Links 11/25/19

Answering the question that won me the Ig Nobel prize: Are cats liquid? The Conversation. From 2017, still germane.

Coal Power Seen Falling by Record, Helping Emissions Growth Slow Bloomberg

IEEFA update: Moody’s adjusts ExxonMobil credit outlook to negative IEEFA


United Kingdom — 2019 general election Politico. The polls.

Boris Johnson sets out vision for post-Brexit Britain FT

Tory pledge to recruit 50,000 new nurses exposed as ‘fake’ after Boris Johnson unveils manifesto Independent

Don’t even think of handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10, says ex-MI6 chief SIR RICHARD DEARLOVE who claims Labour leader’s radical past portrays the truth about him Daily Mail

The risks to sterling after the UK general election FT

The Manifesto of Sardines. “Dear populists, the party is over. You have awakened us” (Google translate) HuffPo (DJG). DJG comments:

This a new civic movement that has arisen very quickly. It has produced much ferment in the North and in Sicily, which is one of the reasons that I am following it. The Sicilians for centuries were passive-aggressive politically, voting in clowns like Berlusconi and wondering at the bad results. Lately, Matteo Salvini and insults from the Lega have concentrated their minds. I have never seen such demonstrations.

And all of sudden, the 5 Stars are making noises about being okay with an alliance with the left—which means that Roberto Fico may be the man to watch (he’s the chair of the lower house, which is comparable to Speaker of the House).

So the fears of Italy going the way of Orban and the Hungarians aren’t quite accurate.

What will follow current events likely isn’t going to be dire.

Bolivia approves new elections excluding Evo Morales Deutsche Welle. Reading between the lines, however, MAS supporters in the country cut off the food supply for the cities.


New sexed-up dossier furore: Explosive leaked email claims that UN watchdog’s report into alleged poison gas attack by Assad was doctored – so was it to justify British and American missile strikes on Syria? Daily Mail

Netanyahu’s Long and Illustrious Career Is Coming to a Sad and Shameful End Haaretz

Using Iraq and Lebanon uprisings to attack Iran will lead to disaster Middle East Eye


Hong Kong elections: tsunami of disaffection washes over city as pro-Beijing camp left reeling by record turnout and overwhelming defeat South China Morning Post. The results:

Yes, hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in publiic:

Just imagine if digital had been involved (as in Bolivia).

A cautionary note: HK uses “first past the post”:

They have demands:

Universal suffrage as contemplated in the Basic Law is a demand; independence is not.

Less than a rumor, not quite a story:

Sounds like our own political class in 2016. Not reassuring.

* * *

Trump’s trade war is hurting China’s economy, but it’s giving Beijing an opportunity it never dreamed of Business Insider

China’s Rare-Earth Boost Threatens U.S., Australia Growth Plans Bloomberg

Canada’s use of Huawei 5G would hamper its access to U.S. intelligence: U.S. official Reuters (Re Silc).

Climate change: How China moved from leader to laggard FT

China’s High-Speed Railway To Reach 35,000 Km By Year-End Xinhua

The Influence of Railways on Military Operations in the Russo-German War 1941–1945 History of Military Logistics. For train fans and military history buffs alike. From the conclusion:

Railways were the heart of the Russo-German War because they provided the vital link between the economic and manpower capacity of the home country and the forces in the field, and in a country as large as the Soviet Union, they provided the operational level movement needed by the military forces. Geography and terrain defined the layout of the railway network, and the size of forces and the large distances involved meant that railways were the only practical option to support military operations. So inevitably offensive directions followed the railway tracks as much as the terrain.

The STAVKA and GKO realized this, militarized the railways, and put them at the heart of their operations, matching their operations to the available railway capacity. Credit must also be given to the NKPS, who in the period 1930–1938 created a world-class railway by re-writing the rule book and utilizing a low-capital approach to deliver high-traffic capacity.


Impeachment, the Comedy Vanity Fair

Gordon Sondland’s Impeachment Testimony for the Ages The New Yorker

Inside Gordon Sondland’s pay-to-play power grab Axios

America Hasn’t Always Supported Ukraine Like This Defense One

White House review turns up emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid WaPo

First on CNN: Giuliani’s associates boasted of US government ties, Ukraine gas executive says CNN

The transnationalist US foreign-policy elite in exile? A comparative network analysis of the Trump administration (PDF) E. Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, and Naná De Graaff Global Networks. From page 16:

The policy planning network (established by think tanks, research institutes, foundations and the likes) is a key part of the foreign-policy elite…

Indeed, a key finding on the networks of the three previous administrations was that the overwhelming majority of foreign-policy/strategy makers had affiliations with the policy planning network prior to their appointments – 26 and 25 respectively in the case of Clinton and Obama, and 22 in the case of the Bush administration. They held 209, 211 and 162 ties respectively to a total of slightly more than 300 policy planning bodies…. Moreover, we found that, around two-thirds of them (as of 2013, when these data were collected, naturally fewer for Obama), returned to the policy planning network after their stint in government (van Apeldoorn and de Graaff 2016: 78–9). At the top of the American foreign-policy elite there is thus a significant overlap between the policy planning elite and the policy making elite (which is hardly accounted for in the literature discussed in the introduction to this special issue). At least, that used to be the case until the Trump presidency.

As Table 3 shows, the network of Trump’s foreign-policy makers clearly diverges from this pattern. This is not only in terms of the number of foreign-policy makers with previous ties to a policy planning body, which is significantly lower than for his predecessors, though still more than 50 per cent, but particularly in terms of the number of those ties, which with 39 in total is only a fraction of those for Obama (133) and Bush (131).

Biggest Revelations From The Anonymous Trump Official’s New Book The Onion

Trump Transition

New Homeland Security Asylum Rule Allows Removal to Central American Countries That Have Signed Agreements With the U.S. LawFare

Supreme Court says Ginsburg released from hospital Associated Press

Pentagon chief fires Navy secretary over SEAL controversy Associated Press. But:

Of course, there is this: Navy Secretary to Trump: ‘Fire Me’ If $13B Aircraft Carrier Doesn’t Get Fixed (Daily Beast, January 8, 2019) v. USS Ford Will Set Sail With Only 2 Out of 11 Weapon Elevators (Popular Mechanics, Oct 12, 2019) along with The Navy reportedly asked Carnival Cruise Lines for help with its ongoing aircraft carrier maintenance issues (Task and Purpose, November 3, 2019). Carnival Cruise Lines!!! Perhaps all parties have agreed that the real reason for Spencer’s defenestration must remain undiscussed (“not in front of the children”). And I do believe that Carnival Cruise is still offering their “Cruise to Nowhere.” The average cruise ship takes 3,000, and the entire Pentagon houses 23,000 people, so that would be a tidy little contract for Carnival.

Doctors demand “urgent” medical intervention to save Julian Assange’s life WSWS (CT).


Bloomberg places at least $37 million in television advertising over next two weeks Bloomberg. Ka-ching.

Democrats in Disarray

The Lucrative Liberal Business of Killing Health Care Reform The New Republic. “If Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren wants to pass Medicare for All; if Biden or Pete Buttigieg wants to implement his public option, they will have to go around not just health-industry lobbyists and their money but a whole city of careerist worms whose children’s college funds and extravagant lifestyles depend on money scraped from the [Partnership for America’s Health Care Future’s] vaults.” And that’s being generous to Warren, whose artificial dependencies in her “pay-for” and “transition” plans (immigration reform and two bills, one public option, the second #MedicareForAll) seem designed to give these “careerist worms” as many bites at the apple as they need.

Clinton Foundation cash flow continues to drop years after 2016 election loss Open Secrets. Odd.

The US wants to bury SC’s plutonium stockpile forever. Its new home isn’t sure it wants it. Post and Courier

Nearly half of New Orleans’ all-charter district schools got D or F grades; What happens next? Times-Picayune

Public defenders ordered to violate ethics to keep defendants moving through court Kansas City Star

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Next Big Crisis Is Water HuffPo

Health Care

Paging Dr. Robot: Artificial intelligence moves into care Medical Xpress

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Michigan 8-year-old gets photo shoot after being denied school picture for her hair extensions CNN

Imperial Collapse Watch

In Future Wars, the U.S. Military Will Have Nowhere to Hide Foreign Policy

Class Warfare

It’s Not the Greed—It’s the Inequality Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Just like in Mexico, the U.S. wealth gap is massive and dangerous if we don’t turn the tide USA Today

Branko Milanović – Revolution Number 9. Why the World is in Uproar Right Now Brave New Europe

Web inventor has an ambitious plan to take back the net CTV News

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


    1. WheresOurTeddy

      I can never think of George Will without remembering the episode of 30 Rock where Tracy Morgan’s character is pretending to not know how to read but is later seen reading a newspaper with the elevator door closing and lamenting “George Will just gets more and more conservative.”

      And that was 10 years ago…

      1. rockford

        But the best line from Tracy Morgan, lamenting his character’s supposed inability to read: “I think I voted for Nader! Nader!

    2. anon in so cal

      George Will is a Hillary Clinton supporter, virulent Russia-phobe, supported Brennan’s attempted regime change in Syria, etc.

      Will’s statement about Sanders:

      “George Will describes Bernie Sanders’ Soviet Union honeymoon”

      “Will made it sound as if Sanders was visiting to condone Soviet torture practices, but the Burlington trip was more of a dialogue-building exchange program”

    3. zagonostra

      The anodyne for the news columnist George Will is George Orwell.

      “The future of a society drifting from the truth, the more its [elites] will hate those who speak it” – and so Julian Assange is on the cusp of dying while we enjoy our lunch and chatter endlessly…

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Rising/The Hill on fire today about the oligarchs that control the news/the truth. The more I ponder it the more I think this is the absolute crux of our problems.

        And a fun fact: Which nation “donated” the most to the Clinton “Foundation”? Perhaps Saudi, with their sweet $100M? Nope. The answer: The Ukraine.

        That the Dems chose that country and that issue to make their big stand is jaw-dropping. Is Trump secretly funneling cash to Schiff? Because he should be.

  1. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert, especially for the link to Sir Richard Dearlove. Dearlove is an Atlanticist Brexiteer and, unlike the UKIP and Brexit Party loudmouths, usually, but not always, works behind the scenes. US readers may also recall him from Russiagate. He’s one of life’s untouchables. His son, too. The son chaired the industry committee that “oversaw” Liebor and, at the turn of the decade, pushed back suggestions to base the benchmark on transactions and put treasuries in charge instead of swap dealers. The son was quietly “promoted” from leading his employer’s UK activities to Asia. The son has never been questioned about his role in Liebor. Funny, eh? I wonder what the British swamp, including its placemen and women in the MSM, have in store for Corbyn and Sturgeon?

    1. Monty

      Thanks for this. Interesting details!

      Corruption and nepotism whilst completely lacking self awareness…

      It’s not just a Biden thing!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      There was a time when it seemed a bit tinfoil-hatted to assume that the British swamp would promote ‘a very British coup’ against a left wing Labour government. But it does seem that they don’t even bother pretending anymore that they would accept Corbyn as leader, and neither would the majority of the right wing press.

      In all seriousness, I could see a blatant coup against an elected Corbyn government, with counteracting street protests by the left, resulting in something like a civil war.

        1. CoryP

          This was referenced the other day too. I’m often reminded of it. I think it’s such a clear headed analysis. You have to play to WIN

          1. JTMcPhee

            It’s not called “class warfare” for nothing.

