Links 9/28/19

Orangutan with human rights to begin new life in Florida BBC

The Octopus: An Alien Among Us Literary Hub (furzy)

The Glow-In-The-Dark Kitty Smithsonian (furzy)

New NASA Visualisation of a Black Hole Is So Beautiful We Could Cry New Scientist (furzy)

Solution: ‘Perfect Randomness’ Quanta Magazine (David L)

Neutrino Experiment Reveals (Again) That Something Is Missing from Our Universe Live Science

Nestle Steps Up Coffee Bean Testing on Glyphosate Concerns Bloomberg (Brian C)

Study gets to root of rice’s resilience to floods PhysOrg (David L)

Teething gels can contain ‘potentially harmful ingredients’, dentists and researchers warn Independent

How to Develop an Appetite for Insects New York Times (resilc). Even sawdust tastes good with enough clotted cream on it. In all seriousness, the only thing in the insect category that I have had is fried grasshopper, which is a lot like eating fried shrimp tails.


White House Weighs Limits on U.S. Portfolio Flows Into China Bloomberg

Stocks tumble as US-China tensions escalate Business Insider

Japan and EU sign deal in riposte to China’s Belt and Road Financial Times


Five things Boris Johnson does that would land anyone else in the sh*t Daily Mash

Brexit: The Sound and Fury, and Boris Johnson’s choices Terry Connolley, RTE

Boris Johnson to keep Irish backstop plan a secret until after next week’s Tory conference ‘to avoid a row with hardline Brexiteers’ The Sun.Wake me if this proves to be real….i.e., Johnson accepting the “sea border”.

Dublin suggests says the UK could have to stay part of the EU for four years after a Brexit deal is agreed Telegraph. Four years is wildly optimistic. We’ve discussed how the transition period is so short v. the time it would take to cement a new deal that it amounts to setting a later crash out date.

This Supreme Court ruling is a car crash for the Conservatives The Times

Cunning Nigel Farage could yet outfox everyone The Times (furzy)


U.S. Interests in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria Chas W. Freeman, Jr.(Chuck L). Today’s must read.

Afghanistan elections: Polls open amid threats from Taliban DW

Nearly 2,000 arrested as Egypt braces for anti-Sisi protests Al Jazeera

The Military Officials Who Knew Saudi Arabia Would Fail American Conservative (resilc)

Saudi Arabia will issue tourist visas for the first time Fort Russ. But Experience Saudi Arabia! Don’t do it… (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

10 Ways that the Climate Crisis and Militarism are Intertwined CounterPunch (resilc)

A Stronger America Needs ‘Strong Towns First American Conservative. Resilc: “Spending a trillion a year on the dod does nothing but make the whole country weaker. Only the DC suburbs thrive.”

Trump Transition

Judge issues setback to Trump child migrant policy BBC

Impeachment Saber-Rattling

The Problem With Impeachment Chris Hedges, Truthdig (furzy, John Z)

Would ousting Trump rebuild the country’s faith in government? Lessons from Latin America The Conversation

White House restricted access to Trump’s calls with Putin and Saudi crown prince CNN

‘I wish he would shut the heck up’: Republicans sour on Giuliani Politico (resilc)

Democrats subpoena Pompeo for Ukraine documents The Hill

House Subpoenas Ukraine Documents from Sec. Pompeo (Kevin C). The letter proper.

Ukraine’s prosecutor says no probe into Biden MSN (Kevin C)

“It’s Management Bedlam”: Madness at Fox News as Trump Faces Impeachment Vanity Fair (resilc)

Intel Community Secretly Gutted Requirement Of First-Hand Whistleblower Knowledge The Federalist (Troy P)

‘They lost the election, now they want to STEAL this one’: Trump targets Democrats in impeachment ad RT (Kevin W)


Rep. Gabbard: ‘Haven’t seen much’ evidence that Sen. Warren qualified to be Commander in Chief YouTube (UserFriendly). This is hardly the most important comment but: Great suit. Women so often wear jackets with crap tailoring. This is a power signal that women too often don’t get at all.

Tulsi Gabbard: Transcript does not show ‘compelling’ case for impeachment YouTube. UserFriendly: “Which she had to walk back/ cave on already.”


PUBLIC RETIREMENT FUNDS AND UNIVERSITIES ARE FINANCING EMPOWER TEXANS, A FAR-RIGHT LOBBYING GROUP, NEW REPORT REVEALS Intercept (Paul R) This is not really news. PE squillionaires often back really nasty policies. But optics particularly poor since CalPERS and many other funds are wrapping themselves in the mantel of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, and these guys are and anti abortion and LGBTQ.

Sacramento’s Capitol Mall is home to a giant, gaping hole. When will CalPERS fill it? Sacramento Bee (Kevin W). Editorial.

Beautiful people don’t always win in the workplace The Conversation

IPO crashes send chills from Wall Street to Silicon Valley Financial Times

The Heat Death of 5G Digits to Dollars. Another must read.

Class Warfare

The Fetishization of Employer-Provided Health Care New Republic. Love the subhead: “Democrats continue to entrench their support for a health care system in which class warfare is a pre-existing condition.”

Why France’s 20- and 30-somethings hate the Yellow Vests The Saker. Kevin W: “I wonder if you would have the same dynamic at work if American yellow vests were doing this in San Francisco?”

CEO who cut his own salary to give out raises extends $70K minimum salary to new employees The Hill. UserFriendly: “I nominate him for CEO of every company.”

Antidote du jour. Cliff V: “Seen recently in the garden. It was a good year for frogs.”

And a bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. ambrit

    At last! A technophilic reason to oppose 5G! Heat!
    Will asbestos underwear come into fashion? Itchy “down there,” but in a ‘good’ way!

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I haven’t been following the tech news lately, but I did read a few comments wondering why Apple hasn’t gone for 5G compatibility with its new range of phones. I wonder if they share the doubts expressed in that article. It would certainly be a big deal if some phones started going on fire, which would seem inevitable if no solution is found.

      1. ambrit

        Any breakthrough cooling solution for the phone batteries could be applied to electric automobile batteries as well.
        5G has too many negative effects to be long term feasible. 3G is good enough for the average ‘consumer.’ Anyone needing more can sit down at an old fashioned desktop PC and concentrate all their attention on one thing at a time. My experiences on “the street” have taught me that one activity that should never be a part of a multi-tasking regime is driving. Dodging idiots texting and driving is bad enough. Imagine how bad it will be when those same idiots try to play video games and drive simultaneously! I for one don’t want to be a real life Pac Man.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        If anybody is in the market for a new phone but doesn’t want to shell out a grand plus.
        Check out the Samsung A70, it has a huge battery, 2.5mm plug and goes for around 350.

        1. ambrit

          Curious that. $350 is cheap now. I have bought automobiles for less than that and driven them home to work on. I guess that I’m just a decrepit relic now.

          1. inode_buddha

            You too?

            BTW I really wish people would learn simple physics…

            every cell phone you’ve ever seen, operates in the same band as your microwave. The wiring in your walls puts out more radiation. The wiring at the mall, or under any phone pole, puts out more.

            1. ambrit

              Yeah, me too.
              I once met a man who had built his bedroom, which was situated at the highest point in his multi story house, in the shape of a pyramid, with the bed situated in the ‘focal’ spot. He had also lined the top third of the room, the ‘pyramidion,’ or ‘benbenet’ to speakers of ancient Egyptian, with gold leaf. He claimed all sorts of miraculous propertied for that arraingement. I’m now wondering if perhaps he, and his occult predecessors, had in fact discovered some sort of ‘natural’ Farraday cage effect?

              1. sleepy

                I knew a guy who once built an orgone box faithfully based on Wilhelm Reich’s instructions. His girlfriend claimed the box gave her an std. Lol.

                The same guy built an orgone collector on the lake near lakefront airport. It had long metal rods running down into the water and then up into the air. Looked like an anti-aircraft gun which is what the authorities thought, being next to the airport, when they paid him a visit.

                That was almost 50 yrs. ago and the cops laughed it off. Today, I doubt it.

            2. kevin

              But you don’t hold the “wiring in your walls” to you face for an hour a day.

              I’m by no means an expert, but the electromagnetic radiation crowd makes some solid points

      3. Krytstyn Walentka

        Apple knows that 5G is hype. They are focused on another (just as harmful) radio frequency, Ultra-Wide Band, that they quietly stuck in the iPhone 11. It uses less power and provides more functionality for the average sucker than 5G. “It can track your dog, it can track you spouse”, etc…

      4. Mike

        Pretty sure Apple’s reticence is based on cost and how they could do it “differently”.

        Since it’s the banks and finance demanding such speeds, and 4G is fast enough if you give it full reign, this seems to me another wild pre-nup for tech’s marriage/melding to big finance.

      5. Oregoncharles

        Solution: water cooling!

        More seriously: this probably means they can’t use lithium hydride batteries – the ones that catch fire.

    2. Carolinian

      mmWave frequencies are pretty close to microwave frequencies

      Will 5g coverage areas be a kind of giant microwave oven? It is said when radar–which also uses microwaves–was introduced during WW2 that sailors on US warships would stand in front of the ship’s radar antenna to warm up during cold watches. Then there’s the question of whether those overheating lithium smartphone batteries will catch fire in your back pocket. Perhaps it’s time for a concerned public to start asking more questions about this crazy boondoggle.

      1. xkeyscored

        No, 5G won’t cause a huge microwave oven. Sailors did use radar to warm their sandwiches, which led to the realisation that microwaves could be used for cooking (or so they say). But that was largely because the radar of the day was dirty, composed of a wide mix of frequencies. 5G has very specific frequencies, which don’t affect water in the way microwave ovens do.
        Which isn’t to say that 5G devices won’t get hot, or that the amount of data stored and transmitted won’t increase dramatically, inevitably (laws of physics) leading to a lot more heat somewhere. (Well, not quite inevitably.)
        Around 10% of the world’s total electricity consumption is being used by the internet, according to a recent research report from Swedish KTH. The numbers have grown from 8% in 2012, illustrating the increasing effects of the internet’s rapid growth.

        1. lambert strether

          From the end of the article:

          Dissipation is just the idea of moving the heat around to hasten air cooling. In a PC, this is typified by those funny looking prong-things that sit on top of CPUs. Those things are too tall to fit inside a 10mm thick phone. So for mobiles, OEMs are looking at using ‘straws’, or copper pipes that span the length of the phone. These take up a lot of space and inserting a large conductive element (copper!) inside a phone wreaks havoc on mobile radios, (i.e. hurting data rates).

          So a 5G phone will have what seems to be an exhaust pipe made of copper, emitting heat near my …. pants?

          1. ewmayer

            “So a 5G phone will have what seems to be an exhaust pipe made of copper” — No, the copper piping makes for an internal heat spreader, whose aim is to essentially turn the entire phone exterior case into a giant single cooling fin. I first encountered this in the Samsung Galaxy S7 – it really is quite amazing tech:

            “The most important part of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge’s cooling system is the thermal spreader (Heat Pipe) […] Unlike the conventional thermal spread sheet technology, the thermal spreader uses changes in the phases of water to radiate heat. It has a porous structure on the inside where water absorbs heat, turns into steam and moves through pipes. After losing heat, the steam liquefies, and turns back into water in the structure. This continuous cycle dispels heat. Generally, its thermal conductivity is more than 50 times higher than that of copper [heat sinks]. The entire process happens inside the small space that is only 0.2mm wide.”

