Links 5/11/14

New species of metal-eating plant discovered in the Philippines Science Daily (furzy mouse)

The power and perfection of a crocodile in one slow-motion jump Sploid

The $13 Billion Mystery Angels Businessweek. Unknown squillionaires, dark matter of the 0.01%.

Federal Data: Americans keeping vehicles longer since start of recession WaPo

Here to Stay — Beyond the Rough Launch of the ACA NEJM

Pranab launches RuPay, India’s own card payment network The Hindu

Why Oracle’s Copyright Victory Over Google Is Bad News for Everyone Wired (EFF’s view).

Web host gives FCC a 28.8Kbps slow lane in net neutrality protest Ars Technica (SW)

Maintain true net neutrality to protect the freedom of information in the United States White House Petition. 62,177 down, 37,823 to go.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Team Glenzilla vs. Creepy Unamerican Goblins: Munk Debate on State Surveillance transcript Corrente

The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative Charlie’s Diary

Intelligence Policy Bans Citation of Leaked Material Times

We’re Being Watched Earth Island Journal (Ulysses). “We” equals mild-mannered anti-fracking activists.

How a Power-Mad Illinois Mayor Launched a Police Crusade Against a Parody Twitter Account Vice. Tinpot tyrants.

Did an Israeli spy hide in Al Gore’s bathroom? Haaretz

Black Mobility Belies U.S. Civil Rights Hope as Milestone Nears Bloomberg

Jackson Rising: Black Millionaires Won’t Lift Us Up, But Cooperation & the Solidarity Economy Might Black Agenda Report, and Jackson Rising: An Electoral Battle Unleashes a Merger of Black Power, the Solidarity Economy and Wider Democracy (diphtherio).

Class Warfare

401(k)s are retirement robbery: How the Koch brothers, Wall Street and politicians conspire to drain Social Security Salon

Rein In the Debt-Collection Racket Online WSJ

Against Austerity Jacobin

Notes on Constitutional Amendment and the term Revolution Plutocracy Files (CL)

Treasury says debt payments could be prioritized in default scenario Reuters. Well, naturally.

Welcome to Britain, the new land of impunity Guardian

Italy’s Beppe Grillo battles to sustain anti-establishment message FT

Triumph of the ‘bearded lady’: Conchita Wurst wins Eurovision Song Contest for Austria EuroNews (video)


Obama Accepts Putin’s Invitation To Drinking Contest For Control of Ukraine Duffel Bag

Our People Massacre Civilians in Odessa, and Politico Blames Putin George Washington’s Blog

Ukraine warns of ‘abyss’ as rebel east approaches self-rule vote Reuters

Conflicts Forum’s Weekly Comment 25 April – 2 May Conflicts Forum (via Moon of Alabama):

There seems absolutely no appetite in Moscow to intervene in Ukraine (and this is common to all shades of political opinion).Everyone understands Ukraine to be a vipers’ nest, and additionally knows it to be a vast economic ‘black hole’.But … you can scarcely meet anyone in Moscow who does not have relatives in Ukraine. This is not Libya; East Ukraine is family.Beyond some certain point, if the dynamic for separation persists, and if the situation on the ground gets very messy, some sort of Russian intervention may become unavoidable (just as Mrs Thatcher found it impossible to resist pressures to intervene in support of British ‘kith and kin’ in the Falklands).Moscow well understands that such a move will unleash another western outpouring of outrage.

Putin’s Export Machine Rolls Right Over Sanctions, Outcry Bloomberg

Can an American Soldier Ever Die in Vain? Foreign Policy

Ex-Blackwater guard indicted on murder charge for Iraq shooting Reuters

Likhit Dhiravegin Interview – Part 2: On the orchestration of a political vacuum Asian Correspondent. It’s interesting to think that one Thai elite faction could be using a Gene Sharp-like “pillars of the regime” strategy against another elite faction. Non-violence is nonetheless force, a force for good or evil.

‘Don’t remove the cone’: latest advice on the Net The Nation. Or you’ll be beaten unconscious by anti-government “guards.”

Auto sector slams on brakes Bangkok Post. Bad for business.

Slow Exit of the Midwest’s Winter Buries Gardens in a Deep Freeze Times. Not just the Midwest!

Consumers to be big winners in solar/storage revolution Renew Economy (PT).

ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment, ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment NASAtelevision on USTREAM. Science NASA (Live streaming video). Awesome.

How to Trick the Guilty and Gullible into Revealing Themselves Online WSJ

Antidote du jour:


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.


  1. Kevin Smith

    The animated GIF in The power and perfection of a crocodile in one slow-motion jump
    would make a great Antidote du Jour!

  2. Ned Ludd

    Alex Thomson, of Channel 4, and Roza Kazan, of China Central Television, are posting images and updates from today’s referendum in Ukraine on their respective timelines. According to Paul Slier, of RT:

    #Referendum turnout in #Donbass region reaches 50%. #Ugledar: 58% cast their votes.#Torez: 48.4%. #Konstantinovka: 44.2%.

    David Blair of the Daily Telegraph has some more critical observations: “No voters’ roll at this polling station. Anyone with ID can vote. What about multiple voting? ‘People are too decent for that’ says official”. From what I’ve read, there were no voters’ rolls, ID’s, nor even ballots in the early days of the U.S.; just a judge, a queue, and a clerk recording votes and a running total.

    1. Brindle

      Paula Slier of RT is quite good, certainly better than the mouthpieces you find on CBS, NBC etc.

      Slier today from E. Ukraine:

      “One resident of Donetsk told me: We’ll have the right to vote, we’ll live like human beings. My grandson will go to normal school
      And my daughter will walk with my grandson in a park, not in a concentration camp. That’s why I am here.”

      1. Ned Ludd

        I agree – Paula Slier is the best reporter to follow right now in Ukraine. I was following some reporters on Twitter from The Guardian and U.S. media outlets; but the spin-to-information ratio was too high. While everyone has a bias, which needs to be accounted for, a lot of reporters act like they work for the PR arm of the U.S. government, seeking out only information that buttresses the interests of the U.S. government, and fixing or explaining away any events that don’t fit.