            Remember the Buffett summation From 2011:

            “Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”


            History does give the lie to the notion that there is anything of permanence in the political economies of the world. So there’s that…of course there’s no guarantee that the “arc of history” bends in any particular direction. Must not deny anyone their agency…

            1. xkeyscored

              20 years?
              I seem to remember Marx claiming that all history is the history of class conflict. Buffett’s class may have recently had their tax rates reduced, but their power and property rights go back ages. Class warfare is nothing new, it’s just a bit harder to ignore in the current climate.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                The whole “Uncle Warren” schtick and how he is such an awesome investor really boils my blood, his companies were the single largest recipient of secret 2009 free bailout billions.

                I say get him up on stage not with fawning financial journalists but with an African American first-time homeowner:

                Homeowner: “I saved for 20 years for my down payment, now you guys just took my house. Where’s my bailout?

          2. Ignacio

            Now that in Spain PSOE is negotiating with Podemos, most of the media and lobbies that pressure for a German style CDU-SPD alliance (PP-PSOE) are quite nervous about this. Having a real progressive government is something that some cannot simply withstand. With such a narrow view of what a democracy stands for, it might be not a coup, but anything that looks constitutional could be tried to avoid such an outcome.

            A preemptive cuasi-coup. We will see.

      1. paul

        I think they’re trying to avoid a blatant coup by smearing and diminishing the ‘opponent’ which they have done relentlessly since day one of Corbyn.

        Defaming him before the fact makes things just easier.

        He might not be a great choice for me as an independence supporter, but for the rUK he seems like the sane and humane option.

        What little attention I have paid to this latest snap election under the fixed term parliament act, I have been quite horrified.

        The BBC is now basically a sewage pipe from cchq into everybody’s homes.

        1. Monty

          Yes, you’re not wrong. Did you notice that change happen after the Jimmy Saville scandal broke? “They” probably have so much ‘kompromat’ on the brass there, that the BBC will do as it’s told from now on.

          I did have a glimmer of hope watching the ‘leaders question time special’ last week though. What was on display there didn’t match up with the große Lüge coverage they usually give us.

    3. JTMcPhee

      Here’s another one of life’s untouchables, very successful at swimming in the Swamp and doing his dirty work pretty much invisibly — Slade Gorton, once labeled by “liberals” as “Skeletor,” for good reason. High in the political superstructure,” then on to a big second career nailing down the advantages of the Few:

      Post-Senate years[edit]
      In 2002, Gorton became a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (popularly known as the “9/11 Commission”) and the commission issued its final report in 2004. [2]
      In 2005, Gorton became the Chairman of the center-right Constitutional Law PAC, a political action committee formed to help elect candidates to the Washington State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
      Gorton is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. Gorton currently serves as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[10]
      Gorton serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.[11]
      Gorton represented the city of Seattle in a lawsuit against Clay Bennett to prevent the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics basketball franchise, in accordance to a contract that would keep the team in KeyArena until 2010. The city reached a settlement with Bennett, allowing him to move the team to Oklahoma City for $45 million with the possibility for another $30 million.[12]
      In 2010, the National Bureau of Asian Research founded the Slade Gorton International Policy Center. The Gorton Center is a policy research center, with three focus areas: policy research, fellowship and internship programs, and the Gorton History Program (archives).[13] In 2013 the Gorton Center was the secretariat for the ‘Commission on The Theft of American Intellectual Property’, in which Gorton was a commissioner.[14] Gorton is also a Counselor at the National Bureau of Asian Research.[15]
      In 2012, Gorton was appointed to the board of directors of Clearwire, a wireless data services provider.[16]
      Gorton is a member of the board of the Discovery Institute, notable for its advocacy of intelligent design.
      Gorton is currently Of Counsel at K&L Gates LLP….

      [Full disclosure — I was an associate and of counsel to Preston Gates and Ellis, LLP, a firm that was swallowed by Kirkpatrick & Lockhart after I left. No surprise that Gorton lands in the firm which bears the name “Gates” (Bill Gates Sr. was senior partner of PG&E while I was there — I “shared” a secretary with him for a while, got real adept with Microsoft Word as a result.)]

    4. xkeyscored

      Richard Billing Dearlove was head of the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6 from 1999 to 2005. He was closely involved in the lead up to the Iraq war and was the main subject of the Downing Street Memo which revealed that the war had been decided upon prior to the launching of a propaganda operation to justify it. After retiring from MI6 Dearlove has become involved in corporate security and the ‘terrorism industry’, as well as signing up to the neocon think-tank the Henry Jackson Society.
      A few other gems there, eg. “in his 38-year career in MI6, he was not aware that they had carried out any assassinations.”

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Thank you, Lambert, especially for the link to Sir Richard Dearlove

      You’re welcome. My takeaway is that the Five Eyes, thought of as the intelligence services and not as countries, are transnational, and that Dearlove can also be counted upon to attempt to nobble Sanders (or even Warren), in cooperation with all the other Five Eyes, including “ours.”

  2. Lee

    More clothing ads here. Must be the name of the blog. Inappropriately in my case, they generally feature women’s clothing. Why is that? Something to ponder in these dark hours of the morning out here on the left coast. Or not.

    1. Randy G

      Lee — All I get, too, are women’s clothing ads. While ‘entertaining’, I’ve yet to buy anything frilly and fashionable for myself so the targeting is puzzling. This happens on several other sites, too, and it is nice that the advertisers don’t seem to have a handle on who I am.

      What is actually disturbing — especially if I use Chrome instead of Firefox (with ‘Startpage’ as my default homepage) — is that Google ‘knows’, for example, that I’ve been researching Nikon lenses and then targets me with a trillion camera ads.


            Not the basis of deep research, but I think your recollection is wrong.

            Google just owns a domain name that DDG might want to hold. Though how are we to know?

            Wiki offers this, DuckDuckGo earns revenue by serving ads from the Yahoo-Bing search alliance network and through affiliate relationships with Amazon and eBay…. on DDG’s business model, and the rest of the article gives useful detail.

            Note that there is private equity invested by “Union Square Partners and angel investors,” maybe includes some CIA fronts? Who knows.

            But then there’s that quote from someone in the Borgblob, that they will have “succeeded when nothing the rest of the word knows is true.“

            1. bassmule

              “…what it does is follow the data that’s being typed instead of following your behavior, past search history, click behavior, etc. It just checks what you’re looking for, and then it shows up ads regarding the search query (assuming it can come with any relevant ads, that is).”

              “Google makes it a priority to gain money and show you as many ads as possible, while DDG is genuinely committed to protecting your privacy. A comparison between their revenues shows this, as Google’s revenue nears a hundred billion dollars, while DDG’s is somewhere about a million.”

              How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

      1. rjs

        i’ve been wondering if it was me or NC generating all those ads with women in skimpy clothing on the sidebar here…so it appears to be a site affliction…think advertisers might be thrown off by “naked” in the site name?

        1. tegnost

          i’ll posit that NC, to it’s credit, has a lot of female readers and they are the target of the ads rather than prurient interests of the male readership, for that I get weird construction safety stuff and for some odd reason, firefighting gear, and of course lots of investment ads

  3. The Rev Kev

    “New sexed-up dossier furore”

    I think that I am having a bad case of cognitive dissonance here. First you have Tucker Carlson – Tucker Carlson! – on Fox News talking truth to power and criticizing neocons and neoliberals. Now you have the UK’s Daily Mirror doing high-quality, detailed reporting and showing original documents instead of highly doctored excerpts. The Daily Mail! (quietly bangs head on computer monitor).

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. I think it’s even worse…some repubs are starting to pick up all the birdsnests the corporate dems have left laying on the ground:
      ” His speeches around town, including one he delivered on Tuesday evening while accepting an award at the annual gala of the American Principles Project Foundation, a socially conservative public-policy organization, are bracingly defiant of Republican orthodoxy: He rails against income inequality, condemns the policy deference afforded to corporations, and speaks warmly about the civic value of labor unions. He often talks about the “great American middle” being crushed by the decline of local communities, the winner-take-all concentration of wealth, and the inaccessibility of higher education. And he said that the modern Republican Party’s split over competing impulses toward free-market economics and social conservatism has led some conservatives to ignore the effects of their policies on the middle and working class. “It’s time to do away with that,” he told me.”

      the disturbing thing is that i could have said any of that, over the last 25 years, to numerous local yokels who insist that the gop is somehow “conservative”…”what, exactly, are y’all conserving?”
      when both parties spend all their time fellating the super rich, and worshiping Mr Market, while uttering platitudes about family and home and bootstraps…and with both thereby loosing support…eventually one of them will notice the pain and suffering and attempt to exploit it.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Huey Longism? Or are there better precedents from the “Conservative” side (exclude Lincoln of course, as too atypical)?

      2. kiwi

        Only people who haven’t been listening to the conservatives at all would regard any of Hawley’s comments as surprising coming from a repub.

        You may recall that Obama gave workers the middle finger – those jobs aren’t coming back or some such nonsense. You may recall that Obama did nothing about the banks. Dems were far too busy courting suburban women and republicans to care about their now former constituancy.

        “some repubs are starting to pick up…..” Starting? Starting? No, the dems/liberals/progressives have simply failed to notice the increasing populism on the right.

        The re-alignment started years ago thanks to the do-nothing dems obsessed with id-pol.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            It’s a Dumb and Dumberer contest, Dems litter the landscape with power, sitting there just waiting for somebody to bend over and pick it up. Repubs, being just marginally less dumb, simply reach down and scoop it up, thank you very much. One slightly positive announcement on health care, on military de-escalation, or on anything at all that might benefit actual wage earners and the Dems will be standing there holding tight to their cherished PC bathrooms, their race and gender purity tests, and their newest BFFs the CIA and the FBI. Un-friggin-believable

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > “Republicans fear their base. Democrats despise their base.”

            I know that saying well, but I’m not sure it’s true any more. The 10%, the “professional managerial class” is their base, as Thomas Frank shows, and the Democrat party establishment doesn’t hate them at all, and in fact services them very effectively (the 10% got through the recession slick as a whistle). The 10%, hence the Democrats, hate the working class that used to be their base, and would be their base again, if the Democrats did stuff like, oh, expanding the electorate as a basic party function (and not one-time registration drives in “battleground states”).

    2. xkeyscored

      It’s good to see the Daily Mail reporting on this story, but what’s all this about ‘new’?
      “The Mail on Sunday approached the OPCW for comment on the protest email on Wednesday, November 13, more than ten days ago” hardly squares with “A leaked email last night dramatically indicated that the UN’s poison gas watchdog had butchered and censored a critical report,” unless they’re talking about a different email.
      Are the Mail’s investigative journalists aware of the October 23 Open Letter to Permanent Representatives of States Parties of the OPCW, signed, among others, by José Bustani, first Director General of the OPCW?
      … unanimous in finding that ‘unacceptable practices’, involving suppression of information aimed at reaching a ‘preordained conclusion’, had occurred during the Douma investigation. Substantive concerns were raised regarding the credibility of the report, specifically with respect to toxicology and ballistics assessments, as well as the use and interpretation of witness testimonies. Suppression of internal debate and questioning within the investigation team appears to have been systematic. The full statement and accompanying analytical points can be found at and

      1. CoryP

        Well a new email was leaked on the weekend. I didn’t totally understand what was new at first either. It’s a continuation of the stuff that was said at the Courage foundation thing.

        1. xkeyscored

          You’re right, there is an email posted on Wikileaks on 23 November. I’m still not sure it’s a new email; if it is, I’ve seen most of what it says before, probably in the Open Letter and its accompanying documents (even the wording rings a bell). Two main points: chlorinated organic compounds aren’t necessarily the result of using chlorine as a poison gas, household bleach is equally likely to do be responsible; and the amounts of these compounds detected at the site were no higher than elsewhere. Neither of these points were noted in the official OPCW report.

    3. kiwi

      Why the surprise? What you describe has been going on for years, yet everyone bot into the dem/leftie/progressive claims that Fox commenters are all racist, sexist hate-filled bigots.

