Links 5/10/19

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Dear patient readers,

Some of you have said you are getting captchas from time to time, and even in cases with increased frequency. Rest assured that we didn’t set that up; it appears to be the doing of Cloudflare, which we need to use for a host of reasons, like being able to withstand DDoS attacks.

However, we are looking into whether we can dial down the captchas in Cloudflare. The problem is that even though we have strong lines of defense in WordPress, Cloudflare keeps the site from being inundated by scrapers and robo spam. We haven’t changed our settings in years, but Cloudflare may have increased stringency via updates. We’ll see what we can do to tweak the settings.

Swarm of bees follows car for 2 days to rescue queen trapped in back TreeHugger (resilc)

The Maker of Gore-Tex Is Experimenting With an Artificial Cornea Bloomberg (David L)

The Evidence Is Strong: Air Pollution Seems to Cause Dementia Wired (Robert M)


China Memories of 1895 Shame Loom Over Envoy’s High-Stakes Talks Bloomberg (resilc)

These charts show Trump’s trade war could hit his base of voters most CNBC

Can This Marriage Be Saved? Chinese-U.S. Integration Frays Wall Street Journal

China Is Armed With Powerful Market Weapons in Duel With Trump Bloomberg

Trade war pushing Asia closer together Asia Times (Kevin W)

Plant-eating pest invades South China, likely to spread across country: USDA S&P Global (guurst)

North Korea

North Korea Launches New Missiles US News (resilc)

Bhutan’s PM does surgery on the weekends Guardian. PlutoniumKun: “Bhutan really is a model for how to run a small poor country.”


May plans new indicative votes as she’s warned she could end up with an ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ Brexit no-one wants Telegraph

Brexit tears apart big parties’ support ahead of European poll Financial Times

Tories ‘not even bothering’ with EU election manifesto Express

No, we don’t want Notre Dame turned into another secular solar-powered eco-garden RT


Venezuelan regime circles opposition leader Juan Guaidó Financial Times

‘Turnkey Tyranny’ on the Streets of Washington ConsortiumNews (Chuck L)


Iran’s Oil Exports Implode As Sanctions Sting OilPrice

New Iran Metals Sanctions Target Jobs, Not Government Revenue LobeLog (resilc)

Is America Ready for John Bolton’s War With Iran? American Conservative. Resilc: “Not a clue on how bad this will likely be.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

A Facebook cofounder has written a blistering New York Times op-ed arguing that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network should be torn apart Business Insider (David L)

Ex-Intelligence Analyst Charged With Leaking Information to a Reporter New York Times. Bill Blunden:”

This is the 3rd strike for the Intercept. No wonder they shuttered their Snowden archives.

The indictment states that Hale was using a “secure” messaging platform to communicate with the Intercept reporter. Using anything branded as “secure” to contact anyone at the Intercept is akin to chatting about bomb making recipes at an airport. In other words, you will stand out like a f**king glow stick, as anyone living in Xinjiang will tell you!

Also, *attention TS//SCI cleared personnel* printing out sensitive material at work unrelated to your job will set off alarms bells (e.g. DLP platform).

Whom Not To Trust – U.S. Government Indicts Another Intercept Source Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

Millions of People Uploaded Photos To the Ever App. Then the Company Used Them To Develop Facial Recognition Tools. NBC

Chinese nationals charged for Anthem hack, ‘one of the worst data breaches in history’ Politico

Imperial Collapse Watch

Chelsea Manning Released From Jail But Received Another Subpoena Shadowproof. UserFriendly: “Insane. How many can they do back to back like this?”

Trump Transition

Dems struggle to make Trump bend on probes The Hill

The Real Muellergate Scandal Craig Murray

‘You don’t have to date him’: the women standing by Trump in 2020 Guardian (resilc)

Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief The Hill

A Call to Action for a Climate Conservation Corps Data for Progress (UserFriendly)

Freedom-Loving Americans Should Demand Universal Healthcare Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Alabama could pass a near-total ban on abortion as soon as Tuesday CBS News (Kevin W)


Pro-Trump group plans to spend $250M in six battleground states The Hill

Pete Buttigieg’s Honeymoon Is Over New Republic


California guns confiscated: 1000 guns seized in Los Angeles – The Washington Post (furzy)

Grieving Students Walk Out of Colorado School Shooting Vigil: ‘This Was Not About Us’ Daily Beast (Kevin W)

A Reporter’s Long, Strange Trip Into the Darkest Parts of the American Mind The Nation (resilc)

America’s Industrial Gold Rush is Over American Conservative (resilc)

Uber raises $8.1 billion in IPO priced near bottom of range

Uber and Lyft IPOs mean the cheap rides are coming to an end MarketWatch

Why You Should Root for the Uber I.P.O. to Fail New York Times (David L). The author is a prof at both the Harvard Business and the Harvard Law schools.

Guillotine Watch

Anna Sorokin: Fake heiress apologises as she is sentenced BBC

Class Warfare

The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean Vox

The Reality for the Middle Classes behind the supposedly “Surging” U.S. Economy Juan Cole (resilc)

Antidote du jour: “A longtime friend and permanent resident roadrunner here at casa de Eureka”:

And a bonus (martha r):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, that’s pretty blistering, and thoroughly deserved. There really is not a shred of evidence of intelligent life anywhere in Westminster.

  1. charles 2

    I don’t mind the captchas, it forces to think twice before pressing the “post” button. I thought it was a feature not a bug…

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Hmm I never get them, but lately many of my posts have not been allowed through, even with moderation.

      I have multiple email accounts now and fear auto-complete entered the wrong one and confused the system.

    2. Carolinian

      I’ve had one but then deleted the NC cookies via the Firefox browser settings. No more captchas after that.

      Of course NC wants us to have cookies and you need them in order to post comments but they come back the next time you load the site.

    3. Lee

      It pleases me to be able to easily do something a robot cannot.

