Links 9/17/19

The 2019 Winners Improbable Research. The Ig Nobel Prizes: “MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [USA]: Karen Pryor and Theresa McKeon, for using a simple animal-training technique—called ‘clicker training’—to train surgeons to perform orthopedic surgery.”

New route to carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide discovered

A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World NYT. The International Life Sciences Institute.

Uber’s baffling claim that its drivers aren’t core to its business, explained Vox


Attacks on Saudi Oil Plants Risk Lowering Aramco IPO Valuation Bloomberg

The Latest: Official downplays imminent action against Iran Associated Press

Who Was Behind the Saudi Oil Attack? What the Evidence Shows NYT. “American officials have offered no evidence beyond the satellite photos, which analysts said were insufficient to prove where the attack came from, which weapons were used and who fired them.” We should also remember that the discovering the source of the attacks is not the same as determining the uses that can be made of the brute fact of the attack.

Why Would Iran Attack the Saudis NOW? Washington’s Blog

Is A Full-Blown War In The Persian Gulf Inevitable?

The Strike On Saudi Oil Facilities Was Unprecedented And It Underscores Far Greater Issues The Drive

Disrupting Saudi Arabia (PDF) John Robb, Global Guerillas. Interesting, not pay-walled.

The Curse of Osama Bin Laden The New Republic (Re Silc).

Tunisian establishment stunned as outsiders win presidency Reuters


Still no viable Brexit proposals from UK, says EU RTE

Brexit Supreme Court case live: Judges to hear claims Boris Johnson breached law Mirror

Court challenges to prorogation Institute for Government

Johnson vows to ‘obey’ law, but still make Brexit happen in October Politico

UK accused of ‘misleading’ over no-deal Brexit ports disruption FT

UK election polls tracker: Corbyn and Swinson vs Boris and Farage – fight for Brexit is on Express


The U.S. Is About to Do Something Big on Hong Kong The Atlantic

Carrie Lam Says Sanctions Won’t Help Hong Kong as Joshua Wong Meets Congress Bloomberg

On the ground, feeling the pulse of Protest Hong Kong Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (KW).

MTR struggles to maintain operations amid Hong Kong protests FT

* * *

China economic slowdown sparks debate over what caused the slump, and how Beijing should intervene South China Morning Post

Trade war: Chinese delegation head to Washington to step up talks South China Morning Post

Skinny Quitting: Young Chinese Embrace the ‘Naked Resignation’ Sixth Tone

Confucius Institutes and the university: distinguishing the political mission from the cultural (PDF) Christopher Hughes, LSE Research Online

Abe says Japan’s ASDF may evolve into ‘air and space’ defense force Japan Times


Restore normal life to Kashmir, India’s top court tells government Reuters

Nothing Is Normal in Kashmir, Except the Normalisation of Conflict The Wire

‘This toilet retired as soon as it was made’ People’s Archive of Rural India

Bill Gates to honor India’s Modi despite Kashmir concerns Associated Press


Venezuelan opposition calls talks with Maduro dead, causing rift ABC. “Rift.”

Maduro Starts Talks With Venezuelan Parties Not Linked to Guaido Bloomberg

New Cold War

Russia’s Party System Is Falling Apart The Moscow Times

The Magnitskiy Myth Exploded Craig Murray (MH).

Trump Transition

Big Tech Meets Its Pecora Commission: Why Google’s Toughest Opponent Is Now Congress Matt Stoller, BIG

A book on Kavanaugh has real news. But it’s lost in the furor over a botched New York Times essay. Margaret Sullivan, WaPo

Michael Flynn’s Motion to Compel Brady Evidence is Compelling Larry Johnson, Sic Semper Tyrannis (MH).

Democrats in Disarray

The West Wing is 20 years old. Too many Democrats still think it’s a great model for politics. Vox

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

After 6 Years in Exile, Edward Snowden Explains Himself Wired

Real-Time Surveillance Will Test the British Tolerance for Cameras NYT

Our Famously Free Press

“Your source for original reporting and trusted news”:

Elevating original reporting in Search Google. We’ll see.

Who Will Survive in America? MS Paint Help (UserFriendly).

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. The Rev Kev

    “A teacher driving to work on September 11 spotted something in the clouds that took his breath away – the image of a firefighter walking toward an angel”

    I’m sorry. The figure on the right looks more like a Star Wars Stormtrooper with his blaster to me.

          1. wilroncanada

            Hail Mary full of grease was the phrase my father and the the other 10-year-old boys used at mass, in French, in 1916.

        1. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

          Because Elvis is still alive. Retired, and living comfortably in south-central Michigan.

    1. LaRuse

      Storm trooper, militiaman with a AR-15, whatever. The fact that a MSM source felt the need to retweet it just makes me shake my head and mutter something not appropriate for a family blog.

