Links 4/1/19

1949: The time folks tried to blow up thousands of crows and missed ’em all Syracuse Post-Standard (Bob).

A rights revolution for nature Nature

Lake Erie – yes, the body of water – asks to be let into lawsuit over bill of rights Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Heavy editorializing for a news story.

Huge Global Study Just Smashed One of The Last Major Arguments Against Renewables Science Alert (DL).

Houston Chemical Disaster Zone Remains No-Go Two Weeks After Blaze Bloomberg

The markets are not in charge, sovereign currency-issuing governments are The Gower Initiative for Modern Monetary Studies

Swedbank, Wells Fargo and Metro: all look too good to be true FT

The eviction crisis is starting to look a lot like the subprime mortgage crisis MarketWatch

Bain boss warns over private equity debt levels FT

Brexit

UK’s Brexit options — an illustrated guide Politico

The Man Trying to Make Sense of Brexit Is Tired and Would Like to Stop Now NYT. “Mr. Worth’s flowcharts also try to do the impossible: assign a likelihood that each Brexit scenario will occur. At this point, he thinks the most likely single outcome is a no-deal Brexit on April 12th.”

Brexit creates power vacuum at heart of Britain’s government AP

The Brexit Effect: How government has changed since the EU referendum (PDF) Institute for Government. “The Brexit vote has catalysed a constitutional upheaval.”

The cost of Brexit to December 2018: Towards relative decline? Centre for European Reform

Boris Johnson-Led Tory Party Will Defeat ‘Revolutionary’ Corbyn At Next Election, Tony Blair Warns HuffPo

Banks keep options open and hold fire on Brexit exodus FT

Comedian Zelenskiy takes lead in Ukraine presidential election: exit poll Reuters

The ‘Erin Brockovich of Slovakia’ Is Elected The Country’s First Female President NPR

Syraqistan

Leaked Recording: Cory Booker and AIPAC President “Text Message Back and Forth Like Teenagers” The Intercept (UserFriendly).

President Rouhani: Trump’s Demands for Meeting Rejected 8 Times FARS News Agency

Venezuela

Trump’s intervention in Venezuela has stalled — because Caracas knows he’s bluffing WaPo.

China?

China’s Belt and Road: A Reality Check The Diplomat

Chinese tech faces an innovation reality check as the economy cools and start-ups stumble South China Morning Post

Proposed Hong Kong extradition law changes spark concerns AP

Welcome to Violence n+1

RussiaGate

Russians Always Knew There Was No Collusion NYT

Journalists Matt Taibbi and Aaron Maté explain how the Russiagate narrative helped Trump (interview) Alternet (!). Nice get for interviewer Katie Halper.

Mueller is done, but DOJ probe of alleged bias on Mueller and FBI teams is not ABC

Trump Transition

Argument analysis: Justices divided on agency deference doctrine SCOTUSblog

Trump is the world’s worst cheat at golf, players and celebs say NY Post

Democrats in Disarray

‘It’s so easy to Google “Creepy Biden”‘ Politico

Alex Jones blames “psychosis” for his Sandy Hook conspiracies Vox

How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow NYT. $1 billion over 1990 to 2013, from 600 schemes. Pikers.

737 Max

INSIGHT-Regulators knew before crashes that 737 MAX trim control was confusing in some conditions – document Reuters

Boeing can regain public trust, but it’s running out of time CNN

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Poisonous Cult of the Military Hero Myke Cole

Health Care

Following Trump’s Surprise Pivot On Health Law, A Game Of ‘Not It’ Breaks Out Between GOP Lawmakers, President KHN

Rick Scott’s Company Committed Historic Medicare Fraud. He Will Now Lead Trump’s Health Care Push. New York Magazine

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Google Helps Government Conduct Warrantless Searches, Alleges EPIC Tom’s Hardware

Guillotine Watch

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Is Engaged: Here’s What We Know About Her Fiancé Brides

The most violent group of people who ever lived: Horse-riding Yamnaya tribe who used their huge height and muscular build to brutally murder and invade their way across Europe than 4,000 years ago Daily Mail (original).

Class Warfare

Is Left Populism the Solution? Jacobin

Trump-Appointed Board Proposes Major Blow to Air and Rail Unions Truthout

Taken for a Ride: How Ambulance Debt Afflicts the Extreme Poor The American Prospect

Hundreds gather at site where Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot to mourn rapper LA Times

Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same way Nature

Antidote du jour (via). A Feast for Crows (Darwinian Version):

Bonus Antidote: A Feast for Crows (Neoliberal Version):

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.

160 comments

  1. Redlife2017

    Re: Boris Johnson-Led Tory Party Will Defeat ‘Revolutionary’ Corbyn At Next Election, Tony Blair Warns

    Ha Ha Ha! Tony, please don’t change!! I guess compared to Blair Corbyn is a revolutionary. Che would not be impressed, though…

    I have used this quote before from the great doctor of Gonzo himself, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson to describe Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Dr. Thompson is discussing George W. Bush (one of Tony’s prayer buddies) and gets to the disreputed PM at the end:
    “We are losing this stupid, fraudulent war in Iraq and every nation in the world despises us, except for a handful of corrupt Brits, like that simpering little whore, Tony Blair.” Interview in the Independent October 2004

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Redlife.

      I am glad that you have weighed in. I meant to ask you over the week-end.

      My fear is that, whatever one thinks of Blair and Johnson, Johnson will have much of the media on side, many friends from around Chipping Norton and the rest of Oxfordshire, and not a few Blairites and Brownites willing to sabotage Labour. One hopes that Corbyn is thinking about how TV debates against Johnson would play out. Corbyn means well, but Johnson’s appeal to emotion and calculated buffoonery impresses many.

      Thompson was right to call out Blair that way. I live a few miles east from Blair’s two Buckinghamshire country estates. Whenever I go around there, I wonder about the blood and treasure sacrificed, so that he could buy such property and invest tens of millions by way of Lansdown and JP Morgan. Blair whored the UK to the Bush mob and reaped millions.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        In the UK, doesn’t the media have to stand down for some period of time before the election? My impression was that this gave the candidates time to just play their own games without the media putting their thumbs on the scale. This also was a big reason for Corbyn’s near victory in the last election.

        Reply
        1. Redlife2017

          That is true. However, I think Col. Smithers is figuring they (meaning the MSM & its backers) learned their lesson and would find other ways to undermine. After all, packing an audience during a debate or some live show is effective at the moment it happens. Even if BBC, Guardian, et. al. get in trouble, it will be after the fact. Too late. And Johnson will say some pretty awful stuff and get away with it. Again, he will get in trouble ex-post facto after he would be PM. And since you are a dictator at that point. Ha.

          Dear Col Smithers – there are those who are media-aware. But I’m not clear if they will be able to move the ship in the correct direction in the time we need to…

          Back to the original issue of the revolutionary nature of Corbyn. The revolutionary radicals that are in the Party because of Corbyn (that’s a very small minority of new members) view him as the beginning and not the end of their radical project. From my perspective, they have it wrong. I’m a wuss, though. Radically altering the world oddly makes it exactly like it was before. But without the old safeguards (rarely applied evenly, but at least you might get them). But a world where Tony Blair is put in the dock, is a world I really wish to live in…

          Reply
          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Redlife.

            I agree with your final sentiment, but am torn between fighting battles one can win and making a big stand / statement.

            BTW, the absentee landlord is despised in rural Buckinghamshire.

            Reply
        2. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Darius.

          You are right about the media having to stand down once the election is called and how Corbyn was able to get his message across.

          Reply
      2. Off The Street

        Tony Blair at one time looked to me way back during Alpha Course days a little like Nicky Gumbel, which I thought was a disservice to the latter.

        Reply
      3. Paul O

        I don’t think Boris can win the party leadership. Well, that is how it feels right now even though he is apparently favorite. But we will see, sentiment seems quite fluid on that one.

        Reply
        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Paul.

          I reckon if Johnson, especially with endorsements from the likes of Rudd, can squeeze into the final two, all bets are off.

          Have a look at his article in today’s Daily Dreadnought / Torygraph, trumpeting one nation Toryism.

          Reply
    1. JCC

      Having grown up in Buffalo during the days that Lake Erie was officially declared Dead, I think a LEBOR is a great idea. If an legally abstract system can have the same rights (and no responsibilities) of a person, why not a system full of actual life?