      Animated adds, OTOH, are insufferable. For me they make reading text on a page next to impossible. Fortunately, I’ve seen them here only very rarely.

      1. TooSoonOld

        “It pleases me to be able to easily do something a robot cannot.”

        Except that your efforts are used by Google to train the bots – they’re nipping at our heels. ;) Ever notice how many of those gatekeeping “prove you’re human” doodads have you identify all the cells with street lights/signs, motorcycles, crosswalks, etc? Those are to help train their self-driving cars. We are all cogs… laugh lest you cry.

      1. marym

        Edit: Meant to thank Yves for explaining the situation. But ok to charles 2 for the silver lining aspect.

    4. Anon

      I figured the Capcha’s were just another test for the Commentariat. However, I seemingly can’t distinguish between a Bus and a billboard.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Could be worse. You might be offered an algorithm to solve before Capcha allows you to proceed to post a comment.

    5. ewmayer

      I use an older version of sveral browsers (FF and PaleMoon) under my legacy Mac OS X 10.6.8, which I need because of several dependent legacy packages and due to its marvelous stability:

      MacBook:obj_sse2 ewmayer$ uptime
      15:58 up 207 days, 16:53, 3 users, load averages: 0.25 0.16 0.14

      The problem I have is that there is some aspect of Cloudflare’s captcha-ing which is not supported by my browsers … even when I’ve spent the time to help Google train its self-driving AI, when I enter the magic code in the window where it goes and submit, I’m left looking at a blank page. So I got used to ducking under the capatha radar via various tricks, e.g. not including more than one link per post.

      Starting a couple weeks ago I got sent to captcha hell roughly every other post … the only semi-reliable way I found to avoid it was to drastically curtial post length, sometime to ridiculous minimalist levels. I hope the tweakage gets me back to the old settings, because for me it’s verging on I’ll-just-stop-even-trying-dom.

      1. flora

        I’ve been getting those. When they show up I stop trying to post a comment. Sometimes if I quit, then close browser, then reopen and link to NC I can avoid captcha thing. Not always.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Look I said I thought a gay mayor of a second-tier Indiana town named Buttigieg had zero chance of becoming president.

      Now I learn that his name, apart from the reference to posteriors (unfortunate given his sexual declivities) is also complex to pronounce:

      Smith. Jones. Washington. Adams. Bush. Those are president names. B-eu-ta-jidge is not. Especially when amateur attempts to pronounce it could easily devolve into “Butt-a-gig”. Trump could beat him on Twitter just on that alone

  2. charles 2

    Chelsea Manning Released From Jail But Received Another Subpoena

    Looks like the Japanese prosecuting Carlos Ghosn gave some inspiration to American prosecutors :-)

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Except Ghosn is actually a criminal (see, e.g. his 60th birthday party at Versailles, paid for by Renault) while Manning is a patriot and hero.

  3. Christopher Fay

    Pete? He’s in line at Starbucks. If he wanted that honeymoon to keep going he should be at Dunkins getting donuts.

      1. Pavel

        Is one of Mayor Pete’s eight languages Hindi?

        Biden: “You can’t go into a Dunkin Donuts without hearing an Indian accent.”

        1. Joe Well

          My God, Biden is an idiot. In Greater Boston that would be more like Portuguese…but often enough it’s good old American…

          As for Boston engineering schools or hospitals, you would have a hard time avoiding an Indian accent (not that you should want to) but many of them are Gujarati or another ethnicity than Hindi.

          Biden = idiot = worst of America’s elderly = a big selling point for him among a large part of the electorate. FML.

  4. witters

    Notre Dame & the Ceilings of Light… We have returned/regressed to Zoroastrianism.

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “The Zoroastrians, Hegel claims, believe in a divine power—the Good—but they identify this divinity with an aspect of nature itself, namely with light. Light does not symbolize or point to a separate God or Good; rather, in Zoroastrianism (as Hegel understands it) light is the Good, is God (Aesthetics, 1: 325). Light is thus the substance in all things and that which gives life to all plants and animals. This light, Hegel tells us, is personified as Ormuzd (or Ahura Mazda). Unlike the God of the Jews, however, Ormuzd is not a free, self-conscious subject. He (or it) is the Good in the form of light itself, and so is present in all sources of light, such as the sun, stars and fire.”

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      The sun sustains life on Earth, and it is good for the soul to bask in its life-giving warmth.

      What better definition of a god?

      1. zagonostra

        That is why it is so disheartening to wake up in the morning to a clear blue sky with the sun shining gloriously and then watch as it became a hazy glaze by noon due to airplane emission – I don’t care if you call it water condensation, chem-trails, geoengineering, whatever, bottom line, it is due to human action on the environment.

        1. yelladog

          This is the tact I currently use. I just simply say, if it weren’t for the planes, the sky would be clear.

          Currently puffy white cumulus clouds (one of the 5 groups we learned as kids) are passing by with a clear sky above. Not long before some mix of stratus-cumulus (one we didn’t learn about as kids) takes over later today.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “in Zoroastrianims (as Hegel understands it)…”

      That sounds like possibly Zoroastrianism could be something other than that which Hegel understands it to be.

      In any case, whatever it is, we can believe, without subscribing to any ism, that there is no duality.

      Not distincition between god, and its complement, not god.

      Nor Dao, and not Dao.

      The same goes with Buddism, and not Buddhism.

      Between light and darkness, which do we prefer?

      No humans can live without sleeping. And one sleeps better at night, when it’s dark.

      And between good and bad, which do we choose, or rather, perhaps the question is what is good, and what is bad?

      Is hate bad?

      Is hating injustice bad? Why are we humans capable of hate? Where does it come from? How did we evolve to be capable of hate? Is a reason for that?

  5. KevinD

    Notre Dame:
    Architects should know when it is time to be restorers and not innovators. The architects that built Notre Dame are a galaxy beyond what architects are today in terms of imagination and long-term planning.

      1. Carolinian

        And the engineering was seat of the pants. There was a show on TV about how the only thing keeping Amiens cathedral up is a huge wrought iron chain that encircles the upper story.