    2. a different chris

      I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
      From up and down, and still somehow
      It’s cloud illusions I recall
      I really don’t know clouds at all

      1. Wukchumni

        I was well into funghi one day in the High Sierra and to cap things off, the clouds were full of whimsy & among things sighted was Jimmy Hoffa, the abominable snowman, and a balanced budget.

    3. Wukchumni

      I think the perp on the right has an AR-15 (with color coordinated bump stock) and he’s shooting what appears to be a devil in a way too big angel outfit he borrowed from a Halloween store, oh the humanity!

    4. ObjectiveFunction

      There’s some hilarious photos floating around FB of great white shark heads shot from below and upside down then recoloured that look just like demonic faces laughing. #wellisntthatspecial

  2. zagonostra

    >”Naked resignation”

    No one should be surprised when young Chinese, having figured out that they’ll never live their middle-class dreams, give up on the standardized life and look for meaning elsewhere. After all, is it really necessary to kill yourself working just to buy an overpriced house? Or to get married and have kids when they’ll only bring more pressure and stress? I can’t blame anyone for feeling disillusioned or for deciding to lower their sights and try to just skate by as best they can.

    And no one should be surprised when young Americans (and some not so young) figure out they’ll never be able to liver their middle-class dreams after graduating school with crushing debt…or try’s to buy a house or meet rent where the good jobs are…I wish I could be in NY to talk to Michael Hudson, if anyone knows the history of debt and and how it functions in the evolution and devolution of society, it’s him…

    1. lordkoos

      This would be a major cultural shift – most Chinese are raised to work very hard, traditionally in Chinese culture there is a lot of shame around being poor.

    2. eg

      “I wish I could be in NY to talk to Michael Hudson, if anyone knows the history of debt and and how it functions in the evolution and devolution of society, it’s him”

      Yup — all the way back to the Bronze Age struggles between the sovereign and the rural usurers (oligarchs)

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      it’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it. – George Carlin

      1. Clive

        Or, for British (and Australian) readers, I’d say possibly even Sir Les Patterson.

        Q. What about the political scene at the moment in Australia?
        A. Well, what about it? You know, here we are in Australia and it’s a dramatic time in history, and we’re faced with a choice, really, between a farmer with lock-jaw and a dry drunk… if you’re an Australian politician, shafting your next-door neighbour comes as second nature…”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thanks for that link Clive, That brings back memories. American readers may be interested in the interviewer – the guy to the left. His name was Don Lane and he was an American from the Bronx who built himself up a career in Australia where he was nicknamed the ‘Lanky Yank’ and was very popular on the night circuit-

    1. The Rev Kev

      If only Tulsi Gabbard could get into a head on debate with Trump. She would do for him what she did to Kamala Harris. She put out a tweet (on Trump’s favourite playground) that said-

      “Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.” “

      And then followed it up with another-

      “Despicable. Offering to place our military assets under the command of a foreign country—Saudi Arabia—is a disgrace and betrayal of my patriotic brothers and sisters in uniform and to our Constitution. We are not your prostitutes. You are not our pimp.”

      1. Oregoncharles

        The trouble with that is, since the Saudis are there on the ground, finding out what they think before you act is….rare good sense, with a dash of appropriate humility. An example to other American pols.

        At least he didn’t immediately bring the temple crashing down around our heads.

  3. Livius Drusus

    Re: Who Will Survive in America?

    I think it is important to remember that most people don’t really follow politics. Even the people who do care a lot often follow politics like sports, my team vs your team, which is what I think the author was touching on. The liberal team wins with liberals and is not really trying to convert other people, which is why they seem to live in a bubble.To a certain extent the same is true of the Right.

    Both sides have adopted a “turn out the base” strategy which alienates a lot of people who are not hardcore partisans and this likely accounts for the wild fluctuations of our current politics with the two parties dropping in and out of power and much of the population unhappy with politics and losing faith in our institutions. We are still waiting for some kind of FDR or Ronald Reagan type of figure to create a new consensus.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Turn out the base.”

      Where do bases come from?

      How is one created?

      Can you transform a base, or parts of it?

  4. RabidGandhi

    The law states that employees are part of a company’s “usual course of business”, but as Your Honour will see over the course of this brief, this definition clearly does not apply to Über. As Defence Exhibit 1 we submit this 21-part series from the blog nakedcapitalism, which definitively proves beyond all doubt that Über in fact has no business per se, insofar as having a business entails having a business plan and a path to profit, which Über categorically does not….

  5. Romancing The Loan

    The writer of the excellent Who Will Survive In America is only 20 years old, filling me with hope for the future.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      It is all about the bullying, you WILL vote for this senile piece of swiss cheese, and like it, or else.

    2. nippersdad

      I have to admit that it just completely went over my head. Whoosh!

      I see a golden Trump tower and it reminds me of the time I read that he extorted his bankers for fifty thou a week to not go into bankruptcy; I see tacky, tawdry and wasteful. I see that red hat and I think stupid, malicious and thinly veiled inferiority complex; I see just the most recent variant of “kick their ass and take their gas.”