      1. Dalepues

        Perhaps you’re right, Fox has been doing top-shelf, honest journalism for years. But what is certain is that Fox’s commentators have attracted racist, sexist, and hate-filled bigots.

        1. kiwi

          Really? It is just so certain? Well, when one side defines everything done by the other side as racist, maybe you are correct.

          I didn’t comment on the quality of the journalism. There has been overlap for years on various topics, yet the dem/leftie/progressive side was too busy smearing fox commenters with baseless accusations (which I believed, btw, until I actually watched the shows for myself).

          There actually is alot of common ground, but nobody will listen.

      2. skippy

        Time does fly … Bill O’Reilly, Beck, Sean Hannity, to name a few.

        I mean … I still have the momentous occasion burnt into my memory of which on Sean’s soap box, the loose moment before commercial brake the parody of a 1800 political novelty mug clearly said – “everyone knows poverty is a mental disorder” ….

        Gezzbus Sean’s instantaneous fratboy smirk [tm] follow by a halfhearted steady mate, to give the illusion of decorum, yeah that’s a keeper …

        Not that that gang was a key Bernays outfit for all the ME shenanigans, sharia law, Muslim invasion, 1700s picnics above cities getting sacked from the safety of one lounge room, worried faces about anti property Occupy anarchists calling Wall St banks out for the GFC turning to Soviet facial profiles as the paramilitary were used to purge the anti freedom and liberty upstarts …. short list …

        Yeah Bill Black was arrested … that commie sympathizer that actually did his job in the letter of the law and prosecuted corporate corruption.

        I guess reality has a short self life with some …

        1. kiwi

          Maybe you should take another look. Things are different now, and I don’t know the reason – if the people were the buffoons you make them to be, or if you weren’t hearing them.

          All I know is what I “knew” about these people changed when I started listening to them – I was as surprised as anyone about the overlap.

          I’ve never listened to Beck. It is possible that maturity happened, too, to Sean. He is quite the blowhard, but still overlaps.

          1. skippy

            Yeah marketing might be different, that’s how MSM journalism works, its “targets” an audience for market share.

            Does ‘surprise’ mean the same as – sucked in – from your perspective. Some of us remember the Fox coup from its original platform to being taken over by the far right wing and the results of that.

            In other news [tm] I saw they took the Von out of Von Mises, do you think that changes everything past and present …. chortle …

            1. integer

              The only constant is change, and due to the nature of politics, the political landscape – a primary driver of the media landscape – can do so rapidly. Hence, if one neglects to periodically reassess previously-formed assumptions, one runs the risk of arriving at faulty conclusions due to having interpreted contemporary events through the lens of obsolete assumptions.

              1. skippy

                I think [tm] ownership of this rag has more impious over a protracted time line than what you suggest.

                1. kiwi

                  Go ahead. Turn a deaf ear. Just like the dems did for decades.

                  Dems missed the opportunity of a lifetime for a solid re-allignment; it was there during the Obama years.

                  It is gone now.

                  It is not as if the dems in power cared about anyone anyway, or they would have been responsive to the needs of the people.

                  Repubs were even moving toward dems’ positions on healthcare; after all, they can read polls, too. But that was wrecked with the incessant attacks on Trump. The squad-types went to far, too fast, and poisoned any working relationship that could have existed with Trump.

                  Thanks to the squad-types, improvement in health care is unlikely, now that the repubs have resurrected the ‘socialist’ smear.

                  It truly did not have to be this way.

                  (oh, and Fox ratings are way up – for Tucker, Hannity, Ingraham, etc., while the MSNDC types are falling)

  4. Livius Drusus

    Re: In Future Wars, the U.S. Military Will Have Nowhere to Hide.

    I can’t bring myself to see much good news here. Maybe the U.S. will be more restrained in the future when it comes to foreign adventures but increased Great Power competition usually produces more war, and very devastating ones at that. Our world is looking like the one prior to World War I. Rampant inequality, globalization, huge human migrations, rising waves of nationalism, more Great Power competition and the development of technologies that will make war even deadlier and more destructive than ever.

    I also don’t subscribe to the idea that just because the United States government has a bad foreign policy that we should see nations like Russia and China as good actors just because they happen to be opponents of the United States. This is not a critique of NC but I sometimes see left-wingers playing defense for countries like Russia and China while dismissing any negative information about these states as “Western propaganda.” The Western media is biased but that doesn’t mean that everything reported in the West is bunk or that all news that comes out of non-Western sources is automatically true.

    1. Lee

      The Western media is biased but that doesn’t mean that everything reported in the West is bunk or that all news that comes out of non-Western sources is automatically true.

      I have the impression that most people here take their news with salt, whatever the source. As for the anti-U.S. bias, this is the most powerful and internationally aggressive nation on earth for the moment and the country where most of us on this site reside. Being citizens of same, it is the nation whose government upon which we are most likely to have an effect, however modest that might be.

      1. Sol

        I can recommend the kaleidoscope approach. With human society neatly fractured into various little bubbles, sampling a number of these offers perspective diversity from which to build a database of sorts, and look for patterns. Commonalities.

        It’ll make your brain sweat, and not everyone wants or needs that sort of investment into the news. For me, the ROI was worth it.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          When Frank Herbert wrote about Mentats in Dune, he had the NC Commentariat in mind!

          1. JTMcPhee

            Or Machiavelli? Or maybe Chomsky?

            I recall thatin the Dune series all those Mentats sort of served just to inform the Imperial rulers on how to advance themselves and destroy competition — remember the Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM Company) was the skeletal structure of the “known universe…” Could Really Smart Polymaths be turned to doing only the extension of concrete material benefits and the avoidance of looting train wrecks and the amelioration of their consequences?

    2. PlutoniumKun

      As to your second point, you always see a very different perspective from those who live in major power countries and those (like myself) who live in small countries. If you live in a small country you simply don’t have the luxury of seeing all evil in one country/system – all of them are expansionary and potentially aggressive by nature, you are just seeing them at different points of their natural cycle at any one time. Of course we all need a powerful corrective to the ‘evil Russian/Chinese’ narrative and the endless propaganda against them – but that does not mean that either country is a friend to small countries or minorities. Large empires only look good when you are looking at them from a geographic or temporal distance.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        For me it’s about the size of the gap between the narrative and the reality, which I believe is orders of magnitude larger for the US than for China and Russia. Closing said gap everywhere it exists I think can get us to a place where much better decisions can be made in future.

        US: everywhere and always unquestionably Dudley Do-Right (and never a nation that has fomented coups, armed terror groups, and faked casi belli)

        China: Totalitarian ideologues bent on world domination (and never a nation that has performed an economic miracle raising 500M people from abject poverty)

        Russia: Permanently nefarious in their expansionist quest to subvert the West (and never just a two-bit economy struggling to survive encirclement and financial dismemberment)

        And lest we miss the glaring: Obama rhetoric/actual Obama actions

    3. vlade

      Re your second point – some people still get caught by the “enemy of my enemy must be my friend”.

      As PK says above, that ignores the fact that some don’t have friends, just interests.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Understanding Interests and being friends are two different things. After all, don’t loan friends money. No strings attached gifts are fine if you can do it. What has been done by Moscow and Beijing in recent years that is outside the natural interests of those states whether they are Imperial Russia or the Middle Kingdom? Russia has 130 million people. The EU has 500 million. If Russia is a threat to the EU, it’s probably just best to put Moscow in charge. Clearly Brussels can’t handle the responsibility.

        The aggressive a holes running the US are the same people behind the Navy seeking out help from Carnival Cruise lines. Would you trust these people to run a lemonade stand? How many people would they poison?

        1. vlade

          straw men.

          India has a billion, China had a billion for years, yet neither of them was a real threat to any of the superpowers for decades (or even not superpowers).

          The fact that I’d not trust US has nothing to do with how much I trust Russians or Chinese. I saw how the USSR worked up close and personal, and I can see how China spreads its influence too from a pretty front seat too.

          Thanks but not thanks.

          As for “their natural interests”. If we assume and accewpt that China’s natural interests lie in securing resources in Africa (for example), why is it suddenly bad for the US to behave similarly?

          Middle East is further from the US than Russia, but it’s still the energy source of the planet (which incidentally means that China has interests there too, but is happy now not to get dragged into any force projections either way, as as long as the oil flows, it can only lose by getting involved there), so again, US “natural interests” would lie there too..

          I expect all of them to put their interests (whatever they are at the moment) ahead of interests of small countries that get in their way, an expectation that rarely disspointed so far.

          But, going back to a comment by Lee slightly above ” and the country where most of us on this site reside.” – it also means the devil you know the best, while most of the others are second-hand information if that. A devil you don’t know, even if worse, often looks better than the one you do. That’s how humans work, and that should be one of our primary filters – the further (and not just in distance, but linguistically, culturally, etc. etc.) the other side is, the more careful we’d be in taking anything in.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Whats the straw man?

            I’ve never said the Chinese were good, and I’m not saying the U.S. shouldn’t be involved in Africa. Should we setting up bases and effectively supporting less than stellar, functional governments? What was the rationale of knocking over Gaddafi? We got him to disarm, and all we demonstrated to the world was the U.S. was a wreckless child power. Shrub wasn’t an aberration. Russian arms sales are up for a reason. Boeing is now a joke. The F-35 is an albatross. I don’t see rationale government on the interests of the United States of America, just a few war profiteers.

            The devil I know, and the devil I don’t know. Call it conceit, but my functional freedom will never be infringed by Moscow or Beijing. The War of 1812 demonstrated that. I have more concerns about my own country than the would be parasites of the transnational class.

            As far as a billion people go, where are they going to walk to? Invasions take incredible logistics. Its not easy. Pakistan? 300 million people. Wastelands. China. Southeast Asia which has a large population. They’ll notice if the Chinese are mobilizing. They don’t need a Jack Ryan to tell them that.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      The point about Russia is their actions have been largely reactionary and we’re driven by unnecessary US policy. Gosh, Obama didn’t think Russia would respond to the aggressive invasion of an ally. Expecting a sovereign nation to not react in light of Iraq and Libya is absurd. Without removing the rot of the US FP establishment, theyou will continue to be brazenly aggressive and cruel, ending the US hegemony status in the long term. Maintaining sovereignty and pursuing Interests are primary goals of a state, and Moscow and Beijing have done nothing that is bizarre except in the minds of the US FP establishment which only sees the world in the form of enemies and vassals. At the current moment, Moscow and Beijing are still rationale and thus potential partners on a host of issues, but wreck less Western aggression risks up ending any potential and turns everything into fear of the other.

    5. Mike

      Livius, you are missing the almost uniform criticism of China coming from NC, and there are other “Left” organs and mouthpieces that are highly critical of Russia and other nations. But, you have a point…

      Something we must understand here is power, priority, and presence. If the Left stands for anything globally, historically it has stood for the right of self-determination and independence for all nations and ethnic groups trapped within national borders as drawn by imperial needs. The Western program of P2P intervention has been exposed as raw imperial expression. The powerful nations of the globe exercise enormous ability to reduce poorer nations to rubble (or color revolt, in modern practice).

      With that in mind, the Left will often take the side of the poorer, weaker nation against the imperial force – but, it should always be critical support, because you are supporting a national elite, not its working, poor classes who also have grievances against their own national elites, and are prior to those elites in Left ideology. As you rightly see, many “acceptable” Leftist organizations skip that critical part to sound more acceptable to garner elite leeway for their media presence. The current acceptable “Left” has been tamed (or tamed itself) to get that level of inside status, but we should not forget that, though wanting much in democratic or egalitarian values, weaker nations must be defended so they can survive the onslaught that is Western finance, corporate power, and military might. It is a distinction often hard to fathom for those in the black-white, good-bad syndrome, which is easy to fall into, given current propaganda and pressure.

