2:00PM Water Cooler 5/9/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“How significant will the freight rail revolution be over sea freight” []. “As per China Railway Corporation, China-Europe freight trains have made around 1,000 trips in the first three months of 2018 which is up by a massive 75% percent compared with the same period last year. As per the company, they attribute this growth to the increase in the number of routes between the two continents and also the increase in train speeds on the Chinese side…. In less than two years, their travel time has been cut from 20 days to 12, while operational costs have decreased by 40 percent…. Of course in terms of cost comparison with sea freight, the participants in this freight rail initiative are aware that this will not be possible without the heavy cost subsidies provided by the Chinese Government.. which sea freight cannot compete against.” Yikes!

“Mexico and the U.S. are at odds over [NAFTA] automotive rules of origin, which has become the key issue for reaching a final deal. Mexican officials presented a counterproposal this week that reportedly sets a 70 percent regional value threshold for cars to avoid tariffs, compared with the 75 percent demanded by the U.S. It would be phased in over 10 years instead of the U.S. four-year demand. Mexico also continues to reject a U.S. proposal that would require 40 percent of a car’s content to be built by workers earning at least $16 per hour” [].

Politics

2020

“Is Cory Booker for real?” [Yahoo News]. Betteridge’s Law applies to this even-handed profile, where this leaped out at me: “An aide to a senior Senate Democrat told Yahoo News about listening to one of Booker’s speeches. Booker wept on stage and had much of the audience joining him. The staffer was shocked when the senator abruptly left amid the applause. ‘I’ve seen him give that speech five times — and each time he cried,’ the senator [staffer??] said.”

That lovable goof, Joe Biden:

More Biden: "I love Bernie but I’m not Bernie sanders. I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys. But this gap is yawning. And it’s having the effect of pulling us apart. You see the politics of it."

— Lydia DePillis (@lydiadepillis)

“The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.” Oh. OK.

2018

“Morrisey Wins as GOP Gets Its Wish in W.Va., Ind., Ohio” []. “The biggest victory for Republicans came in West Virginia, where Don Blankenship, a former coal baron who recently served a prison sentence related to a mining disaster that killed 29 people, finished a distant third. The national party spent more than $1.3 million in recent weeks hoping to sink his campaign, and Trump intervened in the final hours to urge voters against supporting Blankenship. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ultimately won, and will take on Sen. Joe Manchin in the fall.”

“Dems look to decide on midterm message” []. “Party leaders intend to repeat the playbook the party used in 2006, when they won control of the House with promises to prioritize a handful of specific policies largely designed to ease middle-class economic insecurity. Democrats plan to offer a similar platform later this year. The question facing leaders in the meantime, though, is how to hone the list so it resonates most loudly in crucial swing districts while also appeasing various party factions, each of which has its own idea about which issues deserve precedence.” So, working class “economic anxiety” is really a cover for racism. But middle-class “economic insecurity” is…. is…..

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Impeach” []. “Trump is never going to be impeached. This is not a comment on what should happen, just on what will. I don’t know why people perpetuate this fantasy.” Wait, what? Democrats spent two solid years yammering about something that won’t happen?

“Follow The Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way For Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal” []. “[T]oday’s unpopular announcement [from Trump on Iran] may have been exactly what two of Trump’s biggest donors, and , and what one of his biggest inaugural supporters, , paid for when they threw their financial weight behind Trump. Marcus and Adelson, who are also board members of the Likudist , have already received substantial returns on their investment: total alignment by the U.S. behind Israel, next week’s move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and the official dropping of “occupied territories” to describe the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Adelson, for his part, was Trump and the GOP’s biggest campaign supporter. He and his wife Miriam contributed $35 million in outside spending to elect Trump, $20 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a super PAC exclusively dedicated to securing a GOP majority in the House of Representatives), and $35 million to the Senate Leadership Fund (the Senate counterpart) in the 2016 election cycle.” Ka-ching. Although, since money is speech, I guess they were just haveing a “conversation”? And I guess this makes Joe Biden wrong?

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), April 2018: “Prices are up for steel and aluminum but overall wholesale prices proved subdued in April” []. “When excluding food and energy and also a 0.2 percent gain for trade services, the result is only 0.1 percent which, like the headline, is below the low estimate…. Tariffs may be adding some pressure at the base of the wholesale price pipeline, but there’s no evidence of it moving higher.” And: “April 2018 Producer Price Final Demand Year-over-Year Inflation Moderates” []. “The PPI represents inflation pressure (or lack thereof) that migrates into consumer price.”

Wholesale Trade, March 2018: “Usually there’s not much difference between the advance inventory estimate and the month’s final, but there is in March” []. “Wholesale inventories rose only 0.3 percent vs the advance gain of 0.5 percent. The build however is in line with sales which also rose 0.3 percent in the month to keep the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.26.”

Capital Investment: “There is now growing evidence that the economy’s deceleration that followed the collapse of oil related capital expenditures at the end of 2014 continued for about two years after which it reversed course” []. “This means the collapse in private sector deficit spending was replaced by other sources of deficit spending, some of it public, the rest private. The increase in private sector deficit spending was apparently not bank financed, as indicated by bank lending statistics, so seems it must have been done in the capital markets. First quarter weakness, if not reversed in q2, would indicate the contribution of private sector deficit spending is fading, as happened with consumer credit.” Hmm.

Banking: “François Villeroy de Galhau: Between “shadow” banking and an angelic vision of the market – towards a balanced development of non-bank finance” []. “The topic we have chosen to address is far from anodyne: [slide 2] according to the Financial Stability Board (FSB), non-bank financing totalled USD 160 trillion in 2016 [Monitoring Universe of Non-Bank Financial Intermediation, MUNFI], up 50% relative to 2008 and accounting for close to half of all financial assets held by financial institutions worldwide, compared with 40% in 2008. And yet – or maybe precisely because of this – there is still much heated debate over its scope and over what exactly it should be called. In order to better understand it, we need to rid ourselves of two mindsets: first, one of irrational fear, as non-bank finance also enables the financing of growth and innovation; and, in contrast, an over-idealised or “angelic” vision of the sector, as shadow banking does indeed carry risks and regulators have a role to play in mitigating them.” What could go wrong?

Banking: “WMD Old and New Primed for Next Financial Crisis” [Satyajit Das, ]. This is a must read, and helps make sense of the rather Dephic BIS speech above. “The recurrent risks introduced by new instruments are straightforward. The assumption of market liquidity fails repeatedly to recognize that no product can be more liquid than its underlying asset — which frequently can’t be traded during dislocations. ETFs and automated trading create a perverse illusion of liquidity in favorable, calm conditions. Research by the Bank of England found that in times of stress, algorithmic trading provided poor liquidity and inefficient prices, magnifying shocks. In the next crisis, that will be exacerbated by a reduction in the number of market-makers and their risk-taking appetite due to regulatory changes and reluctance to lose capital. Liquidity has also diminished because of market fragmentation.” Another warning sign: “[T]here’s a lack of institutional memory. Investors, traders and risk managers who made mistakes in the last crisis are rarely retained. Many current financial market participants began their careers after 2008 and have never experienced a serious downturn.” “The night they re-read Minsky,” to quote Paul Krugman long ago, before he lost his mind.