      Reply
  2. Amfortas the hippie

    following things in the margins, i stumble upon this( https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/pentagon-budget-mystery-807276/ )…and wake up both the wife and cat laughing at the utter absurdity of it all, especially given the equally absurd—and repeated ad nauseum—insistence that we can’t afford decent healthcare…as well as forty years of prancing competition between the two sides of the shit stained party coin over who is the most fiscally responsible.
    This particular article is 2 weeks old….there are many more, spanning at least 25 years, that say essentially the same damned thing….but we’re still not allowed to question global hegemony, the “empire of bases” or really any of the imperial architecture in polite company.
    what i experience of msm…in hotel rooms and at my mom’s…contains nary a mention of this giant fraud and confusion, while they ramble and rant about made up collusion, and small time “fraud” at SNAP.
    In Matt’s exegesis, there’s only one sentence that even hints at the rest of the story…the “Black” portion of the “defense” budget…so it’s even worse than the ludicrous “white” budget indicates…as far as anyone can tell,lol.
    remarkable.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Truman during World War II on his own commission recovered an inflation adjusted $210 billion from fraud. This is during a war we actually were trying to win.

      Reply
    2. Chris Cosmos

      The Pentagon budget is the most sacred in Washington first because it is, literally sacred, and second, that the military has a 74% approval rating by the public which is by far the most popular institution in the USA. It is one of only three institutions that rates higher than 50% the others being small business and, of course, the police. We are deeply violent and warlike people who, sadly, lack the martial virtues of, say, the Spartans.

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        I would also say that the eradication of conscription, not to mention intense corporate media brainwash of Islamic terrorists waiting to bomb and shoot us, have made us much more violent and warlike, since the attitude among many Americans is that it’s the other poor dumb b*stard that’s doing the fighting rather than my kid.

        Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Since we’re piling on let’s not miss Hollywood’s / Madison Avenues’ contributions in the social sphere.

          Shooting someone in the face is normalized as “regular behavior” through endless repetition in TV and movies and “games”. Lionizing the perp, justifying the unjustifiable with explanations like “that Other guy had it coming, he’s brown/yellow/Muslim/whatever”. Our shining “heroes” in green or blue or Captain Marvel uniforms are violent to the core and it’s drilled into us from infancy that that is a totally acceptable and really cool way for a human being to act toward another human being. Nobody’s thought about what is at the end of that road: the soul of our society dies.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          As someone who was there, let me say that it was clear to all “lifers” that the impulse behind the All Volunteer Army was the bad publicity the Vietnam War was getting. Too many members of the general public were getting the chance to see close up what the war was really like, although none of us were told what it was about (taking over as the colonial power in Southeast Asia, which the Vietnamese understood very well). Back in about 2007, 2009, around there, there were stories like the TV miniseries “Kill Generation” but I haven’t seen any since then. Less than 1% now have the experience of actual war. Few people understand what we’re talking about when we say, “Armies are to break things and kill people.” That’s what they are good for, and that is all they are good for.

          Reply
      2. derechos

        Hey, most of us are descendants of the Yamnaya so we can’t help it. It’s in our genes. (If you don’t get the Yamnaya reference, see Lambert’s link above.)

        Reply
      3. LifelongLib

        If we in the U.S. really are a “deeply violent and warlike people” then sites like NC are a waste of time. But we aren’t. It’s all hype and propaganda. The American people had to be dragged or stampeded into every war we ever fought. Washington could barely keep an army together. Lincoln complained that a third of the Army of the Potomac was AWOL. We were only seriously involved in WW1 for a year, WW2 for about three. Korea and Vietnam, both at probably the peak of our militarism, became so unpopular that we basically quit fighting. More recent wars were possible only because of an all-volunteer army which most members join only because of (deliberately engineered) economic circumstance. The American people have never loved war. It has always been imposed on us by our “leaders”.

        Reply
    3. JBird4049

      what i experience of msm…in hotel rooms and at my mom’s…contains nary a mention of this giant fraud and confusion, while they ramble and rant about made up collusion, and small time “fraud” at SNAP.

      I have read examples in the history of some countries where it was the written law that gave the lower classes the greater restrictions and harsher punishments for any violations of them and the higher classes would get the lesser in both. Nice. Nowadays we just ignore that the unwritten laws that state the same.

      And yes, I guess California’s ginormous monthly (maximum) SNAP payment of $192 for an individual is an opportunity to steal. Now if we were just as concerned about Wells Fargo, HP, Chase, Goldman Sachs…

      Reply
  3. Pavel

    If I weren’t already completely against Cory Booker’s (D – BigPharma) candidacy that Intercept piece on his love affair with AIPAC would do the trick. To quote the (former) BBC’s Eddie Mair — referring to the equally loathsome and hypocritical Boris Johnson — he’s a nasty piece of work.

    I note that Andrew Yang is calling for a $200B reduction in Pentagon spending. That’s only about 30% of what I would like but it’s a start at least. Don’t agree with all his ideas but at least he is articulate and has some real policies unlike the platitudes and drivel we hear from Beto, Booker et al…

    Reply
    1. jhallc

      I like much of what Yang has to say as well. But… and here’s the but, I don’t think he is ready or the right person to be president. He would be a good fit for a cabinet post for someone like Bernie.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        He’s a sincere, well-meaning, articulate voice for, and advocate of, horrid, dangerous ideas.

        He’s got some good ideas, but most of what he’s advocating is repackaged or slightly modified Libertarian trash.

        He doesn’t like anti-trust enforcement or minimum wages. He thinks the existing power structure is fine and just wants to do a little redistribution to ease some of the ill effects.

        I was watching some of his interview with Jimmy Dore and it’s easy to see his appeal, — he’s a very nice guy. But there’s definitely a dark side to what he wants to do. I’m not even sure he, himself, understands what the ill effects would be of his policies.

        Reply
        1. notabanker

          +1 . I’m a bit more skeptical. I think he is too smart to not understand the effects of his policy proposals. I also think if elected they would change pretty dramatically. He’s not going to get his agenda through Congress and he will compromise away to just be doing something.

          Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sYbofUpt6s

            I don’t want to assume that all the ‘smart’ people would agree on what would happen if certain policy proposals were implemented.

            Jamarl Thomas seems to buy into Yang’s line of thinking regarding automation. I think Jamarl’s a smart guy acting in good faith, but I don’t buy the hype around automation. I think Jimmy Dore’s got this right more than Yang or Jamarl.

            Reply
    2. Massinissa

      I refuse to support any candidate like Yang that wants to impose a national 10% VAT. No more regressive taxes please. Not having a VAT is like the one good thing American can compare to Europe with.

      Reply
      1. WheresOurTeddy

        This socialist agrees with you. A 10% VAT tax sounds great if you’re rich and spend a tiny % of your income every year on consumable goods. The poor bastard making $25K a year gets crushed to death even harder. Hard pass on Yang. Medicare For All and a Job Guarantee or GTFO.

        Sanders 2020.

        Reply
  4. temporal

    re: Journalists Matt Taibbi and Aaron Maté explain how the Russiagate narrative helped Trump
    Alternet!

    Yeah, I expected at least one outlandish April Fools. So Parton has a new alter ego and Alternet has changed it’s tack?

    Reply
      1. Hepativore

        Right as I predicted, Annie Laurie, Clinton’s rottweilier on Balloon Juice is now foaming at the mouth that Barr is secretly hiding the parts of Mueller’s report that would indict Trump as being a Russian puppet. Also, apparently Mueller went easy on Trump according to Balloon Juice because of internal political pressure within the Trump White House due to all of the Russian stooges in it.

        The Democratic establishment cannot, and will not drop this, as they are still futilely trying to save face by not admitting that they wasted everybody’s time and attention on this. The Trump-Russia collusion narrative is basically a giant fig leaf being used by the Democrats to divert attention away from serious structural flaws in their party and the country at large.

        Still, I wonder, if they really wanted to get after Trump with something they could impeach him for, why did they not spend more time on his violation of the emoluments clause? There was plenty of meddling from the foreign governments of the Israel and Saudi Arabia involved with that, so why did the Democratic leadership have to make up the Russia controversy?