        2. Carolinian

          I bow to your expertise but someone did just put a hang tag on my door knob saying the neighborhood should be up in arms about proposed 5g and that “5G towers emit non-ionizing radio frequency radiation which the World Health Organization classifies as a Class 2B carcinogen.” So there. You heard it from the hang tag.

          There are web scare articles on this but the main argument seems to be that nobody wants or needs this other than telecom greedheads. Also the antennas are supposedly big and ugly and frequent.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps we need more precise and fine-grained language to discuss the particular effects of different things and forces on different parts and stages of the cancer process.

            I wouldn’t think that non-ionizing radio frequency radiation would be a carcinoGEN . . . I should think that it would be a carcinoACCELERANT or a carcinoPROPELLANT. It would cause any tiny little few-cancer-cell clusters to blossom forth into metatastic magnificence.
            But it wouldn’t carcino-initiate the first carcinomic mutation, would it?

          1. mpalomar

            Remarkable indeed. From wiki:
            – “He invented the instrument for the purpose of heating up frozen hamsters in a way that caused less suffering to the animals, as opposed to the traditional way which involved putting red hot spoons on the animals’ chest to heat them up. He believes that at the time, nobody had gone that far and made an embodiment of an actual microwave oven.”

            1. bassmule

              Lovelock? Percy Spencer (a very distant relative) did. For Raytheon. As is mentioned in the wiki entry–and I know this only as family lore–he noticed a candy bar melting in his shirt pocket. At which point Great Uncle Sumner usually said that if it was him, he’d have run out of the room.


              1. mpalomar

                “In the mid-1950s, Lovelock experimented with the cryopreservation of rodents, determining that hamsters could be frozen with 60% of the water in the brain crystallized into ice with no adverse effects recorded. Other organs were shown to be susceptible to damage. The results were influential in the theories of cryonics…On 8 May 2012, he appeared on the Radio Four series The Life Scientific, talking to Jim al-Khalili about the Gaia hypothesis. On the programme, he mentioned how his ideas had been received by various people, including Jonathan Porritt. He also mentioned how he had a claim for inventing the microwave oven.”

          2. Paul O

            There is a short recent interview clip here (not sure about access outside UK)

            He also just published a short new book – Novacene.

      2. chuck roast

        I am reminded of the rash of testicular cancer cases several years ago amongst cops. After significant research, it turned out that cops, after pointing their radar guns at motorists would then rest the radar guns in their respective crotches while awaiting the next motorist.
        And the punch line is…
        Whoops! I think that the Rev scored below.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I wouldn’t keep a 5G mobile in your pocket. Otherwise your first warning may be the smell of roasted nuts!

    4. Wyoming

      Simple fix.

      Insert a miniature black hole in each phone to suck the heat away. :) Would actually solve more than just the heat problem too….

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      Instead of asbestos underwear, I think my new line of Tech Briefs [Yes, thank you for asking — still having trouble dealing with NASA for rights on this name] might be what you need. Tech Brief underwear feature a full Kevlar rear panel to cover and protect your ass. There’s a built-in cushion in the seat for those long days of sitting and of course the kevlar is rip-stop and wear resistant — just like the best tactical gear. The built-in underwear suspenders keep your shorts up — unless you want to let them down. Tech Briefs are available in a full range of colors and sizes from small to XXXXXXL and XXXXXXW.

  2. kimyo

    ‘System is not broken’ after 737 MAX crashes: review panel chair

    Speaking on the sidelines of an event at a New York City college, Christopher Hart, chair of the multi-agency panel, said there was no need to question the agency’s overall way of certifying airplanes.

    Asked by a student whether passengers can be expected to fly again on a 737 MAX, Hart said he predicted people would “sooner or later forget” about the crashes and investigations.

    “This will be the safest airplane out there by the time it has to go through all the hoops and hurdles,” he said.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Some people will forget. Some people will remember.

      Hopefully there will be tipoff services to alert the people who remember . . . . about where the 737 SuperMaxes are and all the specific flights of all the specific airlines they are used on.

      I suspect this will be just one more Darwin Filter in a world full of Darwin Filters.

  3. none

    Fair comment about Gabbard’s jacket. I used to cringe at her because of that lei she wore now and then (“look at me, I’m different”). She still says “commander in chief” way too often, like in the Giuliani joke (a noun, a verb…). But she is in many ways the best of the candidates out there. She and Sanders are the only ones I’m sure I could vote for. Warren is at best maybe. I hope the Warren/Clinton trial ballons on twitter are a joke.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I assume the white suit is also intended as a reference to the sufferage movement…

        She makes the suit look sharp. Not everyone can wear a white suit and get away with it, even in summer.

        1. T

          They said that about something Hillary wore, too. A few of the uber bosses of me have stylists who advise occasionally wearing white because “no one else does.” The theory is anytime some looks around the room, you are instantly recognizable.

          One of things that makes me want to get into the professional coaching racquet.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        That saying applies to white shoes and the white purses assumed to go with the white shoes.

        I had a white wool suit when I was young (not as white as hers but you would not call it any other color) and it was clearly intended for cooler season wear.

        I was told not to wear a white jacket on TV (like not wearing stripes or checks) but this looks like be old advice. Wonder if it’s OK with HD or she knew the studio lighting.

        1. rowlf

          Older TV camera technology had a hard time with white as it was very hot on the screen but that was 1981 when I ran into that in a broadcast class at Rutgers.

        2. Big River Bandido

          I think part of the reason she wears it so well is that the contrast with her hair and complexion flatters both her face and the clothes. I love wearing white, but with my skin and hair only certain (“off-white”) shades work — too bright and I appear blanched out. The “white” of her suit is a very bright one but she could probably wear any shade of white and make it work well.

    1. rusti

      Krystal Ball (her real name, her dad was a physicist working with crystals) seems to be one of the few people in the media with a conscience and a backbone. She called out the Clinton campaign in 2014 for being tone-deaf, as was posted here on NC a while back, and more recently was on Bill Maher’s show and argued against Maher’s moronic idea of nominating Klobuchar as a strong candidate for the general election. She was interviewed by Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper on their podcast last week which is worth a listen.

    2. foghorn longhorn

      Ambrit called this earlier this year, they just need to clear out the bidens first.
      Impeach the orangutan, since they can’t beat him in an election.
      That’s why they’re going for the Ukrainian twofer.
      Then we get a clinton/warren ticket, and the wars can continue unabated.

      1. ambrit

        I sincerely hope that I was/am wrong about the “Queen of the Undead” rising from her mausoleum to run again. However, I have learned that one cannot be too cynical, especially as concerns politics.
        What is of interest to me is, how can the Impeachment lead to a Senate conviction without the defection a a bloc of Republicans? Is the Democrat nomenklature going to “do a deal” with the old guard Republican power brokers?
        Thinking way outside the box here, but, consider this. The “Man of Orange” is impeached and convicted. Then President Pence has an unfortunate ride on a small aircraft. Voila! President Pelosi! Will La Presidenta Primera make way for the Undead One, or does she fight with all the occult tools in her possession to maintain power?
        Now that would be a Godzilla versus Rodan sized battle. I’d even buy the overpriced theatre popcorn to watch that scenario unfold.

        1. Clive

          Yes, unfortunately you’re correct — some of these political zombies refuse to stay in their final career resting places. There’s always somebody threatening to reanimate them.

          As a lesson from your old origins across the water, you’d not believe the long forgotten dinosaurs which are being dug up here — all in the cause of providing “safe pairs of hands” “temporary” “national unity” candidates, due to the “crisis”.

          1. ambrit

            Oh my yes. The Shade of John Major walks! It is not even All Hallow’s Eve yet! To paraphrase Marx; a Spectre is haunting Whitehall. Where oh where I ask is a Happy Medium? The Signs and Portents are dire.
            Anyone claiming to “channel” Harold Wilson’s ghost yet?

    3. ahimsa

      Unsure if this is sarc about Ball’s voice to counterpoint commentary about Gabbard’s clothing/appearance or if this is just shoddy rhetorik.

      “A voice of such surpassing ugliness”. That’s your considered point – really?

      Lambert, could you please give the link again to the online reference of rhetorical devices you have posted before.
      (I have tried googling, but Google being what it is..)

      1. Dan

        Gabbard has never said, “I served for 15 years, but you never did…”
        That would be devastating and a cheap shot.

        Then how about a minimum of two family members serving in combat units if you are allowed to vote in the house or senate for war?

        Buttgeig, the take votes away from Bernie, CIA candidate, was basically a driver for military brass, doesn’t count.

      2. ewmayer

        Did you mean to say “I loathe the implied suggestion that military service is a prerequisite for political leadership” or is your autocorrect just happy to see me?

    4. Matthew

      Does Warren think she would live more than two years past her inauguration if she made Hillary her running mate?

  4. Lee

    How to Develop an Appetite for Insects New York Times (resilc). Even sawdust tastes good with enough clotted cream on it. In all seriousness, the only thing in the insect category that I have had is fried grasshopper, which is a lot like eating fried shrimp tails

    Lake Victoria shoreline residents supplement their low protein diets with monthly feasts on lake fly burgers, which contain 7 times the protein of beef burgers.

      1. Lee

        No doubt. As much as I am an admirer of and advocate for the conservation of charismatic mega-vertebrates, it is the loss of these little critters at the base of the food chain, both terrestrial and perhaps more importantly in the oceans, that may well be the major factor in our undoing.

    1. xkeyscored

      I’ve tried quite a few insects, and some are quite yummy. I’d say grasshoppers/crickets are among the tastiest, with a flavour like potato crisps (US potato chips?).

      1. Olga

        I stayed away from grasshoppers in Japan – just couldn’t… Mexico has bugs on offer, too. Somehow it is hard not to see this as an effort to steer the 99% towards bugs, so that 1% can continue to consume streak. Dunno… Plus, true, we’d just probably “over-fish” them like we did the oceans.

            1. foghorn longhorn

              Have heard that the cannibals of the world refer to us as ‘long pigs’.
              Bon appetit.
              The vegetarians probably taste more like beef.

        1. xkeyscored

          Personally, as a near vegetarian for many decades, I’m happier eating insects than cows. And I find it weird that cow eaters have such a yuk response to insects.
          As for over-fishing them, where I am crickets are in sharp decline, but that’s probably more a result of pesticides and habitat loss than human over consumption. Compared to most sources, they’re very efficient in terms of resources used per kilo of protein, meaning in effect less reason for over-fishing.

        1. polecat

          Waterbugs are used in Indonesia as a constituent it the making of various relishes … tastes of ripe bananas, so I’ve read.

          1. Oregoncharles

            In Thailand they eat giant cockroaches – a real delicacy, apparently.

            In other cultures, eating insects is very common; there are, after all, an awfully lot of them. Or were.

            1. Procopius

              They aren’t really cockroaches, although they do look like them. I was interested to watch my first wife when she was buying them in the market. Apparently you can tell by smell how fresh they are.

      1. kgw

        Was watching a food guy deep in Mexico, off the beaten path…At the open market in the village, a woman had a basket of beetles that she had to keep corralling back into the basket. The food guy had a taco prepared for himself, and right before serving, the chef threw a beetle in, folded it, and smacked the taco, thus releasing the beetle’s bitter juices…YMMV.

        1. xkeyscored

          I’ve had red ants caught and pounded up and used like chili powder dip. Pretty good, though the precise type of ant may come into it.

          1. polecat

            jeeze .. no need to indulge in vinegar and chipotle chips then, I guess …. assuming they were Fire Ants.

