Links 2/8/18

BBC (furzy). Great photos.

Inhabitat (resilc)

TreeHugger (resilc)

Weather.com (Kevin W)

Google’s move to bring Nest back into the fold is a sign it’s taking the huge threat from Amazon seriously Business Insider (Kevin W)

Guardian (EM)

Bloomberg

Wired (David L)

Bloomberg

BBC (David L)

The 74 (Chuck L)

Huffington Post. Oregoncharles: “Huffpo is deeply unimpressed. Moi: it would be nice if the FDA wasn’t openly corrupt.” Moi: Hardly the first case. GHB was another. It was a fundamental threat to prescription sleeping pills, since it produced a higher quality sleep and was out of your system in 4 hours. No side effects. So Big Pharma started a bogus “date rape drug” scare, and now it’s a Schedule 1 drug.

Euractiv

Financial Times

The Journal (PlutoniumKun)

Brexit

Financial Times

BBC. Our Richard Smith is now officially an “illicit finance expert”!

Independent

Syraqistan

DW

Defense One (resilc)

al Monitor (Chuck L)

BBC

Wall Street Journal

Asia Times

Intercept (AFXH). From last month, still important.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Motherboard (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Business Insider (David L)

Trade Traitors

Politico

Public Citizen

Trump Transition. Weirdly quiet on this front…

The Hill

Vanity Fair (resilc)

The Hill

Bloomberg

FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

The Baffler (resilc). A great rant.

New York Magazine. Resilc: “Never thought I’d see the FBI as Democratic party heros. Maybe when we get a Demo pres we can have an FBI parade.”

Counterpunch

Boing Boing. Resilc saw a shout-out to NC!

Reuters. EM: “While this seems eminently sensible on the surface, note the Russia! Russia! backdrop.”

ars technica (Chuck L)

OilPrice

Reuters (EM)

Atlantic (Chuck L)

Police State Watch

S Splinter (Chuck L)

Glenn Greenwald, Intercept (Dr. Kevin). Wowsers.

VoxEU

Class Warfare

Bill Mitchell

Ecosophia (UserFriendly)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Oh look! An Abyssinian disguised as a rabbit! I wonder if the bottoms of her feet are black. 😊 (Cottontail Rabbit in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.)”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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106 comments

  1. Michael Fiorillo

    FYI, “The 74” is a billionaire-funded mouthpiece for school privatization and teacher union busting.

    It’s also more than a little ironic that they’re lauding the return of play to the kindergarten classroom, since their funders are the one’s who took it away in the first place.

    Kindergarten? Nein.
    Kinder Fabrik? Ja.

    Don’t be fooled, these people are dishonest and evil.

    1. Arizona Slim

      When I went to kindergarten, it was little more than playtime.

      Then, at the end of the school year, shhhhh! got real. We kids were given a reading readiness test.

      Little Slim noticed that the questions were poorly worded, and I pointed this out to the teacher. Oops. Bad move. She got angry and flunked me.

      Well, my mom stomped into that kindergarten and demanded a copy of the test. And, lookie-lookie. Poorly worded questions all over that thing.

      Mom wasn’t about to subject me to another year in that kindergarten. She enrolled me in first grade, even though I was still five years old.

      Guess who was the first kid to learn how to read in that first grade class. Moi, that’s who.

      I remain an avid reader to this day, and so is my mom. Oh, and did I mention that both of us are skeptics when it comes to the validity of standardized tests?

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        You’re skepticism of the standardized tests was precocious, correct and still valid.

        The only difference between then and now is that the tests today are used as a weapon against public schools and their teachers, and as a way to hype charter schools.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          +10,000

          When my grandson was devastated because he “failed” his standardized test, my daughter-in-law asked me to look some of the questions and answers over as a professional editor. I was appalled.

          1. Procopius

            That’s why they’re so adamant about not letting copies of the questions out. The people who are paid big bucks for creating these tests know that they lack face validity. That is, the tests do not actually test what they claim to test. Also, they are often poorly worded, so the students have to try to figure out what the test designers had in mind (in other words, they are testing mind reading ability, not reading comprehension). Many people already know this, but if more people could see the tests they would understand what a racket is being perpetrated. I believe Bill Gates has never seen one of the tests he paid to have written.

      2. Baby Gerald

        ‘Oh, and did I mention that both of us are skeptics when it comes to the validity of standardized tests?’

        Your skepticism regarding standardized testing is more well-founded that you might imagine. I’m currently reading a great book called War Against The Weak by historian Edwin Black. It’s about the rise of the eugenics movement in the late 19th and early 20th century.

        One of the most jaw-dropping revelations in this well-written and heavily notated book is how the standardized test came into existence. I don’t have the book with me now because it’s in my locker at work, but I will try summarize it as best I can from memory.

        The army, when drafting soldiers for World War I, wanted a test they could administer to its draftees to rank their intellectual competence. Along came some eugenicists who developed a test in two versions- a written one and a visual one for the illiterate or those who couldn’t speak or write English (as we had so many immigrant draftees whose first language wasn’t English). They filled the written test with questions mostly about pop culture. For instance, one asked the test taker who ‘Velvet Joe’ was. Thus, if you were from a city, owned a radio or could read a newspaper, you scored highly on the exam. The visual test asked the test taker to ‘complete the picture’. A postcard was missing its stamp. A baseball field was missing a pitchers mound. That sort of thing. Again, scoring highly indicated not one’s higher intellectual capacity but one’s access to and understanding of popular culture.

