Links 4/17/2021

3500 year-old honeypot: Oldest direct evidence for honey collecting in Africa Heritage Daily (Kevin W)

Navy’s UFO video is best ‘world has ever seen,’ filmmaker says New York Post (furzy)

Can ‘Banana Buffers’ Save California From Wildfires? Atlas Obscura (Chuck L)

The Nation’s Corn Belt Has Lost a Third of Its Topsoil Smithsonian (David L)

Solar-to-Hydrogen Tech Sees “Remarkable” Efficiency Jump IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)

Flywheels Turn Superconducting to Reinvigorate Grid Storage Potential IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)

Brain Disease Transmitted By Tick Bites May Be Treatable Neuroscience News (David L)

Egg and sperm cell size evolved from competition PhysOrg (Chuck L)

The Brain ‘Rotates’ Memories to Save Them From New Sensations Quanta (David L)

The Anti-Freud Dublin Review of Books (Anthony L)

Human-monkey chimera embryos created in lab for first time New Atlas (furzy)

The genetic mistakes that could shape our species BBC (Dr. Kevin)


Covid: Canada sounds the alarm as cases overtake US BBC

With coronavirus surging, Brazil tells women not to get pregnant until a ‘better moment’ RT (Kevin W)


The Blood-Clot Problem Is Multiplying Atlantic (IM Doc)

Blood-clotting illness PVT 30x more prevalent in Moderna, Pfizer Covid-19 recipients than AstraZeneca – Oxford researchers RT (Kevin W)

SARS-CoV-2 binds platelet ACE2 to enhance thrombosis in COVID-19 Journal of Hematology & Oncology (Skunk)

Some experts fear next-generation Covid vaccines may be worse STAT (Dr. Kevin)

More on Lambert’s pet peeve:


India’s health system has collapsed Hindustan Times (guurst)

Hong Kong Quarantines Building Tenants After Mutant Strain Found Bloomberg


Covid-19: On Capitol Hill, Top Health Officials Urge Americans to Get Shots – The New York Times

Reducing Global COVID Vaccine Shortages: New Research and Recommendations for US Leadership Duke (furzy). With leadership like ours…

American Interregnum New Left Review (Anthony L)


The pandemic may have caused 200,000 business closures — fewer than expected Business Insider. All in New York City?

A tale of hours worked for pay from home before and after the Great Recession: Learning from high-frequency diaries VoxEU


China looms large over Biden-Suga meet Asia Times (Kevin W)


As Myanmar unravels after military coup, people flee cities for rural backwaters Washington Post (furzy)

Lambert warns: “Interesting but what is happening in the countryside is more important”:


Gateshead pigeon racer warns that Brexit red tape could destroy the sport he loves ChronicleLiveUK (guurst)

Could proposed EU Gender Pay Transparency Directive apply in Northern Ireland because of the N.I. Protocol? – and, if so, how can that be done? BEERG (guurst). More unintended consequences…

Old Blighty

New Cold War

US laments ‘unwanted escalation’ & reserves right to retaliate after Russia’s tit-for-tat response to sanctions RT (Chuck L)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 15 APRIL 2021 by Patrick Armstrong Turcopolier (Kevin W)

Facing The Facts Of War With Russia American Conservative (guurst)


Obituary for America’s war in Afghanistan Asia Times. Kevin W: “Very much worth reading. Bhadrakumar knows his stuff.”

Pentagon: Unclear if Contractors Will Leave Afghanistan Antiwar (Kevin W)

Why a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal is needed to avoid a real nuclear crisis Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (guurst). From last week, still germane.


Biden backtracks on keeping Trump cap on refugees BBC

Biden slams US gun violence ‘epidemic’ after Indiana shooting DW

The Supreme Court Is Making New Law in the Shadows New York Times (furzy)

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren: Lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55 Facebook (Kevin C)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Clashes break out in Chicago, NYC and Minnesota and dozens are arrested after thousands of BLM demonstrators march to protest the fatal police shootings of Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright Daily Mail

Emails show DEA’s “covert surveillance” of racial justice protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, Albuquerque CREW (Chuck L)

In secret Facebook groups, America’s best warriors share racist jabs, lies about 2020, even QAnon theories NBC (furzy)

Our Famously Free Press

Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly Matt Taibbi

Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One Glenn Greenwald

Gargantuanisation London Review of Books (Anthony L). More on the EverGiven

CalPERS CIO comp under review Top1000Funds (Kevin W)

SPAC Hot Streak Put on Ice by Regulatory Warnings Wall Street Journal. Took too long. SPACs are the new name for a favorite gimmick of penny stock shills.

Class Warfare

Pentagon and Tax Cheats Already Cost Taxpayers Far More Than Biden’s Job Plan Truthout

A Third of U.S. Billionaire Wealth Gains Since 1990 Have Come During Pandemic Institute for Policy Studies

Another Minimum Wage Proposal Menzie Chinn. For 2024. Nearly $3 below a living wage for a single person in Alabama right now. We are such nasty people.

Antidote du jour. A photo series from Chet G:

Attached are five photos (all occurring in a second or two) on the release of a bobcat in Pennsylvania.

Here is Robyn Graboski’s April 8 description of the situation:

This gorgeous female bobcat is in care at Centre Wildlife Care after being hit by a car. A huge shout out to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for catching her and bringing her to us, and to Dr. Shapira from Straley Veterinary Associates for treating her. Wildlife rehab takes a village! She is improving by the day, and is already eating and growling at us.

The release occurred on April 12.

And a bonus (furzy):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Screwball

      Matt is correct that she’s number 1 like O’Reilly in ratings, but she reminds me more of Glenn Beck with the crying and drama. I wonder if she uses Vicks too?

      I guess I don’t blame her – one has to do something for a living. Maybe those millions help her sleep at night.

      More troubling is the people who actually watch her and buy into all her BS.

  1. Wukchumni

    Can ‘Banana Buffers’ Save California From Wildfires? Atlas Obscura
    That’s kind of brilliant, and turning toilet water into a banana split is sweet revenge over fire served cold. But who is going to mind the buffers?

    Newsom can’t admit we’re in a drought as the one screwup not his fault, could be the straw that broke the camel’s back if there’s a recall election, funny that.

    Talking wildfires, you never know how its going to turn out. Last year was a disaster, while the year before was no big deal. This one has me worried as a friend was relating that the water content of Chamise in the medium climes in April was more what you would expect of in August in the midst of the 100 days of 100 degrees in the Central Valley, i.e. everything will be a tinderbox.

    There was a lot of talk in regards to more prescribed burns since last season’s fire fest, but really no action as far as I can tell.

    We need a CCC for primarily the western half of the country.

    Conflagration Control Corps. They’d fight wildfires in the summer-fall, and prepare areas for prescribed burns in the fall-spring.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I take it that you are your neighbours are making your own preparations in case this fire season turns out to be something special? Previously Aussie and US/Canadian firefighters use to travel to each other’s countries during our respective fire seasons but with the pandemic, that option has been shut down I would expect. Worse, climate change in Oz means that instead of having a few months of fire season allowing our crews to rest and re-equip (and maybe travel to the US during your fire season), fire season may go now for several months so we will have to see if this is the way that it will be from now on. I hope that the same is not true of North America.

      1. Wukchumni

        I noticed more activity in prepping for the eventuality of something wicked this way comes, as last year’s blaze gave people religion in a fire sans brimstone fashion, and yet its all piecemeal prep in that there’s no cohesive efforts, its every landowner for themselves.

        3 out of 4 sides bordering the all cats & no cattle ranch have been largely cleared of downed wood, while really nothing has been done whatsoever on that 4th border, there’s ladder fuels up the wazoo leading to live trees, but all far enough away to not be a problem to me, but to their property, that’s another story.

        I realized last year the real danger is from airborne charred material-the advance guard of a fire. Its amazing how far it can go, the ground here had the look of an everything bagel from a wildfire 20 miles away, while a friend related that half of a charred check from the area where the fire was flittered down to his neighbors who showed the toast dated check to him.

        It wouldn’t really matter what fire prep you did if that particulate was just hot enough to ignite the oh so dry brush that dies off every year to become a fire hazard for 6 months before coming back to life.

        We’d have a thousand little blazes going off everywhere…

    2. Darius

      Lots of head-nodding on controlled burning though. Even concerned facial expressions. Liberals would call that progress. Actually doing something about it would break too many eggs.

    3. freebird

      It is a great concept,except he figures for a 1000′ thick wall of nanas around everything you want to protect.

      Two things in short supply in Cali: affordable land, and water. So…

      Still a good idea for homeowners to consider a thick banana hedge on the downslope/upwind side of their lots?

      1. Wukchumni

        I prefer that in lieu of banana plants, we set catch fences of banana republic flashpaper currency with or without dead presidents presence, in fire prone areas.

    4. Lee

      The SF bay area is a sea level watershed basin where a lot of wildfire smoke from surrounding regions thickly settles. Last fire season we put together a homemade air filtration device that worked well. Here’s a DYI instructional video on how to cobble together a cheap and effective one.

    5. Lee

      I’ll leave it to others to do the math.

      Bananas require an average of 4 to 6 inches of water each month, or about 1 to 1 1/2 inches per week, depending on the season. However, overwatering can cause root rot. Make sure the soil drains well and does not have standing water (Banana Plants and Irrigation – Home Guides).

      According to the most recent state survey, current recycled water use in California is 670,000 acre-feet per year (SWRCB and DWR 2012).

      1. juno mas

        …and banana plants, like palm trees, are monocots with an exposed apical meristem (growing point). Meaning the plant would die from a high heat event; even if the heat was not high enough to char the leaves. You would have to replace/replant a whole new grove after any extreme fire event.

        This exposed apical meristem is also susceptible to ‘frost kill’. While Berkeley is nominally in NorCal it is adjacent to a large, temperature moderating, shallow, warm, body of water (the Bay). Kind of like the more tropical climes where banana’s are native.

