Links 10/15/19

Yves here. Thanks so much for your patience with the fundraiser! It is always stressful for us, since we wonder if you still love us or not, but this one turned out very well so we are all pleased and relieved. However, I am a bit fried between this and the news flow (as in the hysteria not only being dialed to 11 but also being sustained), so forgive me for needing to regroup a bit.

Be sure to tune in this evening when Lambert will DJ an open thread (I initially typed “threat,” hhm) for tonight’s Democratic Party debate. He’ll open it up about a half hour before official showtime, which is 8 PM EDT.

Nation’s Indigenous People Confirm They Don’t Need Special Holiday, Just Large Swaths Of Land Returned Immediately The Onion

The smell will knock you off your feet’: mass mussel die-offs baffle scientists Guardian (resilc)

Scientists Create a Material That Captures CO2 And Turns It Into Organic Matter ScienceAlert

How well has China’s ultra low-emissions policy worked? ars technica (resilc)

Indigenous farming practices failing as climate change disrupts seasons National Geographic

Glyphosate Doesn’t Cause Cancer. It Saves Native Ecosystems. Slate (resilc)

I’ll let readers chew on this, but using caffeine as a basis of comparison is extraordinarily disingenuous. The amount of caffeine in coffee and colas is teeny. Pure caffeine is extraordinarily toxic. A research chemist colleague who had 12 patents to her name once took a job running a testing lab (she was a trailing spouse and this was way below her expertise level). For some reason, the lab had a pound of pure caffeine. She was completely freaked out about it. If anyone accidentally got some on their fingertip and put it in their mouth, it would be fatal. She said that pound was enough to kill 50,000 people.

Early Blizzard Wallops Vulnerable Crops Wall Street Journal

China?

Hong Kong Under ‘De Facto Curfew’ as Subway Stations Shut Early Bloomberg

The American crackdown on Chinese intelligence Asia Times (Kevin W)

Brexit

This sham of a Queen’s speech could prove the end for Boris Johnson Guardian (Kevin W). Johnson, like Theresa May, is a dead Prime Minister walking. But her precedent shows they don’t go until they are pushed very hard.

If there’s a pathway, it leads to a dead end Chris Grey. From last week, still important.

Brexit: still anybody’s guess Richard North

A divine, and divisive, institution Handelsblatt (Adrien). On the Bundesbank

Syraqistan

SAA/SDF progress Sic Semper Tyrannis. Resilc:

The whole MSNBC crew seems ready to go fight in the Rachel Maddow brigade. NPR Albany New York liberal round table went on and on and on about USA USA leaving Syria and how tragic…. never ending war. War=careers, promotions and retirement contract jobs for CIA, DoD, State and USAid, never forget that.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity Craig Murray (Chris G). Presupposes you know the case, which makes the argument confusing. Key facts spread out across the article:

After I pointed out that Sacoolas does not appear on the Diplomatic List, does not hold diplomatic rank and is not accredited to a diplomatic mission, and therefore cannot be a “diplomatic agent” under the Vienna Convention, the FCO first admitted this and claimed his immunity stemmed from a separate bilateral agreement, as reported by Sky News….

Jonathan Sacoolas does not have, and has never had, any entitlement to diplomatic immunity in international law. Sacoolas works as an NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton”. His role is support to the interception of communications from British citizens.

China Has Gained the Ability To Spy On More Than 100 Million Citizens Via a Heavily Promoted Official App, Report Suggests BBC

Flaw In Sudo Enables Non-Privileged Users To Run Commands As Root Hacker News

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Sanctions Addicts Look For Their Next Fix American Conservative (resilc)

Haiti and the failed promise of US aid Guardian. An indictment of hte Clintons.

British holidaymakers ‘traumatised’ after arrest at US border BBC. This is not how a confident country behaves.

Trump Transition

Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey for military offensive in Syria The Hill

U.S. to Boost Tariffs on Steel Imports From Turkey Wall Street Journal

Kurds face stark options after US pullback Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Donald Trump and the Derp State The Week (Dr. Kevin)

Your Neighbor’s Christian Education, Courtesy of Your Tax Dollars Atlantic (resilc)

Republican fail: 40 years of tax cuts, record debt and inequality gap USAToday (resilc). Huh? That’s success!

2020

He who must not be named: How Hunter Biden became a conversation-stopper The Hill (Chuck L)

The Sanders/Omar Student Debt Plan Would Create A Million More Jobs Than Elizabeth Warren’s Richard Eskow (Tom N)

How Bernie Sanders would give power to workers in their companies Politico (resilc)

In Midst of Bankruptcy Fight, Elizabeth Warren Said “Joe Biden Should Not Be Allowed to Sell Out Women” The Intercept. If this is semi-official messaging, it is all wrong. The big sin of Biden’s support of 2005 BK “reform” was it hurt women? Really? Not a word about the yoke of undischargable student debt?

Kamala Harris’s Offices Fought Payments to Wrongly Convicted Bloomberg

California Burning

Los Angeles fire began under power lines, cause not known Associated Press (David L)

Massive California power outage triggers chaos in science labs Nature. From last week, still germane.

The Bezzle

Feds to Investigate Hospital Alleged to Have Kept Vegetative Patient Alive to Game Transplant Survival Rates ProPublica

Uber Lays Off Another 350 Employees Across Eats, Self-driving and Other Departments TechCrunch

Zume, the Robotic Pizza Company, Makes Pies Only a Robot Could Love IEEE Spectrum (Michael O)

Facebook puts on brave face with Libra BBC. Delusional.

WeWork Prefers JPMorgan Lifeline to a Rescue by SoftBank Bloomberg

Harley-Davidson Stops Electric Motorcycle Production Due To Charging Problem The Verge

Would You Give Up Google For $17,000 a Year? The Federal Reserve Wants To Know CNBC. This is an utterly ridiculous study. First, anyone who has done marketing will tell you experts figured out decades ago that asking people whether they would buy something and what they would pay produced totally unreliable results, very much biased in favor of considerably overstating their propensity to buy and what they would pay. This likely results from wanting to please or impress the researchers. Second, this study design looks like it plays right into the cognitive bias called the endowment effect, that people value things that they own more highly than they do buying that item.

A Prenup Is the Latest Must-Have For Tech Startup Founders In Love Bloomberg

MMT: REPORT FROM THE FRONT and MMT: REPORT FROM THE FRONT (PART2) Randy Wray, New Economic Perspectives

Class Warfare

There’s a Depressing Difference Between The Sewage of Wealthy Areas And Poorer Ones ScienceAlert

Airbnb now part of Congress’s debate over Silicon Valley’s legal shield Washington Post

Used Cars Cost Almost Double What They Did Nine Years Ago Jalopnik

Becoming White in America New York Times (GlennF)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H’s EB White:

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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145 comments

  1. SITTING STILL

    The use of glysophate in a natrual areas management context (which I have done as part of my vocation) is indeed completely different from its use in an agricultural context. In the former, applications are ceased or drastically recuded once the invasive plant management goals are acheved. Typically, applications are heaviest in the first two years, and then either cease or fall off dramatically. In ag settings, the use is chronic, and potentailly perpetual, with the build-up of glysohpate’s breakdown derivatives (if not the active product itself) as well as the undisclosed “inert” ingredients. Regardless of whether it is more toxic or less toxic, In ag settings, a much higher bar for safety is needed in the US compared to its use to manage invasive non-native vegetation.

    Reply
    1. MT_Bill

      I’ll add that in a conservation context, glyphosate is much more likely to be used as part of an integrated management plan.

      For phragmites mentioned in the article, that could be burning first to open the patch up for treatment by removing standing dead vegetation, using glyphosate on particularly vulnerable regrowth, and then conditioning cows to graze it to keep it from restablishing above management thresholds afterwards.

      Round-up ready ag is all chem, all the time.

      Reply
    2. Braden

      I was about to say the same! The use in both contexts is dramatically different. I remember applying a dollop of RoundUp to the stems of purple loosestrife that were growing in a particularly sensitive wetland habitat. The application was targeted and as limited as possible. It bothers me that this article employs a series of Monsanto talking points that were part of their PR strategy without even reviewing the case made by the so-called ambulance chasers. Monsanto’s own scientists knew there were unacknowledged health risks with RoundUp. The problem may not be the chemical compound glyphosate, but the surfactant used to apply glyphosate in RoundUp. Of course, without the surfactant the herbicide is useless.

