Links 1/6/2020

The secret lives of fish-eating, beaver-ambushing wolves of Minnesota National Geographic

How a mid-20th-century hunting guide may fill the gaps on climate change in Maine WaPo. Citizen science!

Australia commits billions of dollars to wildfire recovery AP

‘Lithium fever’ grips Portugal as mining project raises temperature FT

Fed focuses on repo market exit strategy after avoiding year-end crunch Reuters

‘The Fed Is a Political Institution That Pretends Not to Be Political’ (interview) William Greider, FAIR. From Counterspin in 2007; still germane.

William Greider memorial service: January 12, 2020 2 pm at Friends Meeting of Washington (RJ). Map.


Trump says he’ll sanction Iraq if US troops forced to leave The Hill. Trump: “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.” So now we’re just talking price?

Against the Blitz Wolf — Russian Reinforcements for Iran’s Defence in War Against All John Helmer

Netanyahu, in apparent stumble, calls Israel ‘nuclear power’ Middle East Monitor

U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranian-Americans Returning From Canada NYT

* * *

Nuclear deal:

Iran vows to enrich uranium “without restrictions” Axios. A more measured response than much of the reporting would imply.

The Latest: Germany: Europe to respond soon on nuclear deal AP

Iran crisis: Germany, France, UK urge de-escalation Deutsche Welle

* * *


How Qassim Suleimani Wielded His Enormous Power in Iraq The Intercept. From their Iran trove.

Tracked, targeted, killed: Qassem Soleimani’s final hours Middle East Eye. Wait ’til they commercialize this technology!

Suleimani killing the latest in a long, grim line of US assassination efforts Guardian

* * *

Analysis and prediction:

The Suleimani Assassination and US Strategic Incoherence Richard N. Haas, Project Syndicate. President of the CFR.

Iran’s Cyber Attack on Billionaire Adelson Provides Lesson on Strategy Bloomberg

Where Will U.S.-Iran Tensions Play Out? An Interview with Iraq’s President The New Yorker

Harper: Iraq Parliament Action Starts a Longer Uncertain Process Sic Semper Tyrannis

There’s a silver lining in a potential US-Iran war Asia Times

* * *

Democrats in disarray:

Pelosi says House will introduce ‘War Power Resolution’ aimed to limit Trump’s Iran military action CNN. “Pelosi said the resolution would be led by Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who previously worked for the CIA and was an analyst for the Defense Department specializing in Shia militias.” I don’t know whether this is the War Powers Resolution introduced by Rep. Omar and Rep. Barbara Lee, or a second one.


How To Avoid Swallowing War Propaganda Current Affairs

Venezuela: Guaido Replaced as Parliament Head in Disputed Vote Venezuelanalysis


Boris Johnson summons ministers for crisis meeting as Iran threatens to kill British soldiers as ‘collateral damage’ in escalating standoff with Donald Trump over killing of Soleimani Daily Mail

EXCL Jeremy Corbyn allies plan major Labour shake-up before he quits as leader Politics Home


Beijing’s new top man in Hong Kong says he hopes city will return to the right track Hong Kong Free Press. In Mandarin, since Luo Huining doesn’t speak Cantonese.

In Hong Kong’s tranquil borderlands, two systems co-exist Reuters

China tech start-ups go bust in 2019 ‘capital winter’ FT

Taiwan mourns chief of general staff, 7 other service members killed in Blackhawk emergency landing Taiwan Today. Odd.

A look inside the factory around which the modern world turns The Economy

Vietnam in deals to buy Laos electricity from 2021 Reuters. They’ll need the power to run desalination plants if the Mekong River delta keeps sinking.


Nationalist mob goes on rampage at secular university in Delhi FT and ‘They wanted to teach a lesson in terror’: An account of Sunday night violence at JNU News Laundry. Ugly.

Ultranationalist Prelude The Baffler

Trump Transition

In a historic vote, the House authorizes a path to legal status for undocumented farm workers New Food Economy. But read the fine print.

Health Care

Drugmakers Hike 2020 Medicine Prices Despite Lawmakers’ Ire Bloomberg (dk).

State of Health in the EU Companion Report 2019 (PDF) European Commission. “In Germany self-employed individuals on a low-income risk to be uninsured due to unaffordability of State Health Insurance contributions or Private Health Insurance premiums. Some self-employed who could opt out from the statutory health insurance in Austria are uninsured. In Poland, people on some types of civil law contracts remain uninsured.” For use next time somebody tells you Germany has universal coverage despite not having single payer.



The FT has decided to embrace fiscal policy, but it needs to get its head around the politics of it as well Tax Research UK

The MMT backlash takes a new form FT Alphaville (Furzy Mouse). A pricey, self-published book. Smiley interrogating Toby in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: “‘Ever bought a fake picture?’ ‘I sold a couple once,’ said Toby with a flashy, nervous smile, but no one laughed.’ ‘The more you pay for it, the less inclined you are to doubt it. Silly, but there we are.'”

Class Warfare

Rural America Turning to Grocers, High-Fee ATMs as Banks Leave Yahoo News

Injecting the flu vaccine into a tumor gets the immune system to attack it Ars Technica (dk).

Helen Sharman: ‘Aliens exist and could be here on Earth’ BBC. The first British astronaut.

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Links on by .

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. New Wafer Army

    Re: German Health Insuarance

    I lived in Germany for 7 years. It is virtually impossible not to have health insuarance:

    Health Insurance for Self Employed and Those not Working
    Being uninsured is now illegal, this means health insurance for self employed and those not working, is required. German private health insurance providers are required by law to accept all applicants, whatever their pre-existing health conditions, and to apply a basic tariff (Basistarif) as of January 1, 2009. This can be a last resort for those who have serious medical conditions and are unable to register for statutory health insurance in Germany. The cost is capped by the government, but the monthly premium is €639 per month, per adult, and €250 per dependent child. Welfare support eligibility entitles you to a 50% discount, though.

    source: .

    I am not saying the system is perfect: far from it, but nobody goes bankrupt/untreated in Germany.

    1. is(de)

      If you look for numbers, officially, roughly 80 000 people in Germany, 0.1%, do not have health insurance. 15 years ago, the number of uninsured people reached more than 150 000, projected to be 300 000 in 200something, which was enough to tighten the rules and make it illegal to opt out of coverage. Since 2019, if you earn less than 1142€ / month, and you previously did not opt out of the basic “Gesetzliche Krankenkassen” system, you will have to pay 179€ for coverage per month – mind, this is a family policy, a spouse and children under 26 years can be included if they do not earn money themselves. It will buy the full package offered by the “Gesetzliche Krankenkassen”, semi-state health insurance companies, including basic dental, very basic glasses and hearing aids (better quality available with copays). There is a copay for most prescription drugs, but it is usually quite low, 10% of the actual cost, to a maximum of 10 Euro per package. If it is more than 2% of your net income or if a child needs it, there is no copay. If you fall into the local equivalent of food stamps, Hartz IV, they will also cover health insurance, but any monetary assets, including a self-owned house, will have to be used up first. If you are in arrear with your payments, they will have to offer you basic and emergency coverage and cannot throw you out, but they will try to get those monthly rates back with interest – this leads to the relatively few cases of medical debt that I know of in Germany.
      For those without health insurance, this includes most homeless people – they usually would have some coverage, at least due to Hartz IV, but they often cannot manage the paperwork. Other people include self-employed people who fell on hard times and ususally lost their coverage before the recent changes in rules that forbid health insurance companies to sever contracts on late payments. Another large number of people are illegal immigrants and legal EU migrants, often from Romania and Bulgaria. The former have no way to obtain coverage and the latter often do not have the knowledge or want to save money.
      Since there are not so many people without health insurance, the safety net for those is very patchy – many doctors simply do not offer services or do billing out of the insurance system.
      We have to do better – but I would not change the German system for the US one.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Netanyahu, in apparent stumble, calls Israel ‘nuclear power’ ”

    Netanyahu has been spending far too much time talking to Trump. He is learning to say the quiet things out loud.

        1. ambrit

          More likely lurking off of the coast of Iran. Now that would be scary. Israel nukes some Iranian targets and Russia obliterates the Plain of Jezreel. What Seal are we at right now?

          1. Monty

            Bizzaro-world style, it would be spun as them stopping an imminent attack, and be greeted with no response other than media applause.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        The only problem for the Israelis is that the F-35 has very poor combat range (at least without external tanks, which destroy its stealth characteristics). So they’d probably prefer F-15’s for carrying nukes. They also have the problem now that they’d probably have to go via Syria to hit Iran, with its increased Russian anti-stealth anti-aircraft systems.

