers a convenience, and cheap. The local Victoria channel that leans right did a short survey (one a day on the 5PM news) and to their horror, I suspect, got a response of a sizeable majority favouring the idea that the drivers must have the same qualifications as taxi drivers, class 4 license, medical exam, criminal record check, and car inspections.
        The public is not stupid!

  11. Cal2

    “Pelosi and McConnell Are Inching Us Closer to Nuclear War…”

    IOW, “Every time they spew “Trump is Putin’s puppet”, they goad him into doing stupid things to show he is not a wimp.”

    “Vaporization for equity”

  12. rd

    re: Mueller Investigation

    I supported the Mueller Investigation playing out to the end and the report should be released minus minor redactions for national security intelligence gathering and some grand jury testimony regarding irrelevant things.

    However, it was never clear to me that there would be a finding of collusion with the Russians. I am generally not big on conspiracies because conspiracies take a lot of thinking, effort, coordination, and competence. These are all attributes that are in fairly short supply. So if you can attribute something to laziness, incompetence, and disorganization, then Occam’s Razor says to pick that conclusion.

    I suspect, similar to the Clinton Ken Starr process, that it will be sidebar investigations that will penetrate into the Trumps. In particular things related to money (which does get a lot of time and effort paid to it) as currently observable in the various side investigations going on in the NY AG’s office and the NY fed prosecutor office.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Is this the end of the American century?”

    To ask if America will still be on top or whether it will be China by the end of the century may be irrelevant. Because of the intensification of climate change, they may have bigger fish to fry by then.

    1. Wyoming

      On the contrary.

      Who is still on top of the various piles around the world by the end of the century is the ‘most’ relevant thing there can be. And it is exactly because of climate change and the collapse of global carrying capacity. The bigger fish to fry is survival so who ends up on top (there will be lots of tops as the decline which will happen will reduce the global nature of power that exists today) is of paramount importance.

      In a rapidly declining world those who are weakest will be the first to go. Those who are strongest will be actively and passively facilitating the demise of those who are weakest. It is absolutely clear that there will not be enough resources to go around thus guaranteeing large global declines. People, by their nature, do not willingly accommodate their being the ones who get shuffled to the back of the lifeboat line and many of them will get violent. Thus being the top power in your region is essential as you will be fighting with many of these people/countries until they are incapable of threatening you further.

      This issue is at the core of my previous comments on the mistake being made by many of the commentators on Brexit. They are taking a short term tactical view (or mid-term if you take it to mean 10-15 years or so) of the Brexit situation and ignoring the long term strategic issue. This is the same issue as above. For the EU it is far more sensible to facilitate the UK’s exit from the EU as it will improve their long term need to push weaker entities under the bus. Someone will have to go under the bus over and over again as the years go by and if the Brits are self seeking of this then it is foolish not to take advantage of the opportunity.

      While we are on this general kind of subject I would like to point out there is likely to be a sea change in the US regarding public opinions on immigration over the next 12 months. Note that detentions along the border are skyrocketing this year and they have already passed total detentions for the years 2015 & 2017. 2018 will be passed in the next few weeks. Detentions are currently higher than anytime in the last 10 years. See graph here:

      Economic, security, and social collapses are occurring in Latin American on a wide scale (largely precipitated by US policies and demands of various kinds) and, coupled with those same climate and carrying capacity issues, are going to dramatically increase attempted immigration to the US. We are likely starting to see the rising tide right now.

      If we get to the end of this year and the totals detained at the border are hitting numbers well in excess of 1 million the political s**t is going to hit the fan. Just in time for the primary season and the election. Get your popcorn and whiskey out and recline the sofa as it is going to get really ‘interesting’. The Democrat’s should be terrified.

      1. JBird4049

        The influx of immigrants into the United States depends not only on how bad life is south of the border, it also depends on how bad it is north of the Rio Grande. If we are going into the Great Recession 2.0 or God help us, the Second Great Depression, immigrantion will simply not pick up. If you are going to go hungry no matter what, you want to be hungry at home not some foreign country.

        Not to mention that the unemployed, hungry, and homeless Americans will not be accepting of them. Foodbanks are underfunded right now and have been since at least 2008, which makes the assertion by many that the economy is/was doing great complete garbage.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Remember the comments, a while back, about the Chinese lunar diety, Chang’e, whose name Beijing has invoked often to name after their space probes?

