Links 9/21/19

Spotted in Kenya: A Baby Zebra With Polka Dots Smithsonian (Dr. Kevin)

Where The Wild Things Were is Where Humans Are Now Journal of Human Ecology, available for free here or here (Lawrence R)

Facial Reconstruction Shows What The Enigmatic Denisovans Might Have Looked Like Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Death and the Labyrinth MS PAINT HELP

Choking and gasping in Indonesia’s noxious haze Asia Times (resilc)

‘Massive Reduction’: US, Canada Have Lost 3 Billion Birds Since 1970, Study Finds Sputnik (Kevin W)

The Crisis for Birds Is a Crisis for Us All New York Times. Resilc: “Big falloff in my Vermont pasture.” Moi: Now that I think of it, fewer crows in Maine in the last two years…and they are omnivores and even eat carrion.

Hurricane season: Humberto, Jerry, Kiko set record for most storms USA Today (resilc)

Your Navigation App Is Making Traffic Unmanageable SpectrumIEEE (David L)

Why Prescription Drugs Cost So Much More in America Financial Times. Reminder: Try Googling the headline.

Walmart Will Stop Selling E-cigarettes CNN


Trump ends US China trade war; swaps Hong Kong for California in unprecedented deal! GeniusUSTimes (furzy)

China Scraps U.S. Farm Tour, Stoking Pessimism on Trade Deal Bloomberg

Trade War Farm Bailout Big Picture (resilc)

Russia seizes North Koreans after firefight Asia Times

PROGRESSIVE REGRESSION; Metamorphoses of European Social Policy Wolfgang Streeck, New Left Review. (Anthony L). I’ve only started it, but this is a terrific piece. Full of observations like “In practice this means that in public debate, anybody can imagine ‘Europe’ to be whatever he or she likes.”


UK Brexit plans fail all basic backstop tests, warns EU Financial Times:

“Things are going backwards,” said one senior EU diplomat. Another official described the state of talks as “horrible”.

Raising the White Flag: Banksy’s “Brexit” Mural Gets Painted Over and Proves Its Poin t Juxtapoz Magazine (resilc)

‘Do I throw it over him?’: Priest hands Irish PM heading to meet BoJo bottle of HOLY WATER ‘for protection’ RT (Kevin W)


On Iran, Trump Is All Talk, and Thank God for That Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone (resilc). “… he has tiptoed away from full-scale invasion scenarios in Syria, Venezuela and other arenas that might have tempted other presidents. Nobody really knows why.” I was struck during the campaign how Trump seemed to have a strong visceral response to images of bombed-out Middle Eastern cities. It was a departure from his blather. My take was as a real estate guy, he knew how much work these homes and offices represented, and how easy demolition is and how hard it is to rebuild, and that this registered with him in a way that accounts of personal suffering didn’t. Or it may simply be that too many people are trying too hard to muscle him, and he senses their over-eagerness.

Saudi Arabia oil attacks: US to send troops to Saudi Arabia BBC

Barely 1 in 5 Americans view Saudi Arabia as a US ally — as Trump weighs military action against Iran over attacks on Saudi oil facilities Business Insider. Resilc: “Nobody cares what we think, it’s a cash flow expo in DC.”

Yemen’s Houthis Announce Halt on Attacks Against Saudis, Expect Reciprocal Steps From Riyadh Sputnik (Kevin W)

New Study Documents Depleted Uranium Impacts on Children in Iraq David Swanson

Satirical ‘Onion’ Headline About Saudi Oil Now Just A Regular News Report Caitlin Johnstone

US drone strike intended for Isis hideout kills 30 pine nut workers in Afghanistan Guardian. and How Many Future Terrorists Did We Create Yesterday? Esquire (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Edward Snowden Wants To Come Home: ‘I’m Not Asking For a Pass. What I’m Asking For is a Fair Trial’ CBS

Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps Following Data Investigation Washington Post. Sounds like shutting the barn door after the horse is in the next county.

Your smart devices listening to you, explained Recode. What corporate flack placed this piece?

Trump Transition

Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine President to Investigate Biden’s Son Wall Street Journal. Alternate report: Trump’s reported urging Ukraine on Biden probe ‘a staggering abuse of power’ DW

Whistleblower complaint based on multiple incidents; watchdog won’t disclose info The Hill

Trump: I Cannot Be Criminally Investigated While In Office Jonathan Turley

California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule The Hill

House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November The Hill

The West Has a Resentment Epidemic Foreign Policy

Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry Counterpunch


Elizabeth Warren Is Betting Young People Hate Corruption More Than Capitalism Vice (UserFriendly)

UserFriendly: “Does she not have advisers telling her this was stupid?”

Gavin Newsom tells CalPERS, CalSTRS to favor green investments in climate change order Sacramento Bee

Investors and Bond-Rating Analysts Are Working to Quantify Risks from Climate Change Urban Land (Kevin W)

Natural Gas Could Be Replaced Within 15 Years OilPrice

Google Is Investing $3.3 Billion To Build Clean Data Centers In Europe Techcrunch

Crash Course: How Boeing’s managerial revolution created the 737 MAX disaster New Republic. By Moe Tkacik!

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership University of North Carolina Press (Kevin C)

NY Fed examines banks’ role in money market turmoil Financial Times. Short version: excess reserves concentrated at big banks (like JPM, Citi, BofA). Fed assumed they would lend it out when other banks. They didn’t:

A person at one US bank said that while it been “net lenders into the market” this week, they “have to make economic decisions for the company”. That means that the cost and return of deploying cash in the repo market is assessed relative to the cost and return of using funds for other things, like investing in currencies overnight.

So a reader yesterday was on the right track in wondering about the distribution of reserves but looking at the wrong actors. He thought the big banks might be short on reserves when it was the reverse: they were holding them back! And Nathan Tankus below explains why:

Class Warfare

Uber Sues New York City Over ‘Cruising Cap’ Rule Reuters. Haven’t read it but this claim sounds weak.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “For some reason, this little butterfly reminds me of someone licking their fingers after a tasty finger-food snack.”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Bugs Bunny

    Re: Walmart Will Stop Selling E-cigarettes

    Does anyone else sense that something deeper is going on with the media panic around a product that has helped millions quit smoking tobacco?

    I guess I’m a cynic, but despair has a way of bringing that on.

    1. dearieme

      I suspect that an alliance has formed between the people who profit from ciggies and the people who enjoy nothing better than ordering other people around (for their own good, natch).

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        So why would Altria undercut it’s own business? Especially when they are signing up so many young people? It must just be the other cigarette companies but not Phillip Morris, right?

        1. petal

          I went to a Grand Rounds (medical research talk) about vaping, gosh, a year or two ago, and they found it’s a scam to introduce young people to smoking, like a gateway type of thing, now that traditional ciggies have such a bad rep. There’s a reason the tobacco companies dove into it. Lots of research going on now about the marketing, and the health issues. Also makes things difficult when it is hard to find out what’s actually in the stuff. Research takes time. It’s not a drive-thru. I will keep an eye open for any new research or talks at my institution.

              1. Monty

                It’s written by the fellow who was the UK “Drug Tzar” at the time.

                “Vaping is safer than smoking and could lead to the demise of the traditional cigarette, Public Health England (PHE) has said in the first official recognition that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco.

                The health body concluded that, on “the best estimate so far”, e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.”

              2. paul

                That is an opinion piece. Written three years ago.

                Which sums up everything you have to offer, except you transcribed wrote it today

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  Your comment is utterly out of line. Nasty, personal attack and zero value added. One more like that and you won’t be welcome here any more.

    2. Krystyn Walentka

      “helped millions quit smoking tobacco”…? First, I challange that number, Second: So what, they are even more addicted to nicotine. I did the math with a friend who used to smoke cigarettes and found they could not quit vaping and it was costing them so much more. They nearly TRIPLED the amount of nicotine they were exposing themselves to!

      So they invented a better way to keep the addict alive for longer.

      And now they have the kids, again….

      1. Monty

        Nicotine doesn’t kill you though. It’s the tar and all the other poisons released in the smoke that does you in. Should we ban caffeine too?

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          Nicotoine affects human health and immunity all on its own.

          Nicotine promotes atherosclerosis development in apolipoprotein E‐deficient mice through α1‐nAChR

          Aiding and Abetting the Enemy: Nicotine Impairs the Macrophage Defense against Mtb

          It is a drug that stimulates acetylcholine receptors…why would anyone think it does nothing? I will guarantee that they will find that these kids might have had some genetic susceptibility to high amounts of nicotine that screwed up lung immunity. It is possible that the focus on “additives” is to distract from the possible harms of nicotine.

          And the caffeine thing is a false equivalence.

          And lets talk about the dopamine flood nicotine causes. Don’t you think that might set up people for future addiction?

          1. UserFriendly

            Caffeine, a stimulant just like nicotine, antagonizes adenosine receptors…. why would anyone think it does nothing?

            Caffeine also has health side effects so really it is a rather good comparison. Ask any doctor the negative health effects from smoke are several orders of magnitude worse than just vaping nicotine (assuming you don’t get contaminated liquid).

            1. pricklyone

              Not only that, but it is a comparison explored over many decades.
              Because it is a pretty good one…
              Only thing safe to breathe is air..only thing safe to drink is pure water…
              I guess I’m gonna have to become a Breatharian…sounds like a safe way to commit suicide.

          2. Monty

            I read that most (probably all) of the cases are from vaping THC anyway. The theory is that some supplier put a nasty chemical in some THC vape juice and it has made a lot of people ill.

            It just goes to show how much the medical industrial complex and states hate vaping. They aren’t going after legal weed, but are focusing on unrelated fruit flavor juice! Smokers are a huge profit center for the the medical industry, and states make a lot from them too through tax and “big tobacco” settlement payments. My understanding is that vaping has cut into that sweet income stream bigly.

        2. efmo

          What about all the child workers who do a lot of harvesting of tobacco plants? Nicotine doesn’t sound so benign to me unless it’s the other parts of the tobacco plant doing the poisoning. Spoken as an ex-smoker with a son who is transitioning back to smoking for his nicotine fix from vaping (at least for the time being.) Granted, maybe pure nicotine is a slower poison than when combined with all the additives. But still, I told my son to never think the vaping companies give a rat’s patootie about whether their product is safe to use or more safe to use than cigarettes, etc.

          1. Monty

            Tobacco is grown in the good old USA. They haven’t used child labor since ‘the good old days’ when they bought their workers in on ships.

      2. Baby Gerald

        Challange [sic] the number all you want. Smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and a host of other lung issues that vaping hasn’t been proven to cause [at least yet]. Plus, it removes the shaming mechanism that so many people adjacent to smokers relied on for so long to project their virtues onto the world at large. That your anecdotal friend couldn’t quit or found themselves spending more on vaping products is irrelevant to the argument. I have three friends who quit smoking and switched to vaping and they absolutely love what it’s done to reduce the tobacco dust from their environment, the yellow stains from their fingers, and the shame of having to walk fifty feet from their office entrance to consume.