      1. Lorenzo Raymond

        “.,.you are supporting a national elite, not its working, poor classes who also have grievances against their own national elites, and are prior to those elites in Left ideology.”

        How were the interests of the Libyan working-class served by the long term chaos in that country?

        1. Mike

          Not well, if you are referring to the latest chaos introduced by Western intervention – but the chaos did not come from the Left, but rather from the intervention which began before the final insurrection began. Before that, under Qaddafi, Libya as a nation was doing well, but it must be said not nearly enough of that “well” filtered down to the general population. And, of course, there were enemies of his who were left out. This does not contradict my statement. The difficulty among Leftists is to hold to critical support without falling into idolatry of national autocrats or its opposite, which is armed intervention to overthrow.

          1. kiwi

            Are you talking about the left that now loves wars and the spy agencies? The left that is soon to be swooning over Bolton – assuming he decides to complain about Trump?

    6. xkeyscored

      “It is past time for the U.S. military to prepare to fight without sanctuaries. Instead of waiting for wars to break out and then surging vulnerable aircraft carriers and armored brigades overseas, the United States should preposition missile launchers and armed drones on allied territory and merchant ships in potential conflict zones. For wars against Russia and China, that means near the Baltics and in the East and South China seas.” (from the FP article)
      on merchant ships? Wouldn’t that automatically make them military ships?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Of course, that makes those ships “military,” and opens the floodgates to “legitimate piracy” and the kinds of consequences that Q-ships led to in the World War period (Acts I and II):

        British First World War Q-ship HMS Tamarisk

        Q-ships, also known as Q-boats, decoy vessels, special service ships, or mystery ships, were heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry, designed to lure submarines into making surface attacks. This gave Q-ships the chance to open fire and sink them. The use of Q-ships contributed to the abandonment of cruiser rules restricting attacks on unarmed merchant ships and to the shift to unrestricted submarine warfare in the 20th century.[1]

        They were used by the British Royal Navy (RN) and the German Kaiserliche Marine during the First World War and by the RN, the Kriegsmarine and the United States Navy during the Second World War (1939–45).

        I just love the kind of Game of RISK ™ thinking like that notion of openly seeding the whole effing planet with dragons’ teeth, sufficient in quantity and lethality to instantly respond to and overcome “the enemy” in “wars breaking out.” Yeah, the Us is the world’s policeman, equipped with a very big billy club and now the marvelous predictive policing ability conferred by very sage Artificial Intelligence. Like the LAPD maybe…

        Of course “propositioning” was a kind of thing that contributed to that Cuban Missile Crisis — US intermediate range nuclear missiles in Turkey and elsewhere, clearly first strike, depressed-trajectory weapons, leading to Russian tactical nukes in Cuba. And of course those “allies,” or the wholly owned parts of their Elites that would do the Empire’s bidding and allow the “propositioning” on their territory, would become military targets themselves.

        All this depends on the unstated faith that “nothing bad could ever happen, look how close we have come so manY times and G_D, who Loves His children, or something, has saved us from cataclysm every time, and besides I, personally, will not be within the Lethality Radius or Circular Error Probable of any of those weapons”…

        “The only way to win is not to play the game.” For some definition of “win”, and some set of “games.” Neither definition appearing in the Empire’s glossary, in any form that the mopery would recognize and ratify…

    7. Basil Pesto

      This is not a critique of NC but I sometimes see left-wingers playing defense for countries like Russia and China while dismissing any negative information about these states as “Western propaganda.”

      Even here in the comments there’s quite a bit of “China is good actually” apologetics – just witness some of the comments on the ‘China Papers’ story Yves posted yesterday.

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    Breaking news: Uber loses their license to operate in London:

    Uber has lost its licence to operate private hire vehicles in London after authorities found that more than 14,000 trips were taken with more than 40 drivers who had faked their identity on the Uber app.

    Transport for London announced the decision not to renew the ride-hailing firm’s licence at the end of a two-month probationary extension granted in September. Uber was told then it needed to address issues with checks on drivers, insurance and safety, but has failed to satisfy the capital’s transport authorities.

    TfL said on Monday it had identified a “pattern of failures” by Uber, including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.

    In a statement, TfL said: “Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”

    This won’t result in an immediate shutdown, but it is the second time they were hit with a non-renewal since 2017.

    Shares down 6% in pre-US market trading.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      Further to that, about 18 months ago, I fell into conversation with a young Spaniard in central London. He was trying to study and save and, to support himself, had a few “gig” economy jobs on the go, including driving for Uber. He did not own the Prius and could not afford any vehicle. The car was owned by a firm that contracted with Uber and sub-contracted with drivers. I wondered how anyone could avoid exhaustion with all these jobs going on.

      Soon after, when I mentioned the conversation to friends and colleagues, I noted that the more likely users of Uber were the women. An older and perhaps wiser woman friend said that when she had used the service with a regular Uber user niece, the driver said that he shared his car and pass with family and friends, not all of whom were qualified to drive. My older friend was horrified and vowed to maintain her boycott. Her niece could not see what the fuss was about. It also seemed that using Uber was an ideological choice and conferred a sense of modernity.

      One looks forward to an editorial from the (London) Evening Standard’s George Osborne. Osborne is an adviser to BlackRock, an investor in Uber. He has five jobs on the go and was interested in a sixth, the IMF MDship.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’d share that anecdotal evidence, there is definitely a notion out there among some people that using Uber is sort of cool and modern.

        I think the use of apps with the drivers identity gives a false sense of security, that its just like a regular taxi. When I lived in London in pre-smartphone days, it was common for women out for a night when taking a minicab to ask a friend to make a show of looking closely at the license plate so the driver was aware someone could identify the car their friend got into. It was a simple, common-sense security precaution as mini-cabs were far more loosely regulated than black cabs. I think Uber play up the aspect that they are ‘safe’ without actually bothering to make sure that they are safer.

        1. paul

          More anecdotal stuff, I popped into the local convenience store around the corner from my mother’s and I was stuck in a queue of two, one of which was me and the other a young woman and her child trying to buy some chocolate and 20 fags.

          Despite the repeated merchant declined messages she persisted in waving her mobile telephone at her vendor like some kind of monetary light saber.

          The final declination was met with “I’ll just go somewhere else”

          She did not seem to have a deep understanding of mobile credit and it’s predatory familiar, the credit monopoly.

          I consider this an indictment of our wretched public relations system

          After this 10 minute micromelodrama, I got a pint of milk; paid in cash.

    2. DJG

      FreeMarketApologist: I was doing some research on latest free-market poster boy Luigi Zingales and I came up with the wisdom of David Plouffe:

      The Ineffably Orwelling headline:
      If Uber Was a Government Program, There Would be Parades Thrown”: David Plouffe on Uber, Regulation, and Disruption

      [Which includes the stylistic / ontological misstep of not knowing to capitalize forms of the verb to be in headlines. Which also includes passive-mood parades. Mistakes were made. Parades were thrown. Drivers’ wages were not paid.]

      And Plouffe is about as core of the Democratic Party as one can get.

      These people are like the French nobility before the Revolution. “There are nice brioche in the bakeries. Let them eat Uber.”

    3. xkeyscored

      This won’t result in an immediate shutdown
      I heard something on the BBC to the effect that they’ll basically be able to continue their business while any complaints and appeals grind their way through the courts and procedures. Not sure I’d remember all the details if I’d been paying full attention.

  6. Stanley Dundee

    Witty and erudite Russia analyst Patrick Armstrong has written a motivational message that will likely resonate with NC readers (and authors):

    [Strategic Culture] has attracted a large stable of writers; by and large, most of the time, generally speaking, we agree with each other pretty well. The point of view of most of the writers is counter Establishment. In today’s frenzied Russophobia that opens us to the charges of being Putinbots but, in truth, we write against the prevailing WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian view on many subjects…On the other side of the divide are the writers and readers of the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian established media. They also generally agree with what they read, approve of each other’s writing and nod their heads in agreement. They are in their comfort zone. Two solitudes – two bubbles. An agreeable agreement bubble for each: different bubbles to be sure but the same warm comfortable feeling of reassurance that they’re well-informed. So what’s the point of writing?


    1. xkeyscored

      I’ve noticed several good articles coming from Strategic Culture. I liked this:
      The devotees of the establishment media bloc are almost always surprised by the way things turn out. That, by itself, shows that they are poorly informed about reality. Everybody is surprised some of the time but the poorly informed are surprised all of the time.

      1. wilroncanada

        You can fool the well-informed some of the time, but you can fool the poorly-informed all of the time.
        Mantra for the BLOB

    2. Lee

      So what’s the point of writing?

      The inclusive expansion of one’s bubble for a more bubblicious world.

    3. lambert strether

      I’m afraid that passages like this are a little too rich for my blood:

      At the same time the call of blood is always alive in the soul of a Jew and it urges him to come to the aid and defend Israel if need be. Because somehow it has happened so that the aborigines, who live in the lands of oil and gas, don’t like the Jewish state for whatever the reason it may be. As soon as the American Jews, who control the US finances and industry, start a new war in the Middle East, a thought comes to the head of an Arab – what about striking Israel once the promised land is so dear to the heart of an American Jew?

      Linking to Strategic Culture could make the blog look very, very bad. So, no thank you.

  7. John A

    RE Don’t even think of handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10, says ex-MI6 chief SIR RICHARD DEARLOVE who claims Labour leader’s radical past portrays the truth about him Daily Mail

    Rather than being outraged at such blatant interference by the ‘deep state’ in democracy during an election, the Mail uses this as further argumentation against Corbyn. Not to mention Pompeo’s comments a couple of months ago that the US would do whatever it could to prevent Corbyn coming to power.

    1. xkeyscored

      Yes, MI6 and the Mail are paving the way for however the ‘deep state’ might respond to a Corbyn government.
      Ever see A Very British Coup, from 1988? Excellent, and very apt today. Here’s the first episode:

      1. The Rev Kev

        I remember that dramatic series. Turned out that the British Establishment with very long memories was real after all. And I remember the ending too.

      2. CoryP

        Max Blumenthal just mentioned exactly this on the Useful Idiots podcast. Is the book any good.? I feel like my attention span is better for text for some reason.

        1. xkeyscored

          No idea about the book, but the series – around three hours in total – was very well done, all you’d want from a tense political thriller in terms of acting, plot, suspense and so on.

    2. vlade

      TBH, I’m rather sick of all this “deep state” crap. We have seen how pathetic and innefective were the effects of the CIA to get rid of Trump – for example.

      The deep state makes an assumption that somewhere there is a massive super-efficient organisation that can stay almost totally undercover, and at all times operate at peak efficiency with no internal tensions and rivalries etc. etc. Which goes against all human history (apart from there being always a place in the human history for it – but there was always place in human history for a lot of fiction so that ain’t no proof).

      Unless it’s aliens or someone already produced a rogue AI, it’s just wishful thinking so that people can put a bit more face on “them”.

      1. Monty

        Bit of a straw man. You can have a deep (unelected, persistent, powerful) state without it being omnipotent.

