Links 2/9/18

Core77 (resilc)

Daily Mash

Scroll. Jerri-Lynn: “Creepy! Yet another product the world doesn’t need. Autonomous slippers?”

Vice. For those of us who do not see in 3D, this is another useless innovation. And since it hasn’t been a hit in the virtual reality world, this sounds overhyped.

BBC :-(

Nautlius (witters)

MIT Technology Review (David L)

MIT Technology Review (David L)

Bloomberg. Editorial.

Investopedia. Paul R: “I think one of the tenets of MMT is that official currency’s intrinsic worth comes from the ability to pay taxes with it, so this development is amusing.”

The Wire (J-LS). More like this, please. But paltry compared to EU fines.

Guardian. PlutoinumKun:

And related to Brexit, this is what the British will be eating soon thanks to Brexit. Food safety is a very big issue in the UK, as much with Tory voters as left wingers. Even the Express and Telegraph would not dare to sell this as anything but a terrible outcome of Brexit if the UK was forced to accept imports of meat with very high levels of antibiotics.

New Atlas (David L)

Washington Post (Kevin W)

Reuters (EM)

The Sun (Kevin W)

China?

Guardian. Resilc: “I have a friend with the Inter-American dev bank. Said China has projects and traders everywhere. big ones, small ones in back waters, in cities…”

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Jacobin. Witters: “Poignant”.

Brexit. Wowsers, two big news stories in addition to the one I posted on….

Guardian. (Dr. Larry). This is huge if correct, and it probably is. How does this not blow up the coalition with the DUP? And if that happens, how are there not new elections? And if THAT happens, there is no way that the UK can get a Brexit deal done in time for it to be approved by the EU27. The near-paralysis and chaos in the Government will become total. Recall May did squat re Brexit when the Tories were stumping for her oh-so-clever snap election when it initially looked like a brilliant gambit. So how does this not produce the UK crashing out next March with no deal? What am I missing?

Financial Times. This bit of Brexit news would also have been post-worthy today, but here is the key bit. The last time I can recall Japanese officials being this blunt was during our financial crisis, when they warned that the most important thing to avoid what happened to them post-meltdown to clean up our banks. The UK is likely to be as predisposed to listen as we were.

“If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the UK — not Japanese only — no private company can continue operation,” he [ambassador Tsuruoka] said. “So, it’s as simple as that. This is all high stakes that I think all of us need to keep in mind.”

Politico

The ambassador said Japanese companies had come to the UK on the basis that they would have access to European markets: “Therefore it is expected that they will have free access”

BBC. Kevin W: “That’s not a road. That’s a cul-de-sac!” Moi: The Tory ultras had yet again threatened a showdown with May and they back off again, showing they don’t have the votes.

Bloomberg

Guardian (PlutoniumKun)

Syraqistan

New York Magazine

Moon of Alabama

LobeLog. Resilc: “Sorry, the Dept of State has been decommissioned for any and all diplomacy. Give the Kush a call.”

Richard Silverstein (Jim H)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Vice. More proof that I need to leave the US. I pay for all of my medical out of pocket and submit for reimbursement because my privacy rights are better that way. The insurer has the right to have access to all records if they pay, like the test results, as opposed to the fact that I took a test.

MIT Technology Review (David L)

Trump Transition

Common Dreams. UserFriendly: “Wow, this country sucks.”

Consortium News

The Hill

Bloomberg (resilc)

Wall Street Journal

The Hill

Defense News. Resilc: “Media hardly mentions the overseas war ops which is in addition to the normal DoD swill bucket.”

The Hill

Daily Mail (JohnnyGL)

OilPrice (resilc)

Shadowproof (UserFriendly)

Kill Me Now

CNBC (resilc)

NTK Network (UserFriendly)

Mr. Market Has a Sad

Bloomberg. Note Rogers is of the “all government debt is bad” school.

Bloomberg

American Prospect

WVNS. Dan K: “So, trucks becoming more like trains, on public roads, add in self-driving vehicles, along with poor “cost-saving” management factors, and I am reminded of the Lac-Mégantic disaster.”

Class Warfare

Common Dreams (UserFriendly). Look at how the US has lower life expectancy than most advanced economies.

The Conversation

PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Antidote du jour. From Crittermom:

The recent articles in NC regarding AI observing dairy cows reminded me of photos I’d taken of, IMHO, the ‘cutest’ of cows: Scottish Highland cattle (aka Highland cattle)

And a bonus from Dan K:

WATCH: A woman was shocked to discover her neighbor's Corgi was sneaking onto her property at night and… riding her pony?

— Katy Andersen (@KatyAndNews)

And a market-related anti-antidote…or a portent? Outis:

Someone in Italy had a real bronze bull statue (the same size as the bull statue in Manhattan) and it fell out of their apartment onto the street. h/t Enrico Verga, who wonders, perhaps a symbol of the Wall Street crash?

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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193 comments

  1. ambrit

    Please forgive me, but sometimes the “pun gene” expresses itself with abandon.
    The caption for the Bull antidote should be :”Bear with me a moment.”

    1. fresno dan

      ambrit
      February 9, 2018 at 7:34 am

      Pretty good (I would say great, but you know where that leads)
      I am having a pretty tough time understanding what this bull is suppose to look like when it is placed in its natural display stance. Its back legs are splayed out? Hmmmm…..

      And how do corgis get on ponys? Well, obviously on a ladder, but the pony knows to saddle up to the ladder?

      1. ambrit

        fresno dan;
        That’s obviously a “sparkle” pony. Magically delicious.
        The person making the ‘horrified’ discovery has a pony! Where is their unicorn? They have to have one of those too.
        The fence that the pony is standing next to is constructed like a ladder. There’s some skullduggery afoot. That could be a pit pony. Dog just has to step off of edge of pit in which pony placidly plods.

        1. cj51

          Occam’s razor: a or b?
          a. corgi lets pony out of barn and climbs on pony’s back
          b. owner of pony lifts corgi up and puts corgi on pony’s back.

          1. ambrit

            Since both aminals are common in Wales, there is a c.
            c. descendant of Merlin Ambrosius levitates corgi onto ponys’ back

    2. integer

      Anyone else finding it difficult to believe that this statue fell out of someone’s apartment onto the street? It looks more like a public art installation to me.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The stand is a an outline of the shape of the Milan Comune composed of the continents artfully superimposed on each other.

      1. Thye Rev Kev

        No, what happened is that the Bull’s portfolio did not do well in the latest crash and it threw itself out the window. It’s colleague, Bear, said: “I don’t know what happened. One minute he was there and then he was gone! It’s not like we haven’t seen stuff like this together before.”
        Bull will be buried this weekend in a service to be attended by Bear and Fearless Girl.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      The bull sculpture, by artist Christian Balzano can be seen in Milan at Via Torino, 29 until May 3rd. I tracked it down by the very distinctive orange tram, which I was familiar with. I’ll be in Milan before then and will make a point of seeing it in person.

    4. ewmayer

      My fresh-out-of-college younger sister was working for Merrill Lynch back in the early 90s, a few years after the Boesky-Milken scandal broke on Wall Street. While she was there ML decided to hold an internal “name the bull!” contest with employees submitting suggestions. Sis submitted “Ivan Bullsky”.

      I liked the bit the USA-network series Mr. Robot where a gang of the techno-anarchists use a metal-cutting saw to castrate the ML bronze bull. That would of course necessitate a followup naming contest. “Ivan Ballsky”? (In the “looking for ’em” sense).

    5. wilroncanada

      Careful ambrit, the punitentiary awaits.
      First they came for our puns, and everyone remained straight-faced; then they came for our limericks….

  2. Jim Haygood

    Heartwarming bipartisanship, comrades [from The Hill article above]:

    The House approved a sweeping budget deal early Friday morning that would fund the government through March 23 and suspend the debt ceiling for one year.

    Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team were forced to lean on both Democrats and GOP defense hawks to largely supply the votes for the budget deal.

    At a press conference earlier in the day, Ryan – flanked by a number of House Armed Services Committee members – touted the budget deal’s boost for the U.S. military.

    House Democrats just barely made up for the defections on the GOP side. A total of 73 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 67 Republicans voted against it.

    Democrats nonetheless tried to make GOP leaders sweat. They held out their votes until the final minutes, until it was clear that a majority of the GOP conference supported it.