        And since you are all looking out for the welfare of so-called ‘addicts’, how about we treat caffeine the same way? Oh, but society in general is cool with that addiction even though it may or may not cause a host of health issues depending on whichever medical study you want to pick from. How about chocolate? Studies have proven that it, too, has addictive qualities that some people are proven unable to control. Lose the virtue signaling against addicts and what argument are you left with?

        1. Krystyn Walentka

          “vaping hasn’t been proven to cause [at least yet]”…that is my point. Why are people so quick to believe that vaping causes less harm than tobacco when it has no even been in any long term studies? When there is zero regulation? Whne it is made by the same porift hungry corporations you all usually deride? (Hint: this is how addiction changes peoples behavior.)

          If your friends switched to vaping they did not quit smoking and there is no proof that it will improve health outcomes. See my response above and see

          “Electronic cigarettes can hardly be considered harmless.”

          Comparing coffee and chocolate to VAPING is absolutely silly.

          1. UserFriendly

            Because we know what is in cigarette smoke. PM2.5 and all this, and we know what is in vaping (when not contaminated) Nicotine, propylene glycol, and sometimes vegetable glycerin. You’re gonna tell me you aren’t sure which is safer?

            1. mnm

              Everyone keeps saying how safe propylene glycol is and that it’s in asthma inhalers, but I don’t heat up my albuterol and then take a couple puffs.
              E-cig ingredients:
              I wonder now that they recognize the symptoms if they will use EMRs to go back and look for other cases, bet this didn’t start just now with contaminated marijuana, sold by some weird guy out of his trunk in a dark alley.
              Look vape away but don’t kid yourself that the bought off FDA & big vape care about product safety. EMRs about to get updated with a vape questionnaire.

              1. pricklyone

                K, I’m not sure who you think “big vape” is?
                Too many different things are conflated in these arguments, and the interest groups not “Big Vape”, but Pharma and Tobacco, pretty much on opposite sides.
                Pharma wants you to buy nicotine patches, gum, spray, lozenges,etc. in your quest to quit smoking. FDA and AMA toe this line.
                Tobacco would like you to smoke, full stop.
                Pharma hates vaping, and would like to ban outright, Tobacco is using it as their diversification strategy, and want 100% of the market and get the Chinese market shut down.
                Read all these stories with this in mind, and throw in the “concerned mothers” and you will start to see it for the complete clusterf*** it really is!

          2. JTMcPhee

            What ever happened to the “precautionary principle?” That bit of nanny-state silliness /sarc/ that held that any corporation or natural person wanting to introduce some neothingie into commerce had the burden ab initio of proving that it DID NOT CASE HARM. Been replaced, somehow, by the profit-uber-alles neomaxim that it’s the burden of the public, up against the effectively unlimited resources of cartels like Big Pharma and the tobacco lobby and Monsanto-et-al and their scientists and apologists and wonderful ability to obfuscate and hide reality of known harmful products being shoved into the stream of commerce, to prove that the neothingie they want to get rid off of causes harm.

            And that principle, since abandoned mostly, was written into US environmental laws going back to the National Environmental Policy Act and following through all the subsequent legislation designed to protect air, water and land resources, and that silly thing, “human health.”

            Hey, we mopes who are addicted to tech are starting to see warnings on exposure to cell phone radio frequency emissions, and the effects of blue hues in the screen lighting and LEDs we spend so much time staring into for fun and profit…

            Like so much else in the world we live in, something is very wrong with this picture…

        2. New Wafer Army

          “Lose the virtue signaling against addicts and what argument are you left with?”

          In fairness Gerald, this is not really that kind of site. May I suggest, Occam’s Razor and all that, that a lot of us are genuinely concerned about vaping products being aimed at kids? Oh, I also think they smell disgusting and make the user look like a loser.

          1. hunkerdown

            I think vape culture is juvenile, personally, but, as one senile puppet running for President once said, “This is America.” On the other hand, vaporizing raw cannabis extract, no glycol solvents, no flavorants, no sweeteners, no attention-grabbing cloud enhancers, no box mods, no vape culture, is legitimately a whole different ball of wax, which could be the real target hidden behind the pretexts.

            What’s interesting is the sudden jihad against it fueled by moral indignation and paranoia, and the erasure of the strong correlation of counterfeit cartridges among the victims. Does that kid in Wisconsin who just got busted for counterfeiting THC cartridges have some really good connections?

      3. paul

        Your maths must be very strange, in the uk 20 fags cost around a tenner.
        A pack a day man, like I was, will pay 3,650 great british pounds per annum.
        A 2ml a day man, like I am, spends less than 150 a year.
        So in the 8.5 years I have ‘used’ (since you classify me as one of those hapless addicts), I’ve saved around (31,025-1,275) 29,750 fiat.

        Pretty good maths to me.

        Plus no health problems, just as there has been none identified for millions of others (3.2 according to cancer research). If nicotine is so bad, why do they allow over the counter sales (gum,sprays, lozenges etc)?

        I would recommend mice stay away from laboratories where they are doused in nicotine though.

        1. Pavel

          Re pricing: I recall being shocked a few years ago in NYC when a smoker friend (thankfully now former smoker) asked me to buy a packet of cigarettes at the local bodega… they were $8! Now in NY I believe they are $13 or so.

          Just two days ago I overheard an Aussie in a Montreal bar saying cigs are AUD 35 a pack! I questioned him on this… they are sold in simple packages with minimal branding. He is a smoker himself but approves of the high prices to deter youths.

          Here in MTL a recent law means that all the packs are hidden from view in the dépanneur shops so the branding is hidden as well. All of these welcome efforts!

        2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I agree with your math & judging by a friend who used to cough like a trooper before he shifted to a vape, of which he assures anyone who will listen that he now feels much more healthy, it does appear to be a lesser evil. ( lousy small study group I know )

          The EU not so long ago looked into the subject & regulated it to a certain extent banning certain flavours, which might not be something that was done in the US.

          I do agree that it could be a worry for youngsters & if vested interests banned vaping – would they then be forced to adopt the ciggies ?

          I also read quite sometime ago that US tobacco companies were doing very well in China, India & the East in general, leaving me to wonder if that is still the case.

          1. paul

            The EU legislation was ill thought out and terrible.

            They restricted the nicotine level below what was needed for smokers to quit, resulting in them having to ingest more of the carrier mediums than necessary.

            They restricted the maximum retail volume to 10ml, resulting in an enormous amount of excess plastic waste.

            They insisted on an onerous registration regime which benefited neither consumers or producers.

            It was yet another inglorious, shameless continuation of the policy against harm reduction, typified by the banning of SNUS, the product that saw sweden achieving the lowest combustible fag use in the world.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              Hmmm…that does not surprise me & sounds like one of those idiotic & pointless exercises like putting ciggies in cupboards & having shops only allow the sale of one pack of paracetemol, because they obviously believe that those contemplating suicide must lack the motivation to walk to the next shop.

              Efmo From what I have seen vapes tend to make those who start them cough as happened with my charcoaled lunged friend, but believe me it is nice to see him now without the interruptions in which I would not have been surprised if his lungs had ended up on the floor.

        3. Krystyn Walentka

          If nicotine is so bad, why do they allow over the counter sales (gum,sprays, lozenges etc)?

          Because cigarettes are worse. And they know the science.

          Vaping is seeming to be bad in its’ own way, which is science just now being seen. Do you want to see how the wool is being stretched over your eyes? Look at the history of vaping and how they are forming these fake “grass roots” organizations like CASAA to promote vaping as safe:

          The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association is puppet of “big vape”.

          If you cannot quit vaping you are an addict, controlled by a corporation.

            1. Susan the other`

              It also has certain antibiotic properties. Smoking was my all-time favorite vice. I only quit when I started to get winded coming up the stairs.

              1. Henry Moon Pie

                Where I grew up, it was said that if you chewed and swallowed a little, it would take care of worms.

                Strangely, plenty of worms seemed to like it well enough when it was growing in the field.

            2. polecat

              I was a string being for years …. smoked cigs (pack a day +) from the time I was 16 .. until about age 34 …then, after our youngin popped into this world, polecat finally had serious thoughts on quitting .. for good ! Went from cigarettes, to smoking a pipe .. to quitting cold. Wasn’t easy – I had to ALSO change my entire daily routine, so as to reduce those trigger mechanisms that would induce that siren call for nicotine. Took me months before I felt that I could resume such activities … without the urge to light up. Now, I can’t stand the smell of tobacco smoke !

              The down side, as Yves has eluded to, is the weight gain. I gained 10 lbs. in less than a year !! .. then about 10 more after that .. never to be as thin as before. At least, should things hit the fan, and supply chains falter, I’ll have some fat reserves to get by on, lol !

            3. neo-realist

              Mother was a smoker for much of her life — died from dementia at the age of 73. Suffered from neuropathy for a bunch of years prior to her death. Surprised she wasn’t struck down by cancer prior to the dementia or in place of it.

          1. paul

            Because cigarettes are worse. And they know the science.

            That is the point, it all about harm reduction. I was a smoker, but never encouraged other people. I would encourage smokers to try it out, but not non smokers.

            I may be an addict, but I am quite aware of what minimal risks there may be, and capable of judging the junk science and junk maths you are throwing up.

            If you want a measured view, try Michael Siegel, who, as far as I know, is not a pitiful addict like me.

            I think all of us are controlled by corporations, choose your poison.

            1. IowanX

              “Harm reduction” is the lexicon in Canada, and, I think, in Europe as well. Swedish Snus are popular there, they have indeed “reduced harm” and certainly reduced smoking and cancer deaths. Nicotine is addictive, and I write as a current smoker. We’ve got the pricing punishment model going, $13/pack in New York yields carton smugglers I see every time I buy my ciggie carton in VA. Actually most of them are DC smugglers, $6 against their $10 price.

              “Harm reduction”, IMO, is the right model. I tried Snus, didn’t like them. I got a Juul, sort of liked it. My daughter (who smoked) now Juul’s exclusively, with a flavored blend, and I had to agree her flavor was better than the “tobacco flavored” Juul packets I had. That’s my next move. I want to give up the morning hacking,smelly clothes & hair, etc.

              In harm reduction, it’s all the other BS in the cigarette smoke–the tars, etc–that are really bad. In Snus, it’s everybody getting regular dental care to watch your gums and throats–which we in America to not make freely available. With vaping, we have to recognize that the vaping oils come from who knows where [China, etc] just like counterfeit perfumes in the same damn bottles. I’m not convinced vaping=lung disease. I’m pretty sure that it is the introduction of fat-soluble substances into vaping oils that are causing most of this recent “outbreak” of lung disease, coupled with liberal virtue-signaling.

              Even if we gotta pay, can’t a nicotine fiend get a little peace? Prohibit fat-soluble oils in vaping supplies, and let us try to quit smoking in peace. And don’t ban flavors, dang it. The Juul tobacco is terrible. The Juul flavor my daughter called “pancakes” works for me, and that’s a good thing, for me.