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          because its antisemitic…almost hitlery!…to criticize israel, dontchaknow….and the Kingdom is our friend!(where’s #metoo in foreign “policy”?)
          we have two whole parties of unhinged and hysterical moralisers who can’t tell their asses from holes in the ground…
          reckon the studied lack of democracy in this benighted land is perhaps the least of our problems.
          whole world regrets letting us run roughshod and insert ourselves in everydamnedthing.

          but we’re like herpes, or chiggers…
          fie, fie, fie!

          Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          No they won’t drop it.

          Event the NYT article linked to today penned by a Russian journalist (albeit a liberal one presumably opposed to Putin) making the point that the attempt to find collusion was farcical from the outset, can’t help putting this little tidbit in there:

          Other important portions of the report, which reached the unequivocal conclusion — also supported by independent investigations, including in Russian media — that there were, indeed, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 American election, went completely ignored.

          Riiiiiiiiight, the clickbait ads with rainbow Bernie battling Satan. Many of which appeared after the election. How could we forget those.

          My guess is the NYT wouldn’t let the Russian have an op-ed unless they agreed to allow the Times to do a little editing and add that in, because it really doesn’t read well with the rest of what the guy is trying to say and muddies his point.

          Reply
          1. ewmayer

            Note also the incredible – and likely deliberate – vagueness of “there were, indeed, Russian efforts to influence the 2016 American election”. Some Russian hausfrau going on Twitter and writing “I don’t like Hillary” qualifies. Similarly, “collusion” is a vague notion with no meaning in law – one Trump’s foreign policy people chatting about, say, the grandkids and yoga – with Lavrov over drinks can be cast as “collusion”. But rather brilliant has been the MSM’s success in conflating it in the minds of much of the electorate with “conspiracy”.

            Reply
        3. Procopius

          Minor quibble — it’s not that they wasted everybody’s time on Russiagate, it’s that they must, as an existential matter, cover up the fact that they lost the 2016 election because the seven high priced consultants who run the DNC refused to listen to any of the people in the states who were telling them they had problems on the ground. No, no, you peasants are ignoramuses, we are professionals and know how to win, shut up, shut up, shut up.

          Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        heresy101
        Did you read the whole article? Do you know what day it is?
        Also today, the spaghetti trees are dying of blight, and Generalissimo Pica has invaded San Serif again, for about the eighteenth time in the past 20 years, but this time it looks like Colonel Garamond is going to prevail.

        Reply
  5. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    It would be great if Vlade could shed light on the Slovak and Ukrainian elections. We chatted about the former on the way back from a delightful lunch with Redlife a week ago :-).

    Same with Thuto and Synoia with regard to the South African elections. I have heard twice from an insider there that the Omidyar group, by way of its Luminate impact investor and citizen reporter network, is, ahem, supporting the Democratic Alliance.

    Reply
    1. voislav

      To opine from an Eastern European perspective, the main showdown was between Poroshenko and Yulia Timoshenko, who was the favourite a few months ago when Poroshenko’s rating was in single digits. There was a massive push to get Poroshenko into the second round, including the usual ballot stuffing as well as more creative methods of having Yuri Timoshenko run (ballots only list the first initial and last name, not the full name of the candidate).

      Initial results are that Poroshenko beat Timoshenko (16% to 13% after 80% of votes counted) to the second round to face the comedian Zelensky, who won the first round with 30%. There is a large number of complaints that were filed with the electoral commission (over 1600), but this is business as usual, so most of these will be rejected. One major issue is that no voting places were provided for Ukranians living in Russia, which could open the election up to constitutional challenge.

      This likely means Poroshenko will be elected for another term as president, Zelensky is not likely to be successful due to the control of election apparatus by Poroshenko and his ability to horse-trade with the local oligarchs, who are the real power in Ukraine.

      Reply
      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Voislav.

        BTW Poroshenko, or Willy Wonka as some of us call him, is despised in West Africa. I have friends and family working around there.

        Some of the Ukrainian and dual citizen oligarchs have interests in the region.

        Reply
        1. Timo Soini

          > Poroshenko, or Willy Wonka as some of us call him …

          In Finland, Petro Poroshenko is sometimes called Petteri Punakuono (who is more commonly known in the English-speaking world as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer). In addition to the obvious alliteration, ‘poro’ is the Finnish word for ‘reindeer’.

          Reply
    2. SoldierSvejk

      The ‘Erin Brockovich of Slovakia’ Is Elected the Country’s First Female President NPR

      I just hope the sophisticated commentariat at NC won’t fall for this one. The election results could be re-titled: “Seasoned (Accomplished) Diplomat Loses to an Unknown Snowflake.”
      Honestly, I am beginning to think that any politician talking about anti-corruption measures should be a priori suspect. Have you known anyone who was pro-corruption? No, most likely, no. So agitating against corruption seems to have become a substitute for talking about real issues – and still get – particularly, young – people enthused about the candidate. The issue has been co-opted, captured – to be used for whatever purpose is at hand. Most commonly, to get an empty shirt pushed into prominence, at the same time generating a requisite amount of (misguided) enthusiasm. A weapon of mass distraction, in other words.

      This woman came out of nowhere (meaning that she’s not been a part of the political system/process until her candidacy) – so one has to wonder, who paid for her campaign and/or who advised her. (The situation with the outgoing prez, who only stayed for one term, was similar. He also came out of nowhere, having spent the 1990s in the USA (hint) and then getting rich, offering loans for ungodly interest rates to unsuspecting public. Even as a prez, he refused to close down the company. His time in office was characterised by embarrassing incidents, a bit of corruption (he was recently implicated in land swindles in the north of the country), and generally just opposing the governing coalition.)
      So Slovakia will suffer from yet another meaningless entity, who likely will have little to contribute, except calling for civility and politeness. Again, who is against civility? Calling for it is like saying three-year-olds should drink milk. Who would oppose that? But after they finish the milk, what then…?
      The prez post is largely ceremonial, but can serve as an avenue to throw kinks into the work of the government. The NPR article cites ‘open society,’ so we are clearly told who is behind the new prez.
      Maroš Šefčovič, on the other hand, was a known candidate. He had been for years EU’s energy chief – not an insignificant achievement. He did study in Moscow, though, which probably did not sit too well with TPTB.
      And this is how one commentator in Pravda described the new prez: “Pani Čaputová nie je kvalitná politička a o jej morálnych kvalitách tiež pochybujem. Je to nekvalitný marketingový produkt podobný poľskej čokoláde. Pekný obal, ale veľmi slabý obsah. Gratulovať jej nebudem, pretože si myslím, že sa do paláca nedostala práve férovými praktikami a celkovo si myslím, že si post prezidenta nezaslúži a že na to proste nemá.”
      Translation: Ms. Č is not a quality politician and I doubt her moral qualities. It is [not, she is] a low-quality marketing product, similar to Polish chocolate. Pretty cover, but very weak content. I won’t congratulate her because I believe she did not win fairly and, generally, I think that she does not deserve the post of the president because she lacks any capacity for it.”
      (Apologies to Poles, but there have been too many scandals related to foodstuffs made in Poland.)
      So there you have it – another empty suit, who will just do what she is told by entities invisible to the general public, with the goal of opposing the main party of Smer (which the west suspects of being too chummy with Russia, so has been trying for years to get it out).
      As for the two dead young people – the murders have now been misused for so many unrelated matters that one begins to wonder… They were not dead but a day, when people poured out in organised protests, many sporting identical signs (in English!). Does that remind anyone of anything?
      (And now tell us how you really feel about Ms. Č.!)

      .

      Reply
  6. Joe Well

    Did any other USAians see the ad on NC just now that said “Did you leave your party or did your party leave you?”

    And then it links to this page paid for by Howard Schultz. “Fix the System.”

    It is the usual argument that both parties are equally extremist and most Americans are somehow in the middle between them. Unsupported by any polling or survey data.

    What a deluded bunch the centrist one percenters are.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      I haven’t seen that one. I typically get targeted ads based on recent searches, Today it’s camping and motorcycle stuff. Some weeks ago, rather weirdly, I was getting ads for young women’s spring clothing. Given that I am an older guy, who does not shop much for clothes, I have no idea what I searched for that triggered these ads.

