Links 4/12/18

Nature

FT

Bloomberg

Wolf Street

FT

AdWeek (JB). From the EU’s GDPR.

Bloomberg. “Bans on securities trading seem to leave anyone in finance vulnerable to falling foul of the U.S.”

FT

The Loadstar

Syraqistan

Editorial Board, WaPo. No, they won’t. “What’s really needed is a concerted strategy for protecting the vital American interests wrapped up in the multi-sided Syrian war — something Mr. Trump, despite the urging of many of his advisers, has failed to develop.” And a pony.

Simon Tisdall, Guardian

Max Fisher, NYT

The Intercept

George Washington’s Blog

HuffPo

TruthDig

Russian International Affairs Council (David Johnson). Worth reading in full:

Suppose another “chemical” or some other incident takes place in Syria. The “chemical” trigger looks most likely. This theme is well-covered by the media and is a serious pretext. Suppose Washington decides to use force, not just a cosmetic strike with ten or twenty Tomahawks, but a massive attack on the remaining military and civilian infrastructure of the Syrian Government. This is the scenario’s first bifurcation, or the matter of Russia’s involvement. Its bases can remain intact. But if Moscow uses its forces (as its military promised) a strike will be delivered at Khmeimim and Tartus. Technically it is possible to launch such a strike and destroy both bases and their military personnel, especially if US troops die during an attack on Bashar al-Assad…..

This scenario may seem extremely risky (if not crazy) but upon closer analysis it has logic of its own. And here comes the next bifurcation. What will Moscow do, if this happens? The first option (that would be the most desirable for Washington): Russia would have to bite the dust and admit defeat. Yes, Russia is a nuclear power but will it mount a nuclear strike because of a clash with the Americans in Syria, knowing that its strike will result in retaliation? In other words, the stakes here are on the hope that Moscow will not press the button because this would mean suicide. In this scenario, victory would be on Washington’s side without reservation. It will show that it is possible and necessary to cut down to size an opponent that has crossed the line. This will be a powerful signal to all the rest while America and Trump personally will gain the reputation of an uncompromising and tough player.

But there is also a second option. It is difficult to analyze it on the basis of the theory of rational choice. It may simply not work within Russia’s strategic culture and tradition. The Russians may press the button. Moscow is not confined to the option of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It can also offer a limited, albeit very painful, response. Technically this is also possible and dangerous in its own way. If, say, an aircraft carrier or a big warship is demonstratively sunk, it is Washington that risks biting the dust. But this is not in the US tradition, either. As a result, tensions will escalate, considerably increasing the risk of MAD.

The Diplomat. “America’s distance from the frontlines of its wars and its inability to accurately discern the physical and human geography of its antagonists have led to a fatal violation of Sun Tzu’s dictum, ‘Know your enemy.'”

China?

Martin Wolf, FT

CFR. Next on the agenda…

Le Monde Diplomatique

Asia Times. How can you write about the Seventh Fleet without mentioning ?

War is Boring. Ditto.

Brexit

Mainly Macro

Sky News

Sports Desk

Bleacher Report

NYT. Knowing FIFA, the deal is in the bag. As it were.

New Cold War

Metropolitan Police

Paul Street, Counterpunch. A review of Corn and Isikoff’s new book.

NYT

Trump Transition

The Atlantic. The liberal Democrat dream for decades: If only there were responsible Republicans to work with. Like Reagan…

Democrats in Disarray

New York Magazine. A very useful corrective.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Krebs on Security

South China Morning Post. Normally, I toss any story with “terrifying” in the headline into the gaslighting file, but this doesn’t look good.

Facebook Fracas

Recode

MarketWatch

Zephyr Teachout, Guardian

The Intercept

Mark Zuckerberg The Verge

Ars Technica (BC). BC: “Ironic how so many products designed for health and hygiene end up being clever marketing gimmicks that just make things worse.”

Class Warfare

Liberty Street Economics

NBER

NYRB

Psychological Science

Society for U.S. Intellectual History

Antidote du Jour ():

Such daffodils!

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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

182 comments

  1. allan

    ‘Investigators Focus on Another Trump Ally: The National Enquirer NYT’

    The AP has more:

    Eight months before the company that owns the National Enquirer paid $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate who claimed she’d had an affair with Donald Trump, the tabloid’s parent made a $30,000 payment to a less famous individual: a former doorman at one of the real estate mogul’s New York City buildings.

    As it did with the ex-Playmate, the Enquirer signed the ex-doorman to a contract that effectively prevented him from going public with a juicy tale that might hurt Trump’s campaign for president. …

    During AP’s reporting, AMI threatened legal action over reporters’ efforts to interview current and former employees and hired the New York law firm Boies [genuflects] Schiller Flexner, which challenged the accuracy of the AP’s reporting. …

    … four longtime Enquirer staffers directly familiar with the episode challenged [AMI executive Dylan] Howard’s version of events. They said they were ordered by top editors to stop pursuing the story before completing potentially promising reporting threads. …

    Alex, I’ll take Unreported In-kind Campaign Contributions for $300 … or make that $30,000.

    The sharks are circling.

    1. Edward E

      Pretty sure Enrique Peña Nieto and Vicente Fox would pay for the walls closing in on the Fouke Monster. Think the FBI don’t want it to leave the boggy creek right now anyways…

      1. Jim Haygood

        It’s He’s real:

        If you visit Fouke, Arkansas 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, remember to keep an eye on the woods just as the sun begins to set. You never know when you might see the legendary Beast of Potomac Creek!

        » Approximately 7 feet tall, weighing 300-500 lbs
        » Orange hair covering head
        » Habitat: Foggy Bottom hardwood

        The Beast of Potomac Creek will always be a stand-out among America’s spooky legends due to his movie fame, continued popularity, and modern sightings.

        As kids in the area, we could never decide which was scarier: the Fouke Monster, or the unsolved string of murders committed by the Phantom Killer of Texarkana.

        MAGA — Make Arkansas Great Again

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think that’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

      The former, including say Bill Clinton, are so attractive, charismatic that intimacy happens naturally and everyone keeps silent to protect those he/she loves.

      The latter, Republicans like Trump, have to buy intimacy and buy silence.

      At least, that’s what I have inferred from years of following the news.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Intimacy with Schumer, Weiner, Pelosi, Bill Nelson, even Elizabeth Warren? Richard Daley? Emanuel? Alex Sink? Debbie Does Wasserman-Schultz? HRC? Hubert Humphrey?

        I agree re the Big Dodg{e}, and everyone would like to get close to the imagos of Barack and especially Michelle and maybe the girls. And of course there’s been a lot of silence bought and gifted to the Rulers’ front-persons if every Brand and stripe… it’s a valid observation, though, even if the exceptions prove the rule…

        1. HotFlash

          Oh, JT So young and so bitter!

          Intimacy with Schumer, Weiner, Pelosi, Bill Nelson, even Elizabeth Warren? Richard Daley? Emanuel? Alex Sink? Debbie Does Wasserman-Schultz? HRC? Hubert Humphrey?

          Of course not, although I remember reading that there was a poll of British men who admitted to wanting have a bonk w/Ms PM Thatcher, so tastes do vary. But in the main, the point of a leader is to lead — thereby obviating the necessity of lower ranking members of the organization, such as those you mention, to stir carnal thoughts.

      2. HotFlash

        Indeedy! My obsveration, which seems to correlate with yours, is that the Reps campaign on a platform (anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-govt, yada) while the Dems present (tada!) a charismatic! candidate!!! It often appears somewhat later that the candidate cannot keep his/her charisma in his/her pants.

        1. polecat

          Someday .. American will elect a leader, wrapped in a Skittels flag, wearing an ‘I’m Still with Her’ campaign button, and donning a pussyhat .. all the while baring claws and FANGs !

    3. Procopius

      Wonder if Cohen has any emails with them discussing that. In-kind campaign contributions is one of the things the Atlantic article mentioned as a likely target for the NY Southern District. As well as money laundering, which I think just about everybody expects to turn up.