        Long story short, the tests found that more than 80% of draftees were below their age in intellectual ability.

        The same folks who wrote these tests would go on to form the College Board, our friends who dole out the SAT exam every year. Anyway, read the book- it’s a fantastic account of how high-level academia teamed up with robber baron industrial moguls like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Mellon, and Harriman to figure out ways to prevent the lesser classes and immigrant populations (non-nordic types) from overrunning their beloved country.

        If this sounds interesting, believe me, the book gets even better when you see how these ideas spread to Europe a few decades later.

          1. Baby Gerald

            You’re welcome! Edwin Black is a great writer- his flow and writing style is conducive to long stints of reading. I work in a library and discovered him when his book IBM And The Holocaust crossed my path a few years ago. Once I started I couldn’t put it down. It left me stunned. Especially the bit about Thomas J Watson receiving an award and letter of thanks from Hitler himself.

            You can also find videos of Edwin Black discussions and presentations on YouTube, but these don’t cover as much of the nitty gritty details as you’ll find in his books.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, and the Cold Spring Harbor Research Laboratory on Long island, which still exists, was integral to the “science” of eugenics.

          Each and every time your hear the pseudo-scientific term “psychometrics,” think “eugenics.”

        2. Procopius

          I haven’t read this book, but an excellent one on the subject is Stephen Jay Gould’s, The Mismeasure of Man. He also discusses in quite accessible language the statistical techniques people like Charles Murray use to mislead. The book was originally written before Murray’s The Bell Curve, and a second edition was brought out to address some of the points Murray brought up. I love Gould’s other work, as well. Mostly collections of his articles from Natural History magazine.

  2. Skip Intro

    I, for one, would like to see Richard Smith awarded an ambiguity-eliminating hyphen. Hopefully Illicit-Finance Expert…

    1. Kokuanani

      Or if writers were a bit less word-stingy, they could just [correctly] call him an “expert on illicit finance.”

      Requires too much of their brain power [sic], I guess.

  3. epynonymous

    A really dire, quality report on US spec ops troops in north Syria fighting ‘turkish militias’

    Worth watching twice.

    1. m

      USA is sick we fund ISIS won’t allow Syrian forces & Russia into Raqqa, Now we support the Kurds. We are there illegally. Russia having a peace conference and we continue to stir the pot. Stupid. Our tax dollars spent on this nonsense & who benefits?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        You need to ask? Offshore billionaire shareholders of Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, et al. Can’t have all that inventory sitting in a warehouse somewhere, we need turnover! So people must die, somewhere, it’s America’s value proposition. Sip your latte while you check your Raytheon stock on your cool new app, and pay no mind to the fact your country just blew the legs off a five-year old girl. Ewww! Swipe right, get rid of that, hey did you see the pic of the kid eating the Tide Pod?

        1. m

          I have friends that left the service and are working as contractors in Afghanistan. No one cares unless we have “boots on the ground,” but these private military are the same thing. Our insane foreign policy makes me sick. Trump is putting his feet up on the desk and letting the “experts” do their thing. We are killing so many people and destroying so many countries for our greedy leaders. Where can I emigrate to that won’t have a color revolution in the next decade?

          1. Procopius

            I would recommend Thailand, but it’s not at all clear we won’t have a “color revolution” in the next decade. Seems to me it’s about time for the next coup, anyway. They used to come about every four years, same as elections in the U.S. There’s ongoing tension between the current junta and popular political opinion.

    2. kris

      The article on Syria begins: “It’s a war America has tried to stay out of for years.”

      That was it. I burst out laughing.

  4. RabidGandhi

    The al-Monitor piece on a possible Iran/KRG rapprochement is vertigo-inducing for any mere mortal trying to keep track of the shifting loyalties in the mideast. It bears recalling that KRG is ruled by the Barzani family, who have (curiously not mentioned in the al-Monitor article) and Turkey, but

    Al-Monitor has learned that the delegation headed by Barzani explained to the Iranians in clear terms that their over-reliance on Turkey and the West — including the Americans — in recent years was misplaced and that they will from now on readjust their policies to reflect the position of Iran in Iraq and in the region.

    The Iranians do well to mistrust such overtures and exact as many concessions as possible (eg., security guarantees), but if true, this could mark a tectonic shift in the region.

    So for those of you keeping score at home, since the 2003 Iraq invasion, Iran has won (1) the elimination of a hostile government in Afghanistan; (2) the overthrow of hostile Saddam Hussein and the election of a Shiite government in Baghdad; (3) increased backing from Russia; (4) the solidification of the pro-Iran Assad administration in Syria; (5) increasing alignment with Turkey; and (6) now a possible buffer against Kurdish nationalism in Iran– all with significant help (own goals) from Washington.

    With enemies like this, who needs friends?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The whole merry-go-round is both fascinating and horrifying at the same time. I remember back when the US invaded Iraq Slate magazine ran a semi-serious ‘Kurd Sell-out Watch’ article (or something like that, I can’t recall the exact terms), wondering when the US would sell out its new allies. Ironically, the US has more or less stood by them, when probably they should have been a little less faithful. The Kurds are in a very unenviable situation, constantly having to seek the less-worst option among allies. I don’t doubt that all the various Kurdish factions are realising that the US is a weakening force and so are coming to the conclusion that they have to make nice to Assad and the Iranians and probably lots of other people they’ve been busy pissing off the past few years.