      I recently got a robocall on my cell phone soliciting treatment for a medical condition I searched on google. Is Google selling our search info and telephone numbers to phone solicitors now? Oh, the joys of surveillance capitalism.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        If not Google, then the web sites themselves: it’s my understanding that WebMD is notorious for this. I use the Startpage search engine and NEVER consult WebMD.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          From my experiences, WebMD is also notorious for flogging the Straight Party Line according to the AMA.
          WebMD’s motto seems to be, “Conform or Die.”

          Reply
      2. chuck roast

        I am hardly a computer savant, so I take a few precautions regarding advertising intrusions. Please forgive me I’m preaching to the choir.

        Install an ad-blocker. They are pretty easy to find on the net. Of course you have no guarantee that a blocker will not come without some some sort of bot, but that is the world we live in. Some sites won’t let you in if you have a blocker…small price to pay.

        Clear your cookies several times a day. If you have Safari, click on Develop and then click on Empty Caches. If you are running Opera there is no need to do that. Works for me. An additional benny is that sites which allow a couple visits a month, are now open to you if you are “cookie free.”

        My apologies to the computer literate.

        Reply
        1. Cal2

          Firefox is much better. The ad blockers, no script and Ghostery work flawlessly.
          Only occasionally am I surprised when an add makes it though. They are actually sort of interesting they are so rare.

          Send-Yves-A-Check to preserve your Karma though.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            I’m pretty sure Ghostery is compromised, and no longer use it.
            That might apply to all these quasi-fixes, though.

            Reply
            1. Cal2

              Thanks Carey, I didn’t know that. First subject of “Ghostery is compromised”

              “Prior to today, Ghostery was a privacy app that showed users a list of companies whose tracking tags are present on web pages as they traverse the Internet. The panel of people using the tool has grown to 15 million, and around 200,000 use the mobile version. It got a shout-out at this year’s South by Southwest conference from NSA surveillance-program leaker Edward Snowden. Now the firm behind the tool has taken the massive pool of data from its growing panel of Ghostery users and is serving it up to companies including Target and Equifax….”

              Tomorrow, the ghost is a goner…

              Reply
        2. ChrisPacific

          I tried Privacy Badger for a bit, which theoretically only allows ads through from sites that have agreed to honor Do Not Track requests.

          In practice that is almost nobody, so it functions as a de facto ad blocker. After some agonizing I uninstalled it on the devices I typically use to read NC, in order to preserve Yves’ revenue stream.

          I have done the WebChoices opt out so most of the ads I see are irrelevant to me, which is how I like it. I’m pretty sure they are all still tracking me though.

          Reply
          1. False Solace

            Instead of uninstalling Privacy Badger you can just disable it for NakedCapitalism. You can easily do this on the desktop version, anyway.

            Reply
    2. ChrisS

      I didn’t see the add, but this might require some nuance.

      My party left me.
      Family Blog Howard Schultz and the horse he rode in on.
      Centrism got us into the state of affairs we are in now, so no thanks.

      Reply
  7. Isotope_C14

    Huge Global Study Just Smashed One of The Last Major Arguments Against Renewables Science Alert (DL).

    Perhaps they could have just played SimCity?

    Pretty sure that was the only good strategy early game, hydroplant for the win!

    Reply
    1. Jef

      The only time “renewables” can be used to pump water uphill is during prime electrical demand hours so not only do we need to build out enough “renewables” to power industrial civilization but we need to almost double it in order to save some for the other 50 to 70% of the time.

      A massive push to build out that much “renewables” and infrastructure would require increasing all industrial operations significantly more than now for at least the next 10 to 20 years greatly increasing emissions and toxins guaranteeing the worst case scenario for the planet.

      So what do we do you ask? LESS! not more.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        We aren’t in early game SimCity, sadly. Had we gone hydro-plant in 1900 – this would have been a very, very different world.

        I don’t expect that even doing “Less” right now will make a lick of difference.

        Being a trained microbiologist, gives me some unique insight on what is happening in the permafrost. Spore-formers wake up when it gets warm, and then they rev their metabolism into high-gear, eating dead plant material from long ago, and kicking CO2 and CH4 freely into the air.

        Bacteria are everywhere, you have 10 of them in or on your body for every one cell of yours. Imagine what % dirt is, or lake/ocean water, quite a lot of the little guys. Though they are small, but they make up the majority of the bio-mass on the planet.

        https://ubiome.com/blog/post/weighs-bacteria-every-single-person-earth/

        We’ve turned up the heat for them, and they like that very much. Now they are going to turn it up higher and that is not going to go well for us.

        Anyone got any property for sale in Antarctica?

        Reply
      2. jhallc

        “The only time “renewables” can be used to pump water uphill is during prime electrical demand hours”

        I’m not sure why power generated during non-peak times, by wind for example, couldn’t be use used to do this.

        I agree that we need to stop wasting industrial output for useless things, (think the military). We also need to cut back on our consumptive appetite but, there has to be a way to build the things we need to survive without having to ramp up all the associated emissions. Hopefully it could be done by keeping emissions at least static. Stopping this runaway train will not be easy or even possible.

        While I may sound like an optimist. You should know I believe our species will end up being just a fart in the fossil record.

        .

        Reply
        1. GF

          Here in AZ an uphill pumping “hydro” renewable project is in the works (Big Chino) that solves the problem of how to pump water uphill: use the grid during off-peak to supply the pumping electricity. They will also use scarce groundwater to fill a new man made lake for the water source.

          Reply
        2. rjs

          before you can build 550,000 pumped hydro generating facilities world wide, you’ll have to build plants to manufacture adequate earthmoving equipment to build your million plus lakes, give or take..

          Reply
          1. rjs

            and that doesn’t even count your million plus solar plants or wind farms that you’ll need to power your pumped hydro stations…

            Reply
      3. Cal2

        jef,

        You know what today is don’t you?

        Electricity cannot be transmitted long distances. Most of the sites in the Western U.S. are in the middle of nowhere. Unless of course, they industrialized the areas around the dams.

        Creating that many dams would produce gigatons of carbon to make the concrete, destroy most of the scenery in the West, they already dammed Hetch-Hetchy, almost as beautiful as Yosemite, and most importantly, where would the water come from to fill the dams in Western America?

        Dude, today is April Fool’s Day.

        Reply
      4. heresy101

        Either you don’t understand how the electric grid works, or you are just repeating Kock brothers coal based nonsense. Take a look at CAISO for the California electric grid (pick any day for the last year): http://www.caiso.com/TodaysOutlook/Pages/default.aspx
        Look at the net demand trend and note that solar isn’t available to “pump water uphill” at the peak demand time (17-22 hours). Many days there is excess solar during midday (10-16 hours) that can pump water or charge batteries. In fact there are many days where the wholesale power cost goes negative.

        Solar and storage are becoming so cost effective that combustion turbine (jet engines connected to a generator) are beginning to be outbid by solar/storage to meet short term fluctuations in the grid (around 2 hours). An example is:
        https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/florida-power-light-to-build-409-megawatt-solar-powered-battery-system
        “The Manatee Energy Storage Center will have the ability to distribute 900 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power 329,000 homes for 2 hours.”

        Aged coal plants are shutting down, nuclear plants are reaching end of life, gas plants will be around until renewables become the source of generation. We need MORE renewables consisting of solar, wind, geothermal, small hydro, biogas !!!

        Reply
        1. Olga

          Looked at CAISO y-day, the banner (with almost real-time data) showed demand at about 19GW, with about 63% (at that moment, afternoon about 5pm) provided by renewables. The state is also in the forefront of trying to get energy storage integrated into the wholesale market. (Renewables, storage, and microgrids are the future, although the Green Deal’s goals of a complete energy transformation by 2030 is seriously unrealistic.)

          Reply
  8. Katy

    Why the sexes don’t feel pain the same way Nature

    Leaving females out of medical studies has always baffled me. Here is their logic: Scientist wants to study the effects of X. Scientist believes that female hormones might affect X. Therefore, scientist chooses to not to use females in the study.

    Is it simply laziness? The belief that hormones might affect the results should be a reason to Use female subjects. Why on earth would one want to have an incomplete understanding of the subject you’re trying to study?

    Reply
    1. Wyoming

      While there might actually be some sort of gender bias, as is often claimed, there is a much simpler explanation.