      And, the caffeine comparison is so spurious as to be immediately dismissed as an argument in bad faith. The regulation of toxic chemicals is entirely about use, not toxicity. Right now, RoundUp is approved to be used in almost unlimited doses on virtually every type of landscape. It is ubiquitous, and being sold as harmless. Monsanto’s own records indicate it is not harmless, which means it’s use should be limited by federal regulations.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        And of course the precautionary principle has been ash-canned long since — mopes have to prove harm now, and regulatory activities are largely captured by folks like Monsanto. And at what rate does glyphosate degrade to innocuous substances? And are the proponents of this careful management “in natural areas” claiming their “management” is moving the ecology in a “natural” direction, or just some human-preferred direction?

        Maybe the argument is “we only use a tiny. It, and oh so very carefully”? That’s been heard before in other ugly contexts. I do like the FUD offering that it’s the (essential-to-function) surfactants that are maybe the real toxic component.

        I recall some corporate scientist who drank, for the TV cameras, a glass of liquid he claimed was or contained a big dose of 2-4D or some such persistent huge-use-and-profit pesticide or herbicide. Some wag discovered that it was just tap water.

        The rule was supposed to be that it was the burden of the corporation wanting to introduce for profit a new potentially toxic substance, to show that it will not cause harm. Now the little mope has to bear the burden of proof, or the hamstrung regulatory agency or maybe little local government.

        And there is scant attention being paid to the synergistic toxic effects of all the thousands of chemical corporate profit takers and various private and public bodies and individuals have loaded into the biosphere. Have a little pesto-herbicide with your glyphosate-laden Cheerios, and was it down with your nanoplastic-laden milk? Not to worry, it’s only a little dose…

        Reply
        1. sitting still

          The precautionary principle could just as well be applied to the pest/invasive plant-introducing vector of international trade, but we instead rely on overwhelmed/ineffective APHIS enforcement, which results in an inevitable overwhelming cascade of invasive species introductions that are slowly overwhelming natural ecosystems. I think an uneven one-sided application of the precautionary principle in this case would be unhelpful. Moreover, even with glysophate-based herbicides, invasive species management is often (but not always) a losing proposition.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. i just stared at a stand of golden bamboo(planted when i didn’t know what i know now) for an hour.
            I’ll try goats, first.
            as much as i loathe goats.
            planning out clearing and fence building to make that happen.if they don’t work, i’ll eat them and try barbadoes.
            if any effect at all, i could bury stock panel across the ends of the old greenhouse, and try a couple of wild pigs.
            as evidenced by the grasshopper traps under every outside nightlight, i’ll go to some extreme to avoid chemicals.

            Reply
            1. Procopius

              The only way to get rid of bamboo is to cut it as close to the roots as you can get, and then put a heavy tarpaulin over the stubs. After six months or so cut it again and replace the tarpaulin. After a year or two of this the lack of light will finally starve the roots.

              Reply
    3. JohnnyGL

      Yes, agree with the general tenor of comments around here re: Glyphosate.

      It’s a useful tool as a scalpel.
      It’s a terrible idea to carpet bomb it on our food.
      It’s even worse to design our food production system around the need for regular such carpet bombing practices….all to move more product and boost Monsanto’s revenue.

      Reply
    4. xkeyscored

      Glyphosate or surfactant?
      While the surfactant may indeed be toxic in its own right, or in conjunction with glyphosate, it appears that glyphosate itself probably has effects Monsanto didn’t look for, or covered up.
      Glyphosate “binds to and blocks the activity of the enzyme enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase,” and since humans don’t have that enzyme, Monsanto happily told us we’ll all be OK eating, drinking and breathing Roundup.
      However, many of our gut bacteria – the famous gut microbiome – do have this enzyme, so they get all messed up. Which may account not only for glyphosate’s indirect carcinogenicity, but also for why different studies reach inconsistent conclusions. “Disruption of the microbiome has been associated with a number of negative health outcomes, such as obsesity, diabetes and immunological problems.” – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/glyphosate-shown-to-disrupt-microbiome-at-safe-levels-study-claims

      Reply
      1. rd

        Most invasive species applications in sensitive environments use “Rodeo”TM which has a different surfactant from “Roundup”TM. This allows it to be applied on invasive species in and near wetlands without harming critters. I believe Roundup is used in agriculture as well as sold for home use.

        Reply
    5. MT_Bill

      I’ve worked in the invasive species control arena for almost 20 years now and have dealt with a lot of issues surrounding herbicide and other toxicant use for various plant and animal species. This is everything from on the ground use to being involved in informing policy decisions.

      I can’t speak to Mr. Williams intent with this article, but can say that based on his body of work, he has always appeared as someone who was trying to do an honest job of covering a topic, and has been willing to take some stands on conservation that would be unpopluar with his mostly hunting and fishing audience. But that doesn’t imply he will always get it right. As for the caffeine comparison, probably not the best but it does serve to make a point about the difference between the amount of active ingredient and the solution itself.

      I’m basing this off of the herbicide label for Rodeo (an aquatic use formulation of glyphosate) and backpack sprayer use as pictured in the article. The herbicide in the jug as you buy it itself is 53% glyphosate. No information is given on the other 47% and its potential toxicity or lack thereof. For phragmites, you use it as a 1 1/2% percent solution as applied. At recommended rates, you end up using 12 ounces of glyphosate per acre treated. Which is not a lot when you compare it to glyphosates known level of toxiticy.

      But of course there is the potential for lots of unknown levels of toxicity. My own working hypothesis is that there is the potential for impacts to our microbiomes from glyphosate that is not being addressed in any regulatory manner, and given the wide range of differences in our microbiomes, would be very difficult to detect and isolate given the samples sizes used in most studies.

      Reply
    6. heresy101

      You might want to give up beer and wine. “A study released early this year found glyphosate in 19 of 20 beer and wine samples tested, including some made from organically farmed ingredients.”

      “In the United States, farmers use more than 250 million pounds of the poison each year. Globally, about 20 billion pounds have been applied in the past 45 years.”

      ” new research has found that even ultra-low intake levels of glyphosate — 0.1 parts per billion — could have health consequences for humans.”

      “Environmental Working Group, found staggering glyphosate levels in Cheerios and Quaker oat products. The results, released late last year, found more than 2,700 parts per billion of Bayer’s potent week killer in samples of Quaker Oatmeal Squares and hundreds of parts per billion in nearly every other sample tested ”

      “The irony of spraying glyphosate around almond trees is that almond farmers rely heavily on on bees for pollination. New research from Nancy Moran at the University of Texas in Austin shows that contact with glyphosate is detrimental to bees’ health and may lower survival rates.”

      https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/aromas-of-black-plum-and-licorice-with-lingering-notes-of-roundup/Content?oid=27733083&showFullText=true

      Reply
  2. UserFriendly

    Re caffeine:

    If anyone accidentally got some on their fingertip and put it in their mouth, it would be fatal.

    no.

    The LD50 of caffeine in humans is dependent on individual sensitivity, but is estimated to be 150–200 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 lb) of body mass (75–100 cups of coffee for a 70 kg (150 lb) adult)

    1/2 a gram isn’t lethal and I guarantee you would notice that much on your finger. That said it certainly wouldn’t be pleasant ingesting that much.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      What you say is true but kind of beside the point. The comparison of glyphosate to caffeine in the article is very misleading. The Slate piece compares the LD50 of caffeine to that of glyphosate. LD50’s measure the potential of a substance to kill you right here, right now. That tells us nothing about the potential for something to cause cancer by long term exposure to lower amounts than would kill you immediately.

      Reply
    2. Nameful

      but is estimated to be 150–200 milligrams per kilogram

      perhaps slightly less: Caffeine Toxicity

      Lethal doses of caffeine have been reported at blood concentrations of 80 to 100 micrograms/ml which can be reached with ingestion of approximately 10 grams or greater.

      Still, the “fingertip […] would be fatal” is so far out of line that it’s not merely wrong, especially from an over-qualified chemist who should know far better. Makes one wonder …

      Reply
      1. dearieme

        using caffeine as a basis of comparison is extraordinarily disingenuous

        Not so. For years articles appeared in the papers assuring us that “scientists” had shown that coffee was frighteningly carcinogenic. Surely you must remember the joke about the chap who wanted a T-shirt that said “Scientists have proved that coffee causes cancer in Canadian rats”.

