Links 12/7/19

Yves here. Funny how the zeitgeist has changed. The fact that today is Pearl Harbor Day was more widely remembered when I started blogging than now. Of course, one contributor is the last World War II vets are dying. One I knew personally who was 95 who was a Battle of the Bulge survivor passed away about a month ago. He led a local Battle of the Bulge group that met about monthly for World War II vets and other interested people.

Separately, I feel compelled to hoist a comment of mine that took issue with a reader yesterday who tried to depict those who were appalled at Uber’s reported sexual assault level as innumerate. This is already a straw manning-argument, since most of the articles seemed to express concern at what looked to be a high absolute number, and as I’ll demonstrate soon, it looks to be a high number relative to the incidence at regulated car services.

I’ve reworked the comment a bit to make it more accessible as a stand-alone piece:

Don’t try “innumeracy” here. Let’s start with the fact that total rides isn’t the relevant basis for computing the risk of being raped, since you don’t have the population at risk and in particular, solo rides by women at night (rapes of men are only about 9% of total rapes in the US) who were presumably sleeping in the back seat (driver has to stop the car and get in the back seat to have any physical contact). Oh, and remember that the biggest economic group per Hubert Horan taking cab is actually low earners taking cabs back from jobs at night…who are probably less likely to say anything due to legitimate concern of not being believed as a lower-class person.

But let’s play your game. Using gross figures, you are still more than three times as likely to be assaulted in an Uber than in a regulated cab in NYC, Uber’s biggest single market.

From my comment further down:

In NYC, the latest data I could find is that there were 14 rapes in 2016 in cabs and 10 in 2015. That includes all cars for hire that the TLC regulates, like green borough cabs.

24% of Uber’s business comes from 5 cities. The prospectus lists NYC first. I can tell you that means NYC is the biggest. The convention in SEC filings is to list in order of importance (confirming that, the list was not alphabetical).

So let us charitably assume that NYC is only 5% of Uber’s total bookings.

3000 x .05 = 150.

Now admittedly Uber has broader categories for abuse than just rape, like unwanted kissing. But it called the police (or probably more accurately, had police called in on them) 37% of the time. So take 150 x .37 and you get 55.5, still over 3 times as high as level TLC regulated taxis.

Let me add it may be worse than three times as much. Uber typically compares its volumes to yellow cabs, when yellow cabs have only ~13,000 medallions, and the TLC regulates about 40,000 other vehicles, such as green “boro” cars, licensed black cars (like Carmel) and ambulettes. Incorporating that, the level of total regulated NYC rides in 2016 likely exceeded Uber volumes now (particularly when you factor in that yellow cab ride levels were higher in 2106 than now).

Note that the level of reported rapes in the US is 127,000 for 2018. The Uber definition is broader, since it includes mere non-consensual kissing (but query how often a victim would complain about that, as opposed to never using Uber again) but Uber said the police were involved in 37& of its cases, which strongly suggests Seriously Bad Shit with them. So ste but their sexual assault numbers include only physical action, when the National Crime Victimization Study (which is widely cited) has an even broader definition and includes verbal threats and “unwanted sexual contact without force” which also would appear not operative with Uber.

That number is even worse when you consider that a large UK study found that only 9% of rape victims were raped by strangers, and most experts in the US estimate that the victim knows her rapist 80% to 90% of the time.

The Deep Sea Neal Agarwal (Chuck L). Trust me, you’ll like this.

Recordings Reveal That Plants Make Ultrasonic Squeals When Stressed New Scientist

Has physics ever been deterministic? PhysOrg (Robert M)

200 Researchers, 5 Hypotheses, No Consistent Answers Wired (Robert M)

Can a single-celled organism ‘change its mind’? New study says yes PhysOrg (Robert M)

From disbelief to dread: the dismal new routine of life in Sydney’s smoke haze Guardian

Study finds BPA levels in humans dramatically underestimated MedicalXpress (Louis F)

China?

On the defensive on human rights, China’s ambassadors go on the attack South China Morning Post (Troy P)

Huawei appeals to Japan as the US miscalculates Asia Times (Kevin W)

With People in the Streets Worldwide, Media Focus Uniquely on Hong Kong FAIR (UserFriendly)

Brexit

How People’s Vote destroyed itself New Statesman

Former Conservative PM John Major tells Brits to vote against Tories in three key seats Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W)

A Decade of The Tories. Jonathan Pie (Kevin W)

Emmanuel Macron’s Plan to Take Control of Europe Moves On to Phase Two Bloomberg (Chuck L)

Argentina puts austerity sceptic in charge of debt talks Financial Times

New Cold War

Napoleon, Kutuzov, and the changing international order Irrussianality (Chuck L). Note this piece has broad implications.

“Zone of Uncertainty”: What to Expect From US Fuel at Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants Stalker Zone (Chuck L). Disturbing. Another proof of the costs to people in Ukraine of the US having its way..

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Trump Administration Drops Plans For Mandatory Face Scans of Citizens US News

Keep Your IoT Devices on a Separate Network, FBI Says ZDNet. This seems to be the opposite of how the Echo works….you can’t tell Alexa to order from Amazon or turn on your music unless it has access to your data and your files.

New vulnerability lets attackers sniff or hijack VPN connections ZDNet (David L)

Trump Transition

Supreme Court halts subpoena to Deutsche Bank for Trump records The Hill

700,000 people could lose food stamps under Trump administration’s new SNAP rules USA Today (Chuck L)

Nikki Haley says Confederate flag symbolized ‘service, sacrifice and heritage’ until mass shooter Dylann Roof ‘hijacked’ it Market Watch. (UserFriendly). As readers know, this is flat out counterfactual.

Saudi king condemns ‘barbaric’ US base shooting BBC

Pensacola shooter’s alleged manifesto slams ‘crimes against Muslims’ & US policies abroad – report RT. Chuck L: “A real confidence builder for those US military assigned to work with their Saudi confreres.”

‘It’s This Culture of Secrecy That’s Pervading the Courts’ FAIR

Does DeSantis want to void Amendment 4? His lawyers suggest yes, he does. Tampa Bay Times (UserFriendly)

Impeachment

>Turley: Democrats offering passion over proof in Trump impeachment The Hill (Chuck L)

BC comment on tweet below:

The equivocation debate on the Clinton and Trump impeachment’s is interesting, but I find Pelosi’s explanation of why she pushed back on impeaching GW Bush absolutely astonishing. She admits that at the time leading to the Iraq War she “knew” that the public was being told lies, but “having said that, in my view was not grounds for impeachment…that was..they won the election, they made a representation…”

How Pelosi could be so comfortable glibly explaining why a President selling lies to convince Congress and the American people into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and thousands of U.S. Soldiers is NOT an impeachment offense, but whatever this twisted logic spectical is, does call for impeachment.

Whatever Trump might have done, nothing compares (for Pelosi et al) with the damage he has done to the status quo of political capital horse trading. Nauseating!

2020

Biden Says He Would Consider Giving Ambassadorships to Donors Bloomberg

Elizabeth Warren Tells Poor Parents to Fix Their Own Schools New York Magazine. UserFriendly: “Chait is a dishonest snake., but this still looks bad.”

Our Famously Free Press

Fake News By Omission — The Mass Media’s Cowardly Distortion Tool Caitlin Johnstone

Revealed: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib targeted in far-right fake news operation Guardian (JTM)

The Bezzle

Magic Leap, a Startup That Has Raised Over $2.3 Billion, Has Sold Just 6,000 Units of Its $2,300 VR Headset — Far Below 1 Million Units Its CEO Initially Hoped TechCrunch

Elon Musk wins defamation case over ‘pedo guy’ tweet about caver BBC

Trump Administration Weighs Putting Amazon Foreign Sites on ‘Notorious Markets’ List Wall Street Journal. Top of the story:

The Trump administration is considering adding some of Amazon.com Inc. ’s overseas operations to a list of global marketplaces known for counterfeit goods, in what would amount to a public shaming of the e-commerce juggernaut, according to people familiar with the matter..

The action would be taken by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, which publishes an annual list of “Notorious Markets” that identifies online and physical marketplaces believed to sell or facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods and pirated content.

Less than a year after abandoning HQ2 in New York City, Amazon says it’s opening a new 1,500-employee office in NYC Business Insider. Kevin W: “Alternate link for this story called Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Won’t you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway’ The Hill

PG&E Agrees to Pay $13.5 Billion in Settlement With Victims of California Wildfires Wall Street Journal. Half in stock. This from a serial bankrupt.

Congress Must Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Data for Progress (UserFriendly)

Guillotine Watch

Class Warfare

The Data Show That Socialism Works Current Affairs (UserFriendly)

Robots in Finance Could Wipe Out Some of Its Highest-Paying Jobs Bloomberg

Jobs, Jobs Everywhere, But Most of Them Kind of Suck New York Magazine (resilc)

Obamas reportedly buy Martha’s Vineyard waterfront estate for $11.75 million Boston Globe (chuck roast)

Link found between killings of unarmed black people by police and local babies born prematurely PhysOrg (Chuck L). I assume their is a joint driver, like a certain level of poverty in black communities.

Antidote du jour (Chet G, back in snapping turtle season):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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259 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    ‘The fact that today is Pearl Harbor Day was more widely remembered when I started blogging than now.’

    Actually for reasons of my own I mark Pearl Harbour Day and have been saving the following link for most of this year for today. The USS Arizona was one of the battle-waggons which were lost that day and which now has a Memorial over it. Lots of good early images here-

    https://tucson.com/news/retrotucson/rarely-seen-photos-of-the-uss-arizona-sunk-dec-in/collection_da38c166-ac2b-11e6-8ff3-674350ff0b87.html#1

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      In Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor Robert Stinnett makes a compelling case that the Roosevelt administration did indeed lure Japan into the attack. The multi-step strategy of incrementally more severe provocations was formulated by a junior naval intelligence officer who had grown up in the country as the son of Christian missionaries.

      1. Lee

        Yes, the Japanese were lured into conflict by being surrounded by aggressive U.S. and European colonial hegemons. They just wanted to join the imperial club in in the well established coercive manner of the times.

        1. Jessica

          Given Japan’s successful seizure of Taiwan in 1895 and Korea in 1910, by 1941 they were definitely part of the imperialist bully club.
          There were a major factor in the “let’s you and him fight” maneuvering between the western democracies and the Soviet Union to see who could get the other to bear the brunt of the fight against the Nationalsocialist regime.

          1. Kurtismayfoeld

            In a world full of bullies, you either become one or are a victim. I wouldn’t blame any country during that time period from wanting to be strong enough to not be taken advantage of.

      2. Wukchumni

        We had tried to get into WW2 via the WW1 way, and Nazi submarines kept sinking destroyers (USS Niblack, USS Greer, USS Kearny, USS Reuben James) but we were as non-interventionist then as we are interventionists now, the public had no stomach for somebody else’s war.

        The compelling evidence that Pearl Harbor was a setup comes from the American Ambassador in Japan, who was tipped off to a pending attack by the Peruvian Minister, almost a year before it happened. Grew was not what we would think of an ambassador now-given their position as a political perk, he had a long storied career serving all over the globe.

        On January 27, 1941, Grew secretly cabled the United States with information gathered from Ricardo Rivera Screiber, Peruvian Minister to Japan, that “Japan military forces planned a surprise mass attack at Pearl Harbor in case of ‘trouble’ with the United States,” information that was declassified twelve years later. Grew’s account said, “There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course I informed our Government”.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Grew

        1. Carolinian

          That’s less than compelling I’d say. It’s widely accepted that the Roosevelt administration knew an attack was coming somewhere (perhaps the Philippines) and may even have wanted it to happen but a rumor passed on by an ambassador a year in advance doesn’t prove a “setup.”

          1. Wukchumni

            The aircraft carriers stationed @ Pearl Harbor dispersed in 3 different locales just before the attack, leaving an armada of ships in harbor that were not only ancient by military standards (almost all 1910’s era) but also dispensable.

            If sinking 4 destroyers couldn’t sway public opinion, why you had to up the game.

            1. The Historian

              Nonsense!