      Costs.

      As Lambert often points out in his (n=some small number) comment on the reliability of a study this issue pops up in the finances of performing good studies. n needs to equal a large number for the study to be valid. If you restrict your study to just men and you have a medium sized n then you are sort of all right. But if you include women then it gets a lot more complex trying to determine if you actually have results. You could easily need an n which is several times as large as the n used with a single sex. Thus costs and time to execute the study both skyrocket.

      And then if we include the information mentioned in the pain study you might actually find you need to include all the gender variations as well (depending on what physical mechanism you are studying) and then we reach realms of n’s which are just too complicated and expensive to justify (speaking in capitalist terms).

      Reply
      1. jrs

        By why are men the default sex then and not women? If it’s too expensive to test on both sexes why not only test on women? Or at least do so for half the drugs?

        No getting away from patriarchy is there really?

        Reply
        1. derechos

          You want women to have the right to become guinea pigs?

          I suspect the problem is that women might become pregnant and then you would have additional liability for effects on a fetus. That’s essentially what happened with thalidomide.

          Reply
      2. Isotope_C14

        Wyoming is spot on.

        On top of cold hard cash, here in Berlin, there is a vocal anti-animal testing movement community. They protest, hand out flyers, and have acquired positions at the local animal testing approval oversight board.

        This makes any animal testing an absolute requirement, and they even do surprise inspections. You are required to apply for experiments, and they want the n = # of rat, to be as small as possible.

        There is not just the cost part of the equation, but at least in societies that haven’t decayed fully, a very strong ethical component of choosing as few animals as possible to get at good data.

        On the cash side, each rat is at least $20 EU, and after cage costs, general upkeep, and staffing, that ends up to be about $60 EU per rat. If you are ordering special knockout rats, or specially bred rats you are talking $100 EU or more.

        If you’re doing a 50 rat study, 3-5K EU is significant.

        A 50 rat study is a somewhat small study, usually a lab will get through 4-6/week and a 10 week study is not much in science.

        If we had free rats, we’d be doing the ladies too though.

        Reply
    2. drexciya

      It’s all about cost. Current double-blind testing (phase II/III) is already quite expensive, but if you have to add more groups, like women, but also races (there’s also a difference between races when it comes to medicine), the costs go up even more.

      Big pharma already “outsources” some of the trials to countries like India, so don’t expect them to do anything that costs them money.

      Reply
    3. Jeotsu

      As a person who once did dermatological research in a hospital (and later worked for a pharmaceutical company) I can tell you why — fear of lawsuits.

      What we were doing in the hospital was pretty darn benign, largely shining laser light on skin (low power) for various diagnostic purposes. What was the first check we provided for any female study subjects? A pregnancy test. The fear? That if any subsequent child had *any* problems, the fault could be pointed back to us. And since you can’t really disprove a negative to a jury being shown sympathy-inducing photos/testimony, the easy route is to just exclude all women.

      Yeah, we know it’s stupid. But in the US legal environment, it is the sane path. Institutions are very lawsuit-averse, and don’t provide the researchers much/any support or guidance.

      (I’m sure there are also plenty of folks who also take the easy-to-borderline-mysogonistic route of just excluding women because they’re “hormonal” or something. but really, it was the legal hell we were mostly avoiding. It’s also why we did 99% of the studies on one another (fellows researchers), as the paperwork for volunteers was too onerous.)

      Reply
    4. ewmayer

      Look, this is more or less the same medical establishment which, until shockingly recently:

      [a] Insisted every newborn male be circumcised shortly after birth due to [insert bogus hygiene-relation mansplaination here];

      [b] Didn’t bother to use local anesthesia for said procedure because “infants don’t feel pain like we do” or some other utter bollocks. Yah, the kid’s screaming his head off because those scalpels are *cold*, or something.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Comedian Zelenskiy takes lead in Ukraine presidential election: exit poll”

    Found an article that goes more into depth on these elections at the Moscow Times. Most western sources are hung up on the fact that the leading candidate is a comedian-

    https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/30/making-sense-of-ukraines-complicated-highly-competitive-presidential-elections-a65020

    Tymoshenko is not happy at how she fared and I think that she got only about 14% so she wants to challenge the results. I am guessing that the Ukrainians had the Gas Princess in power before and know what she is all about and are not interested in having her again for a sequel. Poroshenko is an oligarch so has the money to support his efforts and I have read over the years how he has managed to increase his wealth while being in power. Zelenskiy would also need the support of another oligarch and this article mentions that it is Ihor Kolomoyskyi which I read before. I know the name and he is a thug who has bankrolled right-wing formations fighting at the Donbass front while asset stripping the Ukraine of whatever was not nailed down. He and Poroshenko had a falling out years ago so financing Zelenskiy may be a way to take down Poroshenko and increase his influence. I am afraid that for the Ukraine that it will be a matter of whoever they choose, they will have an oligarch running the country – as usual.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I prefer to not Umpa Lumpa them all together. (They’re all political midgets anyway. [Sorry to small people. It’s a traditional disparagement.])

        Reply
    1. Shonde

      Which countries don’t have an oligarch running the country? Sometimes I think the only countries where there is no regime change attempt by the USAians are those countries that do have an oligarch or oligarchs running the country.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        What you say is true but the oligarchs in the Ukraine verge on Game of Thrones behavior. From the Wikipedia page of Ihor Kolomoyskyi-

        Kolomoyskyi has used Privat’s “quasi-military forces” to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of “hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws” to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, and has used “a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics” to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in.

        And that 2006 violent take over of that company was not the only time that he did that either as I have read of similar more recently. Those oligarchs have a real chokehold on the Ukraine which leads to wide spread poverty and corruption. A real revolution in the Ukraine would have put them all up against a wall.

        Reply
        1. Shonde

          My take is the oligarch Kolomoysyi is like Trump. Crashing and burning through the process in full sight of the public. Other oligarchs are like Obama. Elegantly and with great flair doing the same thing but using the system to achieve the same results out of the public eye. It’s all a matter of style.

          Reply
        2. GF

          Rev,

          Kolomoyskyi acted no different (which doesn’t excuse what happened and if you believe Wikipedia) than the US Guilded Age oligarchs (many now revered as icons of capitalism) of the late 19th and early 20th century with their union busting tactics. US oligarchs used live ammunition in several busting adventures and murdered many innocents in the process including women and children.

          Reply
  10. a different chris

    This surprised me:

    In a 2013 interview I talked about how I was horrified by what I did in Iraq, and how I was immensely proud of what I did in Iraq. I made mistakes that will haunt me the rest of my life. I also made calls that saved lives. If the man in that chapel in Pensacola had sat down and asked me, I would have told him this. I desperately wanted to. But he didn’t.

    It’s a different world. The generation before me served in Korea and some in WWII. My FIL will *not* talk about Korea. Period. None of them would talk about their war experiences, except to others who had also “been there”. Yes they wanted to put it behind them, but so do our current soldiers.

    I wonder what the difference is. In any case, I would have been like the man in the chapel, not because I don’t care, but because I have always assumed that I was an outsider to that experience and they would not wish to share with me. Hmmm.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Not wanting to talk about war experiences seems to be a common thing in history. This guy wrote how when he was a kid, when some battle of Rorke’s Drift veterans came together where he lived, they went off by themselves and would make sure that there were no children that could overhear what they were talking about. For those not familiar with this battle, it took place in 1879. Like a lot of vets, some of these vets eventually committed suicide or went off their rocker as they got older. Sound familiar?
      For another take, here is what Danny Sjursen – whose article have appeared on NC – wrote about his leaving the US army. He and Myke Cole would have a lot to talk about-

      http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176545/tomgram%3A_danny_sjursen%2C_on_leaving_the_u.s._army/

      Reply
    2. eyelladog

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/0316040932/?coliid=I3FC5E2YIQFMEJ&colid=U3IK4FEEOWEM&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

      On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

      Maybe this book can shed some light. Things changed after WWII in terms of training.

      There was a line in Black Mirror about how data found that soldiers would shoot above their opponents to not kill them. This was fixed after WWII (Delta training, if you want to understand). Not sure how true this is, but it is plausible. Why is it plausible? Check the difference in peoples’ mentalities coming out of war compared between WWII and any war after that.