        1. Banger

          I find it interesting that an ever growing number of people are noticing this phenomenum. While the U.S. mainstream was never the “free” and “objective” press it has claimed since WWII, despite Operation Mockingbird that made much of the media a virtual Ministry of Truth other parts of the media were willing to tackle inconvenient truths from time to time. By the 1980s this changed when the Reagan Administration was able to almost literally suspend all reporting on the death squad activities and, indeed, all substantive reporting on El Salvador. After that, bit by bit, the mainstream, particularly after 9/11 avoided with a couple of notable exceptions both the spectacular corruption surrounding American contractors in the Iraq War and the colossal crime wave involving most if the banking and investment industries for which we all paid a heavy price. Had the media honestly looked into these matters we may have avoided the criminality that is now built into nearly all our institutions.

          At any rate, the internet has made it possible for alternative views to be heard and these views are beginning to be heard by the few who are interested in actually finding out what is going on in the world. As long as the Net doe not change too much and realize fake alternative sites like HuffPost are corporate owned and operated the mainstream is going to lose influence.

          1. Abe, NYC

            Having witnessed USSR propaganda first-hand, and lived in the US for some years, I used to say that US propaganda has far surpassed anything seen in the USSR. Most importantly, more people in the US believe more of what their media feed them than in the USSR, certainly in its last years.

            But the US is no longer the leader. Russians have shown once again that their mastery of the media is unparalleled; they used their own experience and learned what they could from the West. Scarcely a word of objective truth is used on Russian TV in conjunction with Ukraine, yet the overwhelming majority of Russians believe lies so grotesque you’d think anyone in their right mind would laugh them off.

            But even that is not what shocked me personally. One really surprising fact is the Internet, which it was hoped would make this sort of propaganda ineffective, has had practically no role on Russian opinion. With hindsight, it should have been obvious that it can cut both ways, but that has been grossly underestimated.

            Even more surprisingly, so many progressives swallow Russian propaganda hook, line, and sinker. I have a much better understanding of 1930s now. It is a lot easier to see how and why so many Western intellectuals were swayed by the likes of Stalin and Hitler. That oligarch-in-chief Putin, who has cracked down hard on every single progressive value in his own country, is so fetishized by so many US progressives, is absolutely astounding.

            1. OIFVet

              Strawman dear Abe, you are trying to conflate opposition to US support for neo-nazis with support for Putin. I also am old enough to remember communist propaganda and frankly the US variety makes Pravda look like rank amateurs. And FWIW, the security organs of the corporatist regime in DC make the STASI veterans green with envy.

              1. Abe, NYC

                you are trying to conflate opposition to US support for neo-nazis with support for Putin

                I’m not. I certainly haven’t seen any hard evidence that the Ukrainian regime is neo-nazi and plenty evidence to the contrary. However, I’ve read enough progressive-affiliated blogs and other outlets that demonstrated wholesale support for Mr. Putin long before the second round of the Orange Revolution even started.

                the US variety makes Pravda look like rank amateurs

                That’s what I said. The addendum is that Fox to Pravda is what RTR-Planeta (or RT) is to Fox.

                the corporatist regime in DC make the STASI veterans green with envy

                In terms of surveillance, yes. Although mind you, the backlash caused by Snowden would have been unthinkable in those countries. In terms of practical application…. there’s still a ways to go, let’s leave it at that.

                1. OIFVet

                  “I certainly haven’t seen any hard evidence that the Ukrainian regime is neo-nazi and plenty evidence to the contrary” You must be reading the propaganda arm of the US government, the mainstream media. Last I checked Svoboda held a few cabinet post in the un-elected “government” and the Right Sector were given the newly formed National Guard. Bandera and other nazi-collaborator scum are venerated by the so-called “government” and they are burning people like they did in Auschwitz. But I do admit it is hard to see those things through the fog of anti-Russkie bias.

                  ” In terms of practical application…. there’s still a ways to go, let’s leave it at that.” Let us not leave it at that. The suppression of OWS was as brutally effective as anything STASI could have come up with. Again, I grew up in Eastern Europe and frankly the security apparatus of the corporate-oligarchical regime in DC scares me much more than the security apparatus of the commies ever could. The proliferation of new data-gathering tools means that they know far more about us and it is near impossible to maintain any sort of anonymity, and the velvet gloves of the repressive apparatus mask an iron fist that is just as violent and murderous as anything the commies came up with.

                2. Abe, NYC

                  You must be reading the propaganda arm of the US government, the mainstream media

                  Not really, my main source is the few Russian independent media outlets (mostly Ekho Moskvy, whose coverage has been stellar), as well as the BBC, whose coverage has been somewhat subpar. I think I’ve read a couple of articles in Times on the Ukraine, that’s about that.

                  Last I checked Svoboda held a few cabinet post in the un-elected “government”

                  The first thing this government did was appoint an election. It’s obvious they’re acutely aware of the lack of mandate, and are desperately hanging on until May 25th. Realistic candidates in the election are all moderate, and whom you call nazis (who are surely nationalist but less so than e.g. Putin himself) have support in the region of low single percentage digits. Maidan itself largely spoke Russian, as Kiev is a mostly Russian speaking city.

                  The suppression of OWS was as brutally effective as anything STASI could have come up with.

                  With respect, that’s a very pale echo of Hungary 1956 or Novocherkassk 1962. But as for surveillance, I’ve said I agree. I remember the disgust people had about the “perlustration” of mail by the KGB in 1980s. Now Americans take it more or less for granted their email can be read by all sorts of agencies. And yet, some real protections may yet come out of Snowden revelations. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to Russians who gave up their privacy once again.

                  1. OIFVet

                    “It’s obvious they’re acutely aware of the lack of mandate” They better be, after all they did use the neo-nazi scum as street muscle to overthrow the elected government.