        The submarine based system is probably of minimal use for attacking Iran, as they can only carry cruise missiles, which would have to overfly Lebanon/Syria/Turkey (assuming the subs don’t leave the Mediterranean), which along with Irans S-300 means they wouldn’t have a great chance of getting through. So you’d kind of wonder what the real target of those subs would be.

        The mainstay of Israel’s nuclear force is its Jericho ballistic missiles – Iran (or anyone else) really has no answer to these except a first strike.

        1. Watt4Bob

          Israel lives in a neighborhood where most deliveries can be carried out with a Toyota pick-up truck.

          There is no need for missiles, submarines or such, the basement of a bakery in Tehran or Baghdad is not only cheaper, but more reliable.

          The phone rings, the Baker answers and a young woman asks if they have lobster bisque for sale today…

          1. JBird4049

            Oh, heck the United States/NATO and IIRC the Soviets, had man portable nuclear bombs ready for the special forces in the form of large backpacks.

            1. Watt4Bob

              Yes they did, and I have it on good authority that some of the Russian ones went missing during the early collapse of the Soviet Union.

              They were under the control of Soviet special forces, some of which hadn’t been paid in over a year, and on whose bases, they were growing potatoes to feed themselves.

              I wonder how it feels to watch the troops under your command starving while you have in your possession a device worth millions of US dollars, that would fit in the trunk of even a small car?

              1. ambrit

                The problem with nukes of all sizes is that they have a “shelf life.” After a time, the device needs to be ‘refurbished,’ evidently a very technical and dangerous procedure. So, use them or lose them. (Now that’s a truly scary thought.)

                1. JBird4049

                  True, but the value of the Soviet ones was probably as something to reverse engineer. After all most any country or some determined individual can find out how to make a van or cargo container sized bomb, but getting the fuel or in this case a more practical, fun sized, mobile agony and death dispenser is a problem.

                  1. Oregoncharles

                    That would mean disassembling it, also very dangerous without some high-tech gear.

                    Unless you have people willing to die of radiation poisoning.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            One wonders whether Russia, China, North Korea, etc. don’t already have atom bombs shipped in under cover of Free Trade and hidden all over America in just that manner.

        2. Polar Socialist

          I’ve been led to know, by experts, that Hezbollah in Lebanon apparently has enough missiles (+130,000) to overcome the ‘mighty’ Iron Dome and liberate big parts of Israel the same way Raqqa was liberated…

        3. xkeyscored

          Do we know how effective Russian systems are at detecting ‘stealth’ aircraft and weapons? I’ve read claims and counter-claims, and I’m still not sure, though on balance it looks as though they probably are.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Detecting ‘stealth’ aircraft is rather easy, depending on the angle to the aircraft. The problem is that it’s very difficult to locate them accurately enough for fire-control, until they are within firing range themselves.
            They kinda have advantage over air-defense in that sense, since most long range missiles are controlled by ground stations.
            My understanding is that the latest generations of missiles are self-guiding, active-seeking in the last phase, so they can be launched with only approximate knowledge of the target location, which negates the advantage to some effect.
            As for fighters, there’s currently no way for fighter borne radar to be efficient enough to find ‘stealth’ fighters directly in front of them until 30-40 km away. Unless the stealth fighter is using it’s own radar, or opens it’s weapons bay, or has any external payload, or has flown trough rain, or has been too long in the sun.

          2. David

            As far as I know there’s no such thing as a “stealth” aircraft. The original term was “low observable”, and that reminds us that “stealth” is a whole collection of technologies intended to make it more difficult to detect the aircraft: it’s not an either/or situation. It depends on all sorts of factors from weather to configuration, so the only real answer must be “it depends.”

          3. Plenue

            ‘Stealth’ aircraft can be easily seen on low frequency radar. Even WW2-ra radar would be able to see an F-22 or F-35. However low frequency radar can’t give a good enough signal to actually target. So you can know a stealth plane is hanging around, but you can’t kill it. You need high frequency radar to target a plane, and that’s what stealth technology is designed to counter

            Or at least that’s the received wisdom. Russia is now multiple hardware generations into anti-aircraft systems that have been designed in the stealth era. And not just stealth being known about in a generic sense; it’s been over twenty years now since an F-117 was shot down by the Serbs and the wreckage shipped off to Moscow. So Russia has gotten a close-up look at some classified stealth materials. I think it’s very likely one of the things Russia has focused on is improving low frequency radar to the point that it can be used for targeting.

            That said, it’s also clear that the Russians don’t think stealth is completely worthless, or they wouldn’t have gone ahead and designed their own stealth fighter (the Su-57, which is now officially in service and has been used in Syria). Although it is interesting to note that the Su-57 sacrifices some stealthiness in favor of maneuverability, having a 3D thrust vectoring engine nozzle that can move both up-and-down and side-to-side. This is either because they aren’t putting all their stock in stealth and think agility still matters, or a stealth nozzle was too prohibitively expensive for them (the F-22 has a 2D vectoring nozzle that can only move up-and-down, but is itself stealthed. It’s such a ludicrously expensive piece of hardware that it was one of the factors that caused production of the F-22 to be halted)..

        4. xkeyscored

          The only problem for the Israelis is that the F-35 has very poor combat range (at least without external tanks, which destroy its stealth characteristics)
          Maybe you’re taking Israeli F35 modifications into account, and it could be bluff and propaganda, but I dug out these articles from earlier this year:

          The F-35 has already freaked out Iran and changed everything in the Middle East CNBC, July ’19
          But it was late summer 2015 when reports in the Israeli news media surfaced about how Israelis working on F-35 prototypes had managed to double the jet’s flight and stealth capacity. It wasn’t lost on anyone that the extension meant Israeli Air Force pilots could use the F-35 to fly from Israel to Tehran and back without detection — and without having to refuel at U.S. air bases in Saudi Arabia or Iraq.
          In July 2018, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had flown a test mission of at least three F-35 jets to Tehran and back from an airbase near Tel Aviv. While never confirmed publicly, a good number of military and political leaders in the region believed and still believe the story. The long-rumored threat the F-35 posed to Iran now seemed like a reality.

          Stealth on Steroids: Meet Israel’s F-35I Adir (An F-35 Like No Other) The National Interest, March ’19
          Israel is also developing two different sets of external fuel tanks to extend the F-35’s range. The first will be non-stealthy 425-gallon underwing tanks developed by a subsidiary of Elbit—these could be dropped when approaching enemy airspace (the pylons holding the drop tanks would reportedly detach as well so as not to compromise stealth), or used for missions in which stealth isn’t necessary. Further down the line, IAI wants to co-develop with Lockheed bolt-on conformal fuel tanks which “hug” the F-35 airframe so as not to compromise stealth and aerodynamics.

          1. Plenue

            “We flew all the way to Tehran and back!”

            Ah-hah, right. Sure they did. The range increase isn’t implausible, but I don’t buy for a second the stealth claim.

            1. Carey

              If you work the numbers, I think that kind of range increase is… unlikely.
              And yes, of course, bye-bye “stealth”.

  3. s.n.

    Epsteinology: Raúl Ilargi Meijer’s Debt Rattle for today makes the observation:
    “Curious: CBS puts a whole team on this for 5 months, and then writes about a note that says nothing, instead of photos that say a lot. Bloody neck, bloodless noose”
    and lo and behold he’s right

    1. Watt4Bob

      Looks as if Epstein didn’t hang himself, he was garroted.

      Not only that, but somebody wants somebody else to understand it.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    ‘Lithium fever’ grips Portugal as mining project raises temperature FT

    Lithium mining has become a bit like fracking – a means by which exploration companies whip up venture capital without any real concern about the economics of producing the metal. At current prices, the only available economically viable technology for Lithium mining is for extraction from brine deposits (there are none in Europe) or extraction as a byproduct of other associated minerals.

    Unless there is a technological breakthrough in in-situ extraction, or the prices of lithium go so high that open pit extraction of hard rock deposits is viable, those Portuguese deposits are very unlikely to be mined. In the meanwhile, whole communities are disrupted just so a few companies can extract cash from hopeful investors (this is the really profitable form of mining).

  5. ambrit

    Re the Mekong River delta; the retreat of the delta could be related to all that Agent Orange sprayed on the upriver jungle during the Indochina Adventure. That stuff is persistent and long lived and also keeps doing it’s ‘dirty work’ for a long time. The ecology of the Mekong Delta should be pretty post-apocalyptic by now. Not to mention the offshore ecology of the fishing grounds in the adjacent south China Sea. I wonder what the cancer rates of the present generation of Vietnamese and Cambodians of that region looks like today, compared to a hundred years ago.