      Her husband was Hou Yi.

      From Wikipedia:

      In Chinese lore, when 10 Suns rose from Earth and scorched the fields, turning the world into a wasteland, Houyi shot down 9 of the 10 Suns, leaving the last one alive.

      He saved the world from an earlier Global Warming.

    3. polecat

      I think the fish will already come ‘pre-fried’ ..

      .. except, perhaps, for the jellies and lionfish ..

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      Both China and America already have bigger fish to fry — but they aren’t interested in frying Climate-Chaos fish. That is one conclusion I take from Tooze’s analysis, and as a corollary I think it’s clear our Power Elite intends maintain its long-time policy of doing nothing to address Climate Chaos. Further I think our Power Elite will do nothing to address the exhaustion of natural resources — other than step up the level of coercion and open violence exercised in grabbing up as much as possible and using it up as fast as possible.

      The most I would conclude from Tooze’s analysis of the American Century is that it isn’t over yet. But now the gloves are off — our Power Elite is ready to go at world dominion bare-knuckle with little pretense — and our domestic police forces seem similarly disposed to maintaining ‘order’ in the Homeland. “What is worrying, therefore, isn’t simply Trump himself, but the forces in America that enable him.” Tooze describes a continuity of American policy pursued across the decades and across party lines reflecting the intentions of our Power Elite. The endless wars and the MIC spending on expensive nuclear and ‘conventional’ weapons reflects the continuity of the MIC ties to Corporate profits.

      This promises an unhappy ending.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      If any major country can deal with global heating and ocean rise it could be China.

      ” The Great Seawall of China’.

  14. zagonostra

    >Bernie vs. O’Rourke from the LA Times

    Michael Soneff, 28, a political activist who organized support for O’Rourke as part of a “Draft Beto” movement before his campaign was announced, sees some similarity in young voters’ attraction to Sanders and O’Rourke.

    “A lot of people were inspired by Bernie in 2016 because he was willing to say things that were inconvenient truths. Beto shares that,” said Soneff, a Los Angeles native. “Young voters have trouble connecting with candidates who say things over and over and don’t do it authentically. Authenticity is the new currency of our politics, and Beto is rich in authenticity.”

    The spin is getting into high gear…their is about as much authenticity in O’Rourke as HRC being a progressive…

      1. polecat

        I’m gonna throw down the gauntlet and state right here and now, that I’d have absolutely, positively NO qualms being referred to .. even derisively so by those spinless jellyfish, otherwise known as the Clintonoides .. as a Tulsi Dude.

        Now, I ask you … how could anything be cooler than that !

        “Hang Ten with Tulsi” .. “Hang Ten Moar for the Surfer Pres. !!”

        1. Wukchumni

          My mid 20’s nephew is a 3-4x a week surfer down in L.A. and we were comparing wilderness experiences and he mentioned that when he was out on the ocean on a surfboard, was the only time he could be unconnected from the world, just over the wire.

          A surfer President wouldn’t work, the Chief Executive is never allowed to do anything that has a lot of people exposure, which allows you one ho hum option when getting out-to golf on a closed course.

          1. polecat

            Oh come on now !! She Already surrounded by Beltway hammerheads ! I’m sure she can maneuver the Capital Pipe 5 by 5 .. considering she’s gotta pretty good grip on that StatusQuo harpoon gun she’s wearin.

            1. polecat

              …. and besides, when the next big cyclone comes barging into D.C., as the surfin pres. she’ll have all things to herself as she rides the roughwaters facing the Washington Monument, unencumbered … while everyone else is bottom up, quivering like the slimy sea cucumbers that they are ! Even the USS ‘I’m with HER ->’ Seahag will be nowhere to be found.

  15. voteforno6

    Re: Michael Tracey on Russiagate

    Tracey makes some good points on how this has blown up in the faces of the Democrats. I think, though, that Mueller might have actually handed a huge gift to the Democrats, too. Imagine if this had happened in October of next year? There’s a lot of time to go until the general election. Trump could keep hammering away all he wants (and he will, I’m sure), but if the public has already moved on from it, they’ll tune that out.

    Of course, this assumes that the Democrats (and the media) don’t keep trying to reinflate this bubble.

    1. JohnnyGL

      That’s actually quite possibly true, in terms of timing.