      As you say, Iran has been incredibly lucky in its enemies.

      1. paul

        Totally off topic, I watched ‘Cardboard Gangsters’ last night and while enjoyed might be too much, I found much to appreciate.
        There was a grudging credit to the irish broadcast authority, but none of the cued mil falte stuff.

        The main actor,despite looking he’d been on intravenous spam for most of his life, was sensational.

        Despite having irish parents, I had to concentrate hard to keep up with the dialogue.

        To stay within the house guidelines, where on earth does this fit with the moden,succesful varadker Ireland?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I haven’t seen it, but it must be said that Irish filmmakers have something of an obsession with examining gangster life in Dublins northside. Most of those filmmakers are entirely clueless, as they went to posh schools and what they know about gangster life was learned from watching Scorsese movies and reading the Sunday World (or the Wurrddled, as its pronounced in parts of Dublin).

          Although to be fair Cardboard Gangsters is written by the lead actor , who is from a traveller (gypsy) background and genuinely grew up in very deprived circumstances. He’s become known as the acceptable face of the wrong side of the tracks, if you know what I mean. He knows what he’s talking about, even if he is prone I think to a bit of self-mythologising. The film is set in one of the roughest districts of the north city suburbs, very much a place out of sorts with even regular working class neighbourhoods. It was a ‘model’ social housing scheme from the early 1970’s, when the inhabitants of the worst inner city slums were decamped for their own good (or so they were told). Not that I’m defending Irish social policy or Varadkar, but it is one of those places impervious to attempts to civilise it.

          Even as a northside Dub, I find it hard to follow the accent in some of those places. Although sometimes its a case of having the right ear for it – just last night I was with a Vietnamese friend, who learned her English from listening to the radio – the tram we were travelling in was full of youth on their way to the Kendrick Lamar gig. She was hilarious as she took off their accent and slang, the guys beside us were a bit taken aback at how pitch perfect she was, they were convinced she was born and raised in Dublin.

          Dublin dialects are a rich and varied work in itself – the diary in the Irish Times has been exploring the posher varieties for 2 decades now and its still reaping comedy gold.

          1. paul

            Most of those filmmakers are entirely clueless

            That’s what I was surprised about it, the whole film had an arc of what a grim, inescapable environment creates and extinguishes.

          2. paul

            Irish filmmakers have something of an obsession with examining gangster life

            We had all that, and still do.

            There was a lot of ‘no mean city’ bullshit around glasgow which culminated in jimmy boyle’s supposed rehabilitation which was as twisted as his criminal life.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Read about a boss once that people who worked for him tried to understand in terms of the way that he fired people. Eventually they came to the realization that whenever this boss hired someone that he then planned at what point he was going to fire them after using them for all that he could. He apparently had a file of firing dates for all his employees stashed away. I wonder if major powers think along the same lines with their vassals? Right now, somebody should tell the Kurds about Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football.

    2. Synoia

      My parents live in the ME in the 40’s and early ’50s.

      I can remember discussions about Baathists, Kurds and Kurdistan from the ’50s.

      When Bush Jr stated the Iraq war, the news was like a flashback to that time, and the “talking heads” displayed a total ignorance of the “historic rivalries” in the area. Not that I’m an expert, I just remember the head-shaking.

      Noting had changed (except bigger bombs), and noting has changed.

      US and Turkey (NATO) v Russia
      US and Kurds v Al Quaeda or ISIS
      US and ISIS v Syria
      Al Quaeda v Syria (and Russia)
      Turkey and Al Quaeda v Kurds and Syria

  5. ChiGal in Carolina

    Thanks, UserFriendly, for the link on Zeno and the Stoics. I need to reread the Enchiridion. Easy to forget how much comfort sanity in an insane world can bring.

    1. DJG

      ChiGal in Carolina: The article on Zeno and the Stoics and freedom is indeed well done. However, I just finished reading On the Nature of Things by Lucretius in the spirited A.E. Stallings translation. I re-read Lucretius every few years, and Stallings set a high bar for her work: endecasyllabic lines with rhyme!

      Also, I recommend The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt on the rediscovery of the most reliable manuscripts of Lucretius, which happened in the 1400s.

      Lucretius, who believed in free will, having learned his Epicurus well, was also skeptical of the Stoics, who tended to rely on divine authority for the ordering of the world. The freedom of Epicurus (and as offered by the Buddha) is more challenging: The freedom to calm the mind in a troubled world that cannot be put in order by the gods.

      1. blennylips

        Thank you for that link. In a lighter, yet still instructive vein, there is the existential comics: and .

  6. BillK

    Re: Leave-voting areas to be hit hardest by Brexit

    This made me smile. :)
    A ‘secret’ Government report (maybe prepared by pro-EU London Civil Service?) says that the Northern manufacturing areas will be worst hit by Brexit.
    So, not only is the EU determined to punish the UK for daring to Brexit, but London wants to punish the areas of the UK that dared to vote for Brexit.
    London financial services are so hooked on the EU gravy train that they will try anything to keep the money flowing into London. Perhaps they should have shared some of the gravy with the North and then the North wouldn’t have voted for Brexit?
    London just doesn’t understand the problems that deprivation and immigration is causing in the North.