        For all I know it’s the same sort of “scientists” who have proved glyphosate to be a dangerous carcinogen. Many of these stories eventually prove to be false or wild exaggerations. Maybe this one will too. Who knows?

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          For all you know. And there sure seems to ba rather large consensus, backed by data, that glyphosate is not as innocuous as even caffeine…

          Maybe those who deny the consensus on human-caused climate change are moving to newer pastures?

          As an enforcement attorney with the US EPA, I got a belly full of the dishonest and corrupt practices of Monsanto, Dow and many others. It’s only gotten worse.

          Reply
          1. inode_buddha

            Actually I would love to hear the stories. How about the automakers? I’m willing to bet they’ve been fudging the numbers for decades

            Reply
            1. JTMcPhee

              There’s a book that covered a lot of my time at EPA, “A Season of Spoils.” https://www.amazon.com/Season-Spoils-Reagan-Administrations-Environment/dp/0394721462

              Maybe you can get it through your library. I think the book suffered from there being just too much material to cover.

              One bit that I was involved in was helping draft a report on Dow Chemical’s nastiness at its plant in Midland, MI and all around it. A senior Reagan appointee gave Dow’s guys the draft, which they re-wrote to their liking, redacting all the nasty bits and giving it back to be officially released as sweetened up. Too bad the Detroit Free Press got copies of the original and revised versions to compare. That was back when there was a bit more of a “free press” than we have today, and some brave legislators before the corps captured the whole bunch were willing to at least hold meaningful hearings and ask and demand complete answers to hard questions, actually do some investigation. Not no more.

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                The Detroit Free Press did some great investigative reporting on how Flint’s water supply was poisoned. It seems there are still some local press organizations that actually try to dig out the truth.

                Reply
          2. Plenue

            “And there sure seems to ba rather large consensus, backed by data, that glyphosate is not as innocuous as even caffeine…”

            But there isn’t, at least in regards to humans. There’s evidence that it’s bad for bees, which is a very good reason not to use it. But the idea that it causes cancer isn’t remotely supported by the evidence, and I include the shoddy science cited by the IARC/WHO judgement in that. There’s hundreds of studies showing no connection between glyphosate and cancer. We can say that science has gotten crapified and corrupt, but to that degree? The authors of all those studies, and the people who peer reviewed them, are all bad at their jobs or on Monsanto’s payroll? That I find very hard to accept.

            Meanwhile the side that says it does cause cancer can’t muster a single credible paper to support their case. And court judgements aren’t science.

            I have no sympathy for Monsanto/Bayer for the same reason I don’t have sympathy for any megacorporation. And even if it’s completely harmless GMOs and related products should never have been rolled out like they were in the form of a mass-experiment on the public. But I want to attack corporations for things they’re actually guilty of.

            Reply
            1. Marcus Tully

              A “court judgment” is a collective judgment by twelve qualified citizens who have all the evidence that can be assembled by both sides. The verdicts are in.

              Reply
          3. Amfortas the hippie

            dow and the rest of the gang are quite shitty, in the main.
            when i b&tched and moaned to the epa about my herbicidal cowshit problem, they were vocally sympathetic….but their hands were tied unless enough of us—-US!—- filed a formal complaint, which would enable them to get past a lot of the proprietary duck blinds dow and the poisonous horde hide behind.
            they even keep the soil test for “persistent herbicides” a secret…not even required to give it to the epa.
            i filed a formal complaint, of course…which was way harder than it should have been.(this is maybe 10 years ago)

            turns out…all that hollerin about regulation?
            not really there(unless you’re tiny)
            poison cartel wrote the rules.
            around here, cancer rates are high among field hands and pest control people….and the few who still use well water in the Barrio.
            unusual cancers, to boot.
            concentrated among people who are unlikely to have insurance of any kind.
            bake sale nation.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              Maybe it is another one of those stealth programs like the opioid epidemic. It’s profitable and it reduces and controls the disposable, deplorable population.

              Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am curious how they get from 80 to 100 microgram/mil (of blood?) to 10 grams or greater.

        Googling, it appears that there are 5,000 ml of blood (plus or minus a few hundred).

        Reply
    3. xkeyscored

      If anyone accidentally got some on their fingertip and put it in their mouth, it would be fatal.
      I suspect that someone has got caffeine and nicotine mixed up. 60 mg of pure nicotine might stick to your finger, and was once thought a fatal dose.
      “Standard textbooks, databases, and safety sheets consistently state that the lethal dose for adults is 60 mg or less (30–60 mg), leading to safety warnings that ingestion of five cigarettes or 10 ml of a dilute nicotine-containing solution could kill an adult.”
      The article goes on to question that received wisdom: “His [Rudolf Kobert (1854–1918), a renowned pharmacologist and pioneer of toxicology in Germany] excellent reputation as a leading scholar in toxicology has apparently led to uncritical acceptance and citation of the 60-mg dose by contemporary fellows and successive researchers,” and “there are countless records of subjects who survived consumption of nicotine in amounts far higher than 60 mg … ingestion of tobacco or nicotine gums at doses up to 6 mg/kg nicotine was reported to evoke symptoms of intoxication without causing death (Malizia et al. 1983; Smolinske et al. 1988). These and many other literature reports on nonfatal nicotine intoxications are hardly compatible with a lethal dose of 60 mg or less.”

      Reply
    4. kareninca

      The FDA no longer allows bulk caffeine to be sold directly to consumers: https://www.newsweek.com/fda-bans-pure-bulk-caffeine-products-citing-significant-public-health-concern-886281. I can’t tolerate coffee, but I do take a caffeine capsule every morning. When I first started I wanted to buy bulk to avoid additives, but then came up against the bulk sale ban. Apparently people will put a whole scoop in a glass!! Fortunately you can get capsules with no fillers. I would say there is about 1/8 tsp. in one of the capsules.

      ” “Highly concentrated and pure caffeine, often sold in bulk packages, have been linked to at least two deaths in otherwise healthy individuals,” the agency stated.

      Parents of one of the people who died, 18-year-old Logan Stiner, called in 2014 for the powder to be banned. They told NBC News they found the packet of powdered caffeine the day after their son died. His mother’s first reaction was “that couldn’t have killed him,” she said. “We’re guessing he had a teaspoon, maybe more, in his system.””

      Reply
    5. Yves Smith Post author

      I know that figure is conventional but I don’t buy it.

      I wound up in the hospital with a blood pressure of <70 over 40 having ingested about 12 cups of coffee in a six hour period cramming for an exam. A toxicity test would assume you took it all at once, not over six hours. And I normally consumed 3-4 cups of coffee a day. This was when I was 18, so plenty healthy.

      Reply
  3. toshiro_mifune

    Flaw In Sudo Enables Non-Privileged Users To Run Commands As Root

    uh oh …. Looks like I’ve got about 1300+ servers expecting emergency patching soon.

    Reply
    1. human

      Ha, ha. Another example of a technological shortcut with a flaw. Just tested the su command on my unpatched Debian laptop. Obviously, does not recognize a -1 option and there is no password entry for user 429etc.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        The effective result is that user-granularity restrictions in sudo can be trivially bypassed if configured in a particular fashion. The flaw isn’t terribly relevant to single-user systems like a laptop or private desktop, which wouldn’t likely be configured with such restrictions.

        Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      Problem does not seem to exist on my desktop install of FreeBSD. (12.10) Most recent updates were yesterday tho — cron checks the repos daily, and I do it manually before installing and upgrading packages/ports.

      Reply
    3. LarryB

      It requires a very specific, seldom used, configuration. The “runas” part of the sudo rule needs to be (ALL, !root). This allows you to gain root access in that case. It works with just (ALL), too, but doesn’t grant any access not already granted. The “!root” should probably be used more often than it is, but this won’t grant any access on most servers that isn’t already there. Again, much hysteria over something pretty inconsequential.