      I was sort of suprised/amazed at how, around 6 months before the 2018 mid-terms, team Dem faded Russia-gate out of the picture until after the election was over, then cranked it right back up again.

      It felt almost uncanny. It’s almost like they really cared about russia-gate, sincerely. They took a break to get themselves elected, then got right back on script to the same game-playing post-election.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Not entirely sure. But the link works fine for me.

        RCP and related sites have a lot of ads packed into them. I’ve got a pop-up blocker, so that might be killing what you’ve got above before it starts.

    1. ewmayer

      Happened to read the Wiki article on Tin recently as part of backgrounding re. lead-free low-temperature solders, the kind used in many modern electronics. One of the more popular mixes is Sn42Bi58, 42 parts Tin and 58 parts Bismuth, with a melting point of just 138C, not much above the boiling temperature of water but nicely solid at the normal operating temps of electronics, even ‘hot’ ones. Tin’s counterpart in that mix, Bismuth, is an interesting element because it lives in a very bad neighborhood of the periodic table – its heavy-metal neighbors Lead, Antimony and Polonium are all highly toxic – but Bi has low toxicity. Check out the pics of Bi crystals on the Wikipage, too – the iridescence is spectacular.

      1. Synapsid


        Bismuth is radioactive but so modest about it that no one notices. Its half-life is a bit over ten to the nineteenth power years, and that’s a million times the age of the Universe.

        In crystalline form it is indeed spectacular.

  16. jfleni

    RE: Pelosi and McConnell Are Inching Us Closer to Nuclear War.

    Two raving nuts have completely lost it. NATO is a just a ripe and smelly dung
    drop that just will not flush and has US funds shoveled at it. Pelosi and McConnell
    are deranged believers in “bi-partisan” disaster!

  17. anon in so cal

    “Pelosi and McConnell Are Inching Us Closer to Nuclear War”

    “When Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell teamed up to invite NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress, they had every reason to expect the April 3 speech to be a big hit with U.S. media and political elites. The establishment is eager to affirm the sanctity of support for the transatlantic military alliance.

    Huge reverence for NATO is matched by how dangerous NATO has become. NATO’s continual expansion — all the way to Russia’s borders — has significantly increased the chances that the world’s two nuclear superpowers will get into direct military conflict….”

    “NATO is coming to DC to mark 70 years since its creation on April 4, 1949. NATO is the largest military alliance in the world with the largest military spending (roughly three-quarters of the world total) and nuclear stockpiles. While claiming to “preserve peace,” NATO has violated international law and bombed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has exacerbated tensions with Russia and increased the risk of nuclear apocalypse. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world.”

    1. newcatty

      Why is this reminding me of the absolutely disgusting invitation to Netanyahu to address Congress? It was outrageous, and it was not anything to do with dissing Obama.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Russian Advisers Will Stay in Venezuela ‘as Long as Necessary,’ Moscow Vows”

    I think that one of my biggest disappointments is how the 21st century is resembling more the 19th century for its smash and grab of resources from weaker countries than an advance on the 20th century. Trump and Pompeo have already said the assault against Venezuela is all about the oil. Russia has recognized that if Trump succeeds, then the US will be in a commanding position regarding world oil prices using its own and Venezuela’s oil. Not that the Venezuelan people would see much of it. So now the Russians are setting themselves up in the western hemisphere. Only fair considering all those NATO tank parades meters from the Russian border and recon aircraft and promised nuclear-tipped missiles. So I guess that this is the first installment of blowback for Trump’s Venezuelan adventure with the promise of more to come.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      It is a key issue in the world-game of power politics. Generally, Putin/Lavrov have proved to be excellent players of that game–with few resources and on eleventh the military budget and half the population of the USA they have made Russia a competent player. Who backs down? Both will have to.

  19. flora

    Some musings on AI in general.

    I’ve spotted in comments remarks from a few “commenters” that sure seem to me like AI bot generated output, not something written by a human having some fun. My reasons for this assessment are that the same “commenter” will project wide voice swings and personality changes in a short period of time. This is just my opinion and nothing I can prove, of course. It’s been fun to watch.

    One of the consistent personality (if you can call it that) changes of these apparently generated comments is that the “commenter’s” introductory compassionate and caring voice is fairly quickly followed by his/its angry jerk voice. That’s been fun to watch. But it’s got me thinking: What if that is the logical devolution of an AI “personality”?