    2. rd

      Canada and Finland are baking bread with cricket flour. It basically just tastes like bread. Colloquially known in Canada as “bug bread”. The Finnish probably have a long word with lots of consonants for it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I actually agree there. So long as those very small towns were near it and not on the other side of the country – or even overseas for that matter.

  5. bassmule

    From the CNN story:

    “White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter. Those calls — both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump — were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.”

    This is not an intra-elite squabble.

    1. Pat

      Really? I am pretty sure it is. I don’t remember major mainstream news outlets obsessing with Obama’s broadening of the deliberative process exemption until historians pointed it out after he left office. Nor do I remember any demands for access to his phone calls and private conversations (as in outside public events) with leaders from other countries. Perhaps there should have been, but Trump does face scrutiny that his predecessors didn’t not just because he is untrustworthy, Obama and Bush weren’t either, but because he is unapproved and not one of the group.

      1. David

        Er, if your government gets a reputation for releasing records of calls with other leaders, then quite quickly there won’t be any calls with other leaders.

        1. jashley

          Yes, I think all Potus calls from the Bush(the lessor) should be made public.
          What exactly did he say to Blair and the other toadies.

          As to Obama(the drone master killer ) what did him and Putin and the others speak of and while we are at it I believe the calls of the Sec of State also should be made public.
          I have fourth hand info that there were serious crimes being aired on those calls.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Or perhaps a transcript Bush/Cheney’s order to allow 13 close relatives of the Bin Laden family to flee the country by private jet when the rest of US airspace was closed

        2. marym

          There’s a general protocol for the phone calls. One element is a read-out made public by each side. Occassionally during the Trump years there have been comparisons of two read-outs.

          From Obama staffer: Link

          “Head-of-state phone calls are a big-ticket item, scheduled rarely, and meant to open the way for a significant new agenda, to close a tough deal, or to manage a crisis that affects America’s national security. Preparation for such calls is carefully managed, drawing on experts across the government’s national-security community to winnow down the agenda to issues that only the president can litigate, coordinate talking points and positions among colleagues, and ensure that there will be no surprises from foreign counterparts.

          The transcript of President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, too, looks eerily familiar. Note takers in the White House Situation Room collaborate with NSC directors and use speech-to-text software to pull together a working transcript that chronicles the call, a great resource when listening to translations. NSC and press experts quickly draft a public read-out of the discussion, attempting to shaping the message for a range of audiences. Summaries and records of presidential calls are in high demand among government officials, who use them as a map to plan their next steps. They are usually shared briefly and informally among colleagues and then more formally at senior-leader levels, when memos for the record are complete.”

          Examples from Obama and Bush administrations: Link

          1. David

            Governments vary in the amount of detail that they release, but any public statement is usually anodyne, with the really interesting stuff kept confidential unless it’s politically interesting to publish it. There also has to be advance agreement that a sanitized version of the conversation will be made public. In my experience, few countries have the level of resources that the US can command, and most would have one or two people at most taking notes and writing up a summary later. That would certainly be true of the Ukraine.

            1. marym

              Apologies if I misinterpreted what you meant by “releasing records of calls.” No intent to imply (nor did the links indicate) that every word of the conversations was made public.

              1. Off The Street

                Re-leasing those calls would concern me more. There is value to domestic and foreign listeners in knowing the details, and in keeping others from knowing the same. That incentive is behind many attempts to infiltrate, exfiltrate and otherwise filter information.

          2. jashley

            ” Preparation for such calls is carefully managed, drawing on experts across the government’s national-security community to winnow down the agenda to issues that only the president can litigate, coordinate talking points and positions among colleagues, and ensure that there will be no surprises from foreign counterparts.”

            IN other words, the very scenario any intelligent and wary leader would wish to avoid.

            I can assure you that the pap pushed out of these hide bound clowns in the perm state positions is something to be avoided at all costs.

            If you suspected a mafia style multiple billions rip off in the past with most of the same perm worthies in position, Ya can’t fire them, then why???

            After all, that process has worked so well in the past.

            1. marym

              Having career professionals, political appointees with expertise, and a process for preparation, record keeping and review seems like a good idea. Of course it depends on the degree of integrity of the participants and the leader. That’s no less true with a leader who dispenses with most of that.

      2. Chris Hargens

        I think the issue at hand is the exceptional treatment of these calls. For example, according to CNN, “In the case of Trump’s call with bin Salman, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.
        The call — which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets — came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government”.

        1. GF

          Correct me if I’m wrong on this; but, aren’t transcripts and tapes of phone calls collected and archived to eventually end up at the Library of Congress or the presidential library after the president leaves office? Then research can be conducted (usually many years after the fact) into what was said. With the passing of time better context is available as to the calls relevance to whatever the researcher is looking into.

          What I read a month or so ago is that Obama will not allow research at his new library so there’s that issue.

          1. Chris Hargens

            Obama will not allow research at his new library? Not surprising inasmuch as its true purpose is to serve as a monument to his presidency.

          2. ChiGal in Carolina

            it’s not a Presidential Library, it’s a Presidential Center. his papers will be at the Library of Congress.

            the OPC will be the Davos of the Midwest.

          3. jashley

            So in the fullness of time you can just do over any votes you have made.

            The whole security “thing” is a fraud to protect those who need cover.
            All of them.

            That’s the problem with big gvt and big dod , you can’t know what they are up to until 50 years later.
            Lot of good that does you.

          4. Big River Bandido

            At most, there are only 6 presidents who are known to have recorded their phone calls, and three of them (FDR, Truman and Eisenhower) only recorded a handful. Only Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon taped any significant number of calls.

            In that last case, disaster ensued. Presidents ever since have assiduously avoided the practice and go to great lengths to not leave such trails behind.

        2. jashley

          If you had a record of everything leaking at once why would you not try to stop that.
          Should one just give up?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      If you read the FT version story, buried at the end, the White House staff did this after info from phone calls with the PM of Australia and Mexico were leaked to the press. So there is a reason or at least excuse, but you’d need to see if the record of every call to a national leader was moved over to the private system after a certain date. Otherwise the cherry picking looks sus even if there was a justification of sorts.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I find myself in complete disbelief that we as a nation are going to spend the next year figuring out precisely how many angels can fit on the head of the presidential phone call pin while the planet and the middle class are ablaze

        1. PlutoniumKun


          The political class will love this. It will be a gigantic energy and news time suck. All the while the real issues will be ignored. And what will it lead to? President Pence.

  6. xkeyscored

    U.S. Interests in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria
    “In the end, our interests in Afghanistan seem to have come down to avoiding having to admit defeat, keeping faith with Afghans whose hopes we raised to unrealistic levels, and protecting those who have collaborated with us. In other words, we have acted in accordance with what behavioral economists call “the fallacy of sunk costs.” … To justify the continuation of costly but unsuccessful policies, our leaders have cited the definitive argument of all losers, the need to preserve “credibility.” … By hanging around in Afghanistan, we have indeed demonstrated that we value obduracy above strategy, wisdom, and tactical flexibility. It is hard to argue this this has enhanced our reputation internationally.”
    Reminds me of Nixon realising the US couldn’t win in Vietnam, instead going for Peace with Honor, ie. another million or so dead in Indochina. I think the effect on the US’ reputation is calculated and deliberate – we might not be able to defeat you or achieve anything positive, but we sure know how to inflict pain.

    1. Craig H.

      I had a hard time reading this article beginning at sentence number two.

      For some reason, our government has never been able to articulate these interests, but, judging by the fiscal priority Americans have assigned to these three countries in this century, they must be immense – almost transcendent.

      This is false. The reason the government does not articulate the interests is it is embarrassing to admit you are doing imperial shit. The Romans always invaded their neighbors to make things easier for themselves and they called it making peaThe Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezińskice. There ain’t nothing subtle about the reasoning.

      This court lick-spittle explained the game plan in Iraq a long time ago:

      The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzeziński

      1. Chris Hargens

        “…they must be immense – almost transcendent.” I read this as sarcasm. BTW, I like the author’s locution “enemy deprivation syndrome.”

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        “The Romans always invaded their neighbors to make things easier for themselves and they called it making peace …”
        What Imperial interests have our many wars served? The Romans did their Imperial shit “to make things easier for themselves”. I think the article made clear U.S. wars in the Middle East have done anything but make things easier for the Empire. Indeed the article details how the wars have worked to undermine Imperial interests and benefited very few in the Empire at great cost.
        “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” as Wilfred Owens says.

        1. C

          IMHO the closest analogue to EEUU foreign policy debacle is Wall St circa 2006. Anyone with half a brain knew the system was over leveraged and the risk models worthless; but there were checks to be cashed. Similarly, the denizens of northern Virginia, or wherever the MIC resides, have checks to cash and town houses to buy. Their faith in the primacy of EEUU arms; the purchasing strength of the $; and the inability of their adversaries to cause them harm has been proven wrong repeatedly. But like mortgage banker in 2006, they can’t see past their index finger hitting the ATM. The country has always been and will always be a grift. Until it’s no more

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I draw attention to the Truman Committee, and the “waste” it found when we were trying to win. Imagine how things have been since 2001. There are stories about charter school fraud and bizarre super intendent search firms, but I’ll be bold and suggest they mean nothing compared to this.

          C’mon intelligence chairman and noted Iraq War supporter, Adam Schiff, hasn’t used his position to investigate the lead up to the Iraq War. How strange…

          When you are talking about the supply of grain or swords, people know what they cost. How much does the super secret stealth coating cost?

          1. Procopius

            The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued periodic reports detailing waste there (e.g., a $26 million liquified gas station in a mountainous region where there are few roads and the rare existing car or truck uses gasoline or diesel fuel). I don’t know where you could find the past reports, but they add up to many billions of dollars. I don’t remember if he included the billions we have spent to construct permanent bases there or not.

    2. David

      I didn’t think the analysis was particularly new or challenging – I’d be interested to know if the author has any actual experience in these countries. But he’s right, of course, about the sunk costs argument. It’s applied throughout modern history, from the French in Algeria, the Portuguese in Angola, the US in Vietnam, even the Russians in Afghanistan until they decided to declare victory and leave. The only time the strategy has ever worked is where victory was in fact possible, and the alternative was worse – the British in Northern Ireland for example.

      1. Olga

        CF does have experience – lots; he’s among the top US diplomats (whatever remains of that breed). Recall that he got rejected as BHO’s envoy for the ME (or some such position), mainly because he realistically assessed the situation between Palestinians and Israel.
        But I was hoping for a more clear-cut explanation of said “interests.” He would know exactly, but won’t say. He’s pretty good, though, describing the destruction US left behind (or is still causing).
        Jon Snow had a speech at the Chatham House (of all places) on why US needs Iran – it is more specific –
        Same for Afghanistan – just too conveniently located to keep an eye on Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran – why would US ever leave? (Plus poppies!)

        1. JTMcPhee

          US “interests:” Bechtel, Lockheed-Martin, Bank of America, General Motors, General Dynamics, Israel, here’s a list of just the war contractors: Step on over to the petroleum and mining “interests.” Car makers, Big Farms and Big Pharma.

          I’ve asked a lot of people in the blogosphere who natter about “the national Interest” and what it might be in circumstances large and small where people are killed or are damaged or impoverished by the Empire. Never got a very good answer other than “If you have to ask, you don’t know.” People do take a stab at identifying in some way — like here: Not possible, I guess, to lay it out, but the people who do move and shake certainly have their interests, to be conflated in the public mind with the greater good.

    3. mpalomar

      “I think the effect on the US’ reputation is calculated and deliberate – we might not be able to defeat you or achieve anything positive, but we sure know how to inflict pain.”
      – Yes it falls in line with US hegemonic diplomacy that boils down to it is better to be feared than liked.