        4. pricklyone

          I own my mods (power sources) and wind my own coils.
          I buy nicotine solution, and glycol from veterinary suppliers.
          Organic cotton for wicks.
          Ongoing costs probably a whole 40 cents every day.
          3mg/ml strength.
          I always got my cigs in MO when I smoked. One of the cheapest states.
          $50.00 week or thereabouts(variable consumption)
          I’m fairly sure I can see at a glance which is cheaper..:)

      4. RubyDog

        Inhaling anything other than clean, fresh air into your lungs just does not seem to be a smart idea, no matter how you rationalize it.

        1. paul

          ….and where do you find that, in these dark days?

          The momentum is with the city,not the town, let alone the hamlet.

        2. pricklyone

          Yes. And coffee and tea are worse than plain water. You are only allowed plain water from now on. For your own good, of course.
          Does anyone remember the ads that anti-smoking lobby wrote about “nicotine isn’t the big problem, there are 700 (whatever number?) harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke”?
          These are the proven and established carcinogens in tobacco. There is no shortage of long term data or studies.
          Why is the FDA and AMA pushing NRT (replacing smoking with a nicotine gum or patch) if nicotine is so awful?
          Why now is vaping so harmful?
          We eliminated those 700 chemicals, and use only the one which has been studied since the1800’s and found to produce minor effects similar to caffeine.
          Nicotine. Same thing pharma wants smokers to use in patch or gum form, to quit smoking only with much smaller dose from vaping.
          BTW, I am defending the practice of vaping, not the corporate Big Tobacco companies marketing of devices to your kids.
          When are we gonna shut down that fruit flavored alcohol tempting your kids?

      5. teacup

        Vaping is not smoking. Smoking is combustion. The research I’ve done is that vaping is roughly 95% safer than inhaling all the burning carcinogens in tobacco. Also, the media is conflating vaping with a sub-ohm tank or an RDA with these under aged kids cutting pod cartridges with THC and other substances, which is a completely different thing than what the vast majority of vapers vape. As someone who has used vaping as a way to quit smoking, sure there is the slight nicotine high, so yeah, I’m still an ‘addict’, but I can wholeheartedly say I feel way better. Also, how much crime was created when prohibition was tried? An outright ban is gonna create a black market and end up causing more harm. I am all for reasonable regulation, studies, warning labels, but there’s probably more harmful crap in the air walking down a city street coming out of tailpipes.

    3. shtove

      E-cig hardware has to be reliable – customers and retailers hate having to deal with a piece of kit that packs in after a few months. Most is made in Shenzhen province and is of high quality, but I suspect big retailers will go for lower quality (on the juices too) and employ sales people who have no experience in the area. Probably too much hassle for them.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If cannabis becomes re-legalized and all the non-violent cannabis convicts are retro-deconvicted and released from prison, how will the prisondustrial complex keep its cells full?

      If E-cigarettes can be outlawed now that millions are addicted to them, then hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of E-cigarette addicts can be arrested and “convicted” for “breaking” the “laws” against E-cigarettes. That way the prisondustrial complex could gain a whole new pool of profitable prisoners.

      1. paul

        That way the prisondustrial complex could gain a whole new pool of profitable prisoners.

        ….and gentle and non violent ones to manage.

        At least on the way in.

    5. smoker

      Another thing going on alongside the vaping issue, but kept amazingly quiet (I would know I’m a menthol smoker who reads California ‘Bay Area’ news very frequently, and -just a few days ago – was stunned when I tried to buy a pack of cigarettes in a neighboring county which has even less of a black population than my can no longer afford to live in county) has been the banning of Menthol Cigarettes.

      I then searched banning of menthol cigarettes in that county, ending up with results of already banned, or legislation proceeding on banning, menthol cigarettes ‒ along with non vaping, flavored blunt papers, etcetera in the counties which surround, or are centered in (Santa Clara County) Silicon Valley.

      The thing about that is that it appears (it’s certainly what I’ve witnessed in my over 60 years) that black people and females largely prefer menthol cigarettes. One of my knee jerks on that is: the smell of non menthols to a menthol smoker seems far worse, and black people and females (I’m a female) who smoke for it’s undoubtable stress relieving qualities still have way too many barriers to cross, let alone smelling like a Winston, or Marlboro Red, etcetera (the red packaging is always a non menthol cigarette).

      While I diverge on the suggestion of banning (see at bottom) tobacco, this was the only sensible (to me) link I found on the issue::

      07/03/18 The Racially Targeted Tobacco Crackdown Coming to a City Near You

      Imagine a police officer snatching a “suspicious” Black man off the street to spend the weekend in jail. The probable cause? Dealing Newport cigarettes.

      A growing under-the-radar movement to criminalize menthol cigarettes is starting us on a slippery slope toward just such a scenario on a street corner near you. San Francisco was the first city to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, followed by Contra Costa County, California, and the city of Oakland.

      In Minnesota, St. Louis Park banned the sale of flavored tobacco, while Minneapolis, St. Paul and Shoreview passed new limits on its sale. Both chambers of the New Jersey legislature now are considering prohibition against the sale and distribution of menthol and clove cigarettes, which would be the nation’s first statewide ban.

      Why is this so important? The World Health Organization points out that menthol is used more frequently by younger smokers, women and minorities, and it is more enticing for people both to start and continue smoking. While fighting tobacco addiction is a worthy public health goal — and menthol products can be especially dangerous — criminalization is an imperfect solution.

      At this point, a business in these areas would face only a fine or the loss of a license for selling the banned items — and it’s no offense for someone to possess menthols. But these policies set minority communities on a dangerous path. As a retired veteran sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department, I am most concerned about the unintended consequences of targeting menthol. Why not ban all tobacco products?

      You have to start with the legacy of the War on Drugs in the 1970s and the War on Crime in the 1990s, both of which caused soaring incarceration rates of Black men and women. Considering that more than 80 percent of Blacks who smoke prefer menthol tobacco, I see an additional pathway to the penal system. ….


      We’ve seen this before. Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ezell Ford — all were victims of what’s known in law-enforcement circles as “contempt of cop,” when they allegedly failed to comply with an officer’s order. Remember, it was tobacco that caused Garner’s fateful police encounter: He was illegally selling individual cigarettes. So, rather than criminalize those who smoke and create unnecessary police interaction with selectively enforced tobacco laws, why not educate people better on tobacco’s dangers?

      When banning wars for profit (which snuffs out countless millions of youth’s, babies’ and innocent adult’s lives); dignified jobs (particularly those so inversely paid despite their benefit to society); affordable housing; and dignified living for all becomes a reality, then maybe people will stop smoking. Certainly many peace makers , profound thinkers, and artists who smoked like fiends, are stunningly high on the list of those which neoliberals legislating for criminalizing (dehumanizing and incarcerating) and profiteering off of tobacco and nicotine so love to falsely claim for their own kind — yet repeatedly misquote — utterly out of context of the actual lives those fiend smokers lived.

      1. pricklyone

        There is a backstory to this. I don’t remember all the details, but I know B&W was found to have marketed “KOOL” brand menthols aggressively in predominantly black neighborhoods.
        When I was young I went to a majority black junior high, and all the black kids smoked
        em. We all jumped on the bandwagon as well, cause everyone bummed from everyone else, and once you get used to menthols, it is hell to go back to regulars. (dry mouth, eeeaaahhh)

      2. paul

        That reminds me of something I read ages ago.

        It’s a response mechanism.
        It indirectly gives someone a moment

        That moment with a fag gives release.
        Allows you to go back to what was killing you10 minutes earlier.

  2. dearieme

    Why are Americans even allowed to use insulin? Surely it’s cultural appropriation from Canadians?

    (“Cultural appropriation” is the sort of thing we progressives say, isn’t it?)

    1. Eclair

      Re: insulin as “cultural appropriation from Canadians.”

      Uh, dearieme, no. Insulin is a medical discovery which even Banning thought should be shared widely without him receiving any compensation.

      Cultural appropriation from Canadians would be us USians dressing up in plaid wool shirts, lumberjack boots and rabbit-skin caps with the ear flaps in permanent ‘down’ position, with a bottle of Molsen’s in each hand, talking amongst ourselves very very politely and ending each sentence with ‘eh?’

        1. JEHR

          Dr. Frederick Banting, a Canadian, was the individual who decided to sell the rights to his invention, insulin, for a small amount so that everyone in the world could afford to buy it. He may be dead but he certainly saved a lot of lives.

          The discovery and history of insulin is one of the most important in medicine. Its development has saved millions of lives and continues to make a difference today.

    2. TiPs

      While I’m glad see that it’s related to my”hunch” about the distribution of reserves (even though I had it backwards), I’m not buying the explanation given by “one bank” in the FT piece. I saw Nathan’s thread yesterday, and I’m sure that explains most of it, but I don’t think it fully explains what happened. So, here’s a new thought….

      Since excess reserves are highly concentrated in a few large banks, is it possible they operated like good monopolists during the squeeze in order to create and take advantage of higher rates?
      While it’s possible, I don’t imagine a trillion in excess reserves was necessary to meet liquidity ratios of the likes of JPM, BoA, et al (especially on one Monday in September)? I also don’t believe there were greater overnight alternatives in currency or other markets at the time.

      I may be wrong (again), but it seems there is much more to this story, and a lot to dig into…

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Messing with the Fed, who among other things has the power to force banks not to pay dividends, and in the early 1990s, forced out the top 4 execs at Salomon Brothers for squeezing the Treasury bond market, is playing with fire. Plus the spikes were so short lived it’s not clear to me how they could or did profit from it. For them to profit, they would have had to provide the cash when the market spiked. It doesn’t look like they did that. By all appearances, they are still sitting on their excess reserves.

    3. Lee

      I have a French Canadian ancestor so maybe I can be great grandmothered in and so avoid the opprobrium should I ever require insulin. Or is that not how this strange new PC stuff works? it’s getting ever more difficult to sort out. Should Yo-Yo Ma even be allowed to play German music on an Italian update of what was probably initially an Arabic instrument?

      1. LifelongLib

        I despise a lot of “PC stuff” but I think “cultural appropriation” occasionally is a genuine phenomena. Here in Hawaii there have been issues with people getting tattoos that in Hawaiian culture have religious or honorific meanings that aren’t appropriate for use as decoration. Somewhat as if you put a fake diploma on your wall because you think it looks neat without knowing what a diploma represents.

        1. hunkerdown

          What? It represents class formation and the ability to buy one’s way into it. What next, sumptuary laws forbidding only the poors from wearing athleisure clothing?

          1. LifelongLib

            Ok, try “Carpenter of the Year” award being displayed by someone who never picked up a hammer. You know very well what I meant. Jesus.

            1. hunkerdown

              No, Jesus was the carpenter of the millennium.

              I know very well what you meant, yes. I just don’t happen to agree that the originals are really that valuable either, owing not least to the admissions-for-pay scandal that was in the media just months ago.

              1. hunkerdown

                (To clarify, I meant original diplomas aren’t very valuable. What they signify is not magic, but arrogance, which is always best answered with mockery and exclusion. Quite the opposite for native signs worn by natives who earned them from their whole community.)