      I don’t even really have any idea who Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are, or why someone would think they got a real deal on a thousand dollar sweater when they could get one hand made from the wool of Irish sheep that ate Irish grass by an Irishman for a hundred that you could leave to your grand kids and it would still be in fashion.

      I hear “liberals were mean to me” and I think of thirty years worth of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter vilifying all of this country’s best qualities.

      I guess maybe I am just too old and out of the mainstream to get it, but I am sure glad that others do.

          1. marym

            I guess it’s more that I didn’t want to think this is the “mainstream,” rather than my not being in it.

            Beyond the immediate gratification of shredding whatever’s still left of governance, material benefits, social cohesion, and the environment to own the libs, for non-elites the Trumpian MAGA version of “Patriotism, Freedom, Tradition, and God” (i.e. white nationalism, greed, patriarchy, and authoritarianism) is at least as unlikely as Dem neoliberalism to leave them with much that would assure their survival other than as serfs. I was hoping this was becoming clearer.

      1. Paul O

        I have seen Kanye West live – twice as it happens – though not entirely by choice. The symbolism was certainly there for those that wanted to find it.

        I found the article to be rather good, personally.

        1. nippersdad

          Oh, no! I didn’t want to give the impression that it isn’t good, just that I couldn’t personally relate to it.

          For me it was like sending a cave man into a Wal-Mart. It is just a whole different world.

      2. ewmayer

        I see a golden Trump tower and it reminds me of the time I read that he extorted his bankers for fifty thou a week to not go into bankruptcy; I see tacky, tawdry and wasteful. I see that red hat and I think stupid, malicious and thinly veiled inferiority complex; I see just the most recent variant of “kick their ass and take their gas.”

        You say you can’t relate to any of that, but you pretty much just described how American domestic and foreign policy have been *run* for the past 40 years. Obama’s Wall Street bailouts were the extortion you desribe writ large, and the permawars of the post-Soviet-collapse unipolar “exceptional nation” foreign policy are the “kick their ass and take their gas.”

        And as long the Dem elitedom refuses to see that reality or its deep complicity in it, they deserve to lose to the Trumps of this world, who despite their crassness, oh-so-easily-mockable shameless hucksterism and vile buffoonery are in a fundamental way a more honest embodiment of what modern America really stands for.

    3. Wyoming

      Well it does not fill me with hope in any way. We are far too deep in the s**t for that.

      But it was a seriously well thought out article – especially for a 20 year old. There is a future writer of substance there – if there is a future to write about.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The West Wing is 20 years old. Too many Democrats still think it’s a great model for politics.”

    Certainly Obama’s staff had the idea that the White House would be just like The West Wing-

    I have wondered since that article appeared in Links once if Obama selected his staff from young people who foolishly thought that way so that he would be able to manipulate them more easily with some fancy words and would not challenge him.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I doubt Obama quizzed them on the greatest accomplishments of Jeb Bartlett, but yeah, Obama definitely wanted brown nosers and NO WOMEN. And they didn’t need much manipulation.

      I think Obama preferred simply to surround himself with the dullest people he could find to avoid ever having to face a conversation where his world view might be challenged through mere polite conversation.

      1. Another Scott

        Of course, Bartlett did beat the banking lobby in season 1, something which Obama never dared do. The policies of the fictional administration were weird, with more progressive accomplishments happen off-screen and mentioned as easy, while centrists ones were difficult and faced opposition.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I really don’t think obama’s “world view” extended too far beyond setting himself up to snag a $15 million seaside estate where he could display his nobel “peace” prize like he just did.

      3. Carolinian

        The article goes out of its way to point out that Bartlet has one ‘t’ (like we care).

        Sorkin has always been the poet laureate of the ten percent and even wrote a movie where he tried to make Zuckerberg somewhat relatable (and pretend that Larry Summers is a cool guy). Sorkin seems to think the world would be solved if only smart people were in charge and therefore it’s not surprising that his ideal fictional president is a former college professor. Meanwhile in the real world we tried that with Woody Wilson and it played a big part in the disasters of the 20th century.

        So it turns out that smart people can also be tremendously myopic and superficial and Sorkin’s love of wonkishness may be more a (sometimes) entertaining narrative than a portrayal of reality. That they are now using this narrative to try to save Biden says it all.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Sorkin’s perception of “smart people” which is amounts to Republicans who don’t pretend to like country pop and spend most of their time declaring how serious they are with the occasional historical anecdote which may or may not be relevant if its not apocryphal.

    2. John Beech

      This recently registered Democrat voter in Central Florida still likes WW and the entire story arc. As for comments regarding a lack of ‘strong women’, what the heck do you call characters like Joey Lucas, Abbey, CJ, Mandy, and Ainsley Hayes? How are they anything but strong women?