      1. xkeyscored

        I should have added that many were born long after the US war on their country and its neighbours.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Over there in Vietnam and Cambodia, they are also still coping with landmines (instead of six fingers, this particular tragedy is more likely about missing fingers, limbs or worse), just like people in Afghanistan – there, they have to deal additionally with the mines left by the USSR.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Most Agent Orange was sprayed in the catchment of the rivers flowing east towards the sea, not into the Mekong. Years back I travelled through upland central Vietnam and it was shocking to see just how many visibly handicapped people there were. Most were probably the result of direct contact during the years of Agent orange usage. Dioxins (the main contaminant) are water insoluble so tend only to increase in concentration via bioconcentration in the fats of mammals, so the usual source of indirect high levels in human populations is through the consumption of dairy (animals grazing on contaminated grasslands) or via fish oils. I’m not aware of any situations where it has concentrated to dangerous levels in freshwater environments (except for lakes), it usually ends up in marine habitats.

      The retreat of the delta is due to a trio of forces – rising sea levels, sand mining for construction, and dams blocking the downflow of sediments.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And that is a good reminder for the world today, as people expect escalation in the Middle East, while others urge de-escalation.

        Nature does not care about Russia’s hypersonic missiles, or other gadgets by other powers. If plants and animals could make us humans hear in a human language, they’d likely be saying something like “Who cares about which humans did what to other humans. Why don’t you humans quit it?”

        And that is why it is good read that Germany, France and the UK are urging de-escalation (link, above).

        Maybe we can then get back to fires in Australia, which seem to get more coverage than the large fires in Siberia a few years back (Western media bias?).

        1. Anthony G Stegman

          I find it interesting that Germany says Trump was justified in murdering the Iranian general, yet Germany is calling for “de-escalation”. Germans are very odd people me thinks.

        2. wilroncanada

          The only problem with de-escalation: how does a country victimized by the DT’s of the world? I guess capitulation is an option, for awhile. Until the country gets the DT’s again.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The world is more than just humans and their countries.

            In dry places, like Australia for example, any friction could set off more wild fires, victimizing more plants and animals.

        3. Acacia

          Urge “De-escalation” and yet France, Germany, and the UK (a.k.a. the Alpha EuroPoodles) blame Iran for what has happened. Funny how that works.

    2. JTMcPhee

      One of many articles reporting on the continuing effects of Agent Orange and the rest of the Rainbow Herbicides on Southeast Asia, not just Vietnam. And a chilling reminder about the mindset of Western imperial war makers and their happy recourse to chemical warfare:

      While Agent Orange may be the most well-known chemical used during the Vietnam War, it wasn’t the only one. An entire rainbow of new chemical formulations rained down on Vietnam’s forests and fields. The Rainbow Herbicides, as they were known, were only used as weapons in the war for a little over a decade, but their consequences can still be felt today.

      The chemicals were deployed as part of Operation Ranch Hand, a military operation that lasted from 1962 to 1971. Ranch Hand’s unofficial motto—“only you can prevent a forest”—riffed off of Smokey Bear’s plea for people to prevent forest fires. The wry sarcasm of the phrase sums up the irony of the mission. Controversial then and now, it’s still not clear whether Operation Ranch Hand, a form of chemical warfare, was even permitted under international law.

      Herbicidal warfare had been a military dream since the 1940s, when Allied researchers began to brainstorm ways to use chemicals to scorch the earth. However, early plans to use chemicals to, for example, starve the Japanese by ruining their rice crops, faltered.

      In the 1950s, Britain became involved in the Malayan Emergency, an insurgency in a former British colony in what is now Malaysia. In an attempt to starve out Communist insurgents, British troops sprayed the lush forests with a substance similar to what became Agent Orange. The insurgents did fall, but the chemical spray had other lasting effects—severe soil erosion and lifelong health problems for Malayans.

      “I remember the sight and the smell of the spray,” recalls Thomas Pilsch, who served as a forward air controller in South Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. In the early morning low angle sunlight, it appeared to have an orange hue.” By spraying Agent Orange, he thought he was helping the United States military bust through Vietnam’s impenetrable jungles on the way to victory.

      The Geneva Protocol, developed after World War I to prohibit the use of chemical and biological weapons in war, would seem to forbid the use of these chemicals. But Britain argued that the conflict was an emergency, not a war—and that the treaty didn’t outlaw using chemicals for police actions.

      The success of the operation—and its justification [ ] prompted the United States to keep experimenting with the chemicals. In 1961, test runs began.

      1. xkeyscored

        I’ve read that the USA employed Agent Orange (and the others) more to destroy crops than forests.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Used for both, also for the nice side effect of sickening the population and “weakening the enemy’s resolve.” Our War Leaders are a real set of wunderkinds, no? I personally “benefitted” from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. It may have affected my daughter as well.

          1. Procopius

            “weakening the enemy’s resolve.”

            They didn’t often mention that most of “the enemy” were South Vietnamese.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Most of the Viet Cong, and the other Vietnamese who willingly or under duress supported the what used to be called guerrillas, were South Vietnamese. Not to put too fine a point on it. Some GIs held to the opinion that “the only good gook is a dead gook, they’re all the same.”

              I keep going back to the War Department/DoD definition of the terms that “justify taking action” by the war machine. The Dictionary, maintained at great expense and so revelatory of the real nature and functioning of the Empire:

              Here’s the current definition of “guerrilla:”

              guerrilla force — A group of irregular, predominantly indigenous personnel organized along military lines to conduct military and paramilitary operations in enemy-held, hostile, or denied territory. (JP 3-05)

              Here’s the definition of “insurgent:”

              insurgency — The organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. (JP 3-24)

              So our Elite Special Forces/Special Ops are often “guerrillas” (BAD, unless they are decreed to be “freedom fighters.”) And as I parse the definition of “insurgent,” (also “BAD GUYS,” unless doing Regime Change for the Empire) every one of the current “deployments” of US imperial forces constitutes an “insurgency.” Implicitly BAD.

              I’d note that the DoD has done a long dance with the wording of that “insurgent” definition. Under previous versions which I can’t pull up at the moment, it originally referred to opposing a constituted government. Then it was about challenging an established authority (like the proconsulcy the Empire put in place to loot and rule Iraq after the deposing of Saddam Hussein, kind of awkward given the circumstances, and look where it’s come round to. I guess it’s like the Bible — you can read whatever you want into it, to support all kinds of “positions.”

              So please, some apologist for Boots on the Groundism, please explain how what the Imperial forces in those many countries (Guatemala, Notagain?istan, etc.) are not “insurgencies,” by the War Department’s own dictionary

      2. wilroncanada

        We had a friend who farmed here on the west coast who was sprayed by Agent Rainbow while teaching his general how to hunt in the woods of CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, one of the “practice” areas. He lived to a ripe old age, ripe with near-blindness, numerous facial tumours, brain cancer, and other assorted ailments. The general’s wife fought for, and got compensation. The grunt got nothing.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Same thing for a major who developed peripheral neuropathy, now a known effect in many people of exposure to the chlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans that were present in the Rainbow Sprays in large part because Dow, Monsanto and others did not want to reduce profit by carefully controlling the reaction conditions to avoid temperatures and other conditions that favored thes ‘unintended byproducts” presence in the brew.

          The major had medical opinions and good science to support his claim for VA compensation, but as with the other illnesses related to herbicide exposure, he had to fight for 30 years to finally, as he was dying, get a check from the VA which had fought him dirty, tooth and nail. That war, the war on GIs, is still going on.

          Remember, folks, that VA disability compensation is just “workers compensation” for The Troops We Support. And so are limited, for a GI with 100% disabling service-connected injury or disease, to less than $3,000 a month. A little more for GIs with spouses. And when that GI dies, his spouse does not get what the veteran was getting — oh no, let us hope she was prudent and invested wisely while caring for said veteran, because she will get maybe half what the veteran was “awarded.”

      1. xkeyscored

        I imagine Ambrit is thinking of the potential effects on trees and mangroves binding the soil. But the main mechanisms I’ve been reading about are those mentioned by PlutoniumKun above (rising sea levels, sand mining for construction, and dams blocking the downflow of sediments), plus the extraction of groundwater; poisons and pesticides from whatever source are not included.

  6. xkeyscored

    Venezuela: Guaido Replaced as Parliament Head in Disputed Vote – Venezuelanalysis
    If Guaido is out of a job, might he not be the USA’s ideal choice as new President of Iraq? Neither Shia nor Sunni, he could be the one to bridge that divide, if Trump hasn’t already done so.

    1. Darius

      At some point, Guaido becomes a nuisance or a useful pretext for “kinetic” force. He should retire to someplace quiet.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Vietnam in deals to buy Laos electricity from 2021 Reuters. They’ll need the power to run desalination plants if the Mekong River delta keeps sinking.

