Links 6/4/2021

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Puppies Are Born Ready to Communicate With Humans Smithsonian (David L)

A herd of elephants has roamed 300 miles across China and is headed toward a city Washington Post (resilc)

Black bears may play important role in protecting gray fox PhysOrg (Chuck L). No surprise. Wolves protect foxes because wolves eat the main predator of foxes, which is coyotes.

Government Report Finds No Evidence U.F.O.s Were Alien Spacecraft New York Times. Nice to know, but why were people like Podesta and Harry Reid pushing this hard in 2016? And why does the sudden explosion of “OMG UFOs!” seem awfully non-organic?

Amazing photos of rare sunset ‘quadruple’ microburst taken by stormchaser The Hill (dk)

How many people has climate change killed already? Grist (resilc)

Doctors, healthcare workers sound alarm over health risks of climate change France24

Study: California fire killed 10% of world’s giant sequoias Associated Press (David L)

Climate tipping points could topple like dominoes, warn scientists Guardian (David L)

Mixed farming methods could reduce US emissions and increase productivity PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Can we take the high out of psychedelics? Wired (David L)

There is not enough money in the world to get me to do this (hat tip guurst):

Organoids Are Not Brains. How Are They Making Brain Waves? New York Times


Pleas From Overseas: Seeking a Vaccine, and Entry Into the U.S. New York Times. Big props! The Grey Lady published furzy’s letter! A round of applause, please.


Why Scientists Worry About The CDC’s Approach To COVID Breakthrough Infections NPR (David L). When you’ve lost NPR….

Israel finds ‘likely’ link between Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and cases of heart inflammation in young males RT (Kevin W)

Coronavirus latest: Covid-19 risk cut sharply for up to 10 months after first infection, study finds Financial Times. First, merely a correlation. Not clear how much due to immunity and how much due to behavior change. Second, a not-representative population, medical workers.

Anthony Fauci urges China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers Financial Times (furzy). Fauci would not be doing this if he didn’t have good reason to think it would be exculpatory as far as his hot-button lab is concerned (recall there are two and only one got funding for and performs research methods nixed in the US). Remember that even though the Wall Street Journal ran a breathless story in the last couple of weeks about 3 Wuhan lab workers getting flu-like symptoms, IIRC in Nov, a bit later the story said that they (and others) had tested negative for Covid antibodies in early 2020. The fact that all three went to the hospital is overblown; China does not have free standing primary care physicians. If you want to see a doctor, you go to the hospital.

Reader AP also made this point via e-mail, that the fact that the case cluster than blew into epidemic>pandemic occurred in Wuhan does not mean the disease originated in Wuhan. That implies the Wuhan bat cave is irrelevant. AP continues with the alternate theory:

For the record: I think we’ve been wrong in looking for bats in China – France24’s “Observers” debunked the “Chinese eating bats” memes which were making the rounds, noting that the videos in those memes were Chinese tourists visiting Palau, where they do eat bats, and I saw a well-heeled British woman get peed on by a bat in bat cave on Moyo Island – an hour away from Bali, a favorite young tourist spot – during Singapore’s CNA travel doc on “glamping”; so, I think we should be looking at Indonesian or Palauan bats – Germany found that their official “first case”, diagnosed at a hospital, arose from a group of young people who had gone skiing in Austria 6-8 weeks earlier, coming home with the “sniffles”. So, my theory is that young Chinese went for an island vacation, picked it up there and brought it home where it circulated in the young crowd before finally hitting people old enough to get hospitalized or need medical treatment.


The UK Has a Plan for a New ‘Pandemic Radar’ System Wired (David L). Tracing app failure redux.


Donald Trump demands China ‘pay $10 trillion’ for its handling of covid (Kevin W)

Fauci emails: Here’s what we learned New York Post (Lee)

Income, Religion, Politics: US Vaccine Demand Explained Heisenberg Report (resilc)

Anheuser-Busch to give away free beer when America hits its vaccination goal New York Times



X-Press Pearl Fire Could Mean Environmental Disaster For Sri Lanka NPR (David L) :-(


Labour, not the Conservatives, was the largest party among low-income workers in 2019 New Statesman (guurst)

France Is Becoming More Like America. It’s Terrible. New York Times

New Cold War

Going for gold: Russia to eliminate US dollar from sovereign wealth fund THIS MONTH amid warning of politics sabotaging currency RT (Kevin W)


Revealed: The American Money Entwined with Israel’s Jewish Terrorist Groups Mint Press (Chuck L)

Arab Islamist helps clinch Israel’s new anti-Netanyahu government Reuters

Kurdish Forces Kill Protesters in Syria’s Manbij EA WorldView (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

What Is America’s Spy Court Hiding From the Public? New York Times

New Details Emerge On The “Highly Modified Drone” That Outran Police Helicopters Over Tucson The Drive (furzy)

Secret Chats Show How Cybergang Became a Ransomware Powerhouse New York Times (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Darth Vader and Stormtroopers Attend U.S. Military Ceremony Vice (resilc)

Why The U.S. Is Losing Immigrant Entrepreneurs To Other Nations Forbes


Biden now willing to drop corporate tax hike to get infrastructure deal done New York Post (Kevin W)

White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission The Hill

Democrats en deshabille

Sinema defends filibuster, sparking progressive fury The Hill

Republican Funhouse

Marjorie Taylor Greene among GOP members marking Pride month with bill to ban rainbow flag at embassies Independent

Cuomo’s pricey fundraiser may signal 2022 bid Syracuse (bob)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Food Fight

Meat and Its Enemies National Review (Li). Yes, NR, but it’s worth knowing what the right is worked up about.

Our Famously Free Press

‘Ammon Bundy coming soon.’ Federal water cutoffs igniting rebellion in Northern California SacBee (Lucy L)

A Law Student Mocked the Federalist Society. It Jeopardized His Graduation. New York Times

Elizabeth Holmes Emails With Boies Are Fair Game for Trial Bloomberg (BC). Ooh, you can stick a fork in her.

EXCLUSIVE Private equity bet on troubled Caribbean refinery blows up on retirement funds Reuters (resilc)

Rhetoric and frame analysis of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications Cell (David L)

Microsoft Irish subsidiary paid zero corporate tax on £220bn profit last year Guardian (resilc)

Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming Reuters. Kevin W: “Oh god. A nuclear reactor. Built by the man who gave us Microsoft Windows.

Congratulations, Elitists: Liberals and Conservatives Do Have Common Interests Now Matt Taibbi

The parents hoped an existing drug might keep their kids from having seizures. Then they saw the price STAT

Now You Can Mine Crypto From Your Norton Antivirus App Gizmodo

Class Warfare

The jobs went, the drugs moved in’: America’s addiction nightmare – in pictures Guardian (resilc)

Are we better off? Noahopinion. All based on various sorts of averages. Totally missed costs of inequality (which even exacts a health cost), much shorter average job tenures (ie, insecurity), and the deterioration in pretty much all measures of well being, like life expectancy, use of anti-depressants, incarceration rates, teen births.

CEOs Are the Problem Project Syndicate (David L)

Antidote du jour (Tracie H):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. vlade

    Labour low-earning voting Labour, after excluding retirees.

    I can’t access the study directly (can’t be bothered to register), but the NS article either shows how you can play with numbers, or the stupidity of today’s journous, your pick.

    It does NOT matter what is the percentage of low-earning workers ex retirees that voted Labour, or any other cohort in the article, for the matter.

    The article presents the bands as if all of them were of the same import, which they are not. For example, the top band (>150k GBP) is barely 0.5% of the population, so say 300k voters. Other bands will have often significantly more (or in some cases fewer) voters.

    I had a look at this some time back when someone dragged in “why Labour doesn’t have low earning voters”, and looked at the last election data. And it’s stark. The low-earners (unskilled workers, in the UK’s technical jargon DE social grade) were, after adjusting for retirees (which I did by comparing DE cohort with >65 age cohort), pretty much non-existent as voters. So it doesn’t matter how many of them vote Labour, when few of them turn out in the first place!

    W/o showing the weight of the cohort, the stuff in the article is meaningless. And the guy calls himself “data journalist”. Meh.

  2. John Siman

    Thank you so much, Yves, for linking to Taibbi’s impassioned essay “Congratulations, Elitists: Liberals and Conservatives Do Have Common Interests Now,” subtitled, “Well done, snobs of the #Resistance. You made the Horseshoe Theory real.” Since it is paywalled I am excerpting a few of Taibbi’s best paragraphs:
    ”The truth is [Taibbi writes], Trump conservatives and ACLU-raised liberals like myself, Greenwald, and millions of others [like me, like most, I would assume, Naked Capitalism readers] do have real common cause, against an epistemic revolution [yes!!] taking hold in America’s political and media elite. The traditional liberal approach to the search for truth, which stresses skepticism and free-flowing debate, is giving way to a reactionary movement that Plato himself would have loved [Taibbi needs to read Plato, though; I can help here], one that believes knowledge is too dangerous for the rabble and must be tightly regulated by a priesthood of “experts.” It’s anti-democratic, un-American, and naturally unites the residents of even the most extreme opposite ends of our national political spectrum….

    “From the embrace of oligarchical censorship to the aggressive hawking of “noble lies” like Russiagate to the constant humbugging of Enlightenment values like due process to the nonstop scolding of peasants unschooled in the latest academic jargon, the political style of the modern Democratic mainstream isn’t just elitist and authoritarian, it’s almost laughably off-putting. In one moment it’s cheering for a Domestic War on Terror and in the next, declaring war on a Jeopardy contestant flashing the “A-OK” sign. It’s Dick Cheney meets Robin DiAngelo, maybe the most loathsome conceivable admixture. Who could be surprised a politically diverse group finds it obnoxious?…

    By last summer, after the patriotic mania of Russiagate receded, the newest moral panic that the kente-cloth-clad Schumers and Pelosis were suddenly selling, in solidarity with famed progressive change agents like Bank of America, PayPal, Apple, ComCast, and Alphabet, was that any nation capable of electing Trump must always have been a historically unredeemable white supremacist construct, the America of the 1619 Project. First “half” of Trump supporters were deplorable racists, then it was all of them, and then, four years in, the whole country and all its traditions were deemed deplorable.

    Now, when the statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt came down, there was a new target, separate and apart from Trump. The whole history of American liberalism was indicted as well, denounced as an ineffectual trick of the oppressor, accomplishing nothing but giving legitimacy to racial despotism.

    The American liberalism I knew growing up was inclusive, humble, and democratic. It valued the free exchange of ideas among other things because a central part of the liberal’s identity was skepticism and doubt, most of all about your own correctitude. Truth was not a fixed thing that someone owned, it was at best a fleeting consensus, and in our country everyone, down to the last kook, at least theoretically got a say. We celebrated the fact that in criminal courts, we literally voted to decide the truth of things.

    This new elitist politics of the #Resistance era (I won’t ennoble it by calling it liberalism) has an opposite view. Truth, they believe, is properly guarded by “experts” and “authorities” or (as Jon Karl put it) “serious people,” who alone can be trusted to decide such matters as whether or not the Hunter Biden laptop story can be shown to the public. A huge part of the frustration that the general public feels is this sense of being dictated to by an inaccessible priesthood, whether on censorship matters or on the seemingly daily instructions in the ear-smashing new vernacular of the revealed religion, from “Latinx” to “birthing persons.”…

    I ❤️❤️❤️ Taibbi!

