Links 5/15/19

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Scientists discover why grocery store tomatoes don’t taste like anything BGR

Europe Sticks a Knife Into Vegan Meat Wall Street Journal

The Dirty Truth About Green Batteries Gizmodo. UserFriendly:

This is a horribly optimistic spin of the actual facts. I recommend the full report, which I also think is somewhat over-optimistic. It waves away CdTe and CIGS as nitch solar technology, but polycrystalline PV has a much higher lifecycle GHG use (way worse than the most common nuclear plants), and assumes into existence recycling programs that don’t exist yet and doesn’t mention how energy intensive recycling is.

Also they frequently say in X years demand exceeds current production, which is rather irrelevant because metals that have other uses that aren’t tied to renewables will have higher current production and they assume they can just take over that whole market.

Either way section 5 ‘Environmental and social impacts of supply’ should be widely circulated to the ‘renewables will save us’ crowd.


Trump to sign order laying ground for Huawei ban from US Financial Times

China throws trade war tariff exclusion lifelines that it thought it would never need South China Morning Post

The United States is preparing tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Here are all the products that will get hit. Business Insider (Kevin W)

China’s Economy Was Losing Steam Even Before Trump’s New Tariffs

China is going easy on American oil (for now). Here’s why CNN (Kevin W)

Wall Street Bears $1 Trillion Brunt Of Trade War SafeHaven

US stocks are exposed to trade war, Chinese stocks aren’t Asia Times (Kevin W)

Trump didn’t start this trade war. China did. Washington Post

Killing the Pax Americana Paul Krugman, New York Times. UserFriendly: ” Pax Americana, a term so ridiculous you would have to be a propagandist to say it without laughing.”

Washington plays Monopoly, Beijing plays Go Asia Times (resilc)

ISIS announces a ‘province’ in India Asia Times (Kevin W)

After the [IMF] programme The International News (Gabriel)


Courtesy Richard Smith. This looks like a ploy by May to hold off her ouster by the 1922 Committee, which is debating whether to change the rules so as to allow for an intra-party vote on her leadership before December. Recall May promised to leave after the Withdrawal Agreement was approved:

oth parties frozen in terror as Brexit destroys the system Ian Dunt (David). Discussed in comments yesterday, but worth not missing.

The risk of fascism in the UK is increasing by the day Richard Murphy

Campaigners question timing of consultation on Northern Ireland fracking licence Drill or Drop? PlutoniumKun:

Brexit meets fracking: A large area of gas shale runs under the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Fracking has been officially banned in the Republic, but they are still going full speed in the North it seems.

‘No other option’: Climate change driving many to flee Guatemala Al Jazeera (resilc)


The U.S. Has a Long History of Provoking Wars. Could Iran Be Next? New Yorker

The Mysterious “Sabotage” of Saudi Oil Tankers: a Dangerous Moment in Trump’s Escalating Conflict With Iran Counterpunch

White House Mulls Plan to Send Up to 120,000 Troops to Iran: NYT Daily Beast (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

San Francisco supervisors vote to ban facial recognition software VentureBeat (David L)

A Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications Wired (Robert M) and ‘Hard-To-Fix’ Cisco Flaw Puts Work Email At Risk BBC

5G Networks Will Likely Interfere With US Weather Satellites, Navy Warns ars technica

It’s Almost Impossible To Tell If Your iPhone Has Been Hacked Vice

Trump Transition

House Intelligence to probe whether Trump family interfered in investigation The Hill

The Real Mueller-Gate Scandal Craig Murray (furzy). From last week, still germane. “Special Counsel Robert Mueller is either a fool, or deeply corrupt. I do not think he is a fool.”

The Emoluments Clause Could Be a Tipping Point in Trump’s Downfall American Prospect. Resilc: “We’ve heard this for a while.”

Sanders Vows to Prevent Trump Administration’s Attempted War with Iran Bernie Sanders

Young Democrats May Control the Political Future Atlantic

Health Care

Democrats Have No Safe Options On Health Care FiveThirtyEight. Resilc: “I was just listening to a woman on the bbc, insulin $1000 in canada, same amount here in usa usa $12k.”

Alabama abortion ban passes overwhelmingly with no changes



Make Elizabeth Warren Hate Again Moe Tkacik, In These Times. Important.

Ocasio-Cortez Decries Biden ‘Middle-Of-The-Road Approach’ On Climate Change NPR (David L)

Tom Cotton Is a Complete Product of the Wingnut Candidate Manufacturing Plant Esquire (resilc)

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock jumps into crowded 2020 presidential race Washington Post (furzy). *Sigh* A minimum hurdle for entering the race should be having a sound basis for believing you’ll poll better than Cthulhu.

Fake News

Deepfakes are coming. We’re not ready. Washington Post (Dr. Kevin)

U.S. Births Fall to Lowest Rates Since 1980s Wall Street Journal

Fourth-Largest Coal Producer In the US Files For Bankruptcy ars technica

BoE warned prosecution could destablise Barclays Financial Times. Help me. How about attempting that novel idea of prosecuting executives?

Class-Action Lawsuit Says TurboTax Tricked Taxpayers Into Paying For ‘Free’ Tax Prep ProPublica

Google Is About To Have a Lot More Ads On Phones The Verge

Walmart turns heat up on Amazon with next-day shipping service Financial Times

Gundlach Says Weakness Appearing in U.S. Economic Indicators Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Sara Nelson’s Art of War New Republic (UserFriendly)

All companies must record staff working hours, EU court rules Politico

One month ago, Foxconn said its innovation centers weren’t empty — they still are The Verge (resilc)

Exclusive: Amazon rolls out machines that pack orders and replace jobs Reuters (resilc)

How Silicon Valley’s successes are fueled by an underclass of ‘ghost workers’ The Verge (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “Seven swans a-swimming. Cygnets, Story Lake IN.”

And a bonus video (Lance N). Now this park will be inundated with tourists hoping to get the same treatment:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Scientists discover why grocery store tomatoes don’t taste like anything BGR

    One problem (or solution, from the point of view of Big Ag) is that peoples palates become accustomed to blandness and like it. I remember meeting a Frenchwoman who almost spat in contempt when talking about Dutch second home owners in her village (the Netherlands being Ground Zero for force grown veg) bringing boxes of their own tasteless tomatoes with them on holiday rather than buying the amazingly tasty locally grown tomatoes freely available in the market.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Many people had no choice about accepting blandness. Some time after WW2 you could still get decent coffee in America. Then the coffee producers got together and over a period of time adulterated the coffee bit by bit so that most people would not notice the gradual change. If you had been overseas for a long time and returned, you would notice the taste immediately but then you would get use to the flavour. I am told that if you want to taste the sort of coffee that Americans drank pre-WW2, you have to order the highly expensive luxury brands.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its very true, there is no question but big business actively encourages blandness in its products precisely because replacing natural flavours with salt and sugar and cheap fats is cheap and easy to mass produce. And there is plenty of evidence that people reared on bland processed food simply lose their ability to enjoy more subtle flavours. In countries like France, children are actively taught to appreciate and enjoy more varied and natural flavours.

        I’ve heard it suggested that Starbucks deliberately give their coffee an over-roasted ‘burnt’ taste so as to ensure consistency over quality. They are so ubiquitous that people think this is how good coffee should taste. And I also suspect that the slightly burnt taste encourages people to go for milkier and syrup infused types, which presumably gives them a greater profit margin.

        This isn’t new though – I don’t know how true it is, but I once read that the use of fermented (black) tea in the 18th Century was promoted actively by the East India Company to ensure people wanted to add that new, and very profitable additive – cane sugar from the West Indies.