              There were three aircraft carriers with the Pacific Fleet. One, the Saratoga had been absent from Pearl Harbor for almost a year undergoing retrofitting. She was in San Diego picking up her planes when Pearl Harbor happened.

              One ship, the Enterprise, had been sent ferrying planes to Wake Island. It was due to return to Pearl Harbor on Dec 6th but ran into rough seas and didn’t get back until Dec 8th.

              The third ship was sent to deliver planes to Midway since by then the Navy knew it had lost track of one of Japan’s carrier groups and it was thought that if Japan had nefarious plans, it would most likely strike there.

              There was nothing unusual about why the carriers weren’t in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th.

              Many of the ships damaged at Pearl Harbor were repaired and saw service during WW II. They were obviously not dispensable. You do realize that most of the US’s Pacific Fleet was docked at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, don’t you? Do you really think that most of the US’s Pacific Fleet was considered dispensable?

              I think you are getting your information from unreliable sources.

              1. Wukchumni

                Again, most of the battleships @ Pearl Harbor were ancient, commissioned in 1916 for the most part, they were expendable to get us into war.

                Modern battleships (Iowa Class-North Carolina Class & South Dakota Class) ordered by the US Government in 1939-40 were pretty johnny on the spot, take the Battleship USS Alabama, it was launched in February 1942, the last of the SD Class of Battleship to be launched.

                1. George Phillies

                  Commissioned in 1916 made them respectably modern. Also, the battleships were the battle line, the core of the fleet. Aircraft carriers were expected pre-war to play a secondary role in naval battles. It was respectably well known that the ships at anchor were safe against torpedo attack, because the harbor was too shallow — the Japanese had a secret weapon that worked.

                  Also, the West Virginia was commissioned in 1923.

          2. Anon

            But it is part of a pattern of US “incomprehension of events”. Recall Condoleeza Rice’s exclamation. “Who would have thought” about the events of 9/11, 2001. Willful ignorance is part of US foreign policy, as well.

        2. IronForge

          The Code was broken months before the Attack.
          Japan took the Bait. After All, Embargoes/Sanctions were Acts of War.
          The USA_Hegemon waited, watched, and allowed the Attack.

          The USA could have:
          A) Confronted JPN before their Fleet Deployed;
          B) Exposed the Fleet before All before their Arrival;
          C) Confronted the Fleet enroute with warnings, then Engaging them, foiling the Attack.

          Exposing and Confronting the JPN Fleet would have given Vets a Fighting Chance – with due notice warning off or fending off the Fleet – perhaps even sinking them.

          Hundreds of American lives could have been saved; but the Hegemon’s KleptOchlarchy needed a “Reason” to enter the War.

          A reason that would convince the American People and Congress to go to War.

          Casualties. Plenty of them.

          ****

          I am not a casual observer. I was born and raised in a Naval Base Community in Japan – currently the largest USA Naval Base in the World – as well as serving on a Guided Missile Cruiser based there for my Ensign Sea Tour – deploying from the Pacific to the Gulf during the IRQ-IRN Wars.

          My late Father was a WWII+CHNCivlWar+KOR // Vietnam (as CivlSvc) Navy Veteran with 20 years Active + 20+ Years CivilAuxFleet Careers. He was a Crew Member of the WWII Star Submarine Tautog among many other Sub Patrols.

          He married my Mother, a JPN Lady(an “IronBetty” and School Teacher during WWII) he met while she worked at the Base Retail Exchange in the 50s. Married, lived in Pearl Harbor when HI was still a Territory, had my Older Brother, and moved back to JPN and lived there until 1989 when I helped them retire in the USA as I finished my Ensign (Annapolis Grad) Sea Tour on a Cruiser Homeported there.

          1. Anon

            My very late father was a Navy officer at Pearl Harbor. He had tales I could barely comprehend during my grade schooling. He was discarded at the end of WWII because of inreasing severe hearing disabilities, incurred from the attack, made him no longer useful to the Navy. I recall watching hours of Victory at Sea episodes on the TV with him giving ‘commentary’. It was wistful; a career denied.

          2. Carolinian

            This particular CT has been argued over at length since the end of WW2. There were Congressional hearings about it. I don’t intend to battle over the particulars, but just in brief: yes the naval codes were broken but the attack fleet proceeded in radio silence after leaving the Kuriles so the US would have had to have found them before sinking in advance.

            And what has always been lacking is proof of FDR’s knowledge and intentions. So suspect away, but proof is lacking which is what does indeed make it a theory and not compelling.

            1. kevbot9000

              As far as I know Wohlstetter’s Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision is the definitive account of the intelligence decisions that lead to Pearl Harbor. (and the Philippines) It was a signal to noise issue which looks clear in hindsight but not before. As an aside, Missing the Pearl Harbor attack was excusable but MacArthur should have been sacked for gross incompetence.

              1. pasha

                amen! it has always rankled me that kimmel was fired for failure to magically read the vague intelligence tea leaves, but mac arthur — who was given hours of warning — sat in numbed silence, unable to act, yet was not cashiered. but he was always one who failed upwards.

                my dad, whose ship was under mas arthur’s command at leyte gulf, would always recite this ditty whenever his name came up:

                “they called for the army at guadalcanal
                but general mac arthur said ‘no.’
                he gave as his reason ‘it is the hot season,
                besides it has no u.s.o”

          3. Big River Bandido

            Carolinian outlines the facts correctly.

            In addition to that, the Japanese changed their naval codes just days before Pearl Harbor, leaving Station Hypo completely in the dark. Decrypting the new code took many weeks of round-the-clock efforts.

            On top of which, it would be incorrect to assume that reading the decrypts was a straightforward affair. They would still have been marked up with as-yet-undecoded bits, and also couched in language that was itself meant to be vague.

        3. hpschd

          The USS Reuben James was sunk by a German torpedo 31 October 1941, the first US ship lost in WW2. The USS Kearny was struck by a torpedo but survived 17 October 1941. The others were involved in attacks in April and October 1941 but were not damaged. On 10 April 1941, the USS Niblack dropped depth charges on a German sub (to no apparent effect). That was the first US WW2 action against the Germans. After the 4 September 1941 Greer incident FDR declared the “shoot-on-sight” policy when German or Italian naval vessels were encountered raiding convoys. All this was before war was declared between the US and Germany. – Wikipedia

          1. The Rev Kev

            After one US ship was sunk, Roosevelt declared that “history will record who fired the first shot” and he was right. It was actually the US as that ship was attacking that German sub. Those tin cans already had secret orders to fire at German ships and subs on sight.

        4. Procopius

          The U.S. had broken the Japanese diplomatic cipher, so they were able to read the messages from Tokyo to the embassy in Washington, D.C. The trouble was, the military were not keeping the diplomats informed of the details of their plans, so although we knew that an attack was planned, we didn’t know where or when. Actually, it was widely accepted among informed people that war with Japan was inevitable. Tokyo sent a directive to their embassy, telling the ambassador to deliver a declaration of war at a time that would have been a few hours before the planes arrived at Pearl Harbor, but the message was given a classification that required the ambassador to decode it himself. Well, that’s a clerk’s job, and the ambassador was so inept it took him hours to decipher the message, and by the time he delivered the declaration the attack was already over. Now, the story back in the ’50s was that although they had learned the date and time of the attack, the fact that they could read the diplomatic code was so important (methods and sources) that Roosevelt and Stimson decided they dare not inform the CINCPAC, lest the Japanese (who had a first-rate intelligence network in Hawaii) learn about it and change their codes. I think they did not envision how many soldiers, sailors, and marines would die in that attack. Of course this story may not be true, but there were several Congressional investigations into the matter because the Republicans really, really wanted to blame Roosevelt for it. I got this version from a book called The Codebreakers, by David Kahn.

      3. The Historian

        It is easy to sit in an armchair and look through records and find bits of evidence and go: “Ah-ha! Smoking Gun!” for any idea you wish to come up with.

        But unfortunately, real historians can’t do that. They have to look at the entirety of the evidence in the context within which that evidence existed. Pearl Harbor wasn’t a plot by FDR or any other American, it was the result of the US misunderstanding Japan and Japan misunderstanding the US.

        There were many reports of possible attacks by the Japanese during that time period. Which ones should have been considered important at that time? They had been hearing about Japanese attacks at various locations for over a year before Pearl Harbor happened and the military began to think that the reports probably weren’t credible since nothing happened. Certainly the military leaders at the time couldn’t envision that the Japanese Navy could mount such an attack on Pearl Harbor. The reports that they saw about Pearl Harbor led them to believe that any attack would be some sort of sabotage operation by Japanese nationals on the islands. And remember, by the time Pearl Harbor happened, the US was already reading Japanese diplomatic codes and they still hoped for a diplomatic settlement of the issues. What the US didn’t understand was that the diplomats didn’t rule Japan, the military did.

        To claim that somehow Pearl Harbor was a US plot is to deny the absolutely technical brilliance of the attack by the Japanese and the fact that our military leaders at the time were still caught up in thinking that all naval battles would be fought like they were in World War I.

        It is also ludicrous to think that anyone in our country would purposely destroy those ships and planes that they would need to threaten and blockade Japan if Japan refused to come to any agreements.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          And the whole item is premised on uncertain victories at Midway and the Coral Sea. Those weren’t slam dunks.

          1. ambrit

            The Americans had broken the Imperial Navy’s codes before Midway and Coral Sea. Thus, with Japan in the dark, and America privy to both side’s plans, Midway and Coral Sea were as close to “slam dunks” as it gets. Even so, chance played it’s usual role.
            Also consider that the American plan from before Pearl Harbour was to concentrate on Europe first, and leave the Pacific for later. If that doesn’t betoken confidence, what does?

            1. Big River Bandido

              The Japanese Navy revised its codes frequently, including one revision just days before Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t until late winter/early spring of ’42 that Hypo managed to crack the new version — and even then, many of the conclusions were still conjecture prior to Coral Sea and Midway.

              It would be more correct to say that Hypo cracked the Japanese codes (plural) — several times. It was never a one-shot deal.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Agreed, Historian! Unfortunately, long experience shows those who are determined to believe the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories, with thin ‘evidence’ reliant entirely on hindsight and against all common sense, are just going to keep believing. They have to.

          There is no group I have ever encountered that is fonder of being “right” than WW2 “grognards (yup, I am one, though in a casual way). The esoteric and marathon pissing contests I’ve seen in 25 years reading WW2 boards far exceed anything I’ve found in academia, much less politics. And grogs like nothing better than to inflate the importance of some obscure fact they can cite that nobody else was aware of. As if esoteric knowledge by itself is some kind of philosopher’s stone on what happened and why.

      4. Synoia

        The US imposed sanctions and oil embargo on Japan. Those are generally considered an acts of war.

        Perl Harbor appears to be the Japanese response to the sanctions.

        1. JohnnySacks

          As we are doing unto Iran today, hoping they don’t take matters into the physical realm as their citizens suffer under our crippling sanctions. Or maybe that’s the plan all along, goading them into action so Raytheon, etc. can hit the jackpot. And we wonder why they desire nuclear deterrents.

        2. JBird40049

          The United States not giving its own oil and scrap metal to Japan in retaliation for Japan’s actual ongoing invasion at the time could be considered an act of war? I guess not supporting a barbaric war that included such things as the Rape of Nanking could be considered a hostile act from a certain point of view.

          I can accept the idea of some Machiavellian plots by the Americas and the British, but both Japan and Germany were both going to drag the United States and the British Empire into a war somehow in the 1940s. It was only a question of exactly when and how.

          1. ambrit

            The Japanese only had to look at America’s history relating to it’s treatment of it’s own aboriginals, plus it’s treatment of ‘natives’ in the Philippines, to ‘justify’ their actions in China.

            1. Wukchumni

              To add some flavor to the spice, Russian POW’s were treated with much respect by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War, right around the same time of America’s treatment of the ‘natives’ in the Philippines.

              But it was the Matsuyama camp that became the most famous for its lenient and humane treatment of the Russians. The exact number of POWs in Matsuyama fluctuated throughout the war, as prisoners were often transferred to other camps that opened after they arrived at Matsuyama. But the maximum number in the Matsuyama camp at any given time was believed to be just over 4,000, at a time when Matsuyama’s population was about 30,000.