    1. cocomaan

      This new elitist politics of the #Resistance era (I won’t ennoble it by calling it liberalism)

      I think this is the key. Whatever this thing is – the PMC, the ancien regime, the blob, the haute bourgeoisie, whatever – it needs to stop being called liberal or progressive. I think elitist doesn’t even get close enough to the mark.

      This blob is a class of people who serve the American global empire, which includes its military and economic and corporate interests. The worldview is supportive of its membership, which is exclusive of a certain pedigree, usually involving a combination of money, educational pedigree, and acquiescence to the philosophy of empire.

      1. freebird

        Yes. I’ve taken to calling them ‘limousine liberals’ but that doesn’t convey the evil these folks propagate. The general public doesn’t even know what ‘neoliberal’ means and it has a similar problem implying philosophy, not graft. We do need a new epithet for these folks. Their destructive task is to be enablers of “corporate overlords”, but that implies the COs have some right to be that. Perhaps the revolution does not start until there is a concise and enraging term to describe the ruling elitists. And a comparable word for the red tie blob too, not just the blue one.

        1. cocomaan

          Hah, interesting idea, of coming up with a term to make them crazy.

          It almost reeks of reactionary politics. In this case, they seem to be reactionary toward anything that threatens that dominant corporate/central bank/federal government cooperative that is the American empire.

          Calling them reactionaries might get their hackles up.

          1. GF

            “Those people” don’t care what you call them as long as the money flows. They are impervious to insult or denigration.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          How about the Despicables? And use that word for every famous one of these people often enough that that word gets connected to that certain kind of person and people.

          When ” the Despicables” calls up images of Hillary Clinton, DiAngelo, Rachel Maddow, Barak Obama, among all the millions of people who hear it said or see it written; then that word ( the Despicables) will be the word we need. At least for the BlueAnon Blob.

    2. David

      It’s about religion, or a secularised form thereof.
      The best analogy I can think of is the replacement of the essentially pragmatic Greek and Roman world-view by the rigidly enforced doctrines of the Christian Church in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. (Peter Brown and Charles Freeman, among others, have written interestingly about this). The early Church uncannily resembles today’s Wokeist movement, in its bitter (and sometimes violent) internal disputes, its heretics, its banishments and persecutions, and its subsequent capture of the state apparatus, which it the turned to its own purposes, to enforce a rigid (if internally inconsistent) set of dogmas on the people. The violence and bitterness of the controversies at the time, which were often very personal, were at least as bad as anything you see on Twitter today. It was essentially a struggle of faith and authority against reason: witness Augustine’s notorious statement that he would only accept what was in the Gospels if the Church said it was true.

      Liberalism has always been an elitist doctrine, and always intrinsically subject to totalitarian temptations. This is because liberalism is based on a series of Revealed Truths (equality of man, primacy of the individual over the group, centrality of property rights) which cannot be argued or demonstrated, but just have to be accepted. And of course these Truths are sometimes Revealed to be different from last week’s Truths, but the faithful are then required to repudiate what they recently thought or, more often, forget they ever thought it. For a long time, Liberalism was kept in a house-trained configuration by the presence of competing value systems (tradition, religion, socialism etc) with which it had to live and negotiate. Now, like the Church in Late Antiquity, it has won, and sees no need to compromise.

      1. Judith

        I am reminded of Theodosius, who in 381 decreed “Let us believe the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity” and persecuted anyone who refused to believe.

        1. urblintz

          And the secular version…

          “There are some people in this world who do not love their fellow human beings… and I hate people like that.”
          – Tom Lehrer

          1. David

            Oh, absolutely. I don’t currently have a recording of Lehrer’s 1965 record with that comment on, but in my view “That Was the Year That Was” is one of the fundamental texts of the last hundred years. Like George Orwell, but with a sardonic grin, I sometimes think Lehrer was right about everything.

            1. urblintz

              D’accord! There’s a reason Sondheim – no slouch himself – considers Lehrer the greatest American lyricist of all time. My dad had a reel to reel copy of That was the Year That Was which I wore out… memorized every line by the time I was 10, an exercise which served me well enough later in life as a professional singer. More to the point, Lehrer shaped, fundamentally, my political consciousness and I can not be more grateful that my dad let me play with his cool stuff when he was at the office!

      2. lyman alpha blob

        You have just inspired me to try to finish a book I picked up almost 20 years ago on the subject called Constantine and the Bishops. Just grabbed it from the shelf and the subtitle, which I’d completely forgotten, is The Politics of Intolerance.

        I’d originally picked it up because I was interested in why Christianity spread like it did – I always found the Greco-Roman pantheons way more interesting and couldn’t figure out why those old pagans would have opted for Jesus over Zeus (and perhaps most didn’t, voluntarily at least). Now 20 years after it was written, it seems like an even better read in the context of today’s ‘wokeism’.

      3. Alphonse

        > Liberalism has always been an elitist doctrine, and always intrinsically subject to totalitarian temptations.

        To me, the million dollar question is: Does liberalism inevitably degenerate into the dogmatic intolerance we’re seeing today? Maybe it’s the heat of the times, but despite my admiration for some liberal principles (e.g. due process and speech), increasingly I think it really might.

        Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer proposed that liberalism’s rational quest for the domination of nature became the domination of man. (Ironic that their critique became the justification for the likes of critical race theory.)

        Patrick Deneen argues that the extreme individual freedom liberalism cherishes can only be defended by the creation of a leviathan state.

        Augusto Del Noce argued that the secular (progressive, socialist, Marxist and Nazi alike) pursuit of progress entails a gnostic deification of the self and the rejection and destruction of the existing world and any constraints on freedom (such as God, nature, and universal ethical values) in pursuit of a future Utopia, but that the abandonment of universality would leave only power standing.

        All see freedom turning back on itself and becoming unfreedom.

        Taibbi’s epistemic revolution takes account of critiques like these, wielding them selectively to crush opposition.

        As you say, liberalism has always been the possession of a class. A conservative might respond, where the class goes, so goes liberalism. A class without virtue produces a liberalism without liberty. To what extent is the flaw inherent in the liberal ideal, and to what extent is it an expression of its exponents?

      4. Petter

        Liberalism purports to be based on universal shared values, like rule of law, or at least that’s the Norwegian interpretation. But then you have situations like the following – last week the Health Ministry changed the rules for airline arrivals from the UK. Arriving passengers would no longer have to go into quarantine at a quarantine hotel upon departing the flights. Great or not, whatever. The problem was that the border police didn’t get the message, or at least not all of them. The police slipped some arrivals through and sent some to quarantine hotels. When asked explain or justify this arbitrary decision making, the police official (flak catcher) asserted their right to use “professional discretion.” When asked to clarify, the flak catcher from the Justice Department, which is in charge to the border police, stated that they don’t comment on “individual cases.”
        So much for the rule of law -not to even get into the whole discussion about health officials mandating or making laws without the consent of the governed.

      5. Latouche

        It’s not clear that they have won, but given the trajectory of events in the last few years they almost certainly smell blood in the water.

      6. Gulag

        Liberalism is largely based on an anthropological pessimism and cynicism about human nature.

        In the writings of Hobbes and Locke we are all assumed to be basically self-interested, fearful, greedy and egotistical creatures who end up contracting with one another while being protected from the “war of all against all,” by the market and the state.

        This type of cynicism and pessimism is never proven but is presupposed.

        There may also be a tendency within liberalism to bring into historical existence these very conditions, whether the Hobbesian “war of all against all,” or Lockean “possessive individualism.”

    3. Carolinian

      Of course most of us here do agree and good to see that you as an academic (?) also agree. Just a tip though–don’t think we are supposed to liberate long sections of paywalled articles.

      1. tegnost

        I tend to agree that a summary with some edifying passages is more in the yves smith style of parsing.

      2. JCC

        He has actually opened that article up, it is no longer paywalled.

        But with that in mind, this was one of my favorite quotes out of the article:

        “For all their other flaws, Fox types don’t fall to pieces and write group letters about their intolerable suffering and “trauma” if forced to share a room with someone with different political views.”

    4. fresno dan

      John Siman
      June 4, 2021 at 7:25 am
      Thanks for that – I don’t have access to the paywalled article.
      I’ve said it a million times, but our “media” is defined about what the media can’t inquire about. Almost never any good faith questions, but questions akin to “have you stopped beating your wife?” to advance a point of view.
      As David @9:46 says, its all becoming a religion, and you must uphold the proper tenants….

    5. ChiGal in Carolina

      Fantastic new feature from Taibbi:

      Footage shot by the “censored” videographer Ford Fischer covering a joint BLM-Boogaloo Boys event. Even includes a clip of the network news misrepresenting it as a clash.

      Giving this guy a platform is a real public service.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the excerpts John. It’s really fascinating to see so many liberals of the “love me I’m a liberal type” take an authoritarian turn. Good friend of mine caught a strong case of the TDS and wound up buying a gun, and then another gun, in case he needed protection from white supremacists. I keep telling him that if things go pear shaped, he better make sure he knows who the real enemy is and aims accordingly – the authoritarian “liberals” have a lot more power and firepower than any exaggerated threat of white supremacists.

      As for the Plato, maybe Taibbi read esteemed muckraker I.F. Stone’s account instead – The Trial of Socrates. Socrates doesn’t come off well in Stone’s version, preferring tyrants to democracy and egging on the children of the elites, the notorious traitor Alcibiades among them. Socrates always came off as a blowhard to me, and reading Stone’s book clarified why I couldn’t stand him.

      I’ve since made a small collection of contra-Socratic studies – the Socrates haters might also enjoy Robin Waterfield’s Why Socrates Died and Emily Wilson’s The Death of Socrates.

      1. km

        “Thanks for the excerpts John. It’s really fascinating to see so many liberals of the “love me I’m a liberal type” take an authoritarian turn.”

        Sure didn’t take long for them to start demanding censorship (de facto and de jure) and sucking up to the torturers, perjurers and entrapment artists of the CIA, NSA and FBI, respectively.

        “But Trump!” sure was a convenient excuse for 1984, just like “But 1/6!” sure was a convenient excuse for those who thought that the so-called “Patriot Act” left too many civil liberties in place.

      2. QuicksilverMessenger

        The real meaning of the Republic, and of Socrates, as is often the case, is hiding in plain sight. It has nothing to do with an actual city, nor is it a political treatise, nor an argument for ‘elitism’. It is meant of course as an analogy to the actual structure of the human being- psychic/intellect, emotional/ spirited element, instinctive/ like and dislike- as it is usually constituted, and what it can, and indeed, is meant to be.
        And of course, Socrates is always vindicated: We human beings are quite literally ‘upside down’, ruled by like and dislike (the ‘lower’ nature), fortified by the emotional element, of which the intellect only can serve and be blinded by. There is no harmony between the elements- they are all performing the wrong tasks. We need only to look around at ourselves to see this is so.
        But it can, and rightly should, be otherwise: The state of “Justice”, a true life outside of the cave, a human being ‘right side up’. It’s funny because Socrates says over and over (I once kept a count of how many times he says it) that we are building a city only to look at man writ large; as an analogy so to study the structure of the human organism. The building of the Republic is only a cover story to hide a real teaching from a master. But, alas, they still got to Socrates, as is often the case

        1. juliania

          Thanks, QuicksilverMessenger. It’s sad to see tongues wagging about things about which so little is known. Saint John Chrysostom’s liturgy and his Easter sermon are what Christendom during the 4th and 5th centuries is all about, and Plato’s love for Socrates is what his Dialogues are about as well. I have great respect for I.F.Stone – we used to be subscribers to his newsletters. He didn’t get Plato; we are not all perfect.