      1. Arizona Slim

        My last visit to England was during the late 1970s. Even then, I was astounded by the level of hatred that the rest of the country had for London.

        I mean, we Americans aren’t always in the Washington, DC fan club, but we have nothing on Englishmen and women They could really teach us how to hate our Nation’s Capital.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          True enough (re DC and US and London and UK), but London and Paris are like if we rolled New York, DC, and San Francisco into one. Maybe a frisson of Cambridge, MA, and Hollywood thrown in, as well. Americans would really hate that city — and rightly so!

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Losing Sight: A 4-Year-Old Girl Was the Sole Survivor of a U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan. Then She Disappeared. Intercept (AFXH). From last month, still important.

    Such a depressing read (but top class journalism and writing, I’m sceptical sometimes of the Intercept, but sometimes it hits gold). One of the less commented upon aspects of the US Imperium is the odd interrelationship between the military and some fundamentalist Christian groups. You can go back to the Korean War and the ‘rescuing’ of so many orphans by some Church organisations (nobody asking who made them orphans).

    1. RabidGandhi

      There’s also the ancillary stories of the “GI babies” who were treated miserably by both sides, perhaps most emblematically with Operation Babylift and the C-5 crash at Tan Son Nhut that resulted in the death of some 75 children who were being “rescued from the clutches of the communists”.

      That said, as far as churches and war go, those of us in the empire’s nether regions will always remember the valiant role that many (mostly protestant midwestern) churches played in the Latin American Solidarity Movement against the US’s war on Central America.

  8. The Rev Kev

    The mention of Elon Musk reminded me of something that I just woke up to last night. Musk, not that long ago, delivered a grid-scale lithium ion storage battery in the state of South Australia in under 100 days and thereby won a $US13 million bet. This came hot on the heels of that state losing almost all power after a electrical cascade failure caused by a powerful storm in September of 2016. Now Musk has announced that an even more powerful battery will be built to in more electricity into the power grid. This of course is making Australian conservatives put on their sad faces as they were trying to use the South Australian blackout as proof that renewables don’t work and all climate change policies should be abandoned.
    Being a cynic, or worse yet a realist, I began to wonder why someone like Musk would lavish such attention on one of the lesser states of Australia (no offense to any “crow-eaters” reading this statement) and why he would not choose an equivalent American state like Oklahoma. After all, probably all his best people live in the US. We now know that Peter Thiel bought himself New Zealand citizenship years ago but there has never been any rumour of Musk using his wealth in buying Australian citizenship so why the interest in that particular place? And then last night the penny dropped.
    His launch of the SpaceX mission to send one of his cars towards Mars would perhaps have baffled his supposed hero Hari Seldon but it would have met the full-hearted approval of Delos “D. D.” Harriman whom I suspect he is really basing his life on. No matter. The question is why South Australia. It may have something to do with the fact that back in the 60s there was a rocket base at Woomera () in South Australia which was helping Australia develop what was potentially a space port before Menzies killed it off in the sixties. In fact, during the 1950s and 1960s, the complex was the second busiest rocket range in the world next to Cape Canaveral. The area has been not only used to test military gear but also to launch satellites. As recently as 2002, the first successful flight of a hypersonic scramjet engine was launched from here.
    Musk has been using NASA facilities and god knows how many government contracts to lever himself into perhaps trying to corner the market in launch capability. It may be that he is looking for an already developed rocket range to establish a secondary facility that would not make him too dependent on the US government’s good graces for using their facilities. Maybe give him leverage in future negotiations. Something to consider.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I suspect that the reason he built the battery for Australia is because his Gigafactory in Nevada is producing more batteries than his Tesla factory in California is producing Model 3s that can use them.

      1. a different chris

        But I think the question was “why send it all the way to Australia, when they could be used in Oklahoma?”.

    2. Synoia

      One goes after a market (S Australia) in an opportunistic manner.

      Oklahoma is a bastion of wind (energy). Not solar.

      Woomera maybe too far south for a good rocket launching site. The closer to the equator the better – better boost to launch velocity.

    3. Tony Wikrent

      Musk has been very open and explicit about what motivates him: developing a way to save humanity from itself. He concluded that this requires 3 things: electric vehicles, storage capacity for renewables, and the capability to get humanity started on Mars in case the worst case of ecological suicide comes to pass.

      Money? Yeah, he wants it, but only because it’s needed as a means to his ends. That’s why so many of his employees, including engineers and scientists with doctorates, adore him. He’s not a profit grubbing pig like the buttwipes on Wall Street and in most executive suites are. The money is what is needed, given the way the world is currently organized — following conservative / libertarian / neoliberal “free market” doctrines — to conduct the research, build the equipment, test it, and deploy it.

      I quite understand if most people don’t believe this. All I can write is: watch a few interviews of Musk, or read the biography of him by Ashlee Vance, and see for yourself.

      In the classic republicanism on which the USA was founded as a republic, but which has been supplanted by capitalism, Musk is an exemplar of civic virtue.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Believing or not aside, who is going to save Mars, if Musk is saving humanity by transplanting it to that planet?

        Will Friends-of-Mars speak up?

    4. subgenius

      A pertinent little something I stumbled across yesterday (a bit of a rant, uses nonfamily block phrases here and there)

    5. integer

      The fact that Australia is in the process of starting a multi-billion dollar space program lends credence to your theory:

      9/25/17

      JOURNALIST: How big will the Australian space agency be and when will it be implemented?