      1. Plenue

        The portrayal of women in The West Wing is abysmal. It gets better as the show goes on, but ‘smart white guy walks-and-talks exposition to idiot clueless female’ never leaves the DNA of the show. Few of them are actually strong women characters, they’re just well acted and often given impressive staff positions. But they’re mostly written as unprofessional idiots who would never in the real-world ever get anywhere near those positions because they’re far too vapid and frivolous.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Beg to differ. CJ was neither unprofessional nor an idiot. She gave as good as she got and she always knew her shit. Actual presidents could do a lot worse than her for a press secretary, and most of them have.

          Then there was Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner. Her voice and manner were annoying as hell, but clueless, unprofessional and idiotic she was not.

          If you’re looking for vapid and frivolous, I vote for Josh. Knowledgeable, competent but awfully high maintenance and only marginally worth the effort.

          1. Plenue

            I would suggest people defending the show go listen to The West Wing Thing podcast, where they exhaustively go through the show episode by episode. CJ is not a good character. She gets less awful as the show goes on, but especially in the first season she is an idiot plot device that men explain things to.

            And yes, Josh is a terrible person, but the thing is the show and Sorkin don’t realize he’s terrible.

  7. Summer

    RE: Uber’s baffling claim that its drivers aren’t core to its business, explained Vox
    “Uber was not, precisely speaking, in the business of providing rides, any more than a broker is in the business of providing property,” wrote the arbitrator in his ruling. “It provided, instead, only exposure (albeit, very effective exposure) to the possibility that a rider will find a driver willing to provide a ride, and a driver will find a rider willing to be driven. The distinction is material.”

    That’s a bunch of BS but even if they roll with that Uber should accept the label given: “digital hitchhiking.”
    And don’t some places have ordinances and laws about hitchhiking?

    1. Crestwing

      A pimp only provides the opportunity for a john and a prostitute to exchange cash and services. He is not in the business of prostitution.

      1. ambrit

        Aiding and abetting will get you five to ten bud.
        Still and all, until the head honchos of the company do time in a real prison, I’ll consider the grift to be successful.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      “……..More importantly, I think it gives them [uber] leverage to reopen legislation negotiations with California politicians.”

      I’d imagine those “legislation negotiations” would involve something like free ubers for you, your extended family and ten of your closest friends for life.

  8. Jason Boxman

    I don’t know much about IPOs, since I don’t play that game, but did the initial investors and founders all win when the IPO took place; Is the smart money essential out of Uber stock now?

    1. Tom Stone

      Sofbank and the other big investors in Uber can’t bail all at once without crashing the stock.
      Right now they are holding and hoping, the equivalent of drawing to an inside straight.

  9. Ignacio

    RE: New route to carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide discovered

    Interesting but yet far away from practical use. The article identifies as the next step the reduction of the very reactive CO molecules to incorporate hydrogen. It fails to acknowledge that besides, the carbohydrates must form larger energy-rich carbohydrate molecules like those present in kerosenes or diesel. So, the CO molecule has to be reduced and simultaneously fixed into larger molecules and I think this is still a tall order.

    1. Steve H.

      Also it’s a high-energy process. Carbon-neutral doesn’t mean it’s not dumping heat into the system. I find the article disingenuous.

      1. RMO

        I was interested by the article touting it’s use in making fuel for ships… if only there were a way to power ships directly with windpower! Oh, wait… they were propelled by wind for centuries. Admittedly going back to sail for freight ships would mean needing to give up on all the trans-oceanic just-in-time logistical chains but I don’t think that sort of structure can continue to be used in any world where we manage to avoid catastrophic climate change anyways as it’s extremely energy intensive.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Clipper ships were pretty fast – granted they were marine greyhounds, for small, high value cargos (tea, especially).

  10. Tom Stone

    The discussion of the Brady motion by Flynn’s Attorney is well worth your time.
    The overt involvement of the FBI and other intelligence agencies in the 2016 election is frightening and between Sidney Powell’s motion and the continuing FOIA suits by Judicial Watch it looks like the details will be public by January 2020.
    How many are aware that the FBI had access to all of HRC’s emails from two sources, the backup held at Platte River Network ( A company not cleared for Top Secret/SCI information) and on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the convicted sex offender and Huma Abedin’s husband?
    It appears that these agencies were doing all they could to sabotage Trump before and after the election while simultaneously trying to protect HRC.

    No matter how much you despise (With good reason) Trump, this is clearly way over the line and it begs the question of how involved these agencies are in the 2020 election.

    It begs the question of how involved these agencies are in the current Presidential contest.

    1. nippersdad

      I saw yesterday that former Obama officials are lining up to be character witnesses for McCabe, and that the Horowitz report was finished three days ago.

      There is a confluence of currents in this narrative that should be coming out at about the same time which does not bode well for either the Democratic Party or its’ apparatchiks in the media and intelligence/justice departments.

      It looks like Trump is about to get a really nice Christmas present.