          Christianity was never about being ‘woke’.

      1. lordkoos

        Nice to see the Taibbi piece here. I follow him on twitter but almost never see any of his posts due to what I can only assume is twitter’s “soft censorship”. In a similar vein, I see progressive types on twitter often complaining about mysteriously losing followers.

      2. Carolinian

        Of course if everyone started reprinting Taibbi’s paywalled articles he would have to stop doing it. This isn’t the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times. I think we should play by his rules.

        It’s quite likely he will release a longer bit of the article or perhaps all of it in a day or two.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          All of it, already (cut&paste from comment forum for paying subscribers in response to a comment that it deserves a wider audience)

          Matt Taibbi3 hr ago
          I’m unlocking this piece. Taking a lot of heat for it, but that’s okay.

    7. km

      “The American liberalism I knew growing up was inclusive, humble, and democratic.”

      Two things happened. Liberals discovered high living and empire, and decided that they liked them.

      And the people didn’t behave the way that today’s liberals thought they should.

      These have plagued would-be reformers throughout history.

    8. Jon Cloke

      True dat. Has anyone else noticed the way mainstream media outlets are uncomfortably shuffling up to trying to depict Liz Cheney as some kind of Republican/democratic hero, BTW?

      The most corrupt, racist, hard-right bellwether in the US who owes her position solely to her father’s mainstream, murderous corruption, is now your object of affection, MSM?

      O brave new world etc…

  3. Juneau

    Re: Meat and its Enemies: The author makes valid points about the threats to beef but I don’t understand why a carbon tax would be applied to chicken and egg production, which while very sad for the chickens is a cold, efficient process done in large metal shacks on tiny bits of land in areas like Delmarva Peninsula. Birds don’t pass wind (I have owned many) and don’t necessitate deforestation so how do they contribute to climate change and why the tax? Now this is looking more like a scheme for tax revenue.

    1. cocomaan

      The argument, which I don’t necessarily believe because I haven’t seen much more than cursory data on the claims beyond infographics in Mother Earth News, is that any kind of meat production requires more water and more soil coverage in order to produce one ounce of meat/one egg than the amount of water and fertilizer to produce a single vegetable.

      The problem is that if I eat an entirely vegetable/fruit diet, I’m eating things out of season or things that are imported vast distances. How many gallons of gas are expended to get an orange to me? It’s got to be a ton. I’m also always fighting against hunger. For protein, I’m eating soy, which I still am not convinced is a healthy vegetable. I live near a soy field and the amount of chemicals sprayed on an acre of soy would boggle people’s minds. Also, soy gives me violent, painful gas. Eggs do not. Soy products are highly processed and usually contain a whole host of other unpronounceable ingredients.

      So anyway, I agree, I think a lot of this is just a tax hike using trendy veganism that will impact the lower class, because god forbid we tax Amazon.

      1. griffen

        I can’t suggest an alternative readily for your soy intake, but I’ll opt for Almond milk when I am choosing. Any product giving a byproduct of painful gas doesn’t sound great. I don’t do much dairy for that reason, aside from cheeses. I do not include American “cheese products” as real cheese, too industrial for my tastes.

        1. cocomaan

          I do really like almond milk, I went on a kick of almond milk for awhile. Or some almonds in trail mix, or almond extract in different types of dessert. I’ve had some killer moroccan desserts made with almonds. Just delicious.

          But in terms of environmental impact, almonds have to be up there among the worst offenders in terms of water use and other factors. They’re just not the kind of produce that seems to be scalable. More of a tree nut that you’d find on a homestead, but not a staple the way, for instance, a vegan I know treats them (she eats almonds almost constantly).

          1. enoughisenough

            Yes, almonds are a huge drain on water in CA, where there is a major ongoing drought.

            Stopping eating almonds is actually really necessary, unless farming techniques are changed. Which they aren’t.

        2. lordkoos

          Almond milk doesn’t have nearly the amount of protein compared to soy, and it’s usually sweetened, so isn’t it just more empty calories?

          1. CanCyn

            You can buy unsweetened almond milk. Worried about the sustainability of almond farming but not finding anything else my body tolerates near as well or tastes as good, I have found a 50/50 mix of almond and coconut milk. Coconuts are much more sustainable to grow than almonds but I don’t like the strong flavour of coconut on its own. The 50/50 mix works well for me on cereal and in smoothies. I know – still almonds, but fewer and I don’t consume a ton.

      2. Bruno

        The author of this article (an Exxon-type global heating minimizer) calls a hypothetical meat-tax “obviously regressive” when in fact it would be a strictly Pigovian tax, designed to make the market price more accurately reflect the real overall social cost of a product (especially the environmental cost of production and the physiological cost of consumption). Industrialized agricultural production imposes enormous such costs. But adequate taxation is scarcely conceivable politically anywhere and its administration surely expensive in its own right. The only proper (but revolutionary) approach would be the complete elimination of industrialized agricultural production and replacement by labor-intensive organic farming that would eliminate the social costs (especially health effects) of present meat consumption and drastically minimize the environmental harm stemming from the food-chain monopolies worldwide while providing decent livelihoods to the billions forced off their land by those monopolies and the governments they own and control.

        1. cocomaan

          I agree that industrialized food production creates enormous externalized costs. And a Pigovian tax is one way to deal with it.

          However most of this infrastructure was created after the Great Depression and WW2, times when significant parts of the globe went hungry. The memories of the Dust Bowl die hard.

          The revolutionary proposal you submit is sort of an anarcho primitivism approach. But I wonder how much people would actually enjoy it.

          1. JBird4049

            Yes, the current American food infrastructure did start as a creation of people who remembered and even suffered from the Dust Bowl. They wanted to make sure that no American suffered from the real starvation that happened (especially in the first winter) or even from the more common hunger of the Great Depression.

            That is why high caloric food basics like beef, pork, chicken, wheat, corn, potatoes, and dairy became permanently subsidized. Nutritious food like vegetables were always cheap compared to those foods that gave the calories needed to survive. The cost of food then was like the cost of housing now as, IIRC, roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of a family’s income went to food, then.

            The current insanity comes from Big Ag monopolistic capture of the food industry, the corruption in the various parts of government, and the decreasing income and increasing housing costs have made just having enough food to eat difficult for many. Hell, Congress keeps cutting food stamps (or SNAP) even though the need keeps increasing.

            Personally having enjoyed hunger such that standing was a dizzying experience, I think I can say that increasing hunger among Americans, which is already happening, is a good way to get us all to go authoritarian; any government or reforms that does not consider this is likely to fail. It is strange that our current leaders and their well edumacated, woke apparatchiks have apparently not taken this into their schemes.

      3. BlakeFelix

        Eat non soy beans and rice or something like that if it agrees with you better. Non-fermented soy is a questionable person food IMO. And I substitute hull less oat groats for rice, they have a decent amount of protein also. Eggs are good too, IMO, although our factory farms are a monstrous crime.

      4. Odysseus

        How many gallons of gas are expended to get an orange to me? It’s got to be a ton.

        CSX claims to get about 500 ton-miles per gallon of diesel. Of course, in the USA, we don’t ship fruit by rail, so the real answer is worse than that. But in the best case, the dollar and carbon cost of fuel is overwhelmed by other considerations.

    2. hunkerdown

      It looks to me like a scheme to bring back elite sumptuary laws, like forbidding commoners from wearing silk knickers or whatever. But almost everything out of the PMC looks like that these days.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There are lots of different assessment out there, so much depends on your assumptions, but nearly every one I’ve seen that wasn’t paid for by the egg industry suggests that while chicken and eggs are nowhere near as bad as beef for emissions, they are much worse than pretty much any non-animal alternative. The reality is that takes a lot of energy to make and transport the food for any animal.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Unless that food is multi-species of pasture growing plants, and the animal transports its own self to the food in the pasture by walking there.

    4. David

      It’s a reaction (perhaps a bit overdone, but not massively so) to the change that’s come over vegetarianism itself in recent years. From being an amiable eccentricity of a small minority, tolerated on the basis that provided you were sensible you probably wouldn’t do yourself much harm, it’s become a sacred cause. Moreover, it’s a cause which enables you to feel superior to, look down on, and harangue violently anyone who continues to eat as the vast majority of the human race always has done. I think it’s perfectly capable of being absorbed into the Woke ideology for two reasons (and I see signs of each already). One is that meat-eating is already associated culturally, if not empirically, with masculinity, so vegetarianism is a blow against mumble mumble sexism mumble mumble patriarchy. Second, it’s classically a cause of the comfortable intellectual urban middle class, the stormtroopers of wokeism, the kind of people who freak out if their local supermarket doesn’t have fresh courgettes or avocado or almonds, and who don’t realise, and don’t want to know, that out of season such things are brought at huge cost from the other end of the planet, and often produced by exploited workers in the process of destroying the environment.

    5. Henry

      While I’m not a big fan of eating much meat or dairy, I have farmed enough to know you have to complete the nutrient cycle somehow and industrial fertilizers are a rather nutrient poor and energy wasteful way to accomplish that goal. There are plenty of people, such as Joel Salatin (Polyface farms) that have shown that intelligent and thoughtful raising of animals can actually put carbon back in the soil and just not having to feed cows antibiotics reduces their methane production by about half. If you eliminate CAFOs much of the problem disappears. I understand why folks like Gates are pushing the need for fake meat narrative as he has invested heavily in processed foods and he knows small scale diverse farms while being more resilient, better for the environment, more equitable, needing fewer inputs, produce better quality food, are for those very reasons hard to create a giant monopoly out of, thus you actually have to work hard and can’t just sit back and extract rent from them. I have my doubts whether industrial grown meat of any sort is healthy to eat, the same could be said for industrial grown vegetables. Certainly it is scary that the biomass of chickens is greater than biomass of all the other birds combined. Still they are great at recycling food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill producing methane and I’ve yet to find a better way to prepare a garden bed then throw a truck load of manure down and let the chickens loose to till it and remove all pests. (Yes it can be done on a large scale see chicken tractors.) I am certain that currently processed foods are a main contributor to about half the early deaths in the US and fake meats in general fall into that category and thus should also be avoided if possible. So I think it is more than just a scheme for tax revenue it is also another attempt to use threat of climate change as a tool to create more monopolies.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      If several million chickens are concentrated in Delmarva Peninsula, they are probably fed with petrochemical GMO shitcorn and shitsoy, which is grown on former forest or prairie land scalped off to grow shitcorn and shitsoy, and which is driven in on oil powered trucks. That’s where the carbon emissions would come from for that kind of feedlot-in-a-shed growing of industrial chicken and industrial eggs.