    1. The Rev Kev

      She also said that “I have access to friends and family”. Uhhh, what family? From what the Russians are saying, the only family that she has are back in Russia, not the UK. I am going out on a limb here and suggest that her minders are actually trained psychologists working on her at every opportunity. Also that she is being denied any with either her family or her countrymen. And isn’t it the norm to have a person read their own statement at a press conference even if no questions are taken? The whole thing sounds like the plot of one of those old Alfred Hitchcock films with Yulia as the isolated heroine.

      1. ambrit

        Now if only the Scotland Yard could have had a holograw of Charles Boyer read the statement for the press.
        What is troubling here is the sheer effrontery of it all. Things are obviously “wrong” with this affair, or at least, the “official version” of it, and the manipulators barge right ahead without pause.

        1. pretzelattack

          worked with iraq, seems to be working with syria, with the help of the “liberal” msm. i couldn’t even read the guardian today, one look at the headlines about syria was enough.

        2. HotFlash

          Ms Skripal is biung ‘disappeared’ in plain sight. Her father is hostage. And no, I am not wearing a tinfoil hat, I just have eyes.

  2. Kevin

    How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic

    yet again – so many interesting links, so little time!

    1. s.n.

      related:
      The Family Trying to Escape Blame for the Opioid Crisis
      Relatives of the makers of OxyContin claim they have never benefited from money tied to the painkiller. A court document suggests otherwise.

      1. Waking Up

        “…the Purdue family of companies made a nearly $20 million payment to the estate of Arthur Sackler in 1997—two years after OxyContin was approved, and just as the pill was becoming a big seller. As a result, though they do not profit from present-day sales, Arthur’s heirs appear to have benefited at least indirectly from OxyContin”.

        Then there is this:

        The history of Purdue traces back to 1952, when the three brothers—all medical doctors—purchased Purdue Frederick in Manhattan. Arthur was both mentor and visionary. He was inducted into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, which credited him with shaping “pharmaceutical promotion as we know it today.” He pioneered marketing directly to doctors and advertising pharmaceutical products in medical journals. One of his most successful marketing efforts was the promotion of Valium in the 1960s”

        Do Jillian and Elizabeth Sackler honestly believe the other two Sackler brothers, Mortimer and Raymond, learned nothing from their older brother Arthur?

  3. Louis Fyne

    Good grief. People are now wondering, ‘War, what is it good for?’

    The Pentagon hasn’t fought a peer first-world enemy since 1945. And even then the Russians were doing the heavy lifting fighting epic-sized battles on the Eastern Front.

    If a fool chickenhawk wants a fight, send them to Syria. Or Afghanistan. The US still wasn’t won there. Remember?

    1. Carolinian

      On suspects that if Trump were going to attack he would have done it already. Could this all boil down to another “look at me” moment? Lambert talked back during the campaign about how Trump was constantly adjusting his pitch according to crowd reaction. It could be he is someone with no very strongly held principles but who overwhelmingly cares about his brand. Starting WW3 would be very bad for the brand.

      But we shall see….

      1. JTMcPhee

        “But we shall see…” Too bad that us mopes are left with only that bemused and ubiquitous and tautological and somehow discomforting formulation, time after time after time, in our mostly vain efforts to comprehend and then maybe try to influence “events” and “policies” in some direction other than the one that ends in “you’re (family blogged)…”

        Yes indeed, we shall see… Unless blinded by acidic Bernays sauce in the eyes, or maybe that “brighter than 10,000 suns” flash of light before the heat and radiation and blast hit… Or some “cyberattack” takes down “civilization…” Or one of the many other stacked and interlocking and right-at-the-angle-of-repose vulnerabilities and exposures…

        1. Carolinian

          That Trump is in over his head is pretty obvious. On the other hand whether he is employing a “madman strategy” or really is a madman or just likes to shoot off his mouth is a lot less obvious. So far he has continued past Democratic foreign policy for the most part. Toadying to the Israelis and Saudis is a bipartisan affair. If he withdraws from the Iran agreement it will be from something that Obama seemed to finally accomplish only reluctantly.

          As they say in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “don’t panic.” It doesn’t really help. An anti-war movement in this country would be a good thing–never too late to (re)start.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It’s like Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.

            This planet is mad, like the airbase.

            And you want to get out, to a saner place like Mars.

            To get there, you have to be really mad or you have to pretend to be mad. But if you say you’re mad, you can’t be mad. So, you can’t say you’re insane. You can only pretend by acting as if you’re mad.

            And if the Martians believe you (or your acting), they will get your out of this madhouse.

            That’s my theory anyway.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Yes, but there were native Martians when we first got there.

                Today, you can hear the complaint, “Go home, you Earthlings.”

                So, we look to Jupiter, but we only see signs that say ‘Humans not welcome.”

                And walls on other planets and moons as well.

                1. Wukchumni

                  If it wasn’t for Mars Air going bankrupt after i’d arrived on your planet all those years ago on a in theory round trip ticket, I would much rather be back on the red orb.

                  1. blennylips

                    Well that explains it! Since callow youth I’ve always felt to be an An Anthropologist from Mars who can’t wait to get home and make my report:

                    Just never fit in.

          2. Katniss Everdeen

            As regards a “restart” of an antiwar movement, this article suggests that the silencing of Julian Assange may be an aspect of hobbling that.

            Bolton gets stood up and Assange gets shut up.

            I wonder if we’ll look back and think, “It was as plain as the nose on your face.”

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Wasn’t Mr. Assange supposed to have organized the remote storage of vast amounts of leaked material to be released in the most damaging way possible if he was killed or kidnapped or something?

              Are his people in the field debating about whether or not to view this isolation as being a sort of living-death which will eventually have to trigger the total release?

              1. Procopius

                I dunno. I remember many years ago they were making occasional announcements that they had a huge cache of documents from one of the largest banks in the country, proving criminal conspiracy and fraud. They were going to release it “real soon now.” Supposedly the number two guy to Assange, whose name I no longer remember, erased the hard drive containing the documents and nothing was ever released. That might be what happened here.

          3. Sid Finster

            Moreover, it seems apparent that Trump is weak and easily manipulated.

            Show me who he is surrounded by and that will be his policy.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              On the other hand, he’s always mad at those (or many of those) around him.

              “Priebus, out”

              “Get out of here, Bannon.”

              “Tillerson, don’t let the door hit you.”

              “Comey, you’re not surrounding me any longer.”

              “Don’t come around here no more, McMaster.”

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Many of us can sleep better, if, for example, Bolton, who just got the job, is not in there.

          4. Randy

            From my vantage point it is plain that Trump’s mouth is working overtime while his brain is on vacation.

            That might have been OK in his previous New York environment but it isn’t when it comes to being the leader of the “free” world.

            1. wilroncanada

              How does the song put it?
              “Your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime.”

      2. HotFlash

        Lambert talked back during the campaign about how Trump was constantly adjusting his pitch according to crowd reaction.

        Astute observation (Lambert, please feel free to blush modestly), but then you have to wonder. What ‘crowd’ is he surrounded by now? Josh and the Generals?

          1. wilroncanada

            a jokester friend once said to me: there’s a stage leaving in an hour; make sure you’re under it.

      3. Sid_finster

        The problem is that the establishment of both parties (backed a vigorous MSM chorus) will howl “Putin puppet!” until Trump goes to war.

        Even then, they won’t be satisfied for long. The wargasm from the 2017 strikes wore off within a couple of days and then resumed with renewed enthusiasm.

        Nothing less than We March on Moscow will satisfy them.

        Then there’s the Pentagon and intelligence agency ghouls, who will be more than happy to start additional provocations until they get what they want.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Well, we know Bonaparte was not that tall.

            He might have needed a cushion to sit on his throne.

            Probably the same with Madison….a cushion at his Oval Office (if that’s what it was called then).

          2. The Rev Kev

            But this time – it will be different! For sure! The Baltic countries have promised to help by making the sandwiches for the whole invasion force.

            Hey, MyLessThanPrimeBeef. Did you see that Zuckerburg had a thick cushion to sit on in those hearings to raise his height?

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        My guess is there are enough generals who know a sinking ship would look bad. Even if its not the Russians who do it but the Syrians. It would raise questions among the American people who think U.S. soldiers are invincible.