                    “whom you call nazis (who are surely nationalist but less so than e.g. Putin himself) have support in the region of low single percentage digits.” Them that has the guns has the power. Remember that, and also remember the US government’s support for this nazi scum. Also, nationalists? This is one sobriquet to use in polite society to whitewash the nazi heritage of the scum, but the facts are facts. The people who venerate Bandera, Stetsko, Shukhevych, and Yarosh are nationalist as in national-socialists, i.e. Nazi. In case you have forgotten who OUN were, here is a refresher for you. Genocidal cunts, that’s for sure. And they celebrate the war crimes committed by the 14th SS Division“Galicia” , a unit composed entirely of Ukie nazis, none of whom never faced the war crimes tribunal but found a welcome refuge in the US and Canada. Some facts just can’t be so easily whitewashed by trying to dismiss this scum as “nationalists”. I understand what being driven by Russophobia is like but that does not excuse apologizing for genocidal war criminals and their people-burning, unarmed-civilian-killing progeny in modern day Ukraine.

                    “that’s a very pale echo” In a country that pretends to be democratic and the self-appointed “defender of freedom” everywhere this is as loud as a thunder. Say what you will about the Soviets but their hypocrisy never remotely approached what we have in the US today. And let us not pretend that the American brutality abroad somehow does not count. Remember Abu Ghraib, Bagram prison, extraordinary rendition, drone assassinations, water boarding, Pinochet, Suharto, the Argentine military junta, the Shah of Iran, etc ad infinitum? Or does Russophobia cause selective amnesia?

              2. allcoppedout

                The old Soviet block had terror I never experienced in the West, though fascist Spain and Portugal came close. Hardly anyone believed the Party line, but many could spout it. The polygraph was invented because of brutal police interrogations in the US and I can attest the UK was vile in this respect, especially in Northern Ireland. Farce and depravity often characterise police investigations across the West.

                I think Vet is right, though much of the Eastern terror was gossip-based in ways we can hardly imagine. James Bond has all the signs of secret service publishing and in current US series, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, CSI and Chicago PD (plus nearly all action films) are as obvious as war-time propaganda films like Saboteur and Casablanca, and BBC’s Spooks. And often the cutting edge in such as Forest Gump is missed entirely. I’d recommend Alex Carey’s ‘Taking the Risk Out of Democracy’ and Zizek’s ‘Pervert’s Guide to Ideology’.
                RT has sadly lapsed to goldbuggery and Putinoganda. We are in the Samizdat of the Soviet era here in NC, Democracy Now and Real News. The USSR was undoubtedly worse to live in as are various Middle Eastern paradises. Maybe we could have an international test of how much real history people know?

                1. OIFVet

                  “The USSR was undoubtedly worse to live”

                  I don’t know, I suppose that depends on how you define “better” and “worse”. I don’t think it is self-delusion that drives older folks in Eastern Europe to rate their lives as worse now than under communism. I doubt anyone is delusional enough to forget the lack of “freedom” as the Muricans define it, but you are seriously underestimating the very real freedom that comes with having one’s basic necessities of life guaranteed. Western Europe knew something of it, plus it had the American-style “freedoms” before their elites took the neoliberal path toward the Washington Consensus. Now we see in places like Greece and Spain just how much “freedom” the ordinary “citizens” are entitled to.

                  1. allcoppedout

                    Take that entirely and found the same Vet and there were other good things. I just found the ‘Zil Chill’ too much to take. And a few years back an Iraqi mate explained he was in Bahrain because he didn’t feel Britain safe. My life there with a swimming pool, gym and 24 hour jungle bar drinking and women (not my scene beyond the ‘crack’) was better than here too – though one could hardly say this for kafala labour or 10% of my students who were tortured.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Kafala labor, FIFA’s shame. These corrupt FIFA fucks make the commie apparatchiks look positively honest and principled. What’s the construction worker death count in Brazil up to now BTW?

            2. Lord Koos

              Libertarians also seem to have a crush on Putin. Many people love a strongman…

              1. hunkerdown

                I heard the word “theomachy” recently, and it fits. When one can’t fight the local gods themselves, line up behind those outside who will. (Civilization itself is a religion, just like everything built atop it.)

                (It’s fun to remind the Vichy bourgeoisie that if it were any other than *their* a-hole doing this, they’d be sending guns and propaganda campaigns yesterday. Useless lickspittles…)

            3. Banger

              Interesting argument. But I’m an American and I have little interest in internal Russian political arrangments. I see Washington as the main actor, Russia in a very minor role. The degree and extent of the power of U.S. oligarchs dwarfs Putin and he knows it.

              The period of liberalism, humanism, democracy and so on is over–we’re going back to Empire and feudal arrangements everywhere in the world. There are far worse places than the U.S., far worse regimes than the current Deep State that runs Washington–but they have little power.

        2. montanamaven

          I turned on the Sunday morning shows to see what the memes were. The female reporter in Ukraine on “Face the Nation” and the guy at ABC in Moscow could hardly contain their dislike for Russia and Putin. Bob Schieffer practically spit out the name “Putin”. Did he call the British PM “Thatcher”? or “Blair”? The reporter in Ukraine was making sure we all knew that an old lady voted twice. i.e. She was given another ballot because she became distraught thinking she had accidentally voted “NO” and the first one torn up. OMG! Would that we used paper ballots. And actually had something to vote FOR.

          1. Brindle

            The big story being the massive crowds turning out to vote is avoided, instead the barkings of “illegitimate” and “Putin’s behind this” emanate from the US and UK corporate media.

  3. Ned Ludd

    George Eliason, who lives in Ukraine, writes about ultra-nationalist control of the post-coup regime in Kiev:

    Every important ministry, from education and social policy to policing, prosecution and national defense, is headed by Ultra Nationalists. In every aspect of national life, Ultra Nationalists now determine what it means to be Ukrainian and all the policies needed to enforce it.