              The treatment of the Russians was also praised by non-Japanese observers. Commenting about her tour of Japan in 1904 to check on the health conditions of the prisoners, Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, an American military physician, described the following to a U.S. audience upon her return: “I was also given the opportunity to go to Matsuyama on the Inland Sea, where the largest hospital for prisoners of war was located, and which at this time had also a number of sound (healthy) Russian officers who had just been transferred from Port Arthur.

              https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/22/national/history/civility-shown-russo-japanese-war-pows-lives-matsuyamas-legacy/#.XewU6ejYqzw

            2. Synoia

              The United States not giving its own oil and scrap metal to Japan in retaliation for Japan’s actual ongoing invasion at the time could be considered an act of war?

              The US sanctioned Japan by blockading the supply of oil from the Middle East.

              Sanctions and Blockades are acts of War.

        3. td

          I find it interesting that no one has mentioned China in this thread. Japan had been chipping away at China since WW1 and went to all-out war in 1937. Significant events included the murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanking when the city fell and numerous provocations against Americans including the sinking of the gunboat Panay.

          Roosevelt’s stated objective in pressuring Japan was to get them to withdraw from Indochina and to negotiate with China. It is clear in hindsight that Japan was not willing under any circumstances to do either and that they were certain to go to war with the Western powers.

          Japan’s oil came from the United States and the Dutch East Indies, not the Middle East.

          Finally, the detailed planning of the Pearl Harbor attack was clearly done in the fall of 1941 and was not part of a long-term plan. Admiral Yamamoto had to threaten resignation to be allowed to carry out the attack and had to promise to divert the carriers to the East Indies and Malaya campaigns immediately afterward. Few of the other senior admirals expected an overwhelming victory.

          The United States had enough fighters on Oahu to severely impede the attack if they had in any sense been prepared. The public would have been equally aroused by a partial Japanese failure so it was not necessary for political reasons to make such a sacrifice. This is actually a good indicator that there was no great mastermind at work with devious hidden agendas on the US side.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Certainly the US pilots that were able to get up and take on the Japanese planes did a lot of damage, especially lieutenants Kenneth Taylor (later a general in the Alaskan Air National guard) and George Welch (a future fighter ace killed while testing the F-100). Here is a page on them-

            https://www.history.com/news/heroes-of-pearl-harbor-george-welch-and-kenneth-taylor

            And a clip from the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora” showing them in action-

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd5ZBoRzr3I

      5. VietnamVet

        If there are any historians left looking back at the end of 2019 and the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike force sailing around the Persian Gulf, 14,000 American troops entering Saudi Arabia, Carolina National Guard armored units seizing Syria’s oil fields, Israel testing a long range missile, Aramco’s oil facilities vulnerability to drone attack and the US President’s impeachment, they will say that it was ordained that the Northern Hemisphere would be destroyed in the war that started with Iran and then escalated to include the Russia Federation.

  2. Chas

    Does anyone know what happened to venezuelanalysis.com? I haven’t been able to bring up the site for a week. It’s the only site I know of that realistically reports on what’s happening in Venezuela.

    1. Darius

      I just went there. It’s up. My phone didn’t auto fill the url, which it should have since I visit it semi regularly. Odd.

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Re: Magic Leap – As someone who has been somewhat paying attention to the VR and AR developments over the past few years, I hadn’t even heard of Magic Leap until about 2 days ago. Not a good sign if you’re planning on moving 100k of units at $2k+ a pop.
    Having said that; VR and AR are both pretty cool but still early products that I have trouble seeing as anything other than niche entertainment devices. Even for the few non-entertainment applications I’d question just how big a market there really is.
    I know Apple is busy apparently getting an AR headset ready, but that speaks more to Apple really having no idea what to do anymore than probably any real wide scale market appeal.
    VR and AR are awesome for somethings… but those things are pretty limited. Unless someone has an ace up their sleeves with some heretofore unknown application that everyone wants I just don’t see it having much mass appeal outside of gaming. Even then it’s only really well suited for *some* types of games and not all.
    Since my chances of ever being able to flog a 550 Spyder around the Nordschleife are extremely limited I’ll probably get a VR headset at some point. But, I doubt the VR and AR market will ever be much more than a few knuckleheads like myself

    1. xkeyscored

      Even for the few non-entertainment applications I’d question just how big a market there really is.
      Maybe not much of a market, but some interesting applications. I’ve heard of doctors and medical students using it, and a bunch of chemistry professors who were given VR simulations of molecules which they could prod and poke and throw around. They were all sceptical beforehand, but all said they’d gained insights they’d never got from their equations, by seeing how wobbles spread around the molecules in waves and so on. But generally I agree, I can’t see it catching on big time in its current form.

      As for AR, augmented reality, I do find it a great misnomer. In most cases it’s not reality that’s being augmented, it’s an image on the screen of a phone. Is that now deemed reality?

      1. rowlf

        Airbus uses VR to aid in aircraft design to check for interference between design components and maintenance access. Boeing got did some good work with CAD layout on the 777 but Airbus has some clever computer design techniques now. (I was always amazed the 787 was built on French design software.)

        What used to take some caveman in coveralls like me and an engineer to figure out adding a wiring bundle can be done very well in a design office and even spiffy color instructions printed. Good times!

        1. Synoia

          The Dassault design software, CATIA, has been the high leading end design software for over 40 years.

          I remember reviewing it’s specs for a proposal to a large Civil Engineering company in ZA the late ’70s/early 80s.

          1. jsn

            CATIA is what unleashed blobism into modern architecture: Frank Gehry harnessed it under license in the late 80s to create Gehry Technologies computer work stations that were like Bloomberg terminals for blobist designers.

            “I can” seems to be the only reason to build most of these shapes…

            1. Plenue

              “I can” seems to be the only reason to build most of these shapes…

              You say this like it’s a bad thing.

    2. Knifecatcher

      The best shot at a true, killer app for VR is the new game recently announced by Valve, Half-Life Alyx. It will work with all the major VR headsets on the market but will ONLY be available on VR – no mouse/keyboard/monitor version.

      Half-Life is probably the most video game IP with the most pent-up demand for a new game, so if this isn’t the tipping point for VR I’m not sure it’s ever going to happen.

      1. JohnnySacks

        Sad to hear, Half-Life 2 was my all time favorite and after all this time waiting for a follow-up, here it is, unusable. Seems like a waste of creative resources to serve such a small market or is it simply tech hype, eye candy over content to push hardware sales?

        1. RMO

          On the other hand, it’s going to get me to try VR – for better or worse so that’s at least one person it managed to suck in. It could be great… or it could be like if George Lucas dropped the original Star Wars film series with the end of The Empire Strikes Back never making the third film, but following up over a decade later by putting out The Phantom Menace but making it an IMAX-only production!

          I find that what I like best in video games is either puzzles or the ability to immerse myself in and explore an imaginary world so I may end up liking VR once I try it. I actually hadn’t heard of this company until this post though, despite doing some recent research on VR systems because of the announcement of the new Half Life game – whatever they spent their money on it doesn’t seem to have been promotion.

  4. Livius Drusus

    Re: Jobs, Jobs Everywhere, But Most of Them Kind of Suck.

    From the article:

    The plight of the downwardly mobile manufacturing worker is familiar to most Americans. But that of the displaced administrative assistant is less so. And yet, they are two sides of the same story: Since 2000, the U.S. economy has shed 2.9 million jobs in (disproportionately male) production occupations, and 2.1 million in (disproportionately female) administrative and office-support roles.

    This is an important point that needs to be made. There has long been this idea that our economic woes are largely about male factory workers being displaced. While some of the coverage of that topic has been sympathetic others have been dismissive, playing on the old Archie Bunker stereotype with the implication that these men were stupid, retrograde reactionaries and that maybe they got what they deserved.

    However, I have long noticed the decline of many office jobs that used to be disproportionately staffed by women and this is a topic that I have never seen discussed until today. Recently, the narrative has been about women rising up the ladder and leaving men behind but clearly this doesn’t apply to all women. I could be wrong about this but I have not seen many feminists discussing the issue of the destruction of predominantly female jobs. The focus lately has been on getting more women into corporate boardrooms. I think this reveals the class nature of our politics. Certain narratives get a lot of play but others don’t.

    Out here in the trenches of working America, people have noticed the disappearance of good jobs for a long time and I am glad that finally it is getting some empirical backing. I have often wondered if I was a crank or a malcontent because things just seem to be getting worse for most people around me but now there is a lot of evidence that things really are deteriorating for the majority of Americans.

    1. inode_buddha

      “…there is a lot of evidence that things really are deteriorating for the majority of Americans.”

      I would say that this has been going on since the 1980’s. But then, I’ve spent my life in the Rust Belt.

        1. inode_buddha

          I remember how everyone had to retrain for computers, the whole world was gonna be a computerized heaven.

          Then they sent all those jobs to India.

          And I don’t believe *anyone* any more. Too bad, they’ve used up all of their credibility, and all of their “goodwill” …

          Yours truly,-
          –the American worker.

        2. Jack Lifton

          Detroit itself has become a medieval city. An increasingly high end city center is surrounded by the hovels of serfs who do not participate in the city’s “revival. .” The failure of the American dream to be truly color blind is most obvious in Detroit. That is why San Francisco and Los Angeles are used as examples of failure, because in those cities the unhoused are mostly white and mentally ill. In Detroit the poorly housed are black and have been abandoned by the braying politicians who sob about ” working family values.” Inner city Detroiters only count as “guaranteed” Democrats. Shame on them.

          1. L_44_E

            In 2016, there were approx 24,000 more third party votes for president than in 2012 in Wayne county (detroit).

            Trump won the state by about 12,000.

            Hillary did not inspire, nor campaign + 25 more reasons she gave the election away.

            Whoa!! She is available to run, yearns to do so.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Yeah, but Mother…er…Hillary had the second most votes evah! More than Al Gore who once held the distinction of the most votes evah!, and we all remember the Gore Presidency!

            1. JBird4049

              I believe that the majority of homeless Californians are native with many who are employed, but that does not fit the Narrative.

              It is a state where an unusually large amount of housing appears to be permanently sequestered, and the extra housing that would still be needed not being built; $15 an hour jobs do not mean much in the land of $2000 per month 1 bedroom closets.

              This makes the reasoning of the Trump Administration to cut foodstamps because of how fabulous employment is an insult.

              1. Wukchumni

                Homeless but out of sight counts for a lot of people. On Hwy 198 that goes around Lake Kaweah, there are a number of little sidehills that go up an embankment in a 100 yard dirt road crescent that connects back @ Hwy 198 which can accommodate a few vehicles that are hidden away from sight when you’re driving on the road, you’d never know they were there, but there they are every night, staying @ the jalopy motel.

              2. inode_buddha

                Hey, they cut all those taxes, so where are all the jobs??? Maybe if people could get decent jobs they wouldn’t need food stamps. Time to hold their feet to the fire… /sarc

              3. synoia

                It is a state where an unusually large amount of housing appears to be permanently sequestered,

                Got some addresses in SoCal? I live here and fid that hard to believe.

                and the extra housing that would still be needed not being built;

                Can you specify where the houses are not being built?

        3. Big Tap

          The Clinton campaign didn’t have a clue. She kept the union in Iowa, a state she lost by around 10 percent not to go to Michigan. But it’s all Putin’s fault.

          “Everybody could see Hillary Clinton was cooked in Iowa. So when, a week-and-a-half out, the Service Employees International Union started hearing anxiety out of Michigan, union officials decided to reroute their volunteers, giving a desperate team on the ground around Detroit some hope.
          They started prepping meals and organizing hotel rooms.
          SEIU — which had wanted to go to Michigan from the beginning, but been ordered not to — dialed Clinton’s top campaign aides to tell them about the new plan. According to several people familiar with the call, Brooklyn was furious.
          Turn that bus around, the Clinton team ordered SEIU. Those volunteers needed to stay in Iowa to fool Donald Trump into competing there, not drive to Michigan, where the Democrat’s models projected a 5-point win through the morning of Election Day.”
          https://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/michigan-hillary-clinton-trump-232547

    2. human

      I show up at a number of unmanned “receptionists” desk these days where there are just instructions to sign in and ring a bell, call out or dial a number.