        I would not be surprised if Trump was convinced he could goad the Russians into doing it themselves guaranteeing the Russians do the heavy lifting and hurting Russia’s standing on the world stage. Remember the ability to trust is all that matters. The U.S. becoming agreement incapable is a huge deal in the long term with Russia and China ready to pick up the slack. Given the state of the jobs created domestically, how does the economy function if U.S. defense contractors can’t find places to go where actual U.S. soldiers are on stand by to protect them?

        1. JTMcPhee

          Re “generals” and “admirals” being concerned about losing a ship (no concern about having the ships under their command being barely under control, ):

          On the other hand(s), “Remember The Maine? And remember the Arizona! (The carriers — note how close that word is to “careers” — were at sea when the Japs sneak-attacked Pearl Harbor after attacking all those other places afte the US Empire applied “sanctions” like cutting off oil and steel supplies and stuff!!!) And the poor old Oglala, that was said to have “died of fright” after opening her planking and sinking due some near-hits by Jap bombs… And remember the Cole!

          How come nobody ever seems to Remember The USS Liberty, the US imperial navy spy “signals intelligence” ship that was gathering the ground truths about the duplicity and war crimes of the Israel-ites, back in 1967? Israel-ite jets and torpedo boats attacked the Liberty without warning or provocation, killing 34 US imperial naval personnel and wounding at least 172 more. And this time, they FUBAR’d it and did not manage to sink the ship. And on the evidence, “our best allies and friends and partners in democracy and corruption” were clearly intending to sink the vessel and its crew and reduce the chances the rest of the world would find out about how that 6-Days’ War actually was provoked and started.

          PS: Anyone remember the fate of the Pueblo and the Mayaguez and other Grand Successes by the sneaky Porkers who play in the darkness and place us mopes in such vast jeopardy to suit their self-pleasing stratagems…

          “It’s complicated,” say the Fokkers who circle high in the sun, plotting the next moves in the Great Game Of RISK! ™ that they get off on, consequence-free, so repeatedly…

          As maybe “we” are learning from Facebook and such, mostly we have no “friends…”

      5. Oregoncharles

        ” Starting WW3 would be very bad for the brand.”
        That’s our best hope. You can’t make money off of vaporized real estate.

        I just wish mor eof the neocons grasped that essential point.

        1. Procopius

          I’ve been wondering about that for a couple of years. I’m sure Mattis and Kelly know what would happen in a nuclear war. I think Bolton really knows, although he talks like he doesn’t. There really isn’t any chance any of them are going to make it to the National Redoubt, or whatever it’s called now. Or do they think the Russian Federation is going to give 30 days notice?

  4. TomDority

    Facebook,
    Has you been asked to produce the contract with Cambridge anylitics?
    Cambridge…..your contract with Facebook?

  5. Lambert Strether Post author

    OPCW

    11. The TAV [a technical assistance visit] team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is
    concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.

    12. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

    1. begob

      I think I’ve got this right – the summary uses the term “nerve agent” just once, in reference to the allegation, and after that uses the term “toxic chemical”. BBC instantly reports confirmation of a Soviet nerve agent.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I doubt that the media spin on the above matters at this stage, unless the truth is valued for it’s own sake.

        ” Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war “.

        Thank you Lambert for the fascinating & very pertinent Hamlet article.

        1. Anonymous2

          Yes I agree about the Hamlet article. Not sure I buy either Shapiro or Lewis’s take, however. People so often assume Shakespeare had a ‘message’ but maybe he was just writing plays and wanted to provoke thought? So many theories have been applied to Hamlet that it suggests to me that Shakespeare enjoyed being ambiguous (or should that be polyguous?).

          I do though like the idea – not apparently entertained by Lewis – that maybe the reason that there are several different texts of the play reflects the possibility that Shakespeare kept revising his work and that individual performances of the play were tailored in accordance with circumstances.

          Also not persuaded that Shakespeare’s Catholicism has been ‘disabused’ . Having done some of my own research on this, I came to the conclusion he was pretty concerned to keep his religious beliefs to himself, though not beyond dropping the occasional, possible, hint here and there. Not surprising at a time when people could be killed or punished for their religion. But he liked playing with his audience.

          1. ambrit

            Agree about Shakespeares “playing” with his audiences. After all, he wasn’t just a ‘simple’ playwright. He was also an actor and producer. Since he evidently had to live off of his earnings, based upon popular reception of his plays, tweaking the scripts of his plays to make them more palatable to the paying public isn’t out of the question.
            Then there is the question of the provenance of the various ‘versions’ of a play. It is not unknown for a ‘star’ player to change dialog to make him look and sound better on the stage. The playwright didn’t have to know, and I don’t remember reading about strict copyright laws being enforced back then.

          2. Oregoncharles

            You have a good point about the versions – though some of this could easily happen from transcription, or later editing.

            He was an active member of a troupe of actors. So his plays were subject to constant rewriting as they were rehearsed. That would make for a lot of versions.

            And by the same token, his motives were PRIMARILY commercial. The chief exception is the Histories, which are essentially Tudor propaganda. Again, the central motive was commercial, and self-protective. They were very dependent on royal patronage.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > fascinating & very pertinent Hamlet article.

          Last summer when I was in London, I was lucky enough to see a performance of Hamlet, the first I’ve seen in many years, and came away with a realization that the Danish court really was a complete cess-pit.

          I think the reviewer’s comment was asute: This interpretation of Hamlet may have been colored by 40 years of neoliberalism having turned English Departments into Hunger Games. (I was also thinking of labeling this interpretation the “Game of Thrones” Hamlet, but that doesn’t really capture the view that Hamlet, too, is an “idiot” (“a tale told by an idiot…”). Even though the language of his soliloquies is so beautiful, perhaps the thinking is indeed sloppy. Rather like Stephen Dedalus…

    2. Jesper

      How can a sample taken from something exposed to the elements (weather) be almost pure?

      “almost complete absence of impurities. ”

      Also, if the chemical agent was touched by human hands, how can a sample from that be almost pure?

      The summary does not state where the samples were taken so maybe they found it on more places than the door handle? Safe from weather, human hands and anything else that might have contaminated the purity of the chemical sample….

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        The all-important “chain of custody” is not in evidence.

        The weasel-wording most definitely is in evidence.

        And that “statement” from Ms Skripal? Yeah, under duress, being held incommunicado while pretending that she “just wants to be alone”?

        Pray for her and for her father, as I am sure that it has not been lost on those responsible for the perpetration of this fraud that dead men (and women) tell no tales. Oh, unfortunate, and totally unforeseen relapses and subsequent deaths, all conveniently transpiring behind a veil of secrecy.

        Given the enormities that these sociopaths commit each and every day somewhere on the planet, is this scenario really all that far-fetched? The Skripals mean nothing more to them than the now deceased cat and guinea pigs; I am sure that they are working out how to do it with sufficient plausible deniability, a threshold (come to think of it, given the laziness and/or sedulous complicity of The Respected Media) not difficult to cross. Just shove it all down the Memory Hole. So sad about those Skripals, but really what can you expect when these unfortunate people were in Putler’s crosshairs, what? Pure evil that man, why they said so in The Guardian!

        Ah, but what are they (and ilk in the media) guarding, eh? My vote would go to career-enhancing lying, completely justified to themselves, of course, as liberals of this bent are great fans of situational ethics, and a situation having presented itself that keeps them tight with the wide boys seems tailor-made for an application of that principle.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Strange that they talked all about their techniques and procedures but never gave a list of just where they took their samples from. Was the house interior one of them? They mentioned that they took blood samples from the three people that were attacked but there was no reference to any sample taken from that Persian cat that was at that stage still alive nor from the remains of those two dead guinea pigs.

      1. pretzelattack

        the pets have now been safely incinerated, i read. they had an amazing immunity to next generation chemical weapons.

    4. David

      Capable of making a chemical of high purity. Not capable of making a chemical strong enough to kill, assuming that death was the intended result.

      I’m looking forward to this report being leaked.

      1. David

        Also from the the OPCW,

        The studies with wheat and white mustard indicate that
        these species are able to absorb G- and V-agents readily
        and convert them into harmless products…

        From the conclusion,

        …plants may offer an extra sample option for investigations of alleged use. Plant analysis may be useful for environmental monitoring of pollution from abandoned chemical munitions or during demilitarisation. Fast-growing plants such as white mustard may also have value in bioremediation of contaminated sites.