    Think of the AI algos already reported on that are coded to learn human responses but then, over time, start responding with the worst human traits, much to the surprise of the algo designers. The AI they coded wasn’t supposed to respond with anger or abuse; wasn’t supposed to learn and repeat all the –ism’s. That makes me wonder what basis the AI designers use to code for stimuli/response in AI learning.

    As a practical example, I wonder if the ‘self-driving’ car learns that road rage and aggressive driving are a correct response to traffic situations. Running over a pedestrian, running over a bicyclist, speeding into a crosswalk to beat a traffic light, trying to pass slow lanes of traffic by driving over the white lane-edge marker onto the shoulder while speeding up…. If a self-drive car’s owner is an aggressive driver does the car “learn” to be aggressive, but in its own way?

    Plenty of examples of people trying to pass on the shoulder and running into a guard rail. Now a self-driving car has done the same.

    I’ll never know the answer to these questions. Doubt I’ll ever buy a self-driving car.

    1. Wukchumni

      I don’t know how you figured it out, but yes, i’m a bot hooked into a Google search engine that spits out words on here, some of it even useful.

      1. Sol

        I found your article to be very useful, like this website where I buy all of my prescription eyeglasses for $11. *links*

    2. PlutoniumKun

      That’s really interesting, although the phenomenon of some commentators changing tone may well be due to various other issues, which if I spelt out I might get accused of prejudice.

      My nephew (a very good hacker) has a successful online business which depends on his ability to build algos to hunt down bots which are used to fill out online questionnaire forms. Its beyond my paygrade to understand what he does (I’m sure you do), but essentially he says they almost all conform to mathematical patterns that can quickly be identified. I wonder if AI allows for bots that ‘break’ standard patterns and are maybe less detectable – I must ask him. But it occurs to me that if you use AI to design bots that avoid detectable patterns, you may end up making them prone to bizarre behaviour.

      But as you say, the potential for AI to go horribly wrong in things like self driving cars seems all too real. Human behaviour is hard enough to predict, and we all have that model in our heads. It does seem more than a little unwise to give AI systems control over peoples lives. I’m not looking forward to cycling around cities with AI controlled vehicles.

      1. Sol

        It does seem more than a little unwise to give AI systems control over peoples lives.

        Here’s some of that synchronicity again. I was just mulling this.

        I have an inkling we’ve done exactly that. Put AI in charge, that is. So to speak. Bide a wee, I’ll explain.

        Putting AI in charge is stupid, everyone knows this, and everyone knows this because in books and movies it follows a pattern of events.

        Everything works grandly for X period of time (X being from five minutes to some amount of years).

        Then the AI makes obscenely stupid and/or horrifying choices, depending on the genre, that while being not the slightest bit justifiable are still perfectly within the parameters of the computer’s programming. It’s all logical to the computer. It’s only logical to the computer.

        Screaming, mayhem, explosions and/or hilarity ensues.

        Is this a trope or just formulaic? No idea, maybe it doesn’t matter. But that’s what we seem to be doing doing. Society is operating as an AI.

        “Procedures were followed.”

        “Nothing we did was wrong, we stuck to the policy after all.”

        “Everything was approved by my supervisor.”

        “There’s nothing illegal about this.”

        “We had all the appropriate impact studies, and community support.”

        “A judge signed off on it.”

        1. Tim

          Programming thought requires some amount of structure. Policies and procedires and requirements are about structure as well to lessen probabilities of undesired errors due to incompitence.

          ANd when one lives in that structured world long enough you tend to think that way. SO you are on to something, that people are already behaving a lot like robots in an ISO 9000 certified kinda way.

      1. Wukchumni

        Last time I saw gout was @ Fatima around the turn of the century, when my better half had a dogma catatonic that didn’t take, and so the story goes there were some children that witnessed a miracle during WW1, so a nothing-burger church was turned into a big one with a sloping plaza that went for a couple hundred yards, and an outdoor open air pint-sized shrine with astroturf runners around it, when it started coming down in buckets and I sought refuge down under, where I watched 3 or 4 women crawling around the shrine on hands and knees, my money being on the middle-aged German woman with gout, who held a narrow but steady margin over what I took to be an English lady possibly with hip dispersion-but game nonetheless…the others far back, in what I termed…

        The Fatima Five Hundred

    3. Watt4Bob

      That exact phenomenon was part of a sub-plot of The Andromeda Strain Michael Crichton 1971.