        The computer programmer should stick to coding.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “US laments ‘unwanted escalation’ & warns it reserves right to retaliate after Russia’s tit-for-tat response to Biden’s sanctions”

    I have read about this action in the news and the general consensus is that ‘Tis but a scratch!’ Not so fast. Gilbert Doctorow goes into it for an article and it sounds like the Russians have just lowered the boom on US operations in Russia so I will quote here-

    ‘The Russian counter measures have now been announced and they appear to be even more severe than what Biden imposed on them. While they have not ordered the US Embassy to close, they have done far more than expel a matching number of American diplomats. They have revoked a 1992 agreement with the United States on free movement of their diplomats around the Russian Federation; they will now be limited to 25 miles (40 kilometers), as in the days of the Soviet Union. They are now prohibiting the U.S. diplomatic missions to hire Russians or third country nationals to work for them; this will immediately hobble the activities of the diplomatic missions in every dimension.

    At the same time, the Russians are ordering the closing of US Government sponsored NGOs and foundations, which they say are conducting subversive activities on Russian soil, read “meddling.” And they have issued a list of former and present U.S. government officials who will be barred entry to the RF. These include the U.S. Attorney General, the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies and notorious Russia-bashers Susan Rice and John Bolton. Moreover, they have publicly recommended that the U.S. ambassador to Russia go home for extended consultations, effectively decapitating the embassy and winding down its work.

    The very severity of the Russian response suggests to me that they have cleared the decks for a possible summit on equal footing. Furthermore,to avoid any confusion in Washington about negotiations proceeding from a “position of strength” the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced today the transfer of Army units from the Northern Caucasus to Crimea for very extensive military training exercises, further expanding the Russian military pressure on Ukraine and its backers in Washington.”

    1. John

      But the DC playbook says that the USA can say and so whatever it wants and whichever country is being bashed today must roll on its back and wave it paws in the air. Alas, the Russians do not understand a rule based world.

      1. Alfred

        What is it about the Reality paradigm that the Russians don’t understand? Why don’t they wake up and smell the coffee™️?

    2. Mikel

      “They are now prohibiting the U.S. diplomatic missions to hire Russians or third country nationals to work for them; this will immediately hobble the activities of the diplomatic missions in every dimension.”

      Where some see “diplomatic missions”, others see potential “color revolutions”?

    3. Ook

      “US laments ‘unwanted escalation’ & warns it reserves right to retaliate after Russia’s tit-for-tat response to Biden’s sanctions”

      I love this response. It’s on the level of “it’s your fault! You hit me back first!”

  3. Miami Mitch

    “Navy’s UFO video is best ‘world has ever seen,’ filmmaker says”

    I do not know about anyone else but I cannot understand why people are not more amazed by these new UFO revelations. Is it because we have been watching alien movies for the last hundred years so this is just like another movie? Instead we are amazed by bitcoin and SpaceX?

    And why do I only read about it in the NY Post and then research it to find out it is all legit? I just makes me feel something more is going on. But I am interested hearing from anyone here who does not find this amazing.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its a fascinating question – I think its one of those issues which has fallen out of the realms of ‘respectable’ commentary, the technical version of the Overton Window, so nobody wants to touch it. Years ago there were publications like Omni that focused on those areas where real science and pseudoscience met, but there seems to be a cleavage now. I’d guess its down to pressure on academics – if they stray from a narrow path of respectable research these days, say goodbye to tenure. Or at the very least, expect lots of nerds to mock your twitter account.

      The UFO clips are incredible. Almost every UFO clip I’ve seen has been easy to dismiss, but not those most recent ones. For all sorts of reasons (Occam’s Razor), I don’t think we are being buzzed by aliens, but its very hard to come up with a rational explanation for the new ones.

          1. crittermom

            Having lived outside of Fairplay for almost 20 yrs, I agree it’s known for it’s visits from other worlds.

            And yes, “South Park” was created by 2 young guys supposedly after one of them lived with his grandmother there for a time, according to local word at the time.*

            South Park is a real place. It’s located in Park County and is a high mountain valley 60 miles long by 30 miles wide, surrounded by 5 passes. (There is also a Middle Park and a North Park). Fairplay is the Park County seat.

            However, the red alien in your link was actually photographed 100+ miles south of Fairplay, just south of where I currently live in the San Luis Valley:

            The story about how it came to be is quite interesting--and they’re celebrating their 21st year!

            As for me, I just stand on the back deck of my landlords house…

            *I only watched one episode but didn’t care for it, yet I did actually recognize some of the characters as locals, so I saw where the inspiration came from.

            1. crittermom

              Update: I just took a look at the lead story in the local South Park paper (the Flume) and regarding Covid, they’ve now gone to level green, the lowest.
              That could be scarier than any aliens.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              Wow, I didn’t know you lived in the San Luis Valley, its a very beautiful place, I passed through there cycling and had a long conversation about local politics with a cafe owner in Moffet. I was sorry I hadn’t more time to explore.

              1. crittermom

                TBH, I’m not in love with it here.
                In truth, though I’m very grateful for this roof over my head, some days I tend to hate it here. Sorry. Still not seeing that beauty you found here, after almost 2 years.

                I very much still miss my small ranch in South Park, where I personally found it much prettier, with trees and wildlife. (I’ve always loved trees!)

                No greenery here. Just howling winds like I’ve never known, and constant DUST. I find myself rarely taking pictures now, as there’s little to nothing to photograph that interests me.
                Sad, because for years that has been my biggest joy.

                No critters here during the day with exception of the gophers in the plowed fields of the crop circles, or the small herd of Pronghorn that show up sometimes but could never rival the massive numbers I’d see in South Park almost daily.

                Coyote are never visible during the day but make their close presence known at night, always making me fearful for my landlords cats (one disappeared last year).

                I’m close to Moffat & met the owner of the pasture that has the ‘owl tree’, as it’s become known over the years, just outside of town. (Great Horned owls)

                At least that gave me something to photograph last year, though I must admit they’ll sit in one position for hours during the day sleeping or giving a look with those huge eyes. Not much action.

                Hoping to move on some day to a place more to my liking.
                This doesn’t feel like home once I step outside these 4 walls.

                  1. tegnost

                    it says they have badgers down in monte vista…
                    oddly enough the birds I miss the most are the magpies…

                    1. crittermom

                      Badgers are not a favorite animal of mine.
                      I had trouble with them digging huge holes in my pasture, causing me to worry one of my horses or miniature burros (or me!) would break a leg in one.

                      They’re mean, too! I had to drag 2 large dogs away from one they’d cornered in the 1880’s cabin on my property once.
                      I was afraid the badger would win.

                      In Rocky Mountain National Park a wolverine was filmed there a few years ago for the first time.
                      Talk about mean, apparently they’re like a big badger
                      on steroids!

                  2. crittermom

                    I’ve been to Russell Lakes a few times & spent an hour walking the trail, but I couldn’t even see any water once I got on it. The reeds were far too high (or I need to be taller!)

                    Maybe I’ll try another trip soon before they get so tall?
                    Thanks for reminding me.

                    I did, however, discover that water and birds were visible–including white Egrets, from the road. No shoulder to speak of, however, which can prove a bit harrowing, and a fence to shoot through, but various species of birds to observe nonetheless.

                    I know the Sandhill Cranes have returned to the area as a few weeks ago they were flying over here in large flocks headed northeast.

                    While you often can’t even see them because they fly so high, you can certainly hear them as they do so. They’re loud!

                    I think I’ve been past the Monte Vista one but have yet to investigate it. I know that’s where they hold a large crane festival.

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  I’m sorry to hear you don’t like it there – I can guess its hard to hack a living from those arid spaces. I guess I was entranced by its openness after spending so much time in the mountains. But I’d certainly agree that the area around Fairchild is so much more beautiful. And a little further away, I fell in love with Salida and the mountains to the south.

      1. VodkaTom

        Contrary to the NYPost article, this article argues these UAPs are drones and ballons — operated by other nations to spy on US military operations.

        The flight characteristics of these UAPs seem to be what make them note-worthy, but Occam’s razor would lead me to unmanned aerial vehicles first.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          That was my first thought, but I very much doubt that the US Navy would be unaware if they were being tracked by drones – and they’d either suppress the news or make a big fuss over unsafe flying by Russia or China. Or just shoot them down. It would make them look very foolish if, say, the Chinese were to start saying ‘The Americans think our drones are spaceships!’

          1. VodkaTom

            Putting aside foo fighters, meteorological phenomena, and real extra-terrestrials (who are probably living semi-retired, by a remote mountain lake), these recents UAPs seem verified technological artifacts. The US Navy didn’t shoot them down even though intent and origin was unknown. The pilots didn’t request to shoot them down. Maybe they’d have a different mind-set over the skies of Syria. I think it’s more our arrogance that makes it hard to imagine our adversaries so easily flying around our test operations. Or it’s aliens.

            1. Wukchumni

              I was abducted by aliens the other day, they took me to their space, chips y salsa were served on saucer.

              I only gave them name, rank in society and (begrudgingly) my social security number.

              1. VodkaTom

                Wukcumni – a truly advanced species would have served you nachos, with the cheese distributed, layered, and melted at perfect mathematical ratios

                1. Wukchumni

                  Or at least some queso fundido con chorizo, si!

                  I’m mentioned this local UFO & extraterrestrial encounter @ Moose Lake in Sequoia NP a few times, and it happened in 1955 and all we have is eye witness accounts, but if such a thing happened in our era, most everybody has an excellent movie camera in their hip pocket, and if there was video of what is described in the link-the encounter with a Venusian, it would have been the only thing the world was talking about for some time…

                  …and yet with all those movie cameras at the ready how come the Navy gets the lions share of video of something unexplainable overhead?