        1. eric titus

          I guess the OPCW basically confirms the UK’s story about Novichok being used. ‘nothing to see here’

          1. pretzelattack

            well, something being used anyway. by somebody on somebody. hard to tell from the report.

    5. nothing but the truth

      pure novichok that refused to kill the russian.

      either vodka makes people immune to novichok or this is a scam by Soros babies to start WW 3.

  6. Kevin

    Regarding “lip-reading technology” and “don’t give away historic details”.

    Interesting times.
    You take a guy like my father; once he passes, anything you would like to know about his life will have to come from the mouths of those that knew him. Now take my niece and nephew; after they pass, a long and detailed digital biography of their lives will remain behind for anyone interested. Consider that re-writing history is now easier than ever. We’ve conveniently dispensed with facts being an issue and now we can make people “say” whatever we may want via lip-syncing technology.

    Navigating the physical world is hard enough, now we all have our “virtual” twins out there – possibly doing things, in our name, we have no idea about. “Terrifying” seems appropriate.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Haven’t read the article yet, and not sure the ayeaye you referenced.

        The Aye-aye I know is an animal from Madagascar, with a long middle finger, as if it’s being, er, rude with the whole world (just my humble reaction). From Google images:

        Tell me it is not saying “I want to be intimate with you.”

    1. blennylips

      The idea of a “Life Box” has been an idea some corner of the singularitarians universe for some time:

      Rudy #1. Digital Immortality and the Lifebox

      On the other hand, this new lip-reading tech has been used to uncover the actual conversations at the inaugural last year:

      Inauguration Day- A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump

  7. ACF

    Re Russia v the West

    It would be a supreme irony if the President (at least some, not insubstantial #) people voted for because they didn’t want war with Russia ended up triggering/overseeing/not avoiding real war with Russia.

    When I debate my mother over whether or not we are at risk of a WWI re-sorting of power and national borders because of decayed empires and corrupt regimes, she always says no because that was driven by treaties dragging countries in. Well, there’s NATO. But besides that, ego of leaders and ego of nations can function like treaty obligations, treaties with self.

    I mean, I hope against hope that we don’t go there, but there are such massive structural distortions to the ‘world order’ of the 20th century–very much including the refugee crisis in Europe (on the receiving end) and the countries empires have laid waste (on the sending end), rising power dynamics (China), coherent powers (Russia), chaos here, instability in Europe…

    Syria feels very much like it could play a triggering role, whether it’s over this chemical attack (false flag or real) or some future incident.

    The geologist in me looks at the big picture time scale and thinks: well, it’s sort of like climate change–a man-made disaster of global proportions that will reshape life on the planet for thousands of years (at minimum, forever when it comes to extinctions) but in the end Gaia will survive and probably humanity too, just with a smaller and differently distributed population for the foreseeable future. But then there’s the whole nuclear bomb thing. Nuclear war takes a global war to a different order of magnitude of destruction than climate change.

    May cool enough heads prevail that even if bigger wars start, the biggest bombs don’t fall.

    1. Summer

      Since 1900, when the USA began its empire building in earnest, there hasn’t been a President to keep the country out of wars and deadly interventions of other names – overt or covert.
      Maybe the slowest period for covert and overt actions was post-Nixon, pre-Reagan.

      Wars and interventions are not started or stopped by Presidents. Different administrations can tweek around the edges of the conflicts with their “style,” but thd overall foreign policy stays the same.

      The only way to stop war is to stop the funding.

      1. Ted

        Sadly, modern, high population nation states like the US, France, and Britain and Russia can dial up the monetary digits and conscript cannon fodder in endless proportions as far as modern war in concerned. These capabilities were already demonstrated in 1939-1945. The people who find themselves living in geographies controlled by powerful nation states simply have nothing they can do short of general strikes. The complete shutdown or disruption of civil society is the only thing that could bend the needle toward peace, all other forms of “protest”are just so many forms of useless spectacle.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        post-Nixon, pre-Reagan – this means Ford and Carter. You should read a bit more about good ole Jimmy Carter and his buddy Zbigniew Brzezinski. Zbig was the guy who thought arming/training the Afgan rebels against Russia was a good idea… one of those rebels was Osama bin Laden… This is just one example. It definitely was not a slow period for covert whatsoever – it’s just covert was more covert in those days… Ford, maybe, but his involvement in the Warren Commission leads me to believe he had the covert machine running as well.

        1. pretzelattack

          yes and we had been arming people in the middle east, and all over the world, well before that. obl was another funder of the rebels, funnelling saudi money to them. carter also sent weapons aid to indonesia, which was more serious to me.

    2. Summer

      The global war is getting bigger. No “if” about it or “if” there is going to be more.
      If they don’t use the bigger bombs, who will comtinue to buy them?

    3. RUKidding

      That’s why I always laughed and laughed when people said they were voting for Trump because “he won’t start a War with Russia but Hillary FOR SURE WILL.”

      Like, Trump knows WTF he’s doing?? No.

      I figured that, if War was going to happen, it would happen no matter who was POTUS.

      Completely agree that Clinton is a War Hawk’s War Hawk. But I don’t believe – JMHO – that we would be at any greater risk of War, Inc under Clinton v. Trump. And in fact, given how clearly insane Trump is, I think we’re worse off.

      No love lost on Clinton, on my part. What a gawd-awful lack of choice that was.

      Good luck to us all.

      1. polecat

        You can laugh and giggle all you want, but many voters were desperate for a change in direction (as they were when they voted for The O guy, who essentially changed .. nothing), and with Sanders effectively neutered, many chose Trump, hoping his campaign rhetoric would pan out … at least where foreign policy was concerned !

        1. RUKidding

          The general populace feeling desperate & voting for Trump as a possible agent of change is one thing.

          I’m talking about people on certain blogs who purport to be knowledgeable about politics seeing Trump as a viable agent of change.

          1. jrs

            It was often paranoid nonsense about Hillary starting WWIII by people who watched one too many Goldwater opposition ads growing up. Now Hillary is warmongering enough, from the objective record she’s hawkish, and it’s a problem, but hawkish is still a long way from suicidal.

            1. Procopius

              hawkish is still a long way from suicidal.

              I dunno. Who promoted Victoria Nuland and approved her coup? I did vote for Hillary because Trump was so obviously going to be terrible on many other levels, but I was really anxious about doing so. I figured she was going to install Robert Kagan as Secretary of State.

      2. Sid Finster

        To be fair, as a candidate, Trump’s rhetoric on Russia was refreshing. But then again, every candidate since Bush ’41 ran as a non-interventionist. Then, once they took the Oath of Office, something mysterious and amazing happened and each turned into a frothing at the mouth warhawk.

        If the ironies were not already rich enough, Bush ’41 was the only one of the bunch with any real military service. Clinton, Bush the Lesser, and Trump were all draft dodgers in one form or another.

          1. Sid Finster

            Obama never got a chance to dodge the draft. Fear not, I am sure that if the Selective service were to have come a knockin’, Obama would very quickly develop a nasty case of bone spurs, Terminal Athlete’s Foot, or somesuch.

        1. Richard

          And isn’t also amazing that our chattering class NEVER REMEMBERS that they were fooled in exactly the same way a few months ago, ie false flag attack that was never proven. They never remember anything, including the fact that the US electorate is trying to vote against war, that the war party moves from devastation to devastation, that the effing world is on fire while we indulge in these murderous trivialities. Nothing, They remember nothing, publically anyway. And all of us are drawn into their 24 hr. naked emporer madness world. Largely because they pretend to remember nothing. Jimmy Dore is right, there is not much more to understanding the Syria situation than reading and remembering.
          By the way, Dore just dropped a show that covered how Tucker Carlson, of all people, took some time to tell the truth about Syria. That’s the second time that I’ve caught Tucker doing something honest. The other time was the Max Boot incident, but he may have been less motivated by honesty on that occasion, than the delicious opportunity to knock Boot around.