        1. a different chris

          >And I also suspect that the slightly burnt taste encourages people to go for milkier and syrup infused types

          Oh. My. That is brilliant. I do think you’ve figured it out. Maybe they weren’t out of the gate on the MakeBitter->HandOutSyrup->Profit!! road but Schultz’s minions probably recognized that somewhere along the way to the first 500 stores or so.

          Jane tells Fred “that Starbucks coffee is really good!”. Takes Fred there, Fred drinks and makes a face, Jane says “oh no you have to add this (concoction)” and now Fred enjoys it. As of course he would, as he’s drinking the equivalent of a slice of birthday cake. And so it goes. Sheep.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Kinda like why people love sushi rolls so much: tons of sugar in the rice

        2. Off The Street

          A further explanation of mediocre Ameican beverages is the water. Tap water in so many areas has a chlorine or other chemical or kettle fur taste along with various undertones of who knows what, and without the charm of wine. If you make coffee or tea use filtered water to remove what you can from that utility periodic table. The taste does improve.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            So very true.

            Lu Yu, who lived during the Tany dynasty, is known as the Sage of Tea and for his book, The Classic of Tea.

            Chapter 5 is about boiling water, in which types of water, water quality and things to look out for and timing of boiling are are discussed.

            Based on that, ancient tea lovers searched all over China to find and rank the best springs for use in tea making.

        3. Robert McGregor

          PlutoniumKun, Thank you for the citation on the East India Company promoting black tea so people would want to add profitable sugar. I’ve read for a long time about the profit advantages to modern manufactures adding significant sugar, but didn’t know that historical fact. The sugar “ecosystem” is a dirty business. Adding sugar allows manufactures to skimp on more expensive qualities, and the sugar is addictive and keeps customers buying their crappy food. They get fat and diabetic, and then Big Health Care profits. The most damaging sugar is delivered through drinks, and when people develop a taste for sugar, they want to put the sugar in their coffee and tea also. When I hang with people not in the hipster class, they are amazed to see me drink coffee without sugar. “How do you do that?” they wonder like its heroic, or a magic trick.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I drink black tea, strong, without sugar or milk. What they really did was promote CHEAP, BITTER, astringent black tea, much of it, I suspect, from Ceylon, which is actually too far south.

            Lipton’s had a clever word for that flavor,which now I can’t remember. But it isn’t good, hence the sugar. Quality tea doesn’t need it – but it isn’t cheap. I’m cheap about a lot of things, but not tea or my wife’s coffee.

        4. vidimi

          i myself am quite partial to black tea, but i don’t drink it the british way. i like mine without milk and sugar, and let it steep all the way.

        5. cuibono

          No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. HL Mencken

        6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The green tea powder (matcha) used in Chado, the first time I came across it, had a very pleasant sweet smell.

          I will always remember that.

        7. justsayknow

          Starbucks did not originate the dark roast style it is known for. It started with Alfred Peet in Berkeley, California. Starbucks was essentially a knock off that taste profile which was quickly gaining followers in the mid to late sixties.
          And while it is true a dark roast can mask flavor aspects of coffee it is also true that it costs more to do. (Because of the weight loss and energy input.)

          I don’t drink Starbucks btw

        8. Oh

          People who rave about Starbucks coffee being tasty usually drink it milk or cream and sugar that covers up the bitterness. They don’t know the taste of real coffee.

          1. jrs

            None of that stuff tastes good at first taste and neither does alcohol. People like the drug-like effects and therefore because they like what follows come to like it by a process of conditioning. Unfortunately, we’ve been hard wired by evolution to like fat and sugar without any conditioning.

        9. Savita

          Thanks for this PK. My first ever, and only, Starbucks coffee ‘experience’ was on O’Connell st in Dublin because I needed to sit somewhere with WIFi in a hurry. My long black (no sugar, nothing added) was so burnt tasting I almost complained. Coffee doesn’t taste like that in Australia, non Starbucks coffee at least.

          1. shtove

            Strangely, MacDonald’s coffee – at least in the UK – is good. Not great, good, and very cheap.

        10. shtove

          I’ve always wondered how Asians would react to the addition of milk to fermented tea. One of Ireland’s staple food abuses, promoted by people from Cork. However, floury spuds with grass fed butter and a sprinkle of salt is high cuisine.

      2. Josh Godsol

        Years back, my father, a Brit, told me a very convincing story that Hershey’s makes its milk chocolate with burned milk (or something along those lines), giving it a sort of harsh taste compared to say Cadbury’s. The objective, he claimed, was to accustom Americans to the Hershey’s taste profile with the hope that they would reject the taste of European chocolate. I have no idea if this is true, but it is certainly true if you taste Cadbury’s and Hershey’s milk chocolate side-by-side, the Hershey chocolate does have a very bitter and comparatively less pleasant taste.

        1. Wukchumni

          I had a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar with almonds a few months ago, and it more resembled a waxy thin slab of sugared mud, with sadly for them, no way to cheapen out on almond slivers, the only real thing in the concoction, it seemed.

        2. vidimi

          this rings true since i’ve always disliked the hersheys taste. it does as you mention taste burnt, and also cheaper. not a fan of cadbury either, since they add more milk and salt to offset some of the sugar. once you go belgian, french, or swiss, it’s hard to go back.

      3. beth

        Yes, that is why when I tell people that I do not like Starbucks coffee they look at me surprised. Approximately twenty years ago I moved here and there was an intersection near my home that had a Starbucks on each of the four corners. That was my introduction to Starbucks and at the time they carried lots of different coffees so I tried some. After about my third bag that I brewed at home, I realized there was only one flavor, despite the labels Kona, Sumatra, Columbian because they were burned to taste alike. I switched to another source until I lost my sense of taste so that now I drink any coffee without milk or sugar.

    2. marieann

      I stopped eating grocery store tomatoes years ago. It’s like eating a mouthful of mush.
      I grow my own tomatoes and have my fill of them during tomato season.

      I can imagine people getting used to the taste of mush when that is all they can buy and they have no other alternative.

      1. Lambert Strether

        The good thing about all this horrible corporate processed un-food is that it’s not Jackpot-ready at all.

        So the Jackpot actually will have an upside!

    3. vidimi

      most supermarket tomatoes have been genetically selected for transportability and not making sandwhiches mois in addition to quick and high yields.

      In france, we’re lucky to still have good tomatoes available at often a reasonable price. out of season, nice heirlooms can cost a pretty penny, but they can be quite cheap in season. coeur de boeuf are nice, too. kumatos are tasty as well, but i avoid them since they were developed by syngenta.

      1. jackiebass

        The variety and soil they are grown in effects the taste. The home gardener has different priorities from commercial growers. Home gardeners usually have taste as a top priority. I’ve grown tomatoes in my garden for 50 years. I found varieties that I liked and stuck with them. They have been the same for most of the time. There have been many new varieties, I usually try a few, but I find my old stand byes are my favorites. Other vegetables are the same as tomatoes. Home grown taste better. Where fruits are grown effects their taste. A Red Delicious apple grown in NY state taste different than one grown in Washington state. A big advantage to home grown is you can produce vegetables without pesticides. I do use a little commercial fertilizer but no pesticides. To me it is very enjoyable to go into my garden and pick and eat a fresh vegetable. Well worth the work and expense. Any excess vegetables are shared with friends and family.

    4. Wyoming

      As a former owner/operator of an organic vegetable farm I can offer another insight.