        As for

        why do they so blithely assume that they can take a building away from the Catholics

        in that RT story–the building now belongs to France rather than the church, does it not? Perhaps there should be a referendum about what to do with it.

        1. rd

          They had a very good sense of geometry back then but Newton hadn’t developed his laws of physics yet, so there was no theoretical basis to do today’s structural engineering calculations.

          Everything was essentially “seat of the pants” then. Structures like Notre Dame are marvels because they show what early innovators can accomplish and because people were able to plan for the future. Very few of our modern structures will be around 800 years from now.

      2. rd

        It stood without a fire for almost 1,000 years, including the centuries without electric lighting. Much better than many recent buildings.

    1. a different chris

      I’m an atheist that believes a “solar-power eco-garden” is arguably the highest level of human achievement, and I would go postal if somebody tried that with Notre Dame.

      Just make it look like it used to. I could even accept making it look “more” like it used to, when it didn’t have that spire-thingy, but the only modern changes should be under the skin.

    2. ewmayer

      Oh, c’mon now, tell me a Frank Gehry hi-tech Titanium-reskinned Escher-shape-evoking reboot of Notre Dame wouldn’t look frickin’ awesome … “Now in Titanium, like the Louis Vuitton custom iPhone case”.

  6. Delete or not Delete

    Big brother watching you: Google has announced this auto-delete function after 3 or 18 months or whatever.
    What is completely lacking from the coverage is what they mean with deleting the information.
    Deleting the information as in blasting it into oblivion so that nobody will have it
    Deleting the information on their servers after having uploaded it on NSA & CIA servers?

    I guess the second.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I like the fact there’s no “Delete now” option.
      Why not?
      Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. Cal2

        Yes there is, it’s called “Delete my account.”

        Although all previous cats are out of the bag, you can corral them in the future.
        Here’s a message I sent to my confidants:

        “Dear Friends, I will no longer send you confidential or important messages or any photos to this Gmail, Yahoo, Bing or other data scrapping and selling, ad promoting, privacy busting account. Please get an address at these providers with strict privacy and I will be glad to resume communications:”

  7. dearieme

    Dems struggle to make Trump bend on probes

    These Bottygig jokes are getting lewder.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “A Reporter’s Long, Strange Trip Into the Darkest Parts of the American Mind”

    I have no idea how these conspiracy theory nuts get started. If people trusted their government, then nobody would bother with conspiracy theories. But when they lose trust, then people start to believe all sorts of crazy conspiracy theories. Like that the feds poisoned 10,000 people to death trying to curb drinking during Prohibition. Or that the US Joint Chiefs planned on both simulated and real attacks on various U.S. military and civilians to get an invasion of Cuba going. Or the US Navy used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into San Francisco’s fog to test how a biological attack would affect that city. Or that US agents threw light bulbs filled with bacteria onto the New York’s subway tracks to see if the whoosh of air from the trains would spread the contaminants. Or that researchers at Vanderbilt University gave 829 pregnant mothers in Tennessee “vitamin drinks” which actually contained radioactive iron to see how fast it crossed into the placenta. You know. Crazy stuff. Nutjob conspiracy theories.

    1. urblintz

      … or that the Democratic party leaders concocted Russiagate as a distraction from Clinton’s disastrous-yet-well-earned failure and an excuse for Obama’s one lasting legacy: Donald Trump. That’s just crazy talk, huh?

        1. RWood

          Barging on —

          In some ways, the dictatorship of ignorance resembles what the writer John Berger calls“ethicide”: and Joshua Sperling defines as “The blunting of the senses; the hollowing out of language; the erasure of connection with the past, the dead, place, the land, the soil; possibly, too, the erasure even of certain emotions, whether pity, compassion, consoling, mourning or hoping.”
          Henry Giroux

          1. urblintz

            Berger was a brilliant polymath. I read his “Permanent Red” in college and was permanently changed!

        2. pjay

          Thanks for the link to Parenti, one of the few voices in the wilderness. My earlier long comment is either still in moderation or has been tossed. So I’ll just say here that the book by Merlan being reviewed so positively in the Nation is part of a long liberal tradition: lump all “conspiracy” mongers together, so that critics of Russiagate or covert CIA operations (at least the recent ones) are equated with Pizzagaters, Neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers, or Alex Jones. Those poor deplorables will believe anything (sarcasm here!).

      1. Lepton1

        Or that people refused to accept clear evidence of conspiracy, lying and obstruction of justice, twisting themselves into pretzels looking for any other explanation for the facts, no matter how absurd.

    2. JeffC

      In case someone doesn’t get the implied /sarc re those “crazy” goings on, years ago I worked for a boss (now deceased) who, in his much younger years, was on that ship that sprayed San Francisco. And that’s not the only one of those “crazy” stories that isn’t crazy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Except Russiagate, all of the other theories seem crazy, not just the San Fracisco one, which I cant’ say it isn’t crazy.

        I hope it is sarcasm, because I can’t say it isn’t crazy.

        If it isn’t crazy, it’s not sarcasm. And if it’s not sarcasm, I am not sure if or how anyone doesn’t get the sarcasm (if it is not that) that is not there.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL


          Where’s the plane that hit the Pentagon? Where’s the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania?

          Such simple questions. Such hideous answers.

          1. Tim

            Where’s the plane that crashed in ethiopia? As an Engineer I have zero appreciation for the ignorant that say 9/11 incidents didn’t physically happen.

      2. Shonde

        JeffC, some verification of your San Francisco story.