  8. zagonostra

    Has any information emerged on Facebook/MZ connection/collaboration with the “Deep State?”

    Have I’ve been watching too much Lionel Nation, is MZ really just a “Shill” for something much more sinister than a “social media platform.”

    1. third time lucky

      Both what? Ah, both Zuckerberg and Congress, with media help, are working together to fool the public enrich themselves by manipulation of stock prices.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Also, too: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook hearing was an utter sham Zephyr Teachout, Guardian

        Pipsqueak…..er…..tech “titan” zuckerberg founded and runs a company that supposedly took $100,000 in rubles to destroy the greatest “democracy” the world has ever known. Members of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” each have 5 minutes to get to the bottom of this dastardly destruction of “free and fair” elections in the land of liberty, and are fine with that.

        zuck responds with all the patronizing, syrupy sincerity of a high-schooler explaining, ad nauseam, that he came home after curfew because he “fell asleep” at his friend’s house, an “excuse” that even a half-in-the-bag parent would kick to the curb.

        What a clusterf**k. Those “senators” and “representatives” seemed real, real concerned. As if it really happened at all.

        I’d imagine they were too busy wondering exactly how much it would cost to get the zuck to carpet bomb every last hamlet and burg in their state or district with their campaign “ads”, and toss or block whatever their opponent comes up with.

        1. polecat

          It’s theater .. but without being allowed the comfy committee-loge seating for us lowly spectators ..

          … instead, we get the sticky seats !

    2. RUKidding

      It’s just another Congressional Dog ‘n Pony show. Nothing of any value will emerge from this ginned up ersatz “confrontation.” I can’t be bothered to do more than cursorily skim the info from it.

      Zuck will appear to be spanked, and then they’ll all carry on doing whatever TF it is they’re doing.

      And money will change hands behind the scenes, as usual.

      1. CanCyn

        “nothing of any value will emerge….” Well, Zuck’s personal worth is up $3billiion and FB share are up and FB will probably remain a going concern. So nothing of value to us mopes but lots of value to some.

        btw – Am I the only one who thinks that Zuck looks and sounds a little bit like a Muppet? Looks a little like Beaker and sounds a little like Kermit the Frog.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Mystery Consortium Is Said to Offer FIFA $25 Billion for Control of 2 Tournaments

    So, investors from the Middle East and Asia want to pay about $25 billion to buy an expanded version of FIFA’s Club World Cup as well as the rights to a proposed global league for national teams. I wonder if that would include the right to exclude certain countries from the FIFA World Cup as well. As an example, suppose that one of these investors was, say, Saudi Arabia. And at the following FIFA World Cup Qatar, as an example, was informed not to bother packing their bags. Or Russia. Or China. Would not be surprised if it worked out this way.

  10. Summer

    Re: WaPo -Syria
    “What’s really needed is a concerted strategy for protecting the vital American interests wrapped up in the multi-sided Syrian war…”

    It’s obvious the “vital interests” aren’t gassed civilians.
    You would think “vital interests” would be described in detail. They sound really important.

    1. Jen

      “What’s really needed is a concerted strategy for protecting the vital American War Machine interests wrapped up in the multi-sided Syrian war…”

      fixed it!

    2. RUKidding

      The “vital interests” are about the PTB skimming as much off the top of War, Inc machine as possible. There hasn’t been a good escalation of CA$H inna while. Ergo… pitch the IDEA that some rando Syrian children were killed by a “chemical” attack.

      Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket. Chemical weapons once more in the breach!

      Am I cynical?? Do ya have to ask?

      1. polecat

        Has anyone considered ‘biologicals’ as ‘options’ … in the mix of war ???

        Retaliation doesn’t half to mean ‘nuclear’ ..

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Amazon – WaPo – Pentagon contracts.

      Before, we were, if I recall correctly, at least concerned about the appearance of potential conflicts of interest, so that, a paper like WaPo, with that kind of connected dots, would not have published editorials related to the Pentagon.

    4. Lord Koos

      The “vital interest” in question is the route of an oil pipeline in the middle east, a subject which the media is careful to ignore. It’s a lot easier to get people excited about chemical weapons atrocities.

      1. Sid Finster

        I keep hearing that theory, and I don’t buy it.

        Without beating the issue to death, there is a reason nobody parks big, immobile, vulnerable, expensive, critical infrastructure such as a pipeline in a failed state.

        1. Richard

          I tend to agree, I think our interventionist foreign policy is being driven largely by internal elite concerns; as it always has, really. Meaning, when elites feel insecure and pressured by the threat of democracy, war changes the subject very nicely for them. Which is why having a permanent war machine is so handy!!
          Someone needs to tell them that this treatment loses effectiveness after 4 or 5 wars.
          Also, one notices how all the targets are secular despots, meaning Hussein, Quadaffi and Assad. Two of them, the two with oil, provided a fairly high standard of living for their citizens. All were independent/non-aligned. I’m sure there are plenty of other correlations as well. How about this one: in each case of military adventurism, the US appeared to have NO plan or vision for the aftermath? Maybe chaos is the unifying thread?

        2. Oregoncharles

          @ Sid Finster: What’s the alternate route? Jordan/Israel? Under the Red Sea to Egypt? Through Iraq, another failed state, to Turkey? Syria’s in a very strategic spot.

          You do have a point, though. Just as the real purpose of the Iraq War may have been to keep Iraqi oil OFF the market, the real purpose in Syria may be to block the pipeline via massive instability, with bonus services to the Zionist State.

          Actually, the only workable route is Jordan/Israel. No wonder Saudi has been making nice with the zionists.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the real purpose

            Why does there have to be a “real purpose”? Sounds like a monocausal i.e. wrong theory to me.

            Why not just the outcome of the correlation of forces between domestic political factions? (And, to be fair, some nation states).

  11. Jen

    Washington’s blog missed a few of Trump’s latest tweets:

    “Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!”

    Well, he’s not entirely wrong about that, is he?

    And:

    “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

    Several months ago Trump was tweeting about fire and fury in North Korea, his button being bigger, and the punditry were muttering about “bloody nose attacks” and whatnot. Then Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jung Un (which may or may not happen), and the leaders of North and South Korea are now talking. Yes, things could still go horribly awry, but it’s better than it was a few months ago.

    Now Trump is, among other things, tweeting about his missiles being smarter. The punditry are muttering about the options for attacking Syria and what Trump must do. And for that matter what Putin must do.

    There was this little tidbit from Defense Secretary Mattis yesterday:

    “U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, striking a cautious tone after Trump’s threat of missile strikes, said the United States was assessing intelligence about the suspected attack.

    Asked if he had seen enough evidence to blame Assad, Mattis said: “We’re still working on this.”

    The U.S. military was ready to provide military options, if appropriate, he added. It was unclear if his remarks reflected unease about Trump’s apparent move toward military action. ”

    Trump’s foreign policy has been a rolling heart attack from day one, and I’ve certainly been as terrified for the future of humanity over the last few days as I ever have in my life, but I’m starting to feel a sense of deja vu. Maybe, just maybe we might step away from the abyss.

    Links:


    1. Wukchumni

      When Godwins-comparisons lose, but isn’t the ‘let’s see what I can get away with on a provocation basis’, what Adolf was all about?

      The difference being that der fuhrer was more into physical action, rather than idle threats-quickly backed down from.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      With North Korea, I think the likes of Kissinger were trying to convince the Chinese to invade Korea fearful of a Western presence on their border or a nuclear war similar to Brzezinski’s efforts to destabilize Afghanistan in 1977 in some sort of childish game to give our “rivals” their own “Iraq/Libya/misadventures” which have wrecked America’s standing. They don’t know how to react because statecraft isn’t a game in these other countries.

      Of course, the neocons are looking for an easy target. A major military disaster on the 630 news will be hard to spin. I sense they hope to scare the Russians into allowing a strike, but they don’t quite grasp every government rules by the consent of the governed. Putin tolerating Assad being removed at this point would mark his end. The West has run too many operations for the Russian on the street to care what happened in Syria. If the usual suspects make the claim, the exact opposite will be believed. They will look for a government that will protect them.