                1. Rod

                  maybe in your experience, however in mine the GI Bill helped me get quite an enlightening education and that BS in Tech Ed that I put with my UBCJ Journeyman Carpenter Certification as credentials to begin a multi decade College career of teaching Carpentry to Millennials/ GenX/Boomers
                  I guess I could be an exception

        2. Oregoncharles

          “Cultural appropriation” is back? I thought it had died a richly deserved death. It isn’t just that it’s absurd, as Lee pointed out. It fundamentally misunderstands culture, and therefore what it is to be human.

          Just look at the word: “appropriate” means “take away”. But you can’t take away culture by imitating it; it’s infinitely replicable. Its ability to skip from one society to another is part of its advantage. Whoever started this lame idea deliberately misappropriated “appropriate.”

          That isn’t just a semantic quibble. It’s fundamental. Granted, there are real problems, like mockery or disrespect – the Hawaiian example. Or worse, real misappropriation, like taking artifacts or land, or forbidding cultural practices. But mere imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and almost always goes both ways.

          Ironically, the idea is openly racist: it really just says “you can’t do that because you’re the wrong color.” Weird that so many people fell for it.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Now I see that dearieme was having some fun with us, as they will do. Doesn’t change my point, but maybe it isn’t really coming back.

        3. Procopius

          Reminds me of the Westerners living in Singapore who display pictures of a Chinese man and a Chinese woman. They don’t realize those are actual portraits of somebody’s ancestors, supposed to be displayed during certain rituals. Some people are offended by the display of ignorance, but really, who cares? The whole “cultural appropriation” thing seems utterly stupid to me. It seems to come from people who don’t have enough problems so they go looking for more. How am I harming Mexican or Indian culture by eating a burrito or chicken tandoori?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “BREAKING: Trump ends US China trade war; swaps Hong Kong for California in unprecedented deal”

    That could work that – for Trump that is. I mean, there are 8,612,368 registered Democrat voters in California and if they dropped out of contention, you would have a Republican red America for a very long time.

      1. polecat

        And perhaps parts of Texas, and All of New Mexico as well .. ??

        Oh heck … just trade both the left coasts and be done with. Maybe China will be generous .. and offer-up a terraformed island or three …
        Dim somewhere for all !

      2. NigelK

        How about your town, which I’m sure is a bastion of progressivism with no inequality or social problems?

        You’re welcome for CA preventing the Christian Taliban from running the country like it’s the Old Testament, by th he way.

        1. hunkerdown

          Past actions are not an excuse for present, ongoing, neo-Victorian bourgeois insufferability, which is not believed to be a curable personality disorder. Napoleon for a few years is absolutely worth cutting traitors down to size, in the grand scheme of things.

    1. Milton

      As a lifelong Californian I welcome the trade. I will finally have access to affordable Healthcare and Apple products will again be produced domestically. What’s not to like?

  4. dearieme

    this registered with him in a way that accounts of personal suffering didn’t.

    Yep, don’t for God’s sake allow the possibility that the man has any humane instincts. Literally Hitler, isn’t he?

    US drone strike intended for Isis hideout kills 30 pine nut workers in Afghanistan

    In this week’s Drone Olympics the US lost.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      A My Lai every few weeks, year in, year out and you still can’t penetrate the conscience of today’s American.

      Or maybe their consciences have just shrunk down to vestigial size, so small they barely function any more. Greed, envy, gluttony, and sloth push out all capacity for pity, compassion, and empathy toward our fellow man. The question of the morality of what their government does in their name and on their behalf no longer even gets asked.

      “We just murdered 30 impoverished farmers and their families huddled in a field”


        1. flora

          adding: in 2008 O campaigned on ending the war in Afgh and bringing the troops home, and he won. Turns out O was only kidding. In 2016 T campaigned on ending the wars and bringing troops home, and he won. Average Americans know what’s going on an are still trying with elections to end pointless wars. imo.

          1. Plenue

            Average Americans want to end the wars because of how the wars effect America. They’re shockingly ignorant of what our wars have done to the places they’re waged in.

            1. richard

              Swanson’s piece on the horrific damage caused by the use of depleted uranium, which maybe 2 usians in a 100 know about, illustrates your point rather well. This is why gabbard’s anti-war position is so heavily founded on valor betrayed, and how the empire is taxing the metropole. Hardly a whisper about immorality, which seems a distinct shift from Vietnam era opposition to war.
              I won’t holler too much if it works. Gabbard is very interesting, and of course has a truly impressive list of enemies. The “Saudi Arabia’s bitch” comment is worth another $27. When she breaks 5% in Iowa and beats Kamala Harris (my lips to glob’s ear), she’ll get a couple more debates.
              Unless the dnc decides the iowa caucus is not a qualifying poll, of course.

          2. Cripes

            Flora, that’s also very true at least since two million came out in the streets of New York in 2002 against the Iraq invasion and were kettled by police and peeing on the streets of Manhattan

      1. Annieb

        Yes, these drone murders disgust and horrify me. I have brought it up again and again with friends and family who react with pained expressions. Sometimes after acknowledging the awfulness, they brush off any further discussion. I used to post messages about the wars on FB but . . . Crickets. I think that people have a very difficult time acknowledging their complicity especially when they believe there’s nothing they can do about it. They are wrong, of course. There’s plenty to be said and done , for example, supporting Tulsi Gabbard is one way.

      2. barrisj

        This is the flip-side to the Taibbi “Trump doesn’t want war” scenario: since he’s taken office, the US bombing campaign within Afghanistan has greatly accelerated, driving up >civilian casualties “collateral damage” numbers. Also, in Syria, indiscriminate bombing runs have led to heavy casualties as well. As long as Trump can wage pain-free (for the US military) warfare against defenseless peoples, he will, and his “bombastic” comments about how the US could “win” in Afghanistan, but “it would cost 10 million lives” leaves one utterly perplexed about what actually drives this man’s decision-making process. Compassion and empathy certainly can be omitted in the first instance.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I think he’s aware that war is bad for the real estate business – which is pretty much what Yves (Taibbi?) said.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Lambert has talked about the OODA loop which is the cycle that goes Observe–Orient–Decide–Act but a British officer once remarked that for the US military it is more like this-


      Taliban fighters are not going to advertise their presence with campfires at night, are they? Nor conveniently gather in a large group. Seriously, the Rules of Engagement need to be totally overhauled if they allow something like this. There have been cases of Coalition aircraft refusing to drop bombs on buildings because some grunt on the ground claimed that he heard a shot. When US forces were bombing Raqqa, if a single person was observed on a rooftop, then the entire building would be dropped – and anybody that happened to be in it – because it was thought that the guy must be a sniper. It took a General to work out this ROE.

      1. JTMcPhee

        And lots of cases of stupid Imperial (Sorry, “Coalition”) forces being told by one scalawag or warlord that his local competition/adversary was “Viet Cong” or “al Quaeda,” leading to another chance to apologize after blasting some inoffensive (to US interests) party and then hanging out for a while until public attention drifted elsewhere.

        And the Empire (sorry, “Coalition) pays blood money to Afghan and other families losing members of “oopsie” drone and gunship attacks, ,, which apparently in many cases satisfies “honor” and reduces the chances that survivors will become “terrorists” (we called them “Minutemen” and “Sons of Liberty” in or own Revolution,

        (Here’s a bit of history of reasons Continentals/Colonists hated the Bloody Brits, with a quick read for echoes of present pains: “PAtriots or Terrorists: the Lost Story of Revolutionary War POWs,”

        One wonders if there is some secret eyes-only tally of events or “operations” where the US (sorry, “Coalition”) forces got suckered into playing the hit man in some petty local squabble. Not that such events are more than bits of noise in the compendious violence the Empire has let loose…

        1. The Rev Kev

          That’s a good link that “PAtriots or Terrorists: the Lost Story of Revolutionary War POWs” one. I wonder if at the time it made Revolutionary soldiers fight harder so as not to be captured as they knew the fate that awaited them. Maybe too an element of revenge against British troops when they fought them because of what was happening to their countrymen.

          1. LifelongLib

            Paraphrasing Archie Bunker, the British turned more Americans into rebels than the Founding Fathers did…

    3. Donald

      “Yep, don’t for God’s sake allow the possibility that the man has any humane instincts. Literally Hitler, isn’t he?”

      Non sequitur alert.. Lots of people seem to lack humane instincts without being as bad as Hitler. And even Hitler liked dogs, so he had a humane instinct towards canines. Maybe Trump has a humane instinct hidden somewhere, but people in Raqqa, Mosul, and Yemen probably haven’t seen it.

      He is afraid of war with Iran because Iran can fight back and ruin his election chances.

    4. Chauncey Gardiner

      The behavior of all parties, including adversaries, toward civilians in various U.S. military conflicts has frequently been lawless and in violation of basic moral and humanitarian values. Regardless, and setting aside for a moment whether the particular conflict itself remains just, determining if the operators followed procedures intended to prevent civilian casualties needs to be objectively and independently established.

      We Americans need to reclaim our respect for human rights, including the right of innocent others to life itself. In my view, we could begin by supporting the restoration of all war powers to Congress, and actively supporting the U.N. and international law governing human rights. And as Annieb says above, supporting politicians like Tulsi Gabbard is another way.

  5. Baby Gerald

    Re: Tulsi Gabbard Welcomes Modi to US…

    Apparently, nobody told this guy that Modi was persona non grata. Or maybe it was twelfth dimensional chess move that we laymen just don’t understand.

    Or, maybe her advisers were reading articles like this one in Foreign Policy.

    At this point, Gabbard is the chosen pariah of the MIC-loving establishment and nothing she does is going to change the way its media lapdogs treat her. Maybe she thought burning bridges to one of her strongest base of supporters at this point with no tangible positive results on offer was the less stupid option.

    1. Roger Boyd

      Agreed, this seems really strange given Modi’s actions in Kahmir. There is such a history of progressives pulling their punches when they should be doubling down (Bernie not going after Clinton for instance). When in doubt Trump doubles down, he understands the dynamics – you don’t get respected otherwise.

      OCAS endorsing Cuomo (it looked like through gritted teeth) is another. She loses a bit of credibility then gets nothing but insults back from Cuomo.

    2. Spring Texan

      Of course she welcomed Modi. He is anti-Muslim and so is she. This is who she is. And who she is is not good.

      1. dcblogger

        Of course she welcomed Modi. He is anti-Muslim and so is she. This is who she is. And who she is is not good.
        so good, it had to be repeated.

      2. Baby Gerald

        Remind me again who is the candidate saying we should leave these Muslims alone and stop invading their countries? Somehow the same one who is ‘anti’Muslim’.