      Non-farmers market tomatoes (i.e. store bought) have to be picked at a point in the growing cycle that they will survive cleaning, packing, shipping, store time, and finally, a few days to a week in your house before they spoil. Thus it is absolutely critical that they be picked long before they are ripe.

      If you go to a vegetable operation growing tomatoes and head out with the crew you will find that any tomato on the vine which is already partly red they yank off and throw on the ground – it is too ripe to survive the above timeline. Only tomatoes are picked and send for processing which are in the yellow stage of the green-yellow-red transition.

      Any fruit or vegetable which is picked before it is ripe is guaranteed to not have most of its potential for flavor. Add in the genetic selection issue from the article and you have the results everyone hates.

      We trained our customers to understand that we did not partake in the above mess. We picked ‘ripe’ (meaning that you had no more than 1-2 days to eat it) and others which were good for about 4 days. Nothing else. We told them to enjoy the flavor and wait until next week for more or to go to our competitors for tomatoes they needed to last for more than 4 days. Worked like a champ. And we won every taste test in our markets for 5 straight years.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    The Dirty Truth About Green Batteries Gizmodo.

    This is a huge and growing issue, but unfortunately I don’t think reports like this which focus exclusively on the implications of a high renewables electricity mix are telling the whole story. All energy generation requires enormous amounts of mining and the use of exotic materials. A typical gasoline or diesel engine – especially with catalytic converter – uses significant amounts of rare earths and exotic metals. The latest high pressure thermal plants (fossil fuel and nuclear) require vast amounts of specialist alloyed steel.

    The only ‘honest’ lifecycle assessments (and there aren’t many of them, I’m deeply suspicious of most of the reports floating around) compare all the possible energy mixes equally. Maybe enormous lithium mines will be a price worth paying if coal mines and oil fields are closed down worldwide – it all depends on the mix and scale of transition. Despite the undoubted issues, I’m not convinced by the research I’ve seen that a high renewable/energy storage mix is anywhere near as environmentally damaging as the obvious alternatives.

    But it is clear that there is an unavoidable conclusion that all possible options are straining planetary ecosystems to an unacceptable degree – the only ‘real’ alternative – the one that has to be central to anything we do – is rapid and permanent reductions in energy use, whatever the source.

    1. UserFriendly

      NREL’s life cycle harmonization is the gold standard (and they certainly aren’t going out of their way to make nuclear look good, IIRC they used a 25 or 30 year lifespan for nuclear plants when the only thing making them shut down shy of 50-60 years is politicians who think net zero can wait, or Wall Street and DC flushing money down the toilet to subsidize fracking. Every single shut down gets replaced with nat gas). It is very useful to be able to compare different types of each technology.

      I would say that the mining required per kW generated is at least an order of magnitude less for nuclear. You need something like 400-500 times more area for wind or PV to generate as much as nuclear, all of it full of stuff that required mining.

      The other point I have been trying to make regarding rare earths for renewables is that generally, we mine the purest stuff first. If we are going to put literally the whole planet on them it could easily require more and more energy to mine and purify and recycling these metals isn’t a free ride either. And all that assumes we can even find enough of all of them to mine in the first place. It is never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

      Ironically, since we can literally pull as much Uranium as we could ever use out of the sea, nuclear may be much more ‘renewable’ than wind or PV.

      Anything less than pushing for every type of carbon free energy as fast as possible is literally killing people and causing species to go extinct.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thank you for your link to NREL’s life cycle site. But as far as the extraction of uranium from salt water I guess I’ve read too many similar reports about technical wonders that are nearing economic viability … and continue reaching for viability for decades … and decades. The Forbes report suggests many other issues with nuclear power with its glib statements of how little the cost of fuel for nuclear figures into the costs for nuclear power. I like to believe nuclear fission could be a nice renewable source for large quantities of low cost power, and all the problems related to nuclear waste products and nuclear risks — both of which I agree are probably overblown … but also probably not so negligible as optimists hope. Past history sampling the offerings of our nuclear power industries has left a very sour taste.

        1. UserFriendly

          well any of them could not pan out, that it was we need to try them all. We could always just run the plants on decommissioned warheads for a while too. ;-)

        2. beth

          When the industry says that nuclear energy is cheaper than wind and solar, they are not including the cost of storing the waste for thousands of years. Many years ago Congress decided to be responsible for paying to store the waste. Nice deal if you can get it.

    2. Chris Cosmos

      The chief problem we have in thinking about alternative energy, storage devices, and transmission systems is that we assume (always) that things need to stay the same except aspects of the grid might change. The change required to create a sustainable future is not really entertained.

      First, the technology for a sustainability is, more of less, here now but our collective resources are not focused on developing these techniques/technologies because the system is set up to reward and support carbon fuels. The full costs of these fuels seldom enter the picture. It’s very hard to bring in alternative energy into a system designed, specifically, to be wasteful and inelegant. Future tech needs to be “elegant” and well-thought out but who is going to pay for that? Governments? Not likely. Corporations? No because they are, as we seen in the US political situation they vehemently lobby for NO CHANGE in any aspect of the current set up because they’ve turned from entrepreneurs to rentiers.

      The only possibility before us is, to be crude, to “smash the State” which includes the corporate managers, media, and other private interests who are as much a part of the State as the official parts of government. For practical reasons, this cannot be done using violence but through using collective resources to solve the problems in society. To put it another way the System as such directly blocks most innovation that will not return a quick profit because for that

        1. jrs

          H.R. 763, that’s the serious proposal for carbon taxes (not just cap and trade). I don’t know what to make of this, but they could come out for the bill (I’d still be skeptical of them, that they might water down whatever but …).

    3. Olga

      You’re right – they are not telling the full story. Recently, there’s been a steady dribble of these stories that seem (in the nicest possible way) to question the value of renewables. It’s as if we’re watching the replay of tobacco industry sowing seeds of doubt about cigarettes’ harm (or the fossil fuel industry questioning the reality of climate change). I wonder who really benefits from such stories? The Koch brothers?
      A much fuller story would tell you that there are various types of energy storage technologies – and some do not require any mining. But even if we must mine for minerals – what is the alternative? Stick with fossil fuels? Really??? The critics of renewables offer no viable alternatives.
      The truth is we have enough technologies to embark on a steady transition away from FFs. If we focus on this transition and put our resources into R&D, we could develop all sorts of different energy sources – with or without mining. Our worry right now ought to be to agree on a transition plan and then see where it takes us. I just don’t see much point in agonising about renewables, when the “enemy” (FFs) is so stark.
      Plus – if you ask any grid operator, the transition has already started and it cannot be stopped… because economics.

      1. UserFriendly

        My point has always been all non carbon energy as fast as possible. But you need to go into it with eyes open. Read the report and who paid for it, it isn’t big oil.

      2. JB

        At this point, I’m more concerned about deployment and market transformation than R&D. What good is R&D if the technologies never gain traction in the market even when licensed for pennies on the dollar or even given away for free? There are a whole host of proven, commercially-available, energy-saving technologies that are either 1. not getting integrated into products (i.e., sitting on the sidelines in RD&D labs), or 2. not gaining market share in existing products, mainly due both policy and economic circumstances…even technologies that have been validated numerous times across numerous climate zones to have impressive lifecycle cost effectiveness (simple payback periods on incremental cost at 25% of useful life). I’ll even go a step further, there are numerous zero or even negative incremental cost energy-saving products that have gained little to no market traction. It can be incredibly frustrating to work in this space.