    1. Laughingsong

      “. . . the weird turn pro.” Had that poster for a while, complete with inky Steadman art.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Luke Aikins 25k ft jump without a parachute got my heart pumping this morning.”

    It’s impressive and it’s not impressive. Hitting a target 100 feet to the side is great control on Aiken’s part. I assume that one of that parachute team carried a spare chute in case he found himself being flown too far off range on the way down. But here is where the science takes over. During his fall, he reached a terminal velocity of 120 miles per hour (193 km/h). Terminal speed means just that. You don’t keep on getting faster as you fall and it only takes about 12 seconds to reach it. So his falling height in a way was irrelevant. On the way down you can see that he practiced flipping himself on his back a coupla times as that is how he was suppose to hit that net. And that net was not just an ordinary net but one made from Spectra, a high-density polyethylene cord. It had four compressed air cylinders designed to gently slow him down after impact so this stunt was a combination of science, engineering, and a very high level of skill for which I give Aikens credit.

    1. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      June 4, 2021 at 8:18 am
      I coulda done that…if the net had been a 100 MILES by a 100 MILES Uh, on second thought, make it 1,000 miles by 1,000 miles. Hmmmm – in for a penny, in for a pound – just cover the whole damn country with the net.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I still give that guy credit. But it is like the work of a stuntman/woman. Nothing is left to chance and everything is planned out and rehearsed. Would I do something like tat? Aw, hell no. But here is a short video about some of the stuntwork behind Game of Thrones. I would reckon that Aiken had done much more planning and preparation here- (4:02 mins)

    2. Wukchumni

      You have to admire somebody who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane without a parachute, but shouldn’t the landing have been in much more appropriate Darwin?

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I used to know a guy who survived a jump with a failed ‘chute. He landed in a tree and spent 6 months in orthopedic rehab, but recovered to jump again. Everyone wanted to know how it felt, but he said he had no memory of anything up to about a week before it happened.

      1. Wukchumni

        WW2 is now considered the peak jumping out of planes w/o a chute era…

        I think around 10-20 survived their landing~

    4. Pelham

      The height may have mattered not for velocity but for aiming purposes. The net probably appeared quite small from 25,000 feet. Plus there was the complication of the oxygen mask.

      1. RMO

        That limit to maximum speed is not strictly true – it depends upon body position any drag induced by what the jumper is wearing and jump height. Pulling your limbs in gets you to around 200mph, head first gets you over 300mph, jump from 128,000 and you can exceed Mach 1 at high altitude.

    5. Tom Stone

      I believe the longest fall from a plane where the person survived happened during WW2, a 30K Ft fall ending in a haystack.
      Broken bones but they survived.

      1. Temporarily Insane

        The Guinness world record for the highest fall without a parachute is held by a Serbian woman named Vesna Vulović. From Wikipedia:

        Vesna Vulović (3 January 1950 – 23 December 2016) was a Serbian flight attendant who holds the Guinness world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute: 10,160 m (33,330 ft; 6.31 mi). She was the sole survivor after a briefcase bomb exploded in the baggage compartment of JAT Flight 367 on 26 January 1972, causing it to crash near Srbská Kamenice, Czechoslovakia. The Yugoslav authorities suspected that Croatian nationalists were to blame, but no one was ever arrested.

        Following the bombing, Vulović spent days in a coma and was hospitalized for several months. She suffered a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae, broken legs, broken ribs, and a fractured pelvis. These injuries resulted in her being temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. She made an almost complete recovery but continued to walk with a limp. Vulović had no memory of the incident and had no qualms about flying in the aftermath of the crash. Despite her willingness to resume work as a flight attendant, Jat Airways (JAT) gave her a desk job negotiating freight contracts, feeling her presence on flights would attract too much publicity. Vulović became a celebrity in Yugoslavia and was deemed a national hero.

  5. Robert Hahl

    “OMG UFO’s!!!” must be for signaling their loyalty to some political team, probably involving how they propose to justify military spending. Essentially, they are worried about the flying saucer gap.

    1. Donald

      First, the headline is misleading. What they claim to have found is that there were objects observed which they can’t explain. Obviously you can’t claim anything beyond that without further evidence. Everyone is shoving this into their favorite prior category.

      UFO’s will be a reason for spending vast sums of Pentagon money if the claim is that they are advanced hypersonic weapons made by Russia or China. If you take the reports of their behavior at face value, this is impossible, because no current technology could possibly do what they supposedly do. So if it is a government conspiracy to spend more money, they overdid it on the performance claims. What you should expect to see will be further claims that in fact the UFO’s didn’t really move as fast as reported, but fast enough to be consistent with something the Chinese or Russians could have produced. Alternatively maybe they will claim the Russians or Chinese have found some way to fool our pilots and radar operators. All of this would mean a big performance gap and would therefore mean a reason to spend massive sums of cash.

      OTOH, if you accept the UFO performance reports by the pilots at face value, it ain’t the Russians and we have zero chance of building anything that could do these things and everyone with even half a brain knows it. It’d be like building catapults to shoot down B- 52 bombers. ( Though that seemed to work in the final season of Game of Thrones).

      So if it is a government conspiracy to boost Pentagon spending even higher, I would expect the storyline to gradually shift to Russians or Chinese hypersonic weapons and/or electronic spoofing.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve witnessed Underfunded Financial Organizations and believe they do exist despite no real clear evidence as far as you’d know.

        Now countries are asking if we can find other fake buyers of US Treasuries as the game is so obvious now, why not Uranus instead of Belgium, for instance?

        1. Pelham

          Thanks for this. Having worked at more than one major newspaper, I can tell you that changes in headlines can be enormously revealing.

      2. Pelham

        According to the story, the Pentagon HAS concluded that UFO/UAP technology is not a product of either China, Russia or ourselves. These objects with this kind of performance have been tracked visually and on radar at least since 1952, thus ruling out any recent enormous advance in flight technology.

        As for the motivation behind the military’s UFO disclosures, it could well be that they’re preliminary to a big ask for new funding. But let’s consider as well the motives for skeptics suggesting this. For many years, skeptics have dismissed UFOs for a wide variety of reasons, prominent among them the fact that the military had consistently laughed off these phenomena as well. Now that the military is acknowledging their existence, the skeptics are moving the goal posts and suggesting an ulterior motive.

        And that’s fine. There may indeed be some ulterior motive. But the skeptics ought to first acknowledge their own switcheroo on military confirmation.

        Separately, I suspect the Pentagon report later this month will fall well short of telling us much beyond what they’ve already acknowledged. And that’s because some genuinely distressing aspects of the UFO phenomenon have been documented over many years now, including repeated appearances over land-based nuclear missile installations during some of which missile systems were interrupted. This could be used as to demand more anti-UFO funding, but I suspect it’s just too embarrassing to reveal.

        What will be most interesting for me is whether the report addresses in any way the many suggestions that UFO materials or UFOs themselves have been recovered. Don’t forget: The groundbreaking front-page New York Times report in 2017 flat-out said that materials were currently being studied at locations in Nevada.

        1. Jeff W

          The groundbreaking front-page New York Times report in 2017 flat-out said that materials were currently being studied at locations in Nevada.

          [link added]

          Here’s the quote from the NYT 2017 article:

          Under [billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s] Mr. [Robert] Bigelow’s direction, the company [Bigelow Aerospace] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. [Luis] Elizondo [who ran the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program] and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.

          It seems like the legislation directing that a report be submitted would—or, at least, should—address the materials recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. It requires

          1. A detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence reporting collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence, including data and intelligence reporting held by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force;

          Notwithstanding the testimony by one astrophysicist in March, 2020 regarding at least some of the materials and their provenance (i.e.,“We couldn’t make it ourselves,” “off-world vehicles not made on this earth”), given the top level finding of the report—“no evidence of alien aircraft,” it seems like the report either doesn’t address the issue or concludes that the materials are not of extraterrestrial origin.

      3. BlakeFelix

        I think that there are a variety of UFO sightings, though. To my understanding some of them aren’t replicable with credible human technology (I suspect wierd atmospheric phenomenon for most/all of those) but some of them could easily be some kind of spy Drone or balloons. I’m not saying Boeing or LM aren’t going to play it up for grifting purposes, but I do think that we should have people looking into that kind of thing.

  6. The Rev Kev

    “Marjorie Taylor Greene among GOP members marking Pride month with bill to ban rainbow flag at embassies”

    This is what I mean when I talk about the incompetence of Trump-Republicans. They can’t do anything right and are just as dangerous to their own party as they are to the country. Trying to put in place a ban of the flying of rainbow-coloured flags at US embassies? If you forgive the pun, that idea was never going to fly. If she really wanted to stir up the chickens, what she should have done was to bring out a new law. One that says that when the rainbow flag is flown from an embassy mast, that it has to be flown from every embassy mast-pole in the world. And yes, that includes, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Pakistan and all the rest of them. But with a Marjorie Taylor Greene, there is little chance that she would actually devote her time to serious legislation on important issues. She is too busy playing to her base. One day we will be saying ‘Hey, whatever happened to that Marjorie Taylor Greene?’

    1. hunkerdown

      The Taylor-Greene case proves that in as little as a few months the establishment can train up a willing local gentlewoman into a petty aristocrat. Which is basically the case that anti-electoralists have been making all along.

      1. John

        I understand your meaning in using the descriptors of gentle… and aristo… but dislike their use as there us nothing gentle or best ruling about these people. The French petit bourgeois and haute bourgeois describes who they are without imputing value.
        Gentle aristocrats seems a propaganda term from ancient times to obscure the nastiness of a rapacious warlord class of thieves and criminals.

    2. marym

      Her performance serves an elite agenda just as much as the performance of those who promote flying the flag, with neither “side” providing material benefits or equal justice under the law. At the rate things are going on dismantling whatever still exists of voting rights and civil rights, one day she’ll probably be president.

  7. Toshiro_Mifune

    And why does the sudden explosion of “OMG UFOs!” seem awfully non-organic?
    Because you are correct and it is non-organic. What the actual purpose of these stories are I am uncertain on. I don’t think they’re being used to to help get greater defense funding because, honestly, the defense industry has never really seemed to have had problems getting funding for whatever idiocy they intend to spend money on.
    Whether it is just a distraction story or something else (like a cover story for increased drone surveillance of the US civilian population by some 3 letter agency) I have not yet been able to determine.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Ignoring Reid, he’s a nutter, my guess is its a psyop the MIC ran abroad but started running domestically when Obama ended the ban on propaganda. So the stories get run abroad, but the goodier ones are now allowed to be broadcast here and get picked up for content as they are noticed more easily. The purpose probably has been forgotten and it’s just on autopilot.

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        The purpose probably has been forgotten and it’s just on autopilot.
        You know, I hadn’t considered institutional inertia to be part of it.