        How much Muslim blood does Gabbard have on her hands? She served two tours in Iraq and still somehow she has less dead Muslims to her credit than the political leaders that sent her there. Yet she’s the anti-Muslim in the conversation. SMH.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Reminds me of when John Kerry ran for President back in 2004 and he was swift-boated by Bush. So the Media at the time decided that the guy that went into the Air National Guard to avoid service in Vietnam, marked his papers never to be sent overseas, and eventually wondered away from his base never to return had a superior military record to the the guy that actually went to Vietnam for a coupla years, fought in combat in several actions, was wounded on three separate occasions, and received a Silver Star.

          1. Procopius

            Something I don’t think many civilians understand. Medals are handed out routinely, in addition to what are called “campaign ribbons,” which are awarded just for serving on active duty during a certain time period. The Bronze Star and the Army Commendation medal, for example, were awarded to virtually every soldier who served in Vietnam. The Bronze Star “with v device” is another animal altogether. The v for valor device shows that the person performed a real act of valor, actually risking his/her own life. It deserves respect. A Silver Star is an order of magnitude greater. It’s an award that deserves great respect and is never given easily.

          2. neo-realist

            And a lot of gullible Americans unfortunately brought into that notion as well and helped to re-elect him. Granted, Kerry did not fight as hard as he should have against the swift boat accusations due to bad campaign advice and came off as a stuffed shirt on the campaign trail, but Bush’s drawing the country into war on false pretenses and getting thousands of American’s killed and wounded should have set the bar low enough for voters to throw him out of office.

    3. Dao Gen

      “Rising” has an interview with Tulsi during which she completely denies this story, saying it’s fake news.

      1. Baby Gerald

        “Rising” has an interview with Tulsi during which she completely denies this story, saying it’s fake news.

        Thanks for sharing this, Dao Gen. So good it deserves repeating.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Isn’t “fake news” a weak-tea euphemism for “propaganda?” (Edward Bernays smiled smugly in his crypt.)

      3. UserFriendly

        No, what she says on rising is that she isn’t going to be present for the Modi visit even though she was invited. She released the video of her gushing about him publicly and apologizing for not being able to make it all on her own. Which is politically tone def considering what just happened in Kashmir.

  6. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re: “NY Fed examines banks’ role in money market turmoil”, from the Financial Times, it appears that the Fed anticipated the problems in the overnight repo market over a month and a half before they occurred.

    From Pam and Russ Martens: “As it turns out, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) directive that authorized the Tuesday operation was dated July 31, 2019 – 45 days prior to the action. What was it that the Fed saw in the tea leaves back in July that prompted it to write that directive on July 31?” … “Then there is the suspicious fact that the New York Fed actually held a test of the need to conduct such an intervention in the overnight repo market during the month of May of this year.”…

    Short and worthwhile article, especially their observations in the concluding two paragraphs:

    1. flora

      /Donning my foil bonnet : what was happening in the US in July that could influence the Fed to set plans this far out? Hmmm, (pulls foil bonnet on tighter)… Jeff Epstein had been arrested and a judge in late July said the criminal case against him could go forward. Proposed trial date was June 2020. Lots of speculation swirled that the case would or could reveal massive money laundering/bribery/blackmail activities that might include high ranking govt/business officials in many countries. (pull down my foil bonnet even tighter)… Might the Fed fears such possible news effects on the financial system’s existing counter party agreements? (Think what AIG’s counter party agreements did, or nearly did to the system in 2008.)

      And then… the Epstein problem all went away, more or less.
      Did the Fed go forward just to go forward, or is their something else going on?

      /Removes foil bonnet.

          1. notabanktoadie

            It sounds a lot like “helicopter money,” but he was not actually talking about raining money down on the people. The central bank would maintain a “standing emergency fiscal facility” that would be activated when interest rate manipulation was no longer working and deflation had set in. The central bank would determine the size of the facility based on its estimates of what was needed to get the price level back on target. It sounds good until you get to the part about who would disburse the funds: “Independent experts would decide how best to deploy the funds to both maximize impact and meet strategic investment objectives set by the government.” Ellen Brown [bold added]

            Arguably, an ethical finance system would include the requirement that all fiat creation beyond deficit spending for the general welfare shall be in the form of equal fiat distributions to all citizens, i.e. a Citizen’s Dividend.

            One might hope that central bankers, having despaired of everything else, might consider this.

          2. coboarts

            “using sophisticated data, algorithms and economic formulae” …clueless in Chicago -? or just no brain activity detectable.

          3. Susan the other`

            I’d guess yes to all of the above flora. Hadn’t thought of the Epstein connection but it has a ring of truth to it. Ellen Brown is now talking @nationalizing the Fed and turning all of the privateer banks into utilities – taking away their ability to speculate. And speculation/exploitation is the lifeblood of neoliberalism. Too bad it all blew up. So that’s a good idea. She used to be in favor of decentralized State banks everywhere to control money locally. This is a turn around for her. She has probably been reading about the useful ideas of MMT and fiscal capitalism; aka fiscal finance. (I’m searching in my dark corners for a new descriptor and I’m leaning toward fiscal-eco-capitalism.) We really shouldn’t expect the high-flying financiers to ever clip their own wings, imo. And if the Fed is confused, panicked and faltering that means they can’t keep prices up much longer as the economy has been officially been put in a rest home. That means fiscal spending, ala the ECB. Maybe.

    2. ewmayer

      Wolf Richter posted a piece on this late yesterday. I found his most interesting note in the comments section, in reply to a reader who commented “I don’t buy the ‘lack of cash’ narrative”. Wolf:

      “Me neither. There was lots of cash, but it wasn’t there at 2.1%. It came out of the woodwork at 3% and then at 4% and then at 5% and finally at 10%. All these deals got done at high interest rates, so there was cash and liquidity. So the market was able but not willing at 2.1%. We don’t know why. This is the hallmark of a market not functioning rationally. This happens quite a bit, in different directions, flash crashes and the like. And someone makes a TON OF MONEY during these events.”

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Satirical ‘Onion’ Headline About Saudi Oil Now Just A Regular News Report”

    I don’t know why Marco Rubio is so upset with the Solomon Islands for withdrawing recognition of Taiwan. It’s not like the ones that still do are actual powerhouses-

    El Salvador
    Marshall Islands
    Saint Kitts and Nevis
    Saint Lucia
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    Vatican City

    Sure the US can end financial assistance & restricting access to U.S. dollars & banking but I am also sure that China would be willing to step up and fill the gap. The Chinese could even build their second overseas base there as well. But who could ever predict such a development?

    1. rd

      Its sad that the Onion and SNL are becoming irrelevant as their writers are struggling to out-satirize the actual news. The beginning of the end was when SNL was effectively just reading the transcripts of Sarah Palin’s debate performances. But now it has become a crisis where they simply can’t keep up with the people who have been actually elected.

  8. jfleni

    RE: Your Navigation App Is Making Traffic Unmanageable Spectrum IEEE.

    Politicians and sharp observers in general know: Your ####BOX is making everything worse everywhere!! GOOD public transit is the
    ONLY sensible solution!!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      This could be the unintended beneficial consequence of these navigation apps. If enough people use enough navigation apps in high enough concentration in enough badly-gridlockable cities; they might drive a critical massload of inhabitants of those cities to demand, and tax themselves to pay for, deep and broad mass transit so ubiquitous and user-friendly that millions of car drivers will feel invited to use the new better mass transit instead.

  9. a different chris

    >that set them apart from both Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans, including a broad, projecting face, an exceptionally weak chin, and wide hips.

    Aha! That explains my in-laws.

    1. Olga

      Funny to see Romney be accused of “left-wing” rhetoric. More proof that we live in a world upside-down. The end times must be near, when one cannot rely even on Romney (or, Robme) to defend greed. What’s next? The bull replaced with a bust of uncle Karl?

      1. JBird4049

        Just how are facts “regrettable left-wing rhetoric” can I ask? It doesn’t look like Romney used any nonsense terms like “assault weapon,” or inflammatory ones like “eat the rich” or “lucky duckies” or tried to tried to argue for mercantilism, the gold standard, or Marxism, but used facts and careful observations to oppose tax cuts for wealthy investors. Did anyone respond against his letter using facts and reasons themselves or did they use regrettable right-wing rhetoric?

    1. Yves Smith Post author


      The Fed didn’t need authorization. It’s always used repos to manage the Fed funds rate. It switched to using the interest it paid on reserves as its preferred way to manage rates when it flooded the system with liquidity via QE. It apparently dawned on someone they might have to go back to relying on repos again. You can find this information in 30 seconds on Google. See here, for instance:

      When the Fed wants to inject money into the system, it buys Treasury securities from its primary dealers in a repo. This puts extra cash into the hands of the primary dealers that they can then disseminate throughout the financial system. When the Fed wants to extract money from the system, it sells Treasury securities to its primary dealers in a reverse repo. This takes cash out of the hands of the primary dealers, which prevents them from disseminating it throughout the financial system.

      What is different is things go so out of whack that the Fed had to do it at scale all of a sudden, as opposed to via its pre-crisis practice of daily market operations, and so it too much looked like what the Fed did in Sept 2008 where no one would repo even a Treasury due to counterparty risk.

      And this is not a “prop up”. The Fed sets the so-called policy rate. The fact that it screwed up so badly is what is noteworthy, not that it determines the rate and takes action to make sure it sticks.

  10. notabanker

    What the world needs is a Smart City Engineer redesigning navigation apps. Yet another reason to completely ditch my smart phone.

    1. Craig H.

      There was one salient point in the person’s article:

      Figuring out just what these apps are doing and how to make them better coordinate with more traditional traffic-management systems is a big part of my research at the University of California, Berkeley, where I am director of the Smart Cities Research Center.

      I am sure this fits in somewhere on that list of classic logic fallacies but I don’t know where. There are a number of scams that fall into this bucket.

  11. timbers

    A person at one US bank said that while it been “net lenders into the market” this week, they “have to make economic decisions for the company”. That means that the cost and return of deploying cash in the repo market is assessed relative to the cost and return of using funds for other things, like investing in currencies overnight.

    – So glad to know those CD’s I have are being “invested incurrencies” and any Too Big To Fail losses will be paid be me, tax payers, and sovereign currency printing.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Crisis for Birds Is a Crisis for Us All

    I don’t doubt that bird numbers have declined drastically but I do see plenty of crows in Maine still as they had a lot of carrion last year due to the squirrelpocalypse –

    Driving back from Moosehead Lake last year we noticed literally thousands of dead gray squirrels littering the highway in a fairly short stretch of maybe 50 miles or so. I’d never seen anything like it and there were plenty of crows feasting. Evidently the weather was good for nuts, etc the previous season, which led to an abundance of squirrels. When it got dry in the summer and food became short, they came streaming out of the woods and got creamed.

    We didn’t see the same squirrel devastation on the trip this year though so it’s possible the crow population will take a dip. Year over year populations of any species would be somewhat cyclical due to seasonal variations but the long term trend is definitely downward.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Over the past few decades I feel as though I have been seeing fewer and fewer warblers. Several decades ago I saw many meadowlarks each year. Now I go years at a time without seeing a meadowlark.
      I haven’t seen a purple finch for many years.

      These reports provide written validation for what I feel I have been seeing right along.