        When I think about the situation we find ourselves in, I keep coming back to the conclusion that more people will have to suffer and endure pain before our legislators and bureaucrats will take non-trivial action against the interests that line their pockets. They will need to fear the inevitable backlash rising for the disregard of the climate change problem. At this point, it’s not a matter of whether human crises will result from climate change (because they’re already underway), but a question of the scale and distribution. Just think, we’re losing a game and yet the coaches still won’t let us go for slam dunks because they’re afraid of what ownership will say/do.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like the beer commercial, taste great or less filling, we have here ‘Waste Great, Less Feeling’ and the opposite, “Waste Less, Great Feeling.’

      That’s what we have as more and more people see the only ‘real alternative’ in reducing consumption, and not renewables.

  3. BobW

    “Washington Plays Monopoly…” headline reminded me of years ago reading something like: “US plays poker, Russia plays chess.”

    1. Eureka Springs

      Whatever the name of a game where the bully kicks over the table scattering the board and pieces, steps way back, then bombs, starves, blames the hell out of any and everybody who tries to put it back in order… That’s the U.S. game.

    2. Wukchumni

      In Humordor Monopoly, a selected player is given the opportunity to buy all the properties before the game starts, which is then gamed to allow the participant to pass Go repeatedly with each roll of the dice and collect $200, allowing them to pay for those properties purchased with a promise sorry note.

      The other players get walloped and protest mightily, but the winner simply says, “free markets, man”

    3. Jef

      Monopoly was meant to be a cautionary tale but most use it as training process for real life.

      Has anyone ever played monopoly and about halfway through, when everyone has some property and money, say “ok, thats it, I guess we can stop playing now”? Ha!

      1. polecat

        One can now play (as in being played through the use of bernaysian incentives !!) Monopoly as they (when checking out) shop for those un-luscious tomatoes at a certain grocery chained …

      2. newcatty

        I have… it was because it was boring, but also because I was secretly hoping the kids I was playing with would ask me why? Didn’t happen and I didn’t want to get into dictating my pov at the time to them. Just said, I’ve more than enough money and wow, own two houses! They looked at me like, oh well, be a party pooper. I hoped my statement would make a subliminal impact. I gave all my stuff equally to the two other players. Hey, that’s not in the rules! Next subliminal implanted pov: Rules can, and often should, be broken or replaced with new ones.

        1. shtove

          Ever play Monopoly with a 7 year old kid in charge of the electronic bank thingamujig? It’s like war and history exploding in a fireball. Christmas Dinner totally ruined.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Chess is still not a sharing game.

      The objective is not that inspirational.

  4. Alex

    It’s not particularly important that the demand for certain raw materials will outstrip the current reserves. The current reserves are the function of the cost, if lithium increases in price two times the reserves will by definition also increase. And the raw materials comprise a relatively small part of the finished product (Tesla’s battery contains less than 100 kg of lithium which costs $10-15 per kg), so your Tesla would only cost $1000-1500 more.

    1. Watt4Bob

      The current reserves are the function of the cost, if lithium increases in price two times the reserves will by definition also increase.

      Thanks, I feel so relieved, and here I thought lithium reserves were bound to dwindle?

      1. Alex

        Have you read what I wrote?

        The reserves defined as all lithium on planet earth can only dwindle (ignoring recycling). The reserves defined as what is economical to mine at the current price, which were quoted in the article, can easily grow.

        1. Synapsid


          All the lithium there is would be the resource; the reserves would be the part that could be extracted profitably, and that would change with price, as you say.

          This is the oil-industry approach.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The definition of “reserves” is economic: the amount recoverable at PRESENT prices. As the price goes up, so does the amount of reserves.

        At some point, the existing batteries become the chief reserve.

        We should use a different word for the total resource, which obviously we’ll never actually get.

    2. Robert Valiant

      The last car I purchased cost $5,000.

      I don’t think absurdly heavy electric luxury sports cars are a green beacon of hope for anyone but the wealthy.

      1. anon in so cal

        “absurdly heavy electric luxury sports cars are not necessarily a “green beacon of hope for anyone.” Full stop.

        Similarly, is driving a new behemoth electric or hybrid SUV environmentally helpful?

        1. Robert Valiant

          W = F • d • cos(theta) and P = F • v • cos(theta) – there’s just no escaping physics.

          I use a bicycle to do grocery shopping for my family of four.

          1. shtove

            But think of all the lithium you transfer from elbow to tyre during your weekly inflation session.

        2. Alex

          So much strawmanning. I don’t own , recommend buying Tesla and actually happen to commute to work by train. Certainly I don’t claim that they are a beacon of anything.
          It was an example and my argument holds for any electric new car.

          1. Robert Valiant

            An example of what? That people of wealth find $1,500 to be pocket change? Everyone already knows that; goes without saying.

            In the US there are no viable, inexpensive, lightweight, energy conserving electric cars. Not that there couldn’t be, but smug, cavalier, privileged attitudes mean there won’t be. Your examples are irrelevant to the larger realities of western consumption and resource depletion.

    3. UserFriendly

      What would cause the price to go up? (not necessarily for Li but for a lot of other rare earth metals)
      Most likely a harder to get to, or less pure ore. Guess what, that means more energy required to get the raw materials. Now try powering the entire planet using these. That extra energy just gets bigger and bigger which means EROI gets lower and lower. Yes, Big Deal.

      1. anon in so cal

        Lithium extraction entails destruction of pristine habitats, such as next door to Death Valley National Park.

        “A keynote struggle is brewing over Panamint Valley in Death Valley National Park. We need more green energy, but this should not come at the cost of what we are trying to preserve. Los Angeles Times reported on May 7, 2019 an Australian company applied for permission to drill four exploratory wells there. That’s because they want to determine the lithium content in salty brine beneath the valley floor…..”

        1. UserFriendly

          This is going to get worse and worse. Everyone wants renewables but doesn’t want wind turbines killing birds, NIMBY, and don’t you dare do any of the massive mining it will require anywhere near me, let’s tear out hydro to save salmon, clearly nuclear energy is just a nuclear explosion waiting to happen, and I need my SUV for my 7 kids, but I’m an environmentalist!
          We are so dead.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Or we could make things that last twenty years, put more hand cranks on them, and walk to the store. For some people a future without salad shooters and 60 inch plasma screens is not the end of the world.

            How about NIMGBY-ism. Not In My Grandchildrens’ Back Yard? Or their water table frankly.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Why is everyone assuming that lithium batteries are the only technology? Especially on a large scale, there are many. One involves storing the heat of the sun, so solar is available at night, too. Another, recently modelled, involves making and storing hydrogen, then burning it at night. That one works down to household scale. And there are other types of batteries, most of which are better for large scale than lithium. It’s too bad Tesla, the most visible player, is so committed to lithium.

      Do lithium limitations mean there will never be as many electric cars as there are FF ones? Isn’t that just as well?

  5. vlade

    Brexit: Both parties are in terror.
    Money quote for me: ” At no stage has he realised the magnitude of what has happened – that this thing will eat up all the time and energy of the British political system for years.”

    We have been saying that at this blog for years now. Any reasonable brexit requires major-war-like level of planning. I’ll add to it. Any unreasonable Brexit (“WTPO”) will require a super-major-catastrophe-like level of dealing with consequences.

    In both cases, there will be no bandwith for years to deal with almost anything else.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Probably the only good thing to come from Brexit is that its paralysed the Tories from doing damage in other areas. The government seems incapable of action on anything – it must be terrible to be working in the civil service now.

      But its distressing to see that Corbyn doesn’t seem to see that this will paralyse a progressive Labour government just as much as it is paralysing the Tories. While its tempting to see a crash out as an alternative (i.e. get all the harm out in one big bang), the reality is that it will take many years to sort out the Gordian knot of trade, whatever the government and whatever their intentions.

