Links 5/29/2021

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The ‘Talking’ Dog of TikTok New York Times

Designers Create Spiky “Pet Body Armor” to Protect Tiny Dogs From Animal Attacks MyModernMet (David L)

Over one hundred smuggled wild monkeys confiscated in Thailand before reportedly being delivered to neighboring countries as a food delicacy Pattya News (furzy)

‘Forever chemicals’ found in home fertilizer made from sewage sludge Guardian (resilc)

World’s First Invisible Sculpture Sells for a Whopping $18,000 Oddity Central (David L). So people are now loud and proud about being a mark?

Improvised Design from a Prison Cell: Illustrated “Prisoners’ Inventions” Book Core77 (resilc)

Sunlight-activated spray could protect crops and mitigate food shortages Academic Times (Chuck L)

Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds Quanta (Dr. Kevin). Godzilla!

The guitar industry’s hidden environmental problem — and the people trying to fix it Cosmos Magazine (David L)

Scientific image sleuth faces legal action for criticizing research papers Nature (Dr. Kevin)

How peculiar it is London Review of Books (Anthony L). Edward Gorey.



New Evidence Shows Fauci May Have Been Created In Chinese Lab The Onion

Vietnam detects hybrid of Indian and UK Covid-19 variant Business Times (vlade)

We said in comments that the “OMG furin cleavage smoking gun” thesis had been in retreat. Lambert found an example as to why. Please read the entire thread:

Notice the date on the linked doc below. Notice the lack of follow-on from back then despite it offering an extremely parsimonious and plausible argument (bat bodily fluids are hazmat-suit-requiring level nasty, lab collected those, its waste disposal very near wet market. This means no need to impute gain of function or other manipulation). But the negatives are that there are cases that predate the live market outbreak, both in China and even in Italy. So the live market isn’t where SARS-Cov-2 first got out and about. And no one else has asserted that the lab was dumping biohazards in central Wuhan, which seems cray cray even by China’s lax hygiene standards.

Could a distaste for broccoli indicate greater resistance to COVID-19? National Geographic (Dr. Kevin) Dunno. I recall reading research that if you eat any food 10x, you will develop a taste for it.


Average age of newly infected Britons drops to just 29 boosting hopes vaccines ARE protecting most vulnerable from surging Indian variant and 20% jump in daily cases won’t derail Freedom Day Daily Mail


Taiwan Reports Record Covid Deaths With Cases Still Elevated Bloomberg


Unvaccinated people made to pay $999.99 for Florida concert, while vaccinated pay $18 RT (Kevin W). All this will do is encourage more forgeries of the vaccination cards, which were never designed to be evidence but is the only sort-of official record.

Footage shows US flight attendant being attacked by passenger BBC


Boxed in: How a single Pfizer decision complicated the Covid vaccine rollout while boosting profits STAT


High in the Himalayas, China is planning to build the mother of all mega dams ABC Australia (Chuck L)

China Is Paying Less Than 8 Percent of Tariff Costs. Americans Are Paying the Rest. Reason (Chuck L)


Top Swiss MP tells EU ‘We’re not your milk cow’ as Bern ditches framework agreement talks with Brussels after seven long years RT. Kevin W: “Lousy title but some interesting details on this failed deal.”

How France is testing free public transport BBC (Dr. Kevin)

Swiss reject framework agreement deal with EU SwissInfo (Micael T)

Colombia deploys military in Cali after protests leave several dead DW

New Cold War

US Imported Oil Twice From Iran in Last Two Quarters Despite Sanctions, EIA Data Shows Sputnik (Kevin W)

Biden actually wants to engage Russia and China Asia Times. Wanting and acting accordingly are two different things.



AP Interview: NATO Chief Says Afghan Forces Can Cope Alone Associated Press. Resilc: “Trump is no longer the king of all liars.”

Hamas Wins by Losing in Gaza Scott Ritter (Chuck L)

Support for Israel among young US evangelical Christians drops sharply — survey Times of Israel (resilc). Wow. I had always assumed that Israel’s increased aggressiveness was due to the recognition that it is destined to see support in the US fall, and thus it needs to secure its position as much as possible now. Younger Jews on the whole re far less committed to Israel than older Jews. But the fall in loyalty among young evangelicals has to be a very unpleasant surprise.

CalPERS, CalSTRS Turkish Divestment Bill Passes Senate 36-0 California Globe (Jospeh R)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

We long said this had to be true:

Tesla Cars Will Now Spy on You to Make Sure You Don’t Autopilot Yourself Into a PR Disaster Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Australia Is A Giant US Military Base With Kangaroos: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W). Not fair! It also has phenomenal beaches, great and inexpensive theater (which is why it punches above its weight in producing actors), nice weather save the 2-4 weeks when it is stinking hot (in Sydney, Melbourne is cooler and Brisbane hotter), lovely wine and many many nice restaurants. But many good snippets on Israel-Palestine.

A People’s Guide to the War Industry -2: Profits & Deception Consortiumnews (furzy)


Report: Prosecutors May Use a Mafia Law Against Donald Trump that Comes With Up To 25 Years in Prison Vanity Fair. Resilc: “Show me a charge and conviction first.”


White House Budget Shows Focus on Wealth Redistribution, Not Growth Bloomberg. Wowsers, blatant propaganda. Lots of evidence in the many studies on secular stagnation that high levels of inequality hurt growth.

In a paradox worthy of Kafka … Biden’s Fossil Fuel Moves Clash With Pledges on Climate Change New York Times (Dr. Kevin)

Senate meltdown reveals deepening partisan divide The Hill

Arizona ‘refurbishes’ its gas chamber to prepare for executions, documents reveal Guardian

NRA Wins Permitless Carry for Handguns in Texas Rolling Stone (furzy)

Dianne Morales and the Implosion of the Left in NYC’s Mayoral Race New York Magazine

Black Injustice Tipping Point

New Details Emerge Regarding Tulsa Race Massacre Remembrance Main Event Cancelation Newson6

Deep-Rooted Racism, Discrimination Permeate U.S. Military Bloomberg (Robert M)

What is sovereignty? A conversation about American colonialism Guardian (resilc)

Canada: remains of 215 children found at Indigenous residential school site Guardian (Kevin W)

‘Black Wednesday’ for big oil as courtrooms and boardrooms turn on industry Guardian (David L)

If You’re Reading This, You’re Not Welcome on the Elizabeth Holmes Jury Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Rebel AI group raises record cash after machine learning schism Financial Times (David L). Title not obvious. Subhead: “Researchers split from Musk-funded outfit aiming to stop superintelligent computers from running amok.”

Why Apple and Google’s Virus Alert Apps Had Limited Success New York Times

Cops Raid ‘Cannabis Farm,’ Find Bitcoin Mine Instead Vice (resilc)

‘Superman’ Forced to Surrender Crypto in ATM Laundering Bust Bloomberg

Class Warfare

In a Post-Covid World, Let’s Pay Teachers Six Figures New York Times (David L). We have long advocated for higher teacher compensation. Studies have found that the relative pay of teachers is strongly correlated with academic performance of students, as measured in international tests. But this is going to be an impossible sell if unions continue to defend really sub-par teachers. At a minimum, they would need to go on a much lower pay track. The general problem with unions today (this is glaringly true of cops) is that the member solidarity is taken so far that it is impossible to remove members who are so unsuited for the job that they discredit their fellow members.

Amazon Wants to Eat Health Care Next New Republic

Obama Labor Secretary Joins Anti-Union Law Firm Daily Poster. Wonderfully clarifying, as Lambert is wont to say.

Antidote du jour. Bob H maintains this dog is herding the chickens, rather than planning his next lunch.

And a bonus. mgl: “Our friends’ Maine Coon, Millicent (Mills).” Moi: Um, that cat knows it’s big enough to intimidate.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. John Siman

    “[T]here is an innate, egalitarian value in providing transport without passenger fares,” we read in the BBC article “How France is Testing Free Public Transport.” “‘It is a great equaliser,’ says Michel Van Hulten, … one of the earliest proponents of free public transport in Europe. ‘Why do all of us pay for common needs like urban parks, firefighters, playgrounds for the kids, traffic signs, the cleaning of the streets, and not for public transport?’”

    Hooray for Van Hulten, but I recommend that we broaden his argument by taking a big step back in economic history and recalling that Veblen’s contemporary Simon Patten (1852-1922) was the earliest proponent of public transport! For it was Patten who, bringing Adam Smith’s work into the industrial age — into, that is, this unprecedented age of abundance — first made the argument that excellent public infrastructure was, after land, labor, and capital, now the *fourth* factor of production.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Park City Utah had a free bus going up and down main street, heavily used, and it probably still does. Same for Denali National Park, where no one is allowed to drive in without a good reason.

      On the other hand Falls Church, VA, tried to create interest in riding a bus from the residential streets to the metro station. It was almost free (25 cents) but almost nobody used it. Having to pay was not the problem, it would have failed even if it was free.

    2. Irrational

      We’ve had free public transport in mighty Luxembourg for over a year now. At the same time, the network has been re-organized to the point of uselessness for anyone outside of the capital.
      Basically everyone has gone from having a direct connection to being forced to change at key nodes, adding 10-20 minutes to the journey depending on whether your bus shows up or not. Oh, and the buses run on an hourly or two-hourly schedule after 18:00.
      I used to take the bus to and from work every day, but I cannot deal with the waste of time, hanging around a particularly unpleasant dungeon of a bus station and not being able to shop/exercise/meet friends after work (when we return to something resembling normal).
      So: I would much rather pay and have the old system back if that’s possible.
      Instead I will probably start driving the couple of days a week I will have to go to the office in future.
      A lose-lose for me and for climate change! But, hey, it’s free!