      1. polecat

        Just yesterday, I nticed a flock of lavender-headed kinglets having ball flittering up-side-down amongst the oceanspray (Holodiscus) branch tips .. along with the rufus-sided towhees, some stellar’s jays .. and a cedar waxwing or two ..
        Neo-dinosaurs are always a welcome sight in our surrounds … even the flickers, damn their battering-ram beaks !!

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Saudi Arabia oil attacks: US to send troops to Saudi Arabia”

    Apparently a lot of those troops are crews for more anti-air batteries. The same ones that never saw last weekends attack. I blame “The Sopranos” for this whole mess. No, seriously. Probably a boot-legged copy of this series dubbed in Arabic made its way eventually to someone’s cousin in Yemen. After watching the whole series, the Houthi got on the phone to Mohammad Bin Salman. I can see it now-

    “Mohammad? Eeeh, some of us boys had a sit down, you know. We wanted to pass a message from the Don to you. No! No! Not that one. Anyway, we just want you to know that that’s some really nice oil installations you got there. Really Nice. Be a shame if anything happened to them. There’s a lot of evil out there. A lot of bad things. Lot of bad people too. Real bad people. I wouldn’t want a person like you to have more problems with those oil installations. So we’re gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse. We’re giving you a choice. And you sound like the sort of person who’s gonna make the right choice, see.”

    1. Dan

      If we are going to spend our tax money defending some of the most distant and richest, foreigners, per capita, in the world, how about some massive shipments of free Saudi oil products for American municipalities?

      Same thing with Israel, although I don’t know what product(s) they could offer us of any value, except maybe taking back people like the guy that started the WeWork Ponzi.

      1. rowlf

        What is patriotic about US service personnel being human shields at foreign air defense installations? I’m having problems getting the mental images of humanshield/flag/eagle to all fit together. Is this still about Freedom or has the US moved to a more Hessian military model?

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Once you take the King’s shilling…” said the mope who was dumb enough to ENLIST in the US Army in 1966, in large part out of “patriotic” sentiments acquired in the Boy Scouts and grade and high school…

          Hey, in retrospect it was a slam-dunk way to avoid the military draft…

  14. JohnnyGL

    This occurred to me when the trump-ukraine story broke. We’ve seen trump is adept at taking a story and turning the tables on the media/dems.
    It’s basically what he did with Russia-gate.
    1) He’s shored up his base by pitting himself against deep state/establishment
    2) got the larger public to basically tune out and inoculated himself against corruption charges
    3) while getting his opponents to make fools of themselves and act like Glenn Beck style conspiracy theorists (Maddow, O’Donnell)

    When you give it some thought, it’s become a kind of standard tactic during Trump era
    1) Repub side seems to make major blunder or a scandal breaks
    2) story fizzles or it turns out there’s a ‘pot-calling-kettle-black’ angle with team dem
    3) opponents get brought down to trump’s level and their attacks neutralized….
    4) base support is reinforced by bad faith (or at least unhinged) attacks

    Trump pulled this trick with the access hollywood tapes…and it seems he’s managed to do the same with most major stories…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This is not a “Trump-Ukraine” story. It is a biden-as-corrupt-democrat-vice-president-enriching-his-no-account-grifter-son story.

      But I’m inclined to agree with the conservative “conspiracy theorists.” It’s also a find-a-way-to-dump-the-old-political-fart-with-waaaay-too-much-slimy-baggage story.

      1. Susan the other`

        It could be even more cynical than that. It could be the DNC putting Biden out there to soak up all the resentment against the Obama administration; kill him politically. Biden’s last act.

    2. Dan

      Doesn’t change the fact that Biden’s son used his dad’s name, and connections, to insinuate himself onto the board of Burisma Holdings, a major Ukrainian gas company, for which we paid our taxes and American servicemen died to defend and stage a coup.
      “There just isn’t enough money to continue those ridiculous socialist security payments”

      How is Biden Junior’s Ukrainian language skill set?

      1. chuck roast

        Biden outs himself for interfering in the Ukrainian prosecutor’s Bursima investigation. Basically, stop the investigation or you don’t get your billion dollars.
        The smoking gun in living color:
        Biden: (see 51.40 minutes)
        …I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. They made—I mean, I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.
        So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

        File under: Idiots on Parade

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Biden lands in The Ukraine on Air Force Two, trots his son along to a few meetings, son returns with $50,000.00 per month managing a brand-new $1.5 billion investment fund (his investment management experience = zero point zero).

          Hilary gives a speech to Goldman Sachs, receives a payment for $400,000.00, blocks critical reform measures being considered for Wall St.

          Saudis make a $100M “donation” to the Clinton “Foundation”, a few weeks later the U.S. State Department (headed by Ms. Clinton herself) agrees to sell them billions in sensitive military hardware. The “Foundation” pulls in more than $100M to build houses in Haiti, they build a grand total of *10* houses, the rest going in consulting fees and a bit for Chelsea’s wedding.

          Obama, Hilary, and Brennan get together, decide to pay for and plant a fake story that seems juicy enough to get the FBI to investigate their political rival, they lie about it, then they destroy evidence under subpoena. Clapper gets asked under oath whether the U.S. spies on any citizens and he says “No”.

          But the Dems are trying to say Trump is the corrupt one?

          (Do you also do standup? I’d love to come see your show sometime).

          1. Procopius

            Saudis make a $100M “donation” to the Clinton “Foundation”, a few weeks later the U.S. State Department (headed by Ms. Clinton herself) agrees to sell them billions in sensitive military hardware.

            Did you ever read a book called The Arms Bazaar, by Anthony Sampson? It describes how arms sales became the most important source of revenue for the United States government outside of taxes. The main business of both the Department of Defense and the State Department is the sale of arms. There is no way the Saudis would need to contribute to the Clinton Foundation to get an arms sale approved. They might well have had some other corrupt reason (I believe they did), but I am 100% certain it was not to facilitate an arms sale.

    3. kiwi


      Is it possible that people are on to the dems’ game and now find it tedious? Dems manufacture hysteria over something that turns out to be nothing. The hysteria machine used to be somewhat interesting, but it is so boring now.

      Must the US citizenry endure 2 more (or 6 more) years of crying wolf?

      In the Trump/Ukraine instance, the leaker is called a ‘whistleblower’ to provide some patina of legitimacy, when the situation boils down to an intelligence employee spying on the president and leaking his/her interpretation of Trump’s conversation.

      Even if Trump got on his knees in public and repeatedly begged some official in any country to do an investigation of Biden and/or Son’s business dealings in that country, why should anyone care after observing the continuous hordes of hypocrites clamoring for investigations of all things Trump?

      Further, weren’t these hordes of hypocrites ecstatic over the Steele dossier that supposedly included information provided by Russians? And now they are hysterical because one of their own is in crosshairs?

      The dems almost succeeded in imprisoning Manafort in Rikers – think about that for a moment – pursuant to investigations of all things Trump.

      The Biden/son story was bubbling around in 2014 well before Trump even declared his candidacy; the only question is why the information took so long do get more attention.

      1. marym

        Whistleblower, in this case, is a legal status, governed by specific laws, not a characterization of convenience. As far as the content of the whistleblower report, I’m not as familiar with the details as you seem to be, so I can’t judge, except to say that if they are exonerating, there’s no need defy the legal requirement to provide them to Congress.

        If the government of Ukraine or the US think Biden and/or his son have done something illegal, not cleared by previous investigations, they should investigate; just as Trump should investigate, rather than tweet about, Clinton and Obama for all that he and his followers think they did wrong.

        That’s not the same as a holder of public office using the leverage of that position to withhold public funds from another country to further their own political and/or family ambitions, whether that office holder was Biden or Trump.

        1. kiwi

          Like I said, the term “whistleblower” is used to provide a patina of legitimacy. There is at least one writer who challenges the applicability of the whistleblowing protections to this situation.

          1.It appears that an American spy in one of our intelligence agencies may have been spying on our own president. The complaint suggests that this intel agent was listening in on Trump’s conversation with a foreign leader. Was this person officially asked to listen to the conversation or was he or she secretly listening in? We don’t know.
          2.This agent, who is an unelected and inferior federal employee in the government hierarchy, apparently believes that it is his/her job to second-guess the motivation behind the words of the elected president, who is the most superior officer in the U.S. government.
          3.Article II of the Constitution gives the president sweeping power to conduct foreign affairs, negotiate with leaders of other nations, make demands or offer promises. The Constitution does not grant the power of review, approval or disapproval to spies or other unelected officials in the executive branch.
          4.The ICWPA law defines the parameters of an “urgent concern” complaint as an abuse or violation of law “relating to the funding, administration, or operations of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters.” The president’s conversation with a foreign leader does not seem to fall under this whistleblower definition.
          5.It appears the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) agrees with this assessment. His agency’s general counsel wrote a letter stating the complaint did not meet the ICWPA definition because it involved conduct “from someone outside the intel community and did not relate to intelligence activity,” according to a report by Fox News. This is why the DNI refused to forward the complaint to congress.

          IMO, to call Trump’s actions – as known so far – illegal or unethical (which is what whistleblowers report) is a stretch. Apparently, the issue gained new interest in Ukraine when Biden opened his trap to brag about the situation, but hasn’t moved much since then. The renewed interest appears to have begun before Biden declared for president.

    4. barrisj

      Seems to be some pullback from the earlier stories about alleged quid pro quo regarding military aid for a Biden père et fils investigation by the Ukrainian govt…WaPo now saying that while Trump did bang on during his phone call to Zelenskiy about “looking into” Biden’s actions as VP, there was no mention of military aid conditional upon any investigation. And, yes, once again Trump trumps the MSM, and the whole “whistleblower scandal” is derailed by apparent press over-reach, helpfully aided and abetted by the always frenetic Giuliani. And, let’s not even mention Democratic fecklessness in Congress, for God’s sake!

    5. Plenue

      Trump didn’t do any of those things. All he did was insist on his innocence in a scenario in which he was actually innocent, and correctly (if vaguely) identify his attackers. His base was always going to support him no matter what, just as committed democrats are going to hate him no matter what. Russigate imploding has had no effect on Trump supporters, who never believed it to begin with, on liberals, who are completely oblivious to the fact that it has imploded, or to everyone else, who never paid attention to begin with.

      Trump isn’t playing a clever game. It’s just his genuine innocence ran up against feverish desperation as his enemies took a shotgun to themselves.

    6. VietnamVet

      Corporate media is so wrapped in five-eyes intelligence community talking points that it doesn’t know what happened four years ago. It simply attacks Donald Trump even if it is nonsensical.