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          I consider it the broadcast of fear. Half of officialdom doesn’t believe in UFO reality because of extreme fear. Look to the comments of people that make public statements. Trump was frightened by them. So are many people. They are afraid of something unknown and the only alternative is to disbelieve what they see or hear, with many hosannahs and loss of bodily fluids. When the Foo appeared in WW2 (not that this was the first incident by any means) they shook the powers that be due to invasions of their minds with foreigners raining from the sky.
          It is far easier to control the reality of reengineered space vehicle tech by secrecy and denial. So nothing to see here, move along. “What the hell was that” was what pilots said as they chattered. They are the front line defense and they know there is no defense. Why do we assume we need a defense? Because governments know savior types when they see them and react very badly to the fear of losing control of the masses.
          Wait until you see one until you make a choice of fear or enlightenment.

    2. Zamfir

      My impression: there are rich donors who are also sci-fi enthusiast UFO believers. Politicians call around, what are your great concerns this year? Most say, I have to pay my peons too much. A few say, I don’t see enough UFO investigations.

      They get connected to the pentagon, the pentagon dutifully rolls out some grainy tapes and noisy data, and everybody is happy.

    3. lordkoos

      I believe it is simply a test of propaganda, to see what the American people can be led to believe when a story is presented by corporate media.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: UFOs

    Reid has been doing this for years. The appeal is the same as any other religion, the removal of obligation towards public mores. Reid needs to keep the powder dry because aliens. When he is droning on about supposed interstellar travelers, he isn’t talking about bullying casino workers into voting for Hillary. If the Rigellians get the upper hand on the Tau Cetians the amount of conservative judges won’t matter.

    1. Wukchumni


      {the view from on high looking down @ Pavlovegas from a UFO, its obvious sin city is pandering to intergalactic slot machine punters}

      1. ambrit

        I always wondered why slot machines used the 777 symbology to signify “Winning,” instead of the much more accurate 666 symbology that signifies the worship of Mammon that Vegas makes so “enjoyable.”
        I laugh every time I hear the Vegas PsyOp meme; “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Since the primary occupation in Las Vegas is the transfer of money, I’m not at all surprised to discover that the majority of the monies that flow through the Vegas ‘econosphere’ stay there.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          In that numerology, 7 is God’s number, so 777 is the union of heaven and earth in christianity, hence winning. 666 is close but not the real thing, temptation.

          1. ambrit

            Ah, an interesting supposition. Western gaming systems are based on the Kabbalah.
            “Professional” gambling is indeed an Alchemical vocation. One is always trying to spin ‘base’ elements into gold.
            If I remember correctly, in the East, the magic ‘lucky’ number is eight (8).

  9. Wukchumni

    Study: California fire killed 10% of world’s giant sequoias Associated Press

    Giant Sequoias were so lucky compared to their XXXXL tall coastal redwood cousins-Sequoia Sempervirens, 5% of the former were cut down-while 95% of the latter met their fate via blade-many to become a full deck of discards.

    It was part tyranny of distance, combined with the wood not being of much use for anything that saved Giant Sequoias from the ax, but now that same distancing makes it devilish to protect them. The only way to fight the flames in Sequoia groves last summer was via aerial assault.

    The photo in the link is from the Board Camp grove, which before the Castle Fire laid waste to it was an incredibly difficult grove to access, as a warren of downed wood, duff and impenetrable bush not to mention poison oak barred the way-but not now, not that there’s any reason to visit a tree cemetery chock full of charred tombstones.

    What the article doesn’t mention is the mortality rate in the groves consumed by fire, the unfortunates groves south of us had 30-40% mortality rates or higher, and the lay of the land, flora & fauna are no different than all of the nearly 80 groves all on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.

    Aside from cleaning out the groves and leaving a 200 foot moat of nothing burnable all the way to the periphery to bring back conditions to what they were like before we first laid eyes on them, there isn’t much else you can do to save the Brobdingnagians, and even this might not be of help if the flames are carried by wind, but we must try.

  10. Toshiro_Mifune

    Darth Vader and Stormtroopers Attend U.S. Military Ceremony

    From the article;
    Aside from a base in Africa that flew the flag of the Rebel Alliance, the Pentagon overwhelmingly loves to front for the Empire.
    Not sure if they completely missed the point or are being incredibly honest.

  11. Isotope_C14

    Anthony Fauci urges China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers –

    I’ve been looking through the full PDF of the email batch, buzzfeed put up the whole thing. I’d sure like to know about those pages of absolutely redacted messages with Christian Drosten, Eddie Holmes, and particularly Ron Fouchier who apparently created a killer influenza strain. One of the mail participants was from a NGO called Wellcome, he doesn’t appear to have any scientific expertise. Why would you need him in the earliest days of a pandemic? His NGO does appear to have a bunch of contact to the Bill and Melinda foundation.

    This mail looks like a who’s who of “Lets get our story straight” so we don’t lose tons of funding.

    I find AP’s theory a bit of a stretch – did these vacationers also visit Iran? They had a huge number of cases early on. Do we have any evidence of genetic similarity between the bat coronaviruses from Palau to the strains worked on at Wuhan and UNC?

    This trove of e-mail demands greater scrutiny.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The AP theory is vacationers before Dec led to the Wuhan cluster. His theory is no less bad than any other. The current theory assumes Wuhan>Iran. His does not obviate that and could support other Indonesia>Iran vectors.

      He also provided links to reports of mystery flus at US nursing homes in summer 2019 (off season) that were respiratory, more lethal, and oddly not investigated. We’ve had at least 3, maybe as many as 7, separate readers say they got something Covid-like in December 2019 or earlier.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Yes, those summer nursing home cases are *very* interesting. They were in reasonable proximity to UNC if I recall correctly. Sure would be interesting to get the visitor log or to see if any of those deaths had relatives that were employed at the University.

        After seeing Baric’s name and Shi in the “Gain of Function” pdf in the Fauci emails, with the warning, I can nearly guarantee they were shipping different virus back and forth to each other. Collaborators do this often as they will have different specialties between research groups. One perhaps has an LC-MS or other equipment, while the other has the BSL-4 licence, it can even be decided based on the specialties within the group, like if you have an expert tissue-culture technician.

        It is a far more likely explanation that two different groups were working with an unknown in BSL-2 and it got out because they were being careless, or didn’t realize the strain was on it’s way to full-fledged human pathogen. It’s entirely plausible that one area had an earlier release than the other, perhaps those summer cases were from one of the early variants, and didn’t spread as well.

        I feel any temporal spread hypothesis is severely limited by the fact that only limited testing was even possible before Dec 2019. The stored samples, and the Italian case of COVID related skin issues in November 2019 show clearly that there was at least some community spread in October, and I’m guessing earlier. Mommy doctors are pretty excellent at diagnosis, and my sister is quite sure that it ran through their house in November 2019, so it was very probably in the Bay area already as well.

        Here’s to hoping we get the Chinese to spill the beans in our lifetime! I’m suspecting Baric will never admit to it, nor will the University help, as it’s not in their best interest to lose their cut of such big grant money.

      2. Lee

        “We’ve had at least 3, maybe as many as 7, separate readers say they got something Covid-like in December 2019 or earlier.”

        I had Covid-like symptoms for several weeks starting in January, 2020, as did other members of my household. FWIW, I’d gotten that season’s flu shot. Also FWIW, I had a serological Covid anitbody test in May 2020. It was negative. And so we proceed onward through the fog of our uncertainties.

        1. Laura in So Cal

          All 3 members of my family had a weird illness in January 2020 as well. “Something” worked its way thru my husband’s workplace in late December 2019 thru January 2020. Several people developed pneumonia.
          Our family doesn’t usually get the flu vaccine. and we often get the flu each year. This was NOT like any flu we’ve ever had.

          Each of us missed several days of work/school, but we must have stopped the virus in our nose as none of us developed lower respiratory symptoms

          1. kareninca

            I live in the Bay area. The 49 y.o. wife of a fellow volunteer of mine died on Jan. 19th, 2020. She was from China and had just been there; she had no preexisting conditions. She had sudden respiratory problems and then went into heart failure; it was over in a matter of days. She died here, and got excellent medical care, but it wasn’t enough. I would imagine that was a covid case.

        2. Isotope_C14

          An antibody test is only good if the antigen was part of the pool of samples used in the test creation.

          We had a cardio doc who had all the major symptoms but always tested negative.

          I think it is poorly understood, especially with journalists, that science is seldom exact, and usually a best guess.

          A real diagnosis needs to be made with ample data, and sometimes our best testing method is insufficiency robust,

          Medicare for all would help, if people had easy doctor access most of this would have been solved as someone would have at least sequenced whatever strain you had.

          I suspect there were a number of early strains that are essentially gone from the active virus pool as they didn’t infect many people.

      3. NotThePilot

        I have family (outside the US) that thinks they may have come down with it around Dec 2019, though they also say the symptoms don’t necessarily match 100%.

        He also provided links to reports of mystery flus at US nursing homes in summer 2019 (off season) that were respiratory, more lethal, and oddly not investigated.

        Through all of this talk over where COVID started, I have a similar anecdote that makes me wary that anyone has a clear idea yet. It’s just something a random person (in the Midwest) told me so I don’t read too much into it, but they were very plain-spoken and definitely didn’t give off any sort of conspiratorial vibe. I think the way they put it when I first said, “wait, what?” was “I know, not what they’re reporting in the news right now, but yeah.”

        Long story short, they said their entire family got it in fall of 2019, and that it put their spouse out of commission for weeks. They went on to say everyone probably caught it from a family member that worked at one of the major, local hospitals. Apparently around late summer / early fall 2019, a really nasty respiratory infection just swept through the place. The doctors couldn’t diagnose it so they ultimately just treated it as bronchitis, and it even killed a lot of people in the cancer ward.

        So I’m honestly not forming any opinion on where COVID came from. I personally lean against the lab-leak theory (Chinese or otherwise). Besides the lack of strong evidence so far, I have a very rough heuristic, based on limited personal experience, that real scientists and scientific research are almost never as… superpowered (?), for good or ill, as the public and media make them out to be.

        I find AP’s theory a bit of a stretch – did these vacationers also visit Iran? They had a huge number of cases early on.

        Personally, I think focusing on Iran to get to the bottom of COVID is a huge red-herring. The Western media’s coverage of Iran is so weird and selective that it’s practically useless on the surface. Especially Reuters. I guess the Reuter family still had a lot of influence on the organization as a whole & also still thought they were the rightful owners of 1/2 of the entire country.

        Anyways, I’ve heard a couple other anecdotes (along with my sense of the geopolitics) that make me think decades from now, when the hard facts have finally shaken out, it will turn out that Egypt probably got bulldozed by COVID harder than anyone in the region.

      4. Fern

        Re: “IIRC in Nov, a bit later the story said that they (and others) had tested negative for Covid antibodies in early 2020”

        The report that three lab workers were very ill with respiratory disease is significant if true. It wasn’t reported by the lab, but apparently by a foreigner — I think I read a Dutch person — who was familiar with what was going on. *If* this is true, it is very significant. It would be an extreme cover-up for the lab not to have reported it. In addition, the lab quickly took down all of the vast collection of sequences that they had previously posted, with the lame excuse that the site had been “hacked”. And they won’t let anyone examine the lab notes, records, etc.

        Again, all of this points to a major cover-up. Given this, you certainly can’t put any credence in their statement that everyone in the lab tested negative for antibodies in early 2020.