    At first, Republicans were the only ones casting votes as Democrats sat largely in silence. Then the “no” votes ominously began piling up, only for enough Democrats to eventually neutralize the GOP defections.

    Thanks to principled Democrats — who couldn’t even get a firm commitment from Paul Ryan on DACA legislation — tattered old Pax Americana clanks on with unlimited war funding (no debt ceiling, woohoo) and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Let’s do Syria! /sarc

    1. JohnnyGL

      Military Keynesianism is ALWAYS bi-partisan!

      Helping DACA kids? Sorry, your govt just isn’t that into you….but, at least they faked it a little harder than usual. Only thing those dems understand is when you open (or don’t open) up the checkbook.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Today’s enormous budgetary windfall gives America’s value-subtraction military a huge boost toward its unwritten goal of eradicating the US middle class within ten years.

        More mil funding coupled with cheaper, more desperate cannon fodder — what’s not to like?

        USA!

        1. ambrit

          Hey, Comrade Jim. I can testify to the stealthy incursion of military conditioning into American retail. We are now being exhorted to; “Charge that metric! Do it or die!” (Die being an euphemism for being discharged, laid off, fired, kicked to the curb, downsized, indefinitely uncategorized, etc. etc.)

          1. cnchal

            Isn’t that the Amazon Effect, a type of Gresham’s dynamic where everyone else has to torture their workers to keep up?

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Everyone else won’t have to “keep up” if there are enough people ready to pay higher prices for things from non-Amazon outlets made or handled by non-tortured workers . . . to keep those non-Amazon outlets in bussiness and not torturing workers.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      So when we are at 1 trillion military budget, and the deficit is at one trillion as well, how long should I wait for the press to put two-and-two together?

      The Democrats should be hung out to dry for this. They got nothing new for this, just renewed spending on programs that were cut.

      1. Jim Haygood

        As a developer, maybe president Trump can understand what’s wrong with the budget deal from another perspective — namely, it’s bad for real estate [gasp, shudder].

        Vanguard’s VNQ, a fund of funds that holds a cross section of REITs, has been whacked for a 15 percent loss in the past couple of months as interest rates and cap rates ratchet up. Chart:

        Pouring fiscal stimulus onto an already strong economy is an epic, egregious policy error. Republicans conceived it; Democrats rubber-stamped it. Bipartisan #FAIL

        1. ambrit

          There has been fiscal stimulus poured into the economy??? Whose economy? I haven’t seen any of it. (But then, I’m just a lowly ‘deplorable.’) This time, strength is not in ‘numbers.’

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I understand robots are doing pretty well. That sector is quite strong.

            There are openings for slippers-fetching robots, for example.

      2. polecat

        Uh .. I think they’re getting fatter green envelopes, and even juicer mic-stock insider-trading options ..

        Plus RUSSSIA ! OMFG !!!

    3. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      February 9, 2018 at 7:39 am


      Rush Limbaugh:
      Meanwhile, we’re told that the national debt’s gonna wipe us out, that the deficit’s gonna wipe us out. We’ve gotta get a handle on the deficit. It’s growing because the national debt is growing.

      And I know theoretically all this is bad, but in the real world all of the apocalyptic warnings I grew up hearing have yet to happen. The national debt has not choked us. The national debt is not destroyed us. We may be living in the middle of the destruction and don’t see it yet, but for some reason I didn’t get caught up in it.
      ======================================
      For some reason, Business Week’s famous cover, “The Death of Equities” comes to mind…..
      (Rush as a contrary indicator – if Rush isn’t worrying, maybe we should)
      AND one other point. There is always this bizarre notion, given REALITY, that the extra debt will clothe the naked, the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless, etc….
      WHEN has that happened – all it has ever done is bought more military and tax cuts.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Well remember that Dick Cheney, aka The Dark Prince once said: “You know,…Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.”

        1. JBird

          That’s right Darth Cheney is still alive. Is he on ninth heart? He’s like Tricky Dick’s Consigliere, Henry “Realpolitik” Kissinger as he just won’t die. Lie, cheat, steal, betray, and murder anything so long as the United States Government got what he thought it needed or maybe just wanted. It’s no wonder our country’s foreign policy is such an evil disaster.

          Yet, those two people are honored, respected, and feted elder statesmen.

          I would not shocked if they had a chat years ago at some dark crossroads with a gentleman named Mr. Scratch.

          Side note, I was thinking about voting for Clinton considering Trump, but when I heard she thought of Kissinger, that war criminal, as her guru I just couldn’t.

    4. crittermom

      No doubt a chunk of that military spending will be so Trumpet Master (‘cuz he’s always tooting his own horn) can have his grandiose parade of military force that so mesmerized him in another country. He wants ‘ours’ even bigger & better, don’t ya know.

      Maybe if a 100+ yr old bridge fell on his motorcade one day he’d wake up & see that rather than building that (stupid) wall & allowing unlimited military spending, the money would be better spent on our crumbling infrastructure?
      Nah. Silly me.

  3. Isotope_C14

    Kill me now: Holder:

    Why don’t the Dems just put out a statement that states very clearly their agenda for 2020?

    “The DNC will in no way support anything left of Ronald Reagan in 2020 – You get austerity, opioid death from the Sacklers, and eternal war. You will get no new non-servant jobs. You will be happy with our monopsony, and you will be happy with imminent war with Russia. They are the bad kind of Oligarchs. We are the good kind.

    Bernie Sanders is a Marxist, Authoritarian, Socialist, Trotskyist, Furry, Maoist, criminal re-distributor of the earned wealth. He will, and anyone to the left of him, be cheated out of any primary victory. Deal with it. And don’t you know how rich he is? That Parka!

    You will take whatever rising star we tell you to take through our official Daou-Tanden cheerleading squad.”

    1. Darius

      Just show them The Big Short. Why did no one go to prison for the financial crisis? Oh yeah. Eric Holder was on the case. Oh yeah. And Tim Geithner.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hmmmm. President Holder and Vice-President Geithner? No, no, wait. How about President Holder and Vice-President Condoleezza Rice. Now there is your dream team for the Republicans. Nominally bipartisan (as the Founding Fathers wanted), black and a male-female combination). What’s not to love?

        1. ambrit

          Some on the ultra alt fringe say that there has already been a ‘male/female’ in the White House. S/

        2. Ed Miller

          Better yet would be Condi Rice for President and Eric Holder for Vice President. Holder for president of vice. How fitting.

      2. Jean

        They need a “Place Holder” in the White House for their donor class to keep amassing money and power.

    2. timbers

      Kill Me Now

      Eric Holder hints at a possible run for president in 2020 CNBC (resilc)

      As Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russel) in Escape from New York said: “President of what?”

    3. sleepy

      His policy positions are bad enough, but what is equally disturbing is that he–and most likely a good chunk of the dem establishment bubble–think that the electorate would in any way be receptive to his candidacy. The cluelessness is breathtaking. If Holder would get the nomination it would be a Trump landslide.

      Maybe Harris, Booker, or Biden could fudge things enough to squeak by, but not Holder by a long shot.

        1. crittermom

          I assumed his only policy position was to rob from the poor & give to the rich.
          Just as sleepy stated, in his actions as AG.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Don’t be too sure. When the announcement of his possible candidacy ran on social media, people were falling all over themselves to say he’s just what is needed. You have to remember that the majority still believe the Obama administration saved the country; and because they can’t be troubled to review what actually occurred and are, in addition, totally brainwashed by the 24/7/365 focus on all things TRUMP!!!, they look on Holder’s potential as a candidate with what appears to be nostalgia.

    4. RUKidding

      Agree.

      Niggling Quibble:

      You forgot to add the obligatory: We are NOT Trump! So STFU and vote for Big D.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit:

    Northern Ireland will stay in single market after Brexit, EU says Guardian. (Dr. Larry). This is huge if correct, and it probably is. How does this not blow up the coalition with the DUP? And if that happens, how are there not new elections? And if THAT happens, there is no way that the UK can get a Brexit deal done in time for it to be approved by the EU27. The near-paralysis and chaos in the Government will become total. Recall May did squat re Brexit when the Tories were stumping for her oh-so-clever snap election when it initially looked like a brilliant gambit. So how does this not produce the UK crashing out next March with no deal? What am I missing?