    3. John k

      Military might be less sanguine than msm about about the possibility of losing some boats here. Dropping bombs on civvies that can’t shoot back is one thing, but ‘responding to the source’ is another. We’ve got admirals on those ships…
      Trump just might have put the military in the position of walking back the alleged chem attack… and even the idea of staying in Syria. And msm can’t attack the military, which is just a wing of mic.
      Hopefully we get through this, and if so, Russia gets us to pull back from me.
      And hey… maybe trump and Putin need to meet to smooth all the ruffled feathers, just like with NK…

      1. Procopius

        I believe Tucker Carlson, who astonished me by pointing out sensibly that a chemical attack was contrary to Assad’s best interests, so something he would be unlikely to approve, also pointed out that as recently as this February, Mattis admitted that he still has no evidence that Assad was behind the attack in Khan Sheikhoun. He also pointed out that America has no national security interest in Syria that will be advanced by randomly bombing people there. World turned upside down.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Very closely observed. China is trying to cool off the trade war, too. Maybe this high-risk negotiating strategy won’t go completely wrong.

  12. Expat2uruguay

    Some goodish news about my new home…

    “The formula has worked. Uruguay kept growing after Brazil and Argentina entered recession in 2014. The middle class, as defined by the World Bank, grew from 39% of the population in 2003 to 71 % in 2015. Uruguay’s income per person is the highest in Latin America.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Kristina Kirchner’s “starve the ganaderos [ranchers]” legacy in Argentina:

      While Argentina slapped export tariffs on beef to hold down domestic prices, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to make all its beef exports electronically traceable.

      Between 2005 and 2012 Argentina’s beef exports fell by three-quarters; Uruguay now sells more than its [much] larger neighbour.

      Uruguay’s example shows that merely getting the economic basics right — and not gratuitously attacking producers — goes a long way. Uruguay’s living costs are higher than in neighbouring Argentina. This particular comparison does not show higher average salaries in Uruguay vs Argentina:

      On the other hand, a mortgage rate of 8.88% in Uruguay vs a swingeing 25.74% across the river shows that ne’er-do-well Argentina just can’t shake its fatal, infantile infatuation with inflation.

  13. third time lucky

    Public bathroom hand (and hair) dryers are ancient biowarefare weapons. Been known for decades, often reported, yet nothing is done as costs boren by third parties.

    PS. Anyone got link to Tucker Carlson testing into war hawks yesterday?

    1. JohnnyGL

      He’s been crushing it for 3 days in a row.

      I think he had the Mississippi Senator on 4/9, a Clinton lawyer on 4/10, and now this magazine editor on 4/11.

      God bless that guy. A warrior against the war machine. I hope Fox keeps him.

      1. Richard

        I don’t know about god bless him, but maybe god give him a nice hug or something. And however it turned out that Tucker is the only guy on corp. media who gets to tell the truth about this, it seems a little risky going forward. Shouldn’t we get one or two more as backups?
        I love how the hand dryer thread morphed into Tucker Carlson. Because of course it did.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          It feels like this upcoming Syria war will really be the first war where the sponsoring populations (U.S., Europe, Israel, Saudi) fully and openly acknowledge it is a war that is everywhere and always and only about: MONEY.

          They kept the fig leaf on for Vietnam; and Iraq/Afghanistan (“no oh no it’s not about oil or Halliburton billions!”). But this time around I feel like everyone knows it’s solely about ringing a cash register. And they’re for it anyway, either openly or else by their complete inaction to stop it.

          Pope Francis used the right word recently when he surveyed the state of humanity: “ashamed”.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another important reminder about public restrooms.

      When you use hand or hands to open that door, and before you proceed to 1. uncover yourself before the stall, 2) to handle your, er, let’s just say ‘you know what,’ in order to do your business, make sure you wash your hands.

      Thus, it’s more critical that washing occurs before than after, but you should do both.

      Most men do only the latter.

  14. timbers

    The Russians may press the button. Moscow is not confined to the option of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It can also offer a limited, albeit very painful, response. Technically this is also possible and dangerous in its own way. If, say, an aircraft carrier or a big warship is demonstratively sunk, it is Washington that risks biting the dust. But this is not in the US tradition, either. As a result, tensions will escalate, considerably increasing the risk of MAD.

    From: Russia vs the West: A War Scenario and a New Logic of Confrontation Russian International Affairs Council (David Johnson).

    Why does he think Russia can/could sink just ONE aircraft carrier? If I were Russia, I’d target every carrier that launched weapons.

    “Wipe them out. All of them.” (Darth Sidious)

    1. whine country

      Forgive me for sounding foolish but, can you have a discussion of MAD without first defining it properly? Yes, I know the acronym stands for Mutually Assured Destruction in the context which you use it, but it is also an English word for insane. Maybe the discussion should focus on it’s English meaning because to me that is the most crucial issue before us now. Trump or Putin and whoever encourages them to conduct any acts of war are without question insane. The Emperor is naked for God’s sake. How much longer are we going to the ignore the fact?

    2. Synapsid

      Could someone please tell David Johnson the difference between “bite the dust” and “bite the bullet?”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Johnson is not the author. Johnson is the source I got the link from.

        The Russian author (highly qualified, in Russian institutions) got the idiom wrong, and, as you point out, in an interesting way.

  15. Indrid Cold

    Regarding Russian responses to USUK attacks on Syria: they actually have other options. Both the US and Britain have gaping vulnerability to non nuclear attacks on infrastructure. The US power grid is a ramshackle affair designed to fill corporate accounts, not withstand sabotage, of either the “cyber” kind, or kinetic. The Chinesebuilt all the PCs, so it’s not at all unlikely they haven’t figured out ways to creep in and monkey wrench the stock markets, the organs of state propaganda ( CNN&c). This would leave Trump and his pal Rachel Maddow to threaten nuclear Armageddon, making the US pull the trigger and end civilization.

    1. Wyoming

      That was also my reaction.

      The Russians have 2 orders of magnitude more options which could fit within their strategic and cultural limitations.

      Rather than keep demonstrating to the west that our actions in the Middle East are nonsensical perhaps they should withdraw and leave us to our foolishness.

      They could always intervene in the Ukraine and return it to democratic governance. Here’s one for nation building rah rah rah.

    2. blennylips

      Both the US and Britain have gaping vulnerability to non nuclear attacks on infrastructure.

      We don’t need no stinking attacks to crumble! Entropy uber alles: .

      Now with climate alternating from freezing to boiling, interrupted now and again by a good soaking, the decay speeds up.

      I think them damn rooskies should just sit back and wait:

      Pentagon stops accepting Lockheed F-35 jets over repair cost dispute
      The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped accepting most deliveries of F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) because of a dispute over who will cover costs for fixing a production error…

      They’ve done their part, they sold us the rope long ago…

        1. whine country

          I have well placed sources who tell me that the pilot shortage is worse than reported and that they are having increasing difficulty keeping planes in the air. Keeping the planes in the air is also exacerbating the pilot shortage issue because pilots can’t pilot when there are no airworthy planes. All discussions of risking escalation of hostilities ignore that fact that despite the incomprehensibly large budget, our military is stretched way too thin. Ironic that our arch enemy today is Russia for I am convinced that Hitler could have very well defeated the Allies had he left Russia alone. Those that do not learn from history…..

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The target was always the Communists/”sub human” slavs for the Junker class and free land for the nationalists respectively. Fighting France and the UK was about preventing an army racing across Europe and grabbing Berlin without a fight especially if those powers decided a strong centralized European power would represent a threat to their colonial structure as a put together Germany could offer the same benefits as the British and French with a less of a heavy handed memory of recent colonialism for much of the world.

            The British and French weren’t going to tolerate Amped-up Prussia moving through the Balkans in 1914, and they wouldn’t allow the rebranded Prussia to do it in 1939. The Soviets knew they were targets. The U.S. invaded in 1919 after all.

            1. Sid Finster

              “The British and French weren’t going to tolerate Amped-up Prussia moving through the Balkans in 1914, and they wouldn’t allow the rebranded Prussia to do it in 1939. The Soviets knew they were targets. The U.S. invaded in 1919 after all.”