    2. Olga

      Here is another rant – quite devastating from a Senior Parliamentary Researcher at the House of Commons
      “It has been an appalling period in British politics and government. Unlike any period experienced in living memory. The British State, once high and mighty, lording it over other nations with typical English condescension and patronising arrogance, has well and truly come crashing down to Earth with a very heavy bump thanks to Brexit. It will never be the same again. The defenestration of the British Government and wider British State machine including its intelligence and security services has been a spectacular sight to behold. The credibility of the British State and its democracy has been ripped to shreds. For three years now the British ‘nation’, Parliament, Government, Civil Service, media and economy has been consumed by one issue and one issue alone, whether or not the UK will depart the European Union after the 2016 Referendum.”

      1. Off The Street

        England has been working on its disintegration for decades, which is not easy for an Anglophile to watch. Some useful observations about its unique approach may be found in the recent book The Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra. Brexit may hasten the end of what the author calls the Chumocracy.

    3. polecat

      Oh Great ! … a formerly uknighted kingdumb going full-on discombobulation, whilst still in possession of functional atomics …

    4. Summer

      They are all more worried about getting re-elected than taking care of the business at hand.

  6. zagonostra

    >Tulsi Gabbard

    I don’t know how many NC’ers watched the 2 hour interview on Joe Rogan with Tulsi Gabbard last night, but it’s uplifting to see almost 1 million viewers as of this morning have viewed it. It is a breath of fresh air from the Stygian stench oozing out of the MSM. One of noteworthy remark she made is that under her administration Assange and Snowden would receive a pardon.

    When compared to comedian turned corporate whore, Colbert, of several weeks ago you have to be thankful that there is, at least for the moment, other outlets for those interested in politics.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Joe Rogan does a lot of good with his interviews – although its unfortunate that the relatively easy ride he gave Jerry Yang seems to have boosted his candidacy, but his thinly disguised enthusiasm for Gabbard does not seem to have had an impact on her polling.

      1. zagonostra

        It’s not really “thinly disguised” he has come out and endorsed her.

        What I found interesting is the format, a 2 hour free-form chat. I certainly would have preferred a deeper discussion of healthcare and other topics, but my gawd, compared to what you get on MSM, you gotta love it..I don’t think Joe Rogan sees his role as adversarial, he is just having a conversation and hitting on some key points that are “out there” and giving the person a chance to respond (as well as giving a whole lot of his own opinion thrown in there).

        Polling data at this point, in my view, is designed to influence public opinion as opposed to measuring it, e.g., Biden at 38% and Bernie at 16% in one poll that came out recently.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Scientifically, one tries to have an explanation for the date, the measurements.

          In this case, it seems odd and would require some explanation why Sanders would poll only 16%. What has changed, for him, since 2016, to drop to that level (that number is meaningless unless one can explain it)?

            1. jrs

              If people would rather get angry about felons voting than have healthcare: this is why we can’t have nice things.

      2. vidimi

        unfortunately, he also tends to feed the trolls like jordan peterson and ben shapiro

    2. dearieme

      I sing my song again. Trump should ask her to be his VP running mate.

      How about Trump/Gabbard versus Biden/Sanders? I’d laugh my socks off.

        1. dearieme

          I know Trump’s a narcissistic oaf but it’s a bit harsh to compare him to those three.

    3. skk

      Thanks for linking. I’ll watch it. Joe Rogan is good. and that the sessions last 2 hours is also good.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Joe Rogan has been so good lately.

        Cant wait til he interviews Doc Hudson!

        1. shtove

          Yes, Rogan does attract some exotic beasts into his arena. I think Jimmy Dore credits him for unleashing Jimmy’s non-insane satire.

  7. Amfortas the hippie

    the article on tomatoes left out some important historical facts:
    “…a modern-day industrial tomato has no problem with falling off a truck at 60 miles an hour on an interstate highway….”-(
    modern toms haven’t been bred just for roundness…but for being able to withstand shipping green and being gassed with ethylene to artificially ripen them.
    industrial breeders knew they were trading flavor and nutrition in order to fit into the industrial model.
    i only grow heirlooms, myself…and save seed, just to be sure.
    the story is the same with cukes and zukes and a hundred other formerly flavorful and nutritious plant products.
    Instead of “let them eat cake(really, “brioche”)”…it’s “let them eat $hit”.
    there are some resisters…even on the big bidness side: heb makes an effort to buy local and organic and small(-ish). the one I frequent maintains a relationship with a local guy with a bunch of greenhouses who grows year round(*) heirloom toms, sold still on the vine.the difference between these and the regular, industrial toms is marked.smell, taste, flavor…even the feel of the skin.

    * the year round thing is hard, but doable…even organically. I’ve done it, and even experimented with growing cherry toms as a perennial tree(their natural habit, it turns out, altho yield drops off significantly after 2 years)

    1. Robert Valiant

      Growing tasty tomatoes for personal consumption is a satisfying pastime available to very many folks. My wife and I grow hundreds of pounds a year in our hot desert home in Washington State (yes, there is a desert in Washington State), but we even grew them in gray misty Seattle when we lived there. There a varieties that work in may different climates.

      1. tegnost

        west of the cascades I normally wait til june to get tomato plants, but this year I’ve gotten them already, they’ll just have to slog through seattle’s “second winter”, otherwise known as “may grey” and “june gloom”. Not really a problem starting late when growing goes on through september. Nothing compares to home toms, I make sauce and can it, which can last for a few months, and chow chow with the many green tomatoes one winds up with here. Chow chow is great. Yum.

      2. dearieme

        We grow our own in the open in Cambridgeshire. Potato blight is our main foe: it’s easier to protect the tatties than the toms. We don’t want to spray them.

  8. pjay

    Re: ‘5G Networks Will Likely Interfere With US Weather Satellites, Navy Warns’

    I see Putin and the Russians got to the US Navy, too. I’m sure the NYT will set them straight about the safety of 5G. Issue those licenses!

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Alabama abortion ban passes overwhelmingly with no changes”

    So with this decision, they have made it illegal to have an abortion in the great State of Alabama, even in a case where a woman was raped or was a victim of incest just so that the law could be used to challenge Roe v. Wade. By implication then, in a coupla years they will have to change the forms that Alabama uses for kids entering school for the first time. Under ‘Mother’, they should have a tick-box if she can also be listed as a ‘Sister’ as well. I hope that those Republican politicians of Alabama are proud of themselves.

    1. Big Tap

      Alabama probably knows that a federal judge will correctly rule this unconstitutional. That’s the plan. Alabama then will appeal up to the U.S. Supreme Court which will rule 5-4 that abortion is now illegal. They’re currently five judges who think that abortion is murder. The only question will be when the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional will it impact the entire country or will they let abortion legality by handled on a state by state basis.

          1. flora

            So an Ala. doctor may not now remove a non-viable fetus that died in the womb and is now necrotizing and poisoning the woman, or remove an ectopic pregnancy, for examples.

            Pregnancies can go wrong. In the days before Roe women whose pregnancies went wrong were left no options but to wait for a spontaneous miscarriage which might or might not happen before the woman’s health was irretrievably compromised, or worse.

            The Ala lege is interfering with doctors’ rights to treat their patients according to their best diagnosis and ability.

  10. johnnygl

    The allure of neoliberalism still has an iron grip on our business class. This kind of idea looks like a clear example.

    Whenever you see someone taking a problem that has been solved in a satisfactory way, in other countries or in the past, for example, and they blow off those kinds of tested, proven ideas and prefer to come up with another complex scheme to create markets which presumes a bunch of good faith participants and no cartels or corrupt attempts to run a scam…THAT…i humbly suggest….THAT is the dead hand of neoliberalism showing it still has a grip on the brains of the elites.