        I would say the CIA (and the rest) campaign to discredit Trump has been quite successful at damaging him with a large part of the population

        1. tegnost

          hmm… I thought it was a pretty astute observation. The deep state, being largely undefined, can be a clearinghouse for whatever monster is under the bed. The campaign to discredit trump imo is from the Wall St media who really like monsters under the bed. The CIA as such is just one arm of the octopus (ok mixed metaphor, whatever, an octopus is a sea monster…there, fixed it.). The campaign to discredit trump hasn’t swayed many of his supporters. One may think that an all powerful deep state would have prevented this embarrassing outcome rather than being shown publicly tearing out their hair, and rending their garments. Indeed, a true “deep stater” would likely never want to be seen in public, or profess and interest in outcomes, they would just happen.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            My godfather was a CIA agent in the 60’s and into the 70’s, and he assessed the organization as suffering from information overload in the 1960’s. The other problem is that anything that wasn’t within the purview of the President was never going to get to the Chief of Staff before, noting the irony, it hits the Washington Post. Then like any self selective group, these are paper pushers who want to be heroes. Given the hurdles of getting to the White House CoS, every crisis becomes a world stopping crisis. Its the only way to get noticed. This is before you get into the deranged and criminal actors. Besides every bit of information and resource he collected was selling the same information to local Soviet operation. If they had worked together, they could have spent less money. If the Russians are not enemies, then what is to stomp me from going to Russia and demanding they learn English like all proper American tourists? I did go to Russia once, and an old lady hit me with a cane because I left a museum without a jacket on in mid-May.

            The CIA as a research outfit makes sense given the U.S. world power status, but the U.S.’s need for secret organizations is more limited than say Estonia’s need to be very aware of Moscow’s views.

        2. The Historian

          I think if you look at the histories of the CIA and other Deep State organizations, you will see that they are mostly bumblers who have failed many more times than they have ever succeeded at anything. And when they did succeed, it was usually because the multinational corporations took over complete control before the Deep State completely lost the prize the multinationals wanted them to get.

          In addition, the “Deep State picking on Trump” meme has been mostly created by Trump himself. Why would you put any credence in what Trump says? His penchant for prevarication is well known. I am pretty sure Trump is just as much a beneficiary of the Deep State as every other President has been.

          1. marym

            Re: “Deep State picking on Trump”

            Governance depends on the knowledge base and continuity provided by a permanent civil service and serially re-appointed staffing across administrations and parties. Behind the partisan grandstanding there’s been a bi-partisan elite consensus in many respects that keeps it functioning from one administration to the next.

            It was disconcerting to hear recent testimony speaking of “national security” as though it had a life of its own apart from Trump priorities. but in a neocon/neolib shared world of “both sides” this life-of-its-own is true in some respects.

            If Trump was elected to reset priorities, he bears some responsibility here. To have, for example a different Ukraine/Russia policy (based on some of his campaign rhetoric, maybe less interventionist in Ukraine, more realistic about Russia’s geopolitical interests) it was up to him to do stuff like learn the subject matter, develop and communicate policy, and vet and appoint competent staff.

            He didn’t have a Ukraine policy though. He and his cronies just wanted to use the power of presidency to gather political campaign fodder. He didn’t even want to cancel the aid, just skim some off the top, in the form of politically convenient “investigations.”

            His quarrel with the Blob is that they pushed back and eventually informed the public about it.

            1. Lee

              [Trump] didn’t have a Ukraine policy…

              It would be even better if the U.S. foreign policy establishment similarly had no Ukraine policy and displayed a refreshing and uncharacteristic lack of interest in a country we should stay well out of.

            2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              You posit that:

              Governance depends on the knowledge base and continuity provided by a permanent civil service and serially re-appointed staffing across administrations and parties. Behind the partisan grandstanding there’s been a bi-partisan elite consensus in many respects that keeps it functioning from one administration to the next.

              Now please describe the process by which that consensus can ever change, when, for example, it has been shown to be an abject failure through large-scale, repeated, unarguable, unmitigated disasters? (I’d cite The Iraq War but the list is too long to even start).

              Even asking the question (“hey shouldn’t we change/update this a little given the obvious results?) gets you instantly labelled a treasonous foreign agent.

              Your formulation seems like a prescription for how to run the Ottoman Empire: really efficient and stable, until one day the overwhelming weight of embedded contradictions and completely changed conditions on the ground caused it to implode and vanish without a trace.

              I think the people are smart enough to see these obvious dysfunctions. They express their desire to adjust course by selecting a president. If that president is afforded no latitude to change the consensus then we might as well all go home and just let the autopilot run the ship of state full speed onto the rocks.

              1. marym

                I didn’t recommend it, just described how I think it functions given the broadly agreed status quo we alway talk about between the ostensible “both sides” of the governing and corporate elite.

                There are enormous challenges to implementing change. If I knew how to do it I’d run for office. I can only say as my minor contribution to the critique that in the absence of visible effort to recruit capable appointees, do the work of proposing and promoting good policy, and refrain from making things worse, at some point blaming the Deep State is as useless as blaming Max Baucus, or Senate Republicans.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Sometimes a dumb bull in a china shop thrashing about destroying bad stuff is…a good enough start.

                  1. marym

                    Not so much “victimized by the Deep State” then – more like “smashing stuff to own the libs.” And probably stiffing the contractor who razes what’s left of the china shop and builds the hotel tower, or the prison. Shock doctrine. Always works out well for…some.

                    1. integer

                      I think “victimized by the Deep State” is correct. How else do you account for the Russiagate hoax?

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > If Trump was elected to reset priorities, he bears some responsibility here. To have, for example a different Ukraine/Russia policy (based on some of his campaign rhetoric, maybe less interventionist in Ukraine, more realistic about Russia’s geopolitical interests) it was up to him to do stuff like learn the subject matter, develop and communicate policy, and vet and appoint competent staff.

              No question. Then again, who else was even going to raise the questions? It’s like trade policy: I have no confidence that Trump knows what he’s doing, even if I knew what he was doing underneath the bullshit. OTOH, nuking TPP and that proposal for ISDS was an enormous, system-level win, and I’ll take that win, however achieved.

              It’s also worth noting — crossed fingers here — that we haven’t had a war on the scale of the Libyan bombing campaign. True, Trump seems to have let the spooks loose in Latin America as compensation, but just in terms of avoiding bloodletting, that’s a win too, however achieved.

              The current national security establishment is ossified and insane (because fomenting war on Russia’s border is insane). If Trump is the only jackhammer who could have even started to break it up — and given the Democrat embrace of Clinton, that seems to be so — then so be it. We can only hope that whoever the Democrat nominee is, they don’t reset policy back to the pre-2016 consensus view, which has not served the country well.

              No, I don’t love Trump.

          2. nippersdad

            Re: “Why would you put any credence in what Trump says?”

            For the simple reason that he is so very simple. The guy is loathesome, but he is not always wrong. If one connects the dots within our foreign policy community it soon becomes clear that he is a man representing himself in front of a court owned by someone else, and, as the saying goes, he has a fool for a client. The D-team lobbyists and sweat shop/slumlord advisors that are willing to work with him clearly aren’t up to the task of navigating a bureaucracy designed to keep such as himself off of their well manicured lawns. By pointing out that there are long standing elements within the government that want him discredited he is saying nothing less than the truth.

            It strikes me as obvious that if he had once declared to his detractors that they were the ones who created the imperial presidency, that they were the ones who passed such laws as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Ukraine, and that it was the Executive’s job to investigate corruption wherever it may lie then they would have had to back off. The points made are inarguable, and (even though I can’t stand the guy) hopefully the investigations into how RussiaGate and the Ukraine kerfuffle came to be will make that clear.

            I think that the Clinton cabal could use a good smack down, and am in hopes that if it will ever receive one Trump will be just the guy to provide it. AFAIAC, it is his only real reason for existence.

            Just as Madeleine Albright can say with a straight face that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support women, one can just as easily say more truthfully that there is a special place in hell reserved for those who do not bow to such as Albright and Kissinger. They know it because they see to it, and that needs to change.

          3. NotTimothyGeithner

            They are good at convincing people they are useful long after their use has passed.

            I would argue its not the monolithic deep state but the people who cultivated relationships with the Bush and Clinton families expecting promotions who are most outraged. The article in the links about the lack of movement from think tanks to government under Trump is part of the paradigm. If you don’t have access to the President, what are you? Both families wound up with considerable control of access to money and by default the loyalists wound up with access, but 91% of Democratic voters don’t want Hillary to run again. I’m not a fan of current polling, but 9/10 is a problem especially when you use voter pools who like doofuses like Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. These are people with no standards.

            Isn’t the Mark Felt story that he was one of Hoover’s last made men and was ticked because Nixon passed him over because he was one of Hoover’s made men. Without Hoover, his status was meaningless. Did a close, personal friend of Bill Clinton have a better chance of selling movies rights to Harvey Weinstein and New Line than a random former intelligence operative have of even getting a meeting with a studio? Today, probably not, but yesterday.

          4. mpalomar

            ” And when they did succeed, it was usually because the multinational corporations took over complete control”
            – Ah the old private sector does it better argument. I would say instead that the deep state is entangled and indistinguishable from multinational corporations and includes lawyers and bankers like the Dulles brothers; and that they succeed even when they fail as long as examples have been made.

            For instance Mordechai Vanunu, Julian Assange or the ongoing sh*tshow in the ME.
            In the end the message to resisters and reformers is, ‘you can do what you like but don’t screw with the controls or try to reconfigure the extraction system in favor ot the masses at the expense of the 1% or we’ll break your legs and then we’ll break your country. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses as long as the bloody point is made. Indonesia, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicarugua, Angola, Congo, Korea, Phillipines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia… the list is of course long.

            Or consider the impossibility of changing the WMD Iraq Russia-Ukraine etc., etc.narrative when the MSM is controlled by a handful of corporations or the overwhelming struggle to get a candidate like Sanders past the Deep State hoops and hurdles.
            IMO all descriptive of a functioning deep state.

        3. sammie

          Yes, seems V. is missing the point. One fall day in 1963, there was a day coup d’etat – and the US is still living with the results. It does not mean plotters have to be competent or omniscient. The secrecy (hence, a lack of accountability) is what gives them power – lots of it. Most everything else is a fairy tale.

        4. vlade

          Huh? Trump’s voters are still there in mostly the same numbers as before. Statistically, his approval (which is not the same as voter count) changed very little over time.

          By your definition, any state with ongoing beaurocracy is deep (it’s unelected, it’s persistent, it’s powerful).

          Which means that China again stolen march on all of us, and had deep state going for at least a couple of millenia by now.

          I’d just like to see how you’d run any state (or any organsation) with elected beaurocracy that was run as a gig-economy and could do nothing. I can see it as some libertarian paradise where the state would effectively fall apart, but hey..

          Deep state also implies (by being a single-entity) that all of those “deep-staters” work together towards the same goal, and that they have the goal.

          Evil as most beaurcracies become, it doesn’t mean that the evil is premediated and coordinated. Making it so only hides most of the real causes (human stupidity and incompetency), but it’s always soo much better to have something to blame, while at the same time say “but we can’t do anythign about it”.

          1. Ignacio

            For me, deep state is what makes, for instance, Belgian or Spanish administrations go on functioning while the congress is unable to elect a government. They keep running in ‘business as usual’ mode and political blockades don’t result in total shutdown.

          2. Monty

            “all of those “deep-staters” work together towards the same goal, and that they have the goal.”

            All of those characters (Strozok, Page, McCabe etc) at the FBI, and Brennan’s CIA and his media stenographers like Michael Isikoff fit this bill exactly.

        5. anon in so cal

          Damaging him and constraining any attempt at rapprochement with Russia.

          Did Yovanovitch ruin Trump’s planned 2018 G20 meeting with Putin in Argentina, for example?

      2. xkeyscored

        I agree the term deep state can be and is used to invoke powers that might not even exist. But Sir Richard Dearlove is not a faceless dreamed-up excuse for whatever might happen to Corbyn. He surely still has contacts within British intelligence, and no doubt with senior figures in finance, government, the military and so on. I used the term – in quotes – as a shorthand for all that. And I don’t believe the British ruling class, to use a more or less equivalent term, operates at all times ‘at peak efficiency with no internal tensions and rivalries’. It can be a serious threat without being all-powerful.