    3. Taurus

      I live in a place in the US which is not Park City but nevertheless has free bus service. it is run by a non-profit and most of the budget is covered by the municipalities in the areas. A dozen years ago I was on the planning board of one of the little towns that fund the bus operation. The nonprofit came to us with an ask for a substantial increase. After a back-and-forth we asked them to present an estimate of what would happen if they put a token fare – say a quarter. It turns out that to get a quarter, you have to charge almost $1.50 in fare. The first five quarters go to cover the expenses of collecting the sixth quarter . The bus is still free :)

  2. The Rev Kev

    “New Evidence Shows Fauci May Have Been Created In Chinese Lab”

    Update: “Wuhan Institute of Virology sues the owners of The Onion for slander and for bringing the Institute into extreme disrepute.”

    And as for that bonus image of that Maine Coon-

    ‘Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil;
    for I am the biggest, meanest Maine Coon in the whole damn valley.’

      1. Alfred

        The Onion has its work cut out for it these days. Glad they are up to the challenge.

      1. Alfred

        LOL–I forgot about this

        Columbo is my island of my preferred kind of sanity–I own the boxed set.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Loved that character myself and watched all his episodes. No helicopter chases, no explosions and mass gun fights but just sheer wit and observation.

          1. Alfred

            A lot of social commentary buried in those scripts too. I was in high school in that era when that series began, and I cringe and laugh a lot. Still valid today.

      2. fresno dan

        The rev Kev
        May 29, 2021 at 7:42 am
        I am keeping that forever
        I’m not saying it is true for ALL analysis, maybe just 99.999997%

  3. Verifyfirst

    I don’t know how the police or teacher employment arbitration systems are set up–in the industries I do know, arbitrators are selected jointly by the parties. The cases I saw most often came down to management hiring a bad employee, and not paying attention during their probationary period (when they could be terminated without cause or recourse).

    As we have been reading lately, bad cops seem to easily get hired into new jobs–that is on the employer.

    And I saw a lot of cases where management just did a poor job of proving their case in arbitration–documenting things is hard, apparently…… Unions are required by law to provide full due process to every employee they represent–whether or not that person belongs to the union or pays dues (a union that fails to do so can be sued by that employee– a not easy thing for an employee to do, but a constant threat in the union’s mind).

    Not to defend the apparently fascist police unions that exist in some places, but I would argue that is a problem of culture and power, rather than the jointly negotiated structure of the discipline procedure.

    It’s a bit too easy to say “unions need to stop protecting bad apples”–it is actually management’s job to, you know, manage…….

    1. Tom Stone

      Verityfirst, in many US Jurisdictions Cops are a separate caste, they have different legal rights than “Civilians”.
      Take a look at the various iterations of the “LEO Bill of Rights”.
      You are comparing Apples to Oranges.

    2. Alfred

      As “a problem of culture and power”, are you saying that culture and power select for LEOs who repress a certain race and class? Is it kind of an unwritten policy, LEOs are part of a system that keeps certain people from becoming too confident and credible? Then it is the management that is terrified. They are pretty firmly entrenched.

    3. Nikkikat

      I worked as a Union rep for several large Unions.AFSCME and SEIU. We did not protect bad employees. As stated above. We had a legal obligation to represent. We appeared at the hearing or arbitration. Sometimes accompanied by a Union Attorney depending on the situation. We were there to protect our contract. We were there to protect the entire bargaining unit. It had nothing to do with so called “bad apples”. This bad apple nonsense was a Management ploy; it is anti Union.
      I did not have magic tools to protect a thief or a person doing dangerous things. I was there to see that management had adhered to written policies and documentation of the employee and that their rights were not violated. Secondly, the police are not in a “union”. Police belong to associations. These are NOT Unions as they are not AFL-CIO.
      As to arbitration, they are generally a joke. The city or county would have three or four of these so called arbitrators. I was allowed to pick one. The county didn’t care which one. They knew they were on managements side.
      My experience was that most employees that turned out to be bad employees, coming in late, calling in sick etc, were usually following the rules until they passed probation. Then they would start to go back to old behaviors. We generally warned such employees that they were not be protected. The employer had every right to expect you to show and do your job, be on time etc. Comparing police association to unions in general is apples and oranges, the contracts and legal protections that police may have are not equivalent to the average factory worker.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The topic at hand was teachers. I know public school teachers personally who have, without prompting, complianed about the difficulty of getting rid of bad/lazy teachers who make the profession look bad.

    4. Sardonia

      As always, help create the change you want to see.

      If someone is breaking into your home, when you dial 911, please be sure to tell them you only want non-fascist cops to respond – even if that requires an extra 30 minutes for the dispatcher to have the records pulled of any cop that might possibly be sent.


  4. Jeff W

    World’s First Invisible Sculpture Sells for a Whopping $18,000 OddityCentral

    Well, at least the sculpture is created by the artist—according to the article, “a void, a technically empty space that is actually occupied by the energy of the sculpture.” [my emphasis] It’s not like all those works of art over at the Museum of Non-Visible Art which are merely imagined by the artist. Buying one of those would be completely loony. (Then again, I’m not much of an art maven.)

      1. jefemt

        … and inflation is clearly NOT in check. Pet Rocks were an inexpensive novelty/ frivolity.

        $18K would get you a huge equity position in a home in Bumphuc, Flyover County , Little Appalachia–even today.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You could also send them away to camp where they would have a geologist on 24-hour call if needed. Yes, this actually happened.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Who are the marks this guy is fleecing, the “art” buyer or the cops? Perhaps a clever money laundering scheme?

      “I did NOT receive that $18K for a kilo of cocaine, occifer, I was paid for my art and I can show you the invoice!”

      1. Aumua

        This actually sounds plausible to me, that there was some exchange of real goods or services behind the transaction, which is not being mentioned for the sake of the sensational headline. Or perhaps the headline itself is the thing exchanged for it’s clickbait value. In which case it is all of us that are being fleeced.

      1. Robert Hahl

        I know EBay does not allow people to sell their souls. Can they now auction invisible art?

      2. newcatty

        The newest version of the” Invisible Man” now updated and PC. The character is now a power couple: The” Invisable Duo”. First episode of a series: Duo solves crime of world’s first invisible sculpture stolen from new “Museum of Imagined Art”. After Covid-19 pause in the Art universe, the new museum is a triumphant return to “normalcy ” and the bright future! The duo are, of course not seen on screen. We hear them, watch breathlessly as their movements are revealed by a slight breeze caused by their lightening quick movements. A theme of the show: It takes invisable detectives to solve invisable crimes. The male detective’s voice sounds like a younger “Columbo”.

      3. wilroncanada

        What if some daring thief stole the invisible art and thus became invisible?

    2. Kouros

      When I read the title of the article to my wife, who sometimes dabbles in painting to beautify the house, and has mother and sister artists selling their painting, she immediately said that that is a money laundering operation, something known to happen in the world of arts…

    3. synoia

      How was delivery proven?
      How did the buyer know his purchase was original and unique?

      1. Geo

        I’m just gonna say I bought it and show it off to everyone who visits. It fits nicely in my livingroom.

  5. Dikaios Logos

    The FCS thread by Andersen puts together the maximalist case for natural origin of that sequence. Even then, it doesn’t tell us anything conclusive about virus origins. What Andersen proposes, if you follow his actual data as to opposed to his conclusions, is that there are reasons to keep open the possibility of natural occurrence of the sequence even though his own model would make it seem a low-likelihood event.

    David Baltimore’s quote, if read closely and in its entirety, is clearly not directly in opposition to this. He properly notes that the sequence is something like a striking anomaly, but never, ever claims it is conclusive of any hypothesis. He makes an assertion that it should open us up to other possibilities, in spite of the fact almost all viruses are of natural origin.

    It seems premature to rule anything out and this is an important enough issue that doggedness and rigor be supplied as generously as is possible.

    1. Fern

      Regarding the Kristian G. Andersen Twitter comments:

      I’ve posted a number of times that Baltimore was wrong on the furin cleavage issue and that scientists on both sides of the lab leak theory agree he was wrong. That says nothing about whether the lab leak hypothesis is correct or not.

      It’s important to note that Kristian G. Andersen is the original opponent of investigating the lab leak theory. It was his early paper arguing against the lab leak theory that was instrumental in starting the media campaign that ridiculed the concept. It was big news when a coauthor on his original paper recently came out in favor of investigating the lab leak theory, and this was after these Tweets by Andersen. The interesting thing to me has been that so few scientists are now defending Andersen.

      As to Andersen’s argument against the Wuhan meat market theory — the Wuhan meat market origin theory was discounted by everyone a long time ago. I don’t know why he’s bringing it up now. It isn’t critical to the lab leak hypothesis, so he’s creating a bit of a straw man. I suspect that the most likely escape route would be a sick lab worker. They were only using biosafety level 2.

      In short, Andersen is arguing that there’s no evidence for a lab leak, but everyone agrees that there’s no hard evidence for a lab leak. The point is that there’s no hard evidence for natural evolution either. Both are still possibilities.