  11. a different chris

    >Sanders said it wasn’t a “radical idea to suggest that clean drinking water and clean air should be the right of all Americans, regardless of their income or the color of their skin.”

    Yeah this is fine I guess. I though, and I would bet one or two more of us here, cringe a bit at the super-centric “Americans” framing.

    I wouldn’t even like it much as “the right of all human beings…”. Clean drinking water and clean air should just be a given. The Earth doesn’t exist solely or even primarily for us hoomans, it just exists and we need to not mess it up. If you follow Sander’s logic to the letter, you can meet his conditions with Trantor just as well as Gaia. And Trantor – ugh.

    PS: and whilst I’m whining, I’m a little taken aback by Moe Tkacik’s insistence on having a third child.

    1. mle detroit

      “[P]regnancy scare” = “insistence on having a third child”?
      But, yeah, universal child care should come with a mechanism for discouraging those who would otherwise be adjunct history professors from over-indulging in cheap kids.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another question is, if something is a right, should it be free?

      For example, anyone of voting age has the right to vote. And he or she doesn’t have to pay for that right.

      So, we shouldn’t have to pay to breathe clean air.

      Nor should we when it comes to clean drinking water?

      Additonally, we can ask if we have the right to clean air and clean drinking water, shouldn’t we have the right to organic, heirloom fruits and vegetables as well? What separates clean drinking water from organic, heirloom tomatoes?

      1. Wukchumni

        In general, Americans are offered a grand total of around 10 different varieties of apples in the supermarket. This is up quite a bit from when I was a kid and there was Red & Golden Delicious (a couple of misnomers of a name, that) and Granny Smith, that was it.

        I’ve got more heirloom apples growing that you can shake a stick at, and the first ones this year will be Red Astrachans, which almost taste like applesauce and have no shelf life to speak of, eat em’ quick. They would never work for Big Ag. On the other end of ripening, there’s Arkansas Black, which requires a few months of storage after picking, to allow it to mature to a good tasting apple.

        There’s also the aspect of an apple looking good, which means the varieties that look as if they got hit the ugly stick repeatedly and suffer from apple acne or other maladies, aren’t salable either.

      2. tegnost

        OMG, travelling today and yesterday and getting water at a gas station the attendant asked if I’d ever had some specific brand of water, he said “they add something to it so it tastes just like water!”….speechless…I think I did manage to blurt out an “is that so…”

        1. polecat

          Come on man ! Give the dood a break … he was making reference to that OTHER liquid, otherwise known as Hydrogen Dioxide ……

            1. Off The Street

              If you say dihydrogen monoxide it takes on a slightly sinister connotation ;)

      3. Kurt Sperry

        “Another question is, if something is a right, should it be free?”

        If it requires a payment, it sure as heck isn’t a right.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Fourth-largest coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy”

    Conditions for coal producers must be really bad for this to be happening. Especially when you consider all the subsidies that that industry receives. The reason that I say this is because I came across an article today which talked about how the US spent nearly $650 billion in 2015 alone in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. That is about the same amount of money that the US spends on the Pentagon annually. By this measure, if you argue that money should be spent on a Greener America and you are asked where the money could come from to finance this, then you can tell them exactly where the money can be found. Here is that article which talks about world wide subsidies for this industry-

    1. TimD

      Note that the “subsidies” are primarily estimates of the unbilled cost to the environment and don’t represent much spendable cash. Similar computations would show farmers as receiving hundreds of billions in additional subsidies while steadily going broke.

      I think making such estimates is perfectly valid. Where I disagree with the approach is spinning that it is actual money from government budgets that could be retrieved for other purposes.

      1. Olga

        “the “subsidies” are primarily estimates of the unbilled cost” – pretty sure you could hardly be more wrong about that. Facts need to be checked before opining… For one, the IMF would disagree with you:
        They say subsidies total more than the US military budget – that a lot of ‘estimating,’ woldn’t you think? “The United States has spent more subsidizing fossil fuels in recent years than it has on defense spending, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.”
        And this report (from 2014) has a handy list of just what kind of subsidies FFs (fossil fuels) get:

        1. Synapsid


          Comparisons with subsidies to other extractive industries, and to farming as TimD says, would be helpful.

        2. Wyoming

          So I read your first link and am a bit confused I guess. s)

          The article clearly states exactly what Tim said above. Most of those ‘subsidies’ are the estimated value of the externalized costs. So Tim is actually correct in that there is no $ available to recover or redirect.

          Thus the big problem of defining what is really a subsidy and what is an externalized cost.

          1. Another Scott

            When I looked at the IMF study, I thought that some of those externalities aren’t even really costs of fossil fuels but costs of associated uses. They included vehicle fatalities and congestion externalities as subsidies for fossil fuels. Would those disappear if we started driving electric vehicles?

        3. TimD


          Your first link simply reinforces the original article in stating that the environmental costs constitute a very large indirect subsidy, not mainly a cash one. The second link lists amounts that only total several billion a year. As I said, it’s fair to calculate the real environmental costs but not to believe that it’s directly a budget issue.

          1. Olga

            Am surprised by the push-back… the word that stuck in my crow is `estimates.` For one, I think it is pretty much semantics whether something is “a very large indirect subsidy“ or a “cash one.“ Subsidy is a subsidy, regardless of who pays it (well, not really, but in effect). Subsidies for FFs extract (or impose) a huge cost on society. To the extent that those are indirect – well, that is because of the way the economy has been arranged. The cost of environmental destruction, health care costs related to pollution, or tax benefits are all cash costs – sooner or later. We have an economy that effectively hides those costs – but they still exist and someone pays them – again, sooner or later.
            As the planet burns, arguing about `spendable cash` seems like arguing about how many angels can dance on the top of a needle.
            And as for “Where I disagree with the approach is spinning that it is actual money from government budgets that could be retrieved for other purposes.`- with MMT, it should not matter anyway. What these subsidies (very real ones) do reflect are the priorities a society places on – in this case – its energy sources. The main point here is that we need to re-orient or re-prioritise our preferences, lest we irretrievably damage this planet.

  13. pjay

    Re: ‘Deepfakes are coming. We’re not Ready’

    Thanks so much to the Washington Post for this warning. After all, who would know better about fake news? But what to do about it? The author is a little fuzzy, but here is his concluding paragraph:

    “Deepfakes are a threat to our democracy because of underlying political deficiencies that make us an easy target. A significant chunk of the U.S. electorate dabbles in conspiracy theories, encouraged by a president who promotes them himself. Millions of Americans consume “news” from outlets that pump out lie after lie. And the groups most likely to be fooled are those who have low levels of media literacy and are unable to discern questionable sources from reliable ones. If better forgers are coming, we, as citizens, need to ensure that voters are educated to become better detectives.”

    Can you guess which “chunk of the US electorate” is being referenced here, or which news outlets “pump out lie after lie,” or which groups “have low levels of media literacy”? I left out the links in this paragraph, but do we really need them? I’m just thankful that the Post wants to “ensure that voters are educated” on how to discern “reliable” sources. I am, however, a little concerned about who will do the “ensuring,” how it will be done, and how “reliable sources” will be defined. But there I go being a conspiracy theorist again.

  14. PeakBS

    Tesla shutting down Solar City ?

    Yes seems to be the answer.

    EXCLUSIVE-Tesla’s solar factory is exporting most of its cells – document

    But the company has installed them on just a handful of rooftops nationwide so far after production line troubles and a gutting of Tesla’s solar sales team.