    The irony of course is that part of the reason the Mekong is sinking, is that downflows of silt and sand are being reduced due to the construction of hydroelectric plants in Laos. It sounds like the Vietnamese government is in need of some joined-up thinking.

  8. russell1200

    Asian Times piece is crazy.

    The Iranians have invested a significant amount of money on short range anti-ship cruise missiles and naval mines.

    They don’t need a military strong throughout the world. They only need to be strong enough to win within a very narrow areas that are important to them. Closing the Straights of Hormuz being one of them.

    1. xkeyscored

      “Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other allies in the region also have frontline fighter aircraft and competent naval assets.” – I wasn’t aware Saudi forces were in any way competent, other than knowing how to spread death, destruction, famine and disease.
      “Like Israel, they also have some missile defenses.” – Which did an excellent job of protecting Aramco’s facilities against a few drones.
      “Iran has none of these things. Its questionable allies – China and Russia – are not going to get into a war with the United States over Iran.” – I’d agree that neither China nor Russia want war, and will probably work hard to avoid one. But to call them questionable allies seems totally unfounded. If any country has proven itself an unreliable ally, it is without a doubt the United States. Russia and China have been relatively quiet in recent days about these latest US outrages. I do not take that as a sign of acquiscence. On the contrary, I fully expect they are both working overtime on their strategies and policies, but behind the scenes, unlike Trump. And both countries have a fairly good track record of keeping to their promises once made. What exactly they will decide, I don’t know, but I don’t see them simply abandoning Iran at this juncture.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that you are right. That article “Against the Blitz Wolf — Russian Reinforcements for Iran’s Defence in War Against All” in today’s Links indicates the Russians are beefing up Iranian air defences.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        Russia and China will be very wise to put and keep their military forces (including nuclear forces) on alert. Trump is very dangerous right now, and may lash out in any direction including attacking Russia and China.

  9. Ignim Brites

    “There’s a silver lining in a potential US-Iran war”. As though taking out Iran’s nuclear program has not been the sole objective all along. Question is: Can this be achieved without tactical nukes? Complementary question: Can Russia be provoked into using tactical nukes in Ukraine so as to normalize their use? Third question: Does Russia have a play to provoke the US into being the first to use tactical nukes so as to legitimize their use in Ukraine? China too would have an interest, perhaps, in legitimizing the use of tactical nukes.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Especially since they already have a ruined nuke plant at Chernobyl. Plenty of radiation in Ukraine — and Belorus — already.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      It seems unlikely that Iran hasn’t hardened their highest priority facilities to practically be immune from high explosive bomb and missile attack in the many, many years they have had available to do so. The idea that those facilities can be taken out by bombs or missles seems to be either naive or wishful thinking.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I remember reading somewhere that some of Iran’s facilities are buried deep enough in and/or under mountains as to survive a direct strategic A-bomb attack. I have also read that Iranian cement/concrete engineers themselves have done development work over the years on Ultra High Performance Concrete.

        And if you were to infuse the UHPC with the right kind of meshwork of graphite carbon fibers ( or someday even graphene fibers if those make it from the lab into everyday life), would you have even stronger UHPC? SD-UHPC ( SD for Super Duper)?

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Australia to pay ‘whatever it takes’ to fight wildfires”

    The Government is denying it but the mounting costs of the bushfires have just blown away the planned budgetary surplus. That is huge for them. I took a bit of hope at a headline that I saw recently how the New South Wales Young Liberals – sort of like your Young Republicans – demanded new policies to cope with climate change.

    But then they went on to say they want a “practical, market-based means for Australia to cut its emissions by 30 per cent of Kyoto levels by 2030”. Oh yeah, and nuclear power stations. And some dams as well, please. And this is coming from the next generation of the Coalition. They still don’t get it.

    1. xkeyscored

      It’s been known for ages that the costs of allowing climate change will far outweigh the costs of fighting it. These fires may finally get the idea into the heads of the numbskulls, but I doubt it.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But since the Global Overclass can make the costs of enduring global warming fall upon the Jackpotted Majority, whereas the costs of fighting it might extend to the Overclass Minority themselves; they have decided to prevent fighting it, so as to make sure their global warming rolls all the way out and helps them achieve their goal of killing 7 billion people and making it look like an accident.

        So “fighting global warming” will require fighting the Global Warmogenic Overclass at some point in the process.

        1. xkeyscored

          I think that’s more or less how the Jackbooted Minority sees things. When Cyclone Idai struck Africa last year, it made international headlines for what – a few days? Africa, poor, disposable …
          When something much smaller (so far) in terms of death and destruction strikes a First World country, a member of the Fabulous Five Eyes no less, it dominates the news for weeks. I think they like to travel their dominions without being subjected to verbal abuse, let alone more extreme measures; the bunkers are a last resort.
          Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai (/ɪˈdaɪ, ˈiːdaɪ/) was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Hey, Rev, this American has a question: How can we help Australians in the wake of these destructive fires?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I myself would say that by making sure that places like California are prepared as possible for the fires in your coming summer. If massive fires like this are happening in Australia due to climate change, then likely as not North America will face identical problems as well – and Europe & Siberia. I suspect that we are merely the opening act. Call it an example of that old idea of thinking globally and acting locally.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps American and Australian building-builders and builder-ologists can work together on designing buildable and deployable fire-PROOF houses and other buildings. Strictly and rigidly forbid the use of any trace of any oxidizable material anywhere in the building. Houses made STRICTLY and ONLY out of rock/brick/concrete/cement/etc. Steel roofs. No shingles allowed. Fast-closable steel shutters outside all windows . . . thick and insulated and faced on the outside ( fire-facing) with super reflective surface to reflect all infra-red radiant energy away and keep it from entering through the window and flash-igniting the inside furnishings of the house.

        Sealable super-safe fire shelter somewhere inside or under the house so that the family and pets and etc. can shelter in place under the fire and beyond the reach of its heat.

        Any such can’t-burn can’t-melt house would be one less thing for the fire crews to have to think about saving. They might even be tiny little anti-flame strong points which fire crews could integrate into fire lines.

        Anyway, the sharing of such thought and planning among the experts of all the Fire Alleys of the world would be something useful to do.

        1. norm de plume

          Good ideas.

          Here’s another:

          some anecdotal evidence:

          Another idea to ponder, this one from David Bowman, who must be the world’s only Professor of Pyrogeography:

          ‘Perhaps it’s time to rearrange the Australian calendar and reschedule the peak holiday period to March or April, instead of December and January’

          For some light relief, the ever reliable Craig Kelly. Always good for a laugh:

    3. xkeyscored

      re your current PM’s noble efforts, The Times has this today:
      Former Australian PM Tony Abbott praised for fighting bushfires
      The former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has been filmed running into a house set alight by bushfires in New South Wales.
      The footage shows Mr Abbott, 62, who has long volunteered for a bushfire brigade in outer Sydney, was recorded wearing breathing apparatus and entering the smoke-filled holiday cottage in Bendalong, a small coastal town. He was part of a “strike team” sent from Sydney to fight the advancing fires as temperatures reached 45C on Saturday.
      While hundreds of homes were lost across New South Wales on the day, Mr Abbott and his colleagues managed to save every home on one burning street.

      1. skippy

        Having drenched the work of climate scientists with contemptuous spittle, the real Tony Abbott has emerged.

        The former prime minister’s incendiary speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London strips away all his previous pretence.

        The Tony Abbott who as host leader of the 2014 G20 affirmed Australia’s belief in climate change, humanity’s contribution and the need for effective action, has been banished by the real self.
        Abbott’s clashing claims

        Tony Abbott seems to claim climate change isn’t real but also is real and nothing to worry about, writes Andrew P Street.

        Climate change science, he now asserts, has the spirit of the Inquisition.

        It is the “thought police down the ages” and invoked a post-Christian nostalgia for sacrifice in political response.

        “Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods,” he said.

        “We are more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect.” – snip

        For a more sobering observation just search his name and climate change, he was Murdock’s man and a Lord Mocking [major anti CC sort] back when becoming PM was just a gleam in his eye.

        Must be great to simultaneously do the creators work and then get hero points for dealing with the aftermath … barf~~~~

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Looks like the nickname #ScottyFromMarketing is going to stick (about our current neo-lib PM Scott Morrison). Morrison, like Pompeo and Pence, is also a “dominionist” who believe God gave man the Earth to do with as he pleases, of course, until the chosen are Raptured up.