                2. skk

                  other species may serve you for sure ! cf the “To Serve Man” episode of “The Twilight Zone”

                3. GF

                  It appears that space aliens have been more interested in contacting Native Americans than white or black people:


                  Click on “My Work” after reading the author’s bio. I have read the first two books in her library listing and found them truly remarkable.

            2. NotTimothyGeithner

              I like to stress after 9/11. I’m not sure its arrogance as much as I’m not sure potential American “adversaries”, reluctant vassals might be a better term, as the distances involved and the desire to not let the US in what they are doing. The cheap Russian cruise missiles effectively eliminated the need for the Russian Black Sea fleet, but until the missiles were tested, they didn’t know for sure.

              This is why I suspect its one hand not knowing what the other is doing in a massive organization with oodles of money.

              1. VodkaTom

                I agree US military research is also just as likely. “Oodles of money” understates how much the MIC has to spend.

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  I know other countries in drones too, but given the relative budgets and advances in missile technology and electronic warfare tech that we see publicly from other countries, I’m going to guess the US is still obsessed with its baby. Drones were all the rage through the MIC press releases until the Iranians hacked that one drone.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Given some of what is being watched (50 year old planes, and targets for submarines), I would hazard it’s the USA’s next generation of drones being tested. The US MIC is massive. It’s probably why we had the brief official panic and then nothing. Without the need for pilots, you can get away with quite a bit as pilots arent at risk of blacking out. The problem with drones is the major players are working on the kinds of systems to disrupt the communication. How it would play out when plans went awry is the question. Then it could be attempts at machine learning.

          After all, Harry Reid is all in on this, and despite what is said about broken clocks, Reid is well Harry Reid. After all, why aren’t we shooting at the objects in light of 9/11?

        3. Zachary Smith

          My own assumption had been that this was a scheme by another US agency to test some equipment. The author at your link makes a good case for an intelligence-gathering operation by a foreign power. Why the Navy would go public puzzles me though.

          1. Tom Stone

            I read “Project Blue Book” when it came out and a sampling of the UFO literature in the early 80’s.
            UFO’s or UAP’s have been sighted many times by highly trained observers at places like White Sands, sightings have also been reported by experienced pilots since WW2.
            I’ve spoken to three people I know who claimed to have seen flying saucers, two were pilots with many thousands of hours in the air and the third was my Grandmother Fuller who claimed to have seen one in daylight, close.
            These were people who I took seriously and they had certainly seen something unusual.
            WTF it was and WTF the Navy recorded is an interesting question
            For those with a love of oddities and unexplained phenomena I highly recommend the Fortean Society.
            Lots of oogle boogle but some interesting phenomena as well.
            Just for fun.

      2. Miami Mitch

        I agree, it does not have to be about inner or extra terrestrials to be interesting. I mean a ship that can fly like these things do, well, it would change the balance of power of any nation that owns it.

        But like A. said below, I think it could also just be too much to insert into our mental space.

        And thanks for bringing up Omni! I grew up on reading that magazine.

        1. CNu

          The Research and Technology Protection Program wants everyone to know that aliens ARE real. The UFO’s on FLIR are totally NOT a subsurface maritime-launched UAV. The US DOESN’T have those, but if they did, the Navy might want to introduce them without breaking the law on special access programs.

          Hypothetically, such limited hangouts could force adversaries to re-think their combat doctrine, potentially delaying future offensives in the South China Sea. There is nothing like spending a ton on wunderwaffen to plant a kernel of doubt in your adversaries, and convince yourself that conflict is anything but a crapshoot.

      3. Pelham

        Agreed about the Navy video clips, although it’s just possible that the US military is fabricating these images digitally to create a new fake enemy to spend megabucks against.

        That said, I’m strongly inclined to believe the images are not faked. And as a longstanding UFO enthusiast, I’m beginning to wonder about what happens next. If some thoroughly credible authority (are there any?) were to announce tomorrow that extraterrestrials are visiting us with unknown intentions, just how would that really go over?

        I’ve long thought my reaction would be something like, “Wow, cool!” But now I’m not so certain. It’s one thing to live with this possibility in the back of one’s mind. But I think it would be quite another to have it fully confirmed.

        There has been broad speculation for many years that the US military knows much more than it’s telling us about these phenomena but that they’re holding back any disclosure for fear of panicking the public. UFO followers scoff at this reasoning, holding that the public would probably take the news well.

        That was my thinking. Now I’m not so sure. The more I try to TRULY imagine such an announcement, the more I find the prospect disturbing. Deeply so.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Well to your point, the “spaceship” in that video looks a lot more like something from the original ‘Asteroids’ video game than a real spaceship like the USS Enterprise, so color me skeptical ;)

    3. A.

      I think it’s more that people are inundated with the coronavirus and whatever overstimulating junk the media or Twitter throws at them at any given day. As a human being, there’s only so much you can take and consider, and it is possible that the UFO news are simply not registering with people, particularly because there isn’t anything flashy going on. We are myopic creatures after all, and unlikely to fully grasp the significance of events before they “happen” to us. So it was with the virus, so it will be with the climate (though humans are obviously much more powerless than they think they are when it comes to that) and UFOs too, if UFOs turn out to be a thing.

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        For those that have seen UFO’s (and I will stick to the old description thank you) It is a life changing experience. For many it is terrifying. The military response has been to ignore or claim it was swamp gas for decades. Religionistas are terrified that the “invisible man in the sky” (thanks George Carlin) will finally usurp their dogma control. The Brass are quite worried about losing their edge and wondering what to do with the invaders should push come to shove. Considering the quality control for our military devices hasn’t produced a winner in some time, they are desperate to re engineer the craft that crash.
        But the secret no government wants to talk about is the potential visitation by the galactic interlopers within the larger student body that might prefer this planet doesn’t destroy itself. There seems ample evidence that the visitors are fascinated (or deeply concerned for human reaction to threat) regarding military devices designed to destroy the planet. They have rendered many intercontinental missile batteries inoperable as they study them. This alone makes Brass impotent and that terrifies them. Imagine the war and religion industries being forced to admit the truth that security from above is non existent?

    4. Mme Generalist

      Big if true, as the saying goes. But I think we have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of all Pentagon claims. The leaks were to a credulous UFO enthusiast rather than to a more agnostic journalist, for one thing. And who can truly authenticate the videos?

      I share your concern/confusion about what appears to capture the public’s interest/imagination and what doesn’t but, on the other hand, I’m not sure I have a clear window on that. Almost everything looks distorted these days.

      And I agree with those above that it’s strange that all the possibilities aren’t discussed, like unacknowledged foreign or domestic technologies.

      Anyway, I got a little flutter watching the video. Who knows?

      1. Pelham

        Good point re the Navy videos. They could be faked digitally — though not materially with some type of craft maneuvering through the atmosphere. And it’s just possible the military decided to get on board with the existing UFO bandwagon as a way to justify further astronomical expenditures, since we’re running out of credible adversaries of the terrestrial variety.

        But arguments that these things are drones or missiles or whatnot ignore key facts. If they are actual objects (and not Pixar-like creations on video), whether manned or not their speed and ability to change direction instantly rule out any known or even imagined technology.

      2. Maritimer

        “…it’s just possible that the US military is fabricating these images” Or some other US agency. Noble Fabrication time.

        As to my unconcern about this, I am more concerned about the 3000 Bills roaming the planet without any restraints on their behaviour, becoming more and more powerful and wealthy by the minute and/or crisis. 10% of whom are sociopathic; you choose how many psychopathic. More panic, fear and anxiety increase profits.

    5. fumo

      I think the reality is that other than necessarily vague descriptions of observed phenomena, nobody really has anything insightful or informed to say about these UFOs. I’ve watched my dog look at a plane flying over and she probably has as much insight into what she’s looking at as we do looking at these objects. So we’re left making unsupported speculations with almost no factual basis.

      It’s likely our brains are as incapable of understanding whatever these phenomenon are as my dog’s brain is at understanding a jet flying over it.

      1. fumo

        These phenomenon as described are flagrantly violating all known rules of physics for objects in motion, Any drones built by humans are extremely unlikely to be capable of doing that therefore it is highly unlikely that these, whatever they are, are a product of human technology. The other possibility is that there are humans with access to technologies far, far beyond anything publicly known or understood, which strikes me as even less likely than the non-human explanation. If these are human-made, *everything* publicly known about physics and science generally is completely broken and obsolete and there is a complete alternate scientific reality being kept secret by humans from existing science.

        Either explanation is bizarre to say the least, but the non-human one is far simpler and more consistent with what we know.

        1. Pelham

          Pretty much true. But there are human theories to account for these phenomena, including the Pais Effect posited by a scientist working for the Pentagon.

    6. David

      Interesting technical discussion here The consensus is that it’s a camera artefact: some people have been able to reproduce similar effects. .

      1. Gc54

        Very convincing explanation and demos there, thank you for that link because I’ve had several inquiries.

      2. fumo

        I find it astonishing to consider that the US Navy, with resources from multiple optical, radar and IR sensors to satellite imagery couldn’t distinguish a lens flare or bokeh from a UFO.

    7. Alex

      It’s 2021, and that terribly low quality video is the best evidence we’ve ever seen. Does that tell us anything?

      I have yet to see a film of a UFO where the “UFO” wasn’t obviously just a point source of light in the distance distorted by the cameras optics. Show me something close up, with detail of the object itself. Nah gah happen.

      1. Clem

        Now that everyone everywhere, with a smartphone–has a high quality video camera, you’d think that the number of UFO sightings, with video would have increased. Just the opposite.

      2. Aomoa

        Good to see I am not alone in thinking that the videos look like every other fuzzy, indistinct and open-to-interpretation UFO video I’ve seen before. I mean we have a widespread proliferation of excellent cameras these days, so show me the undeniable evidence already and I’ll be a little more interested in it. A lot of things could be true about those videos, but that doesn’t mean they are true.