Energy: “Power Demand Is Doing Something Weird: It’s Rising in Some Places” []. “Something’s happening in the electricity market that hasn’t happened in years. Americans east of the Rocky Mountains are — at least for now — ramping up their power use. High commodity prices have led to increased power demand from the oil and gas and metals industries, and so have changes to U.S. tax law, according to first-quarter earnings reports from some of the largest U.S. utility companies. Jobs growth and industrial activity have also boosted electricity sales.”

Commodities: “Volatile aluminum prices are shaking up manufacturing supply chains. Prices last month swung to their widest monthly range since at least 1997 after the U.S. sanctioned Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal” []. “The impact has jolted companies that make everything from jets to beer cans. Some suppliers have canceled deliveries, leaving businesses unsure whether they can meet production targets for products like window frames and car parts. And some buyers already grappling with limited supply options in the wake of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports left Rusal deliveries unopened for fear of violating sanctions. Although prices have retreated some since their April highs, companies like Whirlpool Corp. and Caterpillar Inc. say rising metals costs are a potential headwind and industry veterans expect the rollercoaster ride to continue.”

Commodities: “Maple Syrup Cartel Has a Plan to Cover Shortfall” []. “Output of maple syrup in Quebec, the largest global producer, is poised to fall as much as 27 percent to 110 million pounds (49,900 metric tons), according to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers — a government-sanctioned sales agency that sets bulk prices for about 72 percent of the world’s syrup and limits farmer output through quotas. Production was hurt after below-average daytime temperatures resulted in less sap flowing from the province’s trees. The good news is nobody’s waffles will go bare, thanks to the agency’s strategic reserve.”

Retail: “Walmart says Flipkart is ‘a key center of learning’ for its entire global business” []. “Walmart has opened up on the thinking behind its $16 billion majority investment in Flipkart, and perhaps the most interesting facet is that the retailer plans to export ideas from the Indian e-commerce firm to the rest of its global business, including the U.S..’ ‘At Walmart, we’re learning how to build — and how to partner to build — retail ecosystems around the world. India will now become a key center of learning for our entire company,’ [Walmart CEO Doug McMillon] said on a call with analysts following the announcement of the deal… .’Not only is [Flipkart] innovative [with the] problem-solving culture that they have, but they are doing some great work both in the AI space, how they are using data across their platforms but particularly in terms of the payment platform that they’ve created through PhonePe,’ Judith McKenna, Walmart COO, said on the call.”

Shipping: “Weekend package delivery is throwing a wrench in United Parcel Service Inc.’s labor negotiations. The parcel carrier and the Teamsters union are discussing a two-tier wage system that could have lower-paid workers deliver on weekends” []. “[T]he strategy is part of the delivery giant’s hunt for ways to cope with surging e-commerce volumes while keeping costs under control. The majority of UPS packages in the U.S. now go to consumers rather than businesses, which makes delivery more expensive—especially on weekends, when unionized package-truck drivers can earn premium overtime pay. The hybrid driver proposal has caused a rift between some factions within the union, and comes as UPS is trying to finalize one of the largest collective bargaining agreements in the U.S. before it expires this summer.” As it should; two-tier deals — as for example with Social Security, where eligibility is random with respect to birth — are horrible.

Shipping: “Private equity firm teams with former OHL CEO to acquire 3PL companies” ]. 3PL: third-party logistics. “Private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe said today it has partnered with Randall E. Curran, the former CEO of Ozburn-Hessey Logistics LLC (“OHL”), to identify third-party logistics (3PL) providers that may want to be acquired. The partnership will initially focus on U.S.-based contract logistics and transportation management providers, firms whose services are in high demand but which often lack the internal resources needed to maximize their growth, Welsh, Carson said. The 3PL market is also very fragmented, with many niche players that may be looking for an exit strategy.”

Shipping: “A stark difference in opinion over truck size and weight remains intact between trucking and rail” []. “The [Americans for Modern Transportation’s] letter, which was signed by several companies such as FedEx, Amazon, UPS, XPO Logistics, the National Retail Federation, and NASSTRAC, among others, called for policies to improve vehicle safety, reduce congestion, lower fuel consumption, and address freight capacity, things they said can be addressed by raising the national twin trailer standard from 28 feet to 33 feet…. Not surprisingly, the [Association of American Railroads] has a different take on twin-33’s, explaining in a statement on its web site that that Congress already maintains ‘reasonable limits’ on interstate highway system truck sizes at 80,000 pounds and no more than two 28-foot trailers for total length… AAR President and CEO Ed Hamberger has previously stated that increasing truck size and weight would come at the expense of billions to dollars to taxpayers in the form of damaged roads and bridges. The added truck weight will further destroy precious national infrastructure and cost taxpayers dearly and allowing trucks to be 14% heavier would be a fundamental change to national policy, according to Hamberger.” Seems to me like the AAR has the right of it….

Pensions: “Multiemployer pension a ‘ticking time bomb’ for Teamsters’ trucking retirees” []. “Since deregulation in 1980, there have been more than 500 Teamsters-covered trucking companies close, fail or go out of business. That has left just a handful of unionized LTL carriers often supporting tens of thousands of retirees who never actually worked for the surviving companies…. The U.S. Chamber has estimated multiemployer plans contributed more than $2.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2015, the last full year for which records are available…. The multiemployer pension plans of 1.5 million workers and retirees nationwide are facing shortfalls and are at risk of insolvency in the coming decade. Multiemployer plans are at risk because there are about four retirees pulling benefits for every active worker. There are only about 80,000 unionized workers, mostly Teamsters, in the heavy freight sector of the trucking industry. Their dues are supporting perhaps as many as 350,000 unionized retirees, many in trucking industry. (UPS Teamsters, which number about 260,000, are in separate pension plans).”

Pensions: “Pension Fund Gamble: Colorado’s $9 Billion Question Mark” []. “As the legislature now considers the final version of the PERA reform bill in the waning days of the 2018 legislative session, the consensus among lawmakers seems to be that Colorado must ask for more sacrifice from the PERA’s more than 500,000 members, who on average receive $3,193 a month in benefits and who do not receive Social Security. And yet, despite all the talk of belt-tightening, lawmakers have not done anything to impede the nine-figure payments to one elite set of PERA beneficiaries: the wealthiest people on Earth, who live 1,600 miles to the east. Ask legislators at Colorado’s capitol if they’ve even heard about the $1 billion of investment fees the state’s pension system paid out to external money managers between 2009 and 2016, and you will get blank stares. Ask them if they realize those are only the fees that are disclosed — and that there are likely hundreds of millions of dollars of additional fees being paid out — and they will express disbelief. Ask them if they know that state officials passed legislation — written by the financial industry — barring the details of the fee terms from being revealed to the public, and you will elicit outrage.”

Tech: Report from Google I/O [@Pinboard]. Thread:

Crowd at Google I/O is doing the man wave. There's like 80 copies of the same dude visible just from the one camera angle. The simulators are cutting costs.