      Once you have built out your globe spanning military machine with two basic components, a nuclear deterrent for existential threats and littoral weapons systems, irrelevant in nuclear situations but bristling with pink misting machines, Vietnams, Iraqs, Afghanistans, Lybias, Syrias etc. are inevitable.
      One quibble with one of the articles premises, ‘To say, “we meant well” is true – as true of the members of our armed forces as it is of our diplomats and development specialists.’
      -I’m not sure I buy this at all levels of the US decision making apparatus.

      1. xkeyscored

        I nearly commented on that “we meant well” bit. I’m damned certain it does not apply at all levels. The idea does not compute for many of those at the top, as people who mean well don’t often get to the top.

        1. mpalomar

          I suppose it partly reduces to what “well” means and of course who “we” is, which the writer roughly sketches in.

    4. rd

      The best analogy is the Johnson Administration with McNamara. They realized they couldn’t “win” but just kept going so as to not admit defeat. Nixon just inherited that mess and tripled down on death and destruction. He at least finally got out, which the US could have done by 1967 and certainly by 1968 when Johnson said he wouldn’t run again.

    5. Oregoncharles

      The logical conclusion is that the US has a “national interest” in maximizing chaos and destruction – not that this is a new insight.

      And the usual explanation is that this serves certain financial interests. Also a big factor, I think, is leadership’s love for playing chess with live pieces – as carried out by psychopaths.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “White House Weighs Limits on U.S. Portfolio Flows Into China”

    I suppose that would stop a US Corporation with $54 million dollars to invest from putting it into China. But would that stop a corporation registered in the Cayman Islands investing $54 million in China while paying its taxes in Ireland? It is a crime there to reveal who owns what there remember. Hell, what if that corporation was registered in Delaware?
    During the 2008 campaign, Obama was criticizing the Cayman Islands as a place where US companies avoided paying taxes and he talked about Ugland House in the Caymans that had 12,000 companies registered out of it. The Chairman of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Authority suggested that Obama concentrate on Delaware instead at 1209 North Orange Street, Wilmington as it had 217,000 companies housed there.
    Somebody remind me again which State Joe Biden represented again?

      1. protagoras

        According to the US Constitution (article 1, section2) Delaware is entitled to at least (depending on whether corporations are considered “free” persons or are subject to the three/fifths rule) twice as many representatives in the House as its now holds.

    1. Procopius

      Good point. I recall several years ago there were articles showing that the U.S. is, in fact, the biggest enabler of tax evasion in the world, because of our banking secrecy laws (state laws). Not only Delaware, a couple of the Western states were big, too.

  8. Otis B Driftwood

    I should know better than to read Chris Hedges early in the day as it puts me in a dark mood. But if you want a taste of what he’s talking about, just scroll down the comments of the Aaron Mate tweet above and you’ll find comments like this:

    You do realize the Democrats and main stream media are trying to overthrow the government? The party of open borders, murdering babies, illegal immigration is attempting to murder our country and this is exactly how it is going to be understood. This is a coup.

    I know you are well meaning but sometimes I think you somehow view this as a tv program. It is not, you are in this and we will all be harmed. People will react. This is about the overthrow of the United States Government and a duly elected President.

    1. jrs

      Doesn’t a coup have to remove someone from power? There is no chance of that with Trump unless Republicans go along. Ah, America: where even our “coups” accomplish absolutely nothing. Kind of odd for a coup wouldn’t you say?

      (Btw was the impeachment of Bill Clinton a “coup” to them?)

      Is the big threat this might make Trump unpopular, wow that would be long overdue among them, but he mostly is except among some diehards.

        1. Drake

          One of the things that’s been most surprising to me is how utterly craven and inept the coup organizers have been so far. You get the idea that they’re omniscient and omnipotent, then see them in action and realize they’re Keystone Kops, much like our military. They can only fight opponents that don’t fight back. Sometimes I feel like we’re the Soviet Union in the late eighties.

        1. anon in so cal

          The whistleblower was a CIA agent, no?

          Was Brennan behind this, as he was also supposedly the instigator of Russiagate?

          How much of this is Brennan’s continued rage that Trump ended the Obama CIA Operation Timber Sycamore in Syria, which gave $1 Billion US per year to jihadis to foment chaos in Syria. Trump had campaigned on ending Syria regime change, and at least ended the CIA’s Op TS.

          If the CIA succeeds with Ukraine-gate, does that mean they have succeeded in deposing an elected president? Does that mean the CIA now controls US presidential elections?

          With Trump out of the way, does that resuscitate Biden’s campaign?

          If Biden is elected, the US can continue its endless regime change operations:


          Separately, John Helmer discusses the oligarchs in Ukraine:

          “…the oligarchs have hardly disappeared from Ukraine, and some are in positions of much enhanced political power”.

          That’s code for Kolomoisky – and Burisma. Rojansky’s conclusion is a direct appeal for the US Government to stop Kolomoisky because “corporate raiding undermines U.S. policy objectives in addition to deterring potentially profitable U.S. investments in Ukraine.”

          And David Stockman weighed in on ex-CIA and ex-Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker:

          “‘NATO’s Destructive Tentacles’ – David Stockman

          written by rpi stafffriday september 27, 2019

          Former Reagan Administration official and RPI Board Member David Stockman joins RPI’s 2019 Washington Conference with a blistering critique of NATO and of US interventionist foreign policy. NATO? Interventionism? Russophobia? Stockman eviscerates Washington’s foreign policy, taking NO prisoners!”

      1. Procopius

        The word “coup” can mean scoring big points, or having a great success. Native American cultures regarded things like demonstrating great bravery as points earned. The term at least as translated was “counting coup,” and could be done by carrying a light stick, rather than a weapon, and touching an enemy warrior with it. Full disclosure: I am not an expert on Native American culture and I get this story from Western Fiction and, I think, a couple of ethnographic studies I read sixty or seventy years ago.

    2. xkeyscored

      There’s plenty of similar stuff coming from the UK, only in their case it’s Brexit and prorogation and the Benn Act and all that which are an ongoing treasonous coup murdering the country. And both sides are claiming this!

    3. flora

      Lots of moving parts. There’s this, for example:

      If the law and the Constitution say he won, then change the law and the Constitution…. yeah, that should work out well…. I think this about much more than T…. The K’s have been been angling for a convention for a long time. See Source Watch. (Too many liberals don’t realize they’ll be on the menu if a convention is held. Poor Lessig is one of the, what I can only call “suckers”. )

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          from scanning the content and about us at American Daily, they are worried about Lawrence Lessig and the LIBERAL assault on the Constitution, like getting rid of the electoral college.

          Buchanan, fingered in Democracy in Chains for laying the groundwork for the radical CONSERVATIVE assault underway for the last 40 years, is a-okay with tgem, I imagine.

      1. jrs

        Yea a Constitutional Convention would not end well given the current U.S. power structure. Doesn’t mean the U.S. Constitution isn’t ridiculously archaic compared to most countries governing documents at this point. However it’s one of those issues there is no clear way to address now. Trying for amendments is a possible path forward but of course very low odds given how hard that process is.

        1. polecat

          I have an idea … I think that were a constitutional convention be convened, that a motion to dissolve the union would be in order, as this nation is too large, geographically .. and too disfunctional generally to operate, without the continuation of the grifting, corruption, and disparities that sour every attempt at resolve the many concerns of the public at large. Why not break up and be done with it ! .. so new polities can emerge that CAN be managed more equitably, for all those who are not malicious, conniving scoundrels. A way to perhaps ‘clean the slate’ as it were .. National disassembly is going to happen, one way or another …. better to intitiate it in a relatively peaceful manner, rather then through a civil war, or multiples thereof .. no ?

          1. Anon

            Folks on the West Coast, especially California, would likely be agreeable to that. Unfortunately, the smaller states would likely not want to give up the Federal largesse they receive under the current arrangement.

          2. Synapsid


            Hmm…Washington, Oregon, Northern California (?), southern Idaho, southern BC (54-50 or Fight!), maybe an arrangement with Alaska…a toe in the water about adding in western Montana…

            1. polecat

              Personally, I settle for the Salish-Sea Republic .. comprised of Western Washington and B.C., with the exceptions of King & Pierce Counties, which would need to be walled off … for piece of mind, of course …. ‘;]

          3. inode_buddha

            I can get along with that idea, but I don’t think its possible to do it peaceably simply because power cedes nothing without a demand.

            1. ambrit

              Yes to the Frederick Douglass reference. Plus, New England can ‘hook up’ with the Maritime Provinces. Quebec can do whatever it bloody well wants. (It’ll still have the Hudson’s Bay gold mines.)

          4. The Rev Kev

            That idea featured in the book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” by John Michael Greer where America loses a disastrous war to China and its African allies after trying to invade Tanzania for its oil. Spoiler alert – at the end, some Senators and the last President get together in the Senate cafeteria and decide to reform the original 13 States using the original flag into the Union once more. Rhode Island is out but the State of Columbia is included-


            1. polecat

              I should have prefaced my comment by stating that that part of the story was the bases for what I was trying to convey. I Do own a copy of the book. Not trying to cop or plagairize in anyway JM Greer’s great work, but the idea of a mostly benign disincorporation of the present nation IS an intriging one.
              And as far as the Salish Republic goes, Mr. Greer would probably say “Well good luck with That !” He left the PNW ingreat part due to seismicity issues.

            2. Rod

              Earnest Callenbach published the novel ‘Ecotopia‘ in 1977.

              Wiki it for a preview tease. The plot summary should hook your interest.
              I have not encountered many who have read it, however it is positively–as in uplifting–relevant to our times and climate conundrum–as well as featuring the former break away Northwest( Ecotopia) of NCal Washington and Oregon.
              There is a lesson about radical actions and population militancy.
              But, personally, what has really stayed with me is the Forest Management Policies.

              1. The Rev Kev

                You might like Greer’s “Retrotopia” as well-


                A key to the success of the 2065 Lakeland Republic is that they only adopted measures that actually worked so the World Bank and its loans were throw out. And no subsidies to industries either which revealed which was economically feasible on its own feet. Hint – there is no nuclear plants there and a Bezos or a Zuckerberg cannot offload their cost to the general public.

              2. ambrit

                I remember that book, and the Helicopter War.
                Also of similar provenance and interest is the older “Islandia” by A T Wright.
                Still the best novel about a devolved America is Phil Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle.” Read the book. It is much better than the mini-series. Dick’s best works were very philosophical.

          5. Oregoncharles

            “Ecotopia;” “Ecotopia Emerging.”
            Ernest Callenbach.

            But it inspired a magazine, not a political movement.

            1. ambrit

              I’ll bet it also inspired a movement that the FBI still considers to be terrorist. (The FBI and it’s problems with categorization!)

      2. hunkerdown

        If the people curl up and simply let a piece of paper written by dead oligarchs tell them what they can and can’t do against people in power who are unconstrained by the same rules, well, they’re slaves, not people. Their proceedings do not have a “right” to continue. The Constitution simply gives the ruling class permission to do so.

        1. Buckeye

          Me: Amen! Can I get another amen from Reverend Leon
          and the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now?

          Reverend Leon: “Amen, brother!”

          Me: Thank you, Reverend.

      3. Oregoncharles

        What bothered me about that Harpers forum was that they largely ignore the many Amendments, some of which made major changes (e.g., the 14th.) That means it isn’t nearly as archaic as they pretend.

        OTOH, I agree that there are major botches in the Constitution, and for that matter some of our legal philosophy. A new Convention is called for, but yes, it would be a disaster in the present climate.