      I cannot vote for Joe Biden for the same reason I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. They purposely destroyed Libya, Syria and instigated a coup and civil war in Ukraine to serve war profiteers and themselves. Son Hunter was hired for one reason, his father was the Vice President. Joe and Hillary restarted the Cold War. We are in the horrible position of depending on Donald Trump’s need for a second term. His reluctance to strike Iran and start a war is all that is preventing an apocalypse now.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Elizabeth Warren Is Betting Young People Hate Corruption More Than Capitalism”

    I think that Warren’s biggest problem is that she is what she is – a technocrat. Hillary claimed that she was one but Warren is the real deal. The problem is that what the country really wants is leadership and I do not think that Warren is seen as such. She would make a terrific SecTreas or even a great Vice-President but I cannot see her inspiring people. Americans aren’t fussy on leadership remember. Last time problems were so real they found leadership in a crippled man in a wheelchair but you do need to be able to inspire people. And if you cannot even inspire the sixty odd million people that did not come out to vote back in 2016 to do so in 2020, then you are dead in the water.

    1. pretzelattack

      i think what inspires people is a vision of a real change. warren provides a vision of tinkering with a system on the way out.

      1. Susan the other`

        yes, if Liz were really a reformer like Bernie she would continue her opening moments lambasting the system and the banks and the insurance companies with clearly outlined programs to eliminate all the rot. She does not accomplish this. She just leaves you hanging, thinking she’s in favor of change when she’s only in favor of adaptations to prolong the rot. In terms of getting things done, Trump is closer to the sweet spot because he is smart enough to know we need to spend money asap.

    2. Romancing The Loan

      The real issue among my like-thinking pals is that we don’t believe her. In a sane system Warren would be a perfectly respectable Republican candidate running opposite Sanders, but as it stands even if she somehow managed to beat Trump it seems plain she’d be another Obama and all her fine promises will come to nothing. At best we’d get programs doling out capricious and meager help to the teeming hordes based on the “judgment” and “oversight” of upper-class failsons, the real intended recipients.

      1. NigelK

        Republican until 47. In the mid-90s. After 12 years of Reagan-Bush.
        Even if she’s sincere, I dont trust her judgement or instincts.

        1. urblintz

          She says she was a republican because she felt they did a better job with the economy and that she didn’t leave the GOP… the GOP left her. As you point out she remained a republican throughout the Reagan years so she must have believed in Reaganomics… and she became a Democrat as Clinton rebranded Reaganism (called it the third way, or Rubinomics) which, arguably, pushed the GOP even further into a loonyland which even she could not tolerate.

          Bill Clinton, the gift that keeps on giving

      2. Jason Boxman

        I certainly don’t trust her. Anyone that claims to be a capitalist isn’t what I’m looking for. And proposals like a two cent tax are weak tea. Why not 98 cents? Why have only a minority of workers on company boards? Why is Medicare for All just one way to “get there” for access? This stuff is a day late and a dollar short. The anti-corruption stuff would have been useful 30 years ago.

      1. Baby Gerald

        Perhaps you recall how scornful WARren was when Bernie decided to do a town hall on Fox? Rather than try to go on the opposition’s chief ‘news’ source, she scorns them as ‘fake news’ and their viewers as ill-informed racist deplorables. I’m sure there’s a clip somewhere on the YouTubes with her exact quote.

        Despite her plethora of plans, she can’t demean herself to explain them or their benefits to literally half the country. Maybe because she doesn’t have the courage of her convictions.

    3. Tom


      In addition, Taibbi argues that Americans hate experts. They have had it with experts telling them what’s good for them.

      She’s a status-quo candidate with more left policy than usual but she doesn’t propose real change to who’s running the place.

      It’s a pity because I really like her. She’s sincere, hard working, knows the subject matter, and is courageous.

      Agree about Treasury. Not so much about Veep. 1. The leadership argument you just made. 2. She’s wasted on that job.

      1. John k

        Good summation.
        I was a registered rep, coulda changed during bush 2, didn’t until 2016 primary.
        Now I’m far more progressive than she is, though seems she will say whatever she thinks will best move her forward. I’m getting hints of public and private views.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Agree 100% on VP. It’s a non-job. You go to funerals and secretly hope that the President’s will be one of them. She’d be a phenomenal Treasury Secretary or as a fallback, SEC Chairman.

        Warren is a tremendous talent and has great administrative skills. I am convinced that the Obama Administration tasked her to starting up the CFPB, which was a huge task, assuming she’d screw up badly enough that she’d disqualify herself as CFPB chief-in-waiting and when she pulled it off spectacularly, they were stuck and had to find another bright shiny object for her.

        And I agree re President. She’s cut from similar cloth to Obama. Talks a progressive game, and I think is vastly more sincere than she was. But she believes in technocrats, she listens to them way more than real people, and she’s said repeatedly that she loves markets, which means push to shove, she’s not on the side of ordinary folk, despite the fact that she may have genuine impulses that conflict with that view.

        If you look at her plans, there’s almost always a big gap between her analysis of the problem (which is compelling and says This Shit Is Really Bad) and her solutions, which fall way short of tacking the problem as she has defined it. There are some exceptions, like her private equity reforms, but not enough. So she winds up being an incrementalist, which is not what we need now.

    4. ewmayer

      Hmm, corruption versus capitalism … since we are talking about neoliberal capitalism, that strikes me as a distinction without a difference.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Your smart devices listening to you, explained”

    Sigh! The usual garbage. You want to know what it is like when you suddenly realize what your smart devices are doing to you? It is like this guy-

    Privacy is not something gifted but something that you must demand and insist upon. It is not something you throw away to make your life that little bit more “convenient”. Silicon Valley is not your friend and if you think that you have no problem letting them know more about your life than your entire family & friends because your life is like an open book, well, good luck with that. Edward Snowden said it best when he said-

    “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say”

    1. Cynthia

      Thanks for linking me to Stephen Cohen’s discussion on Russia and how she’s straddling the fence between East and West. It’s always refreshing to hear one of my very favorite foreign policy thinkers discuss this and other such matters regarding foreign policy.

  17. Jason Boxman

    Don’t be in the middle of eating when reading the depleted uranium story — the photos are graphic to drive home the point. Needs a not safe for breakfast warning.

    1. Dan

      But, isn’t depleted uranium part of the “carbon neutral” nuclear fuel cycle?

      Except for blasting, digging, transporting, refining, waste disposal, water well drilling, further refining, guarding, shipping, power plant building, guarding, fuel-loading, plant decommissioning, guarding, transporting, warning, burying and finger crossing for the future…

      “Hey! We can sell this half million year toxin to the Pentagon to shoot at our manufactured enemies!”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        No. Depleted uranium is not part of any nuclear fuel “cycle”. Depleted uranium is the non-fissionable uranium left over after U-235 has been extracted from the overall Uranium. The U-235 then goes into the fuel “cycle”.

        I have read that if alpha-particles from fissioning U235 nucleii hit U238 nucleii in just the right way, they turn those stable U238 nuceii into fissionizable Plutonium nucleii. Exploiting that process was the reason for the “fast” breeder reactor . . . to make Plutonium to extract for making bombs with.

        In the middle of his book Storms Of My Grandchildren, James Hansen devotes several pages to an approach to nuclear power which was being pursued at Argonne National Lab. It involved letting the generated Plutonium stay in the fuel rods or pellets and keep fissioning for usable heat, and destabilizing OTHER nucleii which would fission for heat and destabilized neighbors, till nothing of fissionable-for-heat value remained in the fuel and the residual radioactive waste amount was low enough that it could be safely stored, perhaps by vitrification and storage of the vitrified lumps.

        Hansen referred to this as the Full-Fast reactor, as against the so-called Fast-Breeder reactor . . . which should be better named the Half-Fast breeder reactor. Since the Half-Fast breeder reactor was only ever meant to produce plutonium for bombs. Whereas a Full-Fast Reactor would fissionize the Plutonium as it was produced and keep on fissioning the fissionizable daughter nucleii all the way down for all possible usable heat. There would be “no” plutonium and “no” depleted uranium, if I understand Hansen correctly.

        Hansen thinks that if anyone is serious about preventing runaway global heating leading to Endpoint Condition Venus, they will at least take a fresh look at “Full-Fast” Reactors.

        1. Dan

          Cool. I learned something new. Thank you.

          What’s the final end product of full fast? Lead, or something radioactive?

          I still don’t trust, like, want, believe, want to subsidize, live near or suffer from nuclear anything, other than a suntan.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Your description of the source of depleted uranium contradicts your claim. It’s what is left over from the processing – that is, part of the fuel cycle.

          One problem with fast breeders is that they are atomic bombs and can explode. There was one built in Michigan for a generator; there’s a book about it, called “The Day We Almost Lost Detroit.” It isn’t operating, fortunately.

          How long would it take to develop, locate, and build the technology Hansen is talking about? We don’t have even 10 years, the time to build a reactor now. And there WOULD be depleted uranium, because it comes out BEFORE the fuel is made. Could it be used up in a reactor of that type? Who knows?

          Finally, much of the radioactive waste from a reactor is not fissionable; on the contrary, the problem is that it breaks down slowly and so is radioactive for a very long time. A Hansen reactor would probably be a glowing mass by the time it was done.

          There is also a purely human argument against nuclear: we can’t really trust the people, because they’re merely human. My wife is a Hanford downwinder (still healthy, fortunately); some of those releases were absolutely intentional, to find out what would happen. And when business interests get involved…

          1. Susan the other`

            Thank you Oc. “Fast breeders are atomic bombs.” It sort of sounded like more “incomplete technology”.

    2. Dan

      But, isn’t depleted uranium part of the “carbon neutral” nuclear fuel cycle?

      Except for blasting, mining, digging, transporting, refining, guarding, shipping, loading, building, guarding, decommissioning, guarding, transporting, warning, burying and finger crossing for the next 500,000 years…

      “Hey! We can sell this half million year toxin to the Pentagon to shoot at our manufactured enemies!”

      1. UserFriendly

        Uranium, like many other heavy metals is chemically toxic, especially when used as a munition witch becomes an aerosol upon impact. It is perfectly safe as long as you don’t inhale it or get a projectile lodged in you.

    3. Rod

      is it any wonder that Iran would want to enrich Uranium if it can eventually provide so much armor busting ballistics??

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But it is the NON-enriched uranium LEFTovers . . . the dePLETED uranium . . . the U-238 . . . which is used for armor busting ballistics. If you just wanted uranium for busting armor, you could stop after isolating crude uranium from uranium ore. The crude uranium would be perfectly fine for balistically busting armor.

        You want to enRICH uranium, meaning get more of the U235 concentrated, so you can use it for nuclear power plant fuel . . . or atom bombs if enriched even further.

  18. Jason Boxman

    The traffic article is interesting, but people got around just fine before automatic trip rerouting. (I remember writing driving directions down, on paper, before traveling.) Rather than using even more technology (and public-private partnerships, oh yay!) to resolve it, why not ban trip rerouting entirely or simply nationalize trip planning. Each time technology breaks society, why must more technology necessarily be the solution? For that matter, ride-hailing adds to congestion, why not ban it entirely?

    The whole thing is yet another tragedy of the commons, with negative externalities dumped on society at large.

  19. jef

    Google Is releasing over a Billion tons of CO2 To Build Clean Data Centers In Europe.

    Yea! Now we need to get the rest of the world to follow googles example with the greening of the planet and the future will be BRIGHT!