    2. anon in so cal

      Do establishment Democratic voters read any of this, though?

      If they only get their “news” from MSNBC and the print equivalents, will they be oblivious?

      If they did somehow learn about these revelations, would they dismiss them?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Establishment Democrats are advocates of the status quo. And most aren’t even Democrats. They were recruited as self funders because they fussed over pot holes once upon a time and had no real stances on issues in the past or at least stances that might have skewed center left. The current Democratic governor of Virginia when he was in black face was a George W. Bush donor.

        Besides not having values, this is a party of people who aren’t there to even act like they are governing. That isn’t what they signed up for.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Under 30% of voters will admit to being Democrats (26% Republican), so “establishment Dems”, a subset, must be even less. Might make sense to write them off – EXCEPT in the nomination process.

        Again, this is the problem with letting these two rump parties control our electoral process. This is a BIG reason we don’ really have a democracy (Gilens & Page).

  11. Samuel Conner

    re: the item on carbon-neutral fuels:

    As written, this is presented as a lower-cost route to carbon capture and sequestration. As I understand it, the typical application for this is CCS at point of emission at fossil-carbon burning power plants, especially coal-burning plants. But it seems unlikely that the energy required to convert the CO2 back to a carbon-based fuel could be dramatically less than the energy obtained by burning the carbon in the first place. Is this simply a cheaper way of converting coal to liquid fuels?

    Maybe my imagination is too weak; assistance requested.

    1. Ignacio

      The point is to use renewable energy, particularly solar, to transform CO2 on fuel or chemicals. As for your last sentence converting coal into liquid fuels is not carbon neutral while this process would be carbon neutral because the source is atmospheric CO2, not ancient fixed carbon. How much renewable energy would this demand is yet to know. Anycase, this is yet far from practical use for fuels and the researchers are suggesting the procedure to be used first for high value added products indicating cost and scaling problems.

  12. Fritzi

    Always with these stupid, useless party trick miracles.

    And still no healed amputees.

    But good to know that God (or Nyarlathotep?) loves Yanks so much more than anybody else.

    Maltheism (or at least Dystheism) is the only religion to truely make sense, if there is a God, it is laughing as it watches us slaughter each other and make our planet inhospitable, at least when it isn’t too occupied with ripping off the wings of some unfortunate flies.

    1. diptherio

      The real miracle is the brain’s ability to find patterns in literally everything…which reminds me of something Rev. Stang of the Church of the Subgenius once said (approximately): that so many get so much out of such utter nonsense is proof that miracles exist!

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Randy Newman’s “God’s Song: That’s Why I Love Mankind”

      I recoil in horror from the foulness of thee
      From the squalor and the filth and the misery
      How we laugh up here in heaven at the prayers you offer me
      That’s why I love mankind

  13. dearieme

    Thank you for arranging the Brexit links straight after the Syraqistan links.

    Clearly you are suggesting that the UK launch a drone assault on the Brussels buildings of the EU. I welcome this constructive proposal. Cutting the Gordian Knot, eh?

      1. ambrit

        That’s what the ‘missing’ Skripals are doing! Such genius! Someone planned way ahead for this program.Deniability with a supernatural element.
        Wooooo. Wooooo. Ghosties did it!

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Real-Time Surveillance Will Test the British Tolerance for Cameras”

    The possibilities of this technology are intriguing. Can you imagine how, during the next Occupy Wall Street protests, that these things could scan a whole crowd and then punch out a full list of all the names of the protesters present, their addresses and their social security numbers?

    1. Olga

      Unless they are disguised, of course. When reading about surveillance and face recognition, I always remind myself to invest in a few of those masks that fancy folk wear to masquerade balls. You know, like the balls in Venice. They come in all sizes – full face, half face, eyes only. The eyes-only ones could come in handy at an airport – if anyone objects, you could say it is a new kind of prescription eye-wear.

      1. pretzelattack

        or just one of those cheap half face masks that supposedly protects workers against pollution, to some extent. i have my doubts about how well they work, but they might defeat facial recognition software.

        1. newcatty

          Use, reuse, recycle, multi-purpose…

          I am just trying to, some extent, to protect my health. Unfortunately, air pollution is a problem in our city.

  15. Camp Lo

    There are alleged images floating out there showing wreckage of a cruise missile shot down near the Abqaiq processing plant. An intact tail assembly is visible. Hard to corroborate, fine. However, the satellite photos of Abqaiq show nothing but direct hits to infrastructure [no Poisson distribution, a tell-tale of indirect fire]. The north, northeast, and even west sides of processing apparatuses are blackened. The list of actors that can coordinate a long-range strike, from multiple locations at multiple targets, by evading a missile defense network is slim. Cross-reference that list with the list of actors who wouldn’t mind removing 5 million barrels of oil a day from the global supply, barrels that would be going to three principal economies: China, Japan, and South Korea. One finds a sole sanctioned regional power trying to maintain control selling a mere 150k barrels a day, and not much else to lose.