        Move to Amend is PRESENTLY pushing an amendment to retract corporate personhood and the ruling that money is speech. That’s worth working on; in principle, amendments aren’t any harder now than they were then.

        Incidentally, corporate personhood and money being speech are good examples of a Constitution being useless: both are legal absurdities. The former, especially, deliberately defies the clear meaning of the Amendment.

        1. Procopius

          I think corporate personhood could be ended by statute. It originated in a “headnote,” that is commentary by the secretary to the court, in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886. The case itself had nothing to do with corporate personhood, and it was never mentioned in the case itself or the reasoning behind the verdict. Lots of judges and lawyers knew very well at the time that the doctrine was spurious, but it was convenient for a lot of them to rule the way that made them the most money. There has always been some corruption in our judiciary, and the situation was especially bad at that time. Of course with the Republicans stuffing the courts with Federalist Society reactionaries (with the enthusiastic (?) help of some Democrats) the situation is just as dire today.

      4. Buckeye

        Here’s an idea: instead of letting the right wingers murder the left/liberals/common people (or whatever you call yourselves), why not got off our lazy butts and write our own new Constitution and have it all nice and ready to go when a convention is called.

        The Conservatives are only pushing for a Constitutional Convention because they have done exactly that. Their think tanks and policy centers have been working and revising and reworking
        their poison pill Constitution for years. I know because I’ve listened to people from these think tanks and they confirm that this has been going on for almost 30 years now.

        As Sun Tzu said, the Acme of skill is to win without fighting, and every war is won before a single battle is fought. Plan, re-plan, train and train some more; that’s how you win. The left/socialist/liberal/common folk are just whiny, passive, and disorganized. Start beating the
        enemy at his own game!

        1. The Rev Kev

          The trouble there is that it would be the Conservatives that would be selecting the delegates to the Constitution Convention. Any progressive would be pushed aside and would never get there whether by hook or crook and all laws be damned. It would be your worse nightmare with people like Mitt Romney being your typical delegate. In fact, you may as well hold that Convention on Wall Street and save the delegates the travel time.

          1. ambrit

            The writers of the original Constitution had a grounding in the Enlightenment. A new Constitutional Convention would have a grounding in, business? Deity help us all!

        2. JBird4049

          Any “conservative” idiot advocating ramming anything though a rigged Constitutional Convention is a fool at best. It would seriously be a great way to start a civil war. Amendments to the Constitution only happened after a lot of debate, sometimes violent, before they were passed. In three of them, it took the American Civil War. Whether you agreed to it, or not, you could easily believe in its legitimacy.

          It is not, not, not like passing a new law on the speed limit, but more like inserting new DNA into a person. A constitutional amendment is an alteration of the fundamental legal, political, civic, even the social and religious ideas of the American nation.

          This might seem to many as hyperbole, but it is not. Most Americans do not even thing of how interwoven the ideas from the Constitution are in our nation. Heck, most non-Americans don’t have any understanding of just how fundamental the Constitution is to our very existence as a nation and country. One could change the Constitution, even dismember the Union that is the United States, But to successfully do it without violence means doing it the long, hard way of talking, of debating and arguing, so that there is mostly agreement before the convention, or the passage of an amendment; apparently that is too annoying to our society’s leadership.

          This goal of modifying the Constitution via a rigged convention is the same corrupt idiocy as all the other current incidences like the rigged voting in NYC, California, and the Southern States, the buying of legislation, the ongoing regulatory capture of all levels of government bureaucracy, using the cover of this supposed legitimacy to gain wealth, influence, and power. Every incident weakens the legitimacy of laws and government, the “social contract” that gives authority to the government to govern. Once it is gone, it is gone and the state is left with the power of the gun, not the consent of the govern, which leads to violent civil conflict, if not just plain civil war.

    4. JBird4049

      I am not so sure that Pelosi and her fellow minions actually want to successfully impeach the President, but have a goal of creating a black hole for our nation’s political energy, attention, and time; however, fecal matter like this, just like splendid little wars, often go where no one was planning was planning to go or our beloved ruling meritocracy really could be trying for a coup similar to the one that deposed Lula, the former Brazilian president.

      I just wonder if they realize that that would install a much more malevolent thoughtful conservative in the form of a more intelligent version of Dick Chaney, Vice President Mike Pence. That might not be what Pence wants either; it would probably easier for Pence to keep working unnoticed for the political implantation of Dominionist theological ideas into the federal bureaucracy using a form of regulatory capture.

      But who the heck knows? Trying to understand and predict something requires that it is following some sort of logical and predictable path. It is probably there, but I am having an increasingly harder time seeing it. Our current political ecosphere is composed of evermore energetically thoughtless fools doing everything they can to appear relevant so long as it does not mean doing their actual jobs.

      Like with this “investigation” and possible impeachment as with Russia!Russia!Russia! shtick, the politicos keep doing whatever pops into their minds without a thought as to what might be the results beyond tomorrow or maybe next week.

  9. ChiGal in Carolina

    so if the document laying out Whistle Blower requirements prior to the current one came online in 2018, what were the requirements before?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Direct, first-hand knowledge. Hearsay was not allowed.

      None of the current “whistleblower” complaint is known first-hand, as admitted by the “whistleblower” itself.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        per the article that standard is in the document that came online in 2018 and was replaced by the current one; what was it before that?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      This may help.

      Here’s a thread from Stephen McIntyre, the online researcher who discovered the form change:

      And here is his conclusion:

      15/ bottom line: it appears almost certain that, subsequent to the CIA operative “WB” complaint, the DNI introduced a brand new Urgent Disclosure Form which offered a previously unavailable alternative to report allegations with no personal knowledge…..

      Much of this is beyond me, but it seems legit. Interestingly enough, some commenters on the thread seem to think that this was a trap that the dems walked into.

      Dunno, but this may be far from over.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        To be clear, the paragraph beginning “15/” is a quote–I forgot to italicize it. The rest is me.

        1. Susan the other`

          I certainly hope this trips up the Democrats and their intelligence henchmen. Because requiring first hand knowledge of an incident by any “witness” is the foundation of our justice system. Hearsay is always a bunch of self-interested rationalization. To allow hearsay leaves the door wide open for every democrat in the idiotic House to be forced from office on any very thin accusation or rumor. They will deserve every hit.

          1. Anon

            What the first-hand knowledge requirement does is essentially eliminate the opportunity to complain to a superior that something is “fishy”.

            As shown by the WB memo, (s)he was able to rather accurately describe the events not seen first-hand but corroborated by several known associates with direct information.

            What bothers me is that only one person, of several involved, was willing to make a formal complaint. The fear of retribution seems rampant in this Administration.

            If the WB complaint is “fake” then that will be easy to prove; if the Administration is willing to provide the actual voice recording (which likely exists) to Congressional investigators.

            It appears, however, that a potential cover-up is growing and obfuscation is the next phase, as the voice recording potentially corroborates the WB complaint (second-hand or not).

            What amazes me is watching all these powerful government officials attempt to provide cover for the observable Sleaze at the top. The ethical slag of our so-called leaders is contagious.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        can’t access the link right now, but not sure I’ve made my question clear.

        Did the higher standard of direct knowledge originate in 2018 or had it been policy prior to Trump being president?

        I have no priors either way, but the article leaves this crucial bit of context out, and imho this is very damning if they changed a long-standing policy.

        I’ll search when I have time.

      3. mpalomar

        “some commenters… think that this was a trap that the dems walked into.”

        Some have posited that now that AG Barr has finished his investigation into the origins of Russiagate and is ready to throwdown on Brennan and possibly others in the Democratic wing of the intelligence coup against Trump, Brennan is playing his Trump card, so to speak. As to whether it backfires on Pelosi and the Democrats, I suppose once can only hope. It is their go to move.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Rep. Gabbard: ‘Haven’t seen much’ evidence that Sen. Warren qualified to be Commander in Chief”

    You had to laugh too when one of the hosts, Saagar Enjeti, told Gabbard that “You’ve effectively ended Kamala Harris’s candidacy!” I know that Gabbard is in the next debate but what is the bet that she will not be in the same debate group as Elizabeth Warren. They won’t make the same mistake twice.

  11. Carolinian

    Interesting Ramin Mazaheri in Saker

    These Parisian young adults see a faded, generic, poorly drawn forearm tattoo on many a Vester, and then they look at their own fancy tattoo (a Chinese character, a magic symbol, or some emblem of personal motivation or social defiance) and they think: “To hell with those White Trash – I never got invited to their parties and I want to lead a different lifestyle.”

    In other words it’s the proles versus the hipsters, the provincials versus the wealthy city sophisticates.

    Sounds like here or, for that matter, other socially divided countries like Venezuela where the protest marches come out of the elite neighborhoods fearful of losing their privileges. It seems France too has “flyover country.”

  12. David Carl Grimes

    Regarding “The Problem with Impeachment”: Isn’t it strange that US impeachments have been about relatively trivial issues? Nixon faced impeachment for covering up the break-in of his political rival’s HQ and not bombing Cambodia. Clinton was impeached for lying about his sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. And now Trump will be impeached for trying to dig up dirt on his political rival. And Pelosi refused to have Bush and Cheney impeached for lying about Iraq’s WMD.

    1. Donald

      Chomsky pointed that out with Nixon. I think of it as a law of politics. I need a pithy formulation, but the basic idea is that the truly terrible crimes like genocidal wars are never treated as scandals. The entire political structure would be endangered if they were. So the actions which are treated as terrible scandals are the less serious crimes like one politician illegally trying to gather dirt on another. The subtext is that our political system must not be that bad if the worst things that happen are things like Watergate or Ukrainegate. It’s not like our leaders are guilty of mass murder or torture. Only bad foreigners do things like that.

      The funny thing is that everyone knows this is false, but everyone in the mainstream agrees not to talk about it in those terms, so only we fringe characters on the internet will say it openly.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “American exceptionalism” is at work, and this really amounts to, “the U.S. is good and therefore can only do good. Mass murder is bad, so when the U.S. MIC kills a bunch of people, it was for their own good, not murder.” Like the Prosperity Gospel or The Family, the elites can’t be bad.

        Obama’s infamous “double tap” is predicated on anyone he kills would only be helped by other bad guys.

        1. xkeyscored

          The public excuse for Obama’s infamous “double tap” is predicated on anyone he kills would only be helped by other bad guys.
          The reason for the double tap is it might get some more ‘bad guys’. Anyone else is collateral damage, or enemy combatant by virtue of age and gender.

        2. polecat

          Come on TMG ! .. Let’s state this for what it really is … Clearly, it’s D.C. and it’s immediate surrounds ‘exceptionalism’ !! .. e.i. The cancers firmly embedded on banks of the Potomic .. along with a little help of those matastisizers, the corpserate ‘press’ !

        3. JBird4049

          It is easier to try someone for the smaller crimes they and their minions committed. Nixon and his White House Plumbers’ burglaries, wiretapping, and surveillance were easier to understand and prosecute. The secret multi-year bombing campaigns and invasion of a Cambodia, a we were supposed to be at peace with, involved who knows how many thousands of Americans. If President Nixon was guilty of those war crimes, that meant at least generals, and probably their immediate staff, were as well. It would have been a much bigger mess. Better to use burglary instead.

      2. hunkerdown

        “Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason.” -John Harington

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It looks like Adam Schiff will run point, so I’m not sure impeachment is a done deal. Democrats love country club voters the most, and Schiff’s usual effort will probably be another clown show. Leaving this kind of thing to Schiff is pretty much the equivalent of hiring Bob Mueller. It will appeal to Morning Joe, an arch conservative who largely seems to be annoyed he resigned from Congress when his mistress was murdered, and end in a whimper.