      Researchers had an AI program that taught synthetic personalities to interact by giving gifts to one another.

      They had a number of different ‘personalities‘ programmed, some ‘nice‘ and some not so nice, they would give and receive ‘gifts‘ and also respond about what ‘gifts‘ they liked, and which they didn’t, and how thankful they were or weren’t.

      The point of the story was reached when a very ‘nice’, docile program responded to an increasingly aggressive “nasty’ programs offer of a pineapple.

      The docile program at first declined politely, “No thank you, I’d rather not have a pineapple.”, but after the ‘nasty‘ program repeatedly pushed the pineapple ‘gift’ the ‘nice’ program flew into a rage, saying something like “No, I don’t want a pineapple, I will kill you!”

      This was explained in the book as a possible unexpected result of ‘Machine Learning‘ the ‘nice‘ learned to be an ass after interacting with one.

      Michael Crichton 1971, I considered myself warned.

    4. Wukchumni

      Dear Friend, I am a director in the foreign affairs department of the Democratic Concerned Citizens of Congo (DCCC). I got your email during a Personal research on the Internet and wish to use this opportunity to notify you of the existence of a certain amount we wish to transfer Overseas for the purpose of investments and importation of goods from your country. In May 2018, a contract of sixty-six million United States dollars ($66,000,000) was awarded to a foreign company by my ministry. The Contract was supply, erection and system optimization of supper polyore200,000-bpsd, system optimization of 280,000-monax axial plants and the computerization of conveyor belt for Kaduna refinery. With the Consent of only the head of the contract evaluation department, I over Invoiced the contract value by thirty four million United States dollars ($34,000,000:00).

      The contract has since been completed and the foreign company fully paid off. But, in the office files and paper work, the company is still owed USD34M representing the over invoiced amount. Because this amount is derived from the award and execution of a foreign contract, there is no way the money can be paid locally. That is why I am contacting you so that we can do the project together for our mutual benefit. We have concluded every necessary arrangement to transfer this amount to a foreign account as the final phase payment for the said contract. I solicit your assistance to enable us transfer the said amount into your safe bank account and after we shall come over there to share the money with you. You can either provide us with an existing account or to set up a new bank account immediately to receive this money, even an empty a/c can serve to receive this money, as long as you will remain honest to me till the end of this important business trusting in you and believing that you will never let me down either now or in future.

    5. barefoot charley

      Very interesting thoughts, thanks Flora! In my (unavailingly) limited experience, algorithms lead users to extremes–of opinion, of authority, of pornography, of behavior. Whether this is designed, or self-guided by successful engagements, or just inevitable convergence, almost doesn’t matter. Facebook simply can’t stop teasing clickers to palm-sweating fringes, any more than click-baiters can stop steering their prey ever-deeper into fantastical extremes. So of *course* Uber can’t follow the rules–that would go against the rules!

    6. polecat

      It Ain’t Me ! I double .. no, triple .. no, quadruple digitally pinkie swear !!

      I’m all thumbs .. really !

  20. allan

    Key Trump health official spends millions on GOP-connected consultants [Politico]

    The Trump appointee who oversees Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare quietly directed millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts to Republican communications consultants during her tenure atop the agency — including hiring one well-connected GOP media adviser to bolster her public profile.

    The communications subcontracts approved by CMS Administrator Seema Verma — routed through a larger federal contract and described to POLITICO by three individuals with firsthand knowledge of the agreements — represent a sharp break from precedent at the agency. Those deals, managed by Verma’s deputies, came in some cases over the objections of CMS staffers, who raised concerns about her push to use federal funds on GOP consultants and to amplify coverage of Verma’s own work. CMS has its own large communications shop, including about two dozen people who handle the press. …

    One subcontract is with Pam Stevens, a longtime GOP media adviser who specializes in setting up profiles of Republican women. …

    Stevens — a former Condoleezza Rice aide who did two short stints in the Trump administration in 2017 — pitched Verma to media outlets like Fox News, CBS and NBC, as well as for events hosted by the Milken Institute and other organizations. Widely known for her extensive Rolodex, Stevens generally has avoided the health journalists who regularly cover CMS in favor of brokering conversations with media executives or lifestyle reporters, and shepherding Verma to after-hours networking events with prominent journalists. …

    File under Building Your Personal Brand with Taxpayer Dollars While the Back Row Kids are Kicked Off of Medicaid.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think, if it is MMT money, then, we are not talking about taxpayer dollars.