      1. tegnost

        yes, unless we’re just being fattened up…just to add both sasquatch *and* loch ness monster videos show the same fuzzy characteristic…

  4. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike dept:

    Wasn’t allowed to go to altitude for 3 months on account of the gas bubble inserted in the back of my eye after surgery for a torn retina, and it feels good to be up high in the back of beyond, chasing fleeting spring colors which fled the foothills a fortnight ago, patches of light violet redbud trees sprouted all over distant hillsides on their way to deep purple before leafing out and becoming just another wallflower of a tree with waify branches spreading akimbo, but for that one glorious month of bloom, oh my!

    Oriole Lake was our destination, and it’s a barely living ghost town surrounded by Sequoia NP with a few inholdings consisting of dilapidated cabins, and a really interesting house with nearby runway, the latter being carved out of heavy equipment in the 40’s or 50’s, with a 1,000 gallon gas tanker truck, bulldozer, backhoe & spreader-all 50’s in vintage along with the house, spending their retirement sinking into the ground.

    I’d guess the approx 1,000 foot long runway @ 5,400 feet hasn’t been used since the 60’s, as there are lots of small to medium trees and deadfalls which have happened since, along with water erosion which is to be expected when you flatten out dirt on the hillside of a mountain in order to fly your small plane back & forth to SoCal, so the story goes. The pine trees at the end of the runway would be an issue now as there’s a wall of 100-125 foot models you’d have to get over.

    Any plane mavens out there…

    What sort would you have used back in the day for STOL @ altitude for a commuter plane, of sorts?

    Such audacity really, a do it yourself airport gone to seed.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Interesting question about what sort of aircraft could have used that airstrip, bearing in mind that the higher the altitude, the longer the take-off needed.

      For some reason, US industry never had much interest in STOL aircraft, unlike in Russia and Europe. Its probably a matter of geography, there has always been more of a need for STOL in Europe due to smaller, more constrained airstrips, plus military strategy that emphasised putting airstrips as close as possible to the front lines. Post war, some STOL aircraft, such as the Westland Lysander made their way to the States for use. I believe even some of the famous Fieseler Storch made their way to the US post war. Its possible I suppose that some of the high winged 1930’s utility aircraft such as the Cessna Airmaster maybe could take off on an airstrip like that and there would probably have been quite a few of them available cheap in the 1950’s.

      If you poked around that place maybe there could be the remains of an old aircraft, some can be very valuable, even if just a hulk – especially if there are none left flying. Somewhere lying around there is a photo of me aged 5 on top of the tailplane of a Fokker Triplane sticking out of an overgrown pile of weeds in the corner of an airfield. It was a replica made for the film Blue Max, I assume they were abandoned as they were cheap and unplayable. I think that started my aviation interest.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a 1,400 foot long airstrip @ Saline Valley hot springs named ‘Chicken Strip’ (ha ha) we’ve seen planes with balloon tires land at, and sometimes even a Cessna 172 with an accomplished pilot, but its only @ 1,360 feet in altitude.

        My wife flew in a Ford tri-motor out of Planes of Fame in Chino about 25 years ago, it went so slow you could set a sundial to it.

        The reason it and a number of other Ford tri-motors were flyable, was I think Alcoa had the original metal molds to make the skin of the airplane, which they sold for the princely sum of 1 Dollar in the 1980’s to a conservancy group, so as to allow new aluminum siding to be made.

        We both flew a DC-3 from Chino to Catalina & back, that was a trip flying in one of those!

      2. rowlf

        As a former Twotter mechanic. I think the US was interested in STOL aircraft (The trade magazines certainly were at the time.) de Havilland of Canada made some great airplanes, the US had Helio Couriers, several companies made military prototypes, and Fairchild assembled Pilatus Porters under licence, several Cessna designs, Maules, and hot-rodded Piper Super Cubs. In the end it did not seem to matter and helicopters also got bigger, better and more reliable. The STOL planes had their niche in North America. There is a conversion outfit in Cape May NJ that has a herd of DHC Caribous on their ramp that they swap from pistol to turbine engine power. These are still being flown in Afghanistan and other places.

        I worked on de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters at a small commuter airline with our maintenance base on an old military airport next to the ocean. One of the challenges with the Twotter design is the hydraulically operated flap control system would leak internally, allowing the flaps to droop down when the aircraft was parked for a long time on the ramp. In moderate wind the parked aircraft would start to fly out of the chocks. For parked airplanes we would have to tied down the aircraft, which is odd on bigger aircraft. When towing aircraft around a mechanic would have to be inside to run the hydraulic system to keep the flaps up so the airplane would not fly while being towed.

        On Pilatus Porters the climb rate can be inhibited if the pilot has a big enough gut to interfere with how far aft the control stick can be pulled back.

    2. Rod

      Just to speculate, given the timeframe you’re thinking (and the Sea Bee nature of construction you describe) :

      A Piper Cub A 65-horsepower J- 3 had a rated top speed of 85 mites per hour, a service ceiling of
      9,300 feet, and a range of 190 mi les, I>c rformance characteristics roughly equivalent,
      although somewhat inferior, to the most advanced World War I observation aircraft. The
      Cub burned three ga llons of gasoli ne an hour, had a takeoff roll of 300 feet on sod, and
      landed at 35 mi tes I>c r hour.
      Its small size-a wingspan of slightly more than 35 fe et, a
      length of 22 fee t, 1mel a height of less than 7 fee l- made it dilTicult to spot from the air and
      easy to hide on the ground. Its 730-pound emply weight allowed two or three men to manhand le it under tree limbs, a most convenient way to camou flage its presence from an aerial observer. The light weight also g:lVe it goodjlofafioll , the ability to operate off soft and
      marshy ground, whereas a heavier aircraft would simply sink into the mud.

      or maybe a Taylorcraft:

      or maybe an Aircoupe:

  5. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren: Lower the Medicare eligibility age to 55”

    That sounded kinda familiar and I am sure that Hillary Clinton made such a proposal way back in 2016 in her campaign so I went checking and found this-

    Of course when all is said and done, just how much is a politician’s promise worth anyway? We had a Prime Minister here who, after he was elected, started to refer to core and non-core promises.

    1. timbers

      Maybe Liz can ask Joe Lieberman to campaign with her for Medicare at 55. He flubbed and endorsed it too, during the high point of O’s 2 year boring soap opera to pass his insurance corporation bailouts.

      Lieberman realized his mistake and quickly reversed himself, I believe. Probably his wife who I think was in the insurance industry got mad at him.

    2. Mikel

      Makes sense with age discrimination for jobs beginning around 40 and picking up steam at aaround 50.

      1. Susan the other

        Cherry picking for the insurance bz. Health issues are almost minimal until you are 50. Then things start to get expensive. Why the government wants to give the health insurance companies all this unnecessary money is a puzzle.

  6. shtove

    The anti-Freud article mentions one of the English doctors learning German with a Prussian accent– reminds me that Lenin spoke English with a Dublin accent: “De capitalists will sell us de rope wid which we shall hang dem.”

  7. John

    I do not use social media.I have never used social media. I do remember being told that when you write an angry letter it is best to put it aside, at least overnight, allowing your passions to cool. I did that more than once and ended up modifying the screed into something more reasonable. That remains sound policy regardless of the medium.

    Social media depends on impulse, immediacy, attack and counter-attack. It appeals to our basest motives and most virulent prejudices. The algorithms that drive the media reinforce, not dampen, the extremes creating perfect engines to create, for want of a more precise term, mobs. Thus, a business model that thrives on hysteria.

    Is it any wonder that it feels as if we are careening at top speed along a narrow road on a cliff edge?

    1. ambrit

      Your comment made me think of the final scene in Kurosawa’s “Ran,” where the character, blind, using a cane, walks toward the edge of a high cliff.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Covid: India, Brazil, Canada

    Lots to chew on in the links today. I think its fair to say that last summer, even the pessimists would have predicted that by now the pandemic would be running out of steam to some extent. And yet we have Brazil where ‘herd immunity’ has completely failed, India, which managed to keep the lid on the pot now under extreme pressure, and now even well organised Canada suffering a heavy wave. And the US has yet to see what B117 has to offer. If you add to it the article in STAT linked above, about vaccines potentially losing their ability to fight it off, in a worse case scenario we could still be here this time next year, watching yet more waves of infection, even in well vaccines communities.

    I consider myself a Covid pessimist (as I said recently to a friend, that means I’m rarely disappointed), but I booked a holiday for March 2022 (ferry to north Spain with my bike). Maybe I was too optimistic. I’m glad the booking was cheap.

    1. Wukchumni

      Talking with our cousins from Calgary on Zoom last week, there’s the weirdest dichotomy in that we in the for the time being ‘safe’ USA are looking at much lowered numbers and it seems like we have the virus on the run, while its the opposite in the Gulag Hockeypelago.

      They firmly put the blame on their PM for being ‘just-in-time Justin’, in not having enough vaccines on hand.

      I find Canadians to be pretty law abiding, heard of somebody in Medicine hat who got 5 years in the slammer for jaywalking. Can somebody up over relate to how many masked men & women you see in your travels?

      Did it get made into a political football, as here?

      1. Sub-Boreal

        I think there’s plenty of blame to share around.

        Not that we needed any more reminders, but COVID has revealed the strengths and limitations of federalism. So we get NZ-style regional bubble zones like the Atlantic provinces and the northern territories, at the same time as the provinces with the most RW regimes are circling the drain (Ontario, Alberta) and lurch toward seizing up of their hospital systems. The rest are muddling around with yo-yo management of the successive waves. And Quebec does what it pleases, when it pleases.

        Canada and our cousins in Oz make for an interesting twins-separated-at-birth experiment. I’m not sure how their state vs. federal division of powers compares with Canadian federalism, but from afar it looks like they’ve generally handled things better, at least recently. I’m sure that a NC commenter from down under will enlighten us.