      PRIME MINISTER: It’s being announced today. It’s a small agency designed to coordinate and lead, but the space sector of course is one of enormous potential. We already have many Australian companies participating in it and it’s an example of, you know, it is part of our innovation economy, our innovation and science economy.

      ABC Australia

      The Government has not announced where the agency will be based, but South Australian senator Simon Birmingham says the state will benefit.

      “Given our unique geography, we can be confident that South Australia will be central and a key beneficiary of any growth related to space agency-type activity,” the Government frontbencher said.

      Last week, South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill said he wanted his state to take a leading role in a new agency.

      Another pertinent fact is that Australia is well positioned to monitor missions when US facilities are facing in the wrong direction; it was a NASA facility in Australia that received the data transmissions from the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Taking your theory a step further, and looking at the key dates, it is plausible that it was Musk himself who, having gained access via the South Australian battery project, convinced the Australian government to launch this new space program. Here’s an article from July 2017:

      CNN

  9. foghorn longhorn

    See where the younger Bush the Stupid has put away his finger paintings and is fully aboard the putinputinputin russiarussiarussia train.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      A train being pulled by rob reiner who tweeted:

      When you libel James Clapper and John Brennan you libel America. The desperate attack on men who have given over 90 years of dedicated service to our country is clear evidence of a conscientiousness of guilt.

      Oh, meathead!!!

      Glenn Greenwald was not amused:

      This wretched dreck has been re-tweeted 9,000 times. “When you libel James Clapper and John Brennan you libel America.” It’s like something a John Wayne drag queen would say in order to caricature his vapid über-patriotism. This mentality is deranged, and spreading: …

      (Yeah, I don’t know how to do links.)

      reiner has apparently made a video in which he gives clapper and brennan some “progressive” credentials. This slow descent into madness is so difficult to watch. This a.m. on morning joe reiner was shrieking that “We’ve been invaaaaaaaded!!!!!”

      1. Brian

        One gets the impression that Reiner the Younger has done something that has compromised his freedom and his loyalty is now only to his handler.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Why does one get that impression? It seems very simple to believe that Reiner is a disappointed Jonestown Clintonite embittered over the non-coronation of his Cult Leader.

      2. Jim Haygood

        We’ve been invaaaaaaaded!!!!!

        Say it again, y’all:

        An FBI informant connected to the Uranium One controversy told three congressional committees in a written statement that Moscow routed millions of dollars to America with the expectation it would be used to benefit Bill Clinton’s charitable efforts while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quarterbacked a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations.

        The informant, Douglas Campbell, said in the statement obtained by The Hill that he was told by Russian nuclear executives that Moscow had hired the American lobbying firm APCO Worldwide specifically because it was in position to influence the Obama administration, and more specifically Hillary Clinton.

        “The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.”

        Had Hillary been featured in the Roadrunner cartoons along with Wile E Coyote, Campbell’s statement would be a case of APCO explosives blowing up in her face.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          “Nunes memo fails to move the debate”

          Yes, apparently America and her inhabitants do not care one little bit that the FBI runs the selection of the president.

          So from here it gets pretty meta, smart grifter billionaires who want their person in office can simply spread some cash and other toys with the right middle-upper FBI staff and execs. There’s no risk of prosecution for breaking so-called “laws” anymore, and a party voter database and door-to-door canvassing are no match for the tools the spooks can bring to the game. All of this Red/Blue nonsense is so inefficient! And the spooks have a direct line to the media so there are huge cost savings there too.

          So if we’re gonna be a laughable banana republic were billionaires pick the leader, let’s embrace it! Maybe instead of a TV show “Who Wants to be a Billionaire?” we can have one “Who Wants to be President?”. The show is full of hijinks and lovable characters like “The Big Pharma Price-Gouger”, “The Real Estate Evictor” and “The Wall St Thief”, they have to answer trick questions from a panel of FBI agents. You could even have the inauguration right on the spot for the winner, people could tune in and know right away what flavor of corporo-fascism they’ll live under until the next season of the show rolls around!

      3. The Rev Kev

        Oh god! It took about 40 years to do it but Rob Reiner has now made Archie Bunker seem like a reasonable progressive. Even Archie Bunker’s hero – Richard Nixon – is being rehabilitated. What would the Big Chill group have to say about that!

      4. integer

        Connecting a few dots, Rob Reiner appears to have significant connections to Arnon Milchan:

        The Hollywood Reporter

        Beyond the number of films screened and the festival’s nomadic history, Fenigstein has also, with what some call his “force of will,” created an event where some of the biggest names in Hollywood have taken part or lent support. This year’s honorary committee includes Michael Douglas, Bette Midler and Rob Reiner, with festival chairman duties in the hands of Arnon Milchan.

        For those who are unfamiliar with Arnon Milchan:

        The Guardian

        The Hollywood producer behind box office hits including Fight Club, Pretty Woman and LA Confidential has spoken about his life as an Israeli secret agent and arms dealer, saying he was proud of working for his country.

        Arnon Milchan gave a lengthy interview to the Israeli documentary programme Uvda, broadcast on Monday on Channel 2, confirming claims made earlier in an unauthorised biography that he worked for an Israeli agency that negotiated arms deals and supported Israel’s secret nuclear weapons project.