      1. hunkerdown

        “The problem with capitalism is that eventually you run out of other people’s free labor.” -Caitlin Johnstone, setting the Iron Lady straight

    3. Oregoncharles

      Not sure quite how this fits in, but: My wife has been struggling to supervise care for her sister, who is in no condition to take care of herself (dementia, other issues). We aren’t in the same city, so this involves endless hours on the phone – alarmingly, it’s almost a full time job. She uses speakerphone, so I hear most of these conversations. Virtually ALL of the people she talks to, other than a couple of brothers in law, are women. I rarely hear male voices – one or two doctors, when her sister was in the hospital.

      Most of them are nurses, receptionists, or managers. So I conclude that, at least at the patient-facing level, healthcare is staffed by women. This is where the missing office jobs have gone.

      Unfortunately, it’s also where the biggest hit from single payer would land. One of its big advantages is that it’s much simpler to administer. Medical personnel would still have jobs, probably more of them, and maybe receptionists; but insurance company clerks and phone answerers and other paper shufflers would not. You’d want to train them for actual medical work.

  5. bassmule

    Important issue of the day: Trump Says People Flush the Toilet 10 Times a Day. (Guardian)

    “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water,” Trump said while talking with business owners about what he called ‘‘commonsense” steps to end overregulation. Further down: “…a 2014 Government Accountability Office report found 40 of 50 state water managers feared water shortages in their states during the next decade.”

    And (from Bloomberg’s version): “Trump has similarly complained about light bulb energy efficiency requirements imposed under President Barack Obama, and the administration announced earlier this fall it would roll back the rules.

    The president mentioned that effort during Friday’s event, complaining that new energy-efficient bulbs made him appear orange.” Okay then!

    1. Wukchumni

      Virtually every toilet in NZ has 2 buttons, one for a very light dousing of H20 for #1, and a larger flush of water for #2.

      Why have I never seen one in these United States?

      1. katiebird

        We’ve got them in Kansas and Missouri. And my sister in Washington state has that style of flush.

        1. Susan the Other

          Saw a report on Deutsche Welle a few days ago on two women in Berlin, I think. They started a composting toilet for special events business. Wooden outhouses with the classic seat – since Roman times mind you – and sliding in and out beneath the potty hole there is a 40 gallon black rubber bucket lined with wood chips. After you go you sprinkle more wood chips to keep the odor down. The entrepreneurs come by and replace the rubber buckets and take the full ones off to the composting yard. It’s a successful business plan. The composted human waste is then used to enhance soil wherever it is needed. The Japanese have also done experimental composting of human waste and come up with a similar product. No water. No toxics.

        2. polecat

          No need for an unnecessarily expensive toilet retrofit … although, if society really meant business where water wastage was concerned, we’d all be using compost toilets. But Noooooo !! … that’s too anti-Victorian for most 1st-Worlders..

      2. xkeyscored

        As a complete outsider, I wonder if you see so few of them in the US because of the country’s idea of itself as big in everything it does. Big country, big economy, big military, big Macs, big cars, big movies. Might a minimum-flush button on a toilet seem mean, petty, unnecessary, and even un-American to many?

        1. Wukchumni

          I was talking with the park archaeologist about this subject matter a couple weeks ago. Damn near every tourist makes a pilgrimage to the Sherman Tree and it’s the only one they tend to come into close contact with, and you’d think it’d be a natural, the biggest (family-blog-ing) trees in the world, and Americans would be entranced by them, but no.

          I’m a Sequoia fancier, and know maybe a dozen people really into them-visiting as many as possible, and that’s about it.

        2. cnchal

          > . . . Big country, big economy, big military, big Macs, big cars, big movies.

          You are on a roll, but with big Macs and even bigger people come big craps. See the problem? Those puny flush toilets have to be flushed three times to git er done and gone.

      3. Dr. John Carpenter

        And to the contrary, I’ve been told by a few people I know who do salvage for a living there’s actually a thriving “black market”, if you will, for older toilets from before the industry switch to the efficiency standards they have now. ‘Merica!

      4. hunkerdown

        On mine, that functionality is hidden in the handle action. Push for #1, hold for #2.

        Maybe those four-flushers just don’t know how to use the thing.

      5. Yves Smith Post author

        I hate to be crass, but this still is not enough in the way of conservation, given that potable water is our most scarce resource and any reuse of water requires energy.

        The rule in parts of Maine using well water where the water is getting played out due to development is:

        “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”

        “Let it mellow” = as few as one flush a day. Close the lid and minimize paper use so as not to clog toilet when you do flush.

      6. Oregoncharles

        I see them everyday, mostly at businesses like the Co-op. We wouldn’t use one because it’s a long way to the septic tank, so more water is required. It’s from a well and going back into the aquifer – ultimately the river.

        1. LifelongLib

          Along the same lines so to speak, a plumber told me he sees a lot more clogged sewers since the “efficient” toilets came in, because the lines were sloped in the expectation of a certain volume of water. Doesn’t mean that saving water is bad but it’s not as simple as it appears.

    2. mle detroit

      I thought what makes Trump look orange is the shade he uses of Bronx Colors facial makeup, as mentioned in the story about the immigrant housekeepers he illegally employed.

      1. TimmyB

        California is the land of bullshit where trivial half measures are seen as permanent fixes to serious problems. To conserve water, restaurants can’t serve a glass of water with a meal without a customer asking for one, but we have thousands of acres of flooded rice paddies in the middle of our deserts.

        To prevent plastic bags from polluting our oceans, free bags, including paper bags, cannot be provided at grocery stores. Instead, we are charged 10 cents for supposedly “reusable” plastic bags made of thicker plastic than before.

        This is what passes for progress.

    3. The Historian

      Trump is concerned about how many times we flush?
      Shouldn’t he be more concerned about how much water is used to irrigate his golf courses?

    4. Danny

      Why are urinals not mandated in every new bathroom and remodel in the U.S.?
      The average male pees five times in 24 hours, more or less. Some women are able to use a urinal standing up, if limber.

      That’s a minimum of 8 gallons a day that could be substituted by a waterless urinal, or a minimal use one.

      The Obamas buying beachfront property in Martha’s Vineyard clearly shows they do not believe in climate change or sea level rise.
      Maybe they think they can flip it soon?

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Asian style squat pan toilets with sprayer hoses (aka “bum guns”) are infinitely more sanitary and water/porcelain/paper efficient than the Western version. And they simply never clog. They’re unfortunately vanishing in developed Asia.

        Obese and sedentary Westerners would probably find them impossible to use though, even with grab rails. There’s also the slip and fall (and sue) thing….

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Charge so much for municipal running water that people are price-tortured into installing waterless composting toilets. Use any money the municipal water authorities take in beyond what they use for all the different water-handling things they use it for . . . to install waterless composting toilets in any home whose homedwellers can not afford to install their own.

      And do the same for businesses and etc

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Turley: Democrats offering passion over proof in Trump impeachment”

    So I was watching Turley give his testimony in a video when to my surprise and delight he started to talk about the devil’s speech from “A Man For All Seasons”. It was then that I realized that he got it, he really got it. For those unfamiliar with the devil’s speech, here is a link for it-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDBiLT3LASk

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      eating dinner at mom’s when turley and those other 3 were all over msdnc.
      wife notices him, says:” i didn’t know he was a republican…remember when he was always on Rachel Maddow, during the bush years?”
      i’ve always regarded him as someone worth listening to, when it comes to constitutional matters…and never as all that partisan.
      wife didn’t know he was a repub because he always makes sense so calmly,lol.
      that his home and office are littered with threats from “liberals” and “progressives” is stunning.

      1. kiwi

        It is not stunning at all that Turley would be attacked by liberals/progressives. He said something in favor of Trump.

  7. Darius

    I was in Las Vegas recently for a convention and the other delegates all wanted to take Ubers. Vegas cabs are plentiful and cheap. I was able to convince others to join me in a cab on two occasions. They were surprised.

  8. GramSci

    Wowsers, as Yves would say. Not only is BC correct to call out Pelosi’s having cited her membership on the Intelligence Committee as authority knowing that Iraq didn’t have WMDs, — but how about the linked CNN story totally suppressing that admission!?!??

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My view for a long time has been that Pelosi is simply open to war crimes prosecutions as a member of the gang of 8. Cheney made sure the Democratic Party leadership was in on everything such as torture. Lies about WMDs is a bit of a shock, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Shrub and Cheney told her at this point.

      1. Off The Street

        Balance-of-Terror seems to be the chosen method of politics these days, with others discarded. Dirty up your opponent to coerce cooperation, what could go wrong? Without the Freedom of Information Act, how much more would escape notice of the public? Some consolation with term limits but not enough.

      1. inode_buddha

        “Pelosi needs to lose her primary.”

        I would go a bit further and say she needs to be in jail, in the Hague. Along with a few others.

    2. John k

      I feel like Alice in wonderland… elites of both parties support endless wars because donors. More war can’t be impeachable because it’s a prime objective, second only to suppressing progressives.
      Impeachable then becomes having sex with intern, or investigating elite corruption.
      An elite I used to listen to, Zakaria, said trump finally became presidential when he bombed a Syrian airport… that was the last time I listened to him. Now just a few blogs like NC.

  9. Samuel Conner

    Adorable bonus-video, but a sibling who is a small-animal vet tells me that it is unwise to use one’s hand as a kitten’s play-toy. The cat may grow up to be a biter.

    1. HotFlash

      The trick is to not only understand cat language, but to speak it. If a new kitten or cat gets too rough when playing, I howl, look reproachful, and then leave in an exaggerated huff. Sometimes I’ll even lick my paw, er, hand. After a couple of times they pretty well get the idea, and if they do forget, they are very apologetic when I howl.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Pensacola shooter’s alleged manifesto slams ‘crimes against Muslims’ & US policies abroad – report”

    ‘Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud sent condolences after the shooting, explaining that “the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter,” adding that his country “[loves] the American people,”’

    Yeah, about that. Some people may recognize the name John Kiriakou, the CIA whistleblower. In his early days he went to serve in Saudi Arabia with the CIA and he has an interesting anecdote about how Americans are regarded by the Saudis. Go to the link below and forward it to the 6:30 mark (some language)-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es2hDUTNsfg

    1. Wukchumni

      Authorities want to call the latest mass murder via hand cannon a ‘terrorist attack’, makes you wonder why all the others weren’t?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Under the guise of “keeping us safe,” 17 “intelligence” agencies search the phones and laptops of americans, outsource actual investigation to militant “private” companies like crowdstrike, question wheelchair-bound grandmothers with colostomy bags, alert on infants with poopy diapers, monitor the telephone calls of elected representatives like Devin Nunes, construct elaborate justifications for surveilling Naval Academy graduates like Carter Page and smearing high-ranking military veterans and their families like Michael Flynn and his son or journalists like John Solomon, and yet are unaware of a “manifesto” published by a saudi who is being “trained” on an american military base where he has access to firearms.

      Not to mention hatching a coup against a democratically elected president they don’t like while carrying on extramarital affairs in tens of thousands of texts on government time. And that’s just in the last three years.

      If there has been a more twisted, venal or deliberately “incompetent” group of “public servants” ever assembled, I’m sure I don’t know what it would be.

    3. Craig H.

      There is nothing new in that video but I agree if you go forward to start at 7:24 it is pretty good. For a minute.

      Jimmy Dore is the best thing on the tubes. Gag. It might actually be good is somebody could write a program to present this material with looney tunes characters and voices. Bugs Bunny could do the Dore part and Elmer Fudd could be Kiriakou.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Got something substantive to say?

        “Nothing new” means what? That bits of the sewage have previously escaped the septic tank, so “everybody knows” and presumably are all ok with the corruption and imperial dissembling and disassembling?

        Let’s see if we can minimize and alien-ize Dore and Kiriacou by jocular comparison. Kind of like that inspiration to turn Cubans against Castro by poisoning him with a chemical that would make his beard fall out?
        https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fidel-castros-death/fidel-castro-cia-s-7-most-bizarre-assassination-attempts-n688951, chronicling the many times and ways the CIA tried to kill or dispose of Castro.