    I thought this might be the Guardian jumping the gun as no other , but seems to confirm it:

    The EU will prepare a draft of the U.K. withdrawal treaty that envisions Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union — essentially issuing an ultimatum that London come up with other options or accept that there is no other practical way to avoid the recreation of a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Friday.

    Speaking at a news conference alone, rather than alongside his U.K. counterpart, David Davis, Barnier insisted that the EU had no choice but to begin drafting such legal language because London had offered no clarity on how the Ireland-Brexit conundrum might be solved as part of an overall new relationship.

    “It’s important to tell the truth,” Barnier said, suggesting that British officials had not been forthright about the implications of their public pronouncements. “A U.K. decision to leave the single market and leave the customs union would make border checks unavoidable.”

    This is indeed a bomb thrown right into the UK governments lap. In effect the EU are saying that the UK must make new arrangements for Northern Ireland in order to comply with their commitments in December (and under the Good Friday Agreement). This will cause the DUP and their hard Brexit brethren to blow several fuses. There is no way May can comply with this and keep the agreement with the DUP. Its them or the transitional arrangements.

    If the DUP walk out, it does not necessarily mean the govenment will fall. They could stagger on as a minority government, on the basis that nobody would want to vote shoulder to shoulder with the DUP on this. And its not clear to me that the DUP will want an election, as their own supporters are quite split over Brexit. Its possible, for example, that the Scottish Nationalists or the Lib Dems might decline to bring down the government if it means voting with the DUP. It could – possibly – lead to a cross party ageement on a softer Brexit (not likely, its just possible).

    The big question is how much support the DUP have in the Tory party. I’ve read suggestions that they get on very well on a personal and political level with the Tory hard right, so if they march out, they may have enough support to force May out. But its not certain they will want to.

    In terms of negotiations, if May refuses this ‘offer’ by the EU, then that basically means the transition deal is off. Which means hard and chaotic Brexit is pretty much a certainty. That FT article linked above makes it pretty clear that business leaders, especially foreign investors, have been telling the Tories that this is unthinkable.

    The other wild card in this is Scotland. If NI get their own special arrangements with the Customs Union, Scotland will want the same.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in Downing Street….

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for gaming out the implication for how the Tories might limp on. It is hard enough to understand foreign political dynamics (I did get it down after being in Oz, but I was reading the papers and watching the news shows daily), but we Americans are at a further disadvantage by living with a much simpler and more rigid two party system.

      But the critical point is that you get to the same end point (hard and potentially even “no deal” Brexit) in March 2019 because the inability to resolve Ireland to everyone’s satisfaction means no transition deal.

    2. ambrit

      Well. This could be spun as a ‘soft coup’ against the UK. Northern Ireland gets split off, and jammed in with Ireland proper. Then the North and South will have to sort their problems out in a more intimate manner. They will be de facto partners in league against England. If the Catholic versus Protestant struggle rises again, let it be worked out in a proper civil war, an Irish one. The EU could legitimately call it an ‘Internal Matter’ and enforce a hands off policy. This is not so far fetched as it seems. A people who still throw things at each other over events that transpired almost four hundred years ago are capable of anything.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        It will certainly be spun as interfering with UK constitutional matters, but its overstating it I think to call it a coup. Its not exactly news to anyone that the UK could not square the circle of its insistence on leaving the Customs Union and Single Market while not having a hard border.

        It actually wouldn’t require much change for NI to stay in the Customs Union. NI has its Assembly (not sitting), and there are agreements in place for joint authority by London and Dublin under the Good Friday Agreement, and there are already different laws applying (most notoriously, for abortion). Contrary to what the DUP will tell you, there are already security/customs checks on the Irish Sea between NI and Britain. Just last month I drove a hire van from Dublin to Scotland via the Larne ferry and I had a full check, sniffer dog and all.

        So in practical terms, keeping NI in the Customs Union would be far easier than any alternative. I think the big problem for London (apart from DUP intransigence) in this would not be Ireland, but would be the Scottish parliament. They will immediately seek the same provision for Scotland.

        1. vlade

          Yep. Either the same provisions, or a new indyS referendum. The interesting thing is what can they do on it – I don’t see many real levers for Scots now.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, its true, its very hard to see how the Scots can force something through, although if the DUP bail out, that might give them an opening for a deal with the Tories. Something like ‘you get the brexit you want, so long as we get a separate Customs Union deal’.

            1. vlade

              Ah, that’s an interesting idea.

              Basically saying “We get English and Welsh the Brexit, at a cost of Scotland and NI pretending to be in the UK while in fact being EU states” :)

              Cool, I like that. Don’t know how long this fudge could last though.

      2. polecat

        Maybe the Russians and Chinese could swoop into the yard, and lend a helping hand, now that the British cock has been dispatched … to smooth down ruffled ginger feathers.

    3. visitor

      Which means hard and chaotic Brexit is pretty much a certainty.

      I would rather say that it is the alternative
      a) hard and chaotic brexit, or
      b) no brexit whatsoever
      that is a certainty.

      And I have already argued that the probability of (b) is significant. When whatever British government faces the ineluctable catastrophe in 2019, the temptation to muddle through a last-minute arrangement that nullifies the brexit (through whatever legalistic sophistry) will become irresistible — for the UK and for the EU alike.

      1. tegnost

        my question regarding b) is at what point have they waited too long to grab the bitter end of the lifeline.Waiting too long seems likely in this case…

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        I don’t see that b) is anything other than so low odds as to be tantamount to being impossible.

        First, as indicated, the UK press and public are in utter denial regarding the train wreck that is happening. The level of pro-Brexit propaganda puts our “WMD in Iraq” to shame. The pols are deeply invested in “Brexit means Brexit”.

        Please tell me precisely what you think the route for retreat is. The EU would allow the UK to cancel Brexit at the last minute, but the only way I can imagine the UK doing that would be via a referendum which would then have to be followed by a Parliamentary vote. Given the lead times, that would have to be being debated now in a serious way to have any possibility of getting done by March 2019. The EU is not going to extend the March 2019 Brexit date. Among other things, the EU is operationally rigid and procedure bound. The only way they could do that would be via a treaty amendment, and I see no will for anything like that, and certainly not the time.

        Second, to the extent that people recognize there are problems, the next line of psychological defense is “Oh, there will be a fudge at the 11th hour”. That is simply not going to happen. So even to the extent that all of the developments of the last few weeks start to sink in, it’s not going to lead to anywhere enough people recognizing what an utter disaster is in the offing. The news about the Customs becoming a train wreck has been out for over a year, and got taken up again a bit again ~2 months ago, and it’s been treated collectively with a handwave.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        The huge problem with B is I think that there is nowhere near the level of urgency or panic in the UK needed to make that politically palatable. Its a little like climate change – by the time things start cracking up it will be too late to make a difference, and I don’t honestly see real deep public concern until the lorries start backing up at Dover, by which time it will be far too late.

        1. hemeantwell

          Regarding generating a climate of B option urgency and regarding the Guardian, do you have an impression of their position? Their daily coverage and opinion articles appear to strongly oppose. Are they holding off from open B option advocacy to avoid losing readers, or are they in an analytic/political muddle?

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I think the Guardian is in a muddle. They are very anti-Brexit, although some prominent internal voices are Brexiters (such as economics writer Larry Elliot). They have a number of writers who are telling it like it is, but they are not given prominence. I think they don’t want to be seen as the sole anti-Brexit voice in the media.

            What I find striking is that btl commentators in the Guardian are far more anti-Brexit than the writers, and there are lots of obviously very well informed comments on every article. Certain topics bring out the best in Guardian BTL commentators, Sanders being one, Brexit being the other. I suspect this is a reflection of the typical reader being fairly well plugged in to how things work in the real world.

            But the Guardian has proven with its desperate clinging to Saint Hillary that it doesn’t listen to its own readers.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Just to note that somewhat curiously, doesn’t say that Barnier talks about NI having to be part of the Customs Union – it instead simply focuses on his statement that ‘border checks are inevitable’, which isn’t quite the same emphasis (even if it amounts to the same thing). I think this will be a case of having to see the transcript (the , but I don’t have time now to look at it).

    5. RabidGandhi

      It bears repeating that this is chickens coming home to roost from a major error the EU made in Phase I of the negotiations. The agreed rules were that the Irish border issue had to be defined before moving on to Phase II. But Barnier signed off as Davis mumbled something incoherent about electronic controls and mystical border leprechauns.