        When looked at from from this angle, it all makes sense. Interestingly, the CIA’s first project is widely regarded as having been the destabilization of Syria in 1949, approximately one year after after the state of Israel was established.

        1. integer

          FWIW the CIA was established in 1947, approximately one year before before* the state of Israel was established.

          * I figure the extra “before” in this comment should cancel out the extra “after” in my previous comment. Grammatical arithmetic.

            1. integer

              No. A time before another time which occured an arbitrary amount of time before the present is still before the present, hence two befores is equal to one before, and the latter before is redundant. This where my newly discovered field of grammatical arithmetic comes into play; a redundant “before” and a redundant “after” cancel each other out. Expressed mathematically:

              (after)ª + (before)ª = 0

              ª indicates term in brackets is redundant.

      5. integer

        Adding: Reiner’s use of the word “conscientiousness” rather than “conscience” in that tweet is quite an amusing Freudian slip.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Oh, man, that reminds me of something. I need to practice my pronunciation of the Russian words for “please” and “thank you.” When conversing with Russians, those two are very important.

      1. paul

        please,thank you,yes no and maybe will get you a long way in any country.

        I’m still strugging to use the last three in my own language.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Maybe this link might be of use-

        There seems to be plenty of Russian language channels out there. Always useful to know how to speak to our new Russian Overlords. :)

  10. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    The ” Aisha ” Intercept article covers a subject that I now realise I had only skimmed the surface of, it felt like the written version of being forced as if by the throat & heart, into vastly darker & terrible depths.

  11. allan

    [The Hill]

    A literal wall. No word yet on whether Mexico will pay for it:

    Tensions between Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have reportedly become so hostile that GOP members of the committee are planning to build a literal wall separating the two parties’ staffers.

    The partition is expected to be constructed this spring in the committee’s secure spaces, according to CBS News.

    Some Republican members of the committee said they were unaware of the plans for the wall. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) suggested that the idea came from GOP Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.)

    “I’m not part of that decision,” Conaway told CBS. “You’ve got to talk to Devin. I don’t know what they’re trying to do one way or the other.”

    Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) told CBS that the relationship and trust between Republicans and Democrats on the committee is “poison,” but strongly denied knowing about the wall.

    “I swear to God I didn’t know that,” he said. …

    When you’ve lost Tom Rooney …

    1. Jim Haygood

      Fueling partisan hostilities today:

      Randy Bryce
      @IronStache

      Paul Ryan said he won’t call a vote on DACA unless the president supports it. This is the same president whose chief of staff just called these young immigrants ‘lazy.’

      Paul Ryan puts his party and the president ahead of working people just trying to get by, yet again.
      10:53 AM – 7 Feb 2018

      Nancy Pelosi vowed during an unprecedented eight-hour speech yesterday to oppose the budget bill unless Speaker Paul Ryan agrees to open debate on an immigration bill.

      If Congress can’t pass a spending bill tonight, the government will shut down at 12:01 am Friday morning.

      I’m with Nancy on this one. California libre!

  12. Jim Haygood

    A ten-thousand-peep plunge in the 4-week average of unemployment claims to 224,500 (signifying economic strength) send Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator ripping higher this week. Chart:

    Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort index eased a couple of ticks from last week’s multi-year high while industrial materials prices motored down half a percent. But them’s just skeeter bites — the economy’s en fuego, as the ol’ 10-year T-note yield clanks ominously toward its five-year high of three percent.

    Atlanta Fed’s GDPnow is sticking with 4.0 percent groaf in the first quarter.

    As soon as the sun goes down
    I find my way to the Mustang Lounge
    And if you don’t sit facing the window
    You could be in any town

    — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Cumberland Gap

    1. Wukchumni

      “House Intel Republicans plan to wall off their aides from Democratic staffers”
      ~~~~~~~~~~

      Why stop there?

      Build adjoining walls with ceilings, and have doors that only open from the outside on each cubicle, and furnish each domicile with the most basic of amenities-a flimsy cot, toilet and sink. Hire people to stand watch over the inhabitants 24/7, and supply them with food staples that keep them alive, but not much more than that.

  13. Fried

    One thing about salting roads that the Treehugger article doesn’t mention is that it’s nigh impossible to walk and completely impossible to ride your bike when they put salt on 5 or 10 cm of snow, as they like to do in places in the small Austrian town where I live, presumably because it’s cheap and doesn’t take much effort. I’m young still, so it’s mostly an annoyance, but if you have difficulties walking to begin with, you can just not use certain streets where they put salt even on the sidewalks without shovelling.

  14. JohnnyGL

    Anyone seen this? Looks stronger than any Trump-Russia evidence I’ve seen.

    Written testimony by paid FBI informant saying Russia was buying influence with the clintons.

    But hold on…..

    In addition to his written statement, Campbell on Wednesday was interviewed for several hours behind closed doors by staff from both parties on the Senate Judiciary, the House Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees.

    Democrats have asked that a transcript of the interview be released to the public, but a court reporter was not present for the interview and Campbell was not sworn in.

    Wait a minute….not sworn in? no court reporter? Is this some fakenews-ery? WTF?!?!?!

    Can I paraphrase Jerry Macguire? SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE!!! I WANT THE DOCS!!!! SWORN, WRITTEN TESTIMONY!!!!

    I’d forgotten how awesome this clip was….still hilarious….