        1. Craig H.

          Kiriacou is (at least) a former spy, i.e. professional liar.

          His story about the embassy guard?

          1. it is a very good story;
          2. I estimate probability at 50-50 it’s bullshit he made up in one of his regular intervals of doing that.

          Jimmy Dore is a professional comedian. He does a fine show if you like that. I prefer Looney Tunes myself.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Dore calls himself a jag-off night club comedian but says that he is doing political commentary because nearly all the main stream media journalists are refusing to do their job. Worse, they are doing the job of big power such as when they tilt Presidential elections by refusing to cover people like Sanders, Gabbard and Yang.
            And I like the original Looney Tunes myself and if you look closely, you can find a few hidden adult jokes.

            1. JBird4049

              Worse yet, many of those reporters believe that it is their job to tilt the news for the powerful; it is like how police officers who are supposed to be servants of the public see their job as prison guards in charge of the public prisoners, and particularly brutal ones at that. The label no longer matches what is in the tin no matter how loud they proclaim otherwise.

            2. Bugs Bunny

              The original Looney Tunes are great, doc. And you’re gonna occasionally see a copy of The Nation sitting around, or maybe a glowing reference to some unions and working class people. Look closely. And listen.

              Jimmy Dore is funny and astute but too much swearing. There’s too much swearing everywhere these days.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            Was Kiriacou a spy? Or an analyst? It is two different things.

            You estimate that there is a 50-50 bullshit probabliity on his embassy guard story being truthful? Based on ” his regular intervals of doing that” ( i.e. making up bullshit)?

            How many regular intervals of Kiriacou making up bullshit can you document? How many items of bullshit can you document Kiriacou making up per documented bullshit making-up session? What were the particular made-up bullshit items, in detail?

            If you ignore me, that’s fine. If you decide to reply with an insult, alert readers may well wonder whether you would use an insult if you had an answer. So you might consider giving some due consideration to what you say . . . if you decide to say something.

  11. Frank Little

    Re: the deep ocean

    That really was cool. The air recycling systems for the trip to the Challenger Deep were used and expanded upon by Piccard’s son Don. Like his father Don was an accomplished balloonist who did lots of work on early flights to the stratosphere. Much of this work was done at General Mills of all places, which had a very active aeronautics division that worked on contracts for the US military.

    1. Wukchumni

      It was way cool…

      Being allergic to seafood, never has a morsel passed my lips, and i’m familiar with Orange Roughy, but had no idea they dwell so very deep @ 3,500 feet. How do you catch them?

    2. The Rev Kev

      That was a great page that. And you knew that there must be whole ecosystems on each level that we know nothing about. The pity is that we know far more about what is on the moon and the other planets than we know what is at the bottom of our oceans. Back in the 60s there was an effort to start exploring the shallower depths with projects like Sealab and people like astronaut Scott Carpenter were part of the first wave of explorers. And everybody was following the French explorer Jacques Cousteau at the time. Now nobody seems to even talk about it unless it becomes some billionaire’s vanity project.

      https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/sealab-project/4806540

      1. Craig H.

        Reading about the adventures of the no-longer-seaworthy Calypso is kind of entertaining.

        https://www.cousteau.org/news/at-the-heart-of-calypso-part-1/

        When the Calypso was on the tv shows in the good old days, Big Deep Sea Exploration did not exist but that was a long time ago. The most interesting story I have seen in the last couple years was the search for the missing Malaysian jet in the Indian Ocean. The most recent google search shows the latest from late 2018.

        The Ocean Infinity ship might be big enough to pick up the Calypso with its crane and set it down on the back deck and haul it to the scrap yard.

        https://gcaptain.com/u-s-firm-ocean-infinity-says-its-hopeful-of-getting-mh370-search-contract-soon/

      2. JTMcPhee

        Not to worry— I’m sure scientists will be allowed to tag along, now that the extractor professionals have started to get serious about Strip mining the oceans’ deepest bits. https://m.phys.org/news/2019-09-bottom-deep-sea-sustainable.html

        Nations are lining up to lay “legal” claim to the stuff that can be scooped or dug or grabbed to be turned into “wealth.” Nothing wrong with that set of notions, nothing at all…

    3. Susan the Other

      It was way interesting. I’m wondering how octopi can live so deep, they seem so soft and mushy. Guess not.

      1. Mel

        My guess is that they’re made of water, just like the water outside, so they don’t have to care. Trying to maintain hollow spaces inside would be the killer.

  12. a different chris

    >”This verdict sends a signal, and one signal only – that you can make any accusation you want to, as vile as it may be and as untrue as it may be, and somebody can get away with it,”

    “This verdict sends a signal, and one signal only – that if you are rich you can make any accusation you want to, as vile as it may be and as untrue as it may be, and you can get away with it,”

    Fixed it for them. This is ridiculous. I can call you an a-hole, I can call you stupid, I can insult you a lot of ways. But I can’t call you a pedophile, that’s an accusation of criminal activity. Way past the line. And I don’t care what “in your country” it does or doesn’t mean.

    If you’re rich and famous, get a jury in California I guess.

    1. xkeyscored

      And I don’t care what “in your country” it does or doesn’t mean.
      I think I heard Musk say it was a common insult in South Africa. I asked two South Africans I work with, and they both said that was BS.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if someone started a twitter hashtag called #PedoGuyMusk and see if it trended? If thousands or millions of people used the phrase PedoGuyMusk all over the digital media, he can’t sue them all. And if he tried, the targets could claim that court in California legalized the ” just-an-insult” defense . . . sort of a “Twinkie defense” for our age.

  13. Tom Stone

    Yves, I do wonder if only 9% of rape victims are men.
    Does this figure include the rapes of men who are incarcerated?
    And although I believe there’s a pretty good estimate of the percentage of rapes that go unreported by women, do men report rape with the same frequency?

    I survived a violent and unsuccessful rape attempt at the age of 17 and never reported it, it never crossed my mind to call the police.
    I ended up with a broken collar bone, a mild concussion and a number of scrapes and bruises.
    I got lucky.

    Any rape is a violent assault.
    There is an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury in every case, the use of lethal force to resist a rapist is both legally and morally justified.

  14. Wukchumni

    I’d like to think that the duct tape was Da Vinci’s invention and quite valuable on account of the age & association-rendering it worth approx $119,999.81, with the banana playing second fiddle @ 19 Cents, although I admit my valuation is open to scrutiny.

    1. chuck roast

      I’m reminded of the Velvet Underground “banana” album. Worth a few bucks with the banana intact.

    2. Geo

      By the time I was 18 I’d had numerous gallery exhibits and one piece in the Portland Art Museum for an “emerging artists” exhibit. Then, I went to art school for a year and the day I dropped out I threw my portfolio in the first dumpster I found and never looked back.

      There were many reasons for by still lingering distain for the “art world” but the primary one is that it’s incestuous and elitist ways make it completely irrelevant to the world outside of small circles of the over-privileged. Arguably, the only artist to transcend this decades long “Post-Relevancy” era is Banksy who often tackles important issues in public places where his work has been accessible to regular people both physically and intellectually. That said, the fine arts as it exists today is nothing more than an industry which exists solely for rich people to one-up each other while laundering money for their ill-gotten gains.

      My current work in the movie industry, with all its massive issues as a cultural force and a business, is still much more rewarding as an artist. Regular people still watch movies and they have an impact on the social narrative that the fine arts hasn’t had in generations. The only social impact art like the duct taped banana has is disgust.

      All arts can have value and “fine arts” can be wonderful forms of personal expression for all (plus, it’s much cheaper for one to put paint on a canvas than to make a feature film so it’s much more accessible for the poor) but the art industry should be burned to the ground if fine arts ever hope to have any larger cultural value again.

      1. Tom Stone

        Geo, your remarks on the “Fine Art” market are spot on..
        And if you want Ego and one upmanship you should really take a look at the antiquities market, it even has the benefit of widespread fraud.
        Lots of fakes.
        The fine wine market is perhaps the most enjoyable, not only lots of fakes but the snobbery is sublime.
        It’s a wonderful world.

      2. inode_buddha

        Maybe you should have majored in classical art, as I did. Beginning in the 14th century and working your way up to the French Academie of 1889. A real art education will work you very hard.

        By the way, I think the banana piece is a wonderful commentary on the postmodern zeitgeist. A piece is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it, and that may say more about the buyer than it does about the seller.

        1. witters

          By the way, I think the banana piece is a wonderful commentary on the postmodern zeitgeist.

          I want aesthetic objects, not Tom Friedman.

          1. inode_buddha

            I want aesthetic objects, not Tom Friedman.

            Yes, but then who gets to define “aesthetic”?

    3. DJG

      Wukchumni: Duck tape is a major cultural signifier here in the Midwest, so let’s not make light of it. And, yes, we all consider ourselves cultural heirs of Leonardo here.

    4. Synoia

      I wonder about the banana’s shelf life in relation to future value. I’ve never see a 300 year old banana.

      If one replaces the Banana, with a new Banana, is the art piece still an original?

      1. ambrit

        Then it would be one of a series, as in; Banana #1, Banana #2, etc.
        Now, if that was a GMO banana……it could last forever.
        The artist and cartoonist Gahan Wilson once did a comic concerning the discovery of some ruins of Atlantis, tucked away beneath the hills of the Channel Islands off the California coast, suspiciously like today. The intrepid explorers encountered a fast food restaurant where the ‘food’ was so well preserved that it was still edible twenty-five thousand years later! (The wonders of science!)
        As to the duct tape banana, I will venture to guess that the receipt for it’s sale will be framed and displayed next to the ‘work’ in question.

    5. samhill

      Bet you a chess set carved from wine corks that Duchamp and Man Ray figured this stuff would last 20 minutes after they came up with it. Hundred years later…

  15. Quentin

    I’m literally gobsmacked by Pelosi’s unconscionable prattle about why she wouldn’t impeach George W. Bush. In her inimitably affected manner of chattering she would have me believe by omission that Bush’s deception was not evil. Right, Clinton’s indiscretion was frivolous, so what has that to do with the deeply immoral deception the Bush administration perpetrated leading to the deaths of so many people and material and social destruction in Iraq, not to dismiss the 4,000 (?) US soldiers that were killed there, and the huge amounts of US money squandered (‘fortune’) siphoned off by US and Iraqi persons and businesses). With pleasant bantering she tells us she KNEW for sure there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I don’t remember her saying that publicly at the time or am I mistaken? Her lack of contrition for the mayhem is appalling; all she can do is remind us it was horrible, as if she had no agency in the matter, bears no guilt. Hasn’t she any concept of the irreparable damage the US aggression on Iraq caused to the US itself? No she doesn’t. Instead she has the gall to spit in my face: gob is all she can serve up. Maybe this rant is too unhinged for the likes of NC. Whatever I will not for any Democratic presidential candidate who is not Bernie Sanders. The Democratic aristocracy needs to be crushed.

    1. inode_buddha

      Thank you for opening up. I have a few things to say about her, and the Dems in general, and none are appropriate for a family blog. Suffice it to say that I have a deep and abiding hatred for liars and hypocrites, and I openly advocate their destruction.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Indeed, I have a special loathing for the Democrat Party. I begrudgingly respect Republicans; At least they’re honest about their intentions, and they understand and use power to accomplish their aims, however degenerate.

        1. wilroncanada

          The only thing I would question, Jason Boxman, is the honesty about their intentions. They usually claim what they are doing is for God and country, when, just like the DNC, it is about “ME ME ME!

      2. kiwi

        Same here.

        Trump’s presidency has revealed how horrible the dems are in so many ways.

        I’ve never seen in my life so many people completely abandon what appeared to be their core beliefs – and all of the switcheroos seem driven by the mere presence of a Trump presidency.

        And while Nancy doesn’t care about the destruction and death caused by US policies, don’t you dare use the word “hate” and Nancy in the same sentence – that is when she becomes truly wrathful.

        1. inode_buddha

          “…don’t you dare use the word “hate” and Nancy in the same sentence – that is when she becomes truly wrathful.”