      Reply
    1. JCC

      Years ago, living on the East Coast, I worked the “California Shift” which meant that I left the building and walked to an empty parking lot next to a large field around 7:30PM each evening, empty except for my Kawasaki 1000 with a suspect muffler.

      There was a crow that lived in the area that must have hated that bike (I was no fan of it either, too heavy and too loud) and every evening it would attempt to “drop a bomb” on me. There is no doubt in my mind it was the same crow and it knew exactly who I was. The intention was clear and I had to keep my eyes opened every night I left. I was never hit although there were a couple of very close calls.

      When the cool Fall arrived and I switched to a car, he laid off.

      Reply
    2. Tim

      Crows also understand street markings.

      I’ll never forget driving a car strait at a crow at 55 miles per hour with him standing just outside the white line at the start of a bend in the road. The crow stared me down and never flinched as my car changed direction at the last minute as I followed the lines on the road. That crow knew which side of the line he was on, and I wasn’t gonna hit him.

      Ever since then I’ve paid more attention to how crows behave around car traffic. They get a lot more than people assume they do.

      Reply
    3. Grebo

      My crow story: I used to work at a nice place in the country that had a large pond full of koi carp (giant goldfish). It was a magnet for herons who would squabble over their catches, until one of them teamed up with a couple of crows. He would catch a fish, far bigger than he could eat himself, and his two crownies would attack any other herons trying to muscle in by pulling on their tail feathers just like in the picture above. When the boss had had his fill the crows got the still considerable left-overs. I watched this several times thanks to the top-of-the-line mega-zoom security cameras they had.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Is Engaged: Here’s What We Know About Her Fiancé”

    There is a longer article that has lots of images that also came out today called “Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is engaged and living in a luxury apartment with her hotel-heir fiancé, William ‘Billy’ Evans” at-

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/elizabeth-holmes-theranos-everything-about-fiance-william-billy-evans-2019-3

    Trying to fail up? There are still 11 felony charges waiting for her but perhaps she is hoping that her powerful friends will pull a Jussie Smollett for her.

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      Or maybe a Rick Scott? She could then work with Scott on a
      Republican health care bill. Two of a kind and both from the seamy side of healthcare. How perfect. And Smollett could be used in ads to sell the new bill to the public.

      Reply
    2. Sutter Cane

      I just watched the HBO Theranos doc, and was pretty disappointed. Seemed extremely lighthearted, as if the whole thing was a wacky lark, rather than evil.

      Reply
    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Dude, you’re 27, rich, and not the worst looking guy in the world.

      She’s 35, has crazy eyes, is going to prison, and is a pariah among the class you were born into.

      RUN AWAY! Or back away slowly, whichever you feel would be safer…

      Reply
  12. allan

    Amazon’s role in co-sponsoring research on fairness in AI draws mixed reaction [Seattle Times]

    Amazon has partnered with the taxpayer-funded National Science Foundation on a three-year, $20 million program to fund basic research into fairness in artificial intelligence systems, which are under increasing scrutiny as they spread in society and sometimes amplify existing biases.

    Some researchers welcomed the move, suggesting it signals a growing awareness of the importance of this area of inquiry. Others raised concerns about Amazon’s participation, pointing to potential conflicts of interest for researchers who would scrutinize artificial intelligence technologies at both the company and its competitors. …

    A grant solicitation released last week is one of the first from the foundation – the foremost federal funder of computer-science research at universities – specifically focused on fairness in AI, though the agency has long supported research in areas such as big-data analysis, computer vision and machine learning that underpin the systems lumped under the catchall term AI.

    The goal of the Amazon-National Science Foundation joint funding is to support research into “transparency, explainability, accountability, potential adverse biases and effects, mitigation strategies, validation of fairness, and considerations of inclusivity” in AI systems, enabling “broadened acceptance” of the systems. …

    As Federal funding atrophies, expect to see more of this kind of thing.

    Reply
  13. Lee

    Crows

    I am ambivalent about crows. Over the last several years they have taken over much of the sf bay area. In our own town for many years the Coopers Hawks were the apex birdie predator. The crows have driven them out.

    But the now abundant crows are so charming in so many ways. Their social solidarity is touching. Recently my son came upon a swarm of crows in the middle of the street. One of their number had been killed by a passing car and the birds were quite upset, flying about and making a racket that seemed meant to raise the dead. My son put the corpse in the back of his pickup and the crows formed a winged funeral procession following the truck for the several blocks to our house. There, with the crows all perched around, the bird was interred in our yard. After a decent interval of solemn silence, they went on about their business.

    Reply
    1. Cal2

      Quarters? Screw that, I trained our local crows to drop diamond rings into our treat dispensing box.
      My models were cubic zirconia in case they flee with them instead of dropping them in the hole.
      I figure the crows can learn to swoop into open bedroom windows and snatch jewelry off nightstands. I will get rich.

      Changing species, this is a very important video for cat lovers:
      Sound Healing For Cats

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hJ2dOjL9Fo
      Our cat purrs and shows her gratitude in amazing ways now.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Definion of bird brain (from googling):

      bird·brain
      /ˈbərdˌbrān/
      nounINFORMAL
      noun: bird-brain
      an annoyingly stupid and shallow person.

      Is it or is it not ironically shallow and stupid, for humans, to say of another human person as a bird brain, when birds like crows are intelligent?

      Coincidentally, the mystery behind Hitchcock’s The Birds had been solved in 2011. From the DailyMail (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2079644/Has-mystery-Alfred-Hitchcocks-thriller-The-Birds-finally-solved.html)
      :

      The scientists came up with the theory after studying the stomach contents of marine life from the time of the birds’ deaths in 1961. They discovered toxic algae on three-quarters of the plankton the birds ate which damaged nerves – causing seizures, disorientation and finally, death.

      The algae were believed to have become poisonous after being infected from leaky septic tanks, installed quickly during the housing boom in the Sixties across California.

      Reply
  14. integer

    Re: Mueller is done, but DOJ probe of alleged bias on Mueller and FBI teams is not

    From the article:

    The Russia probe was first opened by the FBI after a young Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, claimed to have been told by a Russian operative that the Kremlin had compiled “dirt” on Clinton.

    I’ve seen this mentioned a few too many times lately for it to be coincidence. I think a lot of people who were involved in instigating Russiagate are very concerned about the genesis of this meeting being scrutinized.

    Papadopoulos claims that he was told by Joseph Mifsud in April of 2016 that the Kremlin had dirt on Clinton, and was then contacted out of the blue in May (2016) by an associate of UK-based Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. The associate suggested the two (Papadopoulos and Downer) should meet and have a gin and tonic together, and Papadopoulos accepted the meeting, during which he relayed the information that he was given by Mifsud. Then, in September of 2016, Papadopoulos was contacted by Stefan Halper with an offer of a trip to London and $3000 to write a paper on energy issues in the Mediterranean. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and says that Halper quizzed him about whether he knew that Russia had hacked the D party emails.

    Shortly before his internet connection was cut off, Assange was investigating and tweeting about Mifsud – a shadowy figure who is portrayed by the media as a Russian agent yet appears to have connections to the British intelligence community. I have long suspected that it was those tweets – which also reference Downer and the Steele dossier – rather than his tweets about Catalonia, that led to Assange losing his internet connection. Also, it has now been established that Halper was spying on the Trump campaign for the FBI. So, it looks like Papadopoulos was set up, which means the FISA application was based on nothing but entrapment and the Steele dossier, both of which are linked to UK intelligence agencies.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Integer.

      Some of that British “securocrat” fraternity are also involved with Brexit, neo cons and Atlanticists pulling the strings and allowing the “bad boys of Brexit” hog the limelight and take the credit.

      Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “President Rouhani: Trump’s Demands for Meeting Rejected 8 Times”

    What would be the point of a meeting? Seriously, what would be the point? Trump would go in, demand that Iran pull its people out of the entire middle east, give up their defensive missile network, and stop exporting oil. The Iranians would refuse whereupon Trump would go back and boast how tough he was with the Iranians and use the meeting as an excuse to ramp up tougher sanctions against Iran. He did the same to the North Koreans in Saigon recently after all. I think that the Iranians would properly say that if you want new agreements, first you have to honour those that you have already made.