      I was stunned when the council signed off on this, but they do desperately want to get a deal done (not easy when your counterparty is Jethro Q. Walrustitty) whilst also being constitutionally unable to resist another round of their favourite game of extend-and-pretend.

      To me, this latest move reeks of an attempt to undo an own goal that they never should have scored in the first place.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not sure I agree with that interpretation. While there was certainly pressure to do a deal in Phase I I think the EU was perfectly aware that the NI border issue was unresolvable, but saw the issue as a noose they could tighten around the Tories neck. By allowing the British government to tie themselves up in knots by promising so many impossible things at the same time, the EU put itself even more firmly in the driving seat.

        In political terms, they also want to manoever London into a position where its the British who are seen as failing or obstructive in the talks, while the EU has done everything reasonably possible. If the EU had pointed out the impossibilty of resolving the issue at Phase I stage, then they would have been faced with the choice of either visibly siding with the UK over Ireland, or as being obstructive in doing a deal.

        1. ChrisPacific

          That was my interpretation as well. They finessed the magic technology fairies by saying that Ireland needed to approve any solution that was proposed. In other words, it’s not enough just to have border leprechauns, you have to convince Ireland that they are going to work (and good luck with that one).

          This is actually not a new development if people were paying attention. The UK already signed up to this in the agreement to proceed with trade negotiations. They have been diligently trying to pretend they didn’t, which seems to be why Barnier is making pointed comments at the moment.

  5. Croatoan

    On “Five major psychiatric diseases have overlapping patterns of genetic activity, new study shows”

    As an amateur geneticist and collector of genomes of the mentally ill, and someone who is diagnosed with Asperger’s and Scizoaffective Disorder-Mania type, I have only one thing to say:

    No duh.

    The similarity is that we are all neurologically more sensitive to oxidative stress but we express it differently based on varying neurotransmitter receptor and transporter genetics.

    The trick to a balanced mind is finding what is causing the oxidative stress imbalance, not treating the receptors like all the Pharm meds do. I am med free unless I relapse, which is rare now, and usually lasts a day or as long as it takes me to figure out what happened.

    Go ahead, Google mood disorders and oxidative stress, it is no secret.

    For anyone here suffering depression look up peroxynitrite and depression.

    1. DorothyT

      Croatoan: Thank you for sharing your personal findings regarding oxidative stress. So often I’ve found, as have friends, that symptoms lead back to pharma side-effects. I look forward to following up on the search terms you mention.

      The similarity is that we are all neurologically more sensitive to oxidative stress but we express it differently based on varying neurotransmitter receptor and transporter genetics.

      The trick to a balanced mind is finding what is causing the oxidative stress imbalance, not treating the receptors like all the Pharm meds do.

      1. Croatoan

        You’re welcome.

        In all fairness pharm meds can help in the short term while you figure stuff out. Prozac, for example, lowers Nitric Oxide (NO) levels and therefore it also lowers peroxynitrites. Unfortunately for most men, myself included, the lower NO leads to impotence as a side effect. However it did get me out of a bad depression but quickly led to hypomania. Then they suggested I get on lithium…and so on.

        Lower NO is a poor solution but reveals that we instead need to lower the superoxides that turn Nitric Oxide into peroxynitrites. Peroxynitrites inhibits Tryptophan Hydroxylase and that inhibits serotonin creation.

          1. Croatoan

            It all depends on where in the pathway you are inhibiting serotonin synthesis, or metabolizing it. There are a lot of enzymes needed in the process and anyone of them could need a different vitamin cofactor.

            Depression is caused by different genetic polymorphisms and this is why personalized medicine (knowing your own genetics) is the only answer to chronic health issues.

            On a side note, I do not think taking amino acids are good because they deplete the vitamin cofactors that are needed to process them.

  6. Frenchguy

    Re: Arizona Introduces Bill That Would Allow Residents To Pay Taxes In Bitcoin

    Actually, you are just one (FX or other) transaction away from being able to pay your taxes in anything you want. The MMT point I think is more that your tax liability is in $. So when 2017 ends, you know you owe X$ and that won’t change while the liability in bitcoin will vary everyday…

    1. Arizona Slim

      I don’t know what it is about this state. I really don’t. Must be something having to do with all the sunshine. It’s cooking the brains of some of our legislators.

      1. Wukchumni

        Phoenix & Tucson were always Los Angeles & San Francisco in comparison, to me. The difference being the immigrants to the state.

        Most everybody in Arizona is from somewhere else, but it was a later group than California. You seemed to get the midwest in the midst of their livelihoods being challenged late in the 20th century, whereas our influx was 100 years prior.

        I’ve long viewed the state as a crass-test-dummy for the white elephants to see what they can pull off elsewhere.

      2. Wyoming

        Being an Arizonan I sometimes think it is the breathing of all that burnt power residue from the constant gunfire.

        The other day on one of the hiking trails right outside town a couple and their young kids were walking along and a bunch of bullets went zipping by. Being slightly concerned they called the sheriff. The response was “There should not be a hiking trail there.” Note that there are like 10 hiking trails in that area. Not one mention that perhaps the shooter was not acting responsibly.

        I go out and do volunteer trail maintenance in the same area all the time. I can be out there for 5 hours and not go more than a few minutes without hearing gunfire and occasionally an automatic weapon (or a bump stocker).

    2. LifelongLib

      I think the MMT concept of tax liability forcing dollar use would only apply to federal taxes, since the federal government is the currency (dollar) issuer. I guess the states as fellow currency users can ask for their taxes in anything they want…

  7. m

    I read about the Al Jazeera documentary about AIPAC, so there is a UK & US one? Where is the UK series since they are going to bury the US version. Forget Russia, AIPAC forcing politicians to sign a pledge for donations & these laws popping up US citizens can’t work for the government if you support BDS. Then the attempt to pass the law involving fines & prison time for support of BDS. A must watch if they release it.


    1. integer

      I just finished viewing the first and last episodes of the UK one. Here is a link to . As the series follows a trajectory that works its way up the UK’s political hierarchy, this is likely the most interesting episode of the series (I’m pretty confident that this is the case but haven’t watched episodes two and three so can’t be certain). AIPAC makes an appearance at around the 18 minute mark, so for those who only have 10 minutes to spare I suggest starting there and watching until the end of the episode. I hope the US version is released.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, and prissy little Canada is right in there destroying the environment abroad just as it is destroying it at home. This is Canada’s dirty little (not so secret) secret. The worst part of such destruction is that the company may insist that it will return the environment to its former state but that can never be done what with all the toxic compounds used for extraction and later set free to pollute and poison.

  8. petal

    NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen was supposed to give a talk at Dartmouth today about “Russian interference in American politics” but it was cancelled overnight.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Putin’s tentacles reach all the way into Dartmouth?

      If a line isn’t drawn somewhere, he’ll turn Harvard next. :-0

      1. tegnost

        she must have been busy arranging her insider trades after the budget deal…priorities and all

        FTA…”But it’s fair to say that since 2008, the Shaheens have acquired stakes in several commercial and residential real estate properties, and the number of investments and financial ventures listed have increased.

        When the average voter’s net worth falls, it’s typically not because they are taking out multiple loans and purchasing more real estate property while their investments expand.”
        Ten mortgages? Someone was slurping on the qe trough

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Future of Healthcare Could Be a Privacy Nightmare Vice

    “As far as I can tell, the Amazon website could use its information about the customer to inform its health insurance affiliate about the customer,” Swire says. “In other words, I’m not aware of rules that stop data from outside the healthcare system from being used by the health insurance company.” It would come down to state laws, he says. (For what it’s worth, Amazon is said to be hiring a health privacy expert.)

    “Privacy?” Seriously???? eric schmidt and zuckerberg saddled-up and rode that horse out of the barn years ago. Invasion of “privacy” made them our billionaire overlords–it’s what they do. Any expression of “concern” over “privacy” should be seen for what it is–the obligatory public “recognition” of the obvious before they go ahead and do what they want to do anyway. (As for legalities, see Glass-Steagall / CitiBank / Traveler’s Insurance Co. for what to do when “laws” get in the way.)