        Then there’s Emergency Services Minister David Eliott, who a week or two before the onslaught was briefed by staff that this nation was about to explode in flames, so he decided “OK, I think I’ll go f*ck off to London for a while”:

        We had a couple of hours of light rain here in Sydney, thank dog, because it felt like the entire place was ready to go up in flames. In the 1906 San Francisco fire they reported “it’s not a fire in San Francisco, it’s a fire of San Francisco” and that’s exactly what it felt like might happen. Reprieve for the moment.

        Imagine the response if we had had an Islamic terror attack that killed 25 people, destroyed millions and millions in property including more than 2,000 homes. The government would be in maximum mode, arresting indiscriminately, further slashing civil liberties, opening an unlimited checkbook.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The Australian Defense Minister also decided that it would be a good time to shoot through to Bali with the family.

    4. skippy

      Various social media platforms are already getting spammed by randoms popping up when anyone opines about dealing with climate change through non orthodox economic policies – like:

      “get some grasp of macroeconomics before commenting on economic matters”

      Yep that’s it, Milgram’s white coat walks in without any means to evaluate or question the proclamation and attempts to – own – the framework for discussion or debate – en fin.

      One would think were back in antiquity and those in funny garb and hats just blew through.

        1. skippy

          True believers or not it seems some just like the action that way, path dependency and conflict resolution at all costs.

      1. eg

        “get some grasp of macroeconomics before commenting on economic matters” from that lot is high comedy

  11. fdr-fan

    Iraq would be smart to take Trump’s offer of reparations and sanctions. Reparations are rarely paid, and Trump’s universal sanctions have passed the point of negative returns. Every sane country has figured out that sanctions are a blessing in disguise. Life is better when you develop your own resources and align with Russia and China.

  12. Olga

    How Qassim Suleimani Wielded His Enormous Power in Iraq The Intercept. From their Iran trove.

    Sorry, this has a feel of a disinformation campaign.
    Relevant links on Iran

    And BN’s “stumble” was no stumble, but a thinly veiled threat. has had the most informative take on the crisis…

    1. russell1200

      The article mentions that the source of the reports are Iranian’s who are political rivals of Suleimani. But as they are internal reports, they aren’t going to be complete fabrications for public consumption.

      Iran’s political structure is far from monolithic.

    2. xkeyscored

      The Saker has a link to this:

      Iranian State TV Announces $80 Million Bounty For President Trump’s Head (ZeroHedge, so apply salt as desired.)

      Several sources have confirmed that Iranian state television has announced a crowdsourcing effort among citizens to raise nearly $80 million for a bounty on President Trump’s head … “At Solemani’s funeral procession in Mashad one of the organizers called on all Iranian to donate $1 each in order to gather an $80million bounty on President Trumps head.”
      I didn’t notice any link for outsiders to contribute. I’ll keep looking.

        1. xkeyscored

          No competition in terms of numbers of contributors. Worldwide.
          Blowback for the fad for calling for the beheading/decapitation of foreign leaders and governments?
          A while back, I did some time-sorted Google searches for “decapitation (& beheading) north korea”. In the pre-ISIS years, the first results page had items about Mexican drugs gangs, NK execution methods, a dangerous ice skating manoeuvre known as the iron doughnut or something, and more such things. Post-ISIS, they were all about regime change in North Korea. (And “regime change north korea” gave the results you’d expect in all years.)
          Coincidence? A mere quirk of linguistics? Or had they been mesmerised by watching ISIS videos on repeat?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Escobar writes:

      Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier flight, carrying a diplomatic passport. He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message from Riyadh on de-escalation across the Middle East. Those negotiations had been requested by the Trump administration.

      I may have missed the evidence in the enormous flood of disinformation, but Escobar provides no links to any of this. A quick Google search — I know, I know, on “‘Qasem Soleimani’ passport” turns up nothing. I believe the original narrative originated from Iraq President Abdul-Mahdi’s speech to Parliament as originally translated by E. J. Magnier (on the Twitter, which I am too lazy to find) but not on his site. The Gray Zone then breathlessly amplifies as follows: “Iraqi PM reveals Soleimani was on peace mission when assassinated, exploding Trump’s lie of ‘imminent attacks’.” “Reveals.” Really? (For example, do the Saudis really want matters in Iraq taken off the boil? Why?) Somehow the word of one government official — Abdul-Mahdi — is taken as gospel while the world of other government officials — our own — is not. (And then we have “corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative” like diplomatic passport. Doesn’t it make more sense to treat neither set of government officials as trustworthy, and all government officials as working an angle? The Middle East has form, after all.

      What is interesting to me is the obvious implications of Abdul-Mahdi’s narrative:

      1) Never get involved in negotiations at the request of the United States (since your known presence will be used as a pretext for assassination), and saying the same thing at a higher level

      2) The United States is not agreement-capable (leading to the inescapable conclusion that the only option is US withdrawal).

      The whole narrative strikes me as extremely thinly sourced, and its uncritical propagation by well-meaning leftists a fine example of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”-style thinking.*

      NOTE * Unfortunately, sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.

      1. xkeyscored

        For example, do the Saudis really want matters in Iraq taken off the boil? Why?
        I seem to recall the Saudis have been contemplating buying Russian radar defence systems, and selling oil to China. Perhaps the USA has decided that is enough reason to effectively ditch them as an ally, and go after Iraq/Iran, leaving the Saudi oil infrastructure wide open to another drone attack, probably even more devastating than the last one.
        Trump does appear to view world trade as a zero sum game, and maybe believes America is now self-sufficient in oil and gas – if Gulf oil flow ceases, that will only harm non-American states, which must be good news for the USA.
        I can see all too easily why Saudi might want matters taken off the boil. They’re in the same pot.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I like Escobar and the Grey Zone, but they are both too prone to confirmation bias based on limited evidence. I’d only believe a story like that if it came from someone with direct sources in Iraq. The arab world is notoriously prone to conspiracy theory, even at the highest level, any story like that needs multiple sources.

  13. Summer

    RE: Tooth Removal
    “So, spend $1k in SF, or $580 in France, including a weekend in Paris”

    Good to know. Isn’t this kind of thing a goid trason not to get one of those Healthcare Savings plans? Don’t they lock you into the fraud grinder of here?

  14. xkeyscored

    Boris Johnson summons ministers for crisis meeting as Iran threatens to kill British soldiers as ‘collateral damage’ in escalating standoff with Donald Trump over killing of Soleimani – Daily Mail
    “And the government has again appealed for Iraq not to expel British and US troops, pointing out that they are in the country to combat ISIS.” – I’m sure I read somewhere that the USA has now officially given up on the excuse that they’re in Iraq to fight ISIS, and their troops’ current purpose is purely to defend the Green Zone and US bases there, in other words, to protect the occupation.

    1. Procopius

      I thought they said a few months ago that ISIS was defeated, but we were going to keep troops in Syria and Iraq “to keep an eye on Iran.” You can’t expect any consistency from these crooks. They believe (with reason) that the American public has the memory span of a fruit fly. I have read that journalism schools teach that if you reference any event that happened more than three days ago you need to give a brief explanation of what that event was and why it’s important.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Trump says he’ll sanction Iraq if US troops forced to leave”

    Maybe here Trump can fulfill one of the ideas that he constantly spruiks how the US should have kept the oil after the occupation of Iraq. In 2013 he tweeted “I still can’t believe we left Iraq without the oil,” and in 2016 he said “It used to be, ‘To the victor belong the spoils’”

    Twice he suggested to the Iraqi Prime Minister that Iraq pay for all the trillions that America spent there with its oil. Now here is his chance. He is just as liable to occupy Iraq’s oil fields and say “We’re keeping the oil. I’ve always said that — keep the oil. We want to keep the oil, millions a month. Keep the oil. We’ve secured the oil.”

    1. Oh

      If IIRC, the spoils were divided between the major international oil companies who pay $1/bbl and then sell it at the market price. The idiot Trump knows that but he’s trying to consolidate his red neck support.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Iran has vowed retaliation for Soleimani’s death. Trump, meanwhile, has threatened to hit Iranian sites if Tehran strikes Americans or U.S. assets in response, including threatening to hit Iranian cultural sites. Some have argued that attacking a cultural site could be considered a war crime.

        Not to mention that after our shock and awe “liberation” of the Iraqi people, the oil ministry was heavily guarded by the american liberators while the national museum, repository of priceless “cultural” antiquities, was mercilessly looted to the horror of donald rumsfeld, whose “Shit happens” response demonstrated the gravity and respect for Iraqi sovereignty with which the invasion was undertaken.

        Is it just me, or are we supposed to believe that it’s only bad when Trump does it?

    1. Massinissa

      That was basically a footnote to the overall piece, and it also barely made sense.