      1. Dikaios Logos

        Would you mind pointing me to one of your previous discussions of the Baltimore quote? In rereading the quote a few times, I struggle to see a problem. Unless he’s mistakenly referred to something utterly generic in very similar viruses, he’s just highlighting a good starting point, though he certainly doesn’t have anything close to conclusive and he was pretty clear about that.

        Alina Chan’s unicorn analogy on the furin cleavage site and it’s omission from the WIV’s discussion is perhaps the most disturbing point.

        Your previous comments on this site (I just went looking) on this issue do seem to me very high quality. I’m especially grateful for your engaging that study claiming cases in Italy in September 2019. I find it very hard to take seriously people who ascribe credibility to that study.

        1. Fern

          I couldn’t find it with a quick Google search, but I can tell you what I wrote.

          I didn’t present a technical argument; I basically just said that I have a few highly-respected scientist friends who have been active in this debate, and I asked them directly. They had examined the data that was presented to refute Baltimore, and they both agreed that Baltimore was wrong. No highly-respected biologist is going to contradict David Baltimore frivolously. Since one had vocally leaned towards lab escape and one had vocally leaned towards natural evolution, but they both agreed that Baltimore was wrong, I accepted that. I don’t think it would be possible for a non-scientist to analyze the arguments from scratch; it’s far, far too technical.

          It’s important to note that all the scientists I questioned about it believe that the lab leak hypothesis needs to be seriously explored.

          1. Dikaios Logos

            Many thanks. I’m still curious about what the inference was. I’m enough familiar with big science, big scientists, and infectious diseases that I am cautious about taking anything seriously. My understanding from reading that quote was that he saw *enough of an anomaly* that natural origin was, while by no means impossible, much less the easy fallback that most were assuming.

            Perhaps he’ll resurface and we will hear more???

            1. Fern

              I would guess that David now agrees he’s wrong on that point, or that he overstated the case. If he still thinks he’s right, we probably would have heard from him.

              It looks to me like he made a hasty, made an off-the-cuff comment. It was pointed out that there were more coronaviruses out there with similar furin cleavage sites than he seemed to be aware of.

              1. R

                See my comment below – it appears that Baltimore is rightly pointing out how rare furin cleavage sites are in SARS beta coronaviruses (just this one, in over 200) and his detractors are saying how common they are in other families of coronaviruses entirely.

                I think this objection tells us nothing – we cannot rule out a freak recombination event creating a well humanised novel sarbecovirus or a lab manipulation. I find the manipulation more likely, given the lack of any intermediate host being demonstrated or any sequences indicating wider recombination….

  6. The Rev Kev

    Working link for “Hamas Wins by Losing in Gaza” article at-

    Yeah, this is one of those cases where you can tactically win a battle but suffer a strategic defeat. It happens. I’m putting this latest war on par now with Israel’s defeat when they tried to invade and occupy Lebanon back in 2006. Still not too late for a course correction but, to mix a metaphor, Israel is rapidly running out of runway space here. As far as Trump’s efforts to normalize Israel’s relations with the Arab world, all that is toast now. And from this article, it looks like Israel was running out of defensive missiles which was why Netanyahu called it quits.

    1. Procopius

      Remember Tet 1968. The Pentagon brass gleefully announced that they had annihilated the VC and there were just a few bitter enders to be mopped up. Then think about the reaction from the public.

  7. John Emerson

    I sneer at Taiwan’s “COVID crisis”. If they want me to take their crisis seriously, they should just ignore it for a couple months like we did, and then get back to me. It might amount to something by then.

  8. Kurtismayfield

    RE: Teacher salary

    But this is going to be an impossible sell if unions continue to defend really sub-par teachers. At a minimum, they would need to go on a much lower pay track.

    First start with the non unionized people that run the schools.. the Administration. The incompetence and corruption that I have seen will make people’s heads spin. Get them out of the industry first, then you can stand on two legs and actually clean house in a school district.

    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      My plan to “save public education”:

      1) Reduce administrative staff by 50%

      2) Make maximum pay of any administrative staff 120 percent of the highest paid teacher in a district

      3) If an administrator is removed from a position by a school board, they lose their credential for a minimum of 5 years — no more failing upwards.

      I’ve seen what you’ve seen.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Hear hear!

      Clear out that bloated cohort making six figures to NOT actually teach anybody, and there would be a lot more to pay the teachers with.

      I think I mentioned the other a day a tenured high school teacher of mine who used to put on a video and take a nap during class back in the day. I had a lot of really good, well respected teachers at my public high school – I’m sure they would have cleaned house on that guy if they’d had the chance. It’s not hard to tell who isn’t pulling their weight – by the time they’re high school aged at least, even the kids can give a pretty good assessment.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      This article assumes, erroneously IMNSHO, that the goal is actually to provide a “world class” education to “public school kids.” The current union structure is certainly difficult, but it’s also a pretty convenient impediment to any further consideration of reform or “improvement.”

      I read recently, wish I could remember where, that “good” PMC jobs are getting harder to come by for the next PMC generation, hence the emphasis on “credentials” and educational pedigree ala the varsity blues scandal. The last thing ma and pa PMC need is some talented, hardscrabble genius who didn’t get his/her first Lamborghini at age 17, competing with their spoiled spawn. And I’m sure ma and pa PMC know that competition is out there.

      As long as PMC parents, maintaining their positions and desperate to protect their turf for their increasingly frivolous, entitled offspring, are making the rules, public “education” will go begging. No need to make it harder for junior and juniorette than they’re already making it for themselves.

    4. Geo

      Decades ago my mom was a teacher at a little underfunded parochial school. The principle was found to have been stealing funds and the school was going to go bankrupt. My mom got the unwanted role of taking over. She took the financial books to the teachers lounge and they spent weeks going over how to save the school. Within two years it was flourishing.

      It’s amazing what can happen when schools are run by the people who do the work and care about results.

      After those two years the higher-ups booted my mom and replaced her with another principle who transformed it into an “elite” private school for rich kids.

      1. newcatty

        Your mom is the wonderful example of a genuinely competent and dedicated teacher. The ending of the story of how she, and the other teachers worked to save the school is disheartening, but not a surprise.

        Public, private school educational institutions are a reflection of the degradation of, and greed, of many PMC who are in positions of power and authority in our schools. From the superintendents, to principals and, often lead teachers( usually with seniority) they are either self selected by “higher-ups” or are willing to sell their souls for the administrative pay. What isn’t talked about much, is the way these creatures actually think about new or vulnerable staff. They are often emotionally abused and used. Now, it’s not a big cognitive leap to realize that this selfish and elitist attitudes are how they regard students. More pay for teachers is a great idea. Lowering administrative salaries, yeah. Until, respect for educators is how we regard them in society and truly compassionate and equitable schooling for children, the usual suspects will be in charge.

      2. The Rev Kev

        ‘After those two years the higher-ups booted my mom and replaced her with another principle who transformed it into an “elite” private school for rich kids.’


  9. John Emerson

    I worked a union job for 20 years and had 3 different friends who were union reps in charge of representing workers with grievances against management. All 3 found the job depressing, because half their work consisted of defending troublemakers who don’t get along with anyone, including their coworkers, and who often are even union-haters.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I had a mate who worked at a power plant in England back in the 70s. There was this one guy, he said, that would always sleep on the job as in every day. Management went through the whole ball of wax. A verbal warning, a formal warning, a written warning, etc. but this guy could no keep his head off the nearest bench. Finally with no more options, the guy was sacked. Then the union got involved and called the whole power plant out on strike to get him reinstated. The workers were furious because they were losing wages and nobody like this guy as they had to do his work. My mate said that the day that when the workers were lined up to get wages owed and a union rep was there demanding that each of them kick in money to support this guy because he was out of work was too much so he quit the place.

      1. Nikkikat

        Unions are generally democratic institutions that require the membership to vote to call a strike. This is a difficult tactic that generally involves a severe breech of the contract. I doubt they could get members to strike because they were protecting a slacker that no one liked.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Pre-Thatcher/Blair England was really a different time. My mate said that when he rebelled at giving a part of his wages to support that slacker, the other workers were telling him that he couldn’t do that and c’mon, kick in. Look up the Winter of Discontent which helped Thatcher get in-

    2. Nikkikat

      Your friends seemed to be in the wrong profession. A union rep works for the union and is paid by the union. If they were depressed because all the employees were troublemakers. They should have tried for a management job at the company. They would have been much happier harassing the employees and making up the rules as they went along. It sounds if they were Union haters themselves.

      Sad to see this many anti union comments here. My only gripe with unions that employed me was their complete sell out to the Democratic Party and trying to collect money for politicians who never lifted a finger to help union employees.

      1. tegnost

        Sad to see this many anti union comments here.

        yeah, as I sit here in the ferry line delivering a boat from LA, surrounded by PMC on their 3 day paid weekend vacay….thanks to unions…

      2. John Emerson

        In my union the reps were not paid, though they did get excused from paying dues, about $20/mo. They did not say anything about all the worker being troublemakers. They said that HALF the workers *who brought grievances* were troublemakers. Learn to read.

        My comment was based on actual events and actual people, not knee jerk principles and ignorance.

      3. Louis

        Wanting workers to be treated fairly and bad workers held accountable are not mutually exclusive propositions.

        If you work long enough, you’re going to encounter someone who is impossible to work with, not pulling their own weight, or otherwise just the wrong person for the job.