        The lab escape theory remains quite viable. Some people might lean towards a rare natural evolution event like the one imagined by reader AP. That is simply the natural evolution hypothesis that no scientist that I know has discounted. Again, the point is not that a natural evolution event was impossible, the point is that there are a number of compelling reasons to look at the lab escape hypothesis as well.

        These include:
        1) According to the best evidence available at this time, the outbreak first occurred in Wuhan, far from bat caves. Of course this doesn’t preclude the possibility that someone brought the disease back to Wuhan without infecting anyone else along the way.

        2) The outbreak occurred in one of only three cities where dangerous work with this type of virus was taking place, i.e., collecting massive numbers of potentially dangerous strains from bats and also doing gain of function experiments on them. Either activity could have been responsible for a lab escape.

        3) The lab was known to be using very lax safety protocols.

        4) There have been many dangerous pathogen lab escapes in the past.

        Again, either natural evolution or lab escape is possible. I would just add that knocking down the theory that the disease was acquired by the eating of bats in China doesn’t say too much. No one I know of maintains that the disease was acquired through the eating of bats. That would be one of the dozens of mechanisms that could explain natural evolution — and perhaps an unlikely one since the disease is not foodborne nor was the bat necessarily the animal that directly transferred it to humans. One very interesting fact is that a group of workers shoveling bat guano in a bat cave came down with a similar disease with a deadly outcome and that the samples were brought back to the Wuhan lab. This fact could be used to argue for either natural evolution or lab escape, I would think.

        1. flora

          Thank you for representing the Enlightenment principles of scientific investigation.

      5. R

        The AP theory has some big holes. If there is a reservoir of zoonotic disease on Palau etc, why have we not seen outbreaks before? It’s not like it’s undiscovered country for tourism. And, from what we know, we should see outbreaks seeded all the way back to Wuhan and the viral clock running from the first outbreak. Instead, we see / China shows us a major outbreak in Wuhan with single initial strain.

        Now, to be fair to the AP theory, it is actually quite hard to start an outbreak. The law of small numbers means that they fizzle out. Remember that R has a dispersion parameter and the SARScov2 it is over-dispersed: crudely Rnought of 4 means that 3 patients will infect nobody and 2 patients will infect 10 people each ((10+10)/5=4). And in a small and socially isolated household, there is no chance for Rnought to show its true powers and it will just infect a couple of people. The outbreak will stutter along until it hits a well connected population (like Shincheonji in Korea).

        If we are considering putative outbreaks before/beyond Wuhan, I’m interested in the suggestion that the outbreak of vapers’ lung in the US might have been SARS-cov-2. Frankly, it sounds unlikely, but I would like to see some papers ruling it out.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What I remember reading about “vaper’s lung” is that it did not afflict nicotine-vapers. It only afflicted THC-vapers. Apparently there was some kind of VitaminE-type oil or something like that in the THC-vapes. But that’s just memory.

      6. b4real

        Color me as someone who believes the U.S. government is always lying and any claim it makes must be backed up by physical proof. I’m of the belief that along with the strange nursing homes mystery flus’ you mentioned, combined with the (all but forgotten) vaping disease which happened in the same time frame were one and the same.

        Chinese government said early on it came out of Ft. Detrick. I think this is the truth. There were very few secrets being kept from the Chinese until recently. Feinsteins maid was a spy, Swalwell with his chinese girlfriend…. Imagine the infiltrations that we are unaware of. Can’t blame them though, really after the Snowden disclosures?

        I also believe that both the U.S. and China are culpable, cuz US was using China to skirt the ban on gain of function research…but they are at the pointing fingers stage of the blame game.

        Lancet about to lose what credibility it had left by putting Daszak in charge of finding the origin.

    2. Carolinian

      This mail looks like a who’s who of “Lets get our story straight” so we don’t lose tons of funding.

      Surely the point about the lab leak theory is not so much whether it did happen but rather that it could have happened. Which is to say that scientists doing highly dangerous experiments in order to get grant funding should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

      When they were creating the atomic bomb at Los Alamos there was an experiment called “tickling the dragon’s tail.” A small amount of radioactive material would be dropped through a larger piece to momentarily create a critical mass and take measurements. These gain of function experiments sound similar and perhaps it’s time for scientists to stop trying to play god (or Frankenstein) with experiments where mistakes can be world shaking.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Well said Carolinian,

        I gotta say, lets say someone is labeling eppendorf tubes. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 – (This happens all the time) and for whatever reason, tube 6 is showing the desired traits, but you stuck it in the freezer and forget about it for a month. Lets say you are supposed to send tube 6 out of the freezer, but you forget and pick 9. 6 is 9 upside down and vice versa.

        There is no real biosafety in labs. I will not be silent about this fact. At best there is biosafety mitigation, at extreme best.

        There should be a permanent freeze on sending pathogens, potential pathogens, or unknown virus through UPS, FedEx, or as I’ve seen before, the US mail…

        1. flora

          Oddly enough, I’d trust the US Mail over the other carriers named. Maybe that trust is from my earlier years’ experience when the US Mail would deliver sound and unharmed chicks and other farm necessities, among other vital ‘flyover country’ necessities. But that was then, before the L. DeJoy-type management took control of the USPS. sigh….

        2. flora

          Oddly enough, I’d trust the US Mail over the other carriers. Maybe that’s from my earlier days’ experience when the US Mail would deliver sound and unharmed delicate chicks and other farm necessities to ‘flyover’ country. But that was then, before the L. DeJoy-type management took control. sigh….

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      From a very long and detailed article by Katherine Eban:

      The NSC investigators found ready evidence that China’s labs were not as safe as advertised. Shi Zhengli herself had publicly acknowledged that, until the pandemic, all of her team’s coronavirus research—some involving live SARS-like viruses—had been conducted in less secure BSL-3 and even BSL-2 laboratories.

      In 2018, a delegation of American diplomats visited the WIV for the opening of its BSL-4 laboratory, a major event. In an unclassified cable, as a Washington Post columnist reported, they wrote that a shortage of highly trained technicians and clear protocols threatened the facility’s safe operations. The issues had not stopped the WIV’s leadership from declaring the lab “ready for research on class-four pathogens (P4), among which are the most virulent viruses that pose a high risk of aerosolized person-to-person transmission.”

      When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Capitalism dictates that I get a different job every 1-3 years due to grant funding. I’ve seen every sort of awful from BSL-1 to BSL-2. I never worked in BSL-3, but I did work for a guy for a year who desperately wanted a BSL-3 lab. Why? Because it was a higher number. There was literally no other reason. His lab space was absolutely incompatible for BSL-3 with the architecture of the building. It also should have never been declared BSL-2, it had cracks in the walls, building was made in the 50’s and it had windows that didn’t seal correctly. I’m sure it’s still BSL-2, and that is horrifying cause I was growing St. Louis Encephalitis there. Hopefully they hired someone qualified after I left, but I sincerely doubt it.

        First-hand, the USA and Germany seldom have the appropriate airflow or construction to ensure BSL-2 conditions in a given lab space. This is everywhere in supposed “safe” laboratory spaces.

        I’ve mentioned this before, students also ignore biosafety. Seen them have sandwiches and their water bottle is always handy. That whole youth immortality thing is real in their heads.

    4. R

      Wellcome is not just any NGO, it is the richest biomedical charity in the UK and possibly the world. It has major alt asset investments in lifesciences VC, among its many assets, which supports its grant giving. Jeremy Farrar is quite Establishment but I believe he has a science background and he has managed Wellcome long enough to get the measure of scientists. I’d keep him over Bill Gates any day.

  12. Henry Moon Pie

    Farming methods–

    The mainstream is beginning to wake up to de-growth perhaps:

    Small-scale mixed-use agriculture that avoids synthetic fertilizers in favor of manure could eliminate agricultural greenhouse gas emissions if established across the United States’ 100 million hectares of lush high quality cropland, according to a study by Gidon Eshel, publishing 3rd June 2021 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

    This is Chris Smaje’s point in his book A Small Farm Future. This is a link to Smaje’s page that includes his writing and a number of reviews of A Small Farm Future.

  13. Mikel

    RE: Prof. Pagel Tweet

    I totally understand her point. But who is her audience? “Delta” means nothing to most people.

    And her 2nd part of the tweet should have been the 1st part of the info that has to be dished out in soundbite type format on Twitter. It contains the meat of the information she is trying to share:

    “We *might* have been able to limit its spread then but it was “no firm evidence” & it kept growing.

    Instead we *now* have evidence that delta is (a lot) more transmissible, partially vax resistant & more severe. It’s now 80% of our cases.

    The genie is out of the bottle. 2/3″

    1. tegnost

      ” “Delta” means nothing to most people.”

      The greek alphabet thing is a distraction…which one is B117?, Which, by the way, is easy for anyone to remamber…

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Delta is what was known as the Indian varient. B117 was easy to remember, but the wierd nomenclatute meant that people were getting confused and then giving them country/regional labels, which was percieved to be unfair. The Spanish are still a bit p*ssed at having a flu named after them, especially as it actually started in the US.

  14. Alfred

    About CEOs Are The Problem. Friedman supposedly started the ball rolling by recommending sucking more money up to the top. Did this not attract people who thought greed was a good idea, and had no empathy or gratitude for workers? I can’t see any way to change the corporate dynamic with these same values. I think you probably have to have a certain reputation to even be considered for CEO. I know that in accounting, I did not have the chops to work for a corporation–I did not want to end up in jail or get hung out to dry for gray areas. Look what happened to Arthur Andersen. How are you going to get rid of this firmly entrenched culture? People want to get rich, they don’t care how, and they’ll find someone to make it happen. There’s no political will either to turn off the money spigots.

    1. freebird

      You regulate. The SEC reformed the greed culture of the roaring 20s when it stepped in in the 30s. Rich and greedy folks got their hands slapped and learned to deal with new lane markers and rules or go to jail. It could be done again, it would just take a teensy bit of courage from some of the 535. They could start by just rolling back the ‘deregulation’ that started this horrible ball rolling.

      Todays article about ‘maximizing shareholder value’. Shareholders are actually pretty irrelevant. The executive suite is working for itself alone with a free hand, and the shareholders get dragged along. There are no real elections of director boards, just rubber stamping and the occasional bullshit ‘non-binding’ vote on some issue. I’ve been told a group of institutional investors who would fit in one conference room control what little influence there is on the part of shareholders, and they are all bought off sycophants.

      It starts with regulation, but it makes lasting change when prosecutors go after bad actors. Right now only the tort lawyers are any kind of check on the system.

      1. Alfred

        I think too many of the 535 are so literally invested in what has unrolled that it’s personal. They are not going to hurt themselves, friends and family by regulating any more. A lot of hand flapping and tut-tutting and bills that never get voted on, that’s all I expect from now on. Kind of like your “executive suite.” Look at all the appointments Biden made from industries that will entrench themselves even further in legislative influence.

    2. griffen

      There’s a regulatory approach, but all too often the regulators are a captured agency or they may likely receive funding indirectly from the actors they are intended to oversee. AKA, first thought is the banking regulatory structure. It’s no small surprise how consolidation after the GFC has intensified.