      Reply
  4. Amfortas the hippie

    on glyphosate/roundup.
    i’m organic in my bones…and i agree with the article.
    invasive plants are, indeed, a huge problem…and many times, they’re impossible to get rid of/mitigate without chemical intervention.
    as he states, the real problem is industrial ag, and their penchant for broadcasting whatever loathsome chemical far and wide.(and dow/dupont/monsatan are great evils, make no mistake!)
    spot treatment is often a responsible way to tackle an intractable problem.
    even i use glyphosate…very carefully, and not without trying everything else first.
    “burr clover” is my nemesis…came in on my tires from a place i worked, and doesn’t care about fire, or even vinegar…they just induce rapid seed setting(sharp little seeds that stick to everything)…nothing eats it that i can tell. the hoe works, mostly, but it grows back from the root about half the time…and it’s low growing: mower doesn’t get it, and it’s often all but invisible beneath the grass and such…until it chokes that out.(even with my constant surveillance, i didn’t know there was a problem until it was far beyond an inconvenience)
    just like with pain management, i use the ladder…starting with least harmful and working my way up.
    there are much worse ag chems to worry about out there..being used willy nilly and without thought….the persistent herbicides are my least favorite…how can we switch to organic/regenerative ag when manure is itself an herbicide?
    and the neonics should be banned outright…they are a study in counterproductivity…killing the birds, bees, and “good bugs” that should be our allies.
    glyphosate…like 2-4-D…breaks down relatively rapidly in sunlight, and if used with care and in a responsible manner(like the Nature Conservancy, which is where i got my cue), can help mitigate some of the ancillary effects of past human screwups.
    i expect to be excommunicated for this, but i stand by it…and i didn’t arrive here overnight.

    Reply
    1. Phacops

      Agree that there is a profound difference between ag use and use for restoration.

      I have a lot of Autumn Olive, a very aggressive invasive, on 40 acres and found that herbacides like glyphosate don’t work. I’ve had to use triclopyr in basal oil, but applied on cut stumps. So I don’t broadcast the herbacide but only paint the cut stumps with it for a very selective application. Mode of use is as significant as mode of action.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      My neighbor used glyphosate applied to the stump to control Japanese knotweed along our driveway. It’s a major invasive here – huge among other things. It’s about gone, but continued vigilance is required. Of course, she used a tiny amount, very tightly applied. All the other weeds are thriving, including blackberries, another invasive here that are at least edible and tasty. And one of our main honey sources.

      Now if I could find a biological for poison oak…(western version of poison ivy. Yes, I get it.)

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        cut that thing back(and burn it, but do not breathe the smoke!)
        then, when it leafs out again, in a smaller more manageable way, soak the new leaves with full strength cleaning vinegar…and keep soaking it.
        they often grow up against desirable trees…which is worrisome…but if the tree is big enough, it will likely survive….even enjoy the acidity(depending on a bunch of variables, of course…we’re really alkaline out here)
        might take many applications…and a lot of time…but vinegar is readily broken down into healthful things.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          I came across horticultural vinegar – 30%. But it’s expensive; need to find a better source.

          Good tip; I’ll try it. Keeps popping up on fences.

          Reply
  5. The Rev Kev

    I recognize Tracie cat. That is the one that has a marking on its face that looks like a mouse is running down it! And that Chameleon looks like that it was computer generated imagery but before the details have been added.
    Tough that, toshiro_mifune, having to patch so many servers but damn, being able to run as root like that? That is not good. That headline jumped right out at me while I was seeing what was in today’s Links. I bet that the NSA is saying “Damn! They found it!” right now.

    Reply
  6. David

    It might be worth expanding on some of Richard North’s remarks about Brexit timetable problems. I can think of at least three activities that might eat up a lot of time, even when the actual text has been agreed.
    The first thing will be to look at what has been agreed and to check the existing text of the WA to see what if anything else needs changing. Even if only the Protocol is being renegotiated (and we don’t know that) it will likely have other implications.
    The next thing will be to see whether anything in the new text could conflict with any of the immense number of laws, decrees regulations etc. already in force, including agreements the EU is party to, and international treaties generally (remember, this is an agreement affecting two nations, one of which is to leave the EU).
    And finally, the Commission will have to comb through the legislative forest in Brussels to find laws and regulations which will have to be altered as a consequence of the modified agreement.
    With a bit of luck it might be possible to convene a working group to start looking at these issues before the end of the week, but that’s about it. And if it turns out that there’s something that contradicts, or could be held to contradict existing legislation, then the way would be open for legal challenges.
    Of course, there are short-cuts: it may take months to tidy up some technical EU regulations on agriculture, for example, but that could be done after the agreement. Nonetheless, with such a complex task and such a short timescale, and with the initiative having come from the UK, almost certainly without having been looked at by technical experts first, there’s enormous scope for delay and confusion.
    Some of the media today has also been hinting at friction between the Commission and member states, which would not be surprising. The Commission, as well as being independently very powerful, is the guardian of propriety and detail, and is probably deeply unhappy at the way things have been going over the last week.

    Reply
  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Indigenous agriculture and early blizzards–

    Two articles emphasizing how delicate annual crops are being adversely affected by climate disruption remind us what a challenge it will be to double food production by 2050 to meet the needs of a still growing planetary population. My personal observation of the effects of our new late springs followed by a summer drought is that perennials hold up well while annuals struggle, especially if you don’t have the means to water adequately during the dry spells.

    Should we be switching more food production toward perennials? There are three problems with this solution:

    1) Perennials take time and effort to get established and begin bearing usable food;

    2) Perennials generally don’t produce as abundantly as annuals; and

    3) Calory-dense foods like grains are generally annuals though the work on perennial grains is promising.

    We’d better get cracking.

    Reply
  8. Livius Drusus

    Re: There’s a Depressing Difference Between The Sewage of Wealthy Areas And Poorer Ones.

    None of this is surprising. I am amazed at the widespread denial that so many social problems have their roots in economics and class. It seems pretty obvious to me. Inequality is getting so bad that it is almost as if people live on different planets. And yet you see people suggesting that “whiteness” or “toxic masculinity” are behind things like the surge in deaths of despair. If economics is brought up it is often couched in terms of why won’t these people just move or train for new economy jobs or the usual sermons about getting religion or becoming mindful or some other advice that assumes that people’s problems are just a product of bad attitudes.

    On a related note, I am not sure if Naked Capitalism posted this but there is a study that shows a connection between the opioid epidemic and free trade policies and their resulting job losses and social dislocations.

    https://www.statnews.com/2019/10/08/free-trade-policies-opioid-epidemic/

    Sadly, many people will balk at any talk about the negatives of free trade because we all know Trump is a protectionist so now free trade is good because the Bad Man is against it. I apologize for the sarcasm but it is tiring trying to get people I know to see that our problems are largely driven by material conditions. My affluent family and friends, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, just don’t want to hear it and I think this is true for the wider society as well.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        You may have a point there. When testing the river Thames, high levels of cocaine were found – as well as caffeine. The article (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cocaine-london-river-thames-water-research-kings-college-study-fish-high-drugs-a8738146.html) noted that “London is known as one of the highest consumers of cocaine and this suggested everyday usage”. That study, by the way, was done in Australia and found that the following-

        Wealthier and better educated areas also had much higher concentrations of the biomarkers associated with eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as grains. All of these are associated with a healthier overall diet.

        The truth of the matter is that fast food is much cheaper than healthy foods here in Oz and it is not just a matter of “educating” people so that they can make better choices. It comes down to what you can afford to feed yourselves and your families on a budget.

        Reply
        1. dearieme

          biomarkers associated with eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as grains. All of these are associated with a healthier overall diet.

          I’ve never seen any evidence that eating grains is part of a healthier overall diet. Surely fast food aficionados are forever wolfing down grains – rolls, pizza, noodles, …..

          Reply
        2. xkeyscored

          The truth of the matter is that fast food is much cheaper than healthy foods here in Oz and it is not just a matter of “educating” people so that they can make better choices. It comes down to what you can afford to feed yourselves and your families on a budget.
          And it’s time as well as money. For those struggling to get by working two or three jobs, fast food is about all you can squeeze in.

          Reply
    1. Dan

      Oh no!

      “SewagEquity” Another thing to potentially base public policy on…

      Australia is not the U.S. Don’t know what drugs they use there, but thanks to yesterday’s excellent report from Christopher J on the Australian health care delivery system, there seems to be more availability of everything without price being an issue.

      In the U.S., I seriously doubt that there are more anti-depressants taken in poor areas than in rich ones, based on my experience volunteering to check kids into a summer camp a few years ago, where every drug they took had to be listed and put in a special bag. It seemed that 60% of them were on Adderall and other things a psychiatrist would prescribe versus the M.D. prescribed asthma inhalers for the kids with scholarships.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Yes in the U.S. poor people would be far less likely to go to the doctor or the shrink to get drugs in the first place I’d think – afterall, that’s costly! I mean people unless they are doing well financially, really do avoid the doctor whenever possible if there are any costs.