        Wanting these people to be held accountable and, if necessary, separated from their job does not inherently make someone anti-union–you can be in favor of unions while also recognizing that there are bad employees who make life worse for everyone and should be held accountable.

    3. JTMcPhee

      In an environment where a disgruntled worker will bring a Great Equalizer semi-automatic handgun or rifle to the grievance or disciplinary proceeding and proceed to kill as many as he can before the end of the shift…

      Stupid effing humans…

      And looks Ike we mopes will see more of this, since the social conditions that spawn “running amok” just get more and more manifest:

  10. Roland Chrisjohn

    More ass-covering about Indian residential schooling in Canada. I hinted at these deaths over 25 years ago now and was interviewed about it directly for an article that appeared over a decade ago. Even the “Globe and Mail” even gave a greatly-underestimated count of child deaths and disappearances, also more than a decade ago. The government and churches have pulled out all the stops to suppress, and now to misdirect the nature, scope, and magnitude of its genocide of Native peoples. (There is no such crime as “cultural genocide” they keep admitting to, instead of genocide.) Canadians keep saying they “apologized” for this back in 2008 (they didn’t; read my work). But the bodies were dug up after the “apology.” Are we to believe that, in 2008 and before, the government and churches DIDN’T KNOW all these kids had died in their custody? Or, is it more likely that they did know, and just decide NOT TO MENTION IT AND FESS UP TO IT when they “apologized”? How “sincere” is an apology that doesn’t acknowledge the nature, scope, and magnitude of the systematic program of oppression the offender implemented?

    1. Roland Chrisjohn

      “decided NOT TO MENTION IT . . .”

      I left of the “d” in “decided.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        This is like that case in Ireland several years ago where they found up to 800 children’s bodies at a former Catholic care home. This only came about through this gutsy woman – Catherine Corless – who found death certificates for nearly 800 children who were residents at the facility but burial records for only two. You think that there would be death certificates for those that died in that Canadian residential school too?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          This story has largely been discredited. The Guardian really does love its ‘aren’t catholics the worst?’ type stories, as it can focus its dislike on poor catholics in the way its not allowed to do on religions with mostly non-white adherants. It was common practice to bury the dead in catholic institutions within the premises (my nun aunt was buried within the convent she lived in for many years). The initial stories, that somehow the bodies were shoved into a septic tank or something like that turned out to be false. As so often with these institutions, there was often poor treatment of the children and bad record keeping, but by the standards of the time, the Tuam institute was no better or worse than any others.

          Orphans generally got (relatively) good treatment by the catholic church institutions as they could be seen as the foot soldiers of the future, the really vile stuff happened to ‘lost’ boys (i.e. young criminals) in the Industrial Schools and ‘fallen women’ in the Magdalene laundries.

          1. The Rev Kev

            This is not one of those aren’t-Catholics-bad stories PK so much as bad institutions. There is this case in Ireland and now a case in Canada. When I read about it, I began to wonder about the similar institutes here in Oz that also took aborigines from their parents and sent them to specialized schools. And here it was all sort of religious institutes involved with Catholics in a minority. As far as Ireland was concerned, probably most such institutions were Catholic run because of the demographics with a few Protestant ones as well.

            1. John Zelnicker

              There seems to be a common history in colonized Anglo countries to take the indigenous children from their homes to re-educate and socialize them into the prevailing Anglo-European culture. Usually, these schools were run by religious (Christian) groups. In the US, it was the Christian missionaries who set up the first Indian Schools.

              In these schools, all of the Native American cultural markers were forbidden, including language, hair styles, and clothing. Even their names were changed to “civilize” and “Christianize” the “savages”.


              Perhaps the most fundamental conclusion that emerges from boarding school histories is the profound complexity of their historical legacy for Indian people’s lives. The diversity among boarding school students in terms of age, personality, family situation, and cultural background created a range of experiences, attitudes, and responses. Boarding schools embodied both victimization and agency for Native people and they served as sites of both cultural loss and cultural persistence. These institutions, intended to assimilate Native people into mainstream society and eradicate Native cultures, became integral components of American Indian identities and eventually fueled the drive for political and cultural self-determination in the late 20th century.[6]

              1. The Rev Kev

                Here is a small horror story for you along the same lines. Tens of thousands of children were separated from their parents during the bombing in England. Instead of re-uniting them afterwards, the kids were told that their parents had been killed in the Blitz while the parents were told the same about their children. Why would they do that? Because the Colonies in places like Canada and Australia needed more people and these children were seen as readily available. All the big charities – Barnardos, the Salvation Arm, the Catholic Church – were in on it and this story only came out not long ago-


        2. Roland Chrisjohn

          That’s when I was interviewed for the same story; the reporter was fleshing out the European side of the crime.

    2. Maritimer

      Canada is masterful at apologizing for past crimes and Trudeau a skilled hand-wringer. Here is a present day story about Canada’s ongoing wrongful activities:
      ” Canadian soldiers complained Iraqi troops they were training were war criminals
      The Canadian personnel were told by their officers the problem would be dealt with, but they were to continue with their processing of the Iraqi troops for training.”

      That is a MSM CDN newspaper by the way. Same old government coverup behaviour just a different time. These courageous and ethical soldiers risk their careers.

      Meanwhile, Canada continues to scapegoat people through its massive Covid propaganda campaign with even radio talkshow hosts giving medical advice. Woe Canada!

  11. Alfred

    “aggravated moral harassment”
    one of the charges against the “scientific image sleuth”
    Is this some French thing? I can’t find it anywhere. It’s against the law now to call people out on their BS. Judging from all the BS that has been flying around here about everything for so many years now and repeated on Twitter and in MSM ad nauseum I did not even know anyone was still vetting scientific papers.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Top Swiss MP tells EU ‘We’re not your milk cow’ as Bern ditches framework agreement talks with Brussels after seven long years RT

    This article I think gives a very unbalanced view of what happened (the writer is an enthusiastic Brexiteer and has shown in his other articles a very weak understanding of how the EU works). It makes it look like the EU will somehow suffer if Switzerland goes its own way, whereas it is really the opposite. The EU (and Germany in particular) has become increasingly impatient with what it has long seen as Switzerland free-riding on the EU, especially its banking system. I believe the decision was taken several years ago to make the Swiss decide if they wanted a sort of membership-in-all-but-name (i.e. abide by EU trade and finance rules) or to stay out and take the consequences.

    Inevitably, its politically impossible for the Swiss to accept EU rules, so it will have to make its own way now, and accept that it will be far harder to gain access to EU markets, finance and otherwise. The long term implications for the Swiss economy are not likely to be good. Increasingly, the the EU is reducing the number of tax havens EU citizens can get access to, to only those within the EU (mostly Luxembourg).

    1. Mikel

      I’m sure a lot still has to play out, but just noticing that countries that refuses “closer” relations to EU regulators gets tagged as not only “will suffer” but also, subtly and not so subtly, as deserving to suffer.

      Even the article you are referring to starts out with: “Switzerland shocked Brussels by walking away from a closer relationship and into an uncertain future…”

      Everybody’s future is uncertain but the EU?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Nobody was shocked by Switzerland walking away, it had been signaled for a long time.

        The EU has simply decided that Switzerlands generally very cosy deal (Switzerland has had most of the benefits of being in the EU without actually being part of it) was too generous and told them they either followed the rules or there wouldn’t be an agreement. The Swiss walked away, as expected. This gives the EU the space to start restricting Switzerlands role as a tax haven.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I liked the bit where it said ‘The government has also pledged to press the parliament to give the go-ahead for the release of Switzerland’s CHF1 billion ($1.1 billion) contribution to the EU cohesion fund – a key demand of Brussels – “as soon as possible”.’

          Sounds like a shake-down to me and they aren’t even part of the EU yet. Maybe the Swiss figured that the real demands would start after they joined up and with this a demand that they also join NATO.

  13. bob

    “Google’s own employees even comment how Apple is eating its lunch in the US market. No doubt, this only has become more so as Apple rolled out enhanced privacy features on iOS and its browser while Google’s surveillance economics continue to get more and more attention.”

    Apple will try to use being the tallest midget as a sales point. They are still very bad, only a little less awful, and working very closely with google-

    ‘Safari, the web browser that comes with every iPhone, is set up by default to route web searches through Google. For this privilege, Google reportedly paid Apple $9 billion in 2018, and as much as $12 billion this year.”

    Do a google search for “does apple sell my data?”–

    First response, up top, from apple-

    “Apple doesn’t store, sell, or use that information.”

      1. JTMcPhee

        And how many or our fellow internet users either know about this default condition that acts to their detriment, or will expend the energy and time tax to make the change, however small? Plenty of research on the tenacity of defaults in every sphere,, and of course the corporations that create the defaults rely on this tendency:

        Always blame the sucker, and preen about not being one ourselves because we are smarter than that…

      2. bob

        It takes all of 10 seconds to read the thread and realize TINA (there is no alternative).

        Changing your browser search on safari stops apple from spying on you how?

        And why does this somehow absolve apple and google of operating as a duopoly playing each other off as alternatives when they both have the same interests and are operating as one?

        Are we supposed to be impressed with your lack of knowledge of you being conned?

    1. temporal

      Safari > Preferences > Search > Search engine > pick something else.

      I prefer DuckDuckGo.