— Pinboard (@Pinboard)

Google Duplex, an AI application, sounds especially creepy:

Google Duplex is a phone tree that calls YOU, and turns every phone call into a Turing test. The on-stage demos all involve deceiving a real human being into thinking they're in a conversation with a person.

— Pinboard (@Pinboard)

And:

There is such a paucity of vision in Google's stunted view of the world as a convenience store for the gifted, but that doesn't stop them from rolling out everything at scale in 127 countries, with no oversight or accountability. They're giant kids and the world is their sandbox

— Pinboard (@Pinboard)

The Bezzle: Handy charts from a Tesla short [@TeslaCharts]. Thread:

0/ Now that things are a bit quiet, it is time for the comprehensive charting of 's Q1 results. Note that I've limited things to the last five quarters, because these include the full impact of SolarCity. Before beginning, please read my disclosures…

— TeslaCharts (@TeslaCharts)

Five Horsemen: “Amazon is threatening to blow the top off the Five Horsemen chart again” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 9 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s drop in the put-call ratio to 0.83 from a May 1st high of 1.11 (indicating a high demand for downside protection) helped the mania-panic index rise to 57 (complacency)” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index May 8 2018

Net Neutrality

“Comcast won’t give new speed boost to Internet users who don’t buy TV service” []. Here we go.

“The Senate has forced a vote to restore net neutrality” []. “Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and 32 other Democrats have submitted a new discharge petition under the Congressional Review Act, setting the stage for a full congressional vote to restore net neutrality. , the petition has the power to force a Senate vote on the resolution, which leaders say is expected next week…. So far, 50 senators have come out in support of the bill: 48 Democrats together with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Activists have targeted moderate Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) as a possible 51st vote. The 2015 net neutrality rules are still broadly popular, which activists hope will make members of Congress wary of voting against them.” So if any of you have a Republican Senator, feel free to give them a call, because Net Neutrality helps Cfdtrade.

Health Care

“Drug made famous by Shkreli’s 5,000% price hike is still $750 a pill” []. Of course it is.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“California Counties Jump Into Opioid Litigation” []. “As lawsuits over the opioid crisis have spread nationwide, the country’s most populous state has largely stayed on the sidelines. Now, 30 counties in California are jumping in, seeking recovery for alleged taxpayer losses from the major makers and distributors of opioid painkillers. The counties, largely centered in the rural northern and central regions of the state, are each filing lawsuits in federal court. The actions will likely be sent to a federal judge in Ohio, who is …. The California lawsuits claim the manufacturers aggressively, and unlawfully, marketed their painkillers while playing down their addictive qualities and that the distributors neglected their legal duty to monitor, detect and report suspicious orders. The counties are seeking to recover costs stemming from medical care and rehabilitation services to treat opioid addiction, care for children whose parents are incapacitated by opioid use and infants born with opioid-related conditions, and law enforcement and public safety.”

Class Warfare

“A Free Ride: Data Brokers’ Rent-Seeking Behavior and the Future of Data Inequality” (PDF) []. ” To the Authors’ knowledge, research has not explored data brokers’ rent-seeking behavior and how it will further inequality in accessing credible data—or “data inequality.” The Authors contend that without a federal mission to ensure cost-free access to personal data for research and public access purposes, data brokers’ sale of such data will potentially lead to biased or inaccurate research results. This development would further the interests of the educated wealthy at the expense of the general public.” So Google’s crapified search has a bright side?

“The Wealthy Are Hoarding $10 Billion of Bitcoin in Bunkers” []. Literally: “Behind the guards, the blast doors and down corridors of reinforced concrete, sit the encrypted computer servers — connected to nothing — that hold keys to a vast digital fortune…. Argentine entrepreneur Wences Casares has spent the past several years persuading Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires that Bitcoin is the global currency of the future, that they need to buy some, and that he’s the man to safeguard it. His startup, Xapo, has built a network of underground vaults on five continents, including one in a decommissioned Swiss military bunker. In the rarefied world of wealth management, Xapo is known for a client list studded with family offices… [Casares’] evangelizing of Bitcoin is so pervasive in Silicon Valley that when Hoffman asked his family office to buy some, his banker asked when he’d spoken to Casares. Xapo’s advisers now include former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, ex-Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Reed and Visa International founder Dee Hock.”

“The Problem With ‘Feminist’ Men” [Jill Filipovic, ]. “At home, it seems, Mr. Schneiderman was a sexual sadist and manipulative misogynist. At work, he was a champion of women’s rights, investigating potential charges against Harvey Weinstein, appearing at events supporting reproductive freedom, and even writing a bill specifically to punish the same kind of strangulation he is said to have forced on some of his partners. How do we reconcile these two versions of a single man?” Followed by speculation, not without insight. Then there’s this: “Then, she says, [Schneiderman] slapped her across the face, twice. She didn’t report it because ‘He’s a good attorney general, he’s doing good things. I didn’t want to jeopardize that.'” Making the class aspect of the story quite clear, no?

“Human Bus Drivers Will Always Be Better Than Robot Bus Drivers” []. “‘We have regular emergencies on the buses,’ said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union. ‘Folks have heart attacks on buses, children get lost on buses. Every aspect of life in America, the bus and subway are microcosms of it. A robot’s not going to help.'” Help whom? With what?

News of The Wired

Their plot worked:

How about this, UK?

— English Russia (@EnglishRussia1)

“Despite Korea Unification, North And South Louisiana No Closer To Making Peace” [].

* * *

Readers, feel free to me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (CC):

CC writes: “I took this picture in our backyard this afternoon. I know nothing about plants and so cannot tell you what these are, but I think they’re quite lovely and much nicer than the grass that’s supposed to grow in that area.” Almost anything is lovelier than a lawn, but the angle of the light here is very pleasing.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive back both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.

Donate

If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

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

102 comments

  1. UserFriendly

    Energy: “Power Demand Is Doing Something Weird: It’s Rising in Some Places” [Bloomberg].

    lol I was friends with the author of this a ways back.

    Reply
  2. Michael Fiorillo

    Trump reneges on the Iran nuclear deal, at the behest of Adelson, Marcus and Singer?

    Even clearer evidence that Putin’s behind it all !

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Did these three rich people buy Trump’s opinion on the JCPOA matter? Or did Trump oppose it starting several years before these three gave him any money?

      Or did they give him money because they liked the way he already thinked anyway? I don’t see how giving money to his inauguration (after he was already safely elected and didn’t need the money for that) would change his opinion after he was safe from caring what anyone thought about his opinion anymore.

      I can see money from the two big campaign donors being considered to have helped pay Trump’s way into winning the election . . . but did they get him to create his opinion on JCPOA in exchange for their money? Or did they pay-assist his way into power so they could benefit from the opinion he already had anyway? I think its the second.

      Reply
      1. makedoanmend

        Is there any real evidence that President Trump thought about and was overly concerned about the Iranian deal “several” years ago – or even knew about the details and dynamics of the Iranian deal before his quixotic presidential quest?

        Beyond a vague notion that the USA is #1 and exceptional and that he is the most exceptional amongst exceptionals, I find it rather hard to determine what Trump believes, knows, or plans beyond a 24 hour frame.