          And that doesn’t even pass the laugh test. She’s lucky I’m not in her constituency, because I would have made real trouble for her. As it is, I simply have zero respect for her. Again, deep and abiding hatred for liars and hypocrites. If that makes her uncomfortable then she needs to change.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      “The Democratic aristocracy needs to be crushed.”

      I will not vote third party if Biden or some other corporatist is the Democratic nominee.

      I will vote Republican. And I will vote Republican from the top line to the bottom. And I will continue to do so until there are viable third party options.

      If the Democratic Party pulls a repeat of ’16, that institution needs to come to an end.

      1. a different chris

        How does that even work? “I want a four-door convertible so I’m going to buy SUVs until they make one!!” You don’t want corporatists thus you are voting for… Republicans. Jesus.

        Buy a freaking 2dr convertible. Vote third party. Otherwise you ain’t sending no message to nobody.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          The brand will be so worthless if they pull the same stunts that it’s time to put the institution out of its misery, thereby eliminating at least one of the main obstacles to the appearance of a true alternative.

          Is it your contention that the Democrats could deny the popular will again, virtually guarantee the re-election of Trump, all while making alliance with the “intelligence community” to bring us more wars and a horrible impeachment precedent, that Democratic Party, comprises an institution worth giving another chance? At any level? After all, the “socialist” label is now winning some local elections. Let’s move on to the 21st century.

          1. a different chris

            No,

            My contention is that if you vote for Repubs you will get Repubs. And it sure won’t make the Democrats move anywhere else but towards the Repubs. Because if you vote for an R the Democrats, who have literally told you this (remember “for every whatever we lose we will get two suburban Republicans?) that’s what they will do.

            You can try to make the brand worthless by voting Libertarian. By voting Green. Getting your friends to do likewise. What you can’t do is get guns outlawed by shooting yourself in the foot. You will just lose *your* gun.

      2. John

        Well then, you must want a Republican.

        Because no matter what the Democrats do, I would never, ever, ever vote for a Republican.

        I vote 3rd party.

        1. kiwi

          It is too bad that dems are driving their own from their party.

          I won’t ever vote for a dem again, and I’ve spent the entirety of my voting life (40 years) voting for dems. I’ll vote repub until the likes of Nancy are gone.

          Not only did the dems abandon their constituents, leaving a huge hole for the repubs to fill, they are a threat to the Constitution and all of our cherished legal notions/rights, like innocent until proven guilty, due process, freedom of speech, three branches of government, and so on.

          They attack the Consitution because it was written by white guys. They care nothing about the protections and rights it granted and how unique it was and still remains.

          (oh, I may vote for Bernie – but that would be it)

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            Good thing the dems have made it perfectly clear that Bernie is NOT a democrat. But then anyone whose been paying attention already knew that.

      3. Geo

        While I agree with your sentiment your reaction is confusing. That’s like saying you’re boycotting walmart by only shopping at Amazon. Either way your supporting a terrible entity.

      4. Katniss Everdeen

        I’m with Henry Moon Pie.

        It’s not like the democrats have given anyone a reason to want them back in power. And the idea that a third party vote sends some sort of a message is bunk–no one’s listening.

        There are worse things than voting republican, and one of those things is keeping the likes of pelosi in a position to do any more damage than she and the rest of her ilk have already done.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          ” And the idea that a third party vote sends some sort of a message is bunk–no one’s listening.”

          No. They’re too busy telling us. “Same as voting for a Republican,” they say when you vote for Stein. Then I guess it can’t do any harm to do the full Repub. Top to bottom. All those lovely Congressfolk like mine who lied about Bernie in ’16. All those fine D mayors who helped DHS break up Occupy. All those noble Dems like Wasserman Schultz who protect right-wing Rs in her own state.

          I don’t have an AOC or even a Jayapal to vote for. Machine pols. Geriatric sellouts. Clintonite retreads.

          I won’t miss any of them.

          1. Daryl

            I live in Texas. I don’t even have generic corporate drone Democrats to vote for, because winning control of state governments isn’t one of the things Democrats are interested in.

      5. Massinissa

        “And I will continue to do so until there are viable third party options.”

        There won’t be ‘viable third party options’ until people like you start voting for third parties instead of complaining constantly about them being unviable.

      6. dcblogger

        mebbe just arrange for Bernie to be the nominee and this whole conversation becomes academic
        https://map.berniesanders.com/

        also make sure the pro-Medicare for All Democrats win their primaries down ballot and we do not have to worry about this.

      7. John k

        You can always write in Bernie, which I did in 2016. And that will forever be an option when nothing appeals.

      8. Tom Bradford

        “I will vote Republican. And I will vote Republican from the top line to the bottom. And I will continue to do so until there are viable third party options.”

        So you’ll get a second term of Trump, and deserve what you get.

        I’m so glad I’m not American.

        1. inode_buddha

          We are routinely offered the choice of a cat s#it sandwich, or a dog s#it sandwich in our elections. The media usually devolves into arguing about which flavor of sauce will be best on said sandwich.

          Once a given sandwich is elected, the Establishment does everything possible to consolidate its grip on Power via the economy, and all manner of underhanded tactics and propaganda.

          And that is why the US Gov’t behaves in a way that is contrary to the will of the actual people, for 50 years or more.

    3. D. Fuller

      4,000 (?) US soldiers that were killed there

      One could argue that 4,000 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. However, knowingly sending soldiers to their deaths based on lies consitituting war crimes… knowingly engaging in a criminal conspiracy (war crimes) resulting in the deaths of people…

      Sounds more like pre-meditated murder. Add in all the dead Iraqis and we have genocide.For profit, of course.

      It is one thing to defend your country when attacked. It is another to be sent to your death based on a criminal conspiracy where the conspirators KNOW beyond doubt that people will die because of their lies.

      The former is self-defense. The latter is pre-meditated murder.

    4. smoker

      One of the things so enraging to me about Pelosi (and all the other Dems), regarding that obsession with Russia, as the US witnesses an explosion of Suicides, Despair, and Homelessness – none of it caused by Russia – is the childhood school memory of being told how Russian citizens repeatedly went without, in line for countless hours waiting for access to basic services and necessities.

      Meanwhile Nancy’s Adopted State, California, and The Federal Government have turned California and the US at large into an insidious, far, far worse version than Russia’s long physical lines of needy citizens. Now, instead of hours, many either wait for days for necessities or basic services, sometimes weeks or months, or go without. Many on MediCal [CA’s Medicaid], can’t find a doctor for the life of them when needed, many with insurance can’t afford to be treated, and millions are still uninsured. These invisible ‘lines’ of desperately waiting humans alone and hidden out of sight with the aid of a Fascist Technocracy the Government supported (with the Internet Sales Tax Moratorium of the late nineties for one example) and subsidized with our money. That Fascist Technocracy hides that misery from public view of long physical lines of humans via forcing everything online (despite the fact that millions still have no reliable internet access), shutting down Brick and Mortar a Libraries, State Employment Offices and Federal Offices, such as Social Security and US Post Offices, and allowing Horrid Amazon to disembowel age old brick and mortar businesses.

      Eff you Pelosi, et al. you’re even more amoral and immoral than Trump, which is quite a sickening feat to witness. You’ve destroyed countless lives of your own citizens, many will never recover from the devastation, or the sheer trauma of the stunningly duplicitous betrayal and violation.

    5. mpalomar

      I agree with all you say except I believe the ever more bizarre Pelosi’s bizarre mini rant specified nukes, she said she knew they didn’t have nukes.
      As I recall that abysmal time the weapons inspectors were looking for chemical weapons though there was also talk of aluminum tubes used as centrifuges.
      What always struck me as obvious to anybody with a modicum of sense (admittedly, as it ever was, there was at the time a dearth of good sense) and should have been clear to intelligence committee member Pelosi was that Iraq was prone and defenseless and above all it was not suicidal. Any threatening move by Iraq would have resulted in complete and instant anhilation.

    6. cnchal

      > I’m literally gobsmacked by Pelosi’s unconscionable prattle . . .

      Me too! The bernays sauce got severely burnt and the stench won’t go away.

      For a few brief seconds of inadverdent honesty, we witnessed the political calculation of what is objectionable in a President and what is acceptable. Using blatant lies to justify war is acceptable.

      Was no one in the room embarrased for Nancy? I cringed, just listening to the “prattle”.

      I have noticed what might be a pattern with the so called Dem leadership, although there have been only two instances in quick succession.

      Nancy got angry and took a strip out of a reporter when asked if she hated Putin. Joe got angry (my reading of the timing and body language was that it was calculated) at a voter for getting called on his son’s grifting at Burisma. My limited understanding is that these responses are a way to intimidate people and shut off these type of questions by either reporters (or at least the ones that are not venal stenographers) or the average voter.

      It would not surprise me to see the “angry democrat” tactic increase in frequency as time goes on.

        1. tegnost

          I think cnchal has a point, it’s like in sports when you respond to an incitement someone else did and get the flag thrown on you. It’s actually a pretty effective tactic for abusive people, puts one on their back foot, so to speak. the best way to deal with anger is let it flow past you. It sounds totally silly, i know, but imagine yourself surrounded by white light, and when the anger wave goes by, respond with calm rationality and you will frustrate the attack, and as a bonus, the attacker.

      1. polecat

        The Big-D precog’s (nancy, adam, and nadler) projection-force generators are in need of some urgent recalibration .. downward !

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Biden Says He Would Consider Giving Ambassadorships to Donors”

    Why is this even a topic? This has been going on a very long time and Obama was offering ambassadorships to political “bundlers” like Noah Mamet, hotelier George Tsunis and Colleen Bell back in 2013, in spite of the fact that none of them knew anything about the countries that they were being nominated for.
    That last one I happen to know as a director at the time for the TV series “The Bold & The Beautiful” (no, not me – my wife). And this is the reason why countries like Russia, who have a professional diplomatic service, do better at their work. Here are details about Colleen Bell’s Ambassadorship-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colleen_Bell#Ambassadorship

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Yes, but pretending everything is on the up and up or is a meritocracy is important to the neoliberals myth, the ones they tell themselves and well meaning rubes. Biden is similar to Trump in that both simply remove the mask.

      To a certain extent, Buttigieg is very much Obama, not as personable, but the mayor of Wasilla doesn’t have Hillary as an opponent or nominal opposition to the Iraq War to deflect. The stuff about gentrification, supporting Joe Lieberman, doting on Ronnie Raygun, and the major financial support from the spouses of people Obama refused to take money from was out there. Obama could put up a façade. Without it, Team Blue runs into problems.

    2. marym

      “With small appropriations from Congress, overseas service could not be sustained based on salary alone. Diplomatic and consular service appointments fell on those with the financial means to sustain their work abroad. That and a government-wide practice of political appointments based on nomination, rather than merit, led to careers for those with relations and wealth, rather than skill and knowledge.”

      The Rogers Act of 1924 established the Foreign Service, with a personnel system for assigning diplomats and support personnel, exams for new hires, merit-based promotion and a mandatory retirement age.
      Link

      “Since 1975, the number of top leadership positions at the State Department, defined as deputy secretaries, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, has increased from 18 to 33. The share filled by career Foreign Service officers has fallen from 61 percent in 1975 to 24 percent in 2012. Only five of the 35 special envoys, representatives, advisers and coordinators appointed during President Obama’s first term were Foreign Service officers.”
      Link (2013)

      “In the last sixty years, [author of American Ambassadors: The Past Present and Future of America’s Diplomats by Dennis C.] Jett notes, “professionalism hit its limit,” at least in terms of ambassadors. His numbers and charts tell the story. While a general 70:30 ratio of career to political appointees has prevailed overall since 1960, it is also clear that Democratic incumbents have some of the highest ratios (39 and 40 percent for Kennedy and Johnson) of political appointees nominated.”
      Link (2015)

      The task of diplomacy probably requires some mix of political appointees and career professionals. The real problems are big-donor politics and bad foreign policy at the top.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that the system is breaking down now though. Australia was without a US ambassador for about two years and we are not the only country that has this problem. From what I hear about the US ambassador in Germany though, I think that the Germans wished that they had this “problem”.

        1. marym

          The system “working” depends on a broad elite consensus that spans parties and administrations. Then,give or take an occasional crisis or re-shuffling, it works to support that consensus (or maybe more accurately, works to support elite interests).