    Eliason also writes about the history of Stepan Bandera and the ultra-nationalists during World War II:

    Under the militant leadership of Stepan Bandera in World War II, the ultra-nationalists organized the Ukrainian Waffen SS Galician, Nichtengall, and Roland Divisions that collaborated with the Nazis and were responsible for the genocide of over 500,000 people. Following the war, however, Ukrainian Nazis were the only group to escape trial at Nuremburg for crimes against humanity.

    Instead of being punished, “the Bandera groups formed their Government in Exile that was given quiet legitimacy by both the US and Canadian governments shortly after WW2.”

    The article’s picture of John Kerry greeting Arseniy Yatsenyuk is also posted (slightly cropped) on the State Department’s official blog. The embrace is awkward, but ultimately, liberals are willing to embrace fascism when it serves the interests of U.S. imperialism.

  4. Eureka Springs

    Maintain “true” net neutrality???? Seriously? I’m not signing a G.D. thing which suggests my way over priced hillbilly verizon wifi, with more choke points than we are allowed to count on the intertubez already is anywhere near acceptable.

    Notes on Constitutional Amendment and the term Revolution

    Well at least there is one American citizen out there thinking about and taking absurdly naive notes on amending the constitution. Although their notes reads like an NPR third way brainwashed person. I would first ask what good is amending or penning an entirely new constitution (my suggestion) since we have no rule of law at the top level of government and oligarchy to begin with.

    Second, I would buy a hundred copies of this book and leave them in all sorts of public places if I could. I often suggest many read it online. Particularly chapters 3 and 4. The whole book should be the new ninth grade civics text in the USA.

    Toward an American Revolution
    Exposing the Constitution and other Illusions

    Finally, I’ve wondered since the year Naked Cap first endorsed Occupy, what would this group of fine folks compose as money/finance related wording in an entirely new or amended constitution? Seems like a great idea to go ahead on work on such language now… because if/when a collapse/revolution comes, things will happen quickly. Otherwise we just sit and watch the theft, the surveillance, the bloody wars, the class warfare, and election cycles pass us by again and again.

    1. allcoppedout

      It’s worth repeating this from the tract Springs links to:

      ‘It is naive to expect the initiative for reform of the state to issue from the political process that serves the interests of political capitalism. This structure can only be reduced if citizens withdraw and direct their energies and civic commitment to finding new life forms. Toward these ends, our whole mode of thinking must be turned upside-down. Instead of imitating most other political theories and adopting the state as the primary structure and then adapting the activity of the citizen to the state, democratic thinking should renounce the state paradigm and, along with it, the liberal-legal corruption of the citizen. The old citizenship must be replaced by a fuller and wider notion of being whose politicalness will be expressed not in one or two modes of activity – voting or protesting – but in many.’

      Long agreed with this view, yet it needs “policing” to overthrow the vile and to ensure the future from bandits or a return of business-as-usual. The ‘holding plan’ of a dictatorship of the proletariat was a disaster we don’t want to repeat, yet the rich and their corrupt accounting need to be removed, criminals contained, people who want to encase women in black bags dealt with (not least because they will build armies to spread their prurient beliefs) …and we need to understand how we will motivate necessary work, encourage innovation … and ensure realistic democracy of armed forces and so on. And we need to know how this can incorporate 7.1 billion people under green energy constraints and opportunities.

    2. susan the other

      Great opening. I can think of lots of things that should be constitutional. New declarations of equality would be a good place to start. Like: get rid of the contradiction in our currency because it only serves the rich. If our sovereign currency served us all it would be wonderful – but it does not so a change in the national contract, the constitution, should clear this up. I’m thinking it would be good to make it a constitutional mandate that we should always maintain full employment at livable wages, preferably jobs of high social/environmental value and in the pursuit of this goal we should never allow the dollar to become over-valued. So it goes without saying that the Federal Reserve will have to go because it only serves private wealth.

      1. allcoppedout

        For fairly obvious reasons I don’t see this as about America. Part of it has to be about that already degraded phrase ‘open government’. And it has to be green in order the rest of the world doesn’t just groaf us to destruction anyway. A model to follow instead our usual free-trade banditry and planet burning-poisoning. Nearly all the reasoning needed is double-edged and we are not much good at it. We want freedom, but there is freedom to and freedom from. Presumably, we don’t want creeps to be free to practice female genital mutilation, black-bagging and discriminatory homo-sociality that creates ‘warrior-fodder’ who can’t form harems. This is only one example that makes the point in stark relief. Can the US really be free to use 25% of fossil fuel burning? Much as many of us resent US militarism, I wouldn’t want to sell a policy that amounted to letting Uncle Vlad or the sexist Chinese Politburo run things. Or the Indian caste bureaucracy. And say the West goes green – would that just be for the rest of the world to burn the oil to gain competitive advantage?

        I see solutions, but the rich have created global defences. We can’t do anything that doesn’t involve us out-competing the opposition. We could, really.

          1. allcoppedout

            We’re into ’embrace the paradox’ territory, I guess. Under fire one can choose the rock as cover. We beat paradoxes in practice. Do they have us thinking too much?

    3. Jeff W

      Maintain “true” net neutrality???? Seriously?

      Yeah, really.

      Lost in the “net neutrality” brouhaha is the fact of just how crappy Internet service in the US is. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to fight to maintain what we have—we do—it just means that what we’re fighting to maintain (at most, right now) is a pretty dismal status quo.

    4. Jeff W

      This video (linked to in law professor Tim Wu’s New Yorker piece, giving some of the legal background concerning the FCC’s authority to regulate telecommunications services), yet another that explains the net neutrality issue, perhaps in a bit more detail than some of the others already linked here, mentions that we in the US pay more than three times what people pay in Tokyo or Seoul for Internet service that is ten times slower.

  5. TreBrennanblinka

    The failed Blackwater prosecution is one more example of domestic events driven by international pressure. US compliance with the Convention Against Torture gets assessed in November. Problem is, the government never bothered to make torture a crime, so they can’t actually try torturers, as the supreme law requires. So the Feds scrounge around for prominent atrocities (no shortage of those!) to show that they catch the very very few bad apples.