  21. Carey

    I signed up the other day for the Committee to Investigate Russia Russia’s email list, and got this from them this morning:

    “Editor’s Note: I wanted to share yesterday’s update again in case you missed it. Now that Robert Mueller has finished his work, we believe it is time to wind down The Committee to Investigate Russia. Your generosity and support sustained us four months longer than expected, and for that, I am so incredibly grateful. Tomorrow will be our last Daily Briefing, but please stay subscribed. I’ll share some more news then about what’s next. – Jacki”


  22. Chris Cosmos

    The Tooze piece in the LRB on the end (not) of the American Century is very good.

    As of today, two years into the Trump presidency, it is a gross exaggeration to talk of an end to the American world order. The two pillars of its global power – military and financial – are still firmly in place. What has ended is any claim on the part of American democracy to provide a political model. This is certainly a historic break. Trump closes the chapter begun by Woodrow Wilson in the First World War, with his claim that American democracy articulated the deepest feelings of liberal humanity.

    We are at the end of that chapter (finally) and back to a more honest world of power-politics. Sure the US government still loads on the bullshit about democracy but it is so obviously ludicrous that nobody intelligent can believe it. One thing that Tooze does not mention is the high degree of nationalism present in the USA. There are few cultural markers that bring Americans together other than the national anthem and the flag that is worshiped at all sporting events, for example. The US military has a 74% approval rating despite its obvious incompetence and extreme bloat. Americans want us to be an imperial power that makes other people tremble at our approach. Belligerence is seldom a political mistake and Trump’s posturing fits in very well with working class attitudes. I shared an office in the late nineties with a Chinese intellectual, a victim of the cultural revolution who was in a camp for his entire teen years because his parents were intellectuals, and he was quite patriotic anyway and he commented on China rise and that the US would back down eventually–I told him that if China or any other country attacked or seemed to attack the US there would be a national furor of cries of revenge and a strong out-of-proportion response. America’s slack morals and hedonism should never be underestimated when it comes to war.

    As the neocons rightly assessed only Empire and permanent war can bind Americans together lest the entire culture degenerate into hedonism and tribalism. I believe we are not seeing the end of the Empire but the opposite, a consolidation of Empire despite local setbacks as in Syria. Also, Trump is always underestimated but in my observation he’s been very cagey and has weathered an unprecedented full out attack from the mainstream media and the entertainment media that has certainly never occurred to this degree since the Civil War and this article, rare in intellectual circles gives him some credit for smarts despite the usual ritual condemnation.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Do you really believe “As the neocons rightly assessed only Empire and permanent war can bind Americans together lest the entire culture degenerate into hedonism and tribalism” ? I have trouble viewing Empire and permanent war as the glue holding our culture together, preserving it from degeneration into hedonism and tribalism. I think long work hours, low-pay, and high rents and other costs of living might help dampen the American culture’s degeneration into hedonism and tribalism — and what is tribalism and how is it related to hedonism? I tend to believe the MIC like a cancer has extended so many economic strands into Corporate profits that monied interests bolster the durability of neocons. Similarly promoting Empire is intimately tied with Corporate profits. And what of American’s manic patriotism? It’s one thing to sing the anthem and god bless the standing Army and our police but what would happen if someone tried to start the draft up again?

      1. Chris Cosmos

        We seem to need some kind of common purpose. My choice would be to deal with climate change and the environment.

        1. Jerermy Grimm

          I agree with that idea but I am pessimistic about its chances, and worry how it could easily be twisted into yet another Neoliberal money machine that accomplishes nothing but profits nicely.

  23. Michael

    Following the Lyft IPO opening today waiting for the first trade….price rising from original estimates of $72, now $85-87.

    Financial talking heads uncharacteristically skeptical and focused on many of the operating issues as they relate to long term profitability HH laid out in great detail.

    However, the governance and voting structure is where the large potential investors are squirming. Not one 1 share 1 vote, but B shares owned by two Founders controlling 48.3% of votes. Other items also around Board structure and bylaws and lockups.

    Big payday for Google, GM , VCs and a few others.

    1. ewmayer

      Ended its first-day trading session less than 10% above the IPO price of $72, and down quite a ways from the opening pop @$87. Call me unimpressed – but I’m sure its all exponential groaf as far the eyes can see from here onward. Too the moon, Alice!