        Only where you have universal and affordable healthcare might you see that. Now that may be bad or good depending on one’s take on psyche drugs and whether they do more good or harm, but the lack of medical access overall is of course bad.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          I think even people who are doing well financially avoid going to medical treatment as much as they can. Back in the ’20s there were advertising campaigns to try to get people to think of going to the hospital as taking a vacation at an inexpensive resort. They showed sunny, comfortable rooms and praised the food. I think ads like that would be an object of hilarity today.

          Reply
    2. Plenue

      In my experience very few people have any idea that there even are deaths of despair, or how widespread it is if they do know about it. It’s very easy to berate ‘white people’ or dismiss Trump voters as unthinking racist cavemen afraid of losing their privileges if you have little idea of how much of the country is disintegrating.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “Brexit”

    I think that Boris Johnstone by now has realized that he has literally “crossed the streams” and is now waiting for the fallout of his incompetent maneuvers. How long will it be before you have the emergence of a Vivienne Rook to make themselves seem the reasonable candidate-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPI_yV1mWS8

    Reply
    1. Winston Smith

      It will be soon after the Brexit disaster and then that candidate will be dominant for “years and years”…no happy ending in real life

      Reply
  10. jfleni

    RE: Scientists Create a Material That Captures CO2 And Turns It Into Organic Matter.

    I must say that posts like these are like some kind of SCIFI
    fantasy; first of all was turning plastic trash into jet fuel!!
    etc.etc; The question is: Who is smoking what?? because they never happen, and are often contradictory in the extreme!

    Reply
    1. Lord Koos

      I’ve been looking not at 10 year-old cars, but 15 year-old Toyotas with relatively low miles on them. I think they are better cars than the newer models anyway, and they don’t have a bunch of “smart” crap built into them. Currently driving a 2002 Camry with 285,000 miles on it. Still runs great but it’s burning some oil. I figure if I find the right replacement with 150k or less miles I’m probably good for another few years.

      Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Study the Great Nation app ‘enables spying via back door'”

    Can’t say that this story really impresses me any. It is a Chinese problem that the Chinese themselves will have to deal with one way or another. What concerns me more is what happens here in the west. I am right now looking at my computer rig and thinking of all the vectors/ways that governments and corporations have rigged things for spying that I have read about over the years. There is the Windows operating system that has been cooperating with the government for decades, there are the updates of which you are never sure what comes packaged with them, there are various programs that may have their own backdoors, the routers themselves have been compromised, there are actual bugs that can be installed in the motherboards or even in the computer cases themselves. And that is just for a run of the mill desktop. That is why my plans for world domination must remain on paper only.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      Windows updates have gotten worse than those Adobe updates.
      And noticed with
      Windows 10 – one has lost total control over how long you can go without implementing them. It’s to the point where they are not suited for the workplace. Unprofessional interruptions.

      Turn off automatic updates used to mean just that…they were turned off until you were ready to install and more choice over the varieties of updates.

      That’s how you know know this is all a lot of surveillance from very frightened people.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        With Windows 10, it is getting worse. Microsoft is trying to force people to have their files on the cloud and not on the local machine. The article below suggests you kill your internet connection before installing Windows 10 to make it give you a local account on your computer-

        https://www.ghacks.net/2019/09/30/report-microsoft-makes-it-difficult-to-create-local-accounts-in-windows-10/

        I say to hell with Windows 10. I ain’t going there, noway, nohow.

        Reply
      2. amfortas the hippie

        i removed windows firewall and the rest of their defender suite using ccleaner from purified, then installed the free zonealarm firewall etc that i’ve been using for 20 years
        told that firewall to disallow anything thad had update in its string.
        result: no more windows hijacking updates, turning on my machine at 1am and reinstalling all their odious bells bugs and whistles
        fight the power

        Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            Windows was kind enough to do it for me. One of its updates, about a year ago, left this computer with unstable Bluetooth and a few other quirks, but since then it will not update even if I try. “We couldn’t check for updates, because you aren’t connected to the Internet. Make sure you have a cellular data or Wi-Fi connection and try again.” Well, if you’re reading this, I guess I’ve got a connection whatever Windows says.

            Reply
            1. Duck1

              I’ve got a kind of cheap Lenovo laptop that to me seems to have a vast hard disk. Not big enough for a Windows update though. It keeps pleading me to do something about it.

              Reply
              1. WobblyTelomeres

                Amfortas refers to the ccleaner utility which works really well in cleaning up a winders drive. My better half uses it remotely to “repair” her 85yo mother’s laptop every other month or so. Might solve your problem. Here’s a link.

                Reply
              2. Lord Koos

                After 25+ years as a Windows user I’ve switched to using Linux Mint and love it. I have set up a dual boot with Windows 10 but the only time I ever boot into Windows anymore is to use itunes to put music onto my phone. It’s a real blessing to be out of Microsoft world — no forced updates, very few glitches, less drive space use, and everything runs faster and more smoothly with far fewer spikes in CPU usage.

                If you are using Windows, CCleaner is indeed a great app.

                Reply
        1. Procopius

          I installed Windows 10 for about half an hour and hated it. That was back when they were giving it out for free. I uninstalled it, reverted back to Windows 7 and will continue using that until it fails to the point where I put Ubuntu (or maybe Fedora) on my hard drive. I was already using mostly open software programs (GIMP, Libre Office)

          Reply
      3. Bugs Bunny

        This rabbit turns his work “PC” on once a month to let all that (family blogging) stuff happen over a day or two and then turns it off and goes back to the personal Mac.

        And I had to uninstall Catalina. What a nightmare that was for the past week. Ruined my workflow, turned 1000$ worth of installed software into *poof*. Got it all back though, thanks to help on the Internet.

        I also wanted to go back to iOS 12 but it’s no longer signed by la Pomme.

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It may be a Chinese (or Russian, British, etc) problem but people will still compare and make comments.

      One observation to be made is that a person in Australia can criticize problems in Australian, or an American in America about issues in the US or leaders in DC, etc. We read them here all the time.

      In contrast, we don’t read (here), as often, if at all, critical remarks out of Russia about Moscow or the leaders in the Kremlin, or out of China about Beiing.

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        We can read, and we can write.
        But go out on the streets to protest the latest police killing, and you’re liable to get beaten if not shot.
        Fight an illegal US invasion, or just look as if you might be fighting it, and a helicopter gunship could gleefully terminate you. Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange availed themselves of their freedom to publish that, and look where it got them.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Well, whether they are melanin deficient or not as well as where the protests are does determine just how quickly and brutally the protesters will be put down. That is probably not much help to some white dude getting his head whacked with a baton, mind you, but it does mean that a white man can get more vocal before the beatings and arrests begin.

          It is just when they decide to deal with the proles, they deal with everyone in front of them regardless of how they look or what they are doing. And it is very fucking scary to see with one’s own eyes some people go insane and start legally beating on everyone regardless of whether they were protesting or not. Business suits and pale skin will not save you, just having a uniform will.

          Reply
        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We all have to cherish what we have.

          And if what we have is not a lot, do we give up?

          Do they have any sites, or one site, like this website, in Moscow or Beijing? And if that’s all the world has, just this great website, it is still precious that we can learn, express our opinions and engage in debates/discussions here, in this country, even with all that surveillance mentioned here, and we don’t give up hope that things can change, for the better, with or without protesting on the streets.

          And hopefully, Russia and China can become more democratic that sites like this will show up over there. where top leaders can be criticized.

          Reply
      1. pjay

        At least five smart-ass comments immediately popped into my head when I read this. I hope I can get some credit for not posting them.

        Reply
  12. Titus

    “Scientists Create a Material That Captures CO2 And Turns It Into Organic Matter ScienceAlert” . Nature does same thing calls it ‘plants’.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      True enough, but this one does look promising compared to most of the carbon capture stuff I read about.
      “The newly developed method sucks CO2 molecules out of the air, without expending much energy in the process,” unlike other methods so far. It also uses a zinc catalyst, and zinc is cheap and plentiful and not highly toxic.

      Reply
      1. jefemt

        How much Zinc is required for Team 7 Billion(tm)? How is it procured, what is the full-life-cycle cost all-in, including carbon-based extraction techniques?

        This darned no free lunch phydics thing keeps rearing its ugly head.