    There’s a reason why the only torturer in jail got put away for murder. The government would have liked to brag about this Blackwater conviction too, because it reinforces their propaganda. (1) The crime was committed by mercs and not by the The Troops. (2) It’s a loony irrational hate crime, an aberration, and the government now wants you to think of torture as an irrational aberration (torture is in fact entirely rational and purposive: it helps you fabricate intel and war propaganda, it expedites imprisonment with coerced confessions, and it supresses dissent.) (3) The crime is public, and public state terror is considered to be torture by the treaty body (but not by the USG, which considers it legal compulsion of disorderly threats, c.f. Occupy) Public brutality is a nice distraction from the real issue, the crime against humanity of the secret US death camps.

    But it turns out it’s hard to convict state crime and abuse of power. That’s exactly the point. Here again the US is decades behind the civilized world,

  6. Eeyores enigma

    “Consumers to be big winners in solar/storage revolution”

    This is nothing but a ad campaign for the technocopian dream without any reality based analysis.

    Storage/batteries have been the holy grail of energy sector for over a hundred years. There has been countless billions thrown at the issue and still storage/batteries are not much better than 100 years ago. In fact the best bulk storage batteries are nearly like those of 100 years ago.

    Solar is for a wealthy population, any constraint on the economy stops the proliferation of solar and wind in its tracks. In order for solar/wind to grow at the rate that all these cheerleaders talk about would require huge increase in raw inputs which will more than eat up any savings from mass production.

    The time to have built out the alternative energy infrastructure was 20 or 30 years ago when energy and resources were relatively abundant and cheep.

    P.S. I have 2 solar arays with large battery banks and a wind turbine. I have been doing this for over 20 years.

    1. heresy101

      Whether solar on homes and storage makes any sense for other than the wall street solar companies (Solar City, SunRun, Sungevity, Sunpower) will be determined in the future. If every single family home put 2.5 kW on their house, it would only cover about 27% of the total electricity needs of my city even if their is storage to shift usage from day to night.

      Utility grade solar is making lots of economic sense for utilities that have a large summer peak due to large air conditioning load. For instance, the City of Austin has just signed a 150 MW contract for solar at $0.05/kWh which is only slightly higher than gas or coal.

      1. craazyboy

        Got a link on the Austin project with more technical details? The average retail price nationwide for electric is about 12 cent/kwh. A wholesale price of a nickel sounds a bit too good to be true.

        I wasn’t aware of any solar tech that has got that good yet. But if true, it would be interesting to find out how they are doing it. Provided that huge subsidies aren’t factored in somehow in the reported nickel price – ya’ know – doing sumthin’ with mirrors.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is no money in informing consumers to consume less.

      But lots of $ in selling new gadgets!!!

      That’s how technologers can get their second billions to pay for young blood and million dollar prescription drugs.

    1. allcoppedout

      Bad enough they bite through wiring and roof lead Opti. Now they’re stealing out coffee! Cute little vermin though.

      1. OIFVet

        Don’t forget every tulip and hyacinth bulb I had except for one, and my tomatoes in the summer. Much as I abhor violence I am now and again itching for an accurate paintball gun to tag their thieving furry butts with.

  7. David in NYC

    Two things: Americans are keeping cars longer because they are driving less (probably thanks to Internet and young people going on fewer dates) and because the quality of cars has improved, so that they last longer.

    Also, what kind of fool would think that Al Gore would reveal national secrets while sitting on the john?

    1. Yonatan

      My guess is that the duct crawler would be trying to install a bug in the main room – which been declared clean by the US security team..

    2. scraping_by

      The Mossad agent might have been a student of American history. LBJ was known for giving dictation while sitting on the pot to a secretary sitting at the open john door. Robert Caro called this out as a bullying tactic I think in Means of Ascent.

      Maybe the Israeli thought it was a Dixie thing. Accent probably sounded the same.

      1. Tom W Harris

        It all goes to show that 90% of the shit you see on the Internet referencing Mossad is just a buncha shit.

  8. Ned Ludd

    Thomas Wiegold is a German journalist who has written for Der Spiegel and worked for the former German service of the Associated Press. He reports: “So #youtube now removing videos of shooting in #Mariupol due to ‘graphic images’. No evidence of clashes wanted for the public to see?”

    Not surprising, given Google’s cozy relationship with the NSA:

    “General Keith.. so great to see you.. !” [Google executive] Schmidt wrote. “I’m unlikely to be in California that week so I’m sorry I can’t attend (will be on the east coast). Would love to see you another time. Thank you !” […]

    [Google co-founder] Brin responded to Alexander the following day even though the head of the NSA didn’t use the appropriate email address when contacting the co-chairman.

    “Hi Keith, looking forward to seeing you next week. FYI, my best email address to use is [redacted],” Brin wrote. “The one your email went to — — I don’t really check.”

    According to Al Jazeera, “A Google representative declined to answer specific questions about Brin’s and Schmidt’s relationship with Alexander or about Google’s work with the government.”

  9. bob

    “Not just the Midwest!”

    It’s been a long, cold winter. But, at the same time, not that far out of the norm. We’d been spoiled by two pretty early springs the previous years.

    With respect to plants, I think most around here (upstate NY) got through it fine. There are some of the local ag oligarchy clamoring for disaster loans, but that’s nothing new. Opportunity abounds!

    It was cold until it wasn’t. Most plants are fine like that. It’s the “false start” early spring that does the most damage, IMO. Oddly, by pushing spring out further, there could be less of a chance of frost damage (to blossoms) going forward.

    1. rjs

      winter killed between 50% and 80% of the beehives in Ohio, even hives with 90 pounds of honey stored…too cold too long for them to move to where it was…

      you dont want to imagine how bad it is in MI, WI, & MN, which were continuously colder all winter…

  10. JohnB

    “How to Trick the Guilty and Gullible into Revealing Themselves”
    Think the author changed his mind on what the article was about, several times while writing it, and never really got back to the original point – like he got distracted by whatever anecdote was flying through his head at the time.