        The merry go round that is the distinctive hallmark of his cabinet suggests that there is little substance or long term strategy inherent in President Trump’s formulations. President Trump seems rather out of his depth.

        Yet a substantive agreement forged by several world powers that diffused the West’s obsession with Iran was blithely broken because for no other supposed reason that “it was a bad deal.”

        His speech announcing the withdraw was drivel; completely lacking substance relevant to the dynamics of international relations. Many of his pronouncements were absurd. (If he had thought about the Iranian deal long and hard, his speech spectacularly failed to reveal his thinking in his speech. God forbid that this is how he actually thinks.)

        A lo and behold the very next day the Israelis claim Iran has attacked them from Syria. The sheer arrogance of these so called world leaders is breath taking. Many don’t even pretend to care about what they do, nor go out of their way to provided a pretence that their dangerous actions are justified. They want what they want and they’re going to take it and to hell with the consequences.

        We live in dangerous times made exponentially more dangerous by idiots whose agendas do not jive with what the rest of the world’s populations want or need.

        It seems these days that between the Brits, Americans and Israelis, abetted by their European poodles, that we are treated to a smorgasbord of new threats to world security on an almost monthly basis.

        Real problems for working people fester while these feckers foster mayhem for profit and self aggrandisement.

        (and the money quip was a 2fer – referring also the industrial/military complex)

        Reply
    2. Procopius

      Even clearer evidence that Putin’s behind it all !

      Why so cryptic? Adelson is a fanatic zionist who also wants war with Iran. I think Singer is, too. I don’t know about Marcus. How does their involvement prove Putin is behind it? If anything, I would think this suggests that it’s contrary to what Putin wants, although I will say that the rise in oil prices is good for them. It’s good for Israel’s ally, Saudi Arabia, too.

      Reply
  3. fresno dan

    Commodities: “Maple Syrup Cartel Has a Plan to Cover Shortfall” [Bloomberg].

    The good news is nobody’s waffles will go bare, thanks to the agency’s strategic reserve.”
    ==================================
    I THOUGHT THIS WAS A FAMILY BLOG….oh, Waffles – never mind…..

    Reply
    1. Chas

      As a maple syrup producer I was encouraged by the news Quebec had a bad sugaring season because maybe that will increase the price of syrup to the producers in the U.S., which has been dropping steadily for eight years. We had a good season in Vermont. U.S. sugarmakers would benefit from being given a quota and also from a strategic reserve.

      Reply
  4. flora

    ” Booker wept on stage and had much of the audience joining him. The staffer was shocked when the senator abruptly left amid the applause. ‘I’ve seen him give that speech five times — and each time he cried,’ the senator [staffer??] said.”

    So, wait…Booker is really rev Jimmy (‘I have sinned’) Swaggart in disguise? Or is he merely adopting the ‘You can tell I’m sincere cause I’m a guy who is crying‘ shtick?

    Reply
      1. Mike Mc

        Hard to look at Booker’s record and not see Obama Jr. or Obama 3.0. Or a male Kamala Harris for that matter.

        Really really really want to see Gillebrand/Gabbard ticket for 2020. (Happy to hear the problems with these two however.)

        So old I was a Gary Hart delegate to our state Democratic convention in 1984. G/G combo seems to tick off a lot of boxes AND might just bridge the DNC/DSA gap in the Dems right now. Not hard to imagine Bernie and Liz Warren campaigning like crazy for this ticket too, but I grew up in the 1960s and 70s – some flashbacks may occur.

        Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          I was a Jackson delegate in Kansas. Had it not been for the Monkey Business, Gary would have been Bill Clinton 4 years before Bill Clinton.

          Reply
          1. Mike Mc

            Yup. Been a registered Democrat for 36 years watching good people lose to various flavors of GOP scumbags, while having to hold my nose and vote for Clinton twice to try and restore what Reagan and his band of brigands were tearing down. Instead ol’ Bill decided to out-GOP the GOP and here we are.

            Hope springs eternal however, so perhaps Nov. 2018 and Nov. 2020 will find actual adults doing adulty stuff like getting out the vote and voting in enough other adults that we can keep our beloved Republic around a while longer.

            Reply
            1. pretzelattack

              yeah i initially fell for clinton’s bullshit too, even excused some of his moves to the right as pragmatism. i was just so happy to get a democrat back in the white house after reagan/bush.

              Reply
        2. Big River Bandido

          As a New Yorker, Gillebrand strikes me as nothing but a finger-to-the-wind pol of zero conviction, besides getting re-elected. The last general election that I came out to vote for the Democrat presidential nominee was 2000, and none too enthusiastically that year; I certainly wouldn’t change that pattern for any of the potential nominees save Sanders, whom the party will desperately try to keep off the ticket.

          Reply
          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is something about her Hindu religion, and her teacher Butler, who broke away from Hare Krishna.

            Also something about working with the Republicans, and being called by one as ‘the most Christlike member in Congress.’

            And something about Modi, and other stuff.

            What specifics are we talking about here, the article being a long one?

            Reply
          2. ChrisPacific

            It was a decent article, although it didn’t tell me much about her that I didn’t already know. I got the sense that the interviewer found her confusing. She doesn’t pursue votes above all like some Democrats, often giving priority to principles and convictions. She obviously thought her meeting with Assad was useful and worthwhile, and continues to think so, even though it probably hurt her politically in the short term. But her principles and convictions aren’t fixed, and some of the things she believes now are different from what she used to, or what her teachers and mentors believe.

            My impression (given her upbringing and background) is that she is naturally skeptical, suspicious of established narratives, and believes in finding things out for herself first-hand – hence her meetings with persona non grata types, volunteering for active duty, and so on. This seems to extend to us-versus-them narratives – the article describes this approach as bipartisanship, but to me it looks more like the same skepticism extended to adversarial politics and party-based positioning. The Aloha Spirit sign in her office is another example – it sounds like a platitude, but it’s actually quite subversive in the Washington environment, which divides the world into good guys and bad guys along multiple lines and at different scales, based on criteria that you’re not supposed to question. Saying that everyone is worthy of respect and consideration is at odds with that approach.

            Personally I think the skeptical/questioning archetype for a politician is great and we need more of them, so I’d like to see her continue to succeed.

            Reply
            1. JBird

              which divides the world into good guys and bad guys along multiple lines and at different scales, based on criteria that you’re not supposed to question. Saying that everyone is worthy of respect and consideration is at odds with that approach.

              When thinking and acting on the belief that someone has to just like you or else they’re vermin is normal we have gone into political insanity. Most people do not fit into those neat little boxes of beliefs, values, class, gender, race, social activities, or whatever. They just don’t. However, the political/media/overlord industrial complex insists on trying. It’s great on dividing people into easily manipulated groups though.