        1. vlade

          Yes, but so can any elites. I much prefer calling Sir Dearlove out directly (and all others) than some anonymous vague entity.

          1. nippersdad

            The list of people that would have to be called out directly would require the kind of directory that kids used to put on chairs to sit at the dinner table, though. As a shorthand “The Blob” is much more efficient.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        it exists…but it ain’t monolithic…nor all that competent.
        but it does enjoy a lot of behind the scenes influence on things that matter.
        we can usually only see it via the ripples in the muddy water…somethings moving under there!
        weaponised mythopoesis.
        we’re all looking for motive and cui bono…some grand plan……but i think that it’s the chaotic confusion that’s been sprayed all over everything that’s the real point of the whole exercise.
        i have known, and am related to, people who have been in that world(cia/dia/etc)…mostly on the periphery….and all pre- reagan(ie: the “agenda” such as it is has changed, more than likely)
        given sufficient scotch, these folks can be goaded in to speaking frankly about all that….on the one hand, they’re pretty wary of crossing those entities. on the other, they recognise the hubris of people in those worlds, who reckon they can steer a civilisation.
        hence, the chaos as policy. spread Ur-Confusion far and wide…and do what you want under cover of that chaos.
        and when these machinery people get caught doing ugly and/or stupid shit…an insight from the local rumor mill easily scales up: got caught naked on the courthouse square? fear not…someone else will do something scandalous/stupid in short order, and the public eye will move on.

      4. DJG

        vlade: Thanks for bringing this up once more. I thought that it had been long settled here at Naked Capitalism that arguments for the existence of an organized Deep State were lazy. We have the example of Turkey, where the term may have been invented: There is no Deep State. It turns out that there is the military and, now, Erdogan’s entrenched AKP allies. They are in conflict.

        The Edward Snowden interview with Joe Rogan is enlightening. He talks about how the so-called deep state is mainly bureaucracies arguing that their point of view is paramount and their endless need for staffing affects the health of the nation. His anecdote about the September 11 attacks is especially illuminating. He was at the NSA in Virginia. They were all dismissed for the day, for fear (yes, fear) of a terrorist attack (wouldn’t want them to die at their stations!). So they flooded out into the parking lots and created a traffic jam. That’s the U.S. deep state. Bureaucrats who suffer from self-importance, whose “truth” is that the bureaucracy matters, and who sit in a traffic jam during a dire event.

        And now they are going before Congress to tell us all about how they have made Ukraine a might ally of the U S of A. Next up! Strategic Albania!

      5. keysersoz

        Of course, in doing serious National Security State analysis you wouldn’t have to make the assumption that “…there is a massive super-efficient organization that can stay almost totally undercover and at all times operate at peak efficiency with no internal tensions….” Such an assumption is, indeed, a massive reification.

        You could instead start with the assumption that no State is ever a single actor with a unitary interest or rationale. For example, the origin and evolution of most European States never involved a type of simple engineering, with Kings and their ministers as the designing engineers. Instead powerful European State institutions were largely formed inadvertently as by-products of efforts to carry out immediate tasks such as War (see writings of Charles Tilly).

      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The deep state makes an assumption that somewhere there is a massive super-efficient organisation

        Yep. And monolithic at that. That’s why “deep” is pseudo-profound.

    3. Synoia

      I attended a UK Military University, and remember the discussions around a coup against Harold Wilson, as portrayed in the recent episode of “The Crown.”

      The population of students was Lieutenants, captains and Majors. The Army’s middle management.

      It was a real discussion. The Army would have executed as commanded by the Queen, because the UK armed forces sear allegiance to the Crown, not to parliament, as has been noted here on NC.

    4. wilroncanada

      to John A, 8:40AM
      You mean? Gasp… The US was promising to interfere in another country’s election? Whodathunkit.

  8. Ignacio

    RE: Climate change: How China moved from leader to laggard FT

    Not accesible without subscription I wonder if it deals with the reported increase of coal powered thermal plants which has been huge between 2018 and the first half of 2019. It migth be the case that China is using coal to bridge coal. To my knowledge China’s new coal plants are far more efficient in power generation than elder plants, working at supercritical water temperatures, and if these plants are intended to replace older and less efficient plants rather than increased power production or both. These new plants are much more efficient than US or European plants in terms of nitrogen and sulfur oxide emissions.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      You can access the article via google (at least, it worked for me).

      The short version is that the government has ditched renewables as it seeks to offset the domestic downturn – it sees cheap coal generated electricity as a means of keeping energy prices at a low level. It is implied that a new strategy is coming, one not dependent on direct subsidies – or perhaps that’s just what the solar/wind industry is hoping. Either way, the sudden chopping of subsidies seems to have devastated the industry, which simply didn’t see it coming. There seems also to be something of a backlash against the environmental movement, seeing it as all a western plot to hamstring China.

      It is possible that there are new policies coming – the Chinese method of economic development has always been to develop generalised strategies at Beijing level, allowing a lot of leeway for local governments at various levels to interpret them as they see fit. Its possible Beijing has just decided that its original strategy is flawed and is taking a bit of time out to see which local strategies have worked best, and will them pursue them with their normal single-mindedness. Or it may also be that the big coal States in the north of China have won some internal battles.

      I think one thing to look out for is investment in DC lines. The Chinese grid is fragmented, which has always been a serious obstacle to renewables, as most are generated in the hot, windy north-west, while most cities are along the coast. For whatever reason, the Chinese government largely overlooked the benefits of integrating its grid, one reason why big thermal plants dominate at a local level. If they are seriously looking long term, a major DC network overlying the existing set of grids would be a key indicator that they are taking renewables seriously.

      Another interesting point is that China seems to have lost interest in nuclear power, despite their huge investment in a wide variety of types and technologies over the years – typically they’ve built examples of nearly every type on the market, in addition to technologies like pebble bed reactors. They keep bringing out ambitious nuclear strategies every few years which never seem to come to fruition. I’d love to know the reason.

      1. Ignacio

        I don’t think China has changed its strategy but has realised that renewables cannot spur the current pace of building and infrastructure development. I believe that the Chinese Government wants to accelerate this in such a way that by the 2030s has achieved full developed-level and goes from fast urban growth to maintenance mode. Steel and cement production require lots of energy and there is no way China can make it with renewables. As prices have gone down, solar and wind will have to go with less or no subsidies for a while. Now, it seems to be coal what is receiving subsidies in the form of public investments, but this musn’t be seen symplistically as a departure from COP compromises as new thermal plants are to replace older and highly inefficient plants. Given that China had in the last decade a large overcapacity in coal thermal power, construction of new plants doesn’t make any sense except if the objective is to improve efficiency.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Your last point is an important one I’d forgotten about. China has a huge overhang of outdated infrastructure, it may be that the push to open new coal stations is at least partly intended to shut down many older, polluting inefficient ones. One thing the government is committed to is clearer air quality in cities, its become a serious source of internal discontent.

          1. Ignacio

            As for your last point about nuclear, chinese authorities may have decided that nuclear is far more expensive than, let’s call it, “new generation coal”. Moreover if they foresee reduced energy usage in a not so far away future. I really don’t know, this is a simple guessing exercise.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              If there is a country that could make nuclear work its China, with its enormous scale benefits. The Koreans have simplified others reactors and (allegedly) made them competitive. I assumed the Chinese strategy was to build lots of different ones, see what worked, and then churn out standardised, simplified versions. Maybe it still is, but they don’t seem to be putting any resources into it. I suspect inland water supply issues may be one reason.

    2. Mark Alexander

      Thanks to a commenter here on NC (whose name I have forgotten, sorry!), I have started using an extension for Firefox that works around the problem with paywalls on sites like FT, NYT, WaPo, etc. It’s here: . It’s best used with the Cookie Remover extension that makes it easier to clear cookies associated with the site being viewed; that can get around problems with monthly article limits, for example.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Nearly half of New Orleans’ all-charter district schools got D or F grades; What happens next?”

    Oh, I think that we all know what happens next. The New Orleans Charter Schools as a group will demand to be saved by public money and have their debts paid out for them or else there will be no more schools for New Orleans’s children. Looks like the neoliberal experiment in having a whole city only having Charter Schools has proved a bust as their low standards has self-sabotaged their sustainability but it won’t stop them going after every buck that they can.

    1. sleepy

      And any administrative cutbacks at the school level will be offset by charter admins moving on to greater roles as consultants, experts, and advisers to the myriad public commissions, committees, and panels which will be looked at to tell everyone “what went wrong”.

  10. Monty

    Re Richard Dearlive MI6 Corbyn…

    The spymaster’s smear was later put to John McDonnell on the same program. The fiery MP first labelled Sir Richard Dearlove as a “reactionary member of the establishment,” before recommending that he “should spend his retirement in quiet contemplation of the role that he played with regard to the Iraq war where over half a million people, at least, were killed. He was strongly criticized as the head of an organization whose intelligence took us into that war.”

    *RobloxDeathSound.wav* OOF!

  11. Ken Murphy

    FWIW there are Rare Earth Elements on the Moon. Mining and refining them there would not pollute any water, nor kill any bunnies or flowers. Just saying. But of course – MARS!

    Resources and energy are the reason we need to go into space.

    1. xkeyscored

      Getting the mining equipment there, and the rare earths back, would cause much pollution here, until such time as environmentally-friendly carbon-neutral rockets and spaceships come along.

        1. Massinissa

          With how much austerity is going on, the funding of such a thing seems doubtful.

          Unless we get the squillionaires to do it, but then they would own the damn thing and profit off it exclusively.

      1. Ken Murphy

        Take a look around you. Look at the buildings, roads, power lines, sewers, telecom assets, commercial buildings and more. None of that existed a couple of hundred years ago. It was all brought in and assembled. The same will be true on the Moon.

        Yes, you have to launch rockets to get equipment into space. The question I think you may actually be asking is: is that investment in emplacing the infrastructure going to cause more pollution than the continued extraction and refining of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) here on Earth?

        I’ve long maintained that most commodities are improperly priced in the market, as they all too often fail to include environmental remediation costs into the market price. Those remediation costs are deferred as long as possible, and most often dumped onto taxpayers. It’s why we have an EPA. The refining of REEs is well known to be environmentally damaging, and that is why China is doing most of it. You may be happy to throw planet Earth under the bus, but I am not. I’d much rather have a planet with forests and lakes and wildlife than one covered with strip mines and tailing dumps.

        As to the return of the REEs from the Moon, there have been some interesting proposals. For me the most intriguing is to shape the ore into a lifting body shape, slap on a heat shield, and drop it into the middle of a desert. Environmental impact? Not terribly much.

        The issue is far more complex than you make it out to be. For example, a Delta-IV Heavy uses hydrogen and oxygen as propellant. It’s exhaust is water. Not much carbon in that. And blocking access to space resources and energy virtually guarantees that we will end up choking on our own waste as we scrabble for increasingly marginal sources of the materials we need for our technological society. Fie on that, I say. I will not settle for such nihilism.

    2. a different chris

      Resources and energy is exactly what going into space eats up in horrendous quantities.

      And I have more Apollo 11 paraphernalia than anybody I know, by a considerable margin. Exploration is awesome. Commercialization is science fiction.

      1. Ken Murphy

        Not to be contrarian, but space is already commercialized. A couple of minutes of research on the interwebs reveals the following facts:

        2018 Revenues: $2,161,190,000
        Societe Europeenne des Satellites
        2018 Revenue: ~€1,371,500,000
        2019 Revenue: €1,321,100,000
        2018 Revenue: $1,465,200,000
        2018 Revenue: $523,000,000

        This is just a small sliver of the activity going on, mainly in GEO orbit, though Iridium is a LEO constellation (which, given the slightly reduced number of satellites in the final constellation, should really be called Dysprosium). Not science fiction, financial fact. Will that commercial activity expand further out to the Moon? Kind of inevitable given the energy and resources available there. Will it be the U.S. that does it? Maybe, maybe not; physics is indifferent to nationality.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    United Kingdom — 2019 general election Politico. The polls.