      He writes the entire article about how we need to invest more in schools, and then adds this footnote at the end:

      “Resist populist proposals such as free college, which again is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, as only 32% of Americans go to college. ”

      Wait, then why are we investing more in schools then? And wouldn’t free college mean more people could go? And its not like ‘free college’ means Harvard becomes free. Are all 32% of people who go to college ‘the rich’ now?

  16. PlutoniumKun

    Taiwan mourns chief of general staff, 7 other service members killed in Blackhawk emergency landing Taiwan Today. Odd.

    It does seem odd how little interest there seems to be in investigating the cause of the crash. For what its worth, the General had a reputation as being pro-American (and by implication, anti-Chinese), and was credited with having significant influence in persuading Trump to loosen restrictions on the sale of US weaponry to Taiwan.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for mentioning this.

      Do people in Taiwan suspect ‘regime change’ by their rival who competes for Mandate from Heaven?

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Tracked, targeted, killed: Qassem Soleimani’s final hours”

    They didn’t need any technology. As a diplomatic envoy, Soleimani’s arrival time and on what commercial flight would have been known to a lot of people. I hope that Trump does not get any more ‘menus of options’ that include crazy stuff like this. Otherwise we may be seeing this next-

    “In shock news tonight, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has been killed in an explosion outside Berlin’s Brandenburg International Airport. Mr. Lavrov arrived in Berlin to discuss with German Chancellor Angela Merkel a peace deal that US President Trump had offered the Russian federation via the German Chancellor and had with him an answer from President Putin

    Also killed in the attack was German Federal Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-KarrenbauerIt as well as their drivers and security detail. It seems certain that they were killed by missiles shot from American drones that had taken off from the US Air Base at Ramstein in Germany itself. Immediately after, US cruise missiles were launched at Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base and naval facility in Tartus in Syria and casualties have been noted.

    Trump has offered to lift sanctions on Russia if there is no payback for this assassination or attacks but promises far, far worse attacks than have ever seen before in history if they do.”

  18. Wukchumni

    U.S. Stops Dozens of Iranian-Americans Returning From Canada NYT
    The diaspora of nearly all pro-Shah Iranians via our airports in the late 70’s was something to behold, There’s nearly a million or so with Persian heritage in Irangeles alone, and you kind of wonder what sort of awkward shit sandwich they might be forced to eat if we go into a hot war with Iran and there’s guilt by association?

    One aspect of Iranians that probably few are aware of, is of any country out there, i’ve never seen a people so enamored with all that glitters. A standard gift for a birthday or wedding is a small gold bar, to give you an idea. Couple that with their national currency-the Rial, being worth approx bupkis (42,000 of them equals 1 USD) which has only been declining sharply in value against all other currencies for decades, and it has intensified their desire to have savings in something stable. Since the assassination, the value of their holdings has gone up 3%, an odd earnings windfall to be sure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The most popular singer in Iran lives in Los Angeles, and when he travels to countries neighboring, Iranians flock to see him (“Andy! Andy! Andy!)

      And there is the Burbank transmission man, whose youtube video/commercial “Shift it,” was amazing.

    2. Monty

      I was at school with many of their children in London in the 80s. The richest refugees you’ve ever met! One fellow’s mother, who worked for the Shah, walked with a permanent limp after using her nether regions to surreptitiously export a rather large volume of precious stones from the palace.

  19. JCC

    My first thought when reading the Current Affairs article regarding Pence’s statement that Suleimani/Iran “allowed free passage of the 9/11 terrorists” was -> for that matter, so did we, along with every other country they traveled through.

    Propaganda is very subtle nowadays, but it only takes a minute or two of basic critical thinking skills to see through it. It’s unfortunate that more people don’t use those skills.

    1. xkeyscored

      I don’t find it subtle in the least, though it seems to be very effective on the idiots in power in the USA.
      “Iran has been meddling in Iraq.” – How many times have I heard that one? Utterly outrageous from a country that illegally bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq, yet it’s been parroted with a straight face time and again.
      “China is a growing military threat in the South China Sea.” – Guam? Okinawa? As if China would have any wish to block trade there, unlike the US, which regularly uses blockades and embargoes against its perceived foes.
      “The Chinese might use Huawei to spy on you.” – What? After what we’ve learned from Snowden and others about US spying, or the fact that Facebook, Google et al have built their businesses around hoovering up more information about us than we dreamed there could be?

      I could think of a zillion similar examples, but I guess you can too. The tactic seems quite simple: accuse Russia/China/Iran or whoever of doing whatever the USA is doing, and accuse them over and over. Not what I’d call subtle, just pervasive, insistent and unrelenting.

      1. inode_buddha

        The hypocrisy is driven by an addiction to Power. Rarely do addicts admit the problem might just be with them, instead all energies are focused on what others are doing. Do not expect honesty from a person who has sold their honor. They have nothing left to sell. And someone who has sold their principles for a buck, or for a position, has no honor.

      2. Procopius

        Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
        Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
        Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

        Interview with Hermann Goering during his trial at Nuremberg. Notice Trump saying Iran was attacking out embassy, when, in fact, the crowd was Iraqi?

  20. Tom Stone

    It appears to me that the “Leadership” in the west and particularly here in the USA is clinically insane.

    There’s an extinction event happening right now that might warrant some attention…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It appears to me that the “Leadership” in the west and particularly here in the USA is clinically insane.

      The Five Eyes seem to be doing particularly badly, everywhere but in New Zealand. Not just Trump, Johnson, Morison, and (the somewhat better) Trudeau, but their political classes and electoral systems, too.

      1. xkeyscored

        I was heartened by New Zealand’s collective reaction to the Christchurch shootings. Had the same happened in the USA, it would have been a) just another mass shooting, yawn yawn, and b) well, they were probably terrorist supporters, if not full on terrorists.

    1. smoker

      I figured you were referring to the Silver Lining, Asia Times piece author, and his bio figures. Don’t know about now, as scripting was turned off when I read it , but I recall a ton of Spook Employment ads popping up on Asia Times in prior years, which always made be wonder how many of the authors might be spooks.

  21. John C.

    Top headline on the NYT webpage at the moment: “A Sea of Mourners, and Tears From the Ayatollah, for Dead Commander”

    I’m totally onboard the DJT-is-a-Dangerous-Racist-Nutjob train, but does anyone else think the NYT is already going too far with this seemingly “poor, poor Iran” wavelength?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The NYT? Are you looking at the same paper? That cage liner is one of leading cheerleaders of imperial wars.

    2. kiwi

      Didn’t the NYT call Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi an austere, religious scholar? Oh wait, that was the Washington Post.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Rural America Turning to Grocers, High-Fee ATMs as Banks Leave”

    There is a solution but under present flavours of the US Government, it will be never done. I checked and confirmed that Allendale, South Carolina has a post office. Wouldn’t it be great if Allendale had a post office bank like other countries do or even if you could make deposits and withdrawals from your bank via the post office there? Like here-

    I don’t know if you can do the same in US post offices or not for this.

    1. Wukchumni

      Another aspect of rural America is the price gouging that goes on, A 66 Cent can of cat food in Visalia @ a supermarket there, magically turns into a $1.28 can here @ our lone market in town, and all other items across the board have similar egregious mark-ups.

      1. Angie Neer

        Gouging, or higher expenses? Does the market in your town have the same sales volume as the one in Visalia, and the same transportation costs?

        1. John k

          Costs are higher, so are profits. Limit is don’t want profits so high it brings competition… and of course what the traffic can bear.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          The cost differential is likely small. The price is high because of the captive audience thing. Are folks going to drive all the way to Visalia to save a dollar? Of course they won’t, and the merchant knows this. The same price gouging happens at Disneyland.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Got to wait until Goldman Sachs or BoA or Wells Fargo or some other bidder gets to buy the Postal Service. Then “Postal banking? No Problem. See our easy terms and fee schedules.”

      1. cnchal

        It would cost billions in upgrades to make that happen. In the meantime, a postal bank is not in the works, officially, know what I mean?

        From USPS_A_Sustainable_Path_Forward_report_12-04-2018.pdf

        The USPS should explore new business opportunities that will allow it to extract value from its existing assets and business lines. For example, the USPS should explore licensing access to the mailbox and providing additional government services, such as licenses for hunting and fishing. The USPS could also capture additional value from its existing retail offices by converting post offices into contract post offices or by co-locating with or renting space to complementary retail establishments. However, given the USPS’s narrow expertise and capital limitations, USPS should not pursue expanding into new sectors, such as postal banking, where the USPS does not have a demonstrated competency or comparative advantage, or where balance sheet risk would be added.

        Extract value, the guiding principle of the best brains on offer behind this report.

        It boils down to monetize the mailbox monopoly, sell hunting and fishing licences, sublease space, and redefine packages with dim weight, thereby handing out 350% or so increases to shipping prices for many, now or soon to be ex customers.