    The most unnerving element is that a pariah state struck at the literal heart of the global economy, its energy pump. The strike was a complete success and the world’s markets absorb the blow with a shrug. The world is so much more networked than during the tanker wars of the 80’s. The threat of economic chaos does not seem to be deterring further escalation. The Islamic revolution’s middle management must be starting to doubt Tehran’s leadership to instigate such an overt lashing out.

    1. Bill Smith

      Not much of a air defense system in that areas that were attacked. Particularly for use against what is believed to have been used here. Patriot PAC-2 and Hawks. Some of the Patiourts are busy getting converted to PAC-3’s of one sort or another. The Hawks were too far away. Neither was likely looking in the right direction.

      They likely need networked short range air defense systems (SHORAD) around the oil facilities and they don’t have them.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Thread jumping to answer Camp Lo. Procrustean arguments to fasten blame on the BDJ (BoogieMan Du Jour) Iran won’t cut it here mate. Houthis have been paying close attention to drones since at least 2004, when the first ones dropped on their heads. Since then, very determined smuggling efforts plus simple off-the-shelf components plus imported know-how could easily result in a succesful 20-drone swarm. Nice try on insisting it was the mullahs, though. Real question that should be asked is why the unbelievable American firepower and technology parked just 50kms away in Bahrain knew/could do nothing. Suggest a certain female Senator from Massachusetts (last name Warren) needs to explain where all the taxpayer billions purloined for her patron Raytheon over the years have disappeared to.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        One would think that erecting a series of net fences, like you’d find around a golf driving range, could provide pretty good low cost security against all sizes of drones and cruise missiles. At minimum such barriers would force them to gain altitude on their final run, making them easier to spot and shoot with higher tech ADA. Anyone else have a view on that?

    2. Carolinian

      Iran’s response to Trump has been to say “if we can’t export oil then nobody in our region will be safe to do so.” If they are directly or indirectly responsible for this latest attack then looks like they mean it. Meanwhile they preserve deniability which discourages a response as a direct attack on Iran will bring far greater damage to Saudi Arabia, US bases, etc.

      And their strategy–give us “economic chaos” and we will do the same to you–makes sense. The real people at the bottom of this mess include Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Bibi and the terrible SC two, Graham and Haley (who reportedly advised Trump to drop the Obama agreement).

      1. Olga

        Considering that all this comes right after the firing of Stache and the possibility of negotiations, questions must be asked. Such as, “cui bono?”
        Why Would Iran Attack the Saudis NOW? Washington’s Blog poses good questions, kinda reminding me of “Assad bombed his people just as his army was beginning to win!” Yeah, makes a lot of sense.

      2. neo-realist

        The terrible three, Graham, Haley and Adelson, who advised Trump to drop the Obama agreement; and Adelson an advocate of dropping nukes on Iran.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think there was a question yesterday asking why there hadn’t been more drone attacks like the one last weekend.

      One possible reason for that could be that their decisions (to not launch those more often) came from militarily capable governments that also had vulnerable oil-production targets, such that, if this hard-to-defend tactic had become the norm, they would have suffered as well.

      And whoever did this might have opened Pandora’s Box.

      1. John k

        War on climate change will be fought on many fronts.
        Fear of pandora would logically include Iran. And the us, worlds greatest producer. Think Houston.
        But not the houthis.
        Or green peace. Indeed, they would want the box wide open, and happily welcome competition.

    4. Oregoncharles

      According to the pictures MoA showed, all the holes were on the SW side – the direction of Yemen, not Iraq. So did they do a 180 before striking?

      And SA is already bombing Yemen,. so the Houthis have no reason to hold back

      1. Plenue

        Missiles can maneuver. That’s why they’re missiles, and not rockets. I don’t think the direction of the damage proves much of anything.

        1. Paul O

          Also, I would recommend ‘Culture and Imperialism’. Of the two I preferred the later one.

          I revisited both this year as they have recently been released as Audio Books – and very nicely spoken, to my ears.

          (Inspired by these I found an old print copy of ‘Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World’. I believe it will be highly relevant to the moment but it may a good while until I get time to read it).

          He makes you stop and think like few others.

    1. Plenue

      So, another Vietnam then? McNamara admitted he didn’t understand what motivated the North Vietnamese until after the war when he actually talked to one. It blew his mind that they weren’t servants of the Chinese.

      But at least there they had the excuse of operating in a US government that had been purged post-WW2 of many people who knew what the hell they were talking about in the Red Scare (this doesn’t excuse them not bothering to contract some genuine regional experts, or to just bother going into a library). What’s the excuse now though?