  11. jfleni

    RE: Consumers to be big winners in solar/storage revolution

    Only if PoisonDwarfBros [Three guesses], Peckerwood-Powerco [Duke], and other powercrats are restrained and prevented by the public and state legislatures.

    Led by plutocrats in the Edison Electric Institute, they desparately want to retain their monopolies and continue to gouge consumers as always; solar energy (and at least two viable types of battery technology) promises to end the electric utility model(and the clouds of coal-smoke and other pollution — mercury — that goes with it), but that can’t happen if customers and consumers take the greatest share for themselves.

    The main thrust by Edison is taxing and/or overcharging (read gouging) customer/consumer solar facilities. Distribution of environmentally sane and efficient electricity is a very low-profit business that does not allow them to gouge for “Big iron”, and eventually will be done by local or municipal utilities.

    If your politicians butt-kiss the power-crats, and do not consider their constituents, then you have nobody to blame except yourselves for advances that leave you out, maybe for years, while everybody else benefits.

    1. susan the other

      Somebody please explain to me why we cannot revive Tesla and do individual power collectors for every building?

      1. craazyboy

        Not sure which Tesla thing you are referring to, but I always get suspicious when I hear of a miracle technology just laying around and no one anywhere in the whole world has realized they could just pick it up and make a buck (or yuan, peso, ruble, rupee, real, dinar, etc.) off it and the reason is [fill in your favorite reason here].

    2. craazyboy

      I think the real thing to worry about is if the vultures of any stripe see it as a biz opportunity to be handed a state subsidized monopoly and they end up extracting 2 or 3 or 4 times as much money for something that already will inherently cost us at least 50% more.

  12. fresno dan

    What is most interesting (uh, check that, what is most APPALLING) is that if police draw weapons on 11 year olds, no reports are made…..

    I have a tendency to believe making all thing all finance all the time harms the economy. Are there counter arguments? It seems to me all the efficiency arguments boils down to all the money efficiently going to the 0.01%

    1. allcoppedout

      All true in my view Dan. The counter argument is a holding plan to water, feed, clothe and shelter us while we stop the machine and start again – this would include a military umbrella until we can sensibly shrink or change it to more peaceful activities.

        1. hunkerdown

          Yes. Simple, basic, appropriate to the situation, and focused on earthly, immediate *needs*, not heavenly, aspirational *wants*.

          I think that first something’s got to be done about this idolatry of institutions that has been too successfully inculcated by Prussian education over here.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      With respect to efficiency and the economy, we can ask this question:

      What is the purpose of economics?

      (We asked another question yesterday – what is the purpose of government?)

      The purpose of economics is not

      1. so we can buy cheaper sandals (whether they break down sooner or not is secondary)
      2. making hedonic substitution and becoming quite an expert at it.

      No, the purpose of economics is this:

      Making the world a happier world.

      Remember, a more equal world, even less wealthy, is a happier world.

      Now, you know the purpose of economics (from my perspective, in a senior friendly format to deliver my kid-friendly content. Remember, don’t be impressed or mis-impressed by big words).

      Because simplicity.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Sociopaths derive pleasure from the misery of others. It’s a happier world, for them, as long as they get more.

        “Economics” is bent to the service of sociopaths.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Surviving misery means becoming really, really good at hedonic substitution.

          “Sir, I can’t afford clean water. Can I substitute it with cheaper, dirty drinking water?”

          “Sure. How many liters?”

          “Liters? Does America exist no more?”

          “OK, OK. The customer is always right. The customer is sovereign. How many barrels of dirty, drinking water you want then?”

          “I think I will take 10 barrels.”

    3. F. Beard

      “A man of great courage is a man of great faith” some Roman guy.

      And remember Joe Friday and his 38 revolver and no body armor?

      We have institutionalized cowardice and are not the richer for it.

  13. Brindle

    Good “on the ground” piece by a journalist who has spent some time in Yemen. Entertaining and revealing look at CIA/Contractor spook culture there. “qat” is a tea/herb I think.

    —During my time covering Yemen’s 2011 youth uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, it was more difficult to identify quality qat than to finger American spooks. Their out-of-uniform uniform, ubiquitous and often including 5-11 cargo pants, a pair of Oakley sunglasses and full beards, functioned as a caricature that could be plucked right out of the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise.—

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      “Catha edulis (khat, qat, or “edible kat”[1]) is a flowering plant that is native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Among communities from these areas, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years.[2]

      Khat contains a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a drug of abuse that can produce mild-to-moderate psychological dependence (less than tobacco or alcohol),[3] although WHO does not consider khat to be seriously addictive.[2] The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organisations such as the DEA.[4] It is a controlled substance in some countries, such as the United States, Canada and Germany, while its production, sale and consumption are legal in other nations, including Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen.”

      Everybody in the ME should be smoking dope on a regular basis (all of them — and I’m talkin‘ chronic).

      I can’t remember who said it (and I did try to look it up), but to paraphrase: I’t’s hard to get a dude to shoot someone if he’s just gotten high.

      It’s not like their culture doesn’t already have a robust drug use history. We have the Afghans (not Arabs, but still ME folk), and their opium poppies. Then, there’s hashish and kief:

      “According to the Oxford dictionary, the word “kif” derives from Arabic: تكيف kayf, meaning well-being or pleasure which might come from the euphoric feeling caused by THC.”

      Support peace in the ME.

      Do bongs.

  14. OIFVet

    400 Blackwater mercenaries are currently operating in the Ukraine according to German sources:

    “About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports.

    The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region.

    On April 29, German Intelligence Service (BND) informed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government about the mercenaries’ participation in the operation, the paper said, RIA Novosti reported. It is not clear who commands the private military contractors and pays for their services, however.”