        None of it will work, so I see a post office fire sale in the future. Goldman 666 is in the hunt, going for the kill.

        1. smoker

          An indication of how much Banks despise the concept of Public, Postal Banking.

          In 2006, someone I knew very well moved back to California, from out of state. A loved one of theirs had given them a USPS Money Order (under $300) for money they were returning. Since they had no bank account here yet, I took them to my bank (which a much larger bank shortly ate, courtesy of the Obama giveaway) so they could cash it without paying Silicon Valley’s Sickening, and Legal, Check Cashing Fees which Local Democratic Legislators did nothing to prevent.

          My US/Califonia Domiciled (Delaware, US Incorporated) Silicon Valley bank branch would not cash the United States Post Office Money Order – period, didn’t even offer a fee to cash it – because the person had no Passport!!!!!!, even though the person was a US citizen and had more than one, current, valid US ID cards including a driver’s license; and even though I asked the bank to let them sign it to me and cash it under my decades old, in good standing, account. My account had more than enough to cover the USPS money order. And yes, I’ve long since shut down that account.

          As an asides, I’ve long suspected that some Local, and certainly Federal, USPS VIPs, have deliberately undermined and privatized the public’s United States Post Office.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > USPS should not pursue expanding into new sectors, such as postal banking, where the USPS does not have a demonstrated competency or comparative advantage, or where balance sheet risk would be added.

          That’s rich, since:

          1) The USPS has a demonstrated competency, having done postal banking for decades

          2) The USPS has a comparative advantage, not being fee-seeking price-gouging weasels and crooks

          3) Balance sheet risk was deliberately added to the USPS as a way to privatize it.

    3. Donna

      According to the Jacobin Bernie could use an Executive Order to create postal banking:


      The United States is full of places that banks have decided it’s unprofitable to serve. This forces people to turn to predatory payday lenders and check-cashing operations, spending an average of 10 percent of their income on the exorbitant fees that “alternative” financial services charge. There’s a solution to this problem within our reach: federal law already requires the US Postal Service to have a brick-and-mortar post office in every zip code, and 60 percent of them are in zip codes with only one or no bank branches. President Bernie Sanders could issue an executive order directing the post office to begin offering public banking, ensuring that nobody will be kept from traditional financial services

      Yes, it could be challenged but Jacobin argues that an Executive Order would get the ball rolling. I do love this article.

    4. Alex morfesis

      As to a postal banking system, the US version was technically a postal savings deposit system which technically still exists despite the usual legacy narrative burpers who insist it was shut down…it never had a final report and official board vote to shut down…contacted the archivists of the relevant us atty and secty of trez and no notes of a schedule of any final meeting of the official postal savings board appears. The postmaster general was only one of three votes and did not have the legal capacity to officially and unilaterally shut it down.

      In the early 60’s the banking industry made enough noise by arguing there would no longer be any unbanked and therefore there was no need for a postal savings system…probably the precursor to the end game today of trying to reduce/privatize the post office by adjusting its finances, as today we have a special version of the GASB just for the postal system.

      The postal savings board consisted of three people, the attyt genl, the secty of the treasury and the US Postmaster General.

      There were many in Congress at that time who were not keen on the disolving of the postal savings system and it technically never had a final meeting to legally shut it down. It was defunded in theory….removed from the budget therefore dysfunctional, much as can happen when an agency is “required” to enforce a law but magically it is an “unfunded mandate” and the enforcement is only on paper or when some unauthorized newby competitor flips over the apple cart and some US Atty is looking to run for office and needs a perp walk photo op…

      The postal savings system stopped taking deposits and some of its deposit certificates were converted to some form of irredeemable debt, but not all of the deposits were dismissed…the last number a few years ago looked somewhere in the vicinity of $ 50 million dollars still “on deposit” with some of the instruments(stamps and special postal savings bonds)…but if one were to find them, one could get beautiful crispy Federal Reserve Note credits issued to your favorite banking institution…doubt your local postal employee today has any training on handling them, although it would be interesting to ask retired postal workers of that era what it took to process those transactions…

      But realistically, even if someone tried to force a writ to make the postal system “take” a deposit, it is an unfunded mandate and technically our fearless leader, “el trumpery”, could simply tell his dc comics evil villain trezman to have lunch with the barrfly and whomever is the postmaster general and “one and done”…

      but it still lives and perhaps can be brought back to life by a push for funding and a drop dead date on the old legislation as there was never a final report as mandated by the defunding legislation…there are still apparently over half a million depositors in the us postal savings system with the trez dept holding the records….

      Takes political will….but william has retired….

        1. polecat

          Wikipedia … uhm, yeah .. sure.
          Reliable as hell, and never, EVER wrong, nor imputed with outright deception and malfeasance, am I right ?
          “CROSS my pulmonary pump and hope to lie.”
          Believe at your own game of risk.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In some ways, people use Wikipedia like they apply scientific theories – forgetting that neither is true (in the latter case, tomorrow’s best explanation will prove today’s false).

          One is more likely to better reliable information, relatively speaking, looking up information about ancient Persian or Parthian kings than about today’s power players there.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Either (typos or sark) can be a good reminder that even sci theories (or anything we read, books, news articles, etc) should be handled with care.

  23. Darius

    News broke today that Julian Castro is campaigning with Elizabeth Warren tomorrow in Brooklyn. Obamaworld is desperate to stop Sanders. In this deal, Castro is Biden’s running mate. Warren is his treasury secretary.

    I like to think this is another desperate and futile ploy.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Sometimes TDS can be a useful thing, the Dems are all a-flutter about requiring Congress to authorize any war. Wonder where they were when we had The Mellifluous Melanoderm in the Oval Office?

      And I love the two driving points they make on “impeachment”:

      1. Trump’s actions threaten our “national security” (apparently despite the fact that Obama also opposed arming the Ukraine)


      2. Trump’s actions “go against U.S. policy”, so I guess the elected president is no longer responsible for policy direction, good to know.

      1. pasha

        1. obama opposed arming the PREVIOUS administrations, which were much more pro-russian.

        2. although given vast powers over foreign policy, the executive cannot legally divert funds allocated by congress (see iran-contra scandal and the 1974 budget impoundment act).

        1. kiwi

          Yeah, just keep splitting those hairs over minutia.

          “I’m really good at killing people.” Who said that?

          Less than two weeks ago, the United States conducted a drone strike over central Yemen, killing one al-Qaeda operative. The strike was the last under Obama (that we know of). The 542 drone strikes that Obama authorized killed an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians. As he reportedly told senior aides in 2011: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

          You want to pretend that Obama was morally superior to Trump?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If Pelosi is in such a resolution passing mood, why doesn’t she offer up a resolution asking Trump to honor Iraq’s request for the US Military to leave Iraq?

      Excellent point.

  24. Wukchumni

    What if a certain teetotalitarian leader was to be dosed, what would happen in the aftermath of enlightenment?

  25. inode_buddha

    More Nietzsche:

    See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus scuffle into the mud and the abyss.

    Towards the throne they all strive: it is their madness—as if happiness sat on the throne! Ofttimes sitteth filth on the throne.—and ofttimes also the throne on filth.

    How can I help it that Power likes to walk on crooked legs?


    (Also Sprach Zarathustra by Friederich Nietzsche has been a favorite of mine since childhood.)

    1. Carey

      >(Also Sprach Zarathustra by Friederich Nietzsche has been a favorite of mine since childhood.)

      ..Then don’t miss Fritz Reiner/ CSO’s 1954 RCA ‘Living Stereo’ recording, available still on CD; mine is c/w Ein Heldenleben. I have not heard better recorded sound, despite that date.

  26. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Cost of tooth removal with anesthesia in SF: $1k (w/ no insurance)
    Cost in Paris: $80 (in certain hospitals)
    Round trip SF Paris: $300 (Norwegian Air)
    Average cost / night in Paris: $100

    So, spend $1k in SF, or $580 in France, including a weekend in Paris :)


    :) or :(?

    1. We or the author assumes his/her readers desire to go to Paris.
    2. If not, the days spent in traveling are days they don’t get back. Maybe they prefer growing cabbages in their backyard that weekend (a la emperor Diocletian), for example. He certainly was not pining for Paris.
    3. Air travel – maybe Mother Nature gets sick humans doing it (no way to walk and sail – the green way – from SF to Paris in three days or a long weekend of 4 or 5 days).

    I think we make a stand or those in SF make a stand and get it down from $1k. Running away or going elsewhere is not the top choice.

    1. smoker

      I was trying to even imagine getting to the airport, and then on an hours long flight, then making an appointment in France, etcetera, with the sort of pain that usually ensues when one needs a tooth extracted.