  16. Carolinian

    Thanks for Escobar on Hong Kong–clearly a man who knows his Wong Kar-Wai. He suggests the protests are a hard to nail down conglomeration of “fifth columnists” (his phrase), anti-communist ’49 refugees and their children, an economically oppressed underclass and perhaps a fair number of rich kids on an adventure (they were singing a song from Les Miz at the airport occupation). One has to wonder whether the goals of the economically oppressed are directly at odds with those of the anti-communist tycoons and guess that the views of the latter will come to the fore if the rightwingers in our Congress get involved (as advocated by The Atlantic). Some of us flyover USians worry about yet another intervention.

    Just to repeat an already asked question–how does this end?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Either it dies out for a variety of reasons (maybe Beijing will deal) or goes like Hungary at which point no one will really care. Ultimately, Hong Kong is just a city that doesn’t feed itself. There won’t be any Berlin 2.0 nonsense. The Lindsey Grahams might huff and puff, but the U.S. has a talent for kicking the defenseless and weak. Hong Kong doesn’t even offer a proper extraction economy.

      My guess is the HK protestors are too pro-HK for it to catch on in the rest of China.

      1. Olga

        Pepe Escobar, as usual, does not disappoint.
        There are too many incongruities in this whole HK protest scene. For one, this so-called HK identity was built in what was a British colony – with all that that means (kinda like the the Indian elites who identified with the British colonisers to elevate their own position). Therefore, for China proper to accept and act as if HK were special – and/or better than the rest – would be to accept that colonisation was appropriate. Ain’t gonna happen – and should not.
        There was no democracy under the British – so not quite clear what the protesters mean by clamouring for democracy. What democracy? (Ok, there was some semblance of “free speech,” but that was mainly because the British did not have to fear that some fifth column would undermine their rule.)
        Once the areas around HK develop – and take over – HK will lose its economic importance. What will the young ones do then? Insisting on a different set of rules for themselves is a road to nowhere – a cul de sac.
        And as PE explains, the underlying (yet main) issues in the protests are economic. But waving British flags and burning down infrastructure isn’t going to solve any of them. The Chinese govt could attempt to moderate HK’s cut-throat (and entrenched) capitalism and oligarchic rule – but the protesters scream against the mainland. There are no constructive solutions – so It’s hard to see the protesters as anything but nihilistic, even if much of the angst may be considered legitimate. And it is also hard not to notice how convenient these protests are as a way to poke the dragon’s eye.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There are autonomous regions in many countries, including China and Russia.

          They, including HK, are all special for one reason or another.

        2. Oregoncharles

          They’re asking for the rights that China promised in its agreement with Britain. Maybe they should ask the Native Americans about that. Nonetheless, they do have reason to expect a special status until, IIRC, 2050.

          Furthermore, their special status is crucial to their usefulness to China. I assume that’s why Beijing has held off.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The refugees from ’49 were not all anti-communist tycoons.

      Bruce Lee’s teacher, Yip Man (and there have been many recent movies about him), was one such refugee.

      How does this end?

      One possible scenario is for Taiwan, whose civil war with Beijing is still ongoing, and which claims sovereignty over China (Taibei’s version includes Mongolia), to ’embrace’ Hong Kong (similar to the one or more atolls in South China Seas, under the jurisdiction of the municiple government of Kaohsiung,Taiwan, and the fortress islands of Kinman, and Matsu.)

      Taibei can send over officials and tanks, to Hong Kong, and I think, though am not 100% sure, the US is obliged to defend it.

      1. Olga

        This “possible” scenario would end either by China taking over Taiwan once and for all, or a WWIII.
        Not much of a scenario…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some one would have to use force first, in that (choosing Taibei over Beijing peacefully) scenario, who would on the defensive.

  17. JohnnyGL

    I’ve got my issues with TYT (heavy on the marketing, donation solicitations, laid off reporters, Russia-gate nonsense).

    However, they deserve a TON of credit for hiring/sending Jonathan Larsen to South Bend to investigate Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s record.

    He’s got another blockbuster of a story which unveils the stench of racist corruption in the police force, operating behind the scenes to push the mayor in the direction they wanted.

    It’s important not to overstate, they themselves point out that they’ve got ‘correlation, not causation’ in this story. However, it’s still a damning fact set.

    No one has done more to bury Buttigieg than TYT’s Larsen. Tip of the hat to them for their good work!

  18. Duck1

    So the story is that a pariah state struck at the literal heart of the global economy, which ironically is located in a pariah state. Meanwhile the only “democratic” pariah state in the ME prepares for elections, with its pariah PM hoping to avoid prison. Said PM is effusively lauded when visiting the pariah imperium by the pariah congess members and the periodically elected monarch. Pariah all the way down, I guess.

      1. tegnost

        hey, who needs facts when creatively worded implications spark the imagination? As for myself I was picturing the texas flag on the drone tail (don’t watch the tee vee, so…god just puts these images in my brain and allows me to see them /s. The most unnerving aspect is that texas struck at the heart of the global eCONomy. That’s audacity…

  19. Carolinian

    Good links today. Re Stoller and Google–one wonders whether this new interest in antitrust is less about Google distorting markets and more about the company’s decision to embark on political censorship in the name of “safe speech.” The right wing is very much up in arms about this and most of those state Attorney Generals are Republicans.