    The actual fun should start when amazon et al. start identifying and penalizing “unhealthy” purchases. Corporate citizens Coca-Cola and Pepsico may have a word or two to say about that. Not to mention that processed “food” could present a bit of a sticky wicket for co-disruptor and grandpa good-guy, warren buffett:

    On July 2, 2015, Kraft completed its merger with Heinz, arranged by Heinz owners Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital,[6][7] creating the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, Kraft Heinz Company. (Wikipedia)

    Just sayin’.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And they wonder why so many of us have become medical dropouts. We protect ourselves by avoiding the “health care system.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And those too poor to afford organic whole foods will be made poorer by having to pay higher premiums.

    3. EMtz

      There are no exits off this highway in the US. It’s one of many reasons why I left to live in a country with a cash economy, universal healthcare at better than reasonable cost, a high standard of care, and patient responsibility for retaining his/her records including things like xrays. Mexico. Who’da thunk. Plus the range of alternative care here is both astounding and effective.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting..Mexico.

        It’s the Rashomon-turned-Reality world we live that as a quality-of-living destination, a place or country, can both see incoming newcomers, and outgoing job-seekers.

        “This place will work for you. But we can’t survive here.”

        Is there something exceptional about those Yanqui from El Norte?

      2. Bugs Bunny

        This bunny is staying in France, doc.

        The politics are always exciting, we got the Brexiters on the other side of La Manche and lately we got snow! I’m gonna declare Elmer season one of these days. Gotta figure out who is the French Elmer. Probably the hunter and angler lobby. They’ve got extraordinary power in this country.

      3. crittermom

        Mexico? Wow.
        Hmm… Could it be Trump wants his wall so bad, to keep us in?

        I know of people who have dual citizenship with Mexico, but from what I understand you only lease the land you build on (at least where they’re at), & once you have your dream home done the landlord can just refuse to renew the lease if they choose & you’ve lost it all.
        Sounds too much like the banksters in the US to me, of which I was a victim.

        I love this country & its beauty.
        I’m just completely disgusted with how the govt has not been ‘ours’ (99% of citizens) for too long now, & it’s getting worse.
        I think I prefer to take a stand here for something better.
        Besides, I couldn’t even afford a visa to do so now.

    4. ewmayer

      It certainly lends a new “hmmm…” aspect to this bit of news from last May:

      | CNBC

      What better way to deduce what-ails-you than to have you as an online pharmacy customer? Why limit one’s algos to one’s customers OTC-meds purchases?

    5. The Rev Kev

      Here in Australia if you get genetic testing done, you have to disclose the results to an insurance company if they ask. It’s the law. And based on that, they can deny you coverage so lots of people are not getting themselves tested as a result-

  10. allan

    [Emptywheel]

    … There are dozens of people working in the White House who, like Porter, have not yet received clearance. Starting with the son-in-law that has been remapping the world while under active counterintelligence investigation for shaping policy in a way that may stave off familial bankruptcy. …

    Then Politico provided the other, even more critical piece of this puzzle: FBI already told the White House that Porter and others would not get security clearance. And there are witnesses that Kelly knew about these multiple White House aides and thought they should be fired. …

    Remember: according to Supreme Court precedent, the President has final authority on matters of clearance. So if Trump wants to override the FBI’s determination, he can. Which he might get away with so long as it remained secret, so long as the press didn’t know that a bunch of people were working with the country’s most sensitive information even though the FBI had told the White House it was a very bad idea to let them. And know which ones they were. …

    Dozens. Just imagine the GOP reaction if a single person had been wearing these shoes
    one year into the Obama administration.

    Puts the war on the FBI in a new perspective.

    Moar:

      1. allan

        The abuse is of course its own issue, and yes, it does seem to be everywhere.

        But the post linked to is about allowing people with personal secrets or financial problems, that make them vulnerable to blackmail, to have access to sensitive information or the ability to make policy.
        The current WH apparently is filled with such people.

        BTW, my bad, one of the WaPo stories on this says that in fact there was one (unnamed) Obama official
        who took two years to get a clearance. But it also says that the FBI doesn’t even make recommendations –
        it just gives the information it collects to the WH Security office, which decides what to do.
        So this is an own goal.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s a good point, though, rich donors vulnerable to black mail are similarly able to influence policy, with their money, if not directly, but perhaps more powerfully.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          This whole blackmail / national security thing seems janky to me.

          How are people supposed to be susceptible to blackmail for things that are already known? The whole idea of blackmail is keeping some bad behavior secret. This is the same issue that the valiant sally yates supposedly “alerted” the white house about with Michael Flynn–he could be blackmailed–for a conversation that she already knew about and had, in fact, recorded.

          It makes no sense.

          I get the feeling that no one, even the #MeTooers, felt that employing a wife-beater was a sufficiently serious or wide-ranging enough indictment of the Trump administration, so they decided to play the existential threat national security card (again) by harping on national security clearances or lack thereof.

          Wife-beating should have been enough, even though it was just one guy. The guy is a well-educated creep, not a spy.

          1. allan

            “things that are already known”

            Things can be known to the authorities, or even just reside in a server farm someplace,
            that one would not want known by one’s parents, friends, spouse or S.O. (although obviously not in this case), coworkers or future possible employers. Presumably his restraining order from 2010 popped up very quickly on some database when the clearance investigation started – the FBI already knew about it when they interviewed his first wife in January, 2017.
            How many of his family, friends, social circle or coworkers knew?
            How many of his potential future K Street employers knew?

            It’s not necessary for someone to have taken advantage of this kind of known/unknown information about somebody for them to be a legitimate security risk.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Just imagine the GOP reaction if a single person had been wearing these shoes one year into the Obama administration’

      Jan 13, 2009 — the domain clintonemail.com is registered in the name of longtime adviser to former President Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper. Hillary Clinton’s email is set up as [email protected]

    2. integer

      Marcy Wheeler has gone all-in for the “intelligence” community, and they obviously see her as a useful idiot conduit for getting their message out, what with her mysterious inside sources and all. With regard to security clearances, one might speculate that having been under attack since that fateful day in November of 2016 by the very same agencies that are tasked with providing said clearances, Trump was not particularly inclined to initiate any nonessential , especially since, as Wheeler points out in your quoted passage, “according to Supreme Court precedent, the President has final authority on matters of clearance”.

      1. Stormcrow

        The decline and fall of Marcy Wheeler is sad to see. One wonders if she will ever recover.
        In our topsy-turvy world today one often finds more useful analysis in unlikely places.

        The Grassley Memo would be a worthy topic for the old, no longer functional Wheeler. Instead, strange to say, one finds things worth thinking about in venues like the WSJ and journalists like Kimberly Strassel.

        I don’t endorse the following article but I think it raises important questions.

        WSJ Columnist: Why is the Media Ignoring the Real Bombshell FISA Memo?

        1. allan

          “journalists like Kimberly Strassel”

          Strassel is not a journalist. She is a longtime member of the WSJ editorial board.
          Her writings appear on its editorial page, meaning that, as usual for editorials and op-eds,
          they aren’t subject to fact checking and other pesky journalistic standards.
          She is no more a journalist than is David Brooks or Maureen Dowd.
          And her views on national security and civil liberties are … remarkably flexible,
          depending on whose ox is being gored.

          As for Wheeler, she reads publicly available documents widely and in depth,
          and her conjectures often prove correct. Such as:

          mieke eoyang‏

          This suggests that @emptywheel was right in the broad strokes, that Nunes is misusing his role as HPSCI chair to do discovery for the Trump legal team that they wouldn’t be otherwise able to do.

          (Maybe not with the Bannon subpoena, but with the Page FISA application).

          1. Stomrcrow

            I agree with Integer about Wheeler’s new, unfortunate intelligence-community profile. I thought Aaron Maté cleaned her clock when she was interviewed by him.

          2. integer

            As for Wheeler, she reads publicly available documents widely and in depth

            Desperately looking for something, anything, that she can use to dig herself out of the hole she has already dug for herself and claim she was right all along, no doubt. At this point I doubt she cares about the truth so much as being vindicated, and expect she is experiencing a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance as a result. Sad!

            1. JBird

              Yes, but Wheeler has done extensive research of the type of dry government records that often are painful to read and has done good reporting on it.

              Once she gets off her Great Russian Conspiracy goofiness I will go right back to Emptywheel.

        2. Oregoncharles

          VERY deep into the weeds with Scott Ritter: : “The Ugly Truth Buried in the Nunes memo, along with the Grassley letter. Intriguing; I had some trouble following it, perhaps because I have a cold and it’s affecting my brain. Still, just endless potential scandals in there.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Funny how it has been airbrushed out of collective memory that there were even more people in the Clinton Administration who hadn’t gotten clearances…

      1. JBird

        Yeah, thanks for the reminder. I am just as susceptible as others to editing my memories to fit my preferred stories it’s seems.