      Add in a lack of regulatory action at the SEC under both a D and a R admin and here is where we find ourselves. Splitting apart giant monolithic companies could be a net benefit over time.

  15. Wukchumni

    Go take a hike dept:

    My longtime backpacking buddy decided to go up an obscure road off of Hwy 395 on the western side of Owens dry lake a month ago, and convinced us rather easily to accompany him on an easy peasy couple mile backpack up Cottonwood Canyon which has Cottonwood Creek flowing right by it.

    What makes it unusual are the stately oak trees one never associates with the east side of the Sierra, along with boucoup quaking aspens & pinion pines.

    We were camped on a carpet of nearly year old acorns and some a few years old, which along with pinion nuts would make it really easy for Native Americans to earn a living there, and a few internet searches later upon my return to semper wi-fi, found this 1950 excavation of a Paiute site not far from where we were camped-not that we knew it.

    We plan to go back in October for the fall colors-ought to be glorious, along with looking for the site, which has many bedrock mortars.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Man, that report is so old that it has a long white beard on it. Maybe you guys should contact the archaeological department for that area and offer to take a series of images of that site now for their own records in case they want to take a second look one day.

      I was reading your comment about those trees and it seems like such a shame that. I don’t know what can be done except to maybe accurately geolocate those surviving trees on maps used by firefighting aircraft so they know exactly which areas need to be protected.

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m content to poke around and find what they found with 71 years later, and the canyon hasn’t burned in donkey’s ears, meaning there’s probably some of it covered up in the bush since. We’ll see.

        Many of the majestic canyon live oaks had branches extending down almost to the ground around the perimeter of the crown, i’ve never seen other oaks as droopy as these. There’s a special something to the place, giving the forest for the trees a decided toadstool look.

  16. a fax machine

    re: VTA shooting

    Two major developments have occurred: One, VTA will continue suspending all light rail services for “weeks” and “indefinitely”. Two, VTA will discontinue their bus bridge/substitute buses. VTA has effectively stopped running 1/3rd of their entire network.

    Rumors (emphasis on hearsay!) suggest a litany of reasons, such as VTA being unable to find living workers to replace the dead. Among those killed were electricians rated to work VTA’s 800v AC Overhead Catenary System that powers their trains, and apparently finding replacements is difficult because the available talent is already working for Muni and Caltrain. Worth noting, Muni was also closed for most of this year pending major power system reconstruction while Caltrain is halfway into their electrification project.

    This is very disturbing to say the least. Freeways are not closed permanently after bad accidents or mass freeway shootings, the highway patrol clear them and new maintence crews are found. I certainly don’t beilive workers should be forced back to work, but letting such critical infrastructure turn off is the sort of thing that pushes commuters into Teslas. It certainly did when Muni closed their trains for Covid. And having no replacements (if rumors are true) for electricians is also a testament to society’s failure to invest in basic tradesmanship. You’d think Silicon Valley, America’s computing hub, could find a suitable electrician to run their trains with.

    Given how VTA is amongst one of the lowest performing systems in CA it is entirely plausible that a restart does not occur. Muni sits in the same bed, although they are reopening. There’s a strong deference to bus drivers in both cases – very odd considering that SF and SJ are supposed to be filled with people that actually beilive in mass transit. No offense to bus drivers of course, since most are aware that if the light rail workers can be cancelled they can be cancelled too – as seen in the present cancelling of the replacement buses.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Silicon Valley probably has long thought that knowing how to run trains is un-hip, un-cool, un-groovy, and beneath Silicon Valley’s dignity. Silicon Valley probably regards electricians with the same disrespect with which Silicon Valley probably regards plumbers and garbage collectors and janitors.

  17. The Rev Kev

    ‘Nikkei Asia
    From Aero Engine Corporation of China to Huawei Technologies, here is the full list of Chinese companies barred from receiving U.S. investment.’

    The sub-headline in the linked article says it all – ‘Biden’s executive order aimed at hindering China’s military-industrial complex.’ So you read the list of those countries and you see that this is trying to throw a monkey wrench into Chinese development until the US has a chance to catch up. Ordinarily that would be fine but Biden now has to actually put the effort in to spur US companies to, you know, catch up. And I don’t think that that is going to happen. Those companies will want Uncle Sam to pick up the tab for ALL scientific research they do but retain exclusive rights to all patents lodged. But this story is just Biden dropping the first shoe. The second one will be where he threatens sanctions on any company in the world that does any business with those Chinese companies whatsoever-

  18. Wukchumni

    ‘Ammon Bundy coming soon.’ Federal water cutoffs igniting rebellion in Northern California SacBee
    Water is for lying over-whiskey is for lying under

    Had my first store bought Cali cherries (just $1.49 lb!) and they are intensely sweet this summer, I think on account of 95% of the nourishment being millions year old fossil water from down under, as with all other summer fruit yet to be harvested.

    I noticed the same thing in 2015, it was the best fruit I ever tasted.

    As far as water goes, we’re gonna see a lot of this happening-the eminent domaining, especially on the upper portion of the Colorado River before it gets anywhere near LV & SD. Trust me Tijuana-adjacent, you do not want to be last man charlie on this gig.

      1. Wukchumni

        .One of our 5 different varieties of peach trees is a Sun Crest, the protagonist in Masumoto’s book: Epitaph For A Peach.

        1. Judith

          I remember reading that Alice Waters thought David Masumoto’s peaches were so incredible that she would serve them unadorned for dessert in her restaurant.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        In other words, the hugest fruits are really just ugly bags of mostly-water that has been trained to sit up and speak?

  19. Tinky

    re: the Lab Leak issue

    When a supposedly objective and respected publication like The Lancet puts Peter Daszak, of all effing people, in charge of a “task force” created to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, is it any wonder why suspicions continue to be aroused?

  20. Donald

    My long posts seem to vanish in the ether. Short version—if you think the UFO story is a conspiracy to spend even more Pentagon money, than the storyline will shift towards the notion that this is the Russians or Chinese and the performance reports have been exaggerated. Because no scientist is stupid enough to think anyone could build anything that could do what some of the pilots claim to have seen.

    1. Donald

      Adding to that, the alien hypothesis is not a reason to spend gigantic sums of money because if there are craft that really can do what the pilots think they saw, it’d be like expecting Archimedes to invent a catapult that could shoot down a B-52. Only the Game of Thrones show runners would believe something like that is possible.

      For massive sums of money to be spent, the storyline has to shift to our earthly rivals.

      1. hunkerdown

        “Give me a place to stand, and a swatter long enough, and I will save the world.”

        Grant Proposals of the Classical Era, Star Wars Edition

    2. flora

      but…but… what about aliens from inner space? The Billionaires Organized to Rule the Globe, aka the BORG? / ha

  21. Pat

    Just a thought about the number of UFO stories out there, might this also be one of the results of the constriction in the news media? The last few days the blog has discussed the silence surrounding the Biden Administration. And various theories have been put forth. But be it laziness, willful ignorance, misdirection and/or anything else one thing most could agree upon was that Trump and the Resistance brought much Sturm and Drang and lots of eyeballs to the tv, the papers and lots of clicks to digital media which they are missing. And that means they need to find “safe” replacements. Be it the Kardashians and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex or yes, UFOs, the more things they can find that catch people’s interest but do not lead to controversy for our wealthiest citizens and their political tools the better. And if they distract from the BS going on in Congress even better.

    For about a decade, my immediate take when UFOs appear is what are they distracting us from?

  22. Michael Ismoe

    New York Times. Big props! The Grey Lady published furzy’s letter! A round of applause, please.

    With all due deference to furzy, appearing in the New York Times is a lot like being in porn films. It looks like fun but what if someone you know finds out? Personally, I’d rather bump uglies on film – shortcomings and all – than be associated with the NYT but it’s a close call.

  23. Wukchumni

    {adjusts Reynolds Wrap toque to a jaunty angle}

    If the worldwide jury-rigged financial system were to come undone, it’d be open scapegoat hunting season on extraterrestrials, who caused things to come a cropper, being the cover story.

    ‘Saturnians apparently hacked into Goldman Sachs’

    That sort of thing

  24. Wukchumni

    Anheuser-Busch to give away free beer when America hits its vaccination goal New York Times
    Putting skunky beer in front of the horse never got you anywhere, although it could’ve been worse, what if Keystone also offered free suds?

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Arab Islamist helps clinch Israel’s new anti-Netanyahu government”

    Some people are starting to notice the similarities between getting rid of Trump and getting rid of Netanyahu. He does not want to go and is demanding that he stays as head of the government. USA Today came out with an article called ‘What the heck is going on in Israel? The Netanyahu show looks kind of like the Trump show.’ He actually branded the coalition as a ‘dangerous left-wing government.’ You have hard right-wingers right now besieging the homes of members of the Knesset demanding that they support Netanyahu. You know what? We may see happen a large mob of right-wingers march on the Knesset and break in to occupy that building to keep Netanyahu in power. Now where have I seen that before? I think that he has developed a messiah complex myself. I think that his own personal motto is now ‘L’état Israel, c’est moi.’

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It might be simpler than messiah complex. Retaining the Prime Ministership might help him keep himself out of prison. And he may just love the game, too.

  26. Carolinian

    Re Mint Press

    Kahane’s Kach Party was banned from entering Israeli politics in 1988. But thanks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahanists are now infiltrating the halls of the Knesset (Israeli parliament).

    In the lead-up to Israel’s March election, Netanyahu pushed for a right-wing alliance with Itamar Ben-Gvir, a Kahanist, a defense lawyer for price tag campaigners, and leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party. Otzma Yehudit partnered with the anti-LGBTQ Noam Party and the National Union-Tkuma faction to form the Religious Zionism bloc in the last election. The coalition allowed the electoral list to secure six seats in the Knesset and for a Kahanist to gain political power. Rabbi Sattath pins the blame squarely on Netanyahu for Jewish supremacists’ rise in government.

    I’d say this illustrates why the departure of Netanyahu is a much bigger deal than many are making of it. Netanyahu was like the Trump of Israel with complete disregard for outside opinions while, unlike Trump, being also willing to commit extreme actions. A recent interview here said that the country is still a democracy, at least for its Jewish citizens. But surely Bibi with his dishonesty and anything goes approach to power was headed in a different direction with some defenders in this country backing almost anything he did.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Trump were intelligent, he would be like Netanyahu. And he would still be President.

      Netanyahu helped incite the Rabin assassination, among other achievements.

      1. tegnost

        Trump would be pres if he said “I’d like you to wear a mask”
        but there was a lot of stuff trump could have done, but didn’t.
        He was like the polar opposite of eleventy dimensional….
        At this point my thinking on trump is missed opportunity, mostly it’s he could have but didn’t

        1. tegnost

          I do think history will shine on trump for TPP and NAFTA…that was practically revolutionary in the environment of the time.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Killing TPP for sure, if it can be kept dead. New NAFTA? Is New NAFTA so different from the Old NAFTA? Perhaps its a step on the way to abrogating and cancelling any and every trace of NAFTA altogether.