      1. fumo

        This won’t be popular but in my experience DDG is frequently an unforgivably awful search engine. I wanted so badly to like it more than Google, but the results lists time after time are too often crowded with completely irrelevant items. Google is bad enough in this respect, you now need to enter everything in quotes to have any hope of a useful list of results (which once wasn’t necessary), but DDG takes it a large step further into uselessness by simply ignoring the quotation marks and trashing up the results with pages that don’t even contain the words or phrases you’ve specifically gone to the trouble of putting within quotation marks! It is so bad I had to go back to evil Google just to get my tasks done.

        We desperately need a publicly owned non-commercial search engine that has the resources to index *everything* on the internet, past, present and future and a mandate to deliver neutral results—one that gives the exact same list for every user using the same search settings. No tracking, no “personalized” results, no mucking about.

        1. Cuibono

          Same. It fails more than half of my searches. I cant figure out why it is so bad.

      2. bob

        Its that simple! I can defeat the business model of 2 of the largest companies in the world with a click! I’m super smart!

        Don’t read the attached thread with screenshots. It’s a lot. It’s easier to take their marketing team at their word. Why would they lie?

  14. TomDority

    Sunlight-activated spray could protect crops and mitigate food shortages – Academic Times
    Interesting on the science side of the equation.
    I do have an issue with the linkage between rice crop loss due to fungus as a direct cause of food shortage or famine, as so causually put forth in the article.
    I believe most, if not all shortages of food – to date – are man made and/or are of political origion.

    1. synoia

      Sunlight-activated spray could protect crops and mitigate food shortages…

      I’d want to read its composition and review that in light of known drugs, poisons and carcinogens.

  15. Big River Bandido

    Wow, the New York Magazine article on the NYC mayoral race makes me feel like I got out of the city just in time. Highly informative — not to mention predictable — that the Wokester candidate has now been completely discredited as fraud and a Bloomberg “Democrat”. Gee, you don’t say?

    This is a feature of Wokester dogma, not a bug, and should surprise no one.

    Maybe they should have backed the white guy — you know, the one who gave AOC and Bowman *early* backing in their races, setting them up for victory.

    1. Geo

      So frustrating, isn’t it. Glad I got out of NYC too. Not that LA is much better, but that’s a different story.

      It speaks volumes that “representation” has become all about what’s on the outside and nothing to do with what’s on the inside. Very telling about our society.

      Looking forward to the 2024 progressive presidential ticket of Candice Owens and Anna Navarro.

  16. Brian (another one they call)

    Regarding the wood used in guitars; Leo Fender used basic woods when he began making guitars. He sold “Fender” to CBS in the 1970’s and walked away. Fender guitars have not created much that was new since, but they started with one of the best pedigrees. Many players think they have lost their edge.
    Leo and George Fullerton started G&L guitars in the 80’s. They continue to use the “swamp wood” today. Many of us feel they are superior to what “Fender” makes now because they continue to innovate. It is wrong to associate the old brand with the man so many years later. A lot of guitars are purchased because of the way they look rather than the way they sound.

    1. petal

      When I started looking at guitars to buy, I avoided Fender as I had heard they were not what they used to be. Ended up getting a Seagull.

      1. RMO

        petal: There’s nothing wrong with current Fender guitars in general. Custom Shop and US made ones stand up to the 50s and 60s ones as well as any current large manufacturer guitars do to their respective glory days. The low point for Fender was really in the 70s. The Japanese Fenders are really good and it’s too bad that few are currently offered in North America now. If you bought a Seagull though you were obviously looking for an acoustic guitar and Fender has never been strong in that category. They produced some innovative ones in the 60s but they never caught on and since then they’ve pretty much kept their acoustic offerings to just enough to provide an option for Fender dealers to have something to offer in that area. Seagulls are pretty good guitars overall and especially so for the price. They’re part of Godin Guitars, a Canadian company that includes Godin, Seagull, Norman, Art & Lutherie, Simon & Patrick, La Patrie and TRIC cases.

    2. Rod

      Lot to comment on in that article–I don’t play anything but I love Trees and their bounty of utility. So our travesty of misuse and casual disregard of that resource astounds me.

      7 Pellet Mills in both Carolinas and not one Mill mining the ‘stump dumps’ of Public Landfills in any partnership with Public Operators.

      Millions of BF of Green Ash now standing grey/cut and split/ or just downed and burnt throughout the Midwest without any thought of productive harvest over the last decade–just becoming burden to the Landowner( I lost the majority of my homestead woodlot to the Ash Borer–leaving some Century Trees w over 36″ diameters/75′ crowns/80′ trunks, in Stands, for me to fell for safety(both very dicey and destructive within the grove).
      State Forester–“Yea, it’s a real shame we don’t have a plan , or the resources to help. And Don’t try selling it for firewood out of county either–that’s illegal.”

      1. upstater

        My ash forest is thankfully nowhere near the tree sizes you have. But cutting corridors so I can safely still access my property (hikes, dog walks, XC) is beyond my abilities. I can cut 10″ diameter trees, but that’s about it. I can use only so much firewood. There are plenty of 18″ diameter, 60 year old trees. So I’m paying $$$ for clearing and mulching.

        The state, county and town are removing tens of thousands of ash trees at a huge cost and the wood is just dumped. 7 or 8% of all trees in NY states are ash and they’ll all be dead before biological controls are available.

        And the whole emerald ash borer thing goes back to free trade, bringing cheaper Chinese autoparts to Michigan. Privatized profits, socialized losses measured in tens of billions. Like everything.

    3. lordkoos

      Fender still makes some nice guitars IMO (I was a professional musician for decades) but the best ones are their “custom shop” models, which are basically made like the original guitars Leo Fender created. As with most manufactures, the cheaper guitars are made in Asia now.

      I once had a business buying and selling vintage acoustic guitars from the pre-WWII period, the so-called “golden era” of guitar production. In those days Brazilian rosewood was used not only for guitar backs and sides, but also for furniture, laminates, etc and I think more of it disappeared from that use than guitar manufacture. Same with Honduran mahogany, another popular choice for acoustic guitar backs and sides (and furniture). Both woods are now practically extinct. Brazilian rosewood is not only beautiful, it has a tone that is very hard to match, although Indian and Madagascar rosewood are very close, they are now also protected species. I once owned and played many fine guitars from the “golden era” but now these guitars are now so expensive that the majority of them are in the hands of wealthy collectors, speculators and rock stars who can afford them, same as with other collectibles.

      I was surprised that the article didn’t mention Adirondack “red” spruce which was the soundboard wood of choice from the invention of the steel string guitars until the late 1940s, when it was no longer used because of scarcity from over-harvesting and acid rain. Red spruce has made a comeback and is once more being used for high-end acoustic guitar tops. For use in guitar building, has the greatest stiffness and dynamic range of the spruce family.

      Examples of current prices for old acoustics, certain rare models of which have sold for over $250,000:

      1. Robert Hahl

        Guitar tone seems to depend on what kind of stings they have, and their condition, but nobody talks much about it. I was shocked how much better my Martin OO sounded when I got rid of the Martin strings it came with and used Thomastik “Plectrum”. And if you have a Dreadnaught size guitar, try D’Addario nickel bronze.

        1. lordkoos

          Yes. I favor the DR brand, very long-lasting and great sound. But great strings won’t save an inferior instrument.

  17. LilD

    Carbon fiber acoustic guitars sound great.
    Probably have bad eco footprint though…

    But everyone wants “their” tone…

    1. Alfred

      I listened to back-to-back comparisons, and IMO the carbon fiber guitar does not contribute anything, while the wood acoustic does. Harmonics, sympathetic vibrations give dimension I expect from a non-electric musical instrument, worth a little extra care.

      1. lordkoos

        I agree, I haven’t played any synthetic topped guitars that had the nuance of the better wooden acoustics.

        Another interesting source of guitar woods is salvaged timber from sunken ships at bottom of the great lakes. Once properly dried, maple from sunken timber makes fine guitar woods and banjo rims, for example.

    2. Mantid

      A smart approach to musical instrument manufacture was done with Buffet Crampon woodwind instruments. Starting in the early 90s they combined shards and scraps of Grenadalia off the shop floor with about 5% carbon fibers and adhesives. They are incredible instruments used all over by pros, especially those that travel. The combination of the “real” Grenadalia wood and the fibers make it nearly impossible to fracture yet reatain a top notch sound. Put it in an oven at 120 (F) and then the freezer (-32 F) and no fracture.

      Especially with oboes that used to “blow out”, loose their bore diameter, they can now last many more years because of the stability. I’d use one but can’t afford them. A true success story.

  18. Michael Ismoe

    The Morales campaign is such a hot, ineffective mess that it seems likely Bernie Sanders will hire the entire operation for his new presidential run in 2024. Don’t forget to send in your $27.

  19. lambert strether

    It seems like the walls are closing in on Trump. I think this time they’ve finally got him.

      1. Pat

        Wow, never saw that. A nice reminder of the Overthrow/failure cheerleading masquerading as reporting we had for the duration of the Trump administration

        That said, lambert hasn’t fallen for the numerous “this time I swear” events we have had previously. So I might watch for awhile, and not just wait for details on the failure.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I wonder if all those new york politicians will be returning all those “campaign contributions” they routinely begged him for and received over the years. You know, back when he was just another legit real estate developer makin’ loads of dough like legit real estate developers do. Fruit of the poisoned tree and all.