        Which is annoying. This is one gigantic Rashomon.

    4. fat feller

      On the face of it, Elijah Cummings lambasting or pleading or bleating on about transparency and integrity or any of those high minded principles having to do with the law is laughable and lamentable at the same time. His berating of Neil Kashkari was evidence of that canard. The area which he represents has fallen into complete despair and sadness in an epic way. He should be less interested about what is going on inside 495 and concentrate more of what is going on inside 695. Of course that would be expecting just a little much from this gentleman.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    While Trump eyes Latin America with malign neglect, China sees opportunity Guardian. Resilc: “I have a friend with the Inter-American dev bank. Said China has projects and traders everywhere. big ones, small ones in back waters, in cities…”

    Will a Great Wall follow soon, to prevent the northern barbarians from invading the new Chinese ‘civilization’ in Latin America?

    1. Olga

      I know you jest, but not actually a bad idea… although it won’t protect those countries from the internal fifth columns.

      1. JohnnyGL

        If you’ve been to Sao Paulo, you already know there’s walls everywhere.

        The comparison with downtown Los Angeles was eye-opening. I visited LA with my wife (from Sao Paulo) about a decade ago and she made the point (unprompted by me and my book) that it reminded her of home.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Inner walls as well as outer, physical walls.

          “I will never let my daughter marry a Trump-voting deplorable.”

    1. David

      = 3,660,621 => 6.9 suicides per 100,000

      For comparison: ( per 100,000, in 2015)
      Wyoming – 28.24, Rank #1
      New York – 7.81, Rank #50

      per 100,000 (2000-2010)
      Women – 28.7
      Men – 32.1
      : (per 100,00 per year)
      Sri Lanka – 34.6 – Rank #1
      Bahrain – 6.9 – Rank #131

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed Guardian. PlutoinumKun:

    And related to Brexit, this is what the British will be eating soon thanks to Brexit. Food safety is a very big issue in the UK, as much with Tory voters as left wingers. Even the Express and Telegraph would not dare to sell this as anything but a terrible outcome of Brexit if the UK was forced to accept imports of meat with very high levels of antibiotics.

    It is interesting that this is not a bigger issue (not for everyone of course, but those in the MSM and those who run for office without highlighting this) there than say, free college.

    What are we Americans trying tell the Brits? “It’s OK?”

    1. Jean

      Just say No! to antibiotics, pesticides, weed killers and Genetically Modified Organisms in your food.

      Short version:

      “Go Organic”

  13. The Rev Kev

    U.S. body brokers supply world with torsos, limbs and heads

    Somehow, in reading this I could not help remembering what happened to the body of Alistair Cooke (), the renowned British-American journalist who did the “Letter from America” series as well as the TV series “Alistair Cooke’s America” (which led to my interest in American history) after he died. The article is describing a great way to spread communicative diseases throughout the world and I cannot believe that they are being so slack with what is actually the transportation of biohazard material.
    On a side note, in the novel “World War Z” it was practices like this which helped spread the zombie virus around the world unintentionally infecting millions of people via hospital and medical practices. They have been warned!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for that. Courtesy of Wikipedia:

      On 22 December 2005, the New York Daily News reported that the bones of Cooke and many other people had been surgically removed before cremation by employees of Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, New Jersey, a tissue-recovery firm.[14] The thieves sold the bones for use as medical-grade bone grafts.[15] The cancer from which Cooke was suffering had spread to his bones, making them unsuitable for grafts. Reports indicated the people involved in selling the bones altered his death certificate to hide the cause of death and reduce his age from 95 to 85.[16] Michael Mastromarino, a former New Jersey–based oral surgeon,[14] and Lee Cruceta agreed to a deal that resulted in their imprisonment.[17] Mastromarino was sentenced on 27 June 2008, in the New York Supreme Court, to 18 to 54 years’ imprisonment.[18] The entire story of the theft featured in a documentary aimed at educating the public about modern-day grave robbery.[15] On the morning of 7 July 2013, at age 49, Michael Mastromarino died at St. Luke’s Hospital after suffering from liver cancer.[19]

      How did they catch it? And what hope do we have that it doesn’t happen to us or those we care?

      Also, it seems like a dead person has certain rights, after that person is no longer a person (for being dead).

      What about a person before he/she is a person?

      1. JBird

        This is a little different, but it me of the politicalization, slow response, and delays, once HIV got into the blood supply back in the 1980s. A lot of American surgery patients and diabetics got AIDS. It was worse in France. Some delayed the use of the American developed blood tests because they wanted the French to develop their own, which meant hundreds of French people died.

        1. The Rev Kev

          One of these days I am going to have to get ahold of the book “And the Band Played on” by Randy Shilts as I understand that it is a very good book about this era.

          1. cgeye

            It is….

            And, how did diabetics get the disease? I thought hemophiliacs were at greater risk, although both pops depended on using needles regularly.

    2. ewmayer

      We all knew the US was the leading ‘arms supplier to the world’, but this takes it to a rather frighteningly literal level, doesn’t it?

  14. Kevin

    Australian Bees – I don’t believe they are doing it for no reason, perhaps it is providing a better defense against whatever it is that has been decimating their populations…?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I agree.

      No reason only because we humans are not aware of (a lot of things, not just this). But, alas, we are not the center of nature, though, the author seems to think we are (from the article: build their hives in a single-layer spiral, like they’re imitating the Guggenheim.)

      What?!?!?!?!

      Why would they imitate the Guggenheim?

      One of the bees: “We have been building like this when your ancestors were living in caves, or crawling on all four.”

      My other beef – why is Batman a super hero, yet not the Beeman?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Hmmmmm. “Olga.” Clearly a putinbot. We all know who and what Putin really is, all us real red-blooded Americans. /s, of course. Because “we’re stupid, and we’ll die.”

      I see Jim Carrey, that loose-joined, thought-leader “comedian,” is dumping his Faceborg stock and ending his Facebook accounts, too, “because Faceplant has not done enough to expatriate the evil and baleful and masterful insinuations of and perversions of that Putin creature,” citing what “everyone knows” that evil monster did to “try to influence” the recently run, deeply perverted and massively unDemocratic “elections.” Whattaman! We need lots more like him! //s

      1. polecat

        Carrey … soldiering arm-in-arm with the likes of Reiner, and the rest of the holywood gliterati .. bodysnatched to a one !

        What’s that screaming sound ??

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        I find it interesting that all the warnings about social media damaging our brains, and now this dog-and-pony by Carrey suddenly appeared in conjunction with the allegations that Russian ads clearly disrupted the peace and harmony of the US public.

        On the one hand, we’re warned that anything political or activist we see on social media could be Russian propaganda. On the other, we have social-media developers suddenly gaining the enlightenment their product is dangerous, and that any right-thinking person should abandon it entirely. Is it coincidental that the idea social media is an effective way to interfere with establishment narratives underlies this discussion?

        To put it another way, is there an intent to persuade “right-thinking” people to abandon social media and rely on the corporate version to further silence alternative information sources?

        Just for the record, it’s quite possible to persuade people out of the corporate media-induced coma if you’re careful how you go about it. Maybe only one or two, but given the extent of the problem I consider that a win. In addition, I’ve often provided frustrated progressives with links to sources they had no idea existed. It’s not easy, and it eats up time I could probably put to good use; but there it is.

        I can’t point to any actual proof there’s something hinky about the sudden concern with the alleged negative effects of social media, but I’m long past infected with X-Files syndrome.

      3. The Rev Kev

        You do realize that when people like Jim Carrey, Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman want us to listen to their profound opinions, that they have actually made their living from pretending to be people that they are not? It’s kinda listed in their job descriptions as “actors”.

  15. JTMcPhee

    “Look how the US has lower life expectancy than most advanced economies.” Lots of stuff to think about in there:

    1. Is there a US any more? Other than as a carcass of a consumption-looting-and-genocide-grounded geographic fortuity, Puritans to gun nuts, finally being skinned, gutted, butchered and consumed by the inherent parasites and pathogens like “free-market capitalism (sic)”, under the direction and to the “benefit” of supranational entities both individual and corporate?