  27. Wukchumni

    Old way of butchering: Hack apart a carcass

    New way of butchering: Hack a giant meat corporation

  28. Lee

    “Black bears may play important role in protecting gray fox PhysOrg (Chuck L). No surprise. Wolves protect foxes because wolves eat the main predator of foxes, which is coyotes.”

    Based on my own observations of predator interactions in Yellowstone, as well as related study and communication with others engaged in the field, bears don’t typically pursue and probably couldn’t catch the much quicker coyote if they did.

    An exception would during the period when coyotes have vulnerable cubs. While coyotes choose den sites away from the larger predators, they still continue to range and hunt where there are bears. I’ve seen a group of coyotes, consisting of adults and near full grown juveniles, drive a grizzly off of bison carcass that happened to be near their denning site.

    On another occasion I saw something that I could hardly believe at the time: a coyote playing with a grizzly cub for an extended period of time, while grizzly mama sat relaxed but watchful, a short distance away. Now, it might have been that the coyote was attempting to lure the bear cub out of the clearing away from mama and into the deep dark woods to kill it. But that didn’t happen in this instance.

    Wolves can and do run down and kill coyotes and in Yellowstone they have had a measurable effect in reducing their number. So far as I know, they don’t typically eat them.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Predators can have a significant effect even without direct predation.

      There was reseach a few years ago in Ireland on the rapid decline of the invasive grey squirrel and the bounceback from near extinction of the native red squirrel in large areas of the country. It was found to coincide almost exactly with the spread of pine marten, another native species recovering from near extinction. But when they crunched the numbers, they found that there was no way the number of martens around could eat enough grey squirrels to be having the observed impact on numbers.

      Closer inspection of behaviour showed that what was happening was that the presence of martens was making the grey squirrels much more nervous about leaving the trees, meaning they had less nutritition available, so having reduced fertility. The reds are smaller and can easily evade martens so are not so bothered and so were getting to the food first.

      1. Wukchumni

        Everything with legs is somebody else’s predator, except for us. (usually)

        Starting to see wild turkey roadkill, a first for me as I usually only see dead ones frozen & wrapped in plastic in the meat aisle.

        Between my better half & I we’ve witnessed 4 Johnny Turks toes up.

        I should have seen many thousands of California Quail by now, but i’m stuck in single digits, i’m pretty sure the turkeys thru their sitskreig tactics took over, with the propagandist gobbles triumphant.

  29. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Government Report Finds No Evidence U.F.O.s Were Alien Spacecraft”

    Considering that ufo/uap sightings have been reported throughout recorded history and noting the high strangeness/weirdness/variability that is evolved life [ eg., ], perhaps ufo/uap is a highly evolved intelligent planetary life form not yet categorized.

    1. km

      Note that astronomers don’t seem to be spotting UFOs, so if the recently reported phenomena were really associated with interplanetary visitors, what would make them visible here but not in space?

    2. Tom Stone

      I ran across the idea that UFO’s are life forms in the 1970’s, another theory was that they came from alternate universes.
      Allegedly the math worked better for that than for FTL travel.

      The retired airline pilot who related his encounter to me is someone whose integrity I do not doubt.
      Two off his wing in formation.for minutes, visibility unlimited.
      And as has been noted, foo fighters and before that many other reports of unexplained aerial phenomena.
      For those who find anomalies interesting I believe the Fortean Society is still around, Charles Fort was quite… highly individuated.
      To put it mildly.

      1. ambrit

        Fort and, later, Jacques Vallee.
        I recommend Vallee’s “Passport to Magonia” and “The Invisible College.”
        “Invisible College”:
        (As has become increasingly obvious, Google no longer serves it’s “customer base,” but it’s advertisers. For both books, I had to scroll into the third page before I found any mentions of either not explicitly associated with a sales site.)
        Both books are available in free downloadable PDF formats.

  30. Wukchumni

    Devils Advocate Dept:

    Lets say this drought has legs and lasts another 5 years, forcing an exodus of the southwest, with the resultant cry: ‘Go East Young Man!’

    And seeing as you can’t take it with you and a domicile is worth nothing sans water, there’d be one heck of a lot of lack of equity refugees about to ingratiate themselves to the locals who were already fed up with well off Californians raising real estate values in the other 49 states so locals couldn’t afford them, now they’d be getting the pauperazzi…

    1. Carolinian

      We Easterners welcome you to our soggy terrain. You may find the Smokies a letdown after Mt. Whitney but on the other hand you’ll have better access to Dollywood so it’s all good.

      Should say that California tags are a rarety around here but I am seeing more of them. Think most of our influx tends to be from up North.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It all depends on what you want from your mountains. The Smoky Mountains are ancient mountains of an ancient power. They were the first thing I thought of when I saw some photographs of the Ural Mountains, which might also be fascinating in their own way.

        I have read that the Southern Appalachians and especially the Smokies are the world diversity center for lungless plethodont salamanders. I doubt Mount Whitney can say that.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        One thing I read about Dollywood is that on a less visited part of the property is an experimental planting of American Chestnut tree seedlings ( perhaps bigger than seedlings by now) as part of an ongoing search for blight tolerance or blight resistance. If I were to visit Dollywood, that is part of what I would want to be sure to see.

        Here is an article noting the presence of Dollywood in Chestnut preservation and recovery efforts.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have thought about that over the years. If I want to avoid the onslaught of 20 million California refugees, where in America would I want to live? What parts of America seem so drab and uninteresting to Californians that no Californian would ever want to live there? Arkansas? Oklahoma?

      ” Welcome to Kansas, the Gateway to Nebraska”. Maybe Nebraska. Maybe that’s where I should retire to.

  31. John Beech

    Tories v Labor. Republicans vs. Democrats. Haves vs. have nots. The former’s argument boiled down is always . . . there’s not enough for everybody. And when you do the math by communist-rules, e.g. take everything from the rich to ‘share it’ with the poor, it turns out there’s really not enough for anybody!

    Put another way, if you take the USD$10T (10,000,000,000,000) owned by the 700 richest Americans and divide by 330,000,000 citizens, e.g. share and share alike, or divvy it up, there’s not a lot of money after all (~$30,000 each). Moreovver, I suspect inside 10 years, fewer that 1000 people own 75% of everything once again. Bet a milkshake I’m right.

    And how long does $30K last you? Long enough to retire? So, wanna divvy up and share your 401(k) so all your fellow Americans get about $30K, e.g. let’s start over? Doesn’t this kind of decide if you vote Tory or Labor, Republican or Democrat. Anyone seriously disagree?

    Regarding woke Democrats; they talk shit (kumbaya) but push come to shove I notice Biden is talking down the corporate tax increase (and may deal for a ‘lower’ rate, to get his so called ‘infrastructure’ bill, we no longer hear anything regarding Medicare For All, and I predict the $15 minimum wage will be waited out (as the inexorable rules of supply and demand grind their way toward a real world accommodation/resolution because of the reality, which is, the whole country doesn’t have a unified cost of living. You watch, this is how it’ll play out.

    1. flora

      It’s not the marginal amount shared out that’s important, it’s leaving all that money in the hands of very few skews our politics. The point is reducing the political control a handful exert over a nominally democratic country. imo. Share out the “money is the mother’s milk of politics” to the many and reduce the near monopoly political control by a few, aka ‘the donors’.

      We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

      – Justice Louis D. Brandeis

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Stopping the steady up-distribution of lower class wealth to the upper class and stopping the privatization of public wealth to the profitization class through New Deal Era tax-restoration, and keeping that tax regime in force for decades, would allow the lower class majority to re-enrich itself and re-stabilize itself over decades of time.

      That’s deeper and farther reaching than a one-time dividing up of all the static snapshot-dollars existing at any one instant in time.

  32. Verifyfirst

    Oh my–there are redactions in the Fauci e-mails? Say what? What possibly classified item could the “good doctor” have been speaking of?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Funny in that video how they talk about disconnecting insecure devices from the internet as a solution but do not talk about mandating that all devices be actually more secure in the first place. One solution is not to have devices go out the factory with a default password built in that is something like ‘1234’. That would be a big help.

  33. Wukchumni

    I always figured you see lots just walking around and being observant, and Wonderhussy is really good at noticing the underbelly, she’s got a knack.

    Hardly anybody has a mask on last Saturday and Las Vegas is back in business and hopefully whatever gets contracted there-stays there.

    RETURN OF VEGAS: A Walk Around the Newly Reopened Post-pandemic Strip

    1. RMO

      Down to under 200 cases in the past 24 hours here in BC – so double the peak of the first wave last year. Yay? I’m still wearing an N95 when I go shopping (a mask is still mandatory too) and, at least in our local area, mask use is 100% less the very occasional person who uses it as a chin sling. I’ll drop my precautions when the 24 hour new case numbers are consistently in the single digits. My 80+year old Mum just got her second vaccination shot yesterday, far ahead of what the original schedule was which is good news. Just had a middle aged and healthy friend (with the first vaccination shot) catch and die of Covid, which is bad news, obviously.

  34. Matthew G. Saroff

    Gates reactor is worse than you think.

    First it uses Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) which can be used to make a nuclear weapon. (Pretty much anything over 10% can be).

    Second it uses a molten sodium coolant, which has been tried before, and ALWAYS (and I mean that literally) leaked.

    Molten sodium is highly flammable and potentially explosive. (Also, it is designed to produce massive amounts of plutonium, though this is supposed to be burned up almost immediately, it’s a traveling wave reactor).

    Third, Bill Gates is already ¾ of the way to being a Bond Villain, and we are giving him HEU?

    I’m just glad that I am far away from the reactor site.

    1. RMO

      The process of enriching the Uranium also produces a lot of nasty waste – though apparently this design is supposed to use only a small amount to initiate the reaction. I wouldn’t devote any extra worry to that since any Uranium fission reactor is going to produce Plutonium anyways and it’s a far netter nuclear explosive than U235. Which is not to say it doesn’t worry me, just that my level of worry is already pretty high.

      Breeding and consuming at the same time seems a remarkably ambitious goal, especially considering the decades of conspicuous failure of breeder reactors.

    2. Maritimer

      “Good evening, NUKO support.”
      “Hey, we seem to be having an overheating problem here.”
      “Fine, let me just check your record…………It seems we haven’t received this month’s support payment……….”
      “Well, I don’t know about that. It’s 2AM and this is an EMERGENCY!”
      “Ok, I’ll put you though to my supervisor………….”

  35. fumo

    “Marjorie Taylor Greene among GOP members marking Pride month with bill to ban rainbow flag at embassies Independent”— I was quite surprised to see a rainbow flag flying over the US Consulate building in Florence, Italy in 2019. I had to be there twice, about a month apart, and it was flying both times, this obviously under Trump.

  36. drumlin woodchuckles

    Before I read the ” American money entwined with Jewish terrorist groups” article, I will venture the purely speculative prediction that while some of the money is no doubt coming from rich Likud-lovers, some of it is also coming from Rapture Design Engineering Christian groups seeking to advance the War of Armageddon, the End of Days, and the Return of Christ.

    After I read the article, I will see if I was right or wrong.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, I was wrong. This article is about money strictly coming from Jewish Likud-lovers and Kahane-lovers. Nothing about rapturanian armageddonites.

      Maybe someone else has studied that subject to see if it exists or not.

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