              Reply
    1. tempestteacup

      I believe it is a well-established affect of sociopathic personalities to be endlessly fascinated and moved by their own ability to emote, especially when the emotions in question are performed in the most mawkish ways possible. Sociopaths may be installed in the popular imagination as almost completely alienated actors who veil their essential lack of feeling for others with carefully cultivated mimicry, but perhaps they should also be seen as prone to sudden bouts of bathos and maudlin transports of self-regard. In that context, moving oneself to tears by the power of one’s own rhetoric, and presenting it each time as an artless glimpse of sensitivity rather than an entirely predictable bit of political stagecraft – believing and deceiving at the same time – would be very much the sort of thing you might expect to encounter from the Cory Bookers of this world.

      Whether he is or isn’t, I still find it all too easy to imagine Booker genuinely moved to tears by what he feels to be the majesty of his own speechifying – irregardless of the fact that it’s actual content is much more likely to be a mixture of word salad, neoliberal euphemism, brazen dissembling all sweetened with his patented brand of aw shucks optimism.

      Reply
    1. Harold

      It does look like ajuga (“bloomtime May-June”)– lit by a gorgeous sunbeam. Perhaps Spring is farther advanced where this person lives.

      Reply
  5. PKMKII

    Good news on the personal front: divested my bank accounts out of my old TBTF and into a credit union. Credit card and mortgage are still stuck in TBTF’s, but I can’t get rid of the card as it’s my oldest and I pay in full every month, and the mortgage interest rate is so low that after admin costs I doubt they’re making much money off me.

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’ like trying to dump the D party. As someone replied to my comment a while back, it’s not the easy.

      One might be stuck, in both cases, in various ways for a while.

      Reply
  6. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

    “The Wealthy Are Hoarding $10 Billion of Bitcoin in Bunkers”

    This may be a stupid question, since I, at best, sporadically follow the cryptocurrency markets, but if the world gets to the point where wealthy disaster fetishists have to live in a bunker to survive the unwashed hordes (or nuclear winter, rising seas, virulent epidemics, invasion by space-farers, take your pick), what makes them think that bitcoin will be actively trading, let alone worth anything at all? Especially if it’s some kind of doomsday scenario…they’d better have tons of servers in there, too, else their precious blockchain will be nothing but magic smoke.

    Reply
    1. Kurtismayfield

      They never plan on selling the Bitcoin futures. They just want to swim in them,

      You make a good point. They would be better off storing canned goods and shotguns, but they cannot envision a world where no one gives a crap about their wealth.

      Reply
    2. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Crypto Wealth – my reading of it:

      I suppose for the mega wealthy cryptowealth is just another form of diversification. Perhaps they haven’t worked out is that real wealth is in the health, organisation and standards of whatever country or sovereign entity their particular unit of account is based on. (If the US collapses due to Yellowstone blowing its top, are all those USD held by foreigners worth anything?)

      With Bitcoin and others the wealth is based on the health, organisation and standards of everywhere and nowhere.

      If money is a manifestation of law, the crypotocurrencies which the mega wealthy hold are a manifestation of the international law of good intentions. I don’t believe the BIS recognises packages of meaningless computer code as a unit of account. Perhaps readers could elucidate me on this.

      The three words: ‘unit of account’* are the key to it all. With crypto, who is the keeper of account? Who do you turn to for recompense if your wallet is scammed. Well, you as holder of the key(s) are the keeper of account. Go look in the mirror and ask for your cryptocoins back and see if you see any signs of recompense.

      At least with gold, you can see your ingots but with crypto, what ya got? I regard gold as panic money (not that I’d reject some). If I had a choice in a panic: gold or hard drives? Hmm….

      Pip-Pip

      *Along with fungibility

      Reply
  7. flora

    re:’ “Dems look to decide on midterm message” [The Hill]. “Party leaders intend to repeat the playbook the party used in 2006, ” ‘

    Whew! The Dem’s dry power * is still safe from being used in this election cycle.

    *

    Reply
    1. Lee

      This is so worth reading. Indeed, I have done so several times. Naturally, the author of this brilliant 2007 piece was banned shortly thereafter from Daily Kos.

      Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Getting a bit late to be working on that midterm message. Reworking is more like it, I think. They thought they HAD the midterm message set, much as in 2010 they thought they’d be running on “Summer of Recovery”.

      But the dim realization is beginning to dawn that RussiaStormyScandal 24/7 isn’t quite the silver bullet they envisioned, and something else might be required. “A better deal” was supposed to be that at one point, but that left people so unmoved that it seems to have been erased.

      Reply
      1. John k

        A better better deal?
        That would convince a lot of those on the fence.
        Course, there’s not so many perched on that fence these days…

        Reply
            1. JBird

              They might actually have to govern for the actual welfare of the people and not our 0.01% Overlords? Heavens, they might lose those bribes and have to consort with poor people!

              😩

              Reply
              1. pretzelattack

                im sure they will never do that. if they did win, they would just find a way to lose over and over, as obama did when they had the presidency, the senate and the house.

                Reply
  8. Ed Miller

    Re: WMD Old and New Primed for Next Financial Crisis

    I thought the best line of this article was the last line.

    “To paraphrase the comedian Will Rogers’ observation about war: You can’t say financial systems don’t progress — in every new crisis they kill you in a new way.”

    Put another way, in every new crisis they kill you (America, ex-Wall Street slime) in a new way. Isn’t this why Mayor Bloomberg said that people don’t understand why Jamie Dimon is the best banker NY has ever had? He brings more money into NY that any other banker has (from memory, so the words may not be perfectly correct but the meaning certainly is). Every crisis strips assets from those not part of the scam and the scammers walk.

    Reply
  9. allan

    The curious relationship between one of the world’s biggest drug makers and President Trump’s personal lawyer began early last year when Michael Cohen, a longtime fixer for the president, reached out to Novartis’s then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new administration …

    In March 2017, a group of Novartis employees, mostly from the government affairs and lobbying teams, met with Cohen in New York to discuss specific issues and strategies. But the meeting was a disappointment, the insider explained, and the Novartis squad left with the impression that Cohen and Essential Consultants — the firm controlled by Cohen that Novartis was making payments to — may not be able to deliver.

    “At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was a probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the employee continued. Rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. “It might have caused anger,” this person said. …

    Giving someone money, receiving nothing in return but in fear of what would happen if you stopped payment.

    I think there’s a word for this, it’s on the tip of my tongue …

    Reply
    1. John k

      The writer of checks always has expectations – either something or the continued absence of something.

      Reply
    1. ambrit

      I seem to remember Xapo being one of the odd Engels in the entertainment industry.
      “Remember, around every corner is a square!” His famous line from the musical comedy, “Battleship Lollipop.” Who could ever forget seeing Svetlana Temple dancing her way down the Odessa Steps?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        ,rade,

        Back to Bitzkrieg and quick advance in value across all fronts…

        The latest Silicon Valley tv episode revolves around a new ICO offering the unusual suspects are figuring will be a slam dunk, I mean who could resist PiedPiperCoin?

        An amusing series from the guy that brought us Idiocracy and Beavis & Butthead, along with a bunch of other goodness…

        Reply
  10. Summer

    Re: Comcast won’t give new speed boost to Internet users who don’t buy TV service” [Ars Technica]. Here we go.