    California state data shows 21 Solar Roof systems were connected by the state’s three investor-owned utilities as of Feb. 28.

  15. Brindle

    re: “Ocasio-Cortez decries Biden…”

    Notice the NPR framing that AOC is “harsh” rather than passionate or committed, and also the “some in the party worry”—who are these “some” ? Biden just “continues to lead” rather than maybe he is out of touch.

    –“Her harsh pushback demonstrates the ideological divide permeating the Democratic White House field, one that some in the party worry could hamper their efforts to win over rural voters in their quest to defeat President Trump. As Biden continues to lead the field in the polls, expect the criticism to grow louder from the more progressive left.”–

    1. zagonostra


      In pre-internet days I used to listen to NPR News hosted by Bob Edwards driving to work in the morning for my daily news. No longer; something has changed over there. The “National” and “Radio” part is accurate but the “Public” part is a parody, at least with respect to their news.

      Last month in and Interview by David Greene of Glen Greenwald on Julian Assange there is a wonderful exchange where the incompetence and mendacity of NPR news is revealed in bold relief.

      1. Cal2

        “Funded by the Pew Charitable Trust”
        = Coal mines and environmental destruction….

        “The Robert Wood Foundation”, Gee, wonder why NPR mocks Medicare For All?

        The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation” Oil, Gas, Tires, Diesel, destroying transit and inner cities,

    2. Grant

      Force right wingers to operate in the same party as social democrats, then force “unity” on the party. Unity is, of course, defined by those running the party. They pick who the nominee will be, or at least let everyone know who they find acceptable, and then everyone is to unify around their choices. Those that speak of this unity will not accept having to vote for someone forced on them, like Sanders, by the peasants. When it comes to policy, there cannot be any unity. That leads to bland nothing statements. Instead of supporting single payer, the Democrats will all support Americans having universal access to affordable medical care, which means nothing. And they will all pretend to be for the same things, but use different means towards those ends.

      With Biden, this nonsense becomes too transparent. He has a right wing record. His policies have decimated communities of color, students in debt, working people and he is corrupt. He has said a mountain of stupid things and has done a lot of creepy things with women. Anyone that is worried about pointing this out needs to be challenged just as much as Biden. Biden is to the right of Clinton, and may have more baggage. It is irrational in the extreme to not critique that during a primary, especially with how out of step he is.

      I love how that article though says that Sanders is one of the Democrats proposing “bold” plans to deal with the environmental crisis. No, the crisis calls for pretty radical changes, and he is trying to support some policies that match the level of the crisis. It isn’t “bold”, in a sane society they would be considered very conservative, given the scale of the crisis.

      1. jrs

        Jay Inslee is the one proposing detailed plans to deal with the crisis. But Sanders could be made to accept good plans.

        The difference between the other centrists (Kamala, Beto, Buttigieg) and Biden is there exists a possibility of them being driven to some better policies by events (some at least in theory favor them).
        But Biden is the death of even that remote hope. The death of all hope, that is Biden. No hope and no change. Ever.

      2. Brindle

        Even without knowing much about all the Dem candidates it’s a good bet that Biden is the most right-wing of the whole pack.

    3. sleepy

      Her harsh pushback demonstrates the ideological divide permeating the Democratic White House field, one that some in the party worry could hamper their efforts to win over rural voters in their quest to defeat President Trump.

      I live in rural Iowa in a county of 40,000. In the 2016 caucuses it was the rural Iowa counties that delivered the delegates for Sanders. The urban counties went for Clinton.

    4. newcatty

      A woman being called “harsh” when she speaks with conviction and is articulate in her statements is the essence of putting a woman with commited points of view in negative spin and manipulation of emotions. AOC has also been called “disrespectful” of party leaders. This means she dares to contradict them. She is “unrealistic” and “inexperienced”. This is so rich. The pitiful framing of her in those terms is especially so, when you consider the “experience” in government and “leadership” that Biden brings to the Democratic field.

      1. Oregoncharles

        If they want “harsh” on Biden, they should read the comments here.

        A bit more to the point: what’s special about AOC, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib is precisely that they speak the forbidden. This is very unusual among politicians, and very welcome.

        I was going to say “and a few others,” but I don’t think that’s true.

        I think I’ve seen AOC’s comments, and they were harsh. As they should be. I wouldn’t over-emphasize the gender aspect. Those three have major guts.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “The Mysterious “Sabotage” of Saudi Oil Tankers: a Dangerous Moment in Trump’s Escalating Conflict With Iran”

    It is definitely not 2003 anymore. First the Spanish pulled their frigate from the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group as they never signed up for war duties. Then the German Defense Ministry said that they were halting its mission from training Iraqi troops. Now the Dutch have announced that they too are suspending their troops training Kurdish forces in Iraq. Seems that this time around that the other powers are taking a good hard look at what Trump, Pompeo & Bolton are doing in the Gulf and saying “Nope!”

    1. Oregoncharles

      Not encouraging, actually. If they don’t want to be caught inthe maelstrom, they evidently think it’s a real danger.

      Personally, I’m hoping this is just a Trumpian negotiating tactic

  17. Wukchumni

    Mayuary will soon be bearing down on us in the new normal, which includes perhaps a couple new feet of snow in the higher climes of the Sierra in the midst of the ides of May. That ain’t right, but you go with the climate you have-not the one you remember.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One June, years ago, on my way to a summer job in Bishop, after school was over, it was sunny and warm when I left the San Francisco Bay Area, but the time I got to Tioga Pass, there was snow there.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Births Fall to Lowest Rates Since 1980s”

    The author Robert Heinlein built up a future history chart/timeline ( so that each of his stories could form part of a sequence of events. That article title reminded me of how in the period that was described as the “Crazy Years”, that the U.S. birth rate became top secret. Considering its importance, it could still happen.

      1. Wukchumni

        I hadn’t heard of it, sounds interesting.

        Wonder who is loathed more here in California?

        …the growing homeless population in the Big Smokes living cheek by jowl to half million dollar homes, in various pee’d-à-terre domiciles

        Or immigrants from south of the border that are seldom seen aside from doing the kind of jobs that society has deemed to be below our calling?

        1. Cal2

          Who? You must be from the sticks or something…;-)

          The “homeless” are loved, at least by San Francisco politicians, where as part of their “services” they are immediately registered to vote and told whom to vote for to perpetuate the ongoing “services.”

          Mostly from out of state, to and including a large number of Latin Americans, mostly sanctuaried illegals, attracted by the ability to do absolutely anything from shooting up on streets, in front of cops, with 4.4 million free needles a year provided, to dedicating, begging ranting, breaking into cars, and most of all, the billions of dollars in services provided to them.

          “Immigrants”, you talking legal immigrants? Or, illegals?
          the kind of jobs that society has deemed to be below our calling,”
          like everything from paperboy, to plumbing, carpentry, to retail clerks, bakers, or any other job that American citizens once did, as they earned a livable wage, now no longer possible as they “compete” with an endless human ant-line of cheap labor, that mocks the efforts of legal immigrants to naturalize, except in public employee unions and the few remaining private employer unions?

          Dunno, I guess we need an expensive tax funded survey?

          1. Wukchumni

            How would you know of the origin of the homeless in California, have there been any studies done that you can cite?

          2. GERMO

            where as part of their “services” they are immediately registered to vote and told whom to vote for to perpetuate the ongoing “services.”

            Mostly from out of state, to and including a large number of Latin Americans, mostly sanctuaried illegals,

            extraordinary claims, here, but I hear the same preposterous notions from those complaining about “the homeless” where I live as well. I think you are wrong.