        Not to give Trudeau a free pass, but health care is in provincial jurisdiction. However, the feds have managed plenty of bungling on their own, particularly in letting a crucial public health surveillance body go to rot between crises ( ) and years ago allowing an excellent public laboratory for vaccine development to get privatized ( ). So we’re totally dependent on vaccine imports for the near term.

        So all levels of government have form, as they say on the Brit cop shows.

        Since I haven’t traveled outside my small town bubble in central BC since late 2019, I can’t generalize about the prevalence of mask-wearing, but locally it’s the norm. There are occasional bozo eruptions, which get quite a bit of coverage mostly because of their rarity. Masks don’t seem to be quite the totem of identity politics here that they’ve become elsewhere.

        1. Kfish

          Here in Oz, the Prime Minister tried to implement a ‘herd immunity’ strategy, but was swiftly undercut by the state governments who have responsibility for their health care systems. State border restrictions were brought in in the teeth of a federal government threatening to sue to force them open again. Eventually Scotty from Marketing was forced to agree to close the country down despite the economic impact.

          Australia had some massive natural advantages: it’s an island, about the size of the US Lower 48 with 25 million people spread across it, and a fairly isolationist culture. Closing the borders was not a difficult sell the way it would be in, say, Singapore.

          I think the real COVID champions are Vietnam. Long border with China, dense population and yet they stopped it completely.

    2. Basil Pesto

      again, I feel like a prize shit bringing up our relative covid sanssouci status (talk about checking one’s privilege), but the travel bubble between Aus and NZ opens tomorrow and I’m sorely tempted to pop over before winter sets in to suss it out and play golf (and maybe some dilettante-level mountain biking). As you suggest, who knows how long that bubble will stay open?

      1. Wukchumni

        ‘Tasman Man’ distantly related to Florida Man in that both have cities named Melbourne & Dunedin.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Please bring it up at all opportunities, it needs to be highlighted for the islands of Europe that effective suppression of Covid is not just possible, it is the only way to save businesses and economies.

        I’ve seen some glimmers the last few days that just maybe, the thousands of owners of bars and cafes and shops that are suffering so badly under restrictions are slowly beginning to realise that the cause of their distress is not government restrictions, but the actions of their own representatives, in lobbying very hard for premature openings in the autumn. Its easy for the opponents of zero Covid to say ‘oh, China is different’ or ‘Taiwan isn’t Europe’, but its far harder for them to dismiss what is happening in the antipodes.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal is needed to avoid a real nuclear crisis”

    It may be too late. Biden has already shown bad faith by saying that probably not all the sanction will be lifted if a deal is made and Israel is doing its best to blow the whole negotiation up. But when the EU dumped their own boat load of sanctions at the start of the negotiations, that was just totally unnecessary and a sign of bad faith on the part of the EU when they should be acting as a neutral host. How is Iran suppose to take the promises of the US and the EU seriously or have any trust in them?

    But then again, maybe they don’t need them. China has already signed a major deal with Iran much of which is classified. But I just saw news today that Iran and Russia are set to sign a comprehensive strategic agreement. So now Iran has both China and Russia in its corner which it did not have before. Of course Iran could sign a deal to never have nukes and make it comprehensively verifiable to the world but the US and Israel would never, ever tolerate such a deal- (1:58 mins)

    1. Synoia

      Well that secures the Western End of the Silk Road, Iran, the middle Russia, and the far east, China.

  10. Gregorio

    Lowering Medicare eligibility to 55 sounds like a big boost for insurance companies to me. It would guarantee that they only have to cover the demographics least likely to have major or chronic health issues, insuring increased profits on their overpriced flawed product by allowing them to dump their least profitable segment onto the taxpayer. How about we just make everyone eligible for Medicare and get rid of the middleman completely?

    1. freebird

      Don’t forget those companies also sell Medicare add-ons and Advantage plans (where the govt pays them in lieu of covering you directly). Whatever ‘regular’ policies they lose, they will make up for on the add-on side; if they don’t, they’ll raise rates to force the books into the black.

      And let’s not forget Liz tanked the progressive movement, twice, in order to enrich her own career. Pretty sure what the little people want or need is not at the top of her to-do list right now; she just crafts a progressive soundbite now and then to keep people thinking she’s ‘fighting for them’.

      1. marym

        It would be interesting to see how the insurance industry would weigh the pros and cons of adding 55+ to highly privatized Medicare, but I haven’t seen any analysis of the impact.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Lambert warns: “Interesting but what is happening in the countryside is more important”:

    I wonder about this – Myanmar is of course mostly a rural country, but while revolutions have come from the mountains, most authoritarians only really worry about what happens on big city streets. Its possible of course that rural discontent could merge with existing separatist forces, but I would imagine that the Myanmar military would be happy to deal with that in their own unique way, knowing its far out of range of the worlds media. The streets of Rangoon are another matter, if they become a no-go area for government supporters, they really are in big trouble. There is a reason why they were trying to build another capital for the country.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      I agree with this. The Tatmadaw has always recruited Burmese farmboys out of the paddies, for whom the army was a ticket out of extreme poverty and boredom. The army became their family and they were happy to beat and shoot whomever they were told to, even students and monks.

      But today, running a modern military force, still less a diversified commercial criminal empire along the lines of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard conglomerates needs to recruit from the urban educated classes. And now thanks to telcos like Telnor even farm kids aren’t as ignorant of the world as they used to be.

      …. While these guys are still ok to kill Rakhine (Bangladeshis) and force hilltribe women at gunpoint to clear mines (by walking on them), shooting their cousins and classmates en masse in the streets is going to be a much harder order.

      Another point; Burmese culture is Buddhist, but they are not beyond suicide attacks (assassinations, not so much car bombs).

      Another point: I’ve interacted with a couple of the ex generals turned ministers and businessmen. We are not talking Noriegas here; they are quite impressive and sophisticated people. It doesn’t make them good human beings – I frankly loathe the Tatmadaw as an institution, having seen their handiwork upcountry long ago – but don’t rely on them to be knuckle draggers.

      Naypyidaw gives me the willies; giant boulevards with no cars, 30 or 40 luxury hotels with no cars in the lots; ministries carefully concealed/isolated in their own compounds. Some extremely odd characters designed that place.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for this – given your experiences, it would be great to hear more about what you think is likely to happen.

        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Cheers for the compliment, but I am no longer active there, so at this point I am merely commmenting from the outside like the rest of us. The Irrawaddy is a pretty good resource.

          As to prognostication, as best I can tell the Tatmadaw were hoping to replicate a Thailand situation where the Army took power in 2012 and has basically ruled behind the scenes ever since. However, Thailand has a universally respected monarchy, in whose ‘defense’ the RTA always claims to act, and the pols they threw out were rather sketchy characters. So most Thais (and international investors) merely shrugged and didn’t see it as that much of a change. Business as usual went on.

          In the case of Myanmar, everybody knows it was the Army junta (Burmese Way to Socialism, SLORC etc.) keeping Burma in the Stone Age, voiding laws and contracts at will and stealing huge rakes off all commerce. Having tasted the first fruits of modern life, the people just won’t go back to those days meekly. To Lambert’s query, I think this is true of the peasantry as well, at least the Bamar lowlanders who matter politically. They all have smartphones now, for better or worth….

          …Extreme N%zi level repression against one’s own community only works when (a) the status quo has visibly failed to deliver for the majority (b) there’s a credible threat to point to, foreign or domestic. Ordinary Burmese don’t hate foreigners right now (except maybe Bangladeshi migrants trying to pass themselves off as Rakhine, but I digress).

          The Tatmadaw in contrast has no credible enemy except its own people, and is visibly turning the clock backwards. Its only program is to reassert the generals’ dominance and privileges. And Burmese generally being placid on the outside, but when they blow they blow, the more civilian blood they spill, the more savage the retribution will be if and when the Army splits. It will be very much ‘kill them all before they do the same to you’. No quarter.

          ….I expect that the Japanese and Europeans (Norway alone has put billions into the country) are working triple overtime to talk the army back to barracks and work a deal with the restoration of the elected government, in return for no inquiry into the violence. If that can be done, I expect the Army hive mind to purge the idiots who were too quick to trigger this mess over a fairly routine election, and elevate a younger cadre that is less arrogant and out of touch.

          The wild card of course is China; they may see a chance to coax the Army into their arms and secure exclusive rights to ‘develop’ the country once it is cut off from competitors by sanctions. The Tatmadaw, like Burmese in general, has always been wary of “Imperial entanglements”, but if they have no better choices and the free carry is free flowing then they will play. In that case, stay indoors, stay offline and if you’re a foreigner, get out.

          1. witters`

            “(except maybe Bangladeshi migrants trying to pass themselves off as Rakhine, but I digress)”

            So the Rakhine are escaping Bangaldeshi Bangladeshi’s?

            1. PlutoniumKun

              OF no doubt knows more than I, but from what I’ve read the Rakhine are a distinct ethnic group in Myanmar with roots in what is now Bangladesh, but their numbers were swollen by incomers from Bangladesh in recent years. The government took the opportunity to call them all illegal immigrants and engage in what was arguably genocidal acts against them.

              What proportion are genuine Myanmar (as in, they’ve lived there for many generations), and who are Bangladeshi, I’ve no idea, and I’m not sure anyone really does.

          2. Lambert Strether

            > To Lambert’s query, I think this is true of the peasantry as well, at least the Bamar lowlanders who matter politically. They all have smartphones now, for better or worth

            That all the Tatmadaw can do with cellphones and the Internet is shut them down indicates a lack of preparation, at the very least.

            > when they blow they blow, the more civilian blood they spill, the more savage the retribution will be if and when the Army splits. It will be very much ‘kill them all before they do the same to you’. No quarter.

            Perhaps Gene Sharp-style tactics work on Norway, et al., I don’t know.* They don’t seem to be working on the Tatmadaw. The thought of “predator satiation” as a strategy has crossed my mind. Perhaps that is what it would take.