              That was the logic behind the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Stalin concluded that the real Anglo-French goal was for Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union to fight it out.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Regarding Russian responses to USUK attacks on Syria: they actually have other options

      They do. But taking out a carrier is kicking the props out from under our imperial presence in a way that an infrastructure attack does not: As I quote periodically:

      JOURNALIST: Sir, how will we know when the aircraft carrier is obsolete?

      ADMIRAL: When it fails in war.

      Paging …

      1. johnnygl

        Wow, funny you dropped that millenium challenge reference. I’d stumbled onto some stuff about that just yesterday and meant to drop links in water cooler but got too busy at work.

        That’s crazy that they held this huge, expensively well-organized war game and the guy commanding the iranian forces dished out a real beating.

        How much did this kind of thing get inside the heads of the top brass at the pentagon during the bush years when cheney was foaming at the mouth and wanted to get iran next?

        Von riper may have saved countless lives, intentionally or not.

  16. Wukchumni

    McCarthyism* is possible if the donkey show doesn’t take back the House, and my Congressman would be the perfect empty suit as Speaker, in that he’s gotten practically nothing done in his tenure in office aside from renaming Bakersfield post offices, I kid you not.

    * The rumor mill that Kevin was having an affair with a Congresswoman, was enough to sink his chances to become Speaker post-Boehner, but that was then and this is now, heck, Gavin Newsom admitted to a past affair and he’s leading handily in the race for the Governor presently.

      1. Wukchumni

        Condit’s district was Modesto or thereabouts, whereas Kevin hails from the streets of Bakersfield, and his district got gerrymandered up this a way awhile back. Devin Nunes really ought to be our Congressman-being a lot closer in Tulare, but you go with the reprobate you have, not the one you don’t want.

  17. The Rev Kev

    Just for laughs and giggles, the US is now demanding that Russia share the Northern Sea Route which goes through Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This was said by Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the US Coast Guard but I think that someone forgot to tell him which coast is referred to in the name US Coast Guard.
    I thought this hilarious as if the Russians agreed, the US would be holding freedom of navigation exercises with nuclear armed ships going back and forth across Russia’s northern waters. Not going to happen. For those interested, the story is at-

  18. JohnnyGL

    Tucker Carlson is now on Day 3 of what’s been a virtuoso performance this week.

    A slow golf clap for Carlson. He’s a lonely voice, but an excellent and important one and he’s doing real damage with a big, prime-time audience on FOX.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Rothman instantly stoops to the usual drive-by sliming, accusing Carlson of propagating a “pro-Assad narrative” for demanding convincing proof of who was responsible for the gas attack (if indeed it actually happened). Even worse, Carlson is getting favorable coverage on RT [gasp!], says Rothman.

      His cavils exemplify the mindless sports-fan mentality which has made TV news unwatchable. When an official call goes against Team America, we’re supposed to scream “kill the ref” even if the videotape confirms its correctness.

      Not hard to spot how the “animal Assad” theme rhymes with the fictitious “Saddam’s WMDs” riff from 2003. Fool me twice, shame on … well, we won’t get fooled again!

        1. integer

          Not sure whether he is a dual citizen, however Rothman is an editor at Commentary magazine. :

          Commentary is a monthly American magazine on religion, Judaism, and politics, as well as social and cultural issues.

          Commentary has been described by Benjamin Balint as the “contentious magazine that transformed the Jewish left into the neoconservative right”, while, according to historian and literary critic Richard Pells, “no other journal of the past half century has been so consistently influential, or so central to the major debates that have transformed the political and intellectual life of the United States.”

      1. Matt

        “well, we won’t get fooled again!”

        Yes we will. Again and again and again. Americans love war when they think it’s cruise missiles and air strikes and “Our Boys” won’t be put in harms way. Look at how Americans saw airstrikes from last year.

    2. The Rev Kev

      “People in America seeking the truth in the media now going to a conservative newsman at Fox news.”

      I bet not many people reading this sentence that I wrote would ever have believed it only two years ago.

  19. ProNewerDeal

    ding-dong, the wicked Paul Ryan political career is dead!

    afaict amongst the most powerful tier of Federal pols, Paul Ryan & 0bama were the most dedicated to destroying social insurance. Paul Ryan & 0bama killed (by killing MedicareForAll & Public Option) & aimed to kill even more, abeit by spreadsheet, more USians than B1n Lad3n or any other Foreign Boogeyman Du Jour could ever dream of. Bush43 tried to prviatize SS briefly but gave it; his focus was warmongering. otoh Ryan & 0bama never stopped trying to destroy SS/Medicare/Medicaid during their time in office.

    I feel much better with these 2 sociopaths out of power. May they both burn in Family Blog.

      1. allan

        Let’s all celebrate with two (virtual)
        Behold the intersectionality of a corrupt and hypocritical politician,
        a paid-for, austerian, Chicago School economist,
        a hedge fund billionaire, and overpriced steak house wines from mediocre vintages.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Cliff Asness (the hedge-fund billionaire), along with his colleagues at AQR, is a very prolific writer who actually manages to work a bit of self-deprecating humor into the dry subject of portfolio management.

          His posts amount to a graduate-level education in finance if you actually read the papers (many of which are posted at SSRN, rather than stranded behind the paywalls of costly academic journals).

          How does a PhD Econ talk to a Republican politician? Very slowly, using single-syllable words. ;-)

      2. Ed Miller

        Probably premature. With his teenage kids as an excuse to stand aside while Rome burns, so to speak, he can be a family man while working out of the public eye on his next move which will conveniently occur after the kids are off to college and/or beyond. There is always a next move. The Eye of Sauron never sleeps.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Let’s take our victory laps while we can….they often don’t last long.

          Honestly, Paul Ryan turned out to be much more incompetent than Beltway pundits led us to believe…..thankfully….

    1. Oregoncharles

      Hardly dead. He’s probably running for higher office. Isn’t he a bit young to retire? Or is it just that he dyes his hair?

  20. Lee

    “What’s really needed is a concerted strategy for protecting the vital American interests wrapped up in the multi-sided Syrian war — something Mr. Trump, despite the urging of many of his advisers, has failed to develop.” And a pony.

    The only “vital American interest” in that region might be the pony and it is my understanding that they can be had elsewhere.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The city of Harran, or Haran, in Turkey, not far from Syria, may be of vital interest to anyone who lends value to a currency and money with ‘In God We Trust’ printed on it, as it was the place Abraham was said to have settled, en route to a new place presumably occupied already, but now promised by Go to the migrant and his family from Ur.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A bit, though, to the extent that there are many world heritage sites there, Iraq and other near by places, they are of interest, to those into history, archaeology, etc.

  21. Ignacio

    The results of analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.
    11. The TAV team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.
    12. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

    So they did it OK in Porton Down. What else?

  22. bruce wilder

    The problem with the design of the U.S. frigates is the number of sailors on board. These ships are compromised in several ways by having very nearly an order of magnitude too many sailors.

    It is telling that in neither fatal collision was the commercial vessel involved disabled. These navy ships are supposed to be heavily armoured vessels, strongly structured to survive and function the hostile use of weapons with high explosives attached, but in both cases they barely survived being rammed in calm seas. And comparatively little damage was done to the commercial vessels.

    The official navy is focused on seamanship, but the design of the ships makes them fragile. Warships cannot be fragile. The systems of navigation and situational awareness are too complicated to be operated safely with the crew training and rest regimes in place — more training is not going to remedy too complicated.

    The number of officers and sailors actually make the systems more complicated — coordinating even a small team to do a job that a single individual could manage is complication. And packing that number into a tin can along with the food they require and their numerous personal effects makes it impossible to isolate human life within an inner hull.

    Redundant systems are necessary on a warship — it should be able to function with a loss of major navigation and propulsion control systems in one location aboard by reason of having alternative systems. Redundancy risks complication if badly designed. And it is that much more stuff to pack aboard. The trade-offs in ship design can be tricky and subtle, but in these frigates the design problem is made hopeless by the sheer size of the crew.