    Reply
  16. DJG

    This is not an April Fool prank. But I’m wondering if anyone from Chicago wants to offer opinions and suggestions as we go into the “historic” election tomorrow.

    I am leaning toward Lightfoot for mayor. She has pretty good qualifications. I am a big fan of Preckwinkle, but I think that she may be more effective on the County Board. And I wish that she hadn’t accepted the donation from Eddie “Cesspit of Corruption” Burke and then tergiversate about it.

    The races are awash in money. It is obvious that the Regular Democrats are mainly a big money-recycling operation. Here in the 40th Ward, we even have Walton (yes, Walmart and Walton Family and charter school) money paying for the endless flurry of candidates’ flyers.

    I am sitting out the aldermanic vote. O’Connor is thoroughly corrupt. The businesses along Clark Street all have signs supporting him–if not, they will be hassled. (After a recent election, a couple of restaurants received unwelcome, business-interrupting citations, so they know what’s what.)

    Andre Vasquez undermined the two qualified female candidates, and then O’Connor’s obliging friends, the Waltons and INCS, have sent several dozen flyers about Andre’s ultra-artistical rap lyrics.

    So we have a greedy barnacle of City Council versus an ostensible DSA candidate who is a “reformed homophobe.”

    Advice?

    Reply
    1. katenka

      I’m in the 40th ward too, and I’m not especially looking forward to our “everybody sucks” election tomorrow either!

      I’m voting for Andre (that is, against Pat) as O’Connor is just too awful, but I don’t need to make the anti-O’Connor case to you (nor am I trying to convince you to vote for Vasquez; BELIEVE ME I more than totally get it). I’ve met both of them through my food-growing/sharing volunteer work. On balance, I think Andre is willing to listen and to deal at least some of the time. Pat is hermetically sealed and listens to nothing but power. And he is, as you noted, reliably vindictive, which is, shall we say, suboptimal.

      With the mayoral race, I think Preckwinkle is meaningfully better, or, rather, Lightfoot is meaningfully worse in one extremely important respect: police abuse of POC and the marginalized. The activists who have been tireless on that front DETEST Lightfoot, and she hasn’t helped herself with bright ideas like turning the public schools Rahm closed into mini police training academies. With Preckwinkle, I think there’s a chance for working together towards reform — with Lightfoot, I’m seriously worried that it could get pushed into something more like open war. (Also, I can’t help watching all the developer money flow towards Lightfoot; it could be just because everyone expects her to win, but, especially given the concern I just noted, it makes me extremely extra queasy.)

      Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s about status and thumbing the nose at the system, not investment. What good is money if it simply accrues. Outside of classmates, who knows who can really make the grade so to speak when you tell the kid Chelsea was accepted to Stanford, just like Herbert Hoover?

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      >will ever pay for the cost differential

      These people do not, and unfortunately probably correctly, ever expect to be short of money.* “Pay for” is thus irrelevant. They now have to follow other avenues of “keeping up with the Joneses” – or in their case, they are the Joneses, so Muffey simply needs that Ivy League degree.

      *And if that woeful state ever does loom, they will Trump it – declare bankruptcy, and continue living exactly as they did before. Remember the rich decide which debts they will pay. Scraping by is for the rest of us.

      Reply
  17. David Carl Grimes

    “In 2018, Lyft clocked $2.2 billion in revenues and lost $911 million. That means if you pay $12 for a ride in a car with a pink moustache, it cost the firm $17. So, it’s economically irresponsible not to take Lyft (or Uber) everywhere.”

    https://www.profgalloway.com/lyft-off

    Reply
  18. fajensen

    Regarding Swedbank, there are a couple of interesting things to notice: It was investigative journalists from SVT’s (a state TV channel) “Uppdrag Granskning” that demolished the official narrative from Swedbank and “Finansinspektionen”, that there were, perhaps, at most very few problems and all were well contained.

    The, Danish(Yay!), VD of Swedbank Birgitte Bonnesen fired the initial whistleblower, as one does, but then “Uppdrag Granskning” somehow got into their possession loads of documentation and transaction records, enough for four hours of TV. So someone with access did not agree with this at all and narked on Swedbank.

    Even then it took quite a while for the board to sack Birgitte Bonnesen, under “ingan ansvarsfrihet” meaning that she is responsible, according to the board. This opens up for that she can get sued over her 21-Million “run the joint into the ground”-bonus, never mind that she could also go to jail. It could also be that it took quite a while to negotiate the “If I take the fall for this, what will I get in return”-package and fund it*.

    The board Of Course has given itself “ansvarsfrihet”, this does not mean that the courts agree with this at all – maybe once “Ekobrottsmyndigheten” starts twisting her ears, she will be “assisting the authorities” in return for her former colleagues attempting to pin all the blame on her. Maybe even get others involved, which is the reason Danske Bank shares finally went below 120 DKK and Nordea dropped 20% in sympathy.

    The official Swedish response is of course to worry a lot about “The Brand Value of Sweden” and not so much about the actual issue – which is corruption and fraud going on for years, then with some insider trading sprinkled on top when Swedbank learned from SVT what SVT had got hold of.

    It is worth noticing that about 50% of the Minister of Finance’s most recent opinion on the case is about “The Brand” and “The Damage to The Brand”: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/inrikes/bolund-jag-ar-forbannad

    Too much concerns over Purity and the clutching of pearls, in my opinion.

    *)
    Many enterprising Danish persons would *absolutely* try that one out. Because in Danish business life, everything is a possibility for negotiation, even getting the sack for cause is. In Denmark, if one does not realise that one is negotiating, then one is The Mark. :).

    This aspect of Danish business culture endlessly annoys and horrifies the Swedish.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Haha. But this:

      >never mind that she could also go to jail

      Life in a Nordic jail would be a step up for about half the American population at this point.

      Reply
      1. fajensen

        Well, in the Nordic countries, people eventually leave jail and then what? We don’t really want them to become worse people than they were when they went in, or at least not actively make them into worse people. So, it is possible to get an education or learn a trade while in jail.

        Of course we have our own crowd demanding minimum sentences and ever harsher punishment too.

        Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “Huge Global Study Just Smashed One of The Last Major Arguments Against Renewables”

    Sounds great this study and how it was done with algorithms but there are some ground truths to be taken under consideration. Take a look at that map showing where all potential sites are. It should be remember that just because a computer program says that you can build a dam on a site, that does not mean that you can or should. Has that map been cross-referenced with geological maps to make sure that no dams are built on active faults for example? I notice that a lot of those yellow dots are on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
    Even then, there are some sites that people do not want a dam built. On that map, you will notice a few yellow dots on the State of Tasmania. That is that large island off the SE coast of Australia. I bet that one of them is on the Franklin River. Back in the 80s the State Government announced a dam to be built on it leading to the biggest environmental campaigns in Australian history. It was almost war down there, so no, not always so simple deciding where a site can or should be-

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

    Reply
    1. Anon

      Also, many of the potential sites are in Northern latitudes where water is likely to freeze. Not insurmountable, but an issue. In the Southern latitudes, where summers are long and hot, an open reservoir can lose 3′-5′ /month of surface water to evaporation. And, of course, non-ocean water is not abundant in all locations. (Don’t think one would use potable water for this type of energy storage).

      Maybe natural occurring tidal energy is a better solution?

      Reply
      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Tidal energy doesn’t work as storage for the primary reason that you can’t control when you absorb energy and when you release energy. On a tidal system, you can only absorb at high tide and release at low tide. Those times depend on the phase of the moon (literally) and will usually fail to coincide with the times that energy storage or release would be most useful.

        And “The Rev Kev” notes some of the legitimate difficulties with pumped storage. They’re not safe in earthquake zones, and there is often tremendous political opposition. Additional difficulties include the cost and the environmental disruption during construction.

        The Bath County Pumped Storage Station is a 22 GWh facility near me that was built for $1.6 billion in 1985 dollars. That’s $3.76 billion in 2019 dollars, which works out to $585 per kWh of energy storage capability. If we use Mark Jacobson’s 541 TWh number for the amount of storage needed to convert the US to a 100% renewable energy system, we’d have to spend $316 trillion to make it happen. Even if we fire up the MMT money-printing machine like mad, we’d discover that there simply were not enough available people to hire, not enough available equipment to use, and not enough available raw materials to buy, no matter how much money we printed. You can’t buy $316 trillion worth of pumped storage stations in 10 years. Period.