    Indeed. And Comcast is still attempting to take over Fox from Disney…a lot in the news about that since about yesterday.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        I’m with you!
        Now I can use much more of my time to distract and divert myself in non-standard ways.
        (I’m still working on turning my old Sylvania black and white television into an electromagnetic pulse gun.)

        Reply
  11. Lee

    Class War/Guillotine Watch

    A good 9 minute interview with Anand Giridharadas on The Takeaway, a radio program that I generally regard as background noise. He’s promoting a new book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” that just might be worth reading. Interestingly, he makes the point that he knows many people rich people who are helping Kenya but none who are helping Kentucky. Also, pay attention to how the interviewer tries to turn the issue toward identity politics while he stays on course maintaining the more inclusive framing of class.

    Reply
  12. Summer

    “So, working class “economic anxiety” is really a cover for racism. But middle-class “economic insecurity” is…. is…”

    The Beltway cynics and those who go aling with them say it is cynicism.

    Reply
    1. SimonGirty

      Middle class economic insecurity is called “the GREAT Depression?” Our’s is termed: asset liquidation, “a correction” or, deplorable lazy ass inbred wet brains.

      Reply
  13. Byron, no future for you.

    “‘The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.’ Oh. OK.” — Do I detect a subtle hint of sarcasm? I thought we had moved beyond good guy v. bad guy tropes. Simply reversing the notion that the material-poor folks are bad by haranguing the the rich is still folly. The machinery that grinds people down is composed of the very same granules of which it produces. Today’s exploiters are tomorrow’s victims, and there’s a seemingly endless supply of volunteers in the march forward. If there is a bad guy, it is me. It is you.

    Nature is without equilibrium, always in flux. Being a Progressive is not about putting a happy face on Christianity. That would be Communism. Progression is in the escape, to stretch the bounds of the map about which the bureaus, the technology, place the human pins, with the hope of being passed over.

    And by the way the 1976 Sex Pistols’s bootleg / demo, Spunk, is probably the crowning cultural achievement of the 20th century. So if the KGB had anything to do with it [I doubt it, Lydon, and western music, was as much of a threat to the Kremlin, as 10 Downing St.] then, Bravo! Well played, Cheka.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Oh yeah. As Ensign Chekov was always saying, the Soviet Union was responsible for all that was good with the world back in the pre-starflight days.
      Yeah Pavel. And I’ve got a bridge in Kamchatka I can lease to you.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        That’s because the Soviets didn’t have those nasty nuclear wessels to maintain, although their distant cousins, the Klingons, could throw a mean photon now and then ! …

        Reply
    2. Fiery Hunt

      Today’s exploiters are tomorrow’s victims

      Yeah, um…no.

      Systems can be set up for the benefit of many or for the exploitation of many…
      The rich have set it up and prop it up.
      To the detriment of the huge majority of us.

      The rich are not your friends.

      Reply
    3. Massinissa

      “Today’s exploiters are tomorrow’s victims”

      With the exception of rare events like the French Revolution, that basically never happens.

      Reply
      1. JBird

        A common cause of kingdoms and empires have fallen, or at least the leadership class is replaced, because the economy has been hollowed out or important items like the military is underfunded. They can no longer function because all the economic resources are locked into the small wealthy class; they cannot survive because everyone else has no interest in its survival. Granted, it might take generations to happen.

        The Roman Republic, the Western Roman Empire, the Ming Dynasty, are all examples.

        Reply
    4. kareninca

      “If there is a bad guy, it is me. It is you.”

      Nope. Not me, sorry. Maybe you; I’ll take your word for that.

      Reply
    5. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Re: ‘Byron, no future for you’:

      Have you been caught in those terrible traffic jams on the way into Byron Bay, NSW, Australia. If so I can understand the bile expressed in your handle. Despite it being quite nice as and when you get there, I avoid Bryron Bay nowdays – not only because of the tail-backs but because I feel so old among the backpackers on their gap year.

      Pip-Pip!

      Reply
  14. dcblogger

    for those who share my passion for period drama, the Life and Times of Lloyd George (somehow it seemed appropriate)

    Reply
  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UPS

    “[T]he strategy is part of the delivery giant’s hunt for ways to cope with surging e-commerce volumes while keeping costs under control.

    Will $6 gas, from showdown with Iran or something else, force them to double their rates?

    What will that do to Amazon’s business model?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      $6.00 gas would double everyone else’s rates too. And if Amazon started out with lower rates than the others, they would finish with lower rates than the others. Their bussiness model might still work compared to that of their competitors, but everyone might have less bussiness and everyone’s bussiness might shrink together.

      Reply
  16. allan

    Cynthia Nixon’s campaign continues to reverberate:

    [State of Politics]

    The Republican-controlled state Senate on Wednesday approved a package of transparency and accountability changes aimed at the executive branch and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. …

    The measures have not been previously packaged together as part of a broader reform push for the Legislature.

    The passage of the bills is an escalation of the growing tensions Republicans have toward Cuomo, who is actively working to help Democrats gain control of the Senate later this year. …

    For 7.5 years, there weren’t any such tensions. Cuomo’s tensions since he’s been in office have been with the Democrat-controlled Assembly and the Democratic minority in the Senate, who he made sure
    stayed in the minority. But being pulled to the left by Nixon means that charade is coming to an end.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Being pulled to the left made Cuomo come out as New York’s first gay female muslim/jewish person of color governor. Credit where credit is due, allan! /sarc

      Reply
  17. Darthbobber

    Biden: I love Bernie. (no)
    I’m not Bernie Sanders (no s__)
    500 bad billionaires: (I don’t ever want to talk about the actual critique, so here’s a malodorous red herring I’ll deal with instead.)

    Does Sanders do anything remotely like blaming all our national Ills on 500 or any number of billionaires, or drag their personal goodness or badness into it?

    Is the actual case offered similar enough to that that this could be an innocent misunderstanding?

    It’s enough to make Cory Booker weep.

    Reply
  18. Jim Haygood

    Well, there they went again … the crude oil traders, I mean, whose two-fisted buying sent West Texas Intermediate up another 3.2% today to a fresh 3-1/2 year high of $71.14 a barrel.

    This occurred as Iran is about to be unplugged from the SWIFT payment system again, placing impediments in the way of its selling crude even in non-dollar currencies.

    Soaring energy prices in a late-cycle economy are a bit like radiation poisoning — not instantly lethal, but cumulative damage is done which will take its toll in due course, as its deadweight burden slowly poisons the economy.

    Tired of getting Trumped at the gas pump? Vote against every Republican on the ballot this November. Make the suckers pay.

    Reply
      1. Mel

        Iranians can use the yuan to buy manufactured goods from China, I imagine. Prof. Mitchell has a , once I understand it.

        Reply
      2. Jim Haygood

        China already is Iran’s biggest customer for crude oil. Presumably payment logistics can be worked out.

        Meanwhile our little “friend” Israel is bombing Syria tonight, feeling (probably correctly) that it has a free pass from the US to spawn regional chaos.

        Americans are paying the price for the atrocious behavior of this entitled little monster, on top of the near $4 billion a year they send in unmerited tribute directly from the federal budget to this rich OECD country — an aberration unique in the world.