            * I do think R2P by the United States — and who else? — would be madness. We’d fuck it up.

          3. PlutoniumKun

            Thats very useful information, thanks. It does seem to me that the only peaceful resolution would involve some sort of amnesty/chunk of cash to the key members of the Junta to retire them off. That sticks in the craw, but if it saves thousands of lives, it may be the only way.

            Another possible outcome, related to the above, could be an army coup within the army, with more sensible younger officers setting themselves up as saviours (primarily to save their own skins). I would image this would lead back to the status quo, but with even less democracy.

            The worst case scenario would look to be a clumsy external intervention making things even worse. The Chinese are probably too sensible to get directly involved militarily, but if they feared a Somalia on their doorstep (or even an opportunity to gain control), its not out of the question that they could make that calculation.

            I think Myanmar may be about to test the semantics of the distinction between warlord based anarchy and federalism.

      2. Lambert Strether

        > running a modern military force, still less a diversified commercial criminal empire along the lines of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard conglomerates needs to recruit from the urban educated classes.

        My concern was the more the warlords, up-country by definition. If there is to be Federalism, I think it has to come with their backing.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Those warlords of course also tend to have ethnic roots, which complicates things. It complicates things even more when those ethnicities have populations in adjoining countries like Thailand and India and China. I wonder, for example, what the Thai military would think about having a Karen federal state on their doorstep given the number of Karen people in Thailand.

          I hope you appreciate how well I’ve resisted the temptation to make a joke about the influence of Karens on US domestic politics.

  12. PlutoniumKun


    Those Brexit figures to trade to Ireland hide one thing – because the UK is simply not bothering to do much to carry out its promises to check carriage between Britain and Northern Ireland, lots of trade between Britain and Dublin has simply transferred to the ‘indirect’ route via Northern Ireland, rather than the direct one (Wales to Dublin via the Holyhead ferry). This is to avoid the mountainous paperwork. This can go on until eventually Brussels says that Dublin must crack down on this trade (there is already an issue with Irish people avoiding Covid Quarantine rules by flying to Belfast and getting taxi’s to Dublin).

    Dublin doesn’t want to do anything, especially with things so sensitive in Northern Ireland, but eventually it will have no choice but to start mounting more checks on the main roads. Sealing off the border is impossible, but some sort of checkpoints on the main roads looks inevitable for as long as London insists on playing games with its agreements.

    But having said that, there is no question but that there has been a very significant dislocation of trade. Its just become too complicated and risky to deal with the UK if you have any alternatives. All the indications are that this is not temporary, companies are putting in place permanent arrangements. Also, not in those figures, but I think ultimately more significant, is that uncertainty over legal requirements means that nobody in Ireland wants to hire consultants from the UK for any purpose whatever, unless they have an Irish office. Its not worth the risk of a losing tenderer taking it to court, or hitting some sort of legal issue.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “India’s health system has collapsed”

    Knew last year that this was going to happen. Not because India does not have a good healthcare system or anything like that but simply because with this virus, it has always been a numbers game. And the number of people living in India guaranteed that eventually the virus would collapse their healthcare system. With good governance something could be formulated to fill the gaps but unfortunately India has Modi in charge. And checking the charts, India already has had about 15 million people infected so that potentially means that there are only 1,375,000,000 left to go. They are going to need some serious help.

    1. skk

      There have been 5 covid cases in my extended family of about 100 ( yeah small I know ) in Maharashtra – no deaths, none serious enough for hospitalizations – a couple were prescribed dexamethasone ( steroid ), Ivermectin, Vit-C+zinc combo – all, ages between 25 to 65, have recovered well, seemingly without ‘long covid’.

      Just about all of them now have been vaccinated. I’m sure this is a class + education issue.

      Lesser of a class issue, I quite sure they are glad Modi is in charge. When I think of the miserable mess Congress/Gandhi lot made repeatedly over decades, I can see why.
      But on Modi, western minds are made up so I’ll just state the above – and what a huuuge number people in India think, as seen by his repeated electoral wins – and leave it at that.

  14. zagonostra

    >Egg and sperm cell size evolved from competition – PhysOrg

    In the model, anisogamy emerged from competition to survive in an environment with limited resources.

    Issues in evolutionary biology are very hard to test because we can only study species that are around today. We can’t see what they looked like billions of years ago. Using mathematical models can yield new insight and understanding

    I don’t know about this article. Rupert Sheldrake said that Terrance Mckenna once said that if you give him one “miracle” or unexplainable proposition, he could create a “model” that would go anywhere you wanted it to go – or something similar to that.

    In a sense the article basic tenant, “that competition and natural selection drove this curious size discrepancy… bigger reproductive cells, or gametes, presented a competitive edge because they could hold more nutrients for a potential zygote. Smaller gametes, however, required fewer resources to make, which put less stress on the parent.” doesn’t and can’t, as far as I can tell, explain how something came from nothing” is similar to Empedocles’ of Love and Strife, which some say is influenced Hegel and Ficthe in coming up with their “Dialectic.”

    Then there is the religious aspect that some, though not many take seriously. One who does is Dr. E Michael Jones, a well known, hated and loved Catholic writer. His book, which I haven’t read, but have heard him discourse on in various Ytube lectures, approaches creation/evolution from a metaphysical understanding of “logos” in his book “Logos Rising” which is a philosophical/metaphysically compelling and logically coherent

    Anyway I’m not comfortable with the word “competition.” Maybe it has to do with the economic overtones and the use of it in social theory. E.O. Wilson looks at ants, the authors in this article look at zygotes and other biological entities.

    In the moral human sphere the subject matter is so much more complicated. So when I see articles with these claims/findings/hypotheses/speculations/conjectures/scientific theories, I do a back step.

      1. LifelongLib

        Going from memory, but IIRC there were some statistics linked on NC a while ago which suggest that while the U.S. is not an outlier in violent crime or suicide attempts, it is an outlier (high) on the number of those that result in death. The inference was that guns increase the lethality of events that might have happened anyway, but in the absence of a gun might not have been fatal.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Hong Kong Quarantines 81 Tenants After Mutant Strain Found”

    ‘Authorities are trying to establish whether he contracted the virus in Dubai where he works, on the flight or in Hong Kong.’

    I wonder if they are testing the sewer system to get a handle on what is happening with the population of that city.

  16. flora

    re:Some experts fear next-generation Covid vaccines may be worse STAT (Dr. Kevin)

    Here’s my layman’s question: Is this new class of vaccines using a created virus spike protein to instruct the person’s cells to mimic the spike protein and use the person’s mimicking cells as the immune system target the problem? That is, much shorter, would it be better to use the old-fashioned ‘killed-virus’ vaccine tech that makes the killed virus itself the immune system’s target? Serious question.

    1. Mikel

      And that leads me to another question.
      Has the debate over the origin of the virus truly been settled?
      Because I wonder, in general and not only specifically about the current virus, if vaccines for a virus that evolves in nature versus one that evolved in a lab would have to be different?

    2. Cuibono

      Short answer: we dont know.
      judging by the apples to oranges comparison , and judging by limited duration of observation, the answer appears to be no.

  17. flora

    Thanks for this awful news. Not surprising. The fed subsidies to private insurance Advantage plans are coming out the of traditional Medicare Trust Fund. This drains the Trust Fund faster than normal actuarial accounting planned for, and so the increased draw down to pay private companies is used to claim Medicare is going broke – so privatize it faster. Sure, that’ll work. Biden once bragged about trying to cut SS, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans benefits, “all of it”.

  18. Mikel

    RE: Finance/Economy
    Made me think of another article I ran across this morning:

    The subhead:

    Clients say ‘markets don’t feel right,’ one markets research analyst notes

    Starting to “feel” more like pacification on the one hand and climbing a wall of worry but putting on a happy face  on the other?

    Ignore the impending eviction crisis, riots, violence…just look at you portfolio!

  19. diptherio

    So, by and large I haven’t felt the need to join one side or the other in the Glenn Greenwald debate, but I have to say, his Daily Caller interview in which he declared Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump to be socialists really made me wonder WTF is going on in his head. He’s done some great journalism in the past, and he generally does a good job of calling out the corporate Dems on their BS and lies. However, a lot of other people do that too (Aaron Mate, for instance) who don’t feel the need to spout a bunch of bizarre nonsense on the Daily Caller too. I’m coming to the conclusion that GG really isn’t someone I care to be reading because of this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not falling for the genetic fallacy, as so many of his detractors are, that anything coming from him is wrong on that account, but I’m also not real keen on getting my information from someone who thinks Tucker Carlson is a socialist. Just sayin’.

    1. John k

      Maybe he’s thinking on a comparison basis… compared to who (whom?)
      Not Bernie, of course… say Pelosi, speaker. Or Hillary, former pres nominee. Or, say, the average elected dem. And waiting to see, when all is said and done, how much Biden resembles fdr.

        1. skippy

          How, exactly, do the likes of Trump, Carlson, and Bannon qualify as socialists? Greenwald explains — or at least tries to:

          “I think the vision is, you know, you have this kind of right-wing populism, which really is socialism, that says we should close our borders, not allow unconstrained immigration, and then take better care of our own working-class people and not allow this kind of transnational, global, corporatist elite to take everything for themselves under the guise of neoliberalism.”

          In that use it would be – National – socialism from the Class/Social organization perspective, I would proffer, and not so much an economic framework.

          1. Ranger Rick

            I can buy it, but at the same time I can’t. Nationalist (to the point of autarky) industrial policy, currency controls and price subsidies don’t scream socialist to me. And obviously “fascist” is out of the question because that’s generally used in the context of corruption, oppression and class warfare as opposed to an actual economic ideal.

            Is there a word that describes the philosophy of nationalist but almost laissez-faire capitalism that’s invoked in that article? To me this is less about calling someone right-wing a socialist and more a realization that I have the same problem describing whatever the economic system is that China has that blends arcane bureaucratic nationalist fiat with capitalist freewheeling.