        “105.From approximately 1949 to 1968, DEFENDANTS conducted open air field tests of anti-personnel biological stimulants in numerous U.S. cities. For example, in 1950, DEFENDANTS exposed the city of San Francisco to an aerosolized live bacteria called serratia marcescens. On information and belief, this field test exposed military personnel and civilians alike to serratia marcescens. See, e.g., Nevin v. United States, 696 F.2d 1229 (9th Cir. 1983). The bacterium bacillus globigii also was used in the 1950 San Francisco test. Additional anti-personnel field testing of bacillus globigii took place at Edgewood Arsenal in 1959. (See, e.g., U.S. Army Activity In the U.S. Biological Warfare Programs, Volume 2, Annex E, Appendix III & Annex F (Feb. 24, 1977), included in Biological Testing Involving Human Subjects by the Department of Defense: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Health and Scientific Research of the S. Comm. on Human Resources, 95th Cong. (1977).)

        After reading this complaint, I am more inclined to believe some of the strange stories I have heard from a few vets. Scary.

    3. Summer

      Or even look at it like this: Transport yourself back to 1953 and start explaining the coup in Iran as we know it now to everybody you meet in 1953.
      YOU COMMIE!!

    4. Craig H.

      Ultimately, the author places the responsibility for the rise of conspiracy theories not just at the feet of the Internet—which has sped up communication, but not changed human nature—but at an unjust society that heaps its riches on elites and leaves the rest of us unsatisfied.

      The author is wrong. The conspiracy theories fill the vacuum in information when everything of any import is classified secret. The official story on most everything since 1940 is obfuscated. Anyone who wants is free to speculate and the speculations have as much public documentation as anything. There are works of fiction with more credibility about the JFK assassination than the Warren Commission report (DeLillo’s novel, Stone’s film). The last I read Johnson’s biographer, who has spent as much time writing Johnson’s biography as Johnson spent living his life and is a respected citizen who is complimented everywhere he goes, claims Oswald was a solo performer and the only shooter.

      Everything is fake news including the top headline on every day’s New York Times.

      (The story about the bee swarm looks legit though. Kudos to Treehugger. )

      1. ambrit

        Considering Johnson’s Presidency; I read that Bill Moyers worked for Johnson in the White House. He has steadily stonewalled any suggestions that he write about what he actually saw and heard while working there. I have always found this fact troubling. I respect Moyers, so, the cynic in me wonders about what he considers important enough to suppress about that time and place. Is it just loyalty on Moyer’s part? I do hope that he at the least writes down the facts before he passes so that there can be a factual ‘post mortem’ of that era.

        1. neo-realist

          MLK Assassination chatter revolving around the Poor Peoples March? Those “goddamn Kennedys”?

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        We’re well into the Deep Teaching, here:

        ^^^^”…The conspiracy theories fill the vacuum in information when everything of any import is classified secret. The official story on most everything since 1940 is obfuscated. Anyone who wants is free to speculate and the speculations have as much public documentation as anything…”

        but once you cock yer head that way, it’s hard not to see.
        I’ve blundered into the fringes or close satellites of many such esoteric and strange things…from the moral panic over satanic cults in my home town(“This happens!”;it can be manipulated. cia studies yelling preachers), to the local manifestations of the Cabal…to a close relative(or ten) working in intelligence, nasa, and the like.
        the paranoia and reality tunnels of the (more) wealthy are just as insane as those of the lower levels….their apprehension of reality as muddled and crosseyed.(read burnham(?) or kennan)
        and with all the denials(with video even) and obfuscation and memoryholing, to say nothing of the black maw of “that’s classified!” or….worse even than all that…the myriad interlocking and contrary Counternarratives….
        instrumentalised chaos.
        now that’s sophistication.
        I’m predisposed, however, to see Nietzsche fulfilled…the Received Wisdom is broken in the ditch, and it’s up to Us to grow the hell up and have the stones to interpret the world for ourselves.
        The problem is that we don’t know how to reconcile this with Society, which is based on some fundamental shared reality.

        I’m suddenly hearing 80’s music everywhere….and late cold war films cropping up increasingly…and new offerings about the Machine’s preferred remembrance of the Reagan Years, and the inner lives of storm troopers and spies… wife’s noticed familiar hairstyles, even.
        One expects to see a revival of shoulder pads
        is this some Jungian Sychronism?
        or are we really all being gaslighted?

  9. dearieme

    the cowardly and corrupt Mr Mueller [is] beneath contempt

    That’s about the size of it.

  10. Brindle

    Most polls of voters issues also place health care at or near the top. At some point Biden is going to have to talk about real concerns of voters and that is where his s**t hits the fan (I am hoping anyway).

    –“From my time over last year with Democratic base (In East LA, Fl, Texas, and other places), Russia was never mentioned once. Health care, health care, health care, jobs. Oh. And local traffic.”–

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Give me a break, people with cancer can use Kickstarter. In my day, I didn’t even care, and Bezos and I are going to build several Babylon stations and moonshot cancer away.” -Biden, I assume

      Also did Bezos hold a news conference to announce he’s playing tall in Stellaris?

    2. Brindle

      Biden to propose next to nothing on climate change….
      Let’s re-live the Obama years.

      —“The backbone of the policy will likely include re-joining the United States with the Paris Climate Agreement and preserving U.S. regulations on emissions and vehicle fuel efficiency that Trump has sought to undo, according to one of the sources, Heather Zichal, who has become Biden’s informal advisor on climate change policy. She previously advised President Barack Obama.

      Biden has yet to comment publicly on the Green New Deal, and has said little about climate change in his campaign stops”—

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Seeing another Trump cheating at golf story, I wonder how Biden would react.

        Campaign Manager: President Joe, did you see what a clown Trump is? He’s cheating at golf.
        Biden: I could beat him.
        Campaign Manager: Yeah, but he cheated against a 10 year old.
        Biden: I could beat that 10 year old up when I was in high school. Then I would beat up Trump and beat him at golf.
        Campaign Manager: What if he cheats?
        Biden: I will add points to my score when Trump isn’t looking. That 10 year old will fall for it. Trump and I could beat him up.

        1. Pat


          Unfortunately I think that cheating at golf is such a big no no among ‘our betters’, I think it would more likely be another ‘how appalling, he disgusts me’ reaction.