    Great, let’s prop up the neo-nazis with american muscle for hire, most likely with some of that $5 billion Nudeleman was talking about.

    1. Brindle

      The creation of “failed states” is part of the business model for companies like Academi, Dynacorp and others. Just like the prison industry needs people to inhabit their cells, the mercenary corps needs new nation-states to destabilize to keep their services in demand.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The Global Praetorian Guard.

      These MFs should have been summarily shot on the battlefield, by whichever sniveling puss of a General was overseeing things, and in front of everyone:

      You draw your weapon on a US soldier or soldiers on a field of battle, and you get shot, dead. On. The. Spot. No exceptions.

      1. OIFVet

        It is my sincere wish for a couple of these hired fucks to be captured alive and paraded in front of live TV while Erik Prince and the various government clowns like Mr. Haircut and Mr. Nobel Prize for Peace are forced to answer who foots the bill for their presence in the Ukraine and why they are there in the first place. I doubt the mainstream propaganda machine will be able to ignore the story of American mercs then.

    3. Jackrabbit

      Yes, this is the big story of the day. (Bigger than voting in east Ukraine – that was expected).

      Moon of Alabama: Ukraine: Another German Leak Against US Policy

      @Banger: this does not reflect a “struggle” between neocons and realists as you have proposed. This leaking seems to reflect frustration that there is no effective counter to the neocons.

    4. Jagger

      How many times as Blackwater changed their name now? And I believe Blackwater gets their mercenaries, also know as hired killers, from around the world-not just American’s now. And the third world mercenaries are paid quite a bit less than their American, British, western mercenaries.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Black millionaires won’t lift us up – Money Creation via the People spending it into existence will. Everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gets to spending money into existence.

    Against Austerity – Jacobin. No fear of austerity with Money Creation Via the People spending it into existence.

    Notes on the Constitutional Amendment and the term Revolution. Money Creation via The People spending it into existence is revolutionary…to the 0.01%. You and me, not the government they have bought, get to spend money into existence. That will revolutionize ‘the descriptive’ brigade, by taking down the description and putting up a new one.

    Treasury could prioritize payments in default scenario. Let it prioritize between spying and buying drones. The people will be fine either way with Money Creation via the People spending it into existence.

  16. susan the other

    Rethinking Russia/US relations since 1989 now with all this and yesterday’s Washingtonsblog link on our relentless undermining of Russia. What isn’t clearly stated anywhere is that we are calculating our actions based on energy/oil/gas. Russia’s vast resources give her an upper hand because everyone wants them. So Russia becomes a threat to our economy wherein we only pretend to have energy resources (rocks and sand really). And Wolfowitz and Cheney are the poster boys for our nasty policies when in fact our nasty policies are established by a consensus of our oligarchs (and the UK and the EZ’s). And the thing that dictates our policies is the desire to preserve enough of our comfortable capitalist economy to survive and slowly change to some other economic model. Say environmentalism? It is suicide either way for us – whether we screw up the Russians and cripple their oil industry and therefore cripple global capitalism as we love it, or whether we soldier on by retailing oil to the EU – a fiction really abetted by our unimpeded dedication to the Amerikan way, and in denial until nothing makes sense. And etc.

    1. allcoppedout

      Sadly where the problematic remains with current politics Susan. Sad, true and probably beatable if we can break the propaganda hold of the Establishment and anarchists feeding off the niche market laid out to be derided as ‘idealist’. The real argument starts in what you are saying here.

    2. VietnamVet

      “What are they thinking” comes to mind. It isn’t that the White House has ignored climate change. It just has been infective. In Ukraine the Administration is simply lying about not supporting ultra-nationalists. After visits by John Brennan and Joe Biden in mid-April the Kiev Putsch Thugs on May 6th trapped and killed civilians and a pregnant woman in Odessa and continued their haphazard attempt at pacification of the Russian speaking majority province in the South and East of Ukraine.

      This is government by and for Plutocrats. The people are subjects to be exploited. So we are trying to talk about the needs and pathologies of the 0.01% who control the world. It is clear that the Davos Elite think they can survive the mass extinction of mankind by either a nuclear war between Russia and the USA or by climate change in the longer term.

  17. fresno dan

    ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment, ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment NASAtelevision on USTREAM. Science

    I am not getting this thing – all I get is a tiny round ball spinning around.
    The “download application” link at the bottom doesn’t do anything either….

  18. diptherio

    Thanks for the links to the Cooperation Jackson stories. After the fight they had to make the New Economies conference a reality, they deserve some recognition.

    Beyond the political battles, a tornado ripped through the outskirts of Jackson a few days before the conference was set to start. That evening @JacksonRising tweeted: “No administration or weather is going to stop us. The vision and mission will continue.”

  19. KFritz

    Re: How to Trick the Guilty

    It’s too bad that Curtis Mayfield didn’t use David Lee Roth’s strategem. He might still be alive.
    Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down when stage lighting fell on him in 1990, and died in 1999.

  20. shinola

    I just finished reading the transcript of the Munk debate, “Team Godzilla vs…”
    Definitely worth the time & effort.

    Some thoughts:

    Hayden: He’s a “spook” – not just any spook but a former head spook. His job is/was to lie, misdirect, misinform/dis-inform. Why he would be considered credible in these matters is beyond me. (see Clapper’s congressional perjury)

    Dershowitz: He is a trial lawyer. His entire professional career is built around winning the debate. Actual “truth” is not relevant. Prosecution or defense, it has been shown time & time again that being a trial lawyer is about competition & winning. Whatever side he takes (or is paid to take) doesn’t really matter – it’s all about winning the debate.
    He presents this as if the debate were about not allowing any sort of defensive surveillance when it is actually about crossing the line between what protects our national security vs. unreasonable intrusion into our own constitutionally protected personal privacy.
    To me, most of his argument seems to be”straw manning”.

    Greenwald: Another lawyer. I have found him previously to be prone to hyperbole (a lawyerly trait) even when I generally agree with his position. He seemed relatively restrained in this instance.
    Perhaps it would be different if I had actually seen & heard the debate rather than just reading it, but I didn’t find his argument forceful enough(!)