    The official story emphasizes the failures in seamanship that allowed the collisions to occur, but real attention ought to be focused on the systems design deficiencies revealed by the loss of life and disabling of the ships.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One explanation that has been raised is the lack of “sailors.” The number of guys who actually sail the ships has been slashed for years now. Many of the people who operate new computer and weapon systems aren’t “sailors” in any sense of the word leaving too few people to sufficently man the ships.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I have noticed that with the new classes of US Navy ships, that a big part of the design is having a much reduced crew number. Then reality at sea kicks in and then they have to redesign the interior of the ship to accommodate a few score more sailors and even then they are overworked and doing jobs that they do not have the training or qualifications for.
      Another unspoken factor is the fact in war that ships get hit and a missile is capable of killing a dozen or more sailors. The question arises whether that ship still has enough sailors to fight the ship with as well as to make up the damage control parties. I guess that the designers are saying that their designs are so great that they will never be hit. Naval history would suggest otherwise.

  23. Jim Haygood

    After reaching its year-to-date high on March 1st, Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator has flatlined in the succeeding six weeks through today. Chart:

    Incredibly, Bloomberg’s weekly Consumer Comfort index rose to a 17-year high today. Evidently some Americans think trade wars and rising energy prices are good for the economy. :-0

    On the other hand, the 4-week average of initial unemployment claims has crept up from 220,500 on March 1st to 230,000 today. These are low levels, to be sure. But the trend is now going in the wrong direction.

    Industrial materials prices, the third component of Yardeni’s indicator, are flat from March 1st.

    Which way will America’s incipient-war economy go from here? Stay tuned for next week’s Thursday update.

  24. allan

    MIGA: [Marketwatch]

    peaking outside the White House, Sen. Ben Sasse says President Donald Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to look about renegotiating entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal Trump withdrew from on his first day of office. …

    Make ISDS Great Again.

    1. Aumua

      Who here really thought that we were going to get away with ANY positives in this Trump presidency? Who voted for Turmp? Just curious.

      1. jrs

        wow that really was the last positive left. I mean he’s warmongering right along (tell me again that Hillary was going to start a war with Russia, as escalation with Syria ramps up under Trump). Really the only positive left was the TPP.

        The powers that be may get to them all (not that Trump has any soul to sell) on trade and warmongering, but he really is coming out as the worst of the bunch as with someone nominally Dem we might have gotten a bone or two thrown to us domestically (with Sanders) or at least one less bone stolen from us (with Hillary – I mean you have to admit she’d be useless but she wouldn’t appoint @#$# Pruitt to EPA ..).

  25. a different chris

    >It’s Time to Radically Remake the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet

    Radical? Here’s radical:

    Re-outfit them as luxury yachts for the mega-rich. That is pretty much the only real starter in this age of intercontinetal “smart” missles, radio-spectrum control, and of course submarines. I mean the term “sitting duck” applies so accurately to any surface navy vessel nowadays that, however it got originally coined, it is prophetic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wanted to say ‘fishing boats,’ but then, I remembered our over-fishing problem.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you. That’s a very important link and placed between the Syraqistan and China blocks for a reason.

      One of the bright sides of our current plight is that our adversaries may understand us quite well (even if we do not understand them, or indeed even ourselves). They have to, to survive, because of the (current) power imbalance.

  26. Susan the other

    Hamlet. NYRB. I wish someone would write a play about an editor who is trying to delete the third acts of all his/her favorite plays, claiming “Making dramatic conclusions are just rationalizations to ease the play to a merciful conclusion…” After a manic shredding scene there are several disjointed encounters with acquaintances coming by to talk their own book. At some point the weary editor stands up, walks toward the audience and says, “I’m not amoral, I just don’t care… I only have so much energy – I mean, who told us we have to love each other? It takes a lot of work to love people. Or even like them. All we really need to do is have them and tolerate them… (smiles) That’s enough to make me happy.” Fade to black. :-)

  27. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Ocean circulation is changing …
    Now seems like a good time to move to higher ground and the time to move grows shorter as the factors contributing to the rise in ocean levels seem to multiply and suggest non-linearity. The effects of AMOC slowing and the great difficulty in measuring and assessing those effects combined with the inherent complexity of the AMOC system greatly complicates choosing where best to move to. I may give greater weight to my own relatively short-term goals in making that choice since I can’t reasonably predict where is best in the longer-term of my children and my children’s children. The complexity of the ongoing Climate Disruption increases the risks in planning for long-term personal adaptations.

    If anyone is interested in further information about the slowing of the AMOC ocean current there is a recent post at realclimate.org that goes into more detail: [http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018/04/stronger-evidence-for-a-weaker-atlantic-overturning-circulation/#more-21240].

  28. Oregoncharles

    “UK can change mind on EU single market until 2021, says Michel Barnier,” hopefully.

    I still think this is a very likely outcome, and possibly even the plan. “Oh, well, we tried, but it just couldn’t be done.”

    And doesn’t Barnier’s comment contradict claims that it’s already too late?

  29. Oregoncharles

    “Hot-air dryers suck in nasty bathroom bacteria and shoot them at your hands Ars Technica ”

    Mind you, you’re sucking the same “nasty bathroom bacteria” into your LUNGS.

    Personally, I find the hot air driers noisy and ineffective. I just dry my hands on my pants, like any normal person.

  30. newcatty

    RE: “Time out with William James…” Nice to read and be reminded of grad school class called “Perceptions of Reality”. What it brings to mind is my being enthralled with the Moody Blues when I first heard “Nights in White Satin”. Still one of most beautiful and insightful songs ever written and performed. I was lucky enough to see them in cool venue, small and intimate theater in the round in Phoenix.

    “We decide
    What is true
    What is an illusion “

  31. The Rev Kev

    Syraqistan
    Looks like things are cooling off for the moment. Either that or Trump is waiting on that carrier to get to Syria. By then that international team may have established the truth of what happened in Douma – maybe. Let’s take the military component out of the equation for the moment and go with the economic and financial possibilities of what could happen down the track. I am going with the idea that Trump has been shown how the US is the 800 lb gorilla in the world economy and that by throwing around its weight, it can get whatever it wants. It would explain the ruckus with NAFTA as well as China. The US threatens sanctions and tariffs until the target countries buckle down and give into Trump’s demands by changing their rules and economies to suit the US. Russia is undergoing a similar attack. But what else can happen with Russia?
    There was the Global transaction network SWIFT that could be used once. Following sanctions against the Belgium-based SWIFT network by the US back in 2012, this financial network was forced to disconnect Iranian banks from the international network and it stayed that way for four years. There was talk about disconnecting Russia from SWIFT back in 2014 by organizations like the European Parliament after what happened in the Ukraine and Crimea but it did not happen in the end. Russia took the lesson to heart and in the following year the Mir payment system, a domestic version of Visa and MasterCard, was set up. This became vital after several Russian banks (SMP Bank, InvestCapitalBank, Russia Bank and Sobinbank) were unable to use Visa and MasterCard due to the sanctions. So here disconnecting Russia from SWIFT would be more symbolic. That fire-ship has long since sailed. China has done the same counter measures with its CIPS system.
    There is the new Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAASTA) which is so open to interpretation that I wonder if Trump said that it applied to every Russian citizen anywhere that he could get away with it. I would say that it was introduced because SWIFT had been de-neutered. I would reckon that business people and traders value stability and this act is causing chaos as it can be used against any country for any BS reason. It may even be eventually extended to confiscating Russian property but if this act does not cover such a thing, there are others that can be used here. Of course that means that the rule of law and an international trade network based on respect for property goes out the window but hey, this is all about winning, right? And short term aims always trump long term aims, right? Long term aim for the US seems to be to isolate Russia in the same way that Iran was once and cripple its economy but as Yves once pointed out, Russia is an autarky and previous sanctions have only strengthened its long term prospects. And guess what? Russia gets a vote in how it responds to these measures. And they will most definitely be served cold.

  32. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Compliance Doesn’t Pay

    LOL, don’t these people realize the massive truth-telling that headline implies? Just invert it from a negative to a positive statement:

    Crime Pays

    What the hell do you expect, HSBC admits to laundering hundreds of millions of dollars for the worst beheading drug cartels and the Department of Tomfoolery Dept. of Justice decides that the HSBC building must have perpetrated the crime. Zero perp walks. Not one.

    I tell you, we are all sorely going to miss the rule of law, once people realize it has evaporated into the ether.

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