    1. perpetualWAR

      That old saying goes “when you point a finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing back at you” applies here.

      Why all the “Russia, Russia, Russia” nonsense by the Dems? Because they wish to deflect from all the unlawful and immoral activity by the woman they wished to coronate. FAIL.

  15. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Why Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch is utterly depressing

    While I applaud the sentiment behind the Guardian article (as well as the author’s admission that rocket launches, and landings, are cool), I have to question statements like this:

    While there are still humanitarian crises such as that in Syria, nobody can justify vast spending on rocketry experiments.

    Doesn’t this statement surface from that same classical mentality that plagues the austerians, the IMF and, apparently, Pete Peterson?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Same dissonance here.

      I was having flashbacks to the po-faced anti-NASA virtue signalling of the 70s. “We should spend the money here on earth first!!!” And then we cut the last lunar missions and did not spend the money on any of that stuff.

      Not that I buy the man in space fantasies. Have humans ever managed a three year voyage with no ‘landfall’? Terraform the Sahara first, that would be a good demonstration of whether Mars could be made to be any use at all.

      1. Mark P.

        It’s worse than the Sahara. The sands of Mars contain an appreciable percentage of perchlorates, which are toxic.

        Not a complete deal-breaker for a Mars program, but a serious problem in all kinds of ways. Better not get any grits of sand in your suit because you’ll die, and as for growing crops in Martian soil —

        ‘Perchlorates on Mars enhance the bacteriocidal effects of UV light’

    2. a different chris

      Yeah and it was like “Musk’s money could have been spent in Syria!” .. Well half that much was, if I recall correctly, on Trumps idiotic missile launch on the unused part of Syria’s airport.

      Money is not the problem.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I think that when the day comes that the Kessler syndrome erupts and all our satellites go away, you will discover one of the main reasons why we have been spending so much money on space. Just imagine this scenario if you will-
      Christopher Columbus; “Your Highness, I have discovered a new continent. We must send fleets there to explore it further.”
      Courtier: “Your Highness. We have to alleviate conditions in our own country first before wasting treasure on such undertakings!

  16. perpetualWAR

    The article on the facial recognition glasses used by Chinese officials to catch criminals should have everyone shivering this morning. They know who the criminals are: Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Timothy Geithner, et. al……yet they must use facial recognition glasses to catch people who owe traffic fines??? OMG.

    What did Snowden say:

    “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” -Edward Snowden

  17. hemeantwell

    Chinese police are using facial-recognition glasses to scan travelers Business Insider (David L)

    Would someone please remind me of the many insurmountable obstacles to the same system being implemented in the US? I can already hear our Serve and Protectors saying “Sure, we’ll trade stop and frisk for look and scan.”

  18. Trendisnotdestiny

    Hello all!

    Been a while since I have posted, as our young child and my advanced age saps energy to think deeply about the crapification going on.

    Anyhow, I was wondering if the Naked Cap faithful had any experience with Escrow (cushion) fraud by Mortgage Loan Servicers. I won’t name names here yet, as I have to verify that our increased escrow amount (1 year into a 30 year fixed rate loan) is not due to merit of property tax nor insurance premium hikes by vendors.

    Was wondering if there is any literature or resources (worried about the CFPB now that Devaney is there) for readers here that we might use to examine the Banksters revenue generator – telling new home owners that their home closing data was errant and that their new escrows are $ (fill in the dollar amount) higher? Any information would be appreciated.

    Any experience with this? The servicer was new to us and was not a part of the original loaning process.

    Thanks,
    John in Kansas City

    1. perpetualWAR

      Everyone should be worried about the fraud committed by the servicers. I am not familiar with the escrow issue. But, my first thought would be to Google “escrow” and “whatever crooked servicer you have been given.”

      The CFPB is dismal, even with Cordray’s “leadership.” They are simply a large database of the financial crooks committing crimes against the populace. They will not provide any relief.

      That’s why I will never ever have a mortgage again.

      Sorry to be a downer, but reality sometimes bites.

      1. Trendisnotdestiny

        Thanks perpetual! Almost word for word what a trusted family member said.

        The crapification part, I guess, has to do with RESPA allowing servicers (using a HUD ruling as fake cover) to increase escrow amounts.

        For us, it is a small amount (around $250), but is definitely price gouging after about a year of servicing the account. Many are much worse off than us on this, but this is insane as a part of practice. I mean if institutions cannot get their act together after the 1st year of loan servicing, imagine the last year? George Carlin comes to mind.

        1. perpetualWAR

          Have they applied their own homeowner’s insurance and charged you for the increase? I’d check into that.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Dudley Do-wrong, as the Dow drops over 500 points [from Marketwatch]:

    Stocks’ drop to date ‘is small potatoes’

    When fedsters say “ain’t skeered,” traders’ mentality is to carry on selling.

    That’s how you empirically determine the strike price of the Japewell put.

    Let it bleed …

    1. djrichard

      Good thing that the safety net for the market only comes under attack by the market itself, not by the Fed Gov.

  20. JohnnyGL

    OMG, this has got to be a big blow to Russia-gate. Schiff looks like a complete clown on this.

    audio recording….they got him on the phone for 8 minutes, staff sent a follow up letter.

    It’s hard to see how they get lipstick on this pig.