          Because, yeah, I really do believe that cheating at golf is a much bigger taboo than selling out millions of people for the profits of a few that Joe and his cronies really would be aghast and disgusted. (And not because it is ten year old, they are just ripe for the taking.)

    1. RWood

      Re: Yes, but this

      Is stark evidence:

      Despite the rival claims of fighting against a would-be “dictator” and opposing a “coup” by the security agencies against an elected president, neither side in the conflict in Washington is defending democratic rights or constitutional principles. Both sides, the congressional Democrats, who are allied with the intelligence agencies, and the White House, supported by sections of the military, the police and fascist elements, are profoundly antidemocratic and politically reactionary.
      Patrick Martin

  11. DJG

    Scott Ritter, Is America Ready for John Bolton’s War with Iran? Worth the read.

    And I recalled this incident, borrowing a decription from Ancient History Encyclopedia, entry Croesus:

    He sent to the great Oracle at Delphi to know whether he should go to war against the Persian Empire and the oracle replied: “If Croesus goes to war he will destroy a great empire.” Pleased by this answer, Croesus made his necessary alliances and preparations and went out to meet the Persian army at the Halys River (which Thales of Miletus, an engineer in his corps, helped him to cross by diverting the waters). The battle at the Halys was a draw and Croesus marched his force back to Sardis where the army was disbanded for the winter. Croesus expected Cyrus to do the same, as this was customary, but Cyrus instead pressed the attack, massacred Croesus’ cavalry in the field by mounting his own cavalry on dromedaries (whose scent frightened the Lydian horses) and captured Croesus. After the fall of Sardis, Croesus’ wife committed suicide and Croesus was dragged before Cyrus in chains.

    The U S of A is on a precipice.

    1. Cal2

      High gas prices through sanctions on Iran are well worth it to support
      “Our only ally in the Middle East.”

      Breaking $4.69 a gallon where we live.

      Oh, and don’t forget, the “Freedom loving people of Venezuela” need our oil sanctions to liberate them as well…

    2. John k

      But that was then, this is now.
      This time is different… or at least has a different collection of fools.

  12. pjay

    Re: ‘The Real Muellergate Scandal’ – Craig Murray; and ‘A Reporter’s Long, Strange Trip Into the Darkest Parts of the American Mind’ – The Nation

    Craig Murray responds to the part of the Mueller report with which he claims to have direct knowledge — the “Russian hacking” story. He says the official narrative is a lie, constructed for political purposes, and he explains why he believes this. It is a clear and succinct summary of key omitted evidence on this issue. Though many NC readers are wearily familiar with this information by now, I recommend reading it and passing it on. To me it’s like spitting in a hurricane these days, but I keep doing it. Oh, by the way, Murray *strongly* hints that Seth Rich was a source for Wikileaks, though he does not come out and say it.

    The Nation article is a very positive review by Talia Lavin of a book written by Anna Merlan, ‘Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and their Surprising Rise to Power.’ I’m pretty sure that Merlan, and I assume Lavin, would label Murray a “conspiracy theorist” and lump him with Alex Jones, Pizzagaters, believers in the Lizard People, Neo-nazis and Holocaust deniers, etc. Since I believe Murray, I’d be there, too. So would anyone, by the way, who refuses to believe the Official Narrative about the Kennedy assassination (either of them) or 9/11. “Conspiracy theories,” as all well-educated liberals know, are only held by ignorant deplorables who need simple explanations for an unfair world and are therefore victimized by charlatans like Jones — or Donald Trump.

    Merlan has a concluding chapter on Russiagate in her book. Although I could not access it on Amazon or Google Books (and I’m not going to buy the book), I was able to surmise her views by reading the available excerpts. Basically, the Russians are also fostering “polarizing” narratives to confuse us poor deplorable idiots; they are as dangerous, if not more so, than the other “conspiracy” mongers. In just the short segments I read she has several snide remarks about those who see a CIA “conspiracy” behind everything; it seems some of these dummies have even accused *her* of being a CIA agent! Such poor deluded saps. Like other good liberals, she acknowledges all the bad stuff the CIA, FBI, etc. did *in the past* (overthrowing governments, COINTELPRO/CHAOS, etc.). But today…

    Merlan starts with the obligatory discussion of Hofstadter’s famous “Paranoid Style..” article, and most of the examples of “conspiracy theory” she discusses deserve criticism. But in my opinion, the primary function of Merlan’s book is to lump critics of Russiagate like Murray, or those who point to covert military/intelligence strategies to destabilize the world or hijack our own civil liberties at home, with White Supremacists, Pizzagate, and Alex Jones. That such a positive review is published in the Nation is, unfortunately, not surprising. Those articles by Cohen and Mate have to be balanced out somehow.

    1. Procopius

      I never figured out why it’s so important that Seth Rich be the leaker. He was just another poor schlub whose random death has not been solved (what’s the average for homicide “closed cases,” 25%? Except in Baltimore, of course.) I’m convinced the emails were downloaded to a USB device and transmitted that way, and it may or may not have been at the behest of a foreign intelligence agent (Israeli? British?) It might just as well have been somebody much higher up the chain of command than Rich was or it might have been a janitor. Unless Craig Murray or Julian Assange tell us we aren’t going to know, and even then, can we trust them to tell us the truth?

  13. Frank Little

    Re: The Reality for the Middle Classes behind the supposedly “Surging” U.S. Economy

    There’s an article in Reuters this morning about one of the Fed governors sounding similar alarms. She cites the rising costs of health care and education, which Reuters helpfully reminds us is beyond the Fed’s authority, and then closes:

    “There is a palpable sense that the opportunity to reach the middle class and remain in it is receding for many middle-income households,” she said, noting recent Fed surveys that found 60 percent of middle-income families do not have enough savings to cover three months of expenses, leaving them financially vulnerable to a layoff or other economic shock.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I think it’s even worse than their numbers indicate…but that’s only based on anecdote and jane goodall observation, subject to the extreme limits of where i go(my tiny, isolated town and the big city hospital and oncology clinic).
      and yet, just the other day, that link to marketwatch’ Yardeni:

      LOL. is that a zealot gleam in his eye…or is he high on LSD?
      I expected him to start yammering about how my refrigerator and window units indicate unbridled prosperity.