    As always, when seem from England, the ‘United Kingdom’ somehow excludes Northern Ireland. The polling list includes the Greens, UKIP and PC, all three of which are smaller than the DUP, Sinn Fein, and arguably the Alliance and SDLP in Northern Ireland.

    In the unlikely event anyone is interested in the intricacies of Northern Ireland voting, the Salmon of Data in the Slugger O’Toole blog gives interesting independent analysis. Short version – the outcome depends almost entirely on local voting deals, but most likely the DUP will lose seats, reducing their chance of being the swing party of the Tories don’t get a majority.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Lethal Legacy”

    Having the area around WIPP marked by tall granite markers? I can see it now, The year is 4000 AD and a group of archaeologists are excavating this newly discovered site, proud that the North American Imperium has their own equivalent of the European Hegemony’s Stonehenge. They announce that sub-laying structures have been detected and a massive excavation project will be launched to discover what it holds….

      1. Susan the Other

        They can do a story board of pictograms dramatizing the situation where only fools dare to tread. Aka all humans. Since our posterity will be human they will have a very evolved appetite for fiction and drama and danger and, hopefully, love. I’d be willing to speculate it is our strongest and most resilient instinct. The instinct for storytelling. So a storyboard carved in stone. Or several. And why, again, does this crap have to be moved out of SC? Why can’t they do the storyboards? Are the salt mines that crucial to preventing a big plutonium “event”. Somehow I doubt it. Let’s ask Lindsey Graham.

  14. Bill Carson

    With respect to the influence of railways on military operations during WWII, that must be why the Japanese instilled such a sense of urgency when my grandfather was building the Burma Railway. Moving a cubic meter-and-a-half of dirt per man per day by hand was no easy feat.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      It shows the impact of starvation – 19th Century Navvies were expected to shift far more. I’ve seen 20 tonnes a day given as a figure (although that’s meaningless without knowing how far and how high), I’ve also seen a figure giving the assumption that a single navvy should move 4 tonnes to shoulder height in a day (in building embankments). They were considered well paid at the time for that job, backbreaking and all as it was. Of course, building in Burma was vastly more difficult than building in the British Midlands.

      Japan itself had an extensive railway network, but it wasn’t strategically important for Japan itself – most goods were moved by ship from city to city. That’s why Operation Starvation – the aerial mining of Japans ports and the Inland Sea was so effective – it almost completely crippled Japans internal logistics. Likewise US bombing of German railheads was one of the most successful tactical uses of air warfare, far more useful than bombing cities. So far as I know the reason the Germans didn’t systematically bomb Russian railways was that they were so confident of success they didn’t want to destroy ‘their’ infrastructure in advance.

      1. Mel

        An episode of Time Team covered an old tunnel excavation that was sitting around. One of the team members was detailed to eat the amount of food that was provided for a navvie in a day. For a modern person, that was a day’s job in itself. It sounded like OK food, too.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          They were something of an elite – navvys were well paid in their day, and it was in the employers interest to keep them in good food and drink.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s natural the Germans would like to have captured Soviet infrastructure whole and intact, knowing Sunzi or not.

        And the Soviets, when they retreated, would make sure there was not too much the Germans could take and use against them.

        Imagine if the Wehrmacht had captured Baku whole and intact.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    Less than a rumor, not quite a story:

    so according to state media contacts, Beijing genuinely thought they were going to win big in the elections today, to the point of having pre-written the stories

    — James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) November 25, 2019

    Sounds like our own political class in 2016. Not reassuring.

    This is a problem that will deeply worry Beijing. HKers have an element of protection in protesting against Beijing – mainland Chinese citizens do not. So just because many in HK voice opposition to the protestors doesn’t mean they aren’t what used to be called in Ireland ‘sneaking regarders’ (as in ‘I abhor violence, but I’ve a sneaking regard for the courage of….’). I think a lot of Chinese are sneaking regarders for the HK protestors and the privacy of the polling booth has allowed them to express this. Beijing will have taken note, and they’ll be very worried.

    That said, many Chinese are violently opposed to the protestors because they have been portrayed in the Chinese media as trying to split up China. The protestors would be well advised to focus solely on the issue of democracy and firmly put independence off the agenda if they want to keep some sympathy among Mainlanders.

  16. JTMcPhee

    In the article from Bloomberg on coal use, reporting that coal plants are at a record low of 54% utilization. This decline in “profitability,” the only measure Bloomberg and the neos count, being responsible for hopefully slowing the CO2 runaway freight train. Got to love the concluding paragraph/political self-advertisement:

    Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder and majority stakeholder of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has committed $500 million to launch Beyond Carbon, a campaign aimed at closing the remaining coal-powered plants in the U.S. by 2030 and slowing the construction of new gas plants.

    Freedom of the press belongs to the one who owns the press, I guess. A vote for Bloomberg Is a vote for the Future!

    This sh_t is so laughable it’s enough to make one sick — The search term “Bloomberg soda” turns up the wiki link given, and then the hilarious sequence of PepsiCoke invoking Revolution and Freedom! and victory in state and federal court to ban the proposed ban on supersized sugar drinks. And then Bloomberg’s vow to “continue the fight” after his mayoral gig was up,

    A nominally good idea, maybe Just a hip shot notion occurring to a billionaire who thinks all his thoughts are golden,, collides with Mr. Market’s garbage truck…Bill Gates and other squillionaires are leveraging the political economy on other pet issues, without of course submitting their grand plans to “democratic” scrutiny: , and more,

    (Whoa — how did I get here? The internet made me do it…)

    1. Danny

      Far more important than soda and his presidential bid is Dylan Ratigan, one of his employees, who basically created Bloomberg TV and was there reporting on the imminent 2008 crisis that he predicted.
      He walked away in disgust from Bloomberg over the frauds he was witnessing. His interview on Jimmy Dore’s show is one of the best explanations, in simplified language that a non MBA can understand, of the biggest theft in world history that was ever pulled against the U.S. taxpayers.
      Dylan Ratigan: The Super Rich Have No Country. – YouTube

      Start at the 55 minute mark for the heart and soul of it.

  17. PlutoniumKun

    United Kingdom — 2019 general election Politico. The polls.

    On the issue of the polls, some observations:

    The Brexit Party looks to be toast. The Conservative Party seem to have successfully seen them off. Whether this is at the expense of losing votes to the Lib Dems is an open question.

    The Labour Party seems to have a ceiling of around 30%, but the more exposure the public has to Corbyn, the more they like him. But it seems pretty clear they are not going to close the gap with the Tories – for whatever mysterious reason, about 40% of the UK public still think Bojo is PM material.

    Jo Swinson is a disaster for the Lib Dems in terms of attracting overall votes. They’d be best advised to pretend she is sick and keep her under wraps for the entirety of the election. But the LibDem strategy is to aim for winning Tory seats, not overall votes, and the continuous hard line the Tories take on Brexit is helping them with this. Only time will tell if their strategy is successful – I suspect it will be. They may well turn out to be a greater threat to a Tory majority than the BP.

    ChangeUK – now there is a joke party. Never has a less likeable bunch sunk without trace.

    The Greens could be a surprise packet if only some local Labour Parties defy their leadership and allow some Greens a reasonable straight run to challenge Tories. Even with 3 or 4 seats they could well find themselves with enough to have an influence on the final government (assuming the Tories fail to get an overall majority, which I’m hoping they won’t).

  18. diptherio

    Interested to hear what people think of this. Seems like a noble cause, but recalling the Strike Debt efforts (was that what they were called?) to buy and forgive student debt and the concerns about tax consequences for the recipients, I wonder if there is some down-side to this that isn’t being mentioned. What say you, NC hive mind?

    RIP Medical Debt’s Solution: RIP Medical Debt uses donations to purchase bundled medical debt portfolios that have gone through collection agencies for months or years. Using third-party credit data providers, it targets debt incurred by people facing financial hardship, and then forgives it. On average, $1 is leveraged to abolish $100 in medical debt.

    Please see the full RIP FAQ below and visit for more information.

    1. xkeyscored

      The only downside I can see is that it’s only tough cookies and the truly penniless who’d hold out against collection agencies for months or years. Many more would pay, or attempt to by selling everything and ending up on the streets.

    2. smoker

      From 2016, regarding a RIP example, The Tax Consequences of John Oliver’s $15 Million Medical Debt Forgiveness

      It was widely reported that on the June 5 episode of the HBO program, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver forgave nearly $15 million of medical debt. That’s not quite right. This blog explains what really happened and why the forgiveness did not cause the debtors to recognize “cancellation of debt income” (“COD”) for federal income tax purposes. Proskauer helped structure the debt forgiveness and, on a pro bono basis, represented RIP Medical Debt, the charity that actually forgave the debt.

      Further down:

      Section 102(a) provides that gross income does not include the value of property acquired by gift. In other words, gifts are tax-free. Unfortunately, there is no definition of gift in the Internal Revenue Code. The Supreme Court in Commissioner v. Duberstein held that a gift “proceeds from a detached and disinterested generosity” and is made “out of affection, respect, admiration, charity or like impulses,” but doesn’t include a transfer that is made “from the constraining force of any moral or legal duty, or from the incentive of anticipated benefit of an economic nature.” In short, the donor has to have a pure heart for a “gift” to be a gift for tax purposes.

      What would have happened if John Oliver’s corporation had forgiven the debt itself?

      No one really knows. John Oliver is a decent sort of guy. But would his corporation have been proceeding out of detached and disinterested generosity, or in part to boost John’s ratings?

      That’s where RIP comes in. RIP does have a pure heart. Its sole purpose is to forgive debt to help poor people. The Internal Revenue Service has held that “In general, a payment made by a charity to an individual that responds to the individual’s needs, and does not proceed from any moral or legal duty, is motivated by detached and disinterested generosity.” Rev. Rul. 2003-12, 2003-3 I.R.B. 283; Rev. Rul. 99-44, 1999-2 C.B. 549. And the IRS has ruled a number of times that when a charity acts out of detached disinterested generosity in making payments to victims or other members of a charitable class, the payments are nontaxable gifts. I.R.S. INFO 2013-0007 (Mar. 29, 2013); I.R.S. INFO 2013-0008 (Mar. 29, 2013); I.R.S. INFO 2010-0243 (Dec. 30, 2010).

      Patients and poor people are each charitable classes. Medical debt is typically incurred by uninsured patients. RIP’s gifts of the forgiven debt to these members of charitable classes were made with a pure heart and therefore should constitute tax-free gifts.

        1. smoker

          You’re welcome! Some alerts though, after further vetting:

          Who they actually help is very opaque:

          1. From

          We are not able to handpick and forgive personal medical debt for individuals.

          RIP buys and forgives “portfolios” of medical debt from health care providers and from the secondary debt market, which allows us to forgive thousands of people’s debts at once.

          2. From a Quick Link labeled, Help With Debt, which routes to

          While we would love to help everyone who needs assistance, RIP Medical Debt cannot abolish medical debt by individual request. We approach the problem of medical debt by acquiring large portfolios of debt to help thousands of people at once.

          Because medical debt affects so many people who may not have debt accounts in the portfolios we purchase, we have compiled a list of resources that may be able to help in ways RIP Medical Debt cannot.