        2. chuck roast

          Did any of these three call out the FR when the recently bailed out the stock market again and included for the first time the bond market? It would be safe to say that the preponderance of stocks and bonds are owned by a relatively small class of people…the Socialist Class.

    2. Jeff W

      Well, here’s the portion of the Daily Caller interview in question (on Ben Burgis’s YouTube channel) where he says there is a kind of “hybrid socialism that really is about nothing more than sandpapering the edges off of neoliberalism.”

      As Glenn explained in a later interview with Burgis:

      Yeah, so, as you know, the thing that caught my attention to your show and then that got us talking was a recent video that you did, exploring the controversy that had been created by several comments of mine, including the interview that I did with the Daily Caller, the right wing outlet founded by Tucker Carlson, in which I said that, if you look at the word “socialism,” not kind of in the abstract academic sense but in the way that it’s effectively discussed in the United States, what it actually means in practice, you can group a lot of people into that category—and I mean Tucker Carlson, I mean the “branding version” of Donald Trump in 2016 and Steve Bannon—because, you know, I think that one of the things that the left is failing to understand is, right, why right-wing populism has succeeded. You have to know your enemy or you can’t defeat them.

      And so, in France, for example, when Marine Le Pen ran against Macron and the socialists, she ran to the left of all of them, including the socialists, on questions like increasing pension benefits and retirement benefits. You know it’s like shut the border, don’t let any foreigners in, but for our workers, French workers, tax the rich and give them more benefits.

      And that was what Steve Bannon had Trump run on and wanted to do. Steve and his vision of the Trump presidency was getting into office, do a huge infrastructure plan of the kind that Biden is now trying to do, raise taxes on the rich, create jobs for American workers, and elevate the standard of living that American workers enjoy by redistributing wealth and by creating government programs designed to improve their lives.

      [my transcript]

      To me, he’s definitely not mistaking Tucker Carlson or Steve Bannon for people like, indeed, his own spouse David Miranda who holds office as a socialist. My interpretation is that he’s saying that, in the US, “socialism” can be used—or, really, is used—to mean anything that ameliorates or runs counter to the prevailing neoliberalism—and, in that sense, it could just as easily apply to people like Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon.

      1. skippy

        Yet the whole sales pitch is just PR for the unwashed, Trump did just the opposite with tax cuts for the wealth set and more fn-dereg et al … hence why I just view it as inverted neoliberalism aka totalitarianism.

        1. Jeff W

          “Yet the whole sales pitch is just PR for the unwashed…”

          Glenn has to know that. I think he’s talking about what exactly appeals to “the unwashed,” whether or not it’s just PR, and how it could all be construed—in a US context, such as it is—broadly, as “socialism.” (I’m not defending his view—I just think it’s less loony than the soundbite “Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon are socialists.”)

          1. skippy

            Oh I’m not taking Glen to task and not unlike Hayek having two editions of Road to Serfdom for the Europeans and another for the U.S. the term is a trip wire for the latter, could be seen as a backhanded slur to the uber capitalists.

  20. Wukchumni

    Egg and sperm cell size evolved from competition PhysOrg
    Spermrobics instructor to pastel colored eggs:

    99,999,999 sperm on the wall, 99,999,999 sperm
    You take one down fertilize it around
    99,999,998 sperm on the wall

  21. ambrit

    Quick Crapification of Our World sighting.
    I just checked the bank account online. A banner across the bottom advertised the bank’s “New Customer Agreements Policy.” Being curious, I had a quick look. Wow!
    The Bank has modified the customers “rights” to the Bank’s advantage. As in, one clause, limiting the customer’s time limit to litigate a complaint to two years, which the Bank then goes on to stipulate supersedes any “Official” laws!
    This looks like a massive power grab by the Bank. I’ll sit back and read the entire thing this evening. I think that the liberal application of “medicinal spirits” might be necessary during that exercise.

    1. flora

      “supercedes any “Official laws” ??? wow, that’s some hubris. Are there any other local banks or Savings and Loans in your area? / ;)

      1. chuck roast

        This is why you absolutely must not tear off the label on your mattress! The presence of this label prevents all law enforcement from searching your mattress when your bank demands your cash. Your mattress is legally the safest place for your cash.

        1. ambrit

          I get your good intentions, but, if I ever get raided, the chances of the police seizing our cash reserves under Civil Asset Forfeiture laws is almost probable. At that point, we agree that the resort to lethal force will be needed. What would be the purpose of continued literal serfdom? Strangely enough, my “better half” agrees with me on this. Go figure.

      2. ambrit

        There are several distinct Banks and S&Ls around here. Some Credit Unions too. However, I have not heard anything really “superior” about any of them from those who deal with them. This is a small city. The local elites are insular and not into significant infighting.
        Stay safe!

  22. Wukchumni

    We’re fast reaching a threshold where I feel the bare minimum for a mass murder to qualify as news really has to be in the double digits, that is unless performed with a serrated edged steak knife, and in that instance four would suffice.

  23. Roger

    “Labours lowest level since Keir Starmer took over” and the fact that there is no real opposition to a flailing Conservative Party. So mission accomplished then, Corbyn would be having a field day right now, but we can’t have that so Labour Head Office and the Blairites worked hard to make sure that Jeremy lost the first general election he faced – only just though (then Brexit and some mistakes finished him off in the next). I am sure that Keir will be handsomely rewarded for his contribution to the British elite cause.

    Funny how he was another “just in time” politician, only elected in 2015 as an MP and so quickly risen to head the Labour Party. An ex Queen’s Council, head of the Crown Prosecution Service and knighted by the Queen. So reflective of the body of Labour activists and voters! /sarc.

    In a modern “democracy” its not who gets elected, its who got selected before the electors get their chance.

    1. Count Zero

      Absolutely right, Roger. Within 5 years: Lord Starmer, a few nice consultancies, friends in high places ensuring a comfortable semi-retirement. Job done.

  24. Susan the other

    Thanks for the links to research on ACE2 receptors and the connection to platelet proliferation. Still no mention of ace2 blockers/inhibitors as a therapy. When I got my serology antibody test at the U Med (before I consented to getting the J&J) the nurse told me that there was a heated debate down at UMed in SLC about whether or not ace2blockers/inhibitors could be used against Covid. But nobody can come to a conclusion. Somebody should do a followup on everyone taking them for BP and see if there is a correlation with staying healthier than the rest of the older population (not on ace2 meds).

      1. Wellstone's Ghost

        While taking ACE inhibitors risk of ICU admission was 88% lower for smokers versus non smokers in the study. wow!
        Smokers lung wins the first round!
        Thanks for the article.

  25. Wukchumni

    The impact that wiped out the dinosaurs would probably have killed you too—unless you were in the exact right place and had made the exact right plans.

    LET’S SAY FOR a moment you want to camp alongside the dinosaurs. But not just any dinosaurs. You want to camp alongside the most famous. The most fearsome. So let’s say you spin the dials on a time machine to 66.5 million years ago and you travel back to the late Cretaceous period.

    There’s the tyrannosaurus hunting the triceratops. There’s the alamosaurus, one of the largest creatures to ever walk the earth. There’s the tank-like ankylosaurus crushing opponents with its wrecking-ball tail. And just as you settle down on one particular evening, there’s a brand-new star in the northern hemisphere sky.

    The star won’t flash, flare up, or blaze across the horizon. It will appear as stationary and as twinkly as all the others. But look again a few hours later and you might think this new star seems a little brighter. Look again the next night and it will be the brightest star in the sky. Then it will outshine the planets. Then the moon. Then the sun. Then it will streak through the atmosphere, strike the earth, and unleash 100 million times more energy than the largest thermonuclear device ever detonated. You’ll want to pack up your tent before then. And maybe move to the other side of the planet.

    When the big rock strikes, its splash constitutes 25 trillion tons of earth that it launches on ballistic trajectories, some at speeds that exceed Earth’s escape velocity. These rocks exit Earth’s gravitational pull to either orbit the sun or embed themselves on other moons or planets as meteors themselves. But the majority of ejected debris returns back to Earth within the hour. These glass-like chunks, called tektites—some as large as school buses, but most the size of marbles—pelt the earth at speeds ranging from 100 to 200 mph in lethal quantities. Regardless of where you are on Earth, you’ll need to find protection from this fiery hailstorm.

    Bardeen suggests a cave.
    There’s a number of caves & mines i’d have in mind to hunker down in around these parts, but would I really want to live in the aftermath of it all?

    1. Josef K

      “It will appear as stationary and as twinkly as all the others. But look again a few hours later and you might think this new star seems a little brighter. Look again the next night and it will be the brightest star in the sky. Then it will outshine the planets. Then the moon. Then the sun.”

      I don’t have a wired subscription, so didn’t have access to the article. And I’m not an astronomer, merely a buff, but to the best of my understanding, this section is misleading.

      Unless I’m mistaken, it depends a huge amount on the albedo of the rock, and the relative positions of the sun, rock, and earth. If it’s approaching from the direction of the sun, it’s not going to get bright at all until it enters the earth’s atmosphere and heats up a lot very quickly, which won’t provide much time to gaze in wonder at its increasing brightness.

      Even if it comes from opposition to Sol, it’s not going to get brighter than the full moon until it’s as large in the sky as the full moon, assuming it’s made of bright-enough stuff, which again would be brief–if it’s a mile across, a big one, that will happen about 100 miles out. Again, one won’t be gazing in wonder as it brightens, or if so not for more than a second or two.

      From any direction, it’ll definitely brighten up then, but not get brighter than the sun until impact unless it explodes in the atmosphere like the one a few years ago in Russia. On the, ahem, bright side, it’ll be over quick. I wonder if the Wired writer is basing this off a Simpsons episode.

      And maybe I should have used the conditional…..