        I’m thinking the dark matter we do not understand much less probe as an energy source is the answer. The stuff is EVERYWHERE. We have 11 years.

        and, on another note— some folks are on the leading edge of issues their entire lives… and have the scars to show for it 13.5 minutes

        https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/story/jane-fonda-protesting-is-the-least-i-can-do/vi-AAILWlw

        Reply
      2. jef

        Zinc is non-corrosive but very toxic to plants.
        Mining zinc is also part of other highly toxic processes.
        Overall zinc levels in the environment are steadily increasing to toxic levels due to industrial processes.
        Also the amounts required to make a difference in CO2 levels is gigantic.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Cents are 97.5% zinc and cost almost 2 Cents to produce, and have scant use in commerce. About the only thing keeping them being minted is the zinc lobby.

          Gresham’s Law hit pennies in 1982, heretofore they used to be 95% copper. A Dollar’s worth of the old guard is worth about $1.35 @ melt value.

          Reply
  13. Fraibert

    Regarding the BBC article about the vacationers detained in the US for crossing the border, it strikes me as an example of removing discretion from low-level personnel (government and private alike).

    The “police” referenced in the article (side note: the fact that the BBC apparently spent no time determining which agency was involved in the initial arrest is extremely subpar reporting) are almost certainly the Border Patrol. I suspect your average Border Patrol agent would prefer not to spend a few hours booking inadvertent border crossers, and such efforts are a waste of limited resources for the entire system. Moreover, Border Patrol agents, using a mixture of trained observation and common sense, would almost certainly be very accurate in assessing whether such crossers truly made a mistake.

    Reply
      1. RMO

        Local news quotes the US authorities as saying the people in question had previously been denied entry at the border. I live about ten minutes away from 0 Avenue (which runs right alone the border on the Canadian side of the line) and know this border area quite well – their story about somehow innocently swerving and then continuing to drive on the wrong side of the border is at least questionable and at most very suspicious. It would need a lack of awareness approximately equal to someone not noticing they had a leg amputated until the realized they had been falling over every time they stood up for the past month. On the other hand border patrol, on both sides, can be ridiculously over the top and savage – Vogon Spaceship Guard style. I intensely dislike crossing the border myself because of this. I also think there could be some reason to believe their story because I can’t imagine many reasons for British citizens to be so driven to get into the US that they would go to so much trouble to do so.

        Reply
  14. jfleni

    RE: Los Angeles fire began under power lines, cause not known.

    When I was growing up in Boston, I clearly remember the
    mad dash to move to CA; after conflagrations galore,earthquakes, and the peculiar attitude only found
    in CA, there must be many regrets, even after 80 years!

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      I had chats on some blog over just how scary a particular natural phenomenon was. Everyone was more scared of the other person’s local disasters than their own. Grown men were saying earthquakes were so scary, and yet the local floods, tornadoes, blizzards, or hurricanes of a particular state were just fine to them. Fine as in easy to deal with despite the destruction and death.

      Having lived through California’s seasons of fires and floods, seasoned with riots and earthquakes, I’m not particularly scared of them. Basically it’s meh. I think that it’s not what you are likely to go through that is scary, but the unfamiliarity of it. Don’t get me wrong even power outages are really annoying, yet like almost anything become just another annoying hassle.

      Reply
  15. dearieme

    British holidaymakers ‘traumatised’ after arrest at US border BBC. This is not how a confident country behaves.

    Quite right: if the Quisling Remainers had not undermined British confidence then these people would not have bleated about trauma but simply laughed at the silly, childish, frightened Yanks.

    Reply
  16. xkeyscored

    The American crackdown on Chinese intelligence Asia Times
    It appears that the cunningly evil Chinese have been engaging in espionage.
    As have US personnel posted to spy bases in the UK. – The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity Craig Murray
    Wondering why a US citizen magically acquired – or didn’t – diplomatic immunity and fled the UK after a fatal road accident, Murray suggests “the only explanation I can think of is that it was hoped by getting them out the country to avoid all publicity and scrutiny of Jonathon Sacoolas’ real job, which is to spy on British citizens’ communications for GCHQ, who face legal impediments in doing so. … Sacoolas works as an NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton”. His role is support to the interception of communications from British citizens. As I explained in Murder in Samarkand, the NSA and GCHQ share all intelligence reports, but each faces legal constraints on mass spying on its own citizens. So the NSA has staff here fronting the spying on British citizens, while GCHQ has staff in the US fronting the spying on US citizens, and the polite fiction is that the results are transmitted back over the Atlantic to the US or UK respectively, before being “shared” with the partner intelligence agency.”
    (Pretty much as explained by Duncan Campbell thirty years ago, long before Snowden’s updates – “Special teams from GCHQ Cheltenham have been flown in secretly in the last few years to a computer centre in Silicon Valley near San Francisco for training on the special computer systems that carry out both domestic and international interception.”)

    Reply
    1. Daryl

      I had a hearty chuckle when I read this. I’m sure Our Intelligence Community will have great success in rooting out spies, especially now that they’re really trying (they apparently weren’t before).

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Jonathan Pollard. And a bunch of others. Still deep I n the Empire’s secrets. https://www.corbettreport.com/a-brief-history-of-israeli-spying-in-the-us/

        And in the supersecret National Counterintelligence and Security Center, there is a little “museum” dedicated to the many spies and “traitors” who gave or sold US Supersecrets to Hostile Powers. https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/10/05/wall-spies-new-museum-you-cant-visit-dedicated-american-turncoats/

        Of course in this age of Imperial Irrelativism, one dare not point out that Our Spooks Do It Too, and with often laughable incompetence both in espionage and counterespionage. From the CIA’s website:

        https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol53no1/the-cia-and-the-culture-of-failure-u.s..html

        Reply
    2. wilroncanada

      xkeyscored
      Crackdown on Chinese intelligence.
      Just bring a few million at a time to the US and enroll them in US schools. The US, through its education reforms, has been cracking down on US intelligence for many years. It has certainly borne fruit for the US. It would certainly crack the intelligence of Chinese students just as readily, as quickly as US television, US movies, and US social media.

      Reply
  17. From the Year 2525

    It’s caffeine, not tabun nerve agent. The mean lethal dose [LD50] of ingesting pure anhydrous caffeine for a 70kg person is about 10.5 grams. Which is roughly two and one-half teaspoons. Anyway, the radon in the soil will give you cancer before the Round-Up does. And if you live in a garden apartment in Iowa? Forget about it. Not to apologize for chemical multinationals, but Bayer is a fall guy for the production of much grimmer substances. Given the intimacy of food, people become paranoid when visualizing the spraying. Yet, that same food also contains biocidal heavy metals from the industrial byproduct inherent to a civilization trucking sustenance for a billion people from here to there. Earth is the only alien planet we can know and it’s a hostile acquaintance.

    Reply
      1. RMO

        Syria in… imagine that – Syrians in Syria. The sheer, unmitigated cheek of the fiends! Whatever is the world coming to?

        Reply
  18. rd

    It turns out that the US is the second most socialist country in the world after France or Netherlands, depending on what you measure. This is if you count private health insurance premiums paid by employers or individuals as the equivalent of a tax. https://slate.com/business/2019/09/health-insurance-us-kaiser-study.html

    However, we don’t get many of the benefits of a socialist society because much of the money goes to the healthcare industry corporations instead of to people. also, we get a very unequal healthcare system out of it with many uninsured, the opposite of what the other cheaper healthcare systems provide.

    Reply
    1. JEHR

      Maybe you need a refresher on the difference between “socalist” and private enterprise. We don’t usually think of socialism as giving to the private healthcare industry/and or corporations instead of to the people. Democratic socialism could give the best kind of healthcare which is both non-profit and designed for the benefit of all the people in the democracy.

      Reply
  19. xkeyscored

    SAA/SDF progress Sic Semper Tyrannis
    “If the map is indicative of something more than a fantasy … the SAA and SD allies will drive east from the Kobani area into the flank of the invading Turkish Army and Turkish allied jihadi advance into Syria. At the same time the long isolated SAA garrison at Hasakah is represented as breaking out to Qamishli and Ras al-Ayn on the Turkish border. If all these movements are projected correctly then combat between the Turk invasion and the SAA/SDF seems probable.”
    Turkey is a NATO member. Are other NATO members obliged to come to its defence if its troops or territory are attacked by Syria or Russia, and Turkey requests such assistance?

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      What is amazing is that the NeoCons will pivot from their ranting about Turkey slaughtering Kurds to demanding that the U. S. and NATO immediately come to the aid of Turkey if things get nasty between them and Syria and/or Russia.

      Bigger wars are better!

      Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      There must be a mandated foreign “ally” support hierarchy somewhere in the Constitution that the “framers” intended for use when the u.s. is so fubar that it finds itself on both sides of an international conflict that the country should never have butted into in the first place.

      I suspect it goes something like this: whatever Trump says, do the opposite.

      Maybe it’s in a secret amendment written by adam schiff and the dems on the intelligence committee, and ratified by an anonymous whistleblower who was in the cafeteria one day and heard that the “framers” told somebody a long time ago that they had forgotten to include it in the original document.

      Reply
    3. Steve H.

      “to provide access for the United States and other Allies to ports and airfields on the territory of NATO member countries for operations against terrorism, including for refuelling, in accordance with national procedures;” [nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_110496.htm]

      Since Turkey has identified Kurds as terrorists, their anti-terrorist operations can most likely have legal cover for support, even though they have invaded a sovereign country.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Of course the Empire does this every day. “But it’s all nice and legal, see?” Depending on the definition of “legal.” Ask John Yoo, or Antonio Scalia maybe…

        And in the Impeachment Hysteria, we can always put on whatever shade of filters suits our screeching preferences, cutting out all the frequencies that illuminate our own misdeeds and horrors. Tu Quoque no longer has any force, and hypocrisy has been un-worded by the Ministry of Truth.

        Reply
      2. Ian Perkins

        Juan Guaido could be appointed the One True President of Syria, and invite NATO to do its worst to the country on Turkey’s behalf.

        Reply
    4. jsn

      That’s a good neo-con formulation, the Syrians “attacking” the Turkish army IN Syria.

      The nerve, defending their borders, who gave them that right?

      A nations armed forces engaging with an invading army was once called defense, but I suppose that was before DOD forces started invading all over the place…

      Reply
    5. ewmayer

      The local fishwrap where I live yesterday had the lurid headline CHAOS IN NORTHERN SYRIA — they must’ve had to restrain themselves from adding multiple exclamation points. “Chaos” — yah, because Syria had been so *peaceful* since the U.S. started meddling there, supporting the jihadists and trying to foment civil war and false-flag the eeeeeeevil genocidal authoritarian new-Hitler dictator Assad out of office so as to let the moderate jihadists come into charge and embrace peace-loving American-style democracy, as they have in so many other countries.

      Reply
    6. Procopius

      No. The question was raised on a couple of the blogs I follow and the answer is that the NATO treaty does not require member states to aid another member who initiated combat. The European states are no more likely to aid Turkey in their invasion than they are to invite Turkey to join the EU.

      Reply
  20. The Rev Kev

    “Syria”

    Still early days at the moment as the different forces position themselves for the coming weeks. I would guess that the Syrians are using an old Civil War saying and are trying to get north the “firstest with the mostest'”. Turkey may want to capture enough land to dump a few million people in but I have not heard how they plan to make sure that those people are housed or are even fed. If the Turks were smart they would let the Syrians take control of the Turkish-Syrian border to secure Turkey’s southern flank so probably the Russians are negotiating this with them.
    I doubt that NATO will be willing to help out Turkey here as the Turks are the ones doing the attacking and the Americans have already said ‘We’re outta here’. The Russians military will probably not get involved unless they have to and they might hit some of the Jihadists units that the Turks employ just so the Turks understand there are limits. These Jihadists units are no better than the ones that the Syrian have been fighting for years.
    As an example of what they can be like, not that long ago some of them got into a firefight with a female Kurdish unit. After the battle one of them went and cut the breasts of a dead Kurdish soldier off and it was all filmed. The Kurds even identified who she was. And this is the caliber of the Jihadists that the Turks are employing. I would not be surprised if some Jihadist units are leaving Idlib province to go into Turkey and then out into Syria to reinforce Turkey’s forces there. With Erdogan, maybe he just wants to extend his empire-

    https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/10/article/neo-ottoman-turkeys-string-of-pearls/

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      I doubt that NATO will be willing to help out Turkey here as the Turks are the ones doing the attacking
      I don’t think NATO would be at all willing to get stuck in on anyone’s side, but Turkey may well be considering putting NATO on the spot with Article 5. It has done before. From Wikipedia:
      In April 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan considered invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty to protect Turkish national security in a dispute over the Syrian Civil War.[18][19] The alliance responded quickly and a spokesperson said the alliance was “monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to do so” and “takes it very seriously protecting its members.”[20] On April 17, Turkey said it would raise the issue quietly in the next NATO ministerial meeting.[21] On April 29, the Syrian foreign ministry wrote that it had received Erdoğan’s message, which he had repeated a few days before, loud and clear.[22] On 25 June, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister said that he intended to raise Article 5[23] at a specially-convened NATO meeting[24] because of the downing of an “unarmed” Turkish military jet which was “13 sea miles” from Syria over “international waters” on a “solo mission to test domestic radar systems”.[25] A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that the plane “flying at an altitude of 100 meters inside the Syrian airspace in a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty” and that the “jet was shot down by anti-aircraft fire,” the bullets of which “only have a range of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles)” rather than by radar-guided missile.[26] On 5 August, Erdoğan stated, “The tomb of Suleyman Shah [in Syria] and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavorable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land… Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary.”[27] NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen later said in advance of the October 2012 ministerial meeting that the alliance was prepared to defend Turkey, and acknowledged that this border dispute concerned the alliance, but underlined the alliance’s hesitancy over a possible intervention: “A military intervention can have unpredicted repercussions. Let me be very clear. We have no intention to interfere militarily [at present with Syria].”[28] On 27 March 2014, recordings were released on YouTube[29] of a conversation purportedly involving then Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, then National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, and Deputy Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Güler. The recording has been reported as being probably recorded at Davutoğlu’s office at the Foreign Ministry on 13 March.[30] Transcripts of the conversation reveal that as well as exploring the options for Turkish forces engaging in false flag operations inside Syria, the meeting involved a discussion about using the threat to the tomb as an excuse for Turkey to intervene militarily inside Syria. Davutoğlu stated that Erdoğan told him that he saw the threat to the tomb as an “opportunity”.[31]

      Reply
      1. David

        Article 5 comes in two parts. The first says that an attack on one is an attack on all, but only if the attack is in Europe or N America. The second says that well, in that case, every nation will decide what, if anything, it’s going to do about it. Oh, and the UN is then supposed to get involved. It never cased to amaze me during the Cold War how few people realised that Art 5 wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

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        1. xkeyscored

          Article 6
          For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack:
          on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France 2, on the territory of Turkey or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
          on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.

          But yes, on paper and in practice, NATO nations will decide what if anything to do about it. The current US leader for one is unlikely to feel bound by the vague terms of a seventy year old treaty.

          Reply
          1. David

            Yes, not many people read as far as Art 6. We shouldn’t forget that during the Cold War, Turkey was regarded as a major strategic asset by NATO, and needed defending against a putative Russian attack. How things change.

            Reply
    2. Plenue

      Looks like Turkey has already succeeded in one of their goals of cutting the M4 highway.

      As for the Russian military, it depends how we’re defining ‘involved’. They’re already doing patrols west of Manbij (which the SAA has entered). It seems to be working; the Turkish SNA militia trash seem to halted their advance.

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    3. VietnamVet

      NATO, we have a problem. The Airforce Times reports that ’50 nuclear weapons “were now essentially [Turkish President Recep] Erdogan’s hostages” since removing the weapons would effectively spell the end of America’s alliance with Turkey, but keeping them there would leave them vulnerable’. Three years have passed since Turkey said the USA was a participant in the coup attempt against Erdogan.

      It is more than total incompetence. This is seeing the world as flat when it is really round. The Empire is dead. It cannot even protect Saudi’s oil production facilities. Aramco hopes that damage is from first attack will be repaired by the end of November. An Iranian tanker last Friday was hit by two missiles above the water line with damage identical to earlier incidents. Iran indicates a nation state must be targeting Persian Gulf oil tankers indiscriminately. To raise oil prices or start a war with Iran? There are reports that artillery fire is preventing Syria from reclaiming their oil fields. Hopefully this is to cover fire for the retreat into Jordon. If American troops and contractors remain in Eastern Syria to keep the Shiite Crescent cut they are in an untenable position in the middle of nowhere surrounded by enemies. They will run out of supplies if Syria with Russia‘s help establishes a no fly zone over their homeland. They will also be the first casualties if the war with Iran breaks out.