    2. Is there such a thing as an “advanced economy,” where all the markers of modernity and “progress” foster extraction and consumption and decimation of the vaunted Enlightenment myth of individual rights, and climate collapse, “inequality” (and all the pathologies – from my mope’s viewpoint at least- that “inequality” actually shorthands for), global perpetual “war,” and seemingly the working out of a species death wish (or whatever one wants to call the endpoint of whatever “code” drives us humans to do the stuff we do to ourselves and each other appears programmed to be)?

    3. Blessings on Lambert, bless his coming and his going — good fortune to all those who have finally come to being “woke” to the nature of the beast, or just seeking their own good like the Elites of this country and other “advanced economies.” And are fortunate enough to be able to “flee the jurisdiction,” off to Uruguay and Costa Rica and wherever “advancement” (of the Amazon-Google-LockheedlessMartin-BayerduPont-Cargill-Monsanto-Etc. sort) has not yet completely penetrated and despoiled. May those among them who have lived out their time among the “advanced” while striving to make things better for everyone and the planet be peaceful and comfortable in the remainder of their lives. (As to the Elite looters looking to maximize their pleasures, pfffftt.) Thanks to the good and decent among them, for doing what they could, before they decamped, in the face of what we humans demonstrably mostly are. Do they have any advice for those of “us” who sit in our individual skivvies around the virtual campfire glow of our screens, tick-ticking on our keyboards, sparking off bon mots and bits of snark and bitter observations that grope for even deeper and more dispiriting understanding of the Current And Likely Future Human Condition? Deepening, every day, our individual and collective awareness of how deeply “we” as individuals and species are well and truly Faminely(sic intended)Blogged by the desires and directions of more than enough of us to finish off all of us (see e.g., the wonderful miniaturization of “our” nuclear weapons, briefly and incompletely and “both sides of the story” told here: As just one little (if large) example of the horrors “we mopes” get to inhale and eventually accommodate to or suicide our way out of, every day…

    4. What’s the mathematical symbol for an infinite series?…….

    So many questions, destined to be naught but rhetorical…

    1. integer

      The mathematical symbol for an infinite series is a capital sigma, below which is the indexing variable (i in the example below) and the number it starts at (usually zero or one), and above it an infinity symbol. Something like this (but the i = 0 should be smaller and vertically aligned with the sigma):



      i = 1

      1. ambrit

        I believe that this would amount to an appeal to the Divine for intervention. Which might take the form of another big asteroid strike, or Toba sized eruption. We aren’t the Earth, just renters living on it.

        1. Wukchumni

          You know what I hate?

          When i’m skiing in Mammoth, and a cataclysmic volcanic eruption goes off there for the first time in 760,000 years, melting out the what were really good powder conditions…

          …oh, and killing a nice swath of the population
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~

          “After four strong (magnitude 6) earthquakes rocked the Long Valley area of eastern California in May 1980, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists also detected evidence of renewed volcanic unrest in the region. They discovered that the central part of Long Valley Caldera, a broad depression formed in a cataclysmic volcanic eruption 760,000 years ago, was slowly rising. Because such ground deformation and earthquakes are common precursors of volcanic eruptions, the USGS has continued to closely monitor the unrest in this region.”

      2. blennylips

        By Betteridge s law alone, we have a no to 1 & 2, sad to say.

        By the time I got half way thru 3, I was reminded of something from long ago … a few scratches & searches and I found it.

        Your excellent rant reminded me of the 20 or more xmases that NPR let Chuck Kramer recites his poem “What Have We Done To Christmas?”

        Keep it up, I enjoy your questions.

      3. visitor

        I’ll have a go at question (2):

        Is there such a thing as an “advanced economy”

        Put it like this: when we talk about persons of an “advanced age”, we are clearly indicating that (1) they have been alive for quite a long time (2) they already have undergone substantial physical, if not intellectual, decay, and (3) they are statistically close to their demise.

        I let you appraise how well the metaphorical application to the USA economy works.

        1. a different chris

          Oh wait I’ve found it:

          “Do they have any advice for those of “us” who sit… ”

          3) No

      4. integer

        Here’s a question for you:

        At what point does constantly focusing on the purportedly overwhelmingly negative character of the human race (but not you, of course), and the impossibility of overcoming an admittedly difficult situation that it finds itself in, become a tangible hindrance to effecting any change for the better?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Is it not clear that I am very clearly, squarely, and incontrovertibly carrying the mark of Cain, like all the other humans, even the ones who are doing their darndest to “live clean and green” and pour their hearts and souls into efforts to import some kind of homeostasis into the larger institutions and structures of our near 8 billion fellows? And the human race is a lot of individuals, involved with each other in a variety of ways to be sure, acting sometimes with one accord but not too often in ways that seem (to me, in my own dark little corner) likely to prolong and ameliorate the species’ existence.

          Does that answer the question?

          And I do take pleasure in doing “random acts of kindness,” and in learning about the stuff that some of us are doing to try to counter the bad (my definition, of course) that so many more of us do. My careers have been as government environmental enforcement attorney and nurse, both of which required a modicum of optimism, eventually informed by “more information.”

          Now I’m burdened with too much awareness of too much badness, and unfortunate habits of mind. Sorry to spread it around – but I just want to think that the people who encounter my “stuff” at least have to think a bit about the admittedly selective information and jaded perspective. I do watch cat videos, along with the helmet-cam and cellphone pix from “conflict zones” and such.

          1. integer

            FWIW I have read your comments here for the last five years or so, agree with much of what you write, and have never doubted your character.

    2. Paul Cardan

      Since you asked,

      (1) Yes, and there’d better be. It took the use of state power to create the mess; it’ll take the same power to clean it up. The power in question is restricted and enabled by a system of law that includes provisions for the protection of individual rights. That’s crucial for organizing. Do the rights get violated? Sure. Do we have rule of law, strictly speaking? No. But hypocrisy is preferable to shamelessness.

      (2) No, since the description is a caricature. Admittedly, some caricatures are quite revealing.

      (3) That depends. Does the Democratic Party represent a coalition of a number of different groups which can be realigned so as to displace or excise the leading neoliberal faction? I don’t know. My suspicion is that the left (or “progressive,” call it what you will) challenge will be defeated. Party leaders can concede huge swaths of territory to any insurgency, since they, the leaders, control the commanding heights. My hunch then, is that the Democratic Party has to be dismantled, so that most of the parts can be put back together as something else, a different coalition, one that’s actually capable of coming to grips with the problems at hand. My two cents: that’s job one. Easier said than done, as should go without saying.

    3. Chris

      You could try following Miroslav Holub’s advice:

      The Door

      Go and open the door.
      Perhaps outside
      there’s a tree, or a wood,
      or a garden,
      or a magic town.

      Go and open the door.
      Perhaps outside
      there’s a dog scratching.
      Perhaps there’s a face outside,
      or an eye
      or the picture
      of a picture.

      Go and open the door.
      If there’s fog outside
      it will go.

      Go and open the door.
      There could be outside only
      singing darkness,
      and there could be outside only
      wind’s hollow breath
      and there could be
      absolutely nothing
      outside,
      go and open the door.

      At least
      there would be
      a draught.

  16. Pat

    Love the Highland cattle.

    Adore the pony trotting away from the light and laughing humans so dog and pony can be alone.

    Thank you.

  17. Wukchumni

    Er, is it just me, or is that bullseye crashing through a map of North America, Chicago if i’m not mistaken?

  18. BenX

    On Wednesday, last week, the topic among colleagues at breakfast was how well everyone’s stock portfolio was doing.

    While they aren’t barbers, I still took it as a sell signal.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The question is, how will investors/traders react?

      Will they react like those New England Patriots fans did, after their object-of-desire/team/dream/obsession lost in the latest Super Bowl?

      “Why, I am turning on my computer to do some web surfing…”

    1. Craig H.

      The comments on that page are precious.

      This is a direct result of runaway government secrecy. Humans abhor an information vacuum and they will fill in the blanks from the near-infinite well of creativity at their disposal. Has anybody read the new Delonge-Levenda UFO book?

      (There are books on the topic which are excellent which that one most certainly is not.)

  19. allan

    [Marketwatch]

    The tax bill signed into law in December with much ballyhoo has failed to bolster an area of the economy that is particularly dependent on discretionary spending.