  26. Telee

    This is in reference to Senator Warren’s proposing to lower the Medicare age to 55. One fact that few seem to be aware of or take seriously is that 40% of the people eligible for Medicare are now on Medicare Advantage plans which are administered by private insurers. Under these plans with their teaser rates and massive advertising ( which deceptively lead people to assume they are government plans) older people are subjected to the same excesses that were eliminated for private insurance under the ACA. The weaknesses of the plans reveal themselves when illness presents. Procedures and drugs can be denied and the patient is hit with high out of pocket expenditures. At that time patients often want to go back to traditional Medicare but can’t pick up the necessary medigap insurances because of preexisting conditions. Politicians of both parties have been making policies to help persuade people to give up Medicare for private Medicare Advantage plans and subsidize the private insurers out of Medicare funds given for each person that chooses Medicare Advantage thus subsidizing the destruction of tradition Medicare. The insurance companies now have a new market of 60 million people.
    While progressives are working for Medicare for All what they may get instead is private Medicare Advantage for all!
    Meanwhile this important issue is not covered by the corporate press and it seems that this radical change is happening under the radar. We are in the process of losing governmental healthcare and the only option will be private insurance. All being done through subterfuge.

    1. lovevt

      Amen Telee, Medicare Advantage does not provide “accurate information about providers. MA insurance companies have a very poor track record when it comes to accuracy of information about their network providers. Although required to provide accurate information, a recent audit disclosed that nearly half of MA provider location directories contained at least one mistake, including such items as practice location, telephone number and whether or not the provider was taking new patients.” says Raymond H. Feierabend, MD, on Wendell Potter’s website

  27. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Meanwhile, the occupation of Afghanistan became an end in itself, with war profiteering turning into a roaring business with money, women, drug trafficking, foreign bank accounts, contractors, all thrown into it, spawning mind-boggling corruption and venality and creating a dysfunctional Afghan state.”–[Obituary for America’s war in Afghanistan]

    More to the point, can the current global economic model, or even individual national economies function without corruption? Noting that, corruption and money laundering appear to be steady state economic constituents, nationally, globally, and historically. For example,

    1. “These leaders attributed the fall of South Vietnam to a series of linked causes, the most fundamental of which was, in their view, “pervasive corruption, which led to the rise of incompetent leaders, destroyed army morale, and created a vast gulf of social injustice and popular antipathy.” They considered corruption the “fundamental ill” within South Vietnam’s body politic, manifesting itself in four ways: racketeering; bribery; buying and selling important positions and appointments; and pocketing the pay of “ghost soldiers,” whose names were carried on the duty roster but were either nonexistent or who paid their commanders to be released from duty.”

    2. “How the US became the center of global kleptocracy”

    3. Corruption is also embedded, top down, in the global factory of choice that serves the 1st world need for unlimited, low cost consumerism. What does that say about the moral debasement of the current economic model? As 1st world consumption maintains, supports, and feeds that same corruption feedback loop.

    “The fact that most party officials pretend to be role models in public and extort bribes in secret has made the CCP the party of hypocrites. But the hypocrisy does not stop at the party, it infects the whole society; the discrepancy between the CCP’s moral high ground and the excessive greed and immoral behavior of the exposed party officials has forced the Chinese people to be hypocritical as well.”

  28. The Rev Kev

    “The Nation’s Corn Belt Has Lost a Third of Its Topsoil”

    Between reckless farming practices, climate change and the shifting of the 100th meridian to the east, I could very easily see a new desert region arising in what is now the present bread basket of North America. Welcome to Dust Bowl 2.0 but will this time Washington do anything to reverse the damage like they did back in the 30s?

  29. The Rev Kev

    The stupidity – it burns!

    “Salisbury poisoning agents ‘linked to Czech blast'”

    And that blast was not recent but way back in 2014 so how come the Czechs never mentioned it 2 years ago when those two Russian guys were publicized near and far?

    1. flora

      This revival of ‘russia bad’, especially after the recent failure of high-level US-China talks in Alaska – wherein US Sec.of State Antony Blinken insulted China’s delegates to no good purpose – seems like a ‘Look over there’ tactic.

      B is adding TPP proponent Jayme White as a deputy US Trade Representative (USTR).

      From Matt Stoller:

      This is very bad news on the trade front. Jayme White is a huge big tech ally and was a strong supporter of the TPP.

      Maybe nothing, maybe something.

      1. tegnost

        Lots of pro tpp comments at the top there…
        “Replying to
        lowering trade barriers and helping pacific economies stay autonomous from china is good actually.”
        If i were a twitterer I would respond that tpp is designed to prevent pacific economies from engaging china, and helping wall street harvest their resources. Once you’re in you can’t get out.

  30. tegnost

    I’d like to put out a plug for radio theater.
    Starts 8pm pacific so in 7 mins from now
    The first show sat. is escape, followed by some other tale, lights out, gunsmoke, six shooter… these are the shows that led to tv shows, and they’re not actually about shooting people
    Really great, recommended to anyone looking for a distraction…
    8pm tomorrow night too,
    suspense is the first show sundays

  31. a fax machine

    Shocking (not really) news: “Bitcoin sold off sharply in the past hour on rumors of the US Treasury charging several financial institutions for money laundering using cryptocurrency. This news has yet to be confirmed but sent the BTC price tumbling from around $60,000 toward $51,500, before bouncing.”

    Along the chain I hear: Uncle Sam waited for the tax season for a reason: making an example to people if they do not report cypto gains on their taxes. Also note that this was triggered when several whales (early BTC adopters/horders) cashed out, and it is rumored (but not confirmed) that it was the gov’t that cashed the assets.

    Anyway, there’s a much larger and more violent crash happening with alt-coins as a result of this which is where the real scamming and fraudulent activity is nowadays. Easier to make a fake altcoin and wash money through it, pumping volume and scamming money from marks who are too stupid to know what they’re buying. This has related to a controversy around exit and gas fees: in order to cash out of cypto you need to pay a computer to preform the transaction. Sometimes the fees can be extremely high due to high demand – a bank run when everyone in the system wants to cash out at once. This has already caused a lot of pain with the current (and relatively meager) drop especially as miners withdraw resources to other coins (a situation resulting from the worldwide computer chip shortage). In many cases, as marks are now discovering, the exit fee can be higher than the USD value of their entire stake.

    oh, and these are the same people who put all their money on GME as soon as they are able to cash their crypto money. I’ve already had some dumb conversations with people who, only now, are asking how to buy stock that isn’t GME because they don’t know how to do it in the app of their choice (“what do you mean the government requires me to have $25k to day trade? What is a stock certificate? where is the Tesla stock? etc).

    1. a fax machine

      small update (apologies)

      Forgot to add: the Xinjiang power blackout/shutoffs are affecting this as a sizable part of the BTC network is located there, which means there’s a shorter supply of BTC mining than normal. Personally I don’t think this is killing BTC but it prevents whales from pumping the price using wash sales. However, it IS having a ripple affect on alt-coins, many of whom only have exchanges in China that are dependent on server farms in that region. Some links to pontificate:

      As it turns out, the real-life supply of fossil fuels, electrical energy, and the workers they are dependent on can influence digital markets.

  32. VietnamVet

    Western spooks and military contractors will remain in Kabul after 9/11/2021.

    With a privatized military supporting the vassal government, it may last a year or so. But, a source of money is needed. Mercenaries fight only for cash. Taliban fight for God. There may be a trillion dollars of lithium there but Elon Musk would have to spend about that amount to keep the roads open and facilities secure. If there is a market, someone may find a way to mine and transport the minerals, most likely, either the Pashtuns coordinated by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or the resurrected Northern Alliance supported by India depending on what is easiest, cheapest, and if another South Asia war is avoided. China will play the Great Game too but with its ongoing Han settler colonization of neighboring regions of the Hindu Kush it may be difficult for the Chinese not to repeat previous Empires’ mistakes. The Greeks tried to settle there before in 330 BC.

    Like South Vietnam, with the US combat troops gone, Congressional funding for continuing the war will end. The Afghans are on their own.

    1. David

      These days (and for a good decade now) the Taliban fight either for money (they pay better than the Afghan military) or because they come from tribal groups which have made alliances with the Taliban leadership. (Yes, there are still true believers but today’s Taliban are not like their fathers’ generation). They are cheap to run but not that cheap, and get quite a lot of their money from taxing the drug trade. Unlike the Afghan security forces though, whose running costs exceed the national budget, they will probably be able to keep going.

      So long as the West retained sizeable forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban couldn’t take Kabul, but my feeling is that they could probably have taken it with a determined effort any time over the last couple of years. (Air power is no good in that sort of fighting). But they don’t need to, they can just wait, and it will fall into their hands.

      I suspect that we’re about to see a return to the 1990s – Civil War 2.0 – by analogy with the situation after the Soviets left. The Taliban is far from united, and there are forces (like those of Dostum) that never acknowledged the Taliban government anyway. Which is to say that the situation will get worse, not better, and any residual western forces will have a very limited effect on the outcome.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I assume the calculation in Washington is that the collapse will be far enough into the future that they can say ‘its not our fault’. I would imagine their sole policy aim these days is to avoid a Saigon embassy airlift photograph hitting the front pages before the next POTUS election.

        My limited understanding of the Taliban these days is that its as much a name of convenience for any anti-government force (including straight up gangsters) as it is an organisation with a coherent leadership and ideology. This makes it almost impossible to negotiate with. The only question is whether its hive mind decides its better for everyone to keep the current situation – very profitable for some – going, or whether Kabul is more of an annoyance than a source of support/cash.

        1. David

          I’d agree with that. We’re not talking VC/NVA here, and I suspect that the “fall” of Kabul will be quite a long time in coming, because the different groups will be too busy fighting each other, notably for control of the heroin trade. For what it’s worth, Kabul is now much more a fortified city than Saigon ever was, and I think the West will be able to get its personnel out through Bagram without much trouble.

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