      But yeah, insiders and the iBanks in on the IPO cashing in(out) nicely, for sure. It’s not about building a long-term-viable business and creating value for the larger economy anymore – it’s all about the Bezzle.

  24. Sol

    “Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell said [that] the agency would need 10,000 more employees and an additional $1.8 billion a year to do all the work now done by designated employees of the companies it regulates.”

    Doing a proper job of work would cost effort and fiat. So we half-arse it at significant savings to the taxpayers!

  25. crittermom

    >”Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic seizure odour in humans”

    Good article. I especially appreciated the fact they gave specifics regarding exactly how the testing was done.

    I’ve long been of the belief that animals possess intuitiveness that we humans have yet to recognize. Even beyond the olfactory, however.

    A young neighborhood rancher had suffered a TBI as a child & suffered some form of seizures into his teens.
    His faithful dog seemed to know when one was coming & would herd him.

    More remarkable was that his HORSE also seemed to sense one coming on. It would sidle up to a barn or outbuilding so its rider could slump against the structure until he recovered.
    Neither animal was ever trained for such tasks, and I don’t see how the horse could know through just olfactory sense, as the rider was atop the horse.

    While it has long been proven that dogs can smell diseases, in my very humble opinion animals senses go far beyond. I believe we have barely scratched the surface in how intuitive many animal species truly are.

    1. crittermom

      As a side note, I saw my first White-lined Sphinx Moth (“Hummingbird Moth”) of the year when I ventured outside earlier. It was lifeless as it sat on the cold sidewalk in the shade so encouraged it onto my hand fearing it would soon get stepped on or injured by a dog.

      I then took it to an area of sunlight and upon checking a few minutes later it was beating its wings & then flew off.
      My first ‘rescue’ of the year, which left me smiling.

        1. newcatty

          Crittermom and Janie, appreciate uplifting comments.

          If I can stop one heart from breaking
          I shall not live in vain;
          If I can ease one life the aching,
          Or cool one pain,
          Or help one fainting robin into his nest again,
          I shall not live in vain.
          Emily Dickinson

      1. polecat

        Some tomato vines, however, will not be pleased at the impending skeletonization resulting from your kind gesture …. ‘:(

        1. crittermom

          Oh, my. I had no idea they ate those. (I know of no one growing them nearby, however).
          I’ve only seen them sucking the nectar from cherry blossoms (I contributed a photo last year I’d taken of one at night at the cherry tree) & other flowers in the garden section of stores.

          With the horrible wind today, no doubt that poor moth has been blown to Kansas by now anyway. ;-)

          1. polecat

            “blown to Kansas” ..
            I guess for the moth’s sake, we can both agree to hope that tomatoes grow in OZ …. ‘;]

            “THERE’S something you don’t right see everyday … a moth of a different color !”

  26. barrisj

    Only in America:

    Grindr Is Owned by a Chinese Firm, and the U.S. Is Trying to Force It to Sell

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expanding its efforts to block Chinese acquisitions in the United States, moving to force a Chinese firm that owns Grindr, the gay dating app, to relinquish control over concerns that Beijing could use personal information to blackmail or influence American officials, according to people familiar with the situation.

    The action, which is being driven by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, is unusual given that the panel typically investigates mergers that could result in control of an American business by a foreign individual or company, judging whether deals could threaten national security. This appears to be the first case in which the United States has asserted that foreign control of a social media app could have national security implications.

    The administration has not announced the move, which will require that Grindr be sold, or explained it. But officials familiar with the case, which was first reported by Reuters, say the concern focused on the potential for the blackmail of American officials or contractors, if China threatened to disclose their sexual orientation, or track their movements or dating habits
    The United States has also pressed China to allow insurance companies and other American firms that control personal data to enter the Chinese market, a demand that goes back nearly two decades. China has agreed to do so, and that agreement is expected to be part of the larger trade deal being negotiated between American and Chinese negotiators.

    But the Grindr case could give the Chinese government an excuse to make its own national security claims if American firms sought to purchase a Chinese insurance company, or any of its social media firms.

    If anything, the current Chinese ownership probably means that Grindr can be potentially hacked no matter who ultimately owns it…as is the case with virtually all social media, regardless of nationality of controlling interest.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How would that personal information figure in Beijing’s social credit scoring should a similar system exist over there?