    1. Dan

      You cannot build your way out of energy consumption and carbon production; unless you live or work in a tree house.

      “The production of 1 m³ of concrete requires 2,775 MegaJoules of energy. This energy comes mostly from oil burning, which generates CO2. 2.775 MJ of energy is produced by 0.37 barrels of oil.”

      The California Legislative solution: Let’s force the building of new transit oriented apartment blocks. People can move out of their suburban homes from which they must drive to work and can move into the new concrete towers to theoretically ride the nearby transit to jobs, or, more likely, use their car in the garage downstairs to drive to a distant job. Meanwhile, more “migrants” can move into their old suburban homes that can easily house several families and they can park their old SUVs and vans in the driveway, to drive to their distant jobs.

      That’s the situation that the new pro-developer laws in California are creating.

      “…it has been decided, mostly by self-described progressives, that suburban living is too unecological, not mention too uncool, and even too white for their future America. Density is their new holy grail…”

      1. Olga

        “You cannot build your way out of energy consumption and carbon production; unless you live or work in a tree house.”
        Not strictly true. Initially, at least, the issue is not about “building out,” but one of reducing consumption. The energy efficiency measures that had been implemented in the last 25 yrs have done wonders for lowering consumption overall (think higher efficiency appliances of LED lights). We could certainly start by doubling down on lowering energy usage, adding renewables, research into new or improved technologies, and then go from there… All of that is doable, the only thing lacking is political will.

        1. Dan

          Agreed Olga,

          But “Build” is the operative word. Pouring concrete and making steel, whether for windmill bases, buildings, railway ties or solar pods, is extremely energy intensive.

          Building means loans usually.

          There’s little financing profit in efficient lights, driving less etc. Financing means big profits and I think that’s where a lot of “political will” comes from.

          Have you seen this informative website about that actual amount of energy that goes into things with comparisons etc?
          See his sidebar posts re numbers:

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . how many billions of tons of CO2 will the Clean Data Centers in Europe preVENT the FURTHER emission of . . . after they are built up and running?

      As against . . . how many billions of tons of CO2 would Google’s present Dirty Data Centers in Europe emit over the same period of time if left unreplaced by clean ones?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Are all those cyber-resources still grinding out all those bitcoin transactions, at what kind of cost to the biosphere? How many megajoules and how much CO2 goes into the blockchain racket, again?

      2. VietnamVet

        If there was coordination, willingness to share, and an end to corporate/aristocrat rule; humans could plan for a future. Another glaring waste like bitcoin mining is the flaring of natural gas that is a by-product of fracking and oil drilling. It wastes energy that could be used if stored and piped plus polluting the atmosphere just to cut costs to petroleum industry. The methane leakage rules issued by EPA were purposefully dumped as was California’s increased gas mileage regulations by the Trump Administration. This will increase pollution and accelerate climate change. This has to stop.

  20. DJG

    The Birds and the Bees. The various articles here and elsewhere are describing soft climate-disruption denial as well as habitat-destruction denial. This is what happens when it is just too hard to care.

    –It is well known that insecticides like the neonicotinoids are killing the bees. The Europeans have led the way in getting rid of these toxins. Not so the U.S. These pesticides migrate quickly into other species.
    –Habitat destruction continues. Industrial agriculture in the U.S. tends to leave no hedges at the edges of fields. It is monocropping. There seems to be no diminution in subdivisions filled with giant box-houses.
    –The effects of feral cats and “outdoor” cats on the bird population has been documented, repeatedly. Yet our feeds consist of pix of Willard the WonderCat who likes to bring “gifts.” Multiply that by twenty million. The U.S. pet fetish is now ruining the environment.
    –Other than handwringing, what is the plan? Recently, an article about Atlantic puffins and climate change made the rounds. The birds were starving because their normal diet of certain species of fish had been disrupted by changes in ocean temperatures.

    I was working with some scientists on a book about ornithology. These ornithologists pointed out that there are rumors that some species no longer reproduce. What we are seeing is aging birds, the remnants of the species. Birds are long lived, longer than suspected, so the scientists were shocked to figure this out.

    We are a long way from Saint Francis and the Sermon to the Birds.

    1. T

      Didn’t break the paywall for NYT. Does the article mention the catastrophic effect of cities blocking migration patterns, creating long detours that mean many birds don’t make it?

      Domestic cats do not do well outside of urban areas. I’m more concerned about them preying on reptiles and amphibians, which I think have more similar populations in the “wild” and in the burbs. (For now. More birds are adapting to cities.)

      (In cities with coyotes, cats don’t do well, either.)

  21. show_me

    “Now that I think of it, fewer crows in Maine in the last two years…and they are omnivores and even eat carrion.”

    West Nile virus may be a cause of the decline in crow populations.

  22. chuck roast

    On the decline of the bird population…
    The critters all had a good summer up here in mid-coast Maine. The ospreys were ruling. Lots of fish around. Big ones too.
    I’m concerned about the seagulls though. I never had much use for the sky-rats, but I have developed a lot more respect for them. The arrival of green crabs has stressed them out, and stressed out the tidal eco-tone. Green crabs are like neutron bombs. All living creatures die, but the structural environment remains. Mussels, sea anemonies, starfish, blue crabs, razor clams, sand dollars, cherrystones, steamers, hermit crabs…all gone. Barnicales are the only living things left. Depressing and scary.
    Put out a bird feeder.

    1. Dan

      Harness your laziness for nature.
      Rather than cut it up to put it in a compost bin, or pay to have it hauled away, leave a decent sized brush pile with some gaps between branches in your yard.

      Many bird species will use it for shelter and nesting. It’ll eventually become soil.

  23. Dirk77

    Thanks the 737 MAX link, Yves. The author paints it as originating to a large degree with Stonecipher. I remember a little differently. But it would have been someone if not him. It’s hard to fight a generation’s worth of groupthink. Staying sane in a madhouse is possible only if you realize it’s a madhouse. Are there other cherished companies ready to fall or is Boeing the last?

    1. barrisj

      My word, yes! And the photo attached to TNR article of a 737 in a steep dive captured the import of crapification in its most deadly guise.

  24. Susan the other`

    Thank you for Wolfgang Streeck. It was long but it was so good. I don’t know another political economist who writes with such clarity. He gives you a long trail of facts leading from beginning to end and trusts you enough to follow him and understand his conclusions. No really very ideological or dogmatic. Just the facts. It does seem now that the EU and we (soon) will trade in our neoliberal competition for fiscal spending. Is it too soon to cheer? My takeaway is that the peasants with pitchforks mentality is akin to an inherited acquired characteristic. And all the neoliberal maneuvering to make capital the king of kings wasn’t even a contender.

  25. ewmayer

    “Investors and Bond-Rating Analysts Are Working to Quantify Risks from Climate Change | Urban Land (Kevin W)” — I smell a securitization scam in the works here: “OK, we have all these bonds whose risk profile suddenly becomes much worse than presented at time of issue when one factors in climate change – Florida coastal infrastructure bonds, for instance. So we take a mix of 99% of these ‘Nominally AAA, but DDD- under climate change risk scenario’ bonds, add in a 1% smidge of AAA bonds whose ratings are not impacted by climate change considerations, and pay our pals at the ratings agencies to bless the whole mess as AAA. Genius!”

  26. Charlie

    Re; Foreign Policy Resentment article:

    Well, given the bulk of “wealth” in those areas was due to financialization (i.e.,gambling), fraud (stock market and QE), and the exploitation of the third wold immigrant labor, one can point to moral failings within the wealthy urban areas.

    Of course, foreign policy mag would like to keep the onus off the failings of the rich as key to the rise in populism.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The West Has a Resentment Epidemic”

    Growing inequality—and hostility—between urban and rural regions? Oddly, no mention of how some urban centers act as wealth pumps in their country. London sucks up the wealth for most of the country and leaves impoverishment in their wake which is why you got Brexit as most people felt like they had little to lose. Paris does the same for France and ignores the wants and even the basic needs of those that do not live in the “right” areas. And how much of America is being reduced to Turd World standards so that places like New York can go from fantastically wealthy to fabulously wealthy?
    All this is not regional differentiation. It is class differentiation. That is why you have a Trump in America – and a Sanders. Go knows what will happen in America if a bunch of policy wonks in Washington and New York decide that what America really needs is a massive dose of austerity like they did in the UK. In all fairness this article does say that a partial solution would be to stop neglecting all those regions and spread out some of the prosperity those urban areas have but I doubt that this will ever happen. There is far too much resentment in those urban centers over those “less deserving” regional areas and corporations would seek to hijack any funds allocated to regional areas using public/private partnerships – and governments would let them.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “New Study Documents Depleted Uranium Impacts on Children in Iraq”

    Not just Iraq. They are still trying to clean up all the estimated 13-15 tonnes of depleted uranium dropped on the Balkans and that was way back in the 90s. It can even contaminate water supplies and is really nasty stuff. I think that NATO has said that it is not their problem-

    Coalition troops were also exposed to the stuff and one online source talks about 366 dead Italians who were in the Balkans and 7,500 sick. As I said, really nasty stuff-

    The Pentagon, however, seems addicted to it. Months after promising not to use them again, they went ahead and used thousands of rounds of DU in Syria again-

  29. Tomonthebeach

    Wild Things Were, Humans Are Now. Article.

    It’s late, and probably nobody will see this, but I thought I would beg the question of this article anyway. It keeps referring to the Natural World as if humans are not part of the Natural World. Of course, we are, part of the Natural World, so displacing other critters on the planet is just evolution.

    Before anyone goes pearl-clutchy, lots of critters went extinct before homo sapiens ever appeared (hopped of a Scientology Spacecraft, or slithered ashore from primordial ooze).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Probably goes back to that Bible thingy where it talks about dominion and makes plain that there is a “natural” divide-

      “And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

      So when it was asked “Who made you the Boss of the natural world?” the answer was always that God did which seemed an acceptable answer for the past few thousands of years.

  30. jackbrown

    That Boeing piece is one of those rage-reads that get me so steamed up I have to pause every ten minutes and calm down before I can keep going.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      There is curious statement near the end of the link: [“Crash Course: How Boeing’s managerial revolution created the 737 MAX disaster”]:
      “It’s [the financialization of management?] what happens to every well-intentioned half-measure to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change.”
      If I am guessing correctly at its meaning, the capture of “every well-intentioned half-measure to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change” for financial gains is something I am growing particularly concerned about.

      As for the impacts of the financialization and ongoing looting of U.S. industry — my first impulse isn’t rage but despair for the future. I’ve seen close up the devastation these processes have had on places like Fort Wayne and I have worked as a contractor at several of the large Corporations where the Corporate management adhered to the philosophies of this pirate ideology — GM, GE, Magnavox, Lucent. I had more job security as a contractor than directs with ten and twenty years of commitment to the Corporation. As a contractor I could be discarded at any time. Direct employees were more difficult to lay-off which meant that anytime they could be discarded on some pretext — they were sent out the backdoor first.

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