  21. Paul Cardan

    Regarding “Zeno’s Laughter,” it’s always nice to see articles on the Stoics. They’re a fascinating, puzzling bunch. I disagree, though, with some aspects of this particular article. For one thing, Stoicism is a very poor choice for anyone who accepts the fact/value distinction. Stoics counseled acting in accordance with nature, where ‘nature’ refers to facts implying how things ought to be. For instance, given the facts about human beings, our bodily make-up, there’s a condition we ought to be in: health. To this end, some choices of food are better than others. Acting in accordance with nature is choosing to eat those foods, rather than the foods known to cause dysfunction, otherwise known as disease. Indeed, for Stoics, so choosing is the very stuff of human well-being, happiness, or what they called eudaimonia. If you accept the fact/value distinction, you undermine pretty much the whole of their ethics.

    The author’s manner of drawing that distinction is itself unworkable: “A fact is something about which everyone with roughly the same sensory and cognitive equipment can readily agree.” Note the word ‘can.’ Everyone with roughly the same sensory and cognitive equipment can readily agree that torture is immoral. Sadly, shamefully, as a matter of fact, they don’t. But can they? Is this possible? I don’t see why not.

    The example used to drive home this distinction is also misleading. If I say “peanut butter is loathsome,” this would usually be the rough equivalent of saying “yuck!” upon tasting a bit of peanut butter. True enough, it would be pointless for someone to try to convince me otherwise by pointing out evidence that I might have overlooked. But that’s because “yuck” isn’t an utterance of the kind for which evidence is marshaled. This isn’t done with that word. Contrast with “double-tap drone strikes are unjust.” Here, I would rightly expect expressions of agreement and elaboration, expressions of doubt together with consideration of similar cases, disagreement via claims about costs and benefits, etc. If anyone treated my utterance as if it were the same as saying “yuck,” they’d either be expressing contempt for criticism of US foreign policy or demonstrating their incomprehension of basic English. Claims about justice are claims for which reasons are relevant. It’s true that arguments about justice don’t always succeed in getting parties to the debate any closer to agreement. But the same very often holds for arguments about non-moral matters, facts as the author understands them. Has the author tried arguing with a Democrat about Russiagate?

  22. Tony Wikrent

    Nathan Robinson’s screed in The Guardian about SpaceX launching a Tesla roadster has some merit, but not much. It is the typical complaint about misuse of spending on science from the left: morally self-righteous, scientifically ignorant, and technologically uninformed. Even if SpaceX had offered its first Falcon Heavy launch to lift something into space for free, nobody who knows anything about aerospace would have come forward with a payload. The typical large scientific satellite or spacecraft costs minimally $100 million to $200 million, and no one is going to risk that amount of financial resources on the first-ever launch of a booster. The expectation of first launch of a booster is normally 50 percent fail, no matter how well designed and thoroughly tested the booster is. Hell, even the Delta series of boosters has a five percent expectation of failure, and that’s after 300 launches.

    The only thing utterly depressing is that such technological illiteracy is so widespread, and it was regurgitated here at NC.

    1. RMO

      Putting a modified Lotus into space seemed silly but then I realized the first launch of a new rocket system is hardly the place where any private company or government organization is going to place a major satellite so the publicity aspect of the payload over dead weight kind of makes sense. Maybe they could have offered free space for small educational satellite projects though. A heavier lift rocket, one with a greater proportion of reusable components is also a good advance of the state of the art and one that should be of great use. Before getting too enthusiastic it should be kept in mind that the payload is still considerably less than that of the Saturn V so it’s not really much of a step towards travel to Mars – not that a trip there by humans is (as far as I can tell) really in the cards with chemical rockets.

    2. ewmayer

      Re. the Musk Tesla-launch gimmick: While I agree that’s it’s a nontrivial exercise to come up with better ways to use the payload bay on this kind of high-risk proof-of-principle first launch, with a little thought some things do spring to mind. RMO’s idea of student microgravity experiments not-needing-a-payload-return, for instance. Or how about selling space to the well-heeled for the cremains of their loved ones and using the proceeds for good causes?

  23. ewmayer

    Yves, a corrigendum – my “While this seems eminently sensible on the surface, note the Russia! Russia! backdrop” comment was actually an accompaniment to the Reuters “Seattle says Facebook is violating city campaign finance law”s piece which I fwded to you.

  24. audrey jr

    Great links page today thank you to Yves.
    Syraquistan keeps getting more and more weird. Here’s the latest from Caitlin Johnstone on the Empire spreading the love of the “White Helmets” worldwide:

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    I attended the NOFA-NY conference in Saratoga Springs just this January, and as a lucky-accident part of the unstructured meet-and-mingle which happens at these conferences, I heard about a salt-free way to tractionize roads.

    Karl Hammer, founder and president of a company called Vermont Compost Company, was talking to a few people about how he and some helpers developed and tested a friction-creator to apply to roads. Local wood industries had a wood chip problem and local granite-works industries had a granite chip-and-grit problem. So Mr. Hammer states that he had developed a mix of wood chips and granite chips to apply to roads in winter. 80% wood chips and 20% granite chips mixed together and spread on snowy/ icy roads. He says it works but so far no one is interested.

    Anyone interested in this zero-salt approach can look up Mr. Hammer’s information at
    Karl Hammer
    (Founder and President)
    1996 Main Street, Montpelier VT
    (802) 793-1040
    [email protected]

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