      1. Frank Little

        I tend to agree that it’s worse than indicated, at least here in the post-industrial Midwest. I had to comment on that Yardeni article too because he starts off lamenting how terrible the Census numbers are because they fit the progressive narrative he clearly doesn’t like. Of course when it comes time for him to share his own numbers he uses only mean measures rather than median.

        He has a throwaway line saying this isn’t a huge distinction even though his own chart shows that mean income trends higher than median in general, but the gap between the two measures has basically tripled between the late 60s to today. A few years ago I read How to Lie with Statistics and its been very useful in figuring out when statistical pedantry is just masking an ideological preference.

  14. cm

    Thanks for the update on Cloudflare. Oddly, it now appears every time I post at my place of work (which has a static IP and is completely uninvolved in sending spam) whereas I never see it from home (consumer-grade Internet).

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Can This Marriage Be Saved? Chinese-U.S. Integration Frays”

    No, regrettably it can’t be saved. After the split, the US will get the UK, Canada, Germany, Israel, France & Saudi Arabia from Monday through to Friday while China will get them Week-ends and alternate School Holidays.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Has ‘this marraige’ been a loveless one from the start?

      And is it a child-less marriage? Where are the kids?

      Any in-laws?

      1. wilroncanada

        Is it child-less?
        No. It’s borne a “little China clone, and two Koreas, along with two Vietnams who became Siamese eventually.

    2. polecat

      Next thing you know, we’ll have One Beltless bastard child, walking barefooted on On One Road .. to Hell’s half acre … and no, it won’t be China either.

  16. ChiGal in Carolina

    Intercept intercepted

    Waah I really really like Jeremy Scahill but his carelessness is unconscionable. Truly disappointing.

  17. Eureka Springs

    Just wanted to add an update to mother roadrunner who was sitting on four newly hatched chicks in today’s photo (taken on May Day). The chicks, at least three remaining, are enormous, fully feathered, and seem like they are ready to bolt out of the nest any moment now. Dad seems to have disappeared, mom has lost weight but seems to be no worse for the wear and loving every minute of her hunting and gathering.

  18. JohnnyGL

    I’m endlessly amused by Pelosi’s continual ramping up the rhetoric, combined with a steadfast refusal to do ANYTHING about this crisis of which she speaks. This is heavy into Matt Stoller’s territory. Dems just do NOT want to govern, and even actively work against anyone who’ll try to do so, except Republicans. They get a pass.

    Pelosi: We’re in CRISIS!!!
    Dem Base: OMG, finally someone understands this moment!!! What’s the plan?!?!
    Pelosi: We plan on complain louder and more frequently about it.
    Centrist pundits: She’s so savvy and shows her invaluable experience in threading the needle on doing nothing and being fair by making sure no one is happy. We’re in good hands, folks. Don’t even think about going left. This is as good as it gets, just improve that tone.

    1. JohnnyGL

      If you think I’m being too harsh on ‘centrist pundits’. Check out Will Saletan, who’s been writing for Slate for like 2 decades. In the early 2000s, I thought he was smart, sometimes, and I disagreed with him, but sort of respected him. He hasn’t changed with the times at all. He’s obviously learned nothing in 2 decades and sounds like he did during Bush II.

      The endless refrain of “let’s wait patiently for Trump to kick the ball into his own net” is completely idiotic at this point. It also serves as a puff-piece for Pelosi, who’s approval ratings are in the toilet, and consistently lower than Trump’s.

  19. WJ

    The Real Muellergate Scandal Craig Murray

    I cannot recommend this short, pointed, powerfully written summative critique of Mueller’s “investigation.” It lays bare the entirely propagandistic myth of “Russian meddling” in just a few paragraphs. A great piece to send to your otherwise intelligent but true-Mueller-believing friends.

    Last two paragraphs:

    “Mueller gives no evidence whatsoever to back up his simple statement that Seth Rich was not the source of the DNC leak. He accuses Julian Assange of “dissembling” by referring to Seth Rich’s murder. It is an interesting fact that the US security services have shown precisely the same level of interest in examining Seth Rich’s computers that they have shown in examining the DNC servers. It is also interesting that this murder features in a report of historic consequences like that of Mueller, yet has had virtually no serious resource put into finding the killer.

    Mueller’s condemnation of Julian Assange for allegedly exploiting the death of Seth Rich, would be infinitely more convincing if the official answer to the question “who murdered Seth Rich?” was not “who cares?”.”

  20. The Rev Kev

    “May plans new indicative votes as she’s warned she could end up with an ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ Brexit no-one wants”

    ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’? Got hung up on that bit as that was a favourite of mine back in the 80s. Long after midnight local time so I will leave the theme song for this series here. Some may recognize a very young Kevin “Inspector Lewis” Whately on the right in that video clip-

  21. Summer

    RE: Ex-Intelligence / CIA / Intercept
    “The indictment states that Hale was using a “secure” messaging platform to communicate with the Intercept reporter. Using anything branded as “secure” to contact anyone at the Intercept is akin to chatting about bomb making recipes at an airport. In other words, you will stand out like a f**king glow stick, as anyone living in Xinjiang will tell you!”

    It also said he printed documents from his “top secret” computer.
    I think being “covert” is a lost art. Even I know that you would take pictures of the the screen (not a screenshot from the device) using a camera that is not connected to the internet. And no internet should be used in any form or fashion to deliver “secrets”. You don’t own any servers.