      Democrats also wanted Republicans (Mueller) to do the work for them, hence Mueller and the constant calls for “Republicans of conscience” (I know, and people laugh at the religious) to act. More than symbolic acts aren’t really in Pelosi and friends’ wheelhouse.

      Schiff is jumping from “pressure to investigate” to “manufacturing evidence” seemingly on his own.

      1. richard

        this seems sensible, but oh god i am avoiding reading about this stupid thing
        i know it’s nothing to be proud of but whatever
        please ukraine story just go away go away
        you will lose to trump you fools on purpose
        even tulsi ffs
        although the emails i’m getting from her are pushing a Yemeni genocide angle to impeachment
        and not mentioning ukraine

        1. rowlf

          I keep getting a mental image of Schiff’s committee with Daffy Duck heads photoshopped on everyone’s torsos. Trump season, Biden season etc.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Nestle Steps Up Coffee Bean Testing on Glyphosate Concerns ”

    Gaach! First plastic in your tea-bags, then glyphosate in your coffee. Next thing you know they will be telling us that donuts are not safe to eat!

    1. anon in so cal

      Yet another reason to consume bird-friendly organic coffee.

      Organic coffee is “shade” coffee, grown under the forest canopy.

      “Coffee Farm = Bird Paradise
      According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, “shade-grown coffee production is the next best thing to a natural forest.” A shade-coffee farm can imitate a native forest, which allows many different varieties of birds, plants, and insects to thrive in its lush growth.

      Surrounding shady fruit trees assist in creating a bird-friendly habitat—and the more birds that are able to thrive in a coffee forest, the better. This is primarily because birds can help deter pests from the growing coffee plants. According to a study in Jamaica, researchers found a 70% increase in the infestation of coffee fruits with the Coffee Berry Borer (a small beetle that harms the plants) when birds were excluded from the environment.

      Another similar study conducted in Mexico resulted in a 30-64% increase in chewing insects like caterpillars on coffee plants. Not only does shade-grown coffee provide a habitat for many bird species, but they also return the favor by protecting the precious plants.”

    2. Oregoncharles

      Teabags are a terrible way to make tea, and usually have terrible tea in them. And PLASTIC ones? Ick.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I still remember when tea-bags were first introduced in Australia. Until then tea was made in a pot that usually had a woolen cozy over it. The whole idea of bagged tea was really so weird that they had to have a big campaign to get people to adopt them. Once more convenience won out over quality.

        1. ambrit

          Oh heavens! One spoon of tea for every drinker and one for the pot.
          When I was little, we always had a pot sitting on the little cork place mat in the middle of the table. Help yourself, add sugar and milk. (I even remember tinned milk. You didn’t need as much sugar using that.)
          Today, I’m spoiled. The e-bay has me used to sending away to foreign climes for my Russian Caravan tea or Lapsang Souchong. I’m now officially a ‘Decadent.’

  14. Tomonthebeach

    Gabbard v. Warren. We should vote for Tulsi (a mid-ranking reservist) because her vast experience in warfare makes her best qualified to be Commander in Chief? By that logic only generals should run for POTUS.

    Not only is this preposterously illogical, it is a dangerous notion that a Democratic candidate is running for POTUS because she is best qualified to run the MIC. One can only conclude that such a candidate would be more receptive to military solutions and phat DOD budgets rather than diplomatic ones and reining in the graft and corruption $600BN budgets enable.

    After gasping for breath in the deep end of the primary pool, Gabbard seems willing to do or say anything to get herself press coverage. In so doing, she is showing her true colors as just another member of the primordial slyme that fills the DC Swamp – and look who is already there.

    1. jessica

      Claiming that Tulsi would be more receptive to military responses is completely contrary to everything she has consistently said.

      1. xkeyscored

        I agree. I don’t see the logic in “Sen. Warren qualified to be Commander in Chief?” (and haven’t read the article – that’s enough to put me off). But she’s been very consistent for many years about ending what she calls pointless wars, when most US politicians preferred to pretend they weren’t really happening and certainly didn’t need examining, beyond some debate about how many soldiers to send or bring home

        1. Mike

          Pointless wars? So what would she decide is a pointed war/ A necessary war? An unavoidable war?

          Words, especially during a corrupt Democratic Party singing season, do not make firm policy, nor does a platform of no pointless wars mean anything dangerous to an MIC geared to creating war out of thin air.

          We want something else…

      2. Carolinian

        Yeah, wow. “Primordial slyme” is off the wall.

        And whether or not Gabbard has limited real warfare experience she still has a lot more than oh say Warren, Sanders, Trump, Harris….I could go on.

    2. jrs

      She has a sparse resume overall, which she is trying to make up for with military experience.

      And what does it imply about the rest of the field almost none of which has been in the armed forces? I mean on most issues of government, yes Bernie and Warren have far more experience than her. I don’t think she’d be a warmonger (and Liz Warren actually might be), I just think she frankly doesn’t have a lot of governing experience and so pads what she does have, among otherwise more experienced competitors.

      1. UserFriendly

        I thinks she knows she isn’t gonna win but she has 1 goal in life; stopping dumb wars. Before Kamala got knifed by Tulsi, Kamala had been sounding almost as neocon as Clinton. She all but promised to restart the Korean war and was very aggressive towards Venezuela and Iran. That and her position in the polls (rising from knocking biden in the first debate) made her the best target to nail to the wall if you don’t want more war.

      2. Dan

        Avoiding vaporization and ending all life on Earth is far more important than all other policy issues., OK?

        That alone, is why Bernie will get my vote. If he’s not nominated, I will write in Tulsi in the general election. Tulsi and Bernie together would be the best of all worlds and would defeat Trump.

        1. Shakdi

          No potus from the left has ever avoided war. The last one was a multi nation invasion disaster,as was the one prior.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        As one of my older male friends said, the big mistake of ending the draft was you no longer had broad swathes of the population that had been in the service. Those men saw overwhelmingly that the guys at the top were, with a few very notable exceptions, idiots deserving no deference.

        Men who haven’t served these days have hard ons for generals. I am not exaggerating much. This is a quote from a guy in PE who had as one of his jobs booking speakers for his (pretty big) firm’s conferences. PE guys (very very powerful guys in finance) fall all over generals and spooks.

        And when they are in office, they are afraid to tell them no. Clinton was cowed by them. One of Obama’s few actual good deeds was not letting Hillary and her general allies bully him into further escalation in Syria.

        Gabbard plays up her service because she has to and she is so clearly a military type. But she is all about saying no to generals continue to treat US soldiers as cannon fodder for MIC fun and profit.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Gabbard actually dealt with the dead in Iraq so is not so likely to go throwing US troops into harm’s way for reasons of political convenience. Kennedy avoided WW3 because he saw actual combat in WW2 and you contrast that with Reagan who served in WW2 in the States but whose admin was talking about dealing with a “limited nuclear war” and you do wonder.

      1. dearieme

        And yet it was Reagan who negotiated disarmament with the USSR and Kennedy who antagonised them with his stupid, reckless decision to base “first strike” missiles in Turkey.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Quite true that. I suspect that those Jupiter missiles in Turkey Kennedy inherited in the same way that he inherited the Bay of Pigs invasion plan. The agreement for them took place in October of 1959 and went operational only a few months after he was sworn in. Unlike recent Presidents like Bush and Trump, Kennedy was a reader and thinker. He read the book “The Guns of August” and so fought his own military staff when they wanted to send US forces in which is now recognized as stopping World War 3 – which is why we have no nuclear winter still.
          Reagan is another matter. I suspect that he was surrounded by neocons in much the same way that Trump is. He had no problem with invading a place like Granada or bombing Libya but when he sent troops into Lebanon and 241 were subsequently killed, realized that he could end up with his own Vietnam and so pulled US forces out of that place. I suspect that as things were falling apart for the Soviets in this time period, any US President willing to make a move for scaling back the cold war would have succeeded. Trouble is, any US President trying that now would be accused of treason by the media and would be undercut by the Pentagon and the spooks. Reagan never had to deal with any of this which was why he succeeded.

          1. Shakdi

            Kennedy, the Vietnam escalating murderous killer of tens of thousands of Americans, always count those liberal partisans, they all have amnesia and problems. Kennedy didn’t read, he slept around, anything with two legs and two breasts, a walking bay of pig.

    4. Zagonostra

      I don’t like her waffling on M4A ,it makes me very suspicious and makes me less likely to contribute to her campaign again… fool me once… TBTV does a nice job breaking it down, Tom Black and Jimmy Dore, what a team they would make.

      1. Procopius

        I’ve come to dislike Jimmy Dore. He laughs at his own jokes. From time to time I’ll watch him on YouTube, and my opinion of him just gets worse. Still, it’s good to have someone who presents news with a liberal slant. I miss George Carlin.

    5. ex-PFC chuck roast

      I just finished Philip Caputo’s Rumor of War. The best book I ever read on Vietnam.
      Officer Tulsi and all of her fellow officer trash should be relegated to ash can of history for all the benefit they ever provided the poor, confused and abused enlisted scum.
      It was my experience that the officers that really cared about the mental and physical welfare of the troops never made it past Captain. Moreover, they weren’t interested in climbing the ranks because they knew that the ultimate price was the use and abuse of the enlisted men. The young officers with a heart and soul had to get out, and get out soon if they were going to remain civilized human beings.
      As for the higher higher ranking enlisted men, the “lifers”, they simply said, “The hell with it” and took to the bottle.
      Anyway, I’m waiting for a PFC to run for office.

    6. scarn

      Gabbard is an anti-war candidate, full stop. Far more than Warren, more than Bernie, more than anyone on the slate except for rad red Mike Gravel. Nobody comes close. She is clear about ending every single blob-mire that I have seen her discuss, when every other candidate including Bernie will hedge on Venezuela, Iran, Palestine. As far as I can tell, Tulsi has no use for hedging on this stuff. She is also willing to bluntly truth-tell about Saudi and 9/11. Even Sanders pulls his punches there.

      She has past anti-gay stances which make me personally uncomfortable. That discomfort pales in comparison to her clear anti-imperialism. Those positions have changed.

      She may have some loyalties to nationalist-Hindu politics that I don’t understand or support, and which might be showing up in her statements about Kashmir. This is the only real negative I can think of about her.

      Her argument is not that serving in the forever wars makes her qualified to command the legions, rather it is that as a former Tribunus she is able to clearly see how Warren is business as usual, where the business is blood. The rest is just politics.

  15. semiconscious

    re: New NASA Visualisation of a Black Hole Is So Beautiful We Could Cry

    all i see is a pretty average, easy-to-fabricate, computer-generated graphic. are these things now capable of bringing tears to some peoples’ eyes? am i missing something here?…

    1. xkeyscored

      You’re missing the eyes of scientists and astronomy fans, who know that, in a sense, black holes, by definition, cannot be seen. And here we are nonetheless watching a video of one having a snack. The beauty lies in the science and technology that make what was recently thought impossible possible, and a sense of wonder at the marvels of the universe.
      Apart from that, it does look like a third-rate computer generated graphic!