    Ohanian: I wish more “nerds” would point out why the sort of sabotage of the internet that NSA (and I assume CIA & FBI & …?) is engaged in is bad for bidness.
    I mean, why spend huge amounts of taxpayer dollars for collecting info. that Google, AT&T, Verizon, Amazon, Yahoo, et al would gladly sell relatively cheaply?
    Our gov’t seems to be enamored of the “P3” (Public, Private Partnership) concept. Isn’t this another case of setting up an inefficient, expensive bureaucracy that could be handled better by private, profit generating entities? [sarc. off]

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Good. The transcriber has been pounding away at this. It seems like the blogosphere is the any place where the record is kept straight, sometimes.

    2. just me

      Not Godzilla, Glenzilla. (Glennzilla?)

      I watched the debate. It was good and also infuriating. I wanted to throw shoes at Hayden and Dershowitz, they both came across as pathologic and/or horrifyingly insane, in their own ways. It was weird sometimes to see audience applauding them, though those were their instructions, watch the clock and applaud when time’s up. But laughter was true. The most telling moment of the debate was at the end in closing statements when Hayden said trust me and the audience started to laugh. Rolling moment of truth. Hayden got it, Greenwald got it, Ohanian got it.

  21. Luke The Debtor

    Slow Exit of the Midwest’s Winter Buries Gardens in a Deep Freeze

    No mention of global warming or climate change. Seems odd of the NYT not at least once mention either in such an article.

    1. Yves Smith

      Global heat maps show the entire world save the eastern half of the US to have been off the charts warm over the last six months.

  22. Jim A

    re: prioritization. Seems to me that people who espouse paying bondholders first suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding. Tinpot dictators and oligarchs the world around know that the FIRST people to get paid when the government can’t pay it’s bills are the armed services. and then the national police. Pay the people with the guns or they will use them.

    1. F. Beard

      Good point and the fools lack the good sense to fund Veteran’s Hospitals well too.

      The banks and sovereign debt holders are already suffering bad (that is to say true) publicity so let’s see the banks and rich bond holders pitted against SS recipients who can’t pay next month’s rent without their checks. 3rd rail indeed and the voltage may be higher than ever.

      Please insensitive, cruel fools, take off your shoes and go barefoot on the tracks.

  23. OIFVet

    Behind the curtains look at Etihad Airways’ new The Residence class. It includes a personal butler named Jeeves and a private bath with showers. Looking at the double bed though, what I really want to know is if the $20k one-way ticket price includes the courtesan or if that service is optional for an additional modest fee.

    1. allcoppedout

      They only fly me in ‘drunken Arab class’. If upgraded to the $20K bath and asked if I wanted ‘specials with that, Sir?’ I’d ask for a duck and submarine, hoping they had some plastic toys in stock. Lord knows what I might get.

      1. skippy

        In the day we carried a few aircraft grade large bolts, after few drinks and chatting up the stewardesses… the bolt[s were dropped as from above.

        skippy…. the looks one gets when asking… are these important???

  24. Vatch

    The article link “401(k)s are retirement robbery: How the Koch brothers, Wall Street and politicians conspire to drain Social Security” is a useful corrective to the peculiar idea that the Presidential administrations of the current millennium are qualitatively different from the Reagan administration. If it had been politically feasible, Reagan would have been as plutocrat friendly as Bush II and Obama. Reagan really did try to gut Social Security. The defense of Reagan by Paul Craig Roberts, who simultaneously criticizes Bush II and Obama, just doesn’t make sense.

    Also, Banger’s comment today on the Reagan administration’s coverup of death squads in Central America provides more evidence for the way that Reagan foreshadowed the Presidential crimes of the 21st century. The Reagan administration was, in many ways, a dry run for Bush II and Obama.

  25. Nick Smith

    Dear Yves, I am sure you do not have a large readership among Russians in Russia for two obvious reasons: (a) those who want to read about “capitalism” do not know English, (b) those who do avoid what they consider an ideologically-loaded material. So I belong to the really rare breed in Russia who enjoys your site as providing alternative views on economy and politics. That’s why I am truly disappointed by your coverage of the Ukrainian crisis. There are a lot things which are not clear about the crisis, there are a lot things that are truly debatable. However, two facts are perfectly evident. First, the current Kiev regime or Government (whatever term one prefers) which, one may claim, have already committed unwise or criminal acts is definitely not (neo)Fascist or (neo)Nazist. The words “Fascists” or “Nazists” are not a mere emotional substitute for “bad guys”. In political science (check Wikipedia) these terms mean very specific things. Though, the Kiev Government has lukewarm-support of local ultra-nationalists and even some cabinet posts are held by their representatives, the Goevrnment policies are from being even ultra-nationalist, much less Fascist. Second, those who insist that the Kiev Government is openly “Fascist” or “Nazist” (by the way, there is a difference between the two) are either delusional or hacks engaged in propaganda war. This name-calling is not simply an emotional exaggeration, and it is not innocuous. For many, inside Russia, at least, the claim that the Kiev Government is “Fascist” provides sufficient excuse to surrender logic, analytical decency, elementary objectivity in order to say that any sort of defense in whatever form or shape against “Fascists”/“Nazists” is purely self-defense and, thus, absolutely legal and justified. Such attitudes can only supply additional psychological ammo to expansion of hostilities and further killings. I urge you, Yves, not to join the Big Lie pack and avoid posting links to such inflammatory posts as the ones that appear, say, in Washington’s Blog. Frankly, they are beyond the pale.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      So what do you call this, Nick? A spirited debate, or the acts of fucking Nazis?

      Why don’t you take your nauseating concern trollery and stick it. Tell the loved ones of these people murdered by your “Not-Nazis” and “Not-Fascists” that their deaths are being exploited in the service of some purported “Big Lie” and see how far you get? You are beneath contempt.

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