          Trump, in whatever proportions, doesn’t agree with the consensus policy, have much in the way of alternative policy, appoint capable people, or care enough to make the system work differently. So you just have people who work within the system going along familiar paths, and Trump making phone calls with his own (arguably personal, not national) agenda.

          1. Kiwi

            Trump trying to get Europe to provide more financial support for Nato is not his personal interest.

            Trump trying to re-balance trade is not his personal interest.

            Trump trying to get countries to abandon nuclear weapons is not his personal interest.

            Trump trying to bring some troops home is not his personal interest.

            1. marym

              The personal phone call reference was mostly about the “get dirt on Biden and Clinton” call, but how other foreign policy issues relate to his or his family’s personal financial interests isn’t transparent.

              As far as other policies, those issues are more in line with rest of the comment. Just saying he wants stuff to happen isn’t the same has having coherent policies, implementation plans, and capable appointees.

              He exited the Iran agreement without an alternative, and on NK there’s this today (Link). On NATO spending there’s this (Link). He isn’t “trying” to bring troops home, he’s sending troops to Saudi Arabia and using them to “take the oil” (whatever that means) in Syria. Huge bailouts to agribusiness may not be a leading indicator of a brilliant trade policy (Link).

    3. D. Fuller

      Ambassadors are social wall flowers, unless the ambassador is a career State Department official. What happens on Ambassador Row in world capitols – if people knew – would be quite scandalous. For those in the know, parties featuring wife-swapping and drugs, are not unknown. Or that sending a bisexual male ambassador to Saudi Arabia is actually smart politics.

      The people who do much of the work, acting as social coordinator and arranging meetings and negotiating? Are usually the vice-consuls and others. With ambassadors who are political appointees merely being rubber-stamps for the decisions either coming from D.C. or being made at levels below them from within their own embassy.

      As for Sondland? He was a social wallflower pretending he was making the decisions. Not even close. Sondland was simply a mouthpiece for those who made the real decisions. Maybe he was lucky enough to have some of his positions considered in the greater scheme of things.. unlikely though.

  17. Hamford

    Yves, Thanks for your rebuttal of the Uber “innumeracy” argument. It amazes me that condescending people with slightly above average arithmetic skills think they are experts because they can perform division and multiplication without context.

    A sexual assault is a “Ruin” event as Taleb would call it- it ruins the victim’s lives. There is no acceptable amount of these ruin tail events. E.g., ONLY two 737 Max crashed from millions of flights.

    Similarly it is unjust to compare ruin event statistics on a absolute basis (e.g, well you only have a one in 467,000 chance of getting sexually assaulted when you take an uber).

    Thank you for doing the research and comparing Uber’s record in contrast with the NYC taxi industry.

    1. T

      There’s also the ongoing problem with “most experts in the US estimate that the victim knows her rapist 80% to 90% of the time.” In a lot of – probably most – reporting, an Uber driver would be someone the victim “knew.”

      Statistics on sexual assault and murder of women are generally weak – factor in the thousands of women who are simply missing, for instance.

      Uber’s is a silly business. Imagine if a restaurant said, sure, a couple of people died of food poisoning, but we can’t be responsible if a line cook is stored the sauce in the sun, that’s on the cook.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Never having booked an Uber, my impression is you don’t know who your driver is. Uber knows.

        By contrast, in NYC cabs, the driver’s photo, name, and hack # are on a placard, which hangs on the back of the front seat, and lit.

      2. Robert McGregor

        “In a lot of – probably most – reporting, an Uber driver would be someone the victim “knew.”
        Statistics on sexual assault and murder of women are generally weak – factor in the thousands of women who are simply missing, for instance.”

        For those who have never taken an Uber or used the App, it is extremely easy to report a problem through the App. I have to believe that close to 100% of the sexual assaults are reported by the riders through the App–they are hoping to get compensation from Uber. The ease of reporting an assault through the App in no way compares to the relative difficulty in the outside world. There you have to . . .

        1) Dial 9/11
        2) Meet the police in person
        3) Try to gather yourself and report emotionally difficult details–What the Assaulter did his description
        4) You might have to go to court etc.

        That’s a lot of effort and time cost to get that assault “reported” compared to clicking a button in an App, and following up with some emails. Consequently I think the figure, 3045 sexual assaults per year in the US is a much more accurate figure than general police figures . . . unless Uber is deliberately under-reporting the number. Hmm.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Wowsers. You are alleging that women report false sexual assaults to shake down Uber? Seriously? When this is a “he said, she said” and she’s got nuthin unless she is organized enough to get DNA evidence or maybe has bruises she could not have inflicted on herself? Oh, and that requires third party verification….like going to a hospital, getting a rape kit done, or seeing the cops to get the DNA collected….so there goes your frictionless fantasy. Plus you also seem to forget that a lot of rape victims wind up in the ER anyhow.

          And for the more savvy, when Uber takes the position its drivers are contractors and it’s merely an electronic booking service?

          And why should Uber victims be more likely to report? Your posture screams privileged white male. Per Hubert Horan, half the local “car for hire” customers make < $40,000 a year. As he pointed out, they are overwhelmingly taking cars home late at night because there is no or way too infrequent public transportation. You seem to forget that these assaults could occur only if the person in the back seat was so soundly asleep that the driver could pull over with the passenger not noticing.

          Do you think lower socio-economic status women believe they’d be taken seriously by Uber for anything less than being hurt or raped (and there were four categories of abuse lower than rape). And did you consider that they’d be worried that Uber could downgrade them or kick them off the app…and they above all need to get rides home at night?

          The non-privileged women I know is pretty much without exception assume that men are low-grade predators and expect they’ll encounter creeps they will have to fend them off, and they need to be vigilant about not getting into situations where they can be abused. I see this recognition of the risk of abuse by men to be vastly less pronounced among upper middle class/upper class women. Consequently, many and perhaps most would also assume for the lesser categories of abuse (non-forced/forced kissing), complaints would be ignored.

          The National Crime Victimization survey, which does not identify perps, saw a big jump in reporting of sexual abuse after #MeToo. That is an indicator of how much women shrug abuse off.

          1. BlakeFelix

            I don’t think that he was saying that, I read him saying women might be more likely to report bad experiences to Uber than to the police because the process is much easier and less fraught. And NYPD has been known to discourage reporting(and to do a fair bit of sexual assaulting themselves). Reporting assault to Uber would be more like leaving a one star Amazon review than filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement, it seems credible to me that it would be more common. His comment about the women seeking compensation from Uber is on thin ice, but he might be right that people will complain to management and ask for their money back over lesser incidents than they will go to the police about. I don’t think women lying to extort Uber is a big problem, but comparing police reports on Uber drivers vs police reports on cabbies might be a better comparison than Uber complaints on Uber drivers vs police reports on cabbies.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Elon Musk wins defamation case over ‘pedo guy’ tweet about caver”

    In a statement in front of the court house, Vernon Unsworth stated to the press “Yeah, it’s a bit of a disappointment that. I guess the pedo guy won.”

    1. rowlf

      I guess I will have to change my hourly Google search phrase from “What is a Bank Run?” to “Are Teslas Pedo Guy Cars?” in hopes of achieving Rick Santorum level Google fame.

  19. Wukchumni

    I was soaking @ Saline hot springs 3 years ago with a Battle of the Bulge veteran and he was 92 @ the time, still spry. I asked him what the biggest change had been in his life, and he thought about it for 20 seconds, and told me “everything is easy now”.

    What i’ve noticed with WW2 vets (we had as many as 6 at my mom’s assisted living place-now down to 2) is that the ones that really saw the horrors of war never told you anything about it when they were say 50, but are quite keen for you to know what went down now. The oldest is 102 and was a commander of a battleship in the Pacific, and he’s not all there presently, but a few years ago he related to me, of kamikaze attacks on his ship and any other US ship in the vicinity. I knew all about it in general, but first hand accounts are very riveting.

  20. Chris

    Seems that Congress is close to passing 12 weeks paid parental leave for federal employees.

    Unfortunately in exchange for establishing a sixth (!) branch of the military in the Space Force. But nonetheless, hopefully this will lead to parental leave for all citizens.

    1. D. Fuller

      Well that is one way to help ensure loyalty from the bureaucracy. Well, that would be a knock-on effect.

      If that passes, and I hope it does, even Republicans in Congress – should they control Congress once again – would have a hard time revoking that law. Without pushback from the bureaucracy. I wouldn’t want to be the President that signed a revocation of parental leave for Federal employees.

      Reminds me of when the US military started integration in their ranks. Also, The GI Bill after WWII.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Has physics ever been deterministic?”

    Of course I am not a physicist but isn’t what they are describing actually chaos theory which has been out for decades?

    1. avoidhotdogs

      No I’m afraid this is dealing with statistical issues.
      Deterministic example: If A happens then probability of B happening = 100%

      Probabilistic example: If A happens then probability of B happening has mean of 95% with variance of (say) 1% and is described by a (say) normal distribution.

      In both cases A will probably lead to B being observed when you observe everything in “our” universe. But only in the first case does A lead to B in ALL universes. I had another comment on the subject but moderation ate it.

  22. TroyIA

    Recordings reveal that plants make ultrasonic squeals when stressed

    I guess I should buy some microphones for my garden. Maybe then I will have more luck with my cucumbers.

  23. Carolinian

    Just in defense of the state that once elected Nikki Haley I’m not sure when I last saw a Confederate flag waving in someone’s yard or stuck to a pickup truck. Typically you have to venture into out of the way rural areas (like the one where Dylan Roof lived) to spot the controversial object. The South really has moved from the Lost Cause, at least where I live.

    1. Massinissa

      I live in a rural area in between Atlanta and Athens, down in Georgia. My next door neighbor has the Confederate jack flying. Well, he also has free range chickens in the front, so maybe the problem is that I’m in a super rural area. (My neighbor on the other side has a large fenced enclosure for her horse)

      You probably won’t see in non-rural parts of Georgia, you DEFINITELY won’t see it in Atlanta or the suburbs around it, but its still around in rural areas.

  24. tegnost

    Can someone compute what level of income one would need to purchase an 11.75 million dollar house? I thought payback was supposed to be a (rhymes with ditch)?

    1. John k

      House is the payback, laundered thru book deals and speeches, partly for valuable services rendered, but more so as notice to future Oval Office residents.
      Protection from pitchforks can be useful.

  25. JeffC

    Re that VPN “vulnerability”… Do you need to worry?

    No. I wasted an hour yesterday going down that rabbit hole, looking over technical discussions of the issue, and there’s very little there there. Your router’s firewall keeps internet evildoers off your internal network, where your hypothetical attacker has to be to perform this particular evil. Normally the internal internet threat one worries about is malware on your laptop, but this attack is so wickedly complicated to pull off (and likely has so little payoff for the attacker) that automating it into malware is really unlikely. Here’s how the article posted above ends:

    “The attack is not trivial to execute so this would exclude scenarios of mass-exploitation until patches will be available. However, the vulnerability is ideal for targeted attacks, if the attacker has the expertise to carry it out.”

    Are you important enough to be targeted by an organization willing to expend serious resources to disrupt your world?

    And none of what I read convinced me that a solid VPN setup’s routine protections wouldn’t keep you protected from “hijacking” etc. I’m not a networking engineer (maybe a networking hobbyist), but I just didn’t see a reason to panic. Don’t ever pick a free VPN (you’re the product), do understand that most VPN reviews are paid for (research which firms refuse to pay), sloppy, and full of errors, and go for a short-term trial to get started.

  26. Carey

    ‘Lefty Lingo’:

    “..Propelled by digital technology that spreads rhetorical fads like herpes, this decade’s lengthy left-wing lexicon has impressively penetrated both mainstream media and everyday speech, while carrying ideological baggage so overstuffed that it wouldn’t fit in an airplane’s overhead compartment. The idiom is persistently negative. Many of the cringe-inducers I grew up with in the 1960s conveyed enthusiasm: “Way to be!,” “Outta sight!,” “Far out!,” and “Dig that!” Subsequent generations have also latched onto effusive expressions, such as “Awesome!” and “That’s sick!” But the glossary particular to today’s left is joylessly accusatory: “fat shaming,” “victim blaming,” or “rape culture” (which indicts not only men but pretty much everything). As we said in 1970, what a drag.