      1. Plenue

        It’s kind of weird they’re making a big deal of these rudimentary new NASA visualizations, since Interstellar (which actually a terrible movie; a stupid script that thinks it’s very smart) did the same thing, only much more impressive looking, six years ago:

        The visual effects team asked an actual physicist what a black hole would look like, and he gave them a bunch of math to run through their programs. They did and the result led to a published paper:

          1. ambrit

            Second try. The Internet Monsters must be hungry.
            “Interstellar” was interesting. I’d best describe it as “Hellraiser” without the Cenobites.
            Interstitial edit.
            I must be crazy. The original comment disappeared after I clicked the Submit button.
            *Scratches head and other parts of anatomy in puzzlement*

  16. rowlf

    Since the comments here are of a high quality I would like to ask for suggestions for a situation I have had come up. One of my teenage sons has a 20 year old friend who has had some bad luck. The friend was kicked out of his shared apartment and doesn’t have a job or vehicle. My son wanted to let him stay at our house 20 miles outside of the Atlanta perimeter but having done the same thing to my parents in the past I know that doesn’t work out well. (We even had ministers’ kids stay with us from time to time. Hoo-boy.) Having had a tough time myself when younger and an aversion to powdered milk I compromised by putting my son’s friend up for a week in a hotel in a town center area with many businesses within walking or bike riding distance. The friend has an automotive mechanic certificate (ASE).

    Parts of my son’s friend’s story I don’t like is that he isn’t welcomed to stay with his parents and he hasn’t had a job for several months. What I do like is he says a friend in southern Georgia is trying to work out something for him in a few days. I have explained to my son’s friend he has a chance find a job in the four square mile area if he wants and the hotel stay gives him some room to plan farther out. I checked on his food money status and he says he is ok so it doesn’t sound like he has completely hit rock bottom.

    The part of the math equation I can’t seem to solve for is if my son’s friend does find a job in the middle of the suburban town where does he find a place to stay? The town is very bicycle friendly and I see a lot of low income residents around but I suspect they are immigrants with a shared living arrangement.

    Any ideas?

    1. flora

      oh boy… red flags all over this… 20 year old man isn’t welcome in his parents home and has been kicked out of a shared apartment? Has an ASE mechanics cert but doesn’t have a job? I’d say you’ve already done more than could be asked for. This man needs to find his own living arrangements, imo.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        With his ASE, he should be able to land a gig at one of the many oil change places. If he has his own tools, doubtful it sounds like, he might be able to upgrade to a tire and muffler shop.
        Search craigs list for rooms for rent or look into a flea bag motel or extended stay place.
        Get a hot plate and cases of ramen noodles.
        Good luck to ya’ll.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Yes I was/am.
            It was how I was able to participate in my first true love, professional Moto-X.
            Those were the days…

        1. inode_buddha

          Thats pretty much what I did back in the day, built up my own shop as an industrial plant mech. fabrication, piping and mech for 30 yrs

      2. ambrit

        Red flags all over the place for me too. We ‘helped’ out a friend of one of our children once, years ago. It turned out he was an addict and stole as much as he could before we gave him the boot. Been there, done that. Be very careful about who you let in your house.

        1. rowlf

          Yep. That’s why I went with putting the friend up in a hotel instead as the best compromise. If someone gets desperate they are likely to do desperate things.

          It is interesting to watch my son as leading up to spring in 1975 I talked my parents into adopting a Vietnamese orphan. He showed up at JFK airport after he wasn’t able to get on the first C-5A cargo plane in Operation Babylift.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      he can stay in a homeless shelter unless he’s too good for that and save up to get a place. many will also have job search support. he needs proper social services and to adhere to the route they provide him instead of trying to get by using his friends’ parents.

      imho but I am an LCSW with plenty of experience in this area.

      also, I always encourage parents to speak to each other. at 20 he is still a child in terms of myleination (brain science: executive function). maybe they are abusive but maybe they have tried everything and are implementing tough love to not enable him. you probably don’t want to undermine that; make sure (unless they are a horror show) they know what you are doing that involves their son.

    3. Clive

      I agree with flora. There’s more red flags here than on Miami Beach in a hurricane.

      People with questionable pasts and things they’re trying to keep quiet about usually leave a trail of evidence. Ex partners who refuse to speak to them. Parents who don’t want to associate with them. Former employers badmouthing them all over town. Before you get in any way entangled with this individual, try to speak to someone who knows of him well enough to verify his story. If no one can be identified (girlfriends, alumni from schooldays, relatives even if they are not his parents, etc.) this is in itself a very bad sign.

      Unfortunately, in life, it’s not uncommon to encounter people who are total flakes. The total flake doesn’t pay his bills, can’t be depended on and will always disappoint you when it comes to managing their lives. From the description you’re giving us, this person and their life is such a disaster that there’s no way he can meld it with wider society.

      The problem with total flakes is that we sometimes think we can fix them and then they’ll be perfect people, or, at least, improve their lot in life. No way. They always regress — to drinking, taking drugs, gambling or just making endless promises they never keep, including the ones to get their lives in order.

      If you do want to help in a sensible way, offer to drive the individual to job interviews. Suggest you can proof read his resume. Spend an hour helping with working your ways through the help wanted and situation vacant ads. Do a mock interview and give feedback. Make soundings that you could mediate with his folks to try to resolve the family issue. After a few of those overtures, you’ll soon discover if the person is genuinely having a spot of bad luck or is facing serious life skills problems which you’ve never gonna fix.

      1. rowlf

        Good stuff as always. I didn’t sense a criminal or drug aura but he definitely seems like an iceberg to be sailed around. I think what I did was a reasonable step to get some slack for him to pick a direction and I quietly pointed that out when I got to meet him again today. (Met briefly last night). He’s got better options than before but he has to go after them. I don’t plan to get involved any deeper.

        I think the ASE certificate was why I made the decision to provide some help. It is his most likely way up from where he is. My son is a few months away from testing for his ASE certificate and has an after school job as a mechanics helper as mechanics are hard to find for most shops.

        1. Clive

          For what it’s worth, I think you struck exactly the right balance and made absolutely the most decent and humane decisions.

      2. foghorn longhorn

        This take seems a bit harsh, glad you weren’t around when I was a 20y.o. hell raiser.
        He has accomplished something by attaining an ASE certification.
        Sounds like he’s going thru freshman orientation at the HKU. Hard Knocks University.
        In his defense, most parents of 20 y.o. kids these days SUCK. So let’s not throw the whole mess in his corner to clean up.
        Like I said earlier, good luck and keep us updated.

        1. Clive

          I’ve no objection to anyone sowing their wild oats or setting out on a rocky voyage of self discovery. I was a dumb and (if I could have seen myself then through my eyes as they are now) objectionable collection of wrongheaded arrogances aged 20.

          But it would have taken far longer than it did to discover the world didn’t have to put up with my immature antics if I’d kept finding soft touches to lean on with my sob stories all the time. Screwing up can become habit-forming if you keep getting bailed out by overly kindhearted people.

          1. foghorn longhorn

            No offense meant clive.
            Just as an example, our local motorcycle dealer is charging 150 per hour, 2.5 hour minimum.
            Car people are probably more than that.

            1. Clive

              Yes, I tell anyone who asks me — perhaps unwisely :-) — for career advice for their just-starting-out offspring to do likewise, get into something practical and hands-on technical. Auto mechanic, plumber, is electrician, HVAC, gas pipe work maintenance, even carpentry if combined with a design element to it. Anything apart from ridiculously over-subscribed positions in finance, commercial law, accounting/auditing or IT. Miserable £25k a year starting salaries for people carrying £40-50k in student loans and horrible (paying either £800 a month for a house share or £500-700 a month for their own place but £3-400 a month for travel costs, exploitative employers who think you’re a) stupid for letting yourself in for this abuse and b) merely fresh, disposable, meat.

              My dad was an electrician, I wish I had followed his lead. Same story as you tell with ASE skills. You can make £75 an hour gross with a two-hour minimum anywhere here as an electrician, if you are willing to put in the hours, nearer £150 an hour in London. Yes, there’s rotten snobby customers who think because you’re trade you are like something the cat dragged in, but at least you get to say goodbye when the job is done and it is still no worse treatment than, say, the Big Four accounting firms mete out to those who are less than partner level.

          2. rowlf

            I implied firmly this was a one time offer and he may want to make the best use of it. I think the light came on. I have a lot of experience being a mechanic and then having to be a leader of mechanics on several continents so in this case it might work. My early antics probably sent several guardian angels into early retirement.

            My preference is creating a team and instead of saying what I want done I explain where we want to go to and why, here is my idea, what is your idea to get to the solution? Since mechanics are by nature knuckleheads, some join, some waver for a while and some you have to go let run into a wall. Having worked in union shops sometimes you have to sit on your hands and have patience for roping everyone up.

            1. ambrit

              When I worked in commercial plumbing, one of the first questions asked was, “Can you read blueprints?” I could, and got many a job ahead of older but less “skilled” workers.
              All that has changed now. Now, the “straw boss” is expected to do all the print work, layout and quality control, without a significant raise in salary. I wouldn’t take a foreman’s position on a commercial job now for any amount of money.

              1. rowlf

                I never applied for any lead, foreman or manager positions but was put in several. I did the best I could and am fortunate to have had several really good ones in my past I could emulate. I like the old dinosaur managers that knew the union contract better than the workforce and cleverly got the shop stewards to do a lot of their work for them. Sometime in the late 1980s things changed and the older and experienced people were no longer the people that became leaders but then again, where in the past you would have just a few NFGs on a crew there were now whole crews of NFGs. Managers also didn’t always come from the floor anymore.

                We also did a lot of work on the floor level and seeing the planning and research sent up is weird. If anything the reference resources are more available now to everyone. I wonder how long before my job title becomes shaman, witchdoctor or wizard? Do I need to bring a goat in to fix a 757? On the plus side when I ran crews I tried to get as many up to speed to fill in for me or each other. I tried to cross train as many as I could so I wouldn’t be in a lurch if The Guy was out.

                1. ambrit

                  Cross training was the best defense against massive screw ups. I remember catching a slab framing mistake. The layout person forgot to check the detail pages and forgot to add the brick ledges to the overall dimensions of the form. Two brick ledges out of a two hundred foot long structure. No big deal, right? Hah! It would have put ten walls in a science building out by enough to set the piping, drains, conduits, etc. out of every wall along the length of the building. That’s a lot of jackhammer work, and no, I was not thanked for spotting the mistake. In fact, I was yelled at by the concrete foreman for delaying his pour by two days while the forms and rebar were adjusted. I should have hit that man. (All the piping ended up inside the walls. Job done.)
                  As the best foreman I ever worked for, one of those older experienced cats, natch, said to me one afternoon: “Always read the Architectural pages. There are so many people involved in drawing up a big set of plans that screw ups are literally designed in.”

    4. rowlf

      === Resolution === While checking my son’s friend into the hotel tonight he said he only needed to stay tonight at the hotel as tomorrow he is moving back to his parent’s house in northern Georgia and will stay there while he works. His spirit seemed good and more up than the previous encounters with him.

      I cancelled the rest of the reservation with the friendly front desk. While driving home on country roads (aka Deer Alley) there was a nice jazz recording on the radio with a wicked Hammond B3 organ solo.

      Thanks all.

      1. ambrit

        Good man. The gentle art of compassion. With that third eye wide open.
        Matthew 10:16- “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
        Sleep well.

  17. Carolinian

    The New Republic on health care–that’s a good article and makes the key point that the ten percenters are fine with the current employer system because they get deluxe coverage while it’s the average Americans who have to struggle. The politicians making the laws have no dog in this fight.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It is a good article.

      But it’s been written many times before. How many more times will that same article need to be written and read before it occurs the citizenry that, with a few notable exceptions, the current crop of “candidates” on offer and the vast majority of comfortable incumbents have absolutely no intention of meaningfully changing it?