            1. JBird4049

              It is not that hard to **look** at the many homeless and just about all of them are native. There are more discrete camps of illegal immigrants, but their life is hard enough as it is that they do what they can not to be seen. They tend to live in the hills and whatnot.

              Really, what the illegal workforce does is enable the businesses that pay the starvation wages (and sometimes skip paying the workers altogether) and avoid those pesky health and safety regs while working their employees like whipped dogs. So why hire legal labor that can call the state and federal regulators on you? Under paying or not paying is something that they will nail the businesses for even now.

        2. Jax

          Re: Camp of the Saints

          This is the bible for Steve Bannon and his ilk. A fevered fantasy of southern brown people despoiling the purity of Europe. Perhaps reading the Wikipedia synopsis is better than wading through all of the muck.

      2. Raulb

        The reader of this blog would know right wing economic propaganda and policies for the last 40 years that have led to massive inequality and insecurity and are likely leading to lower marriage and thus birth rates. People who are insecure are unlikely to want to marry. So having directly caused how can the ‘there is no society individualist’ right wing suddenly feign concern about society and birth rates?

        A reader of this blog would also know there is history of western greed driven meddling, sanctions, coups and warmongering that has led to destruction of entire countries, millions of lives lost, millions in disarray and generational setback in south america and the middle east. And inspite of this staring us in the face the same policy continues unabated in Venezuela and Iran as if these peoples lives and countries not matter somehow? Yet apparently its the perpetrators who are the victims. How many millions of immigrants fleeing to Europe after destabilizing Iran and to the US after destabilizing Venezuela?

        Yet the same right wing folks driving economic feudalism and warmongering are also funding racists and xenophobic right wing propaganda to fuel an unbelievable persecution complex and victimhood in their own populations. Isn’t this diabolical?

        Isn’t there something truly sick in the world if people can be blase all this generational human damage staring them in their face repeated over and over again, to instead get worked up by fictional narratives of malicious immigrants invading europe?

  19. georgieboy

    In other news , Transplants now move by law from red to blue. Vanderbilt lost this suit. Those evil flyover churchgoers must give up those body parts. Metropole asserts itself.

    As an aside, Steve Jobs bought a house in Tennessee and established residency there, to get himself a liver faster than the woke populace of California would deliver.

    The agency that oversees organ transplants is delaying a policy opposed by academic medical centers in the South and Midwest. Schools like Vanderbilt University have opposed changes meant to distribute livers more equitably.

    Vanderbilt joined Emory in Atlanta and a dozen other institutions in suing earlier this week to block the redrawing of the organ distribution map. These institutions say a policy set to take effect April 30 would lead to 20 percent fewer liver transplants in their hospitals.

    The South and Midwest have higher organ donation rates than elsewhere. The new policy would broaden how far a liver can travel, offering it first to patients who are close to death and live within 500 miles.

    Vanderbilt, for instance, argues that could mean a critical patient as far away as Chicago could get priority for a Tennessee liver. But the United Network for Organ Sharing adopted the policy in December, seeing it as a needed modernization to correct inequities that developed decades.

    “The new policy improves upon the previous system to make it fairer by providing more equitable access to a transplant for the benefit of all patients based on medical need,” UNOS CEO Brian Shepard said in a statement explaining the new rules. “Over time the prior system developed geographic disparities and addressing these problems emerged as a top priority.”

    1. sleepy

      More on Steve Jobs:

      He bought this mansion in Memphis to live in for awhile so he could then qualify as a resident for the transplant region.

      After the surgery, the Memphis surgeon bought the mansion in a sweetheart deal that also included two years of utilities and taxes paid by Jobs.

  20. BCD

    The Cisco articles are overblown. The BBC article is bizarre and contains several out of context quotes that don’t make sense, its not worth the time spent reading.

    If these vulnerabilities (there are 2 from the same group of researchers) are so bad then why aren’t they marked with a critical cvss score? Base score of 6.7 out of 10 is far from the worst Cisco vulnerability in recent times.

    Tying these vulnerabilities specifically to “work email” is absurd, its like John McCain’s zombie wrote the BBC article.

    The FPGA vulnerability is a new class of attack that does have interesting implications and should peak the interesting of networking folks but does not rise to the level of “Massive Global Implications”. Interesting yes, potential for global catastrophe low.

  21. Wukchumni

    “Thames of Groans”

    The pilot episode is set in Investoros where the Remainers are pitted against the Brexiters, with a moral midget leading the latter. It takes 8 years for the saga to be completed.

  22. Cal2

    Re Ghost Workers…

    How about “Ghost Thinkers?” There are two kinds of people;
    Those who possess knowledge and can assemble disparate facts they have learned and retained into original thoughts,
    Those who think that the ability to come up with the right search terms on their smart phone is “knowledge.”

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was a tyke I read the 1966 World Book encyclopedia from cover to cover over a number of years, mostly while sitting in the bathtub devouring aardvarks to zoo. It was a elementary search engine to be sure.

      What would the me of 10 years old now do?

      Back then it was a narrow course of knowledge, the encyclopedia being a starter course in learning about a given subject, which pretty much led to books, none of which were at today’s desired 6 page length in terms of attention span.

    2. ewmayer

      The author overlooked a huge category – probably the by-far-biggest – of ghost workers: Those tricked/forced into providing free labor to Big Tech by dark-pattern web designs. Facebook monetizing all the oddles of content their addicted user base provides is one example. Those captcha challenges such as featured in an NC post yesterday are another – every time you solve one of those you are providing unpaid labor to help train the likes of Google’s self-driving AI.

  23. Plenue

    >White House Mulls Plan to Send Up to 120,000 Troops to Iran

    This would be a massive undertaking, and not quickly done. Any other administration I would dismiss this as saber-rattling. But Bolton et al may just not understand this can’t be done on a moment’s notice.

  24. Tomonthebeach

    New Republic’s article on Sara Nelson raised an interesting question for Americans. Why is it that unlike Europe, the US workforce almost never engages in general strikes (withholding labor to pressure policy and practice changes among the economic and political elites)? In the context of the article is was somewhat ironic that her threatened general strike in aviation was in retaliation/reaction to Trumps’ (i.e., management’s) initiation of a general strike of its own – no pay for work.

  25. Craig H.

    > Pax Americana

    They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace. Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus’ Agricola.

    1. JBird4049

      Our Meritocracy is ostensibly self created by the more talented and “educated” and I just have to ask if they have ever studied any history after grade school and are they at all self aware.

      The more things fall apart, the more they pat themselves on the back saying just how wonderful they are so everyone should just let continue to burn the whole world down. Maybe the propaganda is self directed?

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Trump to sign executive order laying ground for Huawei ban”

    Trump’s idea behind this is that US companies will then be able to innovate and compete later with Chinese companies. My bet is that these companies, now protected by a trade barrier, will sit back and use their money to buy more stock back and give themselves a bonus. Maybe they could call this the “Trump Put” of technology.

    1. Lambert Strether

      > these companies, now protected by a trade barrier, will sit back and use their money to buy more stock back and give themselves a bonus.

      That’s a very good bet. Historically, underdeveloped countries like our own have nurtured domestic industry behind tariff walls. But as you point out, that’s necessary but not sufficient. Of course, if the Democrats take power again, they won’t go ahead and whack the CEO self-dealing; they’ll roll back the tariffs. Well played, all.

  27. Keith Howard

    It occurs to me to wonder whether the new AL abortion prohibition statute imposes the same penalty upon practitioners who abort a male, or a female, fetus.

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