      1. integer

        MintPress published an excellent three-part series on Omidyar – written by Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal – a few months ago:

        Part I: How One of America’s Premier Data Monarchs is Funding a Global Information War and Shaping the Media Landscape

        Part II: Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks and Partnerships with CIA Cutouts

        Part III: Pierre Omidyar: A Billionaire Prone to Reclusiveness and his Trove of State Surveillance Secrets

  22. Rod

    A Call to Action for a Climate Conservation Corps

    Good, practical and necessary. Guaranteed Jobs Program by Sanders or UBI from Yang jump starts this and a “Climate Corps Education GI Bill” to polish one up after service is another reward.

    great info from ‘ ‘in yesterdays water cooler.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I’ll throw this anecdote in here since it relates to climate change and resilience. My Rust Belt city gives away rain barrels through the local community development corps. I went to a “workshop” on Thursday. Attendance is required to get the free barrel.

      There were more than twenty folks there in addition to the half dozen organizers/instructors. The attendees were all from the “bad” side of town. Only two of us were white. Age-wise, retired folks of my age were a plurality, and a majority were women, but there were plenty of middle-aged folks, some children with a parent, and some young fellas who endured some kidding from the instructors about their momma making them come as a Mother’s Day present.

      The workshop began with some explanation of the purpose of the barrels during which it was emphasized that this was a collective (that specific word was used a couple of times) effort to reduce the burden on the sewer system during heavy rainfalls, something noticeably more frequent and intense the past few years. The instructors also provided some additional information about community gardens and rain gardens

      After these introductory remarks, we were then instructed how to assemble our barrels from the parts we had been provided. When we finished, we loaded up our barrels and went home.

      My point is that there are community-minded people out there. None of these folks are in the 10%, though some of them were clearly coming from work, and some of these were dressed for office work, teaching, social work, etc. There was a small incentive to attend since hooking up a barrel can lead to a reduced sewer charge after jumping through numerous hoops, but most were there because they would like “free” water for their gardens and a desire to be a part of that “collective” effort.

      And this is just one of a half-dozen meetings that I’ve attended in the last two months. At each, there were dozens of people participating in projects ranging from community gardens to tree planting to rescuing and documenting birds injured by flying into downtown glass. More and more people are aware of what we’re facing, and they want to be involved in meeting the challenges. And local governments are engaged in trying to provide them with some money and assistance.

      If only our elites were as engaged.

      1. Rod

        Nice. Bear witness.
        How about that “bureaucrat”( public servant ) who pushed that idea through the weeds and into the sun?
        I bet the local ‘news’ was all over it.
        These micro efforts need illustrated and linked into the macro effort.
        There are rumblings
        Hope you have a productive garden season.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Surprised. In Oregon apparently a citizen breaks the law by collecting rainwater from their roof

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          hmmm…that sounds rather like Incentive, to me.
          the ghost of Thoreau stirs in the collective soul.

  23. Cal2

    America’s Gold Rush Over…
    Lamenting the loss of civil society blessings, churches and ethnic communities?
    It’s not just company towns.

    Ethnic neighborhoods and parishes existed all over America until the 1940s and 1950s. i.e. Hamtramck in Detroit, the Mission, Potrero Hill and North Beach in San Francisco. Coincidentally, these were the first places that housing projects were inserted against community will by the federal government. Under the guise of “war housing,” many were quickly built in the 1940s. Then in the 1950s, against community will, active rebuilding of war housing and new construction of places like Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis and in San Francisco, places like The Pink Palace, Valencia Gardens, Sunnydale and North Beach Place were built, and rebuilt and rebuilt.
    “Oh, those are for poor Italian fisherman and their families” was the local excuse and rationale by the handwringing humanitarians who were the covert gravediggers of our cities.

    A decade later, the Fishermen’s families were long gone. The projects, like metastasizing tumors, were the locus of crime and civic decay in neighborhoods and this affected the downtowns eventually. Multiple generations of crime served as an excuse in some places for “urban renewal” and the further financial feasting of the development-lending-construction complex.

    As E. Edward Jones details in “The Slaughter of The Cities
    all this was very profitable as white flight to the suburbs, meant the breakup of the civil unity, destruction of the parishes and most important, their political power, allowing a wave of financial indecency to take over the cities.

    Everyday transit riding city dwellers then had to buy a car(s), a suburban house and stuff. Now that their hipster grandchildren are reoccupying come of these neighborhoods, we’re supposed to beat our breasts and lament the loss of these “communities?” which still have the off-limits projects in them? Take a walk through the Sunnydale or Potrero Hill projects if you think they are so wonderful.

  24. Amfortas the hippie

    (just a note: if you line your tinfoil hat with duct tape, it doesn’t itch nearly as bad)

    the fall army worm is a New World Critter. it’s lately showed up in Africa and Sri Lanka.
    Now it’s in China.
    it could…i suppose…have hitched a ride in a returning container or something.(imported fire ants arrived in Mississippi in the 20’s in ship ballast, after all)
    but my spidey senses tingled a bit when i read/remembered what it likes to eat: “…corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, and peanuts…”
    IOW, pretty much exactly what Industrial Ag likes to grow, and sell to China(and everywhere else).
    so exactly the subject of retaliatory tariffs by China, damaging US “farmers”.
    wouldn’t take that much doing to grow a bunch of caterpillars to weaponize.
    as punishment and/or inducement.
    I’ve done a lot of business myself with large-ish insectaries(ladybugs, lacewings), and other companies that grow bugs in order to grow their pathogens(nosema locustae, or beauvaria bassiana, or even BT(the former wont grow anywhere but a grasshopper’s gut))
    …so the How-To is there, and it’s not as if it’s unprecedented.
    just a thought.
    one that is likely to occur in someone like bolton or pompeo.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To subscribe it to man-made weaponization is to overlook the history of the ancient Silk Road, and how the plague was transmitted along it, likely not intentionally.

      And miss a chance to look at the other side of trade.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        or imported fire ants. They were on my mind, and thus led to this train of thought.(recent heavy rains have them bursting out of the ground around here. I had them beat back for 12 years, using the Beauvaria infusion, thus making room for all the native ants again, but they’re back).
        china’s problem is more than likely a coincidence/ consequence of globalised trade, but the specific bug’s preferred diet is likely somewhat advantageous to US Empire. If their soy, etc gets et up, they’ll hafta replace it.
        i have a great familiarity with armyworms. they are ravenous and legion. almost as bad as a locust swarm.