        Subsidize bad behavior, and — as every parent knows — you are guaranteed to get more of it, and worse too.

        Reply
  19. pretzelattack

    a friend with whom i’ve had a long running conversation over the merits of continuing to vote democrat sent me this; apparently it is receiving some attention from the usual suspects.

    my gut reaction is it is horseshit, but that is not likely to persuade him. I don’t like the use of surveys, and political science doesn’t seem scientific to me, but are there any obvious methodological flaws? haven’t found any analysis of it yet.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      it’s funny, but every time I talked to Team Blue Members about how folks are hurting out here in the hinterlands, and at the bottom of the pile, they have immediately bitten my head off…”no…it’s all racism and misogyny!!”>
      You now…because “america is already great”, and we enjoyed the perfect system until Trump screwed everything up..
      Now… that folks were hurting and all is frelled is to be considered read, and then proven wrong…because Racism and Misogyny!
      lol.
      This is three shells, and a pea…which may or may not exist…anything to avoid facing reality.
      I’ve had it with Dems…and since the Greens are all but nonexistent in Texas(outside of the big city), I am without a party, or even a mob.
      I have abandoned my last Lib/Prog hangout(alternet), since it got bought by raw story, and has sunk beneath the waves of “Trump!!!Russia!!!!Is a Threesome Right For You?!!!”
      I expect more scholarly exercises in justification, between now and whenever the next presidential campaign gets rolling(if it’s not already)

      Reply
      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        To Amfortas the Hippie:

        All that is left then, is music. I’d love to hear some live TexMex myself. Got any local venues?

        Pip-Pip

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          only Tejano/Conjunto we get are at the dances coincident with weddings, quinceneras, and the like. But it’s usually just a DJ.
          The Odeon Theater( ) occasionally has music, though.
          Usually that antique country western(Johnny Bush comes by often) but sometimes others.
          “High Culture” is individualised, and anything outside the bounds of the Carter Family and paintings of bluebonnets and cowpokes is considered risque.

          Reply
      2. pretzelattack

        i’m not optimistic; looks to me like the most desirable outcome is somehow wresting control of the democrats back from the fundraising machine, but it seems like a long shot, so we will be governed by a succession of trumps and clintons till the wheels fall off. mutz seems like one of the experts thomas frank warns us against, burnishing her neoliberal credentials.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          checked in at alterrawnet, after a week’s absence, and learn that I am a russian troll named ivan, and that the Intercept is just like Pravda…except that Pravda had better journalistic standards.
          To quote Theoden, King:”what can men do against such reckless hate?”
          The analog is: ” how are compassionate and committed progressives/liberals to “take over” anything when we can’t even carve out a space online to hash out things in good faith?”
          Literally everywhere is overrun with trolls*…whether they’re true believers or some Clintonland botnet doesn’t really matter(it’s both, as far as I can tell).

          * real, non-automated moderation(like here) is what’s lacking, methinks.

          Reply
  20. dcblogger

    Special Counsel Mueller’s Team Questioned Blackwater Founder Erik Prince
    Sources told The Daily Beast that the Blackwater founder spoke with Mueller’s investigators. It is unclear what questions Mueller’s team had or what info Prince shared.

    Reply
  21. Wyoming

    AAR President and CEO Ed Hamberger has previously stated that increasing truck size and weight would come at the expense of billions to dollars to taxpayers in the form of damaged roads and bridges. The added truck weight will further destroy precious national infrastructure and cost taxpayers dearly and allowing trucks to be 14% heavier would be a fundamental change to national policy, according to Hamberger.” Seems to me like the AAR has the right of it….

    Actually the AAR position is just anti-competitive lobbying.

    One of my brothers used to own an over the road trucking company so I have some insight from someone who really knew the business.

    This is how my brother solved the problem of being limited to 80,000 lbs and it would negate the AAR position. There is a formula called the bridge law for calculating how much weight can sit on each axle of a tractor-trailer rig. For your standard 18 wheeler the bridge law limits you to 80,000 lbs total weight and the weight on each axle is limited to a certain amount to prevent excess weight on any given axle (this excess weight is what tears the roads up). The AAR says if you make the trailers longer then they will weigh too much and tear up the road. But this is not accurate or you could say it is misleading. It depends on the weight of what you put in the truck and how that weight is distributed as to whether you are overweight or not. The length of the trailer being longer only adds to the weight of the truck and thus reduces the payload weight is all. It says nothing beyond that.

    My brother had some contracts hauling to the gold mines in Nevada and to oil/gas drilling operations for years. These were very heavy loads which would have exceeded the bridge law limits and would have resulted in having to pay extra taxes for hauling overweight loads (which tear up the roads as AAR is talking about).

    Being a clever guy he took his trucks and trailers down to the shop and had them the first time add an axle to the trailer (triple axle vice double axle). Since the bridge law sets limits per axle this extra axle gave him a higher total load weight without putting too much pressure on the road. Later after watching the costs per revenues he took some of the trucks down and had a 4th axle put on the trailer and an extra axle on the tractor (thus he had a 30-wheeler vice an 18-wheeler). This final configuration could carry 120,000 lbs fully legal under the bridge law without putting anymore pressure on the road than an 18-wheeler carrying 80,000 lbs. He made a lot more money with that truck set up as you can imagine since for about every 3 1/2 trips with the new setup he could eliminate 1 entire load via the old setup.

    So if your new longer double trailers were set up with triple axles you would be good to go. If you had a heavier requirement you could just add some more as needed (providing there were enough loads like that to justify the expense)

    Triple axle trailers are common in many countries outside the US today.

    Interesting side effect of the extra axles is that he found wear on the tires went way down and the brake pads lasted much longer as well. These are substantial expenses so they paid for a lot of the costs associated with adding the extra axles. He also added on board scales to some of the trucks so he could get the loads positioned exactly as needed so as not to overload any axle. This saved a lot of money in the long run as what truckers often have to do is load up and then drive to the nearest scale to see if the load is distributed right. If it is wrong they need to have the load moved before they hit the highway and this costs a lot of time and money – if you show up at the govt scales along the highway and your load is not right you get fined at a minimum and sometimes they make you park the truck until the load is redistributed.

    If the Transportation dept regulated that all over the road tractor trailers were required to have triple axles the wear and tear on the nations highways would plummet. But the trucking lobby would not like that rule obviously.

    Reply
    1. marku52

      I don’t like following triples because if they aren’t loaded, the tail trailer just bounces all over the road. The tractor may be in the lane, but the tail end trailer sure isn’t. I doubt making them longer will improve this.

      Reply
      1. Charlie

        Triple axles aren’t the same as triple trailers, though you’re right about the back swing on a third trailer. The third axle is added to the drive tires. I’ve seen many trucks with that setup in Canada when I was over the road 18 wheels, and yes, their roads are nowhere near bad as ours when their limit is 108,000 lbs.

        Reply
  22. marym

    Posted a link in Monday’s Water Cooler to a plan that Sessions announced to separate parents and children attempting to enter illegally. Here’s more from a draft of new rules, for families and for unaccompanied minors.