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe there are more than a few officials in Washington who are nervous that the Chinese might reveal their use of this app. Remember the fallout when Ashley Madison was hacked?

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Goals and Rewards Redraw the Brain’s Map of the World


    If your goal is $1 billion and you get that, your brain is redrawn to want more?

  28. Louis Fyne

    Mueller doesn’t have impeccable credentials which made all this media/progressive fawning over him even more infuriating. See post 9/11 FBI.

    1. polecat

      The same can be said of the Blobsey Twins .. e.i. Brennen & Clapper !

      where’s a vomitoria when you really need one ?? My ‘I-Heart-I C’ waste basket is overflowing ..

  29. dcrane

    Re: seizure study

    The greatest challenge in science is to exclude incidental correlation.

    It seems clear that there was a different odor associated with the “seizure samples”. The authors didn’t discuss how they became confident that no unrelated olfactory correlate became temporally associated with the seizures. For example, if seizures occur more often in the morning or at night while in bed, then the subjects might have had more/less soap/deodorant/perfume scent (or less/more sweat odor) on them than at other times. The non-seizure samples were taken at “pseudo-random” times (apparently always during the day even though as stated seizures “could” happen at night). One also has to wonder if there could have been unnoticed differences in the sampling method for the planned “day samples” versus the necessarily opportunistic seizure samples. Anyway, this is the sort of problem that scientists should be thinking about right from the beginning, so it’s concerning to find no discussion of this general issue. They didn’t report the times of day of the sampled seizures.

  30. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “Seven Midwestern Superfund Sites Have Dealt With Flooding Since the Bomb Cyclone, But EPA Says Everything’s Fine” — The superfund sites may not be the only pollution problems with the Midwestern flooding. I’m glad the EPA thinks “everything is fine”. Whatever credibility they may have had; whatever respect they may have earned in the past — both are long long gone.

    This link reminded me of a report I ran across chasing links at Adam Tooze’s blogsite: “Mystery Meat II The Industry Behind the Quiet Destruction of the American Heartland” [ — I’m not sure ‘who’ MightyEarth is or represents. Their website is very slick.] I found this report linked from “New Investigation Identifies Companies Responsible for Massive Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico” which in turn came from a link at the Guardian from the article “Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn” [] which in turn was linked from Adam Tooze’s essay “Notes on the Global Condition: Of Landscapes of Feed and Oceanic Dead Zones” []

  31. nycTerrierist

    Nathan Robinson strikes again – in the best way.
    Must-read ‘All About Pete’ Buttigieg, boy wonder of South Bend and hyper-credentialed tonedeaf preener:

    “All of this made me go back and rethink one of Buttigieg’s proudest stories. Every time the media talks about Buttigieg, if they mention anything other than his résumé, it’s his signature initiative to deal with “blight.” Buttigieg says that when he took office, there were “too many houses,” that the main complain he received from residents was about the proliferation of vacant homes. His major policy goal, then, was to “repair or demolish” 1,000 homes in 1,000 days, a number his staff thought impossible. The council president called this an initiative to “right-size the city” (“right-size” is a euphemism from the business world used to make layoffs sound like the simple reasonableness of a corporate Goldilocks). Thanks to his diligent, McKinsey-esque management, Buttigieg blew past the goal.

    But news coverage of the plan makes it sound a little less savory:

    By leveling fees and fines, the city leaned on homeowners to make repairs or have their houses demolished. In many cases, Buttigieg said, the homeowners proved impossible to find amid a string of active and inactive investment companies. In other cases, he said, they were unwilling or unable to make repairs.

    Make repairs or have your house flattened? Wait, who were these people who were “unable” to make repairs? Were they, by chance, poor? Also, how did these houses become vacant in the first place? Were people evicted or foreclosed on? Look a little deeper into the coverage and you’ll find that this was not simply a matter of “efficient and responsive government,” but a plan to coerce those who possessed dilapidated houses into either spending money or having the houses cleared away for development:

    Community advocates in poorer, often African-American or Hispanic neighborhoods began to complain that the city was being too aggressive in fining property owners over code enforcement. The city leveled fines that added up to thousands of dollars, in certain cases, to pressure homeowners to make repairs or have their houses demolished.”

  32. teacup

    Sorry, just putting up a thing – young liars – YouTube Tv on the Radio – young liars – letterman

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