      On the other hand, I believe Florent Crivello was just making that valid, insane cost comparison, and not at all suggesting everyone fly to France for a tooth extraction.

      The historic, and ever increasing. lack of affordable dental care for millions in the US is, and always has been, criminal, particularly when tooth infections are so incredibly painful, and can become lethal if untreated.

      If Medicare For All becomes a reality, which I hope it does, among other much needed Medicare changes, it needs to finally offer humane dental and vision care.

      1. newcatty

        Agree…and don’t forget that people also need humane treatment of hearing impairments. Many, and more people are hearing impaired or will develop some kind of impairment. There are some remarkable innovations being developed ,or already developed , for hearing impairments. It is another example of exploitation of people: hearing aides, on the whole, are distributed through audiologists in business settings. The price of good, or better, hearing aides is outrageous. Thousands of dollars…and often this is the cost per ear.

        Being able to hear, especially others in a conversational setting, is essential in personal, business and all communications. It seems obvious, but hearing impairments have long been considered not that important. Of course some of that attitude has been because it’s just “natural” for old people to “go a little deaf”. Now, many people in younger cohorts are becoming hearing impaired. So ,is getting a bit more attention.

        Dental, vision and hearing assistance and treatments are, indeed, needed to be included in Medicare for All.

        1. smoker

          Had not known hearing treatment and aids was so expensive (sigh, should have expected it though), and not at all covered like they should be, I was basing my comment on the Medicare woes my mother had, very glad you added it to the list.

      2. smoker

        Cost in Paris: $80 (in certain hospitals)

        Thinking more on that French Hospital mention, is the US (and possibly Australia) rare in being a country where Hospital emergency rooms won’t generally extract clearly dangerously infected teeth, unless the Hospital thought you might immediately die before they managed to shove you back out the door facing unbearable pain?

        The only relevant link I could find was this one: Why don’t emergency rooms handle dental emergencies?. And the top answer appears to be from an Australian Dental Surgeon:

        They do.

        If you arrived with a real emergency (swelling, ludwigs angina, spreading cellulitis etc) they would get you on an antibiotic IV drip as soon as possible to subside the swelling. They would then advise you to visit a dentist to remove the offending tooth. In a situation where that tooth needs to be gone ASAP, there is usually a maxilla-facial surgeon around to do so, but they’re usually tied up with more important issues like severe facial traumas and reconstruction cases for people recovering from cancer.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      If any of the regulars here actually, for some important reason, did want to do that, I’d gladly make the appointment and take you to the dentist. Mine usually takes about a month to get in, unless it’s an emergency. Then she’ll get you in day of or find someone else for you. Might be a little more than the price quoted. But not by much.

      The powers that be know how to contact me.

  27. xkeyscored

    re Australia’s fires and weather, by Neville Nicholls, Professor emeritus, School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University:
    The bushfires are horrendous, but expect cyclones, floods and heatwaves too” (and that’s just for this year)

    The events will stretch the ability of emergency services and the broader community to cope. …
    Continental-scale droughts such as that experienced over the past few years are often broken by widespread heavy rains, leading to an increased risk of flooding including potentially lethal flash floods. …
    The tropical cyclone season has been much delayed, as predicted by the bureau, although there are now signs of cyclonic activity in the near future. Cyclones often bring welcome rains to drought-affected communities. But we should not overlook the serious damage these systems may bring such as coastal flooding and wind damage – again requiring intervention from emergency services. And we are still a month away from the riskiest time for heatwaves in southern Australia. We’ve already had some severe heatwaves this summer. However they usually peak in the middle and end of summer, so the worst may be yet to come.

    1. polecat

      I’m kinda getting the feeling that your PM (along with his government cronies) is soon to be toast !

        1. The Rev Kev

          If Boris does not work out, perhaps we can send you Scotty from Marketing. He isn’t doing anything at the moment.

  28. BoyDownTheLane

    RE: Tooth Removal
    “So, spend $1k in SF, or $580 in France, including a weekend in Paris”

    I want a head count of the people here who, suffering from a healthy case of dental pain, are going to hail a Uber, drive to the airport, stand in the TSA queue, wait on the tarmac, fly overseas on a flight that takes hours, de-plane, hail a French Uber, etc. I want to know how many of them can get themselves self-triaged right off the plane into that quaint little French hospital that probably also serves patisseries and a really, really, good wine and cheese plate when the anesthesia wears off.

    1. smoker

      Nobody I’ve ever met, nor should they have to, in a humane society.

      I’d also like a head count of those who have $580 to spend for something that takes under an hour to perform, with minimal associated costs (a wrench that can perform thousands of extractions, and the pain number, or not).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I want a head count of the people here who, suffering from a healthy case of dental pain

      That’s an edge case. I had a rotten wisdom tooth and was so stressed by the U.S. clinic — they wanted to give me general anesthesia to remove it — that I waited six months and traveled to do it.

  29. Waking Up

    Re: “Pelosi says House will introduce ‘War Power Resolution’ aimed to limit Trump’s Iran military action”

    I’m not sure if Congressional “leaders” and members are stupid beyond belief (which is a possibility), but, as Michael Hudson recently stated, “Congress endorsed Trump’s assassination and is fully as guilty as he is for having approved the Pentagon’s budget with the Senate’s removal of the amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that Bernie Sanders, Tom Udall and Ro Khanna inserted an amendment in the House of Representatives version, explicitly not authorizing the Pentagon to wage war against Iran or assassinate its officials.” Now they want to pretend they weren’t complicit??

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Of course that’s what they want to pretend, because everything, 100% without exception, is political now. Used to be we got at least 10% actual policy and strategic stuff but those days are long gone.

      The Vandalay Industries School of Social Progress:

      Get Trump to do the exact opposite of what you want, no matter how outlandish it is. Dems will be hair on fire “OMG we can’t let THAT happen!”

    2. mpalomar

      To get the NDAA past Senate Repubiicans, Democrats ‘bargained’ away “restrictions on Trump’s war-making powers” and “prohibited U.S. military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and… banned the sale of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “

      “Joe Cirincione, a former House Armed Services staffer who is now president of the nonproliferation organization Ploughshares Fund, said, ‘the House Democrats got completely rolled… they caved on every single national security policy.’ ”

      “Yet Adam Smith, the Washington Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee and who led the House conferees, has seemed resigned to losing so many battles in conference and recently suggested it was the product of political reality.

      ‘I’ve been told consistently over the course of the last two or three months that I just have to negotiate harder,” Smith said at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday. ‘I was like, ‘Can I do that? How does that work exactly? Can you spell that out to me? Do I, like, hold my breath? Do I, like, physically attack?’ They are where they are, OK? And you know, you have to respect that.’ ”

      In short, “a bill of astonishing moral cowardice.” – Rep Ro Khanna, Sen Bernie Sanders

    3. mpalomar

      “Now they want to pretend they weren’t complicit??”
      You betcha! While they were busy noisily impeaching him news cycle after news cycle they were also less noisily, quietly almost, willing to trust Trump to play nicely with MIC toys in the ME tinder box.

  30. DMiller


    Bill Clinton – Fool me once, shame on you.
    Barack Obama – Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden – I won’t be fooled again but you aren’t even trying to fool me. You either forget the election rhetoric of Bill and Barack or you want to lose.

  31. xkeyscored

    Mixed signals – is this Trumpian disorientation strategy?

    US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has denied US troops are pulling out of Iraq, after a letter from a US general there suggested a withdrawal.

    The letter appeared to have been sent by Brig Gen William H Seely, head of the US military’s task force in Iraq, to Abdul Amir, the deputy director of Combined Joint Operations.
    It starts: “Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament, and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR (Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve) will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”
    The letter says certain measures, including increased air traffic, will be conducted “during hours of darkness” to “ensure the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner”.

    1. xkeyscored

      I’m surprised nobody else appears to have commented on this. Talk of troop movements and increased air traffic during the hours of darkness sound ominous to me, even if the letter is being passed off as a draft or a mistake. If they wanted to pull out, wouldn’t daylight mean everyone can see that they are leaving, not redeploying?

  32. tomk

    The FT Alphaville article on Martin Armstrong’s self published anti-MMT book commits the elementary mistake of confusing a high priced ebay listing with an actual transaction. It the author had cared and known to do a sold search they would have learned that the book has not sold for $3900, as claimed, at least not in recent weeks on ebay.

  33. Patrick Donnelly

    Recall the Iran/Iraq war…. Shias from Iraq fought Sunnis from Iran. Both US backed regimes were more stable thereafter.

    Popular General dead, Iran regime more stable.

    The USA is saving Iran from democracy ….

    Stop reading all media owned by the bankers!

Comments are closed.