    The Trump administration is attempting to rewrite the rules for detaining immigrant children apprehended at the border, seeking greater flexibility on everything from their snack times to their asylum applications in the United States, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Washington Post.

    The draft regulations signal that the Trump administration is considering detaining families for longer periods and subjecting unaccompanied minors to increased scrutiny that could make it easier to deport them. They would allow officials to separate parents and children if holding them together would place an “undue burden” on government operations.

    Fewer snacks for traumatized children separated from their parents. That’s our country now.

    Reply
  23. Craig H.

    > Sex Pistols KGP plot.

    That is a troll but that has some good stuff. It’s some kind of big World War II holiday there and everybody is partying. They had a photo of Netanyahu and Putin hanging out together in some parade and this one almost qualifies as an antidote. Maybe it is the antidote on the Russian version of Cfdtrade:

    Reply
  24. JTMcPhee

    So I read in “Breaking News” that IRANIANS have fired TWENTY MISSILES AT THE HOLY SACRED LAND OF ISRAEL. Or so it is claimed, along with how the “Iron Dome” intercepted most of them.

    Query whether “Iron Dome” is maybe a bit of a fraud, , or whether “the hand of YHWH” is involved in shielding the Israelites, who claim to be YHS}WH’s Chosen People, .

    So the Likudniks, who most resemble the Israelites from the first eight or nine books of the Torah, violent, deceitful, putting the Philistines to the sword, taking their land and cattle and enslaving their women and children, always falling away from the Commandments but always forgiven by YHWH, are building another brick BS box to add to the structure that will, if the dual-citizens that stand atop our Imperial government have their way, lead to some kind of “war on Iran.”

    I wonder what it feels like to get vaporized in a nuclear explosion… Expect it won’t hurt for long — less painful than having to watch as the Fokkers who own us slow-walk all of us into economic and environmental collapse, maybe quick-stepping now toward an answer to that neocon-naive question, “What good are all these wonderful weapons for if we never USE them?” C;mon, all you Revelation Believers and Armageddonists, GET IT OVER ALREADY, WILL YOU? THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING US!

    I long ago rejected the notion that there will be some kind of retribution in some kind of “afterlife” where the people who are [email protected] and sh!ts in this life have to atone, somehow. Anyone who might be a candidate for eternity in the fiery lake obviously shares that disbelief. Fork ‘em, if only we could reach them and stop them somehow…

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Not that theres anything wrong with your comment or anything, but was it really necessary to post this to multiple sites? You posted the exact same comment on MoA

      Reply
    2. marym

      Israel bombed Iranians in Syria yesterday. Haaretz described it as “Israel bracing for an attack.”

      AFP is reporting that Iranians in Syria are now retaliating agains Israeli occupiers in Golan Heights (i.e in Syria). .

      Elsewhere on the claim is that it’s the Syrians retaliating (I’m finding this in reply tweets, so I’m not sure of the sources).

      Syria is also reporting that they are intercepting Israeli missiles.

      Reply
  25. Alex morfesis

    Boris and Natasha financed the pistols…which explains why the sons of famous three letter agency spy (miles Copeland) were in deep in the business at the same time…but…but…wait…that British guy with the wavey hair and his company is all red…just like the Soviets… So branson was also financed by KGB since he helped sell the pistols music ? Koch family and now branson was too ?

    How does kgb do such ??

    Natasha must really be…

    Reply
  26. Darthbobber

    Apologies if this is already posted and I missed it. I think this may lead to some amount of entertainment.

    To the surprise of Muellar’s team, I’m sure, one of the RUssian defendants, Prighozins corporate shell, has chosen to actually appear and has had counsel file a preview of coming attractions in the form of, among other things, an extensive discovery request.

    A bit early for the right to discovery to kick in, but thats probably not the point, which is to offer the preview of coming attractions as to which cans of worms they’ll try to open through discovery.

    Could also be interesting, because American prosecutors indicting Russian defendants who are expected not to appear have been rather unconcerned for years about their chances of prevailing at trial, since they expect to play against an empty net.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      So…popcorn futures?
      although I doubt that the Machine will allow any real “discovery”,lol.
      some perforation in the wall of legalism will be found forthwith.
      It’s funny that the Ruskies are going there, though.
      Shows creativity at the very least.

      Reply
  27. Darthbobber

    A lot of coverage today, of ZTE’s suspension of operations resulting from the ban on it using American components. This particular one from the Grey Lady:

    Chinese response looks like the beginning of a crash program to make sure their reliance on American components comes to an end sooner rather than later.

    Reply
  28. Tony Wikrent

    Biden: “The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”

    Veblen, 1898, The Theory of the Leisure Class: “…clannishness, massiveness, ferocity, unscrupulousness, and tenacity of purpose… were the qualities that counted toward the accumulation and continued tenure of wealth. The economic basis of the leisure class, then as later, was the possession of wealth; but the methods of accumulating wealth, and the gifts required for holding it, have changed in some degree since the early days of the predatory culture. In consequence of the selective process the dominant traits of the early barbarian leisure class were bold aggression, an alert sense of status, and a free resort to fraud. The members of the class held their place by tenure of prowess. In the later barbarian culture society attained settled methods of acquisition and possession under the quasi-peaceable regime of status. Simple aggression and unrestrained violence in great measure gave place to shrewd practice and chicanery, as the best approved method of accumulating wealth.”

    And, more recently: Ian Welsh:

    If you begin with a view of reality as flawed as Biden’s, how can you get anything right? Problem is, all of us have to bear the consequences.

    Reply
  29. XXYY

    A Free Ride: Data Brokers’ Rent-Seeking Behavior and the Future of Data Inequality

    I think there is a great fear by academic researchers that their free access to vast amounts of societal data, and many consequent research programs and careers, are going to be a casualty of a future crackdown on data privacy emerging from the various data breaches and private sector scandals.

    I predict a slew of papers trying to draw bright lines between “responsible” users of the contents of these data troves (academics), and “irresponsible” users (everyone else, including “rent seekers”). This seems unhelpful to the cause, and ultimately futile, since the troves will not exist without the greed of the rent seekers.

    Reply
    1. blennylips

      On the other hand (, that is) these academic researchers believe that better machine learning and better privacy go hand in hand: Differential privacy, don’t cha know.

      In a rare posting last week:
      (warning, deep dive…)

      Privacy and machine learning: two unexpected allies?
      Apr 29, 2018

      by Nicolas Papernot and Ian Goodfellow

      In many applications of machine learning, such as machine learning for medical diagnosis, we would like to have machine learning algorithms that do not memorize sensitive information about the training set, such as the specific medical histories of individual patients. Differential privacy is a framework for measuring the privacy guarantees provided by an algorithm. Through the lens of differential privacy, we can design machine learning algorithms that responsibly train models on private data. Our works (with Martín Abadi, Úlfar Erlingsson, Ilya Mironov, Ananth Raghunathan, Shuang Song and Kunal Talwar) on differential privacy for machine learning have made it very easy for machine learning researchers to contribute to privacy research—even without being an expert on the mathematics of differential privacy. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to do i

      Reply

Leave a Reply