      Nearly 20% of a $15+ trillion “economy” derives its insanely profitable existence from this “system.” As far as I’m concerned, no amount of appealing to logic or the milk of human kindness will dislodge these firmly entrenched interests.

      No one who responds to the high cost of insulin with “skin in the game” arguments, or 30 million without any way to pay for “healthcare” at all with “but people deserve to ‘choose’ their employer-provided plan” does not care how poorly the system functions or performs.

      These politicians are owned, pure and simple, and cannot be “convinced.”

      Name them. Shame them. Get rid of them.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I hope Turley is right. A Great Unraveling, as he envisions a Senate trial to be, might just be a first step to recovery for this very ill nation. The critical question is what will step into the resulting “values vacuum” if our elites expose themselves as the crass and craven idiots they are. A lot of things will be up for grabs.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s why I work to keep a 3rd party option on the table. I’m under no illusions that we’re going to gradually climb the ladder; if that were going to happen, it would have by now. But I think (perhaps I hope) that the party system is in the process of collapse; a Great Unravelling would help a lot.

        There has to be someone prepared to pick up the pieces; in the meantime, we represent.

      2. Drake

        “Impeached presidents are traditionally allowed fairly wide leeway to call witnesses, so Trump could turn any Senate trial into a showcase of countervailing Democratic scandals. Trump could even call Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.”

        Or Hillary Clinton, or Crowdstrike executives. Or to really wish upon a star, Assange or Manning or Snowden. Or AOC, or Tulsi, for whatever whimsical reason that sounded good. Or maybe give Mueller another 15 minutes of shame. It would be the greatest show on earth. Or a bad remake of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Either way, Trump’s kind of gig.

        1. polecat

          I’d buy That for a whole coin purse of quatloos ! Let the sparks fly !!
          Hey .. Maybe we can get some of those bubble-brained Triskelions .. (transmutated into the bodies of say, hedge-fund traders) .. to come down to Terra Firma, and wager some bets on who will ultimately win …. up the stakes, like to the death .. for the loser(s).

          1. ambrit

            And Angelique can querry, with her blond tresses askew: “Tell me about those ‘derivative trades’ Captain Kirk.”

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s enough to make you hope that the dems follow through on their impeachment threats, putting all their ex-spook freshmen on the record. The senate trial would be riveting.

      To complete the sordid optics, Menendez actually would vote as a juror in any Senate trial of Trump, who is accused of suggesting a quid pro quo as opposed to the completed acts in return for lavish gifts charged against Menendez.

      If I were Trump’s lawyer, I’d start by demanding that dem menendez “recuse” himself, and drag him through the bribery mud all over again in front of the whole country to justify the demand.

      I really don’t think the democrats have thought this thing through.

  18. Plenue

    >Nearly 2,000 arrested as Egypt braces for anti-Sisi protests Al Jazeera

    Stuff like this is one reason I’m so skeptical of the ‘everything is a fake color revolution’ narrative. I’m convinced the Arab Spring was predominately genuine, and in fact was against the interests of the CIA. We certainly wasted no time jumping back in with an Egyptian military dictatorship after Sisi ended that country’s brief experiment with democracy by murdering a thousand protesters.

  19. Oregoncharles

    “The Octopus: an Alien Among Us.” Granted, this piece is literature and doesn’t pretend to be science, but it’s ABOUT science. It’s a good read, so I’m not complaining, but it’s also a perfect example of the way some scientists talk about “consciousness:”
    ” But we don’t know if it would say, “I have a subjective, private experience—a consciousness—…” There’s more like that. Ultimately, in this use, I think “consciousness” means nothing at all, and that’s why they can’t explain it.

    Obviously, it does mean something: the opposite of “unconscious”. Awake and responsive. In this sense, octopuses and most animals with nervous systems are conscious when they aren’t sleeping. (Sleep is an in-between state, “can be waked up.” “Unconscious” usually means “cannot be wakened.”)

    As this article makes clear, the *operational* definition of “consciousness” is “able to say they’re conscious.” Barring unlikely SF devices, that immediately rules out all non-verbal animals – and good luck teaching a gorilla what it means. Dolphins might be closer, if we can ever figure out what they’re saying.

    If you can’t define it, it’s an empty set.

    1. xkeyscored

      I think the first half of the article, which is all about attention, selecting what in the environment to ignore and what to (be ready to) respond to, is quite sound and interesting. I’ve come across scientific articles dealing with this, and it seems a fruitful line of inquiry.
      When it comes to consciousness, I think nobody has the foggiest idea what they mean by it, and definitely nobody agrees on what they mean by it. Like the soul, volumes could be written and theoretical edifices developed, challenged and fought over, leaving no-one any the wiser.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Thank you. Considerably more concise than I was. I enjoyed the article (octopuses really are amazing), but “consciousness” has become a pet peeve.

        1. witters

          What, if anything, is wrong with this (sincere) assertion: “I am not conscious.” Explain your answer,

          1. Oregoncharles

            If you weren’t conscious, you wouldn’t be asserting anything. But that’s the basic meaning of the word.

            1. xkeyscored

              I could easily set my computer up to declare “I am conscious” or “I am not conscious”.
              Perhaps this comment (or witters’) was written and posted by a bot.

      2. Plenue

        Unlike the soul, any worthwhile talk about the brain will ultimately have to tie in with real science and evidence.

    2. polecat

      For those who might like a somewhat related ‘molluskular’ read, if from a more personal account “the Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery*, is worth perusing … fwfiw

      *published in 2015 by Atria Books

      1. ambrit

        I once helped a young man find and return has pet octopus to it’s tank. The wily cephalopod had lifted the top supposedly sealing the tank and suckered his way out and onto the floor. I found it lurking underneath the living room couch, two rooms away from it’s tank. Picking up that critter and carrying it back to the tank was actually fun. It did not try to ‘beak’ me and watched me closely the entire time. They have to be intelligent, just not human style intelligent.
        Now, as to that “Giant Octopus” that washed up on the shore at Saint Augustine Florida in 1896.
        See, oh seeker after truth:

  20. Susan the other`

    Mark Perry. American Conservative: The Military Official Who Knew KSA Would Fail. This link rings very true to the progression of events I have observed. Just casually observed. General Mckenzie is a straight shooter, no pun intended. The whole debacle of KSA doing murderous crap it doesn’t even know how to do. That they, royals, are very unpopular even among their co-religionists. They went off half-cocked bombing Yemen. And the zinger: that John McCain said the Saudis believed we sided with Iran (2015). Who wouldn’t? So then there was that telling little incident with Jamal Kashoggi. He had both US connections and with the Muslim Bro. His fate was almost symbolic of what the Saudis would like to do to us. McCain also said that the Houthis were our “quiet partners” against al Qaeda. The hint is the comment that we did not support KSA – we offered them “weak military support” against Yemen. But we didn’t prevent them from attacking. I do get the feeling that we are orchestrating the opportunity for the Saudis to destroy themselves.

  21. Cuibono

    Todays must read is a must read to be sure but how in the world does he leave out the principal cuibono in all of this? That of the profiteers ..what part of those trillions now sits in the pockets of countless folks in the MIE?

  22. ewmayer

    “Neutrino Experiment Reveals (Again) That Something Is Missing from Our Universe Live | Science” — Couple of unfortunate journalistic boners in an otherwise-interesting article. My corrections to the key passage in bold:

    KATRIN is basically a very big machine for counting the super-high-energy electrons that burst out of a sample of tritium — a radioactive form of hydrogen. with one proton and two neutrons in each atom. Tritium is unstable, and one of its neutrons decays into a proton with accompanying emission of an electron-neutrino pair. KATRIN looks for the electrons and not the neutrinos because the neutrinos are too faint to precisely measure. And the machine uses tritium gas, according to Hamish Robertson, a KATRIN scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Washington, because it’s the only electron-neutrino source simple enough to get a good mass measurement from.

    Neutrinos are more or less impossible to precisely measure on their own because they have so little mass and tend to skip out of detectors without interacting with them. So to figure out the mass of the neutrinos, Robertson told Live Science, KATRIN counts the most energetic electrons and works backward from that number to deduce the neutrino’s mass. The first results from KATRIN have been announced, and the researchers came to an early conclusion: Neutrinos have a mass no higher than 1.1 electron volts (eV).

    Electron volts are the units of mass and energy physicists use when talking about the smallest things in the universe. (At the scale of fundamental particle, energy and mass are measured using the same units, and the neutrino-electron pairs have to have combined energy levels equivalent to the mass-energy difference between their source neutron and the proton into which it decays, a difference of roughly 1.3 million electron volts.) The Higgs boson, which lends other particles their mass, has a mass of 125 billion EV. Protons, the particles at the center of atoms, have masses of about 938 million eV. Electrons have a rest mass of a mere 510,000 eV. This experiment confirms that neutrinos are incredibly tiny.

    That (neutron – proton – electron) rest mass difference still leaves (1.3 – 0.5) MeV unaccounted for, nearly all of which is covered by the “super-high-energy electron” bit – unlike the residual proton which remains in the nucleus, the electron goes flying off at nearly the speed of light, as does its decay-paired neutrino. i.e. both carry off a total mass/energy of roughly the full (neutron – proton) difference of 1.3 MeV. The tricky part is that even a low-rest-mass neutrino can have a very high mass/energy in near-speed-of-light flight, and it very difficult to determine the speed (as opposed to the total energy) of the emitted particles, so how does one determine first how much of the 1.3 MeV goes into each of the electron and the neutrino, and second, how much of the mass/energy fraction going into the neutrino is the relativistic component, and how much is the rest-mass component? That’s where a crucial quantum-mechanical quirk of such Tritium – to – He3 days comes in: “Usually, that extra energy gets distributed pretty evenly between the electron and the neutrino. But sometimes most or all of the remaining energy gets dumped into one particle or another. In that case, all of the energy left over after the neutrino and electron are formed is dumped into the electron partner, forming a super-high-energy electron”, i.e. in that case the accompanying emitted neutrino is more or less at rest.

  23. petal

    Bernie is speaking in my town tomorrow evening. Would it be something y’all are interested in? If so, I’ll go.

    1. Massinissa

      On the one hand, I certainly would be interested. On the other hand, if you don’t want to go for yourself, then it probably isn’t worth going to. Just go if you want to, and don’t go if you don’t want to.

      1. petal

        As I said before, I’m neutral, just an observer. I try to do a public service and report for others that may be interested and do not get opportunities like this to see these candidates. Cheers.

          1. ambrit

            The conditions concerning turn out, crowd reaction and Bernie’s interaction with the crowd are of interest. What kind of crowd shows up? Does the “uncounted by the polls” youth vote seem to be in evidence?
            I’m interested to see if Bernie has a serious chance at the nomination on the first vote at the convention. If not, it’s going to be full on prepper time since it will be Trump 2.0. in 2020.

        1. Eudora Welty

          Petal, I would hungrily read any type of report that you contributed to this site about the Bernie event.

      1. petal

        Ha! My late (non-Catholic) father used to say that. Funny how certain things can take you back.
        Will do my best to get in.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, a report would be terrific!

      Please e-mail it to Lambert and I will tidy it up and format it and post it.

      If you have any pix you can send them too

      1. petal

        Great, thank you! It is very much appreciated. I will do my best to get in. It also looks like if I do get in, it is standing only because it is outside, so it will be harder to write. Going to try to chase down a clipboard or something. Will also try on a few photos. If I don’t get in, I’ll post that I wasn’t able to so people know. Cheers.

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