    Front and center in overused progressive vocabulary is, of course, “privilege.” From Lyndon Johnson onward, we’ve expressed concern for the “underprivileged.” Shining a spotlight instead on the “privileged” fosters resentment in people who feel shafted and an impotent guilt in people at whom the label is hurled. The word functions something like a rotten tomato without the mess. I myself have been decried in the Independent as “dripping with privilege,” while the writer Ariel Levy was portrayed in The New Republic as “swaddled in privilege.” This is a shape-shifting substance in which one can bathe or nestle..”

    https://harpers.org/archive/2019/12/lefty-lingo/

  27. John

    Sorry, link below.
    “Maybe the Trump admin should focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families ” -AOC

    1. Daryl

      I don’t get on Twitter much, but I take it all the Twitter tough guys in her replies are a consistent phenomenon. Would be funny to see them get wrecked in a one on one debate with her.

  28. Synoia

    Can a single-celled organism ‘change its mind’? New study says yes

    Silly question. /s

    We all knew that was true, we men do it all the time. Ask any woman.

    1. inode_buddha

      “Can a single-celled organism ‘change its mind’? New study says yes”

      Certainly, they even have a TV channel where you can observe this, called C-SPAN.

  29. Summer

    Re: Brexit

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/world/europe/brexit-england-scotland-wales.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
    “Splintered Isle: A Journey Through Brexit Britain
    As Britain heads for an election, a Times reporter spent two weeks driving from London to Glasgow. He found a country united only by its disunity.”

    Not much that people aren’t aware of….and goes through “Brexit” as a threat as the article details devastation that being in EU did nothing to stop. Really, the problems,, real and hypothetical with Brexit are well documented while it stills stares everyone in the face that all these years in the EU did NOTHING to stop the devastation documented. NADA, ZIP…All of this happened while Britain was in the EU and no matter how people’s rejection of the EU is spun, that fact just simply exists.
    ‘But, but, but, if they leave…”
    All of this happened while in the EU and being in the EU did nothing to stop it.
    “But, but, it will be worse…”
    All of this happened while in the EU and being in the EU did nothing to stop it.
    That is just the simple reason why the Brexiters are so hard set on Brexit. Simple. It really can’t be danced around for anybody talking about remain.
    But, of course, they are all supposed to wait while the EU allegedly will institue “Reforms.”
    The conditions did not happen like a an “oops”…

    1. New Wafer Army

      no surprise there, as driving from London to Glasgow you would have to pass through 2 different countries anyway: England and Scotland. The fiction of Great Britain will dissolve like the fiction of the British empire did.

    2. makedoanmend

      So the hypothesis (if I’m taking the gist correctly and if not, sorry) is that the EU didn’t step in and stop Labour Blairites and especially a decade of Tory Austerity from harming the UK population. That somehow being in the EU was supposed to usurp local parties and politics. It’s a bit like: I belonged to a church, so I blamed the church when an act of God smited [smoted?] me on the head; or something I prayed for didn’t materialise; or when something I prayed for did materialise and I didn’t like the results at all? (Or maybe I joined the wrong, untrue church? Or maybe I should have been a buccaneering hermit?)

      But isn’t the flame of Brexit ideology lit by the idea that England wants the EU to stop interfering in its domestic policies? Surely, the hypothesis flies in the face of an explicit Brexit accusation of EU interference in the UK? We can’t have it both ways. If anything, the hypothesis suggests that the UK has had full control of its own domestic policy and that the current conditions of the UK reflect this political reality. It’s local damage inflict by local political parties.

      And isn’t the genuine Brexit party (as the Tories now present themselves) about to be elected by a veritable landslide if current polls are correct? Does anyone really think that the Tories are going to change direction on austerity policy with regard to common folk? What are the common folk hoping will happen? That the UK will be able to muscle in on others countries’ markets and resources, and that some scraps will fall off the table for the rest of us mere plebs? Didn’t happen for common folk during the height of their empire. I don’t suspect the Tories are going to deliver either. Except for their only true constitituency – the rich. And the rich can live where ever the feck they like. Europe, indeed, and the World is their play ground. One big, off-shore tax haven.

  30. Carey

    Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that’s wrong with Democrats

    “..Joe’s new ad picking right up where Hillary left off and Kerry’s endorsement all just underscore the fact that none of these people have learned anything. They are all just planning to rerun 2016 with a new establishment candidate and a new set of outrageous behavior for them to clutch their pearls over. Only this time, Trump has the structural advantages of being the incumbent president plus an actual campaign organization and a Democratic party determined to wrap themselves around the tree of impeachment..”

    https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/473439-krystal-ball-new-biden-ad-is-everything-thats-wrong-with-democrats

    #paidtoLose (and stop Sanders)

    1. The Rev Kev

      More news on the fires in Oz. A team of 21 Canadian firefighters have landed and are now helping fight some of the fires devastating large tracts of Australia. I believe that American firefighters will be coming too-

      https://globalnews.ca/news/6258833/canadian-firefighters-arrive-australia/

      And here is a story about some of the Volunteer firefighters dealing with these-

      https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/08/the-volunteers-fighting-fires-theres-always-the-fear-youre-not-going-to-come-home

  31. Oregoncharles

    Yes, “The Deep Sea” is quite wonderful. I scrolled my way down, and by the time I finished felt a little as if I’d returned from the Challenger Deep. It’s astonishing to see how much is left when you run out of light. I was also astonished to see, in context, just how deep elephant seals, which look like motile blobs, can dive.

    Thank you – quite an experience.

  32. Cat Burglar

    I heard a wonderful example of Johnstone’s fake news by omission on the NPR show The Takeaway a couple days ago, : “The Double Standard In How The Media Covers 2020 Democratic Candidates.”

    The intent of the story was to consider the dwindling number of candidates of color, especially women of color, competing for the Democratic Party nomination following Harris’s withdrawal from the contest. But the editors and journalists had to make sure they didn’t mention the Wrong Woman Of Color, and do it without being accusable of racism and sexism! Listen to what a brilliant job they did — an exemplar of propagandistic journalism.

    Right off, they can run a substantively racist and sexist omission of the Candidate Of Color Who Must Not Be Mentioned by having the story reported by two women of color — Dodge Number One. They frame the idea that the number of candidates of color and who are women has dwindled, noting that all the candidates qualifying for the December debate are white. Further narrowing the focus is the quote from Cory Booker, who only mentions black people, but not women or non-black people of color.

    The real slip is when the story brings up the lack of fawning media coverage for candidates of color and lists the candidates — the omission tells you they knew exactly what they were doing! You just have to laugh through the discussion of double standards and the need for all reporters to “examine their assumptions” when reporting on female and non-white candidates. Wasn’t there a woman of color running for office that was accused of being an agent of influence for the Russians? What was her name? I guess our reporters and their editors — adults who are paid to know things like this! — must have forgot her name (though journalist Prakash’s nervous laughter makes you wonder).

    As grim as it is to see and hear it, it is awesome to watch the power of The Blob and the Dem elites as they pull the strings and exert every effort — in the media, the NGO’s, and everywhere they can — to keep a lid on the popular pressure building against empire and debt peonage. The problem is, when they out themselves so obviously, then you know where and what their defenses are, and you can begin countermeasures — kind of like when the NSA used to fly their surveillance planes in close enough to get an adversary to light up their air defense systems.

  33. Oregoncharles

    “Emmanuel Macron’s Plan to Take Control of Europe Moves On to Phase Two” – Maybe, if he can keep from being run out of town on a rail; or more precisely, if he can keep the demonstrators out of the Elysee – because that’s the next step.

    My jaw dropped when I read this article, because I had first read “The Geography of EU Discontent.” Take a look at their maps: France isn’t as purple as Italy or Austria, but there’s a lot more purple than green. French support for the EU is very shaky indeed – even as their president thinks he’s going to “take control of Europe.” He even has some good ideas – but nothing to stand on, as other leaders will probably remind him. And he’s the very essence of neo-liberal, which is precisely what’s wrong with the EU.

    Is Macron actually delusional? If so, he could be very dangerous; France is a nuclear power. Or he could be the end of the EU.

  34. Danny

    PG&E stock as partial payback for barbecued relatives?

    Sure! As long as we can use it to pay future utility payments to PG&E, at the same face value it has on the day we receive it.
    ————————————–
    Banana duct taped to a board:

    It occurs to me that a scale of B.S. could be created in our society.
    The Vertical axis, art dealers, explaining the relative value of an expensive piece of “art” would be definitely be somewhere near the top.
    Next would be religious fundamentalists explaining the The Old Testament land titles, fire and brimstone, Rapture, etc.
    Next, the reason for maintaining a Central Bank.
    Below that, the multiculturalism, diversity hucksters attempting to explain the benefits of their society altering schemes.
    Further down would be the real estate hucksters creating purple prose in favor of the houses they are selling. “Best desirable neighborhood”, “rare opportunity”, “great for entertaining”, “views”, etc.
    Little white lies below that, and finally at the bottom, the lies we tell to our self, since there is no absolute truth.

    To make it interesting, a horizontal axis could be added for the relative amount of money earned by each level of B.S.

  35. skippy

    Wheeeeee …

    Jeremy Corbyn Leaked NHS documents = Russia Russia Russia …. the Bernays nag is one tired old flogged horse these days … Chortle … DNC blue dog corporatists whipping it in the states and now the Tories in the U.K. ….

    Uni-purposed propaganda.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      One might well reply that no one has claimed the documents are fake because the documents are real and no one can claim otherwise.

      One might further note that Russia wouldn’t have to do this if the journalists would do their job by doing this themselves.

  36. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here, from the Reddit, is the tale of someone’s getting no help at all from local bussinesses for fixing something, and then getting easy simple help from Amazon.

    Some of the comments are in the same vein. Other comments talk about creative fixes people have done for things.

    If this is true-as-recounted, then these local businesses are driving people away from them with customer-hostile attitudes and approaches. Given the scale of the Amazon menace, they really can not afford to do that.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/unpopularopinion/comments/e7guvz/its_no_wonder_amazon_is_crushing_small_business/

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It deserves careful srutiny, to be sure. But if there are small or smallish businesses who behave this way, they might want to stop even in the absence of such scrutiny.

        On the other hand, such scrutiny should also include a way to study how many of these small or smallish businesses have been brain-picked by people pretending to want to buy something who then take the knowledge and go to Amazon with it.

  37. Noni

    فیلم…….Trump is hanging over every aspect of the Democratic presidential contest
    He may not be on the Democratic ballot, but the 2020 presidential candidate wielding the most influence over the party’s remarkably unsettled primary fight is President Donald Trump.
    As the race for the next occupant of the White House enters the final weeks of 2019, awash in a surprising degree of uncertainty, Democratic voters have Trump on their minds as much as the crowded field of contenders jockeying for the right to challenge him.
    From a distance, Trump is hanging over every aspect of the Democratic contest.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/07/politics/iowa-trump-democrats-2020-election/index.html

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      So various “progressives” and “moderates” in Iowa don’t want the nominee they themselves would like? They want the nominee that they think that other people think will “beat Trump”?

      Well, bless their heart.

      They think that if they can find a kinder gentler Clinton or a more sincerity-oozing Obama, that they can “beat Trump”? How about a Biden/Wuttipieg ticket? Or how about the perfect identy-hustle ticket . . . Biden/ Harris? Would that bring back all the Never Clinters or the No Mo’ Bamas or the bitter stay-at-homers?

      I hope the Warren/ Sanders/ Gabbard campaigns have a vision for how to counter the crackpot-pragmatism of Iowa Democrats with some mobilized ” We want what we want!” support in the states after Iowa ( and South Carolina).

    2. flora

      Um… if that’s an attempt at ginning up a bandwagon effect for Biden I’m not sure it will work. Wasn’t Hills supposed to be the one who was electable and would beat T ? (The 2016 Iowa primary machinations are another story.) Maybe T is hanging over every aspect of CNN’s reporting. ha.

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