      Democrats demanding that the war continue is incredulous. It is lost. Will any one in the debate tonight besides Tulsi Gabbard support moving American troops out of harm’s way?

      Reply
  21. JohnnyGL

    Re: Nathan Tankus playing with the Tax Justice tool.

    Do note the Obama-alum Austin Goolsbee weighs in with a nonsensical comment objecting by saying “but don’t forget to count the BENEFITS of that health ins, too”.

    WTF is he talking about? Why muddy the waters? Nathan rightly says….’well, then SS isn’t a tax, either because it has bennies, too!’

    Worse, yet, the alleged ‘benefits’ of health ins are subject to the whims of the claims process. There might be no benefits at all if the company just drops you from your policy. Social Security is an entitlement, required to be paid to you by law.

    The bad faith of the team Obama alums is really galling and constant. Their record is indefensible, so they just throw sand in your eyes the whole time.

    Reply
  22. John

    On the glysophate article by Ted Williams: I always note when obscure factoids such as the use for invasive plants in wild areas and caffeine toxicity are used to obscure the real issue. We are injecting this chemical into our environment by industrial ag and Harry Homeowner use at an astonishing and obscene rate.
    Peccatum omissionis.
    Propaganda.

    Reply
  23. Katniss Everdeen

    There must be a mandated foreign “ally” support hierarchy somewhere in the Constitution that the “framers” intended for use when the u.s. is so fubar that it finds itself on both sides of an international conflict that the country should never have butted into in the first place.

    I suspect it goes something like this: whatever Trump says, do the opposite.

    Maybe it’s in a secret amendment written by adam schiff and the dems on the intelligence committee, and ratified by an anonymous whistleblower who was in the cafeteria one day and heard that the “framers” told somebody a long time ago that they had forgotten to include it in the original document.

    Reply
  24. Katniss Everdeen

    Guess who had Matt Stoller on for an interview last night and raved about his new book Goliath.

    Why that would be the dastardly Tucker Carlson on the even more dastardly Fox News.

    The interview wasn’t very long, but the plug was profuse and genuine. Can’t seem to find the clip.

    Hmmmm. Strange bedfellows?

    Reply
    1. pjay

      War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Fox News is “conservative” and Evil. MSNBC is “liberal” and Good.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      However lite it may be, as far as I can tell Stoller is still a capitalist to his bones, and therefore no threat whatsoever to Carlson’s preferred worldview nor the tender minds of Fox’s audience.

      Reply
    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Lifelong “Dem” here whose Agree-O-Meter registers 8 out of 10 with Tucker Carlson. DNC currently registers between 1 and 1.2.

      Arch-conservative John Stossel did a mostly glowing long form interview with Tulsi:

      https://reason.com/video/stossel-tulsi-gabbard-full-interview/

      War. Huugh. Good Gawd. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.

      When the absolutely bleeding obvious meets with the absolutely solid majority wanting out of the Empire business, what’s a self-respecting news anchor to do? Commit journalism, that’s what.

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    4. kiwi

      It is not strange at all if you had been paying attention in the past few years and checked out what was going on instead of relying the dems and those who are on the left who accuse fox of every ism possible.

      Reply
  25. smoker

    Re: British holidaymakers ‘traumatized’ after arrest at US border

    Sickeningly brutal infliction of emotional, physical, and likely financial trauma; it’s not mentioned whether the couple’s employment may be at threat; dependent on how long they’re imprisoned here.

    I guess it won’t be long till even US citizens will be imprisoned for illegally crossing State Borders by foot, bicycle, or vehicle without a State Border Pass, since that’s been implemented in the skies via that ghastly Real ID Act of 2005 (many articles on that here); an policy which neither a Bipartisan Congress, or the horrid Obama Administration has done anything to stop. The lack of mainstream outrage over the Real ID Act has been criminally mind boggling, and shows in the fact that many people are totally unaware of the Real ID domestic flight requirements.

    Reply
  26. David

    Murray is over-hyping the protocol aspects of the Sacoolas case. He was almost certainly an exchange officer of some kind, of which there are thousands in different countries all over the world: military, police, intelligence, civil service, diplomats etc. Often these arrangements are reciprocal, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there is at least one GCHQ officer in the US. None of these people have diplomatic immunity in the classic sense, but in general they would be covered by a Memorandum of Understanding between two organisations (not governments, in the treaty sense) which is not legally binding, but is politically binding and almost always adhered to. One of the usual subjects covered by such agreement is jurisdiction, and what happens in the case of a crime, or accident as here. There are huge numbers of such administrative agreements in every government, and I’m surprised Murray never came across them.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      in general they would be covered by a Memorandum of Understanding between two organisations (not governments, in the treaty sense) which is not legally binding, but is politically binding and almost always adhered to.
      I think much of Murray’s point is that Sarcoolas did not enjoy Vienna Convention style diplomatic immunity, just some informal intergovernmental recognition that she could get away with murder like a real diplomat. I suspect he is well aware of the existing reciprocal arrangements you refer to, but would prefer they be made public via the courts, with attendant mass publicity and government embarrassment, than via his website.
      Murray:
      This fake “diplomatic immunity” needs to be challenged in court, but I am not sure anyone except Harry Dunn’s family has the locus to do this.

      Reply
      1. David

        Well, it depends what you mean by “informal.” MoUs vary, but ( and I’ve negotiated a few) are serious documents below the level of treaties. They firmly commit the signatories: the main difference is that they are not negotiated and signed in the name of heads of state or government, but only between Ministries and government structures. They are nothing to do with the Vienna Convention, and it was wrong of anyone in the UK to suggest that such non-diplomatic staff were covered by anything like the VC, or for that matter the lower status of Administrative and Technical staff.
        The difference is that, whereas the VC is intended to provide protection for diplomats, MoUs are generally signed between friendly nations for their mutual benefit. But where they involve sending people abroad, it’s common to have a clause saying that the sending state will have jurisdiction over the individual if there’s a problem. Just as with diplomatic immunity, this doesn’t mean the person is excused, just that the sending state takes responsibility for any legal sanctions. In that sense, diplomats can’t easily “get away with murder.”
        If this is the case (and we don’t really know) then I don’t see how an administrative decision to allow the sending state to retain jurisdiction could be challenged in court. But we’ll see.

        Reply
  27. shinola

    I don’t like to be the one to bring this up, but The Intercept article about Warren, Biden & the bankruptcy bill does mention the student debt provision. From the article:

    “The bill was finally signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005, and it blocked the ability of people to discharge private student loan debt. Such debt soared in the wake of the legislation, now reaching crisis levels. Biden also opposed an amendment that would have made it easier to discharge medical debt.”

    Perhaps the comment accompanying the link should be edited.

    Reply
  28. ewmayer

    Re. Donald Trump and the Derp State The Week (Dr. Kevin) — Author accuses Trump of dirty-dealing in Ukraine in an effort to avoid a “fair fight” versus that paragon of clean living. Joe Biden, in Election 2020. Hilariously, clicking on the author’s name brings up the following “About” information:

    “David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It’s Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics.

    So Mr. Faris is upset that Trump took his advice and ran with it on the R side?

    Reply
    1. Plenue

      The entire article is also an exercise in “if I say things that makes them true, right?”.

      I particularly loved the jab at Giuliani as being ‘obviously in cognitive decline’, right after bragging how Biden will crush Trump. I want to know what drugs or rose-tinted glasses someone has to be on/have to not see Biden as a gibbering old man.

      Reply
  29. ewmayer

    “There’s a Depressing Difference Between The Sewage of Wealthy Areas And Poorer Ones | ScienceAlert” — Ooh! Ooh! I know this one – the sewage from wealthy areas doesn’t stink, right?

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Well, the wealth don’t *think* it does. But thanks to Science, we can now confirm that the rest of us were right after all.

      Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      Nope, it floats — to the top. Ask any worker, they’ll tell you “$#!t floats” in case anyone is wondering how the heck someone got to the top.

      Reply
  30. JBird4049

    On that article in the NYTimes on becoming white, I don’t know whether to be intrigued, hopeful, or depressed. What was written about Italians in that article could have been written about on the Irish and to a lesser extent on almost every kingdom, empire, or country in eastern and southern Europe; the Irish and Italians both being known to intermix with blacks as they all were roughly the same social class.

    What is depressing is that after fifty to a hundred years the Irish and Italians were given the status of white while their often close neighbors (and sometimes family members) were not. The divide and conquer strategy worked yet again.

    Reply

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