      Yeah, I’m not really wondering about that at all.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “A mega dam on the Great Bend of China”

    Is this wise? The Chinese would have to bring in a small army of workers as well as set up a small city to house them in. What is that place like in the winter? Does it get snowed in? Looking at that contour map, that is some real mean mountain territory that. And they would need to build a railway system as well since they will have to use massive amounts of concrete and any road system would not be able to transport that much. And any dam built would have to be near earthquake proof which will be difficult. In addition, they will have to have geologists analyze that area looking for any hidden faults. Don’t after all want to build a dam atop one. And landslides would have to be taken into consideration as well.

    This is starting to remind me of a novel I have by Richard Martin Stern called “Flood”. Set in the American SW, it centers around a dam weaken by small local earthquakes. Finally a gully-washer hits the water held back by that dam. As water is basically non-compressible, the full force is transmitted across the lake to the dam wall breaking it. As the strength of a dam lies in its unity, once one area was weakened, the whole lot gave way. When that Chinese dam is full, I would imagine a landslide hitting that full lake having the same effect. And that would not be good.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      This is in maybe the most genuinely remote place on the planet. Very few people have been near there. Even building the electricity circuits to connect with a dam would be a massive task.

      Its not clear however that it will be a classic impoundment dam – they could do a run of the river type scheme where smaller dams divert water down slope using the drop in levels to generate the power – this is the standard method in Bhutan, where they accept the higher price to mitigate the environmental damage. But this would mean the Chinese would have to co-operate with India and Bangladesh and that doesn’t look to be on the cards.

      As for the danger of a breach, it is considered high in this region as there is a history of monster landslides into the gorge containing the river. Some of the biggest dam failures in history have not been failures of the actual structure, but over wash due to upstream landslips. But this doesn’t bother the Chinese so much as the people down stream aren’t Chinese. China has regularly used control of the rivers as a method of showing the Indians who really controls the plateau – including releasing large quantities of water to wash away bridges downstream (allegedly so, but that is certainly the belief of Indian people I know).

      The scale of the works would be enormous, even by Chinese standards – in cost and difficulty it would be greater than the 5 gorges. And its very hard to see how they could transfer the power meaningfully to China. Building this would be a political statement, not an economic one, but thats nothing new for the Chinese. Its their way of saying they own the water on the plateau and everyone else will have to accept it.

    2. Aumua

      Well if anyone can do it, it is the Chinese. Certainly America is not building anything like that any more. I hardly expect that Biden’s ‘massive infrastructure’ plan or whatever is going to be unveiling any such projects soon.

      1. synoia

        The Civil engineers believe all Dams fail. The weight of water deforms the land under and around the damn dam.

  21. dave

    Guys like Larry Summers are good at being on the inside.

    If you’ve figured out how to get yourself on the inside and stay there, you can be incompetent and it won’t matter.

    Summers has Biden’s ear if he wants it. He’s on the inside.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I find it remarkable myself in that the thirty odd years that I have seen Larry’s name mentioned in solid articles, it is never in a good way. Come to think of it, Joe Biden was also the same. Funny that.

    2. griffen

      Summers had plenty of cred to spare after he succeeded Rubin as Treasury Secretary under Clinton (2nd term). Derivative deregulation. Wall street deregulation. Arguably those sins can’t all be laid at his feet, but he was an acolyte of Rubin’s.

      Layer onto that his statements as Harvard professor and his wildly bold, and decidedly wrong, call on inflation that cost a cool billion* to Harvard’s endowment. *Exact $$ escapes me at this time.

      Summers catches plenty of heck and he earned that in the past 15 to 20 years.

      1. urblintz

        Less well known is that Summers was brought into politics first in Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1982-82.


    3. synoia

      If you’ve figured out how to get yourself on the inside and stay there

      AKA: Telling the powerful want they want to hear in a way that provides no new information. Currently Dr Fouchi appears to be aiming in for world record in that medical practice. I suspect he’d take two sentences for a simple “yes.”

  22. R

    I read both Kristian Andersen tweets. They don’t amount to a refutation and barely much of a rebuttal.

    He is claiming that there are furin cleavage sites in other coronaviruses so it is not uncommon but, as a commenter points out, in the exact family of SARS-like beta coronaviruses, sarbecoviruses, there is exactly 1 in 280 instances in the database: SARS-CoV-2. Which would be consistent with an unlikely natural mutation or a trivial manipulation.

    He is also claiming that the amino acid sequence (P)RRAR is frequent in coronaviruses. Perhaps, but the underlying RNA sequence coding for those amino acids in the SARS2 furin site of CGG is much less frequent in sarbecoviruses than alternative, preferred codons. He gives the frequencies:

    SARS: 5%
    SARS2: 3%
    SARSr: 2%
    ccCoVs: 4%
    HKU9: 7%
    FCoV: 2%

    but then tries to play down the unlikelihood of three out of four *consecutive* codons being rare synonyms by claiming that, if these codons were not “natural” for the virus, we would see evolution away from them. This is pure conjecture: it is equally possible that, if they were not natural, we would see them fixed and highly conserved: remember, every innovation that is not fitter than the original dies off, so if an artificial furin cleavage site is better for infection in humans than a corresponding natural type, the artificial sequence will be conserved. There is no “reversion to nature” mechanism in the human pandemic, just “evolution to greater fitness in humans”.

    I am sure there are inadequacies in the evidence consistent with SARS2 having a lab-optimised origin but the ones that Kristian Andersen is highlighting are not convincing.

    As for the second tweet suggesting there is a lab escape explanation around waste materials, well, that should be considered too but the paper offered in evidence is very slight: ignoring the title pages, it is literally two pages including references, or three if you include the map figures.

    Again, there may be an Occam’s Razor argument here that the virus is wild type and simply escaped the laboratory but then, you would expect China to have resampled every location that Wuhan collected from in an effort to produce the natural reservoir of infection to the world’s media.

    The jury is still out on whether the original is natural or artificial and we need to start proposing what we will do differently, in each case, to minimise the risk of future pandemics.

    1. Lee

      “The jury is still out on whether the original is natural or artificial and we need to start proposing what we will do differently, in each case, to minimise the risk of future pandemics.”

      This presumes reasonableness, clarity, and integrity as yet not much in evidence. Hopefully, the signal to noise ratio will improve going forward. Ever the optimist, me.

      1. synoia

        Pessimist: Hopefully, the signal to noise ratio will improve going forward. – Pigs might fly.

        Too many people want someone to blame, typically to conceal their own ineptness.

      2. campbeln

        Plus, won’t anyone think of Big Pharma’s shareholders!?! Not to mention their political donations!!

        Something interesting has bubbled to the top of my reading recently that draws a line between the lack of study around known (and out of patent) drugs and the EUA vaccines. If a known drug were found to be effective against COVID then the Emergency Use Authorization for these adenovirus and the never past Phase 3 mRNA vaccines would have to be revoked.

        With the salivation of yearly boosters and billions more doses to produce for the first round alone… This is a business line no psychopath worth their C-Suite could EVER pass up, humanity be damned.

  23. Pat

    The whole NYC primary election is a hot mess, the mayoral section is only the tip of the iceberg. Largely because there is nothing really there for the candidates. You start looking into them and you discover that their supposed qualifications are empty or deceiving.

    There is also too much about “fighting” for this or that identity issue. Can I just say that if the most important thing about you is that you are a single mom, I have to wonder about your career choice. Not just that it demands you being to represent numerous people that don’t fall into that category, but that the job demands would constantly be at odds with parenting demands, one would have to be secondary.

    Oh sure there are a few bright spots. Shaun Donovan’s whole campaign has been about being in the Obama administration. He is tanking. I haven’t seen a poll for Comptroller yet but I am hoping Wall Street plant Michelle Caruso-Cabrera’s bald face lying about being an outsider is hitting the same wall (she qualifies as political, but anyone who raises millions for two “outsider” campaigns….)

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Improvised Design from a Prison Cell: Illustrated “Prisoners’ Inventions” Book”

    Prisoners have got tons of time on their hands and can be ingenious in how they apply it. Here is a true story so sit back and enjoy. In WW2, the Aussie army was fighting the Japanese in the jungles of the Pacific and it was vital they they knew a way of starting fires to heat their food, keep themselves warm, etc. so a small Army unit was tasked for finding a method. But no matter what chemicals from companies or universities they tried, none worked in practice. Finally, an officer with an Arts degree said ‘Let’s try a different institute.’ So they went to the prisons. A head warden said ‘Got just the man for you. We can take everything off him but he still manages to light his cigarettes in his cell. Mandrake has got nothing on him.’

    The man had spent most of his life in prison and was initially suspicious. But when they explained why his knowledge was needed, he opened up and demonstrated decades of knowledge in how to start a fires using a partially burn piece of cloth if I recall as his most common method. Pretty soon, each soldier carried one of these basic fire-starter kits and it became one of the quiet success stories of the war. The officer then noticed that people back home were also starting to use the same fire-starter technique as matches were in short supply in the war. I think that that Arts degree officer called this a matter of ‘cultural diffusion.’ I have always appreciated that story of human ingenuity from the least likely of places.