    1. John k

      Most governors are reps. It is nevertheless newsworthy when virtually all states go after a powerful monopoly, activity that should have long since been done by doj.
      The fact that Ca has not joined is witness to their one party rule being captured by donors than anything to do with the suits validity. And

    2. KFritz

      Google/Alphabet is a horror show. But, if for even a nanosecond anyone believes that any Republican would pursue Fox if it were in a similar position of influence and power to Google–I have several oceanfront properties in Arizona that you absolutely need to buy yesterday. As odious as Alphabet is, it would be a good tactical strategy for the Dems to let it be until such time as the Republicans have less power.

  20. barrisj

    I see a link to one of Larry Johnson’s commentaries posted on his newest vehicle, SST, where “the Colonel” has been giving Johnson a wide latitude to go deep on – yes, the “Deep State”. At one time Johnson was given short shrift here at NC, but he’s not just a conspiracy-theorist paranoic, and some revisionist reappraisals of the man’s recent body of work is in order, IMHO.

  21. Foy

    “Who will survive in America”

    I remember back in 2015 when Scott Adams started explaining why Trump was going to win due to the emotional ‘persusasion’ techniques that he uses, that you don’t persuade with reason, perusasion is done with emotion. From the article:

    “American Conservatism may not be the most coherent political ideology in the world, but at least it’s selling ideas: Patriotism, Freedom, Tradition, and God”.

    “I have the attention span of a schizophrenic toddler, and I watched the whole thing. It was riveting!” (this was in relation to the Sinclair psyop fearmongering documentary on homelessness)

    “…they lost to a hat'”

    I think Adams would be reading this article and laughing his head off and saying ‘exhibit A’.

    I was also thinking good luck on trying to explain MMT to the writer! Unless you can sum it up in one word or a four word phrase that fits on a red hat you wont succeed.

    1. Plenue

      “Unless you can sum it up in one word or a four word phrase that fits on a red hat you wont succeed.”

      Government makes the money.

      1. Foy

        Excellent Plenue!

        I actually suggested a few phrases like that a number of years ago to Bill Mitchell of MMT fame when he asked how they should get the MMT message across to the public, although some were a little longer than 4 words. Just really simple concepts, as thats what the neoliberals with their ideas had done. I liked Mitchell’s work but it was way too detailed and heavy for lay people to come to grips with, and that they needed a different approach to get the message across.

        I said they should put the MMT phrases/concepts on a business card sized card and hand them out every time they have a function/event and see which resonate over time. They need to coalesce the MMT idea around a couple of simple thoughts for it to get more traction I think.

  22. cripes

    Did anyone notice Mr Trumps response in press conference to repeated questioning aimed at committing him to blaming/attacking Iran for the recent drone attacks?
    He repeatedly said he would not take any action until
    “We…find out definitively who did it.”
    Presumably, instead of going off half-cocked on a bombing campaign without a shred of evidence. Like Pompeo.

    This cretin with a 7th grade reading level looks like a statesman next to the gang of war criminals from the Bush II and Obama regimes. Incredible.

    Aaaand, how hard could it be with ubiquitous planetary airspace surveillance, ala Five Eyes, to play back the attack videotape to it’s origin like a common gas station robbery?

    “As you know there are ways to see definitively where they came from and we have all of those ways. And that is being checked out right now.”….

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we clarify, Mr. President, so you said that you think that Iran is responsible for the attack. Do you think that —

    TRUMP: I didn’t say that. Why do you say that? I said that we think we know who it was. But I didn’t say anybody. But certainly it would look to most like it was Iran but I did not say it the way you said. Go ahead.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the options, Mr. President, what are the options of nonmilitary —

    TRUMP: Well, we have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this and we’re dealing with Saudi Arabia, we’re dealing the Crown Prince and so many other of your neighbors and we’re all talking about it together. We’ll see what happens.

    1. Yves Smith

      The money market liquidity seize up isn’t a function of credit risk, so this is not like 2007. But this reflects really poorly on the Fed, that its vaunted new approaches (reverse repo program, paying interest on reserves) didn’t prevent this spike, which is the sort of thing you never saw in the old regime absent credit stress. The immediate causes seem to be less overall liquidity due to the Fed shrinking its balance sheet + big coincident cash demands (corp tax payment date + Treasury bond sale).

  23. Jake

    Hey, author of “Who Will Survive in America” here—I managed to track down the huge jump in traffic our blog got today to here, and I just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing my piece! Really glad you enjoyed it and that people in the comments seemed to have as well. I hadn’t heard of Naked Capitalism until now, but I’m glad I found myself here. Looks like a lot of interesting stuff to read up on; I’m really looking forward to checking it out in depth. Thanks again! Hope to have more for you guys soon.

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