          Further, from the About page, The Board Chairman is the Chief Investment Officer, of Hedge Fund Manager, Cantillion Capital Management

  19. xkeyscored

    “Doctors demand “urgent” medical intervention to save Julian Assange’s life” WSWS
    It really does look like they might kill Assange as a message to others, sparing themselves the embarrassment of trials and hearings in which facts might come out.
    More than 65 eminent medical doctors from the UK and around the world have issued an open letter calling for urgent action to protect the life of imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.
    The doctors warn there may be serious consequences if Assange is not moved from Belmarsh Prison to a university teaching hospital where he can be assessed and treated by an expert medical team.
    “Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place,” they write, “we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.”

    1. anon y'mouse

      does anyone have any idea what his health issue(s) is?

      granted, this may be info that they do not release for medical privacy reasons, but someone aside from the authorities should have an idea.

      1. jrs

        a tooth that needs operation, shoulder pain, depression/ptsd/other psychological issues (well who wouldn’t be in that situation). Maybe more.

      2. CoryP

        Good point. A lot of those guys at Guantanamo have lasted an awfully long time despite how f—-ed they no doubt are.

        Then again, maybe torture and solitary confinement are a lot more lethal if someone isn’t sadistically keeping you alive ?

  20. Craig H.

    > Doctors demand “urgent” medical intervention to save Julian Assange’s life

    I am glad they have done this. Apparently the latest report remains Murray’s from a couple weeks ago. From the article:

    “Medical doctors have a professional duty to report suspected torture of which they become aware, wherever it may be occurring,” the signatories write. “That professional duty is absolute and must be carried out regardless of risk to reporting doctors.”

    Didn’t the 9-11 attorney general write a long thing on how this was obsolete? I think it was in one of those informal elaborations on the PATRIOT act where a lot of people missed it with the bad news exhaustion and whatnot we were all subjected to. After life turned into a Kafka novel.

  21. elissa3

    The most notable bit of information in today’s links is the reported length of high speed rail in China by year’s end: 35,000 kilometers = about 22, 000 miles.

    The total area of the United States is very close to that of China. We have over two centuries of industrialization
    heritage and the US has been the leader of what some might call the “high tech revolution”.

    How many miles of high speed rail do we have in the US?

    1. anon y'mouse

      Uzbekistan has high speed rail.

      where is ours?

      oh, yes..that went for the F35 and previous boondoggles. and giving financial “service” industry their skim. and killing foreigners and blowing up their infrastructures. and subsidizing various multi-billion dollar corporations through negation of all taxes and giving them prime real estate and so on. and…

    2. dearieme

      How many miles of high speed rail do we have in the US?

      How many miles of HSR would make sense in the US? DC to Boston, maybe, and not a hope in hell of building it.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i’d be satisfied with slow rail…steam powered even.
          say, a hub in frederickburg, texas, with a spur to the main line along I-10.
          there was a sidetrack adjacent to the neighborhood in the woods where i grew up. Burlington Northern.
          trains would stop to let each other pass, and we’d run out and ride them for a time, jumping off into a certain sandpile when they started speeding up.
          these were the diesel/electric engines, pulling 70+ cars of coal, wheat, and all manner of chemical goodies from the greater houston area.
          to my knowledge, they’re still worlds away more efficient at moving things than trucks.
          why re-invent the wheel?

    3. Danny

      Very little. And the first segment being built, in the middle of nowhere, directly benefits the major donor to the Democratic Party whose desert lands are guaranteed taxpayer provided water which Stuart Resnick “owns” and can use to create subdivisions which he will profit from. Local captive press adulation:
      The corruption is so manifest in California that it’s almost a joke at this point.
      Good technical railfan article here:

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      China already had a network of normal speed rail connecting many parts of the country. They have added the high speed rail on top of this. If they decided to exterminate all their normal speed rail ( as was mostly done in the US), how effective would the high speed rail be in getting Chinese around for the smaller distances where more people live closer together?

      Since we in America don’t have a decent normal speed rail network connecting everywhere to everywhere else, I would rather see a decent normal speed rail network restored before playing prestige games with high speed rail. I would also rather see massive restoration of trolleys, streetcars, and subways ( both underground and overground).

      The anti-conservation and energy-wastage effects of high speed rail are touched on in this article:
      This is a whole other issue I suppose. How fast can a train go before it creates so much air resistance to its own forward motion at that speed that it is burning more fuel per same distance to overcome its own speed-made air resistance obstruction? No train should be allowed to run at or over that “speed of rising resistance” in any case.

      A network of High Speed Trains would not be a threat and a menace to public health the way a network of 5 G communications would. But it would still be more negative than positive, both for the waste of energy it causes and for the better investment it would preclude by sucking up the money. I believe we are seeing this in California where a High Speed Prestige Railway is being built while the Okay Rail Networks that California used to have remain un-restored.

    5. VietnamVet

      This is the same as Amtrak which has 21,000 miles of track. But Amtrak is on private railroads with a maximum of 79 miles per hour speed, except the Northeast Corridor. Most trains are once per day except a few state sponsored corridors. China with same mileage has airplane frequency and speed, point to point. Amtrak is a middle class and rural heritage service that is being whittled away. Dining service is going away on long distance trains.

      One nation the middle class is disappearing. The other it is expanding. Both have unified rule; the Communist Party or the War Party. Both have oligarchs. In one, the party still rules. In the other, government is the best money can buy.

      If the USA is going to transform into a Green Economy it will have to duplicate China’s rail system and mass transportation. However, this is contrary to the neoliberal prime directive of increasing one’s own wealth no matter the consequences in lives lost or destruction caused. The difference between China and the USA is the redistribution of wealth, none in the USA. Also America has been at war since 2001. Trillions spent on airplanes, ships, bombs, bullets and contractors; not infrastructure.

      1. Jack Ryan

        American rail was generally designed to move freight; it was, until conrail, a multitude of privately owned enterprises. As to wealth, we don’t have any of that here? I sure hope nobody finds out about the trillion dollars held in 401k plans. I’m sure when we finally get a powerful central government run by communists that will all get redistributed. Glad to know the war party supports Trump, somebody should tell the Obama/Clinton wing of the war party.

  22. xkeyscored

    “Puerto Rico’s Next Big Crisis Is Water” HuffPo
    the United States sought to juxtapose its crown-jewel Caribbean colony with communist Cuba as an example of capitalist progress
    Perhaps Cuba might be tempted use Puerto Rico as a lesson in what colonialism and capitalism mean. Poisoned water for the poor, while Monsanto et al. get land and water rights, tax breaks and subsidies, with little or no effective oversight or regulation.

  23. Chauncey Gardiner

    The article from Reuters about US objections to Canadian use of Huawei products due to concerns about Chinese surveillance and data gathering reminded me of the house arrest of that company’s CFO in Vancouver. Last I heard, she was awaiting a Canadian court hearing about her possible extradition to the U.S. Beyond recent publicity concerning pervasive surveillance, data gathering, and related privacy issues by our own Big Tech companies, I am unfamiliar with the basis for the Huawei technology concerns. A corporate financial officer would typically not be integrally involved in the aspects of this concern that might matter. So at the risk of displaying my naivete, what’s up with this? On the face of it, what would constructively be achieved through her extradition to the U.S.? Her release might be a positive step toward resolution of the ongoing trade and intellectual property disputes with China.

    1. xkeyscored

      There’s absolutely no evidence for the Huawei concerns, beyond the possibility that there could be backdoors. So far none have been found, though the UK has found weaknesses which Huawei is addressing (and is there software without weaknesses?).
      And who says the US wants Meng Wanzhou extradited? Maybe they’re quite happy for Canada to hold her, while legal proceedings are dragged out. It makes Canada a de facto ally in the trade war.

  24. Tomonthebeach

    The transnationalist US foreign-policy elite in exile?

    Not sure why this is surprising. Pros are members of professional groups. Not well-connected with your colleagues around the world? Then you are probably not very good at what you do – not a professional. Some people will defend Trump by saying he is shaking things up like he promised. I would rejoin that driving your truck into the front door of the Piggly-Wiggly shakes things up, but it is reckless, needlessly risks life and treasure, and in the end, deprives people of access to food, angers people who depend on that food, and makes the driver a social pariah. That is exactly what Trump has been doing to the rest of the world – driving a truck into their front doors.

    So, why should this finding be a surprise? It is not. US foreign policy is CLEARLY RUN BY AMATEURS who are either ignorant minions, crooks, and/or grifters. Giuliani, need I say more?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      to extend your piggly wiggly analogy.
      what if the bosses at PW are inept, but own all avenues of change, and will allow no challenge to their continued rule…to the point that people are starving in the parking lot?
      I have always loathed trump…since i first became aware of him(about the same time i became aware of the clintons, as a matter of fact, and started loathing them, too)
      but the ptb won’t allow a peaceful revolution…or even meaningful reform(echoing JFK, here)…they pay no mind to the suffering they cause, here and abroad, and grow more blatant and shameless in their corruption and immorality every day.
      it’s sad as hell that it took their own rabid dog to disrupt(even a little) their continuing predations and perfidy.
      but what’s the alternative?
      bloody revolution?
      they have plans upon plans for that.
      the only alternative that i can see or have seen is a universal strike…but without the media, and/or otherwise control over the narrative, there’s little hope for that.
      so we lament the boorishness of the current occupant, and attempt to use his chaos to our advantage…and that last part is the discussion we should be having on every corner, right now.

  25. flora

    re: “Impeachment is a comedy” -Vanity Fair

    This soap opera has a dark sense of humor. The most important revelation of the hearings was a farcical, idiotic bit worthy of Curb Your Enthusiasm by way of Veep: The president’s a loud talker. A loud phone talker. He’s so loud that career diplomat (and modern Adonis) David Holmes heard Trump’s voice, blaring from the tinny speaker of Gordon Sondland’s cell phone in a restaurant in Kyiv, clearly asking if Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky would accede to the investigation. During his testimony, Holmes mimed Sondland holding the phone away from his ear and wincing at the volume of the president’s voice. (my ephasis)

    Oh. right. A phone call from the pres talking sensitive policy is taken in a restaurant, and Sondland, taking the call, instead of lowering his phone’s speaker volume holds the phone up in the air where others can hear… right. Standard secure communications protocol. /s

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      why are we suddenly spelling Kiev that way?(“Kyiv”)
      tinfoil bathrobe itches, and i think about screwing up the google search to better hide the history.

      prolly a better transliteration of the ukrainian word, but still…in the last month, apparently, the NYT style guide seems to have been modified.

      1. Mel

        According to Wikipedia, “Киев” is Russian. So we don’t do that now. And the city really is in Ukraine, so “Київ” is what they call it in Київ.

        1. VietnamVet

          This is fairly common. When one ethnic group seizes power, they often promote their language to be the official one; changing names and spelling. Ukraine is spoken the western region which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to WWI. After the Maidan Coup, Russian language was officially forbidden. This and neo-Nazis shooting up polling places and incinerating protestors in Odessa are what caused the separation of the eastern ethnic Russian Donbass region and the civil war that continues today, not Vladimir Putin’s Aggression.

      2. John A

        Kiev is the name of the city in Russian,
        Kyiv is the Ukrainian name.
        Most MSM style guides have been re-written to insist the Ukrainian version is used.
        It is actually a good rule of thumb that if an article uses ‘Kyiv’ it will be Russia/Putin bashing.
        Maybe one day we will use München and Köln etc., to be fully consistent and Woke with foreign city names. It is all very petty and childish, TBH.

  26. Plenue

    >Netanyahu’s Long and Illustrious Career Is Coming to a Sad and Shameful End Haaretz

    So the thesis of this article is that Netanyahu has been Israel’s most eloquent and politically skilled leader ever, but didn’t use his abilities for anything positive.

    Well, if that thug is Israel’s most charismatic, that must mean the rest were all rocks with smiley faces drawn on them. This reminds me of how Obama is supposedly one of America’s great orators.

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