        1. Oregoncharles

          We won a war with fire ants in New Mexico that tried to occupy the garden and stung our 2-yr-old. Our weapon: household ammonia. Warning: this is not an organic method, or material. Beauvaria is better, but much slower.

          We poured ammonia down the hole, then covered it with a bit of dirt. No more ants. Ammonia is a fumigant. It also killed the nearest plants, but the ants were doing that anyway. We took stronger measures in the vacant lot next door, pouring both ammonia and bleach down, capping with dirt, and ran. I don’t recommend this approach; we were young then, and nobody lived there. Including the ants, after that.

          1. Wukchumni

            We use Diatomaceous Earth* (would that have been a great name for a 60’s or 70’s rock band?) in ridding ourselves of ant colonies too close to the house. Not only ants, but everything else too. Spread it around the perimeter of your home, and then the bug rapture happens.

            * the kills insects kind-not swimming pool DE

          2. JBird4049

            ammonia and bleach down, capping with dirt,

            Using chlorine gas seems a bit…overdoing it? That must have been some tough infestation.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Yes, it was overdoing it. In my defense, I can only reference their previously stinging our kid – who was under the delusion that ants were his friends. And the amounts were very small – a few tablespoons of each.

              Indeed, it was a huge nest, and fire ants are notoriously tough to get rid of.

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                the people i bought the beauvaria from had complicated instructions involving agar and white rice. all as a means of fooling the ants to take the loathesome stuff to their queen.
                I decided on a more direct approach:
                a six foot section of 3/4″ pvc, covered in vaseline, with a large funnel taped to one end.
                Then i diluted the beauvaria liquid with water(it’s expensive) and went around our whole place(and 200′ into the neighbor’s) and jammed the pipe into the mounds to where the queen likely lay(Texas A&M had lots of useful info on fire ant ways) and poured a 1/2 cup of the stuff down the pipe, and moved on to the next.
                within a week, all those mounds were dead…and the native ants(from native fire ants to the big velvet cow ants) had started to return.
                that was 12-14 years ago(hazy), and they have only just returned in the last 2 years.
                there have been a few pop up here and there(due to the mile high mating dance these things do)…quickly baited and dispensed with.
                Vigilance is required, but it works.
                and that was a riveting story, RD.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Or maybe just a side effect of Free Trade, like the Asian longhorn beetle or the Taiwan tiger termite or the emerald ash borer or the fire ant or the zebra mussel or the quagga mussel or … or … or …

      So now China got some Free Trade blowback with army worms? Firm fece. The solution is to ban Free Trade and actually to ban trade altogether as much as feasible. If you insist on having Trade, you expect to get introduced pest species.

  25. allan

    Disaster bill clears U.S. House amid feud over Puerto Rico aid [Reuters]

    The U.S. House of Representatives approved a multibillion-dollar disaster relief bill on Friday, continuing a quarrel with President Donald Trump and other Republicans who oppose providing more aid to Puerto Rico.

    Senate Republicans made a new offer this week with more money for the island U.S. territory that was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, but a Democratic aide said it fell short of what Democrats already have included in House bills and have been pushing for in talks. No details were provided.

    So the Democratic-majority House voted 257-150 to pass a $17.2 billion measure to help Americans, including Puerto Ricans, rebound from a string of natural disasters from wildfires to floods and hurricanes – knowing that Republicans, who run the Senate, do not approve and Trump won’t sign it into law. …
    Friday’s measure included $3 billion to address recent flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South.

    When you’re perceived as strong, you’re strong, and when you’re not, you’re not.

    And in totally unrelated news,

    America’s Achilles’ Heel: the Mississippi River’s Old River Control Structure [Weather Underground]

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China Memories of 1895 Shame Loom Over Envoy’s High-Stakes Talks Bloomberg (resilc)

    It’s mentioned in the article that Taiwan was a province of Qing China. Not sure how many people know that.

    Today, the island can claim sovereignty over China…not something to give up lightly (admittedly, how to enforce the claim is problematic).

    1. Bernalkid

      Elaborate, KMT remnant evacuated to Taiwan and retains sovereignty? Sounds like a classic irredentist movement to me.

  27. Oregoncharles

    From “A Reporter’s Long Strange Trip into the Darkest Corners of the American Mind:”
    “A particularly striking example of the cost of conspiracy comes in Merlan’s chapter about the overheated—and ungrounded—theories surrounding the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich. ”

    Compare with the Charles Murray article. This is why I detest the “conspiracy theory” meme: it obscures the real level of deception in public information and equates necessary scepticism with fantasy. And it’s fundamentally dishonest, essentially dismissing alternative explanations because they depart from the official line. Conspiracies are not in fact uncommon or implausible – ask any prosecutor.

    If you want to say that someone’s theory is implausible, as loads of them are, say so and accept responsibility for making a case.

    Technically, I think “conspiracy theory” is a category error; in practice, it’s propaganda.

    1. JBird4049

      When the Elites do it, it is a conspiracy theory, but when the Little People do it, it is a criminal conspiracy; saying oil companies like Shell that knew about global warming forty years ago, but decided to lobby against acceptance is a conspiracy theory; saying that some fools were buying and selling marijuana, heroin, or even loosies means it is a criminal conspiracy; the rich are eccentric while poor are crazy.

  28. ewmayer

    “China Is Armed With Powerful Market Weapons in Duel With Trump | Bloomberg” — ooh, “soybeans and Treasuries”, scary! The fundamental fact of the matter is the 4x trade imbalance, which ‘market weapon’ overrides any other. They can buy their soybeans elsewhere, maybe, and likely pay more for them, but they can’t divert $500 Bln worth of exports to ‘other countries’.

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