  25. timbers

    Low wages at rich companies and inflation and Neo-liberal indoctrination

    This is a follow up to my post yesterday about low wages/short staff at super rich Lowes/BJ’s:

    Again went to Lowes the morning. While waiting in checkout lane I overheard this exchange between the very nice manager I wrote about yesterday, tell an employee who apparently is mentally challenged…

    Manager: “Could you work on putting these items back on shelves?”

    Employee: “I’m working hard!” as he proceeded to do so. A few minutes later as he comes back…

    Manager: “Those items don’t go in the garden center, they belong inside. Can you place them in that bin and we can do them later?”

    Employee: “We’re a team! I’m working hard!”

    Combined with my experience yesterday, I was struck by Lowes a very rich company seemingly using every lever to hold down wages even at the expense of sales, and how well the challenged employee appeared to be at absorbing cheerful Neo-liberal corporate indoctrination training to thrive in his position.

    1. Alfred

      Work Opportunity Tax Credit. I have also worked with people whose wages were subsidized to the employer so the employer was paying much less than for a regular employee. I don’t know if this policy is in place at Lowe’s, but managers sometimes get a bonus when they “make payroll” i.e. keep employee expenses at the targeted percentage of sales. Managers would do anything to accomplish this including firing people if it looked over target at one place I worked.

      1. JTMcPhee

        When I worked at West Marine as an assistant manager, the incentive was pure negative — if you did not keep “payroll” down to the corporate-mandated level, you could be fired, and managers often were (for that and other infractions. Like not selling enough of the junk or inappropriate inventory pushed out of “distribution centers” to boost “fulfillment rates” which were, at the time, one of the metrics that “the market” was rewarding, boosting share prices that senior managers could make bank off their self-rewarded options “incentives.”

        Another mandate was to be sure most employees got less than the 35 hours a week (rolling average, hard minimum) that would qualify them for medical benefits.

        I love this tidbit on how the sales people were under the gun to make lots of upsells and cross-sells, carried over into the algorithms of the online part of the franchise:

        In 1996, West Marine’s VP Chuck Hawley and a team led by Webmaster & Catalog Systems Analyst Robert Kennedy launched It quickly became an early leader in online retailers with catalog call center innovations such as upsell and cross-sell exported into online user experiences. West Marine currently offers more than 110,000 products online and in stores.

        West Marine is now just a faded brand owned by some private equity lootery.

        1. Louis

          When I worked at West Marine as an assistant manager, the incentive was pure negative — if you did not keep “payroll” down to the corporate-mandated level, you could be fired, and managers often were (for that and other infractions. Like not selling enough of the junk or inappropriate inventory pushed out of “distribution centers” to boost “fulfillment rates” which were, at the time, one of the metrics that “the market” was rewarding, boosting share prices that senior managers could make bank off their self-rewarded options “incentives.

          You’ve just described most corporate retail–the only thing missing is rewards cards or credit card signups and the “coaching” that goes along with it.

          1. JTMcPhee

            I’d forgotten the “loyalty cards” scam — that was part of the drill too. All part of “management by intimidation” — one of the corporate types from the CA headquarters actually used that phrase to describe the regime, in a mandatory managers meeting I attended.

            Sales employees could be sacked for not pushing the “rewards” program on hapless customers. And managers had goals for closing on these add-ons — not meet the goal, head in the noose. Led to some creative accounting and reporting, of course.

            1. Hepativore

              When I worked at Menard’s before going off to college, Menard’s in 2003 had a practice where most people hired were part-time associates and would only consider making somebody part time if they were employed at the store for a certain period of time like a year or so, and had accumulated enough hours. Otherwise they would hire people part-time and expect them to work around 40+ hours a week.

              The store leader at the place was one of the most dishonest and underhanded people that I have ever had the displeasure of working for. He liked to scream at random employees over minor things at the top of his voice from time to the that you could hear several aisles over because he got some bizarre thrill out of it.

              Also, as I came to find, he had a system where he would get rid of employees that were being considered for full-time positions as I found out from my manager in Wall Coverings who quit on the spot in disgust when our store leader forced him to fire somebody like this. Basically…

              Our store leader would tell somebody’s department manager to do something that was “against company policy” like clocking in more than five minutes early at the start of your shift, leaving early, or not to come in on the day that they were scheduled etc. without prior approval. If somebody did what their department manager told them to do, our store leader would call them into the office and terminate them for “violating company policy”. If they did not do what their department manager told them to do under the store leader’s orders, they would be called into the store leader’s office and be terminated for “insubordination”.

              The reason our store leader did this was to impress the district leader and upper management by minimizing store costs in terms of keeping the rotation of replacing potential full-time workers with new part-time employees. Plus, he could give his process an air of plausible deniability by making it seem that the people that he fired this way were at fault. The problem is, that as manipulative and dishonest as this was, it was perfectly legal under the at-will employment doctrine.

  26. Lee

    I believe the antidotal dog is a type of heeler, generally used for herding large livestock such as cattle. If so, unlike breeds such as border collies, it employs heel nipping to move members of the herd in the desired direction. See Herding Behavior (Wikipedia). I’m guessing the delicacy, precision, and restraint needed to nip a chicken’s heel (do they even have heels?) without crippling the bird would require very special training by someone with way too much time on their hands.

    During the pandemic, we have had too much time on our hands. We’ve managed to train our pit bull Staffordshire Terrier to not only not kill our cats but to at least pretend that she likes them. In turn they pretend to tolerate her. So, after all is said and done, maybe that dog won’t kill and eat the chickens. I feel that this comment is further evidence that I have too much time on my hands.

    1. Nikkikat

      I had a heeler also known as a cattle dog. She would herd anyone that came into our house. She liked us all to be in the same room or area. She would follow you to the bathroom and then use her nose to poke you in the back of the leg as you walked back toward the room. She would nip at heels by grabbing the back of our shoe or our shoe laces. Herding dogs must be kept busy as they are highly intelligent.
      I also had a staffordshire terrier. Best dog ever! He was gentle with children and other animals. My cats slept in his bed with him.

      1. KB

        Ha!…I adopted a rescue dog from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
        Turns out by DNA he’s a German Shepherd/Am Staff terrier mix….in miniature form to boot!.low to the ground…so a herder and a doll..

        He has both of the qualities you describe in your two separate dogs in one!
        He follows me to the bathroom as that signals walk time and nibbles at my calves until we leave the front door.
        He’s also a lover/gentle with kids and puppies…….awe.
        Yes, I have too much time on my hands and I don’t care! Neither does he..

  27. Katniss Everdeen

    So, I’ll just park this here:

    At ease, Joe.

    President Joe Biden raised eyebrows — and a few alarms — Friday when he lavishly complimented a little girl on her appearance during remarks at a Virginia military base.

    “I love those barrettes in your hair, man,” Biden said. “I tell you what, look at her, she looks like she’s 19 years old, sitting there like a little lady with her legs crossed.”

    The girl in question, who appeared to be elementary school age, had joined her parents and two older brothers on the podium while her mother introduced the president at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia.


    “Um, wut,” tweeted RealClearPolitics co-founder Tom Bevan, while Ricochet editor-in-chief Jon Gabriel chimed in, “dude has issues.”

    Serious, disgusting “issues.”

    1. Screwball

      It seems to have flown under the radar in the media other than the Post.

      I thought it was pretty creepy myself (I’m a guy), but I’ve always thought Joe’s creepiness was always an issue, contrary to many others, it seems. So maybe it’s just me.

      If I were that girls father, and I do have a daughter, I’m not sure what I would have done if I were sitting there.

      1. Maritimer

        A commenter here a while back called Joe: “The Delaware Creeper.” Seems like at least a four year winner.

      2. petal

        It was in the DM this morning near top of page. So gross. Just disgusting. I don’t know how people can let their little girls or any under 18 for that matter, be in the vicinity. Maritimer, “Delaware Creeper” is spot on.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if Google has disappeared that image of old Joe grabbing that women by the boobs from behind at an official event yet? Meanwhile ‘Creepy Uncle Joe’ has not changed in the slightest.

  28. Michael McK

    Wow, the SB457 ‘no CalPERS/STERS investments in Turkey’ bill is a can of worms. According to the article it just allows member agencies to specify that their employee’s retirement funds are in special pools without investments that benefit Turkey, so as to not to “relive trauma”.
    I hate to feel bad for CalPERS but it seems like a bunch more work to maintain extra pools of money. . Furthermore it does not ban those traumatic Turkish investments in general, just makes a way for local boards in heavily Armenian areas to throw a tiny id-pol bone to their voters.
    If the un-turkified funds fare worse than the others do those who opted for them get less of a pension?
    Are investments in US weapon makers who supply the Turkish army OK?
    Are we creating options to avoid German investments to prevent the reliving of Jewish trauma, or limiting Israeli investments to comfort Palestinians?
    I am all for using public pension fund investments wisely and morally to build a livable future but the goal needs to be providing universal benefits.

  29. Michael Ismoe

    Looks like Hunter Biden was in London the other day. Don’t you hate it when no one can break a thousand pound note?

    London’s Metropolitan Police seized £5 million ($7 million) in cash — the largest amount ever taken by the capital’s police force — after police noticed a man struggling to carry bags stashed full of money.

    Fortunately, he had everything backed up on his computer.

  30. tongorad

    As a teacher in a non-union state I can only dream of solidarity – sounds like a nice problem to have.
    Instead of dreaming of new carrots and sticks to hit teachers with – what if the emphasis was on improving the lives and communities of students and their parents? Healthcare – secure jobs – political agency, etc?