        Then, the environmental damage: Millions (or even billions) of dump truck runs. Radically altered water tables near every single station. All of the CO2 emissions from dump trucks & earth-moving equipment, plus that from the steel and concrete manufacturing.

        And please note… I like pumped storage. It’s a much more viable option than the lithium-ion battery stations that are in favor right now. We’ll run into raw material constraints much sooner with batteries, and they have this pesky habit of wearing out and needing to be replaced every 10 years or so. But even with the more desirable characteristics of pumped storage, we’d never be able to build enough in time.

        Reply
        1. Anon

          Sheesh, Grumpy! Thanks for the financial details on pumped storage. Actually, I knew the construction costs and environmental impacts would be large. That’s why I tried to direct attention away from water storage.

          I’ve always said that CONSERVATION of energy is the cheapest option. (Imagine that big screen TV running on elctricity generated from a fitness treadmill or cycle; energy IN and energy OUT.)

          Reply
        2. Synoia

          I too like pumped storage. Bit there are not enough sites, and the reservoir ends up being an ecological scar, coupled with the fact that Dams are temporary structures.

          Temporary because under the wight of water, the earth’s crust is plastic and deforms.

          Reply
  20. Livius Drusus

    Re: ‘It’s so easy to Google “Creepy Biden.

    I am not a fan of Biden. He would just be Obama 2.0 (or Bill Clinton 3.0) and we don’t need that. But people on the left should be wary of gloating over Biden getting taken down over allegations of “creepy” conduct. These tactics can and will be used against people on the left. In fact, I expect that there will be an attempt to #MeToo Bernie Sanders especially if it looks like he is going to win.

    Outside of egregious cases I do not like the use of misconduct allegations to destroy political lives. Allegations are simply too easy to manipulate or even fake while being almost impossible to effectively rebut in our current media culture. It is much easier to get “cancelled” than to successful defend yourself unless you are a conservative.

    In fact, it is interesting how these kinds of allegations don’t seem to work with Republicans. There was plenty of scandalous stuff on Trump and it didn’t work. Neither did the #MeToo attempt on Brett Kavanaugh. Roy Moore lost but only barely. This is another reason to think twice about using this tactic. It is like giving your opponent a weapon to use against you but that you cannot use against them.

    Furthermore, I worry about these tactics trickling down into ordinary workplaces and becoming a tool to use against rivals in office politics. If people see that it is effective in taking down major political figures they will try to use it in their own petty battles. It will also make people less likely to believe more serious cases of sexual harassment.

    Reply
    1. Chris Cosmos

      Totally agree with you. I have a friend who is a hugger and now is very reluctant to touch anyone. Touch is very important to help relieve stress and if you’ve lived in a Latin country you know what I mean. The American obsession with sex is the otherbm side of our obsession with violence.

      Reply
      1. wilroncanada

        Chris Cosmos
        It’s been like that for a long time. A friend–church minister, United Church of Canada–was a hugger too. He hugged just about everybody he knew, including me–I’m a VERY hetero male. He used to hug my wife and all three of my daughters when we got together.
        But he did not talk to any woman for any reason in his church office without someone else there, or just outside the open door if it was private. This was more than 35 years ago.
        Interestingly, one evening, he was driving me home from a meeting, along with a woman who had also been at the meeting. She tried to convince him to drop me off first so he could come into her house afterward. There ARe minister groupies, too.

        Reply
  21. allan

    Labor Department to Limit Companies’ ‘Joint Employer’ Liability [Bloomberg]

    The Labor Department today will roll out a proposal to shield franchisers and businesses that hire workers through staffing firms from liability for some minimum wage and overtime pay violations. …

    The proposal is another step back from an Obama-era approach to a controversial legal issue that’s entangled McDonald’s Corp. and Microsoft Corp., among others. The DOL and the National Labor Relations Board previously took an expansive view, saying that a company’s ability to indirectly control workers—even if that authority isn’t used—may be enough to establish joint employment.

    Business lobbyists complain that makes companies potentially liable for workplace law violations against another business’s employees. Worker advocates say businesses often use complicated contract relationships to avoid pay, bargaining, and other responsibilities. …

    Another massive win for the back row kids.

    Reply
    1. integer

      Every day that Hillary Clinton is not president is a massive win for the back row kids. Her loss has also changed the dynamics of the 2020 election for the better – if Trump hadn’t won, Sanders couldn’t run.

      Reply
  22. barrisj

    A Sucker Born Every Minute dept.: All those retail investors jumping onto LYFT shares as the company floated its IPO last week are already underwater, as the shares are trading below $70 today…perhaps people are only now reading the prospectus and getting that losses are projected a fair way out, and that investing in ride-sharing companies not named Uber won’t spare one the pain of a flawed business plan.

    Reply
    1. Bernalkid

      Well, the more sophisticated marks, with dry powder, sitting on the sidelines, could dollar cost average the rotting hulk down to zero, thus minimizing the loss per share in their portfolio while still making out like bandits. /s

      Reply
  23. sbarrkum

    Crows

    Apparently its against the law in Sri Lanka to domesticate a crow.
    The main intent being crows can be trained to steal shiny objects, i.e. jewellery.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a little more ‘neoliberal here,’ I think.

      Once those birds have been taught to use vending machines, they would need money.

      Their economy would then become a monetized one…I believe.

      Sharing among them, for one, is likely to be reduced.

      Reply
  24. anon in so cal

    Russia-Gate:

    Marcy Wheeler of Empty Wheel seemed to go off the deep end fairly early on. Will her unhinged behavior be sanctioned?

    “Marcy now admits that the FBI may have just simply “decided she is crazy” (her words). So what gives, @Sulliview? Don’t you have an obvious obligation to correct this?”

    https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1112546915403599873

    Reply
  25. barrisj

    The Bible Tells Us So dept.:

    The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy
    JERUSALEM — When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sat down for an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in a hotel in Jerusalem earlier this month, he made a remark that was perhaps the most revelatory of any in his nearly one year in office.

    An evangelical Christian, Mr. Pompeo had just returned from tours of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the ground where Jesus is said to have been crucified and buried, and of tunnels beneath the Western Wall, by the holiest site in Judaism. The interviewer posed a question around a biblical tale about a queen who saved Jews from slaughter by a Persian official: Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been “raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?”

    “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It was remarkable — so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago, if I have the history just right — to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place, and the work that our administration’s done, to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains. I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”
    […]
    Studies show that white evangelicals are much more likely than other Americans to believe that Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy. Known as Christian Zionists, they believe God promised the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.

    Mr. Pompeo talks about the rapture. “We will continue to fight these battles,” he said at a “God and Country Rally” in 2015, because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.”

    “Be part of it,” he said at the meeting, at the Summit church in Wichita, Kan. “Be in the fight.”

    In November, Mr. Pompeo told a reporter for The New York Times Magazine that the Bible “informs everything I do.” The reporter noticed an open Bible in his office, with a Swiss Army knife marking his place at the end of the book of Queen Esther.
    […]

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/us/politics/pompeo-christian-policy.html?emc=edit_cn_20190401&nl=politics&nlid=8948375420190401&te=1

    “The Rapture”? “Christian Zionists”? Seriously, WTF? Next up – US “gives” Israel the right to annex the entire West Bank…why not, if it helps along biblical prophesies. This is what US ME policy has come to, straight out of The Onion.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The makeup of Israel or AIPAC is more diverse and wider than we presume. The same with supporters of either. It’s not just one religious group.

      Reply
      1. barrisj

        The only voices Trump &co. listen to is the Israeli hard-right…the US is playing to the ultra-Orthodox and settler extremists, and whether there is even a more rational and middle-ground constituency within Israel, the only positions getting a hearing are those articulated by Likud and the fringe hard-line religious parties.

        Reply
  26. Jack Parsons

    That’s not a neoliberal buffet, it’s small predators harassing a large one. In this case, the corvid tugs the ass feature or fur of the predator, the predator swivels around agry, and another one swoops in & steals the kill.

    There’s great footage of a raven teaching her chick how to do this with mountain lions.

    Reply

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