    After three months of flat or positive sales growth, the restaurant sector saw same-store sales fall 0.3% in January, according to data from industry tracker TDn2K. That’s bad news for a sector that was mired in recession until late last year, as consumers confronted higher prices for everything from rent
    to medical bills. …

    Time for another tax cut? Or just give those IRS withholding tables another goose?

  20. Petter

    Glancing at the antibiotics in food link, I suddenly wondered, what will the British diet be like after Brexit?
    What will they be eating if the worst case scenario hits them in face? Maybe the government should hire a new Elsie Widdowson just to be prepared sort of.

  21. subgenius

    A hologram is the interference pattern of coherent light scattered by an object.

    If there is no laser, it ain’t a hologram.

    There is something called lightfield technology that is much more capable of creating what the majority of people think of when imagining a hologram.

    What that article is referring to is neither. It is talking about extracting a viable 3d model with textures from a video.

    This is done by mapping optical flowfields, translating them into motion fields, then extracting a mesh – maybe via a point cloud. I doubt they are pulling advanced point cloud rendering tricks, but it mentions eastern European talent on the code side, so it isn’t impossible.

    Same trick can be used for the environment the image is being presented in.

    As always, they talk to the used car salesman fronting the money for this article…and irritating for me as I remain mostly skint and homeless while able to understand, explain, and execute such technological tricks, while aforementioned salesman gets the glory and cash.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Same reaction here. A frustration with trying to explain holograms to my Dad, was that even by the 80s the MSM idea of holograms had thoroughly surpassed the boringness of the real thing. ‘No, you look at the negative and shine a laser from the back.’ I’m not sure I convinced him, lasers had been a part of his worldview since the 30s. Elmo Lincoln had one! Good luck in your endeavors.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Today’s MofA article on Syria

    I’m not sure who was shooting at whom but that seems beside the point when considering this little snippet:

    A small area across the Euphrates north-east of Deir Ezzor had been taken by Syrian government forces months ago. It is near some oilfields which the U.S. wants to keep away from the Syrian government.

    The small area in question would seem to be in Syria. The US has forces in Syria trying to keep Syrian resources away from the Syrian government and by extension, what’s left of the Syrian people. What the familyblog kind of world do we live in where this is in any way acceptable? Isn’t this the sort of thing the UN is supposed to be called in to prevent?!?!? How is this not all over the international news as a blatant disregard for international law?!?! Does anybody even give a damn anymore?!?!?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Short answer? No. Longer answer: the US population has become so inured to war in countries full of brown people in the name of the War on Terror it really doesn’t, for the most part, distinguish between one of those countries and another. When you add in that the majority have heard nothing but anti-Assad/Syria propaganda, up to and including the manipulation of a child, it’s hardly surprising, is it, that most just nod solemnly and wait for the next Trump-tweet?

      Gotta have your priorities straight.

  23. giantsquid

    Re: Researchers uncover the enzyme that may be stifling your efforts to lose weight

    TBK1, the enzyme discussed in this article, does seem to play an interesting role in regulating metabolism and also in managing the inflammatory response to fat. However, it might not be such a great target for inducing weight loss through pharmaceuticals. Amlexanox is a well-studied inhibitor of TBK1 and is already prescribed for treating asthma. A clinical trial was completed last year that was designed to determine whether amlexanox, which had proven effective in treating obesity in mice, can induce weight loss and increase insulin sensitivity in humans. With regard to weight loss, the results were not promising.

    From the article describing this clinical trial (Inhibition of IKK 3and TBK1 Improves Glucose Control in a Subset of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes):

    “We did not observe a statistical difference in weight loss between the placebo and amlexanox-treated groups in this study (Figure S3A); even within the amlexanox responders, there was no apparent reduction in body weight, unlike the earlier pilot study.”

    Amlexanox did have a large impact on insulin sensitivity in a third of those in the treated group. And it’s possible that other TBK1 inhibitors might be effective in treating obesity. But I wouldn’t count on it.

  24. Jim

    The Conversation article “Black Americans mostly left behind by progress since Dr. King’s death,” does a nice job in presenting a nuanced overview of the economic/political situation of black people since 1968.

    But its final subheading “What would MLK do?” offers a rather uncritical endorsement of King’s moves in favor of a strategy of social democracy, which he articulated shortly before his death.

    King’s economic bill of rights for the disadvantaged seemed to give up on his previous hope/belief in transforming the ghetto into a real community. Questions which could have been asked back then might have included:
    Whether a black community needed another white social worker as much as it needed a small business loan?
    Whether the government should build public housing projects in black neighborhoods?
    Whether a black community should bus children away from black neighborhoods, thus weakening the influence of the school as a community center?
    Whether a guaranteed income would restore self-respect or the pride of workmanship?

    In the early days of the civil rights movement King had resisted the temptation to define black people simply as victims of white oppression. Instead he had tried to encourage initiative, self-reliance and responsibility. He seemed, back then, to understand that people who thought of themselves primarily as victims tended to remain passive or became vindictive and self-righteous, often leading to a politics of resentment.

    At their best such compensatory programs made it possible for talented individuals to escape from the ghetto, widening the gap between the black middle class and the poor. In addition, those white liberals who supported busing and affirmative action tended to be members of the professional and managerial classes who, for the most part, did not have to live with the consequences of their actions.

    The problem of black poverty has yet to be solved and the strategy of social democracy, at least as so far articulated, does little to address the deeper problem of self-respect.

  25. Anon

    RE: Super Trucks

    This is already normal (3 trailers behind a single power cab) along I-80 in Nevada (and parts of Utah).

    I’ve drafted behind them in my personal car for miles and miles and miles. . .. (The truck driver cannot see a smaller vehicle at the tail end of the “caravan”.) Another problem beyond safety is they require larger parking area at commercial/public rest stops.

    Also, the trailer caravan places greater stress on the roadway leading to deterioration. The cost of the Interstate road-base is a direct function of the design weight of the vehicles traveling over it. Your personal car incurs about 1/8000 of a single 18-Wheeler.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall a short article from the 1980s (?) — the Reagan Years — about a change to the Federal Regulations to allow an increase in the maximum weights allowed on Federal highways — but do not recall the details. Does that ring a bell with you?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Only a bell, however I do recall threefers being floated in the Cheney administration as well. Seems a recurring theme.

        Our economy is efficient alright, but only about profits this quarter. With all this big data, why are we still doing “just in time”? Shouldn’t they know where the demand will be? /eyeroll

      2. JTMcPhee

        Anyone remember the stickers so proudly and deceptively displayed on all those semi-trailers’ rear doors in years gone by, the ones that read “This vehicle pays $X,XXX in road use taxes every year.”? I recall those, and have not seen one in years, except faded examples on some long-parked trailers in out-of-the-way storage lots. I do recall that some folks made a bit of a stink about how little the Big Heavies pay toward maintaining the nation’s road infrastructure to repair the pounding they give the highways, compared to the self-congratulatory BernaysSauce conveyed by those stickers.

        And you won’t see a sticker on any three-fer, two-fer or old-fashioned one-fer or box truck, that says “The Diesel Tractor Pulling This Rig emits XXX.X tons of carbon dioxide and XXXX pounds of tiny particles of carcinogenic soot per year, at the cost to the public of $XXX,XXX in medical care, lost work time, and other externalities.” Of course Musk’s Tesla Truck will render nugatory all such concerns…

  26. Oregoncharles

    Audio only in the video of the Corgi riding the pony, though I get the point from the still that does show up.

  27. David Hall

    The article on water in Broken Hill is a perfect example of what goes wrong when we look at an issue without looking at causes or history. Or maybe the author was trying to de-politicise the situation ?

    The issue in Broken Hill revolves around two things, drought and the gay abandon with which upstream cotton growers are flaunting the water law without a whiff of a penalty.

    The national broadcaster blew the lid off this last year. A massive amount of rainfall a couple of years ago didnt reach Broken Hill because pumps upstream captured the lot in vast inland lakes for the cotton growers.

    And the response of the government is to loosen the law so that cotton growers arent inconvenienced by being hauled before the courts. Same old same old in this neoliberal world.

  28. Old Bear

    Those Scottish Highland cows would make great emotional support animals. Maybe the smallest calf would be small enough to be allowed on board the aircraft? I guess it is even larger than a peacock, though.

  29. tim mccarthy

    thanks for the use of ‘malign’ neglect. I thought I was the only one who remembered Nixon’s ‘benign’.

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