    In my life, I have worked in a number of settings, including a career in corporate america/high tech, and IME teaching is not the protected cocoon for the supposedly mediocre and incompetent as it is so often portrayed in the establishment and ersatz progressive media. Why the ubiquitous and incessant animus towards teachers in this country?

    1. Rod

      Summers Off was usually the first trope I heard
      out the mouth of the like—now witnessing their own kids/grandkids floundering in ignorance and failure under their personal guidance.
      Sad tragedy way way way beyond any comeuppance…

  31. tommystrange

    I can’t tell NC staff, and commentators how damn refreshing this site always is, lacking the tired Russia gate crap, ‘assadist’ apologist labeling crap….and also not falling for any of that ‘secret’ brown red alliance crap. Certainly a ‘crap’ free site.

  32. a. wells

    Sorry, I know that it would be popular to give teachers 100K and more, but what for? It is a fairly low skilled job, currently. Just giving them more money will not change that. And as far as the sudies correlating better pay with better teachers go – yes, there is certain minimum that you can’t go under to get any kind quality, but if you want better teachers, … Actually, you need to change the USA. Better education of teachers and more stringent standards in graduating and hiring them. Those ridiculous school districts might have been a good idea in the wild west era – but hey, it is the government – they have power to tax, they have their own police force, their administrators are often paid seven figures – they will not go away. Public unions set their members agains the owners (public) and are only getting stronger. I wonder if those studies studied any of those factors. Could you change them? surely not remove them.

    1. Pelham

      I might agree with much of what you say but for the fact that a low six-figure salary is basically what it takes to have a living wage these days. USA Today about a decade ago calculated that a family of four would need $130,000 a year to live a very minimal middle-class life.

      That figure is no doubt higher today. One could argue that both adults in a household should be working to bring in that amount, but that would incur considerably greater expense. And, IMHO, none of us should be settling for the notion that a family should need to have both adults in the workforce just to get by. That wasn’t the case decades ago, and productivity is much higher today than it was then. A single job at maybe 20 hours a week should be sufficient today.

      So, low six-figures is entirely reasonable for even a low-skill job — although in a teacher’s case I question that assertion since the job generally requires a master’s degree.

      1. a. wells

        I look at the tax code and IRS AGI data and can’t help but question that definition of “very minimal middle-class”. As far as that master’s degree is concerned – what “was our children learning” to get it? A. – Not Grammar, B – Not Math, C – Neither.

    2. T. Tomas

      I am always interested to hear from those who think teaching is a low-skill job and that teachers are easily replaced.
      I encourage all of you to at least substitute teach in your local public school. Give back to your community! If you are an adult with some college and no criminal record, the district will glad for the help!

      Meet those great kids, some of whom are far below grade-level in their academic growth. Imagine if your job was to catch those kids up while being entertaining enough to keep their attention. Imagine having to motivate a group of 30-40+ kids each day to try.

      All you have to do is just make them try, despite their homelessness or language issues or parents getting divorced or parents who die or parents who are on drugs. Just make them try, despite the fact that any intelligent American can easily see that the current system is not a meritocracy and that the only changes allowed are those that help the moneyed and powerful.

  33. heresy101

    We have had the coyote-vest for our small Bichon – Pebbles – for about six months now. He looks somewhat like the second picture of the white dog except that he is happy. He has his picture taken all the time by people interested in his vest. The trails in the East Bay Hills have quite a number of coyotes, so the vest is necessary for the little guy. It is highly recommended for your dog, or cat, if there are coyotes in your area. We wish it was produced a couple of years ago to protect our cat – Rocky – who the coyotes got.

  34. Lambert Strether

    It seems to me that if the theory is that the virus was spread by bats in wet markets, we should know a bit more about whether bats really are sold there. From James Palmer, “Don’t Blame Bat Soup for the Coronavirus“:

    As news of the novel coronavirus spread online, one video became emblematic of its claimed origin: It showed a young Chinese woman, supposedly in Wuhan, biting into a virtually whole bat as she held the creature up with chopsticks. Media outlets from the Daily Mail to RT promoted the video, as did a number of prominent extremist bloggers such as Paul Joseph Watson. Thousands of Twitter users blamed supposedly “dirty” Chinese eating habits—in particular the consumption of wildlife—for the outbreak, said to have begun at a so-called wet market that sold animals in Wuhan, China.

    There was just one problem. The video wasn’t set in Wuhan at all, where bat isn’t a delicacy. It wasn’t even from China. Instead it showed Wang Mengyun, the host of an online travel show, eating a dish in Palau, a Pacific island nation. Sampling the bat was simply an addition to the well-trodden cannon of adventurism and enthusiasm for unusual foods that numerous American chefs and travel hosts have shown in the past.

    And from France24 (snails, not bats, ok, ok), debunks a ton of influencer videos. And then:

    [O]ur team reached out to several specialists in Chinese culinary traditions, who all said that people in China don’t tend to eat bat meat.

    Guansheng Ma is the director of Nutrition and Gastronomy at the University of Beijing.

    According to our research, eating bat meat is more than rare in China. It’s actually unacceptable in Chinese culture.

    Our Observer Lu Haitao grew up in Wuhan but now lives in Beijing. He agreed.

    I have never seen bat meat for sale in markets or restaurants in Wuhan or elsewhere in China. I’ve also never heard anyone talk about eating it. For me, eating bat meat is both inconceivable and disgusting.

    William Chan Tat Chuen, an expert in Chinese cuisine, is the author of a book about exchanges between French and Chinese culinary traditions. He agreed with our other Observers, though he did say that bat excremement is occasionally used in Chinese medicine:

    Chinese medicine uses bat excrement to improve patients’ vision and to treat dysentery, hemorrhages and diarrhea. It is often mixed into rice porridge or made into a kind of tea. However, I don’t know anyone who has actually used this treatment. Similarly, none of my Chinese friends or family eat bat meat. Chinese medicine doesn’t say anything about eating it.

    That said, people in China have a different vision of bats than people in Europe. In China, bats represent happiness and people aren’t disgusted by them.

    Based on this cursory survey, it seems unlikely to me that bats were, in fact, sold at all in the Wuhan market, simply because there was no demand for them, whether for home cooking or in restaurants. Evidence that would be nice to have: (1) recipes for cooking bats (from Sinologists, not random web sources), or (2) photographs of menus from Wuhan with bat dishes sold, or (3) restaurant reviews that mention bat dishes, or (4) Chinese language sources, pre-Covid, on how to capture and cook bats. Since evidence like this should be easy to find, even given Chinese censorship, I think we can presume there is no such evidence (even if you assume the quotes above are politicized). Of course, I’d welcome further evidence from readers and especially China hands.

    It does seem to me that the Wuhan Market is a red herring. That doesn’t mean that the Wuhan Lab is in the clear, though.

  35. campbeln

    The Wet Market source was debunked long ago as the initial outbreak could only source around half from there. Since then earlier cases have been reconized. Even official Chinese sources and the Wuhan Institute of Virology changed their tune in May 2020:

    Now, experts at the WIV have said publicly that the theory was wrong, and that the virus must have originated elsewhere, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

    The ‘patient zero’ – the first person to actually contract COVID-19 in Wuhan – has not been confirmed but authorities believe it may have been a 55-year-old man from Hubei province infected on November 17.

    This suggests the virus was spreading undetected in the human population around Wuhan for weeks before the ‘super spreader event’ at the market.

  36. Pelham

    Re radioactivity nurturing underground life: Yes, it suggests Godzilla. But for me (and I suspect many others of my vintage) it recalls the first two episodes of the Superman TV series of the ’50s. “Superman and the Mole Men” was the title, and it involved tiny men living peacefully far underground in a radioactive world until disturbed by oil drilling. The episodes were probably the best in the series, and I would argue they rank among the great classics of ’50s sci-fi.

    1. rowlf

      I have often hoped that BLM could leverage their media coverage to state that they shouldn’t be treated like Palestinians, but that is likely too much for the muffled and groomed media of the US where everyone has to stay in the safe zones of politics. I still think it would make a powerful convergence and help expose and start to beat back worldwide oppression..

  37. Cuibono

    “But the negatives are that there are cases that predate the live market outbreak, both in China and even in Italy.”
    Can you please provide some peer reviewed evidence that this is true? I have seen only prepublications and many of them were judged flawed

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      *Sigh* Over 80% of the material on Covid is pre-print. And as we pointed out on ivermectin, articles are being spiked for coming to the wrong conclusion.

      I don’t recall you expressing this concern about the article by Nicholas Wade, a mere journalist, which oddly was published in an utterly non-medical venue, and one that presents opinion pieces only.

      And this one with a Nov 2019 case in Italy was peer-reviewed:

  38. The Rev Kev

    “Can China finally solve its military jet engine problems? A new material might just do the trick”

    This could be a game-changer this. It would mean that the Chinese would be able to get the full potential out of their air frames giving it possibly a dominant position where these aircraft are deployed. Still, it is not confirmed yet going just by the title alone. Building high performance jet engines is hard.

    Did think of one thing reading this article. Maybe this is why the US has never given high-performance aircraft to Afghanistan. They are worried that maybe some of them might fly them to Iran for analysis. The modern drones that the Iranians have stem from captured US drones. And from Iran, those jet engines could go to China for extensive analysis. This sort of stuff happened from time to time during Cold War One.

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